Using Music to Heal in Uganda, Africa

Posted by admin on June 11, 2012 in Health, Rock and Roll with Comments closed |

It has long been known that there is a direct coorilation between music and the powers music has to help heal the human body.  Ancient Egyptian healers built special temples designed for the sole purpose of healing the Egyptian population.

In Uganda, Joey Blake an associate professor at Berklee College of Music and Kim Thuita are making a difference in the culture, by bringing the healing powers of music to bear in a positive effort to unite the community.

Using Music to Heal


It is a Tuesday night at the Kigali Serena Hotel, and Joey Blake is serenading the waiter with his dinner order. “I would like some pork chops,” Blake croons into the microphone. “Pork chops, please, some pork chops.”

As the waiter takes down Blake’s order, a growing audience fills the hotel lounge and multiple voices begin to clamor. “‘Ladies’ Night’, Joey! Play ‘Ladies’ Night!’” says one fan. “Do ‘September’!” demands another.

It is 11 PM and Blake, an associate professor at the Berklee College of Music, has already performed the “last song” of the evening four times. Still, Blake winks at pianist, Kim Thuita, who responds with a head shake and a laugh. Moments later, the opening beats of ‘Ladies’ Night’ immediately rouses cheers and audience members stand and push aside chairs and tables for an impromptu dance party.

The informal jam session at Serena Hotel on May 29 marked the end of an eventful and music-filled four days in Kigali, during which Blake led music training workshops to patients of WE-ACTx (Women’s Equity and Access to Care and Treatment), a medical organization in Rwanda that provides medical treatment, psycho-social care, legal and work counseling to over 3500 patients.

The workshops followed-up on Blake’s first trip to Rwanda – and Africa – three months earlier as an ambassador for Musicians without Borders (MwB), an NGO that uses the power of music to bridge divides and heal communities in areas torn by war. In February, the multi-talented artist, who has recorded and produced five albums with ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin, already knew he would return to Rwanda.

“I grew up as a child admiring Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi – these people who were ambassadors of peace and harmony and community,” says Blake. “Music was my way to find a way to create something like that in the world.”

Blake makes a statement – not just with a voice that is as silky smooth as it is rhythmically percussive – but with a lifelong dedication to promoting harmony and changing the world through music.

“For me, music is a way to communicate with people: a way to lift the spirit,” says Blake.

At Blake’s music workshops, youth leaders at WE-ACTx took turns practicing and then teaching the musical skills they had gained. As the designated teachers introduced concepts and led singing activities, other youth leaders participated as hypothetical students whose antics frequently disrupted lessons with hilarity and laughter.

“Knowing some of the things that [these patients] are going through with their personal lives, it’s inspiring for me to see their enthusiasm and their pride and strength,” says Blake.

Umutoni Nadine, one of the youth leaders at WE-ACTx, smiles when she talks about how music has changed her life. “Music has helped me to forget about the bad things I have to go through and to be happy,” says Umutoni, 18. “It’s important for me because I want to know it and I want to teach other kids.”

Sustainability of the music training, however, is a key focus of MwB as it moves forward with the program, says Danny Felsteiner, project manager of MwB. “One of our main goals is to create a strong network of local musicians and organizations, and to train the youth leaders not only to do music, but also to coordinate and manage parts of the program,” says Felsteiner. “Based on our experience in other countries, we’ve learned that without building local capacity that can support durability and sustainability, projects cannot succeed.”

To that aim, MwB has formed partnerships with local musicians and institutions. In addition to the connection with WE-ACTx, MwB has also gained support from the Kigali Music School and three local musicians – Aline Gahongayire, Moise Mutangana, and Kim Thuita – who will continue the work in between the training weeks when the MwB team is not in Rwanda.

Back at Berklee, Blake has started an organization called “Singing Tribe” that uses music to connect and build communities. Blake hopes that the Singing Tribe will be able to visit countries like Rwanda to create partnerships with local organizations and even develop scholarship programs that give talented local musicians the opportunity to attend Berklee. The Singing Tribe also serves as a model – a microcosm where people from different backgrounds and nationalities can come together in mutual appreciation of music.

