The Hills’ Doug Reinhardt and Fiancée Mia Irons Announce Birth of Twin Boys After 36 Days In the Hospital

Doug Reinhardt The Hills alum Dough Reinhardt is no longer staring at a blank page because his future is clear. He’s officially a dad of two!
The former reality star and his fiancée Mia Irons…

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Doug Ewert to Leave as CEO of Tailored Brands in September

Tailored Brands caused a few jaws to drop Tuesday afternoon when it said that Doug Ewert, its longtime chief executive officer, will be retiring from his position and his post on the board on Sept. 30. At the same time, Bruce Thorn resigned from his position as president and chief operating officer, effective Aug. 31. The company said Thorn is leaving to pursue another opportunity and his new role is expected to be revealed shortly.
Tailored Brands said that “to ensure an orderly transition,” Ewert will serve as a strategic adviser to the company until the end of the calendar year. The board is currently initiating “a comprehensive search process” to identify a new ceo.
Ewert did not respond to a request for further comment on Tuesday.
Ewert, 54, has been with the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank for more than two decades. But his tenure in the past few years has been rocky. He was at the helm of the business during a nasty, public fight with the corporation’s founder, George Zimmer, that resulted in Zimmer being ousted from the firm in 2013.
Ewert was also in charge during the $ 1.8 billion acquisition of competitor Jos. A. Bank Clothiers

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CEO Talks: Tailored Brands’ Doug Ewert and His Unwavering Focus

It was a David-and-Goliath-type of situation when the Men’s Wearhouse was negotiating to buy its archrival Jos. A. Bank a little more than four years ago. There was a back-and-forth bidding war between the competitors and ultimately, the larger Men’s Wearhouse walked away victorious.
But be careful what you wish for.
While the merger created the largest men’s specialty store chain in the U.S., the $ 1.8 billion acquisition added a hefty amount of debt to Men’s Wearhouse’s balance sheet and the Bank business was in worse shape than its acquirer realized. The promotional strategy it used to drive sales — buy-one-get-one, two, three or even seven, free — was unsustainable.
For two years, chief executive officer Doug Ewert took heat from Wall Street as he worked tirelessly to turn the Bank business around. Today, the newly named Tailored Brands Inc. has turned the corner, quadrupling profits in 2017 and posting comparable-store sales gains at its flagship Men’s Wearhouse and the Jos. A. Bank division.
Here, Ewert discusses the challenging journey to prosperity, the outlook for both businesses as well as its Joseph Abboud brand, its Moores division in Canada, the K&G superstore concept, and the outsized growth the company is experiencing in custom clothing.
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Walmart’s Doug McMillon’s Pay Tops $22 Million

Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart Inc., saw his total compensation rise 2 percent last year to $ 22.8 million, according to a regulatory filing. Most of that came from $ 15.7 million in stock awards, the ultimate value of which is tied to the company’s share price. He also drew a salary of $ 1.3 million and received incentive pay of $ 4.7 million.
Greg Foran, ceo of Walmart U.S., saw his pay slip 4.6 percent to $ 11 million.
Marc Lore, ceo of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business, received total compensation of $ 10.3 million — a big drop from the $ 243.9 million he reeled in during the prior year, although most of that came from his sale of Jet.com to the retail giant.
Lore is helping lead the company’s battle with online giant Amazon.
Under new rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company also reported that its median pay, excepting the ceo, was $ 19,177. That means McMillon brings in 1,118-times what the median Walmart worker does.
More from WWD:
Amazon, Wal-Mart and Apple Top List of Biggest E-commerce
Walmart Rejigs Apparel as It Battles Amazon
Amazon, Walmart Expanding Fashion Horizons
 

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Christina El Moussa Returns to Work with Ex-Husband Tarek After Splitting from Boyfriend Doug Spedding

 

A year and a half after splitting, Christina and Tarek El Moussa still have a strong professional relationship.

The Flip or Flop stars were spotted working together in Yorba Linda, California, on Thursday, as news broke that Christina, 34, had split from her boyfriend Doug Spedding, 55.

In Touch first reported that Christina had ended her romance with the businessman, who has entered an in-patient rehabilitation center for addiction issues.

A source confirmed the breakup to PEOPLE, saying Christina “supports Doug’s decision to seek treatment and remains in contact to support his recovery.”

Christina and Spedding had been dating since this summer. In July, PEOPLE reported that the pair, who were linked before her marriage to Tarek, had reconnected.

“Their children are only a few years apart, so they’ve been doing a lot of activities with the kids: ice skating, swimming, BBQs, just low-key stuff at home,” a source said about Christina and Spedding, who is a father of six. “Christina respects that he is a great father; he’s always present when it comes to his children and isn’t distracted by his phone and social media. They’re just taking it slow and enjoying their time together.”

RELATED VIDEO: Christina and Tarek El Moussa’s Divorce Has Not Stopped Their Business Relationship

 

Christina and Tarek, 36, quietly separated in May 2016 following a bizarre incident involving a gun.

She submitted her divorce documents in August, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the breakup and requesting joint legal and physical custody of their two children: daughter Taylor, 6, and son Brayden, 2.

They continue to film Flip or Flop together.

The two are also co-executive producers on Chi-Town Flop, which follows husband-and-wife team Bryan and Maira Segal as they transform homes in the Windy City using the same model as Tarek and Christina’s successful series.

“We’ve been working together for a really long time,” Tarek told PEOPLE in August of the former couple’s dynamic as business partners. “It’s our job. Obviously, we know each other really well.”


PEOPLE.com

Fashion Deals Update:

Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Fanatics Authentic Framed 15″ x 17″ Collage with Piece of Game-Used Football

Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Fanatics Authentic Framed 15″ x 17″ Collage with Piece of Game-Used Football


Each collectible comes designed with a photo of the player and home stadium, a team logo, and an actual piece of game-used football from a Dallas Cowboys game (not from any specific season, event, or game). It is officially licensed by the National Football League and comes with a statement of authenticity from Fanatics Authentic. It is framed in black wood and measures 15″ x 17″ x 1″.
List Price: $ 79.99
Price: $ 79.99

Melissa and Doug House Pets Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug House Pets Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea


Three favorite pets live in this cozy blue house are always ready for puzzle play. This extra thick wooden puzzle includes three pieces, with jumbo wooden knobs for easy grasping. Full-color, matching pictures appear underneath each piece. A great activity to encourage eye-hand and visual perception skills.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Fire Chief Deluxe Role Play Set Ages 3 and up, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Fire Chief Deluxe Role Play Set Ages 3 and up, 1 ea


Here is everything your fire fighter needs in an emergency: a bright red, machine-washable jacket trimmed with reflective material, a fire chief helmet, a fire extinguisher, a bullhorn with sound effects, a shiny badge and a name tag for personalizing. Image shows bothboys and girls in costume. Includes one costume only. One size fits ages 3 – 6 years.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Fanatics Authentic Framed 15″ x 17″ Collage with Piece of Game-Used Football

Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Fanatics Authentic Framed 15″ x 17″ Collage with Piece of Game-Used Football


Each collectible comes designed with a photo of the player and home stadium, a team logo, and an actual piece of game-used football from a Dallas Cowboys game (not from any specific season, event, or game). It is officially licensed by the National Football League and comes with a statement of authenticity from Fanatics Authentic. It is framed in black wood and measures 15″ x 17″ x 1″.
List Price: $ 79.99
Price: $ 63.99

Melissa and Doug Princess Role Play Set Ages 3-6, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Princess Role Play Set Ages 3-6, 1 ea


Your little princess will make a grand entrance to the ball, or anywhere in her kingdom, in this pink and cream satin and tulle gown. Accents of silver sparkles and shiny pink ribbons adorn the glamorous attire. Both a silvery crown and wand are included to complete the ensemble and to add glitter to any festive occasion!

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Pirate Costume Ages 3 and up, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Pirate Costume Ages 3 and up, 1 ea


Yo ho ho and a costume for fun! Every young pirate will be ready for adventures on the high seas with this dramatic role play outfit and accessories. The set includes a pirate hat, eye patch, hook hand, and is completed by a jaunty piratical vest that holds a sword and a telescope. Recommended Ages: 3 – 6 years

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Surgeon Puppet Ages 3 and up, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Surgeon Puppet Ages 3 and up, 1 ea


Scalpel! Sutures! Dr. Susan Chartwell is ready to scrub in in order to bring better health to everyone you know. Use one hand to manipulate the puppet s mouth and facial expressions, while gesturing with the removable wooden rod with the other. Detachable rod is suitable for lefties or righties! Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 6.5 Assembled

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Barnyard Animals Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Barnyard Animals Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea


Charming farm friends live in the red barn and are always ready for puzzle play. This extra thick wooden puzzle includes three pieces, with jumbo wooden knobs for easy grasping. Full-color, matching pictures appear underneath each piece. A great activity to encourage eye-hand and visual perception skills.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Jenna Doll, Ages 3+, 12″, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Jenna Doll, Ages 3+, 12″, 1 ea


Jenna is the ideal, sweet smelling, first-born baby doll. Even the youngest mommy will love her sweet face and soft, cuddly body. She is pretty in pink from head to toe, in a removable, smocked, onesie and matching cap. Her eyes open and close, and she can suck her thumb or her pacifier.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Large Shapes Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Large Shapes Jumbo Knob Ages 1+, 1 ea


Eight familiar shapes are brightly colored with bold outlines. Extra thick wooden puzzle includes eight pieces, with jumbo wooden knobs for easy grasping. Full-color, matching pictures appear underneath each piece. Encourage eye-hand, fine motor and visual perception skills.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Vehicles Sound Blocks Ages 2+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Vehicles Sound Blocks Ages 2+, 1 ea


Hear the sounds of six favorite vehicles when the two wooden cubes are properly placed in the wooden tray! Fire engine and steam train are among the featured vehicles in this match and listen activity. Find the halves that match and hear six different, realistic sounds. Develops visual perception and fine motor skills.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Ages 2+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Ages 2+, 1 ea


The pegs on the bench go up and down, playing peek-a-boo on this solid wood pounding activity. Non-removable pegs take turns showing their smiles while your toddler has fun naming the colors and enjoys practicing fine motor skills. A sturdy mallet is included.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks Play Set

Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks Play Set


Melissa & Doug Farm Blocks Play Set: Each block in the set is made of wood, sized to fit in little handsEntire set comes in a 10-1/2″ x 13-3/4 x 2″ wooden storage trayComplete package include 1 tractor, 2 cows, 2 pigs, 3 horses, 2 sheep, 2 trees, 3 rooftop blocks, 3 silo blocks, 3 hen house blocks, 2 side barn blocks, 2 barn entrance blocks, 2 barn door blocks, 2 roof side blocks, 1 barn ceiling platform block, 6 fence blocks and 1 storage trayRecommended for ages 3 and upPromotes creative expression and helps develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordinationImported kids’ learning toyModel: MD531

Price: $
Sold by Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Melissa and Doug Brianna 12″ Doll Ages 18 months+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Brianna 12″ Doll Ages 18 months+, 1 ea


This sweet smelling, soft-bodied baby doll is just waiting for a little mommy to love her! With her open and close eyes, and shiny brunette hair, Brianna comes in a removable two-piece outfit with a charming embroidered heart and flower. She can suck her thumb or her included pacifier, lie down or sit up. just like a real baby!

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Melissa & Doug Victoria, 14″ Ballerina Doll

Melissa & Doug Victoria, 14″ Ballerina Doll


Melissa & Doug Victoria, 14″ Ballerina Doll:14″ brunette ballerina dollIncludes removable dance outfit and accessories: pink leotard, tutu, ballet slippers, tights and hair ruffleSmooth, tangle-resistant hair is brushable and easy to stylePosable arms and legsSweet, baby-powder scent

Price: $
Sold by Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Melissa and Doug Safari Social Floor Puzzle, Ages 3+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Safari Social Floor Puzzle, Ages 3+, 1 ea


A bunch of wild animals are having a party with a bunch of bananas in this wild animal cardboard floor puzzle. 2 x 3 when complete, it features 24 extra-thick pieces that are 20% thicker than the competition s. Its easy-clean surface keeps puzzle looking new.

Price: $
Sold by drugstore.com

Venice Biennale Arte 2015: Doug Argue’s Scattered Rhymes, a Satellite Exhibit You’ll Want to See

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On May 9th the 2015 Venice Biennale Arte officially opens to the public. Yet for the last week the Jewel of the Adriatic has been buzzing with activity. The stylish art crowd, dressed with a proper dose of eccentricity, arrived early and from around the globe. Holding envied invitations to a plethora of exhibit inaugurations and vernissage, the press, contemporary artists, patrons and the who’s who of the art world crossed ancient thresholds into Venetian gardens, Renaissance palaces, galleries and the multitude of Country sponsored pavilions to raise their prosecco chalices to creative expression.

Last Wednesday, Save Venice, the New York based organization which has raised more than 20 million dollars to restore 400 works of art and architecture in Venice, Italy, debuted as an advocate for contemporary art. A cherished invitation to their event led me passed the Accademia di Belle Arti–Academy of Fine Arts–down a tight secluded alleyway lit by a sliver of early evening sky, and into Doug Argue’s Scattered Rhymes satellite Biennale exhibit. Off the calle and up worn marble steps, I entered the 15th century Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo’s rectangular shaped magazzino where four aging brick walls, an ancient wood beamed ceiling and floor contrast and embrace the American artist’s four Venetian inspired oil on canvas pieces. Time and Again, Cosa Mentale, Mother Tongue and my favorite, Calle: a 91 x 280 inch blast of color, energy and light. Mr. Argue, a talented and gracious man, explained that the sliver of Venetian sky I had left in the alleyway was his inspiration for this painting. Perhaps that explains why I find Calle–Italian for alley–so intriguing.

Gazillion miniscule drops of color cover the enormous canvas like the aurora borealis weaving through the Milky Way. Calle, like Argue’s other three works on display, draws you in and holds you there to study and examine its detail only to send you across the room, never letting you take your eyes away, until you’re drawn back, once again, to discover tiny letters falling across the canvas forming the word consolations; bits of communication floating in the midst of a grand presence connect, like the night sky, to deliver a larger message.

What makes the piece all the more interesting is Mr. Argue’s technique of using the brush and medical syringes to create a constellation of texture, movement, and layers. Holding a syringe loaded with paint in one hand and standing above the blank canvas that he had extended across the floor, Argue used the palm of his other hand to shoot the color up into the air, injection after injection, and let the drops fall onto the canvas. Drops form more perfect circles when they fall freely, is what he told me.

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Born in St. Paul, Minnesota and now based in New York City, Doug Argue was twenty-four years old when he first visited Venice, Italy. Now, almost thirty years later, he describes the work he is proud to exhibit in the city that continues to inspire him–words I think well define Venice and her contemporary dilemmas, too:

“There are many different histories in the world, in both art and politics, and we often see things in the current moment, yet have no idea what lies beneath. One language is always turning into another, one generation is always rising and another falling, there is no still moment. I am trying to express this flux–this constant shifting of one thing over another, like a veil over the moment itself.”

Recently, two of Doug Argue’s paintings were commissioned for the lobby of One World Trade Center in Manhattan, and others are held in the collections at the Minneapolis Institue of Art and the Weisman Art Museum. Other pieces have been shown in solo exhibitions from Santa Monica, California to Yerevan, Armenia. Now, I expect, and hope, that his Venetian inspired pieces will find good homes, too. My “know what you like, know what you don’t like” layperson’s opinion is that Calle merits a special place–perhaps in a European or American modern art museum, where the Venetian sky can be seen by many and for many generations to come.

Doug Argue’s Scattered Ryhmes Exhibit
5 May-30 September 2015
Palazzo Contarini del Zaffo, Dorsoduro 878, Venice
http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/05-03.html

Save Venice, Inc.
http://www.savevenice.org/

La Biennale d’Arte di Venezia
9 May-22 November 2015
http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/05-03.html

Follow Marie Ohanesian Nardin
https://www.facebook.com/authormarieohanesiannardin?ref=hl

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Chatting with The Boxmasters’ Billy Bob Thornton & J.D. Andrew, Plus Goodnight Moonshine, Lines West and Doug Burr Exclusives

GOODNIGHT MOONSHINE’S “DARK SIDE OF THE RAINBOW” MASHES PINK FLOYD WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ

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photo courtesy of Seth Cohen PR

The video of the song “Dark Side of the Rainbow” is a mashup of Pink Floyd’s “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon, and “Over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. Their aim is to pull back the curtain not only the urban legend of the Pink Floyd album but also to reveal the tension that often exists within a new marriage.

According to Eben Pariser…

“The whole thing emerged from the 90s phenomenon of syncing The Wizard of Oz movie to the Dark Side of the Moon album, and all the speculation that the coincidences were way too precise for Pink Floyd to not be in on it, especially since they were making movie soundtracks at the time. When I was 16 (after allegedly indulging in the stoner-sport of syncing the film to the album,) I spontaneously realized that ‘Time’ was in fact a perfect reharmonization of ‘Over The Rainbow’–but it took me 16 more years to find the right vehicle to record and perform the mashup, in my lovely wife Molly and our collaboration, Goodnight Moonshine.'”

According to Molly Ventor…

“We set out wanting to convince people that Pink Floyd intentionally synched the album to​ The Wizard of Oz. During the filming, we realized how closely the 2 sets of lyrics paralleled the different sides of a longstanding philosophical argument we’d been having;​ Venter believing that much in life is out of one’s control and that we must remain hopeful and optimistic, Pariser believing more in the power of individual will and action, and that missed opportunities are one’s own fault. Through the taping we recognized​ we were each trying to convince the other of our own life perspective. ​The video captures how painful that endeavor is. We’re a newlywed couple, letting you in on our life together through our music. All the good stuff, but also the dark stuff, challenging stuff–the stuff that often goes unsaid. No kitsch. And largely positive and healing through the revelation that we are at the core, just normal folks trying to make a marriage work. A positive loving relationship, and a deeply artistic and somewhat daring one.”

For more on : http://www.goodnightmoonshine.com

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A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton

Mike Ragogna: Billy, your group The Boxmasters has been working on its double CD Somewhere Down The Road for a while now. How does The Boxmasters hit you these days as opposed to when you were just starting out with the group?

Billy Bob Thornton: In the beginning, we didn’t really know how long it would last. It was kind of like a side project for my solo stuff. We thought we’d make that record and maybe another one and that would be it. It began as a sort of stylized thing. We were experimenting with a combination of British Invasion and hillbilly music and putting them together and wearing the suits in tribute to the sixties, which is the era we love. The first two or three records were almost like art projects. Like I said, they were very stylized. If you remember the first Boxmasters record, it had transitional music, so it never stopped. We put an extra CD of covers in each record as a bonus, songs we loved and that inspired and influenced us.

After those records were done and we parted ways with Vanguard Records, we thought we’d gone as far as we could. Then all of a sudden, we just started writing songs and playing the way we naturally sound as opposed to trying for a specific thing. On the first record, we were doing Mott The Hoople, The Beatles, The Byrds and singing it like David Allan Coe. Then JD and Brad and I started writing these songs and we just played them the way we naturally sound. As it turns out, the reason we made this new record a double is because we sound like two things. We have that moody sort of dark, atmospheric sound, and then we have this very late sixties LA country rock sound in the vein of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Burrito Brothers, with some influence of Petty and people like that. We discovered that that’s who we really are. We’ve written probably two or three hundred songs that aren’t even on records; we’ve got five or six songs that have already been mastered that aren’t out. We’re just going to sell those records on the website because we’ve got so many. That sound on Somewhere Down The Road–on the first side especially–is kind of what those other songs sound like. We’ve kind of finally settled into that.

MR: Do you feel like you guys reached this point creatively because of what’s going on in your personal lives? Maybe you’ve “matured” in some ways, if that’s the right word?

BT: I think that’s a good word for it. We have matured as songwriters, musicians, singers, everything. I think you can’t help doing something for so long that you’re just going to get better. We’ve gotten better over the years. I think we have more confidence. We know we can write songs and we know we can write songs that people can respond to as opposed to whatever weird stuff is in our head that we experiment with. I think we have definitely matured. I think recording is probably my favorite thing to do in music. We love playing live, that’s a great thing, but being in the recording studio is such a part of our souls and so natural to us. I love acting, I love doing movies and I love music, I love them all equally, but I think I only like the process of actually doing the stuff. I love the process of recording, I love the process of doing movies as an actor, I just don’t like all the other junk that’s involved with it. So maybe in the recording studio, you just feel exempt from everything when you’re in there. It’s like you’re hidden in a cave somewhere alone doing what you’re feeling in the moment. I guess that’s why we recorded so many songs; we just keep going. Even ones that aren’t intended to come out maybe. We get an idea for a song that probably isn’t commercially viable but we record it anyway because we want to.

MR: The process is more important than an end result. How is your creative expression different or the same in the fields of acting and music?

BT: They both really do feed my soul. Not only are they both very cathartic–I know that word is probably very overused but they truly are–but I just love the artistry of both. The thing is you get to experience what’s in your mind in different ways. It feels the same inside, it’s just as good both ways, but you get to experience your art in a different way. But to me, they’re really the same thing, just expressed in different ways. I never expected to become and actor of any stature. It just kind of happened. Because of that I always approach things this way: I’d rather have a hundred or two hundred really hardcore fans than millions of fans who just treat it like anything else and you get slagged off half the time and some of them are sort of interested or some hate it and some like it. It’s that end result thing you were talking about. I don’t do anything with that in mind. I never expect that we’re going to have a hit and I don’t particularly care if we do. It would be wonderful, but that’s not why we do it. That’s not why I do anything in movies either.

MR: You talked about fans who would really “get” what you put out. Can you identify what that kind of fan is, what your core fans love about The Boxmasters?

BT: Generally, our fans are people who like an eclectic mix of things. They’re people who aren’t diehard rock ‘n’ roll fans or die hard country fans, it’s kind of hard to identify our music and I think it’s kind of hard to identify our fans. We tend to have fans that are either forties and fifties and up or twenty year-olds. It’s sort of that middle range in there, people from thirty to forty, I don’t think we have as many of them for some reason. That could be because of whatever time they grew up in. I think maybe people in that age range were sort of spoon fed a particular fashion statement and things were put in boxes more when those people were growing up, whereas when I was growing up everything was very eclectic. I listened to Hank Williams and The Mothers Of Invention in the same day, and the radio would play James Taylor and Black Sabbath on the same station.

I think maybe the reason we have some younger fans is because that’s sort of starting to come back around. A lot of people are really down on music right now, but I see that even sometimes people of my generation are the ones trying to fit into a mold more and more. You see guys who were singing Vietnam protest songs and now they’re on the cover of a magazine doing a duet with a pop star so they can remain current. I’m finding that some of the guys in the younger bands are real fans of The Boxmasters because they themselves are looking for their thing like we were in the sixties. So when they hear something slightly off the beaten path they really dig it. I actually have hope for music right now. I really do. I didn’t before. Everybody knows the eighties was kind of a bizarre generation. The nineties had a little resurgence but then it kind of went away for a decade or so, but I think it’s really coming back. People are looking for different things. People are listening to certain metal bands as well as Mumford and Sons or the Old Crow Medicine Show, people like that. I think it’s on an upswing. Also young kids, say teenagers up until young twenties, are discovering The Beatles and Buffalo Springfield and Aerosmith and whoever it was along the way. There are plenty of twenty year olds who listen to Deep Purple and Zeppelin and The Who and everything like that.

MR: Since you’re a pretty solid music expert, doesn’t understanding what went into making classic, high-quality albums make the process a bit intimidating for you? Like how do you balance striving for that caliber while just expressing yourself and letting creativity flow?

