Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Treme co-creator David Mills dies

The first tragedy in the Treme series comes not to one of the characters but to one of its creators. The sudden death of one of the principal creators of the series, David Mills, casts an eerie real-world pall over this riveting tale about a city's attempt to resurrect itself. Here's the Times-Picayune story writen by Dave Walker:

'Treme' writer David Mills dies of brain aneurysm
By Dave Walker, The Times-Picayune
March 31, 2010, 10:28AM

David Mills, a staff writer and co-executive producer of the upcoming HBO
drama “Treme,” died of a brain aneurysm Tuesday in New Orleans, an HBO
spokesman confirmed Wednesday morning. He was 48.

A former newspaper feature writer, Mills went on to write for some of the
finest TV dramas of the era, including “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “NYPD
Blue,” “ER” and “The Wire.”

"Treme" is currently in production in New Orleans and will have an April 11

"HBO is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend and colleague
David Mills," said a network statement. "He was a gracious and humble man,
and will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved him, as well as those
who were aware of his immense talent. David has left us too soon but his
brilliant work will live on."

Mills attended the University of Maryland and went on to write for The
Washington Post, among other outlets.

His first TV writing credit was for “Homicide" in 1994, according to the
Internet Movie Database.

Mills co-wrote the show's season-two episode "Bop Gun" with "Treme"
co-creator David Simon, for which they won the Writers Guild of America
award in 1995. Mills then went to work for "Picket Fences" and later "NYPD
Blue." He won two Emmy awards for co-writing and executive producing the miniseries "The Corner" for HBO.

In addition to his other credits, Mills was creator and executive producer
of the 2003 NBC miniseries “Kingpin.”

Mills was a member of a small “Treme” writing staff that also included
novelist and “The Wire” veteran George Pelecanos, and New Orleans writers
Tom Piazza and Lolis Eric Elie.

Mills said in a recent interview that he was first contacted about joining
the “Treme” writing staff by co-creators Simon ("The Wire," "Generation
Kill") and Eric Overmyer ("St. Elsewhere," "The Wire") long before the show’s
pilot was picked up by HBO. The pilot was filmed in New Orleans last year.

“I remember seeing their script before the pilot got picked up, which is
going back about three years,” he said. “Simon and I go back 30 years
together. We’re college newspaper buddies.

“By the time this new series came around, I don’t know if it was spoken or
assumed or if it was casually mentioned that if ‘Treme’ were to go, (Simon)
would love me to be a part of it, (and that) I would love to be a part of
it. The timing worked out right.”

Mills said he saw his contribution to the writing of “Treme” was as an
outsider attempting to help Simon and Overmyer interpret the show’s themes –
Hurricane Katrina recovery as expressed through the city’s musical and
culinary subcultures – for audiences beyond New Orleans.

“I will never know as much about New Orleans music as Dave Simon,” he said.
“I will never know as much about the social world and the social history and
the characters of the town as Eric. So I can’t bring any of that.

“What I can bring is the sort of simple story stuff, the stuff I would feel
like I can contribute to any show I happen to be on at any given time, which
is just, ‘How do we get the most out of these characters.’”

A music fan who wrote passionately about his love for 1970s funk music on
his blog Undercover Black Man – read it here: -- Mills had come to love New Orleans
and its music during his time here writing for “Treme.”

“I knew next to nothing about '50s and '60s New Orleans R&B, let alone
the earlier jazz that grew in the city, so this has been a very, very cool
musical education for me, the particular joy of knowing stuff newly,” he

Mills said he approached his New Orleans musical education with a new fan’s
fervor, and spoke enthusiastically about “walking into Louisiana Music
Factory and coming out with $100 of music CDs, almost like letting the
spirits guide you as to which ones to pick,” he said. “There will be no end
to it, it’s so deep.”

Mills wrote two of the series’ 10 episodes -- episode No. 3 by himself and
episode No. 7 with Davis Rogan, a New Orleans musician and former WWOZ-FM DJ
who is a model for one of the series’ characters, played by Steve Zahn.

As co-executive producer and a contributor to the show’s collaborative
writing process, Mills made his craft present in every episode of “Treme,”
which is due to complete first-season production at the end of April.

