Ric's Blog

Evidence Of A Divine Being

Posted on: 10/18/2015

    Mankind has debated the existence of a higher and divine being since the advent of thought itself.  Of course, such beliefs are based on faith and faith alone.  If in fact, there exists such an entity, it has chosen so far not to reveal itself.  So we are left to look for evidence of its existence by the reality of the world we live in.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog have been blessed to have known several breathtakingly beautiful women in our, to date, long life.  When one comes across such a woman who is without flaw and possessed of truly perfect form and shape, it seems to suggest only a higher being could be responsible for its creation and existence.  To us, it seems improbable that such an example of the perfect female form could just be an accident and not the result of some intelligent happenstance.  The same argument could be raised with regard to the creation of great art.  When confronted with the genius of an artist such as Leonardo Da Vinci, it becomes difficult to assume this is due to pure randomness, as opposed to intelligent design.  The same could be argued with regard to music, and particularly the playing of the electric guitar.  In today's world only one musician exemplifies the necessary genius to play the instrument to the absolute highest level of perfection.  That person is John Mayer.  Therefore, we boldly submit that Mayer's out of this world skill level is compelling evidence of the existence of a divine being.  For support, we offer his live performance of his composition "Gravity", in particular, the 8 minute and 25 second version readily available on You Tube.  Mayer hits notes with his playing that no previous guitar player has ever been able to achieve. It is beyond brilliant in its tonal essence.  It is simply so definitively pleasing to our sense of hearing, that it only can exist due to some divine energy at play.  This is NOT to suggest that Mayer himself is God or even God-like, but rather that some divine force is channeled through Mayer's being that allows him to play in the manner he does.  Take a few minutes to listen to the particular version of "Gravity" cited above and let us know whether you agree.  RZ

Janet Jackson - Legendary Rock Star

Posted on: 10/11/2015

    Every year about this time the people who determine who gets into the Cleveland, Ohio Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame embarrass themselves once again with their annual nominations.  This year, despite overwhelming odds to the contrary, they achieved a new low with their nomination of former pop star, Miss Janet Jackson.  Jackson's nomination to the HOF makes as much sense as a future nod to Tiny Tim, who must be breathless in anticipation of his potential future nod.  Janet Jackson is to Rock music what Mickey Klutz is to baseball.  (Look him up, baseball fans).  Jackson is to Rock music what the Edsel is to cars.  Or Doonesbury is to the Nobel Prize for literature.  Jackson NEVER recorded a single rock tune in her long career.  She never sang a single Rock musical note.  Her nomination is a crude insult to legitimate rock artists.  It is simply  a nod to commercialism and a deeply pathetic gesture to make the show more palatable and relevant to a vasty declining audience.  Rock 'n Roll music IS Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.  It IS NOT Frankie Avalon and especially NOT Janet Jackson.  There crass decision makers make a mockery of an art form that deserves respect.  Or as Woody Allen once said, "A sham of a mockery, a mockery of a sham".  Very appropo Mr. Allen.  Legitimate deserving members of the Hall have been sold out too many times in the name of crass greed with zero regard for who actually should be in.  Shame on them once again, until at least next year, when it might be your year, Tiny Tim.  RZ


Posted on: 10/04/2015

    We have changed our opinion.  We are talking about one of the most frequently played and most popular shows on the Paladia television network, namely "Later...With Jools Holland".  Mr. Holland has some major music credentials across the pond and, without question, has serious chops on the keyboard.  Notwithstanding, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog find him a bit goofy in his hosting duties. Most of his shows feature a bunch of vastly mediocre, but original music acts from his native country. But on occasion, there is a gem in the basket.  One thing is certain, if you are a working musician in a British original band that plays gigs, your time will come on Jools' television show.  And this is precisely why we have changed our mind.  The opportunity for British bands to receive this kind of exposure is simply magnificent.  To be viewed as an up and coming band is invaluable to the development of a band.  It begs the obvious question.  Why is there not a similar outlet here in the United States?  Much credit should be given to Mr. Holland, as he is the brainstorm behind this novel concept.  His efforts keep progressive music alive and well in the UK.  The circular stage he employs to position his bands keeps things moving swiftly as well.  A very large soundstage is necessary to accomplish this, but my favorite part of the show's presentation is the initial introduction of all the bands, positioned on stage like pieces of a very large pie.  Of course, the pie is littered with an occasional famous American act, such as "Alabama Shakes" or Laura Nyro, who were both great.  So Kudos to Jools Holland for all that he does to promote Rock music.  Maybe we should pitch this idea to someone here in the States.  Done right, it would be a major boost to the creation of more American original rock bands.  RZ

The Future of Rock 'n Roll

Posted on: 09/20/2015

    The music of Rock 'n Roll no longer rules the roost of modern music.  Sadly, it has been replaced from being at the head of the class to being a side genre that few young people listen to much any more.  This has been dictated by the major influence of MTV which no longer feeds the masses the revolutionary Rock music missives.  Previously, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog have written of the American government policy to minimize the significance of Rock music in order to stifle dissent.  The brain numbing beats of Electronic Dance Music are at the front of the pack in terms of influence and significance.  The revolutionary poetry of Rock has been replaced by the vanilla script of Taylor Swift who laments about her inability to maintain a relationship or the modern moronic ramblings of Miley Cyrus who glorifies the new sexuality of lesbianism and homosexuality.  The latter being the social status preferred and favored by our current government.  But no matter how hard the government tries, they can not kill Rock 'n Roll.  It shall always remain, at least for the current future, a musical force favored by creative people and played underground in little venues across the land.  Advocates of Rock were bolstered recently by a FaceBook video which featured a 5 year old girl singing and playing lead guitar to Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water".  Her bandmates were her equally young family members on drums, bass and keyboards.  The youthful project was created by their father who scurries around them making technical adjustments on the fly.  The joy from the kids demonstrates the survival mode of Rock music.  They can stomp it down but NEVER will they wipe it clean from a free people.  Here in South Florida, the popularity of Rock music is firmly underground, but our spirits are buoyed by the emergence a 14 year old boy Rock guitarist and his 11 year old drummer sister, both of whom keep the flame alive. There will always be kids who defy convention and play the old Rock 'n Roll music for two simple reasons.  It 's just so good to listen too and so very much fun to play. RZ

Most Underrated Guitarist

Posted on: 09/13/2015

    Who is the most underrated American guitar player?  Who is that musician who performs with consistent brilliance and toils in relative obscurity?  It happens to be a player pretty much unknown to most music fans, but well known to those who play the instrument.  This award could be named after Roy Buchanan, who also toiled virtually unknown, but whose talent was known to other guitar players. We are talking about Mike Campbell, who has been the driving musical force behind Tom Petty & 'The Heartbreakers'.  There are some facts about Campbell which aptly give insight as to who he is.  First of all, he has been married to the same woman for 41 years.  Now that is not an ingredient of a great musician, but it does suggest loyalty.  Therefore, it is not surprising that he has been the central player with 'The Heartbreakers' for 40 consecutive years.  That alone makes him a rarity in the history of Rock guitarists.  Campbell was born in Panama City, Florida which is located in the state's panhandle and is home, each year, to thousands of young visitors to its white, sandy beaches.  (Remember to bring the sunscreen).  Campbell has been involved in writing many of the Petty hits over the decades, but it is his tasteful tones which make him so notable.  One of the qualities of his playing which must be noted, is his uncanny ability to never waste a note.  He is an absolute master of volume control, tone and melody.  It is not surprising that Campbell lists Scotty Moore as his number 1 guitar musical influence.  Regular readers of the Ric Zweig Blog are well aware of Moore and his historic contributions to the development of the instrument.  Any chance to see the Petty band live should be taken advantage of.  Campbell never fails to shine.  Our favorite recorded example of Mike Campbell's genius would be his guitar lead at the conclusion of "Running Down A Dream".  The producers were wise to allow Campbell's lead to last for an extended period of time.  It serves as a perfect example of his exceptional talent.  RZ

VMA Debacle

Posted on: 09/06/2015

    This year's version of the Video Music Awards (VMAs), presented by MTV, was the worst example of what parades as popular music these days.  New lows were set by the music itself and the vapid personalities that masquerade as artists.  First of all, not a single performer played live.  That's right, you read it right, not a single one.  The reasons for this are obvious. First of all, the performers simply do not possess the musical chops to do so, and secondly the audience is too stupid and uninformed to know the difference.  Even the quality of the lip-synching was embarrassingly shameful forcing the camera shots to continuously cut away to hide the humorous failures.  The spectacle resembled an old Japanese movie from the 50s where the audio failed to even remotely be linked to the video. Don't these people have any shame at all?  Obviously not.  These performers are not even remotely talented.  Chosen by random by MTV for what they perceive to be their visual attractiveness.                 The cause of racism and hatred of Black people was substantially advanced by 2 performers in particular, namely the gutter ghetto theatrics of Nicki Minaj and the talent and height challenged charleton, Kanye West.  West was presented some special award which afforded him the opportunity to waste 11 minutes of air time pontificating on a variety of topics none of which made any coherent sense.  The obviously stoned West came across both arrogant and ignorant and represents the worst example of why so many White people have racist attitudes towards Black People.  Every third word out of West's mouth was 'bro'.  That's his definition of cool.  It's our definition of ignorance. Minaj even outdid the diminutive West, using her award speech, to launch a verbal tirade against show host Miley Cyrus, calling her 'bitch' on live TV.  Cyrus had the class to let it go.  Minaj could take credit for the tens of thousands of American Black teenage girls, who on the following Monday, used the invective in the halls of high schools across the land, thus advancing the cause of young whites who manifest hatred toward Blacks.  Let me be clear.  We at the Ric Zweig Blog deplore racism of any kind, but these 2 Black performers do more to engender racism than any unknown White trailer park trash.  The one redeeming aspect of the show was Minaj's dress which aptly demonstrated her amazingly bodacious physique.  We are not possessed of knowledge as to whether her booty is real or not, but who cares.  A special VMA should be presented to the plastic surgeon responsible for that work, for it is truly the 8th wonder of the modern world.  RZ

Who Is The Greatest And Best American Musician Of All Time?

Posted on: 08/30/2015

    Writing these 'best' columns is a safe bet to ignite discussion, arguments and controversy here at the Ric Zweig BLOG.  But it's better than arguing presidential politics especially with the Donald and Hillary taking daily potshots at each other.  To be the greatest and best of them all, the music artist in mind, would have to be totally original, innovative, influential, and responsible for changing the course of American musical history more so than any other artist.  An example, if we were writing about Jamaica, would be the choice of Bob Marley.  To reach our choice, we had to consider such candidates as George Gershwin (who was our first runner-up), Jimi Hendrix (second runner-up), as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Also in the mix were Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Elvis Presley.  But our choice for the best ever is Louis Armstrong.  The major reason to support this is Armstrong's achievement of inventing ALL modern singing.  Every single modern singer, regardless of genre, can be traced back to Armstrong.  Before he began warbling, there was NO singing by anyone that captured the attention of the American public.  It simply did not exist.  His ultimate influence and significance in the world of jazz can not be measured quantitatively.  It's significance defies measurement.  In the early portion of his career, Armstrong was the pre-eminent trumpet player in the world.  No one had his command, tone or smoothness.  A wonderful example of Mr. Armstrong's playing can be found in the instrumental "West End Blues".  With regard to his magical vocals, a wonderful example is "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans"?  It just doesn't get any better than this.  But of course, the best example of Armstrong's genius was during the golden age of Rock music a time when 'The Beatles' dominated the pop charts with their multitude of tunes.  Along comes a song which usurped them and everyone else doing music at the time.  We are talking about Louis Armstrong's monster hit, "What A Wonderful World".  This would also be our choice as the greatest American single tune of all time.  So iconic it is, it can only be compared to John Lennon's "Imagine".  Take a moment on this Sunday and listen to these 3 Armstrong tunes.  They are easily available for free on You Tube.  It will make your day a whole lot brighter.  Guaranteed.  RZ

American Ethnocentrism

Posted on: 08/23/2015

    Ethnocentrism is defined as the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture.  In the recent past, Americans, with good cause, tended to be ethnocentric with regard to their musical heritage.  After all, the blues is totally American.  So is Jazz, Country, Soul, and Dixieland.  Rock 'n roll was once pretty much exclusively American.  And then along came the lads from England, followed by 'The Stones', 'Pink Floyd' and 'Led Zeppelin'.  Soon the British groups rivaled America as to Rock music.  From there Rock spread to Australia and other English speaking countries with groups like 'AC/DC' and 'Dire Straits' gaining prominence.  Rock is now dispersed all over the world.  In America its previous dominance has been replaced by Electronic Dance Music (EDM).  Pop music, another genre which began in America, has also shadowed the worldwide advent of Rock music.  So who is the world's greatest Pop artist.  No, it is not Taylor Swift or Nicki Minaj. That would be an example of American ethnocentrism.  Our choice is a male singer from Italy that you certainly have not heard of unless you once lived in Italy.  His name is Zucchero and he has no world equal in terms of talent and national popularity.  Zucchero is best known for his vocal performance in the tune "Miserere".  This vocal does not lend itself to verbal description.  It simply must be listened to and upon doing so, will quickly become apparent that Zucchero's vocal tone and control is without match period.  So influential and powerful was this performance, that the world's greatest operatic tenor, a chap by the name of Luciano Pavarotti, sought out Zucchero asking to do a duet of the tune. We would refer our Ric Zweig Blog readers to this rendition of "Miserere" easily available free of charge on You Tube.  It will make the hair on your back stand up.  Not to be outdone, Andrea Bocelli, another great and popular Italian tenor, felt the need to also do a duet of "Miserere" with Zucchero.  A third and equally amazing version exists with all 3 of them trading off vocal parts.  Imagine that. Exposure to this music will quickly put an end to American ethnocentrism.  As in the automobile, Italy has no peer when it comes to popular music.  RZ

Best Show On TV

Posted on: 08/16/2015

    Despite the decline of music television in recent years, there is still one shining star which consistently delights music lovers.  Of course, we are talking about 'Live From Darryl's House', more commonly known as 'Darryl's House' which is filmed from the small town of Pawling, New York and is seen on the television network known as 'Paladia'.  Each episode features former 'Hall & Oates' frontman Darryl Hall, along with his regular group of music friends and a special guest who jam for 30 minutes and then eat a rather large feast.  The parts where they allegedly smoke weed to enhance these 2 most pleasurable activities are conveniently deleted from the final product that viewers see. Episode after episode features some of the finest music one can hear without a live audience other than the technical crew who record the broadcast.  A recent show featured the great Todd Rundgren, along with John and his band who travelled all the way to Hawaii to play with Todd.  The great scenery contributed to the festivities and a grand time was had by all.  The highlight of this show was the group's performance of the classic Rundgren tune "The Last Ride".  This is must listen-to music and demonstrates the brilliance of all the musicians who contributed.  Especially the singing of Todd and Darryl as well as the blistering guitar solos played by Todd Rungren.  Mr. Rundgren, who still looks great with a full head of hair, has been part of the popular rock music scene since his days leading the group 'Nazz' back in the late sixties.  His talent continues to shine on with the aforementioned diamond brilliance.  So wonderful and delightful to see that one of the good guys continues to do what he has always done.  And thanks to Darryl Hall and his gang for producing such an entertaining show. Catch it whenever you can.  We love it.  RZ

Yeah Right, Pablo Picasso

Posted on: 08/09/2015

    The lack of humility with regard to today's pop stars has no bounds whatsoever.  We have written on this topic before as it pertained to Lady Gaga and Kanye West, both of whom having totally predictable but laughably high opinions of themselves.  But a new high, or more accurately a new low, was reached this week by the once entertaining, but now pathetic, has been star known as Madonna. Think how arrogant one has to be in the first place to go by only one name.  Prince gets away with it only because of his massive talent as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer.  Jesus was yet another example, because of his singular impact on the world.  Madonna's claim to fame is her wearing of a pointed bra.  This is just so ludicrous.  This very last week, the boastful Madonna compared herself to the great impressionist painter Pablo Picasso, whose impact on the world of painting can not be over estimated.  Madonna's impact stands out as insignificant in a room full of other insignificants.  While she warrants credit for her financial achievements, her contribution as a musical artist is simply non-existent.  Historically, she must be lumped in with other insignificants of her time as Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton.  Why doesn't she just stop already?  Whether it's clumsily lurching off the stage or making ridiculous comments about her own self-evaluation, she has become a national embarrassment.  There simply is no correlation between making a lot of cash and artistic achievement.  How can she not be aware of this.  But then again she has made a career utterly linked to outrageousness and comparing herself to Picasso just continues that trend.  Enough already. Somewhere there is an old age home with a rocking chair that has your name, just one name, on it, to-wit: Madonna.  RZ

Yo Calvin, Wassup?

Posted on: 08/02/2015

    The challenge of writing a weekly Blog week after week, year after year is having something, at least mildly interesting, to write about.  Some weeks this can be truly daunting, but when in doubt, your humble scribe can always look to the world of rappers to fill the void.  And this week is no different thanks to one Calvin Broadus, who is more commonly known as 'Snoop Dog'.  It seems that Mr. Dog has been traveling lately through Europe and arrived at the Italian border, whereupon the Italian customs officials had the audacity of requiring the same Dog to fill out some pesky forms indicating what he had to declare.  As even neophyte travelers are aware, most countries have a $10,000 limit as to the amount of cash they can carry into the country without so noting any amount in excess.  The United States adheres to the ten grand limit.  Italy has a ten thousand euro limit which is equivalent to about 11 thousand dollars.  Any amount over that must be declared in writing on the official government forms provided to every traveler.  Well it seems that the aforesaid Mr. Dog had SLIGHTLY over the 10 grand euro limit.  More specifically, Snoop had $422,000 in U.S. currency which the Italian officials promptly seized.  We are without knowledge as to how old Calvin obtained this wad of cash, but sincerely hope it was the result of performance dates.  Our European legal advisor team indicates that once Italy determines the money was earned in a legitimate endeavor, it will be returned to Mr. Dog minus whatever fine is levied against the rapper for his faux pas.  Once again, another famous rapper has demonstrated the character traits of arrogance and ignorance which are so ingrained within the rapper community.  Some folks just never learn.  RZ

More Great Music

Posted on: 07/26/2015

    There was a time in the history of Rock music when some of the biggest names in the genre would come together and form 'supergroups' comprised of already well-known musicians.  Crosby, Stills & Nash joined with Neil Young to form CSN&Y.  Eric Clapton from 'Cream' joined with Stevie Winwood of 'Traffic' on several successful ventures, most notably 'Blind Faith'.  These were only 2 of many such examples.  It was the golden age of Rock, commencing in the late sixties and continuing on into the early nineties.  One such gathering was also our all-time 'supergroup' favorite.  The year was 1988 and the assemblage was called 'The Traveling Wilburys'.  Each a major star in their own right, before joining the others, the group consisted of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and England's Jeff Lynne.  This group of brilliant musicians released 2 albums, although Roy Orbison passed away before the release of the second album in 1990.  Our 2 favorite Wilbury tunes are "Handle With Care" and "End Of The Line".  Each of these tunes exhibits what a great lead singer George was.  His frustration level with 'The Beatles' must have been considerable since rarely did John and Paul relinquish the lead singing responsibilities.  Never were his distinctive vocals and brilliant lead guitar work more evident than with the Wilburys.  It could be said much the same for Petty and Lynne who are equally outstanding.  Dylan and Orbison tossed aside any ego considerations and blended in seamlessly with their notable contributions.  The 2 recordings referenced above are simply wonderful.  The video for "End Of The Line' was made very shortly after Roy Orbison's death and shows a rocking chair, empty except for a guitar that belonged to Orbison.  It illustrates a most touching tribute to their fallen comrade.  Hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the Wilburys, but many of us still remember the way it was.  RZ


Posted on: 07/19/2015

    This week's Ric Zweig Blog is one more in a series of short articles about bands we have heard of but rarely listen to.  This time it's "STYX", a Chicago based group that has been generating hits for many years.  One tune in particular, stands out as one of the greatest singles in the long history of rock 'n roll.  We are talking about, of course, 'Too Much Time On My Hands'.  The studio recorded version of this blockbuster has been around since 1981, but much more recent live versions are easily available on You Tube and qualify as absolute show stoppers.  Do yourselves a favor and check out one or more of the 5 minute live versions and hear what a truly great rock band sounds like.  It reminds us of how deep and rich the vast library of rock music is still out there to enjoy.  Although little if any new stuff is coming down the pike, one can still find these treasured old gems, heard previously, but not really appreciated until a professional, seasoned band such as "STYX" plays them live in a concert setting.  Do you agree?  Let us know.  RZ

Government Rock 'N Roll Veto

Posted on: 07/12/2015

    In this week's edition of the Ric Zweig Blog we theorize about the possibility of our Federal Government having embarked on a policy, whose result has been and continues to be, to directly emasculate rock music and make it irrelevant in the year 2015 and beyond.  There is an historical precedent for this although the actions of then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Richard M. Nixon some 45 years ago were largely unsuccessful in stemming the tide of rock's influence on American society.  The sixties were volatile times.  The fires of discontent were stoked furiously by American and British rock musicians.  Rock stars were more than just rock stars.  They were social activists whose views, opinions and attitudes heavily influenced the societal mores of that time.  Trust us, we were there.  But things are much different now.  There is no rock music to speak of, and what there is, has no impact on today's youth.  Any major changes in a society must come from its youth, and the perfect venue for such a movement, are the college and university campuses that potentially foster changes that represent a threat to the status quo.  Make no mistake, the America of today is ruled by the major corporations and Wall Street Banks that vastly control the political machinery that pretends to be in control.  Today's college students could care less.  They are too busy dancing to the music of today.  And that music is mindless Electronic Dance Music.  EDM is devoid of any social message.  There is no cry for action contained within its sound.  And so today's youth are easily controlled and lulled into a demeanor of inaction.  Rock music was born out of rebellion. Eliminate rock music and you eliminate rebellion.  And that's exactly what has happened.  Is this a coincidence or is it part of a government policy to quiet the sounds of discontent?  We suspect the latter.  Government has been largely complicit in removing the profit motive for aspiring rock musicians.  Music has no value in today's market, therefore the seeds of potential discontent are silenced.  The status quo remains just that, secure and unchallenged.  The voices are silenced and that's just what the Corporate power brokers want.  Any change must come from our college students en mass.  We just don't see this happening.  1984 is here in force.  It just came 31 years late.  RZ

50 Years Of James Taylor

Posted on: 07/05/2015

    There aren't too many artists that can claim 50 years of performing in the music business, but James Taylor, a very ripe 67 years of age, is in that very small group.  Taylor broke through to national prominence way back in the year 1970, and soon after scored massive hits with the tunes "Fire And Rain" and "You've Got A Friend".  We personally, in the past, were never been big Taylor fans, but the continued and long-standing commitment to excellence has finally worn us down and we now count ourselves as big JT fans.  This very past week, James Taylor's brand new album entitled 'Before This World' achieved number one status on Billboard Magazine's top 200 albums.  This is a truly remarkable achievement for any artist, but to do so after such a long and successful career makes it that much more amazing.  Taylor suffered from a long-standing heroin addiction that plagued him in his youth for many years.  So many others have fallen by the wayside or lost their lives to this insidious addiction, but somehow James Taylor has survived, stronger than ever.  It is our humble opinion that Taylor was just lucky to get through this.  The list of those who did not survive such a serious drug addiction is long, with Kurt Cobain and Mike Bloomfield immediately coming to mind.  But Taylor somehow continues to release high flying number 1 albums and still maintains an active concert schedule.  This musical devotion simply has to be admired.  James Taylor is the ultimate survivor.  Our favorite JT tune of all time you may ask?  We select "Copperline", a brilliant mixture of lyrics and music.  It just doesn't come much sweeter than this.  Keep on keepin' on James Taylor.  RZ

Some Of The Best, Some Of The Worst

Posted on: 06/28/2015

    We don't attend too many live Rock shows these days.  In fact, in the last 5 years, we have attended only 3 shows, namely 'Wilco', 'Kings Of Leon' and 'Alabama Shakes'.  All of whom performed admirably, although all seemed a bit weary from being too long on the road.  We began to think then, who are the best and worst live performers from all we have seen over a long lifetime.  BEST unexpected performance goes to Leslie West and 'Mountain' at 1969's Woodstock show.  Why won't they in the movie of the same name?  WORST uninspired performance goes to John Fogerty and CCR at the same festival.  Sounded  exactly like their records with zero infusion of creative energy despite a massive crowd.  That might explain why they weren't in the flick.  BEST live energy show goes to "The Chambers Brothers' at New York City's 'The Electric Circus' in 1968.  Hold on to your hats that night. Those guys could really bring it.  Absolute mass hysteria when they covered Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour".  WORST live show after being really excited beforehand.  A tie between Bob Dylan (1965) and James Taylor (1967) who both played the spacious basketball arena in Ithaca, New York's Cornell University.  Both of these shows put 1000's of people to sleep.  BEST humble performer easily goes to B.B. King who played to a sold out audience at Cornell's Bailey Hall in 1969.  WORST venue and biggest letdown goes to 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience' doing a show in 1967 at Syracuse's War Memorial Arena.  Absolutely horrible place to see a show.  The majority of the seats faced away from the stage.  Joe Walsh and his band opened for Jimi in the 1968 show and appeared relieved to exit the stage after 20 minutes.  BEST live show for a band we were unfamiliar with prior to seeing the show. This was a 1985 show in Miami, Florida's James L. Knight venue that featured Frankie Beverly & 'Maze'.  The bi-racial audience fed off the energy of these professionals for 2 solid hours of pure entertainment. Just a great show.  BEST live shows by a band who had a member I was a roommate with in College goes to the late Larry Hoppen and his band, 'Orleans'.  Saw them in downtown Miami's Carnegie Theatre in 1978, at Gulfstream Park in 2002 as well at some old movie theatre in Stuart, Florida in 2005.  Always solid shows by Larry and the boys.  We will always miss Larry and our warm Ithaca, New York memories.  WORST show by a performer we believe is a genius goes to a Van Morrison show around 1998 somewhere in South Florida.  Van was there but certainly not in any state of mind to perform for his thousands of adoring fans.  Shoulda stayed home, which sort of describes most of the bands touring these days.  RZ

Hope Springs Eternal For Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Posted on: 06/21/2015

    Some very interesting news out of Cleveland, Ohio's Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame this week with the news that Jon Landau, who is the head of the HOF's nominating committee, has terminated the services of 16 of its 42 members.  Of course, only time will tell whether this improves the selection process or makes a bad situation even worse.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog have long been at odds with regard to who gets in, a prime example being 'Kiss' and who doesn't get in, an example being 'Vanilla Fudge'.  Accordingly, we generously offer here our list of criteria to help Mr.  Landau fill the presently existing vacancies.  We regret to advise that we must decline any potential invitation to join the prestigious new members, since moving to Cleveland is simply out of the question.  Here then, we present our criteria to assist in selecting the new members.  A voter who is not familiar with Johnny Ace is hereby disqualified from consideration.  Ace was perhaps the earliest and first great rock 'n roll vocalist who plied his trade in the early fifties.  He directly influenced Elvis, Chuck Berry and James Brown among so many others.  Ignorance of this influential artist simply renders a potential voter not qualified.  Of equal significance is the best guitar player of the fifties, Scotty Moore, who toiled as the sound behind all of Elvis' early hits.  Moore is probably the single most influential guitar player in the history of rock 'n roll.  Everyone uses his riffs, created over 50 years ago,  without even being aware they are doing so.  Without Scotty Moore, the whole landscape of Rock music would sound significantly different.  Injustices perpetrated with regard to the omission of a number of Rock bands who have been conveniently ignored and forgotten, must be rectified and soon.  Here is a partial list: Arthur Lee and 'Love' the brilliant band out of Los Angeles in the late sixties who created one of the top 5 best albums in Rock history, namely "Forever Changes", must immediately be recognized. Also, we note Jesse Collin Young and his innovative band, 'The Youngbloods' and their amazing album, also from the late sixties, "Elephant Mountain".  Further, we note the innovative band 'Nazz' whose most prominent member was Todd Rundgren.  'Nazz' would be a very worthwhile addition and would demonstrate the HOF's new commitment to musical excellence at the expense of crass show business.  Another heady addition would be the inclusion of possibly the greatest unknown blues guitarist of the last 60 years.  We are writing, of course, about Robert Ward.  All noteworthy blues guitar aficionados of the instrument are aware of the contributions of the late Mr. Ward, and his election would be simply an act of well-deserved justice.  There are many others to be noted which we shall save for a later time.  Could you pass our test to be a new HOF voting member?  RZ

Where Art Thou Compact Disc?

Posted on: 06/14/2015

    We miss CDs.  They always looked good piled up in our music room.  They were easy to locate when stored in alphabetical order.  They were easily transported to our autos when we wanted to enjoy our favorite artists upon making the long trek to and from work.  They were the easiest way to learn the lyrics to a song our band wanted to perform.  Something about repetition which works to easily memorize words to a tune.  Our purchase of a new CD about once a month helped support the music industry and the individual artists that we favored.  There are no less than 13 different Van Morrison discs in our somewhat sizable collection.  We have 6 Jimi Hendrix CDs and 3 Dylans. We have at least one of everyone else, favoring 'greatest hits' CDs whenever possible.  Over the last 2 years, we have bought only 2 CDs.  'Alabama Shakes' and 'Kings Of Leon', that's it.  What prompted this particular Blog was a fruitless attempt to purchase a John Mayer CD that contained his wonderful tune, "Gravity".  Good luck with that.  However, it was easily available for listening, free of charge, by simply using our Apple lap top to type in the info using Google or Yahoo, whereby out popped a video on You Tube with John performing 5 different versions of "Gravity", which sounded great using the Sony headphones attached to our lap top.  It would be logical to assume that Mr. Mayer made not a single cent when we accessed his tune completely free of cost.  We would however prefer to pay the 12 bucks and have the original CD so we could listen comfortably in our car, but current technology downright inhibits that option.  Try purchasing your favorite CD at 'Best Buy'.  The selection is minimal to say the least, unless your taste runs to Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj and other artists popular with 12 year old young ladies.  This unfortunate scenario has significant consequences.  If artists can not monetize their original musical compositions, then they simply cease to create them and if the record companies can't make a profit, then they cease to exist and that's exactly what has happened to the music industry and resultingly, rock music quietly fades away.  The great art form of rock music is, notwithstanding, still a business.  Business is a form of capitalism.  No business translates into no rock music.  Such is the predictable result of all this great technology, which allows consumers to access their favorite music without compensation to the artist.  So who benefits from these modern advancements?  The answer lies in the corporate giants who market this new technology.  We all know the names.  And who suffers?  The individual artists can't profit from their work and society slowly decays because of their absence.  So we are left with the Swifts and Minajs who corporate America feeds us in joyful glee.  There is something suspiciously malicious about this.  A society devoid of creative artistic expression becomes stupid, ignorant and that mush easier to manipulate and govern.  Just great.  Don't say we didn't warn you.  RZ  

No Tribute Fot Tribute Bands

Posted on: 06/07/2015

    As Rock 'n Roll continues its decline into irrelevance and obscurity, the latest and possibly last lifeline is the emergence of tribute bands on both the national and regional levels.  Spurred on by the popularity of 'Pink Floyd' and 'Beatles' tribute bands, the concept has gained popularity here in South Florida.  In the last year, tribute bands have sprung up locally dedicated to such bands as 'Rush', 'Black Sabbath', Randy Rhodes, 'Yes', and 'Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers'.  To us at the Ric Zweig Blog, it amounts to a massive sellout by the musicians involved.  Individual creativity is abandoned in the name of imitation and duplication.  Perhaps, it is easier to gain bookings as a tribute band as opposed to an original or creative cover band.  At least, this we suspect.  The emergence of Rock music in the 50s was spurred on by its limitless creativity, but that mine appears to have been emptied and replaced with musicians who have nothing new to offer, falling back on using their considerable talent to copy the work of others.  Even the fans of this new old wave seem to have abandoned good taste in the name of economic convenience.  Speaking only for us, if we want to hear 'Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers', we will choose the original artists instead of some lame imitators. Without question, this is simply a sign of the times.  Our food, our lifestyles, our television viewing habits and entertainment choices have all become lame copies of what was once original, creative and new. Television reality shows are a perfect example.  It allows those in charge to make more money by doing away with scripts and writers and just filming regular people doing regular things. There seems to be no end to this phenomena.  So shows are crafted illustrating people working in a pawn shop or fixing a carburetor.  Automobile auctions are another popular source of television viewing.  These shows require no talent or creativity to produce.  Just turn on the camera and watch morons do staged moronic things.  Such is the same with tribute bands.  Don't try to create or improvise, simply parrot what somebody else did successfully and collect your mini check at the end of the evening. Tribute bands may be in for a big surprise in the ensuing months.  Rumor has it that a large Los Angeles law firm has begun the process of identifying tribute bands across the nation in what will ultimately become a major copyright infringement case filed on behalf of the original bands. A word to the wise.  If contemplating playing in a tribute band, pay up front and get permission from the imitated band.  Otherwise, prepare to reach deep in your pocket to compensate those you are borrowing from. RZ 

The Good, Bad & The Ugly

Posted on: 05/31/2015

    Last night, Saturday, May 30th., HBO presented its annual show of the induction ceremonies for this year's entrants into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame emanating from Cleveland, Ohio.  Representing the bad was the horrendous 'Green Day' who were simply terrible in their live performance after their equally inane acceptance speeches.  Of special note is their totally self-absorbed lyrics which prompted us to respond with 'get a life' rant.  We are not privy to what qualified this group to be included, along with many of rock's best.  We are unable to confirm our suspicions that mediocrity was one of the criteria for this latest year.  Representing the good was the long overdue admission of guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band 'Double Trouble'.  Vaughan died in a helicopter crash 25 years ago and has long been acknowledged as one of rock's greatest guitarists.  Why his admission came so late is a mystery that only those who run the HOF could possibly explain.  As a testament to SRV, his induction welcoming speech was given by future legend John Mayer, who enjoys the title as Rock's greatest guitarist of the current day.  Mayer, despite his youth, looked atrocious, dressed in something that an encyclopedia salesman would wear as he made his door to door rounds.  Who dresses these people?  Jimmy Vaughan, the older brother, delivered a touching tribute when it was his turn to speak.  Mayer, Jimmy, and Gary Clark Jr. then joined with the other members of 'Double Trouble' to give a rousing live performance that included the SRV classic "Pride & Joy".  This was the musical highlight of the otherwise uninspiring performances for the evening. Perhaps another special moment was the induction of New York City's own poet-rocker, Lou Reed. We will not quibble with his admission, but his music simply did not translate well last night in the live performance that followed his induction.  Reed, who passed in October of 2013, would have helped considerably, had he been selected during his lifetime, but at least his supporters did not have to wait 25 years after his death.  We missed the portion of the show where 'The Paul Butterfield Blues Band' gained induction.  Mike Bloomfield was one of the early guitar superstars who passed away far too young.  We intend to watch the show again to see if fellow star guitarist Elvin Bishop was on hand for the ceremony.  We would mention the induction of Ringo Starr, but it really is not worthy of mentioning.  Also inducted was the likable Bill Withers who never played a rock 'n roll song in his life. And so it goes.  RZ

Hit Or Miss?

Posted on: 05/24/2015

    It is not uncommon for fading stars to play Las Vegas in the twilight of their careers.  The gig is tempting for many stars, most recently Celine Dion and Brittany Spears.  The artist tends to sign for an extended stay at a big name hotel, avoiding the city to city travel that exacts a harsh price, especially on singers.  The money is good and Las Vegas is not the worst place to be for a couple of months.  The local reviewers can be counted on to be exceptionally kind because they have a horse in the race, as a negative local review would be bad for business which might prompt the hotel where the star is performing to cancel its show advertising in the offending paper.  This is called a conflict of interest, which is why local reviewers typically gush over even the worst of shows.  However, when a newspaper such as the prestigious 'New York Times' reviews a Vegas show, people pay attention, because objectivity clearly trumps any other consideration.  Such was the case recently when 'Times' music critic Jon Caramanica reviewed diva superstar Mariah Carey's new show entitled "#1 To Infinity" which opened this month at Caesar's Palace.  Mr. Caramanica labeled the show "a crash", calling it "largely difficult" and "displaying a minimum of imagination and effort".  This past week's May 25 issue of 'Time Magazine' without naming names, wrote, "Mariah Carey's 18 date residency at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas has received harsh reviews from critics."  Apparently, the once soaring voice has diminished with the star's obvious aging and expanding waistline.  Of course, the gullible public is quick to fork over considerable sums of cash to witness the erosion of a superstar.  Vegas audiences have never been noted for their ability to discern.  You have to wonder if Carey herself and especially her management team really cares that much, as long as the Caesar Palace hefty check doesn't bounce.  RZ

The Most Popular King

Posted on: 05/17/2015

    This past week marked the passing of Riley 'Blues Boy' King, known simply as B.B. King.  Mr. King survived until the ripe old age of 89.  Now the 'oldest living' musician mantel falls to Chuck Berry, at age 85.  It is no exaggeration to say that B.B. King was the most popular and well-known African-American person in the United States.  King's popularity was well-earned, not only amongst his fans, but with his fellow musicians and especially the other guitar players.  In his later years, he was a frequent guest of Eric Clapton's annual guitar festival extravaganza, 'Crossroads'.  Anybody who was anybody, who played the blues jammed with B.B. King.  This list included Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks, Hubert Sumlin and Clapton himself and so many others. There was always an obvious affection for King by the other musicians.  This was entirely genuine.  We have written previously about the kindness exhibited by a young 43 year old B.B. King to a much younger newspaper music writer in 1969 after a performance at Cornell's Bailey Hall in Ithaca, New York.  No other musician has quite matched King's character and humility in the experience of this writer's considerable lifetime.  This was the hallmark of King's time in the spotlight.  His fame and popularity eclipsed that of the other Kings, namely Freddie and Albert, who both possessing chops possibly even more stirring than B.B.'s, still never came close to matching the B.B. influence.  To us, Albert Kings' voice and flying V guitar licks personified the blues more so than any other player, but he never achieved what B.B. King brought to the table.  No other blues musician did more for the genre and reached a higher level of popularity than Mr. King. B.B. set the standard in terms of class and dignity. It is a major understatement to say he will be missed.  RZ

Apocalypse Time

Posted on: 05/10/2015

    Recently, Time Magazine published its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Included in this illustrious list were Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.  We are not joking and neither is Time Magazine.  Somehow, someway, they reached this dubious conclusion.  In recent years, the mag has become a voice for issues sensitive to women.  More than likely this can be attributed to the fact that Time's chief editor and much of its writing staff are also women.  In previous years, Time was a voice for reason and unprejudiced information.  Now it is just a group of political hacks espousing the aforementioned gender bias in favor of its favorite sex.  Perhaps this philosophical change is a coincidence as to the selection of Kardashian and West to its prestigious list.  Perhaps not.  In any event, these 2 individuals are there for all to see and contemplate.  Not surprisingly, Kardashian's inclusion piece was authored by a well-known convicted felon who has yet to have her rights restored. But the status of convicted criminal felon does not preclude her from writing a little puff piece on the bodacious Kardashian. There is no mention of the sex video that initially vaulted the linebacker-sized reality star to prominence.  Nor is there mention of her all consuming fellatio prowess which highlights her film career.  The equally mystifying piece on West fails to mention his multiple tendency to interrupt award presentations in favor of African-Americans who he feels have been slighted in deference to Caucasians.  There is also no mention of the recent concert where he admonished and shamed White wheelchair bound audience members for not standing up to pay homage to West. More than likely, the inclusion of these 2 is ample evidence of the advent of the soon to be here apocalypse.  Or, it is just further evidence of the latest sellout of Time Magazine in a feeble and pathetic attempt to appear hip and relevant to a vastly declining audience of readers.  We choose the latter.  RZ  

Times Are Tough

Posted on: 05/03/2015

    Years ago we pled guilty to being regular watchers of the Fox TV show 'American Idol'.  Seeing young people go from absolute nothing to being music stars was great.  The dark side of the show however, was watching so very many contestants have their dreams crushed to oblivion.  This eventually bothered us to such a degree that after a few seasons, we ceased to watch.  In some 13- odd seasons of A.I. only a small hand full of youngsters have become legitimate staples in music.  Up until recently, this short list included initial winner Kelly Clarkson whose star shown for years until she lost her zest for show business and traded everything in for life as a mother and homemaker. Jennifer Hudson, despite finishing 4th, subsequently won an Oscar and flourished for a while.  Country music has offered a home to at least 2 former contestants with Kelly Pickler coming to mind.  Another runner-up, Adam Lambert, enjoys success presently as  the 'Queen' lead singer, but he's finding Freddy Mercury's shoes tough to fill.  Last year's winner was a talented rocker, namely Caleb Johnson. Johnson, barely out of his teens, has found the sledding rather difficult of late, as his record label 'Interscope' and its mercurial boss, Jimmy Iovine, have thusly allegedly refused to pony up to support Caleb from a monetary standpoint.  Accordingly, Caleb has been forced to use his own cash to finance his music video, as well as a single from the 'Interscope' album, and a tour as well.  A pretty large adult reminder that the music business is indeed a business and if the powers that be don't smell money to be made, then even an AI winner is hung out to dry.  Welcome to reality Caleb Johnson.  To his credit, the kid is showing grit and we are hopeful that his perseverance will pay off for him with a successful career.  Hopefully, young musicians will keep their eyes open and pursue a career with appropriate trepidation, and remember to have fun and love the music, because the rest of the experience can really suck.  RZ

Vanilla Fudge

Posted on: 04/26/2015

    Every year we are prone to rant about the joke that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has become.  This is an organization that long ago lost any serious credibility.  The people who decide who gain admission are obviously NOT musicologists and are too young to remember who the real game changers were back in the day.  See previous BLOGS for a reminder, but suffice to say the final straw for us was the election of show band, 'Kiss' some years back.  This year's class might be construed as better than most, what with the election of 'The Paul Butterfield Blues Band', Lou Reed, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I guess Ringo Starr and 'Green Day' are tolerable picks, but Joan Jett and Bill Withers are highly questionable.  Withers continues to be a decent fellow what with his tune "Ain't No Sunshine" being somewhat of a minor classic. The problem is Bill never played rock and roll.  Perhaps an argument could be made for his election to the Music HOF, but Rock and Roll, simply no way.  No such problem exists with the outstanding Rock supergroup 'Vanilla Fudge'.  Their recordings of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Season Of The Witch" are brilliant interpretations, truly worthy of HOF induction. Let's note its members, namely Mark Stein, Vince Martell, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice. The only possible shortcoming would be that the above tunes were covers as opposed to entirely original works, but how then is Ringo explained?  And please don't tell us that "Yellow Submarine" is a rock and roll HOF worthy tune.  Fudge created the bridge between separate genres of rock music, psychedelic and heavy metal.  We also note the contribution of 'King Crimson' across the pond in this regard as well.  But without Fudge, there is no 'Metallica', 'Judas Priest' or so many other metal bands.  That simple fact can not be ignored in the history and evolution of rock and roll.  If you expect the study of same to be considered seriously, then 'Vanilla Fudge' is entitled to take its rightful place in the pathetic sappy halls of Cleveland's joke institution that is the Rock and Roll HOF.  Once again, we will not hold our breath.  RZ

Kelly Need Not Be Thin

Posted on: 04/19/2015

    We live in an angry world as well as an angry nation.  We tend to show off our anger by making fun of others and ridiculing successful people especially in the music biz.  People use their celebrity to do this on a regular basis. The media, which should know better, is perhaps the worst offender of this practice.  This past week a somewhat forgettable contestant on 'American Idol' was angry at the prospect of his buds being sent home from the show when this has been the weekly routine, well known to all, since the show began many years ago.  Show judge Harry Connick Jr. was correct in his admonishment to the offender to go home if you don't like it. The contestant was just attempting to seize his moment the easiest and most popular way possible, ie - just be angry.  But the focus of the Ric Zweig Blog this week is the anger and the large amount of it being directed towards popstar Kelly Clarkson for the audacity of getting fat not long after the birth of a child.  Who says a pop star has to be all sex image and not look like a normal person.  We are a nation of image not substance.  We forgive our pop stars for being mediocre and lip-synching to cover up their vocal inadequacies but God help them if they gain weight.  We have come to equate our female pop stars with perfectly sculpted sex-bodied woman surrounded by similarly shaped female dancers.  Examples are numerous.  They include Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalia, Taylor Swift, Madonna and the worst offender of all, Beyonce.  Kelly Clarkson has always depended on talent to make her career as opposed to sex appeal.  She can actually sing and made her reputation, after the aforementioned 'American Idol', by doing so.  Now she is the recipient of unbridled wrath directed at her because of her weight gain.  We say to her critics, fuck off.  There is no relationship between singing and body shape.  Etta James was large (and in charge).  Mahalia Jackson, the great gospel singer was well over 200 pounds.  Jennifer Holiday, the best female voice in the last 30 years, was always at her best when she was big.  America's greatest female singer of all time, Judy Garland, was the recipient of mean, nasty gossip because she was perceived to be too skinny.  Well we personally don't care if our talented singers are fat or skinny. We only care if they can deliver the goods and so should you.  RZ

Ludicrous Ludacris

Posted on: 04/12/2015

    Once upon a time, creative musicians wrote their own tunes.  Yes, it is so.  They wrote their own music and wrote their own lyrics.  Sure, they were influenced by those who had come before.  But outright stealing of someone else's music was simply not done.  But then came along the genres of hip hop, urban and rap where almost everything sounds alike.  In these repetItive forms, everything sounds the same.  Everybody steals from everybody and nothing is new under the sun.  Thus, 'sampling' was born.  Sampling is the outright use of another artist's work.  But by doing so. you are legally obligated, first to gain permission, and second to pay the original artist for the use of his or her work.  It is much easier to just be an outright thief like the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams did recently with regards to the work of the late, great Marvin Gaye.  At least until you get caught by the estate of the original artist who then decides to sue and hold the imitator liable for millions of dollars in owed royalties.  This backdrop leads us to the words recently uttered by megastar rapper Ludacris, one of those copycat performers who resorts to 'sampling' and then has the audacity to complain about it. Unable, apparently, to create new original beats of his own, Mr. Ludacris is a frequent user of the 'sampling' process and uttered the following words, as reported by the most recent issue of 'Time Magazine', as follows.  "Having to clear (music) samples.  It can take months and months. Sometimes (song publishers) ask for way more than they really should get.  The whole politics of it is bullshit."  Another words, this most arrogant individual is caught complaining about the necessity of having to  use another artist's creative original work and having to pay for same.  Incredible, in fact his statement is beyond incredible.  His lament is cured in its entirety simply by the creation of his OWN original work and to stop using other people's work. But this would involve having the talent to create his OWN work in the first place and that concept presents an insurmountable challenge for the gentleman.  It gets stranger and stranger with each passing day.  RZ

President M. Cyrus

Posted on: 04/05/2015

    As our beloved country spirals to an increased level of absurdity and insanity on a daily basis, it is no longer preposterous to imagine a time in the very near future when perhaps either Lady Gaga, Kanye West, or even Miley Cyrus is elected to our nation's highest office.  Imagine if you dare, the President of the United States, Miley Cyrus.  What prompted what sounds like sheer absolute folly is yesterday's news item that the esteemed Cyrus, best known for how far she is capable of sticking her tongue outside of her mouth (code for her alleged fellatio prowess) decided to venture into our nation's political arena by taking a bold position on the controversial religious freedom issue presently brewing in both Indiana and Arkansas.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog avoid taking political stands. This is a music and entertainment Blog.  Our political positions are private and have never been shared here.  No such restraint however inhibits citizens of our land and Cyrus exercised her right accordingly yesterday by issuing a well-thought out political treatise which we now print in its entirety.  "Asshole". That's it.  There is no more.  Cyrus referred to Indiana Governor Mike Pence with that word in her heady public pronouncement.  That is the entire statement, brief and to the point. Future President Cyrus then issued yet a second proclamation immediately after putting U.S. Senator Tom Cotton's (R. Ark) phone number on her Twitter page (9.4 million followers).  This second utterance was lengthy compared to the previous first and reads as follows, "Let's stir some shit up"! The high-school dropout fond of showing her diminutive and exceedingly scrawny boobs should be commended for actually being able to put together an almost full sentence in the English language, a remarkable achievement for the intelligence-challenged pop star.  We eagerly await more pronouncements from the budding politico. Who needs the 'Gettysburg Address'?  We've got Miley Cyrus.  Ugh!  RZ

Arrogance & Ignorance Part 2

Posted on: 03/29/2015

    Madonna, who we wrote about recently and her most successful imitator Lady Gaga, have no current peers when it comes to exhibiting their unique attributes of arrogance and ignorance.  We all recall when Gaga went public with her claim that she, Gaga, was so omnipotent that she no longer had the need to go the bathroom, since that function was not worthy of her.  Think about the ego that someone has to have to even contemplate that thought.  But that bit of nonsense may have been topped last week by the clumsy klutz and fast-aging superstar Madonna.  'Time Magazine' attributed the following quote to the awkward one as follows, "It was a horrible nightmare, because I like to be amazing."  This was Madonna's reaction to her buffoon-like tumble at the most recent Brit Awards show in London.  Everything that she experiences has to be totally and exclusively about her.  In her mind, the universe revolves solely around her.  No semi-normal person would ever utter such ridiculousness, but then again, Madonna is far from normal, and maybe, to her credit, that helps to account for her fabulous success.  Lord knows, it isn't due to her combined talents of singing and dancing.  Imagine, if you will, musical royalty like Jimi Hendrix or Smoky Robinson uttering such absurdity.  Never in a million years.  Maybe the time has come for Ms. Madonna to pack her pointed bras and senior citizen persona and call it a career.  Please.  RZ

The World's Most Hated

Posted on: 03/22/2015

    Nobody in the world of music sound engenders more hatred and ill will than Kanye West.  This may not be true in the African-American community who, somewhat surprisingly, buy into his act that he, West, is actually a genius, purveying his trade in the rap community.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog had no opinion on this mighty issue until television watching his so-called concert emanating from Central Park some years back.  As almost anyone who watched it will observe, it was embarrassingly horrible. The man was clearly exposed as a music fraud, completely devoid of talent, as he stumbled and fumbled around the stage to a disinterested and bored audience.  His coupling with Kim Kardashian did not help his image.  Some say he took advantage of her celebrity to hitch his wagon to.  Others suggest they were meant for each other as her claim to fame is dubious in and of itself. Personally, we could care less who marries who.  As of this writing, the two remain married and are the parents of a cute little girl.  Many African-American women voice criticism of West, not for his alleged artistry, but for his preference of selecting a non-Black woman.  Many African-American women believe this suggests that no Black women is good enough for West, which is a form of racism in itself.  West gained notoriety some years back when he interrupted a Taylor Swift Video Music Awards acceptance speech.  Even President Obama voiced his criticism of that behavior which shocked many because Blacks never publicly criticize other Blacks.  West repeated this stunt most recently at the VMAs, this time Beck was his victim.  West also came in for attack at a recent stateside concert when he verbally assaulted wheelchair-bound people for not standing up.  He still remains popular here in the United States, but decidedly not so in the United Kingdom where the following happened just a few days ago.  60,000 music lovers there signed a petition opposing West's upcoming headlining of the prestigious Glastonbury Rock Festival in England.  The petition referred to the diminutive West as an "egotistical maniacal disgrace".  Petition organizer Neil Lonsdale wrote, "Kanye West is an insult to music fans all over the world.  It's an outrage, get a rock band."  Yes, it would seem logical, at least to us, that a Rock act would headline a Rock festival, but that's just us. Poor Kanye West.  It seems that everyone is piling on the dude.  But this is what is to be expected when someone has an ego as big as his coupled with a talent as small as his.  RZ

Some Good News

Posted on: 03/15/2015

    Who says there's no good news these days, especially in the news of the music world.  This week's big story was the California state jury and its decision finding that Mr. Robin Thicke and Mr. Pharrell Williams ripped off the late, great Marvin Gaye .  Yes, Thicke and Williams stole their recent major hit "Blurred Lines" from Gaye's 1977 classic hit tune "Got To Give It Up".  The jury awarded two of Gaye's children the healthy sum of 7.3 million bucks, with the 2 music thieves being responsible for approximately 1.7 million dollars each.  The thief Thicke claimed during the trial he was "drunk and high on Vicodin" and pointed the finger at the thief Williams by claiming that (he) Williams "wrote almost every single part of the song". What a despicable defense to make to the jury.  It demonstrates the true character of these low-lifes. This is a major victory for real musicians and songwriters throughout the United States and a major blow to the rap, urban and hip-hop community of so-called musicians who've never had an original idea in their lives and just copy and steal the work of such true greats like Marvin Gaye.  We are sure that Thicke and Williams will think twice before engaging in this kind of activity in the future.  This decision in the California Court reverberated throughout the music community with deafening significance.  Now you will be held responsible when you steal the musical ideas of others and attempt to fool naive and ignorant rap fans who have no ability to recognize the real stuff from yesterday' classics. The rap community has not had an original idea in decades, preferring to re-cycle the same same old crap over and over.  It is a rip-off genre that feeds on the work of others, long since gone.  Marvin Gaye passed away long ago, but somewhere he is smiling knowing that a blow for truth, creativity and decency was struck by the decision of the Court.  Bravo.  RZ

The Greatest Rock Composition Of All Time

Posted on: 03/08/2015

    The history of Rock Music contains countless individual single efforts that truly deserve the word 'great'.  But if you had to pick just one and only one, in an effort to illustrate both the genius and potential of Rock, which one would it be?  We would have to consider the voluminous work of Elvis Presley, as well as Chuck Berry in our quest.  The vast library of 'The Beatles' would warrant serious consideration as well.  In fact, a 'Beatles' work is our second choice.  But our selection for the single greatest musical composition of all time, drum roll please, is "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)" by Jimi Hendrix.  This futuristic work consumes 13 minutes and 46 seconds.  It's as if Jimi was granted a trip a thousand years into the future, and was authorized the right to bring back to 1968 what people were listening to in 2968.  There is no adequate way to describe "1983..."  It simply must be listened to in its entirety.  It can be found on the "Electric Ladyland" LP which was Jimi's third album effort.  What's surprising, at least to us, is that even most diehard Hendrix fans are hardly aware of this work.  Time to get re-aquainted, we strongly suggest.                                                         We select as a very close second choice, "A Day In The Life" by 'The Beatles'.  This work is the main course from their "Sgt. Pepper" album, also released in 1968.  The credit for this blockbuster work of genius must go to John Lennon and producer George Martin.  Through this work, the group put light years of distance between serious works of music and the vanilla, cotton candy pop music efforts of lightweight band member, Paul.                                                                                                         A few runners-up are worth mentioning.  "Wooden Ships" composed by 'Crosby, Stills & Nash' is simply brilliant.  An equally outstanding cover by 'Jefferson Airplane' also is must listening.  This is what real music sounds like.  Nothing like the "all sounds the same" crap that passes for music these days.  Finally, we will list a few other notable works of art.  "Hymns To The Silence" by Van Morrison stands as his consummate, signature work of genius.  And two other rock tunes are worth mentioning. First, "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop, featuring Mickey Thomas on the vocals.  This tune features our all-time favorite guitar solo by Mr. Bishop.  A somewhat modern tune completes our list.  Namely, "Use Somebody" by 'Kings Of Leon".  This is a work that skillfully and successfully re-captures the potential of Rock music and what it is capable of.  Good listening everybody.  RZ

The Fall Of Madonna

Posted on: 03/01/2015

    The big story of the week was the tumble of pop icon Madonna and her fall from the stage this past Wednesday in London at the O2 Arena.  The event was the 35th Annual BRIT Awards show.  We have several takes on this happening.  First, we all know the fading 56 year old star has an insatiable appetite for attention and publicity.  This is her drug of choice.  When any individual becomes accustomed to non-stop attention, year after year after year, and then suddenly that same attention is substantially diminished, it can be difficult to adjust to.  Madonna is no longer able to attract that attention from her music or persona.  We live in an age that idolizes youth.  Madonna is no longer young.  Give her props for maintaining the veneer of youth, but the truth is her fans have abandoned her for Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, etc.  Am I suggesting that Madonna staged her plop intentionally to once again become the center of attention?  No, there is no evidence to suggest this, but few things are beyond the potential of the once great star.  A second possibility is that Madonna is just not the dancer she once was in her prime.  We reject the term "clumsy cunt" as insulting and in shockingly bad taste.  Even if the tumble was due to poor coordination, that does not justify the previous description.  But still, at her best, her moves were never innovative or graceful a la Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, but more in line with those of an even less talented performer, Brittany Spears.  We watched the painful video of the stumble and concluded that the mishap was a combination of poor coordination with a fellow performer and Madonna possibly being too close to the edge of the stage.  There was something quite pathetic about the aging performer trying to simulate moves she performed without difficulty 30 years ago.  There is no shame in simply and quietly retiring to a less glamourous, no longer the center of attention life.  This would be our suggestion to the star.  After all, she had a great and successful career.  She has earned the right to fade away with a semblance of dignity still intact.  RZ

Rock 'n Roll is Dead!

Posted on: 02/22/2015

    Chuck Berry once wrote in a song called "School Days" that rock music "would never become the days of old".  The sad truth is that Chuck himself has lasted longer than the genre of rock music.  On the world and national scenes, rock music has been utterly replaced by electronic dance music (EDM), as well as pop music, with stalwarts such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, and rap, hip-hop and urban music personified by Jay Z and a host of wanna be musicians who inhabit that world.  The headbangers who used to love rock have gravitated away and instead embrace metal music with adoration for groups like Metallica, Quiet Riot, etc.  Rock is way down the list.  It joins R & B, Soul, Dixieland and Bluegrass, all of which nobody pays any attention to.  White listeners still love their Country music, which seems to be as popular as ever, but only in certain portions of the country. Jazz has a very small cadre of fans, probably even less than rock.  Why is this so?  A big reason is we live in a disposable society.  It takes chops to play rock music and jazz music.  Once upon a time, the elements of art and creativity, concerned those musicians who played those genres.  That meant work, effort and practice.  Who has time for that now.  EDM is created by machines and practiced by DJs who stand behind a consul with their hands up in the air.  EDM feeds on the drug ecstacy.  Rap is nothing more than bad poetry joined with old rock tunes being sampled and stolen from.  The rap producer is much more important to the finished product than the rapper.  Pop music is about badly written tunes with the so-called artist lip-synching surrounded by countless dancers designed to blind and deafen the listener to how bad the artist actually sounds.  A fine mess the world of music has become.  In today's world, rock musicians can't make a living.  Everything is free on the Net and impervious to being monetized.  Accordingly, few are drawn in.  Videos exceed in importance, the actual music.  Hence, the popularity of Beyonce.  The biggest culprit in all of this is MTV.  They simply suck.  We will always support the little-watched television network 'Palladia" and hope they continue to occupy our television screens at least for a while longer.  RZ

Let's Not Pile On Kanye

Posted on: 02/15/2015

    Poor baby.  Everyone wants a piece of Mr. Kanye West.  After, once again, doing the unthinkable, ie, interrupting another winner's acceptance speech at the Grammys, to tout the laughable Beyonce as the shoulda been winner.  My heavens, even Black people have seen fit to criticize West for his rude behavior, thereby violating the preeminent biblical principle of Black culture, "Thou shalt not criticize another Black, no matter what"  Poor Beck, poor Taylor Swift, poor Beyonce who looked absolutely horrified that the diminutive West, who stands all of 5' 7", would pull this prank yet again. Last time, even the President saw fit to throw a verbal smackdown on the talentless rapper.  And what in God's name is West even doing at the Grammys?  The Grammys are supposed to celebrate accomplishments by musicians.  West does not play an instrument.  He is not a musician, but he's there nevertheless.  But then again, so were Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, 2 very well-known musicians.  We smell set-up.  West is Black, Beyonce is Black, Swift and Beck are White. White musicians can't possibly be worthy of awards, at least in the eyes of a Black rapper.  West is a racist. No, retract that.  No Black person can be racist.  That designation is reserved only for White people. Beck plays multiple instruments and writes his own material.  Beyonce has 16 producers, plays no instrument, and never wrote a song in her life, so of course she should win.  The music world is upside down.  There is no room for music in the music world, only loud mouthed rappers, going "yo, yo!". It's all unfair.  West's parents named their kid "Kanye".  Was this meant to be "Kenny" and someone was incapable of spelling same?  We simply don't know.  Besides, Mr. West got his revenge by naming his kid "North".  Was this an appropriate name for a little girl?  If she marries a relative of Joe South, she will be "Southwest", or maybe that should be "North West South".  Sort of catchy.  A hook-up with a descendant of basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West, would make the kid "North West West". Remember Linda Eastman?  Then the bride would be "North West Eastman".  A connection with retired porn star Peter North becomes "North West North".  Oh this kid will grow up normal and well-adjusted, of that we can be sure.  Just another day in the good ole USA.  Shocking that some other cultures want to do us harm when we espouse such enviable values and role models as Kanye "Kenny" West.  RZ

What Ever Happened To Black Culture?

Posted on: 02/08/2015

    Any time any White writer writes (say that fast) something negative about anything Black in America, he or she can expect to hear chants of racism.  Truth is less important than political correctness in the America of today.  But that doesn't stop us here at the Ric Zweig Blog.  We go where others dare not to tread.  This week's topic is the virtual elimination of Black culture in the United States as it pertains to music.  All current popular music in our country can be traced back to Louis Armstrong, a Black man.  Over the years, Blacks have been at the forefront of the music we all enjoy.  A short list would include Ella Fitzgerald, Errol Garner, Robert Johnson, The Mills Brothers, Chuck Berry, Billy Eckstein, Billie Holliday, Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Johnny Mathis and James Brown.  We invite the reader to assemble a list of today's equivalent Black artists.  We can not think of a single artist worthy of the prior list.  NOT EVEN ONE.  You say Beyonce.  That just means you have never listened to Etta James.  Beyonce is a thin voiced imitation of the great Ms. James.  NOT EVEN ONE.  Why is this so?  Could it be that hip-hop, urban and rap has simply not only become the sound of what purports to be Black culture of today, but in the process smothered and eliminated all other genres of music in the Black community.  We suggest that has become the case. What kind of people drive this phenomenom?  One such example might be Marion Suge Knight, once the head of Death Row Records and a powerful entrepreneur in the rap world.  Mr. Knight has always had a flair for trouble with his numerous brushes with the law.  Just last week, he allegedly ran 2 people over in his vehicle killing one and seriously injuring another.  This prompted a murder charge from California prosecutors and a bond revocation from a prior pending charge of robbery.  Mr. Knight presently sits in jail facing the prospect of a long prison sentence for violation of the state's 3 strikes law.  Why is this kind of story so common in the hip-hop, urban and rap world?  Eviscerating all other forms of Black musical culture is apparently not enough for its gluttonous appetite.  The world of this so-called genre has to terrorize Blacks, being violently preyed on by other Blacks, and render generations of Whites totally devoid of any sympathy for Black issues.  There is racism in the United States.  There are legitimate issues of prejudice against Blacks.  We nominate your culture, or what purports to be your culture, as a predominant reason for such injustice and unfairness to reign.  Bring back Louis Armstrong and his legions, and watch things get better for all Americans, Black and White.  RZ

Super Bowl Artsy-Fartsy

Posted on: 02/01/2015

    Today is the annual event that traditionally, is the most watched television and sports event of the entire year, namely the Super Bowl.  To many in the television audience, they care not who wins the game , either the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks, but rather who is performing at the halftime show.  Although, in some of the past years, the NFL has tipped their hat in favor of legitimate musical artists such as "U2", Bruce Springsteen, "The Who", Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, or Prince, more often than not, the league has opted for adherence to the alter of pop culture by selecting such lightweights as Madonna, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, "The Black Eyed Peas", Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson (we all know how that turned out) and this year's lightweight star, Katy Perry.  The one redeeming value of Ms. Perry's selection is the purported effect it must of had on rival pop star Taylor Swift who allegedly continues to throw daily tantrums, without equal, for being passed over in favor of Perry.  There is no word from the NFL whether Ms. Perry's bountiful bosoms influenced the league's decision to the detriment of the decidedly flat-chested Swift. Rumors that Swift, since being passed over, has been seen making the rounds of several Beverly Hills' plastic surgeons renowned for breast enlargement are summarily rejected by her supporters.  A more likely response may be Swift penning her latest hit ditty about being continuously passed over by a countless number of men and now once again, this time by a football league.  Her legions of 12 year-old little girl fans can be counted on to shell out limitless amounts of Daddy's cash for this Shakespearian piece of work.  With regard to Perry, the only interesting aspect of her soon-to-be performance is whether she utilizes pre-recorded tracks to enhance her notoriously thin voice.  Of course, such antics are the staple of the pop culture artists of the day.  So count on us here at the Ric Zweig Blog to be summarily planted in front of our television set for the outcome of the big game and to answer the really big question of the day, ie, is Katy Perry lip-synching?  RZ

First Amendment Rap

Posted on: 01/25/2015

    In the years that we have been writing the Ric Zweig Blog, few opportunities have been available to write about the world of music interwoven with our many years of legal training and practice. Long- time readers know our previous career as a Miami-Dade County Criminal Court Circuit Judge spanned 30 years.  This week's Blog combines both categories, what with the news that a San Diego, California rapper, named Brandon Duncan aka 'Tiny Doo' has been charged by State prosecutors, under the California Penal Code, for crimes that carry potential penalties of 25 years to Life imprisonment.  The charges consist of 9 counts of 'street gang behavior' for merely rapping about gun violence.  Duncan is not alleged in the charging document with actually committing an act of violence or even advocating others to commit violence.  At best and in a light most favorable to the prosecution, the accused lyrically glorified the gang/thug lifestyle and its gun culture in his rapping. This will not stand.  Despite the fact that a California Superior Court Judge chose NOT to dismiss the charges earlier this week on the basis of First Amendment issues of free speech , he at least directed defense counsel to file a formal written motion requesting dismissal before another Judge.  If we had been representing the accused in this case, we would have filed a 'sworn motion to dismiss' on the same day upon being presented with the charging document, long ago, because even if all the facts in the document are true, it would be our position that still no crime has been committed.  Simply put, the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights, clearly protects the rapper's diatribe as presented in this case.  We boldly predict this case will ultimately be dismissed, either by the trial court or a subsequent appellate court.  The First Amendment is designed to protect unpopular speech, bad speech, and the speech of rappers.  This is NOT a case of yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre. Shockingly, the accused 'Tiny Doo' has been incarcerated for 8 months since his arrest, unable to make a ridiculously high bail of half a million dollars.  This case speaks of prosecutorial over-reach and excessive zeal as well as what appears to be a lame effort by defense counsel to protect the rights of the accused.  Where are the motions to reduce bail?  Trial is set for April 20, 2015.  The State's case will fall, and hopefully soon.  RZ

Mariah To Play Caesars Palace Which Files Banktrupcy

Posted on: 01/18/2015

    Sometimes a series of events occurs in rapid succession which makes us at the Ric Zweig Blog, truly wonder what's really going on.  A prime example happened this past week, when in rapid succession, 3 events occurred which defy description as coincidence.  We are talking initially about the announcement made by the aging and hulking diva singing star Mariah Carey, that she will soon become the headline act at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  The star, soon to be age 45, revealed the news during an appearance this week on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show".  Las Vegas is the entertainment venue where has-been musical stars go, at the end of their careers, to get one final precious taste of stardom. Everyone remembers a very fat Elvis Presley stumbling around the Hilton stage while his life literally crumbled around him.  It was decidedly sad and pathetic that the once great star had been reduced to such a spectacle.  Apparently, hubby Nick Cannon was not overwhelmed with the exciting news because amazingly, he filed for divorce from Ms. Carey the same week. No word whether Nick tried to talk Carey out of what may prove to be a disasterous career move. Simply put, Vegas is the place where fading stars, who haven't had a hit album in eons, go to finally end their careers.  But I guess we already said that.  What makes this story truly mind-boggling is the additional news that Caesars' parent company, Caesars Entertainment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the very same week.  One can only speculate that the advance sales for Ms. Carey's shows did not quite meet expectations.  Apparently, Caesars is carrying a debt load of many billions of dollars and the news of Carey's signing did little to soothe investors.  Put this all together, and it's hard not to see that these 3 events are linked and inter-connected.  Fading and almost broke superstar signs last ditch effort to revive faltering career which hubby wisely objects to, but fails to convince wife of pitfalls so he bails on a once successful marriage. Corporate execs see the handwriting on the wall and choose to seek bankruptcy in order to stiff their creditors, when they realize that Mariah Carey is hardly the news to bolster sagging cash reserves.  Pardon us if we choose to forego our purchase of tickets for the Carey show.  The next chapter of this sad saga will be Carey canceling performances due to alleged throat and voice problems.  We said it here first.  RZ

Bucket Of Crabs

Posted on: 01/11/2015

    We have been rather fortunate to be part of 3 separate and distinct 'communities' in our life.  As some of you know, we had a long career as a criminal trial attorney followed by an even longer career as a criminal trial judge before our musical venture.  The community of the lawyers and judges leaves much to be desired.  Although outwardly friendly, it was pretty much always plagued by jealously, competitiveness and greed.  The element of money can always be counted on to spoil everything decent in building relationships that hopefully would last a lifetime.  My second community was my venture into the world of professional boxing where I spent 10 years as a State of Florida professional boxing judge.  This community was terrific and created a vast number of wonderful, memorable moments, as well as the meeting of a large group of very special people brought together by their love of competitive fighting.  Initially, this surprised me.  The boxing community was shockingly gentle, warm, loved to tell stories, laughed and smiled a lot and often reached out to help one another.  The boxing old-timers love to be remembered and can always be counted on to create a special atmosphere, especially in Las Vegas on the eve of a much anticipated big boxing event.  We thoroughly enjoyed that portion of our life and miss the many friendships we made in judging literally hundreds of matches.  The musical community is my third community of sorts.  Herein the explanation for the title of our erstwhile Blog, ie, 'Bucket Of Crabs".  Crabs confined to a bucket will always pull each other back to the bottom of the bucket if one of their number should get to close to escaping over the rim of the bucket.  This consistent practice ensures that no single crab be successful in obtaining its freedom.  Some musicians and bands will engage in this practice, thereby keeping all of them stuck at the bottom of the bucket.  Musicians are easily the most creative of the 3 named communities, and have the potential to have wonderful lives full of adventure and fun.  But to make this happen, we can't be crabs in a bucket.  A much better choice is to support each other in all ways possible.  Bands who achieve a modicum of success need to reach down and help other bands reach toward their goals by including them on quality gigs and events.  At the very least, members of different bands should attend each others' gigs and be there to cheer each other on and show support by their attendance.  This approach will allow the community of musicians to reach its full potential and result in a bucket full of fun, which is one of the main motivations for being a musician in the first place.  So please, let's help each other.  It can be as simple as a compliment, making an introduction, or showing another musician a few tricks of the trade.  But do it.  RZ

Youth Must Be Served

Posted on: 01/04/2015

    In the arena of the pop music world, youth thoroughly dominates who gets to be today's latest star.  If you ain't young, you can pretty much put your dreams of stardom on the shelf to collect dust. In this week's stirring Blog, we discuss the ladies and how age (as opposed to talent) influences their success and chances of achieving it.  Take Madonna.  Please.  She is a ripe 56 years of age and hasn't had a hit album in oh so many years.  In a pathetic attempt to remain relevant, she shows her sagging boobs, thinking that will resurrect interest in her long forgotten career.  Brittany Spears is 'only' 33, but she faded away musically eons ago.  Of questionable talent to begin with, Ms. Spears hasn't been near the charts in years and has been reduced to exhibiting her clumsy dancing to a bunch of inebriated insurance salesmen and their heavily made-up wives in Las Vegas.  This is so far beyond pathetic to defy accurate description.  Katy Perry just turned 30 and seems to be riding high, but Ms. Perry's days as a big star are very much numbered.  The thin-voiced Perry will soon be joining Spears in a desprate attempt to remain popular in guess where, yup Las Vegas.  A bit younger is Lady Gaga who at 28 is sadly long over the hill.  Her appeal to the 12 year old little girl crowd is kaput simply because the girls simply got older and disposed of Gaga like yesterday's tv dinner.  Singing with Tony Bennett was a good career move, but where do you go from there?  Frank Sinatra is already dead.  Today's biggest female star is Taylor Swift, who also caters to the pre-pubescent little girl audience.  Swift is 25, so she can look forward to a lengthy (sic) career that spans another 2 or 3 and maybe 4 years before she is discarded.  Charli XCX is the new hot chick singer (at least according to Rolling Stone Magazine).  The mag put Chuck on its later cover.  Her wise career move so far was NOT going on American Idol, so at 22 the best is in front of her.  And lastly, we have Ella Yelich, more commonly known as Lorde, who at 18 will become a monster star.  Possessed of a modicum of talent, it makes little difference, because she is the youngest of them all and that's what counts in the year 2015.  RZ

2015 Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame

Posted on: 12/21/2014

    Once again, the joke that is the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame announced its annual not-funny insult to rock fans across the world.  For the umpteenth time, deserving bands like Randy California's 'Spirit', Arthur Lee's 'Love', Larry Hoppen's 'Orleans', and Jesse Colin Young's 'The Youngbloods' were not even nominated for 2015.  Also joining the list of the ignored are 2 spectacular singer-soloists, namely Johnny Ray and Johnny Ace.  The sordid truth about this is that the people charged with making these decisions don't know squat about how rock got started and even less about who created the music back in the fifties  They don't know the difference between Scotty Moore, Archie Moore or Michael Moore.  Stupidity and ignorance, what a lovely combination, which pretty much speaks for the times. Those elected this year include Bill Withers, proving mediocrity is a virtue, also Joan Jett, another ode to mediocrity who never recorded even a decent tune, and Lou Reed, a decent musician, but with a voice incapable of singing even a second octave.  Fortunately, there are 2 selections this year that we are comfortable with.  First, Stevie Ray Vaughn, a brilliant guitarist whose studio performance of the Jimi Hendrix classic 'Little Wing' single-handedly qualifies him for admission.  Only SRV could actually improve on Jimi's original virtuoso performance.  So we won't quibble with his election.  The star of this year's annual debacle has to be 'The Paul Butterfield Blues Band' which spawned 3 spectacular rock musicians.  They are guitarist Mike Bloomfield, guitarist Elvin Bishop, and keyboardist Al Kooper. That fact alone is sufficient to make Butterfield's band more than worthy for admission.  RZ

Out Of Thin Air

Posted on: 12/14/2014

    We always find it a bit odd that devotees of rock guitar know so little about how and where it all came about.  There was a time when the sounds made by a guitar were not electrified.  It was just strings attached to wood and called an acoustic guitar.  And then it all changed.  So who were the originators and inventors of rock guitar that made these sounds an everyday occurrence that all players pretty much these days take for granted?  And who were the early musicians who first created the sounds we've all come to enjoy so much?  We have to start with 2 inventors who are responsible for changing the landscape.  Of course, every guitar player knows the names of Les Paul and Leo Fender, both of whom lived to ripe old ages and have both been inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame. In Fender's case, this is remarkable since he never learned to play the instruments he created.  Paul invented the solid body instrument, popularly know as the SG model manufactured by both Gibson and Epiphone.  Fender is responsible for inventing the popular Telecaster and Stratocaster models manufactured by his namesake, the Fender guitar company.  Without these two extraordinary gentlemen, there is no Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or Roy Buchanan.  So now the question becomes, who were the first musicians to take these marvelous inventions and play the genre of music that would become rock ' roll?  Les Paul himself was an amazing player and was a frequent guest on the old Ed Sullivan television show of the decade of the fifties.  While well-known at the time, Paul did not play rock music and very few players were influenced by him to try their hand at the instrument until Scotty Moore came along.  Moore, who achieved fame by being the lead guitar player behind Elvis Presley, was the first to use an early Gibson model electric guitar that turned the world of music upside down.  We are always amazed how few guitar fans know anything about the legendary Scotty Moore.  The other player of almost equal importance was Buddy Holly.  It was Holly, out of Lubbock, Texas, in the middle fifties, who became the first rock musician to use the Fender Stratocaster model.  Today, rock guitar players use that instrument, more than any other.  So there you have 4 names, Les Paul, Leo Fender, Scotty Moore and Buddy Holly, together who created something unique and world-changing. And they did it out of thin air.  RZ

Show The Singer Some Slack

Posted on: 12/07/2014

    We have said this before.  Being in a rock band is like being married to 4 or 5 women at the same time without the sex.  The concept of team is alien to most musicians we have played with.  At least this has been our experience so far.  My band of 2 years and having performed some 50 or so gigs, "FRESH AIR" thought it was set.  We had talented and young musicians at every position, but then real jobs took preference and our bass player and drummer were unable to continue.  We have maintained good relationships with both and still continue to play on occasion with both.  They were replaced by older, experienced musicians, but who lacked the showmanship and energy of the young dudes.  Then the proverbial crap hit the fan.  The guitar player complained that those two were both too loud and didn't want to jeopardize his hearing by gigging with them.  The bass player thereupon insulted the guitarist's talent which has now served to poison the well and ruined what chemistry we had when they first came aboard.  We were forced to choose sides and chose the guitarist since he was an original member.  So now we look for a new bassist and drummer whose volume level will be compatible with that of the guitarist.  We were surprised by the number of people who expressed a desire to join our little band and soon settled on the remnants of a band that lost its singer a couple of years back and were unable to replace him.  We will meet these guys this week and will play together for the first time.  We really don't need another guitar player but it seems he's part of the package along with the bassist and drummer.  What we found surprising is that even though these guys expressed a desire to join us, they have prematurely been pushing their own list of songs that they used to do with the old band.  The point is that even experienced musicians who are NOT lead singers have little appreciation for what it takes to learn and master a new tune.  Learning the equivalent of a 10 page script is a task of monumental proportions and they expect you to do it on multiple occasions in order to make their assimilation into the band easier for them.  The lesson is go slowly with your lead singer.  Anticipate him learning a new tune about once a month.  Do not bombard him with your old song list expecting him to quickly adapt to it.  Otherwise, don't look to join an already established and popular band like "FRESH AIR".  We will report back at a later date.  Hopefully, the new guys will be flexible and assimilate smoothly into their new band.  RZ

Kings Of Leon - Album Review

Posted on: 11/30/2014

    There once was a time when it was appropriate to select 'album of the year' at the end of each year, but for the last decade or so there hasn't been a single album released by anybody that qualifies for this honor.  This pretty much sums up the reality of where rock 'n roll resides at the present time. Fortunately, we have now found a candidate to be labeled a truly great album which forces us to modify the previous statement.  In fact there exists an album released in 2008 by "Kings Of Leon" entitled 'Only By The Night'. While we have been aware of this effort for some time it was only when my band "FRESH AIR" decided to cover 'Use Somebody' that we bothered to purchase the CD for listening in my car.  What a wonderful $6 investment from Best Buy.  The album features 3 spectacular unforgettable tunes, namely the aforementioned 'Use Somebody' which is as good as any rock tune we have ever heard as well as 'Sex On Fire' and our personal favorite 'Revelry'.  The latter tune features melody, harmony, crisp arrangement, Dylanesque lyrics and a memorable vocal performance by band leader Caleb Followill.  The rest of the group, all members of the Followill family are up to the task of creating a masterpiece that grows on you with each listening.  There used to be a time when tunes of this nature used to be released on a regular basis, but those days are long gone. When it does happen, as in this case, we appreciate it more than ever.  'Kings Of Leon' deserve special recognition for reminding us of the artistic potential of rock music.  If you haven't added these tunes to your collection, it is time to do so.  We shall always be fans of this exciting artistic band.  RZ

Time Magazine

Posted on: 11/23/2014

    Growing up as a child in upstate New York, copies of Time Magazine were a regular staple in the Ric Zweig household.  Time could be depended upon to report the relevant news of the week in a non-political, prosletyzing manner.  Time had no political agenda to advance and the reader could never be sure if they were liberal or conservative.  Like Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid of CBS News, their personal politics were well hidden from their millions of readers.  But all that has changed with the advent of the highly successful women's movement and Time's rapidly declining subscriber circulation. People don't read magazines much anymore and once great Time Magazine has sadly become a vehicle for a political movement based entirely on feminism and issues primarily pertinent to women. Illustrative of this bias is the recent cover story written about GM CEO Mary Barra which mightily strived to paint the executive in the most flattering manner possible.  No indictments for Barra who has worked at GM for more than 30 years and whose company has murdered unacceptable numbers of its customers.  No mention of allegations that GM was aware of its' ignition problems and hid same in an effort to protect profits.  Instead Time protected Barra (she simply was unaware) and painted warm fuzzy reminisces of her childhood growing up with her dad.  Time has a new female editor, Nancy Gibbs and the story was authored by chief staff writer Rana Foroohar, who not surprisingly, is also female,.  Additionally, all of them, including Barra have attended a number of female networking events, closed to men, which advocate the notion of women sticking together, advancing and protecting other women. Time could have written a highly critical article of GM and Barra, holding them responsible for their deadly crimes.  Instead they protected and covered her, touting the company propaganda that this is a new era for GM.  No mention of the many victims and their families whose lives were shattered by the companies' products.  Time's latest issue continues the advancement of its feminist agenda. The 'Nation' column at the front of the magazine, touts failed Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as a future Republican Presidential candidate. No mention of course of how she almost destroyed HP before her untimely ouster.  Next is a fluff piece on President Obama's choice for new Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch.  The piece touts Lynch's deal with Citibank, who Lynch allowed to escape criminal prosecution for corruption by paying a 7 billion dollar fine.  The 'Culture' section features another fluff piece on pop singer Fergie which paid tribute to her philosophy of "I love girls stepping outside of the box and doing something that is unexpected of them".  How inspiring.  Continuing Time's sell-out of any journalistic standard is Kristin Van Ogtrop's column on how we should raise our children. No mention of what qualifies Ogtrop to dispense her invaluable guidance.  But the straw that broke my back is the Cover story and major fluff piece on music pop star Taylor Swift which pretty much equates Swift's talent as equal to the return of Jesus.  Taylor Swift is to music what Honey Boo Boo is to acting.  Even children know that Swift has no credible standing as a songwriter what with her countless odes to what it must be like to be a 14 year old girl in high school. The other staple for Swift is her revenge-motivated tunes about all the many guys who have dumped the boyish pop star.  For this, Time gives Swift a literary treatment usually reserved for songwriters like Dylan, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and John Lennon.  More than likely Swift was part of the same women's networking conference attended by Time's editor and GM's Mary Barra.  How else to explain this laudatory treatment.  The cover of Time used to mean something.  I want the magazine of my youth back.  I am not holding my breath.  RZ

Genius & No Genius

Posted on: 11/16/2014

    We recently came across a quote from Kanye West where he referred to himself as a creative genius, which prompted a hearty laugh on our part.  This was the same character who recently screamed from the stage at a person in a wheelchair to stand up.  We remembered a statement uttered many years ago made by Jimi Hendrix on the Dick Cavett television show where Cavett asked Hendrix if he Hendrix considered himself the best guitarist at that time.  Hendrix never answered the question directly, but responded that compliments made him feel uncomfortable and distracted him from his musical objectives.  It's fascinating to put these comments side by side.  One made by a semi-illiterate laughingstock rapper and the other by the greatest guitarist who ever lived.  Mr. West's statement is full of braggadocio while Mr. Hendrix' statement is full of modesty.  There is little debate as to whether Jimi Hendrix deserved the rank of genius.  Only a small hand full of musicians over the last 60 years are worthy of that characterization.  Besides Hendrix, we would include Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, John Lennon, Andrew Lloyd Webber and maybe David Bowie.  Honorable mention possibly to Bruce Springsteen.  And that about exhausts the genius list.  Of course, there many others whose work was brilliant, but genius must be reserved for only a select few.  That grouping might include Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino and a personal favorite, Arthur Lee.  Sorry Mr. West.  You are not a genius, at least not yet, but the very beautiful Kim Kardashian is not a bad consolation prize.  RZ

Beyonce & Prince

Posted on: 11/09/2014

    Both Beyonce and Prince have achieved extraordinary success in the world of pop music.  One of them is a legitimate musical genius as both a performer, composer and instrumentalist.  The other has never had a single creative moment in her life, making her success on her ability to adroitly shake her vagina, wear outrageous and fake white person's hair that always has a powerful fan blowing it in all directions, all designed to present an image of being much more than she really is. The hippy, pushed-up bra, line-backer sized singer's personna is carefully and skillfully crafted to be bigger than life when what we really have behind the smoke and mirrors is a thin-voiced woman desperately trying to channel Etta James.  Prince, on the other hand has had the stroke of extraordinary talent from the first moment he appeared on the scene.  His film "Purple Rain" was a masterful debut for a star who acted, sang, composed the musical score and played guitar with absolute brilliance.  While Beyonce is well-known for generously borrowing the artistic creativity of other artists, Prince is a masterful originator who others are quick to emulate.  But make no mistake, there is only one Prince as he proved once again in his amazing live performance on last week's SNL television show.  The 58 year old performer remains forever-young in his appearance and once again exhibited his amazing skill on the electric guitar.  All of this remains a backdrop for the hard to believe news that once highly regarded Rutgers University in New Jersey, offers its about to be duped students a course in its Gender-Studies program which aims to assess, according to Time Magazine, American class, racial, gender, and sexual politics through the music and career of Beyonce.  We know what you are thinking, but this is not the bullshit it appears to be.  They really do have such a program which actually idolizes the semi-illiterate pop star.  More proof that the apocalypse will soon be upon us.  You don't have to utilize much brain power to figure out the race and gender of the individual at Rutgers who brought this debacle to the higher-education landscape.  We will now go out on a limb and predict that when Beyonce reaches the age of 58, her career will be long since over and she will be carrying around a 200 pound cellulite body without a fake wig anywhere in sight.  Bank on it.  RZ

Jerry Lee

Posted on: 11/02/2014

    The other day we noted that famed rocker Jerry Lee Lewis was 79 years of age.  Where exactly does Jerry Lee fit in with regard to the beginnings of rock 'n roll?  There is no question that he has to be considered one of the founders.  His uniqueness and originality can not be questioned.  No one has ever attempted to duplicate or cover Lewis.  It simply cannot be done.  Elvis spawned several imitators such as Tommy Sands, Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins who temporarily traded in his country roots to record "Blue Suede Shoes", a true rocker of a tune in an effort to cash in on Presley's popularity.  How ironic that Elvis almost immediately covered "Blue..." and scored the much bigger hit.  Covering other artists' stuff was nothing new for Elvis.  One of his first hits was "Hound Dog" originally done by a Black artist named Big Mama Thornton, who achieved little success with her version.  Elvis was a performer, not a composer or songwriter.  Besides Thornton and Perkins, he liberally covered 'Little Richard' (Richard Penniman) with his versions of "Tutti Frutti" and "Lucille".  So who was more important to the birth and development of early rock 'n roll?  The answer is clearly not Elvis.  Although Presley was the first superstar rock personality and performer, he is a minor player in the early developmental history of rock.  He is dwarfed by 'Little Richard' and even more so by Jerry Lee Lewis.  "Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On" would have to be considered the first ever monster tune in the evolution of early rock.  "Shaking..." simply changed everything.  There was a new sheriff in town and its name was rock 'n roll and it was a piano rather than a guitar that ushered in its arrival.  Guitar quickly caught up with the bombastic arrivals of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly.  Jerry Lee Lewis was a giant success, easily rivaling Elvis in popularity. Jerry Lee scored again with "Great Balls Of Fire" but soon after had his career derailed by news of his dalliance with a 13 year old girl who he was to later marry.  Back in the day, no performer wanted to follow Lewis.  He simply tore the roof off any venue and drove audiences into a frenzy with his hard-driving original rock 'n roll.  It's good to know Jerry Lee Lewis is still kicking and shaking it to this very day.  RZ

The 27 Club

Posted on: 10/26/2014

    No musician should strive to be a member of this club.  Entry is obtained by being a famous musician who passed away at the age of 27.  The founding father of this morbid elite group was famed blues guitarist Robert Johnson who was poisoned by a jealous suitor.  The groups' membership numbers picked up steam toward the end of the wild decade of the sixties when Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all died from drug complications due to serious misadventures.  These are probably the most famous members of the gang, but actually there are many others.  Let's run them down. (figuratively speaking of course)  The Stones' mop-haired Brian Jones is another exclusive member who left us at age 27.  Nobody can dispute the influence of the Grateful Dead and one of their founding members, namely Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.  Yup, you guessed it, also dead at 27.  Of lesser fame was the leader of Badfinger, Pete Harn, who also gained entry with his death.  One of the most popular groups of the sixties was Canned Heat, who scored with their monster single, "Goin' Up The Country".  A key member of that group was Alan Wilson,  also dead at 27.  We neglected to mention two other very famous musician members.  Everyone remembers Nirvana and their mercurial leader Kurt Cobain whose shotgun suicide, sure enough occurred at age 27.  One of the more recent inductions was famed singer Amy Winehouse, who also departed this life due to drug misadventure. We would like to clarify the non-admission of two other very famous musicians who were denied entry due to their NOT being 27 at the time of their deaths.  Mama Cass Elliot from The Mamas And The Papas was 32 so she missed out.  The great Bon Scott from AC/DC was 33 at his passing so he also lacked the credentials for membership.  Add it all up and we have quite an impressive list of jammers for the heavenly mid-week jam.  So the message to my fellow musicians is simple.  Never hurts to tone things down if you want to stick around for awhile.  RZ


Posted on: 10/19/2014

    There has always been a correlation between rock 'n roll and those individuals who play the music with regard to the length of their hair.  Early practitioners of the craft like Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent wore their hair slightly long enough to distinguish themselves from everyone else.  But the advent of 'The Beatles' pushed the envelope significantly forward to such a degree that subsequently, everyone who played the music had long hair.  In the case of the writer of this Blog, we wore our hair on the short side while we pursued our rather successful legal career.  But as the legal stuff began to wind down and the music guy began to emerge, the hair correspondingly began to lengthen.  Recently, the law world finally ended after more than a 30 year journey and our hair was now longer than ever.  So the question presents itself, what is it about playing rock music that makes the players have long hair?  Could just the pursuit of the genre cause a physiological reaction in the human body sufficient to cause hair to grow long? Probably not.  Maybe it's a sense of freedom that we feel as musicians that causes us to forego trips to the barber.  After all, I haven't cut my hair in 12 years, and that has the effect of causing hair to be strikingly long.  We decided to pay attention to hair length with regard to some of the more famous rockers who are approaching senior status or are already there.  Phil Collins is completely bald.  Peter Gabriel is almost the same.  Art Garfunkel is bald.  Paul Simon is not far off.  Sting has no hair. Bruce's hair is shorter than ever but bandmate Little Stevie is still sporting the long stuff.  Tom Petty is still rocking as hard as ever and his hair is as long as in the glory days.  The same can be said for Robert Plant and to a lesser degree with Jimmy Page who still looks like the proverbial rock musician. Billy Joel is bald, but Gene Simmons remains a devotee of the long stuff.  Dylan has pretty much lost his and Van Morrison has been doing the bald thing for some time.  So maybe what all this info adds up to is that the musician population is much the same as the general population.  Some lose it, some don't.  A recent visit to a club here in South Florida that draws the creme' de la creme' of local rock talent exhibited much of the same.  Many musicians wore their locks long and many others had short or no hair.  The correlation may no longer exist.  But in our own personal case, the long hair connects us nostalgically to our youth.  As long as I have hair, it shall remain long.  It makes me feel younger. Besides, it saves time and money and that can't be all bad.  RZ

Miley Cyrus & Her Little Titties

Posted on: 10/12/2014

    You really have to hand it to Miley Cyrus.  The young 21 year-old has no shame whatsoever. Despite being not blessed with an attractive body, she proudly exhibits her scrawny self and miniature titties as if she were a Kardashian.  Perhaps you caught the recent pic that bombarded the internet of Cyrus totally topless except for some pasties that barely covered her undersized breasts. We guess the message to all her legions of fans is who cares if you aren't blessed with normal sized boobs, just show up and exhibit what little you do have and let the rest of the world be damned. There is a streak of fierce independence being exhibited here (along with the size-challenged boobies) or perhaps it's just a very desperate call for attention.  We are inclined to believe the latter as the pic also shows poor Miley wearing over-sized sunglasses and sporting a lit cigarette in her left hand.  Once thing is certain, Cyrus cares not one iota what we, you, or anyone else thinks about her.  This is not so difficult to achieve really when you are young, famous, and most importantly, very rich.  But Ms. Cyrus may soon discover, as so many others have already done, that these attributes are fleeting at best.  Her once best-selling music has completely disappeared from Billboard's weekly lists.  We sincerely hope that she recaptures that loving feeling and gets back to making good music, as she is a somewhat talented singer.  But this latest escapade with the mini-titties suggests she has been reduced to being a pathetic seeker of attention at all costs.  RZ 

Still The Queen Of Soul

Posted on: 10/05/2014

    Every once in a while, television offers a live special moment that sears into our brains as an ultimate show stopper moment.  Such a moment happened a few days ago on Dave Letterman's late night talk show when Aretha Franklin showed up to perform her new single, "Rolling In The Deep". Accompanied by Paul Schaefer and his band, an additional full horn section that Aretha brought along, as well as a full female chorus vocal backup, Ms. Franklin literally tore it up.  We had heard this song, written by pop singer Adele, previously and were not particularly impressed, but Aretha put a whole different spin on the tune and proved once again, that at this point in time, she has no equal. Employing a combination of vocal power, tonal uniqueness and a sense of rhythm in perfect time, joined by a vocal phrasing that simply can not be matched by any of today's thinly voiced female pop stars.  And we all know who they are. She simply has no peer in the singing business.  The performance went flying over the top when the chorus singers began singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" written almost 50 years ago by the late Nick Ashford and his wife, Valerie Simpson.  With that rejoinder, Aretha kicked it into the highest gear possible.  You had to be there.  So take a moment and Yahoo the performance or her equally mind-blowing recorded version and give yourself a treat and listen to what real singing is all about.  Bravo Ms. Franklin and may your flag wave on.  RZ

Shawn Carter

Posted on: 09/28/2014

    Last night, Shawn Carter, who goes by the stage name of Jay Z, took the stage in New York City's Central Park as the featured act of the Global Citizen Festival.  A somewhat enthusiastic crowd greeted the aging 45 year old rapper as he began his set accompanied by a full band.  Give Carter a modicum of credit.  He was NOT joined on stage by a full compliment of young attractive dancers who usually seem to shadow most big time rappers these days.  Carter went it alone until thankfully being joined by wifey-poo Beyonce who, as usual, looked ravishingly beautiful, despite her over the top fake hair and underneath girdle designed to flatten her stomach and accentuate her butt.  Maybe our age is showing, but Carter's popularity is an enigma to us.  He unleashed a barrage of guttural, unintelligible grunts and groans which defy being understood by any human over the age of 16 which postures as music to a throng of obviously stoned concert goers.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  He can't sing. He can't dance.  But he is adept at telling the audience to "make some noise" every couple of minutes.  Such is the state of what passes for entertainment these days.  As previously noted, Beyonce eventually joined her husband to provide a rescue for hubby-poo who was sadly drowning on stage.  She provided a necessary spark by almost immediately having a clothing malfunction with regard to a push-up bra that stubbornly refused to push-up.  She fidgeted with the device almost constantly which only served to call even more attention to the problem which really wasn't a problem to the predominantly male audience.  Despite the somewhat flattening of her boobies, she was in fine voice, at least compared to Carter, who has never met a tune he was unable to carry. Make some noise.  Hey, how about carrying a tune, which would have been an appropriate response from the assemblage.  For their finale, they attempted to perform what might have been Dylan's classic "Forever Young".  We can't be sure, since they saw fit to change the melody, as well as change the lyrics so who knows what in God's name that really was.  Why let credit to another performer get in the way of a wonderful mind set, ie staying young.  Hopefully, Carter will continue to age (a good bet) and realize that being 50 and a rapper is decidedly pathetic.  Did I say that Beyonce looked ravishingly beautiful?  RZ


Posted on: 09/21/2014

    Now here's a topic not a single media outlet dares to touch.  Having an open and honest discussion about race actually means NEVER saying or writing anything that might be construed as a criticism of anything Black.  That is the reality of today's America.  Any criticism of Black American culture subjects the speaker to being labeled a racist.  But we here at the Ric Zweig Blog dare to write the truth where others shy away from this controversial topic.  We are writing today about the recent scandal regarding African-American NFL football stars who have engaged in a rash of domestic violence and child abuse.  There have been all too many of these cases involving such star players as Ray Rice (Ravens), Adrian Peterson (Vikings), Ray McDonald (49ers), Greg Hardy (Panthers), Jonathan Dwyer (Cardinals) as well as other lesser known players.  Unfortunately, ALL of these violent incidents against women and children have been perpetrated by African-American men. No one, and I mean no one has the courage to point this obvious fact out.  Instead the criticism and negative comments are laid at the doorstep of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggesting somehow that this crisis in off the field player behavior is his fault.  We ask our readers the following question. What is the biggest influence among young African-American males in our country?  Is it the Church? No.  Is it the family?  No.  Is it country music?  No.  Is it the world of rap, urban and hip-hop so-called music?  YES.  Step inside the locker rooms of EVERY NFL team and hear what's being played in the earphones of the Black athletes.  The answer is rap, with its constant repetitious themes of women being betrayed as bitches and hoes.  Thug life and how dangerous and violent you can be are portrayed as virtues to aspire to.  The complete lack of morality is another all to common theme, instead praising accumulation of bling, power and cash as virtues.  With this being the case, how can young African-American football players be expected to act in a manner completely at odds with that so prominently being bombarded into their ear pieces.  Of course, they will terrorize their women using head-butts and fists to secure their points of view.  For the first time Black culture is under attack in this country.  Black women have simply had enough and are fighting back all of which is good in the long run.  The real culprit however, is the so-called art form known as rap music which fuels the behavior of Black men.  It is this self-destructive behavior which will ultimately end the careers of star Black football players who have spent way too long worshipping the false God of rap. RZ

Kanye West Is No God

Posted on: 09/14/2014

    We have never been fans of Kanye West.  It is our humble opinion that he has no recognizable talent.  Everything he does is exactly the same as everything else he does.  He can't sing, he can't dance and he can't rap.  There are many others who feel differently.  That's the way it goes.  We are all free to like who we like and dislike who we choose to dislike.  It is his prerogative to have bypassed all the beautiful Black women of the world and choose instead an aging, talent-less, somewhat heavy-set porn tape maker to be his wife.  That's his decision and frankly it's none of our business.  He has an ego the size of Texas, unabashedly on display with his tune, "I Am A God". But so what.  That's all too common in the world of rap, urban and hip-hop.  His bravado has no bounds as evidenced when at the Video Music Awards some years back, he interrupted Taylor Swift's winner speech to obnoxiously claim Beyonce should have won.  But now he has set yet a new standard for bad taste this past Friday in Sydney, Australia by stopping his show to yell at 2 fans who did not stand up, ignoring West's command to do so.  One minor problem here.  One kid had a prosthetic limb and the other was in a wheelchair.   Such a minor problem did not stop West from hurling insults at the 2 until the kid with the prosthetic held it over his head for all to see and other fans shouted that the second kid was wheelchair bound. Only then did West cease and desist.   Imagine the degree of arrogance a performer has to possess to pull this stunt.  How is it even possible to be this insensitive to the feelings of others less fortunate.  We have never been supporters of artists at concerts who implore fans to stand up or clap their hands.  Our attitude is we paid for the tickets.  We will stand up & or clap when you do something that makes us want to do so.  You are here to entertain us, not the other way around.  So goes the world.  RZ

No Politics

Posted on: 09/07/2014

    Regular readers of the Ric Zweig Blog know that we avoid two (2) topics like the plague, ie politics and religion.  We might be a wee bit guilty of violating that policy with this week's humble entry.  It concerns artist policy with regard to playing Israel in the past as well as this very summer.  We were prompted to do so by stumbling across an internet recorded message from Lady Gaga in which she advised her fans that she would soon be seeing them in Tel Aviv, Israel for her scheduled concert. Now we have never been fans of the Gag lady, but props and kudos are in order for her courageous stand in NOT canceling her show because of the Israeli-Hamas war.  Now let's take a toll of who has honored their concert commitments and who has not.  First and foremost is Madonna, hugely popular in Israel, having played the country four (4) times in the last twenty (20) years.  Justin Timberlake, as well as the 'Rolling Stones' have both played Israeli shows this summer.  However, a number of others have cancelled their appearances this summer citing security or by taking pro-Hamas stances. One of our favorites, namely Neil Young was in the former group as well as CeeLo Green, 'Megadeath' and the 'Backstreet Boys'.  Going much further than mere cancellation and espousing anti-semitic positions as well as promoting the political agenda of a recognized terror organization are Eddie Vedder, Elvis Costello and most notably 'Pink Floyd's Roger Waters who has been at the forefront of the Hamas propaganda machine.  Shame on these mis-informed ignorant musicians who turn their back on the ONLY democratic country in the Middle East, instead aligning themselves with an extremist group who terrorizes innocent civilians, kidnaps and murders children and consistently violates the rights of its women.  Our response will be to inform as many as possible of the truth so that our money can be spent wisely.  Sorry Neil Young and the others.  We will be spending our money elsewhere now and in the future.  RZ

Pain & Poverty

Posted on: 08/31/2014

    Like many others, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog, were under the mistaken impression that the birth of the Blues began with guitarist and singer Robert Johnson, who plied his trade in the decade of the thirties in the deep south of the United States.  However, after reading a painstakingly researched book written by Alan Greenberg entitled "Love In Vain", we have correctly altered our opinion.  The fact is that no single artist can be attributed to have been the first to play the Blues.  This deeply felt genre of original American music was born out of the pain and poverty that so many African-Americans endured in the early part of the 20th. century.  What follows is a list of musicians who both preceded Robert Johnson and can rightfully be credited with mightily influencing him.  Possibly the most successful blues artist of the time was another Johnson, specifically Lonnie Johnson, who enjoyed much commercial stardom.  There is no doubt of LJ's influence on RJ.  Charlie Patton was another bluesman who clearly preceded Robert.  Alabama's Ike Zinnerman must also be included as a teacher of technique to Robert.  The same can be said of Willie Brown.  Robert copied Brown's right hand fingering techniques to his advantage.  The great Son House as well as Skip James also preceded Robert.  James was re-discovered at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.   The British rock supergroup 'Cream' featuring Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker shortly thereafter, recorded James' "I'm So Glad" on its debut album, but James passed away soon after and was denied the success he rightfully deserved.  Another stalwart of the era was Blind Lemon Jefferson who tragically died at the age of 33 as a result of freezing to death in wintry Chicago. Robert Johnson's brief life was one tragedy after another.  Robert's passing was preceded 7 years earlier by the death of his young wife and baby during childbirth.  Robert Johnson was to die at the age of 27, a victim of murder by poisoning.  Many years later, the 'Rolling Stones' recorded his tune "Love In Vain" to great success. Robert Johnson never lived to taste success.  But a legend remains intact that Johnson made a pact with the Devil at the Crossroads at midnight to be the greatest guitar player ever, but his soul was soon collected after the pact was signed.  We will not confirm this, but we will confirm that the Blues will always persevere through modern day proponents who are well-known to regular readers of this Blog. In addition to the names previously listed, the reader would be well-advised to listen to our all-time favorite players, namely Sam 'Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker.  RZ

Nicki The Sickie

Posted on: 08/24/2014

    Nicki Minaj is a big star.  She has a gigantic influence in both the music and African-American communities.  She, of course, is as artificial as they come.  Equipped with always attached outrageous wigs which hide her natural born-with hair and a bodice that is the skillful work of a talented plastic surgeon, the thin-voiced Minaj has made a viable career by just being sexually over-the-top bodacious.  Her latest video, entitled "Anaconda" is a blatant theft of Sir Lance A Lot's effort of years back called "Baby Got Back" which at the time was a monster hit.  Lance, in typical Black fashion, touted his alleged large member as a criteria for admiration and glorified big female Black butts as a societal goal to achieve.  Personally, we liked it because it made us laugh.  Minaj's effort makes us sad and disturbed.  No other person in America does more to retard the progress of Black people than Minaj.  No pig racist White man with a bullhorn is as harmful to the Black community as Minaj.  Here is the chorus lyric to "Anaconda".  "My anaconda don't want none unless you have buns."  Translation:  I am not giving you any of my large Black penis unless you have a big rear end.  Imagine being the father of Black teenage daughters and having to deal with this trash straight out of the mouth of Satan.  A good father who aspires to see his girls become teachers, nurses, doctors or lawyers, has to deal with this tripe from Minaj which promulgates that you are without merit if you don't have a big butt.  This renders millions of Black teenage girls feeling worthless and inadequate if they don't measure up.  Let's not under estimate the influence of this popular performer.  The obnoxious Minaj could care less.  Lacking a moral compass, she cares only about the money derived from her artistic efforts.  Her 'work' re-enforces the stereotype that Blacks are sub-humans who care only about sexual prowess.  How does legitimate Black America expect to be taken seriously and to wage their campaign for equal justice, acceptance and racial respect when they are represented by the vile Minaj who is every bit a role model as the highly respected Lebron James.  It is our view that Blacks will never gain the status they rightly deserve in America as long as the sick Nicki Minajs of the world flourish.  Where is the great Louis Armstrong when we, Blacks and Whites together, so desperately   need him.  RZ

Rockin' Palladia

Posted on: 08/17/2014

    The music television channel 'Palladia' remains the best available option for those of us who wish to view musicians performing live in concert venues.  Each year, the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame presents an annual concert show featuring some of rock's greatest performers.  This past week we watched, once again, our favorite in this series of shows, it being a show recorded in 2011 at New York City's famed Madison Square Garden.  What follows is a list of some of the amazing highlights from this concert.  It began with U2 performing some of their greatest hits.  This band always generates more live energy than in their recordings, but when they were joined on stage by Bruce Springsteen, the energy meter went off the chart.  Edge trading solos with the Boss was a treat and rest assured, the Boss can hold his own with any great rock guitar player of our era.  Springsteen was then joined by his E Street band and U2's Bono, who remained on stage.  The 2 superstars then traded vocal solos to the delight of a most enthusiastic audience who realized they were listening and watching history. Jeff Beck and his band followed, soon to be joined on stage by guitar legend Buddy Guy in a mini-tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top followed that with a raucous version of Hendrix' "Foxy Lady". Beck tried to top that with his instrumental version of The Beatles' "A Day In the Life" from the 'Sgt. Pepper' album.  Guy, Gibbons, and Beck - some serious guitar chops on stage.  The Boss and band returned to the stage with an over the top performance of "Jungleland" highlighted of course by a stirring and emotional sax solo performed by Clarence Clemons, who would pass away less than a year later.  The stunned audience was then treated to a rare performance by 'Creedence' superstar John Fogerty who, along with the E Streeters, played the Roy Orbison classic "Pretty Woman".  Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, out comes piano player extraordinaire Billy Joel who launches into 'A New York State Of Mind" trading vocal verses with Springsteen.  Not to be outdone, that was followed by the Springsteen classic 'Born To Run' with Joel trading vocal verses with the Boss.  Great musicians have this wonderful ability to play each other's tunes with unbridled energy and enthusiasm, despite little or no rehearsal time.  It is the essence of a truly wonderful art form and what music used to predominantly be.  Thanx to 'Palladia' for keeping this alive and well, and the great musicians who keep the lamp lit.  RZ 

A Favorite Passes

Posted on: 08/10/2014

    We all have our musical favorites.  These are bands or solo performers who you don't like for a tune or two, but for a lifetime.  In our case, we have always appreciated the California band "Love" led by Arthur Lee.  Another would be Van Morrison, our favorite songwriter of all time.  For guitar players, we have always admired Scotty Moore and Roy Buchanan.  And in the rhythm and blues category, it is our humble opinion that Bobby Womack has never had an equal.  While most other music fans enjoyed James Brown, our preference was always for Mr. Womack, whose recent passing at the age of 70 we acknowledge here.  Bobby Womack was the consummate musician.  As a songwriter, he had few equals.  As a guitar player, he was as tasteful a player we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. His playing was exquisitely precise, laden with melody, and fortified by movement in always perfect time.  But it was that voice that raised the hair on the listener's back that pulled us in and kept us there  There was simply no other voice in the world of R&B even remotely close to Bobby Womack.  It was so full of fiber and substance and rich beyond comparison.  He had one of those voices that was instantly recognizable.  You never had to ask the question, who is that.  If you were aware of Bobby Womack even just once, that was all the info needed to recognize subsequent efforts.  His duets with Patti LaBelle on the Poet 2 album bear testament to his genius.  No other performer's voice symbolized the essence of R&B music more than Bobby Womack.  You would have to go back to the late great Otis Redding, who passed in 1969, to find a performer remotely close.  Bobby Womack's life was full of turbulence and turmoil.  We will not recount it here.  He never received his due in the music world, which is most unfortunate.  But such is the path for so many blessed with special talent. But knowledgeable fans of music have always been aware of Bobby Womack and will not soon forget his many contributions.  RZ

Lip Synching Unabashed

Posted on: 08/03/2014

    There once was a time when lip-synching was almost never practiced by anybody.  There was really no reason to pretend that you were actually performing when you could really perform.  The practice began to gain favor among talent-less wanna be musicians who would find themselves thrust upon a stage without the musical chops to do so.  By doing so, a band or a solo artist would fool the watcher and listener into thinking that the performer could actually play.  It was a form of blatant dishonesty and relegated the artist to shame and ridicule from other more serious musicians.  Not so anymore.  In today's cultural disregard for quality, so-called artists not only lip-synch, but frankly don't care if you care.  Recently, we were channel surfing when we came across one Jesse McCartney, a former child actor on a popular daytime soap called 'All My Children'.  The diminutive, now 27 year old McCartney, along with his 8 member band, appeared on the NBC network morning show 'Today'. The band pretended to play McCartney's latest overtly over-produced concoction of a tune without the slightest regard whether anybody knew they weren't really playing.  In fairness, there are a number of advantages to doing so.  No having to have the stage cluttered with amps, cables and wires.  No having to have instruments properly tuned with each other.  No being able to actually play an instrument with any identifiable skill.  And most importantly, more room to dance which is what's really going on here.  Little Jesse and his crew had their dance moves down pretty tight.  Nothing special or out of the ordinary.  But there was evidence they had spent the better part of a day rehearsing the synchronized movements.  In fact the dance synchronizing was far superior to the lip synchronizing.  So unabashed was this charade, that when the tune concluded,  the pretend music began for a SECOND time with the hapless McCartney standing idly by with his cohorts not sure what to do. They collectively settled for mingling, secure in the belief that their 12 year-old fans would not make the connection.  But what about the rest of us?  We are left with the following conclusions.  NBC has no artistic standards.  Jesse and his band can't really play or are too lazy to do so.  Can it get any more sordid?  The answer is probably.  RZ

Where Art Thou - American Idol?

Posted on: 07/27/2014

    Over the 3 year history of the Blog, we have from time to time given our attention to the Fox television show 'American Idol'.  There has been something oddly appealing about seeing the hopes and dreams of young people so thoroughly dashed and torpedoed in full view of the American public.  Thankfully, in recent years the popularity of the spectacle has drastically plummeted, simultaneously with the exit of judge Simon Cowell and the arrival of has been aging 45 year old superstar Jennifer Lopez.  This latest year was a complete disaster and the annual tour featuring this year's top ten has played to sparse crowds of 12 year olds and their beleaguered moms.  One of the few notable contestants, namely Dexter, actually pulled out and went home although the exact reasons for doing so are difficult to decipher.  Last year's winner, a somewhat likable semi-talented rocker, whose name has already faded from our collective memory, was notable for his lack of subsequent recording success, which usually results in a spot, albeit brief on the Billboard top 40 albums for the most recent winner. Our rocker's name has failed to enjoy any semblance of recording success which does not bode well for future winners.  Far removed in the past are the career successes of Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and the very notable country star Carrie Underwood.  In fact, the latest listing of the top 40, does not contain a single name of any of the so-called successful contestants who have appeared on 'Idol' during its 13 year run.  Also notable is the total and complete absence of so-called superstars Beyonce, Lady Gaga, or even Taylor Swift.  No one seems to have any staying power these days.  We surmise this is because the product itself is so death-defyingly non-impressive.  This week's fad is replaced by next weeks's fad.  This just might be good in the long run.  Maybe the suits behind the scene will be motivated to give the huddling masses something of a higher standard.  We can only hope.  RZ

Heroin & Jazz

Posted on: 07/20/2014

    The other day a friend took exception to a comment we made that heroin was the drug of choice of jazz musicians.  This comment was not to suggest that ALL jazz musicians use heroin, but rather to point out that the history of jazz, and its players, is amply littered with so many of its practitioners being heroin users.  To try and defend our position, let's start with the 3 most famous names in the history of jazz music, those being Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.  No objective person would suggest otherwise.  These 3 were addicts plain and simple.  But there are so many more players who allegedly used or dabbled in the use of heroin.  The addiction of music giants Ray Charles and Etta James is well-documented and not in dispute.  The internet site "Headphonian" goes even further and lists the names of 49 jazz artists who THEY claim were heroin users.  The list includes such jazz giants as Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Art Blakey, Sonny Clark and John Coltrane.  Also on the "Headphonian" list are such luminaries as Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims, Red Rodney, Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes and Woody Shaw.  They also include Gene Ammons, Anita O'Day, Bobby Timmons, Stan Tracey and Hank Mobley.  Of course, the more pressing question would be WHY heroin appeals to so many prominent jazz musicians.  Is it connected to the fact that jazz pieces tend to ramble on with no apparent end in sight?  That to the uninitiated, there appears to be no beginning, no end or the semblance of an arrangement?  Or is it related to the concept that the works are never played the same way twice?  We do not claim to have the answers to these questions.  We are not jazz fans.  But we do respect the talent of those who play the genre with great skill and earnestly hope and pray that jazz musicians will avoid the use of heroin.  RZ

Better Auto-Tune Brittany

Posted on: 07/13/2014

    It was hardly a surprise this past week to learn of the desperate use of the auto-tune mechanism being used by former pop star Brittany Spears.  Some enterprising individual leaked an actual recording of Spears singing WITHOUT the use of the auto-tune device.  It is difficult to verbally describe what this sounded like, but it brought back memories of those 'American Idol' segments devoted to aspiring applicants, totally devoid of talent, whose vocal futilities are played for laughs.  Yes, it was actually that bad.  It confirmed what so many had long suspected.  Brittany Spears never could sing.  She was a man-made artificial attempt to create a pop star using the available technology to compensate for an abhorrent lack of ability.  But this is what the music business has come to.  Find a semi-attractive young girl, have her die her long hair blonde, teach her a few lame repetitive dance moves, have her practice lip-synching for hours long into the night, plug in the auto-tune and voila, you have your next pop sensation ready to go to the bank.  Spears of course, has no shame about any of this.  So what if millions of 12 year old and younger little girls and their mothers were fooled into spending millions of dollars to waste on the Spears experience.  What's important is spend they did.  Spears has no career anymore, proving that on occasion, justice is served.  She has been reduced to a pop vocal cartoon to be displayed whenever ridicule is the theme of the day.  Looking back on the once diva's career, the highlight is her posing in an automobile devoid of wearing panties.  What a legacy and so deserving of this sham artist.  Watch out Lady Gaga, you could be next.  Our advice is it's never too late to take vocal lessons.  RZ

Why Some Bands Succeed

Posted on: 07/06/2014

    We will confess to always having a curiosity why some bands succeed and others fall by the wayside.  Obviously, the bands who are composed of members with little or no musical talent quickly disappear, although there is one exception here in South Florida with a band composed of well-endowed talentless females that seems to gig regularly.  But for the most part successful bands have multiple members who are willing to do the dirty work that keeps a band working every weekend.  Our band, "FRESH AIR" has only one member doing that work and that of course is yours truly.  The work consists of obtaining gigs, making sure the band gets paid, promoting and publicity, and keeping everyone informed.  The latter component is probably the most taxing.  E-mail, facebook and texting make contact easier than in years past, but still there is constant effort needed to keep everyone informed of rehearsals, gig dates, gig locations, and what each member needs to bring.  Some venues provide P.A. systems, others do not.  Some have drum kits, others do not.  Eventually, the one person who assumes all this responsibility grows weary of the task and so goes the band.  That's where we find ourselves as of this moment.  After being together for 18 months, our band has made significant progress in terms of its performance skills and the number of gigs we get.  The band is blessed with talent and everyone shows up on time.  But for the most part, no one does anything else.  No one brings people to the gigs, no one secures gigs and no one works to promote the band.  My bandmates show up and play and that's basically it.  Accordingly, we believe our band's days are numbered.  If this occurs, we will certainly miss the extreme pleasure of performing live.  There are few joys in life equal to that of having an enthusiastic audience cheer your efforts.  We are blessed to have experienced so many of those special moments.  Nothing beats making great music with other talented musicians.  So if you plan on trying to launch a band from scratch, make sure right from the beginning, every member agrees to assume equal responsibility of the work.  Learn from our mistake, because we fear its too late to change anything with "FRESH AIR".  RZ

J. Lo - Lame

Posted on: 06/29/2014

    So I find myself in a car recently with a mom and her precocious 13 year old daughter.  Knowing that I'm a musician, the daughter can't wait to play for me on the car CD player the latest effort from former superstar Jennifer Lopez.  I examine the cover and note that the title is A.K.A.  So, having no choice in the matter, I listen intently.  Of course, I pretend to enjoy this unadulterated tripe because no purpose is served by letting a kid know that I disapprove of her taste in music.  The quality of the production on this album is so weak, that it sounds as if the entire album was produced in a day or two.  How can J. Lo not be aware of how amateurish her album sounds?  Or maybe she just doesn't care.  I was unmercifully subjected to having to listen to the entire Lopez album and can honestly say it lacked even a single tune of at least mediocre quality.  It was simply awful.  I would have gladly confessed to any crime to avoid further being contaminated by this sonic nonsense.  The reality I guess is, if you have a big ass in America, you too can become a pop star.  When my new issue of "Rolling Stone" arrived in the mail, I noted a review of the same album by Nick Murray.  Mr. Murray wrote, "On her eighth album, however,she just sounds lost."  He generously gave the album 2 stars out of 5, a very low rating indeed.  My rating would have been 0 stars.  Only people with serious brain deficiencies could reap enjoyment from this insulting, greed-based album released by Capitol Records. RZ

"FRESH AIR" gets Dissed

Posted on: 06/22/2014

    As some of my loyal readers know, we front the eclectic, electric rock band "FRESH AIR" as lead singer and rhythm guitarist.  Yesterday, June 21st, we were booked to play the Miami Bayside Hard Rock Cafe which is considered one of the prime venues to play here in South Florida.  Due to the bumper to bumper traffic we encountered driving down south on I-95 and an accompaning torrential rain storm AND the venue parking lot being full, we ended up being ready to play on stage exactly 6 minutes AFTER our scheduled start time.  Thoroughly soaked, the promoter thereupon informed us he was cutting our set by the time we were late.  That of course, sapped any semblance of positive energy we still had in feverishly trying to start on time.  Towards the end of our set, he cut our last tune which has always been our strongest number, thus affecting the audience's final opinion of the band.  Despite this adversity, the guys in the band, Frank Stroobandt on lead guitar, Robert Bare on bass guitar and Addison Rex Smith on drums still managed to play incredibly well and I was so proud of them.  True professionals as opposed to the nameless promoter who will only receive bad karma for his insensitivity.  Earlier today, we wrote the promoter informing him the band felt disrespected by his actions.  This of course, probably means we will be cut off from doing any of his future shows, but maintaining self-respect is more important than doing a show where the vibes are not right and the musicians are not accorded any respect.  RZ

No HOF For Chubby

Posted on: 06/15/2014

    Since the creation of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame some 25 years ago, an early Philadelphia rock pioneer has had to endure abject rejection every single year from gaining admission to the HOF.       Chubby Checker had one of the biggest hits in the history of pop music.  His tune "The Twist" was a huge hit and took Checker from obscurity to being a household name.  Two years later, Checker scored again with a re-hash of the original tune, appropriately entitled, "Let's Twist Again".  The latter effort won a Grammy in 1962.  No Rock tune had ever previously scored a Grammy.  That sums up Checker's entire career.  No other hits in the last half century.  No successful albums.  No noteworthy live shows.  Checker has been reduced to traveling around the country in half-hearted feeble attempts to capture the glory of the "Twist" to small audiences of old people trying to remember their youth.         The question then becomes does this somewhat meager resume qualify for admission to the Hall?  Checker was not an accomplished musician who either played innovative guitar like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, or piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.  That threesome clearly deserved their admission.  Checker was a gimmick, much like that Korean chap Psy who scored a monster hit last year with his one hit wonder dance tune.  Checker was also a one hit wonder who uniquely had a second hit with the SAME song.  If Chubby Checker is elected in, it serves to diminish the qualifications of such musical giants as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen.  This does not mean that Chubby Checker is a bad entertainer or a bad person.  We simply support keeping the standards high.  This year's election of Peter Gabriel serves that exact purpose. "The Twist" was a fun tune, but Checker's lifetime body of work does not warrant election to the HOF.  RZ  

Excessive 50 Cant

Posted on: 06/08/2014

    We have often in the past written here about periodic new lows reached by our friends in the urban, rap and hip-hop communities.  Last week's Blog discussed Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson's pathetic and feeble attempt to throw a baseball from the pitcher's mound to home plate at New York's Shea Stadium.  The episode brought back memories of Olympic gold medalist and track star Carl Lewis when he too shattered his image as an athlete by taking on the indomitable task.  Cent's effort created a new standard of futility when his effort landed several large strides from home plate and dangerously close to plunking a photographer who mistakenly assumed he was a safe distance from the action.  At the time, Cent offered no explanation and shamelessly retreated to the dugout, safe from the ridicule and laughter from the crowd of 20 thousand who witnessed his shenanigans.  After careful consideration, Cent went public with his explanation that his failure was due and we quote, to "excessive masturbation".  Only a rapper could take an already horrible situation and make it monumentally worse, but this is what Cent succeeded in doing.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog do give Mr. Cent credit for simultaneously destroying 2 myths about tough as nails rappers.  First, that all African-Americans are athletically inclined and secondly that rappers are always awash in bodacious women ready to offer themselves for the right to baby mama the rappers' vast number of illegitimate children.  For this, we owe Mr. Cent great gratitude for setting the record straight and can only hope and pray that an element of humor might have crept into his explanation, and if so, we applaud it.  Cent may yet have a career waiting as a stand-up comedian.  RZ

Double Header

Posted on: 06/01/2014

    Admitting to a dose of schizophrenia this week, we shall address 2 separate distinct topics.  Firstly, it was more than amusing to watch 50 Cent, more realistically known as Curtis Jackson, shoot down the myth that all male African-Americans are good athletes.  It seems Cent was invited by the New York Mets major league baseball team to throw out the first pitch last week at New York's Shea Stadium.  This simple task, ie, throwing a baseball 60 feet, was too much for the limp-wristed rapper as his feeble and thoroughly effeminate attempt was just a bit outside as it landed 8 feet to the left of home plate and an equal distance short of its target.  Any future attempt by Cent to give off a tough thug persona will always be countered by his less than manly toss to home plate.  If given another opportunity to throw a baseball, Cent would be well-advised to have Mrs. Cent handle the task.                                     Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus caught our attention ad nauseum once again when she appeared in London, during her European tour, not in a stadium, but rather in a gay, somewhat poorly attended nightclub, that had more press people than actual paying patrons.  Cyrus made her entrance astride an inflatable 6 foot long penis.  Cyrus' body appeared more boyish than ever, totally devoid of any feminine curves.  Reports of Cyrus contemplating sex change surgery are unconfirmed at this time, but the star does certainly seem to be obsessed with the male sex organ.  According to 'Rolling Stone Magazine' Cyrus told the audience, "If I was a dude, I'd probably have a really big dick".  Thanks for sharing Miley.  You've certainly come a long way from Hannah Montana, as you continue your descent to who knows where.  RZ

Dumb Is Stupid, Stupid Is Dumb

Posted on: 05/25/2014

    The dumbing of America took a giant step forward this past week at the annual Billboard Music Awards.  Although 17 year old Kendall Jenner is not a musician nor possessed of even a scintilla of talent, the undeniable fact remains she is the half-sister of the Kardashian sisters.  In today's upside down world of culture, that qualifies as a basis to be a presenter at an awards show.  Unfortunately, the show's producers neglected to ascertain that poor little Miss Jenner was capable of the highly advanced attribute of reading the English language.  The most regretful truth is that our erstwhile teenager is so mentally challenged that she simply cannot read.  In her much needed defense, why bother to learn to read.  In her world of false celebrity, there is no need to be literate.  Accordingly, she isn't.  We are tempted to lay blame at the doorstep of her idiot parents, Bruce and Kris Jenner. But in their world, being able to read and write is simply not worth the time and effort to learn.  As long as you can figure out how to walk a runway and model some clothing, that qualifies as sufficient training for life. Never the less,  Bruce and Kris are our nominees for worst parents of the year, an honor worth coveting in their milieu of existence.  Just imagine how truly stupid one has to be, utterly unable to read a few words off a cue card.  We truly have to shutter what the future holds for this child, so totally unprepared for life.  I'm quite sure all the Kardashian siblings had a good laugh at Kendall's expense, completely unaware of the humiliation that the little moron suffered.  But seriously, the inept half sister now becomes a role model to tens of thousands of youngsters across our great land.  They too will decide learning to read is just not necessary in their little world.  Imagine being the poster child for illiteracy.  What else is new?  Next thing you know, unpopular youngsters will start indiscriminately murdering people in the streets.  Oh wait, that just happened earlier today.  RZ

Fame And Shame

Posted on: 05/18/2014

    We here at the Ric Zweig Blog have always been fascinated by the concept of fame and how some of us are bestowed this 'gift' while most are not.  Personally, it would be our opinion that fame would be a royal pain you know where.  The famous ones are constantly hassled in their daily lives and never ever know when the opposite sex has interest in them or just what they seemingly represent.  The famous ones are denied private, public moments and must always be guarded in everything they do.  Like youth, being famous is usually wasted on the young.  We've addressed this topic previously in writing about most gifted musicians such as super guitarist Roy Buchanan or bluesman Robert Ward who were both well known amongst their peers but were virtually unknown by the general public.  They were both deserving of being blessed or cursed by fame, but were denied the experience.  Andy Warhol added to his fame by simply observing that everyone should have 15 minutes of it to deal with.  In today's culture, fame is cheap, tarnished and in most cases, wholly undeserved.  We all know the names.  The Kardashians have no discernible talent or ability.  Kim has big boobs and a bodacious booty.  That qualifies these days.  Paris Hilton (remember her?) exploited her family fortune to gain notoriety for a while but has since thankfully faded into the woodwork.  Lady Gaga was as big a star as could be for some time, but haven't seen much of her of late.  Justin Bieber is surely headed for the same fate with his constant run-ins with the law which ultimately will bring him crashing down to reality.  In the rock music world, fame seems like such a trip when observed from a distance.  The reality can be far different when jealousy among band members and fights over money consumes their daily lives. Disputes with managers, suits and lawyers can be downers of unimaginable intensity.  Kurt Cobain was so affected that he ultimately put a shotgun in his mouth.  So much for fame with the 'Nirvana' star.  Tom Petty, Don Henley and Glenn Frey were ultimately successful at dealing with the business traps of being famous, but there are countless others who discovered the emptiness of fame.  Being famous comes with no pension.  Most never save any money, live only for today and end up broke and alone when the aura of fame wears off.  Be careful my music friends what you wish for.  Fame is a false God.  RZ

Wanna Be Like Elvis

Posted on: 05/11/2014

    When I was a kid and my friends and I discovered the world of music, all of us wanted to be like Elvis.  We wore our hair like Elvis, tried to dress like Elvis and had fun trying to imitate Elvis singing and dancing.  This, of course, drew the scorn from our parents who had done much the same when Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.  A few years later, "The Beatles" came along and everyone of my generation began wearing their hair long in homage to the lads' hairstyles.  This is the one discernible difference between the pop stars of today and long ago.  Nobody today wants to be like Justin Bieber.  While in the restaurant take out line yesterday, we overheard 2 very young teens discussing the teen star.  We were somewhat amazed at how critical they were with regard to him personally and his talent or lack thereof.  These kids had long ago moved on and were now focused on a young girl singer named Lorde.  This does not bode well for Bieber and his future.  Unless he is able to make the transformation to acting, his career may soon be in the past, which does have an element of sadness attached to it.  It bears worth repeating, nobody wants to be like Justin Bieber or for that matter, Miley Cyrus.  We decided to take a small informal poll with regard to Cyrus, and with the concerted help of a dear lady friend, inquired of some teens whether they wanted to be like Miley.  Everyone in our poll trashed Cyrus.  While some admired her fame and money, nobody wanted to look like her or dress like her.  Her hair style was mocked and made fun of.  Her clothing and dress was severely ridiculed by these kids.  In short these kids had voted that Miley Cyrus' 15 minutes of fame had run its course.  Personally, we think Miley Cyrus still has gas left in the tank and will be around for a while, but after talking to these kids, it became painfully obvious that Bieber and Cyrus are in no way emulated by these kids.  So what's the difference between the kids of today and the kids of my time?  The difference lies in the quality of the music.  Elvis and "The Beatles" made great music.  That's why our hairstyles were mightily influenced.  Bieber by any objective standard sucks.  The kids know he sucks so that's why they have no inkling to copy him or be like him.  Pretty much the same goes for Cyrus.  Sad.  We wish the kids today had someone to get excited about, to scream and shout over, someone who they wanted to be like and also played unquestionably great music.  RZ

KISS Can't Play

Posted on: 05/04/2014

    After many years of being passed over, rock's most theatrical band was finally inducted last week into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  We have never been fans of KISS, rather preferring the quiet skill, talent and musicianship of such artists as Don Henley or Levon Helm, or innovators like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.  Frankly, KISS sucks. Musicians of limited skill should not be part of the music HOF in the same manner that .230 hitters are not deserving of inclusion in baseball's HOF.  We candidly acknowledge however, KISS's commercial success and their millions of loyal enthusiastic fans, most of whom became fans at about the same time they passed the age of 8. KISS tapped into the theatrics and showmanship of rock like no other band.  The costumes and makeup wowed children and made them feel part of something that was aimed directly at them. The KISS marketing plan was sheer genius and made its original members, namely Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss millionaires many times over.  However, the real fun began when news of the band's admission became public a few months ago.  Today's version of the band had a real serious problem.  Drummer Criss and lead guitarist Frehley had not been band members for many, many years.  The modern version of KISS has replacements who had nothing to do with the band's success, and THEY personally had not been elected to the HOF.  Only the 4 original members were elected and invited to perform.  It is a long-standing tradition in such case that the ORIGINAL members of an elected band re-form for the purpose of the HOF ceremony.  But original KISS had a problem since they couldn't really play much in the first place.  Allegations of individual pre-recorded tracks being fed to audiences during live shows while the band smashed along side live with the pre-recorded tracks haunted this band for years.  The Rock HOF insisted on a fully live performance, which would subject the band to endless embarrassment, thus leaving original members Simmons and Stanley with only one option.  They would perform, but only in its current form.  When this ridiculous proposal was rejected by the HOF, KISS was left with only one viable choice, refuse to perform, which is exactly what they did.  By doing so, they saved face in front of their millions of fans, who were spared the realization what real music fans already knew.  KISS won't play because KISS can't play.  Hopefully, the Rock and Roll HOF should learn from this sordid episode.  No more debacle of electing folks of dubious ability to its ranks. This should insure that rappers and hip-hoppers as well as those who perform EDM are forever banished from membership in the HOF.  This is GOOD and we can thank KISS for being the impetus making it happen.  RZ

Best Unknown Guitarist

Posted on: 04/27/2014

    Last year 'Rolling Stone' proclaimed Mike Bloomfield the best guitarist you never heard of, but we were well aware of this guitarist for both his work in "The Electric Flag" and "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band"  Our personal choice for the 'best unknown guitarist' of all time is Roy Buchanan who unfortunately, never achieved much in terms of widespread fame.  But back in the day, if you asked actual guitar players who the best player was, the 2 most common responses were Jimi Hendrix and Roy Buchanan.  When Ronnie Hawkins of "The Hawks" added Robbie Robertson to his band back in the sixties, he retained Buchanan to tutor Robertson on the electric guitar.  Robertson of course, later achieved fame as the guitarist for "The Band" and his associations with Bob Dylan and movie director Martin Scorcese.  So many players of the time were mightily influenced by Buchanan, with probably the most well-known being Jeff Beck, who credits Buchanan with the development of his style.  If you play these guys side-by-side, there will be no question that Beck, to this day plays the same Buchanan licks.  Roy Buchanan was not much of a showman, rather concentrating on tone and melody, which he extracted like no other from his Fender Telecaster instrument.  Roy Buchanan had problems with alcohol and sadly passed away at the age of 49 in the year 1988 in a jail cell allegedly hung by his shirt.  His family denied the presumption of suicide faulting the police officers who had custody.  For evidence of his unique greatness, take the time to listen to "The Messiah Will Come" and "Sweet Dreams".  Fame is not always bestowed on the deserving.  Roy Buchanan was exhibit A of this concept, but there can be no doubt that he left a significant footprint nevertheless.  RZ

Hodge Podge

Posted on: 04/20/2014

    Oh my musical heavens.  There are so many topics to write about this Easter Sunday.  How shall we ever choose.  We could dwell on poor little Miss Muffitt, more commonly known as Miley Cyrus, who appears to be languishing in a Kansas hospital for questionable reasons.  The official reason from her people and from the little princess herself, is that she suffered an "extreme allergic reaction" to being administered an antibiotic for a sinus infection.  We are tempted to give young Miley the benefit of the doubt here.  Rumors of sagging ticket sales for her Bangerz tour appear to be less than credible for the presently ever-popular young star.  After the cancellation of 4 touring dates, it appears the entire remainder of her U.S. tour has now been cancelled.  Our sources have confirmed that Cyrus was given the powerful, all purpose anti-biotic drug cephalexin.  Although cephalexin is commonly used as a powerful treatment against sexually transmitted diseases, we simply have no evidence that the booty shaking star caught the clap or any other std.  So for the time being, Miley Cyrus gets a pass.                                                                                                                                                    More disturbing and definitely high on the strange meter is the story out of North Hollywood where one Andre Johnson, a member of the rap group 'Northstar' whose claim to fame seems to be its connection to well known rap group Wu-Tang Clan.  Apparently, a former member of the Clan founded 'Northstar' whose membership included Johnson.  Speaking of johnsons and members, it seems this poor tragic dude did something almost unspeakable.  But we here at the Ric Zweig Blog will courageously report that Mr. Johnson did actually in fact sever his penis, yes his johnson, yes his member, from his own body before attempting to kill himself by leaping to his death, albeit from the balcony of a second floor apartment building. What might have possessed Mr. Johnson to perform such a deed remains a mystery at this time.   We wish our rapper well and hope he will be once-again attached or so it seems.  Does the news get stranger everyday or is it just us?  RZ

Is Rock Music Dying?