BT: I think it’s two things. One is never forgetting history. Never forget that history of all the great classic albums over the years, letting them influence you and not being ashamed to say, “Yeah, absolutely, we were trying to be The Beatles” or The Stones or The Animals or whatever, that’s our desire. The bar was set very high for people of my generation. We all wanted to be The Beatles and we knew we were never going to be, that it was going to be impossible. You’re always reaching for an impossible goal, so you never get lazy about it. You’re always striving and you’re always desperate for acceptance and approval and everything. When the bar has been set that high you just never stop trying. At the same time, a good part of that is you have such great music and songwriting to draw from, you let it wash over you and influence you.

The second part is that you have to remain open to new things. We’re not trying to just copy old stuff that we love. We’re knot like that. We’re truly not the old guys chasing the kids out of the yard. We really do respect the evolution of music. I think you have to be open, resect the evolution of music and at the same time hold on to your history. You put those two things together and it’s very satisfying to you. Whether anybody is going to respond to it or not, that’s up to them. We have no control over it, but for us, if we accomplish those things, always striving to get better, always striving to be open to new possibilities and yet never letting our history die in our minds, the best of you comes out and you know at the end of the day that you’re not leaving any stone unturned. It’s very satisfying.

MR: These two CDs represent a fraction of the songs that you’ve recorded. So what was the assembly process like that led to this particular album?

BT: We were writing new songs to make an album, but when you’re writing songs, one day you may not feel a song that’s in that vein, so you write something else. It’s like, “Well, that doesn’t belong here. I love the song but it just doesn’t belong in this particular group of songs that we started.” So we took the maybe twenty or so songs that we had that were new and said, “Wow, we’ve only got five of these jangly, Byrds-like LA rock songs and we’ve got seven of these moody things. That doesn’t make one album.” So we went back into some of the songs we’d written before. I think the earliest ones on this record are from 2010. There were two or three of those that exactly fit what we were doing now. We had started writing this whole record of very sixties-like songs using a Farfisa Vox Continental Organ, and we said, “You know what? If that organ was a B3 instead those songs would totally fit this record.” So we had Teddy Andreadis, our keyboard player, just come over and replace the Farfisa with a B3 and suddenly they belonged on the album. Once we got those songs together, the label people, Mark and Tammy Collie who signed us to 101 Ranch Records, had certain favorites that were in the moodier side. We side, “Gosh, we don’t want to put out just a moody record right now because we want people to hear these pop rock songs. Let’s ask them if we can do a double album.” They were all for it. I guess, as they say, it was no skin off their nose. We ended up saying, “Well look, these are the songs we love; let’s just make two records.”

So we wrote new songs and collected ones from other recording sessions that just fit and ended up with the two records we really wanted. The other five or six records that we had finished we didn’t want to break up because they fit together too. There are songs from all of those records that could’ve gone on this, and as a matter of fact some songs where we were like, “I wish we could put this on here, it really fits,” but we didn’t want to break those records up. As a result, we ended up saying, “We’ll sell those on the website at a later time.” We do have a real nice cult following, people who really love us. There aren’t a lot of them, but they’re great. We thought, “What we’ll do is we’ll even maybe put out five song or six song EPs of songs we don’t have enough of that style to make a whole record.” Some of them are even in demo form. We thought it might be interesting every now and then to put on the website a five song EP of songs that aren’t even finished, so people can hear what it’s like before, say, the lead guitar’s on there, or there’s no background vocals or something like that. Then later on, we’ll finish those and put them up finished.

MR: To me, the title track, “Somewhere Down The Road,” is the centerpiece of the album. For you, are there a couple of other tracks that are really important for the project?

BT: There’s a song on the first side called “This Game Is Over” which is a particular favorite of ours. On the moody side there’s a song called “What Did You Do Today?” which I think is what they’re putting out on Americana radio mainly and a song called “Somewhere” that we’re really in love with. It’s a very different-sounding song. It’s got a very different chord progression and I sing it slightly differently. But you love all your songs and you hope other people will, but sometimes you might have a favorite song that nobody else responds to and then you have another song where you say, “Eh, that’s kind of a standard song,” and everybody’s crazy about it. You never know. But “This Game Is Over,” a song called “Getting Past The Lullaby,” which I think is a beautiful song. Anybody who loves their mother is going to love that song.

MR: What do you feel about The Boxmasters’ legacy? When you look at this body of your work as well as the unreleased albums, what are your observations?

BT: I truly believe that if we had been twenty-five or thirty years old in 1968 or 1973, we would have been a huge band. I think we probably make music the way we do and with the passion that we do for thirty or forty years from now and not for today. I feel that someday, we will be an appreciated band, so I kind of look at it that way. We do it for ourselves and we do it the way we feel. We don’t craft anything tailor-made to be a hit, but I do believe that someday when people hear the thousand songs that we have I think some music geek is going to say, “Hey, you know what? I think these guys are worth their salt.”

MR: Billy, what advice do you have for new artists?

BT: I would say first and foremost learn the history. It’s like for you, as a journalist and as a writer, someone who is a fan but also makes a living at it, if you didn’t know who Walter Cronkite was, or Edward R. Murrow or Mark Twain or Jim Morrison or Chuck Berry was, if you weren’t real familiar with them, then you don’t have the education that it takes to truly be an artist. I would tell them, “Don’t just look at what’s shiny and bright in front of you right now. Always learn your history.” Also, if you’re a singer or a guitar player or whatever it is, even if your intention is to become famous doing whatever’s popular, if you’re content to let someone else write the songs and you just be the artist, I would say still write anyway. Even if you don’t intend to put it out there, even if you don’t feel it’s good, I think writing is an exercise that just makes you better whether it’s ever going to be seen or heard by the public or not. And write it from your heart and do it the way you feel it. Don’t try to copy anybody. Even if your life is going to be about copying and becoming popular and doing the current thing, I think it’s still important to create what you naturally create. I think it makes you better as a human being and as an artist.

MR: Excellent. Now what’s your advice to yourself?

BT: I think probably the number one best piece of advice for myself, and it’s so hard to do, is to ignore the comments of the now millions and millions of critics. Now with social networks everyone has an opinion and if you rub them the wrong way there’s not anything you can do about what they’re going to say. There’s seriously nothing you can do. So in other words, if they’ve got a bee up their ass about you, let’s say you say something stupid in public and it gets on the news, what an ass you are, if you apologize publicly, which has become a popular thing–“I’ll apologize to everyone”–they’ll say, “Oh, he only did that to help his career.” If you don’t apologize, then you’re an asshole for not apologizing. In other words, I’m trying to learn that there’s not a thing I can do about the people that hate me on the internet. Nothing.

As an artist, you’re sensitive by nature, and probably a little unbalanced, so it gets to you more. I’m trying to learn how to not let my oversensitive nature overtake me and make me stick my head back in the cave and not want to put myself out there. You have to do it. There are a lot of people out there who suffer from this. A lot of people have made comments like this throughout history but I think Jonathan Swift said something like, “…if what a certain writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world, the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” I think you just have to get used to the fact that you’re doing what you love and what you feel and you are at least doing it, so anybody who’s willing to stick their neck out–and I don’t care if it’s the silliest part on the silliest sitcom out there or the deepest Marlon Brando performance out there–both of those people have something in common. Both of them were willing to try.

In that sense, you can’t separate anybody in the entertainment business, no matter if they’re a lightweight or real heavy. If you make a silly, syrupy pop record or you make some masterpiece like Dark Side Of The Moon, the one thing those two have in common is that they both put their necks out of the cave. They’re both willing to do something, so you end up being talked about by people who are not doing anything. We have to pay attention to the people who do, not the people who talk about the people who do. That’s the biggest lesson for me.

MR: Wow. So are you looking forward to the tour as a way to get your head fully back into music for a while?

BT: Yeah, I really am looking forward to it, especially since I’m going out with Brad and Teddy and J.D.. They’re my friends. I don’t have a lot of close friends, I have a lot of acquaintances, but I’m going to be out there on a bus with guys who are my friends and who I spend time with anyway. There’s a certain family camaraderie there. The only bad thing about touring is it’s not a good place for the kids, on the bus and everything. My daughter Bella is now ten. She’s going to be eleven in September and I’m going to miss her a lot. It’s thirty five days, but thirty five days when they’re ten is a big deal. That’s the hardest part of touring. On a movie, it’s different, we just got back from New Mexico and the family went with me because you’re in one spot. On this you just can’t do it. And we’re not spring chickens, either. It’s not like when we were younger. I used to rodeo and I could sleep in the front of a truck while some guy’s driving. It’s not like that anymore. We all try to take all of our vitamins and get ready to go.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

A Conversation with The Boxmasters’ J.D. Andrew

Mike Ragogna: J.D.! You good?

JD Andrew: I’m good! I’m trying to shake the nerves of getting ready to go on tour. I haven’t had a tour where I left my kids for longer than four or five days, so that’s a little nerve wracking right now. Last time I didn’t have any kids when we went so I didn’t have to worry about it.

MR: What’s it like juggling your music duty and being a new dad?

J.D.: Most of the time it’s not too bad. Billy sold his house a couple of years ago, so we don’t have the studio in the house anymore, so we don’t work six days a week fifteen hours a day anymore. If I had the kids and we were still doing that schedule I would probably shoot myself. It’s a lot easier time now, we just go and record when we have some songs or have some time. It’s a lot more relaxing, especially when the kids don’t sleep at night.

MR: So this new album is a double CD, which is pretty ambitious. How did you approach this one? You recorded it progressively over the last few years, right?

J.D.: Mostly. This one was done mostly at Henson studios, some of it was done over at Billy’s house previously, but it started in about 2013 sometime. Brad and Billy wrote “This Game Is Over” and “Sometimes There’s A Reason.” I would call those two songs the touchstones for at least the first CD. They’re all original, both CDs. The first one is kind of more rock ‘n’ roll and jangly sixties country rock stuff and the second one is more of the moody singer-songwriter stuff, more like Billy’s Beautiful Door record, using his Warren Zevon influences and doing that sort of thing. I would say three quarters of this stuff was all done in the past two or three years. Some of it is from five years ago. When we initially met with 101 Ranch they were like, “Give us a record! We want to put it out.” We had so much back catalog material and records finished we initially started just picking songs from everything but we said, “We really want to keep these other records together and release those as they are at some point,” so we said, “Why don’t we just do a double record?” and the label went, “Sure, why not?” That was in some ways easier for us, to concentrate on two different sounds, the two different things that we do rather than figure out how to mix the two together.

MR: How has the band evolved sonically?

J.D.: The other projects were more hyper-stylized. We were really going for the combination of the early sixties/hillbilly/British invasion stuff. We made very definite guidelines on what were going to do, what we weren’t going to do, what equipment we would use, things like that. As we’ve evolved we’ve evolved into playing how we play naturally. It’s still got all of those sixties influences, it’s just a little more–I don’t even want to say “modern,” it’s just a little more relaxed in its stringency to those kinds of rules that we set before. It’s kind of jangly rock ‘n’ roll.

MR: So it’s like Boxmasters 2.0.?

J.D.: Yeah. Brad Davis is playing lead guitar on this stuff, we had another guy on those first couple of records. Not that they do a lot of things differently, it just is a version two. Brad Davis and Teddy Andreadis are now official Boxmaster members. We’re a four-piece as far as documentation goes. We’ve got six guys on the road. It’s just become more of a straight rock ‘n’ roll band at times with crazy moody psychedelic stuff in it.

MR: How are you going to perform this project on the road? And what have you learned from being on the road that you’re now applying to Boxmasters’ music?

J.D.: We’ve always kind of been a straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll band on the road. We sound big, we play loud. Right now it’s two electric guitars, an organ, a bass player, a drummer, and Billy’s out front and we just try to fill it up, but this time we are doing some shows at smaller venues where we’re going to do a slightly more stripped-down version of ourselves where there’s some acoustic guitars and some stools, which we’ve never really done before. We’re going to play some of these songs where we get more moody and slow.

MR: J.D., what have you found Billy’s favorite environment for a Boxmasters show to be?

J.D.: Billy wants a big show. He wants a place where we can have a good light show. Basically the thing he doesn’t want to do in any place, no matter how big or small, is he doesn’t want to look like a bar band. We work really hard on putting these shows together and we want that to come across. There’s lighting and projections and fun stuff going on, we want a sound system that will actually play above the band so it sounds big. When he does these really moody songs, he sings in his low register and he’s got a very resonant voice, so sometimes you need a system to get it to come out. When you’re kind of whispering it’s hard to get it out to the people.

MR: How about you? What are your favorite kinds of venues?

J.D.: My favorite places that we’ve played have been punk clubs. I like to sound like The Replacements live. Basically, “Let’s have a train wreck and have a lot of fun doing it!” At the same time, we want the songs to have starts and endings that actually start and end together and not just devolve into chaos. But I like them to all be faster than they probably should be, and louder and trashier. That’s just my personal preference. We’re a tight band, we’ve got really good players, it’s a lot of fun to play with the guys.

MR: Do you prefer recording or performing more?

J.D.: I have so much freedom in the recording process as far as how we sound. That’s what I do. That’s my initial hat that I think of. Playing live is fun, but then I have to worry about how fat I am and getting up in front of people and looking like a complete loser. That’s the part I worry about.

MR: When you’re recording are you considering having to play these songs live?

J.D.: No, we don’t tend to think about that at all. When we recorded most of these songs, it wasn’t until August or September of last year that we were really thinking of putting these together as a record. Anything we’ve recorded was just because we felt like recording it. Billy’s like, “As long as I can get in the studio every few weeks or once a month I’m fine. Otherwise, I lose my mind.” Everything is just recorded as we feel at the time. There’s no other outside influences like playing live or anything. The tempos are whatever is right for him to sing to and the rest of the instrumentation is mostly whatever our strengths are. I play the jangly stuff, Brad plays the fancy lead guitar stuff, Teddy does the keyboards and Billy’s the drummer, that’s it. Whatever fits whatever song is being done at that time is what we do.

MR: Do you have a couple of favorites on the project?

J.D.: I think every one of us would agree that “This Game Is Over” is one of our favorite songs, sonically, lyrically, vocally. It’s just really a great song. Another one of my favorites is “Somewhere Down The Road,” the last song and the title song of the record. That’s a song that was initially on another project we were kind of working out, kind of a concept record that we haven’t finished yet, so it just made sense that that song would go in this new batch. It’s one of the few songs that I actually remember writing. We wrote so many songs that I don’t remember the actual genesis of, but for some reason I remember when we wrote “Somewhere Down The Road” and how we did it. I’m trying to go down the list in my head. “Young Man’s Game” is my favorite one on the second side.

MR: I love that the concept of “sides” of a record has expanded into meaning two CDs.

J.D.: [laughs] Yeah.

MR: Which side would you listen to casually?

J.D.: I would probably drive to the first one and put the second one on at my house to do work. They’re just two different moods. The first one is much more of an exciting record for doing upbeat things and the other one’s a little more for doing introspective things.

MR: How has the writing experience evolved for you guys?

J.D.: We’ve done eight or ten songs since that record has been finished and we’re actually working more as a quartet on writing some of these songs. Most of the time, Billy will either have a chord or two that he’s plinked out on the guitar and maybe he has a lyric idea, he might have a whole lyric written. Some of the time, I have a whole track started or completely finished, other times I’ll just have some sort of riff idea. Really it comes from anything that gives us inspiration. It doesn’t take a lot, really, it’s just a couple of chords that make us perk up and go, “Hey, that’s something!” Then we’ll turn it into a song. Teddy brings all of his piano chords into the mix, so we’re trying to incorporate more of that along into what we do because it just gives it a little bit more different stuff. All that equals inspiration.

MR: Do you feel like the permanent addition of keyboard has shifted the focus of your approach?

J.D.: It’s not going to end up being a big sonic shift, it’s just anything that gives us an inspiration. Teddy can add a couple of different weird chords into things. That’s what we’re always going for, just evolving into more weird chords.

MR: Does Billy’s schedule as an actor ever conflict with the band’s schedule?

J.D.: He says, “Let’s tour in April” and that’s when we go. Any time we have something band-related that’s going on that’s important he just tells his film manager that this is what we’re going to do. It’s not a lucrative position for him, but a lot of times they can reschedule. We haven’t had to deal with that before, because he wasn’t making a lot of movie projects for quite a while, which gave us years of constant recording. This is the first time he might actually have a bunch of projects going on. We’ve all got stuff going on, Brad’s got his own studio in Texas, he’s got to take time to close the place down and postpone projects, and Teddy’s always on the road playing with someone. I hang out with my kids most of the time when I’m not working with Billy. It’s good.

MR: So this has evolved in a good way for you all, time-wise.

J.D.: Yeah, everybody has other things they do. It’s just a matter of, “Hey, are you available this time?” “Yeah, I am,” “Great, let’s get together and do something.” It’s not the other three of us sitting around and going, “Man, I can’t wait until we can tour again.” It’s whenever it’s good for all of us. We’re excited to make it all happen.

MR: J.D., what advice do you have for new artists?

JD: My advice is to not chase whatever trend is going on and try to sound like everyone else. Take the people you are inspired by and start digging into who inspired them, and then find out who inspired them. Get back to the root of the music that you love. It might surprise you as to what was the genesis for somebody else’s inspiration. I’m sure Billy will say this too–learn your history. There’s so much of it that’s being lost, we have to hold on to it and learn it and teach it to others. Use that history and use it to inspire you to make music that is personal to yourself and not just whatever the next hot thing is that’s going to get you on American Idol.

MR: Nice. Do you think that’s what people are taking away when they listen to a Boxmasters project?

J.D.: I hope so. They should know that it’s heavily influenced by the past. We’re trying to bring it to new audiences, especially with the older cover stuff. Bring it to new audiences who might say, “I really like that song by Webb Pierce, I want to go listen to more of that,” and then they go and find Del Reeves or Merle Haggard or The Boxtops or anybody like that. Find things that are inspiring and might lead them to new creative heights.

MR: Musically, is there anything out there that surprises you anymore?

J.D.: I constantly feel like an idiot because there’s so much stuff that I haven’t heard. I hang out with Brad and Billy and Teddy and they are insane in their knowledge. It makes me feel like I don’t know anything. It makes me feel like I have to be constantly learning and looking into doing other things so I don’t feel like a complete idiot. These guys know so much history, it’s inspiring. Everyone really is influenced at their core level by other things. Brad grew up as a bluegrasser, Teddy grew up more of a rock ‘n’ roll, R&B kind of guy, Detroit via New Jersey. I’m also a little bit younger than those guys, I started learning a little bit later than them. Even though I was years behind my time I haven’t caught up. I’ve still got a lot to learn.

MR: What kind of a legacy do you want The Boxmasters to have?

J.D.: Basically I want people to listen to the music and read the lyrics and see that there’s a whole lot going on. Some of it’s poppy, bouncy, good time-sounding stuff but there’s really deep thoughts and stories and things going on that are a lot deeper than they might think. I want people to know, “Hey, that’s Billy singing,” he really is a great vocalist, a great storyteller, and all those crazy girl harmonies that you’re hearing in there, that’s him, too. I think I’m the boring underneath stuff that’s not the stuff you listen to and go, “Wow, that’s fantastic,” but he does all the high stuff that I can’t even reach anyway. There’s a lot going on in these records even if it just sounds like some guys bashing away. And it’s all played, there’s not machines going on. This is all how they used to make records in the old days. That’s what we do. We don’t use tracks live, we just play songs. That’s why we crash and burn at times.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

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LINES WEST’S “PERFECT PAIR” EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Ryker Kallas

According to Brian Larney…

“Lately, John and I have been talking a lot about some of the great songs of the late 60s and 70s a la Badfinger or Paul McCartney. The sound of those records and the song craft on them is just mind blowing. In every song there’s a killer hook! I had the idea of “Perfect Pair” kicking around for a while and it seemed to just beg for an arrangement that reflected our enthusiasm for that sound.”

Lyrically, it’s really about a pedestal and a plea. I can remember a few times finding myself in one of those -the quintessential unrequited situations yet I remain an optimist. The song ends with ‘I can take you anywhere. We’re two of a perfect pair’…I guess I’m just hopeless.”

******************************

DOUG BURR’S “NEVER GONNA BE YOUNG AGAIN” EXCLUSIVE

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photo courtesy Tell All Your Friends PR

According to Doug Burr…

“We wanted this one to be jangly, Buddy Holly sounding. The music is kind of at odds with the story on this one–which is nothing new in the folk music world of course, the idea of a soldier living through war. Musically it stands out a bit on the record, but the subject matter was spot-on, and that song had received such strong audience response when playing it live. I’d been including that one in some live shows, since about 2012. So it felt like it needed to be a part of this record.”


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Melissa and Doug Kids Toy, Pirate Adventure 48-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Melissa and Doug Kids Toy, Pirate Adventure 48-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle


Sailing over the bounding main, comes this pirate ship, where even the mouse is ready for adventure! Discovering all the fun details in this picture will be an adventure for the assembler! This 48-piece wooden jigsaw puzzle from Melissa and Doug comes packaged in a sturdy, wooden tray for puzzle building and easy storage.

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Melissa & Doug Peek-a-Boo Barn Baby & Toddler Toy

Melissa & Doug Peek-a-Boo Barn Baby & Toddler Toy


Crafted from select hardwood and accented with child-safe dyes, First Play Peek-a-Boo Barn baby toy features four friendly farm animals, hiding behind barn doors that flap open and click-clack back into place. It’s ideal for young toddlers developing hand-eye coordination and concepts of object permanence. And with lots of visual detail and a peek through window in the hayloft, it will keep older toddlers busy developing vocabulary and counting skills, playing memory games and more! Dimensions: 6.25″ x 5.875″ x 1.25″ Packaged. 1+ year(s)Extension Activities: More Ways to Play and Learn:Talk to your child about what you see. Describe colors, shapes and the different parts of the barn, pointing to each feature as you say its name. (“I see a red barn. There are three doors–one, two, three. Can you touch the doors?”) Pause between sentences to let the child point to a part of the toy or mimic your speech.Flip open one of the big doors to reveal the animals hiding behind it. Then open all the doors and ask the child to close them. Ask the child to try to open them too.Peek through the open hayloft door.Listen to the click and clack as the doors open and close. Talk about the sounds the different animals make and ask the child to imitate them along with you.Create a story about the barn. Pretend it is morning on the farm, and you and the child are the farmers ready to start the day. Open the doors one by one to wake up the animals.
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Melissa and Doug My Monthly Magnetic Calendar Ages 4 and up, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug My Monthly Magnetic Calendar Ages 4 and up, 1 ea


Keep life organized with this wooden magnetic perpetual calendar. Open the fabric hinged boards to reveal a calendar grid on one board, while the other board keeps all the magnets close at hand. A sturdy cord is attached for hanging. These dry-erase boards include 134 magnets including years, months, days and most holidays and childhood activities.

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Pan’s Labyrinth’s Doug Jones: The CFQ Interview

2014-06-06-DustofWarDougJones2_410.jpgThe speaker of the Louisiana State Senate. An agoraphobic starfish. Two copies of Playboy with their centerfolds torn out. These are probably the only things actor Doug Jones hasn’t been in his variegated career. In makeup and out, whether playing an amphibious scholar, a benevolent alien, or a mute, demonic organ harvester, Jones has managed to create roles that have been at once vivid, evocative, and memorable.

It happens to be a good time for Jones. Not only was there the recent video release of the ultra-violent grindhouse action film, Raze — in which Jones plays the entitled overseer of an all-female death-match — but the complete third season disc set of Falling Skies, where Jones is the alien ambassador Cochise, has just come out, and now Jones appears as a wandering (and canny) minstrel in the dizzyingly eclectic post-apocalyptic/Road Warrioresque/alien invasion/western, Dust of War, which just became available on VOD. We’re thrilled to be able to talk with Jones about all of this, and more, as we kick off our second season of The CFQ Interview. Click on the player to hear the show.

