The Spirit of America

I must say I’m not a fan of America these days – For me Donald Trump has contaminated the “brand” with his mean-spirited attitudes towards building a wall, threatening wars, rolling back progress on environmental stewardship and so on.  It is a perversion of the notion of MAGA (Making America Great Again) and the whole genre of fake news … but one must never generalise, and the magazine US of America supports and celebrates the values that make America a great nation. Contemporary yet nostalgic, presenting stories from across the cultural landscape of the USA. From Alabama to Wyoming, the magazine shine a light on every US state, showcasing the weird and wonderful of everyday American life.

The 2nd edition is just out. Here the editor in chief Nicole Nodland explains what’s in store:

Our cover star Dua Lipa discusses the importance of using your voice to affect change and break boundaries. Bruce Gilden captures the resilience of the people of Detroit, while Lucas Foglia presents an utopian-like image of the prisoners of Riker’s Island. From Larry Fink’s photos at the Women’s March to Alec Soth’s reflective series on the recent election, we capture the beauty of a collective spirit in times of uncertainty.

Minnesota is this issue’s special focus. Visit the land of 10,000 lakes with us as we look at the state’s lesser known stories and pay tribute to its most famous resident, Prince. It’s just over a year since Prince left Planet Earth and his loss to the world still leaves a huge vacuum. Featuring an exclusive interview with Mayte Garcia, a feature on Ida Neilsen, his bass anchor for 6 years and a piece on the musicology of a genius.

We go bicoastal to look at California cults and Brooklyn Biker gangs. And back in time with 70’s photos of Hollywood Boulevard and the NY subway system.

Catch up with Giancarlo Esposito, Mayte Garcia, Ida Nielsen, and Amber Mark to find out about their upcoming projects. And spend time in LA’s Inglewood neighbourhood with rising stars Ill Camille, Daniel Farris, Davion Farris, Tay Walker, Kenyon Dixon, and Jeff Bernat.

Grab your copy of Us of America now.  In the meantime, here is my tribute to Prince recorded just a year ago with Meatloaf’s singing partner from “I would do anything for love” Lorraine Crosby, recorded without practice or soundcheck, so there are a few ongoing adjustments to live guitar sound levels in the first few seconds.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.  Author of 7.5 Books.

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Catch The Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore … then

I made a rare pilgrimage to the O2 Arena last night to see a life long hero, Mr Ritchie Blackmore.  I say a rare pilgrimage, as I find the sound and vision at the O2 to be generally appalling and I was not disappointed at this concert.  O2 have previously caused my son untold problems over their legendarily bad administration and I freely admit that I therefore have a grudge – see O2 OMG.  That aside, I find the acoustics and size of the O2 quite inconsistent with a live band experience and had previously vowed never to go again after seeing Prince there in 2007.  In this case I felt I had no choice, so I got on my bike and cycled 30 miles for the experience and am overall pleased I went to see a man who remains a major influence on my approach to music and, indeed, my overall attitude to life.

But all is not lost – thanks to the generosity of a fellow traveller we have some better quality sound and visuals from the front of stage. See Rainbow Rising at the O2. But I want to move on to a story, as Ritchie Blackmore was influential in helping me secure my first job offer at Shell ….

Rainbow Rising

I went to a Grammar School, essentially a factory for Oxbridge students.  But I did not want to go to university. My parents were 45 and 67 when I was born and were not especially affluent – my dad was 85 by the time I was 18 and I felt I needed to get a job rather than go to University although there was no pressure from them to do so. Of course, I was completely ostracised by the Grammar School for making such a decision. The so-called “careers master” (also the gym teacher) said “well, laddy, tell me when you have got a job” when I told him I did not want to go to University. So I set about looking for one  …

I was mad about Chemistry and Music as a child. So I applied to the two major employers in the area – Shell and The Wellcome Foundation. I was invited to an entire day of interviews at Shell (who were noted for extremely progressive employment policies at that time). Looking back at the day I was sat before PhD after PhD, who showed me complex chemical reactions on a chalk board and asked how I would solve their greatest problems. Needless to say I doubt I answered any of the questions correctly! When asked about my interests, I recall boring them endlessly about Ritchie Blackmore’s use of medieval “modal scales” as a differentiator in Deep Purple’s music and the 16th Century in general.  In other words, I bored them with my obsession and they theirs. I used to spend hours at the top of the stairs with my record player slowed down to 16 RPM trying to figure out what he was playing … until my mum shouted me to come down and eat my fishfinger sandwiches …

Modal scales and Fish Fingers – the breakfast of champions …

To my surprise I was offered a job at Shell, having bored them rigid with my music obsession and not really been able to operate as a PhD chemist with an A Level, although I eventually took the one at Wellcome (another story). I suspect that they felt my passion for the music and nerdiness. They must have given me the benefit of the doubt that I could actually do the work. Thank goodness that there were no HR people in sight.

Richie Blackmore … now

Back to the concert. For me, Blackmore’s guitar style has matured over the years, with rather more Bach that Screaming Lord Sutch about his performance these days. Many more melodic classical progressions inspired by his love of classical music, rather less random improvisation and brutality. The sound, as I said, was hampered by the size of the venue, which is why I’m so grateful to the man at the front who filmed it. I think The O2 would have helped themselves by training three cameras on the stage and back projecting the results on the screen to give those far away at least some opportunity to see the action, especially given the quality of the visuals for the show. You can find the set list and many of the performances at Rainbow Rising at the O2. A great highlight of the show was “Soldier of Fortune” played on acoustic guitar, although marred by whoops and shouting from the crowd. An added bonus was to see The Sweet, a band who were strongly influenced by Blackmore when they were playing their own songs such as “Sweet FA.” with a wink and a nod to “Hard Lovin’ Man” by Deep Purple. Lest we forget the majesty of Mr Blackmore:

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Peter Cook is  a business speaker who blends deep insights on strategy, innovation and business creativity with parallel lessons from music. An author of 7 1/2 books on business. Read his article on Deep Purple and Improvisation and more on Ritchie Blackmore at The Music of Business and Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll.

 

Censorship and Music

The latest piece of music to cause controversy and censorship is not a piece about sexual proclivity, drug abuse or one with parental advisory lyrics … merely one that discusses the issue of Post Truth Politics … Have we reached an all time low in participation and democracy when this happens? The BBC claims that it no longer bans any records but seems to have made an exception in this case. Perhaps it was told to?

Buy your copy of LIAR LIAR to highlight the folly of this strategy.  The East Germans and Russians were notable examples of  Governments that sought to control music in pursuit of a totalitarian state. All proceeds go towards food banks in the UK, now part of our “advanced society”.

Click to buy on iTunes

In case you have not heard the song, check out the You Tube video and then buy the track on iTunes, Google Play and so on. Support our campaign to improve our democracy and release us from self-harming Brexit at “Stop Hardcore Brexit

Famous songs that have fallen prey to censorship include Lola by the Kinks, School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and more curiously With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock by George Formby which was censored. Banning is almost a surefire guarantee of a song’s popularity and one wonders at the wisdom of such things in an internet age.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

A Bowie Tribute

Very short notice for this Bowie Tribute on Monday 29 May … here’s the press release for the event

Brexit Oddity

Painting by Jane Raggett

Ground Control to Theresa May, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong?

David Bowie may have sung ‘Rebel Rebel’, but he could not have possibly have foreseen the impact that his music made on generations young and old. On Monday 29 May 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm, The No 10 Vigil, visit the Thin White Duke’s mural in Brixton for a tribute to The Man who Sold the World and a protest about The Woman who is Selling England by the Pound. Diane Datson, leader of the No 10 Vigil said:

“David Bowie came from my home town of Bromley. He was a great humanist and an earthling. The No 10 Vigil stands for a return of humanity to planet earth and a rejection of the self-harming strategy of Theresa May. Simply stated, we are here to Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain. In Bowie’s own words, we believe that Brexit is the work of ‘All the Madmen’ and we stand to educate people about Brexit Mayhem”.

