A Darlene Love Christmas
Saturday 12/19
A Darlene Love Christmas @ The Howard Theatre
$45 / $50
It's no wonder The New York Times raves: "Darlene Love's thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton's guitar or Bob Dylan's lyrics." Through the years, Darlene Love continues to captivate audiences worldwide with her warm, gracious stage presence and sensational performances. Since the early sixties, as part of Phil Spector's wall of sound hit factory, this great lady has done it all...from major motion pictures like the highly successful Lethal Weapon series to Broadway hits like Hairspray and Grease. She even starred as herself in Leader Of The Pack, credited as Broadway's first `jukebox musical.' Darlene has appeared on numerous television programs, running the gamut from her weekly appearances on Shindig to a recent guest spot on the PBS special entitled Women Who Rock. An autobiographical film is currently on the drawing board and another recent film that prominently features Darlene landed a distribution deal at the Sundance Festival - Twenty Feet to Stardom - is now in theatres across the country. The soundtrack CD will be released on June 22 and her book - "My name is Love, Darlene Love" - will be reissued to help promote the film. Darlene recently appeared on all the major network talk shows to promote it all - including a chat and performance with David Letterman. She will make some 100 appearances in the coming season. Darlene's background vocals with The Blossoms, for The Righteous Brothers, Sam Cook, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis Presley (to name but a few) set the stage for her emergence as a star in her own right. She has truly walked that twenty feet to take the spotlight as her own. Her Billboard hits include: He's A Rebel, The Boy I'm Gonna Marry, Da Doo Ron Ron, Wait `Til My Bobby Gets Home, He's Sure the Boy I Love and the #1 holiday classic Christmas Baby Please Come Home, a song that she performs annually with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Symphony Orchestra on The Late Show With David Letterman ( this December marks her 27th appearance). Darlene Love received her industry's highest award when Better Midler, a great fan of her work, inducted her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the celebration, the two ladies enjoyed performing "He's A Rebel" together. As part of the festivities, Darlene also sang "He's A Fine, Fine Boy" backed by another distinguished fan, Bruce Springsteen. Another friend and fan, Stevie Van Sandt has championed her over the years and pushed her to come to New York. He wrote the the song "All Alone on Christmas" especially for Darlene to sing in the movie Home Alone 11. Rolling Stone Magazine has proclaimed Darlene Love to be "one of the greatest singers of all time" and that certainly rings true, but perhaps Paul Shaffer says it even more concisely: "Darlene Love is Rock N' Roll!
Mac DeMarco
Wednesday 10/14
Mac DeMarco @ The Howard Theatre
$25 / $30
In 2015, the talent for creating a prolific output of exceptional music is almost a curse. Press people will tell you that there’s a bottleneck of too many artists covered by too few media outlets who always want to talk about something new. Managers will tell you that there’s too much money to be made on the road, so the album cycle goes on and on to support that. Artists may even feel pressured by reviewers and themselves to go into a deep stasis, only to emerge again when they’ve reinvented themselves into a newly revamped and retooled model, as opposed to just capturing time in a bottle and offering more to their catalog. At times, even fans have adopted this rule as well and are almost shocked when their favorite artist is able to release an LP already after two and a half or three years of waiting (let’s call this the MBV-effect). Lucky for us, Mac DeMarco is old school in his approach: when Mac wants to make a record and he has the songs ready, he makes it. Like the days of Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson or Prince releasing a classic every year (or less) comes Mac DeMarco’s Another One, a Mini-LP announced almost one year to the date of the meteorically successful Salad Days. The album was conceived and recorded entirely by Mac in a short period of time between a relentless tour schedule. At his new place in Far Rockaway, Queens — a neighborhood as east as you can possibly be before hitting Long Island — you can live in relative isolation despite technically still being in New York City. This left Mac with nothing more to do with his down time than to make music. Another One is an eight track release of brand new songs, freshly written for this release and each of which expand the arsenal of Mac’s already impressive catalog. Centered around a pump-organ riff and lilting vocal melody that is somehow both haunting and warm, “A Heart Like Hers” is a track that shows the maturity of Mac’s progression as songwriter. It’s a little bit more refined, a little bit more sophisticated, but nonetheless still retains the guts and soul of any classic Mac track. Opener “The Way You’d Love Her” has a playful swing to the chords and a guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-period ‘Dead’ LP, Mac’s new favored listening past time. The overall feeling of the LP is lost love, or perhaps love never found, a topic that the world never tires of and one Mac can move through without it being a dour and somber experience. Title track “Another One” and stand out “Without Me” exhibit this bittersweet sensibility in lyrical and musical context, both melancholic and romantic, blurring the line between happy or sad nostalgia. The record leaves you with the same satisfaction as an old Bogart movie: he’s still the hero, but he doesn’t quite get the girl. It’s odd that despite working at the same pace as artists like Creedence, The Byrds and The Rolling Stones, coupled with an equally unending schedule of touring, press and recording, Mac is still labeled as a slacker. With two full-lengths and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, a recent late night television debut on Conan following a special guest performance on The Eric Andre Show, it seems, as Mac DeMarco nears his 25th birthday, there’s not a slack bone in the man’s body, besides maybe his a penchant for wearing comfortable clothes. You need comfortable clothes to work this hard anyway. Great singer/songwriters (Elton, Joni, Neil) don’t need to reinvent themselves; they just need to keep going and let the songs out in the world. If you’re like me and don’t think it’s been too soon since Salad Days – and you’re actually about to freak if you don’t hear more — here’s Another One.
Gin Blossoms
Friday 10/30
Gin Blossoms @ The Howard Theatre
$32.50 / $38
In late 80’s Gin Blossoms started to grow a huge following as the #1 local music draw in Phoenix and certainly were the hometown hero’s of their favorite hang, Tempe, Arizona. Gin Blossoms indelible jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars like Nirvana. After the Phoenix New Times chose them the cities best rock band, they qualified to play at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in 1989. That same year, College Music Journal dubbed them the “Best Unsigned Band in America” and added an invitation to perform on MTV’s New Music Awards in New York City. Taking their name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo, Gin Blossoms signed a record deal with A&M and recorded their first EP “Up And Crumbling” in 1991. But, it was not until their breakout record “New Miserable Experience” in 1992 that their rise to fame began. “New Miserable Experience” kept the band on the charts for almost 3 years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs Rita,” and “Found Out About You.” The album took the airwaves by siege and held MTV hostage with multi cross-over hits in 4 different radio formats. It was this record that rocketed the band into the mainstream going on to sell over 4 million copies making the band a 90’s radio mainstay. In 1995, Robin Wilson, Jesse Valenzuela and veteran composer Marshall Crenshaw wrote the bands 4th of 9 sound track inclusions; “Til I Hear It From You.” The smash hit was released as a Gin Blossoms single and it appeared on the platinum sound track for the film Empire Records. 1996 saw the final record of the decade for Gin Blossoms “Congratulations I’m Sorry.” The album brought two more hits; "Follow You Down" which spent ten weeks in the Top Ten and "As Long As It Matters" which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Duo or Group. “It was pretty cool to lose a Grammy to the Beatles. Who else would you want to lose out to” say’s Jesse. The album rocketed into Billboard's Top Ten and a year of touring helped push the record past 1,500,000 in sales. In 5 years, the band released 2 EP’s, two LP’s and over 12 singles that fueled record sales to over 7 million. Their blend of Pop & Rock, now known as Jangle-Pop, became a musical force that helped define the sound of 90’s radio. In 1997, while at peak success and after numerous appearances on late night TV such as Letterman, Leno, Arsenio Hall, Saturday Night Live, The Grammy’s, and endless touring, the group disbanded and began a four year hiatus. It was not until a 2001 New Years Eve performance in Tempe that the members reformed and began touring and recording again. “Since 2001, we have been performing over 120 shows a year. This is what we most enjoy doing” say’s Wilson. “It’s our job and I know all of us are really grateful that we can earn a living making records and entertaining people on the road. We’re doing something we really love! I don’t know many people that can say that when they go to work everyday.” In 2005, former A&M president Al Cafaro resigned the band and partnered to record their 3rd full length album in over 10 years. “Major Lodge Victory” landed on Billboards 200 and was the # 10 Indie album of the year. Released on August 8th, 2006, it included hits “Learning The Hard Way” and the appropriately titled “Long Time Gone.” Billboard magazine called this gem “an effortless triumph of melodic perfection.” “This was a really fun record to make” say’s Scotty. “We assembled some of the old team together and recorded at Ardent Studios with John Hampton again. Ardent is a legendary studio, and were comfortable there – it was a lot of fun.” Back in chart bloom, Entertainment Weekly reviewed “Major Lodge Victory” by saying; “Hardly a half-hearted cash-in, this comeback LP marks a solid addendum to Gin Blossoms multi-platinum peak output.” Their most recent album, 2010’s “No Chocolate Cake”, lands Gin’s back on the singles chart again with “Miss Disarray” and the album shot straight to # 1 on Amazon, hitting Billboard’s top 200 at # 73 and the Indie chart at #14. Because the band members no longer live in the same city—Wilson divides his time between Tempe and New York, Valenzuela is in Los Angeles. Putting the sonic pieces of No Chocolate Cake together presented an exciting new challenge for the band. While Wilson contributed a handful of songs, the bulk of the material chosen for the 11 track set was written by Valenzuela either solo or with different collaborators, including Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts (the Blossoms guitarist first worked with Wilde on The Rembrandts’ song “Long Walk Home”). “In the old days, we used to joke that there was something for everybody in this band,” says Wilson. “There’s just something about the way we play and sound together, but in the end, it’s really about the quality of the songs. If you’re a band and want to sustain a career, no matter what you look like or how you play, you’ve got to have great songs. So it’s those songs and the sound we make…my voice, the guitars, tempos, that add up to something indefinable.” Over the years, Gin Blossoms have toured over 25 different Countries including a five city tour of Iraq in 2010. “It was so much fun to entertain our troops. It’s really insightful to see first hand how our troops live in a combat zone. It really helped to broaden my understanding on the sacrifices they make to protect us at home and abroad. I hope all Americans understand how important it is for us to extend our thanks” says Robin. Gin Blossoms are currently writing a brand new record and hope to finish in time for a 2013 release. “We never rush the writing of a new record” says Jesse. “There’s something to be said for having a level of experience where you instinctively know what works. The best ones are those that feel like they’ve already been there, as if they are just waiting to naturally emerge. I think it’s the quality of the songs we have and Robin’s voice. It’s also a matter of trust. I know when I bring in a song that Robin will know how to sing it, Scotty will know how to play it and Bill will know the groove. I wouldn’t work with guys I had to tell what to do. The key is to not try so hard.” 2013 will bring the band to over 100 cities, a 5 Artist rock cruise, international shows and perhaps a brand new album – stay tuned!