DUTC#12 March 26, 2023

Scary Pockets (S.P.) are a dynamic funk band formed in Los Angeles, founded by Ryan Lerman and Jack Conte. The two are joined by a continuously rotating line-up of quality musicians for their videos and album releases. Ryan Leman spent his twenties touring as a bassist for the American singer-songwriter Ben Folds. He also performed as a guitarist for Michael Bublé and as a musical director for John Legend. The other half of Scary Pockets, Jack Conte, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, and filmmaker. He is one half of the band Pomplamoose with his now wife, Nataly Dawn, leader of the band Magazine, and co-founder along with Samuel Yam of Patreon, which is a membership platform that provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service. It helps creators and artists earn a monthly income by providing rewards and perks to their subscribers.

It is immediately obvious when watching one or more of their videos how much time, effort, and skill goes into their production. They surround themselves with incredible musicians and singers from the L.A. music scene, and the “funky” passion and incredible skill sets are evident in every single performance, whether it is only a few others performing or a much larger ensemble.  One of the things that stands out for me when watching these videos is how, while paying their respects to the original material, they also skillfully make it uniquely their own. They have been touted as the “best cover band ever.” I prefer to be a little less definitive in my assessment, so I would say they are in my top three! The band’s motto is “arrange quickly and simply, have a ton of fun, and be funky.” Check, check, check!

What follows are five unique covers of five disparate artists/groups and genres. The originals represent five musical decades from the 60s to the 2000s. Be prepared to be transported back in time and thoroughly entertained! First up, “I Want You Back,” by The Jackson 5. Seeing an 11-year-old Michael Jackson performing on The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1969 might bring back a memory or two.

S.P. featuring Danielle DeAndrea “I Want You Back” – May 2021

The Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 were an American pop band composed of members of the now infamous Jackson family. The group was founded in 1964 in Gary, Indiana, and for most of their career, consisted of brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael. They managed by their father Joe Jackson. They were among the first African American performers to attain a “crossover” following. In 1968, they signed with Motown, where they were the first group to debut with four consecutive number one hits, including the one featured here, “I Want You Back.”

The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” “The Ed Sullivan Show” – Dec. 1969

Scary Pockets

S.P. “Dreams” Fleetwood Mac – Funk cover featuring Elsie Trouw – Jul. 2020

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac were a British-American rock band formed in London in 1967. They were founded by guitarists and vocalists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Bob Brunning was hired as a temporary bass guitarist before John McVie joined the line-up in time for their eponymous debut album. Danny Kirwan joined as a third guitarist in 1968. Keyboardists and vocalist, Christine Perfect, who contributed as a session musician starting with the band’s second album while she was a member of the band Chicken Shack, married McVie, and Joined Fleetwood Mac as a full member in 1970 and became known as Christine McVie.

Primarily a British Blues band, they had some success with the original line-up, but by 1974 several of the original members had left and subsequent replacements also left or were dismissed. In late 1974 when Fleetwood was scouting studios in Los Angeles, he heard the American folk-rock duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. He asked Buckingham to be their new guitarist and vocalist. Buckingham agreed with the condition that Nicks join as a vocalist. And the rest, as they say, is history. The new additions gave the band a more pop rock sound and their 1975 album, Fleetwood Mac. Their second album, Rumours (1977), from which the featured song comes from, produced four Top 10 singles.

Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” Album Rumours – 1977

Scary Pockets

S.P. featuring Judith Hill “You Shook Me All Night Long” Back in Black AC/DC – Sept. 2018


AC/DC are an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1973 by Scottish-born Australian brothers Malcom (rhythm guitar) and Angus Young (lead guitar). Their music has been described by a variety of listeners as hard rock, blues rock, and heavy metal, but the band calls their music simply rock and roll. The band went through several line-up changes before releasing their debut album, High Voltage in 1975. Band membership eventually stabilized around the Young brothers with fellow Scottish-born Australian Bob Scott (lead vocals) alongside native Australian Mark Evans (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums). Evans was replaced by Cliff Williams in 1977 and has since appeared on every album since Powerage (1978). A short time after the release of their breakthrough album, Highway to Hell, Scott died of alcohol poisoning and the other members considered disbanding. They decided to soldier on and recruited English singer, Brian Johnson, as their new front man. The first album with Johnson, Back in Black (1980), was dedicated to Scott’s memory. It was a huge success, launching the band to new heights and became the second-best selling album of all time!

AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long” – Album – Back In Black – 1980

Scary Pockets

S.P. featuring India Carney “Creep” Pablo Honey Radiohead – May 2017


Radiohead are an English rock band formed in Abingdon, England in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards); brothers Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), and Colin Greenwood (bass); Ed O’Brien (guitar, backing vocals); and Philip Selway (drums, percussion). Their experimental approach to music has led many to say that they advanced the sound of alternative rock. Their debut album, Pablo Honey (1993) contained their debut single, “Creep,” which became a worldwide hit and has been covered by many artists.

Radiohead “Creep” – Album – Pablo Honey – 1993

Scary Pockets

S.P. featuring Therese Curatolo “Happier Than Ever” – Album – Happier Than Ever Billie Eilish – Feb. 2023

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is an American singer-songwriter. She first gained public attention in 2015 with her debut single, “Ocean Eyes,” written and produced by her brother, Finneas O’Connell, with whom she collaborates on music and live shows. Since that release, she has gone on to receive multiple accolades, not to mention seven Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award, to name but a few. Not too bad for someone who will turn 22 this December!

Billie Eilish “Happier Than Ever” – Album – Happier Than Ever – 2021

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Now, For Today’s Lesson…

How many times have you heard someone say: “That’s so ironic?” How many times have you said it yourself? You don’t have to tell me, it’s a rhetorical question! Let’s just say that it is an oft-used phrase along with its oft-used sibling in question form that begins: “Isn’t it ironic…” While there are many, perhaps too many, “ironies” in life, it is also the English language’s most misused and abused word. It has, unfortunately, become synonymous with coincidence, bad luck, and pleasant surprises, none of which are ironic!

The use of irony shows the contrast or incongruity between how things appear and how they are in reality. More precisely, these three definitions will perhaps provide a bit more clarity. Irony, noun: 1. The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. For example: “Don’t go overboard with the gratitude, he rejoined with heavy irony.” This example demonstrates sarcasm, dryness, sharpness, and acerbity. 2. A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result. For example: “The irony is that I thought he could help me.” On display here are paradox, incongruity, and peculiarity. 3. A literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or the reader although unknown to the character. There are several types of literary irony, such as situational, verbal, as well as others. An example of verbal irony can be seen in Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, where he suggests that the way around the famine in Ireland is to have children specifically bred to feed the starving. Of course, he was not advocating for cannibalism, just using irony to get the reader’s attention. I know when I read it for the first time, it certainly got me thinking!

So why this English 101 lecture on irony that, if you’re anything like me, you slept through the first time around? Yes, very good Albert; that is another rhetorical question. You are so close to that gold star! Have you got a minute? Okay, I’ll stop! Over the last few weeks or so I’ve written several pieces for this blog on technology and, more specifically, the somewhat latest attempt to “better” our lives, with Chat GPT, that large language model that you can ask anything…Well almost anything, and it will give you everything from a terse response to an essay on what Dostoyevsky was thinking when he penned The Brothers Karamazov. After writing my missives, I was feeling a little bit guilty that I wrote all this stuff and had not tried the new technology myself, mostly because I thought it would be an enormous time-suck and between, Spelling Bee, Wordle, Framed, Quordle, etc., etc., the last thing I needed was another technological timewaster. But being the conscientious person that I am, not to mention wanting to shed the guilt, I decided to give it a try today, to better understand the workings of this new technology. I logged onto Google, typed in Chat GPT, and then clicked on the appropriate link, which brought me to a page that directed me to click: “Sign up now.” I clicked on that link and there was a slight pause before my screen was showing me a tan-colored page, which had this in the center: A small square box for me to check with text beside it that read, “I am Human.” Yup, a computer generated artificial intelligence was asking me to confirm that I was not a robot! I couldn’t check the box right away, as I had to make an emergency trip to the loo before I pissed myself laughing. Welcome to the “brave new world!”

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Do You Want To Hear What My Body Told Me? Didn’t Think So! (E)

If you chuckled or said “Oy” after reading the above, you are not alone! In the last few years, I have become very fond of uttering that oft heard phrase: “I’m listening to my body,” or telling everyone that I meet: “Listen to your body,” as if somehow, I have found a secret portal that allows me to speak directly to my flesh and bones…if only! And as we all know, “listening” is only 50% of the equation, the other half relegated to actually doing what your body is telling you to do and, perhaps even more importantly, not doing what your body is telling you not to do! Hands up if you have problems with that last one. Yeah, I thought so!

Perhaps a refresher on what all this means is in order. According to the “experts,” listening to your body “encourages an evaluation of what are bodies are holding and gives us clarity concerning what our bodies need.” Listening also encourages an “evaluation of what physically manifests from the emotional, mental, and physical experiences of our everyday lives. Now, all of these will differ for individuals depending on not only your age, but also a varying array of factors taking place outside your bodies, like the type of work you do, family, friends, activities, disposable income, etc., etc. What all of this really adds up to is an inner, reflective activity, a kind of personal indulgence to “get in touch with our bodies.” The first problem with all of this, at least as I see it, is that it takes a great deal of time and effort to do all of this, and when you are working, raising a family, and the many other necessities of your everyday lives then, as we all know, time is at a premium. The second problem is that when you retire and perhaps have the time for these reflexive activities to better understand what your body is telling you, it’s too late! The body that you could have, and most likely should have as you navigate your way through your “golden” years is, unfortunately, not the one you’re looking at in the mirror right now. Sorry, but this is yet another example of one of life’s cruel ironies.

There is a saying that has been around for quite some time, and it goes like this: “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” The phrase has been attributed to U.S. composer Eubie Blake, former baseball player Mickey Mantle, as well as many others. I have been known to use it myself on occasion! Of course, the key word here is “known,” which is exactly why life has often been compared to poker, as in: “Life is like a game of poker. You don’t get to choose the cards you are dealt, but it’s entirely up to you how to play the hand.” While there is a modicum of truth to this, there are times when things are not entirely in your control. The unalterable fact is that everyone ages, unless you have found some magic potion, in which case my number is…

Given all of the above, I thought it might help, perhaps not for us old farts, but those coming up the ranks, to frame the idea of “listening to one’s body” around the following five stages of life: 1. Youth; 2. Teens; 3. 20-30s; 4. 40-50s; 5. 60-70s. There is, of course a sixth stage, but since I am in the later part of stage five, I can only speculate about what’s coming next, and I would prefer not to do that!

Stage: 1 Newborn-Twelve

I highly doubt that in this stage your body is “whispering” to you, but if it is, it’s probably barely audible so you would not be aware of what it’s telling you, especially when you’re an infant and a toddler, and by the time you are a pre-teen, you are just beginning to realize that you might know everything there is to know, so why would you listen to your body?

Stage 2: Teens (13-19)

By the time you reach this age, the “whispering” is becoming a little louder, but you’re a teenager so you really don’t give a fuck! And by some miracle, if you were one of those teens that did listen to the whispering, then you’ll probably live to at least 100! What also needs to be considered at this stage, is that not only are you getting advice from within, but the external advice (which is most certainly ramped up from the previous stage), from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, teachers, and others, which can be overwhelming, so you navigate this endless stream of “do this,” “don’t do that,” as best you can. This does not bode well for listening to what your body is telling you at this point in your life. So, a typical response from a teen to that inner voice would go something like this: “Yah, I’ll get back to you. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Now, what was I doing? Oh right, let’s see if I can make this 100 foot jump onto that trampoline!

Stage 3: 20-30s

By the time you hit your late twenties, early thirties, you can certainly hear the voice quite clearly, and also what it’s saying to you, but by now you have mastered every way there is to simply ignore it and, what it is trying to tell you. Too bad, because this stage is really the optimum time to alter one’s “habits” in order to avoid the “screaming” that is just around the corner. Typically, you hear the voice, you think it might be telling you something important, then you think about it again and ponder whether you should be listening to it or not, and then say: “Nah, I’ll just smoke another joint.”

