Willie Nelson sings for his freedom
A melodious end is in sight in the marijuana case that ensnared the country singer Willie Nelson when a search of his tour bus last November by keen-nosed West Texas troopers turned up a small stash of the prohibited weed: he will be let off on condition he sings for the judge and prosecutor in court.
The novel deal was cooked up by the attorney Kit Bramblett, who had been chosen to prosecute the case. "You bet your ass I ain't gonna be mean to Willie Nelson," he declared this week, revealing that he had even selected the song he wanted to hear, also a favourite of Judge Becky Dean Walker.
Thus the next time Nelson travels anywhere close to the tiny town of Sierra Blanca in western Texas, he will be required to show up in Judge Walker's courtroom and give his best rendition of his own classic number, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain". There are no plans – as yet – to sell tickets.
It sounds like a sweet deal for the performer, who in theory faced as many as 150 days behind bars if convicted of the original charges for possession of six ounces of marijuana. Upon his arrest he was taken to a county jail and only released upon payment of $2,500 bail.
Mr Bramblett later concluded that there had not been as much weed on the bus as originally estimated. Exactly how that discrepancy arose is not clear, though Mr Bramblett offered one explanation to a local paper that presumably was not said entirely in earnest. "Between me and the sheriff, we threw out enough or smoked enough so that there's only three ounces," he told the Big Bend Sentinel.
"Willie Nelson is 77 years old and I'm 78," Mr Bramblett added. "He's been my favourite artist all my life. We all know he smokes a little pot."
Nelson, who has campaigned to legalise marijuana, will also have to pay $378 in fines and court fees.
Death Cab for Cutie makes live-on-the-web video today
OK, my Spanish sucks, and the actual Día de los Muertos is in November.
But the day has arrived where Death Cab for Cutie will make video history by shooting its new video in one take, live, streaming on the internet as it happens at 7 p.m. Eastern time/4 p.m. Pacific.
Want to see it? Set your watches, timers and cellphones and don't be late. Click here for the link that will let you see the video as it happens later today.
Neil Young gets the band back together and has more treats for fans
After their reunion at the Bridge School Concerts last October it became one of the worst-kept secrets in rock 'n' roll, but today they made it official: Buffalo Springfield is reuniting, and the first dates have been announced.
Granted, it's 3/5 of the original band, but the chance to see Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay revisit their history is too good for fans to resist. The band is starting out June 1 with just a handful of dates in smaller venues (a testing-the-waters tour that was postponed from February) before a full-fledged tour kicks off in the late summer/fall.
But wait, there's more! Young digging into the vaults for some rare songs with his '80s band, the International Harvesters. “A Treasure” is set for June 10, rare recordings from the International Harvesters tours.
Young had posted a YouTube video previewing the music, but it has already been pulled. The album cover, however, is out there. No word on a tracklisting yet.
Band will film its new video without a net
Death Cab for Cutie
Given that MTV is dead (or brain-dead, at least), it seems like videos aren’t the hot promotional must-have that were once able to make or break bands. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, your video isn’t going to see much airplay on the traditional airwaves/cable, but never underestimate the power of viral.
Plus, even if videos are passe, they last forever. Van Halen’s video for “Jump” (reportedly filmed for a few hundred bucks as a screw-you to big-budget, self-indulgent crap like “Thriller”) is still alive and well, and still features an extra David Lee Roth shriek you won’t find on the studio version. Likewise, when the Beatles decided they weren’t going to go on live TV anymore to promote their songs, their music videos became heavily sought-out classics that are alive and well on YouTube today – again, with different mixes than you’ll find on the studio albums.Even the Eels have alternate versions out there.
What’s the point? Death Cab for Cutie (a band who’s name was taken from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song featured in the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” film, a hour-long video in itself) looks to make history Tuesday by making a video while the whole world watches. As Bill O'Reilly once famously said, "We'll do it live!"
And do it live they are.
On Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern time/4 p.m. Pacific, Death Cab for Cutie will film the video for “You Are a Tourist,” live, in one take, broadcast live as they do it at www.youareatourist.com.
If that’s not enough, Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, will have behind-the-scenes photos and prep work going o9n at www.facebook.com/bing the same day. The song “You Are a Tourist” is available at all the usual download sites right now (or you can just listen here); the full album, “CODES AND KEYS,” doesn’t come out until May 31, so this is a very early sneak-preview of what the band has in store for you.
