Tuesday, May 31, 2016

James Blake news

James Blake has revealed the itinerary for his 2016 North American headline tour this fall.

He first makes an appearance at Bon Iver’s Eaux Claires in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and then stops in major cities across the country including a night at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City and finishes up the tour at The Hollywood Palladium.

There will be a presale for Songkick followers of James Blake beginning at 10am local time on June 1 HERE with local presales happening on June 2. Public tickets go on-sale at 10am local time on Friday, June 3 HERE. Full tour routing is below.

Blake will be on tour supporting the release of his new album The Colour In Anything [Republic Records] which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Electronic/Dance charts. Get it HERE.

He recently premiered the music video for “I Need A Forest Fire” [feat. Bon Iver]. It’s already amassed over 500K views. Watch it HERE.

The musician recently headlined two sold out shows at Los Angeles’ Belasco Theatre and New York’s Webster Hall. Tickets for both shows sold out in less than a minute.

Among its 17 tracks, the new record features the recently revealed songs “Modern Soul” and “Timeless”— both initially featured on his BBC Radio 1 Residency show. In addition, it includes “I Need a Forest Fire” [feat. Bon Iver] and “Radio Silence”, both of which premiered on BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac show. In addition to the Bon Iver feature, Frank Ocean and Rick Rubin also contributed to The Colour In Anything as co-writer and co-producer, respectively.

His voice and production can be heard during “Forward” on BeyoncĂ©’s Lemonade. In addition, he co-wrote the opener “Pray You Catch Me.” Following the release of 2013’s Overgrown, Blake garnered a “Best New Artist” nomination at the 2014 Grammy Awards, a nod for “British Male Solo Artist” at the 2014 Brit Awards and won Great Britain’s esteemed Mercury Prize. Then Blake took home the Ivor Novello Award for “Best Contemporary Song” for the track "Retrograde." He’s appeared at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, and other festivals as well as performing sold out headline tours.

Tour dates:

8/12-13 Eau Claire, WI Eaux Claires
9/23 Dallas, TX House of Blues
9/24 Houston, TX House of Blues
9/25 Austin, TX ACL Live at the Moody Theater
9/27 New Orleans, LA Orpheum Theatre
9/28 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
9/30 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
10/1 Washington, D.C. Lincoln Theatre
10/3 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
10/4 Boston, MA House of Blues
10/5 Montreal, QC Metropolis
10/7 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
10/8 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre
10/9 Chicago, IL Cadillac Palace Theater
10/12 Seattle, WA Moore Theatre
10/13 Vancouver, BC Orpheum Theatre
10/14 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
10/18 Santa Barbra, CA Arlington Theatre
10/20 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Palladium

The Colour in Anything track listing:

1. Radio Silence
2. Points
3. Love Me In Whatever Way
4. Timeless
5. F.O.R.E.V.E.R
6. Put That Away and Talk To Me
7. I Hope My Life
8. Waves Know Shores
9. My Willing Heart
10. Choose Me
11. I Need A Forest Fire (Ft. Bon Iver)
12. Noise Above Our Heads
13. The Colour In Anything
14. Two Men Down
15. Modern Soul
16. Always
17. Meet You In The Maze

Velvet Crush rarities collection due this summer

I first discovered this band via Menck's work with Matthew Sweet, who I interviewed a few times in the Nineties. Read below for details from the press release... 

When Rhode Island’s Velvet Crush appeared on the scene in the early 1990s, they were obviously a force to reckon with. 

Signing with England’s Creation Records (Oasis, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub), they released their debut LP in 1991. But, it was 1994’s Teenage Symphonies to God (the title being a play on Brian Wilson’s description of what would become SMiLE) on Sony 550 Music that put them on the map. Co-produced by the legendary Mitch Easter, it opened America’s eyes to what those over the pond were so wild about.

But, what was the genesis of that record? We can now find out with Pre-Teen Symphonies, a collection of 16 previously unissued tracks from Velvet Crush: eight demos (including one for the classic single “Hold Me Up”) and eight tracks recorded live in 1995 at Cabaret Metro in Chicago. The set, available on CD and Digital, will be released on Omnivore Recordings on July 22.

As the band — fronted by Paul Chastian (bass, guitar and vocals) and Ric Menck (drums) with Jeffrey Underhill (guitar) — proved the past was the future by taking elements from classic ’60s melodies, ’70s power pop, and ’80s reinvention, Pre-Teen Symphonies is a unique look into the development of a classic, and the live power that drove it.

Menck writes in the liners: “It’s probably no exaggeration to make the claim that Teenage Symphonies to God was the pinnacle of our illustrious career as a band. It’s certainly the album by Velvet Crush that most people know. Pre-Teen Symphonies collects all the loose ends, and hopefully, helps to usher in a new chapter for the little band that could from Providence, Rhode Island.”

