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was a time when Rock music was still young, but extraordinarily good.
Best example: Gypsy. A progressive
rock quintet that was, by turns, both fierce and sweet, featuring
extraordinary musical compositions, excellent musicianship (featuring
drummer Bill Lordan, who would go on
to fame with Sly & the Family Stone and the
Robin Trower Band), and beautiful vocals,
Gypsy lorded over L.A.'s Sunset Strip as the house band at the Whiskey
A-Go-Go around 1970. Pure Rock music never really got better than this.
Diana Olson talks with documentary
filmmaker Aaron Goodyear, who is
doing his best to rectify the error committed by history in allowing
this stellar unit to slip from its rightful place in the pantheon of
musical greats. After you read Diana's piece on the film project, spend
a little time listening to the music of Gypsy. It will remind you of how
filled with promise Rock music once was, even outside of The Beatles!
Go to the Gypsy article.
High on the Southern Rock of "The Higher Choir"
By Diana Olson
Rarely do I watch a music video of a band I have never heard and completely go crazy about them. This has happened with The Higher Choir. It took me a few minutes to figure out what it was I liked so much about them. The video "Working Mans Title" was well crafted and visually pleasing and singer Chance Walls has a style all his own. I enjoyed the infectious sustaining/droning guitar sound throughout the song. The southern rock and blues sound of the band along with their original storytelling style of songwriting creates an interesting and unique experience.
Besides performing in Atlanta at some hometown favorite spots and festivals, they have shared the stage with artists such as Joan Osbourne, Soul Asylum, and members of The Black Crowes. In November they went on a concert cruise to the Bahamas with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foghat and Blackberry Smoke.
Singer Suzanne Sledge from "68-75" said "Personally, I think The Higher Choir is one of the most important bands to come out of the South. They are a must-see live and they continue to grow year after year. I was proud to be a part of their latest recording and I hope 68 will share the stage with them soon. They are some of the nicest people I've ever worked with and I'm proud to call them friends".
Chance Walls answered some questions for me on behalf of the band.
Where did the name of the band "The Higher Choir" come from?
We came up with THC because there are quite a few of us in the band 7-9 depending on the night. Plus Choirs are associated w/ gospel and soul. Which me mix with southern rock and blues. It's fitting for us.
How did the band come together?
We have all been friends for along time and have played in several other bands together, it was only a matter of time before we banded forces and came up with THC.
Who were your early inspirations?
We take early inspiration from where we all grew up here in The South. We do a lot of story telling in our song writing all based on Southern Culture. We love where we are from and grew up and it's reflected in the music we produce. We all were brought up on 50's, 60's and 70's rock.
Who does the songwriting?
We all play a part in the song writing process. Alan Conner one of guitar players writes great songs so we all play our part in the build of that foundation. It takes us all to create what we do.
I see you have a cruise concert with Lynyrd Skynrd, how did that come about?
We do have a cruise this month w/ Skynrd and lots of other great bands. We were asked to play by management so we happily agreed to do it. Who doesn't want to cruise to the Bahamas w/ some of the best southern rock bands in the country.
What would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
In 5 years I think we would like to have a couple more records under our belt and continue touring and making videos. We would love to head to Europe next!
Tom Guerra - "All of the Above"
By Diana Olson
Tom Guerra, from Hartford Connecticut, has been around since the late 70's writing songs and playing his guitar with a variety of blues, rock n roll and R & B bands. Over the years, Guerra has recorded or played with Rick Derringer, The Dirty Bones Blues Band', Max Weinberg, Mark Nomad, Sticky Fingers (for which Tom wrote and arranged original music for the group's debut cd), The Easton Brothers with Muddy Waters bassist Charles Calmese, Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson from The Allman Brothers Band, Second Son, Guitar Shorty, Adolph Jacobs of The Coasters, Kenny Aaronson, and The Delrays, for which he received acclaim from Buddy Guy.
In 1999, he formed Mambo Sons with singer Scott Lawson. Their debut album featured guitar legend Rick Derringer. This twelve-song effort contained both new music as well as songs the two had originally written a decade before. Mambo Sons second CD "Play Some Rock & Roll!" (2002) was named top indie release of the year by NYRock magazine, and their third "Racket of Three" was called album of the year in Pattaya Thailand by legendary rock and roll author Mott the Dog.
In 2009, at the request of legendary guitarist Johnny Winter, Tom created the liner notes for Johnny's latest release "Vol. 4 - The Bootleg Series." Tom has subsequently written liner notes for other Johnny Winter albums as well. In August 2009, Mambo Sons released a 20 song double album entitled "Heavy Days". In early 2010, Cleveland's "Rock and Roll Report" named "Heavy Days" the best straight ahead rock and roll recording of the year. The band has a large cult following in the Northeast United States as well as a substantial fan base throughout Eastern Europe and Asia.
In 2012, Tom switched focus to his studio guitar service, helping other artists with their songs, arrangements and recordings. Of the hundreds of songs Guerra has written, two numbers have earned considerable praise for their positive and healing nature despite the gravity of subject. Immediately following the Sandy Hook school shooting in December, 2012, Tom wrote and recorded "Love Comes to Us All" to hoor the impacted families. In early 2013, Tom wrote and recorded "Put Up Their Names - The Ballad of the U.S.S. Frank E Evans" to honor the 74 sailors lost aboard the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Naval disaster off the coast of Vietnam in June 1969. According to Guerra, the purpose of the song is to bring attention to the U.S. Government's refusal to list the names of the 74 who died on the Vietnam Wall.
In 2014, Tom Guerra released his first ever solo album "All of the Above" featuring 11 new original songs, and featuring both Morgan Fisher, pianist from Mott the Hoople and Queen, and keyboard whiz Matt Zeiner on piano, clav and Hammond B3.
When did you start playing guitar and composing music?
Who were your early inspirations?
Considering all the name artists you have worked
with....who is your favorite?
How did the families of Sandy Hook School react to your song "Love Comes to Us All "? Also, what was the reaction to "Put Up Their Names" written for families of USS Frank E Evans?
About a week after “Love Comes to Us All” came out, I
got a very nice note from the first Selectman of Newtown, Pat Llodra
thanking me for bringing some comfort to her townsfolk.
Your new CD (and your first solo CD) "All of the Above" has a variety of styles in the original songs. Tell us about the songs and the album?
My goal was to try to make the kind of solid rock and roll album that nobody makes anymore, just a bunch of good 3 minute songs. The new cd has 11 original tunes on it, ranging for raunchy, guitar based rock and roll to more melodic stuff. There’s a lot of different styles on it, hence the title, but I think the sonics hold the whole thing together. It’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done, and it seems to have taken on a life of its own, especially after the Huffington Post story on it.
Unlike songs I’ve written that appeared on other albums I’ve been on, I wrote all of these for my voice, which is a baritone. Basically, I came up with “naked” acoustic demos of the majority of these songs, then decided which “clothes” would look best on them in regards to guitar and amplifier sounds, percussion, grooves, and basslines. I then added, then subtracted. to come up with the right parts and arrangements.
Where can fans buy it?
What do you want listeners to get from your music?
Are you currently touring or do you have any new projects in the works?
I am currently not touring due to a few factors…First off, I built these songs in the studio, though I have no doubt I could get a band together to pull them off live. Secondly, the absence of suitable venues in the Northeast that “allow” original music does sort of limit my ability to gig behind this album. After the new cd came out, I just finished the 2 cover tunes I recorded during the “All of the Above” sessions, which are “Pay in Blood” by Bob Dylan and “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” popularized by Mama Cass. You can hear both of these on my website – www.TomGuerra.com
68 - 75
A new breed of Rock and Roll out to change the world!
By Diana Olson
68-75 is singer Suzanne Sledge and guitarist Andrew Cylar. Their raw rock sound mixed with Suzanne's all out gutsy soulful southern edge creates a powerful style of rock. The band formed in 2011 and released their first EP in 2012. In 2014 they released a new full length CD "Stay On The Ride". Their sound has not gone unnoticed and numerous magazines and radio stations are raving about them. The band has shared the stage with the legendary Leon Russell, Joe Bonamassa, Blackberry Smoke, Jackie Greene, The Steepwater Band, Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, SIMO, Ike Stubblefield, Chris Duarte, Marc Ford and Trampled Under Foot, to just name a few. Excitement is continuing to build about this band with talk of a UK tour in the near future.
