Archive

Tag Archives: Music

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81pzVJwIcIL._SS500_.jpg

AJ Case is a man of many hats, but those hats dovetail: He’s a Myrtle Beach-based singer/songwriter, musician, rapper and entrepreneur. Depending upon whom you ask, you might get different answers. Perhaps it’s somebody who laid down tracks at his now shuttered iT Recording & Mastering Studios in Surfside Beach, a venue owner who booked him for a solo acoustic gig or a tourist who got up to sing at one of his karaoke promotions in the area. Or it could be a music industry type drilling down on Case’s songwriting, recording, deejaying or vocal skills.

In every case, though, you will likely hear about the kind of guy he is – soft-spoken, sincere and always professional.

But trying to pigeonhole him would be a mistake.

Case is a familiar face on the Grand Strand, in the role of DJ or heading up karaoke shows. He has showcased his songs at spots like House of Blues Myrtle Beach, Klocker’s Tavern and The Boathouse. He said his uncle, the late Bill Pinkney – a founding member of The Drifters – taught him about the music business.

He recently released his third album. “Running In Place” (or “R.I.P.”), an acoustic guitar-driven live band hip-hop project.

In addition to the live band approach, Case covers his struggle with depression brought on by divorce and the loss of key people in his life in rapid succession – in what he called the worst week of his life.

But this album has proven cathartic for him. Much of is an ode to the woman he loves, Ruth Ann Millar, something he says goes against the grain of traditional rap.

He started writing this album years ago – and much of it was first presented in 2012’s “Dead at 32.” But he had no idea what he was in for personally and emotionally.

“At that time, I didn’t realize that I was writing my current situation. I feel like a reeled myself into it all,” he said.

The past two years have been an emotional roller coaster, beginning with what he calls “the week from hell.” He lost his mother, an uncle and an aunt – plus he went through a divorce.

Case fell into a deep depression.

Things got so bad that he wouldn’t even answer the door to his studio to let people come in and record.

“I’d never been to a point in my life where I was that low,” he said. “I hit rock bottom and pulled out a damn shovel.”

Picking up a pen was the last thing on his mind, but one day out of sheer desperation he started writing a song about his mother – and although he didn’t finish that actual song, this gave him the impetus to keep going. After he got started again in earnest, the process took about a year.

The finished product stands at eight tracks, including a duet with his friend Adam Wittenburg on “Halfway Home.”

“Halfway Home”

Some live performance audio was spliced into a new version of “Lifted.”

“We took actual audio footage from shows like Bayfest and Summer Jam – just basically hung mics out over the audience – and I didn’t want it to sound like the original version. We wanted to do this with a live band, but I wasn’t used to recording guitars yet because I was just a pure rapper at that point.”

But the acoustic live band concept gelled for “Running In Place”

Long before this, Case played out live as a solo artist – on an acoustic guitar – so that he could showcase his material and travel light.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument and guitar
AJ Case

But Case said the material on “RIP” – including “Waiting on You” – goes against the grain of traditional rap.

“It’s kind of weird to explain. I hear some of the stuff that everybody else is rapping about, and it’s pretty much the same thing everybody has been rapping about: cars, women, money, how good I am or ‘listen to my lyrical skills’ – and I feel disappointed sometimes because I’m not talking about any of that shit. I’m mostly talking about one woman that I love. That’s it.”

Case contends that in the rap world in general, it’s not really cool to be in love with one woman.

“It’s not really cool to write a whole album about one woman. It’s a different type of world – and that’s where I felt like I was, man – I don’t know if I actually fit in here anymore. I think I’ve grown out of it.”

We mentioned that Case’s uncle taught him about the music business, but it was his late sister who made it fun.

In the song, “Nothing,” Case memorializes his sister.

“I had a guitar in my room when I was younger, but I never really messed with it. She would come in and say, ‘Oh – pick up the guitar. Let’s play…”

Those moments got Case to the point where he wanted to play music with his uncle and learn more.

“Until then, that guitar was just a brick in the corner of my bedroom.”

But “Nothing” is poignant and can really tug at your heart strings.

“My sister was a drug addict, and she was aware that she had problems and issues. She would always tell me that she felt like she never did anything with her life – like, she would go to her grave having literally done nothing but drugs. I wrote that song sitting beside her hospital bed before she died.”

He will always remember his sister’s silly way of dancing (she was not good at it) – and he regrets not getting up on the floor when she wanted to dance with him in public.

The COVID-19 lockdown helped to put thus project into high gear.

“Either make something of yourself – figure out a way to make something of yourself in this – or let it swallow you whole, you know?”

For more info about AJ Case, click HERE.

I turned 57 on July 8.

Yikes!

I take comfort in the fact that my twin brother is also 57. I’m glad Chris is still around. I love him.

In the above photo, I’m inclined to believe I’m the three-year-old on the right.

We’re having fun doing the things we said we wanted to do. One is a longstanding passion of ours – playing music, while another is something we have procrastinated about for far too long – podcasting. And whether or not it’s complete shit, I’m still writing.

By the time I publish this post, episode five of the Yale Brothers Podcast will be up and running also.

When I was younger, I couldn’t get my head around the concept of mortality. It just didn’t make sense, all of that “here today, gone tomorrow” stuff…

Maybe that’s because I believe we live forever.

Is there a name for people who believe that we will live forever – that we don’t come back as a piece of celery and start all over again through a generations-long cycle of self-improvement or self-realization? I should look that up.

Some say we asked to come here. Could that be true?

Maybe we didn’t ask to come here. That could be true, too.

One of my dear friends seems to think that if I make the wrong political choice, I will have to answer to my maker for my “mistake.”

I say that all depends on what you believe, thereby setting up your own reality in the afterlife. If you believe you will have to answer for your mistakes, political or otherwise, you have set up your next reality.

But I don’t think making a political choice matters in any way once we depart this mortal coil. Somehow, all of that would become meaningless.

Of course, I could be wrong. But the cool thing about this is that nobody else on this planet knows what’s going to happen either.

But what about singing in a heavenly choir for all eternity – praising The Lord forever and ever without ceasing?

What?

For some, that could be a definition of hell.

What if you found yourself wedged in the middle of that celestial chorus with no way out – like being stuck in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve when you realize you have to go to the bathroom…

just give up and go in your pants…?

I don’t want to sing praises 24/7 in an endless loop through the ages. Wouldn’t a “thank you” every now and then be sufficient for whatever entity created us?

Another friend of mine, in answer to my question about what he had been up to, told me that he had been living at the foot of the cross and hadn’t seen me there.

I told him I was over on the Catholic side.

I was raised Catholic – and I haven’t been to Mass in years, but I thought that was a fairly good rebuttal.

I wouldn’t presume, as Salieri said in “Amadeus.”

That’s a good statement, right there.

I am grateful to be living, loving and learning as I go – and I still have a lot of work to do. Maybe, when the lights finally go out, I will have picked up a Golden Ticket or two.

I wouldn't presume.

After years of hemming and hawing; after false starts and heaping helpings of procrastination, my brother and I finally launched our podcast…

Episode 29 – "Intercontinental Hiss" Yale Brothers Podcast

The twins talk about the importance of capturing ideas when they show up, Chris' stamp collection, practicing music in vacant rooms at The Magic Hotel (now Magic Castle Hotel) in the 70s, questioning authority and much more – including another original song from the archive… And what did Uncle Roger do with his verkykers… Above: Yale Brothers at Magic Hotel Front Desk SHOW NOTES: 0:00 – "Camelia" by Chris Yale 3:04 – About the song 4:14 – Capturing ideas / Roger's blog post, "Embrace the Flashes" Edirol R-09 ZOOM H1n Verkykers – Afrikaans for "Binoculars" 6:40 – Dad and Uncle Rog used to tell secrets in Afrikaans so we couldn't understand – and more about their accents. How many of our relatives in South Africa remain who knew Dad and Uncle Roger – or are the original Yale Brothers anecdotal now… 9:00 – 1934 half-dollar / Texas Centennial 9:47 – Chris' stamp collection / "Philatelist" sounds nasty 13:44 – Magic shows with Chris Gillette, son of Anita Gillette 14:20 – Roger's ventriloquist dummy, "Corky" 15:05 – Roger's comics – Marvel KISS Super Special 15:55 – Purification 16:51 – Playing music in vacant rooms at the Magic Hotel (Now Magic Castle Hotel) in Hollywood – and more 17:58 – Ron Flynt from 20/20 18:29 – Bla Bla Cafe 19:28 – Can we borrow a reel-to-real player? 20:36 – "Aud calls" at Hollywood Professional School 21:35 – Messing up songs at gigs and learning songs 23:41- Allergies 24:52 – Prescription drug names sound so stupid. 25:30 – Street drugs should have disclaimers. 25:59 – COVID-19 Vaccines 28:30 – Question authority – always and everywhere / sovereign citizen / Real ID 31:51 – Splintering churches, protestantism and more 32:41 – Steve Jobs getting canned at Apple 33:15 – LuLu's North Myrtle Beach / Tinder Box Myrtle Beach
  1. Episode 29 – "Intercontinental Hiss"
  2. Episode 28 – "Who Popped Our Float?"
  3. Episode 27 – "These Wands Don't Work!"
  4. Episode 26 – "The Heifetz Maneuver"
  5. Episode 25 – "Diphthongs and Autodidacts"

The first time we tried this, embarrassingly enough, was in 2008, when podcasts were still gaining steam and long before they became ubiquitous. Over a period of a years, we made several more stabs at this – and then we just stopped.

Some earlier attempts went up on SoundCloud, sort-of complete but not quite actual episodes. But we had stories to tell…

And we still do. Stories about growing up in Hollywood in the late 1970s and early 1980s – a period when the town was what my brother called “beautifully grungy” – well before a Build-A-Bear Workshop appeared across from the Chinese Theater.

We lived at the foot of the Hollywood Hills at Franklin Avenue and Orange Drive, in an apartment building wedged directly in between the fabled Magic Castle and a 40-unit hotel our father managed called The Magic Hotel. The hotel is now called The Magic Castle Hotel.

At that time, not only the names of the buildings were magic. Our young lives were as magical as could be.

This podcast will be cathartic for us, and I hope the stories of twin boomers coming of age in lotus land will strike a chord with those curious enough to have a listen.

But we’re not just about looking back. Expect to hear original music in each episode and updates on what’s going on with us now in Myrtle Beach.

Still 12

Never got to see Sublime? Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime has been channeling Sublime since 2001 – and they are at The Boathouse in Myrtle Beach this Sunday! Check out my Q&A with drummer and co-founder Scott Begin, which just posted on The Sun News companion site, Myrtle Beach Life.

*****

Sunday, The Boathouse Waterway Bar & Grill hosts Badfish: A tribute to Sublime as part of its 2017 Summer Concert Series.

Badfish_PressPhoto_2016_boat

Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime has been active since 2001, dedicated to playing the music of Sublime and building an impressive fan base along the way – some of which never got the chance to see Sublime.

Just two months after Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell’s untimely death from a heroin overdose in 1996, the band experienced considerable success with its third album, Sublime. That album hit number 13 on the Billboard 200, and the song, “What I Got,” became a number one hit single – and other well-known songs like “Santeria” and “Wrong Way” came from that album as well.

But without the presence of its lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, the writing was on the wall. Sublime was to be Sublime’s final album.

Badfish, not to be confused with the Southern California-based band of the same name, has been channeling the spirit of Sublime since its inception in Rhode Island 16 years ago, with no sign of letting up.

Badfish drummer and co-founder Scott Begin spoke with The Sun News by telephone last week.

Q: Do you guys still live in Rhode Island?

A: The bass player [Joel Hanks] and I live in Rhode Island. The singer [Pat Downes] lives in Hawaii. Dorian [Duffy – keys, guitars, samples] lives in Chicago. We’re kind of all over the place, but as much as we have a home base, Rhode Island is it.

Q: I read that you were computer science majors at the University of Rhode Island. Can you give us a rundown on this? How did Badfish come together?

A: Just [Joel Hanks] and myself were the computer nerds. He and I met in classes right here at the University of Rhode Island. It was the type of thing where – not to generalize, but I think a lot of the people in those majors or fields of study tend to be less inclined to do something like play music. They’re pretty much in front of a computer screen.

Joel and I were more like, “yeah, this is cool and we like the computer stuff,” but we also were musicians too and this was a passion of ours – so we realized that we had that in common. We just started to develop the idea of trying to put together a Sublime tribute show – which is really all it was at the inception of this whole thing – and see how it goes.

We loved Sublime. All of our friends loved Sublime, and there were no bands doing that then. We put on a show at our local beach bar here, and it went really well – and then we said why don’t we keep doing this once a month or here or there – and try to branch out.

Between 2001 and 2003, things started to snowball, and the next thing you know, we’re graduating. I worked for maybe a year in the programming field until Joel and I said we can keep ourselves busy enough to continue to keep this ball rolling – and maybe I am playing drums now for a living instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.

And that’s how it all went down.

Q: How do you capture the essence of Sublime?

A: We never got a chance to see Sublime – but just being so in touch with them by playing their music over the years, we always try to bring a show that we feel has the energy and the vibe of that a Sublime show would have been.

There are cover bands all around the country that play other people’s music. To any music fan, it’s clear when a band is sort of phoning it in. You can tell. But the songs themselves are not difficult. It’s not like we are playing progressive rock – so what you have to do then is not to just play the chords and sing the lyrics, but you need to project a vibe that feels authentic. By way of enjoying Sublime’s music so much – and having the crowd sing all of the words back to you – it’s a really cool synergy in a show. We feel like it’s a really cool, authentic experience.

And it’s honest, what we play. It has enabled us to keep going. We really have a passion for it.

Q: You guys are playing up and Eastern Seaboard until September, with some interesting stops, including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J., and something called the Garden Grove Festival in Southwick, Mass. The festival seems like an anchor for Badfish. What is that all about?

A: A few years back, we had done a few of those Garden Grove Festivals. We’re trying to kind of build the festival. It’s sort of Sublime-themed, with bands that we are friends with and kind of have a Sublime vibe to them.

The idea sort of got shelved for a little bit, but we’re trying to resurrect it right now. There have been some new bands that we played with since then that just really incredible bands – part of a really great scene, and we really want to get this idea kicking again.

Q: Is this your first Boathouse show?

A: We have done at least twice already at The Boathouse. Maybe we have even done three. We will do House of Blues at different times of the year. The Boathouse is always a free show, it’s always on a Sunday, and it’s a really cool hang right there. It’s always a really, really fun gig.

Q: Are you actively involved in the bookings anymore?

A: We work in conjunction with a booking agency out of L.A., but we are pretty hands-on when it comes to the booking stuff. It’s not so much that we just say go ahead and book us a tour. We’re actively involved in making decisions about how often we play, where we play – and how long we are away from home.

Q: Since you have been at House of Blues Myrtle Beach and The Boathouse, you are no strangers to the Grand Strand. Do you guys have a rabid fan base here?

A: I think that we do.

Q: So you are well-received down here?

A: Yeah. I think we started playing at House of Blues 10 years ago at least. Maybe even 12 years ago. We played a couple of smaller spots around town, but it’s been pretty consistent with people coming out to check us out. We see a lot of familiar faces when we are out there – people that have been coming for years and years, so there has definitely been that good core of rabid fans, I guess. And you always meet some people who say, “this is the first time we saw you, and we really enjoyed it” – so that’s encouraging as well.

Q I am sure you have the superfans too – the ones who know more about Badfish than you do.

A: Oh yeah – we do. Sometimes it’s pretty surprising.  People tell me where we are going to be playing in four months – and I’m like, “I’m glad you know because I don’t.” It’s wonderful to have fans like that.

Q: Did you get a chance to poke around here and experience the fabled Southern Hospitality? Or do you just stick and move?

A lot of times, it’s, in town – do the show – and get out of town. I’d say more than Myrtle Beach, we probably spent a little more time in Charleston. I feel like we’ve had a few days off there where we’ve been able to kind of get out – walk around – get some good food. That’s one of our favorite spots too, and it’s got that kind of vibe – that southern hospitality kind of vibe.

[Badfish is scheduled to play The Windjammer in Isle of Palms with Sun Dried Vibes on June 26.]

Q: What about the younger fans –the people that didn’t get a chance to see Sublime? Does it surprise you to see young faces at the show?

A: It doesn’t surprise me in the sense that we do. I feel like it’s more spread out now than it was when the band started. When it started, it was just college-aged kids – like people that were fans of Sublime. But now those people – myself included – have gotten older, and what’s happening with Sublime is that it has sort of gotten passed down through the generations – or through the generation, I guess.

