Friday, September 26, 2014

Open Letter To Live Music Venues

Dear venue owners and managers,

You may have noticed a decline in attendance, lower quality of music, and generally unappreciative performers. I feel your pain and have some suggestions for you so that you get the highest quality of music, more attendance, and happiness in your life.

We professional musicians--the humble, the great--know we are servants. We bring joy and soul to the darkest corners of downtown, and then shlep our axes through the back alleys.

Pay us.

That’s right! Monetary compensation for a service which we have trained for years to be able to provide. Some of us even went to school to better understand the magic that we bring. Do you understand how disheartening it is to watch the doorman go home with most of our cover?

Weed out the amateurs. We don’t mind.

Don’t feel you should pay lower quality musicians? We agree! Take a little time to make sure your acts are the real deal. Feel free to listen to the music. Look at our resumes. You are a curator.

Have a decent PA system.

If we bring our own PA, it might not be the best kind for your specific venue. We want to sound our best so people are comfortable STAYING. You want that too.

Feed us.

Musicians shouldn’t have to spend money to stay standing at a gig. It is common courtesy to provide food.

Don’t give us “drink tickets”.

It’s like giving an allowance to a 23 year old. It’s patronizing to 1) be paid in beer (Is that how you pay your bartenders?) and 2) have you assume we are gluttonous drunks.

Promote us.

We will do our fair share of promo, but unless you want us to only bring our friends and family (half of which will want to be on the guest list and none of which will return without us), do a little work. Get us on your website calendar (with a picture, mini-bio, and link to our website). Put up our flyer in your bathroom.

We have fans, but the steady working musician can’t be expected to bring them to every gig. I’m sure there are fans of your venue. Bring them out! What’s more, if you can build a reputation for always having amazing musicians, people won’t even care who is playing. They will show up.

Stop offering us “exposure”.

To what are you exposing us? Our own fans who we painstakingly convinced to come support us? Unless you have a large, built-in audience (e.g. a festival) that is there to see what great new act you have procured, “exposure” means nothing to us. NOTHING. (And if you are running a festival, you should be paying musicians anyway because that’s probably why people are there.)
Okay, take a deep breath. You are probably pretty angry right now and want to switch to Pay-to-Play just to spite us (if you haven’t already). We know that you are running a business. We are too. You need to make a profit. There are expenses. And unless you are happy with a noob garage band who will trash your lovely establishment or drink until horizontal because that is their only payment, we are one of those expenses. You have a right to expect excellence. We WANT to provide you with quality entertainment. We WANT people to keep ordering food and drink all night so they stay and watch us. We WANT to build a rapport with you. So please stop pushing us away by making gigging a miserable experience.

Treat us well and we will be your bards, your court jesters, and your geisha.

Because, remember, when you are counting on word of mouth, we hold the microphone.

With love,

A Working Class Musician 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014 Indian Larry Grease Monkey Block Party

New York City block parties are a summer staple in the Big Apple. Every weekend from May through October streets are blocked off in neighborhoods all over the city. Vendors and food carts line the curbs and hawk their wares to people strolling down the avenues, music and laughter bounce off buildings, and the scent of grilling meat and roasting peanuts wafts through the thick, humid air. Many street fairs are charity fundraisers; some celebrate holidays; others tout ethnic or religious groups and cultural events. But despite their distinctions they all share the most common block party traits: good food, good music, and great times. 

The annual Indian Larry Grease Monkey Block Party in the trendy Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is its own distinct animal. In addition to the flood of sensations described above, this street fair has something none of the others can boast: bikers. Thousands and thousands of bikes and bikers. It’s a loud, raucous affair; a mini one-day bike rally in Brooklyn. Folks ride into NYC from all over the tri-state area to revel in the middle of Union Avenue and celebrate the life and legacy of one of the most famous motorcycle fabricators in history. 

At the inaugural Grease Monkey Block Party in 2004, no one could have imagined it would be the only one Indian Larry himself would attend. Since his untimely passing later that year, his shop and legacy has been carried on by the husband-and-wife team of Elisa and Bobby Seeger Jr., who decided in true biker fashion to carry on with the street fair as Larry himself would have wanted. Eleven years later, the shop has moved down the street but the Indian Larry Grease Monkey Block Party is bigger and crazier than ever. 

