Shokazoba show at Hampshire College cancelled

Shokazoba cover (resized)Known to Western Mass music fans as a popular live act, the local Afro-beat group Shokazoba (check out a 2012 Valley Advocate cover story this writer wrote on the band here) received an unpleasant surprise at Hampshire College Friday.

Prior to the band’s performance at the school’s Hampshire Halloween celebration the members of Shokazoba were informed that their appearance was being cancelled due to student complaints.

“Does anyone want to know what happened to our set at Hampshire Halloween tonight?” read one of several posts on Shokazoba’s Facebook page Friday after the band was informed of the change in plans. “Ask the Hampshire College HYPE Committee and Dean Pam Tinto. 30 students complained that we were too white to play Afro-beat, so we were canceled.”

Though the exact nature of the student complaints that resulted in Shokazoba’s removal from the event’s lineup have yet to be revealed, the college’s HYPE Committee did respond to numerous “negative comments” on the Hampshire Halloween event page by eventually removing the page altogether. And online debate regarding Shokazoba and the school’s action has yet to cool.

“Today, we were discriminated against by people who had never even met us or heard one note of our music,” Shokazoba also posted online Friday. “We’re ready to talk when they are.”

Sounds like it’s time to join the conversation.

For a quick rundown of exchanges between Hampshire students, members of Shokazoba and more, visit the following links: https://hampedia.org/wiki/Hype_Committee, https://www.facebook.com/HampshireHypeCommittee, http://onlyintherepublicofamherst.blogspot.com/, and https://www.facebook.com/shokazoba.

For more information on Shokazoba and to see future show dates please visit www.shokazoba.com.

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Music News: Neil Young Preps Pono and Trent Reznor’s Record Cost

Neil Young (photo-credit-danny-clinch) edit

Neil Young (Photo credit: Danny Clinch)

In a statement sure to bring joy to audio purists, classic rocker Neil Young issued an update Tuesday on the state of his Pono Music project, which he hopes will one day “save listeners” from the compressed sound quality of MP3’s.

“The simplest way to describe what we’ve accomplished is that we’ve liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio,” Young wrote on the official Pono Facebook page this week. “Our mission is also to make Pono just as accessible as any music you buy and listen to today.”

Eyeing an early 2014 launch for the project’s Pono music portable player, which will be a direct competitor of the iPod, the singer of such hits as “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Heart of Gold” has already teamed with the Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, encouraging the “big three” to convert their audio libraries to higher sound quality in preparation of being made available through Young’s service.

But the former Buffalo Springfield member isn’t the only artist to throw his hat into the audio distribution ring. The Warner Music Group has also already invested millions of dollars into another venture spearheaded by rapper/ producer Dr. Dre. The “Beats Music” project, formerly known as Project Daisy, has been described as an “Internet music service,” where listeners can create their own playlists, much like the project’s competing streaming service Spotify. However, one big difference between the two companies is the involvement of Nine Inch Nails’ artist Trent Reznor, who has helped design the “Beats Music” service, emphasizing the importance of “intelligent curation” with recommendations coming from “connoisseurs.”

Speaking of Reznor, the artist made waves last week in an interview with Spin Magazine, where he declared the cost of what listeners should be willing to pay for his music.

“I’m saying my personal feeling is that my album’s not a dime,” Reznor said. “It’s not a buck. I made it as well as I could, and it costs 10 bucks, or go fuck yourself.”

Though his comments garnered flak from others, who cited the hypocrisy of Reznor previously releasing albums for free online only now to release his band’s latest work Hesitation Marks via a deal with a major label, the Nine Inch Nails frontman also received support from fellow musician, Amanda Palmer.

“When Trent went from doing-it-himself back to using a major label a little while ago, I saw a lot of people bitching about it on Twitter and calling him a ‘traitor’ or whatever,” Palmer wrote on her blog. “I totally stood by and defended his decision to work with a label. He can do what he wants. Why the fuck not?”

Later declaring, “IT’S THE ARTIST’S DECISION. LET THE ARTIST DECIDE,” Palmer also seemed to harbor no ill will towards Reznor, even though in his Spin interview the singer seemed to make a snide comment in her direction, saying, “I know that what we’re doing flies in the face of the Kickstarter Amanda-Palmer-Start-a-Revolution thing, which is fine for her, but I’m not super-comfortable with the idea of Ziggy Stardust shaking his cup for scraps.”

Palmer responded, “Even though I may never do it like NIN, or like Radiohead, or like Miley Cyrus, I think whatever path they choose is fine. Use a label. Don’t use a label. Make mainstream music. Make loud dissonant noise. Twerk your brains out. Being an artist is about forging your own path (in content and in business practice) and following your own path.”

And to think I almost made it all the way to the end of this blog post without mentioning Miley Cyrus or twerking…maybe next time.

For more information on Neil Young, Pono Music, Beats Music or Trent Reznor, please visit the following websites: www.neilyoung.warnerreprise.com, www.mypono.com, www.beatsmusic.com, www.nin.com.

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From Pussy Riot to the Bad Touch: Russia’s Music Crackdown

Apparently Russian residents don’t care for bands performing a “Bad Touch” with their country’s flag.

According to Spin, the Pennsylvania rock group the Bloodhound Gang has been banned from performing at the Kubana festival in the southern region of Russia after video surfaced of the band’s bassist, Jared Hasselhoff running a Russian flag through his underpants at a show in Odessa, Ukraine last week.

Though the stunt was preceded with Hasselhoff jokingly telling the crowd, “Don’t tell Putin,” word quickly got out and Russian Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky, took to Twitter to declare that, “these idiots are not going to perform.”

Watch video of the Bloodhound Gang flag incident here:

Despite an apology from Hasselhoff during a press conference where the bassist said in part that, “it was a band tradition for everything thrown from the stage first to be passed through his pants,” activists from a pro-Kremlin youth group were reported to have thrown eggs and tomatoes at the Bloodhound Gang’s tour bus as the group fled to the airport, where the group was also reportedly attacked, to leave the country earlier than scheduled. Russian authorities are also considering the possibility of pressing charges against Hasselhoff for defaming the Russian flag.

*Update: After more video surfaced Monday of Hasselhoff allegedly urinating on the Ukrainian flag during a concert, the UA Anonymous Hacker Organization announced via Twitter that it attacked the Bloodhound Gang’s website in response and has effectively shut the site down for the time being.*

Such outrage over the actions of outspoken musicians and acts has become something of a trend of late in the former Soviet Republic. Both Lady Gaga and Madonna are currently being investigated for possible charges relating to entering the country with improper visas and then speaking out on stage for gay rights. And the ongoing troubles of the feminist Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, which started after three members of the group were arrested on charges of hooliganism after a guerilla performance at a Russian church in March of 2012, added another chapter last month when one of the members was denied parole after refusing to “repent” for her actions.

Just what all this news means for the increasingly turbulent state of American/ Russian relations is yet to be determined. Sure, the actions of Hasselhoff and company were sophomoric and meant to draw a reaction, but heavy jail-time seems like an especially stiff penalty for a momentary act of stupidity, though I’m sure the bassist and his band mates would snicker at the mention of anything “stiff” coming their way.

What’s that old quote about jokes made in poor taste?

“Of course my jokes are in poor taste, inappropriate, and confused; they reveal my lack of security. But that is because I have no respect for myself.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky said that. And if there’s anyone who knows about the insecurities of Russian affairs and culture it’s surely him.

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Dropkick Murphys, the Boss team to aid Boston bombing victims

DKM - Kerry Brett

Dropkick Murphys (Photo credit: Kerry Brett)

Continuing their tradition of supporting all things Beantown, Boston’s favorite punk rockers the Dropkick Murphys recently donated over $300,000 to 60 surviving victims of the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred on April 15.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the “hometown heroes” raised the money through sales of a special t-shirt that the band produced just days after the tragedy, a special benefit show at Boston’s House of Blues, and sales of the Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity EP.

The EP, which featured a re-recording of the Murphys’ song “Rose Tattoo, also included a special guest vocalist on the title cut: Bruce Springsteen.

“Bruce actually called us up the day of the bombing and asked what he could do to help,” guitarist James Lynch told Springsteen fan site Backstreets in May. “We didn’t have to reach out. He was there for us.”

Watch the Dropkick Murphys’ official video for “Rose Tattoo” (sans Bruce) here:

And Lynch, as well as the rest of the Murphys, will continue to be there for victims of the Marathon bombings and the rest of their fans as well. The band rolls into Mountain Park in Holyoke on August 16, and will continue its tour of the US through September.

Dropkick Murphys with Swingin’ Utters, BarRoom Heroes and Big Bad Bollocks, August 16, 8 p.m., $31, Mountain Park Amphitheater, Route 5, Holyoke, (413) 586-8686, http://www.iheg.com/mountain_park_main.asp.

For information on the Dropkick Murphys and to see future tour dates please visit www.dropkickmurphys.com.

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Northampton musician Jeremy Dubs appears on new Pixies track

In an exciting bit of Massachusetts-centric music news, Northampton musician Jeremy Dubs (Bunnies, Speak!, Rabbit Rabbit) has been announced as appearing on the latest song from Boston alt-rock icons the Pixies.

The song in question, “Bagboy,” is the first new release by the band in nine years, and features Dubs playing bass and singing backing vocals in place of the group’s original bassist Kim Deal, who departed the Pixies two weeks ago.

Watch the official music video for “Bagboy” by the Pixies here:

Speculation concerning a possible new album from the band has been rampant ever since its 2004 reunion, and new material only stokes the dreams of many fans. The Pixies last studio album was Trompe le Monde, which was released in 1991. A download-only single, “Bam Thwok,” was released in conjunction with the group’s 2004 reunion, and featured lead vocals from Deal.

For more information on the Pixies please visit http://pixiesmusic.com/new/.

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Doctor Westchesterson reps Valley Advocate on new track, Chelsea Light Moving premieres Occupy-themed video

Dr. WestchestersonThe “undisputed ruler” of the 413 is back again, and this time Doctor Westchesterson has even seen fit to name drop the Valley Advocate in one of his rhymes.

On his newest track, “Make You Move,” which he dropped on Thursday, Westchesterson mentions a 2012 Advocate cover he shared with Berkshire County politician Bill Shein.

The good doctor raps:

…and then they interviewed me in the pages of the Valley Advocate magazine, yeah it was a cover story, me and politicians share press, press flesh because I’m bigger than all the rest…

***

And in other Valley music news, Florence resident and former Sonic Youth axe slinger Thurston Moore has premiered the first official video by his new band Chelsea Light Moving.

According to an interview in Rolling Stone Magazine, the video for “Lips” features footage of the band interspersed with clips of “Occupy Wall Street rallies and London riots.”

Watch the official music video for “Lips” by Chelsea Light Moving here:

Moore says, “It was the idea of the director, Eva Prinz. It’s a protest song I wrote for all the Occupy people I know, and she’s very involved with Occupy in a very activist way…Making a video of a song with a chorus of ‘Fuck fuck fuck’ is a little ridiculous. You can’t show the thing. But it was a creative moment.”

For more information on Doctor Westchesterson and Chelsea Light Moving please visit http://www.drwestchesterson.com/ and http://www.chelsealightmoving.com/.

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Beastie Boys Honor Past with Memoir and Park

Beastie Boys GoldAlmost one year after the death of group member Adam “MCA” Yauch, the remaining Beastie Boys have announced two projects this week, one of which will honor the late rapper’s memory in his hometown.

According to the New York Times on Monday, the still living members of the Beasties – Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond – have signed a book deal with Random House Publishing to create a memoir that will tell the history of the iconic trio as well as gives readers insight into the group’s style and aesthetic.

The book, to be edited by the hip-hop journalist Sacha Jenkins, will be loosely structured as an oral history. It will also have contributions by other writers, as well as a strong visual component.

Additionally, in a Friday morning ceremony attended by Horovitz as well as Adam Yauch’s mother Frances, the Palmetto Playground on Columbia Street in Brooklyn Heights was officially commemorated as Adam Yauch Park. Those interested in making a donation to the park in support of the artist’s memory can do so here.

Watch footage from the dedication of Adam Yauch Park here:

An MCA Day celebration will also be celebrated on Saturday, the one year anniversary of Yauch’s death, at the performance and art space Littlefield in Brooklyn. The event is free to attend and will feature “five DJs spinning Beastie Boys tunes and a display of art inspired by the hip-hop pioneers.”

Organizer Mike Kearney says that some celebrity guests are expected to stop by Littlefield, but just who’s coming is being kept under wraps in order to maintain the surprise for fans who attend.

For more information on the above projects and more please visit http://www.beastieboys.com/.

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