May 2009 issue of Mixture Magazine, featuring Jay Giannone, Dick Doherty, Sarah Blacker, and Timo Shanko.
MIXTURE MAGAZINE M a y 2 0 0 9 Exclusive Interview with Jay Giannone M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E Featured... 6 2 Jay Giannone Known for his roles in The Departed and Gone Baby Gone, Jay Giannone talks with Mixture about how he got started as an actor, his inspiration, the real life Entourage, and his newest film project, Scalpers. M a y 2 0 0 9 28 38 50 62 Sarah Blacker Singer/ songwriter Sarah Blacker tells her story and her inspiration. Dick Doherty "the Godfather of Boston comedy" shares how he got into comedy, his inspiration, and how the comedy scene has changed since he started 46 years ago. Film noir Original series by Jaymes Leavitt. timo Shanko Mixture interviews this savvy saxophone player. 3 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E About Mixture Mixture Magazine is all about inspiration. Produced by Jaymes Leavitt, Mixture uncovers the inspiration of today's leading artists. Mixture Magazine can be found online at www.mixturemagazine.com. Credits a MaGazinE By Jaymes Leavitt art DirEctOr/ DESiGnEr Sarah Rowlands PhOtOGraPhEr Jaymes Leavitt 4 M a y 2 0 0 9 5 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E Jay 6 M a y 2 0 0 9 Giannone From the Streets to the Screen "hey, how you doin? Federal government witness protection program, suspect number one Jay Giannone how you doin'..." Photography by Jaymes Leavitt 7 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E "there came a point in my life when i had to kind of get away from the old crowd and reinvent myself. to go full steam ahead with my acting career... i wanted to break out and do my own thing." 8 M a y 2 0 0 9 hey, how you doin? Federal government witness protection program, suspect number one Jay Giannone how you doin' i'm gonna have to decline the witness protection program and ah how you doin' i'm not guilty.. So, Jay, tell me about some of these new projects that you're doing. there's a couple that are current right now. i have this film called Interpretation... it's short film... go to www.interpretationmovie.com and check it out. it has all the official selections of all the film festivals we were invited to... you know it's hard to even get into film festivals... it's like 5 or 6 thousand submissions. Sometimes 2500 submissions for some of these very large film festivals, and were getting in and were winning them. So i have this short film that is amazing and it's getting me out there a lot. it's across the country and it's been in all these film festivals... it's winning a lot of awards and it's getting in a lot of magazines... were getting noticed and that's a project that i'm really proud of right now. this other project that i'm working on is called What Doesn't Kill You and stars Ethan hawk, Mark ruffelo, Donnie Wahlberg and amanda Peet, and Brian Goodman who is an actor and also wrote and directed the film. the film premiers in Boston at the Film Festival on april 17. that was a wonderful project to work on. Brian Goodman, the director is a friend of mine who believes in me and asked me to play the role of Matt. i was excited. i play this crack smoking nervous kid from the neighborhood that sets up drug dealers to get robbed. it's a really intense film. it was great watching it in the theater. So those 2 projects and then my baby of course... Scalpers (www.scalpersthemovie.com) which is a project that i wrote directed and produced. i play the lead in Scalpers. it is a 9 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E really cool project that i am very proud of. it's about the ticket scalper community and how the irish mob is trying to infiltrate and get into the community and make the money and you know its full of surprises. Drugs, fights... just the real stuff that goes on in the street. Did you shoot this film yourself? yeah, i already shot it and made it with the help of a great cast and small crew. it's done, so were in postproduction right now and were just finishing up the music for it. it's been a long and drawn out process considering i funded it myself. i wrote like 10 songs for it and i have invited other musical artists to join me. i have songs from Slaine and iLL Bill and La coca nostra. there are a few other local rap artists and national rap artists, so it's going to be hip hop oriented and have a hip hop theme to it. it has an original score by Gordan Michael, a composer who studied in Prague. it's my masterpiece and i am really proud of this film. i've been working on it for over 2 years. cost me a grip of money... spent about $50,000 on it... all the money that i made on The Departed, Gone Baby Gone and What Doesn't Kill You. i saved my money and i made this movie because it was my dream to play a lead role. i don't want to wait for hollywood to cast me and say ok now its time for you to play a lead role because we need a 68-year-old guy. This must be a lot of work for you. yeah, you hit the nail on the head! it's like all i do is work. truthfully, honestly, there's no playtime for me. the first few years in hollywood were a lot of fun... i ran around with Mark Wahlberg... i lived with Mark for a while and we are 10 M a y 2 0 0 9 really close friends... we had ups and downs but don't all good friends.... he's a brother you know and you know there was a lot of partying and a lot of fun and there came a point in my life when i had to kind of get away from the old crowd and reinvent myself. to go full steam ahead with my acting career, rather than being like the friend of a guy who is very successful or hanging with a crew of guys that compete against one another... cause like i didn't want to be in that realm anymore but i wanted to stay friends. i wanted to break out and do my own thing so i started to learn how to run Final cut Pro (editing software)... i learned the producing game... i read a lot of scripts... i felt i could write something cool... and that if i believed in myself as an actor. i'm inspired by a lot of directors like Martin Scorsese, Marc rocco, and David O russell. Basically i just said to myself, i'm going to write a movie and i'm going to play the lead in it. i would have to produce it and then i thought to myself hey i'd direct it too... and i did. So i'm really excited to show it. i am going do a premier like either last week of May or June depending on my schedule. i'm going to premier it here in the Boston area. i'm really excited about it and i've worked very hard on this. i'm always constantly looking for my next movie project. i found this one that i'm going to audition for... it's all i do... man this business is such a bitch!! and it's so competitive that you really don't have time to play around, so i look at those past years as you know running around with the entourage... it was as lot of fun and i wouldn't trade it for anything because those are my experiences and that's where i learned about the town and that's where i got to meet a lot of people but at the same time its like... those days are behind me now. it's time to go full steam ahead and work on my career, to make it as an actor and get recognized... since i've turned it over, i've made 7 movies in a row. all studio pictures and that i get recognized for. i really just want to get recognized for my work. i recently did a play... a musical called Chicago Club Rum Boogie... 11 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E first time i've ever done theatre and you know my mum is a theatrical actress... i grew up watching her on stage. So i flew her out to La and she got to see me perform on stage. it was an incredible experience for me to look on the other side of the stage and see my mother out there when my whole life i've been back here watching my mum on stage. it was unbelievable! you know my whole life i've been sitting back and watching my mum on stage. i'm very inspired by her. She's my inspiration and she's the one that got me into all this and then all the sudden i'm up on the stage doing my scenes and i just happen to look out and i'm like holy shit its a reverse role... it was incredible... it was really cool, yeah. How old were you when you first started to really want to get into acting? i did a play when i was in grade school at St. Mary's here in South Boston and i wasn't really interested in acting. i was more interested in dancing so i danced. i danced with a group called The Floor Lords for a little while. i was off and on... in and out of the group because you know i was a white kid break dancing in Boston in the 80s and i wasn't as good as them, but i was good. there were no white kids really doing it like me except for Dave Shallow, who was the best white boy in the city, and my friend Joe Kind from Southie, and Mark Wahlberg, but he is from Dorchester. it was an all black and hispanic crew so when they saw me dance and perform they said "Whoa!! this kid's pretty hot." a kid named Lino, who i'm a still friend with, was very inspiring to me. he and a couple other guys invited me into the group so i was like 1 of 3 white kids in this group that eventually had like 25 Black and hispanic kids in the group at the time of a race war in the 80s. it was a great experience to be part of a multicultural group and organization and to be able to do something during a 12 M a y 2 0 0 9 "My whole life i've been sitting back and watching my mum on stage. She's my inspiration and she's the one that got me into all this and then all the sudden i'm up on the stage doing my scenes and i just happen to look out and i'm like holy shit its a reverse role... it was incredible..." 13 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E time of race wars and inequality. to be a guy from South Boston who represented that chapter of that hip hop community when hip-hop was rising... was an honor and gratifying. it was a tough time for me in Boston growing up, going to public schools and stuff like that. i went to St. Mary's and when my dad was murdered, my life changed, i left St. Mary's and went to public school in columbia Point and i integrated with everyone there. i started to learn about hip-hop, break dancing, and rapping then and fell in love with the culture. i also danced for years. i wrote and produced songs and i did you know shows all over Boston. i eventually got a record deal with Destiny records, with my group called urban attitude. i was also modeling at like age 17. i got started out from converse they found me on the street and were like can you come in and meet with John huet and i was like who's that who are you... world renowned... John huet discovered me i was the chuck taylor guy for converse for like a year. i then did J.crew catalogues with him, which is a big thing. i did a Gatorade print ad with Michael Jordan... the list goes on. John huet found me and hooked me up... found a kid from the projects who was ignorant, didn't know anything, and all he knew was that i was a good kid...not a bad looking kid...and he just gave me job after job after job. here i am you know... making 500 to 1000 dollars modeling for John huet... who i had no idea at the time was this world renowned photographer shooting for Sports Illustrated and all these big magazines... and putting me on advertisements with like guys like Michael Jordan. i had no idea what was going on, but i was just a good quiet kid who loved to dance and rap and do my thing and it seemed like the business was calling me. i got called in for the modeling gig then i got called in to do a commercial... and i didn't even try. My mother was like "Jay its calling you" and i was like "you think so?" i wanted to be a rap artist so i mean my dream kinda came true when i ran around with Mark and i wrote some songs and DJ'd with 14 M a y 2 0 0 9 him and performed with him. i traveled to Europe on tour with Mark, and it was amazing. While i was hanging with Mark i got invited to audition for a movie called Southie starring rose McGowan, amanda Peet, Donnie Wahlberg, John Shea... and directed by John Shea... it was just a bunch of cool people. i auditioned and they offered me the role and i was like... wow. Jimmy cummings, the writer, producer and actor gave me my shot. he knew i was a dancer, rapper and performer. i just got a role in a big movie without even trying. i just thought of all these people i know that auditioned day in and day out and worked their asses off and they never got anything. i was at the right place at the right time. So you started to get into it... doing your calling? i did, man i did... and after doing the commercials and all that modeling work and you know that rap game was really tough when i was in it. there were no white rappers at the time... this was before Eminem. Mark Wahlberg was like this pop icon but like not really taken seriously in the gangster rap community. here i was this kid from the projects... from the street... this kid that's been in and out of trouble but a good kid... that had the same stories as any other kid out there but for some reason my skin color wasn't working for me. i was kind of discriminated against in the rap game to be honest with you... it's the truth... that's just the way it was. i had a chance meeting one time with tupac Shakur and became friends with him you know and he was talking about doing some music with me and unfortunately, passed away. We stayed very close in touch, i used to rap for him and he loved hearing me rap. i think tupac thought it was kind of like a joke but he took me seriously because he knew i was from the projects in Boston. i was standing up for something so he respected me. i loved rap. Especially that i was inspired by him and how much respect i had 15 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E for him and that i was good. i was true to the game but still nothing happened. it was really tough to get involved in the business, even though i did shows around La. it was just really hard to even make a buck and to get the point where you get well known. i've grown up here in Boston and all i knew how to do is scalp tickets, sell drugs, rob and steal and hustle... and i was like i can't live like that i can't do that! that's not something i want to do! Especially in La! i came to La to change my life and to do well, so i pursued the modeling. i modeled in Boston so i said let's go for it. in La i got lucky. i hit a couple of modeling jobs and made some money. i hit a tV show, and then another movie, and... holy shit! this could be a career for me! i'm modeling and i'm doing commercials and i'm acting in movies... what's going on here? i was still hanging with that tainted crowd though, you know the weed smokers and the hustlers and the drug dealers because i'm still this gangster rap kid and a Southie kid from the street. So it was so hard for me to pull away from one thing and run towards the other. at the same time, i was still learning about the other thing and how to present myself in these situations. here i was walking into a modeling agency where i should be very humble and grateful that i have an opportunity and sometimes i would walk in and say " yo! What's up? yeah!! i want to fuckin' work here!!"