Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 NAMM Show Roundup: Graham Nash, Jake Shimabukuro, Taylor Guitars, Yamaha, more

The Anaheim Convention Center hosts the annual NAMM Show.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
I spent the better part of a week at the 2016 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, taking in as many sights and sounds as possible, stretching from Media Preview Day (Jan. 20) through a late night performance from alternative-Americana singer-songwriter Michael Ubaldini that wrapped up just before midnight on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Here are some highlights from this year's amazing National Association of Music Merchants show, better known as NAMM.

Media Preview Day, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016
Over the course of a few fast-moving hours, a number of exciting new products were showcased for reporters, photographers and news crews. 
Tribal Tools showcased the new Kadabra at the
NAMM Show during Media Preview Day.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

One of the most exciting debuts on media preview day came courtesy of the Kadabra by Israel-based Tribal Tools. A trio of musicians took the stage and performed on the unique wireless instrument in something that combined world music with sci-fi synth sounds; the ergonomic design also has an adapter and can be outfitted with a microphone so the musician can sing while playing the instrument at the same time. Tribal Tools presenter Moshe Yoffe explained that the Kadabra combines high-tech electronics, motion sensors, a sleek design and smart algorithms to allow players to expand their musical expression. Information:

The 660 Guitar weighs in at 7 pounds and has an aluminum body with a carbon fiber/graphite neck. According to the makers of the guitar, it is practically indestructible and has a sound that is as rich as other top-tier electric guitars in the marketplace. It retails for $2,995, and comes in a number of sleek designs and colors. Performing with the guitar was Zebrahead guitarist Dan Palmer. Every order comes with strap locks and a low-profile guitar case. Information:

In celebration of John Lennon's 75th birthday (the Beatle would have turned 75 on Oct. 9, 2015), C.F. Martin & Co. debuted the Martin D-28 John Lennon 75th Anniversary Edition guitar. The legendary guitar maker is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of its iconic Dreadnought model by unveiling the Martin D-222 100th Anniversary Edition acoustic model. Information:
Caroline Campbell playing a new Yamaha Electric
Violin at NAMM. Photo: Bob Steshetz

Famed violinist Caroline Campbell (Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Chris Botti) was brought out to showcase a new Yamaha Electric Violin; as impressive as that state-of-the-art YEV series instrument was it was one of only 100 new music-related products introduced by Buena Park, CA-based Yamaha at this year's NAMM Show. New products include high-tech digital mixing consoles, the Disklavier Enspire piano and much more. Get more information on Yamaha's range of new products that made their debut at NAMM here.
Andy Powers with new 12-string
guitar at NAMM.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Taylor Guitars was able to showcase two exciting products. Taylor Master Guitar Designer Andy Powers shared with me about the company's 12-Fret Guitar Revival. "This year (2016) we are re-evaluating and reconsidering our heritage. Some of Taylor's 'first hit singles' were 12-string guitars," Powers said. Taylor set out to offer an expanded suite of player-friendly 12-fret models for 2016 (the design and production of the 12-string revivals has been in the works for approximately 2-1/2 years). This writer had a chance to play the all-Mahogany 562ce 12-Fret guitar and I can attest to its full rich tone, and how easy it is to play. "The guitar was too cool to not build," Powers said.

Looking to the future, Taylor announced the release of TaylorSense®, a revolutionary new technology that puts the health and vital signs of a Taylor Guitar directly into the owner's hands. TaylorSense integrates the guitar's hardware with mobile software to help players better care for their instrument and get the most out of playing it. Anchored by the TaylorSense smart battery box (which replaces the 9-volt battery box in any acoustic Taylor guitar), the box houses sensors that monitor the condition of the guitar and communicates via low-energy Bluetooth to the free Taylor Guitars iOS App. For more information about this product, its release date this spring, visit

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016
Jake Shimabukuro performs during "Breakfast of
Champions." Photo: Robert Kinsler
Getting to the Winter NAMM Show early is always a good idea. While the Anaheim Convention Center doesn't generally open until around 10 a.m., making a point of hitting the show's opening "Breakfast of Champions" seldom disappoints. On the official opening day of this year's show, the surprise musical guest was Jake Shimabukuro. A true ukulele virtuoso, he blended elements of rock, blues, jazz, funk, classical and flamenco during a set that included reworkings of rock classics and original compositions. Highlights included a jaw-dropping take on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and inspired set-ending arrangement of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

After the stunning performance from Shimabukuro, NAMM's President and CEO Joe Lamond presented singer-songwriter Graham Nash (The Hollies; Crosby, Stills & Nash) with the "Music for Life" award. "The fact is that when music is a part of the school program students are less liely to join a gang, less likely to get into trouble, feel better about themselves and get better grades," Nash said. "So let's keep music in schools."
Mark Johnson, left, and Emory Lester performing
at Deering Banjo. Photo: Robert Kinsler

Thursday saw a number of other solid performances that played out. One of the first performances I caught featured banjo virtuoso Mark Johnson and guitarist-mandolin player Emory Lester playing a satisfying set at the Deering Banjo Company booth. Their long set of instrumentals allowed each to showcase their skills, and a potent version of "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone."

Fingerstyle guitarist Laurence Juber is a regular visitor to the NAMM Show and always attracts good-sized audiences to see him perform a wide range of material showcasing his technical skill on his Martin guitar. Performing at Hal Leonard, he showcased material featured in "DADGAD Solos," a book now available now featuring his original transcriptions. Highlights included a tender version of Del Shannon's "Runaway," the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Georgia On My Mind." He also performed a shining original, "Cobalt Blue," allowing him to showcase his own skills as a composer.
Chelsea (on far right) and Grace Constable performed 
with Trey Hensley at Taylor Guitars on Jan. 21, 2016.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Taylor hosted a number of concerts each day of NAMM and I made it a point to catch as many as I could. Thursday afternoon featured the one-two guitar punch from siblings Chelsea and Grace Constable, who played a rousing set of bluegrass-meets-gypsy jazz instrumental prowess. Trading leads and displaying an obvious sense of fun throughout their set, highlights included the jazzy "Burning Steam," Americana-styled "Dad's Song" and an incredible version of Dire Straits'"Sultans of Swing." Taking a well-deserved encore, the Constables they were joined by singer-guitarist Trey Hensley for a rousing version of the blues standard "Mystery Train" and a set-ending take on the Johnny Cash classic "Folsom Prison Blues." 

Following the sisters' impressive NAMM debut, Hensley performed a solo set that showcased the Nashville-based artist's love of traditional country music and bluegrass. Highlights of his short set included a beautiful self-penned ballad "That's What Leaving's For" (set to be included on his next album) and an energetic take on Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." He closed his set with a cover of Jimmy Martin's "Freeborn Man," with his dazzling arrangement even including a bit of John Lennon's "Norwegian Wood" thrown into the solo.
Shane Fontayne, left, and Graham Nash performing at
Winter NAMM Show. Photo: Bob Steshetz

Thursday night, Nash was the featured performer on the Grand Plaza Stage. In addition to featuring some of his best-known hits from the Hollies and CSN, he also played several songs off his forthing album This Path Tonight, set for release on April 15. Nash performed with CSN guitarist Shane Fontayne.

Opening with melodic rendition of the Hollies' 1966 hit "Bus Stop," Nash acknowledged the audience after the song: "That was a long time ago." Nash continued to mine the past and went on to deliver a dream set of material, often providing the background on what led to some of his most famous songs. "Marrakesh Express," "Our House," "Fieldworker," "Immigration Man" and others benefited from the mix of storytelling and song. 

The strongest single performance of the night came when Nash went to the piano and, after recalling how David Crosby got him to come along on an extended sailing trip, he performed "Wind on the Water," a beautiful moment that brought a sense of stirring emotion throughout the crowd standing in front of the stage.

Among the new songs from his upcoming "This Path Tonight" was "Golden Day," a song where he celebrates life now and the everyday joys that overcome the world's obvious challenges. Another new song, "Myself At Last," also tapped into that optimistic tone.

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016
James Grey is one of several Orange County-based artists I made a point of catching on Saturday. A talented songwriter and guitarist, he sang a number of songs while utilizing the talents of guitar great Bob Hawkins. Grey's songs often blend soul, rock, pop and Americana, with the specific art of songcraft always anchoring his originals. "Seabreeze" and the soulful "Home" were among the standouts featured in his 33-minute set that played out on the Hilton Stage.

John and Jacob tearing it up at Taylor Guitars.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

John & Jacob were impressive when I saw them perform at Stagecoach Festival in Indio in 2015, but the quintet simply blew me away when I caught their set at Taylor Guitars. Somehow coming across as a masterful blend somewhere between Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons and the Everly Brothers, the Nashville-based group includes singer-guitarist John Davidson, singer-guitarist-trumpet player Jacob Bryant, singer-guitarist-keyboardist Austin T. Smith, bassist Jake Thrasher and drummer Trevor Davis. Among the songs that impressed me (along with everyone else yearning for more in Taylor) was the anthemic opener "Coming Back For You," the country-leaning rocker "Done," and driving country-meets-rock harmonies-filled standout "Give It Away" that closed the outstanding set. Learn more about this exciting ensemble here:

Michael Ubaldini performing at the 2016 NAMM
Show. Photo: Robert Kinsler

Michael Ubaldini is rightfully considered a leader of the regional Americana scene, having long ago mastered how to blend rockabilly, pop, folk, country blues and other roots styles together in the service of his intelligent songs. Over the course of 45 minutes on the Sheraton Acoustic Stage, Ubaldini used nothing more than an acoustic guitar, harmonica and his potent vocals in the delivery of gems such as the rousing "Jean Harlow," pensive "Shadows and Ghosts" and blistering "Scratch My Back." 

Robert Kinsler

Friday, January 29, 2016

REVIEWS: David Bowie ('Blackstar'), The Jam, Jaco Pastorius, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Hackett, Grateful Dead

Music lovers have a wealth of new releases to celebrate including David Bowie's inspired Blackstar and a number of new multi-format titles now available.

Artist: David Bowie
Album: Blackstar (Columbia)
You might like if you enjoy: David Bowie, Radiohead
Tell me more: David Bowie celebrated his 69th birthday on January 8, 2016 with the release of his 25th studio album Blackstar. Only two days later the legendary artist was dead following an 18-month fight against cancer. Whether it was his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego and "Berlin era" masterworks that gave rise to classics such as “Heroes” or his 1983 commercial return “Let’s Dance” and seminal hard rock foray Tin Machine, Bowie was never one to repeat himself. And that couldn’t be more true than the sonic territory explored across BlackstarMasterfully blending rock, jazz, art damage and electronica, Bowie has left the world with a final masterpiece. This is an album that reveals its moods, textures and depths with each new listen. The ambitious 10-minute title track, stunning "Lazarus" and propulsive disc-ending "I Can't Give Everything Away" are among the instantly-affecting songs. Information:  

Artist: The Jam
Title: About the Young Idea (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Blur, The Clash, Paul Weller
Tell me more: About the Young Idea is a package that gets it right. Chronicling the Jam's story via a great 90-minute documentary as well as a wealth of bonus features and a previously-unreleased concert film (a 1980 performance on Germany's "Rockpalast"). The story of singer-guitarist Paul Weller, bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler is fully delivered via classic footage and photos, as well as historic and recent interviews with the members of the band, producers, journalists and fans. The second disc of the collection features a 80-minute appearance notable for the potent delivery of one driving rocker after another, the trio's energy and power is showcased via the formidable "Going Underground," wistful "Private Hell," melodic folk rocker "Liza Radley" and confessional "But I'm Different Now." About the Young Idea is available on Blu-ray, DVD, as a deluxe edition (which includes a 40-page hardback book, two DVDs and an audio CD featuring the 1980 "Rockpalast" concert) and via digital. Information:

Artist: Jaco Pastorius
Title: Jaco (Iron Horse Entertainment / MVD)
You might like if you enjoy: Pat Metheny, Robert Truillo, Geddy Lee
Tell me more: Both players and lovers of the bass guitar recognize Jaco Pastorius with the same level of respect that electric guitar aficionados hold Jimi Hendrix. Now the story of Pastorius is celebrated via Jaco, an important movie produced by Metallica bassist (that fills disc one) Robert Trujillo, as well as ancillary materials including interviews with Joni Mitchell, Carlos Santana, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins, Flea and historic performance footage to shed light as part of a much-deserved tribute to the legendary Pastorius (who passed away in September 1987 at the age of 35). "Jaco" is available on Blu-ray or DVD. Information:

Artist: Ritchie Blackmore
DVD Title: The Ritchie Blackmore Story (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore
Tell me more: Few rock guitarists loom larger than Ritchie Blackmore. A talented and highly-influential guitar great who was a skilled studio player in the 1960s before joining Deep Purple and leading Rainbow in the '70s and '80s, the 70-year-old English musician has since gone on to enjoy a second career as a Renaissance-styled folk project Blackmore's Night. On the newly-released The Ritchie Blackmore Story (available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital, as well as a deluxe edition), Blackmore life and work is explored with interviews with the guitarist as well as a long list of illustrious admirers including Brian May (Queen), Steve Lukather (Toto), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and many others, along with classic performance clips. Information:

Artist: Steve Hackett
DVD Title: The Man, The Music (Wienerworld)
You might like if you enjoy: Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Steve Morse, Yes
Tell me more: The aptly-titled The Man, The Music is a documentary that looks at progressive rock guitarist Steve Hackett's rich life and career, which includes his key role as a member of Genesis (including during the recording of "Selling England by the Pound" and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and through recent times with his own "Wolf Light" and the Genesis Revisited project. "The Man, The Music." features archive and recent interviews with Hackett, as well as rock notables including Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Chris Squire (Yes) in one of his final filmed interviews and long-time producer Roger King. Of special interest to guitarists is an intimate look as Hackett reveals some of his electric and acoustic guitar techniques. Information:

Artist: The Grateful Dead
Title: Fare Thee Well
You might like if you enjoy: The Grateful Dead
Tell me more: Deadheads from all over the globe flocked to Chicago's Soldier Field in late June and early July 2015 to catch the surviving four core members of Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir) join forces with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti to perform as part of a 50-year anniversary celebration of the Palo Alto-spawned Grateful Dead. Now the final show of that so-called Fare Thee Well concert (staged on July 5, 2015 and almost 20 years after the death of Jerry Garcia) is out as a deluxe 2 DVD/3 CD set. "Fare Thee Well" includes the complete 18-song concert, with stunning 5.1 surround and stereo audio mixes bringing the magic of the concert to the home theater in full-fledged fashion. Classics performed include "China Cat Sunflower," "Truckin'," and "Touch of Grey." Information: and

Robert Kinsler

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Cars Remastered Boxed Set And Best Of Coming This Spring From Rhino

It is great to see the Cars' classic catalog get the deluxe treatment it deserves. Here is a media release from Rhino worth highlighting...


New Boxed Set The Elektra Years 1978-1987 Features Six Studio Albums With 
New Digital Remastering Overseen By Ric Ocasek Available On March 11

New Single-Disc Hits Collection Moving In Stereo: The Best Of The Cars 
Arrives On May 6 
LOS ANGELES - In 1978, the Cars had a Top 40 hit with the band's very first single, "Just What I Needed." That streak continued over the next 10 years, as the band revisited the Top 40 a dozen more times with radio hits "Let's Go" and "Shake It Up" along with iconic videos like "Magic" and "You Might Think," which won MTV's first-ever "Video Of The Year" award in 1984. 

The five original members - Ric Ocasek, the late Benjamin Orr, Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton and David Robinson - recorded six studio albums together - all of them with Elektra Records - and have sold more than 23 million albums in the U.S. alone.  

Rhino will release two new collections in the spring to honor The Cars' vast musical legacy. The first is a boxed set featuring all six of the band's Elektra studio albums. The second is a single-disc, career-spanning collection curated by The Cars that combines the group's best songs along with a trio of rare and unreleased alternate versions. 

THE ELEKTRA YEARS 1978-1987 includes six studio albums, each one presented in a replica sleeve with original artwork. Ric Ocasek oversaw digital remastering for the set, while drummer David Robinson - who helped create The Cars' iconic album covers through the years - served as art director. The six-disc collection will be available March 11 on CD ($39.98) and digitally. On Tuesday June 7, a limited edition vinyl version of the boxed set will be available with each 180-gram LP pressed on a different color vinyl. 

The extensive set retraces the band's musical journey in the studio and includes: The Cars (1978),Candy-O (1979), Panorama (1980), Shake It Up (1981), Heartbeat City, (1984) and Door To Door (1987). Among the 60 tracks are the band's biggest hits - "My Best Friend's Girl," "Good Times Roll," "You Are The Girl," and "Drive."

