Category Archives: The UkeTones

Hot Air

Money & Music

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), acc’d’g to sources, has discovered that Chateau Thomas hasn’t been paying licensing fees for music played by the winery’s performers at its three locations. ASCAP and its clone-y org., BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), collect musical licensing fees and distribute the swag to the creative souls who wrote them. Sounds fair, right?

Chateau Thomas

It isn’t. If it only were a matter of songwriters getting their fair share of the dough people make singing their ditties, that would be cool. But the people ASCAP and BMI primarily rep are the big-assed impresarios and corporations that own the rights to said songs. And never forget that the big-assed outfits (pun intended) employed every conceivable method, legit and otherwise, to corner the music market, not always to the benefit of musicians. Wait, let me amend that; rarely to their benefit.

As a result of ASCAP’s detective work, Chat. Tom. apparently has canceled its schedule of upcoming live performances. The fees ASCAP is demanding, it seems, are too much for the winery to bear.

It’s not that Chat. Tom. is particularly nefarious in this little dust-up. Dozens of Bloomington businesses that cater to the public play recorded music — CDs and mp3 cuts — for which they neglect to pay rights fees to BMI. The idea being Nicki Minaj, for example, slaved over her notepad, pencil in hand, creating these eternally beloved lyrics:

You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe [x3]
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)

[From Stupid Hoe, written by Nicki Minaj and Tina Dunham, produced by DJ Diamond Kuts and Pink Friday Productions, released by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Universal Republic Records.]

and so deserves a pct. of every dollar anybody makes playing her music.

Technically, when the UkeTones play Stairway to Heaven either they or the venue at which they perform the opus must kick a piece of the evening’s take to ASCAP. And should the UTs record the classic (a million-seller if I’ve ever heard of one) not only would they have to pay an upfront rights fee, but any public business that played the CD would have to pay its share. Imagine how much more wealthy the already-loaded Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would become in such an eventuality.


The UkeTones

Now, on the other side of the coin, Krista Detor might say Hey, if you play Red Velvet Box at NYC’s Carnegie Hall, you’d better fork over my share of that gate. Detor owns the rights to her music so she’d benefit. Then again, it’s doubtful Hugh and Vusi Masekela will be playing that particular piece at their Hall gig, October 10th. (Although I don’t see why not.)

Chat. Tom.’s Music on the Veranda Series and Singer/Songwriter Series, for instance, last weekend offered diverse acts including Mojo Gumbo, Gary Applegate, Rose Perry, the Foster Jones band, and Two for the Show.

This coming weekend? No such luck.

[Head over to Jeff Foster’s FB page for some very informative takes on artists and their licensing fees.]

13 Years

I’d just started seeing The Loved One when 9/11 happened. That’s why I have no particularly warm and fuzzy memories of our early days as a couple.  The days seemed oppressive and glum in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Even the music I was listening to at the time still seems fraught with dread and fright and so I can’t listen to those discs to this day. One in particular, the Ivy disc Long Distance, was about to become one of my mainstays. I listened to it a couple of times a day back then, having bought it, IIRC, on September 7th, Friday. Since then, no. In fact, I may have given it away.

I didn’t throw TLC away, though, nor she me and that was good. We met in Winnemac Park, across Foster Avenue from her house, in the early afternoon on that ironically crisp and clear and gorgeous day, just to console ourselves. Chicago’s downtown had been evacuated and so she was home from work. I recall noticing a squadron of Air Force fighters passing high overhead, circling the city just in case. We held hands and didn’t say much to each other. It was enough to feel the warmth of another human being’s hand.

USAF Fighter

Over Chicago

The next day, I bought one of those plastic American flags with suction cups so you could attach it to your windshield. I put it on my motorcycle’s faring. I’m not a flag guy, never have been. But I felt as though I ought to join the crowd just this once. Believe me, I know what bastards we are to much of the rest of the world but I truly believed the terrorists who attacked us came from a culture of hatred and death. Yeah, our oil policies have screwed the majority of the world but I never quite bought the terrorists’ argument that they were lashing out at us because of that.

