Birmingham, AL (The Hollywood Times) 05/16/2018 – “I’m getting jacked up on coffee tonight!” said frontman Ivan Moody of the Las Vegas based metal band, Five Finger Death Punch moments before he was set to take the stage of Legacy Arena.
The heavy metal quintet rolled through Birmingham, Alabama as part of a North American headlining tour with Jacksonville, Florida hard rock favorite, Shinedown. With hits such as Stranger Than Fiction, a groove heavy cover of Bad Company, Under and Over It and a perchance superior cover of the haunting Gone Away by The Offspring, fans (or Knuckleheads as FFDP label its following) were treated to an evening of gruff guitar riffs, commanding vocals and just about all the pyrotechnics and lighting that is eminently associated with a prestigious rock and roll show.
The band, founded in 2005 by guitarist Zoltan Bathory, Moody, and drummer Jeremy Spencer, blasted its way onto the metal scene in 2007 with its debut effort, The Way of the Fist, introducing metal fans to a distinctive brand of muscular thrash, incorporated with the nearly godlike vocals of Ivan Moody, and hereby marking their territory in the dominion of heavy metal. Their seventh album, And Justice for None, is set for release on May 18, 2018. After 13 years and several multi platinum albums, there’s no question that Five Finger Death Punch has established itself as a veritable force to be reckoned with in the metal community.
With a massive prop skull along with crossbones in the style of aluminum baseball bats positioned directly above the drum kit, the stage was set for an evening of auditory brutality that fans have come to love and expect from Five Finger Death Punch. And they delivered in spades.
That’s not to take away from the astonishing presentation that Shinedown offered the masses as well. The band opened their set with their thunderous anthem Sound of Madness, met with pumping fists and frenzied fans singing right along with frontman Brent Smith. Smith, in a display of total crowd participation, prompted the masses to acknowledge each other.
“I want you to look to your left, now look to your right. There’s a reason for this. You’ve probably never met the person standing next to you, but I want you to shake hands, high five and let everyone know you’re happy to be here and see each other.” The public gladly obliged, reminding us that we’re all in this world together.
Legendary Japanese rock group X JAPAN made a triumphant return to the Coachella Music & Arts Festival this past weekend (Saturday, April 21). As one of only a few rock artists performing at the festival, X JAPAN’s powerful rock performance and elaborate production thrilled the Coachella crowd with a rousing hard rock concert, pyrotechnics and special effects that delivered both surprises and guest stars. Mid set, YOSHIKI of X Japan welcomed Marilyn Manson on stage to perform“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” which the Los Angeles Times described as “…a haunting rendition” (4/22/18) of the Eurythmics’ classic. Guitarists Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit) and Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses) returned for Weekend Two along with holograms of X JAPAN’s two deceased members, Hide and Taiji. View the full X JAPANset list, as well as critical soundbites from the show and more below.
“It was such an honor to be part of this amazing festival, playing with so many great artists,” says YOSHIKI of X JAPAN. “Because of our time slot, I was sad I couldn’t see Beyoncé’s show, but at the same time I was shocked so many people showed up to support us. The mosh pits surprised me, too–the audience’s energy was unbelievable. There were so many rock fans onsite, let’s bring back rock to the mainstream, rock’s not dead. Thank you to our fans and Coachella from the bottom of my heart.”
Watch video of YOSHIKI’s performance with Marilyn Manson on Instagram HERE.
Marilyn Manson and YOSHIKI of X JAPAN perform at Coachella.
X JAPAN’s second Coachella performance capped off a frenzied media week which included a sold-out GRAMMY Museum event for the band’s award-winning documentary film WE ARE X (available on Hulu and iTunes) as well as YOSHIKI’sappearance with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on his show, “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” among others. Watch YOSHIKI’s interview with Steve Jones HERE.
X JAPAN-the most successful rock group in Japanese history-has sold over 30 million albums, singles and videos combined, and has sold out Japan’s 55,000-seat Tokyo dome a record 18 times captivating a wide range of admirers as Sir George Martin, KISS, Stan Lee, and the Japanese Emperor—all while pioneering a spectacle-driven style of fashion and visual rock called Visual Kei, a one-of-a-kind cultural phenomenon.
X JAPAN, led by composer, drummer, and pianist YOSHIKI, PATA (guitar), HEATH (bass), TOSHI (vocals) and SUGIZO (violin, guitar) are currently in the studio in Los Angeles completing their first full-length album in over 22 years, set for release in 2018.
X JAPAN performs with deceased members Taiji and Hide via hologram at Coachella 2018.
A mosh pit forms during X JAPAN at Coachella 2018.
YOSHIKI of X JAPAN greets the crowd at Coachella 2018.
Backstage at Coachella (L-R): Billy Idol, YOSHIKI of X JAPAN, Nile Rogers and David Byrne.
A sampling of critical soundbites for X JAPAN at Coachella 2018 are as follows:
“Last night, Marilyn Manson joined legendary metal band X Japan on stage atCoachella. Together, the acts performed a stripped-down version of Manson’s infamous cover of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. Joined by X Japan frontman Yoshiki on piano, the duo leaned into the minor key of Manson’s original cover, carrying the song into haunting new terrain.”
–Rob Arcand, SPIN (4/22/2018)
“…a masterful rock n roll performance.”
