Now on Itunes and Spotify and Facebook!
I’m a little behind on blog updates on the projects we’ve been working on. I haven’t had much time to write lately, as creating and producing the aformentioned projects have kicked my ass in a multitude of ways. I also have a beautifully chubby four month old baby named Elijah, who has basically not slept since he entered this world. Yeah, that’s right I played the baby card. There is no chance at a normal life with a screaming colicy baby. I’ve got good money that says the biggest bloggers and writers are single and without kids. Just a hunch. Yes, Andrew Sullivan can amazingly pull off 100 brilliant posts a day with his eyes closed, but he only has to take care of two fat beagles. I digress.
First project for the Fall has been the release of our hip hop comedy track Wine Country. The response has to this song has been overwhelming. We got awesome love from my hometown paper the SF Chronicle, the Huffington Post, and SFist to name drop a few. I had no idea people loved drinking wine and acting like gangstas so much. But it has been a great feeling to hear how much everyone loves the track, and has been a great feeling to represent for Northern Cali.
I’m originally from San Fran, but lived in NYC for a while, and go back and forth often. On a recent trip back to NYC, we were at a bar in Brooklyn, and this rap group onstage were spitting a tune, and would not stop talking about Brooklyn. About two minutes through the tune - they had said “Brooklyn” about 275 times - I snapped. I yelled back “San Francisco!..Represent”..Another friend yelled “Oakland, son!” And so we carried on. Then we started to be dumb and esoteric, shouting back wine country cities and hamlets. “Sonoma, mofo!” “Glenn Ellen for days!”...”Healdsburg. Holla”
And the idea for Wine Country was born. I thought it would be hilarious for a hard core hip hop group to represent for Sonoma and Napa and Northern California.
I met up with my boy and producing partner Taylor Ryan out of Brooklyn to work on a beat. We thought the harder the beat, the funnier the track would be when these dudes were rapping about wine. We settled on a track that had a kind of early 90’s rap vibe, a la early Snoop, and Dre. A track you would want to bump while you cruised around Compton lookin hard. We nailed it.
Then came the flow. A big group of us sat around, listened to the beat and came up with ridiculous rhymes. I’d already written the 1st verse, which we set the beat to, and then I fleshed the song out with the funniest stuff from the session. Lots of great lines didn’t make the cut...perhaps we’ll have to do a Wine Country remix? Then it was back to SF to nail down our hop hop crew.
I wanted people for the track who really represented for the Bay Area and Northern California. I picked myself for the first emcee for purely selfish reasons. Next up was Jairo Vargas of the Bayonics, one of California’s best bands. Jairo is an unbelievable singer and emcee, and you should check out Bayonics when they are in your hood. After Jairo, I called Vallejo’s Moe Green. This guy can spit rhymes like nobody’s business, and we were luckily enough that he was into some comedy for this track. The session was recorded at Gulch Alley studios in SF. In was an incredibly fun session; we laughed the entire time. Rapping about wine. Redonk.
We shot the video for Wine Country in San Fran and in Sonoma. One of the highlights of the video is the hilarious Wine Country hip-hop girls, played by Allison Page and Ally Johnson of Killing My Lobster fame. The brilliantly funny ladies were not available the day we shot in Sonoma, so we shot their part the day before in Golden Gate park.
The main part of the video was shot in Sonoma. I would have loved to shoot all over Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino, but time just didn’t permit. So we filmed all around Sonoma - the square downtown in front of City Hall, Bartholamew Winery, Ravenswood, Buena Vista, and Sebastiani.
Although on surface this is just a silly comedy tune, I hope it captures a little of the magic that is this place we call Northern California.
Enjoy the video and the song! Don’t be the last loser on your block to get the track, download it on Itunes immediately!
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Now on Itunes and Spotify and Facebook!
What a ride it has been with this little project of ours, Sex Drugs and Jazz. It all started - like all series do - with the first episode, “The Chronicles Of Neptune.” When I started putting the script together for the Pilot I knew I wanted to make it a believable musicians story, and include a lot of the places I frequented in New York. I wanted the show to feel like you were actually there with the characters, getting down and dirty on the L.E.S. I based the first season of the show around the genius stoner Neptune, mainly because I thought that he would just be a really fun character to write. Neptune is like a lot of people - seriously gifted in some areas, and just dumb as ass in others.
The story begins as viewers meet Neptune, who has just spent the night with a pretty young thing. We see him scramble to try and play for change so he can take his lady out for brunch, but winds up getting smacked down by another street musician trying to get his corner back. This is one of my favorite openings in the first season because it was really true to my experience - there were plenty of times during our first year living in New York, that we were playing in the streets in the snow for change to get dinner. And I loved every minute of it - well maybe not the freezing my balls off part, but in retrospect, I totally loved it. And there were definitely times our friendly group of musicians were verbally and near physically attacked for being on another musician’s corner. Good times.
In the next scene, we see how Neptune interacts in the real world, at his office job. It doesn’t end well, another storyline drawn from life as my entire life as a filmmaker and musician has been a battle to balance multiple jobs at once. We meet Neptunes corporate roommate Mitchell Rock played by Sean Hartofilis, who basically is the antithesis of everything Neptune believes in - living together for convenience sake, a very New York experience.
Netpune’s best friend Chris Wang is always there to rescue his bud. Chris is an engineer, scientist, consultant to NASA, and also a major stoner like Neptune. The Pilot episode also introduces us to an intimidating but teddy bear of a drug dealer Dino - another character ripped ripped straight from the streets of New York; there was a pot dealer lots of musicians knew about that was pretty bi-polar. One day he’d be delivering weed smiling laughing, the next day screaming cursing and intimidating. Another funny side note on the role. Originally I hired an actor...Forget his name as we didn’t end up using him as the day of the shoot he didn’t show for call time. Doesn’t answer his phone, nothing. Later I hear the actor I hired to be our drug dealer got arrested.... Oh sweet irony. By happenstance, working on set that day was great friend and actor Rob W. Miller. He jumped in, grabbed a script, and in about 15 minutes, we had a pitch perfect Dino.
The second to last scene in the Pilot is Neptune meeting his new love interest Julie Danes played by the fantastic Tory Dube. I wanted to shoot this to be in places I frequented. We lived on the border of Chinatown, Financial District, and the Lower East Side. me and the lady used to take lovely walks all up and down the pungent East River where people referred to as Two Bridges. It’s a beautiful area just up from the Southstreet seaport in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. We spent many a days sitting on the benches and staring out over to Brooklyn. I thought it would be great to have Neptune meet his lady here.
On the technical side of things: The Pilot and series was shot by my brother from another mother and brilliant DP Joe Gabriel. Neptune is played by the quirky and delightful Ashley Springer. The Pilot intro was shot in Williamsburg, and the exterior in Chinatown. The Office scene in midtown Manhattan 38th and 8th Ave. Neptunes apartment interior is in Williamsburg Brooklyn at South 9th and Bedford. Dino’s apartment is shot on the Upper East Side on 91st and Lexington. Neptune and Julie’s scene was shot on Catherine St and South Street under the FDR.
Anyhow, I may have out nerded you with all the details, but perhaps some of it will be interesting to you. Furthermore I highly suggest you get up immediately, grab a bottle of something with alcohol, go to our YouTube page, and watch the Pilot episode and see what I am yammering about.
A huge thanks as well as I talk about the Pilot to all of the cast, crew and friends of this project who made this shoot possible. A huge shout out to the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television of New York.
The above pic was Neptune (Ashley Springer) playing guitar at sunset in Washington Square Park for the intro to the show. Below is the full Pilot episode “The Chronicles of Neptune.”