RIP: Louie Bellson, jazz drummer

From the LA Times:

Louie Bellson, a jazz drummer and bandleader who combined remarkable instrumental virtuosity with far-ranging compositional skills, has died. He was 84.

According to his wife, Francine, Bellson died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications of Parkinson's disease following a broken hip in November.

Bellson's long, productive career stretched from his teens -- when, in competition with 40,000 other young players, he won the Slingerland National Gene Krupa drumming contest -- to the tours and seminars he continued until 2008.

- Louie Bellson official website
- Louie Bellson Wikipedia entry

Indie Band Pays YOU to Download Their Record, Core Temperature of Hell Currently Unstably Hovering at 33 Degrees Fahrenheit

At TMT, we’re all about the jokes. And yes, here in 2009, both the economy and the state of the old-school Record Industry model are ripe for ceremonious and symbolic cage-rattling, irreverent flouting, and semi-satirical marketing exploitation. But come on, people. A band paying the consumer to download their album digitally? Well, that’s just the kind of ridiculous thing that those VH1 I Love Nostalgia shows will devote an entire segment to when the 2009 show comes along (in 2010).

As part of a marketing campaign motivated by, among other things, a seeming desire to finally “get famous,” Philly-based indie rock band Officer Roseland is paying fans $1 to download their new, unfortunately titled, and woefully graphic-designed album, Stimulus Package, from their website MyStimulusPackage.org.

In case you were wondering, the album is being called “satirical” and supposedly skewers the commercialism of the recording industry -- and of American society at large -- “with a warped sense of humor that is the band's signature.” Blah blah blah. Anyway, upon visiting the site, the band offers fans two options: The first, labeled "TAKE," pays YOU $1 to download the album. The second, labeled "GIVE," donates that $1.00 to the charity Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, an organization that donates instruments to music programs that are already in place but lack the funding to maintain their equipment.

Okay, okay... I admit it. That whole donations thing is actually a really reputable thing to do. But come on, do we really have to resort to using the crippled state of the economy as a publicity scheme to sell our new products? And isn’t “giving things away” actually just harmful to the economy’s capitalism-based progress in the long run?? And, hey wait a minute; aren’t we just feeding this marketability anyway by posting a story about it and name-checking the band??? Aww, man. My head hurts; I think I’m going to go lie down for a minute and watch I Love the 90’s for the 16th time.

Decemberists Tour/Album Promises to Offend Nobody, Annoy Some

Remember that first roommate you had in college? You know, that guy who liked theater, but ended up majoring in philosophy? The one who hadn't slept with anyone who hadn't read at least one Faulkner book? You remember him, right? You liked him, but there'd be no way in hell you'd be rooming with him next year. Why? Because he was safe.

I hope you see the parallel I'm trying to draw here. The Decemberists, although they do mean well, too, are oh so terribly safe. If temperance societies were all the rage again, you bet your precious undergarments they'd be jumping onto that bandwagon.

Case in point: The Decemberists have a new album coming out March 24 (safe) on Capitol Records. Their newest concept album, The Hazards of Love, is a collection of 17 songs telling the story of a woman named Margaret and her various misadventures, much in the same fashion as, say, an Edward Gorey cartoon or perhaps Lemony Snicket (safe). In support of Hazards, The Decemberists are also launching a large tour/performance of the album in its entirety, and they are planning to debut this at NPR Music's SXSW showcase (seriously, these guys are safer than betting that white hipsters are going to love Portland or that your aunt's going to buy you another Thomas Kincaid painting this Christmas at the mall because she thinks you're artsy).

Joining them for the tour will be Lavender Diamond's lovely Becky Stark, as well as Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond; they will be playing the part of the female leads.

Their confirmed tourdates are as follows:
05.19.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Palladium
05.20.09 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre
05.21.09 - Eugene, OR - McDonald Theater
05.24.09 - Missoula, MT - Wilma Theatre
05.26.09 - Denver, CO - Fillmore Auditorium
05.27.09 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
05.29.09 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater
05.31.09 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
06.01.09 - Columbus, OH - Lifestyle Communities Pavilion
06.03.09 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
06.04.09 - Raleigh, NC - Memorial Auditorium
06.05.09 - Richmond, VA - The National
06.06.09 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre
06.09.09 - Boston, MA - Bank of America Pavillion
06.10.09 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
06.11.09 - Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

Touch and Go Cuts Distribution, Staff

The rumors of Touch and Go Records going out of business is untrue, but the future still looks pretty grim for the seminal Chicago label. Today, Corey Rusk, Touch and Go's founder, announced that the label is cutting manufacturing and distribution services for over 20 independent labels, including Merge, Kill Rock Stars, Drag City, and Atavistic. Not only would this decision affect Touch and Go's ability to maneuver in a troubling economic environment, but this will also certainly affect the labels that might have been dependent on Touch and Go to get their music in stores. On top of this, Rusk states that he will have to trim down his staff of roughly 25.

Sigh. This is truly a sad day for independent music. Here's Rusk's statement in full:

It is with great sadness that we are reporting some major changes here at Touch and Go Records. Many of you may not be aware, but for nearly 2 decades, Touch and Go has provided manufacturing and distribution services for a select yet diverse group of other important independent record labels. Titles from these other labels populate the shelves of our warehouse alongside the titles on our own two labels, Touch and Go Records, and Quarterstick Records.

Unfortunately, as much as we love all of these labels, the current state of the economy has reached the point where we can no longer afford to continue this lesser known, yet important part of Touch and Go’s operations. Over the years, these labels have become part of our family, and it pains us to see them go. We wish them all the very best and we will be doing everything we can to help make the transition as easy as possible.

Touch and Go will be returning to its roots and focusing solely on being an independent record label. We’ll be busy for a few months working closely with the departing labels and scaling our company to an appropriate smaller size after their departure. It is the end of a grand chapter in Touch and Go’s history, but we also know that good things can come from new beginnings.

Definitive Jux to Reissue Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus, Send a Big Middle-Finger Back at Mainstream Hip-Hop

Mark your calendars, TMT readers, because now you got something to do. Well, okay, not “something to do” but “something to buy,” and in today’s world, is there a difference? No. So mark that fucking calendar already and save some money, because now you got “something to buy” on May 5.

Definitive Jux has recently announced to me, by way of Tele-Type device, that they will be reissuing Company Flow’s (genius, genre-shattering, status-quo-altering) full-length debut Funcrusher Plus. The album was the first great hip-hop album I bought because I wanted to, not just because my older brother told me to. Originally released in that wonderful year, 1997, to widespread critical acclaim, admiration, and respect from the hip-hop community, Funcrusher Plus is “widely recognized as one of the most influential hip-hop albums EVER, shattering conventions with its musical complexity and uncompromising lyricism.” That’s a fancy way of saying that hip-hop today wouldn’t be nearly the same (or as good) if the album didn’t exist.

Company Flow, consisting of producer/MC El-P, MC Bigg Jus, and DJ Mr. Len, created a musical statement that stood in direct opposition to the hip-hop/rap stylings of the time. Company Flow did away with the last dying embers of the G-Funk era and rejected the new glitzy world that Puffy Dad was building -- instead, they opted for lo-fi, stark, minimalist beats and highly literate lyrics with intense rhyme structures. They also infused the hip-hop culture that followed in the wake of the album with a DIY aesthetic that lives on to this day. As far as I’m concerned, this album started everything that we know now as “Indie Hip-Hop” or “Backpacker Hip-Hop.”

Out of print since 2006, the newly remastered album will be available May 5 on digital, vinyl, and CD formats. The digital release will also feature rare pre-1995 tracks “Juvenile Techniques” and “Corners 94,” as well as post-Funcrusher tracks “Simple,” “DPA,” and “Simian Drugs.” The album will also be repackaged with its original artwork as done by Matt Do and graffiti legend EWOK.

Take it away, press release:

Beyond amassing legions of fans across the globe, few independent releases in recent memory have received the level of accolades and kudos from journalists, critics, and artists of all strata as this landmark album. Now a new generation of music fans will have a chance to hear what the fuss was all about.

Sirius XM Rescued from Bankruptcy; People Starting to Realize Disney Vault Not Actually Full of Money

I really should have gone as The Economy for Halloween. It would have consisted of a white T-shirt, graph, and dramatic red arrow with a zig-zag negative slope. People would have laughed, then turned away to wipe a tear.

Sirius XM was hovering on the brink of bankruptcy (TMT News), until Liberty Media, parent company of DIRECTV and what us serfs (pictured) call "a media conglomerate," stepped in with the big guns.

How big? They struck a $530 million deal, according to Wired: $280 in loans for the first phase -- $250 of which was doled out Tuesday to help Sirius XM with its immediate monetary obligations.

Put on your eye muffs if you hate business talk: The loan also includes a hefty 15% interest rate, which Sirius XM has to pay off by 2012. And Liberty Media will lap up $100 million of Sirius XM's current loans.

With even more millions to repay on the horizon, the company relished in a bit of good news, too, with its shares doubling on Tuesday. But Phase Two will consist of another $150 million loan, the interest of which I considered calculating but gave up on after I lost... interest.

Sasquatch 2009 Will Destroy All Other Music Festivals with Its Gigantic, Hairy, Superior Lineup

The moment I peeped this roster, my first thought was “SXSWho!?” The Sasquatch Music Festival, stomping into its eighth year in Seattle, WA, is taking the role of of kicking off the summer music scene very seriously with a beast (ha!) of a lineup. So, aduce me to introllow -- ahem -- allow me to introduce the complete musical lineup:

Jane's Addiction (feat. all four original members), Kings of Leon, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper & Relentless7, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Erykah Badu, The Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, TV On The Radio, Animal Collective, Silversun Pickups, Bon Iver, Santigold, Of Montreal, Explosions In The Sky, Devotchka, Peter Bjorn & John, Gogol Bordello, M. Ward, The Avett Brothers, Doves, Calexico, Grizzly Bear, M83, Girl Talk, The Gaslight Anthem, The Walkmen, Chromeo (dj set), Deadmau5, Mugison, Sun Kil Moon, Airborne Toxic Event, Blitzen Trapper, Shearwater, BLK JKS, The Wrens, Tobacco, Monotonix, King Khan & The Shrines, St. Vincent, Passion Pit, John Vanderslice, Bishop Allen, Blind Pilot, AA Bondy, Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Knux, Ra Ra Riot, The Dodos, Beach House, Arthur & Yu, The Submarines, Owl City, Viva Voce, James Pants, Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, The Builders & The Butchers, The Dutchess & The Duke, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele, Fences, School of Seven Bells, Death Vessel, Horse Feathers, Hockey, Point Juncture, WA, The Pica Beats, Loch Lomond, Vince Mira & more to come.

Oh, big fat hairy deal. How about some larfs, ladies and germs? Comedy acts include:

Zach Galifiankas, Demetri Martin, Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job, Todd Barry, Jon Benjamin, God's Pottery, People's Republic of Komedy & more.

Now, if we could somehow poach Bad Brains and P.O.S. from the Warped Tour, this fucker would be completely perfect. Someone get on that.

You can spend four sweaty, beer-soaked days in a tent for the festival's duration, March 23-25. Passes go on sale Saturday, February 28 here.

Another Victim of the Recession: Soul Haven Daptone Records Studio Broken Into, Tens of Thousands in Equipment Stolen

You want to break a music engineer's morale? Buy an MBox or just use GarageBand. You want to kneecap said engineer, too? Steal their equipment. Daptone Records in Brooklyn, made famous by The Dap-Kings that gave Amy Winehouse some semblance of a soul in "Back to Black," got the latter Sunday night, as their studio was broken into and robbed. Gabriel Roth, head of the studio, broke the news through a letter that has been posted on various outlets. The total market value based on what was stolen or damaged is almost certainly within the tens of thousands.

The break-in occurred amidst reports of increased burglaries in the Bushwick neighborhood, where the studio was located. The timing of it was awful: Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings just came out of an excellent two-night headliner over at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square on Valentine's Day weekend, and none other than Rod Stewart was expected to be tracking at the studio in the coming weeks. To make matters worse, the studio was in the process of being insured, but had not finalized the deal at the time of break-in, leaving them uninsured.

Listed below is the equipment that was definitively stolen, according to Roth. If anyone in the Bushwick neighborhood or in Brooklyn reading this sees ANY of the equipment listed below, or any high-quality microphones being hocked, please contact the local authorities. And to any engineer/producer who is living relatively comfortably still (and that's a stretch): Maybe someone can bail them out? Please?

Upon first glance we are definitely missing:

Fender Super Guitar Amp in case

Fender Deluxe Guitar Amp

A whole bunch of headphones and wires

Nydia's HP laptop computer

One Desktop MacIntosh Computer

One Purple Audio API style lunchbox with four Purple Audio Biz mic pre-amps
2 Yamaha NS10 monitors

Vintage Harmony Rocket Guitar

One steel string acoustic guitar

Martin Tenor sax in a gig bag

Technics 1200 turntable

Ion USB turntable

Teac Receiver/stereo amp

Sony dual deck CD burner/player

All of our modem/phone system stuff was ripped out and taken.

A whole bunch of condensor and dynamic microphones (I still need to figure out exactly what's missing) The power supply for my Trident console was tossed and the board was moved (probably not gently) so the status of that is still questionable.

A baldwin organ was tossed and is probably broken.

Lacie External hard drive

M. Ward Holds Out on Us, Announces Additional Hold Time Tourdates, Holds Court on Letterman Tonight, Holds the Whole World in His Hands

Listen up, MTV! I have a new idea for a TV show. It’s called Everybody Loves Matt Ward. The concept? It’s simple. We take M. Ward, acclaimed singer-songwriter and highly esteemed producer, hook him up with some of the indie and mainstream well-to-do (oh, maybe Zooey Deschanel, Lucinda Williams, and ex-Grandaddy Jason Lytle, just off the top of my head), and have him record a new album on Merge Records called Hold Time. It’ll be... oh, I don’t know exactly... some sort of bluesy-country-folk and ’50s and ’60s AM radio-inspired affair or something. Something for the Starbucks crowd, get me? We’ll have top writers and producers working on the material, don’t worry. Okay, got the back story? Good.

Then, we proceed to film the drama, the comedy, the hope, the slapstick, and the raw humanity night after night, as Ward goes around playing a cruelly (hey, this is show business!) scant amount of tourdates. Then, once we pack-in these legions of rabid coffee-shop fans of his into shows that are too few and too small and hook them with Ward’s credentials and musical credibility, we take the series to another level by extending (that’s right, EXTENDING, baby!) that tour! And now, after an initial disappointment, many more fans will find that they have a chance to catch Ward as he performs tracks from his new this “critically acclaimed album” that we’ve cooked up for him, and BAM! The crowds pack on in, and we’ve got the most popular series on cable on our hands. Sold-out gigs, emotionally and caffeine-charged fans screaming for more. Just think of those ratings.

What do you think? Still need to think about it? Okay, fine, I see you’re playing hardball here. Tell you what: I’ll even call up CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman to get him a slot on there TONIGHT, so you can see this kid for yourself. That’s how serious I am! This thing has potential, MTV; Ward’s gonna be big! Hey, I was right about that Ashlee Simpson Show, wasn’t I?

Episode Air Dates:
02.18.09 - Boston, MA - Somerville Theater
02.19.09 - New York, NY - The Apollo Theatre
02.20.09 - Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero Theatre
02.24.09 - London, UK - Bush Hall
02.25.09 - London, UK - Borderline
02.26.09 - Paris, FR - Café de la Danse
02.27.09 - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso
03.04.09 - Los Angeles, CA - Music Box at Fonda
03.05.09 - San Francisco, CA - Palace of Fine Arts
03.06.09 - Seattle, WA - Showbox At The Market
03.07.09 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
03.08.09 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
03.09.09 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
04.17.09 - Indio, CA - Coachella
04.18.09 - Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theatre
04.19.09 - Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre
04.20.09 - Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine Theater
04.22.09 - Tulsa, OK - Cain’s Ballroom
04.23.09 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
04.24.09 - Milwaukee, WIK - Pabst Theater
04.25.09 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
04.26.09 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
05.15.09 - Visalia, CA - Fox Theatre
05.16.09 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
05.17.09 - Davis, CA - Freeborn Hall
05.18.09 - Chico, CA - Senator Theatre
05.22.09 - Eugene, OR - McDonald Theatre
05.23.09 - George, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival

Thank God (or the Devil): A Proper Daniel Johnston Concert Film

Music docs give you rad backstage footage, fights, bellyhoo, and loads of concert footage, but no music film was as devastatingly candid as 2005's The Devil & Daniel Johnston, which not only framed a warts-and-all portrait of "outsider" music's most intriguing figure - it also exposed his music and prose to the film world. Cultivating an ever-growing fan base after more than a quarter century output of honest, mind-bending twee folk and steadying his life for the better, Daniel emerges victorious over his storied demons, culminating with a new DVD that serves as the ying to the Devil's yang.

Despite Daniel's crippling stage fright and unusually short setlists, The Angel and Daniel Johnston presents an 81-minute, 21 song concert film shot at London's Union Chapel in the summer of 2007. Daniel invited friends James Yorkston, Adem, and early collaborator Brett Hartenbach to join him for a cross-catalog set list. The DVD itself is getting all the high tech treatment you'd expect from a professional gig, including Dolby 5.1 opportunities, bonus rehearsal footage, interviews, and Daniel's own artwork adorning the jacket and inside booklet, penned exclusively for the film.

I don't mean to come off as too much of a sales asshole in this story, but this film is a long time coming. There is nothing quite like the intimacy and ambiance of a Daniel Johnston performance, and although nothing will compare to seeing him live, his mark on music deserves proper documentation. The Devil exposed his troubled life, The Angel exalts his gorgeous music.

  

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