Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peter Murphy concert review

A version of my review originally appeared at:

courtesy Nettwerk Records
“I’m going out of my mind! Peter Murphy at Detroit Bar!”

That loud exclamation, by a delighted male fan, definitely summed up many concertgoers’ thoughts on Sunday night, when the influential goth rocker played his smallest Orange County gig (capacity: 250) in recent memory.

Earlier this month, Murphy released aptly-titled album Ninth via Nettwerk Records. The potent effort, recorded with his core live band, frequently delves into hard edged terrain (modern rock radio stations should be all over it; Rodney on the Roq’s late Sunday night KROQ program already spotlighted some material).

SoCal followers have been graced with several local appearances since the spring, including the Galaxy, Mayan and Amoeba Records (next up is the Troubadour on Wednesday; yet another return is planned for winter).

At the sold out, 75-minute Costa Mesa show, Murphy and his backing trio opened with the ominous slow churn of former band Bauhaus’ “Burning from the Inside” (not the complete 9 ½ minute version), before segueing into the glam-leaning “Velocity Bird.” Current single “I Spit Roses” (inspired by a tiff between Bauhaus members while recording 2008 swan song, Go Away White) was even better live.

The tall front man – dressed in a dark blazer and black t-shirt with a hint of eyeliner - preened, gestured, leaned on the musicians and was close enough to lighting on the modest stage to re-position them as needed. He was jovial, playfully taunting the crowd about touching him and whether they got their money’s worth.

Front-loading the set with four brawny new songs from Ninth (out of five total) and a forceful take on Iggy & the Stooges’ “Raw Power” was a risky move. Another ‘80s Bauhaus nugget - the regal and frantic “Silent Hedges” (where Mark Gemini-Thwaite impressed on 12-string guitar) proved captivating, but didn’t stave off some people’s restlessness. One frustrated guy, obviously anxious for the old solo hits, yelled “c’mon, throw us a bone.” He didn’t exactly get his way.

Murphy debuted “Gaslit,” a promising, meditative tune from a forthcoming EP. The lush “Subway” and “I’ll Fall with Your Knife” (Murphy handled acoustic guitar on the latter) used sampled instrumentation and were among the evening’s more dramatic high points. Both went down well.

Lurching main set closer “Uneven & Brittle,” driven by fuzztone guitar, was obviously inspired by Bauhaus’ touring and Murphy’s recording with Trent Reznor over the past five years.

Come encore time, the vocalist returned to the 12-string instrument for gorgeous ballad “Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem” (from 1989’s Deep). He stopped the song when an electronic drum pattern emerged at the wrong time.

This up close and personal evening with Murphy might have been a bit short and bereft of radio hits, but it proved he’s still a unique and vital artist who deserves continued attention.

Peter Murphy, Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa, June 26, 2011 
Setlist: Burning from the Inside (Bauhaus)/Velocity Bird/Peace to Each/I Spit Roses/Seesaw Sway/Raw Power (Iggy & the Stooges)/Silent Hedges (Bauhaus)/Subway/Gaslit/I’ll Fall with Your Knife/Indigo Eyes/Deep Ocean, Vast Sea/Uneven & Brittle
Encore: Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem/All Night Long

Max Weinberg 7 concert review

A version of my review originally appeared at: Thanks to Kelly A. Swift for her photos.

The Max Weinberg 7 featuring Bill Champlin launched the Infinity Summer Concert Series at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach with an impressive mix of soul, R&B and classic pop/rock.

Boasting a two-man horn section, it was a different lineup than the one who appeared alongside Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band drummer Weinberg on “Late Night” and the “Tonight Show” with Conan O’Brien.

Despite a moderate turnout, the group delivered a highly enjoyable 90-minute performance.

Singer/keyboardist Champlin first gained prominence with psychedelic rockers Sons of Champlin in the ‘60s, was a sought after background singer/songwriter (Boz Scaggs, George Benson, REO Speedwagon) in the ‘70s/early ‘80s and spent more than 25 years as a member of Chicago. He had the primary spotlight at the hotel’s intimate outdoor amphitheatre, which is surrounded by lush greenery.

Last year, Weinberg also did kickoff duty at the smooth jazz-oriented concert series with his 15-piece swing band. Prior to the show on Friday night, Weinberg praised the lovely setting and enthusiastic crowds.

Max Weinberg, Mindi Abair, Bill Champlin at pre-show
“You’ve got a great lifestyle here; I hope to make it an annual thing.” He told me there are no plans to record an album with either combo. “I’ve done enough of them in my time.”

After mentioning that I saw his young son Jay keep the beat for popular Florida alt-rock band Against Me! this past January at Chain Reaction, Weinberg reminded that they are on the Vans Warped Tour this summer (the Pomona Fairplex stop is July 1) and said he and wife Becky “go and see them play whenever we can.”

Champlin was a bit skeptical when Weinberg’s manager came up with the idea for an O.C. concert collaboration. “I thought it really wasn’t my thing,” he admitted, regarding the drummer’s TV music work, “then I saw some Springsteen clips on YouTube” and felt “this could really work.”

Indeed it did.

Since Clarence Clemons – Weinberg’s longtime band mate in the E Street Band – passed away on June 18, many audience members probably wondered whether any tribute to the saxophonist known as The Big Man would be part of the set. There was one, but not until the very end.

“This song has a stupid beat. Anyone can play it, but it’s one of my favorites to do live,” said Weinberg, about “Ramrod” (from Springsteen’s The River), while standing behind his drum kit.

“It is for a beloved friend of ours, Clarence Clemons. When we recorded it and he first came up with the solo in the middle, all of our mouths dropped open. Bruce said, ‘sax players are going to be auditioning with that solo for years to come.’ Clarence had the biggest heart and will always be remembered for his comradeship and love he spread all over the world.”

Suddenly, the entire group and special guest sax player Mindi Abair went into party mode and several people in the crowd stood up and danced.

Weinberg in action
Earlier in the concert, Weinberg introduced the evening as a “melding of East and West. I’m from New Jersey, as many of you may have heard,” while Champlin hails from the Bay Area.

Both men continually injected humor into the proceedings; the latter’s quips were often of the self-deprecating variety.

The drummer had a blast during a sleek take on one of his favorite Booker T. & the MG’s tracks, “Can’t Be Still,” where the musicians clapped along and took solo turns.

Champlin’s simmering organ work on Chicago’s “Hearts in Trouble” (from the soundtrack to Tom Cruise flick Days of Thunder) was elevated by a searing electric guitar workout from Carmen Grillo. A Tower of Power alumnus, his musical history with Bill dates back to 1981 and continues with the current Sons of Champlin live incarnation.

Champlin at the organ
A New Orleans-style groove enveloped the TV theme to “In the Heat of the Night,” where Champlin’s soulful falsetto was in top form.

His keyboardist son Will ably handled lead vocals on an upbeat and jaunty version of Dave Edmunds’ “Deep in the Heart of Texas” (off 1982’s D.E. 7th). Weinberg gave it a pummeling finish.

Later, Grillo took the vocal reigns on an equally soulful run through Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A.).”

The sexy spark plug that is Abair immediately got the crowd riled up during a spirited delivery on Dave Koz’s “Wake Up Call.” She traded horn riffs with Tom Saviano in what Weinberg called “saxual healing.”

Bill Champlin sang a jazzy arrangement of “Turn Your Love Around,” his hit composition for Benson. The marvelously subtle take on lesser known Springsteen tune “The Fever” found Steve Madaio playing quiet trumpet, Weinberg pausing to snap his fingers, full group harmonies and bassist Bobby Watson egging the audience on as they sang the chorus.    

The Weinberg 7 at work
“Headed for the Top” (from Bill Champlin’s 1992 album Burn Down the Night) was jokingly described as a “good tune to shoplift by.”

Punctuated by Weinberg’s lively drum work and Saviano’s fluttering sax solo, Abair rejoined the group halfway through for some fantastic, wild runs.
Then Champlin was front and center with acoustic guitar for a quiet, emotional version of the Chicago hit “Look Away,” which he originally sang on.

The band played quietly at first and later came on strong.

Next up for the Hyatt concert series: Jeff Lorber Fusion with Eric Marienthal and Paul Jackson Jr., July 1, 

Champlin and his family band are at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, July 7,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rise Against video tackles teen bullying

Bravo to the band for supporting the cause...

Rise Against and The It Gets Better Project are proud to announce a collaboration in conjunction with the release of Rise Against's new single, "Make It Stop (September's Children)" from their album Endgame, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

The It Gets Better Project and Rise Against shift the spotlight to bullying via "Make it Stop (September's Children)," a topic Rise Against lead-singer Tim McIlrath says really hasn't been adequately addressed in the rock scene.

"A number of events were the catalyst for the creation of Make It Stop, everything from the suicides in September 2010, to our own fans voicing their fears and insecurities from time to time," says McIlrath.

"I decided to create the song as a response, and when I discovered the It Gets Better campaign and [It Gets Better Project co-founder] Dan Savage's commitment to such an important and concise message, I was moved. I immediately felt that if our song is the road, then the It Gets Better project is the destination. I hope the synergy between the two can reach people and make a difference."

"Tim McIlrath has written a powerful song," It Gets Better Project co-founder Dan Savage said. "With the release of 'Make It Stop' and the accompanying video, Rise Against is sending the message to its fan base that the bullying and harassment of LGBT teens needs to stop and that suicide isn't a solution." 

Award-winning director Marc Klasfeld directed the "Make It Stop" music video in Chicago at Tim McIlrath's high school alma mater. "I've been a fan of Rise Against for a while and it was amazing to work with them on this special video," Klasfeld said. "As soon as I heard the song, I knew a powerful video could be made that could potentially help people and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it." 

The video depicts the band performing the song in the high school gymnasium alongside moving scenes of individuals from the LGBT community experiencing and coping with bullying from their peers in high school. The music video also includes snippets of multiple youtube submissions provided by the It Gets Better Project, with individuals sharing their stories and letting viewers know that "it gets better."
Rise Against is well known for lending their voice to causes as well as their close relationship to their fans. Past songs with a bent toward social activism have included "Ready to Fall" in support of PETA and "Hero of War", written in response to the military action in Iraq
The It Gets Better Project is a non-profit organization created by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, who is featured in the video, and his partner Terry Miller in September 2010.  Eight months later, IGB has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times.

The website is a place where LGBT youth can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future, straight allies can support their friends and family members, and where anyone can share their story, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support, and seek help through the Trevor Project, GLSEN and the ACLU LGBT Project. 

Please spread the word today by visiting and taking the pledge at the It Gets Better Project's website,

Nirvana's 'Nevermind' deluxe coming in Sept.

Check out the Nirvana catalog news in this press release...

Nirvana, the trio comprised of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl, hailed originally from a coastal fishing town in Washington and rose to become one of the most influential rock bands in history with irreverence, intense honesty and an overriding passion.

The cultural shift Nirvana's Nevermind initiated was felt instantly on release -- and the profundity and depth of that shift becomes even more apparent when seen through the prism of the two decades of art and music created in its wake.

Released in September of 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind garnered near-unanimous praise and rose within a few months to the No. 1 slot on Billboard's U.S. sales chart.   Nevermind was propelled to No. 1 across the globe by their young fans worldwide that identified with the band and embraced their anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and its landmark music video.  Since then, it has sold more than 30 million albums.

Nirvana changed the course of popular music forever and remains an inspiration to those who have followed.

Now Universal Music Enterprises announces the 4-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition of Nirvana's Nevermind available Sept. 20. The CDs will include previously unreleased recordings, rarities, B-sides, BBC radio appearances, alternative mixes, rare live recordings and an unreleased concert in its entirety on DVD.

The 20th anniversary of Nirvana will be marked throughout the year, with various events and releases.

Thomas Dolby creates transmedia game

I had the pleasure of interviewing the always inventive Dolby a few years back and look forward to his new full-length album. He recently put out a fine taster, the Oceania EP, which features guest vocals by Eddi Reader of Fairground Attraction, on the title track. Read the press info on his new game tie-in...  

Best known as the singer/synthesist behind the Top 5 smash hit “She Blinded Me With Science” and as the co-inventor of the Beatnik polyphonic ringtone engine, Thomas Dolby today announced his latest creation: The Floating City is a rich transmedia game with a living world that changes and reacts to player contributions. It uses web browsers, social networks, and even smart phones and iPads as a way for fans to access his latest musical endeavors.
The Floating City is open for registration now at and gameplay has commenced. Players from around the world will form tribes and collaborate to earn free music downloads, merchandise and concert tickets. The leading tribe will even win the right to stage a private concert at which Thomas Dolby and his band will perform his forthcoming album in its entirety.
Completely free to the public, The Floating City is a casual game that hooks you into building a whole story world with your tribe — as deep as you want to go. It runs on a standard web browser, smartphone or iPad without additional software installation.
It is targeted at players of all ages, regardless of whether they are familiar with Thomas Dolby’s catalog. But diehard fans of the five-time Grammy-nominated songwriter will be delighted to find that The Floating City integrates characters, places, and objects named in every one of his albums going back to the beginning of his career . . . and before.
The Floating City is set against a dystopian vision of the 1940s that might have existed had WWII turned out a lot differently,” says Dolby. A global energy experiment went haywire, the Earth’s magnetic fields have been reversed, and the planetary climate system violated. Science has betrayed us: now what must the species do to survive?
Survivors explore a fictional Google map, forming tribes and trading relics amidst a bizarre sea-going barter society. As they struggle to unravel the enigma that is The Floating City, players can haggle over merchandise and music downloads — including brand new songs from the much anticipated CD A Map of the Floating City, Dolby’s first album in 20 years, which will be released following the climax of the game.
“This is a brilliant concept,’ said writer/economist Steven Levitt. “It’s a cross between Freakonomics and Burning Man, with a back-story that would have made J.G. Ballard proud.”

Erasure album+tour tix on sale Friday

Synthpop pioneer Erasure is back with Tomorrow's World, the band’s first album in more than four years. The new album is due out in the fall and produced by noted artist/remixer Frankmusik (Lady Gaga, Pet Shop Boys). 
After Erasure’s recent triumphant return to the stage for Short Circuit Presents: Mute at the Roundhouse, London - a one-off performance which saw Vince Clarke perform with special guests Alison Moyet and Feargal Sharkey, plus a performance at 2011’s Ultra Music Festival, Erasure is bringing the new album to the U.S. for their first tour in five years. 

Tickets go on sale June 24 via Ticketmaster and Ticketfly outlets. Anyone preordering the album (likely through the band's website) will get early access to tracks from Tomorrow's World before the tour starts.
Tomorrow’s World was written in New York, London, and at Vince Clarke’s cabin studio in Maine following a short break, which found Andy Bell recording and releasing his second solo album Non Stop, and Vince Clarke reuniting with former Yazoo partner Alison Moyet for a recent tour.

From Lady Gaga to La Roux, the futurist, electronic sound Erasure championed is more relevant today than ever, and once again re-charging the global music scene. 

U.S Tour Dates:
Aug. 31                                 Tampa, FL                        The Ritz Ybor
Sept. 2                                  Orlando, FL                      House of Blues
Sept. 3                                  Atlanta, GA                       Center Stage
Sept. 4                                  Asheville, NC                   Orange Peel
Sept. 6                                 Washington, DC               9:30 Club
Sept. 7                                 Washington, DC               9:30 Club
Sept. 8                                 Philadelphia, PA               Theatre of Living Arts
Sept. 10                               Boston, MA                       House of Blues
Sept. 11                               Toronto, ON                       Sound Academy
Sept. 13                               New York, NY                    Terminal 5
Sept. 14                               New York, NY                    Terminal 5
Sept. 16                               Chicago, IL                        Congress Theatre
Sept. 17                               Chicago, IL                        Congress Theatre
Sept. 18                               Milwaukee, WI                   Pabst Theater
Sept. 20                               Indianapolis, IN                  The Vogue Theatre
Sept. 21                               St. Louis, MO                     The Pageant
Sept. 23                               Austin, TX                           ACL Live
Sept. 24                               Houston, TX                        Verizon Wirless Theatre
Sept. 25                               Dallas, TX                           House of Blues           
Sept. 27                               Denver, CO                         Ogden Theater
Sept. 28                               Salt Lake City, UT               Kingsbury Hall
Sept. 30                               Las Vegas, NV                    The Palms Concert Theater
Oct. 1                                    Los Angeles, CA                 Hollywood Palladium
Oct. 2                                    San Diego, CA                    House of Blues
Oct. 4                                    Oakland, CA                        Fox Theatre
Oct. 5                                    Portland, OR                        Crystal Ballroom
Oct. 6                                    Seattle, WA                          Neptune

She Wants Revenge to perform at Riverside, Calif. benefit

courtesy: MSO

She Wants Revenge (pictured) will perform June 25 at the Fifth Sea No Evil Art Show benefit for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, held at the Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. 

Doors open at 6 p.m. for the event featuring more than 100 exhibiting artists, plus Capt. Paul Watson and the crew featured on the popular Animal Planet show,  “Whale Wars." 

Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, will be the featured speaker and give an update on the state of affairs in oceans of the world. 

The show will also feature special pieces from Sea Shepherd crew members Matt Kimura and Chad Halstead, plus a donation from “Operation: No Compromise” campaign photographer Gary Stokes.

Admission is $10; VIP package available in advance for $100. For more details, go to

L.A. alt-rock band She Wants Revenge - known for such modern rock hits as "Tear You Apart" and "These Things" from the 2006 self-titled debut - recently put out third album Valley Heart, a loosely-based concept effort revolving around its San Fernando Valley neigborhood.

In the universe inhabited by SWR, boy meets girl and it’s probably not going to end well. On "Kiss Me," singer Justin Warfield’s haunting baritone reminds us when he intones, "I know that you'll never be right for me."

Raw and unapologetically emotional, chances are you've been there before: the electric sizzle of a simple kiss; a testimony to the power of right now. "Holiday Song" finds Warfield considering the ominous slalom that is the holiday schedule.

Juxtaposed against lush instrumentation, the ongoing pyrotechnics of young lust and loss find a bed of music more soaring, triumphant and hopeful than anything the band has ever touched on. Then there's the incendiary stomp of "Up In Flames," where the nuances of modern love play out at all times and hours. 

The overall concept doesn’t end with the songs. Co-founding member Adam Bravin shot album art photos of valley landmarks; they directed short films and webisodes for every song to visually represent the stories contained within the album.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Latest reissue from The King due in Sept.

The explosion of Elvis Presley's career on RCA Records during 1956 was a wondrous evolution. By the end of that fateful year, the rockabilly singer from Memphis whose audience was rooted in the deep Southern states, would be the most famous person in the world.  How did it happen?  

In one word: music.  “…My pelvis had nothin’ to do with what I do,” Elvis said in 1956.  “I just get kinda in rhythm with the music, I jump around to it because I enjoy what I’m doin’, I’m not tryin’ to be vulgar, I’m not tryin’ to sell any sex, I’m not tryin’ to look vulgar and nasty.  I just enjoy what I’m doin’ and tryin’ to make the best of it ...”  The rest, of course, is history.  Ten million singles sold, three million EPs, and 800,000 LPs’ worth, in just that first year.

Young Man with the Big Beat puts the focus on Elvis in 1956. The package includes his RCA studio master recordings and outtakes in New York , Nashville and Memphis; live perform­ances; interviews; and much more. Taking its name from an RCA poster campaign for his debut album, the super deluxe 5-CD, 12-inch square box set (with an amazing 80-page book with timeline) is available now for pre-order at

Pre-order customers will also receive an exclusive replica vinyl 7” of Elvis’ first 45rpm EP for RCA Records.  Sharing the same striking cover art as Elvis’ debut album, the EP (“extended play”) features “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Tutti Frutti,” “I Got A Woman” and “Just Because.” This vinyl single is only available through this special website offer and will ship with the box, available Sept. 27 on RCA/Legacy.

Among the five CDs:
CD One, Studio Recordings: 17 tracks recorded in New York, Nashville, and Hollywood, starting with the 12 songs on the debut LP, Elvis Presley (‘1254’), followed by non-LP single A-sides and B-sides, and EP tracks.
CD Two, Studio Recordings: 22 tracks recorded in New York, Nashville, and Memphis, starting with the 12 songs on the second LP, Elvis (‘1382’), followed by non-LP single A-sides and B-sides, and EP tracks.
CD Three, Live Recordings: Rare remasters of shows at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas (four songs); Little Rock , Arkansas (seven songs); and a recently discovered, previously unreleased concert in Shreveport, La., in Dec. (ten songs).
CD Four, The Outtakes:  Four outtakes from the first historic RCA session in January (“I Got A Woman,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I’m Counting On You,” “I Was The One”), segueing into the complete session of Feb. 3 (11 takes of “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” and 12 takes of “Shake, Rattle And Roll”); plus the first of the interviews – the complete Warwick Hotel (NYC) interview by Robert Brown in March.
CD Five, the Interviews: The Paul Wilder interview, plus his interviews with Colonel Parker and Oscar Davis; plus two segments of Elvis’ rarely heard candid monologue, “The Truth About Me,” and two advertisements for RCA Victrolas.
Over the course of CD One and Two, Young Man with the Big Beat compiles Elvis Presley’s complete 1956 masters.  The year was fueled by a run of hits that kept radio well-stocked: “Heartbreak Hotel,” “I Was The One,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Money Honey,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “My Baby Left Me,” “Don't Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender” topping the list. 

In addition to the master takes, outtakes, and live performances heard on CDs One through Four, there is also the most extensive collection of audio spoken word material ever included on an RCA release. These extended and rare interviews are previously unreleased by RCA Records. The first of these segments, at the end of CD Four, is the complete Elvis interview by Robert Brown that took place at the Warwick Hotel in New York City on March 24. CD Five then presents:
  • The Complete TV Guide Presents Elvis interview (Elvis interviewed by Paul Wilder backstage at the Polk Theater, Lakeland, Florida, on Aug. 10);
  • Colonel Parker and Oscar Davis (interviewed by Paul Wilder backstage at the Polk Theater, Lakeland , Florida, on Aug. 10);
  • The Truth About Me (Original spoken word 45rpm disc included in Teen Parade magazine.  Recorded on the set of Love Me Tender, Aug. 22);
  • The Truth About Me Interview (Recorded on the set of Love Me Tender, Aug. 22);
  • RCA Victrola radio ad 1;
  • RCA Victrola radio ad 2 (both ads never before released commercially).
In tandem with the release of Young Man, RCA/ Legacy will also release (on the same date), Elvis Presley: Legacy Edition. This special double-CD package will couple, for the first time, the Elvis Presley and Elvis albums of 1956.  They will be heard as they are on CD One and CD Two of the Young Man box set (with the same bonus tracks). 
Elvis Presley: Legacy Edition has as its cover image the classic Elvis Presley debut LP design that has been paid homage by the Clash (London Calling), Big Audio Dynamite (F-Punk), k.d. lang (Reintarnation), and many others. The booklet will contain new liner notes and rare archival photography.

Young Man will feature one of the most extra­ord­inary books every created at Legacy.  The focal point of the book, spread across its 80 pages, will be a unique,  meticulously-researched, day-by-day chronology of Elvis’ iconic year, including every concert, every recording date, every television appearance, personal events in Elvis’ life, and much more.  A dazzling photo array of memorabilia will illustrate each day and entry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Boss guests with Detroit singer Francke

The window on the free download of the day below will probably be closing soon, but I just discovered it.

Springsteen sings background on this pleasant song by Stewart Francke, a leukemia survivor who's been recording since the mid-'90s. Heartless World, his new album released last month, is available at iTunes/Amazon. Here's the song download link: 

Bonus Q&A with Marc Broussard

Q: Are you looking forward to getting feedback from fans on the new album?
I’m extremely anxious. It’s been a long time coming and I think my fans are really going to respond well to this album.

Q: On the album cover you’re shown running while wrapped in an American flag. Any implied message there?
I’m a patriotic guy, no doubt. But there was no motivation behind the photo. It was a prop the photographer had. We took the shot and I thought it looked good.

Q: This album had a long genesis. Did you have any goals in mind when you first went in?
By the time we started recording, I had a pretty clear picture of what the end product was going to sound like. The writing process was so long. Jamie and I did all the writing together. When he produces demos, they’re pretty well fleshed out. There weren’t really any surprises when we started recording. I was basically trying to get in there and get the best out of all the musicians that we could.

Q: Would you say the new album is a natural progression from ‘Keep Coming Back?’
Completely different. Totally different headspace and I think even a different genre in many ways. Just a different beast altogether.

Q: Did your producer/collaborator Jamie Kenney’s previous production work have any effect on these soul-inflected tunes? 
The relationship that I have with Jamie and the level of comfortability with his skill set as a producer...allowed me to focus really on my job, which is just conveying the lyric and singing. And not having to worry about anything else as a producer...When it came time to mix the record, I took my wife to Jamaica on vacation.

Q: Jamie also pushed you to do things you normally wouldn’t in the studio. Can you elaborate on that?
It wasn’t necessarily anything profoundly stylistic. It was the more emotional stuff. Things like a simple phrase. Instead of singing in time, it’s more of a spoken kind of thing. Things that I wouldn’t have ever thought of. When he’d say, ‘no, sing it this way,’ it made the moment really special.

Q: Last time we talked, for your 'Carencro' album, you said you were trying to bring integrity back to music. Have you succeeded since then?
No. I think my music has integrity, but I don’t know what the hell I was talking about back then.

Q: Is your musical mission to keep traditional R&B and soul relevant?
That would be a pretty bold statement. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the place where I can claim that mantle. I don’t have a stage or platform big enough for that.


Interview with Marc Broussard

courtesy Atlantic Records

A version of my interview originally appeared at 

[Broussard performs at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Thursday and the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday.]

A rare estrogen infusion during Marc Broussard’s concerts this month should make his soul/pop sound more vibrant than usual. The reason? Members of predominantly female act Chic Gamine will handle background vocals.

“I fell in love with them years ago at a Yellowstone festival,” Broussard recalled about the Montreal world beat quintet, in a phone interview from his Louisiana residence.

“I’ve always wanted to have really great singers and these four girls are exceptional. It’s going to be different than all [my] previous tours.”

The fairer sex also gets an emphasized lyrical role on his winsome new self-titled Atlantic Records album. All the songs were co-written with producer/keyboardist Jamie Kenney (Jason Castro, Natalie Grant).

“If we were talking about a woman, it was generally an amalgamation of our respective others. My wife definitely got the lion’s share of inspiration.”

Prime examples include the sensual, Motown soul stomper "Only Everything (Appletree),” strident R&B groove of “Emily,” sleek ballads “Let it All Out” and Al Green-styled “Lucky” and idyllic, gospel-tinged closer, “Let Me Do it Over.”

Mellotron sounds color the latter tune - a departure Broussard said was “gorgeous” and “came together so beautifully. I feel privileged to have that song on my record.” The lyrics revolve around conflict avoidance with a significant other.

“You can tell that something is wrong and have no idea what the hell you did, but you know you probably did something. So you might as well just apologize now instead of figuring it out.”

Bluesy standout “Eye on the Prize” – influenced by a comment Broussard’s young son once made -- was originally a smooth R&B song done for 2008’s “Keep Coming Back,” but didn’t make the cut. While searching for potential material to round out the latest effort's track list, Broussard played the demo on his iPod.

Kenney quickly reworked the arrangement with a “different swampy, groovy approach. I was over the moon about it and said, ‘this is exactly what the album needs.’”

Broussard emerged in 2002 with the independent CD “Momentary Setback,” signed to Island Records and put out the impressive “Carencro” (named after his Louisiana hometown) two years later. The buoyant "Where You Are" was a minor hit at Adult Top 40 radio and VH1; “Home” found equal prominence at those outlets and got attention at country radio and CMT following Hurricane Katrina.

On 2007 covers disc “S.O.S. - Save Our Soul,” the artist paid reverent tribute to '60s R&B forerunners like Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack and Otis Redding, “Keep Coming Back” included LeAnn Rimes and Sara Bareilles duets and continued down a spirited, soulful path.

Recorded at a large secluded estate on the bayou of Maurice, La., much of the new eponymous album was done in a timely fashion. “It’s always beneficial to get musicians away from everything because we tend to get distracted pretty easily by liquor. By women as well. Some of us do -- not myself these days.

“It’s so far out in the country that there’s not really an opportunity to leave. You just get a hell of a lot more work done. My brother did all the cooking for us on site.”

According to the singer, collaborating with Kenney “allowed me to relax more than any other project I’ve ever been on…I didn’t have to throw my two cents in anywhere because I totally trusted what Jamie was doing.”

In recent years, a few veteran acts have utilized Broussard’s raspy pipes on their own albums. George Benson  redid Broussard’s “Come In From the Cold,” there was a guest appearance on Trombone Shorty's punchy “Right to Complain” and fellow Pelican state native Irma Thomas tapped Broussard for fresh tracks on the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” retrospective.

The Thomas session was particularly memorable due to some bantering with her band’s Charles “Chucky C” Elam. “He made me laugh so hard that I ruined at least five takes. Finally Miss Irma said, ‘alright son, it’s time to make it happen. Time to calm down and stop laughing.’”

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New albums out this week

Barry Manilow/15 Minutes (Stiletto Ent/Fontana) - After four popular themed albums representing The Greatest Songs of the Fifties through Eighties (two of them certified gold or better), another covering The Greatest Love Songs of All Time and a pair of Christmas CDs (one of which also went gold), the veteran singer/songwriter returns with his first all-original studio release in 10 years. 

The title was inspired by the famous Andy Warhol quote; the guitar-driven pop song cycle explores the perils and pinnacles of fame’s double-edged sword. Working with a top-notch assembly of studio musicians - including guitarists Tim Pierce and Laurence Juber (ex-McCartney & Wings), drummer Greg Bisonette, bassist Matt Bisonette, longtime backing vocalist Ron Dante and others - 15 Minutes is a pleasant surprise. Manilow nearly rocks out at times and there are a couple dance numbers that could've come from his "Copacabana" days. 

“Fame and success are something we all strive for, and yet when we get it how do we behave? That question jumps out at us daily from magazine covers, TV news and online gossip sites. In my world of entertainment, I’ve watched perfectly decent and talented people achieve the success they’ve been striving for only to crash and burn as their star rises," Manilow has said about the lyrical impetus.

"It happens in every walk of life, not only in the entertainment field; in sports, in politics and in daily life when the assistant manager gets promoted at the grocery store. It’s something that continues to fascinate us, and for me it represented an interesting musical journey to explore," he continued. 

Sebadoh/Bakesale Deluxe Edition (Sub Pop) - One of the influentual Seattle record label's more popular acts during the mid-'90s, Sebadoh put out fifth full-length CD Bakesale in 1994 and it became one of their most acclaimed efforts.

This reissue features the original album, newly remastered, and a second disc of B-sides, EP tracks and rarities from the same era.  Principle members Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein oversaw the process and both contributed to the liner notes, along with merch guy Mike Flood. Also included are several photos and original artwork design instructions. Bakesale is being reissued on vinyl for the first time in years and will include the bonus material as a digital download.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings/Kings and Queens (FUM/Dramatico) - the Juno Award-winning Canadian roots rock group pairs up with Rosanne Cash, Exene Cervenka, Holly Cole, Emmylou Harris, Sam Phillips, Serena Ryder, Pam Tillis, Sara Watkins, Lucinda Williams, Cassandra Wilson, Patti Scialfa and several other female singers on its sixth album.

Monday, June 13, 2011

O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack revisited

It has been a decade since one of the most unlikely successes in music history was released. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of the 10 top-selling soundtracks of all time (according to the RIAA), the No. 1-selling soundtrack and the 17th biggest album of the 21st Century, with more than nine million albums sold.

On Aug. 16, UMe will celebrate this 10th anniversary with a deluxe two-CD set, with original producer T Bone Burnett personally involved in all aspects of this release.

The album that rocketed bluegrass, roots and even Americana music from the 20th Century into the new millennium features a 17-track bonus disc. Thirteen of these newly-released songs were recorded during original sessions for the film, and all except “Cow Road” and “I’ll Fly Away” went unheard on-screen. This release marks the first time these tracks have been made available in any format.

Produced by 12-time GRAMMY® Award-and Academy Award-winner Burnett, the original soundtrack from the 2000 film—written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney—hit No.1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Country charts and became a music phenomenon, despite scant radio airplay.

Along with ALBUM OF THE YEAR honors, the album won GRAMMYs® for “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” performed by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright, and “O Death” by Dr. Ralph Stanley. 

The second disc of the deluxe edition features artists who appeared on the original album (John Hartford, Norman Blake, the Fairfield Four, the Cox Family and the Peasall Sisters) plus some who did not (Colin Linden, Alan O’Bryant, Ed Lewis and Van Dyke Parks). The disc’s previously recorded tracks are a pair from Duke Ellington, “Tom Devil” by Ed Lewis and the Prisoners, and “I’ll Fly Away” by the Kossoy Sisters.

The music from O Brother originally spawned an award-winning hit album and a groundbreaking Nashville concert.  The resulting documentary film of that show, Down From The Mountain, led to another GRAMMY®-winning album and a sold-out U.S. tour.

McCartney tour news

Paul McCartney has confirmed three more dates on his On The Run tour: July 24 at Comerica Park in Detroit MI, July 31 at Wrigley Field in Chicago IL, and August 4 at The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati OH.

Kicking off July 15-16 with McCartney's first ever shows at Yankee Stadium in New York, the On The Run tour's start marks nearly two years to the day since Paul's legendary July 17, 18 & 21, 2009 Citi Field concerts, immortalized on the Grammy-winning gold-certified Good Evening New York City CD/DVD.

McCartney's Detroit, Chicago and Cincinnati stadium gigs will likewise be hugely anticipated returns to cities with that have hosted historical performances by Paul in the past: The July 24 Comerica Park and July 31 Wrigley Field shows will be his first visits to the Detroit area and Chicago since 2005, while the August 4 Great American Ball Park will be Paul's first Cincinnati appearance in 18 years, his last show in the city being on The New World Tour in 1993.
Every one of this summer's On The Run dates can safely be predicted to feature nearly three hours of the world's most familiar and beloved music, with hits, deep cuts and surprises spanning McCartney's unrivaled catalogue of Beatles, Wings, solo and Fireman classics.

McCartney's recently completed Up and Coming Tour played over three dozen shows to more than 1,000,000 fans from its March 2010 start through its June 10, 2011 conclusion at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, drawing arguably the most enthusiastic audiences and critical notices of McCartney's peerless near-50-year career.

As on his Live 2009 tour and Up and Coming's 2010 run and every Paul McCartney tour since 2002, Paul will be backed by Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards, guitar, percussion, harmonica, backing vocals), Rusty Anderson (guitar, backing vocals), Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums, backing vocals) and Brian Ray (guitar, bass, backing vocals). 

In addition to overwhelming levels of critical acclaim wherever McCartney has recently played across North America, South America and the UK, last year saw many career firsts for Paul. 

These included rocking The White House in front of President Barack Obama and his family in June when Paul was made the first ever British recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize For Popular Song.  Paul returned to the White House in December (where even the President joked about Paul becoming a regular there) to be awarded with a Kennedy Center Honor. Paul ended 2010 with a Dec. 11 visit to Saturday Night Live in New York City followed by a career landmark first ever performance at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater on Dec. 13 and three intimate homecoming shows in the UK.

He played the smallest club show of his career at London's legendary 100 Club to just 300 people, which made headlines as far as China.  The final two shows were at the Hammersmith Apollo and at Liverpool's O2 Academy, both of which broke venue box office records. 

McCartney kicked off his 2011 live agenda last month with his  first ever show in Peru, his first Chilean gig since 1993, and two blockbuster shows at Rio de Janeiro's Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, which also resulted in the first ever concert to be broadcast live on the internet throughout Latin America--allowing over 1.5 million fans who were unable to snap up one of the 100,000 tickets to share in the magic.