Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s Just Music

It’s rigged

If you’ve escaped the news regarding the US Senate Impeachment Trial, it is entirely possible you have heard about another scandal. Deborah Dugan, the recently ousted CEO of the Recording Academy, claims that the Grammy award system, among a myriad of other very serious allegations, is rigged.

Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission this week. She is alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against the Recording Academy. This was following her own untimely exit on January 16. She was placed on administrative leave following another female staffer complaints of misconduct (by Dugan). Complaints of sexual harassment in Hollywood are not new. Given the complexities and drama enveloping the situation, I suspect there will be more news to come. However, I did find the allegations about the awards system worthy of comment.

Clown-car acts of try-hards

With each passing year, I pay less and less attention to the music award shows. Call it aging, call it a lack of care or concern. The fact is, the awards, and certainly the visual spectacles they create for television, are boring to me. They resemble circuses of excess, complete with clown-car acts of try-hards, attempting to outdo whomever stepped onstage before.

I used to force myself to watch. Desperately trying to stay informed, as well as exercise and maintain a decent ear for new music. I never could quite understand why I had zero trouble listening to music from my parents day and prior. I appreciated the history and where music has traveled since. Yet listening to modern music (at least the most “popular” being heralded on these awards shows) makes me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found plenty of new music to enjoy – just not the stuff pedaled on these shows for mainstream audiences.

As I’ve watched shows like the Grammy Awards, I’ve sat back in wonderment over some of the nominees, and most definitely the winners. I can’t count how many times I wondered how fill-in-the-blank-here actually got nominated, much less won. That isn’t about my own personal taste, either.

Finger on the pulse of mainstream

I can’t ignore the fact that people of color dominate many of the categories. Yet far too often it ends up being white people getting the award. Yeah, I’m playing the race card because it’s been way too damn obvious to ignore. Certainly, I could never prove a thing; but if me, “little-white-woman-from-California” was wondering about it, rest assured, I wasn’t alone.

Granted, I don’t have my finger on the pulse of mainstream music these days – but some of the choices felt (and sounded) completely out of left field. Sadly, it didn’t surprise me when news reports about this alleged “rigging” began surfacing this week. In fact, I believe my sarcastic comment was, “No. You don’t say!!” I mean, come on. Who DOESN’T think these shows are a joke??

Did you know that the membership in the Recording Academy (according to Slate) is only 21% female, and only 28% people of color? Interesting, given those groups of people often dominate entire categories. Yet, their role in the voting and governing body is minimal. The process is that the full membership casts choices in all categories. Then, for each of those categories, committees cull through the top 20 choices, down to a final 5-8 nominees.

All of this sounds familiar

What I found interesting here, this committee meets and the members push forward their own choices. So for example, if you’re someone who works with say, Ed Sheeran – you’re going to push forward his nomination in whatever category you’re working on, regardless of whether or not he’s truly the best example of this years artists in that category. Doesn’t matter because, well – this is a popularity contest. It also doesn’t matter if Ed (again, just an example!!) was even in the top 20 voted by the entire membership body for that category. Dugan’s complaint claims that for the 2020 Grammys, 30 of this year’s nominees were added to the final list of nominees, despite not making the initial cut to the top 20.

I wish that were all, but she also claims that this year, one of the nominees for Song of the Year came in at #18 in the top 20 (meaning that the entire membership made their choices for this category, and this nominee was the 18th most popular choice). Yet they made it through to the top nominees. Maybe when faced with the choices that were in the top 20, this particular committee of people decided that #18 was really one of the top 5-8 choices for the category. Sure. I suppose in this day and age, anything is possible. But really??

Hearts and ears of the white men

While I’m the first to say that I think the award shows are a joke – it is a little numbing and disconcerting to read that they’re REALLY this messed up. I’m a lot less surprised that Duran Duran didn’t win more of them during the course of their career, I’ll say that much.

No, I’ll even go one further. We already know that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is political. Getting on that nomination ballot is an exercise in futility. At the very least, you’ve got to have the hearts and ears of all the white men in the room. Then there’s the Grammy Awards, which has also now proven it’s own irrelevance, assuming that even some of the allegations are true. I can’t imagine they’re untrue at this point. With so many patterns of behavior emerging, it is difficult to imagine otherwise.

Does it matter?

I guess that at least for me, I have to wonder when it stops. Will it stop? When does the public finally say no more? Or, perhaps it doesn’t matter enough to anyone to bother? “It’s just music.”

Yes, it is music. This week, it is the Recording Academy in the crosshairs…it’s also The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Oscars, the entertainment industry, business, and beyond. It is about equal opportunity, People of Color, LGBTQ, white people, women, men….about humans. Our behavior, our history, our collective culture, and our future.

Sure, it’s just music and this is just an awards show. All of it superficial and irrelevant…except it’s not.

-R

Rhythm of Youth

While back in England visiting friends and my wife’s family, we took a cold, evening drive to have dinner at her dad’s house in Stokenchurch. This perfect little village was not only home to my future wife as a teen, it is also where synth-pop hero Howard Jones grew-up. So, when her dad opened his record cabinet, I hoped that in those rows and rows of wax that a treasure might await, like an early demo from HoJo or, perhaps, a Duran Duran artifact. Well, I sort of struck gold.

Between the Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley singles, a few 80s gems began to appear from Human League to the first Adam Ant 7″ in a black and white sleeve! As I looted my father-in-law’s record cabinet of any records that belonged to my wife or her sister, I slowly lost hope of finding a Duran treasure until I came across a handful of flexi-discs, the flimsy plastic records that came inside magazines.

One of them promised a Merry Christmas wish from all the Smash Hits stars. Knowing the magazine’s fixation with the Fab Five, I looked closer and saw them listed on the label. A little unsure if the flexi-discs would still play, I packed them in the bag and now you can hear what I heard last night when I put it on.

Smash Hits Christmas Flexi-disc

Not exactly a well-scripted moment…..and that is perfect! It sounds fun. And that is what the band and the world started to lose by the end of the 80s. MTV started to become a well-oiled machine and everyone had expensive, boring videos that aspired to be “Rio” or “Hungry Like the Wolf”. The era was winding down.

It took a little stumble but when Duran Duran returned on a mission with the Wedding Album, the videos had style and looked modern. The band were ahead of the pop-culture curve again. In “Come Undone”, John and Simon are wearing the infamous Seinfeld pirate shirt before the episode had aired! Kidding (sort of).

Everyone gives U2 credit for making the creative leap from the masterpiece of Joshua Tree to the equally brilliant Achtung Baby but it was harder for Duran Duran to get to the Wedding Album. The band had to convince an audience, and themselves, that there was a place for them in music a decade after ruling the world. As the bad-ass commercial proves, they were ready for the new decade.

A slick commercial for the Wedding Album.

Strangeways Radio Music News

I miss music news

One of the things I miss most about MTV is their Music News. Sure, I loved the videos. Yes, I miss the exposure to new music. However, I really miss hearing the news. Most notably, I miss Kurt Loder. I remember John Norris, and even Tabitha Soren, but for me – music news came from Kurt Loder. I learned from him, and appreciated the snapshots of what was going on in the world that I cared about most. These days, I struggle to keep up. I don’t have time to scour the internet in search of who/when/how, and I don’t have the patience to sit through much.

I don’t think I’m alone. Whether it is because there is a lack of concern or interest for new bands, or a lack of attention given to bands of ,*ahem*, MY generation, there’s not a lot available…until now.

Music news with VelvetRebel

If you have checked out our home page within the last several days, it is possible that you will already know that our very own Jason (VelvetRadio) has signed on with Strangeways Radio/TV to do music news each week! This is huge, as Strangeways Radio is an outlet of Slicing Up Eyeballs, and Matt Sebastian – the owner and founder of Slicing Up Eyeballs – hosts DarkWave on SiriusXM’s First Wave channel. I’m a huge fan of Slicing Up Eyeballs as it is, and couldn’t be more thrilled for Jason.

Jason knows music. He is incredibly knowledgable. While I arguably may know a little bit about Duran Duran – he knows Duran Duran, along with everything else. It is the reason why he was the first and only person I thought of trusting (outside of Amanda, of course!!) to take over one of my blogging days. I continue to learn from him, and appreciate that he still takes the time to write a little something for us to read and ponder each week.

From the outset, before a single click, I knew his music news would be worth watching. I wasn’t wrong! Immediately after watching, I subscribed to Strangeways Radio onYouTube. Jason has a delivery similar to Kurt Loder, and I think that his show and audience will continue to grow from here. Jason knows his stuff, and the best part of it is that the news he curates is directed towards new wave/alternative fans. You’ll hear about the bands and music you love most. I really couldn’t be more excited for him, and proud to say he blogs here, too!

Check out Strangeways Radio on YouTube

As we all know – the internet is a massive, fat pipe. Information cascades our way at a breakneck pace. It isn’t easy to stand out as one music news outlet amongst hundreds or thousands. This is why I’m asking you to click on his videos, take a look, and subscribe.

Here’s Jason’s latest!

Best of luck to you, Jason. I can’t wait to see where this all goes from here!

-R

It is About the Music

Time and time again, when it all boils down, the music brings us together. Each time I think I know this, it ends up being proven to me again. This time, with some of my neighbors.

During the year that we’ve lived in Atascadero, we have been meeting new people. Somewhat facetiously, I’ll mention how I can’t see my neighbors (mostly true), or that I don’t really even know the people who live across the road from us (well, we’ve waved at one another and I do know their names now…), but to be honest, Walt and I have hoped we’d meet some people we could eventually call good friends. Luckily, this happened not long after we’d moved in and were invited to a small neighborly barbecue on Memorial Day weekend. We hit it off with the brand new neighbors who were hosting. Occasionally we get together, which has been very nice.

Several months back, this couple joined a group of people who get together once a month for dinner. They take turns hosting, and essentially people come over on the first Friday night of the month with a bottle of wine and a dish to share. Everyone chats and eats, then typically by 9pm or so – everyone goes home. They invited us to try it out, and it was fun.

The thing is, most of the people who attend are at least 10-15 years older than my husband and I. Our neighbor friends are about our same age, but they have a drastically different lifestyle from my husband and I. They don’t have children, they live here only part-time, and they do quite a bit of international travel. I believe the last time I left the country was with Amanda when we crossed into Canada. They, along with my husband, work in the technology industry, so they share that. Otherwise, our main commonality is a love of wine, and of course being new to this area. At least, until I discovered something new last night.

After a weekend of digging holes to plant apple trees, I finally convinced Walt to go into town and have some wine at our favorite wine bar. He invited our neighbors along, and we were all in a jovial mood by the time we sat down at a small table. While we chatted, the subject of San Francisco came up, and somehow – one of them mentioned The Cat Club.

My ears perked up at this, because The Cat Club is probably one of my favorite places in the world. I have only been a couple of times, but the club is one of those places that immediately felt like home. The dark surroundings remind me so much of the club where I met Walt – Fashions on the Redondo Beach pier. That place closed a long time ago, sadly. Even now as I sit here typing, I can remember how the bench seating along the wall felt, or the way the highly lacquered and polished wood bar looked in the light when we’d order drinks. I spent many a Friday and Saturday night dancing to anything from The Cure to Gary Numan, Depeche Mode to Blondie, in that club.

The Cat Club, while much bigger than Fashions ever was, has that same inviting feeling. Actually, Amanda and I spent a couple of nights there when Duran Duran was playing in Oakland and San Francisco a few years back, and I’ve been clamoring to go back. We live a little closer these days, but we’ve yet to make the trip. In any case, the words “Cat Club” coming out of my friends mouth was enough for me to put down my wine glass and ask her to repeat herself. Once I realized what she said, my pavlovian reflexes kicked in. I enthusiastically responded that the Cat Club was the best dance club ever. I think maybe this was loudest I’ve ever been around them since we met!

Our two friends, immediately broke into huge grins, excitedly telling tales of their own visits to the club, and how they plan to return in mid-February for a night of dancing with other friends. They invited my husband and I along with them for the weekend, and without even looking at Walt, I was ready to commit. I couldn’t believe that these two people actually hung out at the same dance club I’d been to previously. It turns out that one of them fully committed to the whole New Wave thing when he lived in Germany while growing up, telling Walt and I all about how he had bleached the sides of his hair and the clothes he wore.

I couldn’t quite believe my luck. As much as we seem to have come from completely different backgrounds, our musical tastes are very similar. We talked about various groups we had seen live – and yes, they already know about my love for Duran Duran – and then moved on to comparing record collections. Suffice to say, I liked my neighbors well enough before, but now I know we have friends that will go with us to see concerts, too!

Music really does tend to bring people together. It’s the bridge and the gift that keeps on giving!

-R

Question of the Day: Sunday, January 19, 2020

Yesterday’s winner: Last Night in the City

Which song better represents the Paper Gods Tour: Pressure Off or Tempted?

Coming Soon
Which Song Better Represents the Paper Gods Tour?
Pressure Off
Tempted

Duran Knowledge

Earlier this week, Duran Duran’s social media posed the question, “What is your favorite video from the first album?” There were numerous answers on both the band’s Twitter and Facebook pages. In looking at those answers I noticed three types of responses: A definite one video answer usually with a reason, a list of multiple videos or a video from a different album. These answers were ones I have come to expect from fans. I’m never surprised when fans don’t want to choose. I guess it is possible that people like the videos the same. I generally don’t have a problem picking one favorite but I get that not everyone is like me. (The world is thankful of that. Very thankful.) But what about the fans who don’t know which songs are on which album?

In thinking about this, it reminds me of a game that we did at our convention in 2013. In this game, everyone had an index card with a song, an album, or something else Duran relate. They could not look at the card but had to ask questions of other fans to figure out what their card said. I believe that I had some song on Seven and the Ragged Tiger but as I went around to ask questions, people told me that my card was some song on Rio. By the time I got to Rhonda, I was asking about each individual song on the Rio album. I distinctly remember her looking at me so weirdly like she thought I had lost my mind. I couldn’t figure it out until she told me that I was asking about the wrong album. Clearly, not everyone knew which songs were on which albums. I made some comment that maybe I should teach Duran Duran 101 at the next convention. Some people around me chimed in that they thought it was a good idea. Interesting.

When I think about that moment at the convention or people’s answers this week, my first thought is always a bit of surprise. People really don’t know what’s on the first album? Then, I recognize that while I know what is on the first album, I might struggle with songs on Liberty, for example. I know that Rhonda and I have a review to do for next Friday. What exactly comes next after Liberty? I would have think about it and then I would probably check to make sure that I’m right. What’s the difference for me? Simple. I have listened to the first album a heck of a lot more than Liberty. On top of that, the first album has been in my life a lot longer. As an educator, I can tell you that frequency with material makes a big difference in retaining information.

This leads me to think more about teaching and learning. I don’t think I’m bad when it comes to Duran and the band’s history. I have done a lot of reading on my own and watched a lot of documentaries (way more than once I might add). I like that kind of stuff. I like learning. Maybe that is a reason why I became a teacher. Funny enough, I especially like learning about things I’m interested in, much like my kids. Of course, I don’t try and learn everything about all things I’m a fan of. I guess for me it is about how big of a fan I am or how into it I am. I suppose that is sort of normal, hopefully.

What about the rest of you? How much do you think you know about Duran Duran? Does it matter how much you know? Do you think that all fans should know sometimes? If so, what? How have you learned about Duran Duran?

-A

Boy Keeps Swinging

Music. It never stops. For reasons I don’t know, I texted my wife from work early this morning – “Let’s have some cocktails tonight and listen to disco.” I have to admit that disco is far from my first move when choosing music but it is my Friday and we like to cut loose a little after I finish a workweek. I guess I was in the mood for some Studio 54 grooves? Regardless, it was an odd thought to cross my mind.

I didn’t think about the text again until I was sitting in a Vegas showroom tonight listening to Australian Bee Gees sing “Night Fever”. As a Vegas local, free show tickets often fall in your lap and around 3pm today, that happened with the Bee Gees. Did I sense my own future with that text to the wife earlier in the day? It was a really cosmic coincidence, if nothing else.

Sitting at the show tonight, I was slightly humbled by the Bee Gees songbook. They have written an incredible amount of hit singles and I’ve grown quite fond of disco, to be honest. When Duran Duran released the single version of “My Own Way”, I understood that it was heavily influenced by disco but the music of Gloria Gaynor, Tavares, and Bee Gees was hardly on my 9 year-old radar. However, I still prefer the disco style of the “My Own Way” single compared to the lumbering version found on Rio. All it took was a few Chic albums to sell me on disco.

Speaking of Nile and Duran Duran, they are equally guilty of steering me towards David Bowie. When Duran Duran covered “Fame”, it was a b-side on one of the many 12″ singles I was buying by my favorite band from England. Then, Rodgers produced “Let’s Dance” and David Bowie was everywhere on MTV. I put a face and sound to the name under “Fame” on the Duran Duran single I owned. And life was forever altered.

When Bowie released “Blue Jean”, I was really intrigued but the late 80s were hardly Bowie’s most prolific period. It was only later when working with a songwriter named Holly Palmer in the 90s that I re-connected Bowie on a deeper level. As her webmaster in the early days of this thing called the internet, she would send me pictures and tour diary updates from her tour with David Bowie as his backing vocalist. If you listen to his ‘hours…’ album, that is her voice on “Thursday’s Child”. As her career grew, Bowie’s management team politely emailed me that they would be taking over her website and I was honored to hand it off to them.

While Holly continues to write and record music, Bowie no longer does; at least not on this planet. Friday was the anniversary of his death, and the universe piled on my sadness with the loss of Neil Peart of Rush. It was an important reminder to live every day and enjoy as much music as we can while here. On Sunday, I joined a friend on her radio show and we played two hours of David Bowie tracks and shared our favorite Bowie stories. She chose Bowie’s “Fame” as one of her tracks so I slipped in Duran’s cover of “Boys Keep Swinging”. If you fancy a listen, you can stream the show here.

Getting back to disco, I never thought about the lyrics to “My Own Way” and Studio 54 until just now. The song mentions standing on 45 between 6th and Broadway. Studio 54 was on 54th between 8th and Broadway so just a short walk from there. Was the band making a reference to the disco scene that helped inspire the Rum Runner back in Birmingham with that line? Or were they reflecting on their first visit to play NYC a few months earlier at The Ritz? All these years later, I’m still discovering new connections in the music I’ve spent a life with. And that is why this boy keeps swinging.

Out In the Stars

There’s one I want to meet

Every once in a while, I run across something I either haven’t seen before, or forgotten that I’ve already seen! Today while browsing Facebook, a link for a fan-made video for “Northern Lights” popped up. I have the vaguest recollection of hearing that this existed, so I clicked on the link.

The video is complete with titles, suggesting that it was produced by Duran Duran (not exactly), and takes scenes from 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, mixed with what I believe are clips from “What Happens Tomorrow”. Overall, it isn’t a bad piece of video, and provides a little visual context to the music. Props to ReborninOktober for the effort. (This person has done videos for other DD deep cuts as well – check them out on YouTube)

Coming round now to share

While I watched, I thought about how the band ran a video production contest for the entire All You Need is Now album. Fans submitted videos for each of the songs and the band chose their favorites. I seem to recall the videos being shown before DD gigs on that tour at some point. It was a great way to showcase fan production along with meeting their need for videos. After all, at one point or another, they had mentioned a hope of doing videos for the entire album. Done!

In this day and age, I’m not sure of the value behind music videos. My kids, for instance, don’t ever mention them. All three of them are avid You-Tube viewers, but music videos aren’t the type of content that keeps them going. It would seem to me that it is only my generation, the MTV kids of the 80s, that hold them with any sort of esteem. These days, marketing a rock band takes a different sort of direction from great lighting, story boards and say—supermodels.

Do you hear my wish

Don’t get me wrong, I love music videos. I’m one of those 1980s holdovers. While I have eagerly gotten on board with social media of all kinds, and loved connecting with the band when they were active on Twitter, I miss good videos. I miss good Duran Duran videos. Hell, I miss real MTV! I don’t know if it’s really the type of music I listen to that ages me, as much as my enthusiastic eagerness to back another music video channel that sends me straight to middle age. However, who takes the time and creativity with music videos anymore? I think maybe they’ve become something more of an afterthought than anything else of value.

So, where does that leave us? I dare suggest we’re at a point where fans take the effort into their own hands. All across YouTube, I find live performance clips, amateur photo montages, cleverly chopped and edited video mashings, and even expertly storyboarded, completely original production masterpieces—all done by fans, and not just for Duran Duran, but a plethora of bands, musicians, and artists. While at one point I may have worried about copyright material (and perhaps the lawyer types out there still do), I also consider the artistry and creativity, done with the inspiration of a favorite artist. While I doubt there’s any mistaking most, if not all of these videos for Russel Mulcahey’s genius, it is likely his work that served as brainchild and inspiration for many of these people.

Nothing I would rather like

No, it isn’t MTV. I suspect there will never be another. I do spend a little time mourning over those days gone by. I have a deep sense of gratitude for the era in which I grew up and matured. I also appreciate that in this day and age, we’ve been given tools to create our own masterpieces if we so choose. Many fans have done just that, and while they’re not widely broadcast, there are plenty out there worth watching. Sometimes, I’m even hard pressed to decide if it’s an official video or not!

In the meantime, here’s the link to a video for “Northern Lights”. If anyone happens to come across a video to share – let me know!

-R

Be My Icon: A Bronx Tale

Saturday night, I boarded a six-hour red-eye flight across the country after working a hectic day at the restaurant just to see a concert. As I get older, this gets a little tougher each time. A few years ago, I flew into Los Angeles, saw Duran Duran at the Hollywood Bowl, slept for 3 hours in a hostel that smelled of Ramen noodle, and took a shuttle back to LAX. It took days for me to get back to normal after that. And yet, here I went again chasing a concert. It is one of the symptoms of extreme fandom and there is no known cure.

How did this all begin? For many of us reading this blog each day, it was obviously Duran Duran. The band lured us into a world of fantasy and possibility in the early 80s and a little (huge?) part of us have never left that behind. For me, before Duran Duran and MTV, there was my father. I grew up listening to him entertain at parties on guitar and the music of Dion & the Belmonts was always a huge part of those nights.

Like many New Yorkers, my parents left the Bronx for South Florida when the kids started to appear. But every summer, I flew back to stay with my grandparents and take in the old neighborhood. There was always amazing Italian food at the street fairs and incredible music would be coming out of every open window. I just loved walking to the Bronx Zoo and visiting the Botanical Gardens.

My dad would tell me stories about growing up in the Bronx and heading down into Greenwich Village to listen to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. He told me about the time he shared the stage with a down-on-his-luck Dion in a little bar and how the best guitarist he ever heard was Leslie West of the Vagrants (later of Mountain) who shared a few stages with my dad’s own band The Ducaines. The Vietnam War ended my dad’s rock-n-roll dream but music stayed a huge part of our home as I grew up and he was a “rock star” in my eyes.

Living in Vegas, there is no shortage of shows to see but when I saw The Bronx Wanderers a few years ago, I felt like I had heard the soundtrack to my life. Led by Vinny Adinolfi and his incredibly gifted sons Vin A. and Nick, the show stretches from the Dion and Frankie Valli songs I heard my parents playing as a little kid all the way through today’s popular hits by the likes of Bruno Mars. From the Vietnam-era anthems by The Animals and CCR to iconic songs by Queen and Neil Diamond, the band pulls from every chapter of the rock-n-roll songbook. Every single song they play is important to the fabric of rock-n-roll and the show still gives me goosebumps after attending almost a dozen times.

When I saw the band was touring Florida, I mentioned to Vinny and his son Vin A. that I’d love to get my dad to a show. After retiring, my dad started playing gigs again and the Dion songs were still a big part of his set. They upped the ante and suggested my dad join them onstage for “Runaround Sue” to finish the show. And just like that, I was flying through the night in a tuna can with wings that Frontier Airlines has the audacity to call an airplane.

Attending soundcheck, my dad was able to take in all the work that goes into such a big production and the band graciously invited us backstage to talk about the show. It felt like an extended family and the atmosphere was unlike any I’ve seen in my years of working in the industry. As if they hadn’t done enough already, the band had us in the front row for the show and suggested my dad come up earlier to jam on a few other songs. The told him it would be in the key of A and like the proper musician he has always been, he said no problem.

The Vietnam tribute in the show always gets me and hearing it next to my dad was especially poignant. He volunteered as a Marine and ended up in the infamous Suicide Charlie outfit that faced some of the most hostile conditions of the Vietnam war. As we again find ourselves on the precipice of another useless war, I was screaming along with “Fortunate Son” searching for the emotional release that only rock-n-roll can provide.

As the show reached its climax, my dad confidently walked on stage and borrowed a guitar. Just like that, he was in the show as the band ripped through “Johnny B. Goode” and the older crowd came to their feet to dance. The energy in the room was better than a few Duran Duran shows I saw on the last tour so age is no excuse for not enjoying yourself!

After “Runaround Sue”, the band exited the stage and I ended up talking to the wonderful people in the audience who wanted to tell me how great my dad was. Well, I know. I grew up listening to him play and he raised me to appreciate music which is a gift that has guided my career and life. Hell, the musical journey led me to work for a music-themed restaurant where I met my English wife while debating Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet! Thank god he didn’t teach me to love plumbing.

We drove an hour through the cold, dark roads to his house in Beverly Hills, FL – which is NOTHING like the one in California (he has horses!). A few hours of sleep and we were back on the road to Tampa so I could make a 7am flight. Landing in Vegas at 9am, I went straight to work, taught a class, and came home to write this. I am exhausted. But as always, the miles and miles of travel to see a musical icon were worth the lack of sleep.

So, the next time Duran Duran plays Las Vegas (let’s be honest, it happens a lot), plan to arrive a day early and we can all go see The Bronx Wanderers together. If its 80s you crave, you’ll love Vin A. doing a mean Stray Cats cover but I promise you that you’ll know every song. And maybe my dad will be in town so I can introduce you to my first musical icon!

Back in the Saddle

Hi, my name is Rhonda. You might not remember me….

