Don’t use me like that: Tom Petty goes after Michelle Bachmann for unapproved song use

Tom PettyWell, so much for running down this particular dream.

Adding yet another chapter to the history of disputes between musicians and politicians, Rolling Stone magazine has confirmed reports that Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann has recently gotten on the wrong side of none other than outspoken artist and classic rocker Tom Petty.

After walking out on stage to the music from Petty’s popular hit “American Girl” at a rally this week, Bachmann was quickly sent a cease and desist message from the Heartbreakers band leader due to his displeasure at the song being used as part of a presidential campaign without his permission.

Incredibly, this incident isn’t even the first time Petty has had to intervene on behalf of his music being used in the political arena.

According to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, Petty allowed Democrat Hillary Clinton the use of “American Girl” during her unsuccessful run for the highest office in the land in 2008. But he stepped in during 2000 when word was received that Republican George W. Bush was playing the Full Moon Fever hit “I Won’t Back Down” at rallies.

Petty’s representatives told the future president:

This use has not been approved. Any use made by you or your campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true.

While Bachmann has yet to comment personally on this dispute, she joins a virtual rogue’s gallery of Republicans who have attempted to use the popularity of so-called liberal artists and works during their election efforts.

For example, in 2008 the members of hard rock group Heart publicly protested Sarah Palin’s use of their track “Barracuda” during her entrance at the Republican National Convention.

“I feel completely fucked over,” band guitarist Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women.”

Additionally, in 1984 Bruce Springsteen took offense after Ronald Reagan conveniently dropped his name during a stump speech in New Jersey.

Watch video of musician Dave Grohl performing and talking at a John Kerry benefit in 2004 as a response to George W. Bush using the Foo Fighters’ song “Times Like These” for campaign purposes here:

Though the urge to use familiar material is perhaps innate to anyone seeking to reach common ground with others, many politicians would do well in the future to make sure they are at least on the same page as the artists they’re co-opting.

Otherwise, the message received by voters could be one of confusion. And if there is anything that politicians would like to avoid at election time, it is likely the misdirection of the masses (unless of course we’re talking about the public revelation of certain Tweets, eh representative Weiner?).

Plus, I am certain there are other songs out there that better describe Michelle Bachmann than “American Girl.” For instance, “Space Oddity” by David Bowie comes readily to mind. Or maybe, “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

At least Johnny Ramone was a Republican.

For more information on Tom Petty or to see future tour dates please visit www.tompetty.com.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

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Smells like a comeback: Nirvana celebrating “Nevermind” anniversary in style

NevermindFresh on the heels of news that the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke will see a long-awaited debut on DVD this fall, Nirvana fans have an additional reason to be excited as the band plans another special release to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their influential album Nevermind.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the album hailed by critics as “the voice of an angry, loud, and rebellious generation” will be re-released on September 20 in a special deluxe five-disc edition (4 CD’s 1 DVD) featuring live recordings, b-sides, rarities and more previously unheard material.

While a definitive track listing for the set has yet to be announced, even former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl maintains that there will be loads of surprises in store.

“I mean, as far as content and releases and stuff like that, honestly, it’s like I’m the drummer again. I’m the last one to know anything,” he said. “It’s almost like a wedding anniversary – something that someone reminds you of about a week beforehand, and then you panic and buy flowers.”

Watch video of Nirvana horsing around in one of my personal favorite band clips here:

Exactly how much new Nirvana material is left in the vaults after 2004’s With the Lights Out box set is up for debate, but with other global events to celebrate the group’s special anniversary in the works as well as fellow grunge icons Pearl Jam celebrating a 20th anniversary of their own, 2011 is shaping up to be a great year for all things Seattle.

Now where are my old pair of Doc Martens when I need them?

For more information on Nevermind’s 20th anniversary please visit www.nirvanaclub.com

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

 

Some things never change: Dinosaur Jr. and others bring stomp and roar to Whole Children benefit concert

Dinosaur Jr (Brantley Gutierrez)

Dinosaur Jr. (Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez)

This wasn’t your parents’ charity show.

Eschewing any “We are the world” or Bob Geldof-penned Live Aid platitudes, the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Mass. more closely resembled a gathering of indie all-stars Tuesday night as the lineup for the Whole Children benefit concert took the stage not only to support a worthy cause, but also to play a variety of music guaranteed to keep the gathered crowd rocking late into the night.

Including both national and local favorites like Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and the Warblers, the event was also meant as a special fundraiser for the Whole Children organization in Hadley, which provides recreational, social, and enrichment programs for children and teens with disabilities.

Amherst-based garage rockers the Warblers kicked the event off shortly after 6:30 p.m. with a thundering set full of songs “without shame,” as well as others demanding “Peace Now.” Though varying little in tempo, the band (featuring J Mascis’ brother Migel on guitar) managed to earn repeated rounds of polite applause before concluding with a solo-laden finale that included a surprise appearance from J himself.

Following a quick changing of instruments, coming next to the dais as a nice interlude between two sets of rock was Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore, or as he introduced himself to the crowd, “Hi. I’m Thurston. I live across the street from the Smith College campus.”

Playing with his group entitled Demolished Thoughts (after Moore’s recent solo album of the same name), which includes members from fellow Ecstatic Peace affiliates Hush Arbors and Sunburned Hand of Man, the noise-rock icon turned in a hazy yet engaging show featuring material from his newest release as well as 2007’s Trees Outside the Academy.

thurston moore (ari marcopoulos)

Thurston Moore (Photo credit: Ari Marcopoulos)

“Trippy,” one fellow concert-goer mumbled to me partway through the set. “Not just the music, but the movie too.”

Indeed, Moore came to the Calvin equipped with more than just his guitar in hand. Throughout his performance a black and white film played continually in the background of the stage, featuring numerous women dancing in slow-motion. While providing an interesting counterpoint to the mostly acoustic music being played, the movie unexpectedly stopped during the band’s last song leading to a chorus of laughter at the sight of a giant screen displaying the menu screen to an Epson movie player.

Still, for those awaiting a return to more upbeat entertainment they didn’t have to wait long.

After Moore and company left the stage to appreciative cheers, only a short interval of time passed before former Black Flag singer and compulsive world traveler Henry Rollins made his first appearance of the evening.

Though his nearly hour-long act consisted of the repeating a few of the stories usually told as part of his lengthier spoken-word engagements along with the graphic description of his first (and hopefully last) experience drinking cow urine and eating rats, perhaps Rollins’ biggest service of the night was to thank the crowd for their support of an organization like Whole Children.

Labeling himself as one of those kids who was likely “undiagnosed” in regards to possessing a social disability and who was treated instead with harsh discipline, the iconic hardcore front man preached the value of institutions that are pro-active in dealing with problems that affect children.

He said, “I thought getting a great president would change the world and it hasn’t. Now I’m starting to think changing the world begins with a bunch of mothers creating a place where children can thrive and the rest of us helping out however we can.”

Eventually, in response to repeated crowd requests to bring on the music (including at least one oddly-placed “Fuck You”) Rollins briefly left the stage only to return in minutes with the members of Dinosaur Jr. in tow for a sit-down interview before their performance.

Rollins 3 (Maura Lanahan)

Henry Rollins (Photo credit: Maura Lanahan)

While described as a success when executed for the first-time in front of a crowd the night before, the audience at the Calvin appeared to have little patience for any attempt at a formal question and answer session.

“Concentrate!” shouted one fan as J Mascis prepared to answer the first question asked him by Rollins.

From there many of exchanges between interviewer and interviewees seemed to dissolve into a series of miscommunications or misremembering by fellow band mates. Though at times difficult to hear over the heckling of the audience, the experience did provide a few priceless moments.

For example:

– After neglecting to answer several of the initial questions asked to the group, bassist Lou Barlow finally gave in to crowd prodding and said the reason for his lack of participation was due to the fact that he was more interested, “to hear what J has to say.”

– Discussing the use of vulgarities in perhaps the band’s best-known song from the Bug album “Freak Scene,” J maintained that he actually recorded a radio-friendly version of the track by muting the offensive parts even though Barlow thought he had sung alternate lyrics instead.

– Going into band history, J acknowledged that, “When you play real loud AND have no fans” it’s a recipe for disaster, and may have played a part in getting the group, “banned from every club in Northampton.”

– Reminiscing about their mutual time spent on the SST record label, drummer Murph mentioned first meeting Rollins at a particular party, which Henry claimed to have never even been present for.

– Finally, when asked if Dinosaur Jr. listened to other popular indie acts during their heyday, most responses tended towards the affirmative. However, upon mention of the Butthole Surfers Barlow gave an emphatic, “No” in regards to ever getting into such a band.

Upon finally taking the stage, Dinosaur started by playing a pair of songs (“In a Jar” and “The Wagon”) in order to warm-up before plunging into the 1988 classic Bug in its entirety.

Watch video of Dinosaur Jr. tearing into Bug opening cut “Freak Scene” live here:

Though peppered with guitar heroics and a pummeling rhythmic assault throughout, the band saved its most harrowing performance for the climatic track “Don’t.” Due to his violent singing of the song the night before, Barlow had lost most of voice and was unable to complete the number as intended. So, as a fix two guest vocalists (including one pulled from the crowd) picked up microphones to shred their own vocal chords while belting out the tune’s dark chorus of “Why? / Why don’t you like me?”

The unnamed duo certainly gave the once in a lifetime opportunity a spirited effort, but after 10+ minutes of noisy jamming they each appeared exhausted (and in dire need of throat lozenges) thanks to their time in the spotlight.

