Gabe Dixon [Interview]


It was almost a decade ago when first discovered the magic of Gabe Dixon. I was dragged by my lovely wife to see a show that “she wanted to see this time”, which turned out to be Justin Nozuka, and was one we both thoroughly enjoyed. But while I found Justin very intriguing, and became a big fan afterwards….it was the middle act that blew my fragile mind. That middle act was The Gabe Dixon Band, featuring the man with the namesake smack dab in the middle of the trio. It was a magical experience, and I became a huge fan almost instantly. I can still be found swallowing down vodka tonics in my novelty GBD cup to this very day.

Directly after seeing Gabe perform live in that Portland club, I became entranced with his amazing songwriting skills and the brilliant career he had built for himself. And in the decade that followed, I became an even bigger fan of the work of Mr. Dixon, and have continued to follow his work fairly religiously. The Gabe Dixon Band has since disbanded (Fun fact: I caught the band’s drummer Jano Rix killing it with The Woods Brothers at Pickathon 2012, but that’s a whole other story), and Gabe has built an incredible solo career that is culminated in some very amazing accomplishments, which we shall discuss in the Q&A below.

We are so excited to finally have been able to get a few answers from one of the finest performers of the modern times. I simply cannot think of a better person to have featured on the site as our last interview of 2017! So with that, ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary musician, Mr. Gabe Dixon!

When did you first realize you had a talent for music? When did you realize you wanted to write and perform for a living?

Those were two different moments. When I was a kid, I started taking music lessons because my parents thought I should. Then, when I was about 11, I started trying to copy my favorites. Elton John was a huge inspiration for me at that age. He was one of the artists who made me want to write and perform for a living. As far as the talent thing, I was always told that I had a talent for music, but a few times in high school, my performances made people cry. That made me start to think that I might truly have a gift for music. And then, in college, when Eddie Kramer wanted to work with me and my band, I felt professional validation for the first time.

Can you recall the very first time you were on stage with the intention of entertaining an audience? What were you doing, and how did that go?


I played piano recitals starting at the age of 7, but I consider my first “real” performance to be when I was 12 at a summer camp talent show. I was so nervous because I had never sung and played at the same time in front of people. I sang “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, and the crowd just totally flipped out. Afterward, my fingers were bleeding from doing so many glissandos on the piano, and I felt higher than I’d ever been. And suddenly all of the girls wanted to talk to me. I’ll never forget that day.

And when did you truly have that “Aha!” moment, when you realized that you are indeed a working and living musician? That your entire livelihood was based around you creating magic in the form of music?


In my 20’s I went back and forth between paying my bills fully with music and working day jobs. After a certain point, I just decided to quit the day jobs and work extra hard at music, whether it was performing with my band or backing up other artists, or songwriting, I decided that I was talented enough and had the right experience to make a living at music. Even if I had to play on the street, I wasn’t going to take another day job. I felt like it was my responsibility to bring music into the world no matter the cost (or rewards). Before I knew it, I hadn’t worked a “real job” in 10 years.

I can still clearly remember seeing you perform at Berbati’s Pan in Portland almost a decade ago, then as The Gabe Dixon Band, and being blown away by your showmanship and talent. And you had been at it a for a long time prior to that, and are still consistently entertaining crowds on a regular basis to this day. So in all of your years as a performing artist, what would you say has been your most notable growth as far as stage performance is concern? What have you learned over the years that has helped you know what to do to entertain a crowd?


I’ve learned little things over time, like don’t put too many slow or fast songs together, don’t let there be too much dead space in between songs, etc. but mostly it’s about my being comfortable in my own skin. Since I was a kid, I’ve been kinda shy and introverted. Showmanship didn’t come naturally, but one thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s best to slough that stuff off when I go on stage. People don’t want to see some self-conscious person up there. They want to see the opposite. They want to see freedom. So, before I go onstage, I usually take a moment to get centered and say a little prayer to get my ego out of the way and let joy and love and good-times flow through me. I think it works. Also, most people want to sing and clap along, even if they don’t think they do, so I try to get the crowd involved in that way sometimes. It’s fun when we all make music together.


When you look back on the amazing career that you have had thus far in the world of music, what would you say is your proudest moment? Is there a singular event that you were a part of that sticks out in your mind as an event that can not be topped? Or maybe not a singular moment, but a collection of many?


I can’t help but think of playing keyboards with Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden. We performed a benefit for New York City firefighters after 9/11, and it was truly awesome and moving. I feel so lucky and grateful to have had that experience. And singing lead with Supertramp at a festival in France in front of 70,000 people was also a high point for sure. I also felt proud to sit in a movie theatre and hear myself singing a song I co-wrote, “Find My Way,” in the opening credits of The Proposal, which was the # 1 movie at the box office that weekend. But, to be honest, the most fulfilling thing is hearing people’s stories about how my music has helped or healed them somehow. When I hear those stories, I know I’m doing the right thing.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?


I have a new live EP called Live In Boston. It’s my first solo live record—just me playing piano and singing. I have also been releasing singles lately and will continue to do that for a bit. Maybe they will turn into an album at some point. I’m not sure yet. And the touring continues. Recently, I have been doing short weekend tours instead of the long marathon ones, so folks should keep checking the tour page of my website to see where I’m going to be.

What was the last thing that made you smile?


My one year old son this morning. His cuteness knows no bounds.

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D.C. Pierson [Interview]


For our first post-holiday showcase, we have some amazing words from the comedic genius you all know and love, the great D.C. Pierson. This cat is not only responsible for some of the earliest bits of hilarity that the internet had to provide, but he was a huge part of what will go down in history as one of the finest sketch comedy groups in history with his involvement in the legendary Derrick Comedy troupe.

And since those early days, D.C. has managed to keep himself very busy as he continuously creates amazing content for the screen, as well as putting out an original book of his own. Pierson is a man with a mind that just won’t quit, and we are all so fortunate that he continues to share the insanity that lives within his brain to the rest of us. He is a hell of a nice guy, and we are very honored that he has agreed to become a part of the TWS family. So without further ado, please enjoy some brilliant words from the legendary D.C. Pierson!

When did you first become interested in sketch comedy as a specific type of art form? Did you always feel that you would have the knack for it?

I had liked SNL a lot as a kid, like most Americans who eventually get into comedy. Then in high school our family got HBO and reruns of Mr. Show turned up really late at night. Then when I got to college the sketch group I joined aspired to do sketches with Mr. Show-style transitions (which were kinda Monty Python transitions, something else I’d been really into growing up) instead of blackouts so I kind of felt like “Awesome, these people know about and aspire to emulate this thing I kinda thought only I know about,” which was really exciting.

I have had the pleasure of speaking with several past and current members of the UCB world, and as a fan I understand what is so great about it from the viewer’s perspective. But, I always want to know how the player’s feel. What makes working with UCB a great experience for you personally? Is it all work and no play behind the scenes, or are you enjoying yourself as much as it seems?

UCB has grown so much and there are so many facets to it that I can’t speak to the whole experience with any degree of authority. For me personally it’s all play and no work because I go do an improv show there every week that requires zero preparation and we are lucky to have a consistent audience. There are also unpaid interns, managers, teachers, artistic directors, people writing and putting up scripted material, or hustling to attract audiences and industry to their shows, all of whom are doing a ton more work than me. I’ve filled several of those roles in the past but my current position has more to do with when I got into the UCB community and how small it was back then. I was very lucky in that respect. It’s so much bigger now and institutions change as they grow.

What can you tell us about the origins of Derrick Comedy? And what was the writing process like for these amazing digital shorts?

Donald, Dom, Dan, Meggie and myself were all part of the larger college sketch group I mentioned earlier (Hammerkatz). We didn’t have a formal writing process, it would be more like a bit would develop just in the course of us hanging out and it would stick around long enough to be remembered the next time we were going to take a weekend (as long as we still felt like it actually had legs as a sketch) and shoot a batch of sketches and then we’d say “Okay, that makes the shoot” and someone would script it, and there would definitely be feedback from everybody and it would get developed further on its feet.

What were those early days like becoming stars of the Youtube universe? And what are your thoughts on the progression, or regression, of the world of online media today?

It was very cool. YouTube was very new — that’s why we had “Comedy” in the name, there wasn’t a lot of scripted content up so we felt like we needed to demarcate it as “HEY, THIS IS SOMETHING PEOPLE MADE ON PURPOSE.” As far as online media now, I know it’s a lot harder to break through than when we were starting. That was another bit of good fortune. We were trying to get good at making sketch videos for their own sake when they suddenly became a commodity.

As far as shooting perspective goes, what would you say was the most entertaining and fulfilling video you worked on during your time with Derrick Comedy?

I think most of us would say New Bike. It sort of felt like a stylistic evolution for us, and was a lot more filmic, and wasn’t really a first beat / second beat / third beat / blackout kind of sketch.

You are also an acclaimed author with two books and several short stories, one book I am told is a must read, from people I trust, for these modern times is The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To. For those of us who have made poor judgements and have missed out on this modern classic, what can you tell us about it? Why should we checked it out already?

It’s cool that you’ve heard that! The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To is a coming of age sci fi adventure about two kids in suburbia who are working on a homemade comic book when one kid reveals to the other kid that he has no biological need for sleep. When they push further, they discover that as a byproduct of this not needing sleep, he can actually bring things from their comic book into real life. Action, comedy, and growing up ensue.

With my screenwriting partners and two of the members of Derrick, Dan and Meggie, I made this proof of concept for a film version of the book. If you like this, you’d like the book. And if you have millions of dollars, please give it to us to make the film:

http://whocouldntsleep.com

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Nothing to plug really. Continuing to work on screenwriting projects with Dan and Meggie and new literary stuff on my own. My twitter is @dcpierson and if you grew up in a similar pop cultural universe to mine you may enjoy the dumb jokes I do there.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’m listening to a box set called Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets that is a collection of 60’s era rock singles that capture the bay area music scene at the time. The music’s obviously great and the accompanying liner notes are really interesting. It was a unique and special time.

Check out DC’s aforementioned treatment for The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To:

Tom of Finland [Film]

Welcome to Day 12 of our unofficially titled “12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays”. For 12 days, we are showcasing 12 amazing non-holiday themed films for those of us who despise holiday films or the whole damned season altogether. Enjoy!

“Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II. But life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds post-war Helsinki rampant with homophobic persecution, and gay men around him are being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his liberating art: homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions.

But it is only when an American publisher sees them and invites Tuoko over to the West Coast that his life really takes a turn. Finally being able to walk free and proud in Los Angeles, Tuoko dives head first into the sexual revolution, becoming an icon and a rallying point. His work – made famous by his signature ‘Tom of Finland’ – became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of the worldwide gay revolution.” – Emma Griffiths PR

For our grand finale of our 12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays, we have a very special film to showcase. “Tom Of Finland” is a historical figure I quite honestly had no idea about until watching this cinematic masterpiece. With an absolutely brilliant portrayal of Tuoko himself, Pekka Strang gives the performance of his lifetime that deserves so much more acclaim than he has received this year. Whether you have a wealth of knowledge on the subject of the film, or you are novice like myself, Tom Of Finland is a gem of a film that you are sure to love.

 

Tom of Finland is available now VOD and wherever you stream movies! Check out the trailer here:

Driving While Black [Film]

Welcome to Day 11 of our unofficially titled “12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays”. For 12 days, we are showcasing 12 amazing non-holiday themed films for those of us who despise holiday films or the whole damned season altogether. Enjoy!

“Dmitri is a pizza guy who would rather smoke weed and suffer for his art, but his mom and his girl won’t stop nagging him to get a real job. When he’s offered a gig mouthing off to tourists behind the wheel of a Hollywood “star tour” bus, it looks like everyone might get what they want. Trouble is, our man can’t seem to step out the door to get to the interview without endless complications: busted radiators, simple weed scores gone sideways and LAPD cruisers seemingly everywhere. Dmitri’s skill at going unnoticed by cops is honed by painful experiences growing up Black in L.A., but even his keen survival instincts won’t save him from the week from hell.” – October Coast PR

Oh we have another amazing film with a real message to share with you fine folks today! Driving While Black doesn’t exactly leave much to the imagination of what the film may be about, yet it is filled with an abundance of surprises and startling content that is going to leave your simple mind absolutely blown away. And if it doesn’t, then it is possible that there is something absolutely wrong with you if you can not see this comedic pot of gold as anything short of a call for change and/or help.

Filmmaker Paul Sapino has managed to bring a collection of real life experiences from DWB‘s star Dominique Purdy to the big screen in one of the most compelling, and also hilarious at times, film of 2017. Purdy wasn’t entirely on my radar prior to watching this amazing flick, but his comedic wit and realistic acting abilities has definitely moved him up on the top of my must watch list. And Sapino seems to have a cinematic sensibility that is an absolutely positive addition to the world of film that simply should not be denied.