Sponsored by Samuel Adams, this year’s rendition drew bikers from places as far flung as Ohio, Maine, and North Carolina – and that’s just what I gathered from jacket and vest patches. Yes, leather-clad clubs were in abundance – even Hells Angels NYC had a booth – but the Grease Monkey Block party is a fun event, attended by friends and families and without much of the tougher-than-thou attitude bike rallies can sometimes boast. To that end, it was striking how many of the revelers knew and seemed genuinely happy to see one another; sweaty, back-slapping bro hugs were as ubiquitous as throttle brrraaaaaps. 

The Meathead Factor is kept to a minimum at this mini-rally. The Indian Larry folks sold wristbands for entry into their warehouse, where a roast pig was splayed on a table and kegs of Sam Adams flowed freely among the bikes on lifts and shop tools that served mainly as end tables for red Solo cups. A tattoo artist inked for tips, and volunteers kept trash bags from overspilling. The weather outside was verging on fall-like, but under the fluorescent tubes of what’s normally a workspace the scene was cacophonic, sweaty, and extremely welcoming. 

Outside the warehouse, the booths were a mix of established brands like Metzeler, Led Sled Customs and Biltwell to independent vendors selling products from RSC (Really Cool S#!t) and Hipster Killer. Renowned artist Darren McKeag  was on hand to sell his paintings and do hand-lettering on bikes and helmets, and elsewhere patches were sewn on, subscriptions to biker mags were sold, and volunteers took turns sitting on the dunk tank – for charity, of course. 

In addition to celebrating the man for which the street fair is named, an underlying theme of the Indian Larry Grease Monkey Block Party is charity. Much of the action here supports the Aidan Jack Seeger Foundation, which assists families with providing information and newborn screening for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), an incurable disease that claimed the life of Elisa and Bobby’s own seven-year-old son in 2012. A West Coast Chopper was raffled off, as were helmets hand-lettered by McKeag and other artists, a silent auction took place, and all the proceeds went to benefit Aidan’s foundation. The feeling of charity surely contributes to the sense of family and community that pervades this event. If you can’t attend the Grease Monkey Block Party you can still help by visiting 

As the day wore on, the bands kept the block rockin’, even as the roast pigs were devoured and multiple kegs were killed inside Indian Larry headquarters. Bands like Iron Horse and Big House Pete were among those who entertained the crowd outside, while most of the revelers’ adoration was reserved for Grease Monkey mainstays Judas Priestess. The stage closed with War Horse, whose faithful Ramones impression was eerily on point and hilariously appropriate. The strains of “Blitzkrieg Bop” bouncing off the surrounding buildings as the sunlight faded and the last of the bikes thundered away was a perfect way to cap off the block party. 

But for those bikers who know, motorcycling in Brooklyn in late September is about way more than just the Indian Larry Block Party. The 6th Annual Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show drew hundreds to the Root gallery in Williamsburg on Saturday to view gorgeous works by the likes of Paul Cox, Jason Paul Michaels, and Roland Sands (who showed off a custom BMW as an attendee, not a competitor), just to name a few. And this week, the 2nd Annual Motorcycle Film Festival showcases the finest in moto-cinema at The Gutter, just up 14th St. from the Root. 

The shadows may be growing longer and the days may be getting shorter but as fall creeps into the Northeast, prime motorcycle season opens in New York City.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rickey Medlocke: Blackfoot, Skynyrd And Beyond

Rickey Medlocke (born February 17, 1950) is an American musician best known as the frontman/guitarist for the southern rock band Blackfoot. During his career he's also played with Lynyrd Skynyrd as a drummer (1970-71) before rejoining as a guitarist in 1996 where he continues to tour and record.

Being of Blackfoot ancestry, Medlocke was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Early life:

Rickey Medlocke was born on February 17, 1950, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was raised by his paternal grandparents. His grandfather, Shorty Medlocke, was a well-known Delta blues musician and taught his grandson to play a miniature banjo. Medlocke started performing onstage at age three, and his musical abilities increased over the years. He began teaching himself to play the guitar by age five and was playing drums in Shorty's band at age eight. Over the next several years Medlocke mastered the banjo, guitar, drums, mandolin, dobro and keyboards. He had a melodic singing voice and had taught himself to sing and play guitar at the same time. After graduating high school, Medlocke formed his first band, Blackfoot, where he was lead vocalist and lead guitarist.


