Full transcript of exclusive interview
A night of surprises. Well, one surprise.
Legendary guitarist returns with new album, tour
It’s hard to believe that at just 56 (and looking 10 years younger), jazz guitarist Al Di Meola has been making records for closing in on 40 years. That’s what happens when you’re a teen virtuoso and are asked to join supergroup Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke at just 19 years old.
“I guess they heard something I didn’t hear. I was this insecure teenager who joined his favorite band. It was a dream come true. Somebody passed me the ball. … I was thrown in deep water and I had to sink or swim. I knew I had to swim,” Di Meola said recently.
And he has swum for decades, finding new musical directions to explore, new collaborators, new sounds. The New Jersey native’s latest album, “Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody,” features bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, drummer Peter Erskine and more. It’s available for preview here, and Di Meola has started to take it on tour. Besides his own compositions, the album includes ambitious covers of “Over the Rainbow” and the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
MSN: From the “making of” video you posted for “Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody” it shows you and Charlie Haden and Peter Erskine in a traditional L.A. studio. Is that still the way you prefer to record?
Di Meola “I like breaking it up. Most of us nowadays have some sort of home studio. The availability of home systems and Pro-Tools makes it easy to have it right there in your living room or basement. The bulk of the tunes and a lot of overdubbing, mixing, can be done in your own facility. But basic tracks, the solid foundation of the tracks, are better suited for a bigger studio, where you have a full band, separation, little booths, tall ceilings to get the better ambient sound. We tend to go for the better studio, bigger boards, for the basic tracks. Or as in the case of Haden and Erskine, they live on the West Coast. We went out there.”
How do you tackle covering an iconic song like “Strawberry Fields Forever?” You really deconstructed it. Parts of it that used to be heavy now sound almost lilting.
“It’s one of those great, great melodies. It was something that I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to do a whole record, a three-record set (of Beatles songs), just so many great tunes from that repertoire that to this day bring back phenomenal memories of the past. It still holds up. It’s till one of the best records of all time. That era of the Beatles made a big impact on me and still does today in terms of production values. There are certain things I heard in that era production-wise that inspire me to do things with my own music when it comes to mixing. Separating instruments, drums on one side instead of center like everyone does. Just completely separate so when you have a syncopated part of percussion playing a separate part from the drums, the clarity is far more attainable to the listener. It’s something I learned from the Beatles. They used to put Ringo on one side, which I thought was so cool.”
Good or bad, past appearances have always been entertaining
Of course, it always is when Dylan and the Grammys collide. Two words: Soy Bomb.
Fans know that was the Grammy performance that was crashed by a shirtless performance artist with those two words written across his chest, writhing wildly next to a surprisingly calm Dylan as he worked his way through "Love Sick," one of his best latter-day songs.
The Soy Bomb incident has been oddly scrubbed from the official videos, but you can still find video of Michael Portnoy's stage-crashing from the 1998 Grammys. Interestingly, the live version of "Love Sick" that Portnoy tried to interrupt turned out so intense that Dylan actually issued this performance as a CD-single bonus track shortly thereafter. Let's hope this year's performance is every bit as thrilling.
The people have spoken, and trash, thy name is Durst
While the Internet has been atwitter about the possible naming of a building after a man with a controversial sounding name, a similar story has slipped right by the mainstream media.
In Austin, Texas, the Solid Waste Services Department has been searching for a new name that aptly describes the foul, moldering, filthy, rotting, utterly useless stomach-turning waste and goop it hauls away on a daily basis. By a huge margin, citizens have responded that there’s only one name that could possibly do the job: The Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and the Arts.
Now there are some parts of the world where Durst’s mewling with Limp Bizkit are considered sacrosanct, but Austin is a town with a mind of its own – and a pretty creative one at that. With the latest tally, Durst has more than 28,000 votes, 26,000 more than the first runner up. It's still not too late for your vote to be counted.
Durst, for his part, is being a good sport, and putting his support behind it.
Meanwhile, the band's first new studio album in eight years, "Gold Cobra," remains stalled and unreleased. Maybe fans can find it somewhere below.
Sasquatch Line-Up Revealed
The return of the "Spectacular Spinning Songbook"
Elvis Costello and the Imposters have announced “The Revolver Tour” during the merry month of May.
For the first time in 25 years, Costello will let his set-list be chosen by ”The Spectacular Spinning Songbook”, a monumental game-show wheel that features 40 song-titles, including hits, rarities and very unexpected covers.
Audience members will be invited onstage where they may spin "The Wheel" and then be offered a chance to enter the "Hostage to Fortune Go-Go Cage", while their selection is performed.
Alternatively, they may choose to take a seat in the on-stage “Society Lounge”, where light refreshments will be served, during what promises to be a splendid and surprising evening.
The original Wheel was famously donated to the Hartlepool Museum Of Showbusiness Machinery but it has been meticulously reconstructed from the original blueprints.
"The Revolver Tour" includes stops at The Wiltern in Los Angeles May 11, and two nights at New York's Beacon Theatre May 22 & 23.
See below for a complete list of dates.
The Imposters are: Steve Nieve (keyboards); Pete Thomas (drums) and Davey Faragher (bass).
"The Revolver Tour" Dates:
5/7 - RENO, NV GRAND SIERRA THEATRE (on sale 02/12)
5/8 - OAKLAND, CA THE FOX (on sale 02/13)
5/9 - OAKLAND, CA THE FOX (on sale 02/13)
5/11 LOS ANGELES, CA THE WILTERN (on sale 02/11)
5/15 - CHICAGO, IL CHICAGO THEATRE (on sale 02/05)
5/18 - MONTCLAIR, NJ WELLMONT THEATRE (on sale 02/11)
5/19 - UPPER DARBY, PA TOWER THEATRE (on sale 02/12)
5/20 - BOSTON, MA WANG THEATRE (on sale 02/11)
5/22 - NEW YORK, NY BEACON THEATRE (on sale TBA)
5/23 - NEW YORK, NY BEACON THEATRE (on sale TBA)
*Now if only the Elvis wheel could join (armed) forces with the Yo La Tengo wheel currently making the club rounds, we'd have ourselves a serious barn burner.
Also, Led Zeppelin preps a new release and more
Ugh. This one hurts. Only 58 years old, blues/rock guitarist Gary Moore died over the weekend in Spain, according to the BBC and other sources. He did some amazing guitar work with Thin Lizzy, but music fans in the U.S. may know him more from his hit single "Still Got the Blues." Here's a bit of both from a truly under-appreciated guitarist: "Still Got the Blues" and with Thin Lizzy, "The Cowboy Song."
Remember the Led Zeppelin reunion? Yeah, that was December, 2007, one show only in London. Despite numerous bootlegs, the band resisted putting out an official release. Fans may finally get their with; according to band members, the reunion show should have an official release by this summer, only 3 1/2 years after it took place. Given that it took decades to get live footage on "DVD" in 2003, this is known as "fast-tracking" in the Zep world.
Annie Lennox's voice is one of the greatest gifts the music world has ever seen, even if she sometimes doesn't have confidence in it. This happened weeks ago, but I missed it and maybe you did too. Lennox made a TV appearance talking about how she finally has conquered her own stage fright -- then promptly forgot to start singing the next song when her band kicked in. A funny, touching, live on-stage moment.
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