Johnny Depp Rocks! Blog

December 31, 2010

2010 Johnny Depp Rockin’ Year-end Wrap

Once again, long time, no post!  But 2010 has been another great year for Johnny’s musical pursuits!  First came the announcement that Johnny would put on his rarely-worn director’s hat for a feature film music documentary. Then he played lead guitar on not one, but two music singles.  And finally, he returned to the stage for his first live performance in 2 years.  Along the way, he found time to lend his voice to other music-related projects.  Not too shabby!

The documentary in question is a film about Johnny’s rock hero, friend, and fictional pirate “dad,” Keith Richards.  It is tentatively titled Happy, after Richards’ song of the same name.  Johnny says they filmed for about 5 days in late January of 2010, and there has been mention of colleagues digging through lots of archive footage.  Johnny mentioned the project briefly while promoting The Tourist in late 2010, though he hesitates to refer to himself as a director or producer:  “Keith is being a wild beast that you just sort of document.  You just turn on the camera and let it run out, and feast upon what he has to say.” So far there’s been no mention of a specific release date, so we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled for updates in 2011.  In addition, perhaps through his participation in this documentary, Johnny provided a narration for the audiobook version of Richards’ autobiography, Life.  We’ll get to see Keith and Johnny together in May of 2011 in a non-musical setting, as Keith will return as Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Still, I’m also hoping to see Keith and Johnny play together at some point… perhaps they will, in the documentary 🙂

Johnny also lent his spoken voice as narrator of the excellent Doors documentary, When You’re Strange, and also did brief readings of Jim Morrison’s poetry for the related soundtrack.  The film seemed to be more welcomed in Europe than in the States, where it only played in a handful of cities and didn’t come within 150 miles of Washington, DC.  I had to settle for a viewing on PBS and the DVD.  On the bright side, the film received a Grammy nomination for long form music video, so we’ll see in 2011 whether it wins.

Johnny’s two singles contributions were Babybird’s Unloveable and Shane MacGowan & Friends’ I Put A Spell On You, both released in the spring.  Johnny also directed the video for Unloveable, the first single from Babybird’s album, Ex-Maniac, which was produced by Johnny’s Kids bandmate, Bruce Witkin, and Bruce’s partner Ryan Dorn.  The video, a take on An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, was perhaps more memorable than Johnny’s lead guitar on the song, which is solid but not particularly flashy.  But Johnny let himself loosen up and get appropriately bluesy on the Shane MacGowan single, which was a benefit single for relief of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  Wish he could let himself stand out like this a little more often!

It was a wonderful surprise when in late August, a few days before the Voices For Justice concert in Little Rock, Arkansas, to benefit the West Memphis Three, it was announced that Johnny would attend and perform.  Because Johnny has long stood on record in support of the West Memphis Three and efforts to give them a new trial, it made sense that he would lend his support at the concert and perhaps give a speech.  But would he actually play??  I still remember the thrill I got when I saw the first few still photos, and then some brief music clips, through the magic of Twitter and YouTube.  Johnny held his own with the likes of Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith for a heartfelt and emotionally powerful show.  Since the concert, the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed to new hearings for the WM3, which is the first step in allowing for a new trial.

What’s in store for 2011?  First and foremost, we can await the new Patti Smith album that is planned for release in 2011.  While there has been no official confirmation of Johnny’s participation, Johnny has mentioned previously that he might play on it, and an Italian article about Patti also mentioned Johnny’s involvement.  Patti herself has not said much about the album, declining even to give its title, but we will see!  Also a possibility for 2011 is the long-awaited followup to the 2006 Rogue’s Gallery album.  Last year, there were reports that it would be released in 2010, and that Johnny would be featured, but there has been very little news in the last year (I did see one brief mention of Tom Waits recording something for it, but that didn’t ever seem to be confirmed).  But with Pirates 4 coming out in May, who knows if that may be the chance to tie in a release of Rogue’s Gallery II?   For what it’s worth, Babybird is currently recording a new album in LA with Witkin and Dorn, and while nobody has mentioned that Johnny would play again, it’s nice to hope!  Either way, I loved what I heard of the recording session that was streamed from the Unison studios in December, so I’ll be purchasing the album regardless!  The two unreleased documentaries that have been mentioned here on the blog and at Johnny Depp Rocks! for several years, Do It For Johnny and Rock And A Hard Place, appear to be in limbo but would certainly be welcomed if they should see the light of day in 2011.  Finally, here’s hoping for Johnny to play a live show(s) in 2011, or to pull out some more music-related surprises!

Happy New Year, all!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

August 31, 2010

Voices For Justice

Long Time, No Write– partly because I’ve had a super busy summer at work, partly because admittedly, there isn’t a huge amount of traffic here, and partly because after the Depp music news-heavy first few months of 2010, there hasn’t been anything new to talk about lately.

That changed on Saturday, August 28, when Johnny made his first live concert appearance in 2 years, as a participant in the Voices For Justice show in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Joining him were such rock icons as Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison, Joseph Arthur, Natalie Maines, Bill Carter, Will Sexton, and Lisa Blount.  The show was a rally in support of the West Memphis Three:  Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were convicted of the murder of three young boys in 1993.  Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison, while Echols was given the death sentence.  Many believe that the three were wrongfully accused, with no real evidence against them, other than that they were misfits who enjoyed heavy metal music.   No matter what one’s opinion might be of what actually occurred the terrible day the three children, Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore, were killed, the trial was fraught with inconsistencies, evidence was lost or tampered with, some leads were not followed, and testimonies were later recanted.  Many close to the case who initially assumed the West Memphis Three’s guilt now believe in their innocence.  New DNA and forensic evidence has failed to show a link to the suspects and rather points to other possible suspects, but requests for a retrial have so far been denied.  The Arkansas Supreme Court will hear the evidence on September 30.  You can read more about the case on Wikipedia.

As far as the concert itself, it sounded like a unique and amazing event.  Johnny and Eddie both read from Echols’ journal, and there was a video message from Echols himself and a greeting from his wife, Lorri Davis.  Johnny’s former P bandmate Bill Carter performed a song called Something Made Of Paper (or Anything Made Of Paper) that he and his wife Ruth Ellsworth wrote specifically for Damien Echols.   Eddie performed covers by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Waits, as well as originals, and Natalie Maines and Ben Harper’s band Fistful of Justice (featuring Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison) perfomed several songs apiece.

Then, it was time for Johnny the musician to become involved.  He joined Vedder for an outstanding performance of Jerry Hannan’s song Society, from the motion picture Into The Wild.  Johnny took the acoustic lead part, and the audience’s surprise and appreciation when they realized that Johnny was playing the solo was audible.  By many accounts from the Pearl Jam community, this performance was the highlight of the evening.  See the performance here!

Then, Patti Smith was called on stage.  Eddie and Johnny remained on stage, but did not play while Patti performed My Blakean Year solo.  Then, they joined her for Wing and Dancing Barefoot.  The show ended with a great performance of Patti’s People Have The Power, with all of the musicians joining her on stage.

I’ve gotta give a big hand to the fantastic folks who attended the show, especially from the Pearl Jam community, who have been unbelievably generous with photos and YouTubes of the performances, as well as great stories and reviews of the event.  From what I could tell from visiting various forums, the audience gave total respect to Johnny as a musician and did not even question his presence as a guitarist.  He was described as a “Cool MoFo” and playing a “great solo”.  For my part, it’s wonderful to see non-Depp fans appreciating his guitar chops.  I’m also thrilled to see Bill Carter and Johnny playing together again, and hope that someday maybe they’ll consider a mini-P reunion.

I can’t let this blog go by without at least acknowledging that it’s almost exactly the Two Year Anniversary of the 2008 Sheila Witkin Benefits (August 29 and 30, 2008).  I have the fondest memories of those two nights, sharing them with several good friends, and getting my brief moment on the 29th to shake Johnny’s hand and thank him and The Kids for playing for us. What fantastic shows– The Kids, you’re the best!!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

December 31, 2009

Johnny Depp Rocks! (in 2009)

Johnny plays guitar!  Johnny directs two music videos!  Johnny narrates a film about a legendary rock band!  Johnny is a Grammy nominee!  All this and more occurred in 2009, showing much to look forward to in 2010, as well.

First, the Grammy nomination.  Johnny and Douglas Brinkley were nominated for their extensive liner notes to Gonzo:  The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson – Music From The Film.  This marks Johnny’s first official Grammy nomination, to my knowledge.  The Sweeney Todd soundtrack was nominated last year; while the Mamma Mia! soundtrack was listed as by “Meryl Streep (& Various Artists)”, Sweeney Todd‘s soundtrack was only denoted as by “Various Artists,” so there was no specific nod to Johnny. (Bah!)  Even though Johnny is not now being nominated as a musician, it’s cool that since his first love is music, he is being recognized by the music industry.  Not everyone takes this nomination seriously- fellow nominees Susan and Lloyd Ecker, who wrote the notes for Sophie Tucker: Origins of the Red-Hot Mama, 1910-1922, say in a Marketwire news item that they are “conceding the ‘Pirate’ vote.”  I suppose this is the Eckers’ attempt at a joke, perhaps in the vein of Sophie Tucker herself.  But I feel that they’re insinuating that Johnny might win based on popularity of a film character rather than on merit.  Bah again!  At any rate, whether you feel the Gonzo notes are worthy of an award or not, we will find out who wins the Grammy on January 31.

In 2009, Johnny also provided the narration for the Tom DiCillo-directed Doors documentary, When You’re Strange.  After premiering at Sundance and screening a second time in Berlin with a temporary narration by DiCillo, Johnny recorded his narration in the spring of 2009, and the film screened for the first time with his narration on June 21 at the LA Film Festival.  The film screened at numerous film festivals worldwide during the summer and fall of 2009, and has picked up distribution deals in France, UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia, with a US deal hopefully coming any time now.  Of Johnny’s contribution, DiCillo says, “[Johnny] had been my first choice. My sense was always that the film needed a real actor to perform the narration, someone who could genuinely relate to the Doors and tell the story as if it really meant something to him. He has succeeded.” As someone who grew up with The Doors in the 60’s, I can’t wait for the film’s release!

Johnny also found time in his busy schedule to direct two music videos during the year.  The first, Vanessa Paradis’ Il y a, was released in October to promote her new Best Of CD (which also features a Paradis/Depp-penned song, St. Germain, which originally appeared on her 2000 album, Bliss).  The second, Babybird’s Unloveable, was filmed in September and will be released in conjunction with Babybird’s upcoming CD, Ex-Maniac, in March of 2010.  It has also been announced that Johnny played guitar on the song, which will be the lead single for the album.  While in 2009 we were treated to Johnny’s appearance on Glenn Tilbrook’s Too Close To The Sun from the Pandemonium Ensues CD, that participation was spoken word.  Having a guest appearance as a guitarist to look forward to is even better!

Some things I wrote about in my 2008 year-end blog did not end up happening in 2009.  The follow-up to the 2006 Rogue’s Gallery CD is apparently still on, and according to producer Hal Willner, will be released in 2010, and will indeed feature Johnny as a musician.  We’ll see!  We also have not yet seen theatrical or DVD releases of Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora or Do It For Johnny, but I am still hoping for progress on both of these films in 2010.  One other possibility for the coming year is for Johnny to contribute to an upcoming Patti Smith album.  In a June BBC interview with Edith Bowman, Johnny divulged, “I think I might play on Patti Smith’s next record… just a bit, a song or something.” Since the two were spotted together several times throughout the year, I’m hoping that they’re planning such a collaboration.  As of now, however, I don’t know of any specific plans on Patti’s part to release an album.  Let’s hope!

Here’s to Johnny Depp continuing to Rock in 2010!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.