Archive for April, 2009

lords of the flatlands

the flatlanders: butch hancock, joe ely, jimmie dale gilmore.

the flatlanders: butch hancock, joe ely, jimmie dale gilmore.

You may not be able to see the world from the Lone Star metropolis of Lubbock. But according to Butch Hancock, you can stand on its streets and still view a pretty sizable chunk of it.

“It was so isolated and flat out there,” said the veteran Texas songsmith. “It’s sort of like a generic cartoon land – just flatlands. Anything that is on the horizon just kind of looms there. You can see it from miles and miles away. If you’re driving down the highway, you can see something for 30 minutes before you ever get to it.”

So it any wonder the Lubbock native and his longtime Amarillo-born (but Lubbock raised) pals Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore call themselves The Flatlanders?

“When we play back in the East, we’re always having to drive around trees and mountains. We tell everybody on that side of the coast, ‘You guys got a tree problem out here,'”

Among the legions of Americana-based artists to stream out of Lone Star country over the past four decades, The Flatlanders enjoy a quiet but near mythic status. The band formed in 1972, performed through the following year and then split. There would be no new Flatlanders music for another 26 years.

But during that considerable down time, the three members forged solid careers of their own. Ely built an international following with a solid roots rock and vintage honky tonk sound that had him sharing stages with everyone from The Clash to Bruce Springsteen. Gilmore, possessed with a plaintive and spiritually savvy tenor voice, followed calmer paths of remarkably emotive (and decidedly non-commercial) country music. Hancock was the master everyman songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by a multitude of artists including, not surprisingly, Ely and Gilmore.

But as The Flatlanders, the three are on a level – dare we say, flat – playing field. Now with what may well be its strongest collaborative album to date, the regally rustic Hills and Valleys, the trio is making its long overdue debut in Lexington on Monday. While Ely and Gilmore have played here on their own over the years, this will be Hancock’s first-ever concert in the Bluegrass.

“What we do… it’s kind of like when you tear up pieces of paper, put them in a hat and start drawing them out one at a time. Each one of us brings in bits and pieces of ideas. It’s like the concept of static electricity. Once you start putting some of these things together, some of the sparks will start flying.”

Hills and Valleys may well be starkest of the Flatlanders’ four studio albums. It evokes eerily topical dust bowl imagery during the opening Homeland Refugee (sung by Ely), high spirited country reclamation on The Way We Are (sung by Gilmore) and pure Tex Mex fancy on Borderless Love (sung by Hancock). And on a cover of Woody Guthrie’s Sowing on the Mountain, all three trade verses depicting imminent Biblical fire.

Though the latter sounds more Appalachian than Texan in nature, the song is still in step with inspirations that take The Flatlanders – not to mention, its audience – back to the streets and skies of Lubbock.

“I don’t know how to express it exactly,” Hancock said. “It’s like if you see a chair in a room, it makes sense. But stick a chair out in the middle of a highway and it’s like, ‘What the heck is that doing out there?’ In just seemed like everything in Lubbock was a little out of context.

“Then there were things like the border radios that we all listened to as kids with this mysterious, wonderful music that came blasting in at night. And then, of course, there are things like the wind, the water – what water there was in Lubbock – and the UFOs. Hey, we can’t rule out the UFOs.”

Hancock gave up Lubbock in the ‘90s and relocated to the desert bordertown of Terlingua. But his friendship with Ely and Gilmore in and out of The Flatlanders remains vital and strong.

“It’s been one of the greatest blessings of my life to have known these characters for this long and to have been playing music together.

“I remember, years back, we would sit around the living room playing guitars and songs, sometimes for 10 hours a night. I think when you do that with some friends you realize that you’re all equally crazy. It’s kind of a lifelong bond that happens.”

The Flatlanders perform at 7 p.m. Monday at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main, for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Tickets are $10. Call (859) 252-8888. The group also plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Southgate House, 24 East Third St. in Newport with Jenny Scheinman opening. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day-of-show. Call (859) 431-2201.

Can’t anybody catch the deadbeat parents?

The Philadelphia Tribune June 6, 2003 | Richardson, Carlamaria Richardson, Carlamaria Philadelphia Tribune, The 06-06-2003 Recently, I’ve had the necessity of calling New Jersey child support as well as Pennsylvania child support. The purpose of my call was to re-direct mail and phone calls that I had been receiving at my home address.

I knew the individual that New Jersey and Pennsylvania child support were trying to locate. I also knew his address and thought it might be important and would, perhaps, divert some future repercussions. And, in all honesty, I simply didn’t want this man’s mail coming to my home, as we were not on friendly terms at all and I didn’t feel a need to protect his interest in any way.

Like many women in Philadelphia as well as across the country, I also am due child support arrears for my youngest child. Of course, I have no idea of the whereabouts of my younger son’s father, which I’m finding is the typical M.O. of a fugitive and delinquent parent – generally the father.

Although I’m sure that is not always the case across the board.

Upon calling New Jersey child support I was able to speak to a woman (not a recording) and give the correct address of the individual New Jersey was trying to locate. I was informed that as along as this individual resided in Philadelphia, New Jersey could not pick him up on charges of non-payment of child support even with a warrant for his arrest. If this person actually lived in New Jersey they would have arrested him even if it meant going to his residence at 3 in the morning.

