Singer/songwriter John McManus has been turning heads with his poetic music and poignant lyrics. Guitar in hand, he has been gaining exposure as an expressive musician with an alternative style, desiring to share his life thoughts through music. In October of 2011 McManus signed to Los Angeles based indie label, Realize Records, to release his new CD 613.
John McManus first performed live as a musician when he started a band with some friends in high school, taking his first guitar class in his sophomore year. He continued exploring the art of writing lyrics as well, and even wrote a few songs. He graduated from Penn State planning to be a history teacher, but his new passion surpassed his original life outline. John fell in love with not only sharing the music, but seeing the way his audiences absorbed it and how it impacted them. “I love being out there with the people,” John says. “I’m not going hide behind the curtain after the performance is finished. I want to be out there in the mix, talking and hearing about people’s lives and stories. It’s just what I do.”
In 2005, John’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. After an unsuccessful operation and a tiring span of chemotherapy, she passed away in 2006. John admired his mother above anyone else and her death brewed an even more intense passion to help others in song than he previously felt. “Writing is an expression of a feeling you have---a selfish thing---but hopefully listeners can relate to it,” John says. John’s songs can almost be seen as life chapters put to music; each one echoes an emotion felt during a point in life. His motto in life, “P.M.A.” (Positive Mental Attitude), finds its way into his music, revealing how he reacts to life’s curveballs. It was that positive attitude and the songs written during that time frame in his life that would land him a recording deal. John’s song “The Platform of Our Lives” won a songwriting contest, inspiring Realize Records’ Paul Lewis to record it for his new CD which led to Lewis producing “613”.
613 is sublime collection of alternative indie rock songs that show tenderness and an awakening that can only be found from someone who has been there, done that. While traveling with a guitar on his back and a brief case full of notes, John has met and written about the people he has encountered. In the first single "Pilot Me Home" John expresses his final thought "You don’t love me baby, I love you anyway." instead of regret John just acknowledges and then moves forward. In the upbeat track, "Kansas City Girl" we can hear a 60’s pop influence that makes listeners want to hear more. Another standout track, "Rolestar" depicts the social and political issues surrounding us today and offers solutions on how we can be better people by implementing actions such as "adopt a highway, tutor for SAT’s, be a mediator, be a leader, work a soup kitchen…we got enough rock stars and famous people to fill the Grand Canyon." The title track,“613” takes us on a lyrical and musical ride with its steady beat and catchy guitar riff that sticks with you. John’s stories are real, his thoughts unbounded, as he invites us to take the trip with him.
Lewis submitted the completed recording to the label as a potential new artist. The label response was positive which landed John on the label’s roster. As John breaks into more mainstream coverage of his music, more can be expected of him. Having written hundreds of songs that slip between the fingers in years past, we anticipate the songs that John will now bring to life for us. We might even see some piano riffs and bass lines from the “Manus” himself – he’s taking lessons. You can spot him in bustling, sociable places like bars and cafes. But if he’s busy typing into his iPhone don’t distract him – he just might be storing lyrics in his notepad. With a new recording and venues stretching their necks to see what the commotion is all about, John better lace up those Converse sneakers he likes so much -- he’s got quite a ride ahead of him.
Nov 03, 2012
RE-ELECT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
FORWARD. We need to keep the country moving FORWARD. And there is only one candidate running for President that will keep the country moving FORWARD: President Barack Obama. FORWARD to more jobs and lower unemployment numbers. FORWARD to continue to protect woman’s rights. FORWARD for healthcare. FORWARD for clean energy investment. FORWARD for true full equality for our nation’s citizens. FORWARD to keep America safe.
Like most Americans, I first saw Barack Obama while watching the 2004 DNC Convention when he was the Keynote Speaker. I remember him declaring that there is not a red America or a blue America but rather that there is the United States of America. That there is not an America for blacks or whites or Latinos, but that they all live in the same America.
2004 was a difficult election for Democrats. As the 2008 Democratic primary approached everyone – politicians, news networks, people in the Democrat world --declared Senator Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Nominee for President. Other candidates included Senator Joe Biden, Senator John Edwards, and the Illinois Senator who spoke to my beliefs in America just four years prior, Senator Barack Obama. No one gave Obama a chance. But he had my interest and he differed on a major issue with the other candidates. A decision that I think was very negative for the country. Senator Barack Obama opposed the Iraq War – as did I. So he was the candidate I would be supporting for the party’s nomination for President.
My first day of volunteering for the Obama campaign was registering voters at the local Acme supermarket on a bright, crisp morning in March of 2008. I continued volunteering through the primary, was chosen by the campaign to work the summer campaign as an Obama Organizing Fellow and also volunteered through the general election. I gave that campaign 8 months of my efforts, talked to who knows how many voters in my community and made many great friends. And on November 4, 2008, all that hard work paid off. Not only did Obama/Biden win Delaware County 60%-40% but also Barack Obama became the President Elect of the United States of America:
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
It was an emotionally joyous night for all of us that had worked so hard for Obama. A joyous night for millions of Americans. America, a country with a very turbulent racial history, had made history by electing the first African-American President in American history. Also I was one of two million people who witnessed President Obama’s inauguration in the capital on January 20, 2009.
It is my firm belief that President Obama has done everything in his power to do right by the American people. Here are some key points to how President Obama has moved America FORWARD:
The Lilly Ledbetter Act for equal pay for equal work for women in America.
The Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare to provide healthcare for millions of Americans who don’t have it and/or cannot afford it
The Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell which allows gay and lesbian members to serve openly in the military
Saving the Auto Industry by bailing out the American auto industry and saving millions of American jobs
The Killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan which ended a manhunt for the terrorist leader who not only mastermind the 9/11 attacks but have evaded the United States since.
It is my firm opinion that all of the measures have advanced America. And the President has achieved other measures as well.
2012 was a different time for me than 2008. I am focusing on my growing music career, made an album named ‘613’ that I immensely proud of, signed to Realize Records and performed in the Mid Atlantic. I could not volunteer like I did in 2008 but I have donated to the President’s campaign, post on Twitter and Facebook and have written blogs on politic issues and have supported Obama throughout/
Mitt Romney has said that those of us who supported Obama four years ago “felt best about him on the day we voted for him.” With all due respect I call “bullshit” to this statement. Obama has struggled to get things done in large part because of an obstructing Republican Congress whose leaders met before Obama was inaugurated and swore they would do everything in their power to make Obama “a one-term president”. Somewhere the noble and brave and just members of Congresses past – whose spirits reside in the bicameral Capitol building – let out a great shriek of outrage at these Republican leaders. Republicans! You are the party of Lincoln one of the greatest Presidents who saved the union! My how things have changed.
So when you step into the voting booth on Tuesday – no matter where you live, what you do, how old you are, what race and ethnicity you are – I challenge you to take a deep breath, and before you make your choice for President, ask yourself: “Who will move this country FORWARD. FORWARD…NOT BACK.
And I hope you agree with that the man for these times to lead our country FORWARD is the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama. I hope he gets you vote to continue moving America…
Oct 21, 2012
If you are a friend of mine on Facebook – and if you’re not, feel free to add me at http://www.facebook.com/johnmcmanusmusic -- you know that I am a big reader. Sometime last year I got the idea to take a picture of what book I am reading and uploading it on my Facebook page. I am glad I have done this because it’s an easy way to keep track of what I am reading. At the end of this blog I have listed all the books I have or currently am reading for the year 2012.
I don’t remember when exactly I became such a big reader – I believe it was college or when I started working at Borders in 2003. Certainly throughout my school career I was assigned a great deal of reading but not that I have been out of school for a while all of my reading is for pleasure. I am the kind of person that will read a biography of Alexander Hamilton that is around 1,000 pages or the unabridged Les Miserables that is about 1,300 pages. I have a huge and ever-expanding library of books.
