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Al Bell gets Grammy Trustees Award

The Memphis Music Foundation and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the original site of Stax Records, proudly congratulate Al Bell on receiving the highest honor the music industry offers, the 2011 Grammy Trustees Award, given by the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy. Bell now joins the pantheon of musical icons who have received the prestigious honor, including the Beatles, Walt Disney, George and Ira Gershwin, Berry Gordy, Duke Ellington, and Stax Records’ co-founder Estelle Axton.

For Bell, the honor represents a milestone in his lifetime love of music and work in the industry.

“The phone call I received from Neil Portnow, president of NARAS’ Grammy Foundation, letting me know that I was going to be a recipient of the Trustees Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Bell, “was both humbling and honoring. This is the most meaningful recognition I could have ever hoped to achieve from my industry. I sincerely thank NARAS and the Grammy Foundation for honoring me with their highest award.”

In 1965, a young radio disc jockey from Brinkley, Arkansas named Alvertis Isbell joined a fledging record company in Memphis, Tennessee to help promote the music it was churning out in an old converted movie theater. That small label was Stax Records and Al Bell became known to be one of the driving forces who helped change music history. Decades later, in 2009, he became the chairman of the board of directors of the Memphis Music Foundation (MMF), the main organization charged with promoting the city’s musical legacy, current artists, and future plans.

“This is great news for Al Bell and Memphis Music,” said Dean Deyo, president of the Memphis Music Foundation. “Al started developing young artists during his Stax days over 40 years ago and continues to nurture artist development as chairman of the Memphis Music Foundation.  Memphis music is something very special and one of the main reasons for its success has been Al Bell.  It just may be a bit early to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award, because he is not done yet.  Al Bell is just getting started.”

Kirk Whalum, internationally renowned musician and 12-time Grammy nominee, now CEO for the Soulsville Foundation in Memphis, which includes the Stax Museum, Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School, explains, “There's a very good reason that the name Al Bell is mentioned, the voice of Al Bell is heard, and the handsome and distinguished face of Al Bell is seen more than any other name, voice, and face in the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. It's because of his body of work. Yes he remains a creative, viable, and avant-garde force in the industry. But who wouldn't give a limb to have all his ‘firsts’ and accomplishments in one’s rearview mirror?”

From 1965 until the company was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 1975, Bell helped build Stax Records into one of the most influential labels in the world, working with artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Sam & Dave, Booker T. & the MGs, the Bar Kays, Richard Pryor, and a host of others. He also produced and wrote such hits as the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.”  When Bell owned Stax in the 1970s, it was the second-largest African-American owned business in the United States. After the company’s demise, he went on to serve as president of Motown Records Group, and later started his own Bellmark Records label, releasing Prince’s top-selling song ever, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” and Tag Team’s multi-platinum hit “Whoomp! (There It is),” one of the best-selling rap singles in history. Bell now operates his own web-based music channel, AlBellPresents.com.

For Isbell, given the name Al Bell in 1957 as radio announcer in Little Rock, Arkansas,  whose famous radio sign-on was “This is your 6-feet-4 bundle of joy, 212 pounds of Mrs. Bell’s baby boy, soft as medicated cotton, rich as double-X cream, the women’s pet, the men’s threat, the play boys pride and joy, the baby boy Al Bell,” — the Grammy Award not only marks his lifetime of work in the music industry, but also gives more fuel to what he plans to do now and in the future.

“When Mr. Portnow said ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,” Bell continues, “I didn’t think about my past. It sounded prophetic. Because what has happened to me is that I’ve begun to pursue that which I have learned in life and I’m about the business of achieving it. It’s a beginning for me. With this award and through my role with the Memphis Music Foundation, I am beginning my lifetime evolvement and development in the recorded music industry.”

Bobby Long News & Tour Dates

Bobby Long, the young British singer-songwriter who has built an expansive worldwide fan base through constant touring over the last year, will be featured on National Public Radio's popular World Café program going out to its affiliate stations on Tuesday, April 27.  Carried nationally on over 200 radio stations through out the U.S., the show will be culled from Long's recent appearance on WXPN's weekly Free at Noon broadcast along with an interview with World Café host David Dye.

Long, who is unsigned and whose demanding tour schedule will continue into the summer, appeared live on Free at Noon on March 12 from Philadelphia's World Café Live venue, where he also played to an SRO audience in their upstairs room the following evening.  The prolific singer-songwriter-guitarist's set list included a selection of his better-known songs-"The Bounty of Mary Jane," "In the Frost," "Penance Fire Blues," "Dead and Done," "Two Years Old" and "Who Have You Been Loving," the song that first brought him to the attention of WXPN's music staff.  He also performed two of his newer compositions, "A Happy Winter" and "A Stranger Song."

A new Bobby Long single entitled "My Darling Bell" will be available for download from all digital outlets, including iTunes and amazon, beginning today (April 13, 2010). "My Darling Bell" appears on the new live collection of highlights from his DANGEROUS SUMMER 2009 tour, which is available exclusively at his live appearances.  Long has previously released two songs digitally from DIRTY POND SONGS, the first CD he recorded to make available at his live shows.  The first-"Left to Lie"-reached #1 on iTunes' Unsigned and #8 on its Folk charts. "The Bounty of Mary Jane" was released at the start of last summer's tour, followed by a live version of "Being A Mockingbird" recorded at Arlene's Grocery in New York during one of Long's very first U.S. appearances.  "My Darling Bell" is his first new digital release in almost a year.

Though still unsigned, Long is nearing completion of his much-anticipated studio debut recording, produced by Grammy®-winning producer Liam Watson (The White Stripes).  The CD was recorded at Watson's analog Toe Rag Studios in London with studio musicians backing him up on most of the tracks, but several songs will receive the spare, acoustic guitar accompaniment his fan base has come to know and love.  A review in Jambase of his recent SRO show at New York's Mercury Lounge comments on his finger-style guitar playing:  "The majority of [Long's] catalog builds off relatively simplistic chord progressions, but he shows a remarkable knack for adding color via accent notes with his unorthodox two-fingered picking attack and construction of fuller, brighter chords than the standard singer-songwriter fare. Notably, he walks the line between country blues and the more uplifting traditional I-IV-V type structures, while taking the crowd energy through high peaks of heavy strumming howls and low valleys of quiet, whispered picking."

Upcoming Bobby Long shows include: 

April 28-Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA

May 1-The Bamboozle Festival, Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, N.J.

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Bobby will support matt pond PA on the following shows in May: 

May 5-Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA

6-Allen Street Stage, Penn State University, State College, PA

7-Mac's Bar, Lansing, MI

9-The House Café, DeKalb, IL

10-Mad Planet, Milwaukee, WI

11-Slowdown, Omaha

12-Fox Theater, Boulder, CO

14-Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS

15-Mojo's, Columbia, MO

17-Hi Tone Café, Memphis

18-Square Room, Knoxville

20-40 Watt, Athens, GA

21-Village Tavern, Mt. Pleasant, SC

22-Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC

24-The Southern, Charlottesville, VA

25-Otto Bar, Baltimore, MD

Ane Brun- Releases 4 Albums, Opens for Peter Gabriel

Norwegian guitarist and vocalist, singer and songwriter Ane Brun returns to the US as part of her US Tour with Peter Gabriel.   Ane will be releasing FOUR beloved albums including: Spending Time with Morgan, Duets, Sketches and Live in Scandanvia.
Ane will be warming the stage for Peter Gabriel across the US along with playing in his band.
On April 27th, Ane will release her currently unavailable in the US catalog via Amazon.com.  These fan faves will be available @ all digital retail outlets on May 5th.
Ane will be the main support in the US for Peter Gabriel on his amazing "New Blood" tour including gigs at:  Radio City Music Hall & the Hollywood Bowl.
Tour Dates:
April 28- Montreal- Bell Centre w/ Peter Gabriel
April 29- Montreal- Bell Centre w/ Peter Gabriel
May 02- New York- Radio City w/ Peter Gabriel
May 03- New York- Radio City w/ Peter Gabriel
May 07- Los Angeles   Hollywood Bowl w/ Peter Gabriel
May 8- Los Angeles- Largo- SOLO
May 10- NYC- Bowery Ballroom- SOLO

The Walkmen Sign To Fat Possum Records

Esteemed indie rock act, The Walkmen, announce their signing to Fat Possum Records.  The band is currently in the studio with Chris Zane recording the follow-up to 2008's widely-acclaimed LP You & Me.

The band kicks off 2010 with a couple New York City plays including MOMA's Opening Night Armory Show benefit on March 3rd and an intimate engagement at Brooklyn's The Bell House on April 1st where they'll showcase songs from the upcoming album.  A 24-hour pre-sale begins tomorrow (more details below).

The band also travels to Austin, TX to play NPR's South By Southwest Showcase March 17th at Stubbs. For the third year running, NPR Music will present, broadcast, and webcast the opening night showcase which features performances by The Walkmen, Spoon, and soon to be named acts.

The Bell House pre-sale begins at noon EST on Thursday, February 11th.  Public onsale  will take place on Friday, February 12th. More details can be found at http://www.thewalkmen.com.