7/29/2020-ACTING-Indiegogo Campaign for “Cryptids” Unleashed

-The Indiegogo Campaign for the horror film CRYPTIDS is now online. In addition, when I was filming there on 7/19/2020 as “The Man in Black,” I was acting in a scene with a mystery celebrity that I couldn’t reveal until now. The mystery celebrity is America’s Foremost Drive-In Movie Critic JOE BOB BRIGGS. We were both in an episode directed by Justin M. Seaman (THE BARN). I had a good time and it was great working with Joe and the rest of the cast / crew there. It was also a nice introduction into Justin’s network and, hopefully, I will be involved in future projects from that camp. Click the link below to check out the perks and donate to the film-thanks!

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN for CRYPTIDS

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07/21/2020-ACTING-Recap From Filming on “Cryptids” Last Weekend

-Back in March 2020, I was contacted by acclaimed director Justin M. Seaman (“THE BARN“) in regards to a role he had me in mind for in a film he was doing called CRYPTIDS. We were actually discussing a few other possible roles when this was brought up. Originally, shooting was to take place at his filming studio at NEVERMORE PRODUCTIONS FILM LLC in Pennsylvania (PA) on April 25, but the pandemic put a stop to that. Once things started to get more safe again, arrangements were made for me to come down and play the part of “The Man in Black” for one of the episodes (“Cryptids” is an anthology film). Things have changed for me in a large way since the events of 2019 but I was glad to be able to do this and headed out to PA in the wee morning hours of Sunday 7/19/2020 (5 AM – it’s a six hour drive one way). I was just hoping that Cuomo wasn’t going to declare PA one of the states on his list where, if you come back into New York, you have to spend 14 days in quarantine. That would’ve sucked…

-So I get there and, as I tell them when I arrive, this area must of been built back when everyone was 5’5″, not to mention driving Yugos and maybe Mini Coopers πŸ˜€ . My GPS also gave out on me, for awhile, just upon entering PA but I was on the same road for awhile and it finally re-engaged. I will mention that, contrary to some of the pics, everyone was very careful in regards to masks and distancing. The masks were off while on camera and a quick pic here and there but all safety measures were taken. While I’d been in a booth next to there’s at various conventions (representing NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE ), I’d never worked on one of Justin’s productions before so this was a first. Everything went great and they couldn’t have been more accommodating. Acclaimed director Zane Hershberger (FORCE TO FEAR) was also here (I thought I smelled Pert Plus when I walked in (HA!) ) πŸ˜€ There was also a mystery actor here who I can’t reveal till after the film is out. I have some pics in reserve and will post them on my Acting page on Facebook when the film is released.

-Things went by fast and, before I knew it, I was done. After a quick meal, I was back on the road to Syracuse. My GPS messed up again cause it told me I’d be back almost two hours before I actually was so I was wiped out when I got home. I want to thank Justin and everyone for the opportunity to be onboard and hopefully I’ll be able to work on some of those other projects we were talking about as well.

-Pics can be seen on my Acting Page on Facebook via the link below.

WWJ ACTING PAGE on FACEBOOK

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5/29/2020-ACTING-Late Update on “Romeo 3000”

-I posted this on the WWJ PRODUCTIONS page two days ago but feel like it should also go here so as more people who are asking me about it will potentially see it…

-This is an update that should have been posted at the time it happened, but as I am still being asked for updates and questions about this project, I will correct that delay now…

-As of March 16, 2019 WWJ Productions became no longer involved in the completion of the Feature Film β€œRomeo 3000. ” I have no idea of its status. To the cast / crew / supporters of R3000-I thank you for all your efforts and hard work.

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3/26/2020-PETS-Happy Birthday Scruffy!

-Happy Birthday to my not so little Scruffy! 😊🐱 He turns eight years old today, but he’ll always be my baby boy πŸ€—πŸˆπŸ––The other three pics are from 2013 but the video and main pic are from today What video you may ask? Well, click HERE to go to my page on Instagram to see the Scruffy Birthday post to see not only three other pics from 2013 but also a video from earlier today πŸ™‚

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3/25/2020-MUSIC-Video Clips From Hammerfest 2020 Via YouTube (1080p)


Pic by David Bower.

-Yes, I finally made the time to get the clips from the 2/29/2020 Hammerfest show up on YouTube. On 2/29/2020 I was in one of the bands that played at Hammerfest 2020 – a Tribute to Jerry Yerman, former singer of Four Large Men, who passed away in 2019. This was also to honor those from the Mark I version of FLM who have also unfortunately passed – Rick Richmond & Kevin Meacham.

-Initially I posted them on Facebook but there was a few problems-most notably that they weren’t coming out in 1080p resolution (as they were filmed-that’s why I bought that camcorder in the first place). I also had to do some basic editing cause, being a camcorder, once it hits a certain time mark it creates a new file-even in the middle of filming. In this case, it did it while I was singing “Parasite” (KISS). The second time I attempted it was even better so there’s that…Here are the clips with a little bit of backstory added to the descriptions. All videos here done by WWJ PRODUCTIONS. There are also arranged, from top to bottom, in the order they were performed that night so… One all these clips are the remaining members of the band Four Large Men (Mark II) which include Roy Coston (LOVEBONE), Mike Merrifield (ONE HARD KRANK) & myself (Wayne W. Johnson – CAROLINE BLUE) with special guest musicians filling in on all the songs.

GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL (Ten Years After) – FLM w/ Lynn White (BEFORE AUGUST)

-This song was done by FLM back in the day but is our own arrangement of “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” by Ten Years After. When this song was added to the list I went on YouTube to listen to the original version to re-learn it-and was over 11 minutes long (!). I was thinking, “I don’t remember playing this song for that long.” Turns out that not only did we re-arrange the song to a more standard length, but that we also recorded a cover version of that song while in the studio in the 90s-and I had no recollection of ever doing this. πŸ™‚ I’ve kept journals for decades, which helps to augment my memory, but I was genuinely surprised, yet pleased, that this existed courtesy of Mike M. I know Lynn was a little nervous before we started the show but he did great.

SNORTIN’ WHISKEY (Pat Travers) – FLM w/ Mike Santalucia (THE BOMB)

-This song was done by FLM back in the day and was pretty much the mainstay of any show we did. We only had one rehearsal overall with the guest singers and Mike S. wasn’t able to make it but he belted it out at the show. We had originally planned for Mike S. to also do “Heaven & Hell” (Black Sabbath) but that was dropped the day before the show. I didn’t realize (for some reason cause I’m sure Roy told me earlier) that Mike was singing the entire set for Visigoth as well that night. Some songs were suggested to replace it-including FLM’s “Slave to the Hourglass”-which I recorded for CAROLINE BLUE (which can be seen HERE *shameless promo mode ended* πŸ˜€ ) but the bass line and vocal line are conflicting (I play guitar when singing this normally) and would take some work to re-structure so maybe next time…) but in the end we just stayed with what we had-which was for the best.

STRANGLEHOLD (Ted Nugent) – FLM w/ Steven R. Seelman (THE 169 RHYTHM METHOD) + bonus

-On this song, however, we had a guest drummer Steven R. Seelman and no singer. While FLM (Mark II) never played “Stranglehold,” Roy’s current band LoveBone does and as a bonus- halfway thru-Roy gets the crowd to shout out the names of Jerry, Rich & Kevin several times. An added bonus is Monster Mike singing on the third verse for this. This is a longer clip so you have been warned…This song was a staple in LoveBone’s set list and Roy had plans to do a crowd participation part in this, but I didn’t find out that this song was a go till a few hours before we went on (!). It was one of the songs suggested to replace “Heaven & Hell” but I didn’t receive an answer if we were doing it so (silence / no reply usually translates to “no” – Wise Wisdom Wayno-try to say that 5 times fast-HA!) so I was a little surprised when I got the news we were doing it. “Just play A” I was told. There’s more to the song than that-there’s even a short bass solo per se. This, however, wasn’t my first time being in this position for a show (and I’m sure it won’t be the last) so I just went to my car and listened to the song a few times. It IS mostly just A, but I got the feel for it and the basic arrangement like a normal cover band would do and I think I made do πŸ™‚ . Then, on the last verse, Mike M. started singing so not bad overall for a song that was basically played last minute πŸ™‚

PARASITE (KISS) – FLM with me singing lead vocals & Chuck Heath on backing vocals.

-On this song, we had a guest backing vocalist (Chuck Heath) with me (WWJ) on lead vocals. FLM performed this song back in the day and since I’m kind of and / or was known as “That KISS Dude” in the CNY hard rock / metal circles, I picked this one πŸ™‚ You’ll notice at the beginning of this video I take a moment to mention that Jerry’s Guitar, Hat, Mic Stand and a drink was at center stage. A little throwback to CAROLINE BLUE stage raps as well-although Roy has now replaced me as the “rock & roll preacher” onstage \m/ When I put this up initially on Facebook, it cut off in the middle of Roy’s solo. I fixed the problem (it was my fault) and re-posted it there so all’s better now πŸ™‚ BTW- when I made that remark about the “guest singer” taking his time to get to the stage, it was a rag on myself not Chuckie cause if you put a mic in front of me on a stage, I can be a mouthful (HA!) πŸ™‚

SWEET JEZEBEL (Four Large Men) – FLM w/ Chuck Heath (LoveBone)

-“Sweet Jezebel” was an FLM song and one of the most popular ones-as well as being the hardest to sing. Even Jerry had trouble singing it at times and if he had trouble with it, you can imagine how hard it would be for anyone else… At the last tribute show we had Mary Meacham (DC Strut / Ardent) singing it and this time it was Chuck. I presume this song will always be in the set list when doing these shows (I believe there are plans to make Hammerfest a yearly event) so a number of singers will be doing this. Maybe even I’ll get a shot at it πŸ˜‰

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3/21/2020-R.I.P.-Kenny Rogers

-Earlier today the news broke that KENNY ROGERS had passed away the night before at 10:25 PM at age 81. I wasn’t a deep fan but I knew of, and enjoyed, a good chunk of his hits-and even a few that weren’t. I’m not sure where or when, but I do have a memory of reading about his back story long ago so I knew, for example, that he started out as a rocker in The First Edition (which eventually became Kenny Rogers & The First Edition) before he went solo. I want to say that I might of read about it in a music business book but I don’t know if I’m recalling that correctly…Of course, I’m a fan of songs like “The Gambler,” “Lucille” and more but I’m just going to expound a little on two of my favorites-one that’s a little more obscure (which I’ll start with first) and one that you could say everyone knows (like the top video didn’t give that away right?) πŸ™‚

-The more obscure song is called “This Woman” released in 1983. One of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb, had a hand in writing it. He also produced the album it was off of (“Eyes That See in the Dark”) and did backing vocals as well. It’s funny-I’m surprised some modern country artist hasn’t covered this song by now. It does sound, to me, a little like an 80’s harbinger to that “pop-country” sound that’s currently in vogue-even more so cause this is basically a pop song; no “country twang” instruments like fiddles and banjos added in. Even vocally some broken rhythm-another en vogue thing currently. I still enjoy the song very much. Here’s the song and video in all it’s 80s glory πŸ™‚

-As stated before, from the top video I’m sure you can guess what my other favorite is πŸ™‚ I remember first hearing “Lady” on the radio during preparations for moving from Kwajalein (on The Marshall Islands) back to the US. I lived there for about three years. It’s one of my favorite ballads-perhaps my favorite cause I can’t think of another one I like more at the moment… A haunting piano piece with a very emotional vocal from Kenny. Written by Lionel Richie and actually put on his greatest hits album called, appropriately enough, “Greatest Hits.” Although I will save details for “WAYNE-THE BOOK” (if I ever get off my damn ass and write the thing-HA!) but this was a song in heavy rotation during the years I was, let’s say, “emotionally unstable”-primarily during my high school years and maybe into the decade later. I mean, when you’re driving alone at night in the midst of some really heavy emotions and this song is playing over and over…Although I’m more matured emotionally now (some would debate this-HA!), hearing this song brings me right back to those times in a heartbeat and I still can really get emotionally lost in it. The power of a song right? When I was starting into music and flirted with playing piano years ago, I bought a lot of sheet music and one of the first ones I got was “Lady.” I really should learn how to play this one day… While the top video is of Kenny singing it live and it’s great, the studio version is what really hits me the hardest and I will put that below. This clip has an interesting side show with it but it has the song in HD / HQ so… I’ve always been a fan of side shows of various pics on certain songs to heighten emotional impact. Perhaps I’ll learn how to do that one day…

-This is just one more reminder, for me, that as one gets older, more and more people leave your life. The reason immortality is considered a curse right? I can only hope to one day write a song that will impact other people like this song has with me. R.I.P. Kenny… 😦

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3/5/2020-MUSIC-Recap from Hammerfest 2020 (2/29/2020)

