Wednesday, January 30, 2008

R.E.M. Announces 2008 North American Tour

Hot on the heels of their new CD Accelerate, to be released in the U.S. on April 1st, R.E.M. has set the first group of dates for its North American tour.

Here are the dates R.E.M. has released so far:

Vancouver, 5/23 - DEER LAKE PARK

Los Angeles, 5/29 - HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Berkeley, 5/31 - THE GREEK THEATRE

Denver, 6/03 - RED ROCKS

Chicago, 6/06 - UNITED CENTER




Boston, 6/13 - TWEETER CENTER

Long Island, 6/14 - JONES BEACH THEATER

Philadelphia, 6/18 - MANN CENTER

New York City, 6/19 - TBA


I'm curious about that where that 6/19 New York date is taking place... maybe it's an outdoor festival that's in the works and isn't ready to be announced (Randall's Island perhaps?)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bette Midler to Retire from Show Biz

Bette Midler, the multitalented singer, actress, and comedian, has announced that she will retire from show business after her current 30-month run of shows in Las Vegas ends.

The 62-year-old performer may be best known by younger people for her roles in movies such as "The Rose," "For the Boys," and especially "Beaches," but many people (such as myself) know her as the singer who had a string of hit pop singles in the 1970s that included jazz, swing, and pop standards. The hits by the signer who called herself "The Divine Miss M" included "Do You Wanna Dance," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and "In the Mood," as well as the girl-group medley, "Uptown/Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)/Da Doo Run Run."

Bette Midler has been recognized for her skill in her various endeavors: she has won four Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award, and has been nominated for two Oscars.

Midler has a daughter, Sophie Frederica Alohilani von Haselberg, who is a student at Yale.

Bette Midler's Vegas show is called "The Showgirl Must Go On" and is to debut at The Colosseum at Caesars on February 20th. Midler will replace Celine Dion as the headline act.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kathleen Edwards, The Hives Perform at Hockey All-Star Game

Somebody at the National Hockey League has good taste in comtemporary music. It's All-Star Game on Sunday night featured the Canadian national anthem performed by Canadian alt-country/rock singer Kathleen Edwards, who I've liked ever since I heard her first single Six O'Clock News" in 2003.

Kathleen Edwards first became known with her 2003 debut album, "Failer," which featured the hit song "Six O'Clock News." It also contained the songs "Another Song the Radio Won't Like" and "Hockey Skates" ... being a Canadian I guess she likes hockey, so she's a good choice to sing the national anthem before the All-Star Game.

The second Kathleen Edwards album, "Back to Me," came out in 2005, and she's got a new one on the way in 2008 called "Asking for Flowers."

Unfortunately, I couldn't see the performance because I don't have the cable channel that televises the NHL. So not only did I miss Edwards, but I also didn't see the Swedish rock group The Hives, another band I like, doing their song "Tick Tick Boom" before the the start of the game. The good news is that I have tickets to see The Hives in concert in a few weeks, doing their Swedish garage-rock revival. If the show is as fun as their records, that gig should be a blast.

Kudos to the NHL for having such good taste in music. Now if they can only sign a TV contract with a major sports channel...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Elton John Has Busy Concert Schedule at 60

Turning 60 doesn't seem to be slowing Elton John down much... he's doing a stand of dozens of show in Las Vegas, and is also playing concerts at various places in the U.S. and elsewhere (including Europe and New Zealand). A few years back he signed a deal to perform 75 concerts at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This show, called "The Red Piano," isn't just an Elton John concert but (fitting for Las Vegas) but a show that "present[s] Elton’s great songs in a musical and visual extravaganza."

Elton John is also doing a series of more traditional concerts with his band in places like Paris and Vienna, but also some smaller towns that might seem unusual choices for an Elton John show: Darlington and Doncaster in England, and in the U.S. the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum at Washington State University in Pullman, and the Adams Center in Missoula, Montana.

Tickets for the Beasley and Adams Center shows seem to be sold out through their ticket outlet, Tickets West (, but you might be able to buy Elton John tickets through StubHub or other ticket brokers. The Elton John Web site also notes that more shows will be added, so you might want to check back with the official Elton John concert page at his site.

I've liked the music of Elton John since I first heard "Rocket Man" from his Honky Chateau album in 1972 (yeah, I'm that old), and I never would have guessed back then that this flamboyant superstar would still be rocking into the 21st century. Of course, back then, I thought that anyone over 30 was really, really old...

