Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Fans Hanker For Ray Charles Hologram


When a hologram of late rapper Tupac Shakur appeared on stage with Snoop Dogg at the recent Coachella music festival, it stunned audiences by literally bringing the performer back to life - technologically, anyway.

Reuters recently asked Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, which surveys consumers about celebrities for Hollywood's major studios and TV networks, to pull together a list of dead celebrities who remain popular and, like Tupac, might still be big draws at a concert if only as a hologram.

Perhaps surprisingly, given his status as the King of Rock, Elvis Presley managed only a second place tie with country singer Johnny Cash. It was soul legend Ray Charles who topped the list, judged by a combination of fan appeal, audience awareness and perceptions of talent. The researchers label the overall grade an "E-Score."

John Lennon - imagine that - was fourth, and one notch below came ol' blue eyes, Frank Sinatra. Another king, this one of pop music, Michael Jackson, failed to make the top 10, but just by one notch. And while Tupac caused a sensation at Coachella, he could only muster 16th place, just behind Tammy Wynette.

A list of music performers most likely to be enjoyed by fans in an after-life hologram is below, ranked according to their "E-Score." The figures were derived from E-Poll's weekly survey of some 1,100 people ages 13 and older.

Rank Celebrity E-Score:

1. Ray Charles 100
2. Johnny Cash 99
3. Elvis Presley 99
4. John Lennon 98
5. Frank Sinatra 98
6. Bob Marley 96
7. James Brown 96
8. Whitney Houston 95
9. George Harrison 93
10. Jimi Hendrix 92
11. Michael Jackson 91
12. Luther Vandross 90
13. Janis Joplin 89
14. Isaac Hayes 87
15. Tammy Wynette 84
16. Tupac Shakur 77
17. Miles Davis 75
18. Kurt Cobain 74
19. Biggie Smalls 65
20. DJ AM 52

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bruce Springsteen Shakes, Rattles, Surfs In Los Angeles

Tracking set lists is a popular pastime of Bruce Springsteen aficionados and the current tour has provided sufficient fodder in that department: In the 18 shows since he started the tour on March 18 in Atlanta, Springsteen has performed 65 different songs, only a dozen of which have made it into the set list every night. When the regulars drop out, such as "Thunder Road" on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, it feels newsworthy in that it made an L.A. show unique.

On the other hand, it provided a good reason to return for night two, the third to last night on the first leg of his U.S. tour. Not that "Thunder Road" was missed -- this was as powerful a show as any Bruce Springsteen has delivered in this city.

What typed up set lists do not convey is how the songs are performed. There may be no greater point to make about the significance of this tour, the first E Street outing without the late saxophonist Clarence Clemons and keyboardist Danny Federici. Springsteen has opted to fill the holes created by their absence with an element no one would have believed was absent, a sweet soulfulness and militaristic percussion. Clemons' brawniness and the wails that evoked moments of isolation and desperation are replaced by a horn section that alters songs moods like lighting, blue on one song, fire-engine red on the next.

Sixteen musicians are now in Springsteen's band, a five-piece horn section that sits out almost as often as it plays and doubles as percussionists, lending a maracas-based wall of sound to "She's the One" and a funeral marching band sound on "Death to My Hometown" and "Easy Money." It opens the bar band opportunities that exist in so many of his songs and he juices them smartly; a tribute to the Temptations ("The Way You Do the Things You Do") and Wilson Pickett ("634-5789") reveals his current soul tastes turning more toward classically tailored love songs rather than the rollicking tales of parties and sex that he covered in his younger days.

Springsteen has elevated the dynamics in so many of his songs, thanks to the presence of a hand drummer, two more backup singers and the horn players. Gone are the rim shots used for exclamation points, the sudden drop-outs of music and a pacing determined solely but the intensity of the songs. Now he's working within songs, using musicians for some sections but not others, and allowing the sounds of instruments to explode on their own rather than en masse. Acoustic numbers are sparingly used, set list a risky journey with few spots for Springsteen to rest his voice.

At the Sports Arena, Springsteen appeared rejuvenated, especially after the "Magic" tour, where the new songs never clicked, feeling half-baked up against classics that had been in the sets for a few years or a few decades. The material from Wrecking Ball - eight of its songs were performed Thursday, a standard at most of his shows to date - has a gravitas that approaches The Rising and in many cases supersedes "Born in the U.S.A's" songs; more lived in than when recorded, the new material is delivered with a compelling vigor, whether it's a soft song such as "Rocky Ground," performed with the singer and rapper Michelle Moore, or the more urgent "Wrecking Ball," one of the songs that takes full advantage of the scope a 16-piece band can provide.

Springsteen's first of two Los Angeles shows had a lot in common with shows elsewhere on the tour.

The dozen songs that have been performed at all 17 shows prior: "We Take Care of Our Own," "Wrecking Ball," "Death to My Hometown," "My City of Ruins," "The Rising," "We Are Alive," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," Apollo Medley ("The Way You Do The Things You Do"/"634-5789"), "Rocky Ground," "Dancing in the Dark," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" and "Born to Run."

He offers two tributes to Clemons, one during "My City of Ruin" that also tipped the hat to Federici, and another during the pivotal second verse of "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out." They are largely silent tributes save for the rapturous applause.

The inclusion of "The Ghost of Tom Joad," "Something in the Night" and the Rivieras' "California Sun" took the list of songs performed only once during the tour up to 18. That was a particular treat for longtime Springsteen observers as he rarely uses the first night in L.A. to deliver anything untested.

He included songs that only had a few plays so far: "E Street Shuffle" (sixth time in a set); "Candy's Room" (third) and "She's the One" (seventh). Tom Morello performed magical guitar lines on three songs, "Death to My Hometown," "Jack of All Trades" and "The Ghost of Tom Joad." It was only the fifth show in which "Badlands" was used the opener; "We Take Care of Our Own" has been the opener elsewhere.

A list of songs, however, cannot convey the thrill that covered Springsteen's face when he brought a young girl onstage to sing "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" or the fact that he sang those soul covers in the middle of the general admission section on the floor and then crowd-surfed his way back to the stage or how he stood on Roy Bittan's piano, held his hand to his ear and pleaded the audience for more applause. These were Springsteen antics from the 1970s and and 1980s, stage maneuvers that had largely been dropped as his material turned increasingly serious and weighty.

He taped another element of that -- the voice of the preacher, detailing where he was going to take an audience for the night. "We came thousands of miles on a long long road to wake you and shake you and take you to a higher place," he shouted while the band played Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." He spoke about the crowd needing the E Street Band as much as the the band needed the audience, pointing to youngsters standing and how crucial they were to the show's success, probably something they'll never hear again in an arena.

He spoke of the joyous power of rock 'n' roll, that it's the E Street Band's job to deliver "the news with a beat," to tell stories about "things that get lost" and "things that remain with us always." Material from Wrecking Ball supplied the news, The Rising was there for the reflection and the rest of it was indeed the joyous power of rock and roll. It sounds a bit different on this E Street Band go-'round, but it's refreshing and invigorating in a way that proves Springsteen never stops reaching for that higher place.

Here's the set list:

We Take Care Of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
The Ties That Bind
Death To My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
My City Of Ruins
The E Street Shuffle
Jack Of All Trades (with Tom Morello)
Something in the Night
Candy's Room
She's The One
Easy Money
Waiting On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Apollo Medley (The Way You Do The Things You Do/634-5789)
The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello)
The Rising
Lonesome Day
We Are Alive
Land Of Hope And Dreams
Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
California Sun
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (with Tom Morello)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Beatles’ First American Concert Coming To The Big Screen

The first full concert staged by The Beatles in the U.S. will be screened in movie theaters next month.

As reported by Deadline Hollywood, The Beatles: The Lost Concert will be shown in select venues on May 17 and May 22. In addition, a special premiere, with two showings, will take place on May 6 at the historic Ziegfield Theater in Manhattan.

The concert, which lasted just over a half-hour, took place at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. The Beatles performed a 12-song set for an audience of 8,092.

The show was filmed by an eight-man camera crew and broadcast a month later via closed-circuit to movie theaters across America.

The new presentation will be preceded by a 92-minute documentary charting the rise of Beatlemania. Among those offering commentary in the documentary are Chuck Berry and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.

For more information, go to

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Robin Gibb's Health Improves

Robin Gibb's doctors say that the Bee Gees founder is making an astonishing recovery from the grave health problems that he has been battling.

"Only three days ago, I warned Robin’s wife, Dwina, son, Robin John and brother, Barry, that I feared the worst," Gibb's physician and gastroenterologist, Dr. Andrew Thillainayagam, said in a statement released by Gibb's representative. "We felt it was very likely that Robin would succumb to what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to any form of meaningful recovery.  As a team, we were all concerned that we might be approaching the realms of futility."

Thillainayagam explained that Gibb had opted to treat his advanced colorectal cancer with aggressive chemotherapy, and needed two emergency operations within two months. In his weakened condition, he developed brain swelling from liver failure as well as pneumonia and subsequently lost consciousness.

"It is testament to Robin’s extraordinary courage, iron will and deep reserves of physical strength that he has overcome quite incredible odds to get where he is now," Thillainayagam said.

The doctor confirmed that Gibb is now conscious, lucid, and able to speak. Although the singer is being fed intravenously, he is breathing on his own with the help of an oxygen mask.

"The road ahead for Robin remains uncertain but it is a privilege to look after such an extraordinary human being," Thillainayagam said.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bachman & Turner Releasing Double Live Set

Eagle Records has announced the release of Live At The Roseland Ballroom, NYC, a double CD set from Bachman & Turner. This release arrives on May 29.

 features Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, the musicians at the heart of legendary band Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Live At The Roseland Ballroom, NYC includes songs from their recent self-titled album along with their rock n’ roll anthems including “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Hey You,” “Blue Collar,” “Roll On Down The Highway,” “Let It Ride” and “Lookin’ Out For #1,” plus a hit-laden throwback to Bachman’s early days with the Guess Who, including their take on Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over,” and the band’s US No.1 hit, “American Woman.”

Over the course of a four-year run, Bachman-Turner Overdrive sold in excess of 30 million records, earning a staggering 120 platinum, gold and silver discs, and notching up hits in more than 20 countries. The iconic duo shared duties on the lead vocals with Bachman contributing lead guitar and Turner the bass. Reuniting at the end of 2009 they released an eponymous album in 2010 and in November of that year they performed at the famous Roseland Ballroom in New York City as part of their North American tour.

Featuring the line-up of Randy Bachman (guitars, vocals); C.F. Turner (bass, vocals); Marc LaFrance (drums, percussion, vocals); Brent Howard Knudsen (guitars, vocals); and Mick Dalla-Vee (guitars, vocals), this incendiary show was also filmed and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc later in the year.


Disc One:
1) Let It Ride 
2) Rock Is My Life 
3) Not Fragile 
4) Hey You 
5) Hold Back The Water
 6) Waiting Game 
7) Moonlight Rider 
8) Lookin’ Out For #1 
9) Stayed Awake All Night 
10) American Woman

Disc Two:
1) Four Wheel Drive 
2) Slave To The Rhythm 
3) Blue Collar 
4) That’s What It Is 
5) Sledgehammer 
6) Rollin’ Along 
7) You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet 
8) Shakin’ All Over 
9) Roll On Down The Highway 
10) Takin’ Care Of Business

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ted Nugent: Secret Service Meeting 'Could Not Have Gone Better'

Ted Nugent says he's off the hook after meeting with Secret Service agents about his controversial, violently-worded speech at an NRA convention.

"I met with two fine, professional Secret Service agents in Oklahoma today," the rocker and arch-conservative said Thursday in a post on his website. "Good, solid, professional meeting concluding that I have never made any threats of violence towards anyone. The meeting could not have gone better. I thanked them for their service, we shook hands and went about our business. Godbless the good federal agents wherever they may be."

He added: "By no stretch of the imagination did I threaten anyone's life, or hint at violence or mayhem. Metaphors needn't be explained to educated people."

Nugent had been under scrutiny since last weekend's NRA appearance in St. Louis, where he ranted about the Obama administration, "We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." If President Obama is re-elected, said Nugent, he'd be "dead or in jail by this time next year."

Nugent's incendiary speech attracted the ears of Secret Services, who launched a probe on the musician. He said in an interview on Glenn Beck's radio show that he respected "their duty to investigate," and had meant no real threat by his remarks.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Secret Service spokeperson Brian Leary said: "The issue has been resolved. The Secret Service does not anticipate any further action."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Band's Levon Helm Dies At 71


Levon Helm, singer and drummer for the Band, has died in New York of throat cancer. He was 71.

"He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates," Helm's longtime guitarist Larry Campbell said. "All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity. It was even two days ago they thought it would happen within hours, but he held on. It seems like he was Levon up to the end, doing it the way he wanted to do it. He loved us, we loved him."

In the late Nineties, Helm – whose singing anchored Band classics like "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up on Cripple Creek," "Rag Mama Rag," and "The Weight" – was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent 28 radiation treatments, eventually recovering his voice. In recent weeks, however, Helm had canceled a number of shows, including one at the New Orleans Jazz Fest on April 27th and another in Montclair, New Jersey. A note posted to his website on Tuesday from his daughter Amy and wife Sandy said that Helm was in the "final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration...he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage."

Born May 26, 1940 in Arkansas, Helm was literally a witness to the birth of rock & roll; as a teenager, he saw Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis in concert and was inspired to play drums after seeing Lewis' drummer, Jimmy Van Eaton. (Helm went on to play mandolin and other stringed instruments as well). In 1960, Helm joined the backup band of rockabilly wildman Ronnie Hawkins – a group that would eventually include Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, all future members of the Band.

The musicians broke from Hawkins to form their own group – their names included the Crackers and Levon and the Hawks – but it was their association with Bob Dylan that cemented their reputation. After Dylan saw the group in a club (either in Canada or New Jersey, depending on the source), he invited Helm and guitarist Robertson to join his electric band. "Bob Dylan was unknown to us," Helm wrote in his 1993 memoir This Wheel's on Fire. "I knew he was a folksinger and songwriter whose hero was Woody Guthrie. And that's it." Robertson and Helm were in Dylan's electric band for his controversial, frequently booed show at New York's Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Afterward, various members of the Band played on Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and toured with him in 1966. (Helm left temporary in 1965, tired of the ongoing hostility from Dylan's folk fans.)

Recuperating in Woodstock after his 1966 motorcycle accident, Dylan again hooked up with the band that would soon be the Band. Before Helm rejoined them, they recorded the landmark Basement Tapes, and the Band's crackling, homespun take on American roots music began to take shape. Rechristening themselves the Band, they signed to Capitol Records and released two classic albums, Music From Big Pink (1968) and The Band (1969). Although Robertson was the Band's principal songwriter, it was Helm's beautifully gruff and ornery voice that brought the Canadian Robertson's mythic Americana songs to life. He was also one of rock's earliest singing drummers.

In 1976, at Robertson's urging, the Band broke up after its farewell concert, known as "The Last Waltz." In meetings before the concert and as recounted in This Wheel's on Fire, Helm was adamantly opposed to the group disbanding. "I didn't want any part of it," he wrote. "I didn't want to break up the band." He begrudgingly went along, but his relationship with Robertson was never the same. After the show, Helm formed his own band, Levon Helm and the RCO All Stars, featuring fellow legends Dr. John, Steve Cropper, and Booker T. Jones, and recorded several solo albums. Helm also ventured into acting with an acclaimed role in 1980's Coal Miner's Daughter, playing Loretta Lynn (Sissy Spacek's) father. But he couldn't leave the Band behind, and with Danko, Manuel, and Hudson, he formed a new version of the Band in the early 80s, recording three new studio albums with them.

The Band continued for a while after Manuel's suicide by hanging in 1986, but Danko's death in 1999 of heart failure ended the Band once and for all. By then, Helm was dealing with throat cancer. After his recovery, he began holding intimate concerts in his combination barn and studio in Woodstock, called the "Midnight Ramble," in part to pay his medical bills. The low-key, woodsy performances became must-see shows and attracted a rock who's who; Elvis Costello, Natalie Merchant, the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Donald Fagen were among the many who joined Helm and his band. The Ramble shows led to two acclaimed Helm solo albums – one of which, 2007's Dirt Farmer, won a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk category. "This go-round has been a lot more fun," Helm told Rolling Stone in 2009. "Now I know I've got enough voice to do it."

When the Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Helm didn't attend, revealing that his feud with Robertson was still on. "I thought Levon was going to show," Robertson told Rolling Stone a few years later. "Then that evening they said he changed his mind and wasn't going to come. And I thought, 'Oh, God, it would have been better if he was here.'"

Helm's throat cancer had taken a toll on his singing voice. On stage and in recent interviews, his voice was sometimes strong but other times was reduced to a low rasp. But at one his last shows, in Ann Arbor on March 19th with a 13-piece band, the audience roared when he sang the Band classic "Ophelia." "I'm not the poster boy of good health," he said in an interview last year. "But I'm not doing too bad. I still got the energy to make music. As long as I can do that, I'm great."

Robbie Robertson 'Saddened' Over Levon Helm Illness

With news breaking that Levon Helm is in "the final stages of his battle with cancer," he's receiving words of support from a pair of his Band mates.

"Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer. It hit me really hard because I thought he had beaten throat cancer and had no idea that he was this ill," Robbie Robertson wrote on Facebook, explaining that he went to see Helm in the hospital over the weekend.

"I sat with Levon for a good while, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together," he continued. "Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I've ever known and very much like an older brother to me. I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever."

And Garth Hudson, the Band's third surviving member, posted a brief statement on his website:

"I am too sad for words right now," he wrote, linking to an Alexis P. Suter Band performance of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." "Please continue praying for Levon and family."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark Passes At 82

Dick Clark, the music industry maverick, longtime TV host and powerhouse producer who changed the way we listened to pop music with "American Bandstand," and whose trademark "Rockin' Eve" became a fixture of New Year's celebrations, died today at the age of 82.

Clark's agent Paul Shefrin said in statement that the veteran host died this morning following a "massive heart attack."

Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929, Richard Wagstaff Clark began his lifelong career in show business began before he was even out of high school. He started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station in upstate New York run by his father and uncle. It wasn't long before the teenager was on the air, filling in for the weatherman and the announcer.

Clark pursued his passion at Syracuse University, working as a disc jockey at the student-run radio station while studying for his degree in business. After graduating in 1951, Clark went back to his family's radio station, but within a year, a bigger city and bigger shows were calling.

Clark landed a gig as a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia in 1952, spinning records for a show he called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music." There he broke into the big time, hosting Bandstand, an afternoon dance show for teenagers.

Within five years, the whole country was watching. ABC took the show national, and "American Bandstand" was born.

"American Bandstand's" formula was simple. Clean-cut boys and girls danced to the hottest hits and the newest singles. In between, Clark chatted with the teens, who helped "rate-a-record," turning songs into sensations. Everyone showed up on "American Bandstand," from Elvis Presley to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry to Chubby Checker.

When Dick Clark moved to Hollywood in 1963, "American Bandstand" moved with him. He started Dick Clark Productions, and began cranking out one hit show after another; his name became synonymous with everything from the $25,000 "Pyramid" to "TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes" to the "American Music Awards." In 1972, Dick Clark became synonymous with one of the biggest nights of the year.

"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" on ABC became a Dec. 31 tradition, with Clark hosting the festivities for more than three decades, introducing the entertainment acts and, of course, counting down to midnight as the ball dropped in New York's Times Square.

But the traditional celebration saw a temporary stop in 2004, when Clark suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and struggling to speak. Regis Philbin stepped in. But by the next New Year's Eve, Dick Clark was back, his speech still impaired. In halting words, he told the audience, "I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there."

But that didn't stop him: he returned each year, and recently he was joined by Ryan Seacrest.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications has done the math, and figures that Dick Clark Productions has turned out more than 7,500 hours of television programming, including more than 30 series and 250 specials, as well as more than 20 movies for theatre and TV.

All this earned Clark a long list of awards and accolades: Emmys, Grammys, induction in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It also made him one of the richest men in Hollywood; he also had stakes in a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, theatres and real estate.

In March, he put one of his homes on the market, asking $3.5 million for a one-of-a-kind house on 22 acres in Malibu, modeled after Fred and Wilma's house on "The Flintstones."

Clark, whose eternally youthful look earned him the nickname "America's Oldest Teenager", is survived by his three children and his third wife, Keri Wigton, married to him since 1977. He credited his appearance to good genes, once saying "if you want to stay young looking, pick your parents very carefully."

Now, America's Oldest Teenager is gone, leaving his indelible mark on generations of fans, and helping change rock 'n' roll and TV forever. His signature sign-off was always "For now, Dick Clark … so long," said with a salute. Today, generations of Americans are saluting back.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival Announces 2012 Lineup

The lineup for the fifth annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, whihc takes place in San Francisco's historic Golden Gate Park August 10 - 12, 2012, has been announced. Tickets go on sale Thursday April 19 at 12 noon PDT via A significant portion of every ticket sold will directly benefit San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department.

Outside Lands' fifth anniversary lineup represents a palpable expansion on the traditions of the festival Rolling Stone called last year, "One of America's best." Consistently setting the standard in Northern California for intelligence and diversity in its programming, Outside Lands will up the ante once again and feature a staggering array of sets from established artists, newcomers, and the icons who inspired them. Featured this year are two Bay Area giants, Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Metallica, the latter of whom, on the heels of their 30th anniversary, will be performing in their home park for the first time ever. The festival also welcomes Stevie Wonder's first Bay Area appearance in many years, Jack White, who is celebrating the release of his first solo record, and Foo Fighters and Skrillex, both enjoying a multi-Grammy award winning year. Notables also confirmed are: Sigur Ros, Justice, Norah Jones, Grandaddy, Bloc Party, Die Antwoord, Amadou & Mariam, Fun., The Walkmen, Two Gallants, Alabama Shakes, Tame Impala, Sharon Van Etten, Bomba Estereo, Tennis, White Denim, Caveman and more.

Outside Lands has quickly become known for being as much about the food as it is about the music. As The Huffington Post reported, "unlike, well, every other music festival in the country, the culinary offerings at Outside Lands are truly spectacular." This year, the festival will see its most expansive line-up yet. In total, ticket holders will discover approximately 100 food and wine options including organic, kegged wine; food trucks and bites from some of the city's hottest chefs. Over 50 restaurants will gather in A Taste of the Bay Area and fans can expect to enjoy returning favorites like Maverick, Farmer Brown's Little Skillet, Pacific Catch, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and 4505 Meats. Wine Lands will celebrate over 30 of the region's wineries and welcome back standouts like Long Meadow Ranch, Scribe, Bonny Doon, Kermit Lynch and Paul Grieco's Summer of Riesling 2012.

Now in its fifth year, the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival has become a cherished event that the city of San Francisco has embraced as fans from across the country flock to spend a incomparable weekend in one of America's greatest parks. Each year, festival organizers ensure that every facet of the event highlights the Bay Area and all of the components that make it one of the most desirable places to live and visit. They also like to the say thank you to the city and the local communities surrounding the park by giving back in substantial ways, raising a total of $4.3 million for the San Francisco Recreation And Park Department. Last year alone, the festival had a $68 million impact on the city as a whole. Outside Lands would like to thank its partners Heineken, StubHub, Toyota, eSurance and PayPal.

Confirmed Outside Lands 2012 lineup is below:

Stevie Wonder
Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Jack White
Foo Fighters
Sigur Ros
Norah Jones
The Kills
Regina Spektor
Passion Pit
Andrew Bird
Big Boi
Bloc Party
Explosions In The Sky
Franz Ferdinand
Die Antwoord
Fitz and The Tantrums
Portugal. The Man
Amadou & Mariam
Wolfgang Gartner
Dr. Dog
The Walkmen
Washed Out
City and Colour
Two Gallants
Of Monsters and Men
Alabama Shakes
Reggie Watts
Trampled By Turtles
Tame Impala
The Be Good Tanyas
Sharon Van Etten
Sean Hayes
Bomba Estereo
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Big Gigantic
Thee Oh Sees
Zola Jesus
White Denim
Allen Stone
The M Machine
Michael Kiwanuka
Father John Misty
Electric Guest
Yellow Ostrich
Honey Island Swamp Band
Animal Kingdom

More artists, restaurants, wineries to be announced in the coming weeks; check out for updates and more information.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Paul McCartney Video Stars Natalie Portman, Johnny Depp

There aren't a lot of parties where you can see giants of the music, film, television and fashion worlds come together and act like old friends -- which some of them actually are. But at Stella McCartney's L.A. boutique on Friday, April 13, you could see Quincy Jones mingling with Gwyneth Paltrow; Gwen Stefani chatting casually with Woody Harrelson; and Dave Grohl and Chris Martin having a conversation together. There were more stars in the store and the outdoor tented garden -- with video screen -- than non-stars on hand.

But for the debut of Sir Paul McCartney's new self-directed video "My Valentine," the A-list turned up -- and more. How often does one receive an invitation from Paul and Stella McCartney? The father/daughter duo don't do a lot of press opps together, but this was a lot more than that. The black-and-white video, with cinematography from Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight, Inception), was shown in three versions: one starring Johnny Depp, one with Natalie Portman (who appeared in McCartney's 2007 video for the song "Dance Tonight") and a version that cuts footage of the two actors together.

In the McCartney-directed Depp version, the actor plays guitar and does sign language to the song -- all in one long shot. Portman also performs sign language to the haunting love song, but also mimed the lyrics. The third version, with the two stars cut into one video, seemed to be a crowd favorite. The videos are all strikingly simple and strikingly intimate -- full eye contact with the actors, close-ups -- and heart-tugging emotion, "emo" being a Paul McCartney signature.

There was even a red carpet where actresses could show off their Stella McCartney looks: Paltrow sported Stella's sky high vegan booties with grey jeans and a black blazer, and didn't do the carpet with husband Martin, but greeted friends with him inside. Ginnifer Goodwin, stepping out with new boyfriend and co-star Josh Dallas, wore the evening's best look: a color block Stella dress that matched black and white print with peach and grey tones. Model Liberty Ross and Rumer Willis both donned versions of McCartney's hit spring dress, a red-and-white small print with an S-curve running through the body. Stella McCartney donned a simple black shirt and black well-cut trousers. She's notoriously simple in her dress. She also looked to have not a spot of makeup on her freshly scrubbed English rose skin.

