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By Andy Argyrakis
Weekend Report: Where rock meets art
Friday, August 24, 2007
The inaugural Rock Art Show hits Blue Chip Casino and Hotel in Michigan City, Indiana this weekend, featuring over 200 art pieces, lithographs, photographs, paintings, drawings and autographed sheet music. The list of star power reads like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including memorabilia from the Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and just about every other prominent person who's ever plugged in a guitar. Aside from browsing the coveted collection, select items are for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting United Way. Hours vary by day, but a complete schedule and specifics on displays can be found at www.rockartshow.com.
It may not pack the star power of Peter Gabriel's Womad spread of world music, but this year's HAMSA-Fest (taking place Saturday and Sunday) on the south end of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood boasts indigenous sounds from North Africa, the Middle East and several other international territories. The main attraction includes a world premiere collaboration between Moroccan virtuoso Haj Youness and world-renowned tenor Cantor Alberto Mizrahi (slated to also tour the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on Monday, August 27 and to Casablanca, Morocco's Courtyard of the Mechwar City Hall on Thursday, August 30). A complete schedule or performers with background information can be found at www.gatc.org.
A break from concert and festival going may also be in order as the summer show season begins wrapping up, but that doesn't mean music must be out of the equation. Couch potatoes can still rock out to the atmospheric sounds of the Flaming Lips and catch all the over the top action that only a troupe of dancing Santa suits and aliens can bring. It's all part of the delightfully odd DVD package U.F.O's At The Zoo- The Legendary Concert In Oklahoma City (Warner Brothers/Reprise), filmed before a frenzied home field crowd.
Winehouse dates off, West revs up
Thursday, August 23, 2007
After going back and fourth on numerous occasions, Amy Winehouse's American tour was officially canceled. The highly buzzed about artist is reportedly taking time off to focus on her health, though no specifics were made available if her "Rehab" single has indeed spilled over into real life. The following statement was just issued from her publicist explaining what shows are and aren't off the books: "Due to the rigors involved in touring, Amy Winehouse has been advised to cancel her upcoming September US and Canadian tour dates. All ticket holders may obtain refunds at their point of purchase. Amy's European and UK tour dates in October and November remain in place. Plans are being made to reschedule her US tour for early 2008. Until then, Amy has been ordered to rest and is working with medical professionals to address her health."
Rapper/producer Kanye West is the midst of a much better streak of luck, starting with five MTV Video Music Award nominations and his new single "Stronger" hitting the Billboard top ten before even dropping on album. The track comes from the September 11 release Graduation (Roc-A-Fella), which features special guests Daft Punk, T-Pain and Lil' Wayne (amongst many more). One of the most usual and ambitious tag teams is with Coldplay's Chris Martin come the piano and drum track "Homecoming," which gives a shout out to West's Windy City roots.
The same city's Ike Reilly just completed a solo tour with Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave player Tom Morello (a.k.a. The Nightwatchman), but returns to his Ike Reilly Assassination project for a plugged in road trip. The group recently released We Belong To The Staggering Evening (Rock Ridge Music), which once again capitalizes on his ballsy blend of garage rock and whiskey soaked punk. Highlights on the fall journey include the famed Austin City Limits Festival and two hometown shows at Schuba's September 11.
Dylan teams with Costello, Thurston's new tour
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
In preparation of the October 1 triple disc retrospective simply titled Dylan (Columbia), the famed troubadour continues his never ending tour this fall. Though it's unlikely he'll play a lot of those hits, Bob employs some additional star power via sidekick Elvis Costello for a limited 13-date run. The trek kicks off September 22 in Duluth, Georgia and wraps up October 9 in Rochester, New York. No word yet as to whether the pair will perform together or separate, but based on Dylan's previous tours with The Dead and Willie Nelson, a collaboration at some point in the evening is at least possible.