Click on the player to hear the show, or right-click the title to download.

Pan’s Labyrinth’s Doug Jones: The CFQ Interview

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Melissa and Doug Princess Elise Magnetic Dress-Up, Ages 3+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Princess Elise Magnetic Dress-Up, Ages 3+, 1 ea


Her Highness, Princess Elise is a delightful magnetic wooden dress-up doll with a treasure trove of outfits. This set includes a magnetic wooden doll with a wooden stand and lots of colorful and attractive magnetic outfits and accessories for pretend play! Dimensions: 1 x 11.5 x 8.25 Packaged Recommended Ages: 3+ years Contains small parts.

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Songs From The Movie: A Conversation with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chatting with Doug Paisley, Plus an Art Decade Exclusive

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An Interview with Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mike Ragogna: Mary Chapin, you’ve got a new album, Songs From The Movie, the follow up to the excellent Ashes And Roses. Can we just dive in?

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Absolutely!

MR: It almost seems like this album is, in some respects a part two–at least emotionally–to Ashes And Roses, even though it revisits your older material.

MCC: Well, I have to say that’s an interesting thought to me. I don’t think I’ve really thought about it in that way. The differences are obvious and when you’re working with pre-existing songs, they’re not new, they weren’t all written as a piece. I’ve always approached recording as an opportunity to create something that is all, for lack of a better word, a concept album. My albums exist as collections of songs that really belong together. Given that, these were all sort of culled from so many different records; that was a different way of experiencing them right off the bat. It was an incredibly emotional experience to do this record. In that regard, I agree with you, if it’s about gauging how that affects you and how you walk into the studio every day pulling yourself up saying, “All right, here we go, hold it together now,” I would agree with you.

MR: Thank you. If we were going to use the name of the album, Songs From The Movie, as a metaphor, it seems like it’s the journey leading up to Ashes And Roses. In this context, it’s almost like commentary using aspects of your life and aspects of your catalog as another reflection of where you’re at right now.

MCC: There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to go too far in trying to make it all very tidily fit some sort of notion, although I truly appreciate your desire and efforts to put it in perspective and understand it that way. I agree that it is a continuum, and it does have a sort of way of looking at the past twenty-some years of my life in song.

MR: How about they’re exclamation points relative to what went on during Ashes And Roses?

MCC: I feel like that was a very specific period of time in my life and the songs came out of very specific experiences. Obviously, a lot of these songs were written years before that. I feel like maybe a better way to think about it is that we all have one life but our life is made up of many different episodes–“different lives,” if we think of ourselves as cats or something. These songs all sort of speak to different times in my life. The title is very impressionistic. To give it some sort of context for you, do you remember the days, years ago, when you’d go see a movie and then there’d be a soundtrack for that movie released and one record label or another would have all of those songs on the soundtrack? You’d buy the soundtrack and it would include other songs that weren’t in the actual film, but as they say, “Songs inspired by the movie.” It was always an interesting notion. From a retail perspective, it was like record labels were making the most of being associated with the film and putting their artists on this soundtrack. But you know, there was something to this idea that there were certain songs that could be written and “inspired by the movie.” The concept for this record has been kicking around in my brain for so long, that concept being that I felt that I always had certain songs that ask a lot of the listener lyrically and that in the right hands could have a cinematic kind of treatment. I said, “How do you put all of these together and have a sort of artistic sense?” In that regard, I started thinking it’s a soundtrack. There’s not a movie that goes with it, but it’s speaking to those sweeping, beautiful things that just take you someplace when you hear them.

MR: And of course with Vince Mendoza on board, that’s an easy mission.

MCC: Right! It was many, many, many years ago, but do you remember when Don Henley was putting together small concerts around the country to benefit Walden woods?

MR: Absolutely, yeah.

MCC: Okay, so he would gather a lot of female singers and pop stars and he’d put a concert on in different cities and they’d all select a song from The Great American Songbook. Larry Klein was the musical director and Vince was the arranger of all of theses songs, and I was able to take part in the one in San Francisco and I got to sing “But Beautiful.” I remember that was the first time I’d ever heard all of these songs in the context of Vince’s arrangements. They were so beautiful. I remember standing on the side of the stage watching all of these people and just listening and being mesmerized by the beauty of these arrangements. Some songs you were familiar with, some were more obscure, and that was the moment I thought if I ever had the chance do this truly–it’s an overused term, but “bucket list” project–that Vince would be the person that I would want to go to. Interestingly enough, it was about two or three years later I was driving in the car listening to my local college radio station when Joni Mitchell’s record came out that Vince did all the arranging for. I heard her sing “Both Sides Now” and I stopped the car and listened and I knew before I could even look it up that Vince had done the arrangement. His work is that distinctive. So distinctive. Besides just being enchanted with Joni’s work, I just thought, “This man is so gifted.”

MR: With Travelogue as well as the songs “Both Sides Now” and “A Case Of You,” Joni’s reinterpretation shows a new perspective coming from her being a more mature artist, her “read” shining a different kind of light on songs. Like Joni, you’re singing this older material from a later point of life.

MCC: They do have different destinations and shades and colors and they evoke different things than the original recordings, otherwise you’re just doing the same things over and over again. So I think that’s always the hope and the goal and that has been fulfilled.

MR: When you were putting the tracklist together, were you seeing the pieces of the puzzle as they were fitting together? And were there any surprises regarding the material?

MCC: It was an interesting process and the way that we did it was that there was one song I always knew was going to be on the record, “Where Time Stands Still.” I don’t know how to explain it, but I always felt that song belonged on this kind of record. That said, Matt [Rollings] my co-producer, Vince and myself, we all sort of went into our separate corners. I think I might have sent out an initial list of maybe forty songs or something like that. Everybody went into their separate corners and came up with their ten or twelve songs they thought belonged on the record and then we cross-referenced it to see which song got the most votes. There were a few that we talked through and Vince would explain for me, “Oh, I don’t think that’s a good candidate because if you listen to it, the chorus doesn’t really go anywhere or give me a lot of places I can take it.” I felt that we learned a lot from Vince in terms of what lent itself to a new arrangement in an existing song. So that was a really interesting process, but it wasn’t excruciating in any way. We all felt good and very happy with what we came up with. There were no fistfights or anything.

MR: [laughs] Were there any revelations that you had listening to this “movie” from top to bottom when it was completed?

MCC: I don’t know if there are any revelations other than that it was deeply emotional. It was emotional making the thing. I’m just one of those people who gets swept away in music. I don’t mean to speak that way about my own stuff, but this was just such a new thing and to hear these songs in such a different way, not only did I feel “known” in a very deep way by this, in the sense that I felt like he had a direct line to my heart in terms of how he wrote these arrangements. There’s a reason why music makes you cry, there’s a reason why it moves you and why it inspires you and takes you places. It affects you on a cellular level, and Vince’s beautiful notes and arrangements just did that to me. So for hearing it in its final setting, it was astonishingly beautiful to me. Just very moving. I don’t know how to explain it, really. Maybe it’s because I have yet to have enough distance from it or something, I can’t really listen to it without being utterly invested in it.

MR: And I imagine recording at Air made it a wonderful experience for you.

MCC: A tremendous experience. I was fortunate enough to be there once before in 2000 recording Time* Sex* Love*. Being able to return there was tremendously exciting. It’s such an incredible place, to be there with the orchestra was hard to describe, it was so powerful.

MR: Mary Chapin, the subtlety and matter-of-fact delivery of your performances brings out so much more than any kind of overkill that a lot of artists have to do to bring lyrics home sometimes. I feel you should be even more appreciated for your strength as a lyricist than you currently are. I think if listeners took a second look at what you’re doing, especially these days, many would say, “This is one of our best American songwriters.” I certainly think so.

