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One of the best power pop albums of the year has just been released by a rock and roll MVP you’ve heard many times, although you might not have known it.

“Kasim 2021” is the fourth solo album from Kasim Sulton, longtime Todd Rundgren collaborator, bassist and singer for Utopia, and on projects for Hall & Oates, Scandal, Joan Jett, Blue Oyster Cult, and over 50 more. Sulton’s musicianship and vocals were an integral part of Meat Loaf’s 50 million-selling “Bat Out of Hell” and its chart-topping sequel.

“Kasim 2021” could be one of the most uplifting records you hear this year, with its buoyant melodies, positive message and musical hooks that lend it an instant likability. The strong song craftsmanship comes from Sulton and collaborator Phil Thornalley (The Cure, Natalie Imbruglia, Bryan Adams), whom the artist credits with giving him the kick he needed to start a solo record.

The heart of Texas guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan has never strayed far from the blues that first grabbed him as a teenager in the 1960s. He jumped in headfirst without a backup plan starting in Dallas before moving onto Austin where he cofounded The Fabulous Thunderbirds and helped initiate a national blues revival that endured through the 1980s. With his solo career, now in its fourth decade, Vaughan took charge on a series of acclaimed albums where his signature attack, tone, and less is more approach to soloing is as instantly identifiable as his lead vocals.

U.K. label The Last Music Company has distilled the best of Jimmie Vaughan’s recorded legacy into “The Jimmie Vaughan Story,” a 5-CD anthology filled with highlights from every era of his career, including collaborations with his late brother, Stevie Ray, and a who’s who in rock and blues. Included are a number of unreleased recordings from Vaughan’s personal archive, as well as a 240-page fully illustrated hardcover book containing his self-penned story.

When two-time Grammy-nominated musician Tim Reynolds received a call from a Maine record label about possibly issuing a benefit single, he didn’t hesitate to offer up a tune to aid folks in his adopted hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. According to Will Bradford, co-founder of Portland-based CommunityZ RecordZ, proceeds from Reynolds’ song will help underprivileged people in the town where the Dave Matthews Band was formed.

The label has released Reynolds’ song “Guardian Angels,” a percolating acoustic instrumental featuring drums and percussion by Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Maceo Parker), available exclusively for the time being at www.CommunityZRecordZ.com

The multi-instrumentalist and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band saw this opportunity as a chance to make a difference for non-profit group PHAR (Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents). The association advocates for and with public housing residents, according to their website.

Throughout the Covid pandemic, small venues specializing in live music have been hit especially hard. Many of these venues are where up and coming artists first find an audience, but tragically too many of them around the country are holding on by a shoestring if they haven’t already been shuttered. The nonprofit philanthropic organization Live Music Society has announced a third round of grants to be awarded this fall to small music venues (maximum capacity of 300) across the U.S. to help them hold on and hopefully regain their footing.

Since it came into existence in 2020, Live Music Society (LMS) has been committed to preventing the demise of the small music venue sector by issuing a series of grants. $1.2 Million has been distributed to date to 36 grantees according to LMS Executive Director, Cat Henry, who says the impact of losing small music venues would have a knock-on effect to the industry as a whole.

Rocker Steven Van Zandt has led a rich and multi-faceted career over the last five decades. The longtime guitarist and singer for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band tells The Maine Edge his life has been so broad and varied in scope that when he sat down to write his new memoir “Unrequited Infatuations” (Hachette Books), he was surprised to discover more than a few things about himself.

How do you deliver a story about a kid obsessed with rock and roll, first as a fan and observer, and then as an active participant in some of its greatest moments? It had to include his life as an anti-apartheid activist, starting in the mid-1980s, and his surprise turn as an actor, beginning with his role as the tough, funny and cool-headed Silvio Dante on 78 episodes of “The Sopranos.”

Van Zandt struck upon the obvious solution when he told his publisher that he would write the book in his voice. If you’ve heard his colorful rock-noir delivery on the radio, you know the voice. The story he tells in that voice is spellbinding, and throughout the book’s voluminous twists and turns, Van Zandt lays it out in often revelatory detail.

It’s almost impossible to predict the next move by progressive rock legend Rick Wakeman. The keyboardist, songwriter, radio and TV host, producer, author and actor has become almost as well known in his native U.K. for his comedic exploits, and that trademark wit was at full throttle during an interview with The Maine Edge. 

Wakeman’s virtuosic keyboard skills graced classic albums by the band YES, along with iconic songs by David Bowie, Elton John, Cat Stevens, T. Rex, and Al Stewart, among others. His solo output is astonishing in breadth and volume, comprising dozens of entries. Wakeman’s gold-selling concept albums include “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”

His sold-out 2019 “The Grumpy Old Rock Star Tour,” a mix of solo piano performance and humorous stories, provided a spellbinding evening for anyone lucky enough to score a ticket. Wakeman says he’s keen to return to America next month to take that concept to the next level with the “Even Grumpier Old Rock Star Tour,” telling The Maine Edge, “I’m calling it that because it was postponed four times. By the time you see me next month, it will be called “The Unbelievably Grumpier Old Rock Star Tour.”

That tour is scheduled to begin October 13 in Natick, MA, followed by dates in Derry, NH, Northampton, MA, New London, CT, and Fall River, MA. You can find the complete schedule at www.RWCC.com.

When the band Tesla took the stage in Roanoke, Virginia, last week, it was a moment that guitarist and founding member Frank Hannon says he won’t forget. August was supposed to be go-time for Tesla’s “Let’s Get Real!” tour when Covid struck each member of the band, setting the trek back more than a month. Now healthy, and with an attitude of gratitude, Hannon says Tesla is recharged and ready to rock.

Hannon, along with bassist and band co-founder Brian Wheat, lead singer Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Luccketta and guitarist Dave Rude, plan to do just that on September 23 when the “Let’s Get Real” tour arrives at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, with southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Four decades after the earliest incarnation of Tesla first got together in Sacramento, California, Hannon says he’s most proud that Tesla’s songs that have withstood the test of time. “To see people respond to our songs 35 years later, because the music makes them feel good, that is a feat,” Hannon said, adding “Songwriting is the most important part of what we do.”

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 12:13

Becoming lost and found on tour with Phish

Written by Mike Dow

“If life were easy and not so fast, I wouldn’t think about the past.”

That lyric, from the song “Roggae” by Phish, succinctly sums up a summer vacation road trip that will stay with me for the rest of my life, but not for the reasons you might expect.

My mission was to spend a week on the road with Phish and their fans as a representative of JEMP Radio, an enormously popular web-based radio station dedicated to the jam-band scene with a heavy emphasis on all things Phish. Since the station signed on more than six years ago, I’ve been hosting “The Other Mike’s Corner” each Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.

My traveling companion was Race Allen, JEMP Radio’s founder. This adventure provided an opportunity for much of the station staff, a group scattered around the country, to actually meet in person. It also gave us a chance to personally interact with listeners at two shows in Hershey, Pennsylvania, followed by a three-show run on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The waning days of summer have offered a bounty of new releases from a number of well-known artists, some of whom have just issued their first new music in years. This week, I covered three of them – and also invited a guest reviewer to share his thoughts about one of this week’s new titles.

When the Liverpool-based new-wave band A Flock of Seagulls appeared on the scene in the early 1980s with hits “I Ran (So Far Away),” “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” and “Space Age Love Song,” they sounded like no one else.

Founding member and front man Mike Score’s space-aged haircut from the time may be gone, but the original lineup of the band is intact on the new LP “String Theory” (August Day Records) recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Like 2018’s “Ascension,” which hit the top 10 on Billboard’s Classical chart, “String Theory” features brothers Mike and Ali Score, Frank Maudsley and Paul Reynolds, revisiting songs from A Flock of Seagulls’ back catalog enhanced with restrained orchestral arrangements.

During an interview with The Maine Edge, Mike Score explained his intent behind his band’s two recent collaborations with the Prague Philharmonic and also drops news about a probable album of new Seagulls songs for next year. He explains why he reluctantly agreed to take part in a VH-1 episode of “Reunite the Band” and he gives a preview of A Flock of Seagulls’ upcoming fall tour that will bring Score and a different band lineup to Norwalk, CT, on October 10 and Boston on October 11.

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