"Irreverent Dissident" on iTunes

 

Irreverent Dissident is now available on iTunes. The first full length J.J.V. release finds him firing on all cylinders. From hard driving Rockers and roadhouse Boogie to uptown Blues and swinging Country the Reverend Double J is sounding as fresh and hungry as ever.

While browsing the iTunes store pick up J.J,'s other five releases as well as various side projects and guest appearances.

 

"Irreverent Dissident" Available Now

 

Irreverent Dissident, the sixth J.J.V. album, is available now at CD Baby and Bandcamp. Two years of on-and-off recording with several personnel changes and several songs needing to be recorded again. At long last the finished album is here! Watch the first video, the prelude "Los Vatos in A" and the first single "Long Way From Home".

 

"Irreverent Dissident" set for August 20th

 

Irreverent Dissident set for August 20th release.

 

Winners of the NEOBA 2017 Blues Challenge

 

J.J. Vicars & The Desiatos won first place in the NEOBA 2017 Blues Challenge band category. In January 2018 the band goes down to Memphis to compete in the IBC. Custom tailored suits are in the works. 

 

 

Live Video Unearthed

 

Old friend and fan Jonathan Hayes recently found this video from 2007 at The Barge Inn in Narita, Japan.

 

Looking Ahead In 2017

 

Happy New Year to my audience around the world! I look forward to continued tickling of your ear drums and soothing of your souls.

As we all know 2016 was a bitch of a year with one iconic artist after another dying. A big 'thank you' to all of them for their contributions to music and cinema. "Cars like that don't pass you every day."

Plans for 2017 include (finally!) the release of the long awaited IRREVERENT DISSIDENT on Annie Gator Records. The most ambitious project I've embarked on yet. Look for a Spring release.

 

Absolutely Fabulous Rocker

 

"Jet Set" from the album Heartland has been re-recorded in a deliberate and ongoing effort to have it placed in the Absolutely Fabulous movie. Crank it up and send your fan mail to Jennifer Saunders telling her how much she needs this song in the movie!

 

New EP Out Now

 

Another gem from the archives has been released, the EP with singer/songwriter Tara Tinsley recorded in 2012 during her third tour of Japan with JJV as guitarist/arranger.

Set for a Summer 2013 release with accompanying video Tinsley, without a word to her collaborator, dropped the album and video to instead release an excessively commercial "Nashville" album. Words were exchanged and then silence ensued. Too bad that this album spelled the end. It would be great to hear these songs performed live but, alas, it was not meant to be. So instead of allowing it languish in obscurity JJV has released it himself on his Annie Gator Records.

 

Johnny Winter 1944 - 2014

 

There would be no J.J. Vicars without Johnny Winter. He's been one of the templates since Day One. That his death came a month after meeting him his surreal. Here's my remembrance of him http://www.jjvicars.com/blog/johnny_winter_1944_2014/ You're encouraged to leave your own thoughts and stories in the Comments section.

 

The Hillbilly Resistance Now On Bandcamp

 

During his stay in Phoenix, AZ back in 2002 JJV took a young singer/songwriter by the name of Michael James Klunk under his wing. 'Michigan Mike' Horning was enlisted on upright bass but no drummer seemed to fit with the three of them. "Klunk had a right hand from hell on that acoustic, Michigan Mike was slapping that doghouse bass, and I was supplying the hooks and fills. We didn't start out trying to make a Rockabilly trio album. It happened naturally and spontaneously."

 

Plans For 2014

 

A BluesRock album, more music videos, a Dance EP, some stuff out of the archives and maybe a movie. Read all about it!

 

Album Review by Sal Serio

 

Slowly getting acclimated to life back in the U.S. of A. after nearly a decade overseas. Been a few ups and downs and whathaveyous but, hey, life goes on. Three albums that were planned for release have been shelved indefinitely but that just leaves more spotlight for Long Way From Home which saw its full-on release earlier this year. My long time pal Sal Serio from Wisconsin has just published a short but sweet review of LWFH at http://www.maximumink.com/index.php/reviews/disc_review_permalink/long_way_from_home/ and he gave the Reverend a nice write-up.

 

Now on Bandcamp

 

The Reverend Double J is now making all his albums available through Bandcamp. Unlike CD Baby no account needs to be set up in order to purchase music. All purchases can be made with the customer's existing PayPal account. Long Way From Home is already up and available for download and more albums are coming soon including bonus tracks and rarities from the vault.

 

Another Interview Posted

 

A new interview has been posted at http://tims52gigs.com/interviews/j-j-vicars-canton-oh/ This one was done by e-mail and the questions seemed to imply a beginner and hobby player audience of musicians and performers so they were answered with that perspective in mind. Share and enjoy!

 

Back In The U.S. of A... for now

 

 

As of March 2013 your truly is a resident of the good ol' U.S. of A. after nearly a decade overseas. What perfect timing, it coincides with the release of the new album Long Way From Home which is available as CD or download at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jjvicars5 and on iTunes. The CD has a really cool jacket designed by Hugh Ashton and two bonus tracks not available anywhere else. Read Jeremy Gloff's in depth review while you're there.

Next month marks the return to the U.S. stage. Up first on May 11th and 18th are two shows as guitarist with the Chad Baker band of Akron, OH. On the 31st little ol' Alliance gets hear selections from Long Way From Home live and in person.

 

New Video "Maybe I'll Know You"

 

The first video for the Long Way From Home" album, "Maybe I'll Know You" starring Tara Tinsley and Ryan Toth, filmed and edited by Oliver Richter who also shot the live video from The Barge Inn and many of the best known JJV live shots, has been added to the YouTube channel. Leave your comments and pass 'er around.

 

Chris Grundy Interviews JJV

 

Australian guitarist and long time Tokyo resident Chris Grundy sat down with JJV and a bottle of JD to conduct an in-depth interview. Centered around the new Long Way From Home album the conversation also covered the Premature Evacuation single Meltdown to raise money for Tohoku after the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, accompanying and producing Tara Tinsley on her 3rd Japan tour and sitting in with Big Jay McNeely. Download the interview at iTunes or listen to it at http://swankysounds.blogspot.jp/ as well as Stitcher. Surprisingly very little was edited out!

 

Long Way From Home

 

Over four years since recording started Long Way From Home is now available for digital download from CD Baby. The album that didn't want to be made has arrived. The first sessions began at the end of summer in 2008 with Mark 'pookie bear' Schwarz on bass and Bill Concello on drums and yielded Maybe I'll Know You, Solitude, Icebreakin', Ballad of the Bumbling Pygmies (featuring the pygmies themselves), John Hardy (with Sparky on accordion) and Too Many Holes (with Jin Nagami on lap steel). Bill engineered the album and also added keys and FX.

By the early part of 2009 the plug was pulled halfway through. When 2012 arrived and everyone was going on about The Year of the Dragon (Chinese astrology) it was a cue to finally move forward again. The new band warmed up with a handful of shows at Crawfish in Akasaka-mitsuke. Recordings from Crawfish yielded Movie Queen and the CD bonus track Hucklebuck. Taking Hisa Nakase (bass) and Masaki Shibata (drums) into the studio we nailed Talk To Your Daughter, Sleep Walk (yes, the classic ballad) and another CD bonus track, Deadbeat Blues as well as alternate takes of Cutie Pie (with Manuel Trillo on drums) and Ain't Waitin' Anymore. Hugh Ashton engineered and co-produced the session for Cutie Pie with Daniel Karras on drums and the final session got down Ain't Waitin' Anymore with Yo Tsuneno on bass and Glenn Rios on drums.

Jin Nagami mastered it at Orange Studio with my lovely niece Miya Kobayashi on hand and it was done. And now it's available to the public at last! Oliver Richter shot the video for Maybe I'll Know You starring Tara Tinsley and Ryan Toth and a second video for Cutie Pie is underway.

J.J. Vicars: Long Way From Home
 

Tara Tinsley's 3rd Japan Tour

 

Autumn has always been my favorite season and this autumn is doing me more favors than usual. The long awaited, way overdue Long Way From Home album is nearly finished. A few touch ups on the mix and then it's on to mastering. Look for an early November release, just in time to indulge yourself first and stock up on stocking stuffers the following month. It's been a helluva album; two sets of sessions three years apart, four bass players, five drummers and a smattering of guests here and there. This weekend we shoot the music video starring Tara Tinsley, which brings us to that other bit of news.

 

I first met Tara Tinsley in 2006 during her first Japan tour when we shared a bill at a July 4th festival at Atsugi Naval Base. We were the only ones not doing (c)Rap or Metal. Her voice was astounding and she had some really good songs. I was convinced she's be a star if she got with the right producer (as so many singer/songwriters need). I picked up her debut Come And Go and we stayed in touch online and two years later she toured Japan for the second time with a new album out, Sail Away. Her guitarist and producer on that album did exactly what I thought needed to be done, he framed her voice and songs in the right setting. Now I was convinced she was about to break big.

 

Fast forward another four years and a third album, Beautiful Day, and we've kept in touch, though always missing each other when passing through the same city. Now she's arriving in Japan for her third tour as I write this and guitar duties have fallen to yours truly. While I enjoy working with singer/songwriters, and have worked with some very talented ones, Tara is one whom I've wanted to work with since the first time I heard her. There will also be some recording, both her songs and mine, as well as her video appearance mentioned above. The first show is this Thursday in Yokohama and for those outside Japan there will be an online concert this Sunday. Gig info for all five shows is on the Calendar page. You can find her on Facebook and she'll be posting on her blog while she's here.

 

Hutong Blues

 

The hutong video has arrived! While playing the Beijing Blues Festival this May Zoey Zozo of Transnormalcy and her film crew filmed the Reverend Double J playing a pipa in a hutong as part of Hutong Jams, a series of  music videos where foreign musicians coming through China play their stuff on their regular instruments then play it on a traditional Chinese instrument. For the Reverend Double J video a simple Blues riff with some improvised lyrics seemed natural. Click here to watch the video!

 

The Big Lebowski & The Big Kahuna

 

The Reverend Double J has been published in The Dudespaper. Apparently my blathering wasn't too far out. Wrote this piece a little while back upon first reading the Huna article. The Dudely Lama tidied it up a bit (yes, his editing is an improvement over the original) and now it's online. Pretty cool to have something published in The Dudespaper. Some of it might even make sense!

 

Blues Fest Write-up

 

My roomie at the Fairmont gave the Reverend a nice mention in his write-up. Read it here.

 

"Ripped" Movie Premier

 

Just got back from the premier of "Ripped", the low budget Sci-Fi thriller written and directed by Chris Young. Many of the cast from the "So Beautiful" video appears in the movie; Wade and Mai Philpott, Miya Kobayashi, Valeria, and the Pink Cow itself. The Reverend Double J also has a cameo as the "Vomiting Bum". A lot of good music in there by a number of different artists so fingers are crossed for a soundtrack album. Besides the main theme written for the movie Chris also used "Rain Keeps Falling" in two different spots. DVD should be out six months from now.

 

Gearing Up For The Studio

 

After a three year hiatus the Long Way From Home album is underway again. All the "experimental" stuff was done during the first batch of sessions will drummer Bill Concello at his Sunshine Studio, ranging from the haunting ballad Solitude to the tongue-in-cheek Western Swing of Too Many Holes and the absurdly autobiographical Ballad of the Bumbling Pygmies to the old cowboy tune John Hardy as well as the Lonnie Mack styled instrumental Icebreakin' and the Rockbilly butt-rocker Maybe I'll Know You. The remainder of the album is pretty Bluesy so rather than dabbling around in the studio the band is playing a handful of gigs to get the songs their stage legs. The plan is to record live in the studio during one blowout session with a minimum of overdubs. February 23rd, March 22nd and April 26th the band hits Crawfish in Akasaka to get geared up. Also on the bill for all three dates are Mild Cheddar, featuring Mark Schwarz and Sean Brophy, and Sorcha & the Sinners. The Reverend Double J went into the studio with the Sinners late last year to add some guitar to Black Lace Blues so expect to hear that one live as well.

 

R.I.P. Huber Sumlin

 

Hubert Sumlin passed away today in New Jersey. The guitarist for Howlin' Wolf who played on all his classic Chess sides helped define the genre and influenced just about every Blues and Rock guitarist who came after him. His guitar work on SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING, EVIL, SPOONFUL, KILLING FLOOR is required study for every aspiring guitarist. 

Howlin' Wolf SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP34u6rdscs

Hubert Sumlin DVD excerpt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uljcbObxSOQ

 

C. Rex "album" Posted

 

After 10 years C. Rex will finally be heard! The short-lived but very cool Austin, TX group consisted of Todd Moore (vocals, rhythm guitar) and J.J.V. (lead guitar) with brothers Wayne Willems (bass) and Rich Willems (drums). The music could be best described as Southern Rock, Austin style. When I say "Southern Rock" I mean the original uncompromised first draft, freewheeling downhome tuneage, not the current musical rehashing and political reactionary stuff. Todd Moore wrote all the songs (except PARCHMAN'S FARM of course) and the band worked up the arrangements together. Short lived but a lot of fun and from my own discography one of the albums I listen to most.

 

The recordings were done with a small DAT recorder inside Wayne's trailer in Bastrop, TX where we used to rehearse. 11 songs plus 2 *bonus tracks* make for and album affectionately known as THE BASTROP TRAILER TAPES. Download them at http://www.jjvicars.com/music-group-186.html

 

RIP Doyle Bramhall

 

Drummer/vocalist/songwriter Doyle Bramhall passed away today. One of the steadiest backbeats ever, a fine vocalist and a songwriter who wrote or co-wrote many of Stevie Ray Vaughan's tunes including his hits. http://www.dfw.com/2011/11/13/537731/reports-doyle-bramhall-sr-dead.html

 

Setzer Dissed Me Because I'm American???

 

Went to Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot show at Nakano Sun Plaza last night. First part of the show was a trio later augmented by a fourth piece doing various tunes from the big band and recent solo albums. Then he came out with Slim Jim Phantom and a different bass player to play Stray Cats hits. For the big finale all six guys came out together to storm through some Rockabilly classics. The show was great. The after-show not so great.

Knowing he wouldn't be out for a while we grabbed a bite to eat then headed to the rear exit of the building where other autograph hounds were waiting on either side of the driveway. Setzer came out and signed everybody's stuff, including a Gretsch guitar, except mine. He then headed to the other side of the driveway to the other group and did the same thing (minus the Gretsch). Seemed like he was purposely ignoring me since I was the tallest person in the crowd and had been holding my CD over everyone's heads so he could see it. It was a noisy crowd and I didn't want to add to the chaos. Tired of being ignored even after I called his name a couple times I said, "Hey Brian, don't forget a fellow American!" His manager got a good laugh out of that one but Setzer suddenly looked up at me, dead in the eye, with this guilty puppy-dog look like he just got busted. Immediately he turned away and started sweet talking some Japanese chick in the crowd then left.

