In the beginning, our film project VODKA ROCKS! was criticized for its seemingly open support of vodka and alcohol. This was never our intention- our film is about the marketing and promotion behind the vodka, not the vodka itself. Nevertheless, we understood that people might get the wrong message from our film title, and so to prove this we set out to create an entirely new product: The world’s first 0% alcohol vodka!
Yes, that’s right- made from wheat and a special distillation process, we were able to capture the smooth taste of fine Vodka and deliver it to you without the hangover. Sure, non-alcoholic Vodka might at first seem counter-productive, but take a second to think about it. Think about the designated driver, who’s kind enough to offer you a ride back home but doesn’t want to stand in the corner watching you drink. The ex-alcoholic, who wants to stay away from alcohol while still being social. The pregnant woman craving the taste of a nice cold mixed drink. The partygoer who might have had to take medication before going out, but who doesn’t want to miss out on the activities. The religious man or woman, who doesn’t drink, but doesn’t let that get in the way of joining their friends. With our VODKA ROCKS! brand vodka, everyone can enjoy the party without feeling left out.
Last weekend, our brand ambassadors took to the streets of New York City to see what the public had to say. Unsurprisingly, we received raving reviews! Commuters were happy to take a shot on their way to work, knowing that it would not affect their performance. Groups of friends and families were thrilled that they could enjoy the drink so openly- and legally- on the street. Almost everybody commented on the smooth quality and subtle flavors of the drink, and some even enjoyed it so much that they demanded seconds!
This whole family loved VODKA ROCKS!
Another satisfied customer!
Even the police wanted to try it!
The VODKA ROCKS! Film is not about our 0% alcohol vodka product. It is about products in general, about advertising and marketing a brand to the fullest. And that’s precisely what we’re doing here: making our brand, and backing it up 100%! We believe that you have the right to choose what you drink, and the right to join your friends no matter what your beliefs, age, or physical condition might be. Buy what you believe in, and always defend your brand- in doing so you are defending your beliefs and your freedom!
– VODKA ROCKS!
** Catch us in Williamsburg this weekend at the Brooklyn Flea and get you own free sample of Vodka Rocks! Who can say “No” to a free shot?
We’ve been hard at work here, and with every day that passes, VODKA ROCKS! gets closer and closer to its release. John Rubino and Mahsooma Abbas had a blast putting the finishing touches on the trailer for the film, and we are excited to say that it can now be seen online. Join us soon as we finally release the full film for online streaming across the globe! We are excited to make the film available globally, as we believe it has an international appeal – there’s something in it for everyone! It’s time for Vodka Rocks! to meet its audience, which we have discovered is diverse in terms of age, origins and political leanings.
In the meantime, we’re still spreading the word about our film and trying to reach everyone who hasn’t heard yet. This Saturday we will be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn telling people about our film and giving away some free samples of our trademark “alcohol-free Vodka.” If you’re in the area and would like to find out more about the film, or would like to try the smoothest vodka you’ll ever have (and without the risk of a hangover!) we’d love to have you come stop by. We’ll be there all afternoon.
We will keep you updated on the release of the film for online streaming, but for now sit back, relax, and enjoy the trailer!
So, it’s finally here! The video that you all have been waiting for eagerly. The video that unveils the man behind the boot. The video that talks candidly to our our next presidential candidate. The video that will make you laugh, cry and uncomfortable at times. The video called “VERMIN SUPREME UNVEILED” premieres today! Check out the link below!
Link to “VERMIN SUPREME UNVEILED”
We were surprised that Vermin was such a gentleman, we thought he might be full of himself, as performers often are, but that wasn’t the case at all! He’s truly fun and funny, and real. He told us he lives in a small primitive cabin in the woods which helps him reconvene after his madcap brushes with police, politicians, and the audience. He endeared himself to everyone that evening, including the audience, the crew, and Jalopy staff. All without having to rely on the usual politician-esq lies and fake smiles. He’s also intelligent, articulate and educated… something that doesn’t always come across in his clowning! He knows what he’s doing. He really hopes for America to get better, without personal gain. In short, he’s exactly what politicians should be, and never are.
Vermin Supreme attended the Vodka Rocks! expanded screening experience as a panelist to take part in the discussion about actitainment (entertainment and activism– for those of you who STILL don’t know) at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. What followed was a heated discussion and a candid interview on who Vermin Supreme is and what it is that he does. Check out the video below and pass it along to your friends to see Mr. Supreme in all his glory! The entire panel discussion video will be coming soon! So, stay tuned!
Hail to the next president of the United States of America! Vermin Supreme graced us with his presence at our “actitainment” panel for the second “Vodka Rocks!” event at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. And let me tell you, it was awesome! He made a grand entrance to Hail to the Chief with his toy pony in hand and the crowd went wild!
Vermin was very candid and very eloquent about his personal politics, his image in the media, and real change in the government. He opened up to us and was the most out of character we had ever seen him! People think they know Vermin, but we KNOW we know Vermin and if you had joined us on that amazing night, well you could have gotten to know him too. Don’t sweat! We’ll still fill you in because we are cool like that 🙂
“My fans spread the political spectrum from far left to far right. They do not all agree with my personal politics, but they appreciate the fact that I am presenting this critique of politics in the electoral system”, Vermin said during the event. He is fully aware of how is perceived in the political arena, but he knows it’s necessary for someone to do what he does, so the people can know the real issues at hand. Of course, what it is that he does is up for discussion– and he knows that too. That’s what much of the discussion was about: humor in relation to politics and using it as a platform to bring about real change.
It was an amazing and successful night with all our panelists. We had Divad Durant and Keil Troisi who work with the Yes Men, Della Dare, aptly named as a burlesque performer, John Rubino, writer/ director of Vodka Rocks! (duh) and Vermin Supreme! Now, you might think, ‘wow those speakers are so different from another.’ Yes, and no. They all have entertainment and activism in common and the guts to do more damage to the government and bring a smile to our faces that you and I can.
It was a fun night filled with vodka and Twitter competitions, Q&A session with the panelists, mingling with Vermin and, of course, a screening of the film Vodka Rocks!
Keep an eye out for an exclusive video of the event titled “Vermin Supreme Unveiled” coming soon! You’ll find out what makes Vermin tick and what he really thinks of Randall Terry! I know you’re getting excited as you read, so don’t calm down! We love excitement… especially for actitainment!
One of the ponies promised by Vermin to us citizens
Hail to the next president of the United States of America! Vermin Supreme will be joining us to share his words of wisdom and thoughts on “actitainment” on April 24th at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn! For those of you who have never heard of this word and find yourself scratching your head with a blank expression, well, “actitainment” is a combination of activism and entertainment. And who better embodies “actitainment” than Vermin Supreme?
Vermin Supreme has been running for president for a couple of decades now and he gets more and more popular each year. So, if you find yourself with a free pony after the next presidential election, don’t be surprised. And that’s not all! A pony is the least of your perks with Vermin as your new president. The self proclaimed “friendly fascist” will establish dental hygiene laws and zombie awareness. The biggest threat our country faces today is not Iraq, or North Korea, or terrorists, or Brits, it’s gingivitis and the undead! And Vermin is going to declare war on them. He is also going to fund time travel research because, let’s face it, we all want to go back in time, smack Hitler in the face, see how the universe began, stop Osama, and meet a dinosaur or two. And then, don’t deny it, we want to go back to the future and meet our future selves to make sure we don’t end up as losers. Vermin will make sure that happen for us! For you!
On April 24th at the Jalopy Theater, we will engage Vermin in a heated discussion about the movement of activism and entertainment, how it came about, his opinions about it, who it targets, and how it affects him. Other panelists at the event will share their actitainment wisdom. Along with the panel discussion, there will be a social media and vodka competition with awesome prizes! It will be a glorious night, I promise. Tickets will go on sale shortly and I will send more info about that as soon as I can (once I get over the fact I will get to see Vermin Supreme at his best). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates regarding this and other events. Check out the links below for more info on Vermin and his policies and the Jalopy Theater! http://www.verminsupreme.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermin_Supreme
The VODKA & GRASS event was as fun as it sounds. Funnily enough, the (FREE!) vodka tasting competition was a hit, God know why. GRASS played their brand of awesome, psychedelic, jazzy ska to a rocking mix of cool Brooklynites, and even Manhattanites (yep, for real, in Red Hook).
Twitter competition was won by unanimous agreement for the following tweet (had to be on the model: Vodka-Rocks, but ……… rocks more) by out of the box creative genius Ramon Urenia: “Nurse wearing only socks. Knocking up goldilocks. Owning all the ships on these docks. Better than #vodka-rocks Rock steady #jalopy hip hoppy”.
We apologise for the technological issues with the screening, because projecting a big HD file is a wife of a dog, particularly in a space that is primarily designed for music.
Thanks all for coming, whether Kickstarter contributors, friends, supporters, Russian spies, fans. Let your friends know. Next event is April 24, at Jalopy, theme: ACTITAINMENT.
Don’t know what actitainment is? Stay tuned for more.
GRASS is playing Tue March 20 before the Kickstarter screening of Vodka Rocks! at Jalopy. Why? Because Michael Blake who plays tenor sax with GRASS is the composer of the movie’s score. Because they rock. Check below. (to buy tickets, go here: www.vodka-rocks.com)
Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society: Grass on Fire
June 28th 2011, by Tobias Fischer Enjoyable time travel: An unexpectedly political jazz version of a classic.
One of science-fiction’s most popular themes is time travel being a pain in the butt and those embarking on it not being able to rewrite the past. It hasn’t stopped legions of musicians and record companies from trying. Today, the market is saturated with tribute-albums, cover-compilations and remix-samplers, with definitive, historical and ultimate editions. While one would expect a certain hesitation with regards to the established canon, quite the opposite has been true: The bigger the legend, the bigger the temptation for re-interpretation. Ironically, this flood of re-recordings has only served to fortify the supremacy of the original in the public’s mind and made the task of entering into a dialogue with the „masters“ seem all the more daunting. If the Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society should therefore follow up their debut with a fresh arrangement of The Wailer’s Catch a Fire, the move is not only bound to draw attention, but to provoke as well. Catch a Fire wasn’t just The Wailer’s international debut, after all, it was also the album which ultimately established reggae as a marketable genre, officially put Jamaica on the musical map and laid the first stone in the foundation of the Bob Marley legend. One can virtually see the keepers of the tradition fume with indignation at the prospect of seeing it infused with jazz: Who do these people think they are?
The answer is strikingly simple: Some of the most exciting and refreshingly wilful minds of the Brooklyn improvisation scene. An eleven-headed hydra pitting a classic line-up of horns and keys against the rhythm section of a reggae group, Gowanus are not so much a supergroup but a tightly-knit ensemble of formidable instrumentalists putting their creative talents entirely at the service of the collective. It is telling that the formation are not, as was the case on equally ambitious Pink-Floyd-project Dub Side of the Moon, a one-off, but a band which have organically grown, already recorded a widely applauded debut and whose members all regard this as anything but a mere side-or pet-project. With a shared interest in the culture of Jamaica and the roots of American music, be it folk, rock n roll, jazz, classical or contemporary composition, they were bound to stumble upon parallels and points of contact and improvisation simply proved to be their preferred language for defining their questions and exchanging their thoughts. If the band now speak about the need to take these lines of development and cross-continental influences into account in order to „understand“ any of these genres, then this is not a question of academic study. Rather, it is the result of hundreds of hours spent exploring – with as much intuition as insight – what works and what doesn’t: Performance practise and the pure fun of playing together are at the heart of Grass on Fire.
Of course, no one would seriously doubt the existence of these historical ties. Whether or not, as has been claimed, the entire Jamaican music industry owes its existence to the mass-scale importing of swing records in the 30s and 40s is debatable. Nor should the existence of external role models devalue or deny the unique contribution the tiny island and its tirelessly inventive three million inhabitants have made to global music culture in the 20th century. But it can be stated with absolute certainty that the development of ska has equally drawn from developments in the USA in a variety of ways. Even to the uninitiated, the prominent position of the horn section in both genres as well as the incisive role of the walking bass, which would ultimately be fetishised to near-ridiculous proportions in dub, clearly demonstrate the proximity of these approaches. Singer Joe Higgs, meanwhile, whose political stance eventually made him move into self-imposed exile, once referred to himself as „the jazz connection for Jamaican music“ and sought inspiration for his vocal lines in the phrasings of jazz instrumentalists. It is a result of market tactics, medial segmentation and changing social implications, as a part of which jazz increasingly came to be regarded as the new world’s classical music and reggae as a dreamy backdrop to splif culture, that the link was severed.
This, of course, is were Catch a Fire comes into play. Gowanus have certainly not chosen the album accidentally or out of a mere love for the music – although the latter will doubtlessly have played a part. After all, by the time it was released, The Wailers already had already been playing together for a decade, with four full-lengths to their credit. And yet, their fame remained firmly restricted to Jamaica, where their angry, rebellious lyrics and the unprecedented blend of raw intensity and melodic sweetness had elevated them to superstar-status. Their contract with Island Records led to their international breakthrough, which in turn unleashed a cascade of at first seemingly minuscule events eventually growing into an avalanche. The subversive potential of reggae would infiltrate punk and dance and later allow for the more subtle integration of dub into a variety of electronic music niches, while Bob Marley’s charisma and political outspokenness would turn him into an icon. But at the same time, its success effectively ended reggae’s ability for change – having arrived in the mainstream, its message was now entertainment, it street-fighting-anthems played on breakfast radio. Perhaps that is why performing these songs without lyrics is actually making them seem more political, not less.
In a sense, one could say that Gowanus’ approach goes back to a time before the original album was released, to the spirit when these pieces were still about concrete grievances rather than vague universal sentiments. The immediacy and emotional poignancy of the original Jamaican version of Catch a Fire (re-released as, you guessed it, a Deluxe edition in 2009) may have been more of a blueprint here than the more richly produced European „classic“. Most of all, however, this really is their own version. Rather than blindly following the track listing of the original, they have tweaked and adjusted it to their own aims. And instead of copying The Wailers’ arrangements, each and every song contained on their interpretation has been awarded its unique form. At times, it may constitute a template and springboard for extensive soloing, as with arguably the biggest hit of the collection, „Stir it Up“, on which the ensemble just briefly introduce the Leitmotif at the beginning, only to embark on a series of of ferocious exchanges immediately afterwards. At another, it is completely broken apart and decontextualised: Three minutes into „400 years“, the soulful chorus suddenly disintegrates, Russ Meissner starts working the cymbals while J.A. Granelli’s bass is wandering off into a territory of its own. Only a swarm of feverish sax lines are holding the band together, as they embark on a dream-like free-jazz seance.
„400 years“ makes its point with striking bluntness, but it’s the only time the album spells out its intentions this obviously. Rather, it is always leaving enough space for the listener to find the underlying links and ideas for her- or himself. And once you’ve decided to participate, this game of associations takes on an intriguing depth: Suddenly, you can hear parallels with the modal jazz of Miles Davis. Harbingers of dub. The proximity with rock. You can hear how these styles meet and conflict just as much as they complement each other – and how they finally segue into a fascinating new style of soloing, which draws from jazz, but infuses it with the laid-back moods of reggae. There is as much emphasis on the individual as the group here, which is why, rather than embarking on ego trips, each solo is merely the point of departure for the next in a process of continuous collaboration.
It is a congenial metaphor for the ensemble’s take on a dialogue with the masters in general: Respectful of those which came before them, but always with enough self-confidence to leave their mark on the music. Grass on Fire may not be rewriting history – but it certainly makes time travel feel remarkably enjoyable.
Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society: GRASS on Fire: Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society Plays Catch a Fire (2010)
By CHRIS M. SLAWECKI, Published: November 28, 2011
At first look, jazz seems to have little use for reggae. After all, isn’t the essence of jazz its flights of improvisatory fancy, while reggae’s trademark is that resolute, lockdown rhythm? But a solid point from which to take off and return is most helpful when flying, and reggae provides a rhythmic foundation more solid than most.
The Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society (G.R.A.S.S.) is made up of Brooklyn area musicians who enjoy the improvisational spontaneity of jazz and the profound depth of Jamaican reggae. They collectively reach just about every corner of the musical universe: saxophonist Ohad Talmor, for example, was born in Israel, grew up in Switzerland, and co-leads groups with friend and mentor Lee Konitz. GRASS bandleader and bassist J. “Sumo” Granelli, son of drummer Jerry Granelli, has studied with Charlie Haden, played with pianist Mose Allison, and also performs in two other bands. “It’s impossible to understand jazz fully without an understanding of African and Western European classical music, for instance,” Sumo explains. “‘Mento-ska-rocksteady-reggae-dance hall’ all spring originally from these same roots, so in effect our study of jazz and other forms of American roots music led us to Jamaican music naturally.”
And so GRASS lit upon Catch a Fire, the breakout album for The Wailers—reggae’s “holy trinity” of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. “Our thing is a pretty different version of the music, so we put it in the order that worked best for what we had created,” Granelli explains. “We also combine two songs (“Kinky Reggae” and “Midnight Ravers” here meld to become “Kinky Midnight”) and added one that never made the original release (“High Tide, Low Tide”) so the original order would not have worked anyway.”
From both the jazz and reggae perspectives, their “thing” seems to work quite nicely. Trombone and alto sax flesh out “Concrete Jungle” over its reggae skeleton, with the alto’s clarinet overtones bringing a kind of klezmer sound to its Caribbean beat. Bass and drums whip up the time of “400 Years” into a free jazz-for-all, the scrambled sound of wandering lost tribes.
In “Slave Driver,” the chanted vocal (“Slave driver…catch a fire…slave driver…catch a fire…”) echoes horns that sway like elephants in a conga line. “Stop That Train” jumps upon a cacophonous section where all the saxophones and trombone simultaneously play—a great ejaculation of New Orleans ensemble jazz, cast in reggae but with a tinge of second line rhythms in the drum and bass. Harmonica puffs the melody to “Stir It Up,” a light and carefree sound that warmly illuminates perhaps the most famous Wailers tune in this set.
Track Listing: Concrete Jungle; Baby We’ve Got a Date; Slave Driver; 400 Years; Kinky Midnight; Stir It Up; Stop That Train; High Tide; No More Trouble.
Personnel: J. “Sumo” Granelli: bass; Nate “Natecha” Shaw: keyboards; Mark Miller: trombone; Russ Meissner: drums; Nick Balaban: keyboards; Ohad Talmor: tenor saxophone; Paul Carlos: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; David Bailis: guitar; David Barnes: harmonica; Michael Blake: tenor saxophone; Brad Shepik: guitar.
We had been warned that engaging in a Kickstarter campaign is quite an emotional experience. Still it’s astounding. So amazing to have people invest in one’s project. The generosity. We thought it might pinch that some friends don’t contribute. It doesn’t, submerged under the flow of giving. Plus, it’s a free country.
photo by MiniboyJim
Reading the names of the contributors is such a thrill. The contribution of people we didn’t expect to care is particularly sweet. They’re all sweet. It feels a bit mercenary to equal love with money, I suppose we’re all susceptible to concrete marks of friendship. Each contribution like a drop of gold. We’re awed. Really humbled.
We had backed three projects on Kickstarter plus a couple others on Indiegogo, before we even thought about a campaign for Vodka Rocks! It feels good to think about that money flowing, that generosity flowing to finance the production of artistic projects, in a world where everything had seemed to motivated by gain. Contributors finance someone who’ll later finance someone who’ll finance someone, hopefully. Instead of spending that $50 or $100 on a dinner or a pair of gloves, the money circulates widely financing as it goes a huge range of artistic projects. A kind of vast cooperative, or self generated credit union, that bypasses foundation committees and banks’ closed doors.
What’s a bit less generous is the 5% perceived by Kickstarter. That seems like a large fee considering the easy money they’re getting at this stage. When they launched they needed funds to finance their setting up the system. But now? Their involvement with projects which are bringing in millions of dollars is limited to reviewing the suitability of the project and answering questions. They’ve limited their accounting costs by subbing to Amazon who perceives another fee. Kickstarter sure are making sweet money from the creativity of the campaigners and the generosity of the donors. Additionally some projects work as a small business investment source, or pre-sale – not so sure these fit well with the spirit of the other campaigns. They gather a lot of money, and Kickstarter tends to feature them more on their favorite or home page. Other platforms are emerging, the competition will hopefully make the fee more competitive.
Again, we thank all our supporters, those who have yet to contribute as well as those who already have! Plus usually thanks to Yaphet, Carolina, James, Div, Vina, for pitching in campaign!