NPR is streaming Jeff Beck’s new album Emotion and Commotion in full until its release on April 13, 2010. NPR calls this album “collection of songs that suit his adventurous style.. some cushioned by a symphony orchestra and another featuring the young soul singer Joss Stone.” Jeff Beck is one of the most underrated guitarists of all time and this one deserves a listen. Be sure to check it out right here.
The 34th annual Beale Street Music Festival returns to Memphis, TN this year from 4/30-5/2. A ton of artists have been booked for this year ranging from the legendary (Jeff Beck) to the laughing stock (Limp Bizkit). There are also a ton of artists that fall somewhere in between the aforementioned polar opposites. Highlights of the festival include Jeff Beck, Widespread Panic, The Flaming Lips, The Drive By Truckers, Band of Horses, Gov’t Mule, Booker T and the MGs, Leon Russell, and my personal favorite guilty pleasure Hall and Oates. The Memphis, TN based festival is a celebration of the cities rich musical past, and tries to bring together Blues, rock, gospel, R&B, alternative and soul music for a 3 day party on Beale Street. For more info on the festival and the complete lineup, check out the festival’s website here.
Lost in yesterday’s Bonnaroo hype machine was the announcement about Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival. Set to take place on June 26th at Toyota Park in Chicago, Eric has pulled together an impressive list of uber-talented acts with an emphasis on the axe work. Guitar legends set to attend include Jimmy Vaughan, BB King, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Robert Cray, Stevie Winwood, the ZZ Top, the Allman Brothers Band and the man himself Eric Clapton.
One thing is for sure, Chicago will be a rocking on June 26th, and we can look forward to some all star jam sessions. Eric will be happy, as Chicago Park will be full of “screamin guitars”. The proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Crossroads Centre, Antigua; a drug rehab center and halfway house that Clapton is heavily involved in.
A very impressive lineup for the $100 ticket price, especially after seeing the $250 Bonnaroo price yesterday. Like the previous Crossroads Guitar Festivals in 2007 and 2004, this event will be filmed and prepared for a DVD release. View the full lineup below.
Allman Brothers Band
David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos
Doyle Bramhall II
Gary Clark Jr.
In what ended up taking the better part of the day, Bonnaroo announced it’s 2010 lineup today, including headliners The Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Weezer, and The Flaming Lips performing “Dark Side of the Moon”.
The festival used Twitter and Myspace to unveil the lineup one act at a time in five minute intervals throughout the day. Now, all the dust has cleared, rumors have fallen by the wayside, and the full lineup has been announced. While the top end of this list is a bit underwhelming, there are a ton of great acts in the meat of the lineup. The festival does provide a nice mix of old and new, with performances by Guitar God Jeff Beck, John Prine, Jimmy Cliff and John Fogerty highlighting the former. Performances by indie faves the Flaming Lips, Phoenix, The National, She and Him,The Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog, and Blitzen trapper help fill in the lineup nicely.
The festival takes place 6/10 – 6/13 in Manchester TN. Tickets are on sale at the Bonnaroo website for $234.50 + Fees (Price levels 1 and 2 are already sold out!).
The Full Lineup is listed below:
Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Tenacious D, Weezer, The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs perform “Dark Side of the Moon”, The Dead Weather, Damian Marley and Nas, Phoenix, Norah Jones, Michael Franti and Spearhead, John Fogerty, Regina Spektor, Jimmy Cliff, LCD Soundsystem, The Avett Brothers, Thievery Corporation, Rise Against, Tori Amos, The National, Zac Brown Band, Les Claypool, John Prine, The Black Keys, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Jeff Beck, Dropkick Murphys, She & Him, Against Me!, The Disco Biscuits, Daryl Hall & Chromeo, Jamey Johnson, ClutchBassnectar, Kid Cudi, Baaba Maal, Kris Kristofferson, Medeski Martin & Wood, The xx, GWAR, Dan Deacon Ensemble, Tinariwen, Wale, Deadmau5, The Melvins, The Gaslight Anthem, Miike Snow, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dr. Dog, They Might Be Giants, Punch Brothers, Isis, Blitzen Trapper, Blues Traveler, Miranda Lambert, Calexico, Gary Chardonnay, OK Go, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Martin Sexton, Lotus, Baroness, Dave Rawlings Machine, Mayer Hawthorne and the County, Japandroids, Jay Electronica, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Ingrid Michaelson, The Dodos, Manchester Orchestra, The Temper Trap, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Carolina Chocolate Drops, NEEDTOBREATH, Tokyo Police Club, The Entrance Band, Local Natives, Brandi Carlile, Mumford & Sons, Rebelution, Diane Birch, Monte Montgomery, Julia Nunes, The Postelles, Lucero, Here We Go Magic, Hot Rize, Neon Indian, B.O.B
Every year about this time, the Grammy awards pop up and set the blogs and music message boards on fire with calls for relevance and better representation for non-mainstream music. This year was no different as the majority of the major awards went to the who’s who of popular radio.
In the end, the Grammy’s are what they are, year in and year out. An overblown spectacle complete with predictable awards and bloated “performances” from flavor of the month entertainers. While it is a shame that America’s largest music awards ceremony has gone the way of the FM radio, every year there are exceptions(although they rarely make the broadcast). While the calls for the Grammy’s legitimacy may have their merit, it is nice to see some great work be honored, even if they are relegated to the categories at the bottom of the page.
While I am in no position to second guess every category and say who should have won what; I can recognize some of the winners who’s work I have really appreciated this year.
Best Alternative Music Album - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix
I am not sure exactly what entails an Alternative Music Album, but I am sure this album has it. A very solid album that brought this band into another stratosphere.
Best Pop Instrumental Performance – Throw Down Your Heart – Bela Fleck
The man can play the banjo! From his “Tales of the Acoustic Planet” Series, I didn’t realize traditional African music classified as pop music, but Bella takes his show to Africa and comes out with a Grammy. Works for me.
Best Rock Instrumental Performance – A Day in The Life – Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck is a guitar monster, and this live take on the Beatle’s classic is flat out awesome. While his version of this song has been around for years, this cut from the “Live at Ronnie Scotts” gets him the trophy.
Best Pop Instrumental Album – Potato Hole – Booker T. Jones
Booker T or Booker T and the MG’s fame gets the Drive By Truckers and Neil Young as his backing band. Yes, it is pretty cool.
Best Long Form Music Video – The Beatles – All Together Now
There is just something about the Beatles winning Grammy in yet another decade that makes me grin. The “Love” Show is awesome, why should the behind the scenes documentary be any different?
Best Americana Album: Electric Dirt – Levon Helm
We knew he had the Americana sound in him. After all, he was the only American in “The Band”; widely known for their roots Americana sound. “Electric Dirt” and Levon Helm are as about as Americana as it gets, sorry Wilco!
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Neil Young Archives Vol. 1
Yeah, this is an award for packaging, but this box set was incredible, and any awards it gets are good in my book.
Best Contemporary Blues Album: Already Free – The Derek Trucks Band
Beating his wife out for this award probably won’t win him any points at home, this has to feel good.(Susan Tedeschi also nominated for her Album “Back to the River) With a pretty busy day job with the Allman Brothers, it is great to see Derek honored for his hard work on this album
Best Contemporary Folk Album: Townes – Steve Earle
This album full of songs by his mentor Townes Van Zandt was a pretty close to home project for the troubadour Earle. Too bad this one wasn’t broadcast, knowing Steve this is one acceptance speech I would have liked to have seen.
TOP 10 ALBUM COVERS
You aren’t a reputable music review website unless you have a top 10 list. It’s what all the kids are doing. So here is our first Top 10 list dedicated to the lost art of album covers. After a lengthy search through the archives and many, many hours of heavy debate, we agreed upon these 10 glorious pieces of rock art. Some of these you have seen before but they were too good to pass up. Others are long lost gems or recent additions. So take a seat and enjoy the tour through the visual side of rock n roll.
Led Zeppelin – I
Oh the humanity!
Crashing and burning their way into rock and roll history is the self-titled debut of Rock’s Loudest Band Ever! The gritty black-and-white photograph of the Hidenberg igniting in flames gives us a true sense of “shock and awe’. Much like every kid’s reaction the first time they listened to a Zeppelin album.
John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band
Late 1970; The Beatles have just broken up, the public is wondering what to do without them, Paul is trying to perfect the art of cheese rock, George is chanting Hare Krishna, and John Lennon is chilling under a tree. Shot with a consumer grade polaroid camera, this lo-fi shot was the perfect lead in to this lo-fi album that became everything the Beatles weren’t.
The Who – The Who Sell Out
Legend has it that Roger Daltrey caught pneumonia from his baked bean bath during this cover shoot (Apparently the beans were ice cold?). Well Roger, it finally paid off as you made the MOR top ten list, just what you were hoping for I am sure. Pete Townsend took things beyond this flippant cover shot to create his first concept album, complete with fake jingles and commercials linking the tracks.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
“Dark Side” is one of the more recognizable album covers on the list but also one of the most basic. The scientific nature of the triangle prism reminds us that every step of this whacked-out. psychedelic album has been meticulously thought out. While the music itself bends and weaves all over the place, the destination is always in sight. Nothing is random. Much like the infinite particles of space, there is a “method to the madness” bringing together an infinite palette of sights and sounds. Plus it looks cool under a black-light.
U2 – Rattle and Hum
The cover to U2′s “Ode to American Rock” album perfectly illustrates the contrast of the musical landscape. There aren’t many shades of gray in this musical journey through blues, soul and rock. U2 puts the spotlight on many of their American influences from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix. From Elvis Presley to BB King. And by focusing on social issues such as the civil rights movement, apartheid and war, the album isn’t afraid to make bold statements in pure black and white. The “spotlight” is also on the band themselves as this is the first release after the landmark “Joshua Tree” album and documents their subsequent tour through the American heartland.
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The boys had grand ambitions for the cover shot of their final album including a shot of themselves on the Himalayas or on the bow of a cruise liner. Instead, they opted to step out back, have a smoke and be done with it. Who knew the shot would become one of the most famous and often imitated covers of all time; serving as the definition of an iconic image. But what about Sgt. Pepper, or Revolver you might ask? Well, there is something about this cover and the album itself that serves as an amicable and harmonious end to the great run that was The Beatles.
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
You can either be one of the pack, or put your head down and fly right into it. This shot of a falcon going head first into a flock of starlings has a simplistic, organic feel to it; a lot like the album itself. The photo won the Wildlife Photograph of the Year in 2005 and appeared in National Geographic; so why not put in on a rock album. I have this record on vinyl and it catches my eye every time in a sea of other great album covers.
Jeff Beck – Guitar Shop
As a member of the Yardbirds Jeff Beck was hand picked by Jimmy Page to replace Eric Clapton. If Jimmy Page is the “wizard” of rock guitarists then Jeff Beck is most certainly “the mechanic”. It is no surprise that this Grammy-Award winning album features the master instrumentalist rolling up his sleeves to get his hands dirty. The cover depicts the often over-looked guitar great in his natural environment. As a true blue-collar musician. So while Jeff Beck never achieved the commercial success of Clapton or Page, the man still knows his way around a guitar.
Hellacopters – High Visibility
As the only Swedish rock outfit in our Top 10, the Hellacopters’ fourth album “High Visibility” manages to successfully combine two of my favorite things: Dueling guitars with angel wings. Two things you don’t normally see together, but should. Like a bizarro-painting from the Renaissance the long-lost masterpiece brings new meaning to the phrase “a choir of angels”. No harps in this outfit, just a slew of power chords, heavy distortion and few face-melting solos.
The Clash – London Calling
Truth be told, this album cover just barely beat out WISH YOU WERE HERE by fellow Brit rockers Pink Floyd. While I’m a sucker for anyone on fire, this cover really set the tone for a much larger movement. Yes this album cover is iconic. Yes it’s a middle-fingered response to Elvis Presley’s debut record. And YES it captures bassist Paul Simonon right before smashing a guitar to bits. But what really sets this cover apart from all the others is that it’s one of the first album covers in history where a British musician finally looked tough.