Monday, April 28, 2008

Prince, Metallica, Free Coldplay Single in Monday Music News

Lots of music news to start off the week. Prince is apparently back in fine form as a live act, and the he L.A. Times has praise for his set at Coachella. "The musician's dazzling performance Saturday night uses hits, guest stars and killer covers to cement his status as perhaps the top live act around," the article gushes. One cover tune he did: Radiohead's oldie-but-goodie, "Creep."

Speaking of Radiohead, Wired reports that Metallica is considering doing a pay-what-you-want release as Radiohead did for its "In Rainbows" album. Although Metallica has long been a critic of filesharing, Wired notes that "...With only one record left on its Warner Music Group contract, [Lars] Ulrich says Metallica could be planning a digital release along the lines of what Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have done, as ironic as that might seem."

Continuing with the theme of digital downloads, Coldplay is going to give away its new single free online. A notice on the Coldplay Web site says that "Violet Hill," from the band's new album "Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends," will be available free online for one week starting on Tuesday.

Perhaps more interesting, Coldplay has announced it will do two free shows: London's Brixton Academy (June 16th) and New York's Madison Square Garden (June 23rd).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Black Maria Film Festival Touring the Northeast

If you're a fan of short films and you live in the NY/NJ area, try to catch the Black Maria Film Festival. I've written about it before; it's a unique festival that travels with a rotating schedule of films.

I caught tonight's show at the Donnell Library in midtown Manhattan, and as usual there was a diverse range of shorts, lasting from three minutes to nearly a half hour. One of the most entertaining was called "Bodega," about two men in the Bronx who go to different bodegas in the area and explain for viewers the "bodega food pyramid," from pork rinds and mini-donuts to the 40-oz. bottle of Olde English malt liquor

The festival will be touring near its New Jersey origins for the rest of its run this year, which goes until the end of June. The Black Maria Film Festival will be at the Donnell Library again this Saturday, April 26th. After that it will be playing in Jersey City; Baltimore; Glen Falls, New York; and several other towns in New Jersey. Check out the schedule at the link above.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Record Store Day, and a Look at NYC Stores

It will be interesting to see if indie record stores get a sales bump from Saturday's Record Store Day promotion. One participating store was New York's Other Music, on the Lower East Side. It was said to be selling limited vinyl singles and EPs from artists including Vampire Weekend and the Breeders, as well as giveaways and guest DJ sessions by members of bands including Interpol, Grizzly Bear, Tapes n' Tapes, and the Black Keys.

New York was once home to a number of great indie record stores, but many of these have fallen by the wayside. How many have closed up and how many are left? Conveniently, Brooklyn Vegan put up a map that the New York Times ran of the record stores in Manhattan, showing which have closed and which are still open. According to the Times's count, since 2003 at least 80 stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn have shut their doors, and about 70 are still operating.

I'm glad to see that one of those still plugging away is Rock and Soul, a midtown shop that I used to go to in the early '80s to buy LPs and cassettes (those were the only formats they sold; they didn't start offering CDs until later, I believe).

Friday, April 18, 2008

R.I.P. Danny Federici, Longtime E-Street Band Member

Danny Federici, one of the original members of the E-Street Band that brought Bruce Springsteen to fame, has died at the age of 58. He died of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, at New York's Sloan-Kettering Hospital.

Federici was a keyboardist who played with Springsteen for 40 years, as Springsteen explains in a note on his Web site. He had been battling melanoma for three years and had been touring with Springsteen and the E-Street Band until last November.

Danny Federici was a key member of the band, and it's sad that he has left us so early.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2008 Austin City Limits Festival (ACL Festival) Lineup is Out

The lineup for the 2008 Austin City Limits Festival (ACL Festival) has been announced ... see details here. You can click on an artist's name at this page to hear music by that artist.

Austin has just recovered from the South by Southwest Festival, and now if gearing up for the ACL Festival, a tie-in to the long-running PBS TV show Austin City Limits.

Robert Plant and Allison Kraus will be performing at the 2008 ACL Festival, along with the Foo Fighters, Beck, Gnarls Barkley, Patty Griffin, the Black Keys, John Fogarty, and many more. There are more than 130 bands in all, many in the country or singer-songwriter vein, but also heavy on the alt-rock and indie rock genres.

This year's ACL Festival will be held September 26th to 28th in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Record Store Day, April 19th - Support Your Local Store!

The independent record store may be down, but it's not out... and it's fighting back. In fact, a“Record Store Day” will take place on Saturday, April 19th at hundreds of independently owned music stores all over the U.S.

The event seems to have lots of artist support, and many are putting their microphones where their mouths are by giving in-store performances or appearances on Record Store Day. Metallica and Panic at the Disco are the best known of these, but other participating artists include indie and local acts including The Donnas, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Duke Spirit, Film School, and many more. A whole bunch of stores will have live DJs, and others will have special sales or other promotions to attract customers.

The Record Store Day Web site above has listings of the musicians and where they're perform, but the links don't seem to work. Let's hope these will be up and running soon, so that people can find out when and where artists will be performing. You can read more about Record Store Day here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Music News: R.E.M.'s Best Week in 12 Years, '80s (and '70s) Pop Stars on Tour

It's Spring, and that means the Summer concert tour plans are cranking into high gear. There are some interesting moves going on in the recorded-music scene too, so there's lots of music news this week. Here's a rundown of the highlights.

R.E.M. is getting its record-sales mojo back with its new album poised at No. 2 on the U.S. charts. It hasn't been able to outsell country crooner George Strait, but I don't think the boys from Athens, Ga mind: it's their best chart action in 12 years. Good timing for R.E.M., with its worldwide tour coming up in June.

Nothing says Summer like old rockers on tour, and some of the biggest hitmakers of the 1980s are teaming up for a tour called Regeneration. Among the acts: The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, Dead Or Alive, A Flock of Seagulls, and Naked Eyes. The tour is set to begin August 1st in Phoenix.

Not to be outdone, a number of '70s rockers will be out on the road for their own individual tours. The Steve Miller Band, The Eagles, and others icons of the era will be touring, along with Ray Davies of The Kinks. Joe Cocker will be on the bill with Steve Miller.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008 Lineup is Set; Tickets On Sale Now

The Lollapalooza rock festival continues its single-city concept, and will be held once again in Chicago in 2008. This year's Lollapalooza will take place August 1st to 3rd in Grant Park, and tickets are on sale now.

The Lollapalooza 2008 lineup includes Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Wilco, The Raconteurs, Love and Rockets, Gnarls Barkley, Broken Social Scene, Flogging Molly, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and many more.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Scott Weiland Dumped from Velvet Revolver; to Tour with STP

Singer Scott Weiland is no longer part of the rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, according to a statement from the other members of the band yesterday. The brief statement referred to Weiland's "increasingly erratic" behavior as the cause for the split; Weiland has long battled heroin addiction and has been in and out of jail and rehab a number of times over the years.

"This band is all about its fans and its music and Scott Weiland isn't 100 percent committed to either," said guitarist Slash in the announcement.

Apparently Weiland is not erratic enough for his old mates from Stone Temple Pilots to undertake a summer tour with the 40-year-old singer. STP has recently reunited and is to announce dates for its upcoming tour.

Weiland responded to the Velvet Revolver statement with one of his own in which he says in part, "The truth of the matter is that the band had not gotten along on multiple levels for some time," and that he looked forward to playing again with Stone Temple Pilots, "performing with a group of friends I have known my entire life, people who have always had my back."

After Stone Temple Pilots broke up, Weiland became the lead singer for Velvet Revolver, which features three former members of Guns N' Roses, including Slash, as well as another guitarist, Dave Kushner.

There could be a number of factors contributing to the split besides the official one from Velvet Revolver. Weiland said during a performance last month that it would be Velvet Revolver's last tour. And Weiland had already planned to tour with Stone Temple Pilots. Also, an article in Entertainment Weekly says that some insiders claim that Slash was jealous of all the attention the upcoming Stone Temple Pilots tour was getting.

The Stone Temple Pilots is set to begin on May 17 at the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio.