Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HOT TIP: Ben Gibbard Solo Tour

Death Cab for Cutie at the Theater at MSG, Night 2   Death Cab for Cutie at the Theater at MSG, Night 2

Who knew?! I certainly didn't. But now you and I both do.

Ben Gibbard, adorable frontman of Death Cab for Cutie, with an equally adorable habit of swaying left to right the entire time he plays onstage, is having himself a little solo shindig. The thought of him without Chris Walla and the boys is both completely unexpected and perplexing. Meanwhile, I find it terribly tantalizing. Here's the deets, courtesy of Death Cab's fan club newsletter:

show dates venue & city
5-3-07 First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
5-4-07 Metro
Chicago, IL
5-7-07 Somerville Theatre
Sommerville, MA
5-8-07 Town Hall
New York, NY
5-9-07 Theatre Of Living Arts
Philadelphia, PA
5-10-07 9:30 Club
Washington, DC
5-11-07 Cat's Cradle
Carboro, NC
5-12-07 Center Stage
Atlanta, GA
5-14-07 Granada Theater
Dallas, TX
5-15-07 Emo's (Outside Stage)
Austin, TX
5-17-07 Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA
5-18-07 The Fillmore
San Francisco, CA
5-19-07 Roseland Theater
Portland, OR
5-20-07 Showbox
Seattle, WA

Joining him as openers are friends, David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) and Johnathan Rice.

Tickets for most dates go on sale March 2nd and 3rd, so find your town and...

Death Cab for Cutie at the Theater at MSG, Night 2

For a little taste of what it's like to see Been sans mates, check out this awesome clip of him performing one of my all-time fave Death Cab tunes at the Theater at Madison Square Garden:

I Will Follow You Into The Dark

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

TRAVEL ADVISORY: Head to the UK for V Festival

Get out and see the world. Better yet, get out and see how the world throws festivals! After all, festivals are a great excuse to travel, considering they're held in some of the most unusual settings (Iceland anyone?), and the cost of tickets and camping still net out to less than you'd spend on a hotel room. You'll experience the sights, sounds... and smells... that make up a truly profound cultural experience. And if you pick the right fest, the carefully curated, ne'er-to-be-repeated lineups guarantee that you'll catch some once-in-a-lifetime performances worth writing a postcard home about.

This is precisely the case with the V Festival. The UK's famous two-day fest spotlights the best of BritPop with a little dash of Yank thrown in here and there. Fans of both indie underground acts and chart-toppers alike will find something to satisfy. And if you're just a tabloid junkie, there's even Babyshambles to provide endless hours of speculation and countless photo ops for the paparazzi wannabes. What's that old saying? Oh yes, "Have Doherty, will tattle."  Or something like that.

  >>Babyshambles' Pete Doherty with Kate Moss

Here's the deets from their publicity peeps:

Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th August 2007
Hylands Park – Chelmsford
Weston Park - Staffordshire

In addition to the main players The Killers, Foo Fighters and Snow Patrol – also announced today are: Festival favourites Kasabian, party starter Pink, indie rockers James, legendary dance duo Basement Jaxx and Brighton pop entities The Kooks. Plus, BRIT award winner Amy Winehouse, Welsh group Manic Street Preachers, British Breakthrough Act BRIT winners The Fratellis, 2007 ‘Godlike Genius’ NME award holders Primal Scream and mesmerising singer songwriter Damien Rice. Also, Britrock outfit Babyshambles, alternative Manchester group, Happy Mondays, Scottish hit Paolo Nutini, indie four piece Editors and Grammy nominated KT Tunstall. Finally, chart topper Mika, soulful solo artist James Morrison, dance floor queen Sophie Ellis Bextor, US digital sensations The Fray, celebrated return act The Proclaimers and last but by no means least, platinum selling act The Goo Goo Dolls have been signed up.


Please visit for all festival information.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT: M. Ward live at Town Hall, NY, 1/26/07

M. Ward at NY's Town Hall 1/26/07

M. Ward blew our minds with his mind-bending guitar god-icism and world-weary blues vocals. A truly unforgettable performance, live at New York's Town Hall, 1/26/07.

Rare is the musician whose artistry needs no introduction, its brilliance evident even to the uninitiated ear. One accomplished enough that he can afford to let his music speak for itself, without all the pomp, circumstance and artifice of the industry machine kicking into high gear. M. Ward is such a man.

This was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt as he first stepped onto the stage of New York's Town Hall on 1/26. Manned solely with his trusty, beat-up Gibson acoustic, he stood alone, barely visible on the darkened stage, and began to strum.

M. Ward at NY's Town Hall 1/26/07

M. Ward plays without a pick. Though it might not sound terribly extraordinary, it is the very crux of his guitar sound. The magic lay in that strumming hand. With all five fingers freed up from the constraints of a pick, he was able to play both rhythm and lead, simultaneously, alone on the guitar.  