From the Gramophone to the iPod

This article has an interesting look at the history of the gramophone, an early sound-reproducing machine and, of course, the device for which the Grammy awards are named. The article also ties the history of the gramophone and phonograph to the development of the iPod, and draws some interesting parallels between sound machines, then and now.

How does a gramophone differ from a phonograph? Well, that gets kind of murky: the terms haven't always referred to the same device, and different terms were used in the U.S. and in England.

The gramophone, with its distinctive large horn, is immortalized in the Grammy logo and the Grammy award itself. That horn was how sound was reproduced from the disc (or cylinder); this was before the invention of the loudspeaker, and specialized elements like woofers, subwoofers, midrange speakers, tweeters, and such.

It's been a long technological leap from wax and foil cylinders to LP records, cassette tapes (and 8-tracks!), CDs, and now iPods and podcasts. What's amazing is how much has been achieved in such a relatively brief amount of time.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 Jumps Into the Free, On-Demand Music Pool

Internet music service announced new changes that will let users play songs, and even full albums, from many more artists than before. says that uses can now listen any song from the four major record labels, and tunes from countless indie artists, up to three times each for free., which was bought by CBS last year, seems to be making the change to better position itself with competitors iMeem, Rhapsody 25, and, which offer similar free music playing services, with differences in the number of free songs you can listen to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coachella 2008 Lineup Released

Portishead, the Breeders, Roger Waters, Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley, and M.I.A. are just a few of the names appearing at the 2008 Coachella festival in Indio, California. You can find it at the Coachella site and at sites such as Stereogum.

Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, will be recreating the band's "Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety.

The Coachella 2008 festival takes place April 25th -27th.

Much of the reaction in the blogosphere seems to be that this is a weak lineup, but hell, I see plenty of acts I'd like to catch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sheryl Crow Back in New York for Feb. Gigs

It's been a while since Sheryl Crow headlined a gig in the New York area, but she's coming back for a pair of concerts (Feb. 6th and 7th), and at a smaller venue than before.

Crow played some shows on tour with John Mayer a year or so ago. And was scheduled to headline a show at the New Jersey Performing Art Center a couple of years back, but had to cancel that part of her tour when she discovered she had breast cancer. Now she's doing two shows at Irving Plaza (of "Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza," as the venue is now called).

As a longtime Sheryl Crow fan, I'm glad to see her in a smaller venue like Irving Plaza, where I can move up close if I want (even though it's a standing-only venue), as opposed to the larger, more formal concert halls where you're stuck in an assigned seat, probably far from the action unless you can pony up for tickets in the first few rows.

Sheryl Crow's new album "Detours" is aptly named, reflecting on the twists and turns in life, including the ones that she has experienced in the last few years: her breakup from fiance Lance Armstrong, her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, and her new role as a mother (she adopted a child last year). "Detours" also marks a return to working with producer Bill Bottrell, the man who worked with her on her breakthrough first album, "Tuesday Night Music Club."

With all these changes and reflections, maybe it's fitting that Crow is returning to playing in smaller, standing-only clubs. She may well be playing in a big seated concert hall on her next trip to New York, so I'm going to catch her at Irving Plaza this time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Burning Man 2008: Tickets On Sale Now

Tickets for Burning Man 2008 went on sale Wednesday morning, January 16th. Burning Man takes place during the week before Labor Day, August 25th to Sept. 1st. You can find tickets at

The attendees of Burning Man at one time were an interesting mix of hippies, spiritual seekers, and biker-types, but the number of people of going has skyrocketed, and you can find people of all ages and from all walks of life there. What is Burning Man? I couldn't begin to explain... the Burning Man site takes a stab at it, but it's pretty lengthy. It's just not something that can be summed up in a brief sentence or two.

Burning Man tickets are priced at several different levels, on the honor system: purchasers are asked to buy the highest-priced tickets they are able to afford. This article on Cnet explains the ticket prices and has a link to the site for Burning Man tickets.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Steve Jobs- Macworld 2008 Keynote Live

Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. is delivering his keynote right now, and as usual is liveblogging the speech. So far there are new features added to the iPhone, a new Apple TV enhancement that doesn't require a computer, and as expected, video rentals from the iTunes store.

UPDATE: Yes, Jobs introduced the rumored thin-and-light laptop, and it is indeed called the MacBook Air. It's got a 13" screen, a multitouch trackpad, a flip-down door to protect the ports, built-in 802.11n wireless, and a 1.8" drive, which is the the same drive that's in some iPods. It sounds like the MacBook Air has a traditional hard drive as well as a solid state drive, for quick startup and maybe playing CDs and DVDs without going through the whole hard drive startup process.

The price: the MacBook Air starts at $1,799. Ouch! Yeah, it sounds like a great machine, but if you want more than the minimum package, it'll run $2K or more.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Macworld 2008 Steve Jobs Keynote - A Lite Laptop in the Air?

Macworld 2008 officially began Monday, Jan. 14th, but for most observers Macworld doesn't start until Tuesday morning--when Steve Jobs delivers his keynote address.

The Steve Jobs keynote is the highlight of any Macworld conference and expo, because that's when Jobs unveils the latest and coolest innovations in Mac hardware and software.

Fortune wonders how Steve Jobs can top last year's Macworld keynote, when he introduced the iPhone, then suggests a few potential items: the hottest being the long-rumored think-and-light MacBook, which some people are calling the MacBook Air.

This rumor is further fueled by the fact that Apple's Web site shows the phrase "There's something in the air" on a black background. The page also invites readers to watch Jobs's keynote address live on Tuesday, which may be the first time they've done that.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shelby Lynne Channels Dusty Springfield

Shelby Lynne is one of those singers who can't be pigeon-holed simply as a country or pop artist. She started out as a country artist, then evolved into writing and performing songs that can incorporate elements of pop, rock, country, folk, and soul, in different measures. Her mingling of styles drew comparison to "Dusty in Memphis," the pop/country/soul record made in the 1960s by top-selling pop singer Dustry Springfield.

The New York Times Magazine takes a look at her career and her new album in today's issue, which should give her some welcome exposure.

Shelby Lynne's album, "I Am Shelby Lynne," was a critical success and sold well, and Lynne seemed to be well on her way to mainstream success. She even won the Best New Artist Grammy in 2001. It's an album that I played again and again after I bought it.

Her next two albums were considered not as good, and the popular success that once seemed hers eluded her. Now Lynne is channeling Dusty Springfield directly on her new album, "Just a Little Lovin'," which is a tribute to Springfield, who died in 1999.

"Just a Little Lovin'," which is due to be released Jan. 29th, has a connection to Springfield besides the songs: it was produced by Phil Ramone, who produced Dusty Springfield's 1967 version of "The Look of Love." Ramone is a legendary producer who has worked with stars ranging from Billy Joel to Frank Sinatra.

Most of the songs on "Just a Little Lovin'" are remakes of Dusty Springfield classics, including "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," but there is one tune that Lynne wrote.

I doubt that this new album will finally make Shelby Lynne a star, but I'm hoping it will bring her some more attention, acclaim, and record sales.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grey's Anatomy Music - Songs and Bands for Each Episode

Whether or not you're a fan of the TV show "Grey's Anatomy," you have to admit they have a killer soundtrack of great songs by leading indie artists in each episode. The Web site Grey's Anatomy Music now makes it easy to track down that snippet of a song you heard on the show and are dying to find out who it was.

Sia, Tegan and Sara, The Cardigans, KT Tunstall, Nellie McKay, and many other artists have gotten great exposure on Grey's Anatomy. This site lets you find out who performed what song in what episode. And Grey's Anatomy Music lists the songs and artists for each episode, and there are also brief recaps of each episode to jog your memory.

I can't vouch for how complete Grey's Anatomy Music is, however. Just a quick glance over the Season 1 songs the site lists reveals that it's missing some tunes that are on the soundtrack CD for that season. One particular omission is Rilo Kiley's great song "Portions for Foxes," which I've heard figured prominently in the pilot episode.

Playbill Radio: Theater Music, Interviews, Podcasts, and More

With Internet radio streams and podcasts covering every conceivable type of music, you have to wonder why it took so long for someone to create one devoted to theater, especially musical theater. Well, now Playbill Radio is here to fill the void.

Playbill Radio has a radio stream that plays continuous music. There is a regular schedule of features, including a "composer spotlight," backstage glimpses into different shows, and talks with some of today's leading names in theater.

Playbill Radio also had brief segments covering news in theater and the theater business, as well as podcasts that cover feature stories in more depth: right now there's a look at the 50th anniversary of West Side Story, and an interview with Andrea McArdle, the original "Annie" on Broadway.

If you love theater and can't get enough news and music from the stage, you'll want to check out Playbill Radio.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

BuzzCuts CD Packed with Alternative Rock Hits

A lot of those CDs you see advertised on late-night TV are pretty lame, but here's one that sounds pretty tasty. It's called "BuzzCuts" and it's a two-CD set from the mail-order music company MusicSpace (the same one that sells titles such as "Monster Ballads."

"BuzzCuts" has a lot of top alt-rock singles ... what it calls the "30 biggest and best alternative rock hits of all time." Some are great tunes, others are catchy hits that I'd consider guilty pleasures. Here's the track listing from the MusicSpace Web site:

Disc 1
01 Kryptonite | Three Doors Down
02 Fat Lip | Sum 41
03 I Miss You | Blink 182
04 Blurry | Puddle Of Mud
05 I'd Do Anything | Simple Plan
06 Celebrity Skin | Hole
07 Sour Girl | Stone Temple Pilots
08 Last Resort | Papa Roach
09 Running Away | Hoobastank
10 Hangingaround | Counting Crows
11 Lakini's Juice | Live
12 Hanging By A Moment | Lifehouse
13 The Way | Fastball
14 What It Is To Burn | Finch
15 The Chemicals Between Us | Bush
16 Smooth Criminal | Alient Ant Farm

Disc 2
01 Higher | Creed
02 Meant To Live | Switch
03 Butterfly | Crazytown
04 Hemorrhage (In My Hands) | Fuel
05 My Own Worst Enemy | Lit
06 I Will Buy You A New Life | Everclear
07 Amber | 311
08 Somewhere Out There | Our Lady Peace
09 Bodies | Drowning Pool
10 I Hate Everything About You | Three Days Grace
11 Inside Out | Eve 6
12 Send The Pain Below | Chevelle
13 Wherever You Will Go | The Calling
14 Fly | Sugar Ray f/Supercat

Friday, January 04, 2008

Podcast Review: Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli

Along with being a top-notch jazz guitarist who has recorded about 40 albums and yet is only in his forties, John Pizzarelli is also a podcaster. Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli (apparently it's also a terrestrial radio program) has been around for about a year, but I've only just heard of it.

A quote on the podcast's Web page from the Los Angeles Times sums up the show pretty well: "...a syndicated radio show that combines the retro feel of a 1940s living room broadcast with a boomer's passion for the Great American Songbook..."

I don't know if the show is or isn't recorded in the living room, but co-hosts Pizzarelli and his wife, singer Jessica Molaskey, share songs and stories while talking with guest musicians. So it does have a nice informal, at-home vibe to it, like these musicians are just sitting around at home jamming and shooting the breeze, and you're sitting there with them in a comfy chair.

The New Year's edition of Radio Deluxe is a good example of the broad range of music heard on the program, with songs from Mel Torme, Patti Austin, Tierney Sutton, Tony Bennett, Judy Collins, and of course Mr. Pizzarelli himself.

As far as I can tell Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli is not available through iTunes, but you can download it or stream it from the show's Web site above. It's definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

John Hockenberry Rips Network TV

John Hockenberry has had a long and distinguished career in journalism, so when he ripped his former employer "Dateline" and network TV journalism in general, people sat up and took notice.

Hockenberry's comments, which came in a lengthy article in Technology Review (published by MIT), took NBC and other networks to task for a variety of complaints that will be familiar to any TV viewer, including a focus on heart-tugging stories and an obsession with irrelevant stories that will attract viewers (and advertising). "News producers," Hockenberry writes, "rarely ventured out of a safety zone of crime, celebrity, and character-driven tragedy yarns."

The article is entitled "'You Don't Understand Our Audience:' What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC."

John Hockenberry was fired from NBC after 12 years in a downsizing, so it might be tempting to dismiss his article as sour grapes. But he's long been a thoughtful and knowledgeable journalist who really cares about journalism.

John Hockenberry now works for MIT's Media Labs and has been doing commentaries for a radio series on the mind called "The Infinite Mind." Late last year he was named as co-host for a public radio morning show to be co-produced by Public Radio International and New York public radio station WNYC and editorial partners including the BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston. That show is to begin airing sometime in early 2008.

Read the article and see what you think.