Music (438)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has announced its 2022 class, representing what the organization’s president and CEO says is one of the most diverse groups of inductees they’ve ever seen.

The Hall’s Class of 2022 is represented by 11 artists and producers and three non-performing industry professionals who will each be ushered into the hall during ceremonies scheduled for this fall in Los Angeles.

I have a vivid memory of the first time I heard a song by rockabilly missionaries The Stray Cats. It was early on during my first semester at college, an impressionable time when new students often have strangely conflicted feelings of freedom and uncertainty. Music was an anchor then as it is today and my dorm neighbor, Elliot, who lived directly across the hall, was my conduit to the newest sounds coming down the pike.

With a few notable exceptions, it seemed that most of the new songs that made it to commercial radio in 1982 were either slickly produced dance tracks or cloying treacly ballads. The bulk of my modest record collection didn’t fit those confines which made me appreciate it all the more.

One morning before my first class of the day, Elliot was holding court with an open door and a stack of 45s. “Come check this out,” he said, “It’s gonna be big.”

Elliot dropped the stylus on “Rock This Town” by The Stray Cats, and I was smitten by its swinging energy and authority. Compared to its contemporary charting brethren, “Rock This Town” offered 204 seconds of unrelenting authenticity and I had to know more.

Seeing The Stray Cats on MTV sealed the deal. They were elegant gangsters with pompadours, a nod to their original ‘50s and ‘60s heroes, but it wasn’t merely a gimmick or a throwback. These guys seemed to be serious period-correct students of the rockabilly era on a mission to bring the art form forward at a time when many artists and bands, even some classic rockers, looked and sounded like they’d dropped out of a dystopian novel.

I recently had the good fortune to connect with Stray Cats drummer “Slim Jim” Phantom to talk about his band’s fledgling pre-fame days for my radio show on BIG 104 FM.

“Slim Jim” Phantom is one of rock’s great storytellers, and man, does he have stories. The first two seasons of his “Rockabilly Confidential” Spotify podcast feature vividly recalled true tales drawn from four decades of adventures with The Stray Cats, from the earliest shows up to the band’s recent triumphant 40th anniversary tour.

Phantom’s “Rockabilly Rave-up,” where he tells the stories behind the songs, airs each Sunday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on SiriusXM Ch. 21, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

The Stray Cats formed in 1979 and paid their dues playing long nights in corner bars for about a year before pulling a Jimi Hendrix move and heading to England with the hope of getting noticed. There, “Slim Jim” Phantom, along with guitarist Brian Setzer and stand-up bassist Lee Rocker, caught the attention of some London heavyweights who took it upon themselves to spread the word about these homeless American rockabilly cats that put on the wildest show imaginable. I’ll let Jim tell you about it.

There’s a scene from the new documentary film ‘Sheryl,’ from filmmaker Amy Harris, about the life and music of nine-time Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow where the artist expresses a profound truth that applies to each of us.

“It’s always hard to look back and talk about who you were because it’s only who you think you were,” she says.

As we become further removed from moments in time, those memories become distorted as changes and challenges keep hurling us into a new reality. That notion is one of the reasons why Crow says she reconsidered her initial reaction of a proposed documentary.

“I (first) said ‘Absolutely not,’” Crow says of her response to her manager when approached with the idea of a film early on during the pandemic quarantine. “I was so not interested and it took a while for me to come around to it,” she says.

In reflection, Crow says she thought of the many documentaries that had left an indelible mark on her.

This is one of those weeks when I wish for twice the available space to tell you about the literal profusion of great new LPs that have recently materialized.

This edition of Sound Bites focuses on the latest from four artists you may know including three veteran music-makers offering their first new sounds in years.

It’s only a matter of time before the Maine-based music-making siblings known as the Oshima Brothers find the outside world knocking on their door. The duo’s astonishing new album “Dark Nights Golden Days” provides further testament that the self-contained two-headed creativity factory of Sean and Jamie Oshima is bound for glory.

“Dark Nights Golden Days” is the second full-length release from the Oshimas, who wrote, recorded, produced and arranged the music, and played nearly every instrument.

The brothers take an equitable approach to creating their songs, as well as the visuals that accompany them. Saying that most of their songs originate from a place of inspiration, Sean starts writing while Jamie begins building the music.

“As things go along, we start intertwining those things,” Sean Oshima says. “By the end, we’ve invested an equal share.”

Highlights from a pair of super-secret Toronto club shows performed by The Rolling Stones in March 1977 are set for release next month and a renowned orthopedic surgeon with deep ties to Maine says he’ll be listening intently for the sound of his amplifier.

The Rolling Stones latest vault release, “El Macombo ’77,” will be issued as a 2-CD/4 LP set on May 13, containing 23 tracks recorded in front of a stunned audience that had arrived at the venue under the assumption they would be attending a show by the Canadian band April Wine.

When the Stones performed at Toronto’s 300-capacity El Macombo nightclub on March 4 and 5, 1977, it was with the intent of recording auxiliary material to be added to the band’s double “Love You Live” album released that September. The album included material captured during the band’s tours in 1975 and 1976, but legend has it the Stones weren’t entirely thrilled with those recordings.

To augment material recorded in arenas in Los Angeles and Toronto in 1975 and in London in 1976, the Stones chose the El Macombo club as a nod to their early days as a rough and rowdy rhythm and blues club band. They performed two consecutive shows of rarely played material at the intimate club.

Perception is a funny thing. It seemed to me that the current music marketplace was feeling a little crowded with new offerings. After perusing the release schedule for this week and comparing it to the one from exactly a year ago, I was surprised to see they were about the same in terms of numbers according to new music site Pause and Play.

One notable difference in the schedule this week compared to one year ago is the number of big touring acts issuing new music. Live shows were virtually non-existent last year at this time when a number of artists and labels decided to hold off on issuing titles until concerts had returned.

All signs point to a very busy 2022 live music schedule and many artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Jack White, Ann Wilson, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Harry Styles and Def Leppard plan to drop their latest soon before hitting the road in support. Just out: Four new titles from names you know singing about love, loss, life, and the blues, which encompasses all three.

Gusterrhoids rejoice! Following a two-year break due to the pandemic, beloved indie-rock band Guster has announced the fourth annual edition of their summer festival “On the Ocean.”

The destination weekend is scheduled to unfold with a series of unique Maine-centric fan-oriented events between August 12 to August 14 in Portland and Fayette. Weekend plans include three days of music at three venues, comedy, food and drink, and even a summer day-camp hosted by the band with the musicians serving as camp counselors.

With 80 Top-40 songwriting hits to his credit, Desmond Child has become one of the most successful songwriters in pop music history. Child has co-written career defining hits for Bon Jovi (“Living on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine”) Aerosmith (“Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Crazy,” “What it Takes”) Ricky Martin (Livin’ la Vida Loca”), KISS, Cher, Alice Cooper, Michael Bolton, Katy Perry and dozens more.

Child says he has gathered a pack of his legendary songwriting friends to offer a first-of-its-kind Songwriting Fantasy Camp in Nashville, scheduled for April 7 to April 10. Aspiring songwriters will learn tips and techniques and will have a chance to collaborate on songs with Child and other songwriting icons, including Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Felix Cavaliere, Marti Frederiksen, Steve Cropper and Damon Johnson, among others.

Child says his Songwriting Fantasy Camp will present songwriters from multiple genres to share their songwriting secrets with attendees.

Much of the timeless music by The Rascals, the soulful 1960s hit makers behind era-defining hits such as “Groovin’,” “A Beautiful Morning” and “People Got to be Free,” was created out of a fear of being forgotten, according to singer, songwriter and keyboardist Felix Cavaliere. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tells The Maine Edge that his autobiography, “Memoir of a Rascal,” out this week, is his bid toward setting the record straight about his life in The Rascals and beyond.

Cavaliere says he felt compelled to write his book after the dust had settled from a reunion with his old bandmates that left him with mixed feelings. In 40 years, the original lineup of The Rascals had gotten together only for a few special events before famous fan Steven Van Zandt convinced them to sign on for “Once Upon a Dream” in 2012. The theatrical concert event saw Cavaliere reunited with vocalist and percussionist Eddie Brigati, guitarist and vocalist Gene Cornish and drummer Dino Danelli for a show that extended to Broadway followed by a national tour in 2013.

“When we held press conferences, I noticed we all had different answers to the same questions,” Cavaliere said with a laugh. “It threw me for a loop when everybody had a different story, even about how we got our name. I thought it would be a good idea to write something down because I could have sworn I was there.”

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