We see a larger spread of ages now, and it’s really cool to see how the legacy of Sublime has sort of meandered through the fandom to really illustrate what kind of a band Sublime was. They had this unique thing going on. I can liken it to kind of a Grateful Dead thing where they have a cult following. They might have had a couple of radio hits, but they still have a following that gets passed down as younger people get turned on to it. It keeps us busy.

Q: The mantle has kind of fallen on you guys now, 16 years in.

A: We have been lucky enough to get sort of the unofficial blessing from people that were involved with Sublime. Bradley’s wife was at a show in Anaheim – and she was onstage, rocking out with us. A couple of the horn players that have played with Sublime have sat in with us and have even done little tours with us.

I feel that we have always tried to be respectful to Sublime’s legacy. We try to bring the best show we can bring. If people consider that we are kind of carrying the torch, we don’t want to let them down.

Q: What are future plans for the band?

A: The plan is just kind of just keep it trucking. We’re working on a few different things with these outdoor festivals that we are going to try to build. A few of those that we have done for many years have done well, but we’d like to try to make a couple more big events happen. Otherwise, we have our spots that we love to go to and that love having us back – like Myrtle Beach and so many other places between here and there and around the country. We’re just going to stay the course and keep going for it.

I look forward to being at the Boathouse and doing some day drinking.

Yale Brothers by Buzz Berry

[Above photo: Buzz Berry]

Thursday marked the final performance of The Yale Brothers‘ winter engagement at House of Blues Myrtle Beach – in all, 22 shows from 5:30-8 p.m in an intimate setting on the stage inside the restaurant.

After committing to the gig as a solo act, my brother Chris agreed to join me on these. I couldn’t have been happier, figuring this as a good way to hone our craft weekly in the same room, and cultivating our audience as we went along.

[Above performance photos: Rob Grindstaff]

Chris still gives me a hard time about the fact that the marketing promos and menus were printed with my name only – but deadlines are deadlines – and hopefully all was forgiven when he saw that The Yale Brothers appeared on the electronic marquee out on U.S. 17.

Yale Brothers HOB Sign

The cool thing about this gig was that we were able to deliver a combination of thoughtful covers as well as originals. This is always ideal, so in addition to great stuff by Faces, Elton John, Tom Petty, Radiohead and Johnny Cash, for instance, we enjoyed introducing our material – songs like Chris’ “Famous Last Words,” “Roll Away the Stone” and “Castaway” to my twisted ballad, “It’s Not Love” and Stax/Volt soul-inspired “Is That What It Is.”


Here’s our cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” [Video: Brendan Wright Images]

Many of our friends came out to see us – some more than once, and for that we are grateful. That was above and beyond. We also made the rounds of the tables and introduced ourselves to people who just happened to be in there for a meal or a drink – and made new friends.

The vibe at House of Blues is unmatched, and the kindness and camaraderie we enjoyed with staffers was astonishing. Thank you all for making us a part of the family.

[Above: Chris with Show Marketing Manager Megan Ramhoff / Brand Marketing Manager Dawn Temples Knopf kicking off a Hopped Up Tap Takeover]

Moving forward, The Yale Brothers plan on writing and recording, playing select shows – and finally getting our podcast up and running.

Stay tuned for details about next winter.

Yale Brothers HOB Water Tower

Yale Brothers with SignsMy brother and I have done six or seven of these SoundCloud audio tracks, which would be considered podcasts if we had them set up with the proper feeds and delivery systems.

The fact that we haven’t yet done that is a head-scratcher – considering that a middle school kid could likely have us ready to go in minutes.

But we love these sessions, and they have a way of meandering off into the tangential.

Where else in 30 minutes can you hear about everything from the bands Big Country and TSOL to Robert Morse and Larry Kert and (of all people) Fifi D’Orsay – to Orson Welles‘ questionable housekeeping practices – to my incessant vaping – to our upcoming gigs at House of Blues Myrtle Beach?

Yale Bros Podcast Pic

I WAS WRONG: We ARE playing the Brews Blues & BBQ event there this Saturday!

Blues and Brews HOB

We’re dads as well – so we love to chime in about what our adult children are up to!

This is, indeed, a junk drawer – but we all know what cool shit is to be found in the junk drawer.

Have a listen.