Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News and Notes

The ways in which traditional rock and roll (that used to be an oxymoron) permeates the mainstreams of our culture continue to intrigue me.  Take for example, the Washington Ballet company which recently presented two works. The first was Trey McIntyre's "High Lonesome," a family portrait using the music of Beck.  In the words of The Washington Post's reviewer Sarah Hazlack, McIntyre  is a hip choreographer "'s clear that the company is comfortable with his uber-contemporary style." The second was Christopher Bruce's "Rooster," which she described as a moody tribute to The Rolling Stones.  She lamented that "Bruce's choreography seemed to call for a lyrical quality that was largely absent.  Mick Jagger's mournful vocals in Ruby Tuesday begged for a more tender, woeful treatment, and the hypnotic "Paint it Black" needed a dash of brooding anguish." The critic reports other major dance companies have presented works using songs by George Harrison, U2 and Radiohead.  Certainly a different take on Dance Music.

Record Producer Joe Boyd (Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, REM) has come up with a new twist on how to give a memoir legs....take it on tour. According to a March 9 profile in The Washington Post, he has teamed up with Robyn Hitchcock  to combine reminisces from his book, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, with reprises of songs from the glory days when he produced and managed London's UFO Club.

Heard an interview on Bob Edwards radio show(XM) from another aging songster who has written a memoir.   Charles Fox, who no doubt made a bundle doing theme music for such TV series as Wide World of Sports, Monday Night Football and Happy Days as well as 100 film scores, was also a pretty fair music composer. His book is titled, Killing Me Softly, after the song he co-composed, Killing Me Softly With His Song for Lori Lieberman which became a monster hit for Roberta Flack. He is also credited for the Jim Croce hit, I Got A Name.

Speaking of Roberta Flack, it was touching to see footage of her playing at a bar on Capitol Hill as a young woman during a special that WETA did a few years back on Washington in the 1960's. Another interesting clip was of The Beatles arriving at Union Station in Washington before their first concert in the U.S., the day after the Ed Sullivan show.  When Jimi Hendrix played at the Ambassador Theater in DC,  two British Groups were playing at DAR Constitution Hall.
Herman's Hermits were the headliners so the opening act, The Who, got done early enough for Peter Townshend to catch Jimi's second set.

One other media note. Happened across a radio program about music the other weekend.  Sound Opinons, produced out of  WBEZ in Chicago does a mix of R&R history and new reviews. Our local NPR outlet has buried it on an HD channel but previewed the  show one Sunday night on the regular frequency(they did an interesting history of Elektra Records).
Two former newspaper rock critics, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot have been doing this for some years on commercial and public radio stations. I plan to check them out at

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