[note: click on headers for individual posts to see Comment, Share, Like buttons, etc. Follow from link at the top of the page]
Greetings actual or potential fans! Guitarist Joel Newton here, and this is my new blog site. You may know me from the Joel Newton Situation and other serious musical pursuits. For better or worse, you have stumbled upon or deliberately found the official web page for the Joel Newton Earth-tet, a group dedicated to bringing hot jazz-funk-rock-fusion to the farthest reaches of the globe, with a dizzying array of special guests, many of whom are famous and awesome.
You’ll be reading about these people (among many others)…
and these non-people things…
Yes, as amazing as it may seem, past guests and almost guests include Taylor Swift and Ted Nugent, and a soon-to-be guest is Billy Joel. This is not a joke, although it might seem to be a joke. Wait, what is a joke? How about I’m dead serious about doing this “thing,” so it really isn’t a joke? I’m doing this to better my life, and the people around me. Is that a joke? I don’t think so. Or maybe it is. Ha ha ha ha. Have I covered my ass legally? I have no idea.
I digress. Hold on to your seats, fasten your seat-belts, adjust your seats horizontally and vertically as needed, try not to pee in your seat, and prepare to experience musings on the musical experience unlike anything you’ve experienced before, except for a root canal, in terms of intensity, or at least stupidity.
EXCITING BULLETINS BELOW! They are in REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, so start from the bottom if you want to catch up, or just keep reading this way to catch down. Get comfy with a beer or glass of wine, or a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Some of it’s funny, so be careful with the contents of your mouth; you don’t want Cabernet or chocolate chips flying out of your nose. Or maybe you do. I don’t judge my fans.
*Ted Nugent was booked for our originally-planned Paramus debut at the Flo-Flo-Kus Mall, but it didn’t work out (see Bulletin 2, June 28). That’s about when Taylor came into my life. As it turns out, she was on Cape Cod, secretly researching me and working on “the look” she’d use to try to insinuate herself into my band. It worked.
That’s not a throwaway comment. I want to know. Write to us. Email us. Talk to us at a show. Do you like us? Do you want more of something? Less? The same amount, but in a different style or with a different attitude? We are a work in progress, and while we take great pride in the inherent qualities which we think will soon thrust us into a blinding and emboldening international spotlight, along the way we can gain from tips from those we serve: You.
We serve you, so in a way you are our boss. Kind of, but not really. After all, we are the band, so it seems weird to say you “rule” us in any way. Maybe it’s best if we both think about the relationship in whatever way is most gratifying to each of us, and we’ll just kind of stay out each other’s business in that department.
I love you guys.
Anyway, it is with humility but plenty of optimism that I report on the Joel Newton Earth-tet’s goings on on the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora.
If you’ll recall our objectives as stated in the last post, we set out here to get drummer Cedric laid and then find a local musical hero with whom to rehearse and then win over the musical hearts and mind of the relaxed,primitive and naked Bora Borans.
Success has been mixed, but there’s more good than bad.
It turns out people here wear clothes much like people in Nyack and other locales we’re acquainted with. Gauguin seems to have misrepresented things in his paintings, which depict nudes very casually and widely distributed across the land. At any rate, Cedric had to learn from scratch the art-form that his passion for science caused him to neglect for decades – that of acknowledging and then acting on male sexual desire in a manner that results in intercourse or at least heavy petting. I kept telling him that half the fun is getting them undressed, when in fact we all know the undressing only accounts for about 20% of the fun. (Of course, I am only talking about fully consensual sex. We’re not talking Bill Cosby moves here. All JNET’ers adhere to the highest moral standards. Bassist Janice is no exception. And none of this applies to me, as I’m happily married. Just wanted to make that clear.)
Anyway, Cedric seems to have succeeded. He’s got a shit-eatin’ grin on his face most days, and it isn’t from eating shit.
And there’s more good news. Remember that our chief objective is to put on an epic show with a local musical hot-shit. Someone who can ingratiate us into the Bora Boran mainstream and help us prove that our uniquely rich brand of art-meets-populist music can make waves with some of the most beautifully tranquil and unassuming people in the world. A people whose simplicity and open-mindedness are likely mirrored across the globe, providing a roadmap for our imminent journey to planetary triumph.
To this end, master Tahitian drummer, Pani Geilani, joined the band after hearing about our affiliation with Taylor Swift. It turns out he thought she was a goddess. I was unable to contain my opportunistic urges:
me: Taylor Swift is a goddess.
me: Kind of.
Pani: Then how did she play with you?
me: Goddesses get bored being in Goddessland. Sometimes they like to play with earthly bands, including hot jazz-funk-pop operations.
Pani: But she’s more of a country-rock-turned-pop singer. What role did she have with you guys? What does she know about advanced harmony and chromatic passing tones?
me: Wait, you know about that stuff? I thought your people were simple and primitive, and often unclad.
Pani: You racist ignoramus.
me: Just kidding. And you look great in clothes. Do you want to join the band?
Pani: For how long?
me: Till Tuesday, when we fly to Afghanistan.
Pani: Just kidding, I am usually naked.
Me: You’re hired. Is there a Denny’s around here?
Pani: There is. A naked Denny’s.
I still don’t know if Pani will be dressed or naked for the gig, and we haven’t decided where we’re playing, but he assures me that he can not only drum up popular interest in a show but also procure a venue: apparently his younger brother, Jo, age 9, walks all 16 of Bora Bora’s Mayor’s dogs daily and is overdue for compensation. Early chatter would have us believe that we’ll be be playing at either Town Hall, the Mayor’s backyard (next to the chicken coop) or, quite dramatically, on the rim of the central volcanic mountain.
I’m told the Denny’s is right next to the volcanic spot we might be playing at.
I’ve also learned enough from my 5 weeks on the road with JNET to know that when locals tell you there might be a Denny’s, there might not be a Denny’s.
**quick note: as I’m sure you can understand, JNET’s logistical ups and downs lead invariably to emotional ups and downs, and there have been moments, frankly, where we’ve all turned to the bottle. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that we’ve so far resisted the excesses that have poisoned so many other epic bands. Case in point, the one time I mimicked a classically ballsy (and reckless) Jimmy Page move, I had the good sense to keep the bottle corked.
Anyway, beautiful fans, including the normal American ones, I love and thank you for the push you’ve given me and Cedric and Janice. I also thank the generous Dr. Ivana Vakov. We shan’t let you guys down. After traveling the world and meeting and positively impacting all sorts (millions, maybe billions) of people of all accents and skin colors, we will return to you, beloved American brethren and sistren, and knock your pants off with newfound worldliness and globarrific mojo. We know that as great as America is now, our humble contribution can only make it better. We’re gonna have so much fun in the process.
And even if things get really bad and we are killed by, or brain-washed into joining, the Taliban, or if we decide that we just can’t return to America as long as Chris Christie is in it, please remember that our roots are in Nyack, and Jones Beach (area) and Dayton, and ain’t no one takin’ that away from us, unless they’re ready to pay us a lot of dollars.
Cherished Joel Newton Earth-tet fans. How are you?
We’re in the air right now (heading South, somewhere not too far from Hawaii). We’re in an airplane: becoming big rockstars, but still haven’t learned how to fly on our own.
Wanted to update you briefly on our goings-on:
MAJOR RECAP #1: Our Jones-ish Beach concert of last Tuesday (less than a quarter-mile from the official JB concert site) was amazing. We got 23 legible signatures on our mailing list, and I made meaningful eye-contact with many more an adoring fan. As has been discussed, the audience was naked, probably drunk, and almost definitely overstuffed on complimentary ham sandwiches.
So we feel good. Except for our guest, Billy Joel. He got stung in the testicles by one of Dr. Ivana Vakov’s giant carbon-sucking jellyfish while being theatrically ballooned off our floating stage. One of its tentacles had surreptitiously slithered up through an electrical conduit onto the stage and wrapped around Billy’s mic stand. When he did his signature bawdy move with the microphone, it zapped him where it counts. Poor Billy was still grabbing his noticeably swollen nuts in the air and grimacing while paparazzi gathered around our limo to catch the landing. All press is good press.
MAJOR RECAP #2: Our Dayton dairy farm gig with the Dolores J. Stangaroni Elementary School Orchestra was also a big success. Our first gig without a superstar guest, I held my own in the vocal department, and we slayed the audience with a mix of sizzling jazz-rock-fusion originals and choice pop hits from the last few decades, with sophisticated musical restylings. The only problem is that the Satan’s-horns-evoking double cutaway of my Gibson SG electric guitar apparently didn’t sit well with some of the more God-fearing in the crowd, many of whom had driven to the gig in tractors. Mistaking me for Diablo himself, 30 or 40 of them grabbed pitchforks from their wagons and decided to end the concert early, by chasing the band to the city limits on foot. Thankfully, local hero, Dr. Ivana Vakov, whose Nobel prize (for proving that the Earth is hard and crunchy on its surface but much more chewy at its center) and whose warm reception by the Nathan McFliggle Institute for Earth Sciences was the reason we came to Dayton in the first place – Dr. Vakov talked the angry mob down by synopsizing her scientific work and promising each one of them $100 cash (from her NASA grant).
The rude zealots still didn’t sign our mailing list or buy our JNET mugs and pencil erasers, but they did refrain from killing us, which was nice.
We are off on the next leg of our quest to become global superstars by melding exquisitely refined jazz-funk music with catchy and pulsing pop genres, often with the help of big name stars (we’ve already been through Billy Joel and Taylor Swift, and almost Ted Nugent – see early posts). This has all happened in about a month, so we’re feeling good about ourselves. Cedric and Janice are feeling so good about themselves that they had not one but two lunches at Denny’s today.
In a few hours we will arrive in Tahiti, and then Island hop to the luxury, peace and simple, often naked lifestyle of Bora Bora.
Our goals here are four-fold:
1) Procure voodoo dolls and punish the silly people from Dayton.
2) Find sultry naked women for Cedric to engage with. Ever since a travel agent showed him some of Gauguin’s paintings from his Tahiti period, Cedric, making up lost time from forgetting to have sex for 30 years, has been under the impression (as Gauguin too may have been) that sex in French Polynesia is like saying, “Hey, how ya doin?” in other parts of the world. I hope he’s right.
3) Find a local musical hero with whom to do a sensational concert, which in turn will help us:
4) Prove to the world that we can win over not only sophisticated audiences (Nyack, Long Island’s beach set, etc), ordinary folk (Dayton), eventually evil and demented barbarians (Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region), but also relaxed, primitive, and typically naked people (Tahiti and Islands).
We realize our earth-circumnavigating aspirations and desire to surpass all other bands in history is slow in bearing fruit (it’s been over a month, and we’re only half-way around the world, and we haven’t even booked our gig there yet), but we are relaxed, proud, and confident. Apple wasn’t built in a day. The Rolling Stones are still touring, so I guess they still think they have something to prove. Menudo is pretty much washed up and, apparently, has no Dayton following.
So, please, dear fans, please raise a glass to us, as we rocket onwards. We couldn’t do it without you. Mostly us. We couldn’t do it without us.
Hello people, JNET people, the best people, badass jazz-funk-fusion fanatics, pop lovers, and rock-n-roll life-style and zany road hijinx addicts. Or if you’re just a non-descript dude who stumbled upon this blog: Hello to you as well. Or a dudess: charmed to have you on board again, or for the first time (what took you so long?).
My god, so much to talk about, so little time.
Before I get going on a JNET travel bulletin, please allow me to give quick vent to a recent bothersome development:
I discovered the other day that I have friends who do not think it’s cool to pee in the shower. What the fuck? They’ve seen the Seinfeld episode where Castanza explains how it all goes down the same pipe. And even though it’s now known that urine is not 100% sterile, it’s still probably pretty sterile. We don’t balk at spitting in the sink, do we?
Me: “Yeah, I pee in the shower, what’s the big deal?”
Billy: “It’s gross, you’re gross.”
Me: “It goes down the same pipe; it’s instantly washed away along with all the other crap that oozes off your body.”
Billy: “So you’re saying you’d lick the shower floor.”
Me: “I didn’t say that.”
Billy: “Would you?”
Billy: “OK, I will too.”
Me: “Do you want to do it together?”
Billy: “That’s sick.”
Me: “I know, just kidding.”
Billy: “No you weren’t.”
Me: “I know.”
Billy: “That’s sick.”
OK, thanks for hearing me out. I shan’t bring it up again. Moving on…
Two more quick news flashes:
NEWSFLASH 1 – Our dear bassist, Cedric Fritz, if you’ll remember back to our expeditionary visit to the nudist beach in preparation for the Billy Joel concert, is something of a sex fiend, only cuz he forgot to look at, think about, or have any physical dealings with women for his first few decades of life, owing to his all-consuming obsession with science. He even forgot to have dealings with himself. Anyhoo, as part of his desperate catch-up campaign, Cedric visited Dayton’s Romantic Depot adult store after seeing an ad in a discarded newspaper he found at the airport. Long story short: he got injured at the inescapably alluring demonstration booth. Don’t ask. The good news is, he can still play jazz-rock drums like a mofo. None among our legions of adoring fans will know that he’ll be walking funny for the next couple of weeks. Oh, unless you’re reading this.
NEWSFLASH 2 – Janice Tubman,our esteemed bassist, lost all her Jones Beach-ish gig earnings ($76) from reckless cow-tipping. Janice, a modern Jaco Pastorius on the bass and a brilliant research assistant with unparalleled experience in giant jellyfish-based global warming reversal, doesn’t know much, it turns out, about cow tipping. Does anyone? Has anyone ever actually pushed a cow over for fun? Regardless of the answer, most people understand the concept of cow tipping. Not so, Janice. She thought, for some reason, it’s a funny prank to descend on a small rural community, find the nearest dairy farm, and then start tipping the cows – with money, as if they’ve performed some service to your satisfaction. Paying cows money. Janice was cow tipping by stuffing $1’s, $5’s and even $10’s into the cowbells of unsuspecting bovines, and then snickering to herself.
As I said before, Janice is an excellent bass player.
OK, MOVING ON…
I want to tell you about the smash success of our Jones Beach-ish concert with BillyJoel (less than a half-mile from the well-known Jones Beach concert site), our Dayton, OH dairy farm concert tomorrow with the Dolores J. Stangaroni Elementary School orchestra, and how we were convinced by a travel agent to switch our next mega jazz-funk-pop extravaganza destination from Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region (we wanted to show the world we could be accessible to evil and demented people) to French Polynesia’s Bora Bora(Cedric wanted to have sex with Gauguin’s nudes).
But there’s no time at the moment. We’re playing in less than 20 hours and have to finish rehearsing 18 hits from 1971 to 2014, excluding 1987-1989. Plus I have to change guitar strings, do long stretches in anticipation of tomorrow’s heavy leg-kick demand, gargle with garlic salt water to loosen my pipes, and get a good, long, midwestern sleep. The 6 eggs, 12 strips of bacon, 4 flap-jacks, and 3 cups of artificial syrup at Denny’s tomorrow morning will no doubt boost my preparedness as well.
I don’t know whom or what I love more: my band, Taylor, my Fender half-stack, a good Long Island deli ham sandwich, Dayton and its cows and cowgirls, Nyack and its yoga instructors, Cedric’s charming and unbridled perma-erection … it’s all happening way too fast …
Our big Jones Beach-ish concert with guest Billy Joel is coming up in a few hours. Don’t forget to get your tickets in advance – complimentary ham sandwich offer has been extended to 2pm. We’re even throwing in extra mayonnaise, and a pickle – for free! Led Zeppelin never did that.
I should be focusing on final touches for the show, like the soaring harmony I’m attempting on “New York State of Mind.” Don’t worry, I’ll get it together. With each try, it’s sounding more like Geddy Lee and less like Edith Bunker, which is the goal. And the blisteringly fast funk-bop rendition of “Movin’ Out’ is coming along, although it’s hard to hear the words. I’m hoping naked, drunk people on the beach eating ham sandwiches won’t mind.
Since I’ll be preoccupied with travel and autograph signing after the show, I’m taking a short break now to tell you about the amazing journey the Joel Newton Earth-tet (JNET) is about to embark on. Just a bit for now: I’ll provide more details when I’ve landed safely and gotten my bearings in … yes, it’s true … Dayton, Ohio. I’ve hit the big time, baby.
Just kidding, Dayton is kind of a shitty little place, but that’s exactly why we’re going there. Check it out:
When Dr. Ivana Vakov won her Nobel Prize for proving that the Earth is hard and crunchy on its surface but much more chewy in the center, she was invited to speak at the esteemed Nathan McFliggle Institute for Earth Sciences. Upon returning, she told Janice and Cedric (our bassist and drummer, Dr. Vakov’s assistants at the time) about her experience:
Vakov: “After years of putting up with snooty MIT and Harvard types, it was so refreshing to see herds of easy-going, simple, kind people.”
Cedric: “What people? Where were they?”
Vakov: “At Denny’s.”
Janice: “What else impressed you.”
Vakov: “How much they ate, and how big they were. It was hard to do that back in Russia. Enough about this: Cedric, fetch me another jellyfish from the tank.”
What I took away from all this is that JNET needs to be a little more of the people. Good, simple, fun-loving Americans. Let’s face it, Nyack and Long Island have a lot of elitists. As exciting as it is to have sophisticated fans, I don’t think you can become a global mega star if you skip over regular folk – people who work in factories or in the backs of supermarkets, or farmers, retailers, roofers, appliance salespeople, second-rate attorneys, demoted cops, assistant dog-trainers, truck drivers, construction workers, thieves, etc.
No, I have to show the world that everyone, no matter how ignorant and uncultured, can enjoy my music. Sure, I represent the sublimely refined cutting edge of music, fusing into one Super-Music the best of mankind’s rhythmic, harmonic, melodic, and textural traditions since ancient times. But JNET’s real talent has to lie in allowing that music to flow freely and nourishingly into the ears and souls of the most ordinary people in the world.
That is why I chose Dayton as the site of our next chapter. And that is why we will forgo a mega pop-star this time and join forces instead with the Dolores J. Stangaroni Elementary School Orchestra. They’re not great, but we’ll rehearse for a few days and they’ll add a nice Beatles-esque background to my quickly-developing lead vocal chops. I can’t believe I thought I needed that blowhard Nugent a few weeks ago. What an a-hole.
Our audience will be simple folk. Our guests will be simple folk spawn. We will be stars. Our music will go under their heads, over their heads, and right through their heads. I think this is the beginning of an exciting new epoch of our ascendance.
JNET: “World, we are our own mega pop-stars.”
World: “What about Billy Joel, Ted Nugent and Taylor Swift?”
JNET: “They taught us a lot, but it’s time to show the world’s people that we don’t need them anymore.”
World: “What if you guys just sound like a bunch of jazz-funk-fusion wankers without a real singer, who can dance.”
JNET: “I can sing and dance, so there. Did you see me with Taylor at Smart Cafe?”
World: “We tried to get in, but the place only seats 20 people.”
JNET: “That’s understandable. We’ll let pop-stars play with us now and then, but if I can sound like Geddy Lee and do leg kicks like Taylor Swift, we’re gonna be just fine on our own.
World: “Someone else is calling, I gotta take this.”
JNET: “Alright, call me later.”
We’ll update you in a few days with details for the Dayton gig. Expect scorching JN originals and some covers of your favorite hits from 1971 to 2014, excluding 1987-1989.
Oh, almost forgot: we head to Afghanistan after Dayton. Weird, right? I’ll explain. It’s gonna be off the hook. Some of us might get killed.
Beautiful fans, BIG NEWS: The Joel Newton Earth-tet with Billy Joel concert at Jones Beach is on, broken femur or no, even though it’s not happening at Jones Beach. As I mentioned, the Jones Beach concert authorities deemed our budding mega jazz-fusion-meets-pop enterprise still a little under-fanned (this might be a good time to start Following us, and to Like our Facebook page – thanks!), so screw ‘em, Billy and I set out to find our own nearby strip of beach for a grass-roots affair of stunning scale and success. That’s when Billy fell out of the helicopter and broke his femur. He’s been in a lot of pain, and is still distressed over the belief that he spotted his seventh ex-wife rolling around in the sand with Joe Pesci as we flew over a nudist beach. Whether or not there’s any connection, Billy said to me from his hospital bed the other day:
“Joel, so we still need to find the strip of bea… [glurk] … call the nurse, I’m gonna throw up from the pain.”
