Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Live from the Artists Den' announces 9th season lineup

Here is a media release that just landed in my inbox. Happy Holidays everybody...



Samsung's Milk Video and Milk Music to
Exclusively Broadcast Artists Den Mobile Versions with Each Episode Premiere

New York, NY (December 17, 2014) - Kicking off Friday, January 30, 2015 (check local listings), the ninth season of Live from the Artists Den premieres nationwide on public television with a rousing performance from three-time GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum artist Zac Brown Band at the historic Forest Hills Stadium in New York. The long-running, critically acclaimed concert series creatively connects fans with a stunning roster of icons and emerging stars performing in unique and historic venues across the United States. The new season also includes high definition episodes from powerhouse blues-rock band Alabama Shakes, chart-topping alternative rock band Cage the Elephant, and beloved Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice. Together, these four artists have sold over 12 million albums worldwide and compiled more than 250 million YouTube views, 10 million Facebook fans, and 3 million Twitter followers.

Live from the Artists Den is funded in partnership with Barnes & Noble, Citi, Lexus, and Samsung to create free secret shows throughout the year and bring Artists Den performances to millions of eager music fans around the world. To sign up for 2015 secret shows and content releases, please visit

For the first time available via mobile services, Samsung's Milk VideoTM will broadcast mobile versions of these Artists Den episodes each week, while Samsung's Milk MusicTM will launch live audio tracks from each episode as part of its newly created Artists Den Live Music station. The Artists Den continues to expand its global fan community, and its exclusive availability on Samsung's Milk services will extend access to millions of new viewers.

For Zac Brown Band, the opportunity to perform at the Forest Hills Stadium in New York - where The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Who, and many other legendary artists performed in the 1960s and 1970s - was a special experience. "It's always intriguing to be in New York," Zac Brown said. "It's exciting to be part of the heritage of what actually went down here."

The Alabama Shakes' performance in a barn attached to Nashville's iconic Loveless Café was a first for the critically acclaimed young band. "We've never played in a barn before," frontwoman Brittany Howard said in an interview that will be included in the band's episode. "It's nice to play somewhere like this, because it's got a little more character and a little more flavor than some sort of new venue."

Live from the Artists Den is a production of Artists Den Entertainment, presented by WLIW LLC in association with WNET, and is distributed nationally by American Public Television. The series is filmed in 1080 high-definition and audio is recorded using Apogee's custom Symphony I/O 64 channel multi-track system for extraordinary sound fidelity.


Zac Brown Band 
at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY

The GRAMMY Award-winning Zac Brown Band brings music back to the historic Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY, with a hit-filled performance under the stars. Incorporating a mix of country, bluegrass, reggae, Southern rock, and jam music into its performance, the set includes such fan favorites as "Jump Right In," "Colder Weather," "Free," and "Day For The Dead" from the 2013 EP, The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1.

Alabama Shakes at the Loveless Barn in Nashville, TN

Alabama Shakes deliver a crushingly electric set at the rustic-chic Loveless Barn behind Nashville's famous Loveless Cafe. Beneath white lights strung from the rafters, the six-piece band dash through blistering rockabilly boogies and eruptive country-soul ballads from both their 2012 debut album, Boys & Girls, and the collection of new material earmarked for the band's much-anticipated follow-up.

Cage the Elephant at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry in Santa Barbara, CA

Cage the Elephant bring their soulfully psychedelic sound to the Santa Barbara Art Foundry. Thriving off the energy of the crowd, the band tears though a set drawn mostly from their current album Melophobia - which just received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album - before ending the night with a shirtless Matt Shultz held aloft by the cheering crowd, a triumphant exclamation point to an unforgettable performance.

Damien Rice at the Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn, NY

Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice delivers an unforgettable performance at the Greenpoint Loft, a 19th-century warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront. Concentrating largely on material from his acclaimed new album My Favorite Faded Fantasy - Rice's first in eight years - the heartrending set was performed solo before Rice thrilled fans with a full backing choir on his uplifting new song "Trusty and True."

About the Artists Den
Live from the Artists Den is a three-time New York Emmy®-nominated music television series that features popular recording artists performing in non-traditional settings throughout North America. Live from the Artists Den broadcasts nationally on public television and internationally in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and Latin America.
Featured artists have included Adele, Mumford & Sons, Norah Jones, Robert Plant,
The National, Elvis Costello, Tim McGraw, Ringo Starr, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, and Death Cab for Cutie. Featured venues have included Graceland, the first art museum in America, a Masonic temple, a former Archdiocese cathedral, a 1930s silent movie theater, the world's oldest merchant sailing vessel, the New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A full listing of previously featured artists, TV episodes, and venues can be viewed at

About WNET
As New York's flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN andWLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as NatureGreat PerformancesAmerican MastersPBS NewsHour Weekend,Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the MathOh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTSReel 13NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi- platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.

About APT
American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation's public television stations since 1961. In 2014, APT distributed one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U. S. Among its 300 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children's series and classic movies. America's Test Kitchen From Cook's Illustrated, Rick Steves' Europe, Live From the Artists Den, Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Midsomer Murders, NHK Newsline, Lidia's Kitchen, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, BBC World News and P. Allen Smith's Garden Home join numerous documentaries and performance programs popular with public television viewers. APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Entering its 10th year, Create® TV - featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming - is distributed by APT. APT also distributes WORLDTM, public television's premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT's programs and services, visit

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces class of 2015

Ringo Starr performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl on
July 12, 2014. Photo: Robert Kinsler
It's about time! Ringo Starr is finally going to join his fellow Fab Four mates in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While Starr was previously inducted as a member of The Beatles, he will now be inducted for his stellar solo career too.

The Cleveland-based Rock Hall announced the class of 2015 this morning. In addition to Starr, who is receiving a special Award for Excellence, the other inductees include rocker Joan Jett, Bill WithersStevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Lou Reed, Green Day, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Those six artists were selected from a list of 15 nominees. Sadly not getting into the Rock Hall next spring are The Smiths, a band I consider to be one of the most influential groups to emerge in the 1980s. N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails and Chic also didn't make the cut.

The upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The event is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased beginning at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Dec. 18, 2014. This will be the 30th induction ceremony.


Reviews Hozier and Big Star

listen to more and get Hozier here

Get #1 Record here

Get Radio City Here

Get Live in Memphis here

Monday, December 15, 2014

Waterboys set to return with 'Modern Blues'

The Waterboys are on my short list of great bands I've yet to ever catch in concert. Here is breaking news on the band's forthcoming album (set for release next month). 

The Waterboys set to return with Modern Blues on Jan. 20, 2015

December 15, 2014 – The Waterboys will release a brand new album next month titled: Modern Blues via Kobalt on January 20, 2015.  The album is a first for the band, as it’s the first release fully recorded in Nashville, Tennessee by the group.  Produced by Waterboys leader Mike Scott and mixed by Bob ClearmountainModern Blues, the band’s eleventh studio album, contains nine freewheeling rock and roll songs with a southern soul edge, evoking the very best of The Waterboys past work while forging forth to explore new ground. 
A new song from the forthcoming album: “Beautiful Now” makes its debut today at and can be heard here:
Modern Blues is now available for pre order here: Everyone who pre-orders the album now will get three tracks immediately: "Beautiful Now," "November Tale," "Destinies Entwined."
Mike Scott entered the studio intent on harnessing the rolling, spontaneous energy that fuelled some of The Waterboys greatest albums. “I set out to make a record with an ensemble playing live, to get that performance spirit. It’s how I recorded Fisherman’s Blues.”  To that end, he corralled old hands and new friends. Ralph Salmins, a mainstay on drums for the past four years, appears alongside Scott and talismanic Waterboy Steve Wickham, who weaves a dizzying fuzz fiddle spell on several tracks of Modern Blues.
Fresh to the ranks of the group are Memphis keyboard player “Brother” Paul Brown, and David Hood, legendary bassist from the heyday of FAME studios and Muscle Shoals.
Asked why he chose to record in Nashville, Scott (who lives mostly in Dublin) explained, “Nashville has a reputation as Music City, USA and I fancied some of that. It’s one of the few cities that still has a recording studio industry intact, which brings the spur of competition. I know that across town Jack White's making a record, The Black Keys are making theirs.  I like that competitive feeling, it’s exciting. It's a spur.”
In true Waterboys’ style, a spirit of exploration defines the album. Few bands have changed as much as this one. Formed in 1983, on their first three albums The Waterboys sculpted a layered post-punk sound, culminating in 1985’s sky-scraping This is the Sea. Since then the music has never ceased to evolve, from the hugely influential mix of Celtic folk, gospel, country and rock on the classic Fisherman’s Blues, to the New York guitar sounds of Dream Harder,the agitated millennial sonic exploration of A Rock in the Weary Land, and the fired-up poetic passion of 2011’s An Appointment with Mr. Yeates.  In 2013 the band embarked an extensive North American tour with over 40 dates.
A North American tour is in the works for The Waterboys in the spring of 2015 with details to be announced very shortly.
Modern Blues Track Listing
Destinies Entwined
November Tale
Still A Freak
I Can See Elvis
The Girl Who Slept For Scotland
Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy)
Beautiful Now
Nearest Thing To Hip
Long Strange Golden Road
Listen To “Beautiful Now” Here:
Album Available For Pre Order Today

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Ken Weatherwax, Chrissie Hynde, John Lennon, Paul McCartney

Lots of news to share, so I'll get to it...

Actor Ken Weatherwax, who played "Pugsley" on TV's original Addams Family, has died at age 59. Read the Hollywood Reporter story on his death here.

While I was covering America perform at The Coach House on Saturday night, music writer George A. Paul was covering Chrissie Hynde's concert at the Pantages in Los Angeles. Read his review on his Music Minded site here.

Yesterday (Dec. 8, 2014) marked the 34th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. Watch a new video where Paul McCartney appeared on "The Jonathan Ross Show" and reflects on the death of his close friend.

I still have not heard the ambitious tribute The Art of McCartney, but I did read L.A. Times writer Randy Lewis' review of the collection with interest. You can read it here. You can watch The Cure (assisted by Sir Paul's son James McCartney) perform "Hello Goodbye" below:

Monday, December 08, 2014

Peter Pan Live! coming to DVD, CD on Dec. 16, 2014

Whether you missed the live broadcast of Peter Pan Live! on NBC-TV earlier this month, or want to experience it again, here is some exciting news for fans of the event...

From Universal Pictures Home Entertainment: Peter Pan Live!


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Dec. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Bring home the magic and adventure of NBC's all-new production of Peter Pan Live! on DVD Dec. 16, 2014 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Following the success of 2013's The Sound of Music Live!, NBC's exciting three-hour production of Peter Pan Live! is an extraordinary and contemporary live television event of the beloved Broadway musical Peter Pan. Starring Academy Award winner Christopher Walken (Hairspray), Allison Williams (HBO's Girls), Tony Award winner Christian Borle (The Sound of Music Live!), Kelli O'Hara (Broadway's South Pacific) and Minnie Driver (Phantom of the Opera), this musical masterpiece, filmed and broadcast live from New York, features show-stopping performances, stunning costumes, extravagant sets, enchanting music and touch of fairy dust that will have everyone in your home singing along. 

From Academy Award-winning executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (The Sound of Music Live!ChicagoHairspray), Peter Pan Live! is available Dec. 16, 2014, on DVD and as a DVD+CD Soundtrack Gift Set, which includes the CD soundtrack recorded by the cast, just in time for the holidays! Both the DVD and DVD+CD gift set also include the special documentary The Making of Peter Pan Live! as seen on NBC, which gives fans an inside look at the creation of this season's biggest holiday event. Peter Pan Live! is adapted from J.M. Barrie's classic tale and features the iconic songs of the 1954 original Broadway production, including "I'm Flying," "I Won't Grow Up," and "Never Never Land," PLUS brand new songs penned by Amanda Green, songwriter and daughter of Peter Pan's original lyricist, to create a truly new and memorable musical event.
Bonus Features
  • The Making of PETER PAN LIVE! – An exciting backstage look at the creation of an all-new production of the classic Broadway musical from rehearsals through performance.
SYNOPSISFly into adventure as NBC presents a bold new production of the classic Broadway musical that has delighted audiences for generations.
Filmed and broadcast live from New York, this wondrous adaptation of the original Broadway musical tells the beloved story of Peter Pan (Allison Williams, HBO's Girls), a mischievous boy who ran away to have adventures in Neverland and never grow up! This family classic from the producers of ChicagoHairspray, and Footloose features Academy Award winner Christopher Walken as Captain Hook and unforgettable songs, including "I'm Flying," "I Won't Grow Up," and "Never Never Land" that will have everyone singing along for years to come!
CAST AND FILMMAKERS:Cast: Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle, Minnie Driver, Kelli O'Hara, Taylor Louderman, Alanna Saunders, Jake Lucas and John Allyn
Directed by: Glenn Weiss and Rob Ashford
Music by: Mark "Moose" Charlap and Jule Styne
Lyrics by: Carolyn Lee, Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Book of Stage Play by: J.M. Barrie
Executive Producers: Neil Meron and Craig Zadan
TECHNICAL INFORMATION – DVDStreet Date: December 16, 2014 (US)/ December 23, 2014 (Canada)
Copyright: 2014 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Selection Numbers:
-          DVD: 61165289 (US)/ 61165402 (Canada)
-          DVD+CD Soundtrack: 61168852 (US)
Running Time: Approx. 2 Hours 15 Mins
Layers: Dual
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Rating: Not Rated
Technical Info: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: N/A
The movie's official website is
About Universal Pictures Home EntertainmentUniversal Pictures Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

America delivers the goods at the Coach House

My review originally ran on The Orange County Register Web site on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. A special thank you to Kelly A. Swift for the use of her outstanding photos!

Dewey Bunnell, left, and Gerry Beckley of America perform at the Coach House on Saturday.

America delivers the goods at the Coach House

The ’70s hit makers’ dynamic set shows why their music continues to resonate.

While it seems unlikely that America will be given a place in the Rock and Roll of Fame anytime soon, there is something to be said for a band that has scored a number of enduring hits, won a best new artist Grammy Award, worked with producer George Martin and influenced several generations of other musicians.
Performing in front of a capacity crowd at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night (Dec. 6, 2014), the ’70s hit makers proved that while several musical generations have passed since their 1971 debut introduced the world to “A Horse With No Name” and “I Need You,” the group’s mix of folk, rock and pop continues to resound, thanks as much to the strength of good songwriting as bona fide nostalgia.
From the concert’s spirited folk rock opener, “Tin Man,” through a mix of hits and Christmas offerings from the group’s “Holiday Harmony” collection, founding members singer-guitarist Dewey Bunnell and singer/multi-instrumentalist Gerry Beckley, along with their terrific three-man band simply nailed it.
Ryland Steen on Dec. 6, 2014.
Sure, acoustic folk rock hits such as “Ventura Highway” and “You Can Do Magic” sounded great, but America also was able to rock with unexpected power on occasion, bringing welcome dynamics to its 90-minute set. A true highlight of the night was a performance of “Cornwall Blank/Hollywood,” which recalled some of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s best works. Lush three-part harmonies shimmered in the opening section before the medley roared to life as a full-blown rocker showcasing virtuoso lead guitarist Bill Worrell and drummer Ryland Steen (who has played with Orange County’s Suburban Legends and Reel Big Fish). “That was dangerously close to jamming,” Beckley joked after the song ended.
America rocked with that same fire a few songs later with a rendition of “Green Monkey,” including a three-guitar attack bolstering the inviting psychedelic rocker.
The concert was a fast-moving affair, and a well-known cover or original hit was never far away. An artful cover of the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” a wistful take on “Lonely People,” and a shining “Sister Golden Hair” were among the highlights of the concert’s last half.
America’s encore included “A Horse With No Name.” Bunnell’s strong vocals filled it with authentic melancholy. The night ended with a festive country-tinged version of the Johnny Marks-penned holiday favorite “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” an apt selection, given that this December night proved to be an early gift for those able to score a seat for this memorable concert.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Sights & Sounds: Vonda Shepard launches Kickstarter campaign to fund new album; Richie Sambora & Orianthi coming to TV

Happy Friday everybody. Here are the latest news items of note to land in my inbox! Fans of talented singer-songwriter-keyboardist Vonda Shepard will want to participate in her forthcoming Kickstarter effort. And there is also news about a special television special featuring a performance on "Happy Xmas/War is Over" on the anniversary of John Lennon's tragic murder on Dec. 8, 1980...

Vonda Shepard Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Fund New Album
Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician turns to fans to raise funds to produce new record

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. (December 5, 2014) – Kicking off on December 8, singer/songwriter Vonda Shepard, turns to fans and followers to help raise the funds to record her fourteenth album through Kickstarter. Most people know Shepard as the musical voice and bar singer in every episode of Ally McBeal as well as the behind the scenes producer for artists such as Gladys Knight, Sting, Barry Manilow, Al Green, Chubby Checker and Jon Bon Jovi. Recently Shepard performed in the revival of Randy Newman’s “Faust: The Concert,” starring Randy Newman, and garnered rave reviews from top critics. “Ms. Shepard’s soulful singing brought out the yearning quality in Mr. Newman’s own,” said Charles Isherwood of the New York Times. David Gordon from Theater Mania stated, “And in one of the year’s great stage moments to date, Newman and multi-Emmy and Grammy winner Shepard brought down the house in the second act with the gorgeous duet, ‘Feels Like Home.’”

