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"Ripped" by The Tooners

The Tooners | Ripped Open
This is a work of fiction loosely based on the short story, Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving.

The Tooners 10 song soundtrack to the tale of Rip Van Winkle!
Read book & listen to soundtrack here:

BUY the CD-RP and book here:
Only $14.99 … an original, unique gift!

- aspiring to recreate a “Disney” style animated movie if produced by a NeoClassic Rock Band.

The TOONERS' The Haight CD

Last year, 2017, Greg Piper of The Tooners and I decided to put together a set of songs we could play on acoustic guitars and get some gigs playing coffee houses because we were bored and our drummer moved to Idaho. Going back through Greg's cassette collection of songs he recorded as demos for our old band Womanizer back in the 80s, we noticed that if put the songs in the order in which they were written, the ten songs that were originally rejected by the band for being too "soft" (romantic), actually did a real good job of telling the story of Greg's early relationship with his future wife. It seems he tended to write what he was going through at the time, his personal journal, and he and Jacki's meeting, romance and breakup, before reconciling two years later. After we released his songs as his solo CD by Gregory Shane Piper, called "Born To You", we went through both of our old song collections to see what else we could rerecord and press up before we forget about them entirely.

What we discovered listening to these old songs, some dating back to our high school years, is that they divide into two very separate categories. The first category consists of songs inspired by New Wave bands such as Elvis Costello and The Knack who had very catchy, Sixties British Invasion style Pop Rock but with very sexual and subversive lyrics. In the Sixties lyricists had to put their nasty jokes and sexual innuendo "between the lines". In the Eighties they were the lines. Our New Wave / Hard Rock band, Womanizer, specialized in "naughty" songs although we always felt they had a sense of humor about them. The other group of old tunes could only be categorized as odd. These were our "arty" tunes that tended to be a bit more experimental musically, and lyrically unique. Most of them didn't fit in with our live set although we did release three as singles with animated videos over the years and four of them were included in our live multi-media stage show, Rock & Roll Rehab.
 We decided to take these oddities and put them together in an album of their own. When we did this we discovered something very similar to the Born To You album; they appeared to tell a story. When we recorded The Tooners' Rocktasia CD we were aware that each of the songs illustrated a different emotion, anger, fear, love, lust, grief, etc. With this new collection of old songs it seems each song is about a particular belief and together they tell the story of one man's spiritual journey through life, told backwards. 
There are two ways of telling a story. Imagine you meet someone on the street you haven't seen since high school and he asks you to tell him what you've done since then. You can either start at the beginning and tell him what you did right after you saw him last and progress forward to the present time or you can tell him what your situation is like now and then tell him what led to that, and what happened before that, and what led you to that situation, and so on. Telling a story backwards has one advantage in that it has a definite ending which is actually its beginning. Telling a story from the past to the present only presents a temporary finish since it will continue on into the future, hopefully.

And so our new album, The Haight, is a story told backwards. Mainly because the music flows better with the songs in this order. The inspiration for the record comes from a book I wrote a while back called The Haight.

I had what I thought was an interesting idea concerning religion and I wanted to express this idea but who am I to espouse a philosophy? I'm a cartoonist, animator and rock musician, why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? But maybe if I didn't say it, maybe if someone else, someone more interesting, said it people might like to hear it. I thought of the various context in which these ideas might be expressed, naturally, and I decided these thoughts could best be expressed by a stoner. That way if he seems too far out it's simply because he's tripping. Also, my friends and I, although a few years too young to have been actual hippies, were of that mindset and totally into the cultural scene as it was happening back in 1967. I may have been a junior high school student and living in Los Angeles at the time but I was also a guitarist in an "Acid Rock" band, an Underground cartoonist and psychedelic poster artist. My friends and I all played in Rock bands, had long hair, wore Beatles boots, corduroy flares with wide belts, Cossack shirts and lovebeads. We were what was called "Weekend Warriors". And so I wrote a book of fiction, semi-autobiographical, about a group of hippies living in Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love called The Haight.

The Tooners' The Haight CD HERE.

My fascination with hippies goes back to the actual hippie movement and decades before I wrote the book I wrote a song about an old hippie looking back at the hassle his parents gave him when he wanted to visit San Francisco on his summer vacation from school. This is one of the old songs we decided to include on the new CD and I renamed it The Haight as it also seemed to tell the story of the main character in the book, told from his perspective of being much older and remembering his youth. The following is the "story" of the CD The Haight.

#1. NOTHINGNESS - This song starts the CD and begins the character's reminiscence. He is a grandpa now, fifty years since The Summer Of Love, and is tucking his young grand daughter into bed for the night. As did his parents, and a lot of parents in the 1950s, he recites a popular bedtime prayer; "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take". What an awful thing to make a child say before going to sleep! "If I should DIE before I wake!" But to his surprise this prompts the little girl to ask him a question, "What happens to me when I die?" Although this is a common question young children have, it catches him off guard as he believes that is something her parents or clergy should be asked. He blurts out an answer that he himself hasn't ever fully realized he believes. A question that is at its basis; is there a survival of personality and awareness after death or is there nothing after death? His spontaneous answer is that Consciousness did not evolve from physical reality, as we're taught in school, but that Consciousness creates physical reality. As author Eckhart Tolle says, paraphrasing Seth in the Jane Roberts books, "You can't lose your life, you are life". To his amazement the little girl seems to instantly grasp this concept, a concept he himself doesn't fully understand fifty years on, when she uses video games as an example. This was the song I initially wrote to express this idea before I wrote the book and it has since been developed as a concept called Biocentrism.

Now let's go to the last song on the CD and progress forward. This is going forward in time according to the story but backwards according to the song order.

#9. THE HAIGHT - In this song a man is remembering the time when he told his parents he was going to visit San Francisco for his summer vacation in 1967 and their surprisingly extreme reaction. His adventure in Haight-Ashbury begins his lifelong spiritual journey. This song represents Utopian-ism.

#8. I'M HIGH - Apparently his parents had something to be worried about. In this song he discovers psychedelic drugs which open his mind to deeper realities. This song represents Shamanism. See the I'm High video HERE.

#7. THE CATACOMB - Shortly after the Hippie Movement of 1967 and perhaps in some measure because of it, Christianity developed a youth movement known as the Jesus Freaks. Many young people, like our hero, looking for answers, turned to mainstream religion in the late 1960s and early Seventies after drugs proved not to be an answer but indicated that a deeper knowledge is available. The early Christians were similar to the Hippies in that they were both seen as a group persecuted for their beliefs and driven underground for their safety. The Hippie term "underground" as applied to the press, music, film, etc. is derived from the early Christians being forced into the catacombs under Rome for protection. Literally "underground". This song represents mainstream religion, particularly Christianity.

#6. I WISH YOU'D LOVE ME - Although it sounds like a love song it could be about a girl's devotion to a religious leader such as Jesus or a cult leader of which there were many in the Sixties and Seventies. Our hero is getting disillusioned by religion at this point mainly because of what he sees as mindless adoration for "leaders" especially when they infringe on his own would-be relationships. This song represents cults and hero-worship.

 #5. SEANCE - Rejecting mainstream religion leaves a spiritual void and with psychedelics proving there is in fact something out there, our hero sees Spiritualism as a more direct and personal connection to the eternal. This song represents Spiritualism

#4. GROWING OLD - Eventually the system of science and modern Humanism fights back and any notion of an afterlife, alternative dimensions of reality or Heaven and Hell is dismissed as old fashion superstition. However, between the personal, subjective mystical experiences our hero has already had in his life thus far and the bleak, depressing reality Humanism offers, he chooses to venture on. This song is about Humanism.

#3. FAITH HEALER - The New Age Movement began in the Sixties with the promise that modern science and technology wouldn't disprove religion or render it obsolete but rather would prove its validity by proving its concepts and beliefs scientifically. Although that promise still holds true, the "truth" is, as to be expected, extremely complicated and difficult to comprehend. The New Age Movement soon resorted to the usual dogma and ritual to which other religions de-evolved. Instead of the years of study necessary to understand the concepts behind the New Age Movement, one could simply wear a crystal necklace or a pyramid hat. It became like mainstream religion when it reduced Transcendental Meditation to simple prayer, mantras became hymns and to be a "Christian" meant going to church and giving it money. Today, to begin to understand the concepts behind the original New Age Movement, one would need to take graduate courses in Quantum Physics. This song is about our hero's ultimate disappointment in the New Age Movement.

#2. DRAWINGS FROM MY MIND - After decades of Spiritual adventurism our hero comes to understand that although what one's religious beliefs are is extremely important, personally, as such believes greatly influence our own perceived experience such as expecting to go to a Heaven or a Hell, ultimately the TRUTH is the TRUTH. It may be a arduous journey having to navigate through our own preconceived beliefs but eventually what will be, will be. Eventually the monk sitting on a mountain top contemplating his own navel will, if he does in fact achieve self realization, realize that life is not meant to be spent on a mountain top. As bleak, dangerous, depressing, fruitless and meaningless life may appear at times, it's supposed to be experienced in its fullness. The meaning of life, what the reason is for virtually ANYTHING that happens to us, good or bad, is for one reason; TO SEE WHAT WE'LL DO. Our hero's grand daughter is right. We're like characters in a video game. We are ultimately here to play the game, to have the experience that is our life, NOT to figure out how the game is programed or how the computer works. This song represents the state of mind of someone who has learned that eventually the journey leads to a destination and that destination is to be fully focused in the HERE and NOW. It is every day reality.

These songs are written by Neal Warner (Nothingness, Faith Healer, Seance, The Catacomb, I'm High, The Haight) and Greg Piper (Drawings From My Mind, Growing Old, I Wish You'd Love Me) and performed by The Tooners: Greg Piper, Neal Warner, Buzz Brissette, Jerry Strull and Pat Mehan with Susie Piper, Al Weiss, Michael Montrose, Gareth Fishbaum and Davey Justice.


Welcome to Rock & Roll Rehab's area dedicated to ANIMATED ROCK AND ROLL.
Some of the music videos presented here were created by The Tooners, others are ones The Tooners just really like.

Written and directed by Neal Warner
Song by Greg Piper
Recorded by The Tooners
Available on The Tooners' ROCKTASIA CD on iTunes

Written and designed by Corey Harris
Produced and directed by Neal Warner
Song by Corey Harris
Recorded by Womanizer on PaperCuts Records


Written and Directed by Neal Warner
Music by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and Greg Piper 


GORILLAZ - Private Jet
Gorillaz is an interesting concept in that the cartoon band is not based on any real people. Are they called Gorillaz because a previous made up band was called The Monkees?


Send Love Through - Rock And Rule
This 1983 animated film had music from Debbie Harry of Blondie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop who also did character voices.

We would also love to add clips from The Beatles' Yellow Submarine, AHA's Take On Me, Prince's Rasberry Beret, The Firebird Suite - Fantasia 2000, The Rite Of Spring - Fantasia, Ravel's Bolero from Allegro Non Troppo, 
PINK FLOYD - Goodbye Blue Sky, and some others but we're not allowed.

Here Are Some Illustrated Classic Rock Lyrics As Original Paintings:

Posters available here
Framed fine art prints here 

Posters available here 
Framed fine art prints here

The Byrds' 5D (Fifth Dimension)
Posters available here
Framed fine art prints here 

Gregory Shane Piper's US TOGETHER

Gregory Shane Piper's new single is a Modern Rock / Alt song called Us Together. Written by Piper and recorded aboard a cruise ship, it is an infectious, up beat tune full of sonic layers and unexpected twists and turns. Very electronic, unlike his Born To You CD of acoustic songs, with neo-psychedelic guitar work and lyrics that might be described as "cosmic".


No Time To Die (Lyrics Video)

THE CATACOMB (Lyrics Video)

SEXIST (Lyrics Video)


I’M HIGH (Lyrics Video)

NOTHINGNESS (Lyrics Video)

GHOST SONG (Lyrics Video)

FAITH HEALER (Lyrics Video)

SIDESTREETS (Lyrics Video)


I GET SHY (Lyrics Video)

Hail The Rock & Roll Band (Lyrics Video)

Punk Opera (Lyrics Video)

Unborn Baby (Lyrics Video)



WOMANIZER is the title of the debut album from L.A. Hard Rock band WOMANIZER. It's a title and a band name that may not seem much in style right now with the term often being used to describe the sort of man that women in the millions are currently protesting but that doesn't bother the band. Womanizer isn't a new band and at one time their name was viewed as ironically humorous. But times have changed. And how.

The lead off single from the newly remixed and remastered ten song CD, Pictures Of You, is about a man whose childhood next door neighbor was the apple of her father's eye. A great deal of his childhood memories are of the photos her doting dad took of the two of them. It seemed only natural that the young beauty would grow up to become a model, appearing in fashion magazines before destiny, bad luck and a slumping economy directed her into the Porn Industry. It is a tale of an earlier age with references to "a theater, all night arcade" when you had to venture out to sleazy book stores that had video booths in the back if you wanted to view pornography rather than in the comfort of your own home and the Internet.

The next tune on the CD is titled Sexist and at first listen may seem a bit unsavory as well but it is actually a rather sweet idea about a man who views his life as a series of relationships with women that he cherishes. Some men recall the various chapters of their lives by remembering what kind of car they owned at the time, or where they lived, or what job they held while some men view the different periods of their lives as a series of their love affairs. The character in this song is done playing the field and has settled down with one woman but still keeps all the others alive in his heart. Is that being sexist?

Fire Up A Boogie is an instrumental that refers both to smoking a joint and to the basic musical style. Several of the songs on WOMANIZER have a Boogie-Woogie, Swing Music vibe to them along the lines of early Aerosmith or ZZ Top. This is definitely an American band. The marijuana reference is appropriate as the band has built a cult following by performing in underground 420 clubs referred to as "Smoke-Easies" and have been featured in Freedom Leaf Magazine, The 420 Times and Vegas Cannabis Magazine.

WOMANIZER review video for the reading impaired.

Mass Murder Man, along with the song Sexist were described by BAM Magazine as "entertaining, energized Pop Metal". Mass Murder Man is another example of WOMANIZER's bad timing as the recent mass shooting has attached a connotation to it that was not intended. Originally a comment on the Punk Rock scene that in the affluence of Hollywood seemed to be populated by rebels without a cause, it now is viewed as a commentary on gun violence.

Going from the frying pan into the fire we have Sidestreets, a saga that is clearly about gang violence that exists purely for the thrill of the kill. This track sounds like a movie that you watch when you close your eyes.

As a palate cleanser we next have Tough Love, a not too romantic ballad about a love gone bad. This is one of the CD's poppier numbers and one to which you could actually dance.

Never Have & Never Will is a theme song for all the musicians out there, like the guys in WOMANIZER, who have chased the Rock & Roll Dream only to ultimately discover the real success was in experiencing the journey itself.

True Love is the other "love song" on a CD that otherwise is a bit cynical. It also shows some of the band's more psychedelic influences.

The emotional peak of the album is the David Nigel Lloyd penned tune, Machine Gun Danny. It's the comic book style tale of a robot (android) that is a political assassin and uses being a Rock & Roll star as his cover. Imagine if Ziggy Stardust was a robot. And killed people. Times have changed.

As a grand finale which feels like an encore, the eight minute epic Ghost Song closes out the CD in a very satisfying way. The song was written by the late poet Don Coorough and like the man himself, depicts the road the music has been on since the start of the album as ending in a dramatic and tragic manner. The extended guitar solo in the middle of the song which was always a staple of the band's live shows, is now less a guitar solo and more of a guitar sound collage. A mantra of interweaving electric guitars that defies concentrating on any one riff but becomes an hypnotic tapestry of sound which takes the listener right up to the edge before returning to the cinematically dramatic, yet melancholy ending. 

WOMANIZER is available on iTunes, Amazon and virtually everywhere the Internet may take you. Pictures Of You can also be heard on Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius XM Radio starting in February, 2018. Enjoy the trip.

This Is Not Dying

Ever stay up all night tripping on shrooms, having deep, insightful conversations until the sun rises and said "I wish we had made a movie of all this"? Don't bother, Wendy Morrison has done it for you.

This Is Not Dying is a ninety minute movie described by Wendy, a well known Los Angeles musician and songwriter, as being without a genre or category. But having spent as much time as I have around filmmakers, there is definitely a category for her film and it's the Art/Experimental/Student category. Okay, I guess it's not that easy to pin down but my impressions of it that I got while watching the recent screening held at the California Institute Of Abnormal Arts is that its stream of consciousness, psychedelic minimalist plot is in the same basic mode of Easy Rider, Two Lane Blacktop, The Trip and long form music video. One of the things that makes this film seem the work of slumming professionals rather than students or tripping old hippies is that the production quality is relatively high. It was shot in HD by a real cinematographer and the main actors all seem confident and experienced in front of the camera. 

This Is Not Dying review video for the reading impaired.

Outside of maybe some of her band's music videos, I don't know how much time Wendy herself has spent in front of the camera but her screen presence and confident acting chops can't be denied. Whatever aspirations she has as a filmmaker, she should really consider a professional acting career. I'll be even more impressed if I could be allowed to read the script from which she was working. It's in the nature of the story that much of the dialogue may have been ad libbed and if that is the case then I am much impressed with her acting ability. If, however, the actors were speaking the lines from the script verbatim, then This Is Not Dying could be viewed as a great actor's demo reel. Everyone involved should be proud, I know how difficult it is to produce a 90 minute film that actually looks like a real movie.

Shaniah Page and the Mysterious Boy

I was recently sent the new video from "Country/Indie Pop" singer Shaniah Paige who was named after Country singer Shania Twain who was named after "Country" writer Mark Twain who was named after newspaper editor Samuel Clements so you can tell right away I know what I'm talking about. Shaniah is currently a college student which is to say she's not a professional singer, yet, but has worked with multi-platinum music producer Andrew Lane (High School Musical, Hannah Montana), who produced her first few singles so she has some musical miles on her already. Perhaps Lane saw another Hannah Montana, aka Miley Cyrus in her but thinking that leads down a dark road.

Before I venture down that road I'd like to mention that young Shaniah is from Monmouth, Il, and has recorded her Country inspired Pop, not Country or Pop Country, with multi-Grammy winner Larry Beaird, was named Fresh New Face of Country Music by Renegade Radio Nashville and signed a record deal with Heart Songs Records. She's performed at CMA Fest and opened for Stella Parton at BB King's, Nashville, Granger Smith, Love and Theft, Walker McGuire and Morgan Wallen.

In her new video, "Mysterious Boy", Shaniah comes off as the All American Girl Next Door, pretty, vivacious and reminiscent of a bygone time. Portrayed as a waitress in a roadside diner hearkens back to the "Happy Days" of juke boxes, 45 RPM singles and sock hops. It also recalls the melody line of the chorus of TLC's hit, No Scrubs and goes nowhere we don't expect it to go. For someone with one foot in Country Music she sings without the requisite Country accent and the only real nod to country is the pedal steel and the Telecaster lead fills on the track. The song sounds like a Pop singer forced into cowboy boots. Perhaps her road to stardom is the Taylor Swift Trail.

Shaniah Page the way she looked when we first saw here. Sigh!

Now to get dark, not because I'm geared to look in the shadows but to see what may be coming in order to best prepare for it. We've seen this all before; the pretty young girl who wants to be a "STAR" and has people, certainly well intentioned, behind her. She's recorded professional, well produced material and obviously has a professional PR firm behind her. Her target audience at this point is the girl she used to be, young pretty and interested in music. She looks to Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears not only for entertainment but for fashion, make up and dating tips. Therefore, following the formula already well established, she has one of three routes; go more Country. Taylor Swift and other young, pretty Country stars stay relatively fresh faced but although there's been more of a merger of Country and Pop and Rock since Garth Brooks, Country is still a pretty exclusive club and pretenders are not easily welcomed. Shaniah, at this point is very much more Pop than Country and this may force her onto one of the other two paths eventually. The next path is the Brittany Path; exploit your youthful good looks and natural sex appeal. It's a rather distasteful path but one that can lead to major success for someone who may need that little extra push off the cliff when the singing/acting/dancing/writing chops are only just okay. Barbara Streisand could stay "Funny Girl" for most of her career but she has an exceptional singing voice. She also had a pretty unique personality. The last path is to get yourself noticed by taking the Freak Show Path. Miley and Stephanie were talented but nondescript entertainers until they started letting their freak flag fly. Miley shed her Disney Hannah Montana persona and then her Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter label by geting bizarre looking as did Stephanie when she became Lady Gaga. Before you think this is being sexist and saying men don't have to exploit their sexuality or become side shows to become successful take a moment and think about David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Marylin Manson, Kiss, virtually all hairspray metal bands, Ozzie Osborn, Iggy Stooge, Arthur Brown, all the Emo, Goth, Metal, Psychedelic and Glam bands......

Relevant Noise of the Night Herons

Boy, it's hard to keep a band together these days. This band from Oakland, California, The Night Herons consist of Dana Berry on vocals, guitar and drums, Mike Assenzio on guitar and Larry Huene on guitar and drums but Larry's already left the band to move to Chicago. And then there were two...

A heron is a bird, like a kind of stork, and I guess a bird's gotta fly. That's a shame because The Night Herons' new 15 track CD, Relevant Noise, sounds like they'd be a fun live band. The simple guitar, bass and drum sound is clean enough to let the lyrics cut through while hard enough to let you know these guys started in a garage somewhere in Oakland and have no intention of flying too far from that Bay Area (Moby Grape, Blue Cheer) vibe. With two drummer/guitar players swapping instruments throughout both their CD and live shows, they have twice the variation in sound with half the personnel. A straight ahead guitar rock band.

The Night Herons' press kit refers to the "social content" of their lyrics but to be honest I usually space out to the music and can't understand most song lyrics anyway so I'll have to take their word for it. Besides, at my age I really am not looking for young rock musicians to set my political priorities for me. I just wanna dance. Okay, I can't dance either but I do appreciate a guitar solo now and then as well as some nice harmonies and Relevant Noise has both. And despite the CD title and their self description as raw sounding garage rock they really are a very tight, relatively clean sounding three piece with some vocal work that borders on pretty. Good hooks, melodic melody lines, pleasant vocals and simple production puts this into the 90s rock bag along with The Foo Fighters, Weezer and their ilk. 

Night Herons perform Bad Idea at their record release party at the Ivy Room on August 19, 2017. From the album Relevant Noise. Band members: Dana Berry gtr/vox, Mike Assenzio lead gtr, Larry Huene drums, Brad Assenzio bass & Dave Leonard tamborine.

You can thank (or blame) Dana Berry for the production. His press kit takes pain to point out his problems with alcoholism. The song Let Me In addresses this problem but I personally don't really appreciate something like that being something of note in a band's bio. Most bands can put addiction to something in their bio but I would like to think they have something else that makes them unique. I know plenty of people who drink too much but that doesn't make them interesting or their music something special and as someone who has had to work with folks who expect special treatment due to their problem I suppose I'm a little irritated by the subject.

Night Herons should probably play up their playing and songs more than their nasty personal habits since it's their music that's what's really entertaining about them. In a past age these guys would probably be heard on Modern Rock radio but these days young musicians can't come to you via the airwaves, you gotta go seek them out. But how can you do that if you don't know they're out there to be discovered? Oh yeah, that's right. That's what blogs like Rock & Roll Rehab are for. Silly me.