As you can see, we’re back. In my case, it was a very good recess. The thing is, normally when I say I’m going to take a break, I really don’t. I end up tinkering around on the blog, spending time online, and still doing a lot of “Duran Duran fan” sorts of things. This time, I didn’t, and I’m not sure I really missed it.

Back in 2010 when I wrote the first post for Daily Duranie, I will openly admit that I had very little else going on that didn’t have to do with my children. I felt like a nameless, faceless body without an actual identity beyond that of “Walt’s wife” and/or “mom”. I was aching for something else, and Daily Duranie became that something. For years following that first post, I gave my heart and soul to the site, the blog, and even to some extent – even the band.

This blog is about being a fan, but unlike Amanda – I also feel that this blog is about me. Each day I write, I share some of who I am with those who take the time to read. I try to be as honest (sometimes painfully so) as possible. It is 100% me. I don’t write as a distant third party. I’m not a journalist, my voice is loud and clear in my writing, and that is by MY design.

Amanda and I became The Daily Duranie. We heard the words every time we were together. I don’t speak for her, but for me, it became less about us as autonomous fans when it came to fandom and Duran Duran. We were called the Daily Duranie girls, or A&R, or AmandaandRhonda. (No spaces intended) We were permanently connected as far as Duran Duran or the fan community is concerned.

I didn’t mind. I liked being equated with this blog we created together. There is a great sense of pride that this little piece of cyberspace has become something that other people enjoy and look forward to reading. For me personally, I didn’t feel like I was anything other than “mom” for a long time. Writing the blog filled in some blanks for me. I felt a sense of purpose that went beyond diaper changes or school drop-offs, and the feels I’d get along the way checked off quite a few boxes for me.

I also believed that there was something else out there for me beyond being a wife and mother. I just had to find it. I was convinced that the blog would lead me to something bigger. Incredulously, many people within this community quickly embraced the blog. They’d seek us out when we’d attend shows, and it was GREAT to feel that love. I needed it more than I can explain, or even knew at the time.

Since that point, it’s been a rollercoaster. Sometimes we’re up, and sometimes we’re down. Such is life. Late last year, I asked Jason Lent – a wonderfully talented music writer and friend – to take one of my blogging days. It wasn’t an easy decision for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with Jason, but it worked out. I really believe he’s reaching a new segment of readers that we’d never have connected with otherwise. Quite frankly, he’s a much better writer than I am, anyway.

Looking back, I don’t know if I actually found that “something” I was searching for. I don’t have any more or less of a career now than I did in 2010. I don’t really have more friends, and although many people recognize me when I’m with Amanda – if I’m alone, I’m rarely approached. Contextually, I think that if I’m not with Amanda, it doesn’t ring a bell to anyone. Why would it? The point is, the identity I thought I had all this time really isn’t ME – it’s the blog. It’s a side effect, and while I am the last person who will complain, I think it’s worth noting. Truth be told, I needed a break at the end of last year, both from day to day writing, as well as just feeling the weight of writing for ten years. So, I took it.

I’ve used the free time that Jason has given to reconnect myself with music in a different way. I’m playing clarinet again, and I’ve been working on some longer-term projects here at home. I’m spending a lot of my time focusing on things that make me truly happy, and not so much on the things that make me feel pressured to be something I’m not.

One of those pressures, oddly enough, is this fan community. Back in 2005, I was overjoyed to have opportunities to travel, see concerts, and do the things other people did. With each tour, I would up the ante, trying to do more. Lately, I felt this immense pressure to go to things, whether it was because if I didn’t I’d let someone down, or because “I’m one-half of Daily Duranie”.

Hi, I am Rhonda, and I am addicted to the chase of fandom. This is something I’ve thought about a lot during my time off.

First of all, it isn’t just about me. I am not an island, and I don’t live alone. My responsibilities are to my husband, and to our children. For far too long, I let that boundary slide in favor of making other people, including myself from time to time, happy. I accept those consequences – of which there have been many over the years – things I never write or talk about.

Second, I write Daily Duranie. I help run the website – but Daily Duranie is not who I am. It isn’t a person. I’m Rhonda, and this blog is just my hobby. At one time or another, I tried to make it into more than that for myself, but it just isn’t. Square peg, round hole…or something like that.

I am grateful that I started this website. It provided me with something to sink my teeth into when the drudgery of motherhood felt endless. Ten years later, with one child completely on her own, another that is grown but living at home, along with one tween to go —that part of my life doesn’t feel quite as much like a dark tunnel. I have new interests, things to do, and not nearly as much free time to brood.