... and i didn't realize who i was and how i was being... just being true to myself. as i got older and more mature, i started to realize my surroundings and how i should act i think i've evolved into a gentleman, more laid back and able to express my passion. Do you get modeling jobs in LA now? i do. i was just up for a job here with Maggie inc. i auditioned for them last week and they put me on hold i was going to be like the Baush & Lomb guy 16 M a y 2 0 0 9 "My inspiration is my family. i want to make it, do good work and make money so it will allow me to buy what they need. i live real simple." 17 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E (it's a sunglass company), but they went with a guy a little older. i just did a job for Michael Kors... he's pretty big... i just did a modeling job for him where i played a paparazzi guy with the shades and the camera. i played a guy taking pictures of 2 stars coming out of a limo with like 20 other guys. they also shot it for a commercial so i did a double job. Are you hitting up modeling agencies in LA? yep. i have a modeling agent in La, i have a commercial agent in La, a theatrical agent in La, and i have a manager in La. i have 4 different people now working with me. it's not where i sit back at home and let the jobs roll in, i communicate with my agents. i tell them if i hear about this gig, or about that gig... i see if they can make a call. i ask if they can tell if there's something for me. i'm working, doing the hustling, and at the same time, i have representation so i don't have to call up and go "hey do an interview with me i'm Jay Giannone i'm great..." or "hey i should be the poster guy for that or you know you should put me in this movie i'm great cause i acted in The Departed." i can't do that. i want to just be humble because i love to work and act, but i want somebody else to speak on my behalf. i also want my work to speak on my behalf. i have put together an acting reel, which is standard in the industry. a lot of people that don't have experience they have a headshot and a resume and it's a still picture and it's usually like this (makes face)... they cant see anything. Sometimes i get opportunities like i did the other day with John Wells. to be in a movie with Ben affleck. not a lot of people get that opportunity, you know, and they called me. the director saw me in Gone Baby Gone and thought i was great and he wanted to meet me. it's about doing good work in films, creating opportunities, getting recognized in the community, and then 18 M a y 2 0 0 9 you're invited in to do something. if i get the role, i get the role. if i don't, cool. it's a great meeting, a great introduction and this guy will be doing other movies and he also does tV shows too. if i don't make it this time, we'll get in there some other time. it's about keeping it positive and networking. What do you do for inspiration? What makes you creative? Well, i start my day off... i wake up i get down on my knees and i thank God just for being here, you know, that's the truth. i live a clean sober life, and what motivates me, inspires me, is that i think of my family and how it's been tough for us growing up here in Southie. We've been underprivileged. i come from a broken home, i didn't have a dad... my dad got killed... my brother got killed here also. and that motivates me and inspires me cause i think about the tough times my mother has had. i think if i become successful, i'll be able to do a lot of things for my mum. i have 2 kids... a 15-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son... i want to make it so i can do things for them. its not about me getting a great car or taking a private jet across the world or wearing a rolex on my wrist which i do have, and it doesn't really mean anything to me. i used to be a very materialistic guy but as i've grown, and become mature, i've come to realize that i can't really be attached to anything. My good friend Vida Guerra taught me that. My inspiration is my family. i want to make it, do good work and make money so it will allow me to buy what they need. i live real simple. i get in my car, drive, i have coffee i eat... and what's really cool is... to be honest with you i'm so fucking passionate about this business. i love acting. i love writing songs, producing songs, directing movies, acting, playing characters. i'm fucking nuts over it. i want to play that tough guy. i want to play that mean guy. i want to play that crazy guy. i want to play that great dad. i want to play 19 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E "i'm so fucking passionate about this business. i love acting. i love writing songs, producing songs, directing movies, acting, playing characters. i'm fucking nuts over it..." 20 M a y 2 0 0 9 that cop who wants to make a difference. i want to play these characters! i want to be the doctor that gives someone the bad news or tells someone you're a father. i just want to play all these cool roles in life that exist in real life. i want to bring my real life experiences to screen. i also want to write stories, create stories so people in other places can now have an understanding of what my world is like. i want to make a difference. My passion is multi-dimensional. it's about family. it's about the love of the art. i'm an artist. i'm a true artist and i come from a long line of artists. My great grandmother was a painter, my grandmother wrote songs, my mom went to the academy of Dramatic arts, she sang in a 5 octave range, did theatre, stand up comedy, and was also an actress. So, it's like i'm all these women in one. and all these women raised me... there was no dad at home. i'm writing, acting, directing, and producing. i'm like that great criminal that was the painter. now i make paintings with my video cameras. those are my works of art. i shoot, i write, and i create pictures with the camera. You found something you want to do? yeah. you know i love this business and for the art of it... i just... i found something that i want to do... that i enjoy doing. i used to enjoy getting in trouble. Going to jail, being stupid. that's what happens to kids who get mixed up in the neighborhood with no father at home, growing up in the projects around drugs and violence and trouble. We get caught up, we think that way of life is a respectful way and that people look up to us for it, but we don't realize that that's a very small world to live in. and outside that world people look down on you, because they realize you're uneducated. What i did is i went out and 21 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E i educated myself. Graduated from South Boston high School, i went to northeastern university. ...and that's the deal. Were blessed to be sitting here doing the interview, and hanging out and talking, you know. that's how i look at it. Tell me about your LA crew you ran around with in LA... sounds like it was a crazy experience. yeah, we were actually a tame crew. We went to church