Classic blues singer Alberta Hunter reissued on RockBeat Records

It’s difficult to decide which was the most remarkable facet of pioneering blues chanteuse Alberta Hunter’s incredible career. Was it her role in the vanguard of the “classic blues” movement of the early 1920s, when she recorded prolifically for Paramount and other labels during the industry’s first foray into the idiom? Her entertainment of grateful U.S. troops during not one war, but two? Or her heartwarming late 1970s/early 1980s comeback on the New York cabaret circuit after more than two decades away from singing professionally, when she was well into her 80s? One fact is inescapable: when she died on October 17, 1984 in New York at age 89, Hunter was a genuine star once more.

In 1974, the singer had largely retired from music due to health concerns. But musical pursuits called once again when club owner Barney Josephson invited her to star for six weeks at the Cookery, his hip Greenwich Village cabaret, in October 1977. The live recording of a subsequent 1981 Cookery performance resulted in Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery, which will be released on both CD and 180-gram vinyl August 30, 2011 on RockBeat Records, a new label focused on quality reissues and new recordings by heritage artists, distributed by eOne Distribution. Musicologist Bill Dahl contributed liner notes. (The title was previously available on CD, but has been re-mastered and will now be available on CD and 180-gram vinyl for the first time.)

Born on April 1, 1895 in Memphis, Hunter was weaned on W.C. Handy’s pioneering blues. By 16 she was in Chicago in the midst of a celebrated five-year residence at the city’s Dreamland club, singing in front of King Oliver & His Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong. Hunter made her recording debut in 1921 for Black Swan Records, one of the first black-owned labels, with “How Long, Sweet Daddy, How Long” b/w “Bring Back the Joys.” From there she went to Paramount Records, cutting half a dozen sides including the original “Down Hearted Blues,” which she wrote with piano accompanist Lovie Austin and forcefully revisited on the 1981 live album.  (Bessie Smith, the immortal Empress of the Blues, ended up scoring a bigger hit with the song in 1923.) Hunter continued to record prolifically for Paramount, backed by Fletcher Henderson and, on 1923’s “Stingaree Blues,” Fats Waller.

Having conquered Chicago, Hunter moved to New York in 1923. She recorded for Gennett, OKeh, RCA Victor and Columbia. During this time she ventured to jazz-obsessed France in 1927, where she co-starred with Paul Robeson in a production of Showboat and recorded into the ’30s for HMV. When she returned to the U.S., she recorded for ARC, Decca and Bluebird.  She hosted a radio program in the ’30s and Broadway welcomed her back in 1939, when she shared the stage with Ethel Waters in Mamba’s Daughters. When World War II broke out, Hunter boldly served her country in the USO, entertaining troops across the globe. She continued into the Korean conflict.

There were scattered post-war sessions. But when her beloved mother died in 1954 and after starring in a Broadway flop, Hunter bowed out of performing to train as a nurse. Upon graduation in 1957 at age 62 — an age at which many folks contemplate retirement — she began a new career at a New York hospital. Other than recording a couple of Chris Albertson-produced LPs cut two weeks apart in 1961 (Songs We Taught Your Mother, a set for Prestige Bluesville also featuring Victoria Spivey and Lucille Hegamin) and Chicago: The Living Legends for Riverside, she kept a determinedly low profile for more than two decades — afraid the hospital would learn how far past mandatory retirement age she was and let her go.

In 1974, Hunter was forced out of her job by hospital regulations. It was October 1977 when Cookery’s Josephson invited her to headline his room. Next, legendary A&R man John Hammond cut an album’s worth of her classics (with a few new ones) for the Columbia soundtrack of director Alan Rudolph’s 1978 film Remember My Name. Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas invited her to brighten their TV talkfests, 60 Minutes profiled her, and Columbia recorded three more albums.

The live recordings that form Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery are from one of her many triumphant evenings at the club. Her sense of swing and theatricality remained impeccable, with longtime pianist and arranger Gerald Cook and sturdy upright bassist Jimmy Lewis providing sterling accompaniment. Hunter glided through saucy double-entendre-loaded numbers (“Handy Man,” “Two-Fisted Workin’ Man”), time-honored standards (a rip-roaring “I Got Rhythm,” the tender “Georgia On My Mind”), and the touching ballads “The Love I Have From You” (from Remember My Name) and “You’re Welcome To Come Back Home.”

MAGIC TRIP: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place

Z2 Entertainment is proud to present Magnolia Pictures Release, “Magic Trip:  Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place” at the Boulder Theater on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 12h for $12.50 General Admission

In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.

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“Magic Trip”

Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place

Boulder Theater

Tuesday, August 30th

Doors:  7:30 pm

Show Time:  8:00 pm

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Will Hoge Set To Release NUMBER SEVEN On 9/27!

Critically acclaimed Nashville singer/songwriter Will Hoge’s seventh studio album, aptly titled NUMBER SEVEN, is set to be released on Sept. 27 on Ryko.  Its eleven songs survey the struggles of the heart that are Hoge’s songwriting stock in trade while revealing enticing range and freshness on the sonic front. Acting as his own producer for the first time, Will says this album feels truer to his personal vision than any he’s made.

“We took a lot of time in making this album,” explains Hoge.  “We started laying down tracks in my living room, then stepped away from it for about six months.  We were able to come back, re-record and scrap some other stuff and I believe we came out with a much better record because of it.  It afforded us the ability to take a long hard look at ourselves and what we were doing musically.”

The lead single, “When I Get My Wings,” is set to impact radio on Mon., Aug. 1 and highlights Hoge’s full-throated Otis Redding-style vocal with a heavenly host of Memphis-inspired horns.

NUMBER SEVEN follows up on Hoge’s 2009 release THE WRECKAGE, which was hailed as “welcome and worth the wait” by USA Today,  “triumphant” by the BBC and American Songwriter noted that the “eleven tightly crafted songs retain the artist’s self-assured, Southern swagger.” The long time road warrior is planning a rigorous touring schedule with upcoming headlining dates this fall. Details and ticket information will be announced in the coming weeks.

For updates and more information, visit www.willhoge.com.

The Avett Brothers Live from Red Rocks, This Saturday on iClips.net

The Avett Brothers’ sold-out show, taking place on July 9th from Colorado’s famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre, produced by AEG LIVE Rocky Mountains, will be available for live webstream on a pay-per-view basis at iClips.net. The full performance will also be delivered in real-time to the world's largest HDTV screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, bringing the Avett Brothers’ amazing local fan base the opportunity to view the historical show from Red Rocks.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway, home to the massive 80’ x 200’ Panasonic HDTV, will host Avett Brothers fans on the evening of July 9th, supplying concert-grade speakers to turn the infield area in front of the video board into a one-of-a-kind concert venue. Tickets for the July 9th simulcast are on sale now and can be purchased at the speedway ticket office or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

“The speedway has been a hometown landmark for us our whole lives and we're proud to have an opportunity for our music to echo through that historical infield,” said Seth Avett. “For us, performing at Red Rocks and airing live in Concord is about the most ideal situation for being in two amazing places at once.”

The Avetts’ popularity skyrocketed on the heels on their major label debut, the 2009 album “I and Love and You.” Recently, the band has become accustomed to performing sold out concerts and in February they performed at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles alongside Bob Dylan. “We are so fortunate to travel and play the many places we do,” stated Scott Avett.

In addition to delivering the famed Avett Brothers, the online broadcast will also offer the full performance of the evening’s opening act, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The performances for all the artists will be made available for fans to purchase at iclips.net.

The Grownup Noise Announce Summer Tour

Four years and five national tours since the release of their last album, The Grownup Noise’s latest record, This Time With Feeling, has definitely proven itself to be worth the wait. Carefully blending elements of pop, folk and rock, the band bridges the gap between indie and Americana. The record was mixed in North Carolina by studio master Scott Solter (Spoon, Okkervil River). Fusing tranquil lyrics and harmonies with an assortment of orchestrated flourishes including cellos, pianos and accordions, all five members of The Grownup Noise are multi-instrumentalists.

The album opens with “Strawmen,” a lush arrangement that evokes feelings of peace and clarity. The playful “Six Foot Solemn Oath” immediately launches into a duet lead by intertwining piano and strings. “Carnival” lifts the tempo with a powerful folk-rock hook and lyrics that tell the tale of a magical love. Sorrowful lead single “The Artist Type” boasts an irresistible melody, expertly uniting gentle string arrangements and booming piano.

Check out “The Artist Type” MP3 HERE.

The Grownup Noise will kick off a national summer tour in support of This Time With Feeling. Described by the Portland Press Herald as combining “smart lyrics with keen vocals” and adding that “its songs are doses of melodic sunshine,” the Boston-based quintet offer a kinetic, emotional warmth. Catch them live in your city!

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The Grownup Noise Tour Dates

8/3: Philadelphia, PA @ Danger Danger Gallery
8/4: Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge
8/5: Columbus, OH @ Kafe Kerouac
8/6: Louisville, KY @ Uncle Slayton's
8/7: Dayton, OH @ South Park Tavern
8/8: Chicago, IL @ Schubas
8/9: Nashville, TN @ Five Spot
8/11: Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
8/16: Santa Cruz, CA - Daytime show
8/18: San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
8/19: Sacramento, CA @ Distillery
8/23: Portland, OR @ Solar Panel Company - Daytime show
8/23: Portland, OR @ Knife Shop
8/24: Seattle, WA @ Hi-Dive

2011 MassJazz Schedule Announced

MassJazz has released its annual schedule of jazz and blues festivals and outdoor concerts taking place in Massachusetts this summer and fall. The schedule includes a dozen outdoor jazz festivals across the Commonwealth, plus hundreds of outdoor concerts taking place in city parks and town squares, at museums and cultural venues, and at tourist spots around the state.

“Massachusetts has a lot to offer visitors, from our champion sports teams and our rich history to the stunning landscapes and abundance of cultural riches,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.  “It’s all here and the vibrant music scene – especially jazz and blues - is another great reason to spend time in the Commonwealth this summer. ”

The Massachusetts festival season kicks off with the Hoop City Jazz & Art Festival in Springfield on July 8-10 and ends with the Pittsfield Jazz Festival in western Massachusetts on October 7-20.  Wall pointed to the strong jazz presence across Massachusetts, with festivals or concerts taking place in every region of the state.

“For tourists who savor jazz and blues – two of America’s greatest art forms – Massachusetts has a terrific slate of festivals and outdoor events this season,” said MassJazz founder Michael P. Quinlin.  “And add to that the jazz clubs, campus events, and live jazz brunches at hotels and restaurants, and you have a music lover’s paradise.”

In July, MassJazz is issuing its 3rd annual MassJazz Travel Guide, a free 40-page magazine with jazz profiles, stories and listings on the state's vibrant jazz scene.  The Guide is available at jazz venues, tourism kiosks, and cultural sports around Massachusetts.

Formed in 2009, MassJazz promotes the state’s jazz scene year round to the travel industry, in concert with Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism and other partners.  For more details on jazz in Massachusetts, visit MassJazz.com.

Click here for Jazz Festivals | Click here for Outdoor Concert Series.

Great American Taxi's "Blair Mountain" is free mp3; supports WV mining ecology

For Great American Taxi and frontman Vince Herman, who grew up in West Virginia, fighting for social justice in Appalachia and calling for an end to mountaintop removal seems the natural thing to do.  According to a recent studypublished last week in the journal Environmental Research, a "significantly higher" rate of birth defects exists in babies born near mountaintop removal mining sites than those in non-mining areas. Mountaintop removal mining is a particularly environmentally destructive type of resource extraction that involves using explosives to blow the tops off of mountains to expose coal underneath the soil and rock.

