Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Hellacopters live at Celebrity Theater, Las Vegas

Wow! The Hellacopters continue to prove that they are the current world's greatest r'n'r band! This was one of the best shows that I've seen in years, bar none!
The Celebrity Theater is a fairly new establishment in Las Vegas. It started as a drag revue, but that only lasted a few months. Now, it occasionally has r'n'r shows, which it is well suited for. It's a great space, with a good stage and super sound. Definitely my fave place in Vegas to see a band!
The show started with American Heartbreak, now also on the Hellacopter's American label, Liquor and Poker. They're a very fun and very poppy r'n'r band, though they seemed to be a bit frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd. It's hard to get people going when you're the opening band, but they did their best and are well worth checking out!
We've seen Nebula before, though it has been a few years, and didn't care for them much at all. Last night, however, they were really cool - less stoner and more late 60's/early 70's heavy rock, including Iggy & Bowie covers! Made me wanna pick up their new CD, but they packed up their merch before the end of the gig.
Then it was the Hellacopters turn! I'll admit that I've been a huge fan since I first heard Super Shitty to the Max. These guys are the closest thing to the reincarnation of the MC5, and that makes them gods in my book! Every time I listen to any of their records I wish that I had been able to do that!
They've gone through numerous personel changes and have cleaned up their act a lot - they're dressing snazzy these days - slacks, boots, vests - except for the bassist, who still looks like they picked him up on a squat somewhere in Sweden! But live, they are still super high-energy and totally over the top! Loud, fast and teetering on the edge the entire time!
The set included songs from (I think) all of their records - not an easy feat these days, as they are so prolific! They could never play all of my faves, but it was a super selection and everyone got plenty of chances to show off what great players they all are and how tight this band is!
Man, I just can't put into words how awesome it was to see these guys in Vegas, where we so seldom get bands of this level. Hopefully, more groups will play at this cool venue and hopefully, more people will show up next time. The turnout was disappointing - no more than 150 people or so - but that made it an intimate experience for those of us who were there. Definitely see these guys any chance that you can!
(March 22, 2006, Celebrity Theater, Las Vegas)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wayne Kramer suing Future Now Films

Found this interesting, considering the message I rec'd on my post below.
From the Velvet Rope:

zenta 138: Wayne is suing FNF? Jesus, this guy must have to carry his balls in a wheel barrel. Have there been court dates given for either of these?

By many accounts, it's the missus in possession of the giant brass set. Coupling shameless arrogance and stunningly megalomaniacal actions which have largely destroyed what's left of the MC5's already tarnished legacy, it's hard to think otherwise.

According to the court docket, the case is set for 20 March 2006, 10 AM before District Judge Manual L. Real; Court Room 8, USDC (Central District - Western Division), 312 N. Spring Street in Los Angeles.

I've wondered what Dennis & Michael have had to say about all this. They're onboard for at least some of this crap. I'll be watching to see when they decide to cut loose entirely.

For all practical purposes, Davis and Thompson have already been discarded, is there any further need for them? The "True Testimonial" film's been destroyed, the faux 'reunion' tour was completed, sales flattened on the substitute DVD rush-released to capitalize on the "True Testimonial" buzz, they reportedly got tagged with $70K in legal bills in an ill-advised legal battle which only temporarily delayed Rob Tyner's family's substantial claims against them, what more could you want on that pizza? There's no love lost between the 'survivors', seems their only remaining connection is being bound together attempting to defend the Detroit legal action for trademark violations, hijacked copyrights, sound recordings and unpaid royalties.

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Having a great time, wish you were here? Yet amazingly, the dark clouds continue to accumulate overhead, it it wasn't so tragic it might remind one of an old Al Capp comic: "JOE BTFSPLK is very simply the world's biggest jinx. He walks around with a perpetually dark rain cloud a foot over his head. Once he appears on any scene, dreadfully bad luck befalls anyone in his vicinity. Though well-meaning and gentle, his reputation inevitably precedes him, so Joe is a very lonely and feared little man."

Kramer filed a claim for bankruptcy on 31 August 1999, under penalty of perjury, in which he claimed he had no copyrights or intellectual property and listed no recordings in his possession. His debts were discharged 31 January 2000; two weeks later on 15 February 2000, Rhino released the "Big Bang" including a number of sound recordings ostensibly "licensed from MC5." It's believed none of the other band members had knowledge of that transaction, it's yet another topic bound to be fully explored at some point. Perhaps that deal was complete prior to the bankruptcy, suppose time will tell. It's also quite possible the "Big Bang" disc was engineered to give Kramer renewed access to the 'revenue stream' from the band's previously frozen Elektra account.

kaos: If this whole thread isn't dead already, the following might be of interest. It's another example of how Kramer & company are totally shooting themselves in the foot, cutting of revenue stream, and isolating themselves from the industry as a whole.

You think? Maybe kaos should sign on as a reality liason for this outfit? That Metro Times quote from Edmonds, referring to the proposed Rhino expanded MC5 discs "sorta falling by the wayside" due to "the infighting and lawsuits flying around the MC5 camp at present" could be somewhat self-serving but I'll reserve judgement on that. Did the large number of inferior boots already available help matters any?

"Trouble seems to follow the MC5," Kramer said by phone from his Los Angeles office. ("MC5 In Turmoil Yet Again" by Susan Whitall - Detroit News, 31 March 2004)

"Kramer denies that trouble follows the MC5.... I haven't lost a moment of sleep over any of it, nor will I" (Kicking Out The Past" by Patrick Donovan - The Age, 23 July

Whatever happened to the simple "that's my story and I'm sticking to it"? Whether or not trouble actually follows the MC5, one could easily argue that Kramer's the trouble magnet and his 2003 marriage to Saadi cemented an already festering situation.

Anyone who's been following the "True Testimonial" side of the MC5 disaster is aware of the three 'surviving' band members much-ballyhooed "Open Letters" posted on the DKT-MC5 web site. Some argue those statements were meant as damage control, to provide cover for them sabotaging the MC5 film. There's little doubt the manufactured controversy provided them high-profile publicity for the lamentable 'reunion.'

There's no disputing one obvious fact revealed in the court documents: "after the film was completed, Kramer began to make demands vastly out of proportion to those made by the other band members, and he successfully persuaded Warner/Chappell to not grant a license that would allow [Future/Now Films] to distribute the film."

The principals of Future/Now (David Thomas and Laurel Legler) remained largely silent for two years in the face of blistering negative accusations from Team Kramer. F/NF's side of the story is just beginning to emerge through court declarations filed in response to the Kramer suit, given under penalty of perjury. Judging from their
blistering legal response to the Kramer's 'complaint', it's clear they've grown weary of the harassment and have finally made a stand.

Director David Thomas has flatly denied the claim of his making any promise that Kramer "would be the exclusive music producer for the Movies, would be compensated for such service, and would receive screen credit therefor" or that "Saadi and Muscle Tone would have exclusive rights to create and release the sound track album as the companion audio release for the movies".

No one disputes the "True Testimonial" film was completed in April 2002 and a private screening was held at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago. This was the first opportunity for the production crew, band members, families, and others associated with the production to see the completed documentary. That's about the only thing the two sides agree on.

According to the declarations, on 15 April 2002, under the subject line of "screening, LLC, a job for wayne, etc..." Margaret Saadi sent an e-mail message asking Laurel Legler "can you please help me with the issue we discussed in september? what we really need in writing from future/now is language specifically authorizing wayne as the music broker/producer on outside projects relating to the film. he will certainly sign the LLC paperwork as an equal member of the MC5, and he'll do it comfortably, but i know he'll feel secure about signing it if he knew he had a job to do on the music end with your support. can you do this without too much headache? he wants to hear from you directly that he'll be the contact for all the music negotiations."

The following day (16 April 2002), Legler forwards the message to her attorneys, stating she "received this from Wayne Kramer's manager/girlfriend yesterday. I've yet to respond and I may not, right now. I don't really know what she's talking about. I don't know what a music broker is and what the word 'outside' means. And why he would be the contact for our music negotiations."

Later on the 16th, Wayne Kramer sends an e-mail message to David Thomas: "Believe me, I understand you don't want a black cloud hanging over the screening and neither do I, for God's sake! I am simply asking that you both allow me the opportunity to continue to work on behalf of the film in order to make some music business-related activities happen.... And, I don't want to be involved in something that I have no expertise in. If, in fact, there ends up being no opportunity for me to contribute, that's all right, too. All I am asking for is the recommendation from you and Laurel that I will be involved in the music projects..."

Kramer's message includes a dark but interesting caveat: "I sense fear in you. You and I both know that there are only two kinds of fear: Fear that I won't get what I want, and fear that I'm gonna lose what I have."

Thomas Declaration: "Kramer saw the finished MC5 documentary on April 20, 2002. As Kramer could see, he did not receive screen credit as music producer for the MC5 Documentary. This was because he was not the music producer for the MC5 Documentary and we had never agreed to give him any such credit."

"Between April of 2002 and July of 2003, Kramer initially delayed in making responses, and then through his attorney began making demands. Finally, in late July 2003, in a phone conversation with Kramer, I asked him what it was he wanted."

According to Thomas, during a 25 July 2003 phone conversation Kramer makes three specific demands; first was "a letter or fax recommending Kramer as a producer for all music related sound track projects associated with the MC5 Documentary"; the second was that Margaret Kramer "receive at least as much credit as Michael Davis's dog"; the third was that Thomas send a letter to the members of Zenta LLC, stating Thomas "had handled this badly".

"I said that in return, I wanted a signed release, to which Kramer said "absolutely." I told him I would like him to call Brad Rosenburger, a licensing executive at Warner/Chappell, and tell him we had full permission for all music licensing, and he replied "absolutely, it will be my pleasure. At no time in this July 2003 conversation, or in any previous conversation, did Wayne Kramer tell me that he claimed that he was entitled to receive screen credit as the exclusive music producer for the MC5 Documentary. He neither performed that function, nor ever received any agreement to receive such a credit."

On 29 July 2003, Thomas faxes and mails a signed letter to Kramer, stating "Future/Now has granted your wish to be recommended as producer of any musical soundtrack records associated with the MC5 film." Thomas notes he considers "Margaret's current credit in the film is in the most 'honored' place possible," hopes Kramer "will accept her current credit placement in the righteous spirit in which it was intended. It's a considerable technical and financial burden to change a single name on a composited credit roll of over 500 names and I do not think our investors will agree to this additional expense."

Within the fax, Thomas agrees to send the "I handled this badly" letter upon receipt of Kramer's "signed release which you have promised us since 1999" and "made things right with Brad Rosenburger at Warner/Chappell, which you also agreed to." According to Thomas, Kramer never complied.

Thomas Declaration: "I have been informed by Brad Rosenburger of Warner/Chappell on several occasions that Warner/Chappell will not license the use of the MC5 music in the completed film until Wayne Kramer gives his approval to Warner/Chappell.""As a result of the refusal of Wayne Kramer to give his approval to Warner/Chappell, FNF abandoned it's plans to exploit the MC5 Documentary in February, 2004. The last time that the MC5 Documentary was authorized by F/NF to be shown publicly was on October 30, 2003. Any subsequent showings were not authorized by me, Laurel Legler, or FNF."

"I know you're expecting a hothead like me to break a promise and dive into the whole DKT vs. Future Now Films side of things. Well, I ain't... It's a disagreement between DKT, the Tyner and Smith families, and Future Now Films. So pray for those motherfuckers, now? And then get ready for round three. Cause you just KNOW this thing ain?t over yet." - Joss Hutton, Sonic Reducer/I 94 Bar

"I said to Laurel and David all along, their journey has so paralleled that of the MC5," says Tyner's widow Becky. "Now we're at the breakup of the MC5. The bully tactics, the pressure. It's almost cosmic." ("MC5 in turmoil yet again" Susan Whitall, Detroit News, March 31, 2004)

No one really seems to understand just what Wayne is suing FOR at this point, since he has successfully blocked the film. Everyone involved has lost money now - what can he possibly expect to get out of this?
It really is a shame that one of the greatest r'n'r bands of all time, who had convinced their fans that they once actually stood for something, can have one of its members devolve into this money-grubbing, shameless bully.