ESO Podcast, Week of January 21: Chris Cornell Remembered, Bryan Ferry on tour, and “Africa” in Africa…Forever.

From the ESO Network podcast, week of January 21:

“I Am the Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell” took place January 16th at the Forum in L.A. and it’s already being called the concert event of the year.  “Star studded” is kind of a cliché, but this show truly was, with Jimmy Kimmel hosting and members of  Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Melvins, Audioslave, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Ryan Adams. Guest vocalists included Miley Cyrus, Fiona Apple, Chris Stapleton, Miguel and Adam Levine.  The celebrity guest list was diverse, with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, Courtney Cox and many others.

Highlights of the five-hour event included Black Hole Sun sung by Brandi Carlile with Peter Frampton in guitar. Miley Cyrus got cheers for her version of Say Hello 2 Heaven and Adam Levine did likewise for “Seasons.” Proceeds from the evening benefited the EBMRF (Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation).

Bryan Ferry, part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 with Roxy Music, is going on a North American solo tour this summer that will showcase that band’s iconic 1982 album Avalon as well the singer’s own solo work and Roxy Music hits.  It starts July 30th at Toronto’s Sony Centre and runs through September 5th in Vancouver.

And now “Africa” will play in Africa, forever. An artist named Max Siedentopf has set up a solar-powered sound installation in the Namibian desert called “Toto Forever.” You can check it out at Six white blocks support six speakers and a solar-powered MP3 player that contains only that song. It’s all powered by solar batteries that theoretically will run forever. Unless Mother Nature takes revenge.

“[I] wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit ‘Africa’ in Africa,” the 27-year-old artist told the BBC. “Some [Namibians] love it and some say it’s probably the worst sound installation ever. I think that’s a great compliment.”

ESO Podcast: Ryan Adams and A Rush Reunion

Tie-in for the ESO podcast for the week of January 14, 2019:

Ryan Adams didn’t release an album in 2018 but he’s making up for it: he’s teased no less than three albums for 2019, and the title and cover art are all ready for the first one, called Big Colors and due April 19 with 15 tracks – the first single’s called “Doylestown Girl” and it was released last week for airplay by Pennsylvania radio stations only. A second song, called “Manchester,” has just followed. The second album will be called Wednesdays; it has 17 tracks including collaborations with Jason Isbell, Emmylou Harris and Benmont Tench III.

Sleater-Kinney has announced their next album will drop in 2019 and is being produced by St. Vincent.

If you’re a Rush fan, you’ll want to head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland on Saturday January 19 for Rush Fan Day, with a new exhibit of Lee’s basses from the collection he’s put together over 40-plus years, a Hall of Fame Series interview with Lee hosted by Alex Lifeson at noon, a book signing with Lee at 1 p.m., and a rebroadcast of Rush’s Hall of Fame Induction.

The event focuses on Geddy Lee’s new book, entitled “Geddy Lee’s Big Book of Beautiful Bass.” It’s a 408-page coffee table book that looks at Lee’s collection and also features interviews from other musicians, including Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, U2’s Adam Clayton, Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Primus’ Les Claypool and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and includes a graphic timeline of the bass guitar.

Tickets to the event are $125 for the general public and include admission to the Museum and all exhibits including the Lee bass collection, the Lee interview and exclusive signing, a commemorative credential and a copy of the book, which retails for $75. See, all worth going to Cleveland in January. 

ESO Podcast: RIP Pegi Young, and Daryl Dragon; Royal Hong(u)rs, IDLES and David Bowie Is

Joining with the ESO Podcast in a look back at favorite moments of 2018: if you know me at all, you know what it is: the Cars’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past April, and with it the inductions of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone. Once in a lifetime experience.

Pegi Young, a musician, philanthropist, and former wife of Neil Young, passed away January 1in California following a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 66 years old.

Pegi was well known as a co-founder (with her then-husband) of the Bridge School, a non-profit organization for children with physical and speech impairments (including their son, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy). For 30 years from 1986 to 2016, the school’s annual benefit concert drew star performers like David Bowie, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Arcade Fire, Jack White, and a reunion of Temple of the Dog.

Before meeting and marrying Neil, she was a musician, and for many years toured with him as a back-up singer. In 2007 she launched her own solo career, releasing five folk/country albums and touring steadily. Her most recent was “Raw,” released in 2017, which as the title implies, was a portrait of the breakup of her marriage. “We go through things we may not’ve expected, what we thought was maybe our future,” she said. “But even if we get the shock of our lifetime, life goes on. You figure out who you are again, and you just keep going on. I’m a living persona of that.”

