Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queen Fan Pays Thousands For Brian May Guitar Lesson

Queen guitarist Brian May is to give his first ever private lesson after a fan bid over 7,500 pounds (approximately $11,000) to jam with the star in an auction to raise money for Brazilian street children.

The rock legend, best known for creating the riffs on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You,” will deliver a two-hour tutorial at his home following the auction in London, which raised over 30,000 pounds.

Along with bidding for the lesson, nine guitars that were custom-designed by leading street artists in Brazil and Britain were auctioned in aid of the Action for Brazil's Children (ABC) charity, of which May and fellow axe-man Jimmy Page are both patrons.

“I have been a patron of the ABC Trust for a number of years,” the rocker told the charity's website. “The work they do with children and young people who are forced to live or work on the streets of Brazil makes a real difference.”

A further three guitars are currently being auctioned online to raise several more thousand for community projects to help Sao Paulo's most needy children.

Bob Dylan On Track For Fifth Career No. 1 Album

Bob Dylan is headed for his fifth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week as his Together Through Life looks like a shoo-in for a debut atop the list. Industry prognosticators suggest the Columbia set will sell over 100,000 copies in its first week of release.

Dylan's last studio effort, 2006's Modern Times, also bowed at No. 1, shifting 192,000 in its premiere week. His first No. 1 came in 1974 with Planet Waves, which he followed swiftly with two more chart-toppers -- 1975's Blood On The Tracks and 1976's Desire.

Together Through Life also leads the Nielsen SoundScan Building chart that was released on April 29, which reflected unweighted sales through the close of business on Tuesday, April 28.

Billboard estimates the seven merchants who report to Nielsen SoundScan's Building chart -- Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, iTunes, Starbucks, Borders, Target and Anderson Merchandisers -- comprise about 60% of all U.S. album sales.

The second-highest debut on next week's Billboard 200 looks like it will come in the form of the rock super group Heaven & Hell with The Devil You Know. The Rhino effort, which boasts four current and former members of Black Sabbath, may debut in the top 15.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nektar Celebrates 40th Anniversary With New Live CD

London, UK - The progressive music community is buzzing with the release of a new live double CD by prog rock legends Nektar called Fortyfied. Celebrating their 40th Anniversary, Nektar's contribution over the past 40 years has quite rightly earned them their place in any Progressive Rock Hall of Fame.

But the band is much more than a 'Prog Legend', the Nektar brand of innovative composition, performance and visuals is simply unique. Recorded on their 2008 tour of Europe, Fortyfied is on the band's own label Treaclemusic and features many beloved Nektar classics such as "Tab In The Ocean," "Recycled Pt.1," "Man In The Moon" and part two of the group's classic, "Remember The Future."

The Nektar story is a remarkable one. A British rock band that found stardom and major success in Germany and the USA, yet failed to make the significant breakthrough in their own country. With three gold albums under their belt (Remember The Future, Down To Earth and Recycled), Nektar produced some of the most original work of the 70s and 80s.

In guitarist Roye Albrighton, Nektar had a charismatic front man who had shared a stage with Jimi Hendrix, in Allan "Taff" Freeman a unique keyboard player, in Derek "Mo" Moore a bass playing powerhouse and in Ron Howden a fluidity rarely found in a drummer. Fifth member Mick Brockett was not a musician, but was responsible for one of the most stunning light and visual shows ever to grace the rock stage.

Nektar's history appeared to have been written when they finally split in the 80s. Despite attempts to re-kindle the flame, the Nektar light, it seemed was out...until the year 2000. The new millenium saw the long awaited reunion tour of the classic line-up, to rave reviews and fantastic receptions. The light we thought was out, had in fact been kept aglow by loyal fans across the globe!

"It's pretty timeless music," says Roye Albrighton, "and what I'm hearing from most of the new, younger fans that are now coming to our shows, is that it's like going back in time. They are starting to really discover music again, which, of course, is a great relief to us and some of the older bands from our time."

An American tour in September 2004 saw Taff Freeman depart the band for personal reasons and his successor, Hammond virtuoso Tom Hughes, instantly earning a place in the hearts of the Nektar faithful. With continued concert dates, along with the remastering of the remainder of the Nektar back catalog on CD, this legendary band has become once more a proud force to be reckoned with in the world of progressive music.

In 2007, Nektar took over their own management, procured their official website as their own, entirely under their control and went on a 22-date tour of Germany. Joining Roye and Ron was Peter Pichl on 5-string bass and Klaus Henatsch on keyboards, these two new members from the rock 'n roll city of Hanover, Germany, seemed to gel from the outset and now, along with the release of the critically acclaimed CD Book Of Days in 2008 and the new live CD Fortyfied, Nektar looks set to make its mark once again.

Much to the elation of US Nektar fans, the band is scheduled to play three special engagements in America:

05/01 (Friday) - Philadelphia, PA - Keswick Theater
05/02 (Saturday) - Springfield, VA - Jaxx
05/03 (Sunday) - Rosfest (end of Rosfest special acoustic/electric show)
05/04 (Monday) - New York, NY - Concert Hall NYC

For information on how to purchase Fortyfied, visit Nektar's official website at http://www.nektarsmusic.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews To Headline Austin City Limits Fest

Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and the Beastie Boys will make their Austin City Limits Music Festival debuts as headliners of the eight edition of the event in Austin's Zilker Park on Oct. 2-4. Kings of Leon, Ben Harper and Relentless7, Thievery Corporation, John Legend, the Dead Weather, and the Levon Helm Band and hometown favorites Ghostland Observatory are among the 130 bands and musicians who will play the annual festival.

Sonic Youth, Mos Def, Toadies, Flogging Molly, the B-52s, Lily Allen, Citizen Cope, Arctic Monkeys, the Decemberists, Coheed and Cambria, Andrew Bird, Girl Talk, Phoenix, Poi Dog Pondering and Los Amigos Invisibles and dozens of other pop, rock, country, hip hop, blues, reggae and indie rock acts that will fill eight stages for three days on the vast Zilker Park lawn.

Three days festival passes are available for the regular price of $185 (with no service fees), as well as VIP packages, at www.aclfestival.com.

Pearl Jam have long been courted by festival producers C3 Presents for the Austin event, especially after the promoters convinced the band to play the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in 2007, its first large festival show in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Pearl Jam is also planning to tape an appearance on the Austin City Limits television show, the beloved public television series that is the festival's inspiration.

Last year ACL was the fifth highest-grossing festival reported to Billboard Boxscore at $11.8 million, with an aggregate attendance of 218,000.

The full 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup is:

Pearl Jam
Dave Matthews Band
Beastie Boys
Kings of Leon
Ben Harper and Relentless7
Thievery Corporation
John Legend
The Dead Weather
The Levon Helm Band
Ghostland Observatory
Sonic Youth
Mos Def
Toadies
Flogging Molly
The B-52s
Lily Allen
Citizen Cope
Arctic Monkeys
The Decemberists
Coheed and Cambria
Andrew Bird
Girl Talk
STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9)
Phoenix
Bassnectar
Bon Iver
!!!
The Avett Brothers
The Airborne Toxic Event
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Clutch
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Grizzly Bear
Heartless Bastards
Passion Pit
White Lies
Dan Auerbach
The Walkmen
The Scabs
Reckless Kelly
Devotchka
Blitzen Trapper
The Virgins
Here We Go Magic
Eek-A-Mouse
K' Naan
Asleep at the Wheel
Dr. Dog
The Raveonettes
The Knux
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
State Radio
Los Amigos Invisibles
The Felice Brothers
Federico Aubele
Raul Malo
Daniel Johnston
Poi Dog Pondering
Brett Dennen
Rodriguez
Henry Butler
Preservation Hall
Sam Roberts Band
The Greencards
Sara Watkins
Walter "Wolfman" Washington
David Garza
John Vanderslice
Zac Brown Band
Todd Snider
School of Seven Bells
The Dodos
Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3
Alberta Cross
Deer Tick
Bell X1
Alela Diane
The Wood Brothers
The Parlor Mob
Rebirth Brass Band
Marva Wright
Terri Hendrix
L.A.X.
Lisa Hannigan
The Low Anthem
Sons of Bill
Suckers
Sarah Jaffe
Cotton Jones
The Henry Clay People
Papa Mali
Jypsi
Vince Mira
Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights
Mimicking Birds
Jeffrey Steele
Jonell Mosser
Leatherbag
Keith Gattis
Damien Horne
Sarah Siskind
Dexateens
Nelo
Danny Brooks
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
The Soul Stirrers
The Durdens
Palm School Elementary
The Gospel Silvertones
Diaconos
Quinn Sullivan
Ralph's World
Q Brothers
Milkshake
Telephone Company
Loose Cannons
Lunch Money

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wilson Sisters In Harmony On Next Heart Album

Rock 'n' roll sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have been making music together for more than 30 years, but they have rarely shared the vocal spotlight.

Ann did most of the singing, while guitarist Nancy occasionally contributed backing vocals. The formula served them well, producing such classic-rock chestnuts as "Barracuda" and "Crazy on You."

But things will be a little different for the group's next album, on which they are currently working. Nancy will take a greater share of the vocal duties as the sisters experiment more with harmonies.

"It's just a way of reinventing, and having more fun, and taking some of the pressure off of Ann as a singer," her younger sister said in a recent interview.

"As you probably can imagine, her voice is really a gift from above. It's an instrument like few others. To couch a vocal style together more would be something fresh and new and more fun. Harmony singing is my favorite thing to do in music!"

Wilson described her vocal style as "more limited," although she has sung lead on a handful of tunes including the 1985 chart-topping power ballad "These Dreams." The sisters also notably traded off each other on their cover of Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore."

"I love singing, and whenever I can sing some more vocal leads I always covet the chance. But it's always got to be the perfect fit for a voice like mine," she said.

The Wilsons are taking their time with the album, but hope it will come out in the summer of 2010. The last Heart album, "Jupiters Darling," was released independently in 2004 after the band ended a lengthy stint at Capitol, and quickly disappeared from rock music.

"There was no clout and there was no real thrust behind it (the record) after we'd worked so hard," Wilson said. "We're just really looking skeptically at all the (label) options right now."

So far, they have recorded about eight songs, and will return to the studio in a few weeks with producer Ben Mink, who is best known as k.d. lang's collaborator.

Wilson described the songs so far as "very personal, very honest, vital ... not always super-serious either. But quite romantic. Leaning toward poetic as hard as we can!"

Perhaps like many other musicians, it's hard for the Wilsons to escape the nagging feeling that all the hard work in the studio might be for naught given that few people seem to buy albums anymore. In moments of self-doubt, Wilson has to remind herself of the therapeutic benefits of music.

"I've been through a lot of heartache in my day, and you turn to music to prop yourself up. It's a healing thing, and it's a powerful, powerful, beautiful thing. I like my job. I'll work my butt off to do something well."

To that end, the Wilsons and their four-person band maintain a vigorous touring schedule. A co-headlining tour with Journey is scheduled to begin in July.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dylan To Embark on All-Star Ballpark Tour

Bob Dylan has just announced an ambitious line-up for this year’s summer concert tour. Along with fellow troubadour Willie Nelson, this summer The Bob Dylan Show will also feature John Mellencamp, marking just the second time in the past 24 years that these three performers have shared the concert stage.

Since first embarking on a tour of minor league baseball parks in 2004, over a half-million fans have come together to spend a night under the stars. With free admittance for children*, these tours draw a multi-generational fan base rarely seen on the concert circuit, causing one reporter to describe it as, “more like a backyard party than a rock concert.” The Boston Globe ranked the tour amongst “the most relaxed, enjoyable shows of the year. “You Can’t Beat Fun At The Old Ballpark,” came a headline from the Chicago Sun Times.

As a recording artist, Dylan continues to hit the long ball. After debuting at #1 with his last record, Modern Times, Dylan is about to release a brand new studio album on April 28 through Columbia Records. Entitled Together Through Life, it has already received 4-star reviews from MOJO, The London Telegraph and the New York Times.

