Posts Tagged ‘Hard Luck Jollies’

Pounding The Pavement

April 13, 2013

Friday April 12th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI/Rosemont, IL

   I’ve got places to be, baby! It might not be New York or L.A., but that’s fine by me. Chicago is a gargantuan city and Milwaukee is my home town, so that will do for today. Milwaukee was the first place I needed to be to meet with some radio friends for lunch. That’s always worth the trip.

   Pat Martin has been a mentor to all kinds of radio people, and he was to me too. He helped me get my first job in Lansing, MI and I don’t know whether to hug him or punch him for that. He’s a great guy though, and deserves much respect and gratitude. He’s always been a big supporter.

   Kipper McGee is another radio icon I love and respect, and he was there too. Kipper and Pat’s influence have been shining beacons in my radio experience, which has been a lumpy ride at the very least. When I’ve really needed a friend, both those guys have been there and I’m grateful.

   Mitch Morgan is a very talented radio name I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting, and he was in the mix too. He’s what radio people call ‘on the beach’, which is between gigs. He got blown out by those fine humanitarians at Clear Channel who are always known for their extreme warmth to talented people who have sacrificed their lives to attain a high level of professional competence.

    Also part of the group was Mark Helaniak. Mark is president of the Milwaukee Broadcaster’s Club, and also someone I’m hiring to put sound effects together for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ shows. I want to get old radio and TV jingles and commercials to play before shows as people walk in the theatre so it takes them back in time and puts them in the right mood before the show even starts.

   Mark was the one who did the final mix on my most recent CD ‘Hard Luck Jollies’, and he’s a pro that’s been around the area for decades. I’d never actually met him in person before, but he’s a very nice guy and we all had a blast at lunch exchanging radio stories. We are all ‘radio lifers’.

   Unfortunately, Mark’s computer system has been giving him fits of late, and we were not able to finish the original job. He asked if I could come back tomorrow, and I’m fine with that but I’m hoping we can get it done in time for the shows. I was looking forward to adding it for this week.

   There’s nothing I can do about it, so I left Mark’s house and headed to Zanies in Rosemont, IL for two more shows. I would have loved to take some time to relax, but that’s just not in the plan right now. I have to keep showing up where I’m expected, and I barely had time to make it there by show time. By the time I get gas for the car and stop for a quick meal it’s time to work again.

   I kept up what I started yesterday and worked on my act both shows. The first show was a full house, and I used that opportunity to go through my ‘A’ set. I closed with the closer I usually do, which I did early in the set last night. I haven’t been doing it of late, and I don’t do it at all in the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show so I wanted to give it a run through in front of a full house to polish it.

   I have also used these last few shows to work on my offstage business as well. James Gregory was kind enough to give me an afternoon of his time when I was in Atlanta, and he explained to me how important it is to have a nice display of merchandise and an onstage sales pitch to sell it.

   I respect him unconditionally, and made it a point to do all of what he said every show. It was a conscious effort, and I sold out of all my merchandise by the end of tonight’s first show. I’ve not been the greatest at merchandising, but this week I showed major improvement. Thanks James!

Halfway Home

July 1, 2010

Wednesday June 30th, 2010 – Kenosha, WI

2010 is half way gone. Wow. I feel like life is passing me by, and I’m not able to take it all in. I’m on the big clock and it’s ticking faster and faster. I can chose to march with the rest of the ants, or veer off and take my own path. Either way will end in eventual death.

That being the case, why not veer off and go my own way? I’ve never fit in with the rest of the ants anyway, so why would I start now? Maybe I’ll find a new group of ants I could fit in with better, or maybe be the only ant in a group of something else. Either way, it’s a total race against time no matter what I do, so I need to pick something and give it a shot.

I could beat myself up about what I didn’t get done, but what would that prove? On the positive side, I did get a new CD out and it’s getting very good reviews from all kinds of sources. Larry Wilde, a guy who spent his life studying comedy wrote a flattering email.

