Tuesday, December 24, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 7: William Elliott Whitmore- The Jarett Mitchell Demos

For the seventh edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the second of three collections of demos for one of my FAVORITE artists of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

AS I said in my previous edition of AntiCurrent.com archives, I discovered William Elliott Whitmore organically by watching him open for The Pogues. Wishing to introduce more of people to him, on May 2nd 2009 I had a close-knit group of my nearest and dearest attend his show with me at The Knitting Factory (RIP) in Hollywood California without having yet exposed them to his music. The opening band, which we also discovered and quickly came to love was Los Duggans, a punk/metal/bluegrass hybrid band with an amazing standup washtub bass player.

By the time came for Whitmore to come on, we were all drunk. My friends were largely in the back at the bar and I was coming and going from the front row of people and them, presumably annoying everyone in between. 3 songs in I went to the back to refresh my drink and I found my best friend at the bar crying. Now, being a punk-rocker himself I assumed the worst. Someone had died, his girlfriend left him, his sister was in a car-crash, something. No. This badass of a dude was SO moved by the performance he was watching by an artist that he had never heard or heard of that he was literally shedding a tear due to William Elliott Whitmore's incredible performance. This is the time of sorrow, joy, happiness, and triumph that the dude can bring just by performing a few of his songs. I never have, and will likely never again see a performer who can illicit such an emotional reaction just by doing his job. It is truly incredible.

About 3/4 of the way through the performance, someone bought WEW an entire bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed it from an audience member, and being the eternal badass that he is, took a few swigs and said "share and share alike my friends" and passed it out into the audience for all of us to drink. I of course had a swig, but so did my friend at the time. She had never before, nor never again drank whiskey, but the emotional weight of the gesture caused her to drink it without thinking twice.

Fast forward to the end of the show and Whitmore has just went off stage. Like, he walked off stage into the audience and proceeded to shake every hand and meet every person that wished to do so. My drunken friend then decided that she desperately wanted to meet him so we approached. Although she was annihilated, and I was no shade of sober, he was incredibly gracious at our sloppy praise. We took a picture and she immediately went ill. He asked if she was ok just as she turned and vomited in the trashcan next to him. He laughed and said "Shit, we've all been there before." and shook my hand and left for the bar. We carried her to the car, got in and all recounted our miscellaneous stories about what an amazing dude this was.

Now, from my pieced together history of what William Elliott Whitmore's catalog was before he released his first real album "Hymns For The Hopeless" I believe that "The Jarrett Mitchell Demos" otherwise known as "Born in the USA" and also "Calendar Club of Danger and Fun" was the first of his self-released collections. This is debatable based on what I have read. HERE it states that this album is known as "CCoD&F", however on Wikipedia it states that these two albums are entirely separate. IF I am not mistaken, this first self-release was later followed up by "Legalize Freedom" (Which I previously released), and finally "The Death Valley Sessions" which was demo only available on his 2002-2003 tour. "The Death Valley Sessions" is the next of the AntiCurrent.com Archives that I will make available.

The personal highlight of this album for me is "Gravel Road". Now there are three available versions of this song, but this is the first and by far, most raw. Something about the lack of quality of recording and just a barely in-tune guitar and his growly amazing voice speaks to the very depths of my soul. Live this song is amazing as before he regales you with it, he will tell you the story of packing black-powder under a bowling ball and launching it like a cannon hundreds of feet into the air, only to find it on his property years later.

Somehow WEW turns a sub-par recording, one guitar, and his voice into what is one of the best demo collections of any artist of all time. As always, go and purchase his actual music, see him on tour, and meet the man himself. These releases are not meant to be the only material you take from the artists, but are intended to give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of some of the best talent that has ever been seen musically on this planet.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1: Grey Skies
2: Marrow
3: Livin' Like A King
4: South Lee County Brew
5: Gravel Road
6: On The Chin
7: The Prairie Yields
8: Diggin' My Grave
9: Going To The Moments
10: Black Iowa Dirt
11: Lift My Jug
12: Let's Call It A Night
13: Have Mercy
14: Red Buds
15: Shotgun
16: Never Forget

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Year Of Hell For a Life of Bliss (How We Dealt With A K1 Visa)

Well, today is the day. My baby finally fucking comes home to me. It's been a long, hard year and I couldn't have made it without my friends by my side. I owe a debt to each and every one of them that I can only hope to one day repay. They all got me through what was easily the roughest patch of my life.

Liv and I
What happened? My incredible life-mate went with only a bag of clothes to Sydney to visit her family at Christmas for two weeks, and was stuck there for an entire fucking year. Most people and most relationships could never weather a storm such as this, but we managed it. In a testament to how big of a badass this girl is, after initially (and completely reasonably) freaking out, she had a job and lodging within weeks of this horrid news. She is the hardest working, most talented, never-say-die person I have ever encountered in my life and will be proud to call her my wife in the coming months. 

For those of you who do not know, my fiancé took said vacation home for Christmas last year and was not allowed back in the country. To add to the kick-in-the-ass of this, I had just signed the lease on a house for us so that we no longer had to sleep in my buddies bedroom. This kept me from simply moving to Australia, which I assure you was my knee-jerk reaction. She was out here visiting on the ESTA Visa Waiver program, and our plan was for her to get visit family, get a Holiday B2 Visa and return to me in two weeks time. That never happened. She was denied the visa due to her having a boyfriend in the United States and them suspecting her of traveling over and potentially attempting to marry under false-pretenses. Basically, a bunch of fucking bullshit. Once flagged as "being denied" you are no longer allowed to travel abroad on the ESTA Visa Waiver, basically FORCING you to get some type of Visa if you are to ever reenter the country.

The consulate made their ruling on the fact that we were unprepared for her interview. So for those of you who may see yourself in this predicament, I will outline what we went through with as much clarity as I feel comfortable in doing. Our rationale was that since they denied us, we merely needed to make a stronger case in order to proceed. So she went to work on a plan to come and visit the US on an ACTUAL holiday. We bought her music-festival tickets, were going to take a planned cross-country trip, and it all had the benefit of being legit. Money was spent. However, her being denied once put us on a blacklist and they almost immediately denied her second attempt at the B2 Holiday Visa without so much as a look at her documents. Gotta fucking love America sometimes.

At this point we were fastly running out of options and we began to consider the K1 Fiance and K3 Marriage Visa (K3 isn't ACTUALLY the marriage visa, its a type of expediting a husband/wife into your country, the CR1 is the actual Visa). But this is a HUGE step for a couple and we decided we needed some time to consider it. During this time, we also decided that it would be in our relationships interest if we were to see each other (it had been 3 months up to this point). However, I had just got us a house to rent so I was flat broke. Once again, my amazing counter-part stepped up to the plate and bought me airfare to come and visit her.

On my first trip to Sydney
This was amazing of her, but the three week planned trip didn't allow me the time off work to still cover my bills in my absence from work. Thankfully I have some pretty kickass bosses and we worked out a deal: I was allowed to work extra hours to build vacation time to use during my absence. Throughout this year, I made 4 trips to Australia for at least two weeks at a time. When I wasn't there, doing a freelance gig, or on a movie-set, I was at my desk. Eating, breathing, sleeping, showering, at work. I would work until 2AM, catch a 3 hour nap, wake back up at 5, take a shower, and then guzzle 60 OZ's of coffee each and every day, seven days a week. I did this for an entire 9 months, living under my desk in order to be able to visit my love. This resulted in 6-8 weeks of absolute torture to my body, and occasionally my mind, followed by 2-3 weeks of vacation. I'm firmly convinced that the back and forth has aged me more this year than the last ten years of my life.

32 Page K1 Packet
So in late August I purposed to her and the day I returned from my trip, we filed for the K1 Fiance Visa. The entire packet was over 32 pieces of evidence and forms documenting who we are and every nook and cranny of our relationship. Ever the impatient one, the day we got out NOA1 (stating the government has received your request) I also filed ten additional pages for an expedite based on my money situation. I cannot and will not go into the entire criteria I used to get this expedite, but much of it was claiming a severe potential-financial loss due to my constant inability to be at work. This was true, if I was not at work, it stood to reason I might not be able to make money. It was also true that I was missing out on freelance gigs left and right out here due to the situation.

Many people get upset when you "clog" the system with expedites, after all, everyone wants to be first due to impatience. I suppose this is a valid concern, but here is my logic: Fuck 'em. In this kill or be killed world, I would not fault anyone doing anything they could to procure their significant-others happiness. If that means they beat me to the punch, then I should have tried harder, lobbied more, worked smarter, or just refused to say die. Survival of the fittest in every way, keep up or get left behind. Admittedly a cold way to be, but when the options are sink or swim, failure is no option.

I was checking out our CVC (California Visa Center) receipt number daily which allows you to track the process from submitted to accepted. 3 weeks later our expedite was approved (although looking back at historical averages for visas at the time we probably only saved 3-5 weeks) and we received out NOA2 (stating that the packet had been forwarded to the National Visa Center) about 2 days after. At this point we thought that we were on the fast track to getting the approval for the visa, however, due to issues within the government (I believe the Texas Visa Center had recently sent in an abmormal amount of approved visas to the NVC) we still had weeks to wait.

The NVC instructed me after the 5th time that I called them that I should wait 4 weeks to hear from them and they would tell me as to it's acceptance in their system. Basically the NVC just forwards out approved petitions to consulates throughout the world, but they do so in the order received and no preferential treatment is available. I had them SWEAR to me that they would email me the second it was approved. They told me that they had my email address on file and they would automatically email me when the visa was processed. Well... they didn't. Bastards. They caused me to sweat an entire extra week that our application had been lost so when I called on the third week they said, "Oh yeah, that was sent out a few days ago, we don't always email people when that happens". My recommendation? Call them twice a week regardless of whether they want you to or not. It can be VERY hard to get someone on the phone there, although it can be an hour wait at most times. Why press them? Because you NEED their assigned NVC number as soon as possible for the next step.

This pic personifies our relationship
Next up is the medical screening for the fiance. Now for most countries, there are 1-2 doctors that can perform this per major city and most of these doctors refuse to set up an appointment until you have your NVC number (due to this now being your MAJOR tracking number). The importance on getting then the NVC number is due to how few doctors VS how many applicants there are for the screenings. Wait times can be up to a month and in most cases you CANNOT schedule your final interview without having already passed it. Getting your NVC number to them as soon as it is assigned could shave weeks off of your appointment. Also, receptionists are one of the few human elements in this process. If you pester them enough, or give them a good enough reason, you may be able to bump up your appointment a few weeks if you are selective with your words.... we got ours within the week.

Once you have your medical screening finished, you book your final interview appointment. At some consulates, this can be expedited. At the Sydney consulate we were dealing with, this was next to impossible. We sent emails, faxes, and phone calls to attempt to expedite our appointment for valid reasons. However they didn't seem to even read our correspondence. They went ahead and booked the interview 3 weeks ahead, and two weeks into waiting finally responded to our request saying that we were already booked in the next possible appointment. Lovely, thanks guys....

Initial approval
Have a duplicate of absolutely everything you submitted throughout this entire process with you when you finally attend your date. For us this was about 60+ pages of documentation at this point. Be ready to be grilled about everything from what you will do as a vocation to what your significant-other will be wearing to the wedding. They honestly have to have and INCREDIBLY valid reason to turn you down at this point, so be comfortable with your truth and don't stress. Just answer their multitude of questions and you too will walk out with a little sheet of paper with your name scribbled on it saying you were approved. They will mail you out your visa the following week.

So that's it. An entire year of both our life's were completely put on pause in order to be with one another. The entire visa process took 4 months with expediting, a far cry from the typical 6-8 months. Did it suck? Fuck yes it did. At times we both went through bouts of depression, anxiety, paranoia, severe sleep-deprivation, etc. But it was worth it. We both now know how incredibly committed we are to each other, and have came out stringer as a result. I love this girl and am firmly convinced that no one in the world could have handled this ordeal with as much dignity and grace as she has. Today I am whole again.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Guaranteed Way to Get Around Local NHL (& Other Sports) Blackouts

I live in Los Angeles, work nights, and am an avid Anaheim Ducks fan. Due to the extreme hours that I keep at work, I am generally saddled behind a desk during damn near every NHL game. In addition to my normal job, when I'm not behind said desk I'm traveling around on shoots. This makes my ability of catching a Ducks game on a local broadcast nearly impossible. This also makes NHL Gamecenter an amazing alternative. For $20 a month, all games the NHL has to offer will be sent to the screen of my choice? I'm happy to pay to see my team, I'm not trying to cheat anyone... hell, sounds amazing! Well, amazing unless you happen to live next to the team you root for.

Being about 30 miles from Anaheim and living deep in Kings territory means that anything actually broadcast can't make it to me. However, I live so close that I still fall into the "local blackout zone" for the Anaheim Ducks. This makes it impossible for me to legally view a game without visiting a local bar that will allow a Ducks fan to watch a non-Kings game, a heavy task to say the least. This has forced my hand to view games at any cost... even if it is... well it's NOT illegal, but it's against certain BS "Terms and Conditions".

Enter Port-Forwarding. Port-Forwarding allows you to take your computers IP address (the service that tells the provider where your computer is physically connected) and push your signal to anywhere in the world. To put this in layman's terms, you could be sitting outside of the local sports arena and they would think you are coming from Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, etc. This tells your internet-sports provider that you are outside of the blackout zone and allows you to watch to your hearts desire.

http://hidemyass.com/Now there ARE port forwarding programs that are free. In my experience they work like shit. The interface is horrible, you get kicked off connections every few minutes, and the list of available connections is miniscule. I've dabbled with a few of the paid ones as well and they greatly vary in quality as well. The best of these, thus far, is a program called "Hide My Ass" or known by its kinder, gentler title, "HMA". For a $60 flat rate you can get 6 months of their kick-ass service, just enough to get you through your season. (This service can also be used to download things untraceably for those of you who are unscrupulous enough to do such things ;-) ) Additional uses for port-forwarding also allow you to browse different store-fronts to purchase material from places like I-Tunes or watch things on Netflix that haven't yet came out in your country.

Hola.org If you do INSIST on free port-forwarding, I have heard DECENT things about the Google Chrome Add-On "Hola Better Internet". Simply download it from Hola.org and install it into Chrome. I have had little time to mess with this program, but to me it appears slow and clunky. Connections don't last, speed is sluggish, and it is based on ad-generated revenue which I find fucking annoying. Take my advice, spend the money and purchase an actual service.

So there you go, just connect to HMA, open up your normal web-browser, and the program will forward your signal to anywhere you desire. As of now, I have not had any trouble with GameCenter "Locking me out". I assume that not only do they monitor where your signal is coming from, but they probably keep a log of it. If they so desired, they COULD lock you out if your connections are "suspicious". So perhaps its better to always log on to one location. Just food for thought....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 6: William Elliott Whitmore- Legalize Freedom Demos

For the sixth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the first of three collections of demos for one of my FAVORITE artists of all time.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

There are only a few select bands that I have ever discovered organically. I define that term "organically" as coming across music you have never heard nor been shown by your friends, but that you actually discover in its native environment. It's like they did back in the day, you show up to a gig for a certain type of music, and you experience it for the first time in the real world, rather than via the internet or word of mouth. William Elliott Whitmore is the best example of this for me.

I went to a Pogues show in Anaheim on October 28th of 2007 and the beginning act wasn't stellar, I had expected quite a punch from anyone opening for the Pogues and that band (I shall not name) did NOT deliver. So I sat in the back, ordered a drink at the bar and was prepared to be disappointed when the next guy went on, some dude with just a banjo. Before the end of the first song I was in front of the pit watching this guy work and yes, it was WEW. After what was easily one of the top 10 performances I have ever seen in my life, I ran back, ordered another drink and approached his merch table (of which he was splitting with the other said band). Unfortunately he only had a few pins so I purchased those immediately and went and watched the Pogues knock it out of the park. When I got home, I went straight to the internet, got on some file sharing site, and downloaded everything I could find of WEW.

I have since seen him live 8 times (Hell, I even made it plan a trip to Australia once and see him), and since I have 3 albums of his demos I am planning on releasing here, I will relive one of those amazing stories in each of the coming WEW AntiCurrent.com Archives I publish. Go and see this man. Purchase his actual albums. Buy him a shot of whiskey and give it to him on stage (he will drink it, trust me) Purchase his merch. After you do this, walk up to him after the show and thank him. The dude is salt-of-the-earth and is one of the most grateful people I have ever met. I have seen him 8 times, I have shook his hand 8 times.

Not much is known about Whitmore's demo albums (at least not that I've found) but the next time I see him, I will ask him and post the results here. I believe this to be the first... I'll let you investigate this album yourself as I believe most of his music begs, but I will leave you with this: "Legalize Freedom" has what is one of my top songs he has ever done. "Trespassers Will Be Eaten" is fucking genius. A slow melt banjo jam that explodes into energy, coupled with aggressive lyrics talking cruel threats to anyone that approaches a man's property without authorization. I love this track and it summarizes everything about his amazing presence perfectly.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1: Old 49
2: Trespassers Will Be Eaten
3: Forgive me
4: Diamond In Your Pocket
5: Lonely Walk
6: Run Johnny Run
7: Shogun
8: Whatll You Do
9: Oh Susanna
10:  One Glass At a Time
11: Evening