The Ramone- A One Man Tribute Band

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Book Review: The Ramones- “An American Band”

Gino who is the Dee Dee in Sedated- The World’s Greatest Ramones Tribute has a bunch of Ramones books and is letting me borrow them
I thought I’d tell you about the books I have read so far but I want to start with  the first Ramones Book I owned which is
“AN AMERICAN BAND”
Amrican Band Cover

This book was published May 15th 1993 by St. Martin’s Griffin and was written by Jim Bessman “in association with The Ramones”
That last part is very important because that means there is no real dirt in this book
People nowadays are spoiled by all of the in-depth stories they get from old rock stars who don’t have anything to lose anymore and don’t give a shit
This book was released 3 years before the Ramones would break up

Looking back on reading this book in 93 and knowing what I know now, I would say this book reads like a 200 page music magazine article
In a literal sense because the verbiage sounds like they’re trying to win you over
It covers all of the important landmarks of their career and provides all the important Moment/Facts & Figures/Concert Dates etc…
But it is no in depth expose like the books we would get much later on

We take it for granted now that books are pretty much oral histories but the writing of this book is very obvious in its’ intention
Not to say that they don’t address the flaws of the band, like Dee Dee’s drug issues and Marky’s alcohol issues and they talk a lot about how hard it was to keep going after  countless disappointments etc…
But they don’t even come close to hinting about the Joey/Linda/Johnny situation, nor do they talk about Joey’s maddening OCD or hygiene issues
They do hint at Johnny being a hardass and his distaste for anything non-American but they barely scratch the surface of what we now know was his history of bullying and physical abuse
Richie is not trashed but he wasn’t exactly painted as their friend

This book basically sets all of the parameters for the standard folklore of the band
So don’t go looking for anything juicy here

If there is any dirt it is mostly on Dee Dee
There’s the story of 53rd and 3rd, of him accidentally breaking into a laundromat instead of a grocery store, the rocky relationship with Connie, the Dee Dee King phase etc…
But other than that, it is pretty sanitized

I have to go back again to the time period of 1993 and address the fact that an average Ramones fan wouldn’t have had access to much information outside of this book
I have tried to see if there were any other books about The Ramones that dated before “An American Band” but I did not find any (so if you know of any, please tell me)
It sounds like such an old man thing to say “back before the internet” but you only got decent information on bands in 1993 in magazines like SPIN and the underground stuff
Grunge had just caught on and we had not gotten to the “Every Grunge Band agrees that The Ramones Are Important” phase, which means that MTV wasn’t real enthused about The Ramones either
By this time, they had put out “Mondo Bizarro” they may as well have called this one “Adios Amigos” because I pretty much quit buying their albums after that
My last live Ramones show was the Bomb Factory on Sunday March 20th 1994
I still listened to The Ramones on a regular basis but I was on to other things by then

This book is not going to tell you anything that you don’t already know but it is an interesting read nonetheless
I would say it is a novelty read at best

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The Ramone 1 Year Anniversary @ Rockers v.s. Mods (and beyond)-
What started out as an off-hand idea to spice up my busking activities has evolved into a successfully executed concept
I’m not sure the exact date when I first formed the idea but my initial post was in August of 2015
https://wordpress.com/stats/day/rockula.wordpress.com
I don’t consider it official until April 1st 2016 when I played my first gig at The Underpass
Since than I have played a handful of gigs and tweaked the concept
My first shows were the entire 1st album but I would soon generate a new set of songs with better video and audio quality
My current set works fine but I need to expand my library
The second reason I want to create new backing videos is that I learned more about lighting and the relation to Green Screen

One of my biggest obstacles was not having a car
This severely limited my ability to get out and hustle gigs
I new I had friends and family that would let me use their vehicle to do a gig (and have) but getting a gig is not something you can do from your desk
That car situation has been rectified

The money I made to pay for the car came from playing drums in a Ramones Tribute band called Sedated
It has been fun getting paid to play Ramones drums and the gigs keep coming
As of this posting, I played several out of town gigs in the past month and will be playing San Antonio on Saturday
My Ramones chops have improved greatly and I had to alter my playing style dramatically in order to play the parts correctly
All the props to the guys from Sedated

