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October 9, 2009

Your Health for a Song

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 8:28 am

As we reported this month, the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic can use some financial help. With that in mind, we just received this email from NOMC’s Bethany Bultman:

Do any of you have a funky health care-related song that you have recorded? must own the rights and recording? would be willing to  “donate” it to our digital re-release of the NOMC’s 1999 benefit cd GET YOU A HEALIN?

 If you have something, please please let me know asap. The Orchard is about to launch a world-wide download campaign complete with drop cards and solicitation to all medical dramas on TV to license some of the songs. and sell ringtones from it.

 During these hard economic times, we have gotta gotta gotta earn money to keep the NOMC alive and well!!!

If you’ve got just such a song and are willing to contribute it – or you’re looking for a way to help – contact Bethany at Bbbultman@aol.com.

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The Death That Keeps on Giving

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 8:18 am

It took Michael Jackson almost a month to get buried, so it can’t be a surprise that Jackson remains a presence long after his death. So far, the two marching bands that have played halftime at Saints game have dedicated their shows to Jackson material (last weekend, Jackson State included “Remember a Time”). No doubt, we’ll hear more.

On October 24, the Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS) will host the local performance of “Thrill the World” – a worldwide, simultaneous performance of “Thriller.” “Thrill the World” predates Jackson’s death and is in its fourth year – seen here from San Francisco in 2007 – at Zephyr Field, but this year should be particularly significant. It also should be seriously attended after people have seen online the wonder of mass Jackson dancing here, here here and here. 

To dance, you can register online at the JPAS Web site or the day of the event between 11 a.m and 1 p.m. Dancers must be available for a group practice from 4 to 6 p.m., and they need to have a zombie costume for the dance. There won’t be change rooms, so the costume should be easily thrown on.

Admission for the day is  $12 per person and parking is $1. There is a VIP package for $50, and dancers that pre-register online will get in for $10. “Thrill the World” at Zephyr Field benefits JPAS’ youth program, JPAS Jam & Jive Show Choir.

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October 7, 2009

Local Hero

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 6:27 am

Word is buzzing through local social media and email trying to scare up votes for Rebirth snare drummer Derrick (not Derek, as the fan site on Facebook says) Tabb for his work with the Roots of Music. The Roots of Music is an afterschool music education program for school-aged children that is working to keep them educated, off the streets, and connected to tradition. The Roots of Music Marching Band will next parade during Voodoo.

For more on Tabb, the Roots of Music and voting, go to CNN.com.

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Call for Proposals

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 6:07 am

The EMP Pop Conference isn’t for everybody, but for those who genuinely geek out thinking about pop music and its interaction with history and culture, it’s tough to beat. The conference size is manageable, there’s always something worth hearing, there are a lot of interesting thoughts to consider long after it’s over, and you can meet a lot of cool, smart people. Here’s the call for paper proposals for next year’s conference:

The Pop Machine: Music and Technology

Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Seattle, April 15-18, 2010

 

Popular music might be narrated as a story of sounds and the machines that make them. From the talking drum and parlor room piano to the Gibson Les Paul, from the Edison phonograph to Roland 808 beatbox and Antares Autotune software, how have pop’s contraptions reflected, inflected, and mediated musical history? What changes when we start with the technology that makes the ineffable material, and its shaping of modes of production and consumption? As we close out a decade of momentous change at all levels of popular music, this is a salient moment for rethinking the continual dialogue in pop between the new and the traditional. Note: this call is not aimed only at gearheads. What counts as human is produced in and through the use of technologies. We need to hear the voices that wrap flesh around the wiring.  

Topics can cover any era or style of music and may include, but are not limited to:

–Hardware:  the effect of equipment on how we make, record, disseminate, and fetishize music.

–Business: economies of scale(s), the demand for profit in changing technological contexts.

–Identity: how youth culture, Afromodernism, and transgender/transsexual personas, manufactured divas and real fem-bots, among other pop categories, deploy technology.

–Technology in the 2000s: iPods, computer game music, music and war, digital technology exhuming analog artifacts.

–Aesthetics: “perfect sound forever” to pixelation and lossy file formats; Computer Love erotics; power chords from amplified blues to Guitar Hero.

–“The street finds its own use for things”: working class, global, racial, and other subaltern appropriations of technology, from sound systems to rock camps for girls.

–Bodies as technologies: the “natural” as a response to changing artifices; the voice as a modifiable tool.

–Music writing and the technological formations it rests upon.

–Anxieties and doubts: folk revivalists, roots rockers, and other tech-refuseniks.

The Pop Conference at EMP|SFM, now in its ninth year, joins academics, critics, performers, and dedicated fans in a rare common discussion. The conference is sponsored by the American Music Partnership of Seattle (Experience Music Project, the University of Washington School of Music, and KEXP 90.3 FM), through a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This year’s program committee members are: writer and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda, Jasen Emmons (EMP/SFM), musician Sean Nelson, Tavia Nyong’o (NYU), Lauren Onkey (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum), Ann Powers (Los Angeles Times), Jody Rosen (Slate), Barry Shank (Ohio State), Tyina Steptoe (University of Washington), and Tim Taylor (UCLA).

 

Please send proposals of 250 words, with 50 word bio, to organizer Eric Weisbard (University of Alabama) at Eric.Weisbard@gmail.com. Deadline for proposals is Tuesday, December 15. Panel proposals, for either three presenters (90 minutes) or four (105 minutes), should include overview language and 200 word individual proposals, plus panelist bios. We welcome unorthodox proposals and proposals aimed explicitly at a general interest audience. For more information, go to http://www.empsfm.org/education/

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September 30, 2009

What Festivals Ought to Do

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 1:24 pm

I love anything that makes an event special, and Voodoo’s announcement of a one-time only, coordinated activity between French electronica duo Justice and the Life is Art Foundation. Things like that give a festival identity, even if it’s a one-off. The years that Voodoo took place on the Halloween weekend made such an impression with costumed attendees that I didn’t realize how infrequently it had been on Halloween in recent years. Anyway, here’s the press release:

In keeping with the true spirit of the Voodoo Experience, French DJ duo Justice will present a one-time only live performance in collaboration with the Life is Art Foundation. The Life is Art Foundation and Rehage Entertainment are curating a large scale 20+ piece international art installation within the Voodoo grounds featuring artists with roots as diverse as remote villages in the Upper Amazon to MIT students to the Rehage Design team. For Justice’s pre-Eminem set on Friday night, they will choreograph their performance with Illusion Eyetrap, a meditation exhibit featuring 63 enormous helium ballons. Justice will bring the installation to life as music and light mix to evoke a range of moods in a communal celebration.

Yes, it sounds nutty and pretentious, but it also sounds like something I wouldn’t get at many other festivals. And that makes all the difference.

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The Monsters of College Rock on Tour

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 8:52 am

Last night was a reminder that I’m getting older. Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, R.E.M. side man, Robyn Hitchcock side man), Peter Buck (R.E.M., Minus 5, Robyn Hitchcock side man), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate) and Linda Pitmon (don’t know her pedigree beyond drumming with Wynn for years) played One Eyed Jacks, and for many in the graying, balding crowd (who easily outnumbered the young and hair-ful), the most exciting moments came when Wynn revisited 1982’s The Days of Wine and Roses. That’s not a knock on McCaughey’s material, The Baseball Project (an album of baseball-themed songs that they released earlier this year) or Wynn’s subsequent output; it’s more a tribute to the enduring tension hardwired into those songs. Even when Buck put down the bass and added the Rickenbacher chime to “That’s What You Always Say,” the song’s central nervousness remained.

The gray in the audience matched the gray onstage, but aside from the vintage of a handful of songs, it wasn’t a gray show. Wynn and McCaughey may have made their first splash more than 20 years ago, but they remain song machines, crunching out reliably intelligent, catchy songs that rock. The show also didn’t feel old because everyone onstage seemed comfortable with who they were, gray and all (Buck seemed comfortable being the designated Bill Wyman), and the lack of pretense freed up the evening to be about a bunch of songs.

McCaughey and Wynn and many of their contemporaries (including members of the Continental Drifters) occupy an interesting space. They were once part of a cutting edge that moves on as cutting edges do, leaving them not quite members of the establishment (didn’t sell enough records), not quite punk (too old) but not quite singer/songwriters (too rock). They’ve become a gold standard for a level of craft and independence, and if that’s not as sexy as the New Thing, it’s also far more reliable.

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September 27, 2009

3-0

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 5:08 pm

The Saints are 3-0 after beating the Buffalo Bills. What will the national take on the Saints be this week – that Buffalo contained our offense or that our defense shut out the Bills (their only touchdown coming on a fake field goal)? I’d like to say the latter, but all week long ESPN dogged the defense for giving up more than 300 passing yards to Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb – many of those after the game was decided.

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September 24, 2009

Have Yourself A Croaky Little Christmas

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 6:31 am

Bob Dylan can still divide and annoy his audience in 2009 as the chatter around his upcoming Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart, demonstrates. Last week, Amazon UK posted previews of the tracks then pulled them down the same day. Before they were taken down, someone grabbed them and posted them on YouTube. On first listen, my favorite is the Conjunto version of the little known “Must Be Santa,” and I’m amused by the interplay between his growl and the chirpy, anachronistic female backing vocalists.

As an added bonus, those who check out the preview – nearly 40,000 on Thursday morning – get to see in the Comments all the Dylan arguments you’ve ever been a part of played out in text form. Anyone who can continue to confuse and outrage people that intensely after 40-plus years in music is someone who remains a vital part of the culture.

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September 23, 2009

Got Justice?

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 6:57 pm

Last week, I heard a rumor that French electronica duo Justice was off of the Voodo lineup – a bummer for me because I wanted to hear their arena-techno in its proper habitat. Tonight I got a Tweet from Voodoo saying that Justice will be part of a special performance Friday, October 30 in collaboration with the Life is Art Foundation before Eminems performance. The Life is Art Foundation will also curate an installation of large scale sculptures on the Voodoo grounds in City Park, so whatever Justice will be doing will be quite cool.

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First Take: Harry Connick, Jr.’s “Your Songs”

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 7:47 am

The on-the-fly, as-it-plays review: Is this a new album or LuxuriaMusic.com? I gather the title refers to canonical songs – ones that belong to all of us – but that means the album leans heavily on the great American songbook and a few modern-ish songs he suggests ought to be in it (Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are,” Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and Elton John’s “Your Song”). Fortunately, Connick’s arrangements are masterful, classic without being overly familiar and a lovely context for his voice. In such a setting, I haven’t been able to hear Branford and Wynton Marsalis’ contributions yet, but the liner notes say they’re there. Still, the echoes of albums by Male Vocalists Past are so strong and the strings are so smooth that if not for his voice, I could mistake this for an album from the early 1970s by a Vegas singer trying to assert his continued relevance.

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