Johnny Depp Rocks! Blog

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!

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February 28, 2010

Someday we’ll look back on this…

and it will all seem funny, so once said my man Bruce Springsteen.  Back in November, I wrote about some cool pieces of Depp music memorabilia I had come across and put on Johnny Depp Rocks.  In the last couple of months, between holidays, work, not one, not two, but three major snowstorms in the DC area, more work, and various other events going on in my real life, some more cool stuff has been found.  I’d put a note on my home page about these additions, but as I continue to update things and prepare to take the note off, I thought I’d place the info here for posterity.

A bunch of Depp music-related photos and scans have been added throughout the site in January and February.  Thanks to Manya for some photos of The Kids from 1983, performing and posing.  Thanks to Ken M., a South Florida music magazine from 1981 contains a photo fashion spread (!) of Johnny and Bruce Witkin from when they were in The Kids, as well as a number of ads, a monthly schedule, and other references to Kids gigs.

scarlet bugle

a week of October 1981

I’ve also gotten a number of scans from old Rolling Stone issues going back as far as 1988, with everything from interviews to news of side projects to album reviews, and have added them in.  Look for new additions throughout the site, especially in the Galleries, Timeline, Live On Stage, Discography, Videography, Guest Sessions, Bands, and Viper Room sections.  And hey, if anyone is out there and happens to have any old magazine or newspaper clippings of The Kids, Rock City Angels, P, or any other item relevant to Johnny Depp Rocks, please let me know!!

Looking ahead again, Johnny’s certainly been busy with a ton of musical projects lately, and within the next couple of months we’ll be treated to a number of releases on which Johnny has participated:  Babybird’s Ex-Maniac CD (Johnny plays guitar and directs the video for the lead single, Unloveable), Shane MacGowan & Friends’ I Put A Spell On You (a charity single for Haitian earthquake victims; Johnny plays guitar and is featured in the video), and When You’re Strange – A Film About The Doors (Johnny narrates).  Also on the horizon will be a documentary that Johnny is making about Keith Richards.  I’m anxious to talk about all of these as they come about, and will hopefully get a chance soon.  For now, I’ll just say I’ve been thoroughly enjoying both Ex-Maniac and I Put A Spell On You, and am thrilled to see Johnny being a part of all this great music!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

November 29, 2009

Down memory lane…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — madscntst @ 11:32 pm

Well, maybe not down MY memory lane.  See, I wasn’t anywhere near Johnny Depp back in the day when he was pursuing a career in music.  In the early 80’s, while Johnny was playing with his dream band The Kids, I was rocking out to Durham, NC’s resident new wave band, The X-Teens.  And in 1986-87, after he returned from filming Platoon in the Philippines and got a gig with the Rock City Angels, I was on the opposite coast, a regular at Ben Vaughn shows in Philly and Trenton, NJ.  But if I’d been in a different place and time, maybe I’d have seen a few of the shows that I’m only learning about all these years later.

It’s one thing to hear that The Kids moved to LA in late 1983 and changed their name to Six Gun Method, but it’s another to see actual confirmation of the band, in the form of a 1984 ad in the LA Weekly:

and while it’s great to see the occasional magazine article where either Johnny or his former Rock City Angels bandmates describe the band or the shows they played, a handbill from their New Year’s Eve 1986 show is a cool artifact.

Getting to see these blasts from the past doesn’t necessarily add any earth-shattering knowledge to the History Of Rock & Roll, but it’s still very cool to get to find a few little souvenirs of Johnny’s tenure as a musician in LA.  Each small tidbit adds a little bit of knowledge to Johnny’s musical history– a show date here, a venue there; every piece fills in a little of the puzzle.  Several new puzzle pieces dropped in my lap earlier this month, thanks to Mike of janesaddiction.org, who helped point me to some vintage (’84-’87) LA Weekly ads he’d scanned for Jane’s Addiction (a band that the Rock City Angels opened for on several occasions). Besides the Six Gun Method and Rock City Angels scans shown here, several other Rock City Angels ads were found.  Check them out on the Johnny Depp Rocks! Live On Stage page.  It’s just a little taste of some actual shows that really existed, in which Johnny (presumably, if the timing is as accurate as I hope) was living his first dream as a rock & roll guitarist.

It makes me wonder how many other puzzle pieces may be sitting around– ads, articles or reviews of The Kids, Six Gun Method, Rock City Angels, or P in newspapers or entertainment rags that are sitting around in someone’s basement, or a South Florida or LA public library, just waiting to be discovered.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a day job 🙂

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

December 31, 2008

The year in (Johnny’s) music, and a look ahead to 2009

2008 was a musical year for Johnny Depp!  The most memorable music-related events of the year were the Second Annual Sheila Witkin Memorial Concerts, in which Johnny rocked out with The Kids in a pair of shows in August.  The shows were held in conjunction with screenings of the Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora documentary, which had had its World Premiere earlier in the year.  The film chronicles the history of the South Florida music scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s, as well as the first Sheila Witkin Memorial Concert that took place in January of 2007.  Johnny features prominently in this film, both as a musician and an interviewee.

In addition to performing with The Kids, Johnny took on several other musical projects, including directing (and possibly co-starring in??) Vanessa Paradis’ video for L’Incendie and co-producing and co-authoring the soundtrack for the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  He was also featured as an interviewee in several music documentaries that were released on DVD in 2008, including Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, Gypsy Caravan: When The Road Bends, and Runnin’ Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2 DVD edition).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street featured Johnny’s first major singing role on film.  Although the film was first released in the US in December of 2007, its domestic and foreign box office success continued well into 2008; it also received much critical praise and resulted in an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Johnny.  The soundtrack and DVD releases were also very successful.

So, what do we have to look forward to from Johnny Depp the Musician in 2009?  As of now, there seems to be one sure thing and several possibilities.  The sure thing is Johnny’s participation on Glenn Tilbrook And The Fluffers’ upcoming album, Pandemonium Ensues.  Tilbrook first mentioned in October that Johnny contributes to the album, and a recent item on the Teletext site confirmed that Johnny plays guitar on the song Too Close To The Sun. (Vanessa Paradis also appears on the album, singing on the song Interest & Love).  The album is due out in the UK on February 23. Johnny is said to be a longtime fan of Tilbrook and of the band he’s most known for, Squeeze, so this will be a welcome and much-anticipated guest spot!  (Corrections- Tilbrook has now clarified that Johnny’s contribution to the album is a narration for the song Too Close To The Sun, and the new UK release date for the album is March 2, 2009).

It has also been claimed that Johnny will play on a follow-up to the Rogue’s Gallery album that was released in 2006.  The follow-up was mentioned during a BBC report about some live Rogue’s Gallery shows that took place in the summer of 2008; the report claimed that Johnny, Keith Richards, Tom Waits and Shane MacGowan would be involved in the recording.  While I have not yet seen any confirmation of this project, my fingers remain crossed for this great possibility!  A somewhat more iffy but intriguing rumor reported last summer in the German magazine, Bravo, is that Johnny is in talks with Warner Music Group to start his own record label.  So far, this has not been verified by any reliable source, and it may end up being totally bogus, but the notion of Johnny becoming involved in the recording industry seems like a very cool and natural possibility. Perhaps we will hear about one or both of these projects in the coming year!

2009 may also see the general release of two music-themed documentaries relating to Johnny.  The first is Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora, which premiered last year and has had several screenings in South Florida.  The official website for the film features a signup page for screening and DVD release information, and it is hoped that there will be more opportunities in 2009 for theatrical screenings and/or a DVD release.   Furthermore, the makers of Do It For Johnny, a film about the quest of the filmmakers to deliver a custom guitar and a script to Johnny, promise that the film will be distributed in the US shortly after the New Year.  Stay tuned on both counts!

Finally, I can’t help but throw in a couple of wild dream projects that I wish for Johnny in 2009 (or anytime!)  The first is for Johnny to play on a new record with Shane MacGowan.  Johnny played on Shane’s 1994 album, The Snake, and in 2004 while Johnny was filming The Libertine, it was widely reported that he would be playing on an upcoming album with Shane, while Shane would play a small role in The Libertine.  Alas, Shane’s turn as a “Bard” was cut from the film, and the album never happened; instead, Shane reunited with The Pogues and has been touring with them off and on ever since.  But in 2005, Shane described jamming with Johnny during this time: “He is a great actor and a great guitar player too. We played together. He really heavied it up. His guitar playing releases all of his rage and frustration. We did one song together, but forgot to record it. But it sounded like an atom bomb going off!”  (Forgot to record it??  Atom bomb going off?? D’oh!!)  I don’t know if or when Shane will ever get back to recording this album, but if he does, I hope he remembers to include Johnny!

My other great wish is for Johnny to get to play with his Captain Jack Sparrow inspiration, Keith Richards.  On whether he’s ever played in front of Keith, Johnny once said, “No. I don’t have the kind of hair that would allow me to pick up a guitar and start strumming. I’ve never been that confident — or drunk. I just couldn’t do it. Unless he asked me to. Then maybe.”  The “Then maybe” keeps my hopes up that maybe someday, somehow, probably not for The Stones but maybe on a solo record (or how about the Rogue’s Gallery follow-up??) the opportunity will arise for them to play together.  Who knows?

At any rate, here’s hoping for a wonderful, musical year ahead for Johnny and all his fans!

Cathy

JohnnyDeppRocks!

September 3, 2008

South Florida Rocks!

Well, the Second Annual Sheila Witkin Memorial Reunion Concerts have come and gone. What an amazing weekend in Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano Beach! It was a real privilege to be there, and to share great music and great fun with some old and new friends.