One of the reasons that I have read so many books this year is because I have the time and the interest. Music and everything that goes along with it is certainly what I do with a good portion of my time but I don’t go out to the bars or watch much TV so I have ample time for reading. I just love reading. I think part of the reason that I read so much is because I have a huge intellectually curious mind. I want to know more and more and more. I love being lost in a good story, be it a biography, a history book or a work of fiction.
Many people I know and statistics have also shown that many people do not read at all. To them I say you should. You don’t have to read as much as I do, but I think reading expands your mind, comprehension skills and intellect.
No one in my family reads as much as I do. My mother was an English teacher but outside of her schoolbooks she liked to read two newspapers a day – the local one, The Delaware County Daily Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She liked to stay informed and I recall she clipped many an article out of these newspapers for herself or others. My father was an electrical engineer at Boeing for over forty years and a very intelligent person but he does not read for enjoyment. My siblings also aren’t passionate readers.
Reading makes me happy and is relaxing and may be one of the reasons people consider me a good writer.
In no particular order, here is my top 5 favorite books I have read this year:
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pinstripe Empire by Marty Appel
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
I wonder what it says about me that I have read so many books this year. For those you that know me you know I am outgoing and enjoy spending time with friends. But there is the other side of me that is introverted and enjoys spending time reading. So I think it says that I haven’t lost all of my introvertedness (before Grade 10 I was pretty introverted and shy) and it also says as I have mentioned that I am very curious about things and want to know more.
So if you don’t consider yourself a reader maybe you should stop into a bookstore and find something that interests you. I feel like reading is a very important and valuable thing to do.
The following is a list of books I have read this year to date:
Book List 2012
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
5. Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes
6. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
7. Eldest by Christopher Paolini
8. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
9. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
10. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
11. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
12. Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
13. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
14. Drift by Rachel Maddow
15. Pinstripe Empire by Marty Appel
16. Opening Day by Jonathan Eig
17. The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
18. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
19. Anchored in Love by John Carter Cash
20. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
21. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
22. Perfecting Sound Forever by Greg Milner
23. The Bourne Legacy by Eric Van Lustbader
24. The Obamians by James Mann
25. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
26. Promises to Keep by Joe Biden
27. Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes
28. Plain Honest Men by Richard Beeman
29. Ratification by Pauline Maier
30. 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
31. The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward
32. Sweetness by Jeff Pearlman
33. Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
34. The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader
35. The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz (currently reading)
Oct 12, 2012
I was a 14-year-old teenager in the winter of 1993.
That year in October my sister got married and her and her husband briefly lived in the downstairs of our house. Their bedroom was the former “back room” aka my father’s somewhat untidy office. I remember sitting in that room as a child and typing on a very primitive computer. Around December 1993 my sister and her husband moved out and got an apartment nearby. Once they did I did not hesitate to move into that room and finally have a room of my own. I gathered my possessions and clothes from the upstairs room that I had until then shared with my younger brother.
Little did I know when I was hanging up my clothes in the closet that I would have an epiphany that would literally change my life and put me on a path that I am still on.
Inside the room’s closets there were boxes. I didn’t want to invade my sister’s possessions but I came across an uncovered box that had CDs. One of the CD’s that I found that day was done by a Seattle band that had the year before “changed music” with their “grunge sound” and knocked Michael Jackson off and claimed Number One on the Billboard Album charts. I had seen their videos. That band of course was Nirvana. And the album was Nevermind.
A great amount of music had been played in our house by this time. When I was a kid my mother played a great deal of Joan Baez on the stereo system my father had built. One of Dad’s favorite artists was Jim Croce. I remember listening to Thriller and me hiding behind the couch because I thought Michael Jackson was going to come out of the speaker and kill me. A neighbor had gotten me into a great deal of music when we would shoot baskets in his backyard. But it wasn’t until I found that Nirvana CD in my sister’s closet that I really found music that I felt related to me and was mine.
I looked at the CD cover: A naked baby boy swimming towards a dollar bill on a hook. Inside the CD artwork I read a bunch of lyrics that seemed to make no sense and saw a blurry picture of what I concluded were the band. I had never seen anything quite like it.
What the artwork looked like had little impact compared to what I would hear when I put the CD in the Sony boom box I had received for the Christmas of 1992.
I looked at the case. The first song was called “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I had seen the video – a chaotic pep rally – but had never heard the song itself without the video.
Six seconds. I knew after that that everything would change. Six seconds of jangly guitar. Then the second after the drums slam and slam and then the guitars distort. They play the procession with chaos and distortion and then…twenty-five seconds in the drums play guitar over a four note bass pattern and two-note guitar motif. And then the chorus: Distortion raging, drums slamming, singer screaming:
“WITH THE LIGHTS OUT
IT’S LESS DANGEROUS
HERE WE ARE NOW
I FEEL STUPID
HERE WE ARE NOW
Wait what? What is this? And then verses and choruses and a guitar solo.
You know if this CD had that song and a whole bunch of crap for the rest “Smells Like Teen Spirit” still would have changed my life. But this CD had incredible depth of rock songs and superb lyrics – all of which – according to MTV – made no sense.
I sit here today having recorded three albums and can point to that moment when I first heard that song on CD as the moment that a) I found music I felt was my own b) made me want to listen to more music and c) soon after decide that I must play guitar and write songs.
And that soon after is exactly what I did. In June 1993 I walked into the office at my high school called Monsignor Bonner – I had just finished my freshman year – and requested a transfer slip so I could go to public school. That was without a doubt the first decision I ever made for myself. It was a defining moment. Bonner was a great school and all but I wanted to not ride the bus for a hour each way to school and more importantly I wanted to go to school with girls. Bonner was an all guys' school.
Once I started at Penncrest High School I was an art major and took guitar and made a friend named Keith and with his friend Jeff we started a band. The rest is history.
But back to Nirvana before I conclude. So I rushed out and bought all the Nirvana CDs I could find (Incesticide and In Utero – I don’t think I found Bleach until later). I read Rolling Stone and watched MTV more than I ever had and also bought other CDs by bands with funny names such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. I bought books about Nirvana such as Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azzerad.
April 5, 1994 was a beautiful day. My brother and some friends went up to Indian Lane Elementary School and played roller hockey on the abandoned tennis courts. When we got home my mom told me Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I never knew anyone that killed himself or herself before this. And although it is impossible to explain to some people -- Kurt had a huge impact on me and had put me on a path. I never saw Nirvana live and now I never would. I was really upset and watched MTV. I vividly remember the family driving to church the following Sunday and I was crying I was so upset that Kurt was dead. No one in my family understood. But his music and the music of other bands kept me going.
I always thought I liked In Utero best of the Nirvana CDs. The band had ragged on Nevermind that it was “too poppy” and “too mainstream” and I must admit for the last ten years I didn’t listen to the band much.
I recently ordered the 20th anniversary deluxe box set of Nevermind and I played the remastered version of the CD. And those six seconds. And the drums. The screaming. The guitar solo. And it sounded as amazing as it always did. That album has had a tremendous and lasting effect on me.
It made me feel like I was 14 again.
Aug 13, 2012
People have often come into my life and sometimes they stay in my life for a period of time and sometimes leave quite quickly. Everyone deals with this no matter how old or what his or her life experience is. But what I’d like to write about in this blog is do people a) come into your life randomly or b) is there a purpose for them being in your life – in other words is there such a thing as fate. I have thought long and hard about this question and I have come to the conclusion that it’s b): People come into your life – and sometimes leave your life – for a purpose. Because of a plan. Here are a few examples:
Back in 2003 I was performing at an open mic at the Grape Street in Philadelphia and met a young lady named Michelle. She seemed really great and we dated for a few months until the day she called me up and said she couldn’t do it anymore. I was crushed. The only thing I could do to get through it was to write. Those songs ended up being about half of my second release The Belle Sessions. So what was the purpose of Michelle? Perhaps to get me to write more and become a better expressive writer. I love those songs and other people do too. Maybe the separation was all about timing – she just moved back home from Germany and life was kind of chaotic for her. Without this experience I would not have had so many songs to draw from for that record.
Like the example above, situations play a big role on how people come in or come out of your life. During the 2002-2003 school year I worked as a substitute teacher at Chichester High School. I had graduated from Penn State with a teaching degree at the end of 2001 and the Chichester experience was my first real job in the profession. Shortly after the school year I got a call about interviewing for a full time job – and blew it. I was crushed. Little did I know fate and the biggest change in my life was about to begin.
In June or July 2003 I got a job at a Borders in North Wilmington. I distinctly remember talking to Mike in the café soon after I started working there. He knew I was a singer-songwriter and told me there was an open mic at Stoney’s down the street. Had I not had that conversation I can’t imagine where my life would be now.
So I went down on a Wednesday and signed up and played. I met the house Paul Lewis, an artist on a label called Realize Records. Stoney’s is a great British pub owned by a fascinating character named Mike Stone. I started going to the open mic every week and becoming a regular for many years. I met many amazing performers and people. I grew as a songwriter and performer.
Paul was always very helpful to me and encouraged me. It was definitely fate or destiny that I came to Stoney’s. During one of the Realize Records’ contest I won the award of having one of the Realize Records’ artist covering one of my songs – “The Platform of Our Lives.” Paul recorded a version of this song on his album Bag of Rain. There are many reasons why I am on Realize Records as an artist and that path began with the open mic.
So to me at least people come into your life for a reason, for a purpose, because of fate. To me nothing in life is because of chance or random. Perspective and reflection is needed to have the belief I have. It can be challenging telling yourself there is a plan in life.
Jun 27, 2012
A Call For Congressional Term Limits
Everyone knows that if President Obama gets reelected in November his second term will be his last.
When the Constitution was written there was no presidential term limit. President George Washington served two terms and then stepped aside to retire at his home in Mount Vernon. Many wanted Washington to serve a third term – or for life. Some even wanted him to be king. Washington was a towering figure in our young nation and many valued his efforts and leadership – particularly those in what was known as the Federalist party – those who believed in a strong central government.
For many decades Presidents followed Washington’s precedent of only serving two terms as president. But still the Constitution did not prevent a President to run for a third term. It wasn’t until 1940 when President Franklin Roosevelt ran for and won a third term. He was attacked by some for not following President Washington’s two term president. Eleven years later in 1951 the 22nd Amendment was ratified to limit presidents to serving two terms.
What about term limits for other branches of the federal government? Most of us know that Supreme Court justices serve for life. Perhaps this is not the best thing for America – perhaps Supreme Court justices should not serve for life -- but that will be a discussion for another time.
What about Congress? Ah yes Congress – the branch of government that the Constitution charges with making laws among other things. What about term limits for them? After all, they played a role in getting presidential term limits. But there is to date no amendment to the Constitution that limits a term for a House member or Senator. One of the main reasons is Congress itself would have to vote a term limit – and I don’t believe that will ever happen without a massive public outcry.
As stated there is no term limit for a Congressperson. Here are some of the longest serving members of Congress:
United States House of Representatives:
*Listing is for active members only
John Dingell (MI): 57 years (1955)
John Conyers (MI): 47 years (1965)
Charles Rangel (NY): 41 years (1971)
Bill Young (FL): 41 years (1971)
Fortney Stark (CA): 39 years (1973)
Full List: http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/seniority-112.pdf
United States Senate:
*Listing is for longest serving all time
Robert Byrd (WV): 51 years (1959-2010)
Daniel Inouye (HI): 48 years (1963-present)
Strom Thurmond (SC): 47 years (1954-2003)
Edward Kennedy (MA): 46 years (1962-2009)
Carl Hayden (AZ): 41 years (1927-1969)
Full List: http://www.senate.gov/senators/Biographical/longest_serving.htm
As you can see these members of Congress serve/have served much longer in Congress than any President of the United States. And what do you hear most of what the present Congress is doing? Bickering. Not allowing votes. Not writing bills together. Blocking votes. Being partisan and probably not getting done all it could be getting done for the country. Did you know that the members of the Constitutional Convention debated and wrote the Constitution in 100 working days? What has this Congress done in the last 100 working days? If there are term limits on the President there should also be term limits on members of Congress. Perhaps their term years should also be altered – a term in the House is two years and a term in the Senate is 6 years as the Constitution indicates. Perhaps members of the Senate should be allowed to serve longer than members of the House as the Senate is the “upper house” of Congress. I don’t claim to have all the answers on this issue but I know for the good of the country that term limits for Congress should be a debated on and decided upon issue.
Jun 07, 2012
POP QUIZ: Does Equal Work Mean Equal Pay in U.S.?
Imagine you are back in high school – say 10th grade. Maybe you ARE in high school now. It’s the beginning of the school year and you have two new teachers – fresh faced and ready to begin their teaching careers and shape minds and change the world! One is your 2nd period English teacher Mrs. Oliver and the other is your 7th period math teacher Mr. Peapples. Do the same job, write lesson plans, grade exams and homework. Neither has a raise for merit pay or tenure because they have the same experience.
They take home the same amount in salary right? Identical. Can’t be different right? They both do the same job.
Same pay for the same job? Got to be! This is America the land of the free the home of the brave, Reagan’s beacon on a hill for all the world to see!
Well, if the national average and statistics hold the answer is no. No they do not make the same salary.
NOTE: The teacher example above is to give illustration of statistics.
In America in 2012 equal work does not equal equal pay.
In 2012 statistics show women make 77% of what men do when they perform the same job. In this example if Mr. Peapples makes $35,000/year, Mrs. Oliver makes $26,950. That difference is a little more than EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. That difference in salary means less money for rent or mortgage, groceries, car payments, less money for leisure activities or family vacations. As we know, some families only have one income – many spouses of workers can’t find work. Others are single mothers or fathers or widows or widowers.
This is discrimination. This is inequality. This is sexism. This is unacceptable.
Let’s see what Congress is doing about it!
But first … some history …
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act, which made it “illegal to pay men and women different wage rates for equal work on jobs that require equal skill effort, and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions.” Illegal. This law made it illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same job. In 1963. The following year The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Title VII of the Act “attacks sex discrimination more broadly than the Equal Pay Act extending not only to wages but to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Thus with the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, an employer cannot deny women equal pay for equal work; deny women transfers, promotions, or wage increases; manipulate job evaluations to relegate women’s pay; or intentionally segregate men and women into jobs according to their gender.” In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which gives women more time to file lawsuits against employers they suspect of discrimination.
If it was illegal as of 1963 to pay men and women differently for the same job let’s look at the statistics. In 1970, women earned 62% of what men earned. In 2004, women earned 80% of what men earned. And as noted in 2012 women make 77% of men earn.
Ah yes as promised: What is Congress doing about it!
You probably didn’t hear about this yesterday – ever news station turned their eyes to the Wisconsin for the Scott Walker Recall Election (he won) – but the Senate voted yesterday on the Paycheck Fairness Act. The act would expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States . It was passed by the House in January 2009. The Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011. Yesterday the Republicans enacted a filibuster to prevent an up and down vote on the bill. The bill needed 60 votes to pass and in the end the vote was 52-47, with no Republican support. None. Not one vote.
There is one politician in Washington DC that is a fervent advocate for equal pay for equal work. He is the one politician who gets blamed for almost everything in the federal government while more Americans need to hold their Congressional representatives accountable. This advocate gets the last word. The floor is yours, Mr. President.
“This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work. My administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded and every American gets a fair shot to succeed.”
PS: The man who would like to replace President Obama in the White House has made no statement on this issue.
May 23, 2012
History is Boring...
You’ve heard all these statements before: “History is boring.” “Who cares what happened in 1776?”
Perhaps many of you reading this blog believes these things. I would venture to guess that many of you hold those opinions. That history is nothing but dates and facts and many of you slept your way through history class – or if you are recent high school or college maybe you spent history class texting your friends.
