Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mirror In The Bathroom: Is It All Vanity?

You may have noticed in the melodic musings of mine that I often post a picture of myself that I took in the bathroom at the back of some seedy bar, club or musical venue. Many people have asked me why I do that, so I feel a strong urge to explain myself to you, as posing in the bathroom mirror of bars and clubs all over the San Francisco Bay Area may seem a little strange to most normal folks. Not to mention posting them on the Internet for all to see, my mother would freak!

For some unknown reason, I am able to see the romanticism in the common bathroom. Yes, it’s a trait I carry with pride. Bathrooms are a place of deep intimacy, secrets and finality and they have been ingrained into the history of music as a room to be worshiped.

My bathroom Self Portraits all started at Peri’s Silver Dollar, the bar in Marin that has some of the most amazing d├ęcor in both the men’s and woman’s restrooms. As I was washing my hand like a good girl, I got a bud in my bean stock and felt the need to take a photo of myself in the mirror to send to a friend. It turned out pretty cool. As the door opened and the music came in, I got the idea of how bathrooms have a tendency of playing crucial roles in the history and legends of rock and roll music.

So, my excuse for my exhibitionistic photos? I write about music and I want you to know who I am, so I take photos in the bathroom. It’s all, like, interconnected, ya know?

While I am at it, why don’t I throw some interesting Bathroom and Rock History facts at you.

There are, of course, the folks who have died in the bathroom: Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley and Judy Garland. It seems like a hard-lived life destroyed all 3 of these talented performers while in the throes of being truly human.

Canadian rocker’s “Bare Naked Ladies” and blast-from-the-past Captain Beefheart are folks who have recorded songs or even whole albums in a bathroom, and my Web search tells me there is even a band called “The Bathroom Choir” that I feel I must now find out more info on. When I typed in “bathroom songs”, over 7 million entries came up. Also in my research I found all kinds of plans and tips for building your own personal recording studio in your bathroom, they do have amazing acoustics.

Dare I even go into the sordid, sinful and decadent treats that most musicians are offered in the bathrooms of clubs, bars and concert halls? I think Jimi Hendrix “met” one of his main groupies in the men’s bathroom stall after one of his early shows. Just what was she doing in the Men’s bathroom, I wonder…?

For me, bathrooms and Rock-n-Roll go hand and hand. They are dirty, grungy & sexy-in-bad-girl-way. The drama, the passion, the lies, the truth get expressed in song and tile.

Moonmama LOVES YOU!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Note On Peace Through Music: Luvplanet

Nestled into the golden hills of 
Northern California, in the quaint Sonoma County town of Penngrove there dwells a band that is inspired by the truth of music and the heart-opening power of creation.  Through a collaboration of spirit and sound comes the band Luvplanet.

Luvplanet takes the concept of positivity and whips it into music.  That music, which consists of a dash of folk, a pinch of jam-band and a heaping serving of rock not only uplifts our souls but also allows us to thoroughly enjoy a veritable festival of hard rocking joy. 

When one ponders bands that are all about peace, love and all-that-hippie-stuff, one may become judgmental and begin to think that band is just a bunch of wacked-out softies playing acoustic guitar in some field of daisies. That is certainly not the case with Luvplanet.  Luvplanet proves that one can rock hard and be open hearted with the world all at the same time.

In 2003, songstress Nicole Sutton and Allman Brother’s guitarist Mark McGee formed Luvplanet with fellow Musical Travelers bassist Tommy Sisco and Drummer Scott McKenzie with the creation of their self titled debut CD, Luvplanet. With this wonderful first disk Nicole Sutton and Mark McGee’s songwriting magic and vocal harmonies are showcased as well as Marks’s free-for-all guitar style. “My favorite thing about playing in Luvplanet is that I have complete musical freedom.”  States mark McGee, “Variety is the spice of life, especially with music.”

With 2 subsequent disks under their guitar straps, State of Mind (2005) and Lucky One (2008), the music never seemed to stop for Luvplanet and the band became more and more solid in its live performances, musical connections between each member of the band as well as their over all professionalism.

“Playing in Luvplanet consists of 4 individuals looking together in the same direction. Achieving that with one person is rare enough, but to have that happen with all of us - magical.  Nicole, Mark and Scott are my musical everything!”  States the Zen bassist Tommy Sisco.

The band takes it’s postivity seriously, often smiling and laughing while singing songs about relationships gone good, deep friendships and being at peace in this tumultuous world all without sounding soppy, contrived or wimpy. Powerhouse vocalist Nicole Sutton uses her songwriting skills to manufacture dreams of a reality based on one’s truth and an open heart while communicating a trust in herself that shows her confidence as a strong front woman.

“Music saves my soul.” Says the super cool beauty that is Nicole Sutton. “It reflects our society and our world and the collective conscience, just as all art does, and it helps us process what we are experiencing here and now so that we may continue to grow.” Nicole states that her true course with Luvplanet is “being able to bring life to songs and share them with others”

With the 2010 release of their 4th CD, Luvolution  Luvplanet will continue to support the Positive Bent In Life through hard driving, guitar-based music. Sharing the love via your sound is a good way to go with your band. “Music is that which gives my soul life. It moves it, grooves it, spins it all around and it's my goal in life to share that with as many people as possible,” is how Tommy Sisco lays it down.  States Mark McGee of Music and Luvplanet, “It's medicine. It's like a drug and I am addicted.”

All Photos of Luvplanet by MOONMAMA!
and Moonmama kicks up her boots to y'all!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Portrait Of An Acrylic Rock Star: Neal Barbosa

Neal painting with Big Sam's Funky Nation
Neal with Cast of Clowns
The crowd cheers as the musicians take their place on the stage. The lights dim…. BAM! There’s the beat of the drums followed by the THUMP! of a bass, and finally the moans and groans of the human voice as a cacophony of sound floods the room. On the sideline, a new breed of “Rock Star” takes his place and ignites his creative fire. His instruments are not the customary rock star tools, oh no. His instruments are not purchased at Bananas at Large or Guitar Center.  To find this man’s creative instruments you’d be better off visiting an art supply store, for his tools include paint, brushes and canvas.  This man’s name is Neal Barbosa and he paints like a madman amid the flood of sound coming from the stage as live music is his muse.

“There is an interchange of creativity onstage,” says Neal of his place with the bands. “Some musicians have told me that they have done the same song over and over but were inspired to put a creative twist on the song in the moment after they look over and see how every note flowed through my arms to my hands and is then transformed through the paintbrush onto the canvas.”
Neal painting at Hopmonk Tavern
Hailing from Southern California and now residing in Sonoma County, Neal is a man who takes his art seriously. Beginning at 9, he started to explore sketching and drawing as a method of express his creativity. By 16 he was painting. Over the years he has utilized music and the art of Stanley Mouse to inspire his style and love of the acrylics. Of his friendship with Stanley Mouse, “I have kinda gone off in my own direction and developed my own unique style, however Stanley has inspired me to do some nude figure drawing and painting from nude models posing. Our relationship mostly revolves around art and projects and painting live when there is music around. I recently invited Stanley to paint at the Fillmore in SF and he invited me to show some of my art at The Rockin’ Roses Gallery in Healdsburg.
Painted with Gabby LaLa

With many drastic changes in the music industry has changed over the years, there are no longer behemoth music companies churning out records and creating over-hyped stars of little talent. More and more bands are touring much of the year and gigging at large events or festivals to make a living and get their name and music out to the masses. Along these lines, musical events and gigs are becoming more vibrant and vaudeville-like than ever before. Bands or venues are taking things to a new level of spectacle where performance artists, fire dancers, jugglers and costumed characters often participate in the performance with the musicians.

Neal Barbosa has taken this multi-tiered approach to entertainment and used his talent as part of a whole new wave of true performance art.  He is ready to take his inspirational talent to a new level in the face of the ever-changing music business. Through guerilla marketing, hard networking and shameless self-promotion (is any self-promotion really shameless anymore?) via social networking sites and D-I-Y online art galleries, he has sold his art and achieved notice for his name.

There are many events in Neal’s life that are destined to make him a star. Neal is the subject of a documentary film being made about his painting and his live performances onstage. He has traveled to LA & Finland to be a part of the filming of “Acrylic Groove” with is pal, filmmaker Steve Gatlin.  Weaving interviews and film footage of his Live Painter performances over the last 5 years with bands such as LA’s Shiny Toy Guns as well as Les Claypool, Neal is thrilled about the spotlight on his work, “Its exiting for me because this is what I dreamed of in order to share the experience of Live Painting with the everyone, as well as to inspire young and old to create and maybe work up the boldness to express themselves for the whole world to enjoy”
Painted at The Artista Gang's JoyFest

His talent as a performance painter has grabbed the notice of many national musical acts and he has recently painted live with Richard Thompson at the famed Fillmore in San Francisco, Cast of Clowns as well as Big Sam's Funky nation. He has
ongoing weekly stints at Sebastopol’s The Hopmonk Tavern’s DJ Party “The Juke Joint” and summer weekends jamming outside at Lagunitas Brewery to some of NorCal’s favorite bands, Neal Barbosa is honing his Live Painter chops to better groove with the bands he loves. 

He has and impressive resume of coveted gigs with high profile bands such as the punk/jazz trio The Dead Kenny G’s (“this is exactly the kind of music I love to paint to. Nothing boring about them and they are the most  accomplished musicians I have ever heard or will ever hear in my whole life or will ever paint to again”), goofball rockers Forrest Day (“Unforgettable really! I was relating with their songs and never wanting to set my paint brushes down during any song.”) and The Red Paintings from Australia (“I went on a small tour with them and it was so great to paint to, man what talent! Full-on theatrical experience, octopus costumes, Japanese garb, cello player, violin, guitar, bass, piano, ray guns, live body painters, live performance painter, and some awe inspiring music!”).

Painted during The Red Paintings 2008 Tour
Finding something that works with one’s creativity is an amazing feat. Neal Barbosa takes his desire to paint and makes it more than the sum of it’s creative parts. “I'm still learning all the time how to work with musicians on stage and what not to do when in front of the audience and the camera. But I love it, its like being in an artistic bubble.  Some times I am channeling what the musicians are doing or singing about and it just flows through my arms and out my paint brushes, kinda like when I’m making love. I’m totally in the moment enjoying every second, every drop of pleasure and forgetting about everything,  just creating totally in the moment like a butterfly flying through the brisk smooth clean air during sunrise near the ocean on a late winter morning. With out a care in the world.”

Painted during Used Blues Band
From Dirty Dozen Brass Band gig
Painted during John Mooney

Painted during Floydian Slip