Scots singer/songwriter Dot Allison got some increased visibility in the critically acclaimed documentary "Scott Walker: 30 Centry Man," and she also got signed by Walker's managers. Her new album, "Room 7 1/2," is due out September 7. From SW30 director Steven Kijak:
The album includes Dot's nocturnal rendition of "Montague Terrace (in Blue)" from our SW30 cover album. Also featured are some amazing collaborations with Pete Doherty, Mick Harvey and Paul Weller, to name a few. The album was produced by another star of SW30, Rob Ellis.
The album is gorgeous, full stop. She's done it again! So while we all wait for the latest from Mr. Walker (and wait...and wait...) dip into Dot's new disc!
I heard from filmmaker Stephen Kijak today that Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, his award-winning documentary about the music of Scott Walker, is about to hit US theaters:
Scott Walker takes a decade to make a record. So it only took us, oh, about two years following our film festival debut to get this damned thing into theaters. Not bad. So if you haven't seen it, downloaded it illegally, bought a PAL copy and unlocked your DVD player - save the date! NYC leads the pack with a week run at the IFC Center. SF/Berkeley will follow on Jan 23. More info to follow on that and other bookings. Plexifilm is releasing and will put out the DVD sometime in the Spring.
You can sign up to get updates on the film, including info on future release dates in the US, festival showings, and a prospective US DVD release over on Facebook's Scott Walker Film Fans.
I saw 30C Man at SXSW two years ago, and reviewed it for Club Kingsnake here. I also interviewed Stephen and associate producer Gale Harold about Scott, his music, and the film over on AfterElton.com.
It really does seem like forever more than two years since I saw the film... and here in San Francisco, it looks like only two more months before I can see it again. I'm not sure but I think I can probably live through that.
Guitarist Slash and his wife Perla Ferrar send out this message in support of marriage rights for all:
I married my sweetheart. You should be able to marry yours, too. So say no to hate and yes to equal rights. Keep up the fight...Be loud, be proud and stand up for your rights.
In the message, they encouraged everyone to find an event in your area on Saturday, Nov. 15, the National Day of Protest of the passage of Prop 8 in California, which stripped lesbian and gay Californians of the right to marry and forcibly divorced over 18,000 couples who had legally tied the knot since the state had recognized marriage equality the previous June.
Bo Diddley - photo by Gary Miller - Contributing Photographer
The legendary Bo Diddley died today in Archer, Florida, of heart failure. After suffering a stroke while on tour last spring, he then had a heart attack last August. He never fully recovered from either. From NPR:
Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates in Mississippi and grew up in Chicago, where he played guitar on street corners before being discovered by Chess Records. He leaves behind a sound that helped build a musical movement.
Diddley's signature rhythm, among the most distinctive beats in rock 'n' roll, can be heard on songs like "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley." Scholars trace the pattern to church tambourines, West African drumming, and a hand-patting rhythm called Hambone that goes back to slavery. But Diddley told the public radio show American Routes that he found it someplace else.
"I was trying to play 'I Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle' by Gene Autrey, and stumbled upon that beat," Diddley said.
The beat may have come from a television cowboy, but later, Diddley described it as "basically an Indian chant."
"Just picture dancing around a daggone big fire, dancing around with their spears," he told Morning Edition in an interview.
Regardless of the beat's source, music historian Peter Guralnick says that Diddley made it big enough for everyone.
"That was just an invitation for people to step into," Guralnick says. "Lots of people imitated it; lots of people carried it on."
These people included Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen.
Full obituary here, and see the great man in action under the jump...
I won't pretend these are the "World's Greatest Political Songs," because they're not. They are some of my favorites, that's all, representing a fairly narrow range of musical genres, taken off the "Just Politics" playlist on my iPod. In no particular order:
will. i. am. of the Black Eyed Peas, "Yes, We Can"
Supergroup song mixed to a speech by Barack Obama. It's had over 7 million views on YouTube, and it's what inspired this post. Love him, hate him, vote for him or not, this was one hell of a speech, and one brilliant song and video:
Peter Gabriel, "Biko"
I lied about the "not greatest" part because I truly think this might be one of, if not the, greatest political songs. I saw this tour, which was a benefit for Amnesty International, in Oakland, California, and this performance was unbelievable. What actually sicks most in my mind, though, is that he was introducing a song and said something like, "This is a song about love -- the love between a woman and a man, or a man and a man..." and there was loud booing from the audience. He made them turn up the house lights and read the crowd, and said that anyone who had booed should leave immediately. I cried.
Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad"
This live version was performed with Tom Morello.
The Nightwatchman, "Alone Without You"
Speaking of Tom Morello... this is a song he wrote after seeing a pre-release screening of "Sicko." The fucked up health "care" system in this country is on my mind right now, seeing a fully employed friend who has no health coverage at her job and can't get it privately due to serious pre-existing conditions is literally on the brink of living in the streets because she can't get health care... way to go, America. So while there are at least a dozen Nightwatchman songs I could have chosen, I chose this one today:
The Dead Kennedys, "Holiday in Cambodia"
These guys always had something sharp and raw to say. I used to tell them they were too testosterone-y back in the day, but I miss them now.
I don't know what it is about cover songs -- I just love 'em. This is John Lennon's brilliant "Working Class Hero," from his first post-Beatles album, 1970's "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band." I once heard a version of this song by Yoko Ono, but it must have been a bootleg because I can't find it now, no matter how hard I search.
First, of course, the original.
Then the version that in my view is the best, better than Lennon's, the brilliant live cover by the indomitable Marianne Faithful; she also has a studio version from her iconic album "Broken English," but I like this one better:
Green Day's version, part of a benefit for the people of Dafur, and also pretty fucking great:
Folksy treatment by Tina Dickow from "Instant Karma," a tribute to Lennon recorded to benefit Amnesty International. Strong, but not as much my taste:
I heard that Cyndi Lauper's live version of this is good, but sadly, both the audio and video in this clip are so bad, you couldn't prove it by me. She looks damn good, though:
Bowie did a jazzy/glammy live version in 1989 -- kind of creepy, really:
Marilyn Manson also covered this song. There's a short, bad quality live clip here, and an audio only clip here. And another audio-only clip here, from Ozzie Osbourne.
I left Clint and Jeff in Austin and headed home after 8 days -- completely exhausted. I had to leave at 5 this morning, which means I've had around four hours sleep, if that. I got back to San Francisco around the time I would normally be getting up. There just isn't enough coffee in all the Starbucks in all the aiport waiting areas in the world to fix that.
My final day at SXSW was the longest and busiest of the entire week, but two events dominate it absolutely: the premiere of an unbelievably powerful documentary, "Body of War," and the showcase concert that followed, featuring artists from the soundtrack including Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, the Nightwatchman), Ben Harper, and Billy Bragg.
The undeniable star of both events was Tomas Young (photo of him visiting Ground Zero, courtesy of bodyofwar.com), the disabled Iraq veteran who is the subject of the film.
I'm still waiting for Clint to upload photos from the "Body of War" film q&a and the concert, and will post more then -- he just texted me from the streets of Austin that he's uploading them shortly. But in the meantime, the CD will be released Tuesday, and the film starts nationwide in the next few weeks -- different dates in different cities. The schedule can be viewed by clicking on "In Theaters" here.
I went for the soundtrack -- and it is incredible, featuring original material by Eddie Vedder as well as contributions from dozens of other alternative artists. But right now I'm just grateful the music got me there, because I wouldn't have missed this for the world.
This morning, Lou Reed will be giving the keynote address for the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, which starts at 11:30 AM Eastern Time. I saw him yesterday at the U.S. premiere of "Lou Reed's Berlin," after which he did an audience Q&A.
As has been usual here in the Austin Convention Center, there's almost no internet access whatsoever, and I may or may not be able to update this as I go along.
This is a live record of the address. I'm typing it in real time and there will be typos. Only things in quotation marks are direct quotes; anything else will be a paraphrase or summary. If you're reading in real time, hit "refresh" now and then to see new material.
Clint is here shooting and we'll get photos added to this post as soon as the Internets allow I have updated with photos.
