KissMyBlarneyStones

Greg O'Kane's blog. Lead guitarist/Singer/Songwriter for Manifest Calling

What a year it has been, so far.

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This past year has been fun, Its nice that our distributor, Gracie Productions, has come out swinging for the fences in getting the songs heard. I believe we are in rotation at 40 radio stations in Europe, Australia & China, a lot of them internet radio stations, but then after looking it up, I find that hundreds of millions tune in to internet radio. Wow!!! This one provider services 6000 office buildings with piped music. Another services 3000.  Since its release 6 weeks ago, 2000 copies of ‘Without You’  have been downloaded. With the peak of our sales promo expected the beginning of August and to run for a fortnight or so, I think my goal of 5000 songs being sold will be surpassed. So, considering that we started with no songs recorded and no contract on Jan 2015, the progress has been refreshing.

For the past month, Tony and I have been rehearsing once a week with a drummer named Vera Herten, from Deutschland. As a group, we’re starting to get tight and Tony’s starting to produce some groovin’ base lines just as we begin 2-a-weeks(rehearsals).  Something that has been up in the air for a while though, has been whether or not I would assume lead singing duties. We’ve never had a lead singer but have always slated for one for when the time came. Two years later I’m still singing, and I’m on the tracks now, so that’s sort of a point of no return right there. However, we will be adding a female guitarist who can share lead vocals with me along with backing vocals. I’m finding it a rare breed, but eventually as we get more known and better musically, she’ll make herself known to us. The rule is…everyone sings in the band. Singing is at the root of music and is gods instrument  All great bands have great vocals.

 
 As you know, I lived in Ireland for over 30 years, and have close ties there. A couple of those ties are associated with a cover band I formed while living in Ireland. Tommy Leonard (drums), Trevor Cullen (comic relief and you name the instrument) and Pat ‘Ditch’ Cassidy(the conduit by which Thin Lizzy got discovered. Google it) are my soul brothers.
 
 
The 4 of us in London 2003
 
Aaaanndd….. along with my brother from another Tony Wilson, collectively we make up the live band to end all live bands. Thankfully,  Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Who, AC/DC etc…. will be allowed to retire, at their pleasure of course, without the burden of having to stay put because there is no one else to continue a genre of music that is becoming a relic. The level of testosterone from a group of guys. whose collective age is in excess of 250 years (appox. 265) is what will set us apart. In the movie ‘Colors’, Robert Duvall is providing an antidote to Sean Penn about an old bull and a young bull surveying a valley of cows beneath them. If you recall the antidote, we consider ourselves the old bull.
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Vera Herten, providing a hurtin’ on the skins.

Drummers are what I do. My mantra is, If you haven’t a good drummer, you haven’t band.  Drummers, whom I’ve played with, and that make the grade in my estimation include Thomas ‘Lenny’ Leonard, Jay Ogilsby, Donnie’O Wilson and Anthony “AJ” Pero. These are the top drummers in my life, and now I have another one. Vera Herten.

As you know, My band, Manifest Calling is geographically challenged at the moment. Trev, Lenny and Ditch are still banging away in Ireland holding down a residency with a fella I hope you all hear one day, Brian Grace.  After I left, he easily filled my shoes. For Tony and I,  after spending last year getting reacquainted to our instruments and dusting off the vocal cob webs with Tony’s brother Don Wilson on drums,  Tony and I hit the ground running in 2015 with very little resistance.

After recording ‘Going Now’ and ‘Without You’ and receiving interest from a couple of labels but signing with Gracie Productions for their global distribution, Tony and I have gone back into rehearsals with the assistance of Vera Herten, who we met via Craig’s List. I was as skeptical as I was intrigued.  Number 1, we met on Craig’s List, #2, She a woman with a German Accent, and #3, She said she had just moved from Nashville.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on Germans, and my experience tells me that generally, within 2 to 3 minutes of meeting one, you’ll know what you’re getting. Germans tend to be very dependable and don’t suffer fools well. Vera fits the German mold. She also knows how to play the drums, which, if you ask me, is with power and technique. She doesn’t just come to rehearsal, she runs it, with loads of ideas. To put it succinctly, The woman is Money. For as long as she is with us, I am going to enjoy playing with her. The Woman is a pro, probably a Savant in Deutschland.

I wish I could say more about her, but I don’t know her long. Hope she hangs around awhile.

The other woman in our life, Amara, gave birth on Monday to her 2nd son, Aren Robert. Mother and baby are doing well. Congratulations.

To the lads; Here’s to the next chapter, Manifest Calling, Divine Destiny.

It’s funny how life makes sure you revisit everything in order to draw a line under or provide recompense to the past. To possibly be teamed up with Thomas ‘Lenny’ Leonard’, Trevor Cullen, Pat ‘Ditch’ Cassidy again while adding my brother from another Tony Wilson to the mix, Manifest Calling is the band I’ve always envisioned playing in. I enjoyed immensely my days previous in Dublin, Ireland with the Rock Tribunal and was resolute that one day we would join up again. I think we are the only band that broke up due to recession.

Tony & I always agreed from the get go, that this is business. Provide a product, and lets see where we get with it, This first effort was a good one, if for no other reason than, we got a few people to go along with us. Releasing “Going Now” and “Without You” with Gracie Productions was a good first move. At present, all the major digital download and streaming services offer both songs.

So, if by July (1st sale report), we don’t have a clear indication that a concert tour is going to happen, we’ll turn to finishing the recordings. Possibly enough for an Album. Personally speaking, I feel that “Going Now” was hit out of the park. It’s sounds exactly the way it did when I wrote it 33 years ago. Though I’m not (can’t) singing “Without You, Amara does exceptional work. I find her a little sassy, and it comes out in her singing. I like that, I think most others do as well. Rob Harkness of Barn Productions has been such a godsend for us and has allowed us to put our best foot forward. The man really knows sound and for us he wouldn’t substitute natural for synthesized. It’s been inspiring to watch a pro do what he does best.

I have a duet written for Ditch and Amara.  As well, I have another song for Amara to sing Titled; “Sorry My Love”. Also, Tony & I have been working on a couple of his tunes,(without assigned singer) Of course we already recorded “You Don’t Know”, which has gotten good reviews, so with “Alley Cat”, “Nights of the Realm”, plus another of mine “Push It”.. That’s Eight of some of our best

Regardless of what happens this year, we still have 13 weeks of the our radio promo going on Europe wide to learn from. There has been some favorable opinions from various program directors there, which I feel will stand to our good when we produce the 2nd allotment of songs. Tony Bucher of Gracie productions has been good with always being just an email away. I have no complaints with him, and feel he may become a more integral part of the equation as we move forward.

To all of my present and future band mates, I love you. The thought of playing music with you again excites me to no end, for I know it’s potential.

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Fears & Musings

Immigration

Look at the Israelis. They’re surrounded by hate, yet they know how to control a border. There is a clear reason why ISIS headed east and not south. The Israelis don’t fuck around. Look around you, who do you trust, How many do you think have respect for American ways and customs? Our immigration system, starting from when before oilmen took over the White House, has been exploited by those who will do us harm. I can guarantee you that there are thousands living in this country who have been sitting and waiting. Arm yourself (legally), It’s not the government coming to wipe you out. Our freedom has made us vulnerable, so I see nothing wrong with hurting some feelings in order to keep my way of life secure. This is a great country, and being smart on immigration won’t diminish that.

There is a mass of people who think nothing of cutting your head off, just because you’re American. This is some serious shit!

Americans shooting each other at an alarming rate compared to say, England

It’s culture & geography that are the difference makers. Scotland Yard is the premiere police agency in the UK and are pretty much the National Police Force there. England (not the UK) is the size of 4 So. Cal counties with the entire population of California living in it. People live in close quarters to each other there and Community Policing is key too. The rural part of this country has been living in Isolation but for the last 75 years. Guns are a way of life, as is the principle of supporting yourself. That ethos has been exploited by psycho’s(5-6 million people) who are creating all the havoc, but this country was built on the gun. People living in England and the rest of Europe for that matter are fairly docile. The nanny state has made them secure. Here, for decades our government’s policies have treated it’s citizen with indifference, creating haves and have not’s. So it’s no wonder that while we are left to fend for ourselves that some people get shot.

Ferguson, Mo.

Nothing can take away or alleviate the pain of a community that has suffered injustice at the hands of people who are responsible for administering justice. There is no question that bigotry is alive and well in that community, this country and the world. But If you really want to tackle the issue of bigotry, then you have to start with eliminating borders. For as long as people want to Identify themselves as being distinct, a 2nd class mentality where one person, community or country differentiates themselves from another will prevail by talk and actions that denigrate those that are not like them. So, should we abolish the World Cup or the Eurovision Song Contest? What a tragedy it would be if we did, but people would have  fewer opportunities to display their superiority over others.

As I watch the unfolding events in Ferguson, Mo. what I see is a community that has suffered from the uneven application of the law administered by a white police force against a black community. The black communities in Ferguson and around this country are paying the wages of officials who uphold laws disproportionately against them. It’s done because of stereo types that non-blacks are afraid of and/or because they just plain mean. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Asians, Gays, Latinos & Whites have and do suffer equally from the same bigotry. However, you wouldn’t know that by what is being portrayed on T.V.

If you look at the facts, 82% of the United States is not African American, yet every part of American pop culture is dominated by African Americans. All the top movers and earners in Music, Sports, Business, Law and Politics in America are Black, so how is it that racism against blacks is such an issue?

Clearly the institutions that move the U.S. are not rife with bigotry. But that’s not going to stop a few ( I’m talking to you Al Sharpton) from claiming they are, when in fact there are slightly more than a few bad apples giving everyone else a bad name. Unfortunately the reality is that you can not legislate against stupidity.

Clearly, Mike Brown’s testosterone was at an elevated level when he decided to forcibly retain the goods he took from a store without paying for them. I’m only wondering what was going on in his mind when he was stopped by a police officer for walking down the middle of a street moments later when he should’ve been walking on the sidewalk (foot path). I mean, Felony = Jail, Jail is a place no one really want to go to. I do wonder what was going through his mind. I wonder what was going through that officers mind when, if what he said is true, his gun was being wrestled away from him while getting punched in the face. I want to also know why no one in an African-American community that has such a voracious appetite for success and over-achievement in this country, is asking the hard question about one of its own, or at least acknowledging facts.

None of Mike Brown’s behavior displayed by the evidence justifies the tragic outcome. At best, the police officer over reacted to a perceived threat and has proven himself to be completely incapable of carrying out the duties he signed up to undertake, and at worst is a criminal who needs to go away for good (there is no evidence of racism on his part so far). But this is what I know, If Mike Brown were a white man most people inside and outside the black community would say, if anything, that he deserved his fate because of any number of reasons in evidence. There would be no calls for investigations into the shooting, the shop surveillance tape would be used as evidence that he was a miscreant who died by the sword he apparently lived by, and the whole country barring a few liberally minded individuals, would be in wholehearted agreement.

You have two sides here: an aggrieved community and a flawed system that abuses them. Addressing that is how  a useful news media can bring about change. However, there is a payday here and the media understands very well how to earn it off of tragedies like this. Demanding via the Freedom of Information act for all the info they are entitled to under that law to be made available to them, disseminating that info, then fueling & fanning the embers of discontent by questioning show after show the motives and timing for releasing that info, while airing commercials that implore us to get along, is grotesque. The disgruntled black activists who struggle for relevancy under the glare of African American supremacy in American pop culture in order to maintain their payday are equally as grotesque.

