Monthly Archives: April 2013

Musta Got Lost: J. Geils Band Embroiled in Lawsuit

By Matt Robert
Written for “Transformations,” the W.P.I. alumni magazine, to accompany an article on members of the J. Geils Band that attended W.P.I. in the 1960s. The article never appeared.

Despite the serendipitous meeting of John Geils Danny Klein, and Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz as young coeds at W.P.I. in the late 1960s, perhaps the members of the band now wish that they had attended law school instead. The legendary good time party band set out looking for a love, but, like many who make it big, has found that love stinks and that maybe one-time friends really do look at the purse.

A lawsuit, filed by the sanctuary-seeking Mr. Geils, charges the other band members (including his former college mates) for performing under the band name – his name! – without him.

“The simple back story,” says Mr. Geils’ attorney, Chuck Grimes, a specialist on intellectual property rights, “is that Mr. Geils was born and raised with this name, J. Geils, and in 1967 he started performing under the name, and started a group, The J. Geils Blues Band,” which, he says, has “always been known as the J. Geils Band.”

“And now,” Grimes adds, “the other fellows got the idea that they own the name, not Mr. Geils. As you can imagine, that was rather disconcerting to Mr. Geils, and that they would go so far as to – frankly – interfere with his efforts to perform as himself – never as the J. Geils Band, but as himself.”

Adding insult to injury, Geils felt, the other band members “took upon themselves to…appear…without him in an Adam Sandler movie [Grownups 2. Adam Sandler is reportedly a big fan], and now they’re on tour as The J. Geils Band without him [the band embarked on the “Houseparty 2012” tour in late August], and they’ve never done that before.”

Everything had been a house party, according to Grimes, throughout the ‘70s, until the band experienced big-time success with the release of a string of gold records, beginning with 1978’s Sanctuary and climaxing with 1981’s massive pop-crossover Freeze Frame, which reached #1 in the U.S. and went platinum. That’s when they met with a Detroit Breakdown, he says, and advisors were brought on board to form a corporation and coerce group members into signing shareholders’ agreements.

The other band members now contend that Mr. Geils, in signing the agreement, ceded rights to the band name, which Grimes says is not so.

“A shareholder’s agreement doesn’t transfer rights from Mr. Geils,” says Grimes. “It says that we’ll operate together as shareholders.” The trademark, he says, is the linchpin and the prevailing legal factor. “It’s his name! He has the trademark rights in it,” says Grimes.

Grimes sees it as an open-and-shut case for Geils, citing that, upon registration of the band name by the remaining members the U.S. Patent/Trademark office asked, “‘Is this the name of a living individual? Do you have his consent to register his name?’”

“Could there be any more clear indication?” Grimes asks.

Grimes remains unsure how long the litigation will drag on, whether it will ever go to trials, or whether band members will play together again. He says that it depends on “how much bad blood” remains among band members “when all of this clears.” Overall, though, he says he just wishes that everybody could “figure out a way to play nice in the sandbox.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Local Bands

Latino Film Fest Returns to Worcester

by Matt Robert
This article originally appeared in the March 27, 2013, Worcester Magazine.

“We are very proud of our 18 years as we thought it would not last more than three,” says Dolly Vazquez, of Worcester’s Centro Las Americas, about the 18th Latino Film Festival, which runs April 2 through April 7, at Clark University’s Cinema 320 in the Jefferson Academic Center, and College of the Holy Cross’ Seelos Theater in the Kimball Dining Hall.

Despite the group’s cautious initial hopes, the festival has grown into a local tradition for a cadre of area students, film buffs, and the Latino community, and this year will present six films beginning on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m at Clark with the 2011 Argentinean comedy “Mi Primera Boda” (My First Wedding), and ending on Sunday, April 7 at 4 p.m with the 2011 Cuban comedy “Juan De Los Muertes” (Juan of the Dead), also at Clark. Inbetween, the colleges will play host to films on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of that week, at a variety of times, from the 2008 Mexican-American sci-fi film “Sleep Dealer” and Uruguay’s 2009 “Mal Dia Para Pescar” (Bad Day to Go Fishing), to the 2011 Argentinean comedy “Un Cuento Chino” (Chinese Take-Out).

Admission for the films is $6 for the general public and $4 for students with a valid I.D. and senior citizens. Additionally, the lone film at Holy Cross, the Thursday, April 4, 4 p.m. showing of “Sleep Dealer,” is presented free of charge and will include a live conversation via Skype from Los Angeles with the film’s director, Alex Rivera.
“Eighteen years ago Centro Las Americas decided to present a series of Puerto Rican movies and I asked the help of Clark University’s film professor, Marvin D’Lugo, to help organize it,” Vazquez says. “Over the years other colleges have joined in, so this year we have Centro, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, WPI, Assumption College, and QCC.”