on Sundays with our hats to the side, pants hanging off our ass, our timberland boots, chillin', we're very spiritual guys, you know. i went to catholic school, i had a catholic upbringing... and we were more or less guys that like... partied a lot, but within the crew. We had girlfriends, we didn't really run around. We were very focused on our work. We constantly wrote songs, worked out in the gym together, ate together, as an entourage and as a crew... and Mark was our leader. We all looked up to Mark and loved him like a brother so... we had a lot of fun. We drank alcohol and partied; like any kids would do at 23, 24, 25, and 26... we were normal kids. We smoked marijuana and did stuff like that cause it was in. We've given it up since then, now that we're mature. i think we would rather have done it then than now to have the experience and put it behind us. We were always very career driven guys. Some of the crazy stuff we would do is probably like... Mark would charter a jet and say "Lets go to Florida"... so we would jump on a private jet and go to Florida cause Mark wanted to play golf... which by the way, he's a great golfer... incredible golfer. Mark's an amazing actor too. he's put the time in with that and i think that we would feed off each other. We would help each other and work with each other. Some of 22 M a y 2 0 0 9 the other crazy things that we did would be like... i mean just normal stuff like staying out all night and... there have been fights... but you know, they came to us, we never started fights. People used to be jealous of Mark and make trouble for him, you know. and the next thing you know we would be defending him or pushing people away... Mark used to have to have security guards and stuff like that around him cause he's a popular guy. i'm writing a book right now about my life coming from Southie, doing my thing in hollywood and everything in between. i'm about 250 pages deep. So the book is going to really tell you all about the lifestyle... the book is more of an autobiography on Jay Giannone. it's not a whole book like... 13 chapters about the entourage. it's more or less 13 chapters about Jay Giannone. and like 1 or 2 chapters about my experiences and life within the entourage. So the book isn't all about my experience with Mark Wahlberg or any of my friends, it just has them in the book. it's about me and all my experiences... from selling drugs to going to jail... to losing my family members... to rising to the occasion and believing in God... to loving the art... to having to do the work... to learning about life to being creative... to working with Scorsese and Dicaprio and Jack nicholson... to getting here to do an interview with you! it's just all those crazy experiences that i have culminated into being an artist who knows where he's from and knows where he's going. it's going to have all kinds of pictures of Europe and hollywood and meeting with Matt Damon and Ben affleck and Leo and all this exciting information... cool stuff about my world. the entourage is implemented into my book as my life was implemented into the show. and it's the real stuff, you know, because the tV show wasn't really able to show our real life experiences. they were able to go into other crews and entourages and create experiences through how they understand it to put it on tV. But 23 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E "i'm writing, acting, directing, and producing. i'm like that great criminal that was the painter. now i make paintings with my video cameras. those are my works of art." 24 M a y 2 0 0 9 the real entourage... is derived from Mark Wahlberg and our crew. and i have those real stories, and they're all positive and they mean a lot to me because those guys are my friends. yeah i'm really excited to tell a lot of stuff. i think the book is going to sell because we currently are in like 17 countries since the show was in syndication and we have like 90 million fans. So i think that because i worked in casting and i was on the pilot episode of Entourage and being in the show, involved with Mark and everybody, i think that's a boost to get people in touch with me and read about who i am and understand that i'm a part of the entourage and possibly build an interest. So if 80 million people know about the show and know who i am, and we could hit 10% of them, that's 8 million people. 1% is 800,000 people. if we could sell 800,000 books that would be one big selling book. if we hit .1%... that, it would be 80,000 books. that's a new york times best-seller! i have a goal. i want to write a great book. a very informative and intuitive book that's not only educational, but tells all about my life experiences and my travels, and tells the truth about me and because i want people to know the route that i've taken. cause there's not always one route in hollywood. you kind of carve your own path into hollywood and in carving your own path out of life; it becomes your own route. if i can inspire people to see the positive things that i have done, the direction that i have gone in, as well as the positive things that have come out from the negative. So if i did something negative and learned a lesson it knocks things right into a positive direction. and that's the kind of stuff that i like to write about. cause i'm not prefect, you know. That's excellent. So you're very well rounded. i try to be. it's about giving. it can't be all about taking... it's about sharing. i 25 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E don't want to end up alone. i want to be around my friends and the people i care about. and the only way i can do that is... i can't be the king of the hill and see my people suffering at the bottom of the hill... if i'm in a position to help them halfway up the hill, then that's what i want to do. Without jeopardizing my position at the top of the hill, because everybody wants to be at the top. if you have too many chiefs and no indians, it could be hard. But what's a gift is to be appointed a chief and to recognize your indians, and help bring them up and share that with them. i want to share. i don't want to be the king; i don't want to be the emperor. i just want to be a guy. i want to be the guy that can handle business on the top because of my instincts and my knowledge and my understanding and what i can do. i also want to be the guy that can walk to the bottom of the hill and be accepted and treated like a normal guy. its time to get together with the kings of the other parts, of the other lands, get together and make a difference for other people. i feel like i have a gift... the gift of education. and i want to be able to make a difference, especially in my community and in Boston... that's really important to me. and i want to come back here some day and do something special. not in the business, in the community, in the neighborhood. Maybe build a center here, an arts center, or work with the mayor and help inner city kids that are underprivileged, or help with different programs. there are a lot of young kids on drugs and young pregnant mothers and there's a lot of homeless people and just... that's where the problems are. if we turn our backs on that, the world is going to be a tougher place to live in. there are a lot of other countries out there that do not have these problems, and work with these types of situations. Look at holland. a doctor and a person that sweeps the streets make the same amount of money. it's not about material things. Everybody and everything is the same. it's not what you are, it's who you are... thank you for the fun interview, God bless us. 26 M a y 2 0 0 9 "if i can inspire people to see the positive things that i have done, the direction that i have gone in, as well as the positive things that have come out from the negative. So if i did something negative and learned a lesson it knocks things right into a positive direction." 27 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E Photography by Jaymes Leavitt. 28 M a y 2 0 0 9 Sarah Blacker 29 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 30 M a y 2 0 0 9 The one with the black guitar Where do you get your inspiration from? When i first started out i would say it was sort of like i would be exploring on the guitar and then i would start singing along... at that point i think i was more geared towards reading music... since then i've been trying to create melodies that are powerful. i tend to use a lot of poems that i've written and i will think up the melodies. a lot of times my songs just come to me. i will wake up in the middle of the night and record a song on my little black recorder and wake up in the morning and write the song. it has sort of always been like... if i sit down and pick up an instrument the song is just there... and sometimes its a chorus is spilled out within like in 5 minutes... melody, chorus, and then i'll write the lyrics... and then other times i'll get like the chord and maybe a chorus, and then a verse... and i have to come back to it the next day. What's a typical day like for you when you create music? i mean some days i'll write 3 songs, some weeks i'll write 1, some weeks i'll write 20 ...if i sit down to write a song, sometimes i will get really lucky and one will be there. 31 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 32 M a y 2 0 0 9 "My passion, my art form has been and will always be music." When did you get your start as a musician? Growing up in suburbia was a little bit of a difficult thing for me... sticking out in the community of people... i've been really stuck out. at a pretty young age i started singing. i was 5 or 6 when i started... took about 4 years of piano... gave up on the piano, then in high school i decided that i really really wanted to play guitar, so i taught myself when i was about 18... and i recorded my first cD as my senior project, then i went to Berklee. So, i mean i knew that i wanted to do music, but thinking of it as a career... i would say that that's kind of what is happening right now, as i'm finishing recording my album and really putting my music out there. My passion, my art form has been and will always be music... right now i'm creating a career. How old were you when you first learned to play the guitar? i was 17 when i first learned the keyboard, and then from there (age 17 and 18) was when i really taught myself how to play guitar... just through hours upon hours of putting my hands on the strings... getting feedback from other people who were like, `what the hell are you playing?' and i was like `i don't know but i'm just trying to get my life together'... and i took like 2 months of guitar lessons. i really wasn't practicing like my teacher was telling me to practice. i would come in every week with my song and she would be like, `you know, you probably should not be taking guitar lessons'... so i just would write songs... from that i learned that i wanted to write songs. 33 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 34 M a y 2 0 0 9 "i'm more of a fly by ear, take what strikes you, go for it and whatever way it has to happen is the way that its going to." Is there anything special you do to enhance your creativity? i mean i guess i'm inspired by like what i'm thinking... and walking is a big part of when i do a lot of thinking, so a lot of times i'll come back from walking or come back from a drive feeling ready to write a song... but as far as a special thing i do, i really don't have one. i'm more of a fly by ear, take what strikes you, go for it and whatever way it has to happen is the way that its going to. Tell me about your new album. it's 11 songs, and i mean i've probably written about 400 songs and a lot of them have sort of passed away and others have been forgotten. i sat down with my producer, rob Loyot of Periello Productions... sat down with him and he told me sort of what he recorded and selected with other people and then we came up with the arrangement of the songs. So there are a couple songs that are really stripped down, like just guitar and pump organ... and guitar and harp... other songs i use electric guitar, a drummer, and myself. there's really a lot of differences. i've worked with organs, pianos, a harp player, other phenomenal electric guitarists, like Kevin Barry... he's recorded with Paula cole... we've had a lot of really phenomenal players. right now we're recording the vocals... there's a lot of unique sounds created in really unique ways... sort of like the icing on the cake for me. 35 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 36 M a y 2 0 0 9 Where do you find your gigs? i do owe some credit to the internet because really opens up a gateway to connect with other musicians. how they find me? Who knows. i've been really fortunate in connecting with other people who have been so great, offering gigs. a lot of the times i do my own booking... hearing of places through word of mouth or hearing what's coming up for people who's music i really like... where they're playing. i do a lot of my own booking, but at the same time a lot of performances have come to me... Where can people hear your music? Well my myspace is www.myspace.com/sarahblacker... other than that i just have a website (www.sarahblacker.com). i foresee it going through a lot of changes but right now it is what it is and my myspace is what i'm updating all the time. i'm actually doing a little bit of fund-raising. if anybody recently has billions of dollars they don't know what to do with.. or if they just want to donate 50 dollars of their wealth to me than i would fall over backwards and they would get a free signed copy of the cD, as well as their name would be on the inside to thank them... but any donations are welcome and obviously you will be thanked with signed posters, free cDs, and concert tickets. 37 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E Photography by Jaymes Leavitt. 38 M a y 2 0 0 9 Dick Doherty How did you get your start in comedy? Well actually i started in music in the 60s. i was a folk singer and what happened was i was doing very well in the coffee houses and i realized i didn't want to drink coffee. So i changed my act and i got a little more commercial, and went into the night clubs. i found that if i could replace a small band with just me i could make a lot more money. So i became a big `happy hour' act. i was the first one around in the sixties who did the thing with the guitar and the jokes the sing-alongs. Well... i was down in the cape doing that... i added a bassist and a drummer, because then i could have an introduction, and soon enough i had a twelve piece... and i was headlining at the copa in ny. i started that in 63' and i was doing it full time. i have been doing it since... full time for 46 years. What do you do for your inspiration? My inspiration is honesty. i live my passions. Feelings, to me, are just feelings. they are triggers to biochemical actions. My attitudes and my decisions will control my actions. i put in positive actions and then the feelings follow behind. When i create it is really quite simple. i have a gift. i have a great eye for seeing things for what they really are. When i do my comedy it's not pretend. it's not distorted, its exactly how it is. My show is pretty much the same thing i am... been like that forever. What i'm doing is... i'm celebrating the fact that it is OK to be me. i accept myself and don't necessarily all the time like myself... i don't necessarily all the time approve of my choices. i always accept that i am doing the best i can do with the tools that i have available to me. i am a recovery person, so mostly of my life is about spirituality. it's about letting go. What happens with me is when i give up control, that's when i get creative. 39 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 40 M a y 2 0 0 9 i have nEVEr sat at a desk and written a single joke all the years i've been in the business. i write my jokes right on stage. there are spontaneous things that i like, so i repeat them. Do you ever have any trouble coming up with new material? not so far, but the next party of six might be a little rough, so no i don't. that's just the way i am wired. When i was a singer i used to do this thing in my act where people would give me five different words and give me a start on the music and off the top of my head, every night, i would write a song. there was never a time i was not able to do it. Some good ones... some bad ones... but they were always real legitimate songs. that's the easy part for me. Living with myself is the hard part! the nice thing about doing comedy is it's a wonderful tool to reveal yourself and in the act of revealing yourself, you are being intimate. and it's giving others a chance to reject you for the image you present. So i have always worked hard at showing my secrets and giving people the chance. People seem to either love me and think i'm the best thing to ever happen to comedy, or they want my family dead. there is no middle ground with me. Which i understand that i don't necessarily think they are wrong... everyone's not programmed to handle everything. My grandmother would see my show and she would give me a dirty look, but then she would brag to everyone about my show. i don't go way out there... a lot of the young guys who have started here have gone way off the charts but that's ok... that's not me. i like to be like a bunch of uncles and aunts with a buzz on, joking and cheating each other in an irish living room. that's the level i like to do it cause it works for me and the creativity of it is that its the way we grow up in this part of the country. When i first went off to california many years ago they were shocked because i was doing that thing where i was teasing everyone and you 41 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 42 M a y 2 0 0 9 "People seem to either love me and think i'm the best thing to ever happen to comedy, or they want my family dead." couldn't get a straight thing out of me... they didn't get it... but out here... that's how every corner is. that's how we do it out here. you are born to creatively protect yourself. it's how you protect yourself in an irish family. if you can zing people and they learn that it's not safe to zing you, it's protection. One of the things with me is that i could not tell when they meant it and when they didn't. Did you ever have that? When you can't tell if someone's joking or if it's a hidden thing? Well, i was really born for that. i mean it wasn't safe to zing me. i was better at it than everybody because i needed to be OK. i am a firm believer that everything we are is the result of us trying to survive, and be ok with ourselves. as an adult we start looking at that and changing it. We can learn to make choices instead of letting our insides trigger us. up on stage i am not a reactive person. i don't care if the audience claps or if they don't clap. if they laugh or if they don't laugh... i don't judge them. i like them. When i first got sober, everything changed in my career. i was, at first, doing comedy because i needed people to like me. i didn't know how to like myself. i got famous enough and i had a great deal of money and success but it didn't work. When i got sober and started on a different journey to build different truths to live as a person, i started liking myself from the inside. i hold myself accountable and everyday i try to hold myself more accountable than i did the day before. i am not trying to be a good guy. i have no desire to be a good guy. i have a desire to be a healthy guy and so holding yourself accountable for your behavior is the biggest high anyone will ever get. i don't care what the price tag is, you always get more out of it than it costs you. course' it's scary but once you get that integrity, it becomes a wonderful part of your creativity. i think artists have the most honesty and integrity of any group of people because it is fundamental to the creative process. the freedom to be who you are and not 43 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E "What i am looking to do is to enjoy the hell out of every single minute." afraid what others see you as and they way others judge you. i welcome people to judge me cause' that doesn't tell me anything about me. it tells me about them. yesterday on Facebook, i put a quote out that said "it's not the things you don't have that make you unhappy, it's the things that you do have that you haven't spent time appreciating." that kind of acceptance of myself and to be able to say that in front of people without a sense of shame is what makes me work on stage. Do you have anyone you are inspired by? this is going to sound very funny to you... i was on a tV show down in atlantic city one time and a guy asked me who my favorite comic was, and i told him ME. he laughed and said "Well... why? Why is that?" and i told him i didn't say i'm the best comic i said i'm my favorite because i am doing what i think is funny in the order i think it should be done and in the way i think it should be done. if i don't think it's funny, i should change my act. So he said to me "Who is your second favorite?" i told him i don't know he is so far back i can't see him. What i mean by that is that i am not comparing myself to other people. Part of what we do growing up is comparing ourselves to others. i'm taller that him and i'm shorter than him and i'm faster than him and i'm slower than him. i'm richer than him i'm poorer than him and so on... we all define ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people until you get pretty. So i'm not interested in who is second. My inspiration? i always liked Jonathan Winters because he is absolutely mentally ill. and i think the mentally ill are the happy people. When i was kid i used to go play at the Paul Devers school which was a special needs school for kids at the time. it was the era of the Beatles and so they always used to say i 44 M a y 2 0 0 9 was the Beatles. Even though there was only one me singing a Beatles song... but they loved me. i mean they thought i was famous. Simplicity is awfully closely connected to real passion. and