Friday, January 30, 2009
People Got A Lot Of Nerve from Neko Case's March 3rd release Middle Cyclone is a free download.
What makes this different is that for every blog that posts the download, $5 will be donated to Best Friend Animal Society. $1 will be donated for every user of iLike that adds the song to his/her profile. It's a twofer benefit: it's helping out furry friends and giving your ears a treat. Not only is the song free, it's also good. This offer is only good from January 13 to February 3, 2009. If you have a blog or an iLike account, add the link, help an animal.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Everybody seems to be writing about it, so this commercial was effective.
Now it has spawned a whole new YouTube industry. Isolate the vocals from one of your favorite songs say David Lee Roth's in Running With the Devil and play it back to Songsmith. What you get is a lounge version of Van Halen. Oasis' Wonderwall is a techno mess. Listen for 5 seconds and you must stop it or it will drive you mad. Looking for country-lounge? Creep by Radiohead is your track. One thing this proves: you can have all the toys and gadgets in the world, but without creativity and talent, it just doesn't work.
Radiohead - Creep
Oasis - Wonderwall
Van Halen - Running With The Devil
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The most interesting has to be this promotion video for staying in school and getting good grades starring Jim Morrison.
The Monkees and Bugs Bunny told us how to make friends with Kool-Aid.
The Jackson 5 taught us how to spell with Alpha Bits cereal.
Musical acts have been doing endorsements since the beginning of pop music. Today's pop acts will have a greater chance of getting noticed by endorsing candy than by hoping radio will play their latest single. The more things change, the more they repeat history.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
She was an early champion of David Bowie. Her writing is still fresh and her suggestions in a 1972 New York Sunday News piece, are very valid today. The subject of how "primitive by-products (we now think of it as merchandise) of the rock business are" comes up in a conversation with Bowie. Who knew Columbia Records put out a Sly Stone doll? Lillian mentions she would buy a David Bowie doll that comes with a few costume changes. Bowie was still unknown in the States and Ziggy Stardust was about to come out. Here is the tell tale sign that Bowie will be around for awhile:
In England, where he is incredibly popular (he's still just an in-group cult figure here but wait till "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" LP takes off) fans have already designed Ziggy Stardust stationery for themselves.
Isn't that what it's all about? Fans creating their own merchandise? She notes that most rock stars look like dolls and wouldn't you rather have a well-made doll than a poster with a bad enlargement of a photo? She offers advice for a hurting garment industry: Get the musician involved not only with the design of the clothes, but the design of the store also. "Buying and selling is a part of our everyday reality", she quips, so why can't musicians sell wares associated with them. She closes the article with "I'm not kidding, if its good enough for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, why not Ziggy Stardust, Ruby Tuesday, Eleanor Rigby and the rest of the gang?". Why not indeed. The bottom line is that if it's a quality product and it's true to who the musician is, it makes sense.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Much has been said/printed about Michelle Obama's dress. Not so much has been said about the dancing. Barack and Michelle didn't exactly cut a rug at any of the balls I saw. They could have been tired after an exciting and hectic day. With the adrenaline going, I think it's more a product of my/our generation. We don't know how to dance with a partner. If Heaven 17's Let Me Go is spun by a DJ, I'll be the first one on the dance floor. If it's In The Mood, I can fake something, but I'm just posing. My husband and I took dance lessons about 8 years ago, after realizing we didn't know a Foxtrot from a Waltz. We were determined to learn how to dance together. Turned out there were a lot of singles in the class and they made us dance with different partners, thus mission not accomplished. Michelle leaned on Barack to Etta James' At Last. (We heard the recording and Beyonce's version. Why didn't we see Etta singing it live?) At one point, it might have been during Stevie Wonder's sing-a-long of Sign Sealed Delivered, it looked like Barack was doing the White Man's Overbite. The latter which was so wonderfully demonstrated by Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. We are the end of the Boomer generation and maybe the end of partner dancing.
Friday, January 23, 2009
On Wednesday I saw Pal Joey at Studio 54. The women steal the show in this production. Martha Plimpton who normally plays the part of Gladys, the night club performer, was not in the performance I saw. Stockard Channing is one of the most solid theater performers. She either chooses her roles well, or can make any role work. As the rich and bored Mrs Simpson, she plays the part with both charm, aloofness and vulnerability. She also looks stunning in William Ivey Long’s gowns. She also has the distinction of singing the musical's most heralded song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered to her sleeping boy toy, the lounge lizard, Joey Evans. Stockard's voice while not powerful is just right to convey Mrs Simpson's laments. In What Is a Man? she sighs “They’re all alike/They’re all I like."
Joey jumps from town to town to prey on whoever will help him further his career. In this case, he is able to seduce Mrs Simpson into buying a night club and letting him mooch off her. She doesn't exactly see it that way at first. He also has been toying with the emotions of new-to-town, shop girl Linda English, played by Jenny Fellner. Her voice is beautiful and a perfect fit for the girl who may be more savvy than Joey will give her credit for. Her duet with Channing on "Take Him" is both charming and empowering for the women. They both realize he's a cad, but somehow they've been sucked in. Not exactly a new plot line, but with the right actresses, it's fresh again.
Richard Greenberg, who wrote the wonderful Take Me Out, adapted the original book and it has his stamp on it. He brings out the dark side of Chicago, while not making it bleak.
It's worth mentioning the dream scene, where Joey imagines his new night club, Chez Joey. There is a mighty white and chrome staircase and showgirls wearing enormous flower headdresses (I'm partial to the lily) descend the stage. I'm not sure if you are getting the same mental picture, but all I could think about was that similar scene from I Love Lucy. These women pulled it off with grace and didn't topple. I had to smile.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The actor - who played Gollum in the fantasy trilogy and King Kong in the recent big screen remake - has confirmed he is learning his lines and preparing for filming to start in April.
Serkis tells Cinema Blend, "I'm actually doing a film about the life of Ian Dury ... He's an amazing character, a real poet ... And he was a polio sufferer, so he basically didn't have much use of his left leg or his left arm. He was one of the first disabled punk rockers ever. I'm really looking forward to that".
It's not the first biopic the Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick rocker has inspired - a musical, Hit Me: The Life And Rhymes Of Ian Dury, is currently running in London.
Dury died in 2000 at the age of 57.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
It was winter. I was wearing heels. The only way to get around was to walk or run. The roads were like parking lots which meant taxis were not an option. It seemed like every walkway was made of cobble stones (it just seems that way when you're in heels). Will Botwin, Ken Levitan and myself made our way to three balls that night making sure that we didn't miss any of the acts we managed: Los Lobos, Rosanne Cash and Lyle Lovett. The logistic were harrowing. The excitement cannot be recreated. To a lesser degree than today, there was a high level of hope for the new President.
We seemed to arrive at every ball, just as Al and Tipper Gore were also arriving. At each ball, they would stop whoever was playing, from the speakers would come Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al and then Al and Tipper would dance. I was so sick of that song by the end of the day. One of the balls was in Air and Space Museum. Having free reign of the place during soundcheck was amazing. Yes, we all had our photos taken on the Star Trek set. At another ball, Rosanne introduced me to her dad and step mom (do I need to point out they were Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash?).
There has been much written about how smooth and together the Obama transition has been as opposed to Clinton, who still had not filled out his cabinet by inauguration day. I can relate this to the scheduling of the balls. According to the NY Times guide to the inauguration, of the 10 balls that are happening tonight, 6 are in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This would make it so much easier for Obama and Biden and those managers who have multiple acts playing. I heard on the news that the performers that played on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, paid for their own expenses. I'm not sure if that pertains to the balls also. In 1992, the artists donated their time, but the expenses were covered. The excitement and energy are truly unforgettable and I can understand why people travelled thousands of miles to be there today.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Singing in 20 degree weather can't be easy. Yesterday musicians paid tribute to Barack Obama by performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It's a dramatic and inspiring backdrop. Many of the songs were performed with a choir. Springsteen with acoustic guitar and choir behind him delivered a poignant version of The Rising. John Mellencamp and choir belted out a rousing version of Pink Houses. The only full band performance came from U2. They paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr with In The Name of Love and followed it up with City Of Blinding Lights.
The ladies really rocked the show. They out rocked the guys.
- Mary J Blige's cover of Lean On Me took on steam as the song progressed.
- Renee Fleming powerfully interpreted Roger's and Hammerstein's You'll Never Walk Alone.
- I was very exited to see Heather Headley perform with Josh Grobman. She has one of the best voices and she hadn't been on my radar lately. Their duet was a beautiful interpretation of My Country Tis of Thee.
- Bettye LaVette proves that she just keeps getting better. She blew me away with her rendition of Love Reign O’er Me at the Kennedy Center Honors last month and continued to do so yesterday with her performance of A Change Is Gonna Come. Jon Bon Jovi sang with her.
- Beyonce closed the show with America The Beautiful with the days performers joining her on stage for the last verse.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
We've never actually met before, but I feel like I have read hundreds of your emails over the years and they were all forwarded to me by my father, Gary Kurfirst. I know he agreed with a lot of what you had to say about the music business and he admired your writing abilities and passion for music. I'm writing to let you know that Gary (aka email@example.com) passed away yesterday. It all happened very sudden, the details of which do not matter, bottom line is he was way too young. I'm not sure why I am reaching out to you, but I feel like I need to make sure that my dad's accomplishment in the music business are recognized and you have a lot of people's attention. He was a true music pioneer, an ole gunslinger back when the music business was like the wild, wild west and crafty kid from Forest Hills, Queens could carve out a living promoting (and later managing) cutting edge acts not because they were popular, but because they were different. I actually got to work with him for most of my adult life. He taught me about the importance of artist development, building the brand and finding acts that did not fit the mold but rather broke it. He believed in artistry and did not sign acts because they sounded like "so and so," he signed acts that were an extension of his creative being, ones that tested the boundaries of modern music and would change the face of music forever. He was not a musician, or music historian and would readily admit that he knew zero about music in general. However he understood how to identify, create and manage unique artists as good as any human being on the planet over the last 40 years. He always stuck to his guns. Didn't care what other people thought and believed passionately that over time the cream always rises to the top. Sometimes that rise took years (see the Ramones & the Talking Heads) and something it happened almost instantly (see Live). My point is that my dad represented a lot of the good that has happened in music over the past 40 years. He started out as a pioneer and morphed into an anomaly and at the end of it all I'm very proud to be his son and only wish that my two boys (Gary's only grandchildren - Lucas 5 & Landon 13 months) got a chance to know him like I did.
ps: Gary's work history can be found here: www.garykurfirst.com
pps: two stories have broke so far http://www.nme.com/news/talking-heads/42077 and one at www.hitsdailydouble.com
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
He loves being a dad to his youngest. He hangs out in the Hamptons in the summer so the paparazzi can invade his privacy. The Beatles were originally going to call Abbey Road, Everest. He gets along with Yoko. The biggest shock of the interview came from Robin Quivers, not Paul. She officially threw her hat in the ring and said she was available to date Paul. She cited being a vegan as a mutual bond. I think Paul thought Howard put her up to it.
Victor Spinetti performed his one man show, A Very Private Diary! at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts. His acting career has taken him from regional theater in his birth country of Wales to a Tony Award for Oh! What A Lovely War to the Return of the Pink Panther. He is probably most recognized in this country for his roles in A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Magical Myster Tour. His show recreates celebrity encounters from his illustrious career. Stories of Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Tallulah Bankhead, Warren Beatty and of course The Beatles are all conveyed in his eccentric, endearing manner. During the height of Beatlemania, Victor had a large fan club. While on route to the Bahamas with the Beatles to shoot Help!, the plane had a stop over at JFK airport to refuel. No one was going to leave the plane until an announcement was made asking for Victor Spinetti. They asked if he would please leave the plane to say hi to the hordes of fan looking for him. So he got out and waved to the crowd. Needless to say, The Beatles gave it to him when he got back on the plane.
He also recounted the visit by John and George to ask him to be in A Hard Days Night: George Harrison, said, "You've got to be in all our films ... if you're not in them me Mum won't come and see them--because she fancies you."
What I remember most about Victor was the amazing mohair sweater his character Richard, the TV director wore in A Hard Day's Night. Rosemary Flannery, being more pop culture aware than I am, found an interview in which he said the sweater was his own. So much for a wardrobe budget. The acting skills of Victor and the participants in A Hard Day's Night should not be overlooked, as it's a gem. The movie was improvised and apparently so was the wardrobe.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Mets have once again held the bar way too low. This is the inaugural stadium patch that will be on the Mets' uniforms this year. I could have done better with a Sharpie and piece of loose leaf paper. The web is aflutter with criticism, Yahoo compared it to the Domino's Pizza logo. The best thing to come out of this is The Sports Hernia's alternative versions of the logos that were rejected by the Mets. Follow the link and make sure you scroll to the bottom. Who designed this patch and how much were they paid?
- The NY Post reported rusty pipes and leaks coming from the front of Citifield.
- The stadium is now being referred to as Taxpayers Field as taxpayers money is bailing out Citigroup.
According to paidcontent.org here are the numbers:
Music remains the biggest-selling games genre and, according to NPD Group, brings in 16 percent of all gaming revenue. But music games overall saw a six percent drop in revenue despite some high-profile launches. Now with sales are slowing, revenue from extra tracks to play along to is of huge importance even though the cash is split with music publishers: at the cost of about $2 each, Guitar Hero players have bought 25 million tracks while Rock Band fans have paid for 30 million. Sales data for December is out on January 15 and will show how all the big titles did over Christmas.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Bob Lefsetz is referring to Elevation Partners investments in Palm and how Elevation is the only thing keeping Palm alive. This was spurred by Bob's review of an op-ed piece by Bono in the NY Times. The article is Bono's stream of consciousness writings on Frank Sinatra.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
- Michael Jackson believes he is dying from a genetic lung disease
- Is now confined to bed or a wheelchair
- According to his will, Paul McCartney would inherit his portion of the Beatles catalogue
- He is disheartened by his falling out with Paul.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
How is success measured? Malcolm Gladwell thinks we abuse the word "genius" and bestowing it on people is giving them too much credit. He believes (and goes on to credit his theory in his latest book: Outliers) there are many factors that are involved in a person's success and given the right cultural environment, work ethic, a sprinkle of fairy dust talent and date of birth, you have the advantages to succeed. He used numerous examples throughout the interview: Bill Gates, The Beatles, two Canadian hockey teams, KIPP Academy and J Robert Oppenheimer.
Robert Krulwich, host of Radiolab, interviewed him and was a perfect choice to challenge Gladwell on his theories. Their dialogue on the use and vocal emphasis of the word "love" was highly entertaining. Gladwell is the master of looking at a situation (he spoke passionately about the merit of Affirmative Action) and turning it upside down. He gets you thinking. It's been said there are two sides to every story and then there's the truth. We have Gladwell to show us the third side.
Ron Asheton a founding member of the The Stooges was found dead in his Ann Arbor home after an associate called police to say he had not been heard from in days. No official cause of dead has been announced. Foul play is not suspected. Ron along with his brother Scott, Iggy Pop and the deceased Dave Alexander released their first record in 1969. Ron's MySpace page is filled with fans thoughts and thanks.
Read his obit on NME's site.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
In today's NY Times:
The black-and-white concert footage of “Sweet Soul Music: Stax Live in Europe 1967,” to be shown Monday (tonight) at 8 p.m. on WLIW (Channel 21) in NY and nationwide on PBS in March, is a chance to see Stax’s soul men at their youthful peak. The tour lineup was Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd and Arthur Conley, backed by Booker T & the MGs and the Mar-Keys. The revue was videotaped for television on April 7, 1967, in Oslo. (The PBS special is a shorter version of a DVD, “Stax/Volt Revue: Live in Norway 1967,” which is available from the Stax Museum in Memphis, staxmuseum.org.)
“Philly Dog” - The Mar-Keys
“Green Onions” - Booker T. and the MG's
“Sweet Soul Music” - Arthur Conley
“You Don't Know Like I Know” - Sam and Dave
“Raise Your Hand” - Eddie Floyd
“Soothe Me” - Sam and Dave
“Hold On! I'm comin'” - Sam and Dave
“Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” - Otis Redding
“My Girl” - Otis Redding
“Shake” - Otis Redding
“(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” - Otis Redding
“Try A Little Tenderness” - Otis Redding
Friday, January 02, 2009
When You Wake Up and a beautiful version of Night Singing Bird which is also on her EP First Punch. You can download the tracks from the Daytrotter site. Interesting title to the piece: The Endearment Of An Ashen Animal.