Accordingly, Mills said he was deeply curious about how “Treme” will be
received by viewers who aren’t familiar with second-line parades, Mardi Gras
Indians and the peculiar challenges of running a New Orleans restaurant
kitchen in the dark days after the 2005 levee-failure flood.

“I’ve got to say that that’s the thing I’m most curious about, because I
think it’s an open question whether it will work,” he said. “Meaning,
whether a lot of people will dig it. You just don’t know, because you can’t
say, ‘People love cops and robbers,’ or ‘People love Westerns,’ or ‘People
love gangsters.’ Here, the show is about the specificity of place. That’s a
hell of a thing to build a show around.

“Here’s one thing I absolutely know: The acting is superb, and the music is
amazing. That’s two things that I know we deliver on. And the rest of it, we’ll

"I look forward to eavesdropping in Internet forums or whatnot, or checking
out the TV critics who write online, to see what they think about the
episodes as they roll out.

“I suspect the power of the show is cumulative. We’re never going to explain
what Mardi Gras Indians are or why they exist, or what a social aid and
pleasure club is, but by the end of 10 episodes, almost without the viewer
knowing it, you’re going to just absorb the essence of the thing. You’re
going to understand the magic of the place.

“At the end of 10, (non-New Orleans viewers) will have seen maybe 60 to 70
local musicians who (they’ve) never heard of, and will have heard the full
gamut of musical styles.

“Its very ethereal, but the show is kind of about that in a way. The city is
about that. I think by the end of it, the cumulative effect will be what it
will be judged on.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Long live Alex Chilton

SXSW has always been about the future. Every year a new crop of eager, ambitious young artists and aspiring moguls flock to Austin for a frenzied exchange of contacts, ideas and spirit. I'm always struck by the optimism as well as the futility of this dance for a slowly dying entertainment industry. But that's OK because as the industry founders the creative aspirations of the people who inhabit it stand out in stark relief. Popular music is more than commerce; it's religion, or maybe I should say a lot of different religions, each one sustaining a core group of acolytes that meet each other each year in this pilgrimage to Austin. Every year it's a more difficult and expensive process, especially in light of the vast economic unwinding that the financial industry has imposed on the world. But these pilgrims will not be denied any more than the millions who sojourn to Mecca or Fatima for their comfort.

Though I'm no longer sure where I fit in the ecclesiastical hierarchy of SXSW I have the comfort of having witnessed it from its inception, when my own delusions and aspirations were part of the heady mix. Over the years I've watched with fascination as the venues, hotels and the city of Austin itself has shed numerous skins, each metamorphosis producing a larger and more rapacious beast. The sleepy, introspective college town I first visited, a hippy shire by comparison to its current monolithic status as the sharpened edge of a state intent on world domination, seems like the kind of image conjured up in fairy tales about places long ago and far away. Today the music that shaped SXSW is only part of a much larger creative partnership with film and a new world being created by social networking tools. The trade show, once a wild bazaar of independent publications and fledgeling record companies with ideas as delusional as my own, is now a restive glimmer of its former self, staffed mainly by representatives of corporate and governmental entites rather than the entrepeneurial renegades of yore (they're at the interactive part of SXSW, hoping to be discovered and bought out by those same corporate entities).

The hustle is still on, which is somehow reassuring in its own way. Instead of trying to sign artists to their small labels, today's budding moguls offer websites where artists can showcase their music via "free" downloads.

After all the dust settles the coin of the realm at SXSW remains live performance and the festival continues to deliver that in spectacular, undigestible fashion. The unofficial showcases, especially on South Congress, have become a major musical event in their own right. The Sixth Street corrider has become an undifferentiated din of overdriven PA systems
that swirl like a swollen river through the afternoon hours. The future of global pop is there somewhere, throbbing and sweating in its birth throes as its audience stares unassumingly back at it.

Now that the rock era is approaching an age roughly equivelant to the span of a human life it is no longer exclusively music for and about youth. This is certainly not news -- the greatest songwriters of the rock era have always contemplated aging and death. But when they were young that contemplation came from a distance either real or fetishized. Death now must be included as part of the experience and SXSW has done a remarkably good job of dealing with it. Last year's panel celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sir Douglas Quintet's Mendocino album was really a rumination on the 10th anniversary of Doug Sahm's death. If the Austin spirit could be summarized by a single individual Sahm would have been it. His death left a gap that will never be completely filled, but his work is being carried on by his friends and relatives in the Texas Tornados, who performed songs from a great new album at SXSW 2010, and by followers such as the terrific San Antonio band the Krayolas, who also played SXSW this year.

This is the first renewal of the event, though, that was completely overshadowed by death. One of the main attractions of SXSW 2010 was a scheduled reunion of the critically acclaimed band Big Star. But the band's reclusive singer Alex Chilton died on the first day of SXSW 2010, turning the festival into an instant memorial for him. The reunion concert became a tribute show.

It was an ironic turn for Chilton. He was one of the rare popular musicians who hated the phoniness of fame and actually did something about it. Chilton was the person most likely to be dismissive of Big Star, a rock band that was more of an idea of how people obsessed with rock iconography viewed their heroes. The band's name itself contained an implied rebuke (those were different times, of course -- today a name like that would contain no irony). Shortly after I heard the news I tried to start the rumor that Chilton had faked his own death in order to avoid going through with the whole thing.

But this isn't 1970 and the myth of rock death no longer conjures romantic images or a fantasy afterlife. Jim Morrison is not living in South America and Jimi Hendrix is certainly gone forever despite the fact that he has a new album out on Sony/Legacy. Alex Chilton is a fitting icon for the comptemplation of life's end as its ultimate goal. Fame and fortune are commodities to be exploited by your enemies after death. What matters is how you lived, and Chilton lived up to his ideals, never accepting the cheap celebrity bestowed on him by those who worship false idols. Chilton didn't want to rest on his laurels, performing "The Letter" to adoring fans. He lived to write another song, for its own sake, and to do the work he himself, not somebody telling him what to do, thought was important.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Showdown at Oaklawn canceled

As expected the connections of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra are skipping the Oaklawn Invitational after Rachel lost her first race as a 4-year-old Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Owner Jess Jackson issued the following statement Sunday:
“Yesterday’s race while a disappointment, helped us define Rachel Alexandra’s racing condition. While she is healthy, just as I had anticipated, she is not in top form. Therefore, I decided today she will not be going to the Oaklawn Invitational on April 9. Steve (Asmussen) and I discussed this fully and we now regret we tried to accelerate her training in order meet the Apple Blossom schedule. We have a whole season before us to help define her greatness. She will tell us when her next race will be.”
Zenyatta, perfect on the racetrack over a 15-start career, has never lost anything except the vote for Horse of the Year. Having beaten Zenyatta at the ballot box there's no good reason for Jackson to let Zenyatta turn the tables on Rachel Alexandra at the racetrack. The way Zenyatta won in her return to action Saturday served notice to all comers that she is still a force to be reckoned with, Eclipse award or not.
Just as they handled her 3-year-old campaign like master promoters, Rachel Alexandra's connections know when to back off their challenge. Let's hope they don't propose any more bogus match races that they know won't be accepted.
Jerry Moss, owner of Zenyatta, was reached by phone at his home in Beverly Hills and asked to comment on Jess Jackson’s announcement that Rachel Alexandra will not run as originally scheduled in the Gr. I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9.
“We’re disappointed that we’re not going to be able to face each other in the Apple Blossom. Hopefully, we can meet down the line. We respect both Steve (Asmussen) and Mr. Jackson as horsemen and they’re going to do what’s right for their horse. That’s all anybody could ask for. We’ll go on to the Apple Blossom as planned."
The weather at Fair Grounds was miserable this winter, a legitimate excuse for trainer Steve Asmussen, who was unable to condition Rachel Alexander in the manner he desired. Nevertheless Saturday's race was supposed to be an easy task for her and Rachel Alexandra couldn't handle it. Many fillies don't mature from their 2-year-old into their 3-year-old seasons, and now that Rachel Alexandra has become a 4-year-old she may no longer have as keen an interest in racing. Jess Jackson may be best off swallowing his pride and retiring Rachel Alexandra to broodmare work. It's unlikely she'll ever beat Zenyatta anyway the way she's running.
NB: One undeniable factor in the Horse of the Year vote was the feeling that Zenyatta had an unfair advantage in the Breeders' Cup running on her home track, Santa Anita. "You can't win a championship without winning an away game," reasoned one horseman, slightly distorting Zenyatta's record. But the fault here lies entirely with the Breeders Cup, which should never have made the mistake of scheduling the event two consecutive years at Santa Anita. You know Zenyatta would have competed at Belmont or Churchill Downs if the Cup was held there. She didn't make the questionable call to make Santa Anita home for the event in both 2008 and 2009. The Breeders Cup site selection committee gave the sport a black eye when it least needs it with this foolish move. So once again I will challenge this insulated group: either come up with a permanent site for this event that suits horsepeople all over the world or devise an equitable solution to the rotation. Personally I'm in favor of making Churchill Downs the permanent site. In Kentucky they know what horseracing is about.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Now who's Horse of the Year?

As a student of the fine art of horseracing I have the inestimable honor of a vote in the annual Eclipse awards for excellence on the track. Of the many awards we get to vote on, Horse of the Year is often a measure of the excitement and contentiousness that followers of the great game get to indulge in. Last year's contest was unusual in that the finalists were both fillies, the 3-year-old Rachel Alexander and the 4-year-old Zenyatta. Both fillies were carefully handled throughout the season, both fillies beat males in open company, but there was never a true measure of their respective greatness because they never ran against each other.

Jess Jackson, the owner of Rachel Alexander and the Kendall-Jackson wines, ducked a confrontation and suggested a bogus alternative race that was never going to happen anyway. His stated reason was that he didn't want to run his horse on the artificial surface at Santa Anita, where the Breeders' Cup, the Super Bowl of horse racing, was conducted last year. So Rachel Alexander ended her year before the traditional fall championship season even began, winning he final stakes race at the Saratoga meet in New York over the summer. At that point I was in Rachel's camp. She had beaten males in a Triple Crown race, then beaten older males in a stakes race with a game performance in fast time.

But Zenyatta had never been passed by a single horse in an undefeated career. Only Personal Ensign had accomplished as much. Zenyatta would make a profound case for Horse of the Year by winning the Breeders Cup Distaff, finishing a distinguished undefeated career and retiring to a life as a broodmare. But owner Jerry Moss, the "M" in A&M records along with trumpeter Herb Alpert, put everything on the line. Instead of entering Zenyatta in the Distaff he put her in the Breeders Cup Classic against what is traditionally the best field of older horses in the world. Moss risked everything for a grand gesture that would prove his filly was the best, while Jess Jackson sat on the sidelines with his filly, who wasn't even entered in the Distaff. Horseracing is a gambler's game, and Moss went all in with his horse's reputation along with millions of dollars in purse money. It was a classic owner's bravura move, a gesture that harkened back to the days when horseracing earned its nickname as the Sport of Kings. And Jess Jackson was smiling in his chardonnay when Zenyatta entered the top of the stretch in the Classic hopelessly beaten, far behind some of the best horses in training.

Then greatness happened, the throat-catching moment when horses reveal themselves as true champions. Jockey Mike Smith moved Zenyatta into a clear path in the middle of the track and Zenyatta didn't need to be told when to do. The filly lengthened her stride and flew past the field with astonishing acceleration. She looked like Forego, like Kelso, like Silky Sullivan, like Seabuscuit, like Pegasus himself swooping past these mere mortals on her way to one of the most stirring victories anyone had ever witnessed. Don't tell me about Beyer figures or par times -- this was a championship performance if there ever was one. Before the gates opened I was in Rachel Alexandra's camp. When Zenyatta crossed the finish line I knew there was only one way I could go in the Horse of the Year voting.

When the votes were counted I was astonished that Rachel Alexandra won. Her owners ducked the confrontation and sat on the sidelines as every other championship was determined. There are many injustices in horseracing but this one will stick in my throat for a long time.

But the story was not over. Moss decided to keep racing his mare as a 5-year-old. This is really an unprecedented move in modern racing, where breeding has become the real moneymaker in the game. It's especially gutsy when you're talking about risking an undefeated career. Now Jackson could no longer put off the inevitable showdown. He continued to propose what were essentially match races before finally settling on the most advantageous terms he could broker, agreeing to have Rachel Alexandra face Zenyatta at Oaklawn Park in the April 9 Apple Blossom Invitational. Oaklawn is a speed-favoring track which suits Rachel's running style and is part of trainer Steve Asmussen's winter stronghold along with the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he prepared Rachel Alexandra for her 4-year-old campaign.

