Timmy Williams [Interview]

I was recently fortunate enough to come in contact with the (soon to be) comedic legend Timmy Williams.  You know him best as an extremely lovable and talented member of the comedy troupe Whitest Kids U Know.  Whether you’ve seen them live on the summer festival circuit, had their show relentlessly hold space on your DVR, or dig through YouTube trying to find the best video to discuss with your religious co-worker two cubicles down from you about, you have probably seen our friend Timmy.  Sometimes he places the far too nice punching bag of the group.  But, die hard WKUK fans will always hold the likes of “Timmy Dance” and the recently hilarious “Baked Beans” as just a couple of the finest moments in the show’s history.  And that just wouldn’t be without the brilliance of Timmy Williams.  Fresh of the farms of South Dakota, Timmy has seen the early stages of his comedy career turn into some great success.  And the future can only look brighter and brighter for this rising talent.

The show has since had it’s finale, and will only grace our cable boxes via syndicated bliss.  But, Timmy and crew have given us a half a decade of groundbreaking work (poop has never been covered so well prior to this show) that will definitely be remembered.  For a while anyway.I thought it would be nice to have a quick chat with Timmy and share shared statements with the likes of you fine Trainwreck’d readers.  Check it out as we discuss music videos, Andrew W.K., fatherhood, South Dakota’s comedy scene, and more!  Enjoy!As a comedian who has worked between the realms of stand up, acting, and sketch comedy, which do you rightfully prefer?  This is as tough a question as “what’s your favorite food?”  I like all 3: stand up because it gives me complete independence and instant gratification, acting because it’s fun to collaborate with a huge group of people, and sketch because it’s fun to collaborate with a small group of people.

You have recently become a father for the first time, can we expect some family oriented type bits from you in the future?

Well, my stand up is already becoming peppered with baby stuff.  I always wanted to be a comic that “doesn’t do that,” but once you have a kid, you realize you have nothing else going on to write about.

How did you become involved with Shawn Fogel and his Golden Bloom music video directed by Alicia J. Rose?

Boring story.  A friend who knows Alicia asked me to do it.  Done.

Yeah, that was pretty much a shameless plug for my good friend Shawn anyway.  So, what made you choose the City of Roses as your current residence?

We wanted to start doing some urban agriculture stuff, like raise chickens and garden.  Now we’re going to move to LA so I can earn some money because that other stuff doesn’t.

How was the comedy scene around you growing up in rural South Dakota?

What comedy scene?

Sadly I know exactly what you mean.  So, now that you’re living, temporarily, in the land of 100,000 musicians, and been featured in an indie rock sensation’s music video, I have to ask….are you in a band? 

No.  I have very little musical talent.  I can kind of play the sax and am “funny” at karaoke, but not good.

That being said, if you could sit in with any band, active or not, for just one show, who would it be?

I would love to sing backups with Andrew W.K.

What does the future hold for you post WKUK?  Will you still tour with the troupe, or is officially disbanned?

The troupe is still together!  We’re writing a movie, we’re working on a tour, and I’m sure you’ll see us around the TV in one way or another.  We’re definitely not done filling the world with poop jokes.

Most importantly, where did you learn to dance with such grace and zest?

You know what’s crazy?  I can actually explain that.  Every summer between the ages of 12 and 16, I attended an arts day camp for a week.  One of the mandatory classes was ballet, and so I actually know some ballet moves.  That’s silly.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I can’t remember exactly, but I’m sure it was either the baby or a fart.

Melanie Martinez [Interview]

 Parents and children alike knew Melanie Martinez as the official tour guide to bedtime on PBS Sprout’s “The Good Night Show”.  Melanie sat every night on cable television alongside a lovable stuffed star, cleverly named, Star between airings of popular children’s cartoons.  With a warm smile and even warmer heart, Martinez guided our children off to sleep in a magical way.

And then all hell broke loose.

The story of how Melanie Martinez was unsightly canned by the folks at PBS for starring in a hilarious viral video years before taking the job at PBS has been clearly documented within the realms of newspapers, on line gossip rags, and late night comedy shows alike.  And honestly, I don’t want to talk about.  If you want the details, Check out Blogger Michael Getler’s piece for the PBS Ombudsman entitled, “A Tale of Two Actresses”.

No, I am more interested in the amazing things Melanie has been accomplishing since her departure.  Especially an amazing new animated short she has been working on with her husband, director/musician Mark Newell, entitled Slap Back Jack:  The High Five Master.  With all the hype mostly dead and gone, it’s time to see what our former heroine of a child’s night has been doing.  So I decided to ask her a few questions about her latest ventures.  But beware, more amazing controversy is sure to arise.  And it to make it all better…..it involves Shaun Cassidy.  Enjoy!