Still, the headliners weren’t finished yet. After a scant two minute break, one of the strongest power trios in underground rock history returned for an encore featuring the songs “Feel the Pain” and “Just Like Heaven.”

After a long night of music and fun, the closing numbers were just what the doctor ordered. And as the tired crowd began filing out into the still warm night, this reporter at least couldn’t but smile and think that as long as there are people like Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and all the members of the Warblers and Dinosaur Jr. in this world, then institutions like Whole Children have a fighting chance.

Who could ask for anything more?

For more information on Dinosaur Jr. or to see future tour dates please www.dinosaurjr.com. To learn more about Henry Rollins please visit www.henryrollins.com. And for Thurston Moore and the Warblers please visit www.sonicyouth.com and www.thewarblers.com.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out more concert footage featuring artists like Garland Jeffreys, Stephen Kellogg and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

Garland Jeffreys’ concert brings rock ‘n’ roll back to the Paradise City

GJ 1

Garland Jeffreys live (Photo credit: Beau Bensch)

Mere minutes into his first encore Saturday night famed singer and songwriter Garland Jeffreys turned the clock at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass. backwards to the 1960s.

By segueing briefly from his impassioned rendition of the ? and the Mysterians hit “96 Tears,” Jeffreys resurrected yet another classic from a bygone era by seamlessly leading his band through the opening lines of the seminal Velvet Underground track “I’m Waiting for the Man.”

As an old friend and occasional collaborator of Velvet’s founding member Lou Reed, Jeffreys was reliving more than his own past on stage. Instead, he as well as the enthusiastic crowd singing along were suddenly transported to another time and another place. No longer was everyone just witnessing a 60+ year old man belt out a selection of classic tunes in front of an audience. In front of them was a living link, a timeless performer simultaneously bridging the gap between rock ‘n’ roll’s riotous history and uncertain future.

“I’m not going to tell you that I’m 68,” Jeffreys said. “Because I’m not. I don’t turn 68 until the end of the month. So don’t give me any excuses about not getting up in the morning.”

Stepping up to play shortly before their scheduled 7 p.m. start time, Jeffreys and his four-piece band quickly proved they were not only awake but ready to make good on their previous promise to “rock the IRON HORSE”.

Beginning with three straight songs off the new record The King of In Between, including the hard-charging opener “I’m Alive,” Jeffreys and company tore through a steady hour’s worth of material that ably mixed a variety of older numbers in alongside some new originals. “Wild in the Streets,” “Modern Lovers,” “Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll” – each favorite had its moment in the spotlight. In fact, the only letdown in momentum that occurred was due to a handful of microphone issues, which though meddlesome did little to spoil the good-natured tone of the concert.

During one such incident, Jeffreys even made one of his many trips to stand on the table closest to the stage and began reciting an improvised story that lasted only a few seconds before sound issues were resolved.

Watch video of Garland Jeffreys tackling two ‘60s favorites here:

Finally, after shouting out the last few notes of his second encore “R.O.C.K” the man who once performed in blackface and penned the racially-tinged “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” called it a night amidst raucous cheers and joyous applause.

“I haven’t left yet,” Jeffreys even replied jokingly to a smattering of crowd shouts urging him to return to the Paradise City soon. “I haven’t left, but I can already promise you I’ll be back.”

Here’s hoping such a trip doesn’t take another 67 years.

For more information on Garland Jeffreys or to see future tour dates please visit www.garlandjeffreys.com.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out more concert footage of Garland Jeffreys and other artists on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

Rock veteran Garland Jeffreys comes to the Iron Horse for rare Pioneer Valley show

Garland

Garland Jeffreys (Photo credit: Danny Clinch)

From the start of his career in the 1960s, where he played many of the same folk venues that gave rise to a young Bob Dylan, all the way to the recent release of his new album The King of In Between one point about singer and songwriter Garland Jeffreys has remained constant.

With tracks like “Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “The Answer,” and “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” already to his credit the former Syracuse University student continues to be a fearless social commentator and an artist who’s showing no signs of slowing down even as the specter of old age begins to creep up on him.

Instead, Jeffreys appears ready for a career resurgence of sorts. Many of the songs on his new record are brimming with energy, and at least one features an old college friend who brings his dry vocal style to the proceedings in typical understated fashion. That friend of course is none other than Lou Reed, and even though he and Jeffreys have become the elder statesmen of a music scene they once tried to turn upside down, the experience they bring to lines like “I used to be a contortionist/ And now I know what it really means” make them just as vital as ever.

Fortunately, with just a few days remaining before his rare appearance in the Paradise City the Underground got the chance to catch up with Jeffreys via e-mail and asked him his thoughts on the death of fellow artist Gil Scott-Heron, why he spent 13 years between record releases, and what he thinks now of perhaps his biggest hit “Wild in the Streets.”

