It’s been a busy few weeks for those who love their flicks with a heavy dose of music relevance. well, its no secret that we love our rock docs and our biopic movies especially when they’re about subjects that we hold dear. When we saw a glut of watchable music-related movies we just had to pick up the popcorn and sit back and wait for the action. This roundup is of four movies that have just been released or are about to hit the high street on DVD and we begin with punk Rock n Roll Royalty none other than Stiv Bator. We’d interviewed the maker and reviewed the soundtrack so it would be rude not to give our take on the much-anticipated movie ‘Stiv’: No Compromise, No Regrets.
Stiv: No Compromise, No Regrets (Weinerworld)
Now I know there are a lot of opinions (sure everyone has one) but we have to agree that any Stiv movie no matter where you stand on how good it is is better than NO movie about Stiv right?
Sure it would have been nice had The Likes of Brian James, Michael Monroe or Cheetah included but they have to agree and signed off their involvement and they didn’t so should the film not be made? does it fall without their inclusion? Hell no – on with the show kids. there were plenty of pivitol people who did agree and thats what makes ‘Stiv’ a really well-researched movie and the inclusion of some decent footage I’d not seen before made it a must see.
Sure there is other footage out there that might have worked well and it might not have taken too much to get it included but thats for nerds to bicker over and that’s the beauty of debate. This is one man’s movie and that’s it, I might have done it differently as would the next big Stiv fan but the general consensus is that it’s a good movie and one that is clearly done with much love and respect, oh, and the soundtrack isn’t too shabby either (lets not mention the lack of lords songs, etc etc this wasn’t a bottomless money pit of a project).
whilst time plays tricks with the memory and the old grey matter might not be what it used to be there are a few things I noticed when watching this movie back. One, Stiv as funny engaging and likable as he might be – he always put Stiv first second and third when entering a music project. He’d use the bands as a vehicle for Stiv and when it was time to move on he would (the wanderers, Dead Boys, Lords).
Maybe there could have been a little more in-depth look at his time in Dead Boys and the timeline could have been clearer but that’s nitpicking because I also appreciate this film in order to appeal to a wider audience has to fit into a certain length restraint otherwise it would be volume 1 volume two etc. I love the talking heads all speaking fondly of the guy and his contribution to music especially tales from the likes of Dave Tregunna and the punk and post-punk scene Stiv was a rare talent, his legacy is a back catalogue of quite exceptional music from the solo stuff he was working on just before he died through the Bomp stuff and The Dead Boys ’77 punk. Stivv had the midas touch and didn’t make any bad records (not in my eyes anyway) we can argue about the more experimental side of the Lords as they developed from the Punk Rock and Roll of the first album through the more experimental poppier ‘Is Nothing Sacred’ and then the rock of ‘Methods’.
Stiv is a really enjoyable rounded movie of one of Rocks real characters whos talent is understated and often misunderstood it looks great on the TV and I’m grateful it’s been made. It took quite a while but now it’s here embrace it. there is extra footage, in fact, there are twenty minutes of extras. to please everyone I guess a movie would need to be about four hours long with another three hours of bonus material. Lets not split hairs over what’s not here let’s celebrate what is here. thanks, Danny and Chip Baker films for Stiv now go pick up a copy asap.
“Thrashing Thru The Passion” set for release on Aug 16 via Frenchkiss Records
The Hold Steady are releasing their new album, ‘Thrashing Thru The Passion’ , via Frenchkiss Records on Friday, August 16. The Hold Steady’s seventh studio album is available now for pre-order. Fans can also receive access to exclusive album bundles, including such extras as limited edition clear vinyl, poster, lithograph and enamel pin set. All pre-orders will come with a free download of the new song, “Denver Haircut,” which is also available now at all DSPs.
Thrashing Thru The Passion collects five new songs recorded this year alongside five acclaimed ones released digitally between November 2017 and March 2019. The album was recorded at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY with producer Josh Kaufman and engineer D. James Goodwin. Additional performers include Stuart Bogie, Dave Nelson, Jordan McLean and Michael Leonhart on horns and Annie Nero on backup vocals.
“I’ve been saying for a few years now – since Franz (keyboardist) came back- that this six piece lineup of The Hold Steady is the best band we’ve ever been,” says Finn. “The new songs recorded by this version of the band are super exciting to us. It’s been a very fun and creative period for The Hold Steady.”
The Hold Steady will celebrate Thrashing Thru The Passion with “Constructive Summer 2019,” a series of live show weekends across the United States. These weekends take place in Seattle, WA’s The Crocodile (August 15-17), Chicago, IL’s Thalia Hall and Empty Bottle (August 22-24), Nashville, TN’s Basement East (September 5-7), Boston, MA’s The Sinclair (September 12-15), and the fourth annual “Massive Nights” event at NY’s Brooklyn Bowl (December 4-7). For complete details and ticket information, please visit www.theholdsteady.net/#shows.
The Hold Steady is: Bobby Drake (drums), Craig Finn (vocals), Tad Kubler (guitar, vocals), Franz Nicolay (keyboards), Galen Polivka (bass), and Steve Selvidge (guitar, vocals).
# # #
THE HOLD STEADY LIVE SHOWS 2019
15-17 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
22 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
23 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle – SOLD OUT
24 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall – SOLD OUT
5-7 – Nashville, TN – Basement East
12-15 – Boston, VA – The Sinclair
4-7 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl – (December 7 SOLD OUT)
Bath based power pop loons Ulysses have been delivering quirky, glam-slam slices of noise for many years now. With more facial hair than a cave full of cavemen and a wardrobe half-inched from Huggy Bear, they have produced 3 albums of vintage noise steeped equally in both 70’s nostalgia and Brit Pop goodness. You see, these fun loving chaps owe as much to the likes of Super Furry Animals and Supergrass as they do to heroes like Bowie and Bolan. And it’s a good mix of influences that shine through to make their fourth long player ‘On Safari’ a fantastic ride from start to finish.
Check out the cover art by the wonderful Caitlin Mattisson for starters. Lions, giant snakes and a hot medieval babe with 8 arms and a broadsword….fair play, I’m sold on that alone! Let’s hope the music is up to it too.
And of course it is, Ulysses does not disappoint. Opener ‘Looking For A Guru’ sets the scene with a glitter-coated, platform boot stomp. What sounds like a sitar introduces the song that rides on a catchy refrain over big beats, handclaps and Paul Stanley helium vocals. It’s more 70’s than a packet of Spangles and twice as sweet. A glorious album opener.
The following funky, yet spunky ‘Doctors And Nurses’ out-foxes Foxy Shazam. Sirens wail and sweet vocals harmonise the intro. Tongue-in-cheek lyricism and double-entendres are rife. Its disco groove shouts Scissor Sisters, while its wailing guitar outro shouts Kiss, what’s not to like here? A total contrast to the opener, yet still in tune with their retro sound.
These boys have a handful of singles on offer for you too. “For those about to rock…for those about to roll’ drawls the singer over sloppy, cool riffs and cowbell accompaniment on the fantastic ‘Bad Tattoo’. The following ‘Dragons’ is full of instant, quirky melodies and fuzzy guitars, coming on like the perfect mash-up of Weezer and the Super Furries. Whether it’s actually about dragons is debatable, what’s not debatable is that it was the perfect single choice.
They veer into classic sounding 60’s pop territory and make it sound so effortless. ‘This Useless Love’ has Beach Boys/Everly Brothers vibes and ‘She’ is a glorious slab of 60’s pop with urgent beats, killer vocal harmonies and ripping guitar solos, coming on like Kula Shaker at their finest.
The trippy, prog fest that is ‘Situation Man’ is out there maaan! A full on Hammond organ jam out and elsewhere, ‘Fuzzy Lion’ mixes up a ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ drum beat with Silver Sun vocalisin’ in the most sublime of ways.
‘Let’s Move’ prove that Giuda and Biters aren’t the only cool cats to channel Thin Lizzy and Slade all in one double denim-clad 3-minute pop hit or two. Even the reggae-infused mid-section breakdown can’t detract from their ability to create songs that should be on 7 inch and riding high in the hit parade, pop pickers. Killer tuneage!
