Archive for May, 2012

the prophet of san francisco

chuck prophet.

 As he prefaces his current North American tour with a swing of concert dates through Europe, Chuck Prophet finds himself in a position that might stifle your everyday pop/rock stylist.

The task at hand? Presenting songs from Temple Beautiful – a new album that serves as a loose-fitting homage to inhabitants, hangouts and happenings from the singer’s San Francisco homefront – to overseas audiences that might not understand English, much less the record’s very American storylines.

“Well, it’s a visceral thing,” Prophet explained by phone last week from Madrid. “When I introduce a certain song (in this case, the Tom Petty-ish The Left Hand and the Right Hand) is about the Mitchell Brothers, who ran a strip club where Hunter S. Thompson was night manager and where one brother, in kind of Cain and Abel fashion, wound up killing the other, I just tell them about (squabbling Oasis frontmen/siblings) Liam and Noel Gallagher. I also tell the audiences to pray for those guys because they clearly need each other more than they know.”

Consider that summation your ticket into Prophet’s compositional world. There, the stories are aloof, ironic and sometimes a bit sordid and the music is all expertly constructed pop and rock that borrows from Americana, folk, punk, country, garage rock and more.

“I can’t really explain it,” Prophet said of his songwriting prowess. “It’s mysterious. I mean, I write songs. Every once in awhile, I feel I even know what I’m doing. But at the same time, I don’t really know anything. I don’t know what it takes for a collection of songs to have that kind of charisma that just makes people feel good, songs that can almost play themselves on a bandstand.

“We kind of set out to make records that we like. And we thought other people would like them, too. That turned out not to be the case – at least, not in terms of connecting with a big audience.”

While he may not have toppled the pop charts, Prophet has enjoyed considerable critical praise that has gone hand-in-hand with lasting songwriting alliances with such like-minded artists as Alejandro Escovedo and fanbases devout enough to keep him touring regularly on both sides of the Atlantic.

But San Francisco has long served as Prophet’s base of operations. Temple Beautiful, in fact, was named after a famed club that was to the Bay Area punk scene of the early ‘80s what the Fillmore West was to the city’s comparatively mainstream rock community during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

“The inspiration for the record was originally just something that was downloaded from my subconscious,” Prophet remarked. “Then once I said out loud, ‘You know, this could be a San Francisco album,’ we just started following the clues. I mean, we knew we weren’t going to be telling the truth and making the record something for the tourist bureau. But we also knew every great myth needs a hero.

“I remember walking with my friend Kurt (Lipschutz, a San Francisco area poet, author and songwriter) and standing underneath the Willie Mays statue just outside the ball park. We just looked at it and thought, ‘He is a giant. We’ve got to get him in one of the songs (thus the anthemic Temple Beautiful tune Willie Mays is at Bat). It wasn’t all that original of an idea. But once we tapped into it, everything, all of the music, just became so much fun. There were too many ideas to work with, really.”

While San Francisco has long been his home, Prophet feels a marked kinship with Lexington. He has played here regularly since the release of his 1999 album The Hurting Business and cites the city as one of the first major locales outside of the Bay Area to embrace his music. Prophet remembers discussing his fondness for Lexington with Escovedo, whose solo career has also established a loyal local following over the past 15 years.

“Lexington was just one of those towns where the planets lined up for us. I was joking with Alejandro when we recorded Real Animal (Escovedo’s 2008 album) in Lexington. I said, ‘You know, Lexington is probably the first town that gave either us more than 500 bucks to play.’

“Really, we’re only as good as our audience some nights. But Lexington has always been there for us.”

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express perform at 8 p.m. May 16 at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. Tickets are $12. Call (859) 309-9499.

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critic’s pick 228

Ever since Supernatural gave Santana an entirely new commercial presence over a decade ago, the landmark Latin-rock ensemble has existed – at least, on record – as a high profile karaoke band playing second fiddle to a rotating lineup of guest singers. That was fine for Supernatural, but the formula soon became as tired as the material, leaving the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers – not to mention its namesake guitarist – in creative limbo. Sure, Carlos Santana loved to preach the spiritual musical gospel of John Coltrane and Miles Davis in interviews. But on record, his band’s music had turned to cosmic schlock.

Shape Shifter, Santana’s best album in nearly 25 years (and its 36th album overall), is a modest triumph because it gives a gag order to the guest list. Aside from Eres La Luz – led by the Latin verses of vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas, a robust mambo-flavored groove and the ying-yang of acoustic and electric guitar breaks from Mr. Carlos – the entire album is instrumental.

First things first. Those hoping for a return to the potent Latin-jazz fusion sound of early Santana classics like Abraxas and Caravanserai should probably bypass Shape Shifter. There are subtle echoes of those formidable works in Mr. Szabo, an ode to Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo whose Gypsy Queen instrumental has remained a performance staple in the Santana repertoire since Abraxas was released in 1970. It sails discreetly on a cushion of congas with a decidedly Spanish guitar melody (and a subsequent acoustic solo) leading the breezy charge. There is also a touch of Santana’s vintage Jingo beat behind the electric groove of Nomad. Mostly, though, Shape Shifter operates from a slicker base.

Undercutting much of the album are numerous keyboard backdrops that give the music a purposely – if not slightly overwrought – celestial feel.

Ultimately, your acceptance of Shape Shifter depends on your tolerance of these New Age accents. Most of the time, Santana uses these ideas strictly as orchestration. After all, when your guitar sound is this commanding, why yield to anything else?

Indicative of this sleek approach is Macumba in Budapest, which surrounds another summery acoustic lead before the tune transforms into an absorbing rhumba that gives longtime percussionists Raul Rekow and Karl Perazzo room to move. Also engaging is a cover of Toure Kunda’s Dom, where electric guitar moves from muted lyricism to a far more uninhibited war cry over a march-like processional of synths and the meaty support of drummer Dennis Chambers.

So, no, Shape Shifter is not a nostalgia ride. But it does serve as a welcome reminder of what power and ingenuity one of the world’s most celebrated guitarists can exhibit once he tells his troupe of star singers to button their lips.

donald "duck" dunn, 1941-2012

donald "duck" dunn

donald "duck" dunn

A few short weeks ago, in the wake of Levon Helm’s death, I found myself drawn to a 1977 album called Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars. Aside from bringing back fond college memories, it was the first Helm record I reached for that didn’t involve The Band. As the title suggests, Helm’s ensemble was a collection of blues, rock and soul celebs that included Dr..John, Paul Butterfield and three quarters of Booker T. and the MGs – keyboardist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper and a pipe-smoking, all business bass player by the name of Donald “Duck” Dunn.

A few short weeks ago, in the wake of Levon Helm’s death, I found myself drawn to a 1977 album called Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars. Aside from bringing back fond college memories, it was the first Helm record I reached for that didn’t involve The Band. As the title suggests, Helm’s ensemble was a collection of blues, rock and soul celebs that included Dr..John, Paul Butterfield and three quarters of Booker T. and the MGs – keyboardist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper and a pipe-smoking, all business bass player by the name of Donald “Duck” Dunn.

Dunn died yesterday while performing with Cropper in Japan at age 70.

 If you grew up in the ‘60s, Dunn’s name was synonymous with Memphis soul, whether it was through the great MGs recordings (the band’s Christmas album remains a personal holiday favorite to this day) or the soul artists he toured and recorded with – giants like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett.

 If you went to college in the late ‘70s, as I did, you experienced Dunn and Cropper reinvented as the rhythm section for The Blues Brothers, the Saturday Night Live spinoff act that became an ultra-respectful homage to blues and R&B tradition culminating in the hysterical 1980 movie of the same name.

As I recall, Dunn had exactly one spoken line in The Blue Brothers, and it was a beaut. And as The Musical Box is a family blog, we can’t repeat it.

Oddly enough, the only time I got to see Dunn live was in 1985 as a member of Eric Clapton’s band. Whether Clapton was playing the blues or bowing to pop culture pressure, Dunn was a soulful and steadfast presence.

And so tonight, as it was still sitting on my desk, I took another listen to Levon Helm and the RCO Stars and cherished again the incomparable voice, which we lost last month, and one of the sweetest electric bass sounds God ever put on Earth, which we lost yesterday.

Dunn died yesterday while performing with Cropper in Japan at age 70.

If you grew up in the ‘60s, Dunn’s name was synonymous with Memphis soul, whether it was through the great MGs recordings (the band’s Christmas album remains a personal holiday favorite to this day) or the soul artists he toured and recorded with – giants like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett.

If you went to college in the late ‘70s, as I did, you experienced Dunn and Cropper reinvented as the rhythm section for The Blues Brothers, the Saturday Night Live spinoff act that became an ultra-respectful homage to blues and R&B tradition culminating in the hysterical 1980 movie of the same name.

As I recall, Dunn had exactly one spoken line in The Blue Brothers, and it was a beaut. And as The Musical Box is a family blog, we can’t repeat it.

Oddly enough, the only time I got to see Dunn live was in 1985 as a member of Eric Clapton’s band. Whether Clapton was playing the blues or bowing to pop culture pressure, Dunn was a soulful and steadfast presence.

And so tonight, as it was still sitting on my desk, I took another listen to Levon Helm and the RCO Stars and cherished again the incomparable voice, which we lost last month, and one of the sweetest electric bass sounds God ever put on Earth, which we lost yesterday.

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in performance: joe bonamassa

joe bonamassa.

 Just before ripping into a two song encore last night at Rupp Arena – the psychedelic tinged title tune to his forthcoming Driving Towards the Daylight album and the ZZ Top meat-and-potatoes boogie anthem Just Got Paid – guitar dynamo Joe Bonamassa rattled off a few career accomplishments he considered integral to forging a lasting fan base.

He mentioned his prolific recording history (13 studio albums in under 12 years), a non-stop touring schedule (which translated into roughly six world tours) and a commercial visibility that yielded “zero hits.”

The records and tours seemed almost like perfunctory statistics in the recitation. But the hitless streak produced a devilish grin from the guitarist masking, in all likelihood, a sense of pride in attaining a high-profile niche in the modern blues world without conventional commercial promotion.

Such a feat seemed all the more remarkable if you used last night’s tireless 2 ¼ hour performance as a barometer. The set was long on dynamics with terse, rockish guitar workouts swiftly shifting places with quieter passages of slow traditional blues and even blasts of ambient-flavored fusion. And all of it was refreshingly accessible.

Bonamassa purposely sidestepped the most obvious (and perhaps most abused) American blues-based rock inspiration – namely, Jimi Hendrix – during the performance and let his fingers channel an encyclopedia of predominantly British-based blues and blues-rock spirits. In fact, one of the show’s big delights was playing what was, in effect, the overseas edition of Spot the Influence with his repertoire.

The humid boogie jam of the show-opening Slow Train echoed the great late ‘60s albums of Savoy Brown. The fluid slow blues glow of Midnight Blues brought founding Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green to mind. And the jubilant, chunky chords within Who’s Been Talking had Jimmy Page written all over them.

The romps weren’t solely confined to the ways of Old England. Aside from the aforementioned ZZ Top finale, a stab at Young Man Blues let the thunder of The Who’s popular ‘70s version briefly deflate for a flourish of swing that referenced the tune’s composer, Mose Allison. There were also several instances, especially during the slow blues numbers, where the subtle harmonies between guitar and organ neatly reflected the elegant urgency of American blues giant Otis Rush.

