Eddie Vedder announces release of new solo album, plans tour

into the wildFresh on the heels of the news surrounding the deluxe reissues of Pearl Jam’s seminal ‘90s albums “Vs.” and “Vitalogy,” grunge icon and frontman Eddie Vedder is giving music fans another reason to rejoice this spring.

According to a recent post on Pearl Jam’s official website, Vedder plans to release his second solo album “Ukulele Songs” through Pearl Jam’s very own Monkeywrench record label on May 31.

This new collection, coming almost four years after Vedder’s acclaimed solo work on the soundtrack to the film “Into the Wild,” will contain a variety of cover songs and original compositions performed entirely by Vedder on the popular Hawaiian instrument. Also, accompanying the release will be a live DVD featuring performances from Vedder’s 2008 solo tour.

And if all these riches weren’t enough, Vedder will be hitting the road again this summer with upcoming concerts already scheduled in Providence, Boston, and Hartford.

Catch him if you can. The base range for ticket prices starts at $150 per pair.

Watch the video for “Longing to Belong,” the first single from Vedder’s upcoming album “Ukulele Songs” here:


For more information on Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, and to see future tour dates, please visit www.pearljam.com.

 

 

Rollins at 50: Still Henry after all these years

Rollins 1 (Maura Lanahan)

Henry Rollins (Photo credit: Maura Lanahan)

From his early beginnings as one of hardcore music’s most intense vocalists to his current role as a documentary filmmaker, actor, world traveler and spoken word performer, Henry Rollins has carved a lifetime out of doing and saying things that others only dream about. And even though the former Black Flag frontman just turned 50, he’s not letting old age slow him down either.

Instead, Rollins is taking his lifetime of accumulated experience on the road and this Tuesday he rolls into the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass. to prove to audiences just how little the years have affected his particular brand of wit and wisdom.

Though understandably nervous about sitting down for a Q and A with such an infamous alternative icon, the Northeast Underground recently got the chance to catch up with Rollins via e-mail, and asked him his thoughts on aging gracefully, hosting his own radio show on KCRW and what it’s like working with the National Geographic channel.

Underground: What about your life now at 50 is the most dramatically different from your earlier years spent in Black Flag, State of Alert, Rollins Band, etc?

Rollins: Money has changed the way I live. That has been the most detirminant factor. It has allowed me to travel and learn things all over the world, stay up on technology, etc. It has allowed me to work harder and do more.

What lessons have you learned from your various band experiences?

One must work very hard. That’s about it. Music is very hard work.

How do you apply what you have learned to your current solo life on the road?

Discipline, focus, execution, priority, perspective—all these things come into play out here.

What are some of the themes you are currently exploring in your work?

Travel, Democracy, consumerism, past experiences, the future.

How has your age impacted the decisions you have made in regards to material?

I have more of it. I can draw from more sources because of travel.

You are a big supporter of the military and you have frequently participated in events with the United Service Organization. What did you notice the first time you went overseas to visit servicemen and women?

I am a supporter of the soldiers as a human concern. I don’t support the Military Industrial Complex, the bloated budget and America’s ceaseless wars and war economy. I noticed that all these soldiers were just people taking orders. A lot of them didn’t know the history of the country or region they were in, the implications of what they were doing, etc.

Rollins 2 (Maura Lanahan)What did you make of the experience overall?

Pretty pathetic.

What’s it like to work with National Geographic on making documentaries? You’ve already made “Born to Rage” and “Snake Underworld” with the channel, and both specials achieved pretty positive reviews.

I like the Nat Geo team. Very smart and motivated. I hope they keep me around for awhile.

Can you describe other projects you have in the works?

I have a photo book coming out in October called Occupants that’s photos and essays. The photos are from all over the world from the last eight years or so. I have some doc. plans with Nat Geo, other writing projects working, that’s about it.

How would you characterize your role as a DJ on KCRW?

I have a two hour radio show once a week on the station, it’s on Saturdays from 1800 to 2000 hrs. My role? I really don’t know how to answer that.

What goes into putting together a show for the station?

I sometimes use a concept, a period, a genre, etc. Sometimes it’s a mix of music. I try to make it work in ebb and flow, different densities and textures, in order to make the evening have some kind of cohesion.

How long does your preparation typically take?

It’s usually a series of drafts. I play the songs over and over as I work and something will stick out or not work. It can take days. I try to make it as good as I can. I perhaps put too much work into it.

