The Blind Boys of Alabama’s Jimmy Carter talks about new album “Talkin’ Christmas!” and the band’s 70th Anniversary

Jimmy Carter is one of The Blind Boys of Alabama, the five-time Grammy Award winning gospel group. This year marks the band’s 70th Anniversary together and Jimmy is a founding member and has been there since the beginning. The band has collaborated with musicians like Ben Harper, Tom Waits and has performed for numerous Presidents over the year. Jimmy took out some time to chat wiht Media Mikes about their new album “Talkin’ Christmas!” and about the band’s 70th anniversary.

Mike Gencarelli: “Talkin’ Christmas!” is your second Christmas album after 2003’s “Go Tell it On the Mountain”; how did this come about and teaming up with Taj Mahal?
Jimmy Carter: Taj Mahal has been fans of The Blind Boys for a long time and we have been a fan of his as well. When we approached him, he was ready and eager to do it! Then we all got together went into the studio and did our thing [laughs].

MG: I listen to a lot of Christmas albums and if you are lucky an artist includes one new song in their album. You guys have given us seven brand-new holiday songs – six of which you written yourselves with this new album; what made you decide to that this route?
JC: That’s right. It is mostly all original stuff on this album. We all got together and wrote some great songs. I think that is what makes it a good album. The first Christmas that we did was mostly traditional songs but this one we wanted the material to be new. I hope it goes over good. We are trying to remind people what Christmas really is about. Christmas had gotten very commercial, so we are trying to put Christ back into Christmas.

MG: Since this is a holiday themed album, I am curious when was it recorded?
JC: We recorded this one in March, if I remember correctly. With the songs that we had it put us in the Christmas mood. So it wasn’t hard at all to record after the holidays and ended up being quite fun.

MG: 2014 is your 70th anniversary of The Blind Boys of Alabama, what is it like to be performing together all these years?
JC: It still feels good. Every year you get a little older but when you still enjoy and love what you do it keeps you going. Everyone is still in pretty good shape, so I foresee us being around for at least a little bit longer [laughs].

MG: If you were asked to pick the first highlight that comes to your head over the many years together, what would that be?
JC: A few come up actually. We had the privilege to singing to three Presidents. Even got to meet former President Jimmy Carter twice [laughs]. That was really cool. Then we got our first Grammy in 2002 and that was an amazing moment. Those are the two that come up the top of my head right now.

MG: You have teamed up with songwriters such as Ben Harper, Eric Clapton and Prince in the past; any more team ups planned next?
JC: I especially enjoyed working with Ben Harper. He is a great writer, a great singer and a great musician. He brought a lot to the table man. I really enjoyed working with him. I think Ben wants to do something else with us. We have to sit down and talk about it but I think he is ready…so we will see.

MG: Any tour dates planned for this album this Fall?
JC: Yes! We are going to start our Christmas tour on November 28th. We are starting that Friday night in Fredrick, MD and we will end up December 23rd in San Diego, CA.

“John Carter” Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Giveaway [ENDED]


New On Disney Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D™, HD Digital, DVD, and On-Demand June 5th.

To celebrate the Blu-Ray™ release of “John Carter”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the 2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite sci-fi film. This giveaway will be open until Friday June 22nd at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Disney brings to life an iconic hero, John Carter, in a visually stunning new world with heart-pounding action. The heroic epic adventure “John Carter” arrives on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D™, HD Digital, DVD and On-Demand June 5, 2012, just in time for Father’s Day!

As a warrior lost on Earth, John Carter is magically transported to Mars, where the fate of the planet and its people ultimately rest in his hands. With surprising new powers, and epic battles, he rises to become the man he is meant to be and the hero he truly is.

