This weekend, The Spring Standards rocked a sold-out Arden Gild Hall for the venue’s eighth annual Boxing Day show. The band, whose primary members, Heather Robb, James Cleare and James Smith, are from Wilmington, put on an expectedly stellar show of pop rock. With undertones of Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and their own unique aesthetic of keyboard, guitar and percussion, they enchanted the festive venue. Highlights included their brilliant “Sharks” and an acoustic segment that featured the beautiful singalong “So Simple So True,” among many other outstanding moments.
Ticket arts writers weigh in on what they think are the most important local arts moments of 2015.
Lisette Oropesa’s in Opera Philly’s “Traviata”
It’s been a banner year generally for Opera Philadelphia, but Lisette Oropesa’s Violetta in Traviata (her first performance of the role) was special. The beautiful young soprano met every vocal demand — fiendishly difficult as they may have been – and acted it superbly. Opera lovers around the world pay attention to debuting Violettas – the great ones are so rare. Here in Philly, we found one. —David Fox
Philadelphia Film Society Saves the Prince
The gorgeous Prince Theater seemed to be in quite a bit of limbo: The resident production company had vacated a number of years ago, and their presentations were random at best. With PFS purchasing the building, the theater has becoming a bustling hub not only for movies (it’s now the only mainstream movie theater in Center City) but performing arts, and their Razz Room is hosting some of the hottest NYC cabaret acts around. —Bryan Buttler
Country legend Kenny Rogers performed his “Once Again Its Christmas” tour Friday night at Valley Forge Casino. This is the 34th year that Rogers has taken his Christmas concert on the road, and this show sold out, with 1,700 fans in the house.
He sang hits like “Lucille,” “The Gambler” and “Lady” along with tunes from his new holiday album, Once Again It’s Christmas, which is his sixth solo holiday LP since 1998’s Christmas From the Heart. In 1984, he released a pretty fantastic duets album with Dolly Parton called Once Upon a Christmas.
No, Rihanna and KendrickLamar haven’t written their memoirs yet, but just wait a few years. Seems like every musician is sitting down these days at his or her computer to type out their stories. (Though in 2013, it was reported that Adele rejected a seven-figure book deal with Harper Collins because she thought she was too young at age 24. Yup.) But even iconoclastic GraceJones, who famously declared she’d never write up her life story, published hers in September. The title? I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. Ha!
We’ve compiled a list of 18 juicy rock-and-roll memoirs published this year. Get your friends and family members what they really want: a book full of drama, bad choices, tattoos, alcohol, sex, celebrities, crazy fans, artistic genius, redemption and hard-earned wisdom.
Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums by Travis Barker with Gavin Edwards
The tattooed drumming god who made his name backing punk band Blink-182, Travis Barker bares his soul in this frank and engrossing memoir. Yes, it’s loaded with celebs — Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, LL Cool J, Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, Steve Aoki — but it’s more than a celebrity parade, it details the pain and challenges he met with after the death of his mother during his teens, his MTV reality show — Meet the Barkers — his struggle with drug addiction, his survival (along with friend DJ AM) from the 2008 South Carolina plane crash that killed four others, as well as the love and satisfaction he’s derived from fatherhood and the total dedication to his family and his music that kept him going. He lays it all out there in a deeply personal style. (William Morrow, $28.99)
Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, The Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel by Ray Benson and David Menconi
Ray Benson, a Jewish hippie from Philadelphia, chronicles Asleep at the Wheel’s long, strange journey bucking trends from its very beginning in 1970. With groovy psychedelic music on the wane and disco getting hot, the 12-piece band took a different direction altogether and honed its Western swing band style. Though they won nine Grammy Awards, AATW and its 6’ 7” frontman still aren’t mainstream names. Benson’s memoir shows the power of persistence and reinvention when a Jewish boy from the burbs of Philadelphia can become a bonafide Texan country-western star. (U. Of Texas Press, $24.95 )
Dark Days: A Memoir by Randall Blythe
Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe has had a unique journey even among rock stars. One of the kings of speed metal and adored by his loyal flock of fans, Blythe was arrested in 2010 in the Czech Republic and charged with manslaughter for allegedly pushing a teenage fan off the stage to his death at Prague’s Club Abaton. In Dark Days, the recovered alcoholic retells the chilling series of events that include 38 days in the notorious Pankrác Prison before his release and eventual total exoneration. Blythe’s compassion for the fan’s family throughout the Kafkaesque trial speaks to the singer’s code of honor. This book is not just for metalheads, but for everyone. Lamb of God performs at Electric Factory January 14. (Da Capo Press, $26.99)
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein
If a book could be an “it” girl, this memoir might be that for 2015. Publishers Weekly wrote: “Brownstein is unafraid to reveal her emotional vulnerability, making this one of the smartest and most articulate music memoirs in recent years.” Brownstein, co-creator of the Portlandia television series, and co-founder and guitarist of the rock band Sleater-Kinney, details the role of music in rescuing her from a chaotic upbringing and giving her a kind of emotional armor. She candidly describes her mental state — her depression, panic attacks and need for validation — her relationship to her body, her cerebral family, her lovers and her creativity. (Riverhead books, $27.95)