While an awkwardly bent pinky provided a stable mooring below the strings, all his remaining fingers flew into action strumming his rhythm, finger-picking his leads, working a low melody where a bass line might normally be. He raked, he plucked, and slapped like it was slap-bass. He got a deep, fat, sonorous tone playing at the open mouth of his trusty Gibson, played up the neck for a more tenor tone, coaxed ringing harmonics from the frets, and closed out with a nice bend from the head-stock. Like watching a master class, it was a feat that must be witnessed to be believed:

Yes, that's how M. Ward kicked off his concert. A silent entrance, and some mind blowing guitar god'ery.

He followed this jaw-dropper of an intro with a string of tunes from his phenomenal 2006 release, Post-War, and a handful of select gems from older albums. Though I'd seen him perform many of the same songs the previous September at Webster Hall, with a plugged-in set backed by a full touring band, the Town Hall show was my first time ever seeing him solo, with nothing but his god-given pipes, a guitar on his shoulder, a harp at his neck, and a grand piano at his fingertips.

This stripped down sound served to open the ears to the nuanced, dynamic delivery of his vocals. Like a more accessible Tom Waits, M. Ward is a storyteller, a troubadour, a raconteur, with gravel in his throat and a song in his weary heart. It's easy to key into the pain and sorrow of a Delta bluesman, and the moonshine in the backwoods cricks and hollers of American roots music that just as often gets him labeled "alt-country" as "blues."

Honestly, the first time I heard Transistor, the album that hooked me, I actually thought I was hearing an ancient recording of old-timey music, a la the O' Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. But lo and behold, the guy's barely older than I.

If this is the first you're hearing of M. Ward, don't worry. Most of the world hasn't yet caught on to the bluesman from Portland. His authenticity and lack of showy artifice is the kind of combination that keeps an artist out of TRL rotation, and off the radars of most but the die-hard indie fans, critics and bloggers. His reknown has grown organically, via "you've got to hear this guy" word of mouth. That's certainly how it happened with me.

Matt Ward is a musician's musician. Hence, indie music's tastemakers and cognoscenti have adopted him as a go-to-guy for the best in guitar work, and an American roots music brand of blues that is so old it sounds freshly new. Those with an outsider sensibility, like Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis, have identified in M. Ward a kindred spirit. Those needing to add some indie cred to their more mainstream success without sacrificing musicianship, such as Norah Jones, recruit him to produce and guest on their tracks. And newcomers hoping to garner the right kind of attention flock to his side, knowing that a shared gig with M. Ward will confer respectability and credibility to their names.

M. Ward at NY's Town Hall 1/26/07

Thus, I shouldn't have been surprised to find him inviting some "artist friends" onstage during the encore. First to step up was Omaha indie visionary Conor Oberst, of Bright Eyes and Saddle Creek label fame. He lent his guitar and vocals for a duet that, unfortunately, had obviously only been thrown together in the few minutes break before the encore. Conor was followed by Rachel Cox & Patrick Sullivan, of Brooklyn's own alt-country outfit, Oakley Hall, who lent harmonies to his world-weary vocals.

Famous friends or no, the real draw here is M. Ward, plain and simple. His unique combination of style, songwriting talent, and phenomenal ability to coax a story out of every emotion, coloring every note with a depth and range of feeling you can't soon forget. It's addictive, as are his live shows.

Want More?
-Video: Solo acoustic at Town Hall, 1/26
-Video: Fully wired at Webster Hall, 9/14
-Photos: View a gallery from the Town Hall show

Friday, February 23, 2007

FESTIVAL NEWS: Miami's Ultra Music Festival Announces Lineup

Brazilian Girls @ Irving Plaza, New Years 12/31/06

I've been told I'm not allowed to call anything "hot" anymore, now that a certain blonde has coopted the phrase. But what else can you call the country's largest, most influential festival for fans of techno and electronic music, in one of the country's sexiest, warmest cities? That's hot! Right?

For those uninitiated in the world of dance music, the Ultra Music Festival takes place annually, as the capping event of the World Music Conference in Miami. The final two nights of the WMC bring together the very best in dance music from around the globe, giving fans the rare opportunity to see the creme of the crop, in person, on stage, and all on the same two days.

Picture live acts like The Cure and Brazilian Girls playing with the world's most famous DJs, like Fat Boy Slim, Carl Cox, Sasha & Digweed, Danny Tenaglia and Erick Morillo. Then add to the list names only those truly deep in the scene would recognize, but who are the Kings of clubs from Ibiza and Berlin to New York. Even Goldie is back after years out of the mainstream limelight.

Brazilian Girls @ Irving Plaza, New Years 12/31/06

This year, the festival's 9th annual blowout takes place March 23 & 24th at Miami's Bicentennial Park. The lineup has been locked down, and appears below, courtesy o their publicity peeps...