2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD) includes:
Blu-ray bonus features:

– Disney Second Screen – Explore John Carter’s journal with this innovative in-world experience and uncover a trove of fascinating details that extend the mythology of the movie.
– 360 Degrees of John Carter – Experience every aspect of the filmmaking process on one of the movie’s biggest production days.
– Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director, Andrew Stanton
– Barsoom Bloopers
DVD bonus features:
– 100 Years In The Making – Follow the journey of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story, from its origins as a pulp novel to its arrival onscreen.
– Audio Commentary with Filmmakers


Related Content

Book Review “The Art of John Carter: A Visual Journey”

Author: Josh Kushins
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Disney Editions
Release Date: March 6, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The film “John Carter” is visually amazing…whether you like the film or not. I happened to really like it. I thought it was very entertaining and fun. This book really brings forward John Carter’s best qualities…it’s visual effects. There is also a great nod to “A Princess of Mars” author Edgar Rice Burroughs throughout. If you enjoyed this film, I would highly recommend this book as a perfect companion to the film.

Disney Editions never let me down on their “Art of” books. This book really delivers the whole film in a nice wrapping. If you haven’t seen this film and read this book it will definitely send you out to the store to pick up the Blu-ray for sure. The art presented in this book is the highest image quality and fantastic paper stock. I am a big fan of intros and afterwords and this book does not disappoint. Director of John Stanton delivers a great kick-off to this visual journey. Also art director of “John Carter”, Ryan Church, respectively closes the book and does a great wrap-up job.

“The Art of John Carter: A Visual Journey” covers every aspect of the film starting with the character of John Carter to Barsoom to the Tharks. The art that is showcased in this book ranges from sketches, paintings, 3D renders and film stills used for comparison. I am big proprietor of Disney Editions books and I was completely satisfied with this book and I would even say it made me like the film even more. Now I get to go back and watch it again with the knowledge from the book and just realize how much work has really gone into the creation of this film from the pages of a book to the screen.

Dr. Paul Frommer talks about developing the languages for “John Carter” and “Avatar”

When writer/director James Cameron needed someone to create the native language of his Na’vi characters for the film “Avatar,” he turned to renowned linguist Paul Frommer. Impressed by his work the filmmakers behind the recent film “John Carter” asked Dr. Frommer to develop the Barsoomian language for that film as well. Dr. Frommer is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Management Communication at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Prior to joining Marshall, he lived and taught in Malaysia and Iran and completed a doctorate in linguistics at USC. He followed that with a ten-year sojourn in the business world as vice president and strategic planner for a Los Angeles corporation. Returning to USC, he joined the faculty of Marshall’s Center for Management Communication, serving as Director of the Center from 2005 to 2008. His teaching at USC included courses in Advanced Writing for Business and Cross-cultural Business Communication for Non-native Speakers. Dr. Frommer is co-author, with Edward Finegan, of Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics, currently in its fifth edition. To celebrate the release of “John Carter” on DVD, Dr. Frommer took the time to speak with Media Mikes:

Mike Smith: For “John Carter” was it important to incorporate a lot of the Barsoomian words that Edgar Rice Burroughs had created for his series of novels?
Paul Frommer: Yes, it was extremely important. And that’s what made this assignment unique. In the series of eleven books he came up with around 420 words. There is a large fan base out there that regards those texts as sacred and I wanted to respect that. I wanted to incorporate everything that Edgar Rice Burroughs had done so that therewould be no inconsistencies. That being said there was still a lot of guess work that had to be done. Just because you see the written form of a word doesn’t mean you know the exact pronunciation. For example, he had used “ch” in a lot of the words. But what does it mean? It could be “cha” like “chair.” It could also be “ka” like in “chorus.” It could be “sha” like in “machine. Those were some of the decisions I had to make. When you have “th” is it “thh” as in “thin” or “thuh” as in “then?” They both have different sounds. And even though the words were there, there were still a lot of decisions to be made. In terms of grammar we used virtually nothing from the book…it’s just isolating words.

MS: When you’re creating a language for a film do the screenwriters and director contribute their ideas as to how the language should sound or how it should flow?
PF: Yes. In fact, Andrew Stanton (director of “John Carter”) had come up with a few words of his own and when I could I would incorporate those. I had come up with some possibilities as to how the language would sound when spoken and I past those on to Andrew for his approval. In the initial go ‘round there were certain things he liked and certain things he didn’t. So we played around with things until he was happy with how the language sounded.