You mentioned in a recent interview that you generally don’t watch television unless it’s on the tour bus or if you own certain shows on DVD. Why? Have you always done this, or is not having a television in your home a new trend?

I had a television for awhile years ago but rarely used it. I wasn’t raised with one. We had a small one but my mother rarely had it on. It was more about books and records. That’s how I am now. I use the DVDs of tv shows for long flights, hotel jetlag.

Rollins 3 (Maura Lanahan)You have also gone on the record as saying that you’re not very involved in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). How would you characterize your decision not to use these outlets?

It’s not interesting to me. I get letters from all over the world every day, I talk to people everwhere I go. I don’t think I could handle more human interaction.

What led to your decision to stop making music?

I could not find any way to do it differently. There was nothing new about it for me, so I decided to do other stuff. Too many people in my age group have been making the same record over and over. It might suit them, not me. When I see Mick Jagger still singing “I can’t get no satisfaction,” I have to conclude that he’s either very stupid or not being truthful.

How do you feel about your decision to stop playing now?

Never better.

Who are some of your favorite artists/ bands of the moment?

Wolf Eyes, Stare Case, Marnie Stern, Dax Riggs, XBXRX, White Suns. I like those artists/ bands.

How would you describe one of your spoken word performances?

I am onstage talking for a long time. Story telling, editorializing, waxing psychotic to the perverted.

What went through your mind the first time you performed a spoken word gig instead of playing a show with a band?

It was 1983, I don’t remember.

Watch video of Henry Rollins performing his own style of spoken word here:

How would you characterize the audience’s reaction?

I remember it went very well and it made me want to do more. It was a 10 minute show as part of a long night of people all getting 10 minutes onstage.

How do audiences generally react now?

They are very kind.

What might those in attendance in Northampton, Mass. expect from your show on Tuesday?

They can abstract from the above questions and formulate a reasonable expectation.

What is your opinion of touring in New England?

My opinion? I like New England just fine.

Finally, how would you sum up your advice for other artists out there? What about some words of warning?

I would recommend you ask an artist. I am not one. I have not one artistic bone or inclination. I just do stuff. A word of warning: you might need a lawyer more often than you think.

“Henry Rollins: 50,” March 22, 7 p.m., $30-35, Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com. For more information on Henry and future tour dates please visit www.henryrollins.com.

Hip-hop artist Nate Dogg passes away at 41

nate doggJust one week after the death of original Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, the music world has lost another pivotal figure.

According to a recent article in Crawdaddy Magazine, Long Beach singer and hip-hop artist Nathaniel Dwayne Hale (aka Nate Dogg) passed away Tuesday at the age of 41.

First coming to fame with a guest appearance on rapper/ producer Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 album “The Chronic,” Hale made a career out of contributing his soulful vocals to dozens of hit singles by other artists, while also embarking on a notable solo career. His final self-titled album was released in 2008, and his work on Warren G’s smash “Regulate” was nominated for a Grammy in 1995.

After suffering a stroke in 2007, Hale expected to make complete recovery but a second stroke in 2008 left the vocalist in weakened health and partially paralyzed. Though it is currently unknown if these previous episodes had anything to do with his death, TMZ has reported that Hale’s own family suspects complications from the incidents led to the singer’s untimely passing.

Watch video of Nate Dogg appearing on Warren G’s hit song “Regulate” here:

For more information on Nate Dogg and his friends’ reactions to his death please visit www.rapfix.mtc.com and www.eonline.com.

 

California dreamin’ or Top Ten lessons learned from a weekend on the West Coast

320px-AmoebaRecordsHollywood01One week ago today, as my plane touched down in Hartford, Conn., I felt exhausted.

Taking a redeye flight out of Los Angeles International Airport at 11:30 p.m. was partially to blame for my tiredness, and so too was a mid-trip emergency that required a nervous flight attendant to wake the entire cabin in order to inquire if anyone with medical knowledge was on board.

Though I wasn’t the one in need of attention at the time, the plight of a woman whose blood pressure had suddenly dropped to near-fatal levels had me on the edge of my seat for the remainder of the trip home and with any thought of sleep pushed quickly from my mind.

Still, my recent trip to California wasn’t all raw nerves and fried brain cells. Though before I left I had planned to compose a blog post honoring the many musical treasures of the Golden State, my plans have changed and instead I’m going to share a list of observations I made during my treks in and around the tourist beat that is downtown LA.

So without further ado, the following is my list of top ten lessons (in no particular order) learned from trolling the streets of Hollywood for the weekend on someone else’s dime. Thank God for journalism conventions.

1) The standard uniform for many street musicians I encountered in my travels appeared to be tight jeans, tank top, flannel shirt, and an ever-present ski cap. Why such layers of clothing and finely-knitted headgear is required in a state whose, “worst winter in years” meant overnight lows in the 50s I may never know.

2) Any street musician whose act is accompanied by a buxom blonde dressed like Hawkman from DC Comics who also plays a violin with a bow made out of a balloon, becomes infinitely more watchable…for about five seconds.

3) When walking around Universal Studios’ City Walk district in the evening, time should always be made to check out the one and only Flat Top. As the only solo artist performing entertaining pop and lock dance moves, while also educating his audience in the art of seduction and the finer points of freezer storage technique (hint: anything that has been in the freezer for 147 months is old) he’s pretty hard to miss. And in his own words, if you aren’t smiling by the time you leave his show, “Tell your brain to tell your face.”

Watch video of Flat Top in action here:

 

4) Making the short walk to taste the delicacy that is In-and-Out Burger is definitely worth the wait you will inevitably spend in line. However, when the walk back takes you through a movie set featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Banks the extra calories you just gained won’t trouble your conscience nearly as much.

5) Hearing the music of Frank Sinatra floating up from the hotel bar truly can be one of the simplest and most pleasing sounds one hears after a long night spent braving the LA Metro system. A spot-on crooner who belts out the tunes of old blue eyes with this much precision is welcome company any day of the week.

6) Speaking of braving the LA Metro, these posters were everywhere on the subway cars. Call it an unfortunate sign of the times, but I had no idea this was a big enough problem to merit a public service campaign. Sad.

7) Not nearly as sad as the observation above, but after spending each morning waking up to a view where you can see the famous Hollywood sign ensconced in the hills, peering out the blinds at mid-March flurries in Western Mass. just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

8) Call me selfish, but this beverage shop needs to open up a location on the east coast immediately. After indulging in close to half a dozen free samples a day, I was surprised to learn from the manager that the business has only seven locations worldwide with three in California, three in Kuwait, and one in Dubai. Opening up shop or two in Boston doesn’t seem like much to ask, but rumor has it that the next market to be tapped is Thailand.

LA Kings9) When taking in an LA Kings game at the Staples Center (see photo at left), the place to be isn’t rink side. If you want to really experience the nightlife, catch the outdoor rock show featuring bands like Franki Doll and The Broken Toys that plays outside on a patio during games. Don’t worry, I’ll save you a seat at the fully stocked bar.

10) And finally, Bennie the Bucket Man, this gentlemen said you have just been served.

*****

In other news, the more I listen to this song the harder it is for me to decide if it’s a particularly obnoxious earworm or just an insidious and blunt form of product advertising. You be the judge.

Check back soon for more posts later this week, and don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter via @NE_Underground.

Album review – Monotonix “Not Yet” – Springfield Student Vol. 125 No. 20 March 10, 2011

Album review – Monotonix “Not Yet” – Springfield Student Vol. 125 No. 20 March 10, 2011

“Art Professor Ruth West goes Hi-Tech,” – Springfield Student Vol. 125 No. 20 March 10, 2011

“Art Professor Ruth West goes Hi-Tech,” – Springfield Student Vol. 125 No. 20 March 10, 2011

Grunge bassist Mike Starr dead at 44

alice-in-chainsThe world of grunge lost another family member Wednesday as former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr (see photo, far right) unexpectedly passed away at the age of 44.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Starr’s body was found in a house in Salt Lake City, Utah almost nine years after Alice in Chains’ lead singer Layne Staley died of a drug overdose in Seattle, Wash.

The bassist, who made headlines in the past year for publicly battling his long history of drug problems on VH1’s popular reality show “Celebrity Rehab” hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky, had recently had been arrested in Salt Lake City for an outstanding warrant and possession of unauthorized prescription medications.

Though foul play has largely been ruled out by the Salt Lake Police Department, an official cause of death has yet to be determined.

Watch a fan tribute video to Mike Starr set to the music of Alice in Chains here:

For more information on Mike Starr and Alice in Chains please visit www.aliceinchains.com/ or www.facebook.com/aliceinchains. Also, start following the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground.