Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Cult set to release 'Choice of Weapon' in May

Here is an exciting update that landed in my inbox since I last checked in. Enjoy!

The Cult, left to right, features Billy Duffy, Chris Wyse, Ian Astbury, John Tempesta

One of the finest British rock acts to have enjoyed worldwide success over the last few decades, The Cult has wrapped up recording Choice of Weapon, the group's first studio album in five years. The album is set for a May 22, 2012 U.S. release on the band's new label Cooking Vinyl, and its 10 tracks reveal the band at its rawest and most visceral, encapsulating cinematic visions and themes of love, revolt, and redemption. Fans can get an early taste of the album by logging onto the band's website - www.thecult.us - where the track "Lucifer" is now available as a free download.

Choice of Weapon is the follow up to the critically-acclaimed 2007 release Born Into This that the UK's Mojo magazine called "a wholehearted, utopian and irrefutably exciting record." Long-time Cult collaborator and producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bush), who produced one of The Cult's most successful albums, the Platinum-certified Sonic Temple, put the finishing touches on the foundations that were laid by co-producer Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, U.N.K.L.E., Masters of Reality).

The album was written by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, recorded in New York City, Los Angeles, the California high desert, and the band's Witch Mountain studio between July and December 2011. The new release features founding members Astbury on vocals and Duffy on guitars, with drummer John Tempesta and bassist Chris Wyse. "We have had the opportunity to work with two of the most influential and talented producers in the world today," said Astbury. "They pushed us beyond our comfort zone, and helped us craft Choice of Weapon."

Choice of Weapon is aimed at the heart of The Cult's loyal following. It reflects the current discontent and destruction of our eco systems, the search for individual meaning against a tide of rampant materialism, narcissism and disconnected lives. "We went deeper . . . we worked a bit harder on this record. We have great fans and they deserve our best," added Duffy, "and I feel this is as strong as any album we have ever released.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sights and Sounds: The Cranberries, Garbage, The Lumineers

Where did the weekend go? Well, here's some good news to kick the week off right courtesy of some timely releases that have landed in my inbox.

Most of my favorite bands to emerge during the 1990s were not of the grunge variety. Like DADA, Garbage and Toad the Wet Sprocket (three other bands I discovered during that decade), The Cranberries wrote powerful rock that was creative and boasted more textures and artful arrangements than most outfits to emerge out of the Northwest (hey Pearl Jam fans, I'm with yah!).

The Irish band is set to release Roses, its first new studio album in more than a decade, on Feb. 28, 2012. Issued by Cooking Vinyl/Downtown Records, Roses was produced by Stephen Street (Blur, The Smiths).

While waiting to pick up the new album, can visit The Cranberries' official Web site and view the official video of "Tomorrow," the first single from the new album.

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

For more details, visit www.Cranberries.com.




Garbage has announced that their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind Of People, will be released in the United States on May 15, 2012, on the band's label STUNVOLUME. As V Magazine recently put it: "The poster girl for '90s alternative rock is ready to reclaim her reign - and the radio - with a new record from her iconic band, Garbage."

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

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

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

See below for full list of dates confirmed so far.

Garbage 2012 Tour Dates*

Headlining Tour Dates

9th London, England Troxy

11th St. Petersburg, Russia Jubilenyi Hall

12th Moscow, Russia Crocus City Hall

16th Paris, France Olympia

Festival Tour Dates


16th Hultsfred, Sweden Hultsfred Festival

17th Aarhus, Denmark Northside Festival

22nd Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany Southside Festival

23rd Scheessel, Germany Hurricane Festival, Red Stage

28th Werchter, Belgium Rock Werchter, Pyramid Marquee

* more dates to be announced

After forming in Madison, WI, Garbage released their self-titled debut album in 1995 and rode a wave of visually arresting, female-fronted alternative rock bands. The album spawned the hit singles "Stupid Girl" and "Only Happy When It Rains" and was certified double platinum in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The band won the Breakthrough Artist Award at the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards, and was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy® Award. Their second album, Version 2.0, was released in 1998 and topped the charts in the United Kingdom. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. 2001's Beautiful Garbage was named one of Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 10 Albums Of The Year. In 2005, Garbage released Bleed Like Me, earning the band it's highest chart position with a No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. In 2007, the band released a retrospective collection called Absolute Garbage. Garbage has sold over 12 million albums worldwide. They have performed in over 35 countries and will tour extensively worldwide in support of this new release.

The Lumineers Announce Self-Titled Debut Album

Band Signs to Dualtone

The Lumineers Be Released on April 3

Touring In US March and April

Denver band The Lumineers are proud to announce the release of their self-titled debut album, out on April 3rd via Dualtone. The band's style of emotive, powerful folk-rock has garnered comparisons to Edward Sharpe and Mumford and Sons, and is in line with Dualtone's history of supporting talented folk acts. The album was produced and mixed by Ryan Hadlock (Foo Fighters, Ra Ra Riot, Metric) at Bear Creek Studios, with additional mixing by Kevin Augunas (The Black Keys, Cold War Kids, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) at Fairfax Recordings, and follows the band's eponymous self-recorded EP that was released earlier in 2011.

The Lumineers will be touring in support of the debut, beginning in March and playing through the end of April. The tour will start along the West Coast with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, and will run through other major markets including Chicago, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. For a full list of tour dates, please see below.

Off the strength of a self released EP the band was named one of the 20 best new bands of 2011 by Paste Magazine:


The band also played at World Café, which you can check out at NPR here:


The Lumineers were formed by Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites in New York. Their story begins in 2002, the year Jeremiah's brother and Wesley's long-time best friend, Josh, died from a drug overdose at 19. Amidst the loss and grief, Wes and Jeremiah came together and found solace in music, writing songs and playing gigs around New York. After battling the city's cutthroat music scene and impossibly high cost of living, the two decided to expand their horizons. They packed everything they owned and headed for Denver, Colorado. It was less a pilgrimage than act of stubborn hopefulness.

The first thing they did in Denver was place a Craigslist ad for a cellist, and the first person to respond was Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained Denver native. As a trio, they began playing at the Meadowlark, a gritty basement club where the city's most talented songwriters gathered every Tuesday for an open mic and dollar PBRs. Neyla softened Wes and Jeremiah's rough edges while expanding her skills to mandolin and piano. And so The Lumineers sound took shape; an amalgam of heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop, and front-porch folk.

The Lumineers Tour Dates

Wed-Mar-21 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Thu-Mar-22 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hotel Café

Sat-Mar-24 - San Francisco, CA @ Café Du Nord

Sun-Mar-25 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place

Thu-Mar-29 - Eugene, OR @ Axe & Fiddle

Fri-Mar-30 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

Sat-Mar-31 - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern

Sun-Apr-01 - Vancouver, BC @ Media Club

Wed-Apr-04 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux

Thu-Apr-05 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room

Fri-Apr-06 - Bellvue, CO @ Misawaka Indoors

Sat-Apr-7 - Boulder, CO @ Shug's

Mon-Apr-09 - Ames, IA @ The Maintenance Shop

Wed-Apr-11 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

Thu-Apr-12 - Madison, WI @ The Frequency

Fri-Apr-13 - Chicago/Evanston, IL @ SPACE

Tue-Apr-17 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Lounge

Wed-Apr-18 - Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse

Thu-Apr-19 - Fairfield, CT @ StageOne

Fri-Apr-20 - Berklee, MA @ Café 939 (festival)

Sat-Apr-21 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Sun-Apr-22 - Vienna, VA @ Jammin' Java

Tue-Apr-24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas

Thu-Apr-26 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506

Fri-Apr-27 - Nashville, TN @ The Basement

Sat-Apr-28 - St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill

Sun-Apr-29 - Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar

For more information, please contact:


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Area concerts bring Jeff Peterson, Geoff Tate and Deana Carter to So Cal this weekend

Just because NAMM has ended doesn't mean there are no special concerts being staged in the Orange County area here in Southern California. In fact a wide-range of artists will be bringing their music to the region this weekend.

Lord of the Strings concerts bringing the sounds of Hawaii to the OC this weekend

Jeff Peterson is coming in from Hawaii for two Lord of the Strings concerts in South Orange County. If you have seen the highly popular Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe Award winning movie The Descendants starring George Clooney you no doubt noticed the fantastic slack key guitar music throughout the film. Peterson recorded five songs that are featured in the movie.

In related news (guitar player take note!), LOTSC only have 3 openings left (of seven total) for the guitar workshop with Jeff Peterson this Saturday (Jan. 28) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in San Juan Capistrano. All levels welcome! The cost is $75 and will include lunch. Call Tim at (949) 842-2227 to make your reservation.

Tickets for Peterson's Friday evening show in Dana Point or his Saturday night performance in Mission Viejo can be purchased online at www.LordOfTheStringsConcerts.com. For further information please call 949 842-2227 or visit the LOTSC site.


After touring extensively in 2011 with his band, Queensryche, Geoff recently announced that he will be doing a handful of acoustic solo dates billed as "Geoff Tate and Friends" beginning on Thursday, January 26 at Anthology in San Diego, California.

What can fans expect on the brief run of dates?

According to Tate, he'll be "playing acoustic versions of all my favorite Queensryche songs as well as some songs from my solo album." And that certainly gives him a lot to choose from...

Not one to remain idle, Tate is anxious to hit the road again next year despite an incredibly busy 2011 that found the band performing over 75 dates along their 30th Anniversary tour primarily in support of their 12th studio album, Dedicated to Chaos (Roadrunner Records/Loud & Proud), that was released in the summer.

Towards the end of the tour, Geoff and the band pulled out "all the stops" by performing Rage for Order in its entirety for the first time ever (New York City on Halloween) and Operation: Mindcrime from beginning to end on this year's ShipRocked Cruise (with In This Moment's Maria Brink handling vocal chores as "Sister Mary") for the first time in three years. Both shows were a pure treat for fans!

"Mindcrime" (1988) is universally respected as a classic concept release about rock, revenge and redemption and, ultimately, regarded as one of the most important and essential hard rock records in the genre's expansive canon. 1990's follow-up, Empire, yielded a number one single, the Grammy-nominated ballad "Silent Lucidity," which Queensryche performed at the 1992 Grammy Awards accompanied by a supporting orchestra.

In 2006, the band released Operation: Mindcrime II, a scorching sequel to their original. The band then hit the road performing both albums Operation: Mindcrime and Operation: Mindcrime II back-to-back in their entirety in an incredible theatrical presentation throughout the year. The final performance was recorded at The Moore Theatre in Seattle that October and the Mindcrime at the Moore double CD/DVD release debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top Music DVD Chart and eventually reached gold status.
For more information, please view the official Queensryche website at www.queensryche.com.









Deana Carter & band to perform at the Fender Museum on Saturday

I ran into singer-songwriter-guitarist Shawn Jones at NAMM last weekend and he noted that he will be playing lead guitar for Deana Carter when she performs in the Rhythm Lounge at The Fender Museum at 8 p.m. on Saturday night (Jan. 28).

The Fender Museum is located at 365 N. Main Street, Corona Ca 92880. The direct number to call is 951-735-2440.

This is a benefit concert, with proceeds going to benefit the Kids Rock Free Music Education Program.

For more details, check out Shawn Jones' Web site or the Fender Museum site.

'American Idol' gets fitting tribute courtesy of singer-songwriter TJR

You might want to check out my Music Worth Buying co-host TJR's musical send-up to American Idol now posted on YouTube. Whether you like the show or hate it, I think you'll get a real kick out of the music video.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sights and Sounds: M. Ward, Kate Bush, Plain White T’s, Audio Fidelity releases

Wow, I've been so swamped attending NAMM and wrapping up my coverage of the event that my inbox is stuffed. Now I've had some time to get some of it cleared out and I'm sharing it here!

M. Ward to release A Wasteland Companion in April; full North American Tour announced

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

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

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

The album was made with 18 musicians and recorded in eight different studios in Portland, Omaha, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Bristol (UK). A Wasteland Companion features the talents of M Ward (piano, guitars, voice, production), Mike Coykendall (percussion, bass), Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb (piano), John Parish (percussion, marimba), Bright EyesMike Mogis (organ), Susan Sanchez (vocals), She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel (vocals), Jordan Hudson (percussion), Adam Selzer (bass), Nathan “JR” Andersen (piano), Scott McPherson (percussion), Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (percussion), Dr. Dog’s Tobey Leaman (bass), Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman (strings), Oakely Hall’s Rachel Cox (vocals), Amanda Lawrence (violin), John Graboff (pedal steel) and Tyler Tornfelt (bass). The recording utilized eight engineers, including Tom Schick (Rufus Wainwright) and John Parish (PJ Harvey).

M. Ward can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and at mwardmusic.com.

Track listing:
1. Clean Slate (for Alex & El Goodo)
2. Primitive Girl
3. Me And My Shadow
4. Sweetheart
5. I Get Ideas
6. The First Time I Ran Away
7. A Wasteland Companion
8. Watch The Show
9. There’s A Key
10. Crawl After You
11. Wild Goose
12. Pure Joy

M. Ward on tour:
Feb 2 Los Angeles, CA Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Apr 11 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
Apr 12 Santa Cruz, CA The Cocoanut Grove Ballroom
Apr 13 Indio, CA Coachella **SOLD OUT**
Apr 14 Santa Barbara, CA SoHO
Apr 16 San Diego, CA Belly Up
Apr 17 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
Apr 18 Flagstaff, AZ The Orpheum
Apr 20 Indio, CA Coachella **SOLD OUT**
May 5 Portland, ME State Theatre
May 6 Burlington, VT Higher Ground
May 7 New Haven, CT Toads Place
May 8 Boston, MA House of Blues
May 11 New York, NY Webster Hall
May 12 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
May 13 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
May 15 Durham, NC Duke Performances at Page Auditorium
May 16 Athens, GA Georgia Theatre
May 17 Atlanta, GA Buckhead Theatre
May 22 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
May 24 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
Jonathan Richman supports 4/11
fIREHOSE supports 4/12, 4/16-4/18
Lee Ranaldo Band supports 5/5-5/22


Clip For “Lake Tahoe” From Acclaimed New Album
50 Words For Snow

Revered singer Kate Bush is premièring a new video from her acclaimed new album 50 Words For Snow at NPR’s All Songs Considered. The beautifully evocative cinematic clip is for her song “Lake Tahoe” and features stark shadow puppetry – featuring a dog moving through a stark landscape searching for its owner - perfectly compliments the music’s haunting sense of dramatic longing.

Bush told NPR that despite the video's abbreviated running time, she intended the clip to be viewed as a complete work: “The video exists as a self-contained piece, it is called 'Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe'. It has all been created in camera with shadow puppets, one of my favorite art forms because of its simplicity. It is something that I've wanted to do for years and it was great fun to make.”

To watch Kate Bush’s new video go to: http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/

50 Words For Snow features 7 new tracks set against a background of falling snow, with a total running time of 65 minutes; through a highly evocative musical and lyrical landscape. The record features a number of special guest musicians including Elton John.

Plain White T's on Guitar Center Sessions - Airs on DIRECTV on Jan. 28, 2012

THE PLAIN WHITE T’S Bring Their Successful Mix of Pop-Rock To New Season of Award-Winning TV Series Guitar Center Sessions

Show to feature performance from Plain White T’s – plus an intimate conversation with Tom Higgenson, Tim Lopez and De’Mar Hamilton about the creative process of writing songs, the sometimes difficult dynamics of working together as a band and the increasing importance of commercials and TV in making a hit song — with host and esteemed musical tastemaker Nic Harcourt

Sneak Peek At: http://guitarcenter.com/sessions/

Westlake Village, CA – Guitar Center (http://www.guitarcenter.com), the world's largest retailer of musical instruments and equipment, and DIRECTV, one of the world’s leading providers of digital television entertainment services, feature PLAIN WHITE T’S in a new episodes of the award-winning music series Guitar Center Sessions this Saturday, January 28. Guitar Center Sessions features exclusive performances and intimate, enlightening conversations conducted by revered musical tastemaker Nic Harcourt. The episode premieres Saturday, January 28th at 9pm ET/PT in 2D hi-definition on DIRECTV’S Audience Network (channel 239) and in 3D on DIRECTV’S n3D™ powered by Panasonic.

An exclusive clip of Plain White T’s performance of “Hey There Delilah” from the episode can be seen at http://guitarcenter.com/sessions/.

Hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, the pop-rock Plain White T's began taking shape in 1997, a full ten years before the acoustic ballad "Hey There Delilah" made them Grammy-nominated stars. Led by Tom Higgenson, the band toured extensively over the next years, weathering personnel changes along the way and building a following through a solid work ethic and promising songwriting. After a few indie label releases, in 2006 they signed with Hollywood Records, released Every Second Counts and hit big with “Hey There Delilah” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Grammy awards (song of the year and best pop performance by a duo or group). The following year they had another hit with “1, 2, 3, 4,” which struck a universal chord and catapulted up the charts with an assist from a Hallmark Valentine’s Day ad. In 2010, Plain White T's released their sixth, most recent studio album, The Wonders of the Younger, changing up their dynamic with two songs penned and sung by guitarist Tim Lopez, including the hit single, "The Rhythm of Love," which layers on a new laid-back acoustic sound to the band's usual mix of spunky energy and pop/rock craft. Plain White T’s line-up: Tom Higgenson (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Tim Lopez (lead guitar, vocals), De’Mar Hamilton (drums), Dave Tirio (rhythm guitar) and Mike Retondo (bass).

In the episode, Higgenson, Lopez and Hamilton talk frankly to host Nic Harcourt about the pressures of working together as a band, with Lopez noting “the closest we’ve come to fighting in the writing process comes with putting songs together as a band.” Higgenson also discusses his shock at the huge success of “Hey There Delilah,” which he thought of as a “good, small song” until it took off on MySpace, becoming an early Internet sensation—and a chart-topping hit—in 12 countries. Hamilton agrees, saying the success of that song funded the band at a crucial time (“We were able to continue doing what we love to do – play music”). The three also talk about the evolution of social networking from the band’s early days (“so much time and money at Kinko’s making up a flyer”) to today with Higgenson saying it can be hard to feel a connection with the live audience “when you see a bunch of phones instead of people’s eyes and faces.” Another change they’ve witnessed concerns the benefits of licensing songs for commercials and TV shows. Higgenson and Lopez agree that placing a song in the right scene in the right movie or commercial adds a stronger emotion in visual form to the song. When Harcourt asks the seasoned musicians what advice they’d give young bands to get their music out, the answer is a resounding “Anything you can. Work hard, keep writing songs and do great live shows.”

“The Plain White T’s are one of the first artists to benefit from the unprecedented reach that the Internet provides to musicians,” says Harcourt. “They were able to hear fans in the UK sing along to ‘Hey There Delilah’ before their album was available there, thanks to the Internet. It’s fascinating to hear such a modern success story, and to find out how the band is able to build off their original success in a tangible way. It’s exactly the type of story we’re trying to explore with Guitar Center Sessions.”


Dio's Holy Diver and Bryan Adams' Cuts Like a Knife Rock Anew on Limited-Edition Audiophile Compact Discs Arriving January 31, 2012

Marshall Blonstein, president of Audio Fidelity, has set January 31st as the release date for the audiophile label's Gold CD reissues of Dio's HOLY DIVER and Bryan Adams' CUTS LIKE A KNIFE. Both albums will be issued as numbered, limited editions that will be available through both online and brick-and-mortar retailers and will be retired after they have reached 5000 units in sales.

The two albums hail from 1983, a year when rock was reasserting its place on a music landscape then dominated by dance and pop records. Long acknowledged as classic entries in each artist's catalog, HOLY DIVER and CUTS LIKE A KNIFE represented key turns in the careers of Ronnie James Dio and Bryan Adams. The albums enjoyed the longest tenure of any Dio or Adams set on Billboard's chart, with HOLY DIVER logging 38 weeks and CUTS LIKE A KNIFE notching 89.

Ronnie James Dio had already achieved star status as the lead singer of Elf, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Black Sabbath by the time he released HOLY DIVER, the first record of what would be a long and fruitful solo career. Joined by alumni of his former bands-drummer Vinnie Appice (Black Sabbath) and bassist Jimmy Bain (Rainbow)-and teenaged discovery, guitarist Vivian Campbell, Dio crafted a searing debut that won widespread pop acceptance without compromising an ounce of its power or heavy-metal principles. The group-composed "Rainbow in the Dark," as well as the Dio-penned title track, became mainstream-rock radio hits, and the Bain-Dio cuts "Straight Through the Heart" and "Stand Up and Shout" grew into fan favorites-the latter featuring impressive, breakneck-speed soloing from Campbell.

HOLY DIVER peaked at No. 56 on Billboard's album chart (and reached 13 in the U.K.) and was certified Gold a year after its release and Platinum in 1989. The song "Holy Diver" retains considerable popularity almost three decades after it was first recorded, having been featured on TV's South Park and in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. "Rainbow in the Dark" was featured in Rock Band 3. Dio himself appears in the opening musical performance of the 2006 comedy Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny starring Jack Black.

Audio Fidelity's reissue of HOLY DIVER includes a two-page spread reproducing the original vinyl LP's photo montage of images from Dio's time with Black Sabbath and Rainbow.

Following two solid solo albums, Canada's Bryan Adams broke through with CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, which was a Top 10 entry on both the American and Canadian charts. The set initiated Adams' run of five such acclaimed credits, sold some four million copies internationally and launched the raspy-voiced singer-writer as a major pop music figure, one who's garnered 15 Grammy® nominations. Adams wrote or co-wrote (mostly with longtime writing partner Jim Vallance) the album's ten songs-among them three solid Top 30 hits: the stirring piano ballad and signature piece "Straight From the Heart," the brisk rocker "This Time" and the troubled-relationship title track. "Straight From the Heart" was covered by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, and the album-closer, "The Best Was Yet to Come," was recorded by Laura Branigan.

Recorded in 1982 and originally issued on January of 1983, CUTS LIKE A KNIFE was produced by Adams with frequent associate Bob Clearmountain, whose engineering and mixing credits include Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. and recordings by the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm contributes backing vocals on CUTS LIKE A KNIFE.

Founded in 2002 by music industry veteran Marshall Blonstein, Audio Fidelity specializes in deluxe reissues of classic popular-music recordings for the audiophile and collector markets The Camarillo, California-based label is best known for its 24-Karat Gold CDs and its 180-gram virgin-vinyl album editions, as well as a line of popular DVD titles. Audio Fidelity emerged out of the pioneering DCC Compact Classics label that Blonstein started in 1986, following stints as president of Island Records and co-founder of Ode Records (where he helped make Carole King's Tapestry one of the best-selling albums of all time and built the cult-film franchises The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke).

For more information, visit: www.audiofidelity.net

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sights and Sounds: Bruce Springsteen, The Monkees, Pulp, Van Dyke Parks

Lots of big news to share. The Monkees' 1969 classic 'GREATEST HITS' is being re-released on 180-gram vinyl, Pulp is back, and - oh - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is set to return this year. Gotta love that!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Announce First US Leg of 2012 ‘Wrecking Ball’ World Tour

Photo credit: Danny Clinch

New Album 'Wrecking Ball' (Columbia Records) Out March 6, 2012

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

"We Take Care Of Our Own," the album's first single,' is "classic Springsteen" with "anguish and challenge [that] run thick and fast" (Rolling Stone); a "richly orchestrated Wall of Sound... that nods to the 'Born to Run' era" (Billboard).

Stream "We Take Care of Our Own" and pre-order 'Wrecking Ball' at: http://www.brucespringsteen.net

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

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

The Monkees' GREATEST HITS, the band's first compilation, was originally released in 1969, a year after the cancellation of their TV show. As a result, it has become one of the most sought-after vinyl collectibles from the group, with mint copies selling for big bucks.

But now thanks to our friends at Friday Music, The Monkees GREATEST HITS is available once again on 180-gram vinyl - and only Rhino.com has 500 copies pressed exclusively on orange vinyl! That's right, we only have 500 units of this release on orange vinyl and once they're gone, they're gone. You can only get this version from Rhino.com, so order now.

The Monkees GREATEST HITS features all the obvious favorites, plus some surprises like “Zor and Zam,” “Cuddly Toy,” and “Randy Scouse Git” which sound more amazing on 180-gram vinyl. Don't miss out on this second chance to grab an excellent Monkees collectible - pre-order now. This release begins shipping on March, 6, 2012.




Pulp will return to the U.S. this spring for the first time in more than a decade to play Coachella, The Warfield in San Francisco, and Radio City Music Hall in New York. The shows will involve all the original members of the band -- Nick Banks (drums), Jarvis Cocker (vocals, guitar), Candida Doyle (keyboards), Steve Mackey (bass), Russell Senior (violin, guitar) and Mark Webber (guitar) -- and they will be playing songs from all periods of their career.

April 11 -- New York, NY -- Radio City Music Hall
April 13 -- Indio, CA -- Coachella
April 17 -- San Francisco, CA -- The Warfield
April 20 -- Indio, CA -- Coachella

Pulp returned from a nine-year hiatus last summer, performing at festivals in Europe and Australia. They last played in the U.S. on a June 1998 tour in support of their "This Is Hardcore" album.

Official Web site: http://pulppeople.com/

Van Dyke Parks Announces Select Run of Southeast Dates

Final Installment of Unique 45's Series Set for March 20 Release

Legendary artist, composer and producer Van Dyke Parks will embark on a run of Southeast tour dates, including a February appearance at NPR's Mountain Stage. After a set of dates with Fleet Foxes last fall, Parks will return to this part of the country once again in support of his unique 7" vinyl series with artwork from some of the most important contemporary artists of our time, including Ed Ruscha, Art Speigelman, Frank Holmes and many more. Parks will kick off this run of performances with a set at Santa Barbara's Soho Restaurant & Music Club on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. The show is in conjunction with an after party for the screening of Music Man Murray, a documentary scored by Parks, and written and directed by his son, Richard Parks premiering at the Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival.

This series of 45's is Parks' first new studio music in more than 15 years, since his acclaimed album Orange Crate Art. Announced last August on his own label Bananastan, the first four vinyls are available for purchase at the label's website and during the forthcoming live appearances. In December, Parks released the latest single 'Amazing Graces'/Hold Back Time' with Charles Ray art and will release the final two installments on March 20: 'Sassafrass'/ 'The All Golden' illustrated by both Billy Edd Wheeler and Klaus Voormann and 'Missin' Missippi'/'The Parting Hand' with sleeve art by Sally Parks, and Stanley Dorfman.

Parks also released Arrangements Vol. 1 last year, a compilation of some of his greatest arrangements, with Pitchfork saying, "the songs selected on 'Arrangements' are uniformly fantastic (8.6 'Best New Reissue')." At the heart of some of the great albums of the last 50 years, Parks' accomplishments include Brian Wilson's 'lost' masterpiece Smile, Randy Newman and Ry Cooder's first recordings, and Joanna Newsom's critically acclaimed 2006 album YS.

Van Dyke Parks On Tour

1/31 - Santa Barbara, CA - Soho Restaurant & Music Club
2/15 - St. Petersburg, FL - Craftsman House Gallery
2/16 - Jacksonville, FL - The Florida Theatre
2/18 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
2/19 - Athens, GA - University of Georgia

For more info, please visit:

NAMM notes: Deering Banjos' Phoenix, Taylor Guitars, Pick Grips

TJR with Deering Banjos Company Project Manager Jamie Latty at NAMM.

The more I saw across the five days at the 2012 NAMM Show, the more I'm sure I missed.

Through all the great performances, my chats with musicians and music lovers, and interviews with innovative minds who create the products of tomorrow, I'm always reminded why the music trade show is such a rush.

In addition, this year I really made it a point to actually sit down and try out some of the instruments. Believe it or not, I know there was at least one year I attended NAMM that my schedule was so stuffed with appointments I never even plucked a guitar. Now that's a crime.

One of my biggest thrills was jamming with my Music Worth Buying co-host TJR, as I got to play one of Taylor Guitars' GS Mini instruments. The guitar is easy to play, boasts great tones from its rich lows to its high notes and really defies its compact design. The Mini is available with either a solid spruce or mahogany top. Very, VERY nice. Click here for more details on the GS Mini.

I still have great memories of my father playing the banjo when I was a youngster just learning to play guitar. Although I never picked up the instrument, I kind of re-connected with those memories at NAMM on Sunday (Jan. 22) courtesy of Deering Banjo Company's Phoenix. A true banjo-guitar hybrid, it was amazing to sit down and be able to play the Phoenix like I would a guitar, but to hear the lovely tones of a banjo emerge from its beautiful design. TJR (seen here on the left) also was impressed and really created some lovely sounds on the instrument. As I learned in reading some materials from the Spring Valley, California-based company, Keith Urban, John Fogerty, David Hidalgo, Nils Lofgren and even Lee Rocker have all used Deering 6-string banjos. Now I know why!

It's not unusual to find new products at the NAMM Show. But I was truly impressed by a simple, but much-needed invention showcased by a fledgling company out of Mesa, Arizona.

Anyone who has ever played guitar with a pick knows the frustration of either having to dig their through pockets to find one, or being forced to mount them on a stand or even tape them to a prized instrument (and likely damaging their guitar).

No more. Pick Grips really does offer an easy, affordable and winning solution for musicians who play their guitar, bass, mandolin or other stringed instrument using a pick.

"For years, we used to weave the pick through the strings. I always thought there was a better way," said Pick Grips founder Bac Tran. "I thought there needs to be a solution. I was watching an Eddie Van Halen video and he had duct tape on his guitar (holding his picks in place) and I came up with this design."

Tran's Patent Pending-device simply attaches to the surface of an acoustic or electric instrument, with a slot where the pick fits snugly into place. When a musician wants to remove the Pick Grip, no residue (okay, "scum" better fits what happens when using duct tape) remains.

Musicians or companies ordering Pick Grips can select from a number of cool colors and even imprint their own logo or band name into the surface. Both TJR and I were blown away by this product, and just imagine, it doesn't involve electronics, apps or a digital interface!

Visit the Pick Grips Web site for more information on this amazing product!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NAMM - Sunday brings welcome surprises - Americana style!

The Kruger Brothers displayed their amazing musicianship and song craft at NAMM on Sunday afternoon.

With 1,400 or so exhibitors positioned throughout the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels, the 2012 NAMM Show had plenty to offer visitors trying to take it all in over the course of its 96-hour stay. But the world's largest music products event always hosts an endless number of shows that really are the icing on the cake (much better than spending hours in lines waiting for autographs in my view). While there were no big rock shows scheduled on the music trade show's final day, Sunday (Jan. 22, 20120) offered up magical live performances in the morning and afternoon.

NAMM doesn't come to mind when thinking about a forum to seek modern country-styled artists, but roots and Americana artists were seemingly all over the place on Sunday. Of the acts I saw perform, two really stood out. Another artist, young country music singer Kelly McGrath, was performing in a hall so loud I could not hear her set clearly enough to write an honest review of the performance so I had to move on.

Early in the day, the Tora Bora Boys performed a fun set of bluegrass-styled material in the spirit of the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe. With a lineup of six players (several of whom sang well and also harmonized sweetly together), the group attracted a big crowd to the Saga Musical Instruments booth. Highlights of the set included a version of Carter and Ralph Stanley's classic "How Mountain Gals Can Love" and a fiery instrumental tune titled "Fireball Mail" showcasing banjo player Geoff Hohwald. Throughout the set, dobro player Rich Ferris, fiddler Paul Shelasky and mandolin virtuoso David Gartland also displayed their skills. Getting the band booked to play at NAMM was likely a cinch since the Tora Bora Boys' outstanding guitarist is Richard Keldsen, president of Saga.

Even more impressive were the acclaimed Kruger Brothers, widely acknowledged as one of the best and most original folk groups performing today. I had missed the trio when they performed at the Deering Banjo Company booth on Friday and Saturday, so I'm glad I didn't make the mistake again on Sunday. The threesome (lead singer-guitarist Uwe Kruger, banjo player Jens Kruger, bassist Joel Landsberg) provided one of the best-ever sets I have caught at NAMM, moving effortlessly between baroque, bluegrass, folk and even Celtic-flavored material. Even a version of Tennessee William Ford's hit "Sixteen Tons" was totally revised, with textures and layers lending uncharacteristic depth to the song.

After being wowed by the terrific trio's full-length set on Sunday, the Kruger Brothers' 2011 release Appalachian Concerto will likely be my next album purchase.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

NAMM - Saturday brings sterling two-song sets from John Rzeznik, Dawes

I took it a bit easier in terms of my coverage of NAMM today, catching fewer shows and attempting to save my legs a bit after being on my feet for most of Wednesday through Friday. But I did catch two terrific (although brief) sets on Saturday featuring Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik at the Taylor Guitars booth, and Dawes at Shure later in the day.

John Rzeznik performed a short, but memorable set at Taylor Guitars on Saturday.

The Orange County Register's multimedia reporter Mark Eades videotaped Rzeznik’s performance and you can view it here.

Dawes brought their California-styled folk rock sound to the Shure booth.

To read a full-length review of Rzeznik's performance and Dawes' set, check out writer George A. Paul's review that ran in the Orange County Register.

NAMM notes: Footdrums, LumaSkinz, Godin Guitars, Taylor Guitars & more!

Here are a few random news, notes and pics covering my first three days at the NAMM Show. I am off in a bit to see what's going on today...

At the Media Preview Day, guitarist Molly Gene showcased her skills at performing her guitar and foot drum at once at the Farmer Musical Instruments booth (Booth #2665 D). Information: www.footdrums.com.

LumaSkinz is a new Palm Desert-based company that makes custom "drum skinz" for drum kits, and equally-impressive skins for laptop computers, deejay booths - you name it. I got a tour of the company's work (made in the U.S.A. too!) and I recommend that people check out Booth #1575 at the Anaheim Convention Center. It is especially impressive to see the "Illuminated Skinz" in action at NAMM. Information: http://lumaskinz.com/lumaskinz-namm.

Orange County-based singer-songwriter-rocker Michael Ubaldini (pictured here on the left) was spotted at Godin Guitars, where he was playing a beautiful Godin 5th Avenue hand-painted guitar by artist-musician Joseph Arthur. Those wanting to check out (and yes, you can play the custom-painted guitars too!) should visit Godin Guitars at Booth #211A (that is upstairs on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center folks).

My Music Worth Buying co-host and musical pal TJR is a fantastic guitar player and pianist, so it should come as no surprise that I spied him at the Taylor Guitars booth (#213 ABC) checking out a custom-made ukulele. I had met the editor of Ukeeku.com (Tim Szerlong) in the press area earlier in the day and he raved about the instrument so it was great to see TJR give it a try! Taylor Guitars has been a great place to check out strong performances, and get to play great guitars.

Brad Weinholtz of La Mirada, CA-based Bridgecraft USA, Inc. with Chuck Phillips (seen in the photo at the end of this post) in front of several eye-catching attractions at NAMM 2012. You can check out all the cool instruments and have your photo taken with a gigantic guitar or small toy piano at Booth #1680. Information: www.xmusicpro.com.

NAMM - The Silent Comedy, Uh Huh Her impress on Friday

The Silent Comedy's Joshua Zimmerman (left) and Chad Lee rock out during the quartet's set at Taylor Guitars on Friday afternoon at the NAMM show in Anaheim.

So many people filled the Anaheim Convention Center to attend NAMM on Friday (Jan. 20, 2012), it was truly a challenge securing a good spot to take in some of the more anticipated performances staged throughout the event.

However, in the case of the smaller shows that I caught in the Fender and Taylor Guitars booths, braving the crushing crowds was well worth it.

There was the involving indie pop of Uh Huh Her (featuring Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey, seen on right) that started the day off on the right musical foot with a noontime show at Fender (click here to read George A. Paul's review of the show). But the highlight for this writer was a full-length set from San Diego's The Silent Comedy at Taylor a bit later in the afternoon.

Fusing the power of "Powderfinger"/"Like a Hurricane"-era Neil Young & Crazy Horse with the anthemic drive of Arcade Fire and reckless abandon of some of Trampled by Turtles' more rowdy bluegrass-on-steroids material, it's no wonder that the quartet is on fire. Last year saw the six-year-old band's fortunes rise big time thanks to appearances with the Dave Matthews Band, Cold War Kids, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Mumford & Sons.

"Our weirdness allows us to play with a lot of different people," singer-guitarist Joshua Zimmerman told me in a brief interview before the band took the stage. He founded the group with his brother, guitarist Jeremiah Zimmerman in 2006.

The Silent Comedy not only took the stage, but they crushed it. The first few songs showcased the troupe's folk side, with songs such as their own "49" and "Lyin" as well as a cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" suggesting the quartet was a strong acoustic-styled act able to blend blues, country, gospel and bluegrass into the brew. But as the Silent Comedy played on their power grew. By the time they delivered "Gasoline," it was clear this was no mere retro-looking Americana outfit. In stages, the band masterfully shifted the song from a pretty acoustic guitar-anchored ballad to a roaring tour de force.

A subsequent "Moonshine" and cover of Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night" were likewise skillfully offered.

Throughout the set, the use of banjo and mandolin by Justin Buchanan to add depth to drums/bass/guitar was nice. Chad Lee powered the percussion side of things with a donkey jawbone in the beginning, and with a full drum kit as things picked up.

For more information on the Silent Comedy, visit the band's Web site.

Bigger isn't necessarily better.

While the two intimate performances I caught in the afternoon were exciting affairs, the Living Legends Jam that was the featured big concert event of the day simply tried to do too much to succeed.

With a lineup of more than two dozen well-known artists (including Richie Castellano of Blue Oyster Cult, seen on the left), there was something for everyone. Unfortunately, there was not enough sonic pay dirt to keep me there for the entire show. Despite a few highlights early on where Bob Berryhill (The Safaris) led a group through "Wipe Out" and Doug Rappoeport directed an ensemble through a funk-tinged version of the Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride," the affair eventually dragged on without enough fire or focus. After 90 minutes and 17 songs (and still no sign of Alan White from Yes, Micky Dolenz of the Monkees or Joey Molland of Badfinger - the three artists I had most hoped to see perform), I decided to chart a course for home and get ready to tackle Saturday. Hope to see you there.

Blues Harmonica Blowout on Sunday at Coach House

Mark Hummel, John Mayall and friends will pay tribute to late blues harp innovator Little Walter during a concert in San Juan Capistrano.

Though Little Walter is the only blues harmonica player inducted into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, few outside the blues genre know much about the late Louisiana-born artist considered to be the Jimi Hendrix of his instrument.

But with this year's Blues Harmonica Blowout tour, which arrives Sunday (January 22) at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, modern-day blues harp master Mark Hummel has gathered some of the world's best harmonica players to pay tribute to Little Walter and introduce his music to a new audience.

Little Walter, who was 37 when he died in 1968, introduced the technique of cupping his hands around a microphone while blowing on his blues harp. It continues to be the standard method for those who play the instrument today.
In addition to Hummel, the Coach House concert will feature John Mayall, Little Charlie Baty, Billy Boy Arnold, Curtis Salgado (former frontman for the Robert Cray Band) and Sugar Ray Norcia.
Hummel will feature selections from his recently released CD Blue and Lonesome: Tribute to Little Walter, a limited-edition collection that will be available at the show.

Who: Mark Hummel, John Mayall, Little Charlie Baty, Billy Boy Arnold, Curtis Salgado, Sugar Ray Norcia
Where: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano
When: 7 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 22, 2012)
How much: $28
Information: 949-496-8930

Friday, January 20, 2012

NAMM - Day one features a wealth of performances

While the 110th NAMM got underway with a media preview day on Wednesday, the first official day of the world's largest music products trade show played out at the Anaheim Convention Center on Thursday (Jan. 19) with plenty of excitement and an ambitious performance schedule to match. While there were highly-anticipated sets from Brian Wilson and Collective Soul (I shot the photo of the band, performing under the Sweet Tea Project moniker, seen on the left), there were many other strong performances that played out over the long day.

The first time I caught finger style guitarist Laurence Juber at NAMM in the mid-1990s, he was performing before a handful of fans at a guitar string manufacturer's booth. No more.
As is the case whenever the one-time lead guitarist of Paul McCartney's Wings performs nowadays, he draws big crowds that can't get enough of his long sets.

Performing at the Mogami Cable booth at noon on Thursday, the Los Angeles-based guitarist thrilled with selections from several of his solo discs. The most dynamic selection was his version of The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" off his 2010 album LJ Plays the Beatles: Volume 2 (a follow-up to his first tribute album of Beatles classics released back in 2000). It has to be heard to believed, but armed simply with an acoustic guitar Juber was able to rework the originally-dense and experimental Fab Four track into a wonderful solo guitar arrangement.

Not every artist featured at a myriad of outdoor patio, booth and concert stage locations at NAMM is well-known. But even relatively-unknown artists can make an impression at NAMM to be sure.

Such was the case with three area artists I caught in the afternoon. Hermosa Beach-based blues-rock singer Shari Puorto and her excellent four-man band tore up in a packed patio at the convention center. While several hundred attendees were enjoying their barbecue chicken and burgers, Puorto dished up some original blues-rock material from her latest album, the aptly-titled "Real" and several earlier albums. Highlights included the slow burner "Don't Mess With Me" and a striking ballad "Free."

Moving inside to Center Stage at the Marriott, Orange County's thriving scene was celebrated courtesy of two winning sets. Surf City singer-songwriter James Grey performed a range of his well-crafted songs, including the upbeat "Wonderful Day," descriptive "Monsters" and soulful "Seabreeze". His 45-minute set was followed by an appearance by Laguna Beach-based Jason Feddy, who played his genre-defying blend of pop, rock, jazz and other styles pulled from his solo albums and his work in the band Hautewerk. His song "The Bridge to the Island" (off his 2008 album "Connected") was particularly memorable.

The day ended for me with the event's tribute to NAMM members who have passed away over the past year. That performance featured the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band performing a bagpipes- and drum- anchored version of "Amazing Grace" that segued into a stripped down take of that instrumental song featuring headliner Doyle Dykes (seen here playing guitar) and his band. Influenced and often compared to the late Chet Atkins, Dykes is one of the world's best country-Americana guitarists on the planet.

As in years past when he has performed at NAMM, even a crowd filled with musicians is blown away when Dykes plays his acoustic or electric guitar. After performing a wonderful take of the old classic "Return to Avalon," Dykes closed his long set with an amazing medley that began as an instrumental version of U2's "With Or Without You" and blended "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and even "Amazing Grace" to bring the fitting tribute to an emotional - and ultimately uplifting - finale.

NAMM Media preview day kicks off 2012 event in dramatic fashion

There are three music events that seem to mark my yearly musical calendar. NAMM, which arrives in January, followed by Coachella in April and the Doheny Blues Fest that hits in May.

So now NAMM has landed at the Anaheim Convention Center, 2012 does seem real.

I'll have lots more to write when the event is over (the music trade show officially runs Jan. 19-22, 2012 this year), but I wanted to share my posts that are running in The Orange County Register's Soundcheck blog here, as well as include some additional photos.

Here is my post that ran on Jan. 18, and was part of The Orange County Register's coverage of media preview day of the 110th NAMM show:

While celebrity names are often announced in advance of NAMM, the actual performances that transpire tend to be completely unexpected. Everyone who attended the music trade show’s media preview day at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday knew that both guitar hero Kenny Wayne Shepherd and bass-playing former governor Mike Huckabee would be on hand. They just didn’t know they’d also jam together.

After Shepherd demonstrated his six-string skills and Huckabee talked about the importance of music education, the two surprised a crowded field of reporters, photographers and videographers with an impromptu blues. Shepherd, one of the world’s finest blues-rock guitarists, displayed his impressive chops; Huckabee added a fitting accompaniment.

This isn’t the first time Huckabee has done this sort of thing at NAMM — last year his unscheduled jam was with Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, who was subsequently invited to perform on Huckabee’s Fox News program. I caught up with him afterward and asked about the difference, playing with Collen vs. Shepherd.

“Politics is divisive,” he said. “Music is a wonderful way for people to get together. That’s what I love about it.” (Shepherd seemed to enjoy the photo-op: “It was fun. He is a bass player and loves to play.”)

Huckabee said he planned to be at NAMM through at least Friday, and seemed genuinely interested in checking out the unique gear and instruments on display through Sunday in Anaheim. He’s a regular, attending this winter expo whenever possible as well as its summer counterpart in Nashville.
For musicians of every stripe, NAMM makes them feel like kids in a candy store. Shepherd, too, loves prowling around it: “This is the epicenter of new and innovative stuff.”

(End Soundcheck post)

I really enjoyed meeting Shepherd, who I had previously interviewed over the phone in connection with his appearance at the Doheny Blues Fest a few years ago, and Huckabee. You can really tell how much the former Arkansas governor cares about Wanna Play?, a NAMM's public education campaign to raise awareness about the many benefits of music making. The FOX News television host noted that with public schools reducing music education in the schools, groups such as NAMM are even more important.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

NAMM preview: music show arrives in Anaheim on Wednesday

Going to NAMM this week? Wondering where the musical action is?

Anyone who has been to the world's largest annual music trade show knows that it is impossible - and I mean IMPOSSIBLE - to see and experience everything at the expansive show which is held at the Anaheim Convention Center and spills out into the surrounding area including the Anaheim Marriott and the Hilton Anaheim (both located adjacent to the convention center).

Although I hope to post a more fully developed schedule of live performances in a Wednesday morning post, I am kicking things off here with those appearances/performances I am most likely to hit at NAMM. Please note NAMM is not open to the public, although I know many of my readers are likely going to be there.

Fingerstyle guitarist Laurence Juber (pictured here) will be performing at the Mogami booth at noon on Thursday, Jan. 19 and again at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20. Lead guitarist for Paul McCartney and Wings in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the native of East London has earned subsequent critical and commercial success through a number of solo albums boasting his unique style (which includes alternate tunings). He is not to be missed.

Brian Wilson and his band perform at Gibson (booth #303AB) at noon on Thursday.

Huntington Beach-based singer-songwriter James Grey will perform from 3-4 p.m. at the Anaheim Marriott Acoustic Stage on Thursday.

Sixwire will perform a full set at Taylor Guitars at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Guitar virtuoso Doyle Dykes and Friends (5:30 to 6:30 p.m.) will perform in the Main Lobby Stage of the Convention Center on Thursday

The Silent Comedy will perform on Friday afternoon at Taylor Guitars booth at 3:30 p.m.

"Legends Jam" with Micky Dolenz (Monkees singer-drummer-guitarist), Alan White (Yes, Plastic Ono Band), Scott Warren (Dio), Bobby Kimball (Toto), and many other musicians. 5 - 6 p.m. on Friday - location is Main Lobby Stage.

Guitarist Caleb Quaye (of Hall & Oates, Elton John, Paul McCartney fame) at Anaheim Marriott Front Stage, 7-8 p.m. on Friday night

Alex Skolnick Trio will perform from 8 - 9 p.m. on Anaheim Marriott Center Stage on Friday night.

Guitar virtuoso Andy McKee will perform 9 - 10 p.m. on Hilton Anaheim Muzeo Stage on Friday night.

I'll fill everybody in on my plans for Saturday and Sunday in my next post...

GRAMMY Museum update: Jackie DeShannon, Ruthie Foster, America, Glen Campbell, Michelle Phillips

2012 has sure hit with a bang.
Not only has the 2012 Coachella lineup been announced, but NAMM arrives here in Orange County, California this week and now the GRAMMY Museum has announced an exciting list of programs open to the public.
Here is the official announcement from the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY Museum:

An Evening With Jackie DeShannon
Presented by American Express
Monday, January 30, 2012; 8:00 p.m.

Join us as we welcome singer-songwriter and music pioneer Jackie DeShannon to the Clive Davis Theater. DeShannon is known for her soulful voice behind two enduring 1960s anthems: Bacharach-David’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and her own “Put A Little Love In Your Heart.” DeShannon has recorded a diverse range of genres: rock, folk, R&B, country, gospel and jazz. Her songs have been performed by Al Green & Annie Lennox, The Byrds, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Cher , The Carpenters and dozens more. She has collaborated with some of the industry’s best songwriters including Randy Newman, Jack Nitzsche, Van Morrison, John Bettis and Jimmy Page. She was awarded the 1982 Song of the Year GRAMMY for co-writing “Bette Davis Eyes,” and in 2010 was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Hear DeShannon, with GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli , discuss her accomplished career and latest album, "When You Walk In The Room," which features acoustic arrangements of her classic songs. DeShannon will also perform a mini-concert with musicians, take questions from the audience and host rare video highlights.
Doors open at 7:30 pm. American Express presale tickets are $20 and can be purchased online by American Express Card members starting Friday, January 6, at noon. Public onsale is Monday, January 23, at noon. American Express is the exclusive payment method for presale tickets. American Express ticket purchasers will also receive a special gift. All proceeds benefit the GRAMMY Museum . For more information, please call (213.765.6803) or visit grammymuseum.org.

The Drop: Ruthie Foster
Presented by American Express
Tuesday, January 31, 2012; 8:00 p.m.

The GRAMMY Museum welcomes soulful singer Ruthie Foster to the Clive Davis Theater to celebrate the release of her new album Let It Burn. Her new release captures her astonishing voice perfectly with a combustible blend of soul, blues, rock, folk and gospel. Recorded in New Orleans , Foster had support from some of that city’s most respected players including the legendary Meters’ bassist George Porter Jr. Let It Burn features a surprisingly eclectic collection of cover songs ranging from Adele to Los Lobos, and the Black Keys to Johnny Cash. There are also several original tunes by Ruthie, plus collaborations with legendary gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama and soul icon William Bell. Foster’s accomplished career includes a GRAMMY nomination for her 2009 release The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, Austin Music Award winner for Best Folk Artist in 2004-05 and Best Female Vocalist in 2007-08, and Blues Music Association awards for both Best Contemporary and Best Traditional Female Blues Artist in back-to-back years. Foster will perform a selection of songs, take questions from the audience and discuss, alongside Vice President of The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Scott Goldman, how the new album is her most personal journey yet.
Doors open at 7:30 pm. American Express presale tickets are $15 and can be purchased online by American Express Card members starting Friday, January 6, at noon. Public onsale is Monday, January 23, at noon. American Express is the exclusive payment method for presale tickets. American Express ticket purchasers will also receive a special gift. All proceeds benefit the GRAMMY Museum . For more information, please call (213.765.6803) or visit grammymuseum.org.

An Musical Conversation With La Santa Cecilia And
+Paper Fashion with Patssi Valdez
A Special Pacific Standard Time: Art In L.A. 1945 – 1980 Event
Presented by The GRAMMY Museum and Fowler Museum
Saturday, February 4, 2012; 7:00 p.m.

GRAMMY-nominated La Santa Cecilia—fronted by belter La Marisoul—draws inspiration from a hybrid of Latin culture, rock and world music in passionate performances that mesmerize audiences. After an interview moderated by Josh Kun, curator of the PST/GRAMMY Museum exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-75 and director of The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s The Norman Lear Center, La Santa Cecilia will take audience questions and perform a selection of songs.During the post-concert reception, Asco icon Patssi Valdez leads a crunch-and-fold workshop inspired by Asco’s 1970’s-era public appearances as self-made fashionistas in paper gowns and hats. See Valdez ’s work in Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement, which will be open. Reception includes dessert and a cash bar.
$10 for Fowler/GRAMMY Museum members and students; $15 general.
Tickets go on sale Jan 6 @ noon: 213-765-6803. When picking up program tickets at the Box Office Will Call, you may be required to show ID that matches the credit card used to purchase the ticket. Note- this program will be held at The Fowler Museum at UCLA.

An Evening With Glen Campbell
Presented by American Express
Monday, February 6, 2012; 8:00 p.m.

Join us as we welcome GRAMMY Award-winning country music star Glen Campbell to The GRAMMY Museum. During his remarkable career in show business, which has spanned over 50 years, Campbell has released 70 albums and has sold 45 million records. In 1967, he made GRAMMY history by winning four awards in both the country and pop categories and this year, will be honored with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. A 2005 inductee into The Country Music Hall of Fame, Campbell has also racked up 12 RIAA Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums and 1 Double-Platinum album. While hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “I Wanna Live” have helped make him a true country music legend, Campbell also gained fame as an actor and host of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. After a brief introduction and tribute to his career by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli , Campbell will perform a selection of songs. Guests will hear hits from the past as well as music from Campbell ’s latest release, Ghost On A Canvas, a top-ten pick in USA Today’s “Best of 2011.”
Doors open at 7:30 pm. American Express presale tickets are $30 and can be purchased online by American Express Card members starting Wednesday, January 18, at noon. Public onsale is Monday, February 1, at noon. American Express is the exclusive payment method for presale tickets. American Express ticket purchasers will also receive a special gift. All proceeds benefit the GRAMMY Museum . For more information, please call (213.765.6803) or visit grammymuseum.org.

An Evening With America
Presented by American Express
Tuesday, February 7, 2012; 8:00 p.m.

The GRAMMY Museum is honored to present iconic, GRAMMY Award-winning rock group America. Currently celebrating their 40th anniversary together, America founders Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have performed approximately 100 shows a year together since their formation in 1970. Sons of U.S. Air Force fathers, the band members met in England when they were students at London Central High School . Their debut album, released in 1971, quickly went Platinum. Five subsequent releases went either Gold or Platinum and their greatest hits compilation reached the four million sales mark. Hear the band, in discussion about their success as hit writers of enduring rock-folk-pop classics, their celebrated 40th Anniversary Tour and the release of Back Pages, their newest album, a collection of glimmering interpretations of timeless songs. After the interview, moderated by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli , America will take audience questions and will perform an acoustic set.
Doors open at 7:30 pm. American Express presale tickets are $20 and can be purchased online by American Express Card members starting Friday, January 13, at noon. Public onsale is Monday, February 1, at noon. American Express is the exclusive payment method for presale tickets. American Express ticket purchasers will also receive a special gift. All proceeds benefit the GRAMMY Museum . For more information, please call (213.765.6803) or visit grammymuseum.org.

An Evening With Michelle Phillips from The Mamas And The Papas
Presented by American Express
Thursday, February 16, 2012; 8:00 p.m.

Best known for being one of the singers for the Sixties folk/pop group, The Mamas and the Papas, which she formed in 1965 with Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty and John Phillips, California-born Michelle Phillips is the last-surviving member of the iconic group. Having co-wrote some of the band's biggest hits including "Creeque Alley" and " California Dreamin', Phillips became one of the most-recognizable faces in music. After the group disbanded in 1971, Phillips actively pursued an acting career. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her work in “Dillinger” and got her big TV break in 1987 as Anne Matheson Sumner in the prime-time soap "Knots Landing." Hear Phillips in discussion, along with GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli , about her expansive career in show business, as well as current endeavors. After the interview, Phillips will take audience questions and will be available for a fan meet and greet.
Doors open at 7:30 pm. American Express presale tickets are $20 and can be purchased online by American Express Card members starting Wednesday, January 18, at noon. Public onsale is Wednesday, February 8, at noon. American Express is the exclusive payment method for presale tickets. American Express ticket purchasers will also receive a special gift. All proceeds benefit the GRAMMY Museum . For more information, please call (213.765.6803) or visit grammymuseum.org.