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Michael Franti Receives the 2010 Ralph J. Gleason Award

The Rex Foundation is pleased to award the 2010 Ralph J. Gleason Award to Michael Franti. The $10,000 award is in memory of music journalist Ralph J. Gleason, a major figure in the advancement of music in America in the 1960s, including his being a long-time contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, a founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine and cofounder of the Monterey Jazz Festival.   Mr. Gleason's openness to new music and ideas transcended differences between generations and styles.

A Bay Area native, Michael Franti has been bringing our world exceptionally powerful, deeply felt music under a variety of names and in a wide range of genres for twenty years, from the intense punk rock of the Beatnigs, to the deeply political rap he made with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, to his joyful and meaningful modern soul music with Spearhead, and now as Michael Franti & Spearhead.

As Rosalie Howarth, Rex Board member and KFOG Show Host and Director of Special Programming, explains, "The Ralph J. Gleason award honors people who strive to bring fresh cultural ideas and music to the mainstream public. Through his positive, inclusive lyrics, and his personal visits to strife-ridden areas such as Iraq, Palestine and Israel, Michael has seen first-hand the effects of war. He has taken his music to the people on the street, and absorbed their cultural influences in return, bringing them back to share at his annual free 'Power to the Peaceful' festival in Golden Gate Park, and on the silver screen with his powerful documentary 'I Know I'm Not Alone'.  Michael's unfailing optimism toward the human spirit and his tireless effort to spread peace and multiculturalism make him a world citizen and highly deserving recipient of the Rex Foundation Ralph Gleason Award."

Learn more about Michael Franti and his contributions from the following links:

Michael Franti CARE Soles4Souls Power to the Peaceful Stay Human

Franti states, "It's a huge honor to be recognized by the Rex Foundation for this award.  Being a fan of the Grateful Dead I know the diversity of its community and share the vision of creating togetherness and acceptance through music.  My musical message is much the same: If we can bring people together through the one-ness of music, it gives a starting point to address the larger needs of our communities and the world.  I am excited that music plays a greater role in the lives of all of us than ever before and the encouragement of this award reaffirms my faith that my journey has been worth every precious step!"

Furthering what the Grateful Dead started 27 years ago, the Rex Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, endeavors to fund grassroots programs that are often under the radar of larger funding entities, yet work in bold, innovative ways to carry out essential work toward a healthy environment, promotion of the arts, protection of indigenous cultures, assisting others less fortunate, building strong communities, and educating children and adults.  The Rex Foundation has distributed $8.6 million in grants to over 1,000 programs across the U.S. and internationally, while also carrying out fundraising initiatives that foster creativity and positive community connections.  Visit www.rexfoundation.org for a complete list of grantees and information about current initiatives.

Particle, Oct 30 @ the Fox Theatre

Not your typical jam band (they have just as many disco and electronica influences as anything else), Particle started in 2000 in Los Angeles with keyboardist Steve Molitz, drummer Darren Pujalet, bassist Eric Gould, and guitarist Dave Simmons. Tragically, Simmons died just two months after the band started, but Particle found his replacement in Charlie Hitchcock. Gaining fans from the pure energy of their live show, Particle released their debut album, Launchpad, in 2004. The next year Hitchcock left the band, and Scott Metzger and Ben Combe took his place on guitar, also bringing in vocals -- a new addition for the group. Particle celebrated their first-ever performance with the new lineup by recording it and releasing its highlights (along with pieces from another show) as Transformations Live for the People in 2006.

All Ages / GA  / $18.00 adv / $23.00 DOS

Parlovr Unveil Cover Art & Tracklisting / East Coast Tour To Be Announced Soon

Meet Parlovr (pretend the V is a U when you say it). Over the last few years, these three Montrealers have been bringing their manic melee of indie pop to the musically-curious masses. They’ve already amassed plenty of attention from tasters and tastemakers alike via their blissfully bizarre tracks and seizure-inducing live shows; however, after recently signing onto the Dine Alone Records roster, the band is ready to make some serious noise in the new decade – in more ways than one…
Initially formed in a Mile-End loft during the winter of 2006 by guitarist/vocalist Louis David Jackson and keyboardist/vocalist Alex Cooper, the current incarnation of Parlovr came about in 2007 when drummer Jeremy MacCuish entered the fold – a catalyst to the fusion of the foiling songwriting styles of the original two. Since, the band has taken off on its own sonic tangent, appropriately dubbed “sloppy pop” in the past; stripped down but salacious and spastic.
The music is about as diverse as the city that spawned it – an interweaving of styles that takes on a shape and shimmer of its own. Raw and reverb-soaked, their independently-released, self-titled debut dropped in late 2008, recorded and produced by Martin Horn at Digital Bird Studios.
The songs found therein are rooted in dramatic dynamics not unlike those that exist between Cooper and Jackson’s foiling songwriting styles – quiet and loud; screams and whispers; sing-alongs and spacey instrumentals; warm low-end and crisp, shimmering leads; short pop jabs and extended epics. You get the idea, right? It’s quirky, it’s catchy, and while it’s full of familiar throwbacks to ‘60s pop, ‘80s post-punk, and ‘90s garage, it’s also refreshing.
Since its release, the album has garnered some great ink in pretty much every well-respected left-of-centre publication here in Canada – Hero Hill, Chartattack, and Hour among them. Even some from the south are taking notice, with Spin magazine calling the band one of the “5 to watch” out of Montreal (it’s pretty much the new Seattle) and The New York Times sharing kind words about their live show. It’s obvious the bandwagon is starting to fill up, and everybody on it is dancing.
Parlovr has spent time bringing their melodies on the road, having toured extensively throughout Canada, New York, France and Europe alongside indie pop peers like Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.
With all of the pieces in place, Parlovr seems set to bring their melodic mayhem to a widespread populace for the new decade.
It’s 2010, and it’s finally cool to say you listen to Parlovr music.

