Robert Graham Teams With ‘Star Wars’ for First Capsule

IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY: Robert Graham is feeling the force. The brand best known for its embellished men’s shirts, has inked a deal for its first collaboration, a capsule collection with “Star Wars” and the latest iteration of its popular film series, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” set to be released on Dec. 20. In November, Robert Graham will introduce a collection of three men’s button-down shirts, two men’s sport coats, three men’s T-shirts, two women’s button-downs, one women’s T-shirt, one women’s bomber and five pocket squares. Among the styles will be the Leia blouse, the Light Speed button down, and the Vader Saber T-shirt. The collection will be sold at Robert Graham stores and the company’s e-commerce site as well as select high-end specialty stores. Retail prices will be consistent with other pieces in the brand’s line. It will be released in November. “The Rise of Skywalker” is the third installment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy and the final episode in the nine-part “Skywalker” story.

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Nick Graham Expands Into Sportswear, Swimwear

Nick Graham is creating a collection. The designer and founder of the Joe Boxer brand will introduce sportswear and swimwear under the Nick Graham label for spring 2020 at the Project show in Las Vegas next week. The sportswear collection is being called “Happy America” and is inspired by Fifties Miami Beach with a healthy dose of Graham’s signature ironic sense of humor. Rayon shirts, for example, are offered in pastel colors and feature prints such as a parrot smoking a pipe and wearing fedora and toucans with headphones and a flamingo with a large dollar sign. “They’re not so subtle, but then I’ve never been subtle,” the designer said with a laugh. He said he was inspired by a time when America “was simpler and not so complicated. I was looking at some imagery from that era, and the style seemed to match the optimism of the day. I wanted to try to capture that feeling.” The collection includes unstructured sport coats, slim five-pocket jeans and chinos in stretch twill and multicolor cotton polos. The swimwear is offered in a variety of conversational prints that coordinate with the rayon shirts to create a cabana set look. Printed baseball caps and fedoras with novelty headbands

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Graham Tyler RTW Fall 2019

Young designer Graham Tyler wears many hats. In the literal sense, he brings to the table a background in millinery, but that is just the beginning. His avant-garde sensibility also stems from a meditation on his studies of sculpture and his visceral sense of memory.
“It’s about losing a home, and how to give yourself that home back in the things you wear,” he said. He was also thinking about his grandmother, who had recently passed away, and about the town in upstate New York where both his parents and grandparents had grown up. Another reference he mentioned was his early fascination with the Amish.
All that might sound super heady, but Tyler distilled it into a straightforward collection of classic shapes that he imbued with his sense of textiles and whimsy to make an interesting second collection.
Highlights include digitally printed knits, structured blazers and an Italian half-boiled wool oversized quilt jacket lined in hand-painted muslin. He integrated his hat-making training by shaping and steaming a grosgrain ribbon, normally used as a trim on hats, to make collars and treatments on an vintage-looking black dress.
Each piece has some sort of novelty, be it poetry on buttons, or coordinates of the town he

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Ashley Graham Launches Her Own Podcast — and Kim Kardashian Is Her First Celebrity Guest

Ashley Graham‘s taking her powerful voice to a new platform.

The always outspoken supermodel and body activist, 30, announced the launch of her first podcast, Pretty Big Deal, which premieres today.

“Throughout my teenage years and my career, I was often referred to as ‘pretty for a big girl,’” Graham said.

She continued, “When I started to realize how much power words can have, I thought to myself, I am pretty, and I am big. I’m a pretty big deal!”

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Throughout season one, Graham enlisted big time celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, Gabrielle Union, Lindsay Vonn, Amy Schumer and more — to discuss everything from beauty to business in intimate conversations.

In the first episode with Kardashian West, 37, Graham and the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star discuss motherhood, marriage, facing public scrutiny and leaving a legacy.

RELATED PHOTOS: UPDATED! Celebs’ Beauty Routines: The Products They Really Use

Graham said, “I’ve had many deep and thoughtful conversations with incredible game changers whom I admire, which is why I decided to start this podcast so everyone can join in and discuss the topics that matter to us most with people who are pretty big deals.”

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Nick Graham Men’s Spring 2019

Nick Graham’s space odyssey continued for spring with a collection titled “1969.” He called it “one of the most transformational years in our history, a year that had both the first landing on the moon by Apollo 11 and also Woodstock, both of which were pretty transformative events in our culture.”
A rocket-shaped 1959 Cadillac Cyclone concept car — the only one made and dispatched from the company’s archives in Detroit — was parked on the runway and served as the perfect backdrop for the zesty show.
It opened with a troupe of boys dancing in “Martian in Training” T-shirts, followed by a parade of traditional sartorial clothing that was super fitted to the body with cropped blazers and tapered pants. Metallic bomber jackets with NASA logos set the tone for an array of intergalactic references that included alien faces printed on shirts and atomic symbols on the breast pockets of suit jackets.
In addition to the suits— which were offered in colorful, shiny solids and exaggerated men’s wear classic patterns — Graham introduced a lot more casualwear, including logo hoodies and sweat pants.
Although Graham’s obsession with space travel is nothing new, it continues to provide a fun story line and an uplifting

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Robert Graham Signs Four New Licenses

Robert Graham is expanding its reach.
In a move that will mark the largest brand extension in the company’s history, Robert Graham has signed four new licenses and two license extensions.
The new licensees are Prodigy Brands for men’s footwear, beginning this spring; Nouveau Eyewear for ophthalmic eyewear and sunglasses, also beginning this spring; Royal Heritage Home for home furnishings including sheets, comforters, duvets and decorative pillows beginning this fall, and Komar for men’s and women’s underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, women’s intimate apparel and daywear starting in the spring of 2019.
“As we continue bringing the Robert Graham luxury DNA and lifestyle to new classifications for men, women and other passion points in which our collectors engage, we look forward to expanding our reach in the U.S. and beyond,” said Andrew Berg, president of Robert Graham.
Robert Graham has also extended its licensing deals with RGA Leatherworks for men’s small leather goods, accessories and bags, and British Apparel Collection, for hosiery. The company also has a fragrance license with Batallure Beauty and headwear with Henschel Hat Co.
Robert Graham is a division of Differential Brands Group Inc., which also owns Hudson Jeans and Swims. The label is sold at high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom

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Nick Graham Expanding Into Hosiery

Nick Graham is bringing his distinct fashion sensibility to men’s socks.
The designer has teamed with McGregor Industries Inc., the Toronto-based hosiery company known in the U.S. and internationally as American Essentials Inc., to create the Nick Graham hosiery collection. The line will be in stores for fall.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to expand into hosiery, and as we simultaneously roll out our underwear collection, we can get dominant placement in the men’s furnishings departments and e-com in the U.S. and Canadian markets,” Graham said. “And given McGregor/American Essentials’ global reach, this will also open new markets for us. I couldn’t be happier to partner with such an amazing team that totally gets my brand and has such a dominant position in the market.”
Graham, founder of Joe Boxer, established his eponymous men’s wear brand in 2014 and launched underwear and loungewear for holiday. In August, Tharanco Group Inc. acquired the majority stake formerly held by Iconix Brand Group. The new owners said they will partner with NGL, Graham’s sales and marketing company, to distribute the brand’s collection of men’s dress shirts and furnishings, expand into other categories and bring the label to overseas markets this year. The line also includes tailored clothing, outerwear and

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Nick Graham Launches Underwear Line

Nick Graham is back in the underwear business.
The designer, who made his mark as founder and chief underpants officer of Joe Boxer, is launching a collection of underwear and loungewear under his eponymous brand for holiday.
“Even though it’s a very competitive classification, I still see a big opportunity to bring color, innovation and irony to the category.” Graham said.
The Nick Graham underwear collection will include conversational prints as well as core and fashion basics in microfibers, cotton spandex and combed cotton in vibrant colors. “We want to put the fun back into functionality,” Graham said.  
The all-cotton loungewear will be offered in both wovens and knits and is designed to be worn both in and out of the house. Graham said he views this classification as one of the biggest opportunities since it blurs the lines between sleepwear and ath-leisure.

Loungewear is viewed as a big opportunity for the brand. 

John Kammeier, president of NGL, the company that produces the collection, said, “Nick’s sensibility in these categories is somewhat legendary and I see a huge opportunity in the market for us. The reaction so far has been nothing but remarkable, and proves to us that there is still a void not being

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Ashley Graham on White Privilege, Body Confidence, and Posing Nude

“I don’t pose naked just for women.”

Lifestyle – Esquire


Tharanco Buys Majority Stake in Nick Graham Brand

Nick Graham has a new partner.
Tharanco Group Inc. has acquired the majority stake formerly held by Iconix Brand Group in NGX LLC, the company that owns the Nick Graham trademarks, WWD has learned. Tharanco will also partner with Graham’s sales and marketing company, NGL, to distribute the brand’s collection of men’s dress shirts and furnishings.
“This deal will bring significant resources to allow the brand to grow even faster. The team at Tharanco is committed to make this brand reach the scale I know we can get to…” Graham said.
It also brings together two of the best-known names in the men’s wear industry: Graham and Tharanco chief executive officer Michael Setola, a veteran of Salant Corp. and Oxford Industries who joined Tharanco nine years ago.
“Nick is a rare talent in the industry,” said Setola. “What he has and his team have created in three years is nothing short of remarkable. I know we can take this even further, and we look forward to helping him build the global brand that he envisions.”
He said the designer has “a unique perspective on the consumer and the brand is well-positioned from a value perspective, it’s not too top-end or low-end.”
Since starting his brand three

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Ashley Graham, Emily Ratajkowski, and More Pose Nude For Love Magazine

The models bare all for a black and white editorial.

Lifestyle – Esquire


Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine Reflect on Impacting More Than Just Sales With Lane Bryant Ads

NEW YORK — Being on the set of a national lingerie ad campaign with major models conjures a stereotype of thumping music, empty Champagne glasses and frazzled assistants scurrying to-and-fro, procuring their every demand.
But the vibe was far more girl power than fashion diva at Lane Bryant’s shoot for its fall lingerie campaign on Monday.
Reprising their roles in the latest ads were Ashley Graham of TED Talks, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and Candice Huffine, whose May cover of Elle and runway jaunt for Prabal Gurung have her on the radars of major casting directors. And while these women have been modeling for the plus-size retailer for well over a decade, it’s only been in the last few years that they’ve caught the attention of the overall fashion industry — not to mention the public, whose outcry for stylish clothes in a greater size range is finally being heard.
“I wanted to be a model so badly, it was my calling,” said 32-year-old Huffine, who has been modeling for 17 years, 10 of those signed with Lane Bryant. Even after all that time, she didn’t anticipate the fame that would sweep over her and her fellow plus-size models who appeared in the 2015 “I’m

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Ashley Graham Poses Nude and Praises Her Mom for Teaching Her Cellulite is ‘A Nonissue’

Ashley Graham is baring all.

The model posed in the nude for the latest issue of V magazine, where she talks about loving her body.

Graham, 29, says that she first learned about cellulite as a preteen.

“I remember my first signs of cellulite, in middle school. I remember telling my mom ‘Isn’t it disgusting? It’s so ugly.’ She pulled her pants down and said, ‘Look, I have it, too. And I was like, ‘Gasp!’ ” she tells the magazine, on newsstands now.

And Graham’s mom immediately stopped her daughter from getting caught up in any body shame.

“She looked at me, then at it, and just rolled her eyes,” Graham says. “She didn’t tell me that it’s beautiful or ugly. She just made it a nonissue.”

During those preteen years, Graham says she looked up to female singers.

“Growing up, I idolized Beyoncé, J.Lo, and the Spice Girls,” she says. “I was a mix between Ginger and Scary Spice.”

RELATED VIDEO: Ashley Graham: ‘ I’ve Had Many Dresses Split Up the Back on Me’


But now she focuses on the woman who taught her how to have a healthy body image — and a model who also made a big splash in Sports Illustrated‘s swimsuit issue.

“Today I have two role models. One of them is my mom,” Graham says. “Just seeing how happy she has been going through and how she’s handled every curveball is like, that’s a women who has integrity and dignity and has been kind and generous to people around her.”

“Business-wise, it’s Kathy Ireland, she’s OG. When she was young and in Sports Illustrated she was like, I’m going to sell some socks and make a business. Now she has a billion-dollar company. Kathy Ireland, if you’re out there, I’m still trying to be your best friend. You’re on my vision board.”

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Nick Graham Dressing Bill Nye for Netflix Series

Nick Graham has expanded his relationship with Bill Nye and is dressing the scientist and educator for his new Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World.”
The 13-episode show started on Friday.
“Bill is one of those rare personalities that combines a strong compassionate message with his slightly irreverent, but always brilliant observations of the world,” Graham said. “Besides that, he has always had an enormous sense of style that he has made his own, and so all I had to do was take a bit further.”
Nye said: “Nick is incredibly creative and it’s reflected in his clothes. I love wearing his suits. And besides, they fit me right off the rack.”
On each episode of the Netflix show, Nye will take on a specific science-related topic or concept with panel discussions and correspondent reports. The set, which is designed as a modern science lab, is an extension of his popular series in the Nineties, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
Nye also walked in Nick Graham’s fall men’s show, titled “Life on Mars,” in January, which garnered over 1 billion impressions and 385,000 likes for Nye on Instagram, according to Graham.
The designer collaborated with Nye on a limited-edition collection of quirky, science-themed bow ties in November of 2015,

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Evangelist Franklin Graham Calls For Disney Boycott Over Gay Characters

Not even Disney can escape the ire of Franklin Graham. 

After news that the family-friendly film giant had included a same-sex kiss in a cartoon and will feature a gay character in its upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” remake, the evangelical pastor called on his followers to “say no to Disney.” 

In a Facebook post shared this week, Graham wrote that the company is “trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children — watch out!” Then, acknowledging that “Disney has the right to make their cartoons” because “it’s a free country,” the evangelist went on to state, “as Christians we also have the right not to support their company. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney.” 

The same-sex cartoon kiss appeared on “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” this week when an array of couples were shown kissing, including two men. Meanwhile, “Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon also revealed that Gaston’s buddy LeFou, played by Josh Gad, will be shown questioning his feelings for his friend, played by Luke Evans. 

The decision prompted one Alabama theater to scrap plans to screen the upcoming remake, which stars Emma Watson as Belle.

“It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie,” Condon told the UK’s Attitude magazine. Gad told USA Today that he was proud to have “expanded” on the original animated version of LeFou, “giving him dimension, making him human.”

Graham has previously made his thoughts on other non– straight, white, Christian groups clear with comments about President Trump’s ban on Syrian immigrants (”not a Bible issue”), Islam (”evil”) and Black Lives Matter (”all lives matter”).

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Robert Graham Reenergized for Fall, Launches Ad Campaign

NEW YORK — Robert Graham, the luxury men’s wear brand, has been refreshed for fall with a more refined premium line and will launch an ad campaign today that is aimed at its current customers while hoping to reach younger men.
The brand’s fall collections — which span wovens, bottoms, knitwear, sport coats and accessories — use more luxurious fabrics, have updated silhouettes and details that are cleverly articulated on the inside. The company’s spring ad campaign was created and photographed by David Lipman and features model Alex Lundqvist.
In an interview with Andrew Berg, the 40-year-old president of Robert Graham, who joined the company eight months ago, he said his top priority was to “evolve the brand to show the end consumers and the retailers — and even ourselves — that we’re evolving with the times and reenergizing our customer base, while making sure we are speaking to a new customer.”
In addition to redesigning the West 40th Street showroom here with its new aesthetic, the 16-year-old company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Differential Brands Group Inc., analyzed all customer touch points, including its web site, which is its biggest volume generator. The company generates $ 150 million in global volume, including licensed products.
“We looked at our social media and

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Ashley Graham Talks Breaking Barriers With British Vogue Cover and Continuing “Mission of Beauty Beyond Size”

Ashley Graham, British Vogue January 2017Ashley Graham is proud to be changing lives by breaking beauty barriers.
The 28-year-old, 5’9″ curvy model appears on the cover of British Vogue’s January issue, breaking a…

E! Online (US) – Fashion Police

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Ashley Graham Isn’t Bad, She’s Just Drawn That Way

It’s Day 26 of the LOVE Advent Calendar.

Style – Esquire


Lauren Graham And Alexis Bledel Are Looking Friday Night Dinner Ready

Lorelai and Rory Gilmore ― or, as you may also know them, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel ― were not necessarily revered for their keen sense of style over the seven-season run of “Gilmore Girls.” 

Teasers from the Netflix reboot, slated to debut on Nov. 25, show some sartorial improvement, but we’re pleased to report the duo is looking especially chic for their red carpet appearances beyond Stars Hollow. 

Graham and Bledel appeared together at a fan event in Berlin, Germany on Thursday. Graham looked ready as ever for a Friday night dinner in a low-cut, long-sleeved mini dress with gold pumps. Bledel also looked lovely in a black cut-out top, a silver pleated skirt and black heels.

The two also carried twinsy black clutches. Swoon. 

They look gorgeous, but we can’t help hoping they kicked off those matching shoes at the end of the night and dug into some of their namesake ice cream straight from the pint. Old habits die hard, right?

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John Cheap, the Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature of Last Century, Classified. With Life of Dougal Graham

John Cheap, the Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature of Last Century, Classified. With Life of Dougal Graham

John Cheap, the Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature of Last Century, Classified. With Life of Dougal Graham Volume 3
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Exclusive First Look: Sports Illustrated Cover Girl Ashley Graham Returns to Bikinis for New Campaign

Ashley Graham had a breakout moment when she became the first size 16 model to pose for the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue in February. This week, the self-proclaimed body activist is back in a bikini, returning as the face of Swimsuits For All to support the brand’s new #MySwimBody campaign, and PeopleStyle has the exclusive first look. The campaign features four women of all ages and sizes alongside Graham, including Olympic hammer thrower Amanda Bingson.

“The #MySwimBody idea means, to me, that anybody has a swim body no matter what age you are, race you are, gender, or size—you can have a swim body,” Graham told us when she dropped by the People offices to discuss the empowerment campaign featuring Swimsuits For All’s latest collection. The campaign includes the images here, as well as a video featuring the five-some, all of which was shot on location in Puerto Rico. “It was so hot and there was sand everywhere,” she said.

Ashley Graham Campaign Swimsuits for AllCourtesy Swimsuits for All

The campaign itself and its theme of self-confidence mean a lot to Graham. “It’s important to embrace every type of person,” she said. “There has only been one standard of beauty for so long within the fashion industry. There has always been a small lane that we as curvy women have had. Now fashion is finally caught up. Now, it’s getting wider and wider because a lot more women are asking for it.”

Ashley Graham Campaign Swimsuits for AllCourtesy Swimsuits for All

Ashley Graham Campaign Swimsuits for AllCourtesy Swimsuits for All

This campaign comes at a time when the word plus-size is buzzing—in both positive and negative ways. Graham is opposed to the term. “For the last 16 years, I’ve been called a plus-size model and I’ve never really embraced the term,” she said. “I’ve just taken it for face value because that’s exactly what people just called me. Personally, I am not a fan of the word for myself because I think it just puts me in a box and it keeps me there.”