MCC: Well, thank you so much, that’s just utterly lovely for you to say. The songs presented in this way, if it does give someone a second chance to listen and maybe connect to something that they may not have connected to before, the way songs do for us, to me that’s just a lovely idea. If it doesn’t, we all know that as artists we do what we do and we know that we can’t claim everyone’s ear. But if it does find its way to someone who either previously didn’t connect to it or had never encountered it before in some way, that’s thrilling and exciting and wonderful when that happens. So that’s one thing to consider once you release something like that, but the other thing, again, is that I can’t say enough about how fortunate I feel that somehow, some way, something in my career brought me to a place where I got to do this. I think that’s something else to consider. Those of us who started in our artistic careers twenty-five, almost thirty years ago, we all know how the music business has changed. I just feel like, given all the changes and how hard it is to do what we do nowadays, much less starting out, I’m just grateful I got to a place where I can do this. So that’s a whole other place that I think about this project. It’s somewhat astonishing to me that I had the support for this, because I know how hard that is to come by.

MR: Not that I would know anything about such things, but my feeling is the new bar you’ve established on your latest projects might be the result of all the personal challenges, etc., that led up to Ashes And Roses.

MCC: At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to make it all tidy and everything, I do think there’s something to be said for feeling like the right things happen at the right time. I also think you would agree with me that this is a look back and certainly a look at the present as well. I couldn’t have made this record twenty years ago. It’s about having lived a life. My life is not over by any stretch, but there’s this wisdom and experience and the things that you’ve gained that are, I think, very much a part of this record.

MR: Beautiful. Mary Chapin, where do you go from here?

MCC: Literally? Next week? I go to Scotland and launch the record, which is really exciting. I’m doing my first concert at the beautiful Celtic Connections center in Glasgow in a few weeks. That’ll be my first time singing this with the orchestra. I’m so excited. That’s the short answer. The longer answer is that I’ve been writing for a new record and I hope to start on that as a project sometime this year in terms of getting in the studio. So what’s next after this is another record.

MR: Will you take the adventures you had at Air with you creatively into the next record?

MCC: Without having a crystal ball, I’ll say I think every time you go into the studio you learn things if you’re paying close enough attention. I think what happens in sort of some result of all the things you’ve absorbed and they make their way into what you do. I always presume that what’s been going on previously finds its way into my way of thinking or executing music or writing. That’s always the way it’s been, honestly. I’ve been writing songs the exact same way I’ve done all of my life, that’s never changed. The settings change and the studios change and the people you work with change, but it all sort of starts at the place that it has always started, which is with a guitar and a voice and a yellow legal pad and a pencil with an eraser. The only thing that’s different over all of these years is that the device that I record my ideas on just keeps getting smaller and smaller. I use my phone now.

MR: What is your advice for new artists?

MCC: Oy-oy-oy!

MR: You know, to someone just starting out.

MCC: I think back to that point, the landscape of business realities and the technological advances that have occurred in the past years have changed everything. The fact that you can be fifteen years old and write songs after school and you can put them up on SoundCloud… You can make your own way. I think the possibilities that lie in being able to do it yourself, it’s a totally DIY world, that just opens it up to everybody and that’s the most exciting thing in the world. It used to be you had to get in the door of the label. Nowadays, you can just do it yourself and people can find you and you can do it yourself. So what I would say to someone with aspirations in that regard is just that the world is your oyster, be as adventurous as you can possibly be and know that it’s in your hands.

MR: And maybe be prepared to use that eraser once in a while?

MCC: Oh my God, yes.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

ART DECADE’S “NUMBERLESS DREAMS”

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photo by Hadley Brooks

According to Art Decade…

“I am always looking for ways to bring motion to otherwise still artwork. With ‘Numberless Dreams,’ we took the idea of spray painted stencils into the realm of fully moving animation. Cutting out thousands of laser cut stencils and then spray painting each frame by hand, thus an otherwise motionless art form finds fluid movement.

“The music video, like all of our work, reflects the nature of the bands do it yourself approach to the creative process. Filmed mainly in our living room, and edited at our bassists house, everything has been done by us. The song and album are no exception, as we recorded, engineered, produced, and wrote everything ourselves. We wanted to make a statement defining us through our work.”

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A Conversation with Doug Paisley

Mike Ragogna: Hi Doug! Before we get into the new album Strong Feelings, let’s get caught up on all things Doug Paisley. What have you been up to since your last project?

Doug Paisley: Since my last album I’ve been traveling and performing more than ever before. So much so that I felt the need to stay at home for a while which leads to songwriting which leads to recording which leads to more travelling.

MR: Did any of this inspire your material on Strong Feelings

DP: I’m really into the challenges of songwriting. Spending so much time playing the songs from the last album made me want to go farther afield with my music and my songwriting.

MR: “Radio Girl,” to me, seems like a tribute to relationships and the good old days. Even its lead vocal seems to evoke another time. Is that also the secret behind the new album, it being about events and people that evoked strong feelings within you?

DP: I think music gets into some people more than others and it permeates their lives and their personal history with a concurrent musical history. When I think about “Radio Girl,” I imagine that profound, personal soundtrack.

MR: Are there any songs on this project which evoke particularly strong feelings and what are stories behind them?

DP: I’ve gained so much personal meaning from songs by my favourite musicians without knowing about those people or their own reasons for writing. I try and allow for the same possibility with songs that I put out.

MR: How did you approach this album differently from your 2010 project, Constant Companion?

DP: I worked with an excellent guitar player, Emmett Kelly, something I hadn’t considered before because as a guitarist it had always seemed redundant to have another one there but it really opened up the sound for me. I also tried to engender some musical chaos in the recording process with tricky projects like recording Garth Hudson on Glenn Gould’s piano in a remote northern city in the middle of winter in the middle of the night.

MR: The semi-duet “What’s Up Is Down” combines horns with a noodling piano, guitars, bass and light percussion. It’s not that it’s a-typical of the album, but it seems to be the most personal track on the project. How did you come up with this particular approach?

DP: Garth Hudson, Mary Margaret O’Hara and Colin Stetson brought a lot of the character to the song because they have such interesting musical personalities. It was one of those songs where I don’t really remember writing it so it’s remained a bit mysterious for me.

MR: You’re a Canadian artist who has a US following. How do view the differences and similarities between our two countries’ artists? 

DP: Margaret Atwood described the line between Canada and the US as a one way mirror. Culturally speaking Canadians are about as aware of the US as Americans are unaware of Canada. I think that vantage point has benefitted some major American cultural figures who come from Canada. In the wilds of the current musical landscape fledgeling musicians like me are more of a nation unto ourselves than nationally defined. 

MR: What else do you have strong feelings about, maybe on the non-musical side?

DP: As a father I feel strongly that the human stock isn’t degraded, as some people say, but it is suppressed and we will feel a whole lot better the more we participate in our enormous responsibility to young people.  

MR: What’s your advice for new artists?

DP: Don’t be discouraged when the scale of your success seems out of whack with that of others. Perseverance is what will ultimately distinguish you. 

MR: Other than Strong Feelings dropping on January 21st, what does the future bring?

DP: Sadly, I think the future will bring more bad lighting.
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Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Framed 15” x 17” Collage with Game-Used Ball – Mounted Memories

Doug Free Dallas Cowboys Framed 15” x 17” Collage with Game-Used Ball – Mounted Memories


Each of these collectibles comes designed with a photo of the player and home stadium, a team logo, and an actual piece of game-used football from a Dallas Cowboys game. It is officially licensed by the National Football League and comes with a statement of authenticity. It is framed in black wood and measures 15”x 17”x 1”.
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Melissa and Doug Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Plush, Ages 3+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Plush, Ages 3+, 1 ea


A preferred pooch of British royalty, the distinguished breeding of this lifelike canine shows in its excellent quality construction and attention to lifelike details. Soft and furry, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel deserves a royal family like yours!

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Melissa and Doug Abby & Emma Magnetic Dress-Up, Ages 3+, 1 ea

Melissa and Doug Abby & Emma Magnetic Dress-Up, Ages 3+, 1 ea


Abby and Emma love to play dress-up and exchange mix and match outfits. These two wooden, magnetic friends come with stands and hundreds of dress-up options for hours of fun! Dimensions: 1.25 x 11 x 14 Packaged Recommended Ages: 3+ years Contains small parts.

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