Also RIP to Daryl Dragon, AKA “The Captain” of Captain and Tennille fame, who passed away January 2 in Arizona of renal failure. Dragon was also a keyboardist and arranger who worked with the Beach Boys and the Carpenters, among others. The title of the Joy Division song “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was an ironic nod at the title of Captain & Tennille’s biggest hit. 

Michael Palin was just one of many, many people recognized on the most recent Queen’s New Year’s Honours list: Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason received a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services in the world of music, and lead singer for the Alarm Mike Peters has been made an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to charity: he has raised thousands for cancer care projects after recovering from the disease. 

According to the BBC, these are awarded for prominent national or regional roles and to those making distinguished or notable contributions in their own specific areas of activity. An MBE, in particular, can be given for achievement or service in the community.

A new album is on the way from IDLES; the band announced that they’re writing a followup to “Joy as an Act of Resistance” in haiku form in a tweet on New Year’s Day: 

Oh hello new year!

There’s no time like the present

To write album three

Also, the “David Bowie IS” mobile app will be available for iOS and Android beginning January 8, which of course is Bowie’s birthday. Gary Oldman will narrate the virtual tour; he takes you through the Diamond Dogs tour here. 

ESO Podcast: RIP Ray Sawyer, New Thom Yorke and Cure albums, goodbye to a juke box hero

Starting out the New Year with a farewell: goodbye to Ray Sawyer, the former lead singer of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, later known just as Dr. Hook. His trademark pirate eyepatch gave the band its name; they were best known for their 1973 hit “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” which propelled them to headline status with a 23-year-old Bruce Springsteen opening for them. But they had others, including “Sylvia’s Mother,” “Only Sixteen,” and “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman.” Sawyer was 81. 

Thom Yorke is finishing his solo album followup to 2014’s “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes,” which seems to be written if not recorded at this point. He says, “It’s been hanging there for ages, and it’s been [in] this live show, and we need to get it down into a record now.” The album is due for 2019. 

Yorke says the album is “very different to” anything he’s done before and describes it as “political” and “very electronic.”He detailed his process on the forthcoming release in an interview with Spanish news site El Mundo, saying “the method has been the opposite of depending upon the computer. It’s a strange process in which we construct a song in the studio, break it apart, we reconstruct it with a live mix and it turns out completely differently, and that’s when we record. We have improvised many sounds and effects. It has been a very strange way of making a record, which is very exciting.

The Cure have been touring and playing the festivals pretty prolifically for the past few years, including a residency at SSE Arena Wembley, a huge 40thanniversary show at Hyde Park and headlining the Meltdown Festival, curated by Robert Smith himself and featuring NIN, The Libertines, My Bloody Valentine, P-Furs, The Church, The Soft Moon, The Twilight Sad, The Anchoress, 65daysofstatic and others. But there hasn’t been an album in 10 years – the last one was 4:13 Dream in 2008. But that’s about to change, with a new album due possible as soon as this month. 

Classic rock bands have been called the last group of musicians who can tour without creating new music. You may not lump them in with classic rock, but a lot of bands from the Cure’s commercial heyday in the 80s are on the nostalgia circuit. Although he went through a lyrical dry spell over the past few years, Smith says that being involved in Meltdown has rejuvenated him. “(Meltdown) has inspired me to do something new because I’m listening to new bands. I’ve listened to more new music in the last six months than I ever have. I’m enthused by their enthusiasm. So if it doesn’t’ work, I’ll be pretty upset, because it will mean that the songs aren’t good enough.”

We’ll see how much of the new album makes their set lists when they head out again in 2019; they’re signed on for around 20 festivals already, starting in South Africa in mid-March and then across Europe over the summer. 

Former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm announced from the stage after a solo show at Proctor’s in Schenectady NY that the night marked his final show with his solo band.Although he has some dates scheduled for 2019 as part of the Rock Pack,a package tour act that includes Steve Augeri, Kelly Keagy of Nightranger, John Payne of ASIA and others, he’s apparently making good on his previously stated plans to hang up the mic.He said, “You get real excited when you start out in this business, but you’ve gotta be smart enough to know when to walk away from it too. And I just feel it’s that time for me.” 

So now it’s time to wonder: Given that Foreigner is on the wish list of some senior members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee (the late Ahmet Ertegun considered them one of his greatest signings), it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they’ll be one of the populist picks in the next couple of years. Would Gramm return for three more songs with Mick and company?