Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dream Theater Scores Big With New 20th Anniversary DVD and CD

by Dave DeMarco.

To commemorate their 20th anniversary, seminal neo-proggers Dream Theater release Score. For those of you scratching your heads wondering "Have Dream Theater really been out for 20 years?" No, your math isn't off. In actuality, DT's first release, When Dream And Day Unite didn't come out until 1989. It's just that DT opted to start the clock back in 1986 when the band's core members - guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy got together at Boston's Berklee College of Music. One can hardly blame the guys for wanting to get a jump start on their 20th anniversary. Their story follows the well-worn path shared my many of their predecessors - ambition derailed by the realities of the music biz, personnel switcheroo and numerous record labels. However, earlier this year at Radio City Music Hall, Dream Theater put all of that behind them and gave their fans something to celebrate when they performed a time capsule collection of their music. Going back all the way to the band's genesis, they played previously unreleased material from their days as Majesty while also marking every significant musical milestone up to and including last year's superb Octavarium.

While Score is not the first live DVD in the band's discography, what sets this release apart from its predecessors is that this marks the first and only time to date that the band has played alongside an orchestra. Of all the bands to go this route in recent years, finally here's a band whose music is actually suited to such a treatment. The songs selected for orchestral accompaniment draw heavily from the band's last three studio releases. The title track from 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence was a fantastic choice to start off the night's orchestral segment. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess heavily orchestrated the studio version, but experiencing the song here in all its symphonic glory gives one a glimpse of what can only be assumed was how Rudess originally envisioned the piece. Elsewhere, Octavarium's title track and perennial crowd favorite Metropolis both utilized the orchestra's contrasting shades and subtleties to great affect.

It bears mention that the DVD/CD is not all pomp and circumstance. The first third of the show consists of the band by itself, doing what it does best. After delivering three songs from Octavarium, they present a few aforementioned unreleased songs from their formative years followed by songs the fans have rarely been treated to live.

As can be expected, the DVD contains loads of cool extras. Of notable mention is the section where the three founding members travel back to their roots at Berklee and recount their memories of the band's formation as well as significant milestones along the way. There's also a very clever animation sequence which is almost worth the purchase price alone! All in all, Score is a fitting salute from the band to its fans and an excellent cap to this visionary band's first score years.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pawnshop Roses Win YouTube Underground Contest

Pawnshop RosesPhiladelphia's Pawnshop Roses appeared on Good Morning America this morning as one of the winners in the YouTube Underground contest. With thousands of submissions and millions votes, as noted by GMAs Dianne Sawyer, Pawnshop won for "Best Live Performance."

Earvolution sat down with the band this summer for a podcast interview and may be the first signing to the very recently formed "Earvolution Records" label. The band is set to get back to the studio for a January release. You can view the winning video here.

Kid Rock's WTF? Moment

Yesterday, in the "aftermath" of the "shocking" news that another Hollywood couple was filing for divorce before the ink was dry on the marriage certificate, TMZ and others reported that Pam Anderson's role in Borat's smash movie was a catalyst for some growing unrest in the Ritchie household.

Apparently, Mr. Rock exploded when he sam Pammy flitting around with Borat on the big screen. According to a source in Page Six, the couple went to a screening of "Borat" at a Beverly Hills home two weeks ago, and Rock didn't like the movie one bit, screaming at Pam in front of onlookers, "You're nothing but a whore! You're a slut!"

But, isn't that a rock star marries a girl like Pam in the first place? Usually its the girl who thinks she can tame the wild guy, but seems like it may have been the other way around on this on. Not sure what Bob was thinking...

. . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead: So Divided

Trail of DeadBy: David Schultz

Without question, . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead possess one of the greatest names in rock n' roll history. Although the name conjures up visions of death-metal or Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, the guitar-heavy indie-darlings from Austin, Texas are better associated with the aural assaults of bands like the Smashing Pumpkins. On So Divided, their fifth studio album, the combine their love for lush guitar jams with a modern recording approach lets them keep their rough edges as they dabble with songs that make them sound like a hipper version of the Electric Light Orchestra.

Ragged on the surface, the studio professionalism apparent on So Divided can be traced back to the layered tracks first popularized by The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Building a sense of majesty into their songs, they indulge their guitar jam itch with Kevin Allen, Conrad Keely and Jason Reece giving "Stand In Silence" an understated elegance and "Naked Sun" an epic sweep. For a band bragging about bodies in their wake, some of the songs are especially upbeat and poppy; even one entitled "Eight Days Hell." Trail Of Dead moves their songs through different soundscapes with varying success: "A Song Of Fire And Wine" leads very nicely into "Stand In Silence" but "Sunken Dreams" loses focus after starting off with an old-school U2 kick.

Unlike many indie buzz bands, Trail Of Dead has a significant catalogue of which So Divided is simply the latest chapter. Longtime fans may be able to dissertate extensively on So Divided's place in the Trail Of Dead pantheon. Those not as steeped in the band's mythology won’t need Cliff Notes though; So Divided stands well enough on its own without a back story.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Who: Endless Wire

The Who: Endless WireBy: David Schultz

Under no conceivable set of circumstances could Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey release a new Who album without facing intense scrutiny. Legacies can be tarnished by returning to the well one time too often (e.g. Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Pink Floyd's The Division Bell, Van Halen featuring Gary Cherone). With Endless Wire, the first studio album to bear The Who imprimatur in close to a quarter century, Townshend and Daltrey have recorded a satisfying coda, not an embarrassing footnote, to the band's storied career. While the album has its faults, Townshend's iconic guitar and Daltrey's signature voice give Endless Wire enough of a Who-ey quality to make it a satisfying addendum to a book long thought complete.

Musical partners for nearly forty years, Townshend and Daltrey's pairing predictably still yields magical results. On "Mike Post Theme," the sextogenarians (not what you think, it means they're in their sixties), show they can still be a bit randy while cranking out an anthem belying their advancing years. Townshend's presence dominates the album: the plentiful acoustic numbers thrive on his nimble guitar work and the themes are more typical of his pointedly socio-critical solo material. "A Man In A Purple Dress" confronts hypocrisy in organized religion and "Black Widow's Eyes" comes from the point of view of a hostage beset with Stockholm Syndrome.

Townshend's efforts are notable but Daltrey is hardly a guest on his own album. On "Fragments," the opening track, nothing but Daltrey's familiar howl giving voice to Townshend's Zen-like koans could follow the "Baba O'Riley" style cascading synthesizer rolls. Time may be depriving Daltrey of the ability to belt out The Who's songs with the same power for the entirety of a two hour show but in the studio, no such limitations are present. Daltrey's voice gives life to songs that might otherwise lack for sustenance, getting the blood boiling on "Mike Post Theme" and "Two Thousand Years" and giving warmth and depth to "Tea & Theater." Townshend shares some of the singing duties, including the extended version of the disc's title track. On "God Speaks Of Marty Robbins," a song that could have come from any of Townshend's solo records, the guitarist equals his prior vocal efforts. However, Townshend misguidedly adopts Tom Waits' gravelly vocal style on "In The Ether," rendering the song practically unlistenable.

The second half of the album consisting of "Wire & Glass," a mini-opera containing a number of songs timing in at less than two minutes, could easily be mistaken as a number of unfinished demo tracks. As long as Townshend's pretentiousness doesn't bother you, the ten song suite has more winning moments than misfires. Essentially some odds and sods cobbled together, many of the songlets end just when they are picking up steam; "Sound Round," and "We Got A Hit," fading just when the feet get tapping. On the other hand, some of the more artsy efforts, "Trilby's Piano," "Unholy Trinity" and "They Make My Dream Come True" bid their farewell before their shortcomings become shockingly evident.

In all likelihood, Endless Wire marks the final creative outburst of The Who. As any writer will tell you, satisfying endings are hard to come by. Even with its faults, Daltrey and Townshend have crafted a fitting potential finale with the album's closing pair of songs "Mirror Door" and "Tea & Theater." Picking up where It's Hard and Face Dances left off, "Mirror Door" honors the landscape The Who helped create by acknowledging the overarching power of music, Daltrey and Townshend wringing one last distinctly Who song out of their souls. With "Tea & Theater," Townshend seems to have written the eulogy for his legendary band. With Daltrey powerfully singing that "the story is done" over Townshend's acoustic guitar, the two issue possibly the last word on all things Who: "a thousand songs - still smolder now/we played them as one - we're older now/all of us sad/all of us free/before we walk from the stage/two of us/won't you have some tea?"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kid Rock Pam Anderson Divorce

Well kids, sometimes love ain't enough. Not quite 4 months after officially hitching their respective wagons to each other Kid Rock and Pam Anderson both filed for divorce today, as reported by TMZ. Both cited "irreconcilable differences" in their respective filings and Pam confirmed the divorce on her website.

I'm still thinking we may see a "honeymoon" tape surface from these two given both of their past performances. Either way, both will no doubt continue to provide significant tabloid fodder as they head back out onto the Hollywood singles scene.

Free Nada Surf "Flash Concert" Tonight!

"Flash Concerts 2006" is putting on a free show tonight with Nada Surf in NYC. I have no idea if tix are still available, but to get in you send a text message with city code "NYC" to "FLASH" (35274). By doing so you may be then be the future recipient of "Flash Alerts" including: event details, free invites to shows and meet & greets and prizes. The show is at the Hiro Ballroom, 363 W. 16th St (@ 9th Ave) and doors open at 8:30pm.

Eons on the Hotseat

I got a nice email from the guys in Eons, who, like us, are apparently big Vernon Reid fans. The band - Justin Bailey (guitar/vocals), Arun Bali (guitar / Howard Stern historian), Ashley Bruce (drums), Mark Miller (bass) - list both Richmond, Virginia and Detroit, Michigan as their places of origin and cite a number of broad musical influences.

Cathcy tunes like "Take a Number" have some clear Brit pop influences, but you can stream a few songs on their MySpace page and decide for yourselves. If you're in the NYC area you check them out this coming Wednesday night, November 25th at The Annex.

Lindsay Lohan goes Ringside?

Perez Hilton is "reporting" that Lindsay Lohan was hanging out with Scott Thomas from the band Ringside the other night in Hollywood. Normally, I wouldn't care and have to be honest that I never heard of the band before seeing this on Perez. But, when I checked out their MySpace page I see they have toured with Ben Harper and appeared on the Henry Rollins show - that's some serious indie cred!

The band melds indie rock with various beats - the tune "Dreamboat 730" seems to be representative of their overall sound. They do lose some of their indie cred by being associated with Fred Durst. Ringside's major label debut came last year on Durst's Flawless Records, a Geffen label. Check them out for yourself here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tenacious D Leaks New Tune

Tenacious DOne of our buddies in the Tenacious D camp sent over this exclusive clip from "Hell O'Clock News" where Jack Black and Kyle Gass preview a new jam seemingly titled "Goddam' Mutherf@$kin' Stupid Piece of Sh*!" that they say they wrote specifically for The Pick of Destiny - which Jack declares is the "hardest rockin movie ever made." Samuel L. Jackson would be proud!

The Pick of Destiny opens today and you can check out the movie trailer here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Adored To Distraction: Willy Porter At Joe's Pub

By: David Schultz

A curious thing seems to happen to concert-goers as they age: when you put them in a quiet, intimate setting with a friendly, affable performer, they want to be part of the show. This seems to be an issue that venerable guitar wizard Willy Porter, whose audience skews towards older fans appreciative of his intricate finger work and wizened lyrics, has some experience in handling. Making the most of the available light in New York City, Porter and his band played an early evening set last week at Joe's Pub, a cozy sit-down venue filled with fans very familiar with the Midwestern troubadour.

