Todd Rundgren Challenged by the "Exhibitionism That Comes With Performance"

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Village Voice

When Todd Rundgren dubbed an early album A Wizard, a True Star it might have seemed somewhat presumptuous at the time, given that his recording career was practically in its infancy. Four decades later, that title has come to sum up one of the most remarkably prolific careers in rock's vast lexicon. In fact, there's little Rundgren hasn't done, whether as a performer, producer, engineer, or video pioneer.

Indeed, since making his bow with his first band, Woody's Truck Stop, in his native Philadelphia and then creeping into the national spotlight with the Nazz, Rundgren has freely delved into a dizzying array of musical pursuits -- from pop to prog, rock to retro, and almost everything in between. He scored hits on his own and produced them for others: Badfinger, Meat Loaf, and Patti Smith, to name only a few. He also helmed the experimental outfit Utopia while occasionally taking the opposite tack as part of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band.

"The more music you write, the more likely you are to repeat yourself, and that's the actuality for most artists," Rundgren insists. "But I didn't approach music as a performer, which is what lots of other people do. They figure out afterwards what kind of music they want to make."

See also: Todd Rundgren's Summer Camp in the Catskills

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Marc Cohn: "I've Had a Very Specific and Odd Path"

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Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Don't refer to Marc Cohn as a one-hit wonder. Although his song "Walking in Memphis" may have immortalized him for radio listeners everywhere and won him a Grammy in the process, it also established him as an artist of a certain standing, the kind that can be counted on to create great albums that play together as a whole. Indeed, with a career that spans well over 20 years, Cohn's achievements go well beyond the bounds of a single hit and fleeting fame and fortune.

Still, it's been several years since Cohn's last album, and his is not a life that's necessarily been easy. He was orphaned at an early age but overcame his hardship by teaching himself to play piano and guitar. All seemed to be going well until he was shot and nearly killed in a carjacking attempt after a concert in Denver, Colorado, in 2005, a traumatic incident that forced him to reassess his place in the world, both as an artist and individual. These days, however, he's back doing what he does best: entertaining audiences with intimate songs and stories and plying his craft with the subtlety and sensitivity that's become his stock and trade. We recently caught up with him prior to the launch of his latest tour.

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Bleubird to Bring "Head-Banging, Booty-Clapping" to Radio-Active Records

Categories: Concert Preview

Ian Witlen

Hustling like raindrops is what Fort Lauderdale rapper Jacques Bruna -- better-known by his stage name, Bleubird -- does 24/7, 365 days a year.

The comically inclined hip-hop troubadour has been a star on the local scene for more than a minute -- more than ten years, to be exact. His feverish love of the road has taken him to shows the world over, including to Montreal, Berlin, and Tokyo. He's toured with national acts like Boyfriends Incorporate and Astronautalis too. But for some reason, the rising rap star has never spit out his rhymes at local music mecca Radio-Active Records. "I can't believe I've never performed at Radio-Active, but Mikey [Ramirez, who runs the store] is so dang good-looking that the opportunity to gaze upon him whilst spewing out my rap thunder is enticing. I might just start sleeping there from now until the show," joked Bleubird about his gig at the record store next Saturday.

See also: Death Jam Posse Brought Out Fort Lauderdale's Ratchet Side at Laser Wolf Record Premiere and
Death Jam Posse and Laser Wolf Records Release "Death Wolf" on Vinyl

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Judy Collins Says Protesting "Often Leads to Dancing"

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Prenatt1166 via Wikimedia Commons

At age 72, and with a 50-year recording career behind her, Judy Collins certainly deserves to rest on her accomplishments. Consider her credentials: She was among the prime architects of the '60s folk scene, a skilled song interpreter who helped bring artists like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Ian Tyson initial public awareness, an accomplished composer in her own right, record label president, a strong social advocate, a best-selling author, and a tireless performer who gives100 concerts each year. And did we mention that she loaned her name to one of the most popular songs of all time, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which then-lover Stephen Stills composed specifically for her?

Yet, here she is, speaking to us by phone while touring through Canada's Northern provinces, chatting eagerly about her recent album (aptly-dubbed Bohemian), and a new memoir (her third to date) entitled -- what else? -- Sweet Judy Blue Eyes.

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Hackensaw Boys: "We Are a Band That Jams"

Categories: Concert Preview

If the Hackensaw Boys had been around in any earlier era -- say, the '20s or '30s -- they might have been big stars. Known for their rousing blend of fiddles, banjos, and high harmonies, they create a rousing party-pleasing sound that quickly turns any gathering into a scene filled with festive mayhem. It's a mix that ensures their status as populist heroes, not to mention steady draws on the festival circuit, where they've garnered a well-earned reputation as provocateurs of a kind of punk bluegrass mash-up that always inspires their crowds to whoop it up, regardless of whether they're hippies or at a hoedown.

The band, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, takes a tack similar to that of Old Crow Medicine Show, the Punch Brothers, the Howlin' Brothers, and other modern outfits that draw from the past to make an impression in the present. Their sound, once heard on back porches throughout the heartland, was brought to life on their six releases. We spoke with the band's guitarist David Sickmen to help illuminate the band's MO.

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Chris Hillman: "I Figured Out When to Leave the Fantasy Behind and Cross the Line Into Reality"

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Photo by A&M Records via Wikipedia Commons
Chris Hillman with the Flying Burrito Brothers.
His name is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the other giants of popular music over the past 50 years: Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, much less his former colleagues Crosby and McGuinn. But if one were to sample the bands that Chris Hillman has been apart of -- the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, Stephen Stills' Manassas, and the group he's been associated with on and off over the past 25 years of so, the Desert Rose Band -- it would become increasingly obvious that he belongs in that same strata of superstardom.

Despite a humble start as a teenager playing mandolin in a short succession of bluegrass bands in Southern California, Hillman's stock rose rapidly when he joined the Byrds, moving to bass and a role that was initially essentially support for the front line trio of Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and singer Gene Clark before becoming a prime mover in the band's musical development. An increasingly prolific songwriter -- he helped compose the classic "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" -- he and later recruit Gram Parsons eventually spun off into the Flying Burrito Brothers, continuing the country crossover the Byrds had begun with Sweetheart of the Rodeo, an album considered pivotal in the origins of Americana.

As Hillman approaches his 70th birthday this coming December, he remains as passionate about making music as he ever has. He's also deeply committed to his ideals, especially those having to do with his Christian faith and his politics, both of which tend to distance him from those with whom he came of age in the rebellious '60s and '70s.

When we caught up with him for our interview, he was gracious, friendly, forthright, and all too willing to share his memories and reflections about a life well-lived.

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Tea Leaf Green: After 17, "You Should Now Be Doing the Influencing"

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Jay Blakesberg

Tea Leaf Green has gone from four to five band members since its beginnings in the late '90s. But as far as changes to the act go, really the other big shift to note is an unfortunate water-balloon-hurling incident that led them to no longer utilize a man in a gorilla suit to hype the crowd.

Keyboardist and singer Trevor Garrad attributes this longevity to the band members' "pacifism and passive-aggressivism. We're all real mellow cats that get along," he says.

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Lavola Celebrate This Book Is My Cowardice Release

RO Project

When it comes to his music, musician Julian Cires has some serious gravitas. Some would call it gusto or, even more bluntly, "big balls." Why, you may ask? Not many artists could trudge along with their vision of a band after enduring three complete lineup changes. And fewer still could continue with their aim to release an album after switching producer after producer -- one of whom lost part of said album on his hard drive.

Most would catch a case of the "fuck-its" and hang up their hats. But that's just not in 27-year-old whiz Cires' nature. Like gymnast Kerri Strug, who hit the perfect vault after obtaining a serious knee injury at the 1996 Olympics, the talented guitarist and visionary vocalist persevered with his brainchild even through admitted frustrations and obstacles.

See also: Lavola Returns with a Forceful New Album

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BeauSoleil's Michael Doucet on Setting the Bar: "We Created the Bar, Son!"

BeauSoleil: Proud of their past

World Music can begin right here at home. BeauSoleil, sons of Louisiana's Bayou country and the number one Cajun music band in the world (according to Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion anyway), has proven that precept time and time again over the course of their near three decade career. Named in honor of of Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, who led the Acadian resistance to British deportation efforts beginning in the mid 1700s, the band remains as determined as ever to keep their native traditions alive.

The historical reference has served as something of a springboard for the band throughout its career as they achieved milestones of their own in becoming one of the most recognized and admired Cajun bands. Aside from numerous appearances on soundtracks and television shows, they've performed with any number of musical admirers, ranging from Mary Chapin Carpenter to the Grateful Dead. They're the beneficiaries of numerous honors and accolades as well, including Grammys, the Big Easy Entertainment Award for Best Cajun Band (ten time winners), and the National Heritage Fellowship award presented by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Still, any attempt to classify them as strictly Cajun inevitably comes up short. Throughout their career, they successfully pushed its boundaries, incorporating rock, pop, jazz, calypso, French romanticism, and blues into their multi-hued palette. Their latest effort, From Bamako to Carencro is no exception, and easily one of their most accessible efforts to date. The Rhythm Foundation is bringing them to town this weekend to perform as part of their Hollywood ArtsPark Experience in Hollywood.

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Charlie Pickett's Twin Tone Records Reunion in Minneapolis with the Sonics

Ian Witlen
"Chaz" Pickett rocking, FL style.

Our friends in Minneapolis have come unstuck in time and put forth a veritable punk rock powerhouse gig this weekend. It both respects their own roots and nods to the Pacific Northwest as the cradle of raunch 'n' roll. Also, it makes us question why we, as proud South Floridians, have not done the same, and reminds us of our former music editor, Reed Fischer who is now at the helm of Gimme Noise at our Minneapolis sister paper City Pages.

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