Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rock & Roll in the NEWS: Where New Rock Meets Old Rock...November 30, 2017 (U2 Experience - New Release)

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U2 & Amazon Music Team Up for Immersive Online Radio 'Experience' Leading Up to New Album Release


"Alexa, play 'The U2 Experience.'"

U2 has partnered with Amazon Music for a new online radio broadcast leading up to the band's new album, Songs of Experience, release on Friday. 
The U2 Experience is the first of its kind for the tech company, airing a mix of historical and new exclusive content produced by Amazon Music, as well as the band's biggest hits and live recordings of songs from The Joshua Tree and Songs of Experience recorded during The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. The programming is designed to create a chronology of the band's career as told through commentary and interviews spanning back more than 40 years. 
Most recently, the audio show will feature an exclusive interview with U2 and Amazon Music's global head of programming, Alex Luke, which took place during a stop in Sao Paolo, Brazil, on tour this Fall. 
The U2 Experience broadcast begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET and ends when the new album is released on Friday, available to all customers with an Amazon Music account in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Austria. An Amazon Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription is not required. The U2 Experience is available online at, on the Amazon Music app and -- for Prime or Music Unlimited subscribers in the U.S. and U.K. -- via Alexa on Amazon Echo devices by asking "Alexa, play The U2 Experience."
"I hope you don't need to know anything about U2, or anything about the context, to enjoy [Songs of Experience]," U2 guitarist, The Edge, said in a statement. "I think it's an album of just classic songs, great melodies great hooks, great lyrics. I think there's very few bands in the history of rock and roll that have been around and made as many albums as we have with the same lineup…that perspective is unique, you know? On the last record [Songs of Innocence] we wrote about where we came from. How this band came together, Dublin of the late 70s early 80s, and this new record is the companion album. But it's from this current perspective now... So many years later, what have we learned?"
"Few bands have as storied a career as U2, and we saw an incredible opportunity to build a broadcast for their fans," added Luke. "This all goes back to voice innovation, and what we've built is an immersive, ephemeral listening experience for our customers, with a wealth of interviews and content going back nearly 40 years."

Rock & Roll in the NEWS: Where New Rock Meets Old Rock...November 30, 2017 (The Rubens - World Tour 2018)

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The Rubens Premiere 'Million Man' Video From Third Album

  The Rubens

"Million Man," the lighthearted first single from the Rubens' forthcoming third album, is reflective of the set's tone, according to keyboardist Elliott Margin. So the Australian quintet wanted its accompanying video -- premiering exclusively below -- to equally represent the song. 
"We just wanted to do something that reflected the energy and fun of the song," Margin tells Billboard about the clip, which the group filmed in Brooklyn during sessions for the album with producer Little Shalimar (aka Torbitt Schwartz) there. "We haven't really written a song like this before, where there is that kind of energy a big chorus and it's a sing-along kind of thing. We wanted a video that matched that fun and energy and sing-along-edness."

