Category Archives: News

Rebecca Ferguson: I’ll perform at inauguration if I can sing “Strange Fruit”

It’s a New Year.

The U.S. presidential inauguration nears and the line of participants continues to narrow.

British singer Rebecca Ferguson has taken her invitation a step further and today posted she would “graciously accept” Trump’s request to perform at the Jan. 20 inauguration, but only if she can perform “Strange Fruit.”


“Strange Fruit” is a poem by Abel Meeropol in 1937 and was performed by Billie Holiday in 1939. The melancholy song protests the lynchings of black people by whites and the scourge of racism in America, which is ongoing.

Holiday’s version is haunting, disturbing and explicit. The uneven melody and pointed lyrics, of stinking bodies hanging in the trees “for the wind to suck” are among the most brutal lyrics in American music.

“Pastoral scene of the gallant South/the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth/scent of magnolias, clean and fresh/then the sudden smell of burning flesh” reads part of the song.

It’s been covered numerous times over the years. Nina Simone’s performance  gives the song a wrenched elegance. Jeff Buckley’s acoustic version wanders almost aimlessly, and wallows in the melody. But Holiday’s song grips the hardest and doesn’t let go.

There’s a pretty good chance Ferguson won’t get the chance to perform the song in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, but if her statement generates renewed discussion in the song and its explicit ties to America’s dark history, then she’s done her job.


Abel Meeropol was inspired by this image, of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abe Smith, to write “Strange Fruit.” (AP)


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Filed under American history, Billie Holiday, Blues, Jeff Buckley, New Music, News, Nina Simone, Poetry, Protest music

York High violinist tours with Ballroom Thieves and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra

A teen violinist from York will soon hit the road with a youth orchestra as part of a tour with the folk band The Ballroom Thieves.The Ballroom Thieves and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, a group of about 25 students ages 12-18, are joining forces on a national tour, the first of its kind.“No national touring band has ever taken a youth orchestra out on tour, so this is a first for everyone. They have joined us for a couple songs, but we’ve never done a full set and a full tour, so it

Source: York High violinist tours with Ballroom Thieves and MYRO

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Filed under Classical, Folk, Folk Rock, Indie folk, Local music, My work with Edge Magazine, News

Music world stops as Eagles of Death Metal crew member among 129 killed in Paris attacks

The terrorist attacks Friday in Paris that has killed at least 129 and injured more than 350 hit the music world hard as well. The band Eagles of Death Metal, which was performing at the Bataclan venue in Paris on Friday night, was onstage when shots rang out. People in the concert hall were held hostage by the gunmen, according to police. When the siege was over, at least 87 lay dead.

Early reports on social media contradicted whether band members had escaped the attack uninjured. Hours after the massacre ended, the band was reported safe.

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But it was reported Saturday that a member of the EDM crew, merch manager Nick Alexander, 36, was killed in the attack at the Bataclan.

EDM Sweet_natured_Nick_Alexander

According to a story by the Telegraph, a former girlfriend of Alexander, Helen Jane Wilson, was with Alexander during the shooting, and was injured in both legs. She attempted mouth to mouth resuscitation on Alexander.

“I held him in my arms and told him I loved him. He was the love of my life,” said Wilson. For more on those details, read the Telegraph’s story.

Polina Buckley, Alexander’s girlfriend, posted this on Saturday:

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Eagles of Death Metal have canceled the rest of their European tour and are heading back to the U.S. The Deftones, which also had shows scheduled at the Bataclan, are also heading back to the States.

As news of the attack spread around the world, other bands have scrapped European tour dates.

Foo Fighters, who have played with Eagles of Death Metal in the past, released a statement after canceling their shows:

“It is with profound sadness and heartfelt concern for everyone in Paris that we have been forced to announce the cancellation of the rest of our tour,” Foo Fighters wrote in a statement. “In light of this senseless violence, the closing of borders, and international mourning, we can’t continue right now. There is no other way to say it. This is crazy and it sucks. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was hurt or who lost a loved one.”

U2 was scheduled to film a live concert in Paris for an HBO Special on Saturday, but canceled that as well as a Sunday show. According to a statement Friday on their website:

“As a result of the ongoing state of emergency across France, the U2 Paris concert scheduled for 14th November will not be going ahead as planned. U2 and Live Nation, along with HBO who were due to live broadcast the Saturday concert, are fully resolved to go ahead with this show at an appropriate time.”
“We watched in disbelief and shock at the unfolding events in Paris and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families across the city tonight. We are devastated at the loss of life at the Eagles of Death Metal concert and our thoughts and prayers are with the band and their fans. And we hope and pray that all of our fans in Paris are safe.”
British duo Ultimate Painting was also scheduled to play a set at La Maroquinerie in Paris, but canceled their show.
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Coldplay was scheduled to livestream their show in Los Angeles on Friday, but scrapped those plans. Instead, the band held a moment of silence before playing an acoustic version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Coldplay did play a short set for fans who were already heading to the show at the Belasco Theatre.

“Tonight’s live stream for TIDAL & KROQ has been postponed out of respect for the terrible events in Paris. We send our love and prayers to the people of Paris.”

France is in the midst of three days of mourning. Check back for more details and updates.

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Filed under Garage Punk, Garage rock, News, VIdeos

Darlings bid adieu; share “I Love You Too” video

Brooklyn indie quartet Darlings have called it quits.

 An email today from Wild Canary Records states:

“Darlings release a new video 🙂 but are only playing one more show ever 😦 “
The email goes on to say that though the band is breaking up, members remain friends.
Darlings’ last show will be at Shea Stadium on Saturday, playing with Flower Girl, CVS At Night and Lightning Bug.
Over eight years, Darlings put out three albums and an EP. Their most recent release, Feel Better, was released in January.
Today Darlings released what may be their last video, for “I Love You Too,” which can be viewed here or below:

No specific reason was given for the band’s breakup, but if they are splitting on good terms, maybe some day they’ll return.
(Through an email inquiry this afternoon, a representative from Wild Canary Records had this to say:
“All good things must come to an end! They’re focusing on other things right now and schedules were getting hectic.”)

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Filed under Indie pop, Indie Rock, News, VIdeos

Neil Young addresses GMO labeling, “media trolls” in latest statement

Rock musician Neil Young issued a longer statement today after a statement June 17 regarding Donald Trump’s use of Young’s song “Rockin’ In the Free World,” during Trump’s announcement he was running for president.

Young also set out to clarify a photo that circulated yesterday in various media outlets in conjunction with the statement.

In this much lengthier statement, Young doesn’t mention Trump’s name, and also doesn’t mention Bernie Sanders, the presidential candidate he appeared to endorse yesterday. He did mention Vermont today, though, and its decision to allow GMO-labeling.

Neil-Young bwAccording to the Associated Press, Vermont is first in the nation to pass a law that requires food which contains genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such. The story also adds that companies could be fined up to $1,000 a day for each unlabeled item.

Young also mentions his latest album The Monsanto Years, in which he says he aims to bring to light the damage done by “self-serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls.”

“Freedom of choice is meaningless without knowledge,” he says. Young’s statement ends with a verse from “Rockin’ In the Free World.”

The full text is below:

Yesterday my song “Rockin’ in the Free World” was used in an announcement for a U.S. presidential candidate without my permission.

A picture of me with this candidate was also circulated in conjunction with this announcement but It was a photograph taken during a meeting when I was trying to raise funds for Pono, my online high resolution music service.

Music is a universal language. So I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs.

But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate – I would have said no.

I am Canadian and I don’t vote in the United States, but more importantly I don’t like the current political system in the USA and some other countries. Increasingly Democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. The money needed to run for office, the money spent on lobbying by special interests, the ever increasing economic disparity and the well-funded legislative decisions all favor corporate interests over the peoples.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is proof of this corruption, as well as the proposed trade deals, which would further compromise our rights.

These Corporations were originally created to serve us, but if we don’t appropriately prioritize they will destroy us. Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feelings or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing — the bottom line.

I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power. When I speak out on corporations hurting the common man or the environment or other species, I expect a well-financed disinformation campaign to be aimed my way.

Such is the case with the reaction to my new album The Monsanto Years, which covers many of these issues. I support those bringing these issues to light and those who fight for their rights like Freedom of Choice.

But Freedom of Choice is meaningless without knowledge.