For me personally, history and government are the most fascinating subjects in the world. In second grade I won a geography bee competition the school was having – and part of me never looked back. I excelled in the subject at Penncrest High School and as I’ve said in a previous blog I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Secondary Education, Social Studies.
I would like now to refute these two claims about history.
First off “history is boring.” Totally and utterly false. Completely untrue. While I will not concede the point I can understand why people feel this way about history. The reason people – perhaps you the reader feel this way – is that the subject is often taught in a boring and uninspired way. A multitude of high school and college teach history solely by lecturing and turning off the lights and switching on the overhead projector or PowerPoint slide show. Not only is this an awful way to teach it does not engage students but rather makes them tune out or fall asleep. This does a great disservice to the students and the stories of the past.
I had a great teacher at Penn State who explained that “history is just the stories of the past. Just stories.” If history is taught in an exciting way I have no doubt that students would want to learn about history. But if indeed history IS just stories – and that story is told poorly – than many will become disinterested and apathetic. People think the story of the American Revolution features thirteen colonies all in agreement about independence from Britain. This is a completely inaccurate thought. Also one issue that students always brought up to me in class is why was slavery not abolished in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Interestingly enough, the word “slavery” does not appear in the documents. The reality of slavery in the 1770s and 1780s is that it was an economic system and necessity for the southern states. Understand that slaves came to North America when Jamestown was settled in 1607 – before the Pilgrims ever set foot on the continent in 1620. Plus slaveholders considered slaves property not equal citizens. It should be pointed out that not all plantations were huge like Mount Vernon and Monticello and not all farmers in the south had slaves – but many did and many had a great number of slaves. I can say without equivocation that had slavery been abolished at the time of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution Convention the southern delegates would have walked out and there would have not a United States of America as we know it.
“Who cares what happened in 1776?” Well many people do not care at all but everyone should. It must be known that the delegates who came together in Philadelphia in 1776 were NOT all sold on the idea that the colonies should break away from The British Empire. This took a great matter of debate and compromise. John Adams of Massachusetts led the rallying cry for independence. It MUST be understood that when the delegates agreed to declare their independence and sign the document they were now TRAITORS. Traitors that would be hunted down and hung in the town square or killed by a firing squad. They were criminals in the eyes of the king and the Empire. Do you know how powerful the British Empire was? During the era of the British Empire the British Empire had colonies in Canada, the American Colonies, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, Tobago, British Guiana, Falkan Islands, Jamaica, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ireland, Malta, Egypt, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Cyprus, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Bahrain, India, Burma, New Zealand and more. We are worried about al-Qaeda in the present day but no empire was ever as powerful as the British Empire. So I would make the contention that the founders or Framers as they are called are not boring old dead white men. They were political geniuses and dared to put their lives literally on the line for their principles. I would go as far as to call them rebel badasses. Who do you think is a badass? 50 Cent? Eminem? They have nothing on Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams and Washington. These men dared to dream of a better day for their country – and many fought and died for the freedom that most Americans today take for granted.
May 10, 2012
Obama Says “I Do” to Gay Marriage
Yesterday President Barack Obama gave an interview to ABC News in which he said “I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” The President said this is a personal belief. Obama said he once thought civil unions (with full rights) were enough but now he believes this is not enough – that full marriage rights should be given to same sex couples. Undoubtedly this is a huge deal in the fight for gay rights and marriage equality. The LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated the president’s endorsement of gay marriage. No sitting President has ever endorsed full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Facebook and Twitter were overrun by the President’s stance on this issue. It was the lead story on every nightly newscast. Many Americans are very proud of the President for his courage for boldly taking a stand.
I have long believed in full rights for gays and lesbians. In January I had the good fortune to met a wonderful young lesbian couple who deeply love and care about each other. I have had coworkers and friends that are gay and lesbians – they were all wonderful people. My heroes Tegan and Sara are twins – both lesbians – and I think they write some of the most intelligent music I have ever heard and are good role models. I have never held the belief that homosexuality is “wrong” or “unnatural”. Love is love however it looks – whether between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Since I support gay rights I guess I am a liberal although I always thought I was a moderate. Family and friends of mine have varying views on gay rights and they are free to have their opinions. But for me personally I echo the President’s sentiment that same sex couples should have the full marriage rights that straight couples have.
I would be remiss to write this blog without sharing with you what I think of President Obama. Like many Americans, I saw him for the first time while he was speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was inspired by his speech and thought he would be a future of the Democratic Party. I thought he had great audacity to seek the Democratic nomination in 2008. A one term US Senator with “the funny name”. No one gave him a chance – much in the way that no one gave Lincoln a chance to be the Republican nominee in 1860 much less win the election. As a Democrat I felt like I had two choices: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. When I found out Obama had come out against the War in Iraq (like I did) and Clinton voted for it that was it – Obama was my choice. In March 2008 I started volunteering for the Obama campaign in my home county of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. I registered people to vote, made phone calls, canvassed the county and found that I was pretty good at this sort of thing (I graduated Penn State to become a social studies teacher and have had a life long interest in American history, specifically the Revolutionary generation) In Summer 2008 I was selected by the campaign to be an Obama Organizing Fellow which basically meant I was a part of the transition team between the primary campaign and the general election campaign. I stayed on as a volunteer through November. I was pleased to have helped win the county for Obama but I think my favorite part of the whole experience was getting to know great people in my neighborhood.
I supported Obama in 2008 and will again support him in 2012. To me the President has done his best in very hard time for our country.
Getting back to the news of yesterday there are two very important pieces of information to keep in mind.
1) The President believes marriage equality is a state issue not a federal issue.
2) The President will not seek a Constitutional Amendment to legalize gay marriage nationwide (meaning it will not be an issue for the federal government).
These pieces are quite critical to keep in mind. Marriage and marriage licenses are a state issue – not a federal issue. There is a great reason why this is and why so many issues are states issues rather than federal issues. The reason is the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which to me is the most important or second most important amendment in the Bill of Rights. It reads:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The reason this amendment was passed is because many of the Framers of the Constitution feared a strong central government having just rid themselves of England, which had a strong central government. Some of the Framers considered King George III a tyrant.
The President does not seek a Constitutional Amendment to endorse gay marriage. His presumptive Republican opponent Mitt Romney seeks a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It should be noted that Obama taught Constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School from 1992-2004.
Article V of the Constitution describes how the Constitution may be amended:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
So basically if the Constitution is to amended both houses of Congress must pass the measure with 2/3 of each house voting in favor of it. If this happens, 3/4 of the states must ratify the measure. Since 1791 when the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) was passed the Constitution has only been amended SEVENTEEN times in TWO HUNDRED TWENTY ONE years. Obama knows as a former Constitutional law professor that an amendment to endorse gay marriage is highly unlikely to pass in 2012. That’s why he believes it should be left to the states. On the other hand I question how well Romney knows how to amend the Constitution and furthermore his proposed gay marriage ban is highly unlikely to pass.
Apr 29, 2012
''We Don’t Care What They Say We Got That P.M.A.''
You know people. Those people. Yes. You do. Everything is bad with them and all your friend does is ramble on and on about how crappy his or her job is. And how his or her partner doesn’t please them. Or how your friend wishes life would be better or that him or her was making more money. And they go on and on and on about it everytime you talk to them. And they want comfort or feel like someone understands them. They want to drag you down into their misery so they have company and are not alone in their misery. But here is my challenge to you, dear reader, is to not join them in their misery. Don’t submit to it. Don’t stoop to their negative level. Be positive. Don’t let them take you down.
One day a few years ago I was watching the video for the song “Don’t Let Them Take You Down (Beautiful Day)” by one of my favorite artists Jesse Malin. Jesse writes great songs and he’s a great performer and I’ve gotten to know him a bit over the years. Side note: He liked 613! Anyway in that video Jesse is playing a black Gibson Les Paul. And on the guitar in tape is: P. M. A.