Suzanne, I have to ask how you came up with the name 68-75?
The short answer: We arrived at the name 68-75 by default. When we tried to come up with a proper name, every other name we tried was either really clumsy or tragic. 68-75 just seems to fit what we are attempting to do. The long answer: When we started back to work in 2011 we didn't have a name, so we half jokingly called ourselves the 68-75 rock and soul review. However, we weren't joking about our appreciation of the music made between 1968 and 1975. The music of that short eight year period is amazing. It could have been the influence of The Beachboys Pet Sounds in '66 and The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's, and Hendrix' in Are You Experienced in '67 that got everything rolling. Maybe it was the civil-rights and counter-culture movements that started people asking questions? Questions led people to be open to whatever, wherever and whomever they might find answers in. If you're open socially, culturally, politically you're likely open artistically, as well. Artists are able to produce amazing things when the audience is open and willing to listen. We don't know why really, but it just seems the stars aligned from 1968 to 1975 to produce incredible great music.
Who were your musical influences?
We listen and love all types of music, especially late 60s - 70s Blues, Rock, Gospel and Soul. We love the Stones, The Band, Aretha, Howlin' Wolf, The Who, Elmore James, Small Faces/Faces/Humble Pie/Steve Marriott, Nick Drake, Van Morrison, Donnie Hathaway, Serge Gainsbourg, Terry Reid, Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac, The Staple Singers, Zeppelin, Scott Walker, Bobby Womack, Neil Young, T-Rex, Mahalia Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, Buddy Guy, Stone The Crows, David Bowie/Mick Ronson, Thin Lizzy, James Brown, Bill Withers, Karen Dalton, Frankie Miller, Free...we really love Free. Those are really just a few of the artists we love.
We're still listening and finding contemporary music, too. We love The Black Angels, Mount Carmel, Anthony Hamilton, The London Souls, Maker, D'Angelo, Heartless Bastards, Tedeschi-Trucks band, Wolf People, Rosco Levee, The Steepwater Band, Stone River, Donnie (from Atlanta), Ozone Mama and the Buffalo Killers.
Who are the current band members?
It changes based on who we can find that can play with a feel for the
music we love. Atlanta has a lot of great musicians, so it comes down to
who is available. Right now we feel really luck to have Justin Senker on
bass and Joanie Ferguson on drums. When we record, we try to include
Marty Kearns on piano and Hammond organ.
Andrew, did you have music lessons growing up and when did you first pick up a guitar?
I've always been completely obsessed with guitars. The sound, vibrations, different shapes and styles of guitars. I would stare at guitars in Sears and Service Merchandise catalogs for hours when I was kid. We had a neighbor who would sit on his screened porch at night in the summer, drinking and playing his guitar. Some of the kids on my street would sometime sneak over and sort of hide near the bushes or sit very still behind the porch and just watch. It was the first electric guitar I ever saw someone play - live in person. It was a beautiful cherry red Gibson 335 and he'd sit there and play John Hooker like patterns on it with his thumb. He'd pretend like he didn't notice us, but he'd turn the porch light on so we could see. Like most musicians, I think he was secretly happy to have any audience at all. The summer before my sixth grade, my family moved. In an effort to help me get accustomed to my new school, my mom let me take a Saturday morning group guitar class on a rented acoustic for a few weeks. I recall feeling the class moved too slowly, but still really excited to be actually holding a guitar. Later that year, my parents gave me an Encore electric guitar and a small Sears Silvertone amp for Christmas. I immediately tried to find other kids to start a band with, but was a little tricky coordinating who could borrow this or that from their older brother and who's mom would stand the noise in the basement or garage. By junior high I had discovered a guitar shop called Mayfield Music where actual musicians worked and hung out. I'd catch the bus on Saturdays and go hang out for hours, watching and listening to people who could actually play. If the store wasn't too busy, I'd sometimes ask how certain sounds on this record or that record were made. Barry, who owned the store, or the repair guy, Minot, would plug in different guitars, effects and amps up to show me how those sounds were made. There was no YouTube or directional software then, so that's how I learned to play, really - hours and hours of watching, listening and obsessing. I'm still trying to get it right.
Tell me how you and Suzanne met and started making music together.
I had a band that used to rehearse in a warehouse. Actually, this particular warehouse was divided into small rooms with funky carpet on the floors and walls. On any given night there would be 30 or 40 bands bashing away in different rooms throughout the night. Suz posted a flier on the warehouse walls with a really interesting mix of influences. I called and Suz met me at my band's rehearsal space. Suz had an old mahogany Guild guitar and we showed each other a few songs were working on. Mostly we talked about music we loved and the kind of music we'd like to hear. We talked about everything from Nick Drake, Faces, Howlin' Wolf, Reverend Gary Davis, Son House, Neil Young, The Band, Sly and The Family Stone, The Stooges, Hendrix (or James Marshall as Suz calls him) 70's era Stones, Chet Baker, Bill Withers, Staple Singers, to what was contemporary then - Jeff Buckley, Chris Whitley, The Bellrays, 16 Horsepower, The Detroit Cobras and our beloved, James Blood Ulmer. It just clicked. Mostly because weren't talking about genres, styles or periods of music we were talking about what moved us - what music had the emotive qualities we were looking for. That's what we wanted to hear and that's the music we are attempting to make.
What are your favorite venues to play at?
Really, we just enjoy playing. For us, the audience and the people
running the boards make the venue. If we're able to present our sound
and we're getting a response, or any feedback from the audience, it
doesn't really matter where we are playing. We dream of playing the UK,
because of the history and talent that's played in so many of the venues
What albums do you have out and where can they be purchased?
68-75 "Sanctified EP" recorded in 2002 and remastered in 2012 available through CD Baby and on I-Tunes
68-75 "Self Titled" available through CD Baby and on I-Tunes
68-75 available through CD Baby, on I-Tunes and in store at Rock 'n Roll Circus in Madrid, Spain
"Stay On The Ride" is available on CD, I-Tunes, Amazon, Zune, Spotify and more,
Tracks can be previewed at: www.reverbnation.com/6875rock http://6875.bandcamp.com/
New Band/New Recording
Vlad DeBriansky and Jack's Last Dollar
By Diana Olson
It has been five years since I first introduced Vlad DeBriansky to Skope Magazine Online. He is a jazz, blues, rock and classical guitarist as well as composer and songwriter, music producer, television producer and actor.
Vlad’s biography says, “Music has the ability to transform, heal and speak to the soul. And when it transcends itself, music is no longer music but rather the truth and philosophy of life. This is the true essence of highly accomplished guitarist, arranger, producer"– Vlad
Beyond any musical boundaries, his creations can be described as Contemporary World Fusion, combining a mixture of sounds, from World, Jazz, Pop, Symphonic, Soul and more. Now weave together all of life’s richness and add hues of color and layers of texture. This is what is heard in each of Vlad’s works – each song a different experience and each note a different moment expressed.”
Born in a small town in the western part of Ukraine, Vlad DeBriansky began his musical career at age 7 playing drums. “I was fascinated with rhythm and especially drum sounds,” recalls Vlad who used to bang on books, silverware and plates. At 13 he took guitar lessons and from that moment on the guitar became his path in his life. Vlad studied jazz and classical music and loved every minute of it. By age 14 he won several jazz festivals in Eastern Europe and formed his first band.
At 17 a popular rock band Forte recruited Vlad as a lead guitarist. Soon after reaching several #1 hits in the charts, Vlad joined the legendary art rock band “Tea Fan Club” (TFC). While in TFC Vlad was hired as a studio guitarist by Leo Studios in Lviv, Molem in Krakow, M-Studios MTV in Berlin and worked with a varieties of well known popular and classical artists as well as writing music for major national shows and soundtrack for motion pictures. TFC joined the presidential campaign endorsing democratic candidate for Ukraine’s independence and had been added to “People of the Year” national pride list.