Photo Credit: Alan S. Krause

After beginning his set with selections from his latest album, Available Light, including "Sleepy Little," "Loose Gravel" and the title track, Porter became besieged by an audience calling out requests and awkwardly applauding him for his performance at last summer's Mountain Jam. It seemed every time there was a pause between songs, people felt the need to fill it: not with cheers, but with banter nowhere near as witty or helpful as they believed. Given the persistence of some of the fans, it was hard to tell whether they were honestly trying to relate to Porter or just wanted public attention by showing off that they may be a "better" Willy Porter fan than others. Although a bit puzzled by the "viva al qaeda" remark in response to his comment on the recent elections, the good-natured Porter handled the interruptions with aplomb, responding infinitely better than Michael Richards, but you could sense the disruptions wearing on him. A testament to Porter, his mental agility and guitar dexterity triumphed.

Clad in his trademark black wool cap and T-shirt, Porter fronted his band made up of Dave Adler (keyboards), Dave Schoepke (drums) and Steve Kleiber (bass). As past shows have proven, Porter doesn't necessarily need a band to be a captivating performer but he shares the stage quite comfortably with the fellow Wisconsinites that backed him on his latest album. Playing a lot of electric guitar throughout the set, Porter did a little country-style picking during "Rita" and after a funky piano intro from Adler, led a nice little jam at the end of "Moonbeam." In contrast to his emotional reading of his 9/11 elegy "One More September," Porter punctuated the show with many humorous anecdotes, including a couple pertaining to that aforementioned Mountain Jam.

Porter possesses the quick wit and mind of an improvisational comic; much like Wayne Brady he can create a song out of nearly anything. Always ready for an impromptu up-to-date political song, Porter borrowed the tune from Jimmy Buffett's "Pencil Thin Mustache" and crafted one out of thin air. To the amazement of the audience, Porter worked in nearly all of the comments shouted at him throughout his set, delightfully getting the last word in response to an audience that wanted to share the spotlight Porter rightfully earned. As they didn't really start until halfway through the show, the audience antics served as nothing more than a minor distraction. One saving grace, nobody demanded "Free Bird" . . . scratch that, someone did think that would be funny.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pressing Their Way: Robert Randolph & The Family Band At The Roseland Ballroom

By: David Schultz

Whether playing concise opening slots for Eric Clapton or the Dave Matthews Band, featured sets during the summer festival season or headlining clubs and theaters, Robert Randolph and the aptly named Family Band, consisting of his cousins Danyel Morgan (bass) and Marcus Randolph (drums) and extended family member Jason Crosby (keys and fiddle), have always lived up to their reputation as a band that must be seen to be believed. However, just about a year ago, their stage act seemed on the verge of stagnating; not from a musical perspective but from an originality standpoint. Although retaining their entertainment value, many of the antics that seemed fresh and endearing while word spread of Randolph's infectious buoyant energy and "Jimi Hendrix of the pedal steel guitar" skills were becoming predictable.

Robert Randolph & The Family Band

This past Friday, Robert Randolph & The Family Band returned to New York City's Roseland Ballroom as a headliner after more than two years with an extended Family Band that included Randolph's sister Lanesha on backing vocals and percussion and his cousin Joey Williams on rhythm guitar. Many of the live staples in danger of becoming stale were absent on this evening. The Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix covers were gone as was the instrumental switch bit where Randolph and his cousins rotate between the bass, drums and pedal steel during a lengthy jam. One trademark not shed from the set: the invitation to the women in the audience to come on stage during "Shake Your Hips" and illustrate the concept of the John Lee Hooker boogie style rocker. The visual display of women with widely varying dancing ability may not have been worth the apparent annoyance to the band: Morgan seemed perturbed at having the women swarm into his space and a couple ladies weightily hung on Randolph while he played his pedal steel.

In discarding some of their familiar gimmicks, they unfortunately dropped their lengthy instrumental jams featuring Randolph's lengthy, crowd-pleasing pedal steel guitar solos. With the exception of a quick run through "Run For Your Life," the uninspired instrumental interludes, which were used mostly as bridges between songs, offered nothing substantial and failed to give the eager audience a hook to latch onto. Akin to the disappointment that would be engendered by Eric Clapton playing an entire show on the piano, Randolph's decision to spend half the night playing electric guitar unfairly deprived the audience of a substantial serving of his pedal steel histrionics. On the other hand, Randolph's increased dexterity with the guitar turned into one of the night's pleasant surprises. During "Roll Up," the evening's closer, Randolph impressively traded riffs with Morgan, dropping to his knees in the show’s sole homage to Hendrix. Although Randolph's pedal steel was primarily missing in action, Morgan's bass, which is so integral to the band's fusion of gospel, soul, R & B and traditional classic rock, made its presence felt. Beginning the bass line from "I Need More Love" from backstage, Morgan led the return processional for the encore. It was to be one of Morgan's few times in the spotlight; the presence of Randolph's sister, who handled many of the higher-ranged vocals, relegated Morgan's signature wail to cameo appearances.

The band focused heavily on their Colorblind material. While their opening stomp through "Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That," "Diane" (featuring an assist from the Conan O'Brien horn section) and the set closer "Deliver Me" soared, their cover of The Byrds/Doobie Brothers tune "Jesus Is Just Alright" never gained momentum. Rarely one to lose the crowd, Randolph & The Family Band nearly did just that during an interminably long and uneventful "Homecoming." With guitarist Rocco DeLuca joining in, Randolph kept running through a lazy rap that endlessly namechecked the band, stretching the song beyond its limits without anyone adding anything terribly interesting. Randolph & The Family Band nearly refrained from their propensity to insert a mistimed, poppy ballad into their shows, waiting until the encore to slot the slow-moving "This Love" between a raucous "I Need More Love" and a stellar "Roll Up."

The newfound finesse Randolph & The Family Band showed on Colorblind has spilled into their live shows. Despite lip service paid by any group's fans to the concept of wanting to see their band grow and do new things, deep down, they don't want to see them deviate too far from what originally made them ardent fans. It's nice to see Randolph & The Family Band evolving and doing different things on stage, but they have to be careful not to alienate their core fanbase by transforming themselves into a different entity altogether.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Suicide Girls Open for Guns N' Roses

Suicide GirlsMissy from the Suicide Girls sent out a MySpace blast letting us know that the Suicide Girls Live Burlesque Show will be in Halifax, NS "performing" with Guns n' Roses On November 20th. Now this is one concert where fans may not actually mind if Axl Rose shows up late!

The Trews and Die Mannequin are also on the bill. Tickets seem to still be available, which doesn't surprise me with their nearly $80 price tag for floor seats.

New Video from the North Atlantic

San Diego's The North Atlantic have released their latest video from Wires In The Walls for the song "Scientist Girl", directed by Simon Chan (Mars Volta, Blackalicious). It's on Youtube, so viral away! If you like that you can listen to the entire record here.

The guys are on the road finishing up some dates with These Arms Are Snakes tonight, they will support Planes Mistaken For Stars for the rest of the year.

Mp3s from The Monolith

Power-poppers The Monolith have put out their next record. It is called Meet You At The Monolith, which is the follow-up to Here Comes The Monolith. I'm sensing a pattern!
Mark from Fanatic describes them with this gem of PR flair: This San Francisco band makes its indie-pop feel enriched and fleshed, and the hints of Cheap Trick, the Rentals, and Concrete Blonde are apt pillars of a well-thought journey through college rock's past."

Check out The Sounding and Middle of The Movie and see what you think!

McCartney's Classical Concert on Sirius

Sirius will broadcast Paul McCartney's recent Carnegie Hall concert, featuring his new classical piece, Ecce Cor Meum (his only U.S. performance of that work). They will also air an interview with Sir Paul during intermission. I'm betting they won't ask any Heather Mills questions!

The concert will air Fri. Nov. 17 at 3 pm ET, Sat. Nov. 18 at 11 am ET, Sun. Nov. 19 at 12 am ET and 9 pm ET on SIRIUS Pops, channel 86.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Power To The Peaceful: Michael Franti & Spearhead Light Up New York

Yellfire!By: David Schultz

If you didn't know any better, you would think, based on the number of times Michael Franti asks his audience "How you feelin'?" that the dreadlocked singer has a raging problem with insecurity. The phrase has become so synonymous with Franti's live shows that his fans have created a drinking game around his catch phrase, sipping or finishing their drink whenever it's asked. Franti's heard of the game and has been known to get his fans sloshed. Exuding confidence in his ability to enthrall and entertain a crowd, Franti didn't abuse his signature phrase during his Veterans' Day show at New York City's Webster Hall. Although whenever he did ask, he received a rousing affirmation that yes, the crowd was feeling pretty damn good.

With his dreadlocks flying to and fro, Franti literally bounced around the stage with a boundless energy, inspiring the audience to jump and move throughout the entire show. Leaving the music primarily to his Spearhead band mates, bassist Carl Young, guitarist Dave Shuh and drummer Manas Itene, Franti played some rhythm guitar while playing a two hour set focused on Yell Fire!, his latest release of populist anthems. Franti persuasively gets across his powerful activist ideals through simple expressions: the music is not incredibly complex, incorporating many reggae beats; the messages aren't expressed in convoluted language, gaining poetic strength through their simplicity; and the feelings Franti invokes often tap into your most basic childish memories, only the grinchiest of souls could fail to enjoy the band's brief segue into Sesame Street's theme song and Franti's Cookie Monster growl through "C Is For Cookie."

It's near impossible to not have a great time at a Michael Franti & Spearhead concert. Franti's "power to the peaceful" philosophy and worldview permeate the music and his shows thrive with an uplifting, life affirming vibe. While Franti's opinions are hardly veiled, they transcend political parties and religious affiliations; he focuses on the similarities amongst us all that go beyond nationalities, ideologies and cultures. In fact, during one song Franti exclaims that God is too big a concept for just one religion. Having recently spent more than a year in some of the most dangerous territories in the Middle East, a trip captured in the documentary I Know I'm Not Alone, Franti's not shy about proselytizing his hopes and prayers for peace. His Veterans' Day suggestion was that the best way America could support their troops overseas would be to bring them home where they can be safe with their families. While he doesn't hide his distaste for the war in songs like "Yell Fire" and the anti-recruitment "Light Up Your Lighter" or his pleasure over the recent elections, Franti leaves the serious politicking out of his music. In song, Franti speaks often of the unifying strength of love and before "One Step Closer" accentuated his most heartfelt message, treasuring the friends in your life. It's no small feat that Franti & Spearhead's relatively early Saturday night set seemed to raise everyone's spirits. As they do with every show, they mixed the right amounts of Sixties-style spirit with modern day beats, managing to convey a message while keeping everyone joyously grooving.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reckless Youth: Slightly Stoopid & Pepper At The Roseland Ballroom

Slightly StoopidBy: David Schultz

Shortly into my freshman year of college, I told my father of a night out that involved his son and his friends drinking rum out of scotch glasses like we were cultured. After chuckling and pondering what benefits his child was actually receiving from his higher education, he told me that only freshmen drank rum cause they're too idiotic to know there are better liquors. The current equivalent of my Dad's advice would involve Jagermeister, the prevalent choice of "liquor" amongst college students.

Now, how does this little anecdote relate to a Slightly Stoopid/Pepper concert at New York City's Roseland Ballroom? Well, Jagermeister is sponsoring their current North American tour, bringing two bands under their banner that target the same youthful demographic as the licorice-flavored beverage. For the same reasons that a Jagermeister dispenser would seem out of place at an upscale, high-class bar, the suit-and-tie set aren't making their presence felt at Slightly Stoopid or Pepper's performances. Playing to an extremely youthful audience, the fans in attendance at Roseland might leave one seriously questioning whether "the kids are alright."

