Happy Independence Day

The Reason Times Are Strange

Yep, I’ve figured it out; the ultimate conspiracy theory resolved. I’m staking my reputation on this and those who know me understand the bar isn’t really set that high.

The reason why there is so much confusion and uncertainty in this time Covid 19 is because the aliens have invaded us. Some people will expect me to prove that the aliens are actually here. My response is –

Prove to me they are not!

Can you?

It’s the only logical conclusion.

I’ve been around for a while and have seen some things. I remember when I was little, year after year my Mom would put water in Ball Mason canning jars. I would ask, “Mommy, why are you canning water?” And Mom, in her motherly wisdom would tell me, “Well, Honey, in case the Russians drop the atomic bomb on us we need to have enough water.” Oh, that makes sense. Being five years old, and having watched a war movie or two with Dad, I understood the implications of being blown up. Back then it was the Russians, they were the problem, because I couldn’t prove that the Russians were not going to blow us up.

There is confusion at all levels of society, especially in national, state and local government. As humans, we don’t operate well in shades of grey and unknowing. Well, there is no need to be uncertain.

It has to be the aliens. I hope Will Smith can save us again.

There you go, one less thing to worry about. You’re welcome!

Happy Fourth Of July

Can we help you in any way?

Social Capital

What is the price of our relationships? I often joke that I do not have the emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial capital for another girl friend.

I ask myself: what am I willing to spend to consummate my musical relationships?

The answer is simple yet surprisingly complex.

First: I haven’t got time to work with folks who are unpleasant. A good criteria – is this some one I would break bread with? Do they have a good heart? Is their conversation engaging? Do they like animals? Are they funny?

Second: Is there proficiency in their playing? Is there commitment? Are they able to back up words with action?

Third: Are they worth my friendship? I used to be altruistic in my musical relationships. No more.


Has any one you have worked with ever committed to a rehearsal and then not shown up? Did they even contact you?

I get that there exist extenuating circumstances.

Did you reschedule with them and have the same result? Those actions are an indication self importance. It is happened to me many times. I no longer give people power over me.

Maybe I appreciate the one trick pony. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

In my network and associations, I have experienced superficiality among many players; they just won’t get back to me. But the moment they want something……

Anymore, I’m not jumping through hoops. Done with that circus.

Can we help you?

Artist Focus – Jonny Durango

Audio Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer, Arranger

The Crew at the MOB: Josh, Zech, Jonny and Dean

Mackncheeze: Who are you?

Jonny: Oh, Man. I’m a human man. I’m a person who has always just loved music, it’s one of the things in this world that has made sense to me. As I grow older, I’m starting to see other things that are contributing to my existence.

I was more cynical as a kid; it was about the money and the system and the Man, man. As I grew up I realized it’s actually not so bad. For me, as a teenager, music was really the only thing that held it together. It was pure and made sense and gave me this emotional rush and vibe. Songs would pop into my head. Dreams would come up a lot.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor or a scientist. I was one of those geeky kids studying lasers, magnets and holograms; taking stuff apart. It’s in my blood. My Grandpa was that way. He was the old man equivalent to me, representing part of the industrial revolution. His shop full of old Model T parts, wood working vices and all this crazy stuff. I got this bug from him.

Mackncheeze: Where did you learn all that you know about vintage equipment?

Jonny: It started as a kid. You have to have a pretty decent foundation in science, in general, and a foundation in how things work. I had a book called How Things Work. I would go through the book to see how gears and pulleys would work and all this different stuff. That really helps when you start layering those abstractions to higher levels, like electrons and stuff like that. A lot of You Tube videos. Lots of trial and error and fucking stuff up. When the magic smoke appears, I conclude my understanding wasn’t correct.

Mackncheeze: You’re not joking about the magic smoke?

Jonny: In the world of electroninics: you can think you understand it, but there is no subjectivity, it’s not like politics or social media. When there is magic smoke, you have been proved that you are wrong, and when you are wrong , you have to go back and figure it out. You have to figure out what electrons want to do, where they want to go.

Mackncheeze: The level you are at, there are absolutes….

Jonny: Yeah, definitely. If you got something blowing up, or you get zapped, or your circuit doesn’t work, that’s that.

Mackncheeze: Is that a comforting place?

Jonny: Yeah. I like the world of logic and rationality. That world has intrinsic beauty. Like mathmatics. It’s counter intuitive to the music thing.

Mackncheeze: What is your educational background?

Jonny: Basic High School.

Mackncheeze: You studied music, didn’t you?

Jonny: Not really. I literally stayed at home and played guitar for six to eight hours a day; obsessed, laser vision. I was sixteen and this was the time before You Tube tutorials. The best you could hope for would be finding some tablature, most of it inaccurate.

I had a CD player boom box. I would put on Stevie Ray Vaughn or B.B. King. It had a rewind feature with play/pause, one note at a time, learn it, move to the next note. For a while, I also took Flamenco Guitar lessons.

When I went to school for digital audio engineering, they made us take pretty basic keyboard theory which was really helpful, especially with writing. Afterward, I started thinking about taking it a lot deeper and almost went to Berklee in Boston. That involved a lot of money and a lot of debt. I saw the trap coming down the horizon.

Mackncheeze: The Fat Kids have been a big part of your life and you have toured with them.

Jonny: Yep. Its been seven or eight years ago. We decided to go on tour, no recording contract, just mainly for fun.

Our drummer is a pilot. We flew down to Portland looking for a bus, ended up buying one from a Mega Church in Kirkland. We put a lot of work in, creating sleeping quarters, bathroom and kitchen.

We did two and half tours with that thing, it finally broke down in Weed, California.

The Fat Kids is a great band, but I’m really pumped on a concept that could play all genres, from Rap to Heavy Metal to Flamenco to Surf Music to Gospel, you name it. There is merit to almost every style of music.

The way I write songs, they just pop in to my head, full verse, chorus, bridge, lyrics, melody, harmony, it’s all there. With the Fat Kids I couldn’t do old schoool country or old school gospel or hard rock songs.

With this base , I want to get the studio up and running. A real legit studio with digital and analog, with a lot of different rooms, video capabilities, different audio capabilities. One day I might be doing a modern pop song and the next doing a vintage thirties style jazz recording.

You’ll notice with the studio’s gear, I have modern designed gear as well as vintage old school counter parts.

Really looking forward to working more with the studio and getting away from the touring , as much as I like it.

Mackncheeze: Whats the vision for the MOB?

Jonny: First and foremost, we really want to have cool stuff coming out. We have a good team; paying the bills, staying in the black. The dream would be to have a Motown style of thing, recording, writing, creating hits.

Mackncheeze: What are the top sites you hit.

Jonny: A lot of time on You Tube, geeking out on electrical videos, applied science, prototyping stuff, how to build different things, philosophy, random podcasts.

Mackncheze: Is that firing you up?

Jonny: Yeah, a lot of audio books. Going through some pretty cool stuff.

Mackncheeze: What books and authors do you recommend?

Jonny: Hunter S. Thompson; David Goggins’ book, You Can’t Hurt Me, great stuff; a huge fan of Ayn Rand; The 50th Law; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people has some useful stuff in it; Jordan Peterson’s The 12 Rules For Life; The Greater Courses; a lot of geeky stuff.

Mackncheeze: What’s your biggest struggle?

Jonny: Overcoming the results of depression. Since I was a kid I have been manic depressive. I went to a shrink for a while and tried Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac. That shit would make me way worse; I would go from a two week cycle to a one hour cycle. It’s what got me into philosophy; trying to make sense of the world without completely changing my psychology with pills.

It’s quite a challenge to overcome: Going to the gym and being healthy, using philosophy, taking on as much personal responsibilty as I can and not making excuses for anything. The David Goggins’ book helped a whole lot.

Exercise is essential; one single factor that will change your outlook.

Mackncheeze: Whats the most exciting thing you have ever encountered?

Jonny: The first tour we did with the band. It was like so many great things wrapped into one. A little miniature Jack Kerouac adventure, but you’re with your friends, playing music, travelling, seeing new cities, that was awesome.

If there is a junky high in music that I’m trying to chase, that’s it.

Mackncheeze: What’s your greatest association?

Jonny: In some ways its like apples and oranges. My Dad, Zech Valette, Josh Menache. I have spent the last 10 to 20 years weeding out those who are not compatible with me. The folks who are in my circle of friends are good people who I actually connect with.

Mackncheeze: The most important thing you want to say?

Jonny: The world is very divided. I wish people could genuinely put themselves in other’s shoes. Most people in the world do not wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I am going to be as shitty as I can today.” Most people are trying to get by and do a good job and put food on their table and not be dirt bags. If people could put themselves in other’s shoes with that in mind, it would lead to much better things coming out of the world.

Mackncheeze: I concur. Thanks!

Jonny: Sweet.

Island Time

Have you ever lived on an Island? Is “Laid Back” a term you would use for island life?

This mind set actually exists, having lived on an island and experiencing it myself. For many, regardless of ability, attainment, and professional accolades, this pattern is endemic.

Why? I don’t get it. I can’t be late for my job. Isn’t the pursuit of musical endeavors a commitment to work with others? Aren’t others expecting realiablity from their fellow collaborators?

I used to take it personally. No more. Its not a judgement on me. I am not responsible for my peer’s behavior.

In my experience, this challenge exists on every level of musical success. I just shrug my shoulders. How does anything get done? How do these businesses succeed? Why am I not able to take a person’s word at face value? Perhaps these are rhetorical questions.

What I have learned is to take my fellow musicians with a grain of salt. Creatives can pulled in so many different directions in so many different ways that their mind’s focus on the most important tasks at hand regardless of prior commitments or ideas.

The issue at hand is not my fellow musicians actions, its my relationship to those actions.

My favorite situations are when I have comfirmed place, date and time and no one shows up. Passive Aggressive behavior? In most circumstances, no. I chalk it up to habits of distraction and inattentiveness.

My survival is dependent on planning; always having plan B, C and D in place. Options make the difference. When so and so doesn’t show up or is late, what task is at hand in which I can make some progress in lieu of said players nonappearance?

Besides, my vision of success lies in my mind, not anyone else’s. I am totally dependent upon me.

Anyone along for the ride?

Can we help you with your plan?

Ice-T At The RKCNDY, 1992

Guest Blog By Todd Ainsworth

By the time I heard that Ice-T was going to play the RKCNDY, I had been listening to him since “Power”, which came out in 1989; along with Public Enemy, NWA and others. Some of my “Rock Only” friends looked at me sideways and wondered why. I knew I was going to see Ice-Motherfucking-T!

You might remember the uproar over “Cop Killer” and the attention it got from then president, George Bush. Not “Mission Accomplished” George, but, “Read My Lips”, George. The chain of events that led to that song being banned and deleted from future copies of the Body Count Album are worth revisiting, if you are interested in how business, politics, religious groups and the First Amendment are thrown into a blender. The record company removed the CD from the shelves until they re-released it with out the “offending” song.

I still have my original pressing copy of the CD, complete with “Cop Killer” on it.

But I digress.

I had 2 tickets and as the day of the show came around, I was reaching out to my list of usual suspects until I talked to my good friend, partner in crime and guitarist for several metal bands ( more on that in a future article ), Russ, and told him, “Your’e coming with me tonight to see Ice-T.

There were 2 shows and our tickets were for the late show. We showed up and got in line along the sidewalk. As the early show got out people were streaming out, chanting “Fuck the police!”.

Russ and I looked at each other with shit eating-grins and said to ourselves, “This is going to be awesome!”

It wasn’t long before some guy ( lets call him “Douche” ) pulls around the corner in his newer Corvette, blasting out “Cop Killer”, with the convertible top down…right down the street in front of the club where we were standing…dropping the hammer and roasting the tires in a smoky haze…when he had to suddenly stop because of traffic waiting for the red light. That’s when a bicycle cop pedals up to him and makes him pull over to write him up. All of us on the street had a great laugh. The doors opened and we made our way in. It was perfectly ironic.

Ice-T opened up the show with “regular” stuff from his albums. The crowd was packed tight against the raised stage. RKCNDY’s stage was probably just under four feet tall and some of the band’s posse – including some women in very short skirts – were standing off to the side. Apparently, they didn’t realize that at that height, it was pretty easy for us on the floor to see that there was no underwear under those miniskirts!

After the first set was over, and an intermission, they came back on stage – with some variation in musicians – as Body Count. The room was sweaty and ready for Ice-T’s brand of Metal and we were moshing around to the point of Ice just looking like he wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction!

One chick got herself on stage and went back by the drums. Ice was just standing aside at this point and looking on, speechless. She swipes her feet a couple of times on the ground – like a bull getting ready to charge – and gets a running start to the edge, and just flies out into the crowd, who dutifully stood by to catch her. She took 3-4 guys down with her. Ice-T was laughing his ass off and just looked dazed…he stopped to say Seattle has the ” Craziest Motherfuckers I ever seen!” The show went on with some more stage diving, including yours truly; we exited the club chanting “Fuck The Police!”

Now, more than 27 years later, the RKCNDY is long gone, Ice-T has had a great acting career and reality series. I’m pretty sure that night was my last real stage dive. I still drive by there fairly often and can’t help but smile, thinking about all the great times we shared ( not just at RKCNDY ) now only existent in our memories.

Thanks for reading and there’s more to come…Rock On!

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