One bit of trivia: this was Bonamassa’s first show at Rupp (before a crowd of 1,500, a modest turnout even for the venue’s half-house seating set-up). But among his bandmates was bassist Carmine Rojas, who played Rupp 25 years ago in a band led by David Bowie that included two other versed guitarslingers: Carlos Alomar and Peter Frampton.

For the record, Bonamassa would have been 10 years old at the time. No doubt he was already up to his guitar neck in the ways, means and riffs of British blues. 

big bonamassa

joe bonamassa.

Bet you didn’t think Lexington had anything in common with St. Petersburg, Russia. That it does is just one factoid that surfaced during a Derby Day phone chat with Joe Bonamassa.

Of course, it goes without saying the global guitar hero plays a significant role in that linkage. Specifically, Bonamassa managed to sellout significant venues on his first visit to both cities. In our case, the event came two years ago, when he filled the Opera House with little promotion and next to no radio airplay.

“St. Petersburg…same situation as you guys,” Bonamassa said. “Sold out the place the first time in. People were singing songs back to us in both places, too. I mean, that’s awesome. You’re just left going, ‘Dude, this is pretty crazy.’”

Lexington gets Round 2 tonight when the guitarist plays Rupp Arena. While the venue will use a half-house seating configuration for the performance, there is still no mistaking the fact that Bonamassa will be playing the big house.

“It’s been a nice progression over the years,” Bonamassa said of his continually mounting popularity. “It’s just been this nice organic build. Nothing happened overnight and there is still a long ways to go. But everything is still fresh for me. It’s still exciting. And I like my 13th album even more than my first. With a lot of artists, the opposite is the case.”

Bonamassa’s 13th album (including a 2011 collaborative effort with Beth Hart and two records with the blues-rock supergroup Black Country Communion) is Driving Towards the Daylight. Due out May 22, the recording is something of a return-to-form for Bonamassa. Its cover material boasts a broad stylistic reach – from roots music icons Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon to comparatively contemporary stylists such as Tom Waits, Buddy Miller, Bill Withers and Jimmy Barnes. Yet, the dominate sound on the record belongs to the blues music that placed Bonamassa onstage at age 12 with the likes of B.B. King.

“This album was a real benchmark for us. We just had a lot of fun making it.”

But to call Driving Towards the Daylight a blues record is any conventional or even traditional sense is misleading. Bonamassa is a major devotee of the electric British blues that came to North America in the wake of John Mayall’s first Bluesbreakers bands of the 1960s.

An exceptional case-in-point is Daylight’s rendition of the Johnson blues classic Stones in My Passway. Instead of the wiry blues sway the song is rooted in, Bonamassa plugs into a chunky electric grind that immediately brings to mind the playing of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

“That’s just a different take on a Robert Johnson tune,” Bonamassa said. “It’s all in a Zep mode, for sure. I imagined how Led Zeppelin would sound doing that song. I used a 12 string – a 12 string electric double neck guitar, the kind Jimmy Page used to play. But playing slide on it gave the song a kind of Leadbelly feel. In the end, it became this big, stomping thing.”

On a more modern overseas roots-rock tip comes A Place in My Heart, a rich, slow-blues song penned by longtime Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden but played with the rockish intensity of Irish guitarist Gary Moore, who died last year.

“We just tried to make that one our homage to Mr. Moore,” Bonamassa said.

Incorporating all of those inspirations is the album-opening Bonamassa original Dislocated Boy, where churchy keyboards meet a steadfast guitar charge to trigger a blues-rock drive straight out of 1971.

“That came from the same school as the song The Ballad of John Henry (the title tune to Bonamassa’s 2009 folk-blues oriented album). I wrote it really quick and it just came together – this big, swampy blues song. I wish they all came that fast.”

With Daylight slated to hit stores just before Memorial Day weekend, it would seem a given that Bonamassa will spend much of the summer on the road promoting it. But given how he has spent the entire first half of 2012 touring, the summer months will serve as a vacation. Once fall arrives, though, Bonamassa will embark on a short acoustic tour of Europe (which will be filmed for a DVD) and then plug in for shows in Southeast Asia, Australia and Japan, further nurturing an international fanbase that has remained loyal throughout his career.

