Monthly Archives: December 2016

Miracle Legion Plots Spring U.S. Tour

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It’s just selected dates in April, but we’ll take what we can get.

By Uncle Blurt

Now this is good end-of-year news, in a year where the news was uniformly bad: Miracle Legion, buoyed by the ecstatic reception to their scattered reunion shows in 2016, is planning to resume performing in 2017. First up: a couple of shows in early April followed by five more to close out that month. The beloved band will play gigs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Philadelphia and NYC, as well as marquee shows in L.A. and San Francisco – dates are listed here. You can bet we’ll be catching as many as we can.

Sharp-eyed BLURT readers will recall the exhaustive interview with singer Mark Mulcahy that we published several years ago, as well as details of the 2016 reunion, a review of the vinyl reissue of the Portrait of a Damaged Family album, the exclusive track the band allowed us to post here at the site, and video clips from the first reunion show last April. So yeah, we’re just a teensy bit biased….

Photo: Kenneth Bachor

Trump Inauguration Musical Boycott Expands w/Mormon Tabernacle Choir Member

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Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Don….

By Blurt Staff

Some folks get Fleetwood Mac (Bill Clinton); others get Aretha Franklin (Barack Obama); and still others get America’s Got Talent “superstar” Jackie Evancho, whoever she is. The latter of course is the hi-wattage talent slated for the Trump Inauguration celebration, and no one is surprised that the proverbial “A-listers” are steering clear of the bash, Elton John being just one among many who have made it clear that they will be busy that night binging on Netflix or washing their hair.

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Today, a left-field decliner appeared on the horizon: a member of the decidedly non-partisan Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As CNN and other media outlets report, Choir member Jan Chamberlin announced that she was not only refusing to perform, she was actually quitting the ensemble in protest of its decision to appear at the inauguration. “I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man,” Chamberlin wrote in a Facebook post. “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him… Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man. Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm.”

Well, all right then! No official comment from the Choir yet, while Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn offered a generic “We’re honored to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform in the 58th Inauguration, their sixth time participating in inaugural ceremonies, and we look forward to their uplifting performance.”

Hey Donald, Ted Nugent might cut short his hunting trip that week if you wanna give him a call… he was willing to talk to BLURT about his political leanings, after all, and we suspect he might “lean” in your direction, wide stance optional…. Ditto Mike Love, he of the Beach Boys, who is no stranger to right-wing politics, and… waitaminnit, Love has already browbeat his fellow bandmembers into accepting the gig. Talk about some bad vibrations….

 

 

Incoming for 2017: New Wavves Album

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Unless it’s an April Fool’s joke…

By Barbi Martinez

Nobody ever accused Wavves of being, uh, obscure or something. Cryptic, though, definitely. Nathan Williams has tweeted out the following:

So there you have it. Theas-yet-untitled album will be the followup to 2015’s somewhat underwhelming and -performing and will arrive on the Ghost Ramp imprint run by Williams.

 

 

Here’s New Run The Jewels Download; Deluxe 4LP Version Coming

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By Barbi Martinez

You may have heard that El-P and Killer Mike dropped a Christmas gift the other day: their new album, as a free download. You can still grab it at their official website as well as details on how to order it on vinyl (colored wax, natch) and CD. We suggest the “super vinyl” 4LP edition, of course; it has the album proper on gold vinyl and an instrumental version on blue, plus a WAV/FLAC download and a sticker pack. It’s slated to ship “spring 2017,” so be patient.

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And don’t miss the awesome promo video they have at the site – joining the duo for the merriment are Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. You gotta watch it.

Track Exclusive: James Johnston (Gallon Drunk) “Heart and Soul”

Live version of a key track from the artist’s remarkable new solo album, The Starless Room.

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By Fred Mills

Sharp-eyed readers know the name James Johnston: He’s the frontman for Britain’s eternally brilliant Gallon Drunk [official website is HERE] as well as an in-demand sideman for the likes of—you may have heard of some of these—Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey (whose Hope Six Demolition Project, which features Johnston, was recently nominated for a Grammy), and Marianne Faithfull.

He’s now got a solo album, The Starless Room, and he recently sat down with BLURT’s resident Gallon Drunk expert, Jonathan Levitt, to discuss the new record. “I needed to do something different, I wanted to try something fresh, something I wasn’t familiar with,” explained Johnston. “Something that reflected more what I like to listen to myself. It just developed from there, encouraged and helped along by Johann Scheerer, the producer.”

Stay tuned for the entire interview next week, and meanwhile, Johnston graciously provided us with an exclusive track to get the readers’ appetites whetted. It’s from a live studio event recorded earlier this year by Linda Gerdes at the Clouds Hill festival. Check out “Heart and Soul” – you can stream it or download for your personal playlist.

Incidentally, Johnston has also created a series of videos in which he discusses the writing of each track on the album. Go HERE to view the clip for “Heart and Soul” and HERE for the “Track by Track” section of his YouTube channel. Meanwhile, you can read Levitt’s previous interview with Johnston, in which he discusses Gallon Drunk’s classic album From the Heart of Town, as part of our “The Story Behind The Album” series.

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

2017 Rock Hall Inductees Announced

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Two of them get the nod first year they are eligible.

By Barbi Martinez

Where were you in ’92? A lot of us were soaking in the grunge stylings of Pearl Jam or the hip-hop gangsta vibe of 2Pac. (Me? I was in daycare. But I was very gangsta just the same.) Now, 25 years later, those two icons are among the seven who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7 in Brooklyn. The others: Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Yes, and Joan Baez, plus Chic’s Nile Rogers getting the Award for Musical Excellence.

That’s a whole lotta boomerism’ going on, eh? It’s the third try for Yes, and while Journey has been eligible for ages, it was their first nomination. Don’t stop believin’ fans!

You can go HERE on the website to read Rev. Keith Gordon’s comments a few months ago about this year’s nominees. He’s a fan of some, others – like ELO – not so much.

Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, more for Tibet House Benefit

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By Barbi Martinez

Mark your calendars for March 16 and book your flights to Carnegie Hall: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, New Order, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman, Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith, Scorchio Quartet and harpist Lavinia Meijer will be playing the annual Tibet House benefit, this one being billed as the “30th Anniversary Benefit Concert Celebrating Philip Glass’ 80th Birthday.” Glass himself curated the lineup and is the event’s artistic director.

Tickets ($35-$200, plus a $500 VIP ticket) can be gotten at the Carnegie Hall website and the Tibet House US website, respectively.

 

 

Video: Flaming Lips Unveil New “Unicorns” Track in OKC

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By Barbi Martinez

With Oczy Mlody en route, the Flaming Lips have started performing new material in concert, such as “There Should Be Unicorns.” Watch them doing it in Oklahoma City this past Friday. You can also view some additional clips, all of them fan-filmed (so the quality is somewhat dodgy), including bits of “Do You Realize” and Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

 

Photo via the Lips / Jennifer Bjerke Lessard

Video: Brian Cullman with a Special Holiday Song

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“Holiday music gives me the creeps”: So he decided to do something about it.

By Blurt Staff

Rocker/music writer Brian Cullman, who’s been on the Manhattan music scene for just about forever, hooking up with everyone from Bill Laswell and Vernon Reid to Lillian Roxon and Danny Fields, additionally ‘scribing for the likes of Creem and Crawdaddy. So the dude’s got game. Earlier this year he also cut a solo album, The Opposite of Time, garnering a passel of critical kudos. Now—speaking of game—he’s getting a jump on New Year’s Eve this year by releasing a sharp holiday-themed song, titled, appropriately enough, “New Year’s Eve.” You can check out the video for it, below.

Brian Cullman – New Years Eve from Kathrin Laser on Vimeo.

Cullman’s comments on the song:

“Years ago, I washed up on a tiny island between Spain & Africa. There was no electricity, no running water, and after dark, the animals took over the island, dogs and goats and creatures you couldn’t see but could hear, snuffling and breathing by the rocks on the shore. There was a pretty girl who lived in a windmill; a doctor who had hung his rejection letter from Harvard Med School on his front door; and an architect who was compiling an encyclopedia of sand. It was that sort of place. It was late November, I’d rented a tiny house in the middle of a pine grove, and I realized it was the first year I wouldn’t spend Christmas with my parents. I felt both liberated and homesick; but excited to be on my own, finding my way in the world and anxious to leave all the trappings of pop culture behind. I wanted to stare at the moon and hear the music of time.

“I would go out under the stars, with nothing but the sound of wind and dogs and night, and there in the wilds, my mind would fill with the flotsam & jetsam of my childhood: ‘The Christmas Song,’ ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas.’ So much for the music of the spheres.

“For years, after I returned, I couldn’t set foot in a mall or step into an elevator after Thanksgiving. I still can’t. Holiday music gives me the creeps.

“So this is my revenge, my way out of no way out! Three minutes of seasonal music without a sleigh bell or reindeer or sugar plum fairy dancing in your head.  It’s a song for that dark nightclub of the soul where Randy Newman, Sun Ra and Willie Dixon are the dee jays and no one really cares if you’re naughty or nice.”

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On the web: http://www.briancullman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/brian.cullman.

 

Chris Stamey Launches Holiday-themed Radio Special

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On hand are Branford Marsalis, Nnenna Freelon, Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon, Skylar Gudasz, Django Haskins, Millie McGuire Kirsten Lambert, Eric Hodge, Walker Harrison, and Presyce Baez.

 By Blurt Staff

Longtime NC music scene aficionados already know the term “Occasional Shivers”: it’s a song penned by Christ Stamey (The dB’s) and released as part of a Christmas single in 1986. More recently, it has a new context: a “brand-new old-fashioned radio play airing this holiday season on public broadcasting” that Stamey has newly composed and produced.

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The play features the above artists (Marsalis is the host) plus a jazz band featuring the likes of Bill Frisell, John Brown, Scott Sawyer and Will Campbell, and is a “one-hour musical drama tells the story of two young lovers who meet at a pair of Christmas parties…. With characters such as society hostess Birdie McDavenish (“I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love with You”), famed composer Paul Carter (“Intoxichoclification”), and aspiring songwriter Will Cassidy (“Manhattan Melody [That’s My New York]”), the play harkens back to an era, after West Side Story but before the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, when jazz had gone from hot to cool and it looked like rock and roll was on its last legs.”

It premiered live in September in Chapel Hill at UNC’s Kenan Music Building, and the broadcast is now going to be available as an expanded “director’s cut” starting Christmas Day via iTunes and Amazon. Below, watch a couple of versions of the trailer. Happy holidays, everyone!