Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Doheny Blues Festival: 20 announces complete lineup

For many years, I had wanted to check out and cover Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, Calif., but for one reason or another, never got the opportunity - until 2015. What a revelation! The event, held May 20-21, will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Here's the full lineup... 


Joe Walsh
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience
Robin Trower 
Canned Heat
Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers 
Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters
Monster Mike Welch & Mike Ledbetter
Casey Hensley
Nico Duportal & West Coast Connection
Whiteboy James & Blues Express
Big George & the Bluetones


Melissa Etheridge's Memphis Rock and Soul Revue (pictured above) 
Chris Isaak
Mavis Staples
JJ Grey & Mofro
Samantha Fish
Junior Brown
Moreland and Arbuckle
Bobby Rush
John Primer, Henry Gray, Bob Corritone
Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters 
The Mighty Mojo Prophets

Current prices are $75 General Admission single day, $140 GA 2-day; VIP pass single day $150, Gold pass single day $250.

The return of Saint Etienne

The Home Counties are an embarrassing place to come from. The name itself suggests that somehow the rest of Britain isn't 'home', not even London.

It's where John Major's vision of cricket and warm beer was meant to exist, but it's not really like that at all, and it never has been. The Home Counties are a land of bootleg DVDs at car boot sales, Waitrose bags for life, parking disputes, bored teenagers in semis inventing ghost stories, squaddies causing trouble at all-you-can-eat buffets, train drivers in eyeliner and suburban rebels, a place where Tony Hancock and Spike Milligan drew inspiration.

Saint Etienne grew up in the Home Counties. Here are sixteen new songs they have written about a day in the life of this doughnut of shires that ring the capital, punctuated by bursts of BBC radio to remind you what time it is, and all connected by train journeys - main lines, branch lines, commutes, escapes.

It begins with SOMETHING NEW, and a teenage girl creeping through the front door after staying out all night. It stops at WHYTELEAFE, and imagines what might have happened if David Bowie had remained David Jones of Bromley, stuck with a desk job. It summons up the Enfield Poltergeist on HEATHER, and the anarchy of Essex's Plotland settlers on SWEET ARCADIA. TRAIN DRIVERS IN EYELINER wonders what the railway network might be like if it was organised according to ASLEF's taste in music.

The love/hate relationship people have with 'home' is particularly acute in the Home Counties. Yet Saint Etienne understand that, if you squint, it could be almost utopian - here are the post-war new towns, much of the country's modernist architecture, and the non-league football heroes of Sutton United, Leatherhead, Harlow Town. Three of the Beatles lived here. So did the Prodigy, the Zombies, Depeche Mode, Dr Feelgood and, naturally, Saint Etienne, small town groups looking to the capital but audibly inspired by municipal housing, box hedges and ring roads.

The album was produced by Shawn Lee of Young Gun Silver Fox, with support from Augustus (Kero Kero Bonito), Carwyn Ellis (Colorama, Edwyn Collins), Robin Bennett (The Dreaming Spires), Richard X (Girls On Top / Black Melody) and long-time collaborator Gerard Johnson (Denim, Yes). It was recorded in central London. Sarah, Bob and Pete commuted to the studio every day for six weeks.

The cover of the album was designed by renowned artist Scott King (
Saint Etienne have also announced a number of festival and headline shows over the summer, including a performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Saint Etienne will also be touring the U.S. in September / October. Dates will be announced shortly.

Tour Dates:

May 26 - Hebden Bridge, UK -Trades Club
May 27 - Oxford, UK - Common People Festival
May 31 - Barcelona, SPA - Primavera
June 2 - London, UK - Royal Festival Hall
June 3 - Cardiff, UK - Tramshed
June 4 - Birmingham, UK - Town Hall
June 6 - Bexhill, UK - De La Warr Pavillion
June 8 - Newcastle, UK - Sage
June 9 - Edinburgh - UK - Queens Hall
June 10 - Sheffield, UK - City Hall
June 11 - Manchester, UK - RNMC Concert Hall
August 20 - Glanusk Park - Green Man Festival

Pre-order "Home Counties" on iTunes 

Track Listing:

1. The Reunion
2. Something New
3. Magpie Eyes
4. Whyteleafe
5. Dive
6. Church Pew Furniture Restorer
7. Take It All In
8. Popmaster
9. Underneath The Apple Tree
10. Out Of My Mind
11. After Hebden
12. Breakneck Hill
13. Heather
14. Sports Report
15. Train Drivers In Eyeliner
16. Unopened Fan Mail
17. What Kind Of World
18. Sweet Arcadia
19. Angel Of Woodhatch

'A Grammy Salute to the Bee Gees' set to air in April

The 40th anniversary of the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees themselves will be celebrated with an all-star TV special— "Stayin' Alive: A GRAMMY Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees"—on Sunday, April 16 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/ PT) on CBS.