Posted on: 04/13/2014

    This is not the first time the Ric Zweig Blog has addressed this question.  Previously we were encouraged to report the good health of the rock genre based on the sheer number of rock bands putting something out there, both locally and nationally.  We were also encouraged by the enthusiasm of young musicians discovering the treasure trove of material at their disposal.  But lately, we have begun to realize the obvious.  Rock music has become a minor player in the genres of today's music.  This can be traced directly to the corporate money players who control much of what we hear.  MTV bears much of the responsibility for the slow death of rock with its endless promotion of the urban genre which like a cancerous tumor methodically grows until killing off its host.  But the real engineer of the stampeding train is electronic dance music.  EDM's biggest stars, many of them young male Europeans, command six figure cash amounts for their appearances before massive crowds of very young fans.  Of course, it's all plastic with the emphasis on brightly colored strobe lights revving up the almost maniacal crowd.  There's no talent or creativity involved in the production.  It's all smoke and mirrors, but so what, it's just a manifestation of today's society that makes reality (sic) stars into larger than life celebrities.  The dumbing of America is almost complete.  Few if any are capable of discerning good from bad and could care less as long as they are fed the equivalent of massive doses of sugar, ie the false perception they belong to something.  Facebook feeds this perception.  Even the most awkward misfit can have thousands of 'friends' who he will never actually meet.  The onslaught of our social media communication system feeds into this as well.  We avoid personal contact, preferring to 'text' our digital world with meaningless communiques about our non-descript lives of tedium.  At its best, Rock music was a hands-on experience.  You played in a band with other people on a stage in front of thousands of people.  But that form of communication is dated in this technology-driven world.  Now one guy stands behind a console, pretending to perform, when actually what you are seeing is a false God pressing a couple of buttons, waving his hands high in a sea of mass hysteria.  Is it surprising that the wool can be pulled over the eyes of so many?  Not really, it's just an extension of our government, our society and our complete lack of common decency for one another.  Personally, we will continue to soldier on.  We will continue to attend and appear at the dying breed of rock venues with smaller crowds of once young fans who remember a time when music shaped and influenced a country.  But make no mistake, those days are fading fast.  RZ

Abouts The Touts

Posted on: 04/06/2014

    Most of us realize that those responsible for the Fox television program 'American Idol' will stoop to whatever level is necessary in a feeble attempt to bolster their already sagging television viewer ratings.  Just the other day, the A.I. judges used their one and only seasonal 'save' to keep on the show, for at least one more week of competition, this year's pretty boy contestant.  The 'pretty boy' was very popular with millions of pre-pubescent female teens, but devoid of any significant singing talent.  Ever the opportunists, the producers wisely recognized the potential for another Bieber-like clone, and made sure the judges appeared to spontaneously decide to unanimously choose the 'pretty boy' for the save honor, ensuring him at least another week on the show.  This orchestration was no more than a sad effort to keep A.I.'s youngest viewers in front of their television screens for at least that week.  We are not surprised that judges Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez would sacrifice all integrity in exchange for the lucrative award of being an A.I. judge, but hoped that hugely talented Keith Urban would not participate in this sham.  But then again even Keith must enjoy the over one minute audience ovation that the judges receive upon their introduction at the onset of the show.  This too is carefully orchestrated by the producers to make sure the perception is that these judges are hugely popular when only Urban actually is.  Connick Jr. is no more than a B player, and the aging Lopez' best asset is clearly behind her.  Time the applause week to week and note the duration is almost exactly identical.  What a coincidence.  It's no coincidence however that large empty glasses of Diet Coca Cola, evenly spaced and prominently displayed before each of the 3 judges appear every week.  This product placement display is designed to give the impression to A.I.'s young viewers that, they the judges, actually drink this harmful noxious substance.  We invite you to learn about how deleterious to the human body this sugar laden soft drink actually is.  Of course, our 3 little judges can't be bothered to standing up to the producers or the Coca Cola people.  No, this all about the benjamins.  Who cares if Coca Cola and its diet cousin, do serious harm to its drinkers as long as kids get the idea that the judges actually drink the product.  Why else would it be so neatly displayed on the table the 3 of them sit at.  There are still a lot of wonderful things about our country these days, but American Idol isn't one of them.  That's our opinion.  RZ

Downward & Downward

Posted on: 03/30/2014

    Two weeks ago, we wrote on the downward spiral of Lady Gaga's faltering career and suggested she would be well-advised to give more attention to the music and less to her endless bad taste gimmickry.  Unfortunately, she paid no attention.  Last week, while performing in the annual music festival, South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, before a small audience in a small club, Gag did the impossible by reaching a new low, even for her.  During her lackluster set, Gag arranged for someone to vomit on her, echoing our sentiments precisely.  Of course, the incident was entirely staged and pre-planned.  The vomiter was quoted by 'Time Magazine' by saying, "I was trying to create something beautiful".  Leave it to Gag to equate beauty and vomit.  Hopefully she gets the mental intervention she so desperately needs and soon.  Horribly, SXSW was marred by an idiot driver who plowed his car into a crowd of people injuring many and killing one festival-goer.                                      This is the new norm for popular events that attract many thousands of people.  When we attended the Woodstock Festival in 1969, there was a crowd of over half a million music fans.  No one was killed or beat-up.  Despite the inclement weather, people were amazingly caring for one another, sharing their food and looking out for one another.  The tragedy at SXSW was somewhat duplicated at 'Ultra', here in South Florida.  Yesterday, a security guard was critically injured and remains in very critical condition with a brain hemorrhage after being crushed by a runaway crowd who stormed a fence and the aforementioned guard, seeking entry to the fest.  Nobody in the crowd gave any thought to their actions, instantly choosing their attendance to be more important than an innocent person's life.  So much for fans of EDM who have been dumbed down by society for the last 20 years.  And so much for an alleged art form where some minimally-talented dude stands behind a console and presses 'start' or 'play' of pre-programmed music before a half-crazed crowd of enthusiasts.  Of course, a $400 daily admission fee didn't help things.  Oh by the way, Woodstock was free.  RZ

The Devil In American Idol

Posted on: 03/23/2014

    There is something inherently evil in the 'American Idol' television program.  While trolling Facebook yesterday, we saw a statement attributed to Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters asserting that many tens of thousands of wanna be musicians have had their dreams crushed by the show after being told they simply weren't good enough.  In our judgment, there is much merit to this statement.  We encountered this in our youth when a not so-called friend advised us we sucked at singing.  That was the end of that.  Flash forward many years when we retired from our legal career (just 10 years ago), and we decided to give music another shot.  We still sucked, but this time we persevered and worked hard until the day eventually came when we realized we actually could do this and do it well.  The point being that young people are easily deterred from doing something.  We were no different.  If back in our youth, we had found a couple of guys who also sucked, but were willing to have fun and screw around in the garage for a considerable period of time, things might have been different for Ric Zweig.  Not necessarily better, just  different.  That's how many great bands are born, through toil and effort, willing to be bad together until that magic breakthrough day.  Plus it's great fun to do so with 2 or 3 other guys.  But such is not the case with 'American Idol'.  Every year thousands of kids spend money and time to travel to 'A.I'. auditions throughout the country with heady dreams of stardom intact. Of course, the overwhelming majority of them are thoroughly crushed by the rejection news only never to try music again.  Even the initial selectees who advance to Hollywood have to be emotionally devastated when the bad news comes a knocking.  This may make for watchable television, but surely has a negative lasting effect on the kids and their unreachable dreams.  This is so wrong and counter-intuitive to what music and especially rock music is all about, namely having fun.  This is squarely on the shoulders of 'A.I' and the other imitative programs of this ilk.  In the final analysis 'American Idol' has discouraged countless youngsters from playing music because they were told, "not good enough".  This has to be a significant contributing factor why there are so few good bands emerging in the days since 'A.I' began its successful 13 year television run.  The devil at work in the name of money and television ratings.  Just not good.  RZ

The Rise & Fall Of The Third, No, Gaga

Posted on: 03/16/2014

    Few entertainers have experienced a quicker rise to super stardom than Lady Gaga.  She burst upon the world music scene a few short years ago highlighted by guest appearances on 'American Idol' and 'Saturday Night Live'.  She had a strikingly clever name, a bold visually inspiring dance act and seemed to be on the cusp of what's new in electronic dance music.  Hit songs followed in quick succession.  But she encountered what so many in the biz have experienced previously.  That remains the problem of continuing to meet the challenge of staying hip and relevant in an ever changing marketplace dominated by adolescent consumers.  Gaga, a shrewd businesswoman if there ever was one, resorted to gimmick after gimmick, such as showing up to the Emmys inside an egg.  Additionally,there are only so many clothes one can remove in a fruitless quest to show as much skin as possible without offending the mothers of your millions of 12 and under fans.  Gaga could never settle on a look, preferring to present her fans with an ever changing landscape of new wigs, wild makeup and bizarre outfits, all designed to hide the obvious fact that the music was just so-so and definitively more and more of the same old thing.  She crafted her image with shrewdness and imaginative creativity.  The music continued to be boring and unimaginative, but Gaga herself was quick to exploit her popularity with a unique grasp of business acumen and awareness.  Gaga is nothing special to look at from a facial perspective, sans the make up, but she worked hard in the gym to tone her body in a hopeless quest to be an aspiring sex goddess.  Well, of course when the talent is questionable in the first place, this approach to stardom will only go so far, and the fall back to Earth is inevitable.  This past week, 'Rolling Stone Magazine' published its weekly Billboard top 40 selling albums.  Gaga's name was nowhere to be seen.  Her last effort "Artpop" has been a colossal flop of the highest order, only appearing on the list for a few short weeks and then disappearing into the wasteland of oblivion.  More defining however was Billboard's recent release of the top 20 highest paid musicians.  Sadly, Gaga no longer occupies a spot on this list.  Sure, 'The Rolling Stones' came in at number 5 and 'Fleetwood Mac' at number 10.  Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and the other Justin were on the list, as were Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and George Strait.   Dave Matthews was listed as well as 'Mumford & Sons'.  The top spot was occupied by Taylor Swift, whose persona has remained consistent throughout her reign of popularity.  This fact may serve as a lesson to Gaga who now faces the task of re-inventing herself.  Our suggestion is to concentrate on the music and leave the gimmicks far behind.  RZ                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            











































































































































































What Else Is New?

Posted on: 03/09/2014

    Some things never change.  There are always fires in California and tornadoes in Kansas.  The Cubs never win the World Series and football players get concussions.  Equally high on the list of misfortune is that rappers never pay their taxes, at least on time.  The latest rapper to run afoul of this minor lil bit of forgetfulness to the very unforgiving Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is Mr. Lil Wayne.  Just last week the ubiquitous tiny Wayne was hit with a federal income tax lien of over $12.1 million dollars in unpaid taxes dating back to 2011.  According to the Court Clerk of Miami-Dade County, Florida, Wayne was slightly short in his payments to the IRS by $5.8 million for 2011 and $6.3 million for 2012.  The diminutive, vertically challenged one, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, has probably spent that much on tatoos over the same period of time.  This payment due should only be a minor inconvenience to Mr. Carter, who it must be told has a most healthy yearly income.  Of course, his neighbors in the La Gorce community of Miami Beach, are breathlessly praying that Carter has other things on his mind, lest the IRS go after his lil crib which cost the rapper a pretty $11.6 million in 2011.  Carter should consider himself lucky that the evil mean lil old IRS is only pursuing a civil action against him as opposed to criminal charges which could land the rapper in a most familiar haunt, that is to say, prison.  If Carter continues to be forgetful, the slam domicile could be a real possibility since just 2 years ago he had to fork over $7.7 million to the IRS to make good on a similar lien for unpaid taxes.  What's a poor brotha to do?  RZ

How To Get Rich Licensing Your Music

Posted on: 03/02/2014

    The title of this Blog is a bit mis-leading as we have yet to get rich licensing our music.  But in a few short months we have enjoyed some success, achieved considerable recognition and made huge inroads in what we believe is a sure-to-be lengthy process built on having quality product, endurance, persistence and patience.  So this week we offer the Ric Zweig primer on a few suggestions and tips which we feel will get us both closer to our mutual goal of having our music licensed for television, motion pictures and if necessary, the world of advertising.  Tip number 1:  Music to be submitted for consideration must be in digital form.  The days of submitting music via mail are a thing of the past.  Tip number 2:  Arrange, however necessary, to have someone, other than yourself, handle the submission process.  Those who have the keys to the kingdom abhor communicating with us dirty, unwashed artists.  For the most part, they only want to communicate with people who speak the same language they do.  The exception would be if you already have a name recognizable in the business.  Then they will communicate with you out of ego, theirs not yours.  Tip number 3:  Be prepared to submit both vocal and instrumental versions of your original material.  This doubles the chance of having a particular tune picked up.  So remember to have your producer create both versions at the time of creation in the studio.  Tip number 4:  Make note of the beats per minute (BPM) for each tune.  Trust me, you will need this info at a later time.  Get used to noting it for each tune.  Tip number 5:  Reduce the lyrics to a form which is easily and quickly retrievable when needed.  Many submissions require the lyrics to be included separately.  Get used to doing this when the song is in its infancy to save hassles later.  Tip number 6:  Join a performing rights organization (PRO).  No company or music entity will contract or enter into agreements with you unless this condition is met.  We belong to BMI.  There was no initial cost or monthly fees or dues to pay.  Our producer belongs to ASCAP.  Tip number 7:  Continue to write and record new material.  As you make progress, get those in your now ever-expanding world, used to the concept that you always are in the process of creating new material and that the next tune is right around the corner.  We have written some of our best stuff since we began this enterprise.  Tip number 8:  If at all possible, have professional, experienced legal representation.  The suits will have no interest in dealing with you directly, but will find a comfort zone negotiating with your legal counsel.  Perhaps, you can reach an agreement with the attorney that minimizes your initial expenditures based on future generous percentages to be paid upon monies received.  Tip number 9:  Don't get discouraged.  It's a marathon. not a sprint.  Tip number 10:  Continue to play live. Special people may want to see you actually perform  Be ready.  These 10 tips will definitely be of benefit.  See you at the Grammys.  RZ

We Just Can't Forget

Posted on: 02/23/2014

    Unfortunately, most of today's musicians have little knowledge when it comes to the history of Rock 'n Roll from the decades of the fifties and sixties.  Sure they know Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, 'The Everly Brothers', 'The Beatles', and maybe 'Pink Floyd' but that's about it.  In this week's blog we remember some great musicians and groups, many of whom you may not be familiar with.  No discussion of the early days of rock would be complete without a mention of the wonderful singer Johnny Ace.  A precursor to later rock vocalists would include another Johnny, this one being Johnny Ray.  Bill Haley & The Comets were as big as big can be in the mid-fifties.  How about Clarence "Frogman" Henry or "Screaming Jay" Hawkins.  Chubby Checker was another comet blazing across the sky.  "Ivory Joe" Hunter made his mark as did Buddy Knox and Del Shannon.  We must include Jimmy Bowen and Question Mark & The Mysterions.  Dale Hawkins gets a nod.  Gene Vincent & The Bluecaps were the first bad boys of rock, and then there was Eddie Cochran who also briefly blazed.  The 'Dell Vikings' were big as well, as were 'The Platters', 'The Drifters' and 'The Temptations'.  The music changed in the sixties in large part due to our British friends.  Early groups across the pond were 'Them' whose lead singer was Van Morrison.  How about 'Spencer Davis Group' and its lead singer Stevie Winwood.  We also include 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer' as well as 'King Crimson' and 'Savoy Brown'.  But things were also humming in the U.S.A. with powerhouse groups such as 'The Young Rascals'.  Los Angeles chipped in mightily with Arthur Lee and 'Love'.  'Spirit', another L.A. Group also made its mark.  San Francisco produced 'Country Joe & The Fish', as well as 'Quicksilver Messenger Service'.  'The Youngbloods', another California group were equally influential.  'Big Brother & The Holding Company', another San Fran group with its lead vocalist Janis Joplin.  On the east coast, we had earth shakers such as 'The Chambers Brothers' and 'The Talking Heads'.  Lou Reed was big-time.  Any discussion of the era must mention Arthur Brown, Smoky Robinson and Otis Redding.  We've neglected mentioning so far other powerhouses such as AC-DC, 'The Rolling Stones' as well as 'The Grateful Dead'.  But they and many others are just too obvious.  That list includes 'CS & N', Neil Young, 'Led Zeppelin', Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and 'The Who'.  This edition of the blog though is about less obvious choices such as 'Mountain' with Leslie West or 'Canned Heat'.  Leon Russell comes to mind, as does 'Nazz'.  Paul Butterfield, Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield are notable.  'Traffic' and 'Blind Faith' as well.  We will have to add many more another day.  How about your list?  RZ  

Thanks For Nothing, Mr. Dylan

Posted on: 02/16/2014

    We still have yet to recover from watching this year's Super Bowl championship game.  No, we are not talking about the Seattle Superhawks stirring rout of the Denver Broncos.  We are talking about the abject betrayal inflicted by social icon Bob Dylan, who for the first time in a fifty year career of integrity and principle, decided to abandon these qualities and instead pimp for Chrysler Motors and the City of Detroit.  That's right, Bob Dylan did a commercial in which he did the voiceover touting the aforementioned entities.  Yup, the times must be a changing.  Or maybe times are just tough for Dylan.  We tend to doubt it.  Dylan doesn't need the considerable sum earned by his work for an American corporation or a bankrupt city that a long line of corrupt politicians  stole unprecedented amounts of money from.  The fact is Bob Dylan is the last person in the world of entertainment, we expected to sell out and just take the easy money.  Sure, we expect this kind of behavior from today's pop stars.  Gaga would easily just take the money in exchange for her personal endorsement on any product that provided an opportunity for her to profit.  Beyonce would and does tout her own personal clothing line which has been a dismal failure despite the star's immeasurable popularity.  But not Dylan.  This was America's premier poet.  Long a voice who guided the people's social conscience.  It is impossible to calculate how many young people whose behavior was positively influence by the words of the sage Dylan.  And now we are faced with the reality that Bob Dylan is no different from all the others who put cold hard cash first in the importance of things.  Dylan is no different from the shameful, disgraceful former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who did a soft drink commercial only a year after she was routed by her Republican opponent.  It is a complete lack of integrity and concern for principle that drives people like Ferraro and Dylan to throw it all away in the name of a money grab.  How sadly disappointing.  The lesson to be learned is never listen to celebrities in deciding what to believe in or spend your money on.  They, and we mean ALL of them bow down to and worship the almighty dollar.  Later today, Ric Zweig will be shopping for a new car.  A product from Chrysler Motors will not be on our list of consideration.  And we have bought our last Bob Dylan album.  Carry on without us Zimmerman, you worthless hypocrite.  RZ


Posted on: 02/09/2014

    We seem to be plagued by the same 2 re-occurring questions from our nicely growing readership.  First being, "does Ric Zweig personally write all of the weekly blogs?"  And secondly, "why are we so critical of the music these days?"  Firstly, we personally write ALL of the blogs.  We enjoy the challenge of getting up early Sunday morning to pound out a new effort different from all the previous efforts.  And secondly, while we are critical of much of today's music, there is still a lot of redeeming current stuff that deserves to be heard.  Our own original music falls into that category.  But enough self-promotion.  Let's list some of our favorite current or semi-current artists.  For groups, we love 'Alabama Shakes' whose tunes "Hold On" and "Almost Always" are definitive show stoppers.  Another semi-current group we recommend is 'Wilco'.  Their tune "Side With The Seeds" was a ground breaking sensation of the highest order.  Two singer/songwriter/guitarists we idolize are Keith Urban and John Mayer.  Urban is much more than an 'American Idol' lackey.  His duo effort with Mayer on the 'Beatles' tune "Don't Let Me Down" breathes new life into an old classic and shows that Mr. Urban has some serious lead guitar chops.  Notwithstanding, John Mayer is the single greatest living guitar player at this time in music history.  While Gary Clark Jr., Derek Trucks, and Warren Haynes are splendid players of the instrument and deserve honorable mention, they must take a back seat to the amazing Mayer.  Mayer's talent must be observed and listened to fully appreciate what he brings to the table.  He never ceases to amaze us.  We suggest a listen to his incredible original tune "Gravity" to hear what we are talking about.  David Bowie released a wonderful new album this past year which confirmed his status as one of the greats.  We do easily agree with the Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts Jr. a middle-aged former music critic who recently wrote: "much of it (today's music) feels corporate, cold, plastic, image-driven, less reflective of talent than tech, more programmed than played."  Right on Mr. Pitts.  Fortunately, there still remains hope.  An ever larger group of today's kids are rejecting the noise of today's stars and discovering lots of the great stuff from yesterday's classic rock artists and that can only be good.  RZ   

Can You Believe It?

Posted on: 02/02/2014

    There once was a time when I purchased music based on reviews that I read in 'Rolling Stone' or 'Time Magazine' as well as other noteworthy publications.  But after being disappointed so many times, we have come to realize there is more here than meets the eye.  The simple fact is that the objectivity of some reviews are seriously in question.  While we have no direct proof that writers are being financially persuaded to write highly favorable reviews, our suspicions are raised when music reviewers gush uncontrollably over mediocre efforts from some of my favorite artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.  Most recently 'Rolling Stone' went overboard in praising the Boss' latest album entitled "High Hopes".  The album contains songs previously rejected by Springsteen, songs cut from more ambitious projects and non-original works written by other artists.  The effort appears to be nothing more than a money grab by the record company, Springsteen or both.  When we recently obtained a copy, we were soundly disappointed by the mostly un-inspiring effort.  This did not stop 'Rolling Stone' from positively praising this album as if it was "Born To Run".  How refreshing then to read a review of "High Hopes" in 'Time Magazine' by Douglas Wolk which excoriated the album and whose comments and opinions mirrored our own.  A sample follows:  "There's a certain kind or record that rock stars make when their creative wells run dry.  It often involves going back to material abandoned earlier or recording songs released years before; it can be padded out with covers when songwriting fails..."High Hopes" is unmistakably this kind of project-bombastic, weary and just close enough to the form of his great work to mask its hollowness."  Wow! Kudos to writer Wolk for having the courage to take on the Boss with integrity and a most candid, un-compromised review.  Our own opinion was that "High Hopes" was a complete bust and buyers should be refunded their money for purchasing this trash.  In the past we have always been a Springsteen fan, but this latest effort has shaken our confidence mightily.  As for 'Rolling Stone'  and its record reviews - they deserve no credibility whatsoever and will receive none from us in the future.  RZ

Mike Bloomfield

Posted on: 01/26/2014

    We were tempted this week to write about the mis-adventures of Justin Bieber, but that topic has already been over-exposed by so many others.  Also tempting was the quote, as reported by 'Time Magazine', from the ubiquitous Lady Gaga in which she said the following, "Let me be for you the Goddess that I know I truly am".  Now there's someone who truly needs intervention as her career slowly tumbles downward.  Instead, we choose to write about one of rock's early guitar Gods, the amazingly gifted Mike Bloomfield.  As recently reported by 'Rolling Stone Magazine' Bloomfield was at the top of his fame and popularity in the late sixties.  Bearing a remarkable resemblance to modern-day guitar hero John Mayer, Bloomfield rose to fame as the lead guitarist for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and went on to front his own band 'The Electric Flag'.   Amongst musicians of the time and especially in the American music capitols of N.Y.C. and L.A., Bloomfield was favorably compared to such guitar luminaries as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Robbie Krieger and David Cohen.  He recorded with soon-to be keyboardist and close friend Al Kooper of 'Blood, Sweat & Tears' and achieved legendary status highlighting many of Bob Dylan's early recordings such as his work on 'Highway 61 Revisited'.  But superstar fame never fit Mike Bloomfield.  Plagued by chronic insomnia and an untenable addiction to heroin, which ultimately cost Bloomfield his life at the tender age of 37.  Bloomfield was heavily influenced by Chicago's large stable of early blues musicians and he was well-known to all of them.  The great Muddy Waters referred to Mike as "his son".  Dylan compared him to Robert Johnson.  We personally remember being so blown away by his gifted guitar playing.  Truly one of rock's early genius guitar players, we can't help but wonder what Bloomfield would have been able to achieve had he been able to conquer his demons.  Those of you unaware of his prodigious talents are in for a treat if you take the time to listen to Mike Bloomfield playing electric guitar.  For a representative sampler, try Butterfield's ahead of its time album 'East-West'.  Rest-in-peace Mike Bloomfield.  RZ

Rolling Stone Stoned

Posted on: 01/12/2014

    We readily acknowledge that 'Rolling Stone Magazine' is our favorite publication.  No other American magazine offers its readers a better combination of articles that all of us should be reading.  Being well-read these days requires a regular dose of 'Rolling Stone'.  Having said that, the magazine is quick to sell out its credibility when it comes to music reviews.  Just 2 years ago, the mag raved about the talentless Nicki Minaj whose so-called music bordered on the lowest denominator of urban drivel.  We noted at that time the obvious fact that Ms. Ninaj, although lacking competence as a singer and dancer was significantly attached to a most bodacious body.  Now comes the review of Beyonce's latest effort titled 'Beyonce'.  There is a sound business reason why this is a so-called visual album.  14 tunes and 17 videos are provided to the buyer.  Without the videos, the purchaser would be forced to evaluate the effort from only the sound of the music.  This collection of tunes is so pathetically weak in artistic merit that it required the inclusion of all the vids in the simple hope that customers would NOT listen to the music unless they were watching the vids.  Through the magic of Yahoo, we were able to access the vids, watch and listen without having to spend a nickel to write our review.  First, we watched and listened to "Drunk In Love" with Beyonce and Jay Z cavorting on a beach.  The music here is simply unlistenable, monotonous, dreary and lacking any semblance of creativity.  But it does feature the entertainer looking beautiful and sultry.  Lyrics consist of her boasting of her sex life with a dude who is physically grotesque.  He appears in the vid telling her to suck his warthog and threatening to go all 'Ike Turner' on her.  We guess this is the artistic way to keep Beyonce in line, in a not so subtle way of threatening violence if she doesn't toe the line.  How completely inner-city.  According to Rob Sheffield, who wrote the review for RS in its most recent issue, the highlight of the album is the tune and vid for "Blow".  This of course is Beyonce's tribute to...well we guess you can figure this out.  The lyrical message is no more or less than a diatribe of how much she enjoys the oral part of man's favorite activity.  Spiffy, you are the biggest star in the biz and this is all you can come up with, as far as a message to the huddled masses.  Of course the self-serving Sheffield raves about all this as if the bimbo had just paid a friendly visit to the writer's bedroom.  The actual vid for "Blow" is excellent.  If you just watch it and ignore the music, it is visually stunning and sexy.  There is no denying Beyonce's sex appeal.  She is a stunningly beautiful woman.  But that's whats being sold here, not the music, but rather pure hard-core sex.  We tried listening and watching to a few other of the vids, but found everything to be more of the same and frankly painful.  God help us when this drivel instantly rises to number 1 on the Billboard charts.  We will be shocked if it stays there more than one week.  My advice to Beyonce, lock yourself in a room and listen to Etta James.  And pray that some of that rubs off on you.  RZ

Phil Everly

Posted on: 01/05/2014

    We usually don't write about the passing of our musical heroes because we don't want this blog to be a continuing series of obits.  But Phil Everly was such a giant in the creation of modern rock music that we simply must acknowledge his passing at age 74.  Prior to the Everly brothers, no musical entity, white or black, performed harmonies to the level of skill that they did.  Maybe it was the fact they shared the same blood, or something connected to DNA, but whatever it was, it hit the music world of the 50s and 60s with a force equal to that of Elvis or Buddy Holly.  The first time we heard 'Cathie's Clown' stopped us in our tracks and we ran, not walked, to the nearest outlet to buy the 45 single for 79 cents or so.  The number of charted songs for the Brothers must have numbered in the 30s.  During a decade or so, we can not recall a single time when they did not have multiple tunes on the radio.  The Everlys did not rely on any gimmicks for their popularity like so many of today's pop stars.  Talent drove their success.  They simply appealed to those of us who appreciated great music, inspired song-writing and out of this world vocal harmonies.  The Brothers directly influenced 'The Beatles', 'The Byrds', 'Crosby, Stills and Nash', Roger Mcgwinn, 'Poco', 'The Flying Burrito Brothers', 'The Beachboys', Clarence White and just so many others who aspired to elevate their vocal sounds.  We dare say without the Everly Brothers, there would not have been 'The Beatles'.  That's how strong an influence they were.  It's a bit sad to read of their inability to connect with each other in their later years, but that's just the way it is sometimes.  Phil Everly left an indelible imprint on our world with his voice and music and will surely be missed by so many.  RZ

Las Vegas

Posted on: 12/29/2013

    No self-respecting rock music act played Las Vegas, Nevada until the advent of Elvis Presley in the seventies.  Elvis had stopped having tunes on the charts and people had stopped going to his movies, so with few options, he discovered there was still an audience waiting in the desert for the over the hill star.  There was an element of sadness associated with his long-running popularity at the Hilton Hotel just off the Vegas strip.  Elvis got fat, became addicted to uppers to perform and downers to sleep.  He was but a mere shadow of his former dynamic self, but audiences still flocked to see him before his untimely death from the grind of living.  Some years later, after the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel, big-time rock acts such as 'The Who', 'Foreigner' and many others came to Vegas to do one or two night shows.  However, through the years, legitimate music acts stayed away from Las Vegas to do extended engagements due in part to the stigma of Elvis that the party will soon be over if you have to resort to do Vegas to garner a big paycheck.  No such stigma stands in the way of faded star Britney Spears whose Vegas debut recently occurred just days ago at Planet Hollywood.  Her gaudy show is scheduled to light up the night sky for months to come with packed audiences.  There is one slight problem however.  Spears still can't sing.  Her thin voice is so devoid of substance that on opening night she was forced to resort to lip-synching to bolster any semblance of depth or tonal quality.  Equally pathetic was Spears' attempt to disguise her clumsy so-called dancing by surrounding herself with 14, yes we said 14, talented dancers who kept blocking the audience view of the awkward Spears.  There are simply no other options available to the former star.  It will be interesting to see how long this charade goes on until the plug is pulled by the Planet Hollywood people.  For Spears' sake, hopefully her contract is guaranteed.  For those who wish to view this stunning debacle, our advice is to buy your tickets quickly.  This will not last long, at least that is our judgment.  But hey, never underestimate or should we say overestimate, the taste of a bunch of convention attending insurance salesmen who flock to Las Vegas to get drunk, cheat on their wives, lose the mortgage payment and see a show starring Britney Spears.  RZ

What Is the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?

Posted on: 12/22/2013

    Once again, this year's inductees to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame have been announced by this most venerable (sic) institution.  Some are in, others are not.  This year's list of winners include 'Kiss', a well-known circus act that sold a lot of records pretending to be rock musicians.  Kiss's inclusion proves the HOF has a keen sense of humor.  Linda Ronstadt got this year's sympathy vote as apparently she is quite ill.  Our sympathies go out to her despite never being a fan.  Cat Stevens is an interesting choice.  He never played rock 'n roll but certainly was a talented songwriter and notable singer.  'Nirvana' sort of falls in the category of rock music.  Despite their mediocre degree of talent, they were benefitted by their loyal legions of fans.  Hall & Oates were hugely successful by pumping out countless chart busters, accordingly a convincing argument can be made for their selection.  Most deserving is the admission of Peter Gabriel who is a legitimate giant in the history of Rock music.  For proof, listen to his haunting performance of "In Your Eyes".  Gabriel is often credited with bringing to the forefront 'world music' which is a combining of different musical genres.  Bravo Peter Gabriel.            Passed over this year were nominees 'Deep Purple', 'Yes' and 'The Zombies'.  We would have supported the Purple ones but who cares about the others.  More troubling are the continued omissions of such Rock giants as 'The Moody Blues', 'King Crimson' and especially 'Judas Priest'.  We are at a loss to explain how any legitimate institution supposedly dedicated to selecting the best of the best could exclude these bands.  However, we have always suspected there is more to who gets in than meets the eye.  Ho hum.  RZ

Highest Paid Musicians

Posted on: 12/15/2013

    Here's the list that today's musicians really care about.  It's not about artistic quality or anything concerned with aesthetics.  Rather, it's who grabs the most cold hard cash for the year 2013.  According to Forbes Magazine, here are the highlights of this year's list.  Roger Waters, of 'Pink Floyd' fame, comes in at no. 15.  Big booty Jennifer Lopez parlayed her over-sized rear into the no. 14 position.  Another oldie, namely Paul McCartney is no. 12 on the list.  Diddy is no. 11.  Would you have guessed country star Kenny Chesney, in at a tie for no. 9?  Beyonce comes in a disappointing, no doubt for her, tie for number 9.  Elton John continues his long run showing up at no. 8.  The emaciated Taylor Swift should now be able to afford a tasty hamburger based on her no. 7 position on the list.  Talent-challenged teen sensation Justin Bieber shows up at a respectable no. 6.  A modern rock band, 'Coldplay', surprisingly appears in at no. 5.  Another big-time country star, Toby Keith, locks down the no. 4 spot.  Bon Jovi, another surprise to us, made the list at a lofty no. 3.  The money-making machine known as Lady Gaga cajoled her legions of 9 year-old fans to pester their parents sufficiently to vault her into the runner-up spot.  Still, Gaga green with envy, fell far short of the esteemed no. 1 position to her aging rival Madonna, who garnered the top spot.  Not surprisingly, our 3 favorite bands, namely 'Kings Of Leon', 'Wilco' and 'Alabama Shakes' were nowhere to be found.  So much for artistic quality.  RZ

Woe Is Gaga

Posted on: 12/08/2013

    Reports are that Lady Gag as she is affectionately known, is in great depression with regard to the most recent sales reports of her latest album.  This effort, entitled 'ARTPOP' sold 258,000 copies in its very first week on the market.  Who wouldn't be thrilled with sales like that?  Well, the answer is Miss Gag because her previous effort 'Born This Way', according to Time magazine, sold 1.1 million in its very first week.  Let's do the math.  That represents a whopping 75 per cent decline in sales.  The writing may be on the wall for the performing sensation who surely is beginning to sense that her days in the sun are quickly fading away.  Time magazine also reported that the Lady's record label, Interscope, spent the amazing sum of 25 million dollars to market 'ARTPOP'.  This is a colossal flop of unprecedented proportions and enough to possibly plunge the company into bankruptcy.  Such is the fate of performers who market their wares to pre-pubescent teenagers, whose parents soon realize that the new album is much the same as the old album, and are sick of doling out hard-earned money for such weak efforts.  We are sure that the parting of ways of Gag's longtime manager, Troy Carter, is nothing more than a coincidence.  There will be inevitably a ripple effect on the industry as well the other performers of her ilk.  You all know the tedious names.  The point being that the days of the big-market pushes for pop-star albums may be drawing to a close.  Our reaction?  Good health, good wealth, good riddance.  RZ

Stupid Is The New Smart

Posted on: 12/01/2013

    A friend and yours truly were recently discussing the present state of current music in general and how it relates to the overall status of things, approaching the onset of 2014.  We concluded that stupid is the new smart.  Being stupid is something to be proud of, flaunted, worn defiantly.  For proof, join Facebook and read the overall tenor of comments where members, devoid of formal education, feel free to lecture others ad nauseam with opinionated views on subjects they know little about.  Of course, this carries over in their choice of music.  When people are incapable of making intelligent choices, the standard declines precipitously, and we end up where we are now.  And where we are now is a wasteland where hardly an artist has anything to say or play.  This accounts for the enduring popularity of a band like 'Kiss' who made their mark as circus performers under the guise of passing for rock stars.  Give them credit for their skills in understanding parody which should not be under estimated.  Taylor Swift was recently voted 'artist of the year'.  Swift has mined a field of gold in penning her mindless ditties directly to an audience of 11 year old girls.  Each of Swift's efforts use pretty much the same music chord pattern which somehow qualifies her to be 'artist of the year'.  The people voting are no doubt the same people rhapsodizing on Facebook, ie, idiots who know not of what they speak.  Gaga has to distract us from actually listening to her music, so she enters on an elephant to get us talking about her, under the theory that there is no bad news as long as your name is spelled correctly.  Cyrus distracts us with equal enthusiasm, shaking her scrawny white ass to ensure we don't actually listen to her monotone excuse for a voice.  And on and on it goes.  These performers are shrewd in their approach, fully understanding that a populace of stupidity possessing little formal education simply doesn't know the difference between good and bad.  All their fans have never listened to classical music.  Don't know Mozart.  Don't know Ravel.  Never heard of George Gershwin or Louis Armstrong.  Can you imagine Frank Zappa trying to make it in this environment?  When art, music and culture decline at such a rapid rate, the society itself soon follows.  This is what history teaches us.  When you try to explain or understand WTF is going on these days, you now have your answer.  So do something unheard of these days, read a book.  Yeah, right.  RZ 

Outspoken Courage

Posted on: 11/24/2013

    Last week we wrote about the current state of the music business being devoid of a social conscience.  One notable exception would be bald-headed Irish singer Sinead O'Connor.  You may recall that O'Connor made headlines some years ago when she tore a photo of the Pope in two.  O'Connor has long been a vocal critic of the Catholic Church and its rampant serial abuse of children.  In a very recent issue of Time Magazine, O'Connor made news again with the following statements, all of which we completely agree with.  Consider:  "The music business is corrupt.  It's full of nothing but vampires and pimps."  Hard to disagree with that sentiment.  Or this:  "The sounds of the records and the videos and how artists look has all been taken over by the industry.  In a way, music's all been silenced...As long as you're visually distracted, you're not really listening...Male artists too.  Justin Bieber, he's being sold on his sexuality, but he's too young to even understand what's going on."  Strong words from O'Connor, but can you disagree?  In fact, the emphasis in the music business today is not the music, but the business of the music.  That's the singular reason there is so little decent music to listen to anymore.  Because the people in charge care little for the actual sounds, only the sound of the the cash register.  We, the listeners are programmed not to listen at all.  Be distracted by the stage acts, the lack of clothing, the dozens of dancers parading around the star, the pre-recorded beats, the lip-synching.  It's all about de-emphasizing the actual sound of the artist in favor of the planted morons in front of the performer raising their hands to the sky in pre-staged unison.  It's the celebrity of the music that counts today.  That's why Bieber, Cyrus and Gaga are such big stars.  They and the people who control them understand it's the ring of that cash register that keeps the business humming.  But O'Connor and so many of us who share her views will not be so easily silenced.  We will strive to bring back the music in the phrase 'music business'.  RZ

No Social Conscience

Posted on: 11/17/2013

    Yeah ok, this will in fact be one of those 'it was so much better back in the day' blogs.  So bear with me.  The biggest difference with music coming from the decades of the 60s and 70s and music of today, is that the musicians of yesteryear had a social conscience and cared about their external existence.  This showed mightily in their music and the craft that went into producing it.  Today's musicians, for the most part, are totally self-absorbed and care little about anything other than accumulating tons of money and a bunch of meaningless awards.  Today's pop stars are a sorry crew to say the least.  Justin Beiber is a cruel joke who no one takes seriously unless you are a 12 year old girl.  Taylor Swift has nothing to say lyrically, other than vowing revenge on her long list of ex-boyfriends.  One of these ex-boyfriends is John Mayer, a massive talent who so overshadows the talent-challenged Swift.  No wonder, her audience consists of girls years away from approaching puberty.  Much the same can be said for Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus who simply put, have nothing to say to their legion of fans other than 'buy my records'.  Back in the day, Black music was filled with social commentary from true artists like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield.  Black artists of today have nothing to say of any merit.  The message is always the same.  I have lots of money, bling, cars and bitches and you don't.  Therefore, admire me because I am more worthy than you.  These artists have poisoned a whole generation of Black youngsters.  We at the Ric Zweig Blog do not approve or endorse racism of any kind, but we do understand how it is generated.  And the Black artists of today do more to create racism against their own people than the KKK ever did.  See the comments of Bill Cosby, a Black entertainer with the guts to tell the truth.  Sadly, this will not change anytime soon.  Back in the aforementioned day, musicians sang about social injustice, government over-reaching and regard for their fellow man.  Their music had passion and was performed by artists with exacting precision.  Now we have sampling, outright theft, shortcuts, and anything else that creates lots of product, exactly the same as yesterday's product, to be followed by more of the same crap product, to be put on the shelf next week.  It just sucks all around.  And sadly, nobody seems to care.  RZ

The Worst Song Ever

Posted on: 11/10/2013

    In the past, we have written blogs about the best album, best single song, best groups, best guitarists, best bass players and best drummers, but never have we attempted the impossible.  This task is defined as attempting to select the single worst song ever recorded.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  Excluded from consideration are virtual unknowns such as yours truly, or anyone who lacks the budget to properly attempt to create a decent piece of work.  No, the identity of the 'artist' would have to be someone who is at least known by the listening public and has deep pockets in the studio.  Numerous candidates crossed our desk, but those efforts were simply lame, boring and mediocre.  Many of the rap efforts seemed to qualify, but because they all sounded much the same, it was difficult if not impossible to single one from the other.  But then in an act of divine intervention, we came across a very recent effort by the ubiquitous Paris Hilton that clinched the prize and swept away all competition.  The middle aged Hilton is responsible for a track titled "Good Time" where she sort of sings and emanates funny noises from her mouth.  Lil Wayne is along for the ride.  One can only imagine what sort of skullduggery took place to get the foul-mouthed rapper to join this musical Titanic of a disaster.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog tried valiantly to watch the video production of this epic, but found ourselves turning away in abject shame as the breast-challenged Hilton squirmed scantily clad in a lounge chair , surrounded by dozens of good-looking young people at least 10 or 15 years her junior, all of whom pretending to have a 'good time'.  The sound production of the track was aimed squarely at a single digit aged audience.  The viewer was reminded of the old Japanese movies of years ago that were so bad that they were almost good.  At least their awfulness made us laugh.  Our reaction to Hilton was disgust and sadness.  How empty her life must be to waste tens of thousands of dollars to come up with this.  But this is what music has come to these days.  In a short span of 40 years, we have gone from the genius of Levon Helm to a world where a lame-brained socialite heiress named Paris Hilton makes what she thinks is music.  RZ

Oh That Ginger Baker

Posted on: 11/03/2013

    There is sort of an unwritten rule with regard to famous musicians being critical of other famous musicians.  You simply do not disparage another musician.  This may not apply as to personal characteristics, as former bandmates often let loose as to the character or lack thereof as to the guys they used to play with.  But they will refrain from saying the dude can't play and never could.  Apparently, Ginger Baker missed the memo on criticism of his fellow rockers.  In the latest edition of 'Rolling Stone", Ginger lets loose with a barrage of criticism for his fellow country men, "The Rolling Stones" (not to be confused with the magazine).  Baker was quoted as follows:  "I wouldn't go within 10 miles of a Rolling Stones gig.  They're not good musicians, that's why!"  This old adage does not apply to Ric Zweig.  We are not famous.  At least not yet.  So we are free to offer our own opinion.  And our opinion is Mr. Baker is totally correct.  Mick Jagger, while still an enthusiastic dancer and frontman, sang his best notes 25 years ago.  Keith Richards, is but a shadow attempting to play his old guitar licks, and was always known more for introducing music to the masses that was initially originated by Black players from many years previously.  Charlie Watts was always adequate, but never compared to Levon Helm in his prowess.  Ronnie Wood remains the best musician in the group, but Bill Wyman, the bass player, saw the hand writing on the wall, and abandoned his bandmates many years ago, rather than play the old tunes badly.  The 'Stones' maintain their reputation because of their overwhelming impact 50 years ago.  It borders on being sacrilegious to criticize such an old and established staple of rock 'n roll. So people don't do it.  But the fact is, and the naked truth is that the 'Stones' were never a band full of musical virtuosos.  The 'Stones' became famous because they were the first British band to discover an important niche in the history of rock music.  They brought to the forefront the blues music of the American South.  They didn't invent it, they just copied it.  They succeeded quite well doing this and brought attention to such wonderful, but virtually unknown, bluesmen as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, and others.  We grew weary of the 'Stones' right about the time they attempted to copy the 'Beatles' Sgt. Pepper success with their own lame version of same.  One footnote though.  The great Chuck Leavell, who is probably the most talented keyboard player alive, plays regularly on tour backing up the "Stones'.  But he has never been considered a member of the 'Stones'.  RZ

An American Tradition Disgraced

Posted on: 10/27/2013

    We have all heard the term 'stranger than fiction'.  There are some stories so bizarre that they can't possibly be true.  But now comes word out of New York City that the late rap artist Biggie Smalls, aka the Notorious B.I.G., whose supposed real name was Christopher Wallace, is the subject of an effort to have a street corner in Brooklyn named in his honor by the city.  But not all the community leaders are supporting this effort.  It seems that the Notorious one had a history of selling drugs at the age of 12, was a school dropout at 17, has a series of arrests that include drugs, weapons, and parole violation.  No word on whether his violent death in Las Vegas was considered a positive or negative factor.  His music, and we use the word loosely, was possibly the most demeaning to women of anyone who has gained fame as a rapper.  Not surprisingly, the world of rap has once again turned the conventional world upside down.  We have all grown up expecting city leaders to honor noteworthy individuals by naming streets after them.  War heroes, church or hospital benefactors, accomplished historic figures have all qualified for such an honor.  Biggie's nomination reshuffles the deck.  Now you can enjoy a life of crime that ends when you are gunned down on another city's streets and support a lifestyle where women are bitches and whores to be objects of rape and violence.  This becomes the new criteria to be recognized and identified by a thoroughfare named 'Christopher Wallace Way'.  Mommy, why is this corner named after a deceased rapper?  Well, sweetie, Mr. Wallace was a drug dealer who called your mommy a bitch ho.  That's why.  Once again, the gutter culture of the inner city breaks new ground, trashes old conventions and re-invents the world in its own image.  We here at the Ric Zweig Blog are supportive of diversity, but this is a madness truly worthy of being labeled beyond the pale.  RZ

Rock 'N Roll HOF - 2014

Posted on: 10/20/2013

    We like the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, but only because it gives people like us a chance to tell everyone else how much better it was in the old hippie days.  Ok, pretty boring , huh?  How about this reason then?  It does provide an easy topic to pontifify about, at least once a year.  This years' recently announced nominee list is no exception.  Let's start with the absurd category.  This years' list includes NWA, LL Cool J, Chic, and Cat Stevens, none of whom ever played a single note of rock music.  Enough said about them.  Kiss, famous for their outfits, and not for music is on the list.  They are this years' mockery of rock 'n roll nominee.  Definitely deserving are Nirvana and Peter Gabriel.  Fringe candidates include The Replacements and more interestingly, The Meters, who are a local New Orleans band of accomplished musicians headed by Art Neville of the famous Neville family.  We would however not cast a ballot for either.  Hall & Oates, The Zombies, Yes and Linda Ronstadt all enjoyed considerable commercial success and arguments can be made for their induction, but to us represent a list of those who we have previously forgotten.  Better choices would be Deep Purple and The Butterfield Blues Band famous for introducing Al Kooper and Mike Butterfield, a bunch of white guys trying to play Black music.  That leaves one additional nominee who we haven't mentioned and he does makes our short list of people who really should be in the Rock 'n Roll HOF, and that would be guitar legend Link Wray.  A graduate of the Gene Vincent school of attire, Wray in his Elvis sideburns and leather jackets, really was an innovator on the electric guitar.  No one played power chords before Mr. Wray and his distortion techniques have been imitated by many 1000s who followed.  Listen to Link's famous instrumental classic hit "Rumble".  Now that's someone who is deserving of election, which guarantees he will be overlooked and remain an outsider.  Ho hum.  RZ

Hollywood Walk of Fame - Part 2

Posted on: 10/13/2013

    Some time ago, we wrote here about the arrogance and audacity of one Ms. Kim Kardashian in having the gall to submit an application to have a star on the historic walkway.  Now comes news, that Kim's resounding rejection, raised the ire of Mr. Kanye West, who is the father of their illegitimate child.  Frankly we are not a fan of Mr. West.  Ever since he unprecedently interrupted the acceptance speech of country star Taylor Swift at the Grammys, we thought he lowered the bar that much lower, in terms of acceptable behavior for even a rap artist.  Apparently Mr. West is of the opinion that his baby mama's performance in a home made porn movie and her conceded fellatio prowess qualifies her as a legitimate motion picture star.  The Walk of Fame has remained steadfast in its position and re-itterated that being on a long-suffering reality show falls way short of its minimum standards.  Mr. West took a strong position on this and other issues recently on the Jimmy Kimmel television show.  Mr. West, in front of a live audience, reminded Kimmel that he, West, was a genius.  Kimmel responded as follows: "I don't know if you know this, but a lot of people think you're a jerk".  Feel free to include us in that category.  West responded with what sounds to us as a threat of physical violence, by telling the host, "...it's not safe for you in this zoo...never think that I'm not from Chicago for one second."  Leave it to a rap artist to utter a threat of harm on a live television show.  Ah, the state of the music business in the year 2013.  What hath God wrought?  RZ

The Mystery Of The Creative Process

Posted on: 10/06/2013

    Few topics intrigue us more than the mystery of the Creative Process.  What makes a person creative in the first place?  Is it a product of intelligence?  I tend to think not.  Is it influenced by diet, exercise, sleep and overall good health?  Again we answer in the negative.  In the individual we know best, namely the blog author Ric Zweig, we are able to make the following observations and draw certain conclusions as follows.  We never know when lightning will strike or when the conditions will be right to allow us to reach a combination of lyrics and music to bring about a tune.  Some tunes have taken in excess of a year to coalesce into a song.  Still others have been born in literally minutes.  For the first 5 years of our attempts to write songs, we appeared to be prolific in terms of numbers.  Many were weak, some were not fully developed, and still others yearned to be brought into the studio where they could, hopefully reach full potential.  But for that time period, ideas, melodies and hooks flowed copiously, with not a whole lot of effort involved to create a tune.  Surely this period must have been influenced by a whole lot of freedom, brought on by my active retirement from our judicial career, as well as a lengthy and steamy personal relationship with a most beautiful young woman from Panama.  So the first conclusion seems to be, the richer one's life is in terms of daily experience, the more likely there will be a melting pot from which the possibility of a 'strange brew' may emerge.  We then experienced the proverbial dry spell.  A period of 2 years where we concluded that we had exhausted our well of ideas.  It seemed our well had gone dry.  No more water, no new lyrical concepts, no new melodies to explore, no new songs.  Absolutely finito.  Nothing.  But then, just as suddenly and equally surprising, we began to see a virtual rebirth of the creative process.  New songs began to emerge, better tunes with stronger musical foundations supported by the experience itself of writing tunes and a higher degree of competence on the guitar.  With the exception of 2 early tunes prompted by the mere fact of having access to a piano in our house, we have always used an acoustic guitar to write songs.  So now we seem to be thriving creatively.  The process, once again as it once was, seems less daunting, and the fruit is hanging low from the tree, ready to be plucked.  Here now are our conclusions on how to bring about a state of mind where new songs can give birth.  1.  Try to live a full life, full of experience and cautious adventure.  This provides a lyrical foundation from which to draw on.  2.  Spend more time with your guitar, especially doodling around.  Doing so increases the odds, you will discover a new hook or two.  3.  Learn a new instrument.  When we mess around on a friend's piano, new previously undiscovered melodies jump out on us.  4.  Pray for rain.  Something about a rainy day seems to inspire us.  OK, we are now headed to our producer's studio to continue work on our most recent song, appropriately titled "Questions".  RZ

Strange New World

Posted on: 09/30/2013

    Qualifying as possibly the strangest thing we have ever read in many moons is the item where Ms. Miley Cyrus volunteered the bombshell that she has been acting, of late, as a mentor for Justin Bieber.  Cyrus was allegedly quoted as saying, "people don't take him seriously."  Yeah Miley, like people take YOU seriously.  At least no one over the age of 10 does.  This falls rightly as a combination of the bizarre, weird and downright hysterical.  One can only hope this story emanated from someone's crazy imagination and has no claim on factual accuracy.  It has caused us, however to ponder what other mentoring analogies may have occurred throughout recent history.  How about Bill Gates getting financial advice from Larry the cable guy.  Or Donald Trump getting hair advice from Yul Brynner.  Or Miguel Cabrera getting hitting advice from Floyd Mayweather.  Or Helen Mirren getting acting counsel from the Kardashian sisters.  Or Steve Jobs getting inventing tips from Abdulah the Butcher.  Or Barack Obama being counseled on racial sensitivity by the tandem of Paula Deen and Riley Cooper.  We could go and on.  But will resist the temptation.  Perhaps you would like to offer your own comparative analogies.  We would like to generously offer our own valued counsel to young Mr.  Bieber.  Run as fast as you can and as far away from Ms. Cyrus as your little feet will take you.  Ms. Cyrus has excelled in torpedoing her once vibrant career and will soon be headlining the big show at the local little booty shake club in Vegas for a cadre of loud intoxicated patrons.  Ms. Cyrus remains our favorite candidate in ten years to be the focal point of a story with the following headline.  "Whatever happened to.....?  You can fill in the blank as you see fit.  RZ

The Randomness of Life,Wealth & Stardom

Posted on: 09/22/2013

    In 1994, Quentin Tarantino helped write and direct a movie called "Pulp Fiction".  One of the motion picture's central themes' was the absolute randomness of life.  No, your existence here is not pre-determined, an act of fate or destiny, or based on a profound belief in an invisible entity in the sky who rewards African-American athletes when they score touchdowns on Sunday.  The scene that best illustrates this theme is the one involving Ving Rhames' character, Marcellus Wallace, who is the local city crime big boss man with his finger on all illicit activities.  Rhames' character is a man used to getting his way in life.  But due to a bizarre set of circumstance, he soon finds himself restrained in a cellar, bent over a chair, being anally penetrated by a homosexual rapist.  The scene is played with dramatic flair by all involved but with a slight overtone of humor.  The viewer is left with the realization that this is not what the Rhames' character had in mind when he woke up that morning.  As we move inevitably towards the end of 2013, the realization hits us that randomness seems now to infect the world as to who gets obscenely rich and who becomes a star in the music world.  Our deaths are now so very random as illustrated if we happen to be near a marathon finish line in Boston, a Navy ship yard in Washington, D.C., or a mall in Kenya.  The lottery, another manifestation of randomness, also known as taxes for poor and stupid people, does have the potential, regardless of mathematical probability, of transforming a solitary individual into a new world of outrageous wealth.  Last week's lucky winner won 225 million dollars.  For that person, life will never be the same.  So society dangles this most unlikely carrot, in the name of funding state governments.  The same absurdity now seems to have infected the music world.  The latest sudden superstar is a Swedish 24 year old named Tim Bergling who changed his name to Avicii.  He is for at least the next few days, the biggest and richest DJ in the world of electronic dance music.  Tim is quick to admit he can't sing, write lyrics or play an instrument, but he does have the uncanny ability to stand behind a bank of equipment and locate the 'start' or 'play' buttons and press them accordingly.  For this artistic genius, he is paid six-figure sums at clubs all over the planet for a bunch of high-spending ecstasy afficianados.  Congratulations are in order to Tim and all the other lucky lottery winners.  Oh, one other note, in a recent interview in 'Time Magazine' Tim was asked, "Why the name Avicii?"  His response, "Avicii is the lowest level of Buddhist hell."  At least our lucky, no-talent DJ has some insight where this is all headed.  RZ

New Era

Posted on: 09/15/2013

    Being in a band is a crutch.  You play other people's music even though you do everything to make it sound unique and individual.  But being in band is similar to being married to 3 other people at the same time.  And marriage has not been one of our strong points.  Finding the right formula is elusive for a variety of reasons.  What you should be doing is playing electric guitar for yourself and singing and playing the songs you personally wrote and recorded, and that represent what you are as a musician.  That way, you are only responsible for yourself and your own gear.  It's actually a relief, so the decision was easy.  This decision coincides with our being represented by an entertainment attorney who is seeking licensing for our music in TV and motion pictures.  For the time being I will play as a solo performer.  When other opportunities present themselves to play as a duo or a foursome, we may go ahead and do it.  But from now on, we will seek and accept bookings only as a single, Ric Zweig.  It just seems so much easier and I'm finally ready to do this on many levels.  Sometimes in life, things just feel right and this is one of those times.  RZ

Piling On

Posted on: 09/08/2013

    It's already old news about the performance of Miley Cyrus at this years' MTV Video Music Awards.  (VMA)  However, we have carefully re-considered this event and its significance, if any, to our culture in general and wish to share these sentiments with our readers.  As expressed here previously, we have always been a fan of the Hannah Montana brand so carefully crafted by the Disney empire and played to perfection by Cyrus.  The recent criticism of Cyrus has been universally venomous in its disdain for the young entertainer.  "Desperate" and "Disgusting" are 2 of the words often used to describe what she did on television to a predominantly youthful audience.  We found it to be neither of those, but rather pathetic and sad in its nature.  This is a young girl, obviously out of control, who is having great personal difficulty transforming from a teenager to a young woman.  On the performance, she was physically unattractive, not the least bit sexy, clumsy, awkward, and those are the gentlest things we can think of to say.  As Camille Paglia wrote in Time Magazine, "She (Cyrus) was clumsy, flat-footed, and cringingly unsexy, an effect heightened by her manic grin".  What does this say about the artistic culture prevailing at this time in America.  MTV has always been a leader in shattering established standards of artistic achievement.  If the standards can be lowered by leaps and bounds, look for MTV to do so in the name of greed and exploitation of its youthful audience.  Where previously, this has been spear-headed by the rap, urban and hip-hop communities with its pro-bling, anti-woman, anti-semitic and anti-authority themes, Cyrus' debacle was a major spillover of artistic bankruptcy into the basically sanitized pop world of modern music.  Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and the rest of their cohorts all suck musically, but they, at least, are not in crushingly bad taste.  That's what makes Cyrus' antics noteworthy here, not just that it was in bad taste, but that it sucked as well.  Very bad theatre.  This is where we are culturally in 2013.  Entertainment that sucks and is in excruciatingly bad taste.  As for Ms. Cyrus, this may not end well for her, but we hope she finds her way and quickly.  RZ

More Zweig Tidbits

Posted on: 09/01/2013

    Last week's blog, where we revealed for the first time that this writer had served the State of Florida for more than 20 years as a Criminal Court Judge, and decried the treatment that teen star Justin Bieber received from police after landing at Ft. Lauderdale Airport, received more responses than any other previous blog entry.  The status of being a member of the judiciary (although I retired some years ago) obviously affords a level of credibility that prompted a boatload of readers to respond.  Thanx to all who took the time to offer their views.                                                                    A few Zweig tidbits follow:  First, Eminem offered his view this week that Khloe Kardashian is ugly.  Just what we needed, an insensitive beauty opinion from a white rapper who wears what's left of his hair in chic concentration camp style.  Look in the mirror dude if you want to see true ugliness, inside and out.                                                                                                                                                 Poor Miley Cyrus can't catch a break.  Her over the top presentation at MTVs Video Music Awards show subjected her to a torrent of criticism for its tribute to slut.  This poor child is having an obviously difficult adjustment to being an adult, both physically and mentally.  We here at the Ric Zweig blog sincerely hope she gets things squared away before she's claimed as another victim of childhood stardom.                                                                                                                                 Lastly, Gaga released a new tune and video called "Applause" where she revealed a new much improved body tone.  Give the bimbo credit.  Her time in the gym was  well spent.  Unfortunately, the entertainer is once again surrounded by oodles of dancers to distract the viewer from noticing how lame her dance moves are.  Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron she ain't.  However, we are sure her millions of pre-pubescent fans could care less.  We will leave you with our blog question of the week.  Will anybody over the age of 12 admit to being a Gaga fan?  RZ

Legal Irregularity

Posted on: 08/25/2013

    Despite having been a criminal trial lawyer with an emphasis on capital litigation for many years and many more years spent as a criminal court judge, we have consistently shied away from bringing our legal perspective to a blog which is essentially about rock music.  But this week's blog will be a rare exception prompted by some unfortunate circumstances involving Justin Bieber and his extensive entourage when they landed the other day at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.  According to a Broward County police spokeswoman, the local gendarmes received an anonymous call that said the following: "in the entourage that Bieber was traveling with...there would be some kind of substance in one of their bags".  Accordingly, based on this sketchy information, the police decided to meet the group as they left the plane with drug-sniffing dogs and subjected Bieber and company to an hours-long search of their persons, luggage and the vehicles assigned to pick up the group.  The police spokeswoman confirmed that absolutely NOTHING of an illegal nature was found.  To us here at the Ric Zweig blog, this pretty much boggles the mind.  The law is quite clear on this issue.  The law requires that there be an articulable, reasonable set of facts and circumstances before a judge can authorize a search warrant.  This is applicable because of the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution which forbids the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures upon its people.  We should know because in our career, we reviewed hundreds if not thousands of requests for search warrants and approved a high percentage of those applications.  In the Bieber case, the police dispensed with the inconvenience of having a judge review the matter, and went ahead with the search of a large group of people WITHOUT judicial review or a search warrant.  This was prompted by a phone call attributed to an unidentified person, who offered no specific information as to what was being carried or who was in possession of it, or the amount of the contraband involved.  The cops must have obviously known that no judge would authorize a search warrant under these insufficient circumstances, so they just went ahead on their own clearly violating the rights of the Canadian-born Bieber.  It is this kind of legal trend in the United States, at the present time, that gives us pause to be very concerned about the trampling of our constitutional rights.  Expect Bieber's legal staff to initiate a civil lawsuit against Broward County's police agency seeking extensive monetary damages, which ultimately the local tax payers will be on the hook for.  RZ

Thou Shall Not Criticize

Posted on: 08/11/2013

    While leafing through the latest 'Rolling Stone Magazine',  we caught up to an article about Donald Fagen, who achieved music fame with his band "Steely Dan" some many years back.  We were never fans of their rather bland marshmallow vanilla brand of rock music, mostly because to us it lacked any sense of emotion or passion, coupled with their obsessive avoidance of live performance which made us suspicious of how good their chops really were.  Notwithstanding, they were popular with many and achieved commercial success with songs like 'Reeling in the Years' and 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number'.  One thing you rarely see in the biz is a performer being publicly critical of another artist.  Thus our surprise when Fagen blasted superstar Bob Dylan in the RS article.  As per Rolling Stone, Fagen had this to say about Dylan.  "I've been to Dylan shows where I just walked out in the middle.  He has about a dozen minor-key-drone tunes with 3 chords.  I find it very tedious.  He actually has songs that are more boring than some early Appalachian songs.  He has songs with 512 verses and almost no melody.  I think a psychiatrist would be more useful than a throat doctor at this point."  Wow, Donald, lay off the sauce.  Who are you to criticize the great one, although I do agree that a Dylan concert is indeed boring because of Dylan's reluctance to engage the audience.  Dylan's genius is in his poetry and lyrics.  He has rightly never been compared as a great melody maker like John Lennon.  Maybe we should give Fagen credit for being so outspoken.  It is somewhat refreshing.  But a lot of industry music big wigs will not soon forget the cranky 65 year old's comments.  Rest assured, Mr. Zimmerman will not be pleased.  RZ

Intellectualism And Rock

Posted on: 08/01/2013

    We were watching our favorite rock television channel, 'Palladia' last night and stumbled onto the Who's 2012 documentary of the making of their 1972 album, "Quadrophenia".  The intent of this stately production was to suggest that their effort was synonymous with other noteworthy albums of the time, such as "Dark Side Of The Moon" or "Sgt. Pepper".   Nothing could be further from the truth.  Complete with thick erudite British accent commentary, suggesting the speakers know more than you, the doc futilely urged us to believe that the band was a haven of significant intellectualism with advanced insight into the meaning of life and spiritual clarity.  To us, the presentation came across as a pompous attempt to over-glorify the band's legacy and a desperate attempt to make them appear still relevant as the 2 surviving members trudge through old age.  The plain fact is that Roger Daltry and Peter Townsend haven't done anything musically noteworthy in more than 30 years.  In the final analysis, the documentary came across as somewhat pathetic.  Rock 'n' roll was never intended to be intellectual and any attempt to portray as such is simply wrong.  That's why we always find music from 'The Ramones', 'Iggy Pop & The Stooges', or 'Nirvana' refreshing.  It's 3 chords and a cloud of dust.  The louder the better.  Rock music is an emotional release of energy.  There's nothing Einsteinium about it.  So please Roger and Peter, stop the bullshit and return quietly to the old-age home where you presently belong.  RZ

Our Favorite Albums

Posted on: 07/21/2013

    We recently fielded a request to name our favorite albums of all time.  So resisting a temptation to just name 5 Van Morrison albums, here is our list.  Coming in at number 5 is the 'Beatles' mind-bending and innovative "Sgt.  Pepper".  This mighty effort by the lads was their first music heavily influenced by the psychedelic times of the late sixties.  The boys were tripping, the music reflected their use of LSD and from an artistic point of view, delivered the goods.  At number 4, we choose "Dark Side Of The Moon" by its creators, 'Pink Floyd'.  This album holds the Billboard record for most weeks in the top 40.  I believe something in excess of a decade.  "Dark Side" is a mighty creative triumph.  At number 3, we have "Elephant Mountain" by Jesse Colin Young and 'The Youngbloods'.  Many may not be familiar with this music.  You are in luck if you take the time to discover this now.  At number 2, we list the first "Led Zeppelin" album.  In the history of Rock, no premier album had the impact this one had.  Jimmy Page, fresh from 'The Yardbirds' and his British cohorts, showed the artistic potential of loud rock music.  Our number 1 is simply a personal favorite.  The album is called "Forever Changes", performed by the genius of Arthur Lee and his California group 'Love'.  One thing that makes this masterpiece stand out is the unity and flow as the album goes from piece to piece.  Lee's lyrics are  riveting and the music invades your brain and simply won't let go.  This is timeless rock music and is completely illustrative of the fulfilled potential of the genre.  Honorable mention we award to Bruce Springsteen and his debut blockbuster album "Born To Run".  RZ

Protest Music

Posted on: 07/14/2013

    Protest music has a long esteemed history in the United States.  From Woody Guthrie protesting economic conditions in the 1930s to Pete Seeger ranting about Communist witch hunts in the 50s, laying the groundwork for America's most articulate and greatest protest artist of the last 100 years, namely Bob Dylan.  Dylan's poetic talents of protest regarding issues of war and racial injustice laid the foundation for his spectacular career which has now spanned 50 years.  But as Dylan once wrote, 'the times they are a changing'.  No more creative uses of music to protest events like the Vietnam War from artists like 'Crosby, Stills & Nash (throw in Neil Young, as well as so many others).  Now you have influential artists like Beyonce Knowles using last night's concert in Tennessee to protest the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case by calling for a moment of silence before her concert.  Now of course, this entertainer can express her 1st Amendment rights as she sees fit.  But I find it ironic that Knowles and her rapper husband Jay Z, representative of a musical genre that consistently glorifies thug life for Black teenagers, are seemingly concerned when that path results in a senseless killing of a Black youth such as Martin.  You simply can't have it both ways.  Whereas Dylan wrote about obvious injustices that most of us could identify with, Knowles and her rapper ilk appear to be sensitive to a situation they helped create in the first place.  If the African-American musical talent of today predominantly gives credence to the accumulation of bling, money and fancy tricked out automobiles, ridicules and humiliates police officers and demeans women as whores and bitches, it can hardly be a shock when adherence to the thug lifestyle results in an incident like that which occurred in Florida.  Violent Black on Black crime rages uncontrollably throughout urban America, but no protests about that.  Chicago, Newark and Miami have countless drive-by shootings in Black neighborhoods spurred on by the rap music that fuels such violence.  No protests or moments of silence for that, only when a White neighborhood anti-crime watch captain shoots a black teenager, only that triggers a moment of silence.  In our view, this is hypocrisy and exploitation of an unfortunate event at its finest.  Sure, the shooting of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy, but do something directed towards cleaning up your own house and then maybe a moment of silence is in order.  RZ

Van The Man

Posted on: 07/07/2013

    A few days ago, we noted that the great and legendary Irish rocker singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison had been booted from the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame somewhat after his well-deserved selection in 1993.  Apparently, Van had been placing bets on how well some of his records would do in terms of sales.  What this may or may not have to do with his spectacular status as possibly the greatest songwriter of all time completely escapes us.  We suspect there may be more than meets the eye here, possibly due to what some call an attitude disposition on the part of the artist.  It's true that Van has almost never smiled while performing, but again this can hardly be declared a criteria for greatness.  We don't recall Albert Einstein yucking it up much in public to the delight of the huddled masses.  But back to Van Morrison, who has and continues to be a stratospheric force in the music-making world.  Morrison is the only artist alive who compels me to purchase whatever his newest CD happens to be without needing a preview.  He never disappoints.  The only other artist who matches and possibly exceeds  Van as a lyricist is Dylan.  But Dylan isn't close to the genius of Morrison's voice and vocal range.  Van plays wonderful guitar and saxophone and attracts only the best musicians to play on his albums.  Check out 'Going Down To Monte Carlo" off the latest CD.  But for the single best example of the genius of Van Morrison, we refer you to "Hymns To The Silence".  After a listen to this tune, you too will be resting your case and be quick to join the legion of Van Morrison fans.  RZ  


Posted on: 06/30/2013

    There is something to be said for longevity, whether it's in living a long life, staying married to the same woman, or being in a rock band with pretty much the same blokes.  There are some who have suggested that it might be better to live one's life as if a comet blazing across the sky, briefly but spectacularly.  There have been rock bands who fit this latter description, brilliant and innovative, their day in the sun but a fleeting moment.  Two such bands that quickly come to mind are Arthur Lee's "Love" as well as "Spirit" led by Randy California.  A third would be "The Youngbloods" led by Jesse Collin Young.  But the other extreme would be a band that has been together for 51 years and still going quite strong.  Of course, we are talking about "The Rolling Stones".  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who both will celebrate their 70th. birthdays later this year, put the band together in 1962.  Drummer Charlie Watts is an astounding 72 and guitarist Ron Wood, the baby in the group, is  66.  The band continues to tour, record and tolerate each other, in order to keep the story going.  This past weekend, the Stones played the Glastonbury Festival in Great Britain, the country's most prestigious rock music festival.  No need to recount their many accomplishments.  Everyone knows the story and has listened to their so many hits.  What's amazing to us is they continue to do what they do.  Sure, they look like hell, and the years have taken their toll, but the boys must be feeling pretty all right to keep rocking in the manner they do.  That simple fact validates everything good about rock 'n roll.  So if you want to live a long life, try learning an instrument, write some tunes, start a band, and live a long life filled with fun and adventure.  Now a personal note.  We ended our 20 year career as a Criminal Court Judge in Miami some 10 years ago, and thusly began our rock music life.  Now we are the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the rock band "Fresh Air" here in South Florida.  And you know something, we have never felt better and had more fun.  We can all take a cue from the Stones, just stay together and no matter what, keep a rockin'.  RZ

Class, the Epitome Or the Absence of

Posted on: 06/23/2013

    While watching the boxing event last night (yes, I am a boxing fan) between Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner for the welterweight championship of the world, viewers observed an incident that made even the veteran battle-scarred announcers recoil in horror.  After the fight was concluded, the loser Malignaggi, went over to the winner Broner's corner to offer his congratulations.  Broner, who is African-American responded thusly, "I came into your hometown, took your belt, and took your girl."  Malignaggi took exception to the comments and there was almost an out of control brawl until cooler heads prevailed.  In all my years of sports watching, I have never seen a more classless action than that exhibited by Broner.  Broner, who is 23, uneducated and typically illiterate, acted in a manner that is the norm for the rap, urban and hip-hop music communities of today.  Rap music, whether we like it or not, is the single biggest influence for the young Black population in America.  Broner was just acting in a manner that is totally consistent with the values of the Rap community.  It starts with insults, trash talking and ultimately escalates into the violence that has resulted in the death and murder of so many rap performers.  This is not about race, rather it's about a genre of music that has no moral or sense of decency in its foundation.  Basketball player Tim Duncan, also African-American, of the San Antonio Spurs, whose team lost to the Miami Heat in the recent NBA championship finals, is the exact opposite of boxer Broner.  Duncan, one of the greatest players in the history of the league, represents the epitome of class, ability and dignity.  Articulate and educated, (Wake Forest University) Duncan is an outstanding example of a person all of us can strive to emulate, regardless of color.  We can only hope and pray that youngsters in the inner city will choose to model their behavior after Tim Duncan as opposed to the crass Broner.  RZ

The Greatest American Blues' Giants

Posted on: 06/16/2013

    Today the Ric Zweig Blog celebrates the 7 greatest blues' giants in the long history of American blues music.  Coming in at number 7 is Mississippi John Hurt, born John Smith Hurt who lived to see his 73rd birthday.  Hurt invented a finger-picking style that was unique to his deep south version of the blues.  "Stagger Lee" was probably Hurt's most special tune.  At number 6, we have Lightnin' Hopkins, born Sam John Hopkins, who was 69 at his death.  My favorite Lightnin' tune was "Baby Please Don't Go".  No fancy instrumentation, just Hopkins singing and strumming his acoustic guitar.  A special maker of blues magic was Mr. Hopkins.  At number 5, we select recent Hall of Fame inductee Albert King, born Albert Nelson who also died at the age of 69.  King is most remembered for "Born Under a Bad Sign".  Of the 7 on this list, Albert King was easily the most accomplished of the guitar players.  Coming in at number 4 on our list is Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed, born Mathis James Reed, who passed tragically at the age of 50.  A spectacular harmonica player, Reed is most remembered for "Big Boss Man" and "Bright Lights, Big City".  No one needed a disc jockey to identify Reed's instantly recognizable voice.  John Lee Hooker takes his place as our choice for number 3.  Hooker played the blues until his passing at the ripe age of 84.  Scores of white musicians, including Van Morrison and Bonnie Raitt, paid homage to Hooker whose most famous tune was "Boom Boom".  At number 2, we have Chester Arthur Burnett, more commonly known as Howlin' Wolf, whose booming voice and staggering harmonica playing cemented his reputation as one of the absolute greatest bluesman.  Wolf passed at the age of 65.  Check this artist out on the old You Tube black and white videos, especially his live performances of "Smokestack Lightning" and "Spoonful".  We reserve the top position for an artist generally considered to be 'the father of the blues'.  He was born McKinley Morganfield, and lived to age 70, known simply as Muddy Waters.  Muddy's recording and live performances of his tune "Mannish Boy" are truly show stopping legend.  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards literally worshipped Muddy Waters.  Let us know who we omitted.  But to all the young rockers out there who read this Blog, take a moment to Google the above artists and become a bit more educated on where all this wonderful rock music originally came from.  RZ

Music & Hate

Posted on: 06/09/2013

    Hate has become an ever present smothering aspect of American society.  Everyone seems to hate something or someone.  Employees hate their bosses.  Homeowners despise their neighbors.  Men hate their wives and vice-versa.  Kids can't stand their parents.  Sports fans hate the home team rival.  Here in South Florida, many fans hate the home team, that concept in and of itself inviting extensive analysis with all sorts of sociological implications.  Why all this hate and negativity, which serves as an energy wasting drain on our daily lives and overall happiness?  It suggests there is a significant and pervasive dissatisfaction with people's daily lives which overflows into expressions of hate which give temporary relief to the burdened sufferer.  We are puzzled however by the amount of sheer unadulterated hate directed at today's music pop stars.  Here then is our list of most hated and despised music pop stars in the U.S.  Coming in at number 8 is appropriately perceived music lightweight Taylor Swift, who has an endless number of young female disenchanted fans who worship her every word.  Everyone else refuses to take her seriously and rightfully so.  Number 7 is Lady Gaga whose brilliance at self-promotion must be grudgingly admired.  However, her combination of plain jane looks and limited vocal chops brings down a hateful reign of condemnation.  Beyonce, number 6 whose whole career is effectively built on stealing other performers' innovations.  It must be noted however, that Lady B is one sexy torso shaker.  Nicki Minaj is number 5.  She can't sing or dance, but her bodacious body defies being ignored.   This woman has boobs and booty that could launch a ship to distant stars.  Brittany Spears is a solid number 4.  Best known for wearing no underwear, Spears engenders hatred across the gender divide equally.  Justin Bieber is our choice for number 3.  Commonly referred to as a wanna-be player and punk ass drivel, this kid has our sympathies as he navigates a career destined for a grandiose fall.  Numbers 2 and 1 aren't really music pop stars at all, although both have made pop CDs with disasterous results.  Celebs devoid of musical talent who try to cash in on their pop celebrity seem to bring out the largest displays of hatred.  Accordingly, we reserve positions 2 and 1 for lame-brained Paris Hilton and intelligence-challenged Kim Kardashian.  What can be further said about these ladies that hasn't been already said by more erudite writers than yours truly.  Suffice to say that the level of hatred does cause me concern.  RZ

Analog Man In A Digital World

Posted on: 06/02/2013

    A former Congressman from New York named John Hall in a band called "Orleans" years ago wrote a tune called 'Analog Man In A Digital World'.  We know now of what he speaks.  Making a band viable in the present time period is a whole lot different than back in the day.  In today's world, every member of your ensemble should be computer literate and know the ins and outs of social media in order to compete.  Failure to meet this minimum standard pretty much dooms your survival despite your musical ability.  For the kids of today, this seems to be as normal as turning on the radio was for us baby boomers.  But we older musicians had better get with the program if we want to continue to survive.  This message was brought home to roost this past weekend when our new band, "Fresh Air" (plug plug) was offered a proposal to come under the auspices of a large successful promotional company here in South Florida.  Their modus operandi is to create a webpage for each band they represent complete with photos, video clips of the band performing, as well as bios, and other stuff synonymous with the digital age.  The prospective clients of the promo outfit, in need of a band, can then hit the webpage and decide if they want us to perform at their respective venues.  Failure to accept this new reality leaves your band in the dust trying to compete with those who have successfully embraced this technology.  So we will travel this road, spending more time in front a screen as opposed to rehearsing clever outros for our music.  Now I'm patiently waiting (ho-hum) for the boys to send me their bios via email and then I will cleverly forward them to the promo company.  As I said in the beginning of this piece,  I am an 'analog man in a digital world'.  RZ

Liberace & Elvis

Posted on: 05/26/2013

    Frankly, it ought to be against the law to put Liberace and Elvis in the same sentence, but famed Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub did that and more this past week.  Weintraub became rich in the 50s and 60s by being a successful booking agent and concert producer for many of America's biggest entertainers.  So he should know better than to compare the two aforementioned guys and to draw favorable comparisons between the two.  Personally, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog find this bordering on blasphemy and preposterous, ridiculous, etc. etc.  Or maybe Weintraub is just eager to promote his new HBO film biopic of Liberace starring Michael Douglas as the flamboyant gay celebrity, of which he Weintraub coincidently is the executive producer.  It is such a disservice to the memory of Elvis Presley to lump them together as performers.  Liberace was a perennial Las Vegas showroom staple, whose audience consisted of mid-western white widows in their 60s and beyond, who adored Liberace as he swished around the stage and played  emotionless concert concertos with mediocrity and the absence of musical flair, but plenty of theatrical flair and extravagant costumes.  Elvis, before the advent of manager Colonel Tom Parker, was a bundle of raw sexual energy, performing and shaking the new music of the time, ie rock 'n roll, as no one before had done.  Song titles like "Baby, Let's Play House" were seen as a threat to mommies and daddies across the land who had teenage daughters.  Parker hastily sanitized Presley, recast him in a new image, made him palatable to America's conservative tastes and oversaw a new breed of song titles like "Won't You Please Let Me Be Your Teddybear".  This was a far cry from the previous plaintive sexual cries found in "I Got a Woman" and "Money Honey".  Elvis had 3 sections in his career.  The first was the real Elvis, pre -Tom Parker.  The second was the Parker years, which included Elvis being made into a Hollywood leading man starring in numerous G rated movies.  The third section was a fat, old and worn out, drug addicted Elvis reduced to playing shows, where else but down the street from Liberace in good old Las Vegas.  So maybe Weintraub's comparison isn't so far off when one considers the last few years of Elvis Presley's way too short life.  RZ

The Eternal Dylan

Posted on: 05/19/2013

    Couldn't help but notice that legendary songwriter, musician and poet, Bob Dylan received an honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters this past week.  The 115 year old academy had previously limited its membership to writers, composers, painters and sculptors.  But if you had to choose one and only one person from the rock genre covering the last 60 years, then Dylan is actually the obvious choice for inclusion.  Dylan, a very young man out of Hibbing, Minnesota, born Robert Zimmerman, launched onto the national scene from New York City in 1962.  His innate ability to tap into the national consciousness through his magical lyric writing was reminiscent of Woody Guthrie, but the difference was Dylan reached countless more people, especially the young, the restless and disadvantaged.  He almost immediately became the voice of a new generation.  Even his high-pitched nasal voice couldn't detract from the awesomely powerful messages in his songs.  Dylan brought rock music out of the wilderness and single-handedly gave it a seriousness of purpose.  Whereas music pioneers like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis crooned about sex and teenage angst, Dylan warbled about change, what was soon about to come, and the masters of war that President Eisenhower had warned us about.  Dylan, more than any other one person, was the impetus and the force that brought the social revolution of young society in the sixties.  It was Dylan, a personal force of movement and change, perceived as a threat to the then existing definition of American civilization that was to culminate in the tumultuous times leading to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother and Senator  Robert F. Kennedy and civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evans.  Staunch establishment forces led by President Richard Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tried to stem the time, but the genie was already out of the bottle and America was forever changed.  No American entertainer before or after, has generated more of a societal impact than Bob Dylan.  How quaintly reassuring that even after the age of 70, Dylan continues to do what he always has done, which is to write thought-provoking tunes comfortably within the world of rock 'n roll.  Congratulations Mr. Dylan.  Love to jam with you sometime.  RZ

Not All Fall By The Way Side

Posted on: 05/12/2013

    This past week's disclosure that Jeff Hanneman, 49, a founding guitarist of metal band 'Slayer' died from complications of cirrhosis, a disease of the liver associated with alcoholism, prompted a friend to comment that the rock style of life is not consistent with a healthy lifestyle and long tenure.  Well, rock music has been around for about 68 years, which affords a rather significant sample of time to look back at, to determine the accuracy of such a statement.  Sure, Elvis died unquestionably from the effects of stardom, but contemporaries like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino are still kicking the can.  Fame got the best of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, but Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are doing just fine.  John Bonham hit one tom-tom too many, but bandmates Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are still gigging.  The Rolling Stones lost hard-living Brian Jones in his 20s, but Mick Jagger (recently turned 70), Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood have each beaten the odds to reach a long life.  Canada's legendary band 'Rush', although showing visible signs of age, continue their never-ending world tours still intact, just as they were 30 years ago.  Another ultra-famous Canadian group, "The Band' lost Levon Helm and Rick Danko to disease and Richard Manuel to suicide, but Robbie Robertson continues to thrive in a solo career.  Solo performers seem to survive at a greater rate than those in bands, in large part due to the avoidance of conflict which plagues so many successful groups.  Bob Dylan maintains a busy schedule, despite his advancing age. The same could be said for other solo artists like Van Morrison, Neil Young, Elton John and Leonard Cohen.  Crosby, Stills and Nash have borne a few crosses, but bottom line - they're still gigging together.  Guess it all depends on well we take care of ourselves.  Drugs, booze, uppers and downers are surely a prescription for eventual doom.  Rest, exercise and a well-balanced diet should keep us rocking into our 80s.  Which is exactly what we personally plan on doing.  RZ

The Positive Rap News

Posted on: 05/05/2013

    One can always count on news from the rap, hip-hop and urban communities to lift our spirits on a rainy day.  So let's take a look at the latest and greatest from our friends in the inner city for the preceding week.  Rapper 'Young Buck' was sentenced to 3 years in prison last week.  This followed action from the IRS who had the audacity of recently auctioning off our hero's property for his failure to pay taxes.  Not a good chain of events for Mr. Buck.  Chicago rapper 'Lil Reese', known for posing with large wads of cash, was arrested on charges of mob activity.  Things are apparently a bit rough for our urban trooper as he was apprehended by police after a search of the rapper's vehicle revealed Reese sleeping in the car.  Atlanta rapper Chris Kelly had even a worse week.  The former 'Kris Kross' rapper was found dead in his home.  The 34 year old role model, according to his mother,had become sick after using cocaine and heroin the night before he died.  Never a good idea.  Lil Wayne and his endless bad taste antics caught up to him as far as 'Mountain Dew' is concerned.  They dropped the rapper from their very lucrative endorsement deal.  But lest my readers think all the news from the rap world is negative, there is a bit of good news.  Rapper '2 Chainz', previously known for his spelling acumen, was acquitted of pot possession charges in Maryland.  The State's case was not helped by the arresting officers posing with the rapper at the police station after the arrest.  Also never a good idea by our law enforcement heroes.  So there it is, another edition of uplifting news from the inner city.  Tune in again soon for more current events direct from our urban friends.  RZ

Youthful Stupidity On Display

Posted on: 04/28/2013

    Teen sensation Justin Bieber has always, in his short career, exhibited a knack for garnering publicity.  Recently, Bieber while visiting Holland, got some of the most unwelcome kind.  The scene was the original home in Amsterdam where a young Jewish girl by the name of Anne Frank, along with her family, hid from the Nazis in an attic during World War 2.  When informed that Frank was ultimately captured by the German savages, separated from her family, and expelled to a concentration camp named Belsen where she ultimately succumbed to the disease of typhus at the ripe old age of 14, the nonsensical Bieber proclaimed that had she survived, he wished she would have become one of his most ardent fans.  One can forgive the ignorant youthfulness of Bieber's comment.  He is hardly an historic scholar, having ignored any prior attempt to educate himself beyond mastering his latest lame dance moves.  But the unprecedented lack of sensitivity to such a tragic story exhibits such a deficiency of maturity most unusual for anyone over the age of 6.  It is hard to even fathom such a remark.  Even the most hardened and insensitive teen would more than likely have at least a modicum of sympathy for what Anne Frank endured in her short life.  But to Bieber it had to be all about him and his fan base.  What a lout this jerk kid happens to be.  Hopefully the people of present-day Amsterdam realize that Bieber is not representative of young people in America.  RZ

Songwriting Together

Posted on: 04/13/2013

    In the course of making 5 CDs of original material, we've written over 50 songs that ended up being recorded.  Of course, there have been countless others that either never got to the studio or were ultimately abandoned during the recording process.  But we have not written a tune with another musician.  Until now, that is, when we co-wrote a song with a most talented Los Angeles musician by the name of Vito Tuxedo.  This came about because of the advanced technology, that presently exists, that makes such a venture possible.  Initially, Vito recorded an instrumental track, playing all the instruments, and sent us a MP3 file.  We loved the track and suggested that a collaboration might be in order.  Vito agreed, and sent us a simple stereo mix of the basic track devoid of the lead instruments.  We wrote some lyrics, and headed to producer Luis Salazar's Voyage studios to record a vocal track.  After 2 studio sessions we sent our efforts back to Vito's studio in California where he re-inserted the lead instruments, adding a blistering guitar solo in the bridge, intro and outro sections.  Vito then sent sent his work back to us here in Hollywood, Florida where Luis provided the master.  Presto, "The Dark Light" was born, with Vito and yours truly never getting closer than 3,000 miles apart.  Co-writing is something we would recommend to all musicians.  It tends to bring out the best in each of the participants.  More than likely, Vito and I will do this again.  Want to hear the exciting result of our collaboration?  Log into www.riczweig.com.  The tune automatically playing on our Home Page is the aforementioned "The Dark Light".  Let us know what you think of it.  Hopefully your experience at co-writing will be as productive and as much fun as ours was.  RZ  

Once Again A New Low

Posted on: 04/06/2013

   Just when you think the rap, hip-hop, and urban community could not possibly set a lower standard, along comes Mr. Rick Ross with his latest rap, which I refuse to publicize here by identifying it, in which the rotund rapper boasts about giving a woman the drug MDMA, more commonly known as the date-rape drug.  After the unknowing administration of the drug, Ross proceeds to describe the romantic interlude thusly, "and she ain't even know it".  This description of what is obvious felonious behavior does more to create an atmosphere of racist prejudice towards African-Americans than any cadre of Ku Klux Klan behavior.  Of course, Reed cares little of the societal implications of his psychotic rants, focusing rather on the cash register heart that beats within his rather large body.  I'm sure all the women in Ross' family, especially his mother, are all very proud of his sentiments.  One more in a long line of African-American role models for Black teenagers to emulate and worship.                            Somewhat less offensive, but equally illuminating, are the latest lyrics from Ms. Beyonce Knowles.  Let's review a sample of her Shakespearean offerings, "Don't get it twisted....This is my shit, bow down bitches!"  Yeah right, let's all worship this illiterate, thin voiced superstar, whose only talent is shaking her vagina in the most provocative manner mankind has ever witnessed.  This shaking of genitalia is not to be made light of.  Frankly, we never get tired of bearing witness to this public pubic (or should we say pubic public) display, but as a lyricist, she leaves much to be desired.  It serves no purpose other than bringing ridicule towards the African-American community.   RZ

Hit The Replay Button

Posted on: 03/31/2013

    Last week's Ric Zweig Blog attracted much more response than usual.  People definitely like their electronic music and are vehement in their defense of it.  Abel of Tulsa, Oklahoma writes, "so what if all it takes is pushing a play button to create the music, the point is we love to dance and the music allows us to do so".  Brianna of San Diego, California asks, "something doesn't have to be intellectual to be good and appreciated.  It's just snobbery to say that movies and music have to be intellectually thought provoking in order to be considered worthwhile."  These were probably the two most articulate responses our little commentary generated.  They highlight our basic premise that today's young people music listeners are the least discerning in our nation's history.  It can be fake or real, it makes no difference to them as long as it creates a need to dance.  Their position is not totally without merit.  Dancing is indeed fun, and when young puerile females are moving with provocation all around you, well the hell with being discerning.  That brings me to another point.  The throngs of young woman we observed at the Ultra Festival in Miami were just that, young and very young, ranging from 14 to about 25.  Most, if not all, seem to be competing to see to see who could wear the least amount of clothes and be the most sexually suggestive in their dance movements.  I'm sure a lot of parents would have been truly shocked to see their kid up to this public display of cavorting.  As for me, all music has some merit, even electronic music, especially if I am forced to observe its spectacle of sexual depravity.  Let's hear it for good old-fashioned American sexual depravity.  However, the age of some of these girls was a bit troubling to our obviously out-of-date values.  We just think that the young porno actresses of tomorrow are missing out by completely ignoring the other great music of the last 50 years.  RZ 

Electronic Music Wins The People

Posted on: 03/24/2013

    It is hardly earth shaking that electronic dance music is the most popular music on the planet at present.  Forget about rock 'n roll, although diehards like yours truly will never ever give up the ship.  The popularity of rap, urban, inner-city and hip hop noise has declined dramatically as white audiences have finally begun to realize that there will never be anything new under the sun with regard to that genre.  Filling the void is electronic dance music, because frankly, it is infectious and fun to dance to.  The rhythms, artificial as they may be, make people want to move to the beat and moving and dancing with equally infected people happens to be lots of fun.  Super stardom in the music world which used to be the province of artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix now see the spotlight shine on DJs like Tiesto and Deadmau5, who command vast throngs of people dancing and listening, as they stand behind a council table manipulating pre-programmed sounds that create a trance-like euphoria in their audience.  This weekend, the city of Miami hosted Ultra, an electronic dance music festival with a hefty admission price tag that drew jam-packed crowds.  Its fake, not particularly creative, but more importantly, it's a fun experience and that's what young audiences crave.  We are hardly young, but will admit to enjoying these sounds and busting a move or two.  This phenomenon was aptly summed up by the super popular electronic music group 'Swedish House Mafia'.  (Rolling Stone Magazine calls them "the world's biggest party-starters".)   Axel Hedfors, age 35, a member of this group, was quoted in the Rolling Stone article as saying, "Know why we make electronic music? Because we can't make other music."  Anotherwords, he readily admits to NOT being a musician, but clearly understands the concept of being an entertainer and performer.  A very rich, successful one at that.  So why try and fight city hall.  The music is fun to listen to and who doesn't enjoy dancing and watching oodles of young females shake their money makers.  Time to cut this short, got to catch my ride to downtown Miami and Ultra.  RZ

A Very Special Artist

Posted on: 03/17/2013

The 50s saw the birth of some very special artists, including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison to name just a few.  The 60s spawned the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and so many others.  The 70s brought us Bruce Springsteen.  The 80s produced Prince and a bunch of excellent metal artists like Judas Priest.  Since that time there have been some game changing artists, but frankly, the cupboard has been somewhat bare.  Now, along comes an absolutely amazing group called 'Alabama Shakes' propped up by its once in a generation lead singer, Brittany Howard.  Now this Blog entry is hardly earthshaking.  The group's single "Hold On"  was named Rolling Stone's number-one song of 2012.  They earned 3 Grammy nominations, but were shut out for the statues.  This group out of Athens, Alabama quickly earned appearances on Letterman, Conan, Saturday Night Live, and at the Grammy presentation show.   What makes the 'Shakes' so special is the incredible, boundless talent and voice of Brittany Howard.  "Hold On" and "Almost Always" are must listens providing instant insight to her deserved status as one of rock's all time great singers.  This is not the bland but pretty voices that you hear every year on American Idol.  Those girls are attractive, sound good, but the voices basically have no soul, no uniqueness.  They are clones of previous female winners who are mass produced for the public like the food at fast food restaurants.  Howard is no clone.  She is thoroughly original and special beyond belief.  To complete the package, she also has severe guitar chops which she deftly demonstrated on the live SNL appearance.  This young girl easily rivals Janis Joplin and has an amazing career ahead of her.  Brittany Howard will really need to hold on with what the future holds for her.  RZ

The Old Rascals

Posted on: 03/12/2013

    One of the greatest and most popular groups of all times was 'The Young Rascals' who became instant rock superstars in the late sixties.  The boys cranked out hit after hit, and just as quickly as their star rose, they essentially disappeared from the music scene.  Countless attempts over the years to bring them back together failed until a hard fought grandiose effort by E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zanft convinced the gents to reunite for a Broadway show set to debut at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City this coming April 15th.  This was not a hiatus caused by money hassles, but rather the same old personality rifts that plague so many bands.  But time and old age have softened the respective positions to such an extent that the original 4 members decided the time was right to try things again.  Singer Eddie Brigati, keyboardist Felix Cavaliere, guitarist Gene Cornish and drummer Dino Danelli will once again bring 'The Rascals', no longer young, back to life.  This show will surely be a monster hit.  With songs like "It's a Beautiful Morning", "Good Loving" , "Come On Up", "How Can I Be Sure" and "Grooving"  hordes of new and old fans, will see and hear a group that once rivaled 'The Beatles' back in the day.  I really am looking forward to this.  RZ

A Vote For Palladia

Posted on: 03/09/2013

    Once upon a time a television network called Music Television came to our TV set.  It was revolutionary.  It appealed to the sophisticated tastes of afficianadoes of rock 'n roll music.  You could watch videos of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan.  But after a bit, this wonderful concept morphed into something called MTV.  Almost immediately, the days of intelligence in music were gone from MTV.  In its place were endless and tasteless videos of rap, urban and hip hop noise interrupted by shows about morons from New Jersey with names like Pukey or something akin to that.  Well, guess what, the magic of music on TV has indeed returned in a television network called 'Palladia'.  In the last week, we've watched shows pairing John Mayer with Keith Urban, Darryl Hall with Todd Rundgren, and Sting with Vince Gill. These are accomplished musicians performing, at the top of their game, with each other.  As more and more people are exposed to quality (especially young people) we can anticipate an improved and more discerning listening public.  Please support Palladia and let them know how much their efforts are appreciated.  Here in South Florida, it can be found on Comcast at channel 411.  Enjoy the difference.  RZ   

Whatever happened to 'Good'?

Posted on: 02/27/2013

    Some of my music friends complain there isn't much good in today's world of music.  I usually tend to agree with comments of this ilk due to the reality of what people listen to these days.  So called artists like Brittany Spears, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and the entire world of urban, hip-hop and rap dominate the air waves.  Unfortunately, it's not good music.  It's just over-produced noise delivered to an audience that has little or no ability to discern what's really good.  I was reminded of this upon watching a concert on the Palladia Music Channel featuring Keith Urban and his band and the extraordinary John Mayer and his band.  Mention Urban and people think "American Idol" and his role as a judge on the popular program, forgetting his talents as a singer, songwriter and guitar player.  Mention Mayer and people think of his relationship problems with women such as the aforementioned Swift.  The problem with this is that Mayer is the single most outstanding guitar player to come on the scene in a generation.  This is what the concept of 'good' is all about.  But his genius as a musician somehow gets lost and is thoroughly dwarfed by his personal life.  I have no bone to pick with Swift, whose mediocre talents are on display to her audience of 14 year old teenagers.  However, it is somewhat unsavory that she writes so much about her former relationship with Mayer and his alleged shortcomings to her financial benefit.  In today's world that somehow overshadows the brilliant musicianship of Mayer.  The live Palladia performance of Urban and Mayer is an excellent reminder that musicianship still exists, performed by brilliant players of the genre.  Catch this show if you can.  Mayer demonstrates that he can take his place with the greatest guitar players of all time.  What a show.  RZ

Lil Wayne - Lil Brain

Posted on: 02/21/2013

    The almost daily antics of the nation's rap personalities never ceases to amaze.  The latest entry into the world of the bizarre involves Mr. Lil Wayne.  The ex-con felony convicted Wayne made news the other day with his diatribe of words against the National Basketball Association's championship team, the Miami Heat.  Apparently, Wayne's sensibilities were hurt when star Heat players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade refused to acknowledge him in the midst of a game that Wayne was attending, sitting court side.  Imagine the audacity of the Heat gamers for paying attention to their job instead of paying homage to the former inmate.  To express his displeasure, Wayne unloaded numerous F-bombs over the Heaters from the stage at a birthday celebration for a fellow rapper that took place in Houston after the NBA's All-Star Weekend.  Wayne also claims he was kicked out of a Heat home game for rooting for the opponent Los Angeles Lakers.  This claim by the dim-witted rapper is so ridiculous that it needs no response from Heat management.  However, our sympathies are with the Team should it choose in the future to bar the boorish behavior of this gentleman.  What is it about the rap community that gives rise to the perception that acting bad will somehow give them more street cred and accordingly boost record sales.  In the event this is really true, it does not bode well for the future of race relations in our fair country.  RZ

The Open Mike Experience

Posted on: 02/17/2013

    When we started our music career 11 years ago, open mikes were viewed as a place to obtain valuable experience playing before a non-judgmental audience.  It also itched our obsessive desire to play live music.  We have now come somewhat full circle, having begun recently the task of hosting an open mike in a popular Hollywood, Florida venue.  The benefits to my little group are plentiful.  We get to begin the evening's festivities by playing a 30 minute set, hopefully setting a standard for the others to reach for.  We also get to close the show after all the other performers have gotten their 15 minutes to shine, by performing another 30 minute set.  We use the occasion to rehearse new material that we might be reluctant to play at festivals, but there have been a few surprises along the way.  The open mikes of 2013 attract more than just musicians.  Poets, public speakers and comedians are eager to display their talents by joining the fray.  The talent level here in and around Ft. Lauderdale is surprisingly good.  Many of these courageous folk are competent and confident artists on their own looking simply for a stage to exhibit their talents.  Many are unique in both their originality and creativity.  You just have to tip your hat to these fine artists.  May they flourish and multiply.  Suggest you check out an open mike near you.  You just might be a bit surprised.  RZ

Grammy Whammy

Posted on: 02/11/2013

   Get serious.  The 'Lumineers' are tone deaf and pathetic, but Jack White is a star of the highest order.  The rest of the show was simply not worth commenting on so sue me.  THIS JUST IN:  OK, the truth is we turned off the telly to go jam.  Apparently, we missed a special moment when the wonderful Mavis Staples sang "The Weight" during a tribute to the great Levon Helm.  RZ

Random Zweig Bits

Posted on: 02/10/2013

    It's been a rough few weeks for Beyonce Knowles.  Even PETA is now on her case for wearing assorted animal skins during her Super Bowl appearance.  Those who tout her alleged vocal abilities should compare her performances in the movie "Cadillac Records" with the lady she portrayed, Ms. Etta James.  Etta was the real thing, not a cheap imitation.-----Cee Lo Green and Little Wayne are being sued for contractural matters concerning honesty and integrity.  Imagine questioning these qualities from artists of the rap community.-----Also, consider the strange case of Rick Ross.  The former Miami Corrections Officer whose real name is William L. Roberts celebrated his birthday recently by perhaps being shot at 18 times in Ft. Lauderdale.  Internet rumors abound that Roberts staged the drive-by shooting as a means to garner publicity.  What a swell role model this gentleman is.  -----Speaking of role models, one Kim Kardashian who achieved fame for her fellatio prowess from a well-publicized sex movie, filed an emergency petition for divorce.  Kardashian was knocked up by rapper Kanye West.  One problem, she's still legally married to baller Kris Humphries of the Brooklyn Nets.  One can only imagine what it must be like to be the parent of a 15 year-old daughter and having to explain this to the kid.  The fast approaching 200 pound pregnant Kardashian gives new meaning to the word tramp.-----Poor Lady Gag, her name is nowhere to be found on Billboard's weekly list of the top 40 albums.  Will her impending documentary highlight her decline in the hearts and minds of the 9 year olds who idolize her?-----Back to Beyonce.  Not to be outdone, she's apparently got her own documentary, which HBO will air.  Can't wait for that one.-----Let's end on something positive.  In 'Rolling Stone Magazine's' list of Albums Of The Year for 2012 we find the following senior citizen names:  The Boss at number 1, Bob Dylan at number 4,  Neil Young at number 10, Leonard Cohen at number 13, Dr. John at number 15, Bonnie Raitt at number 22, and Donald Fagen at number 25.  Recapping, that's 7 out of the top 25.  Who says rock 'n roll is dead. 

Sign Of The Times

Posted on: 02/03/2013

    Give Ms. Beyonce credit for the amazing success of her career.  She scores a rare double by first performing at the President's inauguration and then just days later provides the half time entertainment (we use the word loosely) for the Super Bowl.  Of course typical in the times we live, she has the audacity to lip synch the national anthem just a few steps from the President of the United States.  Imagine the combination of arrogance and ignorance one must possess to do this.  Perhaps, it can be attributed to an unprecedented lack of confidence in her own ability.  Whitney Houston would have needed no such crutch.  Moments ago, The Beyonce diva did her version of a half-time show surrounded by no less than 12 gorgeous in shape female dancers designed to distract attention from the hippy, linebacker appearing performer.  Whether she lip-synched this performance remains a mystery at this time, but I am suspicious, especially of the female scantily clad horn section cavorting around the stage without missing a beat.  Sorry, we're not buying.  RZ

Rappers vs. Violent Street Gangs

Posted on: 01/17/2013

    We have taken American rappers to task here at the Ric Zweig Blog, many times in the past for their callous, insensitive lifestyle.  So it was somewhat refreshing to learn of the good fight being waged in South America's Colombia by rappers against violent street gangs who seek to strike fear in the population.  The gangs have targeted the rappers because they have the audacity to tell the truth about gang violence in Medellin and other urban areas throughout the country.  The rappers have presented a socially conscious anti-violence message in an effort to draw young people away from criminal lifestyles.  Their lyrical artistry has put many members of the hip-hop community at odds with the street gangs.  Many of the rappers have paid with their lives for having the courage to speak out.  But truth in the hands of a group of artists can be a very powerful weapon against violence and oppression.  Colombia's national Defense Minister has pledged to send 1,000 more police to Medellin in an effort to stem the violence and protect the rappers.  We can only pray the rappers will be safe and secure to continue to speak their message of truth.  It is mindful of so many musicians, here in the United States, during the sixties who used their music to spread a message of peace.  These courageous Colombian rappers deserve our support and applause.  They truly understand what the responsibility of an artist is in societies throughout the world.  Will the African-American rappers of our country ever adopt a similar sense of altruism?  We are not holding our breath.  RZ

One Final Yearly Absurdity

Posted on: 12/31/2012

    Coming under the heading of you can't be serious is the news that the Princess of Pretentiousness, namely Lady Gaga, has boldly announced to her millions of 9 year old fans, that she will be releasing a documentary of her life in 2013.  After the Mayan apocalypse failed to materialize, this should be the final step in angering the Gods who control mankind's destiny.  At first, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog thought this was one colossal joke, a la April Fools or some other similar tomfoolery, but alas this is actually true.  In the past 100 years or so, film documentaries were reserved for such noteworthy historical events as the Civil War, or the Emancipation Proclamation.  Docs about personalities were appropriate for such persons as Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln.  There are no computers or machines in existence available to calculate the amount of personal bravado necessary for an American pop star of limited talent to create her own documentary.  But Gaga understands her audience full well in her inexhaustible quest to make more and more money.  She realizes that no adult, or young adult for that matter, will fork over money for this venture, but the 9 year old audience who adores her, will pester their parents to no end, to satisfy their relentless lust for the morally bankrupt performer.  Any parent who has had the experience of watching their 9 year old daughter cavort and dance in a pre-pubescent salute to a Gaga number in front of the television set knows full well of the evil essence and effect on children attributable to this woman.  Let's pray that 2013 will soon bring an end to the career of this limited-talent imposter.  Happy New Year  RZ

Crime Does Not Always Pay

Posted on: 12/20/2012

    Something happened today that sent sheer panic through the Urban, Rap and Hip-Hop community of performers.  We are talking about a plea of guilty entered in a Newark, New Jersey federal courtroom by one Mr. Joseph Cartagena, more commonly known as "Fat Joe".  The rapper admitted, before a federal judge, to evading the payment of federal taxes to the tune of income exceeding 3 million dollars over a 2 year period.  Mr. Fat, the purveyor of unquestioned bad taste, will be looking at 2 years in a federal prison at his sentencing early next year.  While one can anticipate that this unfortunate development gives the performer more street cred in the Black community, the reaction among his Rap colleagues amounts to sheer panic.  Few if any of these gentlemen have paid much attention to such unsightly details as paying their taxes.  Rumor has it there is a rush to the studio to record new rants about how this all a white man conspiracy to target these unfairly treated African-Americans.  Another unconfirmed rumor has it that Mr. Kanye West is so freaked out by this development that he, West, has taken to wearing Kim's leather skirts to his shows.  (Oh wait, that was last week at Madison Square Garden.)  Karma's a bitch, ain't it guys.  RZ

The Proud & The Disgraced

Posted on: 12/13/2012

    We were never more proud to be a Rock musician and a Rock music fan than last night at the conclusion of the charity concert held at New York City's Madison Square Garden to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Some of Rock's greatest stars were on hand, playing for free, to raise money for the Robin Hood Foundation.  The luminaries (in no particular order) included Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), G.E. Smith, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen & The entire E Street Band including Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, and the son of Clarence Clemons blowing on sax.  The Who (my favorite act of the night who put on a truly rousing performance), Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl (Nirvana) and Paul McCartney.  Notably absent as performers were the rap, urban and inner city contingent with the exception of Kanye West (more about him later).  Where was Nicki Minaj?  Or Rick Ross, or 50 Cent, or Public Enemy, or Wu-Tang Clan, or Jay Z., or Beyonce, or LL Cool J, or Ice Cube, or Salt-N-Pepa, or Dr. Dre, or Lil Wayne, or Rihanna, or Snoop Dog?  Well, you get the not so pretty picture.  My Black brothers and sisters are always saying Whites are reluctant to have a conversation about race.  Okay, let's talk...where the fuck were you last night?  Millions and millions of your fans from the tri-state area needed your help last night and you were collectively nowhere to be seen.  Could you as a genre of noise be anymore cheap if you tried.  What a disgrace and insult to all those affected by the storm.  At least Kanye West showed up to represent the rappers.  Perhaps his performance was a significant clue why the others chose not to.  Performing live presents a steep challenge to people who are talent challenged.  West proceeded to meander continuously all over the stage in an endless monotonous display of poor taste searching for the exit to end his unprecedented embarrassment.  But at least he had the courage to show up and go on in marked contrast to all his colleagues who depend on McDonald's like techniques to disguise the fact of their lack of talent.  Why then did all the old Rockers show?  The answer lies in the fact that Rock music was born with a social conscience instilled within.  They simply care about the plight of others.  That's why they were there to offer their help.  It would be unfair to indict ALL of the rappers, but the inescapable fact is the genre of noise is a never ending dialogue about how tough they are, how much money and bling they possess, and their endless sexual exploits.  Not a hint of concern for the welfare of others.  And that my friends, is truly shameful and a disgrace.  RZ

Embarrassment & More Embarrassment

Posted on: 12/11/2012

    With the possible exception of the Unites States Congress, no organization in our fair land manages to embarrass itself with more regularity than the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.  Today that organization's ass clowns announced the latest inductees to their exalted membership.  Leading the list was the group of thugs more commonly known as 'Public Enemy' none of whose members play any semblance of a musical instrument.  Maybe the powers that be at the HOF were under the impression that lengthy rap sheets are a criteria for admission.  Of almost equal and laughable absurdity was the election of the queen of disco, namely Donna Summer.  Every rock musician we have ever known hates or hated disco almost as much as rap, urban, or the rest of that inner city noise, but at least disco can be categorized as music.  Talented producer Quincy Jones and Disney artist Randy Newman also gained entry.  Of course, it almost goes without saying that neither of these fine gentlemen ever made a Rock record.  Saving the day from unadulterated absurdity was the deserved selections of Canadian supergroup 'Rush' and Blues guitarist and singer extraordinaire, Albert King.  King truly deserves recognition for his many decades of genius.  Unfortunately, he died many years ago.  Passed over once again were 'King Crimson', 'Yes', 'Deep Purple', 'Stevie Ray', 'Love', 'Electric Light Orchestra', 'Roy Buchanan' and many others who actually had the temerity to play real rock 'n roll.  RZ

Arrogance & Ignorance

Posted on: 11/25/2012

    Readers of this Blog know we've never been fans of the pop star Madonna.  But we do however, acknowledge her success as a performer and more importantly, her longevity.  Therefore, we were surprised to learn of the total disdain the aging star has for her many fans.  This was exhibited this very week in Miami, Florida at the American Airlines Arena.  Madonna was booked for a 2 night gig with the first show beginning this past Sunday, and then a second show on the following Monday with both shows scheduled to launch at 8 p.m.  For the Sunday show her highness took the stage at 11 p.m. having kept her loyalists waiting 3 long hours.  Of course, many were forced to leave, missing the entire show because of work responsibilities the next day.  Not to be outdone, her ass holiness took the stage even later the next night, beginning that show at an astounding 11:30 p.m.  Many patrons had paid up to $400 to be treated in this fashion by the performer who set a new low standard with her arrogance and ignorance shown towards her audience.  The words "never again" were heard in abundance as many hundreds left early.  When the exalted one was confronted later asking for an explanation for her actions, she allegedly was heard to utter under her breath, "Let them eat cake".  This of course a reference to Marie Antoinette, who said much the same in response to the French people starving prior to the French Revolution.  How exactly did that work out for Madame Antoinette?  RZ

American Music Awards

Posted on: 11/19/2012

    This year's American Music Awards were announced last night.  So I guess this means the best this country has to offer is Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.  Unless this a nightmare that I hopefully will soon wake from, the apocalypse is officially now upon us.  Musicians everywhere should bow their heads and pray for forgiveness.  Rock 'n Roll has just been pronounced dead.  In other news, Chuck Berry turned a spry 86 years of age.  RZ

Evolution Of An Artist

Posted on: 11/11/2012

    It's now been 10 years since we've had the audacity to refer to ourselves as a musician.  It is only recently that we began to understand the concept of the evolution of an artist.  Looking back at the passage of a decade, we now have the perspective to see the various stages that a musician passes through.  For the purpose of this Blog, we've identified 4 stages that must be traversed before someone becomes a true musician, and accordingly worthy of the term 'artist'.  Stage 1 involves using your instrument (whatever it may be) for the purpose of being able to simply entertain yourself.  This is a wonderful stage because it involves a pure form of discovery.  Just you and your instrument, the two of you having a grand old time.  Eventually, we might move on to stage 2 which involves having the confidence to seek out another person for the purpose of playing together in a venue like each others' living room.  This is actually a bold step.  By putting yourself out there, there is an element of exposure.  You leave your self-contained comfortable bubble and risk ridicule, criticism and even condemnation.  People can be quite cruel and our intestinal fortitude will be tested the first time someone else says, "you're not good".  The survivors shrug this off and continue to play because playing is fun.  For us, we skipped over stage 3 and went directly to stage 4 which is playing before a live audience in a venue outside the comfort of your living room.  This was a disaster.  We were simply not ready to make the necessary adjustments in an impromptu setting to succeed.  Of course, this was a blow to our confidence, so we retreated home and pondered what to do next.  Then came the lure of the studio.  We always had an audio vision of what we wanted our sound to be, and the studio environment provided that outlet.  Having a qualified and talented producer to work with is a must.  The two of you must be able to communicate musically as well as verbally, and then through trial and error, you should begin to realize your sound.  Studio etiquette must be learned and observed, and having done so, we've managed to make 5 albums of original music with a small degree of success.  But stage 4 still remained on the radar, ie, the ability to perform live and captivate at least a small part of the audience.  We've never needed the adulation of blowing an entire audience away (although that would be nice), just  the experience of reaching some of the audience who show their appreciation.  A complete stranger coming up after a set and expressing appreciation for what they heard is an amazing high we never get tired of.  Finally after 10 years, we've evolved sufficiently to stage 4 status.  It wasn't easy and there's still a ways to go, but at least we are on the road to a degree of musical fulfillment that was worth the blood, sweat and tears.  Stage 4 remains an ongoing challenge for all musicians.  There is always a new audience to play for.  But it is simply an indescribable gas when it all comes together.  RZ


Posted on: 11/04/2012

    We here at the Ric Zweig Blog normally pay no attention to political endorsements for the simple reason that the entity making the endorsement usually has an ax to grind which colors their choice.  Here in South Florida, what was once a totally independent newspaper, namely the Miami Herald, now occasionally factors in how their endorsement affects their bottom line, ie. advertising revenue, in making their political choices.  True independent voices in the editorial department soon find themselves looking for work elsewhere.  But when a truly independent voice such as 'Rolling Stone Magazine' makes a recommendation, it deserves a careful look.  Their choice of President Obama for this Tuesday's vote deserves our strongest consideration.  If anything a Romney Department of Justice headed by an individual friendly to the Koch brothers' interests might be antagonistic to a publication which constantly leads the charge in support of the global warming concept.  'Rolling Stone'  is the only widely read publication in the USA which continuously exposes political corruption and wrongdoing with no concern for the consequences, other than printing the truth.  If they endorse Obama, that is good enough for us and should be good enough for you as well.  RZ

The Next President - Hip or Square?

Posted on: 10/28/2012

    Does it make a difference whether the President of the United States is hip or square?  I believe it does.  I want a President who is aware of quality artistic culture, not just now but historically, because it more than suggests that the person is multi-dimensionsal.  An individual who is aware of everything there is to be aware of is better equipped to make decisions that impact so many others.  It's the awareness factor that I'm looking for in a leader.  Societal ignorance goes hand in hand with making uninformed decisions.  It also makes the ignorant person more likely to be controlled by others as to what to say and think.  That's why Sarah Palin was so unqualified to be a leader on the national stage.  In a word she was culturally stupid and will always remain so.  Barack Obama was the first President to officially recognize the lifetime achievements of Bob Dylan and invited him to the White House to accept his award.  Dylan could have refused the honor, but chose to go, accepted the award and performed.  This says much to us about Dylan as well as about Obama.  Bruce Springsteen, the closest thing we have to a Bob Dylan these days, has committed to a vigorous campaign schedule on behalf of the President.  This should be and is significant because the quality and integrity of the Boss' music makes it so.  Obama to his credit recognizes this.  Mr. Romney, on the other hand, has Kid Rock supporting him.  Mr. Rock's claim to fame is being intimate with Pamela Anderson, the blond, false boobs celebrity who has been passed around by a number of rockers including Tommy Lee.  That simply is the best Romney can do, and frankly it borders on the pathetic.  This is not a man any of us should want leading our country.  Go to the polls and vote, and keep in office somebody who understands the importance of artistic rock music in our culture.  RZ

2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Posted on: 10/21/2012

    In previous blogs we have taken the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to task for some of its past decisions regarding admission.  No need to rehash that here.  Instead let's discuss the most recent crop of nominees.  The strongest nominee-candidates for next years' class are bluesmaster Albert King and Canadian supergroup 'Rush'.  These are no-brainers in our view and should easily gain admission by the criteria of being worthy.  Other strong candidates are singer/songwriter Randy Newman and British band 'Deep Purple'.  A lesser nominee, but still worthy of selection would be 'The Paul Butterfield Blues Band'.  Frankly, that group never blew me away, but is noteworthy for producing guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop.  'Heart' also received a nomination, but in my view should be passed over.  Other more lackluster nominees include 'Kraftwerk' and 'Chic'.  But once again the HOF loses its dwindling credibility with its preposterous nominations of 'Public Enemy'  and 'N.W.A'.  These groups never ever played rock and roll, so how can these nominations be remotely justified?   (In Las Vegas, the ubiquitous Flavor Flav celebrated his nomination by getting arrested for the umpteenth time.)  The answer is that once again the HOF sells out its integrity in order to appeal to current musical standards under the guise of Urban and Rap, which celebrate bad taste and highly offensive lyrics as opposed to actual music.  Look for both of these entities to gain admission simply because it bolsters the potential ratings to be garnered for the MTV show.  Of course, it goes without saying that MTV abandoned any notion of musical integrity many years ago in favor of crass commercialism.   Once again, the HOF ignored past Rock guitar luminaries Stevie Ray Vaughn and Roy Buchanan.  Oh well, there's always next year, but we won't hold our breath.  RZ

Tons of Dancers

Posted on: 10/11/2012

    Have you ever wondered why performers of the ilk of Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj always have tons of dancers on stage shaking their booties alongside the so-called star?  By the same token, other performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Dylan, Tom Petty etc. NEVER do their shows with a bunch of dancing buffoons, or for that matter, any dancers at all.  The answer is simple.  The artists, devoid of dancers, rely on the merits of their music to entertain the audience.  They don't use dancers because there is no need to cover up the fact that entertainers who do use dancers put on a show that is not really music at all, but rather glossy, phony, grandiose production numbers designed to pull the wool over their predominantly young pre-pubescent audience.  Unfortunately, it's much easier to fool a bunch of kids to fork over their parents money as opposed to a discerning group of knowledgeable true music fans.  The true master of this illusion is, of course, Lady Gaga.  Devoid of any discernible  talent, she blinds her fans with production numbers designed to dazzle by their sheer size and magnitude.  She shrewdly uses the same psychology that Las Vegas casinos employ to empty their customers' wallets.  And frankly, she does it well.  Gaga's forthcoming 2013 album entitled "Artpop" is scheduled to arrive as a smart-phone and tablet app-with videos, bonus tracks and games.  The marketing genius is at work here.  Gaga disguises her obvious lack of listenable music by adding a bunch of cheap crap designed to fool a young consumer.  Unfortunately for her, the con was exposed in its entirety this very week during Gaga's concert in Barcelona, Spain.  A YouTube video shows Gaga turning her back to the audience to puke three separate times.  Imagine spending a small fortune to take your kid to her show, getting front row seats, only to have the 'star' upchuck on your confused youngster.  This is what it has come to.  No decent music to listen to, but the 'star' vomits on you, literally and figuratively.  Bottom line, whenever you see a performer with tons of dancers, you are being conned.  It's about taking your money and putting it into their pocket.  When Bruce Springsteen puts on a show, you will get your money's worth and the only dancers in sight will be members of the audience.  Hey kids, see how easy it is to learn to be a discerning consumer.  RZ

The Armenian Heffer

Posted on: 09/23/2012

    The Armenian heffer, better known as Kim Kardashian, has reached a new high, or perhaps better to characterize it as a new low, in her recent request that she be granted a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.  The Walk immortalizes such cinematic luminaries as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and ALL the great stars of American cinema over the last 100 years.  In fairness, Ms. Kardashian does indeed have noteworthy movie experience.  Those who follow her unique career, and I use that word loosely, will recall she rose to fame by performing a rather animated act of fellatio (for those of you unfamiliar with that term - she sucked a large cock) in her bootleg sex tape approximately some 10 years ago.  While I tend to applaud a certain amount of credit being given to those who practice such a craft, it seems to border on the surreal that the aforementioned cocksucker would believe it warrants inclusion and admission to the Walk of Fame.  Ms. Kardashian, also known for her over-sized thighs, actually believes she belongs in the company of the aforementioned stars.  This is a level of unadulterated arrogance never before reached by any public personality in the annals (or maybe I should say the anals) of human existence.  What is it about our culture that prompts such bold actions.  Frankly, I have no idea.  The dumbing of America is too easy an answer.  There is something rather complex at work here.  But I will offer this.  If and when the revolution comes, the Kardashian clan will be quickly offered up in a funeral pyre that will light up the heavens.  Oh, I forgot to mention,  the Hollywood Walk of Fame denied the application without comment.  For once, good sense and decency prevailed.  RZ

Two Has Beens

Posted on: 09/05/2012

    How thoroughly delightful to read 'Rolling Stone Magazine' latest edition and carefully examine their weekly Top 40 Albums by actual sales.  Neither washed up and pathetically desperate Madonna or her cheap, but surprisingly successful imitator Lady Gaga appear on the list.  Reportedly and allegedly, Gag as she is known to her business intimates due to her horrific body odor problem, threw a first class fit and started firing anyone close and giving rambling and disjointed orders that made no logical sense to those who had the misfortune to receive them.  Madonna can't be pleased either, but can take some solace from the fact that she has somewhat of a life outside of her long faded career.  Gaga who has a legendary mean streak, has allegedly vowed to claw her way back to the top.  Frankly, we would not bet against her.  Despite an abhorent lack of singing range, she has mastered the manipulation of pre-pubescent teenagers to buy her quickly forgotten excuse for music, so she may have yet another comeback left in her body to foist on the public.  But it's a good day, a sign perhaps that those that buy music are becoming a bit more selective and that's absolutely cause to cheer.  RZ

Well Done, American Idol

Posted on: 07/24/2012

      Kudos to the producers of 'American Idol' for its handing of the Jennifer Lopez/Mariah Carey situation.  Carey is in and thankfully Lopez is kaput, with a salary savings of 3 million dollars.  The upgrade in talent is huge since Carey can really sing whereas Lopez' humongous sized butt was her only redeeming feature.  Lopez' day in the sun is rapidly fading whereas Carey's talent should carry her for many years to come.  We might actually be forced to watch the show next season.  RZ

Please Leave Already

Posted on: 07/16/2012

   Once again we are amazed at the lack of originality exhibited by aging so-called superstar Jennifer Lopez.  What she lacks in creativity is easily surpassed by her complete lack of honesty and candor.  We express this opinion in response to Ms. Lopez' appearance yesterday on the Ryan Seabiscuit radio show emanating from Los Angeles.  She told a pretending not to know the real truth Seabiscuit that she, Lopez, would be leaving 'American Idol' next season, a la S. Tyler, to return to her true love, ie. performing.  Of course the real truth, you heard it here first folks, is that Lopez demanded a 2 million dollar raise from her 15 mil annual salary to 17 mil, which the honchos at AI refused to give the soon to be has been 'entertainer' and we use that word advisedly.  Lopez didn't want the tens of her adoring pre-pubescent fans to know the truth that AI was simply sick of the aging diva's incessant demands.  So Lopez simply put a spin on her rather blunt rejection with the assistance of the pimp-like Seabiscuit, who fawns over anyone in Hollywood who might be perceived as a bigger star than he is.  The good news is that America will be spared seeing and listening to the intelligence and talent challenged Lopez on a weekly basis.  Who says there is no good news.  RZ


Posted on: 04/19/2012

    My favorite rock drummer of them all has passed away in a New York City hospital at age 71.  Much more than just a drummer, Levon Helm was a gifted singer, writer and arranger.  He was the unquestioned musical leader of his group, "The Band".  No American group of the last 50 years had more combined vocal talent than this quintet.  Four members sang lead and were capable of dazzling vocal harmonies.  Back in the day, my friends and I would argue who had the most haunting voice.  Was it keyboardist Richard Manual, bassist Rick Danko, or Levon.  Music fans will be playing and listening to  Levon's lead vocal in 'The Weight' and 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' for as long as there is music.  Levon Helm may be gone, but his magical voice will be loud and clear forever.  RZ

The Big No

Posted on: 04/11/2012

    This coming Saturday, April 14th, the band 'Guns N' Roses' is scheduled to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  But former lead singer Axl Rose has not only refused to attend the event, he has sent word that he declines his admission to the HOF.  How very quaint.  Lead guitarist Slash, upon learning of Rose's position was quoted as saying, "Axl hates my guts."  What's amazing to me is how a band that recorded only one decent tune, namely 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and is dreadful in live performances can gain admission to the Hall.  Rose obviously shares my sentiments, knows the band sucked big time and at least demonstrates a modicum of integrity by his refusal.  Meanwhile the greatest Los Angeles Rock band of all time, Arthur Lee's 'Love' continues to wait for its nod, as does Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Given the recent quality of HOF selections, the wait may be a long one.

The Business of Being in a Rock band

Posted on: 02/26/2012

    It doesn't seem to be getting any easier trying to make a few bucks playing in a Rock band these days.  The economy here in South Florida is unprecedentedly weak and seems to be affecting almost everyone I know.  A substantial number of musicians have no day job and are missing meals on a regular basis.  The bars here which traditionally have supported live rowdy rock music are all suffering from lack of customers and can't make enough at the cash register to adequately pay the bands.  Our gig last night was a perfect example.  In the course of the evening, the venue had 25 to 30 customers who spent a grand total of about $125.  Obviously, our expected take at the end of our performance was drastically cut.  The musicians were not pleased to say the least, but we really can't blame the club owner since he also has to make a living.  There are no easy answers here.  Our band will not return to this venue even though we were in rotation and had a few well attended gigs there.  It raises the following question - whose responsibility is it to muster a crowd to support local rock music?  One thing I've noticed, the musicians in our band who complain the loudest are the ones who never bring anyone to the gig.  In a 5 piece band such as ours, if everyone were to bring at least 3 people, well you do the math.  But the bar owners have the ultimate responsibility in my view.  They need to provide a decent stage.  Advertise and promoting the gig the week before, inside and outside the establishment would be a welcome change.  Last night's gig received not one iota of promotional support from the bar in advance of the gig.  This is just lazy and bad business practice.  Ultimately, as musicians, our task is to provide 4 hours of listenable entertainment.  The owner's responsibility is to provide an audience by offering drink specials and other incentives to drum up business.  As a band going forward, we will endeavor to play better venues with built in audiences, because how many times can we expect our friends to turn up at our gigs.  Bottom line, you just got to love playing the music, because all that revolves around that concept is just a colossal headache.  RZ

A Beautiful Day in South Florida, but Sad nonetheless

Posted on: 01/20/2012

    Two of the greatest legends in music passed today on the same day.  Etta James and Johnny Otis.  If you are not familiar with their contributions, do yourself a favor and get familiar.  Rest in Peace Ms. James and Mr. Otis.  And while you're at it, please at last do that hand jive.

Playing In a Rock 'n Roll Band

Posted on: 12/11/2011

    There is no question that it's a whole lot of fun playing in a rock band.  Making decent music with a group of talented musicians is one of my favorite things in the whole world.  There is a wonderful fraternity of people who play in bands here in South Florida that support each other and help make the experience of being in a rock band a terrific and fulfilling one.  There are specific benefits such as having an increased social network, availability of women, making a few bucks and simply having more fun than the average bear.  But all is never perfect.  What appears to be an exciting and on the edge lifestyle has a darker side.  Here are some of the things which bum out the music trip.  Firstly, it seems I can never play a gig without losing some equipment.  Cords are the most common item to be missing when you get home.  I always mark all my stuff, but even that doesn't seem to help much.  It does prevent me from accidently taking other people's stuff.  Tuners are quick to disappear.  Never ever leave a tuner on the bandstand.  It will be gone.  After use, my tuner goes in my pocket, assuming I can remember to pocket same.  The largest item I've ever lost at a gig was a speaker stand.  That was intentional theft without question.  Another common occurrence are wanna be musicians who are not in bands who pester us to get up and join the band.  This is a touchy issue, because if you say no, they stop coming to your gigs.  Usually, we let them come up and hope they are not too bad and have the good sense to sit down after the inevitable disaster.  Getting them off the stage usually requires a gentle push.  Guys who are in established bands are a joy to have come up and join us, but even that can be a problem if one of your bandmates has to sit out.  The best policy seems to be to impose a 2 song limit on any other musician regardless of how good they might be.  Drunks are a hazard and are potentially a disaster waiting to happen.  Again, this is a touchy problem, because these are often the same people who help ring the cash register and get you invited back.  There is no easy way to deal with the drunk assholes other than to try your best to avoid trouble at all costs.  Playing larger venues and concert settings solves some of these issues, but you are more likely to encounter anonymous thieves at even these gigs.  As I said, nothing is ever perfect, but it still beats a lot of other ways to make a dollar.  In any event, we intend to keep a rockin' in the free world.  RZ

Top Ten Guitar Players

Posted on: 11/23/2011

    'Rolling Stone Magazine' just issued its list of the greatest 100 guitar players of all time.  This new list updates a category they last addressed in 2003.  The new list has Jimi again at number 1, followed by Clapton, Page, Richards, Beck, B.B. King, Berry, Van Halen, Duane Allman and Townsend.  We have no problem with Hendrix in the top spot.  We also feel there is room in the top 10 for Jimmy Page and Chuck Berry, and don't have a major beef with Jeff Beck or Duane Allman.   But really, how can any list of the greatest include Clapton, Van Halen, Keith Richards, and Pete Townsend.  B.B.'s talents were easily eclipsed by both Albert King and Freddie King.  Probably the inclusion of the 85 year old Mr. King was more of a tribute to his qualities as a human being and all-around great guy than his skill on the fretboard.  Van Halen's inclusion is probably part of some inside joke the rest of us are not privy to.  Clapton never played an original lick in his life and would be the first to admit it.  Townsend deserves to be in the top 100, but not the top 10, especially when the following were left out.  Any list of the greatest has to include Stevie Ray Vaughan (who puts Clapton to shame).  Prince, Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison and David Gilmour easily surpass Townsend and Richards in terms of both dexterity and imagination.  Not to include Roy Buchanan simply shows an ignorance of rock guitar history.  Neil Young's lead talents have always been underestimated.  The same could be said for Robbie Robertson.  An argument could also be made for Leslie West, but what renders the 'Rolling Stone' list laughable is the exclusion of Mark Knopfler, who in my judgment is the greatest white guitar player of all time.   RZ

Ten Best Bass Players Ever

Posted on: 10/16/2011

    Last week's Blog regarding the 10 best drummers of all time prompted the biggest response ever to our humble Blog.  So let's see what happens with our list of the 10 best bass players ever.  Coming in at number 10 is a personal favorite, Chris Hillman from 'The Byrds'.  At number 9, we choose 'Rush' member Geddy Lee.  Our choice for number 8 is Roger Waters from 'Pink Floyd' who we believe to be vastly underrated by many.  Number 7 is Jack Casady from 'Jefferson Airplane'.  Supergroup 'Cream' was certainly inspired by its lead singer and bass player, Jack Bruce.  He is number 6.  For number 5, we choose another hard rocker, John Paul Jones of 'Led Zeppelin' fame.  At number 4, we choose another most versatile musician, Sting from 'The Police'.  Our choice for number 3 is Paul McCartney who pretty much played lead guitar on his Hofner bass.  For number 2, we select the legendary John Entwistle from 'The Who'.  And for number 1, rumble rumble please, our choice is the true genius of the instrument, Stanley Clarke.  Less controversial might be our choice for the worst bass player ever in a major rock band, namely Sid Vicious from 'The Sex Pistols', whose inability to keep even a simple beat resulted in his instrument being unplugged by fellow band members.   RZ

Ten Best Drummers Ever

Posted on: 10/09/2011

    Who are the 10 most creative, inventive and simply the best drummers of all time?  If we wanted to open up the question to include the world of jazz, we would definitely include Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  But the following list is for rockers only.  Coming in at number 10 is a personal favorite, Levon Helm of 'Band" fame who also was a wonderful singer.  Our number 9 choice is Aynsley Dunbar, whose resume includes stints with Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Frank Zappa.  At number 8, we select Carl Palmer of 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer'.  At number 7, another British player, namely Nick Mason of 'Pink Floyd'.  For number 6, we choose Max Weinberg, who has been the boss' drummer right from the very beginning.  Popular favorite Keith Moon of 'Who' fame is our choice for the 5th. best.  Coming in at number 4 is Mitch Mitchell, somewhat underrated and decidedly overshadowed by the great Jimi.  The Brits seem to be dominating our list.  Further proof of this are our choices for numbers 3 and 2.  Ginger Baker of 'Cream' now retired and living in South Africa and the legendary late great John Bonham of 'Led Zeppelin'.  Our number 1 choice, drum roll please, is the driving force behind 'Rush' namely Neil Peart who also writes most of the bands lyrics.  That's our list.  Ok, who did we leave out?   RZ  

Shame on the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

Posted on: 10/02/2011

    We will admit to not really keeping up with who's in and who's not when it comes to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.  HOF admission is probably more geared to baseball or football as opposed to music which is generally subjective by its very nature.  But we were shocked to realize that one of the best as well as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time has never even been nominated for admission.  We speak of the Canadian juggernaut "Rush".  By what objective standard could this band be excluded from membership?  They've been around forever.  They've sold a gazillion albums and their live shows never cease to amaze and always wear out the audience and their enthusiastic fans, who number in the millions.  There is something very sinister going on here, but we are left to only speculate on their exclusion.  By the way, what religion do the members of this band share?  Just wondering.  But there are many others difficult to fathom.  Also on the list of those who have not even garnered a nomination are legendary Ian Anderson and his band, Jethro Tull.  Explain that.  Or how about Willie Nelson and Warren Zevon.  Nope, not even close to gaining entry.  Electric Light Orchestra also never nominated.  You say Todd Rungren.  Good choice, but never nominated.  Even more puzzling, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Never a nomination for SRV.  There are others equally deserving inclusion who have at least have been nominated, but not elected.  These include Ben E. King (think Drifters) and Lou Reed.  But to this observer, the most shocking denial of history is the lack of membership to the ground-breaking contributions of the amazing Johnny Ace who pretty much invented the concept of rock 'n roll singing in 1954.  Shame on you Rock HOF.  You sold out your integrity years ago.  But, in the interest of telling the rest of the story.  What does it cost to buy your way in to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Posted on: 09/26/2011

    It is certainly no secret that times are tough in the United States.  These are the most economically difficult times that any of us have ever lived through.  Blame Obama, blame Bush, blame Congress, but the real culprits are the American corporate behemoths who are heartless entities concerned only with their bottom line and who outsource jobs by the millions.  In a previous album, we sang and wrote about a homeless musician we met in a park in Panama.  ("Lost In The Chase").  This amazingly gifted gent had not even a pair of shoes to call his own.  Now comes word out of Los Angeles of the shockingly sad decline of Sly Stone, whose band 'Sly & The Family Stone' was a monster success in the 60s and 70s.  At his height, Sly lived on luxurious Bel Air Road, one of L.A.'s most prestigious addresses, in a 5400 square foot Beverly Hills mansion that had previously belonged to John Phillips of 'Mama & The Papas' fame.  Now Stone is without a home, other than a small camper, which is parked on a residential street in the rough L.A. neighborhood of Crenshaw.  Reached for a comment, Stone, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993, claims the FBI is after him.  Rampant drug use over many years is believed to be largely responsible for Sly's decline and present plight.  Cocaine claims another victim.  So you want to be a Rock & Roll star?   RZ

Random Ramblings

Posted on: 09/12/2011

    Almost 40 years after his death, they never seem to run out of new Jimi Hendrix recordings.  The latest is titled "Winterland" recorded over 3 days in October of 1968 at the famed San Francisco venue.  'Rolling Stone' calls it "the sound of the greatest electric guitarist ever in glorious flight."             Hard to believe that former country-pop megastar Glen Campbell is now 75 years of age.  The bad news is he was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and that never ends well.                             Had he avoided a fatal plane crash in 1959, Buddy Holly would have also turned 75 this year.  Blog readers know of our ever consistent devotion to the genius that was cut down at his very beginning. Evidence that many others are finally coming around in recognizing his extraordinary talent are the release of now a second 2011 album of current music stars doing covers of Holly tunes.  May it only continue.  Also, last week Holly was awarded a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, albeit 52 years after his death.                                                                                                                                    And finally, we feel compelled to note the passing of famed lyric writer Jerry Leiber who died at age 78.  As part of Rock's greatest songwriting team prior to Lennon and the other guy, Mr. Leiber along with Mike Stoller, penned blockbuster hits for such artists as Big Mama Thornton, Elvis Presley, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King and Peggy Lee just to name a few.  The landscape today looks a lot different without Jerry Leiber.  RZ

Best Song Of The 90s

Posted on: 09/04/2011

    We've been accused, on occasion, of having a preference for the music of the 60s and the 70s.  The criticism is actually valid, but our explanation is simply that there was more, in fact substantially more good stuff to listen to from that era.  But, in an effort to counter the assertion that we don't like anything from the last 20 years or so, today we present our pick for best song of the 90s, a tune that stands up with anything, regardless of its time.  The group is called 'LIVE' (rhymes with arrive), an American group that produced an album called "Secret Samadhi" in 1997.  The album is OK, but nothing really special until tune number 8, a true rock classic entitled "Turn My Head".  The vocal by Chad Taylor and the lyrics by Edward Kowalczyk are understated and truly mesmerizing.  This tune is most melodic, has a spectacular guitar solo and builds to a memorable climax.  It is one of those songs, that having heard it only once, you will be unable to get out of your head.  I invite my readers to check this masterpiece out for yourself.  Feedback is welcome and always appreciated.  RZ

This Won't Help

Posted on: 08/21/2011

    All Rock fans are aware of the amazing success of the the Tennessee foursome known as the "Kings Of Leon".  The band consisting of 4 members of the Followill family rocketed to fame on the strength of such rock anthems as "Use Somebody".  As if we didn't already know, now comes news once again that fame and success carries with it a heavy burden.  The entire United States tour is now cancelled, despite the fact of blockbuster advance ticket sales.  The official reason given is that lead singer Caleb Followill is suffering from dehydration and vocal exhaustion.  This is total bullshit.  The real reason is Caleb's spiraling out of control drug habit and abuse.  Things came to a head very recently at their last show in Dallas, Texas when Caleb, a few tunes into the show, said a few words into the mike about having to go backstage to throw up.  With that he unstrapped his guitar and stumbled off the stage leaving the other 3 guys to fend for themselves.  Another member apologized to the audience, admitting that the band has serious internal problems and shortly thereafter, without playing another tune, they also left the stage not to continue.  The audience, who had shelled out big bucks for the show, was stunned.  The next day came the announcement that the band's tour was cancelled in its entirety.  The tour organizers simply decided that Caleb needs to dry out for an extended period of time before he can continue playing, lest he fall into the Amy Winehouse category.  From a distance, being a big time rock star seems like a lofty and worthy goal.  Fame, money, women can all be an illusion and a mirage to a young superstar.  But then reality hits you with the lemon meringue pie of life in the face and things aren't so cool.  Hopefully, Caleb will get his shit together, otherwise we've seen this play out before and know where and how it ends up, and it ain't pretty.   RZ

Deja Vu Again & Again

Posted on: 08/14/2011

    Exactly 2 weeks ago we wrote a Blog entitled "Mega Star Insecurity" discussing Lady Gaga's obsessive need to copy and rip off other artists without giving appropriate credit.  Now, not surprisingly, comes word that Gaga has been slapped with a hefty lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court of Illinois, alleging that Gaga's hit tune "Judas" from her "Born This Way" album was a complete rip-off and copy of a tune written by Chicago based singer/songwriter Rebecca Francescatti in 1999.  We sincerely hope justice will be served in this federal court case and that if Ms. Francescatti can meet her burden of proof that the Court will send an appropriate message to Gaga and others of this ilk.  Of course, her pubescent fans could care less, but a United States Federal District Judge might see things differently.  Last week, we asked the question, "Is Rock 'n Roll Dying"?  Further evidence that the answer is yes arrives in the news that 2 major alternative radio stations, namely WXRP in New York and Q101 in Chicago, have decided to abandon their long held Rock formats.  This continues a 10 year trend of rock radio's decline in influence.  Hard to believe, but in New York City, there remains only 1 major rock station, namely classic-rock station Q104.3.  The times, they are a changin'.   RZ

Is Rock 'n Roll Dying?

Posted on: 08/07/2011

    Who woulda thunk it?  But the unfortunate fact is that the greatest music our country has ever produced is nearly on its death bed.  The decline of Rock mirrors the decline of the Unites States in general.  Whether this is happenstance or not, we will leave to the social scientists, but it does seem to be one hell of a coincidence.  On this week's Billboard top 40 albums, only one, namely "Rave On: Buddy Holly" could be characterized as belonging to the Rock genre.  People still come out for rock shows and rock bands, but the audiences are older, much older.  The kids go elsewhere.  Teenagers and young people simply aren't captured the way they once were to Rock 'n Roll.  Modern day Rock bands like 'Kings Of Leon' and 'The Strokes' still do well and draw huge crowds, but not like the glory years of Rock when countless numbers of Rock bands sold millions of records and drew blockbuster crowds in cavernous venues.  The Rock acts that still tour like 'The Stones', 'Neil Young', 'CS&N', 'The Eagles' and so many others continue to do well, but the performers are rapidly aging and 20 years from now, sad to say, will become distant memories.  Fans that still support these great rockers are also aging and in the years to come, will choose to stay home.  The 2 biggest Rock bands remaining in the world today are 'Bruce Springsteen' and 'U2'.  The Boss was hit heard by the recent death of Clarence Clemons.  His future tour plans are uncertain at best.  That leaves the immediate future of Rock to Bono and Edge.  A far cry from the days when Rock was king and hundreds and hundreds of Rock bands toured the country to enthusiastic young crowds.  There are many theories about this.  Some blame MTV.  Others fault the rap, urban and hip hop culture that is popular today among the young.  One thing is certain.  It's part of the overall dumbing down of America.  Welcome to now.  Rock 'n Roll was great and will be remembered as such.  It made life fun and changed the country and the world in the process.  For us the words of Neil Young will always echo in our head, "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World'.  We intend to do just that.   RZ

Mega Star Insecurity

Posted on: 07/31/2011

    We are not and never will be fans of Ms. Lady Gaga.  She is, without question, cheap, exploitative, wholly unoriginal and pretentious on a level unprecedented in American pop culture.  However, it must be acknowledged that she can sing and play piano at a high level of competence.  Those attributes should be enough to further propel her career at a dizzying pace.  But such is not the case, because this artist is so demonstrably insecure that she constantly feels the need to copy, borrow or steal ideas created by other artists who came before her without ceding credit to those individuals.  The most recent example of this dysfunctional behavior comes courtesy of Time Magazine, whose issue this week detailed Gaga's absolute theft of a character invented by Bette Midler in 1980.  Midler's creation consisted of a singing mermaid in a wheelchair.  Anyone who has seen Midler live can attest to the singing character who goes by the name of Delores DeLago.  Not to be outdone, Gaga recently unveiled her own wheelchair-bound mermaid with the alter ego of Yuyi.  Of course, Gaga did not note, mention or give credit to Midler for inventing the character.  She simply falsely counted on the presumption that her pubescent hordes of fans would be so uninformed to notice the blatant rip-off. Midler's response, as reported by Time was, "I've been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980.  You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits, the mermaid's mine."  How pathetic is this behavior by the Gaga superstar.  The question thusly is simply this.  Gaga, underneath the pounds of makeup which hides who you really are, have you any shame at all?  Don't bother with an answer, we already know.  You don't.   RZ

Some Never Learn

Posted on: 07/24/2011

    We had intended to devote this week's Blog to the story of one more rapper on his way to Federal prison, namely Mr. Ja Rule, who was the beneficiary of a 28 month vacation courtesy of the Unites States Department of Justice for failing to file income tax returns over several years.  But Ja will have to wait.  I'm sure he won't mind since he's got a bit of time on his hands.  Instead we write with regard to the timely (the word is used advisedly) passing of Ms. Winehouse who we last wrote about in our June 26th Blog.  (See Below)  Of course, the temptation might be to be sympathetic to the concept of the loss of a great talent well before her appointed time.  Sorry, no can do.  As far as talent is concerned, we see countless musicians of superior ability to Winehouse at any of the jam nights we occasionally frequent here in Broward County, Florida.  These gifted locals will probably never have the success bestowed on them and the opportunities that comes with fame as did Winehouse.  They won't kill themselves either.  What they will do, is continue to play their music and share their gifts with others, regardless of success or the lack of it.  That's what good musicians do.  They play music.  The pathetic Winehouse squandered her meager talent, wasted her tremendous opportunity and in the end, the lemon meringue pie of life hit her square in the face.  We have sympathy for her mother and father who had to endure her for 27 years.  The lesson to be learned is simple.  Become an addict, be ready to die, because you will and soon.  And that's the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.  Rest in peace scumbag.  RZ      

What Is Rock 'n Roll?

Posted on: 07/17/2011

    Today our erstwhile blogger tackles the burning question of the day.  What exactly is Rock 'n Roll?  Anticipating this week's topic, I posed the question to the members of our band at Friday's gig.  Michelle said, "attitude and freedom".  Sebastion, the academic one, chimed in with, "a melting pot of country, blues and gospel music."  This is actually a pretty good definition.  Our guitarist Bill Mota, started mentioning early rock artists like Chuck Berry.  I threw in Buddy Holly (who spawned the Beatles).  But then Bill mentioned Ike Turner as one of the forerunners of the early genre.  This was news to me.  I had never thought of Ike as much of an innovator except for collecting a fine group of young women to go on the road with him and the group.  Sure enough, Bill was right on the money.  A little investigation revealed that possibly the first rock 'n roll tune ever recorded was in fact by Ike Turner, entitled "Rocket 88" produced by the legendary Sam Phillips for Sun Records in March of 1951.  Turner used the alias "Jackie Brenston".  Sebastion hearing the other names said, "without Elvis, there is no rock 'n roll".  I don't agree, preferring to give more credit to producer Phillips and master guitar player Scotty Moore who played on all the early Presley recordings.  But Elvis brought the music out of the shadows and into the sunlight making it the most popular music of that time.  Elvis was to Rock what Louis Armstrong was to Jazz, Bob Marley to Reggae, and Frank Sinatra to pop.  So maybe Sebastion was right.  After all Elvis' first recording, "That's All Right Mama" was recorded in July of 1954 in Sam Phillips' (there's that name again) Memphis, Tennessee studio.  It should be noted that one of the first great commercially successfully rock tunes was Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" followed immediately by Elvis' smash hit "Heartbreak Hotel".  So what is Rock 'n Roll?  Here's our definition.  A genre of popular music begun in the United States in the early 50s from a melting pot of blues, country music, gospel music, R&B, and vigorously stirred by a beat that is essentially a boogie woogie blues rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, the latter almost always provided by a snare drum.  Now that's Rock 'n Roll.   RZ

Be Unique

Posted on: 07/03/2011

    Of late we have begun to wander out in search of music jams being held across Broward County in South Florida.  The large number of quality lead guitar players, bass players and drummers never ceases to amaze.  There just seems to be an inexhaustible number of guitar players who appear to be world class in terms of sheer talent.  And yet most are not presently in a band and the ones that are struggle to make ends meet.  Singers are few and far between and writers are especially scarce.  The singers we do encounter have a very limited repertoire and their vocal range also seems to be on the short side.  As a singer/songwriter with a decent number of rock covers under our belt, which we can perform at the drop of a hat, we never have a problem getting a chance to show off our wares with a favorable response.  The lesson in all this is learn how to sing and write tunes with as much effort as you do in mastering your instrument.  Those that follow this advice will stand out at the jams as opposed to being labeled just another guitar player that shows up every week.  We offer 2 other tips. Being loud at the expense of melody and good taste just doesn't get the job done.  And play something different each time, variety sells.  So tune up, hope to jam with you soon.  RZ

Has Beens' Get Had

Posted on: 06/26/2011

    "Hello Athens", so began an emaciated overtly whacked-out Amy Winehouse to a stunningly sparse concert crowd.  One minor problem, the has-been pseudo performer was in Belgrade, Serbia.  Not to be deterred, Winehouse stumbled, fumbled, allegedly farted, and almost fell dead before being mercilessly taken off the stage to the relief of the tens who stayed to witness the chaotic carnage. Prior to her exit, those in attendance booed incessantly as poor Amy staggered around the stage in search of a place to hide. The next day those in charge cancelled the remaining 11 dates of her European tour.  Countless music fans across Europe cheered the news and spontaneous celebrations across the continent were said to have broken out. This should mark the blessed end of a career that has been marked by Winehouse's well-known substance-abuse problems, rather than any notable artistic contribution.  Once again we can only wish Winehouse (what a totally and oddly appropriate name), good health, good wealth and good riddance.  Not to be outdone, Brittany Spears' promoters were forced to cut ticket prices virtually in half in a feeble attempt to salvage this equally 'it's over' entertainers' recent American tour.  Cancellations of selected dates should be soon to follow.  The good news in all of this is that young music consumers are becoming more discerning and selective as to how they spend their money and their time.  Kudos to them for this positive change and may it only continue.  Hey Gaga, better keep an eye and an ear on this.  You may be next.  RZ

The Big Man Passes

Posted on: 06/18/2011

    Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band died today from complications of a stroke suffered last week in his Singer Island home in Palm Beach, Fla.  The Boss affectionately referred to Clarence as the 'Big Man'.  In the history of rock 'n roll, 2 names stand out as the greatest saxophone players of all time, the legendary King Curtis and of course, Clarence Clemons.  Our favorite musical remembrance of Clarence's talent was his melodic, powerful sax solo on Bruce's masterpiece, 'Jungleland' off the "Born To Run" album.  Clemons performed almost to the very end, appearing with Gaga on the season finale of 'American Idol'.  The world of rock 'n roll won't be the same without Clarence Clemons.  He was 69.  Rest well my friend.  RZ

Pretentious Personified

Posted on: 06/12/2011

    The challenge of writing a weekly music blog is finding a topic worthy of discussion that others will bother to read.  We were tempted to write once again of well known rap loser Flavor Flav who revealed last week that he spent $2,600 a day on crack over a 6 year period.  But this dude is so despicable and utterly pathetic that we will take a pass, instead choosing to devote our little space on the most pretentious pop star in the history of pop music, namely Lady Gaga.  First of all, anyone over the age of 20 knows that Gaga is an exact duplicate clone of Madonna.  But since Gaga's fans are all 12 to 15 years old, they don't know about Madonna and could care less.  Despite a lack of originality, Gaga deserves a lot of credit for her strong business savvy and marketing skill.  No one has done it better since Colonel Tom Parker created the Elvis brand, and that was 50 years ago. However, what is particularly fascinating, at least to this writer, is how Gaga has such an unprecedented lofty opinion of her own artistic value and almost omniscient essence to her external existence.  Consider these quotes from a recent 'Rolling Stone' article.  Referring to the release of her new album, Gaga opines, "God wants 'Born This Way' to come out".  Yeah right, the release of a pop star's album is of the highest priority to God.  Please get fucking serious.  How about this one, "The album is sort of saying pop culture is the new religion".  Get real, you moronic bitch.  I hate to break it to you, but your album will not replace any of the world's predominant religions any time soon.  Imagine the ego necessary to even suggest such a concept.  As to her place in the music universe, Gaga offers this, "Perhaps it's been a couple of decades since there's been an artist (she constantly refers to herself as an artist) that's been as vocal about their opinions, as vocal about culture, religion, human rights, politics."  It's just a matter of time before this dizzy broad refers to herself as the Messiah.  She already considers herself above daily human concerns.  "I don't pee.  I don't have waste organs.  I was born without them."  This godlike quality is refuted by a Madison Square Garden stagehand who  allegedly reports that Gaga dumped in her dressing room bathroom with a ferocious fervor reminiscent of a burly truck driver.  It will be interesting to see if Gaga has staying power in the music biz.  My bet, Michael Jackson she's not.  RZ

Little Miss Peep Drops An F Bomb

Posted on: 06/06/2011

   Pop princess Avril Lavigne had a rough time at the ball park in Tampa Bay, Florida the other day.  Things went fine when she through out the first ball, wearing a Tampa Bay Ray baseball cap, looking cute as a button.  The Rays were playing her home country's Toronto Blue Jays.  Lavigne and her back-up band had been booked to perform the after game rock concert where the stage is set up customarily on the playing field at second base.  As the band attempted to kick in with its first tune and Lavigne began to sing, the PA system went completely haywire bonkers with brain jarring feedback and the sound cutting on and off.  Naturally, the crowd began to show its displeasure and started  booing.  The 28 year old former ingenue took great exception to the fans derision and promptly unleashed a string of profanities directed at the fans climaxed with a couple of F bombs.  Basically, she told a crowd heavily littered with families and young children to go fuck themselves.  This was not particularly well-received by the Rays management who bill their shows and entertainment extravaganzas as family friendly.  The show was cut short and Lavigne stormed off the field headed back to the more friendly confines of Canada.  Maybe Avril Lavigne was upset by being left off our list of Canada's best rock artists a few weeks back.  Don't sweat it Avril, as cute as you are, you can always get a gig at the local bowling alley in Montreal.  RZ 

Introducing Beyonce Copycat

Posted on: 05/29/2011

    It can not reasonably be argued that Beyonce Knowles is anything but a superstar in the music world.  With the possible exception of Lady Gaga, Knowles might be the single biggest and brightest star of them all.  Her career has been controlled and guided by her husband, the lesser talented Mr. Jay Z., with great skill and expertise.  All of which makes it a mystery why she, or maybe we should say they, feel the need to make preposterous and utterly strange career decisions which baffle any intelligent observer.  We have written previously about the money grab in which Beyonce performed at a New Year's Eve party paid for and hosted by the leaders of the murderous Gadhafi regime in Libya.  This despicable act by the entertainer can only be attributed to unadulterated greed of the highest order.  But now comes word that Knowles, performing at the recent Billboard Music Awards show, totally ripped off and copied a production number, first and previously performed by Italian singer/dancer Lorella Cuccarini over a year ago on Italian television.  The production for the 2 numbers is not similar, but identical in every detail.  To make matters worse, Beyonce, rather than give credit to the Cuccarini team, chose to ignore her at the show in the entirety, fully expecting no one would notice her shoddy and copycat behavior.  Well, people have noticed and Knowles and Jay Z. should be fully ashamed of themselves for their rip-off behavior.  But don't hold your breath.  We've all heard the old expression, "what goes around, comes around."  And the day will come when these 2 will fall, and fall they will and hard.  The bad karma is too strong to escape.  RZ

Impossible Standard Met

Posted on: 05/22/2011

    Just when you think the bar cannot go any lower for the rap and urban genre of noise, the impossible happens resulting in a new bottom standard.  This new unprecedented level, set by Eminem, will surely stand the test of time, at least a week or two in the genre that masquerades as sound entertainment.  Now for the record, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog, are against censorship of any kind and this latest challenge to our view does not alter our position.  But it does beg the question.  Is it possible for anyone to exceed this boundary for absolute bad taste?  Rest assured, some greed-based fool or fools will certainly make the effort and soon.  Well, what exactly are we talking about?  Consider these lyrics reprinted from the May 26th issue of Rolling Stone.                                                                                      "I hope that I don't sound too heinous                                                                                                  when I say this, Nicki Minaj                                                                                                                But I wanna stick my pain-us                                                                                                            in your anus,"                                                                     First of all, thanks for sharing, Eminem.  And we do admit, your thought does have an element of humor.  And having viewed Ms. Minaj's posterior, there is a certain bizarre justification for your wacko rhyme.  We feel confident in expressing the opinion that in the history of the English language, never before has heinous been rhymed with anus.  What a breakthrough.  It's one we can all be proud of, as the culture continues to tumble toward the abyss.   RZ                                                                                                                                                    


Has Been Rapper Has Bad Week

Posted on: 05/15/2011

    Everybody's favorite rapper from the 90s recently had a rather disturbing week or two.  You remember Flavor Flav, the 52 year old whose real name is William Drayton, Jr.  Flav, whose latest venture is the fried chicken business, pulled out of "Flavor Flav's Chicken Joint" in Clinton, Iowa after employees claimed their pay checks bounced.  If that wasn't bad enough, the eatery which caters to an African-American clientele, was hit by allegations that expired food was served to unsuspecting customers.  The news was even worse for FF's chicken operation in Las Vegas, where "Flavor Flav's House Of Flavor" was hit by allegations from a former business partner that the former rapper was operating a scam.  On top of that, the dim-witted aging entrepreneur, was taken to jail by Vegas police when it was discovered that Flav had 4 warrants out for his arrest.  Of course, this is nothing new for Mr. Flav.  His long history of criminal legal problems dates back to his teenage years when by the age of 16 he had been in and out of jail for both robbery and burglary.  Mr. Flav, the father of at least 7 illegitimate children, pled guilty to assault in 1991 and did 30 days in the slam.  In 2002, violating probation got him 2 months, all expenses paid, at Rikers Island Jail in New York.  Flavor Flav achieved dubious fame in the 90s with his rap hit "911 Is A Joke". He was an integral member of the rap group Public Enemy which was soundly criticized for its anti-semitic stance.  He also is known as the guy who wears a large clock around his neck.  He achieved recognition for his VH1 reality series a few years back by demonstrating that an individual incapable of communicating in any language known to the human race could still be successful in America.  It is safe to assume that Flavor Flav's 15 minutes of fame is long overdue.  To Mr. Flav we offer this salutation, good health, good wealth, and good riddance.  RZ

Rock Star And Broke

Posted on: 05/08/2011

    What's better than being a Rock star?  Nothing right.  Tons of beautiful women, adoring fans, constant adulation and all the money anyone could ever want.  Well not exactly.  Believe it or not there are plenty of artists who have achieved enduring fame, but went broke in the process.  Well you might ask who exactly are we talking about.  How about Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday).  This guy doesn't have a pot to pee in.  Check out former superstar Toni Braxton, broke as broke can be.  Or consider guitar god Ted Nugent.  Not a pretty site when it comes to the money situation.  How about soul singers Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes and Ron Isley (Isley Brothers) all of whom died dead broke, and we do mean dead.  Other black artists who had difficulty balancing the checkbook include M.C. Hammer and George Clinton.  White artists are well represented as well.  Everyone knows Willie Nelson's problems with the IRS over the years.  But equally distressing are the financial plights of David Crosby (CSN&Y), former teen sensation Leif Garrett, Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), the killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, and former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.  But we've saved the biggest surprise superstar performer on our list for last.  Yes, none other than the legendary Billy Joel whose albums have made countless millions for somebody, but apparently not much trickled down for Joel.  Anybody know a good lawyer?  And so boys and girls, and anyone who aspires to be a rich and famous rock star, maybe it's not the worst idea in the world to stay in school, go to college, go to business school or law school and learn how to handle all that cash.  And then and only then get serious about that music career.  Having been fortunate enough to have earned a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, we here at the Ric Zweig Blog are always available to be of service to the artist community.  Save those bucks, there's a hard rain a coming.   RZ

Canada's 10 Greatest Of All Time

Posted on: 04/29/2011

    Sorry about the no blog last week.  We were vacationing in Panama, our home away from home and enjoyed a fun-filled week.  But a conversation with a friend in sultry Panama got us thinking about the country that shares our northern border and all the great music from Canada that we enjoy so much.  Which leads us to this week's topic, ie - the top 10 greatest bands and individual artists from our neighbor north of the border.  Coming in at number 10 is Paul Anka.  This talented singer/songwriter was a 50s sensation with his blockbuster hit, "Diana".  Number 9 is another singer/songwriter from the 60s, Joni Mitchell.  Bryan Adams is our pick for number 8, well represented by his 80s blockbuster smash, "Cuts Like a Knife".  Number 7 is the Canadian version of Bob Dylan, namely Leonard Cohen, who still tours successfully to this day.  You may not be familiar with our pick for number 6, he's Zal Yanousky who helped create, along with America's John Sebastian, the sound of 60s rock band, "The Lovin' Spoonful".  Positions 4 and 5 are held by modern day bands "Arcade Fire" and "Nickelback" who are both worth more than a listen.  But let's get serious.  Who are the 3 greatest bands to come from Canada of all time.  Here's our picks.  At number 3 is "Rush".  Consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, these guys are simply can't miss if they happen to play near you.  "Rush" remains one of the great live bands touring today.  Number 2 is the legendary Neil Young, one of the most influential musicians of the last 40 years.  There are many favorites to choose from, but we'll select "Harvest Moon" and "Rocking In The Free World".  The latter has the greatest easy to play 3 chord rock progression known to exist,  E minor to D to C.  Try it for yourself, and you'll be a rocking too.  Drum roll please!  Our pick for the best Canadian rock band of all time is not Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks,  but the The Hawks did morph into our selection for number 1, "The Band".  Canadian born Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, & Rick Danko made up this amazing group of musicians.  Manuel and Danko have passed on, but Helm and Robertson are still going strong.  "The Weight" along with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" are representative tunes that never fail to continually move us.  Honorable mention to our list includes Sarah Mclachlan, Gordon Lightfoot, Shania Twain, David Clayton-Thomas, and Bruce Cockburn.  RZ

I Don't Believe In Zimmerman

Posted on: 04/15/2011

    Our more musically astute readers will attribute the title of this week's Blog to John Lennon and his late seventies classic opus, "God".  Bob Dylan is presently in the midst of his first career Asian Tour with visits to such countries as Hong Kong, Taipei, Viet Nam, and China, among others.  As a long time Zimmerman fan, it was somewhat unsettling to learn that the once esteemed Mr. Dylan had consented to provide Chinese government censorship authorities pre-approval of his set list for a Chinese concert.  Wow, we guess that the 'times really are a changing'.  As Maureen Dowd of the New York Times characterized it, "Dylan took his pile of communist cash and left".  This is the kind of artist behavior we would have expected from the likes of Beyonce Knowles, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Ritchie, and other intellectually challenged greed obsessed urban performers.  Say it ain't so, Mr. Dylan, who at age 70 this coming May, has come a long way downward from the 22 year old kid who had the gumption to storm off the set of the CBS 'Ed Sullivan Show' in 1963 because he did not get his way on material choice.  Frankly, Dylan's current behavior is not only disgraceful, but rather disillusioning to say the least.  The implication is obvious. Even Bob Dylan gets on his knees and pays homage to the almighty dollar.  I don't believe in Zimmerman, and I don't believe in you anymore Bob Dylan.  John was right all along.  RZ

The Three Most Popular

Posted on: 04/08/2011

    Who are the 3 most popular artists of all time?  Some of the candidates would have to include Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman representing the jazz genre.  How about Bob Marley of Jamaican reggae fame?  Rock has many candidates.  A partial list would include the UK's 'Pink Floyd' as well as the 'Rolling Stones'.  The USA would be represented by Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of 'Doors' fame.  An argument could certainly be made for Bob Dylan of country-rock fame.  A modern day candidate for most popular might be Lady Gaga.  However, none of these make our list of the 3 most popular of all time.  Drum roll please, number 3 on our list is Frank Sinatra.  'Ole Blue Eyes' was the first artist in history to cause teenage girls to go absolutely bonkers and scream hysterically while Frankie boy was singing.  Even as a youngster, Sinatra had an amazing voice.  After a while his career began to flounder when the girls began to grow up, but an Oscar winning performance in "From Here To Eternity" put Frank back on top where he remained for the rest of his long life.  Number 2 is Elvis Presley.  Elvis' early hip-shaking performances caused the teenage girls of his generation not only to scream, but to experience their own personal sexual awakening watching Presley perform.  You had to see it to believe it, but an overflowing crowd of orgasmic teenage girls caused the national powers to be to consider Elvis a real threat to our country's well being.  So concerning was this issue, that CBS's television cameras only showed Elvis from the waist up when he made his first appearance on the 'Ed Sullivan' TV show.  Number 1, of course, can only be the legendary 'Beatles' from merry old Liverpool, United Kingdom.  Yes, the same group that some of this year's American Idol contestants confessed to not knowing.  The 'boys' caused the same screaming volume of noise from teenage girls without the threatening sexual overtones created by Presley.  Accordingly, parents gave their tacit approval to their kids' love for 'The Beatles', who managed by the crafty Brian Epstein, soon ascended to the absolute top of our list as the most popular artist of all time.  We still miss and always will miss John Lennon, who was cut down at age 40.   RZ

What Goes Better Than Murder & Rap

Posted on: 04/01/2011

    The connection between murder and the noise known as rap music is as strong as ever with the shooting death this past weekend of rap DJ Megatron in Staten Island, New York.  One more episode in a never ending string of ghastly crimes associated with this urban, inner-city alleged art form.  We all know the history.  From the 1996 Las Vegas shoot kill of Tupac Shakur, to the reputed revenge shoot kill of Biggie Smalls in 1997.  Rap entrepreneur Marion "Suge" Knight's corporate offices in California being raided in connection with a series of killings in 2002.  Atlanta rapper Gucci Mine faced a murder charge in 2005.  Of course, the Shakespearian poet known as Ice-T achieved notoriety with his classic opus "Cop Killer".  This so-called piece of you know what describes the steps necessary to kill a cop and deserves credit for the 1992 shooting of 2 Las Vegas cops.  The 4 youths responsible for this incident reportedly continued to rap the lyrics to "Cop Killer" upon their capture.  How very cool.  In 2010, New Orleans rapper Magnolia Shorty was found shot to death and this past September, a rapper with the moronic moniker of "Syko Sam" pled guilty to 4 murders in Farmville, Virginia. Performers such as Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre have made careers rapping and glorifying murder and other extremely violent acts.  We could go on and on and on about the endless parade of deadly violence that permeates the rap, urban & hip-hop, inner-city culture.  There is of course, a common thread that unites these 2 concepts, but we will leave that to the sociologists who write about and know more about such things.  With regard to the Megatron hit, UPI.com reported the death of the 32 year old as a "possible gang hit".  Real name Corey McGriff, had been a popular Hot 97 hip-hop radio DJ in NYC before landing a job with television's Black Entertainment Network.  Megatron was survived by his 3 illegitimate children.  Speculation abounds that the Megatron hit was ordered after he refused to play and promote a gangster supported rap track that he, Megatron found lacking.  Money obtained through inner-city crack cocaine drug dealing is often used to finance the making and production of ear deafening rap tracks.  Individuals with juice in the music business are then approached with generous financial offerings in order to gain valuable radio play.  This is the reality of what the music business has become in inner-city America.  By all accounts, Megatron was a likable and decent young man.  Rap music claims another victim.   RZ

Relax With Music

Posted on: 03/26/2011

    We live in a most stressful time.  Our world is plagued with one tumultuous calamity after another. As we all know, in just the last few months, there have been major earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan killing many tens of thousands of people.  Japan has had to endure a triple disaster unlike anything occurring in our lifetime.  People in the Middle East fed up with their governments are sacrificing their lives to try to effect changes in places like Egypt, Libya and Syria.  In our own country, floods, tornadoes and fires, combined with a wretched economy and massive unemployment, threaten the stability of our nation.  What to do to find a little peace.  Drugs are the choice of many in order to escape the madness.  Me, I recommend a dose of music to calm the savage beast.  So in this week's blog we will recommend 2 albums from the distant past that still hold up to this very day and are guaranteed to lower your blood pressure and provide a mellow moment or two.  First an album by Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods entitled "Elephant Mountain".  This most unified effort is an enduring classic well known to all older musicians.  The other effort is by a group out of Los Angeles, by the name of 'Love', whose equally classic album was entitled "Forever Changes".  If I had to choose the ten greatest albums of the sixties, there would be a place on that list for "Forever Changes". Most of you are probably unaware of this group and its genius leader, Arthur Lee.  Check it out.  And when you are thoroughly chilled out on that couch, think of us here at the RZ blog.  Glad to be of service.   RZ

The Devastating Decline of Eddie Van Halen

Posted on: 03/18/2011

Ask a rock guitarist for their list of the all time guitar gods, and you pretty much hear the same names.  Jimi Hendrix, Roy Buchanan, Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, and of course, Eddie Van Halen.  So it was somewhat of a surprise to read the article by Sammy Hagar in Rolling Stone this week, entitled, "Surviving Eddie".  The article discusses the 2004 reunion of Van Halen and the subsequent tour which sought to cash in on the band's previous successes.  Hagar, after not having seen Eddie in a decade, describes their meeting thusly, "He looked like he hadn't bathed in a week...He was missing a number of teeth and the ones he had left were black...His boots were so worn out...and his big toe stuck out...hunched over like a little old man, a cigarette in his mouth.  He had a third of his tongue removed because of cancer and he spoke with a slight lisp."  So much for the glory of rock 'n roll.  A once great musician had thusly squandered his immense talent and become for all intents and purposes, a bum.  Hagar describing a show performance writes, "His solo turned into a disaster.  It used to be the highlight of every show.  Now he would play nothing, just garbage.  He would try to play 'Eruption', one of his greatest pieces, and screw it up.  He would just grab the whammy bar, hit the sustainer, and start making all this noise.  The audience wasn't buying it, either."  In my view, there are few things more pathetic than wasted talent.  Van Halen was an artist with a gift who ended up thoroughly ripping off his loyal fans.  He cared nothing about them or anyone else.  You can't help but wonder if one day Mr. Van Halen will actually wake up and realize what he has done.  All musicians have a responsibility to be straight enough and sober enough to deliver the goods to their fans and the listening audience.  If you can't meet that obligation, get the hell out of the game.  RZ

Hey Hey Woody Guthrie - I Wrote You A Song

Posted on: 03/12/2011

    This week's Billboard top 40 albums has teen sensation Justin Bieber having 4 spots including number 1.  Even to an old guy like me, Justin seems a likeable kid who plays the kind of music that you would expect a 16 year old kid to play.  His predominance in the top 40 is convincing evidence that most album buying these days is done by 12 to 18 year old kids.  The list of commercially successful albums is further occupied by artists (I use the term loosely) such as Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green, Kate Perry, whose album is entitled "Teenage Dream", and the likes of Jamie Foxx, Kanye West, Lil Wayne (who reveals the obvious in his "I Am Not a Human Being" - No shit, Sherlock !) and of course, the Peas, of Super Bowl fiasco fame.  There is not a single entry in the top 40 by a performer with any kind of social message.  And yet the social upheaval taking place now around the world is as high as it has ever been.  But America's musical powerhouses are silent with nothing at all to say.  The closest feeble attempt would be the Zac Brown Band with its "You Get What You Give".  How absolutely revolutionary.  Please note the sarcasm.  Even the monumentally popular Gaga, who has the platform and popularity to be a game changer, can do no better than "The Fame" as if anybody over the age of 15 cares what a burden it is for her to be famous.  Gaga might actually have the potential to say something important with her music.  Time will tell, but I'm not holding my breath.  Long gone is the message music that Dylan ("Masters Of War"), the Beatles ("A Day In The Life"), John Lennon ("Imagine"), Pink Floyd ("The Wall") or CSN&Y ("Ohio") created.  All of this great music was inspired by and can be traced back to a single artist named Woody Guthrie, who roamed the country during our great depression singing protest songs.  Bob Dylan's greatest influence was Woody Guthrie.  Somehow, I can't imagine a single artist on the Billboard top 40 being even remotely familiar with Mr. Guthrie.  And that my friends, is both a shame and a disgrace.  RZ

Traitors In Our Midst

Posted on: 03/05/2011

    CNN recently reported that Beyonce Knowles, Mariah Carey, Usher, and Lionel Ritchie performed in recent years for the murderous Gadhafi regime in Libya.  Knowles received 2 million dollars in cash to perform at a New Year's Eve celebration hosted by Saif al-Islam, the son of the Libyan dictator.  In the CNN video, the zoftig Knowles was seen gyrating in a thinly veiled bodysuit that came oh so close to revealing her most intimate vaginal body parts.  It is certainly no surprise that entertainers of the urban and hip hop culture would put money and bling ahead of any other considerations.  The fact that the regime systematically murders and oppresses the Libyan people is of no concern to Knowles and her cohorts as long as the remuneration is legal tender.  After all, this is not the sixties where so many music entertainers had a societal consciousness which predominantly influenced their music.  But there are other considerations in play here besides the moral banktrupcy of Knowles and her friends.  In our view, the American government's ban on "trading with the enemy" has been violated by Beyonce Knowles.  At the very least the State Department, the Department of the Treasury and Justice Department should thoroughly investigate this matter, and if appropriate, bring criminal charges against these individuals.  If convicted, severe sentences of incarceration should be imposed.  We can forgive the vacuous message of their music, as well as the empty lyrics, but traitorous actions of these alleged entertainers must not go unpunished.  Each American consumer can do their part by boycotting these performers and their music.  Lest you wonder why we have focused on Knowles as opposed to Carey, we simply can not ignore Carey's well documented past emotional and mental problems which should be taken into account by any sentencing court. As for Lionel Ritchie, he's long past being relevant in a musical sense, whereas the rotund Beyonce is and remains a superstar by any objective standard.  If justice is achieved in her case, others may think twice.  Knowles has been wise to make no public statement on this matter, however the question we would pose to her is as follows.  If Adolf Hitler had offered you the equivalent of 3 million bucks to perform for the Third Reich in 1938, would you have done so.  Don't bother answering.  We already know the answer.   RZ 

The NBA Gets It Right

Posted on: 02/24/2011

    Hopefully, the National Football League (NFL) was carefully watching the National Basketball Association's (NBA) entertainment presentation during their annual all-star game the other night.  After a lackluster and dismal halftime show by the Black Eyed Peas and a disastrous fiasco of a national anthem by has been copycat diva Cristina Aguilera at the NFL's Superbowl, the NBA showed everyone how it should be done.  The NBA could have easily settled for a rap group given that the the league's membership is more than 80% black.  But the honchos of the NBA took the high road and chose high energy rocker Lenny Kravitz and his amazing band of professionals who performed 3 of Kravitz' original tunes without flaw.  No special effects, no multitude of dancers, no diversionary tactics, just dynamic move your feet rock 'n roll which blew the house down.   If ever we needed proof of which genre is the real thing and which appeals to no talent morons, this was it.  Congrats to Lenny and the boys for showing why Chuck Berry once said, "rock, rock 'n roll, never become the days of ole".  Also of note, was the totally professional Josh Groban, who sang the national anthem with style, verve, and class.  Way to go Josh.   The lesson is we don't always need to appeal to the lowest common denominator when we make choices.   RZ

The Old Men Of Rock

Posted on: 02/17/2011

    When we wrote the piece about B.B. King a few weeks back, I became curious as to who else was still doing music in their 80s.  Shockingly, in addition to King, there are only 3.  Can you name them? King is the oldest.  He will be 86 in September.  Chuck Berry will be 85 in October.  New Orleans' Fats Domino will turn 83 next week.  Bluesman Bobby (Blue) Bland just turned 81.  That completes the list of rock octogenarians.  Next up is Elvis' guitarist Scotty Moore, who turns 80 next December.  Rock pioneer Little Richard will be 79, also in December, followed by Willie Nelson who turns 78 in April.  Folky Leonard Cohen will be 77 in September, and  early rocker Jerry Lee Lewis reaches 76 in September.  Bluesman Buddy Guy is still going strong at 75. Song stylist Etta James is 73.  Cream drummer Ginger Baker will be 72 in August and Band member, Levon Helm 71 in May.  Bob Dylan, still on tour, will be 70 in May and Chubby Checker of "Twist" fame reaches the same milestone in October.  Amazingly, that completes the list of 70 or older.  Others of note:  Paul McCartney 69, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both turn 68 later this year.  Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin, a recent 69.  Jeff Beck will be 67 in June.  Fellow Faces member Rod Stewart is almost 67.  Eric Clapton and Robin Trower of Procal Harum, will both be 66 next month.  Traffic member Dave Mason is 65 in May and bandmate Steve Winwood is 63 the same month.  Elton John is also 63 and plastic surgery devotee Steven Tyler will also be 63 in March.                                                     The conclusion is obvious.  A life spent in Rock is not conducive to living a long life.  Being constantly on the road, flying around the world, eating crappy food, and getting little sleep does not translate into healthy living.  Not to mention the easy availability of drugs, women, and other incendiary temptations which can curtail a performer's longevity.  So if you want to hang around a while, maybe it's a good idea to give music a rest.  Unfortunately, I can't follow my own advice.  It just gets in your blood and can't easily be excised.  Just ask Jimi, Janis, Jim, Elvis, Buddy, Stevie Ray and the thousands of others who are no longer with us.   RZ

The Black Eyes Peed

Posted on: 02/09/2011

    The Super Bowl entertainment extravaganza began with such high hopes when pop diva Christina Aguilera sang her salute and tribute to anal sex by changing the lyrics of the National Anthem from 'gallantly streaming' to 'twilight's last reaming'.  This provided the best laugh of the day at least until "The Black Eyed Peas" literally peed all over the stage, their careers, and the massive audience who watched last Sunday.  Led by the very beautiful Stacy Ann Ferguson, the 'Peas' performance was a monumental embarrassment leading millions of viewers to wonder simultaneously and out loud, "why are they so popular?"  Frankly, it beats me.  While the soon to be 40 and aging "Fergie' is definitely eye candy of the highest order, the repetitious banality of the 'Peas' artificial sound reached new lows even for a rap group.  While this drivel may fly in a South Beach nightclub packed full of ecstasy stoners, it is hardly appropriate for the tons of American football fans who tune in to watch the friggin' game.  But the powers at the pathetic NFL are so desperate to appear hip, that this is what they come up with to try and dazzle the audience.  Prince, Springsteen, Tom Petty, and the Who just weren't hip enough for the morons of the NFL.  Who likes peas anyway? Black or green.  At least Janet Jackson showed us her boob.  Any chance of Fergie showing us her moneymaker were quickly dashed upon Slash's guest appearance on the under the bottom (the opposite of over the top) cover of "Sweet Child Of Mine" which must have had Axl Rose choking with laughter at home.  Since we boldly offered career advice to Miley Cyrus last week, why stop there.  Accordingly,  to Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL hierarchy, please go with either Keith Urban or John Mayer for next year's game.  Shockingly, they can both write songs, sing them well and play a mean guitar. Or if you insist on having a rap act, we suggest Compton's "The Ghetto Boys", the alleged real life drug dealers, one of whom is a two foot dwarf, toting alleged Mac tens to the 50 yard line.  There just seems something oddly appropriate about this.  Of course, we'll probably end up with Cee Lo Green or Nicki Minaj.  But hopefully, the Jets will make it to the alleged big game.   RZ

The Curious Case of Miley Cyrus

Posted on: 02/03/2011

    Poor Miley Cyrus.  Late night comics make fun of her name, calling her Cyley Myrus, Haley Myrus, or my favorite, Cyrus Miley.  In fact, I am considering changing my name from Ric Zweig to Cyrus Miley.  But seriously folks (drum splash), this previously delightful girl has seen her once wondrous career tank as of late.  Her most recent LP entitled "Can't Be Tamed" has been a major sales disappointment and is no where to be seen in 'Billboard's' top 40 Albums.  The title, refers to her personal insistence and defiance of her advisers' advice that she hold on to her prissy and pure 'Hannah Montana' image which made Disney billions in revenue and made Miley a legitimately big star and the idol of millions of children and their parents across the world.  But Miley recently turned 18 and has become eager to shed the good girl image so expertly crafted by those in charge.  Now Miley is in charge and the results so far have been disastrous.  The young breast challenged former superstar has become the new illustrated girl, sporting a (soon to be more) grand total of 5 tattoos.  The previously referred to album features a sexed-up sound which has been soundly rejected by her former fans and the watchful eyes and ears of their parents.  Being voted recently (for the second year in a row) the worst celebrity influence) is not the recognition a teen star translates into money in the bank.  Compare with the expert marketing of Justin Bieber who continues to personify the all-american image Miley has trashed.  In my view, she deserves better.  Her former Disney television show revealed a wacky Lucille Ball type sense of humor that convinced many of her well-honed comedic instincts.  She is a very pretty girl who dances expertly and is blessed with a natural winning stage presence, but wants instead to be a very sexy girl.  But alas, the genie can not be put back into the bottle.  So what is poor Miley to do?  Well, we here at the RZ Blog have the recipe to return the has been superstar back to the top of the biz where she so rightfully belongs.  Here are our suggestions.  First, make a sex tape.  This time honored tradition always works.  Ask Kim Kardashian.  Secondly, do a nude pictorial for 'Playboy'.  They will offer many millions to offset their sagging sales, and you can show the world how really grown up you are.  It made Marilyn Monroe's career.  And finally, and most importantly, convince a Hollywood director like Martin Scorcese or someone of that ilk, to cast you as a crack addicted hooker in their next R rated epic.  See Jodie Foster.  Do I already hear Oscar talk?  Just remember Cyley, I mean Myley, you owe it all to Ric Zweig.  Since your career is now officially saved, the least you can do is record one of my tunes.  All the best.  RZ

State of the Music Union

Posted on: 01/27/2011

If President Obama can deliver the annual State of the Union address to the nation every January, so can we with regard to the State of the Music Union.  My fellow music aficionados, the music business sucked last year and that might be the good news.  Rolling Stone Magazine reports that 2010 was the worst year on record.  Album sales fell another 13 percent.  The concert business had its worst year in memory.  The download business fell off the chart.  The tour biz disintegrated, as in 'Limp Bizkit', who saw their scheduled tour go limp, necessitating its cancellation.  Other financial implosions included the Jonas Brothers (washed up in their early twenties), Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, who also was forced to cancel because of weak ticket sales.  Hip-hop would also have been a disaster, but for the success of Eminem's blockbuster album, "Recovery" which sold over 3 million copies.  How ironic that hip-hop's best seller is a white guy.  It was not a good year for black artists in general.  Former star and now has been Diddy's latest effort, "Dirty Money" is a monumental flop.  The only black artist selling anything is a dead guy, Michael Jackson.  The good news from the bad news is that consumers are becoming more discerning in their tastes.  Reissued vinyl classics such as the Beatles' "Abbey Road" bucked the trend, once again proving quality sells and rap crap doesn't.  Maybe the record execs who control the business will finally learn that you can't fool all the people all the time, and that there is a limit to the amount of garbage you can foister on the public.  And this is a good thing.  So all you music big shots, go find the good stuff.  There's a lot of it out there.  RZ

The Nicest Guy in Music

Posted on: 01/20/2011

    Sorry about last week.  We vacationed in Panama and had such a spiffy time that we missed our deadline.  In any event, now that we are back in good old South Florida, let's talk about the nicest person we have ever met in the world of music.  The hints are as follows:  He's now 85 years old.  A legendary guitar player.  Winner of a Grammy and a member of the Hall Of Fame.  Of course, we're talking about none other than Riley B. King, also known as B.B. King.  Some years back, after a concert played at Bailey Hall, on the campus of Cornell University located in Ithaca, New York, I had the pleasure of meeting B.B. King.  At the time I wrote a music column for a local college rag, and accompanied by my speechless bodacious date, approached the great one backstage in the hopes of getting a few words.  Mr. King was alone in a small room with a towel draped around his neck and greeted us warmly.  What followed next was an amazing 2 hours spent with this man who could not have been more magnanimous and willing to talk.  He answered all our questions without hesitation and conveyed a perception that he was enjoying the moment as much as we were.  He told us of his first break in 1948, appearing on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio show in Memphis, Tennessee.  We asked who he listened to, and he delighted us with reminisces of T-Bone Walker and Blind Lemon Jefferson.  He talked of his affection for Lighnin' Hopkins. (The next day I scraped up enough money to buy a Hopkins record and have been a fan ever since)  When we brought up the name Robert Johnson, B.B. got very quiet and soft spoken, speaking in reverence about the genius innovator of blues music who died so young.  On and on we went.  At one point I offered to leave, and B.B. replied,  "If you got questions, I got time".  When I finally ran out of questions, Mr. King actually thanked me for the interview.  I still, to this day, can't believe how gracious this man was that night.  It's nice to know that individuals of this high character exist in the world of music.  Thanks again B.B. and I have an inkling you'll be playing those incredible blues riffs for many more years to come.   RZ


Posted on: 01/06/2011

    Word out of Las Vegas is that the Queen of booty, namely Kim Kardashian, the aging 30 year old sex symbol, recently decided to bestow on the public a semi-musical masterpiece called "Turn It Up".  KK didn't actually perform her production, rather the disc was played in her majestic presence the other night at a Vegas club called Tao.  I bravely listened to this dreck on the net and heard a head-splitting and relentless pounding of a beat with Kim's pitch corrected bird-like vocal sort of panned in the forefront.  I had mistakenly thought last year's Paris Hilton CD that escaped out of Miami could never be equalled, but Kim's tune reached thresh holds not thought possible by these ears.  In fairness, the crowd seemed to be extremely loud and completely oblivious to the historic significance of the moment, as the tune was mostly ignored by the throng of music lovers and partygoers.  Rumor has it that Mr. Kanye West, that paragon of good taste and manners, (see Taylor Swift) will soon join forces with KK to release more stuff guaranteed to lower the bar to levels never before visited in the history of noise.  One has to wonder, what could Kim possibly offer West to get him to work with her?  Use your imagination for the obvious answer.  My advice to Kim, change the title to "Turn It Down" or better yet, "Turn It Off" and then follow your own advice.  But hey, the girl is totally hot.  Can't wait to see her lip-synching and shaking her moneymaker.  I'll be watching.   RZ

Pardon My Pardon

Posted on: 12/31/2010

    After a 40 year delay, justice was finally delivered, sort of, to legendary 'Doors' frontman, Jim Morrison.  As some of you know, Morrison was convicted in a Miami courtroom in 1970 for 2 misdemeanors, resulting from a Coconut Grove concert where after asking the crowd if they wanted to see his member, he momentarily obliged and simulated a shake or two.  For this incident, lasting maybe 2 seconds, the Miami State Attorney filed felony charges against Morrison.  The jury trial was presided over by Judge Murray Goodman, a political hack if there ever was one, who was more concerned with his judicial career as opposed to Morrison's rights or the Constitution of the United States.  Despite a railroad of a trial, where the judge consistently favored the prosecution, the jury still refused to find Morrison guilty of the felony, but returned guilty verdicts for lesser offenses.  Not missing a beat, Judge Goodman gave Jim the max, a 6 month jail sentence.  Out on $50,000 bond (note:  most misdemeanors carry bonds of $500 to a $1,000), and pending appeal, Morrison died the following year.  Give outgoing Governor Charlie Crist credit.  He led the effort to get this matter presented to the Florida State Clemency Board, who on December 9th, 2010, voted unanimously to grant a pardon for Jim Morrison.  Of course, he never should have been charged with a felony in the first place.  And the 6 month sentence for a 2 second exposure was much more offensive than Morrison's behavior.  The Clemency Board recognized the injustice of it all and the unjust, shameful actions of the State Attorney and the Judge, and did what it could to right this wrong.   RZ

Albert & Stevie

Posted on: 12/23/2010

    The other night, by accident, I stumbled on an amazing re-broadcast of a 1983 program featuring blues guitarists Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan playing together on the same stage.  Sometimes we need the perspective of history to properly appreciate what we see and hear.  In 1983, at the age of 27, Vaughan was just beginning to make a splash on the American musical scene.  Vaughan's reputation and fame would grow exponentially over the next 7 years.  His lifelong hero was the legendary Albert King, the bigger than life, left handed, upside down guitar player with the strongest and best voice of all the great bluesmen.  King was 60 at the time of the broadcast and totally at the top of his game.  Playing his Gibson Flying V guitar named "Lucy" and sitting on a stool, King effortlessly showed complete mastery of his instrument and the fretboard he celebrated on.  The great ones always make it look so easy.  I can play guitar, but the command possessed by Albert King, was something almost all guitar players can only dream of.  But the young Vaughan, playing his customary Fender Strat, on this special night was up to the task.  Back and forth, these 2 uniquely special talents traded solos, each one constantly out doing the other.  Joyously watching the show, time stood still as I painfully realized neither of these giants are with us today.  The young man would die first in a horrific helicopter accident after a show in Wisconsin in 1990.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was 35 at the time of his death.  For evidence of his genius, listen to his cover of "Little Wing" from the greatest hits album.  2 years later, Albert King at the age of 69, succumbed to a heart attack.  The great "Blues Power" and "Born Under A Bad Sign" virtuoso now belonged to the ages.  Watch for this show on PBS.  It is more than well worth your time.   RZ

Rolling Stone Pimp

Posted on: 12/16/2010

     It is not uncommon for the cultural abyss in the U.S. to score new lows in its ultimate quest to reach absolute rock bottom.  This concerted and highly successful effort is being spearheaded by Rolling Stone Magazine.  While this magazine contains some of the best political and social articles presently being written, it also incessantly features articles promoting urban, rap and hip-hop artists that appeal to the lowest common cultural denominator.  A few weeks ago, Rolling Stone or RS, glorified Mr. Cee Lo Green's Grammy nominated single, "Fuck You".  Now they are leading the charge for female rap artist Nicki Minaj in issue after issue.  Admittedly, Ms. Minaj is blessed with one of the world's great booties.  (See RS issue Dec. 23rd which, on page 41, features an article totally devoted to Minaj's butt, including an over the top photo of same).  The same issue contains revealing photos of Minaj's bountiful boobies.  This talent challenged artist is all about promoting her obvious sexual identity and prowess, and for that, let's give thanks.  But how about her writing prowess as an artist?  From her tune, "Did It On'em" comes this Shakespearian verse, "If I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on 'em."  From her album 'Pink Friday" comes this classic verbiage, "More talent in my motherfuckin' left thumb/She ain't a Nicki fan? Then the bitch deaf-dumb."  We are left to wonder and speculate on why RS would sell out its musical rep for this performer.  But then again, picture yourself a 28 year old pimply, horny music editor for RS and who should walk in to your office promoting her album, but the bodacious Ms. Minaj decked out in one her famous 'fuck me' outfits.  Thanks RS for your continued journalistic integrity in these trying times.  Not to be outdone, comes Miami's own Enrique Iglesias, whose legendary singing inadequacies are  totally dependent on pitch correcting software. The latest single from this genius is entitled, (and I do not joke) "Tonight I'm Fuckin' You".  Hey, Rico, have you considered the possibility that she may not be agreeable to screwing a has-been, no talent, living off your father, about to be rapist?  Probably not.  RZ 

The Curious Case of Cat Stevens

Posted on: 12/09/2010

    There isn't a stranger case in the history of popular music than that of Cat Stevens.  The now 62 year old Stevens, who was born as Steve Georgiou in London, England, achieved world-wide fame and fortune in the early 70s with such monster hits as "Wild World", "Father & Son" (an especially beautiful song) and "Peace Train".  At the height of his popularity, he startled fans by renouncing his musician lifestyle, once again changed his name, this time to Yusuf Islam, and embraced the Islamic fundamentalist way of life.  We heard very little from him until the famous writer Salman Rushdie, in the late 80s, wrote a novel entitled "The Satanic Verses" which was critical of Islam.  Mr. Stevens (Islam) was quoted at the time (this is a matter of public record) as saying, "Salman Rushdie or indeed any writer who abuses the prophet, under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death." It would appear that proponents of Islam are not ardent supporters of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Mr. Stevens/Islam stayed out of the public eye again until 2004 when he was thrown out of the U.S. for landing on the terrorist watch list, or as it is more commonly called, the official "no fly list".  Shortly thereafter, Israel denied him entry to their country, because they claim, Stevens/Islam had given financial aid to terrorist groups.  I mention all of this because most recently, popular television comedians and political activists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, held a political rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Entitled "Rally to Restore Sanity &/Or Fear" which attracted a crowd in excess of 100,000 people and received positive and massive media coverage.  And guess who showed up to speak and perform?  That's right, Mr. Cat Stevens.  Oops, I should refer to him now by his proper legal name, Mr. Yusuf Islam.  Makes you sort of wonder, doesn't it?   RZ    

Insanity Reigns

Posted on: 12/02/2010

    As if we needed further proof that the end is near, today brought the uplifting news that Mr. Cee Lo Green's tune, charmingly entitled "Fuck You" was nominated for a Grammy.  Congrats go out to the Grammy voters for doing their part to raise the moral consciousness of our disintegrating country.  I will resist the temptation to tune in and hear the announcement, "and the winner is..."  The day has finally come where we can utter those romantic magic words, and defer by explaining, "I be talking 'bout da Grammies."  Word has it that Mr. Green is working on a sequel, but I am reluctant to print it since there may be children in the room.  Oh, one further note about Mr. Green.  Although he is 340 pounds of blubberous obesity packed on a 5 foot, 4 inch frame, bald and macabre ugly, he considers himself "The Lady Killer".  Perhaps this title should be taken literally as opposed to figuratively, as this is one scary looking dude.  RZ

Gene Vincent

Posted on: 11/24/2010

    Gene Vincent was a rock pioneer of extraordinary talent and importance.  At the height of his popularity, he was head to head with Elvis Presley in competition for the title of king of rock 'n roll.  Early Elvis music, fueled by the lead guitar pyrotechnics of Scotty Moore, had a hard ballsy edge with hits like "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Money Honey", "My Baby Left Me" and "Heartbreak Hotel".  With the advent of Colonel Tom Parker, the raw Elvis sound was abruptly abandoned in favor of a softer version, tailored for mass acceptance from 12 year old girls who foamed over lame hits like "Teddy Bear" and "Love Me Tender".  The hard edged, raw, sexually driven, uncompromising rock sound was then left to 'Gene Vincent & His Bluecaps', whose 1956 blockbuster hit, "Be Bop A Lula"  reigns as one of the greatest rock tunes of all time.  Vincent's other hits, "Bluejean Bop", "Dance to the Bop" and "Lotta Lovin" led to his ultimate entry in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  His appeal was to the bad boys, the leather jacket crowd of the 50s, who revered James Dean.  Vincent's persona can be directly credited to influencing John Lennon, Billy Idol, Robert Plant and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain.  (In a bit of Rock trivia, Lennon and the lads opened for Gene Vincent in the UK in 1962).  Plant's rollicking "Whole Lotta Lovin" off Led Zep's first album was both a tribute and outright ripoff of the Vincent original.  Idol was a direct clone of Gene Vincent, right down to the clothes and hairdo.                              Vincent might never have had a career in music had it not been for a severe motorcycle accident he suffered in 1955 while serving in the Navy.  His leg shattered, he was forced to accept a medical discharge.  For the remainder of his short life, he endured numbing pain, and limped noticeably.  Tragedy struck again in 1960 when another auto accident, while on tour in the UK, severely aggravated the previous injury.  This same accident claimed the life of early Rock superstar Eddie Cochran.  Gene Vincent was never the same after the loss of his friend, Cochran.  His once spectacular career, with appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and movie appearances in "The Girl Can't Help It" with Jayne Mansfield, faded into oblivion.  He was dead by 1971 at the age of 36.  Gene Vincent is long gone.  But keep his legacy in mind every time you hear a raw, hard-driving, raw edged garage, punk or grunge sound, because it all started with Gene Vincent.  RZ


Posted on: 11/11/2010

We've never been fans of pop music.  Pop, short for popular, is essentially characterized by such acts as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Cristina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, The Jonas Brothers, and others of that ilk.  Pop artists are characterized by not writing their own material and usually do not play instruments, although the Jonas' sort of play.  At the high end of this genre, would be Frank Sinatra, who was probably America's greatest pop singer.  The feature of this blog however, was also a most successful pop artist, namely Michael Jackson.  We could never get around Michael, sensing he was a freak from the get go.  Without question, a talented entertainer and innovative dancer, we were decidedly put off by the controlling father, the freakish physical changes and the rather bizarre interest in little boys.  Notwithstanding, Jackson's amazing success can not be denied.  Bottom line, he sold a zillion records and had millions of fans.  Never overestimate the taste of America's pop fans.  Now comes a new report, equally of course in the bizarro category since it centers around MJ, that the vocals in his soon to be released new album , are not that of Michael, but rather by some sound-alike impostor.  This was confirmed by mom, Katherine and father, Joseph.  Now, their opinions may be somewhat compromised by Joe's obsessive interest in anything money related.  But MJ's kids, son Prince Michael, daughter Paris, and youngest offspring Blanket (yes, that is the kid's name, how cute!) also have gone public with assertions that it ain't be Michael.  You tend to believe that a guy's kids would be able to recognize their own father's voice.  Does the concept of greed have any limitations?  Obviously not.  Michael's fans will gobble up the new album, coincidentally released right before Christmas.  Who cares whether it's Michael singing or not.  There is mucho dinero to be made, and isn't that what the yuletide spirit is all about.  RZ


Posted on: 11/04/2010

It is not uncommon for the cultural abyss, now present in the USA, to score new lows in its ultimate quest to reach absolute rock bottom.  After all, Billboard Magazine's number one album of the week was the product of Mr. Lil Wayne, convicted felon, who celebrated by being released today from Rikers Island jail in NYC after serving 8 months of a 1 year sentence for having a loaded gun on his tour bus in 2007.  No reason I can think of that would or should derail Wayne's success.  Or how about Mr. Cee Lo Green, who recently made the charts with his tune entitled, "Fuck You".  (I know, some of you are saying, I do not believe this, but sadly it' s true).  Rolling Stone, in its Nov. 11th issue, calls Green an original, yes that's right, an original, who's a self-proclaimed lady-killer.  Of course, in inner-city neighborhoods across this great land, wide-eyed wanna bees are penning soon to be classic epics such as "Kiss My Ass" and "Blow Me".  But hey, Green does have a smooth sultry voice, so his celebrity is not as mystifying as that of those individuals who are famous for nothing more than being famous.  We all know the names.  High on this list is the inane pea brained celeb, who we all love so much, Ms. Paris Hilton.  Hilton actually recorded an album here in South Florida last year, with famed producer Scott Storch.  Even Storch's prodigious talents couldn't save this abysmal effort from being the flop of the millennium.  Or how about the Kardashian sisters?  Just what exactly do they do?  No no, having a reality show is not an acceptable answer.  Kourtney is admittedly cute, with no discernible ability to do anything remotely evidencing talent, with the possible exception of getting knocked up.  Another sister's claim to fame is being married to the Laker's Lamar Odom.  In today's world, that appears to be enough to be a celebrity, especially if your older sister Kim, has the nation's finest booty.  Now finally, there's a celebrity who justly warrants our undivided attention and adoration.  The case of Snooki is even more puzzling.  (Thanks so much MTV for all that you do).  Her claim to fame, as a large breasted dwarf, is an endless series of arrests and court appearances for grossly boorish behavior.  Even the well-documented excesses of the Roman Empire have nothing on what's going on today.  Which by the way, "What's Going On Today?" is the title of the tune we are working on at this time in the studio.  If we hit a roadblock, I reserve the right to change the title to "Eat Me".  RZ

Murder & Music

Posted on: 10/27/2010

Once upon a time, long long ago, in the music of that ancient time, songs contained messages of love, peace, and feeling good.  There were rock 'n roll bands with names like Love, Spirit, The Youngbloods, and The Rascals.  But those days are so long ago, buried in our sadly forgotten dust laden history.  More recently, a new genre of noise, disguised as music surfaced.  It was called gansta rap.  Its proponents preached violence and hate, worshipped false idols and pledged their allegiance to the flag of greed.  But this was mild and innocent compared to a new music genre which has recently surfaced.  And I use the word music loosely.  This new sound is called Narcocorrido.  It originated in Mexico but has spread its tentacles all along the U.S. Mexican border and into American cities like Los Angeles and San Diego.  Our Latin brothers and sisters are most familiar with Narcocorrido, a classic Mexican ballad, with an amped up beat, with lyrics that glorify the exploits of drug cartel kingpins.  No topic is off limits.  Killings, murder, beheadings, gunfights, blowing heads off, these are the usual topics of the day, along with the heroic actions of the cartel leaders.  The sound has a dance beat, but fuel injected with massive doses of adrenaline. Tunes tell the stories of  the Mexican drug lords, and the violent lives they inhabit until their inevitably grisly but courageous deaths.  But the violence is not restricted to the subjects of  Narcocorrido.  According to Time Magazine, a dozen musicians of the genre have been murdered since 2006.  Notwithstanding, the genre continues to grow in popularity and attracts countless numbers of new young fans daily.  Watch out, be ready, consider yourself warned, Narcocorrido is coming to a neighborhood near you and soon.  Geez, just when I was getting ready to write a song of love, peace and harmony.  RZ

Optimistic Indicators

Posted on: 10/21/2010

More often than not, culture trends across the globe, begin in American high schools.  When the skin head look was popular some years back, it was accompanied by an uncaring hardness and a cultural emptyness that certainly engulfed our land.  The music of the time was equally empty and totally devoid of merit. But now that look seems to have virtually disappeared and been replaced by kids sporting very long hair reminiscent of what was popular 50 years ago.  In my view, this is a wonderful and most positive indicator. (possibly influenced by the fact that my own hair is now half way down my back)  Can a revival of great rock be soon to follow?  I believe so.  Consider this, the number of original bands and artists exploring the bounds of contemporary music is expanding by leaps and bounds.  Most of these young artists will fail, but what's both noteworthy and important is they are out there trying.  Some will succeed which will inspire others, which creates the foundation for a new era in progressive music which will sweep the nation and create cultural change in our society.  There will soon be many more good bands like "Kings Of Leon" and "The Strokes" who actually play their instruments with unbridled talent and write songs full of creative spark.  The revolution will be televised someone once said, and the renaissance will soon cover the net as well as the land.  These will once again be exciting times in America.  So parents, let your kids grow their hair long and proudly, and if it can be afforded, buy the kid a guitar.  RZ

Today's New Word - Marketability

Posted on: 10/13/2010

About 6 years ago as we were just beginning to record, I became a member of TAXI, who bills itself as an independent A&R Company.  For a fee, the artist submits to a listing, TAXI then provides a critique and decides whether to pass along your work for final consideration to a promoter.  Frankly, my stuff then left a lot to be desired, so in retrospect it's hardly surprising that my membership was unsuccessful.  However, I was introduced to a new word that TAXI's anonymous critics often used in their evaluations, ie, MARKETABILITY.  This simply means, can we make money off your music in today's market.  Although my early work received 7s, 8s and  an occasional 9 on technical and musical merit (out of 10), my marketability scores received 4s, 5s and 6s.  Anotherwords, no money to be made here.  Now jumping 6 years to the present, I have concluded that the concept of marketability is the death knell and ultimate curse on the music industry which for the most part survives today on life support.  Everybody has a theory why today's music business is so moribund (it means dead).  Many blame this on the rise of the internet, others blame rap music, and still others fault MTV for its non-existing standards of quality.  I blame the concept of marketability for the industry's demise when obviously the real standard  for music should be, IS IT GOOD.  The pseudo critics that work for sites like TAXI are more than likely individuals who previously held jobs in the industry.  But as the pie got smaller and smaller, they were squeezed out and resorted to being anonymous reviewers of music for companies like TAXI.  The decision making criteria of these former music executives can be easily compared to the performance of mutual funds in the finance sector of our economy.  How so you ask.  Well, the most common approach in the financial world is to bet your chips on what's hot.  If it's hot this week, it'll probably be hot next week.  Carrying this to the music world, if Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are hot this week, then find me another one just like them.  Notice the concept here is to chase previous results, just like in the financial world.  Also notice, there's absolutely no mention of whether the music is good or not.  That becomes irrelevant, of no concern.  The problem with this approach is that Bieber, Cyrus, and Lady Gaga are not good.  No one will be playing their stuff in 10 years yet enough 50.  Even the kids who buy their stuff in groves now will eventually move on as their tastes mature.  So trying to find clones of these artists, as the A&R folks inevitably do, is doomed to failure from the outset.  The reason being, there's nothing good about it, even though it passes the marketability test.  Why do people today still buy and play artists like Hendrix, Dylan and Pink Floyd, and so many others from 40 years ago.  The reason is simple.  It was good then and it's still good today.  People will spend money for good.  So if the people who control the music business today want to save their industry from total annihilation, then start finding artists who are good, and forget about marketability.  RZ

Criticism And Rejection

Posted on: 10/07/2010

All of us, at one time or another, regardless of our avocation, must deal with criticism and rejection.  Songwriters are no different.  2 weeks ago, after a string of nice reviews of our recent album, a critic took me to task for the quality of my lyrics.  Naturally, this initially was tough to take.   He seized on an opportunity to lambast the admittedly weakest tune on the album, 'Jump On My Back' to tear me a new one.  Resisting the temptation to call in an airstrike or a mafia hit on this gentleman, I began to analyze what had caused this virulent response.  Of course, he had made nary a comment on the quality of the singing or vocal performances, or the production values therein contained.  While the music itself received some scant praise, it was overshadowed by the  negative criticism.  We recognize that all criticism, good or bad, is subjective.  Positive reviews are just as likely to be influenced by other factors as negative ones.  My advice is either to accept all of it equally or simply ignore all of it.  I choose the former.  Accept it, learn from it, and strive to write better lyrics.  Keep in mind, from a historical perspective, that Elvis Presley received some of the most vicious criticism that any artist has ever received, which coincidentally changed upon his military service.  All of a sudden he wasn't such a threat to the American way of life.  Bob Dylan was also excorciated when he seemed to abandon folk music by picking up a Fender Stratocaster.  This was also to abate, when Dylan made his Country album.  If they can receive negative criticism so can the rest of us.  We are all in good company.  Besides, since the bad review, we've been fortunate to receive 2 more  good ones.   In the final analysis, we will endeavor to be more circumspect in the choosing of our lyrics in the hopes of one day winning over our critic.  Or maybe the airstrike isn't such a bad idea after all.  RZ

Where's The Social Commentary

Posted on: 09/28/2010

    There's a line from Bruce Springsteen's classic  epic 'Jungleland' that reads, "the poets down here don't write nothing at all - they just stand back and let it all be"  Those lyrics, written 35 years ago, are even more relevant today given our general state of affairs.  Those who fancy themselves as students of music history know that the volatile events of the 60s were much influenced by the artists of that time.  Musicians such as Dylan, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, John Lennon, Jefferson Airplane, Spirit, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, the Fugs, Country Joe & the Fish, Richie Havens, the Chambers Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and so many others too numerous to mention, brought a new awareness to America and changed it in the process.  The events and issues of today are just as volatile.  But the musicians stand back and let it all be.  Rappers talk about sexual conquest and accumulation of stuff as if that's important, pop stars are equally inane with endless diatribes about how tough it is to be in high school or how being famous is such a drag.  Even legitimate musicians ruse about endless love relationships as if anybody cares.  I am just as guilty in this regard.  My own songs describe trivial observations about past and present love affairs and the earth shaking realization of advancing years.  Yawn, yawn.  The reasons for this overwhelming inaction, I surmise, are because we all yearn for an escape from the realities of economic turmoil, political corruption, global warming, and all the other heavy duty cosmic issues we all face today.  But where's the social commentary?  Why aren't the artists saying something in an attempt to get the wheels of change moving?  People feel powerless.  But the musicians, poets and artists collectively do have power.  So with this in mind, since I go back in the studio in a few days, my next effort will be entitled, "What's Going On Today?" This will be my attempt at social commentary.  Producer Luis Salazar is once again on board, and old friend and California resident musician extraordinaire Pete Giansante will be along for the ride.  As they say we shall see and hear what we shall see and hear.  Wish us luck.  RZ

American Idol Yawn

Posted on: 09/08/2010

Confession time.  We've always been a fan of American Idol.  It simply makes for good TV to see the hopes and dreams of so many young unfortunate souls so utterly destroyed before a drooling audience of millions. But what about all those lucky winners who were guaranteed to achieve superstardom with the accompanying fame and fortune.  Kelly Clarkson, season 1 winner, had a pretty good run for a while.  Subsequent winners, Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, Jordan Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, and even the most recent winner Lee DeWyze, might now as well be invisible.  Runner ups such as Bo Bice, Diana DeGarmo, Adam Lambert, David Archuleta, Crystal Bowersox, and the woefully inept Clay Aiken,  seen much of them lately?  Me neither.  Previous winner Fantasia Barrino made news lately by admitting she tried to kill herself.  This should spark her career, things being what they are these days.  This all came to mind after perusing the September 16th issue of 'Rolling Stone' and their weekly feature listing Billboard's Top 40 Albums.  Not a single Idol alum made the list, not even one.  Oh yeah, there was Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Carole King and James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow,  Cat Stevens, and even Iron Maiden, but no idols.  OK, idol has spawned 2 legitimate stars, namely Academy award winner Jennifer Hudson, who finished 4th and season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, who has carved out a most successful career niche in the world of country music.  Of course, the combined success of all contestants is dwarfed by the success of the show and the billions in revenue made for the Fox network.  What this all adds up to is  the good old fashioned American exploitation of a lot of decent young kids in the name of entertainment for the masses.  And these are the winners.  No wonder Simon left.  Pretty sad commentary.  Count me out for season 10.   RZ

The World Changers

Posted on: 09/01/2010

Every musician hopes to taste success to some degree and at some level.  This might be defined as just having fun, learning to play an instrument, or possibly playing in a band.  Others aspire to make a living from their musical pursuits.  Many dream of fame, adoring fans, and a glorious lifestyle made possible by their skills.  Few dream of having their music change the world and of those who do, even a smaller percentage actually become world changers.  The list is quite small.  Here is our list of the top 5.  We bestow honorable mention status, without further discussion, on Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix and Prince.  At no. 5 we have Elvis Presley who changed the world by being the first rock performer to be really big business.  The Elvis phenomena of the 50s was initially quite controversial until the business world realized there was beaucoup money to be made.  When that happened, Elvis quickly became accepted, rock 'n roll became mainstream and the world was forever changed due to its influence on young people across the globe.  For no. 4, we choose George Gershwin.  His unique talent spanned 2 decades, and was felt in many musical genres including pop, broadway shows, opera and classical.  The Gershwin musical genius comforted a generation of Americans who had to endure a depression and a catastrophic world war.  Without his effect on the American psyche, America would have been a much different place.  Ask your great grandparents if they are still around.  Coming in at no. 3 is Louis Armstrong who did for jazz what Elvis did for rock.  It became part of American culture, changing it forever.  There was no jazz before Louis Armstrong.  He invented the art of popular singing.  All singing today, with the possible exception of operatic, emanates from Louis Armstrong.  Singing in the popular styles we know today did not exist before his presence.  That changed the world.  Bob Dylan is our choice for no. 2.  Initially, he did for folk music what Elvis and Armstrong did for their respective genres.  But much more important was Dylan's invention of the powerful protest lyric.  Following in the steps of his hero Woody Guthrie, Dylan reached out, connected and influenced a whole generation of young Americans to action.  The anti-war movement of the 60s can be traced back to Bob Dylan.  That's the definition of a world changer.  But there is one other person whose impact was even greater, so drum roll please, our choice for no. 1 is none other than John Lennon.  Lennon's influence on pop culture was already established during the Beatles years, but it wildly accelerated after he left the group.  Give Ms. Ono credit for that.  Lennon made millions of people rethink their priorities, and caused so many to challenge established concepts.  His death at age 40 had a profound effect on an extraordinary number of people.  His recording of "Imagine" is the single greatest influential musical composition of all time.  He was the ultimate world changer.  RZ

The Creative Urge

Posted on: 08/25/2010

    All of us are born with urges, the 2 most powerful probably being the urge to eat and the urge to have sex.  These are part of our DNA and are the result of thousands of years of evolution.  Other urges such as the desire to have money or power are not physical in nature, but rather learned as each of us makes his or her way in the world we live in.  Those  competitive urges are not natural, but rather the result of adaptive behavior.  I would suggest there is another natural urge that most of us manage to suppress for most if not all of our lives.  Of course, this is the urge to create.  This urge is also in the DNA and can be traced back to the beginning of man.  Prehistoric humans painted and carved on the walls of caves because of this creative urge.  It is within each of us, but so few venture out to explore this urge.  It's common to hear someone say, "I can't sing or I can't dance or I can't play an instrument", when the real reason is they simply never tried.  It may be they never had the time, being too busy with the daily routine of life.  In my own case,  I felt that I lacked the talent to do music coupled with a busy time-occupying career.  But then 7 years ago, I retired from my legal career, adamant about seriously giving music a shot.  I had the creative urge.  Of course, it was always there, just like it's always there in all of us.  I overcame the first hurdle, the fear of failure.  That fear stifles our acting on the creative urge.  Slowly I began to make progress, painstakingly at first.  But I began to learn how to sing through a process of trial and error.  People assume I always could sing, but that is simply not true.  I followed the creative urge and continue to do so to this day.  I will be a better singer tomorrow than I am today.  The same goes with guitar.  Follow your creative urge.  It is much more powerful than you can ever imagine and will enrich your life in a manner that even food and sex can not match.  When I listen to other musicians, the first thing I do is evaluate the level of creativity.  Is it just a copy of someone else's creativity.  That's my beef with hip-hop, rap and urban.  Where is the creativity?  Most musicians I meet find a comfort zone covering other people's work, reluctant to follow the creative urge.  These are the reasons I have always been fascinated with Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Robert Johnson, Mahalia Jackson, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Jimi Hendrix.  Each one of those epitomizes originality and creativity at the highest level.  Few if any of us will reach those levels, but each one of us has the same powerful creative urge that they possessed.  Follow that urge and you just might surprise yourself.   RZ    

Diamond In The Rough

Posted on: 08/17/2010

    In the blog, we recently asked the question, 'Is Rap Dead'?  What I thought was a well written masterpiece, generated a grand total of one, yes a total of one, response from an individual whose email identified himself as Dangerous David, who accused yours truly of hating the entire genre of rap, hip-hop and urban music.  Not so fast Mr. DD.  In this week's blog we discuss the diamond in the rough.  A slice of absolute genius that was issued in 1992 and presented by the GETO BOYS.  Before I discuss their classic original of "My Mind Playing Tricks On Me", a word about the cover of this CD.  The photo depicts 3 bizarre looking young men, one of whom appears to be vertically challenged (a midget for all you intellectually challenged readers) seated behind a table, filled with stacks and stacks of currency and a money counting machine usually favored by drug dealers.  One of the 3 men holds what appears to be a sawed off, pump action shotgun, also traditionally preferred by those who do their business outside of customary legal guidelines.  Who would have thought that this album would contain one of the most riveting, captivating, and entertaining lyrical masterpieces I have ever encountered.  Yes it's true, "...Playing Tricks..." takes you inside the minds of our 3 inner city capitalists in such incisive fashion, that you the listener, really begin to understand what life must be like for our 'heroes' on a daily basis.  It is not a pretty picture.  But the GETO BOYS paint this picture brilliantly, warts and all, in a no holds barred fashion.  Their success in doing so transforms their rants into art, without qualification.  Here's a sampling of some of their lyrics. (which by the way are articulated with uncommon clarity)                                                                                                  "four walls closing in - getting bigger, I'm paranoid and sleeping, finger on the trigger.                           late at nite, something ain't right, thought he had cane, but it was gold medal flour.                             here they come, just like I figured.  I got my hand on a gold plated trigger.                                         day by day - it's hard to cope.  I feel like I'm the one doing dope.                                                       I often drift when I drive - having fatal thoughts of suicide."                                                             These jarring, hard as nails lyrics are accompanied by an almost trance inducing rhythmic beat that is both hypnotic and difficult to excise from one's mind.  Add it all up and you are left with one inescapable conclusion.  They may not be nice boys, but the sounds of "My Mind Playing Tricks On Me" succeed on many different levels, and that my friends is the definition of art.  Ric Zweig  

The Beatles

Posted on: 08/11/2010

    Can you answer the question for this week's blog, what one person is most responsible for the creation of "The Beatles' sound?  Was it John, or maybe Paul, George, or Ringo?  How about manager Brian Epstein?  Or maybe producer extraordinaire George Martin?  How about none of the above?  Are you stumped yet?  The answer is and was a young man from Lubbock, Texas, yes Buddy Holly.  OK you say, where's the proof of such a bold assertion.  Well here it is, in 1958 about 7 months before Holly's death, he recorded an obscure song called "Heartbeat".  Few know this tune.  It never became a hit for Holly like so many of his recordings, but a young lad in Liverpool, Great Britain, John Lennon of course, was spellbound over this tune.  "Heartbeat" was the absolute foundation for the Beatles sound.  When you listen to "Heartbeat" (it can  usually be found on collections of Holly's greatest hits) the listener will be shocked by how identical the sounds and rhythms are to the Beatles' early hits of the 60s.  In fact, the entire 'British Invasion' which was soon to follow, was recycled Buddy Holly music.  It is not a coincidence that John gave his group the moniker that he did.  The name Beatles was John paying homage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.  Throughout John's career in interviews, he always gave credit to Holly who died at age 22, as his main inspiration.  RZ

More CD Reviews

Posted on: 08/06/2010

    Wow, 2 more fabulous reviews came in today for our CD "Running Out Of Time".  This is sweet vindication for us and must be a bitter pill to swallow for those  so-called legal 'friends' who poo pooed our musical career  some years ago.  Check them both out for yourself at www.skopemag.com and www.musicemissions.com.  But a hearty thank you to all those who have supported these efforts and the American Cancer Society as well.  RZ

"Running Out Of Time" CD Review

Posted on: 08/04/2010

    We usually don't use the blog to blow our own horn, but we did read the following review today at www.indiemusicdigest.com written by Cyrus Rhodes.  "The music itself is an impressive blend of progressive rock with a slight 70's aftertaste with perhaps a splash of passionate folk.  Zweig's voice fills the sonic space peacefully & unobtrusively & is full of passion.  You will also catch brilliant flashes of bold honesty & a slight vulnerability in the music & lyrical content that simply can't be faked...  "Running Out Of Time" from Ric Zweig is a compelling catalogue of music...  The strong suit of this CD is the bold & painfully honest writing style of Ric Zweig.  I really admire artists out there that are themselves & just let the chips fall where they may.  Zweig is one of these brave artists.  It's a rare find to get this kind of snapshot or perspective from an artist.  Praise goes out to the ones that are brave enough to show us what's beneath their veil of vanity...  Zweig really makes the (singer to listener) vocal connection with his singing, songwriting & words & melodies that cut like a knife...  Everything you would expect from a classic rock statement."  We've taken the liberty not to reprint all of Mr. Rhodes' critique of my vocal style which was not particularly favorable, but all in all, we have to be mighty pleased and express sincere appreciation to Indie Music Digest and Cyrus Rhodes.  RZ

The Element Of Luck

Posted on: 08/01/2010

    In this week's blog we pose the question of how important luck is in determining who achieves success in the world of music.  It would be nice if sheer talent and hard work were the ingredients that  ultimately translated to financial success and the fame that accompanies it.  But reality suggests otherwise.   There are scores of examples of mediocre players having the good fortune of being in the right band at the right time.  I'll resist the temptation of naming a few.   More illustrative of the fickle finger of fate are stories of 2 brilliant musicians who, as of yet, have not had the good fortune to achieve the success they truly deserve.  First, Otis Taylor, a blues guitarist singer/songwriter born in Chicago around 1948.  Despite his obvious genius, Taylor spent much of his adult life working as an antiques dealer.  Go to the web and check out Otis Taylor and then listen to his incredible recording of "My Soul's In Louisiana".   Then please explain to me why he is not a star.  Secondly, the case of Robert Ward, another blues guitarist singer/songwriter born in Georgia in 1938.  Back in the day, Ward backed up Wilson Pickett.  But hardly a star was Robert Ward.  Once again, go the web and locate and listen to his unique genius in his original recording of "Your Love Is Amazing".  I found this cut on a compilation CD at the 'House Of Blues' in Las Vegas.  Robert Ward was 70 years of age when he passed away on Christmas day in 2008.  If anyone deserved a shot at the big time, it had to be Robert Ward.  He and Taylor were and are exceptionally gifted musicians, but the element of luck did not bless their careers in terms of popular mass acceptance.  Ward, a wise introspective and religious man, addressed this issue in his 10 minute blues masterpiece, "Whatever I Receive" from his 'New Role Soul' CD, with these lyrics:  "It might be mighty small you all, but I always try to say, I thank you Lord.  It might be just a little  grit, I thank you Lord for just a little bit.  It might be small as a grain of sand, the blessing is to have it in your hand".  And that sums it up so perfectly why so many of us play music, not for fame, not for money, but for the blessing to have it in your hand.  Ric Zweig  

Who Invented Rock 'n Roll?

Posted on: 07/24/2010

    This week we ask the question, who is most responsible for creating and bringing to the planet our beloved rock 'n roll?  The first name that pops into our head is Elvis Presley.  The Elvis phenomena exploded onto the landscape in 1956 with amazing suddenness.  It certainly would be fair to characterize Elvis as Rock's first great vocalist.  But he did not invent it.  The Elvis sound was created by a blend of his gospel country roots stirred violently by Scotty Moore's innovative guitar licks.  Elvis didn't write songs or play guitar in his early stardom.  His fame was achieved in part by covering other performers' tunes.  Examples would be "Long Tall Sally" and "Rip It Up" written by Richard Penniman, more well known as Little Richard and "Blue Suede Shoes" penned by Carl Perkins.  So Elvis as the creator is out.  How about Bill Haley?  Haley and his large ensemble group, The Comets, preceded Elvis and had a monster hit with "Rock Around The Clock" in 1955.  Haley might have planted the seed for the genre of Rock, but he hardly deserves credit for its invention.  Back to Little Richard, but he played piano.  Rock as we know it, is rooted in the electric guitar.  So we can't credit Little Richard or for that matter, Jerry Lee Lewis, whose piano playing antics and hard driving sound pushed the envelope significantly.  Fats Domino has to be considered as well, but again his New Orleans sound was piano driven.  Muddy Waters played electric guitar and he preceded all of the above, but his genre was blues along with guys like Jimmy Reed and Howlin' Wolf, who deserve much credit for influencing what was to come, but in my view, can't be given credit for Rock's invention.  Who then?  I will suggest 2 names.  First Buddy Holly.  Holly wrote his own material which for a white artist was unheard of at the time.  He sang lead and played both rhythm and lead guitar using a Fender Strat guitar.  This was totally unprecedented.  He also created the modern rock ensemble of drums, bass, guitar and vocals.  It's taken for granted today by every garage band in the world, but Buddy was the first to do this.  Holly was a prolific songwriter who did his own arranging and produced his own music.  No artist, black or white, did this before Buddy Holly.  So the argument for Buddy Holly seems pretty strong except for one other guy.  That would be, drum roll please, Chuck Berry who gets my nod as the artist most responsible for the invention of Rock.  Berry played a hollow-body Gibson guitar and invented a style of playing that has literally influenced tens of thousands of guitar players.  He wrote and sang all his own tunes and said it best in his break-thru crossover hit "Schooldays" with the lyric, 'rock rock rock 'n roll, never become the days of old'.  Without Chuck Berry, the landscape looks a whole lot different today.  OK, who did I leave out?  Let me know.  Be well.  RZ

Is Rap Dead Or Who Says There's No Good News

Posted on: 07/19/2010

    As Fats Domino once said, "Ain't That a Shame" in regard to rapper T-Pain's lament that sales are so bad these days that he's considering not releasing any more albums.  First of all if the esteemed Mr. Pain was a true artist the profit motive would be the least controlling factor in whether to release more albums.  Real artists paint, sculpt, create film or music, not in response to profit incentive, but rather as a need for creative expression.  Ah, but maybe Mr. Pain is on to something.  Could it be that the genres of rap, gangsta rap, and urban are not forms of creative expression at all, but rather expression only in its simplest form.  If this be the case, kudos and props to the millions of black kids, and the white kids who emulate them, for having grown weary of this form of expression and have simply stopped spending their cash on Pain and his cohorts.  How could this be?  Does this mean that artificial rhythm beats created by machines whose verbal message includes violence and hate, the accumulation of bling, the humiliation of women whose image is reduced to shaking booties (all right, I'll admit I sort of like the shaking booties) anti-semitism, anti-police, and anti-white has finally lost its appeal?  Have our kids actually figured out that art forms are supposed to evolve over time as opposed to the same old tired and repetitious ad nauseum message that never strays from the original?  If the answer is yes, and the trend appears to be in this direction, this may mark a turning point in our nation far more significant than at first glance.  A nation responds to its art.  The history of the 60s and 70s accurately proves this point.  If rappers can't sell their noise, they will be replaced by artists who have something to say and actually play musical instruments.  People will respond and be moved to action.  The times once again will be a changin', and that can only be good.  And the great and glorious African-American artists of yesteryear like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Billie Holliday, Mahalia Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, and of course James Brown will finally be able to rest in peace.  Well, that's my point of view.  Any responses out there?  RZ

Change On A Dime - Part 2

Posted on: 07/05/2010

    For the last 30 years, British rocker Brian Johnson has been the lead singer for the giant success band AC/DC.  But for 6 years before Johnson, AC/DC was led by a singer/songwriter who 'Classic Rock Magazine' voted the greatest frontman of all time.  I know what you're saying.  How about Robert Plant or Freddie Mercury or Mick Jagger or Bono?  Sorry, but I'll take Ronald Belford Scott, who achieved fame from 1974 to 1980 for AC/DC as Bon Scott.  Anyone who  has actually seen Scott perform either live or on video is likely to agree.  No one in the history of rock singers could match Bon Scott's combination of vocal power, range, and sheer animal magnetism.  Scott achieved every thing a young lad could dream of,  success, money, fame, women and never-ending admiration from millions of rock fans.   The world was Bon Scott's oyster.  But Scott had a weakness.  He liked to drink.  Not a little, but a lot.  The year was 1980.  The band was in London, putting the final touches on their soon to be released blockbuster, coincidently entitled "Highway To Hell".  On February 19th, after a long night of monsterous consumption of booze, Scott fell asleep in the back of a car.  Some theorized the engine was running when Scott passed out.  He never awoke.  The London coroner in his official report characterized the incident as 'death by misadventure'.  It was only a few weeks after Scott had written and recorded "Highway To Hell".   Bon Scott was 33.  After Scott's death,  AC/DC with Johnson now singing lead, released "Back In Black", a tribute to their fallen frontman.  Ultimately, it went on to become the second best selling album in history behind only, you guessed it, "Dark Side Of The Moon".  Bon Scott missed the party.  Death by misadventure.

Our Lives Can Change On a Dime

Posted on: 06/27/2010

    The inspiration for this week's blog is life on Planet Earth in late June, 2010.  A world deep in tragedy that makes it increasingly difficult to carve out a small slice of individual peace.  Wars, climate, oil on our beaches, bad economy - are realities that rob us of piece of mind and challenge us to seek a better life.  Music is one of the escapes we can all enjoy.  Over the last 50 years, the music world has seen its share of tragedy.  Premature passings of great talent rob us of the gifts these artists would have bestowed on the world.  Everyone knows the list.  Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Redding, Elvis, Holly, Lennon and so many others who passed before their time.  Today, I will begin 2 other stories that you may not be familiar with, filled with both irony and tragedy.                                          The time is the middle 60s, the place is Great Britain.  A young lad blessed with prodigious music ability sets out to make his mark in the music world.  He had no interest in being like the "Beatles" or the "Stones" or "Gerry & The Pacemakers" or the "Dave Clark Five".  The blues inspired music of the "Yardbirds" and so many others held no fascination for him.  He wanted to create a new genre of music that would be innovative, groundbreaking, and most of all intellectual.  His name was Syd Barrett.  With his talented bandmates, he quickly succeeded in his quest.  The critics and the fans could not get enough of this young genius, who wrote all the music and lyrics, and sang lead for the group.  He was compared to a modern day Mozart or Beethoven.  But then a strange thing happened.  Syd Barrett became severely mentally ill to such an extent that he was unable to function in any normal capacity.  The group was on the brink of international stardom.  Work had just begun on an album that would change the landscape of rock 'n roll.  Two lesser musicians in the group rose to the occasion, warmed to the task and ultimately created the most successful album in history.  Of course, the album was "Dark Side Of The Moon".  The band, created by Syd Barrett, was "Pink Floyd".  But Syd was completely oblivious to any of this.  And so he remained until finally passing away at age 50.  To the credit of David Gilmour and Roger Waters, royalties were paid to Syd until his death.  After the success of "Dark Side" the band entitled its next effort, "Wish You Were Here" dedicating the album in its entirety to Syd Barrett.  Part 2 of "Our Lives Can change On a Dime" will continue next week.  

7 Best Guitar Solos Of All Time

Posted on: 06/23/2010

    In this week's blog we share our opinion of the 7 most mind-blowing guitar solos of all time.  Coming in at number 7 is BB King's sweet effort in "The Thrill Is Gone".  Frankly, I've always been more of a fan of Freddie King and Albert King,  but BB had his game on for this big commercial hit.  At number 6 we have Dave Mason of "Traffic" fame with his searing pyrotechnics on Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower".  Many have covered this tune but Mr. Mason exceeds all others.  At number 5 we have Eddie Van Halen with his giant commercial hit "Jump".  Ever heard anybody try to cover this guitar solo.  Me neither.  It's short but totally off the chart.  Number 4 is a local player by the name of David Lagnado who used to play with "The Oski Foundation".  Those of you who have hung out at Tobacco Road on fridays know Oski as the DJ there.  In 2004, Oski and the boys recorded an original masterpiece called "Box".  You can find this tune for free at myspace.com/oskifoundation.  David's 45 second solo is what taste is all about.  Number 3 is Van Morrison, yes I said Van Morrison, with his sultry acoustic 50 second hypnotizer on "Hymns To The Silence".  I can listen to this a thousand times and still never get enough.  Number 2 is the legendary Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits frontman on their classic "Sultan Of Swing".  No words here, just listen.  And number one, drum roll please, is the amazing Scotty Moore.  Many of you are now saying, who's Scotty Moore.  SM played lead guitar on all of Elvis' early R&B classic hits.  The reason he is number 1 is that Scotty didn't copy, imitate, emulate or be inspired by other players.  No, Scotty Moore invented and played, for the first time, all those great rock 'n roll licks that we all take for granted.  He was the Da Vinci, the Ben Franklin, the Edison of guitar players.  The ultimate innovator.  Check his work out on Elvis' classic of "My Baby Left Me".  That's my opinion, but hey opinions are like rear ends.  Everybody's got one.  What's yours?


Posted on: 06/17/2010

    All of us have artistic influences dependent on a myriad of circumstances.  When I was younger attending Ithaca College in good old Ithaca, N.Y., my biggest literary influence was the German writer Hermann Hesse, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1947.  As my focus shifted to music, my influences as a musician centered on songwriters and guitar players.  Hendrix of course, Mark Knopfler, Robbie Robertson, Roy Buchanan, Lightnin' Hopkins, and of the modern day players, John Mayer stands out.  But the influences that probably shaped my own music were, have been, and continue to be, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan.  Dylan took the art of lyric writing to a never seen before level.  Not blessed with a great natural singing voice, the simplistic power of Dylan's lyrics overwhelmed the listener.  He left the listener with the impression, that he Dylan, had more insight into our world than any other artist with the possible exception of John Lennon.  I've tried to analyze why he was so effective in communicating his message.  One thing stands out.  He was perfect in enunciating his words so you did not have to wonder what he just said.  And just as you tried to digest one message, out came another even more cosmic in nature.  I try in my own recordings to make the lyrics understandable, taking a lesson from Dylan.  With Van Morrison, it is a combination of powerful lyrics with rich musical melody, delivered with a soulful voice that no other white artist can match.  Morrison's genius does not lend itself to my trying to write about it.  Instead, pick up his 1993 CD "The Best of Van Morrison Volume Two".  There are 3 works of art here that never get played on radio and most of you will be unfamiliar with.  First track number 5 entitled "A Sense Of Wonder", secondly track number l4 entitled "Hymns To The Silence" which is an almost 10 minute signature Morrison tune, but the real stroke of genius here is track number 9, which is a live recording of Morrison's poem, "Rave On".  Let me know what you think.  One final observation, there is another American songwriter who would have had the impact of Dylan and Morrison, had his life not been tragically cut short at age 21, namely Buddy Holly.  Love feedback, let's hear your opinion.   

Website constructed by Eric A. Dunlap Spread Firefox Affiliate Button