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Lou Christie pays tribute to friend Lesley Gore

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Lesley-Gore-16606845-1-402-400x400They won't be remembered as the essential versions, partly because of the dated '80s production, but in 1986 tourmates Lou Christie and Lesley Gore recorded a duet of The Skyliners' "Since I Don't Have You" with "It's Only Make Believe" for Manhattan Records.

The two singers went back much further, as Christie, who grew up in Glenwillard, near Moon, notes in a tribute he wrote to Gore, who died Monday at age 68:

"This is truly the last thing I would want to do, to say goodbye to someone whom I have admired my whole career. Lesley Gore and I met in 1963 when we both had our first hit record. Lesley was a protected new star who seemed way above it all until you had some time alone with her. She was fun, smart and talented with a sense of humor that was her secret glory. Her taste in music surpassed any teen angel that was on the charts at the time. Raised on jazz, show tunes and standards. Lesley could sing them all and did. The smokey timber of her unforgettable sound was hers and hers alone. I loved her independence, loved signing with her, loved every hit record she had...especially 'The Look of Love.' "



Gore, Brooklyn-born and New Jersey-raised, topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her signature hit "It's My Party" and followed that others, including "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me," an early feminist anthem. In 1964, she was part of "The T.A.M.I. Show," a classic concert film that also featured James Brown, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys. 
 
She was here for the WWSW OldiesFest in Boyce Park in 1991 and was part of the taping at the Benedum in 2003 for "Rock and Roll at 50," doing the song "Maybe I Know."
 
All Music wrote, "Lesley Gore avoids 'It's My Party" in favor of 'Maybe I Know,' a song appropriate to any age singer with the pipes (which she still has)."
 
"I never used her on the Roots of Rock and Roll shows," says promoter Henry DeLuca. "She was a very good singer, but she was not as R&B gritty as many of the people who came to those shows preferred."
 

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Jack White addresses Guacamole-gate in playful letter

Written by Scott Mervis on .

jackwhiteIt's going to be a shock if there's no reference to guacamole on the next Jack White record. He's certainly the kind of singer who can have a lot of fun with that playful word.

If not he can just cover the Texas Tornados song "Guacamole."

Till then, we have this very entertaining letter from White regarding Guacamole-Gate, which began when the students at the University of Oklahoma published his tour rider in the school newspaper requesting a certain guac recipe.

FOR GOD SAKES!

dear journalists and other people looking for drama or a diva,

even in the age of the short attention span internet article, it’s still hard to believe you

are STILL writing about this:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/02/15/386409331/for-musician-jack-white-any-old-guacamole-just-wont-do

wow. classy.

seems like there’s a new rule number one for up and coming journalists: dont let the facts get in the way of click bait.

at the risk of incurring even more of this hoo haa (and i’ve definitely turned my cheek more than once lately) and even

though our management sent out a letter to clarify this, and since

this seems to be all anyone can ask me about lately,

here’s the real deal, and hopefully it’ll explain this nonsensical scenario and we can move on with our lives. (or what have you).

first off, this is none of your business, but i have no specific demands in my dressing room. i know i could ask for lots of

things but i actually dont ask for ANYTHING. i take with me what i need,

and that aint much.

anything on the rider is for the band and the crew.

this "guacamole recipe" is my hilarious tour managers inside

joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break

up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t

know because i’ve never had it. i can’t even make kool aid

let alone cook any real food enough to have a “recipe”. sorry, i dont have that talent.

bananas: did it occur to anyone someone on the tour

might have an allergy to them? no? hmmm. one day some fantasy journalist out

there will call someone in the biz and actually have a rider explained to them, maybe

none of them have ever been on tour. oh well, let’s move on,

first amendment issues: i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though

the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right

to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely)

and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing

shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall.

do you know why we dont do that or want that? a hundred articles about bananas, free speech, and guacamole is why;

it’s because people dont understand what a rider is or what the terms of a contract are. they’re out of their element,

and you can’t blame them for it. and people who write about that know this. people WANT a rider to be a list of demands that

a diva insists occur lest he or she refuse to play a note of music.

but in reality, it’s just some food and drinks backstage for the

hundred workers and guests who have to live in a concrete

bunker for 15 hours. some people bring thier own living rooms on tour,

some people ask for a huge spread. who cares? what you’r looking for

is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s,

sorry to dissappoint.

someone printed that i’m never going to oklahoma again?

not true. i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead

of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money.

ask around in tulsa. i’ve been

there at least three times on these last two albums. i love it there.

our booking agent warned the college that other artists might

not book shows there? of course they did, it’s bad business

what that school paper did and really rude. of course they are going to tell them to wise up.

am i pissed at the students at oklahoma university? absolutely not. am i dissappointed in young journalists at their school paper?

absolutely. but i forgive them, they’re young and have learned

thier lesson about truth and ethics hopefully. all they have to do is

google this to know that it’s not worth it. look for real problems instead

next time. look for the truth, not fake drama. i got pissed during my show and berated

the crowd? no. sorry, didn’t happen.

i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned?

they have freedom of speech but i dont? at my show? ok. i guess the rules change for different

people. the crowd were amazing and we played for 2 and a half hours that night.

people were told to delete

photos on their camera? : i dont know much about that but it must

be a miscommunication about what was

public property at the college and the contract we had with the university to

let us do our work in peace; but i’ll give you an example,

if someone working at a theater we played at started taking pictures of all of

our workers and our gear they’d probably get fired by their theater or promoter.

sorry to the student paper budding press papparazi on that one, but is this a tmz assignment or can

you give us some peace while we try to put on a show for the students? give us a break man.

i know it’s a fun thing for people to try to turn me into a jerk and a diva, but in

this case it’s pretty ridiculous and has almost nothing to do with me. my relationship

with the fans at that show and how we got to a new place together through music remains intact

and i’d love to do it again with them.

i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is.

jack white

III

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New Pornographers blast off at Mr. Smalls

Written by Scott Mervis on .

NewPornA.C. Newman had either fallen asleep on the bus or he was joking when he said mid-set, "
We're pretty close to Pittsburgh, right? So there's probably some crossover between Pittsburgh people and Millvale people?"
 
The happy, sold-out crowd packed into Mr. Smalls just kind of looked back at him puzzled at that one. Other than that, the frontman for The New Pornographers was in complete control Friday night of one of power-pop's finest bands.
 
The veteran Canadian group is out on a short winter run, minus its part-time indie siren Neko Case. It's always better with Neko, but, amazingly enough, that still leaves New Porn with three viable leads in Newman, Kathryn Calder and Dan Bejar (who also fronts Destroyer), and with Calder's pretty soprano the harmonies aren't far off from the records. (The lack of Neko, however, does cut into the visual appeal of the band, as she has that flaming red hair and rock-star swagger.)
 
Although Pornographers fans, like most audiences, love the older stuff, this was a good tour for new material. The songs from last year's excellent "Brill Bruisers" -- "Backstairs," the driving "You Tell Me Where" and Bejar-sung standout "Born With a Sound" -- pack even more of a punch, bolstered with ricocheting space-rock synths. 
Calder, who is Newman's niece, filled in beautifully 
for Neko on 
"
Champions of Red Wine" and rocked out with Newman on the album's art-funk workout "Dancehall Domine."
 
Newman, with own impressive range and backed with an an air-tight band, excelled at the driving rockers like the "Brill Bruisers" title track (oddly Shins sounding) and 
​"
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism," and the furry Bejar offered a quirky contrast with his gruff vocals on "War On the East Coast" and "
Myriad Harbour," a favorite from "Challengers."
 
Banging through a 24-song set, with a hardly a dud, suggests these Pornographers would have fit in well at the Brill Building.
 
 
​New Pornographers Set List​
 
Brill Bruisers 
Myriad Harbour 
Moves 
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism 
Dancehall Domine 
War On the East Coast 
Use It 
Jackie, Dressed in Cobras 
Another Drug Deal of the Heart 
The Laws Have Changed 
You Tell Me Where 
Testament to Youth in Verse 
All the Old Showstoppers 
Adventures in Solitude 
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk 
Backstairs 
Silver Jenny Dollar 
Champions of Red Wine 
Born With a Sound 
Mass Romantic

Encore: 
Ballad of a Comeback Kid 
Sing Me Spanish Techno 
The Bleeding Heart Show

 

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Pittsburgh not on AC/DC's Highway to Hell

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

ACDCAngus Young (John Shearer/Invision/AP)AC/DC announced a stadium tour today with no Pittsburgh date, which shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. Only country acts seem to be playing stadium dates here these days and the tour is very limited.