He called Hard Luck Jollies “the best self depreciating humor since Jack Benny.” Larry wrote the book “The Great Comedians Talk About Comedy” and interviewed most of the very top names in comedy in the 20th century. A compliment like that coming from him is as high as it gets, especially since I didn’t ask for it. I had no idea he’d even listened to it.

That’s a big plus for the first half of this year. I’m sure I’ll get a lot more mileage out of it for the foreseeable future, and it’s DONE. It frees me up to do other projects, and that’s my focus for the next three months. I intend to work feverishly for the next 90 days to get myself prepared for the big debut of ‘Schlitz Happened!’ in Harford, WI on October 1st.

I want to be really ready for that night on many levels. I want the show to be razor sharp and funny, but I want to be in an exercise and good health groove too. Three months is an eternity, and if I can exercise and eat better I bet I’ll feel like a million bucks by October.

I’d also like to have as many products as I can finish ready to go by then. If I do it right, I’ll have a nice little publicity buzz and get some attention from people who haven’t seen or heard of me before. I need to have something to sell, because I know they’ll enjoy what I’m doing on stage. I’ve already seen it, but wasn’t ready. This is a 90 day total makeover.

I think deadlines are good, and I’m putting one on myself effective  immediately. I have a 90 day window to get myself as ready as I can for a gigantic night of fun at the Schauer Center in Hartford, WI on Friday October 1st. I’m vividly visualizing it in my mind‘s eye.

I’m going to give that audience my best show ever. They’re going to love it. I’ll be in a positive groove and all the years of sacrifice will come together to make that night one to remember forever. I’ll be on top of my game, and everything will come off as expected.

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about any one show this far out, but I know I can do this and I won’t be happy unless I give my absolute best effort. I want to EARN it all the way. Let’s see how closely to my vision I can pull this off. I have a goal and I’m on a mission.

Color Coordination

May 23, 2010

Saturday May 22nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

No gig tonight but this time it’s ok. Last night’s show was so hot I got my fix and I have a lot of work coming up in the next few weeks that will keep me plenty busy. My plan for today was to keep tabs on my daily chores like emails and calls and make sure those kinds of things don’t get out of hand as they tend to do quite frequently. It’s a constant struggle.

That was my plan, but I got so far off of it it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how it happened and I sure didn’t plan on it, but I ended up spending about eight full hours today coloring. Yes, COLORING – as in filling in a black and white picture with markers and hoping not to go outside the lines. I thought for sure my coloring days were over, but I was mistaken.

What’s next, a game of hide and seek? Some graham crackers? Nap time? Am I back in kindergarten? I wasn’t very good at coloring back then, so why did I revert back to it over forty years later? Necessity. I needed to add color to the cover artwork of my new CD. It’s been bothering me since I got it, and I had to see what it would look like in living color.

My original plan was to do a tribute to the Funkadelic album “Hardcore Jollies”. I chose that particular one not only because “Hard Luck Jollies” fits it perfectly, but also because it’s a very wildly drawn busy cover with all kinds of vibrant pinks and purples all over it.

Pedro Bell’s style is quite striking, and I have to believe he’s sampled his share of LSD, plus yours and mine too. He must have done about twenty albums throughout the heyday of their peak years, and they really do stand out. One of the reasons why is that they’re all bursting with an array of colors. That‘s what I‘d pictured my project to be, but it wasn’t.

I really feel bad that Pedro’s ink person ripped him off, but I paid for a finished product and I didn’t get it. Whoever was at fault isn’t important. What matters is, I needed to get a product out so I made due with what I had. It doesn’t look horrible at all, and most people who’d probably be fans of mine have no idea who Pedro Bell or Funkadelic are anyway.

Still, if I’m going to do something, I want to do it right. I know nobody cares, but I want to hopefully do another print run eventually, and that one should have a colorized version of the cover. I played around with several versions until I finally nailed what I had wanted in the first place, but it was worth it. The colors just leap off the page and it’s a lot better.

My friend Jay Bachochin owns an Alpha Graphics in Vernon Hills, IL and he said he’ll be able to scan the color drawing and reproduce it as needed. I could see this even being a t-shirt eventually, or maybe even a poster. It’s very unique and I’m glad I took the time to get it finished the way I imagined it to be in the first place. This was worth all my effort.

Hopefully, I’m now done with my coloring career and can go back into retirement. I am glad I did this though, because the results will pay off for a long time. Plus, I also colored a back cover drawing Pedro did, which I think I can tweak into the front cover of the next CD. I paid for it, why not use it? Anything that can set me apart in a good way, I’ll take.

Hard Luck Jollies – FINALLY!

April 15, 2010

Wednesday April 14th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL/Milwaukee, WI

Whoo Hoo! I’ve been pumped up before, but rarely like today. I’ve been positively and absolutely giddy all day and the grin on my puss just won’t go away.  My brand spanking new comedy CD “Hard Luck Jollies” is now available for sale at the competitive price of $13 postpaid in the continental United States of America – slightly more for Zimbabwe.

What a hell ride it’s been to get this project FINALLY done, and I can now see why it’s so difficult for bands to stay together for extended periods of time. This one took so long to finish, I almost broke up with myself. It may not be “Thriller”, but at least it’s finished.

The worst part of all is that I’ve had some stupendously sizzling shows in the time since the last copy of the previous one ran out to today’s rejuvenation and rebirth. I shudder as I think of how many copies I could have sold between then and now and it’s probably up in the hundreds. That translates in cash to thousands, and the only one to really blame is me.

Yes, I had problems with my ex business partner and all the ugliness that went with that plus I sold the rights to my first CD outright to Laughing Hyena Records and don’t own it anymore. Those two things contributed to the gap in time along with some reasons on the other side with both the artwork and Donna Gurda who was the producer of this project.

Donna’s mother passed away and she had to attend to all that goes with that, and Pedro Bell’s artwork became an issue when his business partner embezzled from him and put an additional unexpected damper on the project. Any one of those things would be extremely frustrating, but all together it nearly choked out the whole project. I am thrilled it didn’t.

I had to keep plugging or it would never have gotten finished at all, and I’m very glad I did. Donna did a great job on the disc along with Mark Heleniak at EarMark Productions. She used to produce Tom Green’s music projects and she knows what she’s doing, along with Mark. They worked hard and were worth every penny I spent. I appreciate their help.

Pedro Bell’s cover artwork is also fantastic, even though I wasn’t able to get it colorized fully. It’s really intricate cartoon work, and after a lot of testing it was decided to just add color to the name logo for me he created and the words ‘Hard Luck Jollies’. The logo was modeled directly after the logo for the group Funkadelic. Anyone who’s a fan will know.

There are some things I’d change on the packaging just as there are on my last one but it won’t be noticed by anyone but me. It looks very presentable and sounds crisp. Nobody is going to know or care how many delays there were with this, they’ll just enjoy the results, or at least I hope they will. The last one went over very well, and this one is an upgrade.

The good thing is, this won’t happen again any time soon. I’ve already got ideas for the next one and I talked to Donna and Mark about it today as I dropped off copies of this one up in Milwaukee. We’ve got a lot more recordings to go through and there’s enough there for at least one but possibly even two more projects like this so I’m set for at least a bit.

I’ll keep cranking out product as much and as often as I can, but I won’t whore myself. I want to keep some kind of quality control and not just slap anything together. This took it up a notch, and I want to keep doing that as long as I can. I know there’s a lot more in me, and hopefully I can use these recordings to develop more of a fan base, like a musician.