MS: Using Klingon as an example, since Klingon’s are outwardly very rough…their language is very guttural. When you create a language do you base how it will soundon the character’s perceived on-screen appearance?
PF: For the Na’vi language in “Avatar” Jim Cameron wanted the language to sound appealing and beautiful but also to sound somewhat complicated. In terms of the Barsoomians, they’re kind of a rougher people and so maybe the language reflects that.

MS: Since you brought up “Avatar” are there any new species you’ll be creating languages for in “Avatar 2?”
PF: Well, I wish I could tell you but I’m as curious as anyone. All I can tell you is that the film has been announced and that it’s slated to come out in 2016.

MS: To close on a humorous note, have you ever had a bad experience at a restaurant where you’ve just lambasted the waiter in Barsoomian?
PF: I haven’t done that yet (laughs) but there are times when I’ve said some things to myself in Barsoomian or Na’vi but I haven’t pulled that on any people yet. I’m sure there are fans in the audience for both languages that have done it and I think that’s great!

3D Blu-ray Review “John Carter 3D”

Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Buena Vista
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Running Time: 132 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Alright, so I think that “John Carter” got a bad rep in theaters. The film is nowhere near as bad as people say. It is a fun sci-fi flick which looks visually amazing. Is it the best plot ever? No, it has it faults but if you are a sci-fi fan it is almost guaranteed to leave you satisfied and if you are like me seeing on the edge of your chair. The actually story of “John Carter” is adapted from “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which was written around 100 years ago. I think Disney and Andrew Stanton did a great job with this film and I really enjoyed it over all. The 3D also looks absolutely fantastic, especially on Blu-ray. It really assists in creating Mars and adds its depth. The 3D also plays really well off the insane action sequences in the film and wonderful visual effects.

Let’s get to the look and feel of the film. It is one of the sharpest Blu-rays that I own in my collection. The 1080p transfer is perfect, absolutely flawless. If that is not enough the audio is also out-of-the-world boasting Disney’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. It is so impressive my couch felt like it was moving during the action scenes. This release not only came with the 3D Blu-ray but also a really 2D Blu-ray, a DVD and digital copy of the film. Disney really aims to please with this release and does not disappoint. Like I said this is one amazing Blu-ray, whether you like the film or not, this will blow you away!

The special features are definitely worth checking out especially if you enjoyed the film. There is an audio commentary from Director Andrew Stanton and producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins. It is a fun commentary track and covers a lot of ground on the film. You can enjoy “Disney Second Screen Interactive Experience” if you use your iPad, laptop, or sync the film with your device in order to explore John Carter’s journal. There are ten deleted scenes included with optional Director’s Commentary, running just short of twenty minutes. “100 Years in the Making” is a great feature but a little short, which goes into depth on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ life and the John Carter’s road from book to film. “360 Degrees of John Carter” is a thirty-five minute extensive production diary covering all aspects of the film’s production. Lastly there is are Barsoom Bloopers, which get a few good laughs off. Overall haters will hate but this is a decent movie.

President of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc, James J. Sullos Jr. & Archivist Cathy Wilbanks talk about the film “John Carter”

James J. Sullos Jr. is the President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Cathy Wilbanks is the Archivist of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. They took out some time to chat with Media Mikes to discuss Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic novel “A Princess of Mars” – the first novel in Burroughs’ Barsoom series and Disney’s film “John Carter”. Both James & Cathy also helped create the bonus feature on the “John Carter” Blu-ray called “100 Years In The Making.”

Mike Gencarelli: What`s the best part of working on Mr. Burroughs’s Legacy?
Jim Sullos: Mr. Burroughs wrote over 70 novels and 40 short stories. There is no end to the literary content that he created. I continually read material that has not been published for quite a few years and yet the storyline are still exciting. That why his legacy is never ending.
Cathy Wilbanks: I really enjoy working with the archives because every day is an opportunity to find treasures. The archives are filled with amazing artifacts from the past and I have the pleasure of discovering each and every one.

MG: What do you think Burroughs would have thought of this adaptation of “John Carter”?
JS: Burroughs would have been pleased that the movie accurately portrayed much of what was in his first novel “A Princess of Mars”. And he would have been amazed that current technology could finally do justice to his vivid imagination which was not possible until CGI was developed.