During that time Vlad also helped newcomers with their music career, among them is a Eurovision winner ukrainian singer Ruslana. After Ukraine’s independence, Vlad and a former leader of a well-known Opalni Prinz, Yurok Shtyn, formed a new band, Loony Pelen. #1 hits and #1 album in the national charts quickly followed. Having established himself as a premier guitarist in Ukraine, Vlad has garnered numerous awards and earned endless accolades in his country. Berklee College Of Music welcomed Vlad to the United States with the highest scholarship awarded. In the past ten years, Vlad has stepped into the solo spotlight in the USA and around the world and released his CD Vladosphere.
In the Fall of 2009 History Channel aired a series "Nostradamus Effect: da Vinci's Armageddon" in which Vlad played Leonardo da Vinci. Then, in 2013 he co-produced a popular TV music talent show "Boyuk Sehne" (Böyük Səhnə) that aired in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Vlad as Jack Spade was also one of the judges. Now, in 2014 Vlad formed a band "Jacks Last Dollar" and its new album "Part I" was released in May, giving us something completely different and wonderful. I think this gifted man has found himself by using a slide and experimenting with Bluegrass and Folk sounds.
Tell me about your new project "Jacks Last Dollar".
Jacks Last Dollar - is a new project that I started in 2009... The music of course came first, the name later. As you know, my solo recordings were jazz and classical guitar, with hints of rock here and there... And that was predominantly what my audience knew about my music.
But in 2006, I experienced the loss of family members dearest to me.... that changed my perception. In the evenings, with a glass of wine, I took an acoustic guitar and started playing haunting melodies.... the first melody, what has becme on the album a song "Don't Let Me down"...
When I moved from San Francisco to LA, I felt like this is the sound is the closest to me... basically I wanted to play Acapella Ukrainian folk tunes on the guitar.... Having a slide around, I played them with a slide... and it sounded like blues... thus I kept developing that sound.
in 2010 I released a demo version of a song "Silver Moon", that later became "Sister Moon", the production ideas were simple - create recording simple.... So, I had a guitar, slide... and a suitcase... I wore boots and stomped on the suitcase to create a pumping beat and then clapping my hands... - to create a motion... this created the sound of the album and the project.
I wanted to make the shortest distance between the soul of a slide guitar and the recording equipment... So, majority of recording of the guitar and my vocals were recorded straight into the laptop computer, with a built-in microphone... This also allowed me to travel... and record as soon as I had an inspiration.
One day I was at Steve Vai's birthday, and he gave me as a present (even though it was HIS birthday!) a compilation of Smithsonian Blues and Folk collection... that inspired me in the way like the folk tunes of Ukraine when I was growing up... So, I just knew its in my roots... and after a research - it was... a lot of bluegrass influence and pentatonics come from my part of the world...
Before I decided to mix the album, I started playing shows around Los Angeles... to see the reaction of people... And it was great.... I remember one time I played at Bar Lubitsch in Hollywood... some people came to see the show, some hopping from a bar into the live room.... I do remember I started playing slide... in about a minute there was a complete silence... you could hear a needle drop in the audience... From that moment I knew the album speaks to the soul... I will never forget that.
Right now Part I (which is more upbeat and what what I consider as contemporary sound of folk and blues), has been released... I was surprised to see it was debuted at #14 on iTunes blues charts... not bad for an unknown project and zero advertisement.... Part II - a more soulful music is coming in July ...
Jacks Last Dollar, the name was suggested by my friend Lesa Amoore - I thought was a perfectly fitting name for the project... rather than Vlad... I did invite guest singers, and I wanted to make sure they feel like part of a project, rather than my artist name...
Your always evolving and recreating yourself. Any feel for what might be next from you?
Yes, I do get bored easily if I play the same thing over and over... So, if I create a solo project , I always want to reinvent myself and the sound... Challenges - skipping the charades and facades and getting closer to the heart - is my direction... I guess thats why slide guitar resides...
I am already working on a new album... surprisingly a more heavy sounding albums, with guitar riffs, and interested turns and angles of it ... Its definitely fun to play and listen... If the time permits I would like to release that this year as well..
But of course, my symphony is still in the makes... that has a lot of beautiful pieces... for strings, piano and even a choir ! - Quite an ambitious project.... but I just don't feel anything is too big, on the contrary - I want to climb that mountain... just my nature I guess... then have a look and see which other ones to climb.
Thank you very much, and folk music, in my own interpretation and compositions, were always at our family dinner table since the childhood... Its in the roots. They are important.
The Grass Roots
"You had to be there, and I was" by Terry Furlong. Diana Olson spends some time with the former lead guitarist of the classic rock band The Grass Roots, who has a couple books out on his life and times in the eye of the pop music revolution.
Terry has this infectious smile and love for life that pulls you into his storytelling. We met at his home in Prescott, AZ where he continues to write and produce music. His guitar was calling out and he shared some of his music from a new little book he wrote "Gifts" that consists of lyrics and a CD of spiritual music. His voice was smooth and soft and he had a sparkle in his eyes that carried through each melody.
Terry has had many years of success as a guitarist, singer, published songwriter, producer and now has written a book of his stories "You had to be there! And I was" as well as "Gifts". He was the lead guitarist for the legendary band "The Grass Roots" and received a gold record for his work on their biggest hit, "Temptation Eyes". His songwriting contributions have benefited a number of famous artists such as Three Dog Night, Tom Jones and others. He has also worked and performed with many artists including Michael McDonald, Delaney & Bonnie, Smokey Robinson and list just goes on. He also has his own album "Blue Rose" that is considered a classic!
You can find Terry performing around the Prescott area. This is one very busy man who gives guitar lessons, writes, sings in church and is now planning a "Grass Roots Band Mate Reunion 2013". As a Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Teacher, I don't see Terry slowing down anytime soon.
When did you realize that you wanted to play guitar and sing?
I first realized I wanted to play guitar when I was thirteen or so. My mother took me to Wallick's Music City and bought me a cheap acoustic guitar and I started learning some chords. I quickly lost interest in it, as kids will do, and it wound up in the closet until I sold it. The next time I really got interested in it I was about 18 and I heard BB King on the radio and from then on I was hooked. I have never put it down!!
Who were your early musical influences?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't singing along either with my Mom or the radio. I loved 50's Rock and Roll and I loved the Blues which included Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis and The Everly Brothers, just to name a few and they of course led to The Beatles, The Stones and the whole 60's thing including Motown and the blues players; The Kings, Albert, Freddie and BB.
Tell me a little about your music history, performing, producing and writing music.
I recorded my first record with my group, The Furlongs, which included my brother Kevin (drums), my cousin Patrick (lead guitar) and our friend Jeff Hittelman (bass). We recorded our first single in 1964, our own songs. I went on to write songs for Three Dog Night, Tom Jones, John Hammond Jr. and Larry Carlton to name a few. I was in "The Grass Roots" and "Redbone" and my own group "Blue Rose", which I produced for Columbia Records. I still write and produce my own music.
What projects do you have in the works?
I am in the process of forming a Grass Roots Tribute Band. We hope to have it prepared in time for shows in the New Year and I have a new book in the works entitled "It just so Happened" which has more stories like my other book, "You Had to be There".
What inspired you to write "You Had to be There"?
The book came about from telling stories from the bandstand and getting requests for more of them. As I began writing them down I saw the potential for a fun book and it turned out to be just that.
Tell me about your latest book "Gifts".
"Gifts" is a spiritual book of lyrics and music with a CD from the recording sessions that came from the songs. It was designed to be read while listening to the recordings. I also perform a number of these songs at churches around Arizona.
CCJ correspondent Diana Olson has been hanging out with some interesting people in her new adopted state of Arizona. In this edition she chats with Terry Furlong of the legendary pop-rock band The Grass Roots. In the photo above, the young lady seated in the center of this Led Zeppelin soiree, with Robert Plant pictured to the left, and John Bonham right, is Morgana Welch. Now an Arizona resident, Morgana grew up in Beverly Hills surrounded by high profile celebrities and from this background and experience she has written a couple books.
By Diana Olson
In the 60's and 70's the place to be for music was Hollywood, California. The Whiskey, The Rainbow and The Roxy were within close proximity and many famous bands got their start in one of these iconic places. I never actually met anyone who grew up in Beverly Hills and frequented all the great clubs of the time until I met Morgana Welch. In "Hollywood Diaries" she details what it was like growing up around all that talent and elaborates about the music and people she felt so lucky to know as well as the darker side she encountered. Morganas accounts are thoughtful, truthful and interesting.
