Tuesday, January 27, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 1:01 PM
"30th October 1972: British rock-blues singer Joe Cocker and his friend Eileen Webster arriving at Los Angeles airport. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)" ("Getty Images")

I never saw Joe Cocker perform live myself, and he didn't hit the generational bullseye for me the way he did for so many counterculture-era music fans who came of age with him in late 1960s and early 1970s.

But the British singer who died on Monday at age 70 from lung cancer and was known for his covers of Traffic's "Feelin' Alright" and The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends" hit the soul-rock sweet spot for many. 

Among his ardent fans was Inquirer reader Rob Weiss, who sent me a passionate appreciation of Cocker, and an excellent remembrance of seeing him play the Atlantic City Pop Festival in 1969, as well as Woodstock and the old Electric Factory, among other venues.

POSTED: Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:56 AM

Enough with the Stephen Colbert farewell: We'll meet him again, don't know where, don't know when. There's another tearful goodbye happening on late night TV tonight, and this one has more of an air of finality about it.

Darlene Love will sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," perhaps the greatest of Christmas songs, for the last time on The Late Night Show with David Letterman tonight. Love originally cut the song with Phil Spector (who wrote it with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry) in 1963, and her career revival began whe she started the annual tradition of signing it on Letterman in 1986. Out of loyalty to Dave and Paul Shaffer, Love has said she won't reprise it for any other late night talk show host, so this is it.

Watch a mash-up of Love-Letterman "Christmas"'s through the years below.

POSTED: Thursday, December 18, 2014, 11:14 AM

The weekend after the massive Firefly Music Festival in Delaware this June, there will be a country music fest of similar proportion taking over The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway.

It's called the Big Barrel Country Music Festival, and it'll happen the weekend of June 26-28. Headliners are Carrie Underwood plus wife and husband team Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. The festival is presented by Firefly and Stagecoach, the latter being the country fest that takes places in Indio, Calif. the week after the Coachella festival goes down in the desert each spring.

As with that arrangement, this one makes perfect logistical sense: As long as you've got all those stages and tents set up, why not use them again the next weekend? It's also a logical turn of events because Red Frog Events which puts on the fest growing Firefly, which drew 80,000 people a day this year, has entered into a joint venture with Golden Voice, the West Coast promoter that books both Coachella and Stagecoach. 

POSTED: Thursday, December 18, 2014, 8:34 AM
Blind Boys of Alabama.

The bells are jingling and ring-ting-tingling on the 2014 Christmas music playlist that you'll find below, even if though there aren't any "Sleigh Bells" within earshot.

It kicks off with my favorite new single artist - or in this case, double artist - holiday album of the year, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Taj Mahal's Talking Christmas, and includes pop stars of the moment Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor and Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, as well as an assortment of R & B, jazz, choral music and country acts.

The streaming Spotify list only includes new recorded holday songs, and mostly corresponds to the annotated playlist you'll find in Thursday's Inquirer and on philly.com here. In cases where the songs were not available  on Spotify, they're not indluded, but I've substituted for those with additional tunes from, maong others, the Xmas Men (Robert Earl Keen's band), Trez Songz, and Renee Fleming and Rufus Wainwright, who got didn't make the cut in the paper. Plus there's a surprise bonus spoken word track at the end.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 8:36 AM
Singer/songwriter Joan Jett performs at The 6th Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit presented by Guitar Center at the Hammerstein Ballroom on October 23, 2014 in New York City. (Getty Images for Little Kids Roc)

The 2015 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced.

The six winners are: California pop punk band Green Day, "I Love Rock 'n Roll" femme rock trailblazers Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, 1970s soul man Bill Withers, 1960s standouts The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 1980s Texas bluesmen Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, and songwriting giant Lou Reed, who's already in with the Velvet Undergound, but will be inducted as a solo artist.  The latter three are posthumous inductees.

It's always good to have a Beatle avalable at the induction ceremony, which will be held in Cleveland in April, and Ringo Starr will get a special award for "musical excellence." Also, The "5" Royales, the 1950s North Carolina vocal group whose songs "Think" and "Dedicated To The One I Love" were later hits for The Shirelles and James Brown, respectively, are going in as an early influence.

POSTED: Sunday, December 14, 2014, 1:00 PM
The 'Quality Holiday Revue' T-shirt.

“Nick the Knife” is one of Nick Lowe’s nicknames, and “Basher” another, for the way the sharp-witted Brit efficiently pounded out the classic albums he produced for Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, among others, that helped define the 1970s and early 1980s pub-rock and New Wave rock eras.

Lowe was all smooth and suave, however, when he played the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood on Saturday, when the blade-thin frosty haired songwriter brought his Quality Holiday Revue to the Camden County venue, where he was backed by Mexican wrestling mask-wearing instrumental guitar band Los Straitjackets.

Effortless understatement has been the the 65 year old guitarist’s modus operandi during the underrated mellow-down-easy stage of his career that began with The Impossible Bird in 1994.

POSTED: Friday, December 12, 2014, 7:30 PM
D'Angelo performing at Made In America last year. (Photo by Colin Kerrigan)

It's been 14 years since the releae of Voodoo, the sexy, simmering second album by D'Angelo, the soul singing sar born Michael Eugene Archer. It's seems like it's been year's since Questlove, D'Angelo's Soulquarian right hand man, started saying the album, long rumored to be called James River, was "99% done."

Now apparently, it is. On Friday afternoon it was announced that this Sunday in New York, the entire album, now called Black Messiah will be previewed in an event hosted by writer Nelson George. No official announcement has been made, but there's a Tweet being shared around the web with a picture of what seems to be the album cover with Tuesday's date attached.

More clues: The singer's management company posted the video trailer you see below, and Pitchfork reports mystery posters are pasted on walls in Brooklyn with the intriguingly provocative lyric: "All we wanted was a chance to talk / 'Stead we only got outlined in chalk."

POSTED: Friday, December 12, 2014, 3:23 PM
Lana Del Rey.

The Inquirer's year end music coverage is coming in this Sunday's Live Life Love A&E section. My top ten albums and an annotated songs of the year playlist will be in there, along with classical music coverage from David Patrick Stearns and a best of Americana list from roots-rock maven Nick Cristiano.

To read all the insightful and highly entertaining copy, you'll have to wait until Sunday. But in the meantime, here's a Songs of 2014 streaming playlist, with a few extras thrown in to make up for the artists included in the Sunday coverage that don't play nice with Spotify.  

Previously: Grammmy nominees announced Follow In The Mix on Twitter

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Reach Dan at ddeluca@phillynews.com.

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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