Friday, March 28, 2008

Daniel Lanois Movie "This is What Is" LA Premiere

So many thoughts came to mind while watching the deep, sensitive and slow musical performances in the new Daniel Lanois movie which I saw last night at its L.A. Premiere at the respected art house the Vista Theatre. It has been 25 years that I have been listening to his music, and he is still one of my favorites for many reasons that did not appear in the long documentary of his working life!

Brady Blades, Sr. joined the band for a song:

First, the music. The event opened with Lanois and his bandmate Brian Blades on guitar and drums, with Daryl Johnson and another dude I can't remember on vocals and keyboards. They opened with the great song "The Messenger" and played a few others including a great jamming version of "The Maker." I smiled during that song thinking of Willie Nelson and Jerry Garcia's versions and how the song has had a good run with a certain part of the public. As Lanois said in the film, their versions are validation.

At the end of the mini-set, Billy Bob Thornton came out and joined Lanois for an unbelievable rendition of the monologue from Sling Blade, with Lanois accompanying him on some of his most subtle, dynamic, simple, rhythmic, loose, amazing guitar playing. To see a movie star perform like that with live music is rare and it was awesome. Reminded me that I worked that great soundtrack and set up the first in-store at Hear Music in Santa Monica. You could argue the whole thing, tied in with a KCRW appearance helped launch the store in L.A. and gave all involved, which didn't include Starbuck's at the time, a sense of the possibilities.

Please see below for my Daniel Lanois' greatest hits list!

And he seems to need it even with all the success. Why else make a movie that shows a lot of jamming on unknown compositions and very little about his actual process, the talent that went into making him successful. It can be seen indirectly for the most part -- his guitar playing is clearly a big part of U2's sound, just based on listening to him. We see him and U2 jamming for like a minute in the movie. It was shocking how little his three biggest acts -- U2, Gabriel and Dylan -- were in the movie. He must be pissed at Peter Gabriel, the dude was barely mentioned and his So was the album that broke Lanois as a producer (without Eno).

Eno is the whole movie, of course. His bathroom interview with Lanois, apparently while on the bowl, is fascinating and inspiring. He says it's important to show that great works and results come from the smallest, nothing ideas and that it would give people confidence to know that they have that ability too, that there is no magic or secret to what they do. Eno points out that he has always gone out of his way to show his process. Lanois gives a glimpse of a childhood newspaper clipping about him playing guitar for 53 hours straight -- the only reference to the long hours of trial and error with the studio and his instrument to get where he is today.

Two moments where he was being a genius producer: conducting the band behind Aaron Neville as he sang "With God on Our Side" and singing the melody by heart from one of the collaborations with Eno and Harold Budd by heart as they played the actual recording. He has an amazing ear, a great sense of melody, etc.

Lanois quotes Dylan as telling him "you can't buy feel." But if you have some major dough and a decent band, you can rent it out from Daniel Lanois!

Some of my favorite Lanois albums, and I've been listening for 25 years now include:

On Land - first appearance on an Eno album

Apollo - Atmospheres and Soundtracks

The Pearl - Second album w/Eno gets him shared billing (Eno/Lanois with Harold Budd)

U2's breakthrough The Unforgettable Fire

Canadian pre-fame: The Parachute Club, Martha and the Muffins

Peter Gabriel So - one of the best albums by one of the best artists ever

Bob Dylan Oh Mercy - the comeback by one of the best artists ever

Neville Brothers - best, most representative recording (not "Don't Know Much") under their own name. (Try Wild Tchopitoulas for great results)

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind - again, the comeback is the hardest thing in showbiz and they came back all the way with this one.

Willie Nelson - Teatro - First Willie album I promoted and a great album too.

and Willie always gets the last word!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good Luck Dontrelle

Watching the second game of the season live from Japan, I felt like giving a shout out to one of my favorite players, Dontrelle Willis. Here he is in his new Detroit Tiger uniform, where he was sent as a throw-in in the big trade with Florida for Migel Cabrera. He hasn't played that well the past couple of seasons, but being a lefty under 30, is a good risk for the Tigers.

He's a player with a lot of personality and by the way played pretty well against the Yankees in 2003.

Good luck in Detroit Dontrelle!

Yankees Open Without Bob Sheppard, Win

At 97, Bob Sheppard is missing opening day at Yankee Stadium, the last Opening Day ever at what we will soon refer to as "old Yankee Stadium." How about old old Yankee Stadium, while we're at it? I have three documented trips to the old old Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth Built as opposed to the house that George built and will soon destroy.

Bob Sheppard is one of the best things about the Yankees. As Reggie, Jeter, DiMaggio and all the others have paid tribute to him over the years. Kirby Puckett, Al-va-ro Es-PI-no-sa, Shi-gi-to-shi Ha-se-ga-wa, were some highlights I recall over the years. I also loved his lecture during the Giants game to stop throwing snowballs on the field. May he get well soon, he's been fighting this cold since the end of last year. At 97, as reported in the Daily News, he may not have long to go.


Last night during the postponed opener, they played a tape of Sheppard introducing Derek Je-ter. I hope we get to hear him again live soon.

Here's a picture of Mr. Girardi being congratulated on his first win as manager. Happy to hear Joe Torre won in his L.A. debut too.

And just to keep this music-oriented, here's an article about Joe Girardi allowing music in the Yankee clubhouse

Thursday, March 20, 2008

SXSW Thursday - R.E.M. at Austin City Limits, Earbender on Scobleizer

R.E.M. at Austin City Limits

It was really sweet to see R.E.M. down in the trenches working a radio conference the way they used to when the band was just starting out. I must have seen them two or three times in those days, including an acoustic show at Studio 54 with the db's on the bill and at the "New Music Awards" that CMJ had every year. I seem to recall Peter Buck throwing his guitar full force as they finished that set. R.E.M. and U2 were the only bands from the scene that got a shot in the commercial world for more than a song or two, and unlike Depeche Mode and The Smiths, made it to American Rock Radio.

Then they got the big dough from Warner Bros., Bill Berry bailed and I can't remember them doing much glad-handing since.

They have charisma and hits, and when a band like this appears during a conference of bands trying to establish themselves, it doesn't matter that they aren't hot anymore. They look confident, strong, rich, secure -- especially in comparison to the new artists. There haven't been many American guitar bands better than them since 1995 in general, makes them look even more important and accomplished.

Be that as it may, the two songs I saw at ACL included a fresh read of "Imitation of Life," a great song obscured by terrible albums on all sides. Hope you enjoy the video as much as I did taking it.

After the show ended, some dude rolled up on Stipe at the edge of the stage (such balls) and started a live streaming interview over his QIK phone. It turned out to be massive blogger Robert Scoble (, who then turned his camera on me! If you want to know my whole spiel, take a look. I look old from the bad video and lighting though.

SXSW Thursday - a good day for alt. rock gold

Carbon/Silicon at KGSR

In addition to R.E.M., Lou Reed was on the prowl and alternative gold was in full effect at SXSW 08. Maybe Pete Townshend closed the door on the British Classic Rock folks last year. I'm still waiting for the Chris Squire keynote myself.

Thanks to Jody Denberg at KGSR, I had the opportunity to see them and do some chatting with the god himself, Mick Jones. They play with a ton of exuberance and Mick's voice and guitar haven't lost any of their appeal. He has a lot of style with those fuzzy melody lines...

But what a cool dude. There are going to be some Clash reissues coming from Sony/Legacy shortly, including a recording of their show at Shea Stadium from September 82. The picture above shows me bending Mick and Tony James' ears after their rocking radio show.

Thurston Moore Groop at Threadgill's

Later that afternoon, I scammed a little vid from the other side of the fence while listening to Thurston and his solo band play. I wonder what the idea is to do it on an acoustic guitar? Seems to just illuminate how unique the man is on guitar... the visual doesn't fit the sound Thurston! I hope it's not for the Neil Young reason of having a bad back or something. I'm a huge fan of this guy and it comes back every time I see him play. I hope Yes gets into the Hall in the same year!

In the next entry about R.E.M., Rev. Coes loses his jacket at ACL.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Post-Stubb's R.E.M. Alternative Gold Flash Mob

As mentioned, seeing R.E.M. at a convention is like taking a trip in the Time Tunnel. Except for Bill Berry's retirement that is. Somehow, they really lost their zing when he left. Well, their show attracted a Night Watch of Alternative Rock Journeymen, as portrayed in this photo above. left to right:

Front Row: l to r: Dan Mackta; Jim Merlis, Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan

Back Row: l to r: Peter Standish, Alan Wolmark, Dennis Dennehy, Jim Pitt, Mark Kates, Jo Lenardi

Dennis is jeering me for street teaming for a Red Sox video last summer, I am replying as I take the picture that he's a fat bastard. Literally. It's not that often I call someone that to their face but I must admit that I've gotten a few pounds over my usual weight during the past few months! Probably takes one to know one.

This picture contains some alternative rock royalty from the 90s, folks who helped launch that part of the music business and bring it to its peak around 1995.

The week got considerably better after a good night's sleep and the Embassy breakfast.

Monday, March 17, 2008

SXSW Wednesday

By the time I took this picture, Fuze and Canada were already in full attack mode. I got parched and drank a bit of the Strawberry and it wasn't bad. I won't be drinking that stuff persistently though.

Later that day, the Paula Nelson Band rocked the Saxon Pub on South Lamar. Americana radio peeps Rick Star, Big Kev, Erin and Fred were in attendance and we thank them for their support!

Rick Star (left) has played many records (Shelby, Joseph Israel, Ike and Tina) I have promoted and his station KFAN Fredericksburg is a an eclectic one. Check it out!

Big Kev (right) I only know for about five years. He's down in the Jersey/Pennsylvania corridor and is obviously a major personality too.

Paula Nelson and her band play Austin blues-house rocking music the city is known for and do it well. Her album Lucky 13 goes for Americana adds on Monday March 24, and it was hot when Erin, music director of KFAN (second from right), reeled off all the songs from the album they are already spinning. "Fire Below," "Baby You're Mean," "Day to Day Love" and the Prine cover "Angel From Montgomery" among others! "A core artist" says Rick Star later in the week in the glow of Willie's big Texas flag back stage at the Backyard show. It's a good hang in the Hill Country. Thanks for the hospitality folks!

Later that evening, R.E.M. moved the crowd at Stubb's. I was so heartened to see a band from one of my first conventions, CMJ '84, still on the scene working it. As the conference unfolded, gold seemed to be a persistent theme. And what's wrong with that? No that's not a veiled Paul McCartney divorce reference! As Jeremy Tepper once said, "that's too today for me."

Remember, this is still only Wednesday night.

Catching Up - SXSW Tuesday

Just off the plane back from Austin, but I haven't posted in 11 days. So I will catch up one day/post at a time.

Arrived and caught the last few notes of the interactive part of SXSW. My old friend Loren Feldman is blowing up w/his site and introduced me to a few of his fellow marketer/blogger/net personalities (a shout out to Stephanie Agresta!) and share some good info and philosophy. It's not politically correct and I don't endorse all the points or opinions on his site! I hear he sparked a good bad debate during one of the interactive panels.

My first chow was Churra's: Migas con queso, no hongoles, but if you were FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER, you would know that by now. Why you would want to know it is another story (for another day).

Caught the Paula Nelson Band (on video below) doing an acoustic set at Antone's. It was only the first day, but things were already in a blur! On the marketing tip, Paula's was not an official SXSW Music show, but part of the Interactive lineup. Note the DELL slide behind the band. Billy Bob Thornton headlined, which I didn't see. I heard he did a set on Monday night at the Hilltop with Rue Coleman and Texas Boogie supporting. Poodie's sold a lot of beer that night!

Here is "Find Your Way Home Again":

Thursday, March 6, 2008

IBS warm-up for SXSW, Aloha Ray Kane

Leading up to SXSW, I am pleased to report that I will be moderating the panel on Social Networks and College Radio at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Conference this Friday 3/8 at the Penta Hotel in NYC. Let me know if you want to come. IBS is the first conference many of us attended; it predates most of the others pertaining to college radio and is concerned with the nuts and bolts of running radio stations more than it is into providing a forum for the music business. This is my first non-record company/music panel after numerous radio/record talks over the years.

(Harp magazine's blog called my SXSW panel last year "seriously geeky, but oddly compelling.") Are they still in business?

SXSW, the "Granddaddy of them all," takes off this weekend with their Film and Interactive conferences and goes full speed with music next week. "Everybody's going" doesn't quite apply to music people anymore, but other companies with different agendas have made the festival into a bombardment of the senses in the past few years.

You may not go there to introduce a product like paper towels yet, but we are getting closer to that point. Last year, I was excited (and a bit dismayed) to see Toyota's massive Yaris attack. Levi's is another major spender at SXSW, and I anticipate Monster energy drink or some other flavor will be in our faces too. Street teams? How about Major League Baseball is bringing its multimedia truck that usually parks outside the World Series and All Star Game.

I will continue to focus on my radio contacts, seeing bands and gathering content for this site, but if the quicker picker upper or the idildo need a spokesman, I'm available.

earbender received a new playlist from Radio K, KUOM Minneapolis with a lot of great info and pictures on it from live performances especially. A few they had recently were Dosh, A Place to Bury Strangers and Andrew Broder, click here to listen.

Current events and topics I'm into:

RIP Leonard Rosenman and Ray Kane

Jeff Tweedy on migraines

Arms Dealer for FARC arrested in Thailand

Behind Vermont's blowout for Obama

Rakim returns with The Archive, earbender visitors from Wyandanch!

View Robert Beck's Favorite Pictures (from Sports Illustrated)

DJ Scratchy has a great vintage reggae podcast here from wirelessfm.