I was also informed that Philadelphia child support rarely even sought out individuals owing child support arrears. Generally, I was told if the police happened to stop an individual on a “traffic or parking” violation and if they did a thorough background check they may or may not hold that individual on non-payment charges. Holding that individual, of course, would depend on whether or not there was a warrant for his arrest. A warrant for his arrest depended on whether a hearing notice had been sent out and ignored. Of course these individuals move constantly from place to place and from job to job, and may claim to be unaware of any hearing notice.

Philadelphia child support has a customer service line, a general information line and a hotline. The first two lines are recordings giving information and addresses in the city of Philadelphia where you may go to file for support or make a complaint. The hotline is also no more than a recording welcoming information about the whereabouts of a “fugitive parent.”

That’s where my curiosity peaked. What happens after information was taken off the hotline? A hearing notice would be sent out. If that individual did not respond or appear at the time of the hearing a warrant would then be issued for his arrest. And again, the arrest may or may not take place, depending on whether or not that individual runs into the law due to some other major or minor infraction. Of course at the time the individual receives the hearing notice, most likely he will have moved and/or changed jobs. here pennsylvania child support

Another interesting aspect of this issue is the profile of the “fugitive parent.” Like an abuser, if you were to sit with a support group of women recovering from abuse, you would think they were all talking about the same man. It is the same with a fugitive parent. The profile of a fugitive parent reads something like this: They don’t hold wage-paying jobs for fear of being located through their Social Security numbers or having their wages attached. If they do hold wage-paying jobs, they move from job to job, holding one job for only 3-12 months – maybe. Often their driver’s license has been suspended. Even having a bank account is sometimes too risky. They generally don’t feel obligated to pay any bills at all.

And what’s even more interesting is their use of other women and whatever resources those women may have to offer at the time (i.e. a home – shelter, money, etc.)

These men seem to be abusive as well, using one woman and quickly moving on to the next once it’s realized that the next woman has more to offer and is not “on” to him as is the former woman.

This type of behavior goes on for years and even decades, leaving a tremendous amount of mental, emotional and financial loss as well as physical scars in some cases. I’ve known a man who moved all the way from North Carolina to live with a woman he met over the Internet and abused her mentally, financially and emotionally for two years. All this to evade the responsibility of supporting his own children. Using women seems to be a way for these men to hide out.

I have recently come through a similar experience with a man owing as much as $23,000 in back child support. I was in this relationship only one year with this man – thank God, during which time he was extremely emotionally and mentally abusive, making every effort to belittle and demean me every chance he got. Thankfully, my view of myself and support from my family and friends helped me to put him at a distance as fast as possible. I have raised a family of three sons virtually all on my own, going from homelessness to owning a three- story five-bedroom home in North Central Philadelphia. I am disillusioned and angry that any man having only himself to take care of – physically — would put so much effort into using hardworking struggling single women and mothers for financial gain. These men who abuse the privilege of fatherhood, like any other abuser of women and children, are cowards. this web site pennsylvania child support

The question is: When former President Clinton initiated welfare reform, forcing thousands of women off the welfare rolls, where was the initiative to find the fathers to the children these women were struggling to support?

The question is: What messages have these women, including myself, been fed into that cause us to fear demanding financial support from the fathers of our children? Is it the red tape, knowing that once we report the whereabouts of these men that they will simply disappear before the system catches up to them? Why is the system so slow to respond to child support issues? Why are fugitive fathers allowed to go on with their lives while owing thousands and thousands of dollars in child support? And what do we tell our sons when they ask, as my son did two years ago, “Mom, why does my father ignore me?”

It seems to me that if the city of Philadelphia has the stamina to implement programs such as “Safe Streets,” to boot and tow vehicles with delinquent parking tickets, to take women off the welfare rolls and put them in “Transition to Work” programs just so they can secure low-paying jobs with no benefits — why is it that the city of Philadelphia lacks the balls to address the suffering of so many women and children whose fathers have outright deserted them?

Carlamaria Richardson is a resident of Philadelphia.

V.119 Richardson, Carlamaria

in performance: raul malo

raul malo. photo by

raul malo. photo by kristen barlowe.

Raul Malo admitted last night at The Dame that it had been a good week to be a Cuban-American, referring to President Obama’s decision to ease some travel and telecommunications restrictions for families between the United States and Cuba.

To celebrate, the former lead singer of The Mavericks, with the help of a five-man band that included a two-member horn section, offered an extended medley that thinned cultural barriers even further. It began with the graceful Cuban sway of One More Angel, one of 10 tunes performed Malo’s new Lucky One album. That eased into an almost stately Guantanamera and an inevitable sing-a-long. The groove then loosened for Malo, on 12 string electric guitar, and saxophonist Ben Graves to engage in some playful sparring on licks from The Simpsons‘ theme, Mr. Tambourine Man and more before the whole medley concluded with a version of Twist and Shout played not as rock ‘n’ roll but as salsa-savvy Cuban pop.

The medley typlified the exactness Malo maintained with his band for much of the evening, from the brassy Mavericks hits Dance the Night Away and Pretend to the Los Lobos-like bounce of Moonlight Kiss (another of the Lucky One tunes). In other words, this was a pack that did not rush a cool groove. Instead, Malo, who handled near all of the evening’s guitar chores, locked in behind colors of B3 organ and percussion for steady, juicy rhythms that let the horns set the euphoric mood.

