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10 March 2008 @ 02:03 pm

Hello. My name is Stephanie Ellis-Johnson. I am James Power’s Contracts and Legal Affairs Manager. I asked James if I could have this opportunity to use his blog to address something near and dear to both our hearts. Something that unfortunately underscores how thick-skinned writers and performers such as James must be in order to survive in today’s music business.


Each year an organization called the Tipperary Peace Convention Ô, located in Tipperary Town, County of Tipperary, Ireland (whose stated goal is to promote “Peace through Music, Song, Discussion & Debate”), holds a contest for the annual ‘Song of Peace’. Entrants are asked to send in “a song of Peace, Love and Harmony, about people, places or things, in fact anything that one feels constitutes a ‘Sense of Peace’.”  From the songs submitted, the committee then selects the 10 best songs to be finalists. Those songs will then be performed in Tipperary, where one will be awarded the coveted ‘Song of Peace’.


Originally, when James expressed an interest in submitting his song ‘Peace in the Valley (Revisited)’ for consideration to the contest, I objected. Not because I didn’t feel strongly about his song -  I did -  I just felt that we needed to learn more about this organization to see if it was legitimate and, more importantly, to see if they had any connection to Sinn Féin or the Irish Republican Army (IRA). I told James that the Irish are not exactly known for any great love of “Peace”. As matter of fact, the history of Irish people is much more aligned with senseless violence than peace. James objected vociferously to this and claimed to be quite proud of his Irish heritage. He then proceeded to berate me using both words and body gestures I’d never heard or seen before! Luckily, one of the office boys, Timmy Flanagan, stepped in to protect me when James ripped a wooden plank off the wall to strike me! The look of anger on his face, and the protruding veins from his neck as he barked obscenities at me, made me wonder if he was even aware of the enormous irony of WHY he was arguing with me in the first place!


A little background.


As close observers of James’ career may know, I’m the one who negotiated his infamous ‘Full Frontal Nudity Shoot last year. James was initially strongly opposed to this suggestion, despite my assurances that it would be a significant door-opening career move for him. But after plying him with drinks one night (he’s like putty in my hands when there’s Tequila in the house), and allowing him repeated glimpses of my cleavage, James eventually came around … roughly about 4:00 AM…  by which time the photos had already been taken and published across the Internet. I knew his dimpled cheeks would win him over a whole new segment of fans.. Well, at least my girlfriends enjoyed them.


Anyway, back to the Tipperary Peace Convention contest.


When James had calmed down enough to listen to my concerns about the ‘Peace’ organization, he said that he felt my fears were unfounded. He explained that Irish people could, in fact, be great promoters of peace. He cited renowned Irishmen such as Bing Crosby, Harry Truman, and Bill Murray – people who he said “brought the world both peace and happiness”. When I said I didn’t think that any of them really qualified as “peace promoters” (Truman dropped two Atomic bombs.. and didn’t a couple of Crosby's kids commit suicide after a violent childhood?.. and Bill Murray?! Really?  Bill Murray? That’s all you’ve got? ), he got mad at me again and said, “You’re not even listening to what I’m saying!!” .. James can be a bit of hothead, but he’s good-hearted. And those dimples make him irresistible!


Anyway, James went ahead and submitted his performance of Peace in the Valley (Revisited)’ to the Tipperary Peace Convention Ô, along with the 25€ processing fee, and waited patiently (and optimistically) to hear from the committee.  We both felt that it would have been extremely unlikely for his song not to be one of the top ten finalists, and more likely than not, it would be the eventual winner. But when the day the finalists were to be notified came and went, James suspected the worse.


By the following week, James started to wonder aloud how the committee could have over-looked his song. After awhile, I too began to suspect something was awry, and I began to do a little investigative work to see what I could uncover about the Tipperary Peace Convention.


That’s when my eyes were opened wide.


The first thing I discovered about the TPC was truly astounding.  As far as the committee being located in Tipperary, Ireland? Not quite! I reviewed their tax filings for the past 15 years and all they have in Tipperary is a post office box! They are actually headquartered in a town called Stavropolskiy Kray, Russia! I also noticed that on their website you will find that the Chairman is listed as a man named Joe Quinn and that the primary spokesman is named Martin Quinn. After investigating their backgrounds, I found out these two are actually bartenders in Stavropolskiy Kray – and that neither one had ever even been to Ireland, let alone Tipperary!


When I explained these findings to James he became very quiet. He seemed to take it personally as if it was somehow his responsibility since they were Irish. He said, “Bill Murray really is a good person… not just a comedian. And he’s not the only one”… It truly is both sad and bizarre how James views the world. Regardless, I knew a little Tequila & more cleavage would make him happy again.


In the meantime, I explained this whole fiasco to my sister Candi, who just happens to be a sergeant in the northeast detective division of the Philadelphia Police Department. She said if I would provide her with the details of what I had uncovered that she would be interested in flying over to Stavropolskiy Kray (in more or less an unofficial capacity), to see what she could find out about the operating officers of the Tipperary Peace Convention.


Without going into great detail about Candi’s trip, here are some of the photos she sent back last week from her journey:




The street address I had uncovered as the ‘operating office’ for the Tipperary Peace Convention turned out to be the basement of a place called the ‘PECTOP МАТЬРОССИЯ -KAHTPH BAP’ ( loosely translated: ‘Mother Russia's Lone Star Bar’).



As Candi entered the bar, she said the first thing she saw was this poster from 1912 that celebrates the musical composition 'It’s A Long Long Way to Tipperary'. (As Candi said, “It’s a long way to Tipperary? No shit!”).


When she asked the bartender (a man who Candi knew from the TPC website as Joe Quinn) if she could speak to a gentleman named Yuri Sekara, the person listed in filing papers as the company “president”, she was pointed towards this man who, while unable to speak English, could whistle ‘Caissons Go Rolling Along’ through his nose while chugging a beer.


Yuri Sekara (President of the Tipperary Peace Convention)


Next, she asked to speak to Andrej Suhiv, the man listed as the vice-president. Mr Quinn told her, “Thar he”, and pointed to a man in the corner of the room with a demonic look in his eyes who was doing a Russian folk dance.  He refused to speak to Candi and continued dancing incessantly until he eventually collapsed in a violent seizure.


Andrej Suhiv (Vice-President of the Tipperary Peace Convention)


After getting nowhere with the Tipperary Peace Convention "executives", Candi turned and asked Mr Quinn why the Tipperary Peace Convention was not located in Ireland, why it listed him as the “chairman” when he was clearly a bartender thousands of miles away, why had they gone to such elaborate extremes to present a fake organization that suckered songwriters in with hopes of winning a coveted ‘Song of Peace’ award, and did he feel any shame in misusing people’s hope for a peaceful world in such a cynical and manipulative way?


Mr Quinn, who was hand drying a shot glass at the time, looked at Candi with a wily grin and said, “That your car?”


Candi looked out the window and watched as her car was being demolished by what appeared to be a military vehicle.



Through the raucous laughter of Joe, Yuri, and the Lone Star rabble, Candi ran out to stop the destruction to her rental car. Unfortunately it was too late. 



Candi asked some Russian soldiers for assistance in reporting the demolition of her car. Unfortunately, as of this writing, I haven’t received any further information from Candi. She’s a strong girl, though. I have no doubt she’ll be OK.


So, as a word of advice to other songwriters and performers who believe, like James, that they can further the cause of peace through song and that the Tipperary Peace Convention Ô is a legitimate organization: Save your 25€ and take to the streets with your music! ‘Peace’ organizations – particularly ones of Irish origin – are a joke!


Besides, as James says, when he wants a little “piece”, all he has to do is ask!

Ciao ~

Ms. Stephanie-Ellis Johnson


Current Music: Duane Allman - An Anthology