David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ Is Adventurous To The End

According to Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s longtime producer and mouthpiece for the final few years of his life, the English expat wanted to embrace manifold styles for his 25th album, ★, aka Blackstar, released last Friday. Pop’s original chameleon had of course been doing that for 50-odd years, and so for this last time around, he aimed to omit the very music upon which he began. “The goal, in many, many ways,” Visconti claims, “was to avoid rock & roll.”

David Bowie's 27th album, Blackstar, was released on Friday, his 69th birthday. He died, following an 18-month battle with cancer, two days later. i

David Bowie’s 27th album, Blackstar, was released on Friday, his 69th birthday. He died, following an 18-month battle with cancer, two days later.

Jimmy King/Courtesy of Columbia Records

There’s a lot of that going around: Check the latest Coachella lineup beyond Guns ‘n Roses. But rather than revisiting his synth-heavy Low/”Heroes”/Lodger trilogy like so many of

506 Shows In 365 Days Bob Boilen’s 2015 In Concerts

In Bob Boilen's favorite concert of 2015, Sufjan Stevens turned Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall into a place of self-discovery and magic.

After seeing exactly 662 bands in each 2013 and 2014, my concert attendance plummeted in 2015. This past year I saw only 506 bands take the stage, but I have an excuse. I wrote a book.

So more than 100 times this year I opted to sit on my couch and write instead of running out to one of my fave D.C. concert hot spots. I love the participatory nature of concerts. There’s something about screaming approval at a show that makes it an active and communal form of entertainment. I don’t get that from movies and TV shows — in fact, I never made it to the theater in 2015 and Portlandia was the only series of which I can say I watched every episode. On the other hand, I did see 59 bands play at the 9:30 Club and 31 bands play at DC9, and also

How A Korean Jazz Festival Found A Huge Young Audience

Danish Afrobeat-inspired band The KutiMangoes pose for photos with the crowd at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival.

It was like discovering a parallel reality.

After completing a sponsored trip to South Korea for music professionals in October, I stayed in the country, striking out on my own. I grabbed a train to the Jarasum International Jazz Festival, a couple hours from Seoul, and arrived in the middle of a set by the international power pairing of Paolo Fresu, Omar Sosa and Trilok Gurtu.

­

I did a double take — and then a triple take. A huge audience of mostly twentysomethings was smiling and dancing, showing big love for the music. I looked around for a plausible explanation. Was a K-pop video being projected on a screen near the jazz trio? No, a festival volunteer explained — the crowd’s enthusiasm was all for the improvising trumpeter, pianist and percussionist onstage. Younger people, he said: They like jazz.

Courtesy of Jarasum International Jazz Festival

Iranian rock band members who fled repression are killed in New York

NEW YORK — They said they sang in English instead of Farsi because they wanted their music to be heard by the world, but their secret performance space in Tehran was padded with Styrofoam so they wouldn’t be arrested for playing forbidden music.

Their shows in Iran sometimes had lookouts, and the rockers had to ask fans to come but not to bring their friends, lest they attract too much attention.

In other words, they were as punk rock as punk rock gets.

But when the band known as the Yellow Dogs eventually fled Tehran to escape repression and claim their slice of indie glory in Brooklyn, tragedy followed.

Early Monday, two band members who were also brothers were among four musicians found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. The incident shocked friends and acquaintances in New York, where the band had built a following for their dance-happy brand of post-punk.

For unknown reasons, police said, an Iranian musician, Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, of Queens, took a rifle to the members’ apartment in East Williamsburg, where police believe he entered from the roof.

Police said

No future? Punk is still the sound of youth rebellion the world over

On a broiling Sunday afternoon in Kennington Park, south London, a few dozen people are gathered under a large tree. A handful are playing boules and some line up for a three-legged race; most are simply drinking and talking. Yet 35 years ago such an event would have prompted uproar among other park visitors because this is the Punx Picnic, part of a non-profit urban punk festival bluntly called Scumfest.

The picnickers illustrate what a broad church punk has become via its myriad mutations over the years: neither the threat to public morals of old nor an irrelevant retro cult. Although one sports the scarlet spikes of hair familiar from Oxford Street postcard racks, they are a diverse group united only by an unseasonal fondness for black.
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To most people, punk may be preserved in the amber of history but to those who attend events such as Scumfest it is very much a going concern, and not one that is simple to describe.

Punk’s annus mirabilis, 1977, is as distant from us as the middle of the second world war was to the

Sid Vicious and the aesthetics of punk rock

The hotel room was destroyed. A television lay shattered on the ground, surrounded by a shredded pile of photographs and Bible pages, soda cans and broken furniture. On the mangled hotel bed, the sheets were coiled up in a corner, still holding the form of the human responsible for this mess. Just down the hall, Billy Idol and guys from the Sex Pistols, Blondie and Adam & the Ants banged out loud and sloppy Stooges covers late into the night.

It’s a scene Sid Vicious might have loved if he’d lived to attend the Los Angeles art opening. After all, he was there when the real thing happened.

The Sex Pistols bassist remains one of rock ‘n’ roll’s seminal icons and dark cautionary tales. He was born John Ritchie in London and was dead at 21 of a drug overdose, and his brief two years in the band made him the living embodiment of the genre’s live-fast, die-young aesthetic.

PHOTOS: Iconic rock guitars and their owners

“Sid could barely play, but he became one of the most recognized figures of a movement,” said L.A. street-art impresario Shepard Fairey, who

Is Music the Key to Success?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Photo
Credit Anna Parini

Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody

Punk rock’s creative and savage legacy at Subliminal Projects gallery

Today, you can’t escape punk rock — the style, iconography and chord changes are as accessible as Hot Topic and top-40 radio. But punk continues to draw its power from the scene of the late 1970s and early ’80s, particularly here in Southern California, and to build on its legacy as a savage underground protest music and an art movement that refused to be defined by money.

On Friday, art gallery Subliminal Projects opens a new show of photography, art and ephemera called “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die,” which throws open the chaotic energy of an early punk scene that included such bands as Black Flag, the Minutemen, Redd Kross, Bad Religion, the Germs and others.

“The skate kids are still skating to it. The surfer kids are still surfing to it,” said Keith Morris, legendary singer for a band core to the movement, Circle Jerks, and his new band, OFF! “A majority of the bands that are on the Warped Tour wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for [those] bands.”

Photos of Joan Jett and Lita Ford playing dueling guitars, troubled Germs front man Darby Crash, tattooed

Daytrotter At 10 A Midwestern Rite Of Passage

It started out as a place where musicians could take a break from the tedium of the road to record a few songs and post them online for fans. Over the course of a decade, Daytrotter has become home to an archive of thousands of recordings from such big-name musicians as Tori Amos, Alabama Shakes and Charley Pride. Daytrotter turns 10 next month, and is celebrating with a music festival in Davenport, Iowa.

On the surface, the old Daytrotter studio looks like a dump. It’s a 1970s radio station, up three flights of stairs above a pizza shop in downtown Rock Island, Ill. So how did the site’s founder, Sean Moeller, who at the time was working for the local newspaper, convince bands to stop by?

“I think I promised them pizza,” Moeller says. “I think I was like, ‘I’ll buy you lunch,’ and that was enough.”

“It’s just a place that was almost like a rite of passage for these various touring indie bands that are driving through Iowa anyway on their way to Chicago or wherever,” says Marc Hogan, who writes for Pitchfork, Billboard and other music outlets, including NPR Music.

A

Benefit concert series is an homage to Chinatown’s punk rock past

On a Tuesday night in October 1978, a struggling restaurant in Chinatown decided to try some new music.

Madame Wong’s was having trouble finding customers with a regular Polynesian dance floor show. So proprietor Esther Wong, with some convincing, gave the stage to two punk rock bands.

Guitars wailed. Drums crashed. Eggrolls were served. A new venue for Los Angeles punk rock was born.

The late 1970s were a golden time for punk rock in Southern California, but traditional music venues looked down on the budding genre. Restaurants like Madame Wong’s and later Hong Kong Cafe gave the music a home and turned Chinatown into a punk destination. They hosted early shows of bands like the Ramones, Oingo Boingo, the Police and Guns N’ Roses.

A new concert series will bring punk rockers back to Chinatown for an afternoon to raise money for music education. “Save Music in Chinatown” will hold its second show on Sunday to raise money for the struggling music program at Castelar Elementary School in Chinatown. This time the venue is Human Resources, one of the many art galleries that have taken root in Chinatown

Benefit concert series is an homage to Chinatown’s punk rock past

On a Tuesday night in October 1978, a struggling restaurant in Chinatown decided to try some new music.

Madame Wong’s was having trouble finding customers with a regular Polynesian dance floor show. So proprietor Esther Wong, with some convincing, gave the stage to two punk rock bands.

Guitars wailed. Drums crashed. Eggrolls were served. A new venue for Los Angeles punk rock was born.

The late 1970s were a golden time for punk rock in Southern California, but traditional music venues looked down on the budding genre. Restaurants like Madame Wong’s and later Hong Kong Cafe gave the music a home and turned Chinatown into a punk destination. They hosted early shows of bands like the Ramones, Oingo Boingo, the Police and Guns N’ Roses.