That’s why it’s crucial we all get engaged and get informed.

That’s why GMO labeling matters. Mothers need to know what they are feeding their children. They need freedom to make educated choices at the market. When the people have voted for labeling, as they have in Vermont, they need our support when they are fighting these corporate interests trying to reverse the laws they have voted for and passed in the democratic process.

I do not trust self-serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls. I do not trust politicians who are taking millions from those corporations either. I trust people. So I make my music for people not for candidates.

Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.

– Neil Young

Take a listen to the song, via YouTube:

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Neil Young to Donald Trump: My music’s not free to you

Young and Trump

Neil Young and the Donald in happier days. Neil Young on June 18 took umbrage with the use of this photo with regards to Young’s statement that Trump was not authorized to use “Rockin In the Free World” during his announcement he was running for president. According to Young’s statement June 18: “A picture of me with this candidate was also circulated in conjunction with this announcement but It was a photograph taken during a meeting when I was trying to raise funds for Pono, my online high resolution music service.”

Neil Young issued a statement tonight after Donald Trump used a portion of his song “Rockin’ In the Free World” when Trump announced he was running for president today in New York City.

Young also announced his preference for president of the United States, although he’s a Canadian.

Here’s the official statement from Lookout Management:

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use “Rockin’ In the Free World” in his presidential candidacy announcement.  Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”


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Action Bronson show at NXNE canceled

Amid a petition, North By Northeast festival on Friday announced Action Bronson’s performance in Toronto has been canceled.

According to the press release, “a significant” number of Toronto residents have objected to Action Bronson’s show at Yonge Dundas Square. In a story in Pitchfork, a petition has been signed by about 40,000 people who object to Action Bronson’s music. The petition claims his music “glorifies gang-raping and murdering children.”

The full press release is below:

We at Northby Northeast (NXNE) are very proud of our 20-plus-years relationship with the people of the City of Toronto. And for almost 10 years we’’ve shared Yonge-Dundas Square with you to present free, all-ages shows open to the public. YDS is the city’’s space and as such we are obliged to listen to how the city and community want it used. A significant number of Torontonians have indicated their desire to have Action Bronson not perform at the Square. As annual guests in this space we feel we must accede to the strong wishes of the community and honour their input.

As a result, we will not be presenting Action Bronson at Yonge-Dundas Square but, hopefully we will still be presenting Action Bronson as part of Northby. We remain fundamentally committed to presenting this artist on a Toronto stage. We are not moving the Action show because we believe in censoring him or any other artists. In fact, we find the limiting of artistic expression distasteful. When artistic expression is limited, freedom and the evolution of ideas is often the casualty.

Hopefully, Action Bronson will accept our invitation to play at another, ticketed venue in the city so the public can decide for themselves if his work has merit. We booked Bronson, in part, because of his latest excellent disc, Mr. Wonderful.

We hope that this series of events does not foster some type of artistic chill in Toronto and its public spaces. Yonge-Dundas Square must remain a dynamic place where many viewpoints are expressed not just culturally but also at political events and rallies staged there.

We are heartened by the community engagement that has been taking place around this YDS show. This debate continues an important conversation about violence against women and its depiction in art and culture that is long overdue. We salute all of those who fight this battle and we would encourage everyone who has signed the petition or been engaged by this conversation to commit themselves personally to continuing the fight against violence against women. We at Northby pledge to continue being part of this discussion with the intent to help act as agents of change.


The Directors of North by Northeast

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Filed under Festivals, News

Sleater-Kinney’s “No Cities To Love” streaming on NPR tonight at midnight

sleater kinney

Forget the Golden Globes — this is bigger news.

Sleater-Kinney‘s new release “No Cities To Love” will start streaming tonight on NPR Music around midnight. according to a press release from the band, “we say “around” because we don’t know exactly when it will go live.”

The band says “No Cities To Love” will stream until the album drops Jan. 20. Their tour starts next month.

Check out their story in the New York Times, “Sleater-Kinney’s Secret Basement Sessions.”

Sleater-Kinney tour dates:

02-08-15 Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory – Spokane (SOLD OUT)
02-09-15 Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory – Boise ( TICKETS )
02-10-15 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot ( TICKETS )
02-12-15 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater (SOLD OUT)
02-13-15 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown (SOLD OUT)
02-14-15 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue (SOLD OUT)
02-15-15 Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater ( TICKETS )
02-17-15 Chicago, IL @ Riviera (SOLD OUT)
02-22-15 Boston, MA @ House of Blues (SOLD OUT)
02-24-15 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club (SOLD OUT)
02-25-15 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club (SOLD OUT)
02-26-15 New York, NY @ Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT)
02-27-15 New York, NY @ Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT)
02-28-15 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer (SOLD OUT)
03-01-15 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE (SOLD OUT)
03-02-15 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy ( TICKETS )
03-18-15 Berlin, Germany @ Postbahnhof ( TICKETS )
03-19-15 Amsterdam, The Netherlands @ Paradiso ( TICKETS )
03-20-15 Paris, France @ Cigale ( TICKETS )
03-21-15 Antwerp, Belgium @ Trix ( TICKETS )
03-23-15 London, UK @ Roundhouse (SOLD OUT)
03-24-15 Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall ( TICKETS )
03-25-15 Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC ( TICKETS )
03-26-15 Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street ( TICKETS )
04-16-15 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater ( TICKETS )
04-17-15 Austin, TX @ Stubbs ( TICKETS )
04-18-15 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live ( TICKETS )
04-19-15 New Orleans, LA @ The Civic Theatre ( TICKETS )
04-21-15 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle ( TICKETS )
04-22-15 Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz ( TICKETS )
04-23-15 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works ( TICKETS )
04-24-15 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works ( TICKETS )
04-25-15 Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note ( TICKETS )
04-26-15 Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater ( TICKETS )
04-28-15 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater ( TICKETS )
04-29-15 Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee Theatre ( TICKETS )
05-01-15 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium ( TICKETS )
05-02-15 San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic (SOLD OUT)
05-03-15 San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic ( TICKETS )
05-05-15 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom (SOLD OUT)
05-06-15 Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom ( TICKETS )
05-07-15 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (SOLD OUT)
05-08-15 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (SOLD OUT)
05-09-15 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (SOLD OUT)

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Filed under Indie, New Music, News, Punk

Happy 2015: West, McCartney drop “Only One”

West and McCartney are officially recording

West and McCartney are officially recording

Yes, more Kanye West news, but this time it’s serious.

West, quelling all earlier rumours back in August, has officially teamed up with Paul McCartney for the song “Only One”, a tribute to West’s daughter North. It was written from the perspective of West’s mom, Dr. Donda West.

“You’re still my chosen one; remember who you are,” West sings as McCartney’s brutally-honest keys keep the tune ultra-smooth.

McCartney’s work is some of his most beautiful since his Beatles days — the ending notes on “Only One” are powerful and threaten to overshadow the rest of the tune.

While there’s no word on how much the two have recorded together, according to a press release detailed on The Verge, the song is “the first publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists.” According to the story, the two worked in LA last year through “stream-of-consciousness” riffing.

Hey, at least their first single wasn’t a song called “Piss On My Grave,” said to be the title of another McCartney/West collaboration. A portion of that song was spilled online last summer.

Check out the video here, and listen to the song at

All in all, no better way to ring in 2015 then this.

West and North

West and North


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Foxygen, Flaming Lips to ring in 2015 together

Foxygen, "...And Star Power" is out now

Foxygen, “…And Star Power” is out now

Foxygen and its nine-piece Star Power band is scheduled to close out 2014, as well as ring in the new year with Flaming Lips and Tobias Jesso Jr. in California.

Foxygen has been busy this year taking the band on tour promoting the fantastic genre-bending new album “…And Star Power,” out on Jagjaguwar.

Here’s their tour dates:

Tue. Dec. 30 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre w/ The Flaming Lips

Wed. Dec. 31 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre w/ The Flaming Lips

Fri. Jan. 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre w/ Tobias Jesso Jr. – SOLD OUT

Sat. Jan. 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre w/ Tobias Jesso Jr. – ON SALE 11/28

Catch the video for Foxygen’s Frampton-esque “Coulda Been My Love” and listen to the psychedelic and beautiful “Cosmic Vibrations.”

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Filed under News, Tour Dates