Monday, January 21, 2008

Americana Music Steps Up; Sundance Preview


earbender applauds the Americana Music Association for choosing to recognize Martin Luther King Day for the first time this year! I really noticed when the Americana chart didn't come through yesterday (after bristling all the years it came in like clockwork on MLK day). I am pleased they stunted reports to honor those who honor the man, I feel like Stevie Wonder (left) having his song "Happy Birthday" come true.



But Stevie Wonder will never be on the Americana chart. I think there is room for more blues, reggae, r&b and jazz -- some of our best American art -- among the white singer songwriters on the charts, and in the culture of college and community radio. That's my spiel since 1984 or so and I'm sticking to it. Black Americana is a genre I named a few years ago in response to the Gavin Americana which had shown a similar lack of inclusiveness.

I am attending my second Sundance Festival this week, with an ever growing number of music artists, managers and marketers present. Is there a term for the assault on the senses of texts, twitters, street teams, bloggers, reality tv crews, news crews, reporters and whatnot yet? I hope to contribute some updates, so stay tuned.

There is a great music presence in some of the movies I highlighted including CSNY Deja Vu (directed by Bernard Shakey), Amy Redford's Guitar, Patti Smith, and the one I'm most excited about, Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Hit any of the links to learn more naturally.

I'm into environmental documentaries and Yung Chang's Up the Yangtze about the Three Gorges Damn that will result in 2 million being relocated and the landscape being changed forever. The film is about a farewell cruise to take one last look before it all goes away.

btw, charity: water is something I heard about at Sundance last year, an organization dedicated to bringing clean water to people who need it. Here's an update from Scott Harrison.

A few others include Michael Keaton's directorial debut Merry Gentleman, Jonathan Levine's second film The Wackness, stars Ben Kingsley (to busy for Cleaver though), Green Porno by Isabella Rosselini, Hell Ride, Transsiberian (a Hitchcock-esque thriller starring our buddy Woody Harrelson, Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, DeNiro in What Just Happened? or many others I haven't mentioned here.

Click here for U23D - but beware, the trailer is half credits - still, my guess is it's much better than Rattle and Hum. Larry Mullen on Elvis' bike, not cool. At least they stayed away for 20 years. I'm looking forward to anything U2, especially the Patti Smith documentary (because Bono sounds vocally inspired by her to me).

I will report back in a few days!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Championship of Advertisements

Birth of The Rosenfelder Index


earbender is about two months old and hopefully after about 25 posts, there are some noticeable trends in my observations and interests. Namely, music, sports, culture, news, exercise/health and the media. Some recent benchmarks include Martin Luther King day, Sundance, Super Bowl Whatever, Bob Marley's birthday and more.

The Rosenfelder Index is the amount it would cost to buy one unit of everything advertised during the Super Bowl. I believe you can tell a lot about the economy and our culture by what is advertised (Remember the burst of www's around 1998? Most of those companies are gone now, even massive ones like go.com.). I named it after myself and this year's findings will be released on earbender.com on January 28.

Incidentally, during the recent LSU-Ohio State Game at the Superdome, I remembered watching the Cowboys-Broncos Super Bowl in 1979 or so when the building was pretty new, state of the art and SO huge. Who could have imagined then that it would be the site of perhaps the greatest disaster relief disaster in U.S. history?

Although I am pleased to see the
Superdome back in action, I am very worried about New Orleans and what that Katrina still says about our country. My suggestion: everyone should go to JazzFest sometime in life, and why not 2008? It's an important one, there is still a lot of recovery yet to happen in New Orleans. We can all pitch in by going there and partying like a young W. (except with less coke).

Congrats to former Island artist (and close personal friend)
Shelby Lynne who received a massive story in the NY Times Magazine. I'll have some further comments after I read the whole thing, but considering Shelvis was #4 most searched on Yahoo yesterday, she retains the ability to take a nerdy rock critic to the stratosphere.

Willie Nelson is about to drop a new album, coinciding with an appearance on the Super Bowl. The Bowl has been good to Willie, and with a new tour and the album getting good reviews, the run-up to his 75th birthday in April should be fun for us fans. He won't have a wardrobe malfunction but if Trigger makes a funny silhouette like Prince did last year, I'll faint. His new video "Gravedigger" was shot at the cemetery near the graves of Herman Melville and the Great Gildersleeve, and hundreds more, some with familiar names like "Ziegler," "Benson" and "Stewart." And it was a Tuesday!

Speaking of birthdays,
Mike Watt sent the video below of him wailing on his 50th. Stand back, it's amazing. Like Rakim says, Watt gets stronger as he gets older!

I happened to space mentioning that earbender client
Leonard Cohen made the Rock Hall of Fame. Mazel tov to say the least. Speaking of brushes with fame, vibes to WUSB founder Norm Prusslin on the passing of his friend Johnny Podres, who carried him on his shoulders in the Brooklyn Dodgers' World Series victory parade in 1955.

Also around 1955,
Ian Fleming sat at his desk in Oracabessa Jamaica and wrote the incredible 007 stories. In honour of the author's 100th birthday, The UK just issued some pretty nice James Bond stamps, especially if you love vintage book cover art.

In addition to thanking everyone for visiting
earbender, I was especially pleased to host our first two visitors from the Southern Hemisphere. Please come back sometime or send me a link to your site. As the man himself would say, "if watt can do it, you can do it!"

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rootin' for the Goose


Roger Clemens press conference and Mike Wallace dance are a good contrast for today's announcement of the sole 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, Yankee legend Rich "Goose" Gossage. He was all-natural, had insane high inside heat, an intimidating presence on the field and most of all is a cool guy who loves Willie Nelson and has been going to shows for many years.

Among other tales, Goose told me a great story about eating hot chili peppers brought to him by the grounds crew in the Anaheim Stadium bullpen every time he would play the Angels.

With a 22 year career, Goose has zillions of stories and had a love for the game and his teammates. Goose Gossage signed with the Yankees in the winter of 1977, the second year of free agency in baseball. The Yankees had just been swept by the Reds in the World Series, and it set the tone for the Yankee spending/expectations that continues to this day.

The Goose actually lost the first few games. “Thurman would come to the mound,” Gossage recalled, “and he would say, ‘How are you going to lose this one?’ The first time he asked me that I couldn’t believe he was asking me. But that was Thurman.”

So now we know The Goose is a cool guy but when he got out of that little Toyota Corolla in Yankee Stadium, it was scary. He had heat like a thousand suns, was a little wild, had a big delivery and the scowl enhanced by the mustache.

"He was absolutely the most intimidating pitcher of his time," said former teammate Reggie Jackson. "Because of his motion, the speed that he threw the baseball, he was a mean son (of a gun). There were times that (catcher Thurman) Munson would just wave his hands and tell Goose to bring it." Reggie Jackson faced Rich Gossage many times before they were on the Yankees together, and after too probably.

George Brett told Baseball Digest in 2000 why he became so incensed when the pine tar homer was called an out at first: "Oh, probably the fact that it was against the Yankees and against Goose (Gossage)," Brett said. "It was just such an extraordinary thing to hit a homer off him, the thought of losing it was too much."A big part of being a Hall of Famer is individuality. Tom Verducci said in SI that changing role of the closer means they don't make them like Gossage anymore, even among today's elite, would be hall of famers, Rivera, Hoffman and Eckersley.

Does the Goose go in as a Yankee? He honed his craft and earned his nickname (a good measure of "fame") when he was on the White Sox. Gossage's Chicago and Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner told a story to Sports Illustrated about the Twins' Harmon Killebrew:

"He said, 'When you play the White Sox, you'd better get to them by the seventh. If you don't, put your bats in the bag. Goose is coming in, and you might as well go home,''' Tanner related. "That was a Hall of Famer talking.''

And finally Artie Lange, "I was happy to see this." Howard then played the great old tirade and said "Congratulations Goose, you're my kind of guy."

The Goose is the man, and he is in the Hall of Fame forever now. Congratulations Rich "Goose" Gossage!!!!!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Andy Schwartz to Sell '95 Acclaim




Andy Schwartz, the legendary publicist, adventurer and antique collector has informed us that his rare 1995 Plymouth Acclaim is on the block. There had been interest from the Peterson Auto Museum in Los Angeles about obtaining the car for its exhibits, but talks broke down over shipping costs.
  • 2.5 Liter inline four-cylinder engine
  • 58,000 odometer reading
  • White exterior with "Gray Plush" upholstry
  • AM/FM/CD removable in-dash unit
  • Current NYS Registration and Smog
  • Garaged until November 2007
  • Only 13K on rebuilt Mopar transmission
  • $1,250/owner financing available OAC
  • Contact Andy Schwartz at Gramercy7@yahoo.com for further inquiries.
Additionally, Schwartz attests that no recording artists have ever been in this car.

Why is the Batmobile up there? Well, it may not look like it, but the Acclaim was Andy's Batmobile. If you want to see a wicked page of old pictures including Sonny and Cher behind the wheel (of the Batmobile, not the Acclaim!), check here.



Friday, January 4, 2008

Crossovers are Important These Days

I know EPMD wasn't into the idea, but I think crossing over is a good thing. There is no such thing as "purity" anyhow (except for Neil Young maybe). Everyone is out for a co-branding sitch at this point, and a few interesting ones slid across my screens this week, with the Winter Classic, followed on NBC immediately by Seal on Ice. I let Seal play.

These days you have to do whatever you can to sell a song, and Seal went all out the other day. Here he is playing "Crazy," acoustic while some dude figure skates. Our man Doug Wimbish from Fats Comet and Living Colour played on the record, is this him here?



I knew someone in the stands in Buffalo, Mike Parrish of FMQB and former WBNY music director. He's always been into sports AND punk/rock, I can recall asking him about the lines in the Sabres logo even then and a fanzine the kids before him there had called "Avenue Player" about wrestling, rock, hockey and strip clubs. This is the sort of lifestyle that got me thinking about sports and music crossovers in the early 90s, which is now a huge business.

But an outdoor hockey game on New Year's Day in the snow in Buffalo is visual spectacle that hopefully got some non-fans to watch the game. I had the rare treat of attending the King-Ranger game held in Las Vegas in 1991. That was a very warm night and there was mist over the ice. Jon McHugh helped us sneak into a party where I met Jim Patrick and Tony Granato before getting bounced.

I was chilling on the phone when my tv turned from the Buffalo game to the Music of Seal on Ice. What a bizarre and lame idea someone had! But I wasn't near the remote, and it played on. Now of course, Seal is some good soccer mom music, so combining it with figure skating is not a bad call. Seal sold it well in my opinion, however, and I hope the program got some ratings as well as sales for his music. Is Seal our Lawrence Welk?

I wonder if the juice company had any extra sales from their sponsorship.

My friends think I'm lame for liking this special and one even cited that I liked Luther Vandross, so this isn't so strange. Luther Vandross was pretty awesome, I know no one is going to disagree with me on that.

But I mostly wrote this because I thought both the Winter Classic and the Seal show were pretty good tv on New Year's Day.

Here are some highlights from the Winter Classic:



Yes, crossing over is important these days. Just ask Barack Obama!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

earbender's Best of 2007 list



2007 began with saying goodbye to the great James Brown.

While most of the news from the music world has been doom over the past year, there were some bright spots and plenty to look forward to in the future. Pete Townshend's appearance at SXSW was something to be inspired by. He basically said that he is still doing things the old way on tour with the Who, but is also into the immediacy and freedom represented by what has come to be known as "Music 2.0." I am a bit scared of his computer, but I think he has the right idea about music.

The earbender ten has always been a multi-experience list. It's not a buying guide, but a living guide.

earbender's Best of 2007

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm featuring Larry David, especially the episode where Leon recommends that Larry "become another motherfucker." I was very skeptical about this story line at the start of the season, but Larry (and especially the brilliant JB Smoove as Leon) sure taught me a lesson at the end.



2. Spider-Man 3
As part of Film Week, I attended a premiere of the latest installment in the Bronx of all places. In some ways, the movies limit my imagination compared to the comic books, but it is nice to recognize scenes from the strips, which is a nice reason to see a Spider-Man movie where I know the story already for the most part. The Sandman in the sewer was straight out of Spider-Man #36. The movies are great and I'm also very into seeing Spider-Man on billboards and other advertising. I was so blown away by the co-branding on Spider-Man 3, I almost started a special edition of The Rosenfelder Index for its debut hype.

3. Of Montreal at Sundance, in the middle of the street, performing for the kids and execs. I was very into their album "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?", so to see them chop it up on "Happy" and a few originals during soundcheck was great. Here's a bit of them doing "We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling." It starts out distorted but gets awesome about a minute in.

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4. Kanye West "Graduation" album

5. Chanteuses: Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight for a few weeks at least, same w/new Suzanne Vega "Frank and Ava." Also from my back pages: PJ Harvey - White Chalk. Hats off to a nice result for Amy Winehouse. How often does the Winner of SXSW end up in the Top 40, let alone the cover of the NY Post, Rolling Stone, etc. Not to mention, she's English! Unfortunately it's more for her behavior than her music but at least the public and the media care about a rock star acting like a rock star.

6. Movie, Soundtrack and Concert: I'm Not There
After years of effort, Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar, along with Todd Haynes and Jeff Rosen, breathe new life into Dylan's catalog and his long and winding life story as an artist with a broad range of great artists. The concert at the Beacon Theatre and the after-party was a Hollywood night in NYC, as well. The quality and depth of the album and movie will be dissected for years to come, just like Bob himself.

7. Missed Classic Rock Reunions: The Police, Genesis, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin. I didn't see any of these shows but I did happen to catch The Musical Box do an amazing recreation of the 1973 Genesis tour, complete w/costumes, between-song patter and a great set list. What an incredible show, in front of one of the trekkie-est audiences imaginable. Go see them if you dare!

8. Pete Townshend was inspirational at SXSW, however. His dual career direction (the conventional reunion tour with the Who and his web activities/club gigs) is a sensible approach for us old record guys too. Mark Knopfler's album "Kill to Get Crimson" is excellent, has most of his old sound and is a good example of what made him huge. The same can't be said for most of the others in #7.

9. The Robot Guitar by Gibson is a fascinating instrument, and the biggest jump in guitar technology since the Roland GR-1 synthesizer in the 1980s. It will be interesting to see how the video game generation of guitar fans will approach the real thing. I was having a blast playing Guitar Hero with Jason Hradil and Eric Molk from Sony one night and just as I thought about getting my own, I realized that I can play a real guitar. I wonder if this will create more interest in guitar and rock music over the next 5 years or so. Considering we can see Lewis Hamilton's growth documented from a remote controlled car to a go-kart to a Formula One racer in 15 years, wouldn't it be great if a generation of Jimmy Pages and Keith Richardses grew from Guitar Hero's influence? The Robot Guitar might be a nice mix of gimmick-toy and reality for them.

Speaking of guitar heroes (and innovators), one of the great moments of 2007 was witnessing a very intimate hang between Les Paul and Willie Nelson outside Annie Balliro's Hard Rock Cafe event for Farm Aid and Willie's Peace Research Institute. They had a good hang and when Les bailed for his Iridium show, Willie kept repeating "That was Les Paul."

***See you on the second generation (with another price break!): The iPhone

10. U2 Joshua Tree Reissue
The best of the best comes back to remind us how great they have were, and for how long they have kept it going. There is no U2 reunion -- they have never broken up! I am thrilled they have reunited with Eno/Lanois again and expect their next one to be great too. They announced the Joshua Tree reissue in typical U2 style, FIRST, with a promotion from iLike.com. It featured a great interview with Bono recorded on a camera phone, singing along as he described writing the lyrics to "Wave of Sorrow."

11. Missed reality shows: A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, Bret Michaels, Peter Brady, Scott Baio, Anna-Nicole, Brittney, etc.

12. Prince for all his 2.0 moves. As talented as he is as a writer, producer and performer (hello, the Super Bowl appearance was amazing), Prince has also set the pace business-wise from the earliest days of his career. London Times giveaway, shutting down bloggers... Maybe he is on Music version 3.0 by now!

13. Robin Quivers - because no one ever puts the great Howard Stern on any lists and that means Robin does even worse. I love the show but I want to give her credit for cracking me up and being pretty on tv too. I love Artie Lange a lot and had an epic hang backstage with him thanks to Amy Salit (who was doing the usual post-appearance NY guest list hang) at the benefit for Cabbie.

*** The new Bionic Woman was utterly disappointing as was Fantastic Four 2: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. Good effects, bad story and not violent/scary enough.

Farewell Phil Rizzuto. The Scooter was a big part of our lives for over 30 years and I will always remember him as the voice of the Yankees. A huge chapter of Yankees, baseball and New York City history ends with his passing.

2008 things to look forward to:
Iron Man; new u2 album; Willie's 75th birthday box set; A new US president; Amy Winehouse gets teeth