Category Archives: music

Idina Menzel on Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and That Song From the Movie (via IndyStar)

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Indy Star — I can’t back this up with statistics, but since the day they saw “Frozen” in 2013, I’m pretty sure my children have paid more attention to Idina Menzel’s voice than mine.

It’s a wise decision, obviously. Menzel, if you have kids, know any kids or have gone outdoors in the past two years, is the elegant, towering voice behind “Let It Go,” the “Frozen” anthem and one of those songs you probably can’t remember life before.

“I have to apologize, probably,” she says with a laugh. She sounds self-aware and sincere enough that I stammeringly assure Queen Elsa’s singing voice that this is not actually a problem. “Frozen” may have brought Menzel into your DVD cabinet, minivan radio and Christmas stockings — as well as something akin to rock-star status to her and the cast — but there are many worlds of music coming together in her one-woman show Aug. 23 in Indianapolis. The tour has hit many of your major continents; reviews have pretty much run the gamut from “Wonderful” to “Will you marry me?”

More with Queen Elsa at the Indianapolis Star.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZcKDoESbao.

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RIP Columbia House, Without Whom I’d Have Accumulated Like Half as Many Extreme and Tesla CDs (via GQ)

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But did they tell you about the shipping charges? NOOOOOOO.

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GQ — Columbia House, the mass music-warehouse/inventory-closeout company you may remember from the back of every magazine between the years 1987 and 1994, closed this week. This, of course, is a sentence that makes no sense, like, wait, that was still open? That didn’t shutter in 1995, or when we all got Napster, or when they released the iPod? Who in the hell was ordering eight-CDs-for-a-penny in 2015, a magical, terrifying age in which you can clickity three buttons on your phone and dial up literally any piece of recorded music produced since the early Renaissance? It’s a little like hearing that Maxell cassettes just shut down, or that fax machine sales are on the slide.

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John Mellencamp’s 10 Greatest Indiana Concerts (via Indianapolis Monthly)

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They come from the cities and they come from the smaller towns.

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Indianapolis Monthly — Ask John Mellencamp fans for memories of his best shows in Indiana, and one thing quickly becomes clear: The guy has performed in a lot of places around here. He has played bars and football stadiums, basketball arenas and fancy theaters, Farm Aids and guerrilla gigs. Regardless of venue, though, the shows have rarely disappointed. “As much praise as he’s gotten, I think he’s still underrated as a live performer,” says Anthony DeCurtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who received his Ph.D. in American literature from Indiana University. “I saw him in 1992, and it was just torrid. I don’t think I’d seen John in an arena to that point, and I remember thinking, ‘Boy, he’s not having too much trouble filling up this space.’”

In honor of Mellencamp’s August 4 date at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the final show of a tour that has made a number of Indiana stops already, we compiled a scattered, highly unscientific, and 100 percent debatable list of Mellencamp’s best Hoosier concerts over the past four decades. As you might suspect, the list is culled from minutes and memories, so if yours are different (and they probably are), drop us a line. Here are our choices, presented in chronological order because we can’t really rank them. Well, except for maybe that one.

Read the full list over at Indianapolis Monthly.

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Margaritaville Without Mom: A Story of Loss and Cheeseburgers (via The Mid)

It's been a lovely cruise.

Drink it up, this one’s for you.

The Mid — There aren’t too many ways you can make yourself laugh at funerals, but you try, because you tell yourself that’s what the deceased would have wanted, right? Mom would have rolled her eyes at some somber visitation weighed down by synthetic cathedral music and Kleenex; she’d have much preferred a tropical theme and Jimmy Buffett songs about islands and boats, things she, like the vast majority of Buffett fans, loved but never pursued. (If you’ve never seen a room full of adults burst into tears while researching lyrics by a guy famous for a song about a cheeseburger, I can assure you it makes for a weird afternoon.)

So that’s what we did, mostly. A couple times during her visitation (we called it a “time of sharing,” because no one wanted to say “visitation”), someone would ask to turn the music up, which is a strange request for a visitation/time of sharing. I hope the other two families in the funeral home didn’t mind; I’m sure they were trying to hold a traditional service while the weirdos in Room C listened to something called “Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season.”

So this year, having now turned into someone who can get actually emotionally unhinged listening to a song called “Fins,” we thought we’d do one last round, one last splash, one more trip out to the show for Mom. Here’s what happened.

 

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Blowing Stuff Up, For Science: My 11-Year-Old and I Interview Adam Savage of ‘MythBusters’

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Jamie Hyneman (left) and Adam Savage (right, airborne).

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Indy Star — Because an 11-year-old and 3-year-old live in it, our house generally has pretty strict rules about TV. But because we’re reasonable parents, we tend to waive those rules under appropriate circumstances, such as whenever the kids feel like watching two dudes in San Francisco blow up some garbage trucks.

If our TV is on, it’s highly plausible that it’s on to “MythBusters,” the Discovery Channel science phenomenon/fireball factory that stars Adam Savage and (’81 IU grad) Jamie Hyneman. There’s plenty to watch: Over the course of 14 seasons, the team has produced nearly 260 episodes, tackled 900-some experiments, crashed 7.6 million cars (that’s a guess, but I’m confident I’m close), created one massive orange water slide, dropped numerous vehicles out of the sky, strapped military-grade rockets to three mild-mannered cars, encased a fake Luke Skywalker in a simulated tauntaun, and sent an exploding water heater skyward for a full 15 seconds. Frankly I don’t know why every 11-year-old on the planet doesn’t watch this show, except maybe for all the RPGs. (Helicopter parents, am I right?) “Can we watch a boom one?” my 3-year-old asks when I grab the remote, bounding up and down on his socks. “I like the boom ones.”

So to preview the MythBusters’ live show in Indianapolis, Savage was good enough to field questions from my much more knowledgable 11-year-old associate.

Read the full interview at the Indy Star.

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Attention, Teachers: If My Son Seems Tired Tomorrow, It’s Probably Because of Pearl Jam

pearl-jam-jeff-vrabel-eddie-vedderIsland Packet — Soooo everyone here would take their 10-year-olds to a Wednesday night rock concert in a far-away city, right? That’s an acceptable parenting decision? Because I kinda sorta did this, and the response so far seems to be evenly split between “He’ll remember it his whole life” and “You are a negligent monster and we’re kicking you off the PTO.”

I agree with them both, because I started out the night with a fifth-grader whom I wanted to expose to new experiences, but left the show carrying my sleepy baby because he fell stone-cold asleep in an arena chair.

There I was last night with my son at a Pearl Jam concert, a good two hours away from his night-night books, bed and the school he was required to attend at 7:40 a.m. the next morning. And there he was, sound asleep, curled up in the chair like a precious little angel, albeit one surrounded by guys carrying 60-ounce beers and shout-singing lyrics from college. Given the chance, the kid will tuck himself into bed under a bundle of blankets and stuffed bears and read Percy Jackson books until 11:30 each night, but take him to a concert and it’s “Ohhh I’m sleepy at 9:30, did you bring a pillow?”

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‘I Tell People We’re Like the United Nations’: How Ben Jaffe Preserves Preservation Hall

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South Magazine — There aren’t many music rooms in the land more safeguarded, undiluted and pleasingly frozen in time than Preservation Hall in New Orleans, a low-lit and spookily evocative venue that’s about the size of your living room and way more sparsely decorated.

Since 1961, the room has hosted one primary tenant: the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, whose members have both lit up St. Peter Street and served as traveling evangelists of the New Orleans music for 50 years. But though the band has been guarding and perpetuating the sound of its birthplace for more than a half a century, last year they did something they’d never done before: drop an album of original material. That record, “That’s It!’, composed by the band and produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, earned the group fresh ears, got it playing with the Roots on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and properly kicked off the next 50 years of its history.

“That’s It!” was partly the brainchild of bassist/sousaphonist Ben Jaffe, who, as the hall’s creative director as well as the son of founders Allan and Sandy Jaffe, is charged with guarding and expanding the foundations laid by everyone from Jelly Roll Morton to King Oliver to Louis Armstrong. He talked to South about how to get that done.

Does your daughter have any notion what her dad does for a living?
Well she doesn’t know we make money doing it (laughs). But she understands that music is going on. She comes to the Hall to see us, and she wants to be around the music. She loves it; kids are such little blank hard drives.

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A Conversation With Jimmy Buffett (Time)

Jimmy Buffett press photo

Time.com — Jimmy Buffett adds to his considerable pirate treasure with constant touring: traveling carnivals-slash-beach-blanket blowouts of friendly grass-skirted hedonisms. His shows are as constant as the tides, the stars and — to be slightly less romantic about the whole thing — the receipts at the end of each. But why not? At 66, Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band are still good for nearly 30 songs a night, and no one’s better at suggesting escape and rum drinks are just a snap decision away.

Buffett talked from his Long Island, NY home about retirement, Michael Jordan, Willie Nelson and…surfing.

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Wait, you were really surfing this morning?

“Yeah, if there are waves, I’ll be out there. It’s crowded out here [at Montauk] but the conditions were right, so I was in the water at like 7:30. It’s a passion first — well, some would say it’s an affliction rather than a passion, but whatever it is, I’ve got it. I’m an old-fart surfer, but it keeps me in shape and it generates some interesting byproducts in the way of song lyrics.”

Read the full Q&A here.

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Ed Helms: How To Cure Three Hangovers (Men’s Health)

Photo / Emily Shur

Men’s Health — When Ed Helms talks about the “jelly center” of the characters he plays on TV and in movies, he’s referring to the goodness at their core. By all outward appearances, these are not fully formed men. Some are downright mean, the sorts of jerks you’d avoid in real life. On The Daily Show, Helms played, in his words, “a character who’s kind of a dick who also has my name. Then he was the volatile man-child Andy Bernard onThe Office, the spineless dentist Stu Price in the Hangover movies, and the overwound Pat in Jeff Who Lives at Home.

In Helms’s hands, these guys become something unexpected: relatable, authentic, jelly-centered human beings. Even cowards and assholes are human deep inside, and that’s enough to warm Ed Helms’s heart.

“I have so much empathy for these characters,” he says. “I’ve tossed a couple hand grenades in my life, and I’ve paid the price. So I sympathize with somebody who’s trying to be a better person but isn’t really good at it. There’s some of that in a lot of us.”

Read more in the June issue of  Men’s Health.

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Josh Ritter Has Recorded American Music’s Most Upbeat Divorce Record

Josh Ritter

Island Packet — Some artists spend their whole careers deflecting explanations about what they’ve written, preferring to leave such details up to the adaptable whims of the listener or the perpetual appeal of mystery. In announcing his new record — the sterling, stop-reading-this-and-go-buy-it-already “The Beast In Its Tracks” — Josh Ritter dragged the explanation on stage and threw a spotlight on it.

“I wrote and recorded this record in the 18 months after my marriage had fallen apart,” he said in the album announcement/message to fans. “All heartbreak is awful — my broken heart wasn’t unique. But writing these songs was helping me get through the night, and I didn’t have the strength to care or question.” And thus was born what the media/Internet christened Josh Ritter’s Divorce Record.

But if you’ve been following Ritter’s career — if you haven’t, you should immediately seek out his 2002 debut “The Golden Age of Radio” and listen onward through 2007’s “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter” — you know that the Idaho-born singer is not one for self-immolation, or even allowing himself too much time on the dark side of town.

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