Friday, July 31, 2009

Premier Folk Festival Turns 50

It's all about Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and co. I caught a few songs from the Pete Seeger birthday celebration on PBS last night. I've never seen Pete live, but he exudes happiness. Here is a guy who has held on to his convictions and it hasn't made life easy for him, but it's obvious he's happy with himself. Like Paul McCartney, he seems to find so much joy in the music and it can't help but be infectious.

Pete and Joan will be part of this years George Wein's Folk Festival 50 (legal issues prevent him from using the Newport Folk Festival name), which is celebrating it's 50th year and starts tomorrow. Joan talks about being a shy 18 year old and walking on stage in front of more people than she had ever seen. George Wein who created the Newport Jazz Festival as well as the Newport Folk Festival is still at the helm. (Vanity Fair has a Q&A with George.) Each performer, no matter who they were, received $50 for their performance in that first festival. This year's festival is rounded out with newer artists such as the Decemberists, Tift Merritt, Deer Tick, Neko Case and Iron & Wine. For more info, check out the festival's offical site.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh Crap! My Parents Joined Facebook was started by my friend Jack Leitenberg's entrepreneurial daughter Jeanne Leitenberg and her friend Erika Brooks Adickman. The site's byline fills you in on it's content: CONGRATULATIONS! YOUR PARENTS JUST JOINED FACEBOOK. YOUR LIFE IS OFFICIALLY OVER. It also states in a smaller font that they love their parents.

Jack is a longtime artist manager who works with the wonderfully witty and talented musician Jim Boggia. Jim does use Facebook to stay in touch with his fans. Jack's wife/Jeanne's Mom is Marion Orr. She is the longtime manager of the jazz great Bob James. They also work with jazzmen Richard Bona (he's got a new record coming out this fall) and Lionel Loueke (he's performing at the Litchfield Jazz Festival on 8/2). They do not use Facebook.

Jack was curious about Facebook and his kids jumped in and hooked him up. Jack rarely posts, he's "more of a voyeur". Facebook has it's family benefits as Jack says "I can see and read about all that she does as she posts, pix, etc." The impetus for the site came about when Jack merely altered one thing on his profile which unleashed a flurry of comments. "I changed my status to married and received so many mazel tovs and congratulations for getting married (Jack's been married to Marion for years-that hasn't changed). I did not realize that when I changed the status it went out to all my friends." Thus the website was born and kids and parents are both figuring out the meeting of the generations on Facebook.

Time Magazine has a nice piece on the site.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Apple Seving Up Cocktails

Much is being said about the Financial Times article on Cocktail, the code word for a new offering from Apple's iTunes. Rumored to be launching at Christmastime, it's said that this digital package would be bring consumers back to the days of album liner notes, lyrics and photos, which would all be included with an album download as well as others goodies such as videos. Deals are allegedly in place with the four major labels.

This may appeal to those over 35. I'm not sure that it has the allure to jump start a whole sector of people to start paying for music. There are a number of articles and polls that state younger people have no attachment to physical things.

Spotify is getting reach to launch in the US. It's been successful in the UK. It allows users free streaming of millions of songs and the ability to create playlists. The Spotify team has an app that is awaiting approval from Apple. It will be interesting to see if Apple approves it. Spotify would compete with iTunes and is free, although Spotify offers a paid subscription service without the ads.

The tech generation has never seen liner notes, so why would there be a need to have them now? Owning a video probably has no value as it can be viewed somewhere on the net. In the 80's kids wanted their MTV, in the 00's will they want their Cocktail?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Losers and Freaks -Brandi Shearer

It's been a long time coming, but Brandi Shearer has a new record Love Don't Make You Juliet. It comes out on Sept 1. For those in SF, she'll be at Cafe du Nord that night to celebrate the release. The first single is Losers and Freaks and Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive stream up now. The album was produced by Craig Street. Enjoy it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gordon of Peter and Gordon Dies

Last week, Gordon Waller, half of the sixties singing duo, Peter and Gordon died in CT from cardiac arrest. Best known for the Paul McCartney penned hit, "World Without Love", the duo had reunited for a few days last year including a free show at the Santa Monica Pier. I remember seeing them on every TV show in the mid-60's. Music on TV was a lot more prevalent then. Between variety shows, music-centric shows like Where The Action Is and even half our serials like Batman, (they had an appearance from the other British duo Chad & Jeremy), there was always music to be seen and heard. Peter Asher continued his successful career as a record producer and manager. RIP.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

McCartney at Citi Field

I can't comment on the show. I wasn't there, but the people that were, told me it was a fun show. Paul McCartney has managed to do something a lot of rockers (both old and young) haven't, enjoy the music, play it like it was just released yesterday and celebrate the audience. There is always a smile on that guy's face. Seeing him on Letterman, it was evident how much pleasure he gets in performing. Sure it's great to earn all that money on the road, but I believe he loves what he does.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step For Man

If there is doubt in anybody's mind of the significance of 1969, take a look at the timeline in the NY Times. There was something for everyone. In the arts Led Zeppelin releases their debut record, thousands attend Woodstock, the first Godfather film is in theaters, The Brady Bunch begins a 5 year run on ABC and Monty Python's Flying Circus hits the BBC. Politically Golda Meir becomes Prime Minister of Isreal, Nixon is sworn in, the Chicago 8 go on trial and Ted Kennedy drives off the bridge at Chappaquidick. It was a banner year in sports especially for New Yorkers: The Mets, Jets and Knicks were all champions. Check out Art Shamsky's book, The Magnificent Seasons, which recalls the year through the words of the players who were part of it. Space exploration was at it's peak. The Apollo series continued with 9 and 10 and most famous of the launches, Appollo 11. It's 40 years ago that Neil Armstrong was the first person to land on the moon. I remember watching it on our black and white Zenith TV. Mort Roghanchi recently recalled his experience of viewing that landing as a teen in Tehran, Iran.

July is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 Landing on Moon. I was a 12 year old boy living in one of the poorest parts of Tehran/Iran. I can still smell the raw sewage flowing in the alleyway where we lived. We were the only people in the neighborhood with a TV. A black and white, German made TV called Grundig!!! It was around 3am. The whole town was lit and everyone in the neighborhood was at my house. We were all waiting to see the live pictures of the landing! The adults, I remember started praying for the safe landing and thank god for us Muslims praying, it did land safely!!! My uncle in the room said "This is all lies fabricated by the Americans and it says in the holy book (Koran) that it takes 30 years to go to the moon with a flying horse!!" Where in Koran it says that I am not sure, but they made to moon in less than two days!! I so vividly remember Mr. Armstrong climbing down the ladder with his left foot still on the ladder, bringing his right foot down to test the ground on the Moon to make sure he wasn’t going to sink!! Six weeks later I met the astronauts in Baharestan Square when they toured the world. They all were riding in a convertible with a police escort. I shook Mr. Armstrong's hand and followed the convoy before I was warned by the police to stay away! By that time Edwin Buzz Aldrin realized I was following the convoy, and he reached out and pat my head!! I will never forget this!!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

U2 from Apples to Blackberrys

U2 has just switched fruits. From a band that so clearly aligned themselves with Apple (ads, a personalized iPod), they are now part of the Blackberry machine. The first teaser ad has appeared. Don't expect it to look like an Apple ad. Maybe they should change the name of the song to I Will Follow Wherever the Money Is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Is Warner Bros Records Thinking?

In an effort to either plug a hole in a sinking ship or just sink the ship and put it out of it's misery, Warner Bros Records has given gossip man, Perez Hilton his own label. To qualify his qualifications for running a label, Perez states in EW, "I have an ear, which is really important in the music world -- to be able to hear a hit and to be able to know who has a good song or not… I'm more than just an A&R person. I'm also a marketing person. I'm also a manager."

Maybe he does have his finger on the pulse, but my first impression is this demeans all those talented music industry people who are out of work or changed careers because they couldn't do the job they were suppose to do. So many of them have an "ear". I know these people didn't have a website with thousands of hits a day to promote an artist, but that is not what it takes to have a hit. If it was, Paris Hilton would be a huge recording star.

Another head scratching move coming out of music land.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sheryl Crow is Ubiquitous

She does a lot of charity work. I'm starting with that. Why is Sheryl Crow ubiquitous? She is at everything. Today I got an email from announcing the All Star Charity Concert. Before I clicked on the link to see who was performing, I said to myself I bet it's Sheryl Crow. The recipient of the concert is Stand Up To Cancer. Sheryl is a cancer survivor, so this makes sense. Sheryl sang on an airplane to launch a new airline. She's performed at the 4th of the July Fireworks show on NBC. She appeared in a Revlon ad. The list goes on. I've heard it said that Sheryl Crow will go to the opening of an envelope. I think she's a great songwriter but it might overshadowed by her omnipresence.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Cancelled My Sirius Subscription

After months of contemplating canceling Sirius, I finally did it.
Reasons for doing so:
  • Reception has not improved since I've had the service, which was close to 4 years. In a one hour time frame, I would have a minimum of 3 reception interruptions.
  • My two favorite channels: Disorder and Jazz were axed. They kept the XM jazz channel which leans middle of the road jazz.
  • I was solely listening to Howard Stern and he's into the second week of his vacation. I will miss Howard, but for the 3 hours a week I got to listen, it wasn't worth it. At least they got over focusing non-stop on Artie's addiction problem.

Sirius raised their rates this month and took away Internet access. There is an additional fee for that service now. I've read that people who tried to cancel had their subscription had it extended for a few month gratis. I was not offered that, but was asked why I was canceling.

It was a great idea when it launched, but like most things music industry, it lost its focus or became too focused, rendering it useless.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Allen Klein Dies

Business manager, accountant and music executive Allen Klein died in Manhattan yesterday. He was encouraged by Don Kirshner to get into the music business. He worked with The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke and the Beatles. Combining tough New Jersey street smarts and tenacity, he was able to negotiate better than average royalty deals for his clients. John Belushi famously and fictionally portrayed Allen as Ron Decline in the The Rutles, All You Need Is Cash.