I can barely contain my excitement. This year is looking like a nostalgia lover’s dream come true. Of course, all of it is dwarfed by the return of the originators of the metal, the fathers of the heavy, the trailblazers of terror…
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett of Gorillaz fame are bringing their show, Monkey: Journey to the West, a music-theater collaboration with renowned opera and film director Chen Shi-Zheng, to New York City’s Lincoln Center for the first time this July.
The show is a stage adaptation of the Chinese novel Journey to the West, which dates back to 1592. Equal parts music theater and Hewlett’s insanely brilliant animation, the show also includes Chinese contortionists, martial artists, acrobats, and trapeze. Whether you’re a Gorillaz fan or not, it sounds like it’s going to be awesome.
The images in this post are new ones Hewlett designed of the show’s characters, and you can also watch Albarn and him discuss the show in this video: http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/05/31/gorillaz-albarn-hewlett-monkey-stage-musical/
Tickets and more info can be found at www.monkeyjourneytothewest.com
This past Memorial Day, I returned to UCLA’s Intramural Field to get my soca wind on and to reggae jam and chill with my Caribbean peoples at the largest West Coast reggae festival around. There aren’t too many fests in general that give you the variety of music you will find on both days, for the price paid ($35 for one day, $50 for both days), with an almost certain guarantee of perfect weather (sunny and 70’s). Although many of us returned to work on Tuesday, it was easy to leave that concern at the door, once the alternating relaxed and Carnival party vibes hit you during each set.
Kicking off the main sets of the day, KES the Band immediately got the crowd to its feet and the Trini flag waving, jumping and winding began shortly after. Doing songs like his popular hits “Wotless”, “Trinidadian” and “Where Yuh From”, it’s easy to see why he’s nominated for Best Live Act awards. I spoke to Kees from Kes after his set and loved his animated energy as he spoke about his music, working with Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion and more. Peep the soundclip of our interview below!
Summer festival season jumped off in Southern California as UCLA held their 27th annual JazzReggae Fest (JRF) this past Memorial Day weekend. Becoming a fan of JRF as a grad student at UCLA, the fest has seen a mix of dope rising and established artists like Jill Scott, India Arie, Little Dragon and The Roots come through in previous years. This year proved no different. Kicking Day One off with two UCLA student bands, country folk Street Hearts and the Gluck Jazz Ensemble, it’s always nice to see the next generation of talent in the pipeline.
Ryan McDermott, a new R&B artist on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label, took the stage around 1:30PM. Listening to some acoustic tracks and his latest single, “Joy” featuring labelmate Hit Boy prior to arriving at the show, I knew I’d like him live. Over the years, the organizers seem to have their pulse on the next big artist and he shows this type of potential. Doing songs which I assume will be on his debut album as well as Stevie Wonder covers like “That Girl”, I happily chatted with him on the blue press carpet after his set. Peep the interview clip way below!
Emerging artist The Green has released two new singles off their new album that is expected to be released August 20. Four extraordinary talents, one scene-shaking reggae band. Why the name “The Green?”
More about the band*
As JP explains, “We wanted a name that didn’t really point you in any direction. It’s just a color, it makes you figure out what you want it to mean.” The same can go for the music, according to Zion: “It’s OK if it just makes you move, or maybe it’s something new for the ear—it’s a good challenge to try and get people to open their minds a little.”
Yeah, I used to love me some Korn. I still remember peeling the cellophane off of my fresh copy of Follow The Leader as a young man, not even a teenager, and becoming enthralled with Johnathan Davis’ angst and the band’s aggression. They were a sort of gateway drug into my love of metal, and have remained a curiosity if nothing else. My enjoyment of their music was severely damaged once I matured past the “me vs the world that hates me” stage of teenagehood, but there were still elements to enjoy, and my deep connection to the band could never be fully severed. Read more
Southern Cali peoples! If you’re still figuring out what to do this Memorial Day Weekend, join me at UCLA’s Intramural Field to see this hype lineup above and below! Both days will guarantee beautiful weather and a variety of dope music which will make you want to lose “Universal Mind Control”. Am pumped to vibe to R&B, jazz and hip-hop on Day One and then will chill and wind it up to reggae and soca on Day Two.
With Victoria Day having past and summer unofficially starting in Canada, it’s time for the music festival season to kick into high gear. Southern Ontario in particular will be getting louder over the next little while – On Saturday, May 25th, it’s the inaugural CBCMusic.ca Festival, taking place at Echo Beach, Toronto’s sand-covered concert setting on the shores of Lake Ontario. (And yes, it IS named after the famous Martha and the Muffins song!)
The CBCMusic.ca Festival is a celebration of sorts for the just-over-one-year anniversary of their digital music service, and will feature performances by Sloan, Kathleen Edwards, international imports Of Monsters and Men, and topped off by Sam Roberts Band. If you can’t make it, there will be an audio stream available at CBCMusic.ca/Festival.
Two weeks later (June 8th), on the grounds of historic Fort York, it’s indie label Arts & Crafts’ 10-year birthday bash, AKA the Field Trip Music & Arts Festival. Label co-founders Broken Social Scene are reassembling for one night to headline the event, to be supported by Feist, Stars, and Bloc Party among others. If you aren’t too battle-weary following Field Day, the day after is the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, where well over 150 bands take over the downtown core of lovely St. Catharines, Ontario for a jam-packed day of rock madness. Better grab a case of energy drinks before you even consult the S.C.E.N.E. schedule!
The granddaddy of multi-venue extravaganzas in Canada is North by Northeast. Besides film screenings, comedians, art installations and a full-blown interactive conference, 2013 will see 1,000 acts play more than 50 stages from June 10-16, including free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square by Social Distortion, The National and Big Boi.
If this isn’t enough “festival-tivity” for you (for now, at least), there’s also Burlington’s Sound of Music, which bills itself as Canada’s largest free music festival. Running June 13-16, they have a harmonious, family-friendly blend of promising up-and-comers (i.e. Lights), as well as veterans like 54-40 who can still rock. There; that ought to keep you kids busy for a bit…
Giving the Dirty South some love this week, I put on Rehab’s 2012 Gullible Travels and it’s been on repeat since. Blending tongue-in-cheek humor with country, rock and hip-hop to produce a sound their own, Rehab’s weathered several storms internally and with former record labels asking them to unsuccessfully conform to fit in a nice, neat one-genre box since the band formed in 1998. With singles like “Waho by the Hoti” which means “Waffle House by the Hotel”, the platinum-selling “Bartender (Sittin’ At a Bar)” and latest “Whore” , Rehab is as raw and real as they come. Touring with acts like Linkin Park, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Rittz, performing 200-300 shows some years, they’ve worked hard, grinded on the road and now have a loyal fanbase to show for it.
I connected with MC Demun Jones from Rehab right before a tour show in Seattle recently to chat about Rehab’s history, funny tour stories, how digital jukeboxes and word of mouth created a platinum selling single without a label and much more! Peep the interview soundclips and videos below and check Rehab’s website for more info on upcoming tour dates!