Surviving member and co-founder Barry Gibb also performs a selection of hits from Saturday Night Fever — which won Album Of The Year at the 21st Annual GRAMMY Awards and was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2004. The tribute special also features appearances by Cynthia Erivo, John Travolta, and Wilmer Valderrama.

The list of performances:

Medley: "Stayin' Alive," "Tragedy" "How Deep Is Your Love," "Night Fever"—Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, Little Big Town, Andra Day
"To Love Somebody"—Keith Urban
"Massachusetts"—Ed Sheeran
"Lonely Days"—Panic! At The Disco
"Tragedy"— Tori Kelly
"How Can You Mend A Broken Heart"—John Legend & Stevie Wonder
"Islands In The Stream"—Kelsea Ballerini & Thomas Rhett
"Immortality"—Celine Dion
"Night Fever"—DNCE
"If I Can't Have You"—Demi Lovato
"More Than A Woman"—Jason Derulo & Tavares
"How Deep Is Your Love"—Little Big Town
"Love So Right"— Andra Day
"I Just Want To Be Your Everything"—Nick Jonas
"Too Much Heaven"—Pentatonix
"Emotion"—Katharine McPhee
"Jive Talkin'"—Barry Gibb
"You Should Be Dancing"—Barry Gibb
"Stayin' Alive"—Barry Gibb & Ensemble

Adam Ant extends world tour

Following his “Kings of the Wild Frontier” tour earlier this year that saw Adam Ant play his landmark album to over 50,000 fans in sold-out venues throughout North America and the UK, Adam has announced his North American ANTHEMS - The Singles tour for September, 2017, with special guest L7 joining him at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Adam will play his classic chart-topping singles as well as rare singles, B sides and personal favorites. For more information, visit

VIP presale tickets for ANTHEMS – The Singles tour are available now and tickets will be on sale to the general public on March 24 at 10 am local time. In addition, watch for special presale opportunities through American Express now through March 23 at 10 pm as well as through Spotify on March 23 from 10 am to 10 pm.

World Tour Dates: 

Performing ANTHEMS – The Singles in the UK

Friday, May 5, Newcastle, Arena
Saturday, May 6, Edinburgh, Playhouse
Sunday, May 7, Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall
Tuesday, May, 9, Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
Wednesday, May 10, Manchester, Bridgewater Hall (Second show added)
Friday, May 12, Birmingham, Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 13, Birmingham, Symphony Hall (Second show added)
Sunday, May 14, Bristol, Hippodrome
Tuesday, May 16, Plymouth, Pavilions
Wednesday, May 17, London, Royal Albert Hall
Thursday, May 18, Brighton, Centre
Saturday, May 20, Bournemouth, Int. Centre
Sunday, May 21, Leicester, De Montfort Hall
Monday, May 22, Ipswich, Regent Theatre
Wednesday, May 24, Watford, Colosseum
Thursday, May 25, Southend, Cliff’s Pavilion
Saturday, May 27, Leeds, Arena
Sunday, May 28, Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

Performing ANTHEMS – The Singles in the USA

Wednesday, September 6, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Parker Playhouse (Broward Center PAC)
Friday, September 8, Clearwater, FL, Capitol Theatre
Saturday, September 9, Orlando, FL, The Beacham Theatre
Sunday, September 10, Jacksonville, FL, Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center
Wednesday, September 13, New York, NY, Beacon Theatre
Friday, September 15, Detroit, MI, Sound Board @MotorCity Casino Hotel
Saturday, September 16, Cleveland, OH, House of Blues
Sunday, September 17, Pittsburgh, PA, Palace Theatre
Tuesday, September 19, Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Sound Stage
Wednesday, September 20, Richmond, VA, The National
Friday, September 22, Charlotte, NC, Fillmore
Saturday, September 23, Atlanta, GA, Variety Playhouse
Sunday, September 24, Nashville, TN, War Memorial Auditorium
Tuesday, September 26, Denver, CO, Paramount Theatre
Thursday, September 28, San Francisco, The Masonic
Saturday, September 30, Los Angeles, Greek Theatre, with special guest L7

Performing Kings of the Wild Frontier and More in Australia and New Zealand

Monday, October 9, Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand
Tuesday, October 10, Opera House, Wellington, New Zealand
Thursday, October 12, Tivoli, Brisbane, Australia
Friday, October 13, Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
Sunday, October 15, Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
Monday, October 16, Metropolis, Fremantle, Australia

Neil Diamond celebrates 50th anniversary of single with hits album, tour

On March 31, UME and CMG will release Neil Diamond 50-50th Anniversary Collection, a 3 CD set that marks the 50th anniversary of the Grammy Award-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member’s first hit “Solitary Man.”

The chart-topping single began Diamond’s trajectory as a legendary songwriter and celebrated performer with a time span that has now marked five decades and counting. To commemorate this anniversary, Diamond will embark on a World Tour that kicks off on April 7.

A career spanning retrospective of 50 Neil Diamond selections, t
he new collection includes material off albums ranging from his earliest 1966 album The Feel Of Neil Diamond through his latest critically acclaimed album Melody Road. Liner notes were done by David Fricke and there's a booklet containing photos that chronicle the artist’s vast career.

World Tour Dates:

Friday, April 7, 2017
Fresno, CA
SaveMart Center

Sunday, April 9, 2017
Salt Lake City, UT
Vivint Smart Home Arena

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
St. Louis, MO
Scottrade Center

Friday, April 14, 2017
Omaha, NE
CenturyLink Center

Sunday, April 16, 2017
Oklahoma City, OK
Chesapeake Energy Center

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Nashville, TN
Bridgestone Arena

Friday, April 21, 2017
Louisville, KY
KFC Yum! Center

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Tampa, FL
Amalie Arena

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
BB&T Center

Friday, April 28, 2017
Charlotte, NC
Spectrum Center

Sunday, April 30, 2017
Atlanta, GA
Philips Arena

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
New Orleans, LA
Smoothie King Center

Sunday, May 21, 2017
Des Moines, IA
Wells Fargo Arena

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
St. Paul, MN
Xcel Energy Center

Friday, May 26, 2017
Indianapolis, IN
Banker's Life Fieldhouse

Sunday, May 28, 2017
Chicago, IL
United Center

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Cleveland, OH
Quicken Loans Arena

Friday, June 2, 2017
Detroit, MI
The Palace of Auburn Hills

Sunday, June 4, 2017
Rochester, NY
Blue Cross Arena

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Toronto, ON
Air Canada Centre

Friday, June 9, 2017
Baltimore, MD
Royal Farms Arena

Sunday, June 11, 2017
Uncasville, CT
Mohegan Sun Arena

Thursday, June 15, 2017
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden

Saturday, June 17, 2017
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Philadelphia, PA
Wells Fargo Center

Thursday, June 22, 2017
Bethel, NY
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Friday, July 14, 2017
Wichita, KS
INTRUST Bank Arena

Sunday, July 16, 2017
Houston, TX
Toyota Center

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Dallas, TX
American Airlines Center

Friday, July 21, 2017
Denver, CO
Pepsi Center

Monday, July 24, 2017
Vancouver, BC
Rogers Arena

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Seattle, WA
Key Arena

Friday, July 28, 2017
Portland, OR
Moda Center

Sunday, July 30, 2017
San Jose, CA
SAP Center

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Sacramento, CA
Golden 1 Center

Friday, August 4, 2017
Phoenix, AZ
Talking Stick Resort Arena

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
San Diego, CA
Valley View Casino Center

Thursday, August 10, 2017
Los Angeles, CA
The Forum

Saturday, August 12, 2017
Los Angeles, CA
The Forum

Friday, March 17, 2017

311 paint a musical 'Mosaic'

photo: Brian Bowen Smith
I'm looking forward to hearing the new material. Read below for the latest news from the press release...

311 are set to return with their 12th studio album titled Mosaic, due out worldwide this summer 2017 on BMG. The multi-platinum band's first single "Too Much To Think" premiered at Alternative radio last week.

Watch the lyric video for the song (here) and the group will launch a 40-show North American summer tour in June in Cleveland. The new album is available to pre-order now at Tour pre-sale tickets and VIP bundles are on sale March 14. Tour info at Watch and share the lyric video for "Too Much To Think" (here)

The 17-song Mosaic was produced by John Feldmann (Blink-182, Panic! At The Disco, etc.) and Scotch Ralston (who produced 311's Transistor, Soundsystem and Stereolithic albums). With Mosaic, 311 are approaching their 10th consecutive Top 10 album debut on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart.

