For anyone who hasn't yet heard about it, the once-celebrated alternative folksinger's profile has dramatically risen in the wake of anti-gay remarks reportedly made at a San Francisco performance on Sunday. The Change.org organization claims its petition launched by LGBT rights activist John Becker has resulted in promoters pulling the plug on nine of the artist's upcoming performances. (Colorado's Telluride Bluegrass Festival is still weighing its decision, citing a 20-year relationship with Shocked as reason to avoid a rush to judgment.)
Yet for Shocked, this latest outburst isn't as out-of-character as it may seem.
Early on in her career, the alt-folk singer and her then-husband Bart Bull stirred up considerable publicity by likening hip-hop artists to minstrel show performers.
And then there was her trivialization of slavery: In the mid-90s, Shocked filed a $1 million lawsuit against her label, invoking the anti-slavery 13th Amendment as justification for release from her record contract.
Fans of the singer-songwriter may also be surprised by her characterization of black speech patterns at the end of this excerpt from a 2011 New York Magazine profile:
"Shocked spent a few years living in New Orleans, where the congregation called her 'our unique sister.' They vaguely knew she was a singer but weren’t sure what type. Then one day, Shocked appeared as a question on Jeopardy!—Alex Trebek identified her as having sued her record company by citing the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The church’s phone started ringing off the hook: 'Pastor, pastor, Sister Shocked on Jeopardy!'"
And while it's less outrageous than the "God hates fags" statement Shocked supposedly made onstage this week, her views on the issue have been circulating since at least 2008, when Edge Dallas ran an interview with her headlined "Michelle Shocked believes being gay is a sin."
All that said, Shocked's disconcerting behavior still needs to be viewed in the context of a career that includes involvement in progressive events like the all-woman Lilith Fair, widely acclaimed Grammy-nominated albums, and collaborations with soul and blues legends like Pop Staples and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. It may also be worth noting that, according to her bio, the artist was committed by her mother to a mental institution and underwent a series of shock treatment that would subsequently inspire her stage name.
On Saturday, Colorado Springs' new venue on the block will be hosting the English Beat, hot on the heels of the seminal ska-pop revivalists’ five-CD retrospective. (You can read this week’s Indy interview with frontman Dave Wakeling here.)
Then on Sunday, Rawkus will present its first Colorado Native Showcase, featuring local favorites El Toro de la Muerte, Claymore Disco, Murder Hat and the Knightbeats.
In honor of the above, here are some videos to get your in the right and proper holiday spirit:
In this week’s Reverb, we interview Fuel/Friends blogger Heather Browne and Changing Colors musician Conor Bourgal about their Chapel Sessions, the intimate recording project they began two years ago this month.
One of the earliest sessions featured recent Grammy darlings the Lumineers. The Denver-based group has now returned the favor by including two bonus tracks — which come directly from the band’s Chapel Session — on the European pressing of its debut album. The latest Chapel Session, meanwhile, features Colorado Springs’ own Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds.
You can read the Reverb interview here. And also, for the more audio-visually inclined, here are four videos from the Sugar Sounds session.
“Losing My Cool”
"Take a Chance"
"What Lovers Do"
But what’s been lost in the media frenzy is the fact that the new pope has also released his first music video.
OK, fine, that’s not Pope Francis. It’s actually Papa Emeritus II, corpse-painted crooner of the Swedish band Ghost, who recently instructed fans to “participate in the papal conclave” and help elect him to the post.
As of this writing, 7,624 Ghost followers have made their voices heard. And while it’s obviously too late to sway the Vatican, you can still click here to stream the band’s new track, “Year Zero,” in exchange for a belated vote in Papa’s favor.
But now comes good news courtesy of Soundset Festival organizers, who announced their 2013 lineup earlier today. Billed as the world’s “biggest (and best) indie rap festival,” this year’s nine-hour event will feature headliners Atmosphere and Snoop Dogg, as well as performances by Brother Ali, Tech N9ne, Mac Miller, Busta Rhymes, Blueprint, P.O.S., and Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic & DJ Big Wiz.
Better still, among the three dozen artists listed on the festival poster is none other than Colorado Springs hip-hop duo the ReMinders.
Now in its sixth year, Soundset will take place May 26 at Canterbury Park, located a half-hour outside Minneapolis. With some 20,000 hip-hop fans attending last year’s festival, this latest ReMinders coup represents just one more step in Colorado rap’s slow but inevitable march to world domination. Or, at least, that’s what we’re hoping.
Meanwhile, for those with a sense of history, here's a clip of the Reminders playing Harlem's Apollo Theater a few years back.
The petition was launched by Derek Nance, an Eagle Scout and former Boy Scout Camp leader, and directed toward Carly Rae Jepsen, a massive pop star.
Jepsen announced on Twitter this morning that she’ll be cancelling her appearance at the festive jamboree: “As an artist who believes in equality for all people,” she tweeted, “I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer.”
In so doing, Jepsen is following in the tracks of former co-headliner Train, who pulled out of the event last Friday.
Meanwhile, in tangentially related news, a mashup of Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” went viral this week.
That said, I’m pretty optimistic about the email I got this morning from Questlove's publicist saying that he's got a memoir called Mo’ Meta Blues coming out this summer.
I actually got to sit in on a colleague's interview with him once, where we all hung out on the tour bus and listened to the unmastered version of a forthcoming Roots album. And as you've probably heard, he's one of the nicest, smartest, coolest musicians you’d want to meet.
"More than just a series of remembrances,” says the press release, “Mo' Meta Blues is a book that also questions the nature of memory and the idea of a post modern Black man saddled with some post-modern Blues. It's the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.”
Great Peter Max-style cover, too. Plus, there’s this bit of bonus trivia about everyone’s favorite hip-hop Renaissance man:
“Recently making his way into the culinary world with his signature ‘Love's Drumstick,’ Questlove began his own culinary quest with off-premise catering, featuring Creole and Korean inspired soul food with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and “on-a-stick” decadence, for hi-profile exclusive events.”
Mo Meta Blues comes out June 18. Meanwhile, here's a video of Questlove talking about his Fallon show gig, and the special requests it sometimes entails. ("Give me something like Public Enemy, but also like the Brady Children trying to sing 'Let the Sunshine in.'")
Mind you, this is not just any Primus tour — it’s a “3D-enhanced live musical performance,” which means you’ll get to stare at the band through paper glasses for two full sets of what critic Joe Gore once dubbed “thrash-funk meets Don Knotts, Jr.”
If all that’s not enough, the show will be presented in Quad Surround Sound, a technology that's come a long way since the Flaming Lips’ late-90s “parking lot experiments” (see second video below), where audiences were surrounded by cars all blasting variations on the same album from their dashboard cassette players.
Click here for show details and tickets.
From Wu-Tang to Wilco, Alt-J to Amadou & Miriam, and Paul McCartney to Pretty Lights, the Manchester, Tenn.-based festival has outdone its California cousin in a big way this year.
Factor in marquee acts like Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and R. Kelly— plus fast-moving upstarts like the Lumineers, Charli XCX and A$AP Rocky — and it's enough to make you actually want to spend four days in the Volunteer State.
This year's festival runs from June 13-16. Here's the current lineup:
Red Rocks Amphitheatre has released its initial 2013 bookings, which includes a three-night run by the Zac Brown Band, two nights of Avett Brothers, and other familiar faces like Slightly Stoopid, Sting, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, and a reprise of DeVotchKa with the Colorado Symphony.
More recently hyped acts like Fun. and Alabama Shakes are also onboard, along with an unexpectedly resurrected Postal Service.
The complete Red Rocks schedule — which will hopefully include some slightly more adventurous bookings — is traditionally unveiled in the late spring, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here’s what’s been announced so far:
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Slightly Stoopid with Cypress Hill, Tribal Seeds
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Chris Tomlin with Louie Giglio & Kari Jobe
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Zac Brown Band
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Zac Brown Band
Friday, May 10, 2013
Zac Brown Band
Friday, May 17, 2013
Global Dub Festival: Flux Pavilion/Excision
Monday, May 20, 2013
Vampire Weekend & Of Monsters and Men
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Randy Rogers Band / Casey Donahew Band
Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Postal Service
Sunday, June 02, 2013
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros / Alabama Shakes
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Sting: Back to Bass
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
DeVotchka with the Colorado Symphony, plus Amanda Palmer
Friday, July 05, 2013
The Avett Brothers
Saturday, July 06, 2013
The Avett Brothers
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Rodrigo y Gabriela with The Colorado Symphony
Friday, August 09, 2013
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Yonder Mountain String Band
Thursday, August 22, 2013
It’s probably not surprising that the writer of the incendiary “We Can’t Make It Here (Anymore)” is as eloquent, droll and provocative in conversation as he is in his lyrics. But while our interview topics ranged from Lou Reed to gun control, McMurtry held forth on a few other subjects that, due to limited space, didn’t make the print edition.
So here are a few bonus musings from McMurtry’s on his hometown Austin. The town is of course legendary among music fans for SXSW, Austin City Limits and, as the city’s official slogan puts it, being “The Live Capital of the World.”
In fact, you can catch McMurtry playing Austin’s famous Continental Club on any given Wednesday night that he and his band aren’t out on the road. But really, the Loft gig is a lot closer.
On the pros and cons of development: “The food has gotten better, the wine has gotten WAY better, and the skyline is different. There was a time there when they were building so fast that we’d leave on tour and the skyline would be different when we got back. There’s a lot of money coming in, which makes the cost of living go up. But you get something for your money.”
On chronic complainers: “I’ve lived here for over 20 years and nobody’s ever stopped bitching about how much better it used to be. And I just don’t know. I wasn’t here when it was better. It’s always been pretty good.”
On Austin’s future: “It’s an overgrown town, and I don’t think it can ever really be a city. It’s become more like a playground for the rich, you know? All of those condos they build downtown are vacant half the time, ‘cos the people that own them live out in the hill country on their high-fence ranches with their exotic game and all that stuff. So they come here when they want a little city life. But if you want a real city in Texas, go to Houston.”
