Friday, October 31, 2014

Bruce Springsteen Admits He Wrote A Song About A Book Before Reading It

Bruce Springsteen recently chatted with The New York Times about his favorite writers and what books he's been reading recently (he's promoting his children's book Outlaw Pete).

Amid a high-minded discussion of Philip Roth, Moby-Dick and Flannery O'Connor, Springsteen let slip a humanizing fact -- like the rest of us, he sometimes pretends he's read classic books he hasn't.

Specifically, Springsteen admitted he hadn't read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath until after he released his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad. So yes, the Boss titled a song/album after the protagonist of a book he had not yet read. Incidentally, Springsteen re-recorded "The Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello for his most recent album, High Hopes, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Springsteen isn't the first rocker to do this, however. Iggy Pop has long admitted his 1977 classic solo album The Idiot came out before he'd finished reading the Dostoyevsky novel. And of course, Britney Spears has a song called "Brave New Girl," and it's anyone's guess if she knows who Aldous Huxley is.

The Boss lauds Moby-Dick as "a beautiful boy’s adventure story" and describes his first brush with literature thusly: "The first book I read was The Wizard of Oz, one lazy summer on my front porch on Randolph Street in New Jersey."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Allman Brothers Band Salute Duane Allman At Final Beacon Theatre Show

When guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes announced in January that they would no longer perform with the Allman Brothers Band after this year, it wasn't clear what that meant. This iteration of the group had been together almost 15 years, longer than any other since the band's 1969 formation. Original members Gregg Allman, Jaimoe and Butch Trucks (Derek's uncle) would have to either add new members and forge on, as they had done before, or stop playing as the Allman Brothers.

For months, Butch and Allman sent mixed messages, as fans debated what could, should and would happen. In June, the end of an era finally came into view: The band announced it would play its last shows with a six-show run at New York's Beacon Theatre, the inevitable conclusion to a long-running rock opera at a venue that has become hallowed Allman Brothers ground (the band has sold out 238 shows there since 1989).

The first two nights (Oct. 21 and 22) at the Beacon were solid but unspectacular. Then, on Oct. 24, two Gibson Les Pauls that belonged to Duane Allman, the band's late leader, arrived from the Rock and Roll of Fame and animated the band, which played its best show in five years. Trucks and Haynes' playing took on more urgency, and Gregg sang with power and passion throughout the night. The burst of energy was testament to the remarkable influence Duane exerts on the act he founded, even 43 years after his death in a motorcycle accident in 1971.

The band played at close to this high level for two more nights, which left one final show on Oct. 28. Grandiose rumors circulated among fans: They would play four sets! They would play until sunrise! The hyperbole, in fact, turned out to be only a slight exaggeration. The band took the stage a little before 9 p.m. and played until about 1:30 a.m., with three full sets. Butch Trucks summoned the fire of a man five decades younger. Gregg Allman, who recently has seemed only intermittently interested onstage with this band, was fully present all night, singing as well as he has in years. The frontline of Haynes, Trucks and bassist Oteil Burbridge were perfectly locked in. The band started strong and took it even higher, turning in their finest, most intense show in decades.

As the show ticked past midnight into Oct. 29, the anniversary of Duane's death, the group brought the focus back to him, playing "Mountain Jam," one of his signature songs; "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Melissa," which were played at his funeral; and "Ain't Wasting Time No More," which Gregg wrote in response to his brother's death.

After an energetic encore of "Whipping Post," the group walked center stage arm in arm. It was stunning to see the taciturn Allman, who has gone whole Beacon runs without saying more than "thank y'all," take the mic and offer up eloquent words of reflection. When he said the band would say goodbye with the first song it ever played together, every die-hard in the theater (and there were few who did not fit that description) knew what was coming: a reinterpretation of Muddy Waters' "Trouble No More."

After the show, outside the Beacon, old friends hugged. Tears were shed. Crowds gathered at the backdoor, chanting each band member's name as he emerged into waiting vans. At last, Duane Allman's circle felt complete and unbroken.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Second Annual G4 Experience Featuring Joe Satriani Coming To California

From June 28 – July 2, 2015, musicians of all ages and levels will once again converge in California’s scenic Central Coast for the second annual G4 Experience with guitar virtuosos Joe Satriani, Tosin Abasi & Animals as Leaders, Guthrie Govan & The Aristrocrats, and Mike Keneally. 

This unique music camp that combines entertainment, education and a vacation experience will again be held at the picturesque Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria, California, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Produced by Dreamcatcher Events, the G4 Experience is an extension of Satriani’s own G3 Tour, a concert tour the guitarist founded which features Satriani alongside two other well-known guitarists.

“This year I’m happy to announce an exciting new G4 line up, with each player selected for their stunning musicianship and original approach to guitar playing,” Satriani revealed.  “Guthrie will be bringing his bandmates from The Aristocrats – Bryan Beller on bass & Marco Minnemann on drums.  Tosin will come with his Animals As Leaders featuring guitarist Javier Reyes & drummer Matt Garstka,” he enthusiastically continued, “Mike “The Wizard” Keneally returns this year bringing his unique multi-instrumental style and approach to the camp giving clinics, playing a solo show as well as being part of my band’s performances.  To round out our teaching/performing staff will be good friends and all-around awesome guitarists Doug Doppler, Bruce Bouillet, and Andy Aledort along with my friend, Stu Hamm on bass.”

The event will kick off on Sunday, June 28 featuring a meet and greet with Satriani, The Aristocrats, Animals as Leaders, Keneally and G4 Experience guests.  The rest of the experience will be filled with Master Classes led by Satriani, Animals As Leaders, The Aristocrats, as well as smaller, breakout workshops with the other G4 leaders.  In addition, during dinner each evening, there will be a featured concert with the G4 leaders followed by guests given the ability to ‘jam’ in any of the eight, fully loaded jam rooms!

Guthrie Govan, guitarist for The Aristocrats, looks on the whole event as a very special opportunity, “Every aspect of this event promises to be a lot of fun, but I must say I’m particularly looking forward to the fact that the whole Aristocrats trio will be there, working together, like when we’re writing, rehearsing or touring. That time is hugely important, but all too often gets overlooked.”

Given the huge success of last summer’s first G4 Experience, Satriani is ecstatic about launching the second event. “Last year’s successful G4 Experience in Cambria left me with great memories from each and every day. Teaching is something very close to my heart and I take it seriously. Having the chance to share what I know about music and guitar playing with like-minded players is always fun, and I find the camp environment brings out special performances from me and all the teachers.”

Brimming with pride, he continues, “The G4 format allows us to explore all kinds of things which would simply not be possible in a typical “one off” Master Class session: the tutors and students will have more time in which to “connect” so the event promises to provide a much more personalized experience for the campers.”

The intimate G4 Experience is available for a maximum of 175 attendees. The event size is limited so every guest will have the opportunity to spend time with each of the featured artists. This unique music camp is open to guitarists of all ages and levels and provides an entertaining and educational once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience.

Tickets for the G4 Experience are on sale now at Admission includes four nights lodging, meals, master classes, break-out sessions, live performances and jam sessions in 8 fully stocked jam rooms.  Every attendee will also receive a welcome kit with items from D’Addario and Planet Waves.

“I’m confident each and every G4 camper will come away inspired and armed with more useful musical knowledge than they could have attained in any other way. The camp makes learning fun and creates an atmosphere of camaraderie that can’t be matched anywhere else.” Joe Satriani’s life-long pursuit of musical perfection now extends to those he eagerly takes into his “classroom”.

As an added bonus, if you register by December 31, 2014 you’ll receive a free Pigtronix Class A Boost pedal and West Coast Pedal Board when you arrive at camp.

Featured musician/instructor Tosin Abasi elaborates on the unique experience for teachers and campers: “We are looking forward to our participation in The G4 Experience. Not only are we excited to interact with other great established musicians, but we are also excited to interact with guitar players from all walks of life. With workshops, jam sessions and a great atmosphere, this unique event is a must for anyone who loves playing guitar.”

For the G4 Experience, guests will choose from a variety of room options at Cambria Pines Lodge in scenic Cambria, CA on California’s Central Coast. Located on 25 acres of Monterey pines and landscaped gardens, Cambria Pines Lodge is within minutes of the Pacific Ocean and Hearst Castle, and is close to hundreds of wineries. Cambria is easily accessible by air via the San Luis Obispo airport and by car via the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.

More information at:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sting's Musical 'The Last Ship' Docks On Broadway

The Last Ship, a musical by Grammy-winning Sting based on his childhood in a shipbuilding town in northeastern England, landed on Broadway with a star-studded opening.

Actors Robert De Niro, Liam Neeson, Bill Pullman and Alan Cumming, along with singers Billy Joel and Debbie Harry of Blondie were on hand on Sunday night for Sting's Broadway debut as a composer at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Despite winning 16 Grammys, the former frontman of the rock group The Police admitted being nervous before the curtain went up for the show he had been working on for five years.

"I was brought up in a pretty extraordinary place in the shadow of a shipyard and it always had a kind of theatrical feel to it. And I thought - I wanted to honor the community I came from. It was about time," Sting, 63, said.

The musical charts the course of Gideon Fletcher, a shipbuilder's son who leaves his girlfriend, Meg Dawson, and his hometown of Wallsend in search of a better life. He returns 15 years later after his father's death to a town hit by recession, where the shipyard has closed and his lover has moved on.

"Rich score propels Ship," the New York Daily News said in a headline, while the New York Times called it an "ambitious, earnest musical," adding the seductive score is among the best composed by a rock or pop figure for Broadway.

The Last Ship is packed with about 20 songs ranging from sweet, melodic ballads to toe-tapping dance numbers set in the grim shipyard, a local pub and the Catholic Church.

"The varied score draws on the antique sounds of sea chanteys, and often has a heavily Celtic sound — with a little Kurt Weill thrown in for good measure," said the New York Times.

When Gideon returns the shipyard is being sold and the men of Wallsend are left without the only jobs they have ever known. At the urging of local priest the men take over the yard to build one last ship.

Michael Esper ("Frances Ha") is the adult Gideon and Collin Kelly-Sordelet, in his Broadway debut, plays his younger version.

Rachel Tucker, who appeared in Wicked in London, is the feisty Meg and Aaron Lazar (Wolf of Wall Street) is Arthur, the man vying for her heart. British actor Jimmy Nail in the stern shipyard foreman and Fred Applegate is Father O'Brien, the wise, understanding priest who won't say no to a pint and sometimes lapses into profanity.

While critics praised the cast and score, the New York Times said the book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey is unfocused and diffuse.

The New York Daily News concurred saying the two-pronged story "sometimes sinks this enterprise."

"Fortunately, when the story threatens to capsize, there's another good song by Sting to shore up the show," it added.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Music World Pays Tribute To Jack Bruce

Ringo Starr, Slash and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea have lead tributes to Jack Bruce, the Cream bassist who died this weekend aged 71.

As reported, Bruce passed away on Saturday, October 25 of liver failure. Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, Sean Lennon, Brian May, Questlove of The Roots and KISS member Paul Stanley are among those to have paid tribute.

Bruce's former bandmate Eric Clapton said: "[He was] a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me." The guitarist followed up the post with a short acoustic track titled "For Jack." You can hear the track below.

Cream drummer Ginger Baker said: "I am very sad to learn of the loss of a fine man, Jack Bruce... My thoughts & wishes are with his family at this difficult time."

Bruce, Clapton and Baker formed the hugely influential band Cream in 1966 and quickly released four albums that included the hits "I Feel Free," "Strange Brew," "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "White Room."

Cream split in November 1968 but Bruce continued to record music under his own name, releasing 14 solo albums in total. The most recent of these, Silver Rails, was released in March 2014. publisher Shawn Perry interviewed Bruce about the album and his career in May 2014. See the interview here.