Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, March 3, 2014, 1:43 PM
Janelle Monae.

The lineup for the 7th annual Roots Picnic has been announced.

The unoffical kickoff to the summer music season, which for the first time will take place  in May, will feature Snoop Dogg (not Lion), backed by The Roots, as well as Janelle Monae, The War On Drugs, Action Bronson, Biz Markie, Araab Muzik, A$AP Ferg, Rudimental and many more.

The all day affair will happen at the Festival Pier on May 31.

POSTED: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 10:54 AM
Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams in "American Hustle."

No Academy Awards are given away for best use of music in a movie. They will only hand out Oscars on Sunday for best song and best score, categories increasingly less relevant to how movies are experienced than the way songs are woven in a film's narrative flow.

Three excellent examples of how that is done are competing for best picture on Sunday: Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street, David O. Russell's American Hustle and Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave.

While wildly divergent in style and tone, all three strive to say something serious about greed and deceit (if not evil) in American life, and all three use music as a crucial storytelling tool. (Though none of them are nominated in the Oscar music categories.)

POSTED: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 10:37 AM
Bleeding Rainbow.

South by Southwest is almost upon us, with the Film and Interactive festival kicking off in Austin, Texas on March 7, and the Music festival happening the following week.

Visit Philadelphia, the city's tourist promotion office that used to be known as the Great Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, will be presenting a Philly branded stage with local bands and Victory Brewing Company beer on Thursday March 13.

“Millennials are an important market for us,” said Meryl Levitz, president of Visit Philadelphia, said in a press release. “They like to travel to big cities, and Philadelphia has plenty to interest them, including great festivals, stellar beer, tax-free shopping and art of all sorts.”

POSTED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 8:57 AM

Pharrell Williams new album Girl is streaming for free on iTunes Radio.

The second solo set by the Neptunes producer and NERD bandleader is hotly hyped due to his "Happy" hit from Despicable Me 2, which is up for a best song Oscar, and all that singing he did on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Oh yeah, and there's that Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood connected funny hat, too.

The first single is another Daft Punk collab, called "Gust of Wind." Listen here. Check out the trailer below for the album, which comes out Tuesday.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 2:17 PM
Bill Haley, left, and Franny Beecher.

Franny Beecher, the guitarist for 1950s rock popularizers Bill Haley & the Comets, died on Monday night in a nursing home in Norristown.

Beecher, who was 92, replaced original Comets guitarist Danny Cedrone, who played on "Rock Around The Clock," after his death on 1954. The guitarist played with Buddy Greco and Benny Goodman. When he joined the Comets, he had to make his playing less jazzy, he told John Swenson in 1982: "They wanted to play a more basic style than I was used to, more country really, they called it rockabilly."

His obituary is here. Below check out two clips from the 1956 movie "Don't Knock The Rock." That's Beecher talking to the camera at the start of the Little Richard cover "Rip It Up," and stepping out on lead guitar on "Hot Dog Buddy Buddy."

POSTED: Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 11:52 AM
Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble.

Sound of Philadelphia architects Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff will be honored with the Johnny Mercer award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York in June. 

The Mercer Award, the organization's highest honor, can only go to songwriters already in the Hall of Fame. Gamble and Huff, authors of "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Me & Mrs. Jones," "Expressway To Your Heart" and innumerable others,  were inducted in 1995. Other songsmiths going in this year at the ceremony to be held at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan on June 12 include Ray Davies and Donovan.

“It will be our pleasure to welcome Gamble and Huff into the circle of superwriters who have received the Johnny Mercer Award,” said Hall chairman Jimmy Webb said in a statement. “They have met the standard with a series of indelible melodies and lyrics, and an enviable string of number one records and gold and platinum discs.”

POSTED: Friday, February 21, 2014, 3:57 PM
Courtney Barnett.

Australian songwriter Courtney Barnett was a long way from Melbourne when she played a sold out show at Union Transfer on Thursday on the third date of her first American tour.

But the 25 year old guitarist and her two man backing band - adorably called the Courtney Barnetts - was, in a way, at home away from home.

Barnett hasn’t released a proper album yet, but since her double EP A Sea Of Split Peas came out last fall, her song “Avant Gardener” - a shambling rocker about going into anaphylactic shock while trying to get some weeding done - has been in heavy rotation at WXPN-FM.

POSTED: Friday, February 21, 2014, 11:54 AM
Robert Ellis.

The current issue of Texas Monthly magazine asks the musical question: "Is Robert Ellis the next great songwriter to come out of Texas?" You'll have to decide that on your own after you see him at the Ardmore Musical Hall tonight.

My review of Ellis' new album on New West records, The Lights From The Chemical Plant, is here. Below, watch Ellis perform "Bottle of Wine" on piano in his Nashville living room for American Songwriter.

Ticket info here.

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