AC/DC is starting the tour in Europe in April. Diehards can travel to New Jersey, Toronto or Detroit to see one of the stadium shows in August or September.

We can hope for a second leg of arena dates in the fall, but Brian Johnson, at 67, is no spring chicken so let’s see how he holds up. That shrieking vocal style is a bit more demanding than what most guys are doing at 67.

Meanwhile, AC/DC’s opening at the Grammys on Sunday — with new/old drummer Chris Slade replacing the legally troubled Phil Rudd and nephew Steve Young replacing the ailing guitarist Malcolm Young — has gotten mixed reviews. Spin ranked the “Rock or Bust”/“Highway to Hell” combo, with the glowing devil horns, 19th out of 23 and Ed Masley (former PG, now Arizona Republic) had AC/DC at 16.

Some stories mocked the band for using a giant teleprompter at the back of theater. Everyone knows the words to “Highway to Hell.” “Rock or Bust” not so much. I thought they sounded ... well, just like AC/DC, so you either like that or not. I happen to like it — now even more than then. What they have never been is easy on the eyes, and Johnson looks more like Buddy Hackett every day.

So, excluding Masley (not known for his superficiality), that might have something to do with people calling them irrelevant and over-the-hill. At the stadium shows, you can watch the boys from far away.

AC/DC North American Tour Dates:
08/22 – Foxborough, MA @ Gillette Stadium
08/26 – E. Rutherford, NJ @ MetLife Stadium
08/28 – Quebec City, QC @ Plains Of Abraham
08/31 – Montreal, QC @ Olympic Stadium
09/03 – Ottawa, ON @ TD Place
09/05 – Moncton, NB @ Magnetic Hill
09/08 – Detroit, MI @ Ford Field
09/10 – Toronto, ON @ Downsview Park
09/15 – Chicago, IL @ Wrigley Field
09/20 – Edmonton, AB @ Commonwealth Stadium
09/22 – Vancouver, BC @ BC Place
09/25 – San Francisco, CA @ AT&T Park
09/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Dodger Stadium

 

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Jason Isbell rocks sold-out house with dark, lonesome tales

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Isbellphoto by Johnny Saint LethalThe body count kept escalating as Jason Isbell’s set wore on Monday night at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead.

And the singer-songwriter from Alabama, as adept as they come with a murder ballad, captivated the sold-out crowd through a two-hour set.

Listening to Isbell, who spent six years with vaunted Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, one gets the sense that he wore out his copy of Springsteen’s “Nebraska,” along with knowing his Willie, Waylon and Cash.

On Monday night, he played almost all of 2013’s “Southeastern,” his fourth and most accomplished solo album. It is heavy, to say the least, tackling such dark subjects as loneliness (“Traveling Alone”), a cancer battle (“Elephant”) and pedophilia at home (“Yvette”). In that last one, a classmate with a rifle and a scope takes care of the problem.

Isbell writes with exquisite detail and subtle twists, like on the song “Live Oak,” about a killer on the run: “We’d robbed a Great Lakes freighter/killed a couple men or more/When I told her, her eyes flickered like the sharp steel of a sword.”

He had a darkly humorous story about a young girl, only 9, holding a sign, requesting that at a concert. “I don’t think I write songs that appeal to people in that age group,” he said with a laugh. After the show, the girl asked him what happened to the woman, who is buried at the end of the song. When he suggested that maybe she didn’t die, her dad to him, “Thanks a lot. That’s gonna be four or five weeks of nightmares.”

Although the subject matter rarely sees the light, Isbell’s delivery is anything but droning. He has a voice as sharp and shiny as that sword, and his quartet gave the songs moody Southern accents — including slide guitar and accordion — while rocking as hard as the Truckers on “Decoration Day” and “Never Gonna Change,” songs that he did with that band.

“It’s all folk music,” Isbell said. “Some’s louder than others.”

He saved one of the loudest for last, sending people into the cold Monday night with “Super 8,” a churning and almost joyous roadhouse rocker that has the narrator in a hotel room on the wrong end of a jealous boyfriend’s fungo bat.

Seattle indie veteran Damien Jurado was a fitting opener with his own haunting narratives and lonesome vocal style.

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