Friday, July 31, 2009

Assembly of Dust Tour Dates and Mp3 Download with Phish bassist Mike Gordon

AOD fans coming off the Gathering of the Vibes show last weekend will likely have to wait to mid-September to see the band again when the kick off their fall tour. Beyond the new tour dates, Assembly of Dust also has a new record out as well.

Calling in some friends, Reid Genauer tapped Mike Gordon of Phish, Bela Fleck, Martin Sexton, Richie Havens, David Grisman, John Scofield and Earvolution friend Grace Potter who all lend their talents to Some Assembly Required. The band kicks off the fall in New York and after a mostly northeast run heads west:

Sep 18 2009 Revolution Hall Troy, New York
Sep 19 2009 Higher Ground South Burlington, Vermont
Sep 24 2009 Paradise Rock Club Boston, Massachusetts
Sep 26 2009 Calling Planet Earth Festival Charlestown, Rhode Island
Sep 29 2009 Port City Music Hall Portland, Maine
Sep 30 2009 The Bowery Ballroom New York, New York
Oct 1 2009 River Street Jazz Cafe Plains, Pennsylvania
Oct 2 2009 The Note West Chester, Pennsylvania
Oct 3 2009 Recher Theatre Towson, Maryland
Oct 16 2009 Bluebird Theater Denver, Colorado
Oct 17 2009 Boulder Theater Boulder, Colorado
Oct 18 2009 Community Concert Hall Durango, Colorado
Oct 21 2009 The Mint Los Angeles, California
Oct 22 2009 The Independent San Francisco, California
Oct 23 2009 The Red Fox Tavern Eureka, California
Oct 24 2009 Mississippi Studios Portland, Oregon
Oct 25 2009 Tractor Tavern Seattle, Washington

You can listen to more of the new songs over on the Assembly of Dust Myspace page. You can also download an mp3 for the track "Arc of the Sun" that features Mike Gordon of Phish right here.

Friday's Earful: Dragonette @ The Mercury Lounge

By: Deirdre Bones

Dragonette are one of those bands that seem to have the all of the right ingredients for superstardom - a hip, sassy lead singer; a sharp, well put together sound and mischievous lyrics, yet for some reason, major success has eluded them. Recently, the Canadian electro-pop outfit played a one-off show at New York City's Mercury Lounge to an audience of perhaps about fifty people which, admittedly, was probably a reasonable turnout for a Tuesday night. With a new album Fixin’ To Thrill due out at the end of the summer they were eager to impress this crowd.
Lead singer, Martina Sorbora, led the charge, maintaining a great connection with the crowd throughout the show, a feat unquestionably facilitated by a group of girls camped directly in front of the stage who seemed to have a near evangelical-like devotion to the band. They may have been Canadian.

A good chemistry between the band members themselves was also very apparent, probably helped by the fact that Sorbora and bassist Dan Kurtz are married. Some technical problems seemed to mar the first few songs of the show resulting with Sorbora’s earpiece not working – nevertheless she trooped on and gave a fine performance. Her strong, smooth and somewhat girlie voice held wonderfully throughout the set as she sang some decidedly un-girly songs about the joys of being someone’s mistress and getting a little crazy with the razor blades. Their performance included a solid mix of old and new songs.

After seeing Dragonette, I found myself wondering “why aren’t they more popular?” They moved to London some time back, perhaps with the impression that the UK market had more openings for their brand of electro-glam rock, but it seems that even there, they were either ahead or behind the times, depending on who you ask. Despite supporting some major UK acts such as the Sugababes and Basement Jaxx, they do not seem to have garnered much success over there either. Perhaps Fixin’ To Thrill will buy them a larger audience but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Set List:

Gone Too Far
Take it Like a Man
Big Sunglasses
Pick Up the Phone
Come On, Be Good
Stupid Grin
True Believer
Get Your Titties Off My Things
I Get Around
Black Limousine
Fixin' to Thrill

Dodos Tour Dates and Mp3 Download

The Dodo's have a new "record" - Time to Die - coming out this September but the download version is already selling like hotcakes as they used to say in the old days. The third disc from the band, produced by Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes, The Shins), is tearing up the Amazon download charts while the old fashioned "cd" version will hit the streets September 15th. The Dodos will also hit the streets shortly thereafter with a two month fall tour. The tour dates are all with New Zealands' Ruby Suns.

9/26 - Henry Miller Library - Big Sur, CA
9/27 - El Rey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
9/28 - Casbah - San Diego, CA
9/29 - Club Congress - Tucson, AZ
9/30 - Modified - Phoenix, AZ
10/2 - House of Blues, Pontiac Garage - Dallas, TX
10/3 - The Orange Show - Houston, TX
10/4 - Austin City Limits Festival - Austin, TX
10/6 - Club Downunder - Tallahassee, FL
10/7 - The Earl - Atlanta, GA
10/8 - Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC
10/9 - Rock and Roll Hotel - Washington DC
10/10 - Talking Head - Baltimore, MD
10/12 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA
10/13 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY
10/14 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY
10/15 - Middle East Downstairs - Cambridge, MA
10/16 - La Sala Rossa - Montreal, QC
10/17 - Lee’s Palace - Toronto, ON
10/19 - Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL
10/20 - Turf Club - St. Paul, MN
10/22 - Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO
10/24 - Neurolux - Boise, ID
10/25 - Aladdin Theatre - Portland, OR
10/26 - The Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, BC

You can get more info on the Dodo's website. Meanwhile if you haven't heard the new record yet you can download a new Dodo's mp3 track here: "Fables."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday's Earful: Living Colour "Behind The Sun"

By: David Schultz

On September 15, The Chair In The Doorway, the first studio album from Living Colour since 2003, will hit stores (or what passes for a record store these days). To whet appetites for the return of one of the greatest and often unsung bands of the pre-Grunge era, Living Colour has made one track, "Behind The Sun" available well ahead of the album's release.

If the song is any indication of the rest of the album, it marks a departure from the booming, avant-metal scree that permeated healthy portions of Stain and Collideoscope, the two Living Colour albums with current bassist Doug Wimbish. While not as funky as "Glamour Boys," "Behind The Sun" echoes back to the brashness of Vivid, their eye-opening debut; Corey Glover's voice sounds as strong and crisp as ever and with Wimbish, Vernon Reid and Will Calhoun, you get three artists who can be called the best at what they do.

However, why talk about it when you can download it and enjoy it yourself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday's Earful: The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Celebrates 25 Years

By: David Schultz

The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a pair of All-Star concerts at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The October 29 show will feature Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Paul Simon playing solo and with Art Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder and Crosby, Stills & Nash and Friends. The next night will showcase U2, Eric Clapton, Metallica and Aretha Franklin. If the Queen of Soul joins Metallica for “Enter Sandman,” it goes down as the greatest show of all time. Everyone announced as performing at the celebration is an inductee in the Hall of Fame. Unlike any sporting event featuring participation from Hall of Famers, this one shouldn’t be embarrassing in the least.

Notwithstanding Madison Square Garden’s status as the Mecca of all arenas, it’s hardly surprising that these shows are occurring in New York City. Ever since awarding the Hall of Fame to Cleveland, Ohio and hosting a mega-concert at Municipal Stadium in conjunction with the opening of the museum in September 1995, its trustees have a horrible tendency to seem like they are distancing themselves from the city. The recent creation of the New York annex rankled some feathers with Clevelanders who have grown sensitive to this issue, especially in light of the fact that practically every induction ceremony has been held in Manhattan and not at the Hall of Fame.

Having the shows in Cleveland would have been a great boon to the city and probably made it possible for fans unconnected to the music industry to get in to the show. As long as they are being held in the Big Apple, look for these icons to play the equivalent of corporate boondoggle. Sniping and grousing aside, the proceeds of the show are earmarked for a permanent endowment for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday's Earful: Cornmeal

By: David Schultz

Chicago; one of the most fertile breeding grounds for the blues, a Petri dish for the evolution and urbanization of the Mississippi Delta blues on the northern side of the Mason-Dixon line. With the Blues Brothers and Buddy Guy being amongst the Windy City’s most recognizable icons, a double-take upon hearing praise heaped on a Chicago-based bluegrass band might not be unwarranted. Atypical purveyors of the Southern genre, Cornmeal expand on the traditionally twangy conception of the genre, giving it a weighty, almost psychedelic heft.

At the 2008 Jammy Awards, I got my only exposure to Cornmeal when Allie Kral sat in with a patchwork quilt of a group that included Tea Leaf Green, Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd & The Monsters and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. The crowded stage didn’t provide the best showcase for Kral’s remarkable stage presence. Cornmeal’s set last week at New York City’s Mercury Lounge offered a much better opportunity to see why people rave about the Chicago based band and, in the absence of another Jammy Awards, get a close-up view of the New Groove of the Year emeritus.

Like Railroad Earth, Cornmeal gets a robust range of Americana-drenched drama using all acoustic instruments. Chris Gangi works the standup bass in an unconventional style, Kris Nowack plays an unrelenting acoustic guitar and Kral is about an exciting a fiddle playing as you will ever come across. (Wavy) Dave Burlingame plays a mean 21st century banjo, giving many of Cornmeal’s jams an aura reminiscent of the mystical reverb of “No Quarter” and Houses Of The Holy era Led Zeppelin. Capable of playing in a more traditional style, the true fun comes when they accelerate into a hurricane gale that bluegrass' easy-picking originators could never have fathomed. It's like a non-stop version of "I Know You Rider" that constantly threatens to careen off the rails.

Even though she’s not set up to be the star of the show, it’s hard to take your eyes of the lovely Kral while she’s on stage. One of my pet peeves about reading account of shows in when the reviewer describes someone’s playing as effortless. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. Did they play without sweating? Did everyone else on stage look like they were struggling with their parts? If it sounded so good while they weren’t making an effort, could it have sounded better if they tried? That all being said, parts of Kral’s performance actually did see effortless. Not the times where she furiously tore into the fiddle solos, stirring the crowd into a mild frenzy but more the parts where she stepped back and blended in with the rest of the band, letting her fiddle drop from her chin and truly making a difficult instrument seem easy to play.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's Earful: Leroy Justice @ The Mercury Lounge; Phish

By: David Schultz

If this were 1973, the Mercury Lounge would not be the locale for a Leroy Justice gig, they would be further uptown headlining Madison Square Garden as part of a rambling caravan style tour. Alas, in 2009, heartfelt Let It Bleed style rock and roll that soars to enthralling levels when aired out on stage doesn’t have the ready-built audience that it did in the Seventies. The Baby Boomers that would eat this stuff up won’t put up with the dearth of parking spaces for their minivans on the Lower East Side and they have likely lost their ability to feel comfortable within the Spartan conditions of the Mercury Lounge. It’s truly a shame that classic rock radio, where it still exists, doesn’t reach down to find those bands keeping that spirit alive. Unless you are NPR-approved indie rock or singer-songwriter mooted Adult Album Alternative ready, there’s no way to connect with an audience that’s unlikely to leave their living room on a weekday night.

Leroy Justice’s Thursday night set at their hometown digs served up liberal spoonfuls from The Loho Sessions, their recently released sophomore effort. Opening with a gritty version of the loping “Temporary Cure,” whose guitar riff immediately brings you in to Justice’s world, they offered up an inspired version of “Mickey,” with its marvelous singalong chorus and a measured version of “Out To Sea.” With Bradley Wegner and Josh Karis providing the rhythm, Justice’s set gave you an idea of what some early Black Crowes shows must have felt like, even down to the American flag draped over Sloan Marshall’s keyboard setup. Marshall emerged from behind the keys to add some harmonica flourishes to a bluesy stripped-down version of “Revolution’s Son” and they closed their set by restoring all the bar-band glory to “Last 4 Ozs.”

Brendan Cavanaugh is emerging as a genuine powerhouse of a guitarist. At their last appearance at the Merc, a release party for The Loho Sessions. Cavanaugh dazzled with an amazing array of slide guitar licks. Showing his versatility, he set aside the slide this evening, his solos fitting more into the classic rock mode, picking and choosing his spots with the finesse of Warren Haynes. A more animated presence on stage, lead singer Jason Gallagher exudes the confidence of a consummate frontman, his infectious enjoyment of being on stage quickly spreading throughout the crowd.

If you’re growing weary of cycling though your well-worn copies of Cream, Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers, rest assured, there is Justice is in this world.

LAST HALLOWEEN, AT THE BITTER END, Leroy Justice offered up a start to finish cover of The Beatles’ Let It Be, tapping into a tradition of donning a musical costume that dates back to Phish’s late 90s shows which included All Hallow’s Eve covers of The Who’s Quadrophenia and the Velvet Underground’s Loaded. After playing a Where’s Waldo style game with their fans in releasing the location, Phish will be reclaiming their legacy this October in Indio, California, the site of the annual Coachella activities. Hosting Festival 8, a three day festival of eight sets, one of which will be a resurrection of the “costume” gimmick, Phish has started speculation over who they will be for Halloween.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Earful: Fever Ray

For anyone that might have heard of Karen Dreijer Andersson before reading this, it’s likely as the sisterly half of the enigmatic familial Swedish duo, The Knife. On her recently released solo debut, released under the not-so-secret guise of Fever Ray, Andersson has crafted the soundtrack from any episode of Miami Vice that featured a troubled Crockett & Tubbs pensively travelling down the highway or required Don Johnson to dump a girlfriend who just happened to be involved in the crime being investigated. Occasionally using studio distortion to completely mask her identity, Andersson uses her vocals to accentuate the mood of the variety of thumping ambient beats. It creates a slyly seductive form of industrial raga, like unleashing the Swedish pop demons that lurk beneath the slickest of mainstream hits upon the sound system of a dank, basement club.