Medlocke wrote and recorded shortly with the 70's era Lynyrd Skynyrd band occasionally playing drums or singing lead on a few songs for them in 1970: "One More Time", "Preacher's Daughter", "Lend a Helpin' Hand", "Wino", "White Dove", "Comin' Home", "The Seasons", "Ain't Too Proud to Pray" and You Run Around. On occasion, Medlocke played alongside the band's original drummer Bob Burns but came to desire the energy of a guitarist at the front of the stage. This resulted in his 1971 decision to reform Blackfoot. The band began touring and producing hit songs that included "Train Train", which was written by his grandfather, and "Highway Song", written by Rickey Medlocke and Blackfoot drummer Jackson Spires, amongst songs written by others. He disbanded the group in the early 1990s.

For a while in the 1990s, Medlocke thought about pursuing other careers until he received a phone call in 1996 from Gary Rossington inviting him to rejoin Lynyrd Skynyrd as a lead guitarist and primary songwriter. Rossington asked Medlocke if he remembered how to play "Free Bird", "Tuesday's Gone", and "Workin' For MCA", among others. Medlocke rejoined Skynyrd and has been a member since. Occasionally, Medlocke will step away from Skynyrd briefly to join musicians like Shooter Jennings on stage. He joined American Idol finalist Bo Bice on stage for a rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama" when the top three finalists from season four returned home.


With Blackfoot

No Reservations (1975)
Flyin' High (1976)
Strikes (1979)
Tomcattin (1980)
Marauder (1981)
Highway Song Live (1982)
Siogo (1983)
Vertical Smiles (1984)
Rick Medlocke And Blackfoot (1987)
Medicine Man (1990)
After the Reign (1994)
Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour (1999)

With Lynyrd Skynyrd

Street Survivors (1977) (drums & chorus on One More Time recorded during 1971-1972)
Skynyrd's First and... Last (1978) (contains early recordings from 1971 and 1972)
Skynyrd's First - The Complete Muscle Shoals Album (1996) (contains early recordings from 1971 and 1972)
Twenty (1997)
Lyve from Steel Town (1998)
Edge of Forever (1999)
Christmas Time Again (2000)
Vicious Cycle (2003)
Lynyrd Skynyrd Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour (2003)
God & Guns (2010)
Last of a Dyin' Breed (2012)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Acceptance as Giving

      Allowing Ourselves to Receive

By allowing ourselves to receive we are given the gift of seeing through another person's eyes.

Giving and receiving are part of the same cycle, and we each give and receive in our own ways. But we can lose our balance when we try to be too controlling on either side of the cycle. 

On the receiving end, we may feel that we don’t deserve the effort made if what we gave was easy for us to give. But perhaps there is a different lesson there for us. We may be receiving not only gratitude, but a chance to see the world through the eyes of another. 

We may be learning that just because we gave easily, it doesn’t diminish its value. Or perhaps the universe is giving us an example to hold close to our hearts, to encourage us on some future day when our own generous act of giving is not met with a visible act of receiving. 

When we can allow ourselves to receive as well as give, we do our part to keep the channels of abundance open for ourselves and others. 

Sometimes we may find ourselves struggling to respond to others’ gifts in the same ways—like responding to an expensive present with something equally expensive, or feeling like we have to throw a dinner party for someone who has thrown one for us. But when these are done out of a sense of obligation, their energy changes from something that shares to something that drains.

 If this sounds familiar, we can decide next time to allow ourselves to receive with arms, minds and hearts open and simply say thank you. 

Accepting a person’s gift is a gift in itself. Sincere appreciation for their acknowledgement and their effort joins our energy with theirs in the cycle of giving and receiving, and nurtures all involved. 

If ever we find we are still having difficulty, we can decide to allow ourselves to be conduits for gratitude and accept on behalf of a loving, giving universe. 

A gift for my dear friend Debi one of the finest persons ever in ny life. Grateful and am recieving your gift today!! Oy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Repressing the Inner Voice

Giving Away Power

We can avoid giving away our power on a daily basis by listening to our own voice of knowing.

In many ways, we are taught from the time we are children to give away our power to others. When we were told to kiss and hug relatives or friends of the family when we didn’t want to, for example, we were learning to override our inner sense of knowing and our right to determine for ourselves what we want to do. This repression continued, most likely, in many experiences at school and in situations at work. At this point, we may not even know how to hold on to our power, because giving it away is so automatic and ingrained. 

To some degree, giving our energy to other people is simply part of the social contract, and we feel that we have to do it in order to survive. It is possible to exchange energy in a way that preserves our inner integrity and stability. This begins in a small way: by listening to the voice that continues to let us know what we want, no matter how many times we override its messages. 

Other examples of how we give away our power are buying into trends, letting other people always make decisions for us, not voting, and not voicing an opinion when an inappropriate joke is made. But with not giving our power away we must also be aware of the opposite side, which is standing in our power but being aggressive. Being aggressive is a form of fear, and the remedy is to let our inner balance come back into play. 

As we build a relationship with our power, and follow it, we begin to see that we don’t always have to do what we’re being asked to do by others, and we don’t have to jump on every trend. All we have to do is have the confidence to listen to our own voice and let it guide us as we make our own decisions in life and remember the necessity for balance. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

1971 Harley FLH By Jamesville

James Roper-Caldbeck builds some of the coolest vintage Harleys around. And he’s a long way from Milwaukee—four thousand miles away, to be precise, in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

James’ specialty is traditional bobbers: clean, low-slung machines with an appealing retro vibe. He’s finally getting the recognition he deserves, with a coveted place in The Brooklyn Invitational show later this month.

You’d be hard pressed to tell, but this FLH is actually a budget build. “Jens, my client, came to me asking for a bike similar to David Beckham’s Knuckle, built by the Garage Company.” There was just one small problem—Jens was on a Budget.

“As we all know, in the world of vintage Harley-Davidson, shit is getting really expensive,” says James. “Especially when you start mentioning the words Knuckle, rigid frame and springer.”

James suggested a different direction. One option was to use a late Shovelhead Electra Glide, and when Jens saw some examples, he was excited again.

The project started with a 1971 FLH shovelhead that had been repainted in a bright blue. “Otherwise it was in extremely original condition,” James notes, “right down to all the factory hardware, like the nuts and bolts. That’s rare.”

Mechanically, things were pretty good. The engine and transmission had already been rebuilt and the S&S carb looked new, so James’ main job was to install a new electrical system. He also got rid of the huge battery box: “After finding the smallest battery possible, I then chopped the original box down and used a Sportster battery cover.”

The tank is from a Danish SCO moped, and something of a signature item on Jamesville builds. After adding the mounting tabs and a new petcock bung, James made a new aluminum gas cap to replace the original plastic one. (“I don’t like plastic.”) The rear fender is from a Super Glide, which James chopped. “I then welded the tail closed, and installed two marker lights as the taillights.”

He’s installed 19’’ Akront aluminum rims front and back, and covered them with 400-19 Excelsior Comp-H tires with a classic European three-block tread pattern. (“I was told they were used on British racing cars in the 30s.”)

James admits to having misgivings when he started the build—he’d never built a custom bike using a swingarm frame before. “The hardest and most important job on these bikes is getting the stance right. That’s true with all bikes, but with a swingarm, stuff is moving…”

I’d say James got the stance just right. There’s a late 60s muscle car feel to this FLH, helped by the red leather tuck n’ roll seat. The racing stripes paintjob subtly amps up the vintage vibe, and the twin rear lights look like they’ve been lifted straight off a ’68 Charger.

If you’re within shouting distance of NYC, head over to the sixth annual Brooklyn Invitational on September 20. A Customs From Jamesville ’49 Panhead will be on show, alongside machinery from other Bike EXIF favorites like Walt Siegl, Dime City Cycles and Scott Jones of Noise Cycles.

If that’s a little to far to travel, head over to the Customs From Jamesville site to see more of James’ work.

Article by Bike EXIF
1971 Harley FLH by Jamesville |