September 26, 2011 |
On Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Ryan Seacrest made a bold announcement, the same one that peppered many of the ads for the first I Heart Radio music festival. "This is the biggest live music event in radio history," he declared of the two-night extravaganza that brought onto the same stage, among others, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Carrie Underwood, Coldplay, Steven Tyler, Sting, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Sting, Kenny Chesney and Lady Gaga. Seacrest, best known for his work on "American Idol," as host of the long-running "American Top 40" radio program and, for Angelenos, the morning drive-time DJ for KIIS-FM (102.7)
May 21, 2011 |
The Malian singer-guitarist Vieux Farka Touré plays desert blues with a personal charisma and technical finesse that have led some reviewers to dub him the North African Jimi Hendrix. It's a useful, facile handle for Western listeners. But in his edgy, exploratory hourlong Thursday night set at the Satellite, Touré summoned the tender, reflective Hendrix of "Little Wing" and "The Wind Cries Mary" more than the raunchy, insinuating belter of "Foxy Lady. " Touré's musical bloodlines are impeccable.
May 2, 2011 |
A college logic professor I once had liked to use a TV commercial for Country Time lemonade as a case study in the way savvy marketing people can create an illusion of authenticity with the right choice of words and images. The same idea, it turns out, can be applied to the musicians at the fifth annual Stagecoach country music festival over the weekend in Indio. In the ad, a white-haired grandpa in suspenders and a casual, open-collared shirt sat in his rocking chair on the back porch of an old house watching young children frolic on the lawn on a hot summer day. To the rescue comes a smiling mom holding a tray with glasses of ice-cold Country Time, a concoction of powdered chemicals and whatnot with little or no actual lemon juice.
October 14, 2010 |
The first four songs of the Punch Brothers' show Tuesday night at the El Rey Theatre said a lot about what kind of group the Punch Brothers are: two originals, one about a relationship and one about a bartender; a Norman Blake instrumental; and a loping cover of "Heart in a Cage" by the Strokes, which frontman Chris Thile referred to as a "rival New York bluegrass band. " The Strokes, Thile said, trounced the Punch Brothers in the black-leather department. "But we've got them in liver function," claimed banjo player Noam Pikelny, who added, "which actually makes them the more credible bluegrass band.
July 30, 2010 |
"Big bands are definitely not coming back," George Carlin once declared in a bit from the '80s, where he posed as Jesus Christ sitting down for an interview. While their golden age certainly has passed, what was as true then as it is now is that big bands have never entirely disappeared, and in fact, there is considerable evidence that the classic format may be enjoying a bit of a revival. Last year's Grammy-nominated John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble and the eclectic steampunk jazz of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society are just two recent examples, and a triple bill at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night headlined by the venerable Count Basie Orchestra honored the form's rich history while also showing where it stands in the present.
July 5, 2010 |
For some, the Fourth of July is a good opportunity to reread the Declaration of Independence or the writings of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams or George Washington and reacquaint themselves with the spirit behind the nation's founding. The Hootenanny Festival each Independence Day weekend serves a similar function for anyone looking to reconnect with the spirit underlying the birth of that quintessentially American musical form, rock 'n' roll. This year's lineup held out the prospect of a summit meeting between two of rock's titanic figures — Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis — along with the usual amalgam of roots rock, punk and Americana acts spread Saturday over the daylong festival's three stages in the park-like surroundings of Irvine's Oak Canyon Ranch.
June 19, 2010 |
Silvio Rodriguez, the great Cuban singer-songwriter who performed a dazzling set Thursday night at the Gibson Amphitheatre, has the type of lyrical and melodic gifts that transcend ideology, even the bitter Cold War-era rhetoric of U.S.-Cuba relations. His sublime and prolific artistry has endeared Rodriguez to generations throughout Latin America and the world. It's earned him respect even from some of those who disagree vehemently with his ardent, lifelong support for Fidel Castro.