RELATED PHOTOS: 150+ Sizzling Celebrity Swimwear Pics

Ashley Graham Campaign Swimsuits for AllCourtesy Swimsuits for All

“What I would like to do is not be labeled because I want to be in every single box and be embraced for who I am not because of the number inside of my pants,” she continued. “There is a group of women who love the term plus-size and because they love it, they should be called that. Everybody has a different take on it and I’m just happy to promote my body and different types of women.”

RELATED: Ashley Graham on How Sports Illustrated Changed Her Life Forever

It’s not just the campaign that has Graham promoting healthy body image, she also so through her own Instagram account by using inspirational hashtags. One is #BeautyBeyondSize. “The idea of Beauty Beyond Size is something that’s really important to me because it created an element and a whole world for women who normally wouldn’t post photos of themselves in bikinis in lingerie and in dresses. I just wanted to create a tribe and a safe place for women to go and be themselves. So beauty beyond size is for anybody who wants to show themselves off. It doesn’t matter what size you are.”

Instagram Photo
Instagram Photo

Another is #ThickThighsSaveLives. “This one is exactly that my thighs are thick, they are luscious,” she said. “I got made fun of for them my whole life and now I’m being praised for my thick thighs and they have saved my life and I want to women to know that their thick thighs are saving their own lives.”

Instagram Photo

And it’s those thighs and the rest of her body that she loves to show off in swimwear, from triangle bikinis to caged decorative two-pieces—and the more, the better. “Girls who are insecure about their bodies, girls who feel fat, girls who have cellulite, girls who have stretch marks on their body — those are all the things that I had as a kid and I never had a woman like me growing up to look at,” Graham told PeopleStyle previously. “I had my mother and that’s one thing, but to have somebody who has cellulite, who has things that jiggle, who has back fat and talk about how you can be a overcomer and not let society take you down for all of that. That’s real.”

So we had to wonder, what’s the secret to feeling like a sexpot in a swimsuit? She said it’s so simple: “The secret to feeling sexy in a swimsuit is put a swimsuit on and tell yourself ‘I’m sexy’.” Ready to try it?

Do you like Ashley Graham’s new campaign? Tell us in the comments!

—Sharon Clott Kanter

Style News – StyleWatch –

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John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
List Price:

John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
List Price:

John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

John Cheap, The Chapman's, Library: The Scottish Chap Literature Of Last Century, Classified. With Life Of Dougal Graham

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.
List Price:

Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Think Being Single Will Hurt His White House Chances

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, would be just fine being single in the White House — and he doesn’t think voters will mind either.

Graham, who has never married, told The Huffington Post on Saturday that he didn’t think his marital status would affect his chances of winning the presidency.

“It’s up to people to make that decision. I feel real comfortable with who I am and the life I’ve lived. I’ve got a wonderful, supportive family. And the last time I checked, I didn’t see a sign on the White House that said ‘single people need not apply,'” Graham said at an event hosted by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in Boone, Iowa. “So I am good to go, I think I’d be a good commander-in-chief and I’d work really hard as president for everybody and for your family.”

Only two bachelors, James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland, have ever been elected president.

Since joining the presidential race last week, Graham has sought to highlight his foreign policy experience. According to HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates publicly available polling data, Graham is at the bottom of the 2016 Republican field.

Video interview contributed by Samantha-Jo Roth in Boone, Iowa.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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The Manhattan Transfer’s Tim Hauser Passes, Plus Conversations with Gary Numan & John Bergin, Graham Colton and Rhett Walker


photo credit: Mike Ragogna

Tim Hauser, founder of The Manhattan Transfer, passed today, the specifics not yet revealed, although over recent years, his health faced an unfair amount of challenges. Tim was my old mentor Tommy West’s best friend as a kid, and together, they created the South Jersey teen doo-wop group The Criterions, who had hits such as “I Remain Truly Yours,” which was plugged by Moondog Alan Freed.

Tim created The Manhattan Transfer, and its jazz vocal arrangements became the most innovative and sophisticated on the planet. The quartet’s work with Jon Hendricks, experimentation with Brazilian music, brave arrangements of material by progressives like Chick Corea, collaborations with boundary-pushers such as Bobby McFerrin (“Another Night In Tunisia”) and every second of their Vocalese album were groundbreaking. Their rework of Glenn Miller’s “Tuxedo Junction” gave the composer’s version a nice challenge, plus revisits to chestnuts such as Woody Herman’s “Four Brothers,” The Ink Spots’ “Java Jive,” Johnny Mercer, Jo Stafford & The Pied Pipers’ “Candy” and so much more helped revitalize interest in pre-rock ‘n’ roll standards as the group gave them all a spotlight, modern twist and lots of love.

As far as hit singles, The Manhattan Transfer scored a massive one with their cover of The Ad Libs’ “The Boy From New York City” and reinvented themselves with their Extensions album that featured their other major pop/dance hit, a wonderfully campy take on “The Twilight Zone,” complete with a Rod Serling-esque voiceover. For trivia lovers, their song “Mystery”–also recorded by Anita Baker on her Rapture album–went Top Ten on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart and probably would have returned The Manhattan Transfer to the Top Ten had Atlantic not reneged on a promise to break the platter at pop radio. The 45 “Spice Of Life”–with Stevie Wonder on harmonica–was another recording that should have made them more of a household name in the US, although it became another signature song.

However, chart success wasn’t an issue since the group became the most beloved and popular vocal act internationally based on their unstoppable live show, unbelievable talent, and undeniable material. And they also picked up quite a few Grammy awards. Nice work for a kid from Belmar and his pals who basically reset the paradigm for what vocal arrangements–and jazz vocal ensembles–would look like for decades to come.

Tim Hauser leaves behind a beautiful family who he adored quite publicly on Facebook and a new spaghetti sauce company that he was obviously very proud of. But he also leaves behind his creative partners and second family, The Manhattan Transfer–a solid achievement and major contribution to music–and the millions of fans around the world whose lives were enriched by his existence and unique vision.





A Conversation with Gary Numan & John Bergin

Mike Ragogna: John and Gary, what brought the two of you together for film From Inside?

John Bergin: Gary had just moved to LA and was looking to learn about film scoring. There is no greater place to learn about the world of film music than Lakeshore Records where I am Art Director, so that’s where we crossed paths. At the time were preparing From Inside for release after a three year tour playing festivals. When Gary came by to introduce himself, it was perfect timing that we were looking for a final score to the film. For Gary, scoring From Inside was a great way to introduce himself to the process. For me, it was literally a dream come true, having been a long-time fan of his work.

