Blind man running through the light of the night / With an answer in his hand, / Come on down to the river of sight / And you can really understand, / Red lights flashing through the window in the rain, / Can you hear the sirens moan? / White cane lying in a gutter in the lane, / If you’re walking home alone.
Don’t let it bring you down / It’s only castles burning, / Just find someone who’s turning / And you will come around.
When I started DJing on the “radio,” I loved the idea of visualizing a muse to play for. My first theme was driving through the desert at night. Along these past seven or eight years, I’ve based most of my Idelic Hour playlists off some kind of a theme—it’s often a hunch or just a loose concept that briefly enters my conscious being.
Making these radio hours has been an interesting mental exercise. I’ve always wanted the sets to be unpredictable, loose, and spontaneous. In the beginning on KCRW I was far from this, but part of my growth as a “selector” has been to understand what this hour of music means and how to manage it.
The latest recordings from The Jayhawks come as backing band on the new Ray Davies album Americana, which came out the same weekend the venerable Twin Cities band played The Birchmere. The band hasn’t exactly become the Kinks in the meantime; the Jayhawks’ latest release, Paging Mr. Proust has many of the same tuneful, expressive songs they’ve been producing for more than three decades.
They didn’t play any Davies stuff in the show, but it reminded music lovers that dreamy songs like “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” and “Waiting for a Rainy Day” are right in the sunny ballpark with “Waterloo Sunset.”
It’s been a bit of a struggle for the band that began with two chief songwriters. By now, the band seems to have solidified with largely one—lead singer Gary Louris, after Mark Olson’s departure and brief return didn’t work out. The generous show demonstrated though that drummer Tim O’Reagan not only fills in most often as harmonizer with Louris these days, he’s also been contributing a few of his own songs, including “Tampa to Tulsa” and “Bottomless Cup.”
With touring guitarist Jeff “Chet” Lyster off the tour and on the mend following surgery, the second guitar spot is being filled by John Jackson, who also happens to be the A&R guy who hooked up the Davies connection. But Louris takes up a lot of the stinging leads himself, to good effect and the rest of the band—Marc Perlman on bass and Karen Grotberg on keyboards and O’Reagan’s drums perfectly framing the songs, whether they were spare ballads or all out rockers.
VIA PRESS RELEASE | Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment, Warner Music Group’s catalog division, are proud to announce a joint campaign celebrating the 60th anniversary of iconic soul label, Stax Records. This unique partnership marks the first marketing collaboration of the Stax recordings which have been divided since Atlantic Records split with Stax Records in 1967.
Honoring historic Soulsville, USA in Memphis, TN, curated collections of some of the greatest Stax music will be released on new hits compilations, vinyl LPs, digital hi-resolution remasters and deluxe boxed sets. These releases will showcase timeless Stax hits, plus rare tracks from many of the label’s legendary artists including Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Mable John, The Mad Lads and many more.
The collaboration between Rhino and Concord will kick off with the May 19th launch of the Stax Classics series—announced exclusively on Rolling Stone (4/26)—which consists of ten wallet-friendly collections, each highlighting one of the label’s biggest stars with 12 choice tracks and insightful new liner notes. Available on CD and at all digital retailers and streaming services, these albums will celebrate the prolific Stax careers of Otis Redding, William Bell, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, Booker T & The MGs, The Dramatics, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, and The Staple Singers.
VIA PRESS RELEASE | Sought after by collectors and considered the rarest of Motown’s rare grooves, Diana Ross’diana – the original CHIC mix, will make its long-awaited debut on vinyl on April 21, on Motown/UMe/UMGI, with a twist: it will be a double-LP set on pink vinyl at 45rpm for maximum fidelity. This edition of diana includes alternate-mix versions of such classics as “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out,” as envisioned by Chic’s Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame member Nile Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards.
Following 1979’s collaboration with Ashford & Simpson, which produced her hit “The Boss,” Diana Ross sought a new sound and hired the hot Chic team of Rodgers and Edwards to compose, play on, and produce her next release. But she and Motown were dissatisfied with the too-Chic-like results, a feeling supported by influential disc jockey Frankie Crocker, who warned Ross the record might fall prey to the disco backlash at the time. Ross turned to Motown’s house engineer, Russ Terrana, the man behind her Supremes and solo hits and much more, and he proceeded to remix the entire album, using alternate vocals or placing her vocals more upfront, creating overall a smoother, “commercial” mix.
“Our concept was to make it more avant-garde,” Nile Rodgers later told writer Brian Chin, “and their concept was to make it a little bit more accessible.” The revised diana, her tenth studio album, was released—with a striking, now iconic cover image—on May 22, 1980.
Rodgers and Edwards were not informed and, protesting publicly, wished to take their names off the record. But they cooled off and saw “Upside Down”—Ross’ own description to Rodgers and Edwards as to what she wanted to do to her career—emerge a #1 smash hit.
PHOTO: ELSA HAHNE | There are plenty of acts for any taste on the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for rockers; Lorde for the younger set; Pitbull for pan Latin party hip hop; George Benson for jazz guitar heads, and more New Orleans music of every stripe than any festival in the world. Here are my weekend picks. The Saturday schedule is here.
I recommend catching at least one Mardi Gras Indian tribe per day. With Saturday shaping up to be one of the most crowded days at the Fairgrounds, start at the most intimate stage with the Commanche Hunters. Led by Big Chief Ki-Ki, this tribe represents with the uptown style of beadwork and creates some of the most amazing suits you’ll ever see.
The leader of Corey Henry and the Tremé Funktet (pictured at top) has a long musical history given he’s still in his forties. The trombonist was Kermit Ruffins’ musical foil for over a decade and recently spent several years as a special guest with the nouveau funk band Galactic. Now he’s focused on his own project and based on two recent performances, they are on fire.
In keeping with my theme of trying to avoid the most crowded areas, head back to the Jazz and Heritage stage in the middle of the day for the NewBreed Brass Band. Like Corey Henry, these young cats have their roots in the Tremé neighborhood and they bring the serious soul.
The sixties and early seventies were a time of intense space exploration. The governments of the United States of America and the Soviet Union were behind some of it; most of it was done by hippies. Pink Floyd helped usher in the era of pinwheel-eyed rocket science with “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Interstellar Overdrive.” David “Is There Life on Mars?” Bowie took the meteorite and ran with it on “Space Oddity” and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Not to be outdone, Yes gave us “Starship Trooper.”
Heck, even Elton John got in on the act, turning space into a quotidian place on “Rocket Man.” And let’s not forget Country Joe’s “Starship Ride,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,” Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy,” the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s “Urban Spaceman,” and the great Golden Earring’s “Space Ship.” And don’t even get me started on Sun Ra and Funkadelic.
But the hairy hippie space race reached its apogee in 1970, when Paul Kantner converted the ramshackle Jefferson Airplane into a shaggy Starship with the aid of such terminally stoned psychonauts as Jerry “Captain Trips” Garcia and David “Major Drug Problem” Crosby, along with such Airplane regulars as Grace Slick, Jack Casady, blah blah blah.
Onancock record store keeps the music spinning: Vinyl records are making a comeback, and the little town of Onancock on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, somewhat incongruously, is home to one of a handful of record stores on the Delmarva Peninsula. “It’s just a lifestyle thing for millennial hipsters,” said John Monsees, owner of Sound Idea Records. In addition to these younger enthusiasts, Monsees’ customers include older aficionados who never stopped listening to records. Monsees opened the shop at 49 King St. in January 2016 after moving to Virginia from New York three years ago.
Parkinsons Books hits high note with first Record Store Day: One of Lord Street’s oldest shops hit the right note with customers as it celebrated national Record Store Day on Saturday. The event at Parkinsons Books in Southport saw eight top DJs playing to customers throughout the day as shoppers picked their way through the large collection of vinyl records at the store, which also sells goods including second hand books, sea shells and old coins. DJs included: Steve Froggatt (disco/house), Jon Hart (jackin house), Blehrin (minimal tech), Paul Elder (house), Martyn Day (soulful house), Duncan Peetoom (dance hall/reggae/hip hop) and Andy Parkinson (jazz/soul/rock/ pop). It was the first Record Store Day event at the store, and proved so popular it will definitely be returning next year.
David Bowie’s ‘Labyrinth’ soundtrack to be reissued on vinyl: David Bowie‘s Labyrinth movie soundtrack is set to receive a vinyl reissue. The OST was originally released on vinyl in 1986 and is now set to be repressed for a May 12 re-release, coming via UMe. The soundtrack was remastered at Capitol Studios and includes a replication of its original artwork. Directed by Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, Labyrinth was originally released in cinemas in 1986. It followed a young Jennifer Connelly as she ventures into an otherworldly maze to rescue her younger brother, who has been kidnapped by David Bowie’s fantastical creature The Goblin King.
Iggy Pop’s early solo albums featuring David Bowie reissued on vinyl: Iggy Pop’s first three solo albums including a live recording will be reissued individually on vinyl and as a bundle. His debut The Idiot and its successor Lust For Life were both recorded in collaboration with David Bowie during the pair’s stint in West Berlin in the late ’70. Inspired by Dostoyevsky’s novel of the same name, The Idiot is considered one of Iggy Pop’s best works as well as the forerunner to Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. The reissue series also includes a live album, TV Eye Live, which “features recordings from concerts at The Agora in Cleveland, Ohio on March 21 & 22, 1977; The Aragon in Chicago, Illinois on March 28, 1977 and The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri on October 26, 1977.”
Watch as Maximo Park perform intimate acoustic gig in a Teesside record store: Glastonbury, T In The Park, Reading and Leeds, Newcastle Arena, you name it, Maximo Park have played some of the biggest and best festivals and venues in the UK. But on their latest visit to their native North-east, the band played an intimate acoustic gig in a Teesside record store. Busy promoting their brand new album Risk To Exist, the Newcastle-based group yesterday stopped off at Sound It Out, in Stockton, to play a mini live set to a packed and rapt audience. Singer Paul Smith, who hails from Billingham and proudly sings in a Teesside accent, was accompanied by guitarist Duncan Lloyd and the pair performed new tracks and old favourites.
“Music has always been playing in my head. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a song playing in between my ears.”
“When I was four I was in my first show. I remember asking… begging… pretty much demanding that I take some acting classes. I went up to my parents and told them that I wanted to sing. I was in my first show and I remember being on stage and thinking, wow here I am… I’m home. Everyone always asked me if I got nervous and I always looked at them funny because I thought that was a silly question. That was like asking someone if they’re nervous when they’re in their living room watching TV… are you nervous in your safe space? What an unusual question I thought.
From that day on I was always on the stage, always performing, always memorizing lines, always learning new songs. I was always in a production from the age of 4 to the age of 18 because that’s where I wanted to be. I would walk around singing and perform shows for my parents in the kitchen. I watched endless musicals and learned every bit of music that I could. I remember when I had my Discman, the first CD that I got was Avril Lavigne’s Let Go. I was 8 years old and had just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was in the hospital for a few days and my parents bought me that CD to keep me company.
VIA PRESS RELEASE | STIV: The Life and Times Of A Dead Boy is an upcoming feature-length documentary on legendary punk icon, Stiv Bators. It will be the first film ever made about the rowdy and controversial performer, and his life will be documented through archive footage, photography, music, and all-new interviews with the people who knew him.
Stiv Bators was one of the early American punk pioneers, and is primarily known for his work with The Dead Boys and The Lords Of the New Church. Classic songs like “Sonic Reducer” and “Ain’t It Fun” continue to inspire fans and musicians from all walks of life. Acclaimed director Danny Garcia will helm the project, and already has numerous punk documentaries under his belt, such as The Rise and Fall Of The Clash, Looking For Johnny, and Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid and Nancy.
Filmed and recorded on location at the haunting and historic Lear Theater, “How Could I Have Known” is part one in a series of live music videos produced by The Sextones and Emmy award winning videographers, Ford Corl, David Ware, and Shawn Sariti of The Reno Sessions.
“It was in a rehearsal that the idea first came up—we considered it a ‘Hail Mary’ option considering no events have been held in the Lear since its doors closed 13 years ago,” stated Mark Sexton. Maybe the off-limits mystique was what made it the perfect location.
After several trips to city hall and back, the band graciously received necessary approvals from the City Of Reno and Artown. “We were so happy to have the city and arts community behind us on this very ambitious idea. It’s been stimulating to see Reno working to create a community in which artists can thrive.”