Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit line-up for 2013 has just been announced and as always it’s shaping up to be pretty impressive.
This year’s benefit will feature performances from the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (obviously, captain obvious), Queens of the Stone Age, My Morning Jacket, the Killers, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Fun., Heart and Jenny Lewis. As per tradition, every artist will play an acoustic set. The show will be held October 26th and October 27th at the Shoreline Ampitheater in Mountain View, CA. The Killers will only perform on the 26th, but all other acts will take part on both days.
The Bridge School Benefit was first held in 1986 and has taken place (with the exception of 1987) every year since. It’s big gimmick is that it’s always 100% acoustic, meaning it’s played host to numerous unique sets from A-list artists like Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Metallica, Arcade Fire, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Tom Petty, Simon and Garfunkel and many more.
Neil and his wife Pegi Young founded the Bridge School when they struggled to find suitable schooling for their physically-challenged son, Ben. Pegi told Rolling Stone in 2010:
“He was in a program for special ed students at a school and had some good friends. But they decided to move the special ed program off campus. This isn’t unusual and I was really sad about it. I was talking to [Neil Young's manager] Elliot [Roberts] and he said, ‘Why don’t you just start your own school, Peg?’ And I was like, ‘Okay, there’s an idea.’ It just kind of blossomed from there.”
“Neil came up with the acoustic format idea. It was genius. Nobody was doing that at the time. This is before MTV Unplugged or any of that. It keeps costs down, and it took artists outside their comfort zone. Looking back, that first concert was an exercise in simplicity compared to what it is these days.”
Ahead of the release of his new album Wise Up Ghost with the Roots, Elvis Costello has just announced a slew of headlining tour dates marking his first solo jaunt around the East Coast in ten years.
The Elvis Costello – SOLO (that is with uppercase letters, yes) Tour kicks off in Burlington, VT on November 2nd at the Flynn Center and sees Costello play dates in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, then he’s gonna go back to some of those places for more dates, before finally winding the whole thing up on November 19th at the Collins Center in Orono, Maine.
Wise Up Ghost is Costello’s first album in three years, and came about as a result of his third (well, they didn’t know him that well the first and second times) appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, where Roots serve as house music-makers, groove-givers and seemingly, networking masters. Apparently, what began as a single song soon became four and then, a whole album of kicking tunes.
Here’s probably* how it all happened in the no-doubt swanky backstage area:
Root no. 1 : You are so cool, Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello: I know, man; so are you.
Root no. 2: That cool American accent you do is really cool. Like really cool. You should record it, or something.
Elvis Costello: That’s a capital idea, Root no. 2; How about it, Roots?
Roots (in unison): Yeeeeaaaah.
Anyway, the fraction of the cyber universe interested in Elvis Costello’s bizniz is rife with talk of a joint tour between the Roots and the man himself on account of Wise Up Ghost, but given how often the cyber universe is rife with talk of untrue things, who knows whether that will ever happen – Neither Costello, nor his minders have made any mention of a collaborative tour.
Still, we can all dream.
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is living up to its name as it announces this year’s lineup, which includes Elvis Costello and Patti Smith.
The free festival will take place October 5-7 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco this year, and welcomes an extensive and eclectic lineup this year. Among many notable acts appearing at the festival this year are Conor Oberst, Todd Snider, Nick Lowe, Jenny Lewis, Les Claypool, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Glen Hansard, Justin Townes Earle, Robyn Hitchcock, Lucero and Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers. Not bad for a free show!
The festival began in 2001 as the Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and appropriately invited only bluegrass musicians to perform. By 2004, the festival was inviting musicians from many genres and added the word “Hardly” to the official name of the festival.
Despite the huge lineup, there will be some notable absences in this year’s lineup. Both Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs performed at nearly every incarnation of the festival since 2005, and both recently passed away. Additionally, the founder of the festival, Warren Hellman, also passed away in December of last year.
The following is a bit about Hellman posted on the official website of the festival:
“What does move me is the philanthropic stuff,” he told Forbes magazine in 2006. “Giving really does move me. Part of it is selfish. It’s fun to be appreciated. But the other part is that good things really are growing.”
He called the bluegrass festival a “selfish gift,” one that he, the musicians and the community could all enjoy.
“How could you have more fun that that? What the hell is money for if it isn’t for something like that?”
The festival will consist of multiple stages set up throughout the Hellman Hollow, Lindley & Marx Meadows in Golden Gate Park.
When Frank Ocean made his national television debut earlier this month on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” he did so amidst a swell of attention of the likes the young and promising R&B artist had not seen at that point in his career.
Just hours before his performance on the late night talk show, Ocean released digital copies of his debut studio album, Channel Orange, a week earlier than was originally scheduled. But the majority of the public attention focused on him resulted from his blog post a few days before that frankly discussed the story of his first love – a man. The revelation sent shock waves throughout the R&B and Hip Hop community, which is often seen as behind the times with much of the rest of the world on sexuality issues.
However, once Ocean appeared onstage to perform two songs from his new record, “Start” and Thinkin Bout You,” none of the above was really considered. Instead, all focus was put on this young man presenting his immense young talent for the first time on a national stage. House band the Roots highlighted Ocean’s abilities as they provided his backing music.
In fact, the Roots have been a consistent and important part of the show since they were announced as the house band before the show premiered in 2009. The show has a large focus on music in general (who could forget Fallon’s own Neil Young and Bob Dylan impressions?), but it’s the Roots that deserve much of the musical attention.
Though they have been known to be controversial (see: Roots’ drummer Questlove choosing to cover the Fishbone song “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as the intro music for guest Michele Bachmann last year when she was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination), but it’s mostly been purely about their great music. The group often backs musical guests as they did with Ocean, and this often produces some of the most intriguing musical collaborations happening today.
Here’s a look at some of the best and/or most interesting “Late Night” performances featuring backing by the Roots.
Kenny Rogers – “The Gambler”
“The Gambler” is one of those legendary country songs, and at this point it’s hard to imagine it feeling fresh. While it’s a great song, it seems best served now to be played by Kenny in casinos around the country.
So when he performed a version of the song backed by the Roots on “Late Night,” it was a refreshing take on the song. Though the video is not currently available, you can see the pre-performance interview where Kenny discusses why he shaved his trademark beard.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
Ok, ok – by the time teen sensation (despite the fact that she’s 26!) Carly Rae Jepsen appeared on “Late Night,” we were all pretty tired of hearing her hit “Call Me Maybe” – or at least tired of having the melody stuck in our head again.
However, her appearance on the show made everything a little better when, instead of performing a straight ahead version of the song that seemed to be playing about once every ten minutes on every pop radio station in the country anyway (and covered by everyone on YouTube, it would seem) – she and the Roots had a little something different planned.
Members of the group, along with Fallon, gathered around Jepsen and they all performed the song using instruments you’d be more likely to find in an elementary school classroom than on a professional stage (a sample: kazoo, toy xylophone, ukulele).
More than anything, the performance gave a fresh new take on the song. Check it out below.
Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon – History of Rap
Timberlake was on the show to promote the then-new movie “The Social Network” when he and Fallon broke out in an “impromptu” performance – backed by the Roots, of course – that took us all through the history of rap. They perform snippets of rap songs by classic artists throughout the years, starting with the Sugarhill Gang, and moving through Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem, among others.
The performance was so successful that the two have done updated versions of the sketch in Timberlake’s subsequent appearances on the show. Unfortunately, there are not legal versions of the video of the performance available online.
Beyonce – “Countdown”
When Beyonce appeared on “Late Night” in November 2011 to support her hit single “Countdown,” she was only a couple months away from giving birth to her first baby. But her pregnancy in no way slowed her down during this performance, made all the better by the Roots trademark musicianship behind her.
If you’re beginning to notice a trend that there are not many music performance videos from “Late Night,” it’s because NBC Universal rarely allows performances on the show to be posted online. As a sort of consolation, here’s the official video for “Countdown,” which is equally as awesome as her performance with the Roots.
Elvis Costello “Brilliant Disguise” and “Fire”
Earlier this year, Fallon did a week-long tribute to Bruce Springsteen, so when Costello came on a guest, it makes sense that he would perform a Springsteen song – and in fact we got two.
The Roots backed him for both performances, and provided “Fire” with a great reggae beat. Of course, it’s not available online, but it was just as amazing at it seems like it would’ve been.
Riot Fest has been a punk festival staple in Chicago for the past eight years, and the festival expanded to include a Philadelphia version last year. But that wasn’t enough for organizers, who have now announced Riot Festivals in Toronto, Dallas and Brooklyn in addition to Chi-town and Philly.
While the Chicago event will take place over three days, all other festivals will be one-day versions, and each will feature a unique lineup. First up will be Philadelphia, which will take place at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing on July 19. Notable acts that will appear at the Philly show include Refused, The Promise Ring, August Burns Red, Off!, Gameface, Boy Sets Fire and Hirs.
After that, fans will have to wait a few months before the next Riot Fest, which will take place in Brooklyn on September 8 at Williamsburg Park. That event will include the Descendents, Hot Water Music, The Bronx, Screaming Females, The Menzingers and Larry and his Flask.
The following day the first Canadian version of the festival will be held at Fort York: Garrison Common in Toronto. The Descendents will make the trip north of the border following their Brooklyn performance, and will be joined by NOFX, Hot Water Music, Less than Jake and Andrew W.K., among others,
Next up is the Chicago version, which will be held over three days from September 14 to the September 16. The first concerts (Friday, September 14) will be at the cities Congress Theater, while the other two days will find the festival moving outside for the first time to Humboldt Park. The expanded lineup also expands beyond the punk genre, and featured performers will be Iggy & the Stooges, Elvis Costello, Rise Against, the Offspring, Coheed and Cambria, Gogol Bordello, NOFX, Gaslight Anthem, Alkaline Trio, Built to Spill, Reverand Horton Heat and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Finally, the Dallas version of the event will close things out on September 22 at the Gexa Energy Pavilion. This show will include Rise Against, Descendents, NOFX, Gaslight Anthem and Less Than Jake, among others.
A family illness has forced Elvis Costello to postpone more shows of his current Spectacular Singing Songbook tour, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t adding new shows at the same time.
Costello first postponed shows in September citing a family illness, as well, and now it appears that the same illness has and will postpone dates in Stockholm, Malmoe, Sweden, Brussels, Eindhoven, Netherlands and Reykjavik, Iceland, according to Pollstar.
The new dates announced are make-up dates for the previous postponements and are all in the Southeastern United States. Cities he will stop in are Melbourne, Fla., Clearwater, Fla., Hollywood, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla. and Durham, N.C. Originally Costello had a show scheduled in Orlando, and though it was not rescheduled, ticket holders can receive a refund at their point of purchase and have the opportunity to participate in a special presale for the Melbourne show.
The Spectacular Singing Songbook is a revived version of a tour Costello did 25 years ago. Part concert, part carnival, Costello has a giant wheel on stage featuring the names many of his songs, ranging from hits to rarities and covers. Selected fans are then invited on stage to spin the wheel, and then the band will pay whichever song is selected.
Costello has also announced European dates for a month long tour in May 2012. Almost all of the 15 dates will be in England, but he will spend one night each in Paris, Dublin and Glasgow.
Costello’s most recent album was National Ransom, released in November 2010. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album featured guest appearances by Leon Russell, Buddy Miller and Vince Gill, among others. The album was similar in feel to the rootsy sound he had cultivated on his 2009 album Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, which also was produced by Burnett.
Another series of dates have been scheduled by Elvis Costello and the Imposters onto their “Revolver Tour,” which is underway. The outing has fans spinning a wheel like on a game show to choose the set list for each stop.
This week the native of London and his band- Steve Nieve (keyboardist), Pete Thomas (drummer) and Davey Faragher (bassist)- continue their road trip with a Charlotte, NC performance on July 16 and then continue with 23 additional shows on the eastern portion of the U.S. They will be wrapping up their current U.S. leg in Montclair, NJ on October 5 and 6 with two shows. After that the group will be heading back across the pond to embark on a European run of one month.
Costello will have “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” with him, just has had on the rest of his “Revolver” run. The gigantic game-show well has titles for 40 songs marked on it, which includes a mixture of hit, rarities and covers. Fans from the audience will be chosen to join Costello onstage for their chance to spin the wheel.
Costello last November released the alt-country album, “National Ransom.” He recorded the set in Nashville and Los Angeles with T-Bone Burnett, the legendary producer. He also released “Live at Hollywood High” earlier this year, which featured music he had recorded originally in 1978.
The ticketing gods today smiled on Missouri, Michigan and Pennsylvania as Elvis Costello added new dates in addition to the start of pre-sales today.
Costello & The Imposters added two new shows, one for June and the other one in July. They are now scheduled to perform on June 16 at Trib Total Medial Amphitheater in Pittsburgh; June 21 at Kresge Auditorium in Interlochen, MI; and July 1 at The Pageant in St. Louis.
Pre-sales will start today at 3 pm. at local market time. Also don’t forget about the VIP offerings. They come with a signed, limited-edition Costello lithograph, National Ransack limited-edition EP, commemorative VIP laminate and EC pick pack. More information can be found at ElvisCostello.com.