Friday, December 21, 2007

Bayadera: World Music in the O.C.


Photo credit: Tyler Davis
Since Bayadera emerged on the area music scene at the beginning of the decade, the band has been acclaimed for blending modern rock and world music influences together in a way that both challenges and rewards discerning listeners.

And while the group's early recordings, including a 2001 self-titled release and 2003's "90 Million Miles," showcased the quintet's solid songwriting and dazzling live performances, the newly issued "Rotation of the Earth" is clearly a triumph. Produced and mixed by Matthew James Walin at Bitemark Studios in Orange, the CD showcases Bayadera's wide-ranging soul in spades.

"There are countless differences," bassist Chris Payne said in comparing Bayadera's earlier recordings with "Rotation of the Earth."
"The first one was written very early on when we were just beginning to work with Gina (singer Gina Bandy). This one, all of us have written the songs together and are used to each other and where we fit."
The group's dynamic lineup also features electric guitarist Saatara, acoustic guitarist Dat Nguyen and drummer Donn Untiet. Untiet's wife, Evonne Untiet, frequently adds percussion at the band's live shows.

The band's artistic growth isn't the only major ingredient that makes "Rotation of the Earth" so special; Walin's involvement was also critical. Indeed, Payne explained that Walin wouldn't allow the band to settle for lackluster performances, recordings or mixes while in the studio.
"He was all about making it better," Bandy said of Walin.
"Because we have been together so long, we needed that outside someone to refine our music. Matt came in and got us to tackle this."

Walin said he has certain things he considers before working with an artist and signing them to his label.
"The biggest thing is a gut feeling. Technically, the band has to have a great singer and great songs," Walin said.
Walin was especially impressed when the band came into the pre-production stage of working on the CD armed with 40 or so songs.
"They are such a great live band, I wanted to capture that," Walin said.
After three months of pre-production, Walin ultimately recorded about 15 songs – 13 of which appear on "Rotation of the Earth." Most of the basic tracks were recorded over a few days, and many of Bandy's first vocals (often called "scratch vocals") were kept to help keep a strong live sound on the album.
"We're all in this band because we're happy and enjoying it," Bandy said of the band.
That positive approach to working together and making music seems to drive Bayadera and the troupe's burgeoning success.
"The one thing I've always liked about it is everybody is concerned about the song and everybody has the band in mind," explained Donn Untiet.

Bayadera is not a typical band in terms of sound or background. Nguyen is blind, and the group's multi-ethnic lineup provides even more depth to the sonic proceedings.
"The chemistry with us is great," Nguyen said. "We are living proof of a group (with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences) that can work together."
Nguyen is such a fantastic guitar player and has such an engaging personality, the other members of Bayadera noted they often forget that he is blind.
"Most people don't have his confidence," Bandy said.
A highlight of the band's career came in October, when Bayadera was invited by Stevie Wonder to perform "Superstition" with him when he received the Governor's Award of Excellence at the 25th annual Media Access Awards at Universal Studios' Globe Theatre on Oct. 14.
"It was a life-changing experience personally and professionally. I grew up with that music in my house," Payne said.
Information: www.Bayadera.com.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Grammy Nominations announced

Press Release
Source: The Recording Academy

Foo Fighters, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Kanye West and Amy Winehouse Vie for Album Of The Year at 50th Annual GRAMMY(R) Awards on Feb. 10, 2008


Thursday December 6, 12:10 pm ET
Kanye West Leads Nominations with Eight; Amy Winehouse Earns Six
Feist (pictured on left), Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse Up for Best New Artist
SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nominations for the 50th Annual GRAMMY® Awards were announced today by The Recording Academy® reflecting one of the most diverse years ever with the Album Of The Year category alone representing the country, hip-hop, jazz, pop and rock genres. The press event was held at The Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood and was attended by national and international media, as well as key music industry executives. Artists reading nominations this morning included Akon, Chester Bennington (of Linkin Park), Fergie, Vince Gill, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Jam, Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), George Lopez, Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) and Taylor Swift. The 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on "GRAMMY Sunday," Feb. 10, 2008, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

Kanye West tops the nominations with eight, Amy Winehouse garners six, and the Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and T-Pain each earn five nods. Akon, Dierks Bentley, Chris Daughtry, Feist, Tim McGraw, John Newton, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Bruce Springsteen receive four each.
"This year's nominations truly reflect a diverse and talented community of artists and creators who represent some of the most exceptional music of the year," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "The GRAMMY Awards process once again has yielded a comprehensive group of excellent nominees and coupled with the fact that it's our milestone 50th year, this year's telecast promises music fans a spectacular show filled with stellar performances and unique 'GRAMMY Moments' for which Music's Biggest Night™ has come to be renowned."
Following is a sampling of nominations in 110 categories from the GRAMMY Awards' 31 Fields:
GENERAL FIELD
Nominees for Album Of The Year are:
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace -- Foo Fighters
These Days -- Vince Gill
River: The Joni Letters -- Herbie Hancock
Graduation -- Kanye West
Back To Black -- Amy Winehouse

Nominees for Record Of The Year are:
"Irreplaceable" -- Beyoncé
"The Pretender" -- Foo Fighters
"Umbrella" -- Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
"What Goes Around...Comes Around" -- Justin Timberlake
"Rehab" -- Amy Winehouse

Best New Artist nominees are:
Feist
Ledisi
Paramore
Taylor Swift
Amy Winehouse

Song Of The Year nominees include:
"Before He Cheats" -- John Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
"Hey There Delilah" -- Tom Higgenson, songwriter (Plain White T's)
"Like A Star" -- Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriter (Corinne Bailey Rae)
"Rehab" -- Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse)
"Umbrella" -- Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius "Dream" Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z)

POP FIELD
Nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album go to:
Lost Highway -- Bon Jovi
The Reminder -- Feist
It Won't Be Soon Before Long -- Maroon 5
Memory Almost Full -- Paul McCartney
Back To Black -- Amy Winehouse

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nods go to:
"Steppin' Out" -- Tony Bennett & Christina Aguilera
"Beautiful Liar" -- Beyoncé & Shakira
"Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)" -- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
"The Sweet Escape" -- Gwen Stefani & Akon
"Give It To Me" -- Timbaland Featuring Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Instrumental Performance nominees are:
"Off The Grid" -- Beastie Boys
"Paris Sunrise #7" -- Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
"Over The Rainbow" -- Dave Koz
"One Week Last Summer" -- Joni Mitchell
"Simple Pleasures" -- Spyro Gyra

DANCE FIELD
For Best Dance Recording, the nominees are:
"Do It Again" -- The Chemical Brothers
"D.A.N.C.E." -- Justice
"Love Today" -- Mika
"Don't Stop The Music" --Rihanna
"Love Stoned/I Think She Knows" -- Justin Timberlake

ROCK FIELD
Nominations for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance go to:
"Timebomb" -- Beck
"Only Mama Knows" -- Paul McCartney
"Our Country" -- John Mellencamp
"Radio Nowhere" -- Bruce Springsteen
"Come On" -- Lucinda Williams

Best Rock Album nominees are:
Daughtry -- Daughtry
Revival -- John Fogerty
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace -- Foo Fighters
Magic -- Bruce Springsteen
Sky Blue Sky -- Wilco

Nods for Best Rock Song go to:
"Come On" -- Lucinda Williams, songwriter (Lucinda Williams)
"Icky Thump" -- Jack White, songwriter (The White Stripes)
"It's Not Over" -- Chris Daughtry, Gregg Wattenberg, Mark Wilkerson & Brett Young, songwriters (Daughtry)
"The Pretender" -- Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel & Chris Shiflett, songwriters (Foo Fighters)
"Radio Nowhere" -- Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)

R&B FIELD
Nominees for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals are:
"Same Girl" -- R. Kelly Featuring Usher
"Disrespectful" -- Chaka Khan Featuring Mary J. Blige
"Hate That I Love You" -- Rihanna Featuring Ne-Yo
"Baby" -- Angie Stone Featuring Betty Wright
"Bartender" -- T-Pain Featuring Akon

For Best Contemporary R&B Album, the nominees are:
Konvicted -- Akon
Just Like You -- Keyshia Cole
Fantasia -- Fantasia
East Side Story -- Emily King
Because Of You -- Ne-Yo

Best Urban/Alternative Performance nods go to:
"Make A Baby" -- Vikter Duplaix
"That's The Way Of The World" -- Dwele
"Daydreamin'" -- Lupe Fiasco Featuring Jill Scott
"Fantasy" -- Meshell Ndegeocello
"Dream" -- Alice Smith

RAP FIELD
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration nods go to:
"I Wanna Love You" -- Akon Featuring Snoop Dogg
"Kiss, Kiss" -- Chris Brown & T-Pain
"Let It Go" -- Keyshia Cole Featuring Missy Elliott & Lil' Kim
"Umbrella" -- Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
"Good Life" -- Kanye West Featuring T-Pain

Nominees for Best Rap Song are:
"Ayo Technology" -- N. Hills, Curtis Jackson, Timothy Mosley & Justin Timberlake, songwriters (50 Cent Featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland)
"Big Things Poppin' (Do It)" -- Clifford Harris & Byron Thomas, songwriters (T.I.)
"Can't Tell Me Nothing" -- A. Davis & Kanye West, songwriters (Kanye West)
"Crank That (Soulja Boy)" -- Soulja Boy Tell'Em, songwriter (Soulja Boy Tell'Em)
"Good Life" -- A. Davis, F. Najm & K. West, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring T-Pain)

For Best Rap Album, the nominees are:
Finding Forever -- Common
Kingdom Come -- Jay-Z
Hip Hop Is Dead -- Nas
T.I. vs T.I.P. -- T.I.
Graduation -- Kanye West

COUNTRY FIELD
Nods for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals go to:
"Days Aren't Long Enough" -- Steve Earle & Allison Moorer
"Because Of You" -- Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson
"I Need You" -- Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
"Lost Highway" -- Willie Nelson & Ray Price
"Oh Love" -- Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

For Best Country Song, the nominees are:
"Before He Cheats" -- Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
"Give It Away" -- Bill Anderson, Buddy Cannon & Jamey Johnson, songwriters (George Strait)
"I Need You" -- Tony Lane & David Lee, songwriters (Tim McGraw & Faith Hill)
"If You're Reading This" -- Tim McGraw, Brad Warren & Brett Warren, songwriters (Tim McGraw)
"Long Trip Alone" -- Brett Beavers, Dierks Bentley & Steve Bogard, songwriters (Dierks Bentley)

Nominations for Best Country Album are:
Long Trip Alone -- Dierks Bentley
These Days -- Vince Gill
Let It Go -- Tim McGraw
5th Gear -- Brad Paisley
It Just Comes Natural -- George Strait

JAZZ FIELD
For Best Contemporary Jazz Album, the nominees are:
Party Hats -- Will Bernard
Downright Upright -- Brian Bromberg
Re-Imagination -- Eldar
River: The Joni Letters -- Herbie Hancock
He Had A Hat -- Jeff Lorber

Nods for Best Jazz Vocal Album go to:
Avant Gershwin -- Patti Austin
Red Earth - A Malian Journey -- Dee Dee Bridgewater
Music Maestro Please -- Freddy Cole
Nightmoves -- Kurt Elling
On The Other Side -- Tierney Sutton
This year's Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominations go to: Howard Benson, Joe Chiccarelli, Mike Elizondo, Mark Ronson, and Timbaland.
In the newly added Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album category, nominations go to: Le Cowboy Creole (Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie), King Cake (Lisa Haley), Live: Á La Blue Moon (Lost Bayou Ramblers), Blues De Musicien (Pine Leaf Boys), Racines (Racines), The La Louisianne Sessions (Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars), and Live! Worldwide (Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience).
In the Latin Field, Best Latin Rock, Alternative Or Urban Album has now been split into two categories. Nominations for Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album are: No Hay Espacio (Black:Guayaba), Adelantando (Jarabe De Palo), Amantes Sunt Amentes (Panda), Kamikaze (Rabanes), Memo Rex Commander Y El Corazón Atómico De La Via Láctea (Zoé). For Best Latin Urban Album, nods go to: E.S.L. (Akwid), El Abayarde Contra-Ataca (Tego Calderón), Residente O Visitante (Calle 13), El Cartel: The Big Boss (Daddy Yankee), and Vacaneria! (Fulanito).
GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed on Dec. 12 to the voting members of The Recording Academy. They are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 9, 2008, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the telecast.
The 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by John Cossette Productions and AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich and John Cossette are executive producers, Walter C. Miller is producer/director, Tisha Fein is the coordinating producer, and Tzvi Small is supervising producer.
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. In its 50th year, The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit http://www.grammy.com/.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Dear & Departed: '80s revisited in style


Photo credit: KEVIN ESTRADA
Orange County used to be the place where musicians would seemingly get their start and then move on in search of greater fame or a more prominent place to feed their artistic appetite.
The list of musical exports includes artists such as Jackson Browne, Gary Allan and leading members of No Doubt and Sugar Ray.

But times are truly a changing as artists from as far away as New Jersey (Walter Trout), New York (Lee Rocker) and Hawaii (National Product) now call Orange County home.

Add to that list a fantastic Australian export, the Dear & Departed. The quintet's inception and history is complex, but the members' various backgrounds include extended residences in England, Wales, New Zealand and – most recently – Australia before setting up sonic shop in Orange County in 2006.

The band's full-length debut "Something Quite Peculiar" was released by Science Records on May 22 and the group has found a growing audience for its accessible blend of '80s and '00s styles. Fans of the Cure, New Order and the Church, as well as modern rockers such as Placebo and Rock Kills Kid will enjoy the Dear & Departed.

"I think we are playing just what comes out," said singer Dan Under in a phone interview earlier this week. The Dear & Departed also features guitarist Simon O'Gorman, drummer Joel Bourne, guitarist Darren Parkinson and bassist David Williams.
"We've all had an English music upbringing. My dad is responsible for getting me into music from a very young age," Under said when asked how a group of twentysomethings is so able to masterfully work in a genre first mined before they were born. In addition to the Cure and the Church, he also cites modern rock outfits like AFI, Placebo and Tiger Army as influences.
"As a whole, we look to the '80s," Under explained. "We did the Warped Tour (in June and July 2007) and we didn't fit in. We don't consider ourselves part of that scene but people definitely get it."

It only helps the Dear & Departed that Under lent his spellbinding vocals on AFI's 2006 release "Decemberunderground."

Having toured with well-known acts such as Avenged Sevenfold and AFI, the members of the Dear & Departed have found themselves the rare young rock troupe able to appeal to fans from several generations.
Under is excited that young fans are embracing the Dear & Departed, and he even salutes the sounds of "Down Under" with a moving version of the Church's 1987 classic "Under the Milky Way Tonight" that has him sharing vocals with fellow Australian singer Jessica Origliasso of the Veronicas.

"I was listening to a lot of the Church before we started to record ('Something Quite Peculiar'). It's such a timeless song; more people need to hear it."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Travis blows the roof off the House of Blues


Travis frontman Francis Healy, shown here performing in Switzerland in August 2007, and the rest of the Scottish band delivered a stirring performance Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, at the House of Blues in Anaheim.

Story originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007

Travis' opening at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Saturday night (Nov. 24, 2007) may have been one of the most appropriate in recent history. The house lights went dark and the recorded theme music from the movie "Rocky" was played over the sound system as spotlights suddenly revealed the members of Travis walking from the rear of the venue through the crowd dressed in colorful, Las Vegas-ready boxing robes.

The theatrical opening was not lost on the capacity crowd, which cheered loudly as the Scottish band made it to the stage.

The group opened with several strong cuts from 2007's "The Boy With No Name," both "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open" providing the explosive one-two punch to drive the point that Travis is back.
In the late 1990s, Travis appeared to be poised to be a major force in rock. But after the success of "The Man Who" (armed with gems such as "Driftwood" and "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?"), Coldplay released "Parachutes" in 2000 and the rest – as they say – is history.
It didn't help Travis' case that 2003's "12 Memories" lacked the magic of 1999's "The Man Who" and 2001's "The Invisible Band."

But thanks to the group's solid appearance at Coachella in April and a consequent marathon-length tour (the members joked Anaheim was somewhere between stops 83 and 85), the band is better than ever.

Over the course of 23 songs, Travis proved it is not only ready to rumble, but can truly go the distance. Reflective rockers such as "Side," "Closer" and "Sing" showcased the band's love of powerful melancholy, with singer Fran Healy using his wonderful voice to bring beauty and emotion to every line.

Although the majority of songs were not offered up in ways dramatically different from on Travis' studio recordings, the enthusiastic audience packed in on both levels of the venue provided a dramatic element to the concert. "As You Are" attained the rage of an Oasis rocker, with guitarist Andy Dunlop hammering his guitar as much as strumming it.

The group's lengthy encore was particularly interesting, highlights being an acoustic and vocal harmony-heavy "Flowers in the Window" and night-ending "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" that had everyone in the crowd singing along without the customary bullying from the band (usually pointing a microphone out into the crowd).

Maximo Park opened the show with an energetic 50-minute set that clearly impressed those who arrived in time to catch the outfit's lively rock that is in tune with many of the '00s most successful indie artists from across The Pond.
The five-man group recalls Franz Ferdinand's rapid-fire rock and that worked well in a live setting, with songs such as "Girls Who Play Guitar," "The Unshockable" and the set-closing "Our Velocity" offering solid punk rock-paced songs that were even more dexterous than the group's studio recordings.
The Newcastle quintet did hit a sonic drive out of the Mouse House with a strong performance of the original song "Books From Boxes," which showcased guitarist Duncan Lloyd and offered a more melancholy sound than the rest of the material.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Johnette Napolitano coming to San Juan Capistrano


Although Concrete Blonde is no longer together, the Los Angeles band's outstanding lead singer Johnette Napolitano is back.


Napolitano is not only out on the road, but has released her commercial solo debut on Hybrid Recordings, "Scarred." Recorded in London and Los Angeles, the 12-song collection showcases Napolitano's wonderful songwriting and affecting vocals that have been her trademark since audiences heard her on modern rockers such as "Everybody Knows," "Dance Along the Edge," "Your Haunted Head" and "Joey."


Napolitano penned most of the songs for "Scarred" at the rural California cabin that she now calls home, while the recordings on the disc were co-produced with Danny Lohner. Guitarist James Mankey, who was a member of Concrete Blonde, engineered and mixed the album.
While Napolitano's versions of Coldplay's "Scientist" and Lou Reed's Velvet Underground-era gem "All Tomorrow's Parties" may draw in some listeners, these are the 10 songs that Napolitano wrote or co-wrote that most fully showcase her artistry.


The confessional "Amazing," emotive ballad "My Diane," stark "Poem for the Native" and intoxicating title track are among the many highlights on one of the best rock releases of 2007.
Napolitano, David J and Cat Party will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. Tickets are $20.

Information: 949-496-8930.

OC's Social Distortion rocks the house in Anaheim

Photo by Joshua Sudock/OC Register
Social Distortion's performance in Anaheim on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 played out exactly how fans of the Orange County troupe might expect. There was a mix of old and new, with Mike Ness and company offering up 16 songs over the course of 90 minutes.

Kicking off a series of 15 shows by the band at the Mouse House that will include dates later this month, throughout December and in early January, Social Distortion is a band that feeds on its adoring audience. The capacity crowd Monday was just what the band ordered, singing along, pumping their fists in the air and – for a couple of dozen brave souls – slamming around in a giant mosh pit in front of the stage for most of the set.

And as fun as it is to watch the band's multi-generational audience get into Social Distortion's pioneering mix of early punk, Johnny Cash-styled country and roots rock, the five musicians on stage displayed that they are up to the challenge of fueling the crowd's thirst without ignoring their roles as musicians.

While the performance of the early '80s punk classic "Mommy's Little Monster" was strong, it was actually Ness' more recent and mature material that lifted the show to something far exceeding the group's shorter, more straightforward shows at Hootenanny.
The performance of "Reach for the Sky" and "Highway 101" offered the best one-two punch of the night, and elsewhere in the set "Winners and Losers" and the newly-penned "You Can't Take it With You When You Go" showcased Ness at his most reflective.
That is not to say Social Distortion didn't rock. The band did, with drummer Charlie Quintana's powerful style helping propel classics such as "Prison Bound" and "Story of My Life" with defiance.

Ness used his powerful baritone to sing the full-size rockers, but was surprisingly emotive while singing a piano-anchored version of Cash's "Ring of Fire" and the old Hank Williams nugget "Six More Miles (To the Graveyard)."

Like Ness, singer-bassist Lee Rocker celebrates his past even while moving confidently about in the 21st century. During his 30-minute opening set, the Orange County rocker focused on recent material that has continued to bring him out of the long shadow of the Stray Cats.
Opening with "Lost Highway" and "Gone" from 2007's "Black Cat Bone," his eight-song set also featured the beautiful "One More Night," a song as wonderful as anything released this year (now, if only commercial radio would champion his art).
Rocker also thrilled the crowd when he balanced on his upright bass like an acrobat while leading his solid four-man band through a wild "Crazy When She Drinks."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Remembering Lance "Romance" Faulk

Lance "Romance" Faulk, lead singer of the Attraction, died on Saturday night, Nov. 10, 2007.

Lance "Romance" Faulk of Huntington Beach, the lead singer of the popular local band the Attraction, has died at age 36. According to the group's Web site, Faulk died Saturday of a heart condition he had suffered from for some time.

"Lance was living on borrowed time, having had heart problems for many years. Somehow this is of absolutely no comfort to me." Martin Brown wrote in an e-mail to music on Monday. Brown is the founder and producer of the Orange County Music Awards and was at the Grove of Anaheim earlier this year when the Attraction picked up best punk band honors at the 6th annual ceremony.

On Oct. 25, the Attraction celebrated the release of the group's sophomore CD "The Attraction Presents …" with a show at Hurricanes in Huntington Beach. The band's debut "Step Right Up!" was issued in 2006.

Although he had suffered from heart-related illness since 2003, Faulk was an energetic and talented frontman for the Attraction (the band's always-the-same lineup featured drummer Humper T., guitarist Chris Master John and bassist Beaver), one of Orange County's best modern rock outfits.

The Attraction performed its show at Gallagher's in Huntington Beach on Oct. 11, 2003, and built a strong and loyal following through a combination of hard-hitting and theatrical-styled live shows, a popular MySpace site and radio airplay (including on Los Angeles' Indie 103.1 FM).
"He was really the heart and soul of the band," guitarist Master John said of his friend. He added that it was Faulk who founded the group four years ago and set the tonewith his fun-loving, dynamic personality.

Brown of the Orange County Music Awards agreed.
"In conservative Orange County, where even musicians blend in easily with the standard crowd at generic restaurants and bars, Lance stood out. His preference for makeup and hats, à la 'Clockwork Orange,' made him noticeable in a positive way. He was having fun at the world's expense," Brown wrote in his e-mail.
"As the lead singer and main songwriter of his band, Lance will – I fear – be irreplaceable. But, more than this, he will be missed by his young son Wylan, who was such an important part of Lance's life."
Faulk is survived by his 12-year-old son, Wylan, longtime girlfriend Vicky Bedrosian, father Richard Faulk of Dana Point, mother Emma Faulk and brothers Jason, Jeff, Richard and Mark Faulk.

Services for Faulk include a 9 a.m. visitation, followed by an 11 a.m. mass at St. John Fisher Catholic Church, 5448 Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, on Nov. 15.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/theattraction or www.theattraction.net.

Friday, November 09, 2007

One honors U2 in a full tribute to the Irish rockers


Photo cutline info: Kenny Hale portrays Bono in the U2 tribute band One. The group will perform a benefit in support of underprivileged Ugandan children at OC Pavilion in Santa Ana on Nov. 17.




One (tribute to U2)
Where: OC Pavilion, 801 N. Main St., Santa Ana
When: 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007
How much: $35 (orchestra), $30 (balcony), $25 (theatre)
Online: www.ocpavilion.com.
Call: 714-550-0880



Anyone not content to patiently wait until the opening of the highly-anticipated film “U2 3D” in late January 2008 might want to consider catching the acclaimed U2 tribute band One when the Orange County-based quartet headlines at OC Pavilion in Santa Ana on Nov. 17.

“Regarding the fans, we have a pretty strong fan base from the Web site and definitely from our MySpace page,” said bassist Damon Tucker, who has portrayed Adam Clayton in One since early 2006.
“We sound just like the band; this is no watered-down version of the real thing. The people who continue to come to the shows over and over and visit the Web site and Myspace are a testament of that.”

Indeed, since One launched its Myspace page (www.myspace.com/u2tributebandone) in May 2007, the band has recorded more than 245,000 visits to the site.
“We get emails and postings from all over the world regarding the band,” Tucker said.
Not only does One recreate the magic of a U2 concert and play the music with mirror-minded precision, but the band’s charitable aim is pointed in the same direction as the Irish troupe. Proceeds from the upcoming concert will go to support needy children in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The main thing is to bring awareness and tie that in with U2 because of Bono’s commitment to Africa,” said Kenny Hale, who portrays U2’s famous lead singer in One. The Edge is played by Aaron Broering (who recently released his strong solo effort “Reason to Believe”) and the role of drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. is played by Dave Goode (who is the touring drummer for Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush). The aforementioned Tucker is also a member of the outstanding original rock act Parkaimoon.

Hale noted he is a worship leader at his Costa Mesa-based The Crossing; that church supports a program titled Compassion (www.compassion.com), which provides food, medical care and other needed services to children in Uganda, as well as Mosaic Vision (www.mosaicvision.org), specifically geared toward assisting many of the estimated 1.8 million Ugandan children who are orphans because of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Ian Stevenson, pastor of outreach services at The Crossing, was the one who saw the obvious link between the growing popularity of One and an organized benefit to assist Compassion and Mosaic Vision.
“We’re going to give people at the concert a chance to make a difference,” said Stevenson, noting they are assisting an area where it is estimated that 30 percent of the population suffers from HIV or AIDS.
“There is a clinic we’re working on (expanding) to turn into a hospital.”

He added he was attending a concert at OC Pavilion a few months ago and ran into Hale at the show. It was there he realized the benefit of staging a tribute to U2 that would celebrate both the Irish band’s music and long-time commitment to helping children in Africa.
“I said ‘You have to do something for Africa. That’s what Bono is all about’, “ Stevenson recalled.
“We do U2 songs at our church. He (Hale) is phenomenal.”
Stevenson said one of the things that really impresses him about the work of Mosaic Vision is how the group works with so-called “double orphans,” children who have lost both parents and aunts and uncles so they are truly on their own.
“People have a chance to get personally involved,” said Hale, who also fronts the Kenny Hale Band. Hale opened for Shaw-Blades (Styx’ Tommy Shaw and Damn Yankees’ Jack Blades) at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Nov 8.
“It’s something easy to do and it’s fun,” said Hale, of the ability for music fans to help underprivileged children in Africa.
“When kids get help, they flourish.”

