tue 21/11/2017

New Music Buzz

A Tribute to Abram Wilson

peter Quinn

A little more than a year after the death of acclaimed jazz trumpeter and composer Abram Wilson, his former manager and widow Jennie Cashman Wilson has teamed up with EFG London Jazz Festival producers Serious to stage the only London tribute concert in memory of her husband.

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Preview: ReVoice! 2013

peter Quinn

For lovers of vocal jazz, Georgia Mancio's ReVoice! Festival has become an unmissable part of London's jazz calendar. Now in its fourth year, ReVoice! has previously played host to artists such as Gregory Porter (his first UK booking), Tuck & Patti, Raúl Midón and the Becca Stevens Band. Running over 10 nights from 10-19 October, this year's edition is the longest yet, with all concerts hosted at Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club.

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Anniversary Special: The Dark Side of the Moon

theartsdesk

The sound of a heartbeat. A metronomic ticking. Two men confessing that they’re mad (even if they’re not mad) as a cash register chings. Another man’s manic laughter. A harsh industrial grinding noise. Screams. And then some rock music, Olympian in its distance and instantly cinematic, but with a hint of the blues…

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2013 Jazz FM Music Awards: the nominees

peter Quinn

Jazz FM’s Ian Shaw will host the inaugural Jazz FM Music Awards on Thursday 31 January. Sponsored by audio pioneers Klipsch, piano legends Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jamal will both be honoured during the evening. Lewis will receive the Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Jazz, while Jamal will collect the Lifetime Achievement award. Both artists are due to perform on the night, with Jamal's closing set featuring a "surprise collaboration".

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David Bowie, 66, releases first new single in a decade

theartsdesk

Well, he was always ahead of the game. In a few years’ time 66 will become the new official pension age in his native United Kingdom, but David Bowie has chosen to celebrate his 66th birthday by coming out of what many perceived to be retirement. “Where Are We Now?” was launched without any previous fanfare earlier this morning, and you can listen to it and watch the video (directed by Tony Oursler) here.

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Ballot opens for Mercury Album of the Year gig

russ Coffey

Almost a month after the end of the iTunes Download festival its artier cousin, The Barclaycard Mercury Prize Albums of the Year Live gig series is going strong. A special concert on Wednesday 24 October will see performances from The Maccabees, Michael Kiwanuka and Alt-J. The event will take place at at LSO St Luke’s in London and will help raise money for War Child, which helps children affected by conflict around the world.

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Christine Tobin embarks on autumn tour

peter Quinn

Christine Tobin’s latest CD Sailing to Byzantium brings to life the lyrical magic of W B Yeats’ poems and has been widely acclaimed. Reviewing the album earlier this year, I wrote that "Tobin has created an unqualified masterpiece. Setting poems from across the entire spectrum of Yeats's oeuvre, Tobin perfectly gauges the emotional and spiritual resonances of the texts, aided by performances of incredible subtlety and understatement."

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Jon Lord, 1941-2012

russ Coffey

Before last December’s O2 Deep Purple gig, I heard one denim-clad middle-aged man arguing to another that the absence of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was irrelevant. Rather, without keyboardist Jon Lord, this was Purple in name only. Moreover the band had brought an orchestra along. What a cheek, given that Deep Purple’s iconic Concerto for Group and Orchestra had been 100 per cent Lord’s baby.

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Alternative National Anthems

peter Culshaw

With Euro 2012 about to end and the Olympics looming, we'll be hearing an awful lot of national anthems over the next couple of months. Don't we all agree that the majority of them are inadequate - often being turgid tunes with no reference to the culture of the countries involved?  Isn't it about time we had some alternatives? Here are a few suggestions.

United Kingdom

Anthem: God Save the Queen

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Welsh Week: Dinefwr, Adain Avion, Llangollen, BrynFest

jasper Rees

This Friday afternoon at five o’clock, the National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke will recite a new poem and initiate a seismic week of Welsh cultural exploration. The inaugural Dinefwr Literary Festival will bring writers and musicians from Wales and beyond to a National Trust house and park in Carmarthenshire. Unlike other literary festivals in Wales – notably Hay and Laugharne – this one will straddle the border between English and Welsh.

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Help! Are you a John or a Paul?

jasper Rees

One day soon Beatles scholars and Professors of Fabology will emerge from their caverns and their ashrams to inform us that it was 50 years ago today. On 5 October 1962 “Love Me Do” was released and, to recycle a phrase often appended to lesser earthquakes, the world would never be the same again. There will be celebrations, doubtless, across the universe.

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RIP MCA of The Beastie Boys

joe Muggs

It's hard to process the news that Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died - even though he had been fighting cancer since 2009. The Beastie Boys seemed to mirror my youth: exploding into the public eye just as I hit adolescence, they were the epitome of bratty rebellion for my generation, but also led us to their Def Jam labelmates Run DMC and LL Cool J, and thus into hip-hop culture as a whole.

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Edda Magnason: Interview & Video Exclusive

kieron Tyler

Goods, the second album by Sweden’s Edda Maganson was one of last year’s highlights. With a playful jazz sensibility which intertwined with a quirky pop, Magnason’s approach was unusual and refreshing. Coinciding with the release of her new EP, theartsdesk premieres the video for its lead track “Jona”.

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iPads and smartphones go live with hip-hop dancing

ismene Brown

A new publicly funded UK web channel for performing arts opens tomorrow morning, preparing for a major launch this weekend streaming top international streetdancers to the web audience and publishing John Peel's notes on his record collection. The channel, called The Space, is funded by the Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC, and will run for six months over and through the Olympics period as an on-demand channel to put performance out via smartphones, tablets and computers.

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The Outsiders: The Return of Brit-Punk’s First Do-It-Yourself Album

kieron Tyler

Manchester’s Buzzcocks were first to hit the seven-inch racks with their Spiral Scratch EP, but south London’s Outsiders were the first punk-era band to make a do-it-yourself album. The Wimbledon trio’s Calling on Youth, released in May 1977, was self financed, recorded at home and manufactured independently. Thirty-five years on, it’s reissued on CD for the first time today.

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Simone Felice: Video Exclusive part 2

russ Coffey

In the final instalment of our exclusive Simone Felice video series, the singer and poet from New York's Catskill mountains takes us on a tour of three further locations that kept him sane, whilst, around him, life seemed like an extract from the book of Job. These are also the places that inspired his forthcoming album, released April 2.

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Fundraising Gala for Syria

peter Culshaw

In answer to the desperate need for humanitarian relief for the Syrian people inside their country as well as in Syrian refugee camps in neighbouring countries, Mosaic Initiative for Syria has announced a fundraising gala taking place this Saturday, 17 March. It will support Syrian artists and showcase Syrian culture at Kensington Town Hall, as part of the Reel Syria 2012 festival which runs 15-18 March.

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Simone Felice: Video Exclusive Pt 1

russ Coffey

Simone Felice has both a back story to make Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon seem like a graduate of Fame, and the poetic gifts to make it as real to you as the air you breathe. In a two-part exclusive, he has recorded a series of videos for theartsdesk to take readers around some of the locations of his stomping grounds in the Catskill Mountains of New York State which have helped inspire his forthcoming debut solo album, released on 2 April.

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Interview & Video Exclusive: The Magnetic North

kieron Tyler

John Charles Gunn’s Orkney: The Magnetic North was published in 1932 as a guide to the islands and their history. Now, along with a dream, it’s inspired The Magnetic North’s album Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North. With former Verve member Simon Tong, his collaborator in Erland & the Carnival, and solo artist and orchestrator Hannah Peel, the Orcadian singer-songwriter Erland Cooper has created a tribute to his roots.

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He Was More Than a Monkee: Davy Jones, 1948–2012

kieron Tyler

The death of Davy Jones is a surprise. A horrible surprise. Less than a year ago he was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in the reunited Monkees, full of life, hogging the stage, hamming it up and celebrating the wonderful songs of America’s manufactured answer to The Beatles.

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Black Cab Sessions: music TV catches up with the net?

joe Muggs

Tonight on Channel 4, a new music series begins with a fantastic premise. A group of music obsessives drive around the USA in a London black cab, finding interesting musicians and recording them performing and talking in the back of the cab. Sounds a little bit like the 2008 Stephen Fry in America series, doesn't it? Well maybe, except Black Cab Sessions has been broadcast online since 2007.

Watch the Black Cab Sessions trailer:

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theartsdesk video exclusive: Blacksmif

joe Muggs

Londoner Yemi Olagbaiye is the model of a new generation musician for whom the dissolution of genre categories means not homogenisation but an opportunity for greater individuality.

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Your complete guide to which awards have (some) credibility

ismene Brown

First it's Golden Globes, then Oscars, or it's Grammys, then Brits - you can hardly go by a Sunday this time of year without another set of awards. But which ones count? Who are the judges?

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A soundscape of inheritance at Black Music Archive

John M Gómez

The legacy and influence of black music has led to a unique exhibition in South London. The South London Black Music Archive features memorabilia, listening posts, and a fascinating map of local musical landmarks.

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Sport and classical music: they should hang out more

jasper Rees

Classical music and sport: should they spend more time together? The idea was posited more than 20 years ago that football and opera made for ideal bedfellows, so long as the football was being played in Italy and the operatic aria was Nessun Dorma, sung by Pavarotti. Since then no major tournament or Olympiad passes by without the BBC making the effort to hoik improving classical sounds into the broadcasting mix.

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The BRIT Awards: The Brand leading the Bland

Natalie Shaw

It's awards season for the music industry, and no amount of complaining, ignoring or pointedly watching BBC Four in protest is going to stop the BRIT Awards from ordering in a few thousand servings of homemade tomato chutney and crostini to be laid out for the insider guests gathered at the O2 Arena. It's their once-a-year big chance to let their stars try and demonstrate their USPs in their winner's speeches, for starters.

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Valentine Birthdays on the Tube

peter Culshaw

What could be more romantic than watching and listening to singers born on Valentine's Day rhapsodising about L.O.V.E.? We have love songs on video from Russia, Japan, Tunisia, America and the Czech Republic. Or if not love exactly, then how about saxist Maceo Parker (born 14 February 1943), best known for his work with James Brown, simply "needing somebody to make it funky with right now"? Take it away, Mr Parker...

 

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The Grammys: A Night of Surprises?

joe Muggs

Well, who could have predicted that? For once the Grammys proved that the US recording industry establishment is up for the challenge of reflecting the sense of a world in social and cultural flux by throwing surprise after surprise, bombshell after bombshell, at its shocked audience. It was a night of victory for the underdogs and the radicals, a sense of musical revolution in the air, with all bets off. OK, no, of course it wasn't. But we can dream, right?

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Peter Gabriel announces WOMAD’s 15th season in Sicily

kieron Tyler

Peter Gabriel announced WOMAD’s 2012 festival in Sicily this afternoon. It’s a year of anniversaries for the annual showcase of world music, with 2012 also marking the 30th year for Britain’s big brother festival.

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Ten years after his death, France pays tribute to Gilbert Bécaud

kieron Tyler

The 20th anniversary of the death of Serge Gainsbourg is an important milestone, but it has overshadowed the fact that 10 years have passed since the death of an another significant French singer and songwriter, Gilbert Bécaud. The release of Et Maintenant marks the anniversary in fine style, uniting singers across generations, a couple of whom aren’t even French.

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Red Bull Music Academy: a caffeine boost for the music industry?

joe Muggs

I almost feel duty bound to make a declaration of interest here. I have done several pieces of paid writing for the Red Bull Music Academy, including a piece of course material for this year's Academy, and a few days ago I went to Madrid to see the Academy for the first time on their tab.

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Guitarist Hubert Sumlin, 1931-2011

kieron Tyler

Without Hubert Sumlin there would have been no Yardbirds, Captain Beefheart, Led Zeppelin, T-Rex or White Stripes. He was also an essential ingredient for The Rolling Stones. As Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist, his straightforward power was the perfect foil to Wolf’s guttural vocal roar. The combination of Sumlin’s razor-wire distortion and bouncy riffing was irresistible and prefigured – influenced – the hard rock which evolved in the late Sixties.

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Hats off to Randy Newman

graeme Thomson

There are many reasons to love the music of Randy Newman, who turns 68 today. For starters he’s a renowned ironist and a caustic wit who is nevertheless capable of being as emotionally straight as any heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter. The man who wrote “I Think it’s Going to Rain Today”, now a bona fide American standard, “I Miss You” and “Real Emotional Girl” could hardly be said to be all surface and no feeling.

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Josh T Pearson: the man comes to town

russ Coffey

“My first album was a personal love letter to God,” Josh T Pearson tells me, looking like a cross between Johnny Cash and Moses. No wonder, then, that it took him 10 years to record another. On this year's release, Pearson had moved on, talking failed love like a punk Leonard Cohen stranded in the wilderness. Face to face, Pearson is, however, quite the Southern gent: the Last of the Country Gentlemen, as he calls himself in the title of the new album. In a west-London café...

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Bob Dylan: return of the never-ending tour

adam Sweeting

What the hell is wrong with Bob Dylan? As the Sage of Minnesota rolls back into London with Mark Knopfler in tow, I took a detour round YouTube to see what they've been up to on their recent European dates.

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Jackie Leven: 1950-2011

graeme Thomson

The passing of Jackie Leven, who died last night from cancer, comes with a sense of real sadness. One of our most distinctive and original singer-songwriters, the Fifer maintained a doggedly low commercial profile throughout almost four decades spent weaving his rich, rather brave musical tapestry.  

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KT Tunstall: the fine art of downsizing

graeme Thomson

Spinal Tap’s hapless manager had a great phrase for it. “Their appeal,” he said, “is becoming more selective.” There are other words which cover more or less the same waterfront: “stripped back”, “scaled down”, “raw”, “intimate”. All tend to be euphemisms for the plain fact that an act is no longer shifting the kind of units they used to.

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Charles Bradley, 'Top Boy' soulman

adam Sweeting

Not only was Channel 4's Top Boy a brilliant slice of TV drama, but it delivered a neat little pay-off over the closing credits with Charles Bradley's track "The World (Is Going Up in Flames)".  An anguished chunk of classic soul, sung by Bradley in a gutsy James Brown-style rasp, it sounded at least 40 years old, but in fact it was only released in 2007 on Daptone Records' subsidiary, Dunham.

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Pete Townshend: the internet is killing music

theartsdesk

Earlier this week Pete Townshend asked whether “John Peelism”, the ethos of supporting and celebrating small, independent artists at a grass-roots level, could survive the internet. His implied answer was clearly "no". Townshend levelled the accusation that Apple, the owner of iTunes, is “a digital vampire Northern Rock” which doesn’t support or invest in the musicians whose work they sell, particularly the more independently minded ones, but rather sucks them dry before moving on.

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Fac.Dance: Celebrating the Beat of Factory Records

kieron Tyler

New Order’s “Blue Monday” might be the bestselling 12” single ever. It might not be. Either way, Factory Records released it on the 12” format only and it was given dry runs by club DJs. Although Factory had an overriding visual aesthetic, it was a wilful label with little musical coherence and no set way of doing things. Dance music, though, was central to Factory, and the new compilation Fac.Dance celebrates that in a way that was impossible in the scattershot Eighties.

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Camille speaks of Ilo Veyou, water, peace and intimacy

kieron Tyler

“I am a lady of the sea, I’m a lady of the water,” declares French sonic auteur Camille. “Water is life and we forget too much about this.” Her new album, Ilo Veyou, is filled with water. There’s the “Bubble Lady”, the “Wet Boy” and the “Shower” that’s a refuge. Ilo Veyou is also about her voice – wordplay, the rhythms it makes, the farty sounds, the distracted humming, the tender melodies she sings. But it’s about a new phase in life, too: becoming a mother.

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Beyoncé stole my moves, says high priestess of modern dance

ismene Brown

Has the great pop diva Beyoncé plagiarised the great modern dance diva Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker? This is the burning question that has today sent disco popsters and fans of austere contemporary dance in a feverish crush to YouTube, comparing Beyoncé’s new "Countdown" vid with De Keersmaeker’s art-house dance Rosas danst Rosas.

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Darondo and Disco Gold: Unearthed Funk and the Birth of Disco

kieron Tyler

By 1977, disco was a cliché to be mocked. But a few years earlier, before its ubiquity, disco was a liberating music uniting minorities on the dance floor. Funk, too, became a cliché, little more than a reductive musical cypher. Two new reissues celebrate these genres when both were still vital, still able to surprise.

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Go clubbing and running to support planting urban trees

kieron Tyler Battersea Park: run a half-marathon there and then go clubbing, all to raise money for planting urban trees

As artificial spaces, clubs struggle to embrace the organic environment. The music and arts collective Noise of Art are bridging the gap by working with the charity Trees for Cities, with DJs donating their time to raise funds for planting trees in London. On 17 September, Noise of Art is working with Trees for Cities at Battersea Park and taking over the Village Underground for a fundraising event.

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The Arts Desk Birthday Event - Join Us on 9/9!

ismene Brown

On 9 September theartsdesk, Britain's first professional arts journalism site, will be two years old. To celebrate we’re holding a live debate with four leading performers during the Kings Place Festival. An actor, a singer, a dancer and an instrumentalist will share their different experiences of performance. Join us, live or online, for a stellar event.

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Boisdale Canary Wharf - City boys' jazz playground

peter Culshaw Boisdale club: more Acker Bilk than avant-jazz

It’s the new(ish) big jazz venue, and it’s in, of all places, the wilds of Canary Wharf. It's curious, and encouraging, that anyone has the nerve to open a large new jazz venue anywhere, and in the midst of economic gloom, but they have. The venue for music is the size of Ronnie Scott’s but it is more than a mere music venue – it’s a good-quality restaurant with a cigar bar, a terrace (handy for smokers) and a huge whisky bar - an “amber wall of liquid gold” as they charmingly put it, from £...

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Competition: ELF CDs to be won

theartsdesk

It’s competition time again. Last month we featured ELF’s Reflections, a new release on Nimbus showcasing the unusual and possibly even unique combination of horn, piano and flute. We have a number of copies of the CD to give away. All you need to do is answer the questions correctly and your name will go into the hat.

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Estonia celebrates 20 years of independence in song

kieron Tyler

The former Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev was a ubiquitous presence in the British news last week, wheeled out for the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the USSR. The anniversary, though, is not just about what went on within what is now Russia or at the Berlin Wall. Last night saw 70,000 gather in the Estonian capital Tallinn for the Song of Freedom event, to mark the country's split from the USSR.

 

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Outlook: four days in the sunshine and two fingers to the bigots

joe Muggs

At the start of September, the fourth Outlook Festival takes place in a 19th-century fort on the Croatian coast. Already this festival has become a vital point in the calendar for those involved with dubstep, grime and other UK underground scenes – not only a jolly in the sun (“dubstep's Ibiza”), but the one time in the year when everyone involved takes a break from international touring and comes together in the same place, a time to compare notes and take stock of the progress.

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ReAnimate: a clever, confusing night out at the NPG

Alice Vincent ReAnimate: a 'creative playground for the senses'

With ReAnimate, the National Portrait Gallery’s Late Shift team were aiming high. The event sought to bring a free sensory experience throughout the entire building, promising to enchant the hordes away from Trafalgar Square and into a visionary evening of stimulation – not just of sight and sound, but also taste and smell.

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Attention for the neglected soul sound of Little Rock, Arkansas

kieron Tyler

Little Rock, the state capital of Arkansas, usually comes to mind in association with hometown boy Bill Clinton. Soul and funk fans, however, aren’t fussed with the sax-playing former governor and president and fixate on the city’s True Soul label, the home of a raft of rare and sought-after sides. Two volumes compiling the imprint have just been issued and include previously unissued tracks.

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theartsdesk at the Great British Beer Festival

kieron Tyler A happy trio at the Great British Beer Festival

Held each year at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, the Great British Beer Festival is the top-drawer event in any British beer enthusiast's diary. Organised by CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale), it’s a mind-boggling, discombobulating overload of more beer than it’s possible to imagine. Every non-corporate brewer is here, from the heard of (Fullers, Thwaites) to the local and barely heard of. Beer is central, but there’s food and games too. People are here too. Masses of them. And they’re...

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Iran’s pre-1979 pop music begins to reach the outside world

kieron Tyler

Pop music was virtually eradicated from Iran in 1979 after the deposition of the Shah and arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini in power. Before then, the thriving scene supported many stars that drew on both local traditions and Kurdish music. Googoosh was a huge star, but she stayed in Iran after 1979 and was unable to record. Moving to Los Angeles in 2000 allowed her to perform and begin recording again. The arrival of a new British compilation covering 1970 to 1975 is fascinating.

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Amy Winehouse, 1983-2011

theartsdesk

Amy Winehouse, who was found dead at her London home this afternoon, was the greatest female pop singer of her time, in the way that Billie Holiday was of hers, says Peter Culshaw, the first of theartsdesk's writers who tell below what she signified to music and to them. More tributes come from Joe Muggs, Thomas H Green, David Nice and Matilda Battersby.

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2011 Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize nominations announced

kieron Tyler The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize nominations 2011: no surprises

The nominations for the 2011 Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize were announced earlier today. Beyond PJ Harvey and Elbow having won before, nothing wildly surprising cropped up.

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London’s South Bank to be engulfed by the past

kieron Tyler Vintage at Southbank Centre will celebrate the pop culture of Britain's past

The weekend of 29 to 31 July will see London's Festival Hall transformed into what the venue describes as a “multi–venue vintage playground”. Vintage, founded by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, comes to London for the first time to celebrate the popular culture of Britain’s past. The Festival Hall is a fitting host, as it was constructed for 1951’s Festival of Britain and is, itself, a piece of living history.

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Beginner's Guide to the music of Scandinavia: not what it says it is

kieron Tyler

Certain Nordic countries are identified with particular forms of music. Norway and Finland are the home to various strands of metal. Sweden’s pop songwriters and producers are world-renowned, attracting the likes of Britney Spears to Scandinavia. Iceland homes individualists like Björk and Sigur Rõs. Denmark’s influential Mew and Efterklang capture mood like no one else. But you won’t find any of this on the new three-CD set Beginner's Guide to Scandinavia.

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Lil B's I'm Gay (I'm Happy): a rap revolution?

joe Muggs

It's not often you can call pop music revolutionary, but this record is - in more ways than one. Bringing together techniques of engagement that have been honed by Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and... um... Justin Bieber, the 21-year-old Berkley, California rapper Lil B appears to be on the verge of becoming the first bona fide internet-birthed superstar. I'm Gay (I'm Happy) appeared on iTunes yesterday, announced with a single tweet, with no prior warning whatsoever bar an...

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Birmingham - Home of Metal

russ Coffey Birmingham: The Home of Metal exhibition

This site has never acknowledged a distinction between high and popular culture. Nor, it seems, does the city of Birmingham. Currently bidding for UK City of Culture 2013, it is also promoting itself as the "Home of (Heavy) Metal". This summer, at various locations across the Black Country, a four-month festival looks at the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and celebrates the people who inspired him to “bark at the moon”. Surrounded by guitars, leather and fans' metalobilia in the Birmingham...

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Mick Jagger leads supergroup with Joss Stone, Damian Marley and AR Rahman

kieron Tyler

Mick Jagger is heading up a band named SuperHeavy. Also in on the project are Joss Stone, AR Rahman (composer of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack), Dave Stewart (the former Eurythmic) and Damian Marley. It seems outlandish and the product of an overheated PR person’s imagination, but many things in life can be both. Yet, this is real, not an April Fool-type joke.

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Long-overdue recognition for Motown’s West Coast subsidiary Mowest

kieron Tyler

The Motown label will forever be identified with its Detroit birthplace, even though it had a Los Angeles office in the Sixties. The shift west was completed in 1972 when founder Berry Gordy Jr moved the whole concern to California. Before that though, in 1971, Gordy had launched subsidiary imprint Mowest to ostensibly showcase Los Angeles acts and as a test run for the California move. This gold-chip compilation shows Mowest is worth remembering. Motown's Mowest Story 1971-1973: Our...

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Sónar 2011: Day 3 and Round-up

joe Muggs

This is where the delirium kicks in. Tired but happy, the attendees started the third day of Sónar festival slightly boggled by how to pick and choose from the strange delights on offer. Saturday was when the true musical variety of the festival was displayed: straight-up hip hop to eye-popping South African tribal dance displays, balmy ambient revivalism to apocalyptic techno, heartbroken electronica to deranged prog rock: it was all on offer...

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Sónar 2011: Day 1

joe Muggs Dazzling stage presence: Singer/percussionist Yukimi Nagano of the fabulous Swedish electropop band Little Dragon

“This is what Ibiza used to be like,” said the man dancing next to me. I've never been to the White Isle, so I have to take his word for it, but he presented a very convincing argument that the commercialisation of dance music's Mediterranean Mecca has led to a polarisation of its crowds towards either ostentatious spending or mindless drunkenness – whereas Barcelona's Sónar Festival attracts more diverse and discerning hedonists focused on music above all.

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RIP house music singer Darryl Pandy

joe Muggs A still from the 'Love Can't Turn Around' video

The house music of Chicago, led by producers and DJs, has long had a tendency to feature the greatest vocals of any genre yet not make stars of its singers. And for most of his working life, Darryl Pandy, who died yesterday aged 48, was not the star his huge presence and elemental, gospel-schooled voice warranted – instead working the club circuit and soul revival shows, and featuring on dance tracks scattered across dozens of 12" singles on many labels worldwide.

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Martin Rushent, 1948–2011

kieron Tyler

Although record producer Martin Rushent was firmly identified with the punk and post-punk eras, the biggest records he had worked on before then were those of Shirley Bassey. His production of The Human League’s epoch-defining Dare changed that.

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Showtime! - UK dancehall on the rise again

joe Muggs Lady Chann: The face of the new wave of UK dancehall

This month sees an audacious attempt to showcase British dancehall music, when the Cargo venue in Shoreditch hosts the multi-artist revue Showtime!. The Heatwave collective have brought together vocalists from various UK underground scenes, linked by a strong influence from the high-energy Jamaican sounds of the past 30 or so years. While many of the artists involved have found success in crossover...

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Sonic Youth play London – almost

kieron Tyler

Next Tuesday, 31 May, will be a day of difficult choices for fans of New York’s Sonic Youth. London is hosting three separate shows by band members and associates. That evening their mainstay guitarist, Thurston Moore, plays the Union Chapel. SY’s drummer, Steve Shelley, is at The Borderline, guesting with Chicago’s Disappears. And Half Japanese, who both Shelley and Moore have collaborated with, are headlining at The Scala.

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London children offered 400 music scholarships

ismene Brown

Private music patrons aim to raise £2 million to fund 400 scholarships for London children with a talent for music. The aim is to give steady four-year support for disadvantaged children to have Saturday lessons, individual coaching and group tuition to learn a musical instrument. Alongside the scholarships, there is to be a "partnership" scheme whereby professional musicians go into schools to work on music with up to 10,000 schoolchildren.

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The Asian Music Circuit fights back

peter Culshaw Anuradha Paudwal: On tour courtesy of Asian Music Circuit

In the ravages of the recent arts cuts, and debates over the winners and losers, one estimable organisation tended to be overlooked in the coverage – the Asian Music Circuit, who have done more for Asian arts in the UK than probably any other entity. They have had their entire grant cut. The director of AMC, Viram Jasani, told me he was stunned by this unexpected savagery and took a week or two to gather his thoughts and mount a campaign. Sections of the media have started to swing behind it...

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Jenny Hval – When Viscera takes control

kieron Tyler

Viscera, the new album by Norway’s Jenny Hval, is a striking, often disturbing, surreal examination of how the body can take control, winning out over thought. Hval enfolds her explicit, literature-inspired lyrics in music that suddenly shifts from the impressionistic to the surging. Her voice can be disquietingly detached, narrating, as she puts it, “a partly uncomfortable listen”.

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Freaked-out Brazilian musical treasures rediscovered

kieron Tyler

Sometimes it seems as though every bit of music from the past has been disinterred, no matter how obscure or outré it is. But, of course, surprises keep on coming and the Psychedelic Pernambuco compilation is a reminder that great stuff still lurks out there. Collecting material recorded for the Brazilian independent Rozeblit label, Psychedelic Pernambuco roams through weird folk, post-Tropicália strangeness, fractured instrumentals and more.

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Jet Harris, the original Shadow RIP

kieron Tyler

Jet Harris was one of the architects of British rock'n'roll. His death rams home just how distant that era now seems. A former skiffler, he joined The Shadows after a spell backing Terry Dene, British rock's first bad boy. In time, Harris became a bad boy too, setting the template for the self-destructive lifestyle that would become a cliché. But his moody image will survive too. His rumbling bass guitar will forever be synonymous with those evocative Shadows' hits.

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First UK show for Arnaud Fleurent-Didier

kieron Tyler

Arnaud Fleurent-Didier’s La Reproduction was one of the most striking albums of last year. The news that he and his band are playing the UK for the first time next week at the Institut Français is exciting as La Reproduction was more than great musically. It was also a cultural benchmark, putting the Mai 68 generation under the microscope and taking them to task for being inward-looking – they made great mayonnaise at the expense of paying attention to their kids.

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R.I.P. The Acid King

thomas H Green Soundman and psychedelic chemist Owsley Stanley

One of the great adventures of the 20th century is the story of LSD. A warped, unlikely slice of history not taught in schools, it has flavoured many aspects of life to this day. The countercultural explosion of the Sixties influenced the broader Western world - art, music, politics, religion, social issues and much more - and at its vanguard were key figures who believed that enlightenment might be found through the use of psychedelic drugs. These utopian mavericks were from all sorts of...

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New Band: She Keeps Bees

russ Coffey She Keeps Bees: Like PJ Harvey in Tennessee during a full moon

The White Stripes may have just announced their retirement but theartsdesk can report that the boy/girl two piece is still alive and well in the form of She Keeps Bees, a Brooklyn-based band currently on a mini-tour around Britain and Europe. Here it’s the girl, Jess Larrabee on guitar, and boy, Andy LaPlant on drums. The sound is superficially similar to The White Stripes with Larrabee delivering gutsy blues rock guitar, but vocally she sounds more like...

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Competition: Band of Horses box sets

russ Coffey

To mark the release of their new single "Dilly" theartsdesk has limited-edition box sets of Band of Horses album Infinite Arms to give away. The box sets have a CD version, a vinyl version and artwork unique to the set. All potential winners have to do is to answer the four questions below, and just to make it easy the answers will be found by following the embedded links.

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Tim Buckley’s musical prehistory unearthed

kieron Tyler

Tim Buckley might have died in 1975, but he’s lived on through re-evaluations, reissues and, by default, through the music of his also-dead son Jeff. This new Rhino Handmade version of Buckley senior’s debut Elektra album is significant as the second disc collects never-before-heard recordings by his first band, The Bohemians, and a set of pre-Elektra demos.

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BBC Folk Awards: Chris Wood, Bellowhead, Donovan winners

peter Culshaw

Mark Radcliffe was on good form, saying how he had seen Donovan at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink (and nipped out to the car park to keep warm) and met Donovan’s manager, who when the singer retired asked if Donovan was going to bed. “Donovan doesn’t go to bed – he crashes,” said the manager.

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John Barry, 1933-2011: Musician with the Midas touch

adam Sweeting John Barry, one of the great maestros of film music

“When you write for film, the dialogue is like the voice, if you like, and I always consider that as part of the music,” said John Barry, who died on 30 January. “Certain orchestral textures have to match the texture of the scene. You deal with the lightness and darkness of the scene when you write music for cinema. The film is a part of the score, and you can't get away from that.”

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Kiki Dee's soulful Sixties finally heard on CD

kieron Tyler 'I'm Kiki Dee - The Fontana Years 1963-1968': A treasure-filled essential album

The summer 1976 hit “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was Kiki Dee’s chart highlight. The duet with Elton John was inescapable, happy, upbeat, irresistible. A Number One, it peaked a chart run on his Rocket Records that began with her 1973 cover of Veronique Sansons’s “Amoureuse”. “I’ve Got the Music in Me” then hit the Top 20 in 1974. Kiki still plays live and records, but the treasure-filled and essential I’m Kiki Dee - The Fontana Years 1963-1968 – out this week – reveals her...

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RIP Music Mogul Don Kirshner

kieron Tyler Don Kirshner in 2007

The death of Don Kirshner on 17 January at age 76 is a reminder that although the age of the New York-based song factory seems to be long gone, pop is still about the backroom. Where would Lady Gaga be without a producer/songwriter like Red One? What Kirshner established with his music publishing company Aldon went way beyond getting songs to the performers. He set a template that still resonates through pop.

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Gang of Four return - exclusive video content

russ Coffey Go4: Still angry after all these years