It’s been a while since PBS pulled a fast one on you and pulled your slot on Sprout’s “The Good Night Show”. But, is it safe to say that you have recovered nicely from the whole ordeal?
Perfectly recovered, thank you for asking. Although, the experience did throw me for a loop when it happened, I was fortunate to be offered roles right away and continued to be a working actor. The one thing that constantly surprises me is the support I receive from Sprout fans. I still get emails from parents who watched me as “Melanie,” with their children. It is very kind and lovely to be thought of. Very humbling.

You seem to have swayed into a behind the scenes sort of “behind the scenes” character, alongside your active acting career.  What made you transition to a spot behind the camera?
Yes. I am a producer, as well. It is a skill I acquired as a struggling actress that I love. There is a time early on in most actor’s careers, when we had to have day jobs. Right out of college, I   tried to wait tables to make extra money like my other friends. It didn’t work. I was very bad at it, but I was a downtown theatre actress and needed to pay the rent. I started working for Deborah Feingold, the legendary celebrity photographer, and ended up producing huge shoots for her. I dove in and found I really enjoyed   it.  As I started to get more acting work, I was lucky enough not to have to supplement my income anymore, but knew I would produce again if I got the chance. I’m a big picture person and I like telling   people what to do!

 For those unfamiliar with the award-winning animated short you produced, Slap Back Jack, could you give us a brief synopsis on what the film is about?
Slap Back Jack: High Five Master is a kid-friendly 11 minute stop motion animated short film narrated in rhyme. It tells the tale of how a star baseball player loses his mojo after returning to home plate and cannot manage his high-fives with his teammates. His coach advises him to see Slap Back Jack, the legendary high-five   guru. It is a fun positive story of self-esteem, friendship, and hope. With some amazing banjo to score it! The children who see it always clap along.

How did you become associated with the short’s director and animator, Mark Newell?
Mark Newell is a talented Production Designer for Commercials. He does those hilarious Sports Center spots, among many other popular campaigns. I met Mark back in my struggling acting days. The salad years. He was an artist and in a rock band at the time. I became a fan right away. He is one of those people that can do anything and you root for. I married him 15 years ago and never looked back.  Together, we are unstoppable!

Where did the idea of a “High Five Master” as a hero originate from?
When our son was about 4, Mark desperately wanted him to share his love for baseball. He had grown up playing every single kind of sport, but baseball was a passion. He needed him to love the game but, Jasper was not interested, until Derek Jeter hit a homer, got to home plate and gave his mate a special high five. Jasper’s head  whipped around and he was glued to the screen. He was hooked. As a song writer, Mark began jotting down this epic tale with a happy man named Jack. He read me some of the song/story and I immediately   thought it should be a
children’s book, so I encouraged him to continue. My focus at the time was to get it published, but then Mark came home from his art studio with this little clay head…

Is it difficult trying to promote an independently produced animated feature in the overtly Disney/Pixar saturated business that is children’s entertainment?
Of course, it is. Which is why we made a short and not a feature. We have been so fortunate with Slap Back Jack on the film festival circuit, receiving recognition for the story, character, and
music. It doesn’t get any better than that. Recently, we got a golden stamp of approval from NAPPA (National Parenting Publication Awards) and a wonderful endorsement from Kid’s First.  For children’s programming, that goes a long way.  We also took Jack to the Baseball Film Festival at the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. It was a very proud moment. A dream come true.
The short has definitely received great praise within the realm of animation, and has even spawned a second episode.  So, what can we expect to see next?
Our second shorter short, White Gloves Willy, was an experiment to see if we could gently move Jack away from sports to broaden our topics. Willy is a traffic cop. It works. Cartoon Brew picked it as a focus and BAMkids Film Festival just asked if they could include it in their festival this year. We are in the process of expanding Jack’s world for a television series and are creating the pitch book for it now. He has a house band, a neighbor, etc.  Music is being written as I type! It is a very exciting time. I also see the book, game apps, and a feature-length film on the horizon. Mark and I work so well together and speak in a short hand that is very helpful during such a tedious process. We are having a ball with this project.
According to your website’s Bio section, you “choreographed” complex roller skating routines to Shaun Cassidy songs”.  Personally, I find this absolutely amazing.  Do you still know any of these routines, and how quickly can you get them on YouTube?
Ron, four wheels are unicorns and rainbows for me!  We have a weekend country house in upstate NY and in the “big town” there is the most incredible roller rink. It is my paradise. If I start YouTube-ing my routines, I may not give you credit, but know you had a part, okay?
And, of course we have to ask, what does the future hold for Melanie Martinez?
In the near future, I will continue to sell you products like cell phones and bank accounts in 30 second spots, as a commercial actress. I will produce an incredible show about a clay high-five master for the whole family to watch. Using YouTube, I will create a hilarious roller skating character who dances out her feelings to songs like, hmm…”Fire” by The Pointer Sisters? I’ve
always wanted to be a viral sensation. Oh wait…