-Back in July 2019, I performed at a tribute show for the late Jerry Yerman (as well as other members of the Mark I version of the band Four Large Men (Rick Richmond and Kevin Meacham) at the Oneida American Legion. I was in the Mark II version of the band from 1993-1999 along with Jerry, Roy Coston and Mike Merrifield. We did some songs at that event (along with singer Mary Meacham and a guest appearance by Scott Rif Miller) and it went over well. A few months ago I was contacted in regards to a similar tribute show which may become a yearly event to be called HAMMERFEST at the end of February 2020. This would have three other bands involved (Visigoth, Red Hush and The Stan Premo Band) and me, Mike and Roy would perform under Four Large Men with Guest vocalists Lynn White (Before August), Chuck Heath (LoveBone) and Mike Santalucia (The Bomb). I would also be singing on a song-which would be “Parasite” by KISS-a song that FLM used to perform back in the day. Mike would be singing “Snortin’ Whisky” (Pat Travers” and “Heaven & Hell” (Black Sabbath), Lynn Would sing on “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (Ten Years After) and Chuck would be singing on FLM’s own “Sweet Jezebel.”

-Rehearsals took place during January and February, although I was only able to be at one of them, but I was ready for it. I did get to watch Visigoth play which was fun. The show was to take place at Nothin’ Fancy in Vernon, NY. I hadn’t played there since doing a Tribute to KISS set with CAROLINE BLUE for a benefit show for Roy back in 2005. There were a lot of changes-specifically the stage was out of the corner and a whole upstairs deck had been added. Very nice stage to play on. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who were here that I knew-it was like I’d never stopped playing to go into acting. I was looking forward to performing onstage (as well as debuting my KISS / Baby Yoda shirt) πŸ™‚

-Less than 24 hours I was told we weren’t doing “Heaven & Hell” so me, Roy and Mike were brainstorming online for awhile. One of the songs that Roy threw out was an instrumental version of “Stranglehold” (Ted Nugent). I didn’t really hear back whether we were actually doing it or not so I didn’t work on it. So imagine my surprise when Roy comes up to me at the show saying it’s on the list πŸ™‚ “Just ride the A string.” Um..it’s a little more than that-there’s actually a quick bass solo in it. Regardless, I went to my vehicle and listened to it a few times and got the basic gist of it sans solo. It IS mostly in A but there’s a few other things and I got them quick. It’s not my first time being in a situation like this πŸ™‚ Of course, now I have to learn it so it can be in my repertoire for possible future use….

-As I mentioned previously, there were a lot of people I knew here-many who I haven’t seen in years. It’s always great to catch up with people and see how they’re doing. Andy “Doc” Gore (ex-CAROLINE BLUE bassist) was also here so that was also a nice surprise. It would be fun to bring CAROLINE BLUE here. You never know…

-All the bands did great this night. Our set was short and was over before I knew it. For myself, in many ways, it was like old home week per se. One new thing that came up was the “Sarco (Sarcoidosis) Factor”-which I didn’t anticipate. By the end of the second song, I was sucking wind really bad. Yes-I’m older and currently out of shape-but this is a factor that has been cropping up the last few months so I knew that it was due to this. I have to be careful cause not only am I no longer a spring chicken but I definitely have to make adjustments for this new, and unfortunately permanent, factor that is now part of my life. Saying all that, “Parasite” was to be the third song but Roy wanted “Stranglehold” to be next and I readily agreed. I mean, if you have no wind, how do you sing right? Getting older sucks, but getting older with Sarco…adapt and keep moving forward…

-Roy had a large audience participation thing going on during “Strangelhold.” It’s always fun to see the front man he’s become-cause he used to be so quiet back in the day. Monster Mike even came out to sing the last verse on this one-video coming soon on this and all the other songs performed. The one that I didn’t get video for (because I didn’t know it was happening) was during Visigoth’s performance of “Cold Gin” (KISS)-they had me, Chuck and Kyle Giglio (Remedy) come up to alternate on verses. There is a pic of it but other than that, as far as I know, nothing else.

-One other thing to note…In front of the stage Jerry’s brother Freddie had brought Jerry’s guitar, mic stand and hat and put them in front of the stage. before I sang on “Parasite” I pointed this out just in case people didn’t know what it was and saying that at least he was here with us in spirit-although we all wished he was still here in person…

-Overall, it was a fun night and a good turn out. As I said before, I think Hammerfest will be a yearly event and, if so, I’ll see everyone at the next one. Thanks to all who came out and / or showed support for this.

-Pics can be seen on my Musicians page on Facebook via the following link

WWJ MUSICIAN PAGE on FACEBOOK

WRITE-UP IN THE UTICA OBSERVER-DISPATCH by MARK SISTI

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