Clothing store taps the Sex Pistols - sorta
There’s really no such thing as selling out anymore. Bands clamor to get their songs on commercials and TV shows. What was once unthinkable has become common place. The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg said the following in an interview in 1999:
“I remember telling somebody ten years ago, maybe longer – I said ‘One day, punk rock is gonna sell beer.’ (laughs). And they go ‘Get out of here!’ I'm goin' ‘Mark my fuckin' words. It's gonna happen.’ And when it happened, it's like part of me wants to smile and the other part is ‘Why can't I ever parlay this into some sort of fortune?’”
Still, it seems a little disingenuous when a major upscale department store chain whole-heartedly rips off the Sex Pistols without ever uttering the band’s name – and uses it to sell clothing to teenage girls that no self-respecting punk in England in the ‘70s would be caught dead in.
Macy’s has discovered the Sex Pistols, it seems, using imagery that is undeniably associated with the band to sell its wares. At in-store displays up and down the California coast (and most likely nationwide), there’s a whole set of graphics that scream “Sex Pistols” without uttering the band’s name.
There’s a portrait of the Queen and the Union Jack (ala the Pistols’ single, “God Save the Queen.”). The word “anarchy” is prominent in the display (as in “Anarchy in the UK.” I’m pretty certain Macy’s doesn’t want anarchy breaking out in its stores). The word “vicious” is prominent, cashing in on the dead bass player Sid.
It’s a complete homage to the Sex Pistols, yet it all conspicuously avoids anything that names the band by name – thus avoiding any need to give any credit or pay any royalties as they use the images Johnny Rotten and crew so shockingly pioneered 35 years ago. All this to sell teenage girls overpriced clothes in the triple figures.
It reminds one of the “Ghostbusters” controversy, where for some unfathomable reason the movie producers commissioned Ray Parker Jr. to come up with a song just like Huey Lewis’ “I Want a New Drug” (and got successfully sued) or when Frito Lay used a Tom Waits imitator for one of its commercials (and got successfully sued). This faux-Pistols imagery seems to fall far enough away from the band that a lawsuit seems unlikely, despite the obvious rip-off (a tip of the hat to Macy’s legal department – well done, gentlemen).
Then again, with Rotten making butter advertisements in England these days, he just might admire such hypocrisy.
SHOCKER: Radiohead's 'Universal Sigh' Leaks
'Newspaper album' to be accompanied by newspaper
Not content with changing the way music is released, Radiohead are to branch out into newspaper publishing. To promote the physical edition of their eighth album, The King of Limbs – which comes out on Monday everywhere bar North America, which must wait until Tuesday – the Oxford band have worked with artist Stanley Donwood to produce a wholly undigital ink-and-paper handout called the Universal Sigh. Their envoys will be at 61 locations worldwide, giving these tabloids away.
This isn't The King of Limbs' first brush with newspapers. While the record's initial release was digital-only, Radiohead are also selling a so-called "newspaper album" version, shipping on 9 May. For £30, fans get a set comprising CD, two 10" vinyl records, and at least "625 tiny pieces of artwork". The Universal Sigh "IS NOT the newspaper that accompanies the newspaper album version of The King of Limbs", Radiohead have advised. "This event WILL NOT be repeated [and it] IS NOT a live performance by Radiohead."
Word of the free newspaper first leaked out via reports from Greece, picked up by a handful of Radiohead fansites. A version of the tabloid was even for sale on eBay before publication. But it was only last night the rumours were confirmed, with the official unveiling of the Universal Sigh website.
Donwood had previously described his work on a mystery project on his blog : "My new project, possibly the most ambitious yet, is taking shape across the digital lines of communication," he wrote. "This new project will, if everything goes to plan, involve many major cities of the world. I feel a little like a Bond villain, hiding from the world in this hilltop fastness, with lists of capital cities taped to the walls of my lair, scrumpled versions of my plans littering the metal floor. I should think up a suitable codename for it, perhaps."
David Lynch directs Duran Duran and Kelis?
With the CD version of their new album All You Need Is Now out this week, iconic New Romantic band Duran Duran did a concert for VEVO’s American Express-sponsored “Unstaged” series yesterday in L.A. As a bonus, one of our fave artists of 2010, Kelis, joined lead singer Simon Le Bon for vocal duties on “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” and “Come Undone.” David Lynch directed live performance clip, which features creepy floating heads and a hovering radio. Watch below.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to experiment with the band, Duran Duran, at the Mayan Theater,” said Lynch, as quoted by MovieLine.com. “The idea is to try and create on the fly, layers of images permeating Duran Duran on the stage. A world of experimentation and hopefully some happy accidents.”
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