Sometimes the groove was deceptive, as in the finale encore of All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down, the evening’s only other Mavericks tune. It began with enough twang and tropical fun to sound like a Cuban revision of the George Jones classic White Lightning. And then there was the voice, that proud, clear, warm and ultra confident tenor that continually referenced the grandeur of Roy Orbison.

On the Lucky One centerpiece tune, Hello Again, the mix of Malo’s natural vocal bravado and a wicked backbeat summoned a ‘60s pop sound that was American through and through. But on the title tune to his 2001 album Today and the bulk of the Lucky One material, the singing matched the music’s sense of cool, joyous Cuban soul. And when the nasty guitar twang met the almost ska-like rhythms of Lonely Hearts, geographical and cultural distinctions evaporated completely. It sounded like Buck Owens on vacation in the Caribbean. Groove to that.

in performance: tower of power

tower of power

tower of power performed last night at the norton center for the arts.

The generational swing of Tower of Power was defined last night at the Norton Center for the Arts in Danville by simple but telling connections that two band members made with a pair of obviously enchanted patrons in the audience.

The first came when tenor sax man and group founder Emilio Castillo dug into Diggin’ on James Brown, a fun bit of R&B co-opting that is to vintage soul what Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll is to barroom roots music. Encouraging an audience sing-a-long, Castillo stuck a microphone into the crowd so that a girl on the stage right side of the front row, who appeared to be 8 or 9, could add her vocal charm.

Later, singer Larry Braggs serenaded a gentleman at the other end of the crowd who looked to be in his 70s. The song: the 1972 breakthrough hit You’re Still a Young Man.

Such smile-making moments were highlights mostly because they were so obviously unplanned but yet so clearly steered by the robust brass saturated soul that has long been the band’s trademark.

Outside of Young Man, little in the 95 minute program resembled a ballad. The show was instead carried by cheerful soul-funk tunes that spanned much of TOP’s four decade career, from obvious choices like What is Hip? to comparative obscurities that included three de-discofied entries from the band’s forgotten 1976 album Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now. There was also modestly newer fare, such as 1997’s So I Got To Groove that gave Braggs room to do just that with a tireless soul shout that prevailed despite what seemed to some to be some under-the-weather symptoms that had him sipping liquids between songs.

But, as was the case when TOP tore out of the San Francisco Bay Area 41 years ago, the brass fueled this soul music journey. In essence, the five member horn section played as one voice. While “lead” tenor saxophonist Tom E. Politzer was afforded ample solos that mixed New York soul-jazz intensity with Bay Area funk, the quintet’s unison drive worked both as orchestration (during the sleek rhythmic build of You Got to Funkafize) and as a lead instrumental device (on the show-opening We Came to Play).

The band members, all of whom were named Kentucky Colonels earlier in the day, were in high spirits, too. But the groove – a huge, organic, earthy and soulful slab of rhythm propelled by a horn section with big band intent – was clealy what put the Power in this Tower.

groove begins at home

ellen ven

from los angeles to lexington: elle ven

While conducting business in her “other” hometown – namely, Los Angeles – Ellee Ven began searching for a way her favorite music could ignite a fun night of artistic philanthropy.

And so Give into the Groove was born. The idea was, in essence, a benefit without strings. No admission was to be charged. Instead, selected organizations would send representatives, distribute information about their community work, gain a few friends and volunteers and perhaps even raise some funds in the process. The backbone of the event, though, was music – an entire evening’s worth. 

“Producing something like this is a lot easier than it seems,” said Ven, a Los Angeles native who works most of the year on the West Coast developing her recording and performance career while maintaining a residence in Lexington. “After all, people want to do good for their community. That’s always the promise. People enjoy being purposeful.”

Ven’s first three Give into the Groove projects were staged in Los Angeles and benefited organizations like the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the Los Angeles Free Clinic.

The inaugural Lexington Groove-fest was staged last fall at the Red Mile’s Round Barn. The event moves downtown tonight to the Atomic Cafe

“We had a few hundred people, a respectable turnout, last year,” Ven said. “But the Round Barn is a destination venue. You have to know that something is happening out there, whereas with the Atomic Café, people are already going to be there (especially given downtown will also be hosting the spring Gallery Hop this evening). Some people may even happen upon the event that haven’t heard about it.”

If so, they will have performances to take in by Lexington favorites Big Fresh and Otto Helmuth as well as an appearance by Isabella Begley, winner of the Little Miss Bluegrass Area pageant. Ven will also showcase some of the pop electronica music from her new Dangerous Diversion album with help from West Coast rapper Prodeje.

Among the local and regional organizations Give into the Groove is designed to help this year: Local First Lexington, The Hope Center, Actors Guild of Lexington, the Lexington Humane Society, the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville.

“The thing that’s crazy is that people are more apt to be generous to organizations at events like this than when you say, ‘Admission is $50.’ That when you have people going, ‘Oh, I didn’t get enough crumpets’ or ‘It was too crowded to get to the champagne line.

“What’s fun about this event is that the vibrations are always so great. That just seems to be a catalyst for other fun things where people get inspired to help their community.”