P. M. A.? What is that? I had never heard of the term. So I went on the Googlelybird and looked it up. P. M. A. stands for Positive Mental Attitude. When you have P. M. A. you see everything that happens in your life through a positive attitude. And you use that attitude to filter everything that happens – the good the bad and the ugly. I challenge you if you have the tendency to see things negatively to embrace the P. M. A. way. It has totally changed my life. I have found that I cope and deal when things go wrong by challenging my personal P. M. A. Sometimes you need to take time to recharge your P. M. A. batteries because they can get low.
So the next time someone goes off on a fifteen minute tangent about how things are so bad sit them down and work your P. M. A. magic and show your friend how their life can be better if they embrace a Positive Mental Attitude.
Apr 06, 2012
The Making of the “Lately” video
Music videos are commonplace among artists. I spent many a hour as a teen and young adult watching videos on MTV. I’ve seen videos of all shapes and sizes, of a multitude of concepts. I have seen some great videos and I have seen some that I considered pretty horrible.
There is one video I saw when I was 13 that changed me and made me want to get into music and later get into playing music and songwriting. That video was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. I’ll never forget seeing it on MTV one night before I went to a school function. I remember being struck by its energy and anarchy and the song was quite simple “Maybe I could do that”, I thought.
As most of you know, I released the album 613 in November 2011. Some months later my production company Unicity Productions came to me about making a music video for one of the songs from 613. I was excited by the opportunity and said yes let’s do this. Next came a dialogue of what song it would be. “Pilot Me Home”, my first single, was discussed as a possibility and other songs were mentioned too. Ultimately, “Lately” was selected as the song we would make the music video for. The thing about this song is it almost didn’t make the cut to be recorded for 613. The general consensus about the demo version of the song is that it was not strong enough. My producer and fellow Realize Records’ artist Paul Lewis saw potential in the song and said we’d work on it and we did for weeks and took what was a subpar song and made it very solid. It is my personal favorite on 613 and I play it live quite a bit.
I talked with Realize Records’ CEO/Unicity Productions partner Michel Grey about the concept for the video. They wanted to do a dramatic video that would make people think and certainly the song “Lately” lends itself to a dramatic description. The song is basically about doing what is best for your relationship partner and sometimes the best thing to do is to leave them.
After coming up with a treatment and storyboard (a part of the process I was not a part of) the dates for the shoot were set: Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18 at a private home in Middletown. I showed up Saturday not really knowing what to expect. The first thing I did when I got on set was makeup. The second thing done was to decide what I would wear for the video. I brought a great number of clothes with different looks and colors. My uniform for the shoot was a blue and grey button up Guess shirt, blue Gap jeans and Doc Martens.
Soon after I was dressed I went with director Charles Morbito, director of photography Ian Duffy-Mosley and their crew to get ready for my first scene – sitting on a bed in a small room singing the song. As some of you know videos generally do not use the audio recorded, so I could lip sync or sing. I chose to sing because I think lip syncing would come as not as authentic. I was amazed by the camera gear and amount of lights and other equipment.
For those of you not used to filming (as I was) it takes a very long time to set up a scene and there is a lot of downtime. A LOT.
During the late afternoon Charles suggested I go practice the song on piano. Let me just say I don’t consider myself much of a piano player. I had never played “Lately” on the piano so I had to figure it out and quick. The last shots of day one was me playing piano and singing “Lately”. It was the most nerve wracking part of the video for me because I don’t play piano and sing very much.
Because it was a late night I decided to stay at the Hampton Inn in Middletown – it would have been an hour drive home if I chose to go home to Media and would have been a very early morning.
Day Two was an early call. Because of the shifting of scene I had a great amount of down time that day. The only scene I was in on Day Two was a basement scene of me sitting on a chest playing guitar and singing. That was the most enjoyable scene for me.
I enjoyed the experience of making the video for “Lately”. Great cast great crew. Stay tuned for the video’s debut on April 24th.
Dec 19, 2011
The following blog is five questions I posed to my friend Sarah on LGBTQ issues.
When did you know when you were gay and how did it change you?
I never really realized I was gay until I started having feelings for my best friend when I was 15. It changed me in many ways. I was feeling things I never knew existed and I was scared of what the reality of my situation was for many years. It wasn’t until after we broke up I realized I was a lesbian and even after I figured it out I still had a hard time accepting myself for who I was.
What is it like being gay in Canada? What rights do you have that LGBT Americans don't have?
Being a lesbian in Canada is basically the same as in the United States. You cannot go anywhere holding hands with a girl walking down the street without people looking at you differently, but there are also many people who accept it. In Canada we are able to get married, have children, adopt, and we even have hospital rights, which makes me grateful I live in a country with rights, but at the same time I feel selfish that I am given rights that others are denied or killed over.
You've come out to your older brother Justin and your younger brother Connor. Was that difficult?
How do you plan to come out to the rest of your family? Coming out to my brothers wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. My youngest brother and I have conversations about my girlfriend all the time now and it’s really nice to be able to talk about it. The rest of my family I know will be supportive, or at least accepting, but telling them is the hardest part. I’m scared of what they will think of me, or how my sexual orientation will change the way they see their daughter. I still have no clue on how to tell them, so I’ll probably do what I always do...wing it.
How has our friendship affected you over time?
Well since meeting you I was straight forward. I told you I was a lesbian and I think I did it because I wanted to see your reaction. Telling you was the best decision I made. After I told you I was able to start feeling more comfortable in my own skin, going out and meeting people and being able to just be proud to be who I am. You taught me that being myself the most important thing I could ever do, and to never let anyone change me. You made me feel good about myself and without you, I probably wouldn’t have found a girlfriend, or told my brothers, and I’d still be hiding behind those closet doors.
Why do you think people judge LGBT people so much solely based on the fact that they are gay or bisexual?
I think people judge the LGBT community because they are unfamiliar with it. A person who does not have an association with someone who is gay or bisexual or transgendered can find it awkward, or wrong. Many people think it is a sin because of religious views, or even just their own values they learned growing up. Being someone who is gay, I would never push my beliefs or lifestyle onto another individual who didn’t want to accept it, but there is a line that can be crossed when someone goes from not accepting it, to abusing the person who is a part of the LGBT community. So many people will bully or abuse a child or even an adult because of their sexual orientation, because it is “wrong” but people need to realize that we are people too, regardless of gender, or sexual orientation. All we can do is keep fighting for rights and hoping that someday we will have equality, not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Oct 20, 2011
An Open Letter to Tegan Quin
The following blog is an open letter to Tegan R Quin of Tegan and Sara. If you haven't heard Tegan and Sara yet please visit www.teganandsara.com. You will be glad you did.
My name is John McManus and I am a singer-songwriter/indie artist who is releasing my third album 613 on Realize Records on November 1st. I am writing you this letter to tell you what your music has meant to me and how it has influenced me.
I first heard you and Sara when you opened for Ryan Adams in Upper Darby, PA. I was intrigued by your music and harmonies and amused by your banter - you and Sara were talking about your cats. It was on that night that I decided I would follow your music. I bought If It Was You and liked it and So Jealous and really like that album too.
When The Con came out it all changed for me. I bought the version with The Con Film and very much enjoyed that and seeing the process of you making that record, the Forest Fone calls, and the like. The Con as an album was a great change for you and Sara and the album particularly got me more interested in your songs. Your emotions are all over that record and I was really drawn to "The Con"-- whose video made me think you could be an actress-"Hop a Plane", "Soil Soil" and "Call it Off". In "Call it Off" you sound emotionally shattered the way you sung the song and the lyrics. During that time I was working on my second album The Belle Sessions - which was a heartbreak record - and your work on The Con informed my album.
I felt the positive vibe you talked about with Sainthood - that being a good person and a role model is what you should strive for in life. I have a song called "Rolestar" on my new album that expresses that sentiment.
"Someday" was a song I could relate to especially now with getting serious about my career and signing to a label and that the song talks about being patient and you don't have to accomplish everything today. Sainthood is quite possibly your best work and I enjoy all the songs on the album and it's my favorite Tegan and Sara album.
Believe me when I say Tegan that you are a great inspiration. You are a hard working 31-year-old artist (I am 32) and you pour your passion into your writing and performing. You have always been gracious to us fans and I feel appreciated by you for being a fan.
I wonder what advice you would have for someone at the beginning phase in their career as a signed artist and what you Have learned about life on the road?
Partly because of Tegan and Sara I have become interested and passionate about gay rights and issues. I have a deep personal belief in equality for all.
I have made many friends being a Tegan and Sara fan but I want to tell you about one in particular. Her name is Sarah and she is a 20 year old lesbian who lives in Ridgeway, Ontario (near Niagara Falls). She liked a comment I made on Quintwinism (a Tegan and Sara Facebook fan page) in May and we became fast friends. We talk on Skype about just about everything and of course Tegan and Sara too. She wanted me to thank you for being such a great musician and role model and I want to thank you for indirectly introducing me to someone I hold as a dear friend.
In closing I wish you all the best with Warner Brothers and I am looking forward to the new album.
Be well Tegan.
Love it to Life,
Talk back to this blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec 08, 2010
Remembering John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell
Today is a significant day to mourn the loss of two great musicians, both murdered by guns and gone too soon.
The first---definitely one of the greatest songwriters/performers and activists of his or any generation----is John Lennon.
The purpose of this blog is not simply to recount facts but to share personal stories.
Much has been written about the Beatlemania era of the Beatles. Back before the worlds of Google and Twitter, these four “mop top” musicians came to America in 1963 and their music changed the face of the world in what seemed like seconds.
My mother was a graduate student at University of Connecticut --- she studied British Literature --- and was one of the multitude that owned the Beatles’ second United States album Meet the Beatles. It is the one with the silhouetted faces and claimed to be the first of the band’s albums in America. The story goes that my mother and her friends played the record so much that they wore it out. I can only imagine the hysteria while my mother and friends listened to songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “All My Loving.”
From 1962 to 1970 The Beatles recorded a multitude of hit songs and sold millions of records. Then it all came to an end and the band members pursued solo careers.
I believe John is my favorite Beatle/solo artists and one of my favorite artists in the history of music.
His voice through his career could be soothing, playful while at the same time having the ability to shriek and moan. One of my favorite words in the English language is timbre, which means the color or character of a sound. John had amazing vocal timbre. His songwriting covered subjects such as love, defiance, contemplation and calls to action.
Of John’s solo songs I have many favorites: “Mother,” “Mind Games,” “Isolation,” “Gimme Some Truth” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)’.
One of my least favorite songs? “Imagine.”
Lyrically “Imagine” is complete revolution: imagining a world without religions, possessions and a world filled with brotherhood. Interestingly though, the music of “Imagine” is somber and delicate, almost mourning, so it is a complete contradiction in that sense, much like the man who wrote it.
If you read this blog you know I have discussed Bono, one of the greatest singer/songwriter/musicians ever in music whose heart and passion is undeniable. He gave an interview to Rolling Stone’s editor/publisher Jann S. Wenner that was a cover story and a fantastic podcast series that is available on iTunes.
I was fascinated by what Bono had to say about “Imagine” written by a man who Bono admired very much ---- as much for his activism as his music.
From the interview:
“That ‘60s thing is really not where I am coming from….I’m into the gnarliness. I don’t want everyone to hold hands and change the world through wishful thinking…”
“That’s why ‘Imagine’ is my least favorite John Lennon song….how people have turned that song into a new age hymn…I’m not into imagining. I’m not into dreaming. I don’t like ‘I have a dream.’ I like ‘I have a plan.’”
Couldn’t have expressed it any better myself.
Lastly about John, I will never forget the first time I was in New York and went down with my friend Todd to Strawberry Fields. I don’t know what subway stop it is, but we got off the subway, walked up the stairs and there was the Dakota entrance where John was shot. I wept.
To some it is hard to explain such a deep emotional connection to someone you never met ---- someone I was only on the same earth with for a year and three-and-a-half months. But yet I feel that connection with John Lennon.
Miss you John.
Six years ago today the world lost another great musician to a crazed fan. Dimebag Darrell --- lead guitarist of Pantera and Damageplan ---- was gunned down onstage by a “Pantera fan” that was angry that Dimebag broke the band up or that he claimed Darrell stole songs from him.
The incident occurred at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. Dimebag was shot six times and the murderer not only killed Darrell but four others.
I must admit I am not a metal fan although I casually knew the music Dimebag performed. He always seemed like a nice giving person in interviews and he was following his dreams. Pantera and Damageplan brought much enjoyment to fans.
The most shocking thing about this incident was that Dimebag was on stage when he was murdered --- getting ready to perform a set for fans.
I remember being very shocked by the incident --- as someone who not only respected Dimebag for his music but also as a fellow performer.
Lastly I think it is quite unfortunate that more news outlets and bloggers fail to remember Dimebag’s murder today.
We miss you Dimebag.
Sep 10, 2010
On A Day We Remember The Fallen, Let Us Spread a Message of Hope
9/11/01 was one of the greatest tragedies in world history and certainly the most tragic day for America in my lifetime. As we all remember, on that fateful Tuesday morning, terrorists flew airplanes into World Trade Center 1 and 2, The Pentagon and would have attacked another destination had it not been for the brave passengers of United 93.
I was student teaching at Norristown Area High School that day. In fact, my first lesson I ever taught was at 8 AM on 9/11/01. I’ll never forget during second period when the hall monitor came in the room and said “Mike [Santangelo, my cooperating teacher] you might want to turn the TV on.” We saw both of the Twin Towers ablaze. By next period, they both fell; the Pentagon was hit and a plane crashed in Pennsylvania. We had a meeting after school that day and I remember how empty I-476 was on the way home: Philadelphia had evacuated.
I worked two summers at an overnight camp and had friends in New York City --- they all survived.
It was a dark and frightening time in our country’s history. But we rallied together as a people. Now more than ever it seems, we should focus on a collective vision of hope for all people in this country.
Flash forward to present day. I am writing this blog the day before the ninth anniversary of the attacks. And if you have been following the news you know there have been two highly publicized and controversial stories: The building of the “Ground Zero Mosque” and the planned burning of Qurans by Rev. Terry Jones.
One of the founding principles of this country --- one thing that many of our country’s first immigrants were not able to do in Europe --- was to practice the religion of their choice freely. Perhaps many of us take for granted this freedom and don’t realize the strife Americans don’t face because they can choose the faith they believe in, attend services, have meetings publicly to discuss their religion and so forth.
What many of us also forget is that these freedoms are for all of us, and even if we do not agree we must respect other’s beliefs.
You can read a great deal about the “Ground Zero Mosque”. Below is a link to an article by Feisal Abdul Rauf ---the chairman of The Cordoba Institute---about the community center and what its purpose is:
In brief, I support the construction of the “Ground Zero Mosque” because it is the legal right of the Islamic community to practice their faith in New York City or any city. There has been a great deal of backlash and ill will surrounding the mosque’s construction. Let me be clear that people’s opinions are valid and should be discussed. But I feel like outrage is not the way to do it. I feel like we are missing out on a great opportunity to have meaningful dialogue about faith in 21st century in America. I know that religion is “not something we talk about.” Maybe we should.
Rev. Terry Jones is the pastor of The Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and has been making headlines because he has scheduled a Quran Burning on 9/11/10.
To burn the holy book of a religion --- the ultimate act of desecration, hate, intolerance and anger is truly and utterly disgraceful and shameful. How would Rev. Jones feel if a group got together and burned Bibles? A multitude of individuals have come out against the planned burning: some of Jones’ own congregation, President Obama, The Vatican and more.