The future?
There’s the new setlist that I am cooking up that will eventually become a full Karaoke library and then there’s the plans to travel nationally as well as abroad
The size and portability of this performance will make it perfect for non-club events like conventions and private events
I am quite positive about the ability of The RAMONE to become a working concept that will get me out and about
Come see me at Rockers V.s. Mods bike rally
Dubliner, Dallas Tx Sunday April 2nd at 2pm

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I had a great time playing 3 Links on Friday and Ozzie Rabbits on Saturday
I was using a new camera and haven’t figured out the settings for low light, hence the washed out video screen. Here’s a selection from the show

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This should be a fun lineup with The Ramone teaming up with a Tenacious D Tribute!
Plus, It’s FREE!
The Ramone @ Ozzie Rabbits

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The Ramone with Responsible Johnny @ 3 LInks

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After reading a million articles about The Ramones and all of the little interesting details about them, I have noticed that no one has noticed the similarities between the Ramones “I Wanna Live” video and the video for “Wanted- Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. People told me I was crazy and that I was just imagining things. I let it go for a long time but the idea popped up into my head lately. So, thanks to editing technology, I will present my case here and let you decide. This has to be deliberate


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BLOG: A Veteran’s guide to dealing with the Cultural Appropriation of The Ramones
ramones-1


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BLOG: The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 5 (accidental prequel) – “Carbona Not Glue”
back-carbona


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BLOG: The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 4- “Go Home Ann”
bonzo-12-inch-single


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BLOG: The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 3- “Can’t Say Anything Nice”
cant-say-anything-nice


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BLOG: The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 2- “Smash You”
smash-you-street-fight


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BLOG: The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”

street-fighting


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My response to the article “Why Road To Ruin is the best Ramones Album”
road-to-ruin

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10-16-2016: The Busking The Ramone Fri Oct 15 2016-

There were two different factors that determined if I was going to be able to busk on Friday
1- There was rain in the forecast but it was done by the morning
2- The allergen count was in the 5s instead of the usual 11s (the highest is 12)

Thanks to my friend Laura, I got a ride over to the East Sieede and got to Ellum in plenty of time
My biggest anxieties in past busking experiences has been that I might not get a good spot
The drums are a very hard instrument to adapt to the street because it is hard to pack them all up into one unit. This usually means a couple of trips, which also means that you need to find a parking space fairly close to your spot
This means endless laps around the block and/or hanging out in your car until you see someone vacate YOUR spot

None of the issues come up with The Busking The Ramone because I can carry the whole setup in one trip
My first attempt took place over by 3 Links during the car show so I set my sights on that spot
I had walked through that area and had seen another busker taking that spot, so I got there fairly early
This is usually no issue with the drums because I can play all night but playing the guitar and singing is different
Especially the guitar because my callouses are in the developmental stages where they are getting rough but not enough to take hold up to playing all night
I started playing at around 9pm and didn’t mind that the crowd was thin
This just gave me a chance to run the set list and make lots of mistakes
After going through the set, I discovered 2 mistakes
1- I got there too early and never could have lasted until 1 or 2 am
2- I left the screen on my phone up and it burned half my battery life just doing the one set
I managed to keep the phone screen dark and squeezed enough battery life out to last until I was done
The Alesis TransActive PA/Amp has 3 lights for a battery indicator and I only used up 1 light
I also put Duracells in my distortion pedal and had no worries about that
I managed to play until 12 Midnight before I started to lose feeling in my fingertips and gave up
If I had waited an hour longer to start, I would have hit my stride during peak time
A lot of people saw me but I only managed to make about $10 in tips

CONCLUSION-
The spot I picked is very busy but I did not get much in tips
My amp is only 40 watts and I had a hard time competing with the band playing through the open patio of 3 Links, as well as traffic and crowd noise
It was also a bit hard to move around
If I expect to do well in that spot, I need more volume
I will try a different spot next time
Also, I like having the screen of my phone on while playing the tracks so I can keep my place
I need to get one of those portable USB power devices
All in all, I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to drill the 30+ songs I have already recorded
I am getting stronger fingers and thicker callouses
The small amount of tips is only an inconvenience
Overall, it was an OK night
Not bad but not great
My next target will be Denton