For Ven, though, Give in to the Groove isn’t just an opportunity to help the community. It’s a chance to get to know it better. Aside from last year’s Groove event and shows at venues like Al’s Bar, Ven hasn’t performed much locally. So how is it then that an artist versed in the fast lane music frenzy of Los Angeles found her way to Lexington in the first place?

The connection goes back to Ven’s college days at Pepperdine Univeristy. Having made friends with several fellow students from Central Kentucky, she began making regular visits here starting in the mid ‘90s.

“I’m from Los Angeles, my family is from Los Angeles and there is an endless access to musicians and production resources in Los Angeles,” Ven said. “But there is also so much competition there. Even if there are a million things you’re doing well, there are always people around to tell you everything that you’re doing wrong. It’s just a different sort of climate there.

“Since I had some flexibility in my life and met people in Lexington from college, I began going back and forth between the two cities. I always said if a house came up that I could get my hands on, I would grab it. And one did. And I love it here.

“So now I’m just happy to be able to share my fun times with the community that I’m totally growing to love.”

Give into the Groove will be held at 8 tonight at the Atomic Café, 265 N. Limestone. Admission is free. For information, call (859) 254-1969 and

the raul thing

raul malo. photo by kristen barlowe.

raul malo. photo by kristen barlowe.

There was a time when Raul Malo didn’t feel especially in sync with the pop or country worlds.

With an almost operatic singing voice that made comparisons to such landmark vocal stylists as Roy Orbison unavoidable, the Miami-born Malo never readily fit into country categorization. Neither did the music he fashioned with his breakthrough band, The Mavericks. By the late ‘90s, on albums like Trampoline, the band spent as much time exploring epic-scale Cuban-flavored escapades and brassy swing as it did radio-ready country.

“All my life, even when The Mavericks started to gain some notoriety, I felt I was born too late,” said Malo, who performs Saturday at The Dame. “All the music I loved, all the art… it all came before me.

“But now, for some reason, it feels like I was born just at the right time. I feel I’m rotating in the same direction now as the planet. I guess that’s just part of being a little older, a little more mature, maybe. But also, you can’t change the world if you’re always going against it.”

It’s not that Malo has been the rebellious sort. Born to Cuban parents, he was surrounded by multiple genres of music as a child. Country was merely one of them. As The Mavericks’ popularity bloomed, so did the band’s willingness to experiment with accents of soul, blues, jazz, salsa and cha-cha – all of which became a natural fit for Malo’s expansive singing.

But today, with a still-flourishing solo career, Malo doesn’t have to seek allegiance with a genre as specific or commercially dependent as country. That’s why the seemingly disparate sounds at work on his new Lucky One album have an almost familial feel to them.

On Hello Again, the Orbison spirit is nothing short of resplendent. On You Always Win, Malo croons with the assuredness of Sinatra. On Lonely Hearts, the mix of wily guitar twang and carnival-flavored keyboards recalls late ‘80s Dwight Yoakam mischief. Elements of rockabilly, Tex Mex and elegant balladry color the rest of Lucky One.

“It is me singing and it is me writing all the songs, so the music on the album is all coming from one spot,” Malo said. “Looking back, though, I grew up listening to so many different styles of music. But I could always find the co-relation between them. I could always find the link between Elvis Presley and country music, or what Sam Phillips and (his Memphis-based) Sun Records was doing compared to what Nashville did later. And within what Nashville was doing, I could tell where rhythm-and-blues was going. I just always made those connections.

“Of course, there was always a lot of Cuban music around as I was growing up. And when you’re growing up in Miami, you’re at the gateway to the Caribbean, so you had all of this great reggae and ska music. And there was all of the wonderful American rock ‘n roll and pop stuff, too. I listened to it all, and it all sounded great.”

Of course, translating those inspirations into a stylistic sound of his own would have been futile had Malo not possessed a natural vocal ability that was far more than a simple reflection of the influences he grew up with.

“You could listen to Pavarotti all you want, but chances are you’re never going to sound like him,” Malo said. “Obviously, I was born with a gift that I appreciate so much and feel so blessed to have. It has defined my life in so many ways. But you also have to take in all of your influences, study them, become a better vocalist and better musician and then almost unlearn everything so you can start singing, hopefully, from a very special place. Then you hope all of that translates to how people feel about your music. “

Raul Malo performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at The Dame, 367 E. Main St. $15. (859) 231-7263.


States News Service January 9, 2012 DURHAM, NC — The following information was released by Duke University Health System:

By Duke Medicine News and Communications Tuning in to tune out may be just what’s needed for men undergoing a prostate biopsy, according to researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute.

The Duke team found that noise-cancelling headphones playing a classical melody may reduce the pain and anxiety of the often uncomfortable procedure.

The finding, published this month in the journal Urology, points to a simple and inexpensive way to help an estimated 700,000 U.S. men who undergo a prostate biopsy a year. The procedure is essentially the only way to diagnose prostate cancer, which strikes one in six men during their lifetimes.

“It’s a matter of shifting attention, so the music provides a distraction from the procedure,” said Matvey Tsivian, MD, a Duke urologic oncology fellow and lead author. best noise cancelling headphones

For the study, which was conceived by medical students and had no outside funding, the Duke team enrolled 88 patients and randomly assigned them to three groups. The first had no headphones; the second wore the noise-cancelling headphones but heard no music; and the third wore the headphones and listened to Bach concertos.

