Monthly Archives: May 2011

Zombie, Mason, Whitesnake Sue Universal Music Group

 

Don’t make this man
above angry. All because of that doggone rapper Eminem – such a troublemaker!

 

 

By Fred Mills

 

As expected, more fallout from the Eminem-Universal Music
Group lawsuit, this time involving quite a disparate cast of characters:
goth/metal king Rob Zombie, his band White Zombie, ‘80s hairspray metal combo
Whitesnake, and ‘70s classic rocker Dave Mason have joined forces in a
class-action lawsuit against UMG alleging they are owed considerable sums of
money for sales of digital downloads and ringtones.

 

Recall that not long ago a US Appeals court ruled against UMG and held that digital downloads count as “licenses”
as opposed to straightforward “sales” and thus quality the rights-holders to
the songs (in this instance, Eminem) for a higher royalty rate – typically 50%
as opposed to 15%. The US Supreme Court subsequently refused to hear UMG’s
appeal, leaving the lower appeals court’s ruling to stand. Then this past April
the estate of Rick James
filed a class-action suit against UMG; the suit has
yet to be litigated.

 

The New York Times is reporting that
Zombie, Whitesnake and Mason’s suit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court
(San Francisco),
alleges “their record company violated their contracts by counting a digital
download as a sale instead of a licensing, which would result in a
substantially higher royalty… The class-action suit accuses Universal, the
world’s largest music company, of unfair business practices by knowingly
miscalculating royalties. The suit claims the label ‘analyzed internally the financial
consequences of its misconduct and cast it in terms of the additional profit to
be made by UMG by avoiding its contractual obligations.'”

 

The amount UMG might have to cough up should the suit proceed and be won by
the plaintiffs is estimated to be in the area of “tens of millions of dollars
or more each year.”

 

UMB, not surprisingly, issued a statement pledging to “vigorously defend”
against the lawsuit, which the label deems to have “serious flaws and
weaknesses.”

 

Uh-huh. Like we suggested at the top, industry observers have been
predicting for months that a wave of lawsuits would come in the aftermath of
the Eminem case
. Some artists, such as Cheap Trick,
have apparently already settled out of court with their labels; another prominent artist filing a suit against its label was the Allman Brothers.

 

That stampeding
sound you hear in the distance? It’s thousands of lawyers, galloping to their
fax machines, preparing to send out documents to their clients and to their
clients’ labels….

Watch: Live Levon Helm DVD

 

New
Vanguard release Ramble At The Ryman shows the erstwhile Band member,
accompanied by a slew of guests, in fine form – and ready to ramble.

 

By Lee Zimmerman

Reports on Levon Helm’s imminent demise are obviously
exaggerated, if the visual and audio evidence provided by Ramble At The Ryman is any indication. Rumors were rife that the
71-year old singer, drummer and multi-instrumentalist was suffering from
assorted age-associated ailments and his vocals had become the first casualty.
And yet, here he is, anchoring an otherwise unwieldy outfit with a full horn
section and various big name guests to boot. Although the presence of Sheryl
Crow, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller, Billy Bob Thornton and Sam Bush add star power
to the proceedings, and could have possibly upstaged its star, Helm is clearly
in command, revisiting classic songs from the Band songbook (“Ophelia,”
“Evangeline,” “The Shape I’m In,” and the obvious signature stalwarts like “Rag
Mama Rag,” “Chest Fever” and “The Weight.”) as well as selected offerings
plucked from a traditional template. His rugged authority and respected
reputation as an Americana
icon are further affirmed with the down home designs of Buddy Miller’s “Wide
River To Cross,” the folk finesse of “Anna Lee” and the sturdy blues of “Fannie
Mae” and “Baby Scratch My Back” in particular.

 

 

Yet, even while the music provides the set’s homespun
embrace, the interaction between the artists onstage, as well as audience and
entertainers, makes this performance all the more memorable. The intimate
environs of the Ryman (“Ain’t no better place to play than the Ryman
auditorium,” Helm asserts prior to ending the evening with a remarkable read of
“The Weight”), provide the most natural of settings for this sometimes-ragtag
revue. Consequently, while the DVD offers little more than a ringside seat to
the proceedings, the opportunity to watch Helm – perhaps the best singing
drummer in Rock ‘n’ Roll – strut his stuff by vocalizing and drumming
simultaneously, and then making it look like a breeze besides, is alone worth
the price of admission. With varying camera angles highlighting the enthusiasm
of the players, there’s all the inducement needed. With Levon Helm still at the
helm and hitting his stride, this Ramble rarely falters.

 

Watch New Yellowbirds Video

 

“The Reason” from
their most recent album.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Back in February, the band Yellowbirds, featuring Sam Cohen,
formerly of Apollo Sunshine, released their album The Color (Royal Potato Family). It rapidly became a critical
darling, and now Cohen & Co. have released
a terrific new video for the song “The Reason.”

 

 It was created through a stop-motion
collage using ten years worth of notebook drawings and sketches given to
him by illustrator Michael Arthur (NY
Times, New Yorker, Brooklyn Vegan
, etc.) Check
it out below – you will definitely be entertained.

 

SF JAZZ Center Breaks Ground

 

Improvisational legends and SF
JAZZ donors brave the elements in San
Francisco groundbreaking for new concert hall.

 

By Jud
Cost / Photos by Jenifer Cost

 

Surrounded
by tons of smashed concrete, twisted girders, broken brick and the heavy
machinery that demolished the two auto body shops that once stood here, an
oasis of sanity, fenced off from the industrial rubble, has attracted about 100
invited guests for a much-anticipated celebration at 4:00 in the afternoon.
It’s the May 17 groundbreaking ceremony for the SF JAZZ Center, a
state-of-the-art, 700-seat permanent home for San Francisco’s
wildly successful jazz festival to be erected in the Hayes Valley
neighborhood at the corner of Fell and Franklin Streets. Of the $60 million
needed for the project’s completion, $46 million is now in the bank.

 

 

Just as
another round of late-spring rain begins to fall, San Francisco’s Bourbon Kings
Brass Band (pictured above, who,
unlike Tony Bennett, left their heart in old New Orleans) begin to wail on a Crescent
City-style trad number. It doesn’t take long for the nine-piece outfit – two
tenor saxes, two trombones, a trumpet, a cornet, a tuba, a snare drum and a bass
drum-to switch gears and dig into Sonny Rollins’ post-bop classic
“Oleo.” The crowd, as instructed, has brought festive, brightly
colored umbrellas and a few Mardi Gras beads to twirl and shake at the Bourbon
Kings as they high-step it through the mud puddles as if they were marching
down South Rampart Street.

 

The foul
weather this afternoon has no effect on the beaming Srinija Srinivasan, current
chair of the SF JAZZ board of directors. “This will be the first structure
of its kind anywhere in the country, a stand-alone facility dedicated
specifically to jazz,” she says. “When Randall spoke to the board
about finally getting construction under way, he was literally moved to tears.
We’ve all been working on this for so long. But Randall is the one with the
persistence, almost the damn craziness, to pull it off.”

 

 

“Randall”
is SF JAZZ’s Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline (pictured above, with the author), the man whose missionary zeal and passion for what has been called
“America’s
greatest cultural achievement” founded this non-profit jazz festival in
1983. SF Jazz today, with a spring and a fall season that almost overlap,
embraces all facets of creative, improvisational music in over 100 concerts a
year. From the rhythm & blues of Solomon Burke, the Portuguese fado of Ana
Moura and the tropicalia of Caetano Veloso, to the classic raga of Ravi
Shankar, the  country gems of Rosanne
Cash and the bossa nova of Joao Gilberto, SF JAZZ has something for every
taste.

 

Of
course, the surviving heroes from jazz’s golden age abound here, as well:
Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Ahmad Jamal, Archie Shepp, Etta James, Pharoah
Sanders, Randy Weston, Cecil Taylor, Dave Brubeck, Kenny Burrell, Lee Konitz,
Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner, along with the Rushmore-like icons of Ornette
Coleman and Sonny Rollins have all played the festival in recent years.

 

Up until
now, SF JAZZ has used multiple venues spread throughout the City: Herbst
Theatre, the Masonic Auditorium, Davies Symphony Hall, the Palace of Fine Arts
and many others. With its permanent home to be completed by  the fall of 2012, scheduling the mammoth
event should become somewhat easier.

 

SF JAZZ
membership director Barrett Shaver foresees the new facility as having a broad,
inclusive policy towards its use. “We want this place to be open year-round,
every night if possible,” he says. Randall Kline agrees heartily,
envisioning artists being able to spend three or four nights in the Mark
Cavagnero-designed showplace rather than play a one-nighter in a larger hall.
“Without the musicians, none of this would be possible,” adds Kline,
almost drowned out by an emergency police siren. “If Ornette Coleman wants
to play here for a month – great!”

 

 

Legendary
vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (above,
with family members)
speaks movingly to the crowd, jammed together even
tighter under a plastic marquee as the rain gets heavier. “I remember so
many things: playing the Jazz Workshop in North Beach
and the Both/And on Divisadero, where I first met my wife, selling tickets
there at the time. I had just come from New
York and thought I was big stuff, but she’d never
heard of me. When I played Keystone Korner in North Beach,
opening for (stand-up comedian) Professor Irwin Corey, he said to the crowd,
‘Who’s Bobby Hutcherson?’ And my young son piped up and said, ‘He’s my
Dad.'”

 

John
Handy (pictured below),  a mainstay of the Bay Area jazz scene even
before his potent alto sax first swapped titanic passages with tenor saxman
Booker Ervin in Charles Mingus’ landmark band more than 50 years ago, is
visibly moved afterwards at the prospect of a permanent home for SF JAZZ.
“It’s going to be amazing what will take place here,” he says.
“And remember, remember… this is all happening right here-in America.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juliana Hatfield Courts Failure w/New LP

 

Also will be donating a
chunk of money to a pair of well-deserving charities.

 

By
Blurt Staff

 

Juliana
Hatfield’s new album, Speeches Delivered To Animals and Plants,
is set to drop August 30th on her own Ye Olde Records. It was
entirely fan-funded via www.pledgemusic.com,
wherein individuals pledged varying amounts in advance of the album’s
completion for different returns including Hatfield memorabilia, a guitar used on the recording of the new
album, original Hatfield
artwork, song workbooks, demos, and more.

 

PledgeMusic gives artists
the option to build a charitable donation into their campaigns; Juliana will be donating a percentage
of the funds raised to two of her favorite charities, the Save a Sato animal
shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the
Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem,
Massachusetts.

 

In
a statement, Hatfield noted, “I
really think that PledgeMusic and similar sites are the future of music,
especially for people like me who have devoted cultish fanbases but who have
never sold a ton of records and don’t really fit in anywhere at major labels.
Working with this new model, you go straight to the fans, who become your
patrons, in a very direct and vital way. They have a special kind of access to
you in a way that makes them happy – they see the progress of the album-making
in real time with the video and audio updates I post at the PledgeMusic site.
And I have total ownership of the music at all stages, present and future. I
love working like this.”

 

(Read BLURT’s feature on
music patronage and sites such as PledgeMusic here.)

 

Speeches… is the follow up
to last year’s Peace and Love and was cut at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Hatfield produced and played all
the six-string guitars and keyboards on the new album. Ed Valuaskas played bass
and Pete Caldes played drums.

 

Hatfield describes the
album as a conceptual piece about “failure”:

 

“I think that when
people get to the presumed halfway point in their lives, they inevitably look
back and assess what they have or have not accomplished. There is an acceptance
of one’s limitations, a scaling back of goals, a settling into the way things
are,” observes Hatfield.
“I think I have always had a pretty measured perspective-I am always
grateful for all the good opportunities I’ve had but at the same time I’m never
really content. I always want to do more, to be better-a better singer,
performer, writer, person, friend, sister, daughter, etc. I don’t shy away from
the dark stuff -without the darkness there would be no light.

 

“I’ve gotten to a
place where I am really proud of the large body of work that I have produced,
regardless of how my work is or is not received, or how many records I’ve
sold,” she reflects. “I know my weaknesses but I also know that I have
gifts and I’ve made the most of them with this new album.”

 

Tracklisting:

 

1.    Stray Kids

2.    Taxicab

3.    Vagabond

4.    Sex and Drugs

5.    Failure

6.    Someone Else’s Problem

7.    Change The World

8.    Batteries

9.    Don’t Wanna Dance

10.There’s Always Another Girl

11.Candy Wrappers

12.Thousands Of Guitars

13.Wasting Time

 

 

Massive Attack & Scarlett Johansson Team Up

“Summertime” – just in
time for summertime.

 

By Fred Mills

 

The name of the movie is Days
of Grace
, and the IMDB.com description for the Mexican production suggests
nothing less than, er, soccer noir. (“Mexico City. 2002, 2006,
2010. A cop. A hostage. A wife. Corruption, violence, vengeance. Three
destinies, during 30 days, during three Soccer World Cups. Three ways to fight
in order to survive.”)

 

Awesome. But the even more awesome news about the Everardo
Valerio Gout-directed indie film, which just premiered at the Cannes Film
Festival, is that Massive Attack and Scarlett Johansson collaborated on the
song “Summertime” for the soundtrack (via the NME).

 

Johansson, of course, is no stranger to music, having
recorded a so-so collection of Tom Waits tunes in 2008 (Anywhere I Lay My Head) as well as 2009’s Break Up, which teamed her with everyone’s favorite five o’clock
shadow rocker Pete Yorn. More recently, however, she redeemed herself with the
tune “One Whole Hour” for the soundtrack of the Wretches & Jabberers film, so here’s hoping that the Massive
Attack connection continues to up her game.

 

Report: Buffalo Tom Live in Portland

 

At the Doug Fir Lounge on May 19, it was
like traveling back in time 25 years to the heyday of college rock.

 

By Tim Hinely

From the way
that the two roadies kept coming out, setting up, steadying mikes, testing
guitars, gently laying out towels and walking back and forth across the stage
you would have thought that the Rolling Stones were coming on stage. Oh, and
the band coming out at 10:30 PM when it was a 10:00 PM start time. Ok, so I’m
being petty here, but hey, I can be old and crochety sometimes, right? Oh yeah,
and it took bassist Chris Colbourn three songs before he stopped giving the
sound guy orders (“Uh, more guitar in my monitor”,  “”Wait…..a wee bit less vocals in my
monitor”, etc.).  That’s ok, he’s paid
his dues.

 

After walking
out, about the most normal looking rock musicians you’d ever see,  the same three of them that started the band
in 1986, and guitarist/vocalist Bill Janovitz pipes up “Hey guys, here’s a
little history. We’re Buffalo Tom, we’re from Boston, we have been around nearly 25 years
and this song is from our first record.”

 

With that they
dove right into “Sunflower Suit” and it was indeed a fine opening statement.
Then “Taillights Fade” (I would’ve guessed that would have been an encore) in
which Janovitz drew out the vocal phrasings in the song a bit longer.
Afterwards, we heard plenty more from their plethora of records released in the
90’s.  Punchy/ catchy cuts like “Tangerine”,
“Velvet Roof”, “Summer”, 
“Sodajerk”,  “Tree House” and
plenty more (including Skins tunes
like “”Arise, Watch”, “Down” and the Colbourn-sung  “She’s Not Your Thing” and “The Kids Just
Sleep.”).

 

They could have
been (and often were) described as the quintessential college rock band for
everything that title implies. Then, after 1998’s Smitten, they were gone, for nearly a decade, and then came back in
2007 with the pretty good Three Easy
Pieces
and back this year with the terrific return to form of Skins. And
after all of those years together they know each other’s next move and seem
like they genuinely like each other
(not as common as you think with most bands). 
As for the encores, I was hoping for smashers like “Directive” or
“Mountains of Your Head” but they slowed it down and other than “I’m Allowed”
(which sounded great) there were a few others I didn’t recognize and ended it
with a  nice rendition of New Order’s
“Age of Consent.”.  It was then off into
the crisp Portland evening with Bill Janovitz guaranteeing us that it won’t be
another 11 years before their next visit.

 

Go here to read the recent BLURT
interview with B.T. frontman Janovitz.

 

[Photo Credit:
Crackerfarm]

 

 

Video: The Liberators go Blaxploitation!

 

Afro-beat you can use. “Muthafucka’s
wheel is on the wrong side of the car!”

 

By Fred
Mills

 

This has
got to be one of the most fun videos to come down the pike since the trailer
for Son of Blacula (or any number of
Yo La Tengo clips, take your pick): The Liberators, doing “Rags To Riches.” It’s
courtesy of Don’t Look Back Pictures and was directed by Ken Karpel.

 

But it’s
way more than just a promo vehicle for the song; it’s a 7 ½-minute traipse
through the back pages of Blaxploitation flicks. As one of the commentators put
it at YouTube, “This is the shiz! Love it when he punches the hat!” ‘Nuf said.

 

The
Liberators are a killer funk/Afro-beat/jazz combo from Sydney, Australia,
and their self-titled debut came out a couple of months ago on the Record Kicks
label
. Check ‘em out at their Facebook page.

 

[Photo
Credit: Chris McKeen]

 

First Look: New My Morning Jacket LP

 

Released next week by ATO Records,
it sounds completely of a piece, and sets the stage for one of the summer’s
potentially best tours.

 

By Hal Bienstock

In the
chorus of Circuital‘s title track,
Jim James sings “Right back in the same place I started out.” While that may be
literally true – this is the first album the band has recorded in its home
state of Kentucky
since 2003’s It Still Moves –  it’s not exactly a return to the old days. If
anything, it’s more like the musical version of someone who goes back to his
hometown after a few years away. The town may be the same, but the person
certainly isn’t. So while Circuital has
the warm, folk-based sound that characterized the band’s early work, it also
makes room for the experimentalism of its more recent albums.  

 

In fact,
the most interesting thing about Circuital – and MMJ itself – is the way it manages to sound completely of a piece, while incorporating
tons of different sounds. Opening track “Victory Dance” sounds like Neil Young
& Crazy Horse performing with an orchestra, while the title track combines
the galloping beat of U2 with Grateful Dead harmonies. There are also steel-guitar
ballads (“Wonderful”), psychedelic funk-rock (“Holdin’ On to Black Metal”) and
catchy, alternate-universe radio hits (“First Light”).

 

 

Overall, Circuital is a strong album that stands
a notch below MMJ’s best (Z and It Still Moves). But as anyone who has
seen its live shows will attest, albums aren’t really what this band is about.
There are a lot of songs on here that should kill onstage. For now, think of Circuital as an enjoyable set of coming
attractions for what should be one of the best tours of the summer.

 

[Photo
Credit: Danny Clinch]

 

Tour Dates:

 

5/31

LOUISVILLE, KY
Louisville Palace
Theatre

06/02

OZARK, AR
Wakarusa Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/03

OZARK, AR
Wakarusa Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/04

OZARK, AR
Wakarusa Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/05

HUNTER,
NY
Mountain Jam

06/09

MANCHESTER, TN
Bonnaroo Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/10

MANCHESTER, TN
Bonnaroo Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/11

MANCHESTER, TN
Bonnaroo Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/12

MANCHESTER, TN
Bonnaroo Festival
(Schedule to be announced soon)

06/16

MILWAUKEE, WI
Riverside Theater

06/17

CHICAGO, IL
Auditorium Theatre

06/22

LOS ANGELES, CA
Pantages Theatre

06/24

OAKLAND, CA
Fox Theatre

06/26

SEATTLE, WA
Paramount Theatre

06/28

PORTLAND, OR
Edgefield

06/29

VANCOUVER, BC
Orpheum

06/30

QUINCY, CA
High Sierra Music
Festival (Schedule to be announced soon)

07/01

QUINCY, CA
High Sierra Music
Festival (Schedule to be announced soon)

07/02

SANTA
BARBAR, CA
Santa Barbara Bowl

07/03

QUINCY, CA
High Sierra Music
Festival

07/11

TORONTO, ON
Kool Haus

07/12

MONTREAL, QC
Metropolis

07/16

SOUTHWOLD, UK
Latitude Festival

07/17

LONDON, UK
Somerset House

08/02

ST. LOUIS, MO
The Pageant

08/03

KANSAS CITY, MO
Uptown Theater

08/04

MORRISON,
CO
Red Rocks Amphitheatre

08/05

BANGOR, ME
The KahBang Festival

08/06

BANGOR, ME
The KahBang Festival

08/07

INDIANAPOLIS, IN
The Lawn at White River
State Park (w/ Neko Case)

08/08

COLUMBUS, OH
LC Pavillion (w/ Neko
Case)

08/09

BANGOR, ME
The KahBang Festival

08/10

PITTSBURGH, PA
Stage AE (w/ Neko Case)

08/11

BANGOR, ME
The KahBang Festival

08/12

COLUMBIA, MD
Merriweather Post
Pavillion (w/ Neko Case)

08/13

BANGOR, ME
The KahBang Festival

08/14

BOSTON,
MA
Bank of America
Pavillion (w/ Neko Case)

08/16

ROCHESTER HILLS, MI
Meadow Brook (w/ Neko
Case)

08/17

CINCINNATI, OH
PNC Pavillion at Riverbend
Music Center
(w/ Neko Case)

08/20

ALPHARETTA, GA
Verizon Wireless
Amphitheatre (w/ Neko Case)

08/21

CHARLOTTE, NC
Time Warner Cable
Uptown Amphitheatre (w/ Neko Case)

09/17

AUSTIN, TX
Austin City Limits Music Festival

 

 

Massive Attack & Scarlett Johansson Team Up

“Summertime” – just in
time for summertime.

 

By Fred Mills

 

The name of the movie is Days
of Grace
, and the IMDB.com description for the Mexican production suggests
nothing less than, er, soccer noir. (“Mexico City. 2002, 2006,
2010. A cop. A hostage. A wife. Corruption, violence, vengeance. Three
destinies, during 30 days, during three Soccer World Cups. Three ways to fight
in order to survive.”)

 

Awesome. But the even more awesome news about the Everardo
Valerio Gout-directed indie film, which just premiered at the Cannes Film
Festival, is that Massive Attack and Scarlett Johansson collaborated on the
song “Summertime” for the soundtrack (via the NME).

 

Johansson, of course, is no stranger to music, having
recorded a so-so collection of Tom Waits tunes in 2008 (Anywhere I Lay My Head) as well as 2009’s Break Up, which teamed her with everyone’s favorite five o’clock
shadow rocker Pete Yorn. More recently, however, she redeemed herself with the
tune “One Whole Hour” for the soundtrack of the Wretches & Jabberers film, so here’s hoping that the Massive
Attack connection continues to up her game.