So it’s no surprise that “Blair Mountain,” the aptly named title of the first single from the band’s forthcoming yet-to-be-titled new album (set for release this fall), premiered exclusively on the Sierra Club’s special public service call-to-action video, Battle for Blair Mountain. The song was recorded in May with Todd Snider producing. Master folk musician Tim O'Brien, a West Virginia native recently inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame, plays banjo and fiddle on the track.

GAT is encouraging fans to download a free MP3 of “Blair Mountain” from the band’s website and get involved in restoring Blair Mountain to the National Register in support of the Sierra Club’s recently filed legal petition with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to make Blair Mountain off limits to mining.

“I wrote the song “Blair Mountain” to try and do my part to let people know about what we as working people stand to lose if Blair Mountain is destroyed,” said Herman. “As the grandson of a proud union miner, and former resident of the mountain state, this struggle connects deeply. The coal wars are not over in this country as whole communities are destroyed, water tables ruined and mountains bombed daily in what has become a national sacrifice zone to the interests of the coal companies. I hope that his song may help get us closer to ending the destruction of the most diverse forests in America.”

Great American Taxi continues its summer tour; June highlights included concerts with Barry Sless (Phil and Friends, David Nelson Band, Moonalice) at the Nelson Family Vineyards on 6/19, at the Hopmonk in Sebastopol on 6/22, and special guests New Monsoon in Santa Cruz on 6/23. More surprise guests will be announced for the Eldo in Crested Butte on 7/9 and GAT played with Todd Snider on 6/25 and 6/26.



Great American Taxi includes Vince Herman, Chad Staehly, guitarist Jim Lewin, bassist Brian Adams and drummer Chris Sheldon.

The Yardbirds Tour The States in September

The Yardbirds will be touring the States this September, from Massachusetts to Hawaii, September 1 through the 23.  This is rock and roll that influenced musicians from the 1960s to current day.

The Yardbirds is original members: rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty, and a new generation of musicians: singer/acoustic guitarist/harpist Andy Mitchell (since 2009), bassist David Smale (since 2009), and lead guitarist Ben King (since 2005).  Merchandise will include Chris' original photographic art, which includes the halo portrait for Jimmy Page from LED ZEPPELIN 1.  That photo has been autographed by both Jimmy and Chris, who will sell that work in private.

The Yardbirds innovated 1960s guitar, with fuzz tone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo, improved amplification….and using a bow to play guitar.  The group paved the way for the careers of Eric Clapton (1963-'65)  Jeff Beck ('65-'66), and Jimmy Page (66-'68, first as bassist, then guitarist when Beck left).  The group drew some repertoire from the blues acts of the day, including Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, and Bo Diddley, and The Yardbirds hits were some of the best songs of the British Invasion: “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” "Shapes of Things," “I'm A Man,” and “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Train Kept A- Rolling,”  “Dazed and Confused.” “I'm A Man,”  and “Over Under Sideways Down,” and “Better Man Than I.”

The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.  Soon after the induction, Jim and Chris reformed the Yardbirds, first playing at London's Marquee club, on a bill with the newly reformed Animals.

In 2003, Steve Vai's Favored Nations label released their album BIRDLAND, an album of new songs that featured guest appearances from Vai, Joe Satriani, Slash, Brian May, Steve Lukather, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and John Rzeznik.  In 2005 guitarist Ben King joined the group, who recorded LIVE AT B.B. KING BLUES CLUB on July 19, 2006.  That came out in 2007, included a version of “I'm a Man” that played on The Simpsons that year.

The Yardbirds has continued to tour.  An institution in popular music, blues, rock and roll, the group made an indelible mark on the music and culture of both the 1960s and future generations.

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CONFIRMED DATES:

Sept. 1: Summer Music Series, Springfield, MA
Sept. 2: Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT
Sept. 3: Tupelo Music Hall, White River Junction, VT
Sept. 4: Tupelo Music Hall, Londonerry, NH
Sept. 5 Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT
Sept. 7 BB Kings, New York, NY
Sept. 8: Penn's Peak, Jim Thorpe, PA
Sept. 9: Music Theatre, Westbury, NY
Sept. 10: Parilla Center, Rockville, MD
Sept. 11: Rams Head, Annapolis, MD
Sept. 15: New Showroom, Hawaiian Brians, Honolulu, HI
Sept. 16: Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Maui, HI
Sept. 17: Horoka Peoples Theatre, Big Island, HI
Sept. 21 Key Club, Hollywood, CA
Sept. 22: Coachhouse, Santa Ana, CA
Sept. 23:  Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, CA
Sept. 24:  Ramona Mainstage, Ramona ( San Diego ) CA

Zee Avi Announces Sophmore Album "Ghostbird"

25-year-old Malaysian singer songwriter Zee Avi announces the release of her sophomore album Ghostbird through Brushfire and Monotone Records on August 23. Avi took her fresh batch of tunes to Brushfire Records’ Solar Powered Plastic Plant studios and got down to business with producer Mario Caldato, Jr., best known for his work with the Beastie Boys and Brazilian artists like Bebel Gilberto.
Ghostbird (the literal translation for owl in Avi’s native language) was born in her Brooklyn kitchen last summer; however it was a trip to the Florida Everglades where Avi found endless inspiration and wrote the album’s first single, “The Book of Morris Johnson,” an upbeat song inspired by the Floridian folk artist.
A video preview of the recording of the album featuring a glimpse of three new songs: “The Book of Morris Johnson,” “Swell Window,” and “31 Days in June” can be found at www.zeeavi.com/ghostbird
In the last two years since Avi’s critically acclaimed self-titled debut, Zee Avi (a 2009 Associated Press Top 10 album) her very free spirit has wandered from major music festivals (Outside Lands, Bonnaroo) and concert venues across the country to her homeland of Sarawak, Borneo, where she recently picked up an International Youth Icon Award.
After the album arrives this summer Avi is itching to get back on tour and show off her live skills. "I want people to feel like they're being hugged," she says of the soothingly beautiful Ghostbird.
Tour dates to be announced.

Bonobo (DJ Set) at Fox Theatre | 9/30/11

Z2 Entertainment is proud to present Bonobo (DJ Set) at the Fox Theatre on Friday, September 30th.  Tickets go on sale Friday, June 24th for $22.50 in advance and $25.00 the day of show.

Over the last couple of years, Bonobo has become one of the premier artists on the Ninja Tune imprint and certainly one of the most listened to, with over 16 million plays recorded on LastFM. His combination of superb live shows and studio wizardry means that he is now perfectly placed to push on into a yet bigger league. With “Black Sands,” Bonobo has made the record to achieve it.

Green’s first release came on Luis’ label, Tru Thoughts, when his track “Terrapin” was included on the compilation “When Shapes Join Together” in 1999. His debut album, “Animal Magic” followed the next year, completely self-produced and largely self-played, too. Hailed as one of the “new downtempo pioneers,” Green found himself attracting the attention of other labels and eventually signed to Ninja Tune.

In 2003 he released his first album for the label, “Dial ‘M’ For Monkey.” This was a time when Green was also focussing heavily on his DJing, playing banging dancefloor sets of hip hop, funk and drum & bass up and down the country and across Europe, a period which reached its apogee with the release of the mix album “Solid Steel: It Came From The Sea.”

“Days To Come” followed in 2006, Green opting for a lusher, more live sound than on his earlier records. To tie in with this musical development, he put together and rehearsed a live band that could bring the music of his records to life. As a result he has moved from selling out the Luminaire to selling out Koko to selling out Kentish Town Forum and the Roundhouse and producing the live DVD to prove it. “Days To Come” also scooped the Gilles Peterson listnerer’s poll for Album of The Year.

Over the last couple of years, Bonobo has become one of the premier artists on the Ninja Tune imprint and certainly one of the most listened to, with over 16 million plays recorded on LastFM. His combination of superb live shows and studio wizardry means that he is now perfectly placed to push on into a yet bigger league. With “Black Sands,”

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Bonobo (DJ Set)

Fox Theatre

Friday, September 30th

Doors:  8:30 pm

Show Time:  9:00 pm