Now, what might be the most important question of all….What was the last thing that made you smile?
Well, I smile every day, but on Tuesday, Mark and I had a parent/teacher conference at noon.  We heard how wonderful our son is doing in school-he is a voracious reader, encourages others, excels in math, etc. Then at seven, we watched him walk the red carpet with Tilda Swinton and Lynne Ramsay for his new movie, We Need To Talk About Kevin.  It was a really good day.

To learn more about Melanie Martinez, check out her official website.  And find exclusive information on Slap Back Jack: High Five Master at the films website as well.

Rob Benedict [Interview]

6 years ago a campy independent comedy came out that probably made everyone who saw it, be just a bit nicer to the employees of your favorite middle class oriented restaurant.  You know which one I am talking about.  It Was Waiting…  And if you’re like me, you can’t look at raw chicken and not see Luiz Guzman’s balls.  And, that if Dane Cook is only limited to a couple of tacky one liners, he can be at least tolerable.  But, what got me the most, was sweet, dear, lovable, Calvin.  The man who developed the inability to urinate in public because of the dreaded “guy in the other stall looking at him too hard”.  He was also the pathetic doe eyed man covering a double shift for a woman he loved, who in turn had no interest him whatsoever.  I just wanted to hug this guy, and tell him everything was going to be okay.  As awkward as he was, he was the only real character in the film.  Well, the kid from Freaks and Geeks who hasn’t seemed to grow out of his awkward phase yet was there too, sad, and doe eyed as well.

But, the man behind Calvin is somebody entirely different.  He is the great Rob Benedict!  And, I despise the fact that I felt the need to give a brief synopsis on Waiting to make sure people know this amazing actor.  I remember him from shows like the now defunct Head Case, and more so for his reoccurring role in Felicity.  You remember Felicity!  It was the chick show you secretly loved to watch with your girlfriend, but always pretended to hate because of your infectiously masochistic stamina in life.  Shame on you!  But, most recently I caught Benedict again in 2010’s A Little Help.  Here we found Rob, still playing a funny and lovable character, sad even.  But, this time it was serious.  He had real issues.  His character was moving, awe-inspiring even.  It was amazing to see this obviously talented actor take on a somewhat more serious role as a pot smoking dad who desperately wants to support his son, although his wife won’t let him, all the while having a full-fledged crush on his sister-in-law that has lasted over twenty years.  This is the sort of stuff that indie gems are made of.  And Rob Benedict was more spot on with this role than anyone I have ever seen anyone perform….ever!

I decided to do a bit of research, and soon came to grips with the fact that I knew Rob elsewhere…..as the front man for the L.A. based indie rock band Louden Swain.  An amazing group that always seemed to turn up in talking circles somewhere, but I never truly dove into their music as a package.  But when I did just a few days ago, I fell in love.  And with a new album, Eskimo, coming out this December, I thought it would be nice to exchange a few words with Rob Benedict himself to tell us a bit about what it is like to be a character from a cult film, where he’s headed, learn a bit about Louden Swain, and, obviously, what it was like kissing Jenna Fischer!

Rob Benedict is an amazingly nice and talented person.  You are in for a treat.  Let’s go:

Let’s start with saying this….if IMDB is correct, you turned 41 years old this year.  Yet you still appear to be easily in your twenties?  What the hell is your secret?  Carrot juice?

I did??  Man, no one told ME that.  Maybe that’s my secret.   I don’t know, I work out, I meditate, I maintain a pretty naive and energetic approach to life.   That probably helps.  ….that, and truckloads of carrot juice.

Are you recognized often for your role as the nervous Calvin in Waiting?  Is it getting old?

It’s only awkward when it happens in bathrooms!  What with Calvin’s  fear of peeing in public restrooms and all.  I fear people recognizing me while I’m at a urinal.  No, it doesn’t get old– we had such a blast making that movie and at the time we weren’t sure how it would be received or if it would be received at all.  The fact that it has this little cult following is awesome.

How about when pesky interviewers ask if it get’s old….is this getting old?

Not yet.  I’m still stuck on the fact that IMDB outed my age.

In 2010 we seemed to see a slightly more mature recreation of your roles in Felicity.  Can we expect even more serious roles in the future?

It’s hard to say what the future holds……the kind of actor I am, it’s hard to predict.  Coming up, I have two fairly straight roles in an episode of Psych, and then an episode of Shameless.  But then I’ve also recently wrapped a mockumentary shot for the DVD/Blu-ray of Hangover Pt 2, that is all comedy.  I think I tend to be most comfortable somewhere in the middle– where I can shove a little comedy into an otherwise dramatic turn.   I will say that the role I played in A Little Help was especially gratifying because it was so close to who I really am.  You know minus all the extra marital stuff.  But I would like to continue to play roles like that, and explore that genre more too.


Not to be too invasive….but when you were kissing Jenna Fischer, did you feel like Jim Halpert for a couple of seconds?

Jenna’s a sweetheart– it was definitely not difficult  play someone with a crush on her.

If you could, tell us a bit about this new short you wrote and starred in, Lifetripper?  How did this come to light?

The film’s director, Graeme Joyce, was introduced to me through a mutual friend.  He had this idea of doing a short about a guy who was a mechanic, who on his bus rides to and from work, would light up the bus with stand up comedy, and then he is finally persuaded to actually go onstage and perform.   I used to do stand-up back in the day, and Graeme and I got together and poured over all my old stand up tapes and put together what became this little movie.  I  was thrilled with how it came out.  It’s a sweet little film.   It should hit festivals later this year.

Now, like any real actor, you are also a musician.  Tell us a bit about Loudon Swain.  What is your role in the band?

My role is that of lead singer and rhythm guitar player.  We started playing about 10 plus years ago but in the past five years, things have really picked up for us.  We’ve just completed our fourth full length CD, and returned from a tour in Europe.  The fans have been amazing, and really have developed this online following.  We also had a song in my movie, A Little Help  earlier this year which was a trip.

The new album, Eskimo, sounds phenomenal.  Are there any plans for a tour in support of its official release in December?

Thanks– yeah, we’re putting together a press package and setting up some US tour dates now.  Most likely we’ll be doing press in December, and then it’s actually released in the US (and on iTunes) in January.  We’ll have a big blowout gig here, and then hit the road for a series of mini tours.

What is the inspiration behind the songs you and Loudon Swain write?

So many different things, really.  Usually I bring in a song I’ve written on an acoustic guitar and the band will work its magic and we’ll mold something together.  In terms of what my inspiration is when I write– it kind of depends on the mood I’m in– happy, depressed, goofy, whatever, and it finds its way into the lyrics.  Sometimes its about me, sometimes I’ve made someone up.  In Eskimo, a lot of the lyrics tended to drift toward a feeling of isolation, and coming to terms with who you are amidst your surroundings– in the song “Eskimo” there is the lyric “it’s like teaching architecture to an Eskimo/you can show him everything you know/he’s still gonna build it out of snow”.  And that kind of became the theme of the album.  We’d originally envisioned the picture of an init wearing a huge fur parka standing in the middle of the desert.  The idea that you can take the man out of his surroundings but you can’t take the surroundings out of the man sort of thing.  In terms of the feel of the song, a lot of it depends on who we’ve been listening to.  We all bring a wide range of influences to the table.  For the Eskimo album, there was a lot of Wilco and My Morning Jacket being batted about.  I think that found its way into a lot of the songs.  But then there’s stuff from our past that creeps in as well.  Borja (Mike Borja, our bassist) and I were always big REM fans, and that tends to sneak in.  We’re all also big classic rock fans and there’s always a hint of that as well.

Finally, what was the last thing that made you smile?

This question itself kind of makes me smile….Man– I tell you  when  we were in Europe just now playing these shows, I was grinning ear to ear every night.  We played for about 100 people on the last night of the tour, in London, and you have all these people singing along to the songs– it doesn’t get much better than that.  We’ve worked really hard as a band and it was such a nice payoff for all the work we’ve put in. I was talking to a friend about this the other night, and I think this applies to my acting career as well–just to tie the whole interview together here– But there are some things you experience as you get older, that you are able to enjoy and even DO better– things you might not have been able to pull off 5 years ago.   But you get to a certain point where opportunities come your way, and it’s all so much more gratifying because of all the time and work you’ve put in leading up to this point…you’re ready for it.  That idea makes me smile too.

