This post was originally published October 29th, 2011.

Nick Lowe Post Icon

Nick Lowe will probably never be asked to guest on American Idol, and if he were I am pretty sure he’d say “no thanks”.

Although his critiques would probably have made former judge Simon Cowell seem like an easy pushover, there are few artists who have earned more right to have one of their songs performed on such a show or give some advice to the fledgling performers than this legendary British singer-songwriter who has made an indelible mark on Pop, Rock and Roll, Punk, New Wave, Country Rock, Power Pop, and virtually any other similiarly identified style.

Lowe’s body of work include a few Top 40 nuggets, one of his songs receives daily airplay around the world, and another actually turned up on a mega selling Grammy Award winning record breaking album.


How’s that for a resume?



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This piece was originally published March 1st, 2011.

James Brown Post IconJames Brown has been known by more nicknames than any other musical legend in history…

An incomplete list would include, “The Godfather Of Soul,” “Soul Brother Number One,” “The Minister Of Funk,” “Mr. Please Please Please Please Her,” “The Boss,” “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business,” “The King Of Funk,” “The King Of Soul,” “Sex Machine,” “Minister Of The New New Super Heavy Funk,” and “Mr. Dynamite.”

However there are a few nicknames that he will probably never be known for, like “Mr. Jazzman,” “The Swinging Hepcat,” or “The Emperor Of Jazz.”

Jazz might not be a musical genre that immediately comes to mind when thinking about J.B. but, like so many things that this talent of super human proportions was able to pull out of his musical bag of tricks, James Brown had a definite Jazz side that easily stands proudly alongside the rest of his brilliant oeuvre.

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THE HOT RATS: (The Late) Supergrass’ Super Side Project!

This piece was originally published November 8th, 2010

The Hot Rats Post IconThis past year the longtime British—or should I say “Britpop”—since they will forever be associated with that genre—chart-topping rock band Supergrass broke up due to the old “musical and creative differences” reason after a nice seventeen year run.

One can easily surmise that the difference might be named Mick Quinn, bassist, backing vocalist and co-writer in Supergrass, since the other two members of this highly successful trio also including Gaz Combes (guitar/lead vocals) and Danny Goffey (drums/backing vocals) have now released, since announcing Supergrass’ split up, an album where they are known as The Hot Rats.


The Hot Rats, taken from the name of Frank Zappa’s brilliant first solo album sans The Mothers Of Invention, began life releasing a great cover (with a truly fun accompanying video) of The Beatles’ song, “Drive My Car” for use in an ad campaign for Hugo Boss perfume.

They have since released their first full length album entitled Turn Ons.

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HALLOWEEN: Mystery Box Style…

This piece was originally published October 25th, 2010.

Spook Show Post IconHalloween is one of the stranger quasi-holidays that many of us celebrate. Personally I enjoy a round-the-year love of most things that many people only go for on Halloween such as creepy films, scary stories, kitschy bad novelties, and disturbing yet cool music.

Life is in so many ways, one big Halloween costume party, so when October 31st rolls around I usually see it more as a good time to bulk up on certain things that are more readily available this time of the year, until they are put back into the retail coffin storage warehouses or usually sold off at as cheap bargains (I always seek them out) to make way for the bad Thanksgiving decorations and props of November.

We all have our well loved movies, music, books and other activities to keep us happy around All Hallow’s Eve. Of course nothing would be right without the prerequisite Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi Shempfest that are the Evil Dead films, the original Romero classics Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, Hitchcock’s Psycho, numerous Vincent Price flicks (many are the wonderfully disturbed period films directed by Roger Corman of course), Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and loads of the Universal Horror masterpieces.

In tribute to this year’s Halloween extravaganza, I thought I would share a few lesser known delights that are my personal hand-picked classics, yet may be a brand new discovery for you, dear reader. Perhaps you will find one golden piece of candy corn among these Mystery Box faves!

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THE CREEPY CREEPS: They Might Get You!

This piece was originally published September 13th, 2010.

The Creepy Creeps Post Icon

Here at The Mystery Box HQ, I have been delightedly anticipating one of my favorite times of the year –


While I realize that it is still more than a month away, like some cheap imitation salt water taffy, I am already feeling its sinister, goofy pull.

Sitting here in the doldrums of one of the bad months, September (a month that for myself only extinguishes the blissful warmth of beloved summertime and mostly arouses bad feelings and negativity) I felt that this year I would instead celebrate Halloween for an extended period of time.



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This piece was originally published April 19th, 2010.

Ever since I began watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on PBS television in 1974 I was hooked and my obsession with Messrs Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin began…

1974 was the last year/fourth season for the Pythons, as well as the year that PBS began broadcasting the series (a bit of a happy accident when a PBS programmer in Texas decided to air a few sitting on his studio shelves, resulting in a snowball of laughs and in turn, PBS affiliates around the country running the show that year).

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This piece was originally published March 15th, 2010.

Japanese Demon IconIf I had to pick one single annual event that would be my all time favorite to attend, it would without a doubt, be JAPAN NITE, which is a touring musical showcase/festival that brings to the United States some of the coolest, most creative (and at times most insane) Japanese pop, punk, rock and beyond bands that you’ll ever see.

The lineups change on a yearly basis and you get to hear and experience amazingly fun groups who otherwise would doubtlessly not have a chance to tour the States on their own.

Some of these bands are really popular and signed to major label record deals back in Japan, and many due to their appearance on one of these JAPAN NITE prestigious tours, which includes the hugeSouth By Southwest Festival a.k.a. SXSW, gives an added boost to further their careers and create large American cult followings (and for some even bigger prospects along the vast trajectory that is now indie rock’s network).

As well as having one of the nicest vibes you’ll ever experience (yes politeness and happiness really is the order of the evening, however crazy the show gets) and you’re able to purchase all sorts of great merchandise and meet the band members in person after they perform.

The Mystery Box
 had the great pleasure of talking with JAPAN NITE’S inimitable founder and tireless promoter, Audrey Kimura, who sheds some light on this most happening of all music evenings…

Audrey Kimura and her fantastic, signed Lolita No.18 poster

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This piece was originally published February 10th, 2010.

Tiki Mug Icon #3

Welcome back once again to this, the third installment of The Mystery Box’s Luau Hut: My take on all things from the world of Tiki.

Woonsocket, RI native and guitarist extraordinaire, Duke Robillard, was recently nominated in the Traditional Blues Album category at the 2010 Grammy Awards.

While he didn’t win (this was his second time being nominated!) in a recent interview, Duke humorously took the entire event in stride: As both a great thing to be nominated for an award with so much attention and positive recognition of the music he is making; and being invited to attend the ceremony, with an aisle seat no less, that allowed for a clear view of all the flashy big celebrities to stroll by.

I believe Duke termed the whole experience sort of “ridiculous.”

Duke Robillard is one of those homegrown, self taught musicians that has achieved the mighty.


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This piece was originally published December 28th, 2009.

Mod 2009 Year-End IconThankfully, here at The Mystery Box H.Q. I am kissing goodbye to what has been a roller coaster of a year.

One that has been filled with the lowest of lows, albeit also with some very beautiful  happiness.

In retrospect, this seems to be a transitionally positive and better year than last year, which downright sucked dirty motor oil and exhaust fumes.

Without reporting the downers or becoming mired in too much negativity, since I get enough of that through reading Twitter and Facebook updates from the cranky or through my own venting outbursts, I am going to run down a list of a few of the standout things that have really helped make this year more fun than not, more up than down…

Listed may also be some things that I will be doing future column pieces on, so for now I won’t fully elaborate on everything in long detail and unfortunately, I am probably going to forget quite a few that I would love to add, but I will try my best to spill out a selection of The Mystery Box 2009 for your reading pleasure…
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A Christmas Gift for You From Robert Jaz

This piece was originally published December 14th, 2009

Ronnettes IconOK the title for this week’s Mystery Box column may be a bit misleading.

The gift is actually one that was given to the world in 1963 by the very famous and legendary (as well as infamous and notorious) enfant terrible, Harvey Philip “Phil” Spector.

Phil Spector, a man who many (myself included) feel may be one of popular music’s all time greatest producers, has recently more or less capped, and in a sad note, what was a brilliant and careening career of outstanding merit.

In light of the tragedies involving the world of Phil Spector that have been in the news recently, I felt that perhaps mentioning Phil in this week’s title might be a bit too tabloid-like or off putting for what should be a cheerful time of the year. Basically, I wanted this to be a separation of the Phil I admire and the Phil I shake my head at.
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