“My country tis of thee.”

 

Star & Stripe inverted

 

“My country tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.’

Coming from a man who has no personal experience of losing loved ones who fought valiantly and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that I and many others may have liberty, I feel that the price paid may have been too steep if you consider what the status quo is now.

Yes I am free, and I acknowledge that men died defending that freedom, but did they really have to after WWll? Or have we been snowed into believing that our freedom is under constant assault by foreign enemies who’s intent is to fill the vacuum left by our demise. Or by begrudger’s who blame us for their shortcomings, or by zealots who’s perverted and stunted vision of the world hasn’t changed in thousands of years.

While I acknowledge they exist and may pose a threat of varying degrees, I do not feel threatened by any of those above. I feel threatened by the people who are supposed to represent me and  by those who hurl one viscous verbal assault after another towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them in totality.  I feel threatened by legal  immigrants who are under no obligation to respect the country I grew up in, who are provided a stipend via my tax dollars so that they can assimilate into my country easily, without having to actually do that. I feel totally threatened by illegal immigrants who have chosen to live like cockroaches in my country to escape the perils of theirs, who force wages to go down because $8.00 an hour is a days pay where they come from, who use our infrastructure without paying for it while carrying on like it’s their entitlement.

I feel threatened by Gerrymandering, where representing land is equal to representing people. I feel threatened by successful people who threaten others who are less fortunate if their payday isn’t preserved by objecting to bail outs and corporate tax breaks. I feel threatened by an ignorant population who vote against their own interests because they’ve been brainwashed into believing education is a socialist entitlement. I feel threatened by politicians who believe having 40 million of their own countrymen go without health security is OK.

And I feel very threatened by a polarized country, where everyone has been frightened into protecting themselves first. Who are so concerned about their own well being that they have taken their eyes off the driver of our bus. I feel threatened by those who are all to ready to fight their for their corner at the expense of the common good for a country in rapid decline.

Being free means you are free to fail as well as succeed. But when the people who represent you stack the deck against you by pushing laws that weaken your stake in this country, freedom has failed, and many died in vein.

Give them what they want!!

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It seems to me that there was some unfinished business left in Iraq. But before you tee off on me, let me categorically state that the 2nd Iraqi war was an ill-conceived idea. Though Saddam Hussein was the devil to a majority of his own people, and a growing threat to the region, he was the devil we knew.

What is it about a certain segment of the American political apparatus that feels “Freedom”, USA Style is an exportable commodity. That we can act with impunity when we make these decisions. Well, there is some unfinished business alright, and I think that the time has come to finish what was started.

Why? Because we are not dealing with an adversary that have stated goals other than to glorify god by killing non- believers, defenseless or not.. If that is left unchecked they will not go away, it will only emboldened them to spread out and kill more people, gathering more band wagoners and growing as they go along. The last time a group such as ISIS made threats like, “raising the flag of Allah over the White House”, passenger jets were flown into skyscrapers. So, I see no other alternative other than giving them what they want, and going back in. Keep in mind, that if Isis can get past the Kurds, the Caucasus region via Iran to the North East is also a festering region of religious based anti-western hatred waiting for a dance partner. It’s World War lll and it’s on!

This time however,  Russia, Germany, The U.K., France, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Syria must form an alliance with us. All these countries risk losing plenty if ISIS is left unchecked, and because they stand to lose the most , they should foot the bill.  Americans can deliver the sweat equity, we’re good at that.  The pompous, two faced rulers of the gulf states, who’ve sown the seeds of discontent in their region by stifling opposition in order to preserve a payday they feel is their god given right, need to get their hands dirty or lose it all. If they don’t want to fight, pay.

Our way of life, which among other things, consists of questioning conventional wisdom, striving to attain things out of our reach and choosing what we worship is at risk. Spilling blood to preserve that isn’t debatable. If it is, we’re doomed!