If Rev. Jones or anyone else wants to preach the Word, argue against Islam or any other religion based on facts and open-mindedness --- that’s fine. But he is doing a disservice to himself and his community for planning to do this ---- the government has said the burning could put American lives at risk and Jones says they have received death threats.
It was announced yesterday that Rev. Jones has cancelled the planning burning although now it seems it might still happen.
9/11/01 was a tragedy. My hope for this country and its communities is that we truly come together as one nation and respect and celebrate our differences.
Aug 30, 2010
You Never Know
You Never Know: That Opening Band Might Someday Be Your Favorite
It was October 5, 2002 and my friend Mike Meredith and I went to the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA to see one of our favorite singer-songwriters Ryan Adams. I was a big fan of his for a long time and some would argue his influence could be heard in some of my songs.
But this is not a blog about Ryan. This is a blog about what can happen when you go see a performer you like. It is about something all musicians know and have experienced: being the opener. I have been lucky to open for and share a stage with many great musicians.
I’ve been to many concerts since 1994 and I can tell you from experience---and many of you who read this will know from the same experience---that many concertgoers pay little to no attention to the opening act. Some don’t even arrive in time to see them. Some chat, go grab drinks and some people are overtly rude to the opening acts.
But I would encourage these people not to ever do those things again and this is the reason: that opening band might someday be a favorite.
That evening at the Tower the opening act was Tegan and Sara. Two twin sisters, two acoustic guitars and two voices. I had never heard of the duo but sat in my seat and listened anyway. Their songs were good---good enough for me to want to buy their CD. But what I really remember from their set was their banter---Tegan making fun of Sara, Sara retorting at Tegan and the Quin Twins telling stories about their cats at home. They were endearing and it was that night that I decided I would be a fan of theirs.
The album the twins were promoting at the time was If It Was You (2002), their third. Eventually I heard the first two---Under Feet Like Ours (1999) and This Business of Art (2000) and while there are good songs on both, If It Was You is my personal favorite. The common thread in these albums was most songs were based on acoustic guitar. So Jealous (2004) showed maturity in production and lyrics and was considered their commercial breakthrough.
When The Con (2007) was released, I was really impressed. Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) produced the record and both Tegan and Sara wrote emotional, powerful and catchy songs for the record. The Con is where Tegan and Sara’s individual identities as writers shine through---Tegan’s songs are more straight-ahead indie rock songs while Sara’s feature more intricate and lush parts. Sara penned the big ’pop’ song ’Back in Your Head’ while Tegan penned the rocker ’The Con.’ Another reason why I really liked this record was the limited edition version is a CD/DVD featuring the album and a documentary on the making of The Con. It reminds of what is said around the industry: fans want to see a band offstage and feel like they known them as people and not just their songs. Tegan and Sara have done this effectively throughout their career.
The Con is when I became a die hard Tegan and Sara fan and when they became my favorite band. Although I did not get to see them on the tour of the album.
Sainthood (2009) was a different feel of an album than The Con---it was mostly recorded live in a room, with Tegan and Sara performing with band mate Ted Gowans as well as Chris Walla (who also coproduced the album with Howard Redekapp) and Jason McKerr. Sainthood features sophisticated indie rock songs as well as dashes of pop and alternative---all the songs have great hooks. This album is a bit more immediate and accessible than The Con as a whole. Ironically it took me more listens to get into Sainthood than The Con.
In February 2010 I was in the front row at a special Tegan and Sara show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY, which was great fun. I also saw them that month at the Tower Theater and again at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing in August 2010 when the band played The Honda Civic Tour.
Tegan and Sara are two of my favorite singers and songwriters----some of the best singers and songwriters of our generation---and I respect them for not only their musical skills but also for the causes they fight for and their constant effort they have to reach out to their fan base. Most of their fans are the die hard kind and I hope soon to have the same kind of fan base.
So the next time you buy tickets to a show, come early and see the opening act or acts. Pay attention to them. Clap. Be respectful. Because you never know: that opening band might someday be your favorite.
Aug 04, 2010
The Power of Humanity’s Honesty
The following story is COMPLETELY true.
This afternoon I went to Springfield Mall here with a shopping agenda: things I needed to pick up, some ideas for gifts. Economic stimulation. It was all going well and I decided I would go back to the car and put some things in the car and continue on shopping. So I went out to my car and put a few things in the trunk all the while grooving out to some U2.
So then I went back in the mall and a little while later I go out to my car to leave the mall and come home. I always put my keys in my back left pocket so as not to have them possibly scratch my iPhone screen. Much to my surprise they were not in my pocket. Not only were they not in that pocket; they were not in my other pockets or any bags. Panic. It’s not TOO much panic because we have a spare set and the mall is only about 10 minutes from the house. So I call my Dad---and he’s not answering. He had an early morning and was sleeping. And you know what? When you’re 73, worked for over 40 years----right on, nap whenever you want.
I went back in the mall----hey it wasn’t as if I was stuck on a highway in the pouring rain (that’s P.M.A.!) A while later I call again---goes right to voicemail. I call my brother who lives about 45 minutes away and he is willing to come down because I lost my house and car key (they are on a ring together). Soon after Dad calls and agrees to bring the spare key.
I think hey maybe I put them down in trunk. I can be a bit absentminded at times---we all can. So Dad arrives and…
No keys in the trunk…
And then I walk up to my driver’s side door and see a note. It reads:
“You left your keys on your trunk! They are at the desk at customer service.”
Wait---I did what?? The note is not signed. So basically this person found my keys and could have had my car---a 2007 Red Honda Civic EX Coupe---but had the honesty and moral stature to hand them in. Some might say my reaction should be “There is a God!” I believe there is. But also, this person’s reaction could have also been “There is a God - I got a nice car now!”
This half page note will very soon be framed and hung in my office/home studio.
There IS definitely some very honest people strolling the streets, shopping at malls, doing their thing. There is no doubt of this---this is a great example of why this is true.
I do believe in karma. I would have done the same if I was that anonymous person.
I intend to try my best to help a lot of people throughout my life and career.
And if you read the last blog, you read about being a Role Star. That honest person today is definitely a role star.
Jul 29, 2010
Be A Rolestar
You have, no doubt dear readers, heard of the Twilight series: the books, the movies, the merchandise etc. Perhaps you have read the books or seen the movies. One of the marketing angles is Team Jacob versus Team Edward. I have a new team suggestion: Team Bono.
If you know me personally than you know I am a huge U2 fan. But the first album I remember hearing of theirs was Achtung Baby. You see, my best friend Mike who got me into a lot of music growing up was such a R.E.M. fan that we listened to them all the time, but not U2. Never U2. And maybe this is why I don’t feel a great attachment to 80s U2 and gravitate more to their material from the nineties and beyond, my favorite album being All That You Can Leave Behind.
So why Team Bono? First of all, he is one of the top rock singers of all time---to me, only Freddie Mercury is on level with him. He is a dynamic showman when he takes the stage. He is a great lyricist but even he admits that early U2 records lack great lyrics because he spent little time on them. So he is also honest. U2’s music is very expressive and intelligent and they have always pushed the musical envelope and not afraid to stick their necks out and challenge (and sometimes alienate) their audience.
Bono is perhaps popular music’s greatest advocate. He spent a great deal of effort on the Irish peace process. Bono and Bob Geldof created Product (RED)---whose partners include Apple, Converse, Starbucks, Beats by Dr. Dre and more---and has helped raise millions for The Global Fund through that organization. He is involved with the ONE Campaign to fight global poverty. In the Hearts and Minds Section of U2.com, the band also lists Music Rising, The Angiogenesis Foundation, Free Burma!, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and The Chernobyl Children’s Project as causes they support.
For this reason, Bono is the epitome of what I call a Role Star. I put the idea of a Role Star in a song that I submitted for the new record. Basically it’s someone who is a role model, and how being so is very important. I am sure you all know some Role Stars---they are your mothers and fathers, family, teachers, preachers, coworkers. They are the people that unselfishly help others on a daily basis.
Do good for others. Join Team Bono. Be a Role Star.
"613" Receives CMJ Adds And Rotation AT Over 70 Radio Stations
"613" had increased airplay this week from WIUP in Indiana, PA and WFCS in New Britain, CT, along with new additions at WSUR in Worcester, MA and WYBF in Radnor, PA. Nearly 70 stations reported the album available for rotation with over 50 stations reporting airplay. Of the stations that reported airplay, we saw 30 report increased airplay. John is schedule to appear this week at Rider University in NJ.
New Review of "613" By Music Director Kait Convery At 91.7FM The Curve
Music Director Kait Convery from 91.7FM The Curve had this to say about John McManus' "613". "613 is a collection of songs that feel familiar, like you’re listening to a friend tell you a story or a secret." The review goes on to say, "The lyrics, paired with McManus’ voice and instrumentations, are highly reminiscent of The Weakerthans and Oasis. What I find most interesting about this album are the bits of rapping sprinkled throughout a few of the tracks – presumably to add a little flavor and flair – and a sound bite from a speech by President Obama in middle of the “Hard Hearted.” "613" produced by Paul Lewis continues to climb the charts and is available on Itunes, Amazon and select stores in the US.
John And 613 Receive Four Grammy First Round Entries
John and 613 has received four entries on this years Grammy List. Entries include Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, Producer of the year (Paul Lewis) and Best Engineered Album (Paul Chiacherinni & Joseph Anderson) engineers and Matt Graber (mastering engineer). 613 continues to gain momentum on radio. Final nominations will be announced on December 5th in Los Angeles, CA.
"Pilot Me Home" Song Of The Week On 107.7 Reaches #5 On the Charts
"613" the latest CD from John McManus is climbing the CMJ Charts this week as it reaches #5 on 107.7FM The Bronc's Chart. The song "Pilot Me Home" which was the first single off of the recording is Song of the Week at the station. The CD has also received adds to WECB in Boston, MA, WHCL in Clinton, NY, WHRW in Binghamton, NY, WFWM in Frostburg, MD, WCUR in West Chester, PA and WPNR in Utica, NY. John is currently scheduling tour dates in the Mid-Atlantic check back for updates on the schedule. To listen live or to request the song visit http://www.1077thebronc.com/?page_id=105
John McManus' "613" Sees Radio Ads
John McManus' latest recording "613" has been put into rotation at stations across the Mid-Atlantic. To date over 20 stations have added the recording into rotation. Some stations showing their support included WHCL in Clinton NY, WHRW in Binghamton NY, WHUS in Storrs CT, WIUP in Indiana PA, WIXQ in Millersville PA, WKPS in University Park PA, WPTS in Pittsburgh PA, WDBK in Blackwood NJ, WDWN in Auburn NY, WECB in Boston MA, WECS in Willimantic CT, and WHWS in Geneva NY, among many others.
John McManus Releases New Music Video "Lately"
John McManus' new music video "Lately" is available now for viewing on Youtube. The video was filmed in early March and features Anne Bulter and Samantha Kaiser. The song is from John's latest CD "613". The was directed by Philadelphia based director Charles Morabito and produced by Unicity Productions.
Sneak Peak of "Lately" Music Video to Premiere Tomorrow
There will be a sneak peek look at the new music video for John's second single "Lately" off of his latest CD "613" at Premier Centre for the Arts. John is set to perform at 7:30PM. Ticket for the event are on sale now at the PCA website www.pcade.com
John Shoots Music Video For New Single "Lately"
John has completed production on a new music video for his upcoming single "Lately" which is the 2nd single off of his recording "613". The video was directing by Philadelphia Director Charles Morabito and featured actresses Anne Butler and Samantha Kaiser.The video will debut on John's site lin April 2012.
John Featured In New Article in Penn State University Paper Live
John has been featured in a new article in Penn State University's newspaper Live. To read the article you can visit their online version at http://live.psu.edu/story/56438#nw7 The article discusses John's new release, past at Penn State and his future.
John McManus CD Release Event To Raise Money For The Trevor Project
On October 27th, singer/songwriter John McManus along with special guests from Realize Records and The Premier Centre for the Arts will celebrate the release of his new CD “613” at the performing arts center in Middletown, Delaware. The event is scheduled from 8:00-10:00PM. Tickets are on sale now at Premier Centre for the Arts website. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project’s vision is to see a future where the possibilities, opportunities and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. McManus states, “I want to raise money for the Trevor Project because they are the national leader in crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LBGT teenagers. They are helping struggling teens and saving lives and I feel this is a very important organization.”
McManus will perform a selection of songs from the new CD “613” at the event. Special guest performers that evening will include “613” producer, singer/songwriter Paul Lewis, comedian/singer Missy Grynkiewicz and Triple Threat. Triple Threat is group of young musicians who have developed a unique and exciting interpretation of pop music in the style of Glee. Along with the entertainment, the event will feature a wine and beer cash bar as well as catered food and a silent auction.
Tickets for the event on October 27th are on sale now at the Premier Centre for the Arts website https://www.pcade.com/Tickets.htm To find out more about the Trevor project visit http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Philadelphia Singer/Songwriter Finds His Home
Realize Records announced today that they have signed a deal with singer/songwriter John McManus to release his new CD titled “613”. The CD was recorded in Philadelphia and produced by Realize Records recording artist Paul Lewis who brought the music to the label. “613” is scheduled for release on November 1st 2011.
After signing a production deal in early 2010 with Unicity Productions, as the team was searching for the right producer and home for his project, one of John’s songs was chosen by Realize Records to be featured on one of their artists upcoming CDs. “The Platform of Our Lives” was chosen as the first single on Paul Lewis’ upcoming 2011 release. “We are always looking for original artists and John is one in his own right. John tells great stories through his songs in a poetic Dylanesque type of way. After hearing that song we went back and revisited his other submissions.” States label CEO Michel Grey.
The songwriter had submitted several songs to the label which fell into Lewis’ hands. Lewis says, “When I heard John’s songs, I had an instant connection to them. I wanted the music to compliment the story quality of his lyrics and strengthen the melodies; I believe we have done just that.” After recording the CD, Lewis approached the label about releasing the project. The label began talks with the artist after hearing 613 and reached a deal. McManus states, “I signed to Realize Records because they are an artist-centered label who is committed to developing their artists. I have known many of the staff and artists on the label for quite a while and I look forward to developing my career as a Realize Records’ artist.”
“613” recalls the energy of early R.E.M. and The Monkees with a taste of an Elliot Smith/Dylan type vocal. “613 allowed me to document happenings in my life over the past few years and what is important to me --- universal themes of finding love, needing love and remembering that it is important to be a good person. I am very pleased with how 613 came out and proud to have worked with everyone who was involved with the project.” says John. The first single from the forthcoming CD titled “Pilot Me Home” is currently available as a free download on the John McManus website.
Currently John is gearing up for the release of 613 in early November. Along with the CD release party, John will be performing in select cities and venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic beginning in November. To find out more about John McManus, his upcoming release and tour dates, you can visit www.john-mcmanus.com
Recording Artist Paul Lewis chooses John's song as first single
Realize Records recording artist Paul Lewis will has released The Platform of our Lives as his first single on his forthcoming CD "Bag of Rain". The song was written by John and made its national debut today on Baltimore's top rated Morning Show on 98 Rock. A live version of the song is also featured on Paul's youtube channel and currently available for a limited time as a free download on Paul Lewis' website.
Preproduction Has Begun on Forthcoming John McManus Record
John has completed two pre-production sessions with producer Paul Lewis for his forthcoming record. Lists of songs for the record are currently being put together and songs are being reworked and revamped in order to make the best collection of songs possible. For those of you who have followed John’s career thus far, this experience and this experience and the record that will be released will be unlike anything John has ever done. Keep checking back for updates.
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