Reese Witherspoon, pregnant and glowing, stepped out without husband Jim Toth, in a black dress with lace sleeves and a lace hem that was really flattering, Stefani, who spent most of the night with No Doubt's Tony Kanal, wore a jumpsuit in black that had sheer panels running all the way up the sides. "How can she wear underwear in that look?" asked one guest. A Hollywood stylist standing nearby quickly ended the mystery: "She isn't." The girl can work a look, that's for sure.

Paul McCartney welcomed guests with new wife Nancy Shevell at his side constantly -- their hands were  never far away from each other -- and it's clear who inspired "My Valentine." At the end of the night, the couple was deep in conversation with Paltrow and Martin.

Also on hand were Zooey Deschanel, in a strapless white lace dress and big black ribbon, Amy Smart, Jordana Brewster, Jane Fonda and boyfriend Richard Perry, stylists Tanya Gill and George Kotsiopolous, Jason Lewis and little Kristen Stewart, in a cobalt short skirt, black jacket and flat black pointed toe creeper shoes -- who spent most of the night hiding in a corner, looking like she felt very out of place.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 2012 Class Inducted

Axl Rose may regret missing this bash.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a musical celebration that in past years has included awkward moments, touching tributes and unforgettable performances, kicked off Saturday night in Cleveland's historic Public Hall where 6,000 fans, 1,400 well-heeled guests and many of music's biggest stars partied with the class of 2012.

Hard rockers Guns N' Roses headlined this year's eclectic group of inductees. Others are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys, folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the Small Faces and Faces.

Rose, the Guns N' Roses lead singer with an affinity for drama, skipped the event after years of bitter feuding with his former Appetite for Destruction bandmates, and his name earned catcalls from the crowd when it was mentioned.

Boos rang out from some of the 6,000 in attendance early in the evening when Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day, asked the crowd "who was missing" as members of Guns N' Roses were up on stage accepting their award.

"Most singers are crazy. I can vouch for that," Armstrong told the audience. He praised Rose: "He is one of the best front man to ever touch a microphone." Then added: "Sometimes you have to look back at chapters of your life to move forward."

Cleveland rocked without him. Green Day got the show started with a rousing performance.

Although he asked not to be inducted, the hall plans to enshrine him with whether Rose likes it or not. Rose was the first artist to publicly snub the honor since surviving members of punk rockers the Sex Pistols, inducted in 2006, refused to attend the ceremony.

As the ceremony approached, fans gathered on the sidewalks outside the historic venue, which hosted the Beatles in 1964, for a peek at some of rock's royalty.

Alice Cooper was the fan favorite on the red carpet, signing autographs, telling printable stories and waving in response to cheers of "Alice, Alice!"

"New York is glitz, Cleveland is the nuts and bolts," said Cooper, comparing the cities that share the rock hall induction ceremonies, which are held at New York's Waldorf-Astoria and come to Cleveland every third year.

"I'm from the Midwest. Cleveland feels normal to me," said Cooper, dressed in a decidedly Hollywood-style black no-lapel tuxedo with a flowered shirt.

Cooper, standing under a canvass canopy protecting against threatening skies, marveled at the scene and said he was glad to be around.

"It's our version of the Academy Awards," he said. "If you can stay alive to 27 — that seems to be the expiration date for rock stars."

Funk icon George Clinton made a splashy entrance, arriving in a silver bullet-shaped vehicle familiar to amusement park thrill riders. Wearing a gray herringbone coat and black fedora, he stood and waved from the back seat.

Darlene Love, who performed "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" for deceased inductee Don Kirshner, showed some love to her Rust Belt fans when she arrived. "They show their appreciation," said Love, glamorous in a one-shoulder red dress, black wrap and red clutch purse.

"Good to see you," she cooed.

Rose wasn’t the only lead singer missing.

Rod Stewart, who was to be inducted and perform with Faces, came down with the flu this week.

"I'm absolutely devastated," Stewart said in a statement. "Shattered that I'm going to miss my second induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and this time alongside my mates."

Like Guns N' Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers emerged from Los Angeles during the 1980s when Sunset Strip's rock scene was dominated by "hair" bands more concerned with their tight lycra pants and eyeliner than their sound. Not the Chili Peppers, who found their unique groove by blending funky hooks and a punk ethos.

While their lineup has undergone some changes — founding guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988 — lead singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea have survived personal highs and lows and the band remains one of music's top live acts.

Three white middle-class smart alecks from New York, the Beastie Boys were initially dismissed as beer-swilling frat boys following their 1986 debut album License To Ill, which featured songs like "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" and "Girls." But their follow-up, Paul's Boutique, was acclaimed by critics and brought the Beasties credibility in the black hip-hop community.

John Mellencamp inducted Donovan, who had a string of hits in the '60s with "Sunshine Superman," "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "Mellow Yellow."

The influential Nyro, who died in 1997, was inducted by her son, Gil Bianchini. Smokey Robinson will induct long-deserving backup bands for early rock artists. The group includes Buddy Holly's The Crickets, James Brown's The Famous Flames, Bill Hailey's The Comets and Robinson's The Miracles.

Blues artist Freddie King was being inducted as an early influence. Carole King inducted Kirshner, who launched Prince and the Eagles. New Orleans engineer Cosimo Matassa, engineer-producer Tom Dowd and engineer-producer Glyn Johns were a

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ramping Up Without Axl Rose

Guns N' Roses will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this weekend, despite Axl Rose's bombshell decision to boycott the event due to various grievances, large and small. A spokesperson confirmed that Green Day is still scheduled to introduce the gritty rock band into the Hall's ranks.

Meanwhile, Hall officials have announced a few new additions to the star-studded gala event, taking place Saturday, April 14 in Cleveland, including a full-fledged reunion of Faces, featuring Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan. Despite several near-reunions over the years, the four surviving members have not played together as Faces since 1993, four years before bassist Ronnie Lane died from multiple sclerosis. Steve Marriott, who fronted the earlier mod group Small Faces, died in 1991.

Stewart missed his own Rock Hall induction in 1994 due to an earthquake in Los Angeles two days prior.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will also perform, though key former member John Frusciante has indicated he will not attend. The band launched a tour in late March to promote their 10th studio album, I'm With You. The tour was delayed in January to allow singer Anthony Kiedis to recover from a foot injury.

Other additions to the April 14 festivities include John Mellencamp, who has been confirmed to sing with and induct folk-rock singer Donovan; LL Cool J is a new addition to help Chuck D induct the Beastie Boys; Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top will perform for and induct Freddie King, and Darlene Love will sing for Don Kirshner.