Papadosio & June What?! @ the Fox Theatre

Some music, because of its originality, timelessness, mass appeal, or perhaps because it is just plain odd, will always be destined for the hallowed halls of cult classicism. No band fits this criteria better than Papadosio. Papadosio has wowed crowds from Denver to NYC, Cleveland to Atlanta, shaking the earth at festivals and clubs alike.

Papadosio's music is all about unexpected combinations. From Rock/House to Jazz/Hop to Dub/Breaks and so on, every song has a unique approach to attaining originality. Long improvisational interludes and vocal harmonies quickly set this group in a new category of mass appeal.

Adam Fox(Universal Studio's): "It is rare for Bands to have such control, understanding, and objectivity as they create and produce their own music. Young, freakishly mature, and wise beyond their years, Papadosio has just released a sophisticated work of art."

A rising star in their field, Juno What?! is bringing their illuminated madness to every venue upon which they descend. Featuring members of The Motet (Dominic Lalli, Dave Watts and Joey Porter), these three accomplished musicians have gathered their collective talents to focus on this mission of making the world a better place.......to dance!

Papadosio & June What?! | June 11th, 2010

Doors: 08:30PM Show: 09:00 PM $8 ADV / $12 DOS +$2 for under 21 tickets

Tickets on sale through the Fox Theatre box office

Internet 24-7 at www.foxtheatre.com

Phone: During box office hours: 303.443.3399


Sam Sparro: Bringing Personality to Dance Music

Sam Sparro- for the Grateful Web

Young Australian-born songwriter/producer, Sam Sparro, is a musical wonder.  Partly he comes by this honestly. He grew up in a musical family that explored a lot of musical styles.  His great-grandfather was a professor of music. His grandfather is a jazz trumpet player, who played with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. His grandmother is an accomplished singer and dancer, and his father, Chris Falson, is a noted gospel singer.  However, when Sparro decided to venture into the musical world himself, he created something totally new and unexpected.

Sparro moved to LA when he was ten because his dad was going to record a gospel album there. Falson introduced his son to some of the best singers in the gospel realm by taking him to a local church that was home to many session singers, like the McCrary Family who had backed up Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Chaka Khan. When Sparro and his father were visiting the McCrarys, Chaka Khan stopped by and Sparro sang a new gospel song for her that the McCrarys had wanted her to record. Her response, I'm told, was, "Damn, that white boy can sing!"

During stays in Australia, then London, and then back in LA, Sparro worked in the music industry and soon began writing songs. On a return to Australia, he formed a band called Sugar James. But it was when he finally moved back to LA that he found the LA music underground that was very reminiscent to him of the London scene.  His father offered to set up a speakeasy style club and Sparro and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello became regulars. Here, Sparro was discovered by Jesse  Rogg of Modus Viendi Music.

Sparro and Rogg produced a six-song EP called Black & Gold that is very difficult to find. I got a copy from his publicist and I guarantee it will become a valuable collector's item. It is the precursor to a self-titled, full-length album that is currently only available as a import from the UK.  The 13 songs on the new album have five of the cuts on the EP, but these are fleshed out more. The EP has Sparro and Rogg manning all of the instruments. The full album sports Sparro's vocals along with him playing keytar, guitar, and synths, and doing programming. Rogg plays synths and keys and does programming.  Laura Fares is the drummer, Charlie Willcocks handles another set of keys, and James Stephenson is on bass.

The Black & Gold EP presents a fun mix of dance beats with Sparro's fluid R&B vocals, which are sometimes electronic-altered. This is in keeping with Sparro's intent, which is to add personality in the form of a frontman to electronic music. It is a successful melding.

The title cut "Black & Gold" is ripe for a music video. It is the kind of dance music that is infectious. Though the lyrics were spawned in one of the lowest points in Sparro's life when he wondered if his life would have any direction musically, it offers such a haunting chorus, "I want to be next to you, black and gold."

"Sick" offers more of the throb of dance music, but the smooth vocals and electronic flourishes set the song above most music of that genre. The recurrent chorus, "It's a sick, sick world/But I'll be your medicine."

"Cottonmouth"is a whimsical R&B song about a condition any speaker or singer has experienced. It's a fun addition to the selections.

