Wednesday, July 1, 2020

LIFE HAPPENS: Handle with Care

LIFE HAPPENS
Handle with Care
__________

"Life is what happens to you
while you're busy making
other plans." Although its
origin can be traced back
many generations, the oft
quoted sentiment is credited
typically to John Lennon.
And after decades, these
wise words remain spot-on.
__________

When used effectively, social media can be an amazing tool with which we can connect and re-connect with friends and family in warm and wonderful ways. Just the other day, an item popped up in a feed on one of my preferred platforms from a high school friend. The post revealed her thoughtful recollections of growing up during the '70s in our small Florida beachside community. What first captured my attention was the accompanying photo — her "Class of  '81" yearbook head shot — a young, fresh-faced, brown-eyed, blond beach girl. In an instant, 40 years flashed before my eyes. Simply put, "life happens."

The kids from my teenage crew now are closing in on 60 — which seems absurd to me. And as I poured over her post, and focused on her photo, I experienced something of a "wake up call." She was one of my high school "dream girls" — someone who I cared about, a lot. So, why hadn't I done a better job of keeping in touch with her over the years? Had she ever been married or had kids? Has she achieved her hopes and dreams? I didn't know. All I had was her "then and now" photo and a paragraph. "It's what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

While on my recent book tour, I returned to my childhood hometown, Springfield, Missouri. During my visit, I had coffee one morning with one of my dearest long-time friends — someone who I've known since 1969. As we chatted about life  where we've been and where we've arrived, I looked into her still-crisp green eyes and realized how we clearly no longer were kids. At that moment, I was grateful that we had kept in touch over the years. And while I did have an opportunity to reconnect with several childhood friends during my trip, there are many other kids from my days at Horace Mann Elementary who I may not ever see again. Where are they today? How did their life stories play out? I may never know.

Not too long ago, I reconnected with a fella who had gotten me my first job at a local Florida record store back in 1978. He was the "cool guy" with the ponytail and the pretty girlfriend. At the time, I was 15 and he was 19. At that age, four years is quite a stretch, and I always looked up to him as a "big brother." While sitting out on his back porch reminiscing and bragging on our kids (and his grandkids), I noticed how my buddy's ponytail now had become nearly snow white. Heck, these days, my (remaining) hair is as grey as "Grandpa Gramperton" too — that's why I keep my salon tech's number on speed dial. Soon after, my buddy and his wife relocated to Tennessee. For years, we lived in the same town, but truth be told, I could count on fewer than ten fingers how many times we'd seen each other in the last decade. Now, it's anyone's guess when, or if, we'll ever get to hang out again. "Handle with care."

I always endeavored to be the best dad possible. And as a result, my son and I continue to enjoy an incredible relationship. But it's still rather heartbreaking knowing that he's now living his own life more than a thousand miles away. He grew up so fast  while I was "busy making other plans" with rock stars. What I would give to have just one more magical "little guy" day when we would attend pro sporting events, go on father and son vacations, take in a hot new flick or just run daily errands together.

And who hasn't faced the pain of losing a friend or loved one? The agonizing feeling of "shoulda, woulda, coulda" if there only was more time is a tough cross to bear.

The point to this heartfelt "rabbit trail?" Time is the most valuable currency we have in life. Unlike cash, once those funds are depleted, we can't "deposit" any more — the "account" is "closed." But there's no value in beating ourselves up. What's in the past, is in the past. However, we can do something about the present.

Yes, life is fragile, and more fleeting than we'd like. While we're (still) "busy making other plans," perhaps we should slow down a bit and embrace the people we love most  in the moment. Given today's increasingly volatile cultural landscape, it might also be a good time to chill out just a little and make a NEW friend.

In sum, life happens — handle with care.