What could Brian Setzer possibly have against me personally? I've only met him after shows with the rest of the autograph seekers, Indianapolis '96 and Cincinnati '98. I seriously doubt he remembers me from then despite going google-eyed over my SEXY & 17 double-45. But this time he was desperate to steer clear of me. I can only think of two reasons. One is that there was another tall "round eye" at one or both of the other Tokyo shows who was being a pain in the ass and so he mistook me for that guy.

The other possible reason is not such an innocent mistake. The Japanese throw large sums of money at foreign entertainers/celebrities to do some cheesy shit they don't want folks back home knowing about. Setzer comes to Japan regularly and gets red carpet treatent. The car he rode off in had green plates and a flag on the front; these cars are for politicians, dignitaries and other VIPs. Nope, #2 possible reason is he's kissing yellow ass and doesn't want any honkies to know about it. 'Cause he was eating it up while simultaneously trying to avoid me!

Whatever the reason it was a bullshit thing to do. Thank you Brian Setzer for setting such a fine example of what not to do. I'm happy to say that I take time to talk to everyone who approaches me at my gigs and related appearances (like video previews) and sign every CD. Some people show you what to do by doing the exact opposite.

 

MELTDOWN Dance remix

 

The MELTDOWN Dance remix is now available! Who else but JJV and his cohorts would dare do a Dance remix of a Surf instrumental and feature a lap steel guitar?

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/prematureevacuation

Featuring Bull Durham on keys and Hugh Ashton on lap steel with Mark "Pookie Bear " Schwarz on bass. Click the link to read all about the rials and tribulations endured during the recording (and mixing) of this bizarre but interesting track. The whip out the credit card and plunk down you 99 cents! Forward the link to your friends!

All money goes to survivors of the March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan. Not "all profits", ALL MONEY!

 

Premature Evacuation MELTDOWN

 

The for-charity single MELTDOWN is now available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/prematureevacuatio All proceeds from this 99 cent download, as well as any and all future releases under the name Premature Evacuation, go directly to the relief effort in northeastern Japan. The damage from the March 11th tsunami has been described by U.S. Navy personnel as "worse than Iraq". Download the single to help out. There's also a Dance remix on the way.

 

Streaming From The Cow

 

This Friday the 22nd Premature Evacuation will once again rock the Pink Cow to its core. Everybody's crazy about that band name so I guess I'm stuck with it. The show starts at 7:00 and we go on around 9:30. If you can't be in Tokyo you can watch the live webcast at http://www.livestream.com/thepinkcowcam Here's the times converted for you;

 

CA 5:30 am

TX 7:30 am

OH 8:30 am

 

Too early? Nah! What else were you gonna do before work? Some pile drivin' Rock 'n' Roll will wake you up good! If you're watching the webcast log onto Facebook and leave your comments. If you're there in person stay off your laptop/iPhone/what-have-you and enjoy the show. You'll be too busy drinking and dancing and carrying on to play with gadgets!

 

Facebook Updates

 

As many of you know, lots of Americans in Japan have been reporting online via Facebook and Twitter the real news of events here to contrast the doomsday sensationalism of the U.S. and other media. For those of you who may have missed a few, or are not on Facebook at all, here's a collection of some of the more colorful updates. These are what I call "post news", poking a little fun after the fact. Some of these are mine and some I stole from friends. Enjoy! --J.J.V.   http://www.facebook.com/jjvicars

 

 Panicked co-workers were unable to stem the flow of adjectives spewing from the stricken journalist.

Rumors of my irradiation have been greatly exaggerated.

I ain't scared of no radiation, I've eaten at Taco Bell.

Americans have more to fear from high fructose corn syrup than any other "contamination".

The U.S. Ebassy's official report. Basically, stay a good 50 miles from the plant. Duh! You think I was planning a picnic?

The evacuation recommendations are for a 50 mile radius of the nuke plant. Not only is it for your own safety, but get the fuck outta the way so the professionals can do their job!

News flash-The British Foreign office has urged all UK nationals to leave the UK if possible because its crap there, cigarettes are too expensive and theres nothing good on the tele!

Working on a Link Wray style instrumental called MELTDOWN. Bull Durham's gonna put some smokin' keys on it!

The conspiracy theorists are just as bad as the media, spreading doomsday scenarios. They're eliciting fear and panic and doing absolutely nothing to solve the problem. Also tired of the anti-nuke shit. Save that debate for AFTER this is over. Now is not the time. Neither group seems to give a fuck about the tsunami survivors up north.

Tsunami survivors up north are having a helluva time. Cold as hell and snowing on top of everything else. A 70 year old woman in a wheelchair was washed out to sea, then washed back up still in her wheel chair (true story). Images of LITTLE BRITAIN's Lou & Andy dance through my head.

Elvis was just over at my place yesterday. We smoked a joint and pressed the red HAARP button, just before he hopped into his spaceship and fucked off. Bastard didn't even offer me a ride.

Still no word on Godzilla.

 ###

 

Earthquake News & Helpful Links

 

The 8.9 quake occurred off the coast of Sendai where the tsunami hit. The northeastern part of Japan sustained the serious damage that's been seen on the news. The quake itself was felt as far as Beijing, China but no real damage. The trains shut down in Tokyo leaving a lot of people stranded in a city where it takes at least an hour to get anywhere. Usually takes me an hour and a half. Some folks in some outlying parts of Tokyo are without power but for the most part things are relatively cool here. The worst in Tokyo is on the east side in Chiba prefecture. The nuclear reactor you may have heard about is in Fukushima where they were still getting aftershocks every 20 minutes well into the night.

 A website has been set up to help find the dead and missing. For anybody in Japan or with people in Japan here are the links:

 http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=ja (Japanese)

http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=en (English)

 And here's the Wikipedia page on the quake:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Sendai_earthquake_and_tsunami

 

For those of you on Facebook I'm keeping my Wall updated with relevant information. if you are outside of Japan and need to call someone to see if they're OK send me the number. Phone lines aren't working too good right now but I'll do what I can. Those of you on the U.S. West Coast stay tuned to the news, you got some heavy waves coming your way and they ain't for surfing!

 

 

Re-released LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS Now In Stock

 
The re-release of LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS is now in stock at CD Baby. Visit http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jjvicars4 to listen and buy. The CD includes a disc-only bonus track, a Rock 'n' Roll rendition of "1987" by Jeremy Gloff who plays piano on TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE and SEVEN DAYS A WEEK which he co-wrote and features Mark Schwarz on bass & backing vocals, who designed the jacket.
 

Photo Shoot @the Barge Inn

 

When in need of promo photos there's only one person in the greater Tokyo area I turn to, Oliver Richter. One of the first times he saw the band playing at the Barge Inn in Narita (near the airport) he asked if he could take some pictures and I told him to do whatever he liked and would he send some to me, there might be something I'd like to use. When I saw the pictures he took I was in shock, they looked so good I wondered if it was really me he was photographing! He shot more pics whenever we played there and when I needed some good live video for my YouTube channel there was Oliver at the Barge Inn with his video camera. The bulk of the photos and video seen on my website, Facebook, YouTube and barely-used-now MySpace are courtesy of Oliver. His work behind the camera is the cornerstone of my visual materials.

So now it's time for a fresh batch of photos to capture the new-and-improved JJV "brand image". I hate that term but it's necessary to use the parlance of our times. Gone is the longhaired BluesRocker, occasionaly labeled "Southern Rock". That was fine when I was in my early 20's during the 90's; it meant downhome, free-wheeling music that blended Blues, Rock, Jazz, Gospel, Country, R&B and Folk into a thick, pungent guitar sound that seared and soared. The late Allen Collins of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd was role model; the blazing guitar (with great phrasing), the rabunctious stage presence and that hair. Refer to the HEARTLAND photo inside the CD jacket. Today it has too many "right-wing" connotations and the music itself is merely a rehashing of the form without any of the substance that made the Allmans, Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker so cool. Original Skynyrd 3rd guitarist Ed King once remarked, "Southern Rock died the day the Molly Hatchet album came out." Add Blackfoot and every other macho-posturing redneck to that statement. And the Johnny Winter / Alvin Lee style noodling just got old. Time for new horizons!

So in this day and age it's time for the kid, who does the math on his fingers and is surprised to find he isn't a kid anymore, to get with the program. After a few years of tinkering the new sound and look is coking together and it's time for a new promo kit. Once again, Oliver Richter is the first and only choice behind the camera. The Barge Inn is no longer booking bands, save for the occasional cover band, but Bryan Harmon is a good friend who's very sympathetic to musicians and he doesn't think twice about letting us shoot downstairs. In fact, when we show up he's got the stage lights adjusted and a fog machine ready to roll. I was reluctant about the fog machine at first, don't want to be confused with Stevie Nicks, but it turns out adding a nice smokey after-hours vibe. More felt than seen.

Oliver is always steady and reliable behind the camera and I give him full license to do whatever he wants with only a general idea of the end result I'm aiming for. Bryan turns out to be the ace in the hole. He studied photography in college and has some very clear ideas on how to compose a shot, especially in terms of selling the artist/band. Between Bryan and Oliver I relinquish control of the shoot to them and become their model. I brought my "vintage" props; Epiphone Wildkat guitar, Shure SM55 aka "Elvis mic", and several different shirts and blazers with black slacks and dress shoes, hair slicked back, pack of Lucky Strikes. Bryan has all sorts of ideas, "hold the mic and the guitar, you're selling yourself as a singer/guitarist" and so forth. Oliver is handling the mechanics such as shutter speed. I'm just taking orders, something I usually do for nobody.

We head up to the nearby temple, one of the oldest and largest in Japan, for some outdoor shots. Oliver does some stuff with the shutter speed capturing background images Bryan didn't think was possible. I'm in awe of both of them. Back at the Barge Inn the stage walls have been painted yet again by another graffitti artist. Now there's a rising sun and a woman on the wall behind me, resembling a sailor's tattoo. This is far out, everything is going way better than I expected and I'm just following along. A far cry from all the times I've had to micro-manage the "hired help". We shoot all the different outfits and all the different things each of them want to try. 700 shots (many of them minor variations of the same image) and four or five memory cards later I can't believe what we've got down. It far exceeds my expectations. A couple days later while the shots are still being processed Oliver sends me a handful as a preview. I post them on Facebook, including soe B&W and Sepia variations. The response is impressive. I owe it all to Oliver and Bryan. Having good friends is something, but having good friends who also do great work when you get out of the way and let them do their thing is rare. Killing time waiting for the first train in the morning (the Barge Inn is traditionally an all-nighter) I keep thinking I must be luckiest dude on the face of the Earth. Or as Hannibal used to say on THE A-TEAM, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

 

Radio single - "Climb A Higher Mountain"

 

A radio edit of CLIMB A HIGHER MOUNTAIN song is available for download at http://www.jjvicars.com/music-243.html in anticipation of the re-release of LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS. On this song I tip my hat to the Minneapolis sound that I grew up on.

 

 

Nikki Hills Returns To The Scene Of The Crime

 

Yet another reunion is in the works! After years of searching through friends and online my "brother by another mother" Nikki Hills finally found me. During my first stay in Japan when I was still getting my guitar-slinging feet wet Nikki and I were the authentic Toxic Twins. Many jam sessions, parties and what-have-you ensued as we cranked our amps to 11 and blew out windows across Tokyo. His melodic Metal style and my Blues/Roots Rock were an unlikely pairing but for some strange reason it clicked After I went back to the States we lost contact. 11 years passed and I returned to Japan right as he was heading home to Colorado. Internet searches turned up nothing and nobody from "back in the day" seemed to know his whereabouts. After another 7 years he turned up seemingly out of the blue. What a trip, man! As of this writing I'm looking for a venue to set up a quick gig on Sunday or Monday which will be recorded audio and video.

Here's a recording of us "back in the day", Nikki stretching out on a riff that I brought in. Mike Buttrick is on bass and Tomo Takamizawa, Mike's bandmate in Sheep Dip, is on drums.http://ats.jjvicars.com/music-159.html

Another recording of us doing a very early version of SOUL SEARCHIN' which later appeared on the HI-TECH HILLBILLY album. http://www.jjvicars.com/music-160.html

And be sure to check out Nikki Hills on MySpace and hear some of his own recordings. http://www.myspace.com/nikkihills/

 

The Book Begins

 

The book is finally underway. Since nobody else saw fit to document the Austin Roots Rock revival of the 80's I've taken it upon myself to do so. Hell, even the SRV biographers are guilty of some criminal omissions! If you want something done right do it yourself, so I am.

 

Recently I interviewed drummer Mike Buck who along with the late Keith Ferguson was part of the most infamously greasy rhythm section in the history of Texas and Roots music. Read all about the original Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Leroi Brothers and his current group Eve & the Exiles with guitarist/vocalist Eve Monsees. Mike also reflects on the changes in Austin, SXSW and the pros and cons of the lasting influence at http://www.jjvicars.com/blog.html/mike_buck__texas_drum_legend/

 

Besides the first Fabulous Thunderbirds album Buck and Ferguson also appear together on the all instrumental guitar orgy TRASH TWANG & THUNDER which the upcoming book derives its name from. Billed as Big Guitars From Texas the Grammy nominated album from '85 features Don Leady, Denny Freeman, Evan Johns and Frankie Camaro on the six-strings giving Link Wray some heavy competition. Frankie Camaro recently got wind of the book and will be contributing his time to an interview. Rumor has it he also has an unreleased follow-up to TT&T with the legendary Buck/Ferguson rhythm section.

 

Yours truly wasn't the only one to cut his teeth on SRV, the T-Birds, Tail Gators and Big Guitars. Ronnie James came from a similar musical beginning and went on to play with Little Charlie & the Nightcats, then the Fabulous Thunderbirds and is now Jimmie Vaughan's bassist appearing on his new album. This cat is living the dream! Read all about Ronnie's bass playing adventures including time spent with Bill Willis in Jimmie Vaughan's band at http://www.jjvicars.com/blog.html/ronnie_james__living_the_dream/

 

Geoffrey Dicker interviews The Hi-Tech Hillbilly

 

Somebody actually interviewed ME for a change! Geoffrey Dicker's interview with The Hi-Tech Hillbilly is now online. Lots of sordid tales of drunken debauchery, gratuitous drug use and explicit sex!!! Making tabloid headlines around the world. http://according2g.com/2010/08/g-interviews-singermusician-j-j-vicars/

 

Return of the Hillbilly Resistance

 

Six new songs have been added to the Hillbilly Resistance album. Download the 6 new songs, along with the original 10 and an extra, at http://ats.jjvicars.com/music-group-2.html

The Rockabilly trio was formed in 2002 when singer/songwriter Michael James Klunk hooked up with yours truly and bassist Michign Mike Horning. Several drummers were auditioned but none gelled so it was decided to stick with the classic Rockabilly trio format- vocal/acoustic guitar, electric guitar & doghouse bass. With Klunk's right hand from hell and Michigan Mike slapping the upright the percussion was covered. Add some reverb drenched electric pickings and the ghost of Sam Phillips seemed to nod in approval. 10 songs were recorded and mixed by Michigan Mike at his Doghouse Studio with the three of us standing in a tight circle facing each other. Backing vocals were overdubbed with all three of us on one mic.

In March 2010 I found a CD of Klunk demos including six songs we had never recorded. All but one, which we did record, were one track of Klunk accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. His meter was perfect and his rhythm driving, as always. All they needed was guitar and bass parts and they would be complete. I worked up guitar parts and also laid down bass parts until Michigan Mike could get his done. Two songs, WHAT I'M LIVING ON and SHE MAY BE YOUR WOMAN made it into my set lists with SDFR planned for some upcoming gigs. Since it will take some time for Michigan Mike to do his bass parts the demo versions have been uploaded already. Looking forward to hearing the songs with slap bass, a necessary componet of Rockabilly, but until then these are pretty groovy.

 

Video Star

 

The J-Pop video I was in last month came out a couple days ago. Team JyunJyo YAHHOO. Two song single and there's  double-disc set with a DVD of the video and what is claimed to be a "making of" but is really just a second video using 'behind the scenes' footage. Nonetheless, I lucked into a feature part right at the beginning. How cool is that? http://item.rakuten.co.jp/hmvjapan/3861026/

 

MYSELF Video Shoot

 

Another day, another video. A few weeks ago I was in a J-Pop video and lucked out with a feature part. Today I was in a video for MYSELF, a Punk-Blues artist from New Orleans. Check out his new album at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/myself4 Shooting the video was Michael Condon who does all sorts of music videos and zombie movies along with a bit of journalism. Check out his stuff at http://www.alchemistm.com/ My co-star in the video was Steve Sangthip (link coming soon). We shot at a remote location during the rainy season which was quite an experience. Looking forward to seeing the finished result. When it's done and online a link will be posted here on the news page. Stay tuned!

 

Official Dudeist Priest

 

On June 24th I was ordained by the Church of the Latter Day Dude. Today my Certificate of Ordination and Letter of Good Standing arrived in the mail. Reverend J.J. Vicars of the Church of the Latter Day Dude is now available for all religious services, blessings and consecrations including weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. So take it easy man, 'cause the Dude abides!

 

RIP JoJo Billingsley

 

Just recieved word that former Skynyrd Honkette JoJo Billingsley died on June 24th. Our planned interview never materialized due to her illness but there's enough relevant info in some of our e-mail exchanges to make for a fitting blog/obit. She was an excellent singer with strong stage presence and quite a character.

 

Church of the Latter Day Dude

 

J.J.V. is now an ordained minister of the Church of the Latter Day Dude. http://dudeism.com/ Dudeism is "An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh…lost my train of thought there." A combination of Taoism, Buddhism, quatum physics (reality perception), the Seth material (Jane Roberts) and Fo’-Shizzle-my-Nizzlism filtered through the Zen-like qualities of the Coen Brothers cult movie THE BIG LEBOWSKI and it's main character The Dude. Some times you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you, so take 'er easy and go with the flow... shit, I lost my train of thought again...

 

Blog From Fellow Yahho-er

 

Marcus Birdman, who was also on the YAHHO video shoot, posted his Blog. http://jamaicaninjapan.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/my-first-j-pop-music-video/#comment-24 Included with his commentary are a few shots of fellow extras, the stage (from the bar) and our after-shoot excursions. Marcus is a talented photographer whom I hope to work with in the near future.

 

Yahho!

 

Saturday the 12th was an interesting gig, worked as an extra in a video for a J-Pop group, Team Jyun Jyo. http://www.teamjj.com/ I was one of the lucky ones who got a featured scene at the bar before the music starts. Had a blast hanging out with all the other crazy gaijin. Met a lot of cool folks including Mara, my "co-star". At the end of the shoot they snapped a few pics of the girls with the "audience". http://ameblo.jp/teamjj/image-10561811276-10588697817.html As soon as the video hits YouTube a link will be posted here on the News page. There was also another camera shooting a "making of" documentary so maybe something interesting (but not embarrassing) will pop up.

 

New songs from The Hillbilly Resistance

 

A batch of Mike Klunk demos were discovered in the Archives last month which included half a dozen that the group never recorded. The sound quality and performance were so good all they needed was electric guitar and slap bass added to them so Michigan Mike, who recorded the original ten songs, is joining the fray to bring these babies to life. The Rockabilly trio is back! Some of these new songs have already made their was into JJV setlists. Download the first ten songs at http://ats.jjvicars.com/music-group-2.html

 

Jack Herer R.I.P.

 

Jack Herer died today. His book THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES is the definitive account of how and why cannabis was criminlized in America. Using the Freedom of Information Act he proves conclusively that DuPont bought off the government, which then created the "reefer madness" scare, shortly after patenting rayon in order to eliminate hemp from the marketplace. His book offers sound evidence on the indistrial, textile, medicinal and therepuetic benefits of cannabis and how the petrochemical and pharmacuetical industries lobby to keep it outlawed so they can increase corporate profits. Business as usual. Herer was a true patriot, one who loved his country enough to not stand idly by while corporate greed raped it.

 

Back In Tokyo

 

Back in Tokyo recovering from jet lag. Despite the many obstacles I accomplished what I set out to do, minus playing the dates which can be done later with better and sane guys. Full story in the latest blog MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

 

Sothwest Tour Canceled

 

The Southwest Spring Tour has been canceled. What started out with high hopes was seriously damaged by unnecessary aggravation, but that would turn out to be the least of it. There was more to it than I could know at the time. After flying half-way around the world and driving half-way across the country it all came to a head. My plans to offset the cost of moving my stuff back to Texas and establishing my name locally were seriously undermined. An oportunist was hustling me. See Blog entry for details including the racist hate mail he's been sending ever since.

 

2009 In Review

 
2009 was a rough year for a lot of folks, and I'm no exception, but as I sit here writing this on December 31st the good stands out and bad becomes "necessary self-correcting measures". The album I was working on, LONG WAY FROM HOME, was shelved halfway through recording. It sucked and I stewed over it for quite a while, but now that it appears the album will be finished elsewhere with a different rhythm section it looks like I'll have two halves that together will make both an accurate musical diary and an overall top-notch album. The guys on the first half couldn't do what the guys on the second half will do and the guys on the second half couldn't do what the first did. Regardless of any personal differences I stand 120% behind what we recorded. In February I interviewed vocalist Jill Jones. That article became my first nationally published piece, appearing in Florida-based magazine GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS and may appear again in UK mag BLUES MATTERS. BLUES MATTERS deserves a serious tip of the hat for publishing many of my letters to the editor and getting me back into writing. I don't know what it is that people like so much about my writing but as long as they like it I'll keep doing it. The article avoided the usual Prince gossip that journalists have bugged her with and focused on her actual work as a vocalist, covering all of her albums. Engineer David Rivkin and Grand Royals bandmate Ian Ginsberg both contributed lengthy in-depth quotes. Jill and her manager liked it so much it now appears on much of her promo material. Thanks, Jill! I've been discussing musical collaboration with her and it looks promising. A few months later I played the only Jerry & J.J. Vicars gig to date. The more both of us get back to our Blues roots the more similarities I hear in our playing. Not surprising, some of the songs he taught me when I first picked up guitar I'm still doing; COMIN' HOME, MEMPHIS, HONKY TONK, CHICKEN SHACK. Don't be surprised if I play all those on my last gig before shuffling off the mortal coil. When we lived in Cincinnati I played bass with his group, Jerry & the Hipswingers. We shot two videos but the one on my YouTube channel from Cincy is my favorite. Once he played on my gig, a private party, nothing special. This time we did a duo gig at Ben's Cafe with Mark Schwarz on bass and Jimmy Mack on drums. Mark recorded it and MP3s are on my website for download. There's also footage from a film crew who were making a documentary about Americans living in Tokyo but I don't know what happened with that. We repeated the show last week by recording his arrangement of Charles Brown's MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY, again with Mark on bass and available on the website. This year's CD release was LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS, a collection of leftover songs from Jindaiji Monkey studio. These were done for fun and when an album's worth of material was accumulated it was decided to eventually release it. Since LONG WAY FROM HOME was shelved indefinitely and I needed an '09 release it got bumped up. I made my keyboard debut, Suzi V plays organ on one track and Jeremy Gloff piano on another. I covered his "1987" as a disc-only bonus track. Two other songs feature Jay Lang, the cat from Sheep Dip who gave a teenage J.J.V. a break when no one else would. Jay sent some backing tracks which I put words and melody to. I have a vocal and guitar track on each, all other instruments are him. Jay also helped my writing endeavors by pointing out the famous Hemingway quote, "Show it, don't tell it." Mark Schwarz designed the jacket adding all the background items to a photo he took that includes the Modbird in her early stages. The best came towards the end. A new venue opened up in Akasaka named Crawfish. Excellent room, fantastic gear (Fender tube amps!) and Carl and Jake are some of the best venue owners I've met. Chiharu Kawai was present for the first show there and filmed four songs which are now on my YouTube channel; WANG DANG DOODLE, STINKY TWINKY and DOWNHOME. Back at the Barge Inn, one of my all-time my favorite venues (in Narita near the airport), manager Bryan Harmon spent quality time with me, Mark and drummer Masaki Shibata fixing up the sound and lights. Our friend Oliver Richter brought out his camera and filmed all three sets, performed in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. Four songs in three videos have been posted to YouTube; TAKE ME ON DOWN TO MEMPHIS/ROCK MY WORLD, J.J.'s BOOGIE and BOOGIE ON DOWN all from the 1st set. Video from the 2nd and 3rd sets is being edited right now. The full unedited audio is available for download on the website, minus the first set. The Barge Inn gig was the debut of the Modbird, the custom guitar Mark Schwarz built for me. Mark has been building guitars for years, his Rocket Revenger bass is well known around town. This is the first one he built to order and she's a beauty. The body draws its design from the Gibson Moderne and Firebird, though much smaller, and has a Strat bridge. The P-90 from my Les Paul Jr. I had when I was a kid sits in the back position with Fender Fat Strat in front. The pickguard is similar to a Les Paul Jr. A Fender neck does the job for now, until a custom neck is ready. The Modbird is now my main guitar and playing her is not only the most fun I've had on any axe in years she's also a feather in both our caps, the luthier and the player. But the most lasting impression came from the least likely of sources, the TV. There was a short interview/documentary with an old woman who owns a barber shop under the train tracks near one of the busiest station in Tokyo. Didn't catch the station but it looked like the Shinkansen (bullet train) stops there. She lives in a two-story building ; the barber shop is on the first floor, her residence on the second. Many of her customers have been coming to her for 40 years. Sometimes they fall asleep in the chair. She lets them sleep. She charges customers according to what they can afford and if they're broke doesn't charge them at all. She lives modestly and always has enough. When the interviewer asked for her thoughts on the global economic meltdown she said, "People have been working for the country, money went to the bureaucrats. When they work for PEOPLE money will return to the people and it will get back to normal." Many folks I know back in the U.S. decided not to buy Christmas presents, or only select few, or to make a present to give. To me, that makes it one of the greatest Christmases ever; the crass commercialism normally surrounding the holidaze was dealt a sever blow, the vacuum filled with genuine concern for one another. At least that's how it looks to me. Some say it was a bad year but I disagree; it was a difficult year but that doesn't make it a bad year. People lost a lot of selfishness and remembered what's important.
 

Heaps Of Video

 
Been busy filming and editing video over here at Annie Gator Records. Two new playlists are up on the YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/jjvicars The first is from 10/22/09 at Crawfish, a new venue in Akasaka. Jin Nagami on bass and Masaki Shibata on drums, filmed bu Chiharu Kawai. WANG DANG DOODLE (Willie Dixon), STINKY TWINKY, DOWNHOME and RAIN KEEPS FALLING all from the forthcoming album FULL THROTTLE. http://www.youtube.com/user/jjvicars#p/c/2E0E6B7829892B63 The second is from 11/7/09 at the Barge Inn in Narita, three songs in four videos. Masaki Shibata on drums again and Mark Schwarz on bass weilding his infamous Rocket Revenger, filmed by Oliver Richter. This was the debut of the ModBird, the custom guitar built by Mark, and the first time two of his Broken Guitars appeared together onstage. TAKE ME ON DOWN TO MEMPHIS/ROCK MY WORLD and J.J.'s BOOGIE from the SCI-FI DINER album and BOOGIE ON DOWN (Freddie King), the closing number for that set. http://www.youtube.com/user/jjvicars#p/c/CE1FE6DD33918622 Oliver Richter filmed all three sets from the Barge Inn and there will at least three videos from the 2nd set soon. In the meantime, there's also a video of "1987" from the 3rd set (unedited) on MySpace and YouTube. "!987" is the disc-only bonus track from the new album LONGHAIRD LEFTOVERS www.cdbaby.com/cd/jjvicars1 written by Jeremy Gloff,who also makes a guest appearance playing piano on TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE from the same album. Go to http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gloff14 for the original "1987".
 

Hipswingers video from Cincinnati posted on YouTube

 
In '98 I was playing with my dad's Cincinnati-based Jump Blues band Jerry & the Hipswingers. We cut a demo video which sat on the shelf after everyone moved away. Finally I got a copy of the video and was able to convert the file for upload. And now here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brUdLHvzkJ0
 

A Movie Is Coming Out

 
Not my movie, we're nowhere near ready to start on that. A movie I was an extra in last year is coming out. I'm in the crowd scenes during the concert and I doubt you can see me. But I'm there. http://symbol-movie.jp/
 

Larry Slezak Is On The Internet

 
A little bit of web surfing on an otherwise boring, rainy night turned up something very interesting. Houston Jazz sax player extraordanaire is now up and running on the Internet. http://larryslezak.com Larry was a family friend when yours truly was first getting his musical feet wet. He was already smokin' but every time I heard him he somehow managed to outdo himself. Larry is one of those rare musicians who is constantly honing and refining his craft. While visiting back home last year I had the pleasure of seeing his group at Ovations. It has been 15 or more years since I had heard him and much to my surprise he was even better. I think of Larry every time I hit the books to woodshed. When I first mentioned bringing Jill Jones to Texas to record a Blues/Jazz/R&B album with real instruments (nothing against her current hit single on the Dance charts, but I'd like to hear her in that setting) Larry was one of the first names I mentioned. Now he's on the web and his site has a ton of content to delight your ears. I now invite those of you outside of Houston to discover a treasure we've known for many, many years. A little icing on the cake; Larry's son Joe Slezak, my age, is on drums. Joe and I started out on drums about the same time. He took it more naturally than I did and stuck with it. Today he's as solid as they come. Playing drums was fun but I wasn't cut out to be a Jazzer. When I took up Blues/Roots guitar I found my niche at last. There's a couple Jazz flavored numbers on a future CD and I hope to have Larry and Joe on them. Got my fingers crossed.
 

Les Paul RIP

 
He was one of the architects of the electric guitar, invented multi-track recording and reverb, pioneered new micing techniques and was one of the hottest Jazz guitarists ever playing elegant, melodic lines at breathtaking speed that seemed to defy the laws of physics. He reinvented music... he reinvented SOUND! He's one of the very few people who really changed the world. I was working on getting to New York so I could see him at the Iridum. I really wanted to meet him; I'd be happy if he told me to fuck off! LOL He said that kids would be making records in their bedroom just like he did and that's exactly what I've been doing for the last few years (HI-TECH HILLBILLY, HEARTLAND, LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS). Many times I've sat down at my Zoom 1608CD home studio to record or mix and thought, "I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for Les Paul. This technology that allows me to realize my ideas wouldn't exist." When I started making those albums I didn't have much of a catalog, recording studios were prohibitively expensive and getting local musicians to play my music right was a headache (a frustration in babysitting, actually. Recording at home like this helped establish the sound, the style and the body of work. From then on getting gigs and getting musicians to cooperate was much easier. LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS is almost done. Today I planned on mixing the last song and getting on with the release. I'm tired of recording at home by myself and plan on selling the studio. Ironic, for me, that Les Paul died just as I was wrapping up this chapter of my recording career. Now I can concentrate on those faster-than-light licks of his. So far I can play one at half speed.
 

Michael Jackson & Farrah Fawcett RIP

 
Michael Jackson died today. The official cause was cardiac arrest but I believe it was a case of nothing left ot live for. He was no longer a singer or an entertainer. He was a celebrity, and a charicature of one at that. During his heyday (THRILLER) he crossed boundaries as one of the first black artists (along with Prince) to be a staple of MTV and one the first R&B artists to feature prominent Rock guitarists on chart topping hits. BEAT IT just wouldn't be the same without Eddie Van Halen's infamous solo. Steve Stevens reworked Tommy Bolin's Echoplex tricks into the 'ray gun' effect that became the instrumental crescendo of DIRTY DIANA. Over the last 15 years he became a running joke. Too much plastic surgery, too much rich celebrity indulgence, too many accusations and lawsuits. Now that he's gone I prefer to remember the popular culture icon of my youth as the groundbreaking entertainer he was 'back in the day' who crossed boundaries that today we can barely imagine existed. Farrah Fawcett has also passed away today. Another popular culture icon whose name and face were everywhere. I don't often pay attention to the mainstream but when two of the most recognizable names and faces pass on it does remind you of passing eras and your own mortality.
 

Cafe Blog

 
The latest blog has been published. This one is about one of the very few things I enjoy in Tokyo, cafes. Can't wait to see what sort of enlightening response this one elicits. In the last one, about Tokyo's lack of live music, my detractors further emphasized my point by defending the plethora of amatuer noise makers that abound here and calling it music. And they were quite miffed that I didn't include that bunch, further emphasizing why I regard this city as a musical joke. http://blog.gaijinpot.com/food-and-drink/ex-pat-cafe/2529/#more-2529
 

Koko Taylor R.I.P.

 
Sad news. The legendary Koko Taylor passed away yesterday in Chicago. I had the pleasure of seeing her a couple times and the privilege of meeting her once in '91 when she co-billed with Albert Collins & the Icebreakers. She tore up the stage like nobody's business. That was a singer who belted it out and a performer who grabbed the audience and held them there. Another one who raised the bar and kept it there. Read the full story at http://www.kokotaylor.com/news.html
 

Mark Schwarz, renessaince man

 

Mark Schwarz is known as bassist and backing vocalist with Max Blues and J.J.V. The Kent, England native appears on the Max Blues album THE SUITCASE, along with the late drummer Shimpei 'dead eye' Ono, and on the upcoming J.J.V. album LONG WAY FROM HOME with drummer/engineer Bill Concello, also formerly of Max Blues. The release of LWFH has been pushed back from '09 to '10 and this summer will instead see the release of LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS, a collection of leftover material from Jindaijii Monkey Studio. LEFTOVERS sees the credentials of Mark Schwarz expand to include photographer and graphic designer. The front cover shot was taken by Mark and features the J.J. Vicars model Broken Guitar he's currently building. Mark is also designing the CD jacket, adding his ownperverse twist to the infamous J.J.V. sick sense of humor. Mark- bassist, backing vocalist, luthier, photographer and designer. May da Schwarz be with you!

 

Longhaired Leftovers

 
With LONG WAY FROM HOME delayed until next spring LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS is being finished for release this summer. "Longhaired" as in 'longhair' music, as opposed to Blues/Roots, and "Leftovers" because it's mostly leftover material from the HI-TECH HILLBILLY and HEARTLAND sessions all recorded at Jindaiji Monkey Studio. Two more tracks, INDIAN SUMMER and RAIN KEEPS FALLING have been posted to the website. These rough mixes will be available for free download until the album is released.
 

Sounds Of Yesterday Today

 
SOUNDS OF YESTERDAY, TODAY -an article written for SparkleFox e-zine- has been published in the new issue. In an assessment of the current dismal state of the music industry several different culprits are described- corporate greed, childish expectations, and the general culture of instant gratification. The article can be read in its entirety here at www.sparklefox.com/advice-music-1.html The Jill Jones article is on its way next. In it she details the Blues and Jazz she grew up listening to via her mother and grandmother, her start at Motown, her long stint as a session vocalist for the Revolution and her most recent albums TWO and WASTED plus projects in the works. An interesting behind-the-scenes look at the music industry from an artist with a long and impressive resume.
 

Interview With Jill Jones

 
I interviewed Jill Jones for an upcoming article on her. Through the course of the conversation we covered her start at Motown with Teena Marie, her time as a backing vocalist with Prince & the Revolution, her critically-acclaimed solo debut on Paisley Park and why Warner Bros refused to promote it, TWO, WASTED, her MySpace music player, and a few upcoming projects. Very informative and a lot of fun to hang out and talk with such a classy yet downhome lady.
 

Album Updates

 
LONGHAIRED LEFTOVERS is being released as free downloads over the next few months. www.jjvicars.com/music-group-140.html These are songs that didn't fit onto any of the other albums so they became their own album. 3 tracks are up already and 6 more will be up before summer. Two songs -THERE SHE GOES AGAIN and MAMA TRAIN- are collaborations with Jay Lang, an old friend who was one of the first people to give me a break when I was a kid. Hope ya'll enjoy the tunes and I'm anxiously looking forward to returning to Texas where the food is good, the music is rockin', and the people are real!
 

R.I.P. Lux, Hank, Leroy & Fathead

 
First, Lux Interior of The Cramps died. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2009/02/cramps-founder.html Then I clicked a click and learned that Hank Crawford died. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-me-hank-crawford5-2009feb05,0,2311187.story?track=rss Finally, that article mentions that David "Fathead" Newman and Leroy Cooper died. Ray Charles' sax section from the late 50's/early 60's. This sucks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd2M9ynQb5k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBo4wZmH0UQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKNB7V2UB3c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoWaJj6lbl8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thpdT7tNeyA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW3_2rk9BvU
 

RIP Billy Powell

 
Billy​ Powel​l died of a heart​ attac​k earli​er today​.​ Durin​g their​ three​-​night​ stand​ in Tokyo​ on the '91 Tour I had the pleas​ure of hangi​ng out with Billy​.​ He was warm and frien​dly going​ out of his way to greet​ fans backs​tage and intro​duce himse​lf.​ A real gentl​eman.​ He was also a hellu​va keybo​ardis​t.​ While​ Skyny​rd'​s three​-​guita​r attac​k was tight​er than many of their​ influ​ences​ (I prefe​r their​ versi​on of CROSS​ROADS​ to Cream​'​s)​ Powel​l'​s piano​ added​ an elega​nce that kicke​d them up anoth​er notch​ and set them apart​.​ Anoth​er legen​d gone but not forgo​tten.​ http://www.cmt.com/news/country-music/1603730/lynyrd-skynyrds-billy-powell-dead-at-56.jhtml
 

A New Beginning (Building Bridges)

 
Watching the Inauguration was fun. While it was on there was an ongoing conversation on Jeremy Gloff's Facebook page that started with some cracks on The Queen Of Soul (who should be recrowned The Hamhock Of Soul) for looking like a Greenpeace cause, spun off into a hilarious real-time conversation, and ended with a couple of new friends. For an exiled ex-pat it was the party back home that I needed. Thank you Jeremy for being the host and letting me wisecrack all over your page. I hope I didn't wear out my welcome. More importantly though, I watched the last three presidents as the camera rolled over them and noticed they all looked sick, old and unhealthy as if their time had come to an end. Obama was a vision of fresh energy in contrast. That was when it dawned on me- this is the REAL beginning of the 21st Century. The seasons have their own rhythms- there is no official "first day of spring", that's our clock-time that we superimpose over the natural rhythms of the world. Just the same, eras have their own natural rhythms. Neither January 1st, 2000 nor January 1st, 2001 was the beginning of the 21st Century. Again, that's our measurements superimposed upon natural rhythms. The Inauguration was the REAL beginning of the 21st Century. The last 8 years were the end of the 20th Century, when all the worst qualities of 20th Century America and its government came to a head and exploded in public. Everything that had been buried behind closed doors became public knowledge. We became a nation bitterly divided and those of us with overseas ties fled the country in self-imposed exile. Yesterday, however, was the beginning of a new era. Obama's speech was excellent, as expected. He spoke in clear, plain language about what _we_ as a country need to do to rebuild and touched on all the points involved including quite a few that appeal to the Right such as hard work and selfless service. He delivered his speech in the captivating and uplifting style of black churches across America- grabbing the audience's attention, reeling them in, bringing the intensity to a simmer, and then "taking it home". Time and again he reiterated that each one of us is responsible for cleaning up this mess and putting the pieces back together. That means ALL of us cooperating with each other, ALL of us building bridges across the divide. The sort of solution offered in Eric Lu & Nick Hanauer' THE TRUE PATRIOT, a book that should be read by Liberals and Conservatives alike. During recent Blogs I've engaged people on the other side of the political spectrum from me for two reasons. First is that if you only talk to people on your side you only get one side of the story, i.e. circular reasoning. When discussing with the opposing side you have to prove your point. If you're argument holds water you will, if it doesn't you'll learn something new. Therefore you win either way. Second is, during the election I admired both candidates' speeches which put the emphasis on "we the People" and everybody cooperating together as a unified nation. Obama's acceptance speech centered on the UNITED States of America rather than Liberal/Conservative America, Red/Blue states, etc... McCain's campaign slogan was "Country First" and I would have considered him had he not brought along that brainless, wolf-slaughtering Barbie doll Palin. Paris Hilton had a better campaign speech (I'll dig up the link if anyone's interested). In the spirit of both candidates' noble speeches I took it upon myself to do my part in bridging the divide and deliberately looked at the people that I usually crack on - the conservative religious Right- and asked myself what I admire about them. I strongly suggest that all of you do the same. One thing is all you need, you don't have to agree on everything and you won't, but that one thing _will_ build bridges of understanding. The nation has been bitterly divided for too long. Surprisingly, when I asked myself that question I found a simple easy answer- manners! The American public has become very selfish, childish and irresponsible. People have lost all sense of courtesy, dignity and respect. They've become shallow. What happened to the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? What happened to being considerate of others and treating them the way you want to be treated? And what the happened to taking responsibility for yourself? Where the fuck did all this buck-passing come from???!!! "I can't work because my mother traumatized me when I was three." What abunch of spineless drivel! The religious conservative Right are some of the few people who still practice manners and courtesy so to my Right-leaning friends I want you all to know that I am with you on this one, you have my full support. We'll probably continue to disagree on a lot of other points but let's save that for another day. We have a long road ahead of us. I encourage everybody on both sides to do the same, find that one thing that you agree with the other side on. One is not too much to ask. I've done it, you can too. The real work starts with us and the bridges start there. In closing there was one other thing that stuck in my mind during the Inauguration about this being the real beginning of the 21st Century. When they showed the crowd, the newer buildings reminded me of Theed (the capital of Naboo in STAR WARS). And being a comic collector (especially underground stuff) I have to admit that seeing the first black president reminded me of CAMELOT 3000, a 12-issue limited series that came out when I was a kid. Anybody who remembers it will get the connection. Besides, I'm biased, I'm _glad_ we finally got some "pepper" in the White House. We need it!
 

2008 In Review

 
The years started off on a good note, appearing in the Steve Lukather video EVER CHANGING TIMES. After 25 years I finally made it to MTV. Too bad you can't see my face in the video! That same month was the 2nd Annual J.J. Vicars Birthday Jam at Ben's Cafe. Since I know none of my cheap-ass friends are gonna throw me a party I throw my own every year. Now I get to spend my birthday the way I want to; jamming and partying with my buds. Also at the beginning of the year I had to cancel my Midwest tour, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led to my trip back to Texas in April. In early spring there was the "three countries in three weeks" jaunt. Played Saturday night at the Barge Inn near Narita airport then got on a plane for New Delhi, India early Sunday morning. Back to Tokyo the following Saturday then played the Cherry Blossom festival at Atsugi Naval Base on Sunday. Monday, a week later, it was off to Houston, TX for a much needed trip back home. The trip to Houston was one of the biggest highlights of the year. It had been 7 years since I had been in Texas and 'homesick' doesn't even begin to describe it. All I can say about that is one of the reasons I'm such a big HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY fan is because I identify with Arthur Dent. And Kate Shecter from LONG DARK TEATIME OF THE SOUL. Try being an American looking for a decent pizza in a foreign country and you'll get the idea. Try finding decent Mexican food and you'll go nuts! In Houston my old friend and former bandleader Kenny Palyola and his wife Kelley were extremely gracious in putting me up and just generally being a big help overall. Words don't begin to describe my gratitude for what they did. And I was not the only guest, had a bit of a family reunion going on at their place. Going out for Mexican food and a Blues jam... it's those simple pleasures I miss the most. Drove out to Austin to visit several more old friends and stayed with my old bandmate, former Cannabis Rex bandleader Todd Moore at his beeeyoootiful place on the river. It was the tranquility I needed while sorting out some head-pounding bureaucracy. I stopped by to see one of my all time favorite guitarists and good friend Don Leady (cut my teeth on the first Tailgators album SWAMP ROCK) and we recorded a guitar boogie duet together. Don also showed me a few guitar moves that I'm still working on. After several failed attempts to contact him I finally got in touch with my tocayo J.J. Barrera (bass, Tailgators) and hung out a bit before heading back to Houston where I went to a Jazz club to see Larry and Joe Slezak. Joe and I are the same age (our musician dads were friends) and started playing around the same time. He stuck with Jazz drumming and I went on to Blues/Roots/Rock guitar which I'm much better suited for. I love Jazz but I'm definitely not a Jazz player! Larry (Joe's dad) was blowing that sax even better than ever! Hard to believe as he was heads and shoulders above the rest 20 years ago, but yes he really has gotten even better since then. The next night I sat in with Kenny P on his gig (I swear his guitarist looks like Tom Waits Jr.) for some more much-needed Texas Blues picking. Food for the soul. Met up with Glen Davis, formerly of FCCJ in Tokyo and now living back home in Tejas, bought a couple hats and then early Monday they practically had to force me on the plane at gunpoint. July 4th saw another major event, playing the Fourth of July festival at Atsugi with Max Blues and Tara Tinsley. I met Tara two years previous when she played Atsugi during her first trip to Japan. We stayed in touch and I took a few liberties with a demo of her song SWEET MUSIC. For this show Max Blues was already playing so I had them back me during my set, at the end of which I brought out Tara to do SWEET MUSIC (the only time we've played it live together) and Ike & Tina Turner's BABY GET IT ON which her guitarist Dan Quigg joined us for. There was some video shot but the person who did so punked out on me, so it remains buried in his archives. If Tara and/or myself has a big hit record I guarantee it will surface. Nonetheless, we stole the show with our grand finale and later we had some Texas BBQ where Tara failed to understand what a bypass is. I guess she never saw ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. Summer saw the start of two very important projects, the LONG WAY FROM HOME album and the first J.J. Vicars signature model guitar made by Broken Guitar (if it's Broken, it's mine!). While I had hoped to have both of these projects finished before year's end the delays have worked out for the best; both are turning out better than anticipated. I had originally wanted Bill Concello to play on the album but wasn't sure if he would be available. As it turns out we're recording at his Sunshine Studio and he's played a vital role as co-producer. Bassist and Broke Guitars honcho Mark Schwarz is playing his Rocket Revenger, and a couple other interesting basses, on the album while building the J.J.V. signature model which will be featured on about half the songs. And yes, the Firebird is also featured on a few. Several local musician friends make guest appearances and other musician friends back in the States, Jeremy Gloff and Glenn Rios, have helped out with the arrangements. To top it all off Colleen Kelley Murray, formerly Mrs. Palyola, has given me permission to use one of her photographs on the front cover. I won't say which one -got to leave a few surprises for when the album comes out- but it was the type of pic I was looking for after my cousin -Electro/Freestyle musician Jason Goldsmith of VA- gave some recommendations regarding the jacket design. Coincidentally, Mark came up with a very similar idea regarding the jacket, although he didn't know what I had planned. That convenient coincidence made it clear what direction to go with the design. As with SCI-FI DINER, great care is being put into the jacket design so that it complements the music on the disc hand-in-glove. Another highlight was all the new video. Five solo acoustic videos were added to the YouTube page back in January and three from the Christmas gig with Mac "the Knife" Okuyama were added a couple days after the gig, all shot and edited by Chiharu Kawai. In between those Connie 'cricket' Smith of Mississippi did two slide show videos for TAKE ME ON DOWN TO MEMPHIS and ROCK MY WORLD, available on her page. Yet another interesting development was a new twist on the old Jewish tradition 'keep the money' in the family. My regular bass players being out-of-town during some important gigs led to Suzi V holding down the bottom end. She's like a cross between Keith Ferguson and Poison Ivy and having a female on the stage sure did help attendance. Oliver Richter shot some great pics last time we played at the Barge Inn and they're on the website. Everybody knows what an important election this was but for me it was important in different ways. First off, as a result of some political Blogging I became acquainted with singer Jill Jones. Most folks remember her from her time with Prince when she appeared in the 1999 video and as the waitress in PURPLE RAIN. Like most I knew little else about her until finding her on MySpace. I vaguely recalled a Paisley Park album from the 80's. After making her acquaintance I found the album on eBay. Anybody who is a fan of Prince's 'glory years' ('80 - '87) would be well off to find a copy of this overlooked gem. In 2001 she did another album, TWO with Chris Bruce. This haunting masterpiece is a feather in both their caps and a little of that influence seeped into one of the tracks on LONG WAY FROM HOME. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one. She also released the download-only album WASTED as The Grand Royals, a guitar & vocal duet. I reviewed both albums on CD Baby and iTunes. Jill's BAD! Via Jill Jones I also became acquainted with musician Jeremy Gloff of Tampa, FL. A helluva songwriter, his album 1987 is a 'must-have' for anyone who was a teenager in the 80's. He uses the writing devices to perfectly capture the mood and feel of the times. I also reviewed this album on both CD Baby and iTunes and have been performing the title song on recent gigs. Outside of my usual Blues/Roots/R&B/Southern Boogie listening TWO and 1987 are the most played albums on my stereo and iPod. The election was also important to me in that it opened up a whole new dialogue with several right-leaning friends. As someone who usually votes Democratic (lesser of two evils) or Independent I have no problem with right-of-center. It's the Extreme Right (and also the Extreme Left) that I so vehemently despise. I was surprised to learn that there are actually a few Republicans doing something good, like Ron Paul and the current Governor of Ohio. Hard to believe after the last 8 years. This is what makes democracy healthy, the open exchange of ideas. If you live in Indiana my friend Bill Bruton is running for State Senate. His primary goal is defending the Constitution, a worthy goal no matter which party you're aligned with. Sadly though, politics also severed or injured a few friendships. The funny one was the Canadian guy who wrote back to express his disapproval of my post-election letter to Senator McCain because of the Vietnam war. As an American living abroad it seems that wherever I go I always run into a Canadian who wants to show off how hip he thinks he is on American politics -as if 100% of the population supported the neo-cons and Canada had never done any wrong. Since it's an average of 1 in 10 that means 9 in 10 are cool, but I'm sure they find the 1 to be an embarrassment just as I find the neo-cons an embarrassment.. However, the saddest part about the election is that after Obama won everybody stopped talking about it as if there were no more work to be done. The real work is just beginning. While on the 'sad' note here's the obituaries; Buddy Miles, Jeff Healy, Bo Diddley, Issac Hayes, Jerry Wexler, Earl Palmer, Bettie Page, and George Carlin. Most were old (80's and 90's) but Carlin's passing bummed me out the most. Forget politicians, George Carlin is my 'public voice' of social commentary. N other single person in the limelight comes as close as him -about 90%- to saying what I want said. The Seven Dirty Words, his take on the 10 Commandments and his later one about how politicians are a product of OUR society... these speak volumes. It seems we need his voice now more than ever yet he's gone. One more reason for me to fire up my engine- most of my heroes are gone, if I don't say and do what I want said and done nobody else will. Last but certainly not least for the obituaries, Tippy the tipped-up cow passed away shortly before summer. Tippy was a good dog... odd, a lot of our pets have the same names as Carlin's pets- Annie, Grannie, and Tippy. He didn't have a Stinky, though. Back to a happy note, some long lost friends were rediscovered, including former Albert Collins & the Icebreakers bassist Johnny B. Gayden, and there were new friends made such as Tara Tinsley's guitarist Dan Quigg. Jin Nagami filled in on bass for Max Blues during our July 4th gig and became a regular in our 'musicians circle'. In turn there were more musician friends joining the fold as a result. Look for more collaborations in the coming year. And while researching an article for Skynyrd that I'm still working on I became acquainted with Scott Hill (from the FL/GA line) and had a brief exchange with former Honkette JoJo Billingsley. There's also guitarist Tony WIlson of GA who found my site via Steve Moore's Firebird Tribute Site. He sent the Two Wolves story that I posted. All in all there's been a lot to celebrate in 2008; the videos, the new album, the signature model guitar, trip to India, trip back home to Houston/Austin, July 4th, the election and most of all the people involved in these events- they are what them significant. Hats off to; Kenny Palyola, Colleen Kelley Murray, Joe Slezak, Larry Slezak, Don Leady (and Vicki & Ryan), J.J. Barrera, Todd Moore, Glen Davis,Tara Tinsley, Dan Quigg, Courtney Morrison, Candy Definbaugh, Heather Baxter, Shanti Carter, Bill Concello, Mark Schwarz, Jin Nagami, Sparky, Mac Okuyama, Sugi, Oliver Richter, Bryan Harmon @ the Barge Inn, Paul Perry @ Atsugi Darren Howells @ Blues Matter magazine, Connie 'cricket' Smith, Johnny B. Gayden, Jay Lang, Glenn Rios, Jeremy Gloff, Jill Jones, Howard Glazer, Scott Hill, Tony Wilson and -as usual- the Dagobah Klumps, including our newest addition, Flash. Oh yeah, can't forget Mom & Dad!
 

Three New Videos

 
Three new video clips have been added to YouTube. www.youtube.com/user/jjvicars These were shot by Chiharu Kawai at Dubliners Shinjuku during the Christmas gig with Mac "The Knife" Okuyama. The songs include THUNDERBIRD, MOVE IT ON OVER, and PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS.
 

Two Wolves

 
My Christmas present to the world, a story sent to me a couple weeks ago from Tony WIlson of Atlanta, GA. *One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ' My son, the battle is between two ' wolves ' inside us all. One is Evil. - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. ' The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ' Which wolf wins? ' The old Cherokee simply replied, ' The one you feed. '
 

Betty Page R.I.P.

 

From: Black Cat Entertainment-L.A.

Date: Dec 11, 2008 10:23 PM




LOS ANGELES – Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.


Page was placed on life support last week after suffering a heart attack in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, said her agent, Mark Roesler. He said he and Page's family agreed to remove life support. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.


"She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," Roesler said. "She is the embodiment of beauty.
"

"I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society," Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told The Associated Press on Thursday. "She was a very dear person.
"

Page mysteriously disappeared from the public eye for decades, during which time she battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.


After resurfacing in the 1990s, she occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.


"I don't want to be photographed in my old age," she told an interviewer in 1998. "I feel the same way with old movie stars. ... It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young.
"

The 21st century indeed had people remembering her just as she was. She became the subject of songs, biographies, Web sites, comic books, movies and documentaries. A new generation of fans bought thousands of copies of her photos, and some feminists hailed her as a pioneer of women's liberation.


www.bettiepage.com
 

An Open Letter From A Democratic Voter To John McCain

 
The election is over and so is the smearing and mudslinging. Both candidates gave noble and dignified speeches acknowledging each other's accomplishments. It's time for bipartisanship. In this spirit I sent the following e-mail to Senator John McCain via his website. I encourage all Democratic voters to do likewise. We must lead by example. --J.J.V. Mr. McCain, As a Democratic voter I want to say that your post-election speech was very noble and dignified and worthy of your history of service to our country. I believe your remarks about the historical significance of the first black President and sympathy for Obama's grandmother are sincere. Plus I was glad you were the Republican candidate. If we were to have another Republican president at this point in time I want it to be you. You are a credit to your party and your country. You are a true leader and have helped set a new precedent of bipartisanship. I sincerely hope that you continue in politics, especially in regards to the military which is your strong point. I don't know if any other Democratic voters have taken the time to send you any favorable comments but I thought it should be done so I'm doing it. Thank you for your tireless service to this great country and all it stands for. My best wishes to you and your family. Most Sincerely, J.J. Vicars Hard Drivin' Blues, Boogie & Rock 'n' Roll www.jjvicars.com
 

VOTE!!!

 
Today is the day. If you don't vote you have no right to complain. Will your vote be counted? I don't know, it's hard to be optimistic after the last two elections, but it's better to have an uncounted vote than to not vote at all. At least then you still have a right to complain, knowing that you did your part.
 

Nappy Brown and Drummer Earl Palmer Pass

 
On Satur​day night​ at 10:​30 pm Nappy Brown​ died peace​fully​ in his sleep.​ Durin​g his heyda​y,​ in the mid to late 50s, Nappy​ was a proli​fic recor​ding artis​t for Savoy​ Recor​ds.​ He trave​led and perfo​rmed with Jacki​e Wilso​n,​ Ray Charl​es,​ Muddy​ Water​s,​ Littl​e Walte​r,​ Howli​n'​ Wolf,​ Littl​e Richa​rd,​ Screa​min'​ Jay Hawki​ns,​ Eddie​ Clean​head Vinso​n,​ and T-​Bone Walke​r.​ He provi​ded groun​d-​break​ing hit songs​ for other​ artis​ts,​ one of his bigge​st being​ NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME​ made famou​s by Ray Charl​es in 1958.​ He​ was activ​e as a perfo​rmer until​ the end, perfo​rming​ until​ his illne​ss was too much.​ The fabulous Earl Palmer passed away yesterday. Palmer played with anybody and everybody in Blues and R&B, from Little Richard to Lightnin' Hopkins. A "legendary sideman", much like bassist James jamerson with Motown, Palmer helped define American music. www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-palmer21-2008sep21,0,78 Here's a pic of Earl at a Deke Dickerson session.


 

Monkey In The Station

 
I was traveling through the urban jungle I call Coruscant -but others call Shibuya, Tokyo- when I found a flock of cell phones poised in the air taking snapshots of this little guy. Contrary to what those fuckwads at ABC News and CNN reported the trains were NOT shut down or delayed, and neither was the station. I keep telling you good folks back home not to believe shit just because "they said so on TV" but nobody listens. No wonder the economy is in the toilet. Coincidentally, I took the 10:15 Limited Express (see pic @ bottom). Here's the story from local English-language news with a couple pics- one of the monkey and one of Shibuya, out on the street, Enjoy, my friends. --J.J.V. TOKYO (Reuters) - A rogue monkey holed up at a Tokyo train station for more than two hours on Wednesday before giving dozens of net-wielding police officers the slip among crowds of excited children and passersby. "It's a monkey - it's not like it did anything bad," a police spokesman said, adding that the animal was still on the loose. The monkey was spotted hopping around by the automatic ticket gates at a train line in Shibuya Station in central Tokyo at about 9:40 a.m. . It then ran downstairs to the entrance to another line, climbed up and down a pillar and ran around the ticketing machines before taking refuge on top of a train information board for two hours, a spokeswoman for railway operator Tokyu Corp said. Television footage showed the 60-cm-tall brown monkey sitting calmly on top of the board, blinking and looking down at the crowd. Around 30 police officers and other officials cleared the area and surrounded the animal with green netting, but at noon it jumped off the information board and escaped through the crowd. "I've heard of mice before, but nothing like this," said Jiro Umegaki, a spokesman for Tokyo Metro Co Ltd. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Hugh Lawson) Shibuya Monkey
 

Jerry Wexler, famed record producer, dies at 91

 
Jerry Wexler, famed record producer, dies at 91 By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer NEW YORK - Legendary record producer Jerry Wexler, who helped shape R&B music with influential recordings of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and other greats, and later made key recordings with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, has died, says his co-author, David Ritz. He was 91. Ritz, co-author of Wexler's 1993 memoir, "Rhythm and the Blues," said he died at his Sarasota, Fla., home at about 3:45 a.m. Friday. He had been ill for a couple of years with congenital heart disease. Wexler earned his reputation as a music industry giant while a partner at Atlantic Records. Atlantic provided an outlet for the groundbreaking work of African-American performers in the 1950s and '60s. Later, it was a home to rock icons like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. He later helped Dylan win his first Grammy by producing his 1979 "Slow Train Coming" album. Wexler was also instrumental in Duane Allman's transition from studio guitarist at Muscle Shoals to forming the Allman Brothers Band. Wexler helped boost the careers of both the "King of Soul," Charles, and the "Queen of Soul," Franklin. Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and Percy Sledge were among the other R&B greats who benefited from Wexler's deft recording touch. He also produced Dusty Springfield's classic "Dusty in Memphis," considered a masterpiece of "blue-eyed" soul. Among the standards produced by Wexler: Franklin's "Respect," a dazzling, feminist reworking of an Otis Redding song; Sledge's deep ballad "When A Man Loves A Woman" and Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour," with a horn vamp inspired by Wexler's admittedly rhythmless dancing. Wexler was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
 

Isaac Hayes Passes

 
Soul singer Isaac Hayes died this past weekend in Memphis, TN. He was 65. Go to http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gsCUwiqAHCNIbxD6oePjCg1RToZQD92FOTRO0 for details.
 

The Kids Head Home

 
July was an interesting month. On the 4th I played Atsugi with Max Blues backing me after their set. Tara Tinsley kicked off her 2008 Japan Tour on this bill so I brought her up for two numbers at the end of my set. She had sent me a demo of a new song SWEET MUSIC and I was making all kinds of suggestions about what would sound good when I decided to just overdub it myself. Now we got to play it live together. Next was Ike & Tina Turner's BABY GET IT ON, my usual when duetting with a female vocalist. Her guitarist Dan Quigg took over her acoustic for the sake of bringing him onstage but I would have liked to have had him play more. Keep your ears and eyes open, you'll be hearing his name in guitar circles real soon. All that happened after an eventful evening bringing them in from the airport. The first part was smooth but getting them on a train from Yokohama with all their luggage was something else. When we arrived at Atsugi dripping sweat and exhausted we found out our rooms were someplace else, another event. After checking in and trying to get what little sleep I could everybody and their mother decided to call me. Sometimes I really hate cell phones. They did their tour up around Sendai -clubs, radio shows, TV and a couple baseball games- and we stayed in touch the whole time. It was interesting seeing all the pictures on MySpace, a couple American kids fresh off the boat getting taste of hardcore Japan. This ex-pat got a few chuckles out of it. The idea of musicians sitting in with the other bands on the bill seemed to pick up, Tara and Dan each made guest appearances. That's always been one of my favorite things about being a musician, jamming with friends. They came back to Tokyo a couple days early to do some sightseeing before flying home. I picked them up in Shinjuku on Friday evening and we had a very late dinner like only musicians can do. On Saturday Suzi and I took them to Jindaiji, one of the oldest temples in Japan on some very sacred ground. Ate some soba, saw the Botanical Garden and generally enjoyed the scenery. Fortunately the monkeys stayed home that day so nobody got any bony elbows in their ribs. In the evening we went to the hemp restaurant in Shimokitazawa www.new-age-trading.com/EN/for_foreign_visitors.html www.asanomi.jp and then had coffee at Segefredo's. I think that was the first time Dan had real espresso! The next day we all went out to breakfast and then it was time to put them on the Limousine Bus to the Narita and say 'goodbye'. Our time together was short but well spent, I hope to do a double headline tour with them someday. They're good kids... and excellent musicians. You'll be hearing a lot more about them in the future... but you heard it here first! www.cdbaby.com/cd/taratinsley2
 

Pre-production has begun!

 
Pre-production on LONG WAY FROM HOME began today at drummer Bill Concello's Sunshine Studio. Mark "Pookie Bear" Schwarz was on bass. Today we cut pre-production tracks for MAYBE I'LL KNOW YOU, CUTIE PIE, SOLITUDE and JOHN HARDY. The three of us are collectively arranging and producing the album and their input kicked the songs into gear. Bill engineered (with a little help from Mark). Pre-production recordings will be posted to the site as they become available.
 

George Carlin farewell

 
While sitting in with Pamela MacCarthy tonight I heard the sad news from Les Coles that George Carlin died. Carlin is one of my three favorite comedians, the other two being Redd Foxx and Tommy Chong, and unfortunately I never got to see him. While everybody has been quoting SEVEN DIRTY WORDS on various blogs my favorites are THE 10 COMMANDMENTS (why 10, why not 9 or 11?) and THE INVISIBLE MAN IN THE SKY. Then again, just about anything from the last 15 years of HBO specials is a favorite. Carlin tore apart the absurdities of modern life like no one else. He was funny as hell AND he made people think (a seemingly lost art). Why are there ten Commandments? I use to wonder that too! "Because ten sounds _official_! It's the basis of the decimal system, it's a decade, the Top Ten, the Ten Most Wanted. So that means that having ten commandments was basically a _marketing_ decision!" I've quoted and parphrased him in many theological debates. I'm sort of an existentialist (no where near an atheist, BTW). When religious folks start flapping their jaws and I tell them I believe in the Force they consider that childish. "That's from STAR WARS!!!" Yes, and it's based on Einstein's work as well, which has been further developed in recent years. There IS an electromagnetic field that binds all of the physical universe together and atoms exist beyond what we know of as Time and Space. So when the Bible-thumpers start thumping at me that believing in the Force is childish I dip into my Carlin bag and remind them that believing in "an invisible man who lives in the sky, watches you all the time and has a list of ten things he doesn't want you to do" is childish, and furthermore the notion that "if you do any of these things he's going to cast you down into a fiery burning full of pain and misery to suffer for all eternity... but he loves you" is "just plain fuckin' stupid". So what if people are offended? What about me? I'm offended that "organized religion rakes in billions of dollars a year and pays NO TAX" yet they love to get involved with politics. You wanna get into politics? "Pay the entrance fee like everybody else!" George Carlin was an enormous influence on my own life and work. I would have like to have seen him, and especailly to have met him, but his work lives on. And as long as civilization as we know it exists his work will be there waiting to be discovered by generations to come. Just like Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Douglas Adams, Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolk, Freddie King, Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, etc...
 

The Cow Has Tipped

 
Tippy the tipped-up cow has permanently tipped. Tippy, whom the instrumental COW TIPPING was named for, passed away at 6:30 this morning, aged 12. Tippy got her nickname by being an overly large Golden Retriever in an overly small house. She would collapse straight down on the floor blocking all traffic and forcing residents to climb over her. This was especially funny when the residents in question were under 5' with short, stubby legs. When she rolled over on her side she resembled a tipped cow. Any hillbilly who has gone cow-tipping will know what that means. She was preceded by Stinky, whom the instrumental STINKY TWINKY was named for, a year and a half ago.
 

Bo Diddley Was A Gunslinger

 
Bo Diddley died today age 79. Another one of the greats, and of the the real originators, has passed on. I saw him back in '96 (?) in Indianapolis. He just had back surgery and had to sit for the entire performance but nobody cared, they were there to see one of the real Rock'n'Roll legends and he gave 'em everything he had. It was a helluva show. He even played a little drums during the last song. Rock on Bo, and thanks for all the music...
 

Don't Mess With Texas

 
Got a few photos from my trip back home to Houston/Austin posted on the site. All the usual suspects that I played with before- Kenny Palyola, Todd Moore, J.J. Barrera and Don Leady. Former FCCJ entertainment director Glen Davis who moved back home last year also makes an appearance. The whole week I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, "...there's no place like home..." I can't believe it was seven years since I had been back to Texas. It was surreal, most things were exactly the same as I remembered as if it had been sitting there just waiting for me to show up again. One of the highlights was recording a little guitar boogie with Don Leady. I've been listening to the Tailgators since I was 15 and greasing back my hair. Don has been one of my favorite guitarists for as long as I've been playing and I made it a point to look him up when I lived in Austin and stay in touch when I moved away. I originally went to see him for a guitar lesson and he wanted to record together. All I could think was, "this is the coolest." The next evening I caught my old friend Joe Slezak -a Jazz drummer my age that I grew up with- playing at Ovation's with his dad Larry Slezak and Clayton Dyess. Larry still burns something fierce, there ain't another sax player on Earth like him. Clayton, who cut an Ep with my dad back in '84, still sounds as good as ever. Another high point was sitting in with Kenny Palyola's trio on a gig at Iron Cactus BBQ in Sargeant, TX. www.theironcactusonline.com When I lived in Austin I spent time in Kenny's group and really honed my Blues chops. Most of the material from SCI-FI DINER got its stage-legs while gigging with Kenny & The Bluesmen. We parted ways, and I moved away, but eventually got back in touch. He's got a smokin' trio now, drummer Andy Rogers reminds me of Bill Concello and I swear to God (and three other white men) guitarist Eric Dane is Tom Wait's offspring -he's got the voice and the character. He also _burns_ on the six-string. I played a few tunes with them as a trio until he jumped back on the stage and we finished out the night as a 4-piece. It was like therapy for me. I've played with some good musicians over the years but with Houston Blues cats there's an ethos, an unspoken understanding of how things are done and it's real easy for me to just fall in with those cats and groove. And while the band played the girls partied, which is a whole other story!
 

Off To India

 
I'll be out of town from this weekend until next so if'n ya'll got anything I need to know tell me right quick. This Saturday we rock the Barge Inn to its very foundation and after a shower and breakfast I hop a plane to New Dehli, India. I don't know how often I'll be able to check my e-mail while I'm there or if my cellphone mail will be working. On Saturday the 5th I get back into town and the next day we show up at Atsugi bright early for soundcheck before playing their Cherry Blossom Festival. On Monday there will be a huge Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the door right above Violators Will Be Drawn, Hung, Quartered & Shot. I'll be catching up on my beauty sleep
 

Buddy Miles & Jeff Healy R.I.P.

 
First Buddy Miles passed a way in Austin,TX last week then Jeff Healy passed away in Canada this past Sunday. The first time I met Albert Collins, August '88, his bassist Johnny B. Gayden told me about a jam session with him, Albert, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and this blind kid from Canada. Johnny B. plays a little, Albert plays a little, Stevie plays a little, then Jeff plays a little and Stevie throws his hands up in the air hollering,"I give up!"
 

Midwest Tour Cancelled

 
The Spring 2008 Midwest tour has been cancelled due to slow response from the venues. Having contacted venues throughout Ohio, Indiana and Michigan most did not reply and those that did only sporadically. E-mails were rarely replied to and when they were it was incomplete information at long intervals. Chasing people down on the phone proved equally fruitless. Some venues said they weren't using entertainment anymore and that information had to be dragged out of them after several calls. There were also plans, not discussed publicly, to do some dates with other artists/bands from the region but they ran into the same footdragging headaches. Only three venues came through in a timely manner; Court Street Grill in Pomeroy, Mudflats in Galena near Columbus, and Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland. The whole experience has put a severe damper on future plans to tour the area - it's impossible to deal with people who cannot or will not respond in a timely and professional manner, especially when setting up a large scale tour from afar. The risk is simply not worth it. Above all else their footdragging response lacked courtesy and professionalism. There will be one more attempt at touring the region later in the year. If enough venues/dates can be added to the ones already booked then 2-3 weeks up North is possible. If that attempt doesn't work there won't be a third. Many thanks to all the people who did their best to make the tour happen - Jackie at Court Street Grill; Steve at Fat Fish Blue; Howard Glazer and Pat Jaynes, the hottest guitarists in Detroit; Tara Tinsley for contacting her connections before and after a much needed vacation; and Shanti, Tawnja and Candy for gathering information and delivering packages. It's because of their efforts that a second attempt is being made. Without all that they have done the idea would be scratched altogether.
 

2nd Annual Birthday Jam

 
Click here for pics. http://picasaweb.google.co.jp/yoshikosfilm/JJBirthdayLiveBenSCafe?authkey=BDUD0TvOSSA
 

Video Shoot With Steve Lukather

 
I spent today being the bass player in the video for EVER CHANGING TIMES, the title track for the upcoming Steve Lukather album. On drums was Christian Muhr from Sweden. You can check him out at www.christianmuhr.com We arrived at 1:00 and by 3:00 we were on the soundstage shooting. Most of our parts were done without Steve. In the video our parts are done in "negative" (like a film negative) with Steve superimposed over us in full color. We did get to shoot one scene with him that will probably be in color when the video is finished. We would have had a quick jam but the amps weren't plugged in! We did a few wide-screen shots and then all the close-ups. Lee Sklar played on the album and if I had know that I would have practiced harder! As with most movie and video shoots there was a lot of waiting around so we got to hang out with Steve and his manager a bit. They were real cool and everybody was cutting up, cracking jokes and generally enjoying themselves. There were also several people shooting "the making of" type stuff and a few photographers including Jun Sato of WireImage Japan. His photos of the shoot can be seen at http://www.wireimage.com/GalleryListing.asp?navtyp=gls====299709 Maybe some shots will appear in the Japanese music magazines in the next few months. The video is supposed to be going out to MTV, VH-1, and every place else. After 25 years I'm finally gonna be on MTV! LOL! This was the second time I met Lukather. The first time was at a club in Roppongi (Tokyo) around '91 or '92. It was well into the evening and we were both lit up like Christmas trees. This time we were both sober so chances are we'll remember it. After the shoot I wanted to get a picture with him for the site so we hung around while they did some close-ups of him and then we all jumped up on the set as every photographer in the room closed in snapping away. Big thanks to everybody I was on the shoot with today for making it such a memorable shoot and especially to Steve Lukather for being so much fun to work with. www.stevelukather.net/Album.aspx?id=380
 

Happy New Year!!!

 
Happy New Year to all you good folks out there. 2007 was a special year. Most of what happened was 'behind the scenes' so there wasn't much to report. Among other things HEARTLAND was finally released after HI-TECH HILLBILLY (2006). With all the back catalogue out of the way the road is now clear to work on the next three albums starting with LONG WAY FROM HOME, the follow-up to SCI-FI DINER. A half-live/half-studio album will follow that capped off by an all-instrumental album. Plans for 2008 include the recording and release of LONG WAY FROM HOME, new videos on YouTube, several tours and some collaborations with other artists. Look for several guest appearances on the upcoming albums. Continuing a tradition started in 2007 at the end of January will be The Second Annual J.J. Vicars Birthday Jam, venue to be announced. Many thanks to all of you who made 2007 a special year, including some old aquaintences renewed. You know who you are. Here's to 2008!
 

Happy Holidaze!!!

 
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year was one of the best ever for me. As we get closer to New Year's a big 'thank you' to everyone that made 2007 a special year. You know who you are!
 

Ike Turner R.I.P.

 
Legend Ike Turner Dies at 76 Contributions to Music Were Often Overshadowed By Claims of Abuse AP Posted: 2007-12-12 17:41:01 SAN DIEGO (Dec. 12) - Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76. Turner died at his San Marcos home, Scott M. Hanover of Thrill Entertainment Group, which managed Turner's career, told The Associated Press. ### For those of you who are unfamilair with his work, Ike Turner was one of the founding fathers of Rock'n'Roll and modern guitar playing. In 1951 Ike Turner and his Kings Of Rhythm laid down the rollicking ROCKET 88, which was credited to songer Jackie Brenston and hailed as _the_ first Rock'n'Roll record. He was also a talent scout for Sun Records around that time bringing a certain Chester Burnette, later known as Howlin' Wolf, to the attention of Sam Phillips. Phillips later sold Wolf's contract to the the Chess Brothers in Chicago. Starting out on piano, which he played on ROCKET 88, he switched to guitar so that he could lead the band easier than from behind the keys and in the proccess discovered the joys of whammy bar abuse. He was and always will be the original whammy bar king, and was a significant influence on a young Jimi Hendrix. Like Tommy Bolin, Ike's biggest commercial success that brought his name to the masses was not his biggest aristic success. The Ike & Tina Turner Revue made him a household name, but not for musical reasons and the public has been so obsessed with tabloid-like stories that his extremely significant contributions to American music have been forgotten by all but a handful of guitarists and music historians. In his defense I have to say that he wasn't the only one, that sort of thing was common during the time and place he came from, Mississppi, and even Tina herself has stated publicly that Hollywood, as usual, overdid it in the movie. On a side note, Revue drummer Soko Richardson, who came up with their arrangement of PROUD MARY which was their biggest hit, later played with Albert Collins. In 2001 Ike returned to his roots and released Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm HERE AND NOW which includes a remake of ROCKET 88. Ike is in fine form on this album playing the music he started out on, on both guitar and piano, and generally enjoying himself. Anybody who likes to boogie is advised to pick up this CD. In 2006 he topped himself with RISIN' WITH THE BLUES, one of the best albums of his long career. His St. Louis style lowdown and Jump Blues is highlighted by Funk and Jazz and features lots of instrumentals along side the raspiest, nastiest vocals since Howlin' Wolf. This is also a must-have album and no fan of Blues, guitar, R&B or music in general should be without it. Music is the purest art form, it needs no explanation other than itself. This is one of the reasons why I play a lot of instrumentals. Many of the guitarists whose styles became bedrock foundations of my own style are known for their instrumental peices; Albert Collins, Freddie King, Lonnie Mack and of course Ike Turner. My introduction to Ike was on a compilation album called BLUES GUITAR BLASTERS. Among Jimmy Nolen, Pee Wee Crayton and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson Ike's TWISTIN' THE STRINGS jumps out of the speakers like a hot rod busting through the garage door. More than a decade before Jimi Hendrix's fuzzed-out experience and Tommy Bolin's burning solo on Billy Cobham's QUADRANT 4 Ike is turning Leo Fender's vibrato arm into a rocket to Mars. While The Ike & Tina Turner revue continues to be his household-name work his artistic triumphs are the bookends of his career. His early-50's recordings with The Kings Of Rhythm both define the R&B of his era while being timelessly beyond it. His last two albums with a new Kings Of Rhythm lineup are both old school back-to-roots, and fresh modern Blues records that defy the current Blues cliche's. What the public sadly overlooks with their soap-opera clebrity obsession us musicians, Blues lovers, R&B fans, and music historians celebrate as the work of a true master. Thank you Ike, for all the rockin' R&B, the catchy instrumentals, the whammy bar abuse, and in general all the contributions you made and the music you left us with. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you. Must-have Ike Turner Discography: TRAILBLAZER- A collection of his early recordings. Songs are creited to various artists -Bily Gayles, Jackie Brenston, Kings Of Rhythm - but all are Ike Turner on guitar or piano leading the band. BLUES KINGPINS - A series put otu by Capitol Records that includes Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Elmore James, Fats Domino and Ike Turner. Another collection of early recordings. Being extremely prolific, this one doesn't repeat ay of the same numbers as TRAILBLAZER and features some Latin touches o several tunes. BLUES GUITAR BLASTERS, Various Artists - The only record I know of that contains Ike's instrumental TWISTIN THE STRINGS. If you've ever wondered why Jimi Hendrix, Jimmie Vaughan, Don Leady, J.J. Vicars, and a million other guitarists reverd him this will answer in aprroximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. An you'll never be the same again! The tracks from the other artists are also standout. *I'm skipping over the Ike & Tina stuff, since most folks are already familair with it and any Greatest Hits package will do. HERE AND NOW - His 2001 reurn to his roots. This album is just plain fun. Rock'n'Roll/R&B the way it was meant to be played. It jumps, it swings, it boogies, it shuffles and Ike is tearin' it up throughout. RISIN' WITH THE BLUES - 2006 and he expands on his last album adding more Jazz and Funk to his palette. His vocals on this one have to be geard to be believed and the Jazz-influenced instrumentals are downright smokin'! www.iketurner.com
 

Happy Birthday Courtney

 
Happy birthday to my niece Courtney. Coincidentally, she was born in Houston the same week as my first concert- Johnny Winter at Stage 1 in Houston. Look for her in the upcoming movie SPINNING INTO BUTTER, the kid's a star already.
 

RIP Uncle John Turner

 
Former Johnny Winter drummer Uncle John Turner passed away last night. He was suffering from Hepatitus C and in need of a liver transplant. His discography with JW includes THE PROGRESSIVE BLUES EXPERIMENT,JOHNNY WINTER,SECOND WINTER and the three song reunion of the original trio on Winter's third Alligator release 3RD DEGREE (the Alligator house band with Albert Collins bassist Johnny B. Gayden plays on the rest),all albums I cut my teeth on. He also performed with him at Woodstock. There's some videos on YouTube. For complete info go to www.uncathon.com and www.unclejohnturner.com
 

Albert Collins @ JBC '88

 
Photos from the J.J.V. archives of Albert Collins & The Icebreakers have been posted. These are personal shots taken backstage hanging out with Albert,the Icebreakers,and Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials. It was their guitarist Michael Garrett who took mebackstage to meet Albert in the first place. More pics to come!
 

Tales From The Heartland

 
The HEARTLAND album has been released on Annie Gator records and is being distributed through CD Baby. Like HI-TECH HILLBILLY before it this album is the product of a 'musical phase' I went through many years ago. Since this material is outside of the usual fare there will be no promotion done on it and it will only be available as digital downloads for the time being. After LONG WAY FROM HOME and a couple other albums similair to it and SCI-FI DINER,i.e. what I usually do,are released then I'll go back and spend the time and money to press copies. The jackets for both albums have been designed already,however,and anybody who bought the downloads and wants to print out the jacket should e-mail me.
 

HEARTLAND Tracks Posted

 
Five of the ten songs on the HEARTLAND album have been added to the music page complete with lyrics and background info. The background info tells of the people and events that inspired each song and also has some notes for guitar nuts like which guitars were used for what parts and other recording details. The songs can be downloaded in MP3 format until the album is released this summer.
 

LONG WAY FROM HOME Pre-production Has Begun

 
Pre-production has begun for the LONG WAY FROM HOME ALBUM. With 2-3 albums worth of material the big dilema is what to include on this one and what to put on the follow up. After recording by back catalogue,HI-TECH HILLBILLY & HEARTLAND,as a one man band it's back to the Blues,Boogie & Rock 'n' Roll trio format. That means a live trio like on SCI-FI DINER. There will also be a few guests on some songs.
 

LONG WAY FROM HOME Tracks Posted

 
Two songs from the upcoming LONG WAY FROM HOME CD,MAYBE I'LL KNOW YOU and CUTIE PIE have posted to the slightly rearranged Music page. These demos from Jindaiji Monkey Studio are available for download.
 

Albert Collins Photos Posted

 
As some already know I met Albert Collins several times in my teens and was pretty chummy with him. He was a badass guitarslinger on stage and a humble,down-to-earth gentleman offstage. Knowing him was privelage,people of that caliber are rare.

After all these years I can finally share these pictures publicly. The photos that have just been posted are from the first and second times I met Albert,both in Japan and both with him headlining The Japan Blues Carnival.

The first five were taken backstage at Live Inn,a Blues club in Shibuya/Tokyo where I also met Bobby 'Blue' Bland,his legendary guitarist Wayne Bennet and Little Milton. Albert was the first I saw there. I had just met him a day or two before at the Blues Carnival. Also on the bill were Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials. I saw their guitarist Michael Garrett standing outside after their set and went up to him to get my record autographed (I always took my records with me to shows to get them autographed). Michael asked me if I wanted to meet Albert Collins and I gave him a starry-eyed 'yes'. He took me backstage and Albert seemed to glow. I went up to him,16 years old,shaking in my shoes and asked him if he would sign my records. He asked me where I was from and when I told him Houston he said,"You're from Houston too?! Come around here and have a drink with me." I sat behind the long table with him and he gave me a Miller (they were the sponsor). I remember there was also some champagne and a big bucket of KFC on the table. Not sure why,there wasn't any other food just yet. I watched his set from the wings. Man,I was GONE. Life doesn't get much better than this.

He played two shows a night two nights in a row at Live Inn. I got there near the end of the first show. He was already walking through the crowd with his 250' guitar cord and had made it all the way to the door in the back when we walked in. He let out a typical peircing Albert Collins guitar sting,stopped,shook my hand and said,"J.J.! Glad you made it!", and then proceeded to continue walking the crowd and shaking hands. We caught the late show and both shows the next night. That lineup was the best lineup of the Icebreakers I ever heard. Johnny B. Gayden was of course on bass along with Soko Richardson on drums. Future Black Crowe Eddie Hersch was on keys and future solo artist Debbie Davies was on 2nd guitar. Sam Franklin and Chuck Smith shared sax duties and Gabriel Flemings was on trumpet. I recorded one of the shows but the tape was unfortunately stolen out of my car some years later in Indianapolis. Too bad because it would be relatively easy for his widow Gwen Collins to release nowdays. And it was a BADASS show! The sixth photo is outside the club on the street.

On the second night the band went out to The Hard Rock Cafe,which was a small and new chain at the time,and we went with them. I sat next to Albert and my dad snapped off several photos. These are the next five on the page. Good thinking,Dad.

The next seven photos are from 1991. Again Albert was headlining The Japan Blues Carnival. I had been playing up in Hokkaido for the past week and as soon as I got back found out he was in town. We caught him at a club then went to the Carnival. I was suprised that him,Johnny B. and Soko all remembered me. Johnny B. even brought me a t-shirt from J.J.'s Blues Club in California! Which I still have,by the way. The rest of the Icebreakers was a different band. Teenie Hodges,who played on Al Green's big hits,was on guitar. Don't remember the keys and horns,I didn't really get friendly with them. The first lineup from '88 I was friendly with everybody. Debbie remembers me whenever we cross paths (Cincinatti,Phoenix,Vegas,MySpace). Eddie Hersch MIGHT remember me.

I saw Alber twice after this,once when he played the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival (yes I'm in the audience,no you can't see me in the video) and once in Houston at either Fitzgerald's or Rockafellers in late '92. Shortly after I saw him in Houston I moved up to a small town in Ohio near Canton,south of Cleveland. In early '93 Albert was playing in Cleveland. I was less than 2 hours away but didn't have a car and despite my offers for gas,food,drinks and cover charge could not get anyone to take me up there. Later that year he died making the Houston show the last time I ever saw him. Oddly enough I never said goodbye to him,he had disappeared somewhere and my ride was leaving. I remeber saying something to the effect that I'd catch him next time.

The two times pictured here,especially the first,were magical. There was something about it,something I can't quite describe in words, a warm,comfortable feeling of recognition as if all was right in the world and this was exactly how things are supposed to be. And it was both on and off stage. On stage it was a great lineup,everybody was really PLAYIN',really puttin' themselves into it heart and soul and it was a gas to be there. Hell,it was a gas to be alive! Offstage it was like old friends. I still remember Eddie Hersch sitting down at our table shooting the breeze with us and then seeing him a few years later in a Black Crowes video and my mouth hanging open wondering if that was really the same guy. These are some of my favorite memories,special,magical events that seemed to last an eternity,and in some ways they do. Everything from those times with Albert -his stage presence,his guitarslinging,his offstage warmth,the whole vibe in the air just being there- are still with me. Somehow,I like to think via some kind of Quantum effect,those events are still happening and they set the standard that I aspire to. Some days are better than others but the standard remains the same. Thank you ,Albert. Your example is something I carry with me. And thank you Johnny B.,Soko and Debbie. I hope to see you out there again real soon.

 

The Fiddler Has Left The Building

 
The Fiddler is no more. Money problems called it a day and the building owners found a new tenant before any outside help could jump in. The Birthday Jam was the last gig there that I know of.
 

Stinky Twinky & Shimpei 'Dead Eye' Ono R.I.P.

 
Stinky Twinky and Shimpei 'Dead Eye' Ono both passed away yesterday. Stinky Twinky,the 22 year old cat I named a new Jump Blues instrumental after,passed away late last night/early this morning. The little stinker was known for being old,crabby and loud as hell. When I first moved in she hated everybody and would take a swing at you whenever you tried to pet her. Her nails were extra long and sharp,too! After a while she took a liking to me and became my little stinky buddy. She still hated everybody else though. She got her nickname 'stinky' after years of hiding out in a dark,dingy room under the kotatsu (a table with a heater underneath and a blanket on top regularly used in Japan). Whenever you would scratch her you could smell the grime breaking loose. After she had a bath she didn't stink anymore but the name had a good ring to it so it was changed to 'twinky'. After a while she started to stink again and the two names were combined. When she passed away one arm shot up giving everybody the finger. I met Shimpei 'Dead Eye' Ono on April 21st of last year. I was playing at The Baron and on the bill was Max Blues. Mac came up to me and introduced himself,he was short a bass player and had just bought a bass of his own. We went on late and my drummer had to split to catch the last train home. Mac suggested that Shimpei fill in. Eventually the bass player left as well and Mac grabbed his new bass and sat in. We jammed forever on a bunch of old Blues numbers having a blast. Later they backed me up a couple times at Rock Factory and we remained friends. At one of those gigs Mac told me about Shimpei's condition and how he had already lost one eye. I was going to make an eye patch for him but we could never find the right material (couldn't retain any moisture). Max Blues played the L.A. Jones Tokyo Tour and Shimpei was at his peak. I never heard him sound better. Backstage he was running around like a typical hyper-as-shit drummer. What a riot. He was just plain fun to be around. Eventually his conditioned worsened and during the Glen Terry Tour he could only play a few songs. The last time I saw him was at Rock Factory. Despite being in obviously bad shape he insisted on playing a few songs,that was the kind of Spirit he had. He managed to play OK,played great considering his condition -it was clear that he was in severe pain. During a recent gig at The Fiddler Mac told me he had spoken with the doctor and it was just a matter of time. He passed away yesterday at his home in Tokyo. Gone but not forgotten. We play STINKY TWINKY every gig,ironically Shimpei was the first drummer to ever play it,and it's being recorded for an upcoming CD. Max Blues had just finished recording their latest CD before Shimpei's condition started to deteriorate. There's also some video from the L.A. Jones Tour when Shimpei was at his peak. With a bit of effort all these will be released soon,the best tribute of all.
 

Happy New Year! Here's To 2007

 
2006 was a landmark year for me. SCI-FI DINER was released the previous December and by Spring the reviews were being published and the disc was getting airplay over in Europe. It also saw quite a few downloads via iTunes,especially TAKE ME ON DOWN TO MEMPHIS and the Jerry Lee Lewis ode to juvenile delinquency REAL WILD CHILD. The band lineup changed to include both my workhorse rhythm section and my Blues buddies Max Blues featuring Mac 'The Knife" Okuyama giving me two different groups to work with. I also made the aquaintence of some musicians back home in the States,Blues guitarist extrordinaire L.A. Jones who became something of a mentor showing me The New Voice and inspiring me to play some lowdown Blues,and the lovely miss Tara Tinsley a singer/songwriter from Modesto also touring behind her first album. I was also fortunate to make the aquaintence of Glen Terry,a fine Blues guitarist from Australia. There were several deaths and serious illnesses on the part of both musical heroes as well as family and friends plus old friends moving away but that's change and change is a part of life. My second album,and first of my back catalogue of songs,HI-TECH HILLBILLY was released as digital downloads in November shortly before playing the Christmas party at the Australian Embassy. That was a nice way to cap off the year. 2007 has some serious projects to look forward to both touring and recording. There will be more appearances in a wider variety of venues,both musically and geographically, and several recording sessions as the next album of new material is put together. There will be new MP3s on the site and new videos on YouTube,something else I was introduced to in '06 along with MySpace. While all this is going on the second and last album of back material HEARTLAND will be released with both it and HI-TECH HILLBILLY available on CD as well as downloads.
 

The Godfather Is Gone -James Brown Passes

 
James Brown died at 1:45 this morning after being admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Another one of the greats is gone and there's no one to take up the mantle.
 

Ahmet Ertegun Passes

 
More death news. Ahmet Ertegun who co-founded Atlantic Records and brought Ray Charles,Ruth Brown,Aretha Franklin and many others into the limelight died aged 83. Seems he was at an Oct. 29th Stones concert at The Beacon Theater in NY where he slipped and hit his head. He went into a coma and eventually passed away. Another legend is one with the Force.
 

HI-TECH HILLBILLY now on iTunes

 
Finally some good news! HI-TECH HILLBILLY is now available at iTunes. The link is http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=206512561 Currently it's only available as a download. A limited number of cpoies will be pressed early next year.
 

H-Bomb Ferguson R.I.P.

 
Cincinatti Blues shouter and pianist H-Bomb Ferguson passed away Sunday morning aged 77. Click on http://www.fox19.com/Global/story.asp?s=573066 for the full story. Back in '98-'00 I was living in Cincinatti and playing bass with my father's group Jerry & The Hipswingers. We played a lot of the same places as H-Bomb and got to know him fairly well. He was always a riot and the legends abound about his odd quirks,like arguing with spirits while on the bandstand. The wigs certainly added to the myth. Once I got to sit in with his group and he passed the word through his bass player Bobo that me and the other guys in the Hipswingers were welcome to sit in any time we wanted. Getting that kind of recognition from one of the originals like H-Bomb is the highest of highs. H-Bomb,what a character.
 

Glen Terry Dates Finalized

 
The triple intitial guitar-slinger will be making several guest appearances with Glen Terry & Max Blues during Glen's Tokyo Tour this month. Check out the CALENDAR page for dates and details and be sure to check www.myspace.com/glenterry and www.maxblues.net for additional info. Tara Solheim will making apperances as well. In addition to the scheduled appearances the face in the top left corner of this page may pop up at some other dates on the tour as well if they have Guinness on tap.
 

Ruth Brown Passes

 
Legendary R&B pioneer Ruth Brown has passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 78. Her contributions are way too numerous to list here,just 'google' her for the full story.
 

New Photos & Music

 
New photos and music have been added and the entire content has been rearranged. You can now listen to podcasts of HI-TECH HILLBILLY and HEARTLAND as well as seeing the photos and artwork from the inserts. Word on the grapevine is that after these two CDs are released the podcasts will come down and pre-production will be under way for the 4th disc LONG WAY FROM HOME with Max Blues as the backing band. More on that later.
 

In The Navy

 
J.J. is playing every Saturday night in September and October at The CPO club at Yokosuka Naval Base. The current lineup features Antoine Edery on drums and Aquila Furuta on bass. They will also be peforming selected dates at Atsugi including opening for Ingram Hill at Reid Field.
 

New Podcast

 
The mixing for HI-TECH HILLBILLY is now complete.You can preview the CD by listening to the podcast at www.myspace.com/jjvicars while the CD jacket is being designed.
 

Hi-Tech Hillbilly

 
The second CD, HI-TECH HILLBILLY, is now in the final mixing stages. After that we start working on the cover which will feature some more J.J.V. artwork. The release is set for mid-August. You can preview a couple tunes on the MUSIC page.
 

SCI-FI DINER @ iTunes

 
Sci-Fi Diner is now available at the iTunes music store.Simply open up your iTunes program and type 'J.J. Vicars' into the Search.You'll see the familiar cover. Once you try Mac you never go back (to Microshaft).
 

Clifford Antone 1949-2006

 
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write this.Clifford Antone passed away last week at age 56.If you don't know who he is or what he did 'google' him.His legacy is too vast to fit here.One of my deepest regrets is that I never did meet him.When I was living in Austin he was in the joint.Something about 9,000 pounds of pot.It should be legal anyhow.What he did with his club had a profound influence on me in even though I was never there in its heyday.And oh how I wish I was.
 

New Video Posted

 
A new video for MOVIE QUEEN with Akihiro Saito & Co. has been posted at www.myspace.com/jjvicars This Howlin' Wolf-inspired number will also be on the next studio release.
 

Review in Blues N*40

 
Bernard Boyat's review of SCI-FI DINER has been published in French Blues magazine Blues N*40.None other than the late great Rory Gallagher graces the cover.The reviews and the magazine covers can be seen in a new section of PHOTOS called MAGAZINE FEATURES.
 

First Review of SFD Published

 
The first European review of SCI-FI DINER has just hit the stands in France.Written by music journalist Bernard Boyat,who wrote a well known book on Johnny Cash,it's featured in Le Cri du Coyote (The Cry of the Coyote),a French magazine focusing on Country and Roots music.Many thanks to Bernard for his praising review.You can see a scan of the article on the PHOTOS page with the other SFD clips.Check out the magazine at www.countryfr.com/criducoyote
 

Photos Added & Organized

 
New photos have been added and the entire bunch of them have been organized for better viewing.More live shots,early pics,and some new ones with Tommy Chong are now up.Big 'thank you' to my buddy Rob for shooting the live shots and scanning the rest.
 

Gigs and Blogs

 
Now that I've finally figured out MySpace and my blog I've got the complete rundown of last Saturday's gig plus pics.Visit the PHOTO page and www.MySpace.com/jjvicars and check it out.
 

On The Radio In Limoges,France

 
CROW'S FEET 'N' CHICKEN ASS from SCI-FI DINER is currently being played by Christian Maraillac on his BLUES NEWS show on station BEAUB FM in Limoges,France.Limoges is a town of about 200,000 people and an enthusiastic audience of Blues,Country,and Southern Rock.You can check out the station at www.beaubfm.com
 

MySpace.com

 
Got the MySpace page up and running at www.myspace.com/jjvicars with all the usual photos,tunes,etc...with the Blog underway.
 

SCI-FI DINER on German Radio

 
Markus Fischer-Kiepe has added SCI-FI DINER to his Blues radio show DOUBLE TROUBLE on Osnabruecker Radio 104,8 in Germany.Lookin' forward to playing Europe! www.osradio.de
 

Happy New Year!!!

 
Happy New Year from everyone at Annie Gator Records and Jindaiji Monkey Studios.2005 was a great year that saw this web site revamped into its current state and the release of SCI-FI DINER.2006 is continuing on that and there's lots of stuff coming up-live dates,the sophmore CD,side projects,etc...Much thanks to everyone that made '05 what it was and wishing all of you a happy and prosperous '06.
 

SCI-FI DINER available at CDMojo

 
SCI-FI DINER is now available at CDMojo,the online source of independant Blues,Folk,and Roots music.Click on BUY on the menu bar or visit www.cdmojo.com and see it on the front page.
 

SCI-FI DINER now online

 
SCI-FI DINER is now available at CDBaby.Click BUY on the menu bar or visit www.cdbaby.com/cd/jjvicars to visit the page and listen to samples,read the story behind the making of it,buy it and write reviews.
 

Richard Pryor Passes

 
Comedy LEGEND Richard Pryor has passed away.He was 65.Go to www.richardpryor.com if you're not already hip to the funniest motherf#@%er there was.I'm gonna go watch CAR WASH for the millionth and one time.
 

New MP3 Uploaded For Xmas

 
A new MP3 has been uploaded to the MUSIC page for the Holidaze.Need something fresh for your Xmas compilation CD/Podcast?This one will perk up that dull office party!Download it now and show 'em how cool you are!
 

CDs Are Here (finally)!!!

 
And now for the moment you've all been waiting for.I am pleased to announce that SCI-FI DINER has arrived!Yes,the long awaited album is now here.If you're in Tokyo get it from me directly.If you're anywhere else in this big beautiful world online distribution is currently being set up with CDBaby and Amazon.com and the details will be announced as they are known. It was a long wait,but it was worth it.
 

Link Wray Passes

 
I've just learned that Link Wray passed earlier this month.Link was one of the greats.He raised primal simplicity to an art form.Every Rock'n'Roll guitarist out there has a debt to him.No music collection is complete without him.If you don't have any of his stuff yet start with RUMBLE:THE BEST OF LINK WRAY on Rhino Records.The man is gone,but the spirit and the music live on.Here's to you,Link.
 

SCI-Fi DINER To Be Released On Thanksgiving

 
After much delay,about four years,SCI-Fi DINER will finally be released on Thanksgiving Day.It will be sold directly to the public exclusively during the first few weeks.Thereafter it will also be available online.More details on that will follow the release.
 

New MP3s Added

 
Seven new MP3s totaling 30 minutes worth of music have been added to the MUSIC page.The first four are listed as LIVE IN JAPAN and are from a gig in Tokyo earlier this year.Two of them are Blues classics,one is a full band version of a SCI-FI DINER acoustic track,and the other is a not-yet-available-on-CD track.The next three,listed as LIVE IN JAPAN PART 2,are from another gig in Tokyo at a different venue last year.The second in this set is a markedly different version of a song that appears on the 2nd CD.The other two songs will be on the fourth disc.Click on the MUSIC button to your left to start downloading now.
 

SCI-FI DINER In Production

 
SCI-FI DINER is finally in production.After several setbacks and delays the CD is now being pressed by the good folks over at Oasis.For all you other musicians reading this that's www.oasiscd.com and they're great people to work with.Currently we're looking at a release date sometime at the end of this month.In the meantime you can wet your appetite on the MUSIC page.Click the menu button on your left right now.
 

New Orleans Fundraiser a blast!

 
A big THANK YOU to Glenn Davis and the staff of The Press Club www.fccj.or.jp for putting on an excellent event.Also,a big THANK YOU to Pamela MacCarthy and band whom I had the pleasure of filling in on bass with.That rendition of WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN was smokin'!Anybody have any recordings of it?Of course,a big THANKS to The Hipswingers and all the bands that played.Most of all,an extra big THANKS to all of the people in the audience that came out and donated to the recovery effort.New Orleans will rise again,even better than before!