MG: What scene did you most enjoy in “John Carter”?
JS: It is very difficult to select just one scene that I most enjoyed because the whole movie was an incredible joy to see. Andrew Stanton was a genius in bringing visualization to the entire storyline that had never been seen before. As I watched the movie I could feel the passion he devoted to each segment of the film. Picking one scene would not be fair to so many successful portrayals of this timeless story.
CW: My favorite scene in the movie would have to be when John Carter saves Dejah during the marriage ceremony. My favorite character would have to be John Carter, but Woola is a close second!

MG: This big adaption of “John Carter” was 100 Years In The Making, what was the biggest challenge to get it right?
CW: The biggest challenge was finding an actor to portray Edgar Rice Burroughs. We were able to talk John Burroughs, ERB’s grandson, into taking on the part. When I saw the film for the first time, I was amazed to watch John interact in the background because he resembles ERB so much. It was like ERB was back with us again.

MG: How do you feel that the film “John Carter” interpreted the novel “A Princess of Mars?
JS: I think Andrew Stanton, the fabulous Director, who read all of the 11 Mars books as a youngster gave Dejah Thoris an added dimension as both a scientist and an accomplished fighter, greatly expanding her role with positive effects.

MG: What do you think makes the book “A Princess of Mars” so unique?
JS: At the time this book was written in 1911-1912, the scientific knowledge of planet Mars was limited and scientists had to guess as to the makeup of the surface of the planet. Mr. Burroughs novel gave a vivid description in detail of Mars that persisted for decades as the imaginary life that might exist on any planet in the universe.

MG: What were Burroughs’ sentiments toward filming his works in general?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs moved from Chicago to the San Fernando Valley in 1919 so he could be closer to the Hollywood scene. He was very excited and realized that he wanted to move in that direction. However, once filming started, he realized that he had to give up some of the control of how his characters were portrayed. Burroughs was mostly frustrated with the portrayal of Tarzan. He wanted his TARZAN to be portrayed as an intelligent, insightful heroand did not like the line “Me Tarzan, You Jane.”

MG: Can you give us some examples of the artifacts you worked with in the treasure trove of ERB material?
CW: The archives at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. are filled with historical treasures. I have had the pleasure of holding in my hands many first edition books, a huge variety of comic books, toys, merchandise from around the world, movie props like a pterodactyl, and of course, original art. But some of the most meaningful artifacts include the handwritten TARZAN Of THE APES manuscript as well as the A PRINCESS OF MARS manuscript and personal letters signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself.

MG: Despite being a hundred years old, the characters of ‘John Carter’ and the Barsoom series are still relevant and don’t feel the least bit dated. Why do you think that is?
CW: Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story focusing on human conditions such as love and conflict. He understood that to have a successful story, he must include factors that would have a wide appeal. The ‘John Carter’ character was developed with characteristics like humor, intelligence, emotion and strength. John Carter (Taylor Kitch) is very ‘relate-able’ which makes the story current in today’s world.

MG: We wouldn’t have Star Wars if it wasn’t for Princess of Mars, do you think pop culture gives Burroughs the credit he deserves for being such an influence?
CW: No, I don’t believe pop culture gives Edgar Rice Burroughs enough credit. He was a gifted, prolific writer and unfortunately has not been recognized for his contributions.

MG: Do you think there should be a sequel to John Carter movie? If you had to choose another adaption of Burroughs to be made into a feature, which would it be?
JS: I definitely think a sequel should follow. First, I would hope that the planned sequels will be produced because they will show the path that John Carter took to become the “Warlord of Mars”. There are 11 ‘Mars’ books that can be drawn on to create several more exciting movies. But in addition Mr. Burroughs wrote many other science fiction novels and particularly intriguing is the Venus series which portrays the hero Carson Napier who planned to fly his spaceship to Mars but miscalibrated and ended up on Venus to discover an unknown world.

MG: Will there other movies on the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs?
JS: At the present time Warner Bros. has in development a Tarzan live-action. And Constantin films will release its first Tarzan 3D animated film in 2013. We are currently in discussion with several producers who are looking at other Burroughs novels for potential new films.