“There’s 25 of us from fourteen different countries,” says Blake. “We’re enjoying and sharing music together – there’s no reason why the world can’t do the same.”


Joey Blake and Kim Thuita are showing that there is hope for healing and the health of nations with peace, love and understanding.  And of course Music!

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Experimental Diabetes Drugs Offer Future Hope for Suffering Patients

Posted by admin on June 10, 2012 in Drugs, Health with Comments closed |

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have grown to epidemic perportions around the world.  Major drug manufacturers have finally begun focusing on this health issue that has been ignored for so many decades.  The change in diet for much of the world has contributed greatly to the rise in this desease.


What snapped this epidemic into focus for the “Deans of Drugs?”  Why the new “green light?”  When the drug manufactures saw tens of millions of new customers to sell to, and a new market opening in the eastern world where the bad eating habits of the westerners’ are being mimicked, they geared up R&D in their labs quicker than you can say hypoglycemia!


Experimental diabetes drugs offer patients hope

Results from studies of several new diabetes medicines and insulin products, just announced at the premiere U.S. conference for diabetes specialists, likewise hold the promise of billions in annual revenue for drugmakers that have dominated the diabetes market and for others breaking into it. They have been presenting their data at the American Diabetes Association conference, held in Philadelphia from last Friday through Monday.

Until the last decade, relatively few companies made treatments for diabetes, a chronic condition in which the body either does not make enough insulin to break down the sugar in foods or uses insulin inefficiently.

Now many more drugmakers have jumped in, as the number of American diabetes patients is about 26 million and growing fast, and there are tens of millions more in Western Europe, China and India.

That’s because the global obesity epidemic has caused a similar explosion of diabetes cases. About 95 percent are Type 2 diabetes, usually related to being overweight and sedentary. Type 2, once called adult-onset diabetes, now is also being diagnosed in adolescents, just like insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes.

Both types can cause early death or devastating complications — blindness, amputations, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and more — when too-high blood sugar steadily damages organs and blood vessels.

Roughly $200 billion a year is spent on treating diabetes and indirect costs such as missed work and premature death, according to the diabetes association.

Last year, U.S. spending on diabetes medicines among insured patients for the first time exceeded spending on cholesterol drugs, according to Express Scripts, a top prescription benefit manager.

“We expect the key diabetes brands and markets to exhibit sustainable high-single-digit growth,” reaching about $54 billion a year by 2020, Jefferies & Company analyst Jeffrey Holford recently wrote to investors. He cited an aging Western population, more health care use and adoption of Western diets in emerging countries, and increased use of new treatments and combination therapies.

Holford expects Denmark’s Novo Nordisk AS to remain the top diabetes company by revenue but Eli Lilly and Co. of Indianapolis to overtake France’s Sanofi SA as the No. 2 player by 2017.

Among other research, the conference highlighted promising new treatments likely to be approved in the next few years:

—Novo Nordisk on Friday reported on results of degludec, its ultra-long-acting insulin for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Its yearlong, 1,030-patient study compared degludec with Sanofi’s Lantus, the world’s top-selling insulin. Degludec reduced low blood sugar during the night, when it’s most dangerous, by 36 percent and also reduced severe hypoglycemia significantly, compared to Lantus. Those problems occurred less than once in a year in both groups of patients, though.

Novo also reported on other studies finding that because degludec is active in the body for more than the standard 24 hours for long-acting insulins, patients can maintain good blood sugar control even if they don’t take it at the same time every day. The Food and Drug Administration was to decide whether to approve U.S. sales by June 29, but just pushed that back until Oct. 29 to allow more time to review data.

—Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Research unit presented five late-stage studies on its daily Type 2 diabetes pill, canagliflozin, part of a newer class of diabetes drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors. They work primarily by increasing how much glucose is excreted in urine. One yearlong study found it reduced long-term blood sugar levels, called A1C levels, and also helped patients lose much more weight than Merck & Co.’s blockbuster pill Januvia. Januvia is in a class called DPP-4 inhibitors, which increase the body’s release of insulin after a meal.

Another study similarly showed canagliflozin decreased A1C levels and body weight significantly more than Sanofi’s diabetes pill Amaryl. J&J applied for U.S. approval of its drug on May 29.

—On Sunday afternoon, Eli Lilly and partner Boehringer Ingelheim of Germany released results from two mid-stage studies of their new short-acting insulin, known as LY2605541. In separate studies comparing it to Lantus, it was slightly better at reducing blood sugar levels in Type 1 diabetics and about the same in Type 2 diabetics. In the eight-week Type 1 study, patients getting LY2605541 lost about 2.5 pounds on average while those on Lantus gained 1.5 pounds. Weight changes were similar, but smaller, in the Type 2 study.

LY2605541 still must go through late-stage testing before approval can be sought.

—Other companies were presenting data on an experimental patch to deliver insulin pain-free and two devices in early development that would work like an artificial pancreas, monitoring blood sugar continuously to help control when an insulin pump releases the hormone into the patient’s blood.


Linda A. Johnson can be followed at–finance.html

We’ll keep an eye on the testing and progression of these new medical advances.  In the meantime, knock off the fast food and empty-neutrition in-between-meal snacks.  Drink more water, and get some exercise.  Like the man said “Just do it!”

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1st Day of May

Posted by admin on May 1, 2012 in Michigan Rock, Rock and Roll, Uncategorized with Comments closed |

Some people celebrate Cinco De Mayo – I celebrate the first day of May.  I do it by playing this song from the 1960s by a Michigan band named “The Frost”.  I play this song every year (at least for the last 15 years or so) on May 1st.  It’s just something I do.  It reminds me of days when life was simpler, and music had some kind of magical power over the audience.

If you want to hear ‘First Day of May’  try looking on youtube.  To buy it, look for this song on iTunes, or dig through your old LPs.  If you’re lucky it’s there.  If you’re not so lucky, you can also go to Dick Wagner’s official site at || The Official Dick Wagner Website and buy a copy there.

The Frost consisted of 4 players – common in a Rock band.  The drummer was Bob Rigg.  On bass you had Gordy Garris.  Don Hartman filled the spot of Rhythm and some of the Lead Guitarist.  Dick Wagner was the primary guitarist of The Frost, and while having limited success with this Michigan-based Rock N Roll band, went on to bigger and better things with the likes of Tina Turner, Lou Reed, Ursa Major, Alice Cooper – penning such songs as ‘Only Women Bleed’ and ‘Shine Silently’ both of which have been covered by many artists from Tina Turner and Nils Lofgren to Elkie Brooks and Ray Hamilton Orchestra where ‘Shine Silently’ “shines” once more on the disc ‘It Takes Two To Rumba’.

‘The Frost’ was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame In 2008. A great honor for the sometimes forgotten, but non-the-less great ’60s Rock Legend group!
Here’s a thought for you:
***Play this song at least three times on every May first, and receive good fortune all year through, and a big smile on your face each time you listen to the simple lyrics that intoxicated and inspired one teenager in 1969…  You can find more information about ‘The Frost’ at Wikipedia The Frost – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




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It’s a great new year – It’s 2012!

Posted by admin on January 9, 2012 in 2012, Holidays with Comments closed |

It’s a great new year – It’s 2012!  Yes, it’s finally here!  The year the Mayan people threw in the towel and said “Im done – I’m tired of making calendars.  Let’s go get a beer!” I guess it had to happen sometime.

A lot of people think this is the last year of the world – the end of all time – the end days.  But, why now?  Why in my lifetime?  I mean, I’ve been a good guy.  I’ve paid my bills on time and been a decent father to my kids, and a good mate to my – er, mate.  Couldn’t the Mayans have put the ‘end of the world as we know it’ off for maybe another couple of thousand years?  Maybe even just a few hundred years? Would it have killed them to continue the calender even if their heart wasn’t in it?  Ya know, to give us new-age earthlings a handful more of generations of carbon-based humanoid life forms.

Okay, I think I can hear someone out there saying “yea, give us some more time to destroy ourselves with nuclear holocaust.” See, and that’s just the attitude that keeps us all in despair.  I think the world’s population is on the brink of a golden era. A time of great peace and joy.  A season of prosperity unlike any other in recent, or even distant history.  “Let the sun shine in!  Open up your heart and let the sun shine in – sing along with the fifth Dimension!” , isn’t that how the song goes?  Something like that anyway.  I always had mixed feeling about that song, but I’m diggin’ it more now than ever before, because it is so uplifting!

That’s what we need more of in the world.  We need positive expression.  We need to release our inner happiness to the world.  What’s that you say?  Maybe there isn’t a whole lot of ‘positive’ to go around these days? Well, I think there is.  I believe we just need to express it more openly, and more often.  If everyone would turn off the damn TV - stop listening to the hate mongers on the news, and begin interacting with their fellow man/woman, I believe the true joy within us will become so evident that it will be undeniably overwhelming!  If we all start tuning out the television’s negative message of gloom and doom, and tune into our family and friends and neighbors, we will see that we are a much happier civilization than we are told by the media.

Maybe the Mayans just got fed up with the work involved making that calendar, and decided to rejoice in the beauty of the day.  Bathe in the wonderment of the ‘now’, and let distant future generations wake up, and realize that they need to do the same.  Maybe “happy is what happy does.” Maybe 2012 is the new beginning we all have needed – it just took the ancients to open our eyes to the joyful life we all should be living! Anyway, that’s my ’2012 new years wish’ to the world.  Keep lettin’ that sun shine on in…

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Happy Holidays From Sex Drugs ‘n’ Rock and Roll!

Posted by admin on December 26, 2011 in Holidays with Comments closed |

In this season we all take time to reflect upon the special moments that make up the world we live in.  Our successes and our sorrows, our laughter and tears.  It is a time to look back at our periods of growth and stagnation and analyze the impact on our lives.  My wish is that there has been more growth in your life than the year before, and that you can point to positive lessons learned that will bring about a brighter future for you and your family!  Have a safe 2011 holiday season and get ready for one hell of a 2012!


Kim Jong Il Rest In Peace

Posted by admin on December 19, 2011 in Politics with Comments closed |
Kim Jong Il as a younger man

Kim Jong Il as a younger man

Today, Kim Jong Il died at the relatively young age of 69. The son of Kim Il Song, founder of the communist nation, Kim Jong Il took over the rains of power in 1994 when his father died of a heart attack at age 82 – 13 years senior to the number of years of Kim Jong Il.  Being the leader of the Korean people for the last 17 years, he controlled the fourth largest army in the world.  No small feat.  This takes years of military and political training and a diplomatic mind filled with a lifetime of experience.  The successor to Kim Jong Il is believed to be his 3rd son Kim Jong Un – believed to be under the age of 30.

Kim Jong Un at a recent parade

Kim Jong Un at a recent parade

What were you doing when you were 28 or 29?  I know I wasn’t gearing up to run a dictatorship.  I was focused on my sexy wife, my work and rock and roll – which was my work at the time. Yes, I played in rock bands ever since high school.

So what do you think Kim Jong Un is thinking about?  I’m sure he is morning his father’s death, but he must be thinking along the lines of any healthy 28 year old, and probably petrefied about taking over the fourth largest world power as figurehead.  Who wouldn’t be?

I can only hope that Kim Jong Un has been influenced by rock music (or any music for that matter – except Rap, because that is not music…), in a positive way.  If Kim has let Led Zeppelin into his life we have less to fear from him than his father.  If he has embraced the words of the Beatles “All you need is love”, or John Lennon’s “Imagine”, the world is a gigantic step closer to world peace, and the people of North Korea are in for a bright new uplifting life of freedom!

I wish Kim Jong Un well as he grieves for his lost father, and given his youth, pray that he makes a wiser, more reasonable and compassionate leader than his father.

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The Last of the Two Step…

Posted by admin on November 11, 2011 in numbers, Uncategorized |

Well, it’s here! The last of the binary dates!  No more 01/01/00 or 01/10/00 or 01/11/00 or 10/011/10 or 10/10/10 or 10/11/10 or 11/10/10 or 11/01/11 or 11/10/11 or 11/11/11.  Not even 00/00/00 or 01/01/01 ya know, like back in the day…

So enjoy the day.  Enjoy the date. The last binary date of our lifetime (unless you become cryogenically or cryogenically frozen or hop in a time machine and head to the distant future or the not-so-distant past).  The process of cryogenics, by the way, was founded in Detroit in 1966 by Ed Busch. He called his company CryoTech. Ed’s background was in heat treating of all things! He was all into keeping the hot side hot and the cold side cold.  Talk about a reversal of interests!  One could truly say this guy went from hot to cold!  But, I digress…

Anyway – the next binary date will be… 01/01/00 as in the year 3000!  I don’t think we’ll see that one.

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Very Sexy Dates! The Last Binary Dates of our Lifetime!

Posted by admin on November 10, 2011 in numbers, sex with Comments closed |

Today – 11/10/11 – is one of the two last days in our lifetime that calculates into a binary number!  Tomorrow 11/11/11 will be the last in our lifetime!

Today 10/10/11 converts from binary to decimal as the number 59.  How about that!  However, tomorrow 11/11/11 will not be 60.  No, no!  Too easy!  It will be 63!  How so, you ask?  Well, it’s like this…

Binary counts from right to left as the factors multiply by 2.  To the far right is the one’s column, followed by the two’s column to the left of the one’s column.  With me so far?  The column third from the right is the four’s column followed by the eights’, sixteens’ and thirty-twos’ in that order.


01 = 1
10 = 2
11 = 3
100 = 4
101 = 5
110 = 6
111 = 7
001000 = 8
010000 = 16
100000 = 32



Now, go forth and multiply!

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Sex, Drugs ‘N’ Rock and Roll

Posted by admin on November 10, 2011 in Uncategorized |

Sex, Drugs ‘N’ Rock and Roll. When you really think about it, that pretty much covers most topics in life doesn’t it?  I mean, most anything in life can be linked in one way or another to those three topics.  Sex is most often thought of as the act of coitus or congress between a man and a woman.  Drugs congers up all sorts of images of illicit drugs from marijuana to coke to LSD and heroin.  Rock and Roll needs no explanation really.  Although difficult to describe exactly, in todays world it is any anti-establishment music designed to make one feel happy or express oneself in a rebellious way.

In a broader sense though, Sex, Drugs ‘N’ Rock and Roll can mean anything having to do with either sex; for example anything from clothes styles to male and female habits and traditions to roles in society between men and women.  Drugs can also mean pharmaceuticals or in a very broad sense homeopathic remedied possibly based in old wives tales or ancient remedies.  Rock and Roll can be any progressive musical form from any era couldn’t it? Who’s to say J.S. Bach wasn’t a Rocker at heart in his time?

Yes, a lot of ground can be covered by Sex, Drugs ‘N’ Rock and Roll.  And, in this blog, I intend to do just that!  You may be surprised at what you read under the guise of Sex, Drugs ‘N’ Rock and Roll, but I guarantee you’ll not be bored!

Hey There!

Posted by admin on February 20, 2010 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

Welcome to the world of sex, drugs ‘N rock and roll!  I hope you enjoy what you read.  Got a comment?  Send it our way.  It’s all good!

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