A captivating effort, Andersson warbles seductively and often wails away with Bjork-like abandon. In doing so, Fever Ray yanks you out of your comfort zone but you will truly enjoy the experience. Going against the grain of the notoriously theater-shy mein of The Knife. Andersson will embark on a United States tour this fall, including two shows at New York City's Bowery Ballroom

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday's Earful: The Brawl To End It All

By: David Schultz

Today marks the 25th anniversary of The Brawl To End It All - a battle between WWF Women's champion The Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter. The event, broadcast live on MTV, marked the beginning of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection that would catapult Hulk Hogan into an uncharted stratosphere of fame for a professional wrestler. The woman at the center of the hoopla, the event's most important participant, wasn't even participating in the match. Pop star Cyndi Lauper, a newcomer on the road to winning the next year's Grammy for Best new Artist, was in the corner of the challenger, cheering her on to defeat a champion who had held onto her belt for nearly 30 years.

On the strength of She's So Unusual, her bubbly debut, and the widespread appeal of her perky video for "Girl's Just Want To Have Fun," Lauper was one of the hottest female singers of the time. Encouraged by her manager/boyfriend David Wolff, Lauper became involved with the WWF, appearing on Piper's Pit with Capt. Lou Albano to refute the portly manager's claim that in addition to appearing as Lauper's father in her video, he was solely responsible for guiding her successful career. Like most things in the world of pro wrestling, it got physical and Lauper ending up beating on Albano with her handbag.

With Lauper managing Richter and Albano managing the legendary Moolah, the match was high on spectacle but low on real wrestling, especially by today's standards. After pushing Richter into the corner face first, Moolah planted Richter's shoulders to the mat with a reverse sunset flip. Unbeknownst to Moolah, whose shoulders were pinned to the mat, Richter lifted her right shoulder up before the three count. Only when the ring announcer proclaimed that Richter had won the match did people realize that history had been made.

The broadcast snagged a phenomenal rating for the fledgling video channel, at the time its largest, and sadly may have planted the seeds for non-video, non-music related programming amongst the network heads. While it didn't exactly help Lauper's career, it really didn't do any damage to it either. She would make an occasional appearance for the promotion over the next couple months, culminating at the original Wrestlemania, where she, Mr. T, Liberace, Billy Martin and Muhammad Ali would feature prevalently in the organizations inaugural version of its yearly extravaganza.

A quarter century later, professional wrestling has grown from a series of regional promotions into a field dominated my Vince McMahon and the WWE (nee WWF) through a chain of events that can be traced directly back to Cyndi Lauper's appearance. It's an unlikely legacy for the diminutive singer, who's name is no longer uttered or remembered in pro wrestling circles with the respect that it deserves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday's Earful: The Bee Gees; The Barry Gibb Talk Show

By: David Schultz

I imagine that when NBC executives discussed who should take over Conan O'Brien's late night slot when he moved to 11:30 p.m., they came up with the names of numerous comedians that were worthy of sitting in the seat once occupied by David Letterman, I also imagine that at that point, full of hubris, they dared Lorne Michaels to be successful with someone who showed no ability whatsoever to do anything but laugh at his own jokes and ruin movie adaptations of Nick Hornby novels. Jimmy Fallon has destroyed much of what he touches in the name of comedy, including The Bee Gees' 1975 hit "Nights On Broadway," which he and Justin Timberlake uproariously send up as the theme to The Barry Gibb Talk Show.

When the song popped on an oldies radio station this weekend, I found it impossible to let it go by without singing along. "Talking it up/on the Barry Gibb Talk Show. Talking about issues . . . " Fallon and funny should rarely be used in the same sentence but it's appropriate here. If you've ever seen the skit (I believe there are 4), you will never listen to the song the same way again.

If a Volkswagen commercial could resurrect Nick Drake and "Pink Moon" from Goth-kid cult status, how did The Barry Gibb Talk Show not revive "Nights On Broadway" from the sixth circle of Disco hell in which it's currently imprisoned?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's Earful: The Real Moon Walk

By: David Schultz

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong took what he described as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” descending from Apollo 11 onto the surface of the moon. In Cleveland, Ohio, my father set his 3 month old son in front of the television to watch this historic event with the thought that as I grew older I would be able to tell people that I saw man walk on the moon. While I can’t proclaim to have any recollection of the event, I know Mr. Schultz will be happy that I am telling you this story on the 40th anniversary of the moonwalk. (I’ve never been clear where my mother was for all of this. She’s always silent when Dad recounts the story).

Provoking numerous violent outbursts from Buzz Aldrin, buffoons and idiots have ridiculously claimed that the moon walk never happened, believing that Michael Jackson is the true originator of the moon walk. The MythBusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, debunked all the conspiracy theories but yet, as the Bush presidency has taught us, some people just don’t trust science.

To celebrate today’s anniversary, we give you the appropriate playlist to plug into your iPod. Much of David Bowie’s catalog had to be omitted from this list as Ziggy Stardust was from Mars, not the moon.

“Puttin’ People On The Moon” – Drive-By Truckers

“Man On The Moon” – R.E.M.

“Walking On The Moon” – The Police

“Moondance” – Van Morrison

“Moon, Turn The Tides . . . Gently, Gently” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

“Moonlight Mile” – The Rolling Stones

“Bad Side Of The Moon” – Elton John

“Pink Moon” – Nick Drake

“Marquee Moon” – Television

“Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

For clearing out the bar with the exception of old men who would like to nurse their whisky:

“Fly Me To The Moon” – Frank Sinatra

“Moon River” – Henry Mancini (the Breakfast at Tiffany’s version)

and of course, you would have to listen to the entirety of

Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd

Monday, July 20, 2009

Carla Bruni and Dave Stewart Cover Bob Dylan for Mandela

In the U.S., we all know Carla Bruni is a much talked about fashion icon. But, did you know the First Lady of France has sold over 2 million records? I have to admit that I didn't. You can judge for yourself if she's got pipes as she teams with Dave Stewart below to cover Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind" for a birthday celebration for Nelson Mandela.

Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Josh Groban were also among those who performed at the event honoring Mandela. Over the years, acts as diverse as Carlos Santana, Tracy Chapman and Whitney Houston have paid tribute to the human rights icon. His now famous prison number 46664 was the moniker for a series of AIDS awareness concerts that featured Beyonce, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant and many others.

Monday's Earful: Paul McCartney @ Citi Field

By: David Schultz

Unless you are new to this whole classic rock thing, you might have heard that in 1965 The Beatles played a relatively historic show at the recently opened Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York. About a year ago, when Billy Joel played Shea’s last concert in July of 2008, you couldn’t avoid hearing about the stadium’s memorable first one, especially when Paul McCartney appeared to play “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Let It Be.” With Shea Stadium demolished, the Beatle bassist’s return to play the first three shows at the glossy, spanking new Citi Field felt right and proper. At Friday night’s show, the first of three while the Mets are on a road trip, McCartney made no attempt to avoid talking about the 44 year old elephant in the stadium, referring often to the fact that when he played there many, many years ago, no one could hear a thing due to the girls in the crowd screaming their heads off. This Beatles’ no rookie; every time he mentioned this fact with an impish grin on his face, he produced the intended effect of getting every girl to howl as if the 67-year-old musician was once again a mop-topped youth.

When McCartney toured in the early 90s, his shows were notable for his attempt to reclaim his own Beatles songs by reintroducing them into his set list, most significantly the mammothly crowd-pleasing “Hey Jude.” As he’s not shied from his legendary material in the past two decades, especially at high profile gigs like Live 8 and the Super Bowl, it seems odd to imagine that McCartney playing “Hey Jude” was once a stupefyingly, momentous event and generated as much, if not more, excitement than any of the recent reunion tours. Led Zeppelin reuniting to play “Stairway To Heaven” or Jim Morrison rising from the dead to play “Light My Fire” are the only things that come close to explaining its modern day equivalent.

With the clouds of an approaching storm thick enough to completely obscure the overhead planes departing from nearby LaGuardia Airport, McCartney took the stage at the cusp of nightfall, launching into “Drive My Car,” the first of many Beatles classics that would grace Citi Field. The weather would play a none-too-insignificant role in the evening. The slow, unobtrusive drizzle gradually evolved into a steady shower, placing a damper on the middle of McCartney’s set which he populated with digressions into some of his less-inspired recent solo material. Once the weather broke and “Flaming Pie” and Fireman songs were replaced by “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “Paperback Writer,” “Day Tripper” and a stage-exploding, fireworks-laden rendition of “Live And Let Die,” the night became everything everyone had hoped it would be.

For two and a half hours, McCartney brought Citi Field on a nostalgia filled trip down memory lane. He covered all eras of The Beatles as well as revved up many of the best songs from Band On The Run, his best album with Wings. Included within the show were nice homages to fallen friends and lovers. A visibly emotional McCartney dedicated “My Love” to his first wife Linda, accentuating the fact that the man who once professed that all you needed was love may now include a footnote about needing a good pre-nuptial agreement. Playing a ukulele given to him by George Harrison, McCartney turned an initially simple reading of his mate’s “Something” into a lush gorgeous stadium-quality workout. Tug Of War’s “Here Today” was played for John but the real Lennon tribute came when McCartney abruptly transformed a straightforward version of “A Day In The Life” into a sing-along version of Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance.”

Notwithstanding McCartney’s offhanded quip that they already played “Back In The U.S.S.R.” upon hearing a plane flying overhead, the show didn’t really have a loose, spontaneous feel to it. One of the problems is that there’s very little left to be told about The Beatles. Since their breakup, hundreds of books have been written containing an endless number of anecdotes and stories with every bit of Beatle trivia and minutia being dissected under a microscope. Consequently, McCartney has very few stories to tell that we haven’t already heard. After an instrumental segueway that relied heavily on “Foxy Lady,” McCartney related the tale of Hendrix playing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” within hours of the album’s release. A fine story . . . only it’s beyond a twice-told tale.

The author (or co-author) of a legendary catalog of generation-defining songs as well as a central participant in the birth of the live concert experience, McCartney can get away with stage theatrics for which others should be rightly lambasted. With Vegas-like schmaltz, McCartney announced his last song and went into the reprise of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Band” with its cloyingly appropriate “we hope you have enjoyed the show” and after hitting the meaty section of “Carry That Weight,” finished with The Beatles’ definitive statement, “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” For anyone but McCartney, such a cloying ending to a show would be cringeworthy. To have it come accompanied by the songs behind the words was simply divine.

If breaking the musical champagne bottle against the hull of the new Queens stadium in the same manner as The Beatles christened the old one wasn’t enough to fulfill anyone’s sense of continuity, bringing Billy Joel out to reciprocate his Last Play At Shea guest spot for a quick run through “I Saw Her Standing There” brought everything full circle.

IN THE YEAR SINCE BILLY JOEL played Shea Stadium, the issues that cast a blemish upon the evening of anyone who traveled by public transportation have been radically improved. Instead of a herd of people being corralled like sheep towards the subway entrance, a 45 minute clusterfuck of incompetence, the post-McCartney crowd was greeted with a straight shot to the subway platforms, constant announcements that identified which tracks would be running express and local, competent, pleasant and dare-I-say it humorous personnel. In the time it took to do last year’s Bataan Death March, you were already back in New York City. I have no clue whether this is the result of the Citi Field management, the New York City Transit Authority or some organization that beneficently fixes colossal municipal screw-ups but whoever is responsible deserves serious praise.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's Earful: New York Noise; Art Decade

By: David Schultz

In the days when MTV showed music videos as its prime form of entertainment, Sunday nights were always unique. On 120 Minutes, MTV would devote two hours of airtime to alternative rock music, featuring videos from the likes of R.E.M., The Replacements, Jane's Addiction and The Smiths. Most of the acts that 120 Minutes covered gained a hefty bit of renown as alt-rock morphed into modern rock, leaving the show without a scene to unearth. The spirit of 120 Minutes has been revived on New York television with NYC TV's New York Noise. which airs every Wednesday night at 11:00 p.m. and Sunday night at midnight (120 Minutes' old time slot). Focusing primarily on New York based bands, the one hour video show has a decidedly indie-bent to it and is probably the only show airing clips from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Lykke Li and Yeasayer. YouTube knocks the show down from being essential viewing but doesn't make the minimalist little video show any less entertaining.

BACK WHEN I WAS IN high school, I had a running battle with my friend's younger brother over who had more CDs. Although I remember always being in the lead, in all honesty my memory is likely faulty, very faulty. Under the pseudonym, Emmett, the younger brother, Adam Rosen, is now one of the knowledgeable group of musical curators over at Art Decade, a blog specializing in the music of the "Long Seventies." In addition to unearthing some cool bootlegs, these guys will turn you on to music from often-unknown bands from the classic rock decade that will completely blow your mind. Check them out and prepare to spend some time listening to what they've found. In the meantime, I will assess whether I could win an mp3 challenge against Adam. (Likely not; curses!!).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Michael Jackson Song Released

A new Michael Jackson recording has been released. According to TMZ, the song "A Place With No Name" is a take off on the old America classic "A Horse With No Name," which American first scored a hit with in 1971 in the UK then scored a #1 here in the US in 1972.

TMZ further reports that Jackson received permission years ago to use the song and there is no confirmation as to when Jackson actually made the recording. Nevertheless, this is the first of what is bound to be several posthumous releases from Michael.

You can download the new Michael Jackson song here. What do you think?

Thursday's Earful: Dave Matthews Band

By: David Schultz

In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser’s expose on all facets of the fast food industry, he confronts the fact that McDonald’s does an incredible amount of business despite the low nutritional value of their food. Basically, McDonald’s tastes good and it tastes good because it’s designed and engineered to taste good. Schlosser’s thoughts popped into my head while listening to Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. Not that the Dave Matthews Band’s music has little value; to the contrary, any band with Stefan Lessard, Boyd Tinsley and especially Carter Beauford has a lot going on. Rather, the DMB sounds good cause they’re built to sound that way. It may not sound like it but that’s a compliment.

Bands spend innumerable hours trying to come up with an appealing sound. Some even go the other way and try to curry favor by being as unappealing as they can. Since emerging in the mid 90s, the Dave Matthews Band has managed to brew up a large catalog of relatively inoffensive yet highly enjoyable songs. A DMB song accomplishes music's most difficult trick, it's designed to sound good . . . to everybody.

The memory of Leroi Moore, the titular Groogrux King, looms large throughout Big Whiskey. It's not a "Tears In Heaven" style eulogy though; Moore appears on the majority of the album, much of the recording sessions having taken place before the unfortunate ATV accident that led to his untimely death. His plaintive sax opens and closes the album, the latter in a repetitious code reminiscent of the loop The Beatles snuck into Sgt. Peppers' runoff groove.

On Big Whiskey, Matthews goes through the numerous cycles of his vocal range: high falsetto, smooth Peter Gabriel-like growl, schoolyard chanting and stream of consciousness scatting. He hasn’t really added much over the years, only he doesn’t have to. The way in which he’s able to insinuate his voice into the rest of the band’s intricate playing remains a calling card of the band. The album separates itself from the pack halfway through with "Squirm," the simple power chords played throughout giving a Matthews song a rare fist pumping surge. Matthews has such a clear-cut image, mainly based upon the surfeit of songs that revolve around existential happiness, that "Time Bomb," detailing a descent into madness takes on a Patrick Bateman vibe as it kicks into high gear. The family man is also present: "Alligator Pie (Cockadile)" centers on his daughter's desire for Dad to put her in a song.

The album may not live up to its purported hype of being the best DMB album ever but it is one of their most entertaining and ambitious releases since Under The Table And Dreaming.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's Earful: BuzzUniverse; Loggins & Messina

By: David Schultz

THIS SUMMER, THE NEW YORK City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Union Square Partnership are putting on a series of shows entitled Summer In The Square, which they describe as a "vibrant mixture of children's entertainment, fitness activities, and musical performances." Unless BuzzUniverse has undergone a radical transformation, they would fall into the "musical performance" category and a fine choice at that. Their Thursday night set will start at 6:00 p.m. and only last an hour, so use this as a great excuse to leave work at a normal hour and go get Buzzed. Photo by Scott Bernstein.

PROVING THAT ANY BAND THAT enjoyed a modicum of success in the Seventies can make a go with a reunion tour, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina are travelling around America at the end of the summer. Starting August 20 in Hyannis, MA, Loggins & Messina will be hitting up every available vineyard, casino and amphitheater until the end of October. Even with Poco opening up many of the shows, $90 seems quite steep . . . unless they open and close with twenty minute versions of "Angry Eyes."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday's Earful: Levon Helm

By: David Schultz

In 1968, Chess Records thought it would be a fantastic idea to modernize Muddy Waters by bringing him into the studio to record an album of psychedelic blues. Re-recording classics like “Mannish Boy,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You” and “Hoochie Coochie Man,” Electric Mud attempted to introduce Waters to the same group of blues aficionados that were buying Hendrix and Cream albums in droves. Even though the legendary bluesman didn’t think much of the results, the album became one of Water’s best-selling albums and influenced quite a few musicians. One such group of musicians that loved Waters before and after Electric Mud was The Band, especially Levon Helm. In later years Waters would record at Helm’s studio and the drummer was insistent on Waters being part of The Last Waltz.

Electric Dirt doesn’t represent Helm’s foray into anything psychedelic or experimental but its nod to Waters’ album is more than a coincidence. Helm and his Midnight Ramble band, featuring Larry Campbell, his wife Teresa Williams and Helm’s daughter Amy, expand on the quaint folksy sound of The Dirt Farmer, his Grammy-winning effort from 2007, livening up some standards, including a couple Muddy Waters covers, introducing a few originals and nabbing “Tennessee Jed” from The Grateful Dead. Produced by Campbell, a charter member of Helm’s Rambles, the consummate sideman has been an integral cog to the drummer’s recent renaissance much like he’s been central to the resurgence of Phil Lesh & Friends and Bob Dylan’s reinvention as a touring machine. By keeping the recording in the family, all of the staples of Helm’s Rambles are present: the horn section busts out a true New Orleans flair on Randy Newman’s “Kingfish” and Campbell’s violin brings out every bit of pathos in Helm’s distinctively raspy voice.

Since battling back throat cancer, Helm's career has entered into an extended encore. It's given his many fans a chance to show how much the lovably irascible drummer has meant to them and allowed Helm to make some of the strongest music of his career. Electric Dirt would work in any era but coming now, it shows that Helm still may have a lot of music left in his soul.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday's Earful: Pearl Jam; Disco Demolition Night

By: David Schultz

A couple weeks back on Real Time with Bill Maher, Billy Bob Thornton veered into a digression about the disposable nature of the current spate of popular music. In support of his point that no great artists have emerged over the past thirty years, he posed the question, “One hundred years from now, who will we still be talking about that began their career after 1980?” The default answer is usually Michael Jackson but despite becoming the icon of the 80s, his career started well before then with The Jackson 5. “He’s one of mine,” said Thornton. In the end, Thornton thought there would be only two: R.E.M. and U2. While most will immediately realize that we will likely still be talking about Madonna and Nirvana in 2109, I tend to think we will also be talking about Pearl Jam.

In the 90s, grunge burst out of the Pacific Northwest and for many, saved rock and roll from the hair metal and power ballads that threatened to steal its soul. Nirvana, Mudhoney, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden led the way with Pearl Jam following shortly thereafter, their emergence delayed by the fact that they had yet to form. The majority of Pearl Jam’s lineup was already together as Mother Love Bone but after the death of lead singer Andrew Wood shortly after the release of their 1990 debut, they brought in Eddie Vedder. Pearl Jam was born and the rest, as the lazy tend to say, is history.

Most of the original grunge bands followed the mantra of Neil Young, the genre’s undisputed godfather, by burning out instead of fading away. All except Pearl Jam. The sole survivor of the flannel era is still going strong and their ninth studio album, Backspacer, comes out later this year. Why will we and why should we still be talking about Pearl Jam in 100 years? Well, they are one of the rare bands that managed to retain the same close connection with their fanbase as they grew from playing clubs to headlining arenas. To their own detriment, they battled Ticketmaster over service charges that prevented them from keeping their ticket prices below $20, testifying before Congress in support of their failed bid to be David to the ticket giant’s Goliath. No one would ever lump Pearl Jam into the jamband category, however their fanbase’s sense of community, their avid following of the band’s tours and the wholehearted dedication to the live experience draws many favorable comparisons with the Grateful Dead’s legion of loyal Deadheads. Acknowledging that their live shows were being widely bootlegged, they officially released modestly priced soundboard recordings of entire tour’s worth of shows, trumping the bootleggers and creating the blueprint that jambands like Phish would follow.

In throwing out names like Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, Thornton clearly was thinking of artists that have had a lasting effect on the music we listen too. In that regard, perhaps Pearl Jam may not be one of the bands our grandkids refer to with reverence as musical innovators or genre groundbreakers. However, when fans are still paying Ticketmaster exorbitant service fees in 2109 and their favorite band is trying to keep ticket prices under $350 a seat, Pearl Jam’s name should be invoked as visionaries and their efforts to beat back the corporate influence in rock and roll spoken of with respect and admiration.

YESTERDAY MARKED THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY of Disco Demolition Night, the date that is traditionally considered the night Disco died. In between games of a doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago, disc jockey Steve Dahl blew up a crate of disco records in centerfield. The ensuing riot that broke out afterwards rivaled the Cleveland Indians' infamous 10 cent beer night promotion and resulted in the cancellation of the second game. Besides getting a chance to see a young Greg Gumbel and Gene Siskel, this collection of news footage does a fantastic job of showing how the local Chicago media treated the event with an overblown sense of seriousness and were looking for meaning in a drunken ballpark fiasco.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's Earful: Handsome Furs @ The Bowery Ballroom; Pearl Jam; Relentless7

By: David Schultz

For a band that doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition, you need a scorecard to keep track of the members of Wolf Parade and their various side projects. Spencer Krug moonlights as the leader of Sunset Rubdown, whose fourth full length album, Dragonslayer, recently came out on Jagjaguwar, as well as Swan Lake; Dante DeCaro moonlights with Hot Hot Heat and more relevant to this discussion, Dan Boeckner keeps everything in the family, teaming up with his lusty wife Alexei Perry as the Handsome Furs.

Face Control, the Handsome Furs' recently released on Sub Pop Records, is a fun electro-punk romp and this past Tuesday, the anti-Captain & Tennille simply tore it up at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. Like he's leading a raved-up version of The Clash or a throwback version of U2, Boeckner simply shreds on guitar, sliding from the danceable guitar riffs of “Legal Tender” and “Evangeline” to alternative noise on a moment’s notice. As animated a performer as Boeckner can be, he gets upstaged by his wife. Banging away at her keyboard and drum machine, Perry embodies the spirit of a coked-out Keith Moon only its being channelled through an energetic porn star with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. Whether it’s testing the binding powers of her tube top or attempting a standing split, it was hard to take your eyes of the Boeckner's energetic spouse.

Watching Boeckner and Perry trash and gyrate on stage, baiting each other in a hormone fueled game of cat-and-mouse, was a bit of a voyeuristic thrill. None of my married friends seem to have as much fun together as these two. If they did, they would be infinitely more fun to be around. It also made for an incredible live show. The raw passion and gritty verve of the music, generated with striking simplicity, was the stuff of memorable live shows. It's what you go to innumerable shows in dingy basements and beer soaked bar rooms in the hopes of seeing once.

THE BOWERY BALLROOM BILL INCLUDED a forgettable set from Dri. A wonderful deliberate take on The Helio Sequence's "Lately" standing out from her warmed over reggae repertoire. The same can't be said for Virginia's The Cinnamon Band: the guitar and drums duo of John Harouff and Neil Campbell proving to be eminently entertaining and far more satisfying.

PEARL JAM'S NINTH STUDIO ALBUM, Backspacer, will hit Target stores and independent retailers on September 20. After years of being a thorn in the side of global corporations, the grunge-rock godfathers seem rather nonplussed about teaming up with the megamart. To promote the album, Eddie Vedder and company will embark on a brief U.S tour with Ben Harper and Relentless7 opening the majority of the shows. With Harper taking a harder edge on White Lies For Hard Times, Relentless7 should be an optimal opening act.

The tour dates:

September 21 - Seattle, WA: Key Arena
September 22 - Seattle WA: Key Arena
September 30 - Los Angeles, CA: Gibson Amphitheatre
October 1 - Los Angeles, CA: Gibson Amphitheatre
October 6 - Los Angeles, CA: Gibson Amphitheatre
October 7 - Los Angeles, CA: Gibson Amphitheatre
October 9 - San Diego, CA: Viejas Arena
October 28 - Philadelphia, PA: The Spectrum (no Harper)
October 30 - Philadelphia, PA: The Spectrum (no Harper)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thursday's Earful: Peter Gabriel; Youssou N'Dour

In the Mid-Eighties, World of Music, Arts & Dance co-founder Peter Gabriel regularly brought Youssou N'Dour on tour with him, introducing the Senegalese superstar to audiences outside of Africa. Customarily, N'Dour would open each show with his own band and return for Gabriel's encore to provide backing vocals for "In Your Eyes" and "Biko." For the 3rd annual WOMAD Charlton Park festival in Wiltshire, England, taking place July 24-26, the two will share a bill once more with the former Genesis lead singer headlining Saturday night and N'Dour and his band, Super Etoile de Dakar, as Sunday night's featured attraction.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday's Earful: Will Dailey; The Hipster Olympics

By: David Schultz

Long before Michael Jackson’s death reawakened interest in his back catalog or that guy from American Idol got unfairly lauded for his stripped down version of “Billie Jean,” Boston area singer-songwriter Will Dailey had already been offering up his own acoustic rendition of The King of Pop’s Thriller classic as part of his live sets. Naturally, everyone gravitated towards Chris Cornell’s take after the its resurrection on Fox’s glorified talent show, once more proving the sad inclination of the mass media to fail to do their homework in favor of the easy access of YouTube.

Addressing the current climate in which albums are no longer the key to finding acclaim amongst the Internet, Dailey has begun to digitally release EPs at the clip of one a season. Dubbed the Torrent project, Dailey will release a new batch of songs every three months and then compile the results in a more formal manner with Torrents 1 & 2, combining Fashion Of Distraction, By The Blue Hills and two additional tracks for the inaugural edition. For the most part, Torrents is a standard singer-songwriter album and will probably appeal more to listeners that are already familar with Dailey's work. The best songs come when he adds musicians or strips down the sound: "Tomorrow Still Comes" and "The Right One" are nice bursts of fresh-faced pop which benefit from the fuller sound of a band and "Hands" and "Too Long," the two bonus tracks have a nice lilting quality, focusing more on Dailey's voice and lyrics than the strumming guitar.

DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE, your only interaction with hipsters might be through seeing them mentioned on sites like this one. I am sure that in some places around the world, the only cultural reference to hipsters comes from Kramer stressing over being called a "hipster dufus" on an episode of Seinfeld. With thanks to U-Melt's Rob Salzer for discovering this on YouTube, take notes and enjoy The Hipster Olympics.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday's Earful: Steve Knopper - Appetite For Self-Destruction

By: David Schultz

When did the music business become such a mess? Why is there an expectation that music should be free? When people seem to be more interested in new music then ever before, why are the major labels hurting so badly? How did the most informed and highest paid executives in the music industry - the best and the brightest - completely bungle the digital transformation of the business? Through countless interviews and meticulous research, Rolling Stone’s Steve Knopper answers these questions, compiling the myriad of stories and anecdotes about the major label’s handling of the emergence of digital technology into Appetite For Self-Destruction, a compact narrative that moves briskly through thirty years of colorful characters, questionable calls and misguided decisions.

Starting with the death of disco and an entertaining explanation of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, Knopper charts the ensuing recession in the music industry and its rescue by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the invention of the compact disc and the rise of boy bands like ‘NSync and The Backstreet Boys. Documenting the major labels' fascination with selling “pieces of plastic,” Appetite For Self-Destruction succinctly sets forth and explains the mindset that led to an entire industry missing the boat by refusing to embrace mp3s and online distribution.

Unsurprisingly, the most interesting characters that emerge are Shawn Fanning, Napster’s boy genius that the labels tried to turn into the poster child for piracy and theft, and Steve Jobs, who co-opted the online market while the labels were more interested in suing their own customers for copyright infringement. Apple’s iPod radically transformed how people would listen to music and instead of foreseeing its arrival, the labels fiddled while their Rome burned.

Among the interesting tidbits of information contained in Knopper’s enjoyable read is that one of the proposed resolutions to the Napster debacle had the file-sharing site being acquired by the labels and a system set into place that would have salted the earth for the eventual iTunes revolution. A couple label execs foresaw the future but couldn’t garner enough support to be at the forefront of the digital wave. As a result, they were left in its wake.

Ultimately, Knopper comes to the same conclusion that everyone had reached before his book was published: the music industry’s failure to adapt to the new digital landscape can be summed up in one word – greed. Too much money was being made on the markup of exorbitantly priced compact discs for them to relinquish their iron grip on their cash cow. Knowing the end of the story doesn’t diminish the impact of learning how it came to be.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Paul McCartney Posts Tribute to Michael Jackson

Paul McCartney posted a tribute to Michael Jackson over the weekend. McCartney, of course, dueted with Michael on "The Girl Is Mine" from the Thriller album and on "Say Say Say" from McCartney's Pipes of Peace. Paul remembered the first time he spoke with Michael and the coincidental lodging choice he made at the time of the "Say Say Say" video:

I first heard from Michael when he phoned me over the Christmas holiday season in 1980 and my initial reaction was “who is this and how did he get my private telephone number?”. Michael laughed and explained who it was and, as we talked and I asked him why he was ringing, he said “Do you wanna make some hits?” and that was the start of our adventure together.

He came over to England with his close friend and minder, Billy and they visited our house in the country many times as Michael and I put together the ideas for our songs together. First of all, we came up with and finished an idea for a song I had started which became Say Say Say. We recorded in Air Studios, London with George Martin producing and eventually went to California to make the video for the song. Funnily enough, I was staying at the ranch that Michael later bought and made into Neverland.

You can read the rest of the tribute to Jackson on McCartney's website.

Allen Klein Dies

Infamous manager Allen Klein died over the weekend. The stereotype many people have of the brusque, strong-arming and unyielding manager comes from Klein and the manner in which he handled his dealings with and on behalf of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

His stint with The Stones ended in a lawsuit over Klein's rights to ownership of some of their songs and he, not Yoko Ono, may have been the prime factor in the breakup of The Beatles. Also among Klein's legacy: John Belushi's brief cameo as the abusive Ron Decline in Eric Idle's The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash is based on Klein. John Lennon made his feelings about his manager quite clear in “Steel And Glass,” from his Walls and Bridges record.

Klein was 77 years old.

Monday's Earful: The Leaves

By: David Schultz

Since Phish burst out of Vermont, the state has rightfully gained a reputation as a breeding ground for earthy, rootsy bands. Coming from the closeknit group of friends and musicians that includes Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Blues & Lasers and Jen Crowell, Burlington favorites The Leaves, fronted by the sweet and powerful Aya Inoue, are ready to emerge from the state’s snowy confines onto a larger stage. Fans of Mike Gordon’s Ramble Dove will remember Inoue as one of the collective’s sprightly young singers and anyone who has seen Blues & Lasers will recognize Steve Sharon as one half of the band’s potent double drum assault. On Saving Your Side, their first full-length release, The Leaves live up to the potential they showed on Timid Line, building and expanding on the delicacy of their wonderful 4-song 2008 EP.

A strong, well-rounded album, Saving Your Side finds Sharon, bassist Cory Beard and guitarist Matt Harpster keeping a gratifying slow burn on Inoue’s smoldering songs, earthy sonnets of emotional restlessness and discontent which occupy the space between modernized Grand Ole Opry country, coffeehouse blues and traditional singer-songwriter based folk music. After incorporating Emmylou Harris as a reference point in “Record Player,” Inoue channels her on “Happier I Guess,” a song resounding with a simplicity that manages to convey its ephemeral doubts. Harpster, whose guitar style is not that dissimilar from Scott Tournet’s, punctuates many of the album’s turning points with some fine solos, providing an insistent pulse to “Who I Am” and “Going Home."

Inoue has a strong voice that carries the boldness and resolve of Gillian Welch but trembles with the same fragile twinges that make Jill Sobule such an alluring singer. After an album’s worth of battered hearts and bruised emotions, the album’s finale, “Movin’ On,” which lets Sharon cut loose a bit on the drums, serves as Saving Your Side’s final blow-off. Singing with a feisty growl, you might get the sense that Inoue walks through life plagued by the ghosts of relationships past. Fear not though, in real life the story has a happy end and The Leaves have a great little album on their hands.

You can hear tracks from the new record and check out show dates on their Myspace page.

Catherine Feeny: Sun Studio Sessions "Belt Loops and Blue Jeans"

Catherine Feeny is a Philadelphia born, but Los Angeles based, singer-songwriter who has had her music featured in the motion picture “Running With Scissors” (Gwyneth Paltrow, Evan Rachel Wood, Annette Benning and Alec Baldwin) and the television series “The OC.” The exposure helped her single “Mr. Blue” reach #1 on the US iTunes charts.

Catherine channels bits of Joni Mitchell, P.J. Harvey and Ani DiFranco but has a style all her own. You can see her here performing "Belt Loops & Blue Jeans" live at Sun Studio:

You can learn more about Catherine and the new album she has due out this fall over on her Myspace page.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fridays Earful: Andrew Bird; St. Vincent; Rothbury

By: David Schultz

Come this fall, the adorable and awesome St. Vincent will be joining Andrew Bird for a month's worth of shows. Without veering into the realm of pretentiousness both St. Vincent (nee Annie Clark) and Bird have carved out nice niches for themselves: she as a rockin' version of Holly Golightly and he as a hip whistling, violin player with a neat looping machine. If St. Vincent's show at Webster Hall and Bird's at Carnegie Hall are any indication, this should be one amazing tour.

The dates for the double bill:

Sept. 29 Indianapolis, IN - The Murat Theatre
Sept. 30 Columbia, MO - The Blue Note

Oct. 3 New Orleans, LA - Tipitina's Uptown
Oct. 5 Birmingham, AL - Workplay Soundstage
Oct. 7 Carrboro, NC - The Cat's Cradle
Oct. 8 Carrboro, NC - The Cat's Cradle
Oct. 9 Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel
Oct. 10 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
Oct. 12 Charleston, SC - The Music Farm
Oct. 13 Knoxville, TN - The Bijou Theater
Oct. 14 Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
Oct. 17 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater
Oct. 18 Kalamazoo, MI - State Theatre
Oct. 19 Columbus, OH - The Southern Theatre
Oct. 21 Buffalo, NY - Asbury Hall at Babeville
Oct. 24 South Portland, ME - S. Portland High School Auditorium
OCt. 25 Philadelphia, PA - The Electric Factory
Oct. 26 South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
Oct. 27 Providence, RI - Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
Oct. 28 Washington, DC - The 930 Club

LAST YEAR, THE ROTHBURY FESTIVAL made fantastic inroads into the summer circuit as a destination event that was well worth the trip to the Midwest. They've outdone themselves this year with sets from Bob Dylan, The Dead and a reunited String Cheese Incident making for a fine slate of headliners. If you are sitting at home wondering what might be going on in Michigan this weekend, check out a couple sets at home by clicking here.

Langhorne Slim: Sun Studio Sessions "Diamonds and Gold"

Langhorne Slim, a modern folky singer-songwriter whom we reviewed here a few years back, has performed on David Letterman and played major festivals like Bonnaroo. Here he performs "Diamonds and Gold" live from Sun Studio:

Langhorne has a new record due out this fall, which insiders tell us is shaping up to be a "big beautiful" record. For more on Langhorne and his tour dates you can visit his Myspace page.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Michael Jackson Rehearsal Video

Video has been released of Michael Jackson rehearsing at the Staples Center just two nights before his death. Jackson looks in pretty good form as he runs through "They Don't Care About Us" with his dancers. You can view the footage here with an eerie ending:

Jackson looks to be enjoying the rehearsal and you can tell he's working hard as has been reported. Indeed, he looks very much like a vibrant Michael Jackson we'd seen in the past. The video is a glimpse of the comeback that might have been. Reports indicate that several of the rehearsals were filmed, so we should expect a new Michael Jackson DVD at some point down the line.

U2 Pays Tribute to Michael Jackson

U2 paid tribute to Michael Jackson during their concert Tuesday night in Barcelona. The band dedicated the iconic "Angel of Harlem", originally written for Billie Holiday, to Michael and infused a medley of Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" into the end of the song.

Introducing the song, Bono described Michael as an "unspeakable talent." And, no Bono did not attempt to moonwalk - which makes sense, given there's not much water on the moon.

The Barcelona show, at Camp Nou stadium, drew over 90,000 fans and was the first of U2's 360 tour. The show set list featured several songs from "No Line on the Horizon and also included classics "One", "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "With or Without You." The tour dates continue through Europe this summer, with the first U.S. dates this September in Chicago.

Thursday's Earful: U-Melt @ Southpaw

By: David Schultz

Brooklyn . . . the County of Kings . . . home of the hipsters. If you have a black T-shirt, thick blocky glasses and can quote lyrics from The National’s last album with the gravitas of Walt Whitman poetry, this is the locale for you. For all the things that you can say about Brooklyn, there is one deep truth about the borough: Brooklyn don’t jam. It’s a fact that can be said with the same certainty that Robert Duvall knew that Charlie didn’t surf. Despite Brooklyn’s preference for the pithy and concise, every so often a band from the jamband community makes a bit of a dent in the aloof community and this past weekend it was U-Melt’s turn to introduce their blend of electronica and progressive rock to Park Slope’s Southpaw.

Doing more in a Mets #7 jersey than the individual who presently wears it, U-Melt’s Rob Salzer continues to build on his reputation as one of the most-electrifying young guitarists. Opening the second set with a psychedelic cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Salzer matched Zac Lasher’s vocals with his guitar, transforming the trippy Revolver classic into a high-powered jam. In a nod to the recently departed Michael Jackson, the song segued into “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” with Lasher pounding out the vocal melody on his keyboards while bassist Adam Bendy and drummer George Miller had the crowd moving with the song’s sinuous beat.

It’s easy to gush over U-Melt – as I have ample times in the past on this site and recently over on – and for good reason. This is a fantastic band hitting their stride and building a lasting relationship with their fans. Perhaps a fine sign of the burgeoning community, one of the fans at Southpaw had a gigantic tattoo of the U-Melt logo on his upper arm. If you haven’t yet made it to see U-Melt – shame on you; remedy this.

On July 4, U-Melt will return to The Stone Pony, the site of their last New Year’s Eve gig, for a performance inside the Asbury Park, NJ haunt following moe.’s show just outside. After a headlining set on July 18 at the Somerset County Jam Fest in Harmony, Maine, U-Melt will return to New York City on August 8 for two sets at Sullivan Hall.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wednesday's Earful: Keane @ Radio City Music Hall

By Deirdre Bones

As I went along to Radio City Music Hall to see Keane perform, I admit to a slight suspicion of a rock band whose music relies more heavily on pianos than guitars. My fears that it would take the “rock’’ edge off that “rock-n-roll” experience though turned out to unfounded.

The diversity of Keane’s fan base was clear from the crowds milling around the lobby of Radio City, where the hipster crowd rubbed shoulders with the post- work yuppie element - even a few people were spotted with small children in tow. It appears that Keane delivers the goods to all.

The band’s excitement was palpable from the first moments of the show as they erupted out with “The Lovers Are Losing” followed with an old favorite, “Everybody’s Changing.” Lead singer Tom Chaplin seemed to be truly impressed to be playing the Radio City venue and the large stage it offers gave him the opportunity to go into full blown rock star mode as he expertly worked the entirety of the huge stage.

Despite the fact that this was the last night of their U.S. tour, which included stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, three shows in California and more, Keane were still in electrifying form with their performance showing no signs of wear and tear.

There was real familiarity with both the old and the new material throughout the crowd as the band and audience fed off each other’s enthusiasm more and more as the show progressed. This is definitely a band that is made more for the stage than the recording studio.

The stand-out performances of the evening were Chaplin’s acoustic performance of “Playing Along” which he performed from the left hand side of the stage. This performance demonstrated the sheer quality and depth of his voice, even at the end of a tour. Also brilliantly performed was “Perfect Symmetry” which Chaplin referred to as their “most perfect song.” If this performance was anything to go by, he is right.

The sheer excitement and energy that this band put into to this show was astounding with Tim Rice-Oxley taking the show to the far extremity of the right side of the stage while Chaplin took to the other side, at one point lying down on his back while still maintaining the notes of the song perfectly.

Their performance of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’ was beautifully rendered, an excellent choice for this American audience and an outstanding vehicle for Chaplin’s voice. Their final performance of David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” sent certain sections of the crowd wild and made for a great finale.

The lighting display began quite modestly, but later exploded magnificently. It was timed perfectly to the music’s peaks, thrilling the entire audience. This, together with neon blue lights raining down from above as fans on the upper balcony threw down the lighted swizzle sticks from their drinks made for an amazing sight.

It was an energetic performance that you felt they threw their heart and soul into, like they were giving it their all for this, their last US show. One thing about this band, love them or hate them – there can be no doubt that they put on one hell of a show.

Set List:

The Lovers Are Losing
Everybody's Changing
Bend and Break
We Might As Well Be Strangers
Again and Again
Your Eyes Open
This is the Last Time
Playing along (Tom solo)
Try Again (acoustic)
Early Winter (acoustic)
The River (Springsteen cover)
You Don't See Me
Perfect Symmetry
Somewhere Only We Know
Crystal Ball
My Shadow
Is It Any Wonder?
Under Pressure

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!