Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Bell’

The Doctor Calls!

November 25, 2013

Saturday November 23rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It takes a lot to surprise me anymore, but once in a while something happens that does raise my eyebrows. This morning I received a phone call completely out of the blue from Dr. Funkenstein himself, George Clinton! Had I been asked to predict something freakish that might happen today I highly doubt that would be in my top 1000 guesses. It was a pleasant surprise, but unexpected.

Actually it has happened before, and I didn’t expect that either. The band was on the way to do a show at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 2011, and they stopped at the Lake Forest Tollway Oasis on I-94 and George’s manager Carlon Scott saw me listed in the Lake County Visitor’s Guide.

I’ve been a member of Visit Lake County for several years, and it comes with a listing in their annual guide of businesses, attractions and events in Lake County. Carlon happened to pick up a copy and saw my name, and called to say hello. That’s proof positive that advertising does work.

I had just gotten out of the hospital from my diabetes debacle a couple of days before, and was feeling pretty weak. I almost didn’t answer the phone, but I’m thrilled I did. When I told Carlon I had just gotten out of the hospital, she had George call me back a few minutes later. He had been in the hospital around the same time, and was just out himself. He wanted to call to cheer me up.

He certainly did. How many times does anyone get to have an all time personal hero call out of the blue? It’s kind of like a famous athlete visiting a sick kid in the hospital only better. I’m a big fan, but he treated me like a peer. He asked how my shows were going and I asked all about his.

The reason he was calling today was to ask if I knew how to get in touch with artist Pedro Bell. Pedro did quite a few legendary album covers for Funkadelic in the ‘70s, and happens to be from Chicago. I tracked him down years ago and he did two CD covers for me, and the DVD cover for James Wesley Jackson. It cost me a chunk of change, but I had it at the time and I’m glad I did it.

Not only did I get every penny of my money’s worth, I got to know Pedro through the process and now consider him a friend. He’s a very talented artist, but also a down to earth person. I was very much in awe at first, but he could see I knew of his work so he opened up and we hit it off.

George is coming out with a new project, and wanted to track down Pedro to do some artwork. He knew that I had hired him recently, so he wanted to reconnect. I told him Pedro has been sick lately, and in fact James Wesley Jackson and I had discussed doing some kind of benefit show.

George asked me to keep him posted on the benefit, and I certainly will. James and Pedro have been friends for years, and when I suggested some kind of benefit I knew James would jump on board immediately. With all the other projects I’ve got going now, it has forced me to put that on the back burner for much too long along with James’s DVD. http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

Hopefully this will set everything in positive forward motion again. As George said on a record years ago “Funk not only moves…it can re-move. Dig?” I’d love to be involved in anything I can do to help Pedro and work with James, but if George happens to be involved it would be a dream come true. If you need a dose of the funk, the real Mothership flies at http://www.georgeclinton.com.

George 'Dr. Funkenstein' Clinton has my number.

George ‘Dr. Funkenstein’ Clinton has my number.

Pedro Bell aka 'Captain Draw'. Cover artist for many clasic Funkadelic albums

Pedro Bell aka ‘Captain Draw’. Cover artist for many clasic Funkadelic albums

This is a  bonus cartoon Pedro did when I hired him to design my CD cover for "Hard Luck Jollies'.

This is a bonus cartoon Pedro did when I hired him to design my CD cover for “Hard Luck Jollies’.

Here's the cover Pedro did for James Wesley Jackson's new DVD. It's available at www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

Here’s the cover Pedro did for James Wesley Jackson’s new DVD. It’s available at http://www.jameswesleyjackson.com.

The first cover Pedro did for me was 'Hard Luck Jollies'.

The first cover Pedro did for me was ‘Hard Luck Jollies’.

Here's the original Funkadelic album 'Hardcore Jollies'.

Here’s the original Funkadelic album ‘Hardcore Jollies’.

My next CD will be 'Comedy Skeletons In The Closet'.

My next CD will be ‘Comedy Skeletons In The Closet’.

Here's the original it was based on - 1986's 'R&B Skeletons In The Closet'.

Here’s the original it was based on – 1986’s ‘R&B Skeletons In The Closet’.

Summer Synergy

July 10, 2013

Monday July 8th, 2013 – Chicago, IL

   The dreaded slowness of summer isn’t turning out to be as bad as I thought. I’ve been getting a lot of calls for shows, classes and even some inquiries for corporate speaking engagements. I was getting a bit stressed there for a bit, but it seems to be much better now. It always goes in cycles.

   With the crazy way the business not to mention the whole world is changing, it’s even more of a challenge to stay on top of things than it ever has been – and it wasn’t easy before. There are so many details to keep track of, it’s easy to lose hold of them all and become totally overwhelmed. 

   I thankfully got a call from Bert Haas at Zanies in Chicago to host both Rising Star Showcases this month. They’re traditionally the first two Mondays of each month, and the call couldn’t have come at a better time. It will help me get through the summer drought, plus I enjoy doing them.  

   Since I was going into Chicago anyway, I arranged a long overdue meeting with James Wesley Jackson to discuss the DVD project that’s been sitting for far too long. This is what I’m referring to when I talk about things falling through the cracks, and it’s time to get this project in motion.

   James deserves this and more, and I feel horrible it’s been on the shelf for so long. Life tends to have too many distractions, and it was totally unintentional. James has had the patience of a saint about it and then some, but now it’s getting to the point of being ridiculous. It’s time for action.

   I’ve said it before and I meant every word – James Wesley Jackson is one of the absolute most delightful human beings I have ever met both in comedy and out. Any comedian who has had the pleasure of working with him feels the same way. I’ve never heard a bad word about him EVER.

   He’s just a peaceful soul and a kind hearted human being – not to mention a really funny comic who happens to have a very unique style. James transcends boundaries much like Bill Cosby has for fifty years, and when you see him perform in person it’s virtually impossible not to like him.    

   We were fortunate to catch a red hot show on video, and I’m really proud of the product we’ve been able to put together. Mike Preston brought two cameras that particular evening, and it looks and sounds excellent.  Pedro Bell’s cover artwork is also very well done, and it’s ready for sale.

    I had money at the time we recorded it, but that’s all gone now. James wanted to do his part so he gave me some seed money to get things started. I am totally grateful and it came at the perfect time, but I was bound and determined to get it going anyway. I think we can sell some product.

    I plan to focus on getting James some positive attention within fans of Parliament/Funkadelic – and I’ve been one of those myself since the ‘70s. There are all kinds of them all over the world and I bet with my own money that more than a few will remember James and want to buy one.

    I could be completely wrong and have it blow up in my face, but even if that happens it’s a lot better than doing nothing. There’s a lot more to do including getting a press release written up to be included with inquiries to media outlets, and then we can see if I was correct with my guess.

   I really hope this project does well not only for James, but financially for us both. We have survived this long, so a little longer might not be convenient but we at least are finally “standing on the verge of getting it on.” That’s a P-Funk reference by the way. That’s where the most paying customers will come from, at least I think so. I think we can book some live shows as well.  

Once upon a time called NOW...the 21st Century Enviromedian is back!

Once upon a time called NOW…the 21st Century Enviromedian is back!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

What’s An Enviromedian?

May 28, 2013

Sunday May 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

  Nobody appreciates quality entertainment more than an entertainer. I’m a loyal and rabid fan of anything well done, but obviously standup comedy holds a special place in my heart and always has. I loved it before I did it, and my love for it was what drew me to it. I never grow tired of it.

   I think that makes me a perfect candidate to be a producer of product for other comedians. I am a lifelong fan of the craft, and who better would there be to inject a set of ‘fresh eyes’ into what a comedian does to best showcase his or her talent to the public? I feel as if I’m uniquely qualified.

   I got my chance a while back when I produced a live DVD project for my friend James Wesley Jackson, aka ‘The Enviromedian’. This was a thrill on many levels. First, James used to tour with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic for years. That alone puts him in my Hall of Fame for life. Anyone who knows me knows I love the PFunk – even though nobody can figure out why.

   For whatever reason, I was sucked in as a kid when I first heard it on the radio and I still love it today. It’s well done entertainment and then some, and I respect the immense effort it must have taken to pull off such a huge project. James got to witness it first hand, and still be a comedian.

   Second, James is flat out one of THE sweetest human beings I have ever encountered. He has a laid back friendliness that shines on stage, and you can’t help but love the guy. He’s got his own unique style, and the first time I met him we hit it off instantly. Part of it was the fact that I knew of his pedigree with the PFunk, and another part was two fellow comedians sharing our histories.

   Whatever the case, I wanted to start producing other performers. I can think of more than just a handful who don’t have top quality recording projects out in my opinion, and that’s not meant to be an insult. Most of us are focused on our performing and just trying to stay alive that taking the time to crank out product never manifests itself. I know how hard it was to do my own products.

    I also suffer from a common ailment of not being able to sell my own stuff well, but can go all out with someone else’s. I believe in James as a comic and a person, and it was my pleasure to be the one to head up this project. It was recorded a couple of years ago now, but my hospitalization fiasco of 2011 has held it up along with other obstacles in my path. It’s been a long time coming.

   Now, I have FINALLY gotten my head out of Uranus and had 100 promo copies made to start sending them out. I don’t know exactly who to send them to, but I have them. I invested my last nickel getting this done, but I felt I owed it to James and myself to finish what I said I would do.

   Fellow comedian Mike Preston was the technical person, and I hired him to record the show at a place called ‘Asbury’s’ in the Chicago area. It’s a country club of all things, but James knocked it so far out of the park it might as well have been Carnegie Hall. It was a very special experience to be there that night, and for once the hot show was the one that got recorded. It came out great.

   I hired legendary PFunk artist Pedro Bell to do the cover art, and fans will be able to recognize it instantly. It took a long time to get this far, but I am proud to say I did it. Now I need to stretch it further and start selling some product. Not only that, I’d love to get a chance to produce several more comedians I’m a fan of. Names that come to mind are talented guys like Bill Gorgo, Jimmy McHugh, Jim Wiggins, Tim Walkoe, Tim Northern and so many more. George Clinton produced a lot of music acts beside his own. I’d be delighted to do the same with a variety of comedy acts.

The Enviromedian is BACK!

The Enviromedian is BACK!

James Wesley Jackson

James Wesley Jackson

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.