Underground: First off, what are your thoughts on the recent passing of poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron? Some critics have drawn comparisons between the two of you in terms of subject matter and influence. How do you feel about the comparisons drawn between the two of you as artists/ musicians?

Jeffreys: Gil-Scott was (and still is) a great force for freedom of black people throughout the world. This goes without saying. I began my journey for people of color, and justice for all mankind regardless of race during the mid sixties as well. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and some of the great jazz musicians of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s were role models for both of us. There are surely similarities in our points of view. We spent time together here and there but never any long visits or get togethers…a radio show, a TV appearance, hooking up backstage, that kind of thing. In the end you might say our philosophies crossed paths from time to time. It’s an honor to be compared with him.

Who are some other artists that you would consider to be your contemporaries?

Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Arther Lee, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Vernon Reid, Levon Helm, Paul Griffin, Dr. John, Rolling Stones and so many more.

What are the reasons behind the 13 year gap between your latest album The King of In Between and your previous release Wildlife Dictionary, which was only released in Europe?

My daughter Savannah was born in 1996. My wife and I wanted to be the best parents we could be, raising her with both of us present instead of my always being on the road and preoccupied. The music and the business are second to family!

What are some themes you are currently exploring on the new record and on the road?

Economic inequality, the realities of life and death, how creativity is essential to us all, struggles of the working class and the great power of music are a few of them.

Watch the video for “Coney Island Winter” off The King of In Between here:

Do you still get requests to play “Wild in the Streets” every night? What do you make of the success of that song now?

“Wild in the Streets” has legs, and “Matador,” “Hail Hail Rock ‘n Roll” and “Spanish Town,” and many others are songs that are still relevant. I love that people still want to hear them.

What might audiences expect from your show at the Iron Horse Music Hall on June 18?

My band and I will rock the IRON HORSE and YOU HAVE MY WORD. We are ready!!!!

Finally, what are some words of advice you have for young artists or others who are pursuing a career in music? How about some words of warning?

Stay with the music, keep writing, practicing, and PERFORMING. Lastly, control your music, start your own company, protect your copyrights and stay far away from record companies!

Garland Jeffreys perfoms June 18, 7 p.m., $20-25, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com/iron_horse_main.asp.

For more information or to see future tour dates please visit www.garlandjeffreys.com.

“When the Volume Goes Up” Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore and the Warblers play a benefit for Whole Children – June 16, 2011

“When the Volume Goes Up” Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore and the Warblers play a benefit for Whole Children – June 16, 2011

Music news in review: rap rules Bonnaroo, ‘Big Man’ suffers stroke, and more

Book of Mormon (Joan Marcus)

Book of Mormon (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

What a week. From continued tornado relief efforts and comedy’s triumph at the Tony Awards (see photo), all the way to Lebron James’ ignominious defeat at the hands of Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks, the past seven days have been a mix of resiliency and triumph.

So in the spirit of the moment, here’s a quick recap of some stories you may have missed:

First, hearty congratulations to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their bevy of trophies earned at this year’s Tony Awards. Most popularly known as the creators of the animated hit “South Park,” Parker and Stone have taken their act to new heights with a smash musical that simultaneously ridicules religion as well as the “Great White Way” itself. Entitled “The Book of Mormon” the show is currently one of the hottest tickets in New York, and with Amazon.com’s recent sale of the absurdly-catchy cast soundtrack for only $1.99 its audience is only likely to grow in days to come. Well, that is of course if you don’t mind walking down the street humming tunes about AIDS in Africa or a “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.”

Second, while predominantly thought of as a jam-heavy event, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. has seen a change in recent years to include more urban-orientated acts such as Jay-Z and Kanye West. Though this year’s line-up also featured veteran performers like Buffalo Springfield and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, the real story was hip-hop’s takeover of Saturday with sets by Big Boi, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa whetting audience appetites before Eminem’s hotly-anticipated appearance before 80,000 screaming fans. So what does this potential genre-change mean for the future of one of America’s most laid-back festivals? One thing is for sure. Don’t ask this guy (*Warning: video contains some strong language*).

Lastly, on a more somber note, according to an article on Rolling Stone magazine online, Clarence “Big Man” Clemons of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band fame suffered a stroke at his home in Florida on Friday and is currently hospitalized in serious condition. The famed saxophonist has been battling medical problems for years, and while he hasn’t performed with the other E Streeters since December of 2010, he did play with Lady Gaga during last month’s American Idol finale and is featured on two tracks on the pop singer’s new album. For more information check out an update on Clemons’ condition here.

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One final note, no matter how many times I’ve watched this video by the band Lake, I have yet to decide if the overall tone is incredibly creepy or totally awesome. There’s definitely a strong “Where the Wild Things Are” vibe that runs throughout (at least for me), but watch and judge for yourself.