Award Shows

I spent the last two evenings watching Award Shows.

Talk shows post extended interviews and performances online it might be time to relegate acceptance speeches to go online.  I would imagine it would create something interesting, they won’t be played off, it would cut an hour of air time and the memorable speeches would go viral creating an even broader audience.

Strangely enough it was the MTV Video Music Awards that seemed desperate while the Emmys seemed to be having the most fun. I think the reason is the writing and the acting strengths of the performers.  Whether it’s Usher banging his head against Nicki Monaj’s butt or MTV cutting to Taylor Swift to gauged her reaction, it’s just all too manufactured. Many of the MTV artists also seemed just be too green to perform as they looked lost on the big stage.   Besides Jay Pharoah’s witty impersonations and Sam Smith’s welcome understated performance of “Stay With Me”,  the only memorable organic moment was Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy enjoying her mom’s performance.

Blue Ivy danced with her father, Jay Z

The Emmy’s had a number of memorable moments including the numerous exchanges between Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  Not only did they do a great pre-show promo skit but they had a number of moments during the show including Bryan’s congratulatory greeting to Julia upon her win.

Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Myers, guys used to performing on a daily basis and having the benefit of great writers flourished when the had the spotlight.  The only thing missing from the Emmys was music, although there was Sara Bareilles’ performance of “Smile” during the In Memoriam section of the show.  Put Beyonce and Sam Smith on the Emmys and there would have been nothing to see at the MTV VMAs.

MTV blew up their format of playing music to creating shows for the 12-24 set.  It ‘s time to blow up their award show for something more innovative.

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New Music Tuesday

If the name Shovels & Rope sounds ominous, you should hear the music.  This husband and wife duo from Charleston, South Carolina Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst aren’t afraid to talk about those deep, dark thoughts that sometimes creep into our heads.  They remind me of another husband and wife band called The Handsome Family (you might know them from the theme song to True Detective).  But Shovels and Rope are digging new ground.  It’s interesting to hear couples harmonizing together and playing off each other as you sometimes sense there’s a little more weight to the lyrics they’re singing to each other.  Give a listen “Evil” and “The Devil Is All Around” and you’ll hear subtle nuances that make the music even more compelling than if it was just sung by one person.

Shovels & Rope Swimmin' Time

Nothing makes me more happy than to hear that Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis is putting out a solo record.  Sure the screaming guitars from the band are still thrill but but I love when J straps on an acoustic guitar in that lazy drawl.   I can’t get enough of it and he’s still as droll as ever as witnessed by this interview.

J Mascis "Tied To A Star"

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Kate Bush

It’s the return of Kate Bush!  Tuesday night she will play the first of 22 (!!!) shows at the Evertim Apollo (formerly the Hammersmith Odeon) in London.  She last played there in 1979 when she was 20. …she has not performed since…that’s 35 years between gigs, people!

1979 was ten years before Taylor Swift was born and before Taylor was dropping “sick beats” on the public, Kate was dropping music and performances that did not seem of this world.  if you love the The Smiths or Peter Gabriel or Radiohead or Coldplay or Cocteau Twins or Toria Amos or Madonna or yes, even Taylor Swift than you have a lot to be thankful for Kate Bush gracing us with her music.

Kate has not disappeared from recording.  She has released a total of ten albums and is the first UK female artist to have a top 5 record in 5 decades.  Her last being 2011′s 50 Words For Snow.

She retired from performing because of her own personal reasons, partly to escape the music industry, partly to raise a family but mostly to protect her privacy and maintain a normal private life.

So for now welcome back to the stage Kate and let’s hope she can make it out to the States very soon.

Here are a few of my favorite performances.

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Free Music Friday

The Strokes

The Strokes

In celebration of The Strokes coming to town for the FYF Fest check out this MTV concert from 2002 when the band was THE BAND.  Hard to believe 12 years have already passed since “Is This It?” hit the streets…when CDs still hit the streets, iTunes had just been released earlier that year, YouTube was still four years away and MTV was still a taste maker of music.  This will be the best 30 minutes of your day.

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Get Out

Followers of Let’s Not Get Carried Away will know that one of my favorite songs and one that I re-post every new year is The Zombies‘ “This Will Be Our Year”.

 

Thursday, The Zombies take over The Santa Monica Pier for The Twilight Series.  Hearing “Tell Her No”, “She’s Not There” “Time Of The Season” with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean should make for a perfect summer evening.

The Zombies with Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent

The Zombies with Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent

Head downtown on Friday to 7th and Figueroa to see The Belle Brigade.  Brother and sister duo Ethan and Barbara Gruska have been pulling down double shifts of late opening up for Ray Montagne and then performing as part of his back up band.  This Friday will be all theirs as they perform in their hometown.   The next time they come to town it will be to open for Ray at the Greek so go tonight and make it all about the Belle Brigade.  I’m sure they’ll  feature a number of songs from their outstanding album, “Just Because

Fig at 7th Downtown LA

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Ferguson

In times of troubling events we often turn to music to help us understand the situation.  A song can be very effective when the singer takes the role of the oppressed to help us to understand.  Neil Young (with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) brilliantly summed up the Kent State tragedy:

“Gotta get down to it Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?”

Frank Zappa uttered the sentiment that many of us feel in the song “Trouble Every Day” upon watching the Watts Riots.

“I’m not black but there is a whole lots of times I wish I could say I’m not white”

In describing the LA Riots, Sublime summed it up in “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” that it wasn’t about Rodney King

‘Cause everybody in the hood has had it up to here
It’s getting harder, and harder, and harder each and every year”

J. Cole has stepped up and released a song to help in the still on going situation in Ferguson, Missouri.  The song is called “Be Free”

It’s a powerfully, honest song in which he simply states “All We Wanna Do Is Take The Chains Off” and asking the question “Are We all alone, fighting on our own?”  He’s not asking for vengeance, but just the chance “to be free”.

Click on the photo below if you’d like to make a donation to the St. Louis area food bank to help feed kids in Ferguson and surrounding areas.

Feed the Students of Ferguson

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New Music Tuesday

Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears RevisitedIt may be new music Tuesday but today we salute an old piece of music that came out 50 years ago.  In 1964, Johnny Cash release the album  “Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian“. It’s a concept album focusing on the mistreatment and marginalization of the Native American people throughout the history of the United States.  It was quite a gamble at the time for Johnny to put this out at the height of Beatlemania but Johnny was still the king of country music and he followed his muse and it paid off as the album reach #2 on the Country album charts and contained a hit single with  “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” a #3 hit single for Cash on the Billboard country chart spoke in frank and poetic language of the hardships and intolerance they endured.

In honor of the album, some of Americana’s finest artists are releasing a re-creation of this album called “Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited”.  Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and The Milk Carton Kids take on these eight tracks.  Kris Kristofferson has been covering “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” for some time at his shows and he does a great interpretation of it.

It’s great that they’re making people remember a classic but I think it’s always best to go to the original source.

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Woodstock turns 45

It would never work today.  Can you imagine a festival with no side stages, no visual screens, they ran out of food and of course no sponsorships or VIP tents.  Nathan Hot Dogs was supposed to be there but they pulled out.   I’ve read that a local woman started to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out and this was where granola started to become a popular food item. Some people who didn’t want to lose their place near the stage hadn’t eaten for two days so thousands of cups of granola from near the stage area were passed out.

According to Smithosian:

“The concessions were quickly overwhelmed. Lines were long, and with dwindling supplies they decided to jack up the prices, charging $1 for hot dogs when the going rate was a quarter. On Saturday night, people angry about the wait and the prices burned down two of the concession stands. On Sunday morning the clown and  Merry Prankster Wavy Gravy tried to defuse the situation, announcing to the crowd, “There’s a guy up there—some hamburger guy—that had his stand burned down last night. But he’s still got a little stuff left, and for you people that still believe capitalism isn’t that weird, you might help him out and buy a couple hamburgers.” The people of Sullivan County, hearing reports of food shortages, gathered thousands of food donations to be airlifted to the site, including about 10,000 sandwiches, water, fruit and canned goods. Romney’s group, the who had been hired to help with security and other behind-the-scenes jobs, also stepped in to alleviate the food shortage, supplementing the concessions with free food lines serving brown rice and vegetables and, more famously, granola.

In any case it was a true moment in time that will never happen again, which I think is why people are still obsessed with it.  I think it’s why festivals continue to flourish in the hopes they will become their generation’s Woodstock.  But it wasn’t about the music necessarily which brought them all together but the community it created for those three days.

Here’s how CBS news covered it on August 18, 1969 and a very poignant commentary from John Laurence commending the compassion and understanding from the community.  A message that still holds true today.

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Free Music Friday

Amazon’s artist to watch this month is loaded with great artists.  If you have not heard of Fink or LP or Alvvays, now is the time to do it.

Click on the banner of LP and enjoy!

Free Muisc Amazon August 2014 Artists To Watch

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Get Out

Echo Park Rising 2014

Love LA? Love music? Love free shows? Head out to Echo Park and catch over 300 bands.  As the ad says. Free. Music. Art. Food. Fun.  I love all those things!  And it’s the perfect way to discover a new favorite band like punk-centric Cherry Glazerr or Afrobeat Mexico 68 or Alt Country band The Far West.  It’s a weekend of discovery. So go out and enjoy!

 

You may also remember that’s it’s the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain.  Eat See Hear is holding their outdoor screening of the movie at The Autry in Griffith Park.  Besides the movie, there will be music provided by the spectacularly named Chicano Batman.  As always expect plenty of food trucks.

It’s a good weekend to be an Angeleno.

 

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