Monday, February 23, 2004

Concert Recommendation: Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Aragon Ballroom, Thursday, February 26

Talk about truth in advertising: Robert Randolph and Family Band's album Unclassified is on display in the Rock/Pop, Blues and Gospel sections at Tower Records.  If their full live show, admittedly only an opening slot for O.A.R., is anywhere near as smoking as their performance on the Grammy's, it'll be a great night of funk/jam band/blues/gospel/pedal steel music.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band play with O.A.R. and Toothpick at the Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, 773-561-9500 at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 26.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

An open letter to Henry Rollins:

In your spoken word performance at Chicago's Congress Theatre on February 20, you lamented your inability to find a well-read woman in Los Angeles. I have a simple solution: get yourself to Seattle this week. The city will be overrun with well-read women as it hosts the Public Library Association national conference. I can't make promises on how many will be single and within your preferred demographic since it is an aging profession, but it is a group of thousands that will be dominated by well-read females.

You will also be hard-pressed to find anyone with Nickelback in her CD player. I'll go out on a limb and guess that most attendees will have never heard of the Canadian band featuring the guy with the tragic hair and the three other guys. And I'd like to think that those librarians who have heard Nickelback would agree that you were justified in rejecting a date for liking them.

You would probably find a lot of sympathy in your views on patriotism, that is doesn't mean blindly accepting the policies of the current regime. For librarians, this mean challenging the Patriot Act's potential for civil liberties abuses. But your definition is much catchier: the land of the free, the home of the brave, the country that gave the world the Ramones and P-Funk. Pick your favorite motto for getting people to vote: "Hey, Ho, Let's Go!" or "Shit, God Damn, Get off Your Ass and Jam!"

Saturday, February 14, 2004

I'm holding off my essay extolling Prince's virtues until the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Until then, here's a piece on why we need him now, specifically because the music world has a split between serious artists and sexy musicians, that the two factions are mutually exclusive. Except for Prince.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Some random thoughts on the Grammys, both the awards themselves and telecast:

Funk ruled the night, starting with Prince's medley that reestablished his preeminence as both songwriter and performer, aided by Beyonce making like Tina Turner. The mid-evening funk jam showed off older and newer generations of funksters, even if Robert Randolph and the Family band's music sounds like it predates Earth, Wind & Fire's or George Clinton's. While most of the musical pairings looked designed to just showcase musicians from less mass media-friendly genres (Foo Fighters and Chick Corea - why?) the inspired teaming of Andre 3000 with a marching band meant that the bassline for "Hey Ya!" was played on sousaphone.

Samuel L. Jackson was also the only non-musician who justified his inclusion as a presenter. As with his appearance on other award shows, he is one of the few actors who clearly memorizes his speeches and imbues them with feeling. Based on his joining in the P-Funk jam, this wasn't just acting; he was clearly excited to be part of the music. He may have a new movie coming out, but he was the only actor who didn't look like he was just there to plug his latest project.

Why don't they create a category Best Late-Career Album by an Artist We Ignored in Their Creative and/or Commercial Heyday so that they can clear out dreck like the Eagles and leave room for artists who are currently doing quality work in the "real" categories.

The Beatles tribute was like last year's to Joe Strummer: musicians chosen because there were there already as nominees, not for any musical connection to the honoree. About all Dave Matthews has in common with the Beatles is that he probably smokes pot. About all Sting has in common with the Beatles is that, like Paul McCartney, he did his best work in a band with creative tension, and his solo work has been boring in comparison. Fortunately, the Warren Zevon tribute was done by people who worked with him and admired his music throughout his career.

And I'm disappointed that Fountains of Wayne was shut out, but perhaps they are destined to be forever on the verge of superstardom.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The rumors I reported on September 22, 2003 are true. The Pixies are reuniting, with a tour starting in April, specific dates yet to be announced. One hopes that the time apart and some rehearsals will make them as good a live band as they were on record.
Update on yesterday's post: Elvis' web site shows that his Chicago concert has been rescheduled to March 16, listed in the Appearances section ("Appearances" refers to public performances, not his "Oh no, my image!" exclamation when Homer Simpson destroyed his glasses at Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Elvis Costello's concert in Chicago has been postponed, rescheduled from March 1 to March 16, since he will be attending the Academy Awards in support of his nomination for  "Scarlet Tide," the song he cowrote with T Bone Burnett for Cold Mountain. The news does not appear to have otherwise hit the web yet, but the folks from TicketMaster actually phoned people who bought tickets.