We haven’t played any r&r shows lately. Still in “lockdown” mode. All of our playing has been either in the kitchen, or if we are playing with bandmates, in the great outdoors. Quick-hit get togethers. A few musicians, masked, physically-distant, unplugged. Funny. Some of our natural anti-social tendencies are actually now survival strategies.

There is something so elemental about playing outdoors. A totally pure, totally human, acoustic performance. Guitar, shakers, voices, raw, unfiltered. No microphones, no amps, no electricity, except the electricity running through the cells of our bodies.

The essence. Pure performance. Probably goes all the way back to cave-man/cave-woman days.

WWSP trio nearly got “busted” on July 25 for playing “folk-rock” on the porch at Dawes House. The caretaker lady told us we were on “private property” and we had to move. WTF. I mean, what was the “crime?” Corrupting nature with our WWSP folky vibes?

We will not backdown.

We will be back, to Dawes, and hopefully, a park near you too. Who knows? There is something so rewarding about playing music to the trees, the grasses, the wind, the sky, the sun, the squirrels, rabbits, cicadas, and oh yeah, the passing strangers. No money will exchange hands, but really, we have never been in it for the money. I mean, sure, money is nice, but really, playing is the thing. – Jammer

Playing music to a camera doesn’t do it. It’s really does need to be live, in the moment. Yesterday we had the chance to meet in the little “village green,” wearing masks, six-feet apart, social-distancing, sitting under shady trees, with a big, blue sky looming overhead. We played some brand-new songs. Two guitars, a violin, voices, percussion. It was so fun, thrilling, satisfying, life-affirming. Soul work.

Our last rock show was at Martyrs’ in January 2020. This was our first get-together since the lockdown. 4/7ths of our band making music together. Music has been the savior in this time of pandemic, of trauma, toxic leadership and social unrest. Creating, composing, playing, listening, thinking, dreaming, music.

The hardest cut has been not being able to make music with our band. We can play at home, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, one guitar, two voices, a bit of percussion. But we truly, madly, deeply miss playing music with our wonderful band of musicians. There is nothing quite like sitting in a circle, a group of musicians, listening, communicating, creating new music together.

The best kind of soul work imaginable.

The a.m soundtrack – Kings Go Forth – “The Outsiders are Back” – (2010). Sounds like a throw-back to another era. Late 60’s or early 70’s soul. A ten-piece band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sounds like it was recorded on tape, vintage analog gear, all the musicians in the room together, making it happen, in the moment. Maybe “old-fashioned,” but it’s the good stuff, the right stuff, the soul stuff, done supremely well. I “discovered” this one via Greg Kot of Sound Opinions. I look to music “critics” not so much to hear their “criticism,” but to hear what they may be enthused about. This record and is a great, rare find. A fabulous band and sound. – Jammer

Aerial Photo: Mary Mrugalski

The Lovely Carla and I are taking shelter at home. “Social-Distancing” is the order of the day. The highlight of every day is pretty simple: socially-distant walks on the lakefront. It is always invigorating to walk to the lake and watch the waves crashing in. Every day the lake is different. Sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes a churning, raging beast. It’s everything in between too.

Turns out Spring is happening all around us. Green shoots coming up thru black dirt, buds on the trees, birds busy doing their busy birdy things. Each day, so far, we have spent time basking in the healing rays of the sun.

Everything seems normal out in nature. Still, we know the virus is out there. Most folks around here are doing an excellent job of distancing themselves. Lots of knowing glances and nods of the head from folks passing by from a distance. Everyone is being serious and responsible.

At home, it’s all about music. Playing music in the kitchen, two voices, an acoustic guitar, various shakers and bells. Playing old songs, and new songs. It’s been super-gratifying.

We also of course are playing all kinds of CDs on the BOSE Music System. Positive Vibes flowing thru the air.

We do tune into the radio once in awhile to catch the latest news. We have been listening to our Governor give his daily Coronavirus Update. We voted for Pritzker. He seemed light-years better than the alternative, but frankly we didn’t have high hopes for him and his term in office.

We have been surprised at how good Pritzker has been so far in this crisis. He seems in command of the situation, listening to the experts & scientists. He is not making crazy promises. He is taking responsibility, he has marshaled forces to try to tackle the problem. He comes across as a common-sense problem solver. He has been a reassuring voice. Surprising. Who knew he would rise to the occasion? Who knew someone in power would show compassion and care? Pritzker: “You should not have to choose between your life and your livelihood.” Makes sense. Life comes first.

The a.m. soundtrack – The Zombies’ “Odessey & Oracle”  (1968). Recorded at Abbey Road and Olympic studios in 1967. Exuberant, British Psychedelia. A joyful blast of catchy, perfectly-realized Pop. Gorgeous harmonies. Fabulous musicianship. It stands up to anything else from that era. The band dissolved when the record was released and the first two singles sunk without a trace. “To this day it remains a word-of-mouth obscurity.” Later  the single “Time of the Season” became a major hit. Still this record is much more than one single. Sounds so fresh. A breath of fresh air. A major work that can go toe to toe with albums from The Beatles and Pink Floyd released around the same time. Zombies! During the Apocalypse! Really. No kidding! – Jammer

The Revolution is Here. NOW!

It came to us via a nasty viral entity. The virus went viral, and everything changed.  One of my favorite maxims: “A Change of Consciousness Can Happen in An Instant.” Turns out that when folks realized that a nasty viral entity was now everywhere on our little spinning blue planet, a Change of Consciousness was instantly the coin of the realm.

What did the new Revolution teach us?

Borders and walls are meaningless. Nations and Governments are only valid and relevant if they can take care of people! Guns, ammo, bullets are totally irrelevant.

Race & class are beside the point. The color of your skin is irrelevant. Your investment portfolio is irrelevant and shrinking.

Biology and Science are pushed to the forefront. Turns out facts, data, & reality really do count. Political spin, lies, propaganda, disinformation evaporate in the face of the cold hard reality of disease.

We are (as the Dalai Lama always told us), Human Beings First. We are all the same. We are all connected, via invisible strings. We are all responsible to each other. We all have a responsibility to care for ourselves, for our planet, our environment, and for each other.

Turns out Capitalism is a figment of our imaginations. We really can print up money and give it to everyone. No one need go without, no one need be left behind, no one need go hungry, no one need to lack a safe place to shelter. No one need be denied quality healthcare. 

We are not in a competition with each other, we are engaged in a vast interdependent cooperation agreement with each other.

We are all safe and healthy if and when we are all safe and healthy.

Most of us are “non-essential personnel.” Maybe only essential to ourselves and our loved ones.

Essential Personnel = First-responders, Nurses, Doctors, Care-givers, Teachers, Health-Care workers, Scientists. These are the essential ones. These are the ones we turn to for help, for counsel, for care.

We can live with less, and in a more sustainable way. We can live more responsibly. Instead of mindless consumption, mindful contemplation.

THE REVOLUTION IS HERE. NOW.

The a.m. soundtrack – King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King.”  I guess I have “progressive” politics on my mind. Makes me think of the great “progressive” rock of King Crimson. The brain-child of Robert Fripp, one of the great British guitarists. This record takes you to another land, far away. Exquisite musicianship; the players venture into the furthest reaches of virtuosity. The opening track gets a bit frenetic, & “schizoid, the rest of the album sort of washes over you with softer, mellower vibes. Greg Lake has such a fabulous voice; it’s all rounded & grounded tones. “I talk to the wind…” Excellent record. As they say, “a classic.” Jammer

Cover Art by Raymond Pettibon

Biology. It is a Hard Master.

Cells. Dividing. Multiplying. RNA. DNA. Enzymes. Proteins. Hostile Viral Entities.

We sometimes forget, or try to forget where we came from. Sperm and Egg meet. There is a process. A Trajectory of Life. It is all beyond our control. We emerge from the process, and are carried along by the process.

Born. Live. Die. Life & Death; two sides of the same coin. The Coin of the Realm.

We sometimes take good health for granted: These eyes, these ears, these limbs, these organs, all our fingers and toes, our beloved brains, all working together; an elaborate, collaborative team.

We think we are the world. We reflect and mirror the world. Everything we can imagine, everything we experience,  everything that we do, or don’t do, fills up our days.

Biology. It is a hard master.

The a.m. soundtrack – Black Flag’s “The Process of Weeding Out.” (1985). Pretty sure I purchased this CD in the late 80’s because of the cover. That horned-being behind the microscope piqued my curiosity. The word “Instrumental” on the cover was intriguing & appealing too. I had no idea what to expect. It is a hard, stripped down sound. Guitar, bass, drums. No frills. Basically an EP: 26 minutes, 28 seconds. Avant garde jazzy, crossed with elemental r&r fire. I mean, I am just grasping for words. Hard, spiky, wiry, a bit elastic. It is unlike any other record. Militant. Black Flag. A hard master too. – Jammer

The global pandemic. It dominates the news. It is everywhere. Reports this morning tell us that Covid-19 is in our town, it’s in D.C., it’s in every state of the Union. It is already in a theater near you.

It is definitely a blockbuster. An unwelcome blockbuster.  Yesterday afternoon we listened to a Global Pandemic Expert talking on the radio. She was totally pissed off, and alarmed, and alarming. I won’t repeat her dire warnings, but let’s just say they were extremely, extremely dire. I am not one for panicking, but a little flame of panic rose up in my being.

I think the source of her “pissed-off-ness” is that we all should have been much better prepared for this inevitable event. The experts have known that a global pandemic like this was coming for a long time and we could have, no, scratch that, we should have been well-prepared for it.

We aren’t. And our Toxic Clown President has been pretty clueless and toxic throughout the unfolding crisis. Every time he opens his mouth more stupidity and disinformation pours out. You couldn’t have picked a worse, less qualified, supremely incapable person to be at the head of our government. Yikes. We have a crisis of leadership too.

This morning, what do do? Trying to “act normal.” Find a level of normalcy. What is normal? It’s pretty much an illusion, a bubble, but we are doing our best not to panic, not to go too dark, not to be too discouraged.

We hear on the radio that tonight the Spring Equinox will arrive! Spring is coming! There will be new roots, new flowers, new life. Birds, bees, buds on the trees. Remember to smile, to laugh, to dream.

The morning soundtrack – The Kink’s “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” (1968). So British. Ray Davies at his quirky, graceful, witty best. Ray called it “the most successful ever flop.” It is a magnificent flop.  A brilliant record: “I miss the village green, and all the simple people” – Ray Davies. Yes, a look back to simpler, greener times. Trying to hold onto a grace, intelligence, innocence. Maybe it’s only alive in our hearts and heads. That will have to do. This one makes me smile every time I spin it on the box. – Jammer

“Keep Calm, Carry On” – “Commonly featured on posters, clothing, novelty items, and internet memes, keep calm and carry on is a popular slogan calling for persistence in the face of challenge. It was first used on a British propaganda poster during World War II but now enjoys general currency as an expression of resilience.”

Right. You know, that “stiff upper lip” idea might come in handy right about now.

Latest word is this coronavirus is gonna alter our lives for a long time. Social Distancing. Isolation. Quarantine. Lockdown. For many of us, our lives are going to get very small and circumscribed.

The Federal Reserve is printing up money. Word is they will be flooding the economic system with “Trillions of Dollars.” A reminder that money is a fungible, abstract thing that we all live and die by. It’s not “real,” or only as real as we imagine it to be. The Fed can just conjure up money. Add a bunch of 0’s to a sum. Pretty much creating something out of thin air. Something from nothing?! Who ever said it couldn’t be done?

Personally, I think the hardest cut is no live shows for our band for the foreseeable future. It is something that we lived for, a driving imperative. Every day. Where do we play next, when is the next show, what songs will we do, I wonder who will show up?

All that has vanished. Sometimes the show just won’t go on. You find out pretty quickly what is essential, and what is not essential. The essential list is pretty compact: survive, stay well, eat, sleep, dream, keep yourself occupied.

What’s important? Breathe.

The a.m. soundtrack – Dead Can Dance’s “Aion” (1990). Medieval. The album cover is a detail from a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. Sets the tone.  Music from the 14th, 16th & 17th century.  Lisa Gerrard’s voice is an incredibly beautiful, expressive instrument. The music is otherworldly, sacred. It’s not r&r. Instruments include the hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, an array of percussion instruments, strings, keyboards. Some of these songs sound absolutely sacred to my ears. You think of plague, and dark times, and voices, naked, human voices reaching up to the heavens, beseeching, praying, wondering. Life, it is a mystery. – Jammer

This morning, I was telling the Lovely Carla about the book I’ve been reading. She said, “Why don’t you write a r&r diary post about it?” Okay. Here we go…

I’m pretty confident when I say you won’t hear any Reggae influences in whitewolfsonicprincess’ music. We may often have a bit of a groove, or rhythm thing going, but it’s pretty much, decidedly not, Reggae.

At the same, I’m also pretty confident when I say the spirit of Bob Marley and his music, is very much embedded and embodied in the way the Lovely Carla and I approach our music and song-writing. Marley’s example of writing socially-conscious, spirit & soul-based music is very much part of our musical DNA.

What are we saying?” Is a burning question that is always very much top of mind for us.

Marley was an amazing boundary-crosser, part black, part white, from one the toughest, poorest neighborhoods on the planet. A Rastafarian from a majority-Christian nation. Blazingly original. Amazingly, improbably, he became a global, musical Superstar.

We own all of the Bob Marley & the Wailers records from “Catch a Fire” (1973) – “Confrontation” (1983). We still play these records all these many years later. These albums and grooves never grow old. They are still, and always, inspiring & relevant.

Anyway, I love to read. It’s sort of a superpower. The human imagination too, it’s a superpower we can all call upon. Time-traveling, head-tripping. Just a page away.

The last week or so, I have been living in Jamaica 1976. Reading Marlon James’ fabulous novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” (2014). I am nearly 200 pages into the novel (total pages 688), and already, I am hoping it never ends. The story is told by 75 different characters. Amazing book. “The Singer” (Bob Marley) and his music hovers over the whole thing, the early action all revolves around him too.

Bob Marley. He still seems alive as you or I. Alive in the grooves for sure.

Jammer

Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth;
Tell the children the truth right now!
Come on and tell the children the truth

Bob Marley – Babylon System

whitewolfsonicprincess @ Martyrs’ 01.15.20

If you saw us at our first show of 2020 at the legendary rock-club Martyrs’ on Wednesday, January 15, opening for Baby No Name and Ovadya, you probably had no idea that this show almost didn’t happen for us.

Turns out, a freak accident at our last show of 2019, left the Lovely Carla, our dynamic force-field of a lead singer, and “energy-feeler” of the band, nursing cracked ribs. Think: soulful bear-hug gone wrong. Sometimes too much love, is just too much love.

So, before the show, chilling at home, listening to Dylan’s “Oh Mercy” on the stereo, Carla was laid-out on the floor, dressed, ready to go, but wondering if she could even stand up, much less perform a full WWSP set.

“I’m not sure I can do it, Jammer.”

Dylan was singing “Everything is Broken”

“Broken lines, broken strings, Broken threads, broken springs, Broken idols, broken heads, People sleeping in broken beds. Ain’t no use jiving, ain’t no use joking, Everything is broken…”

And then, Carla, rousing herself to rise up: “We should cover this song. Can you imagine our band doing this one?”

Maybe that idea broke the spell. The Lovely Carla, got up, put on her faux-fur boots, & her faux-fur hat. She got it together. We packed up our stuff (implements of percussion & guitars), and headed out to Martyrs’.

How’d did go? Brilliantly. It’s funny, Carla channeled the pain and discomfort into a powerful, focused, performance. Maybe a wince here and there, but smiles, energy, & fire carried the night.

The best post-show comment from an audience member: “You guys we on fire!” Hah. Funny. We were happy to make it thru. Maybe it’s true, everything is broken, but you know maybe we can just hold the pieces together and carry on. Damn the torpedoes, I mean, yes, we can. – Jammer

Poster by Milton Glaser

“If my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.” – Bob Dylan

We once submitted to play at a “psychedelic festival.” A festival of psychedelic bands. We were rejected for not being psychedelic enough.

What is psychedelic? “A mental state characterized by a profound sense of intensified sensory perception, sometimes accompanied by severe perceptual distortion and hallucinations and by extreme feelings of either euphoria or despair.

Shite, man. Extreme feelings of euphoria or despair? That’s a typical day around here! I mean, I get it. Maybe when some folks listen to our music they don’t quite hear it. They don’t exactly get what we all embody. In order to protect the innocent and the guilty, I refuse to name names, but our “psychedelic” bone fides are pretty impressive…

One of us used to drop acid and scale mountains just for kicks.

One of us drank psilocybin mushroom tea in Jamaica and saw God. It turns out God is an androgynous, multi-sexual, jet-black, dread-locked, being with a shimmery, rainbow body of dancing colors.

One of us chilled out with and smoked primo-weed (at different times), with both Abbie Hoffman and JFK Jr.

One of us, as a young student in Mexico City, hung out with the great “Illuminatus Trilogy” author Robert Anton Wilson, and dropped LSD with Timothy Leary who at time was a fugitive, on the lam, from the FBI.

Do you hear any of that in our grooves?

I mean, it’s just life. Life-events. Things we did. Life and life only. But you know, everything counts. What we do is embedded in our bodies. What we do. Who we are. Anyway, probably psychedelic enough… – Jammer