Some interesting and generally unrelated things have been going on in the music world. Here are a few of them:
• In July, the Stray Cats reunited for the first time since 1992, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the group’s inception. The event was part of the Hootenanny festival, held at Cal State Fullerton July 5-6. Also headlining the historical event was Social Distortion, with performances by the Blasters, John Doe, Little Richard, and Rocket from the Crypt. Details about this yearly extravaganza can be found at thehootenany.com.
• Lots going on with Kiss. Celebrating 30 years of balls-out rock, the band has just launched Kiss Records, an imprint of Sanctuary. The first release of this new label is Kiss Symphony: Alive IV, a live recording of a performance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on February 28. Not only that, but the made-up
madmen set out on tour with fellow showmen Aerosmith on August 2.
• Back in March, a very rough version of Radiohead’s new album was leaked to the Internet and then, as these things happen, was immediately in the hands of every Radiohead fan in existence (and there are so many of them!). Hail to the Thief—purportedly not a reference to the individual who “stole” and leaked the album, but actually to George W. Bush—came out for real on June 10. The band wanted to be clear that they weren’t angry that their music is posted online—on the contrary, they support file sharing—but the “stolen” album wasn’t even mixed yet.
Those Radiohead fans are an insanely dedicated crew, judging from their recent run-in with Warner/ Chappell Music. On June 2, Warner Brothers Publications, who own publishing rights to, like, everything, sent a letter out to a number of Radiohead fan sites that post song lyrics and guitar tab.
“Rather than sending you an overblown ‘legal’ letter full of threatening language,” read the letter, “we would simply like to ask you to remove the LYRICS &TABS archive from your Web site.”
As I mentioned, those fans are rabid, and an online petition asking for a boycott of Warner/Chappell— along with a barrage of e-mails and voice-mail messages to the Warner/ Chappell office—have done the trick. Warner/Chappell sent out another letter stating that free, yearly licenses will be granted to select sites. Really quite savvy on the part of Radiohead and their management—those fan sites are basically free advertising. And here’s a little more: For guitar tab to many of your favorite Radiohead songs, click on over to ateaseweb.com or treefingers.com.
• The last few years have seen a surge in one-off, European-style summer music festivals. Based on the
immensely popular Glastonbury and Roskilde festivals in England and Denmark, these events offer huge names, huge crowds, and hours of fun in the sun. Hopefully. Unfortunately, Americans don’t seem to quite have it down yet. First, there was the postponement of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Los Angeles. The ATP festival originated in England several years ago, with organizers selecting one act or artist to “curate” (meaning to choose the acts for the festival). Sonic Youth curated the first stateside event in Los Angeles last year. The Simpsons’ creator, Matt Groening, helmed the L.A. project this year, selecting such stellar acts as Mission of Burma, Patti Smith, Yo La Tengo, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, the Breeders, Wire, and a reunion of the Magic Band. Despite the incredible line-up, ticket sales were sluggish, and the organizers opted to postpone the whole shebang until September 26-28.
Then there was the Field Day location debacle. Originally slated to happen in Riverhead, New York, on June 7-8, the line up included Radiohead, the Beastie Boys, Beck, Sigur Ros, Liz Phair, Blur, and Elliott Smith. At the end of May, it became apparent that Suffolk County hadn’t actually issued a permit for use of the grounds. A last minute move to Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, resulted in half the acts and half the attendance. Adding insult to injury, it was pouring rain and Beck wasn’t able to appear after sustaining a rib injury back stage. Trouble indeed. Ditto that story for Bonaroo NE. Last year’s Bonaroo festival, held on a 500-acre farm in rural Tennessee, was a huge success, drawing 70,000 fans for three days. It was so great, they decided to do two this year, one in the same location, and one in. . . yes
indeed, Riverhead, New York. Though the Bonaroo NE festival had confirmed Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Dead, and others, they hadn’t gotten that all-important permit, and cancelled the event entirely. I guess we Yanks can’t be expected to get it right immediately. Maybe next summer.
• And, finally, if imitation is the highest form of flattery, Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti should be blushing. In April, Kevin Eckenrod was arrested in Clearwater, Florida, for impersonating the pop star. Apparently Eckenrod claimed to be Tremonti, and handed out autographed publicity shots. A woman claimed that he stole her credit card out of her back pocket while kissing her. Eckenrod told the police, upon being arrested, that he was an alcoholic and this was his way of getting free drinks. He also stated, “Hey, you have to admit that I do look like the guy from Creed.” I think there’s a lesson here for all of us.