All Aboard The Gravy Train Exclamation Point Exclamation Point Exclamation Point Exclamation Point

Given the context of a music-related website, I don't see anything inappropriate about telling you that Gravy Train!!!! will be going on tour this summer in support of their album, All the Sweet Stuff, out July 10 on Cochon Records. However, I feel that it would be inappropriate to discuss these matters in other contexts, such as:

It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! during a funeral. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! in the middle of a final exam. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! before saying 'Grace.' It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! with a vegan. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! while participating in a three-on-three basketball tournament. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! while refereeing a three-on-three basketball tournament. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! during a romantic dinner. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! within the pages of a 700+ page novel focusing on agrarian uprisings. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! on a plane that has just lost one of its engines. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! with someone trying to sleep. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! while Gravy Train!!!! is playing on stage in front of you. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! with Maury Povich. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! in a bus full of Argentine anarchists. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! during a lengthy hospital stay. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! while placing flowers on Ezra Pound's grave. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! after taking a six-month vow of silence. It would be inappropriate to discuss Gravy Train!!!! with anyone not named Ghost Boobs.

I'm just sayin':

$ Quintron and Miss Pussycat

Def Jam Co-Founder Russell Simmons Seeks Voluntary Ban on “Bitch,” “Ho,” and “Nigger”

With a war in Iraq, a genocide in Sudan, and a health care crisis, it's interesting how some white dude named Don Imus could overshadow it all with his shock-jocking "nappy-headed ho" comment. Suddenly, hip-hop lyrics once again became the center of attention, resulting in high-profile forums, intense debates, and a media shitstorm all framed in terms of racial responsibility. In this complex web of productive and ignorant discussions, here are two reactions that I found particularly interesting:

- "Don Imus is not a hip-hop artist or a poet. Hip-hop artists rap about what they see, hear and feel around them, their experience of the world... Sometimes their observations or the way in which they choose to express their art may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression. Our job is to be an inclusive voice for the hip-hop community and to help create an environment that encourages the positive growth of hip-hop."

- "[Hip-Hop Summit Action Network] is concerned about the growing public outrage concerning the use of the words ‘bitch,' ‘ho,' and ‘nigger.' We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words ‘bitch' and ‘ho' and the racially offensive word ‘nigger.' "

Believe it or not, both quotes are actually from Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, and were released on behalf of Hip-Hop Summit Action Network on two different occasions (1 2). To be fair, he does say the ban should be "voluntary" and that it's "not about censorship," but what is this really about then? Out of respect for "African Americans" and females? Or is it because people are suddenly demanding accountability for a white person's comments by looking to hip-hop, a style of music dominated by black artists? Public relations?

It's hard to shake the feeling that Simmons (who everyone seems to call a "rap mogul") is changing his tune because talking heads like Rev. Al Sharpton have been so vocally insistent that labels and artists crack down on hip-hop lyrics (Sharpton plans on buying stock in Time Warner and Universal Music Group to earn rights to go to shareholder meetings and complain about hip-hop lyrics). That and, of course, the influence of the private HSAN meeting that was held between record executives, industry leaders, and community activists at the home of Warner Music's Lyor Cohen. Yeah, a private meeting. In this context, if hip-hop lyrics are reflections of the artist's experiences, as Russell Simmons says, would a sudden absence of, say, the word "nigger" reflect a cultural progression or a cultural imposition?

Speaking of cultural impositions, in February, the New York City Council passed a resolution that symbolically bans the word "nigger" and asks that any album with "nigger" in its lyrics be excluded from Grammy considerations. But if the word is being used as a term of endearment, why should artists feel pressured to self-censor, and why should the album be exempt from the Grammys? I mean, does the appropriation of the word "nigger" by African Americans mean anything anymore? Sounds like a big ball of power and control to me. Misogyny and racism extend far beyond radio broadcasting and hip-hop, and the effectiveness of banning certain vocabulary in hip-hop lyrics to eliminate such deep-rooted problems with such widespread manifestations is, to this particular writer, misguided.

Espers’ Meg Baird Has a Deep, Dark Rumor

There are plenty of deep, dark rumors that have been circulating throughout this crazy rolly-coaster called "the music business" for ages. One concerns that young mod-turned-old-American-classics-interpreter Rod Stewart, who is known for being "thrifty." It has been noted that Rod the Cod often pays for goods in stores and restaurants by check. It is a pretty good scam for all would-be star hounds and star scrooges: if you are receiving a check from Rod from Nod, you will be more apt to keep the check in a frame rather than cashing it and it saves Rod the Stew the $4.99 at Checkers or Radio Shack for stuff that he obviously cannot afford. Store clerks get their very own piece of celebrity paraphernalia and Rod the iPod keeps his pockets full via big, big savings. It's win-win!

Another industry goodie involves every red-blooded psych 'n' prog lover's heroes Pink Floyd, who, it is persistently alleged, recorded the rotten mega-selling(out) concept album The Wall with one reason in mind: to recoup substantial losses they incurred investing unwisely in... (wait for it)... SKATEBOARDS during the 1970s! The Floyd and skateboards? Yeah, I can definitely see that as a natural fit. Wonder what the christ went wrong?

I am guessing Meg Baird -- erstwhile Espers and Baird Sisters songbird -- has a hidden, secretive side, although practicing cheapskate tricks to save a few bucks or jumping on the latest rolling flatboard bandwagon probably do not figure into it. One secret (that was never really a secret) of hers is now out of the bag, because it has been proudly announced by all at Drag City that they will release her solo album called Dear Companion on May 22. On it, you will hear her playing trad tales and home-spun faery folk and singing of Williams sweet and Ellens fair.