Over the past month, I saw a lot of people post and tweet about flying here, or there, to see the band when they play next. Fans twittered incessantly about the Funko figurines, t-shirts, and so on. Duranies posted photos of themselves with the band, talked about parties they were at with some of them, posted about things they knew the band was working on or planning. Little by little, I realized something huge.

This blog, the things I’ve already done, the people I’ve met, and the precious little I know about the band beyond what is publicly “known”, I think this might be as far as the fan experience, or even the “career” as a blogger goes for me with this band. Not that I’m quitting, gosh no, but that I’m not going to continue the chase for more. I’m satisfied right here. For so long, I really believed it would all lead to something else. I don’t know what that “something” would have been. A book? A career? I didn’t know, I just believed that if I worked hard enough and got to know enough people – something would surface.

Let me be clear – in hindsight I can see that many things broke the surface for me. I’m so grateful! I interviewed people I never thought I’d have the opportunity. I’ve been places I would have never gone otherwise. The fun I’ve had, well – it kept me going. Allowed me to breathe when I needed, and laugh when I was hurting. That alone, and believe me when I write that it has been plenty as is, might be my full ride.

The band is still sort of an enigma, at least for me. I don’t know them. Hell, I don’t even know the roadies! I still chuckle that even though we’ve written Daily Duranie for nearly ten years now, I can’t say I’ve had a photo with most of them. I’ve waved at a few of them though, and clinked glasses with Simon Le Bon. I’ll take that any day!

This light-bulb moment isn’t one of sadness though, although it might read that way to many of you. It’s actually freeing to type the words. There’s no need for me to pressure myself to get to more things, attempt to network with people who clearly do not care one lick about me beyond what I can do for them, or try to be this super happy, stars-in-my-eyes, insipidly positive person that all of you know that I am not. I can’t be everything for everyone. I owe the very best of myself to my husband and children. That’s it. It’s taken me nearly twenty-five years to figure it out, but there it is.

I write what I feel at the time. My honesty can be painful to some, and PR is not my speciality. I’m not a sycophant for the band or anyone else. I’m 100% me, and I’m doing it my own way.

I am happier and more content than I’ve ever been, believe it or not. I’m also still very passionate about continuing this blog. However, I am through jumping through hoops to prove myself to be a worthy Duranie, or friend. I am not everyone’s cup of tea – hell, I’m not most people’s – and that’s fine. I have a family to manage, a small farm/homestead to run, and while I care about friends – my family comes first. I will happily cheer for people who are able to head to the UK and beyond for gigs, but unless I get extraordinarily lucky, I’ll be applauding from home. My traveling days are pretty much done, and I had a good run.

Maybe some of you can count yourself among the inner circle, the backstage people, the VIP’ers that get into everything. For the unaware, those people are the fans, friends, and yes – even sycophants, that certain staff, management, or band members seek out in the audience and beyond, awarding them with access passes or tickets to other gigs and so on. I’ve had friends who have gone from fan to inner circle and never looked back. It puzzles and confounds me how some make it, and others never seem to past muster. I just know aside from some very brief glimpses, I’m still on the other side of the curtain with most of the rest of you.

Admittedly, that used to bother me. I worked hard, as has Amanda. We’ve written this blog for years. Didn’t that mean something? The answer is no, it doesn’t. We’re fans. The extra time and effort we spend writing entitles us to nothing. My past discontent with real life bled into my passion for this band, and only now can I see how much it distorted my expectations.

I still love the band. Their music brings me a great sense of joy. Whether or not I ever go to another show, meet anyone in the band, sit with insiders at a bar, or anything else, changes nothing about their music makes me feel. This knowledge is the easiest part of being a fan, and continues to fuel my energy and creativity for writing.

Much of fandom has been great. I have a few friends I’ve made along the way, and some of them have learned to tolerate me, despite my shortcomings! On the flip side, I’ve also felt the burden to stick around, pay for expensive tickets, and even travel places when maybe I knew I shouldn’t, purely to keep up with friends and their own expectations. Not something I’m particularly proud to admit, but it is the truth. I’m just saying, it happens. It did to me.

Going forward, and yes – Daily Duranie will continue, you should expect to read the same unabashed, sometimes bluntly written posts from me as always. That won’t change. You may notice that I’m not present at as many shows or events as I once was. I’m not sad about that. I’m actually relieved to admit that this band and their concerts are pricey, and I can’t buy-in the way I did several years back. That doesn’t mean I’m not a good fan, or that I don’t still love them, but that I appreciate my real life means just a little bit more these days.

Happy 2020. I hope you’ll keep reading!

-R