Gary Numan: When I first moved to the US I introduced myself to a few people to let them know I was very interested in working on film and TV music. A few days after, I met with Brian McNellis at Lakeshore I had a phone call saying that they were interested in working with me on a special edition of John’s From Inside animated movie. It was exactly what I was looking for. John was familiar with my music so it was a low pressure introduction for me into the requirements and skills of film score writing. It seemed to me that I would learn a lot, without somebody screaming at me and beating me with a large stick, which is exactly what happened. John was so incredibly laid back and easy to work with but he knew exactly what he wanted.

MR: Gary, what is it about the story that inspired you most when creating the soundtrack?

GN: No one thing to be honest. The challenge and enjoyment of writing for film is that you are presented with a constantly changing flow of moods to enhance. Each step is a task that inspires, that pulls ideas out of you. The scenes I had the most fun with though were all those that featured the train. John wanted the train to always have a sense of purpose, a relentless drive. Once in a while though I was able to move away from that and make the train seem almost ethereal. I was pleased that John picked up on that straight away and allowed that to happen. I think the train is such a cool, menacing looking thing. Coincidentally, it was the train that drew me towards the idea of working on the film in the first place as I’d been working on a novel, still am actually, part of which is built around a large, menacing ghostly train that never stops. It was a strong connection for me, before I’d even watched the entire film.

MR: How did you approach it creatively and technically and how entrenched in the film did you get?

GN: Technically, I had a few problems at the start trying to get my software to do what it was supposed to. Being unfamiliar with how it worked in a film environment I stumbled a few times with that but nothing that delayed things too much. Creatively, it was surprisingly similar to how I write music for a Gary Numan album. I have always created the mood first and then let that guide me when it comes to vocals and lyrics. So, it was much the same except that I didn’t need to bother writing lyrics. I simply started at the very beginning, the opening theme, and waited to see what ideas came to mind. When that was done I moved onto the next scene and then the next. I’m not sure if that’s how an established score writer would go about things but it worked for me.

I think Ade worked quite differently in that he wrote a lot of things and then looked to see where they would fit, whereas I wrote specifically for each scene as it came along. Strangely enough, although we are credited with co-writing the score, we actually spent very little time together. I primarily looked after the first half, Ade the second half.

MR: How did Ade Fenton participate this time around and what’s your history together? I had always assumed he was a kind of creative partner of sorts.

GN: I don’t have a creative partner, to be honest. With the exception of just a handful of co-writes I have always written my own songs and have self-produced most of the albums I’ve ever made. Ade has produced two of my twenty or so albums, Jagged in 2006 and Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) in 2013, and we co-wrote the Dead Son Rising album, which came out in 2011. In fact, although that DSR album is credited as a co-write with Ade, in truth, we didn’t really write it together. Most of the songs were mine and I offered Ade a co-write credit as I thought his production had gone beyond the point where a simple production credit would be enough, or fair, so I offered to share the song writing credit with him. He also added a couple of instrumental things of his own to it so it really was a joint effort and I was pleased with the end result. I think with the next Gary Numan album though I’ll probably look for someone else to work with. I think it’s important to ensure that things stay fresh. I’ve been working with Ade for a few years now, and I think we did some cool things, but I’m looking to try something else with the next one.

With the From Inside score, I knew that Ade was as interested in working in film as much as I was and so, as we’d just finished the Splinter album, it seemed like a good idea to work on the score together and see how it worked out. I worked on my half in Los Angeles and Ade worked on his half in England. We shared files along the way to make sure we were using the same sound pallet and that we were writing along similar lines. There was also some cross fertilization of ideas along the way so it’s not entirely my half, his half, but it’s not too far from the truth.

MR: John, the film is based on your graphic novel. What are the basics of the storyline and what is the history of its evolution into a film?

JB: From Inside is the story of Cee, a young pregnant woman who finds herself on a damaged train slowly transcribing its way across a bleak post-apocalyptic landscape. Cee struggles with memories of her lost husband and the imminent birth of her child as she and her fellow passengers seek food, shelter and a new home. The graphic novel is 360 hand-painted pages, published by Tundra in the mid-’90s. Tundra was the publishing company of Kevin Eastman, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He had formed the company as a place where writers and illustrators could push the boundaries of what was possible with comics. Around 2006, Lakeshore Records proposed the idea of adapting the graphic novel to film. The idea was to keep it simple; one animator, one computer. Compared to most CGI animated films with small armies of animators and rooms filled with servers, this was akin to limiting yourself to paper and pencil. I liked the challenge, though – to see if it were possible to emotionally effect an audience with such simple tools. The film took about two years to complete. It has screened in about 40 festivals around the world. I am most proud of my Best Animated Feature win at the prestigious SITGES festival in Spain.

MR: Fabulous, congratulations. Hey Gary, you’ve mentioned how your creative process starts with melody with vocals coming later. Has it always been that way, even going back to the Tubeway Army days? From an artist’s perspective, how has your music progressed or matured over the years?

GN: I think my songwriting process has changed very little. I sit down at a piano and I write melody and structure as I always have. It’s what comes next that’s changed, and only then because of the sheer scope of choices that modern technology gives you. You create a bare bones framework, the heart of the song I guess, on day one. After that you add layer upon layer, the fleshing out of the song, until you have it finished. These days you can do so much more in that fleshing out stage than was possible when I first started recording. As far as the music itself is concerned I think the progression, if there is one, has come from simply growing older and learning how to express the many emotions we all feel in a more musically articulate way. It’s being able to understand emotions as a human being first, and that took me a very long time as I have Aspergers, and then finding ways to feed that into the music. Most people have commented on the emotional content of the recent Splinter album for example. I simply wasn’t equipped emotionally or musically do have done anything like that when I started out.

MR: John, was there any difficulty translating the novel’s material to the screen?

JB: “Paintings that move” is the visual style I strove for. That was probably the most difficult thing to do – to not break that feeling of looking at a painting. If I were to show you a painting of a woman, for example, and ask “What do you see?” You would likely answer “A woman.” But that’s not true. It’s a painting of a woman. We accept paintings as substitutes for reality–we suspend our disbelief. I wanted to maintain the emotional impact that comes with having still images be read as a substitute for reality–of feeling like actual events rather than pieces of paper or 3D models moving before your eyes. I would animate right to the point where my representations stopped becoming stand-ins for reality and became what they really were (drawings), then I would take one step back until they felt real again. I found that character animation got me to this switching point on a much steeper curve than animating inanimate objects. Considering From Inside is a story about people, it was a constant challenge to find creative ways to work around this problem.

MR: What is it about Gary’s music or creative process that you admire the most?

JB: As I mentioned, I am a long time fan of Gary’s work. I can remember the exact moment, years ago, when I first heard his music. I have always admired how he works outside traditional song structures, yet maintains accessibility. His music has always felt like a singular experience, but never to the point of exclusion… if that makes sense? A lot of singular visions feel like “love it or leave it” statements. Gary’s work, while singular, has always felt inviting and emotionally authentic. Those two elements – the unusual and the emotional – were perfect for From Inside. The film is reserved and dark (if the story itself had a sound it would be a quiet one-note drone). Gary’s music brings life and dynamics to the film – something it really needed. I couldn’t be more happy with the score.

MR: Gary, what do you like most about John’s writing craft?

GN: Well, it’s undeniably dark, but I love that. I love the way the story moves between dreams and reality, you are never sure what’s real and what isn’t. It twists and turns from beginning to end, you are never sure what’s going to happen next. It’s imaginative and inventive and it was an honour to write the music for it.

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

GN: I don’t mean to sound glib but my advice to any new artist is don’t listen to advice. You need to know what you want and how you want to get it and you need to be confident, determined and resilient. You will probably, at various times, be surrounded by people who think they know best but, more often than not, they don’t have a clue so ignore them all.

MR: John, do you have any advice to aspiring writers or filmmakers?

JB: Work. Hard. Don’t stop.

MR: What does the future hold for both of you separately and perhaps together creatively?

GN: I have a new Gary Numan album project that I will start writing in January, a fantasy novel that I’m working on slowly but surely, a few more shows to promote the Splinter album, ending at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in November, a huge update to my autobiography, a documentary, a couple of collaboration projects that are underway, a live DVD–two actually–and some other things. I certainly hope to work with John Bergin again in the future and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he does next. He’s a very talented man.

JB: I have a new comic to be published at the end of this year called Wednesday. Once again, I explore the post-apocalypse, but this story is brighter, faster (there’s actually a joke or two in the book – along with guns, cars, and robotic sock monkeys []. The comic will have two accompanying soundtrack albums by Geno Lenardo (Filter, Device) and Daniel Davies (Year Long Disaster). I have a couple screenplays in development and am working on a novel that will be published late next year. Anyone interested in keeping up can find me on Twitter @JBXX or Facebook @john.h.bergin Of course I hope to work with Gary again! It was an amazing experience. Truly, a legend.



A Conversation with Graham Colton

Mike Ragogna: How’s it going, Graham?

Graham Colton: I’m good. I’m wearing multiple hats but they’re feeling good.

MR: What are you up to lately?

GC: Well, I think it’s very important for me and what I still put out into the world to be with my singer-songwriter artist hat first. I really am approaching all the new stuff that I’m doing as a singer-songwriter. I’m a guy still trying to put good stuff that I believe in out into the world. I have fallen into some things that I am deeply passionate about, that have begun with my history making music and tryhing to support that music on the road. That’s really the main thing that I’ve cut my teeth on from day one, since I was nineteen trying to get shows to nowbeing in this new exciting but terrifying age trying to make music for people and trying to make fans out there. It’s challenging and terrifying but I think that I’ve hopefully touched on something that’s going to help this process.

MR: What is that something? What are you thinking is going to help the process?

GC: I built because it’s always been a challenge for me and other artists to maximize our time on the road and connect with fans. I think we’re just now entering into this age where the relationship between artists and fans is more sacred and more important than ever for an artist’s survival. It really is beyond music. I think any artist that’s trying to get their art out into the world and go and perform that art. For me it started with house concerts and living room shows and non-traditional performances that have really become important and special to me. I love playing clubs, I love playing big rock ‘n’ roll shows but there are moments that aoccur in these non-traditional spaces when you’re really in it with your fans and your fans are collaborating with you through these events, whether it’s a backyard or a living room or a basement or an art gallery, these types of performances are just magical. When you really open yourself up to collaborating with your fans amazing things can happen. I’ve started to experience those.

To be honest, I’ve kind of let myself experience those more often. I think we musicians have big egos and we have kind of been trained, especially ones like myself who have come form the early two thousands and late nineties, we’ve been trained that it’s about bigger CD sales and bigger ticket sales and bigger crowds and bigger venues and bigger tour busses and bigger road crew. It’s always been what we’ve dreamt about, it’s why people want to be rock stars. But I think what’s happened happened recently is you look at things like Uber and Airbnb in the non-musical sector and people are just collaborating one-on-one. It’s more personal, it’s more intimate, there’s more trust among strangers. I think musically I was really kind of woken up even moreso when I did my first kickstarter campaign. It’s something that I resisted for a minute. I didn’t really know how to ask my fans to help, I didn’t think I had the right to do that, but when I did it it opened up this magical space where I felt even more connected to my fanbase. I just felt like we were all in it together. It really helped the creative process.

Coming full circle, I just felt like touring-wise I want to engage that space. I want to help these one-of-a-kind, unique, non-traditional performances and gatherings between an artist and fans. I want those to happen and I want them to happen more efficiently and more often and I want them to be safer, I want them to be sexier, I wantt hem to make artists more money, I want them to help artists stay on the raod. That was what was in my head. How do you make that process of, “I’m an artist, you’re a fan, you want to hear music, I want to play it for you, it doesn’t have to be in a bar or a club or a theater, how do we make that happen?” How does an artist say, “I’m travelling through the Ohio area, I don’t care where I play, I’m just going to be in Ohio on September 22nd.” How in the world does an artist get that message out and then have somebody say, “Yeah, I”m in Ohio, I’d love to host a concert for you and get all my friends together.” That was what was in my head.

MR: So what is the process?

GC: Well similar to Kickstarter, Fanswell is an artist tool. It’s a platform where an artist can go in and customize what we call a campaign. The artist says, “Here’s where I’m goingi to go, I’ve got a couple club shows, I’m going to be outside of Chicago on the 22nd, I’m going to be in New York on the 24th, but on the 23rd I’m passing through Pennsylvania and I’m open. It’s a Tuesday night, I’m open and I’d love to play.” This is a way for an artist to basically build that tour route and customize what he would like to do. Maybe he’s looking to play some songs for some fans in this area on these days, he’d love a place to crash for the night, he’d love to get two hundred and fifty dollars and a pizza but he’s open to just play music. This is a place that we think is safe and fun and cool for fans and artists to come together and for the artist to put all of those requirements and things that he would love to see happen on that night.

MR: Has Fanswell launched yet?

GC: It has launched about a month ago. We have been overwhelmed with the response thus far.

photo courtesy Graham Colton

MR: And this is mostly a conversation between artists and fans, right? You don’t have to do much work yourself.

GC: Well, the cool thing is that what’s happening organically is every time a fan comes in or an artist signs up our database increases. What I mean by that is we’re getting inquiries from all kinds of people all across the US and Canada who have either hosted house concerts before or they’re non-traditional bookers or they’re artists that are looking for that, so our community is growing daily. That way an artist is not only engaging his own fans but he’s engaging our fans as well who are looking for concerts and looking to host the next artist coming through their area. There’s so much music out there, there’s ten times the amount of music out there right now than there was ten years ago, just because technology has allowed artists to make more music, make it cheaper, make it better and release it faster. There’s all these artists who want to play but there’s physically not enough places for them to plug in and play. That’s what I want to help.

MR: Is your site helpful for artists coming together for creative endeavors? Are artists able to post up their own music and listen to others’ and maybe connect?

GC: This is what was very complicated but very important for us to build. We wanted to build a platform that an artist could be creative with how they use it. We have a way for an artist in the site to chat with a very cool messenger tool where if a fan says, “Hey, I really want you to play on the 23rd but you’ve got to play this one song because it’s my girlfriend’s birthday and it’s a surprise party,” we wanted to account for that. How do we make this personal between the artist and the host but also make it safe and fun and, to be honest, contractually binding where it’s a real show with a real booker who’s the host and a real artist who wants to play, but it’s also not sticky and intimidating. I think there are tons of fans out there who would give anything to have their favorite artist in their living room but they’re intimidated by that process. They’re intimidated by, “Am I going to have to talk to some manager guy? Am I going to talk to some agency person who’s going to ask ten times the amount I can afford?” when really all of us artists out there large and small just want to play. We just want to play for people that want to listen. Especially if it’s a Monday night and we’re trying to connect through somewhere, give me somewhere to play on a Monday night with twenty people who are going to listen. But to get back to what you originally asked, every artist has a profile page which an artist can customize to their liking with whatever music or videos they would like people to see.

MR: What kind of growth are you looking at? How will you judge the site’s success?

GC: I think the message that I want to convey right now is getting back to, I’m still an artist and a singer-songwriter and I’m trying to make my way through this crazy business, so we are extremely focused on music in non-traditional settings. We certainly don’t have a goalpost in mind for quantity but we absolutely are focusing on quality. Every person that signs up for the site has a team of people in Los Angeles and here in Oklahoma City that are interacting with them. Every person who signs up gets an artist representative who will help them not only set up their profile page but also share tips and try to manually connect people with different artists. If two different artists are looking for a place to have a show in the same area we want to help that process. This is very important actually: Even though we’re trying to create an automated platform that makes booking nontraditional shows a hell of a lot easier and cooler, there’s still so much human interaction that needs to take place,a nd we have a team of people that help with that.

MR: Where do you go from here? Is there a vision for where you’d like to see it in five years?

GC: Yeah, certainly the vision for me is to change the way the artists look at touring. Ten years ago you only had X number of bands to be a fan of, but now there’s so many artists and it’s so spread out, these nontraditional performances are already happening. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we just want to make it more accessible for everybody to do it. The thing I always say is every artist always has one fan. I don’t care if it’s your mom or your best friend. When I go into a market as a singer-songwriter whether it’s New York or Chicago I’m sweating because I want to sell a certain amount of tickets so the room feels good, I want to make the promoter happy, I want everyone to feel like, “Oh man, this is an event! It’s happening.” This is different. This really takes one person. It takes one person to make a show great in Cincinnati, Ohio. As long as that one person loves my music and wants to throw a party it’s up to him to invite his friends. It turns into their show, and that is magical. It’s really, really cool.

So getting back to what you were asking, I want to see artists helping each other out, I want to see two different artists that have never met before come together in a non-traditional space and I want those fanbases to swell. I want one host in Cincinnati to host two artists that have never met each other and have a big love-in. I want those fans to come together and those people to connect. It’s about connection. It’s about really, really connecting with people who love live music and certainly five years from now I would love to gravitate into things that are non-music. Why not have speakers or chefs or anybody that wants to “Go on the road” and connect with their own fans? I think that’s what Uber and Airbnb have really tapped into, this shared economy. I think it’s no longer as intimidating or scary to say, “Hey, you have a car, I need a ride, how do we do that?” It’s the same thing.

We’re just entering into this new really exciting place. I think touring is going to follow through with that, because every artist wants to go on tour. Every one of us wants to play shows, but the way it’s always done is still very manual. For me as an artist, I have my good cities and markets where I can sell some tickets. If I want to go play a really great club in New York City I have to look at February or March because those Friday and Saturday nights just aren’t available, they’re already booked up. What if I want to come through town in New York a month from now? What do I do? I’ve got to take a Monday or Tuesday night at a place I’m not excited to play. If I’m going to be in New York I want to play.

MR: Will this have a direct effect on how you approach your art? Has it affected your own creativity in some way?

GC: It has to, absolutely. There’s no going back from people getting our music for free. We can’t live off of CDs now, but it’s creating an opportunity where artists know that if they’re going to survive they’ve got to hit the road. They’ve got to take their songs out to the people. I think that all of these new media are part of this new era of technology, whether it’s Kickstarter or Tunecore or Sparkplug which we’re very close friends of, NoiseTrade is a huge ally for us, Derek Webb has been a friend of mine for years. Stageit is a big one, too. All of these new sites are really changing the landscape of how artists can not only survive but actually thrive. It’s not just about, “I’ve got to get ten bucks for a CD.” Now artists can make art and say, “Maybe I am going to make art and maybe it doesn’t go on an EP or an album, maybe it’s not considered a formal release, but this is a song that I want people to hear.” If those people hear it, imagine the possibilities of what can happen.

I’m in the studio right now and I’m thinking about a new song and the first thing on my mind is not how to sell it, it’s how to reach people and what that song can do once it gets into people’s hands. What I’m building with Fanswell affects it. I think about, “God, how cool would this song be with just me and an acoustic guitar in a living room for twenty five people?” That’s what it’s all about, man. I think it’s also important to say that we realize that this could be considered disruptive to the normal way artists book shows but we are extremely, with a capital E, supportive of agents and managers. A manager can sign up for our service and manage a thousand artists with one email address. Same with an agent. A smaller booking agent or a large booking agent, we’ve talked to a lot of big and small agencies and managers and we’re flooded with messages on Facebook and twitter and emails of people saying, “Hey, I’m going to have this birthday party and i’d love for your artist to play,” and they’ve got to sort through all that and there’s this archaic manual process of the manager saying, “Cool, when do you want to play?” and the other person says, “November sixteenth, but I could really do the seventeenth or eighteenth.” “Cool, how much are you willing to pay?” and there’s this back and forth process. It doesn’t have to be like that.

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

GC: For me, the advice with new artist is you can’t be too precious with your art or the way you put it out there, because people don’t want precious. They don’t. They don’t want precious, they don’t want perfect, they just want honesty. I think that is what I’ve really learned. If you go back to when I got into this thing it really was all about the album. “Okay, you’re going to make this album, it’s going to be ten or eleven songs, there’s going to be a single, a snapshot of what that album is, you’re going to spend a lot of money making it and a lot of time working on it and then you’re going to release it and you’ve got your one shot and everybody’s going to either come along with you or not be into it and you start over again.” That whole model just seems archaic now. Nowadays it’s cooler to be a niche artist than to try to swing for the fences. There’s just so much more opportunity now for artists to use technology and be creative and customize the way they want to connect and interact and create art. It’s just exciting. So my advice is to not be precious, don’t be perfect, just be honest about what you want to do. I would so much rather want to connect with ten fans who are going to be with me for life than a thousand fans who are just going to be with me for one album or one song.

That’s what it’s all about, and that’s hard because we’ve all been trained since we were kids standing in front of the mirror playing air guitar on a tennis racket to think that bigger is better, but you think about these kids now who are seventeen and eighteen just starting out playing in bands, I’ve talked to more up and coming musicians who don’t even think of that anymore. It’s all digital and it’s all about content and being creative and developing relationships with their fans. It’s cool because we can now go from the garage or the basement and with the push of a button you now have fans world wide. Creating an environment where bands can go one step further and not only have fans worldwide but have fans that will go listen to them in any city, it’s pretty exciting. There is so much good music out there that you’re not going to see at the bar or the club or the small theater because they’re not going to sell enough tickets, but like I said every artist has at least one fan. Even if you don’t have any songs. But it just takes one fan to make a great show happen.

MR: You have one huge fan here because of Pacific Coast Eyes. I’m still blown away by that album.

GC: Thank you. This is all just an example of the new way it is. I’ve got you on the other end of this phone connecting over this little album I made about my life and it’s years after I’ve made it but that’s what it’s about.

MR: What are you working on outside of Fanswell?

GC: Yeah, that’s the cool thing, I’m really proud of the record that I made with Lonely Ones, it was definitely a left turn for me but it was really one that I had to make. I had to do an album that was just against everything that I learned, throw away the acoustic guitar for a minute and try to write songs outside of my comfort zone and collaborate with people. Once you do it you can exhale and say, “Okay, I did that. Now let’s maybe find our way back to the acoustic.” There’s just a lot of things that I’m working on now because I’m reinvigorated with the guitar again and I’m wanting to write songs and I can imagine myself maybe not playing them for a huge audience but I imagine playing these songs in small place and telling stories and talking to those people. That got me excited again.

MR: Nice.

GC: That’s a lot of info, I’m sorry man.

MR: No, that’s a great interview! I can’t wait to post this.

GC: It’ll be amazing. We got our first little piece of press on a small website called Digital News, it was just talking about how much I believe in this and how much I think it will help artists out there. I can not even tell you how much we were flooded with artists signing up. Every artist out there is looking for an opportunity to play, and if I can help out and be a part of that and help that process I truly believe that we’re making the world a better place. It sounds corny, but I really do believe that.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne



A Conversation with Rhett Walker

Mike Ragogna: Rhett, what’s all this about a new album? Wasn’t Come To The River, your debut, just fine?

RW: Oh, it definitely was, but now it’s time for new music! We learned a lot in those two years, and now we have more to talk about.

MR: Your big hit “When Mercy Found Me” from that perfectly fine album Come To The River was Grammy nominated. Did that at least give you and the band a little grin or were you already too heavily focused on creating the followup to care?

RW: It did! That was our first single. I was happy when our parents bought it. The Grammy nomination kind of came out of the middle of nowhere. It’s definitely an honor.

MR: So the new album is titled Here’s To The Ones. Who are these “Ones”? And what about couples or maybe sports teams who would like to also be these ones? Why so exclusive?

RW: Ha! The Ones are everyone–everyone who is out there chasing down a dream, and standing up for what matters to them. The Ones that don’t take no for an answer.

MR: Is being a part of the Pepsi MidAmerica tour fun or are you guys already focused on creating your third album, of course you are, right?

RW: They’re great people, with great drinks. Happy to be a part of the team. I also hope that we get a lot of cases from them. We are already writing for a third album, and wrote a demo the other day during soundcheck.

MR: What do you make of all these people becoming “fans”? What are they after anyway?

RW: Our fans are amazing. Once again, I was happy when our families bought it! It’s art. You travel around writing songs in a bus all across the country–pouring your heart out. Still, it doesn’t mean that anyone will care. It’s amazing that people do care! We are forever grateful for that.

MR: Okay, let’s pretend these “fans” really do like The Rhett Walker band and its music. How connected do you and the band feel to them during your live shows and how do you keep them in your lives through social media?

RW: We are super connected. Many times we have hung out after shows with the fans, or found a cool dive in town, and just sat and played pool with people. Our music is our expression of ourselves, and what we believe. Our shows are a chance to share a conversation with our fans. As far as social media goes, we run our sites.

MR: You’ve played the Grand Ole Opry a few times now. How do your families react to your playing such a revered venue and are there still alligators in the basement near the bursar’s office?

RW: It’s amazing! Standing on that stage where the greats have stood before is life changing. Such a fun, and scary place to play at the same time. It’s never easy playing a show when Ricky Skaggs is standing on the side watching you.
About the alligators – we found one. We ate it.

MR: What is it about country music and this tradition that means the most to you?

RW: I think we love the storytelling. It’s always been about what we are about–faith, family and country.

MR: What is your favorite Rhett Walker Band song and why and do you think you can top it?

RW: I’d say it’s “Here’s to the Ones”. It’s who we are, it’s about our fans. I don’t know about “topping it.” I think as we write a new record, we will put out the song for that place and time.

MR: What advice do you have for new artists other than stay out of the basement ?

RW: We get this a lot. We always say “be yourself.” Don’t try to be anyone else. They’re already there. Stay true to yourself, no matter what people, friends or labels say.

MR: Where does this Rhett Walker Band Conquers The World thing go now?

RW: We do what we always do. Hit the road, play shows, share our stories, and put food on the table.

photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan
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