For more information on One and to hear the band perform solid versions of several U2 classics, visit www.myspace.com/u2tributebandone.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dada, Gin Blossoms showcase melodic rock


Intelligent power-pop and well-crafted melodic rock will be showcased at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano this weekend, thanks to the arrival of Dada on Saturday, Nov. 10, and the Gin Blossoms on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Those who initially labeled Dada (seen here in a 2004 photo) the Police of the 1990s haven’t kept up with the Los Angeles-based trio. Dada’s astounding blend of melodic songcraft, smart lyrics and propulsive rhythms shares the same daring arc drawn by the Police in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but Dada’s original blend of melodic choruses, smart lyrics and propulsive rhythms is as strong and inventive as any act in memory.
The band’s collection of wonderful CDs includes 1992’s “Puzzle,” 1994’s masterpiece “American Highway Flower” and 1996’s “El Subliminoso.” More recent titles include 1998’s self-titled “dada” and 2004’s 13-song genre-defying “How to be Found.”
The group’s most recent commercial release, 2006’s “A Friend of Pat Robertson,” finds Dada continuing to be masters of melodic rock (“7 Dot 1”), as well as able to blend jazz (“72 Hours”) and psychedelic flourishes (“Emily Sang to Me”) into an intoxicating mix.
Even various side projects have resulted in winning efforts that ultimately further the legacy of Dada. Singer-guitarist Michael Gurley and drummer Phil Leavitt released “Napalm Springs” under the Butterfly Jones moniker in 2001, while singer-bassist Joie Calio released a wonderful solo disc titled “The Complications of Glitter” in 2003 and more recently launched X Levitation Cult.
The Gin Blossom’s 1993 debut “New Miserable Experience” and 1996 sophomore effort “Congratulations…I’m Sorry” propelled the Arizona band into the forefront of the 1990s music scene.
Songs such as “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Lost Horizons” and “Follow You Down” still enjoy frequent airplay and are favorites at Gin Blossoms concerts.
In 2006, the Gin Blossoms released the epic comeback “Major Lodge Victory,” a full-length disc featuring infectious songs such as “Learning the Hard Way,” “Heart Shaped Locket” and “Come on Hard.”
Dada and Vesper will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 10. Tickets to that show are $20.
The Gin Blossoms and Beyond 7 will perform at the same venue at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11. Tickets are $29.50.
Visit www.thecoachhouse.com or call 949-496-8930 for more details.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Springsteen tribute to benefit L.A. Food Bank


Audiences who caught Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the L.A. Sports Arena on Oct. 29 and 30 undoubtedly noted the Boss’ vocal support for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Now a group of area artists are paying tribute to the music of Springsteen at a special Nov. 8 concert that will honor New Jersey’s best-known rocker while simultaneously benefiting the fight to stop hunger.

Organized by Huntington Beach-based roots rockers the Fallen Stars (pictured here), the lineup also includes Newport Beach-based Sue Paine, Surf City outfit Johnny 99, and Los Angeles’ Phil Cody and Nobody’s Darling. Several businesses have already stepped in to co-sponsor the event, including OC’s own Backyard Drums and Lindell Productions (a commercial recording studio in Westminster).

“It’s a Springsteen tribute night where eight different bands each play three Springsteen songs and one original,” said Bobbo Byrnes, singer-guitarist of the Fallen Stars and organizer of the upcoming show.

The show will be held at DiPiazza’s, 5205 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. Admission is $7 and all proceeds will go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (www.lafoodbank.org).

For more details about the upcoming concert, visit www.myspace.com/TheFallenStars.

Rosie Shipley and Gerry O’Beirne to perform Nov. 3


There will undoubtedly be plenty of sonic magic when Gerry O’Beirne and Rosie Shipley perform two special shows together in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday evening, Nov. 3, 2007.

O’Beirne, that rare singer-songwriter who is also a virtuoso guitarist, and much-admired fiddler Shipley will perform as part of the ongoing Music at the Library concert series.

Born in County Clare – located on Ireland’s music-steeped west coast – O’Beirne grew up in Ireland and Ghana in West Africa, and has since lived in England, California and Mexico. His music is rooted in traditional song craft, but both his songs and instrumental works have a timeless sound that draws comparisons with the early work of Bruce Cockburn, Don McLean and Nils Lofgren.

Songs such as “Darkness Now,” “The Holy Ground” and “Half Moon Bay” (the title track on his solo debut release) are dazzling, and O’Beirne’s poignant lyrics are just as effective.
He is also an incredible instrumentalist, as evidenced by the beautiful “Off the Rocks at Clahane,” which showcases his expressive touch playing a 6-string guitar and melodica.
On “When You’re Gone I Say Your Name,” O’Beirne’s ability to layer his playing of Spanish guitar and steel guitar achieves similarly-enchanting perfection.

O’Beirne has been a touring member or recorded with a number of well-known groups, including Patrick Street, the Sharon Shannon Band, Midnight Well and the Waterboys.
Shipley embarked on her recording career with the release of 2002 CD “At Home,” which teamed her with pianist Matt Mulqueen, as well as with her brothers Peter Shipley (fiddle) and Trevor Shipley (uilleann pipes, flute, whistle). Rosie Shipley is a talented fiddle player, able to lend her four-stringed instrument and bow to wonderful displays on jigs, reels and waltzes.
She grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and began taking violin lessons at the mere age of three. By age 8, she was already learning traditional tunes from fiddler Brendan Mulvilhill.
In 2003, she teamed with singer-songwriter Lisa Moscatiello to record a full-length CD titled “Well Kept Secrets,” which blended Shipley’s fiddle playing with Moscatiello’s alto soprano on a collection featuring traditional and contemporary songs from Ireland, Scotland and North America.

Gerry O’Beirne and Rosie Shipley will perform at San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, San Juan Capistrano, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2007.
Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children (12 and under).
Information: 949-493-1752.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Springsteen: still pulling rabbits out of his hat



Photo credit: Kelly A. Swift

I've seen Bruce Springsteen more than a dozen times since November 1980, when I first caught him right after the release of "The River." That continues to be a concert by which I measure all other shows; it was the first time I ever remember crying during a rock 'n' roll concert ("Thunder Road" couldn't have been more amazing) and has only been equaled by a handful of other concert experiences, notably U2 at the US Festival in 1983. A show "The Boss" performed at the Sports Arena on Halloween Night, Oct. 31, 1984, also ranks as one of the best rock concerts I've ever experienced. And you had to love when he burst out of a coffin to kick it all off!

Here I was again last night (Monday, Oct. 29, 2007), and it was kind of like old times. Indeed, the show was at the same site (L.A. Sports Arena) where I first caught him 27 years ago. But instead of touring in support of "The River," Springsteen and his trusty E Street Band came to town in the wake of the recent release of "Magic," an aptly-titled disc that showcases a singer-songwriter that continues to be at the top of his game.

Was last night's concert equal to the marathon-length shows he performed in the early and mid-1980s? Yes and no. There were moments when everything clicked, notably during a propulsive "No Surrender," inspired "The Rising" and slightly-slower-than-the-recording "The Promised Land." And of course, "Born to Run" delivered with the house lights on and the audience all singing along, continues to be glorious.

But that super-charged feeling of the past where the sold-out crowd would hang on to each note and sing along seemed to ebb and flow across the 135-minute show I caught on Monday night. Springsteen continues to be an amazing singer, and he has the solid backing of the best rock 'n' roll band still around (drummer Max Weinberg, piano player Roy Bittan, saxophonist Clarence Clemons and guitarist Nils Lofgren in particular), but "Magic" gems such as "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" and even the bona fide rocker "Last to Die" fit unevenly this night. The night's opener, "Radio Nowhere," was solid, as well as another new track, "Devil's Arcade," the latter which found Springsteen playing some melodic lead guitar.

Springsteen now relies on a teleprompter (when you are sitting high, behind the stage you notice those types of things) and at times he would lose the high end of his voice and his focus, but an outing by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band is still incredible and outdistances shows staged by artists half his age.

Magic, indeed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Subdudes set to perform in O.C. on Oct. 12

Photo credit: RICK OLIVIER
Since the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there has been a well-deserved appreciation and rediscovery of the region's distinctive musical heritage.
Indeed, legendary singer-songwriter Fats Domino is the focus of a newly-released, two-disc collection ("Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino") with artists such as Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams and Neil Young all contributing new recordings in honor of New Orleans' most celebrated musical son.

Another recent recording that highlights the music of New Orleans is the Subdudes' aptly-titled "Street Symphony," a wonderful 12-song set that was released by Back Porch Records in August 2007.

"Street Symphony" is the Subdudes' eighth official release since the group was formed in 1987 when singer-guitarist Tommy Malone teamed with former Continental Drifter singer-keyboardist John Magnie and singer-percussionist Steve Amedee. The group's lineup was completed with the inclusion of Tim Cook (vocals, bass, percussion) and Jimmy Messa (bass, guitar).

Highlights on "Street Symphony" include the Americana-styled rock of "Fountain of Youth," the authentic blues of "Brother Man" and the stirring folk-rock of "Thorn in Her Side."
The first single off the album, "Poor Man's Paradise," is a beautiful but sobering look at the continuing hardships faced by New Orleans residents in the wake of Katrina; the powerful lyrics are set to beautiful soul music that showcases the quintet's enchanting harmonies.
Other recommended releases by the Subdudes include 2006's "Behind the Levee" and 2004's "Miracle Mule."

The Subdudes and Bob Malone will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. Tickets are $20.
Information: 949-496-8930.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band melds distinct influences


Originally published in the Orange County Register on Friday, Sept. 28, 2007

The band, started by Cal State Fullerton students, is about to release its first full-length commercial album.

If members of classic rock icons the Band and progressive rock's Yes had decided to fuse their distinct styles, it might sound a bit like Dusty Rhodes and the River Band.
Blending modern and classic rock with folk, blues, zydeco, country and bluegrass into epic songs that defy simple categorization, the six members of Orange County's Dusty Rhodes and the River Band are set to celebrate the release of their commercial full-length debut "First You Live" when they perform a free show at the Key Club in West Hollywood on Tuesday night.
The group will then embark on a tour of the Midwest and East Coast as the opening act for Blind Melon throughout October, and then open for Mofro at a series of dates in California, Oregon and Washington in early November.
"We've actually been playing these songs for about two and a half years," said Kyle Divine, who plays guitar and harmonica in the group. "A lot of them, we wrote and started performing before we actually recorded the album."
In addition to Divine, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band includes Dustin Apodaca (keyboards, accordion, vocals), Allen Van Orman (bass), Andrea Babinski (violin, mandolin, vocals), Edson Choi (guitar, banjo, vocals, sitar) and Eric Chirco (drums).
The seeds of the group were sewn when Divine (who shares lead vocal duties with Apodaca) moved to Orange County from Kansas in 2002. After meeting Apodaca and being impressed by his demo tapes, the two Cal State Fullerton students decided to try to blend their influences and start a band.
Divine was actually serving as the band's drummer when the troupe played live for the first time in 2003.
"At the time I was busy with school so I could only devote a small amount of time to this band thing so I thought 'I'll just play drums' and he played guitar," Divine said.
"And so we played a show or two like that and then we both started realizing together we had a really good (musical) chemistry and we should actually try to do something serious with it."
After recruiting Van Orman, it only took a few months to find the other members and complete a lineup that has remained the same for four years. Although all six band mates get along well, that doesn't mean being a member of the group is always easy.
"It's ridiculously hard getting all six people off for a show or getting all six people together for practice. And touring – we've done quite a bit of touring just on our own even when we were unsigned – and it's so difficult," Divine admitted.
The recording sessions for "First You Live" began in early 2006, and were produced by Ikie Owens (a member of Mars Volta and the Long Beach Dub Allstars) and ultimately won over execs at SideOneDummy Records.
From the country-western shout along "Keys to the Truck" and the 1970s-styled prog rocker "Street Fighter" to the shimmering alt-country gem "Goodnight, Moonshine" and fiddle-anchored rocking title track, the forthcoming "First You Live" is clearly one of the most exciting debuts of the year.
Divine credits the group's having three primary songwriters and a sextet that collectively bring a wealth of influences into the mix with making Dusty Rhodes and the River Band one of the most original-sounding acts to emerge out of Orange County this decade.
"I think that it (the diversity of the outfit's sound) just happens and I think it's great. And we work really well together … but its never been 'We have to sound different'; its never been forced. It's always like pushing ourselves to write better songs more than about making every song sound different."
Divine is the first to admit the band's single biggest influence is actually "The Last Waltz," Martin Scorsese's seminal documentary about the Band's final performance in 1976, a film that has reached a new audience since its release on DVD in May 2002.
"Well, when Dustin and I first started hanging out he brought over this DVD I had never seen before; I had never heard of the Band before and he brought over 'The Last Waltz' and he said 'Before we play music tonight, we need to watch this'," Divine recalled.
"And so we would drink beers and watch it and get all inspired and have to shut it off before it was over because 'Yeah, yeah!. That's what we want to do. That's the kind of music we want to make!' "
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band's first full-length release, "First You Live," is set for release by Los Angeles-based SideOneDummy Records on Oct. 9. But listeners will be able to pick up the 13-song collection a week early if they catch Dusty Rhodes and the River Band's CD release party at the Key Club, 9039 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night (Oct. 2). Admission to the concert is free.
Information: www.myspace.com/dustyrhodes.

Don't get me started; Rock Hall nominations

Even if I ever get to Cleveland, I can't think of many reasons to go to the Rock and Roll Hame of Fame. That rings true after the Associated Press announced today that Madonna is among this year's nominees. I'm sick.

While eligible and deserving artists such as Hall & Oates, Ringo Starr, Bruce Cockburn and the Cure have long been ignored, there is every liklihood that the class of 2008 ("the leading vote-getters will be inducted in the annual ceremony March 10, 2008, at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel" according to AP) will feature non-rockers like Madonna, Donna Summer and the Beastie Boys. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if in a crowded field of potential inductees that includes the likes of John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen and surf rock pioneers The Ventures, only one actual rock-styled artist gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. Ain't that a shame...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ubaldini flying into Swallows Inn for 2-nite stint

Like Neil Young, Michael Ubaldini is that rare singer-songwriter willing to explore a range of acoustic and electric styles at a prolific pace that defies the modern tactic of waiting years between new studio releases.

Since 1999, the Fountain Valley resident has released four full-length albums of new material. In addition, there was an outstanding 2006 collection (“Empty Bottles & Broken Guitar Strings”) that includes remastered early material, unreleased tracks and three new songs recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis. And earlier this year England-based Raucous Records released an expanded version of “The Mystery Train Sessions,” the essential Lee Rocker-produced 1994 debut that featured Ubaldini joined by guest artists such as guitarist Brian Setzer.

Now the Fountain Valley singer-songwriter is back with “Storybook,” a 12-song collection that bridges the gap between his acoustic-styled works (“Acoustic Rumble,” “American Blood”) and full band outings (“Avenue of 10 Cent Hearts”).

“I have in my head, to do albums like they used to do it – like the Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR put out two albums a year and put out a single in-between,” Ubaldini said.
“Now, they milk everything and it kills the music.”

Ubaldini’s “Storybook” is not necessarily crafted for the iTUNES generation or for those who want to download the flavor-of-the-month artist.
“The weird thing is the record is something you have to listen to start to finish; it’s kind of like the human condition of life. There is a lot of (imagery about) graveyards, tombstones, riverboats; ‘Apricot Wind’ is a story of the Civil War.”
“Storybook” explores themes such as life, death and war set against a backdrop of timeless American landscapes, with the songs presented courtesy of sparse arrangements featuring Ubaldini’s voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica, as well as Kirk Brown on pedal steel and fiddle and Jerry Adamos on piano and organ.
Ubaldini’s seemingly-endless travels provide him with an inexhaustible resource of experiences to put into songs.

“I like the way they (the songs) all flow together,” said Ubaldini. “There has always been a tradition in American music, a mystery to it all. The mystery coming out of the soil. I feel like I’m getting these songs; whatever I’m tapped into, it’s that American soil.”
The disc’s gentle landscape is positioned somewhere between the beauty of Neil Young’s “Prairie Wind” and John Mellencamp’s solemn “Human Wheels.”
Songs such as the alt country-styled “Side By Side,” blues-tinged “Honeysuckle Dew” and folk ballad “Sweet Autumn Rain” are among the many highlights on “Storybook.”
“I sang the songs live along with my acoustic guitar,” Ubaldini said of the “Storybook” sessions completed at Adamos Recording in January 2007. “There is not an effect on the vocals, everything is natural. I wanted it to be a real sound. Everything is so sterile these days. I think the public wants good honest records.
“It’s a quiet record, but there is still an edge to it.”
Michael Ubaldini will perform at Swallows Inn, 31786 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 28.
Admission is free.
Information: 949-493-3188.

Monday, September 17, 2007

K-Earth concert in Irvine showcases 'Golden Oldies'

PHOTO: Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers performed at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007. Photo credit: Christina House


(Review and photo originally published in the Orange County Register on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007)

Review: A wide-ranging mix of feel good-styled hits is delivered courtesy of a strong mix of classic artists.

By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

Based on the festive atmosphere at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday night (Sept. 15, 2007), it seems like a good bet that many of the fans who attended the K-Earth 101 35th Anniversary Concert were in a mood to party.
I don't recall any other event in recent memory where the radio station deejays received the rousing welcome that the near-capacity crowd gave the K-Earth hosts early in the evening.
The event began in the late afternoon when it was still hot, but temperatures dropped precipitously as the night went on likely leading to many fans' decision to leave before Chicago finished the event just before 11:30 p.m.

However, that alone couldn't mar a line-up that worked despite the seemingly contradictory styles on the bill.
I've seen headliner Chicago a number of times over the past decade and the eight-member troupe can be uneven depending on the day. During its 90-minute headlining set here, the group was clearly up to the challenge in playing before a large crowd on a bill with other established artists.
Singer-keyboardist Robert Lamm sounded better than anytime in memory, delivering strong versions of signature hits such as the poignant "Colour My World" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" During one of the band's best-known songs, "Saturday in the Park," Lamm came out front with a small, portable keyboard and fronted the band to good effect.
The group also closed with a strong seven-minute version of the classic rocker "25 or 6 to 4," allowing lead guitarist Keith Howland and the strong three-man horn section to display plenty of firepower to close out a strong set.

However, it was the Doobie Brothers that performed the most pleasing and compelling set of the night. Playing a dozen songs over the course of an hour, the group played hits while also offering up lesser-known material that showcased the varied influences of the seven-member outfit.
From the gospel-styled "Jesus Is Just Alright" (complete with the group's full harmonies delivered in tandem with frontman Patrick Simmons' blazing guitar licks), swamp rock of "Black Water" and the two-guitar instrumental gem "Five Corners," the Doobies' set never faltered. Other highlights included straightforward versions of "China Grove" and "Listen to the Music" that got many in the audience to their feet.

War played only 30 minutes, but that was enough time for lead singer Lonnie Jordan (the only remaining original member of the group) and company to play singalong hits such as "The Cisco Kid," "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "Low Rider."

With the Stylistics' sound built around ballads delivered courtesy of singer Eban Brown's falsetto, the group's Philly blend of vocal soul might seem a better fit with Hall & Oates then on this bill. But songs such as the contagious "You Are Everything" and sweet love song "You Make Me Feel Brand New" worked remarkably well.

Opening the show were the Four Tops, one of the best purveyors of the classic Motown sound. The four-man vocal group and a strong backing 12-member band blasted through hits such as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Bernadette" and "Baby I Need Your Loving." It was one of the fastest 30-minute spans I can remember.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Geno Delafose: Everybody's gonna be dancin'


Whether performing at a dancehall in their native Louisiana or at a 4th of July festival on the beach in Southern California, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie has been championing authentic zydeco music since the early 1990s. The talented troupe will perform two special shows in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007.


A native of Eunice, a small town located in the heart of Southwest Louisiana’s bayou country, Delafose has been performing for most of his life. He got his start at the age of seven, playing the rubboard with his father’s ensemble (John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys), later learning how to play drums and then accordion.


So when the then-22-year-old Geno Delafose released his debut solo disc “French Rockin’ Boogie” on Rounder Records in January 1994, he already had 15 years of playing and touring experience. The accordion-playing Creole musician has since cemented his legacy with countless concert appearances and the release of celebrated albums such as 1998’s “La Chanson Perdue” and 2003’s “Everybody’s Dancin’.” His most recent album, “Le Cowboy Creole,” was released Aug. 14 and features 15 wonderful tracks, including a fiery cover of Van Morrison’s “Domino.”
Armed with his strong singing skills (using both Creole French and English) and virtuoso talents playing the accordion, Delafose was awarded Best Zydeco Artist at the 2003 Big Easy Awards in New Orleans. Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie play Creole standards, two-step dance numbers, blues, soul and traditional waltzes with equal authenticity.


Delafose continues to divide his time between touring and operating his Double D Ranch outside of Eunice; there he breeds cattle and raises quarter horses.
Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie will perform at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.
Tickets are $10 ($5 for children under 12).
Information: 949-248-7469.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Old Blind Dogs bring Scotland sounds to O.C.


There are few folk troupes as bold as Scotland’s Old Blind Dogs. Indeed, the celebrated ensemble was named “Folk Band of the Year” at the prestigious Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004.
Old Blind Dogs will perform at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library on Saturday, celebrating the release of the group’s tenth full-length CD, “Four on the Floor” (released by Compass Records on July 17).

“Four on the Floor” is a 12-track collection that finds the Scottish quartet deftly expanding the reaches of its sonic universe. Tracks range from the rhythm-defying “Harris Dance” and beautiful, fiddle-anchored cover of Davie Robertson’s “Star O’ the Bar” to the aptly titled “Jigs” and haunting “Gaelic Song.”

Old Blind Dogs boasts plenty of musical firepower thanks to the talents of Jonny Hardie (fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals), Aaron Jones (bass, Bouzouki, guitar and vocals), Rory Campbell (pipes, whistles and vocals) and Fraser Stone (drums, percussion). And while many folk groups are reluctant to explore new ground 15 years into their careers, the members of Old Blind Dogs challenge themselves with each new recording and at every performance. In April 2007, Old Blind Dogs performed two special shows in the group’s hometown of Aberdeen marking the 15th anniversary of the band that were filmed for a special DVD release that should be available later this year.

In addition to the excellent “Four on the Floor,” recommended recordings from Old Blind Dogs include “Play Live” (recorded during the group’s 2004 tour in the U.S.), “The Gab o Mey” (2003), “The World’s Room” (1999) and “Five” (1997).
Old Blind Dogs will perform at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, Sept. 8.
Tickets are $10 ($5 for children under 12).
Information: 949-493-3984.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Gráda to play in San Juan Capistrano on Sept. 1


Acclaimed Celtic music group Gráda will perform two shows as part of the San Juan Capistrano Multicultural Arts Series on Saturday evening, Sept. 1, 2007.

The talented quintet is performing at San Juan Capistrano Regional Library on the heels of the release of "Cloudy Day Navigation," an impressive two-disc collection featuring a 12-song CD and a bonus six-song DVD featuring a wonderful live performance by the group filmed at the Temple Bar Music Centre in Dublin on Aug. 10, 2006.

The CD features outstanding songs ("Red Civic," "Cooler at the Edge," "River"), as well as breathtaking instrumental selections ("Carousel of Life," "Fifty-ninth Street," "Maria Letizia's").
Gráda includes Alan Doherty (flutes, whistles, vocals, percussion), Andrew Laking (double bass, vocals, guitar), Colin Farrell (fiddle, whistle), Gerry Paul (guitars, vocals) and Nicola Joyce (vocals, bodhran).

The group's wide-ranging talent displayed across "Cloudy Day Navigation" should come as no surprise considering the strong skills of the individual members who make up the troupe. New Zealand native Laking has a wide-ranging background playing Irish and jazz music, while flautist Doherty first gained worldwide fame as a lead soloist on Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack. Ireland natives Joyce and Paul and Manchester, England's Farrell all participated in thriving regional Irish music scenes before forming Gráda six years ago.

An eclectic mix of performers including Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, Damien Dempsey, Damien Rice and Bill Whelan have all utilized members from Gráda's ranks. The group's discography includes 2007's "Cloudy Day Navigation," as well as the group's 2004 debut "The Landing Step" and 2005's "Endeavour."

Fans of seminal Irish music artists such as Solas will be thrilled by Gráda's musicianship and performance skills in concert.
Gráda will perform at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007.
Tickets are $10 ($5 for children under 12).
Information: 949-248-7469

Thursday, August 23, 2007

‘Ally McBeal’ songstress Vonda Shepard


Vonda Shepard is back.

After taking more than a year off to have a baby, the acclaimed singer-songwriter is completing work on a new album and will kick off a handful of intimate shows this summer when she plays at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano Saturday.

“I started playing (Los Angeles area) clubs, playing original music when I was 14,” Shepard said in a recent phone interview. “I played for 10 years before I got signed.”

By the time Shepard was signed to her first major label contract with Reprise Records in 1987, she had already paid her dues as a backup singer and keyboardist for both Rickie Lee Jones and Al Jarreau.

Shepard released a self-titled debut in 1989, as well a 1992 follow-up, “The Radical Light,” before being dropped from the label. But her story clearly didn’t end there.

She continued to perform in the Los Angeles area and in 1996 released an independent album “It’s Good, Eve” that also helped connect her with an ever-growing fan base, including famed TV producer David E. Kelley. Shepard’s music was introduced to a global audience once she became a fixture on Kelley’s “Ally McBeal” series (which ran 1997-2002).

“It gave me a career all over the world,” said Shepard, noting she has been able to perform across the U.S. and overseas while selling more than 12 million records worldwide.

“The other side is a lot of people want to hear ‘Tell Him’ (Shepard’s version of the Exciters’ 1960s hit was featured on 1998’s “Songs from Ally McBeal” album).” There are songs from early in Shepard’s career, including material she sang on the show, that still find a regular place on her set list. Her remakes of “You Belong to Me” and “Walk Away Renee” are selections she still enjoys performing, but it is her own “Maryland” that remains a personal favorite.

“I feel that song every time I play it,” Shepard admitted. Her most recent albums include 1999’s “By 7:30,” 2002’s “Chinatown,” as well as the aptly-titled “Live – A Retrospective” released in 2005.

“I only have three songs left to go,” said Shepard, adding she hopes her forthcoming album is available by Christmas. “I do really look forward to the new album being finished.”

Those attending her show in San Juan Capistrano will get to hear at least three new songs that have been recorded and are set be included on her forthcoming project.

“I have to play them,” she said.

Shepard and Brooke Ramel will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. Saturday, August 25. (For those who can’t make that show, she is also scheduled to finish her five-date tour at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 29).

Tickets, available at the Coach House box office, are $25.

Information: 949-496-8930.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rusty Anderson to perform at O.C. Pavilion on Aug. 24

Originally printed Aug. 17, 2007 in the Orange County Register
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

Rusty Anderson is coming home.
Although the celebrated singer-guitarist has performed at a handful of intimate shows in Orange County since his acclaimed debut "Undressing Underwater" was released by Surfdog Records in 2005, his performance at OC Pavilion on Aug. 24 marks his first time headlining a major venue in Orange County as a solo artist.
The La Habra High School graduate admitted there is still a special feeling whenever he performs in Orange County.
"First of all, it's a beautiful theater and it has great lighting and sound," said Anderson, who has played in Paul McCartney's band since 2001. "It's going to be a longer show and there will be special guests. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of that (theater-styled) setup. And because I grew up in Orange County, it's going to be extra exciting to play this one."
Anderson explained how much McCartney enjoyed playing the cozy confines of New York's Highline Ballroom and Amoeba Records in Hollywood earlier this summer compared to the arenas and stadiums they usually play together. And while Anderson has enjoyed performing at clubs such as the legendary Viper Room in Hollywood and a record release party at Pepperland Music in Orange with his band, he is thrilled to perform in a larger setting where he can deliver a bigger show for his area fans.
"I think it has rubbed off in some ways, hopefully," said Anderson, when asked about the experience of playing with McCartney for more than six years.
"Being in so many situations – from recording at Abbey Road Studios to playing in Red Square - and just getting out and seeing the world a bit, I have learned a lot of things that I'm probably not even aware of," he admitted. "But, yeah, I think it has certainly made me feel comfortable on stage if nothing else."
In addition to his continuing role as a member of McCartney's band, Anderson's guitar playing is featured across a wide range of recent releases including on Elton John's "Songs From The West Coast", Regina Spektor's "Begin to Hope," Joe Cocker's "Respect Yourself," Dido's "Life for Rent," Carole King's "Love Makes the World" and Gwen Stefani's "Love. Angel. Music. Baby", Cat Stevens' "An Other Cup" and Jewel's "0304."
When it comes to his solo career, Anderson is a talented guitar virtuoso and could easily chart a course in the sonic footsteps of Gary Hoey, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. On "Undressing Underwater," Anderson's dazzling fretwork is almost-always used in the service of songs such as the tuneful "Hurt Myself" (McCartney plays bass and sings backup vocals on that track) psychedelia-tinged "Devil's Spaceship" and driving surf rocker "Catbox Beach" (featuring Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Ednaswap bassist Paul Bushnell).
In addition to singing lead vocals and playing guitar, "Undressing Underwater" found Anderson playing keyboards, pedal steel guitar, tambourine and even hammered dulcimer across the disc.
"Well, I'm always exploring; all I do is explore," Anderson said when asked about material he is writing and recording for his next project.
"I'm always sort of torn between trying to make things different because if something is unique you can't compare it to anything else. And then I think, 'Well all that matters is that it's good.' So I kind of vacillate back and forth between those two things."
Rusty Anderson and Fountain Valley-based singer-songwriter Michael Ubaldini will perform at the OC Pavilion, 801 N. Main St., Santa Ana, at 8 p.m. on Aug. 24.
Information: www.ocpavilion.com.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Richie Furay, Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen coming to Coach House

There is sure to be plenty of sonic magic when three legendary talents linked with the birth of country rock perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night, August 17.

Richie Furay (a founding member of both Buffalo Springfield and Poco), Chris Hillman (an original member of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band) and Herb Pedersen (the Desert Rose Band) are set to play on the same bill, bringing together their collective skills as songwriters, singers and musicians for a celebration of a style of music that paved the way for the Eagles, as well as modern day champions such as Carbon Leaf.

Hillman undertook his own musical trek in 1963 as a young mandolin player in the bluegrass band, the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, but he was to find even greater fame as an original member of the Byrds and with his contributions on classics such as “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Eight Miles High.” After the release of the seminal album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” in 1968, Hillman and fellow Byrds member Gram Parsons left to form the Flying Burrito Brothers (speaking of the Flying Burritos Brothers, Amoeba Records is releasing a 2-CD set titled "Gram Parsons Archive Vol 1: The Fying Burrito Brothers LIVE at the Avalon Ballroom 1969" in October 2007).

Hillman found further success with the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s. His contributions to the Byrds will be among the many highlights of a forthcoming 2-disc DVD titled “The Byrds Under Review” set for release next month.

Furay’s career is also one who emerged during the Southern California rock explosion of the 1960s, when he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Neil Young in 1967. After that group disbanded, Furay and Jim Messina formed the countryrock group Poco. Furay and Hillman began working together when they teamed with J.D. Souther in the Souther Hillman Furay Band. That 1970s trio released several wonderful albums, including 1976’s “Slippin’ Away” and 1977’s “Clear Sailin’.” Furay returned to the spotlight earlier this year with the release of a new solo album, “The Heartbeat of Love.” Notable guests appearing on Furay’s latest disc include Timothy B. Schmit (Poco, the Eagles), Kenny Loggins and aforementioned Young and Stills.

Pedersen has been an active part of the Los Angeles and Nashville area recording scenes for 35 years, having utilized his tenor voice, as well as his equally-strong 5-string banjo and guitar playing talents on recordings for Emmylou Harris, Gordon Lightfoot, the late John Denver, Linda Ronstadt and Martina McBride. And as a member of the successful Desert Rose Band, he saw songs such as “Love Reunited,” “One Step Forward” and “Start All Over Again” score high on the country music charts.

Richie Furay, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17. Tickets are $30.
Information: 949-496-8930.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Deep Pruple, Blue Öyster Cult deliver taste of nostalgia


Photo taken by Kelly A. Swift
Photo information: Bassist Roger Glover and singer Ian Gillan of the classic rock band Deep Purple performed at the Pacific Amphitheatre on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007.
(Story below originally published on www.ocregister.com on Monday, Aug. 13, 2007)
Review: The final installment of Pacific Amphitheatre's summer concert series a heavy metal fan's dream.
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register
The first time I caught Deep Purple in the early 1980s, the British hard rockers definitely lived up to their ear-bleeding reputation (the outfit was once credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's loudest band).
On Sunday night, it was a decidedly more mature quintet that headlined at the final concert of the Pacific Amphitheatre's 2007 summer concert series.
Although the lineup of Deep Purple no longer features guitarist Ritchie Blackmore or keyboardist Jon Lord, the band gave the animated crowd a solid and strong performance that was a credit to the influential troupe's legacy.
Ian Gillan can't hit as many high notes as he did in the 1970s and early '80s, but his voice remains a melodic instrument up to the challenge and he has never looked happier on stage. The barefoot Gillan danced and moved with the music throughout the band's 90-minute set, and proved himself to be a personable frontman, able to keep things together on stage while involving the audience in sing-alongs and cheering on his band mates.
The set list was a heavy metal fan's dream, with the band playing well-known hits ("Space Truckin,' " "Smoke on the Water" and night-ending "Hush") and newer material such as "Rapture of the Deep." Longtime guitarist Steve Morse (who replaced Joe Satriani in 1994) is one of the world's best electric guitarists and his playing was exhilarating throughout the set, notably during an instrumental solo leading into "Knocking at Your Back Door." Both Morse and keyboardist Don Airey shined during the bluesy "Lazy," where they displayed their skills around Gillan's blues harmonica playing.
Bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paige continue to bring fire to Deep Purple's sound, as evidenced by the heavy hypnotic power of "Perfect Strangers" and racing "Highway Star."

Blue Öyster Cult may not have Deep Purple's deep catalog of hits, but what the band does have is guitar virtuoso Buck Dharma. His playing was so inventive that it brought life to many of the lesser-known selections featured in the group's 45-minute set.
Highlights of the five-member band's stint were a driving "Burnin' for You" with both Dharma and Eric Bloom singing the song together to give it a layered sound, and a dynamic "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."
Although the kind of skillful guitar playing displayed by Dharma has fallen out of favor in modern rock circles, he truly delivered a clinic how to push the electric guitar to its limits that seemed to please not only longtime fans of the band, but a number of teens and twentysomethings sitting at the show.

While Edgar Winter's appearance at the end of the night (he played saxophone with Deep Purple during "Smoke on the Water") was welcome, his 30-minute opening set was a strictly by-the-numbers affair except during a funky and energetic "Free Ride."

Paul Rodgers, the Doors do justice to their pasts

Originally published on www.ocregister.com on Sunday, August 12, 2007

Review: Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger delivered moments of magic, but the Bad Company/Free vocalist lived up to top billing with a crowd-pleaser.
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

One of the greatest bands of all time, the Doors left behind recordings that are a collective part of rock 'n' roll consciousness. Fans are not only deeply familiar with the melodies sung by the late Jim Morrison, they even know the extended keyboard solos crafted by Ray Manzarek and the flamenco-tinged fretwork immortalized by Robby Krieger.

Since Morrison's death in 1971, the Doors' music has had a lasting impact with audiences, rare and previously unavailable recordings still seeping into the marketplace (the latest from the band is Rhino Records' impressive two-disc "Live in Boston 1970," released just last month).
Further keeping the flame alive is Riders on the Storm, a tribute of sorts featuring Manzarek, Krieger and one-time Fuel singer Brett Scallions. (The Cult's frontman Ian Astbury was on board when this revivalist concept emerged as the Doors of the 21st Century earlier this decade.)

How carefully these Riders recreate the Doors experience in the '00s – as it attempted to do for nearly an hour Saturday night (Aug. 11, 2007) at Pacific Amphitheatre – likely may be a matter of debate, but Scallions is clearly a kindred spirit of the late Morrison. His thin frame, black attire and fluid stage movements helped bring plenty of energy to this performance.
His routine eventually faltered because his own voice failed as a substitute for Morrison's deep and resonant baritone. But the good news for Doors fans was that both Manzarek and Krieger were in excellent form, replicating and improvising around timeless riffs and melodies from "Break on Through," "Light My Fire" and "L.A. Woman" (the latter two both clocked in at around 10 minutes apiece).

But headliner Paul Rodgers was clearly the winner this night. Back to his solo ways after a well-received tour fronting Queen – and backed by a strong four-man band, with kudos to the dual guitar attack of Howard Leese and Kurtis Dengler – Rodgers performed his best-known hits from both Bad Company and Free during an 80-minute performance.
Long recognized as one of rock's greatest vocalists, Rodgers proved it again and again here with pitch-perfect renditions of "Rock and Roll Fantasy" and even more challenging fare, such as "Can't Get Enough," "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Saving Grace." His set only gained momentum as the night wore on, and his vocal firepower was up to the challenge, leading the crowd through sing-alongs during "Shooting Star," "All Right Now" and "Bad Company."

But Rodgers really sealed the deal with an amazing vocal display during a cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Little Wing," bringing both heartfelt emotion and dynamics to the piece.
Canadian singer-guitarist Pat Travers opened the night with a pleasing set of hard-rocking blues. Though most known for his cover of Stan Lewis' "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)," that audience favorite was outdistanced by newer material such as "Crash and Burn" and "I Don't Care."

Sgt. Pepper's brought to life at the Hollywood Bowl

Originally posted online at www.ocregister.com on Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cheap Trick, Joan Osborne, Aimee Mann and others perform the Beatles' masterpiece and other Fab Four favorites with a symphony orchestra.
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register
It's hard to imagine a musical landscape without the Beatles. Almost from the moment the Fab Four burst on the international scene in 1964, the group's songs, distinctive sound and style had an impact not only on modern music, but on the world.
The Beatles scored a number of triumphs across the 1960s, but the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on June 1, 1967 changed the pop universe in ways still felt four decades later.
A loving and fully-realized tribute to that masterwork, "Sgt. Pepper's at 40…a Beatles Celebration" brought a capacity crowd to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, Aug. 10 (to be staged again on Saturday night). Under the direction of conductor Edwin Outwater, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and house band Cheap Trick were joined by a group of other artists in a two-hour program that was divided into two sections, with various well-known songs from albums such as "Rubber Soul," "The White Album," "Magical Mystery Tour," "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road" performed early in the night, while "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was played in its entirety after the intermission.
Most of the selections played during the concert were never actually performed in concert by the Beatles when they were together, so the opportunity to see a talented line-up of players such as Aimee Mann, Joan Osborne, Ian Ball and Rob Laufer deliver performances of the classics with the accompaniment of a full orchestra allowed most of the performers to put their own stamp on the selections while honoring the original recordings.
Since the late 1970s, Cheap Trick has been one of the hardest working bands in America, performing at clubs, arenas and festivals while recording terrific collections blending power pop, punk and modern rock. The band's performance on Friday allowed a chance to focus on its musical chops and interpretive skills.
From the opening song of the night ("Magical Mystery Tour") to a medley from "Abbey Road" that closed the first half of the show, singer Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, drummer Bun E. Carlos and bassist Tom Petersson provided powerful renditions of the songs. And while Cheap Trick and Gomez singer Ian Ball (whose orchestra-anchored "Strawberry Fields Forever" was among the highlights of the night) were mostly faithful to the originals in terms of arrangements, performances by Osborne (R&B styled takes on "Lady Madonna" and "The Long and Winding Road") and Mann (a beautifully fragile "Blackbird") displayed that even when reworked, the Beatles' songs continue to work their magic.
The performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" remains a challenge and no doubt it took significant planning to get the classically trained orchestra in sync with a group of rock players and even a six-member group of musicians playing Indian instruments such as sitar, tabla and double violin during a memorable "Within You Without You" (ably sung by Rob Laufer).
While the performance of the 13-song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was revisited with mostly strong results, there were wrinkles, such as during "Good Morning Good Morning" on which the mix of sound effects, orchestra and Cheap Trick didn't blend perfectly. Yet, the inclusive presentation worked, with Mann, Osborne and Ball also getting to take the lead on various tracks from the album.
The tour de force of the night rightfully came during "A Day in the Life," with a marvelously chilling lead vocal from Zander delivered against a dramatic soundscape of his band and a full orchestra that left an undeniable impression and had many in the crowd immediately rise to their feet when the final chord of the work was struck.
The entire ensemble of singers and musicians were called back for an encore, performing "All You Need Is Love," the perfect song to reinforce the spirit of a special night not soon forgotten.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jennifer Warnes' masterpiece gets its due

Posted at www.ocregister.com on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007


A 20th anniversary reissue of 'Famous Blue Raincoat,' her album of songs by Leonard Cohen, is treasure.
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

There was a fateful series of events that led Jennifer Warnes to record her 1987 masterwork "Famous Blue Raincoat." The collection of songs by singer-poet Leonard Cohen was rightfully included in many critics' top 10 lists at the end of that year, but had long been out of print until it was reissued in an exceptional 20th anniversary edition by Shout! Factory on Aug. 7.
Warnes, a two-time Grammy winner who grew up in Anaheim and Fullerton, recently talked by phone from her home in Los Angeles about the long-awaited re-release of the tour de force, which has been beautifully remastered from the original analog tapes and also includes four previously unreleased tracks.

"This record, on one hand it's the recording of a friendship that has lasted until now (more than 35 years)," explained Warnes, 60, who began working with Cohen as a backup singer in the early 1970s.

"On the other hand, it's an interpreter's art … what does this say about the interpretive arts that a woman can get inside a man."
When asked about the challenge of selecting which Cohen songs to tackle, Warnes explained "some of the lyrics fit a woman better," while also noting that some of the songs just proved to be a better fit with her style of singing.
In addition to completely reworking Cohen-penned songs such as "First We Take Manhattan," "Bird on a Wire" and the exquisite title track, the album features the confessional ballad "Song of Bernadette" with lyrics co-written by Cohen and Warnes. Clocking in at eight minutes, "Joan of Arc" is a wonderful and introspective work on which Cohen's emotive baritone and Warnes' soprano are featured in a pairing that is pure magic.

The critical acclaim that greeted the release of "Famous Blue Raincoat" two decades ago also paved the way for a new appreciation of Cohen, whose 1988 album "I'm Your Man" revisited several of the selections on Warnes' tribute that was released a year before.
Audiophiles will quickly note the sound of the album is luxurious without being over-produced.
"One of the mistakes of (some recordings) is they leave in a lot of stuff that the listener has to work really hard to hear. And I got tired of having to work hard to hear things," she explained.
"Maybe the horns were covering up the vocals; especially in the '70s and '80s. The recording techniques were you just threw a bunch of stuff on there and hoped people liked it. And Roscoe (Roscoe Beck and Warnes co-produced the album) and I shared the same desire that we would personally do all the work of listening so our listeners could sit down in an easy chair and luxuriate."

In addition to members of the touring band that Cohen was using during that time, "Famous Blue Raincoat" also features guest appearances by legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, whose distinctive style of blues guitar is heard on a scorching "First We Take Manhattan."
"Stevie was a friend of Roscoe," explained Warnes, recalling that Beck befriended Vaughan when the guitarist moved to Austin.

"So Roscoe wanted Stevie on it and when Stevie was playing at the Grammys; after the Grammy Awards were over he came over to the studio and did that without ever having heard the song before. He did it live."
With the re-release of "Famous Blue Raincoat," it's clear that there may be a welcome spotlight aimed at Warnes. Despite the commercial success of her 1982 duet with Joe Cocker on "Up Where We Belong" for the film "An Officer and a Gentleman" in 1982, as well as "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" recorded with Bill Medley for "Dirty Dancing" in 1987, wonderful albums such as 1992's "The Hunter" and 2001's "The Well" have been overlooked.

She continues to be a sought-after vocalist and is featured on a number of recent releases, including on Chris Hillman's latest disc "The Other Side," a duet with Jorge Calderon of "Keep Me In Your Heart" for a Warren Zevon tribute and guest vocals on Jackson Browne's "Going Home" album. Her most recent recording is a solo performance of "Blue Mountains of Mexico," a track that will appear on "The Gift: Tribute to Ian Tyson" this year.

Of "Famous Blue Raincoat," Warnes offers up the perfect single-sentence review: "We were in one of those vortex moments where everything was falling into place."

For more information on "Famous Blue Raincoat," visit www.shoutfactory.com. For more details about all of Warnes' recordings, visit www.JenniferWarnes.com.

Newvale to play in band's own backyard this weekend


If Newvale had no other distinction than being fronted by one-time Something Corporate guitarist Reuben Hernandez, that alone might well be enough to get the San Clemente-based quartet some notice.

But the fact that Newvale has released an EP of songs that equals his old band’s best efforts makes listening to the four tracks on “Summer’s Gone” an unexpected thrill. Add to that unlikely scenario that the music sounds little like Something Corporate and many discerning listeners will be amazed.
The band was formed in December 2005 and began playing high-profile shows in 2006 at venues such as the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana and the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Newvale will be performing a highly-anticipated hometown concert at the San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival on Sunday, Aug. 12.

Newvale’s debut debut CD was recorded at Lendroma Studio in September 2006 with producer Kelly Winrich (best known as the drummer of San Clemente-based rock group Bril) and it took a mere 2-1/2 days to track the memorable title track “Summer’s Gone,” as well as “Explosions in the Distance,” “Flowers and Parking Tickets” and “Our Thursday.”
Newvale clearly sounds modern, with “Summer’s Gone” recalling recent work from Snow Patrol and Coldplay, but there is a laid-back, melodic vibe that may have something to do with the beach lifestyle enjoyed by the band. Think of it as a cross between Jack’s Mannequin and Sugar Ray with a bit of Dashboard Confessional thrown into the sonic mix.

“Lyrically, I want to write songs that are honest and inspire people,” Hernandez said in an interview earlier this year.
Newvale will perform a free show at the San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival (to be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Avenida Del Mar in downtown San Clemente) on Aug. 12. Others groups scheduled to perform at the event include Cash’d Out (a tribute to Johnny Cash), Flock of 80’s, Crush, the Matt Kenney Band, Entice, Gratitude and Carry the Zero.
For more information on Newvale, visit www.MySpace.com/Newvale.