August 22, 2013 |
Close your eyes. Erase your mind. Forget about Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the various extracurricular activities that have hobbled singer-guitarist-romantic John Mayer's reputation off the playing field. Breathe, and think about the guitar while inhaling fresh air and electrified guitar licks. As a Wyoming wind blows through your hair, imagine that the John Mayer Cruise never happened. For many -- but by no means all -- such a Mayer reboot is necessary. Doing so in earnest before popping on his new album, "Paradise Valley," will offer payback for those yearning for peaceful, well-imagined guitar rock as earlier crafted by bands including the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Bros., the Grateful Dead and “Nashville Skyline”-era Bob Dylan.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 21, 2013
Mel Smith British comedian, actor and director Mel Smith, 60, an actor, writer and director who was a major force in British comedy, died of a heart attack Friday at his home in northwest London, said his agent, Michael Foster. Smith shot to fame along with his partner-in-comedy Griff Rhys Jones in "Not the Nine O'Clock News," whose take-down of earnest BBC newscasts, talk shows and commercials would influence a generation of comedians. "We probably enjoyed ourselves far too much, but we had a roller coaster of a ride along the way. Terrific business.
July 13, 2013 |
Pasadena is known for many things -- the Rose Bowl Parade, free-flying parrots and the little old ladies among them -- but it's never been considered a center for the rhythmic arts. Which is to say, few, if any, notable dance moves have been born here. You wouldn't have known this on Friday night at Levitt Pavilion-Pasadena, though. Within 20 minutes, the masterful Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure and his three-piece band had prompted a creeping minority to groove their way to the front of the stage and peacock many visionary maneuvers.
May 23, 2013 |
Consider an all-guitar jazz quartet and it's easy for your mind to conjure images of fingers burning up and down fretboards with the kind of mind-scrambling fireworks that've made heroes out of Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin. Although those approaches to guitar music aren't necessarily wrong, Anthony Wilson offers something more understated with his Seasons quartet. Assembled after being commissioned by guitar maker John Monteleone, the quartet of Wilson, Julian Lage, Chico Pinheiro and Steve Cardenas debuted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011 with a concert that became a split CD/DVD release that same year.
May 14, 2013
Ricky Gervais wants you to learn guitar. But he's not going to teach you. You are! The comic behind the BBC version of "The Office" - which in turn inspired NBC's American adaptation that ended its run this season - is back as David Brent, the bumbling manager from the fictional Wernham Hogg paper company. "I'm not going to teach you," Brent says in the video, which is part of the upcoming YouTube Comedy Week. "What? You're going to teach you. " PHOTOS: Packing up 'The Office' for good As "Office" fans know, Brent was a frustrated musician who would sometimes inflict, er, play songs for his bored or uncomfortable coworkers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 1, 2013 |
Guitarist and ethnomusicologist Bob Brozman, who progressed from an early fascination with the delta blues of the South to a consuming passion for the traditional music of Hawaii and became a leading authority on the National steel guitar, has died. He was 59. Brozman was found dead April 23 at his home in Santa Cruz. His death was ruled a suicide, according to the coroner's office of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department. Brozman emerged in Santa Cruz in the 1970s as a street musician, playing a decidedly uncontemporary American roots style of music ranging from obscure jazz tunes to Hawaiian chanties.
April 27, 2013
Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Mosquito" (Interscope) When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs began making records in 2001, it would've been difficult to imagine the band someday doing a song as "Like a Prayer"-ish as "Sacrilege," the first track on its new album. "Falling for a guy, fell down from the sky," frontwoman Karen O sings over a descending guitar figure, "Halo round his head, feathers in our bed. " Later in the tune a gospel choir shows up - as one did during the group's performance at Coachella - and pushes "Sacrilege" into true-blue power-in-the-midnight-hour territory.
April 25, 2013 |
A girl with a guitar, a roommate without a job and a drummer with a crush make up the boho trio at the center of "The Crumbles," writer-director Akira Boch's low-key multiethnic rock 'n' roll doodle about the ups and downs of Echo Park artistic strivers. Darla (Katie Hipol) works at a bookstore and dreams of rock glory, so when flighty keyboardist friend Elisa (Teresa Michelle Lee) crashes on her couch after a bad breakup, the pair start the titular band. That's about it, really, save for Elisa's party-hearty flakiness irritating Darla, flirtations between the gals and Jeff Torres' lanky, sad-eyed drummer, and occasional visits with the neighbors making a microbudget sci-fi movie.
April 22, 2013 |
This post has been updated. See note below for details. Richie Havens, the veteran folk singer whose frenetic guitar strumming and impassioned vocals made him one of the defining voices and faces of Woodstock, and by extension, of 1960s pop music, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in New Jersey, his publicist said in a statement. He was 72. The Brooklyn native with the powerhouse ripsaw voice was the opening act at the festival billed as “Three Days of Peace and Music” in upstate New York in August 1969, and galvanized rock fans as they trekked in to the festival site from across the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the country.
April 15, 2013 |
This post has been updated. See below for details. The riff that San Francisco rock band Thee Oh Sees presented at 3:50 p.m. at the closing moments of their rolling, frantic set, was still running through my head half an hour later, even though half a dozen rhythms from varying locales on the pitch of Coachella had entered it since. That's one tough damn riff, from a new song called "Dead Energy," bass-heavy, smooth-groove house beats 50 yards away in the Sahara tent. The band played a forceful bunch of songs -- at least judging by the four final ones that I saw -- that drove the tightly focused, crowd-surfing fans to adrenaline levels unimaginable the morning earlier.