10-7-2016: Allergies and Drum Parts-

I am just going to have to deal with the fact that I cannot go out and perform as The Busking The Ramone until my allergies calm down. I have tried every type of allergy medicine available and none of it works enough for me to be able to stand out on the street and sing. I need to create something with all of this time so it is time to record drum parts.The current set is the “Hits”. There are roughly 30 songs that will work on the street and 20 of them have video parts recorded for projection. My biggest problem is that they are from different sessions and have distinctly different sounding mixes and volume levels. Since I can’t leave the studio for 5 minutes without sneezing violently, I will have to just stay inside and do a marathon session of drum parts. In order to have some fresh enthusiasm, I need to start with tracks that I have not recorded in any previous set lists. The entire 1st album has been covered as well as the most well known songs up until Too Tough To Die. Even then, Durango 95 is the only track that made it. This means that I am going to start with “Road To Ruin” Of course,”Sedated” is on the current set list but what about the other cuts on that album as well as the albums after that? There are songs that don’t make it onto the greatest hits or even the live set, what songs would you like to hear? Is there a deep cut that you always wanted to see perform live?

9-4-2016: The very first edition of “The Busking the RAMONE”-

I had originally intended to try out the busking concept last weekend but I was offered a gig at 3 Links instead
Naturally, I took the inside gig and it went over well
This time, I had prepared 32 tracks for the street and they didn’t have to be perfect EQ
3 Links was very kind to allow me the use of an electrical outlet and i thank them very much

Normally, I wouldn’t show up until an our or so before sunset because busking in the hot sun is extremely draining
In fact, I think I might have gotten heat stroke today but it was mild

I showed up early because of the Invasion Car Show and did not know what I was going to encounter
I knew that Elm Street was going to be blocked off but I didn’t anticipate that people would have those portable open tent like thingies
People weren’t happy to see me loading a bunch of equipment between the two tents just down the street from 3 Links
My second misconception was that all of the bands playing the car show were going to be at Trees
It turned out that they were playing the parking lot of Trees, which adds way too much noise to the environment
I opted to wait until the final band was off the stage to start playing but it was still hot at that time of the day (I need to start paying attention to times)
Keep in mind that I have already been exerting myself in the hot sun and getting shit figured out since about 3:30pm

Meanwhile, “Joey” from SEDATED- the world’s greatest Ramones tribute shows up in full gear and wants to sing
I tell him that he can sing the whole set if he likes and he pretty much did, except for the time he went to get a beer
This turned out to be a very good stroke of luck because this meant I didn’t have to sing a lot in the heat and he saved me some hassle

I would say that most of the performance went well
I recorded video of the performance with “Joey” but turned the camera off as I went through the set at different points, so that I can get used to playing a request on the fly
I didn’t feel the need to document all of this because there are going to be plenty of busking performances in the future to record
I am exploring the option of live-streaming my busking session but we shall see….
My outdoor EQ skills leave a lot to be desired and it was hard to hear different parts of the music, especially the vocals
My brain gets distracted by all the things happening around me and I flub some chords or forget a word here and there but I am prepared to hammer that out with repetition
All of that will change with experience as well
Other than that, I can’t find much fault in today’s busk

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ADJUSTMENTSThe first and most obvious adjustment will be the time of day
I will say that I did pretty well on tips and managed to catch the spilloff from across the street but I know that a normal busk in Texas in the summertime should start just around sundown (you know how it is in Texas in the summertime)
Night time is prime time in Ellum and you can extend your busking time because you aren’t drained by the sun before you even set up

The second improvement is the obvious amount of repetition I need to get my physical stamina up as well as my technical prowess
This is one of the principal reasons for me to busk
Another positive aspect of busking is that you get to fuck up and it doesn’t have as much impact
You will be playing that song again in about an hour, so it doesn’t have as much finality
Or you can play it in 10 minutes from now, because foot traffic will keep your audience constantly changing

As I mentioned, I took 2 more laps around the set by myself but omitted a few songs
I was going to take a break, maybe get something to eat but I started to feel queasy
It was then that I realized I probably shouldn’t push it
I had a huge ego about my physical prowess because of my drum busking experience
Many of my drum excursions on the street would last at least 5 or 6 hours if not longer
But I am a seasoned drummer and it was mostly after dark
Add to that the fact that I was getting sloppy because my fingertips were getting numb
I am playing hunt and peck on the keyboard with the middle finger on my left hand (how very “Manson” of me) because I still cant feel the tip of my index finger
It feels like when you burn your finger but with no pain, just disconnection
My right hand is no issue because it only comes in contact with a pick
Plus, I have decades of repetition built into my wrists from drumming, so I am good on the right
My ego tells me that Sunday night is technically Saturday because of Labor day on Monday and I could busk again tomorrow night but I seriously better not push it

*BONUS BUSKING TIP
Always bring hydration to the street and try to avoid drinking large amounts of caffeine or alcohol
Try to avoid anything that dehydrates you
Plus, you wanna try to stay sober because a situation on the street can turn South quickly and you are going to need your wits about you
The main reason I lasted as long as I did today was because I froze a half gallon jug of water the night before and kept taking sips off the ice runoff

I won’t be busking again next weekend because I have a tourung band coming in on the 9th and I am going to see Kraftwerk on the 10TH!
My first ever Kraftwerk show!
See you soon!
R!

Here’s the video I recorded

4-8-2016: THE RAMONE’S First Gig-

I came up with the idea of THE RAMONE basically out of necessity and a lot of resentment towards other musicians as well as the music loving public
It started as a joke, saying to myself, “What’s the most arrogant thing I can do as a musician to tell people I am sick of waiting on everyone to catch up?”
It was a way to say “Fuck all of you musicians don’t want to be in my band or have me in your band, so I will just create one myself”
My outlook has changed considerably since then but the basic idea stuck in my head
The next step was to figure out the “easiest” way to start the ball rolling
Since I started playing guitar and bass by listening to The Ramones, then I would create my own tribute band by myself
It took me about 4 months to get to my first show and here is the story of the week leading up to and the day of the show

I had booked the show after finishing my initial experiments with the concept so that I would have a deadline to meet, forcing me to work more diligently on the concept
Everything went just fine and I had about a week left before the show
I was going to spend a few days visiting the folks in Florida and would be back 2 days before the gig
There was still editing work to do but I could finish that up in Fla. and come back with 2 days to fine tune the edits so that the were perfectly on the 1,2,3,4
The first roadblock was that I had brought my editing computer but had forgotten the power supply
It didn’t help that I used a lot of battery during various sit and wait moments
My step mother let me load some temporary editing software on her computer but it added extra editing time in order to eliminate the watermark that appeared on the first parts of each video
Besides, I would be back Wed. night and would have 2 clear days to fix things

Wed. day comes and our flight gets cancelled
The cheap-ass airline waited until the last second to announce the flight had been cancelled and the majority of people in the line found out before us
They had all booked the only flight out on Thursday
We managed to get a flight out on Friday at 1pm
This meant I was to arrive in Dallas at around 5pm
I was supposed to be on stage at 9pm

*As a side note, I had been in contact with the promoter and was told I could back out if things didn’t work out

Still, the videos were ready to go by Thursday night and I was confident I could load them onto my Video Sampler and have a couple of run through-s before I headed to the show
That was the plan as I got to the studio and had to deal with things that were not addressed while I was gone
People asking me for this and that was adding to my anxiety as I tried to get my shit together for the show
But that was nothing compared to the panic I experienced when I tried to load the somewhat finished videos onto my Video Sampler and nothing happened
I tired it several times on both computers and…….nothing

After wasting an entire hour, I decided to use Video/DJ as a backup and started rehearsing the set
That’s when I plugged in my guitar and heard a godawful noise that indicated my ground wire had come loose from the jack
I figured I would just have to step on the pedal in between songs to turn off the distortion and minimize the buzz

Luckily, the promoter had arranged to have me go on last instead of first
Everybody shifted down one spot and I was given extra time to prepare
I packed up and headed for the Underpass

There were things that did go right, like Dana Buck showing up with my T-Shirts and stickers
At least I got to set up merch as I watched the other bands
Then it was my turn to get on stage
The sound man was having a hard time getting my signals and setup took way too long
The 15 or so people who stuck around to see me had dwindled to 4 before I actually made it on stage
To make matters worse, my guitar had completely crapped out and it took too long to figure out to go with the backup guitar that Mario loaned me

I started the set and it was rickety
I had planned to rifle through the set by pushing one button to per song on the sampler but ended spending precious seconds fading back and forth on the Virtual DJ program
Even then, I neglected to fade the video over and there were moments where the screen was just me standing there with my mouth open during half the song

If you look at the gig by the numbers, it was a fucking train wreck disaster
I was distracted the whole time which affected my playing
The presentation was completely ruined by having to operate a DJ mixer by hand while simultaneously playing the guitar and singing
Barely anyone stuck around to see it anyways

You’d think that I would have gone home and spent a few days hiding in my pitch black bedroom, nursing my wounded ego and shredded self confidence
However, that wasn’t the case
I decided to look at the gig as a whole instead of concentrating on all of the fragments
The people who did stay knew there were mistakes but were more interested in what I did right and enjoyed the show anyways
But the biggest, boldest mark in the “win” column was that I saw it through and finished it
I had been given the option to back out and cancel almost a week before the show
The same applied on Wed. when my flight got cancelled
The same applied the very day of the show
And yet I kept myself as calm as possible and pulled out an ugly win
But it still counts in the history books as a win
There is video footage and I will get to it, but it was painful to watch at the time and is going to take a lot of editing to make it palatable

This was just an initial experiment
The material I prepared for this show will be replaced with new material, produced from scratch and benefiting from all multitude of mistakes I made along the way
Look for a new show with all the popular hits that you know from The Ramones

Hope to see you out there soon
Buy a shirt while you’re at it

7-30-2015:UPDATE-
I am not sure what has motivated me to finally move forward on my artistic plans but there is more than just a surge of optimism this time
There are quite a few concepts that I have been juggling in my head and it was time to figure out which one would garner the most attention and which one would require the least amount of preparation
I settled on one concept called “The One Man Tribute Band” and it would be called “The Ramone”

RAMONE LOGO 1
To force myself into action, I bought a Mostrite shaped guitar and painted it white

IMG_1619

The setup will be me playing guitar and singing while I project video of me playing the drum and bass parts

IMG_1615

I have built a pretty solid set that should appeal to as many Ramones fans as possible and am drilling it every day on guitar, drums and bass

Today was my day off which meant that I didn’t have to worry about getting enough sleep. I have started to drink coffee and I thought I was being really intense by drinking it at 10pm!
Last night was a great burst of positive energy but I was all Ramones out so I started messing around with the new Multiple Man concept
The biggest obstacle that I have encountered with my video sampler is that there is a very quick but very noticeable lag after you trigger the video
So much that I was having to alter my timing
The SPDS triggers instantly and you hit your samples “on the one” which means that you trigger the loop exactly the same time that the next part comes up
If you’re late, it shows and is the looping equivalent of missing your spot
That’s the danger of looping that makes it more than just “pressing Play and playing along”
When you trigger the video sampler, you have to hit it on the “and” of four
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 AND 1 etc…
Hitting something a half beat ahead of the next riff is really hard and I make the drum parts hard enough
That delay is called “latency”

Meat Pie tried to figure out the latency issue and so did David Lee
There were many different forums that hinted abut the problem but none of them offered any concrete solutions that would help us
That’s when I hit on a compromise
I separated the audio and video in my video editor and then did an experiment
I loaded the audio onto the SPDS because I knew it would play with no latency and then I started trimming single frames from the video clip and loaded several versions onto the P-10
The very first clip was the trick and I figured out that the latency was only one frame of video
My solution for now is to host the audio on the SPDS and the Video on the p-10 with one frame removed from the beginning of every video

It has taken me months to address this issue because I thought it could be solved by correcting the machine
I am still not sure if the machine can even be corrected but i couldn’t wait any longer so I went and tried the frame trimming idea and it worked
My only issue is that I lose the feature of being able to include audio in my video looping but I have another compromise that may work as well
My next problem is trying to figure out how to remotely trigger the A/B looper and reverse mode

My mood was very good and i was very proud of myself so I wound up playing all of my material and trying to figure out how to get it to conform to my new structure
Unfortunately, I am paying for it today because my joints are all sore after months of near inactivity

The next step is to start booking shows for both Multiple Man and The Ramone

In video news, I am editing a lot of old camera tapes and VHS in order to upload them to my various Youtube channels
I have already uploaded some Autonomy shows as well as “Psychedelic Glue Sniffin’ Hillbillies” and an autograph session by M.O.D at Underground records in 1988

I am aware that I have been neglecting my blog but I have been climbing out of a “Lack of motivation” hole and need to get in a routine again

The Ramone Announcement

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