BEING BESSMAN

ROSANNE CASH & JOHN FOGERTY

ROSANNE CASH & JOHN FOGERTY
ROSANNE CASH & JOHN FOGERTY Journey South To Self-Discovery and Rediscovery Do yourself a favor: If you get a chance to see Rosanne Cash’s show during her current The River & the Thread tour, grab it. With a fabulous seven-piece backing band, she performs the entire album from start to finish, explaining each song and the concept behind them, as well as The River & the Thread as a whole, which resulted from a series of trips the longtime... 

ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS

ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS
Carrie Underwood ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS And The Winner … Will Not Be Televised The Grammy Awards are bad enough, what with presenting the bulk of the awards—the ones we really care about, of course—off camera and loading the show itself mainly with pop/rap superstar hokum. But leave it to the Academy of Country Music to really turn the legitimate award show concept upside down. Dean Dillon In what reads like a preemptive strike, the... 

LEO KOTTKE

LEO KOTTKE
LEO KOTTKE Ever Fascinatingly Weird Interplay Between Mind and Hands I don’t know what it’s like being Leo Kottke, let alone playing 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars the way he does so singularly. But it’s exhilarating to the point of exhaustion just watching him. He talks, pauses, plays, pauses, talks, etc., etc., sometimes with coherence, always with edge-of-the-seat suspense: Will he finish a story? Will he start a tune? Is there any difference... 

MERLE HAGGARD

MERLE HAGGARD
MERLE HAGGARD Okie From Muskogee Anniversary Edition Anniversaries. The 20th anniversary of the notorious Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding relationship, as celebrated by two specials coinciding with last month’s Winter Olympics, caught me by surprise. So I had my own celebration by reposting Loudon Wainwright III’s transcendent tribute to the bygone days of women’s figure skating and sportsmanship, “Tonya’s Twirls,” which eventually surfaced... 

KISS – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

KISS – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
KISS Long Deserved Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction It was probably inevitable that Kiss’ long deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be problematic—and yes, I did say long deserved. It’s just been reported that in time-dishonored RockHall fashion, only originals Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were going to perform, with current non-inductee members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer rather than fellow inductee/originals Ace... 

THAT BEATLES MAGIC

THAT BEATLES MAGIC
THAT BEATLES MAGIC According to Jeff Alan Ross It was one of those truly bizarre moments. I’d gone over to the Grand Hyatt Hotel to see if I could get into The Fest for Beatles Fans with the wristband a friend of mine, from my hometown of Madison, Wis., had handed me the night before. I figured they’d change the color the next day, and I was right. I wanted to catch Peter Asher’s wonderful show Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir Of The ’60s and... 

ROBERT EARL KEEN

ROBERT EARL KEEN
ROBERT EARL KEEN Still Defying Labels   Those of us who love music usually love to share it, so I was happy to take my young friends Sasha Gavrilova and Andrei Bekrenev—both New York-based correspondents for the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, to see the one and only Robert Earl Keen a few weeks ago at Irving Plaza. Of course, they didn’t know who REK is, though they’re hardly alone in this regard. While Keen deservedly retains a legion... 

THE BEATLES

THE BEATLES
THE BEATLES From Beefy’s Point of View I’m kind of avoiding Beatles 50th anniversary hoopla. Big-name commemorative concerts starring multi-genre artists who were born a generation or three later, or even those featuring Beatles contemporaries, I don’t really need to see, so I’ll probably pass on Sunday’s Grammy celebration on CBS. I didn’t watch the CNN special or any of the Letterman tributes. There’s a Beatles fan fest here in New... 

YALE RUSSIAN CHORUS

YALE RUSSIAN CHORUS
Yale Russian Chorus – credit Andrei Bekrenev YALE RUSSIAN CHORUS 60 Years of Vocal Tradition Let others talk about Lorde, Miley Cyrus’ latest video and the new Beyonce promotion, er, album. Me? I’m still basking in the glow of seeing a bunch of 70-something American men singing Tsarist and Red Army songs along with Russian liturgical and folk music fare at Yale a few weeks ago. Okay, so they weren’t all in their 70s. But it was in fact... 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

THE SOUND OF MUSIC
THE SOUND OF MUSIC Live Music Theater on Television Okay, so I let the first NBC showing of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood go. I figured, she’s a good singer, she’ll be good, not great. She’s pretty much just a ratings draw, anyway. Then after reading some of the reviews and seeing how well it did—and that they were going to show it again—I decided to DVR it, which, really, is what I should have done in the first place, when it... 

GRAMMY NOMINATIONS

GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
GRAMMY NOMINATIONS Did The Most Deserving Artists Prevail? You know the hoopla over the Grammy nominations has gotten way out of hand when even that little video screen in the elevator you’re riding in at the Empire State Building puts up “Grammy nods: Did the most deserving artists prevail?” Even the elevator wants to know. My friend Roger Friedman at his Showbiz 411 site revives a valid point. He notes that Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason,”... 

BOB DYLAN – The Lip-Synching Interactive Video

BOB DYLAN – The Lip-Synching Interactive Video
BOB DYLAN The Lip-Synching Interactive Video True, video killed the radio star—but then it killed MTV, too. Yet music video lives bigtime on the Internet, and especially in the press releases I get daily from publicists wanting my time. Now I loved music videos at the beginning, but not much longer. I was one of the first music video critics, at Danny Fields’ Rock Video magazine in the early 1980s, and reviewed them elsewhere; indeed, I got fired... 

LOU REED

LOU REED
LOU REED On His Way Somewhere Else I got there a couple minutes after 1 P.M. (Nov. 14) so if anything was said I didn’t hear it, but nothing was supposed to be said, according to the posting on Lou Reed’s Facebook page two days earlier: “New York: Lou Reed at Lincoln Center: A gathering open to the public—no speeches. no live performances, just Lou’s voice, guitar music & songs—playing the recordings selected by his family... 

RONNIE WOOD & MICK TAYLOR

RONNIE WOOD & MICK TAYLOR
RONNIE WOOD & MICK TAYLOR Playing Jimmy Reed Tunes One particularly music-knowledgeable witness of last week’s Ronnie Wood/Mick Taylor shows at the Cutting Room, which focused entirely on the music of the great Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed and also featured Al Kooper on Hammond and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke on drums, was none other than the great Troy Sharmel. That’s right, guitarist/pianist Troy Sharmel of the legendary Dr. Bop & the... 

ALAN JACKSON – Among Country Greats

ALAN JACKSON – Among Country Greats
ALAN JACKSON Among Country Greats I generally make it a point not to read other reviewers if I’m writing about a show, so as not to be influenced. Maybe I’ll skim it to see if they got a song title that I missed, but that’s about it. But I did go to The New York Times’ review of Alan Jackson last week at Carnegie Hall when I saw it pop up on Twitter, mainly because I didn’t see anyone I knew there, not from the Times or anywhere, which... 

LOU REED, SHERMAN HALSEY & MINNIE PEARL

LOU REED, SHERMAN HALSEY & MINNIE PEARL
LOU REED, SHERMAN HALSEY & MINNIE PEARL An Appreciation I knew Lou Reed. Not really well, but we were quite friendly. I knew him a bit when I interviewed him when I was at Billboard, when Doc Pomus died. He loved Doc, and I was quite friendly with Doc—though I can’t say I knew him well, either. Lou appreciated most that I was a martial arts guy, like he was. He was happy to talk to me about martial arts. It was me, music reporter, talking... 

WILL LEE & BILLY GIBBONS

WILL LEE & BILLY GIBBONS
WILL LEE & BILLY GIBBONS Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman” Miley Cyrus nude on the “Wrecking Ball” video is so last week. This week it’s Will Lee’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” that’s taking the Internet by storm. Okay, only 6,045 views on YouTube so far at last count, but that’s bound to rise now that both music industry newsletter writer/whiner Bob Lefsetz and Howard Stern have championed the clip. And you can... 

TONY BENNETT & ANTONIA BENNETT

TONY BENNETT & ANTONIA BENNETT
TONY BENNETT & ANTONIA BENNETT The incomparable Tony Bennett’s Longevity and Legacy Do the math and he’s 87, but better make that 87 years young: Tony Bennett looks, moves, and above all else, sings better than he did back in, say, 1964, when he recorded Live At The Sahara: Las Vegas, 1964. That album, not coincidentally, was issued last week, three days before Bennett’s concert at Radio City, which had been sold out since July. He did two... 

ELVIS COSTELLO

ELVIS COSTELLO
ELVIS COSTELLO A True Risk Taker I’m tempted to salute Elvis Costello’s new album with The Roots Wise Up Ghost  as his latest reinvention, but that word’s too associated with Madonna—wrongly, I might add—or a meme, except I really don’t know what that word means. Rather, Ghost is just the latest expansion in what has essentially been a two-pronged Costello career. First, of course, is his bread and butter: his rock band side, initially... 

CBGB ICON AWARD: SEYMOUR STEIN

CBGB ICON AWARD: SEYMOUR STEIN
CBGB ICON AWARD: SEYMOUR STEIN Seymour Stein Awarded First Annual CBGB Icon Award There probably aren’t a whole lot of evenings left like Tuesday’s presentation of the First Annual CBGB Icon Award to Seymour Stein—Tuesday evening at the Bowery Hotel. People you hadn’t seen in decades—some you wish you still hadn’t seen in decades—literally crawled out of the woodwork, and as the hotel is just a couple blocks up the street from CBGB... 

GIRL GROUPS

GIRL GROUPS
GIRL GROUPS Still Alive and Kicking The problem with going to an oldies show is that not only do you see how old the oldies artists are, you also see how old their audience is, which, of course, you yourself are a part of. At least you’re all “still alive and kicking,” as the Toys’ (“A Lover’s Concerto”) lead singer Barbara Harris said, calling out her other two originals Barbara Parritt and June Montiero to take a bow from the audience.... 

CMA IN THE SCHOOLS

CMA IN THE SCHOOLS
CMA IN THE SCHOOLS Keep The Music Playing At most I was half awake between 5 and 6 a.m., the TV still on from falling asleep watching the night before, when the news reader said something to the effect that not even 10 percent of school kids today know what the Declaration of Independence is about—even though it’s kind of right there in the title. She said they don’t know who their U.S. senators are, either, but I’d heard that one before,... 

MILEY CYRUS AND BOLLYWOOD

MILEY CYRUS AND BOLLYWOOD
MILEY CYRUS AND BOLLYWOOD There Are Other Options Every week I watch AVS (Asian Variety Show), as its web site describes it, “a weekly capsule that encompasses the best of Bollywood and beyond.” The New Jersey-based, English language program is available on cable and satellite TV stations as well as online, and does a great job in keeping you up-to-date on South Asian culture if you’re into it—like I am. Last week they ran an interview with... 

NICK ASHFORD & THE HAGER TWINS

NICK ASHFORD & THE HAGER TWINS
NICK ASHFORD & THE HAGER TWINS Never met a stranger Hair loss being what it is, if it’s summer and I’m traveling, I always take along a baseball cap. Off to L.A., I thought of taking my “Milwaukee Road” with the tilted logo that I’d recently acquired, but I’d worn that on a July 4th outing to Cape Cod and wanted something different. But only two others were within easy reach. One was a great Cleveland International Records cap with... 

KONGAR-OL ONDAR

KONGAR-OL ONDAR
KONGAR-OL ONDAR Tuvan Throat Singer Tuvan throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar has died. Saw him several times after Jim Ed Norman signed him to Warner Nashville and co-produced his Back Tuva Future album for the label in 1999. The album featured true “country crossover” titles like “Tuva Groove” and “Little Yurt on the Prairie,” and guest artists including Willie Nelson, Randy Scruggs and Bill Miller. I laughed out loud when I read The New... 

THE SUBURBS

THE SUBURBS
THE SUBURBS Fans Crowd-Funding Through Kickstarter Seems lately like every other day brings a new Kickstarter campaign to my Inbox, and while I’m all in favor of keeping my favorite artists going in this era of declining CD sales and record labels and opportunities to produce a professional music product and get it out there, I had to shake my head at the news that even Spike Lee is looking for a $1.25 million Kickstarter handout for his next film. And... 

CBGB MOVIE TRAILER

CBGB MOVIE TRAILER
CBGB MOVIE TRAILER Plenty of great music  The trailer for the upcoming CBGB movie has just gone up and not surprisingly, people who were there are already complaining. Roger Friedman’s Showbiz411.com entertainment news site reports that “everyone who ever went there is ducking and hiding,” notably including Linda Ramone, widow of Johnny Ramone. She doesn’t like the casting for Johnny (he’s played by Puerto Rican actor Julian Acosta, who... 

NRBQ

NRBQ
NRBQ This is considered blasphemy, I know, but Terry Adams’ current version of NRBQ, based on their show last week at B.B. King’s, is at the very least as good as any—and yes, that includes the best-loved, longest-running 1974-1994 lineup of Terry on keyboards and vocals, Joey Spampinato on bass and vocals, Al Anderson on guitar and vocals, and Tom Ardolino on drums. Now with the superb guitarist/vocalist Scott Ligon, bassist/vocalist Casey... 

JUSTIN HINES

JUSTIN HINES
JUSTIN HINES Outside of a few famous blind performers, you don’t often see artists with disabilities on stage. The late Teddy Pendergrass comes to mind, of course, as does Vic Chesnutt, likewise paralyzed and also deceased. Enter Justin Hines, the acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter and international fundraiser for people with disabilities. The wheelchair-bound Hines, who has battled the rare genetic joint condition Larsen’s syndrome since birth,... 

TURTLES & ZOMBIES

TURTLES & ZOMBIES
TURTLES & ZOMBIES Having seen The Turtles and The Zombies (twice) in the last month, I can already declare this summer to be a success. The Zombies Actually, several years ago I got to see both bands together, at the Hippiefest tour stop in Coney Island. The two groups, both dating back to the 1960s and retaining their two key original members, quite appropriately shared the same backstage trailer, and each stayed on stage to watch the other’s... 

SLIM & CHET

SLIM & CHET
SLIM & CHET The longer we live, the longer our past, the shorter our future, the fewer our friends and heroes. Wednesday was particularly bad. I always enjoy grossing people out by relating how, some 30-plus years ago, I gave up backstage passes to Springsteen in Madison, Wisconsin, to drive to Milwaukee to see Slim Whitman. I’d say it’s the smartest thing I ever did, but in all fairness, I can’t remember if it was Slim or Mickey Gilley—which... 

SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME 2013 INDUCTION

SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME 2013 INDUCTION
SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME 2013 INDUCTION Alison Krauss Due to the nature of the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame [SHOF] Induction Gala, the VIP cocktail party always brings out a motley bunch of old-guard music business luminaries, celebrated songwriters and the major recording artists who made them celebrated. Previous inductee (2009, with Eddie Brigati) Felix Cavaliere got there early Thursday evening. Of course he was asked how The Rascals: Once... 

THE CONCEPT OF WILLIE NELSON

THE CONCEPT OF WILLIE NELSON
THE CONCEPT OF WILLIE NELSON Confession: Something was missing in my recent bit on Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday. But I only realized it last week during a long walk home crosstown from the Cutting Room, where I and my new two friends had just seen Buster Poindexter (more on that later). During the show’s intermission, Lincoln Foley Schofield, the club’s booker, asked me how I liked the Willie celebration. It hadn’t even been a week, and I’d... 

DARLENE LOVE – 20 FEET

DARLENE LOVE – 20 FEET
DARLENE LOVE – 20 FEET Darlene Love, who at this point deserves to be called the Eighth Wonder of the World, noted after an outdoor screening at Open Road Rooftop (the roof of a former high school on the Lower East Side) of Twenty Feet From Stardom how most of the background singers that are the subject of the film—herself included—came from church music beginnings. She had just finished reprising live “Lean On Me,” which she performs,... 

WILLIE NELSON

WILLIE NELSON
WILLIE NELSON Consider this most varied grouping: Barbra Streisand, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Bennett, Bono, John Mayer, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Steven Tyler, Paul Anka, Carlos Santana, Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy Osbourne, Emmylou Harris, Sandra Bernhard, Dan Akroyd, Brad Paisley, Iggy Pop, Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Daryl Hall , John Oates, Marky Ramone, Lemmy, Tom Kenny, Vince Gill, B.J. Thomas, Howard Stern, Billy F Gibbons, Ranger... 

