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Rex Grants, Musical Caravan Events and The World As It Could Be

August began with our 2nd 3-day Institute on The World As It Could Be curriculum, presented in collaboration with the University of San Francisco. A filled class of 25 avidly took in the presented material to lea rn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and experience applying music, visual arts,  spoken word, performance arts and movement to express their personal connection to human rights issues.  The photo here shows the class members rehearsing for their culminating presentation.  The video of the culminating presentation helps demonstrate the intensely moving experience of working with the curriculum.  We are excited to know that the work done August 2-3 is now being applied in classrooms and communities in the Bay Area, as well as Milwaukee, WI!

On August 10th, we were privileged to experience a very special night of story telling by Bob Weir, Carolyn Garcia, John Perry Barlow, and Mickey Hart about Rex and other reflections, led by Bill Walton, and held at Bob's new TRI Studios. We'll soon have the video of the evening available.

As to Rex Musical Caravan events, the SF Giants made August 9th another great tribute to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, and once again generously included the Rex Foundation as a recipient of charitable proceeds.   Adding to this already positive energy is the enthusiastic support reflected in the following upcoming Caravan events:

  • Be part of the special project by Fan Mosaics, LLC, where 2,500 Jerry Garcia fans have the opportunity to include their photos in an officially licensed mosaic print of the Grateful Dead legend based on the noted photo taken by world-famous photographer Herb Greene. Here are the participation details.
  • Blair Babcock and the Blurry Pickers are donating half the proceeds of the download sales of their song "Fairlee Well" to Rex. Click here to read Blair Babcock's story about the song and hear "Fairlee Well."
  • On Saturday, September 10th, the Kind Buds once again perform in support of Rex at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northhampton, MA, as described in more detail here.
  • The Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson of Dark Star Orchestra, along with Particle, headline the Third Annual Pink Moon Music and Arts Festival September 15-18, 2011 in Rock Camp WV.  We were very pleased to learn that the impetus to support local area schools came from the Rex Jam at the All Good Festival. Check out the details of the festival and how Rex is generously supported.
  • Ann Arbor's own Macpodz are heading East and hopping on board the Rex Musical Caravan with a concert at the Brooklyn Bowl September 27. Here are the details.

Thanks to contributors like you who donate $5 or more, initiate Caravan events, support our program work, and take part in Rex benefits, we are able to carry out The World As It Could Be initiative, keep making our grants and generate positive community connections along the way.  Check out the list of outstanding 2011 beneficiaries so far, and see, as you explore our website, everything else that your support makes possible

Christian Kane's "Let Me Go" Blazes to No. 1 on CMT.com

Country music‘s newest renegade Christian Kane (Bigger Picture Group) raised the temperatures on the already-hot summer with the release of the video for his sophomore single “Let Me Go.” The steamy, angst-ridden song coupled with Kane’s first-rate acting skills brings the song to life, and fans are eating it up. The Roman White-directed love story debuted on Friday, August 5 at No. 2 and quickly rose to No. 1 on CMT.com and remained there throughout the weekend, beating out country video heavy hitters and their co-stars, including Brad Paisley (featuring Carrie Underwood); Jason Aldean;  Kenny Chesney (featuring Grace Potter); and Miranda Lambert. “Have You Seen Christian Kane's New Video? Fans can't get enough of his sexy new video, 'Let Me Go,'" advocates CMT’s feature block.

The country power ballad from Kane’s rowdy, debut album, “The House Rules,” tells a vivid and relatable story of the challenges and surprises that come with being in love. “I believe this ballad speaks to everyone,” says Kane. “Women are always smarter than us, but we never listen…they seem to always know what's better for us than we do.”

Shot on location in the desert of East Lancaster, California, the video was directed by the legendary Roman White, whose credits include videos for Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire, Justin Bieber and Martina McBride, as well as the 2011 CMT Music Award for “Video of the Year” for Taylor Swift’s hit “Mine.” Passionate about storytelling, White has been nominated for 11 Emmy awards and has taken home three. White and Kane previously worked together on the 2007 Carrie Underwood video for “So Small.”

The video highlights the beautiful desert landscape of Southern California, which creates a distinctly vintage tone, while the moving lyrics coupled with Kane’s powerful narrative vocals create an effect that is simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful. The visual response to the song hits all the right notes, depicting a couple very much in love, but on the brink of big changes.

“[Let Me Go”] is one of my favorite powerful songs on the album,” says Kane. “I never sing about stuff I don't know about. It's just not me.” While Kane’s acting credentials are second to none, it is clear that his performance in the video goes beyond acting.  “This one hits way close to home,” confirms Kane.

“Let Me Go” is holding strong on the fan-voted site, CMT.com, and Kane says he is grateful for the support of loya

The Deep Dark Woods to Release The Place I Left Behind

The Deep Dark Woods wake the ghosts of Appalachia with their prairie gothic pyre-side tales. On their new record, The Place I Left Behind, the band finds continuity in themes of temporal and geographic alienation, neglected inward trails, and the scars of abandoned intimacies.

Buoyed by the success of working with mastermind recording engineer Darren Van Niekerk, on their self produced CBC Songquest single “Charlie's (is Coming Down)” the band decided to approach their new album the same way. Recorded in Halifax with Van Niekerk behind the board once again, The Deep Dark Woods’ first self produced album allowed them to experiment in the studio as never before. Toying with numerous reverbs, vintage amps, instruments and mellotron, they also tried some never before played versions and arrangements of some of the album's songs. While more physically and mentally exhausting than previous albums, it turned out exactly the way the band wanted it to and the reward is their most realized album to date.

The record opens with a song about Saskatoon’s rougher edges. “West Side Street” is a study in contrasts – finespun vocals and a gently rolling melody cushion the gloomy story. “The Place I Left Behind” is loosely based on an old folk standard. Gorgeously morose, the title track confirms that The Deep Dark Woods capture lonesome yearning at its loveliest. “Sugar Mama” is a sweet and lively invitation to tap toes and shake off the blues; a seeming coming-of-age story is treated with playful banjo and an airy gait.

A rainstorm over the desert of modern music, The Place I Left Behind offers murder ballads alongside scrappy rockers, lovesick hymnals and slow-dance waltzes. The album illuminates folk traditions without stripping the shadows of roots music history. The Place I Left Behind echoes with traces of time and space that are never fully abandoned or forgotten.

The Place I Left Behind will be released on Six Shooter Records in Canada on August 2nd and Sugar Hill Records in the US and worldwide on October 18th.

Keeping the Show on the Road With Railroad Earth

After 10 successful years on the road, Railroad Earth will mark their 10th anniversary with a special concert this May at the prestegious Wellmont Theater, in Montclair, NJ. The milestone will be one of many key performances throughout the Mid-West and Southern States, marking a turning point for the 6-piece rootsy Americana act who has shown remarkable growth in the last year.

Stillwater, NJ band, Railroad Earth, known in most circles as an Americana / improvisational band, brings the music world the rare blend of feel-good music filled with introspection and story-filled lyrics that shape not only the song, but the perspective of their devoted 'super-fan' listeners. Yet, this is not just another touring band to hit the scene with a large fan base that follows them from show to show. They are a group of deeply grounded musicians sharing a story that has been woven through a living counterculture since the 1960's --- when tuning in and dropping out was part of the daily norm.

Featuring an unusual cast of characters and instruments the Railroad Earth sound is made up of 6 parts, including: Todd Sheaffer (Lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Tim Carbone (Violin, electric guitar, vocals), John Skehan (Mandolin, bouzouki, vocals), Andy Goessling (Acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, dobro, lap steel, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, saxophones and vocals), Carey Harmon (Drums, hand percussion, vocals) and Andrew Altman (Upright and electric bass). The project features soaring arrangements, touching ballads and the kind of on the spot mid-song improvisation that leaves fans clamoring for more, and steady ticket sales growth in every market they visit!

For more information about Railroad Earth or tickets go to: www.railroadearth.com or check out their Electronic Press Kit

Up until the release of their October 2010 self-titled album (which gained great reviews in publications such as: Vanity Fair, Men's Health, Blurt, New York Time Out and, most recently, the esteemed music review blog, Daytrotter), Railroad Earth has nearly skirted the limelight - favoring the kind of success that connects them directly with their fans in a near instant communal experience. And in turn, the group has grown vastly over the years, primarily on rock solid national ticket sales and word-of-mouth grassroots marketing. And while Railroad Earth has made cameos on the pages of indie and mainstream journals as recently as last month, their dedication to the grit of American life and the road as traveling minstrels prevails.

Randy Newman @ the Boulder Theatre | 3/9/11

Randy Newman has long been one of the most musically and lyrically ambitious singer-songwriters ever to be at play in the fields of popular music.

Born on November 28, 1943 to a renowned musical family, by seventeen Newman was a working songwriter. In 1968 he debuted with Randy Newman, and before long an unusually wide range of artists were recording his songs.

Critics lauded the musical depth, edge and literary quality of his lyrics as the 70's brought 12 Songs, Live, the classic Sail Away and brilliant and controversial Good Old Boys. Little Criminal caught the public's ear with the hit "Short People". Born Again followed.

In the Eighties, Newman's foray into film composing earned him his first two of sixteen Oscar nominations. Trouble In Paradise and the Grammy-winning score for The Natural followed. Next, Land of Dreams was considered another breakthrough work.

In the Nineties, Newman earned an Emmy and several more Grammys for work on films like Toy Story, James and the Giant Peach, Bug's Life and Toy Story 2. Newman also tickled his adult audience with his darkly hilarious take on Faust. The four-CD compilation: Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman and Bad Love followed, and in 2002, Newman won his first Oscar for Best Original Song for Monsters Inc. He has also earned 5 Grammy awards and 2 Emmy awards throughout his career.

The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. I (2003), his first effort for Nonesuch, introduces powerful new solo versions of early classics and recent gems alike. The eighteen songs are an intimate and powerful reminder of the enduring work that Newman has established. In 2008 he released Harps and Angels; for Nonesuch records. His first collection of new songs since 2009's Bad Love.

Most recently, Newman wrote the songs and score for Disney's The Princess and the Frog as well as Toy Story 3. He has earned two more Academy Award nominations(19 total) in the Best Original Song category for Almost There and Down In New Orleans.

On June 2nd 2010 Newman received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

More Info / Buy Tickets

Fishbone Embarking on 2011 Tour

On February 8th hyperactive punk/funk/ska legends Fishbone will embark on a 25 date cross-country tour including stops at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins (Feb 10) and Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom  in Denver (Feb 11).

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the highly innovative and influential Los Angeles outfit. Perhaps the most original band to emerge in the early 80’, Fishbone went on to release over 10 albums and influence countless bands including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Public Enemy, and Jane’s Addiction.

Complimenting the release of the 2010 documentary Everyday Sunshine- The Story of Fishbone, the boys have been back in the studio working on material for a to be announced new album set for release in 2011. Fishbone is a musical gem of the L.A. music scene, and paved the way for modern music. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of one of the most high-energy, genre-bending concerts you may see in your life!

Check out their website for a complete list of dates, and to purchase tickets.

Here’s a link to the Everyday Sunshine- The Story of Fishbone trailer.

Read Grateful Web's review of the Fort Collins show.

Kids of Widney High Release Full-Length Documentary

“After I take over the world, I want to learn how to play the bass,” says effervescent, long-time Kids of Widney High member Cain Fonseca. One of nine singer/songwriters, Cain is a young adult from East LA with developmental disabilities who—along with the rest of the Kids—writes, records, and performs his own unique brand of rock music.

Begun in 1988 at special-education high school Joseph P. Widney High, the Kids grew out of an adaptive songwriting class that is still in operation today and continues to churn out specialized musicians and singers, some of whom have formed their own permutation of “Kids of Widney High”-esque bands.

Having in the past been compared to the likes of: Daniel Johnston, Wesley Willis, Langley Schools Music Project, and Florence Foster Jenkins, the Kids of Widney High have been covered in both concert performances and on album recordings by such hot bands as: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Aquabats, and Osaka Popstar (comprised of members of: the Ramones, the Misfits, and Black Flag). They also boast a dedicated fanbase that includes everyone from Marilyn Manson and Fiona Apple to actor James Garner and filmmaker Spike Jonze. Playing the LA leg of the Warped Tour some years back, a prominent record producer handed to the Kids their first album—made by an earlier lineup of members—that had at one time been owned by Kurt Cobain.

In the past, the Kids have worked with musical luminaries Jackson Browne (who assisted them with the recording of the second of four albums they have out to date), Mr. Bungle/Faith No More frontman Mike Patton (who took them on their first tour along with Bungle, and who put out a Kids album on indie pioneering label Ipecac), and various producers/writers from South Park who worked with the Kids and a similar group, MTV’s How’s Your News, on a television pilot some years back. The Kids were also prominently featured in comedic hit film The Ringer starring Johnny Knoxville and Katherine Heigl.

Having now broadened their artistic endeavors to encapsulate: fine art, films, music videos, short documentaries of their own, creative writings, poetry, and fashion designs, the Kids decided upon taking their first headlining, full-length tour up the West Coast (from Los Angeles to Seattle and back) two summers ago. Along the way, the Kids played a number of gigs at high-profile venues, made time for local print/online media syndicates and radio shows, exhibited their artwork and short films, and read their writings (including one oration at Beat epicenter City Lights in San Francisco).

Sponsored in part by Sony PlayStation, this tour was also an opportunity for the majority of Kids members—all of whom come from financially challenged backgrounds—to see a world outside of the city of Los Angeles. But, as Kids member (and self-proclaimed “class clown”) Peewee proudly intones, “We’re not here to tell a sob story. No! We’re having fun. Are you having fun?”

Act Your Age: The Kids of Widney High Story is a vibrant, life-affirming, funny, and wholly compassionate film that explores just what happens when a specialized group of artists such as the Kids of Widney High finally take to the road as they visit new cities and peoples, teaching their fans about the changing world of the disabled community at large. Along the way, the Kids fight, they love, they grow apart and together, they party—as do all raucous rock bands on such rapid-fire tours!—and come out the other end, as Kids frontman Shelly Goodhope says of himself, “A better man.”

Supplemented by over ten years of footage from various venues, fans, groupies, and the Kids themselves, Act Your Age is also an incredibly intimate portrait of a subculture that has been for far too long misunderstood and, ultimately, disenfranchised in the eyes of the general mainstream public.

Comparable to such independent mainstay music documentaries as: Dig!, End of the Century, and Fugazi’s Instrument, Act Your Age: The Kids of Widney High Story is a poignant and often funny look at a group of artists who are ready to challenge conventional notions about persons with disabilities and contemporary art in America today.

It’s time for everyone to see the world through the eyes of a Kid!

Learn more about The Kids of Widney High at:

www.KidsOfWidneyHigh.com.

www.YouTube.com/ProfKlickberg

www.MySpace.com/TheKidsOfWidneyHigh

Also, be sure to check out the FREE preview.  Here is information on the preview:

ACT YOUR AGE: THE KIDS OF WIDNEY HIGH STORY
Monday, October 18th & 7PM
99 minutes + Q&A with filmmaker and KOWH member
CU Campus, ATLAS 102
Trailer | Website | Youtube

Colin Stetson Announces US Dates w/ Arcade Fire

Colin Stetson has performed the solo saxophone music of New History Warfare in practically every type of venue that music inhabits, and although this music may seem challenging on it's surface, every audience in every room in every city has received it with a warm and energized embrace.

From chanting and clapping crowds of rock fans while opening up for the Arcade Fire in a string of Get out the Vote rallies for the Obama Campaign last summer to a captivated and curious standing room only in rural Germany. The monks at the National Shrine of St. Francis Assissi were so thrilled with an easter sunday performance that they had him back for two more in the years to come. It is a spectacle of physical extremes (Lexy Benaim of the Harlem Shakes likened it to watching the Olympics, and Alex Green at Caught in the Carousel calls him "the Roger Federer of avant-garde instrumental music") and an intense and cathartic experience of sound and lyricism.

Both sonically vast and melodically accessible. Allmusic.com's Sean Westergard had this to say: "Colin Stetson is an absolute master of the saxophone...New History Warfare, Vol. 1 is a truly impressive, fully formed, and highly individual musical statement... Stetson's compositions and ability to tell a musical story are what make this a great album. You haven't heard saxophone music quite like this".

Aside from his work as a soloist, Stetson has brought his unique voice on winds and brass to stage and studio with dozens of artists, including Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Fiest, Bon Iver, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Marc Ribot, David Byrne, Jolie Holland, Sinead O'Connor, LCD Soundsystem, My Brightest Diamond, Angelique Kidjo, Anthony Braxton, and The National.

Tour Dates:

Tue Oct 5th - Big Sur CA Henry Miller Library

Thu Oct 7th - Los Angeles CA Shrine Auditorium

Fri Oct 8th - Los Angeles CA Shrine Auditorium

Sun Oct 10th - Mexico City Palacio de los Deportes

Tue Oct 12th - Monterrey Banamex Theater

The Voice Project - Singing Ugandan Child Soldiers Back Home

The Voice Project launches to support Ugandan women’s groups who are using music to bring the child soldiers home - Featuring Andrew Bird, Mike Mills, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Joseph Arthur, Joe Purdy, Dawes, SoKo & many more to come...

The Voice Project a US based non-profit supporting the women of Northern Uganda who have been using music effectively to bring soldiers home from Africa’s longest running war, the 24 year old conflict that has devastated the region of Northern Uganda, Congo, Southern Sudan and CAR.

Many soldiers fighting with Joseph Kony's LRA were abducted as children and forced to fight. Many were made to kill their own friends and family, and while many do eventually escape, they often hide in the bush ashamed and afraid to come home because of what they were made to do.

Women in the region, widows and rape survivors, have been banding together into groups to care for each other and the orphans left by the war. Often without the right to even own land, these women have been taking a lead role in the Peace and Reconciliation efforts, one of their main tools: using messages carried in songs spread on the radio and by word of mouth into the bush to let the soldiers know that they are forgiven and that they should come home. And it's working. Soldiers have been hearing the songs and coming home.

Considering the atrocities the women have been subjected to, this is clearly not only one of the greatest uses of music, but also one of the greatest acts of compassion, love, and forgiveness one can find. Co-Founder Hunter Heaney first heard of the women’s efforts and how they were using music to call the soldiers home while working at an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons) in the tiny village of Agoro on the Uganda/Sudan border in 2008. He learned the women’s songs from different groups in the region and when they asked him to teach them some, the first one to come to mind was Joe Purdy’s “Suitcase.” Heaney brought the story of how the women were using music home with him, telling friends like music producer Chris Holmes and filmmaker Anna Gabriel. Together they assembled a team of friends like Internet entrepreneurs Kelleigh Faldi and CC Lagator, Web Developer Jason Young, Nicole Grable from the NGO world, and music industry veterans like Jay Sweet, Andrea von Foerster and Ana Calderon, and together started The Voice Project to support the women.

The story was passed to Alex Ebert from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros who offered to combine the record release party for his new band’s debut album Up From Below with the project to raise money for the ladies. The money was used to start a small farm in Gulu. The women celebrated and sent their thanks in song, a phone call to Heaney singing the Joe Purdy tune he had taught them nine months before, and a short video of them singing the chorus to Edward Sharpe’s “Home” which has been making its way around the Internet.

From there, the idea for the “cover chain” was born. Taking the lead from the women in Uganda, the friends decided to keep the chain going and have artists pass on the story of the women to other musicians by each covering another’s song, with The Voice Project team filming each link as a series of episodes that would eventually circle back around to the women in Uganda, posting each online and raising money along the way from sponsors, advertisers and donors to support the women, the peace movement, and rehabilitation programs for former child soldiers.

Episodes featuring Andrew Bird, Mike Mills, Dawes, Joseph Arthur, Tom Freund, Joe Purdy and SoKo have already been shot and posted, with upcoming links from Peter Gabriel, Devendra Banhart, The Submarines, Bedouin Clash and many more on the way. A number of non-profits have also been getting behind the project in hopes of raising awareness and support for the war-torn region, including Oxfam International, Witness, HOPE and others.

Eoin Harrington Adds Brandi Carlile Dates

San Francisco-based singer, songwriter and musician Eoin Harrington, known for his passionate vocal style, energetic stage presence and infectiously catchy songs, is kicking 2010 into high gear with a flurry of activity that will culminate with a string of concerts in March opening for Brandi Carlile.  Harrington has been captivating music fans in San Francisco since relocating from his native Dublin several years ago and has sold out every one of his local appearances since the release of his debut recording, STORY, last year.

A classically-trained pianist, Harrington possesses a clear vibrant tenor, and his vocals have been described as reminiscent of Maroon 5's Adam Levine, James Blunt and "a grittier Elton John."  His signature "blue-eyed soul" is evident on STORY, for which he composed all of the songs.   "...his 'Story' CD illustrates the charm and craft that have put Harrington-whose first name is pronounced Owen-at the top of the many observers' lists of the Bay Area artists," wrote Shay Quillen in the San Jose Mercury News, while Music Connection added "his debut shines with stellar song craft and a distinctive, audience-pleasing artistry."

Eoin is happy to let others describe his music.  "I have a really hard time with that," he says, "because it's a combination of all that I've been exposed to so far in my life, from Irish traditional to classical to heavy rock to R&B."

Harrington is enjoying full rotation air play on major stations back in his home country of Ireland, and, in addition to the album, his fans will be treated to several new media products in the coming months. iEoin, a downloadable iPhone application, is available free at the iStore. The iEoin will allow fans to keep up to date on live shows, blog entries, videos and other news on the artist. His website has been redesigned and launched at www.eoinharrington.com where, in addition to streaming his latest music, his electronic press kit is available for viewing.

A video for the song "Play Your Piano" from STORY was recently completed and will initially be available for viewing on the iPhone application after which It will be posted on his website. Eoin has just scored the entire soundtrack for the new motion picture, Love On the Line, scheduled for release at the end of the year. He also makes his acting debut in two cameo appearances in the film.

Among Harrington's most recent Bay area performances was an appearance at the TEDxSV (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference held in the Silicon Valley at which he charmed the organizers by writing a song especially for the auspicious event.

Other shows include a guest appearance at the 100th Anniversary of KCBS-TV and an annual KFOG Radio concert at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland with Matt Kearney and Brandi Carlile.

Harrington, who has previously appeared with artists such as Alanis Morrisette, Sara Bareilles, Bret Dennen, Serena Ryder, Switchfoot, Pat Monahan (Train) and Back Door Slam, is also set to open for Brandi Carlile in concert.

The shows are as follows:

March 15--Knitting Factory, Reno NV;

March 17 & 18--Tower Theatre, Bend OR

March 19--Mount Baker Theatre,