It helped, too, that the Rubens were in a playful frame of mind while the cameras were rolling. "The idea is we're in New York having the greatest time recording this record and hanging with these dudes (in the studio), so we felt like why don't we make a video that reflects that and how much fun we're having," says Margin, the youngest of three brothers in the band. "So we decided, 'Alright, we'll just get a couple of beers and plan a couple different shots over the day and night and see where we go from there.' We're really happy with it."
The Rubens have finished recording the follow-up to 2015's Hoops and are currently in the midst of mixing, with plans to release early next year -- though no title or release date has been determined. "Obviously doing your first record you're pretty green and young as an artist, learning the ropes," Margin notes. "By the second one you're a little more confident, and the third one you're more confident than that. So it was good." And the result, he adds, will be something different than what the Rubens have done to this point.
"'Million Man' is a good indicator of what the rest of the record sounds like and where the rest of the songs are headed," Margin says. "A lot of the songs are beat- or rhythm-driven, just because those were the types of songs we were writing at the time. A lot of demos and ideas came before the demo for 'Million Man,' but after we wrote that it was a pretty clear indicator that, 'Alright, this feels right. This is what the record is gonna be like.' That 'Million Man' vibe was what we felt the record should be."
As plans are being forged for the album's release, the Rubens are plotting some world domination, or at least touring, for the new year. The group will hit the road March 6 in Los Angeles, with North American dates followed by a swing through Europe. The itinerary so far includes the below dates. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 at 10am.
March 6—Los Angeles, CA—Bootleg Theater
March 7—San Francisco, CA—CafĂ© du Nord
March 9—Portland, OR—Doug Fir Lounge
March 10—Seattle, WA—Barboza
March 11—Vancouver, BC—Biltmore Cabaret
March 15—Chicago, IL—Schubas
March 17—Toronto, ON—The Underground @ Drake Hotel
March 19—Boston, MA—Great Scott
March 21—Philadelphia, PA—The Foundry @ The Fillmore
March 22—Brooklyn, NY— Baby's All Right
March 23—New York, NY—Mercury Lounge
March 27—Berlin, Germany—FluxBau
March 28—Hamburg, Germany—Molotow Sky Bar
March 29—Rees, Germany— Haldern Pop Bar
March 30—Amsterdam, Netherlands—Paradiso Noord
April 2—Brussels, Belgium—AB Club
April 3—Paris, France—Les Etoiles
April 4—London, UK—Scala
April 6—Manchester, UK—Deaf Institute
April 7—Glasgow, Scotland—King Tuts

Rock & Roll in the NEWS: Where New Rock Meets Old Rock...November 30, 2017 (U2 - Bono - HIV/AIDS)

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Bono Will Break U2's Pledge Against Golf for AIDS Charity

Bono of U2 performs at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 9, 2017 in Manchester, Tenn

When the members of the rock band U2 were just young Irish lads, they made a pledge to each other that has remained steadfast throughout their decades-long run as rock stars. But frontman Bono said the band is now willing to break that promise in order to raise money for his (RED) charity in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"U2 made a pledge early on, as teenagers actually, when we formed the band that the one thing we would never ever do — and it was a sacred pledge — was to play golf,'' Bono said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "We didn't think it was rock 'n' roll."

The chance to play a round of mini-golf with one of the world's most popular rock bands is just one of the once-in-a-lifetime celebrity experiences that are being raffled off at as a part of the (RED) Shopathon campaign for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. For a $10 donation by Jan. 18, you get a chance to work out with Charlize Theron, go to a movie premiere with Reese Witherspoon, or visit Seoul with K-Pop star Taeyeon.

Bono also is teaming up again this year with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel for a (RED) charity special, airing at 11:35 p.m. EST Tuesday on ABC. Kimmel and other celebrities pretend to be home shopping hosts describing specially branded (RED) products, such as clothing, tech products, cosmetics and accessories that also are available online at

This year's special guests will include Bono, Kristen Bell, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Bryan Cranston, Ashton Kutcher, DJ Khaled and Rita Wilson. Former President Barack Obama also will appear via a taped video message.

"We also have a big group song that we will be doing, which has become our annual tradition," Kimmel said. "We will gather everybody together and force people to sing whether they can or not. I am in the not category."

Formed by Bono and Bobby Shriver, (RED) has raised $500 million in the last 11 years to provide testing, prevention, treatment, counseling and care services in eight sub-Saharan African countries. Bono credits the American people and its government for leading the fight against HIV/AIDS, dating back to former President George W. Bush and continued by Obama.

"In a very divided America, this is one issue that left and right can take equal measures of pride in the success of the fight so far against HIV/AIDS," said Bono. But he said that the need for attention was more critical now that that treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS are at a tipping point.

"There are more people now on antiretroviral drugs than are newly infected," Bono said. "Just as this is happening, right at this moment, defeat could be seized from the jaws of victory. People are talking about cutting budgets on Capitol Hill and other capitols around the world."
Kimmel's (RED) Shopathon special has raised $100 million for the charity in the past two years, and he said he really likes the celebrity experiences that he's done for charity, even if they seem rather random.

"Once I made grilled cheese for someone in my office and once I gave someone a piggy back ride," Kimmel said. "I always try to come up with something dumb that seems to be fun and it's fun to meet random people from who knows where." Despite the "no golf" pledge, Bono suspects that one member of U2 might be secretly excited for the chance to play the links.

"Edge would say things like, 'There are some cool people who play golf, Bono. Like Iggy Pop or Willie Nelson or Jack Nicholson,'" Bono said of the U2 guitarist. "So some people might be very happy if the band is broken open in a major fight over crazy golf. We shall see."

"I would hate if mini golf split this band up," Kimmel said. "That would be a real tragedy.”

Rock & Roll in the NEWS: Where New Rock Meets Old Rock...November 30, 2017 (Music Industry - Combat Records - Thrash Label)

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Thrash Label Combat Records Revived By Megadeth's David Ellefson

Combat Records logo

Megadeth bassist David Ellefson is bringing back the legendary thrash label that gave his band its first break. Ellefson's two-year-old EMP Label Group announced this week that it's reviving Combat Records, once home to metal and punk greats Exodus, Circle Jerks, Death, Dark Angel and Agnostic Front, among others. The indie notably signed Megadeth -- one of the "big four" thrash bands -- to a contract in 1984 and released the combo's 1985 debut, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!
Combat began life in 1983 as the in-house metal label for Important Record Distributors and was later acquired by Sony's now-defunct Relativity Records, which eventually shut it down. The Combat name was then resurrected briefly by KOCH Records in the mid-2000s before going dark again. Most of the label's back catalog, which is still owned by Sony, was released digitally in 2015 through Sony's Music for Nations imprint.
Ellefson's Combat does not own any of the back catalog, but will instead focus solely on new releases from both classic and up-and-coming metal artists. The label's first releases, coming in 2018, will feature Raven, Helstar, Dead By Wednesday and Wrath.
"So excited and honored to be able to revive such an iconic brand that was so instrumental to my history," said Ellefson, who has been working on acquiring the Combat brand for a year. "Even though we signed to Capitol after Killing is my Business, Combat's logo was on all the Megadeth releases through Countdown To Extinction, and it truly was/is one of the most iconic Metal labels of all time, even being home to some of the other artists who would end up on the EMP roster, like Helstar.
He added, "The same independent spirit that drove Combat in those early days, is truly the same spirit that drives what we do with EMP, and we are honored to launch another amazing conduit to support new and established Metal artists, with great respect to the legacy of the past."

Jack Blanchard's Column - November 30, 2017

  Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.


A long time ago Misty and I took a holiday season job in a Miami
department store in a poor neighborhood.
She was the photographer who snapped and sold the pictures of the
children on Santa's lap. I was Santa.
The Santa suit and the whiskers were hot,
but it was an unforgettable experience.

Little poor kids would tell me their dreams,
which I knew could not come true for them, at least this year,
but they had faith in Santa,
and even a "maybe" from me made their eyes sparkle.
Somehow, I felt guilty.

One little boy asked me how come Santa Claus is white.
I told him I hoped he wouldn't hold that against me,
and he assured me he wouldn't.

There were always a few raggedy strays
wandering around the toy department,
giggling and touching all the magical things
that would soon belong to someone else.

Some of them laughed and pointed at me, but never came too close.
Others showed off to their pals by climbing right up on my lap,
as if they weren't scared at all.

One little girl, dressed in filthy rags, was too small to climb up on my knee,
so I lifted her up. She weighed nothing.
I wondered if she was old enough to talk, as she just smiled at me.

Obviously, she was alone and uncared-for.
I asked her where her mommy and daddy were and she said, "Drunk".
Then she confessed her love for me.

I asked her what she really wanted most for Christmas,
and she lisped, "New shoes".
She wasn't wearing any this winter.
"Merry Christmas! Ho-Ho -Ho", I choked,
as she climbed down to be replaced by the next in line.

When business tapered off I searched the whole store for the little girl,
to buy her a pair of new shoes, but I was too late.
She had disappeared and I never saw her again,
except in my mind every Christmas.

Jack Blanchard

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan...
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© Jack Blanchard, 2017.