311 will hit the road summer 2017 for an eight-week headlining tour of North America. Marking the group's 18th consecutive summer headlining the U.S, the outing features special guests New Politics plus The Skints / Passafire (on select shows). 311 will also make headline appearances at several festivals and radio events. The full tour itinerary (June 22-Aug 20) can be found at

Here's a quick Q&A:

Why is the album titled MOSAIC?
NICK HEXUM (singer/guitarist): "We wanted a title that pointed to our collective nature. Something that referred to the eclectic style of our music and the bond between the band members and our fans-and this title really captures that."

CHAD SEXTON (drums): "We wanted to include our fans in the concept of this record. We have a very symbiotic relationship with our fans that see us year after year. We wanted to find a word or phrase that would describe our fan base, our band and our music and to tie it all into a concept that could be presented in the album artwork as well. Where we landed was perfect....MOSAIC. As one definition states: "a combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole." We feel this word can accurately describe our band, music and our fan base together. For us, it's still a celebration. For the simple fact that if people have different sets of ideas and opinions, likes and dislikes, and are able to get along and come together over the one bond they share (music) - there is no satisfaction like the joy experienced when this happens. It's a celebration over the triumph of our differences and it's the main concept we've been presenting throughout our entire 27 year journey-UNITY."

How would you describe the album's overall sound?
NICK HEXUM: "A menagerie of styles created by five friends and our extended musical family at our best! Innovation, fun, chops, and heart."

P-NUT (bass), adds "Fresh, Hard and Satisfying... Future-rock at our best... We'll always be forward-thinking and flipping the script on ourselves."

HEXUM continues, "The key word for this set of tunes is innovation. We went in some new directions, which will surprise people. Music is a never-ending journey. I'm always proud of how diverse the styles are that we include in our music. MOSAIC is our most adventurous collection yet. Some of our highest energy jams ever. Funky grooves, dub riddims, party anthems, heartfelt sincerity, it's all in there. I think the dynamics are the newest feature. Having builds inspired by very modern music raises the intensity to new heights."

The cover artwork for your new album MOSAIC is made up of thousands of photos submitted byfans?
NICK HEXUM: "The MOSAIC cover captures the spirit of the collective nature that is 311-band & fans together to form something greater than the sum of its parts."

Why 17 songs on MOSAIC?
CHAD SEXTON: "We know the trend these days is to release shorter albums or even just singles-but this album is dedicated to our longtime fans and we wanted to give them everything. The album is 17 songs that we're really proud of-and that really capture the musical range of 311. While we've been mixing the album there have been several moments that reminded me of Transistor (311's seminal 4th album). MOSAIC definitely takes some steps forward into more modern territory, but there are distinct reminders of where we come from in the songs.Something about blending an older 311 style with a newer 311 style is really exciting to us and I think it will be for the fans too." pre-orders for MOSAIC include codes for first access to summer tour pre-sale tickets & VIP packages. Plus prize giveaways and access to behind-the-scenes news, photos and videos of the making of the album. The album Pre-Order offers Digital, CD, Vinyl & Autographed bundles.

Incubus news

Incubus, celebrating in 2017 the 20th anniversary of their major label debut album, have gone live at with iTunes and as the official store for exclusive music bundle pre-orders of 8, their eighth studio album, arriving April 21 on Island Records. 8 includes tracks that were co-produced and mixed by Skrillex (see below for full details). On April 25, Incubus will appear on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

iTunes pre-orders of 8 will include two instant grat tracks: “Nimble Bastard,” the new single from Incubus, and “Glitterbomb.” “Nimble Bastard” was launched with an iHeart Radio world premiere and live appearance on KROQ's Kevin and Bean program in Incubus’ hometown, Los Angeles. “State Of The Art” will go up as the next instant grat track on March 31; “Undefeated” will follow on April 7. “Nimble Bastard” and “Glitterbomb” will also be available as stand alone tracks for streaming partners.

​Tickets are now on sale for Incubus’ first major headline North American summer tour since 2015, with support by Jimmy Eat World and Judah & the Lion. The tour will open in July and wrap up six weeks later. Each pair of mobile/internet concert tickets sold will include a copy of the 8 album. For more ticket information see

​On April 3, Incubus will join Daya, Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore, Skrillex, Tinashe, and Zedd at WELCOME!, a special fundraising concert for the ACLU at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The event, which started as a call-to-action on Twitter in response to the recent immigration ban, was organized by artist/DJ/producer Zedd.

​“Nimble Bastard” is the first new single from Incubus since “Absolution Calling,” from their Island debut EP, the Top 10 Trust Fall (Side A). Prior to that, Incubus – Brandon Boyd (lead vocals), Mike Einziger (lead guitar), Chris Kilmore (turntables, keyboards), Ben Kenney(bass), and José Pasillas II (drums) – played two weeks of shows in Australia (including the Soundwave Music Festival with Faith No More and Soundgarden), Japan, and Singapore.

Incubus “8” Pre-order:

Apple Music:
Incubus Store:

Track listing:

1. No Fun
2. Nimble Bastard
3. State Of The Art
4. Glitterbomb
5. Undefeated
6. Loneliest
7. When I Became A Man
8. Familiar Faces
9. Love In A Time Of Surveillance
10. Make No Sound In The Digital Forest
11. Throw Out The Map.

Tour dates:

​6 ​West Palm Beach, FL ​​Perfect Vodka Amphitheater
​7​ Tampa, FL ​​Mid Florida Credit Union Amphitheater
​8 ​Atlanta, GA ​*​Lakewood Amphitheater
​11​Charlotte, NC ​*​PNC Music Pavilion
​12 ​Bristol, VA ​​Jiffy Lube Live
​14 ​Holmdel, NJ ​​PNC Bank Arts Center
​15 ​Syracuse, NY ​**​Lakeview Amphitheater
​16 ​Bethel, NY ​**​Bethel Woods
​18 ​Mansfield, MA ​​Xfinity Center
​19 ​Wantagh, NY ​​Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
​20 ​Camden, NJ ​​BB&T Pavilion
​22 ​Toronto, ON ​*​Budweiser Stage
​23 ​Clarkson MI ​​DTE Energy Music Theater
​25 ​Cleveland, OH ​​Blossom Music Center
​26 ​Burgettstown, PA ​​Key Bank Pavilion
​27 ​Cincinnati, OH ​​Riverbend Music Center
​29 ​Tinley Park, IL ​*​Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
​30 ​Noblesville, IN ​​Klipsch Music Center


​1 ​St. Louis, MO ​*​Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
​2 ​New Orleans, LA ​​Bold Sphere at Champion Square
​4 ​Houston, TX ​​Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
​5 ​Austin, TX ​​Austin 360 Amphitheater
​6 ​Dallas, TX ​***Starplex Pavilion
​9 ​Salt Lake City, UT ​​USANA Amphitheater
​11​ Chula Vista, CA ​​Sleep Train Amphitheater
​12 ​Phoenix, AZ ​​AK-Chin Pavilion
​14 ​Los Angeles, CA ​​Hollywood Bowl
​16 ​Mtn. View, CA ​*​Shoreline Amphitheater
​18 ​Portland, OR ​*​Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
​19 ​Seattle, WA​*​White River Amphitheater
​*no Judah & the Lion
​**​with Atlas Genius, no Judah & the Lion
​***no Jimmy Eat World

Andy Summers offers up some 'Triboluminescence'

Andy Summers rose to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the guitarist of the legendary award-winning, multi-million-selling rock band The Police, recognized as the most successful and critically acclaimed group of the era. Summers’ innovative guitar sound was a key element of the band’s popularity, creating a new paradigm for guitarists that has been widely imitated in the decades since.

Not one to ever rest on his laurels, Summers launched a prolific solo career that continues to this day, positioning him on the cutting edge of musical innovation – all the while following his passion for music as he keeps diligently busy writing, touring and recording in the studio.

As a guitarist, songwriter and composer, Summers new album Triboluminescence - due out March 24 by Flickering Shadow Productions on all digital platforms - proves to be his most introspective work to date and is a collection of nine new tracks reflecting the style that Summers has evocatively dubbed “New Exotic.”

"'Triboluminescence' is actually a scientific word that means creating light from dark, which I believe is a great metaphor for any creative act and, especially, music,” stated Summers. “I felt compelled to follow up the record I made last year, Metal Dog, where I was trying to go into a new territory — with not just a straight-ahead jazz or jazz fusion or rock or pop, but something very much my own genre. This record results from a lifetime’s worth of receiving influence, digesting it, and trying to create a new voice. I feel like I’m taking the Metal Dog album and moving on from there and trying to expand the writing, the tonal palette and this idea that I have about creating new music.”

And new territory it is. Summers draws upon all his musical influences from around the globe and takes the listener on a sonic journey that begins with the opening track, “If Anything,” a majestic, sonorous piece featuring Summers’ guitar with endless layers of rich tone and never-ending sustain. The journey moves to the title track, “Triboluminescence,” with its exotic, looping Indonesian Gamelan-like sounds that evoke the feeling of being in a village in Bali, and then to “Adinkra,” which is influenced by West African music, with Summers playing all the drums and percussion.

Triboluminescence once again builds on the sonic and artistic framework of his lauded 2015 set, Metal Dog. The nine tracks on Triboluminescence all feature Summers’ rich, lush, multi-layered, rhythmically and spatial signature guitar tones that draws the listener in track after track.

Track listing:

1. If Anything
2. Triboluminescence
3. Adinkra
4. Elephant Bird
5. Shadyland
6. Haunted Dolls
7. Gigantopithecus
8. Pukul Bunye Bunye
9. Garden of the Sea

Concert review: Jason Isbell in Anaheim, Calif.

photo: Danny Clinch
When I discovered Jason Isbell would be making a rare appearance in Orange County, Calif., I knew it was a "must see" concert. 

Three years ago, I caught the acclaimed Alabama singer/songwriter for the first time at Stagecoach and was blown away by his brief set there.

For the past decade, Isbell has been putting out solo CDs with honest lyrics about everyday situations that are so vivid, they often cut to the core. No wonder he's won half a dozen Americana Music Association Awards and two Grammys (the latter for last year's "Something More Than Free" album).

This June, a new studio effort, "The Nashville Sound," arrives in stores. It finds Isbell re-teaming with celebrated producer Dave Cobb and marks the first appearance by longtime backing group the 400 Unit in six years.

In Anaheim, Isbell and the band drew a packed crowd to House of Blues, which opened a few weeks prior. They kicked off the excellent 90-minute, 16-song main set with some bright, ringing guitars on "Stockholm" and fans immediately sang along loudly. "Flying Over Water" continued the strong initial sequence from 2013's "Southeastern" - among my top 10 albums of that year - and featured the first of several stinging electric guitar solos by Isbell. "24 Frames" was colored by Derry deBorja's sweet swelling organ sounds and lead guitarist Sadler Vaden's tasty slide work.

Before the picturesque "Different Days," Isbell talked about his surroundings. "This is in a strange area. It's weird as hell...It's clean and safe here, like a tiny Toronto." After the quiet tune ended, he joked, "that's the most Canadian of all my songs."

Following a truly resonant "Alabama Pines," Isbell called an audible and said he wanted to hear deBorja on accordion. So they did a spirited "Codeine," off 2011's "Here We Rest." The bleak situation detailed in "Speed Trap Town" had a Steve Earle-type reality and a searing solo from Vaden.

Later, the appealing and fun "If it Takes a Lifetime" and darkly riveting "Cover Me Up" (where Isbell began solo acoustic, then was gradually joined by the other musicians as the audience howled with approval) were among several highlights. But it was a transcendent "Decoration Day" toward the end, which boasted a Crazy Horse vibe, that saw the band pull out all the stops.   

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Concert review: Andrew McMahon headlines new House of Blues Anaheim

Talk about a perfect launch.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness kicked off its North American tour with a fantastic hometown concert Sunday at House of Blues.

Arriving onstage to space shuttle chatter, the band got right down to business and did a spirited “Fire Escape.” The effervescent single is top 10 at alternative radio and getting regular airplay on KROQ/106.7 FM.

That nod to NASA related to the artwork for physical copies of solid second album “Zombies on Broadway,” which was released last month. The cover pictures half of McMahon’s head in a space helmet; he’s also shown wearing a full astronaut suit elsewhere. In interviews, the singer/pianist has said the image “represents who you are, who you want to be and how they meet in the middle.”

New York City played a key role in the album’s creative process. McMahon spent some time there, collaborated with a wider range of songwriters, upped the pop quotient and brought guitars into the mix (they were almost nonexistent on the 2014 self-titled debut).  

Here in Anaheim, the vibrant 90-minute, 19-song show encompassed most of the “Zombies” material and half the previous album. A stomping, dramatic “Canyon Moon” saw McMahon briefly go into the crowd, work both sides of the stage and jump atop his instrument (all three activities would be repeated throughout the night).

Before “Walking in My Sleep” and its delightful ascending harmonies, McMahon noted that, as a South O.C. resident, he could drive to the new venue and admitted to being “terrified” about the large (2,200) capacity, “but you sold it out.”

McMahon could barely contain his excitement during a lush “High Dive” and the bubbly “Island Radio.” The crowd roared with approval when a syncopated piano line signaled “Dark Blue,” by McMahon’s previous group Jack’s Mannequin.

A stripped down take on Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” described by the front man as an “inspiration for almost every recording session I’ve done since it came out,” utilized simple piano, a lone drum and accordion. Another striking moment came via “Swim,” the dramatic Jack’s Mannequin ballad about McMahon’s battle with cancer (To date, his Dear Jack Foundation has successfully matched 60 bone marrow donors; concertgoers could sign up as potential matches in the House of Blues lobby).

A particularly strong run consisted of an ebullient, synth-laden “Shout Out of a Cannon,” the giddy dance/pop-leaning “So Close” and “Synesthesia.” The latter featured pictures of a space shuttle projected on the space helmet/NYC backdrop and a multi-colored tarp was spread over the crowd; McMahon wrapped it around himself like a cape.    

For the encores, McMahon floated across the crowd on an inflated duck (!) during “Don’t Speak for Me,” played harmonica on the uplifting singalong Mannequin tune “La La Lie” and elevated the energy level even more on the gold-selling top 10 hit “Cecilia and the Satellite.” All told, the set was a joy from start to finish.  

Aussie electro-pop band Atlas Genius (pictured left) - led by the Jeffery Brothers – were equally brilliant.

Their dazzling 45-minute opening set spotlighted songs off 2015’s “Inanimate Objects” (“Molecules,” “The Stone Mill”) and 2013’s “When it Was Now” (infectious hit “Trojans,” ‘Electric”), plus a surprisingly effective take on Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”

Earlier in the evening, San Louis Obispo alt-rock band Night Riots had no problem captivating the audience, especially with a riveting leader like Travis Hawley. They impressive mightily songs from last year’s sturdy “Love Gloom” album - “Nothing Personal,” “All for You” and “Breaking Free” (which is getting played on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation channel).

As for my first to the new House of Blues, I was very impressed – especially by the décor, crisp sound, overall spaciousness upstairs, very friendly staff and awesome Foundation Room (where I caught acoustic duo Kismit perform credible takes on Florence + the Machine's "The Dog Days Are Over" and The Turtles' "Happy Together" between main stage sets).

I decided to try out the Market Cauliflower Tempura - Sambal Oelek aioli with ponzu sauce. The fried vegetable was scrumptious and a generous portion. It had a light taste and was quite filling. The ponzu sauce was not too tart, but I pretty much stuck with the cheddar cheese dipping sauce.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness opens for Billy Joel at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta on April 28, then returns to Southern California to headline May 3 at The Belasco in Los Angeles (sold out) and May 5 at House of Blues in San Diego (sold out). For the full tour schedule go to

A version of my review originally appeared at
Photos by Kelly Swift

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit news

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, guitarist Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, have announced the June 16 release of their new album, The Nashville Sound (Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers).

The Nashville Sound is the follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed Something More Than Free, which won two Grammy Awards (Best Americana Album & Best American Roots Song, “24 Frames”) and two Americana Music Association Awards (Album of the Year & Song of The Year, “24 Frames”). See Highlights.

Recorded at Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio A and produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb, who produced Something More Than Free and Isbell’s celebrated 2013 breakthrough album Southeastern, it is the first official Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album since 2011’s Here We Rest.

The 400 Unit features Derry deBorja (keyboards), Chad Gamble (drums), Jimbo Hart (bass), Amanda Shires (fiddle) and Sadler Vaden (guitar). The group just announced a five-night stand at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in October. See full list of tour dates below.

Summer/Fall U.S. Tour Dates:

June 17 – Asheville, NC – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium #

June 18 – Raleigh, NC – North Carolina Museum of Art #
June 19 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore Philadelphia #
June 22 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre #

June 23 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre +

June 24 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre +

June 26 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall +
June 27 – Boston, MA – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion +

June 29 – Canandaigua, NY – Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center >
June 30 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion +

July 1 – Cincinnati, OH – PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music +
July 2 – Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center at the Heights +
July 5 – Papillion, NE – Sumtur Amphitheatre +July 7 – St. Paul, MN – The Palace Theatre +
(Sold Out)
July 11 – Sioux Falls, SD – The Washington Pavilion +

July 12 – St. Louis, MO – Peabody Opera House +

July 14 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater +

July 15 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater #

July 16 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater #

July 18 – Houston, TX – Revention Music Center #

July 19 – Jackson, MS – Thalia Mara Hall #

July 21 – Miami Beach, FL – The Fillmore *

July 22 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre *
July 23 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Performing Arts Center*
September 7 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
October 10 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
October 11 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
October 13 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
October 14 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
October 15 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
Support: # Amanda Shires / + Mountain Goats / > Iron & Wine / * Strand of Oaks

2017 European Dates

October 25 – Manchester, UK – Albert Hall
October 26 – Glasgow, UK – O2 ABC
October 27 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre
October 29 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Dome
October 30 – London, UK – Roundhouse
October 31 – Birmingham, UK – Symphony Hall
November 2 – Paris, France – Le Café de la Danse
November 3 – Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique
November 6 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
November 7 – Hamburg, Germany – Uebel & Gefährlich
November 8 – Berlin, Germany – Columbia Theater
November 10 – Oslo, Norway – Sentrum Scene
November 11 – Oslo, Norway – Sentrum Scene
November 12 – Stockholm, Sweden – Münchenbryggeriet
November 14 – Copenhagen, Denmark – DR Concert Hall
-Tift Merritt supports all European dates

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Concert review: Bon Jovi in Los Angeles

The title track to current Bon Jovi album “This House is Not for Sale” opens with the line “these four walls have got a story to tell,” which refers to the band’s three original members. 

During a packed Forum show on Wednesday night, front man Jon Bon Jovi told a few of them.

One about their history with the legendary venue was the most interesting. “We woke up in the parking lot,” he recalled, to debut as opener for The Scorpions in 1984. Five years later, Bon Jovi would sell out consecutive nights there on the backs of multi-platinum efforts “Slippery When Wet” and “New Jersey.”

“We stayed on the Sunset Strip. One day, my girlfriend and I were in bed and we decided to elope to Vegas.” When grunge music became popular, Bon Jovi’s fortunes waned and they returned to a half-filled Forum (where this writer first saw the group live) in ’93. “I thought it’s over; we’ll never play The Forum again and I literally cried. Twenty-four years later, it’s been a bumpy road.”

Co-produced by longtime collaborator John Shanks, “This House is Not for Sale” debuted at No. 1 in 2016. Another fine effort ­­­from the superstar Jersey natives, it frequently sports a harder rock edge than recent efforts, thanks to Shanks and lead guitarist Phil X (who recorded with Bon Jovi for the first time after replacing Richie Sambora). 

To coincide with the tour’s launch last month, Bon Jovi put out a nifty career-spanning LP box set through Island/Universal Music that is housed in a replica road case. It includes every band and solo album, plus a couple rarities collections. Many were never issued on vinyl before. Fans can also immerse themselves in “Bon Jovi: The Story,” by Bryan Reesman, an interesting new coffee table book filled with archival photos and background history.

Before the quintet – augmented by guitarist/backing vocalist Shanks and percussionist Everett Bradley - appeared onstage, an American flag was projected on a scrim. The image cleverly morphed into a highway lane stripe, then eventually became a picture of the Forum and new album cover structure.

Clocking in just over 2 ½ hours, a good chunk of the 24-song Inglewood set came from “This House.”

Halfway through, two new tunes were highlights: plaintive ballad “Scars on This Guitar” (a loving ode to the instrument co-written by country hitmaker Brett James) and the highly personal “God Bless This Mess,” where Jon Bon Jovi sings “My voice is shot/I’m going grey/These muscles all ache/Don’t cry for me/I’m the life of the party.”

That sentiment was partially true here. Jon Bon Jovi’s vocals were mostly subdued and after straining at the high notes on melodramatic hit “Always,” he noted the song was hard to do at age 55. Why not choose another massive hit then?   

But the band’s trademark gang vocals and their leader’s constant exuberance more than made up for those shortcomings. A fun and loose “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” featuring a snippet of The Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash,” was a prime example.

Pop chart-topper “You Give Love a Bad Name” was dispatched early and went down a storm, as did other big ‘80s hits like extended singalong “Bad Medicine,” rousing “Born to Be My Baby,” spiritual-tinged “Lay Your Hands on Me” and final encores “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Sambora's absence was definitely felt on the latter two.

Miami-bred, LA-based Stellar Revival won the warmup slot through a contest on Bon Jovi’s Facebook page. The hard rock band’s 20-minute set included songs from its latest album “Love, Lust and Bad Company,” with the melodic “Saving Grace” and metallic crunch of “The Crazy Ones” faring best.

Setlist: This House is Not for Sale/Knockout/You Give Love a Bad Name/Lost Highway/Whole Lot of Leavin’/Roller Coaster/We Weren’t Born to Follow/I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead>Jumpin’ Jack Flash/We Got it Goin’ On/Who Says You Can’t Go Home/It’s My Life/We Don’t Run/God Bless This Mess/Scars on This Guitar/Devil’s in the Temple/Lay Your Hands on Me/Born to Be My Baby/Have a Nice Day/Bad Medicine/Keep the Faith Encore #1: Always/Blood on Blood
Encore #2:Wanted Dead or Alive/Livin’ on a Prayer

A version of my review originally appeared at
Photos by Matt Masin