From private house concerts to signed platinum records, Shepard has created rewards for those who support, including nostalgic memorabilia and once in a lifetime experiences. This holiday season, Shepard is setting out to raise $35,000 to cover the costs of production. If the campaign exceeds that goal, the funds will go towards adding real strings, horns and other production to the recordings as well as marketing and promotion efforts for the album once released. The campaign kicks off December 8 and will last a month, ending on January 5.

“I have been writing songs for this album for several years now, and I am really excited to share these with my friends and fans,” said Shepard. “The material for the album is comprised of two very diverse styles with half of the songs having a strong emphasis on upbeat, funky dance tunes and the other half focusing on my classic singer/songwriter, heart-wrenching style that I have been known for in the past. I feel that these songs are going to be really gratifying to play live.”

Throughout the Kickstarter campaign, Shepard has set milestone markers to create incentives and perks for her loyal supporters. When she hits specific fundraising goals, Shepard will post behind the scenes video previews of the new record to give followers a taste of what is to be expected. All donors and supporters who give $20 or more to the campaign will also receive a copy of the final album once it is completed and for a $25 donation Shepard will send a signed album. Near the middle of the campaign, Shepard has a scheduled performance at the WitZend in Venice Calif. on December 20 to keep the energy rolling throughout the Kickstarter.

Shepard had her first hit in 1987 with “Can’t We Try,” and followed it up with “Don't Cry Ilene” from her first album on Reprise records. Still, she was a relative unknown when she was picked up in 1997 for “Ally McBeal,” where her popularity skyrocketed. While on “Ally McBeal”, Shepard recorded four albums for Sony 550. Since then, Shepard has released four more albums of original material, two live albums, a live DVD and toured extensively, further solidifying her fan base with her electrifying shows. In addition, she opened for Sugarland’s summer 2010 and 2011 tours and has been performing at her own international and domestic concerts, plus numerous private and fundraising events.
Following the Kickstarter campaign, Shepard has scheduled shows at Feinstein’s in San Francisco on January 16 & 17. She also has a planned concert at the Belly Up in San Diego with date to follow.

To support and follow the progress of Shepard’s Kickstarter campaign, or to learn more about her upcoming performances please visit

About Vonda Shepard:
Vonda Shepard is a singer/songwriter and musician, best known for being former musical director of Ally McBeal and recently acting and singing on stage in the New York revival of Randy Newman’s “Faust: The Concert” starring Randy Newman. Shepard is currently writing her fourteenth album with plans for a summer 2015 release. To fund the album, Shepard created a crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign that will run from December 8 to January 5. For more information on Shepard and her music visit Become a fan at or follow on Twitter @VondaShepard.

Rockers coming to Hallmark Channel on December 8, 2014 to celebrate message of peace during holidays

Guitarist Richie Sambora
Richie Sambora, Orianthi and a children’s choir from the School of Rock LA will take the Home & Family stage on Monday, December 8, 2014 for a moving performance of the classic song “Happy Xmas/War Is Over.” Tune into the Hallmark Channel at 10 a.m. ET/PT. After choosing this song to perform at The 83rd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, Richie had the children over to his home to rehearse and spoke to them about the peaceful message of the song. He was taken aback by how beautiful they sounded – the children singing the John Lennon lyrics pays ultimate tribute to the spirit in which the Beatle wrote the song. A torrential rain storm prevented the Parade performance from happening, and now they finally have the opportunity to perform the song together for the first time on Home & Family. Be sure to tune in to catch this special moment! 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

NAMM 2015 is coming - Here's a look back at our coverage of last year.

One of the music industry's biggest events comes to Anaheim every Winter. The National Association of Music Merchants trade show - better known as the NAMM Show - brings out thousands of national and international music manufacturers, dealers and artists. As we gear up for the 2015 NAMM Show coming to the Anaheim Convention Center January 22-25, 2015, here is a look back at one of our reports from the 2014 NAMM Show.