Monday, March 30, 2009

All Points West Festival Returns for 2009 - Lineup Below

The All Points West Festival in Liberty State Park is back for a second year, and the lineup was announced today. The 2009 edition of All Points West will be held July 31st, August 1st, and August 2nd. Although there was lots of grumbling about last year's APW regarding site access, beer availability, and what many saw as a less-than-stellar lineup, I had a great time, though the transportation could have been better (the promised shuttle bus to the park didn't exist, which meant a one-mile-plus walk to the festival).

In any case, the three-day festival called "Coachella East" (it has the same organizers) is back, and here's a partial listing of who'll be there (you can find the full 2009 All Points West lineup here):

Beastie Boys / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / Vampire Weekend
Also: the National, Fleet Foxes, MSTRKRFT, Ra Ra Riot, Shearwater, Heartless Bastards, and more

Tool / My Bloody Valentine / Gogol Bordello
Also: Arctic Monkeys, Neko Case, the Ting Tings, St. Vincent, Tokyo Police Club, and more

Coldplay / Echo & The Bunnymen / MGMT
Also: the Black Keys, Elbow, Silversun Pickups, Mogwai, We Are Scientists, and more

Each day will also feature a College Humor Live tent with folks such as Michael Showalter, Todd Barry, and Janeane Garofalo.

Advance purchase tickets for All Points West 2009 are available only from Ticketmaster. An article on Stereogum says that tickets go on sale Friday morning, April 3rd. Tickets are $89 for each day, or $199 for all three days (for a limited time only). And APW is this year offering a recession special "layaway option" (no details yet).

Friday, March 27, 2009

New iTunes Prices (Higher, That Is) Coming April 7th

The iTunes price increase for songs it deems the "hottest" selections will go into effect on April 7th, it's been confirmed. Record labels have long wanted variable pricing (and higher prices) for digital downloads. Steve Jobs has never seemed to be in a hurry to raise the cost of a song, since Apple is using the iTunes store as a loss leader for selling iPods.

But now you'll pay 30% more if you want the latest hits or certain classic or in-demand backlist titles (not sure exactly how they've going to determine which older tracks should have the higher price).

If you don't like the new higher prices, (Web site of Country Music Television) suggests checking out, which will buy your old CDs that you no longer want, and sell you new ones. CMT gives some examples, saying that you can get many country CDs for less than eight dollars, and get three dollars or more for the ones you sell... meaning you can get a full-length CD for about the cost of five songs on iTunes.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, Many More to Play Pete Seeger Birthday Concert

Pete Seeger has been a legend and inspiration in American music for decades, and musicians of all genres have cited his influence. So it's no surprise that an all-star tribute concert in May to celebrate Seeger's 90th birthday is going to have top-notch musicians from a wide range of musical styles.

The concert, at New York's Madison Square Garden, will take place Sunday, May 3rd and will also feature rockers Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam), and Tom Morrello (Rage Against the Machine); country and rock singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris; Joan Baez; John Mellencamp, Taj Mahal, Dar Williams, and Steve Earle, among others. Colombia rocker Juanes will also be there, and Seeger himself will perform, though it's not clear how much he'll actually be singing and playing and with whom. (You can see the full lineup for the Seeger tribute concert at

The concert is a benefit for theHudson River Sloop Clearwater, the environmental group Seeger founded in the 1960s to protect the Hudson River. Tickets go on sale to the general public March 30th, and you can find more information and tickets to the Seeger tribute concert here.

Bruce Springsteen is the biggest name in the show, and his love for Seeger and his music is clear. A few years ago The Boss recorded the album "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," which covered more than a dozen of Seeger's classic tunes. And the two acoustic albums from earlier in Springsteen's career owe more than a little to Seeger and his musical colleague from decades ago, the folk legend Woody Guthrie.

John Mellencamp and Emmylou Harris are among the dozens of musicians who will celebrate American folk music legend Pete Seeger's 90th birthday with a gala concert at Madison Square Garden on May 3.

The event, called "The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders," will raise funds and awareness for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the environmental organization founded by Seeger in the 1960s to preserve and protect the Hudson River.

The organization sponsors boat trips on the sloop and also presents the Clearwater Festival in Croton, New York (on the Hudson River) each June.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

South by Southwest 2009 (SXSW) - Free Downloads, Music Player, and More

It's almost time for the 2009 edition of South by Southwest, the Austin festival of sensory overload. I'll concentrate here on the SXSW music festival (there are also film and interactive festivals), which runs from March 18th to 22th. In that short span there will be hundreds of bands playing on more than 80 stages. Here's some help in listening to what'll be featured at SXSW 2009, including some free downloads and other ways to sample the music.

At the SXSW music page there's a Music Player link, which will open a stream of continuous music from bands playing at the festival. In the past SXSW has offered free MP3 downloads of dozens of songs, but I don't see that option listed this time around. (UPDATE: Apparently there are SXSW downloads available, but they're being offering through BitTorrent, not through the SXSW site. An article on TorrentFreak says there is a full 6GB of songs from SXSW 2009 artists available for free download, featuring more than 1,200 tunes.)

Howver, NPR Music is offering a free 10-song sampler of tunes by SXSW 2009 artists that you can download from iTunes. Check their SXSW page for details on live concerts they'll be Webcasting from the festival, including The Decemberists on March 18th and Blitzen Trapper on March 19th.

For info straight from South by Southwest ground zero, head for the SXSW Web page of Austin radio station KUT. Check their page for their schedule of live performance broadcasts, breaking news from the festival, and more.

And if you're interested in what Canadian bands are playing the festival, you'll want to listen to the CBC Radio 3 podcast SXSW Survival Guide 2009.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U2 Rocks Fordham's Keating Hall - PHOTOS

Bono and Adam Clayton. WFUV Photo 3/6/09

Unless you've been living under a rock-free rock, you know that U2 played an early set for one of those TV morning shows... except that the venue wasn't Rockefeller Center or Bryant Park, but Fordham University. The school is understandably proud of the event, and sent an e-mail that has all anyone would want to know about the gig. You'll find U2 photos from the Fordham gig as well as links to stories from sources ranging from People magazine to Rolling Stone to a Fordham student's article. You'll find plenty more photos at Fordham's U2 photo gallery.

I'm not sure why Fordham was chosen for the gig (maybe the Irish band liked the idea of playing at a Jesuit college that has educated so many people of Irish heritage over the decades?), but I think it's an excellent choice. It's a beautiful old campus, and Keating Hall has a glorious old-world Gothic style to it. Not to mention that Keating Hall is home to an excellent radio station, Fordham's WFUV, and it's appropriate to have a band playing in from of the building that houses the station.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Van Morrison is Back With "Astral Weeks Live"

Van Morrison has been a pop music legend since the 1960s, but has been creating new excitement with a new live performance of one of his classic albums. Morrison recently played his adventurous, 40-year-old album "Astral Weeks," which was hailed as a stunning recreation of a timeless album. A few weeks ago Astral Weeks Live At the Hollywood Bowl was released, and a DVD of the concert is coming soon.

While there is no full Van Morrison tour scheduled, two more live performances of "Astral Weeks" are upcoming, both at London's Royal Albert Hall, April 18th and 19th. I saw Morrison in New York about at decade ago, as the headline of the short-lived Fleadgh, an Irish-themed summer festival on Randall's Island, and the Belfast native put on a great show. It's good to see that a decade later Morrison is still able to wow the fans, and apparently the critics too.

Though "Astral Weeks" is often cited as an important and influential album, it was never a big seller and is probably not well known among casual pop music fans. With any luck, Astral Weeks Live At the Hollywood Bowl will remedy that.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Leonard Cohen Live: Broadcast, Podcast, and More

Legendary songwriter Leonard Cohen has traditionally been an infrequent live performer, but is now making his first concert tour in many years. He recently gave an acclaimed show at New York's Beacon Theatre, and you can now hear this show several ways. Radio station WNYC will be broadcasting the Cohen concert Saturday night on its FM station, 93.9. (I'm guessing that the show can also be heard through the station's live Web stream.) Songs you'll hear during this concert include Cohen classics like "Chelsea Hotel," "Hallelujah," and "Suzanne."

Also, public radio's All Songs Considered is offering Leonard Cohen's Beacon Concert as a free podcast download.

For those in the New York area, Cohen will be playing the Big Apple again on May 16th with a concert at Radio City Music Hall (tickets on sale March 9th here). For more tour dates, check the official Leonard Cohen Web site.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Neko Case All Over the Radio Sunday; New CD Out Tuesday

As I've written before, Neko Case's new CD Middle Cyclone comes out on Tuesday, March 3rd, and the whole album is streaming free online at NPR Music. And speaking of radio, Neko Case has been making the rounds and was heard on two radio programs today.

She was interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday in the morning, and in the afternoon was on Chicago Public Radio's Sound Opinions show, which featured some of the new songs as well as discussion with Neko and other members of the band. At their Web site you can stream the show or download it as an MP3, and also just listen to Neko and her band performing the tunes.

In these interviews you'll learn about why weather events figure so prominently in her new songs, why she's been collecting old, free pianos from Craigslist, and why the new CD ends with a 30-minute field recording of crickets chirping.

Shop for Neko Case albums and downloads at