Driving While Black is definitely a stand alone piece of brilliant cinema and comparison to other works are not exactly necessary. But, I sort of feel like I have to do it. This film is absolutely Crash, but actually impactful, and just an all around better film. The impact of the film comes from its brilliant dramatization of modern day race relations, which is one thing that Crash tried to do, but time has shown that it ultimately failed. But the other comparison comes from the film’s focus on tying the every day lives of individuals into one singular story, which ultimately revolved around race relations. And this is just another example of how DWB absolutely beat Crash’s proverbial ass in this realm. I was absolutely shocked with the creative ways that this film manage to flip everything around and bring each individual story back around on its ass to create an ending that was a bit disturbing, only because it feels as though it is the most realistic way that a film like this could end. Also, it is based on actual events, so it was basically inevitable.

Overall, Driving While Black is an absolutely wonderful film that is worthy of multiple viewings, because each time you are guaranteed to learn something brand new. Of course, this is coming from a white guy with a blog. For those folks out there living every day in black skin, this may not be a real learning experience, but simply an amazing cinematic dramatization of everyday life that might be appreciated for its raw and unrestrictive commentary. But for the rest of you motherfuckers (me/us), please watch this movie a few times, and try to learn something. And if after a few viewings you still can’t get it, please at the very least, stay off the Internet. Forever.

Driving While Black will hit theaters across the U.S. on February 1st.

 

The Spiderwebhouse [Film]

Welcome to Day 10 of our unofficially titled “12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays”. For 12 days, we are showcasing 12 amazing non-holiday themed films for those of us who despise holiday films or the whole damned season altogether. Enjoy!

“12-year-old Jonas confidently takes on the responsibility for his two younger siblings when his mother leaves them behind for a weekend away. He isolates himself and his siblings more and more and they start to drift away into their own fantastic world. But the weekend grows into weeks in which the three children hear nothing from their mother. Food and money have long since run out and the house has become more like a haunted castle.” – October Coast PR

This is another great showcase of the human struggle, something that has become sort of a theme of our showcases here at Trainwreck’d Society. But, such is life. The Spiderwebhouse is also another film involving a cast of mainly children, yet alone it is about disertion and the struggle to stay alive, it’s far less disturbing that its predecessor in this showcase, Playground. No, this is a film that is filled with hope. It is a masterpiece of cinema built around 3 human beings who should never have to put so much focus on the hope of simply staying alive. Especially as it falls onto a 12 year old boy who is forced to make everything alright, in anyway he can.

And that 12 year old boy was performed brilliantly by the relatively new actor named Ben Litwinschuh, who I feel could really strive in the world of acting should he decide to continue putting out amazing performances like he did as Jonas in this film. The whole thing is centered around Jonas, and what he has to do to continue to provide for his younger siblings, as he shithead parents continue to only worry about their own problems. I say this is vain, knowing full well that Jonas’s mother was actually off dealing with an illness that she had to be cured of, in which we are lead to believe that she will be able to rid herself of her cursed demons, but sadly there is a greater chance that they will return. But, I feel as though there may have been a bit of a cultural difference that I may be missing out on when it comes to their estranged(?) father, who actually lives near by. What was his deal? I found it kind of hard to understand why he was unable to be more active in the situation, although he did try at a certain point, around the time that hope was all but lost.

 

But, that one factor about the father aside could not take away from the lovely story that was unfolding, and the cinematic genius that I was experiencing in watching this tastefully down piece of film gold. Filmmaker Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt has brought us something truly special in this black and white masterpiece. The black and white aspect of the film was actually an amazing touch, and is proof that sometimes this is how a story must be told. A sort of surreal element tends to divulge itself when the human eye is seeing a story being laid out from an unfamiliar lens. Screenwriter Johanna Stuttmann’s story of The Spiderwebhouse was so powerful that it probably could have worked in color, but after seeing the film like this, I wouldn’t want to imagine it in any other way.

The Spiderwebhouse is available now on VOD and wherever you watch movies. Check out the trailer for the film, right here:

Fast Convoy [Film]

Welcome to Day 9 of our unofficially titled “12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays”. For 12 days, we are showcasing 12 amazing non-holiday themed films for those of us who despise holiday films or the whole damned season altogether. Enjoy!

“Seven men, four cars and 1,300 kilos of cannabis leave Malaga, southern Spain, headed for Creil on the outskirts of Paris. But for Alex, Yacine and Majid, what should be a regular run turns into a fatal convoy. When Nadia, a young tourist traveling home from Morocco joins them, she’s dragged into their high adrenaline adventure. For one night, she and the audience are immersed in the violent reality of drug trafficking.” – Emma Griffiths PR

At its core, Fast Convoy seems like it is just another high speed thriller that is nothing short of an eye candy laced cinematic experience. Which is definitely true, but not a full and correct representation of what I saw on the screen whilst watching this French modern day classic of a thriller. It takes all of the elements of a Fast & Furious franchise that make it popular, but adds actual depth to the characters and storyline to make it even more enjoyable.

The intelligence of a thriller like this really should come as no surprise, as filmmaker Frédéric Schoendoerffer has been pulling of these sort of actual and proverbial stunts for quite some time, and Fast Convoy is just the latest (and possible the best)  piece of art in his arsenal. And while we are on the subject of brilliance, it behooves me to mention just how fantastic, and sometimes frightening,Benoît Magimel’s performance was in this film. It feels though a performance like this Magimel’s simply doesn’t come around as often as we would like. But when it does, it is fucking magic, and we are all the merrier for it.

Fast Convoy is more than just a film, it is an experience. It is a project filled with overwhelming and beautiful visual scenarios that are absolutely stunning. These visuals are based around a truly gripping and suspenseful story that will leave you wondering who you are exactly rooting for in the film’s scenario. The lines between good and evil are so blurred, you honestly will have no idea what to think. The only thing you are sure to understand is that you are in the moment with a truly brilliant cinematic experience, and you are going to hope that the ride never ends!

Fast Convoy is available now on VOD, and wherever you watch movies. Check out the trailer here:

Apocalypse Road [Film]

Welcome to Day 8 of our unofficially titled “12 Non-Holiday Films for the Holidays”. For 12 days, we are showcasing 12 amazing non-holiday themed films for those of us who despise holiday films or the whole damned season altogether. Enjoy!

“Following a post-apocalyptic event, two sisters are hunted down and separated by a gang of ruthless killers intent on creating their own twisted form of law and order.  The sisters must fight through this new, dangerous world to stay alive in the hopes of being reunited, and escaping to freedom.” – October Coast PR

I have to be forthright here, and say that I believe that Apocalypse Road is at the very least, a film that is WAY better than it should have been. The production value is so simple, that it actually thrives intensely because of it. So often I watch some of these lower budget films with up and coming actors, and the problem is always consistent: they over do it. Apocalypse Road is a film that simply does it right. It is an absolute visual masterpiece. The simplistic nature of the filming actually makes the film appear as though it was done with 7 to 8 figure budget. It is stylized perfectly, and each performance given is done with a perfect amount of zeal and demonstrates and appropriate amount of shock value at the right times. No one is safe, no one is of any real value. Overall, this is just a great story, brought masterfully into a visual realm.

My first question after a run through of Apocalypse Road was: who the hell is this Brett Bentman guy? Writer and director of this film, he has also put out a few other projects that are absolutely intriguing in their own right. But judging solely off of this one effort, I have to say that I already feel like we have the workings of a brilliant mind in the world of independent film who will one day thrive and become a household name in Hollywood. He is a filmmaker who can create such a great quality of work, that throwing a shit ton more money at him won’t entirely matter, but I’m sure he could figure out how to use it wisely! I have made it my goal to check out the rest of his work, and to follow along closely with whatever he does in the future. Get on board now folks, if you want to have that “I knew him when…” conversation in the very near future. I repeat, Brett Bentman is the future!

And it behooves me to mention that the film’s lead characters Ashlyn McEvers and Katie Kohler are absolutely phenomenal as well. In fact, with hopes of causing little to no spoilers in this article, there is a moment where Kohler uses the power of silence and facial expressions, followed by an outburst of fear and rage, to as perfectly describe a moment a character feels complete and utter regret about as perfectly as I have ever watched an actress do before at any level in their career. And McEvers pulls off a strong will in spite of everything character to a perfectly capital T. I’ve always been a fan of films with a strong female lead (according to my Netflix search criteria anyway), so to see a film like Apocalypse Road which features two very different characters, who are strong in their own manner, is a pretty damn good thing to see.

Apocalypse Road is all around fascinating, and is one of the finest post-apocalyptic tales to be brought to the screen in recent history. It is without a shadow of a doubt, a must see.

Apocalypse Road is available on VOD from Wild Eye Releasing. Check out the trailer below: