Archive for February, 2009

in performance: nickelback/seether/saving abel

chad kroeger

chad kroeger of nickelback last night at rupp arena. photo by lexington herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

Just before Nickelback launched last night into If Everyone Cared, a power ballad about change brought about not by the masses but by small groups and even solitary figures, lead singer Chad Kroeger gave thanks to Lexington medical crews that came to the swift aid of a crew member injured during the assembly of the band’s massive stage at Rupp Arena.

Then as the song unfolded, a huge video screen offered snapshots of the modern day heroes the lyrics envisioned – Nelson Mandela, Bono, the founders of Amnesty International – before finishing with a quote by Margaret Mead that outlined how the power of change doesn’t equate to a power of numbers.

OK. Hold the phone. We’re talking Nickelback, right? The same Canadian band that opened its hot-wired Rupp concert last night with a thick slab of electric raunch titled Something in Your Mouth? Evoking Margaret Mead? I might as well close up shop now, people. I have officially seen everything.

Such was the sense of surprise that dominated this three act bill – rounded out by the similarly tough knuckled Seether and Saving Abel. Like Nickelback, those bands seemed to have their hearts and heads in post grunge rock that bordered on metal. Yet the pop sensibilities were on generous display for the entire concert.

First, let us point out one welcome contradiction in the humanitarian heart Nickelback briefly revealed last night. The band may have chosen to spotlight a tune that empowered change brought on by modest size groups. But the numbers were clearly on the band’s side at Rupp.

The attendance for last night’s performance: a whopping 17,000. In Rupp Arena terms, ‘dems what you call Kenny Chesney numbers.  And what a thrill it was to not only witness size a crowd of that size deliriously feeding off the energy of three bands but to find those acts obviously stunned by the enthusiasm being tossed their way. In short, it was a safe bet no one – not Rupp officials, not the band and certainly not me – ever expected Nickelback to pack the place.

As for the music, Kroeger and company succeeded in overcoming what may the chief criticism of the band’s music: that it all sounds the same. Last night, Nickelback divided its song catalogue to three categories. There were the metal-framed rockers of eternal adolescence (Figured You Out), the power ballads (Fly Away) and slices of pure pop that seemed to make up the bulk of the show, from the almost country-esque (well, modern country-esque) Photograph to a stuttering, electro-savvy single called Gotta Be Somebody that sounded like ‘80s-era ZZ Top.

All of this was set into motion on a stage that spit flames and fireworks, boasted mini light pods that bounced up and down from the stage ceiling like glowing orbs and a catwalk that led to a smaller second stage in the middle of the arena floor. Through it all, Kroger credibly played the role of a host that was enjoying the songs and stage tricks as much as the audience.

“You having fun?” he asked the crowd late in the program. “I’m having a (expletive) blast.”

If anything, South Africa’s Seether was an even sharper sounding unit. Maybe it was because all the bells and whistles of the Nickelback stage weren’t at its disposal. Maybe when compared to the Hollywood-friendly profile of Kroeger, Seether singer Shaun Morgan looked like a professional wrestler. Regardless, the band’s no-frills and thoroughly unglamorous 45 minute set was refreshingly generous and, at times, ingenious in the pop turf it toughed up.

There was, for instance, the wheezy funk that thundered under Fake It and the anthemic arena rock charge that ignited Rise Above This. Seether also sported an expert sense of humor as well with Morgan crammng exhausted and cynical Valentine’s Day sentiments into a cover of Careless Whisper that transformed the early ‘80s Wham! hit into a jagged, electric dirge.

The show opening Saving Abel boasted the evening’s best set of lungs in singer Jared Weeks. Too bad they were also exercised between songs in babbling that bordered on audience pandering.

Though more single-minded in stylistic intent than the headlining bands, Saving Abel’s tight guitar drive still yielded songs (New Tattoo and Out of My Face) that set the pace for the pop-fueled angst that would surface in abundance.

RIM ditches keyboard for new Curve

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) November 17, 2011 India, Nov. 17 — Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion (RIM) is adding two new devices to its BlackBerry OS 7 portfolio – and they should arrive just in time for the holiday shopping season. blackberry protect login

The BlackBerry Bold 9790 and the Curve 9380 fit snugly into RIM’s existing BlackBerry lineup with their signature looks and compact form factors.

The Bold 9790 has been given a curvier makeover with an updated QWERTY keyboard and a thinner profile. It will replace the year-old BlackBerry Bold 9780 and offer NFC support, a 5MP auto-focus camera, voice-activated Universal Search, Documents to Go for mobile, and run on RIM’s latest operating system.

The Curve 9380 is the first device in RIM’s Curve range to feature a large touch screen (and no QWERTY keyboard). The lower-end smartphone sports a 3.2″ (360 x 480) display, a 5MP camera and support for NFC and Augmented Reality. It offers social networking-enhanced features such as the Social Feeds application, BBM Music and BlackBerry Messenger and will soon enable users to wirelessly pay for goods and services using MasterCard PayPass. this web site blackberry protect login

Both devices will have BlackBerry Protect to back up files, BlackBerry Balance to manage work and personal profiles, and RIM’s new mobile web browser.

While RIM seems convinced that incremental upgrades to its existing smartphone lines are enough to keep consumers coming back for more, mobile developers are losing interest in the platform. It’s a trend that should be worrisome for both RIM and BlackBerry owners.

A November 14 study by Appcelerator and IDC reveals that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform has “decisively moved ahead of RIM’s BlackBerry OS” to become the third most popular mobile operating system for mobile developers behind both iOS and Android.

RIM hasn’t announced specific release dates and pricing for the handsets but mentions they should be available in selected regions around the world before the end of November.

You can sign up to find out when the devices will be available at your nearest retailer by visiting:

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at

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poor nickelback


nickelback: ryan peake, mike kroeger, chad kroeger and daniel adair. the band performs tonight at rupp arena.

Let us pity poor Nickelback. Has there ever been an arena rock sensation more maligned by the press that has gone on to chart one top selling album after another? Perhaps. But in the world of melodic Canadian post grunge rock, singer Chad Kroeger and pals are unequalled in terms of the flack they get from critics and the unrelenting devotion shown to them by fans.

Here, strictly for humor’s sake, are some of the more extreme reviews of Nickelback’s new, Robert “Mutt” Lange-produced Dark Horse album:

+ “Nickelback are a gnarled, vulgar band reveling in their ignorance of the very notion of taste, lacking either the smarts or savvy to wallow in bad taste so they just get ugly, knocking out knuckle-dragging riffs that seem rarefied in comparison to their thick, boneheaded words.” (

+ “The ballads, with the exception of the cheeky This Afternoon, define generic: glossy, hollow and insipid. The Skid Row-ish tale of a life wasted is a waste of four minutes you’ll never get back. (Boston Herald)

+ (Kroeger) sings like it hurts. Perhaps pitting his effortful wheeze against his band’s pub rock riffage is harder than it sounds. Alternately, despite having made it his life’s work to celebrate idiocy, maybe he is actually embarrassed.” (The Guardian).

How does Nickelback answer the love? For starters, with bragging rights to having sold 26 million records worldwide before Dark Horse ever got out of the starting gate. Then came Dark Horse‘s initial radio hit, the typically fist pumping Top 20 rocker Gotta Be Somebody and a Top 10 debut in November for the album itself. Three months later, Dark Horse sits at No. 6.

More euphoric replies will undoubtedly blast out of Rupp Arena tonight when Nickelback returns to town. The band made its Lexington debut there in 2001 as an opening act for 3 Doors Down. The concert took place the day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

A considerably bigger deal today thanks to subsequent radio hits like How You Remind Me, Too Bad and the grab-bag of singles packed into 2005’s All the Right Reasons album, Nickelback is set to make Rupp its own with its first headlining concert at the arena. Words, as least those slung from reviews, will never hurt these guys.

The South African rock troupe Seether, which has substantially increased its mainstream visibility in recent years with the singles Fake It and Rise Above This will open tonight’s concert along with Mississippi’s Saving Abel.

Nickelback, Seether and Saving Abel perform at 7 tonight at Rupp Arena. Tickets are $41.50-$66.50. Call (859) 233-3535 or (859) 281-6644.

field commander cohen’s return to duty

leonard cohen

leonard cohen

Sometimes you have to watch the names you drop when it comes to popular music. If one of them happens to be Leonard Cohen, you have automatically dated yourself – but not necessarily in an unflattering manner.

A Canadian poet, Cohen became one of pop’s most unlikely heroes during the heart of the late ‘60s psychedelic movement. But his music wasn’t at all psychedelic. It was understated, fanciful, modestly stylish and somewhat distant. Cohen was (and still is) a bohemian Bob Dylan – a wordsmith that conveys an epic emotive sweep with his lyrics even though he has been bestowed with a singing voice of seemingly limited technical range. Yet like Dylan’s now-haggard wail, Cohen’s now-raspy baritone only enhances the conversational intimacies and drama of his songs.

Cohen’s reputation largely stems from his first three albums – 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1968’s Songs from a Room and 1971’s Songs of Love and Hate. Suzanne (from the debut album) and Bird on the Wire (from the second record) were covered and recorded by numerous artists in the subsequent decades.

Me, I have a place in my black heart for Cohen’s fourth album, 1974’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony – a dark orchestrated work with all kinds of great love/war metaphor songs. Field Commander Cohen (“some grateful, faithful woman’s favorite singing millionaire; the patron saint of envy and the grocier of despair”) is just one of the album’s epics. Critics hated New Skin when it came out but now consider the album a sleeper. Go figure.

Other Cohen classics – among them, Hallelujah, Dance Me to the End of Love and First We Take Manhattan – followed in the ‘80s.

The point for all this Cohen babbling is this surprising news. After a prolonged absence from the stage, during which he became an ordained Buddhist monk, Cohen, 74, is back on the concert trail. He performed a series of overseas dates in 2008. Last week at New York’s renovated Beacon Theatre, Cohen played his first concert in the United States in 15 years. On Tuesday, he announced a full two-month North American spring tour, which, of course, will be coming nowhere near Kentucky. Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta will the closest cities his tour will visit.

To savor the moment, we suggest these two new Cohen stories from The New York Times: a review of last week’s three hour Beacon show and an extended interview with the man himself conducted the day after the performance.

Ah, but a more affordable, accessible and immediate chronicle of the resurrected Cohen is also on the way. The two-disc CD/DVD Live in London, recorded when the singer’s tour began in earnest in last year, will be released on March 31. A clip of Cohen singing (well, reciting might be a better term) Suzanne is available for viewing at a special preview page on

Hallelujah, indeed.

critic’s pick 60

nels cline: "coward"

nels cline: "coward"

As the layers of Epiphyllum envelop the opening moments of Nels Cline’s exemplary new solo album Coward like layers of fog, we may think we know where the crafty guitarist, honorary avant-garde hero and full-time Wilco member may be going. The tune unfolds as a drone that is seemingly unrelenting at first. On one hand, it sounds like No Pussyfooting-era Robert Fripp. But warmth soon soothes the tune in a way that brings the washes Andy Summers employed on some of The Police’s more adventurous material to mind.

Of course, the joke is eventually on us. Where many of Cline’s recordings and concerts outside of Wilco delight in constructing sounds from scratch and then setting fire to them, Coward is more like a scrapbook. Once Epiphyllum‘s heady ambience runs its four-minute course – which, depending on your sense of taste and reference, is either contemplative or queasy – Cline is off on a new adventure.

Songs like Prayer Wheel and The Androgyne are acoustic and surprisingly melodic vignettes – real blindsiding surprises for fans that have championed his more explosive electric improvisations. The tunes possess a jazz-folk feel that is both primitive and progressive, like the ‘70s and ‘80s recordings of the great ECM guitarist Ralph Towner, but without the classical flourishes or piano counterpoint.

What does recall Cline’s past exploits is the texture to the tunes on Coward. The nearly 19 minute Rod Poole’s Gradual Ascent to Heaven opens with a sharp, angular stroke on strings. From there isolated acoustic notes dance about in wintry patterns that create equally offsetting, but still beguiling harmonies. Then denser percussive strums intrude and chip away at the tune’s delicacy until it collapses.

From there, Coward heads to the cosmos for the 17-minute suite Onan. This is where the vocabulary is more akin to the Cline we know. While the suite zooms from a spacious electric chill to an echoing dialog of voice and spacey twang, it winds up in bedlam via a segment aptly titled Interruption: (Onan’s Psychedlic Breakdown). Sounds reverse, scratch, stretch and crash. The following segment, Seedcaster, places power chords in a blender for a montage of electric chatter, guitar honks and odd percussive punctuation. It’s a bit of Frank Zappa-esque frenzy – buzzsaw music, if you will – that makes the rest of Coward sound almost intimate.

Maybe a better tip-off to what sits within the 72 minutes that make up Coward is a glance on the CD sleeve at the instruments – the musical ingredients, really – that cook up these compositions. Aside from the requisite acoustic and electric guitars, Coward contains Sruti boxes (clues, no doubts, to the brief Eastern accents that slip in and out of the album), “autoharp/zither things” (you got me), “megamouth” (isn’t that a kind of shark?), a Kaossilator (a phrase synthesizer) and the “Quintronics drum buddy” (a light-activated synthesizer with oscillators that operate, in principal, like a drum kit).

Come to think of it, the ingredients don’t spell things out on Coward either. Its textured sounds and rich balance of improvisational spirit and compositional drive are all products of a single artist’s resourcefulness. Match all that with a discreet musical cunning that makes Coward, sound, above all, playful, and you have one-man-band music that reaffirms Cline’s stature as a visionary guitarist and sound architect.

drive-by on stand-by

patterson hood has come down with walking pneumonia, causing tonight's drive-by truckers performance to be postponed until march 26. photo by matt pence.

tonight's drive-by truckers concert at the dame has been postponed due to the illlness of patterson hood (above). photo by matt pence.

Looks like the Drive-By Truckers won’t be trucking back to The Dame after all – at least, not yet.

The Athens, Ga. band has postponed all of its concerts this week – beginning with tonight’s Dame date – due to the illness of singer/guitarist/co-founder Patterson Hood. The performance is being rescheduled for March 26.

Hood has been diagnosed with walking pneumonia. The remaining Truckers carried on without him last weekend. One fansite posted a recording of the band’s Saturday performance at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club and playfully re-dubbed the band The Drive-By Cooleys as co-guitarist, founder, singer and longtime Hood pal Mike Cooley wound up having to carry the bulk of the vocal load.

The Dame show, along with subsequent performances in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis and Tuscaloosa, have all been bumped to late March to give Hood more time to recuperate. The band will then play Atlanta and Australia with veteran R&B keyboardist Booker T. Jones in support of their soon-to-be-released collaborative album Potato Hole.

Tickets purchased online, at CD Central or at The Dame’s box office will be honored for the rescheduled date. If preferred, refunds can be obtained at point-of-purchase.

The Dame will still be open tonight. Only with the Truckers not in town, it will a mighty modest Fat Tuesday.

dailey & vincent’s second helping

dailey & vincent: jimmy dailey and darrin vincent. the duo perform tonight at woodsongs.

dailey & vincent: jamie dailey and darrin vincent. the duo performs tonight for the woodsongs old-time radio hour.

It’s the hurdle that faces all great acts, in or out of the bluegrass world. But for Dailey & Vincent, the string music ensemble with a name that could belong to a law firm, such a challenge is poised to crack its already fervent popularity wide open.

We’re speaking, of course, of the often-dreaded second album – dreaded, that is, by many artists when their initial recordings register strongly with a new fanbase.

That is exactly what happened for the team of Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent. Their strongly traditional Rounder Records debut album was released in January 2008. Together with a year’s worth of consistent touring, the duo went from being relative unknowns – at least, in terms of group visibility – to an act that clobbered all takers at last fall’s International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.

At the October ceremony, Dailey & Vincent proved to be both a rookie and headlining sensation, winning trophies for Emerging Artist, Entertainer and Album of the Year. And those were just three of the record-breaking seven awards the duo took home that night.

Then on Feb. 15, Dailey & Vincent won big at the 35th Annual SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America) Awards. Among their six wins were honors for Bluegrass Band, Vocal Group, Gospel Group and Song of the the Year.

Finally, there was a write-up on the duo last week in that most unlikely of bluegrass publications, The New York Times.

While Dailey & Vincent may still be newcomers as team leaders, they have long been proven team players in the bluegrass world. Dailey has performed in Lexington many times at the Festival of the Bluegrass as a member of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Vincent is best known for collaborations with his celebrated sister, Rhonda Vincent. He has also clocked road and studio time with such Americana greats as John Hartford and Ricky Skaggs.

Now we come to the inevitable question. What can Dailey & Vincent do for a followup? The answer will hopefully begin to reveal itself at tonight’s taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. It will one be of the first opportunities for the duo to present new music from its upcoming Brothers from Different Mothers – an album faced with the daunting task of living up to its immensely popular predecessor. The new album is due for release on March 31.

Dailey & Vincent performed live for Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion earlier this month, but stuck to tunes from its self-titled debut album (By the Mark, Cumberland River and Poor Boy Workin’ Blues). Let’s hope the duo introduces Different Mothers for WoodSongs.

The album sticks confidently to the duo’s roots in heavily traditional bluegrass and country music. An update of Roger Miller’s You Oughta Be Here With Me is a showcase for sibling-style harmonies while the Statler Brothers’ There Is You makes a very natural transition to a string music setting without losing its sunny country disposition.

The album later opens up for the more wistful, old time folk atmosphere of Winter’s Come and Gone, another gem dropped on Dailey & Vincent’s front porch by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. That’s the famed team that also penned By the Mark, a tune from Dailey & Vincent’s debut album that went on to win an IBMA award for Gospel Performance of the Year.

Best of all, Dailey & Vincent will make up only half the fun at tonight’s WoodSongs taping. New York born, Texas bred and transplanted Tennessee singer Hal Ketchum, who ruled country radio during the early ‘90s with the hits Small Town Saturday Night, Hearts Are Gonna Roll and Past the Point of Rescue will be the program’s other featured performance guest.

Dailey & Vincent and Hal Ketchum perform at 7 tonight for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Tickets are $10. Call (859) 252-8888.      

current listening 02/20

soft machine: "drop" (2009)

soft machine: "drop" (2009)

Soft Machine: Drop – A new, brilliant sounding archival recording of the Softs in transition. Cut during a German tour in the fall of 1971, founding drummer Robert Wyatt has left, tipping the scale toward the free jazz inclination of saxophonist Elton Dean. Keyboardist Mike Ratledge favors Rhodes piano over organ, steamlining both the older material and the more manic improvisations. An extraordinary find.

frank zappa: "one shot deal" (2008)

frank zappa: "one shot deal" (2008)

Frank Zappa: One Shot Deal – One of the mystery delicacies for sale at the late composer’s website offers very little info on when this music was cut. Upon purchase, we discover it’s largely from the ‘70s with some passages and solos edited together by Zappa himself prior his death in 1993. It’s all beautiful sounding stuff from the orchestral Hermitage to an Inca Roads guitar solo dubbed Ocean’s Razor.

hank crawford: "true blue"/"double cross" (2001)

hank crawford: "true blue"/"double cross" (2001)

Hank Crawford: True Blue/Double Cross – The recent passing of yet another member of Ray Charles’ titan saxophone team (the third in just over a month) prompted a listen to this 2001 single disc reissue of two early ‘70s Crawford albums. At times the groove is dated with hullabaloo arrangements but on Mellow Down (from True Blue) and Mud Island Blues (from Double Cross), the orchestration is colored in strokes of lustrous blue.

the derek trucks band: "already free" (2009)

the derek trucks band: "already free" (2009)

The Derek Trucks Band: Already Free – Guitarist Trucks has an understated yet encyclopedic knowledge of jazz, soul and blues and displays keen ways on Already Free of making those sounds a natural fit for his groove-hearty band. In their hands, Bob Dylan’s Down in the Flood sounds like wiry, primeval blues while Something to Make Happy ibecomes pure Curtis Mayfield street R&B. A warm, unassuming jam band delight.

paul motion trio 2000:

paul motion trio 2000 + two: "live at the village vanguard, vol. two" (2008)

Paul Motion Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II – Motion has a history with the Vanguard, New York’s most treasured jazz club, that goes back to groundbreaking albums cut there with Bill Evans’ trio a half-century ago. Motion’s prime foil for Trio 2000 is tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, who more than compliments rhythms that shift from playful to dreamlike to strident. An album full of beautifully percussive dialogues and ensemble passion.

Cost of gas makes life in slow lane less idyllic: Rural commuters’ finances stretched.

The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, OH) April 30, 2006 Byline: Randy Ludlow Apr. 30–BLUE ROCK, Ohio — Amid the wooded ridges of rural Morgan County, there’s no such thing as a short trip to work or the grocery store.

Jeff and Lynn Mercer live down 4 narrow miles of hilly, rutted asphalt and bare gravel known as Gaysport Hill Road and Pisgah Ridge Road.

Once that shock absorberstraining stretch has been navigated, it’s 16 miles north along the Muskingum River on scenic Rt. 60 to Zanesville, the nearest city of any size. go to web site 2002 honda accord

These days, the Mercers are paying an ever higher price for their desire to escape the boxed-in feel of the city.

Their monthly gasoline bill has sprinted from less than $200 a month in recent years to $365 on their most recent BPAmoco statement. The amount promises to rise with gas prices predicted to top $3 a gallon.

And if American Electric Power follows through on its gas price-driven talk of taking away the take-home van that Jeff drives to repair meters, $365 will seem like a bargain.

For many families in Appalachia, where good-paying jobs are scarce, bringing home a paycheck often is accompanied by a long, and increasingly expensive, commute.

Lynn, 46, drives a 50-mile round trip each weekday to her job as human-resources manager of the Muskingum County Library System. That’s at least $30 a week burned in her 2002 Honda Accord.

Include runs to the store, son Matt’s Cub Scout meetings in McConnelsville and other trips, and it’s becoming a budgetbuster. Lynn packs all the errands she can into her lunch hour in Zanesville to avoid evening and weekend jaunts.

The family plastic is receiving a break, however, as 19-year-old son Marc takes a quarter off from Washington State Community College in Marietta. His four-days-a-week commute totaled 280 miles.

Dad drives a 1993 Dodge Dakota and remembers topping-the-tank landmarks.

“A few years ago, at $1.50 (a gallon), it was the first time it cost more than $40 to fill the tank. After Katrina, it was $50. Now, we’re probably headed for $60,” said Jeff, 50.

Average Columbus-area gas prices stood at $2.87 a gallon for regular Friday afternoon, said the American Automobile Association, up 39 cents from a month ago and 71 cents from a year ago.

Commuting aside, tending to the family’s 15 forested acres also burns gas.

Larry the sheep trims some grass, and has an annoying appetite for Lynn’s flowers, but firing up the tractor-mower, chain saw, tiller and weed trimmer now tops $12 a week.

The Mercers’ energy costs don’t end there, though.

There’s the “outrageous” propane to heat their saltbox home. It has soared from about $1.40 a gallon in recent years to more than $2 a gallon. The Mercers raided savings this winter to place 200 gallons in their tank.

The thermostat was lowered from 70 degrees to 65 degrees, and sweaters and extra blankets on the bed became part of the winter routine. “Luckily,” Lynn said, “we had a mild winter.” Gas costs also are figuring into the family’s anticipated trip to Toronto this summer — Matt, 7, wants to see Canada — when prices might hit historic highs. go to website 2002 honda accord

“That could be scuttled by gas prices,” Lynn said, adding that even if they head north, more expensive gas may shorten the trip because less money would be available for hotels and meals.

Like many others, the Mercers have a frown-and-bear-it mentality toward gas prices while considering an electricgas hybrid for their next new car.

“You used to just fill up the tank and go. You don’t look at it like that anymore,” said Jeff, who thinks oil companies might be guilty of price gouging amid record profits.

“You can write your congressman or raise some hell, but you adapt to what you have to do. No matter how bad it gets, you’ll find a way to get by.” Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.),

the 3 r’s of chuck d

public enemy's chuck d speaks tonight at EKU. photo by sarah edwards.

public enemy's public speaker: chuck d speaks tonight at EKU. photo by sarah edwards.

One of the first concepts taught to children in school summarizes three elemental requisites of education as “The 3 R’s.” The irony of this notion, of course, is that only one of the subjects actually begins with R.

Enter Chuck D – activist, author, rapper and the very public speaker of Public Enemy. This winter, he is touring college campuses and redefining The 3 R’s in a program entitled Race, Rap and Reality. And its lessons are considerably more topical than the The 3 R’s of old.

“This allows me to present an introspective note to the points I address in my music,” said D, who will speak Thursday at Eastern Kentucky University. “It allows me to talk things out and maybe reach the collegiate mind that is surrounded by all these ideas being forced upon them or sold to them

For over 25 years, D – born Carlton Douglas Ridenhour – has been the social and political voice for Public Enemy, the New York rap ensemble that redefined the lyrical parameters of hip hop in the ‘80s with albums like It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet.

Perhaps less known is the fact D has also been taking his views on race, music, free speech and the media directly to college campuses in non-musical forums for nearly two decades .

“You’ve got to know who you’re talking to and where you’re going,” D said. “When I talk about things like race, I try to present it from a world point of view. A lot of people in this country are conditioned with misconceptions and myths about race and how it fits into the rest of the world.

“One of the things that was different in the past was there was less interactivity with other human beings. Today, like minds have a better chance of being synergized just through technology than ever before. Still, young people can seriously get hurt by the race issue. They need access to information, not just some news analogy that’s been thrown in there.”

Throughout the history of Public Enemy, the media – specifically, its portrayal of African-Americans and their culture – has triggered no small amount of ire from D. The introductory sentence of his 1998 book Fight the Power (also the title to a potent 1989 Public Enemy song) reads: “The 1990s have been filled with Black men being systematically ripped down and overexposed in the media like we’re the worst criminals on the planet.”

While he has hardly pardoned it in the years since, D has come to recognize sets of pros and cons in how the media has helped and/or hindered young minds on race issues.

“It’s con if you let the media roll and go on without checks and balances,” he said. “It’s pro if you can actually take all the media and come up with some kind of consensus to add to a more thorough point of view. The problem comes when you rely on the media to tell you something and then not challenge it. I try to encourage young people to challenge information, challenge media, challenge anything that’s coming at them.”

Rap still remains a vital means to get D’s views through to an audience. While he visits college campuses every fall and spring semester, Public Enemy remains an active touring enterprise. Last summer, the group celebrated the 20th anniversary of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

The years have only seemed to heighten the album’s social importance. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 48 in a November 2003 issue devoted to what it termed the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Did D have any idea Nation of Millions would be so groundbreaking? Of course he did.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I disappoint a lot of people when I say I wasn’t surprised by its success. But I don’t say that out of cockiness. We had to design a rap and hip hop album in a way that it was going to be respected as part of a genre. Up to that point, respect for rap was kind of here-and-there.

“So we set out to make a What’s Going On or a Sgt. Pepper’s of rap in 1988. It was one of the only times we walked away from a record going, ‘Well, that’s something. That’s going to have a life all its own.”

While D has been critical of the media over the years, he has become equally wary of what he sees as the materialistic and “lazy” attitudes reflected in modern hip hop.

“I would just like to see hip hop nowadays have a better all around work ethic. I want the performances to be better, especially for people who come out and pay to see an artist they love and respect. So I’m hard set against artists who are lazy in their art.”

And who best reflects the ideal working inspiration for budding hip-hoppers? D points to one example without hesitation – President Obama.

“I think Barack Obama is the ultimate rapper. He knows what he’s talking about. He acts his age. He’s a powerful speaker with a great voice that moves a crowd when he opens his mouth. He sets a standard that rappers and singers should aspire to get anywhere close to.”

Chuck D presents “Race, Rap and Reality” at 7 tonight at Eastern Kentucky University’s O’Donnell Hall in Richmond. Admission is free.


critic's pick 59

the mountain

heartless bastards: "the mountain"

“I could be so funny if I could quit being a drag,” sings Erika Wennerstrom near the onset of her third and finest Heartless Bastards album, The Mountain. The line, part of a pseudo self-help mantra during Could Be So Funny, is an acoustic treat with a decidedly pop feel that is just one of The Mountain‘s many curve ball boulders.

But at heart, the tune is pretty deceptive. Could Be So Funny is essentially something out of Oz or, as Wennerstrom terms it, an “odyssey through concrete and steel.” The “no place like home” feel is just as persistent as when Dorothy pined for Kansas, but just as elusive and distant. It’s as if the clipped scenarios suggested by the verses (“I could be so happy…, I could be so funny…, I could be so sweet…”) might actually be realized with a few clicks of the ol’ ruby slippers. But they aren’t. Not in any real sense.

The album-opening title tune opens up like a vintage Neil Young and Crazy Horse rocker. Pedal steel lines seem to run out to the ozone while the cranky guitar sludge Wennerstrom sets against her deflated vocals defines the mood. “It’s hard to get ahead when the center is bleeding,” she sings.

In the end, The Mountain is neither blindingly sunny nor desperately forlorn. It simply moves in unceremonious but purposeful terms. It rocks as resolutely as either of Wennerstrom’s two previous Heartless Bastards albums even though the music opens up with strains of aggravated Appalachian reflection and ragged country soul.

First of all, there’s that voice. Wennerstrom’s doesn’t sing so much as bellow during the album’s best moments. On Out at Sea, she matches a moan to her band’s rugged backbeat while trying to pin the freefalling lyrics (“I’m out at sea and I’m floating away”) onto a surface that continually shifts past her. The fact most of those moves are in slow motion makes The Mountain even more fascinating. But in terms of musical and emotive sentiments, the album never anchors itself down.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is Had to Go, a primitive meditation of change told not by the trio’s muddy electric charge but through guitar, fiddle and banjo. After all, what would The Mountain be without an element of mountain music?

One might find a reference to Wennerstrom’s status as a tranplanted Texan in the lyrics, considering she relocated from the Cincinnati/Dayton area to Austin last year. But it’s tough to accept that she would ever be so literal. The tune has too great an air of desolation to make it a symbol of creative or personal change. It is, more likely, just another blurred snapshot of Wennerstrom’s world in motion.

If Wennerstrom and Heartless Bastards have any remote contemporary reference to fall in line with, it would be the post punk music Johnette Napolitano fashioned in the early ‘90s with Concrete Blonde. Like Napolitano, Wennerstrom conducts a considerable emotive sweep with her singing.  But she also leaves more blanks in her songs. The Mountain never wraps up its open and sometimes raw emotive state with easy answers any more than it slicks the sound down with obvious or even complete production tricks.

In essence, The Mountain is a monument. It’s a purposely incomplete and unfinished one.  But it’s a monument nonetheless, and one of the most captivating rock records of the young year.

QA; Web nickname inadvertently triggers alert.(BUSINESS)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) September 7, 2011 Byline: STEVE ALEXANDER; STAFF WRITER QI had a problem when I tried to follow your directions for removing the Google Redirect Virus (see When I went to the Symantec website you suggested to download the virus removal tool, I was greeted with a page saying that there could be problems with the website. The warning came from Web service “bitly.” Should I continue to the site?

CAROL SINGER, LAKEVILLE AYes, you can continue on to the Symantec page without worrying. I think you got the warning because you visited the Symantec page via a “tinyurl” address that I provided in the column.

What’s a tinyurl? The term “URL” originally stood for “uniform resource locator” but has come to mean simply “Web address.” You can think of a tinyurl, also called a URL shortener, as a nickname for a real website. Why use a nickname instead of the real Web address? Real Web addresses are often long and complex, while tinyurls are short, making them easy to include in my column or for you to type into a browser. google redirect virus

You got a warning about the tinyurl in my column because URL shorteners have been misused to direct people to malicious websites instead of legitimate ones. As a result, some providers of URL shorteners, such as bitly, warn you when you use a shortened URL that didn’t come from them.

How you react to these warnings should be based on whether you got the shortened URL from a trusted source. If a tinyurl came from this column, it’s safe to use.

QThe screen on my five-year-old Dell laptop shuts down whenever I plug in the AC adapter. The laptop remains on, but the screen goes black. I checked the PC’s battery and replaced its charging cord, but neither solved the problem. The Dell help desk told me the flaw is inside the screen or the PC’s main circuit board, and that it would cost $300 to fix. I didn’t think it was worth that much to fix a 2006 computer. But, because it still works fine when running on battery power, I wonder if there’s some other way to fix it. Is there some PC setting that could be changed? website google redirect virus

SERGE CHOQUETTE, OTTAWA AThis isn’t a settings issue. Your computer has some serious electrical problems in either the screen or the main circuit board. But you were correct in deciding not to spend $300 to repair a 2006 PC. For that price, you can buy a new laptop.

While it’s aggravating to have an otherwise well-behaved PC start to go bad, consider this a gentle warning. You haven’t lost any data, and your computer didn’t fail at the moment you needed it the most.

in performance: mark olson and gary louris/lori lieberman

mark olson and gary louris

mark olson and gary louris

A curious dichotomy was at work at last night’s taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.

On one hand, we had Mark Olson and Gary Louris, former chieftains of the Jayhawks, deconstructing their roles as Americana bandleaders. Instead, they worked as unaccompanied sketch artists designing generous but unglamorous folk-pop portraits.

Then there was California-born, Swiss-raised songwriter Lori Lieberman. Her newer coffeehouse-friendly songs seemed to have been designed for sparse, intimate accompaniment but were augmented last night by a full pick up band of local musicians.

The four tunes Olson and Louris presented from their fine new Ready for the Flood album certainly recalled the harmony rich music they fashioned together in the Jayhawks during the ‘90s. But harmony is a largely misleading tag for their new music. The two delivered nearly every verse of every song together with Olson’s deeper, more sobering singing balancing Louris’ higher, more plaintively pop-inclined vocals.

At times, the results were quietly stunning, as on Saturday Morning on Sunday Street. To say the song brought to mind the more hollowed pop-folk of early Simon and Garfunkel is not an exaggeration. It wasn’t until the end of the beautifully bittersweet Turn Your Pretty Name Around that the two voices, briefly, split apart. Louris then took the lead on a scrappy but soulful encore of Two Hearts, the evening’s only Jayhawks entry.

Lieberman has been making records for over 35 years, although raising a family put her career largely on hold during the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Her four songs from the just released (as in last week) Gun Metal Sky album summoned a very different set of references, specifically the Joni Mitchell-style intonation that highlighted Every Wednesday Morning.

While it was very cool to have local players at Lieberman’s side, their talents weren’t terribly well utilized. Sentimental narratives like He Needs You didn’t really require much by way of window dressing. Neither did her other songs, for that matter. That might explain why a cellist and percussionist seemed to sit out a sizable chunk of the show.

Guitarist Phillip High added a modest and efficient Spanish flair to solos during Killing Me Softly (the Roberta Flack hit inspired by a Lieberman poem) and The Opposite of Love. But the band arrangement derailed during an encore of Emmylou Harris’ My Baby Needs a Shepherd. Were the amped up guitar colors supposed to sound like an ambient seascape or a cloudburst of distortion? Both impressions were conveyed. Both were distractions.

Whether scaling down or dressing up, simpler is always better for a show like WoodSongs. On that score, we’ll call Olson and Louris, along with their low-fi folk sketches, the evening’s clear winners.


The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH) October 10, 1997 Byline: Sara Voorhees Scripps Howard News Service It’s no mystery why Brad Pitt was cast as an ex-Nazi in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s adventure odyssey ”Seven Years in Tibet.” Who better to bring in the crucial 18- to 24-year-old audience than the star of ”Seven,” ”Legends of the Fall” and ”Interview with the Vampire”? Who better to play a perfect blond Aryan? Who better to make us care about a thoroughly unattractive young man than the current most attractive young man in Hollywood?

As it turns out, Pitt also brings some impressive acting talent to the role of Heinrich Harrer, a selfish and unlikable Austrian mountain climber who left his pregnant wife and the flourishing Nazi party behind in 1939 and set out to conquer the Himalayan Nanga Parbat peak.

Armed with an understated German accent, platinum-blond hair and an assortment of facial-hair styles and khaki costumes, Pitt takes us on a journey through several years in a British POW camp, across the frozen Himalayan mountains with his reluctant friend Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis) and into the ancient Tibetan city of Lhasa. There he is befriended by the young Dalai Lama (played with extraordinary charm by 14-year-old Jamyang Wangchuk, the son of a Bhutanese diplomat).

Harrer’s story is so fantastic it would be almost unbelievable if it weren’t true. We are asked to accept that, although Harrer begins his journey in the Himalayas as a ruthlessly self-absorbed Nazi, he is transformed into a compassionate, selfless man by the tranquillity and spiritual charisma of the Dalai Lama. here facial hair styles

It’s not as if this is difficult to understand, since director Jean-Jacques Annaud has drawn a picture of the young Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people that is reverent and respectful, with a touch of humor that underscores the Dalai Lama’s profound humanity and wisdom.

The cinematography is magnificent – long sweeping shots of the Himalayas that make you marvel at the folly and arrogance of trying to climb such inhospitable heights – and no one is Annaud’s equal in telling a story without dialogue (remember ”The Bear” and ”Quest for Fire”?).

John Williams’ score is gentle and unobtrusive, and production designer At Hoang very cleverly substituted Argentine locales and the foothills of the Andes when filming was prohibited in Tibet.

Annaud has been careful with details in telling of the sweeping cultural changes Harrer experienced in his years in Tibet. He cast the real Dalai Lama’s sister, Jetsun Pema, in the role of His Holiness’ mother, and Lhakpa Tsamchoe as Aufschnaiter’s strong Tibetan wife delivers some marvelous Buddhist philosophy that makes mincemeat of Western egoism and competition.

What is missing here is a sense of the sweeping internal drama that is unfolding in Harrer’s soul, turning him from the man he was into the man he became.

There is a delicate moment, when the Dalai Lama awakens in tears from a nightmare in which he saw his people slaughtered by the Chinese (a dream which is to come true in all its horror). Harrer, who has been told in no uncertain terms that etiquette forbids him from ever touching the Dalai Lama, struggles with his newly evolved desire to comfort someone in pain, and finally sits next to him and does the only thing in his humble Western repertoire: He puts his arm around his friend.

There should have been more moments like that one, but, since there is no narration and no dialogue to tell us what is happening inside Harrer – a pleasant change from the heavy-hitting obviousness of the average Hollywood movie – the burden falls entirely on Pitt to reveal to us Harrer’s hidden emotional drama. here facial hair styles

Unfortunately, there is no way he could let us in on the intricacies of his spiritual journey without breaking the subtle atmosphere that Annaud has carefully created. In the end, the evolved Harrer seems almost as cold and one-dimensional to us as he did when he was selfish.

”Seven Years in Tibet” is still a beautiful story about one man’s spiritual salvation, but what audiences are most likely to come away with is an understanding of the grace of the Tibetan people and a sense of outrage at the abominable wrongs inflicted upon them by the Chinese government.

That in itself is enough to make ”Seven Years in Tibet” worth seeing.


Photo (2) Brad Pitt, right, runs into trouble in this scene from ”Seven Years in Tibet.” Traveling with him are David Thewlis, left, and Lhakpa Tsamchoe.

Brad Pitt as Heinrich Harrer and Jamyang Wangchuk as the young Dalai Lama become friends in ”Seven Years in Tibet.”

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