Category Archives: Music News

Listen to Johnny Irion Int/Music on NPR Weekend Edition

Superb new album Driving Friend was just released last week.

By Fred Mills

Here at the Blurt bunker we like to support the home team – that would include singer/songwriter (and spouse of Sarah Lee Guthrie) Johnny Irion, whose North Carolina roots run deep. He just released a new album on CD and vinyl titled Driving Friend following a solid PledgeMusic campaign, so check out the official album trailer, below. A Blurt review of the record is forthcoming, incidentally.

Meanwhile, Johnny was interviewed by NPR’s Scott Simon for “Weekend Edition” this past Saturday, and the conversation was clearly one of deep mutual respect. Check it out at NPR (they have published the transcript of the talk as well), or listen to it below.

Iconic (if controversial…) Early Spacemen 3 Material Out This Week on Vinyl


By Blurt Staff

With the release this week (June 1) of the Superior Viaduct label’s 2LP Spacemen 3 reissue, Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To, the Blurt staff has been, ahem, prepping our collective mind for the sonic assault. Head over to our Features section for an overview as well as a flashback to the Blurt editor’s 2003 with S3 mainman Sonic Boom, where you can also stream the entire Taking Drugs… album and watch a 1989 concert of the band at its performing peak.


Video Premiere: mmhmm “Aw Hell”

Track taken from Willie’s granddaughter’s combo’s new album, out in June.

By John B. Moore

I’m not sure why we’re getting all worked up about Prince Harry’s wedding, when we’ve got out own Royal Family here in the U.S. to pay attention to. Willie Nelson’s granddaughter Raelyn Nelson (just the latest in a growing line of talented Nelson’s) and Hannah Fairlight have partnered for a new project, mmhmm. The two are pioneers in the Americana Pop genre.
Shortly after moving to Nashville, Fairlight landed a leading role on A&E’s Crazy Hearts: Nashville, released a self-produced EP, and landed the role of Veracity in Pitch Perfect 3. Before co-founding mmhmm, Nelson fronted the appropriately named, The Raelyn Nelson Band.
Their debut album is out on June 8, the first single from it is “Aw Hell” and they were kind enough to let Blurt be the first to share it with the world.

See the video:

“Aw Hell” is the first song Raelyn and I wrote together, sitting on my back porch in Inglewood, East Nashville,” said Fairlight. “I guess we were just reflecting on real life circumstances and our coming to terms with them. Raelyn’s house burned down, which was INSANE.,. And it gave me and definitely Raelyn new perspective on everything.”

The duo have a handful of dates set up for June:

June 1st at Puckett’s in Lieper’s Fork, TN
June 15th at Lipstick Lounge – Album release show and party in Nashville, TN
Supporting Todd Snider:
June 16th at Paramount Center of the Arts in Bristol TN
June 17th at Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH
June 28 Summer NAMM show in Nashville, TN


Preview: 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival

Returning for Its 39th Year and Bending Its Boundaries Yet Again

By Alisa B. Cherry

Anyone who has ever been to Montreal can attest to the fact that there’s no need for an excuse when it comes to making it part of one’s travel plans. It’s rich in history, a remarkable confluence of cultures and home to some of the most remarkable restaurants and interesting architecture found in the whole of North America.

Nevertheless, those that do need incentive would be wise to consider the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which takes place from June 28 through July 7, one of summer’s most memorable musical events. Offering a variety of talent that incorporates jazz (natch), folk, rock and experimental ensembles — around 150 concerts altogether, some entirely free — within theaters, clubs and a spacious pedestrian mall, it’s easy, accessible and pedestrain friendly.

Montreal is the ideal setting for this  annual event because as a beacon for international tourism, it makes the international variety practically a given. As it approaches its 39th year, the festival has attained the same stature as Montreux, Newport and New Orleans as a beacon for great music, with an additional additive in its accessibility that welcomes aficionados near and far.

While the headliners are, of course, the main reason for attending, the venues themselves are well worth noting as well, from the sprawling confines of the performing arts center — a combination of three world-class concert halls (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Maison Symphonique De Montreal and Theatre Maisonneuve) — to the array of clubs and cabarets that dot the nearby streets. This year’s festival will feature any number of artists with worldwide appeal — Ian Anderson at the helm of Jethro Tull’s 50th anniversary tour, Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock, Ry Cooder, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Bobby McFerrin, Carla Bley, Soft Machine, My Brightest Diamond, John Medeski, Marc Ribot, along with numerous other internationally known artists and up and coming performers clearly on the verge of future success.

Consequently, over the course of ten days or so, attendees can get an entertaining lesson in a wide range of musical invention, as well as a sense of this spectacular city.  Audiences get an opportunity to enjoy a wide array of innovation and invention, artists that find a common bond with tradition while also setting a course towards the future.

This year for the first time, the festival will extend its offerings by filming several of the concerts and broadcasting them live worldwide. A partnership with Mezzo Live HD which will allow Bela Fleck & The Flecktones to be shared with worldwide audiences on Sunday, July 1. Other concerts scheduled for broadcast will be announced later.

Tickets for the 39th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal are on sale now.



Rank And File’s Tony Kinman 1956-2018 R.I.P.

’80s band was a key influence on the soon-to-arrive alt-country scene.

By Blurt Staff

The Blurt staff is saddened to learn of the death of Tony Kinman (Rank And File, Blackbird, Cowboy Nation) at the age of 63. He passed away Friday, May 4, from cancer. According to the L.A. Times:

“On Thursday, Chip Kinman’s Facebook page alerted fans of his brother’s condition: ‘Tony is home with his family. He is no longer receiving treatment and is comfortable and at peace. I have read him everything that people are posting and he is very moved. I will let everyone know when it is done. I love you all. Thank you, Chip.’

“He was diagnosed with cancer in March, and had begun what had been expected to be a six-month program of chemotherapy, according to the CaringBridge page Chip’s wife, Lisa Kinman, created to keep fans informed. But the cancer turned out to be extremely aggressive.”

We have posted a tribute to Kinman, an expanded version of a 2003 interview that Blurt editor Fred Mills conducted with the musician, along with some great audio/video clips. Our deepest condolences to Chip Kinman and the rest of the Kinman family, as well as Tony’s many friends and fans.

Exclusive Album Premiere: Arthur Alexander (Sorrows/Poppees) Solo LP


Kickass platter One Bar Left arrives this week, May 4, on the Dead Beat label.


By Blurt Staff

Arthur Alexander is no stranger to memorable guitar hooks. As the guitarist/singer/songwriter from both the mid-‘70s NYC power-pop band The Poppees and early ‘80s power-pop band Sorrows he’s written his fair share of impossible to shake ditties. That’s one of many reasons Blurt is stoked to be able to premiere Arthur Alexander’s new debut solo effort, One Bar Left.  The LP comes out May 4th on all formats via Dead Beat Records, and traffics in a similar high-energy style of power-pop from his former bands.

“The songs on this album literally span decades – from some of the very first songs I’d written, like “Hello Suzanne” and “Till I Was On My Way”, to “I’ll Get Your Love Someday” which I wrote while I was with The Poppees, through “Can’t Get You Out Of My Dream” written shortly before Sorrows’ breakup, to songs written only recently,” said Alexander. “Some started their life years ago, but were never finished, only to be completed as I was recording this album.”

One of the things he’s proudest of on this album is how all the songs (and it’s a lot of songs!), no matter how diverse from one to the next, all seem to somehow flow together.

“As unintuitive as it may sound, I think that’s because I paid absolutely no attention or made any effort to making them “sound similar”.  Instead, I went for what sounded and worked the best for each song, and nothing else. I simply went where each song wanted to take me, rather than me trying to take the song where I thought it should go. “Shot In The Heart” felt like it wanted to sound like Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” meets Tom Waits?  Why Not?!  As long as I felt like I’m staying true to myself and my music, that’s all that mattered.”
Check it out for yourself. Oh, and while you’re at it, check the man himself out at his Facebook page for more info, tour dates, et al.

Watch New Video From NYC Jazz Outfit Dadalon

By Fred Mills

Not long ago we published an interview with the adventurous jazz duo Dadalon, our contributor Jonathan Levitt commenting on the NYC combo thusly: “Alon Albagli, guitarist for the group, sounds like a young Bill Frisell, creating heightened states of awareness with his cyclical looped guitar work that builds and builds until there’s an intense emotional payoff for the listener. Daniel Dor, drummer and keyboardist for the group, is able to infuse a rhythmic playfulness into each song that is both supportive of Alon’s guitar playing and propulsive at the same time. The music is an intimate conversation between two friends that is beckoning for you to join in.”

Indeed. The feature included some exclusive video footage Levitt shot, and now Dadalon has posted a new performance video at their Facebook page. Check out “In Yellow Green” at that link.



Videos: Thee Hypnotics Back In Action!

By Fred “Shakedown” Mills and Jonathan “Soul Trader” Levitt

As we noted not all that long ago, Britain’s erstwhile Detroit-torch-carryers, Thee Hypnotics, have gotten back together for a reunion tour and a career-spanning box set. The BLURT braintrust has been throbbing in anticipation ever since. And this weekend the hard rock mavens kicked out the proverbial jams in front of a gobsmacked Leicester audience, as the fan-generated video clips below amply demonstrate. (FYI, the top clip is the best-sounding one; the other two have some significant audio distortion.) Americans, you have been duly warned. Here’s the evening’s setlist:

Thee Hypnotics Leicester 2018 from Hansten Klork on Vimeo.

Unreleased Early Kurt Cobain Demos To FINALLY See Release (on RSD!)

Kurt wings

Better late than never: the late Nirvana frontman’s rumored childhood demos, previously authenticated but delayed by record company politics, will finally arrive in stores in time for Record Store Day 2018.


A couple of years ago, in a BLURT exclusive report titled “Pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain Demos Unearthed,” we outlined how a 30-track collection of cassette tapes reportedly dating back to the Nirvana frontman’s childhood had been discovered and were being estimated as being worth “seven figures” or more. At the time of the report there was more than a little speculation that it was all a hoax or, at very least, wishful thinking on the you-gotta-believe segment of the Cobain/Nirvana fanbase (and trust us, that is a HUGE segment).

Subsequently, though, the tapes were authenticated and production shifted into high gear, with a target release date of April 19, 2014 – Record Store Day. It was to be a limited-to-1000-copies numbered set of cassettes, titled The KDC Tapes, released by Geffen/Universal and housed in a deluxe “cigar box” styled packaging and featuring Cobain-derived memorabilia that includes faux-syringes, cigarette packs and snippets of lyrics scribbled on napkins. The artwork was reportedly derived from the recently published photos of the Cobain suicide crime scene. Following the exclusive RSD title there were also going to be non-limited CD and vinyl editions released by the summer.

Kurt scene 1

Kurt scene 4

And then… nothing. Nada. April 19 came and went, and then the summer came and went as well, with no Cobain release, no Nirvana release, nothing. Not even a peep from the Nirvana camp or from their record label. Speculation among the fan community was rampant: were there copyright issues blocking the release, or did the label get cold feet and back off from what could be considered, by sensitive or politically correct types, distasteful, or was there even second guessing along the lines of “what Kurt would’ve wanted” (e.g., were he still alive, would he have wanted his earliest, naive rumblings as a musician made public)? Or PERHAPS COURTNEY LOVE WAS BLOCKING THE RELEASE?!? After all, that batshit gal could be capable of ANYTHING – she proved it when she had El Duce of the Mentors offed

Not to worry, long suffering Cobainirvana acolytes: none of the above turns out to be the case; it was simply a situation where the people behind the release wanted to “get things right.” BLURT has learned from our record industry sources that issues arose primarily surrounding the aforementioned packaging and artwork, with snags in the production including not only having to negotiate with the authorities for the original crime scene photos but also getting the rights from the cigarette manufacturer and the medical supply house (which made the specific type of syringes Cobain preferred, a kind of “reverse hydraulic” feature that facilitated easy injection when not using a tie-off around the arm) to create reproductions of the original items. Those hurdles finally overcome, Geffen has announced that the limited edition cassette box set, still bearing the name The KDC Tapes but now with a more fan-friendly production run of 3000 copies, will be available on this year’s Record Store Day, which falls on Saturday, April 21.

Expect a bit more than the usual frenzy at your local indie record store this year, kids.

From our original report, let’s recap:

A trove of dusty Phillips cassettes purchased by a self-styled “junker” at an Aberdeen, Wash., garage sale have turned out to be early demo recordings by the late Kurt Cobain. It marks the first time since the 2004 Nirvana box set With the Lights Out that heretofore unheard Cobain material has surfaced, and Nirvana experts are hailing the 30-plus tracks – some of them full songs, others just “sketches” – as likely representing the earliest known Cobain material in existence.

The individual who bought the box of tapes initially got curious when he spotted the initials “KDC” (as in, “Kurt Donald Cobain”) scrawled in black magic marker on the side of each cassette. Upon listening to them he contacted a music industry lawyer, who in turn contacted representatives of Cobain’s estate and Cobain’s record label; the tapes were subsequently verified by noted music producers Jack Endino and Butch Vig (who both worked with Nirvana) as being legitimate. The finder is reportedly now in negotiations to sell the tapes to the estate and label.

One industry observer estimates the potential value of the tapes as being “in the seven-figure range.”

Cobain, who was born in 1967 and attended high school in Aberdeen while living there with his mother, apparently recorded them on a vintage 3M Wollensak mono tape deck when he was in elementary school – presumably about the age of 8 or 9, as several of the song titles focus on people and events circa 1974-75: “Nixon Must Die (Or Resign)”; “I Wanna Be Just Like a Weatherman”; “Carlos the Jackal”; “Shazam!”; and the collection’s lone cover, a ukulele version of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.”

According to a source who has heard the material, the tunes are “mostly singalongs” performed on acoustic guitar or the aforementioned ukulele, along with some rudimentary percussion performed by an unknown additional musician, “There’s nothing there that would really give a blindfold test listener the sense that Cobain would go on to form one of the biggest bands on the planet, although it is worth noting that even at that age you could hear the initial stirrings of his trademark rasp – kinda like any kid sounds after he’s been punched in the throat a couple of times, actually.

“With that said, however, a few recurring lyrical motifs, somewhat precocious on one level and disturbing on another, do provide ad hoc foreshadowing. At least three songs contain the word ‘vagina,’ each part of some childlike rhyming scheme, one of them being ‘your mama’; and there’s an unusual fixation on firearms too, such as in ‘…Weatherman’ where he sings in a kind of taunting tone of voice, ‘You’ll wish you were dead/ When I point my gun at your head.’ That’s followed by the popping sound of a kid’s cap gun.”

Genuine historical artifact, or merely a curio for hard-core Cobain and Nirvana fans? With interest in both the artist and the band never having waned since his death in 1994, it’s likely that “The KDC Tapes,” as they’re being referred to in industry circles, will eventually anchor several archival releases: a CD of cherry-picked highlights, a collection of DJ remixes, and the inevitable big-ticket boxed set – possibly even a DVD documentary outlining the finding-of, the cleaning-up-of and the marketing-of the tapes. [Editor’s note: the latter info was obviously premature. See the second paragraph above for the current status of the release.]

Also likely: the unknown percussionist will turn up wanting his cut of the profits. Already, the Cobain estate has reportedly been contacted by several individuals claiming – rather implausibly, and without credible documentation – to be the percussionist. As Cobain’s mother, Wendy, told a Seattle newspaper reporter, “Kurt really was a surly, unpleasant child to be around, and while he’s been characterized as being the type of musician who didn’t like to play with just anyone, it was actually the other way around – nobody wanted to play with him.


As noted above, both Vig and Endino had initially verified the tapes’ existence and likely provenance, but as time went by and the tapes failed to be released, speculation was rampant that it had all been a hoax, and Vig and Endino’s subsequent silence on the matter seemed to justify that conclusion. In early 2014, however, at a press conference at the Universal Music Group’s offices in Los Angeles, the two producers appeared jointly to announce the impending release, implicitly giving their blessings. “We are pleased and proud to be part of this project,” the pair offered, in a statement. “Kurt impacted our lives in so many ways, this is just our way of ‘giving back’ to the Cobain community.”

In the 2014 press release originally circulated by Universal, it was noted that both the surviving members of Nirvana as well as Cobain’s widow Courtney Love had given their blessings to the project but were not directly involved with the new box set. More recently, however, it appears that in the wake of the protracted delay, Nirvana drummer (and Foo Fighters frontman) Dave Grohl has gotten involved with some last minute remastering of the tapes, utilizing the original mixing board from Sound City Studios (the same facility that he feted in his 2012 documentary about the legendary studios), which he had obtained a few years back. “Kurt would’ve dug that,” Grohl tweeted. “[He] loved [going into] Sound City, sometimes just to fuck around with [all the] vintage gear.”

@FooFightersDave Kurt would’ve dug that, total studio rat, loved Sound City, sometimes just to fuck around with vintage gear

Watch BLURT for a review of the Cobain box shortly after Record Store Day, per our usual roundup of choice titles the staff and contributors score. Hopefully yours truly will have a workable cassette deck in time for RSD…

Additional reporting can be viewed here. Check out a teaser video trailer for the Cobain box right here.

Top Photo Credit: A.P. Rilfuul, RETNA Images Inc.


An Open Letter to Josh Homme

Requesting the rocker (pictured above, in the rear) to finally step up and do the right thing regarding Eagles of Death Metal bandmate Jesse Hughes’ cruelty this week towards the Parkland massacre survivors.

By Fred Mills

Dear Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, and in particular Eagles of Death Metal:

Your silence thus far (as of this writing, at 7:25PM, 3/28/18) regarding your Eagles of Death Metal bandmate Jesse Hughes’ recent, reprehensible stroke of cruelty inflicted upon the survivors of the Parkland massacre – literally, younger, smaller, weaker humans than Hughes – has been deafening. As a fan and supporter of yours going way back to dusty desert rock days (I was living in Arizona and circulating around the Southwest during the same time you were getting your own career off the ground in the region), I can understand the urge to steer clear of socially- and politically-charged areas, as it’s the music that is both our focus.

But sometimes you have to step up (I started to say “man up,” but I’ve decided that’s no longer an appropriate epithet; Parkland survivor Emma González is braver and has a bigger heart than I’ll ever be able to lay claim to) and do the right thing. Loyalty to a band member is understandable, but common human decency and a willingness to call out affronts to that decency has to trump mere “loyalty.” (It was heartening to see your friend Mark Lanegan stepping up to condemn Hughes earlier today. Perhaps he’ll inspire you to do likewise? I noticed that both Piers Morgan and Danko Jones weighed in recently as well. And my journalistic peers at Britain’s NME had a few choice words about Jesse.)

With that noted, a friend of mine and I are offering this open letter to you in the spirit of combating the aforementioned cruelty. We propose that you publicly issue the statement, below, regarding Hughes’ recent actions, or at very least, a statement containing similar sentiments. I think it speaks for itself.

I hope your fellow band members in the Eagles of Death Metal, in Queens of the Stone Age, and in Them Crooked Vultures, along with your management, booking, and promotional teams (Silva Artist Management, the Richard De La Font Agency, Inc., Nasty Little Man, WME Entertainment, The MGMT Company, etc…. probably several I’ve missed here), will applaud your response as regards Hughes. Put in less emotional and more prosaic, commercial terms: the longer you or any of your business partners are associated with Hughes, the more it will hurt everyone’s brand. And that’s something that, judging by the thousands of comments I’ve read on social media this week, isn’t to be taken lightly. If you’re uncertain about that, or think I’m bluffing/exaggerating, I suggest you go check out the thousand-plus comments that have been logged at the most recent posting at the Eagles of Death Metal Facebook page (the one dated March 24, from your recent concert in Tempe, Arizona). That’s more than a thousand comments at one single FB post. Check out some of the comments at your QOTSA page while you’re online, as well.

Below is a draft statement for you to issue through the appropriate channels. I sincerely hope you will consider issuing such a statement.

All regards,

Fred Mills/ human/ editor, Blurt Magazine


From Josh Homme, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, & Those Crooked Vultures:

As you know, I have defended my former bandmate in the past and even called him my friend. But his statements this week involving the Parkland kids and their supporters has crossed a line and our friendship will not continue nor will our musical collaboration.

As a human, I am torn and still will support any effort to see that Jesse gets the mental and physical care he needs to re-enter society. With that noted, I will only do so by having no direct contact with him.

As a show of good faith, I will donate 10% of all my future shares in any of my upcoming musical projects to fight the sale of assault rifles, to promote the imposition of gun sale background checks, and to declare the National Rifle Association an illegal terrorist organization.

And I would like to personally extend an apology to the Parkland survivors for the emotional pain they have experienced at the hands of Jesse Hughes.

Thank you,

Josh Homme