–Brett Callwood, LA WEEKLY (4/15/2018)
“After an initial embrace, Yoshiki moved from his drum kit to his beautiful clear piano where he briefly played the opening notes of “Sweet Dreams” eliciting a huge response from the crowd. Then letting it die down a bit, he continued the song as Manson delivered a more haunting and stripped back version of the Eurythmics cover that helped launch his career. For X Japan, playing Coachella marked off another box in their impressive career. The band has been established as one of the top acts in Japan for years, but they’ve started to make inroads in the U.S. over the past decade, with Coachella serving as one of their biggest U.S. performances to date.”
–Chad Childers, LOUDWIRE (4/22/2018)
“Manson took the stage to thunderous applause and cheers that reached the heavens. Then, X Japan drummer, pianist, and composer Yoshiki sat down at his piano to do a solo performance with Manson of what is one of the most haunting performances of The Eurythmics‘ classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” to ever be played.”
–Joshua Leep, SALUTE (4/23/2018)
“…there was some perfect Beyoncé counter-programming in the form of X Japan, the only metal band of the entire otherwise largely rock-free weekend. Playing their first U.S. gig since the 2014 Madison Square Garden concert immortalized in their rockumentary We Are X, the Japanese glam legends performed a pyrotechnic, utterly unsubtle set featuring band leader Yoshiki playing a crystal piano while joined by Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland, Guns N’ Roses’ Richard Fortus and–in a different sort of reunion–holograms of the band’s two deceased members, Hide andTaiji. …the adjective “epic” very much applied to their ferocious, face-blasting show.”
–Lyndsey Parker, YAHOO Entertainment (4/15/2018)
“X Japan landed in the Mojave Tent to deliver on the flash and melodrama that has made them hugely popular across the globe. …There were hard rock explosions and teary ballads… ‘Jade’ began with a speed metal riff and geysers of pyro, then shifted into an emotional glam melody and lyrics sung in English. The star behind the drums and piano was band mastermind Yoshiki, shirtless and wearing a leather neck brace. He ended the night with the band’s traditional show of unity, shouting ‘We are! We Are!’ and their followers responding with a rousing ‘X! X!’”
–ROLLING STONE “The 18 Best Things We Saw At Coachella Weekend One” (4/16/18)
“X Japan has an x factor. …There was certainly no other band on the bill that looked like X Japan, and there hasn’t been since Guns N’ Roses a couple of years ago. …Talking of Guns N’ Roses, guitarist Richard Fortus joined X Japan for a rousing ‘Born to Be Free,’ while Wes ‘the talented guy in Limp Bizkit’ Borland jumped up for‘I.V.’ Songs like ‘Jade’ and ‘Kurenai’ are symphonic, technically dazzling, prog-metal beasts, while ‘Endless Rain’ is a classic power ballad. The band members, particularly singer Toshi and lead guitarist Sugizo, just ooze cool, in that classic Jagger/Richards, Tyler/Perry, Axl/Slash rock & roll way. They slink about the stage, effortlessly holding the gaze of a modest but delighted crowd. These guys aren’t used to playing second fiddle to anybody, so enormous are they in their home country, but they just crack on like the experienced, road-hardened warriors they are. And holy shit! X Japan resurrected TWO deceased members with holograms — guitarist Hide and bassist Taiji. It’s frankly impressive that a band can create such a sense of epic history in the country after just cracking America’s shell. But they did. This show felt important.”
–Brett Callwood, LA WEEKLY (4/17/2018)
“Seriously big in Japan, metal band X Japan rarely tours the U.S., but fans who wanted to check them out had to contend with missing Beyoncé. The fans who were thereweren’t disappointed in the monster show, though, which included special guests like Marilyn Manson on Weekend 2.”
–Vanessa Franko, RIVERSIDE PRESS ENTERPRISE,
“20 Best Things We’ll Remember About Coachella 2018” (4/22/2018)
“Marilyn Manson joined Japanese metal icons X Japan during their second appearance at Coachella yesterday, April 21st. The Antichrist Superstar teamed with the band’s founder Yoshiki for a stark, piano-accompanied rendition of his hit Eurythmics cover, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
–Zoe Camp, REVOLVER (4/22/2018)
X JAPAN’s hour-long set list at Coachella (April 21, 2018) was as follows:
About X JAPAN: X Japan is the most successful rock group in Japanese history. Led by composer, drummer, and pianist Yoshiki, the band has sold more than 30 million albums, singles, and videos combined, sold out Japan’s 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome 18 times, and played to millions of fans around the world. In the band’s early days, their look and sound sparked a global interest in the Japanese cultural rock phenomenon “Visual-Kei”, a wild fashion and music movement X Japan pioneered that spread worldwide. In 1997, at the height of their success, the band broke up. Four months later, Hide, X Japan’s original lead guitarist, was found dead in his Tokyo apartment. At his funeral, more than 50,000 fans came to mourn his passing. In early 2007, Yoshiki and vocalist Toshi reunited, and later that year X Japan officially reformed. The band launched its reunion in 2008 with 3 nights at the Tokyo Dome. In 2010, X Japan performed for the first time at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Immediately following the festival, X Japan played the biggest concert in its history, selling out two consecutive shows at Japan’s Nissan Stadium, filling 140,000 seats. The band then launched their first North American tour, selling out across the U.S. and Canada. In June 2011, X Japan launched a 14-city world tour across Europe, South America, and Asia. In 2012, X Japan was the first Japanese band to win “Best International Band” at the Golden Gods Awards. In 2014, X Japan headlined a colossal show at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. The documentary film We Are X, chronicling the history of X Japan, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016 and won the award for Best Editing. The film then won an award at the SXSW Film Festival, followed by a worldwide release in over 20 countries and 27 international film festivals. In January 2017, band leader Yoshiki held 2 sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, performing original classical compositions and orchestral versions of X Japan’s songs with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The We Are X Original Soundtrack was released on March 3, 2017, hitting #1 on the UK Rock Chart and dominating music charts worldwide. The following day, X Japan headlined a live concert at Wembley Arena in London. In May 2017, the band’s future was threatened when Yoshiki was forced to undergo emergency neck surgery, requiring artificial disc replacement after years of intense drumming. In December 2017, the We Are X DVD, Blu-ray, and vinyl soundtrack LP were released, topping sales charts worldwide. X Japan recently announced the release of the band’s first new studio album in over twenty years, which will be available worldwide in 2018. Coachella 2018 marked not only X Japan’s return to the U.S., but Yoshiki’s first concerts playing drums since his surgery. The current line-up of X Japan isYOSHIKI (drums/piano/composer), TOSHI (vocals), PATA (guitar), HEATH (bass),SUGIZO (violin/guitar).
(The Hollywood Times) 3/27/18 – Reinventing Pink Floyd, written by Bill Kopp, explores the five-year period from Syd Barrett’s departure in 1968 through 1973, tracing the winding creative path the band followed to success. After Barrett left the band, Pink Floyd rebranded itself through the development of a musical identity and songwriting style. As Bill Kopp illustrates in Reinventing Pink Floyd, the band’s musical career was filled with failed experiments, one-off musical excursions and abortive collaborations. However, Pink Floyd went on to release landmark albums that continue to influence generations of musicians and fans. Continue reading “Reinventing Pink Floyd: A Review”
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/14/18 – Amy Grant won’t let something as little as the worst flu strain in years keep her from performing. The now 57-year-old beauty took the stage on Thursday night at Musco Center for the Arts on the pristine campus of Chapman University, declaring that her show would be a “kinder, gentler” event due to her recent illness. Continue reading ” Amy Grant in Concert”
Anaheim, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/17/18 – – Alex Cole performed on Friday January 25, 2018 at the Foundation Room inside House of Blues Anaheim and blew everyone away. The combination of his high energy and original written rock tunes makes him a true Retro-Rock star. Continue reading “Italian Stallion – Alex Cole”
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/21/17 – Pandora aficionados were treated to a Sunday night special. Two of the freshest, hottest new musical acts in the world; Logic and his support act (and sometimes collaborator) Khalid. Both artists are riding high with recent billboard hits and critical acclaim. Their performances were rapturously (sic) received by the butt to flank throng in attendance. Continue reading “Sunday Night Beat Club”
Tomorrow night, Thursday, September 14th – Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers to celebrate their new album release date of September 15th.
By: Judy Shields
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) September 13, 2017 “I write 99% of the music, to me it is really the way to get much of you on a CD as possible and I think playing other people’s music is a blast, but sometimes you wish you wrote a song, you have to play it. I think writing music just really helps you emote and helps people to understand what is in your heart and where you are coming from. I always love to write the song and record it.” Mindi Abair told The Hollywood Times today.
It was great speaking to Mindi Abair this afternoon about her new album Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers: The EastWest Sessions. The album will be released this Friday, September 15, 2017. This album is full of wonderful songs written or co-written by Mindi Abair.
The album starts off with awesome saxophone music, then this amazing voice, soulful and gritty, it’s Mindi Abair! “Vinyl,” the first song on the album will get you up and dancing and if you are not able to get up off your seat, you will be tapping your feet.
Each song has its own unique tone and style. Mindi has done a great job with the lyrics, the music and her saxophone playing. The fourth song “Pretty Good For A Girl” featuring Joe Bonamassa has turned out to be an Anthem song for all women to whom inspire us all and uplift women.
This is a must album for all music lovers, no matter what genre of music you enjoy; this is truly an album to add to your collection.
But, before you can buy it this Friday, Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers will be at the Grammy Museum, right here at LA Live in Los Angeles to talk about the new album tomorrow, Thursday, September 14th. So what better way to inspire us, than give us the opportunity to listen to some of the tracks, live and in person!
The cover was shot on Sunset Blvd and it took four tries for the shot. It came out great with the shadows of the band members. Mindi said it was taken at 7:15 in the morning.
The phone conversation went something like this:
THT: Was David Sanborn an influence for you?
MA: Absolutely, yeah! I think he had an influence, probably everyone that came after him, whether they want to admit it or not. He was someone who played with huge pop and rock stars, singer, songwriters, the Paul Butterfield Blues band, he had a solo career that was just great. He was like the missing link for me. I was watching MTV and thinking, wow I want to be Tina Turner or Heart. I watched the energy they had, I didn’t know you could do that with a saxophone until David Sanborn came out with his music. It sounded like awesome rock that was on the radio, yet he was a lead singer with a saxophone in his hand, the coolest thing in the world.
THT: How did you get into music and playing the saxophone?
MA: I grew up on the road with my Dad’s band, which was called The Entertainers, I was about five then. There was a lot of music every day. My Grandmother was an opera singer, so a lot of varied music growing up. When school started, I was lucky enough to have a band program and our band instructor, Ann Reynolds put a bunch of instruments out on the ground and said pick out which one appeals to you, sit down and learn how to play it. That is what I did and I picked the saxophone because I watched my Dad play it. His knees were knocking together and he was rocking out having a blast, so I choose the saxophone because it looked like a lot of fun and I choose well!
THT: You were a roadie at such a young age.
MA: I was lucky that no one told me that it was odd for a girl to play a saxophone until it was way too late. Everyone just went with me, it was something that I found my identity with and I really love it and it became a part of who I really was. It became an extension of me and what a cool thing to have an instrument that helps amplify who you are and a voice bigger than you would normally have.
THT: How old where you when you played your first concert?
MA: I would do anything they would allow me to do. My Dad had a recording studio in our house, there was my parent’s bedroom, my bedroom and the third bedroom was a recording studio. One day my Dad said you are coming along on this one, I was 10 years old, and he said so why don’t you join me since I need a horn section for this song we are recording. He recorded me and him and I thought that was pretty cool.
THT: When did you write your first song?
MA: I would always be messing around in elementary, middle school and high school and just mouthing words of a song. I didn’t really write songs until I was in college. I was learning the words of music. Delving into what I was doing, some lessons in school and just playing and having a good time.
THT: Is this your first record with The Boneshakers?
MA: This is actually our second record. Our first record was a live record. When Randy Jacobs, who is the Grand Poobah and founder of The Boneshakers, we decided to make it official in 2015 and we became to go with Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers. The band is so special and after three days of rehearsal we knew, it was incredible. Randy and I have been friends for over 20 years, we were in a rock band together when I first moved to LA. He would do back flips right into the audience and a tremendous performer. The Boneshakers were playing at the Newport Jazz Festival on one stage and I was playing on another stage. I went over and just sat in and it was just wonderful. What music should be and I stayed on the stage all night.
This is the way music should be, so much fun and that is what made us say, let’s just join forces. Our first show was in Seattle and it was recorded live and became our live recorded record, which came out in September 2015.
Mindi said that they are the currently number 3 on the radio Blues/Rock album chart radio and she is totally excited about it and she is having fun.
Mindi also spoke about her number 4 song “Pretty Good For A Girl” and how that song came about.
“It has started to climb up the charts and take a life of its own. You never know what people are going to latch onto, what is going to rise above. “Pretty Good For A Girl” was a song I wrote about being a woman in a man’s world. A lot of us have done something amazing, and broken the glass ceiling or cracked it or done something like that and only to have someone would say ‘That’s pretty good… for a girl.’” I have had that said to me quite a few times over the years, so I thought I would write a tongue and cheek song about it. It has become this type of anthem. A motivation, a call of action and it’s been fun to watch the transformation.
I made a website called Pretty Good For A Girl.net and I thought it would feature all these women who are doing incredible things and because sometimes we don’t celebrate each other like we should. It inspires me to see these amazing ladies.
I created it mostly for me to have a place to pay homage to these wonderful women. But I want people to go there and be part of it. The incredible women that we are featuring every week, and are doing these great things.
We also put out a call to action. We are making a music video for “Pretty Good For A Girl” that I want to feature women in all walks of life doing amazing things. So there is a promotion we are doing asking women to send in 20 or 30 second videos of themselves of doing what you do in action. Whether you are an incredible skateboarder, an artist painting, a doctor saving someone’s life, a guitarist rocking out, we want to see so we can release the clips in this music video to empower woman. Check out the link below.
Mindi also works pretty tirelessly about having music back in schools. Kids getting an education in music is important. It’s a different way of learning and understanding language, and what you can accomplish in life. She is a trustee for the Recording Academy which puts on the Grammys. They are putting together something that is coming out in a couple of months. A dream would be to put a teacher in every school for music. If anyone could do it, she would hope that the Recording Academy can. It is something that can happen and be a better world to live in with music. She really believe that there is enough fire power out there to make a difference in bringing music back into school at an early age.
One of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and dynamic stage presence. She has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six Top 5 solo records and two #1 spots on the Billboard album charts. In 2014, Mindi received her first GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, followed by a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP Wild Heart featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg.
The daughter and granddaughter of working musicians, Abair continues to captivate fans while evolving her sound. In 2014, after two seasons as the featured saxophonist on the hit series American Idol, Abair released Wild Heart. This LP showcased a compilation of grittier rock and soul tracks featuring some of the biggest names in music. To help translate this sound to her live shows, Mindi enlisted longtime friend and The Boneshakers founder Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to inject his brand of Detroit Blues Rock. The collaboration was undeniable, and it lead to an almost immediate decision to join forces creatively. Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers features band leader Mindi Abair (Saxophone, Vocals), Randy Jacobs (Guitar, Vocals), Sweet Pea Atkinson (Vocals), Rodney Lee (Keys), Derek Frank (Bass, Vocals), and Third Richardson (Drums, Vocals). Their first record together Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle was released September 2015 to significant critical acclaim, and a 2 ½ year non-stop tour schedule across the US.
In April 2017, the band took a short break to record their first studio record. The EastWest Sessions was recorded over five days at legendary Hollywood recording studio EastWest Studios with renowned Blues Rock producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zepplin, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith). The album, which will be released September 15, 2017, is a powerful, bluesy, momentous, and deeply emotional journey. The album features a track with iconic blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, and 2017 GRAMMY® winner in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, Fantastic Negrito.
She authored the book “How To Play Madison Square Garden – A Guide to Stage Performance” and serves as a National Trustee for The Recording Academy.
The artists she’s toured with and/or recorded with are a testament to her talent: Aerosmith, Gregg Allman, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Perry, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lalah Hathaway, Duran Duran, Adam Sandler, Lee Ritenour, The Backstreet Boys, Booker T. Jones, Jimmy Webb, Mandy Moore, Max Weinberg, Bill Champlin, David Pack, Mocean Worker, The Ides of March, Rick Braun, Teena Marie, Bobby Lyle, Jonathan Butler, and Peter White.
Established in 2008 as a partnership between the Recording Academy and AEG, the GRAMMY Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating a greater understanding of the history and significance of music. Paying tribute to our collective musical heritage, the Museum explores and celebrates all aspects of the art form—from the technology of the recording process to the legends who’ve made lasting marks on our cultural identity. In 2017, the Museum integrated with its sister organization, the GRAMMY Foundation, to broaden the reach of its music education and preservation initiatives. As a unified organization, today, the GRAMMY Museum fulfills its mission of making music a valued and indelible part of our society through exhibits, education, grants, and public programming.
Debuted December 2008 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the GRAMMY Awards
One-of-a-kind, 30,000 square foot museum with interactive, permanent and traveling exhibits
Four floors of dynamic and stimulating exhibit space
More than two dozen exhibits that explore great music, everything from rock and hip-hop to country, classical, Latin, R&B, and jazz
200 seat state-of-the-art Clive Davis Theater
Rooftop Terrace – perfect for special programs and private events
Interesting and thought-provoking educational and public programs featuring films, lectures and performances
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/11/17 – “This concert will be the first of the summer tour shows. We are using them as good old fashioned warm up gigs in the small clubs we love to play. A set full of songs from all nine albums as we knock the ‘three weeks’ vacation cobwebs’ off. Wednesday is in Costa Mesa and Thursday is in Paso Robles and then Laytonville. All California shows this week. That doesn’t happen very often for us these days.” Keith Roberts, lead vocalist of the Dubliners told The Hollywood Times today about their upcoming concert in Costa Mesa. Continue reading “Young Dubliners”
Jandek has just released two works back to back that indicates an uptrending third act positioned to crash head-on into civilization’s accelerated, downward trajectory. In case you haven’t noticed, humanity is walking around in a Zombie state of ennui, fear and loathing. But we all stagger onward, grabbing fistfuls of joy and comfort like unattended fruit on a street cart. Nothing means anything and what’s the point of art anyway? Is Jandek the voice of this generation?
Austin Tuesday is the most recent work to hit the Desk of The Hollywood Times. It predates his most recent work Dallas Thursday. Like Dallas…, Austin Tuesday documents a fairly recent performance.
“I feel strangely serene, the sun feels so nice this time of day.”
Austin Tuesday is a live performance DVD shot with one camera. The optics are up close and bare ass naked. The facilities at this venue did not include stage lighting, so utilitarian floor lamps were employed. The effect of this overabundance of light is a prosaic clarity that seems a driving force in the performance. One camera scans the stage searching for close ups of band members, instruments, ceiling tiles and other inanimate objects. However the majority of face time belongs to The Representative of Corwood Industries. The backdrop is a brick wall that is home to the building’s shielded electric wiring, a fire alarm, and a hanging, unused projection screen that people my age remember as standard equipment in grammar school.
“To be a cadaver in the midst of a party is what no one wants”
When you strip away the atmospherics, all that remains is Jandek. Black clad, intense and old. His younger self intermittantly lights up the bones of his face, but it soon returns to its ghostly aspect; noticing and cataloguing trivial daily events and elemental feelings because the ghost Jandek (in waiting) is already starting to miss the sensations associated with life.
“The light is dimming so early today, there were some things I didn’t want to see.”
The band is top notch and assembled with an eclectic hand of a casting director. Concert Harp, Clarinet and Bass Drum. Jandek and Sheila Smith take turns artfully scraping the open strings of a violin. Sheila and The Rep also play some very attractive “happy accident” piano as well. Music casts an odd spell when performed by interesting musicians unencumbered by the concept of right or wrong notes.
“… brown leaves walking in the air, brown gray houses, white trim windows, I can see everything I want to see…”
The musicians skillfully shadow both The Representative and Sheila and their verse. Too often spoken word is merely words scatted over the top of a rhythm bed. On Austin Tuesday we get both extrapolated free verse as well as more conventional poetry reading. Gluing it all together is the intensity of Jandek. Body tensed for every syllable. Very little was thrown away on this Austin Tuesday.
“I succumb to it all, just like you…”
Unlike some of the previous Jandek works, Sheila Smith does not dominate with her presence on Austin Tuesday. Now, after watching her perform unadorned by atmospherics on Austin Tuesday, it can be said, Smith is one of the most unique front women in Rock with no obvious point of reference. Sheila’s polar opposite and namesake Patti Smith was passionate and poetic, but sold us a bill of goods thinking that poetry mattered. Conversely, Sheila seems to know it’s game over for Western Civilization, and all that is really matters is the next mundane experience, or the simple miracle of a quiet walk.
“I found a hollow, empty space and I called it home…”
One time on a business trip I found myself on a shuttle bus to the Oklahoma City airport. I remembered that J.J. Cale was a native Oklahoman. I grabbed my IPOD and earbuds and immersed myself in J.J.’s muse. As the dry, earth toned landscape swept by, the epiphany was swift and immediate. Elemental art isn’t about technique or intention, it’s a reflection of where you came from. And (many times) it suggests a certain topography. I’m not sure we can condemn Jandek to any fixed location; however, Jandek’s muse evokes something Antarctic; cold, foreboding, occasionally beautiful, yet barren and melting away at an undermined but relentless speed. And like Antarctica, Jandekland is a place most normal people will never go.
“I caused a ruckus, disoriented everyone…that was my plan.”
What a talented entertainer she is, all packed up in this tiny, but beautiful package. The beginning of her show was that of loud music, theatrical lighting, strobe and spotlights and a stage that took up most of the entire floor with the pit area filled with her fans. Continue reading “Carrie Underwood – The Storyteller Tour –”
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/30/16 – Los Angeles has suffered record heat this summer, but singer-songwriter Johnny Schaefer has been in full holiday mode recording an album of Christmas songs. From Here to Nativity is Schaefer’s sophomore project. In October of 2013 he released Acoustic Remedy, an eclectic mix of songs with a wide range of themes and musical vibes. The new album gives fans more of his creative songwriting and smooth, agile vocals.
Johnny just finished up two nights singing backup for Josh Groban at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and is working with some terrific musicians on the new project. “I am crowd-funding this album, which gives me an opportunity to work with people like Stephan Oberhoff, who is currently co-producing with Quincy Jones and served as Melissa Manchester’s Music Director for a decade, Christoph Bull, who heads the organ program at UCLA, Grammy-nominated harpist Carol Robbins, Chad Ellis from the band Poe, the Passenger, and drummer Sean Winchester (Everclear), to name a few” Schaefer beamed. “It has been an incredible experience!”
The new album will be a mix of traditional favorites like Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria and O Holy Night as well as a number of brand new original Christmas tunes. “It’s true to my form of trying new things” Schaefer added. “The Ave Maria will be a very straight-forward rendition because, well, you can’t improve on Bach, but the other covers will be a little different from the usual settings. For example, O Holy Night will be a jazz waltz with harp, bass and drums. It’s often a bit dirgy for my taste. We’re lightening it up.” Continue reading “Johnny Schaefer Beats the Heat”
(LOS ANGELES, CA – August 5, 2016) – Nestled in the outer frontier of Downtown L.A.’s ever expanding tent community is The Bootleg Theater – a funky but chic performance complex that houses both a first rate community playhouse and a concert hall. On Beverly near Alvarado; this was the chosen site of Jandek’s return to Los Angeles on Friday night.
Jandek’s current level of popularity means that he can pack out a 300 seater in any major city in the Western Hemisphere whenever he wishes. It’s a good place to be. The Representative of Corwood Industries and Poet/Spoken word artist Sheila Smith now comprise Jandek ‘the collective’. They’ve mind melded. They dance and writhe together, exchange verse as a married couple would morning chit-chat. Sheila appears to be everything to The Representative; muse, collaborator, manager, mother superior and daddy’s little girl all wrapped into one. Our Goth Princess of the pre-apocalypse wears angelic concern and adoration on her face every second she’s in the orbit of The Representative.
Arriving early, I grabbed an orphan set sheet that was amusing in its mis-information. Rap, Hip-Hop and Country Blues were listed as stylistic signposts though none of those styles were in evidence on this Los Angeles Friday. The list also indicated there would be some harmonica playing by both The Representative and Sheila, but that never transpired.
Jandek and his ensemble emerged from the backstage area and took the indigo blue-lit stage. Some discreet dry ice provided the requisite graveyard ambiance. The Representative of Corwood Industries sat in a strait backed wooden chair at stage right, facing stage left where Sheila Smith sat opposite and gazed back; swaying in thrall to the vibes, the beats and periodically swigged from a corked vial of some mysterious potion. Jandek had an identical bottle which resided in the briefcase at his side. Neither Sheila nor The Representative would be playing instruments this evening. And their positions on stage reminded me of two boxers eyeball wrestling each other from their neutral corners. However, tonight; instead of trading jabs, they would be exchanging love, verse, and sweat. Moreover, instead of throwing haymakers and round-house rights, The Rep would stand in the center of the ring and howl at the moon from the depths of his soul.
The set begins with The Representative seated. Eventually he would rise slowly and tentatively from his seat and unfurl his lanky frame in the manner of a 6 foot 2, black-clad Praying Mantis performing its morning yoga. The Representative was in a dancing mood as he stomped, stretched and shuffled all over the stage. Music stands with neatly typewritten text occupied prominent positions on the stage, but there was plenty of freestyling on offer. Being a nerdy Rock scribe, I dutifully took notes to document the concert. However, it soon became a moot exercise. I moved to the edge of the stage to open an unobstructed portal to the energy source, and that energy was pure and powerful. For the audience’s part, they stood, stared, swayed and were generally mesmerized the entire set. Sometimes the collective energy of the band would flag, but they would always rebound with a second wind and more inspired free playing. After a long and winding closing piece where The Representative tore open his soul with primal urgency, he calmly sat back down, then telepathically signaled to Sheila the set was over. The Jandek ensemble left the stage en mass to a lusty ovation.
Maybe it’s just the post-gig pheromones talking, but the band assembled for this show probably ranks as Jandek’s finest. Drums were absent and replaced by a beatmaster working knobs and faders at the back of the stage. Flanking the rhythm desk was a bassist and guitarist Will Toledo. Toledo deserves special mention in consideration of how much responsibility rested on him to provide harmonic structures and atmospheres consonant with the ethos of Jandek. Echo and delay were used liberally and effectively by both Toledo and the bassist. Moreover, the dynamics and tempo ebbed and flowed organically despite the metronomic strictures of the ever present beatbox.
Call it the ’emperor’s new clothes’ if you wish. Jandek will always sound like an incoherent din to the moral majority. But, for those willing to be hypnotized, A Jandek gig is a mega-decibel baptism of sound. Jandek prays out loud with guitars, bass and beats at full volume; and we get to evesdrop. Often he just clenches his entire body and howls in rapture. The Representative soaks up our adoration and then flings it into the heavens. But make no mistake, he’s not he’s not playing for us. It’s a ritual he would perform regardless. He was creating before the cellphone, CD and home computer. He played before you were born. He’s played sitting on a chair beside a window. Now he’s playing for time. He’ll be 71 in October. There’s no time left for anything else.
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 8/3/16 – What a fantastic and magical concert Barbra Streisand gave to all her faithful fans at the Staples Center last night. I have never been to a Barbra Streisand concert before and was so thankful for my seatfiller family for giving me the opportunity to see her live for free. My seat was only 45 feet from the stage, third row off the floor and sat where the entertainment stood before going on stage with Ms. Streisand. Continue reading “Barbra Streisand – Encore Tour 2016 -Staples Center”
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 6/26/16 – Robert Heft is a musician you tend to bump into on the local Blues/Country circuit. Ostensibly a Blues guitarist, I met Heft at a gig playing for the classic country band The Rustix. We were playing a free concert in Palos Verdes for about 500 people. Heft, drummer Robbie Rist (and yours truly) had never met until we shook hands five minutes before sound check. No rehearsal. We all came armed only with a set list and raw chutzpah. Robert Heft was booked for the gig because two other guitarists had cancelled at the last minute.
Well, the concrete stage and the open air acoustics conspired to turn the onstage sound into a mushy din. However, all the post gig feedback from fans revolved around how awesome our guitar player was. Luckily my wife Renee filmed the show. Viewing the video was a revelation. Heft was the best guitar player I ever shared a stage with.
Robert Heft has released a new solo album titled “Sundog”. It’s a comfy romp through various styles of American roots music: Blues, Rockabilly, Swing, Pop, Rock and Soul. However, the spine of the record is The Blues. The playing and arrangements are tight and expert. But, the standout element is Robert Heft’s guitar playing. He can play with impressive speed without sounding fiddly, or go slow-hand when the situation dictates. Moreover, (as a producer) he knows when the imperfect take is the best take. His voice is as comfortable and weathered as a vintage pair of Levi’s and never forces the issue.
What follows is a track by track overview of “Sundog”:
It Don’t Matter – An energetic slab of Blues/Soul. Heft throws flames throughout. The spicy horn section has a buzzy compressed sound reminiscent of The Beatles, “Lady Madonna”.
Got Her Mind Made Up – A swingy, horn driven song employing a favorite trope of bluesmen the world over; the suspicious ball-busting woman. Call and response vocals from the group give this track a 50’s era ‘big band’ feel.
Never Last – A standout tune that showcases Heft’s strengths as a songwriter and lyricist. A boomer’s lament about the passage of time and the wisdom acquired along the way. Key line: “Days turn into years, years turn into tears streaming down the face of our past”. On this cut, Heft plays all the instruments save drums and percussion.
High Class Man Boogie – Classic Blues/Rock stomper that brought to mind Gary Moore. The no frills rock arrangement gives Heft room to shred a bit.
Nobody – Moody ballad that boasts Heft’s strongest vocal performance. Tasteful solo sax fills (Jeff Ackerman) weave in and out of the mix.
Don’t Need You Anymore – Standard 9th chord Blues cruise that recalls Otis Spann’s recording of “No More Doggin” with Fleetwood Mac.
Give Me Back My Heart – Heft turns his hand to some Rockabilly. Blues harp makes its first appearance on the record and trades licks with Heft’s masterful Telecaster riffing.
Sundog – Title track and an elegant instrumental piece that showcases Heft’s versatility on slide guitar. Tasteful Rhodes piano solo in the middle. Would love to hear this piece with a full string section.
Round and Round – No nonsense Rock and Roll with Heft throwing down some Chuck Berry styled ‘two note’ riffing. Here, the arrangement is a little too tight and polite for this writer. On this tune, a little drunken mayhem (ala Mott the Hoople) would have sat well in the mix.
Worried Mind – Solid riff rock featuring some searing slide work thick as molasses. This track took me back to the halcyon days of British blues rockers Savoy Brown.
Tell Me That You Love Me – A writerly tune that’s strong out of gate with some tastefully composed multi-tracked lead work. Considering the narrative arc of the album, this is the perfect tear-jerking closer. Exceptional vocal cameo by Susan Rey. Fans of Blind Faith and Derek and The Dominos will find comfort here.
For every Eric Clapton there is a Robert Heft productively plowing their artistic furrow absent the glare of celebrity. Heft is not only an artist, but a skilled engineer/producer who owns and operates his own studio. It’s somewhat depressing that musicians of this caliber can fly so low below the cultural radar, while less substantial musicians and writers pull the winning lotto ticket of fame and fortune.
When all is said and done, “Sundog” is a fine album that would adorn the collection of any Blues/Rock enthusiast. Simply put, Robert Heft is a helluva guitar player. The type of guitar player that makes guys (like me) switch to bass.
Filmed live at Mango’s in Houston Texas – July 12, 2012
“Houston Thursday” sees The Representative of Corwood Industries (aka Jandek) getting down to his industrial-punk roots. In stark contrast to Jandek’s recent trend towards extended compositions; “Houston Thursday” is a taut, no nonsense hit and run sprint through 16 songs. The majority of the numbers clock in at under three minutes with only the final track (Glass Boxes) breaking the four minute mark at a tolerable 09:37. Continue reading “Caution…Art Damage Ahead…”
‘Rock of Ages’ Recording Gets Solid Nods from the GMA Membership
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 14, 2015) – Gospel and Country music legends and American music icons The Oak Ridge Boys received two nominations for the 2015 Gospel Music Association (GMA) DOVE Awards, according to the press conference held Wednesday at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The award-winning quartet received a nod for Bluegrass/Country Album of the Year for their recent gospel recording, which hit the street on May 26th. Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites(Gaither Music Group), a 15-song project produced by Ben Isaacs(Gaither Vocal Band, The Isaacs) and group member Duane Allen, showcases the group’s acclaimed, four-part harmonies and celebrates their musical roots.
The Oaks were also honored with a nomination for Country Song of the Year for their recent country single, “Sweet Jesus,” an original song co-written by Kenny Vernon and country music star Merle Haggard, who joined the group for the recording of the song.
“We loved the recitation [within the song] and thought if we could just get Merle to do that recitation we would be thrilled,” described Allen. “But then, it worked so well that Merle just kept on singing with us on the last chorus—a once in a lifetime experience for all of The Oak Ridge Boys. It is one of the biggest thrills of my career to get to sing and record with Merle Haggard.”
“When I saw that our Rock of Ages album is up for two very special DOVE Awards my heart jumped,” stated Joe Bonsall. “This has been a special project. Each of us laid our hearts on the line on this project, and these classic songs are a huge part of our lives and our constant walk with Christ, so to have the Gospel Music Association recognize the work is an honor beyond words! We are so very blessed.”
The Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites recording also features guest vocals from the award-winning Isaacs, who joined the Boys for the song “Peace Within.”
The Oak Ridge Boys was formed in1943, in Knoxville, Tenn., by gospel music singer, manager, promoter and businessman Wally Fowler. The current lineup, which came together years later (William Lee Golden, 1965; Duane Allen, 1966; Richard Sterban, 1972; and Joe Bonsall 1973), has scored 17 No. 1 hits, released more than 40 albums and achieved worldwide sales of over 41 million units. They have received five GRAMMY® Awards and 15 CMA Award nominations, winning two of them; and they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
In April of this year it was announced that the group will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this October in the Modern Era Artist category.
Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites has been positioned heavily at retail, via catalog placements and through a direct TV campaign on networks including DISH TV, DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, PBS, GaitherTV, TBN, FamilyNet, CTN, GMTN, Guardian, Liberty, RFD, TCT and TLN. The campaign will also air in Canada on Vision TV, The Miracle Channel, Grace TV and CTS.
Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites is distributed throughCapitol Christian Distribution and is available throughout general market stores, including Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®, and the Christian marketplace, in addition to online retailers includingiTunes, Amazon and www.gaither.com.
ABOUT THE OAK RIDGE BOYS
The Oak Ridge Boys, who have sold over 41 million units worldwide, are synonymous with “America, apple pie, baseball and gospel and country music.” In addition to their awards and accolades in the country and pop music fields, they have garnered five GRAMMY® Awards and nine GMA DOVE Awards as well as the Mainstream Artist of the Year Award at the ICM Awards. They are members of the GMA Hall of Fame as well as The Grand Ole Opry, and they are recipients of the President’s Award from the Southern Gospel Music Guild. The group is featured regularly on the Gaither HOMECOMING Series and are legendary pioneers in the worlds of country and gospel music.
Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites Track Listing
1. IN THE SWEET BY AND BY
2. ROCK OF AGES
3. SWEET JESUS featuring Merle Haggard
4. ANGEL BAND
5. THERE IS POWER IN THE BLOOD
6. IN THE GARDEN
7. HOLD TO GOD’S UNCHANGING HAND
8. I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY
9. LIFE’S RAILWAY TO HEAVEN
10. TIME HAS MADE A CHANGE IN ME
11. BLESSED ASSURANCE
12. FATHER, I STRETCH MY HANDS TO THEE
13. FARTHER ALONG
14. JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS
15. PEACE WITHIN featuring The Isaacs
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Gospel & Country Music Icons The @OakRidgeBoys Honored w/ two 2015 @GMADoveAwards Nominations #2015DoveAwards
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/9/15 – I’ve spent the last 15 minutes in heaven listening to four demos and watching a video trailer created by new singer-songwriter Kimberly Roderick Maycock. Her delightful debut album entitled “Streams of Mercy” weaves sounds of the past, such as “How Great Thou Art” with rhythms of today such as “Reaching” that has thrilled this listener’s ear. Continue reading “Fifteen Minutes in Heaven”
Orange County, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/5/15 – To fully appreciate the talents of Huey Lewis and the News nearly sold out performance Sunday night at the Pacific Amphitheatre during the Orange County Fair, a brief history trip is a must for the band’s 1980’s style of rock and roll. Continue reading ““Can You Feel It?””