If Meg Baird came into "Nadelle's Appalachian Sing-along and Magi-Medieval Emporium" to buy a cap o'rushes and a woven basket, I'd keep her check.

1. Dear Companion
2. River Song
3. The Cruelty of Barbary Allen
4. Do What You Gotta Do
5. The Waltze of the Tennis Players
6. Riverhouse in Tinicum
7. Maiden in the Moor Lay
8. Sweet William and Fair Ellen
9. All I Ever Wanted
10. Willie O'Winsbury

Espers are a-touring:
04.25.07 - Dublin, Ireland - Crawdaddy
04.26.07 - London, England - Dingwalls #
04.27.07 - Aberdeen, Scotland - The Lemon Tree $
04.28.07 - Glasgow, Scotland - Tramway $
04.29.07 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Liquid Room $
05.19.07 - Nelsonville, OH - Hockhocking Festival

# w/Voice of the Seven Woods & Sharron Kraus

$ Triptych Festival

Belong Teams up with The Album Leaf to Play in a Theater, Hotel, Ballroom, Church, the Middle East, and a Pig; Discrepancy Disrupts American Family Life Everywhere

A conspiracy exists, my friends: the culprits who named the venues that Belong are playing are evil. Belong, a duo of electronic drone transfusers, is heading out on tour in support of their new, as-yet unnamed EP, the follow-up to last year's October Language. That's all well and good, but before you go out to see one of their shows, I will expose the evils of the venue names. This darkness will be explained via a dialogue between a mother and her child.

Let's zoom in on Cambridge, MA. Billy and his girlfriend Suzie are about to tell Billy's mother the evening's agenda. The old, sweet lady speaks first.

"Hi, honey. Whatcha doin' tonight?"

"Well, Mamma, Suzie and I were going to catch a show at the Middle East."

"Middle East? Did you say Middle East? I don't want you goin' there."

"Yeah, Mom. Okay just lay off it, we're seeing Belong and The Album Leaf."

"Oh is that them Taliban codenames? I always knew you weren't American enough for this family!"

"I hate you mother! Come on Suzie, let's blow this hellhole and mellow out to some amazing glitchy electonic music!"

All dates with The Album Leaf:

CEO on CEO Porn: Warner CEO Bronfman Sues Vivideni, Former Simon & Schuster CEO Threatens to Sue Bronfman

Warner Music Group's current CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. (known to his friends like TMT as "Efer") has sued media conglomerate Vivendi SA over his pension, claiming his payments have been cut by almost 65%. Back when he was employed by Vivendi SA, Brofman was the company's largest single shareholder and head of Segram during the late-2000 merger of Canal+, Seagram, and Vivendi. He left Vivendi in 2002. Although Vivendi informed Bronfman last year that a company error earned him 15 years of "additional service," Bronfman has claimed that he signed three contracts through a "Benefit Equalization Plan," which he alleges earns him credit beyond his pension payments.

All very interesting, yeah?

Now reports are surfacing that former Simon & Schuster CEO Dick Snyder is threatening to sue Bronfman. In a $100 million lawsuit, Synder claims that WMG never compensated him for his role in helping negotiate Bronfman's takeover of WMG. The "role" he claims is that he was Bronfman's "personal adviser" who created the WMG deal in the first place but just didn't officially close it. According to a draft of the potential lawsuit acquired by The Post, it says "Given his track record, Bronfman Jr. lacked the capacity and sound business judgment necessary to conceive of or consummate the acquisition of Warner Music Group on his own." However,, several anonymous sources disagree with his assessment. Even our own anonymous source said "I bet he's lying." Compelling!

Bronfman Jr., of course, is now the CEO of Warner Music Group since 2004 and has become quite the figure as WMG and the rest of the major label groups try to acclimate to the volatile digital music industry. So why should you care about a CEO suing for money and an ex-CEO suing for money when you wish you could sue for money yourself? Well, I didn't really want to tell you this... but... you, my friend, are Edgar Bronfman Jr, CEO of Warner Music Group since 2004.

Chris Garneau Dances With The Stars, Tours

"If you need anything, just put a dime in the phone," says my landlady. She's a nice person, a bit eccentric, a bit odd, but a real sweetheart, if for no other reason than she claims the above phrase is "an old Italian expression."

"How old?" I'll ask, but I already know it can't be any older than telephones, and no more recent than when you actually could put a dime in the phone. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not an old Italian expression but a universal phrase.

It's a very democratic phrase. Imagine politicians using it as a slogan. We'd be much more appreciative of our representatives if we could follow my landlady's advice. Plus, anyone in doubt of such a candidate would be prompted to rethink their position with the question my landlady asks after everything: "Am I right or wrong?" You're right, so very right.

I mention all of this because it reminds me of Chris Garneau. His music feels open and sweeping in its own insular nature. It seems like a lesser-known, downtrodden definition for "Democracy" that no one uses, something smaller and independent and all-encompassing in emotion rather than one grand idea. If the National Anthem were changed to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," Garneau's music could wait in its shadow, its animas, its black sheep. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. He's honest, or he seems like it anyway. If I really did need something, I could just put a dime in the phone.

Of course, a phone call costs more than a dime, and he knows that. He knows, and he'll give you the extra 15 cents just because. This is the land of opportunity, and he is going on tour in support of Music for Tourists starting May 13 in North Manchester, Indiana. It sounds like a nice place, am I right or wrong?

Right.

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