Archive: May, 2012
The fifth annual Roots Picnic is at the Festival Pier this weekend, expanding to two days in 2012.
For me, the day to be there is Saturday, what with De La Soul, Danny Brown, Wale, St. Vincent, Tunes-Yards, a DJ set by James Murphy, and The Roots themselves. Though Sunday with Diplo, Major Lazer, Kid Cudi and The Roots backing up Rakim on the entirety of Paid in Full, his 1987 classic album with Eric B., is nothing to sneeze at. (Sunday night, ?uestlove will be spinning at the Picnic afterparty at Silk City on Spring Garden Street.)
Last week, the good people at Okay Player posted a Roots Picnic mixtape, assembled by DJ Low Budget, that blends together a great deal of the music that will be heard on the Pier this weekend, from Shabazz Palaces to Flosstradamus.
President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to Bob Dylan and a bunch of other worthies yesterday, including Toni Morrison.
The President said he read Morrison's Song of Solomon when he was "not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think... And I remember in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital."
According to Reuters, when Morrison received the award, "she smiled and embraced the President." Dylan played it rather coolly in comparison, wearing aviator sunglasses "and showing no emotion."
Folk music giant Doc Watson remains in critical condition in Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The 89 year old guitarist had colon surgery last week, and also suffered a fall recently, according to his daughter, Nancy. The web site Bluegrass Today reports that Watson remains in the hospital's ICU unit and that his family has been called to his side.
Last year, when Watson came to Glenside to play the Keswick Theater in a rare appearance in the Philadelphia area, I interviewed him for the Sunday Inquirer. When asked about his health, Watson said this:
"My health, for a man 88 years old, is exceptionally good. But my thinking - I'm stressed out. My little wife has been sick since last November. She had a stroke and she was in the hospital and now she's in rehab. We're trying to get her speech straightened out.
Doc Watson, the flat-picking guitar great from Deep Gap, N.C. who was one of the most revered and influential folk musicians of the the last half century, has died, according to his manager Mitchell Greenhill. He was 89.
Watson, who lost his sight as an infant, had an operation on his colon last week and also recently suffered a fall, his daughter Nancy said. at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. His Associated Press obituary is here.
The esteem with which Watson was held be his fellow musicians is perhaps bst expressed in Guy Clark's song "Dublin Blues," in which the Texas troubadour sang: "I have seen the David," Clark sings. "And the Mona Lisa, too / And I have heard Doc Watson play 'Columbus Stockade Blues.' "
Towards the end of the second night of Beyonce’s four-show Memorial Day weekend stand at the Revel casino and resort in Atlantic City on Saturday, as the hits were getting bigger and bigger, the singer and her 11 member all-female band turned their attention to a feminist club banger called “Run the World (Girls).”
With First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia seated in a box to her left at Revel‘s impressive 5050 capacity Ovation Hall, the pop and R & B world’s ruling Queen Bee declared herself - and her Sisters - to be “Smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children / And get back to business.”
For Beyonce, these shows at the $2.4 billion new resort whose success is thought to be so crucial to Atlantic City’s economic future were an opportunity to do just that. The 30 year old singer did not tour behind her 2011 album 4, and these are her first performances - she’s due back on stage Sunday and Monday nights - since giving birth in January to Blue Ivy Carter, her daughter with husband Jay-Z, the other half of the foremost power couple in pop music.
During the second show of her four night run at the brand new Revel resort and casino in Atlantic City on Saturday night, Beyonce Knowles sang her feminist club banger "Run The World (Girls)" and many other other crowd pleasers besides - yes, single ladies, she did "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" - in a highly energetic show in which both breathless booty-shaking workouts and respect-demanding heartsick ballads were delivered with almost frighteningly impassioned intensity.
But on this night, the better half of the most formidable couple in pop music wasn't even the most
powerful woman in the sold-out 5050 capacity room. Instead, that would have been Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States. A few minutes before Beyonce hit the stage, FLOTUS, whose presence at Revel had been rumored but unconfirmed since mid-afternoon, walked in with daughters Sasha and Malia in tow, waving to the crowd from a box to the right of the stage, in a sleeveless green dress.
Beyonce's two hour set included tributes to Donna Summer and Whitney Houston, and a cover of Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor." For her first shows since giving birth to her much celebrated daughter Blue Ivy Carter in January, the impressively svelte singer told the crowd she had lost 60 pounds and planned, after the show, to "get chocolate wasted."
New Jersey Gov. Christie and his family were also in the house for the show on the grand opening weekend for the $2.4 billion Revel, on which such high hopes for Atlantic City's economic future are pinned. After the show, the noted Springsteen, and now apparently Beyonce, fan tweeted his unequival conclusion that everything about the evening was "great": "Great show by Beyonce. Great energy, great dancing & she was in great voice. Great night for Atlantic City."
A full review of the show will be up online Sunday, and in Monday's Inquirer.
It's not all about Beyonce in Atlantic City this weekend. Okay, maybe it is. But there are a lot of other name-brand acts playing down the shore this Memorial Day weekend, besides Mrs. Jay-Z at the brand new Revel casino. Like Pitbull at the Borgata tonight, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Tropicana on Saturday and comedian Kevin Hart at the Etess Arena at the Trump Taj Mahal on Sunday.
Tonight, though, the House of Blues has Garbage, the Shirley Manson-fronted Butch Vig-featuring band that I once described as "bubble grunge" way back in the day. They've got a new album out called Not Your Kind Of People which is their first snce 2005's Bleed Like Me. Steve Klinge wrote a preview of tonight's show in today's Inquirer Wkened section here. The band as they appear today is on the left. "Only Happy When It Rains," the big, still great sounding radio hit from the band's 1995 self-titled debut, is below.
Show info here.
Philadelphia says Happy 71st Birthday to Bob Dylan at Rembrandt's tonight when 40 singers sing that many different songs written by the man born Robert Zimmerman on this day in 1941, starting with Kenn Kweder doing "Love Minus Zero / No Limit" at 7 and finishing off with Jan Zarkin's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" probably round about midnight.
This year's highlights will likely include organizer Jon Houlon's "Born In Time," as well as renditions such as John Wesley Harding's "Abandoned Love," the Philadelphia Ukelele Orchestra's "The Man In Me," Mia Johnson's "The Mighty Quinn," Andy Pratt's "Masters Of War," Patrick Berkery's "Jammin' Me" (co-written with Tom Petty) and Pete Rydberg's "Fourth Time Around." The annual event is in not its fourth but tenth time around, and is always a chaotic carnival, and a great way to sample local singer-songwriters, albeit not singing their own songs. Details here.
"I Want You" is below.