It’s no surprise that singer Luke Smyth has seemingly morphed into a young Jeff Lynne. Check out the likes of ‘Married Woman’ and the eccentricity of closer ‘Calendar Street’ with its immense ELO layered harmonies climax. I even had to YouTube and Google ‘Why Aren’t These People My Friends’ just to be sure, as I feel like I should already know it… I don’t and it’s ace!
It may be raining outside, but Ulysses bring the sunshine to your stereo with their new long player ‘On Safari’. I didn’t think they made the sort of drugs that could inspire this sort of music anymore, maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it’s just the Bath water (sic). But Ulysses has created a trippy, hippie-fied, love-fest of an album. A soundtrack to the summer we have yet to experience. And certainly one of the most entertaining albums you will hear this year.
Detroit High Energy rock at its purest essence!!!! Niagara (DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) & Ron Asheton (THE STOOGES) among other great Detroit musicians recorded this killer album back in 1996.
And now it is finally reissued on vinyl with 2 added tracks to the original vinyl release, remastered in order to get its purest sound, and new artwork courtesy of Mrs. Niagara Detroit and Mr. Colonel Galaxy.
And guess what…. This is an extension of Destroy All Monsters with absolutely killer guitars in line with The Stooges´ “Funhouse” with the unique stamp and signature of Mr. Ron Asheton.
10 classic shots which need to be in your record collection right by The Stooges, Destroy All Monsters, MC5, Sonic´s Rendezvous Band, Radio Birdman, The New Christs, Bored!
I can’t vouch for how improved the sonic assault is compared to the original because I never owned the original slab of wax and digital is a whole different ball game especially if your listening on a PC but I can vouch that it’s not muddy in fact it’s positively bright in the mix department Niagras voice is as seductive and sinister as ever and has a dark quality that sounds dangerous and then you throw Ashetons guitar soloing into the mix and you have a potent force to be reckoned with. Just listen to ‘Heaven Can Wait’ in the dark and loud and you’ll get the point. I love Ron’s guitar work on ‘Bang’ he’s really Rockin it out and the absence of any low end makes for interesting listening.
I love the boredom and fuck you attitude of ‘Good Morning, Headache’ and ‘The Last Great Ride’ is epic and the perfect way to end this collaboration and the guitar work gives me goosebumps with the solos absolutely killing it. with only 500 copies of this pressed it won’t be long before this becomes rare as hen’s teeth so time is of the essence and you can’t say you haven’t been warned. Get it!
New York Rock and Roll Gang by way of Adelaide – Women Of The Night are in fact not women at all. Imagine That? They turn up at the office with their psychedelic-tinged garage rock schtick and we drop it on the virtual turntable and whig the fuck out!
From the opener ‘I Am Well And Missing You’ is a tasty opener and we get down with that then they kinda drop some blues and the title track is a soundscape of swirling guitars and synth effects whilst the vocals are dripping in reverb like the 60s Frisco thing never happened, man.
There are thirteen songs on offer here and they tend to drift from full-on psychedelic rock to atmospheric sons and to be fair the straighter rock and roll tunes tend to work better for me. Songs like ‘Moscow Mansions’ are slightly trippy pop songs with a ’60s vibe for sure that’s heightened by that keyboard synth sound ala Doors. The intriguing ‘Leather Glove’ is good and ‘Brighton Beach’ sounds like its been here before in another life.
I can smell the incense and petunia oil on ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ as it lays back and just chills the fuck out. ‘Quiet Night’ and then ‘Regular Days’ could easily soundtrack a desert black and white road movie A touch of Nick Cave recorded on the East Coast with a West Coast vibe a real Jekyll and hide night and day going on here but never going full freak out and staying quite conservative for the most part throughout the record.
‘Bad Tee Vee’ is like a trippy Tom Waits experiment (and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure if this were the sixties early ’70s a certain Warhol would have loved having these cats drop by the loft and chill with the Undergrounds it’s that kinda experiment and whilst it won’t make my top 10 ends of year list I’ve enjoyed the trip guys no question and we need to step out of our comfort zone sometimes.
