The P. Hux Chronicles Issue Number NINE
Sunday, November 19, 2006


* Homemade Spaceship's Ironic Journey

Dear Chronica Lewinskis:

Sorry it's been so long since my last Chronicle. A lot has happened and it's been tricky to keep up. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Most recently, I took a quick trip to L.A. I caught up with old friends, celebrated my wife's birthday, did a bit of recording and finished mastering my long-ago-completed new album. More on that soon.

I also attended an awards ceremony at which Homemade Spaceship, my album of ELO interpretations, was nominated for Best Cover/Tribute Album of 2006 by the members of Just Plain Folks, an online community of more than 40,000 musicians.

Before leaving for LA, I spoke on the phone with my old pal Matt Barrett, with whom I've played music since sixth grade. I mentioned that Spaceship was up for an award.

"Oh, congratulations," Matt said. "But, don't you think that's somewhat ironic?"

What do you mean?

"Well, think about it. Here you are...the perfect guy to reinterpret ELO music, and you obviously did a great job of it because you're up for an award. And yet, the guy whose songs you're honoring...".

Oh, right. That guy. The guy who took me and my bandmates to court this past summer. I guess that is somewhat ironic. Homemade Spaceship: A Tribute to the Plaintiff.

Matt asked, "Do you think Jeff Lynne's even heard Homemade Spaceship?"

I have no idea. I'd like to think he's heard it and enjoyed it. If I were he, I think I'd have gotten a huge kick out of it.

But I've never met him. Never spoken to him. I just like his music.

I have met some of his lawyers, however. I had to spend time with them away from my family so they could take my deposition at their offices in New York. (I live in Washington.) That was a hoot.

Matt's right. Homemade Spaceship being nominated for an award is awash in irony.

But it's perhaps even more ironic there's such a complete disconnect between Jeff Lynne and The Orchestra. The complaints brought against us are a shame and completely unnecessary. Why? Because I think we're Jeff Lynne's greatest allies.

Beyond Lynne and Richard Tandy, there are no musicians better suited to perform ELO music than Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski and Lou Clark, all former members of ELO and currently members of The Orchestra. For the last seventeen years, ELO Part II and then The Orchestra have kept the ELO catalog alive and ringing in the ears of fans all over the world. Classic rock radio and song placements in commercials are great, but nothing sells cds like a live concert. Fans tell me all the time that after seeing our show they go out the next day to buy ELO CDs. The Orchestra doesn't make money from ELO album sales. Jeff Lynne does.

So consider it ironic that, earlier this year, The Orchestra and our management were notified of motions accusing us of violating an injunction regarding usage of the name ELO Part II. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say, we disagreed with the motions.

In August, a judge in Los Angeles ruled in our favor, and Lynne's motion accusing us of being in contempt of court was denied. That means we won.

But we didn't really. There are no winners in this kind of thing. A true victory would be a meeting between us and Jeff Lynne, with no lawyers present (no offense to our fantastic lawyers!) It would probably take about ten minutes to resolve his differences with us and then we could move on to more important stuff like beer and (English) football.

Or how about this. Everyone knows I'm the biggest Beatle fan in the world. My old pal and former bandmate Rusty Anderson plays with Paul McCartney, and Rusty's met Jeff a number of times. Maybe Rusty, Jeff and I could do a Beatles tribute album in the vein of Homemade Spaceship? Call it...Shabby Road...Devolver...The Shite Album...Flubber Soul.

It's a thought.

Anyway, this past weekend, my gorgeous wife and I attended the Just Plain Folks awards ceremony at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana. It was truly a memorable night. JPF has got to be the most inclusive, earnest, warmhearted music organization in the world. In between award announcements there were performances by rock bands, rap bands, spoken wordists, flautists, a capella groups, electric bagpipists, name it. It was amazing. It didn't feel like a competition even with all the trophies being handed out.

A few hours into the ceremony, it was time for my category's winners to be announced. I didn't win Best Single. But for Best Album, JPF founder Brian Austin Whitney read off the 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd place finishers...without mentioning Homemade Spaceship.

A smile passed between my wife and me: that means I won!

Yes, Homemade Spaceship is now the award-winning Homemade Spaceship. The Best Cover/Tribute Album of 2006. Woo-hoo! Dear reader if you have the album you should play it today because now it sounds even better! (If you don't already have the album, what are you waiting for?

We weren't given much time for speeches at the award ceremony. But if I'd given one, it might've gone like this:

Thank you. I'm just plain proud to accept this award. I'm indebted to the people who worked so hard with me to create Homemade Spaceship, Michael Woodrum in particular. My budget was miniscule, but Michael agreed to engineer, mix and master the entire project. The album's clean, warm sound is largely due to Michael's talent.

I'm also grateful to the musicians: Gordon Townsend, Nic Pierone, Ludvig Girdland, Angela Bartys, Rusty Anderson, Poppadom Screech and Jelly Deal. Thanks also to Gina Vivona for helping with the design, and Christine Buckley at Lakeshore Records.

Lastly, I'd like to thank Jeff Lynne for writing a bunch of songs that people still enjoy listening to. Maybe one day we'll sing them together.