-Christopher Long
(July 2020)
__________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

LOVE: Perception vs. Reality

LOVE
Perception vs. Reality
__________

Oddly, during today's
troubled times, there
are a good many folks
spewing the word "love"
a lot. But in reality, we
have to be careful how
we perceive that one.
__________

For the last couple of campaign cycles, I've noticed political puppets positioned prominently on both sides of the partisan fence  all preaching "love." To be honest, I have a tough time receiving anyone's perceived message of "peace" when they're pointing fingers and pounding a podium with spittle splashing off their lips. More recently, "compassionate" people are marching "peacefully" in the streets (some waving Bibles) who also claim to be projecting a similar sentiment (with veins bulging and blood boiling). And then there's the cast of "caring" customers at our local super-centers who currently are quick to offer genuine "concern" (with clenched teeth and tight fists), for either wearing or not wearing proper pandemic facial apparel. 

-Apostle Paul
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
However, some refuse to even "play" the "game." They let ya know just where they stand. Truth be told, I have more respect for the positions of people who possess the balls to be up front and admit openly that they loathe me (or each other), for whatever reason. It's far less insulting (and confusing) than when someone says they "love" me, while showing me something else.

Fun fact — even as Jesus was being beaten (brutally) by the corrupt forces controlling his community, he cried out to God — “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 NLT) That wasn't a perceived message  it was reality. In that concise prayer, Jesus showed "love" by responding to his transgressors with — FORGIVENESS.

-John the Apostle
John 20:30-31 (NLT)
Whether or not you believe Jesus was the Messiah — the Son of God sent to save the World (John 3:17 NLT), he WAS a real guy who lived among the real people of the time. He WAS judged, condemned, beaten (brutally), mocked, spit on, nailed to a "tree" and left for dead. That happened. What didn't happen was Jesus answering with anger or appealing for revenge.

Sadly, many people have been wronged (horrifically) on many levels throughout history. And while I certainly don't make light of anyone's hardships, Jesus, the guy who ONLY offered TRUE kindness and compassion towards others, endured more than anybody — ever. And it's that perfect blueprint, revealed in the red ink found throughout the New Testament that's completely copycat-worthy.

-Apostle Paul
Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
In Matthew 22:37-40, a fella asked Jesus which commandment was the most important. He replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (NLT)

I know what some might say — "Hey, you don't know what 'So and So' did!" That's right, I don't. "You can't understand what I've been through!" No, I probably can't. "You don't know how I've been wronged." Right again. But another harsh reality is, nobody has the market cornered when it comes to pain, suffering and injustice.

-Apostle Paul
Ephesians 4:2-3 (NLT)
Now, if revenge REALLY is the objective, then we should keep on battling each other — that'll show 'em! Conversely, if love TRULY is the motivating force, we gotta offer unconditional FORGIVENESS first (to others AND to ourselvesonly then will social and personal healing begin. ‭‭(Romans 12:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

In sum, people can project a warm and fuzzy perception all day long. But if it ain't coming from a place of FORGIVENESS, in reality, the message is less than authentic. As a result, "love" will simply remain a slippery four-letter word.

-Christopher Long
(June 2020)
__________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

THE DOLLYROTS: My Personal Pandemic Playlist

THE DOLLYROTS
My Personal Pandemic Playlist
__________

Ah, the holidays 2019 — warm
and fuzzy times with friends and
family — time for thoughtful
reflection on the things for which
we're all most thankful — babies
and grannies, sunrises and sun-
sets, sandy beaches and rugged
mountains, Big Red and Little
Debbie, Jesus and Journey. Then
came the new year. Who could
ever have expected the crazed
"E-Ticket" ride we'd experience
in 2020. Social unrest — riots in
the streets and rampant chaos.
And then there's the ongoing
pandemic we've almost forgotten
about — disease, death, doom
and despair. Yet, even in the face
of the impending Apocalypse,
I have discovered an amazing
source of peace and joy.
__________

It was supposed to be a simple business meeting at the home of two of my longtime associates. However, with one of them being (Chuck) the guitarist in my band, and the other being, his wife (May) who heads our merch operation, they knew me and my personal weakness — my penchant, my unbridled passion for happy and snappy, crunchy and punchy punk-fused power pop. And in short order, our business meeting took an unscheduled detour.