Over the last year I’ve followed a platform set up by Nick Cave called The Red Hand Files, and it’s been an interesting experience. Reading and Understanding the reasons why, for an artist to be thinking about connecting and engaging with an audience across not just the social media world, but through the use of an interactive forum where you can, as a fan ask anything??? How many artists would even consider laying themselves bare, responding with experiences, thoughts and observations on the world.
Take that premise one step further and that’s where tonight comes in, one of a series of interactive events across Europe, where the audience can stand ask questions and garner a response interspersed with radical re-workings of a selection of songs from what is a diverse back catalogue, some requested by the audience. I mean that has to be a recipe for disaster right? Absolute carnage? Awkward? At the very least!
These tickets were as rare as rocking horse shit, every date selling out within minutes of going online, but I managed to grab a couple so on with the show.
Opening bang on 7.30 lights went down to the intro of “Steve Mcqueen” and the first song of the night “God is in the House”, you could have heard a pin drop, sadly that didn’t stay the way throughout the night as the two arse-holes sat behind me decided they would talk through any question they weren’t interested in. Note to self, next time,hit the fcker!!! you can justify it!!! Which is what I felt like doing.
If your going to an acoustic style performance, where you have audience participation at its fore, its not the sort of event to turn up and get pissed at, stay at home watch Britain’s got talent, then pass out pissed on the sofa as you most likely do every Saturday, don’t inflict yourself on people who are there for the music and the experience.
Moving out of the song the house lights go up and we’re into the conversational part of the evening, what hit me was this though of connection, as people shared their stories, a connection established with the artist, some points didn’t need an answer just the telling moving people forward, we had stories around Illness, depression, anxiety, loss and grief. I suppose where the Red Hand files first came from, but we also had from Nick views on addiction, Heroin, Musical and Literary influences, and personal grief. Was there a two-way connection? I’m not so sure.
As the night moved on it followed the format song/songs, Questions and repeat, with the house lights going up and down accordingly, for yours truly I think I would have preferred a split show, with an audience participation section followed by an intermission followed by the piano-based re-workings of a full set, but that’s just me.
Songs wise there were some real gems, West Country Girl, Jubilee Street, Love Letter, Avalanche (Leonard Cohen Cover), The Mercy Seat, Palaces of Montezuma (Grinderman), Papa won’t leave you Henry, The Weeping Song, Brompton Oratory, Into my Arms and The Ship Song.
I’ve never attended this sort of event before, approached it with an open mind and really enjoyed the night, apart from the two clowns behind me! It makes you realize that whether we realize it or not we form a connection with the artists we listen too, they become part of the fabric that forms our lives sometimes staying with us for a lifetime, but what happens to the artist? Do they need to reach out and connect with the audience, chameleon-like changing their sound as the audience changes and the world moves on? A realization of the impact they are having not just on an unknown individual, but an unknown collective? Interesting stuff.
THE SHAKING SENSATIONS TO RELEASE ‘HOW ARE WE TO FIGHT THE BLIGHT?’ ON 4th OCTOBER
Copenhagen-based instrumental 5-piece THE SHAKING SENSATIONS are finally back with a follow up to their critically acclaimed 2013 album Start Stop Worrying. October 4th will see the release of ‘How Are We To Fight The Blight?’ via Pelagic Records,an album that has been 6 years in the making.
THE SHAKING SENSATIONS have expanded the classic post-rock constellation by addition of a second drummer, allowing the band to develop a unique approach to the rhythm section and a fresh and unconventional take on instrumental rock music. During 4 extensive European tours, the band have shared the stage with acts such as Caspian, And So I Watched You From Afar and Russian Circles, and have worked with Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Russian Circles), who also laid down additional synths on Start Stop Worrying.
Then in 2013, the band went on hiatus. “It wasn’t that we felt like we’d broke up or that we parted after disagreements, but more like the circle was fulfilled, that we didn’t have more to contribute with. The three previous releases were kind of worriless, innocent and circled around themes such as life, death, being young, growing up, accepting things as they evolve and unfold. Quite simple and maybe, a bit nostalgic and probably naive”, comments Jeppe Nygaard Christensen.
