December 1, 2010

"Old 97's" New Sound

Posted: 04:35 PM ET

That sound you hear creeping up the Billboard charts- the combination of The Clash’s white riotous punk with Steve Earle’s swaggering Texas stomp- is coming to a town near you.

The Old 97's – favorite sons of Dallas, TX- make music for the cowboy boot-wearing, purple-haired, coffee house patronizing, flannel-donning, soccer parent in all of us. In other words, they are the everyman’s band. And not just because they are regular, nice guys.

Their music is laden with hooks; it’s indelibly catchy, and it’s some serious rock & roll. It’s the kind of music that would sound just as good in a desolate bar as it would on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (the latter proven just a couple of weeks ago). Their latest album The Grande Theatre, Volume One was released earlier this fall (Volume Two will be out next Spring) to critical acclaim and the band’s highest chart position to date—after 18 years as a band. Partly responsible for such accolades is a song called “Champaign, Illinois” – the rousing rave-up at the center of the new album. Old 97's singer/songwriter Rhett Miller and bassist Murry Hammond sat down with LKL and we began by asking them about the curious lyric in the aforementioned hit song.

LKL: So is it better to end up in Heaven or Champaign, Illinois?

Rhett Miller: I actually did this whole thing on twitter yesterday because we played it on Leno last night and I’ve gotten some grief about “Champaign, Illinois” from residents of the city and the story behind it is this: It was a late night drive, I was the only one awake, I had the melody to a Dylan song “Desolation Row” stuck in my head, so I rewrote lyrics for it to keep myself awake. When I was writing it I had Champaign, Illinois pictured in my head as this quintessential college town. To me- as someone who only went to college for one semester and dropped out because I thought of it more as just killing time, but I didn’t have time to kill because I wanted to go play music and be in a rock band- Champaign isn’t so much meant to be hell but more purgatory. It’s where you go when you are just waiting around for something to happen.

Murry Hammond: It’s an anthem for townies all across the nation.

Miller: We love townies and we actually love Champaign, Illinois. When people get upset about it, I’m just like “Gosh there is no hate in that song!”

Hammond: It’s a winky emoticon. To me that song is about touring. It’s about touring and no town is better or worse than anything else, but at one point towns become just days on a calendar in a way. That’s kinda how that song goes.

LKL: Rhett, the genesis for this album was in Europe, correct?

Miller: I spent a month in Scandinavia opening up for the great Steve Earle, and between being inspired by him because he is just a wealth of information and he is also just a classic Texan song writer… and also being inspired by the locals. We had never really gotten to go to Europe. We have pretty much been an American band our entire career for better or worse– I know for worse because I definitely wish we would have gone to Europe earlier…

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Filed under: Music • Old 97's

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June 29, 2010

Chris Brown's MJ Tribute Was 'Spectacular,' Jermaine Jackson Says

Posted: 05:20 PM ET

by Gil Kaufman

Chris Brown wasn't the only one getting misty-eyed at Sunday night's BET Awards during his tribute to Michael Jackson. The King of Pop's older brother, Jermaine, told "Extra" that he was also overcome with emotion during the dance routine, in which Brown paid homage to some of MJ's most famous moves and then attempted to sing "Man in the Mirror" before being overcome with emotion and weeping onstage.

"To see [Chris'] performance, it was very emotional for me, because it was an acceptance from his fans from what has happened to him and also paying tribute to my brother," Jermaine said. "It was just a spectacular moment."

Fans and critics have been split on the performance, which some saw as the bursting of an emotional dam for the singer, making his first major public appearance since he pleaded guilty to felony assault in his assault of former girlfriend Rihanna last June. Others speculated that Brown may have manufactured the tears to gain sympathy from fans who abandoned him in the wake of the Rihanna attack.


Filed under: Chris Brown • Michael Jackson • Music

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June 10, 2010

Susan Boyle expected to sing for the Pope

Posted: 09:45 AM ET


LONDON (Reuters) – Singing sensation Susan Boyle is expected to perform for Pope Benedict during his visit to Britain, the Scottish church said on Thursday.

The Scottish spinster sprang to world prominence last year after winning a standing ovation on TV's "Britain's Got Talent" and her performance became an overnight internet hit.

Tens of millions logged on to YouTube to hear her belt out "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables," and since then she has gone on to top charts around the world.

She has also appeared on U.S. chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.

Now the 49-year-old former church worker, who once joked she had never been kissed, is in talks with the Roman Catholic Church to perform at a public mass to be held in Glasgow during the Pope's September visit.

"Negotiations are still under way but we expect Susan Boyle to perform as part of the Papal Mass at Bellahouston Park," said a spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of Scotland.


Filed under: Music • Susan Boyle

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May 31, 2010

Céline Dion Is Pregnant – with Twins!

Posted: 09:49 AM ET

by Marisa Laudadio

Céline Dion's dream to expand her family has come true.

The singer, 42, is pregnant with twins after undergoing her sixth in-vitro fertilization attempt and turning to acupuncture to improve her chances of a pregnancy, her rep Kim Jakwerth confirms.

Dion, mom to 9-year-old son René-Charles, is 14 weeks along. She will find out the gender of the twins next month.

"We're ecstatic," her husband/manager René Angelil tells PEOPLE. "Celine is just hoping for a healthy pregnancy. She was hoping for one baby and the news that we are having two is a double blessing."

Filed under: Celebrity News • Celine Dion • Music

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May 26, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres starts record label

Posted: 11:34 AM ET

by Tim Nudd

The talk-show host, 52, who's just wrapping up her first season as an American Idol judge, has now started her own record label – inspired by 12-year-old phenom Greyson Chance, whom she discovered and has now signed as her first artist.

"Greyson ... inspired me to start a record label called eleveneleven. He is my first artist, and we are making a record together," DeGeneres says.

Chance, just 12 years old, has rocketed to fame thanks to his performance of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi," posted to YouTube, from a talent show in his Oklahoma hometown. DeGeneres happened upon the clip when it had about 10,000 views and invited him on her show earlier this month. The video, including reposts, now has more than 30 million views.

Returning to The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, Chance says he's overwhelmed by what's happened. "It's crazy thinking about 30 million people," he says. "It just makes me happy. It really just hasn't sunken in yet. It has been two weeks, and it still hasn't sunken in yet. It's awesome."


Filed under: Ellen DeGeneres • Entertainment • Music

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May 19, 2010

ICYMI: Mick Jagger

Posted: 09:26 AM ET
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May 10, 2010

Jackson, Franklin among Apollo's Walk of Fame in NY

Posted: 02:43 PM ET

Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater is starting a walk of fame on 125th Street.Plaques for Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald are being installed in the inaugural ceremony.

Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin will be honored in June.

The walk will honor legendary performers with close ties to the institution.

Each year at the non-profit Theater's Spring Gala Benefit, legendary musicians, artists, and entertainers whose path to fame included the Apollo are inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.


Filed under: Celebrity News • Michael Jackson • Music

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April 28, 2010

Peter, Paul and Mary's Last Soaring Song

Posted: 02:58 PM ET


By Quinn Brown
LKL Producer

It's hard to understate the importance and impact of folk music.  What started with Woody Guthrie and then was popularized by New York's Greenwich Village scene in the ‘60’s (and its luminaries including Pete Seeger, Karen Dalton, and Bob Dylan), echoes to this day with any artist that picks up an instrument and sings something besides "baby, please don't go."

Folk music is defiant, topical, rousing, poetic.  Its influence reached the likes of Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Public Enemy, Iggy Pop, Joni Mitchell, Bono, and countless others.

As pervasive as the music is, it may never have reached the masses if not for Peter Yarrow, Noel "Paul" Stookey and Mary Travers - Peter, Paul and Mary.  For those who could not handle the lo-fi recordings of Guthrie or the aural snarl of Dylan, the folk trio was more than just palatable.  Their three-part harmony was a symphony of voice (and a lone acoustic guitar).  And the masses took notice.

So it is fitting that the last testament of the folk legends ("Where Have All the Flowers Gone", "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Leaving on a Jet Plane") is Peter, Paul and Mary with Symphony Orchestra:  The Prague Sessions (Rhino Records).  Over their five-decade career, the group performed with an orchestra around 30 times and, as Yarrow says, "Those were special to Mary.  She had a strong feeling about those concerts."

Mary Travers passed away September 16, 2009 due to complications from chemotherapy for treatment of leukemia.  The trio and longtime collaborator Robert DeCormier spent the final years of Travers' life compiling 14 live stage performances and enlisting the Czech Symphony orchestra to bring her final dream to fruition.  The result is a record of soaring sounds– voices and strings that swell to the point where the songs aren't folk so much as they are hymns.  "This feels like the last page of the photo album.  It's honoring Mary and the importance of the music we shared," says Stookey.

Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey sat down with CNN to discuss the symphony project, Mary Travers' impact on their lives and her final days, and performing as a duo.

LKL Blog: The origins of the new album went back many years?

Peter: It was a part of our history as an extension. There was a part of our history that had not been shared. It was very special to Mary and to all of us because there was a certain kind of musical exhilaration and passion in our performances when we would perform with the symphony orchestra. These arrangements, which were done by Bob DeCormier, were the closest to it–with my objective mind making the comparison–like Puccini wrote the score. It's just characterization between the orchestra and the singers. And that gives you another sense of the dimension and the passion because it’s really well written. If it's not, it's really wrong because with folk music it has to be really right for it to work in the context with being united as you sing.

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Filed under: Entertainment • LKL Web Exclusive • Music • Paul and Mary

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April 27, 2010

An all-Britney 'Glee' episode?

Posted: 01:06 PM ET

by Tim Stack

Good news for Britney Spears and Glee fans: series creator Ryan Murphy tells EW that an all-Britney episode of the hit Fox musical, an idea floated by Spears’ manager via twitter on April 21 after Tuesday’s all-Madonna Glee, is actually being considered.

Says Murphy, “I’m interested in the Britney Spears idea. I’ve always loved her. I’m entertaining it. I think young kids would like that.” Murphy also says that he’s contemplating doing similar hour tributes to Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, and, even, Courtney Love! “I actually ran into Courtney Love the other day and talked to her,” says Murphy.

“She’s interested. I would love to have the kids do a Courtney Love episode one day.” But he stresses that with all of these artists it really all comes down to the music and how it fits in the Glee universe. “The key is the songs in the catalogue have to have a certain degree of theatricality,” says Murphy.

What Britney songs do you want to appear on Glee?


Filed under: Britney Spears • Music • Television

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April 26, 2010

Source: Bret Michaels was in excruciating pain

Posted: 10:44 AM ET


As Bret Michaels continues to be watched closely by his doctors, a source reveals the rocker's excruciating moments before he was taken to the emergency room.

According to the source, Michaels, 47, said the headache that prompted him to call for an ambulance felt "like [getting] hit in the head with a baseball bat over and over again."

Often referred to by doctors as a "thunderclap headache" because of the intensity and suddenness of the pain, such headaches are a tell-tale symptom of the kind of brain hemorrhage that Michaels suffered.

The source close to the situation adds, "Bret is still in ICU. He still has the headache and is heavily sedated."


Filed under: CNN • Entertainment • Music

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