On live music: “San Antonio has an old world vibe and they’ve always had a great music scene down there, with Doug Sahm and all that conjunto stuff. They’ve got serious music down there, but they don’t have a lot of clubs to play in. That’s the one thing in Austin, you’ve got at least 30 clubs who have music nightly. They don’t PAY great. But the Continental Club does us a world of good. Because there are so many travelers coming through, we get a different crowd every Wednesday. Some of them haven’t heard of us and don’t care, they just show up at the club because it’s been there since the ’50s and they’re staying across the street. So it’s like touring without having to leave town.”
Visit the Loft’s website for tickets and information on Sunday's show. Meanwhile, here's a video for "We Can't Make It Here (Anymore)" — all seven radio-friendly minutes of it — and some lyrics to tide you over until then.
"We Can’t Make It Here (Anymore)"
By James McMurtry
There’s a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s just stretched so thin
And now there’s more coming back from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore
That big ol’ building was the textile mill that fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can’t make it here anymore
See those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They’re just gonna sit there ‘til they rot
‘Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don’t come down here unless you’re looking to score
We can’t make it here anymore
The bar’s still open but man it’s slow
The tip jar’s light and the register’s low
The bartender don’t have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day
Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won’t pay for a roof, won’t pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far $5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one your stores
Bet you can’t make it here anymore
There’s a high school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromatA woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what’ll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? Live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it’s way too late to just say no
You can’t make it here anymore
Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
‘ Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can’t make it here anymore
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
Their kids won’t bleed in their damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore
Will work for food will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
So let ‘em eat jellybeans let ‘em eat cake
Let ‘em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can’t make it here anymore
So that’s how it is, that’s what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you’re listening at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone tell us all why
In Dayton Ohio or Portland Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That’s done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There’s rats in the alley and trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can’t make it here anymore
As reported in this week’s Reverb, Joe Johnson will be debuting his first new band since Creating a Newsense at Front Range Barbeque, featuring Inaiah Lujan and Sean Fanning of the Haunted Windchimes, Josh Desmidt of Broken Spoke, and Jake Klock on fiddle.
Meanwhile, in the less down-home realm, Ensemble Peak FreQuency's "statio hiberna/winter stasis" concert at GOCA (121 S. Tejon St.) this evening will feature Karen Bentley Pollick on violin, Colin McAllister on guitar, Jane Rigler on flute, and Glen Whitehead on trumpet. (Rigler and Whitehead also perform in Phrames of Mind, whose impressive debut at Modbo was the subject of much raving in a Reverb column last month.)
Of course, there’s also Carrie Underwood at the World Arena, but that one’s sold out. On the plus side, online scalpers StubHub on Monday were selling tickets for $140 — a more than 100 percent markup over face value — but have now dropped their day-of-show price to $80.
Tech N9ne, who had two Black Sheep dates scheduled for March, will now be playing just one night. The Kansas City horrorcore emcee was schedule to perform here March 20 and 23 — with a pair of Denver dates in between — but has dropped the second show due to routing issues.
Meanwhile, El Ten Eleven, the L.A. instrumental duo who was set to play the venue this coming Sunday, has called off all four of its Colorado dates.
According to a statement from El Ten Eleven’s management, bassist-guitarist Kristian Dunn suffered an injury that’s landed him in the hospital for the next few days. “The band would love nothing more than to play these last shows of the tour, but that isn't possible now."
Online tickets purchased for either show will be automatically refunded. Those who brought tickets at the club can obtain refunds from the venue box office.
Local musicians infiltrating the venue — which was recently named Westword’s Best New Community Space — include Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds, who held an album release concert at the Deer Pile last Friday.
This week, you can catch Changing Colors up there on a last-minute bill with East Coast experimental singer-songwriter Caethua and West Coast guitarist The Lord Bird Dog. (Yes, indie solo artists still enjoy using pseudonyms that sound like they should be bands.)
Then, on Feb. 23, the venue will feature solo sets by Haunted Windchimes cofounders Desirae Garcia and Chela Lujan.
For those who haven’t made it there yet, the Deer Pile is situated in an artist studio right above City, O’ City, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant located at 206 E. 13th Ave.
In recent years, the music award show has replaced the press conference in which it's traditionally announced nominees with a star-studded “Grammy Nomination Concert” live telecast.
And today, Bonnaroo festival organizers revealed that they will be hosting their own three-hour live event, during which they'll reveal the lineup for the four-day festival held each June on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn.
Granted, this is a more modest affair than the Grammys event, given that it’ll just be streamed on the Bonnaroo 365 YouTube channel. But promoters are promising “classic Bonnaroo performances, live in-studio appearances and performances, audience participation, surprises, giveaways, and hilarity!”
That last bit will ostensibly be provided by host “Weird Al” Yankovic. You can learn more — albeit not much more — by scrolling down to watch the comedian in a promotional clip that Bonnaroo just uploaded this morning. Oddly, the actual date of the announcement has yet to be announced, but you can subscribe to the channel to find out.