Canadian Civil War on Billboard's Hot Tours chart!
Veteran Canadian singer Leonard Cohen is third on the list of top-grossing tours with totals reported from five of the final venues on his World Tour that spanned almost three years. The last dates on the tour, which began in the spring of 2008, were in western U.S and Canadian markets including Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. as well as Portland, Ore. and Oakland, Calif. The tour wrapped in Las Vegas with two sold out performances at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Dec. 10-11. Combined attendance for both shows was 5,777 with a gross of $744,667.
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"Page One" is a striking solo debut
Steven Page co-founded Barenaked Ladies in 1988 with his pal Ed Robertson, and the Canadian band went from recording demos into a tiny tape recorder to international fame on quirky yet intelligent hits like “If I Had $1,000,000,” “Brian Wilson,” “Be My Yoko Ono,” “The Old Apartment” and “One Week.”
So it was unsettling for Page to feel so estranged from his own band in latter years, whether through writer’s block or a lack of enthusiasm about their direction. They became to Canada what the early Beatles were to England – loveable, wise-cracking musicians writing hit after hit.
That image took a blow when Page made headlines for a drug arrest (the charges were later dismissed) and other turmoil in his personal life. In February of 2009, they made it official, with Page leaving the band for a solo career.
After dipping his toes in a couple of projects, Page took the plunge with the recent release of “Page One” – a play on his name, but also a serious re-starting of his singing and songwriting career. BNL fans will delight in songs like the single, “Indecision,” which sounds like it could have been on the band’s first album, the beloved “Gordon.” Page’s writing is very introspective and autobiographical, and he pulls no punches, especially on himself and his own behavior. It is filled with rumination on fidelity, love, choices, sin and more, all sweetly sung over mostly upbeat melodies.
Page recently did an in-studio performance for Boulder radio station KBCO 97.3 FM, a flagship station for Adult Alternative programming. After performing live, he sat down for a chat about the new album and leaving the past behind.
Singer of "Baker Street," "Stuck in the Middle With You" dies at 63
The Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who has died aged 63 after a long illness, wrote the multimillion-selling hit Baker Street, which more than 30 years after its 1978 release still netted him an annual £80,000. At the end of the 1970s he did his best work, a series of richly resonant albums that gave no hint of their creator's inner troubles.
Rafferty was born in Paisley, near Glasgow, an unwanted third son. His father, Joseph, was an Irish-born miner. His mother, Mary Skeffington, whose name would provide a Rafferty song title, dragged young Gerry round the streets on Saturday nights so that they would not be at home when his father came back drunk. They would wait outside, in all weathers, until he had fallen asleep, to avoid a beating. "If it wasn't for you, I'd leave," Mary told Gerry. Joseph died in 1963, when Gerry was 16.
That year, Gerry left St Mirin's academy and worked in a butcher's shop and at the tax office. At weekends, he and a schoolfriend, Joe Egan, played in a local group, the Mavericks. At a dancehall in 1965, Gerry met his future wife, apprentice hairdresser Carla Ventilla. She was 15, from an Italian Clydebank family. They married in 1970, after courting at the bohemian bungalow of the artist and future playwright John "Patrick" Byrne and his wife, Alice. Byrne, also educated at St Mirin's, had long been Gerry's mentor, and had first interested Gerry in playing the guitar.Billy Connolly was also in Clydebank, and after Gerry's song Benjamin Day failed as a Mavericks single, Gerry and Egan quit the group and Gerry joined Connolly's outfit, the Humblebums, a Clydeside folk act.
The Humblebums' first LP, on the folk-oriented label Transatlantic, predated Gerry's involvement, but he and Connolly were the group for the albums The New Humblebums (1969, with cover art by Byrne, a partnership that later spanned the albums of Gerry's heyday) and Open Up the Door (1970). Despite US releases, singles written by Gerry (Shoeshine Boy and Saturday Round About Sunday) and John Peelsessions for the BBC, there was little reaction and tensions grew between these strong personalities. It was Gerry who urged Connolly to go it alone as a comic. He went solo too. Staying with Transatlantic, his characteristically titled first album – Can I Have My Money Back? – began his real career in 1971, establishing him as a singer-songwriter, bringing folk fans with him and promoting his songs.
Yet in 1972, now with a young daughter, Martha, Gerry rejoined Egan to form Stealers Wheel, a soft-rock group. Their eponymous debut album climbed the US charts and included the million-selling Stuck in the Middle With You, memorably resurrected for a key scene in Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs (1992). But their A&M record contract tied them to huge touring and album commitments, and imposed musicians upon them. Gerry quit.
He was persuaded back, and he and Egan became the sole group members, using backing musicians in the studio and on tours. A now-forgotten single, Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine, preceded the minor hit Star and the 1974 album Ferguslie Park. But Rafferty learned that their royalties had been filched, Egan returned toScotland, and Stealers Wheel collapsed before the release of the album Right Or Wrong in 1975.
Disentangling Gerry from his contracts took three years, but his second solo career, beginning with City to City, was constructed more cannily. Demos for the album were made in Carla's parents' old house, on a four-track machine. Gerry played every instrument, including lentil-jar percussion. Signed to United Artists, he and Hugh Murphy co-produced the album for £18,000 in 1978. Fuelled by the smash hit single Baker Street, it sold 5m copies and Gerry became a millionaire "overnight".
Refusing to tour America, he played a few British dates and recorded his successful follow-up, Night Owl (1979), which yielded further hits: Days Gone Down, Get It Right Next Time and the title track. These, plus the less popular Snakes and Ladders (1980, recorded in Montserrat), are the gorgeously produced works of Gerry's prime. The voice, redolent of both Lennon's and McCartney's, yet unmistakably his own; the music, a shimmering delta of sound; the songs, romantic yet pushily sardonic – all came to fruition thanks to Gerry's gift of perfect pitch and an obdurate determination to stick to his guns.
These were the years I worked for him. I was his personal manager – employee, not svengali – visiting the record company in LA, accompanying Gerry when he was working, and running the small office we set up for him in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sadly, my job was mostly to say "no" to people.
He did not want to have to out-platinum himself: he had money enough, and disliked being recognised. But behind an aggressive front, and a strong awareness of his own musical excellence, was fear. He turned down working with Eric Clapton, McCartney and others, telling Carla "nobody was good enough". In truth, he dared not sit down with superstars without a drink or five. So he sat at home – now 300 acres of Kent farmland and a Queen Anne house in Hampstead, north London – and convinced himself he could work alone with Murphy. Carla said later: "He was just stalling for time. Maybe some new project would suddenly happen, but I knew he'd crossed the line as far as the record business went."
His last successful foray was when, after contributing a vocal to the soundtrack of the film Local Hero (1983), he produced the Proclaimers' 1987 hit Letter from America. Gerry made two more albums that decade – Sleepwalking (1982) and North and South (1988). On a Wing and a Prayer followed in 1992, Over My Head in 1994 and Another World in 2000. They marked a decline in sales and standard.
He had always drunk too much, and now he spiralled into alcoholism, putting on weight, which made him unhappier. "He became dangerous at airports," said Carla, "and he'd scream across restaurant tables at me." In phases of renunciation, he smashed cases of superb wines into a stream on his land. Carla finally left in 1990: "There was no hope. I would never have left him if there'd been a glimmer of a chance of him recovering." She remained a source of dependable help, in contact until the end.
After their divorce, farm and Hampstead home gone, Gerry eventually moved to California, near to Martha, who worked for him. In 2008 Gerry left America, helped from wheelchair to plane by a woman he met in a video store. They rented a house in Ireland, until taxis and doctors refused to attend him. That August, a five-day binge at a five-star London hotel ended when the management had him admitted to hospital. He vanished in the night.
Splashed across the Sun, this story was otherwise ignored until 2009, when the Daily Mail resurrected it. Rafferty, urged to issue a statement, announced that he was "extremely well", living in Tuscany and preparing a new album. He was relatively well, but in Dorset, not Tuscany. He never made another album. For two decades, alcohol had dominated this creative and intelligent man's life.
He is survived by Martha, his granddaughter, Celia, and brother, Jim.
• Gerald Rafferty, musician, born 16 April 1947; died 4 January 2011
New album streaming at NPR
Also, the concert industry tanks, Spiderman woes and a radio station worth listening to.
Katy Perry's new song, "Part of Me," was supposed to be included in her "Teenage Dream" album but didn't make the cut. And oops, the song has "leaked" just in time to promote a re-release of that album with bonus cuts.
Yoko Ono took out this full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times.
U2's Broadway production of Spiderman has hit more troubles as the lead actress leaves the production for good after suffering a concussion. Bono and the boys might take some comfort reading about other high-tech Broadway flops.
Speaking of flops, the entire concert industry took a nosedive in 2010. Click on the video below for an explanation.
And finally, holiday travels made me stumble across a radio station actually worth listening to - and you can get it online for pennies a day. K-PIG broadcasts a weak signal near Santa Cruz, California, but is available online for a monthly fee. You can't hear it without paying, but just check out the playlist and you'll be happily signing up.
Lead Singer Disease or Classic Band Dude Bitterness?
* “Zac and I had a garage band in high school with the intentions of just making music for the love of it. We met Taylor and our friend Jason Clark at our school and found out that we shared the same musical tastes. So, we asked them to join our band. It was some of the greatest times of our lives playing music in Taylor’s basement with them. We obviously needed a lead singer and one day Zac met Hayley. We asked her to come try out and eventually to join the band.”
* “Months down the road things changed and this band became all about Hayley. She had a manager at the time that controlled her every move along with her parents.”
* “I got a call a while after that from Hayley telling me that her manager said that Zac and I were invited to be back in the band (the band we started), but not Taylor and Jason because they weren’t good enough in his eyes. Hayley brought in Jeremy and our first rhythm guitarist Jason Bynum as the other two members.”
* “We travelled to LA a few weeks later for a showcase and it was a nightmare. Hayley’s manager would tell the band to be in the lobby of the hotel at a certain time, but he and Hayley wouldn’t show for hours. We found out that they had been meeting with record label executives all morning without us, which is totally weird given that this wasn’t simply a solo artist, but we were a band.”
* The label and management then decided to build our band up the grass-roots route. They put Hayley on Fueled by Ramen not making it known she was signed to Atlantic as well.”
* “Her dad would constantly threaten to ‘pull the plug’ on the whole band if we complained about anything, suggesting that we were hired guns and Hayley was the real artist, when in reality we were also part of the band. We’ve always been treated as less important than Hayley. It’s been obvious how her family views things."
* “Once again we hit the road and toured on our biggest record as a band. As you all know Hayley and I dated and broke up during this album cycle. Things then started going downhill for our band.”
* “Once we finished touring on Riot, we came home for a break and started writing for Brand New Eyes. Hayley presented lyrics to us that were really negative and we didn’t agree with. For example, “the truth never set me free”, which contradicts what the Bible says in John 8:32 (’and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall sat you free’).”
* “We fought her about how her lyrics misrepresented our band and what we stood for, but in the end she got her way. Instead of fighting her any longer, we decided to just roll over and let it go.”
* “Touring became more difficult since we couldn’t agree on anything. The friendships our band once had were no longer existent.”* “After a lot a prayer and counsel Zac and I came to the decision that it was time to leave the band. We truly feel that God is leading us elsewhere and is going to do great things with us. The intention of this statement was not to belittle or disgrace the rest of the band, it was simply to clarify our decision for leaving and our desire to finally tell you guys the truth.Public band feuds come and go, but this one could have legs. Merry Christmas!!
One of the greats turns 53
...You don't want to call it socialism, because that would tarnish it with totalitarianism and negative aspects in a lot of people's minds, particularly in America. But trying to work collectively to make the world a better place: I don't care what it's called. As long as it makes the world a better place.
You know what [former leader of the Chinese Communist Party] Deng Xiaoping used to say? "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." And he was using that to say [that] it doesn't matter if it's a capitalist economy or a communist economy, so long as it feeds people.
But it's the same with capitalism. We have capitalism in the U.K., but we still have free health care. They have capitalism in Scandinavia, where some people think it's socialism. In the end, pure, unadulterated socialism doesn't work. But let me tell you: Pure, unadulterated capitalism doesn't work either. It's not either/or. The way to move ahead is to find a balance between the two, because some things you can't provide through public services.
You can't put the public sector, the state sector, into everything. But equally, there's some things you can't provide through the free market. We found that out in the last few years here [in Britain], by privatizing the railways. There are some things that need state funding because they have to work. They can't go bust. They're to do with the logistics of the country. America may be the most capitalistic country in the world, but it doesn't stop you from subsidizing your farmers, does it?
Whatever we call it, I don't really care, so long as people are getting their free health care and their free education, their decent, affordable houses and proper pensions. I'll get on me soapbox again: The rights of the individual can really only be guaranteed through collective provision of those things. Otherwise, only the rich and powerful will get to express their individuality, and we'll just be exploited by them.
In the end, the freedom of the individual relies on collective provision. But this is all too complicated for most people. They'd rather just buy a Che Guevara T-shirt and do good things. But these are issues that are going to have to be addressed if we're going to do anything about climate change, for example. I think everybody's starting to realize that climate change is much, much more of a threat to our daily lives than al-Qaida has ever been.
We give and we give and we give....
If winning Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival DVDs wasn’t good enough, here’s another chance for a freebie this year – tickets to Maroon 5’s New Year’s Eve show in Atlantic City.
All you’ve got to do is click this link to register to win the tickets – but hurry, the deadline to enter is Dec. 20. Good luck! You can see a longer explanation from the band itself in the video below.
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