A new concert series will bring punk rockers back to Chinatown for an afternoon to raise money for music education. “Save Music in Chinatown” will hold its second show on Sunday to raise money for the struggling music program at Castelar Elementary School in Chinatown. This time the venue is Human Resources, one of the many art galleries that have taken root in Chinatown

PASSINGS Tony Benn, Khushwant Singh, Scott Asheton

Tony Benn, 88, a committed British socialist who irritated and fascinated Britons through a political career spanning more than five decades and who renounced his aristocratic title rather than leave the House of Commons, died March 14 at his home in west London, his family said in a statement. No cause was given.

Benn held cabinet posts in Labour Party governments in the 1970s and clung unswervingly to his leftist beliefs while his party, in opposition, moved to the center and reemerged to take power again as New Labour. The change left Benn out of step with his party’s new, younger leaders.

Benn, who favored abolition of the monarchy, British withdrawal from the European Union and any strike that was going on, hadn’t changed. But his image did. Over time he was transformed from the demonized figure of the ’70s and ’80s to that often-treasured English archetype: the radical dissenter.

Born in London on April 3, 1925, Anthony Wedgwood Benn was the second son of William Wedgwood Benn, a Labour cabinet minister, and the former Margaret Holmes, a scholar in Greek and Hebrew studies. One grandfather

Reflections Of A Bowie Girl

I am a Bowie girl. Not literally: I’m a little too young to have swiped my face with glitter and run out in lime-green platforms to see David Bowie storming through America in 1972 and 1973 with the Spiders from Mars, when he sent queer and alien dispatches across a heartland primed for them by Stonewall and women’s lib and the sexual revolution but also feeling the slap of the Silent Majority as the Nixon era lumbered on. On that tour, Bowie tangled into all kinds of strange positions with the guitarist Mick Ronson, being the freaky dream of the teens who had dyed their hair strawberry to look like him, the ones who heard him when he rode the glammed-up jump blues chord progression of his anthem, “Changes,” to new heights, wailing, “Turn and face the strange!” His fans were the strange, and Bowie had finally given them a way to show it. The press called them Bowie boys and Bowie girls because there was no other name for them yet: no pansexual, no bi-curious; yes freak, but that felt like a hippie term and this wasn’t a hippie thing. “I’m just a space cadet, he’s the

The Ringlings ‘Punk Rock With a Smile’

The Ringling Sisters, which includes former members of the Bangles and the Screaming Sirens–two key female groups of L.A.’s early-’80s grass-roots movement–has released “60 Watt Reality.”

The album, on Ode Records through A&M, is the first big-label release from a representative of that milieu in ages. But though the faces may be familiar, the attitudes and sounds–a mix of semi-folky-rock and spoken-word pieces–may not.

“People will come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe you’re into this coffeehouse thing,’ ” said Pleasant Gehman, one of the female rocker-poets who founded the Ringlings in 1987. “They say, ‘I remember when you used to be vomiting in the clubs all night.’ “

Still, Gehman, who just recently broke up the Screaming Sirens to devote more time to the Ringling Sisters, says that the methodology is drawn directly from the old days.

“It’s like punk rock,” she said.

“Punk rock with a smile,” added Gary Eaton, one of the group’s two male guitarists, sitting with Gehman and the other Sisters after a recent acoustic performance at the funky Melrose store Y-Que.

The group was

Review Red Medicine, a little like punk rock and splendid in its own way

The night of the lunar eclipse, I was having a late supper at Red Medicine out on Wilshire, a few tables over from a man who had decided to dress as Jesus for the evening, a slender young man with long, straight hair and white robes flowing around his ankles. I can’t be sure, but I think he ordered the tasting menu.

After dinner, I walked outside in time to see the last sliver of the moon disappear into the Earth’s shadow. An elderly man plucked at my arm, eager to know what I was looking up at, and I pointed at the moon, at Mars shining bright and pink in its penumbra. The man shrugged. He’d seen better. The boulevard in Beverly Hills pulsed with the red lights of three police cars on a chase. Across the street, Jesus caught my eye and waved.

The thing was, none of this was any odder than the dinner I’d just finished eating, which included peas, trout eggs and lemon curd served in a goldfish bowl capped with a thin sheet of frozen pea-pod purée, a salad of wild roots and stalks with

A Group Of Writers Listening To Kanye, Awaiting SWISH

Maybe we have jumped the gun. We very badly want G.O.O.D. Fridays back (we’re not alone). Surprise releases are fun and everything, but the build of a month(s)-long stretch is better. We would like to talk about music together, and not only by collectively spazzing out and crashing Livemixtapes. We would like to Monday morning quarterback the art and announcement punctuation and where we heard it over the weekend and the context and the song itself. We’d like to compare this week’s offering to the last couple and use all that to debate the emotional state and practical concerns of Kanye and us and try to divine, somehow, where all this is going. The Internet wasn’t quite what it is now the last time this happened, and we’re thinking about how that changes our coverage. So here we are, weighing in, doing our best to do our part as listeners and readers and thinkers, even though it’s not real clear if #EveryFriday means G.O.O.D. Fridays Part Deux or not.

Definitely we are not dealing with the clockwork delivery and full team effort of the fourth quarter of 2010. Sample email from my inbox: “Hope you’ve had an

Punk rocks

EYES closed, facing the crowd, Alex Flynn of 1208 rips into a fierce anthem called “Next Big Thing.” In front of him, a wiry mix of Redondo Beach surfers, punks and skaters sing about the sinister music industry right along with him, even though 1208’s album, “Turn of the Screw,” won’t be released for four more days.

The group is one of a new generation of South Bay punk bands, a generation weaned on a musical history that started in the ’70s with punk legends like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. Nearly three decades later, the beachside scene is as alive and tight as ever. Almost everyone at the 1208 show is wearing T-shirts representing local bands: Instigator, 98 Mute, Pennywise, Prop 13, the Deviates, Toys That Kill. Chances are, the guy moshing next to you is in a local band, or friends with the band or on his way on stage. The club — Latitudes, a beer-soaked nightspot on the pier — feels like a family affair. And it is. Flynn is punk rock royalty: He’s the nephew of Greg Ginn, the founder of Black Flag.

“In the beginning

As ‘X-Files’ Returns, Meet The Man Behind The Theme Song

You know the X-Files theme. For nine years, that music had an almost Pavlovian effect on TV junkies addicted to the paranormal adventures of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. But in the beginning, it was just a job for composer Mark Snow.

“So I get the assignment: ‘You’re doing The X-Files,'” Snow says. “I said, ‘Fine,’ you know? It was just another pilot.”

Snow was already an old pro when X-Files creator Chris Carter first approached him back in 1993. “I was looking for something that boy scouts could hum at the campfire, as a scary song,” Carter says. “You know, something akin to The Twilight Zone.”

Snow had previously scored detective shows, drama series, comedies and TV movies. He was born Martin Fulterman in Brooklyn just after World War II, and graduated from Juilliard. There, the young drummer co-founded a band with his friend and fellow composer Michael Kamen called New York Rock & Roll Ensemble.

But none of Snow’s previous experiences had quite prepared him for The X-Files. Chris Carter says finding the right theme music took a few tries: “Mark would send me things, and I’d say, ‘Not quite.’

The History of Punk Rock

Punk means many different things to different people. Punk is part of the “next” generation’s “fumbled attempts to get drunk, listen to the band, get laid, and get the last bus home.” (Chamberlain 1) Punk is “really creative rock ‘n’ roll music that is fun and upbeat, excellent melodies.” (Cuellar 4) Punk is “hard-driving, in-your-face music, but at the same time, there’s intelligence behind it. That’s the thing I really latched on, because that was a combination that is very rare to find.” (Cuellar 3) “Part of it [being a ‘punk’] is not caring and being what you damn well want to be.” (Cuellar 3) “Punk’s about boredom and partying, pure and simple.” (Cuellar 3) “Punk was a new music, a new social critique, but most of all, it was a new kind of free speech.” (Marcus 2)

Just two years after the Beatles hit America (1966), Iggy Pop decided to form a band that would be completely unlike anything that anyone had ever heard. Iggy formed the Stooges in Detroit, Michigan, with friends who could barely play their instruments. They had very little musical knowledge to interfere with the ideas that

I may be helping to bring harmony between people through my music

The story of a successful Jazz Competition

I am proud to say that after only 9 years from its debut, Bucharest International Jazz Competition is ranked as the second jazz contest in Europe and the third in the world. The Competition contributes significantly to building a positive image of Romania in the world, allowing the inclusion of our country on the international map of major jazz events.

Dedicated to professional musicians, the event

successfully debuted in 2007, registering an unexpected participation for the first edition – 30 bands from 25 countries.
The trend was maintained, the popularity of the event increasing significantly, rightfully earning the title as the most visible and strong competition in the region. On her visit in Romania, Natalie Cole was delighted to find an event of this kind and welcomed the movement dedicated to the new jazz generation.

The 9th Edition will start on 16 May gathering bands from 4 continents. Bucharest becomes the world capital of jazz.

Under the slogan “100% jazz and more” the public is invited to enjoy global trends, “creme de la creme” of major jazz centres worldwide, well defined concepts, daring ideas, in