so i want to get simpler and less complicated every day of my life. and you know the nice thing about is i will be 67 this summer and i am growing faster now than when i was 19. i am out on the web... i am my own internet techie. i do my own Facebook in the morning... i get up and answer all my Facebook emails... Myspace? i have three different Myspace pages.... and i answer every one of my fans email because i love what i am doing. this isn't work to me doing my ads, booking comics for shows, this is not work for me. this is what i love and this is who i am. there is no burden associated. anyone who has a burden at their job.... try to re-evaluate. i know that some can't, because conditions don't let them. i am very fortunate that all my life, no matter what the price tag, i have chosen to live my dream. and it worked out very very well for me. i have lost everything three different times in my life... i got very very wealthy and then very very poor and then wealthy again and poor... OK... i used to have a big boat and not i have a little boat. you know what? i enjoy the little boat much better than i did the big one. cause' i appreciate things. i enjoy my wife. that is what i enjoy. i enjoy people and i don't care if people like me or not. What is the comedy scene like in Boston and how has it changed? it started out when it was there were places like Play it again Sams up on commonwealth ave and Stitches... the comedy connection at the charles Play house. now the funny thing about it was that before the Ding hO or any of those comedy places came up, i owned the club at the charles Play house. i called it the improper Bostonian. People don't seem to notice that i was here 10 years before the Ding hO. So i was the only one in town doing comedy, i had no one to learn from. But then that scene came... Steven Wright, and all those... it was run by the agents and i think it became a lot different. Before it was all about making the audience laugh. Seems like a lot of young guys are trying to show how clever they are or how much they can shock people. What i like to do... i am an entertainer. i want people to have fun i want people to go out saying they thought they saw was good. What is really nice is to see people have a ball and go out feeling better than when they came in. that feels nice. you know an artist puts it down on canvas and its there and they have to sell it and it's still there. Same with a recording artist. it's there in the recording. For a comedian... the magic is between you and the audience. What is special, and once the show is over, is that particular piece of art and it is gone. So it's a constant victimization of yourself each night. it used top be awfully hard for me because i would get so into it and by the end of the show i would get so hyper that nothing couldn't match that hyper, and that's when i got into all the drugs and drinking. not so much before the show but after. to match the high. i did have my drug problems.... lost everything in the 80's. 83" i got sober i have been sober 26 years and i love it. i love the people who are still drinking and drugging and anything i can do to help them its my pleasure. i am not trying to prove anything anymore. i am not looking to be famous, i am not looking to be a star, and i am not looking to be rich. What i am looking to do is to enjoy the hell out of every single minute. What i found out is that its when you give, you really feel good so i try to share who i am with as many people as i can. that's why i do the free workshops. cause' i don't want to make money to share what i have learned. What i want is to learn what they are learning that's what keeps me up. you can come into my show and there will be as many college kids as there are 60 year olds. the young people like me more! i can still do 45 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 46 M a y 2 0 0 9 college shows like it's nothing because i keep learning from the kids. nothing has changed. time hasn't changed. My body got old but i am still a crazy kid. you know you don't have to grow up you just have to get responsible. and i am still responsible but i am certainly not grown up. What do you tell young comics in your workshops? have fun if you are not enjoying it every single night than you are doing something wrong. adjust it. Maybe you are giving the audience too much power. human beings inherently resist being controlled so if you are going out there to make them laugh what you are trying to do is make them behave in a way that will make your feelings get triggered the right way. that's called control. What you should do is go out to try to have fun do what you do and allow the audience to have fun too. if they don't then that's OK. you will be more successful if you learn to do just that. Don't get off the stage in your mind and watch the show like you are one of the audiences. Stay focused... you belong on the stage. Don't judge your show like you are in the audience. So what i tell new comedians to do is to have fun. i tell them if 600 people got up and walked out of my show all it would mean to me is that either 600 people don't care for what i do or they just all had to piss... What do i care? Because i know there are a lot of people that do like it. they don't have any information about my talent, and they don't have any information about my work or about me. the only information they have is about their vision and what they see, how they react to what they see, and what they do with that reaction. all the information about me is inside me. all they know is the act. i know i am proud of it. i try to help young comics get rid of that power the audience holds over them. you know i 47 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E "i talk to everybody about everything. i have no secrets." have a deal... i am not going to judge the audience if they do not judge me. it's just people. it never occurred to me that a crowd was a crowd from day one. i have been lucky enough to see it as just a bunch of people. you know i talk to strangers... the kid pumping gas knows i am an entertainer, wherever i go i talk to everybody about everything. i have no secrets. there is not one part of my life that i am embarrassed by. there is a lot of my life that i would like to improve and get a handle on but there is nothing regret. i am a lucky lucky man. and pretty as a button! Tell us some of the funniest moments of your career. i went to do a show at a club one time and not one person laughed at any of my jokes. When i was 5 minutes into my show and i suddenly realized it. the head doorman, in cahoots with my wife, told everyone not to laugh at any thing i said. then another time i was playing at the Marco Polo... and i was with my band and in between sets i did a little comedy. When i did the comedy everybody just stared at me with blank faces. turns out they were all Brazilian and they had no idea what i was saying. no one told me when i went on the crowd did not speak English. this business. it's better than anything in the world when it's good, and it's worse than anything in the world when it's bad. i can only remember a couple of times when it didn't work for me in 46 years. i have been very fortunate. there are a lot of people in this business who are very talented who never get a chance and who can not make a living at it. i have been very fortunate. i have gone places. there are no more patrons of the arts any more. you have to be your own. i tell people in class you have to create your success. you have to do it on your own and nobody is going to do it for you. you have to figure out how to sell you. nobody in ny will make you famous because you are funny. they will only make you famous if they know that you will make them money. that's the reality of it. So within the limits of your character, being yourself, i believe we are a lot of different people and if you are intelligent and humble about it i think we can find parts in ourselves to fit into the scheme of what people need. you don't have to be at war with everybody just because we want to be ourselves. When i was young i felt that being right was the most important thing so i used to collect evidence that i was right and i collected evidence that i couldn't make a marriage work and i got to be right. i collected evidence that i couldn't have a relationship with my kids and i got to be right. i was miserable. i collected evidence that my career would fall apart and that i got to be right. and now since i have come back and have a new wife and a new life , i have learned to collect evidence that i am wrong. What i looked at is, would i be better off right or be better of wrong? and now i'm happy. i giggle at myself sometimes. Dick's Beantown Comedy Vault is located in the basement of Remington's Restaurant, 124 Boylston St. 48 M a y 2 0 0 9 49 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E The film noir series Photographs by Jaymes Leavitt 50 M a y 2 0 0 9 nspired by the iconic film noir style, this series was photographed and produced by Jaymes Leavitt. i 51 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 52 M a y 2 0 0 9 53 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 54 M a y 2 0 0 9 55 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 56 M a y 2 0 0 9 57 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 58 M a y 2 0 0 9 59 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 60 M a y 2 0 0 9 61 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 62 Timo M a y 2 0 0 9 Shanko 63 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 64 M a y 2 0 0 9 How did you get your start as a jazz musician? i kinda started liking jazz right away... i started playing in Los angeles... Santa Monica, ca where i grew up. When i was 11 years old i started playing electric bass. My brother was an electric bass player... he stopped playing so there was this electric bass living underneath the bed... and you know being the younger brother, you gotta go play with your older brother's bass cause he's not playing very much. you gotta try to get as good as possible. Have you always been into jazz? not right away. i mean... going to the record store was just something i did. Probably starting when i was like 6 years old... i would go to the record store and buy records. all kinds of aM radio hits and whatever. i had an older brother so... he had a more advanced taste in music.... just because he was older. So it just started being like Led zeppelin and cream... which get you to the blues... which lead to jazz right away. i was always kind of inspired by technical music so then when somebody gave me a Miles Davis album and a coltrane album... and especially Jaco the electric bass player... when i heard his story... i wanted to be able to do that. i was probably like 12 or 13 when that happened... so i was pretty much cloning Jaco as much as possible when i was a teenager. 65 M i x t u r E M a G a z i n E 66 M a y 2 0 0 9 What's a typical day like for you? Get up in the morning, eat something, and start transcribing music and studying music and practicing different instruments... i practice piano... and i practice saxophone. i started playing bass and saxophone probably like 23 years ago and i had already been playing electric bass 10 years. now i'm working on piano. i just wanted to be able to play all kinds of music and play everything... just... everything. i like the competition side of music too. Somebody can create a nice piece of music and organize it and have that much integrity in their music... that's definitely really far up the ladder. and also the watermark is really high. Basically if you play tenor saxaphone the watermark is kind of coltrane and nobody has even surpassed his playing yet... or charlie Parker... these guys are like phenomenal. they were really dedicated to what they did. Where do you find your inspiration? i totally rob, borrow and steal from everywhere possible. i like... 20th century classical music, the tonalities... obviously coltrane is a great saxophonist like all the great tenor players. Blues... i like early 70's soul like sax records kind of stuff and i like a lot of world music. i draw heavily indian music and Gnawa music from Morocco... pretty famous world music... and traditional folkloric cuban music... i find like the folkloric stuff. i like some of the string music but there's not even strings... i like some Brazilian music... sort of the africanized Brazilian music. i also like the Portuguese mandolin string music in Brazil... cause they have like a different rhythm feel... and when you hear the music you sense like a very virtuoso style of play... not only technically or speed or stuff like that but also... when the whole band plays together... this is their music... this is all they play and they play it so good and you're hearing the people who have risen all the way to the top of this whole culture of music and then you get to hear them play. i find that when i can hear somebody on top of their game in a place of time with the record switch on it's like... i gotta have it... i hear certain things... i want to feel it... follow it... just put it into my big mosaic of sounds that i like. and then it kinda keeps it fresh cause then you're not just copying... like i used to copy one or two things and then you become a prisoner of your influence. Are you working on any new projects right now? O yeah. always. i'm always writing, always dreaming up new ideas of grandeur (laughs)... delusions of grandeur! So i'm writing... i'm working on stuff... i got a bunch of new things i definitely want to do. On my last double disk Ken clark was playing organ... so i definitely have been going further with the organ style of jazz... learning more about it and transcribing it and learning the songs and the feel and just kind of checking that out. So i definitely have some material. i also have kind of rearranged some folkloric material we were talking about with the world music stuff... i rearranged that and push some things around... and i want to do a recording like that. i joined G. Love and the Special Sauce... i'm the new bass player. i play some saxophone but i'm the bass player in the band. he's really cool... so i'm trying to work on some songs for his next record... trying to kind of throw my ideas in there... hopefully he will pick up on some of my chord changes or something and then he can do his thing... So i have a couple of things like that. i wanted to kind of maybe try some... make some kind of jazz records... it's like one of those genres that every other genre fits into... like rock is rock and blues is blues'...and this and that are just that... but jazz... you can do everything... it all fits... avant garde, strings, in time, out of time... it's all working. 67