The Event…

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 – On this day, I was fortunate to see a free private screening of THE WHITE STRIPES Rockumentary UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS, which chronicled their first (and highly extensive) tour of Canada in 2007 and celebrated their then 10 year anniversary as a band.

Accompanying me was my Rock ‘n Roll gal pal, Staci Layne Wilson, whom a couple of years prior turned me onto THE WHITE STRIPES and Mr. White’s other band projects (see the next two chapters further below). It was the least I could do to show my appreciation.

I was always curious about the duo ever since MTV began airing their Fell In Love With A Girlvideo with the animated legos many moons ago.

However, it wasn’t until Staci burned me several CDs some years later that I decided to check them out, and I have been hooked ever since.

Seeing Mr. White profiled recently in the rock guitar documentary, IT MIGHT GET LOUD (also featuring iconic guitar players Jimmy Page of LED ZEPPELIN and The Edge from U2) I really began to appreciate the idiosyncracies that make up his creative process.

Btw, Staci was fortunate enough to interview both Mr. White & Mr. Page for that doc.

Staci‘s IT MIGHT GET LOUD Interview:

On this night, UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS was making its Los Angeles “sneak preview” at The Egyptian Theater – one of LA’s oldest & largest theater venues. Click the link for more info on the theater: http://www.americancinematheque.com/indexegyptian.html

The folks in charge of the The Egyptian (in collaboration with FLUX) went all out in making this screening a true rock n roll concert event, complete with various WHITE STRIPES memorabilia placed throughout the courtyard in front and inside the lobby area – all in the band’s trademark color motif of: Red, White & Black (which just coincidently happens to be both my & Staci’s favorite colors – I swear we’re NOT Nazi fascists! Devilish maybe on my part! Ha!)

A pic of collectibles I nabbed from the event – a brochure, some mints, a poster, a wooden model airplane kit and a postcard:

I’ve been to quite a few “member’s only” events at The Egyptian, so I was accustomed to the packed crowds. Non-member Staci, on the other hand, was not. She’s used to seeing more obscure horror and foreign films of decades past with nary a soul in attendance at this theater.

While she held our place in the long line, I went to grab us some cappuccinos from the complimentary servers on hand.

Technically, I was supposed to grab us two espressos by Staci’s request, but me being the newbie to all things coffee-related (as far as drinking is concerned), I had no idea an espresso was this little adrenaline shot. I looked at the cup and asked the servers “where’s the rest of it?” I knew my friend likes milk, so I had one of the servers fill up our cups half way, I guess, turning our drinks into cappuccinos! In any case, the drinks tasted very good. Prior we had dinner and some VERY BAD watered down coffee at some other place not too far away, while we killed time. (SIDE NOTE: thanks to all the caffeinated coffee consumption, I was EXTREMELY WIRED at home for the remainder of the night – felt like Michael J. Fox on speed in that one FAMITY TIES episode – good times)!

Needless to say, the coffee line was just as long as the line to get into the theater. So much so, that Staci ended up inside while I was still waiting to place our orders. I almost had to get into the back of the line. Luckily, one of the gentlemen working the venue knew I was in line with her, so he let me jump ahead to the front. He felt it wouldn’t have been fair for me to wait twice, when I already had a spot saved in line. I’m just glad I was able to get Staci her cup before it cooled down.

Also while I was in line, a bagpipe player came out to perform for us all. Someone in the coffee line wondered what his significance was to THE WHITE STRIPES. At first I said, well he’s got a Scottish kilt on. But we both conceded that yeah there was Red, White & Black on the kilt but so was the color Green, therefore that didn’t count. It wasn’t until a moment later that I remembered that the film’s live concert portion begins with bagpipe players. So, I’m assuming to recreate the actual concert experience, this particular bagpipe player basically opened the proceedings, just like the players did on the Stripes tour in the film. I thought the fact he was there was cool.

Eventually, I found my lil’ bluestreaked Redheaded friend upstairs in the balcony, where one gets a killer view of the large movie screen at eye level. Projected onto the screen was a silhouetted image of Jack & Meg before the film began. (SIDE NOTE: I make notice of Staci‘s hair, because Mr. White has a MAJOR fixation on Redheaded women (wrote/sang plenty a tune about them) – can’t blame him. Just look at his wife, Karen Elsen – you’ll meet her soon enough in Chapter Four ;-))

Afterwards, we were treated to a little Q & A session with co-producer Mike Sirkassian and director Emmet Malloy (whom along with his brother Brendan has done videos for THE WHITE STRIPES and METALLICA to name a couple out of MANY: check this wikipedia page for their videography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Malloys )

Before we departed, Staci & I managed to get our photos taken with Mike.

Don’t let my sourpuss expression fool you. I had a BLAST that evening.

I couldn’t locate Emmet amongst the throng of folks continuing to enjoy the free wine/champagne and coffee, with music supplied by a DJ! Yet, somehow I managed to snap a photo of him before the movie, talking to a couple of ladies on the far right (unbeknownst to me, since I didn’t know what he looked like until AFTER the Q & A).

And in case you’re wondering why EVERYONE is bundled up, because it was friggin’ cold that evening – figures the day before and the day after were completely nice – wind & chill free!

Now onto the film itself…

According to a Los Angeles Times quote on the trailer, UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS is being compared to other classic rock flicks as THE ROLLING STONES’s GIMME SHELTER and BOB DYLAN’s DON’T LOOK BACK. To a large degree I concur with that statement as far as getting substantially in depth with the musicians are concerned.

You can view the trailer below:

Structure-wise, the film is MUCH MORE akin to AC/DC’s kick ass LET THERE BE ROCK, which focuses mainly on band performances with the insightful interviews and other interesting moments sporadically placed throughout.

Filmed on both 16mm and hi-def digital with color and black & white, director Emmet Malloy and his editor/co-producer Tim Wheeler manage to create a solid, stylish narrative that follows the band’s tour trajectory.

At the time, the band was promoting what was then their latest release Icky Thump (2007)…

…and Mr. White mentions early on into the film that he & Meg had tried for years to play shows up north across the border, but for whatever reason they were never allowed in until this particular time.

The movie not-surprisingly (for me) opens with the bagpipe players onstage, then Jack & Meg run up and quickly take over with the opening notes of Let’s Shake Hands – taking no prisoners!!!!

One of my favorite moments is when the band plays a side show inside a bowling alley, and in mid-song Jack nearly manages to get a full strike with his bowling ball before going right back into the tune, not missing a beat. IMPRESSIVE!!! And fun to see.

Why were they playing in a bowling alley – you may ask? Because they wanted this tour to be unique and a special experience both for them and their fans. So, aside from the large venue gigs, they would host little surprise gigs in bars, rec rooms, a boat, public transit buses etc around the various towns and provinces, including an educational visit to some indigenous Inuit elders.

As the tour trudges onward, the more revealing the interviews and off-stage moments with Jack & Meg become, culminating in a very sorrowful moment between the two of them as Jack play’s their song White Moon on a piano. This somewhat staged/voyeuristic moment made my own sappy eyes watery as I watch a tearful Meg cry into Jack’s shoulder in a moment of silence. Who knows what was truly going on at that moment. During the Q & A, someone in the audience asked the filmmakers if they knew this would be the end of Jack & Meg’s working relationship for a long while (if not indefinite), which they only replied that the tour was hard on everyone involved, themselves included.

However, the band did reunite in 2009 for their friend CONAN O’BRIEN on what was his then final night for THE LATE SHOW (however, they weren’t there for his final FINAL night on his short-lived TONIGHT SHOW gig on NBC).

I have a feeling we haven’t seen or heard the last of the duo. But in the meantime, Jack has been VERY BUSY with other projects to occupy his time, most notably starting up a record label to showcase new talent (see Chapter Four).

I HIGHLY enjoyed and recommend UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS to everyone: whether you are a movie buff, a curious music seeker and DEFINITELY if you’re a fan of THE WHITE STRIPES. The film is an adrenaline rush with heart and a pure rock n roll spirit!!!!

You can read Staci’s detailed film review over at Buzzine.com: http://www.buzzine.com/2010/03/under-great-white-northern-lights/

You can also read Staci‘s take on this particular evening along with the other events she’s covered as an entertainment journalist, via her wordpress blog: http://stacilaynewilson.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/my-colorful-career/

And be sure to check out:  

Staci‘s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StaciWilson?ref=mf

Staci‘s website: http://www.staciwilson.com/

The Egyptian Theater’s Facebook page has a Photo Album up here:

Lastly, I have all of my pics from the event posted in my own Facebook album (for friends only): http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=152945&id=580404561

To find out when & where UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS will be coming to your town, check this link for dates/cities: http://whitestripes.bside.com/screenings/

And to Pre-Order THE WHITE STRIPES Box Set that coincides with the film, click here: http://whitestripes.com/ugwnl_boxset/



While THE WHITE STRIPES was on a hiatus of sorts, Mr. White formed a new band calling themselves THE RACONTEURS whom have released two solid hard rockin’ & blues-inspired albums “Broken Boy Soldiers” and “Consolers Of The Lonely” – sort of THE BEATLES meets LED ZEPPELIN vibe going on with this group. But there’s other textures in the mix as well. The latter album includes an intense & faithful rendition of TERRY REID’s “Rich Kid Blues”.

Alongside, Mr. White, the band consists of solo artist Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence (of THE GREENHORNES), and Patrick Keeler (also of THE GREENHORNES)

“Steady As She Goes” Music Video

“Salute Your Solution” Music Video directed by Autumn De Wilde

Check out –

THE RACONTEURS website: http://www.theraconteurs.com/
THE RACONTEURS Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/theraconteurs

While, I was not fortunate enough to see them play yet, the band has toured extensively in the recent past.

Still, Mr. White had more up his sleeve…



It wasn’t long before Staci put this latest group of Mr. White on my radar. This time he would be playing the instrument he first started out on – the drums (just like moi).

THE DEAD WEATHER, featuring the charismatic lead singer Alison Mosshart of THE KILLS, Mr. White, Dean Fertita (of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) and again, Jack Lawrence (of THE RACONTEURS and THE GREENHORNES) is a much darker, heavier, bluesier beast, in stark contrast to both THE WHITE STRIPES and THE RACONTEURS. At times, the band reminds me of early DEEP PURPLE, especially with the keyboard work on display in many songs like their single “I Cut Like A Buffalo”

Over last Summer, they released their debut “Horehound”

I was also fortunate to see this band live at The Wiltern in Los Angeles that Summer as well with Staci, Enzo and a couple of other friends.

“I Cut Like A Buffalo” Music Video

“Bone House” Live at The Roxy, Los Angeles

“Treat Me Like Your Mother” Live at The Mayan, Los Angeles – from Staci‘s cam (the day after The Wiltern show we went to)

We were absolutely blown away by the band and their overall presentation, even down to the sharply-dressed roadies (initially I thought this was unique to this band, turns out to be customary to all of Mr. White’s bands).

Like THE WHITE STRIPES, this band also has a particular color motif: BlackWhite and  Yellow. Onstage, there’s the added contrast of Blue as seen in my pics below.

One of the best shows I’ve seen in a LONG time (certainly one of my top 10 favorites), and I’ve gone to a LOT of Rock & Metal concerts since 1982.

THE DEAD WEATHER are currently in the process of putting together their sophmore album, which probably will be released sometime this year.

You can check out –

THE DEAD WEATHER website: http://www.thedeadweather.com/
THE DEAD WEATHER YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheDeadWeatherTV

I’ll end this chapter with this humourous interview of the band:



Finally, as mentioned before, Mr. White has started up his own record label that puts out his own groups’s releases, but also is the home to new artists that seem to fit into his music & visual aesthetics.

First, I’m highlighting his Red-headed singer/songwriter/model/wife KAREN ELSON, whom has an elegant countrified voice!

Karen‘s website: http://www.karenelson.com/indexa.html
Karen‘s Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/karenelsonmusic
Karen‘s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Elson-Music/333282147832?ref=ts
Karen‘s YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/misskarenelson

“The Ghost Who Walks” Music Video:

Next up are THE BLACK BELLES, whom look like 4 female versions of Mr. White (in his current DEAD WEATHER mode): dark hair, dressed in all black with a quirky instrument set-up, playing back to basics rock and roll (ala THE WHITE STRIPES).

“What Can I Do” Music Video

THE BLACK BELLES Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/theblackbelles

I believe Mr. White directed the videos for both artists as well as THE DEAD WEATHER‘s “I Cut Like A Buffalo” video, and they all seemed to have been filmed at his record label’s soundstage.

Though currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, I think Mr. White is following in the footstep of his fellow Detroit music icon Berry Gordy of Motown Records and applying his own indiosyncracies to the proceedings, via his label imprint THIRD MAN RECORDS.

Check out –

THIRD MAN RECORDS website: http://www.thirdmanrecords.com/news.html

THIRD MAN RECORDS YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialTMR

Like PRINCE, this man Mr. White doesn’t seem to rest. But before any of us begins to recite this infamous passage from THE SHINING:
“All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy”

… I believe it’s safe to say that Mr. Jack White is anything but dull. Plus, he truly appears to be on top of the world, having a blast sharing his creations with us all.


Thank You For Reading (in Red, White & Black)!!!


2 Responses to “MY RED, WHITE & BLACK THOUGHTS!”

  1. 1 cherylolsontx
    November 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Excellent blog! I love Under Great White Northern Lights, especially the impromptu free shows, the respect they show to the townspeople & Elders, & the balance between raw rock and roll & an almost melancholy sense of destiny or perhaps Karma. What kind of fan am I: I knew nothing about Karen Elson. The music of hers so far, I really like. Thanks!

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