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The hits just keep on coming. Here’s a look at some just-released and soon-to-come music offerings, with plenty of tunes from old friends and new faces alike.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced 16 nominees for consideration to be inducted into the hall later this year for its 36th class. This year’s nominees include Todd Rundgren, The New York Dolls, Foo Fighters, The Go-Gos, LL Cool J, Chaka Kahn, Fela Kuti, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Carole King, Rage Against The Machine, Devo, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, and Dionne Warwick. From that group, it’s expected that at least 6 will see induction during ceremonies tentatively set for this fall. The final list of inductees will be released in May, according to the Rock Hall.

Artists become eligible for induction to the rock hall 25 years after the release of their first record.

There is a bit of mystery regarding the process of how the list of nominees gets whittled down to the final inductees. As Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris told The Maine Edge a year ago “The industry vote is what ultimately determines election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” He explained that the industry vote is made up of more than 1,000 voters, many of whom are already inductees.

Until April 30, fans are encouraged to cast a vote for up to five nominees daily at www.vote.rockhall.com. As of this writing, world music pioneer and multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti is the top fan-vote getter with nearly 125,000 votes. Tina Turner is in second place with more than 88,000.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 12:55

Forthcoming archival classic rock releases

Written by Mike Dow

Never-before-heard music from pivotal moments in the respective careers of Bob Dylan, The Band, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and The Who, will be the drawing card for a number of forthcoming archival classic rock box sets. Designed for the super-fan looking for a deeper dive, these sets can be pricey, but they’re usually manufactured in limited quantities, which could turn some into sought-after collectibles on the secondary market when they’re gone.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 13:32

New LPs on the way from Foo Fighters, Weezer, Hagar

Written by Mike Dow

It’s been a great week of listening here at The Maine Edge. I’m sure there are other things happening in the world that deserve my attention, but with so much fine new music materializing at the moment, it will have to wait. Here’s a sampling of titles just released or due next week.

PORTLAND – Much has occurred in the lives of Portland-based alt-punk-grunge rockers theWorst since they formed and embarked on their first nationwide tour five years ago. The band’s celebrated 2017 debut “Jane Doe Embryo” was an aggressive and authentic “How do you do?” but according to lead singer and guitarist Brooke Binion, the best is yet to come.

As this story goes to print, Binion, bassist Will Bradford (SeepeopleS) and drummer Craig Sala (Paranoid Social Club) are wrapping sessions for their sophomore LP “Yes Regrets” at Chillhouse Studios in Boston with producer Will Holland. No second album syndrome for this band, Binion says, adding she isn’t worried about heightened expectations. “I think I’ll be more worried about topping this one to be honest,” she said. “It’s different, but it’s a lot more mature and I’m really proud of it.”

Iconic progressive rock guitarist Steve Hackett says he’s had a most productive lockdown.

The former guitarist for Genesis (1970-1977) has just released his 25th solo album, his first acoustic offering since 2008. Hackett says the 11 pieces of music recorded for “Under a Mediterranean Sky” take inspiration from his extensive travels in and around the Mediterranean with his wife, Jo, whom he credits with the idea.

During an interview with The Maine Edge, Hackett says his goal was to not only pay tribute to the extraordinary beauty of the Mediterranean but to offer a transportive experience for listeners who’d like to break away from their current inertia and take the journey with him.

When Hackett’s live performances last year vaporized in the wake of COVID, he rescheduled his Genesis Revisited tour “Seconds Out and More” for this fall in the U.K. with forthcoming dates to be announced soon for the U.S.  

Last summer, Hackett released his memoir, “A Genesis in My Bed,” an engrossing and revealing read that shed light on his life in and out of music, his years spent creating classic prog-rock albums with his former band and the myriad musical journeys undertaken during his solo career, all delivered with a hefty dose of levity.

Each piece on “Under a Mediterranean Sky” is devoted to a different part of the Mediterranean landscape while highlighting the regions’ cultures and indigenous instruments. It’s a beautifully written and recorded album centered by Hackett’s classical guitar playing and longtime collaborator Roger King’s orchestral arrangements.

It’s been suggested that you have to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues. For guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader, Andy Watts, the blues is a way of life (“certainly here in the Middle East,” he jokes), and his dues were paid up a long time ago. Watts has been proclaimed (by Blues and Muse magazine) Israel’s “Ambassador of the Blues,” which is probably accurate when you consider Watts’s longevity as an Israeli blues performer and the fact that he has repeatedly brought many of America’s greatest blues artists to his country.

Watts’s fifth album “Supergroove” is a fully charged dose of the blues, tinged with rock, soul, funk, and R&B, that he says is a reflection of his live show. Produced by six-time Grammy nominee Kenny Neal and released on Neal’s label, the album features ten tracks of Watts with his 9-piece band blazing through five originals and interpretations of five blues classics from Freddie King, Joe Louis Walker, Rick Estrin, and Watts’s greatest influence, Peter Green, the late founder of Fleetwood Mac.

Guests on “Supergroove” include Blues Hall of Fame inductee Joe Louis Walker, singer Eliza Neals, Roy Young, and Israeli vocalists Danny Shoshan and Gadi Altman.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020 10:51

A few of my favorite 2020 musical things

Written by Mike Dow

It’s only speculation on my part, but I’m guessing you sought an escape route this year. Many of us, myself included, found it in music.

I’ve never subscribed to the belief that all of the good stuff has already been recorded. I believe a case could be made that there is more good music being written and recorded now than at any other time.

Despite the lack of live shows (and I miss that experience dearly), a wealth of truly great music was made this year. Here are some of the artists and titles that saw me through. As I look over my preliminary list of 2020 musical faves, it occurs to me that they are all independent artists.

You know a film moved you when you can’t stop thinking about it. If you’re even mildly interested in the life and music of Frank Zappa, you need to see Alex Winter’s “Zappa,” the first all-access documentary on Frank utilizing his vast archive of film and recordings.

Through “Zappa,” we meet the real Frank through vintage film and interview footage, most of it unseen until now. We meet the musicians he trusted to deliver his music, both rock and classical, and we discover how he interacted with them. We meet his wife Gail and see Frank being a husband, a father, a rock star, a classical composer and conductor, a free speech advocate and a tireless battler of injustice in its many forms. Frank was a complicated guy.

We see how Frank dealt with the cancer that ultimately claimed his life in 1993. In one of the movie’s most impactful scenes, we see part of his final concert performance in Prague, as well as footage from Frankfurt in 1992 when he conducted Ensemble Modern performing music from “The Yellow Shark,” the last album (of 62) released during his lifetime.

It’s a film befitting of the Zappa name because it’s an honest portrayal of his life and work, even when it doesn’t portray him in the best light. Zappa was all about the truth, and as his son Ahmet reveals during the following interview, staying true to his father’s modus operandi was the vision of everyone involved in this movie through the six years it took to get it made.

“Zappa” is a powerful film and one of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year.

My interview with Ahmet Zappa began with a little revelation about his longtime fascination with the state of Maine. I encouraged him to leave L.A. behind and join us here full time.

Wednesday, 09 December 2020 12:39

Paul Carrack on the one positive aspect of lockdown

Written by Mike Dow

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Carrack is one of popular music’s most valuable players, and a man with hits as a band member, a frontman, and as a solo artist. Carrack wrote and sang “How Long” with his mid-70s band Ace. As a member of Squeeze, he sang their biggest American hit, “Tempted.” When Mike Rutherford of Genesis put together his side project Mike + the Mechanics, Carrack sang lead on hits “Silent Running” and “The Living Years.” He’s been a member of Roxy Music, and a session man for The Smiths, John Hiatt, The Pretenders and others. Carrack has been a recording and touring musician for artists as diverse as Ringo Starr, Roger Waters, B.B. King, and Eric Clapton, with whom he’s toured and recorded since 2013.

Carrack has released 17 solo albums, including his most recent, “These Days” released in 2018. With his six-piece band, he keeps up a fairly busy touring schedule but like everyone else, it all came to a stop in March of this year. Carrack says he sought ways to keep connecting with an audience, and while recording a quick video to post online may have been fun, it couldn’t compare with being on a stage with his band.

In September, Carrack and his band, accompanied by a 12-camera crew, took to the stage of ornate Victoria Hall in Leeds, England, to perform their first full concert together in 6 months. It may have felt a bit strange to perform to an otherwise empty room but the concert, he says, was a truly special experience. The resulting two-hour concert is a beautifully filmed affair with a pristine audio mix full of hits from throughout Carrack’s career. It first streamed to fans in October and again last weekend during a partnership with live steaming platform Mandolin.

Carrack phoned from his home near London to discuss that concert experience in an interview that aired on BIG 104 FM. Highlights from that interview follow.

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