Monday, January 30, 2012

Garbage album and European tour news

Garbage has announced their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind Of People, will be released in America on May 15, on the band's label STUNVOLUME.  

"Working with Garbage again was very instinctual," said member Duke Erikson.  "Like getting on a bicycle...with three other people." He adds, "We haven't felt this good about a Garbage record since the last one!"

Garbage - Shirley Manson (vocals), Steve Marker (guitars, keyboards), Duke Erikson (guitars, keyboards) and Butch Vig (drums, loops) - will hit the road this spring in support of the album by performing several headlining shows as well as various festivals throughout Europe and the U.S. with more dates to be confirmed.  

"Thinking about going back on the road is both thrilling and terrifying in equal measure," said Shirley Manson. "...but we've always enjoyed a little pain mixed in with our pleasure." 

Tour dates
9                    London, England                           Troxy 
11                  St. Petersburg, Russia                  Jubilenyi Hall
12                  Moscow, Russia                            Crocus City Hall
16                  Paris, France                                Olympia

16                  Hultsfred, Sweden                      Hultsfred Festival
17                  Aarhus, Denmark                       Northside Festival
22                  Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany   Southside Festival
23                  Scheessel, Germany                 Hurricane Festival, Red Stage
28                  Werchter, Belgium                     Rock Werchter, Pyramid Marquee

* more dates to be announced

UCR Heat Festival 2012

As mentioned here earlier in the week, The Airborne Toxic Event will headline UC Riverside's Heat Festival on March 3.

Other acts are Mac Miller, Secret Panda Society, Iration, Major Lazer, Chiddy Bang, Fei-Fei and Karmin.

Public tickets, $42.50, on sale Feb. 8. UC Riverside students can obtain free tickets with ID and buy non-student ones for $27.

Tom Tom Club concert review: Riverside

Nacional Records/Cookman Mgmt.
It was infectious energy all the way as Tom Tom Club made their first live appearance in Riverside, Calif. on Friday night at Romano’s Concert Lounge.

An extension of last year’s 30th Anniversary tour – the first in a decade - the influential band led by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers/former Talking Heads members Tina Weymouth (bass/vocals) and husband Chris Frantz (drums/backing vocals) treated the moderate Inland Empire crowd to a nearly two-hour set.

Tom Tom Club’s most recent release is the 2CD set Genius of Live (Nacional). Disc 1 comprises an edited version of 2001’s Live at the Club House, which few people heard due to label troubles at the time. Disc 2 includes 11 new “Genius of Love” remixes from Latin artists like Ozomatli, Kinky, Money Mark, The Pinker Tones, Mexican Institute of Sound and others.

The idea for the reissue/remix albums came from Tomas Cookman of Nacional Records in North Hollywood, California. He manages Rock en Espanol band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs; Weymouth and Frantz produced their 1995 effort “Rey Azucar.”

Initially a side project from Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club was an immediate hit with their self-titled 1981 debut record, featuring the twin dance chart toppers “Wordy Rappinghood” and “Genius.” The latter reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a favorite track to sample among rappers and hip hop acts (Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent) and most famously, Mariah Carey, whose “Fantasy” stayed at #1 for two months in 1995.  

Opening with the funky “Who Feelin’ It,” Weymouth and Victoria Clamp sang in tandem and shook their red sparkly mini-dresses around.

Weymouth mentioned she’d skied at Big Bear in the past and asked if anyone remembered CBGBs (the infamous NYC club where Talking Heads got their mid-‘70s start).

Clamp proved to be quite a lively presence all evening, often recalling Blondie’s Debbie Harry as well as the B-52’s when joined by Weymouth. The lengthy, mantra-like “Man with the 4-Way Hips” boasted a sinewy groove and steel drum solo by longtime keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist Bruce Martin.

“Suboceana” included plenty of turntable scratching from Frantz and Weymouth’s son Kid Ginseng. A ska-tinged “She’s Dangerous” (from 2000’s The Good, The Bad and The Funky) and the loping, reggae take on The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” (a U.K. hit in the ‘80s) were highlights.

While looking at her clothes, Weymouth, 61, joked that she and Clamp were “punk cougars. We like to have our illusions and still shop at Forever 21.”

Several people who had been watching from afar suddenly made their way down to the front of the stage to shimmy along with the ladies on a fun “Genius.” Tom Tom Club’s cover of Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” was equally entertaining.

Zany disco strains in “Wordy Rappinghood” kept the fans vigorously moving around. Finally, Chris, Tina & Co. treated the crowd to intriguing versions of Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River” (via Al Green) and a sped-up “Psycho Killer.” - George A. Paul

Tom Tom Club, Romano’s Concert Lounge, Riverside, Calif., Jan. 27, 2012
Setlist: Who Feelin’ It/Punk Lolita/The Man with the 4-Way Hips/Suboceana/She’s Dangerous/L’Elephant/On, on, on, on/Under the Boardwalk/Don’t Say No/Kiss Me When I Get Back/Genius of Love/You Sexy Thing/Wordy Rappinghood
Encore: Take Me to the River/Psycho Killer

Romano’s Concert Lounge has headline talent periodically throughout the year, but 2012 has started off strong with this show. Next up in Cy Curnin of The Fixx and DJ Richard Blade (ex-KROQ FM), 9 p.m. Feb. 4, $20; Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, 9 p.m. Feb. 10, $15;  Dave Wakeling’s English Beat, 8 p.m. Feb. 18, $22.50. 21 and over. 

For more information, go to or call (951) 781-7662. The Concert Lounge is adjacent to Romano’s Italian Restaurant, which has a full menu and is located at 5225 Canyon Crest Drive, near UCR.      

Friday, January 27, 2012

More info on Cranberries reunion album

The Cranberries will return with Roses, their first studio album in over a decade via Cooking Vinyl on Feb. 28 via Cooking Vinyl/Downtown Records in the U.S.

Roses was produced by the highly successful Irish band's longtime collaborator Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur).

"Tomorrow" is the first single, with a video for the single filmed in Dublin now on VEVO. Singer Dolores O'Riordan said "the song was written really spontaneously. People tend to overly ponder; it is the human condition. 'Tomorrow' is about getting away from the consuming thought process."

 The Cranberries are scheduled to perform on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Feb. 7, "The View" on Feb. 10 and the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.   

Of their studio reunion, Dolores stated, "Having recorded two albums with various different musicians during our hiatus, I could clearly see that Noel and Mike have a unique way of creating chords and Ferg keeps it together in a subtle way. We had a blast in the studio, Stephen was in his zone and it came together rather quickly. There is a sense of rejuvenation in the group, a freshness." 

Guitarist Noel Hogan added, "I always had the attitude that there would be another album. Over the last six years, Dolores and I were sending each other ideas on and off." During the reunion tour, the band began working on new music during soundchecks. "The icing on the cake was to work with Stephen Street again who helped us rediscover our sound."

Roses Track Listing:
  1. Conduct
  2. Tomorrow
  3. Fire & Soul
  4. Raining In My Heart
  5. Losing My Mind
  6. Schizophrenic Playboys
  7. Waiting In Walthamstow
  8. Show Me The Way
  9. Astral Projections
  10. So Good
  11. Roses

Lionel Richie's country album details

Lionel Richie will release Tuskegee, a collection of 13 of his international hits recorded with some of the biggest names in country music, on March 27 on Mercury Nashville.
Duet partners on Tuskegee include Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington and Little Big Town.
On this worldwide, multi-genre album, Richie is also joined by the likes of such superstars as Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett.
In addition, the Academy of Country Music and dick clark productions will tape an all-star concert special, Lionel Richie and Friends "In concert" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 2.

The show will air at a later date on the CBS Television Network. Some of his greatest hits will be performed by Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers and many more. 
Tuskegee is an exciting new chapter in a career that has seen album sales of more than 100 million, 22 Top 10s, five Grammys, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe, and a host of other awards.
Tuskegee is also a musical homecoming that feels like a heartwarming reunion with a beloved friend. He proves that you can go home again as he returns to his Southern roots to pay tribute to his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama, where he was indelibly shaped as a man and a musician.
He was exposed to country, gospel, R&B and classical music while growing up, and it was in Tuskegee where he helped form the Commodores and wrote his first hits, including “Sail On” and “Easy.”
“Tuskegee is where it all began, the place where I felt that everything was available and possible,” he says. “It’s where I learned about life and love and the power of music, and the place I built a musical foundation that knows no genres or boundaries.
“Doing this album was coming back to the beginning, back to basics, back to home,” he says. “The part of it I love the most is that the journey has been one of discovering myself. By the time I got back to Nashville, I clearly knew that the roots of my songwriting, my storytelling, were from the South.”
It’s also been a process of rediscovering the hits that have served as the soundtrack of the lives of generations around the world. “Every Lionel Richie song that I can think of I had a personal experience with – high school homecomings, proms, you name it,” says Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, who duets on “Dancin’ On the Ceiling.” “Lionel was always playing in my house. His music always said what we felt and couldn’t express.”
Says Darius Rucker, who joins Richie on “Stuck On You,” “I wanted to work with Lionel because he is one of my idols. Lionel’s more a part of my DNA really than an idol. It was an absolute honor to work with him.” Adds Jason Aldean, who selected “Say You, Say Me,” “I’ve always been a huge fan. He is probably one of the best singer/songwriters of this generation.”
Once again, Richie is following his songs as they take him back to country, where they have been welcomed for more than two decades. Conway Twitty recorded “Three Times a Lady,” Kenny Rogers famously sang “Lady” and Alabama recorded “Deep River Woman.”
Artists such as Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts perform his songs in their shows. He has performed on the Country Music Association Awards three times.
“When I [last] did the CMAs and the room was singing along with me, it was really more like a family reunion than it was a concert or show,” he says. “It was just great validation to know that the music was accepted like it was.”
These innovative musical interpretations have given new meaning to his songs while serving as a powerful reminder of the timelessness of his impressive body of work. He asked the other singers to select the songs and ignore his original version and instead perform the song as if it were their own.
“I wanted it the way they would do it in their show, which means I captured their essence. You make the song a Willie Nelson song. You make the song a Rascal Flatts song.  
“It’s special to the point where it sounds new again, so I’m excited just as the writer, as the original parent of this child. I’m excited to see another generation embrace the music.”
Richie says recording Tuskegee was perhaps the most fun he’s ever had in the studio. “Tuskegee is going to be one of the most special albums I’ve ever done in my life. This is something that’s going to be so special forever because it’s a moment in time when these artists all got together and celebrated some music,” he says. “What started out as a collaboration of a group of very talented, very successful artists ended up growing into brand new, very good friends.”
Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee track listing:
  1. “You Are” with Blake Shelton
  2. “Say You, Say Me” with Jason Aldean
  3. “Stuck On You” with Darius Rucker
  4. “Deep River Woman” with Little Big Town
  5. “My Love” with Kenny Chesney
  6. “Dancing On The Ceiling” with Rascal Flatts
  7. “Hello” with Jennifer Nettles
  8. “Sail On” with Tim McGraw
  9. “Endless Love” with Shania Twain
  10. “Just For You” with Billy Currington
  11. “Lady” with Kenny Rogers
  12. “Easy” with Willie Nelson
  13. “All Night Long” with Jimmy Buffett

New M. Ward album, tour news

Merge Records will release M. Ward's sixth solo album, A Wasteland Companion, on April 10.

In the three years since the Portland, OR-based troubadour released his last solo album - the universally lauded Hold Time - he’s toured the globe, released two albums as one half of Grammy-nominated duo She & Him as well as one with the talented group of friends collectively know as Monsters Of Folk.

Inspired by his increasingly itinerant lifestyle Ward set forth to create something of a musical travelogue. He explains, “Between now and when I made Hold Time there has been a lot of traveling which requires a lot of reckoning with what to leave behind and what to carry – material and otherwise – and thinking about what I want versus what I need, creatively and otherwise. I wanted to get a reflection of that on the album. It was a process of stripping away my security blanket, which is the same four walls I always record in.”

Among the musicians appearing on it are Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb (piano), John Parish (percussion, marimba), Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis (organ), She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel (vocals), Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (percussion), Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman (strings).

Track listing :
1. Clean Slate
2. Primitive Girl
3. Me And My Shadow
4. Sweetheart
5. I Get Ideas
6. The First Time I Ran Away
7. A Wasteland Companion
8. Watch The Show
9. There’s A Key
10. Crawl After You
11. Wild Goose
12. Pure Joy
Tour dates :
Feb 2 Los Angeles, CA Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Apr 11 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
Apr 12 Santa Cruz, CA The Cocoanut Grove Ballroom
Apr 13 Indio, CA Coachella **SOLD OUT**
Apr 14 Santa Barbara, CA SoHO
Apr 16 San Diego, CA Belly Up
Apr 17 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
Apr 18 Flagstaff, AZ The Orpheum
Apr 20 Indio, CA Coachella **SOLD OUT**
May 5 Portland, ME State Theatre
May 6 Burlington, VT Higher Ground
May 7 New Haven, CT Toads Place
May 8 Boston, MA House of Blues
May 11 New York, NY Webster Hall
May 12 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
May 13 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
May 15 Durham, NC Duke Performances at Page Auditorium
May 16 Athens, GA Georgia Theatre
May 17 Atlanta, GA Buckhead Theatre
May 22 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
May 24 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue

Jonathan Richman supports 4/11
fIREHOSE supports 4/12, 4/16-4/18
Lee Ranaldo Band supports 5/5-5/22

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bruce Springsteen world tour news

I can't wait to see them again. Wish The Boss didn't book LA gigs in mid-to-late April all the time, so close to the big Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals here in SoCal though...

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band launch the first U.S. leg of the 2012 'Wrecking Ball' World Tour on March 18 in Atlanta. Bruce Springsteen's 17th studio album 'Wrecking Ball' will be released on Columbia Records on March 6.

"We Take Care Of Our Own" is the album's first single. Stream it and pre-order 'Wrecking Ball' at:

The E Street Band's members are: Roy Bittan – piano, synthesizer; Nils Lofgren – guitar, vocals; Patti Scialfa – guitar, vocals; Garry Tallent – bass guitar; Stevie Van Zandt – guitar, vocals; and Max Weinberg – drums; with Soozie Tyrell – violin, guitar, vocals and Charlie Giordano – keyboards.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 2012 Tour Dates:
US Tour Dates
March 18 – Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena (on sale Feb 4)
March 19 – Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum (on sale Feb 3)
March 23 – Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Forum (on sale Jan 28)
March 26 – Boston, MA – TD Garden (on sale Jan 28)
March 28 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
March 29 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 1 – Washington, DC – Verizon Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 3 – East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 4 – East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 6 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 9 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 12 – Detroit, MI – The Palace of Auburn Hills (on sale Jan 28)
April 13 – Buffalo, NY – First Niagara Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 16 – Albany, NY – Times Union Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 17 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena (on sale Jan 28)
April 24 – San Jose, CA – HP Pavilion (on sale Feb 3)
April 26 – Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (on sale Feb 3)
April 29 – New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (on sale now)
May 2 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center (on sale Jan 27)

European Tour Dates
May 13 – Seville, Spain – Estadio Olimpico (on sale now)
May 17 – Barcelona, Spain – Estadio Olimpico Lluis (on sale now)
May 18 – Barcelona, Spain – Estadio Olimpico Lluis (on sale now)
May 25 – Frankfurt, Germany – Commerzbank Arena (on sale now)
May 27 – Cologne, Germany – RheinEnergieStadion (on sale now)
May 28 – Landgraaf, Netherlands – Pinkpop (on sale Mar 3)
May 30 – Berlin, Germany – Olympia Stadion (on sale now)
June 2 – San Sebastian, Spain – Estadio Anoeta (on sale now)
June 3 – Lisbon, Portugal – Rock in Lisbon (on sale now)
June 7 – Milan, Italy – Stadio Meaza (on sale now)
June 10 – Florence, Italy – Stadio Francesco (on sale now)
June 11 – Trieste, Italy – Stadio Trieste (on sale now)
June 17 – Madrid, Spain – Estadio Santago Bernabu (on sale now)
June 19 – Montpellier, France – Park & Suites Arena (on sale now)
June 21 – Sunderland, UK – Stadium of Light (on sale now)
June 22 – Manchester, UK – Etihad Stadium (on sale now)
June 24 – Isle of Wight, UK – Isle of Wight Festival (on sale now)
July 4 – Paris, France – Bercy (on sale now)
July 5 – Paris, France – Bercy (on sale now)
July 7 – Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival (on sale now)
July 9 – Zurich, Switzerland – Stadium Letzigrund (on sale now)
July 11 – Prague, Czech Republic – Synot Tip Arena (on sale now)
July 12 – Vienna, Austria – Ernst Happel Stadium (on sale now)
July 14 – London, UK – Hard Rock Calling (on sale now)
July 17 – Dublin, Ireland – RDS (on sale now)
July 18 – Dublin, Ireland – RDS (on sale now)
July 21 – Oslo, Norway – Valle Hoven (on sale now)
July 23 – Bergen, Norway – Koengen (on sale now)
July 24 – Bergen, Norway – Koengen (on sale now)
July 27 – Gothenberg, Sweden – Ullevi (on sale now)
July 28 – Gothenberg, Sweden – Ullevi (on sale now)
July 31 – Helsinki, Finland – Olympic Stadium (on sale Jan 25)

Monday, January 23, 2012

LA's Electric Guest set album release, tour

I saw these guys at Gibson Amphitheatre for LA 101 last year and was impressed. I look forward to the new material...

Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton - collectively known as Electric Guest - have confirmed an April 24 release date for their Danger Mouse-produced Downtown Records debut album, Mondo. 

The record's release is preceded by first single "This Head I Hold," available now as a free stream and released digitally on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the video for "American Daydream," directed by Jorma Taccone (The Lonely Island, Saturday Night Live), just premiered across MTV, mtvU, MTV Hits and 

Electric Guest will also be bringing its live experience to Los Angeles' Echo club for a free residency beginning Monday Feb. 6 and continuing every Monday through the end of February.
The free weekly 11 p.m. live sets represent the band giving something back to the Los Angeles homebase that has embraced it since KCRW named album track "Troubleman" a "Today's Top Tune":

Following the completion of the Echo residency, Electric Guest will head out on a series of dates in the southwestern U.S., including their first visit to South By Southwest in Austin.

Tour dates

3/10 -The Green Room - Flagstaff, AZ
3/11- Santa Fe Sol, Santa Fe, NM
3/13-Club Dada- Dallas, TX
3/14-3/17-Austin, SXSW
3/19-The Lowbrow Palace-El Paso, TX
3/20-Club Congress-Tucson, AZ 
3/21-Sail Inn-Phoenix, AZ

NAMM 2012: Day 3 featuring Goo Goo Dolls' John Rzeznik, Dawes

A version of my post originally appeared at

photo by Bob Steshetz
Although 96,000 people were registered and expected to attend either part or all of The NAMM Show (as it’s commonly referred to these days), it almost seemed like everyone converged on the Anaheim Convention Center at once Saturday. 

By 12:30 p.m., the main halls were swarming with people. I saw the Madden Brothers from Good Charlotte posing with a fan on a main floor aisle. 

Toward the back section, I happened upon the Sennheiser USA booth’s emerging artists stage, where Hot Topic/Alternative Press magazine fave Blameshift did an appealing acoustic set.

The Long Island, N.Y.-based rock band, led by Jenny Mann, did a few songs from last year’s The Black Rose EP (“Killing Me,” “Ghost”) and a mildly wailing take on Yellowcard’s “Only One.” 

At the far end corner of Hall D, the PreSonus stage once again drew a big crowd; this time for a groovin’ jam featuring guitarist Chris LeBlanc, bassist Jerry Henderson and David Haynes (Stanley Jordan). The latter was especially interesting to watch play a small drum machine with his fingers. 

Taylor Guitars in El Cajon, Calif. has a reputation for showcasing top-notch artists every year at its spacious second floor NAMM room.

This week's roster was no exception. Friday boasted an amazing set by San Diego’s The Silent Comedy. Saturday had John Rzeznik and NBC talent show "The Voice" winner Javier Colon.

Rzeznik, the Goo Goo Dolls front man (pictured above and directly below), brought along Goos’ touring guitarist Brad Fernquist. Both played acoustically on beautiful Taylor models.

photo by Bob Steshetz
Unfortunately, fans who packed the space only got to witness two tunes. But they were both winners.

First was the yearning, elegantly picked ballad “As I Am” (from 2010’s Something for the Rest of Us) and an enthusiastic version of 2000 hit “Broadway.”

Rzeznik seemed relaxed and bantered with the crowd. Dissatisfied with the tone of his voice at that hour of the day, he marveled about the quality of Taylor products and said, "We're here to listen to guitars, not my voice."

Too bad he couldn't be persuaded to go longer (as many on the Taylor stage roster often do).

Back downstairs, L.A. folk/rock band Dawes finally held court at the Shure booth after a Rob Halford signing lasted for what seemed like an eternity.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith, his brother Griffin and Tay Strathairn (seen below) transfixed those wise enough to pay attention with some heavenly harmonies.

photo by Robert Kinsler
“Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “If I Wanted Someone” – off last year’s excellent Nothing is Wrong (one of my top 10 album picks) - were delicate and enrapturing. 

Local musicians spotted: 

No Doubt drummer Adrian Young, with his three young children and wife looking to be somewhere quick – likely his signing. Fellow bandmate Tom Dumont was also making an appearance (for Takamine Guitars).

Dramarama bassist Mike Davis hung out in the press room for a bit and told me the band's long awaited new studio album is in the mixing stage and should be out this year. 

From the 'never would have guessed' category... 

In the main lobby of the convention center, two women in business attire drummed up attention for NAMM Russia in May. Held at Expocenter Krasnaya Presnya, Moscow, the info sheet lists multiple product groups (instruments/accessories, lighting, stage and laser technology, sound equipment, etc.). Registration fee: EUR 220 + VAT (18%).

For more info, go to

NAMM 2012: Day 2 featuring Uh Huh Her, Kenny Loggins

A version of my post originally appeared at
On Friday morning in the main hall, a small seated audience at the PreSonus Audio Electronics booth were treated to a delightful performance by L’Angelus.

The Louisiana family roots band is comprised of the Rees siblings, who are all in their 20s and have had their music featured in a PBS documentary. The lively Cajun-influenced NAMM set included “Vive la Bon Vie,” “Ca C’est Bon” and a soulful take on the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” sung by fiddler Steve.

photo by Robert Kinsler
Upstairs in the Fender Guitars room, L.A.-based female duo Uh Huh Her (pictured, left) captivated a moderate-sized crowd with some haunting, synth-dominated alt-rock.

“We’re excited. This is our first time playing at NAMM; it’s like being at Guitar Center,” enthused lead singer/keyboardist/guitarist and onetime Mellowdrone member Camila Grey. 

The duo’s recent second album Nocturnes was co-produced by Wendy Melvoin (Prince+the Revolution) and expands upon their moody electro-pop in fine fashion.

Here, with music partner Leisha Hailey (formerly of the Murmurs and Showtime series “The L Word”) on bass/vocals and animated drummer Josh Kane, they conjured up some icy drama, notably during “Disdain” and "Time Stands Still" from previous effort Common Reaction.

Over in the secondary exhibitors’ hall, two NAMM employees clad in Sound Control-emblazoned shirts could be seen holding up meters to make sure the overall noise level didn’t exceed 85 decibels (it probably wasn’t a problem in that location; upstairs, it would be a far different story).

Nearby, Kenny Loggins did a signing at the Bedell Guitars booth and drew a large amount of fans taking photos and shouting inane questions at him while two security officers reminisced about Loggins’ major hit “Footloose” and the 1980s in general. 

NAMM 2012: Day 1 with more Brian Wilson, Ed Roland, Colbie Caillat

A version of my post originally appeared at 

There was plenty of buzz around the convention center leading up to Brian Wilson’s scheduled performance at the Gibson Guitar room upstairs on Thursday. But fans who waited an hour near the small corner stage for the Beach Boys leader to arrive probably left disappointed. 

Oddly without any introduction from a company spokesperson (especially for someone of his stature), Wilson sat down at a stool besides longtime solo touring band members Jeffrey Foskett (on acoustic guitar) and Darian Sahanaja (on keyboards).

I was hoping we’d hear something from last year’s enjoyable In The Key of Disney album or possibly 2010’s equally solid Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin. No such luck. Instead, they did Beach Boys classics “California Girls” and “God Only Knows,” as actor/frequent Beach Boys touring musician John Stamos watched from the sidelines.

Foskett and Sahanaja provided heavenly backing harmonies to the somewhat shaky songs. Suddenly, Wilson seemed like he couldn’t wait to leave and it was all over in less than 10 minutes. 

photo by Robert Kinsler
Over at the shared Fender/Gretsch Guitar room stage was The Sweet Tea Project (pictured, left) – a new band from Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland.

Sans introduction or explanation, Roland started playing the first of three enticing Sweet Tea tunes on acoustic guitar with bassist brother Dean (from Collective Soul) and percussionist/banjo player Christopher Yates.

Only after being questioned by a fan, did Ed explain that the “organic Americana” group would be touring soon and Collective Soul planned to return to the studio in late spring. After three of the new selections (and no bones thrown to CS enthusiasts), they split almost as fast as Wilson did. 

Earlier on the Fender/Gretsch stage, Canadian electric guitarist Hayley McLean did an impressive set. Highlighted by the Sheryl Crow-ish “That’s How You Know,” the newcomer also did worthy covers of Emmylou Harris’ “Born to Run” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” 

Inside the main trade show area, I saw Colbie Caillat draw a huge mid-afternoon crowd for her acoustic performance at the Shure microphones booth. 

One trend I noticed was people more inclined to use their smartphones to take photos of artist appearances listed at booths or utilizing various NAMM-related apps instead of consulting the print NAMM catalog or brochures. 

NAMM 2012 Media Preview Day featuring Brian Wilson, John Mayer

A version of this post originally appeared on 

The 110th edition of The NAMM Show unofficially got underway last Wednesday at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California.

Media Preview Day featured some standout products on display as well as special appearances by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brian Wilson, Michelle Phillips and John Mayer. 

Agile Partners - the Illinois-based company known for the popular Lick of the Day app (over 1 million downloads to date) in conjunction with Guitar World magazine, AmpKit and more - had its updated AmpKit Link HD demonstrated by blues/rock guitarist Shepherd.  

photo by Robert Kinsler
The digital guitar interface with USB technology enables users to play guitar without lugging around an amplifier. It provides high fidelity, eliminates crosstalk and feedback and is geared toward AmpKit's high gain amps.

"I'm on the road constantly and with this, I can rock out in my hotel room without disturbing anybody," Shepherd (pictured, left) told the audience, as the digital pedals and effects were displayed on a computer screen and he triggered a Stevie Ray Vaughn-type sound.

"It's very versatile and I put together useable sounds. There's good overdrive and it cleans up nicely like a real amp would...tone freaks can tweak the sound. I'm an old school analog guy, but this has nice digital effects and is good for drop tunings."

Shepherd also praised the app, comparing it to a "one on one guitar lesson with great players."

Other features of the AmpKit Link HD, due in the second quarter of 2012:

>an optional AC adapter charges iPads, iPhones or iPod touches as a musician plays
>utilizes cable with dual locking connectors, rather than relying on friction fit
>has control knobs for guitar input level and headphone output level with no need to launch an app
>works with Mac and PC 

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wilson, who will reunite with the Beach Boys later this year for a tour and new studio album, was presented with the "Music for Life Award." He participated in a quick Q&A with NAMM President/CEO Joe Lamond. Topics ranged from favorite studios (his own in Bel Air) and how he deals with changing technology ("I try to simply things").

Former Arkansas governor and Fox News Channel host Mike Huckabee talked about the importance of music education in schools - a subject he's very passionate about - and the Wanna Play? fund that he started to put instruments in students' hands.

"As a kid, playing the guitar changed my life and took away my timidity and helped forge a career path" as a politician. "A sense of value was unlocked." Huckabee finished by doing a mini-jam with Shepherd (pictured below)

photo by Bob Steshetz
Phillips, former singer with The Mamas & The Papas, was on hand alongside adult children of the late John Phillips and Mama Cass Elliot to present a new limited edition signature Martin acoustic guitar.

Only 100 instruments will be made. They are adorned with silver silhouettes of the group on the headstock. Michelle Phillips reminisced about the guitars her bandmates used to play in the '60s.

Another extremely limited edition Martin acoustic guitar - primarily aimed at high end collectors with only 23 made - was designed with extensive input from John Mayer.

“There's something about a smaller-bodied acoustic guitar that has always appealed to me. In one glance, it inspires me to write, travel, perform, and age along with it,” said Mayer.

“Not very long ago I was inspired to return to a completely natural way of writing and recording music, and at the center of that vision were the Martin 00-sized guitars that defined an era of brilliant songwriting in the '60s and '70s. The 00-45SC John Mayer Edition is my vision of the ultimate 00-45 come to life. It's simply perfect.”

photo by Robert Kinsler
The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter discussed how he envisioned the special guitar to be like ones cowboys and businessmen used to play in the Old West days while riding on a stagecoach.

Mayer also pointed out the unique mother of pearl deisgn at the bottom of the neck is ingrained right through in a circular pattern.

Then he did a brief instrumental for media at the convention center, but didn't sing due to recent throat surgery. 

First introduced at NAMM, the guitar will be available from participating Martin dealerships; a list will be provided on the Martin website at soon.    

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paul Simon's "Graceland" gets doc+box set treatment

Some exciting news for Paul Simon fans. Read on for more info from the label...

"Under African Skies," the new Joe Berlinger-directed documentary chronicling the creation and lasting influence of Paul Simon's groundbreaking Graceland, will debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, kicking off a year's long celebration commemorating the 25th anniversary of Simon's musical and cultural achievement.
Following its Sundance premiere, "Under African Skies," one of the year's most eagerly anticipated documentaries, is slated for international film festival screenings and a limited theatrical run as well as airings on A&E.
The story of the making of Graceland, and the controversy created when Simon went to South Africa to record with local artists, is told in "Under African Skies," the new full-length documentary from two-time Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger ("Brother's Keeper," "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," the West Memphis Three/"Paradise Lost" trilogy) and and A&E IndieFilms.
Coming this spring, Legacy Recordings will release a Graceland 25th anniversary commemorative edition deluxe collector's box set as well as a special two-disc set, each featuring the original album with bonus tracks and the director's cut of "Under African Skies."
"Under African Skies" travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit.  Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album's genesis.   His artistic decision to collaborate with African musicians created a new world musical fusion, combining American and African musical idioms while igniting an intense political crossfire, with Paul Simon accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime.
The universal appeal of the music of Graceland proved more powerful and enduring than the political hotbed attending its creation.  In 1986, the album sold 14 million copies worldwide, and received universal praise from critics around the globe. Simon and the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed on Saturday Night Live and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.  
By January of 1987, "You Can Call Me Al" was everywhere and Graceland won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1987.  Then, in an unprecedented carryover, the album garnered the Grammy for Song of the Year with its title track in 1988. The album generated three hit singles and ke pt Paul Simon and the Graceland tour on the road for five years.
In the film, Simon provides a fresh and revelatory perspective on the album while gathering the record's original musicians for a transcendental Graceland concert reunion.  "Under African Skies" features interviews with key anti-apartheid activists of the time and such musical legends as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.
Graceland continues to provide rewards to its listeners and remains a pivotal listening experience for writers, artists and fans.  "Paul Simon's Graceland played a greatly significant role in removing the standoffish dread Western culture harbored toward South Africa during its internal struggle against apartheid, humanizing both a country's soul-searching hunger for liberation and its simultaneous outpouring of cathartic creative expression." – Timothy White, Billboard
"Prior to Graceland, the music of South Africa was largely unknown outside the country, exce pt to a small minority of world music fans…." – Peter Gabriel
"I don't like the idea that people who aren't adolescents make records. Adolescents make the best records. Exce pt for Paul Simon. Exce pt for Graceland . He's hit a new plateau there, but he's writing to his own age group. Graceland is something new.  - Joe Strummer interviewed by Richard Cromelin for the Los Angeles Times on January 31, 1988
"In many ways, Graceland was the most extraordinary experience in my entire career.... The insight into rhythm was the great gift that I received from making the trip to South Africa , and collaborating with African musicians."  -- Paul Simon
Check out this press release I received...

Razor & Tie artist Dave Barnes will release his new studio album, Stories To Tell, on March 13. The album of original material was produced by John Fields (Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Goo Goo Dolls).

Barnes will tour in 2012 in support of his new release (tour dates TBA). He recently received his first Grammy nomination for Best Country Song for “God Gave Me You,” the #1 hit as performed by Blake Shelton from Shelton’s 2011 album Red River Blue. Barnes’ and Shelton’s versions of the song have sold over one million singles to date.  

Stories To Tell is Barnes’ fourth studio album for Razor & Tie and a first for him on many levels. The album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Fields, marking the first time Barnes has recorded outside of his hometown of Nashville.

Leaving everything familiar behind with his writing and recording processes forced him to venture outside of his creative comfort zone. Barnes explains, “I've done all the other records in Nashville, but for this one I really wanted to do something different. I wanted to get out of town and do something that wouldn't sound quite as much like the stuff I've done before.”

Stories To Tell also presents a stylistic departure from his previous releases. Adding more programming and synth sounds this time around, Stories To Tell did not suffer from rules and restrictions when it came to its instrumentation. Using orchestral accents and syncopated percussion alongside his soulful, impassioned vocals, the album introduces Barnes' fans to finely tuned and honestly crafted strong pop songs.

"The music is definitely poppy but everything is accounted for," he describes. "There are no rogue parts or instrumentation, everything is really fleshed out and that's what I was going for thankfully. Working with John, I knew he does what I wanted to do, which is make a little more of a pop record and get out of the self-imposed box I've been in for a while.”
The underlying theme of the new album is Barnes' stories to tell, most plucked from his personal life and experiences. Writing much of the album earlier this year after discovering that he and his wife were going to have their first baby, two songs directly inspired by the news are “Mine to Love” and “One of Us.” Another major theme of this album is enjoying the moment because life has unexpected twists. “White Flag” and “Heaven Help Me” reflect this sentiment.

An artist that has never adhered to a specific genre, Barnes’ music is generally inspired by an array of music influences ranging from rock, pop and country to blues, soul and R&B. “Stories To Tell is another bookmark," adds Barnes.
"For me, that's why I love making records; not because I was going for a specific sound but I was trying to encompass everything that I was listening to and enjoying at that time in my life. It is like a fun kind of musical history, like a photo album."
With his multi-format hit, "God Gave Me You," the single peaked at #3 at Christian Top 40, as well as Top 10 on Christian AC and Top 20 on Mainstream AC. Making a solid mark within Christian radio, "Mine To Love" will be the first song from Stories to Tell to impact Christian radio, releasing Feb. 3.  

Stories To Tell track list:
1.  White Flag
2.  How Long
3.  Mine To Love
4.  Heaven Help Me
5.  Love Will Be Enough For Us
6.  Seventeen
7.  Missing You
8.  Find Your Way Home
9.  Stories To Tell
10. Warm Heart In A Cold World 
11. One Of Us