Roland Swenson one of the founders of SXSW, welcomes us and thanks us for coming out early this morning after a late night.
Last year he stood before this audience and said he feared the war would still be going on and none of the political candidates would be acvocating an end to the war in Iraq... and that was true. Three trillion dollars for the war. What we spend on the war every three days would provide health insurance for every child in the country who does not have it. Conservative pundits say the war is going well. The families of the soldiers who died in the last week would probably disagree.
The good news is that this time next year, we'll have a new president. Normally 75 people attend his local caucus -- this year, 400. "A posture of disaffected cynicism is a luxury we can no longer afford." To quote last year's keynote speaker, Pete Townsend, let's get on our knees and pray we don't get fooled again.
Introduces Louis Black, fellow SXSW founder and editor of the Austin Chronicle.
Lou Reed is such an impotant and influential artist that he's actually, for the first time, nervous. Says SXSW is about artists who are following their vision. If they weren't successful, they keep doing it anyway. They are driven. They have to do the work they do.
Lou Reed has always stayed true to his vision, and he has always inspired other artists because of that.
Standing ovation as Reed takes the stage. Hal Wilner is with him.
Reed calls Wilner one of the great producers, and his friend. They have worked together a long time.
Wilner says he feels like Tony Soprano and his shrink.
"Pretty funny, huh?" deadpans Reed. "Good thing you're a producer."
Wilner said yesterday they showed the American premiere of Julian Schnabel's "Lou Reed's Berlin." Less than half the audience had seen it, though.
Wilner: Lou's heard this before, but this is one of the great things he did (Berlin). Lou is sort of the rock and roll Miles Davis as far as more than half a dozen times, what he does has basically changed the direction of rock and roll. You can't deny the influence of the Velvet Underground, Transformer, Street Hassle, Metal Machine Music.
It is an amazing thing to be be able to put it on stage with choir, strings, horns, the original producer... all from 1973.
"Worst album ever made," "Most depressing album ever made" Reed says, quoting reviews.
Reed: Only a couple of successes, Wild Side, Berlin, Rock and Roll Animal. Berlin was used in a lawsuit against me by management to show why I shouldn't be able to handle my own affairs if I made a record like that. A great example for those seeking guidance in the music industry.
New York was a baby success.
Wilner: People call Billie Holliday records depressing, but they're also very healing.
Reed: Tour is going back out this summer, but only in Europe. Staged originally in Brooklyn with New York people except for Rupert on keyboards. But not in LA, music business town. Not in the states. For those of you who went yesterday, that's what we wanted to show you.
Lou Reed is doing the keynote address for SXSW Music tomorrow morning, and I'll be liveblogging it, but this afternoon he made an unscheduled (but not unanticipated) appearance at the U.S. premiere of "Lou Reed's Berlin," a film by Julian Schnabel.
Shot over five nights at St. Anne's Warehouse in Brooklyn, "Lou Reed's Berlin" is a film of the first live performances ever of Reed's legendary 1973 conceptual album. Because Reed was one of the first alternative music artists I ever listened to, after hearing a Patti Smith bootleg of the Velvet Underground's "White Light, White Heat," and because "Berlin" in particular is an album I have loved for its music and for the time in my own life it evokes, this film was pretty much the reason I came to Austin -- that and the hope of seeing Reed perform, and hearing him speak.
So it's really no surprise that the concert the film depicts blew me away. It was brilliantly conceived and executed -- with even the somewhat-loose-on-the-lyrics Reed nailing every phrase perfectly.
Austin's Paramount Theater did full justice to the film's excellent sound, particularly the guitar solos by original "Berlin" guitarist Steve Hunter as well as Reed. There was an orchestra, conducted by original "Berlin producer" Bob Ezrin, who along with Hal Willner produced the stage show.
Fernando Saunders on bass, Tony "Thunder" Smith on drums, Rob Wasserman on stand-up bass, and keyboardist Rupert Christie were backed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and... Antony.
Antony, of a group called Antony and the Johnsons, has what may be one of the most perfect voices I've ever heard. He caught my ear once or twice during "Berlin," but for an encore, he and Reed did a duet on "Candy Says," and his insanely beautiful and powerful falsetto knocked me flat. At the end of the song, Reed looked at him with affectionate awe, and just gestured at him and said, "Antony."
Director Julian Schnabel is an painter. He's a renowned filmmaker as well, and I thought the staging (which he designed) as well as the concert footage were amazing. As a live performance, the lighting and use of film on stage worked extremely well.
What did not work for me was the extra footage shot by filmmaker Lola Schnabel (Julian's daughter). I had an image of Caroline, Jim, and the setting of "Berlin" in my mind already, and seeing it spelled out was jarring for me.
Before the film started, Reed was escorted into the theater and seated on the aisle just three seats away from me. I'd have been surprised if he wasn't there, but he wasn't an announced guest. I admit I kept glancing at him during the film to see how he was reacting to it -- and several times caught him moving his head in time to the music.
After the film, he and producer Hal Wilner took the stage to answer questions from the audience. This is from my notes; only things in quotation marks are direct quotes.
Q: How did this project come about?
Hal Wilner: Susan Feldman first suggested it as part of the arts programs at St. Anne's in Brooklyn. It seemed so big, so unlikely -- just a dream. "But she pulled it off eventually."
Q: Please talk about how the two of you created those guitar sounds.
Lou Reed: Me and Wilner, we've been working a real long time now to get those sounds and not lose your hearing. I've known Hal since the Kurt Weil album.
Hal Wilner: I'm from the old school of production. We brought back the original producer, Bob Ezrin, along with Steve Hunter and keyboardist Rupert Christie.
Lou Reed: "Well, wouldn't that be nice?" He explained to the audience "Time Rocker" is a play he wrote with Robert Wilson. They never got to record it. "This was not supposed to be first in a series."
"Why not?" shouted someone in the audience.
Reed said he never thought it would happen, there's no money in it; that's why.
Q: Antony... what's the story there?
Lou Reed: We met through Wilner...
Hal Wilner: They were doing another play with Robert Wilson. While looking through some records for a singer, he saw one called "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy" by Antony and the Johnsons, so he gave it to Reed with a bunch of others.
Lou Reed: He played it and after around 10 seconds, said, what an astonishing voice. And he was like 15 minutes away. "That's New York." Then he added, "Antony is 6'4". Don't screw around with him."
Q: Will you work with Robert Wilson again?
Lou Reed: "We're always threatening to."
Q: How much time did you rehearse with the youth choir?
Hal Wilner: Three time together. Other times they rehearsed with music teachers etc.
Q: How did you and Julian work together?
Lou Reed: "Julian's been in love with this album for a long time. He just understood it. There are some things you don't even have to discuss. And that's how."
Q: How did it feel to revisit the emotions of this album, which run very deep?
Lou Reed: "The main thing to me is, do the lyrics hold up?....It's about jealousy, and impotence, and the inability to communicate." He tried not to use slang venacular in case they ever had the chance to do it later.
They finished up to loud applause. I'll be back in the morning with his keynote address, and Clint will be there to shoot that, so we'll have photos. Now I'm off to see Tom Morello!
A conversation with Moby, SXSW 2008 - photo by Clint Gilders - staff photographer
I'm at South by Southwest in Austin, and as I did last year with Pete Townsend's keynote address, I'll be liveblogging first this conversation with dance/electronica artist Moby, and tomorrow, rock legend Lou Reed
I'm doing this live, so there will be typos. If you're following in real time, just hit refresh on this post from time to time so you can see new material. Anything with quotations marks is a direct quote; otherwise, it's a paraphrase
The conversation will begin at 4 PM Eastern Time, around ten minutes from now. Clint is here with his cameras, and we'll try to add photos as we go along. If that's not possible, we'll add them at the end
I should also mention that this world-class internet conference has truly crappy internet connectivity so if it's a while between updates, blame Austin
From the program description:
This session, hosted by BMI, will take a look at the musician's relationship with cinema, from composing original scores (Southland Tales) to contributing and licensing his music for film and TV projects (The Bourne Ultimaturm, Heat). In addition, it will include a look at "moby gratis," the musician's new endeavor to offer some of his music, free of charge, to independent filmmakers.