Then, Sparro moves into what could be a bitter song about a stalker relationship. Instead, in "Cling Wrap," he offers another humorous twist, couching bitting words into witty phrasing. He croons, "You must have thought I was a snack because you're sticking to me like cling wrap." Then, toward the end, he raps, "I'm going to need me a pair of pliers to get you off my back because you crossed your wires." The listener is prepared for something weird because the first sounds off the track sound like someone on helium.

Finally, "Miss Rexi,"the only song on the EP that isn't on the full-length CD, probably is the one song that should have been on that album. It is a song with strong social commentary, telling the story of "Miss Rexi, first name Ana," who really sounds more like she's bulimic than anorexic. Sparro says that Miss Rexi "was so skinny she thought it was sexy" then he sings, "I want to fatten you up/Get you back to a C cup," and "You don't have to be a bean/To be sexy on the scene/You're going to make yourself sick/There's no point in being a stick."

Sparro could reach a lot of young listeners with that song. It is a remarkable song housed in a fine piece of music. But, I was surprised by one reviewer who missed what was obvious in the lyrics, focusing on one line that says, "Ana listen to me/Put that in your mouth and start chewing," thinking the song is racy. If the reviewer listened more closely, he would have known that Sparro was talking about food.

Sam Sparro is experimenting with retro R&B sounds, saucy electronic beats, and a whole new realm of songwriting from someone who sees the world with very fresh eyes. His material is welcome in a techno/hip-hop/R&B world that has tended to grind out the same-ole, same-ole. Sam Sparro keeps it coming and get some of those tunes out here in the States!

Bonerama's New Album "Bringing It Home"

photo copyright of Bonerama- for the Grateful Web

When Bonerama struts onstage with its four-trombone frontline, you can guess it's not quite like any rock 'n' roll band you've seen.  When they tear into some vintage New Orleans funk, there's no questioning from which city these guys hail. And when those 'bones start ripping into Hendrix and Led Zeppelin licks, all stylistic bets are off.

Bonerama carries the brass-band concept to places unknown.  Hailed by Rolling Stone's David Fricke as "The ultimate in brass balls," last Fall the band served as the House Band for the live all-star comedy event COMIC RELIEF.  The 2006 event, which featured a long list of A-talent including hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams, was recorded live from Ceasar's Palace last November. Recently, Bonerama snagged the coveted "Best Rock Band" honor from the 2007 Big Easy Awards.

Since live performance is what Bonerama is all about, it's no coincidence that their third album, Bringing It Home, is also their third consecutive live disc.  It also testifies to the amount of tightening-up the band's done in recent years. Joining another stack of Bonerama originals are covers ranging from the Meters and George Porter Jr. to the Beatles (two from the White Album, no less) to Thelonious Monk. And when they take on Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" – with trombones doing the familiar backing vocals along with the big guitar riff – you can practically hear the audience's jaws dropping.

The current list of confirmed Bonerama tour dates is as follows:

July 13 Martyr's Chicago IL

July 14 Bastille Days Festival Milwaukee WI

July 18-19 Broadway Oyster Bar St. Louis MO

July 20 Iowa City Yacht Club Iowa City IA

July 21 Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Festival Sioux Falls SD

July 22 Vaudeville Mews Des Moines IA

July 25 The Blue Gator Athens OH

July 26 Peaches Grill Yellow Springs OH

July 27 The Livery Benton Harbor MI

July 28 Beaches International Festival Toronto Ontario

August 02 Panama City Beach Concert Series Panama City Beach FL

August 03 MOJO Kitchen Jacksonville Beach FL

August 04 The Bamboo Room Lake Worth FL

August 05 The Green Parrot Key West FL

August 09 Gottrocks Greenville SC

August 10 Visulite Theatre Charlotte NC

August 11 Paetec Jazz Festival Baltimore Baltimore NY

August 25 Mid City Lanes New Orleans LA

September 08 Hot Springs Jazz Festival Hot Springs AR

September 16 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Telluride CO

September 21 Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey CA

September 22 The Crystal Bay Club Crystal Bay NV

October 06 Private Party New Orleans LA

October 07 Gretna Heritage Festival Gretna LA

October 27 Voodoo Music Experience New Orleans LA

More dates will be announced.

Even in a city that doesn't play by the rules, New Orleans' Bonerama is something different.  They're not a traditional brass band, but they've got brass to spare—even with no trumpets or saxes in sight. Bonerama features a dizzying display of trombone talent; four trombones, to be exact. Band leaders Mark Mullins and Craig Klein (of Harry Connick's band) shelf any jazz subtlety for Bonerama, opting instead for heavy funk, rock 'n' roll, and pure horn muscle.  Mullins and Klein are joined by fellow boners Steve Suter and Rick Trolsen, imaginative and dynamic sousaphone player Matt Perrine and edgy experimental guitarist Bert Cotton.  The band also features a rotating cast of New Orleans ' finest drummers, including Russell Batiste, Stanton Moore, Eric Bolivar, and Terence Higgins.