Saturday, May 30, 2009

May's 50 MP3 Albums for $5 at Ends Tomorrow has been offering a great selection of 50 albums for $5 each throughout May, and a glance at the calendar will tell you that that ends tomorrow!

The selection ranges from current pop/rock/hip-hop favorites like Neko Case's "Middle Cyclone," Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak," Asher Roth's "Asleep in the Bread Aisle," "Dear Science" from TV on the Radio to older rock albums from Aerosmith and the Grateful Dead, and even jazz (Ornette Coleman and Etta James) and opera (Maria Callas).

I picked up "Fantasies," the great new album from Canadian band Metric, and you can't beat five bucks for a new album from a hot band.

Amazon says there will be a new selection of $5 albums up in June, and I'll definitely be checking into their selection on a regular basis.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free Summer 2009 Concerts in New York City

With the economic meltdown in full effect, New York's wide range of free summer concerts couldn't have come at a better time. The grandaddy of the free shows is Central Park Summerstage, but there are also good series elsewhere, including Celebrate Brooklyn and the Madison Square Music series. See the links below for dates and performers.

Central Park Summerstage - mid-Park at around 72nd St.
Performers include Josh Ritter and The New York Pops, Juana Molina, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital, Bettye Lavette, M. Ward, and Ginuwine, as well as spoken word and comedy

Celebrate Brooklyn - Prospect Park bandshell
Performers including David Byrne, Femi Kuti and Positive Force, Dr. Dog, Robert Cray, and Los Amigos Invisibles

Madison Square Music - Madison Square Park, between 23rd and 26th Streets and between Fifth and Madison Avenues
Performers include Loudon Wainwright III, The Duhks, Jonatha Brooke, Don Byron, and The John Scofield Trio

Hudson River Park's Riverrocks series - Pier 54, Hudson River and 14th St. Only three free concerts in the Riverrocks series this summer, but they're good ones: Matt & Kim on July 9th; Ted Leo & the Pharmacists on July 23rd; and Yeasayer on August 13th.

Hudson River Park also offers free jazz and classical music concerts, and free movie nights (for adults and for kids); see the link for event dates and times.

The Brooklyn Summer Seaside Concerts in historic Coney Island feature a number of big-name acts in Asser Levy park. Coming up in August: Blondie, Pat Benatar, and The Donnas on August 13th, "Salsa by the Sea" on August 20th, and Donna Summer on August 27th.

The City Parks Foundation presents other concerts in all five boroughs throughout the summer, see the schedule at this link. There are also dance performances, theater, familiy events, and more; check the Web site of the City Parks Foundation for details and listings.

(Another source of information for free concerts: the NYC Free Concerts Web site.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Campaign to Save Paste Magazine Gets Musician Support; Give Yours and Get Great Music

Paste Magazine has for years been a favorite source of new music and stories about the people who make it. But now Paste is facing hard times because of the economic downturn, and some top musicians are offering their tunes in order to help keep the magazine afloat.

More than 100 artists have agreed to contribute rare tunes to people who donate to the campaign to save Paste, including The Decemberists, Neko Case, She & Him, Cowboy Junkies, the Jayhawks, The Hives, Matthew Sweet, The Avett Brothers, Joe Henry, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Over the Rhine, Bob Mould, and many more. (If additional songs are added, contributors will get those, too.)

Paste is an every-other-month printed magazine that comes with a CD sampler (though many subscribers now get the sampler tunes via digital download).

Paste says that its current financial problems are caused by a drop in advertisers, and they expect it to be just a short-term problem. "We just need a little cash infusion to make up for running at a loss for a while" they write. "We’re excited about finally getting to a sustainable level that puts us in a great position when the economy comes back—whenever that is."

You can get all the answers at the Save Paste FAQ.

You can also follow news from Paste at its Twitter page,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Concert News: English Beat, Kristin Hersh, Kate Voegele, Regina Spektor

Lots of concert news in the New York area...

First off, the English Beat is following up its NYC shows from a few months back with three shows at Maxwell's in Hoboken. Tonight's show is a $75 benefit (tickets still available), but tomorrow's show is $25. Friday's show at Maxwell's is sold out.

Young singer-songwriter Kate Voegele returns to the area to promote her new album, "A Fine Mess," due out May 18th. She's at the Highline Ballroom in NYC tonight, and at the School of Rock in South Hackensack, NJ on May 15th.

Some upcoming shows from a couple of other female singer-songwriters that are favorites of mine: Brooklyn Vegan notes that Regina Spektor is coming to the Beacon Theatre for a show on June 17th. A pre-sale began this afternoon, and Warner Bros. is giving away two free song downloads from Spektor's upcoming album "Far" with each ticket purchased.

BV also mentions that Kristin Hersh is going on the road this week, touring Europe for the second half of May. There's one gig scheduled in June, in Brooklyn at The Bell House (a venue I'm not familiar with) on June 18th. Hersh is also doing a couple of shows in Europe with her old mates, Throwing Muses. As Hersh noted on her Twitter account, there was some tense last-minute wrangling to get band member Bernard Georges into the UK, but all has been resolved.

The Donnas greatest hits CD and tour dates mentioned here a few days ago have now been confirmed by the band. More on that later.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Donnas Celebrating 16th Anniversary with Tour and Greatest Hits

Happy anniversary to The Donnas, who this year are celebrating their Sweet 16 as a band. The ladies aren't resting on their laurels, of course, and are gearing up for a summer tour with two pioneers of women in rock, Pat Benatar and Blondie.

The new Donnas collection, called The Donnas Greatest Hits, Vol 16, will drop July 7th and is said to include unheard B-sides from their last album, Bitchin'.

According to an e-mail from the band yesterday, the album will also include:
"... Live versions of hits "Take It Off" and "Fall Behind Me", and two previously unreleased tracks from the band’s earliest days together. The band also re-recorded five tracks, remixed one and included two alternative versions of songs from their Lookout! Records catalog (1998-2001), one of which is sung by original producer/co-writer Darin Raffaelli."

For full track listing and Donnas tour dates see this article on Alt-Sounds.

In addition, The Donnas have some songs from their early bands that can be streamed on their MySpace page. You can find more songs from those bands, Ragady Anne and The Electrocutes (their later name), at MySpace pages for those bands, where you can also buy some of the tracks.

The Donnas summer 2009 tour starts on July 16th in San Diego and ends on August 23rd in Houston. The Donnas will be headline some of the shows. You can find more information about The Donnas on their Web site (in first paragraph) or on their Twitter feed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Amazon Introduces Kindle DX Reader for Newspapers, Textbooks introduced a new widescreen Kindle today, called the Kindle DX, which is designed to make it attractive and convenient to read newspapers online.

But the new Kindle isn't just for newspapers: Amazon is also hoping it will gain followers as a textbook-reading device, and will be testing it out at a number of colleges this Fall, Including Princeton and Case Western, and three textbook publishers.

MediaBistro is reporting (via Twitter) that the Kindle DX will come with a hefty price tag: $489, but there may be subsidized prices through content providers such as newspapers. It's reported that the Kindle DX will ship by summer.

Gizmodo offered a liveblog of the Kindle DX introduction, in case you want to follow the presentation as it happened.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

2009 Webby Awards Announced

The winners of the 2009 Webby Awards were announced today, and the honors are going to a diverse range of online properties, from old media learning new tricks (The New York Times, National Public Radio) to online-only sites like and YouTube LIVE.

As the Webbys organizers noted, "Winners receiving the prestigious title of the best of the Web have been selected in over 100 Website, Interactive Advertising, Mobile and Film & Video categories." And the categories range from best typography to best use of video, and include specialties including a wide variety of topics from fan/celebrity sites to automotive, and everything in between.

National Public Radio (NPR) proudly noted that it won the most awards overall, seven, with The New York Times coming in second with six. I'm a fan of NPR's extensive offerings in live music streaming and podcasting, and it's no surprise that NPR snagged Webbys for best radio site and best music site, among other things, as well as People's Voice for best radio site, best music site, and best podcasts.

(You can find the Webbys press release here.)

The Webby Special Achievement Award Winners were also announced today, recognizing "a pioneering group of entertainers who have utilized the Internet in creative, thought-provoking and cutting-edge ways." TV host Jimmy Fallon took The Webby Person of the Year Award, Sarah Silverman won for Best Actress, Trent Reznor of the Nine Inch Nails was named Webby Artist of the Year.

Microblogging site Twitter was named Breakout of The Year; Lisa Kudrow was selected for Outstanding Comedic Performance in "Web Therapy;" and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane was tabbed as Webby Film & Video Person of the Year.

The Webby awards will be presented in a ceremony in New York on June 8th. In keeping with Webbys tradition, acceptance speeches will be limited to five words.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

New York Area Concerts: Bamboozle, Pete Seeger Tribute, Dark Was the Night

It's a busy concert weekend in the New York area, and three multi-artist events look to be very promising.

The Bamboozle festival continues Saturday and Sunday at the New Jersey Meadowlands in East Rutherford. On Saturday Fall Out Boy is the headliner, with Third Eye Blind, the Get Up Kids, Asher Roth, and many more acts on the bill. Sunday boasts headliners No Doubt; also slated for the final day are acts including Taking Back Sunday, Rise Against the Used, Face to Face, and Sum 41.

For set times, tickets, and more visit the Bamboozle Web site above or check them out on Twitter: @thebamboozle.

Sunday features two benefit shows. Over at Radio City Music Hall is Dark Was the Night, the latest show to benefit the Red Hot organization (and the live companion to the recent CD of the same name). On the bill are David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, Feist, Dave Sitek, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, The National, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, and more. Get more info and Dark Was the Night Concert tickets at the Radio City box office Web site.

Madison Square Garden is probably the only venue big enough to hold all the stars, big and small, who'll be performing at the Pete Seeger 90th birthday celebration on Sunday. The music legend has influenced countless performers over the decades, and many of them will be singing and playing at Sunday's show: Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Bela Fleck, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine), Richie Havens, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Get Pete Seeger birthday celebration tickets here at the MSG box office. Proceeds benefit Clearwater, the environmental organization Seeger founded 40 years ago.