To learn more about Rob Benedict, check out his website, robbenedict.com .  And for more information about Louden Swain, and to pre-order Eskimo today, check out loudenswain.com

Thomas Pridgen [Interview]

Prodigies.  They are obviously a rare sort.  Often confused with a “natural”.  Natural would induce the thought that a person never really had to work at perfecting their ability.  But even those born with the ability to do something amazing have to work their ass off to achieve near perfection.  Perfection being an obvious impossiblity, considering nobody can really even know if they have reached such a mythological idealism without being around after a rapture or the complete extinction of mankind (whichever might be an actual outcome).  But somewhere between naturalistic abilities and prodigal abilities, we find the occasional human who holds the ability to do something so fucking well, it can make us sick with envy.  Envy being the highest form of flattery, of course.  And in the world of drumming, Thomas Pridgen is an obvious node to look towards when considering the best of the best of the best.  So, is there really a difference between a prodigy and a natural.  Beethoven could be considered a natural since he couldn’t hear the shit he was producing.  Mozart might be a prodigy because he had no reason to be good at what he did.  In the end, who gives two unheard, or unwarranted,  shits?
I was fortunate enough to get a few words from one of Rock N Roll’s latest prodigal sons, the aformentioned Thomas Pridgen.  Here we have a cat who has been playing the drums since he was able to walk, and managed to destroy the competition before he even had pubes.  He might as well be a registered genius on the drum kit.  With the grandious support of his grandmother, Thomas went on to do amazing work.  He spent three years with the megastar hard rock group The Mars Volta before he took off on his own to form the hottest new act, The Memorials.  He’s also worked with the likes of Keyshia Cole and Juliette Lewis. (Side note:  Ironically, this man has worked with two women I would probably faint from excitement if I saw them in person.  Embarassing for me, but obviously impressive for this amazing artist.)  Pridgen is an amazing artist who deserves ten fold the amount of praise he has already received.  It is our pleasure to introduce the man who needs no real introduction (therefore, I won’t)…..Let’s begin.
What influenced you to pick up the drums at such a young age? 
I was basically raised going to church. My church, Evergreen Baptist Church, was one of the biggest churches in the area at the time so a lot of people and different church groups would come through….i even think Jesse Jackson came and spoke there…My grandmother (still) plays piano in church so I’d always be at the choir rehearsals and outdoor church functions.
You’ve done drum clinics across the globe.  What do you feel you have learned the most from in your tenor as an artist?
Well, being a drummer you’re always in the back. I think the drum clinics have helped my teaching. I’ve never had to explain what I do in this way. When your the only person on stage, it’s like being under the microscope.
How much stress is involved in being labeled a prodigy?
I’m stressed by the title. I stress myself out mainly because I’m always trying to get better. I guess as a career musician, feeling like “play and create or don’t and die” is a normal feeling. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do.
What do you love most about your new band, The Memorials?

The Memorials

I love the music, I like that we are creating. If people like it or don’t like it, we’re still throwing the paint around and as artist that’s living. Testing your works on the world. I also like what we represent: hard hitting music/musicians. We’re not out here selling out and we’re not over here trying to recreate anyone else’s sound. We’re focusing on how we wanna sound, how we wanna look and how we want this music to feel. I’m not down with being extra corny to sell a download.

You’re going to be turning 28 pretty soon.  Do you fear that you might start slowing down the rampant pace of drumming you are widely known for?
Naw not at all. EverydayIi feel like im getting better . The only reason i know im turning 28 is because I’m counting with you. I’m still changing and improving my drumming style. I’ve also been throwing in way more influences and styles. I’m in this for the long haul. Buddy Rich didn’t ever slow down, I dont think I’ll every slow down either.
Is there a sound in existence that you think you just couldn’t match up with or learn to play?
Yeah, Squarepusher and Venetian Snares always have crazy shit I wish I could play on records.
What might be the most important question I will ask in this entire session……is Juliette Lewis nice in real life?
Juliette Lewis is one of the coolest people you ever wanna hang out with and she’s an awesome artist. Love to Juliette for sure.
Where your sessions with Keyshia Cole restricting to you by any means due to the more mild content?
No. Keyshia and I have always been friends and usually when I play behind her and other singers, I try to support them and their style.  Everyone who comes to her shows wants to hear her voice and those tunes, so I try to just present the music in a way that’s appealing to their audience.

If you could play drums for any historical figure’s spoken word album, who would it be?

That’s an awesome question…..I think I’d pick Nelson Mandela.
How many instruments do you think you are proficient at to date?
One. The drums. I program and sample pretty good but, I’m a drummer. That is my instrument. Well, I guess that and the spray can.
What did you take professionally and personally from your time in The Mars Volta?
Just the work ethic and writing techniques. Playing in [The Mars Volta] totally helped me figure out what was musically acceptable. They lit the fire and now I’m off.
 Something that always intrigues me with certain artists….where do you keep your Grammy?
It’s at my Grannies. She gets to see it more than me, haha, that was for my family.
Finally….What was the last thing that made you smile?
My 5 year old son. He was trying to play my double bass kit today.

Ember Schrag: A Cruel, Cruel Woman [Album]

Ember Schrag acts as the reinvention of the poet as an performer in the form of a beautiful Midwest born folk singer. Her voice is pretty. Her guitar gently cries out in pain, and squeals with delight. But, it’s her stanzas of triumphant poetic intentions that really make A Cruel, Cruel Woman a wonderful album. Our heroine has chosen the country twang spirit to spread her message of beauty through music. Probably a wise choicee on her part. If Patti Smith was the first lady for punk rock, that scene would crumble under the weight of Ember’s words.

The subtly unsettling track “Iowa” is one missing dog, truck, or lover away from being a stereotypical mushy country track. But, with lyrics so deep in a metaphorically sense, all tags disappear. “Dark Lion Lover” is the key track that puts A Cruel, Cruel Woman further away from stereotype hell. The twang in Schrag’s voice subsides for a few minutes, as though she is possessed by the spirit of a New York City coffee shop hidden away in an alley of darkness and artistic revolution. The obvious single, “Two Suns” is about loving just a bit too much. It’s catchiness is what proves this woman to be an all around substantial artist with so much to give.

This is an album that pulls apart reality as we once thought it to be. At times Ember is sweet and compassionate. Others, she is frank yet well spirited (for example: “I can pick a guitar/ But not like I can pick a man.”) A Cruel, Cruel Woman is for the artist in all of us. From the untalented crypt keepers of late night Denny’s dining, to the young girl sitting on rusting train tracks in a cornfield somewhere in the middle of herself and nowhere. For every ounce of pain we feel, Ember gives that much understanding back, and then some.

Find out the latest news from Ember Schrag at her Website.


The Occupy Wall-Street Movement started months ago, in response to the ever transparent corporate influence in government.

Millions of people are out of work.

I stepped out of the train into Government Plaza (or “People`s Plaza”) into an arena flanked on all sides by large modern skyscrapers. These same skyscrapers are home to some of the largest corporations in America. Walking across the plaza you see lines of police, standing, watching, and waiting. Some may have been wondering how long till their shift is done. Well, it appeared so on some of their faces.

Looking towards the plaza there was a sense of optimism, joy, determination, and hope. It was a new energy about this protest something different compared past`s protests. We see people old, young, disabled, veterans, etc… All gathered with their own agenda in their own quest for their own personal idea of change in society. One of which I can say with my own bias that we desperately need in our grand American society. I sat down on the edge of an empty foundation taking all these thoughts in trying to piece together this phenomenon. There was a woman who was sitting next to me in her mid-30s I presume, and engaged her in conversation. I found out her name was Nancy, a mother of two, and a registered nurse by profession. So, I decided to ask her the question of the day(“why are you here?”). She replied, “I`m here because, I am tired of seeing the country stroll down the path that it is. Our nation is too precious to be left for sale by the highest bidder.” She went on to say,”my two kids need hope in this country, a country founded on the principles of democracy, and I have yet to see real democracy in a long time”. This it would seem is reasonable enough a majority of the people squatting here would agree with her direction of views.

I parted ways with Nancy, and began to walk further about this mass collection of eclectic people. I ran into a construction worker, who had a very comical sign that  read”Turn off Fox, so easy a caveman can do it.” This I had to take a picture of. The gentleman began to tell me that it was far too cold to  put on the caveman outfit that he normally associates with the sign. The more I progress the more clever signs I see. All sorts of Organizations had tables set up,  passing out their literature, waving flags, and showing solidarity toward the climate of the protest. The two most visible of these organizations were the local Socialist Action chapter, and the I.W.W.(Industrial Workers of the World). These groups are naturally very suspicious of capitalism and would love nothing more to rid society of it. Which the attitude of  the Occupy Movement seems to embody.

Although given the large percentage of these two groups they wasn’t a driving force of leadership. A small organization of a few college kids had organized this OcccupyMN movement, which is very interesting to note. The embodiment of true Democracy takes place in this movement.Everyone has a stake in the decision-making process, no elite few, but a group decision. This is the true center piece of this movement: true Democracy, no elitist hierarchy, but a government for the people by the people. We have seen a new awakening among the common people, a peasant`s revolt of sorts, but a revolt that is a long time coming. Americans seem to be waking up to the reality in which they truly live, and quite frankly are pissed off. Every American needs to exercise their right of protest whatever their ideology.

Democracy isn`t a system, but an embodiment of ideas. It is made up of people, people with their own ideas, and envisions for the future. Together, as people we can bring back what Democracy truly is: Hope.