Film Review “John Carter”

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Running time: 2 hours 12 mins
Walt Disney Company

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

New York City. 1881. A man silently makes his way through town, searching out the nearest telegraph shop. He is aware that he is being followed and quickly loses his tagalong. We are introduced to the recipient of that telegram, a young man named Edgar Rice Burroughs. Seems the man in question has shuffled off this mortal coil and has left everything to master Burroughs. Among the possessions is a journal with a most incredible journey.

Based on Burroughs first ever novel, “A Princess of Mars” (published about a year before his first “Tarzan” adventure), John Carter tells the story of a former Confederate soldier who finds himself in the middle of a civil war on Mars. There he meets all kinds of bizarre creatures with names like Dejah Thoris (Collins – the princess), Tars Tarkas (Dafoe) and Sab Than (Dominic West). Most of the inhabitants of Mars would make great basketball players as they’re about 13 feet tall and have not two but four arms. The story in a nutshell finds the city of Helium being threatened with destruction…a destruction that can be avoided if the Princess marries the suddenly powerful Sab Than, who recently was granted a powerful weapon by Matai Shang (Mark Strong). Confused yet?

Though visually beautiful in 3D, “John Carter” is flat in the story telling department. There really isn’t anything exciting happening on screen. Lots of yelling and fun shots of Carter bouncing around once he gets used to the lack of gravity on the red planet. This is truly a story I’d rather go to the library and read then watch again. Director Stanton has won two Academy Awards for his Pixar films “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E.” However, in his live action feature debut he seems to forget that his actors are flesh and blood and not animated. They come across as bland rather than exciting. Which is a shame because there are some talented people in the cast. Besides Dafoe and West you get strong turns from Thomas Haden Church, Ciaran Hinds, Bryan Cranston and the aforementioned Mark Strong, who, after recent appearances in “Green Lantern,” “Kick-Ass,” “Robin Hood” and “Sherlock Holmes” must have it in his contract that he appear in every sci fi/fantasy film! As the title character Kitsch is serviceable. But, again, he’s not really given the room to emote. My favorite character was Woola, Mar’s version of man’s best friend. At least he had a personality.

Interview with Emery’s Matt Carter

Matt Carter is the lead guitarist for the South Carolina based band Emery. Emery released their 5th studio album earlier this year titled “We Do What We Want”.  Media Mikes caught up with Mike at this year’s iMatter festival to talk about the release as well as the bands future plans.

Adam Lawton: How did you guys first get involved with the iMatter festival?
Matt Carter: I’m not really sure how that all worked out. As a band we love to go out and play festivals in the summertime. We really like being in that type of setting and we try to play as many as we can. With iMatter being a newer festival we really wanted to play it.

AL: Can you tell us about the band’s latest release “We Do What We Want”?
MC: The album came out earlier this year and it has been received really well by the fans. It a little bit heavier than our previous records. When we first came out as a band we were very heavy and we were trying to push those limits. However in the last 10 years since we have been writing songs together certain things have changed in music. We want to continue to stay cutting edge so we decided to push things further than writing regular verses and choruses. We really pushed ourselves and that’s what this record is about.

AL: Can you tell us any great stories from being on the road with the band?
MC: My favorite moment would have to be probably the worst tour moment as well. We had purchased a bus that had no air conditioning. We put fans…but the generator never worked either. We were crossing the desert and at one point we stopped. All we had were these two roof vents for air, so it was like being in a tin can. It was about 120 degrees in this thing at night. It was early on when we first got this bus, so we didn’t have beds or anything like that made up and people were just lying around.  People were complaining so much that it made it almost enjoyable for me to sit and listen to them. I really had joy in that moment. (Laughs)

AL: If you could pick one band to share a stage with whom would it be and why?
MC: We would love to play a show with Weezer. They are one of our favorite bands.  They are a large band and they are still making music. It would be really fun and they are our heroes for getting to music on a long term basis.

AL: What are the bands upcoming plans?
MC: We are going to begin planning for a new record. We haven’t written it yet but we are going to start doing all the pre-planning stuff such as where and when are we going to be doing the album. It will take awhile as we currently don’t have any plans to write just yet.  We will be starting to make plans for which direction we want the album to go and what tours we want to get on.