MdK – The Heart of Rock and Roll is Still Beating

Mdk  Band Members
The Bay Area has been home to many top rock and roll bands. From Jefferson Starship/Airplane, Santana and Journey, to Metallica, Green Day and Train, this area has been a hotbed of rock talent. With such a rich and treasured past, could MdK, a band consisting of four teenagers from the I-680 corridor, be the next big thing?

MdK originally consisted of Matt Salavitch (bass), Keller O’Rourke (drums), Nick Hays (lead guitar) and Tyler Stimspon (lead vocals and rhythm guitar). The boys met while participating in the Grizzlies Jazz Band at California High School and formed MdK roughly fourteen months ago. Since then, it has been a whirlwind adventure with this young band accumulating accolades and notoriety along the way. Recently, the band replaced Tyler with Kyle Paquin of Pleasant Hill. Kyle (19) graduated from College Park High School in June and will be heading to Diablo Valley College this fall.

MdK is a fresh mix of alterative, pop and classic rock along the lines of Good Charlotte, All American Rejects and Yellowcard. Their debut CD, Its Never Over, released in January of this year by R-Tist Records, is a powerful collection of high energy songs with great hooks, catchy lyrics and solid musicianship. When I sat down with Keller (18), Matt (16) and Nick (18), the boys had been in the midst of a two hour, mostly instrumental, rehearsal where they played a new song for me entitled, Left Side. “We’re working on an edgier, more mature sound,” says Keller, who the guys admit is the strongest musician in the band. Keller and Nick write a majority of the band’s songs. Nick explained, “As we get older, our lyrics take on a deeper content.”

Like most successful bands, each member of the group brings something unique to the table. Keller, also a freshman at DVC this fall, is very much into the sound and technical side of the music—not a big surprise since his dad is the band’s sound technician. Matt, a high school junior, is the charismatic outgoing one in the group. He is the best athlete and student within the MdK ranks and understandably gets most of the female attention with his muscular frame and charismatic smile. Nick, a senior, is much more serious and intense. He has “old soul” rock roots (Brad Gillis of Night Ranger is a close family friend) having been raised around musicians his entire life. Kyle, is the new kid on the block. He brings a dynamic change of pace to the MdK lead singer role. His strong vocal chops and vivacious stage presence should appeal to the band’s existing fan base and industry insiders evaluating the group’s potential.

While the guys admit there are the typical minor band disagreements, they all count on each other to make the group stronger as a whole. “We are always trying to perfect our playing and expand the sound,” says Matt. At the photo shoot, Kyle joined the band for two numbers, The Concert Song and Montana. Having just seen the band at the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival, I can already tell the band’s sound is maturing.

When asked what their goals are and how they would define success, Nick explains, “Making it” is what it’s all about. “We want the big fan base, big gigs, a big CD release with national airplay and video rotation.” “We want to play great music,” Matt states. “We want to be EPIC and get our music heard”, Keller adds. A definable goal is to play the main stage of the WARPED tour. This is another reason for the harder edge sound that the WARPED tour is known for having showcased bands such as Fall Out Boy, 30 Seconds to Mars, Simple Plan and Paramore, to name just a few who have headlined the festival over the years.

The boys of MdK plan to accomplish this feat with the help of their team which consists primarily of their parents. In additional to Keller’s dad, Cameron, handling sound and the website, Matt’s parents handle logistics and the band’s nutritional regimen, and Nick’s mom, Danielle, is the group’s Manager. “The parents have handled the business end of the band to allow the boys to focus on the creative process. We have goal setting sessions, planning meetings and the guys are learning more and more about the music industry a little at a time,” Danielle says. For their part, the boys appear to be sincerely grateful. The band has also added seasoned Road Manager Jesse Battle. Jesse has a long and storied history working with bands such as Journey, Eddie Money and Y&T.

While the band has already appeared on Television twice, it was a gig at a Youth to Youth Conference that they all agree has been the best experience so far. “There were over 600 people at the show and it was crazy,” Nick tells. “The boys hung out for close to 90 minutes after their set signing autographs,” added Danielle.

Keller says for now there is no Plan B. “We are going to give it everything we have and hope this all comes together.” The guys seem more than willing to make the sacrifices needed to crack the big time. The devote two hours daily to rehearsal. “It’s no worse than playing high school sports,” Nick says. Matt adds, “We don’t feel like we’re giving anything up. Our lives are very balanced.” Keller adds that playing every day with the band and getting to play live shows is worth all the practice. However, “Nobody likes lugging gear,” Keller states, although Danielle is quick to point out that the parents are usually performing roadie work while the guys usually interact with fans after a show.

Having followed the Northern California rock music scene for most of my life, MdK impresses me as a band with all the potential in the world. Matt, Nick, Keller and Kyle exhibit the type of heart and dedication needed to make it in the music industry today. The boys are poised to make their mark soon, having verbally committed to play at the NAMM show, taking place in Anaheim next January. NAMM is one the largest music product trade shows in the world, drawing over 90,000 attendees annually. It’s a good bet that with the team they’ve assembled and the contacts they are accumulating, the big time may not be far away. Given the chance, you may want to say, “I saw MdK live when they were first starting out.” In 1984, Huey Lewis and the News (another band hailing from the Bay Area) released the song The Heart of Rock and Roll is Still Beating. MdK is living proof that the heart beat of Bay Area rock music is alive and well.

MdK will be headlining Crow Canyon Rocks, a concert benefiting the Discovery Counseling Center of San Ramon Valley, on September 23rd at the Crow Canyon Country Club. For show details and ticket information visit the Discovery Center website at www.discoveryctr.net/fundraiseringevents/mdkconcert.html.

Do You Have a “Love/Hate” Relationship With Food?


If so…you’re not alone. Many of us habitually eat unhealthy foods in order to offer our taste buds immediate gratification and pleasure—while attempting to “push down” uncomfortable emotions (such as anger, sadness, or fear). Although our unhealthy eating behaviors may take the “edge off” momentarily—continually eating in this way often adds an additional source of emotional pain in our lives…as well as physical pain in our bodies.

Experts in health care repeatedly warn us that obesity is reaching epidemic proportions—and is a known cause of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. A recent CNN Health article states that more than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat. Do you ever wonder why a nation such as ours—filled with so many intelligent people—is continually giving in to extremely unhealthy food choices?

Maybe our confusing “love/hate” relationship with food has a physical component in addition to an emotional component. For example, according to the former U.S. Food and Drug Administrator, David Kessler, M.D., foods high in sugar, fat, and salt alter the brain’s chemistry by creating a release of powerful chemicals, such as dopamine and natural pain-killing substances called opioids. Surprisingly, these are the very same chemicals that are released when people are addicted to alcohol, cigarette smoking, drugs, and gambling.

Addictive cycles can result due to “cue-urge-reward” patterns. And let’s face it; in our lives today there are no shortages of extremely seductive food “cues” that result in “urges” (aka: cravings). Most of us are bombarded with unhealthy food cues and temptations every day and evening—via the media or a well-intentioned family member or our work environments.

If we continue on the “cue-urge-reward” path and we succumb to the “urge,” then the so-called “reward” phase follows when the dopamine and opioids are released…offering us a mood alter. For this reason, when our behavioral patterns become conditioned responses to cues (or stimuli)—such as foods high in sugar, fat, and salt—then the biological circuits of our brains are altered. This pattern of eating unhealthy foods can lead to a frustrating and confusing…love/hate relationship with food.

Unfortunately, countless prepared foods sold today are loaded with this “tantalizing trio” of sugar, fat, and salt. Sadly, many of us are ingesting these foods at the expense of our health…and our children’s health.
While small amounts of sugar, fat, and salt in our diets are necessary, high doses can trigger chronic compulsive and emotional eating. Since we now know that our brain circuitry is physically affected and altered by eating foods high in sugar, fat, and salt—it’s no wonder that many of us feel powerless when a food craving hits…and hopeless when it comes to losing weight.

Can you relate? If so, just know that your relationship with food is NOT a lost cause. When I work with weight loss clients, I offer various mind-body tools that include educational, cognitive-behavioral exercises, and self-hypnosis. Cognitive behavioral exercises teach my clients how to observe, measure, and modify their unhealthy behaviors, whereas, self-hypnosis offers a relaxed, focused state where unhealthy conditioned responses can be addressed at a deep, unconscious level—below the surface.

And, here’s some GREAT NEWS: According to clinical studies1, when self-hypnosis was added to a weight loss program that utilized cognitive behavioral exercises—the resulting weight loss more than doubled. These clinical studies also showed that the positive effects of self-hypnosis increased over time—which indicates that long-term maintenance of weight loss is strengthened by the use of self-hypnosis.

So, if you’re ready to interrupt your own “cue-urge-reward” patterns—that relate to foods high in sugar, fat, and salt—then take the first step onto a solid weight loss path…and contact me. I will teach you cutting-edge tools that will help to propel you away from a love/hate relationship with food. Then you can begin moving toward your goals and transform hope-LESSness…into hope-FULLness.
1 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 64, No. 3

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Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD Set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight. Her artwork and personal profile are included in Outstanding American Illustrators Today 2. She is the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. She soulfully shares her creative approach to personal growth and passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or info@TrinaSwerdlow.com.

Seventy Years Ago – When Planes Flew into the Rising Sun

On December 7, seventy years ago, at 0600 hours on a Sunday morning, the first wave of 40 Japanese Nakajima B5NZ torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 dive bombers and 92 high altitude bombers flew into the rising sun, their wings blazing iconic red suns. They droned over the Pacific Ocean towards Hawaii to bomb the U.S. Navy’s fleet of the mightiest warships on ‘Battleship Row’. At 0753 hours came the second offensive wave; 170 aircraft, mostly torpedo bombers, attacked the anchored ships. Among the nine destroyed battleships was the USS Arizona, pierced by bombs in the forward ammunitions compartment, blowing apart the ship within seconds, on fire, burning, sinking to the bottom, entombing 1,117 men.

In all, nine battleships were destroyed; however, aircraft carriers were miraculously unscathed. Twenty four Japanese pilots were assigned to target battleships along Ford Island on the eastern side of Pearl Harbor—twenty one struck intended targets, strafers and dive bombers eliminating 423 U.S. combat planes on Kaneohe, Ewa and Hickam airfields. Five attackers diverted to the flagship California moored in the F-3 slot along Ford Island’s eastern side and nine struck the Maryland and Oklahoma in outboard positions near the Tennessee and West Virginia. Astern of the Tennessee lay the Arizona; the repair ship Vestal alongside and last in line was the Nevada at F-8. The moored ships clustered in Pearl Harbor almost equaled the entire Japanese fleet, and their decimation was the sole mission of Japanese attackers.

The Pennsylvania was dry docked in the Naval Yard, the mighty Enterprise was en route from Wake Island, the Lexington was ferrying aircraft to the Saratoga, and the Colorado was stateside for repairs; those ships were spared the Pearl Harbor attack.

“Air raid…Pearl Harbor…this is no drill!”—alarms blared as planes strafed dependents housing area and blew up trucks to hinder evacuations. The strategic Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station was hit twice—Lt. John Finn firing at low flying planes, and dying from shrapnel, protecting the fuel farm at the navy yard. A gunner reported making eye contact with a pilot, dodging tracer bullets as low flying strafers bombed munitions magazines.

The surgical aerial attacks sent five burning battleships beneath the waves—entombing dying men and heavily damaging the rest of the fleet trapped by flames and black smoke— burning fuel and floating fires billowing to the skies. On that fateful December morn, the ‘day of infamy’ 3,500 Americans died; a brutally poignant harbinger of what was yet to come, foreshadowing that the dawn surprise attack was just the beginning of a long-grinding war machine.

The Japanese Empire attacked the sovereign shores of Hawaii and the United States Naval fleet to prevent interference in their plans for expansionist conquest. They had succeeded in killing and maiming thousands of Americans, decimating the United States fleet and combat planes, but they were not prepared for America’s resolute determination to win; the power of patriotic cohesiveness and the iron will to deter the enemy—and then the ultimate act that was to end the war in the Pacific in 1945.

The Japanese were already expansionist aggressors in search of raw materials and oil, the reason they occupied China in mid-1937—the siege of Nanking, the harshest of the occupation. To replenish their fast-dwindling resources, they desperately schemed to seize the mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia leading to island-hopping battles in the Pacific Rim. Trade was halted with Japan in mid-1941 and by November the U.S. anticipated a Japanese attack on the Philippines, Indies and Malaya. The United States, neutral until that point, did not consider that such surprise attacks could succeed on Hawaiian Island bases—the naval solar plexus of the body America—the dominant battleship fleet in Pearl Harbor. America entered the war.

The fateful raid on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Empire, was one of the great defining moments in history, the catalyst that sparked the United States to enter World War Two—the conflict with Japan and Germany that ultimately lead to over fifty million deaths,  civilian and military, in the Pacific and European theatres of battle. The empirical Japanese had succeeded in decimating the naval fleet, but they could not have foreseen how the American Navy, Army and Army-Air Force could forge such fierce battles, and with an unfaltering stalwart determination to win, finally terminate the interminable war with the ultimate, ostensibly essential act in August 1945. The B29 Enola Gay flew on a momentous mission over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, that not only ended the war, but set the world on a proliferate course of no return.

DANVILLE MAN TELLS OF PEARL HARBOR

Herb Jorgenson was a 3rd class petty officer on the U.S. Honolulu in December 1941. He had gathered confidential intelligence reports to burn in the incinerator and left his ship. When he heard the planes, he rushed back to his ship and then came the bombs. Today, 92-year-old Herb Jorgenson tells of his experience as an eye witness to the Pearl Harbor bombing with detail, recalling each moment of that fateful morning and his years in the U.S. Navy.

The sounds and smell of burning fuel, the flames and the smoke are still poignant memories. “The Honolulu was hit, I survived.  For two weeks we went out in small craft and picked the floating dead from the sea, it went on for days…the admiral could not get our ship under way…”

Herb was shipped to Melbourne, Australia in the 7th Pacific Fleet, and was part of the U.S. Missouri taskforce that pushed to the Philippines. “After the war in the 1950s, I was stationed at the Yokosuka Navy Base of the 7th Fleet with my wife and two sons. We went to school and learned Japanese. I remember a lot but my sons have forgotten it all,” Herb chuckled, as he spoke Japanese to prove his point. He explained his mission as staff at the strategic Yokosuka port, spider-webbed with tunnels, bombed in 1942 by the Doolittle raiders, and years later the American naval base during the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts.

I made a point to thank the affable nonagenarian Herb Jorgenson for his service to his country.  Herb still has the enthusiasm and energy of a perennial navy man; he volunteers at the Blackhawk Museum as an archivist of automobile literature—Herb knows all about ships and cars—just ask him. He is at the museum most days when the doors open.

GROUND ZERO—HIROSHIMA

In the early morning hours airplane engines droned above the clouds. There was a loud noise, fire, then concussion waves of boiling debris. A cloud of dust, as if erupted from a violent volcano, reached to the sky—a stem of debris that billowed up to the shape of an umbrella—a canopy that hovered over the port of Hiroshima and forever becoming the iconic symbol of atomic destruction. The delivery of the atomic bomb was the eleventh-hour act that ended the war with Japan.

Takashi ‘Tommy’ Tanemori was eight years old on August 6, 1945, when he saw the white bright light flash, and then felt the heat burn his skin. The boy was within a mile of ground zero when planes flew over Hiroshima, air raid sirens blaring, and loudspeakers announcing an attack—too late to get to underground shelters, the bomb fell, a crater tore up the ground, bodies flew in the air, others caught fire, screaming, then silence. It was just after 8 o’clock in the morning, the day that the world woke up to new weapons of war—weapons of mass destruction.

The Enola Gay and two other B29 bomber aircrafts, carrying heretofore unknown destructive payloads were vehicles of last resort, the single most-desperate act to end the war with the Japanese Empire. An atomic bomb was dropped on the Hiroshima naval shipyards, a city of 500,000 citizens and 40,000 military personnel and then later Nagasaki. Japan was aware of the possibility of an invasion and civilians routinely rehearsed drills to practice the killing of Americans. They were also forced never to surrender and live by their code of honor yamato damashi—to die before capitulating. On August 15, 1945, nine days after the bomb drops, Emperor Hirohito announced on the radio that Japan had capitulated; surrender was the only option—the nation relinquished yamato damashi.

Tommy Tanemori, now blind, lives in Lafayette, and a book of his life story tells of his experience when the bomb fell on Hiroshima and his life in Japan and America. The story of Tanemori was brought to life by John Crump, the senior editor of Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness spending two years weaving the story, weaving Tommy’s raw words of narration into a concise tapestry of extraordinary events. Tommy Tanemori, raised under the Seven Codes of the Samurai, was orphaned, oyanashigo, his family dying from radiation exposure and the yurei survivors—living ghosts wandering in Hiroshima. His sisters had survived in Yoshida; the Imperial Military Power of Hiroshima had announced that all third grade students must be evacuated to preserve the seeds of future generations.

Tanemori, at eighteen said sayonara to Hiroshima and immigrated to America in 1956. Years later he wrote of the ashes of the Hiroshima horror, and being a subject of a radiation study in California. He felt resentment and revenge at the loss of his family and found solace in putting his thoughts to paper. Today Tommy tends to his garden and teaches his family peace and harmony and the ancient ways of the Samurai.

John Crump who masterfully edited the 507-page book is a journalism and history major, a former television host and producer of the Silicon Valley Report on KTEH who was responsible for the weekly news and analysis of Silicon Valley events and other technology regions. In the 1980s John Crump was a KNTV news reporter and presently teaches at the Tech Academy of Silicon Valley.

To obtain a copy of Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness by Takashi Thomas Tanemori and John Crump, go to; jcrumptvp@earthlink.net.