Both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra made their seasonal debuts yesterday. Fair Grounds offered the perfect prep for their Horse of the Year, the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, which appeared on paper to be a cakewalk for Rachel. Zenyatta was scheduled to face a more accomplished field in the Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita.

Zenyatta's trainer, John Shirreffs, decided to send another mare in his barn, Zardana, to run at Fair Grounds in order to size up where Rachel Alexandra stood in relation to Zenyatta. Shirreffs watched Zardana and Zenyatta train every morning and had a good idea of how they compared to each other. Seeing how close Zardana could get to Rachel at the finish of the New Orleans race would give Shirreffs an idea of what Zenyatta would have to do to beat her.

Rachel Alexandra moved easily under Calvin Borel as the race unfolded, tracking the lead down the backstretch and slowly taking over on the far turn. Jockey David Flores asked Zardana for run and she took aim at the leaders on the outside, then put a head in front of Rachel Alexandra turning for home. Borel asked Rachel for acceleration, showing her the whip at first, then cracking her a couple of good ones. Zardana edged away then ran on, holding Rachel at bay through a long stretch run with Borel whipping and driving away. The Horse of the Year was well beaten in her return by Zenyatta's stablemate.

Zenyatta's turn came half an hour later. Once again she merely jogged out of the gate and was still in last place turning for home. Smith had her in traffic this time and couldn't get her clear on the outside. He had to pull her up once in the the stretch, then check again as paths closed in front of her. Zenyatta seemed to sense Smith's hesitation and took over. This time she looked like Reggie Bush, ducking sideways to pass one horse, veering at an angle past another then pulling to the outside for a clear run to the lead inside the furlong pole. This kind of agility in a big horse is seldom witnessed.

When the dust cleared Zenyatta was still undefeated and Rachel Alexandra was the first "Horse of the Year" in a decade to lose its next race. A surly Asmussen remarked that if he didn't think she would win he wouldn't have run her, and Mr. Jackson is now hedging his bets about facing Zenyatta at Oaklawn.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hip-hop showcase at Howlin' Wolf on Saturday

NEW ORLEANS – The four elements of hip-hop: DJing, Emceeing, Break Dancing and Graffiti, will come together at the Howlin’ Wolf on March 13 at 3pm. This unique opportunity to learn about the positive aspects and contributions of hip-hop culture will feature live performances from over 25 artists and 5 DJs.
Featured artist and Legendary producer, Pete Rock will showcase the hits that brought him fame, participate in a panel for artist feedback, as well as judge the Soundclash beat battle which will take place following Kicks & Snares.
Performances will include a wide variety of artists from New Orleans, Oakland, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jackson, Ms., New York, and other locales. Other highlights include MC battles, cyphers, raffles, food and free sponsor giveaways.
In addition to a being a one-of-a-kind music event, Kicks and Snares is guaranteed to be one of the biggest sneaker buy, sell, and trade events in the Greater New Orleans area. Event participants will compete for up to $500 in cash and prizes.
Kicks and Snares is sponsored by Tygah Woods Radio, The Hut Studios, TheIMMEG (Image), Hip-Hop and Fashion, The Hottest Parties, Ensign, 333MusicUniversity, Elevated Minds Music, B.F.A.M. Studios, Bzy Bee, Eupham, OnPoint Media, Grassroots, and The Source Magazine.

Contact El Williams or Chuck Jones at 504-606-5621 or Nicoya Hogan at 504.931.3253 for more information. For advance tickets or vendor booths visit

When: March 13, 2010, 3 pm to 8 pm
Where: Howlin’ Wolf, 907 S. Peters, New Orleans
Tickets: start at $10

The performance lineup includes Dee-1, Skipp Coon, Lil Dee, Aqua Force, Mdot Cdot, Bzy Bee, Truth Universal, AA, TNC Boys, Sess-45, Lyrikill, Tygah Woods, Suave, Nesby Phips, A. Levy, Floopy Head, Lok Akim, Mister Wayne, Corner Boy P, Chels, TheSeKondElement, Lyriqs, The Cartel, Jack Spratt, and more. DJs will include the Legendary Pete Rock, GO DJ E.F. Cuttin, GO DJ Tony Skratchere, GO DJ Dat Boi, DJ Def D, Mister Nick, and more.

Dr. John to perform at benefit gala

The 12th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. Gala fund-raising concert will take place Thursday, April 22nd, and features the work of Dr. John and the Heritage School of Music, the Foundation's signature education program.

The Gala takes place Thursday, April 22nd, at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans.

The evening features a lifetime musical tribute to Dr. John, who will also perform. Keyboardist and bandleader Jon Cleary will also be on the bill.

The Gala also will honor Edward "Kidd" Jordan, the longtime leader of the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music, the signature education program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.

Gala tickets are a hefty $500 each, but they include exclusive patron premiums as well as a special Gala Pass to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival good for admission on all seven days of the festival (a $420 value at the gate). To purchase tickets to the Gala, please call (504) 410-4148.

Proceeds from this year's Gala will support the Don Jamison Heritage School of Music, a free after-school program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ornette Coleman birthday broadcast today

WKCR presents its annual Ornette Coleman and Bix Beiderbecke "birthday broadcasts" Tuesday and Wednesday March 9 & 10.

Displaying the full breadth and depth of our programming, WKCR plays the music of modern free jazz master Ornette Coleman for 24 hours around the clock on his birthday anniversary, this Tuesday, and then follows it up with legendary early jazz giant Bix for 24 hours on his birthday anniversary, Wednesday.

Tune in and listen, WKCR (89.9 on the FM radio dial in New York City, and available around the world over the internet at and also at itunes radio)

Susan Cowsill at SXSW; new album scheduled

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Lighthouse, Susan Cowsill’s second solo album, is scheduled for May 18, 2010 release on Threadhead Records. The singer/songwriter is a magnificent example of the immense talent being nurtured in New Orleans right now, and she is scheduled to perform several showcases later this month at SXSW.

Susan first entered the pop-culture spotlight at the age of eight, as the youngest member of the ’60s musical family the Cowsills. She reemerged decades later in New Orleans as a member of the alt-pop supergroup the Continental Drifters. In 2005, Susan made an inspired solo debut with Just Believe It, but soon had to deal with multiple tragedies -- the deaths of Susan’s brothers Billy and Barry, and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which temporarily displaced Susan and her family from her adopted hometown.

“Lighthouse was written over the last four years during our recovery from Hurricane Katrina,” she says. “As you might guess, the songs on this record are pulled from the very deep well of this most life changing experience. Having lost 99.9% of our material and emotional belongings, and one whole human being, my brother Barry Cowsill, there was much to say and feel and express. It has taken all this time to pull ourselves back together to even be able to form comprehensible sentences never mind full on songs.”

She adds, “I would say that the music on this record is best described as songs about the loss of a world and a lifetime that no longer exists. It is about the uncertainty of the days, weeks and months that were ahead of us. And at the same time, it is the music of hope and faith and survival. The renewal of our city, our families and most importantly our souls.”

The tribulations of the past few years resonate throughout Lighthouse. Cowsill’s new songs reflect the hard-won lessons of her recent experiences, while maintaining the unmistakable sense of optimism and spirituality that’s always been at the heart of her work. That indomitable spirit is reflected in the infectious grit of such emotionally vivid originals as “ONOLA,” “Sweet Bitter End,” “The Way That It Goes” and “Avenue of the Indians,” which features guest vocals by longtime friend and admirer Jackson Browne.

In addition to Susan’s own compositions, Lighthouse includes an impassioned reading of the late Barry Cowsill’s “River of Love,” which features soaring harmonies by Susan’s brothers Bob, Paul and John Cowsill, as well as sister-in-law (and Bangles/Continental Drifters member) Vicki Peterson, and renowned session guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who began his career playing with the Cowsills in the 1960s. Another highlight is a distinctive, stripped-down reworking of the Glen Campbell/Jimmy Webb classic “Galveston,” which demonstrates Susan’s status as a peerless interpretive singer.

Cowsill further explains, “Going through Katrina was most certainly like experiencing a death. The time in between the storm and the making of Lighthouse was the grieving period, and the recording of the music was the funeral, laying it all to rest, saying goodbye, and starting over.

“So here we are, in our new world. And this world is filled with beauty and light and excitement, and the new found knowledge that the present is really all that we have, because everything can change in the blink of an eye . . .hey . . .that sounds like a song comin’ on . . . gotta go!”

SXSW Austin appearances next week:

Wed, March 17, time TBA - Roadhouse Rags, 1600 Fortview
Thurs., March 18 , 3 p.m. - The Dog and Duck, 406 W. 17th St. at Guadalupe

Thurs., March 18, 12 midnight - G&S Lounge, 2420 S. 1st St.
Fri., March 20 - 8 p.m. - Official SXSW Showcase at Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn
Sat., March 21 - 8 p.m.- Opal Divine's, 700 W. 6th St.


ANTI- Recording artist Jolie Holland will join the IRRevue this Sat Mar 13 at Highline Ballroom singing an Irish classic. For more information about her check out NYC rocker Garland Jeffreys has also been added to the lineup.

The Irish Rock Revue is working with on their drive "50,000 t-shirts for HAITI." Please bring gently used or new tshirts to the show. There will be an onsite booth for donated tshirts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OffBeat switches cover art

The March issue of OffBeat featured a cover line that has elicited anger, outrage and sorrow in and out of New Orleans. The reference was entirely inappropriate and cringeworthy, and fortunately the magazine has ordered another print run with a new cover. I write for OffBeat and although I have no input on cover art I'd like to add my apology to what I believe has been a genuine effort on the part of the staff to offer sincere contrition and try to move on. The future of New Orleans and the legitimate attempt to chronicle the ongoing importance of the city's music is at stake here. A stupid mistake should be recognized as such because anyone can make a mistake. The honest apology required has been offered and hopefully accepted. There is plenty of real hate speech out there; OffBeat is honestly not part of that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Link to New Orleans bounce story

I recently completed a piece on New Orleans bounce that appears in the current issue of OffBeat:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Joe Hurley's Irish Rock Revue March 13

This is a great night of music featuring some of the best folk, rock and traditional Irish musicians in New York, always a joyous performance that is really not to be missed. Here's the info:

w/ Joe Hurley & The Gents & A CAST of 1000s
Saturday March 13th, Highline Ballroom
431 W 16th St (between 9th & 10th)
Doors Open 6:00 pm
Show 6:30pm-11:00 pm
Tix $20
VIP Reserved seating $30

New York, NY: Joe Hurley's 11th Annual All-Star Irish Rock Revue will be held this year, for one-night-only, at NYC's stunning HIGHLINE BALLROOM, on Saturday, March 13th!

"Joe Hurley's Irish-Rock-A-Palooza receives rave reviews every year as the biggest St Pat's Party in town-Hurley himself is revered for his soulful Shane MacGowan-esque baritone" NEW YORK MAGAZINE

Here's what to expect: A PADDY ROCK & ROLL CIRCUS! Every year during the St Patrick's season, NYC singer/songwriter Joe Hurley salutes his Irish heritage with a blazing extravaganza of performers and songs that celebrate Ireland's musical gifts to the world - The All-Star Irish Rock Revue.

Gathering friends from NYC punk-rock legends to Broadway stars, from best-selling novelists to star comedians -- from Rock & Roll Hall-Of-Famers to downtown luminaries -- from visiting Irish entertainers to up and coming local singers, the performers all dive into Hurley's vision of 'The Great Irish Songbook', backed by The Revue's sublime All-Star band, led by MD Jon Spurney (Passing Strange MD), Mark Bosch-Guitar (Ian Hunter), Tony Shanahan-Bass (Patti Smith),Steve Goulding-Drums (Mekons, Elvis Costello), Kenny Margolis-accordion (Cracker), Megan Weeder-violin and downtown's own Tish & Snooky-backing vocals.

Now entering it's second decade as a beloved NYC institution, Hurley's All-Star Irish Rock Revue is "the biggest and best St. Pat's Musical event in New York" Irish Echo

The guest singers rip through the classics of Thin Lizzy, U2, Van Morrison, The Undertones, Sinead O'Connor, SLF, The Pogues, Declan MacManus, Boomtown Rats, John Lydon, Morrisey, The Dubliners, The Divine Comedy,The Chieftains, traditional gems and much more. From The punk of the Undertones "Teenage Kicks" to the soul of Van Morrison's "Domino"; from the pure rock bliss of Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys are Back In Town" and U2's "I Will Follow" to the poetry of the Pogues' "Sally MacLennan" -- the songs of the Irish are sung by an incredibly electric and extraordinary group of performers.

Hosted by Joe Hurley and Ed Rogers, the IRR kicks off at 7:00 pm sharp. DJ GAZ of EAST VILLAGE RADIO spins Irish artists between sets. And, UK comic legend Stephen Frost is flying in to perform and help out with hosting duties.

Early confirmed performers include Country star Laura Cantrell, Indie-Rock icon Steve Wynn, Steve Conte (NY Dolls, Crazy Truth), Ivan Julian (Voidoids/Matthew Sweet/Clash), Ellen Foley ("Stop Right there" of 'Paradise by The Dashboard Light'), Willie Nile, UK comic Stephen Frost, Tony-Winner Michael Cerveris, SNL's Christine Ohlman, soul-legend Tami Lynn (Exile on Main St/ Dr John) Downtown chanteuses Marni Rice, Mary Lee Kortes, Lisa Burns, Tricia Scotti & Lianne Smith, Ed Rogers, Sheryl Marshall (Dusty Gals/Buster Poindexter), Broadway and film star Antonique Smith, Dave Kincaid (The Brandos), Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith), James Mastro (Ian Hunter/Patti Smith), producer Don Fleming (Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub), Alice & Alex (ex Modrocket), 2009 National Book Award Winner Colum McCann, 2010 Oscar Nominee Sam Bisbee, Seth Adam, Faith Hahn and many more TBA shortly. There will also be some very special guests announced week of show! Previous 'surprise performers' have included Ronnie Spector, Fountains of Wayne and STEW.

THIS IS AN ALL-AGES SHOW! Bring the kids!
Tributes will be paid to three magnificent Irish and Irish-American artists that we've recently lost: FRANK McCOURT, LIAM CLANCY and JIM CARROLL.
PLEASE NOTE: This year's IRR will end at 11:00 pm, so come early, have dinner, and enjoy the show! There will be an official after-party for all ticket-holders TBA at venue.

"Anything can happen, and usually does, at The IRISH ROCK REVUE" NEW YORK POST

Joe Hurley, per tradition, kicks off the proceedings at 6:30pm. Called 'One of NY's most entertaining frontmen -- his distinctive vocals can be as raucous as all get-out and as sorrowful as a baritone can be....Hurley is the best singer of vowels in rock" by the Village Voice, Hurley has released many critically acclaimed CDs and is featured on the SONY release "Whiskey in the Jar:Essential Irish Drinking Songs" with his ballad "Amsterdam Mistress", alongside classics from the Pogues, the Dubliners and the Clancys. His band of Gents includes James Mastro (Ian Hunter), Tony Shanahan, Kenny Margolis, Denny Mcdermott (Rosanne Cash, David Johansen) Megan Weeder and Jon Spurney.

Hurley and Irish Novelist Colum McCann recently released a CD-EP "The House That Horse Built" inspired by McCann's 2009 National Book Award Winning Novel "Let the Great World Spin." The CD features Paddy Moloney of THE CHIEFTAINS -- Hurley and McCann are currently working on a full length CD of songs for the novel.

Hurley, a London-bred, Irish-Blooded New Yorker, has sung with a host of great folks including THE CHIEFTAINS, Judy Collins, Sam Shepard, Nellie Mckay, Laura Cantrell, Shane MacGowan, Marianne Faithfull, The Waco Bros, Andrea Marcovicci and Maude Maggart. The leader of two NYC groups, Rogue's March, and Joe Hurley & The Gents,Hurley has been produced on recordings by Tony Visconti, PJ Harvey, Jimmy Harry, James Mastro & Don Fleming, among others.

The Irish Rock Revue thanks it's friends and sponsors. Gibson, Wildroverclothing, Irish Echo,, Irish Business Organization, Manic Panic, and the Irish Network-NYC.

"There's no shortage of people and places to avoid around St Patrick's Day, but Joe Hurley's All-Star Irish Rock Revue is not an event to be missed! The Annual concert sees host band Joe Hurley and Rogue's March share a stage with members of the New York Dolls, The Dictators and The Patti Smith Band. They'll all cover songs of Irish musicians such as U2, Thin Lizzy, and Van Morrison."

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