Blood pressure was taken before and after a trans-rectal biopsy, which is an intrusive procedure involving an ultrasound probe and a spring-loaded needle that has a loud trigger. The noise alone causes many men to flinch even if they report no pain, and 20 percent of men experience high stress and anxiety about the procedure.

Among study participants in both groups with no musical intervention, diastolic blood pressure remained elevated after the procedure, compared to before. But the men who wore the headphones and listened to Bach had no such spike in blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure often rises as a function of stress and anxiety. best noise cancelling headphones

Study participants who had the music also reported less pain, as measured by questionnaires. The researchers said they did not determine whether the choice of music might have had an impact.

“We couldn’t study all the permutations and variables, but it’s evident that this kind of approach works,” said Thomas Polascik, MD, director of Urologic Oncology at the Duke Cancer Institute and senior author of the study. “This is something that could be broadly employed. It’s easy and inexpensive — a set of headphones and music. That’s it.” In addition to Tsivian and Polascik, study authors included Peter Qi; Masaki Kimura; Valerie Chen; Stephanie Chen; and Tong J Gan.

power book

tower of power.

tower of power 2009. top row, from left: larry braggs, david garibaldi, roger smith, francis rocco prestia, mark harper. bottom row: adolfo acosta, mike bogart, stephen "doc" kupka, tom e. politzer, emilio castillo. photo by rob shanahan.

For over four decades, Tower of Power has defined soul music strictly on its own terms.

That has meant promoting its own sound – specifically, one that employs a five man horn section to energize vintage funk and R&B grooves. The better part of its lengthy career has also been spent promoting the band’s own tunes, such as You’re Still a Young Man, So Very Hard to Go and What is Hip. All three helped Tower of Power forge an international audience for its soul savvy, brass fortified music beginning in the early ‘70s.

So when Tower of Power was approached with the idea of recording an album not of original material but of soul music classics through the ages, the signal it initially beamed back was on the weak side.

“Tower of Power has never been one to do the okey-doke,” said band founder and tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo. “We try to make choices that are unique. So we were a little hesitant about doing what was, really, a cover record.

“Then we ran the idea by a bunch of world wide promoters that we work with. Everybody said, ‘Of all the artists that have tried to make that kind of record, you’re the one that should do it.’ So we decided to give it a try. Reluctantly.”

The idea for the album that was released last week as The Great American Soulbook, was two-fold. First, it would let TOP interpret hits first fostered by such iconic soul names as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and others. But such a premise would also allow TOP to enlist a variety of guest vocalists, much in the same way that one of the band’s oldest musical allies, Santana, did on its mega-hit 1999 album Supernatural.

“Once we got about a third of the way through recording it, we started to realize, ‘Boy, this is going to be really cool.’ Even with all the guests, we really got to put our own stamp on it. It stills sounds like a Tower of Power record.”

Of course, it helped that the guest list was a mix of musical heroes and longtime friends.

Among the former is the ageless Sam Moore of the ‘60s soul duo Sam & Dave. While TOP covers Sam & Dave’s breakthrough 1968 hit I Thank You on The Great American Soulbook with Tom Jones and the band’s own lead vocalist, Larry Braggs, Moore turns in a jubilant, gospel-fied version of Redding’s Mr. Pitiful.

“The actual day we recorded that, it was just the two of us in the studio,” Castillo recalled. “I mean, there I was in a studio hanging out with Sam Moore. For a guy like me who was such a fan of soul music, it was a dream come true. I mean, I was on the moon. And Sam was just killing it. He’s an incredible vocalist. Always has been. I’ve been a fan from the time I was 15 years old. I just love the guy.”

In what seems a less obvious invitation, Huey Lewis teams with Braggs to perform the Wilson Picket classic 634-5789. But the careers of Lewis and TOP have been closely linked for decades. Both hail from the San Francisco Bay area (technically, Oakland was the starting point for TOP) and both have used soul music as the foundation for their pop success.

But when Lewis and his long-running band, The News, began to catch fire in the early ‘80s, TOP’s fortunes were drying up. As a longtime fan of TOP, Lewis enlisted the band as a touring partner and recorded several of his hits with its horn section. Today, Castillo credits Lewis for “resurrecting” TOP’s career.

“Oh, he absolutely did,” he said. “Huey helped save Tower of Power. We were at a low point in our careers back in the ‘80s. We were really struggling. But when he asked us to go on tour, I said, ‘Well, I can use the money most certainly. But the only way I’ll do it is if you promote the band at every turn.’ Huey agreed to that and was a man of his word.

“He talked about us, literally, in every single interview he did. He would feature us prominently in his show. Tower of Power would also do these midnight concerts in some of the local clubs in the bigger cities we played. Huey would announce them during his show, saying how he and The News were going to the club afterwards to sit in. So these places were just besieged with fans. So, yes, he literally resurrected our career.”

Then there is the matter of material. Yes, The Great American Soulbook is a covers album and, indeed, familiar groove tunes of the past get the TOP treatment. But so do some real surprise picks, including Wonder’s often overlooked 1968 hit You Met Your Match and the 1973 Bill Withers obscurity Who is He (and What is He to You)? But Soulbook digs especially deep when it honors the long neglected Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and their 1970 gem Loveland.

“The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band had a lot of great hits,” Castillo said. “We were big fans of their sound. But Loveland was really a different sort of hit for them. For one, their drummer (James Gadson) sang it. And it was very melodic whereas the band was known for groove stuff. I just thought it was incredibly soulful. We wanted to record the song for this album really bad.”

Ultimately, though, TOP, like the songs on Soulbook, has managed to outlast myriad pop fads to keep its hearty sound intact.

“I don’t think our sort of music has ever been a trend, even though there was a time when soul music was very, very popular. The type of soul music we play is still very uniquely ours. It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to be in or out. We kind of own the concept. That’s a large reason why it has that timeless factor to it.

“But the only way you can get it is to come to the source.”

Tower of Power perform at 8 p.m. April 17 at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College in Danville. Tickets: $35, $40, $45. Call: (877) 448-7469.

Groupon Launches Services in Daytona Beach, Florida go to site groupon dallas

Wireless News February 3, 2011

Wireless News 02-03-2011 Groupon Launches Services in Daytona Beach, Florida Type: News

Groupon, a shopping website that offers a daily deal on the best local goods, services and cultural events in more than 500 markets around the world, launched in Daytona Beach on January 24.

“A family-friendly city known for its attractions, dining, nightlife and cultural events, Daytona Beach is an excellent match for the Groupon model,” said Rob Solomon, president and COO of Groupon. “Groupon will offer residents and visitors unbeatable deals from the best businesses in Daytona Beach, while driving new customers to local merchants.” site groupon dallas

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haker flaten!!!

norwegian bassist ingebrigt haker flaten

two performances by ingebrigt haker flaten were reviewed in yesterday's new york times. but the outside the spotlight series began bringing the norwegian bassist to lexington over five years ago.

There is a smashing review in yesterday’s New York Times on two duo performances by the Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten. Credited by writer Nate Chinen as being “among the most prolific figures on the European experimental scene,” Haker Flaten is a tireless innovator on stage and a boundlessly cheerful individual in conversation. But then, Lexington has known that for awhile.

As part of Ross Compton’s Outside the Spotlight Series, Haker Flaten has performed here with such improvisation-savvy ensembles as Atomic, The Electrics and, in repeat visits, The Thing.

The latter’s December 2005 concert with saxophonist Joe McPhee at Underlying Themes (part of the now obliterated “Dame block,” or as Mayor Jim Newbery has famously termed it, a block where “nothing of consequence ever happened”) was a thing of wicked, playful beauty. With Haker Flaten in the driver’s seat, The Thing reinvented the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Art Star and Black Sabbath’s Iron Man as free jazz joyrides while introducing daring Lexington jazz nuts to the exquisite music of South African trumpeter Mongezi Feza by way of a blues lullaby version of You Think You Know Me. And, yes, there were also plenty of piant peeling group improvs, as was the case when The Thing (minus McPhee) returned to town to play the University of Kentucky’s Student Center Theatre in April 2007. 

“We base everything on the communication onstage there and then,” Haker Flaten told me in an interview prior to a November 2006 concert with The Electrics at the Mecca studio, although that sense of discovery certainly holds true for The Thing, as well.  “From there, of course, are references. You could probably say free jazz was one of them. Think about things happening in the ‘60s. What we do is based on that language. We have made our own jazz aesthetic out of it.”

The Times review is a wonderful read, although it’s interesting to note how far ahead of the curve Compton was to present Haker Flaten here years ago.

Outside the Spotlight was essentially dormant during 2008, especially after The Icehouse, the series’ primary venue, was shut down by the city. But Compton has announced two shows for May that signal OTS may well be roaring back to life.

Vanguard European saxophonist Peter Brotzmann, the artist whose 2002 concert at UK essentially gave birth to the series, will perform at the Red Mile Round Barn on May 4 with a trio that includes bassist Eric Revis (a 10-year member of the Branford Marsalis Quartet) and drummer Nasheet Waits (whose many credits include work with the late Blue Note piano giant Andrew Hill). Amazingly, this will be a free performance.

Then on May 12, Offonoff, a new European trio led by drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (Haker Flaten’s bandmate in The Thing) will help introduce a new venue being developed by Compton at the corner of Loudon and Limestone called Hop Hop.

Catch ‘em while they’re hot before the New York Times tells us how cool they are.

critic's pick 67

Two Canadians, both folk-based songwriters known for weaving personal, topical and spiritual yarns into distinctive musical tapestries, have released new double-disc concert recordings that are compelling career retrospectives as well as revealing snapshots of where their music sits today.

leonard cohen: live in london

leonard cohen: live in london

Recorded last July, Leonard Cohen’s Live in London is probably the more remarkable of the two only because it’s an album no one expected to hear. After a 1994 tour, Cohen retreated to a Zen monastery and became an ordained Buddhist monk. Now that’s what you call getting out of the business.

“I’ve studied deeply in the philosophies of the religions,” Cohen tells his audience near the onset of Live in London. “But cheerfulness kept breaking through.”

Reciting songs in a weathered, whispery and half-spoken baritone, Cohen is a gracious and subdued performer on the album and seems to inhabit fully the spiritual consciousness of his music, as in the ambient gospel reworking of Bird on a Wire. But the darkness is never shunned in Cohen’s world, as shown during the still-chilling The Future (“I have seen the future, brother. It is murder.”)

The distant romanticism and youthful drama from the decades-old studio versions of songs resurrected for Live on London have faded. But then, Cohen is now 74, a fact reflected with bittersweet whimsy during an introduction to the almost carnal Ain’t No Cure for Love. Of his previous visit to a London stage, Cohen tells the crowd, “I was 60 years old… just a kid with a crazy dream.”

But there is still incredible elegance to this music, even if mortality hangs in its shadow. Death and romance mingle on Take This Waltz, an ominous bass groove percolates throughout the still desolate First We Take Manhattan and, in the devastating finale of I Tried to Leave You, Cohen’s nine member band becomes a sort of doomsday cabaret that colors the grey remains of ruined love (“Goodnight, my darling. I hope you’re satisfied.”).

bruce cockburn: slice o' life

bruce cockburn: slice o'life

Bruce Cockburn is less mystical, more forgiving and equally emotive on his fourth concert album, Slice O’ Life. But this new musical journey has no guest list.

The solo acoustic setting, which Cockburn has employed regularly through the years, enhances the dynamics of his continually underappreciated guitar work (the extraordinary instrumental The End of All Rivers), illuminates the narratives of his political postcard songs (the still brilliant Tibetan Side of Town) and warms the sense of repose in more earthy jaunts (Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long).

The favorites are here, too, including Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had a Rocket Launcher. But so are a fistful of less obvious delights, such as the pensive romanticism of Pacing the Cage and the Americana implosion of Kit Carson.

Like Cohen, Cockburn, 63, also offers a few between-song sagas. The wildest, titled The Mercenary, deals with a summer job offer during college years to work as a gun runner in Central America. “I was 18 years old and didn’t have a very well developed sense of the moral implications.” Feeling “under-qualified,” Cockburn declined.

“And here we are, here we all are, as a result.”


The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) April 28, 2011 Byline: Melinda Johnson Arts editor By all rights, Dolores Brooks should be sitting in the first row of the Crouse Hinds Theater when the touring production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” opens next week. It’s not just that her son, Jeff Brooks, is playing to a crowd of family and friends from his hometown of Marathon, which is south of Cortland. Dolores Brooks played a role as a different sort of stage mother.

“It’s all my mother’s fault because she set my crib up next to the stage when I was a kid,” says Jeff Brooks, who appears as everything from a tavern keeper, dancing knife, salt and pepper shaker and a gargoyle in “Beauty.” Dolores Brooks was the music director for all the productions at Marathon Junior-Senior High School, says her son. She toted her toddler to rehearsals while Jeff’s dad, Richard, was coaching the school’s baseball and basketball teams. website insanity workout torrent

“I literally grew up on stage,” says Brooks during a phone interview. “So I think that the theater and I are a pretty perfect fit.” A heavy-breathing Brooks is talking about “Beauty and the Beast” after leading castmates in what he calls the “insanity” workout, a high cardio and interval training workout. No surprise in learning Brooks is also the production’s fight captain, handling everything to do with stage combat.

The 29-year-old actor describes himself as a “country boy” and a 2004 graduate of State University College at Cortland. This country boy, now based in New York City, has appeared off-Broadway in “Parenting 101,” traveled in a lengthy road show of “Oklahoma!” and now “Beauty and the Beast.” He has crisscrossed the country with “Beauty,” including a hop to Honolulu. Now, the troupe is in Charleston, S.C., and will make stops in Roanoke and Richmond, Va., before playing in Syracuse, May 3 to 8.

Brooks says the “Beauty and the Beast” touring show has been freshened up, with a different look and feel from its 13-year run on Broadway. “It’s still a magical piece,” he says of the story of the young Belle who transforms the Beast back to a prince.

During his six years as an actor, Brooks has spent time with tour productions. He knows the downside of life on the road — “You can’t get Indian food at three o’clock in the morning.” But the upside can’t be beat.

“You get that applause at the end of every show,” says Brooks. “Some of us are junkies for it.” Arts Editor Melinda Johnson can be reached at 470-2146 or

The details What: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” presented by Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series. site insanity workout torrent

When: May 3 to 8.

Where: Crouse Hinds Theater, John H. Mulroy Civic Center, 411 Montgomery St., Syracuse.

Tickets: $37, $52 and $62. Call Famous Artists 424-8210, Oncenter box office 435-2121 and Ticketmaster 800-745-3000.


Photos Joan Marcus DISNEY’s “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” will open next week in Syracuse. The national touring production, presented by Famous Artists, features Marathon native Jeff Brooks, who is also a graduate of the State University College at Cortland. He appears above in one of his many roles in the musical, standing at front right, as a tavernkeeper, with a white apron over his purple and green striped shirt.

BROOKS,who now lives in New York City, describes himself as a country boy. He has traveled widely with “Beauty and the Beast” and “Oklahoma!” and also appeared off-Broadway.

current listening 04/11

carrie rodriguez

carrie rodriguez: live in lousiville

Carrie Rodriguez: Live in Louisville (2009) – The timing is a bit odd for a new release of a 2007 performance by Rodriguez. After all, she has since issued the fine studio outing She Ain’t Me. But this 12 song concert session cut at Louisville’s Brown Theatre, where Rodriguez was opening for Lucinda Williams, gives a liberating electric jolt to mandolin/violin-led musings.   

cherry/vasconcelos/walcott: the codona trilogy

don cherry/nana vasconcelos/colin walcott: the codona trilogy

Don Cherry/Nana Vasconcelos/Collin Walcott: The Codona Trology (2009) – A real find. The Codona Trilogy gathers three Eastern inspired, free thinking albums cut for ECM between 1979 and 1983 by trumpeter Cherry, percussionist Vasconcelos and sitarist/percussionist Walcott. Cherry and Walcott have long since left us, but their acoustic explorations remain wondrous.

fairport convention and matthews southern comfort: live in maidstone 1970 (2009)

fairport convention and matthews southern comfort: live in maidstone 1970

Fairport Convention and Matthews Southern Comfort: Live in Maidstone 1970 (2009): A sublime timepiece of British folk-rock at its most industrious stage. Culled from a 1970 concert released last year on DVD, Maidstone gives a glimpse into the final days of the Fairport quintet featuring Richard Thompson and the lighter folk sway of ex-Fairport-er Ian Matthews’ then-new band.

chick corea and gary burton: lyric suite for sextet

chick corea and gary burton: lyric suite for sextet

Chick Corea and Gary Burton: Lyric Suite for Sextet (1983) – Probably the least known and definitely the least appreciated of the recorded collaborations between pianist Corea and vibraphonist Burton. While adding a string quartet to the Corea composed, seven part suite clouds some of duo’s conversational interplay, it balances a jazzy fluidity with chamber-style drama.

the very best of prestige records

the very best of prestige records

Various artists: The Very Best of Prestige Records (2009): Blue Note Records may be in the midst of its 70th anniversary celebration, but the Prestige label – home to several of the artists that also led sessions for Blue Note (Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis) – is marking its 60th birthday. This set is a primer for the party with two 70 minute discs of flawless vintage bop and swing that sells for about $15.

dame deluxe

exene cervenka of x

exene cervenka leads x back to the dame on june 16. photo by ali smith.

If anyone had any doubts about The Dame getting back on its feet as a leading local music venue – and just about everyone during the past six months has had a few – we suggest a scan of the club’s increasingly plump concert lineup for the rest of the spring.

During the past two weeks, the club has greatly beefed up its calendar with some serious surprises and several killer late additions. A few of those head our way as early as next weekend.

We’ll fill you in on all of the updates in a moment. But first, let’s review the exemplary local sounds that The Dame, 367 East Main Street, has planned for this weekend.

+ On Friday, the club again hosts one of the most reliable grooves Lexington has to offer: the always fun Latin chill of Big Maracas (8 p.m., $7). Bring your best ventilated dancing shoes out for this one. It’s always a late night when the Maracas get rolling.

+ On Saturday, Idaho, Alaska, which despite the name is made up entirely of local lads, presents soundscapes that fall somewhere between post-grunge and psychedelia on a bill that includes Nashville’s Kill the City and Lexington’s Latin Heat. (8 p.m., $5.)

Now, let’s quickly round up all of the newly announced shows that The Dame has on tap to celebrate spring in all of its rocking glory.

+ April 18: Raul Malo: The local solo debut of the Roy Orbison-esque Malo will be the singer’s first Lexington performance, as far as we can tell, since his former band, The Mavericks, played the long-defunct Breeding’s in the early ’90s. (8 p.m., $15.)

+ April 19: The English Beat: Only Dave Wakeling remains from the original Beat lineup that produced such glorious early-’80s post-punk pop hits as Save It for Later and I’ll Confess. That will do quite nicely, thank you. (8 p.m., $15.)

+ April 23: Shooter Jennings: Jennings last played The Dame a year ago, when the fate of its West Main location was sealed. When we spoke to him at the time, Jennings had lots to say about The Dame’s demolition. Too bad it’s mostly unprintable. (8 p.m., $15 in advance, $17 at the door.)

+ May 1: Amos Lee: He has opened a Rupp Arena concert for Norah Jones and a Freedom Hall show in Louisville for Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. Now, new generation Blue Note folk/soul songsmith Lee gets his own Lexington date. (8 p.m., $20)

+ May 3: Reverend Horton Heat: Actually, this one has been on the books for awhile. But we don’t want all the new Dame additions to overshadow this day-after-Derby show by the high priest of psychobilly. (8 p.m., $15).

+ May 5: Hoobastank: Go figure. The California band that hit big with the 2004 radio single The Reason playing The Dame? Just shows you that the club has something for just about everyone this spring. (8 p.m., $20.)

+ May 28: Todd Snider: A Snider show around these parts isn’t news. But this will be the first time the renegade Nashville song stylist will be in town after walking out on a WoodSongs taping last winter. (8 p.m., $15.)

+ June 6: The Dynamites: Straight out of Nashville comes this ultra old-school soul and funk troupe. Leading the charge will be singer Charles Walker, whose roots go back to Music City’s fertile but largely unheralded R&B scene of the late ’50s. (8 p.m., $7.)

+ June 16: X: Finally, we have the return of Los Angeles’ most acclaimed punk troupe. The years might have settled the temperaments of Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom and D.J. Bonebrake. But when X played the old Dame five years ago, the band stuck to music from its first four albums and rocked the house something fierce. (8 p.m., $20.)

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