Thursday, May 2nd • 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 21st• 7:30 pm
Friday, May 17th• 8:00 pm
Record Release Show!
Thursday, April 25th• 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 21st• 7:30 pm
Friday, May 17th• 8:00 pm
We’ve talked before about the mix of excitement and unease that accompanies a new release by a favorite act, and it’s a good lead-in to “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” the new single and video from David Bowie.
The song is the second Bowie has released from his new album “The Next Day,” and not only does it demonstrate that Bowie remains very much in command of his creative faculties, the video is a fascinating commentary on the relationship that we as a culture have with fame. In one way or another, most of us bring celebrities into our homes. But what happens then? They can’t not have an effect, which is the idea underpinning the video.
Bowie imagines a scenario where celebrities literally invade our space, and wreak havoc until we become them, and they become us. But what does the trade-of mean, for either side?
(For music without adverse consequences, how about the fiery blues singer Shemekia Copeland, who performs March 17 at Infinity Hall?)
Last year, a young intern for NPR, Emily White, wrote an essay that was essentially about how she never paid for music. Like everything else, it sparked a furor online as commentators both well-informed and not wrung their hands over the implications for intellectual property rights, the future of creativity and whether White was some sort of wicked she-devil bent on hoodwinking the music industry and the artists scrapping to make a living.
She had stayed largely quiet about all the fuss, until now. White today wrote an op-ed for Billboard in which she defends herself by with this gem: “I never owned any music to begin with, because music owns me.”
Nice line, but come on. Music owns me, too, but I still spend money on physical albums and downloads, and on a monthly streaming music subscription. White rationalizes her transition from “‘ownership’ to access” by writing that most of the money spent on music goes to packaging, and that she’d rather direct her money toward the people creating the music in the first place.
Fair point, and artists should be fairly compensated for their work, but now that an entire generation of listeners has come to view music as something that’s free for the taking, White sounds too optimistic a note when she writes, “I do see [future generations] paying for a way to listen to music and support artists with the fewest barriers possible.”
Among other ways she says supports artists, White attends concerts, and you should, too, be they veterans like Jefferson Starship (performing March 14 at Infinity Hall) or New Riders of the Purple Sage (March 15), or newer acts like Will Evans from the now-defunct Connecticut reggae band Barefoot Truth (March 1).
Disclaimer: Marking anniversaries of interesting or important albums doesn’t seem to me like a very useful thing to do. That said, 2013 is the 20th anniversary of some interesting and important albums, including Wu-Tang Clan’s first release and Uncle Tupelo’s last. What really struck me, though, was that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Radiohead releasing their first album, “Pablo Honey.”
That’s the album that included the single “Creep,” which was how most people first discovered Radiohead. It got radio play, for one thing, but there was also a mesmerizing video. The clip is very characteristic of ’90s alt-rock videos, with the band miming a performance of the song in a dim space cut through with stabs of light. I remember being drawn to it as a teenager, and thinking it was something different, though I didn’t get properly into Radiohead until many years later. Mainly, it’s just hard to believe it’s been two decades since that song launched Radiohead’s career.
Similarly, it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since one of the Cowboy Junkies’ best albums, “Pale Sun Crescent Moon.” They’ve been a topic of conversation before, but they’re back at Infinity Hall on March 4.
Wednesday, June 19th • 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 28th • 8:00 pm
BoDeans create a soul-stirring song cycle that directly reflects the American experience at this critical moment in our history. Their songs are played with heartfelt emotion as well as jaw-dropping skillfulness.
Sunday, March 17th• 7:30 pm
Nominated for a 2013 Grammy “Blues Album of the Year” and tagged as “Queen of the Blues,” Shemekia is more than one of the top female voices in the music industry today. She’s shared the stage with Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. She’s even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.
The Bluegrass Gospel Project
Sunday, March 31st • 2:00pm
Join us for a wonderful afternoon of bluegrass and gospel music. The Bluegrass Gospel Project’s repertoire has comfortably morphed into an eclectic mix of songs which exhibit a wide stylistic range within the acoustic tradition and showcases their stunning vocal capabilities.
My favorite album of 2012 was “Boys and Girls” by Alabama Shakes, a band I managed to see three times at last year’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas — but not, unfortunately, since then, until the group hit “Saturday Night Live” last weekend.
The first song they played, “Hold On,” has gotten a lot of attention over the past year, not least for this amazing live video performance that eschews the usual practice of lip synching to the recorded track in favor of blowing down the walls of whatever room they were playing in. (I still get chills.) The second song, “Always Alright,” lays back in the cut a little more, but singer Brittany Howard is still an electrifying presence as she steers the band through the tune.
The closest thing on the Infinity Hall calendar right now is probably Roomful of Blues, who perform March 8. So watch this a few times to get revved up for that.
Say what you want about his politics, but Bill O’Reilly’s syndicated column in Saturday’s New Haven Register shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of music in popular culture.
“While watching the Grammy awards Sunday, it occurred to me that American culture has been defined by music since the end of World War II,” O’Reilly begins. Yes, and no.
O’Reilly cites the usual suspects: Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the counterculture bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s, then disco and so on. But music was the lynchpin of American pop culture even before World War II – the 1920s weren’t called the Jazz Age for nothing.
Later in the column, he writes that rap only “went mainstream” when Elton John sang with Eminem on a Grammy telecast — in 2001, long after rappers like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. topped the Billboard 200 albums chart — which is not only wrong, but goes back to the notion of “rockism” that we had talked about a few weeks ago.
O’Reilly is right when he concludes that “cyberspace has pulled us apart” from the monoculture that in the past made certain bands or hits ubiquitous, but not for the reasons he thinks: it’s not just that technology has fragmented the musical landscape (that began happening in the alt-rock explosion in the 1990s when the underground came to the surface, and hip-hop caught on in the mainstream). Technology has, in fact, supplanted music as the defining force in American pop culture. Music is a piece of that, sure, but now it’s all about how we access the various forms of entertainment we gravitate toward.
Regardless, there’s still no substitute for seeing an act in concert, so take your pick: eclectic rock ‘n’ roll from Jim Weider’s Project Percolator (with Garth Hudson) Feb. 23, the vintage-style country of Roy Clark on Feb. 24, folk from Jonathan Edwards March 2 or even comedy from Vinny Vella March 3.