In the midst of Pepper's set, a wide circle developed in the center of the Ballroom's spacious audience space, allowing a mosh pit to develop. While four or five guys happily barged into each other at ramming speed, a girl who couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds cluelessly drifted into the open space, thinking she had found a roomy area to dance. Within two hip shakes, one of the moshers plastered her like Brian Urlacher destroying a quarterback, seemingly knocking her senseless. At the song’s end, the circle closed up but before you could ponder how such activity doesn’t lead to a brawl, a sweaty bald college kid obnoxiously tried to revive the mosh pit. Within seconds, he was being beaten mercilessly.

A knee jerk reaction would be to blame the violence on the music; a connection that would be egregiously inappropriate. Despite misguided attempts to link the two: Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest's music didn’t cause people to attempt suicide; Marilyn Manson's music played no role in the Columbine shooting and Pepper's music didn't cause anyone at the Roseland Ballroom to indulge in a bit of the old ultraviolence. In fact, Pepper deserves better than to have that going on while they play. Unfortunately, it can't be ignored that they (and Slightly Stoopid) attracted a large number of people predisposed to such reckless behavior. On a more comical note, once the show ended, varyingly uncoordinated efforts to retrieve the concert posters hanging from the balcony had people hoisting their friends above their heads to scrabble at the signs. Some succeeded despite dangerous ineptitude, others comically collapsed in a drunken heap.

Before getting to the music, of which there was plenty, maybe I should confess to one of my biases: I have always been embarrassed by any non-Jamaican, non-Caribbean attempts at reggae. To put that a bit more bluntly, I don't think white people should try and play reggae: too often, the attempt results in something discomforting – like the worldwide success of Snow's "Informer." That all being said, Slightly Stoopid and their current tour mates Pepper, with their mix of ska rhythms and punk rock guitars, go a long way towards shedding the admitted fallacies of my predisposition. Both bands are the musical offspring of the Red Hot Chili Peppers via Sublime, mixing the upbeat elements of ska and punk rock with funky bass lines and Californian, surfer attitude.

Unabashedly a foe of emo, Slightly Stoopid bounced back and forth between straightforward West coast hyperactive rock and ska-tinged tunes, greatly accented by the horn section of De La (sax) and C-Money (trumpet). Vocally, they have a penchant for toasting. Even when executed perfectly, toasting can become annoying when overdone. Although they resort to the style a little too often, they don't try the audience’s patience with it; using the opportunities to step from the mikes and get close to the crowd. Many efforts to turn standard folk songs into a reggae tunes have, at best, yielded mixed results. Slightly Stoopid successfully overcomes those hurdles, transforming Peter, Paul & Mary's turgid, dreary "Leaving On A Jet Plane" into a very enjoyable, reggae-style sing-along.

The horn section, which stood front and center for the majority of the show, put a little extra oomph into the songs, fleshing out the groove of the ska-centric tunes. Plus, they kicked off the encore with a humorous run through the overblown opening to Europe's "The Final Countdown." Throughout the night, Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald traded guitar and bass riffs with abandon. Showing that they can do more than rifle through bouncy tunes, Doughty showcased his strumming skills, belting out a couple songs on an acoustic guitar. While the horns and guitars create the bouncy beat, drummer Ryan Moran and percussionist Oguer Ocon deserve mention for fueling the sunny mood of the music

Not varying the tempo as much as the headliner, Pepper's opening set had a more frenetic pace than Slightly Stoopid's. Fronted by the ripped duo of guitarist Kaleo Wassman and bassist Bret Bollinger, the shirtless pair ran from one reggae influenced rave-up to the next. Playing over Yesod Williams drums, Pepper kept the crowd moving with their Chili Peppers derived sound, even throwing in a couple lines from "Higher Ground" The Hawaiian trio have been Slightly Stoopid's touring partners for quite some time and it appears the two bands have become quite familiar with one another. To finish the evening, Pepper returned to the stage and the two bands combined to send the crowd into the relatively warm November evening with one last blast.

Slightly Stoopid's youthful following seems to be growing exponentially. On one of their last trips to New York, headlining the side stage of the Dave Matthews Band Island Getaway on Randall's Island, they drew a mighty crowd and this past weekend, easily sold out the 3,500 capacity Roseland Ballroom. Older music lovers will find a lot to like with Slightly Stoopid as their music has a broad appeal, but the kids seem to understand it best. Seeing their full set at Roseland recalled Marty McFly playing "Johnny B. Goode" at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, finishing with a flurry and telling the befuddled crowd, "your kids are gonna love it."

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Lost Weird Al Interviews


Mick Jagger

Michael Stipe

Keith Richards

Vince Neil

Def Leppard

Tom Petty

George Harrison

Paul McCartney

Friday, November 10, 2006

Guns 'N Roses Cancel Show Over Booze?

Axl Rose and crew reportedly canceled a show in Maine because of a dispute over the use of pyro, which of course has come under scrutiny since the Great White tragedy. However, Maine officials are now saying the band was more hung up on their "no drinking booze while playing" rule.

Apparently, Maine has had a prohibition against having alcohol on stage for years. That agitated the band that caused the cancellation, officials say, not the pyro issues the fire marshals were there to oversee. reports:

"Steve McCausland said inspectors had been there to oversee pyrotechnics and ran into "a couple issues that were quickly resolved. The bigger sticking point: Representatives of Guns N' Roses shared the fact that they "wanted to drink beer, wine and Jagermeister while performing," McCausland wrote."

I understand why some fans want to blame the rule makers and enforcers for the show getting cancelled. But, if the official are correct in that it really came down to the booze issue then I have to give the band a little fault as well. They could probably have found a way, if they really needed it, to drink before hand and how long would they really play anyway? Certainly less than two hours, probably closer to one. So, they couldn't go without a beer or shot for that long to play some music for the fans that had bought tickets to the show? We'll probably never know the real story here but given Axl's diva past nothing surprised me with these guys.

Devon Allman's Honeytribe: Torch

By: David Schultz

The Allman name carries a lot of weight in certain rock circles; it also raises a lot of expectations. Just like Sean Lennon will always have difficulty carving out a career without reminding listeners of his father, Devon Allman's name will perk up some ears eager to compare him to his father, Gregg. Where fellow descendant Derek Trucks has primarily made his name playing with his father in the Allman Brothers Band, Devon Allman has opted to seek his fortune on his own, putting his famous surname atop Honeytribe. Using Torch as a guide, Honeytribe would be better served without the unfair expectations wrought by Allman's name atop the marquee.

On their debut album, they come across as a competent bar band, putting forth blues riffs, straightforward classic rock and a roadhouse weary reading of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" without doing a whole lot to freshen them up. Having inherited his father's signature roguish soul and bluesy wail, Allman's singing is more inspired than his guitar riffs. Notwithstanding Allman's vocal charms, the standout tracks feature Honeytribe's instrumental skills. "Mahalo," a Santana-style instrumental truly sizzles and "Heaven Has No Mercy" gets a lively jolt from Jack Kirkner's organ and Allman's guitar.

Honeytribe is about to start a major North American tour that will have them playing numerous dates with Gregg Allman & Friends. The exposure will no doubt be a tremendous boon to the band, but they might be better served growing outside the unfairly raised expectations the Allman name carries.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Britney Spears Divorces Kevin Federline

Britney Spears filed for divorce today from Kevin Federline - big props to my pals over at for breaking the story. I was going to ignore this story, but hey we need the google hits and maybe some of you new folks can learn about some cool bands like the Pawnshop Roses, Grace Potter or the States!

It was K-Fed's second bad news of the day. Earlier on TMZ, I wrote up the very recent news that Kevin had to pay out some cash to electronica star Thomas Dolby for sampling his "She Blinded Me With Science" 80s classic. I was quite pysched as I got to speak to Dolby on the phone. He was a very nice guy and it is cool to see him getting out on the road again after a long absence.

So, where has Thomas been all these years while the likes of K-Fed and Britney have been dominating the headlines? Well, Thomas has been in Silicon Valley making a boat load of cash. Turns out that Dolby created the technology used in nearly 2/3rds of all cell phones to deliver those Britney and K-Fed ringtones all the kids have been buying. His company, Beatnik, serves Nokia and many of the major players.

Now that he's got some K-Fed cash and has carved out quite a tech career, he's getting back into music. He's redoing some earlier stuff, including songs from his first record "Golden Age of Wireless" - which is somewhat ironic and highly prophetic given his recent endeavors and the fact that the record came out in 1982.

Thomas also told me that he has an interesting element to his stage show he's taking on the road this fall. He will wear a small camera on his head that will project up to a big screen behind the stage wear concert goers can watch him "build the layers" of each track. He will, for example, tap out a drum beat, loop it and then layer the next bit of sound such as keyboards. It'll give an interesting live insight into the creative process that Dolby has been working on with the new arrangements.

So, good news for Dolby fans and on the flip side, all in all a bad day for Federline. And, he's even got more "trouble" ahead. While K-Fed may not have asked for the beating he's receiving from his ex-wife and Mr. Dolby, he is asking for one from WWE Champion John Cena. Following a couple weeks of annoying the WWE champ, Federline cost Cena his match at WWE's Cyber Sunday pay-per-view and last night, he challenged the champ to a match on the New Year's Day edition of Monday Night Raw. The beating "America's Most Hated" will likely receive at Cena's hands may not be the genuine physical beating people might like to see, but it should be a satisfying alternative.

Related: Naked Britney Spears Statute Serves As Pro-Life Monument.

More: The Rear View of Britney's Birthing Statute.

Again, congrats to TMZ for breaking the Britney divorce story, major coup once again beating the "traditional" news outlets to the punch.

MFA Rocks the Vote

If you haven't yet and are able, get out and vote! If you're in certain cities, Music for America has got some post election fun for you. MFA is throwing 8 parties near polling places to get out the vote in: Albuquerque, NM; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; and four on Temple University's campus in Philadelphia, PA. The parties will feature live music and hot food.

MFA artists, volunteers, and music fans will be celebrating after voting with The Decemberists in Pontiac, MI; Death Cab for Cutie in Washington, DC; The Elected in Washington, DC; And the official MFA election night party with DJs Earwig and Nomadeeq from Booty SF and Flavorgroup at 12 Galaxies in San Francisco, CA, with live election results.

Raising Spirits: Zappa Plays Zappa Treats NYC on Halloween

ZappaBy: David Schultz

Right about the same time that New York City's yearly Village Halloween Parade had its first gathering, Frank Zappa started his own Halloween tradition: celebrating All Hallows' Eve with a concert in the Big Apple. In keeping alive his father's music with Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, Frank's oldest son, went one step further this past October 31, resurrecting the Zappa Halloween tradition at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. Despite the release of more than sixty albums over his thirty-plus year career and his significant lasting influence on modern music, especially within the jamband world, Zappa's music remains relatively unheard on any type of radio format. Given that, Dweezil's goal of the Zappa Plays Zappa project, keeping Frank Zappa's music alive and relevant, takes on added import.

At the 2006 Jammy Awards, the Madison Square Garden Theater played host to one of the earliest Zappa Plays Zappa shows. After accepting the Jammy Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his father, Dweezil anchored a twenty minute Zappa Plays Zappa set featuring Chick Corea and Umphrey's McGee's Jake Cinninger. After headlining the after-hours party at B.B. King's, Dweezil, with saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock by his side, took the Zappa retrospective on tour, successfully reconnecting with many of his father's old fans. A sold-out crowd that included approximately nine women welcomed Zappa back to The Theater; many hardcore fans enjoying their role in extending Zappa's sizable legacy. With the slick but earnest charm of a game-show host, Dweezil happily greeted his father's fans and happily noted the presence of younger fans whose knowledge of the Mothers Of Invention likely comes from their parents' record collection or Rykodisc reissues.

With his hair grown to shoulder length, Dweezil resembles a younger, cleaner-shaven version of his father. Dweezil occupied many roles: he channeled his father's charismatic zany charm as the ringleader, not only conducting the band with several hand cues during the instrumental passages, but directing the audience's applause as well. Playing before Frank's visage carved into a jack-o-lantern, Dweezil led an exceptionally skilled band through early-era Mothers Of Invention tunes like "Who Are The Brain Police" and "Idiot Bastard Son" as well as later-era Mothers live staples like "Pygmy Twylyte," "Cheepnis" and "Echidna's Arf (Of You)." Forgetting the existence of "Valley Girl," Frank Zappa had a knack for interjecting laughs into his songs without degenerating into a novelty act. His sense of humor found its way into the set with a romp through "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" and a smooth jazz interlude that scathingly mocked Kenny G. The sly working class "Can't Afford No Shoes" and Zoot Allure's "The Torture Never Stops" showed that Zappa's pseudo-political material remains relevant. For three jam-packed hours, Dweezil lovingly recreated many of his father's arrangements including One Size Fits All's intricate opener "Inca Roads."

If Dweezil Zappa formed the heart of the show, Napoleon Murphy Brock was its soul. A magnificently animated foil, Brock, who sang and played sax with Zappa from 1974-1984, handled the majority of the vocals, his voice still deep and soulful; he embodied the concept of funky kinetic motion throughout the night with his nimble, agile dancing. During the opening numbers, Brock repeatedly boogied off the stage with the frequency of the dangerously incontinent only to return relatively quickly after a short instrumental interlude. As the evening wore on, he kept his off-stage runs to a bare minimum, standing still long enough for some expert saxophone and flute solos.

Anton Chekhov once said if you hang a pistol on the wall in Act 1, someone better fire it in Act 3. (That's the gist of it. He actually said it much more eloquently than that). Following through on the Russian playwright's sage advice, the enormous metal drum and cymbal contraption which ominously sat stage left throughout the first half of the show, ultimately became occupied by Terry Bozzio, Zappa's drummer from 1975-1978. Although less conspicuous, a well marked equipment case that lurked stage right foreshadowed the eventual appearance of Steve Vai. The guitar virtuoso, who played with Zappa from 1980-1982, lay back during "Peaches En Regalia" before absolutely tearing apart "Zombie Woof" with his inimitable guitar style. Frank Zappa knew the power of a good guitar solo, in fact Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar, consisted of three albums worth of little more than guitar solos. An adept guitar player in his own right, Dweezil stayed true to Frank's love a good guitar solo. Although willing to trade riffs with Vai, Zappa reserved his best solos for the periods when Vai wasn't on stage.

In laying out Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil must be commended for including many trademarks of the elder Zappa's music and live performances: recapturing the fun-loving, wacky musical vibe, the distinctive xylophone roles, the stellar guitar solos, the complex arrangements as well as his father's pink pants - well, on second thought, that last one may be a solely Dweezil hallmark. After a warmly-received summer tour, it might be expected that at the close of the year Dweezil might wrap up the project and move on to his next effort. But then again, unpredictability has always been a Zappa family trait. At the close of the show, Dweezil idly suggested a return to New York City next year to resume the Zappa Halloween tradition; the excitement that idea generated amongst the crowd seemed too palpable for Dweezil to ignore.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson

They have different styles and deliveries, but Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson have one thing in common: they are both great singers. These mp3s have been sitting in my inbox for a couple weeks now so you may have heard them already, but in case you haven't I figured I better pop them up.

The tunes are from the surfer flick A Brokedown Melody. Johnson's label Brushfire Records is releasing the sound track and it hits stores next week.

Here is Vedder with "Goodbye" and Johnson's "Let It Be Sung" (with some help from Matt Costa and Zach Gill).

Scissor Sisters: Land of a Thousand Words

Scissor Sisters' latest video "Land of a Thousand Words" is now on YouTube. It is the second single from their latest record "Tah-Dah." A YouTube commenter describes the video as "Bondish", which is a good call. The single is due to hit stores, online and off, December 4th.

Deftones Go Clubbing

DeftonesAfter touring big outdoor shows this summer as part of the Family Values Tour, Sacramento's Deftones are scaling down for some intimate club shows in support of the recently released Saturday Night Wrist. Warner Brothers is really hyping the record calling it possibly the "album of their career." It is the bands' 5th studio effort and if you haven't heard it yet, you can stream the first single "Hole in the Earth" on their MySpace page.

The record was produced by Bob Ezrin whose work with Pink Floyd in years past is apparently quite present on this one. The tour dates are here, with more December shows expected to be added shortly.

Benevento/Russo Duo Pause and Play For New York City

By: David Schultz

After months of relentless touring, the Benevento/Russo Duo released Play Pause Stop, their second album, in the midst of this past summer. Most bands would immediately take to the road in support of their new disc but the Duo, keyboardist Marco Benevento and drummer Joe Russo, have never followed a traditional career plan. In this case, the two didn't quite have the luxury of touring behind Play Pause Stop as they were already occupying theaters and arenas throughout North America, accompanying Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon as part of the unofficially titled G.R.A.B. quartet. At the end of the summer, the Duo commenced their Play Pause Stop tour proper on the West coast, slowly wending their way back home to the East coast. This past week, the Duo returned to the Bowery Ballroom, one of their frequent New York haunts, as part of the final handful of shows at the tail end of their fall tour.

The Duo were clearly happy to be home. Prior to the show, Benevento could be seen flitting around the Ballroom greeting friends; once on stage, his beatific grin hardly left his face. Always an intriguing drummer to watch, Russo seemed to take delight in the audience’s audible cringing while he loosened his shoulders between songs by sending them straight up and behind his back in a style reminiscent of Harry Houdini.

Beginning the evening with some of their more harmonious songs, including a version of "Play Pause Stop" during which the assemblage gathered backstage flooded out, surrounding the Duo to add vocals for the song's hymnal chorus, they picked up the pace as the evening rolled on. They've added ruffles to some of their older tunes: Russo included some new drum rolls in "Welcome Red" and Benevento used the circuit boards to create his own version of space during "The Three Questions Marks." Keeping the set to an economical hour and a half or so, the Duo kept their set moving, focusing primarily on the Play Pause Stop material, omitting the occasional cover or two they normally work into the set. As this was the Duo's first New York performance since the release of the album, they may have wanted to make the new album the centerpiece of the show for their hometown fans, including "Walking Running Viking" and "Powder," newer additions to the Duo’s live repertoire. On the other hand, the seemingly abbreviated set - they normally play for a good two hours - could have arisen from the fact that they were filming the show for a future DVD release. While the show was not lacking in any dimension, the Bowery Ballroom has seen better performances by the Duo.

Ostensibly, the Duo will be taking it easy in November. However, Benevento will not be remaining idle: for the whole month of November, he'll be inviting different friends to join him for evenings of improvisational music as part of his Wednesday night residency at New York City's Tonic. In discussing the Tonic shows with Earvolution this past August, Benevento proudly declared that there would be no rehearsals for the Wednesday night gigs and the muse would be found in the moment.

This past Wednesday, Phish bassist and frequent Duo band mate Mike Gordon teamed up with Benevento for an evening's worth of Benny Goodman music. A possible harbinger of the anything-can-happen spirit of the shows, The Slip's Brad Barr arrived before the close of the show with guitar in hand and joined in for "Sing, Sing, Sing." For the November 8 show, Benevento will be joined by his Bustle In Your Hedgerow bassist, Ween's Dave Dreiwitz, Ween's drummer, Claude Coleman and the Lounge Lizards' musical director, trumpeter Steven Bernstein. For the November 15 gig, Benevento will play the early show solo and invite some unannounced friends for the late show. On Thanksgiving Eve, the pianist will team up with "three of his favorite drummers on the planet," Joe Russo, Bobby Previte and Mike Dillon. Describing his final show as a “once-in-a-lifetime dream lineup,” on November 29, Benevento will share the stage with onetime Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Reed Mathis of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and the Steve Kimock Band.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Eddie Adds Son to Van Halen

As I predicted, Eddie Van Halen has added his son to the Van Halen line-up. Wolfgang Van Halen takes over bass guitar for Michael Anthony. Reports had Eddie not happy with Anthony for touring with former VH frontman Sammy Hagar in "The Other Half." The band title, some said, is a clear reference to the VH brothers.

Now, with Wolfie on board there just remains that frontman position to fill. Could it be the return (again) of David Lee Roth as the singer for Van Halen? Only Eddie knows at this point and he ain't we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fall Out Boy Parodies

the emo backlash...

"Sugar, We're Going Down":

"Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things To Do Today":

"A Little Less 16 Candles, A Little More Touch Me":

"Dance Dance":

The Killers Stalk New York City

The KillersBy: David Schultz

Much like Oasis' Noel Gallagher, fun seems to occur whenever someone places a microphone in front of Brandon Flowers. As the ultra-charismatic front man of The Killers, Flowers easily draws the lion's share of the attention whenever the Las Vegas rockers play. When his band The Killers aren't around, Flowers can be counted out on for a brilliantly inflammatory sound byte. Keeping the chit-chat to a minimum Flowers and The Killers breezed through New York City for a two night stay at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. With a woody decor evocative of Sam's Town, their sophomore release, the Killers ultra-slick show emphasized the evolution of the band both artistically and musically.

In their earlier performances, Brandon Flowers used to wander the stage in a grandiose, near-detached manner. While it made for intriguing visuals, it didn't quite help him connect with the audience. At the Theater, a more animated Flowers kept jumping on the oversized monitors, but it seemed more theatrical preening than an attempt to get closer to the audience. When he wasn't stalking the stage, Flowers played some keys and even picked up a bass for an encore run through "For Reasons Unknown." Though not attracting as much attention as Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. provided ample evidence that this a group effort, making it possible for their verbose singer to put his theatrics on such a grand stage.

Taking the best of '80s British synth-rock, The Killers' debut album, Hot Fuss, garnered tons of well-deserved notice and acclaim. In the two years since its release, the Hot Fuss material has blossomed into electrifying arena rock fodder. The songs on Sam's Town don't have the same glossy veneer as the Hot Fuss material; that's not a qualitative difference as much it is quantitative. Rather than follow up Pulp Fiction with Pulp Fiction II, Quentin Tarantino went down a different path, creating the more sedate, thoughtful Jackie Brown. The Killers have followed the same muse in creating Sam's Town, retaining enough of the sound that set them apart from their peers without rehashing their past creative triumph. The difference between the two projects became very clear during their stay in Manhattan. Essentially bracketing the show, between Sam's Town's "Enterlude" and "Exitlude," The Killers bounced back and forth between their two albums, including electrifying versions of "Somebody Told Me," "All These Things That I've Done" and their jealous, angst-ridden classic "Mr.Brightside." More a testament to the strength of Hot Fuss than to any failings of Sam's Town, The Killers should have presented their newer release without immediate comparison to their prior work.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

As We Approach Election Day: A Message From Dr. Hunter S. Thompson


Politics is the art of controlling your environment. That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that "it doesn't matter who's President" has never been drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World - or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property - or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons - or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.

Good Doctor, you are missed. You took your voice from us just when we need it the most. Res Ipsa Loquitur.

[Ed. Note: Although HST is gone, Vets themselves are stepping up and speaking out.]

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!