The weekend’s festivities kicked off Friday evening with a screening of Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora… or at least our attempt to see the screening. Despite two sets of directions and some well-meaning people on the streets, we drove around in circles for awhile before finally finding the venue 35 min. into the film. Nevertheless, we got to see the last half, and it was great. The film now includes some brand new interview footage of all four Kids together, shown for the very first time on Friday. This adds to all of the existing interviews and archived footage of many of the 70’s and 80’s South Florida musicians, and concert footage from the First Annual Sheila Witkin concert. I hope to get a chance to see the rest of the film sometime soon!

Then, it was on to the show, where after waiting on a fairly disorganized line at Club Cinema (they had the ticketholders and will-call recipients all in the same line), we got into the club in time to see the first band, Blank Tape, in progress. This is a group of young musicians, including the son of Slyder member Billy Livesay, and they delivered a rockin’ set. They were followed by kickass sets from Charlie Pickett, Slyder, and Tight Squeeze, all of whom were returnees from last year’s show. They played mostly originals with just a couple of covers sprinkled in for good measure, with styles ranging from alt-country to power-pop to hard rock. Next up were The Romantics, who were probably the most famous of all the bands to play. At last year’s show, Coz Canler and perhaps other member(s) of The Romantics joined The Kids for some encores, but this time we got to see the entire band, and it was a real treat. The final act was The Kids…. well… I’ll get back to them!

For Saturday’s show, the venue finally learned to separate the will-call and ticketholder lines, and getting in the club seemed to run much more smoothly. The first band of the evening was The Combination, which was a true mishmash of musicians from Tar & The Nicoteens, Screaming Sneakers, and Roll-N-Pinz, and they played a great punky set. Next up was Mad As Birds, featuring members of The Cichlids and The Eat in an intense set. They were followed by one of my new South Florida favorites, Critical Mass, sadly sans their traditional lead singer, Mick Fazz, but still delivering a great, fun power-pop set. The Reactions next played a set of punk-flavored tunes, joined on one song by Screaming Sneakers alum Lisa Nash. Z-Cars showed great harmony and great humor, ending their set with some Pete Townshend-style instrument-bashing. And LA-based My Dolls, featuring Bruce Witkin’s daughter Vee on lead guitar, showed the next generation of talent with some hard-driving rock. And the final act was…

The Kids. The Kids: Joey Malone, Bruce Witkin, Johnny Depp and Beano Hanti, headlined both nights, and their sets were well worth waiting for. It’s easy to focus all the attention on Johnny, but to do so would miss out on the considerable talents of Bruce, Joey and Beano, all of whom still play professionally. While Johnny was certainly my reason for looking into the Kids’ history in the first place, I can honestly say I’ve become a true fan of the whole band, and I’m so glad to have gotten the opportunity to get to know their music. Among the band’s two sets were many of my old favorites (and by “old favorites”, I’m mostly talking about songs that were new to me a year and a half ago at the first Sheila Witkin concert!) such as Babe, Lonely, Time To Explain, Nothing’s For Nothing, The Man That Knows Too Much, and You Only Want To Be With Me. Can’t Believe has quickly become one of my favorites. The Kids also have a great repertoire of covers, such as The Pretenders’ Precious, Elvis Costello’s From A Whisper To A Scream and Mystery Dance, The Clash’s Brand New Cadillac (joined both last year and at Friday’s show by Vee Witkin on lead guitar), and Joe Jackson’s Got The Time. But by all accounts, the absolute highlight of both evenings was their gorgeous yet edgy version of the Phil Spector/Ronettes’ hit single, Be My Baby. The song featured Joey on awesome lead vocals, and beautiful harmonies by Bruce and Johnny. (NOTE TO JOHNNY– after Sweeney Todd, we know you can sing! You should do more of it! 🙂 ) For an encore both nights, the other musicians joined The Kids on stage for the Van Morrison classic Gloria, which had been modified to be about Sheila… S-H-E-I-L-A, Sheila. On Saturday, this was followed by more jamming on Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Long Tall Sally. Despite a pair of very sore feet and practically no sleep all weekend, I had a thoroughly amazing time.

On Friday, there was a silent auction in which many cool items were available for bidding, including signed guitars, football jerseys and footballs. I bid on a Little Steven Underground Garage package, but unfortunately I was outbid. The proceeds went to the Dan Marino foundation.

After Friday’s show, Johnny was kind enough to agree to meet some of his crazy fans, among whom I was lucky enough to be one. The first thing I said to him was that I was sorry we had to put him through all this meet and greet stuff! It must be a strange thing to deal with. But gracious guy that he is, he insisted that he wanted to be there, and incredibly, thanked ME for coming to the show. Well, it was a very tough chore, but somehow I managed to make the sacrifice! A heartfelt thank you to Johnny, Joey, Beano, and especially Bruce, and to all the other musicians, organizers and crew, for helping to make this such a memorable weekend.

The Sheila Witkin Memorial Reunion Concerts were held in memory of a great woman and driving force of the 70’s and 80’s South Florida music scene, and for the benefit of the Sheila Witkin Foundation and the Dan Marino Foundation. Please visit www.sheilawitkin.org for more information or to make a donation to their cause.

Cathy

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