Here it comes all at once!
Josh Ritter, who will be at the Byham on May 20, found himself in a moral quandary last weekend when he was booked to play a small Pennsylvania college with a restrictive behavioral code he could not endorse.
Rather than walk away, he chose to play, while also calling attention to the school's anti-gay policy. Now, the 36-year-old singer-songwriter from Idaho, is getting attention for more than just acclaimed albums like "The Animal Years" and "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter."
His post, about playing the show and now boycotting the school, has generated a huge debate on his Facebook page. Here is what he said:
I travel a lot - this month I was in fifteen cities in as many days. I always like to learn a little bit about the place I'm going to play - that Chicago has the fourth largest GDP of any world city, or that Louisville is famous for a sandwich known as the "Hot Brown."
Today I was Grantham, Pennsylvania, at Messiah College, and as I was doing a little digging about the place I learned something that surprised and disappointed me.
Messiah College requires all students to sign a "Community Covenant" promising to, among other things, "avoid such sinful practices as...homosexual behavior...."
This policy, which I see as exclusionary and bigoted, could not run more counter to my personal beliefs. If I had done my homework, and read about Messiah's policies ahead of time, I would never have agreed to play there.
I did play at Messiah College tonight, and I chose to use the opportunity to talk to the students - to encourage them to seek openness and change. I spoke honestly about my personal views - that we should all have the right to love - and to marry freely, no matter what our sexual orientation. Everyone was respectful and kind, and it is my hope that they'll continue to demand a change to the Community Covenant.
I hope to have made the best of a difficult situation. I'm donating the fee I received from Messiah College tonight in its entirety to The Trevor Project (thetrevorproject.org), the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
I won't play Messiah College again - not until they welcome, in word and deed, all members of their faith regardless of sexuality, and I urge my fellow musicians to do the same.
- Josh Ritter
A normal Breeders set, like one in the '90s heyday, would have built up to "Cannonball," but at Mr. Smalls Friday night, the band rolled out the big gun early.
The '93 version of the Breeders -- Kim and Kelley Deal, Jim MacPherson and Josephine Wiggs, with violinist Carrie Bradley -- has reunited for a 20th anniversary of "Last Splash," the album that broke the band in the midst of the Nirvana-led alt-rock explosion.
"Last Splash" is one of the quirkier albums from that era, as anyone could tell Friday night, even if they were hearing it for the first time. There's certainly no getting bored with one prevailing style.
The well-known "Cannonball" is in that Pixies mode of arty rock that goes from sweet pop to a loud blast. The almost equally catchy "Divine Hammer" isn't far removed from the Go-Go's. "I Just Wanna Get Along" is a pop-punk take on '60s surf rock. And then there are the whimsical departures, like the drony "Mad Lucas," noise-rock instrumental "S.O.S." and country-pop ditty "Drivin on 9."
Although only a few dates into the tour, the Breeders pulled it off expertly, and with a friendly, self-deprecating vibe that matched the mood of the adoring crowd. The Deal twins, at 51, haven't lost any of the sweetness or edge to their voices, and despite the downtime, the nimble rhythm section had no problem locking into its groove.
After about 45 minutes of "Last Splash," the Breeders returned with a high-energy, seven-song encore that included Guided By Voices' punchy "Shocker in Gloomtown," punk-rock rager "Head to Toe" and the offbeat cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
On Friday night, the DIY spirit of '93 held up nicely in '13.
Mac Miller announced on Twitter today that his new album, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off," will be released on June 18.
It's the second album from the Pittsburgh rapper who topped with the charts in November 2011 with "Blue Slide Park."
This one is loaded with guests, including Tyler, the Creator, Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt, Cam'ron Action Bronson and Gucci Man. He's already released the trippy first single "S.D.S.," produced by Flying Lotus.
Pharrel Williams and ID Labs are among the other producers.
Earlier on Thursday, Kanye West tweeted "June Eighteen," which may indicate the release date of his new album, which would certainly own the charts that week.