Monday, January 31, 2011

Black Country Communion Announce July UK Summer Gigs

The Anglo-American rock supergroup Black Country Communion is pleased to announce a series of four UK headline summer concerts in the North of England, following their appearance at London's High Voltage Festival at Victoria Park on Sunday, July 24th.

The four-piece rock band includes Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals), Jason Bonham (drums), Glenn Hughes (vocals, bass) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards), play Leeds O2 Academy (Tuesday, July 26th ), Newcastle O2 Academy (Wednesday July 27th ), Glasgow O2 Academy (Friday, July 29th) and Manchester Academy (Saturday, July 30th).

A special ticket pre-sale will be available to O2 Academy Priority subscribers from Wednesday February 2nd at 9:00 AM. To become an O2 Academy Priority customer, please register at Tickets will then go on sale to the general public from 9:00 AM GMT on Friday, February 4th.

Black Country Communion's self-titled debut album was originally released during September 2010 to rave reviews. It entered the official UK album chart at #13 and shot straight to #1 in the official UK rock album chart. BCC's debut also hit #3 in Classic Rock magazine's Critics Album of the Year poll, while Planet Rock radio listeners voted them as the Best New Band of 2010.

BCC are currently mixing their second studio album. The untitled album, produced by Kevin Shirley, and rumored to be their most explosive to date, is scheduled for June 2011 release.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Watchband Releases New Greatest Hits Album

When discussing psychedelic garage bands of the 1960s, the Chocolate Watchband is often mentioned. The group has recorded a new album of their greatest and most popular tunes. Recorded in 2010 at KVP Studio in Santa Clara, CA, the focus on this album was to faithfully reproduce the sound of the Chocolate Watchband in the 60s with the rawness and energy of the originals. Also added were bonus verses and extended track mixes of 13 personal and fan favorites.

“The Chocolate Watchband is back on the scene and ready to rock!" says Tim Abbott, guitarist and producer of the album.

"This release is all new recordings from The Chocolate Watchband. I had the privilege of premiering some of these songs on the 2010 Bay Area Garage Band Marathon on KKUP Cupertino. This is an incredible set of vintage garage from one of the true legends of the sixties. With this album, there can no doubt the power of their music still speaks to a whole new generation," says radio DJ Phil Dirt.

The goal was to re-create the sound and energy of the sessions with producer Ed Cobb, from the first three Watchband albums that were recorded for Tower Records in 1966, '67, and '68. Electronically reproducing the reverb of the old 'Echo Chamber' from American Recording studio in Studio City, CA, different percussion instruments were added including sleigh bells, tambourines, chimes, temple bells and more exotic instruments like sitars, harpsichords, theremin and bouzouki that gave the original recordings their distinctive sound.

"As the Chocolate Watchband's de facto historian and the producer behind most of their reissue packages, I can state with authority that the Greatest Hits package is as authentically Watchband as any of this singular group's vintage recordings," says associate producer Alec Palao.

The Chocolate Watchband formed in San Jose in 1965. The band's music was described as “a blend of 1960s-style garage and psychedelic rock with a distinguishable ‘Rolling Stones’ San Francisco sound. Produced by Ed Cobb, the group's early music combined the influences of blues with a psychedelic edge that featured terse lyrics and instrumental experimentation.

The Chocolate Watchband appeared in the 1967 film Riot On Sunset Strip and the 1968 film The Love Ins. The band released three highly acclaimed LPs from 1967 to 1969 before disbanding in 1970. In 1999, they reunited at the San Diego event 66/99 in San Diego, CA, organized by musician/journalist Mike Stax.

They continue to play today at garage rock festivals in Europe as well as the States with Little Steven, The Yardbirds, Love, The Zombies, Bo Diddley, Iggy Pop, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Electric Prunes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jack Bruce Receives International Bassist Award

For over 40 years, Jack Bruce has been a bass legend, playing on some of the most influential music ever recorded. Hailed as one of the greatest bassists of his time, his improvisational skill and unique approach to both composition and performance has forever changed music.

His influence on countless musicians includes everyone from Charlie Watts to Sting to Jaco Pastorius. His work with bands such as Cream and The Tony Williams Lifetime, as well as his solo material, broke the barriers of tradition and created a brand new sound.

On Friday, January 14, at the 2011 NAMM Show, Bruce became the third recipient of the International Bassist Award, a lifetime achievement award for bassists. Larry Hartke was on hand to present the award to his idol.

“Simply put, Jack Bruce is the reason I became interested in the bass,” says Hartke. “Jack changed the role of bass in music and made playing the instrument look like fun. It was my greatest honor to present the International Bassist Award to my hero and friend.”

Numerous platinum and gold records, membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Cream and a recipient of a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement, Bruce has accumulated many awards. But, he says this particular award is very special because it is centered around the instrument he loves.

“I've had a love affair with the bass since I caressed my first double bass which had stood neglected and lonely in the corner of my school music room in gloomy, grey post-war Glasgow,” says Bruce. “That sensual and loving relationship has continued throughout my life via a Top Twenty Fender copy (which tried to electrocute me), a Fender VI, The Gibson EB3 I played with Cream right up to my beloved Warwick Thumb Bass which I have enjoyed for many years.”

“Being given this award makes me very proud and happy. When I stood on the stage at the Samson/Zoom/Hartke party at NAMM and Larry made the presentation, I felt I was one of a long line of bassists, perhaps starting with J.S. Bach himself – and he only used his feet – Jimmy Blanton, Charles Mingus, Ron Carter, James Jamerson, Paul McCartney, John Entwistle — the list is simply endless. For me to be considered a small part of that illustrious line is simply wonderful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dead, Dylan Drive Film About Music's Healing Power

Based on a true story and an essay titled The Last Hippie by neurologist Oliver Sacks, "The Music Never Stopped" is an effectively emotional look at the power of music therapy to trigger memories lost after brain surgery.

Using abundant songs from the '60s by Bob Dylan, the Beatles and especially the Grateful Dead to bridge the generation gap between a father and son estranged by time and a severe medical condition, the sentimental pull of the film is hard to resist. The Roadside Attractions release could find an appreciative theatrical audience among boomers and lively business at home.

The year is 1986, and Henry Sawyer (J.T. Simmons) and his wife, Helen (Cara Seymour), have not seen their son, Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci), for almost 20 years when they get a call that he is comatose in the hospital with a benign brain tumor. The operation is successful but robs Gabriel of his long-term memory, essentially trapping him in 1968, the year when politics and music bitterly separated the once close family.

The doctors offer no hope for Gabriel's recovery, and parental visits become more dutiful than satisfying when Henry's research leads him to music therapist Dianne Daly (Julia Ormond). The idea is to stir his memory through a visceral connection to the music. Henry stubbornly insists she begin treatment with tunes from his beloved big band era, something he once shared with his son. It doesn't work.

Then Daly has an epiphany: What about music from the '60s? When she plays "All You Need Is Love," it's as if a light bulb goes off and Gabriel comes alive. He can recite chapter and verse of when he first heard the song and what it meant to him. Same for "Mr. Tambourine Man" and many others.

But it's the Grateful Dead that really releases the joy Gabriel felt as a young man experiencing this music for the first time. The problem is his father hates that music and initially resists, until he sees the progress his son is making. Desperate to make a connection, he realizes that the only way he can talk to his son is through music.

Gabriel is unable to distinguish between the past and the present -- he thinks the Vietnam War is still going on -- but at least through his love for the music, he is able to access a time when he was alive.

Depicting the '60s in flashbacks could have been cartoonish, particularly on a low budget. But if the look is not always totally authentic, director Jim Kohlberg and cinematographer Stephen Kazmierski manage to capture the spirit of the era. The film's heart is in the right place, and buoyed by the music, the value of this kind of therapy comes through loud and clear. With thanks on the credits to Dylan, Paul McCartney and members of the Dead for the use of their music, it's obvious they also recognized the importance of the subject.

And Kohlberg's smart casting choices and heartfelt performances also help deliver the message. As grumpy as Henry may seem at times, Simmons is far too good-natured an actor to believe he is anything but a good man. Pucci does an admirable job in playing what is essentially two parts -- the catatonic Gabriel, and the hippie Gabriel. And Ormond emanates the kindness her role calls for.

The climatic set piece of the film features Henry taking his son to a Grateful Dead concert against doctor's orders. The tie-dye may be a bit over the top and the performance on stage might not be the real thing -- actors play band members -- but when the real Dead sing "what a long strange trip it's been," the film honors the ability of music to heal even the most damaged soul.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Aerosmith Shoots Down 'False' Rumors, Says Band Is 'Having Fun' Recording

Longtime Aerosmith collaborator Marti Frederiksen reports that the group has been very productive during its first few days of writing for a new album at his studio Monrovia, Calif.

"It's been really good, great," Frederiksen says. "We've been playing songs, putting together riffs, having fun, laughing and working from noon to 11 (p.m.) We're just digging in, man."

Frederiksen began working on Jan. 22 with frontman Steven Tyler, guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer, with plans to continue through Feb. 2, when Tyler begins his live appearances as an "American Idol" judge. Guitarist Joe Perry was unable to attend the sessions due to an unspecified commitment, according to Frederiksen, but his bandmates were "missing" him.

The group put together four songs in its first three days of working together, though Frederiksen notes they're not necessarily finished products. "We're trying to move quick and not necessarily finish up songs and make them complete but just get a lot of stuff to choose from," he says. He predicts that one of the pieces has "such an instrumental sound" the group may just leave it that way. "Steven can blow harp on it and it'd be really cool," Frederiksen says.

Ultimately, he predicts, "I think we can wind up with a lot of good stuff, and they've got a lot of great stuff already from the past" -- including a series of sessions with Brendan O'Brien in 2008 -- "that hasn't been finished, a whole stockpile that just needs to be produced up. I think they'll be in pretty good shape."

The album will be Aerosmith's first since Honkin' on Bobo in 2004, and first of all new material since Just Push Play in 2008. Last week, Tyler also announced that Aerosmith will tour South America and Japan later this year.

The progress report flies in the face of some recent negative press that's surfaced regarding Tyler, including a recent New York Post article that quoted Stephen Davis, co-author of Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith, as saying that the band is "unable to work" due to Tyler's Idol commitment.

In a statement, Tyler's attorney Dina LaPolt responded, "We are disappointed that the New York Post would print a Sunday story containing several false and misleading statements which was obviously not fact-checked, including comments made by someone who worked on the band's autobiography over 10 years ago."

LaPolt added, "These are the facts: Steven Tyler, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton are currently in the studio in Los Angeles writing new songs for the next Aerosmith album. The album is anticipated to be released later this year. Additionally, Dan Weiner, the band's agent at the Paradigm Agency, confirmed that the band will tour later in 2011 by saying, 'We are pleased to announce that Aerosmith has confirmed a tour of South America and Japan during 2011. Within the near future we will announce the cities and dates in each territory, and when tickets will be available for sale."

Furthermore, continued LaPolt, "Mr. Tyler's American Idol contract was specifically negotiated to work around his Aerosmith touring and recording schedule. It is the role of band representatives to ensure that all group members and the public have accurate and up to date data and if false information is made public, that these inaccuracies are corrected immediately."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mothers of Invention Members Don Preston, Bunk Gardner To Tour East Coast

Don Preston and Bunk Gardner, both original members of the the Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa, are gearing up to tour east coast once again with The Don & Bunk Show. The duo will be playing a full range of Zappa's music from Freak Out to Zoot Allures.

The evening will be full of the zany antics, wild improvisations and strange electronic music the early Mothers were famous for, along with the expert mastery of their instruments. "We're doing this tour because I think Zappa fans need to come and hear how Zappa's music was performed by the originals," says Preston. "Hey people! We're still doing it!"

Gardner and Preston are featured on several albums with the original Mothers of Invention (along with various later compilations of unreleased material by Frank Zappa) which include Absolutely Free, We're Only In It For The Money, Cruising With Ruben & The Jets, Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

Gardner also appeared on Zappa's first solo venture Lumpy Gravy, while Preston went on to appear on several albums after the break-up of the original Mothers, which include Fillmore East, June 1971, Just Another Band From L.A., Roxy & Elsewhere as well as the feature film 200 Motels.

The Don & Bunk Show started in 2001 with the duo wanting to show audiences their unique abilities that were revealed in Zappa's first band. Gardner and Preston have both been long known for their amazing inprovising abilities and interpretation of Zappa's music.

They have recorded two CDs for Brain Records: Ahead Of Their Time and Joined At The Hip. Bunk has also recorded and/or performed with the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra, Geronimo Black, Tim Buckley, The 4 Winds Ensemble, ANT-BEE and many others.

Don Preston has recorded/performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gil Evans, Carla Bley, The Residents and many others. He has also completed 23 film scores including Apocalypse Now. He has a new download-only CD titled Colliding Galaxys released on Norway's Zonic Entertainment.

The Don & Bunk show will be appearing on the following dates:

Feb 10 Thur - REGGIE’S - Chicago, IL
Feb 11 Fri. - Papa Pete’s - Kalamazoo, MI
Feb 12 Sat - Magic Bag - Ferndale, MI (Detroit)
Feb 13 Sun - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
Feb 16 Wed - The Abilene - Rochester, NY
Feb 17 Thurs – Bearsville - Woodstock, NY
Feb 18 Fri - The Rongovian Embassy - Trumansburg, NY
Feb 19 Sat - The Magic Room - Boston, MA
Feb 21 Mon - The Rotunda -Philadelphia, PA
Feb 22 Tues – Mexicali Live – Teaneck, NJ (special gig featuring Project Object, Ray White and Ike Willis)
Feb 25 Fri - The Funhouse - Bethlehem, PA
Feb 26 Sat- Orion - Baltimore, MD
Feb 27 Sun - Hard Rock Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA

For more information, see The Don and Bunk Show on My Space.