The last time Thurston Moore released a proper solo album outside of Sonic Youth was 1995's Psychic Hearts (Geffen). Over a decade later, he steps back into the spotlight with Trees Outside The Academy (Ecstatic Peace), slated to hit stores September 18. However, he won't be alone on the project thanks to guest appearances by Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis, Charalambides' Christina Carter and Andrew MacGregor (amongst others). The tour launches September 24 in Hoboken, New Jersey and winds through October 30 in Los Angeles.
The streak of longevity continues for Jethro Tull, who are currently in the midst of a fall tour in support of a double disc CD and concert DVD release. Live at Montreux 2003 (Eagle) traces the British band's recent performance from the famed festival, split between a semi-acoustic first half and a fully plugged in second half. Ian Anderson and company run through an extensive set list of fan favorites, including "Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You," "Living In the Past," "Locomotive Breath" and "Aqualung" (not to be confused with the stage moniker of indie rocker Matt Hales).
Street Date: M.I.A., New Pornographers and more...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Maya Arulpragasam, better known on record as M.I.A., broke international ground with 2005's Arular (Interscope), followed by touring with Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliott. After two years refining her mix of South London and Jamaican influences on top of an alternative rap/hip-hop fusion, she returns with Kala (Interscope), featuring similar sounds expanded by continuous travels. The projected was recorded across several continents, boasting elements as diverse as a Timbaland guest slot and New Order sample.
When the New Pornographers released Twin Cinema (Matador) in 2005, it was heralded as a career album chalk full of pensive lyrics and near perfect power pop. It remains to be seen if today's Challengers (Matador) will connect with the same weight, though early anticipation remains intense. No matter what the reaction, faithful followers will be happy to hear Neko Case's divine pipes once again, despite her thriving solo career and early August tour with Rufus Wainwright.
Other releases include L.A. indie rockers Rilo Kiley jumping to the major leagues for Under the Blacklight (Warner Brothers), Talib Kweli's eclectic rap/jam blend on Ear Drum (Warner Brothers), plus the new DVD from recurring R&B star R. Kelly Trapped in the Closet: Chapters 13-22 (Jive). (Overkill perhaps, but yet another useful stall tactic in his dragged out sex scandal trial). Singer/songwriter Darren Hayes also returns with solo CD number three via This Delicate Thing We've Made (Powdered Sugar), channeling an inner affinity for Kate Bush and David Bowie.
Lily looses visa, Blister on the Femmes
Monday, August 20, 2007
Similar to Amy Winehouse, hip-hop flavored pop star Lily Allen had her share of concert cancellations in recent months. However, she'll be missing more than a handful as the summer comes to a close after American authorities revoked her visa (after an alleged scuffle with a photographer). That means the British singer/songwriter will miss the MTV Video Music Awards (for which she's nominated in the "Best New Artist" category), along with all of her own shows and festival dates in the immediate future. "I am so disappointed that I won't be able to come to the States at this time," Allen said in a statement. "I was really looking forward to playing these shows and being part of the Video Music Awards. I want my fans to know that I'll be back as soon as I possibly can!"
From the 1980s through today, the Violent Femmes have generally stuck to its indie ideals while concocting tongue and cheek lyrics over clever alt-rock renderings. But a recent decision from front man Gordon Gano hasn't just rustled the feathers of the band's underground fans, but also the group's bassist Brian Ritchie. Turns out Gano sold rights to the single "Blister In the Sun" to a Wendy's commercial, a decision Ritchie is suing over, claiming the promotion mars the band's artistic credibility. The suit also cites financial damages and song ownership claims, though the players will have to hide the feud on stage since the Femmes are touring throughout this year.
Veteran troubadour Joe Henry is gearing up to release Civilians (Anti-) on the fateful day of September 11, a record with several present and past tense assessments of America. Beyond the lyrics, the project also features guest piano player Van Dyke Parks on emotive tunes "Civil War" and "I Will Write My Book." Outside of his own artistry, Henry's production credits include Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann and Solomon .
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