"Hey, let's watch the Dollyrots," May suggested with a playful grin. Chuck agreed in a similar fashion. They knew darn well what they were doing. And it was a pretty sneaky move — like waving a tray of Peruvian blow under Steven Tyler's nose.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll will confess openly that while I'd certainly been aware of the bi-coastal U.S. duo for nearly 20 years, they'd never popped up prominently on my personal radar. But that all was about to change, as Chuck fired-up his massive 96" screen home theater system and cued-up Family Vacation: Live in Los Angeles, the Dollyrots' 2016 home DVD concert.

Where the magic all began.
I was intrigued immediately by the fun factor — the founding husband and wife team of guitarist Luis Cabezas and lead vocalist / bassist Kelly Ogden, as well as (then) current drummer, the phenomenal Rikki Styxx, traveling in a deluxe RV on a cross-country concert tour — bouncing baby boy and even the family dog, all along for the adventure. The band members' transparent pre-show commentary also was refreshing. Then, like a sweet surprise slap to the sack, the crunchy combo kicked into gear with the opening track, "My Best Friend's Hot." I was hooked instantly. And for the next 40 minutes, I remained dazed  paralyzed completely by their pop-rock splendor, as my heart raced and my nether regions tingled. The next night, I played the DVD for my like-minded GF. She concurred quickly — the Dollyrots are in fact, a glorious gift from God.

The first official order of business was to score the latest Dollyrots single, "Make Me Hot— iTunes to the rescue! However, in the meantime, the Coronavirus thing exploded, and seemingly overnight, society had surrendered all personal rights — bending over gleefully, submitting unconditionally to government-mandated global lock downs. So, what's a newly-dedicated disciple to do during the ensuing "end times?" The answer — head to Walmart posthaste, procure a massive iTunes card and buy as many Dolly downloads as possible — various selections from their impressive and extensive album catalog. My aural smorgasbord included "Babbling Idiot," "Just Because I'm Blonde," "City of Angels," "Get Weird," "Because I'm Awesome," my personal #1 super-jam, "I Know How to Party" and a buttload of others.

My Dollyrots addiction is TOTALLY under control.
(Really)
But as with any gateway drug, my initial Dollyrots playlist only satisfied my craving temporarily. Soon, I found myself perusing the merch section of their website — like a drooling 10-year-old, tearing through the pages of the Sears and Roebuck Wish Book — circa '72. And who could blame me. I soon discovered (and admired) Cabezas and Ogden's marketing savvy — hawking everything from Dollyrots shirts and hoodies to posters and pendants to CDs and LPs — not only vinyl — COLORED VINYL. Ding, ding, ding — we have a winner!

My favorite word in the Dollyrots vernacular — "bundle." Upon receiving my recent $1,200 COVID19 government welfare check, I felt compelled to stimulate the Dollyrots webstore by taking advantage of a couple of the bargain bundles — T-shirts, stickers, singles and LPs. Truth be told, the two-week delivery period felt like an eternity. But it was worth the wait. And the day my beefy USPS guy finally dropped off the precious payload, it felt like Christmas morning on a May afternoon.

THE DOLLYROTS
Punchier and crunchier — on vinyl!
What I was anticipating most eagerly was the bounty of the band's colored vinyl that I ordered. And in no time, I made a mighty discovery. I'd been consuming copious amounts of Dollyrots content digitally. But I was missing out on their true magic. Simply put, the Dollyrots are meant to be experienced — on vinyl. Oh sure, their music certainly pops in the digital format. But "holy cow balls Batman," on vinyl, Cabezas' riveting riffage is even more ferocious and Ogden's throaty basslines boom, as if she had her rig set up right in my living room — over between the slightly-stained sofa and the once-resin-coated coffee table. The drums — rib-cracking. And Ogden's angst-fueled, cotton candy flavored vocals feel like she's straight-up in my face — either looking for trouble, or just a friendly place to change a diaper.

