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Singer-Songwriter Justin Hines Triumphs With US Debut

Optimism permeates throughout Days to Recall, Justin Hines U.S. debut album to be released August 2nd on Decca. The Canadian singer/songwriter’s collection of heartfelt songs about life and love showcase his considerable talents, and his will to overcome insurmountable obstacles.  The CD coincides with a PBS special of Hines in concert -- taped at Toronto’s Royal Cinema with special guests Ron Sexsmith, Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy, Sierra Noble and The Canadian Tenors -- slated to air multiple times across the U.S. during Public Television’s August pledge drive.

Justin Hines has thrived all his life against odds that would daunt someone with a less indomitable spirit.  Hines has Larsen Syndrome, a joint dislocation condition that confines him to a wheelchair.   He admits his condition has provided challenges, but primarily sees the good it has brought him and the inspiration he can provide others.  “There have been so many blessings. It’s afforded me so many other opportunities. It’s a bit of an attention grabber,” he says. “But then my job is to keep people interested, and keep their attention with my music.”

Highlights on Days To Recall include the first single, the instantly catchy “Tell Me I’m Wrong,” a duet with fellow Canadian/actress Jill Hennessy on the plaintive, “Why Not Love Me” and the uplifting “Say What You Will.”  The latter track took on a life of its own after a South African video featuring the Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu was used as part of a campaign to build 20 schools in 11 days.  Hines performed in South Africa this spring and saw the schools that will educate more than 22,000 students.

To hear “Tell Me I’m Wrong,” click here.

Music was integral throughout Justin’s young life.  He doesn’t remember it, but his mom tells him he wrote his first song when he was seven. In his late teens, he decided to teach himself how to play piano as a way to better express himself.  “I’d done a lot of writing with other people. The most frustrating thing was I could hear the song in my head, but I was relying on other people to write chords since I didn’t play anything,” he says.

Even though Justin grew up singing in church, the realization of pursuing his musical dreams happened at the most unlikely of places— at a Toronto Raptors’ basketball game in his hometown 15 years ago.  A then 14-year-old Justin won a vocal competition to sing the National Anthem at the game — both the Canadian and American -- and his world opened up before him. “In that moment, it all seemed possible,” he recalls. Thrown in the deep end, Hines has performed professionally ever since and realized he could not only survive, but succeed.

To watch the Justin Hines EPK click here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. | Hi-Dive | Denver, CO

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage last night at the Hi-Dive in Denver clearly on a mission from God. Wearing their traditional Nascar-style track jumpsuits and big ol mesh trucker caps, the Detroit duo of Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott made their debut in the great city of Denver on a tour supporting the release of their debut album, It’s a Corporate World.

Vanity Theft Premieres New Video, Add Dates to Tour

Fresh off releasing their latest EP, Anatomy, on October 26th, Vanity Theft is already busy gearing up for 2011. On top of releasing their upcoming album Get What You Came For digitally on February 1st (with the physical release following on March 1st), the band is also set to hit the road on an extensive North American tour with Hunter Valentine in February/March 2011!

To cap off the year, Vanity Theft premiered their new video for the Houses’ Haunted Tape remix of “Anatomy” today via NickyDigital.com! The band recruited Houses, a Lefse Records artist, to remix the track, who gave it a dark, ambient spin. The video is visually stunning, providing the perfect complement to Houses’ rework of the studio track.

Reminiscent of some of the best old school post riot-grrl indie sounds such as The Runaways, L7, Sleater Kinney, Vanity Theft tears it up live, leaving audiences as sweat-drenched as the band when it’s all over. After attracting the attention of former Disney Channel star Lalaine, who joined the band permanently earlier this year, the band set to work on the Anatomy EP, which dropped in October as a precursor to the upcoming full-length.


Get What You Came For finds the band at their very best: catchy, edgy, and dancey as hell. The album kicks off with the charging track “Trainwreck,” and doesn’t let you go until the final notes of “Missing Teeth” slowly fade out.

Upcoming 2011 Tour Dates w/ Hunter Valentine

February 2 - New York, NY - The Knitting Factory

February 3 – Philadelphia, PA – The M Room

February 4 - Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall

February 5 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone

February 7 - Atlanta, GA - Purgatory

February 9 - Webster, TX - Club Eden

February 10 - Austin, TX - Emo's

February 11 - San Antonio, TX - Korova

February 12 - Dallas, TX - Sue Ellen's

February 13 - Oklahoma City, OK - The Conservatory

February 15 – El Paso, TX – Lowbrow Palace

February 17 - Scottsdale, AZ - The Rogue Bar

February 18 - San Diego, CA - Soda Bar

February 19 – Hollywood, CA – The Roxy

February 20 - San Francisco, CA - Milk Bar

February 24 - Seattle, WA - Studio Seven

February 25 - Boise, ID - Neurolux

February 26 - Salt Lake City, UT - Burts Tiki

February 27 – Denver, CO – The Lion’s Lair

March 1 - Kansas City, MO - The Riot Room

March 2 - St. Louis, MO – Cicero’s

March 4 – Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews

March 5 – Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar

Michael Weiss Trio Performs at the Kitano

Pianist and composer Michael Weiss leads a trio in tribute to the late, great Detroit pianists Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan at the Kitano New York.  Joining Weiss are bassist George Mraz, who was a member of trios led by both Jones and Flanagan, and drummer Dennis Mackrel, a former member of Jones' trio.

The suave and sophisticated styles of Flanagan and Jones have left an important imprint on Weiss, who considers both pianists to have been mentors. Weiss enjoys a similar relationship with another hero of Detroit, Barry Harris, who, like Flanagan and Jones, shares an affinity for Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and mining a rich trove of neglected standards. Flanagan thought highly enough of Weiss that that he often attended his younger colleague's performances, including his 1992 Merkin Hall concert entitled "Rediscovered Rarities: Monk, Bud and Bird." When Flanagan was hospitalized briefly at one point, he even sent his wife to Bradley’s, the premiere piano room of the day in New York, to take note of Weiss’ repertoire. Last year Weiss and Jones shared the stage on the European festival circuit.

While Weiss still loves to draw from his unusually deep knowledge of jazz tunes and standards, his repertoire since the mid ‘90s has leaned toward his original compositions, which favor a meticulous attention to detail, rich harmonic schemes, formal ingenuity and imaginative melodic and rhythmic development. Still, while his writing has become fleshed out with a broader range of ideas and influences, his improvisations have never shed his bop-oriented roots. For this engagement, Weiss will perform a mix of originals, standards and selections by Thad Jones, Hank's  brother and a favorite composer of both Flanagan and Jones.

The Kitano is located at 66 Park Avenue. Set times are 8 and 10 p.m.There is a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum.  For reservations and more information: (212) 885-7119.  For more information about Weiss, please click here.

MORE BACKGROUND:

A native of Dallas, Texas, pianist and composer Michael Weiss’s extensive resume includes work with Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, Frank Wess, Slide Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, the Jazztet, Lou Donaldson, Charles McPherson, Von Freeman, George Coleman, Joe Wilder, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra,  Junior Cook and Bill Hardman. Weiss made his Village Vanguard debut as a leader in 2006 with his quintet. Reviewing the ensemble's performance, New York Times critic Nate Chinen praised Weiss' composing, playing and bandleading skills, noting that "he demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and organization." Chinen also wrote that Weiss was "a confident and sometimes sparkling presence on piano" and that his playing exhibited "sensitivity and logic, along with crisp control."

Groups led by Weiss have performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Stanford Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, NPR’s "Jazzset," and in New York at the Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Jazz Gallery, Smoke, WNYC and WQXR. In 2000, Weiss was awarded the BMI/Monk Institute Composers Competition grand prize, presented to him by Wayne Shorter for his piece, “El Camino,” which appears on Weiss' latest CD, “Soul Journey.” With influences as varied as Scriabin, Szymanowski and Shorter, Weiss' compositions focus on extended forms, thematic development and attention to detail. In 2003 Weiss was a recipient of the Doris Duke/Chamber Music America New Works grant, for which he wrote the suite “Three Doors.”

Weiss has recorded four albums as a leader, including “Soul Journey” (Sintra), “Milestones” (Steeplechase), “Power Station” (DIW) and “Presenting Michael Weiss” (Criss Cross). He has also recorded widely as a sideman, including four CDs with Johnny Griffin and dates with Charles McPherson, Frank Wess, Ronnie Cuber and others.

The Morning Pages Cover Lady Gaga

Brooklyn’s six-piece root-rockers The Morning Pages have just recorded an alt-country take on Lady Gaga’s "Telephone" along with a grainy lo-fi stock photography-esque video complete with slide guitars, cowboy hats and tin cans on strings, answering the question "How would "Telephone" play out in the 1850s?".  The ubiquitous song caught the attention of lead singer Grant Maxwell who decided to cover the song because "a great song is a great song and indie music doesn't have to be all dissonant and obscure and depressing all the time and on the other hand pop music could stand to sound a lot more organic and musical. My thought was they maybe we could combine the depth of roots music with the visceral enjoyment and popular appeal of mainstream music and get the next revolution started....also, I just couldn't get that song out of my head!" You can watch the new video HERE on YouTube.

With their 2007 EP The Company You Keep, The Morning Pages immediately stood out from other Brooklyn acts by tracing their roots back to country and folk influences such as Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and The Band. It was this EP that caught the attention of Russell Simins of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion who went on to produce their upcoming debut full length Rising Rain.

The album’s standouts include joyous foot-stompers like “With The Lord,” “Move To The Country” and “This City Keeps Me Down,” as well as plaintive ballads like the album’s first single “My Name Is Lion.”

The Morning Pages New York Dates:
April 9th – Brooklyn, NY @ Spike Hill
May 6th – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo
May 20th – New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall
May 27th – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom (Dylan Fest 2010)

Attention Colorado: Umphrey's is on the Way!

photos by Sam Holloway- for the Grateful Web

Chicago's favorite export is coming to Colorado, and I'm not talking about either crooked politicians or Da Bears.  I'm talking about Umphrey's McGee, who will be doing a four-night stint along the Front Range later this month, beginning at the Aggie in Fort Collins on the 22nd.  From there, UM will be stopping at the Boulder Theater on the 23rd, with back to back gigs in Denver at the Fillmore and Cervantes on the 24th, and a show in Breckenridge on the 25th

Umphrey's McGee is touring in support of their new album, Mantis, and are sure to draw some huge crowds along the way, so get your tickets now if you don't want to miss out.  For the album, Umphrey's is waging an innovative, and fan-driven pre-order campaign.  The more pre-orders that come in, the more bonus material becomes available.  The idea: fans spread the word so that everybody gets more swag.  Brilliant. 

Anyone not yet on the Umphrey's bandwagon deserves to know that the band is as innovative with their music as they are with their marketing.  Jazzy, jammy, danceable, psychedelic, intellectual, and above all experimental, UM is finding more fans and more acclaim all the time.  Last time they came through Boulder, we were lucky enough to be a part of the special all-acoustic Umphrey's experience.  This time, the band will be all-electric, turned up to 11, and pedaling high-energy mania like cheap beer – as much as you want for as long as you can take it.  The acoustic shows are fun, but this time it'll be Umphrey's in their element, the way they were meant to be seen. 

After they leave Colorado, Umphrey's McGee will hit the road again for the rest of their national tour, with stops basically everywhere from the here to the East Coast.  Check out the band's website for dates, and to download a free holiday EP featuring never-before released material culled from holiday shows over the past few years.  See you at the show!