“I made my notoriety overseas,” he said. “A lot of times, I’m still viewed in this country as an international artist. Not a day goes by when somebody goes, ‘Oh, thank you for coming all the way from London to play here.’ And I’m like, ‘Dude. I live in California. I’m American.’ But to be thought of as British? Hey, that’s pretty cool, too.”

Joe Bonamassa performs at 8 tonight at Rupp Arena. Tickets are $51, $61, $71and $81. Call (859) 233-3535 or (800) 745-3000.

in performance: montgomery gentry/laura bell bundy

montgomery gentry: eddie montgomery, troy gentry

 The better portion of Montgomery Gentry’s very rocking country performance last night at Buster’s seemed to reflect a business-as-usual approach.

There were the bountiful radio hits built around Eddie Montgomery’s husky singing, Troy Gentry’s more adaptable high tenor vocals and a series of hearty melodic hooks and power chords ignited by an arsenal of four guitarists. Also on display were the requisite array of blue collar reflections, hard partying themes and patriotic boasts.

At its weaker moments – of which there were very few – those practices merged into a chest beating anthem from the duo’s new Rebels on the Run album called Damn Right I Am, which Gentry dedicated to “the hardcore Americans” in the crowd. Sort of makes you wonder what that made the patrons that didn’t measure up. Scandinavian?

All pride aside, most of the rebel yelling possessed a good-hearted vibe. Much of that could have been attributed to the fact that this was a rare homecoming performance by the duo, which has forged a lasting national fanbase since breaking out of the Lexington bar scene 15 years ago. But the good spirits could also be attributed to the performance agenda. This was an evening where Kentucky country music called on a Kentucky country cause. Specifically, the performance was a benefit to raise relief funds for victims of the storm and tornado outbreak that hit the state hard in early March.

laura bell bundy.

So, yes, it was difficult not to find a very honest sentimentalism last night in songs like Where I Come From, the ballad Lucky Man and the inevitable set closer My Town, which teamed Montgomery Gentry with fellow Kentucky country (by way of Broadway) star Laura Bell Bundy.

The capacity crowd, of course, loved every minute, from the more elemental honky stride of Ain’t No Law Against That to the guitar army stampede of Hillbilly Shoes. There were a few instances where the material got a little too derivative for its own good. The new Work Hard, Play Harder, for example, came across as a thinly veiled rewrite of Hell Yeah, which came just a few tunes earlier in the set. But by the time encore versions of One in Every Crowd and Gone wound the show down, the homecoming feel had become shatterproof.

In contrast to Montgomery Gentry’s band-fortified machismo, Bundy’s hour-long opening set was surprisingly elemental.

Backed only by a guitarist and a fiddler that doubled on mandolin, she presented an engaging sampler of predominantly new songs (including the ballad When the Lightning Strikes) that complimented the upper range of her conversational singing. Covers (9 to 5, Respect) fleshed out a set that required only one onstage costume change – a switch from white boots to tap shoes for Giddy on Up.

Montgomery Gentry may have let the thunder roll during its performance. But leave it to Bundy to accent the benefit’s abundantly good intentions with some hometown hoofing.

critic’s pick 227

By now, New Orleans’ famed Dirty Dozen Brass Band has become so versed in Crescent City jazz sass and second line funk that it can afford to fly in the face of tradition every now and then.

Take Tomorrow, the leadoff track to the ensemble’s ultra-fun new Twenty Dozen album. After being called to attention with an alert drum roll and a jittery guitar groove, the horns gather over a sunny, soulful strut that hints more at ska and calypso that it does at the street music conventions of the band’s home turf. But at it cruises to a finish, the percussion starts in on a double-time riff and the party takes on a gospel-esque feel. The saints, it seems, can’t keep from marching in on the Dirty Dozen’s fun.

No one can accuse the Dirty Dozen of being great mathematicians this time out. While title suggests a milestone, Twenty Dozen refers neither to the band’s longevity (which now exceeds 35 years) nor to the number of albums it has made (this is just its 12th). And if you want to get down to specifics, the official band roster these days lists only seven players. But there is a very different strength of numbers at work in Twenty Dozen.

For starters, there is no running theme to the record, as was previously the case with Jelly (a Jelly Roll Morton tribute), Funeral for a Friend (a splendid collection of spirituals) and What’s Going On (a re-imagining of Marvin Gaye’s classic 1971 album as a post-Katrina prayer). The guest list is also refreshingly limited this time to lesser known but supremely soulful players like Nigel Hall, who provides the effervescent Hammond organ voice on Tomorrow, the Booker T. Jones-flavored soul meditation Git Up and the Tower of Power-esque We Gon’ Roll.

In short, Twenty Dozen is the most unencumbered Dirty Dozen album in ages. The innovations are still plentiful, though. Trippin’ Inside a Bubble transforms the group’s soul-savvy sound into a quasi-rhumba, Jook lets the brass move within a spicier Carribean melody, Best of All playfully embraces Afro-Pop and the 2007 Rhianna hit Don’t Stop the Music, the album’s biggest surprise, is reinvented with a bounty of street parade smarts.

But Paul Babarin’s Second Line, E-Flat Blues and perhaps the inevitable When the Saints Go Marching In place the band right back in the soulful center of Congo Square.

The album concludes with Dirty Old Man, an amusing vehicle for baritone sax man Roger Lewis that, despite serving as a Dirty Dozen concert staple for ages, has never appeared on an album until now. It’s fitting coda for Twenty Dozen’s summery jubilance and self-contained splendor. 

in performance: old 97s

old 97s: philip peeples, ken bethea, rhett miller and murry hammond. photo by paul moore.

When all was said and done with the Old 97s’ turbo charged, two hour Derby Eve performance last night at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville, the MVP turned out to be drummer Philip Peeples. And it wasn’t solely because he piloted the band’s hook-laden, Americana-informed pop and rock gems like Keith Moon would have had he been reared in Central Texas. No, Peeples proved himself in a big way with a display of emergent rhythmic ingenuity.

Here’s what happened. No sooner did the Old 97s’full quartet lineup take on the power pop charge of The Villain than all of Headliners went dark. For roughly two minutes, there was no amplification and no lights (save for emergency lamps). The audience was informed later that lightning from the latest in a series of storms to hit Louisville yesterday was the culprit. But as power was being restored, the onstage party continued by way of a solitary groove maintained by Peeples on drums. When electricity flowed again, the Old 97s kicked back into action without, literally, missing a beat.

That was the crowning touch to a wonderfully energetic and organic evening of roots-savvy indie pop that ran from the Beatles-esque lyricism of I’m a Trainwreck to the yodeling sea chantey charm of White Port to the big beat swagger of Every Night is Friday Night (Without You).

All three tunes came from the recent two volume Old 97s opus The Grand Theatre (released as two separate albums in 2010 and 2011). These very workmanlike recordings formed the backbone of last night’s repertoire. Other Grand highlights included Champaign, Illinois, a joyous electric ode to an oddly appropriated Midwestern purgatory, and Brown Haired Daughter, a showcase for both the band’s catalog of melodic hooks and vocalist Rhett Miller’s knack for illuminating every one of them.

The setlist was bookended by oldies, however. The show opened with the similarly hook friendly 504, which stemmed back to the Old 97s’ 1994 debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome. The program wound down with a hearty encore segment that started with solo Miller treatments of the Johnny Cash favorite (and the band’s namesake song) Wreck of the Old 97 and an intriguing medley of The Pixies’ Wave of Mutilation and The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated. The encore continued with a full band reading of the Marty Robbins staple El Paso and bassist Murry Hammond’s faithful (and geographically appropriate) rendition of Grandpa Jones’ Eight More Miles to Louisville. Huge, hammering performances of the band originals Barrier Reef and Time Bomb closed out a Derby Eve blast that even Mother Nature couldn’t contain.

adam yauch (MCA), 1964-2012

adam yauch

 It’s astonishing to think that 25 years have passed since Fight for Your Right (to Party) introduced the world to the rap and roll of the Beastie Boys. Despite the song’s inescapable TV and radio presence during the summer of 1986, many skeptics dismissed the Brooklyn trio has a faddish throwaway. Yet here we are, a quarter century later. The Beastie Boys have made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Adam Yauch, MCA to his fans, has left us.

After a three year battle with cancer, Yauch died this morning. He was 47.

In many ways, Yauch, a devout Buddhist, was the Beasties’ utility man. He directed many of their videos, founded the Milarepa Fund, which, in turn, organized the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996 and numerous other benefits including the post 9/11 organization New York Association for New Americans.

But when I think of Yauch and his Beastie bros, the image that first comes to mind is of the group in their best Starsky & Hutch regalia for the 1994 music video to Sabotage, a mesh of rap immediacy and frazzled guitar rock with a generous touch of humor. Behind that, my favorite Beastie Boys TV moment came when the three departed from rap altogether and played as a straight up rock trio (with Yauch on bass) behind Elvis Costello during a blazing version of Radio Radio for Saturday Night Live’s 25th Anniversary special in 1999.

In short, the Beasties fought for the right to party but were never anyone’s fool. The crossroads of rap and rock – and perhaps the entire evolution of ’80s and ‘90s pop – would have been immeasurably duller had Yauch and his pals not thrown their Brooklyn street music smarts into the mix.

“I think every person has the ability to effect change,” Yauch said in an interview with PBS. “I think we’re often led to believe that just celebrities have some ability to effect change. But what’s important to realize is that every one of us affects the world constantly through our actions, through our every smallest action, through our every thought, our every word, the way that we interact with other people. We’re constantly affecting the world.”

George D. Ellis, key figure in Catholic education ; Feb. 6, 1925 — June 10, 2010

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) June 15, 2010 George D. Ellis of Hamburg, who was part of several “firsts” in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s secondary education system, died Thursday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center from complications of diabetes. He was 85.

Born in Buffalo’s Old First Ward, Mr. Ellis graduated from Canisius High School and was nicknamed “Ace” because of his athletic prowess in baseball and basketball. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces after high school and served as a crew member aboard B-29 bombers during World War II. site canisius high school

After the war, Mr. Ellis returned to Buffalo and graduated from Canisius College. He and five Franciscan Friars subsequently became the first faculty of Bishop Timon High School. go to web site canisius high school

Mr. Ellis initially taught American history but switched to business subjects and served as chairman of the school’s business department until his retirement in 1985.

Besides teaching, Mr. Ellis became the school’s first basketball coach and led his teams to two league championships, as well as the coveted Manhattan College Cup in 1954. He was elected to the Bishop Timon Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Canisius High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.

Mr. Ellis also served several years as a guidance counselor at Bishop Timon. His contributions to Franciscan education were recognized with his investiture into the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

With a growing family to support, Mr. Ellis left coaching to take on another full-time job as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He retired from the railroad in 1993.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, the former Dolores Norwick; three sons, Timothy, Patrick and George D. Jr.; and a daughter, Nancy Faucett.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at10 a.m. Wednesday in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 3148 Abbott Road, Hamburg.

[HABUDA]

the loudest derby eve party on earth

godsmack: shannon larkin, sully erna, robbie merrill and tony rombola.

What ensues when two fiercely rocking and immensely popular metal bands that practically grew up together in different corners of the same New England state hit the road together for a cross country tour?

What results when said tour makes its way to Rupp Arena for what will likely be the largest and indisputably loudest Derby Eve party in the state?

Chaos, that’s what – Mass Chaos. That’s the name of the ear-crunching concert trek co-headlined by Godsmack and Staind that hits Rupp Arena tonight.

Both bands boomed out of Massachusetts in the mid ‘90s, subsequently sending nearly two dozen songs into the Top 10. Their combined global record sales exceed the 35 million mark. Understandably, both bands consider each other family. But Godsmack frontman Sully Erna, during a recent telephone news conference, wasn’t about to wax sentimental about the tour.

“Yeah, our paths cross way too often,” Erna said jokingly of Godsmack’s ties with Staind. “I can’t stand any of these guys.

“No, it’s good. Listen, we’re New England brothers, man. We’ve been playing together since even before we were signed. I mean, the guys get along. So I’m just anticipating it’s going to be a really fun tour. I don’t see any problems.”

staind:

staind: mike mushok, johnny april and aaron lewis.

For Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, the Mass Chaos Tour is a payoff of sorts for two New England bands that came up through the ranks together before finding airplay, as well as a nationwide fanbase, as the ‘90s drew to a close.

I remember hearing those guys locally on the radio,” Mushok said of Godsmack. “We were trying to get our stuff played right around the same time. I think we played a Warped Tour on the local stage together and we did some show in Springfield together. Then we didn’t really see each other until we were about to put out our second record (1999’s Dysfuction). Theirs (Godsmack’s 2000 double-platinum selling sophomore album Awake) had just come out, we did a tour together and really became good friends. We stayed in touch for a bunch of years after that but kind of lost track of each other. So I just thought (this tour) would be a great way to reunite with these guys.”

For Godsmack, the Mass Chaos Tour is also a means to promote the band’s first official concert album. Titled Live & Inspired, the double disc set (due out May 15) comes loaded with hits (among them, Straight Outta Here, Awake and I Stand Alone) from a 2011 performance in Detroit as well as a bonus studio disc of four cover tunes (Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way, Pink Floyd’s Time, The Beatles’ Come Together and Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters).

”It’s a live record from Detroit Rock City that we thought was a very exceptional show for us,” Erna said. “We actually recorded the whole tour and were going to do a compilation, but I don’t know. The more we looked at this Detroit show, the more we figured out that it was a really good show for us. And it’s always a great audience, as any rock band will tell you. It’s just a special kind of fanbase that they have there. They live up to their reputation.”

Similarly, Godsmack will favor the familiar over new music on the Mass Chaos Tour. “What we’ve been known for is the live show,” Erna said. “So it’s nice to capture that finally and put together this CD. I think we just have the mentality now of going out for kind of a greatest hits tour instead of supporting new music. So we’re putting together a really fun set with the best songs we can, the most energetic songs that we can, and stuff that we feel is going to be the most interactive for the audience. This is actually kind of a vacation for us in the sense there’s no real hard work behind prepping for a new record and all that stuff. This is kind of, ‘Let get loose and have fun with it.’”

As for Staind, the Mass Chaos Tour caps off a year that saw a solo record from lead singer Aaron Lewis, a new drummer (Sal Giancarelli replacing Jon Wysocki) and a new self-titled album.

“Making the record was pretty tough,” Mushok said. “I mean, losing Jon along the way wasn’t easy. We had a deadline to meet for the label. Aaron put up the solo record. But we’re all adults. We’ve been able to maintain this for a long time. You have to know what’s important to you. Between Johnny (April, Staind’s longtime bassist), Aaron, and myself, we can say pretty much what we want to each other and realize that the band is what’s important.

“As far as the tour goes, we’re just going to go out there and do our thing.”

Godsmack, Staind, Black Stone Cherry and Brook Royal perform at 6:30 tonight at Rupp Arena. Tickets are $39.50 and $45. Call (859) 233-3535, (800) 745-3000.

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