“That first year we called it the Puerto Rican Film Festival,” she says. “But the following year we realized that Puerto Rico did not have a big enough film industry and that Centro represents a broader spectrum of Latinos than those from Puerto Rico, so we started calling it the Latino Film Festival.”
“The highlight every year is that people can see films made in Latin America that otherwise they might not see in big theaters,” says Vazquez, “and to engage Spanish students of the participating colleges in an exciting learning experience. Because all films have English subtitles, we want to offer the English speaking audience an opportunity to see films by Latin American countries. We also succeed in uniting Latinos and Anglos in appreciation of Latin-American culture.”

As for the audience attracted to the festival, Vazquez says that “the festival is open to the public in general and we get a big mix. The regular audience of Cinema 320 usually also comes to our films as well as students from the various colleges and a wide collection of friends from the community.”

Vazquez sees dual goals for the festival. “It is a combination of showcasing Latin films as art, but also to get a cross mix of audience together,” she says.

“Without the collaboration with all the colleges involved,” she adds, “this festival could not happen.”
Find the schedule of films at

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Writing on Survival Skills: Michael Tougias’s 19th Book to Be a Disney Film

By Matt Robert

Michael Tougias (“Toe-Giss”), of Plymouth, Mass., has penned 19 books on the outdoors and history, and, for his last five, focusing on “true survival at sea,” he says. He has been in the area lately presenting his latest program, “Survival Lessons: Peak Performance Under Pressure,” a “kind of a fun little side thing” he says of his work researching and writing on ocean rescue and the range of survival skills he sees as being applicable to everyday life.
“The business program I put together – I just did it for Raytheon – it’s a presentation for companies that, say, they are having a sales meeting or something like that,” says Tougias. “And I do a one hour kind of a keynote presentation using slides about what I learned from survivors, people who shouldn’t be on the planet, but, somehow, got through their ordeal.”

The program, he says, demonstrates “techniques they used to overcome these incredible hurdles, and then how they could be applicable in our daily lives when they’re faced with a real challenge.”
Tougias traces his writing origins to the early 1990s and to freelancing for Worcester Magazine, where he wrote a series of articles about “lesser known outdoor spots” in central and southeastern Massachusetts.
“At that time I had done a couple books,” he says. “I was living in Franklin (Mass.) and I was doing a lot of hiking in Central Mass. I was working in the business world and one day did my very first story – it was a little story about the Charles River, and when that got published, a little light went off that said, ‘Hey! This is more fun than business.’”

From there, Tougias “moonlighted as a writer for many years and then segued out of the corporate world. I went part-time at a business job and parttime as a writer. And since six years ago I’ve been full-time.”
“I was always a big outdoors lover,” he says. “What changed my career path was this book called “Ten Hours Until Dawn” (published in 2006 by St. Martin’s Press). It’s about a survival-at-sea rescue story during the blizzard of 1978 (off the coast of Salem, Mass.). I was given an audio tape of what the men said onboard the boats that were in distress that night, and, boy! It sure got my attention. I said, ‘What a book this would make!’ So, I hit the brakes and changed focus.”

He now boasts a full-time writing career, a host of awards, a March 15 feature on ABC’s “Chronicle” and an upcoming appearance on 20/20 (date to be announced), the former for his insights into a Gulf Stream rescue in which several individuals were lost, and the latter for his general accumulated expertise on ocean rescue.
“The story on ‘Chronicle’ is about a brandnew book of mine titled ‘A Storm Too Soon’ (2013, by Scribners), and the subtitle tells it all: ‘A true story of disaster, survival and an incredible rescue.’”
“The 20/20 interview was different,” says Tougias. “They had me talk a little bit about ‘A Storm Too Soon,’ but they were more interested in some of the survival lessons learned that I used in that talk for businesses. They’re doing a show called ‘Saved,’ about different survivors, so they had me as the kind of the expert on [it], so we did a lot of taping down in New York. I don’t know when it’s going to run, though.”

And if that isn’t success enough, “The Finest Hours,” the 2009 book Tougias co-authored with Casey Sherman, has been picked up by Disney and is slated for production.

“They’ve gotten over the first hurdle of turning the book into a screenplay,” he says. “Disney representatives were down there scouting it out and I had dinner with them. They were looking over the potential sites.”
That book, on which the film is to be based “was about a 1952 rescue off Cape Cod. It’s one of the largest rescues in Coast Guard history. You had two giant oil tankers split in half on the same day near the same location. The Coast Guard was totally overwhelmed and they didn’t have the helicopter rescues back then.”

While Tougias says that “those same skills that I used in the history books helped here,” he says that writing these last five rescue books “is a lot more fun, because you’re interviewing people, not archives.”

“For example,” he says, “today at four o’clock I have an interview with a C-130 pilot, who found the sinking Bounty. That’s the next book I’m doing, about The Bounty sinking in Hurricane Sandy [in October, 2012].”

Visit to learn more about Tougias’s books, to check the dates for upcoming television appearances, and to find the location of an upcoming talk in Massachusetts or Connecticut.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized