East Coast Rocker

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Apple Evangelist Guy Kawasaki and The Art of Innovation: ‘Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down’

Guy Kawasaki Says Forge Ahead With Good Product

By DONNA BALANCIA

Guy Kawasaki gave his inspiring “Art of Innovation” presentation before a packed house at the NAMM Show Saturday breakfast.

The former Apple marketing “evangelist” had an important message for the crowd of mostly music merchants: Persevere with new ideas no matter what others say.

Stick with your idea, continually develop your idea, but stay away from the clowns, he said during his 10-point presentation.

Kawasaki: No Clowns Here

“There are two kinds of ‘Bozos,'” Kawasaki said. “There is the ‘Loser Bozo,’ the kind with the B.O. and the pocket protector and there is the ‘Winner Bozo’ who wears all black clothing and has a lot of things that end in ‘I’ like Lamborghini.”

The “Loser Bozo” is not a threat.  But be careful of the “Winner Bozo,” the dangerous Bozo, who says no to your idea. You have to separate rich, famous and powerful from those who have been lucky, Kawasaki said.

Kawasaki told the audience it’s important to be “inoculated” against “Bozocity” by being attuned to phrases like “It can’t be done,” and “Why would anyone …?”

Guy Kawasaki said innovators have the bravery to crack a joke - Photo courtesy of Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki said innovators have the bravery to crack a joke – Photo courtesy of Guy Kawasaki

Generally, those who are afraid of change or the new idea, are threatened for their own job security and will say no.  So go find someone else to pitch and keep going, he said.

Kawasaki says ‘Jump’

Don’t be afraid to “jump the river” and get to the next level of development and continue to think ahead of the curve.  He also said that when you make a presentation, don’t be afraid to crack a joke. He mentioned that on a trip to Russia, he snapped a pic of himself in front of large cannon balls and made a crack about bravery in his presentation.

Other suggestions Kawasaki made include making fans not just at the elusive CEO-level, but start at the ground level, with the people in the trenches because they’ll always be your fans.

Make a niche for yourself. Find the place that the competitors are not, in terms of uniqueness and value. And if you have fans and supporters who may not exactly be in the niche you’re going for, that’s OK too. Don’t turn them away.

And work hard to get that first believer or investor.  It’s good to show people you have at least one solid supporter.  Then you can get the others.

As ‘Compton’ Retains B.O. Reign, Aldis Hodge Talks Role as Rapper M.C. Ren

By DONNA BALANCIA — Aldis Hodge says it’s the family bond that has enabled the successful careers of he and his brother, Edwin, for the last 25 years.

Aldis, who plays M.C. Ren in Straight Outta Compton, and his older brother were on hand at a recent premiere. Aldis spoke to CaliforniaRocker.com about work, family and the N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton opened to $60 million in its debut and topped the box office again last weekend with an additional take of $27 million for a cumulative total of $111.4 million.

Hodge told CaliforniaRocker.com he’s excited about his latest project, Straight Outta Compton, the box office topper that tells the story of the rise of the N.W.A., considered one of the most influential rap groups, and considered instrumental in the Gangsta Rap genre.

“We grew up back East and we spent a lot of time here, too,” said Hodge, 28.  “We’ve been acting since we were very young, and we’re very fortunate to be working.”

Hodge said Straight Outta Compton, directed by F. Gary Gray, will help present the Gangsta Rap movement in a different light.

“You’re going to enjoy this film,” he said. “It’s more than a story about the music. It covers M.C. Ren’s life from the time he was young to present day.”

Keith Stanfield plays Snoop Dog, O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays Ice Cube, Jason Mitchell plays Easy-E and Corey Hawkins plays Dr. Dre.

“I think this film will get people to understand more about N.W.A.  MC Ren didn’t do drugs, and the N.W.A. were really about getting their music heard,” Hodge said. “But they did get wild, partying and all.  It’s pretty wild.”

The last screening of the film that Hodge saw ran close to 2.5 hours, he said.

Universal Pictures should be applauded not only to tackle some diverse and risky subject matter but also in keeping the production in Los Angeles.  Judging by the immense size of cast and crew this was no inexpensive proposition.

“The film was shot right here in L.A.,” Hodge said, “that made it authentic and it was convenient to get to work.”

As for his cast mates, he enjoyed working with them all but had some special words for Paul Giamatti, who plays Jerry Heller.

“He plays our manager, he’s just a monster in this,” Hodge said. “He gives an unbelievable performance.”

While sometimes it seems like it’s all a fabulous dream, Hodge is realistic about his work.

“You have to be prepared for the good times and the slow times also,” he said. “It’s all about family and we have good family around us, so we’re all right.”

Ed. note – This article was originally published on March 11, 2015 in CaliforniaRocker.com.

The East Coast Rocker Interview: Johnny Winter a Humble Blues Innovator

Johnny Winter is a Grammy-nominated producer and blues historian

Johnny Winter is a Grammy-nominated producer and blues historian – Graphic courtesy of Johnny Winter

 By DONNA BALANCIA

Guitar Great is ‘Just having fun again.’

Johnny Winter has learned to become a great teacher — and a student — of time’s lessons.

In an interview originally published last fall, Johnny Winter told editor Donna Balancia all about his likes and dislikes and his climb back to the top of the Rock N Roll charts.

“I never knew my career would last this long, but I sure hoped for it,” said Winter, who at the age of 69, has survived a finicky musical landscape to emerge as one of history’s most well-respected blues artists.

Sporting his signature long white hair, cowboy hat, and characteristically cool demeanor, Winter sat down with EAST COAST ROCKER to chat about his career.

Winter, a Blues Foundation Hall of Fame inductee, is a Grammy-nominated producer, known for his work with blues greats like Muddy Waters.  The famously fair-haired, Texas-bred blues buff and older brother to rocker Edgar Winter, has come through dark times to reach the light-heartedness that now marks his personal life and his musical career.

His relationships have been an important factor to get him and keep him healthy, in particular his friendship with guitarist Paul Nelson, who has been one of the most significant people in his life.

Check out Johnny Winter on Late Night

Check out Johnny Winter on Late Night

“Johnny’s a blues historian,” said Nelson, Winter’s bandmate and manager. “He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to listen to Pavarotti. He’s cemented to the blues.  He not only plays it, he knows the blues.”

Nelson has helped Winter instill a healthy lifestyle to keep touring and recording.

“It’s been a long road, but he’s sober now, he’s smiling now and his vocals are clear,” Nelson said. “There was a time that there was so much that came so fast, like in the 1970s, it was when he went from blues to rock. Then through the 1990s he had a rough time.

“I met Johnny in 2000, he had been a recluse,” Nelson said. “His management was not up to date.  I firmly believe that when you’re young you need older management, when you’re older you need young management.”

Winter has become a new man since turning the corner and quitting drinking and partying.

“No, I don’t do any of that anymore,” Winter said. “I’m not drinking or doing drugs. If I didn’t quit, I wouldn’t be alive today.  This was my choice.  I’ve been clean for 10 years.”

Winter lives in Connecticut, but has fond memories of his home town of Beaumont, Texas, where as a kid he did a lot of fishing, he said.

“There are some really great parts of Texas,” Winter said. “My folks aren’t alive, so I don’t have much cause to go back there too much these days.”

The Screamin' Demon is at it again

The Screamin’ Demon is at it again

His business and personal interests have diversified over the years.  He’s even come out with his own signature hot sauce called “Screamin’ Demon Hot Sauce.”

While he said he is encouraged that young people today are getting into the blues, for the most part, he said, he’s not too fond of the “sound of today.”

“I hate the new music,” he said. “I just do.”

His touring keeps him busy, and promoting his album, “Roots,” has been a labor of love, Winter said.  It’s through his touring and promoting the blues that he stays in touch with the fun in life.

“These are the songs I heard when I was first getting into my music,” he said. “It’s just real good music.”

Back in the day, the average age of fans at a Johnny Winter concert was 20, today the average age is 55. He is appreciative of his fan support.

“When my fans come talk to me they always say things like, ‘I’ve been listening to your music for 40 years,'” he said. “And let me tell you, that’s a pretty good feeling.”