The Bowie tribute is the brainchild of Peter Cook, leader of The Academy of Rock, an author, business speaker and musician who was crushed by the loss of Bowie, Prince and George Michael in 2016 amongst too many others.  He appeared on CNN the day that Bowie died, discussing the work of this great innovator and chameleon in music:

“David Bowie stood alongside Prince and George Michael as a great communicator and gamechanger, reaching people’s heads, hearts and souls. It was an impossible task to showcase Bowie’s huge canon of work across nearly 50 years. I was haunted by the last track on Bowie’s last album ‘I can’t give everything away’. Whilst the lyric seems to reflect on his passing, I cannot help but draw a comparison with everything we are about to throw away if we vote for hardcore Brexit on June 8th. In the words of Joni Mitchell You don’t know what you got till it’s gone”

Click to view CNN interview

Peter has performed with cult punk rocker John Otway, Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Bernie Tormé Meatloaf’s singing partner Patti Russo and had a rock band with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee Member at the Bank of England. He leads the musical direction of the No 10 Downing Street Vigil, which highlights concerns over Brexit at any cost to Leavers and Remoaners alike. Our work is featured on BBC Sunday Politics, The One Show, Breitbart, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Independent and The Guardian.

Smeared by Breitbart … The No 10 Vigil

What Conservatives think about Brexit

This is a resignation speech from young Conservative member of the peerage Edmund Limerick, who is leaving the party due to his concerns about Brexit. It expresses well the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Ethical, Environmental) factors upon which big decisions should be made, rather than reducing them to snappy populist slogans. Please back our plan to tour the UK to engage in a meaningful dialogue with people across the political spectrum on our forthcoming General Election.

Lords save us

Dear David,

Please take this email as notice of my resignation from the ACP [Association of Conservative Peers] and the Conservative Party.

I was recently advised that the three qualities required for a prospective Tory peer were experience, hard work and loyalty.

A year ago loyalty meant commitment to remaining in the EU. Now it apparently means commitment to leaving the EU Customs Union. I cannot be loyal to this unmandated and suicidal policy.

I remain convinced that a hard Brexit is the greatest mistake this country can ever make, and one which will haunt us for generations to come. We have spent over 40 years building a common market with our EU partners and although the work is far from complete, it has resulted in remarkable economic and political success for the UK and Europe as whole, acting as a magnet first for southern nations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece to transition from dictatorship to democracy, then for the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe to join the club, all of them with strong British encouragement. The large EU country which has benefited most of all is arguably the UK. Our free trade traditions, English language, natural borders and retention of our own currency have given us all the benefits and few of the costs of membership. Notably we have largely escaped the effects from mass immigration from North Africa which are so afflicting southern Europe at present. It makes our present obsession with immigration look petty and selfish, against a backdrop of real misery and crisis in the Middle East and Africa and along its EU borders.

Economically we have benefited from becoming the international gateway for foreign investment into Europe. Margaret Thatcher made huge efforts to attract the likes of Honda and Nissan to the UK, turning us over 30 years from the sick man of Europe into one of its leading car exporters. Bankers may not be popular, but the City of London has created great wealth for the south east, and it also contributes at least 11% of the country’s tax income and enables the UK to run a current account deficit and public services it would not otherwise be able to afford.

I acknowledge the result of last year’s referendum but I fundamentally disagree that a 52% protest vote, a vote denied to EU nationals living in the UK, gives the government a mandate to do anything more than to negotiate exit terms with the EU and then report back to Parliament and the country as a whole for a further vote once it becomes clear what Brexit really means.

What will it mean? It is delusional to think that the EU under its reinvigorated Macron-Merkel Franco-German leadership will do anything other than defend the EU’s own interests, foremost of which is a demonstration that leaving the EU is a costly and disastrous mistake. Juncker was right: the EU will act to ensure that the UK is punished. And they’ll gladly pick up our financial services industry and our other exporting industries rendered uneconomic by the risk of future tariffs. There is simply no way that any possible deal with the EU will be better than the one we have just torn up.

The results of hard Brexit or no deal (the most probable outcome considering it took the EU and Canada 8 years to agree a marriage, let alone a divorce and then a new relationship) once the Article 50 two years have expired will include inflation, a rise in the cost of living, collapse of foreign investment, significant job losses not only in the City but across the country, a loss of international influence, and quite likely the secession of Scotland (if the English can ’have their country back’ why should they not too?) and Northern Ireland, which will not be happy about the reimposition of customs and immigration controls along its border with the Republic, which will have better living standards to boot.

The United Kingdom will no longer be united. Great Britain will no longer be great. Little Englanders will have got what they wanted: little england. I predict considerable public anger, especially amongst the young who voted overwhelmingly to remain and whose futures are being so casually squandered.

And what will this new England be like? Our negotiating power will be feeble. A free trade agreement with China which still has political prisoners and slave labour will flood us with cheap imports and do nothing for protection of UK jobs and standards. A free trade agreement with a protectionist USA will flood us with subsidised food products that would also not meet current UK or EU standards. We shall likely see 30 mile queues towards the Channel Ports as the French reimpose customs inspections in Calais. Apart from fishermen (the only Brexiteers whose views I respect) no-one will be better off.

If you have bothered to read this far I thank you humbly for your patience and urge you to use your position within a party that looks set to gain a substantial Commons majority to back the voice of common sense and reason, no matter what the pressure from the Whips. Unless there is a crisis resulting in a new general election it seems that the focus of debate will move to within the Tory party.

As for me, I am joining the Lib Dems in the hope that a grand coalition of the sensible, moderate, non Europhobic and non suicidal public might be created out of the hitherto silent ranks of sensible Tories and sensible Labour supporters who are neither hard Brexiteers nor Corbynistas. We may yet see the creation of a new centre party. For now the Brexit tail is wagging the Tory dog, and I am bowing out.

Sincerely,

Edmund Limerick

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Please support our UK wide tour to restore informed dialogue to our country. Currently calling at:

HOVE / LEWES – SAT 20 May

BATH / BRISTOL / SWINDON – SUN 28 May  or 04 June – As Part of The Bath Festival

IPSWICH – MON 29 May – Beach Baby Party and “GE / Brexit Live Jam Session”

YORK – FRI 2 June – We go head to head with BBC’s “Any Questions” !!

With more dates possible in between these ones. Contact me to organise an event. We live stream the events for maximum reach and impact across the planet.

Mantras obscure the truth

The House of Lords’ Prayer – A parody which we use on Downing Street Vigils to point out the folly of Brexit

 

Brexit Election Fever

Go Fund Me to make June the end of May

We live in disruptive times and who would have predicted a snap General Election after Premier May had stated there would not be one? It’s a good time for her to do this as Labour is depleted of followers and funds. The Lib Dems face the same shortage of cash. UKIP are in disarray. So it’s the perfect time for her to call a snap election if things stay the same as they are ….

… Except they might not … Disruption begets disruption and many of the events we have faced since Brexit have been unpredictable – who would have thought we would threaten to go to war with Spain if we do not get our own way in negotiations? Who would have thought that the European Union would undertake a “dirty trick” such as making their position on negotiations completely open and transparent?  Who would have thought that the election would be used as a means to close down discussion on meeting our environmental commitments?  And so on

Today I’m meeting with Open Britain and others from The European Movement to discuss our tour of the UK to change the course of the General Election.  Please support me. This is a vital business and personal issue for all of us and, most importantly, our children. We did not vote for self-destructive Brexit and the game has changed compared with what we were sold.  I know many people are weary of electioneering and politics, but let’s not have “buyers remorse” over Brexit.

Click to Go Fund Me

I’m doing my part to create MayHem with the “Strong and UnStable” Leadership of Theresa May’s Government with the aim of seriously leavening or reducing their majority. I’m doing this so that a more considered debate may be held on our self-harming Brexit for the sake of our children, rather than just to be bloody minded or a saboteur, as I have been accused of being by some. This included being punched in the face by one angry young Brexiteer and threatened by another sad old musician. I myself wanted EU reform and thought that the best way to achieve this was to be at the negotiating table as a full member. You cannot negotiate with a club once you have left it !!

Some ask me, are you not part of an elite, a Guardian Reader or a snowflake Liberal Democrat? Politically, if you cut me in half (as some would like to do ! :-), you would find blue, gold, green and red blood running through my veins. I don’t seek to depose Theresa May because of her Conservatism, more to leaven her desire to force through a self-harming Brexit in the wake of a complete lack of an effective opposition.

We plan to deliver a series of grassroots events that will inspire, consult and engage all people with the intention to change voter behaviour. The core of this will be a “People’s Question Time” backed up with some superb non-partisan facilitation and support for tired remainers and floating leavers. Please take a look at our fundraiser and support / share the project if you feel able.

Click the image to make June the end of May ….

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • Network the concept with key opinion formers to help with funding, infrastructure and so on.
  • Ask corporate decision makers for financial backing – We accept contributions from £10K upwards.
  • Contribute directly to the Go Fund Me initiative.  We have had donations from £20 to £100.

A C Grayling – One of our supporters

We are also looking for direct sponsorship from businesses, political figures and individuals – please see our Slideshare deck on the topic:

We plan to collaborate with Liz Webster who runs Flock Brexit, a group seeking securely define EU citizenship for all Europeans (including British) to ensure our rights and freedoms are not stripped or curtailed by any nation state withdrawing from EU. In doing so to halt the progress of Brexit. All people from 28 member states are equal in EU law and united as EU citizens, which affords huge privileges. Brexit (or any other exit) potentially damages all EU citizens. Flock Brexit’s objective is to ensure EU citizenship becomes teflon coated to ensure we are EU citizenship can’t be removed or altered.

Come join us and let’s BREAK BREXIT BEFORE BREXIT BREAKS BRITAIN.  To finish, here’s a video of our musical antics opposite No 10 Downing Street, where we have had celebrities, MP’s, the BBC and Breitbart in attendance or reporting on our acts as “saboteurs” 🙂 If you want to join us please connect with the No 10 Vigil on Facebook. We have a lot of fun and our message is getting through to the parts that matter, including Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier last week.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

The Sting

I was quite unprepared to see Sting in concert last night and overwhelmed by his superb musicianship, performance and width of his musical canon. I confess I had quite forgotten Gordon Sumner’s songwriting skills.  At the age of 66 his voice, playing and projection were in top form, giving all of us hope that age is no barrier to peak performance.

Perhaps the most poignant thing that connects me to Sting and his music is his solid values of human rights, environmental consciousness and sustainability. I was reminded of this through his lyrics and reconnected to my work for Amnesty International which started in the early 1980’s and which he epitomised through his song “They Dance Alone”. Sadly, Sting’s words remain relevant in these troubled times and I hope that our world leaders listen to him and others at such moments:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You’ve sown a bitter crop
It’s foreign money that supports you
One day the money’s going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancin’ with her invisible son

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

And especially his song for the Mothers of the Disappeared (Desaparecidos). This was Sting’s symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 … on first hearing this song many years ago, I wept uncontrollably about the unimaginable grief and strength of these mothers. There are no words that adequately convey the meaning of his song so I will let the song do the work itself:

We live once more in troubled times and it seems that our human race is about to forget its humanity. Our ability to learn from history seems limited. Watch the video, conduct your own research into what lies behind the concert that Sting gave and take action for a more humane society …

To finish, here are a few excerpts from Sting’s recent tour including tributes to David Bowie from his son and Prince – I was privileged to attend this. Big thanks to Debbie Poli, MD of Lapel Pin Badges for this opportunity. Debbie makes all the badges that I wear, including orders for the last David Bowie album, Virgin, Star Wars and my very special Prince love symbol badge.

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.