At the two-day event where 60,000 fans are expected, festival headliner The Cure and second-night headliner Paul van Dyk will be joined by over 150 of the world's leading electronic bands and DJs ranging from all varieties of the electronic/dance music genre including house, electro, minimal, drum 'n bass, progressive, trance and more.


ULTRA LIVE! MAIN STAGE: The Cure, Tiƫsto, Miss Kittin, Shiny Toy Guns, Junkie XL, Brazilian Girls and Fedde Le Grand.

ONBEAT.COM ARENA: Deep Dish, Sander Kleinenberg (DVDJ set), Kruder & Dorfmeister, Digitalism and Boys Noize.


ULTRA MAIN STAGE: Paul van Dyk, Erick Morillo, Sasha & John Digweed, Ferry Corsten, Rabbit In The Moon, Christopher Lawrence and Sander Van Doorn.

CARL COX & FRIENDS: Fat Boy Slim, Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia, Josh Wink and Yousef.

AMNESIA IBIZA ELECTRO-TECHNO STAGE: Richie Hawtin, Mauro Picotto, Timo Maas, Tiga, DJ Hell, Tiefschwartz, Loco Dice, M.A.N.D.Y., Damian Lazarus, Marco Bailey, Mar T, Les Schmitz and Nate Campbell & Franco Munoz.

ULTRA RECORDS HOUSE ARENA: Roger Sanchez, Benny Benassi, David Guetta, DJ Dan, Bad Boy Bill, Seb Fontaine, Donald Glaude, Starkillers and King Britt.

GLOBAL VIZION BREAK BEAT hosted by MC FLIPSIDE: Hybrid (live), BT (live), Stanton Warriors, Uberzone (live), DJ Icey, Krafty Kuts, Meat Katie, Baby Anne, Storm, Johnny Dangerously, GITM (live), Rick West, Keith Mackenzie and Mark Sanchez.

CONTAGIOUS MUSIQ DRUM & BASS: Goldie, Andy C, Grooverider, Planet of the Drums (Dieselboy / Dara / AK 1200), Fabio, Ed Rush & Optical, DJ Craze, Photek, Shy FX, Bailey, SS, Teebee, Subfocus, Reid Speed, DB, Empress, The Engineer and Bass Nacho.

MC's: Damian Pinto, GQ, Skibadee, Tali, Armanni, Sharpness, J-Messinian, Question Mark and Dre.


Brazilian Girls @ Irving Plaza, New Years 12/31/06
>>Sabina Sciubba of Brazilian Girls

Thursday, February 22, 2007

FESTIVAL NEWS: Sasquatch Lineup & Ticket Details Announced

And the summer festival news just keeps on rollin' in. Still too cold to think about summer fests? March is right around the corner, and you're going to want to start formulating your plans for Memorial Day Weekend soon, anyway. And Sasquatch! is ready to deliver a wacky, music-packed picnic for the senses.

That's right, West Coasters, it's time to contemplate camping sites up Washington way, at the Gorge Amphitheatre. I suggest one with sight-lines toward the reportedly jaw-dropping views of the Columbia River Gorge. (*sigh*)  Certainly sounds divine on this cold, rainy New York day. Camping is availalbe

The Details: The 6th annual event will be held over Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th at the breathtaking Gorge Amphitheatre. The Festival features over 50 artists on 3 stages. Tickets for the festival go on-sale Saturday, March 3rd at 10:00 am.  Tickets for the 2007 Sasquatch! Music Festival are $55 (plus $1 charity) per day for the onsale weekend, then $65 thereafter. On-site camping for the festival is available for Friday, May 25th through Sunday, May 27th and reservations can be made upon ticket purchase.

Sasquatch! Music Festival 2007 confirmed line up:

Saturday, May 26th:
The Arcade Fire
Manu Chao Radio Bemba Sound System
Citizen Cope
Neko Case
The Hold Steady
Grizzly Bear
Ghostland Observatory
Two Gallants
The Slip
Loney, Dear
The Thermals
Viva Voce
The Blow
Gabriel Teodros
Sunday, May 27th:
Beastie Boys
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Bad Brains
Dandy Warhols
The Black Angels
Tokyo Police Club
Money Mark
St. Vincent
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter
Common Market
Helio Sequence
Minus The Bear
More acts will be announced over the coming weeks.

>>The Arcade Fire

HEADS-UP: Tool Tour Postponed

Tool fans will be distressed to learn that their upcoming tour has been postponed indefinitely, due to an injury in the band. Drummer Danny Carey underwent surgery yesterday for a torn bicep. Yeah, I guess a drummer really can't go without a bicep. Ack. Thankfully, their website reports that his surgery went smoothly and he is recovering well.

Rescheduled dates have yet to be announced, according to, who reported, "It is expected the band will be able to honor a previously announced co-headlining appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival in mid-June in Manchester, Tenn."

Ticket holders, fear not. According to the band's official website, "Rescheduled tour dates will be announced shortly."

FESTIVAL NEWS: SxSW Music Lineup Announced

I am crushed. (*sniff*)

Yes, I've moved beyond the disbelief and anger stages, and finally reconciled myself with the fact that I won't be heading to Austin for SxSW this year. (*sob!*) Not quite the end of the world, but still totally worth feeling sorry for oneself over.

For those of you fortunate souls who ARE heading down to arguably the coolest town in the Southwest for arguably the coolest fest of the indie year, I'm happy to pass along the news that the lineup for the music portion of the fest has been nailed down and announced. If you've held off planning, it's time to get to it, boys and girls.

Go forth with...
--a festival lineup schedule
--a private party schedule
--a list of venues
--places to eat & booze it up
--a map
...forthwith! And bone up with this incredible guide to everything you'd ever want to know about SxSW: SxSW Baby. Seriously, it's jaw-droppingly complete, so go check it out.

Wait, what's that you say? You haven't registered? Well, Hell! Get ye to the Registration page, slowpoke! The fest takes place in just a couple weeks -- 3/14-3/18 -- and you're going to need those wristbands.

Enjoy, you lucky bastard. Meanwhile, I and the poor sods like me will be living vicariously through you. Think of us fondly while you're down there living the rock and roll life.

Remember, it's not just for yourself. You're living it for the rest of us, too.

Be sure to catch the Elana James Trio, with local Austin heroine Elana James -- sometime Bob Dylan band member, Willie Nelson collaborator, and Hot Club of Cowtown swinging fiddle slinger and singer. (photo by City On Fire)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HOT TIP: Mew Coming Back to the US!

FINALLY! I've been waiting on pins and needles for the faintest hint that Mew might be heading back stateside for a new US tour, and that happy day has at last arrived. Yes, as Filter reported, they'll be back for a club tour (heaven!) in March and April.

I had the extraordinary good fortune to see Mew open for Bloc Party at McCarren Park Pool last summer. And thank goodness for that! They quickly became one of my favorite discoveries of the last year, and certainly my most favorite band of Danes. The interplay of the delicate tenor and the quasi-prog rock that backs it is intense, unusual and totally engrossing within seconds. Check out their album, And The Glass Handed Kites for proof. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Now go get tickets and see how incredibly well it translates live.

Mew tour dates, courtesy of Filter:

14 Austin, TX - SXSW [KEXP dayshow]
15 Austin, TX - SXSW [Brooklyn Vegan dayshow]
16 Austin, TX - SXSW [Under the Radar dayshow]
17 Austin, TX - La Zona Rosa [w/ The Polyphonic Spree, Satellite Party and Eisley]
20 Washington, DC - Black Cat
22 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
23 Boston, MA - Paradise
26 Toronto, Ontario - Mod Club
28 Chicago, IL - Double Door
31 Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre

02 Seattle, WA - Neumos
03 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards
04 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theatre
06 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
07 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre

Friday, February 16, 2007

FESTIVAL NEWS: Bonnaroo 2007 Festival Lineup Announced

Jack White  >>Jack White

Not sure which major multi-day fest to hit this summer? Put Bonnaroo somewhere at the top of your list. Entering its 6th year, Bonnaroo has become one of the most respected, reliably fantastic festivals of the summer season. Among the first to introduce the camping concept to the US festival circuit, they seem to have the whole thing down for their four-day, 100+ band experience, with something interesting going on for every taste and temperament, 24 hours a day.

The Police aren't the only notable reunion to be witnessed at Bonnaroo... It marks the first gig for The White Stripes after a several year hiatus. And you thought Jack had left Meg in the dust? For shame, you doubting Thomases!  TixGirl's personal faves include Martha Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Feist, Brazilian Girls, Gogol Bordello (I love you Eugene!), the Decemberists & Hot Chip. Check out the lengthy list of artists confirmed thus far, and stay tuned as more will be added.

Tickets go on sale exclusively through on Friday, February 23rd at noon (ET).

2007 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Confirmed Artists:
The Police
Widespread Panic
The White Stripes
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
The Flaming Lips
Manu Chao
The String Cheese Incident
Franz Ferdinand
Bob Weir & Ratdog
Damien Rice
Gov't Mule
Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers
The Decemberists
Kings of Leon
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Regina Spektor
The Black Keys
DJ Shadow
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Keller Williams (WMD's)
Sasha & John Digweed
Old Crow Medicine Show
The Hold Steady
North Mississippi Allstars
Fountains Of Wayne
Hot Tuna
Hot Chip
Lily Allen
John Butler Trio
Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys
Aesop Rock
The Richard Thompson Band
Dierks Bentley
Xavier Rudd
Gogol Bordelo
Junior Brown
T-Bone Burnett
Mavis Staples
Cold War Kids
Dr. Dog
Paolo Nutini
Brazilian Girls
RX Bandits
The Nightwatchman
The Slip
Girl Talk
Railroad Earth
Martha Wainwright
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Tea Leaf Green
Sam Roberts Band
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Charlie Louvin
Sonya Kitchell
Mute Math
Apollo Sunshine
Uncle Earl
James Blood Ulmer
The National
The Little Ones
Ryan Shaw

Lewis Black & Friends
Dave Attell
David Cross

Brazilian Girls @ Irving Plaza, New Years 12/31/06  Martha Wainwright @ McCarren 8/24/06  The Decemberists 11/3/06
>>Brazilian Girls, Martha Wainwright, The Decemberists

ON SALE THIS WEEKEND: The Police, Civic Tour w/ Fall Out Boy, John Legend & Corinne Bailey Rae

Your patience has paid off. The Police are releasing their first round of dates starting this weekend. Here are the deets:

New York: Madison Square Garden, 8/1 & 8/3 -- On Sale Tues, 2/20
Boston: Fenway Park, 7/28 -- On Sale Tues, 2/20
Vancouver: General Motors Place, 5/28 -- On Sale Sat, 2/17
Toronto: Air Canada Centre, 7/22 -- On Sale Sat, 2/17
Montreal: Belle Centre, 7/25 -- On Sale Sat, 2/17

This year's edition of the Honda Civic Tour features Fall Out Boy in the headlining slot, plus +44 (featuring Travis Barker & Mark Hoppus of blink-182), The Academy Is, Paul Wall & Cobra Starship.
The entire tour goes on sale Saturday, 2/17 at 10am!

Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley & Patrick Stump at The Roots Pre-Grammy Jam Session          Fall Out Boy Patrick Stump & Fall Out Fans
>>Plus: Patrick & Andy                   >>More: Patrick signed autographs for a
hanging with hip-hop royalty               gaggle of adoring fans outside Fall Out
on the red carpet at The Roots            Boy's private show for AOL at the Roxy
4th Annual Jam Session pre-               on the Sunset Strip, earlier that evening.
Grammy party on the Sunset Strip.      Watch it streaming on AOL Music Live.

What a fantastic tour pairing. Totally inspired to put the velvet voiced piano man with one of the most buzzed about girls to cross the pond as a Grammy nominee in eons. Catch them together this summer.
Tickets go on sale starting Saturday, 2/17 at 10am.
April 2007
3 - Irvine, CA - Bren Events Center
4 - San Diego, CA - Bayside Amphitheatre
6 - Universal City, CA - Gibson Amphitheatre
7 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theater-UC/Berkeley
10 - Denver, CO - Wells Fargo Theatre
12 - Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum Theater
13 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
14 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theater
16 - Akron, OH - Akron Civic Auditorium
17 - Toronto, Ontario - Hummingbird Centre for Performing Arts
19 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre
20 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
22 - Newark, NJ - New Jersey Performing Arts Center
23 - New York, NY - Theater at Madison Square Garden
25 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun
26 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theater
28 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion
29 - Norfolk, VA - Chrysler Hall

May 2007
1 - Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Live
2 - Hollywood, FL - Seminole Hard Rock Casino
4 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park Amphitheater
5 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NEW TOURS ON SALE: Norah Jones & M. Ward, Roger Waters, Tapes N Tapes


Hallelujah, I knew the 5-night stand at a teeny tiny church in NY that kicks off tonight couldn't possibly be the only opportunity to catch Arcade Fire this year! And no, you don't have to go all the way to Coachella, either. Though I heartily recommend that you do. Enough with the all this yammering, here are the tour dates announced thus far. Not quite sure when they'll go on sale. But I'll be keeping an eye out, cuz you can bet your @$$ I'm not going to go without when they sell out in the first 5 minutes, again. Nosiree. Not this time!

April 2007
26 - San Diego, CA - Spreckels Theatre
28 - Indio, CA - Coachella Valley Music Festival

May 2007
1 - Atlanta, GA - Civic Center
2 - Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
4 - Washington, DC - DAR Constitution Hall
5 - Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre
7-9 - New York, NY - venue to be announced
10 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre
12, 13 - Montreal, Quebec - Arena Maurice Richard
15, 16 - Toronto, Ontario - Massey Hall
18-20 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
27 - Portland, OR - Schnitzer Concert Hall

June 2007
1, 2 - Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre

  M. Ward at NY's Town Hall 1/26/07


We New Yorkers are lucky bastards. We get to see M. Ward open for Norah Jones at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. But don't worry, you can too! Yes, that's right -- he's opening for her full US tour. What an incredible pairing that will be. Here's the full tour itinerary, courtesy of LiveDaily. Tickets went on sale today in most cities -- Happy Valentine's Day!

April 2007
13 - Wallingford, CT - Chevy Theatre
14 - Boston, MA - Orpheum
15 - Portland, ME - Merrill Auditorium
17 - Providence, RI - Performing Arts Center
18 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
20 - Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theatre
21 - Atlantic City, NJ - Borgata Casino
23 - Washington, DC - DAR Constitution Hall
24 - Greensboro, NC - War Memorial Auditorium
26 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
27 - Nashville, TN - Tabernacle
28 - New Orleans, LA - Jazz and Heritage Festival
30 - Birmingham, AL - BJCC

May 2007
1 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre
2 - St. Louis, MO - Fox Theatre
4 - Ann Arbor, MI - Michigan Theatre
5 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theatre
6 - Minneapolis. MN - Orpheum Theatre
8 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Theatre
9 - Cleveland, OH - The State Theatre at Playhouse Square
11 - Toronto, Ontario - Massey Hall
12 - Montreal, Quebec - St. Denis Theatre

More M. Ward:
--See Photos: NY's Town Hall, 1/26/07
--Watch videos: NY's Town Hall, 1/26/07 & Webster Hall, 9/14/06

I have to admit I was really bummed I didn't bother to get tix when Waters came through town last summer. Looks like we all have a second chance! It seems the first round of tickets will go on sale starting 2/17. In the meantime, here are a few interesting tidbits re: what we can expect from the tour plus the itinerary, courtesy of LiveDaily:

The first set will feature an overview of Waters' musical career, including selections from throughout his run as Pink Floyd's primary songwriter and songs from his solo album "Amused to Death."

The second set will feature Waters and a full band performing "Dark Side of the Moon" from start to finish. The album was issued in 1973, and remained on The Billboard 200 album chart for a record-breaking 15 years.

May 2007
18 - West Palm Beach, FL - Sound Advice Amphitheatre
19 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheater
22 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena
24 - East Rutherford, NJ - Continental Airlines Arena
30 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden

June 2007
1 - Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Center
4 - Ottawa, Ontario - Scotiabank Place
6 - Quebec City, Quebec - Colisee Arena
7 - Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre
9 - Chicago, IL - United Center
13 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
15 - Irvine, CA - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
16 - Las Vegas, NV - MGM Grand Garden Arena
19 - Oakland, CA - McAfee Coliseum
21 - Vancouver, British Columbia - GM Place
23 - Calgary, Alberta - Saddle Dome
24 - Edmonton, Alberta - Rexall Place
27 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - MTS Centre
29 - Omaha, NE - Civic Center
30 - St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center

July 2007
2 - Milwaukee, WI - Marcus Amphitheatre
9 - Boston, MA - Fleet Center
13 - Hartford, CT - The Meadows
14 - Toronto, Ontario - Rogers Centre

And now for something completely different. The indie band from Minneapolis are heading back from foreign lands for a new headlining tour this Spring. Additional dates have just gone on sale, so if you thought they weren't coming to your town, check it:

February 2007

23 - St. Paul, MN - Fitzgerald Theater

March 2007
10 - Mexico City, Mexico - MX Beat at Deportivo

April 2007
16 - Columbia, MO - Blue Note
17 - St. Louis, MO - Creepy Crawl
18 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
20 - Dallas, TX - Gypsy Tea Room
21 - Austin, TX- Emo's
22 - Houston, TX - Numbers
27 - Indio, CA - Empire Polo Field (Coachella Valley Music Festival)

May 2007
2 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
4 - Portland, OR - Dante's
5 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
9 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater<br style="" rgb(0="" 102="" 0=""> 10="" omaha="" ne="" -="" sokol="" underground="">
11 - Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews
12 - Chicago, IL - The Abbey
15 - Montreal, Quebec - Le National
16 - Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
18 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza
19 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
23 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
24 - Newport, KY - Southgate House

Monday, February 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: The Police Reunion Tour Has Officially Been Announced

I know you've been following this as closely as I have, and you were glued to the tube for their Grammy performance. So you'll be as thrilled as I am to know that The Police have made it official. Or as LiveDaily put it, they've made official "the worst kept secret in the industry." Assuming none of us were on hand to witness them perform at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in person, this will be our very first opportunity to catch The Police playing live together since 1984. Now that's what I call a reunion tour. None of this "We've taken 2 years off, so let's call it a reunion tour" crap. Hallelujah!

Here's what you need to know, straight from
--Live Nation, said during the press conference that ticket prices will average a little under $100, and will be tiered at $225, $90 and $50. Tickets go on sale beginning Saturday (2/17) in select markets; more information is in the itinerary below.

--Following the initial North American shows, The Police will head to the UK, Holland, Germany and Italy, among other European destinations. The group is expected to return to North America in October for another round of shows, to be followed by stops in Mexico, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

--The setlist will consist entirely of material from The Police--none from Sting's solo career.

The Tour Schedule:
May 2007
28 - Vancouver, British Columbia - GM Place (on sale 2/17)

June 2007
6 - Seattle, WA - Key Arena
9 - Denver, CO - Pepsi Center
15 - Las Vegas, NV - MGM Grand Garden Arena
16 - Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo Festival
18 - Phoenix, AZ - US Airways Arena
26 - Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center
30 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Arena

July 2007
2 - St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center
22 - Toronto, Ontario - Air Canada Centre (on sale 2/17)
25 - Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre (2/17)
28 - Boston, MA - Fenway Park (on sale 2/20)

August 2007
1, 3 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden (on sale 2/20)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

GRAMMYS PARTY: The Roots 4th Annual Jam Session Pre-Grammy Party at the KeyClub, LA, 2/10/07

It may be a cliche, but the stars came out in force on Saturday night. Of course they did, considering The Roots came calling. ?uestlove & Co. brought friends from Hollywood and Hip-Hop, combined. That included stars from the big screen to the littlest of iPod screens, like Queen Latifah, Dave Chappelle, and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Common, Fall Out Boy, Grey's Anatomy stars, half the cast of NCIS and a historic reunion of former Prince compatriots, The Family.

Why can The Roots be counted on to have the sexiest party in town, the night before the Grammys? Four years ago, they picked up on the fact that many of their favorite artists, closest friends, and admired folk from all ends of the spectrum make their way to LA for the Grammys. So if they're all in town, why not have 'em all at a party? And if most are musicians, why not have a huge, knock-down, drag-out all-star jam? Sounds like a plan. And it's been the A-List guest list everyone in LA wants to be on ever since.

Feast your eyes on a selection of some of the heavyweights I caught on the carpet, below. For more of all the red carpet hotness, view the photo gallery. Check it:

RootsJamParty-021007 083

RootsJamParty-021007 078 common

RootsJamParty-021007 034 dave chappelle

RootsJamParty-021007 039 fall out boy's andy hurley & patrick stump

RootsJamParty-021007 019 grey's anatomy's isaiah washington

RootsJamParty-021007 059 matisyahu

RootsJamParty-021007 081 india.arie

RootsJamParty-021007 068 the roots

And now for a quick recap from The Roots crew of some of the night's more unexpected pairings:

-Queen Latifah had the crowd join in her jazzed up version of her hit "U.N.I.T.Y" with singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers adding back-up. Chambers wrote Anita Baker's Grammy-winning hit "I Apologize" among others.

-Legendary Anita Baker granted ?uestlove's personal request to perform and sang Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" with India.Arie and Matisyahu. Baker also cheered on Arie as she gave a flute solo.

-Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump sang his own funked up version of Carl Carlton's "She's A Bad Mamma Jamma" with The Roots' guitarist Captain Kirk and R&B singer Glen Lewis joining in on background vocals.

-In reference to his Comedy Central Show, Dave Chappelle told the audience that it "cuts like a knife to see Charlie Murphy doing my s@!%!."

More Roots Pre-Grammy Jam:
See more photos of the stars from the A-List event

More Grammy Coverage:
Winners photo gallery
Full list of all winners
Red carpet galleries
Listen to the nominated albums FREE!

Watch videos of Common & Michael Rappaport from the red carpet:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT: Sean Lennon at Bowery Concert Review

The Bowery Ballroom, New York, 12/19/06

Sean Lennon, Bowery Ballroom 12/19/06

There's something about being a child of an icon that sets one up for automatic dismissal by the music literati. But for those who deign to dismiss Sean Lennon on the basis of nothing more than his genetics are truly doing themselves a disservice.

Upon learning of the impending release of his new solo album, Friendly Fire, I'll admit I was prone to dismiss him, myself. But there was something urging me to overlook the usual prejudices and hope that maybe there really was something to this news. Perhaps he might actually have something to say? And thank the rock gods I bothered to listen to that little voice in the back of my mind. Within moments of adding it to my iTunes playlist, Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire has become one of my favorite albums of the new year.

Sean Lennon @ the Bowery Ballroom, 12/19/06

Let it go down in the record books that Sean Lennon stands on his own two feet as a musician. There's nothing about his songwriting or his style that rests on lineage laurels. He's paid his dues, living in and out of the spotlights his whole life, which can't have been easy. Particularly with such a controversial parental pairing. John & Yoko? Egads. That's like having one's very own public yoke to bear. And so much to live up to. It was like he was either destined to be a pop prodigy or an experimental weirdo par excellence. But to his credit, Sean worked hard to avoid such stereotypical pigeonholing. Instead, he joined Cibo Matto, as bass player for one of the less accessible experimental noisepop units to come out of NY in the late 90s. It seemed he was intent on staying out of the spotlight, intensely aware that his lineage would shine undue attention -- and criticism -- on anything he might release.

So when I learned that he'd come out with a new solo album, backed by a US tour, I wasshocked that he'd decided to take a decidedly public step back into the spotlight. It was like an invitation for the critics and hipsters to throw the verbal equivalent of rotten tomatoes at him for merely re-entering the public sphere. Imagine my surprise upon discovering that he really did have the songwriting chops to stand on his own, rather than standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before him.

Sean Lennon, Bowery Ballroom 12/19/06

Yes, you can take Sean's new tunes on their own merits, with a melodic sensibility that inspires one to hum along. His tenor isn't the most ballsy, belting presence ever. But his tuneful delivery is full of emotion, sentiment and meaning. An album full of hummable pop melodies, it's easy to miss the undercurrent of loss and sadness that underlies every song. But listen deeper and you can't miss the constant references to the deeply felt love affair that ended when his girlfriend cheated on him with his best friend. To add insult to very fresh injury, it turns out his former best friend passed away before Sean was able to attempt any kind of forgiveness or closure. So these wounds are fresh and deep. And so are these songs. Very fresh, and surprisingly deep.

Meanwhile, standing on its own merits as it does, it's still impossible to deny that Sean Lennon is John's son. He makes no overt references, and does everything he can to step out from the shadow cast by his behemoth of a father's legacy. But listen to these songs once, and you simply can't miss the genetics. It's right there in the voice. Close your eyes, and you'll swear you can hear John creep in here and there. And though these tunes sound nothing like the Beatles, their arrangements, orchestrations and harmonies are informed by a lifetime's exposure to one of the greatest songwriters ever to have walked the earth. And it's not just John. Paul is in there, as is George, and even a fill or two that couldn't have existed had it not been for the simple genius of Ringo. It's not that he's borrowing. He's just simply creating his own sound, having learned a language passed down by a lifetime surrounded by some of the greats of the modern era. Passed down in his own living room. Penny Lane may have been in his eyes and in his ears, but this comes down to a sound pulsing in his very blood.

Sean Lennon, Bowery Ballroom 12/19/06

But would Sean turn out to be nothing more than a very talented recording artist? Could he stand up to scrutiny where the true measure of a musician can be taken -- in a live setting? Sean's gig at the Bowery Ballroom on 12/19 was all the proof I needed.

First off, it was like seeing a recluse come out into the light of day. I couldn't believe I was standing there in the presence of the offspring of music deities. This was the stuff legends are made of.  Would he shrink from the harsh glare of the lights, or would he step onstage and own the joint. Well, I'm happy to tell you Sean Lennon is a very strong performer. It's intantly easy to see that he's no mere pretender, coddling his instrument of choice, staring intently at the fret board hoping he wouldn't hit any sour notes. On the contrary, this boy was born to play music. It seems to come as naturally to him as breathing.

Sean Lennon @ the Bowery Ballroom, 12/19/06

Yes, he's a bit shy. But only in the most endearing ways. He doesn't primp and preen for the photographers and journalists, or strut about as if to say, "Appreciate me, I'm rock royalty." Nor is he resentful, preemptively on guard for the snide comments one could easily imagine hurled in his direction. Instead, he's self deprecating and downright funny. He made references to his newfound success by saying that he couldn't believe he actually had a guitar tech who would tune his guitar for him. As if having someone else to do this most menial of musical tasks was completely unnatural and unexpected. He joked about his silver suit, and about what a natty dresser he'd become, despite his staunch refusals to go cleanshaven. And he talked about this gig being his first ever headlining show at the Bowery, though he'd sort of stacked the deck, considering that about 80% of the audience members were friends and family... including a very famous stage mother sitting in the balcony above. He poked fun at her, saying something along the lines of "Um, thanks Mom, just don't tell me how much it sucked after it's over. And you know she would!"

While he's not entirely comfortable in the spotlight, it's clear Sean is about to hit his stride. He's got an incredibly strong set list of fresh, original, soulful tunes, and a band that does him proud. And he was the first to point out how much of this was due to the backing up on keys of "the most beautiful woman in the world," Yuka Honda. Long and lithe in a devastating sheath of satin, his former bandmate in Cibo Matto swayed silently, tickling the electro-ivories at the edge of the stage, providing a fitting muse for him throughout the night. The frequency with which he turned to her made it seem that though he was playing to a sold out crowd at one of New York's hippest music spots, he was actually playing for her. Kind of touching, actually.

Sean Lennon @ the Bowery Ballroom, 12/19/06

Meanwhile, in a flash of inspiration that would do conspiracy theorists proud, I couldn't help but notice the similarities...

John & Yoko... Sean & Yuka.

Yuka Honda with Sean Lennon, Bowery Ballroom 12/19/06

Freudian? I leave that up to you to decipher, dear reader. But while you ponder, listen to Friendly Fire, indulge your ears in the lushly layered pop soundscapes, and hum along to the genius of this pop prodigy. I know, I know, that all sounds very grand and overly glowing. But this has taken its place among my favorite releases and live shows of 2006, and my most played albums of 2007 so far.

Sean Lennon @ the Bowery Ballroom, 12/19/06  >> Check out aphoto gallery of shots from the show