After many years, Morgana moved to Prescott, AZ. It is a place that seems to be on top of the world. The air is thin but extremely fresh. She has made it her home and helped raise her grandchildren there. She wrote and published a second book "Reach Your Goals and Rock Your World" which she says is a meditation on reaching your goals. She uses the book to teach meditation classes. She has also written and published a Vegetarian Cookbook and is working on another book about Hollywood's Rock and Roll. There is a peace and grace to Morgana that carries over into her writing.
What was it like growing up in Beverly Hills?
Growing up in Beverly Hills was a mixed bag. In elementary school I really didn’t think much of the city’s status. It really was like living in a small town. It was very safe and easy to get around as a kid. It wasn’t until I hit high school that I began to notice big class distinctions. I lived in the south part of Beverly Hills, and there is a big difference between the north and south parts of town. The railroad tracks on Santa Monica Bl. divided the city. It wasArizhave friends who had unlimited credit cards, high end cars, weekly beauty salon visits…etc. I felt like I couldn’t participate in what they were doing much of the time. It was not good for my self esteem to compare what I had to what they had. As a young teen it was hard to get past those differences. I think that is why I gravitated toward Hollywood, it was more accepting…and fun. Now, I am grateful to have lived there and have kept in contact with many classmates. So many things in life are much different when you look back.
Tell me a little about the music scene you were involved in and some of the people you met along the way. Who influenced and inspired you?
It was the Beatles who caught my attention when they played on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 60s. I saw and heard them and said to myself ‘I want that!’, I think I was about 8. I always loved music as a kid and grew up in a time when the music was the best. When I was older in the late 60s, I was living just a few blocks from the Sunset Strip, I saw what was happening there and wanted to be a part of that. The hippie and music culture were exactly what I was attracted to and there was a huge culture of that going on in Hollywood at that time. The fashion and music of the 60s was a big inspiration. But I was too young to check it out until 1970. The next year I became a regular, often ditching school and making up excuses why I couldn’t make it home at night.
I was lucky to have met many of the bands of the 60s and 70s - Led Zeppelin, Spirit, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, T-Rex, The Pretty Things, Roy Harper, Ten Years After, Robin Trower, Sly and the Family Stone, and so many more, and many more I can’t remember. It was not hard to meet people in bands back then, you just mingled at the Whisky A Go Go or the Rainbow Bar and Grill, or the Hyatt House and you could pretty much meet any one you wanted. There was never any security. Maybe a bad ass road manager, but they were pretty easy to get past. Being under age it was easy to sit in the Hyatt House hotel coffee shop and meet the bands as they came down for a meal. I always got into the Whisky underage, so that was never a problem either. Every night I went out to the Whisky and the Rainbow, after it opened, those were the places the bands went too. There we would mingle at tables or dance to the best bands. I saw Little Richard, BB King, Freddy King, Buddy Miles, Edgar Winter, Al Kooper, ZZ Top, Tower of Power, John Mayhall, Foghat, Rory Gallagher, Roxy Music, The New York Dolls…and on and on…all of the great bands played in the very small club. Me and my friends would usually party with the bands after the show and go to the Rainbow or back to the Hyatt. Those times were so carefree, open, and more innocent. Things began to change in the 80s and I drifted away from the scene. I am so glad I was a part of those times. It’s not like that any more in any sense.
I’ve spent a lot of my adult life writing, but mostly for others in the decades I was a secretary. I did things like writing sales literature, sales presentations, and endless letters and reports for my bosses over the decades, which I was very good at. In the early 90s I joined a meditation school and after taking the master courses and writing many big essays, I felt much better about my writing skills. I began working for the school and started writing astrology articles for our quarterly magazine, and created a couple classes that I taught at the school. That is where I developed better writing skills. When my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer I left my job and life and took care of her for 2 years. That is when I decided to finally write Hollywood Diaries since I had some free time and to take my mind off what was going on. I began posting chapters on-line every two weeks and soon built up a following. I decided to self publish the book version of Hollywood Diaries since the interest on the internet was really good. Since then I have written two other books, Reach Your Goals and Rock Your World which is a meditation on reaching your goals. It is a companion to the classes I teach. Then I wrote a vegetarian cookbook, Morgana’s Kitchen – Hearty Vegetarian Dishes. I started to put together recipes for my grandkids to teach them how to cook. I kept going with it and put all my favorite hearty recipes together and decided to publish that as well. Now, I am working on a new book about my favorite genre, Hollywood and rock and roll. This time it’s fiction, yet based on many real stories, with a bit of Hollywood’s occult past. I hope to have that finished in a few months. I’m also teaching meditation classes in my home and on the internet.
CCJ correspondent Diana Olson spent a little time in the park recently with the Folk-Classical trio Reckoning Stone. Pictured from left: Katie Immel—Cello, Voice, Mark Wright—Lyrics, Guitar, Voice; and Erika Wxzulkowski—Percussion, Voice with guest accompanist.
Less than a year ago Mark, Erika and Katie met at the apartment complex in Cottonwood, Arizona where they all reside. They immediately realized that they all have a passion and talent for music so they met up to jam and the rest is history! Reckoning Stone began working on their demo, and have so far recorded three songs. The full demo entitled ‘Green’ should be completed soon.
On April 12th the community of Cottonwood had its annual Charity Marathon event (http://cottonwoodaz.gov/parksrec/bmm/). It was a beautiful sunny spring day and once all the runners had crossed the finish line and the awards were presented, it was time for some music. Reckoning Stone took the stage and their sweet sound filled the park. This band was the perfect compliment to the beautiful serene setting and community sprit that was present. All three band members can sing and they harmonize beautifully. The guitar and cello complete the sound. The band is actively distributing their demo to local Wineries, Cafes and other venues in the surrounding area.
Who writes your music?
Mark has been writing and creating music for many years. With an arsenal of his own original songs, Katie and Eirka joined in to create the unique sound of Reckoning Stone.
What do you want listeners to get from your music?
We want people to appreciate the groove of the music, and really feel it in their soul; let the music take them to another place, an escape from the same-old-same-old. The majority of what we play is improvised at the time of the performance—it comes from the heart and the soul, and we hope others can feel and hear that as well.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Musical inspirations include: JJ Gray, Rufus Wainwright, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Damien Rice, Dave Matthews, Valerie Thompson, Goli and many others
What do you see yourselves doing 5 years from now?
We plan to stay together as friends and as a band, and in five years we see ourselves with a couple albums completed and maybe doing small tours around Arizona or the U.S.
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of the Creative Culture Journal ad RARWRITER.com
Morgana Welch's Hollywood Novel
It was clear all through the book that only someone who lived in Hollywood during the 60s... and 70s could have written such a great story. Morgana gave wonderful attention to details of fashion, attitudes, places and people of the era. Her characters were true to the times and were carefully crafted like a fine tapestry making me feel like I had made some new friends. I can't wait to read what is in store for them next! - Diana Olson
Beverly Hills child turned Arizona author Morgana Welch, whose book Hollywood Diaries, recounting her growing up years among the rich and famous of the entertainment business, has been detailed on Arizona Links, has published her first novel, The Book of Shadows. Her synopsis on Amazon describes the storyline thusly:
Hollywood was built on a world of shadows …the shadows of the limelight and the shadows of the secret societies that founded the city. In the late 1960s an upcoming rock star, Taylor Wells, discovers his life was secretly planned out by a group of occultists whose goal was to create an exalted being. Taylor grew up within the world of shadows and is searching to find out the truth behind his mother’s death and in so discovers the dark side of Hollywood, where power attracts those who want it, at any cost.
Diana Olson has been a contributor to the RARWRITER site for many years and built the entire Minnesota links page. A transplant to Arizona, she has settled into creative communities there and will continue to contribute arts and entertainment articles from her new location.
Arizona Highways Magazine chose one of Diana Olson's photos for this weeks "Friday Fotos". The theme this week was Peaks and Valleys. (April 26, 2014) This page features a variety of Arizona shots by Diana Olson.
The Words of Annie Holbrook
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