Veteran Music Acts Thriving At Big Box Stores

NEW YORK — Over the last few decades, a veteran music act’s best shot at platinum magic usually consisted of pairing up with younger hitmakers (√† la Santana and Michelle Branch) or covering treasured classics (like Rod Stewart). These days, another kind of vehicle has become a path to best-selling success — teaming up with box store chains.

Garth Brooks started the trend in earnest back in 2005, with an exclusive Wal-Mart deal, and the Eagles and AC/DC had multiplatinum-plus success over the last two years by exclusively selling new CDs at Wal-Mart.

Guns ’N Roses sold about a million copies with a special Best Buy deal. And last week, Prince entered the box-store chain market with a Target deal, selling a three-disc set for the low price of $11.98, mirroring a similar (and successful) venture Journey did with Wal-Mart in 2007.

Though these deals only represent a fraction of music releases, their impact has been seismic for a struggling industry still figuring out the best way to sell albums amid ever-dwindling sales and profits.

“It’s going to be the only way to put records out,” said Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who said he’d be interested in making a similar deal for his band. “Look what AC/DC just achieved — it’s phenomenal what they did, and if there is a blueprint to keep your eye on, it would be the way that Journey’s album and the Eagles and AC/DC has done.”

Veteran acts have defined box-store exclusives; younger acts — and genres outside of rock and country — have largely been absent from the scene.

Stars like John Legend and Christina Aguilera have made special CDs for Target, and Beyonc√© gave Wal-Mart the three-month exclusive on her B’Day video DVD, but those projects were largely CDs with previously released material — not a brand new album for exclusive content.

Greg Hall, Wal-Mart’s vice president for merchandising in entertainment, said the chain isn’t opposed to working with newer acts or projects that are geared toward the youth — in fact, they just had the DVD exclusive for the movie Twilight.

But such projects have to fit with the most important demographic for Wal-Mart — its consumer base. Hall said the first question asked is, “Where is there a fit with our brand, the Wal-Mart brand, and our customer?”

Given Wal-Mart’s standards on profanity (it sells cleaned-up versions of graphic CDs) and its family-friendly image, it’s hard to imagine the chain linking with, say, Lil Wayne for his next CD.

Plus, acts like Lil Wayne and the ever-wholesome Taylor Swift get played regularly on the radio and can sell millions without confining their music to one retail outlet. Veteran acts usually see only their catalog played on the radio, on oldies stations.

“The artist that you see having success are those who have a huge a fan base but face challenges at commercial radio,” said Michael McDonald, who manages acts including John Mayer and Ray LaMontagne. “Exposure at the mass merchants, if not a substitute, is certainly the next best thing.”

A 2007 survey by the Recording Industry Association of America shows people over 45 made up the largest demographic of people buying music, at about 25 percent — just the kind of baby boomer fans that would be attracted to a release from, say, Prince or the Eagles.

Dolly Parton, who recently released an exclusive edition of her CD Backwoods Barbie with three additional tracks at the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, said it’s often harder for older artists to get the kind of attention they need, so store chain deals are more appealing.

“These types of deals, it is better for veteran artists,” she said. “We’ve made our mark and we have our names but we’re older artists.”

McDonald said that with the shuttering of more and more music stores, exclusive content deals at big box outlets will likely become more widespread, bringing artists of different ages and genres into the mix.

“Those who are going to continue with business as usual,” he said, “are going to find themselves in trouble.”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Elton John Ends Las Vegas Run

The Rocket Man bid farewell to the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday, April 22, after five years and 241 shows at Caesars Palace — but said it won't necessarily be a long, long time before he returns.

Wearing a bright red shirt that matched his piano and a coat emblazoned with "Las Vegas Pirates" on its back and "Captain Elton" on its right sleeve, Elton John rolled through his hits and reflected on his time at the Colosseum, a stage he famously shared with Celine Dion, Bette Midler and Cher.

"The ex-home of Celine Dion ... and now it's the ex-home of Elton John as well," the 62-year-old said. John said later in the show that he'd like to see Dion play the venue again.

"Who are you going to get to fill in our shoes now?" he said. "You've got Bette Midler, you've got Cher. It's gonna be the Village People next."

John initially signed on for 75 shows over three years when his run began in February 2004, but casino officials say the deal was expanded because of demand.

"I really have enjoyed every single moment of this engagement," the five-time Grammy winner said after opening the show with "Bennie and the Jets."

John's tour with Billy Joel has the second-highest average gross box office revenue with a ticket price of $115.84, according to Pollstar, the concert industry trade publication. Each show averages a gross $2.2 million, behind only Britney Spears, Pollstar said.

Many audience members seated close to the stage Wednesday night gave the pop singer a standing ovation after each hit he played, including "Candle in the Wind," "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer."

Several of the songs were combined with complex video productions created by famed photographer and director David LaChapelle. The offbeat music videos included appearances by singer Justin Timberlake, actress Pamela Anderson and actor Paul Reubens.

"One day I might even see you in Vegas, OK? But until then, I love you," John said before ending the show with "Your Song" and kissing an audience member's hand as he exited the stage.

"I hope you don't mind that I put down in words," he sang. "How wonderful life is while you're in the world."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Billy Joel Auctions Piano For Music Charity

A baby grand piano autographed by the Piano Man himself is being auctioned off to raise money for music students in New York City, according to an Associated Press report.

According to the news service, the $60,000 Steinway is being sold for a program at Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem. Singer-songwriter Billy Joel will autograph it above the keyboard for the winning bidder.

The Mount Carmel program is run by Ten O’Clock Classics, a nonprofit group on whose board Joel serves. The group funnels deserving students into the Music Advancement Program at New York’s famed Juilliard School at Lincoln Center. Auction proceeds will provide music theory classes, ear training and possibly individual lessons for the students.

Bidding goes on until May 6 at http://www.charitybuzz.com.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heart, Jeff Lynne To Be Honored By Music Biz In Hollywood

Ann and Nancy Wilson, the frontwomen of veteran Seattle rock group Heart, and British musician/producer Jeff Lynne will share the secrets of their success during panel sessions at a music industry convention in Hollywood. They are the top-billed attractions at the fourth annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, which runs April 23-25 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Other panels will feature such heavy-hitters as Chaka Khan, Natasha Bedingfield, Wyclef Jean and songwriter Billy Steinberg.

The Wilson sisters will also receive the Founders Awards during ASCAP’s 26th annual Pop Awards dinner at the venue on Wednesday. The black-tie dinner honors the writers and publishers of the year’s most-played compositions represented by ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).

“Being honored as songwriters is really important to us,” Nancy Wilson said. “We usually get passed over on a lot of lists … I’m not sure why. When you consider all the incredible songs that have been written, you never feel worthy enough as a writer. Being a fan of great writing, you’re always, 'Oh my god, but I’m not Bob Dylan!' If we do some little version of spirit-lifting for people with our songs then we’ve done a good job.”

Heart — with Nancy on guitar and Ann on vocals — broke through in the 1970s with such eventual classic-rock staples as “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man.” They enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s with ballads from outside writers, such as “These Dreams” and “What About Love?” These days Heart are reaching a younger demographic thanks to Guitar Hero and “American Idol”.

“We still get compensated for the work,” Wilson said. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving if songs keep on rolling. The catalog of course has done pretty well overall, which is kinda surprising in the climate of today’s nonmusic business.”

In between lucrative casino gigs and co-headlining tours with Journey, Heart are slowly recording a new album, the follow-up to 2004’s “Jupiter’s Landing,” and hope to release it in the summer of 2010.

Lynne, the bearded Svengali famed for leading the art-rock band Electric Light Orchestra, is also working on a solo album, which he hopes to release later this year. It would be the follow-up to his first solo outing, 1990’s “Armchair Theatre.”

ASCAP will present him with a lifetime achievement award before he discusses his career.

He jokingly said that his pearls of wisdom might include such nuggets as “just do what I do” and “get a good lawyer.”

“You’ve just gotta love it,” he said in a more serious vein. “You can’t really do it unless you love it to bits, and you’d rather be doing it than anything else. I’m still getting thrilled with music even after 40 years of doing it professionally.”

As with Heart, Electric Light Orchestra is experiencing a bit of a resurgence among younger fans, Lynne said. He has just finished producing five tracks at his home studio with singer/songwriter Regina Spektor, and plans to work on some songs with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

New Heaven & Hell Album Available For Streaming

The Devil You Know, the debut album from Heaven & Hell — the band featuring Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi (guitar), Ronnie James Dio (vocals), Geezer Butler (bass) and Vinny Appice (drums) — is available for streaming in its entirety on VH1.com's The Leak.

Black Sabbath fan site Black-Sabbath.com has revealed the details of several "exclusive" physical and digital retail versions of The Devil In You, which is scheduled to arrive in North America on April 28 from Rhino. The effort will also be released as double vinyl LP featuring a laser etched design and exclusive poster on May 12.

The details are as follows:

Best Buy will offer an exclusive version featuring a DVD with unreleased video of the band recording the album including studio performances, interviews, and other behind-the-scenes content.

Wal-Mart will offer an exclusive alternate cover (see image below) that prominently features the traditional Balck Sabbath devil logo. When finalizing the cover, the band narrowed it down to their two favorites but had a difficult time making a final decision. Now the alternate cover will also be available as a Wal-Mart exclusive.

iTunes will offer an exclusive version with previously unreleased live recordings of "Die Young" and "I" from the band's 2007 European tour.

Select independent retail stores will offer exclusive Heaven & Hell T-shirts and/or copies of the album signed by the entire band, while supplies last. See below for a list of all participating stores and contact them directly for more details.

Participating independent retail stores:

* Cactus Music - Houston, TX
* The Exchange - Cleveland, OH
* Independent Records - Denver, CO
* Looney Tunes - Long Island, NY
* Newbury Comics - 28 total stores in Boston, MA area
* Record Theatre - Buffalo, NY
* Record & Tape Traders - Washington D.C.
* Rolling Stone - Chicago, IL
* Silver Platters - Seattle, WA
* The Omega Order - online only
* Vintage Vinyl - Fords, NJ
* Zias - Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ & Las Vegas, NV

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Record Store Day Celebrates Indie Retailers

Despite the success of online retailers, explosion of Internet downloads and high-profile closings of Virgin Megastores and Tower Records stores, bricks-and-mortar record stores aren’t all spinning toward oblivion.

Although hundreds of independent music retailers have gone out of business in recent years, about 2,000 are still around, and many are thriving. The survivors will celebrate Saturday, as acts such as Erykah Badu and Franz Ferdinand gather to pay homage to the hometown record store.

Record Store Day was the idea of Chris Brown, a long-haired, goateed music guru from Bull Moose, a chain of 10 record stores in Maine and New Hampshire. “I wanted to have a fun kind of party event at Bull Moose where we could thank our customers and just have a fun time,” he said. “I realized that it would be a much better party if we got the other stores involved, just make it a national thing.”

Now in its second year, Record Store Day is being celebrated at more than 1,000 independent record stores in the U.S. and in 17 countries. Artists like Disturbed and Ani DiFranco — both appearing at Bull Moose — are paying tribute with in-store appearances. Others like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Modest Mouse and the Decemberists are offering special-edition vinyl releases.

For retailers, it’s very different from the days when kids rushed to the store to thumb through the 45-rpm records. These days, more compact discs are sold despite a resurgence in vinyl. Record stores also have branched out into video games, movies and other merchandise.

Some like the Waterloo in Austin, Texas, Twist and Shout in Denver, and Amoeba in San Francisco are cultural hubs in their communities. “Music is clearly the centerpiece. It’s at the emotional heart of these businesses, but economically they’ve diversified,” said Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, which is sponsoring Record Store Day.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the mom-and-pop stores. About 1,000 indie music retailers have gone out of business since 2003, said Joel Oberstein, president of Almighty Institute of Music Retail, a market research firm based in Studio City, Calif.