Their tunes — world-class — consistently contagious. And they have a firm grasp of their irresistible brand. But, while these former Warped Tour poster kids do reside typically within their stylistic comfort zone, songs such as "Jump Start This Heart" and "Mother Trucker" are prime examples of how they can venture out from their wheelhouse. And when they do, the results are superb. Hence, for me, choosing a fave Dollyrots slab is about as challenging as choosing a fave Full House character. And NOBODY should EVER be subjected to that kind of pressure. Suffice to say, my personal pick of the litter is whichever one of their records is on my platter at that particular moment. 

I HAVE A DREAM!
(Get adopted by the Dollyrots)
With the potential of 2020 not sucking completely, I hope to catch the Dollyrots in concert, sometime, someplace this year. However, the reality of experiencing them live will likely be overwhelming — perhaps too overwhelming, as I'm not sure if I'd scream or shout, laugh or cry, pump my fist or piss my pants.

There's a scene in director Cameron Crowe's 2000 award-winning film, Almost Famous, in which legendary music journalist Lester Bangs offers a few words of wisdom to young, aspiring writer, William Miller. He says something to the effect of, "We don't choose our favorite music. The music chooses us." I'm sure glad the Dollyrots chose me.

-Christopher Long
(June 2020)
__________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)

Saturday, May 30, 2020

DECADE OF DILIGENCE: The "Guru" Turns 10

DECADE OF DILIGENCE
The "Guru" Turns 10
__________

With the global hoo-ha
surrounding the ensuing
Apocalypse, I managed
to miss a milestone. My
Show Biz Guru website
recently reached the
10-year mark. Hooray!
__________

Stemming from a private joke between a local Florida nightclub manager and myself, 15 years ago, the title "Show Biz Guru" became my cyber moniker when I first launched this site in April 2010. It since has become my personal brand.

Although the "Guru" continues to offer consistent, compelling show biz-related content, my primary passion is simply to share unique personal stories — my own experiences and perspectives, as well as those of my occasional guest contributors.

Over the years, the "Guru" has delivered over 600 features  stories, reviews and insights from an array of aspiring writers. Considering I absolutely had no idea what I was doing a decade ago regarding web development and content creation, I was psyched recently to discover that my "little" site now has been visited over a half-million times. 

What's been my most fantastic "Show Biz Guru" experience?
The night I spent with Warped Tour darlings, The Fantastic Plastics.
Don't ask. What happens in the future, stays in the future.
(TheFantasticPlastics.bandcamp.com)
But not all of my readers have been pleasant visitors. And that's okay. I'm just grateful to everyone who's taken the time to read my work and engage in the conversation.

2020 thus far has brought a slew of social challenges — frightening, indeed. As a result, I've been away from the "Guru" throughout most of the spring. I wasn't locked-down — off quarantined somewhere, I've just been distracted by life during this troubled season and focused on meeting writing deadlines for other publications. But be sure, I'm back in action — kicking off what I expect will be a long, steamy summer filled with plenty of lively content. 

I hope you'll stop by often and maybe even share the "Guru" with friends. After a decade, I feel like I'm still revving up.

-Christopher Long
(May 2020)
__________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)

Friday, March 27, 2020

MAKE ME HOT: The Dollyrots Drop Sizzling New Single

MAKE ME HOT
The Dollyrots Drop
Sizzling New Single
(Wicked Cool Records)
__________

Distancing, disease, doom
and despair. A global crisis
currently is at hand and the
entire planet is prepping for
the impending apocalypse.
But, there's bigger news 
The Dollyrots just dropped
a sizzling new single.
__________

You gotta be one ornery hombre to remain immune to the infectious sound of The Dollyrots. For nearly two decades, the LA-based duo has toured the U.S. relentlessly, while releasing an array of appealing pop / punk records on various indie labels. Established, owned and operated by vocalist / bassist Kelly Ogden and guitarist Luis Cabezas, the team has been rounded out over the years by a Spinal Tap-type procession of drummers. Following the 2017 release of Whiplash Splash, the group signed with Miami Steve's label, Wicked Cool Records, for its 2019 studio set, Daydream Explosion. And with certain human extinction now imminent, The Dollyrots have stepped up and dropped "Make Me Hot"— the last great record — ever.

"MAKE ME HOT"
(Dig it for yourself - NOW on YouTube)

Remaining faithful to their celebrated pop / punk brand, Ogden and Cabezas deliver an irresistibly charming three-minute earworm about a steamy hook-up. Simply put, it hits ya hard — like getting punched in the pickle with a fistful of cotton candy. A tag team production effort between the duo and longtime go-to studio ace, John Fields, the song is accelerated by the rib-cracking drum work of popular LA session cat, Reade Pryor.

The Dollyrots: Ogden and Cabezas
Adding extra crisp and crunchy curb appeal is the single's equally delicious B Side  the fresh and fun, high-octane remake of "Stay (I Miss You)—  the delicate chart-topping 1994 hit by angelic singer / songwriter, Lisa Loeb.

Similar to a P.F. Chang's dining experience, you always know what you're gonna get from The Dollyrots. And with "Make Me Hot," the duo stays in their signature-style comfort zone — a sizzling sing-along for troubled times.

-Christopher Long
(March 2020)
__________

THE DOLLYROTS
"Make Me Hot"
(Get it HERE)
__________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)

Saturday, March 7, 2020

DL SERIOS: My New Solo Band Makes its Official Debut

DL SERIOS
My New Solo Band Makes
its Official Debut
___________

2020  a new decade
 a perfect bookmark
for new beginnings.
___________

Under my stage alias, DL Serios, I launched the outrageous, award-winning hard rock band, DEAD SERIOS, back in 1985. But after 35 years, it finally seemed like I'd led the Florida-based brigade about as far as we were gonna go — for now.

Truth be told, I'd been processing the possibility of powering on with a new project for the last several months. And as 2020 was rolling up this past holiday season, I continued to feel conflicted. Did I really still possess a creative passion? After all, rock and roll is a young man's sport. And I'm certainly not a kid anymore.

"Feeling Freakie"
(A sneak preview of my debut solo record)

My two primary sources of songwriting inspiration always have been the authentic, street-smart punk style of the Ramones and the contagious, classic hookiness of Cheap Trick. I'd been stockpiling cassette demos for decades — crunchy, guitar-driven, garage-birthed, two-and-a-half-minute tunes that were perceived as being a bit too poppy for DEAD SERIOS.

But for the last couple of years, I'd been in the studio, along with celebrated producer, Brendon Keith Paredes, Pat Travers Band drummer, Tommy Craig, and Boney Fiend guitarist, Chuck Lazaras —  recording what I felt were some of my best songs. As a result, I've had a polished solo record completed for quite a while  ready for just the right time. If ever.


Calls were coming in from several Central Florida club owners, eager to book my solo band. The only problem — it didn't exist — yet. So, with a record already in the can, I began reaching out to potential bandmates to complete the new live combo — Chuck Lazaras, Glenn Anthony, bassist for the internationally acclaimed metal band Attika and Steve Keller, drummer for the Florida east coast indie punk troupe, Best Supporting Actor — they all said, "Yes."

In January, we took over a local Florida production compound and weeks worth of rehearsals ensued. In February, we played a couple of club warm-up dates. We're currently back at the compound where we'll spend most of the spring wood-shedding — expanding the set list and developing the show — all while the record is being shopped to prospective labels. We'll be kicking off our summer concert schedule on Sunday, May 24th at Rubix Cafe in Melbourne, Florida.

I'll be sure to keep y'all posted.

-Christopher Long
(March 2020)
__________

DL SERIOS SOCIALS
- Instagram -
- Soundcloud -
- Bandcamp -
- Twitter -
- YouTube -
___________




- SUPERSTAR -
__________

- SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

- C'MON! -
(2012)