MOVING IN STEREO: THE BEST OF THE CARS will be available on May 6 on CD ($18.98) and as a 2-LP set on 180-gram vinyl ($34.98). The collection is produced by the band, with all surviving members contributing to song selection. Ocasek also supervised digital remastering of all the audio with Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound.

The collection features the band's big hits along with a rare, single mix for "I'm Not The One," as well as a live version of "Everything You Say," and a new mix by producer Philippe Zdar of "Sad Song," a track from the band's last album, 2011's Move Like This

Track Listing
1.    "Just What I Needed"
2.    "Since You're Gone"
3.    "Let's Go"
4.    "You Might Think"
5.    "Shake It Up"
6.    "Drive"
7.    "Tonight She Comes"
8.    "My Best Friend's Girl"
9.    "Don't Tell Me No"
10.  "You're All I've Got Tonight"
11.  "I'm Not The One" - Single Mix
12.  "Candy-O"
13.  "Heartbeat City"
14.  "Touch And Go"
15.  "Moving In Stereo"
16.  "Dangerous Type"
17.  "Sad Song" - Zdar Mix*
18.  "Everything You Say" - Live*
*Previously Unreleased
THE CARS (1978)SHAKE IT UP (1981)
1.    "Good Times Roll"
2.    "My Best Friend's Girl"
3.    "Just What I Needed"
4.    "I'm In Touch With Your World"
5.    "Don't Cha Stop"
6.    "You're All I've Got Tonight"
7.    "Bye Bye Love"
8.    "Moving In Stereo"
9.    "All Mixed Up"

1.    "Since You're Gone"
2.    "Shake It Up"
3.    "I'm Not The One"
4.    "Victim Of Love"
5.    "Cruiser"
6.    "A Dream Away"
7.    "This Could Be Love"
8.    "Think It Over"
9.    "Maybe Baby"
1.    "Let's Go"
2.    "Since I Held You"
3.    "It's All I Can Do"
4.    "Double Life"
5.    "Shoo Be Doo"
6.    "Candy-O"
7.    "Night Spots"
8.    "You Can't Hold On Too Long"
9.    "Lust For Kicks"
10.  "Got A Lot On My Head"
11.  "Dangerous Type"
1.    "Hello Again"
2.    "Looking For Love"
3.    "Magic"
4.    "Drive"
5.    "Stranger Eyes"
6.    "You Might Think"
7.    "It's Not The Night"
8.    "Why Can't I Have You"
9.    "I Refuse"
10.  "Heartbeat City"
1.    "Panorama"
2.    "Touch And Go"
3.    "Gimme Some Slack"
4.    "Don't Tell Me No"
5.    "Getting Through"
6.    "Misfit Kid"
7.    "Down Boys"
8.    "You Wear Those Eyes"
9.    "Running To You"
10.  "Up And Down"
1.    "Leave Or Stay"
2.    "You Are The Girl"
3.    "Double Trouble"
4.    "Fine Line"
5.    "Everything You Say"
6.    "Ta Ta Wayo Wayo"
7.    "Strap Me In"
8.    "Coming Up You"
9.    "Wound Up On You"
10.  "Go Away"
11.  "Door To Door"

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cheap Trick to release new album April 1; first track "No Direction Home" out now

Rick Nielsen, left, with this writer at the 2016 NAMM
Show in Anaheim last week.
Last week I had the honor of meeting Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, CA, and it's great to see that he and the rest of Cheap Trick are coming back with another album in early spring. Fans of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-bound quartet can hear the first song from 'Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello' too. Below is the official media release related to Cheap Trick that landed in my inbox during NAMM, and I wanted to play "catch up" and post it here today. Robert Kinsler

Cheap Trick to release lead track "No Direction Home"

Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello
Set for Worldwide Release on April 1, 2016

2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "Rock Hall Three For All" U.S. Tour
Kicks Off July 14 with Heart & Joan Jett 

Legendary power-pop collective Cheap Trick set a new course with "No Direction Home," from their upcoming album Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello, due out April 1, their first on Big Machine Records. Pulsating riffs intertwine with the anthemic chorus in this first taste of new music in over five years from the iconic four-piece from Rockford, IL. Fans can pre-order the album beginning March 4 and listen to the first track here.
Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello follows the recent announcement about the band's forthcoming induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The long-awaited news celebrates the pioneering sound that has lead to sales in excess of 20 MILLION and more than 40 international GOLD and PLATINUM certifications for their multi-award winning back catalogue. Cheap Trick's music has also been featured on more than 20 major feature film soundtracks.
Now into their fourth decade of recording, Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello marks Cheap Trick's 17th studio album and was produced by GRAMMY award-winning producer Julian Raymond. Firmly cemented as one of the most important bands in music history, the quartet will continue their reign as the top progenitors of power-pop through 2016 and beyond with the release of Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello.
Cheap Trick are an indisputable American institution, beloved around the globe since 1974 for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop rock 'n' roll. The band - Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Daxx Nielsen (drums) - are truly one-of-a-kind pioneers with an unparalleled streak of certifiably classic tunes such as "Surrender," "I Want You To Want Me" and "Dream Police."
Famous for having played over 5,000 shows in their career, Cheap Trick will hit the road again this summer in support of Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello and to celebrate their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The band will kick off the "Rock Hall Three For All" tour of the US alongside Heart and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, beginning July 14 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Michigan. The 30-date tour will culminate at Florida's Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre on September 23. Full Cheap Trick tour dates can be found at

Monday, January 25, 2016

NAMM 2016: Music Worth Buying episode, part 1; Graham Nash talks music

TJR and I have started posting our video coverage from the 2016 NAMM Show. Enjoy everybody! First, watch part 1 of our annual roundup featuring product news, interviews and live performances.

Then, watch as legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash shares some of his thoughts on music:

Monday, January 18, 2016

R.I.P. Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey performing at the Forum in Los Angeles in 2014.
Photo credit: Kelly A. Swift
January 2016 is proving to be a difficult one for music fans. While the world continues to mourn the death of David Bowie last week, we are now just as suddenly and sadly impacted with the tragic news that Eagles guitarist-singer Glenn Frey has died. He was only 67.

Frey was an original and founding member of the band, and co-wrote beloved hits including "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California."

"Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia," according to a statement on the band's official Web site.

"Glenn was the one who started it all," wrote Eagles bandmate Don Henley. The two met in 1970 and went on to form one of rock's most popular and enduring groups. "He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn't quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven."

I first caught the musical troupe in concert in 1994 during the band's highly-anticipated "Hell Freezes Over" reunion tour that included a stop in Irvine, CA, and then caught the Eagles again when they performed at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA in May 2008. I will continue to update this post as more news and reaction comes in from the musical community:

Ringo Starr (via his Twitter feed): "God bless Glenn Frey peace and love to all his family and friends"  

 – Travis Tritt has released a statement regarding the passing of his longtime friend, founding member and guitarist of the Eagles, Glenn Frey.
Tritt commented, "Glenn Frey and the music he created alone and with The Eagles have been such an inspiration to me. We first met at the video shoot for my version of ‘Take It Easy’ in 1993. He always went out of his way to acknowledge and encourage me ever since. I'm a better person, better musician and a better songwriter having met him. I still can't believe he is gone!"
Tritt’s 1993 release of Eagles’ “Take It Easy” led to a reunion of the famously acrimonious band as they came together to appear in the music video.  The meeting led to reconciliation and the band put aside their differences, eventually reuniting for their 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour.

The Recording Academy® re: Glenn Frey
Jan. 18, 2016

As a founding member of the Eagles, Glenn Frey was an integral part of one of the most storied bands in pop history. His songwriting, especially with bandmate Don Henley, resulted in some of the biggest hits and standards of the ’70s, including songs like "Desperado," "One Of These Nights," "Lyin’ Eyes," and "Hotel California." The latter two earned the Eagles two of their six GRAMMY Awards. Desperado and the milestone album Hotel California, along with its title track, have been inducted into the GRAMMY Hall OF Fame. The band’s Their Greatest Hits: 1971-1975 remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, a testament to the enduring music that Glenn played a significant role in creating. Glenn’s untimely passing is a huge loss for the music community, and we offer our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.

Neil Portnow
The Recording Academy

Robert Kinsler

Friday, January 15, 2016

Titles shed light on seminal studios, Taylor Guitars, King of Pop, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and more

Last year saw the release of a slew of noteworthy new books focused on much-loved corners of the music universe, including British recording studios, Southern California-based Taylor Guitars, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and more. Here is an overview of several of the essential titles now available.

Title: The Great British Recording Studios (Hal Leonard Books)
Author: Howard Massey
Tell me more: Fans of the Beatles and other bands who comprised the British Invasion won't be the only ones interested in grabbing "The Great British Recording Studios." With a foreword by Sir George Martin's providing a kick-off, Howard Massey's wonderful book provides an in-depth review of the growth of England's recording studio industry following World War II, and looks at specific facilities including Abbey Road (EMI Studios), Decca, IBC and others. There are specifics about equipment used at the various studios and key recordings that were made at each. There are also stories from some of the sessions and a myriad of other points about the British studios that are detailed enough to thrill audiophiles and musicologists, but readable enough for the music fan without the technical background of a studio engineer or record producer. There are a wealth of historical color and black & white photos captured inside the studios too. Information:

Purchase 'The Great British Recording Studios' here

Title: The Taylor Guitar Book (Backbeat Books)
Author: Teja Gerken
Tell me more: Neil Young, Jason Mraz, Damon Albarn, Zac Brown and Dave Matthews are among the countless musicians who play Taylor guitars. Now the story of Taylor Guitars (based in San Diego, CA) is revealed via the wonderful Teja Gerken-penned "The Taylor Guitar Book." Founded in 1974 (long after companies such as Gibson, Fender, Guild, Martin and Rickenbacker had seemingly cornered the market), Taylor has grown to be among the leaders of the industry while attracting the loyalty of guitarists around the globe. This colorfully-illustrated 160-page book will appeal to both casual and hardcore fans of Taylor-made acoustic and electric instruments. Information:

Get 'The Taylor Guitar Book: 40 Years of Great American Flattops' here

Title: Michael Jackson FAQ (Backbeat Books)
Author: Kit O'Toole
Tell me more: Writer Kit O'Toole has taken a straight-forward, but effective path in providing a bigger picture of Michael Jackson's long career, which included the King of Pop's work and influence in the worlds of music, film, dance and pop culture. Looking at a long career spanning his work with the Jackson 5, the Jacksons and groundbreaking solo career, Jackson's work with Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, and even his posthumous successes (notably the 2009 documentary film "This Is It") are also covered by O'Toole in an illustrated book stretching across 464 pages. Information:

Buy 'Michael Jackson FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Pop' here

Title: Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth (Viking)
Author: John Szwed
Tell me more: A former professor of music and director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, John Szwed proved to be the perfect author to pen the well-researched and involving "Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth." Released in paperback in early 2015, the biography sheds light on Holiday's groundbreaking role as jazz singer and early champion in the fight against racism. What emerges is that despite the troubles and challenges Holiday faced in her all-too-brief life (the New York native died at the age of 44 in 1959) was she was an artist of tremendous talent who influenced countless contemporaries and musical descendants. Information:

Buy 'Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth' here

Title: Sinatra: The Chairman (Doubleday)
Author: James Kaplan
Tell me more: At 992 pages, the hardcover edition of James Kaplan's "Sinatra: The Chairman" picks up where the author left off with 2010's "Sinatra: The Voice" and fully paints a portrait of the 20th century icon beginning with the day after he picked up his Academy Award in 1954 (for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "From Here to Eternity"). This biography is a ripe with insights into Sinatra's last act ("Ol' Blue Eyes" died in 1998, but would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 12, 2015) that was filled with incredible highs and lows. It takes a lot to capture one of the last century's most dynamic and significant entertainers, and Kaplan has done that masterfully in "Sinatra: The Chairman." Information:

Purchase 'Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan' here

Title: Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller (125 Books)
Author: Brett Milano
Tell me more: In a world filled with under-the-radar musical heroes, few loom larger than Scott Miller. A groundbreaking indie rocker who fronted Game Theory in the '80s and The Loud Family in the '90s. Although Miller's insightful and intelligent style of literate songcraft has drawn comparisons with the celebrated likes of Elvis Costello and Big Star, his lost place is just now being fully realized thanks to several recent (and upcoming) reissues as well as Brett Milano's fantastic appreciation "Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller" released in October 2015. Information:

Buy 'Don't All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Pop Genius of Scott Miller' here

Robert Kinsler