But 2,000 independent record stores have survived, and the store closings have leveled off over the past year, Oberstein said. Indies cling to a small market share. All told, there are 10,000 online retailers, mass merchandisers, national chains and other retailers, in addition to the hometown record stores. Donio estimated that independent stores account for less than 10 percent of overall music sales in the U.S.

Looking to thank customers and promote local stores, Brown tossed out his idea for Record Store Day in 2007 at a conference of indie music retailers in Baltimore. A year later, heavy-metal band Metallica officially kicked off the first Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco.

Brown is vice president of Bull Moose, a seemingly incongruous corporate title that is nevertheless typical of indie stores that have adapted to marketplace changes. In fact, Bull Moose is coming off a record year and strong first quarter despite the recession, he said.

Its stores feature a variety of compact discs from jazz to metal to rap to world music, but also DVDs and Blu-ray discs, video games and video game systems, vinyl albums, T-shirts, baseball caps and more. There are also used DVDs, CDs and vinyl.

Julian Butler of Standish, who was shopping this week at Bull Moose’s Portland store, said he used to download his music and movies — illegally and free of charge — before getting a cease-and-desist letter from his Internet service provider.

These days, he said he prefers the sound of compact discs to the compressed MP3 files, and he likes the social interaction he gets in the store. “Mostly the sound quality is a lot better on CD and you’re supporting the actual makers of the music,” Butler said of his decision to give up illegal downloads. “Plus you get to come here and meet some people instead of sitting in front of your computer.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen Kick Off Coachella

The 10th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival got off to a fab start Friday, April 17, thanks to Sir Paul McCartney, who headlined the event with a marathon performance worthy of his long and lauded musical legacy. Proving himself the ultimate showman, Macca played a thrilling 2 hour 45 minute set that included a healthy collection of Beatles, Wings and solo material that kept the crowd of young and old singing along well past Coachella's midnight curfew.

Kicking off with the Wings classic "Jet," the 66-year old McCartney made the most of Coachella's new main-stage soundsystem (its first in six years), and delivered hit after hit to the audience packed onto the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California. Contrary to rumors circulating throughout the day, McCartney's set featured no appearances by Ringo Starr nor George Harrison's son Dhani, but Macca, dressed in a crisp white shirt and black suspenders, didn't disappoint Beatles die-hards, as he included anthems like "Drive My Car," "Blackbird," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Eleanor Rigby," "Let It Be," "I Got a Feeling" and "Hey Jude" into his 30-song, three-encore set.

Amidst the musical celebration, McCartney took time to poignantly tip his hat to his late collaborators. Macca plucked a ukulele and dedicated a moving rendition of "Something" to Harrison, while John Lennon was honored with a stirring medley of "A Day in the Life" and "Give Peace a Chance." Still, the most touching moment came when McCartney remarked that he was performing on the 11th anniversary of the death of his first wife, Linda. "She loved the desert, she loved music, she loved rock 'n' roll," he said. "She loved it all."

Paul McCartney wasn't the only elder statesman who took the Coachella crowd on a trip down memory lane. 74-year-old Leonard Cohen continued his comeback tour and dazzled the audience on the side stage with an elegant and haunting sunset performance. His set, which climaxed with a stirring rendition of "Hallelujah," hung ominously in the desert air until 50-year-old Morrissey interrupted the calm on the main stage with a thunderous, career-spanning collection of tunes that included Smiths classics like "This Charming Man," "Girl in a Coma" and a surprising rendition of "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others."

While the seasoned performers got top billing, there were still plenty of exciting new sounds for sun-scorched ears to soak up throughout the day. Los Angeles quartet Silversun Pickups closed out Coachella's side stage with a raucous set of grungy rock 'n' roll that thrilled their antsy, energetic crowd. Canadian noise terrorists Crystal Castles devastated their audience with a raw, fist-pumping set of vicious tencho punk in the Sahara dance tent. And breakbeat duo the Crystal Method made a triumphant return to the Coachella with a powerful closing performance in the dance tent that erupted into a full-on rave. Standout appearances by favored indie-rock and dance artists M. Ward, White Lies, Ting Tings, Airborne Toxic Event, Beirut, Girl Talk, Franz Ferdinand and Conor Oberest also gave the massive crowd reason to celebrate under the desert skies.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yes Team With Asia For Super-Prog Summer Tour

The proggiest tour of all time, Yes with special guests Asia, is hitting the road this summer. For prog fans the enormous implications of this tour are quite clear. For others, imagine Wings opening up for the Beatles or the Justice League taking up music and hitting the road. It’s that big. Steve Howe, who plays guitar in both groups, will be doing double duty during the show. Also onstage will be members of King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer, the Buggles, two others members of Yes, the son of former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman and the lead singer of a Yes cover band.

As ludicrous as all this sounds, think back to the winter of 1983. Asia’s debut single “The Heat of The Moment” had been all over the radio for a year, and Yes had just reformed and released “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” Meanwhile, Genesis and Rush had been scoring massive hits with songs about 1/3 the length of their 1970s work. Prog had gone pop and the American public couldn’t have loved it more. Needless to say, the bands not led by Phil Collins soon found it impossible to land songs on the radio and the whole thing fizzled. The intensely loyal prog audience (particularly in the case of Rush) has allowed these bands to tour ever since — but to the best of my knowledge a supergroup has never opened up for the group it spawned from. It’s practically a prog paradox. Tour dates below:

June 26 - Indio, CA @ Fantasy Springs Casino
June 27 - Las Vegas, NV @ Thomas & Mack Center
June 30 - Snoqualmie, WA @ Snoqualmie Casino
July 2 - San Francisco, CA @ Warfield
July 3 - Saratoga, CA @ The Mountain Winery
July 7 - Los Angeles @ Gibson Amphitheatre at City Walk
July 8 - San Diego @ Humphrey’s
July 9 - Phoenix @ Dodge
July 12 - Denver @ Paramount Theatre
July 14 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
July 15 - Ft. Worth, TX @ Bass Music Center
July 16 - Muskegee, OK @ Civic Center
July 18 - Walker, MN @ Moondance Jam
July 20 - Detroit @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 21 - Pittsburgh @ Chevrolet Amphitheatre
July 22 - Glen Allen, VA @ Insbrook Pavilion
July 23 - National Harbour, MD @ Sunset Concerts
July 25 - Cohassett, MA @ South Shore Music Circus
July 26 - Jackson, NJ @ Great Adventure Amphitheatre
July 28 - Philadelphia @ Tower Theatre
July 29 - Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
July 31 - Westbury, NY @ Theatre at Westbury
Aug. 1 - Jamestown, NY @ Savings Bank Arena
Aug. 2 - Bethlehem, PA @ Muskfest

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

YouTube, Universal Announce New Music Site

Since MTV started in 1981 with “Video Killed the Radio Star,” record labels have treated videos as a marketing expense. Now, with album sales plummeting, music companies aim to make them a source of profit.

That’s the goal of Universal Music Group’s venture with Google Inc.’s YouTube. Vevo.com, a new site announced last week, will stream videos from artists such as U2, Beck and the Rolling Stones. YouTube will then split advertising revenue with Universal, the world’s largest music company.

The agreement is a sign of progress in the record industry’s efforts to make money from YouTube, the biggest online video service. Internet ads could help the labels rebound from a 45 percent plunge in U.S. album sales since 2000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Working with YouTube also may let the industry rein in the wild-west nature of online music.

“As an industry or a company, we have to figure out how to derive some sort of revenue from the consumption of music, whether or not people buy it,” said Rio Caraeff, executive vice president of Universal Music’s ELabs, which handles its e- commerce strategy.

Over dinner earlier this year in Paris, U2 singer Bono urged Universal Music Chairman Doug Morris to get in touch with Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt about working together, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

The revenue-sharing plan is a shift from the 1980s and 1990s, when videos from artists such as Bon Jovi, Madonna and ‘N Sync were given free to MTV for marketing purposes. With album sales falling, music stores closing and MTV moving to a reality-television format, videos need to start paying for themselves.

New York-based Universal, owned by France’s Vivendi SA, says its videos have been watched on YouTube more than 3.6 billion times.

“The video used to be just a cost center,” Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of Vivendi, said in an interview last month. “We used to do lots of great artistic videos that we gave away to MTV and other people for free. We didn’t get paid. Now it’s becoming a profit center.”

Universal and Google executives are asking the other major record labels to join their partnership. That includes Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group Ltd. and Warner Music Group Corp.

Jeanne Meyer, a spokeswoman for EMI, said talks with YouTube are at a “very early stage.” Warner Music’s Will Tanous declined to comment on the discussions. Claire von Schilling, a Sony spokeswoman, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

YouTube also needs new ways to make money. The business will lose $470 million in 2009, according to Credit Suisse estimates. A deal with Universal could be a model for agreements with other content providers, allowing the Web site to charge premium ad rates for professionally made clips.

“We have high hopes we’re creating a sustainable, profitable business model,” David Eun, vice president of strategic partnerships at Mountain View, California-based Google, said on a conference call last week.

YouTube, famous for the low-budget videos posted by its users, is trying to add more premium content. Of the top 100 most-viewed video producers on YouTube, 39 are from musicians and labels, according to David Burch, a marketing manager with the video-tracking firm TubeMogul Inc. in Emeryville, California.

Still, Google’s deal with Universal doesn’t resolve YouTube’s problems with other content providers. Warner Music Group, the first label to strike a deal with YouTube in 2006, pulled its videos in December when a new licensing agreement couldn’t be reached.

Disputes with artists in the U.K. and Germany forced clips in those countries to be pulled. Viacom Inc., controlled by Sumner Redstone, is suing Google for allegedly not removing copyrighted material from YouTube.

“Historically, every new medium has required that this kind of battle happen,” said Aram Sinnreich, an analyst with Los Angeles-based Radar Research.

The negotiations are complicated by the lessons of MTV. As CD sales fell, it became apparent that the decision to allow videos to air on the cable channel without payment was a mistake, said Steve Gordon, a New York attorney. The author of “The Future of the Music Business,” Gordon specializes in music licensing.

Record labels also have viewed radio as a marketing expense -- something that may be changing. Universal Music, Sony and Warner are lobbying lawmakers in Washington to make radio stations pay royalties for playing their songs. The effort could cost broadcasters an estimated $2 billion or more.

“They learned something from the MTV experience, but perhaps they learned it too well,” Gordon said in an interview. “Instead of giving something away for free, now they are charging too much.”

Vevo will try to attract advertising dollars by creating a one-stop portal for videos. In addition to videos, users will be able to purchase digital tracks and merchandise. The site could eventually be expanded to add other interactive features, such as games like “Guitar Hero,” made by Vivendi’s Activision Blizzard Inc., said Universal’s Caraeff.

Vevo follows an online project by television companies called Hulu.com, which distributes NBC and Fox shows for free. Vevo’s success will depend on whether the other major labels take a stake in the site, creating a true clearinghouse for online music, Sinnreich said.

“It needs to have content from other providers,” he said. “If Universal and Google are willing to share equity, I don’t see why other major labels wouldn’t want to consider coming on board.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Phil Spector Convicted of Second-Degree Murder

Music producer Phil Spector has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. Jurors also found Spector personally used the firearm while committing the crime at his Alhambra mansion. Sentencing has been set for May 29.

The judge denied bail and Spector was taken into custody after the verdict was announced. Deputies led Spector from the courtroom. Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison.

Spector and his wife entered the courtroom at about 2 p.m., and the verdict was read at about 15 minutes later. His son and daughter were seated next to him at the counsel's table.

Spector's wife, Rachelle, cried as the decision was announced. Members of the Clarkson family, including her mother and sister, also were in the courtroom.

As of Monday morning, the jury had spent about 30 hours discussing the case over eight days since March 26. Spector, 69, was charged with murder in the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting death of the 40-year-old actress and House of Blues VIP hostess at his mansion in Alhambra. He claims she shot herself with his gun.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told jurors that they could consider convicting Spector of involuntary manslaughter instead of second-degree murder. The option of involuntary manslaughter was not given in Spector's first trial. That jury deadlocked 10-2 on the second-degree murder charge in September 2007, with the majority voting in favor of convicting him.

Spector, renowned in music circles for the "Wall of Sound" technique he invented in the 1960s and used in his work with the Beatles and other groups, is free on $1 million bail posted shortly after his arrest.

Clarkson, who was best known for her starring role in the 1985 Roger Corman cult hit "Barbarian Queen," had bit parts on dozens of television shows and in a few well-known movies, such as 1982's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Pearl Jam Album, Film, Tour In The Works

Pearl Jam will play live dates in the U.S. later this year, including the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco Aug. 28-30, Billboard has confirmed. The band has also completed 14 songs for a new album and is working on a film with director Cameron Crowe, guitarist Mike McCready said in a recent radio interview.

McCready told Seattle's "Ron & Don Show" that the band is about halfway finished with its next album, which is being recorded in California with producer Brendan O'Brien. McCready said the band is expecting to have the album out before the end of this year. As previously reported, the band will self-release the album, its ninth.

As for touring, the band is doing a "little thing in the States," and is looking to play South America in 2010, McCready said.

Pearl Jam is widely expected to be one of the headliners of this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The promoters, C3 Presents, declined to comment about the lineup, but the Austin Chronicle is calling it "the worst-kept secret since Metallica’s SXSW showcase." Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys and Kings of Leon are also expected to be announced as headliners on April 28. Early bird passes for Austin City Limits are on sale at www.aclfestival.com.

Pearl Jam is also planning to tape an appearance on the Austin City Limits television show, producer Terry Lickona said in March.

Pearl Jam have long been courted by C3 Presents for the Austin festival, especially after the promoters convinced the band to play Lollapalooza in 2007, its first large festival show in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Pearl Jam played Bonnaroo in 2008.

"We're building up to our big 20th anniversary in 2011," McCready said. "We're trying to have a little campaign of building rereleases with new mixes and new outtakes up until that time. We're trying to do a movie with Cameron Crowe with all of our existing footage."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gary Wright Returns With Two Digital Releases

Gary Wright enters his fourth decade of musical pioneering with two new releases – the ambient music collection Waiting to Catch the Light, and an EP called The Light of a Million Suns which, with multidimensional experiences in instrumentation and production, recall his enduring 1975 hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive.”

Always pushing boundaries and exploring new soundscapes, Gary recorded Waiting to Catch the Light using rare vintage analog synthesizers in his desire to create the warm textures for the listener. “I wanted to record an album that would induce an experience of calmness and get people into a meditative state,” said Gary, whose dedication to spiritual creativity began in the ‘70s when he first visited India with George Harrison as a guest of Ravi Shankar. He ventured into world music in the ‘80s with his award-winning album Who I Am which featured south Indian musicians, and again in the ‘90s with the release Human Love. Waiting follows the Eastern path of using resonating sound to produce calming effects in the mind and body, an important part of all paths of yoga as well as everyday living.

Adding to his vast pop catalogue is The Light of a Million Suns, an EP featuring a Hip Hop/R&B-infused remix of Gary’s second smash hit “Love is Alive” – a duet with his son Dorian. Both records are currently available digitally and soon on CD as well.

New ringtones have just been released as well, including an exclusive of the intro to “Dream Weaver,” never before available, accessible by texting DREAMWEAVERINTRO to 71777. Other ringtones are available on Gary Wright's My Space page.

Gary is headlining the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on April 11. Future dates are to be announced. He will also be performing with his first group from the late 60s, the progressive British based rock band Spooky Tooth, first at the Shepard’s Bush Empire in London as part of the legendary Island Records 50th anniversary celebration, and then at four other concerts in Germany.

For more on Gary Wright, visit http://www.thedreamweaver.com.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Aerosmith’s New Album Delayed

Good and bad news for Aerosmith fans. After announcing that the release of their new album, their first since 2004’s blues covers record Honkin’ For Bobo, was delayed until later this year, the Boston band revealed they’d be joined by fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top on tour this summer.

According to guitarist Joe Perry, the band has been working on a proper follow-up to Just Push Play for the past two or three years. Aerosmith hoped to complete the album before their tour, but various health ailments, like Perry’s knee replacement surgery and Steven Tyler’s pneumonia, stalled recording. “The time we had allotted to make this record, we couldn’t do it. But it’s a work in progress and we’re gonna shoot for it when we finish with this tour,” Perry said, adding that Brendan O’Brien will serve as producer after previously working with the band as mixer on 1993’s Get A Grip.

Perry was also excited about the prospect of touring with ZZ Top, one of the few groups from Aerosmith’s era that have remained intact: “That’s just amazing to be able to play with them because it’s going to be a kickass show.” Perry also promises to reinvigorate the set lists this time around.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Iggy Pop, Ron Wood Sign On For Benefit Concert

Punk rock icon Iggy Pop and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, no strangers to drug and alcohol abuse, will perform at a fundraiser in Los Angeles next month for musicians struggling with their addictions.

Pop, who turns 62 this month, will be a "special guest" at the fifth annual MusiCares MAP Fund dinner/concert at Club Nokia on May 8.

Wood, 61, also is scheduled to perform at the 2,300-capacity venue, as are the Red Hot Chili Peppers rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith, Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein, the Mars Volta and Ivan Neville.

Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis will receive the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his charitable endeavors, according to a statement. The event is alcohol-free.

Pop succumbed to heroin and other drugs during the 1970s, and ended up in a mental institution in Los Angeles. Wood has long battled alcoholism.

Individual floor seats for the event are priced at $1,250, and preferred balcony seats at $100, sold through the Recording Academy. Ticketmaster is selling general-admission balcony seats at $50.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Beatles Remastered Catalogue Out 9-9-09

London, England - April 7, 2009 - Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles' core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.

Within each CD's new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.

A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past Masters'). As an added bonus, the mono "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained.

Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

AC/DC Returning To U.S. This Summer

Tour Kicks Off on July 28 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA

April 6, 2009, New York NY - AC/DC's highly successful Black Ice World Tour returns to the U.S. on July 28 in Foxborough, MA at Gillette Stadium (see below for full itinerary).

AC/DC kicked off their Black Ice World Tour in late October 2008, crisscrossing North America and Europe garnering raves from critics along the way. The Black Ice World Tour was given the ‘Major Tour of the Year’ award at the 20th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.

Tickets for the Foxborough, East Rutherford, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Tacoma shows go on sale Saturday April 11, 2009. Tickets for the San Jose concert go on sale Sunday April 12. Tickets for the San Diego concert go on sale Saturday April 18. Tickets for the Los Angeles concert go on sale Saturday April 25. Tickets will be available via Ticketmaster and the band's website, www.acdc.com.

Released globally on October 20, 2008, Black Ice has been certified Double Platinum in the U.S. Black Ice is AC/DC’s first new album in over eight years and its evident the band is still an incredible force in rock.

The video for the album's latest single, "Anything Goes,” was filmed at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in Paris, France on February 27th and is streaming now at www.aol.com.

On October 26th, 2008, AC/DC played their first show in 5 years. Dedicated fans from all over the world traveled to the small industrial town of Wilkes-Barre, PA to be there. A few select fans were chosen to be featured in this documentary. Their stories reflect the commitment and passion of what it means to be a true AC/DC fan over the years. The documentary can be seen now at www.ACDCFannation.com.

Black Ice made history debuting at #1 on album charts in 29 countries and also has the distinction of being Columbia Records’ biggest debut album (since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991). Black Ice has been certified Multi Platinum in eighteen countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina and the Czech Republic.

Additionally Black Ice has achieved Platinum status in five countries (including the UK and Spain) and Gold status in four countries (The Netherlands, Poland and Brazil). With over 6.5 million copies of Black Ice shipped worldwide, combined with over 5.5 million in catalog sold last year, AC/DC have surpassed The Beatles as the #1 selling catalog artist in the US for 2008. In the US, Black Ice is being sold exclusively at Walmart, Sam's Club, and www.acdc.com.

Upcoming shows in the Black Ice North American tour include:

July 28 - Foxborough, MA- Gillette Stadium
July 31 - E. Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium
August 16 - Detroit, MI - Palace of Auburn Hills
August 18 - Grand Rapids, MI - Van Andel Arena
August 30 - Tacoma, WA - Tacoma Dome
September 2 - San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion
September 4 - Los Angeles, CA - Staples Center
September 6 - San Diego, CA - Sports Arena

Simon & Garfunkel Confirm Reunion Tour

Simon and Garfunkel have crossed their personal bridge over troubled water and will reunite for a rare concert tour, kicking off in New Zealand and Australia.

Veteran Australian promoter Michael Chugg has confirmed the music industry's worst kept secret with the news that Paul Simon and his long-time running mate Art Garfunkel will return to the stage for a string of Australasian dates mid-year.

However, fans of the hit-making singers and songwriters will have to sit tight on international dates, which so far have yet to be announced.

The enduring duo will first visit New Zealand for a June 13 concert at Auckland's Vector Arena, before traveling west for seven shows in Australia, beginning June 17 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre and concluding July 2 at the Burswood Dome in Perth. It will mark the pair's first Australasian visit since their 1983 Summer Evening Tour.

"It's been 25 years since they've been here and I'd put money on the table this will likely be the last time for us with these two legends together," comments Chugg, executive chairman of Sydney-based Chugg Entertainment. "This is probably a twice in a lifetime chance, but the last time you'll get to take it I'd say."

General tickets go on sale April 17 in Australia via Ticketek, and through Ticketmaster in New Zealand. A special Visa Entertainment pre-sale for all shows began April 6 at 12 noon local time and runs until 5pm April 8.

Speculation on a reunion tour has ramped up since the partnership played a surprise reunion gig Feb. 13 at New York's Beacon Theatre, which was hosting its first event after a seven-month renovation by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

The pair performed "The Sound of Silence," "The Boxer" and "Old Friends" during the encore, in what was understood to be just their third appearance together since concluding a 2004 U.S. and European reunion run, entitled Old Friends In Concert Tour.

Friday, April 3, 2009

George Harrison To Get Star On Walk Of Fame

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Hollywood's glittering Walk of Fame is to get a new star with late Beatle George Harrison being added posthumously to the famous walkway.

A star bearing Harrison's name will be added to the famous sidewalk in a ceremony on April 14 to be attended by his widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, organizers said.

Guitarist Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 58, is the subject of a documentary currently beng filmed by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese. Capitol/EMI will announce plans for a new Harrison music release on April 14.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Santana Announces Vegas Residency

Carlos Santana has signed a multiyear contract to appear at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s new Joint in Las Vegas. This means the only place you’ll be able to see Santana west of the Mississippi through 2010 is at The Joint, according to promoter AEG Live. They’re calling the extravaganza “Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through The Hits, and it debuts on May 27.

Like those who have played Vegas residencies before Santana – Celine Dion, Elton John, Barry Manilow – only the first batch of dates has been announced. Along with May 27 opener, Santana is also playing The Joint May 28, 30-31, June 3-4, 6-7, 10-11, 13-14, August 26-27,29-30, and September 2, and 4-6. All in all, expect about 36 shows a year.

Said Carlos Santana of the first “rock residency” in Vegas: “It is a great honor for Santana to be the first resident performer at the new Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Because I still live the principles of the 1960s, and because I’m a hippie at heart, ‘A Trip Through The Hits’ is designed to bring everyone in the audience together as one. I invite you to join our experience – we’ll mix up a little practical spirituality with a rebel-from-the-street vibe, and with lots of incredible music. My wish is for it to be a night that will move you to dance, to cry, to laugh and to feel the totality and fullness of being alive.”

Tickets prices range from $79 to $299 and are available at the Hard Rock Hotel Box Office and Ticketmaster. For more information, visit SupernaturalSantana.com.