Pre-Teen Demos:

1. Hold Me Up
2. My Blank Pages
3. Time Wraps Around You
4. Not Standing Down
5. Turn Down
6. This Life Is Killing Me
7. Weird Summer
8. Star Trip

Live At Cabaret Metro, Chicago:

9. Window to the World
10. My Blank Pages
11. Ash and Earth
12. Time Wraps Around You
13. Atmosphere
14. This Life Is Killing Me
15. Hold Me Up
16. Remember the Lightning

The Go-Go's farewell U.S. tour dates

Multi-platinum rock group The Go-Go's will embark on their farewell tour this summer to commemorate a decades-long career in the music industry. Following a recent high profile TV appearance at the Billboard Music Awards, the month-long trek will kick off in August and hit several major cities before wrapping in Los Angeles (see dates below). 

LA-based rock duo Best Coast will appear as special guests on most dates and Kaya Stewart will open all shows. Tickets are on sale now at Check back for details on VIP meet and greet packages.

"After a 38 year run, we are gearing up for one last blast of a summer tour," says the band about the farewell trek. "We feel so lucky and so grateful to have had the incredible support of our fans for so long. We can't wait to get out on the road and give the people what they want: some loud fast music and a great party!"

The legendary rock group made history as the first, and to date only, all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to ever top the Billboard charts. The Go-Go's rose to fame during the early 1980s after the release of their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, which was #1 on the Billboard charts for six consecutive weeks, selling three million copies, and making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time.

In 1982, The Go-Go's were nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best New Artist" and the group also released their sophomore album, Vacation, that same year, which was certified gold in the US and spawned another top 10 US hit with the title track. In 2011, the trailblazing band was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Where Hollywood meets Broadway, Gwyneth Paltrow is currently producing a new musical, "Head Over Heels" based on the music of the The Go-Go's. Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q, Bring It On) wrote the book and the show premiered last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 Season and is headed to Broadway sometime this year.

The Go-Go's are: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock and Jane Wiedlin. 

Tour dates:

8/2 - Clearwater, FL - Capitol Theatre*
8/3 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Broward Center for the Performing Arts - Au Rene Theater*
8/5 - Washington, DC - Warner Theatre**
8/6 - Bethlehem, PA - Sands Bethelhem Events Center**
8/8 - Boston, MA - House of Blues**
8/10 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse**
8/11 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore**
8/13 - New York, NY - Central Park SummerStage**
8/14 - Asbury Park, NJ - Stone Pony Outdoor Stage**
8/16 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall**
8/17 - Huber Heights, OH - Rose Music Center at the Heights**
8/19 - Highland Park, Il - Ravinia Festival Pavilion**
8/22 - Saratoga, CA - Mountain Winery**
8/23 - Paso Robles, CA - Vina Robles Amphitheatre**
8/25 - Phoenix, AZ - Comerica Theatre**
8/26 - Las Vegas, NV - Mandalay Bay Beach**
8/28 - Costa Mesa, CA - Segerstrom Center for the Arts**
8/30 - Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theatre**

**Best Coast will appear as special guests and Kaya Stewart will open the show
*Kaya Stewart will appear as opening act

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Doheny Blues Festival - Day 2 concert review: Dana Point, Calif.

During Doheny Blues Festival, various people raved about their memorable experiences at the beachside event, which hosted 21 acts in Dana Point over the weekend.

Unlike other big concerts around Southern California, this one tends to have more civilized patrons, a relaxed vibe, fantastic view and mild weather. That’s why top tier performers keep coming back and newcomers admit to always wanting to play there. 

Day 2 headliner Brian Setzer capped the 19th edition with a vibrant 100-minute show at dusk that defined good time rock ‘n’ roll. It was like a master class in showmanship and guitar prowess (all hail the whammy bar, reverb and Santo & Johnny instrumental “Sleepwalk”). 

Starting with Carl Perkins’ “Put Your Cat Clothes On,” Setzer and his tight three-piece backing band definitely lived up to their name and title of latest album “Rockabilly Riot!” 

Fans immediately went wild for Stray Cats’ “Rumble in Brighton” and additional tunes from Setzer’s popular Eighties band (the racing “Fishnet Stockings,” “Stray Cat Strut,” “Runaway Boys,” rip roaring main set closer “Rock This Town”). 

Elsewhere, they impressed with exciting covers (“Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” Moon Mullican’s “Seven Nights to Rock” as the final encore), the surf guitar-driven “Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)” and more recent selection like the fun ode to "Vinyl Records," "Nothing is a Sure Thing" and “Let’s Shake,” where Setzer kneeled while peeling off yet another riveting solo. 

Immediately preceding Setzer on the Doheny Stage, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – featuring co-lead vocalist Noah Hunt and ace sidemen Chris Layton and Tony Franklin (known for their stints in Double Trouble and The Firm respectively) - got right down to business with a sizzling “Never Lookin’ Back”  and no nonsense loping rock groove of "King's Highway." 