Stage 4: 40s to 50s

How many of you have heard that wonderful aphorism: “Life Begins at 40?” How many of you believed it? Yeah, me neither! The other, equally nebulous saying is: “It’s All Downhill From Here” and is usually uttered by people over 40 who have long since realized that life certainly DID NOT begin at 40, as the slow march towards stage five begins. By now, that voice is loud and clear, and believe me when I tell you the worst response to what your body’s voice is telling you is: “Yeah. I hear you what you’re saying, and I’ll deal with it at some other time!” WRONG! Now, I realize that some of you might think this is a little harsh painting everyone with the same brush, so in the interest of fairness, for some of you it may indeed be possible to ignore what you body is telling you at this stage of your life. And perhaps you are one of the few that actually listened to what your body was telling you in stage three, maybe even stage two, bravo! But for the remaining 99.9999% of us, welcome to the real world. The world where things that were once a “piece of cake” to do, now require summoning up every ounce of stamina you have left, just to think about doing those things. When you wake up in the morning, instead of leaping out of bed to get ready for that 6 AM Sunday run, (assuming of course that you ever did such a foolish thing!), it’s now 8 AM and all that is going through your head is: “Why do I feel the way I do? Well, I have news for you. You damn well know why you feel the way you do, and it is directly related to two things: 1. You did not listen to your body when you should have; and 2. Your body feels the way it does because of all the crazy shit you subjected it to in the previous stages. So, rather than moan and whine about, get out of bed and walk to get your latte and croissant!

Stage 5: 60s to 70s

Welcome to the “golden years.” I know you were hoping for platinum, but there is also silver and bronze, so let’s just take the gold and run…er, walk! By now that voice is at a decibel level over 500, and when you consider that in an apartment between 7PM and 10PM any noise that exceeds 50 decibels is considered a nuisance, what you are hearing is deafening! And while it may be too late to listen to what it is saying, mainly because it is not saying anything you haven’t already heard, it is most certainly not too late to lead a somewhat active lifestyle, just resist the urge to compare the same activities you did when you were 20, to the same ones you’re doing now at 70! For example, in my 20s I’d ski for 8 hours, and then party all night out on the dance floor, shaking my booty. At 70, I ski for three hours, go home and ice my body, have a late lunch/early dinner, and read for five minutes before falling asleep. Although I have acquiesced to the fact that I cannot ski like I did when I was 20, I have only dialed it back to around 35 because I am a firm believer in that “other” aphorism: “Use It Or Lose It,” and my favorite t-shirt has this to say: “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy Shit…What A Ride!’” So put on that ragged t-shit that perhaps reads: “Don’t Mess With Old People: Life In Prison Is No Longer A Deterrent,” and go for a jog, a walk, a stroll, anything ambulatory, go a little crazy, but remember to later pay homage to the creator of Ibuprofen!

Stage 6: 80s to 90s

Stay tuned!

Los Angeles 2023

DUTC#11 March 19, 2023

The focus this week is the song “Sultans of Swing” by the English rock group, Dire Straits. The band formed in London in 1977 with the lineup of Mark Knopfler (lead vocals, lead & rhythm guitar, producer), John Illsey (bass, backing vocals, producer), Pick Withers (drums, occasional backing vocals), and David Knopfler (rhythm guitar, backing vocals). The band was active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1990 to 1995 with different personnel changes over the years. Only Mark Knopfler and John Illsey lasted from the beginning to the end of the band’s existence. “Sultans of Swing” was their first single from their 1978 self-titled debut album, which was a huge success in both the UK and US.

Knopfler had been playing and writing music for over a decade, making ends meet as a journalist and lecturer before the band’s breakout eponymous album. It was actually produced by Steve Windwood’s less celebrated brother, Muff, and it took months for the album to attract any attention, and “Sultans of Swing” was actually as a single twice before the public finally caught on. The song itself defies, what some would call, the “normalcy” of what a rock song should be. It has four verses, a guitar solo (a pretty amazing one at that), another verse, another solo, almost six minutes long, and has no chorus or bridge. This was almost unheard of at the time. It was this song that literally put the band on everyone’s radar!

Dire Straits sound draws from various influences, including country, folk, the blues rock of artists, like J.J. Cale, and jazz. It was a stripped-down sound when contrasted to punk rock at that time, and it demonstrated the influence of roots rock. Their album releases in order are: Dire Straits (1978), Communiqué (1979), Making Movies (1980), Love and Gold (1982) Brothers in Arms (1985), and On Every Street (1991). Mark Knopfler embarked on a solo career after they disbanded for good and has since declined numerous offers for a reunion. The original is up first, followed by five unique covers that I feel do justice to the song and the band’s legacy. From a solo, Russian pianist to two orthodox Rabbis performing in the streets of Jerusalem, and everything in between. They are in order of the date performed. So, sit back and enjoy!