Then he threw up.
The next day, he said to me:
“Joel, so we still need to find the strip of beach for the show … and there was that nudist beach we saw … so, um … maybe the nudist beach is a good strip … nudist … strip … get it”? He then proceeded to laugh and wave his arms around so violently that he fell out of the bed and broke his wrist. He didn’t seem to realize anything was wrong and kept on laughing for a while. It’s great to know his pain-killers are working so well.
So I agreed to perform at the nudist beach, as did Cedric and Janice (our drummer and bassist and ex-MIT research assistants – if you’ll remember back, they left the lab of Dr. Ivana Vakov to pursue their music dreams with me, even though it meant missing the chance to help Dr. Vakov stop global warming with giant colonies of genetically-engineered carbon-sucking jellyfish in combination with an array of balloons and vacuum tubes). Cedric was particularly pleased about the concert location. He had been such an avid student of science his whole life that he had forgotten to ever take a break to gratify himself sexually, or get himself gratified: the thought of being in the company of naked women was both thrilling and terrifying to him.
So yesterday, Billy felt good enough to let me take him to the nudist beach to fine-tune our plan of attack. I wheeled him in one of those ridiculous-looking beach wheelchairs, but his continued use of strong painkillers made it quite enjoyable for him. He kept reaching down, scooping up handfuls of sand and throwing them in the air, singing through a boyish grin, “Honesty … is such a lonely word.”
Cedric, who was ahead of us by 50 yards (no doubt in his jubilance over the prospect of seeing naked women) suddenly waved his arms and pointed to an incoming boat, covered with solar panels and racing at an alarming rate toward the beach and the breaking waves. “Ivana, Ivana!” “You wanna what,” I replied. “No, it’s Dr. Vakov – I emailed her about our plans, and it looks like she decided to drop in.”
So now for the twist. We’re not actually performing on the beach.
Check it out:
Dr. Vakov has not only made an incredible recovery from her dementia using an experimental kale-based drug, but it turns out she’s been one of our biggest fans, following the Earth-tet’s adventures online and even secretly attending our Smart Cafe brunch gig in Nyack (she’s understandably self-conscious, being 96 years old, and only a couple of weeks into cognitive rebirth). Anyway, she’s going ahead with her planet-saving mission, with the help of a fresh set of assistants, all men, all abundantly experienced in sexual gratification and correspondingly uninterested in the nudist beach. But they are interested in creating the world’s biggest jellyfish colony, and the whole team, stepping out of the bobbing vessel and onto shore, invited us to have our concert on top of that very jellyfish colony, on a floating research facility and state of the art concert stage complete with (carbon-free) smoke machines, giant projection screens, ham sandwich stand, and a small circus act, all paid for with NASA grant money.
This has never been done, and it demonstrates our commitment to pushing boundaries and, whenever possible, saving the planet while we add sophisticated jazz stylings to classic pop ditties.
We will float back and forth a hundred yards from the beach while our legions of fans (many of them naked and enjoying complimentary ham sandwiches) watch revolutionary jazz-funk-rock music accompanying revolutionary use of disgusting sea creatures. Most excitingly, the installation of the balloons and vacuum tubes will happen while we are playing, and if all goes well, we will be harnessed and ballooned off the platform to our awaiting limos at the show’s conclusion. And if all goes really well, Billy won’t fall and break his femur again. But, hey, it’s rock ‘n’ roll.
The show is this coming Tuesday, July 28th.
Thanks for checking in and being devoted to us. Get ready for craziness.
Avid Earth-tet fans, a BILLY JOEL Jones Beach concert update – sorry to have kept you in suspense:
Sadly, you’ll have to stay in suspense longer. Or you could just decide to stop caring about us. But, deep down, you know that’s impossible, perhaps even stupid. Because, when the Earth-tet makes it BIG, you’ll want to feel like an insider, someone who supported us with Likes and good vibes from the start. You don’t want to be like those new Deadheads who seem wholly disconnected from the band’s earthy roots. People see right through these wannabes, tag-alongs, and insecure types who were never really part of a scene and are playing desperate catch-up, throwing around terms like “bootleg,” “shrooms,” “cassette,” “Trey,” “Terrapin,” and “wasted years” without any real commitment or understanding of what it all means. No, you want in NOW, so you can grow WITH, even INTO PART OF the Earth-tet (so to speak) before it’s too late. You are a good person, and I am proud of you.
So on to the business at hand: Billy Joel broke his femur and will not be standing on stage as our guest for the big Long Island show. I know. I know. It sucks. Don’t despair, there will still be a show (t.b.a.), but Billy will be sitting, or lying, down, and in a considerable amount of pain.
Here’s what happened …
This past weekend, Billy and I, after meeting at a deli in delightful Seaford, Long Island, to review the set-list over ham sandwiches, cole slaw and Baked Lays (Billy’s on a diet), decided to charter a dune buggy for the purpose of exploring gig-site options in the vicinity of Jones Beach. We had been hoping to play the customary stage at Jones Beach, but were turned down for having an “insufficient fan base.” If you haven’t liked our page, please do so at this point.
So we figured we would do even better than “playing Jones Beach.” We would play it on our own terms. With a grass roots initiative, and a unique set of attractions, we would create our own “little” affair a few miles to the East of the traditional stage. I don’t want to give too much away, cuz this is still going to happen at a later date, but let me just say that circus performers will be involved (and probably injured), attendees will enjoy the option of nudity, and ham sandwiches will be included in the price of admission. More about all this later.
Anyway, Billy and I needed to scope things out and find a quiet nook on the beach with adequate road access, but remote enough that we’d have a few hours’ lead on the fuzz before being busted up. The illicit nature of this musical coup will no doubt be a value-add to the Earth-tet’s legend. Satellite maps gave us some ideas, and it was with considerable vim and vigor that we arrived at Lorio’s 135 Beach Supply Center on Route 135 in Seaford, NY. We asked the young man there if they rented dune buggies, and he said something that sounded kind of like “no,” but his Long Island accent was so thick that we couldn’t tell if he was actually saying “North.” We asked if there was a Northern branch of the store and we think he said “no” again, cuz it wouldn’t make sense to say “North” again in that context. Deciding we better check out another establishment, we turned to leave and were almost back at Billy’s 2008 Ultra Classic Harley with sidecar when we heard the young man yell out, “Elgopta.” He pointed to a large object on the side of the building, and we realized he was referring to the rental helicopter. Billy slapped me affectionately on the back. I sighed with relief, and also pride that a rock star had just related to me with such an intimate gesture. It was more than a slap. There was a little rubbing after the slap, and he lingered longer than he had to. I don’t mind telling you that it moved.
So, long story short, within 30 minutes we’re up in the air scoping out concert sites, feeling like kings (me about to perform on a famous beach with superstar, he about to perform on a famous beach with a guitarist who can superimpose one harmonic center on another and link together chord tones with rich chromatic passing notes (including the very rare B double sharp), all while wearing fitted jeans and staring lovingly at the audience. Taylor taught me that one. Thanks, Taylor.
But then something horrible happened. As we passed over a nudist beach, Billy thought he saw his seventh ex-wife snuggling with Joe Pesci. He demanded that the pilot swoop back around for a second look, and when the pilot muttered something incomprehensible with a thick Long Island accent, Billy lost his composure and, holding the pilot in a half nelson with his right arm, attempted to steer the elgopta into a quick 180. The result was instantaneous and devastating. The elgopta lurched and spun and dove. Billy somehow fell out. The pilot resumed control with seconds to spare as we plummeted toward unclad crotches. My disappointment in not seeing up-close naked people was quickly replaced with an incredible sense of relief at being alive.
But then I remembered Billy.
He was alive. He landed on a steep sand dune and rolled into the giant bosom of a naked octogenarian. If you believe Billy, her greeting words were, “Uhmagod, yaw Billy Joel. Muy tits hawt, but, fawk, yaw Billy Joel. And I think ya gawt a broken femaw.”
Alas, we still don’t know where near Jones Beach we will be performing. It will be epic when it does happen, and YOU will be the first to know.
Greetings Nyack Earth-tet fans, plus all those who live on or near Long Island:
The two surprise “pop-up” gigs with Taylor were fun, but they would have been more fun if people had attended, or been in the vicinity. Sure, you could argue that the time and place were wrong, but we thought that after the smash success of last Sunday’s brunch gig, the audience would have been waiting in the wings, ready to spring out in thunderous support under any geo-temporal circumstances. Apparently 3am on a Tuesday at the Plateau at Nyack Beach State Park was a little remote and late for even our most die-hard fans. We’ve learned our lesson and will find better fans. Just kidding. We will strive to be more sensitive to your needs. Being a rock star is hard, I’m finding.
So … it’s true, pop-rock legend, Billy Joel, has signed on to a gig with the Earth-tet. It will be on Long Island, soon. Details tba. Crazy, huh?
Let’s review the Earth-tet’s meteoric rise over the last 10 or so days: Ted Nugent, Taylor Swift, and now perhaps Long Island’s biggest rock legend, and the one with the most ex-wives and motorcycles. How did I bag Mr. Joel, you might ask? Not only did I satisfy his itch for association with a jazz master, but I’m a fellow Long Islander, which struck a huge chord with him. From mall shopping back when people didn’t know what malls were, to catching bluefish and cutting one’s feet on mussel shells, ordering ham sandwiches at the deli, gulping down 7-11 Slurpies, listening to Zebra on a Walkman while fantasizing about the Italian girl next door, hittin’ the arcade and then the Coram multiplex before ending up at a Sound-side campfire making out with the girl who was supposedly dating the captain of the lacrosse team, being a Long Guylander provides a bond that doesn’t fade easily. Not nearly as easily as we’d like it to.
Long Island might be our launching pad to Europe, or South America.
Lookout, and thanks for reading.
(Oh, crap, I totally forgot to say where the Long Island gig is. I don’t know yet, but possibly Nassau Coliseum (if that still exists) and possibly Jones Beach. If at Jones Beach, we’ll tell you where on the beach soon. We’re lobbying hard for a spot near where the ice cream truck comes.)
First of all, thanks to all of you who came to yesterday’s Smart Cafe brunch gig featuring me, Taylor Swift, and the gang. With the exception of the one guy (you know who you are) who demeaned Taylor with heckles and cat-calls owing, presumably, to his own insecurities*, you guys were great and we couldn’t have felt more warmly received. To all of you who had to stand in general admission, and particularly to those for whom there was no room whatsoever, we salute you for your efforts and, next time, we’ll suggest to management that they put an extra table by the kale bin: 20 fans should be able to comfortably soak up the funky goodness we throw down.
Not that I expect there to be a next time. As you’ve heard me say in earlier posts, the Earth-tet’s mission is to climb steadily though a succession of bigger and more illustrious venues, until new venues have to be built to support our fan base.
We are off to a good start.
Just think about the fact that yesterday morning, for the first time ever, sizzling hot jazz-funk-fusion was melded with leg kicks and other maneuvers not normally associated with the genre. Sure, we had the benefit of a pop icon fronting the band, but I’m not so sure she stole the show. If I do say so myself, I lent a certain gravitas to Taylor’s enjoyable but somewhat whimsical compositions. And the coolest thing is that even her most die-hard, teeny-bopper-ish fans seemed to get it: I’d say at least a third of the audience (the table of 6 by the bathroom) were teenage girls, and yet when I broke into chromatic, jazz-rock flights of fancy in between Taylor’s verses, they didn’t all immediately start texting. The texting happened more in a wave, and there’s no way to know they weren’t texting their friends about how I was blending blues, rock and jazz within individual licks, many of them delivered as part of a call-and-response with Taylor’s more arresting lines. I distinctly remember three standout moments in this vein: 1) “It feels like a perfect night to dress up as hipsters, and make fun of our exes …,” to which I replied with a country/suburban major pentatonic lick that, I’m pretty sure, translated as, “Yeah sister” 2) “And the story of us looks a lot like a tragedy now, ” to which I sexily bent a high F# to an A, with a vibrato that went from sultry to wicked fast in well under a second; and 3) “But I got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name,” to which I handed her a giant inflatable pen.
So we have two more gigs coming up in Nyack, both surprises that I can’t comment on. Done. Moving on.
Looking ahead to the next rung in the ladder, beware of a seriously big Long Island gig later this July with Billy Joel.
Yes, him. I asked. He said yes. I can work magic. More soon. Thanks for checking in!
*You/he (heckler at the gig) apparently didn’t recognize that Taylor has been doing her jazz homework and was bending notes and adding chromatic passing tones, to create a more organic and free-spirited sound. If you are still resistant, you little shit, meet me in Memorial park next Wed at 3pm and let’s see if you can sing a whole-tone scale while doing a split and twirling a microphone. And looking hot. I think you already know the answer.
Hello understandably excited fans, who are probably keenly aware that in about 4,380 minutes from the time I’m writing this sentence, the Earth-tet with super-special guest, Taylor Swift, will be making brunch gig history in Nyack. How are you?
You probably don’t need reminding that we’ll be at the coolest kale-themed eatery in town, Smart Cafe, on the corner of N. Broadway and Oohahi St. Bleeding heart types take comfort: all of the animals whose meat is served at Smart Cafe are kale-fed and spend most of their lives running freely in kale fields. Then they spend a few minutes being murdered.
Before proceeding further, let me say a few things about the rest of the core Earth-tet, lest they feel overshadowed by the biggest pop star in the world. You’ll remember that Janice Tubman and Cedric Fritz were research assistants at M.I.T. and joined the band against my advice. It’s not that they aren’t smokin’ hot players (bass and drums respectively), and it’s not that I thought they were imperiling their earning potential, for I’m confident Earth-tet is going to rake in millions once we move from brunch gigs to larger venues (I wouldn’t be surprised if, within a year or two, they have to build new venues just to accommodate the unprecedented throngs that will be irresistibly drawn to our hot funky awesomeness – I could see a 2-million seat arena in Dubai, on a freshly made island, or maybe even somehow hovering over the ocean.). We’re gonna make a lot of fucking money. But that’s not the point. The point is to serve you, the people, with astoundingly delicious, sophisticated and nourishing jazz-funk-rock-pop music with fabulously famous guests.
No, the reason I pleaded with Janice and Cedric to keep their jobs is that they were assisting earth scientist, Dr. Ivana Vakov, with groundbreaking research that one day promised to rid the atmosphere of excess carbon dioxide, using colonies of giant, genetically-engineered carbon-sucking jellyfish in combination with an array of balloons and vacuum tubes. Dr Vakov is brilliant and in 1976 won the Nobel prize for proving that the earth is hard on the surface, but much more chewy in the center. But now she is 96-years old and demented, and no one at M.I.T. saw her work as anything other than the delusions of dying genius. But Janice and Cedric were convinced that, with modest design changes, the technique could be used to at least make parts of New Jersey smell better. They alone knew the secrets behind it all, and I wanted them to bring the plan to fruition, cuz I plan on having giant outdoor gigs in New Jersey, and I don’t want it to smell bad. Bad smells interfere with my musical thought process and my licks don’t sound quite as hot.
