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Reply #30 posted 08/08/18 7:56am


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African Queens cover (Scorpio Music, 1977)

Original Ritchie Family members Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason-Dorman, and Gwendolyn Wesley, plus Philly soul songwriter Phil Hurtt, reflect onAfrican Queens (1977), the trio's chart-topping homage to Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and the Queen of Sheba.

The month of August has always been good to the Ritchie Family. It was during August 1975, 1976, and 1977 that the trio scored three number one disco hits, fueling the most commercially successful period in the group's history. Perhaps it's because the Ritchie Family's music captured the carefree spirit of summer, a time of blazing sunsets and whispering surf, of joyous, all-night dancing. Even the titles of their number one dance hits — "Brazil" (1975), "The Best Disco in Town" (1976), "Quiet Village" (1977) — were passports to adventures in paradise. While original group members Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason-Dorman, and Gwendolyn Wesley emerged as regal songbirds who made the Ritchie Family synonymous with class and glamour, it was only a matter of time before they portrayed actual royalty. In this exclusive interview with PopMatters, the trio shares the story behind their celebrated disco classic, African Queens (Marlin/TK, 1977).

Named after arranger/producer Richie Rome, the Ritchie Family was masterminded by French producer Jacques Morali via Can't Stop Productions. Largely influenced by Rome, whose lush arrangements fashioned hit productions for the Three Degrees and Jackie Moore, Brazil (1975) featured the cream of Philadelphia-based Sigma Sound Studio session players. Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, and Evette Benton (aka "the Sweethearts of Sigma") sang vocals on the title track and helped send "Brazil" to the disco singles chart. From August through September 1975, the Ritchie Family's cover of Ary Barroso's bewitching standard completed a seven-week stint at number one.

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Building on the success of "Brazil", Morali decided to make the Ritchie Family more than a faceless, one-off studio project. He hired three vocalists who could morph his musical ideas into a legitimate recording and touring act. Two of the singers, Wooten and Wesley (at the time, Gwendolyn Oliver), had sung together since they were 11-years-old and subsequently enjoyed success as members of the local Philadelphia quartet, Honey & the Bees. "We lived in the same neighborhood," Wooten explains. "We were best friends. Everything she thought was funny, I thought was funny. Everything that she hated, I hated. We were in lockstep."

The third singer, Cheryl Mason-Dorman (formerly Cheryl Mason-Jacks), originally hailed from Columbus, Ohio. "When Cheryl came along, it was a little hard for her because her whole outlook was different," says Wooten. "Gwendolyn and I were from the 'hood so to speak. Cheryl already had a Masters degree. She was very down-to-earth, very friendly, and very sweet. It was fun and it was funny, but we all came together very quickly."

(RCA/Victor 1976)

Arabian Nights (1976) unveiled the newly invigorated Ritchie Family. Once again, Morali recorded the tracks at Sigma Sound, but shifted the group's US label home from 20th Century Records to Marlin Records, a subsidiary of Henry Stone's T.K. Productions. He also added Phil Hurtt to the group's creative team. Hurtt arrived with a number of illustrious credits to his name. He'd produced acts like Sister Sledge, Jackie Moore, Bunny Sigler, and the Persuaders, and penned tunes for the O'Jays, Billy Paul, and Joe Simon. Most notably, he collaborated with producer Thom Bell on the Spinners' million-selling "I'll Be Around".

Upon recommendations from Richie Rome and Sigma Sound GM Harry Chipetz, Hurtt met with Morali and his partner at Can't Stop Productions, Henri Belolo. Hurtt recalls, "The very first thing we did was 'The Best Disco in Town'. Jacques gave me tracks that were recorded by some friends of mine — I didn't know it was them at the time — Gypsy Lane. I took the tracks home after Jacques gave me what he thought was the melody for this whole thing. To make up the tune, I had to pull together all these little pieces that he had. I brought two sets of lyrics back for him to listen to. I sang the first set. He loved it so he never heard the second set!"

With lyrics by Hurtt, "The Best Disco in Town" was a clever compendium of various disco flavors, from Philly soul ("TSOP") to Eurodisco ("Fly Robin Fly"), to hits by Labelle ("Lady Marmalade"), Donna Summer ("Love to Love You Baby"), and a sly nod to the Ritchie Family's own "Brazil" and "Romantic Love". "We were performing a little of everybody," notes Mason-Dorman. "It was like you were going to a disco. You were standing outside and you opened the door and you heard this music being played. You closed the door. You opened the door again and somebody else is playing." Grouped with original songs "Baby, I'm On Fire" and "Romantic Love", Morali gave "The Best Disco in Town" the opening slot on Arabian Nights.

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Side Two featured a side-long medley centered around the theme of the title track. The trio recorded their vocals in keys that were already set, a process that was dramatically different from what Wooten and Wesley had experienced in Honey & the Bees. "We were used to someone writing a song," begins Wesley. "We'd listen to it with our manager. We'd figure if we liked the song and then we rehearsed it in our key. They'd go in and lay down the rhythm tracks. We'd come in and record and then they'd go back and put in the strings or horns. Jacques' way of doing things was unique. He had a concept and then he would go in and record the whole track. The only thing that was needed was our voices. We had no say-so about it because it was really his thing. Of course being professionals, we did what we needed to do whether we liked it or not."

Morali's process worked: Arabian Nights was one of the hottest disco sets of 1976 while "The Best Disco in Town" became a worldwide smash. In August 1976, the song topped the national disco chart and ascended the Top 20 on both the pop and R&B singles charts. It also made the Top Five in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia, soared to number ten in the UK, and climbed the Top 20 in Germany and Sweden.

"It was phenomenal," Wooten exclaims. "Coming from Philadelphia, you hope for a national hit. The international success of 'The Best Disco in Town' blew our minds. We had no idea that when we'd go to Australia, South America, France, Belgium, that they'd know all our music. That was one of the most remarkable things that we'd ever experienced! They'd collected pictures and newspaper articles. I remember in the Philippines, they gave us this huge book full of all this stuff they'd collected about the group." Wesley continues, "I cannot remember one time that we weren't treated royally. They absolutely adored us. They were extremely nice to us. I have nothing but great memories about that."

(Marlin, 1977)

The Ritchie Family quickly returned with Life is Music (1977), an album that further honed the group's identity while highlighting the respective talents of each vocalist. Hurtt was granted more time to work closely with the group on vocal arrangements. Having co-produced Honey & the Bees with Bunny Sigler, he had a very keen sense about what qualities each vocalist brought to the group. "Their voices are similar and yet they're different," he says. "Gwendolyn has a sweet tone to her voice and her demeanor is the same way — very sweet — but underneath all that is some fire. Wooten is a more earthy singer. She's a very soulful singer. Cheryl's voice probably embodies the two qualities that the other girls have, but her voice is a little bit stronger. When you put those three together, they have a really good blend, harmonically, and a good blend in their chemistry."

Wooten continues, "We usually got with Phil and he'd play the music for us. We'd work out the harmonies. From the time that we got in, whether it was six hours, more or less, we got the job done in that allotted time. It would be in one session, generally. We didn't do seven or eight hours and have to come back the next day to do it some more."

Occasionally, Morali interrupted the proceedings with his own set of demands. "If the group was not smiling, Jacques did not think they were performing," Hurtt chuckles. "He'd tell them, 'Do it again. You are not smiling.' I'm looking at him like, 'What are you talking about? They sound great!' I would tell the engineer, 'Keep that track. Don't erase that!'" Morali's idiosyncrasies notwithstanding, Life is Music featured an appealing set of six tracks molded in a distinctive pop-disco style with traces of Philly soul.

However, the album marked Rome's swan song with the group. "Richie Rome quit," says Hurtt. "I felt bad about it because Richie was the one who put the whole thing together, musically, for Jacques in the beginning." The group itself was left with more questions than answers about Rome's departure. "At the time, we didn't really understand what the issues were," says Wooten. "We weren't privy to the details and the parameters of what that relationship between Jacques and Henri and Richie was, but we were prepared to continue moving." Legendary arranger Horace Ott replaced Rome and wrote arrangements for the group's subsequent albums.

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Within months of Life Is Music, Morali hatched African Queens, the fourth Ritchie Family album and arguably the group's most ambitious set. "Jacques had his concept for Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and the Queen of Sheba," Hurtt recalls. "It was the first time that I'd seen a producer like Jacques reach out to the African concept using three African queens. I think he had a respect for all women, but in this particular instance, African women."

The trio welcomed the idea. "I thought it was a great idea because nobody ever illustrated it in that way," says Wesley. "I thought it was about time. I really enjoyed that idea." Mason-Dorman continues, "Since all of us are African American, it was fabulous to be able to portray three of the most famous African queens who existed. We were excited about it and I think he picked the right ones for each of us. Cassandra had that flair that you would expect from the Queen of Sheba and Gwendolyn had that regal Cleopatra look. I kind of looked like Nefertiti when I put on her outfit. I did some research about my queen and I knew the things she stood for, which were similar to some of the things that I stood for."

Writing the lyrics, Hurtt fleshed out a narrative for each of the queens and created an overarching theme: "three different shades of love who gave the world a shove". He was inspired by what each queen represented plus the strong personas within the Ritchie Family. The lyrics also had to complement Morali's flamboyant production style. "I was listening to the music and understanding that it couldn't be serious," says Hurtt. "It had to be campy. It had to be fun. That's the way I had to approach it, unlike a lot of the R&B and pop things that I've done. It was more pop-disco than it was soulful, but it still worked."

Morali still sought to relay some sense of authenticity and hired one of the most revered percussionists in the world. "I walked into the studio and I saw this drum section with these huge drums," Hurtt continues. "I saw Olatunji with the people that were attending to him. They called him 'Baba'. It was exciting for us. I think that Jacques thought adding authentic African drums would make it grittier." Nearly 13-minutes long, "African Queens" was made of many elements: anthemic melodies, romantic flourishes, and dramatic musical interludes. Like a short Hollywood film set to a 4/4 beat, it introduced three characters whose stories left indelible impressions on listeners.

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Side Two was bookended by two collaborations between Morali, Belolo, and Hurtt, "Summer Dance" and "Voodoo". Both songs gave the group some solo turns. "We wanted the people to know we sing," says Wooten. "One of the things that we wanted to do more of was sing songs that had lead vocals and backgrounds. There was a little more of that with 'Summer Dance' and 'Voodoo'. I felt like we were being heard at last."

The trio's vocals wafted above an incessant beat and intricately orchestrated strings. Both songs typified Morali's way of working, which meant sparing no expense on the production. "He hired the best people he could find in the city," says Hurtt. "He knew who to cast. He would sit with Gypsy Lane and say, 'Give me a groove.' Gypsy Lane would find the groove and Jacques would do his interpretation of a melody, what he wanted to hear. By the time he got the tracks laid, then it was time to have somebody like myself come in, take his idea of a song, and write the song. I would give him a set of lyrics and make sure that the singers knew what I was doing. He would ask me to go in and work with them in the studio."