Previously announced presenters include Steven Van Zandt for the Small Faces/Faces, Chris Rock for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bette Midler for Laura Nyro. Carole King for Don Kirshner, Robbie Robertson for producers Tom Dowd, Glyn Johns and Cosimo Matassa, and Smokey Robinson for his Motown group the Miracles along with Gene Vincent's Blue Caps, Bill Haley's Comets, Buddy Holly's Crickets, James Brown's Famous Flames and Hank Ballard's Midnighters.

Green Day will induct Guns N' Roses, but no performers to fete the band have been announced. Rose wrote in an open letter on Wednesday that after listening to fans and reading "various public comments and jabs from former members" of the band, as well as assorted press coverage, he has decided to "let sleeping dogs lie" and not attend the ceremony. He asked that he "not be inducted in absentia" as a member of the band he still fronts.

"We are sorry Axl will not be able to accept his Induction in person," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation said on Wednesday night.

In addition to the induction ceremony, the Rock Hall is hosting a week of special events, including the grand opening of its library and archives, concerts -- including a gospel tribute -- and educational programs.

The Rock Hall induction ceremony will be broadcast by HBO, debuting at 9 p.m. EST/PST on May 5.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Timothy B. Schmit Gearing Up For U.S. Spring Tour

After a successful run of winter shows, vocalist, songwriter and bass player Timothy B. Schmit , known for his work as a member of the Eagles and Poco, is gearing up for a spring U.S. tour with his band, starting May 18.

For the three-week trek, Schmit and his full band will perform songs from his fifth solo album Expando, as well as Eagles and Poco classics. For tickets, go to

Schmit explains the impetus for the spring run of dates: “What I like best about doing solo shows is it gives me a chance to interact with the audience in a smaller, more intimate setting. But, don't get me wrong. I very much enjoy being a part of the Eagles and all it implies. For instance, as of this writing, I find myself in a hotel in the exotic city of Dubai where we (The Eagles) will end a short tour that started in South Africa. After a few more scattered shows in the U.S., I look forward to taking my own band out on the road and having a completely different experience. I'm a fortunate man. I get the best of both worlds.”

For Schmit, a three-time Grammy Award-winning Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, Expando presents a diverse mix of Americana, folk, country, rock and blues. Written and produced by the bassist, Expando features an eclectic array of iconic artists including the Blind Boys of Alabama, Garth Hudson, Kid Rock, Graham Nash, Van Dyke Parks, Benmont Tench and Dwight Yoakam, among others.  Highlights on the varied 11-song disc include “Downtime,” “One More Mile,” “White Boy From Sacramento,” “Good Day,” “Friday Night” and “Parachute.”

The spring trek will take Schmit and his band mates to clubs offering an intimate vibe. The tour will include an appearance at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Cherokee, TX and visit the following U.S. cities Corpus Christi (May 20, Brewster Street Ice House), Austin, TX (May 22, La Zona Rosa), Clearwater, FL (May 24, Capitol Theatre), Washington, DC (May 28, The Hamilton), New York, NY (May 29, B.B. Kings Blues Club), Glenside, PA (May 31, Keswick Theatre), Ridgefield, CT (June 2, Ridgefield Playhouse), Annapolis, MD (June 4, Rams Head On Stage), Pittsburgh, PA (June 6, Three Rivers Arts Festival), Huntington, NY (June 8, The Paramount), and Newton, NJ (June 9, Newton Theatre).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ronnie Montrose Death Ruled A Suicide

From Guitar Player - Written By Michael Molenda

It wasn’t prostate cancer that killed guitar legend Ronnie Montrose. He beat that gremlin into the dirt, as he did so many obstacles to his career and musical expression. But Montrose, who was immensely proud of being a “survivor,” simply couldn’t vanquish the clinical depression that plagued him since he was a toddler.

On March 3, 2012, he sought inner peace by taking his own life. A report by the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office, released on April 6, confirms the guitarist died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Anticipating the coroner’s findings would soon be made public, the Montrose family asked me to write this article. I was a long-time friend and colleague, and the family wanted the painful story to be told by a member of the Bay Area media that Montrose himself knew and trusted.

The family also posted the following statement on

“By now, the devastating truth of Ronnie’s death is public knowledge. We hope you can understand why we wanted to keep this news a private family matter for as long as possible. We can only hope that you will choose to celebrate Ronnie’s life, and what his music meant to you, rather than mourn his passing. Ronnie would have wanted it that way. He loved being a guitarist, a composer, a producer, and a creator of magic. He fully understood his gifts, and yet he constantly pushed himself to evolve, improve, and make better music. He did this for himself, and he did this for you, because he adored and appreciated his fans. Please keep his energy, his joy, and his love in your hearts.”

Montrose did not leave a suicide note, but his wife/manager Leighsa Montrose feels he was probably always planning for an exit.

“Ronnie had a very difficult childhood, which caused him to have extremely deep and damaging feelings of inadequacy,” said Leighsa. “This is why he always drove himself so hard. He never thought he was good enough. He always feared he’d be exposed as a fraud. So he was exacting in his self criticism, and the expectations he put upon himself were tremendous. Now I see that perhaps he didn’t want to carry these burdens for very much longer.”

The torment of self-doubt likely contributed to Montrose’s long-term alcoholism. The toxicology report showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.31% when he died—almost four times the legal limit in California. No evidence of other drugs was found in his system.

“I knew I had married an alcoholic, but Ronnie was never anything but loving,” said Leighsa. “He could be curmudgeonly and cranky, but he was never angry or abusive to me in any way. He definitely had a reputation for his bad temper and controlling personality when he was younger, but he’d always say that I got the best version of himself, and we were nearly inseparable. We ate every meal together. I went to every show he played.”

Famously mercurial, Montrose always seemed to tank a project just when things were getting good. Factor out the depression, and Montrose’s frequent conceptual and stylistic shifts seem like the actions of a true artist following his creative muse no matter what the business ramifications might be. But, knowing what Montrose was suffering through every day of his life, a different perspective arises—one of a man in constant evolution and reevaluation because he always felt he had to do much, much better.

And yet, Montrose was thrilled that 2012 was starting off on an “exponential curve.” The two-year break from the guitar he took between 2007 and 2009 in order to heal from the daily, painful effects of cancer—when his loyal bulldog, Lola, was constantly at his side, dropping him “down to a good sleep vibe”—did not permanently effect his technique. He had been touring regularly since late 2009, performing solo compositions, acoustic pieces, Montrose songs, and some Gamma material. By 2011, he was truly on fire as a player. Happily, he was captured on video just this past January 27, and the release of his one-and-only DVD, Ronnie Montrose Live at the Uptown, was one of the many joys he was anticipating in 2012. There were also more tour dates stacking up, and a Montrose reunion—celebrating Sammy Hagar’s birthday—slated for October.

“He was so looking forward to all the possibilities before him,” said Leighsa.

But the deaths of his uncle and his beloved bulldog within three weeks of each other in January 2012 (the week before, and the week after the filming of his live DVD), put Montrose in a reflective state, and likely exacerbated his ongoing depression.

On March 2, Montrose had been drinking heavily, but he got up the next day at 8 am and made breakfast for Leighsa and her mother (who resided at the Montrose home), which was his typical routine. At 10:03 am, Montrose texted Leighsa, asking if she wanted him to bring lunch down to her design studio. As she was on a deadline, and had already arranged to meet him at home for lunch, she declined his “sweet” offer.

The mood abruptly changed when Montrose texted he was glad Leighsa had “figured it out, found the hooch, and stopped him from going down the dark path.” At 11:01 am, he added, “I have the .38 in my hand and am ready to go.”

“Ronnie always had a dark and bizarre sense of humor,” said Leighsa. “And, at this point, I truly thought he was speaking in metaphors.”

But the next text—“I’m so sorry. Still have the gun in my hand. I’m going on that voyage. I love you beyond measure”—worried her, and she immediately called him and asked that he come to her studio. He agreed, saying he would be right down.

“After about four minutes, he wasn’t here, and I told my mother, ‘We’ve got to go home—something is wrong,’” said Leighsa. “When I turned to look at my phone, I saw the last text from him. I didn’t hear it come in. It said, ‘I can’t. I’ve got the gun to my head.’”

They rushed home, but it was too late. Montrose was sitting in his favorite recliner in his living room, an unregistered Smith & Wesson Model 38 Special CTG Airweight revolver in his hand, and his cell phone at his feet.

“I looked at his peaceful and calm face, and I said to him, ‘You’ve shown me I have no choice in this matter,’” said Leighsa. “I told him I loved him. I accepted what had happened. And then I sat calmly on the couch and called the Brisbane Police Department.” 

Ronnie Montrose was pronounced dead by medics from Brisbane Fire Engine #81 at noon.

“My sense of Ronnie as the persistent and decisive adventurer—as well as all his music about space, flight, and travel—speaks volumes about his choice and his action,” reflected Leighsa. “Seeing beyond was always what he did best. He was always breaking new ground, following his heart, his intuition, his star. And for reasons we may never fully understand, he made a choice to ‘lift off.’

“If you were observant enough, you could catch him at every show noodling a bit of the melody to Led Zeppelin’s ‘In My Time of Dying.’ The song contained the lyrics, ‘Well, well, well, so I can die easy. ‘Well, well, well, so I can die easy." 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Queen + Adam Lambert Playing Four Shows This Summer

With The Queen Extravaganza hitting the road next month and four concerts of their own with Adam Lambert, Queen's Roger Taylor and Brian May are expecting to make a little news of the world this year.
First up, of course, is the Extravaganza, a tribute show conceived by Taylor and cast via a reality show talent competition. The production, designed by Mark Fisher (Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, U2), kicks off its first 25-date North American run on May 26 in Quebec, and Taylor says that May is helping to get the production into gear.
"It was sort of my project at the beginning, but he's very much behind it and he's now climbed on board," Taylor says. "So you have the entire clarity of what's left of Queen, which is two people." The duo plans to introduce the nine-member Extravaganza cast -- whose four vocalists include Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen and Trans-Siberian Orchestra alumnus Jeff Scott Soto -- on the April 25-26 episodes of "American Idol" before moving rehearsals from Los Angeles to Canada. Visit for more info.

"It's been a fascinating thing and a real stab in the dark, in a way," Taylor says of the two-hour show, which will feature 40 songs from Queen's catalog. "I'm trying to cram our entire career, in an encapsulated form, into one show -- that's why we have four lead singers, to cover that kind of breadth of material. There are a lot of other (tributes) going around representing our work; some of them are very good, but I wanted there to be a really great, first-class option. So we've formed our own sort of authorized band to play our canon...with all the things we can bring to bear -- the film clips nobody's ever seen and all the production tricks that we've accumulated over the years."
Taylor plans to be on the road with the Extravaganza "for the first period of touring, fine-tuning it for the first number of shows." But don't look for him to climb behind the drum kit at all. "I think that's not a good idea," he explains. "It corrupts the idea in a way. It'd feel like giving it an artificial push, which I don't think it'll need. I want it to stand on its own. I think we've got a great band that's more than capable of doing that."
Besides, Taylor will be back in Queen mode come June and early July, when he and May play four planned shows with "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert, who they performed with during the 2009 "Idol" finals and at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. Though a July 7 Sonishphere date in the U.K. was canceled, the June 30 show in Moscow in still on, and Taylor says Queen and Lambert will also play on a bill with Elton John in Kiev as well as do two early July shows at the Hammersmith Apollo to provide "some alternative... for some of the people who had bought tickets" to Sonisphere. Details for the other three dates will be announced soon.
"We're really excited about it," Taylor says. "Adam... of course he has this unbelievable range, like Freddie (Mercury) had range. Adam can really cover it. He's an extraordinary singer and a real talent. I feel he fits into our sort of theatricality." As for doing more with Lambert, Taylor says that "we're just going to see what happens, how well it goes, how we get on." He does acknowledge, however, that he and May have been approached to be part of the Summer Olympics closing ceremonies in London but adds that "I don't think we're meant to say too much about it yet."
On Queen's periphery, Taylor is also well aware of the viral video of an inebriated man under arrest in Canada singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the rear seat of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car. "It's very funny," Taylor says, "and it's had so many hits. Many millions of people have seen that guy. "I thought it was interesting, the fact he sang it right through to the end. I just wondered what he was on."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rock “N” Blues Fest Featuring Johnny & Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Leslie West & Kim Simmonds On The Road

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said, "If you don't know the blues... there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music."

Beginning in late July, the Rock'n'Blues Fest will debut featuring five well-known players who were initially inspired to pick up their instruments due to their love for rock and blues: Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Leslie West and Kim Simmonds

"I think the blues will always be around," says legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter, who will be performing as part of the Johnny Winter Band and headlining the Rock'n'Blues Fest tour. "People need it."

As the story goes, at the age of 17, Johnny went to see B.B. King in his home state of Texas, and requested a turn at the mic. King eventually gave in and handed his guitar to Johnny, who ended up getting a standing ovation for his performance. Needless to say, it wouldn't be long before Johnny had his own legion of followers.

Johnny released his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, and the music world took notice, leading to his historic performance at Woodstock. Twenty years and several successful solo albums later, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. In the late 70's, he collaborated with another blues legend, Muddy Waters, on three separate albums of Waters', including the Grammy-winning Hard Again (1977). Over the years, he put out approximately two dozen solo albums including his most recent highly-acclaimed recording entitled, Roots, which he and his band recently performed a track from on Late Show with David Letterman. Named as one of Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Johnny Winter still remains one of the top blues/rock guitarists touring today.

Joining Johnny for the Rock'n'Blues Fest "ride" will be his younger brother, Edgar Winter, who has certainly met with considerable acclaim in his own right with such monster hits as "Free Ride" and the chart-topping rocker, "Frankenstein."

"As far as I'm concerned, blues and jazz are the great American contributions to music," comments Edgar, who will be bringing the Edgar Winter Band along for the almost two-month trek.

A multi-instrumentalist (keyboards/sax/percussion) whose music encompasses many different genres including rock, blues, jazz and pop, Edgar first hit the national spotlight with his early recording of "Tobacco Road," featured on his 1970 debut album, Entrance. Edgar would soon form the band White Trash and release two hit albums in '71 and '72 titled, Edgar Winter's White Trash and Roadwork. Hot on the heels of the certified gold album, Roadwork, Edgar would put together an entirely new outfit called The Edgar Winter Group that would originally feature guitarist Ronnie Montrose. The band's first effort, They Only Come Out at Night, would spawn both the hit singles, "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein," and remain on the charts for an incredible 80 consecutive weeks. The pivotal album would eventually reach double-platinum status, selling more than 2 million copies. Edgar achieved chart success in 2003 with "Dying To Live," featured as "Runnin" (Dying to Live) in the film Tupac Resurrection, as the Eminem-produced song hit #5 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles sales chart. With over 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar Winter has not been satisfied to ride the wave of popular music stardom. His music has been featured in several major national television and radio and advertising campaigns. In addition, his music can be heard in no fewer than 15 film and television projects.

Next on the bill is rock guitarist Rick Derringer, who's had an illustrious career as both a solo artist and critical band member.

Air guitarists will surely be out in force when Derringer breaks into his well-known rock anthem, "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo." The song continues to be a staple on rock radio and was featured in several movies including The Spirit of '76, Rush, Stag, What A Girl Wants and the cult classic, Dazed and Confused. It's a little known fact that years before his success as a solo artist, Rick had a band at the age of 17 called The McCoys that had a #1 hit in 1965 called, "Hang on Sloopy." The song would eventually be knocked out of the top spot by The Beatles' "Yesterday." A year after its release, The McCoys would find themselves as the openers for the entire Rolling Stones American tour. Although written and recorded a few years earlier, Derringer released his most famous version of the song in 1974 and never looked back. In the years to follow, Derringer would perform with such artists as Alice Cooper ("Under My Wheels"), Steely Dan ("Show Biz Kids" and "Chained Lightning"), KISS, Todd Rundgren and Weird Al Yankovic among others including both Johnny and Edgar Winter. From 1986 to 1992, Derringer toured with Cindy Lauper and co-write a song from her True Colors album titled, "Calm Inside The Storm." Before embarking on 2011's Hippiefest tour, the guitarist toured Europe with Ringo Starr as a member of Ringo's All-Starr Band.

Although perhaps best known as a founding member of the band Mountain, guitarist Leslie West began his musical career with an R&B/Blue-eyed soul rock outfit called The Vagrants, who would quickly enjoy a few hits. Shortly after the formation of Mountain with bass guitarist/producer Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N.D. Smart in 1969, the band would find themselves performing on day two of the legendary Woodstock festival in August of that year. Not too long after the event, new drummer Corky Laing would join the fold and the band would release their first Billboard Top 40 single, "Mississippi Queen." The rest is rock history as the song would be played on rock radio for years to come. Mountain would follow-up that hit with the Jack Bruce-penned, "Theme for an Imaginary Western," one of the eleven songs they performed at Woodstock. Considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal, Rolling Stone magazine once identified them as a "louder version of Cream." In the early seventies, Mountain would temporarily disband with West and Laing collaborating with Cream bassist Jack Bruce for a cutting-edge group called West, Bruce and Laing. In 1976, West would play guitar for the track, "Bo Diddley Jam" on Diddley's 20th Anniversary of Rock'n'Roll all-star album. In 2005, he contributed to Ozzy Osbourne's Under Cover album, performing guitar on a remake of "Mississippi Queen." The following year, he immersed himself in the blues, once again, with his a solo album titled, Blue Me, on the Blues Bureau International label. Later that year (2006), he would be honored by being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. In addition to fronting Mountain, West continues to record and perform on his own. He released another solo album, Unusual Suspects, in 2011.

Considered one of the architects of British blues, Kim Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid-60s after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother's blues records as a teenager. As leader and founder of the legendary blues rock band, Savoy Brown, he has 49 album releases currently available and continues to tour all over the world with the band as well as a solo acoustic act. In 1967, the band would help propel the UK blues boom movement that brought blues music back to the United States, invigorating the style forever. In the process, Savoy Brown became part of the framework that launched the rock and roll music of the 1970's, with their vast influence stretching into modern rock as we know it today. In 2011, the band celebrated its 45th anniversary by releasing a new CD titled, Voodoo Moon. Later in the year, Simmonds would release Out Of The Blue, a collection of varied material that placed him in a new setting as both singer and songwriter. Among the most loved, most respected and longest running of its genre, Savoy Brown is one of the magical names in blues rock. Kim Simmonds will be performing the best of the best at this year's Rock'n'Blues Fest.

Due to their close involvement with each other throughout their careers, it's likely that various artists on the forthcoming Rock'n'Blues Fest will unite on stage to perform some unexpected classic songs together.

One can only hope.

Five great musicians... one incredible tour of rock and blues music.

Who said, "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues?"

2012 Rock “N” Blues Fest Tour Schedule:

Sunday, July 29 - Pantages Theater in Tacoma, Washington (w/o Leslie West)
Wednesday, August 1 - The Winery in Saratoga, California
Friday, August 3 - Sam's Woodsite in Mammoth Lakes, California
Saturday, August 4 - The Grove in Anaheim, California
Sunday, August 5 - The Palms Concert Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada
Thursday, August 9 - Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts
Friday, August 10 - Newport Yachting Center in Newport, Rhode Island
Saturday, August 11 - Spy Class Ridge Winery in Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunday, August 12 - County Center in Westchester, New York
Tuesday, August 14 - Bergen Performing Arts Center in Bergen, New Jersey
Wednesday, August 15 - Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pennsylvania
Thursday, August 16 - Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey 
Friday, August 17 - South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts
Saturday, August 18 - NYCB Theatre in Westbury, New York
Sunday, August 19 - Mount Laurel Performing Arts Center in Bushkill, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, August 21 - Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey
Friday, August 24 - The Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, Florida (date billed as "Hippiefest")
Wednesday, August 29 - Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio
Thursday, August 30 - DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan
Friday, August 31 - Country Club Hills Theatre in Chicago, Illinois