But, alas, Janice and Cedric found the Earth-tet allure even more alluring than the allure of cleaning the earth, and who can blame them. We’d been jamming periodically and things were sounding great. When I told them a friend of a friend knew a friend of Ted Nugent and apparently Ted was looking for opportunities to expand his musical horizons, they insisted on leaving M.I.T. immediately and helping secure a session with the gun-slinging rock hero. Within a week they succeeded. The session went great, and we booked our first gig, at the Flo-Flo-Kus Mall in Paramus, NJ. But then things went sour (see June 28 bulletin).
But then, as described in the June 28 report, the wonderful Taylor Swift came into the Earth-tet’s life, and the rest will be history.
Rehearsals for Sunday’s gig (first of 3 Nyack shows) are going great, although Taylor has to participate via Face Time. I can tell she’s been doing her homework – I’m hearing more jazz in her vocals, and even hints of the diminished scale and other fancy tonalities in her improvised scats, so thanks for rocking it Taylor, you are the best! BFF!! I can’t believe I just said BFF to Taylor Swift. This is crazy.
For my part, I’ve been learning a bunch of her songs, and I even have little acting parts, like playing the bad guy in “Mean.” Janice and Cedric play it straight, which is fine cuz I’ve got my performance chops work cut out for me just competing with Taylor, who is a real firecracker. It’s a little hard to see on Face Time, but she’s teaching me some good leg kicks and other moves, even some that we do in tandem. I’m hoping she’ll agree to sit on my shoulders for one tune, but I haven’t mustered the nerve to ask her yet. I’ve only known her for a few weeks. It’s all happening so fast. Geez this is exciting.
So, I’ll see you all at Smart Cafe in three days. The next two Nyack shows will be much less brunchy – rather surprise, “pop-up” affairs in public spaces, so be on the lookout. If we don’t blow the roofs off many of Nyack’s houses and buildings, at least we’re going to loosen some shingles. I’m still working out permits, etc, with the town, but expect fireworks, dancers, giant projection screens, enormous puppets, etc. It’s gonna be fun.
Be well, be happy, and be safe out there (from the sun, potholes, hackers, cyclists, ISIS, carbon dioxide molecules, and all those other lurking dangers). Most of all, figure out what you’re gonna wear, and the Earth-tet will see you eating kale-fed bacon and eggs of pampered chickens Sunday!
Greetings fans. I could not be more proud to debut my new band, the Joel Newton Earth-tet, at Smart Cafe in Nyack, NY, this Sunday, July 5th, from 11am to 1:15 pm. This brunch gig will be particularly special because FUCKING TAYLOR SWIFT will be a guest performer with the band. Sorry, all-caps and expletive called for when someone like Taylor Swift is in my band. Italics too. FUCKING TAYLOR SWIFT!!!!!! You take all the exclamation points you want. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Taylor, for agreeing to do this. I will not let you down.
So, if you read my last report, you’ll know how Taylor came tumbling into my life, just after Ted Nugent went stumbling out of it. The union played out almost like a cheesy romance, but, as I made clear previously, there is no sexual or romantic interest on either of our parts. I’m a dedicated husband and father, and I’m sufficiently older than Taylor that Woody Allen wouldn’t even approve of an intimate coupling. Unless maybe he could be part of it.
No, the passion that runs between us is a passion of shared musical love. She loves my hot jazz-rock-fusion guitar licks and rhythm patterns, and I love her perky voice and (relative) innocence. Yes, she’s become a mega pop star and is a little harder-edged of late, but you know her heart is still in the South, lamenting soured relationships with sweet vulnerability and adolescent humor.
To bridge the admitted gulf between our styles and create a compelling joint musical product, we’ve decided on the following formula: half the set will feature my instrumental pieces, with Taylor playing rhythm guitar and occasionally humming or scatting melodic parts; a quarter of the set will be spirited interpretations of classic show tunes; and the last quarter will be … you know you want it … a selection of Taylor’s own precious ditties. She wants to keep her selection a surprise, but did agree to disclose one choice: “22,” funky-style, with an expanded middle section open to instrumental improvisation. (Shhh … I haven’t told her, and don’t plan to, that we will apply Giant Steps chord changes to the chorus. I hope it doesn’t clash with the vocal melody. If it does, fuck it, it’s only Nyack. Just kidding, Nyack 🙂
Nyack rocks, and the Smart Cafe seemed like the perfect place to start our 3-hit run in the quaint, Hudson-hugging town. Smart Cafe attracts not only Nyack’s hip, but also its crunchy, intellectual, progressive, artsy, finger-on-the-pulse kind of people. Think Brooklyn, with touches of Portland and Seattle, and trace amounts of Paramus, Akron, Paris, Long Island, Phoenix, East Phoenix, and West Phoenix. You’ll see beards there, and bra-less women in flowing summer dresses, and men wearing nothing but shorts and bras, and unvaccinated children, and old people unabashedly saying “fuck” and “shit,” and Muslims, and Jews, and skateboarders, and lip-to-ear piercers, and lots and lots of certified yoga instructors. Best of all, if you buy a ticket to our brunch show, you get a complimentary gluten-free banana-kale muffin. Tickets are only $2, so it’s a great savings.
Get ready to ROCK, Nyack. Me ‘n’ Taylor gonna fuck y’all up!