Now is when the real work starts though. I’ve had some solid support from Sirius/XM Satellite Radio and I hope they’ll continue to showcase my newer offerings. Some of the material is the same from the first one to these next two or three, but I did it in a different way. Plus, there’s new stuff added in there too. I purged myself of everything I had in me.

I also have to restock websites that have sold my product like CD Baby and quite a few others like http://www.comedyhome.com and http://www.laugh.com. Those were also years ago and I wasn’t the contact person, my ex partner was. I’ll have to dive in and do all of this myself even though none of this is my field of expertise. For now, I need to be in charge of it all.

I’ll put the word out on Facebook and myspace and I’m even doing it here on my daily diary, which I normally don’t use to plug anything blatantly. This time I have to put it all aside and market this thing. I was always shy about it before, but people liked it and I am still getting compliments from it seven years later. This new one will not be a stink bomb.

I also have to find a way to put it up on my website and have people buy it there. I have no idea how to do that, and I didn’t ask my friend Shelley today when I picked the boxes up from her house. I had them sent there because there’s always someone home watching her kids. She’s also been a gigantic help lately and I appreciate all her efforts immensely.

I appreciate everyone who has contributed to this entire project from Donna and Mark to Pedro’s artwork and also Greg Phelps in Indianapolis who put the whole package into completion mode from getting all the design and art finished to getting the printing done. His company is called Tridigital Solutions and I recommend them for all your CD needs.

The main regret I have is not being able to thank everyone I wanted to thank. The inner sleeve would have had to have been 20 feet long, and I couldn’t afford that. Still, I’m very thankful for all who contributed in whatever way they did. I’ve had a lot of support from a variety of people and I am humbled, flattered and owe them a debt of sincere gratitude.

There’s also a Mr. Lucky song written and performed by my friend Joe Dell’Orfano and a one on one interview with Jerry Agar recorded in the WGN studios. I’m a fan of a lot of people, and an interview is always interesting to me so I put one on hoping somebody else feels the same way I do about it. All in all, this is a jam packed CD chock full of stuff that I’d want to get if I was buying a comedy CD. That’s a formula that’s worked in the past.

This is a milestone, and I love it. One CD isn’t easy to do. Two is twice as hard. Three’s extremely rare, so that’s the next goal. I think I can do it, especially since it’s already been recorded. If you’d like a copy of Hard Luck Jollies, I’ll gladly sign it for you. Please send $13 to: Dobie Maxwell P.O. Box 618 Lake Villa, IL 60046. I totally appreciate all orders.

Jerry Lewis And The Naked Gun

March 17, 2010

Tuesday March 16th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Belated birthday wishes are still trickling in and every one of them makes me feel good. Who doesn’t like to be recognized, especially on or around their birthday? Today happens to be Jerry Lewis’s 84th birthday and he’s been on my radar since grade school. I can still remember how the other boys in my class all loved him. I can’t speak for any of the girls.

As much as I tried, I was never able to find him funny as a kid. I think I watched all the same movies my friends did, but they never made me laugh. I felt like an outcast, but I’m not going to lie. I eventually gave up on him and just accepted the fact he didn‘t wow me.

My whole opinion has changed since I became an adult, and especially a comic myself. The truth is, Jerry Lewis is brilliantly creative on many levels, and very few in history can compare to his list of accomplishments. That says a lot, even though his movies still don’t make me laugh. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean I don’t respect his creativity.

He was born into a family of performers, and has been around show business his whole life. That can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the individual. I’m sure he could have easily dropped out and done something else, but to last for over three quarters of a century and still be a household name, positive or not, is about as difficult as it gets.

It’s very easy to bash his brash and abrasive personality, his telethon or just about all of his solo movies, but I see how much he accomplished onscreen and off and have nothing but the utmost respect. It’s not easy to succeed in show business at all, much less last for several generations. Say what you will, the one thing that can’t be disputed is his tenure.

There’s a fascinating interview with him from the David Susskind show from probably the mid ‘60s which really won me over. He was amazingly sharp, and went off on a lot of subjects that showed how intelligent he really is. He’s never seemed happy whenever I’ve seen or heard him interviewed, but I guess genius and happy have never come as a pair.

Being a student of the comedy game doesn’t mean I have to personally like everyone’s work. In many cases, I just don’t. It doesn’t move me. Comedy and entertainment itself is subjective, and whoever sees it gets the opportunity to make up his or her own mind as to whether that individual enjoys it or not. If I don’t enjoy something I can still respect it.

One thing I’ve always personally enjoyed are the series of Naked Gun movies made by the Zucker Brothers and Jerry Abrahams. I’ve always been a fan of theirs, at first because they were also from Milwaukee but later because I just found their style to be hilarious.

I’ve seen most of their movies but Leslie Neilsen’s Frank Drebin character never fails at making me laugh out loud. I found a DVD of the first movie at the thrift store today, and I popped it in because I hadn’t seen it in a while. It still made me laugh and I watched for a lot of other things I really hadn’t noticed before, like pacing, laughs per minute and how it all ties together as a movie rather than just watch individual scenes. Those guys are great.

Not only did the movie hold up, I was amazed all over again at how they cast actors that weren’t at all previously known for being funny. All of them. Leslie Neilsen was a serious actor, as was George Kennedy. Ricardo Montalban played a great villain, and he’s usually very likeable in all the roles I’ve seen him play, especially Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island.

Priscilla Presley and especially O.J. Simpson aren’t even known for acting at all. Still, it all fell together perfectly and I thought laugh for laugh it was right up there with any other movie I can think of that was released in the last twenty years. They should be proud of it, and I’m sure they are. Watching it again made me take inventory of everything I‘ve done.

That, coupled with the body of work Jerry Lewis cranked out made my little career feel like a bug fart by comparison. I can’t be cocky because I really haven’t done anything yet, other than wish I could catch a break sometime. Do I have any ideas for movies? Yes, but I’m nowhere near close to being able to even present them to anyone. I’m way off course.

All I can do is continue down the path I’m on and do the best I can with whatever time I have left. I’m never going to have the career of a Jerry Lewis or the Zucker Brothers, but I can still keep working on what I’m doing. I’ve got a new CD on the horizon and that’s the product to focus on now. It’s not a movie and I’m not a legend in France, but it’s a start.

Greg Phelps sent the proofs of the CD package today and I had to make a few small but important corrections. The font wasn’t very readable in my opinion and there were a few typos, but other than that it looked pretty good. We were able to use the artwork I paid for from Pedro Bell, even though it’s not colorized. I had to go with what I have, but it’s ok.

Greg and his artist Chad colorized the title of the CD which is ’Hard Luck Jollies’ and a logo for my name Pedro Bell drew that looks like the logo for Funkadelic. I doubt if many people will recognize it, but those who do will really be impressed. I was, and that’s good enough for me. It looks very unique, and it’s not just another thrown together hack piece.

I’m really going to have to scrape together cash to pay for this, but I think I’ll be able to sell enough of them quickly to get my money back. It’s an investment in myself, so that’s never a bad thing. I think I’ll get some attention from it, as it’s a product I can be proud of that will sound and look professional. I’ve been overdue for another product for a while.

I’ve also got enough material recorded where I think I can have another one done by the fall. That would be great, and it’s already in the can so it’s not like I need to record any of it again. In a perfect world I’ll keep creating CD projects every year for as long as I can be creative enough to keep thinking of material. Every artist should always keep on growing.

Maybe I will get around to doing movies eventually, maybe not. As long as I keep up an honest effort to do my best, I’m sure my path will take me where I need to go, even if that isn’t necessarily where I wanted to go when I started out. A big movie career sounds great but who really gets that in the end? Not many. Does it mean I’m a failure if I don’t have it on my resume? No, not at all. Failure is not trying. I’m trying hard, I’m just farther back.