From there, the blues guitarslinger steamrolled through “I’m a King Bee,” the brawny "True Lies" and his engaging album rock staples (“Blue on Black,” “Born with a Broken Heart”).

Hunt came across like a young Paul Rodgers at times. Shepherd mentioned his current side project The Rides and did Elmore James' "Talk to Me Baby," which that band covered on their debut album. Then he paid tribute to idols Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn (“Voodoo Chile,” “House is Rockin’”) with shredding intensity. 

The Record Company was a revelation. Hailing from LA, the young blues rock trio first came to my attention last year while listening to Sirius XM’s The Spectrum. Tearing it up midday on the Back Porch Stage to a large audience, they didn’t disappoint with songs from riveting new album “Give it Back to You.” 

Kicking off with a spooky “On the Move,” singer/guitarist Chris Vos wailed his vocals and harmonica through a handheld bullet microphone.

He provided background on several tunes, thanked the local blues community ("true music fans that believe in integrity") and Setzer ("the first to take us on a world tour last year"). 

Standouts included "Baby I'm Broken," an earthy “Rita Mae Young,” the ominous "Hard Day Coming Down" (which Vos noted was about "getting through bad situations" and used recently breaking his finger and still playing guitar as an example). The slinky slide bass groove of “Off The Ground” and a fierce, sensual “I’m in the Mood For You,” earned the guys a standing ovation from the attentive, dancing crowd.

All photos by Bob Steshetz.
To see more, go to 
A version of my review originally appeared at    

Doheny Blues Festival - Day 1 concert review: Dana Point, Calif.

Heading into my second time covering Doheny Blues Festival - one of the best events of its kind in Southern California - on May 21, I was anxious to see several acts for the first time. Chief among them was Aaron Neville.

It was a rare treat to see the music legend, now 75, perform on the Doheny Stage late that afternoon with saxophonist brother Charles in tow. Though the 80-minute show was hampered by a muddled mix at times, Aaron’s trademark heavenly vocals mostly shone though.

The wide-ranging, soulful selections traversed several decades. Concertgoers particularly went wild for his hits “Tell it Like it Is” (from 1966) and the idyllic “Everybody Plays the Fool.” He even danced a little jig amid "When the Saints Go Marching In" as Charles soloed. There were some sweet dual spotlights on Bob Marley ("Three Little Birds," "Stir it Up") and Bill Withers ("Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me").

During the former pair, a bunch of people rushed to the area in front of the stage to hoist their drinks and sing along top of their lungs. Aaron also covered Dobie Gray ("Drift Away"), Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions ("It's Alright") and closed with a brief "Amazing Grace."

James Hunter Six’s brand of classic R&B was a wonder to behold on the Sailor Jerry Stage. The British namesake boasts a unique singing inflection that often brings to mind Otis Redding or James Brown and an equally distinct electric guitar playing method.

Having caught a bit of Neville's performance with his wife, Hunter said she teased him about his attire. This led to a running joke throughout the early evening set and other unabashed quips like "you ain't seen nothin' better."

The tight band totally fascinated fans with the title tune from their great new Bosco Mann-produced, Daptone Records album “Hold On,” not to mention the stellar doo-wop-styled “Jacqueline,” call and response guitar/sax action on “The Gypsy,” The 5 Royales' "Baby, Don't Do It" (featuring some amazing piercing notes by Hunter) and Northern English soul strains in “Stranded.”

As Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers prepared to take the Sailor Jerry Stage, they were mistakenly introduced by longtime Doheny emcee Bubba Jackson (a DJ at Long Beach station K-JAZZ/88.1 FM) as "The Gamblers."

The faux pas inadvertently made sense because the Bay Area Americana band was a sure bet (I’d already been impressed by them at Stagecoach ’14). The engaging 75-minute mid-afternoon set here proved even stronger. Clad in a tan fringe jacket, Bluhm and company made the 1970s SoCal album rock sound seem fresh again, especially during harmony-rich winners from last year’s “Loved Wild Lost” album - “Waiting on Love,” “Heartache” and a dramatic “Queen of the Rodeo” (inspired by her “simple life” stint working with animals in OC's Rancho Santa Fe).

"Deep Water" recalled Edie Brickell as Bluhm vigorously banged on a tambourine. A frequently played live take on the Linda Ronstadt-popularized “You’re No Good” fit perfectly and the infectious "Little Too Late" found Bluhm belting out the vocal to much applause.

My day began with a morning performance on the Back Porch Stage by John Long & Friends. The veteran St. Louis bluesman was initially a one-man-band of sorts, singing, playing guitar and harmonica and stomping on a suitcase for rhythm. Specializing in a traditional sound straight out of the 1920s and '30s, he opened with "Pressure Cooker ('Bout to Blow)," which got a strong response.

For "Suitcase Stomp" (the first of several songs from the just-released "Stand Your Ground" on Delta Groove Music), the audience spontaneously clapped along without any prodding.

Then he was joined by the three musicians who helped on the album: pianist Fred Kaplan, upright bassist Bill Stuve and drummer Washington Rucker. Their laid back blues version of "Baby, Please Set a Date" (by Long mentor Homesick James Williamson) and the CD title track both fared well.

A version of this review originally appeared at
All photos by Bob Steshetz. See more at or

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Brad Paisley, Tyler Farr, Maddie & Tae concert review: Irvine, Calif.

photo by Kelly A. Swift
Brad Paisley has a knack for coming up with amusing songs that tap into the zeitgeist like few others in his genre. “Celebrity,” “Online” and “I’m Still a Guy” are key examples. During a packed concert at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, the country singer/guitarist unveiled another memorable one amidst a solo acoustic segment.

This time, it revolved around the worst kind of selfies and featured the refrain “you oughta be ashamed.” Many audience members were laughing hysterically by the time Paisley’s band joined him to sing the final lines, “the internet is forever.”

The North American tour, called “Life Amplified,” launched just a few days ago. Paisley warned about potential mistakes, but they went unfounded. Taking the stage to the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the musicians kicked off the 1 hour, 40-minute set with a twangy “The World,” a country chart topper from the “Time Well Wasted” album.

There were some replays from last year’s Hollywood Bowl gig: most of the same songs, albeit in a shuffled order; two bars onstage where fan club members could hang out and hoist beers; a walk into the crowd to perform at a B-stage; opening acts guesting on the same tunes ("I'm Still a Guy," "Whiskey Lullaby").

Still, a fun, well-paced concert filled with multiple hits, striking visuals and Paisley’s always-dazzling fretwork is nothing to complain about. An electrifying “Country Nation” (the crowd cheered loudly when sports clips on the big screens showed an awesome catch by the Angels’ Mike Trout and a mighty homer by teammate Albert Pujols), “This is Country Music” (with a bit of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”), “Old Alabama” (where drummer an Anaheim native Ben Sesar and fiddler Justin Williamson got spotlights), “Beat This Summer,” “Southern Comfort Zone” and wistful acoustic ballad “Letter to Me” were among the highlights.

Toward the end, Paisley was joined by his duet partner Demi Lovato for their latest single “Without a Fight.” Irvine marked the first time they’d done it live together and the track’s sinewy, 1970s Rolling Stones-styled groove elevated the excitement level even more. The giddy pop star noted that she was raised in Texas, a fan of country music and that her parents were in attendance. After a feisty fiddle-led “Online,” the main set concluded with “Mud on the Tires.”

photo by Kelly A. Swift
Tyler Farr launched his solid 45-minute opening set with the swampy, attitude-laden rock of “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.,” from last year’s “Suffer in Peace” album. 
The Missouri singer had no trouble getting some crowd participation going early for his hit “Whiskey in My Water” and really gave it his all with a wailing vocal. That also held true for the platinum-seller “Redneck Crazy.” Yet beneath the camo-clad gruff exterior lies a passionate soul.

With acoustic guitar in hand, Farr did lines from Hank Williams and Johnny Cash tunes and admitted to not knowing much about the legends, before admitting “I’m only 32, but I try my best to write good country music.” He proceeded to do a stirring take on 2012 ballad “Hello Goodbye” and an impassioned “Withdrawals.” Farr and his rocking band capped things off with the catchy singalong “A Guy Walks Into a Bar.”

photo by Kelly A. Swift
Earlier in the evening, Maddie & Tae did a pleasantly enjoyable 25-minute set featuring songs from last year’s “Start Here,” where the young female country/pop duo co-penned all the songs.
Brimming from ear to ear, they excelled most during a shrewd “Sierra,” the sweet seamless harmonies of “No Place Like You” and platinum selling country chart topper “Girl in a Country Song,” which takes aim at the bro country trend (including fellow opener Farr).
My review originally appeared at

Keith Urban at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles

photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage
The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles plays host to musicians big and small via its excellent slate of programs inside the Clive Davis Theater. Yet when the superstars turn up, you can sense a special buzz throughout the facility.

That’s what happened on May 10, when Keith Urban appeared for “Inside the Songs of Ripcord.”

While waiting to enter, I saw a female fan take pictures of the country artist’s road cases. Some people travelled from long distances.

“This is like ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio,” joked Urban, halfway through the sold out event. Indeed, it was quite different than others I’d attended at the museum. The new album arrived in stores the previous Friday and instead of just talking about the songs, Urban actually demonstrated to the audience how the music came to fruition. For diehard enthusiasts, it was a fascinating glimpse into the creative process.

Urban had an electric piano, ganjo (a six-string banjo), bass, acoustic guitar and a specially-made iPad-equipped instrument onstage to use whenever needed to illustrate a point.   

At the start of the 1 hour 45-minute program, Urban told moderator Scott Goldman (Vice President of the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares) how he first heard country music. It was through his dad - a drummer and rockabilly fan. The singer/songwriter/guitarist recalled attending a Johnny Cash concert at age 5 in his native Brisbane, Australia and then picking up the guitar at 6.

“I didn’t really have guitar heroes (growing up),” Urban said. “I think that influenced how I make music now. I don’t have to have guitar solos.”

The first of several humorous anecdotes about the past revolved around his early rock band Fractured Mirror, which Urban joined at 15. They often did hard rock and metal covers. “I had just discovered Ricky Skaggs and Albert Lee. One night, we did a Judas Priest song and I did a chicken pickin’ guitar solo. They fired me! My heavy metal days came to an end.”

In 1987, Urban was fascinated by John Cougar Mellencamp’s LP, The Lonesome Jubilee and seeing the accompanying tour was an “epiphany.”

When Goldman asked about arriving in Nashville, Urban talked about the “awful demo tape” he sent to record companies. Although RCA rejected it due to being out of step with late 1990s country radio, the label still suggested the musician hone his craft. “I didn’t want to compromise, but adapt,” said Urban.

Once Urban had a few albums under his belt, he found it was better to work with “producers who are musicians, not golfers.” This led to a running joke throughout the Grammy program whenever the subject of a new producer came up.

With Dan Huff, who helmed 2002’s Golden Road, Urban brought in all the studio personnel, something Huff didn’t expect. “When we did ‘Somebody Like You,’ the musicianship went to a whole new level with him in the room. At that time, he was tight and cohesive, whereas I was loose and tried to capture a vibe.”

Urban really started to experiment with non-traditional country sounds on 2013’s Fuse album.

“I wanted to see where I could go; what other things could I bring in?” Then Goldman asked about taking risks. “I know when it’s gone too far. I wanted to push myself to places where I wasn’t comfortable,” said Urban.

That mindset carried over to Ripcord, a title inspired by a play that his wife Nicole Kidman was acting in while the songs were taking shape (she and Urban’s two young daughters were in attendance at the Grammy Museum).

“I loved the energy of the word,” he admitted. “For me, music has been a ripcord to save my life many times.”

photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage
In describing the Middle Eastern dance-leaning album opener “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today),” Urban said he had loved what co-producer Jeff Bhasker did with Bruno Mars and fun. “Those records were rhythmically raw and had a primal coolness. I reached out to all these rhythm cats like him and Nile Rodgers.”

To play the song, Urban grabbed his ganjo and told how he first obtained the unusual instrument at Nashville’s Corner Music while recording an album with The Ranch in 1995. “I swear it had a light shining on it.” By ’99, using it became natural.

“Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” was written in London’s Hyde Park. Urban explained the melody tends to come first. “I don’t (always) know what I’m going to say. The song is about being in the moment.”

Two hit country singles from Ripcord were released before the album was finished. Then Urban realized he needed to speed up the process. The musician allowed that he works well under deadline pressure.

For “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16,” Urban noted that drummer Matt Chamberlain also worked on Golden Road, then grabbed an acoustic guitar and bass to show how it developed musically. “Matt’s programming was so seductive; I played anything to be compatible with it. It was like musical Tinder. I wanted to match up to Matt.”

A four day stint with respected producer Rick Rubin and some musicians at Shangri-La in LA came when Urban was “looking for artistic liberation.” While it didn’t yield anything that fit on Ripcord, the songs could end up on the next one.    

Utilizing an acoustic guitar and a touring musician on pads, Urban played the alluring new ballad “Break on Me.” He said “it hit me as a classic melodic structure. What’s good about this record is it has its own energy flow.”

Since making Fuse, U2’s groundbreaking Achtung Baby has been a reference point in Urban’s creative dance between using machines and being organic. The U2 CD “was a seminal moment for me as a musician.”

The duet with Carrie Underwood on the dance-oriented “The Fighter” came at the last minute, after everything else on Ripcord was finished. “I was filming a video. She had one day off from her tour. (Producer busbee) went to her in a studio and we Facetimed together.”

Urban admitted the lyrics were inspired by his relationship with Kidman - “That need for assurance. I will be there for you.” He also looked back to Christmas perennial “Baby,
It’s Cold Outside” and Meatloaf’s 1977 top 40 pop single “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” as a guide for the male/female vocal interplay.  Then Urban’s tour musician triggered Underwood’s vocal to play along with the song.

For the breezy, whistling pop of “Sun Don’t Let Me Down,” Urban said, “all I wanted to do was jam with Nile. We met in New York’s Avatar Studio. He got into a groove and everything was reactionary. There was a breakdown section (in the song that needed something). I heard Pitbull on Sirius XM and thought he should do it.”

During the brief audience Q&A, Urban said of the powerful romantic ballad “That Could Still Be Us” - driven by simple programming, synths and keys – “I was floored the first time I heard the truthful lyric” penned by Jason Duke, Jesse Lee Levin and Jonny Price.

On choosing the slinky “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16” as first single from Ripcord:  “It didn’t sound like it came off Fuse…I came out of the clubs. I want everybody up and energized” at my shows.

On 2005 country hit “Tonight I Wanna Cry”: “That was a very truthful song for me. The early 2000s were not a great period for me. I struggled with alcohol addiction. Songs like that came from drinking a lot. It didn’t seem like I was alone in those feelings.”

Finally, Urban moved to the keyboards to demonstrate “Wasted Time,” from Ripcord. He made a Spinal Tap joke about his playing ability and said, “Music should be inspiring to tell a story.” All three co-writers discovered they had similar experiences growing up despite being from different corners of the world.

“I’d wanted to get (Guns N’ Roses title) ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’ in a song for a long time,” Urban said with a laugh. Then he told how the lyric “sippin’ on the Lokos” was inspired by Four Loko, one of the co-writers’ favorite canned malt beverages as a young adult.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Jeff Beck update

Jeff Beck’s forthcoming studio album LOUD HAILER, his first in six years, is set for July 15 through Atco/Rhino Entertainment.  
Loud hailer, is another name for a megaphone. The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer explains: “I really wanted to make a statement about some of the nasty things I see going on in the world today, and I loved the idea of being at a rally and using this loud device to shout my point of view.” The album’s first single, “Live In The Dark,” will be released soon.
To help him write the 11 tracks on LOUD HAILER, Beck enlisted two young females from London: singer Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. It was a chance meeting with Vandenberg last year at a birthday party for Queen drummer Roger Taylor that eventually led to the trio’s collaboration.
“She invited me to one of their shows, and I was blown away,” the guitarist recalls. “When we got together in January, I explained the subject matter I had in mind, we sat down by the fire with a crate of Prosecco and got right to it. The songs came together very quickly; five in three days.” 
Beck produced LOUD HAILER with Filippo Cimatti, who also works with Rosie and Carmen. In addition to the core trio, the album also features drummer Davide Sollazzi and bassist Giovanni Pallotti, who were both recruited by Cimatti.
Bones lends her voice to nine of the 11 songs on LOUD HAILER, including album opener “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” the ballad “Scared For The Children,” “O.I.L.” and the album closer “Shrine.” The album is rounded out by two signature Beck instrumentals in “Pull It” and “Edna.”
A few days after the album’s release, Beck will launch a summer tour of the U.S. with blues legend Buddy Guy. And on August 10, Beck, with special guests to be announced shortly, will make his Hollywood Bowl debut for a very special, career-spanning concert that celebrate 50 years of ‘dynamic music making.’ “It will be head teacher Beck in a gown and mortar board in front of the class giving everyone a history lesson,” he jokes. The show will also include an orchestra.
Over the course of Beck’s illustrious 50-year career, the trailblazing guitarist has earned many accolades. He has twice been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. First, as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and then again, as a solo artist, in 2009. Rolling Stone ranked him as one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and he has earned a total of eight Grammy Awards during his long career. In addition, Beck has been a guest performer at scores of sessions with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Buddy Guy to Tina Turner and Mick Jagger. Throughout his career, Beck routinely makes the fantastically difficult sound effortless.
In addition to recording LOUD HAILER, Beck has been hard at work on his first official book, BECK01 (Genesis Publications, Available on July 12, this signed, limited edition book explores Beck’s passions for hot rodding and rock ’n’ roll.
Inspired by the sleek curves, luxurious finish and iconic imagery of the hot rods he builds, BECK01 is hand-bound in leather and aluminum with every book numbered and personally signed by the author, Jeff Beck. The guitarist’s handpicked selection of more than 400 rare and unseen photographs and items of memorabilia is narrated with an original manuscript of nearly 20,000 words, making BECK01 the definitive visual and historical record of the dynamic musician. Included is an eloquent forward by John McLaughlin that begins, “Jeff Beck is my all-time favourite guitarist, what do I say after that?” Indeed.
Track Listing:
1.“The Revolution Will Be Televised”
2.“Live In The Dark”
3.“Pull It”
4.“Thugs Club”
5.“Scared For The Children”
6.“Right Now”
9.“The Ballad Of The Jersey Wives”
Summer Tour w/Buddy Guy (*except where noted below):
July 19                       The Capitol Theatre                                           Port Chester, NY
July 20                       Theater at Madison Square Garden                    New York, NY
July 22                       Foxwoods Resort Casino                                   Mashantucket, CT 
July 23                       Borgata Spa & Resort Even Center                    Atlantic City, NJ
July 24                       Sands Bethlehem Event Center                         Bethlehem, PA 
July 26                       PNC Bank Arts Center                                       Holmdel, NJ
July 27                       Wolf Trap                                                            Vienna, VA
July 29                       Constellation Brands – Marvin Sands Arts Center  Canandaigua, NY
July 30                       Meadow Brook                                                     Rochester Hills, MI
July 31                       Ravinia Festival                                                    Highland Park, IL
August 3                    Ascend Amphitheatre                                           Nashville, TN
August 5                    Starlight Theatre                                                   Kansas City, MO
August 7                    Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre                               Englewood, CO
August 10                  Hollywood Bowl                                                    Los Angeles, CA
August 11                 Chumash Casino                                                   Santa Ynez, CA *
August 12                  Pala Casino                                                           Pala, CA
August 14                  Mountain Winery                                                  Saratoga, CA *
August 16                  Masonic Auditorium                                            San Francisco, CA
August 17                  Luther Burbank Center for the Arts                      Santa Rosa, CA *
August 18                  Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel                          Jackson, CA
August 20                  Maryhill Winery                                                     Goldendale, WA
August 21                  Woodland Park Zoo Amphitheater                        Seattle, WA *
More dates TBA
*Jeff Beck ONLY on these dates
**All dates on sale now, with the exception of Saratoga, CA: On sale TBA

Blake Shelton has slew of TV appearances in conjunction with new album, out Friday

Blake Shelton's new Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville album If I’m Honest is out tomorrow.

“I have never recorded a more personal or reflective album in my career,” Shelton writes in a note in the album. “If I’m Honest touches both the highs and lows of the past year of my life. I hope you’ll enjoy this journey.”

Shelton is celebrating the release of his new album with a number of live appearances in the next several days. He will appear on Live! with Kelly for an interview and will perform his Top 5-and-rising single “Came Here to Forget” on Friday.

On Sunday, Shelton and Gwen Stefani will perform "Go Ahead And Break My Heart" on the Billboard Awards, a song they wrote and sing on the album, and on Monday, May 23, he’ll appear on The Ellen Show where he’ll debut "She's Got A Way With Words," another song from If I'm Honest. Shelton will also appear June 8 on the 2016 CMT Music Awards. The two-time nominee will debut "Doing It to Country Songs” with his friends and Country Music Hall of Fame members, The Oak Ridge Boys.

He will be on The Today Show next Tuesday, May 24, to perform "Friends,” the feature song in the upcoming Angry Birds movie out May 20, and he'll also sit-down with Kathie Lee Griffith and Hoda Kotb for an interview and performance of his No. 1 hit, “Honeybee.”

The Voice coach also is going for his fifth win when the 10th season of the NBC Emmy Award-winning series reaches the finale next week.

If I’m Honest is an Apple Music and iTunes streaming and digital exclusive for the first week of release.

Shelton has never been more excited for fans to hear an album and shared four songs before the 15-track LP was released – “Friends,” “Came Here to Forget,” "Savior’s Shadow” and the Gwen Stefani duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” which the two wrote, recorded and debuted live on The Voice together. That track is available as an instant download when fans preorder If I’m Honest on iTunes.

He’s been slowly sharing insights with fans about If I’m Honest and the way it chronicles his struggles and triumphs over the last year.

“I don’t even know how to talk about this album as a piece of music as I do just kind of a timeline,” Shelton said in an exclusive interview with The Tennessean newspaper. “As country artists go, I think we’re supposed to sing about our life experiences, and I’ve done that before, but not to this extent.”

Fans also can learn more about Shelton when the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, opens Blake Shelton: Based on a True Story on May 27. The exhibition will examine the star’s road to success, from his childhood to his move to Nashville as a teen, and from his multi-platinum recording breakthrough to becoming a national celebrity. A range of artifacts, including stage wear, instruments, song manuscripts, photos and personal items will help tell the story of Shelton’s struggles and triumphs.

And he’ll hit the road on the fall leg of the 2016 Blake Shelton Tour Presented by Gildan in September, kicking off the run in his home state of Oklahoma.

Track listing:

1. Straight Outta Cold Beer
2. She’s Got A Way With Words
3. Bet You Still Think About Me
4. Every Time I Hear That Song
5. Came Here To Forget
6. Every Goodbye
7. It Ain’t Easy
8. A Guy With A Girl
9. Go Ahead And Break My Heart (Featuring Gwen Stefani)
10. Friends (from The Angry Birds Movie)
11. One Night Girl
12. Doing It To Country Songs (Featuring The Oak Ridge Boys)
13. Green
14. You Can’t Make This Up
15. Savior’s Shadow 

Jake Owen's 'American Love' drops in July

Last year, I saw Owen perform a couple of the new tunes at Stagecoach Fest. I look forward to hearing the album. Read more from the press release below...

The new album from RCA recording artist Jake Owen, American Love, will be released on July 29.

“This record has been very enlightening because I found myself through the songs. I got back to basics with American Love,” Owen says of the project.

“This is me, this is what I want to say and this is what I want people to remember me for.”

Award-winning producers and songwriters Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman co-produced eight of the tracks (one of those with Luke Laird). For the first time in his career, Jake is a co-producer on three tracks with Lukas Bracewell. There are very special guest background vocalists on American Love, including GRAMMY, CMA & ACM winners Chris Stapleton and Hillary Lindsey.

The debut single, “American Country Love Song,” is currently No. 17 on Billboard & Country Aircheck with over 127K singles sold to date and has been streamed on Spotify nearly 6 million times.

American Love is a new beginning for Owen. “Over the past few years I’ve experienced the unexpected,” he says. “My Dad received a cancer diagnosis and I, unfortunately, went through a divorce. People probably thought I would record songs that reflected those difficult times, but I found myself gravitating to songs that had more of a positive vibe and actually made me feel better by singing them. Music truly does seem to help the healing process.

“I can’t wait for people to hear these new tunes, “ Owen continues. “We just added a horn section to my band out on the road and the energy I feel on stage with these guys takes it to a another level.”

Track listing:

1. American Love
Jaren Johnston/Luke Laird
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

2. After Midnight
Rodney Dale Clawson/Matt Dragstrem/Shane McAnally
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

3. Where I Am
Ross Copperman/Hillary Lindsey/Shane McAnally
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

4. Everybody Dies Young
Ross Copperman/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne/Scott Stepakoff
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

5. VW Van
Paul Reter/Brent Stenzel
Produced by Lukas Bracewell and Jake Owen

6. Good Company
Matt Alderman/Tommy Cecil/Jared Mullins
Produced by Lukas Bracewell and Jake Owen

7. LAX
Nathan Chapman/Andrew Dorff/Jake Owen
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

8. If He Ain't Gonna Love You
Luke Laird/Shane McAnally/Chris Stapleton
Produced by Shane McAnally and Luke Laird and Ross Copperman

9. When You Love Someone
Blair Daly/Hillary Lindsey/Sean McConnell
Produced by Lukas Bracewell and Jake Owen

10. You Ain't Going Nowhere
Ross Copperman/Dallas Davidson/Ashley Gorley
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

11. American Country Love Song
Ross Copperman/Ashley Gorley/Jaren Johnston
Produced by Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman

About Jake Owen:

Jake Owen has had five No. 1 singles to date - the 2X PLATINUM anthem “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” PLATINUM-certified hits “Beachin’,” “Anywhere with You,” “Alone with You” and “The One That Got Away.”

The RCA Nashville recording artist will release his fifth studio album on July 29, 2016, produced by award-winning songwriters/producers Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman plus Owen co-produced three tracks, which marks his first time as a co-producer with Lukas Bracewell. The Vero Beach, FL native is well known for his high-energy performances and laid-back style.

Troye Sivan fall tour announced, set to perform on Billboard Music Awards

The next part of Troye Sivan's world tour in support of his debut album, Blue Neighbourhood, will kick off in North America this October (see below for complete itinerary).

A ticket presale started yesterday on his official website. Fans who pre-order the deluxe cassette edition of Blue Neighbourhood, or purchase any other item from his official music store will have access to the pre-sale for a chance at advance tickets.

Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning May 20 at 10 a.m. local time. A portion of ticket sales will go to The Ally Coalition, which supports LGBTQ causes and the fight against discrimination through education, awareness and advocacy.

Troye's first-ever North American tour, which kicked off in February 2016, sold out months in advance. The young Australian artist will perform at the Billboard Music Awards as the "KIA One To Watch" artist. It will air on Sunday, May 22, at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC. Kia and Billboard are giving fans a behind-the-scenes look into Troye's journey thus far at, where new content will be posted each day through May 23.

"Youth," from Troye's 2015 debut album, Blue Neighbourhood (Capitol Records), topped Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart and entered the Top 25 of Billboard's Hot 100. The song is certified Gold and is quickly approaching Platinum. Views for the accompanying video, which can be seen HERE, exceed 25 million.

Blue Neighbourhood, available HERE, topped over 50 iTunes charts around the world, debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 and has earned more than 700,000 equivalent albums globally in five months. Troye has 20 million combined online followers and nearly one billion streams to date.

Fall North American Dates

10/16 - San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
10/18 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
10/19 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
10/21 - Phoenix, AZ @ CoMerica Theatre
10/23 - Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
10/24 - Houston, TX @ Revention Music Center
10/26 - Dallas, TX @ Southside Ballroom
10/27 - Oklahoma City, OK @ The Criterion
10/29 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theatre
10/31 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
11/1 - Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
11/3 - Cleveland, OH @ Lakewood Civic Auditorium
11/4 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
11/5 - Columbus, OH @ Express Live Pavilion
11/7 - Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
11/8 - Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
11/10 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
11/12 - Boston, MA @ Agannis Arena
11/14 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/15 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/17 - Washington, DC @ EagleBank Arena
11/18 - Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle