Congratulations to Amy and John Billings on the opening of Wine Down Nashville, a new music and event-based establishment in Nashville, Tennessee. John has been The Monkees' bass player since 2012 and also performs with Micky Dolenz. He resides in Nashville with Amy, who has long dreamed of opening a wine restaurant.
"Wine Down Nashville is a boutique wine bar created by musicians but made for all," John relayed to the Live Almanac this weekend. "It reflects both of our histories, some of our adventures, and especially our love of wine. We are open for all walks of life, but we're putting an emphasis on local events, corporate meetings, parties, and Amy's favorite pet project: meet and greets by some of our favorite musical artists, creatives of all walks, and a glimpse into Nashville's musical studio and touring force. Stay tuned!"
John also alerted the Live Almanac that a special treat awaits Monkees fans inside Wine Down Nashville. "I'm displaying and selling some of our favorite behind the scenes photography [of The Monkees] that I've taken over the years. I haven't previously displayed or presented any of it, but with Amy's help, it's going to be part of our boutique wine bar." John shared photos of his work that currently adorns the walls of Wine Down Nashville:
Stopping in at Wine Down Nashville to give his seal of approval was Wayne Avers, longtime Monkees guitarist and musical director:
Late A&R head’s reissues of everyone from the Ramones to the Monkees combined a scholar’s authority with a fan’s zeal
Monkees archivist and producer Andrew Sandoval remembered his friend Gary on Facebook:
Recorded during The Monkees' 30th Anniversary Tour in the summer of 1996, Two Man Band featured Peter Tork and his longtime friend, singer/songwriter/musician James Lee Stanley, performing selected covers and songs by Tork, Stanley, and The Monkees.
Peter and James first met in 1964 when Peter was a member of the Phoenix Singers during Peter's Greenwich Village days. In 1994, James Lee's Beachwood Records issued Peter's first solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, and the duo began to perform together in the aftermath of its release. The intimate, acoustic nature of their shows inspired them to replicate that formula inside the recording studio, and Two Man Band was born.
In 2001, Peter and James released Once Again, which was followed by Live/Backstage at the Coffee Gallery in 2006.
Two Man Band is an excellent album that the Live Almanac highly recommends. Listen to an insightful interview with James Lee Stanley where he talks extensively about the album on the Texas Prairie Chicken Home Companion podcast:
AllMusic delivered praise for Two Man Band in its review of the album:
"Following the artistic success of his debut solo CD, Stranger Things Have Happened, Peter Tork teamed up with Beachwood labelmate James Lee Stanley. This pairing allowed Tork to further explore his acoustic, blues, and easy listening side. And, as with his first release, this is an excellent album. Both artists compliment each other and the music is very accessible. Tork has a wonderfully pleasing and distinctive voice, and Stanley's voice is a perfect blend. The two alternate lead vocals and composition credits and this, too, works. Stanley contributes more original tunes to the collection, while Tork is content to write a couple and choose suitable covers (such as the brilliant 'Milkshake,' a clear standout of the CD). 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' is outstanding and rivals the Monkees' version. One wonders what direction the Monkees would have taken had Tork had more control. That said, this album is a treasure. A perfect album for late summer nights while relaxing."
Two Man Band can be purchased on compact disc today through Amazon or CD Baby. The album is also available for downloading on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify.
Thanks very much to Ben Belmares for sharing his scans of Two Man Band with The Monkees Live Almanac!
On Saturday, April 27, Micky Dolenz will join longtime friend (and fellow Hollywood Vampire) Alice Cooper at Cooper’s Annual Rock & Roll Fundraising Bash, benefiting free music, dance, art, recording, and video classes for teenagers at Alice Cooper’s Rock Teen Center.
Legendary Wrecking Crew member Hal Blaine played drums on a number of Monkees songs in the 1960s, including "Papa Gene's Blues," "Mary, Mary," and "Someday Man." He passed away on Monday at age 90.
Gemma "Coco" Dolenz (Vocals)
John Billings (Bass Guitar)
Rich Dart (Drums)
Christian Nesmith (Guitar)
Circe Link (Vocals)
Sandy Gennaro (Drums: 1987, 1996-1997, 2001-2002)
Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval is the author of The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation and has produced The Monkees' concert tours since 2011. Andrew honored Peter Tork today on Facebook:
James Frawley was a monumental figure in the success of The Monkees televison show, directing 28 episodes of the series. In 1967, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for "The Royal Flush." He was nominated again a year later for another episode, "The Devil and Peter Tork."
Frawley appeared on The Monkees several times over, including the second season episode "Monkees Blow Their Minds" as 'Rudy Bayshore' and as himself in "The Monkees in Paris." He also voiced the dummy 'Mr. Schneider' along with other uncredited voiceovers. His success continued after working with The Monkees, producing and directing numerous television shows and movies, including The Muppet Movie in 1979. Jim died in Arizona on Tuesday at age 82.
Here is a list of Monkees episodes that were directed by Jim Frawley:
Micky Dolenz remembered Frawley in a post on Facebook:
Adam Schlesinger, producer of The Monkees' two most recent albums Good Times! and Christmas Party, breaks down the tracks on the group's new holiday LP and much more on The Nightfly with Dave Juskow podcast. Thanks to Tracy Robison for the heads-up!
The Monkees visited the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee when they were guests on the July 19, 1969 edition of The Johnny Cash Show. The trio sang Michael Nesmith's "Nine Times Blue" in an appearance that was filmed earlier that May. Micky, Davy, and Mike were later joined by Johnny for a comedic take of "Everybody Loves a Nut," originally featured on Cash's 1966 novelty album.
Eddie Zyne, who played drums for The Monkees on their blockbuster 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, has passed away. Micky Dolenz honored Eddie in a post on Facebook:
Neko Cholis designed the artwork for various Monkees albums and picture sleeves, and traveled with the group while on tour in 1967. During the August 20, 1967 performance in Denver, Colorado at the Denver Coliseum, Neko treated The Monkees to cotton candy. Note that Mike is shown playing a 12-string Fender acoustic guitar after difficulties experienced with his usual Gretsch.
Here's a great photo of Micky with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5. Buck and McCaughey co-wrote the title track of The Monkees' forthcoming holiday album, Christmas Party.
On a personal note, I'm a longtime fan of R.E.M. and am thrilled that Peter is working with The Monkees. Scott is also closely aligned with R.E.M. as he was an auxiliary musician in the studio and on stage with the group from 1994 until their their breakup in 2011.
Scott's band The Minus 5 released Of Monkees and Men in 2016, described as "an imaginative tribute to the Monkees’ legacy in music and popular culture."
Thank you very much to John Hughes of Rhino Records for providing The Monkees Live Almanac with an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek in the studio when Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) joined Micky Dolenz to record the tracks "Christmas Party" and "Jesus Christ" for the upcoming Monkees holiday album, Christmas Party. John is the executive producer of this latest Monkees project.
Left to right are guitarist Jody Porter, producer Adam Schlesinger, John Hughes, Mark Pinkus (President, Rhino Records), Micky Dolenz, drummer Brian Young, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey:
Peter Tork's "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" was one of the many highlights found on the soundtrack to The Monkees' 1968 feature film, Head. Originally recorded and intended for release on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, "Long Title" featured contributions from Peter's longtime friend Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin, and Greenwich Village pal Lance Wakely. Peter's guitar work on this track stands as some of his finest.
The track appeared in the film Head during the Michael Nesmith birthday party scene: