Showing posts with label #Blondie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Blondie. Show all posts

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blondie Magnificent at Firefly Gala: Interview with Guitarist/Songwriter Chris Stein

By Ray Shasho

BLONDIE was simply spectacular on Saturday night for the Second Annual Firefly Gala in Bradenton, Florida. The concert began promptly at 9:45p.m.under the stars on a beautiful tropical evening. The event raised an estimated $112,000 for The Forty Carrots Family Center, a nonprofit organization in Sarasota, Florida dedicated to strengthening families through educational programs for parents, children, and professionals in the field. The event was sponsored by The Dart Foundation.
Formed in 1974, Blondie amassed a huge Punk following at New York’s famed CBGB. The band later became known for their eclectic musical styles that included New Wave, Disco, Pop, Reggae and Rap. The band has sold over 40 million records worldwide. Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Blondie hadn’t performed together for months, but based on crowd reaction at the packed mobile- amphitheater, you’d think you were reliving one of those incredible CBGB shows all over again. The band played a magnificent performance to a rapturous Bradenton gathering at the Concession.  
Debbie Harry continues to be totally hip, enticing the audience throughout the evening with coolness, glamour and vivaciousness.  Her voluptuous voice is stronger than ever and punkish struts even more apparent. An audience of donors and sponsors quickly became an audience of Debbie Harry and Blondie music fanatics. 

Blondie played all the crowd pleasers on Saturday evening including “Union City Blues,” “Dreaming,” “Maria,” “Hanging On The Telephone,” “The Tide Is High” (their cover of the 1967 Paragons tune) and “Call Me” (the band’s biggest selling single from the movie American Gigolo). An explosive one-two punch materialized when Blondie performed the most dynamic and favored tune of the night, “Rapture” including a deviation of the Beastie Boys (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) and followed by the stalker inspired, “One Way Or Another” from their album Parallel Lines. Blondie also showcased new music from their critically-acclaimed release Panic Of Girls including, “Mother,” and “What I heard.” Blondie’s encore for the evening was the #1 Hit, “Heart Of Glass” a tune inspired by the German electronic group Kraftwerk.

Original bandmates, guitar virtuoso Chris Stein, and accomplished drummer Clem Burke, were both on stage playing with vengeance on Saturday night. Tommy Kessler traded guitar licks with Chris Stein and was also spotlighted featuring an array of incredible rifts. Bassist Leigh Foxx and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen complete an amazing group of talented musicians. 

At 8p.m Saturday evening I was escorted onto guitarist Chris Stein’s tour bus for a quick interview.

Fun fact about Chris …. He’s a huge wrestling fan from way back and has met everyone from Andre the Giant to Vince McMahon.  

Here’s my chat with legendary songwriter/guitarist/photographer/ cofounder of Blondie CHRIS STEIN.
Ray Shasho: Thanks for meeting with me today Chris, looking forward to a great show. I know you’re probably asked this a lot but who were some of your influences growing up?
Chris Stein: “Hendrix was a big influence and I was a big Stones freak. And more of a Motown fan prior to the British stuff. And I wasn’t a big Elvis freak when I was a kid. I liked Dylan; I remember seeing Dylan on Steve Allen when I was a kid and that was a big moment, but never made an impression on me until later.”
“But speaking of Elvis… when we went to Graceland it was awesome and not what you might expect… it’s kind of retro at worst. Some of it is a little weird but overall not as bad as one is led to believe. It’s kind of cool in a way.”
Ray Shasho: You met Debbie Harry when you were in the Stilettos?
Chris Stein: “Yea, we’re going to have our fortieth anniversary next year.”
Ray Shasho: Congrats! Chris you’re an excellent photographer, although sad, I liked your pictures featuring the last days of CBGB.
Chris Stein: “Yea, I’m going to start putting stuff out when I get back, putting things together for the Morrison Hotel people. Maybe in April I’ll get something on their website. The digital world is so seductive… I should do more film.”
Ray Shasho: Are you collaborating musically with anyone these days?
Chris Stein: “Just the guys in the band. I listen to a lot of music … a lot of strange stuff.”
Ray Shasho: What kind of music are you listening to these days?
Chris Stein: “A lot of Latin music … ‘Systema Solar’ they’re a great Colombian band. I like Overground Raggaeton. Modern Latin styles too. I was doing the research on old style Colombian music and it sounded a lot like Captain Beefheart or something …very funky.”
Ray Shasho: When you wrote “Heart of Glass” were you specifically aiming for the explosive Disco market?
Chris Stein: “No … it was supposed to be Kraftwerk but it just fit into the mold.”
Ray Shasho: So the band is headed to the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida after tonight’s show?
Chris Stein:  “Just for the weekend. We haven’t played together for five or six months, but we sound okay, we remembered all the music.”
Ray Shasho: What was the origin of “Rapture”? I read somewhere that the melody was devised from a Turkish tune?
Chris Stein: “No-no. We loved Chic and the music that was going on at the time. We heard the first Rap thing in 1977 and it was very exciting that was it you know.”
Ray Shasho: You guys are actually classified as pioneers for the genre of Rap music.
Chris Stein: “Yea, a couple of guys from Wu-Tang Clan told us that it (“Rapture”) was the first Rap song they ever heard … which is kind of mind-boggling. Frankie Crocker broke it on WBLS nationwide. 
Ray Shasho: Anything you’d like to promote Chris?
Chris Stein: “China Mieville’s new book, he’s our buddy; this is his new book called ‘Railsea’ coming out in May. It’s a Steampunk Sci-Fi Fantasy thing. He’s a great writer.”
Ray Shasho: What’s the story about?
Chris Stein: “The world is all dirt (he doesn’t mention any oceans) and covered with these rails, and the trains go everywhere in this complex system of rails and if you step on the ground where the rails are the animals come and eat you immediately. So then there are these islands where the people live on. I’ve been waiting for him to do a Moby-Dick reference and this book has Moby-Dick references in it.”
Ray Shasho: You grew up on Brooklyn?
Chris Stein: “I went to the same high school as Woody Allen, I grew up in Flatbush. There was this local gangster called Junior Sirico and his brother Carmine Sirico. He was like ten years older than me and use to hang out at the local pool hall …. Anyway, he’s ‘Paulie Walnuts’ of The Sopranos. I never knew it but I just found out that it was him.”
Ray Shasho: Where’s Debbie Harry originally from?
Chris Stein: “Florida and New Jersey. Her parents came from Florida but she’s adopted so we don’t know for sure.”
Ray Shasho: Do you like a lot of the Pop/Dance music that’s around today?
Chris Stein: “Don’t you like “Pumped Up Kicks” and all that stuff … it’s a great song! I like that and “Moves Like Jagger” …. they’re really good songs. But I like the fact that everything is dance music. We love Beirut; they’re one of our favorite bands too.”
Ray Shasho: I’m looking forward to tonight’s concert.
Chris Stein: “Well, we really haven’t played for months …so if anybody screws up… (All laughing)”
Ray Shasho: Are you planning another full-scale tour soon?
Chris Stein: “We do great on Europe and UK tours. We’re playing to 30,000 people in the UK and then come back here and play to a thousand drunks in a casino.”
Ray Shasho: Congrats on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There was a bit of a spat during the ceremony wasn’t there?
Chris Stein: “Frankie started pissing and moaning that he wasn’t going to play and he decided it was the right moment in front of 200 million people. People were saying … how much did you pay him for doing that? We thought the Sex Pistols were going to be the big thing. So he just started bitching on TV, he would have had to call somebody if he really wanted to play. I hadn’t talked with him in twenty years. We had already rehearsed.” 
Ray Shasho: Who were some of the bands you followed when you were part of the Punk and New Wave scene?
Chris Stein: “The Ramones, Richard Hell. Television when Richard Hell was still with them was really an amazing thing, it was exciting. The Ramones influenced so many people … the T-Shirts are there everywhere you go. For me the first two Stones albums are completely punk. I just heard “Satisfaction” the other day and I thought … that song sounds so punk.”
Ray Shasho: Chris thanks for chatting with me today, I’m looking forward to a great show.
Chris Stein: “Thanks Ray.”

Special thanks to Minta Getzen, the Forty Carrots Family Center, and the Dart Foundation.
Blondie official website
Forty Carrots official website
Chris Stein IMDb

COMING UP NEXT An interview with IAN ANDERSON of Jethro Tull
Contact author/columnist Ray Shasho at

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Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. ~~Pacific Book Review

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

'BLONDIE' To Perform At Fundraiser In Bradenton For Forty Carrots Family Center

By Ray Shasho

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Blondie will be performing a private concert on Saturday March 24th at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton. The Firefly Gala is a fundraiser for Forty Carrots Family Center and sponsored by The Dart Foundation.

Guided by the belief that the family is the foundation of our society, Forty Carrots Family Center is a nonprofit organization in Sarasota, Florida dedicated to strengthening families through educational programs for parents, children, and professionals in the field. 92% of the families served by Forty Carrots receive free early childhood and parenting education thanks to the generosity of the community. Forty Carrots serves a broad cross section of the community-from teen parents and young homeless mothers to stay- at- home parents and young professionals.

The event is by invitation only. Invites are available to donors and sponsors. To donate and/or sponsor the event, contact the benefitting charity, Forty Carrots Family Center at 941-365-7716 or email at or visit

Tickets (including tables and couples) are currently available through sponsorships. Gala tickets (including dinner and the concert) will be on sale for $250 per guest.
The Concessions Golf Club is located at 7700 Lindrick Lane in Bradenton. The event begins at 6p.m. The Gala includes world class dining by renown restaurateur and Chef Sean Murphy and an opportunity to win exciting auction prizes. Last year’s Gala spotlighted KC And The Sunshine Band.

Blondie was formed in 1974 by original guitarist Chris Stein and Miami- born Debbie Harry. The band amassed huge Punk followings at New York’s famed CBGB’S, Max’s Kansas City (Debbie Harry was once a waitress there) and Mothers. Blondie’s overwhelming popularity led them to the studio where they recorded their first album called Blondie in 1976 - under the Private Stock label.

The band toured in 1977 with Iggy Pop and David Bowie in support of their first album.
In the summer of 1977, Blondie released their second album called Plastic Letters, followed by a tour of Europe and Asia.

They were considered to be a ‘New Wave’ -underground band until the release of their third studio album called Parallel Lines. The album considered to be their best effort spawned huge hits like- “Hanging on the Telephone,” “Sunday Girl,” “One Way or Another,” and their Billboard Hot 100 number #1 mega hit “Heart of Glass.”  The song was sneered at by their faithful as a sellout to their rooted Punk and New Wave principals for entering the commercially successful world of Disco music. Nevertheless, the Harry/Stein penned chart topper went Gold and became Blondie’s trademark tune.
During my stint in radio as a deejay, “Heart of Glass” and Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” became the most requested songs on the airwaves.

Over the next several years, Blondie became known for their eclectic music styles. While maintaining a ‘New Wave’ base, the group ventured into Disco, Pop, Rap and Reggae.

In 1979, Blondie released their fourth studio album called Eat to the Beat. The album generated the hits “Dreaming” #2 in the U.K., Atomic #1 in the UK and “Call Me” (theme song from American Gigolo) spent 6 weeks at #1 in the U.S. and became their biggest hit song.The album  also went certified Platinum.
Blondie’s fifth album, Autoamerican spawned the Reggae-ish tune “The Tide is High,” another #1 hit in the U.S. and U.K. and “Rapture” another #1 hit.  Released in 1981, Rapture was considered crucial in formulating Rap music. It was the first single with rap content to be a chart-topper in the U.S. The album went Platinum.

After the release of their sixth studio album called The Hunter in 1982, the band split-up and Debbie Harry pursued a solo career. The album produced their final U.S. hit called “Island of Lost Souls” before Chris Stein fell ill with a rare and often fatal genetic disease which led to the band’s breakup. Harry cared for Stein who eventually recovered.

Blondie reformed in 1997 and regained their popularity with the release of their seventh album called No Exit. The album produced the #1 hit single in the U.K. and 14 other countries called “Maria.” The album sold more than 2-million units worldwide.
Albums that followed were No Exit, Live in New York, Livid, The Curse of Blondie, Live by Request, Live, Best Live and Live in Toronto.

Blondie celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2006 with their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the release of Greatest Hits: Sound &Vision, a best-of collection that contained all their classic videos.
Blondie has sold more than 40 million records worldwide.

Blondie’s latest release is called Panic of Girls. The album’s front cover artwork was created by Dutch cult artist Chris Berens.

Forty Carrots Family Center website
Follow the Firefly Gala on Facebook ...
The Dart Foundation website
Blondie official website

Coming up next…Ray interviews The Byrds legendary frontman Roger McGuinn and Savoy Brown’s guitar virtuoso Kim Simmonds.

 Don’t forget to purchase Author/Columnist Ray Shasho’s fabulous new book called, ‘Check the Gs’-The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business.

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Contact Ray Shasho at