‘How Are We To Fight The Blight?’ displays a band that has lost this innocence, in favour of reflection, growth and maturity… and yet fresh, dedicated and honing their craft. When the band members came back together, after a lengthy phase of focusing on other aspects of life outside of music, everyone came to the conclusion, collectively and individually, that they wanted to bring this band back to life.
Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Dogrel’ (#9 in the UK album chart) as well as a sold out US tour with labelmates IDLES, an electrifying performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and yet another BBC 6 Music A listing for their fan-favourite single ‘Boys In The Better Land’; Fontaines D.C. have now shared a new video for album track ‘Sha Sha Sha’.
Directed by Hugh Mulhern (Boys In The Better Land, Too Real) the video takes place in the same circus company (Duffy’s) as featured on their critically-acclaimed debut album ‘Dogrel’s artwork.
23 JUN 2019 / NL / Amsterdam / Loose Ends
24 JUN 2019 / CR / Zagreb / INmusic Festival
26 JUN 2019 / UK / Eden Project / Eden Sessions
(supporting Liam Gallagher)
29 JUN 2019 / UK / Glastonbury Festival
04 JUL 2019 / FR / Chavanches / Les Eurockeennes
05 JUL 2019 / ES / Vilanova i la Geltrú / VIDA Festival
06 JUL 2019 / RU / Saint Petersburg / Stereoleto
07 JUL 2019 / RU / Moscow / Bol Festival
11 JUL 2019 / BE / Dour / Dour Festival
13 JUL 2019 / UK / Glasgow / TRNSMT Festival
14 JUL 2019 / UK / London / Citadel Festival
19 JUL 2019 / NL / Nijmegen / Valkhof Festival
20 JUL 2019 / FR / Carhaix-Plouguer / Les Vieilles Charrues
25 JUL 2019 / CH / Nyon / Paleo Festival
26 JUL 2019 / UK / Oxford / Truck Festival
27 JUL 2019 / UK / Rainton / Deer Shed Festival
28 JUL 2019 / UK / Pikehall / Y Not Festival
02 AUG 2019 / IE/ Waterford / All Together Now
04 AUG 2019 / CA / Montreal, QC / Osheaga Festival
08 AUG 2019 / NO / Oslo / Oya Festival
09 AUG 2019 / DE / Haldern Pop Festival
11 AUG 2019 / IT / Sicily / Ypsigrock festival
15 AUG 2019 / FR / Saint-Malo / La Route du Rock festival
1 SEP 2019 / UK / Wiltshire / End of The Road Festival
06 SEP 2019 / US / Brookyn, NY / Music Hall Of Williamsburg+ SOLD OUT!
07 SEP 2019 / US / Philadelphia, PA / Johnny Brenda’s+ SOLD OUT!
08 SEP 2019 / US / Boston, MA / Great Scott+ SOLD OUT!
11 SEP 2019 / US / Washington, DC / U Street Music Hall+
12 SEP 2019 / US / Columbus, OH / Ace of Cups+
13 SEP 2019 / US / Toronto, ON / Horseshoe Tavern+
14 SEP 2019 / US / Detroit, MI / El Club+
15 SEP 2019 / US / Chicago, IL / Lincoln Hall+
17 SEP 2019 / US / Minneapolis, MN / 7th Street Entry+
20 SEP 2019 / US / Vancouver, BC / Fox Cabaret+ SOLD OUT!
21 SEP 2019 / US / Portland, OR / Mississippi Studios+
22 SEP 2019 / US / Seattle, WA / Neumo’s+
24 SEP 2019 / US / San Francisco, CA / The Independent+
26 SEP 2019 / US / Los Angeles, CA / Teragram Ballroom+
27 SEP 2019 / US / Dana Point, CA / Ohana Festival+
01 NOV 2019 / ES / Madrid / Chango
02 NOV 2019 / ES / Barcelona / Razzmatazz 3
04 NOV 2019 / DE / Cologne / Gebäude 9
05 NOV 2019 / DE / Berlin / Bi Nuu
07 NOV 2019 / BE / Brussels / Botanique
08 NOV 2019 / NL / Amsterdam / Bitterzoet
10 NOV 2019 / FR / Paris / Le Bataclan
11 NOV 2019 / FR / Nantes / Stereolux
19 NOV 2019 / UK / Manchester / O2 Ritz
20 NOV 2019 / UK / Liverpool / O2 Academy
21 NOV 2019 / UK / Glasgow / SWG 3
22 NOV 2019 / UK / Leeds / Stylus
23 NOV 2019 / UK / Sheffield / Leadmill
25 NOV 2019 / UK / Birmingham / O2 Institute
26 NOV 2019 / UK / Oxford / O2 Academy
27 NOV 2019 / UK / London / O2 Forum
28 NOV 2019 / UK / Brighton / Concorde 2
30 NOV 2019 / UK / Bristol / SWX
1 DEC 2019 / UK / Southampton / The 1865
7 DEC 2019 / IRE / Dublin / Vicar Street SOLD OUT!
8 DEC 2019 / IRE / Dublin / Vicar Street EXTRA DATE
10 JAN 2020 / UK / Newcastle / O2 Academy
11 JAN 2020 / UK / Nottingham / Rock City
Thanks for checking out my little corner of the Internet again. There really are no rules or expectations of what I am going to do here. Immediately after completing my first one though, this piece started writing itself in my head. It’s also shifted back and forth a bit during that time. The Wildhearts recently released their latest studio album ‘Renaissance Men,’ and it is quite simply a monster of an album. It is a serious album of the year contender with its 10 mostly compact songs reminding us of those albums of yesterday that did not waste time and placed an emphasis on all killer, no filler. That album served as the inspiration for the topic here- the stigma of mental illness.
Completing the first half of the album, ‘Diagnosis’ finds the band making a powerful statement that cannot be heard enough. The album has been on constant rotation, and that song kept nudging me to emphasize it for anyone that carries a mental health diagnosis with them. Coincidentally, I also saw a study by Record Union which indicated 73% of independent musicians suffered from some form of mental illness (https://www.the73percent.com/). I do not believe this is by any means a new phenomenon, but there has thankfully been much more awareness raised now. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be destroyed. People are NEVER a diagnosis. I do not care if it is a physical health condition or a medical health condition. Labels have genuine consequences.
‘You are not your diagnosís
You’re not that prescription in your hand
You are not your diagnosís
Simplified for them to understand’
(Ginger Wildheart, The Wildhearts, ‘Diagnosis’ from their latest album ‘Renaissance Men’)
I have worked in behavioral health for many years and have seen remarkable changes taking place within the field which are innovative and produce remarkable results. I remember the first time the clinic I where I worked brought a Peer Support Specialist (PSS) on board. We only had one, and there was some definite ignorance among the clinical team as for the first few days there was an unsaid belief that the PSS probably should not work with someone in crisis because it could cause the PSS to also go into crisis. I am very happy to report this belief was eradicated within about a week because we experienced the power of peer support. Clinically, we had failed to connect with the person, but this approach was remarkably powerful. In the not too distant past, I introduced a Peer Support Specialist to an inpatient psychiatric unit where the concept was entirely new.
“The stigma I experienced working in that facility has permeated through my recovery story. Before I reached wellness, people were telling me that my reality wasn’t true. Throughout my journey, having friends and loved one’s back away. Now in my profession as a Peer Specialist, being denied opportunities to help someone because it would “trigger a crisis” in myself according to their opinion. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my past. I am a person. My name is Jessi.” Jessi Davis, MHPS RSPS Transition Age Youth Coordinator Via Hope
I have been fortunate that I worked in a system that celebrated strengths and meeting people where they are. It inspired a passion for me in my career to always try to do everything I can to make this world a better place. Some days are more successful than others. I have heard and seen horrific stories. I have heard and seen beautiful acts of love, empathy, support, resilience, and recovery.
I know that I never liked the task in school when I was asked to identify 3 strengths or things I liked about myself. I think it has become much easier with time, but I honestly do not know if it is because of the experiences I collected on my way to adulthood or some other reason. Parts of my adolescence were awful, and it didn’t change until I was well into my 20’s. I also know though I was extremely lucky and fortunate in many ways, especially in that I found coping mechanisms that worked for me. Music spoke to me and was my escape from the challenges I experienced. I also began writing in a journal, and, while they were initially song lyrics, my limitations in musical talent (having none) meant that these would become essentially poetry, even if that wasn’t what I wanted to call it due to preconceived stereotypes about my role in this world as a man and how we are trained to guard our feelings. My darkness I felt when I was younger had outlets- healthy outlets.
Along the way in my career, I was presented with an exciting opportunity. Despite having no behavioral health diagnosis, I had the opportunity to attend a two week Peer Support Training class as part of my orientation for a job. Part of the training is the Peer Support Specialist being able to share their story in a way that inspires hope and resiliency. It was scheduled for about the middle of the training, and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of being in the class that day. I felt like I was an outsider and was betraying my classmates trust in some way. On the second or third day, I said something to one of my classmates during a break. This came out later that day in class, and our instructor told me he was sure I would have a story to share. Sure enough, I was annoyed that we only had 10 minutes to share as I felt it was not nearly enough time. While I have never experienced some of the things my classmates had, I had experienced similar emotions, similar moments in my life, and was moved by the stories I heard. Those two weeks have been extremely inspirational in my career. I have worked with others who have also received that training, and the power and energy these individuals radiate with afterward are contagious.
Turning this back to the song ‘Diagnosis’ and what inspired this, people are never just one thing. If you take 60 seconds and write down everything you are, I am sure you will have quite a list. It might start with father, son, husband, supervisor and then it gets really interesting as we drill down even deeper into what makes us who we are. To label someone as a disease takes away everything else they are. I have been fortunate to work with a CEO who frequently serves to remind others of this and has inspired significant changes in organizations across multiple States on this side of the pond with his approach. He also plays to people’s strengths and understands that you meet the person where they are in their reality, which can be quite challenging for some staff. Whatever the person is experiencing is what is real to them, if that is not validated, what reason does the person have to trust you?
If you watch the evening news, scroll Facebook or Twitter, pick up a newspaper after a horrific event, you will be hit hard with the power of stigma as people are quickly labeled or assumed to be (fill in the derogatory word that comes to your mind). What word was it for you? How did that become your conditioned response? Statistics over the years have demonstrated that individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.
While I am not writing this to dig out all of those reasons why that might happen, I believe addressing the stigma of mental illness can help serve as a catalyst for change. If people felt like they could discuss what they were feeling and experiencing without the negative responses and shame, I believe it would begin to make differences, even if the ripple of change is small. Several of them become larger and a wave can form with enough of them. It starts with each of us though. We interact with people on a constant basis in our lives. We do not know what most of them are experiencing or have gone through in the moments before we see them, earlier that day, earlier in their lives. We often get one snapshot of that person. In my worst moments, I would not want someone to take that as being all I am.
When I look at the artists whose lyrics have hit me in the heart and soul the hardest, it is the likes of Frank Turner, Ginger Wildheart, Tyla, and others who articulate so clearly many of the thoughts that have passed through my brain over the years. Many of their songs have become personal anthems that inspire me when I need them. They inspire resiliency and let me know my brain is not really that strange in those weak moments. Turner’s ‘Get Better’ Being a powerful anthem for many and a reminder that we can always get better as people as long as we are still breathing.
Thinking about this topic has also given me a reason to really take a look across several parts of my collection with various albums immediately coming to mind that has connections to this blog. If we travel back in time to 1978 when I was just a boy, Alice Cooper unleashed ‘From the Inside’ which was conceptually based around his stay in a psychiatric hospital of the time.
The ballad ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’ has always been one of my favorite Alice ballads, and I have really enjoyed the lyrical depth to it that became apparent as I got older. Titus Andronicus released ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’ in 2015 and shared the story of someone dealing with symptoms related to bipolar disorder over the course of a rock-opera with the band releasing one segment of the story as a music video that portrays someone receiving services in an institution.
Stand Atlantic released a music video for their song ‘Lavender Bones’ in 2018 which show their singer being treated the same as everyone else and being taught to think and act the same way. She breaks free from the authority in the video, and, to me, celebrates the character she is playing by showing all of the different sides to who she is as a person through all of the colors she uses in her painting (my interpretation).
Ginger Wildheart has been very open with the challenges he experiences and their impact on him. Between Twitter, his music, his charitable actions, and even negative incidents, he has let fans have a window into a world that would not have been seen decades earlier before the rise of social media. Ginger Wildheart has albums such as ‘Ghost in the Tanglewood’ and ‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ that really speak to the insecurities and dark emotions that we experience and provide catharsis. He has also addressed these experiences in specific songs over the years as well such as ‘The Order of the Dog’ and personal favorite ‘Drive.’ Ginger was recently on “Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon” with Alan Niven talking about their recent suicide attempts and mental health care. Here is a link to the show:
Wade Bowen is a red dirt singer/ songwriter based here in Texas who has a discography of amazing albums, and he has never backed away from singing about person topics that have affected both him and his family, such as his song about post-partum depression ‘Turn on the Lights.’ He recently released a piece on YouTube that addresses his own recent struggle with a physical illness as well as the suicide of his nephew who was also a member of their team. While Bowen and the team continue to process their grief, it serves as another reminder to eliminate the stigma that keeps this topic from being discussed. Here is a link to ‘Inconsistent Chaos.’
Another band that served me extremely well back in my late teens when I felt mentally exhausted and struggling was Suicidal Tendencies. I felt like Mike Muir was often tapping into my own brain with the likes of ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down,’ ‘Alone,’ ‘Can’t Stop,’ etc. His lyrics served as a kick in the butt while also tapping into human emotions that all of us feel at some point in time. They also helped provide another realization in that we need to like the person we are and be comfortable in our own skin. I feel like that goes back to my earlier example where I would struggle as a teen to identify my own strengths.
As the Wildhearts served as the inspiration behind this blog, it seems fitting to close it with Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton ‘Fuck You Brain’
Fans of The Boss and his band should pencil in the release of this movie. A new documentary about “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons of E Street Band fame features interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Nils Lofgren, Narada Michael Walden, and more.
From Virgil Films & Entertainment comes Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? – an intimate portrait of one of the most famous saxophone players in the world. After a theatrical run in select cities in July, the film will be released on August 13th as a Blu-ray / DVD package (MVD Entertainment Group) as well as Digital HD (Virgil Films). A TV or SVOD release is planned for first quarter of 2020.
After Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s marathon “Rising Tour” came to an end in 2003, saxophonist Clarence Clemons felt like he needed a break. Though the world knew him as The Big Man and a lifetime member of the E Street Band, there was also a deeply spiritual side to Clemons. So he packed up his saxophone and journeyed to China, where he could be more or less a nameless traveler in a foreign land. Following him was director, friend and photographer Nick Mead, who documented Clarence’s transcendent awakening overseas. Once Clarence had returned to the States, Mead decided to keep the cameras rolling, which is when tragedy struck: while in Florida, Clarence suffered a stroke and passed away.
With the help of producer Joe Amodei, the film became more than just a document of Clarence’s spiritual journey – it became a biography for his life and a love letter and farewell from those that knew him best.
“It was an honor and a privilege to work with Nick Mead on this project. Clarence was a true Big Man! His spirituality rose to the top of every interview we conducted.” says producer Joe Amodei.
Featuring interviews with President Bill Clinton, Joe Walsh, Nils Lofgren, Jake Clemons, and former bandmates, friends, and close family members, Who Do I Think I Am? highlights Clarence’s life as musician and member of the E Street band while also presenting another side of the man not many knew when he was away from bright stage lights. It’s an intimate portrait of Clarence’s quest for enlightenment and meaning in what would sadly be the final years of his life.
The film was one of the spotlight premieres at the recent Asbury Park Music and Film Festival in April and will show in June at the NJ International Film Festival as well as the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod this summer.