Dire Straits – “Sultans of Swing” – Album Dire Straits 1978

Ismael Deives

The first cover is by Brazilian guitarist Ismael Deives, who weaves together an acoustic and Cajun spin to the song, which make it different yet the same. He is accompanied by an ersatz drummer keeping the beat on a wooden box, and a rhythm guitarist providing some accompanying vocals, although you only get quick glimpses of them in the video. While this is not the best vocal cover (he is, after all, not singing in his native tongue), the acoustic guitar work is well worth watching, There is precious little information available about this artist, so I will let the guitar work speak for itself.

Ismael Deives “Sultans of Swing” – Cajun & Acoustic cover – 2013

Gat Brothers

I’ve become accustomed to not being shocked or taken aback by things that I see on the Internet, but I must admit to being somewhat surprised when I first clicked on a Gat Brothers video. What I was treated to two orthodox rabbis performing “Stairway To Heaven,” at a mall in Jerusalem! Yes, you read that correctly! Not only were they preforming one of Led Zeppelin’s iconic songs, but they were also, in my mind, actually killing it.

Aryeh and Gil Gat, otherwise known as the Gat Brothers, The Breslov Boys, and even to some as The Amazing Rabbis, created a stir when they appeared on Israeli TV’s talent show, Rising Star, in 2013 where they performed Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “Sounds of Silence.” After that performance, they covered many other iconic songs from the past, such as: “Hotel California,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Heart of Gold,” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” to name a few, at various locations in and around Jerusalem.  There are also videos of them on YouTube singing their traditional songs in their native tongue. Enjoy!

Gat Brothers “Sultans of Swing” – Live Streets of Jerusalem – 2015

Mary Spender & Josh Turner

Mary Spender is a British singer-songwriter, guitarist, and YouTube personality. Spender writes and performs original songs, and her guitar style has been described as “crisp,” while her songwriting is seen by many as “confessional” and “sultry.” Her YouTube channel is themed on music and music technology, and has included interviews with guitarists KT Tunstall, Jen Majura, Reina del Cid, and others. She has also appeared on other artists YouTube channels in a collaborative effort, including Josh Turner featured in this particular cover

Josh Turner Guitar is a multi-instrumentalist (acoustic guitar and electric guitar), singer, songwriter, and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. Joshua Lee Turner is best known for his YouTube channel, Josh Turner Guitar, where he posts eclectic cover songs and original music since he started the channel in 2007 at age 15. His guitar covers range from rock, R&B, bluegrass, folk, jazz, classical, pop, indie, blues, etc. Josh now tours internationally in support of his own original music, as well as with long-time collaborator Carson McKee, as the folk duo The Other Favorites. In 2020, Josh released Public Life, his second full-length album of original music. He can also be seen collaborating with other artists on their YouTube channels, such as the example below.

Mary Spender & Josh Turner – “Sultans of Swing” – 2022


The Hindley Street Country Club is a cover band from Adelaide, South Australia, formed in 2017 by Constantine Delo and Darren Mullan. Widely regarded by their fans as the “greatest cover band in the world”, the group has achieved a staggering quarter of a billion views on their official YouTube channel, which now has almost 600,000 subscribers. For more info see DUTC#10. What amazes me the most about this cover is that if you close your eyes, you might feel that you’re listening to the original!

The Hindley Street Country Club (HSCC) – “Sultans of Swing” – 2022


Russian pianist Alexandra Kuznetsova, who goes by the artist name Gamazda, was born in Moscow in a family of musicians. She began to playing piano at the age of 3. In 2014, she graduated with honors from the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory and is a laureate of all-Russian and international competitions. In 2019, she created her YouTube channel, Gamazda. What is characteristic and quite unique about Gamazda is her proclivity of covering rock songs – something usually not expected on the piano. However, she is amazingly skilled at it and excites a lot of fans with her covers. Therefore, it is not surprising that she has so many followers & listeners across many different platforms.

Gamazda “Sultans of Swing” – Piano cover – 2022

Los Angeles 2023