tommy

Tommy Keene's 'Behind the Parade' coming on August 30

When you’ve been pursuing your craft for the better part of 30 years and approximately a dozen albums without the benefit of universal adulation, you’re either wholly obsessed or doggedly determined. In Tommy Keene’s case, it’s likely a mixture of both. Hailed by some as power pop’s most fervent champion, he has been obsessed with making music for nearly three decades, toiling away with impressive results while winning the respect of a small but loyal group of listeners who hold everything he’s ever offered in the highest esteem. Long before now, Keene should have been welcomed into the pop pantheon, alongside McCartney, Rundgren, Wilson and all the other meticulous musicians long acknowledged for their creativity and consistency. Ask his devotees and they’ll tell you Tommy Keene is the equal of them all.

Behind the Parade, Keene’s latest album and his third release on Second Motion (including last year’s career spanning retrospective You Hear Me), schduled for August 30, 2011 release in three formats (CD, mp3 and limited-edition 180-gram vinyl), provides the latest body of proof. Like its predecessors, the disc affirms his pop proficiency, mastery of his craft and his ability to ensure instant accessibility given the benefit of emphatic hooks, irresistible refrains and the kind of vibrant, jangly melodies that bring to mind a distinctly ’60s sensibility. Keene may once have worshiped at the altar of the Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys, but his synthesis of sounds transcends these retro references and stirs it into something that’s wholly fresh and exhilarating.

Ranging from the proto-Keene jangle of “Already Made Up Your Mind” and the edgy, power pop (no, he doesn’t mind that description — much) storytelling of “Running For Your Life” and “His Mother’s Son” to the moody, ambient instrumental “La Castana” and the horn-infused opener “Deep Six Saturday,” Behind the Parade finds Tommy ably taking a few risks while managing to play to his considerable strengths. Behind the Parade, along with his recent output, shows Keene is akin to an athlete rediscovering his prime, only in this artist’s case, he never left it.

Back in 1984, a six-song platter of pop perfection titled Places That Are Gone (Dolphin) put Tommy Keene onto the CMJ charts and atop the Village Voice EP of the Year poll. Blatantly romantic, unapologetically melodic, bittersweet but absolutely invigorating, it still stands as a powerful statement, not only establishing Keene as a unique singer-songwriter, but also as a guitarist with a sound as distinctive as Pete Townshend or Johnny Marr.

Keene made enough noise in the early ’80s to get the majors involved, and in 1986 he released Songs From the Film on Geffen. Produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, the album featured two MTV videos, “Listen to Me” and a re-recording of Places That Are Gone’s title track, and spent 12 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200. The 1998 CD reissue of Songs also includes one of the all-time great Keene rockers, “Run Now,” with inspired rhythm section work from drummer Doug Tull and bassist Ted Niceley, plus a terrific extended guitar solo. The singer as well as the song appeared in the Anthony Michael Hall movie Out of Bounds.


After releasing the Run Now EP in 1986, the original Tommy Keene group, which also included guitarist Billy Connelly, disbanded. Keene headed down to Ardent Studios in Memphis to record with producers John Hampton and Joe Hardy. The result was Based on Happy Times (Geffen, 1989). The ironically titled disc is the darkest album in the Keene catalog. Although his best material has always been infused with melancholia, Happy Times’ tracks like “The Biggest Conflict” and “A Way Out” reveal a more fatalistic outlook. The guitars are heavier, there is less jangle, and there aren’t as many hooky vocal harmonies. It is a beautifully crafted, sometimes brooding, arty rock record.

In 1996, Keene released Ten Years After (Matador), his first full-length album of all-new material in seven years. Produced by Keene and recorded by pop music wunderkind Adam Schmitt, the album contains classic pop hooks and the loudest guitars to date. For his next effort, Isolation Party (Matador), Keene recruited an all-star cast, getting some fine instrumental and vocal performances from former Gin Blossom Jesse Valenzuela and Wilco’s Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy. A live disc called Showtunes (Parasol), released in 2000, was followed up in 2001 with The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down for the SpinArt label. Tommy used his next effort, Drowning: A Tommy Keene Miscellany (Not Lame), to clean out his closets of 20 years’ worth of rarities, demos and unreleased sessions. One of the best hodgepodge records you’ll ever hear, more than one critic felt Tommy’s spring-cleaning LP bested many greatest hits packages.

Back on the road in 2004, Keene and band joined Guided By Voices on the East and West Coast legs of their farewell tour. Apart from some great gigs, the shows also led to Keene joining Pollard as a member of his post GBV band, The Ascended Masters, for their 2006 U.S. tour and a limited-edition live LP, Moon (Merge). The year also saw the release of Crashing the Ether (Eleven Thirty), which was performed and recorded primarily by Tommy himself at home with drums by John Richardson and contributions from regular Keene band members and friends. Sonically, the album is dazzling, with big drums and open, ringing guitars, and lyrically it was arguably a great leap forward.

Tommy quickly followed up Crashing the Ether with Blues and Boogie Shoes, an LP with Robert Pollard under the Keene Brothers moniker. Although side projects can sometimes be less than wholehearted efforts, tracks such as “The Naked Wall” or “Death of the Party” — as good a song as Keene or Pollard have written together or separately — show that neither artist held anything back.

2009’s In the Late Bright (Second Motion) displayed the full range of Keene’s songcraft over 11 tracks. The album kicked into high gear with “Late Bright,” a minor-key rocker that gets its tense and dramatic work done in two minutes flat. From there on out, the album delivered a fan-friendly collection of melodic hooks, vocal harmonies, inventive chord progressions and great guitar playing.

Keene summed up his solo output to-date with Tommy Keene You Hear Me: A Retrospective 1983-2009 (Second Motion), a two-CD collection holding over 40 of his best tunes (including an unreleased acoustic take of Crashing the Ether’s “Black and White New York”). Even then, fans debated what he included vs. what he left off — further proof of the man’s enduring songwriting prowess.

Kiwi Songstress Jackie Bristow To Release 'Freedom'

Recording artist Jackie Bristow, who was born in New Zealand, came into her own professionally in Australia and now makes her home in Austin, releases her third outstanding album next month, the glorious, unbound FREEDOM (Feb. 15, 2011), and embarks on a U.S. tour with internationally acclaimed guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel.

With her acoustic guitar, silky vocals and the folk-pop originals on the new album (two are co-writes), Bristow will crisscross this country, from Austin to the West Coast to mid-America to the East Coast through February, and then return to Austin for a March 10 CD Release Party at Momo’s Club.

Bristow’s new album was recorded between Austin and Sydney and was co-produced by Bristow and Mark Punch, the first of her albums they have co-produced. Musicians on the album include J.J. Johnson (who has played with John Mayer), Punch (Kasey Chambers), Chris Maresh (Eric Johnson), Matt Fell (Josh Pyke), Jeff Young (Steely Dan), Clayton Doley and Rob Woolf (Jimmy Barnes).

The title track features the free-spirited vocals that Bristow is known for, a Hammond organ and an echoing gospel chorus. “Hightail It Outta Here” follows in the same vein, a bit more spunky perhaps, and “Broken Girl,” a powerful anthem, reverberates with both Bristow’s and Punch’s guitars. The final track, “Aotearoa,” is an ode to her homeland.
“Bristow returns, and she’s totally in control. FREEDOM is red-hot,” says the Waikato (New Zealand) Times. “A brilliant work of art, from a brilliant singer,” says NZ Music.net. “However more than just a singer, Bristow is a story-teller, and she has many tales to tell.”
Bristow’s songs have been used repeatedly in Australian and New Zealand film and hit TV shows, and her “This is Australia” won Tourism Australia’s Song Competition and was featured in a worldwide promotional campaign. In America, she has been heard on the in-store broadcast at Starbucks restaurants across the country.
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Upcoming Jackie Bristow shows include:
January 26, Chelsea Wine Bar, El Lago, Texas
January 30, Momo’s Club, Austin
February 4, Hard County Performing Arts Center-Tommy Fest/Elizabeth Town, Ky. *
February 8, Van Duzer Theatre, Arcata, Calif. *
February 9, Laxson Auditorium, Chico, Calif. *
February 17, Moore Theatre, Seattle *
February 18, Aladdin Theater, Portland, Ore. *
February 19, Crest Theatre, Sacramento, Calif. *
February 21, Montgomery Performing Arts Center, Montgomery, Ala. *
February 23, Palladium Theatre, St. Petersburg, Fla. *
February 24, The Plaza Theatre, Orlando, Fla. *
February 25, Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, Fla. *
February 26, Clayton Center, Clayton, N.C. *
February 27 Newberry Opra House, Newberry, S.C.
February 28, Newberry Opra House, Newberry, S.C. *
March 10, CD Release, Momo’s Club, Austin
March 22, Main Stage, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (post-SXSW Music)
* Opening for Tommy Emmanuel

Beats Antique at the Boulder Theater

Z2 Entertainment is proud to present Beats Antique at the Boulder Theater on Friday, April 8th, 2011.

Growing like wildfire under the canopy of live electonica and world roots music comes a masterful merge of modern technology, live instrumentation and seductive performance, built of brass bands and glitch, string quartets and dubstep: the musical trio Beats Antique.

Since the group’s inception from the eclectic underground of San Francisco’s performance art scene, Beats Antique has been notorious for making it nearly impossible to sit still. They meld their mediums as attentively as they fuse the cultures that inspire their sound. All self produced and composed, the trio creates a unique collage: an animalistic, raw musical event that blurs the lines between the provocative, the spiritual, and the artistic, while still maintaining an allegiance to the muses of class and beauty.

The journey that led to Beats Antique today was a winding and twisted path from the west coast to the ancient trade routes of the silk  road. In this modern incarnation, the musical alliance of producers David Satori and Tommy Cappel is inspired and emphasized by their collaborative partnership with world-renowned belly dance performer and music producer Zoe Jakes.


David Satori and Tommy Cappel both trained classically before venturing to locations such as Bali, West Africa, Serbia and beyond. With extensive backgrounds in multicultural music production, and the passports to prove it, Satori and Cappel command the spectrum of live and digital instrumentation, born from Hip Hop and old school jazz.


Zoe Jakes adds a third dimension as the multi –cultural and –disciplinary dance counterpart to Beats Antique’s sound. Jakes has worked with 2  major dance troupes, Miles Copeland’s Bellydance Superstars and Rachel Brice’s Indigo Belly Dance Company, a student of ballet and contemporary techniques. Jake’s additional history with Cappel in the Extra Action Marching Band and the Yard Dogs Road Show grants some insight into the caliber of performance that is Beats Antique’s standard.

All of this sets the scene for Beats Antique’s overtly ambitious stage show, a sensory overload conquest of the festival circuit’s most riotous events, such as Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits festival, and Outside Lands, as well as a catalog of proper tours that include Bassnectar and a recent run with Les Claypool of PRIMUS in early 2010. According to Satori, the trio is excited by their ability to create a huge sound from their relatively small setup. “It gives us this whole new world of musical opportunities that we’re just starting to scratch the surface of.”

In a prolific 3 years since Beats Antique emerged, the group has released 2 albums and a pair of EPs, with a third album, Blind Threshold, on the way. Notable features of the new release include vaporous violins and Danny Elfman-esque dementia; glitchy, laser-guided harmonica provided by Blues Traveler frontman John Popper; and 2 very different vocal tracks that range between restless pop hooks and vibrant Eastern European dance loops. All wrapped into an intricate collection of heavy beats and sub bass.

Beats Antique is best imagined as an innovative creature built from the cumulative heritage of the world’s music chasing its tail. However vivid that image, when a marching band groove crashes into bluesy folk chords only to be accompanied by electronic beats and Middle Eastern melodies, you’ll still be surprised.

Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale – January 21st, 2011!

Tommy Ramone's Bluegrass Blitzkrieg Uncle Monk

Tommy Ramone & Claudia Tienan- for the Grateful Web

The New York Times preview said it best: "There is life after the Ramones, but who knew it would be bluegrass?" The write-up referred to Tommy Ramone's new bluegrass duo Uncle Monk, co-fronted by Claudia Tienan. In what seems an improbable second act for the man who wrote "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," Uncle Monk is rooted in the old-timey and bluegrass traditions. The duo's self-titled debut album featuring 14 original songs will be released to brick and mortar retail on the indie Airday Records label, distributed by Burnside Distribution, on May 22.

 
"We are doing what feels natural to us," says Ramone. "We are making use of string-band instrumentation along with alternative rock flavorings. We're drawn to the classic simplicity of string-band music, but at the same time we are deeply involved with the aesthetics of indie  music. There is a similarity between punk and old-time music — both are home-brewed as opposed to schooled. Both have earthy energy. And there is a certain cool in old-time music that is found in the best alternative artists."

 
The songs of Uncle Monk run the gamut of emotions from exhilaration to sorrow, focusing on many aspects of modern existence: small-town life, coming to the big city, urban gentrification, interpersonal relationships and spiritual longings.

 
Tommy Ramone began his musical career as Tommy Erdelyi, an engineer at the Record Plant. Born in Budapest, Hungary, and raised in Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y., he co-founded the Ramones with Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee and participated in the birth of punk and indie-rock, working as the band's drummer, producer and manager. He has also produced recordings by the Talking Heads, Redd Kross and the Replacements.

 
Claudia Tienan hails from Minneapolis, where she was part of the local music scene  and came to New York to study philosophy at Hunter College. She was later a member of the Simplistics and then formed Uncle Monk with Ramone — originally as an electric jam band, and later as an acoustic duo. Her penetrating lyrics and haunting vocals add facets and dimensions to the songs. There is a yin and yang sensibility here, a touch of light and dark, of bitter and sweet, as the music of each artist complements the other's.

 
Uncle Monk delivers thoughtful and measured crafting of lyrics and melodies, and is dedicated to music that inspires the heart and tingles the spine.
 

Time Out New York recently wrote of the band: "If we tell you that Uncle Monk is a bluegrass duo with Tommy Ramone in it, you're bound to think of something like punkgrass or bluepunk. But [they] serve it up pretty straight — and solid. There is no doubting that Ramone's protean experience informs Uncle Monk, but he's no dilettante. This stuff is real."