Anyway, just as soon as the invasion of Afghanistan was announced I took the flag off my bike. It’s one thing to show solidarity with my countrypeople  when we’re under attack. It’s quite another to stay all jingoistic when our unsurpassed military is mowing the enemy down like blades of grass. Besides, Gen. Tommy Franks didn’t need any help from the likes of me.


Tommy Franks Didn’t Need Me

Everybody, it seemed in the days after the strike, felt we’d be attacked again sooner rather than later. I don’t know precisely why but I was sure the attacks were a one-off thing. It was known almost immediately that maybe a couple of dozen guys had pulled the operation off. They’d slipped through whatever security precautions the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA had set up at the time. They’d picked a time and a spot where we were most vulnerable. And they had great good luck on their side. None of those conditions would be extant again for a good long time, I felt.

That’s why I figured it was foolish to invade Afghanistan, especially since the Taliban had expressed its condolences and was cooperating with the US in attempting to seize and extradite Osama bin Laden. But all those neo-conservatives who surround George W. Bush and who wanted to remake the Middle East saw their own singular, perfect opportunity to do some map redrawing.

And then, after toppling the Taliban, we decided to forget about bin Laden and gobble up another chunk of that corner of the world, Iraq.

bin Laden

Aw, Forget About Him

Today, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is safe or stable. We’ve spent trillions of dollars, lost thousands of our own warriors, wasted several hundred thousand Afghans and Iraqis, and both countries remain as much — or more — of a pain in our collective ass as they were before 9/11.

No wonder I had such a sense of foreboding in the days after the attacks.

Hot, Island-y Air

I’ve come a long way, baby!

Cigarette Ad

I stepped into the Players Pub to catch an early Friday evening set yesterday. I immediately flashed back ten years, imagining myself still living in Chi., on a road trip perhaps, stopping for a bite and to stretch my legs in this place in this town I’d never really heard of.

I’d think, Cool, a little music with my dinner. I’m gonna check out the local fauna here.

And what would I see? Three very nice, very respectable, very proper femmes d’une certaine age strumming ukuleles and chirping well-worn chestnuts like Eight Days a Week, These Boots Were Made for Walking, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

My jaw would drop and I’d think, Man alive! I had no idea I was in East Bumfuck, Iowa.

I’d think, Sheesh! This joint makes Peoria look like Vienna, Austria.

I’d think, Eek! Get me outta here before the waitress serves me possum.

How quaint these tillers of the soil and John Deere tractor showroom secretaries are, no?

No. Not quaint at all.



And damned good.

I saw last night the UkeTones, Bloomington’s latest rage. Yeah, the PP was jammed to the rafters.


The UkeTones — They All Wear Glasses, For Pete’s Sake!

Bossman Joe Estivill scuttled by, lugging a bus tray himself — that’s how busy his joint was. Yo, Joe, I called out, is it always this busy on a Friday night?

“No, it isn’t,” he called back over his shoulder. “They love the ukulele girls.”

And so do I. If this is Bumfuck, Iowa, count me a proud citizen thereof.

I highly recommend the UkeTones. They’ll play again at the PP in January. Their Friday night gig is pretty much a monthly affair at this point.

I have to admit, though, one fan paused between forks-full to shout out Free Bird.

And I get the feeling, based on lead singer Susan Sandberg’s response, that the trio’d actually played the southern rock classic in response to an earlier call-out. I don’t know. I didn’t have time to chat the dames up between sets; I’d only had two quarters in my pocket and thus could only stay for a half hour (damn those new parking meters).

The other UkeTones are Reina Wong and Ellen Campbell — and Ellen Campell really puts her whole body into her performance. I’d say she rocks out if I weren’t so terrified that the kids would snigger at me.

It was a half hour well-spent.

Who knows? Maybe it’s that I, too, am now an homme d’une certaine age.

Or maybe I was never really such a sophisticate as I’d have liked everyone to think.

Either way, I had a blast at the Players Pub last night.

Like I said, I’ve come a long way.