SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 217: Give It Up For The Michael Olivieri Band!

I’ll call no shame in stopping at Starbuck’s again. But tonight the tone of the establishment turns dismissive when one of the employees exits as I am photographing my group of friends this evening. “You can’t take pictures on our property,” we are told.

No big deal. Five feet to the left of us is neutral sidewalk; we happily shift our little meeting to the safer seas of paved asphalt.

Now I said, “Group of friends…” didn’t I?

Exactly right.  Group is correct.

Introducing center stage… for one night only… Give it up for the Michael Olivieri Band and their new release, “Broken Glass.”

I had no idea of the depth of individual personalities I would be meeting when I rolled in for my end-of-day search. And not wanting to keep revisiting the same demographic, I even told myself that I would probably not approach anyone at this frequently visited haunt of mine.

And as a regular, it adds a bit of insult to injury in being thrown off the patio.

Perhaps it was the judgment of the counter workers, thinking that we were an aggressive bunch, and if true, an assessment that was far from the truth. I’ll let go of it at that, for to harp on being tossed-off an empty rain wet patio would make me a bit of a hypocrite to my views of getting along.

Wow, I’m trying to suppress my emotion and I am fully surprised that this point has stuck in my mind as I am writing this entry.  Maybe it is the fatigue of my now 20th hour with no sleep, or perhaps the cold drink I did not get to finish, but what I really think has gotten under my skin is the thought that perhaps myself and my new gang of friends have been typecast in some way.

Oh look out! There is a rowdy group of rockers outside! let’s not let them become a distraction! A distraction we are not, as you will now see.

Let’s start with Michael, the lead singer and founder of the band. His first advice, with smile on face, “Run…! But be happy while you do it. And love your neighbors on the way.”

For the future, “People will still be all about themselves – we need to spread love!”

K.K goes next in his council to us, “Forgive, hope, love, live and be good to each other.”

In looking ahead he gives this, “We can choose, and I believe that if we can do that, it will be a better world.”

Paul kicks in, “Just love each other and help when you see that you can.

“We are heading towards a change in the world that we can dictate the outcome of, if we love each other, that’s all we need to do… the rest will follow.”

Now here is what is amazing. I do not individually interview these guys; time is way too short for that. You see the band has met here to grab a few guerrilla street pick-up shots with their videographer, Anjani (who, by the way is the first person I speak to in approaching the group).

And not wanting to distract too greatly from their production schedule, I challenge each band member to privately write their responses to the 365 questions. I have not guided or edited their words, and what is striking to me is the unity of perspective these guys have with one another in their outlook for a better future and the lack of focus they put on themselves. They are really cool dudes, as well as highly talented and established musical artists.

Buzzy goes for it, a little on the darker side, but relevant, “Stop having kids.

“I believe some of our greatest problems are due to the lack of birth control. The starving kids on TV… we’ll see their kids on the same network. Crack whores, criminals, poverty-stricken should not have kids.”

Sounds harsh, I know…but the more I think about Buzzy’s written responses to my questions, I have to acknowledge the reference he is making. A through line that leans to the responsibility of anyone engaging in unprotected sex. I can’t say that I fully agree with Buzzy’s tact, but as a parent, I do appreciate his perspective.

My wife and I have only one child, but in growing our family we are realizing that there are a lot of abandoned children in the world, children that we are considering looking towards to adopt. Some come from tragedies that have left them alone, others are a result of broken marriages… while sadly, an overwhelming amount are born due to lack of responsible birth control and of simple forethought.

This fact bewilders me… and to see the loneliness and resulting unstable juggling of orphaned kids is something that I find rather upsetting.

Dan is last to complete his questionnaire, well sort of.

“Words of advice…?”

“Looking towards the future…?”

“This is too funny,” his final words.

I see through it though. Dan was one of the first in the group to react positively to what I share of 365. Perhaps he is overwhelmed at the pressure of responding in the moment. Literally, within 10 minutes of chat we move on to taking photos. The whole meeting, written words and photos, goes down in under twenty minutes. That alone is a thought-stopping proposition. No worries Dan.

We wrap our shoot and as we do one final band member approaches.

Last, but certainly not lease, meet bassists, Tom. Wish I could write a few more words about Tom, but Tom didn’t have time to send me his answers before the deadline for today’s blog.  Hey Tom, that’s OK — They say a picture is worth a thousand words and my wife thinks your photo says just that.

Hey guys, great meeting you!

Until tomorrow…