THE ROLLING STONES & CARRIE UNDERWOOD

THE ROLLING STONES & CARRIE UNDERWOOD
THE ROLLING STONES & CARRIE UNDERWOOD Carrie Underwood Speaking of the Stones, did you see where Carrie Underwood came out to sing on “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It)” during their show in Toronto? Reminds me of the first time I saw the Stones, 1975 tour, County Stadium, Milwaukee. The Eagles and Rufus opened. I’m with Lebowski on The Eagles, and could just as easily have seen the Stones without Rufus. I don’t remember who... 

FOGERTY & BURDON—FORTUNATE ONES

FOGERTY & BURDON—FORTUNATE ONES
FOGERTY & BURDON—FORTUNATE ONES The latest Rolling Stones round of touring brought forth the predictably two-part, contradictory media response: 1. They’re too old to rock ‘n’ roll and should have hung it up decades ago, and 2. Isn’t it incredible how Mick Jagger can run around the stage at 70? Quickly, no, the Stones aren’t too old to rock ’n’ roll, not so long as fans are still willing to shell out the big bucks to watch. And,... 

AMBOY DUKES

AMBOY DUKES
AMBOY DUKES Marshall Crenshaw Not often you’re confronted with an ethical dilemma at a rock show. It happened last week at Marshall Crenshaw’s show at New York’s City Winery, first song. I was probably the only one with the problem, maybe the only one who recognized it. Crenshaw didn’t say anything before or after opening with the case in point, “Journey to the Center of the Mind.” Actually, besides three people I knew in the audience,... 

GEORGE JONES’ SHOES

GEORGE JONES’ SHOES
GEORGE JONES’ SHOES  So let’s ask the question, even though we’ve been told time and again in the days following the death of the great George Jones that the answer is “no one,” “Who’s gonna fill his shoes?” Actually, his funeral, if not offering a direct answer, put up several artists who at the very least should be standing beside him now in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Starting with Tanya Tucker, who was spectacular in opening... 

BOSTON

BOSTON
BOSTON Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) Amazing how programmed we are to expect or seek out music to go with every major (and minor) event in our lives—and how bad it so often is. MSNBC is particularly bad during the day, mostly in trying to be hip. I’ve actually heard Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols coming out of Morning Joe commercial breaks—my fault for falling asleep watching the channel the night before. Yesterday, predictably,... 

LES BLANK – A National Treasure

LES BLANK – A National Treasure
LES BLANK A National Treasure Les Blank died last Sunday at 77. Taylor Hackford called him a “national treasure.” “Although his films are not well known at the moment, they’ll take their place,” he told The New York Times. “Films are great when they live a long time, and I think Les’ will live.” Blank was quietly renowned for intimate documentaries exploring comparatively unknown music genres and regional cultures (Cajun/Zydeco titles... 

SONGWRITER MERLE KILGORE

SONGWRITER MERLE KILGORE
Merle Kilgore, Cindy Walker, BMI’s Frances Preston SONGWRITER MERLE KILGORE The Tall Texan Merle Kilgore with Elvis Presley Hard to believe that it’s been eight years now since we lost that cuddly bear Merle Kilgore, best known at the end for being Hank Williams, Jr.’s longtime manager/cheerleader—though he had also worked with Hank, Sr., carrying his guitar at the Louisiana Hayride when he was 14. But Kilgore also had great success as a... 

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel Coen did an interview last week in The New York Times about his and brother Ethan’s much-anticipated—but aren’t all CoBros films “much anticipated”?–film Inside Llewyn Davis. Based very loosely on Dave Van Ronk’s posthumous 2005 memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street (written with Elijah Wald), Inside Llewyn Davis takes a darkly funny, typically ambiguous CoBros look at the pre-Dylan 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene,... 

MADONNA CAN’T STOP SHOCKING

MADONNA CAN’T STOP SHOCKING
MADONNA CAN’T STOP SHOCKING At 54, Madonna’s still got it: Breast baring in Turkey, mooning in Italy, and supporting gay rights and Pussy Riot in Russia Whatever you think of her—that is, if you think of her at all—there can be no denying that Madonna’s current MDNA tour show is spectacular. Though short of Stones-Age, the 54-year-old icon is still long past her performing prime, yet remains Jagger-like in her ability to work a... 
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