Mesmer: The Ghost of a Tennis Court [Album]

Europe (more specifically, all of Europe besides the UK, Sweden, & France) have never let go of the sound shaping electronic poetics that the U.S. rarely sees done on a regular basis. Sure, we will always have our well known and credible pyschedelia artists, but we bounce around in the pop world a bit too much to ever bring a band like say, Simple Minds, back in the spotlight. But over in the land of our founding fathers’ fathers, a band like Mesmerhas room to run. And an album like The Ghost of A Tennis Court is the soundtrack to their existence.

Listening to this album is similar to hearing The Cure for the first time….first time sober that is. The energy is so pure and well groomed. Before things get too out of hand, Mesmer settles it down and brings in the hollowed vocals that sound like they are being brought to you from the end of a supernatural hallway. Except for the amped up punk rock meets Tom Jones “On Fire”. There’s no rationalization as to why it’s okay to piss yourself when this acid fused track kicks out. Just clean up the urine, and move on. Then move over to “Teenage Dreams” to dance around to a John Hughes worthy prom song.

Yes, our boys from Finland have found a way to spread their appeal to a much wider audience. Everyone wants to conquer the world at some point. Few try too hard. Some not enough. Some just rely on their ability to discuss nature and nobility in a strange manner. Hence, the power of Mesmer. No, they’re not likely to take over the world. But, they are sure to stir it up before they leave.

Quiet Life [Band]

Good old fashion down home and Neil Young inspired tunes to sip whiskey from a cup made of tin. This is what you can expect from a Quiet Life song. So, break out the flannel and let these Portland based Americana masters take you down a grassy trail littered with pain, love, and a prestigious sense of what is natural and/or necessary to continue on breathing. For all the eighties babies out there that truly believe they were screwed from conception by being born far to late, here is a group that can bring forth the nostalgia you wish you could have. Here is old school storytelling dubiously running through a new school musical disobedience.

One of Quiet Life’s finest tracks has to be the harmonica driven & twanged out “Cave Country”. It would be entirely impossible to feel like shit when you listen to this song. In fact, the line “Feels so good” is constantly repeated for reinforcement. Nicely played. “Big Green” takes you on a dusty path slightly skewed from the previous mentioned track. This is old school folk to the core. The difference between these tracks perfectly demonstrates the awesome versatility these lumberjacks of indie rock have. They portray a sense of respect for the past that often goes untouched. What a well rounded batch of pine forest folksmiths.

Catch Quiet Life on tour this winter all over the eastern side of the country!


Fayetteville, AR

George’s Majestic Lounge

with Dr. Dog


Oxford, MS

Proud Larry’s

with Dr. Dog


New Orleans, LA


with Dr. Dog and Felice Brothers


Charleston, SC

The Music Farm

with Dr. Dog and David Vandervelde


Athens, GA

40 Watt Club

with Dr. Dog and David Vandevelde


Knoxville, TN

Bijou Theatre

with Dr. Dog and David Vandervelde


Boone, NC

Legends @ Appalachian State University

with Dr. Dog and David Vandervelde


Chattanooga, TN

Track 29

with Dr. Dog and David Vandervelde


Philidelphia, PA

World Cafe Live

w/ Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside


Easton, MD


w/ Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside


Brooklyn, NY

The Bell House

w/ Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside


New Haven, CT

Cafe Nine

w/ Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog


New London, CT

venue TBA (iamfestival@gmail.com for more info)

w/ Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog


Manchester, NH

138 Listening Lounge


Durham, NC

Duke University

with Cotton Jones


Asheville, NC


with Cotton Jones


St. Augustine, FL

The Original Cafe Eleven

with Cotton Jones


Atlanta, GA

The Earl

with Cotton Jones

Women Asking Men Out For a Date?

Too much to lose, to ask her out,

I want her to choose, there’s no doubt.

For if I ask, and she rejects,

she’ll drop me, our friendship next.

She’ll think I’m a creep, a horny guy,

wanting one thing, and that’s a lie.

All I want, is her with me,

to treat her nice, like a lady.

So I’ll rest, and quiet I’ll be.

playing the game, of wait and see.

Our friendship to risk, so I sit and pout,

till she gives me a clue, or asks me out.

-From the Pistolero Poet.

What a profound question! Yes, profound! If it’s 1957…

So I’m talking to my roommate the other day about dating. I shared my (often humorous) experiences in the dating world. Being gender-variant clearly never helped my case… Ever. Primarily because having a more feminine mindset is a pretty terrible thing to have if you’re trying to pick up women. This is probably because we were both thinking the same thing; “I’ve given them every indication that I like them, why wont they ask me out?” And thus, we eventually walked away feeling like the other person just wasn’t all that into us when in all actuality, we were crazy about each other. Me with my crippling shyness, and her not wanting to impose or step on my toes wasn’t a good combination. I often wondered why my friends consistently tried to hook me up with other shy people. What happens when you put two shy people in a room together? No one speaks! Oddly enough, my shyness is what attracted many of those same women to me, but due to our cultural axioms, they never thought about making the first move. I related to my roommate that I could have had many more relationships had the girl just taken the first step. I’m not saying she should have swept me off my feet and paid for everything, but a simple “I like you” would have been enough for me to see that she had the same feelings for me as I had for her and would have given me the confidence to ask her out without fear of ruining a sterling friendship. What is the deal with women never wanting to make the first move? They joke about how unobservant, unintuitive, unempathetic and emotionally detached we are, but in the same breath they expect us to know what she’s thinking and if the mood is right.

My roommate said that most guys are intimidated by girls asking them out. That their fragile ego would prevent them from accepting the experience as a positive one. She went onto say that most guys want a more submissive girlfriend, and asking them out would show that they were too assertive. Obviously, I disagreed. She said that my experience as a male wasn’t a typical one and that other people would agree with her. Luckily, I just happen to work in an environment that is packed full of macho bravado. So, off I went to work to ask what everyone thought. I wanted to ask everyone I could to get a good cross-section of what the popular male opinion was on the subject. Without fail, every single guy said the same thing… They were totally fine with a woman asking them out. Some preferred it, most felt that the concept of the old tradition was outdated and irrelevant. A surprisingly progressive outlook for such a traditional area! I asked the question outside of work, in casual conversation. Again, everyone said that it was fine, some even went so far as to say that the whole idea of men asking women out was silly because women are more picky, thus if women asked men out you could eliminate much of the risk of rejection.

A history lesson from an old timer really put it in perspective for me. He related that back in the old days, women didn’t work (unless they were a teacher or nurse). So women were seen as not really bringing anything to the relationship. More of an object, something that needed to be taken care of. Since the man was the only provider, it would have been seen as imposing or vain for a woman to ask a man out. Something like the old adage, “beggars can’t be choosers”. I told him that it sounded incredibly sexist, he agreed but added that it was a common belief back then. Everyone thought that way. After I heard that, I couldn’t understand why women would want to perpetuate such a negative tradition.

Some of the comments I’ve heard after asking the question; How would you feel if a woman asked you out?

– Flattered.

– It would be refreshing, I’d really like that.

– Even if I didn’t like her, I’d still take her out just for asking.

– The best relationship I ever had started when a girl approached me.

– I’d be all about that. It takes all the guess work out of it so you have nothing to lose.

– Some guys may be intimidated by that. But they’d have to be really weak to be intimidated by a girl who liked them.

So, it seems the verdict is in. Girls take heed… If you want a guy to ask you out, get over yourself and ask him. It’ll be ok, really. You’ll probably win some cool points in the process.

I would ask that we keep this going. Is anyone out there offended by the idea of women asking men out? Anyone at all? I’m interested to hear what other people have to say about this subject, just leave your comments in the section below.

Mammoth Life: Kaliedoscopic Art Pop [Album]

photo by Rebecca Dreyfus

Somewhere in the Land of Make Believe in the sky, Mr. Rogers and Shari Lewis are taking a bath in warm red wine and dropping heaven acid as all their magical friends watch in confusion. Lambchops is freaking out. And playing on the dusty old CD player is Mammoth Life‘s prolific debut album Kaliedoscopic Art Pop. This album is described perfectly by it’s title. This is one of the happiest freakin’ albums of all time. This is the Disneyland of art pop. It also has the soul of an expressionless hermit. With these powers combined, something wonderful is sure to happen.

Bobby Sauder and Elizabeth Mead trade vocals better than honest teenagers traded baseball cards in the mid nineties. The harmonic “I Have Lost” pushes their capacity to 11. And “First Semester of College” will leave your head spinning in directions you never thought possible. These are songs for the light hearten and endearing spirit in all of us. Any given Mammoth Life track is a trip through a consciousness once only found in a C.S. Lewis children’s book (not those silly adult Christian books).

Yes this album is an almost traumatic display of artistic expression and possible LSD paranoia. When a group puts their entire being into something as special as this, the hard work shows. Mammoth Life can bring out the child and/or activist in all of us. And Kaliedoscopic Art Pop is one of the best pop spectacles to emerge in last decade.

Check out Kaliedoscopic Art Pop and more great work from Mammoth Life on their WEBSITE.