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By Andy Argyrakis
Weekend Report: Mew, Kearney make headlining circuit
Friday, March 16, 2007
After a slew of support dates over the years (including a recent American run with Kasabian), Mew is stepping up to headliner status in a Stateside run that kicks off this weekend. Like just about every other artist on the planet, the Denmark-based band is starting with several shows at SxSW, such as parties for Spin, Filter and Brooklynvegan.com. From there, it's many more major cities, including New York, Toronto, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco. The trek is once again in support of And The Glass Handed Kites (Sony), which has already spawned "Special" (voted the top video of 2006 on MTV2's "Subterranean") and a ranking in The Onion's "Top 20 CDs of 2006" list.
For those in Austin, Texas not making the SxSW rounds, there's always the Million Musicians March, marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. The event is set to speak out in protest of continued overseas battles, while calling for unity and peace amongst all human kind. Though the program will be carefully organized and orchestrated, musicians and music lovers on all levels are invited to participate as players. Expect drum groups, vocal groups, ukuleles, mandolins, accordions, guitars and flag bearers, in addition to anything else attendees may bring. Those wanting to participate can meet at the Texas State Capitol at noon on Saturday, March 17 and march to Austin's City Hall for a concert and rally (www.InstrumentsforPeace.org).
Singer/songwriter Mat Kearney has also made the rounds as a warm up act, including last summer's highly attended run with Sheryl Crow and John Mayer. He also branches out this weekend as top man on the bill come VH1's "You Oughta Know" tour, based on its music video picks segment of the same name (which was already responsible for breaking The Fray and Aqualung). The troubadour's latest disc Nothing Left To Lose (Aware/Columbia) reached the top spot on SoundScan's Alternative New Artist Album Sales chart, while the single of the same name recently cracked number two at AAA radio. Other like minded artists on the bill include The Feeling and Rocco Deluca & The Burden.
B.B., Aretha top Ravinia pop list
Thursday, March 15, 2007
While B.B. King may be amongst the country's greatest bluesman and Aretha Franklin still serves as the ultimate "Queen of Soul," Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois bills these and several other notable acts as part of its summer 2007 pop line-up. Season ticket holders waited with baited breath for this year's list of legends and newcomers, though they're sure not to be disappointed with this impressive list. Aside from the aforementioned, be sure not to miss the New Orleans inspired fiesta with Madeleine Peyroux and Dr. John, Lollapalooza alums Nickel Creek and the continuously age defying Tony Bennett.
June 9-BoDeans, 7:30 p.m.
June 10-Madeleine Peyroux/Dr. John; 7 p.m.
June 15-Doobie Brothers; 8 p.m.
June 17-Seu Jorge/Cesaria Evora; 7 p.m.
June 25-Indigo Girls; 8 p.m.
June 28-Lyle Lovett/k.d. lang; 8 p.m.
June 29-Lyle Lovett/k.d. lang; 8 p.m.
June 30-ABBA: The Music; 7:30 p.m.
July 13-Steve Miller Band; 8 p.m.
July 14-Steve Miller Band; 7:30 p.m.
July 30-Natalie Cole; 8 p.m.
August 2-Buddy Guy/Susan Tedeschi/special guest NuBlu
Band featuring Carlise Guy; 7:30 p.m.
August 3-Josh Ritter/Hilary Hahn; 8 p.m.
August 10-Nickel Creek; 8 p.m.
August 15-Hootie & The Blowfish; 8 p.m.
August 17-Gipsy Kings; 8 p.m.
August 18- Gipsy Kings; 7:30 p.m.
August 19- David Sanborn/ Tower of Power; 7 p.m.
August 21-Aretha Franklin; 8 p.m.
August 22-Aretha Franklin; 8 p.m.
August 24-Peter, Paul & Mary; 8 p.m.
August 27-John Hiatt/Shawn Colvin; 8 p.m.
August 28-B.B. King/Joan Osborne; 8 p.m.
August 29-B.B. King/Joan Osborne; 8 p.m.
August 31-Tony Bennett; 8 p.m.
September 7-Judy Collins/Dar Williams/Sonya Kitchell; 8 p.m.
September 8-The Beach Boys - YEA! Highland Park Benefit Concert; 7:30 p.m.
September 15-Emmylou Harris; 7:30 p.m.
For additional information or ticket ordering, log onto www.ravinia.org.
Ravinia unveils impressive jazz line-up
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Though it may dwell in the suburbs of Chicago, Highland Park's Ravinia Festival has truly turned into a national attraction. The venue is nestled in between the area's gorgeous forestry, making for an incredibly peaceful and romantic evening on the lawn, complete with wine and a food basket. And unlike many of the country's mega-plexs that ban even a ballpoint pen, Ravina allows concertgoers to bring in anything they'd like (alcohol and all) to supplement the experience. As for those who want an up close and personal view of the artistic action, the venue boasts a spacious pavilion backed by acoustically pristine sound. While summer may still be several months away, fans from all over the Midwest and beyond are already eying tickets to the acclaimed "Jazz in June" line-up, as many shows are expected to sell out. And with that, a drum roll for the genre's 2007 roster:
June 21-Master class with Hiromi; 6 p.m.; Joshua Redman Quartet/Hiromi; 8 p.m.; Late Show with Artists from the Steans Institute
June 22-Jazz Master class; 4 p.m.; Jazz Prelude Concert with Roberta Gambarini; 6 p.m.; The Joffrey Ballet/The Ramsey Lewis Trio (world premiere); 8 p.m.; Late Show with Artists from the Steans Institute
June 23-Jazz Master class; 3:30 p.m.; Jazz Prelude Concert with Ravinia Jazz Mentors and Students; 5:30 p.m.; Jazz at Lincoln Center's Congo Square with Wynton Marsalis, Yacub Addy and Odadaa!; 7:30 p.m.; Late Show with Artists from the Steans Institute
June 24-Arturo Sandoval/Pink Martini/Diane Schuur featuring Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project; 6 p.m.
For additional information or ticket ordering, log onto www.ravinia.org. And stay tuned to this very column for tomorrow's pop series announcement.
Street Date: Aqualung muscles up
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
After becoming a critical sensation on the English underground and then migrating to the States for 2005's Strange and Beautiful (Columbia), Aqualung (a.k.a. Matt Hales) has certainly established himself. Considering his last effort merely complied the best tunes from his import releases has made the brand new Memory Man (Columbia) amongst this week's most highly anticipated and the lush Brit pop star makes it worth the wait. Expect a slew of gorgeous arrangements, poetic lyricism, mystical messages and even a higher quantity of guitars than Hales' previous piano-based projects.
Fellow British star Amy Winehouse also settles in with her sophomore American outing, appropriately titled Back to Black (Republic). The project takes upon a somewhat dark approach to songwriting, along with a dirty, stripped down soul sonic basis. Fans swooping up her CD might also consider neo soul man Musiq Soulchild, who may have switched labels from Def Soul to Atlantic, but still packs similar sultry sounds on Luvanmusiq. The album comes following a four year absence from the R&B scene, during which he was a regular on the road and contributed to Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire(Concord). While E, W & F remain an influence on this album, except to hear the group's slower bedroom sounds over a full-fledged funk onslaught.
Though not necessarily a reissue of sorts because its never been commercially available, Neil Young flashes back to the past for Live At Massey Hall (Reprise). The concert was recorded on January 19, 1971 and boasts many new songs at the time, not to mention a handful from his collaborative years with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Standouts include "Old Man," "Ohio" and "I Am a Child," available in both the CD and DVD format throughout this deluxe double disc package.
Rush retools, theAUDITION debut
Monday, March 12, 2007
Progressive rock heroes Rush are finally returning to the studio for an album of all original material following various covers and concert projects. Snakes & Arrows will bow May 1 on Anthem/Atlantic, marking the official label follow-up to 2002's Vapor Trails. But rather than the traditional grandeur and overblown indulgence, the band promises a pared down approach similar to 2004's remake effort Feedback. Conceptually the album is slated to talk about the world's various religions, and in keeping with Rush's tradition, most likely loads of metaphor laden lyrics. No word on touring plans just yet, but the key core of front man/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart have generally followed each album with a tour, unlike its slightly less consistent prog pals Yes and King Crimson, who rotate players on an outing by outing basis.
While Rush fans are sure to pop out of the woodwork, dance/rock/pop/punk ensemble theAUDITION will continue to cultivate an audience on its first ever headlining tour this spring. The 37-city outing kicks off May 13, featuring a rotating cast of support acts including My American Heart, New Atlantic and The Graduate. The Chicago based band will be pumping up Controversy Loves Company (Victory) and sounds akin to Panic! At the Disco, The Killers and The Academy Is... In fact, gigs with that latter act helped land the band a record deal two years ago, which was also in the heat of the initial Fall Out Boy craze.
Fellow Midwesterners On a Sun have also been active on the road, opening for the likes of Soul Asylum, plus several appearances at America's largest multi-band gathering Milwaukee Summerfest. But rather than busting their butts on the road performing a blend of The Pixies, Pink Floyd and Nirvana, members have been confined to their computers in the Music Nation video competition for a deal with Epic Records. The band's single "Unraveling" recently cracked the top hundred in the competition and is steadily rising at the following link: http://rock.musicnation.com/va45. When the winner is finally announced later this week, On a Sun will be in Austin, Texas performing no less than four shows, split between SxSW and the Red Gorilla Music Conference.