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello, born Declan Patrick MacManus, has rubbed shoulders with many of the big-time rock and roll greats — and he’s not afraid to write about all of them in his massive 674-page memoir. The book, written in Costello’s trademark hyper-wordy nerdy style isn’t told in chronological order, but darts back and forth in his life episodically. Costello serves up plenty of dish about friends and bands including The Clash, Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, T Bone Burnett, etc. He also writes about wrecking his marriages and of his infamous exchange of words with Ray Charles in 1979, when he drunkenly called Charles “a blind, ignorant n——r.” You’ll find contrition, rock and roll grudges explained, performances described, and all of Costello’s family history going back to 1800. It’s a heavy book. (Blue Rider Press, $30)
Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway and Chris Hodenfield
Bass player of the band, Dennis Dunaway writes about the rise and fall of the iconic Alice Cooper Group. He describes the early years and how the two high schoolers from Phoenix formed the band that would hit it big in the 1970s. He and long-haired, dress-wearing, eyeliner-sporting Alice Cooper (born Vince Furnier) began their creative journey as one of the trailblazing bands of “shock rock theater.” Unpredictable and notorious, the band is vividly brought to life in this tome set in the golden age of classic rock. Fan of Kiss or Marilyn Manson? Read about the band that kicked it all off. (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99)
Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music by John Fogerty
Fogerty doesn’t hold back throwing shade at the other guys in Creedence Clearwater Revival and the head of their record label. Still saddled with unresolved lawsuits, Fogerty outlines when things started going wrong and the band’s “betrayal” over contracts, royalties and dealing with Fantasy Records’ Saul Zaentz. There’s a LOT of bad blood here. Fogerty refused to play with bandmates during their induction ceremony in 1993 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fogerty describes his heavy drinking and a failed marriage, but he also analyzes the making of some of rock’s most famous tunes, including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Run Through the Jungle.” (Little, Brown, $30)
Girl in the Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon
You know when I said Carrie Brownstein’s memoir could be the “it” girl book of the season? Well, Kim Gordon’s memoir chronicling her life and that of her band, Sonic Youth, might just be THE “it” book. Absorbing, smart and personal, Girl in the Band recounts Gordon’s childhood in California, her time in the downtown New York art scene, the breakup of her 27-year marriage to fellow band member Thurston Moore and the creation of her new group Body/Head. Sonic Youth was the coolest of the cool, and this totally engrossing memoir takes you along for the ride. (Dey Street Books, $14.99)
Reckless: My Life as A Pretender by Chrissie Hynde
One of the most important females in rock, Chrissie Hynde, the aloof, lead vocalist for The Pretenders carefully presents her past in this memoir. One of the stories getting the most attention is one in which she describes being violently assaulted by a biker gang and then blaming herself, “I take full responsibility.” She shares anecdotes including giving a ride to David Bowie in Cleveland when he made his American debut as Ziggy Stardust, or almost marrying Sid Vicious, her turbulent love affair with Ray Davies, and waking up with Iggy Pop in her bed. Hynde remains elusive in her own memoir, but that is the complexity of Ms. Hynde. (Doubleday, $26.95)
Never Broken: Songs are Only Half The Story by Jewel
Jewel’s story is one of extreme bad and good luck in equal measure. Her mom abandons the family. Her dad’s an alcoholic, so they spend a lot time playing music in biker bars in Alaska. She emancipates herself at 15, ends up homeless after reconnecting with her mother in San Diego and living out of her car. After singing at a coffee shop long enough to start building a reputation, Jewel gets signed by Atlantic Records. But then her mother spends all of her money. She perseveres and sticks with music going on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide. Now in her 40s, Jewel takes stock of her life in this cathartic memoir. Be warned though, she not afraid to lay on the self-help pep talk. (Blue Rider Press, $27.50)
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones as told to Paul Morley
A Bond villain, a movie star, a model, a regular at Studio 54, a song stylist of the most unique dimensions, Grace Jones, 67, gives us plenty of stories in her memoir. She’s her imperious, larger-than-life self in this juicy read with anecdotes including Jerry Hall, Nile Rodgers, Timothy Leary, Marianne Faithfull, Andy Warhol, Dolph Lundgren and Debbie Harry. Yes, yes, yes. This avant-garde glam gal delivers the goods in her chatty book. (Gallery Books, $26.99)
Over the Top and Back: The Autobiography by Tom Jones
Known as the working-class, virile, Welshman who drove women so wild they threw their undies on stage at him, Tom Jones curiously doesn’t spend ink on his legendary philandering — his “marathon shagathon,” writes the Daily Mail — in his 424-page memoir. Married at age 16 to his impregnated girlfriend, Jones hits the road with his sex-god image in place and makes his mark on showbiz in the sixties and seventies. The singer who sang pop classics such as “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New Pussycat?” and “She’s a Lady,” takes us from the heady days at the height of his success — hobnobbing with the likes of Elvis and Frank Sinatra, to the following lows and now the comeback victory lap at age 75 — even releasing a new album Long Lost Suitcase this fall. (Blue Rider Press, $26.95)
Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon
The outspoken frontman of England’s Sex Pistols — and afterwards for Public Image Ltd. — John Lydon tells his story as though you’re sitting with him drinking a pint at the bar. He’s profane, hilarious, self-deprecating, furious, honorable and entertaining as hell. This big book flies by and engulfs the reader in a sea of A-list musicians on their way up and on their way down. Most touching though is Lydon’s retelling of his childhood when this bright young boy was struck down with meningitis, putting him in a coma and wiping out his memory. His confusion, recovery, ostracism and his determination is saddening and inspiring. You can’t help but root for the kid who grew up to shock the world when he howled the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK.” (Dey Street Books, $28.99)
It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson with David Ritz
At 82, Willie Nelson is an American cultural icon — stubborn, independent, unique. Writing with direct clarity, Nelson recounts his early years in rural Texas, raised by his grandparents and taking to the guitar and songwriting by the age of eight. We learn about his struggles in the fickle music world, as well as his career that’s included more than 100 albums, Grammys, and multiple honors. Famously an advocate of marijuana, he speaks about his support for the legalization of the substance. Nelson also gives the dirt on his troubles with women and the IRS. He shares stories about his posse of famous country-music buddies including Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Leon Russell, Chet Atkins, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. For hardcore Nelson fans, he provides the stories behind some of his biggest songs, “Crazy”, “Yesterday’s Wine”, and “On the Road Again.” Wilson himself writes, “What I say is that this is the story of my life, told as clear as a Texas sky and in the same rhythm that I lived it.” (Little, Brown and Co., $30)
Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon
Daughter of the co-founder of Simon & Schuster, Carly Simon seemed to have the epitome of a privileged childhood with celebrity-studded domestic life in Greenwich Village, Connecticut and summers in Martha’s Vineyard. In this candid book, she shares disturbing details of what was going on behind the facade of domestic harmony. We learn she was sexually abused from age seven to 16 by a family friend, who, when discovered, was forbidden from visiting — for only the summer. Her mother kept a 19-year-old lover in the house with a secret passage between their rooms. She’s surprisingly open about her love life with stories about Warren Beatty (for whom she penned, “You’re So Vain”), Jack Nicholson, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens and, of course, James Taylor. Simon’s book is a brave and candid account of her not-so-golden life. (Flatiron Books, $28.99)
M Train by Patti Smith
Critics are swooning over the beauty of Patti Smith’s writing in M Train as she poignantly revisits the pain of losing loved ones — her husband, her brother, and her friend Robert Mapplethorpe — and muses on the passage of time. 68-year-old Patti Smith — a local girl, growing up in Germantown and Southern New Jersey — received the 2010 National Book Award for Nonfiction for her memoir, Just Kids, that focused on her artistically formative years in New York City, particularly her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. With M Train, she pays tribute to those who’ve inspired her and left her behind. We get her fearless appraisal of mortal things and the fleeting quality of life. (Alfred A. Knopf, $25)
Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and M by Bernard Sumner
Perhaps in response to bandmate Peter Hook’s own memoir, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division — where Hook wrote about his disdain for Sumner — the New Order frontman candidly describes his version of band life after their original lead vocalist Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980. Peter Hook made headlines when he reviewed Chapter and Verse for Billboard and tore it a new one for its accuracy. The two ex-bandmates appear to be locked in an anger spiral that’s going nowhere. Maybe read each man’s memoir and decide for yourself. Parenthetically, The Cure’s former drummer and keyboardist, Lol Tolhurst, has publicly quibbled with Hook’s version of events presented in Unknown Pleasures. (Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99)
The Emperor of Sound: A Memoir by Timbaland and Veronica Chambers
Who brought the “Sexyback”? J-T might have sung it, but it was producer-extraordinaire Timbaland who made studio magic happen for the Justin Timberlake hit. Born Timothy Mosley, Timbaland made his rep back in the mid 1990s with groundbreaking genre-blended hit songs. Timbaland’s memoir describes his star-studded musical journey having worked with a ridiculous amount of singers at the top of their game: Just a few of the long list are Jodeci, Jay-Z, Madonna, Rihanna, Nas, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Bjork, Lil’ Kim, Pitbull, Drake, Rick Ross and David Guetta. The list goes on and on. Low-key and with a reputation for protecting his privacy, Timbaland is an unexpected entrant into the memoir-writing trend. He has stomped his way into pop music history, and The Emperor of Sound explains the making of Mosley and the creative secret sauce he’s been using all these years to cook up hit after hit. (Amistad, $26.99)
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On Wednesday night the Philadelphia Fillmore filled up with the garage blues of The Black Keys vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach’s new band, The Arcs.
With his signature guitar-picking and thick soul-rock voice mixed with female backing vocals, two drummers and an array of other guitar sounds, The Arcs’ 2015 release Yours, Dreamily sounded fantastic in the flesh.
The all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache opened with a sweeping mini-set of mariachi glory. A cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” was a gorgeous highlight.
The talents of the band further enhanced The Arcs during their main set with their backing vocals and other multi-instrumentation know-how. Scroll on for more photos from the night.
On Wednesday night the Philadelphia Fillmore filled up with the garage blues of Dan Auerbach’s new band, The Arcs. With his signature guitar-picking and thick soul-rock voice mixed with female backing vocals, two drummers and an array of other guitar sounds, The Arcs’ 2015 release Yours, Dreamily sounded fantastic in the flesh. Covers including Gary “U.S.” Bonds’ “I Wanna Holler” were a perfect fit next to the standout “Outta My Mind.”
Most folks have a love-hate relationship with Christmas songs.
Perhaps it’s the feeling of being forced to embrace the season regardless of what life has thrown your way the past 11 months. Or maybe it’s simply that many Christmas songs are so sickeningly sweet that you might as well carry a NovoLog insulin pen just in case.
But for the 200 or so Christmas songs we all know, there are thousands more that have rarely been heard — from renditions of classic songs to original tunes that embrace the season, warts and all.
For the past 22 years I have had the honor of hosting The Night Before on XPN, a live radio extravaganza. Every December 24th, I take-over WXPN (88.5FM) in Philadelphia for 24 hours nonstop to play anything I want from my insane collection of holiday music that has grown over the past 30 years.
First off, I apologize. This video is more than a little irritating. It shows Noel “Detail” Fisher, a music producer who’s created big hits for folks like Beyoncé (“Drunk in Love”) and Lil Wayne (“How to Love”), coming out of a club and being accosted by TMZ reporters. He’s — allegedly! — intoxicated and does some embarrassing song and dance stuff for the cameras, but there’s once instance in the clip that may be of interest to some of us in Philly.
This week, Philly’s music scene has a great blend of local and out-of-town talents. See Philly folkers Dirty Dollhouse, or transplant bands like Three Man Cannon. Relive the classic sound of Led Zeppelin with Jason Bonham and his band, get a taste of Dan Auerbach’s new group, The Arcs, or check out inspirational R&B singer India.Arie on her Christmas tour. Scroll down for all our picks, or click through to the day of the week you’re most interested in.
With the recent announcement of her European tour, Adele left many of us wondering if she’d be coming to the other side of the pond on her tour to promote her new, record-breaking album 25. Well, she is.
On her website, the British songbird announced a lineup of U.S. and Canada shows that begin July 5th in Saint Paul. Philadelphia is her first East Coast stop, where she’ll play two shows at Wells Fargo Center on September 9th and 10th. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, December 17th at 10 am. They can be purchased through ComcastTIX.com, by phone, at 1-800-298-4200, or at the Wells Fargo Center box office. You can also buy on Ticketmaster here.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams enjoyed the 60-plus-degree weather in Bucks County this weekend, where he captured some serene images from Doylestown and shared them on Instagram. All the photos are rather vague, not giving much hint as to why he was there, but given their lonesome, introspective theme, one could only assume he was just trying to escape the hustle bustle — and the annoyance of having his divorce with pop star Mandy Moore blasted over the gossip mags again this week. Several outlets are reporting about how she’s pushing for financial support to take care of their menagerie of pets.
His comment on the first photo — which appears to have been taken around sunset on Friday — was a simple “To the new days,” hinting that maybe the yearlong D-I-V-O-R-C-E proceedings may actually be coming to a close soon.
A photo posted by Ryan Adams (@misterryanadams) on
Fans instantly started chiming in, telling him to visit such-and-such guitar shop or tagging other friends to let them know that “Ryan Adams is flitting around Doylestown.” One person from Philly commented “You may as well just head down into Philadelphia … It’s got a vibe I’m sure you’ll dig on.” Read more »