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GREIN ON GRAMMYS:
FACTS AND FEATS
Women dominate. (12/10a)
GRAMMYS KEEN ON
KENDRICK, DRAKE
It's nomination day. (12/7a)
WHO’S NOMINATED,
WHO’S NOT
...and who's going, "WTF." (12/10a)
RAINMAKERS: IT'S POURING DOWN VISIONARIES
The Max factor. (12/10a)
SPRINGSTEEN ON FILM:
A FATHER'S STORY
Bruce's Broadway act on film. (12/7a)
GRAMMY NERDS BREAK IT DOWN
Wow, they really are nerds, huh?
REVERBERATIONS OF TAYLOR'S DEAL
What does it all mean? What did it cost? Answer the second question first.
IS IT COLD IN HERE?
It's fine, really. We'd just like to feel our extremities again.
EGGNOG
A sweet and creamy vehicle for the intoxicating liquor that blocks out the agony of the holidays.
Critics' Choice
THE SHERBINSKI FACTOR
11/7/18

 Interview by Michelle Santosuosso

Who is Mr. Sherbinski, and why are so many music artists singing his praises?

He’s a bit of a legend in the cannabis world, known for his cultivation expertise and for having founded the premium cannabis brand SHERBINSKIS out of San Francisco. The brand produced one of the most celebrated buds in modern-day marijuana history: the Gelato strain.  It’s been a cult favorite among musicians for the last decade, memorialized in the lyrics, beats and vibes of John Mayer, Migos, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Uzi Vert, just to name a few.  Now, with a Fairfax Blvd. storefront coming in 2019 and a full new product line launching 11/15, he wanted to chat about being among the first cannabis brands to showcase at hip-hop lifestyle showcase Complex Con. But his wires must have gotten crossed when he reached out to HITS’ Michelle S instead… stoner!

You were one of the first cannabis brands ever to exhibit at Complex Con. How did that come about, and what was your goal with the exposure?
I feel that we’ve been pushing the envelope and I think that everybody on my team has the same vision. The way streetwear is so popular, like Supreme—we’re all fans of Supreme—it seems they’ve been able to build by keeping things exclusive and hype. That’s really what this is. With Complex Con it’s about letting people know, “We’re here; this is what we’re about.”

We’re a lifestyle brand. But we’re a licensed company in the California cannabis business and there are guidelines we have to abide by. In the Complex event, we told them there would be no sales and no on-site consumption. We want to follow the rules and make sure we represent our brand, and also Complex Con, the right way. I want every smart entrepreneur who uses and smokes cannabis but doesn’t want to be associated with these old-school kind of dirty bong, dirty room kind of feel that many people associate with it. I want them to realize that cannabis is high-class. Some of the smartest, most creative people in the world are cannabis users, and I want to represent those people. When they come and see my brand, I want them to feel like, “Yes. This is tasteful; it resonates with me.” I think that’s the lane we’re on right now.

So many artists namecheck your custom strains. John Mayer wrote an entire album about it. Famous Dex, Migos and Travis Scott have all given notable shout-outs. How did you get the music community so involved?
Early on, when I started, I was working with Cookie Fam in the Bay Area, you had artists like E-40, B Legit and other old-school Bay Area artists rapping about cookies. You’re hearing it in the songs because the connection was, when they go in the studio, they want to be able to smoke something that we call “tapping in.” That universal energy the dopest music comes from. When I told you I smoked that and it touched a part of my soul I’ve never felt touched before—that’s real talk. 

When we show up, Sherbinskis World White Glove, we don’t bring pounds of weed to the studio. We’ll come by and give an ounce—this is a me-to-you gift. People respect it. You see a lot of these companies giving away loads. To me, that was never my approach because I wanted that genuine connection with the artist. Going back years, rappers and even going back to jazz music, these artists would smoke a joint back in the '30s and '40s. That was an association with cannabis before it was legal. Cannabis has always been part of creating that experience.

Some of the smartest, most creative people in the world are cannabis users, and I want to represent those people.

We were growing at this dope vibe after [1996’s passage of medical marijuana legalization initiative] Prop 215; people were working together collectively and legally. We started posting our pictures on Instagram and no one really saw weed that looked like that. It was the way we were taking the pictures, the quality of them. We started pushing every time we posted: #CookieFam. #Berner415, #Sherbinksi415. Berner went up to 600k followers within the first year of Instagram.

We never marketed it; we never even had a logo. Our whole brand was really our bag. We called it the “turkey bag swag” because we’d come through and you’d be in the studio. It could be Chris Brown in the studio. He’d pull up in a Lamborghini... women... he’s just fly. He’s the guy. He’d pull out his bag, then we’d pull up and we’d pull out our bag and it was just like, “Holy shit.” They don’t give a shit about the cars; they don’t give a shit about the girls; they want the best weed. If you have the best weed, you have that turkey bag swag. Through that, rappers are freestyling about their life, culture, what’s around them. What are they talking about? The strain of Gelato. Because it’s one of the coolest things in their life.

We fast-forward to people like Migos and Young Dolph, who actually named his entire mixtape Gelato. It’s integrated into our culture in a way that, to me, is spiritual. It humbles me because it’s why I dedicated my life to this plant, because truly it transcends our understanding. We have receptors in our body that are only there for cannabinoids. We have a connection with cannabis that is integrated into our DNA. That’s the facts.

 

VU'S HISTORY: PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE
10/11/18

By Phil Gallo

After a night of looking at pictures of Lou Reed, John Cale and their co-horts from the 1960s, one can surmise The Velvet Underground never took a bad picture.

Those black turtlenecks and the slim shades—the epitome of mid-60s lower Manhattan cool—was their uniform of choice, obviously, and with Andy Warhol as a guide, they tuned into the power of image as readily as the power of the drone.

Perhaps you already had the VU at the top of your list of cool, but a new multi-media art and music exhibition in New York drives home the central role of photographic iconography that defined the act as much as its experimental twist on rock & roll. Short on memorabilia, artifacts and rare recordings, The Velvet Underground Experience is a banquet of photos that starts with each member’s childhood and moves through the band’s eventual breakup in 1970. Visited during the opening night party, with “I’m Waiting for the Man” seemingly on an endless loop, the exhibit is rich in detailed information; a second visit is needed to fully take in the voluminous amount of material.

It’s very much the Lou and John show, and A film on the lives of Reed and Cale prior to their forming the VU is one of the exhibit’s must see stations. Still, ample space is allotted to Maureen Tucker, Sterling Morrison, Nico and Doug Yule along with the visual artists associated with the VU.

The exhibit, set up at 718 Broadway through 12/30, starts with historic photos of Greenwich Village, Allen Ginsberg, folk musicians and protests, suggesting that these events and individuals were key to the VU’s origins. What we don’t see is much of are the places where the band made its name, chiefly Warhol’s Factory, the Chelsea neighborhood and the Lower East Side where Cale worked with La Monte Young and others in the modern classical world.

Opening week events include a Q&A with Cale tonight in the new Bandsintown Studio in the building, and a concert by The Feelies on Saturday at White Eagle Hall in Newark, N.J.  

PETTY TREASURE TROVE OPENED UP
10/2/18

By Bud Scoppa

I had the honor of writing the track-by-track notes for the box set Tom Petty: An American Treasure (Reprise, 9/28), a collection of previously unreleased songs, alternate takes, deep cuts and live performances that cements the beloved artist’s range and brilliance as a songwriter. The first excerpt from the notes is the entry for “Here Comes My Girl” from the Heartbreakers’ 1979 breakthrough, Damn the Torpedoes extended by box set producer/engineer Ryan Ulyate so that we’re now able to hear what happened after the fadeout. The second is “Gainesville,” recorded in 1998 during the sessions for Echo but unheard until now.

Here Comes My Girl,” extended version of the track from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

“That album was a whole rediscovery of the studio for me,” Petty said of the artistic and commercial landmark Damn the Torpedoes, “because we’d had our own way of doing it, which was pretty amateur. Then [engineer] Shelley Yakus came in from New York, and these guys were really serious about this stuff. They’d be getting a drum sound for a week. And I’d be pullin’ my hair out, going, ‘What is going on? We’ve never spent more than an hour with the drums, I don’t understand.’ So it was a real educational experience, and probably one of our better albums.”

The music for “Here Comes My Girl” was written by Mike Campbell, who gave it to Petty on the same cassette that contained the demo for “Refugee.” Petty played both for Jimmy Iovine during their first meeting, and that was all the producer needed to hear. “I always wait for someone to come into my office and play me songs as good as those,” Iovine marveled in Rolling Stone. “Damn the Torpedoes is the best album I ever made, sonically. I’d say, ‘Tom, this record should feel like [John Lennon’s] Walls and Bridges, but with that punk thing you have.’ His albums before had great songs. This was a tour de force.”

Here again, this extended full-performance mix reveals what happened in the studio after the fade, as Benmont Tench and Campbell started playing off each other in a heady, spirited musical conversation. “There’s a thing that happens in your mind when you’re playing a track and you get to the ending,” Campbell explains. “You know it will be faded out before it gets to this part, so you just start to jam. On this one, me and Ben figured, ‘Okay, we’re in the free zone now; we can just play whatever we want.’ So we started just noodling together, and that’s what you’re hearing.”

“Gainesville,” outtake from Echo, 1998

Campbell had completely forgotten about the autobiographical “Gainesville” until Ulyate pulled it out of the vault. “That was a dark period for us in a lot of ways, so that song just slipped under the carpet somehow, but I think it’s valid,” he says.

“That line about Sandy loading up the van—Sandy was my friend from junior high school who helped them carry gear around,” Tench adds. “He said, ‘You’ve got to hear this band Mudcrutch,’ and took me to see them for the first time.”

Petty portrait by Mark Seliger