Rounding out a trio of songs thematically linked by warm climates, Morali brought Les Baxter's "Quiet Village" onto the project. Eighteen years after Martin Denny scored a Top Ten hit with the song, Morali brilliantly recast it for clubs. The group was only required to learn four separate lines of lyrics. "There was so much music," says Wooten. "I knew that it would be a difficult song to do live because when you have that much music you're sashaying around on the stage for long periods of time. How do you keep the audience engaged? I guess I thought about that more after it was done. When I listen to it, it's beautiful music. I loved the music. You were transported."

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Just looking at the African Queens album was enough to transport listeners, even before the needle dropped on the record. All three members were adorned with custom gowns designed by Eve's Costume in New York. "They had done the costumes for Roots (1977)," notes Wooten. "We went there and we were just fascinated by the fabrics. There were people from Broadway shows that we recognized who were there for fittings. That was just an amazing experience. Those costumes were heavy! I had this big headdress on and a huge jewel-like collar."

Scaled-down versions of the outfits doubled as stage wear. "The costumes were gorgeous," Mason-Dorman continues. "They were made for us, that's why they fit us so well. Because we were traveling, we couldn't wear those all the time, so we had another one made for regular shows. The gowns were less elaborate and less heavy so we could pack them and carry them around." Whether gracing the set of American Bandstand or charming television audiences in France and Italy, the group promoted African Queens in full regalia.

Choreographer Richard Moten blocked movements that accentuated the flow of the trio's gowns. He'd known Wesley and Wooten even before the Ritchie Family. "When Cassandra and I were in the Honey & the Bees, we took dance lessons," says Wesley. "Richard was our dance instructor. When we got with Jacques, and after things started rolling, he wanted to know if we knew anyone who could choreograph our pieces. We asked if Richard wanted to do it and he said he did. That's how he got the job." Moten occasionally accompanied the group onstage during dance sequences. He'd later work with Village People and create the iconic moves to "Y.M.C.A.".

By August 1977, "Quiet Village", "African Queens", and "Summer Dance" collectively held the number one spot on the disco chart for three weeks. The popularity of Morali's style continued to dominate the chart when his production of Village People's self-titled Casablanca debut supplanted the Ritchie Family from the top for seven weeks. However, African Queens struggled on the albums chart, stalling at #164 on the Billboard 200 and peaking at #57 R&B.

Though T.K. Productions was one of the most prolific disco-oriented labels, the company's success with the Ritchie Family in the pop and R&B arenas had dimmed somewhat since Arabian Nights. Perhaps it's because the Ritchie Family had less direct contact with the label than other artists on the roster. "We didn't really go to the record company and hang out or mix in and blend in," says Wooten. "I don't remember meeting (T.K. founder) Henry Stone. Most of our interactions were with the people in New York at Can't Stop Productions. We had people out of Florida that ended up going on the road and working with us. We worked with (T.K. artists) KC & the Sunshine Band, Dorothy Moore, and George McCrae."

Of course, the US represented only one market. Internationally, the Ritchie Family stood among the world's top disco acts. "Jacques and Henri came with a global perspective about where they wanted us to be," notes Mason-Dorman. "We are very grateful to them for that. We got to see the world when we were young. We got to enjoy a lifestyle that opened up our vista about what life could be about and what performing could be about."

However, recording three consecutive albums with Morali exacted a toll on the group. "It was work on our part just to have a relationship with him because he was very demanding," says Wesley. "He didn't mean to, but he tried to dictate our lives. There were times when, if we were going to have an interview, he would tell me, 'Gwendolyn, youtalk!' It's like, 'No, we're a group. We're going to all talk.' He would try to single somebody out, like Diana Ross & the Supremes. We weren't going to do that. There was just so much that I could take."

Wooten adds, "It just got to be a contentious thing. After getting over the initial excitement, we realized that, creatively, we weren't going to have a lot of input. We felt like glorified robots. Jacques felt like, 'Look at how much I'm doing for you. You had nothing until you met me.' We felt that his ideas weren't the only ones in town. We had ideas. We stillhave ideas."

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To the trio's shock, they were dismissed from their own group. "One day we were there and the next day we weren't," says Mason-Dorman. "There were some other people there that were being called the Ritchie Family." Hurtt was equally surprised by the switch. "I didn't know what had happened," he says. "When I went to the studio for the sessions that followed that, there were three new girls in front of me. Where'd they come from?" The founding members of the Ritchie Family had no forewarning that Ednah Holt, Jacqui Smith-Lee, and Theodosia Draher would soon replace them and resume recording with Morali.

"I did not realize until much later that what Jacques had actually planned to do was not renew our contract," Wooten confides. "He was probably already out there shopping for other girls. We didn't know that. It was hurtful and it was insulting. I felt like my career had been aborted. We did not have a chance to fulfill what we wanted to do because of somebody else's ability to cut us off. We didn't own the name so we couldn't do anything with the name."

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While Wesley retreated from performing, Wooten and Mason-Dorman tried to salvage their singing careers. They formed CasMiJac with Michelle Simpson and sang background on John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy (1980). Following Lennon's murder, both Mason-Dorman and Wooten stepped away from singing, seldom disclosing their past to others. "I convinced myself that I didn't want to sing anymore and that was just a phase of my life," says Wooten. "That wasn't true. It was that I suppressed my true feelings. I adjusted and I went on. I was happy, but deep in my heart I never got a job that I enjoyed more."

Decades passed before the original Ritchie Family members realized that listeners had not forgotten about them, especially when Ritchie Family archivist, Hans de Vries, contacted Wooten from the Netherlands. Mason-Dorman recalls, "Hans contacted Cassandra and said, 'I'm looking for Cassandra Wooten of the Ritchie Family. Are you her?' She wrote back, 'Yes, I am.' We had no idea that anybody anywhere remembered us. We thought that nobody cared what happened to us, because we never got totell anybody what happened to us. We just thought that time in our lives was over."

With the advent of social media, Wooten and Mason-Dorman realized just how much they were still adored around the world. In 2011, after trademarking the group's name, they relaunched the Ritchie Family with new member Renée Guillory-Wearing. Since reuniting, they've been booked at first-class casinos in the US, made promo appearances in New York for the book First Ladies of Disco (James Arena, 2013), performed at the prestigious DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware for the 2013 Golden Mic Awards, and recently co-headlined the 2018 Disco Diva Festival in Gabicce Mare, Italy. Most impressive of all, their voices graced the Billboard dance charts for the first time in nearly 40 years when their comeback song "Ice" (2016) peaked at #40 in November 2016.

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In reclaiming their legacy, the Ritchie Family seeks to maintain the glamorous, sophisticated image they projected in the '70s. "If you're the Ritchie Family and this image of yourself is a classy disco group, then you come out and give people that," says Wooten. "You don't come out and give the people a watered-down, cheapened version. One thing that you can say about Jacques and Henri, they wanted to do everything first class. They took us to the best places, whether it was restaurants or clubs. They always used the very best musicians and the best studios. The guys who took photographs for Vogue and high fashion magazines, these were the people who took our photos for our album covers. It wasn't just Joe up the block! They never skimped. They were willing to spend the money. They set a certain standard and it's a standard that we've come to expect."

Reflecting on African Queens, the group appreciates their decades-long friendship with Phil Hurtt. "He's a great songwriter," says Mason-Dorman. "He was a good teacher of music. He was there to hear how we sounded, so he could apply that knowledge to whatever he was writing for us. He's so personable. He was fun to work with." Wooten concurs, adding, "Phil was just a delight, very warm and bubbly, always encouraging and very supportive. When we did something well, he'd be our cheerleader: 'Yes, yes! That's that sound.' He was just a cool guy."

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Hurtt has equal affection and admiration for the group. "I really enjoyed working with them because we had a really great time," he says." African Queens was a culmination of a relationship with some great women and the time that we spent together. They were receptive to the ideas that I would give them vocally. They listened. They worked hard. All of them were comedians. We laughed the whole time. We had a great run together. Hopefully, we can do more." African Queens not only remains a highlight of Hurtt's history with the Ritchie Family, but part of the gateway for a whole new legion of fans discovering the group's legacy.

Among the albums the trio recorded in the mid-'70s, African Queensalso holds a special place for the original members of the Ritchie Family, if only because it was their last album with Morali. "The albums are all so different in their own way, but when I listen to African Queens, there's a little sadness," says Wooten. "It's different when you're doing something for the last time and you know it, but it was the last album that we did and we didn't know it. It was the end of an era. We're very proud of African Queens because 'three different shades of love' was us. Each of us was very satisfied with the historical person that we were matched to be. We were very happy with that whole concept."

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As much as Cheryl Mason-Dorman, Cassandra Wooten, and Gwendolyn Wesley are music icons to audiences across the globe, they are also survivors. "We remained who we were before we went in," Wesley says. "We didn't have any drama at all. We still have a very good relationship." That sentiment is shared among all three original members. "All along we were building a family," Mason-Dorman concludes. "They called us the Ritchie Family. We weren't really family in terms of blood, but webecame a family." Indeed, the bond between these three regal queens lives beyond the grooves.

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Reply #31 posted 08/08/18 8:19am


Bomba Estéreo Drop New Video for ‘Amar Así,’ Announce Headlining U.S. Tour

Colombian dance-pop duo’s romantic new release doubles as a political message


Colombian dance-pop duo Bomba Estéreo's romantic new video doubles as a political message.

Orly Anan

Following their electrifying appearance at this year’s Lollapalooza, Grammy-nominated Colombian duo Bomba Estéreo has detailed their biggest U.S. headline tour to date. The band celebrated the news with a new video for “Amar Así,” the latest single from their 2017 album Ayo; it is the band’s first release since the viral remix of “To My Love,” crafted by reggaeton kingpin Tainy.

Whereas most Bomba Estéreo videos see frontwoman Li Saumet (or her child alter ego) strutting across the screen in bright colors, “Amar Así” depicts a budding romance between two soldiers stationed on a remote island off the coast of Colombia. Tension builds as the men are drawn closer, culminating in an ephemeral glimmer of vulnerability. “This song speaks about love,” says director Ivan Wild of the video. “When I was planning the concept for this video, I was researching the depiction of men, especially soldiers, as well as the stories of intimacy between men displayed in art and across history — all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome. I wanted to break down the idea of a man in a uniform, a man at war — the classic ideas of great adventures and travails across grand oceans. I wanted to show their more intimate moments. The power of nostalgia for a kiss and warm embraces. Memories of a love that puts you in a spell, ‘un amor así.'”


According to Bomba Estéreo’s Simón Mejía, however, the video is also a statement of resistance: The band strategically chose to release it during the inauguration of the new Colombian president elect, right-wing populist Iván Duque. “The world is passing through a crazy time,” Mejía tells Rolling Stone. “Not only in Colombia, but all around it seems like extreme conservative policies are taking over and it is pretty scary. As artists our only weapon is to keep on pushing the opposite way. We are trying to remind everyone that the world should be a place where there [is] no prejudice for sexual orientation, race or religion. Maybe then, we will be a better society.”


Now touring the Southeast, the band has tacked on additional dates in their headlining run following several dates in Latin America. The group’s 2008 song, “Fuego,” was recently named one of Rolling Stone‘s 50 Greatest Latin Pop Songs.


Bomba Estéreo Tour Dates

August 7 – Nashville, TN @ The Cowan
August 9 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
August 10 – Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live
August 11 – Miami, FL @ The Fillmore
August 18 – Guayaquil, EC @ Parque Samanes
October 6 – Guadalajara, MX
October 9 – Mexico City, MX @ Pepsi Center
October 10 – Monterrey, MX @ Auditorio Rio 70
October 13 – Tijuana, MX @ Black Box
October 20 – Morelos, MX
November 24 – Buenos Aires, AR @ Ciudad Cultural Konex
November 26 – Montevideo, UY @ La Trastienda
November 28 – Santiago, CL @ Teatro Caupolican
November 30 – Sao Paulo, BR @ Audio
December 5 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
December 7 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theatre
December 8 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
December 11 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
December 12 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
December 13 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
December 15 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

Win Camila Cabello - Reinvention DVDs


Ends: 23 August 2018
Camila Cabello - Reinvention

Camila Cabello has evolved into a force to reckon with!

As a member of Fifth Harmony, her unique voice has allowed her to stand out as a solo artist. With hits including Bad Things with Machine Gun Kelly, Crying in the Club and the UK #1 smash hit Havana, she's become a household name. Her album Camila reached #2 in the UK charts when it was released in January this year. However, Camila's success is no coincidence.

This is the story of how a young girl born in Havana Cuba turned her dream into reality.

To enter let us know what tickets are on sale on our ticket partner page.

Just send an email with WIN in the subject line to please list your name, EMAIL, ADDRESS, TWITTER HANDLE (if available) AND what tickets are on sale here.

It's that simple! Best of luck!

You can double your chances by liking & retweeting the competition on our new Competitions Club page @competitionsC. Good luck & tag friends for extra entries.

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Is Brian Johnson reuniting with AC/DC to record a new album?

Nick Reilly | Aug 8, 2018 8:23 am
  • acdc-920x584.jpg
AC/DC's Brian Johnson and Angus Young
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He's been spotted with drummer Phil Rudd in Vancouver...

AC/DC are rumoured to be working on new music with former frontman Brian Johnson and ex-drummer Phil Rudd, after the pair were spotted together in Vancouver.

Johnson was forced to leave the band in 2016 after suffering hearing loss, before being replaced by Axl Rose. Rudd, meanwhile, departed in 2015 after a string of publicised legal problems.

But it seems that the classic line-up could be getting together once more after the pair were spotted in the Canadian city, where the rock icons have recorded all their albums over the last two decades.

A photo posted on Twitter shows Johnson and Rudd relaxing outside the city’s Warehouse Studios – and it’s claimed that the rest of the band are in tow too.

The rumors are no more: Brian Johnson and Phil Rudd are back in AC/DC (in some sort of capacity). What. A. World. #ACDC …

Vancouver website The Straight claims to have been contacted by a local who spoke to Stevie Young – the nephew of guitarist Angus Young.

“The guy tells me that he had a quick chat with a couple of members of AC/DC in downtown Vancouver this morning”, The Straight’s Steve Newton claimed.

“One of the rockers that he talked to was Stevie Young, Angus Young’s nephew, who took over the rhythm-guitar spot in AC/DC from Angus’s brother Malcolm in 2014 when Mal started suffering from the health problems, including dementia, that he would succumb to last November.

“…the other rocker my source talked to was none other than, get this: Phil Rudd! Yes, Phil Rudd, the longtime AC/DC drummer who was himself replaced behind the kit by Chris “Thunderstruck” Slade in 2015 for the band’s Rock or Bust World Tour.”

The only stumbling block in the story so far seems to be the apparent absence of guitarist Angus Young.

NME has contacted AC/DC’s management for comment.

Carrie Underwood Announces ‘Cry Pretty 360’ Tour Dates – and Pregnancy

Variety Staff

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Seven-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood announced dates for her “Cry Pretty Tour 360,” which launches in the Spring of 2019. Sponsored by Calia, the tour will kick off on May 1 in Greensboro, NC, and play 55 arenas across the U.S. and Canada and be promoted by AEG Presents. She will be joined on tour by special guests Maddie & Tae and Runaway June.

Underwood made the announcement this morning in a video to her fans, full dates appear below:

As for the tour’s distant launch date, Underwood also revealed that she is pregnant with her and husband Mike Fisher’s second child. “You might be wondering or asking, ‘Carrie, why is your tour starting in May?’ Well…yay! Mike and Isaiah and I are absolutely over the moon and excited to be adding a little fish to our pond,” Underwood said after the camera pulled away to reveal balloons spelling out the world “BABY.” “This has been a dream come true with the album and baby news and all that stuff.”

Tickets for the concerts go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, August 17 at 10 a.m. local time. For more information including the Cry Pretty album/ticket bundle, go to Also beginning Monday, August 13, a limited number of exclusive VIP Packages will be available.

Citi is the official presale credit card for the tour, and cardmembers will have access to purchase presale tickets beginning on Monday, August 13 at 12pm.

Underwood will release her new album, “Cry Pretty” — her first on Capitol Records Nashville — on September 14. She appears to have recovered fully from injuries suffered during ...n November, which she described as “gruesome.”

Following her “Storyteller Tour – Stories in the Round,” the new production will feature a brand-new stage in the middle of the arena floor, creating a 360-degree setting to allow fans on all sides of the arena an view. Barry Lather (Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson) is the tour’s Creative Director, and Nick Whitehouse/Fireplay (Justin Timberlake, Beyonce) is Production Designer.

“I love performing in the round,” says Underwood. “It’s so much fun for me and the band to play in every direction and creates a much more intimate and immersive experience for the audience, even in a larger arena setting. It’s been exciting to introduce audiences to Cry Pretty and I can’t wait to bring the new album to life on this tour, along with all of the songs we love to play live. I’m thrilled to be going out with an amazing line-up – Maddie & Tae and Runaway June are incredible artists that are going to bring even more electricity to our shows.”

Underwood has arranged for a donation of $1 from each ticket sold for The Cry Pretty Tour 360 to be contributed to Danita’s Children, which aids children in Haiti, while encouraging families to stay together through their education and nutrition programs.


Date City Venue May 1, 2019 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum May 3, 2019 Birmingham, AL Legacy Arena at the BJCC May 4, 2019 N. Little Rock, AR Verizon Arena May 6, 2019 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center May 9, 2019 Phoenix, AZ Talking Stick Resort Arena May 11, 2019 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena May 12, 2019 Fresno, CA Save Mart Center May 14, 2019 Sacramento, CA Golden1 Center May 16, 2019 Oakland, CA Oracle Arena May 18, 2019 Bakersfield, CA Rabobank Arena May 21, 2019 Portland, OR MODA Center at Rose Garden May 22, 2019 Spokane, WA Spokane Arena May 24, 2019 Tacoma, WA Tacoma Dome May 25, 2019 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena May 28, 2019 Edmonton, AB Rogers Place May 31, 2019 Saskatoon, SK SaskTel Centre June 2, 2019 Winnipeg, MB Bell MTS Place June 9, 2019 Toronto, ON Scotiabank Arena June 10, 2019 Ottawa, ON Canadian Tire Centre June 13, 2019 Hershey, PA GIANT Center June 15, 2019 Cincinnati, OH U.S. Bank Arena June 16, 2019 Indianapolis, IN Bankers Life Fieldhouse June 18, 2019 St. Louis, MO Enterprise Center June 20, 2019 Milwaukee, WI Fiserv Forum June 21, 2019 Minneapolis, MN Target Center June 23, 2019 Lincoln, NE Pinnacle Bank Arena Sept 10, 2019 San Diego, CA Valley View Casino Center Sept 12, 2019 Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center Sept 14, 2019 Salt Lake City, UT Vivint Smart Home Arena Sept 16, 2019 Denver, CO Pepsi Center Sept 18, 2019 Wichita, KS INTRUST Bank Arena Sept 19, 2019 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center Sept 21, 2019 Houston, TX Toyota Center Sept 22, 2019 Lafayette, LA Cajundome Sept 24, 2019 Dallas, TX American Airlines Center Sept 25, 2019 Oklahoma City, OK Chesapeake Energy Arena Sept 27, 2019 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena Sept 29, 2019 Columbia, SC Colonial Life Arena Sept 30, 2019 Raleigh, NC PNC Arena Oct 2, 2019 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden Oct 4, 2019 Washington, D.C. Capital One Arena Oct 5, 2019 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center Oct 10, 2019 Boston, MA TD Garden Oct 12, 2019 Pittsburgh, PA PPG Paints Arena Oct 13, 2019 Buffalo, NY KeyBank Center Oct 16, 2019 Cleveland, OH Quicken Loans Arena Oct 17, 2019 Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Center Oct 19, 2019 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena Oct 20, 2019 Jacksonville, FL Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena Oct 23, 2019 Memphis, TN FedExForum Oct 24, 2019 Tulsa, OK BOK Center Oct 26, 2019 Des Moines, IA Wells Fargo Arena Oct 27, 2019 Sioux Falls, SD Denny Sanford PREMIER Center Oct 29, 2019 Chicago, IL United Center Oct 31, 2019 Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena

*Tickets on sale Friday, Aug 24th in Wichita, Kansas City and Sioux Falls

Lady Gaga Announces Dates for Two Different Las Vegas Residency Shows


Lady Gaga has announced dates and details for her residency at Park Theater at the new Park MGM resort in Las Vegas, which launches on Friday, Dec. 28.

The residency will feature two unique shows in the venue: “Lady Gaga Enigma” is “a brand-new odyssey of her pop hits built as an experience unlike any other,” while “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano” will feature stripped-down versions of her hits as well as music from the Great American Songbook.

“I can’t wait to share ‘Enigma’ with all of my fans and with Las Vegas,” the singer said. “We’re creating a show unlike anything I’ve done before. It will be a celebration of all that is unique and different within us. The challenges of bravery can be overcome with creativity and courage that is grown out of adversity, love and music.”

Bill Hornbuckle, President of MGM Resorts International, said, “Working with Lady Gaga and her team has been a career highlight for me. What she is planning for Las Vegas audiences is nothing short of spectacular. Welcoming her into our family will firmly position Park MGM as the city’s most exciting new destination.”

Citi is the official credit card of the residency, presented in partnership by Live Nation and MGM Resorts International.

Members of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters fan community will receive access to an exclusive pre-sale beginning Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 10 a.m. PT to Sunday, Aug. 12 at 10 p.m. PT. For more information, visit

Tickets starting at $77.90 (not including applicable service charges or fees) go on sale Monday, Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. PT. A limited number of VIP packages including meet and greets also will be available. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at or Tickets also can be purchased through the MGM Resorts International Call Center.

2018 Performance Dates: LADY GAGA ENIGMA Shows

December 28; 30 – 31

2019 Performance Dates: LADY GAGA ENIGMA Shows

January 17; 19; 24; 26; 31

February 2

May 30

June 1; 6; 8; 12; 14

October 17; 19; 23; 25; 31

November 2; 6; 8

2019 Performance Dates: LADY GAGA JAZZ & PIANO Shows
January 20

February 3

June 2; 9

Hear Elvis, Lisa Marie Presley Duet on Revamped Gospel Song

“Where No One Stands Alone” features on new compilation of Elvis’ gospel songs


Elvis Presley duets with his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, on a newly revamped version of gospel song "Where No One Stands Alone."

Elvis Presley Enterprises, Jim Smeal/BEI/REX Shutterstock

Elvis Presley duets with his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, on a newly revamped version of “Where No One Stands Alone,” the title track from the late singer’s upcoming posthumous compi...spel songs.

The two singers alternate and harmonize over piano and pedal-steel on the ballad, which, in its original form, appeared on Elvis Presley’s 1967 LP How Great Thou Art. “Once I stood in the night/With my head bowed low/In the darkness as black as could be,” the elder Presley sings. “And my heart felt alone and I cried oh Lord/Don’t hide your face from me.”

RCA/Legacy Recordings, which will release Where No One Stands Alone on Friday, paired the song with a lyric video featuring family photos and in-studio footage of Lisa Marie Presley in the vocal booth. The footage was shot in studios in Nashville, Hollywood and New York, including two sites where Elvis himself had sang.

“It was a very powerful and moving experience to sing with my father,” Lisa Marie Presley wrote in the project’s liner notes. “The lyrics speak to me and touch my soul. I’m certain that the lyrics spoke to my father in much the same way.”

“Recording with all that history, in rooms that Elvis recorded his most memorable tracks, with the singers that backed Elvis in his most powerful performances, and with the raw emotion of his daughter Lisa Marie singing ‘with’ her father in the same room her father sang in a memory that we will cherish for the rest of our lives, and beyond,” Joel Weinshanker, one of the project’s producers, told Rolling Stone in a statement.

The 14-track album also features newly recorded instrumentation and backing vocals from many other Elvis collaborators, including Darlene Love; Dr. Cissy Houston; Terry Blackwood, Armond Morales and Jim Murray (of the Imperials); and Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland (of the Stamps).

“This was his favorite genre — no question about it,” Presley wrote in the liner notes of her father’s taste. “He seemed to be at his most passionate, and at peace while singing gospel. He would truly come alive — whether he was singing just for himself and me at home, or on stage in front of thousands of fans.”


[Edited 8/8/18 10:21am]

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ABBA En Español? A Look At The Group's Mega-Successful Latin Career

ABBA photographed in 1974.

ABBA is firmly in our minds thanks to the new Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again film and news of Cher’s upcoming ABBA covers album. They’re also firmly on our mind because in the midst of this explosion of interest for Latin beats and Spanish-language music, it’s important to honor ABBA as one of the original Latin music believers.

Nearly two decades before the 1990s “Latin explosion,” or even the rise of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, ABBA realized the potential of the Latin music market and in 1980, releasing an all-Spanish album, Gracias Por La Música(Thank You For The Music).

The album wasn’t a whim. ABBA had tested Latin waters earlier with a Spanish language version of “Chiquitita” that was a huge hit throughout Latin America, and later, a Spanish version of “I Have a Dream” titled “Estoy Soñando.”

For Gracias, the group included songs that already came with Latin flair – namely “Hasta mañana” and “Fernando” – as well as hits like “Mamma Mia” and “Conociéndote, Conociéndome” (Knowing Me, Knowing You). The group enlisted the help of a Spanish journalist to coach in pronunciation, and there are multiple videos that show Björn Ulvaeus being interviewed in excellent Spanish and defending his project for Spanish-speaking fans.

In other words, ABBA did that reverse crossover all the way, from inception, to execution to promotion, respecting the language and attempting to understand the culture as opposed to simply capitalizing on a current trend. On subsequent albums, ABBA included one or two songs in Spanish versions for their Latin fans, the same formula that would be applied years later by the likes of Ricky Martin and Shakira when they recorded English albums.

In 1993, the group’s Spanish language songs were released under the compilation Oro, which reached No. 37 on the Top Latin Albums chart (dated Dec. 25, 1993) and No. 15 on Latin Pop Albums (also chart dated Dec. 25, 1993). And of course, there’s the Spanish language version of the musical.

As for those of us who grew up in Latin America listening to ABBA in Spanish, many of us thought given their titles that “Chiquitita” and “Fernando,” had been written, in Spanish, for us. Heck, I still think the Spanish versions are better.

Aerosmith’s old tour van discovered in Massachusetts forest

Aerosmith tickets

If you go down to the woods today...

A dilapidated van used by rock legends Aerosmith has been found during the filming of a US antiques programme, American Pickers.

Hosts Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe stumbled upon the 1964 American Harvester Metro van for a recent episode of the History Channel reality show.

According to, the van’s authenticity was confirmed by former Aerosmith member, Ray Tabano.

Tabano was the band’s original rhythm guitarist, who left the group after one year.

The rusty vehicle was found behind a farm in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. The town is located just over a 100 miles west of Aerosmith’s home base of Boston.

Tabano, who was in the band from 1970 to 1972 before working for the group in later years, said the van was like a “rolling hotel”.

“I’m afraid to say how long it is, but it’s been, like, 40 years since we’ve been in this thing,” he told the programme.

“We’d drive from Boston up to New Hampshire for $125 [per gig]. Then after the gas, the tolls, and the food and back, we’d all make like $3 apiece.”

In the episode, which aired on July 30, Wolfe reached out to a friend, The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach, who then sent photos of the van to Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.

It’s not known how the van ended up abandoned in the forest but the owner of the property where it was located said the vehicle was there when he bought the land from someone who was supposedly connected with Aerosmith.

American Pickers paid Phil, the property owner, $25,000 for the van, with Wolfe calling it “one of the biggest and most iconic pieces of rock and roll history.”

Aerosmith to Play Las Vegas Residency in 2019

by Best Classic Bands Staff

Aerosmith in 2016, via their Facebook page

Aerosmith will begin celebrating their 50th anniversary with a Las Vegas residency in 2019. Joe Perry revealed the news last night (Aug. 8) during a live interview on SiriusXM. The musician had just finished a lengthy discussion with legendary disc jockey Dennis Elsas on his appreciation of the Beatles. That’s when the co-host of the weekly “Fab Fourum” program on the Beatles Channel asked if the band would be making an announcement during their upcoming appearance on NBC’s The Today Show. Perry shared the news about the residency, adding: “What we’re talking about is having an experience that you wouldn’t be able to see on a regular Aerosmith tour.”

In Best Classic Bands’ exclusive interview with Perry, published last January, the musician indicated that the band would kick off a farewell tour later this year to begin an extended 50th anniversary celebration. That run now looks like it will begin in 2019.

As the SiriusXM discussion with Perry on the Beatles was concluding, Elsas asked him: “I would be totally remiss – and all the Aerosmith fans that are listening have the same question that I have – we see that you are booked on The Today Show… Can you give us a hint as to what might be coming?”

Perry replied: “Well… only so much [laughs]… We’re going to be doing a residency in Vegas starting next spring. What we want to do is something that I haven’t seen before… just downsizing our live show, just playing in a smaller place. We want to do something different. We’re in the middle of the production now. What we’re talking about is having an experience that you wouldn’t be able to see on a regular Aerosmith tour.

“I feel like we’ve been out of the wind for a while and it seems like it would be a really cool thing to bring some of the history back, so the production is gonna look like that. But without losing what we are: a hardcore rock and roll band.

“We’re having almost weekly conversations about the production and how we’re gonna keep it true and honest to the heartbeat of the rock and roll that we play but still add an element that people will want to see. I haven’t been this excited about a project with Aerosmith in quite a while.”

The classic rock legends will be performing on The Today Show next Wednesday, August 15, when details of the Vegas residency are expected to be revealed.

Though tickets for the band’s The Today Show appearance aren’t being distributed yet, they will be free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. As the program notes: “to get the best spot, fans should try to arrive by 5 a.m. Generally, concerts happen rain or shine.” More details are here.

It will only be Aerosmith’s second live appearance in 2018, following their 17-song set at Jazz Fest in New Orleans on May 5. Both Perry and Steven Tyler have focused on outside projects in 2018.

Tyler has been touring in support of his 2016 country album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. Perry has been busy with his two other musical endeavors. He’s done dates to support his solo album, Sweetzerland Manifesto (released Jan. 19 on Roman Records). Perry has also toured this year with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp for his other band, the Hollywood Vampires.

“Nineteen-seventy, to me, is where my heart is as far as when the band started,” Perry told Best Classic Bands last January, “and the 50th anniversary, so that’s what we’ll be celebrating. That’s what we’ll be gearing up for.”

Stretch of 5 Freeway in San Fernando Valley Named for Ritchie Valens

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Ritchie Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela) poses for his famous album cover session in July 1958 in Los Angeles.

" La Bamba" screening and Valens tribute band set for sign-unveiling celebration

The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway is to be inaugurated on Aug. 25 with a screening of the movie La Bamba and a family-friendly festival featuring performances by a Valens tribute band led by Ernie Valens, Ritchie's cousin.

The stretch of the 5 Freeway to be named for the rock-n-roller runs through Pacoima in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, which was Valens’ home town. Born Richard Steven Valenzuela, the Chicano rock pioneer had a 1958 hit with “La Bamba,” the song that transcended the singer and guitarist’s short life and career. Valens was just 17 years-old when he died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) after a concert in 1959.

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“Ritchie Valens exemplifies the talent and greatness that exists in this community,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said in an announcement about the Valens highway naming ceremony. “Breaking barriers as one of the first Latino musicians to crossover to mainstream rock-and-roll. His music was the soundtrack for generations of Angelenos and his legacy is a source of pride for our Pacoima community.”

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The festival and movie screening will be held at Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima (10731 Laurel Canyon Blvd.) on August 25th from 3-10 p.m. to celebrate the official unveiling of the Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway signs. Confirmed performers include DJ Rhythm Donor (Bobby Arias), the Backyard Blues Band and the Ernie Valens Band.

Ace of Cups, ’60s Female Band, Finally Releasing Debut

by Best Classic Bands Staff

Ace of Cups (Photo: Lisa Law; used with permission)

More than four decades after they disbanded, Ace of Cups, an all-female rock group from the 1960s San Francisco scene, will release their self-titled debut studio album on Nov. 9 via High Moon Records. Produced by Dan Shea, the record’s 21 tracks span 50 years of brilliant songwriting.

The album features guest appearances by Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Dead & Company), Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), Taj Mahal, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Peter Coyote and more.

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From 1967 to 1972, Ace of Cups—Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Denise Kaufman (guitar, harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar) and Diane Vitalich (drums)—”were at the epicenter of the ‘60s cultural and social revolution,” according to a press release. “From the Acid Tests to the protests, from the free concerts in Golden Gate Park to the ballrooms of San Francisco, they shared stages with everyone from the Band to the Grateful Dead. Michael Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia and Buddy Miles were their fans and the Ace of Cups were chosen to open for Jimi Hendrix the week after his groundbreaking performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Opening for The Band

Hendrix was quoted in England’s Melody Maker as saying, “I heard some groovy sounds last time in the States, like this girl group, Ace of Cups, who write their own songs and the lead guitarist is hell, really great.”

“Despite eliciting some music industry interest for their exceptional songs, sublime harmonies and exuberant live performances, the Ace Of Cups never got the chance to make a record of their own,” says the press release.

Ace of Cups today (Photo from their Facebook page)

The release continues: “As the decades passed, the band members pursued other personal and creative endeavors, playing music both individually and collectively when opportunities arose. While performing at Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday party and SEVA Foundation benefit, the Ace met with High Moon Records’ founder George Baer Wallace, who was there to talk to the band about releasing archival concert recordings. After hearing them play live, Wallace was so moved by their spirit and spark that he hatched a new plan on the spot, offering the Ace of Cups the opportunity to record their first ever studio album.

Pre-order the album here.

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“With the enthusiastic support of their new record label, and the guidance of celebrated producer Dan Shea, four of the band’s original members began exploring their back catalog and writing new material. Right from the start the Ace understood the art of the song, and the band has kept that spirit true and close to everything they do. Ace of Cups blends pure rock, folk, blues and gospel influences with a pop sensibility and a garage band rush; all tinted by an intoxicating psychedelic sheen.”

Other guests contributing to the album are David Grisman, Pete Sears (Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Moonalice), Steve Kimock (Zero/RatDog) and Charlie Musselwhite.

A second volume, coming in 2019, includes 16 more songs from the band, as well as contributions from Jackson Browne, Wavy Gravy, Sheila E and the Escovedo family, Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) and more.

Learn more about the Ace of Cups in this KQED piece.

Ace Of Cups Track List
Introduction: There’s a Record Being Made
Feel Good
Pretty Boy
Fantasy 1&4
We Can’t Go Back Again
The Well (feat. Bob Weir)
Taste of One
Mama’s Love
Feel It in the Air
Interlude: Transistor
Interlude: Baby from the Forest of Knolls
Life in Your Hands (feat. Taj Mahal)
As the Rain (feat. Peter Coyote)
Daydreamin’ (feat. Taj Mahal)
On the Road
Pepper in the Pot (feat. Buffy Sainte-Marie)
Interlude: Breath
Indian Summer
Grandma’s Hands
Medley (The Hermit / The Flame Still Burns / Gold & Green / Living In The Country)
Outroduction: It’s Always Safe…

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Amara La Negra Was Born to Be a Star

After breaking through on ‘Love & Hip Hop: Miami,’ the Latin pop singer is ready to free your mind

amara la negra

Erik Tanner for Rolling Stone

artist you need to know ayntk

To anyone who watched the first season of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Miami this year, Amara La Negra – bold, mahogany-skinned and Afro’d – is a newly minted icon. To Spanish-language TV viewers, she’s been a star for years: as a child, she made regular appearances on Univision’s Sábado Gigante. And now, with hits like the reggae-tinged “What a Bam Bam” soaring into the millions of views on YouTube, La Negra is relishing her biggest spotlight yet. “I’ve always known my purpose in life,” says the 27-year-old singer. Raised in Miami by Dominican parents, she has a knack for dramatic pronouncements. “I knew at an early age that I wasn’t afraid of a crowd,” she continues. “I was born to be an entertainer.”

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She’s holding court on Park Avenue as she says this, sipping cognac inside the swanky Mondrian hotel. It’s a rare moment of peace for someone who’s getting used to the blessings and curses of 21st-century fame. From time to time, she says, she’ll beckon her waiter for the bill only to learn her meal is on the house. On the other side of the coin is the anti-black rhetoric that floods her social media timelines on a daily basis: “This Amara La Negra hoe looks like she has on black face & trying too hard. Yuck,” one user tweeted in January. “I don’t know what it is about Amara La Negra, but for some reason she looks like a white person in blackface to me,” observed another.

Since her rise in the English-speaking world in the past year, La Negra says she’s met with a flurry of similar comments, rooted in misconceptions about what the African diaspora looks like beyond North America and the age-old fallacy of Latin America as a monolith. Some of these semi-anonymous critics suggest that she uses melanin shots or tans herself to achieve the shade of her skin; others speculate about whether she’s Latina at all. “Too black to be Latina, too Latina to be black,” notes the singer.

As one of very few Latina celebrities of recognizable African ancestry, La Negra – like Celia Cruz, the late queen of salsa, before her – is challenging a mainstream that has excluded people like her for too long. “There is still a lot of ignorance surrounding the Afro-Latino community, and it has given me all the reason to want to keep fighting for it,” says La Negra, who was born Diana de los Santos. “Somewhere along the way, I started to feel this energy in my body – this need to empower other women, this need to liberate people. This need to talk. Why isn’t anybody saying anything?”

Image result for Amara La Negra

In her recording career, La Negra delights in retrofitting male-centric urban Latin music with her own feminine energy, spanning dembow, favela funk, reggaeton, hip-hop and R&B. Whereas day-one fans love her for songs like the twerk-ready “Ayy” and “Asi,” her newer listeners shuffle syncopated hips to “What a Bam Bam” and sing the blues to her hit “Insecure.” Since breaking through on Love & Hip Hop, she’s begun working on new music with production duo Rock City, whose past collaborators include Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

Image result for Amara La Negra

Her ascent has been particularly complicated in the Dominican Republic, which has its own history of institutional racism. Earlier this year, La Negra jokingly questioned on social media why she became famous in the U.S. before the country of her family’s origin. “I said that for years people didn’t support me, but now that I’m on the cover of People magazine and whatnot, all of sudden, I’m the Dominican Republic’s biggest pride,” she recounts, flailing her arms for effect. “And now they’re eating me up alive for saying it. There are headlines that read, ‘Amara is against the Dominican Republic, against la patria.’ Like, WTF? I’m always proud, I’m always waving the flag, and I’m forever grateful to those who did support me.”

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The evening draws to a close, and La Negra has to get ready for her flight back to Miami. Within weeks, she will have rocked the stage of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, bringing the house down at the Soulfrito urban Latin music festival alongside such contemporaries as Bad Bunny, Jaden Smith, La Insuperable and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. With season two of Love & Hip Hop: Miami coming down the pipeline, a new EP on the way, a new partnership with workout app Apptive, a black doll collection due out this Christmas and a bedazzled loafers line in the works, she’s just getting started putting her mark on 2018’s cultural map. “I am my own competition,” she says, “y La Negra, de verdad, tienes tumbao.”


First Listen: Ready for the World feels "So Much Life"

Ariana Grande Details Intimate ‘Sweetener Sessions’ Concerts

Singer will perform at small venues in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

Ariana Grande performs at Wango Tango at Banc of California Stadium, in Los Angeles2018 Wango Tango - Show, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Jun 2018

Ariana Grande has announced a series of intimate 'Sweetener Sessions' concerts.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ariana Grande has announced she will be performing a series of intimate concerts following the release of Sweetener, which drops on August 17th.

“Surprise. I’m doing a lil thing called the sweetener sessions to celebrate the release week with @americanexpress,” she unveiled on Twitter Wednesday.

The Sweetener Sessions sets will be held in small venues. The first concert takes place on August 20th at New York, New York’s Irving Plaza. Her New York City event directly follows her appearance at the MTV...sic Awards, where she is scheduled to perform Sweetener single, “God Is a Woman.” Grande then heads to Chicago, Illinois where she will play at the Vic Theatre on August 22nd. The short run culminates in Los Angeles, California at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on August 25th. Tickets will be available exclusively to American Express Card members beginning on Thursday.

In the lead-up to the release of Sweetener, the singer also revealed that she is slated to appear in a “... segment for The Late Late Show With James Corden on August 15th.

Review: H.E.R.’s Brutally Honest ‘I Used to Know H.E.R.: The Prelude’

Gabi Wilson’s latest is a biting portrayal of young black womanhood

her album review

Timothy Saccenti

Over the last two years, this former Artist You Need to Know has been slowly emerging from the shadows while offering up brutally honest snapshots of young black womanhood in the 21st century. Her new EP – the first release since she revealed herself at June’s BET Awards – opens with a bit of a gauntlet-throw: “Lost Souls,” a broadside against celebrity’s illusions, borrows from Lauryn Hill’s “Lost Ones” and features H.E.R. (a.k.a. Gabi Wilson) rapping in a no-nonsense manner that adds heat to her biting cultural critique. She shows off a more laid-back flow on the gently blooming “Against Me,” while the regret-filled duet with Bryson Tiller “Could’ve Been” and the dreamy “As I Am” show her talent for bridging the lush instrumentals and matter-of-factly gorgeous vocals of the Quiet Storm era with the more restrained aesthetics of recent R&B. H.E.R.’s early disguising of herself was, she once claimed, a way for listeners to focus on her music; this sterling EP shows that even after unmasking herself, her own focus has only become sharper over time.

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How Indie Songwriter Dawn Landes Revived Lush ‘Nashville Sound’ on New Album


Landes wooed Music City legend Fred Foster to produce ‘Meet Me at the River’


Dawn Landes will release her new album 'Meet Me at the River' on August 10th.

Shervin Lainez

Dawn Landes made a deliberate choice about what kind of music she hoped to make when she approached Monument Records founder Fred Foster about producing her new album. Even so, Landes still had to prove her artistic worth to the 86-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member, who had mostly retired from recording 10 years earlier.

“He didn’t even Google me or anything. He never heard of me, so therefore I didn’t really exist,” says the Kentucky native, who relocated from New York to Nashville with her husband during the recording process. “I think I had to convince him I was a writer. At first he thought, ‘I like your voice.’ I came and I sang some songs and I think he thought, ‘OK, we’ll find you some good songs to sing.'”


Landes eventually sold him on her writing with a song called “What Will I Do,” a plaintive, sadness-tinged waltz about uncertainty. Her partnership with Foster confirmed, the two began an intensive period of listening, learning and singing myriad songs, both well-known and obscure (“He called it ‘woodshedding,'” she says) that would inform the choices on her new album Meet Me at the River, out Friday. With contributions from some of Nashville’s A-team studio musicians, the album comes steeped in the lushly orchestrated productions of the classic Nashville Sound era, when Foster was making a mark as producer of Dolly Parton’s early work and Roy Orbison’s classic period.

On her previous albums, Landes explored a wide variety of styles, from approachable indie pop and folk to the French-language album Mal Habilleé, also collaborating with Sufjan Stevens, Will Oldham and Norah Jones. There was always a noticeable country lilt in her bell-clear voice, but occasions where she leaned fully into it were the exception — as with 2008’s Straight Lines, when she cut a lively two-stepping rendition of Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” with some veteran bluegrass musicians she met on the street in Austin.


“I thought, ‘I would love to make a whole album with this band. I would love to make a whole album like this,'” she says. That experience in Austin also turned out to be the first time she ever heard Jimmy Driftwood’s “The Battle of New Orleans,” which was perhaps prophetic: Landes recorded the Driftwood songs “My Church” and “What Is the Color of the Soul of Man” for Meet Me at the River.

Along with Driftwood’s relevant-as-ever plea for racial equality, Landes contributes her own timely message about protest in turbulent times with the stirring “Keep on Moving,” paying tribute to those who march in support of a cause. Inspired by activist Peace Pilgrim and her decades-long marches across the United States, the song has numerous parallels to the present.


“I just feel the urgency of the moment to get out there and have your voice be heard,” she says. “Also, I started to think about it, ‘Why do people do that? Why do people get up and walk?’ Because they’re upset about something or they’re moved by something.”

Elsewhere, Landes seizes upon different aspects of classic country songcraft. The title track on Meet Me at the River is a delicate, wistful number about reuniting with an old friend. She follows that with “Traveling,” a jangling anthem about the open road that evokes Car Wheels-era Lucinda Williams.

Also in the classic country tradition, Landes balances humorous, winking gestures like “Why They Name Whiskey After Men” against the sweetness and uncertainty of “How to Say ‘I Love You.'” Later, she yucks it up with Bobby Bare on the album-closing number “I Don’t Dance,” the result of a nerve-wracking visit to Bare’s home to ask about collaborating. “He was like, ‘Welcome to my house, play this song on Shel Silverstein’s guitar,'” she says. “That’s not intimidating or anything.”

Ultimately, it was Foster’s expertise in this area that helped Landes — who’s produced and engineered much of her previous work — choose the right songs and sequence the album. When necessary, he sent her back to the drawing board to find the simple kernel of truth and plainspoken language in those classic country songs.


“I was like, ‘Can you help me streamline this, whatever it is?'” she says. “I think really it was choosing the songs, and he did that. I brought him tons of songs and he said, ‘This one, this one, this one,’ [or] ‘This one doesn’t work.’ A lot of times I got, ‘It’s too poetic. We need conversational.'”

It was a nice reminder from one of country’s architects to stick with the basics — the way she had when she originally won him over.

“Simple is best in a country song,” she says. “Elementally that works with all music, but it’s just so obvious in country music. Say it plainly. Say something tongue-in-cheek. Find a new spin.”


Mandy Gonzalez of ‘Hamilton’ to Bring Her Songs to the Schimmel

By Peter Libbey

  • Aug. 7, 2018

Mandy Gonzalez will perform a solo show built around songs from her new EP at the Schimmel Center in lower Manhattan on Sept. 29.CreditNathan Johnson

Mandy Gonzalez spends most nights on the Broadway stage of “Hamilton,” where she stars as Angelica Schuyler, but she’ll move downtown on Sept. 29 to help the Schimmel Center in Lower Manhattan open its new season with a solo show built around songs from her new EP, “Fearless: B Sides.”


The EP is a follow-up to her debut album from 2017, “Fearless,” whose title track, inspired by Ms. Gonzalez’s family history, was written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The coming season at the Schimmel, a performing arts center operated by Pace University, will feature a range of performers, including Caroline Rhea and Wilco’s percussionist Glenn Kotche.

Ms. Rhea, known for her roles in “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch” and as a host of “The Biggest Loser,” will kick off the season on Sept. 28 with a solo comedy show. Hari Kondabolu, featured in the documentary “The Problem with Apu,” and Yakov Smirnoff, the Soviet-born comedian, will also provide laughs throughout the season.


Fans of the New York Yankees and Latin jazz will be happy to see that the former center fielder Bernie Williams is set to perform with his band on Oct. 12. Mr. Kotche’s collaboration with the Ate9 dance company will follow on Nov. 10. The interdisciplinary piece, “calling glenn,” will tackle “contemporary human experiences and desires,” according to the release.

Battery Dance will bring a bit of Poland to Manhattan with its Krakow-inspired dance “Secrets of the Paving Stones” on Feb. 28, 2019. “On Foot,” a piece from 2017, and a world premiere rounds out the company’s program.

The Schimmel will also host family events next season, including a performance by the New Shanghai Circus on Feb. 24, 2019 and a singalong screening of “Mary Poppins” on Feb. 10, 2019.

Ximena Sariñana is worth what they think of her

The Mexican singer launches her new single today: '¿Qué tiene?', Which is a song to have fun no matter what you come to think


Of this new production, which will go on sale in 2019, Ximena today launches the letter of presentation of what has been preparing.



For just over a year the life of Ximena Sariñana at 32 changed forever. Although her place in music is important, for four months Franca, her daughter, is the center of her universe.

The gestation and birth of the singer's first-born has given her the opportunity to get in touch with her femininity and discover the woman she wants to be without feeling prey to the canons that are dictated for the genre.


"It definitely puts you much more in touch with your femininity and with your description of what it is to be female or female. It's been really nice to suddenly discover that you can rewrite that and not necessarily be what women were before or what you're expected to be like 'you've already become a mom and you have to be a certain way', it's very nice to go discovering for yourself, without so much noise, how you are going to be like a mom or a woman.

It is a key moment in which we are now seeing the resurgence of so many movements in favor of women, of liberation and of re-defining what gender is, and it is something that I really like to support, in saying 'women can be what we want to be and and we are the owners of writing our own history 'and we must be accepted whatever the story you want to tell about yourself ... that is something very important that we are living in this country and in the world ", Saariñana said in an interview with Excelsior .

Ximena has found in motherhood a vehicle for creativity and this is what has been projected in her new record material, in which the singer reflects the moment she is currently living and the way in which she now takes things.


"It totally reflects the moment in which I am, I think that each album is impossible to separate from what you live and it's nice because when I listen to my past records it reflects me very much the moment I was, that same and you do not even remember, but is father, almost like a photograph, a portrait of who you were at that moment. Each disc is like that and this is the same.

This moment for me is very peaceful, very bright, I feel very full in all these stages that I am going through and as very permissive with myself, to say 'it is amazing what you are doing on a personal and professional level', it is good father, you have to enjoy it and you have to get there without noise, let the music flow, let things pass and know this new time, "he added.

Of this new production, which will go on sale in 2019, Ximena today launches the letter of presentation of what has been preparing.

With what do you have? , the first single that comes out today on digital platforms, the singer ventures to show herself as she is, accepting herself as she is, without caring about the opinion of others and even mocking a bit of those moments in which she has been criticized.


"It's my new single, I'm very happy to share it with everyone and it's a song that I had a lot of fun doing, I think that's what it reflects that is a song to have fun, to accept without thinking about what they think of you , to dance and enjoy it.

For me it was just having fun and being very personal in that aspect, saying: 'Yes, you can make me think that I dance badly or maybe I do not do something right', because you are always in the eye of criticism and in that sense I think it's very healthy sometimes to say 'I'm worth mother what they think of me or what they say', even if it seems good to make music or not, in one genre or another, the message I wanted to send was that, you have to have fun doing what you want ", concluded the singer.



Glen Roven, Emmy-Winning Composer and Conductor, Dies at 60


Glen Roven in 2016. A composer, conductor and record producer, he was equally at home in the worlds of classical and Broadway music.CreditArthur Elgort

  • Aug. 8, 2018

Glen Roven, a prodigiously versatile musician who conducted on Broadway when he was 19 and went on to become a prolific composer and an Emmy-winning music director, died on July 25 in Manhattan. He was 60.

The cause was Legionnaires’ disease, his sister, Janice Roven, said.

An exuberant virtuoso whose only formal training was the piano lessons he took while growing up in Brooklyn, Mr. Roven began his career while in high school as a rehearsal pianist for “Pippin,” which opened on Broadway in 1972. While still a teenager, he became musical director of “Sugar Babies,” the tribute to burlesque starring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, which opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater in 1979.


Mr. Roven dropped out of Columbia College and remained with the show for all 1,208 performances over its nearly three-year run. Afterward, he often dined with Ms. Miller and her celebrity circle, some of whom also became his friends and colleagues.

Mr. Roven was often described as Broadway’s youngest conductor. His few competitors for the title included Alfred Newman, born in 1900, who became a music director at 17 and started conducting Gershwin musicals at 19. But Mr. Roven was equally at home in classical music.

He conducted two inaugural concerts for President Bill Clinton and two for President George W. Bush; the last television performances by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.; and concerts by the Israel Philharmonic, the National Symphony in Washington, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic, among others.


A partial alphabetical list of singers for whom he conducted illustrates his comfort in different musical worlds: Julie Andrews, Kathleen Battle, Bono, Ray Charles, Plácido Domingo, Melissa Etheridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Dick Hyman, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Kermit the Frog.

He composed the scores for John Guare’s plays “Lydie Breeze” and “Gardenia,” Christopher Isherwood’s “A Meeting by the River” and Larry Gelbart’s “Mastergate.” He wrote the violin concerto “The Runaway Bunny” and made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting the American Symphony Orchestra in a performance of it in 2008.


Mr. Roven also wrote an aria titled “Goodnight Moon” — based, like “The Runaway Bunny,” on a beloved children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown. He co-produced the album “An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing for Hope.” And for his own label, Roven Records, he produced “Hopes and Dreams” for the Lullaby Project, which provides support for new mothers and their infants.

In 2017, as an alternative presidential inaugural, he composed “The Hillary Speeches,” a group of songs whose texts were drawn from Hillary Clinton’s own words and performed by two dozen opera and Broadway singers in a streamed video recital.

Mr. Roven shared an Emmy Award for outstanding achievement in music direction in 1986 for the 40th annual Tony Awards and won in the same category in 1996 for “Sinatra: 80 Years My Way.”

Glen Paul Roven was born on July 13, 1958, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Dr. Milton D. Roven, a prominent podiatrist, and Ruth (Katz) Roven, an accountant. He graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.


“His real love was setting some of the world’s greatest poetry to his own harmonically complex, fantastically atmospheric music,” Tom Lutz and Laurie Winer wrote in a tribute in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

While he was circumspect about his academic credentials, Mr. Roven taught at universities and wrote music and literary criticism.

“He was, as a friend once said, a cultured, educated sophisticate disguised as a little Brooklyn boy with stains on his shirt,” Mr. Lutz and Ms. Winer wrote. “Or vice versa.”

In addition to his sister, he is survived by his mother. His husband, Robin Addison, died in 2011.

Some of Mr. Roven’s fondest memories were of working with Mickey Rooney on “Sugar Babies.” He recalled being summoned to Rooney’s dressing room during an intermission, only to find the actor prancing around in his underwear.


“ ‘Glen, I just thought of this great movie. I want to do it for you,’ ” Mr. Roven quoted Rooney as saying in The New York Times shortly after Rooney died in 2014. “And Mickey Rooney then proceeded to act out this entire movie musical in his dressing room — all the parts, all the songs, all the choreography.

“I was 19 and there was Mickey, performing just for me in his underwear.”


[Edited 8/10/18 11:40am]

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Maggie Rogers - Give A Little

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Kiesza - Phantom Of The Dance Floor (Ft. Philippe Sly)

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Doja Cat - "Mooo!" (Official Video)

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Sabrina Claudio Shares New 'No Rain, No Flowers' Project

Trace William Cowen is a writer based in Los Angeles. He tweets with dramatic irregularity here.

AUG 15, 2018
Image via Publicist

Sabrina Claudio has eschewed the traditional Friday release date game with her new project No Rain, No Flowers. The eight-track release, out Wednesday, follows last year's Confidently Lost tape and features the recently dropped single "Messages From Her."

"I wrote this in a time where my vulnerability was at an all time high & i've never felt more free spilling my heart out on paper," Claudio said on Twitter Wednesday. "This was created in a month & 1/2 w/ my musical soulmate @sadmoneymusic along with a few other incredible musicians & producers. I hope you love."

Stream No Rain, No Flowers below via Apple Music:

The release of Claudio's Khalid-featuring "Don't Let Me Down" in April was followed quickly by the resurfacing of old offensive tweets allegedly originating from both the official @SabrinaClaudio account and the @ohdamnyoureugly handle. In a subsequent statement, Claudio apologized for making "insensitive comments" in the past. "Some of the things you are seeing are true while others aren't," she said. "I realize my past ignorance is affecting people I care so much about and I am so sorry. I've made mistakes and while I cannot take them back, I will learn from them."

The new No Rain project, Claudio said in a statement Wednesday, gives fans a look inside her self-described "journey of healing and growth." The rain in the album's title, she said, "symbolizes darkness but also represents an essential part of rebirth." A tour is expected to be announced soon.

First Spin: Gretta Ray glows once again on the gorgeous 'Radio Silence'

Monday 6 August 2018 4:58pm
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Another wise and wonderful song from the 19 year old Unearthed High alum.

Just as we're ready to induct the 2018 UE High finalists, 2016 winner Gretta Ray has released another taste of her second EP, Here and Now, which is dropping this Friday. Following a year out of the limelight to just enjoy being a teen, travelling for herself after a whirlwind of professional touring, writing and recording, Gretta released 'Time' earlier this year.

Now she's backed it up with 'Radio Silence', a gorgeous song that sweeps you up in its mix of apology and personal advice; it would make for the perfectsoundtrack to a climactic break-up scene in a high school TV series (Riverdale producers, take note).

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Speaking to Richard Kingsmill on 2018 for the track's world premiere, Gretta says 'Radio Silence' acts as a companion piece to 'Time'. (Hear the full interview on the 2018 podcast.)

"I have this obsession with this sister song concept," she says. "I love writing about the same scenario but from a totally different angle or using a completely different emotion to tell the same story. So, I would say that ‘Time’ is quite hopeful and optimistic in comparison to ‘Radio Silence’, yet it's about a very similar scenario."

"It's basically about... not communicating with someone reaching out and not getting anything back, knowing that's your fault but feeling all of the pain that comes with that."

RELATED: 'Gretta Ray is back with '...een up to'

'Radio Silence' was actually a last-minute addition to the seven-track Here And Now EP, which was essentially complete until Gretta came up with the song druing a musical getaway with some mates.

"We were playing what we call 'The Ten Song Game'." She explains it's an ideas marathon where a group of songwriters split off into separate rooms and attempt to write ten song in six hours as a way of shutting off perfectionist tendencies and overthinking.

"It was me, Angie McMahon, Ainslie Wills, Laurence [Folvig, Ainslie's guitarist], and my guitar player Connor [Black-Harry].... We all played the songs to each other and ‘Radio Silence’ was one of my songs that I guess the others hung onto a little bit. So I was and encouraged to finish it by a lot of people."

Here And Now comes out Friday 10 August. You can catch Gretta on her first big headline tour this month, dates below and more info at Gretta Ray's website.

  • Thursday 16 August - The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (sold out)
    with special guests Al Parkinson and Nancie Schipper
  • Friday 17 August - Jive Bar, Adelaide
    with special guests Ollie English and Connor Black-Harry
  • Saturday 18 August - Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
    with special guests Jacob Diamond and Al Parkinson
  • Thursday 23 August - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
    with FEELDS and Connor Black-Harry
  • Friday 24 August - Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
    with Al Parkinson and Asha Jeffries


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Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert Set for November

by Best Classic Bands Staff

Aretha Franklin via her Facebook page in 2014

As stories regarding the declining health of Aretha Franklin continue to surface in the news, news of a tribute concert dedicated to the Queen of Soul has been confirmed. The single-date event, titled Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin, will take place Nov. 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The concert has been in the works since June, before word in recent days that Franklin is “gravely ill” and has now been placed in hospice care. Various reports on Monday noted that “death was imminent.”

As of now, the only announced participant in the event is singer Jennifer Hudson, who is set to play Franklin in a biopic for Sony/Tri-Star. However, Franklin’s signature songs have been covered by many prominent singers.

Franklin canceled all planned concerts earlier this year due to doctors’ orders. She had undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness in 2010, denying rumors at that time that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Even if Franklin’s health situation does improve, it is unlikely that she would be able to attend this or any other future public functions.

In recent days, the Queen of Soul was visited by numerous friends, including Stevie Wonder, Reverend Jesse Jackson and even ex-husband Glynn Turman.

R&B power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z dedicated a show Monday night in Detroit, Franklin’s hometown, to the ailing star.

News on Franklin’s personal web page has not been updated since late March.

Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 was the first to report the news of Franklin’s deteriorating condition, when he wrote that Franklin “is gravely ill in Detroit. The family is asking for prayers and privacy. Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her.”

Franklin’s place in music history will be assured. Since she first placed a single on the Billboard chart in 1961 (“Won’t Be Long,” on Columbia Records), she’s racked up an amazing 88 chart singles, including, of course, such timeless hits as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with legendary producer Jerry Wexler for Atlantic Records in the ’60s.

Twenty of her singles topped the R&B chart. The first: 1967’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You”; the last: 1985’s “Freeway of Love.”

Franklin scored 17 Top 10 pop hits, including nine for Atlantic from 1967-1968. She’s also had 46 chart albums and has won every conceivable award and honor possible, playing for presidents, winning an armload of Grammys, early induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Documentary Premiering Aug. 18

by Best Classic Bands Staff

Photo courtesy of Showtime

Showtime will premiere the documentary Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrowon Aug. 18 at 9 p.m. ET and PT. Directed by Stephen Kijak and featuring interviews and never-before-seen footage, the film “takes viewers on a trip through the history, myth and legend of one of the most iconic American rock bands,” said Showtime in a press release. “Rising from the swamps of the Deep South, these good ol’ boys from Jacksonville, Florida came to define an era with their hard-rocking boogie-woogie sound, soulful lyrics, drunken and dangerous antics and their controversial use of the rebel flag.”

The film also serves as a portrait of band leader Ronnie Van Zant, who died in a 1977 plane crash when he was 29. Also killed in the crash were band members Steve and Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow is primarily narrated by Gary Rossington, a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The film includes commentary from drummer Artimus Pyle, songwriter Ed King, producer Al Kooper, the late drummer Bob Burns and backup singer JoJo Billingsley. Among the archival material in the film is recently discovered radio interviews with Van Zant, guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Leon Wilkeson.

Related: The story behind the Skynyrd crash

The film premiered at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin in March.

The trailer for the film includes Rossington and Pyle sharing their memories of the crash, footage of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird,” Rossington discussing the group’s use of the Confederate flag, and a recording of Van Zant talking about the band’s success.

Related: 11 great Southern Rock albums

The current lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd is on their farewell tour. (Tickets for the remaining 2018 dates are available here and here)

Aug 11 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage (with .38 Special)
Aug 17 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center (with Hank Williams Jr., .38 Special)
Aug 18 – St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (with Hank Williams Jr., .38 Special)
Aug 24 – Syracuse, NY – Lakeview Amphitheatre (with Hank Williams, Jr., Marshall Tucker Band, .38 Special)
Aug 25 – Burgettstown, PA – KeyBank Pavilion (with Hank Williams, Jr., Marshall Tucker Band, .38 Special)
Aug 31 – Pelham, AL – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
Sep 01 – Atlanta, GA – Cellairis Amphitheatre (with Hank Williams Jr., Marshall Tucker Band, Blackberry Smoke)
Sep 02 – Jacksonville, FL – TIAA Bank Field (with Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Kid Rock, Blackberry Smoke)*
Sep 22 – Las Vegas, NV – IHeartRadio Music Festival*
Sep 28 – Rogers, AR – Walmart Amp (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Sep 29 – Wichita, KS – Intrust Bank Arena (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Oct 05 – Saint Paul, MN – XCEL Energy Center (with Jamey Johnson)*
Oct 06 – Lincoln, NE – Pinnacle Bank Arena (with Jamey Johnson)*
Oct 12 – Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Oct 13 – Cedar Rapids, IA – US Cellular Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Oct 19 – Green Bay, WI – Resch Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Oct 20 – Toledo, OH – Huntington Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Oct 26 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena (with Bad Company*
Oct 27 – Evansville, IN – Ford Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Nov 02 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center (with Marshall Tucker Band, Jamey Johnson)*
Nov 03 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Nov 09 – Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena (with Jamey Johnson)*
Nov 10 – Louisville, KY – KFC YUM! Center (with Marshall Tucker Band, Jamey Johnson)*
Nov 16 – Baltimore, MD – Royal Farms Arena (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Nov 17 – Huntington, WV – Big Sandy Superstore Arena (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Nov 30 – Wilkes-Barre Township, PA – Mohegan Sun Arena (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Dec 01 – Atlantic City, NJ – Boardwalk Hall (with Marshall Tucker Band)*
Dec 07 – Baton Rouge, LA – Raising Cane’s River Center*
Dec 08 – Biloxi, MS – Mississippi Coast Coliseum*

Lindsey Buckingham to issue a new Solo Anthology on 3CD and 6LP vinyl

Lindsey Buckingham / Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham

First studio compilation • Remastered • Some alternates + two new songs

This October, Rhino will release a Lindsey Buckingham Solo Anthology which will be available in three physical formats.

Solo Anthology – The Best of Lindsey Buckingham to give the package its full (and rather prosaic) title, spans Buckingham’s six solo studio albums, from 1981’s Law and Order to 2011’s Seeds We Sow. It also includes oddities like contributions to soundtracks such as National Lampoon’s Vacation (‘Holiday Road’ and ‘Dancin’ Across The USA’) and Back To The Future (‘Time Bomb Town’).

Fans of the sublime 1992 album Out Of The Cradle have reason to rejoice, since putting aside the spoken word elements/instrumentals, nine of the 12 songs from that album are remastered and included in the three-CD edition of Solo Anthology. In fact a tenth (‘All My Sorrows’) is also featured on CD 3, but that disc is made up of solely of live performances.

Countdown was a single from 1992’s Out Of The Cradle

The official line from the label about this set is that it includes includes “album, live and alternate versions”. Obviously, ‘alternate’ immediately provokes a raise of the eyebrow, but there’s no confirmation as yet which tracks are not the standard studio cuts.

Law and Order is the poor relation with just one song, ‘Trouble’, including in this new Solo Anthology. A slightly strange decision when songs from his VERY recent collaborative album with Christine McVie do feature here.

Finally, Solo Anthology comes with two previously unreleased tracks. By a process of elimination we can deduce these are Hunger and Ride This Road.

In terms of formats, the 52-track version is available on the 3CD set and the 6LP vinyl box. There is a 21-track single disc edition, although it doesn’t include either of the previously unreleased tracks.

Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham is released on CD formats on 5 October, two days before the start of a North American tour. The 6LP vinyl edition will follow on 23 November.







Disc 1

1 Don’t Look Down (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
2 Go Insane (Remastered) – from Go Insane (1984)
3 Surrender The Rain (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
4 Rock Away Blind (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
5 Holiday Road (Remastered) from the National Lampoon’s Vacation Original Motion Picture Sound Track
6 Doing What I Can (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
7 Trouble (Remastered) – from Law and Order (1981)
8 I Must Go (Remastered) – from Go Insane (1984)
9 Street Of Dreams (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
10 Soul Drifter (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
11 Show You How (Remastered) – from Under The Skin (2006)
12 Shut Us Down (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
13 Slow Dancing (Remastered) – from Go Insane (1984)
14 Countdown (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
15 Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind (Remastered) – from Under The Skin(2006)
16 In Our Own Time (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
17 Illumination (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
18 Gift Of Screws (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)
19 Did You Miss Me (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)
20 Down On Rodeo (Remastered) – from Under The Skin (2006)
21 Treason (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)

Disc 2

1 Hunger
2 Not Too Late (Remastered) – from Under The Skin (2006)
3 Sleeping Around The Corner – from Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie
4 I Want You (Remastered) – from Go Insane (1984)
5 Time Precious Time (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)
6 Stars Are Crazy (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
7 Love Runs Deeper (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)
8 You Do Or You Don’t (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
9 I Am Waiting (Remastered) – from Under The Skin (2006)
10 Time Bomb Town – from Back to the Future Soundtrack
11 Turn It On (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)
12 Seeds We Sow (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
13 Underground (Remastered) – from Gift Of Screws (2008)
14 Dancin’ Across The USA (Remastered) – from the National Lampoon’s Vacation Original Motion Picture Sound Track
15 Gone Too Far (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
16 End Of Time (Remastered) – from Seeds We Sow (2011)
17 D.W. Suite (Remastered) – from Go Insane (1984)
18 Ride This Road [Remastered]
19 Say We’ll Meet Again (Remastered) – from Out Of The Cradle (1992)

Disc 3

1 Trouble (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
2 Go Insane (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
3 Bleed To Love Her (Live At Hoyt Sherman Palace, Des Moines, IA 2012) [Remastered]
4 Stephanie (Live At Hoyt Sherman Palace, Des Moines, IA 2012) [Remastered]
5 Never Going Back Again (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
6 Big Love (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
7 Under The Skin (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
8 All My Sorrows (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
9 Cast Away Dreams (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
10 Holiday Road (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
11 Tusk (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
12 I’m So Afraid (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
13 Go Your Own Way (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)

Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham – 6LP vinyl box

Side 1
1. Don’t Look Down (Remastered)
2. Go Insane (Remastered)
3. Surrender The Rain (Remastered)
4. Rock Away Blind (Remastered)
5. Holiday Road (Remastered)
6. Doing What I Can (Remastered)

Side 2
1. Trouble (Remastered)
2. I Must Go (Remastered)
3. Street Of Dreams (Remastered)
4. Soul Drifter (Remastered)
5. Show You How (Remastered)

Side 3
1. Shut Us Down (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
2. Slow Dancing (Remastered)
3. Countdown (Remastered)
4. Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind (Remastered)
5. In Our Own Time (Remastered)

Side 4
1. Illumination (Remastered)
2. Gift Of Screws (Remastered)
3. Did You Miss Me (Remastered)
4. Down On Rodeo (Remastered)
5. Treason (Remastered)

Side 5
1. Hunger
2. Not Too Late (Remastered)
3. Sleeping Around The Corner – Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie
4. I Want You (Remastered)
5. Time Precious Time (Remastered)

Side 6
1. Stars Are Crazy (Remastered)
2. Love Runs Deeper (Remastered)
3. You Do Or You Don’t (Remastered)
4. I Am Waiting (Remastered)

Side 7
1. Time Bomb Town
2. Turn It On (Remastered)
3. Seeds We Sow (Remastered)
4. Underground (Remastered)
5. Dancin’ Across The USA (Remastered)
6. Gone Too Far (Remastered)

Side 8
1. End Of Time (Remastered)
2. D.W. Suite (Remastered)
3. Ride This Road
4. Say We’ll Meet Again (Remastered)

Side 9
1. Trouble (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
2. Go Insane (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
3. Bleed To Love Her (Live At Hoyt Sherman Palace, Des Moines, IA 2012) [Remastered]

Side 10
1. Stephanie (Live At Hoyt Sherman Palace, Des Moines, IA 2012) [Remastered]
2. Never Going Back Again (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
3. Big Love (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
4. Under The Skin (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)

Side 11
1. All My Sorrows (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
2. Cast Away Dreams (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
3. Holiday Road (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
4. Tusk (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)

Disc: 12
1. I’m So Afraid (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)
2. Go Your Own Way (Live At Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA 2011)

Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham – single CD edition

1. Don’t Look Down (Remastered)
2. Go Insane (Remastered)
3. Surrender The Rain (Remastered)
4. Rock Away Blind (Remastered)
5. Holiday Road (Remastered)
6. Doing What I Can (Remastered)
7. Trouble (Remastered)
8. I Must Go (Remastered)
9. Street Of Dreams (Remastered)
10. Soul Drifter (Remastered)
11. Show You How (Remastered)
12. Shut Us Down (Live At The Bass Performance Hall 2008) [Remastered]
13. Slow Dancing (Remastered)
14. Countdown (Remastered)
15. Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind (Remastered)
16. In Our Own Time (Remastered)
17. Illumination (Remastered)
18. Gift Of Screws (Remastered)
19. Did You Miss Me (Remastered)
20. Down On Rodeo (Remastered)
21. Treason (Remastered)

John Lennon + Yoko Ono’s Restored ‘Imagine’ to Theaters

by Best Classic Bands Staff

Imagine, the ground-breaking 1972 music film from John Lennon & Yoko Ono is coming to movie theaters in September. The announcement, on Aug. 14, notes that the film, restored and remastered frame-by-frame, will also include 15 minutes of previously unreleased bonus material, remixed and restored footage, with an immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack mix.

The music film features a different visual treatment for every song, and follows Lennon and Ono during the recording sessions for Imagine in the U.K. and New York, as they co-produced the record with Phil Spector. Cinema showings begin Sept. 17. Watch the trailer below.

Imagine has been restored frame-by-frame, from the original reels with the audio remix by 3x Grammy® Award-winning engineer, Paul Hicks. It is accompanied by 15 minutes of never-before-seen extras including studio footage of Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band (including George Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Alan White and Klaus Voormann) performing “How Do You Sleep?” and “Oh My Love” from the album in a specially created Dolby Atmos surround sound “raw studio” mix that, the announcement says, “puts you in the center of the recording studio while the band play live.” The album also includes “Jealous Guy.”

A scene from the film

In the announcement, Ono said: “The people who all worked on Imaginewere Peace People and it was so enlightening and exciting all the way through to be one of them. Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.”

Related: USPS to dedicate Lennon “Forever” stamp on Sept. 7

The film is produced and directed by John and Yoko, and includes guest appearances by Fred Astaire, Andy Warhol, Dick Cavett, Jack Palance and Jack Nicholson.

For details of cinemas participating in the special event screening, visit

A new 320-page hardcover book, titled Imagine, will be published Oct. 9—which would have been Lennon’s 78th birthday—by Grand Central Publishing in the United States and Thames & Hudson in the U.K. Credited simply to John and Yoko, the book explores the making of the acclaimed 1971 album. Pre-order in the U.S. here; in the U.K. here.

Fans can expect the newly restored film to be released on DVD and Blu-ray, perhaps as early as later this year.

Steve Perry ‘Traces’ Solo Album: Listen

by Best Classic Bands Staff

(Photo of Steve Perry by Myriam Santos; used with permission)

Full details have finally emerged on the upcoming solo album from Steve Perry. Following a burst of activity on social media platforms on Monday (August 13), in which the former Journey lead vocalist and songwriter began to tease the long-rumored album, its title, artwork and track listing – and music video for the first track (see below) – were formally revealed today (August 15).

Traces is scheduled to be released October 5 via Concord Records. The album is available for pre-order here.

Image result for Steve Perry âTracesâ

The leadoff track, “No Erasin’,” with a terrific vocal by Perry, was also released on August 15. Watch the music video below.

In the August 15 announcement, Perry said: “Putting 30 years into 10 songs has certainly been an emotional experience for me. I started writing and recording these songs with the creative freedom that I was the only one who would ever hear them. Along the way, I rediscovered my love for music. Each track represents traces of my past, but is also a hopeful look into the future. I invite you to listen with an open heart.”

On August 13, Perry launched a website –, naturally – and established a Facebook page and Twitter account. Each featured the handwritten words “I know it’s Been a long Time Comin’…”

This message appeared on Perry’s social media platforms Aug. 13. “Long Time” = 24 years

Those words had a double meaning: It’s been 24 years since his most recent solo album, For The Love of Strange Medicine, was released in 1994; and they’re the first lyrics in “No Erasin’.”

Watch the music video for “No Erasin’,” released on August 15

At the time of Journey’s 2017 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Perry had announced that he would release a new solo album later that year. He described the process to ABC Radio, calling it a “cathartic” experience. “I met someone and I fell in love with this person,” he told the radio network. “And I lost this person to breast cancer four years ago. In the midst of that, I had written some songs, and before I met her I had sketched some. And so about a year ago, I started recording.

Image result for Steve Perry âTracesâ

“Basically, the record is an emotional expression, and a reason to make one,” he continued. “It’s been a real cathartic experience going back to that emotional place that I thought I would never go back to. And we really have been doing our very best to capture what I think are some timeless songs.”

The album’s 10 tracks include nine originals, plus a cover of the Beatles’ “I Need You.”

Traces Track Listing
No Erasin’
We’re Still Here
Most of All
No More Cryin’
In the Rain
Sun Shines Gray
You Belong to Me
Easy to Love
I Need You
We Fly

Steve Perry of Journey speaks onstage at the Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Used with permission)

At the induction ceremony, Perry used his time at the microphone to thank all of the other members, including Arnel Pineda, the band’s current singer. The band, sans Perry, performed the Journey hits “Separate Ways (World’s Apart),” “Lights” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Related: Journey’s 2017 Rock Hall induction

Journey founder Neal Schon – and, with bass player Ross Valory, one of only two remaining original members – has been paying tribute to Perry with a nightly dedication of the band’s 1978 hit single, “Lights,” while on Journey’s current tour with Def Leppard. The song, co-written by Schon and Perry, was featured on the band’s fourth full length album, Infinity, and has become one of their most popular and easily recognizable songs.

Perry has also written, or co-written, such classic rock songs as “Oh, Sherrie,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” and “Any Way You Want It.”

Before the Rock Hall induction, Perry last appeared with Journey at their Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony on January 24, 2005.


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Forums > Music: Non-Prince > New Musica Releases, Sales + News/Tours Info 2018 Parte 3