Mar 02,2018: The English Beat


One tempestuous weekend in March 1979 was not only the date of the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, but also, in Birmingham, England, the very first show by a nascent band known as The Beat. Introduced as “the hottest thing since the Pennsylvania meltdown”, the band had a sense that the next few years could well be explosive! The Beat hailed from working class, industrial Birmingham, England. When The Beat rushed on to the music scene in 1979, it was a time of social, political and musical upheaval. Into this storm came The Beat, trying to calm the waters with their simple message of love and unity set to a great dance beat.

The Beat were all about inclusion, rather than exclusion, and this showed in their personnel and their music influences. The six member band consisted of Dave Wakeling on vocals and guitar, Andy Cox on guitar, David Steele on bass, Everett Morton on drums, Ranking Roger on vocals and toasting, and foundational first wave ska legend Saxa on saxophone. The band crossed over fluidly between soul, reggae, pop and punk, and from these disparate pieces they created an infectious dance rhythm. Along with their contemporaries The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness, The Beat became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of the British ska movement.

By Christmas of 1979, The Beat were riding high in the UK charts with their first single, a smoking remake of the classic Smokey Robinson tune “Tears of a Clown”. Over the course of the next five years The Beat toured relentlessly and released three studio albums: “I Just Can’t Stop It”, “Wh’appen”, and “Special Beat Service”. The band toured the world, touring with such artists as David Bowie, The Police, REM, The Clash, The Talking Heads, The Pretenders, and The Specials, to name but a few. The Beat kept scoring hits with tunes that have now become so popular that it’s hard to remember a time when they didn’t exist, such as “Mirror in the Bathroom”, “Save it for Later”, “I Confess”, “Stand Down Margaret”, and their serene cover of Andy William’s “Can’t Get Used To Losing You”.

Despite their huge success, The Beat didn’t stop singing and acting on the problems caused by the noise in this world. They donated all the profits from their highly successful single version of “Stand Down Margaret” to the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament. They donated their music to causes including the anti-nuclear benefit album “Life in The European Theatre”, “The World of Music and Dance” album focusing on indigenous people’s art, and lent their voice to The Special AKA’s freedom cry “Free Nelson Mandela”, to name but a few.

Dave Wakeling once told me that every great band only has three really good albums. And true to form, The Beat decided to call it quits after their third album, “Special Beat Service”. Of course, that was not the last we would hear from the Beat boys.

After The Beat, Dave Wakeling formed General Public with co-front man from The Beat, Ranking Roger. The band took off quickly, scoring back to back hits off their first album, “All The Rage”, with the tracks “Tenderness”, “So Hot You’re Cool”, and “Never You Done That!” Dave’s good looks and soulful crooning combined brilliantly with Roger’s gravelly toasting, high intensity showmanship and upfulbeat, and they took the critics and fans by storm. It didn’t hurt that their line up included, among others, such music luminaries as The Beat’s Saxa on saxophone, Mickey Billingham on keyboards (Dexy’s Midnight Runners), Horace Panter on bass (The Specials), and none other than punk legend Mick Jones on guitar (The Clash). General Public release two more albums, “Hand to Mouth” and “Rub It Better”, notched up additional hits with “Come Again!”, “Too Much or Nothing”, and “I’ll Take You There”, and helped to secure the legacy of The Beat, before they disbanded in 1996. However, true to The Beat’s philanthropic bent, General Public reformed in 1998 to play at Sweet Relief, a concert to benefit ailing artists.

While Dave and Roger were working on General Public, Andy Cox and David Steele were occupied putting their own band together. Embracing the new “music video” paradigm, Andy and David placed an ad for a singer on MTV. After receiving hundreds of tapes from across America, ultimately it was Roland Gift who got the job. Roland was the lead singer from a band from Hull, UK, called The Acrylics who had opened a few gigs for The Beat. With Roland onboard, the Fine Young Cannibals was formed. From the release of their first single “Johnny Come Home”, from their self-titled first album “Fine Young Cannibals”, the band received critical raves and outstanding success. Their second album “The Raw and The Cooked” was nothing short of a musical phenomenon, with singles such as “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing” becoming instant classics. The Fine Young Cannibals achieved multi-platinum record sales and, perhaps more importantly, universal fan approval.

After General Public, Dave and Roger went different directions to follow their own muses. Roger has put out two solo albums, “Radical Departure” and his 2001 release “Inside My Head”. These albums show Roger’s return to his reggae and punk roots. For his part, Dave produced Greenpeace’s “Alternative NRG” album, the first album recorded completely with solar power. Dave also recorded the title track and produced the soundtrack for the John Hughes’ film “She’s Having a Baby”. After that he recorded his first solo record titled “No Warning”, which maintained the pop sense for which General Public had become famous.

While the other ex-members of The Beat were busy with their own projects, Saxa and Everett Morton put together their own band, known as International Beat. The band blended modern pop with traditional ska rhythms to form a hybrid sound reminiscent of The Beat. International Beat has toured around the world and released two live albums to date.

After the release of his first solo album, Ranking Roger joined some old friends from the heyday of the 2 Tone scene who had formed a ska ensemble band called Special Beat. The band included Neville Staples on vocals (The Specials and Fun Boy 3), Brad on drums (The Specials), Horace Panter on bass (The Specials, General Public) and Graeme Hamilton on trumpet (The Au Pairs and Fine Young Cannibals) to name but a few. Special Beat toured Britain and U.S. extensively and released two live albums.

February 2003 saw a dream come true for many Beat fans as the band reunited for a mini-tour in the UK, which culminated in their acclaimed, sold out command performance at the Royal Festival Hall! It was a magical homecoming for the band and for the fans, with band members and fans gathering from around the globe for a night or irie, ska-ful rock-steady Beat!

Being the hard driving ska legend that he is, however, Dave was not content to rest on his laurels after the RFH reunion. Dave continues to tour the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the UK with an amazing all-star ska backing band playing the hits of The Beat, General Public, and his new songs.

You just can’t stop The Beat!



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Feb 23,2018: The Aggrolites


The Aggrolites are more than a band they are a movement unto themselves. They carry a banner – one created with their own hands. This banner reads, “Dirty Reggae,” and represents their signature fusion of reggae, soul, grit and determination. For seven magnificent years, this dirty reggae bunch has rolled from city to city, across the pond and up main street USA. They rally the kids, the parents, the students, the cops, the bosses and the drifters. The people come, they relish in The Aggrolites, the dirty reggae and the joy that comes with it all. The liberating rhythms and catchy grooves demand a return trip.

Out of the Los Angeles school of hard knocks, The Aggrolites have earned a Ph.D in “feel good music.” On the road they educate with the thunder and punch of the reggae drums and bass, the ripping, soulful melodies of the organ and guitars, and Jesse Wagner’s voice – a gift from the heavens, a perfectly intact gift from Otis, Sam, Ray and Wilson.

The Aggrolites have a specific way of making music. They don’t over think it, they don’t obsess over pop culture demands, they walk onto a stage or into a recording studio and let “it” happen – a culmination of inspiration – from the road, from playing alongside legends, and from the energy and motivation of their die hard fans. A new album is due for release in June 2009 and they call it IV. It is a definitive chapter in The Aggrolites journey with 21 tracks; each one a story of their struggle to thrive and their quest to spread soulful music around the globe. So, when you are in the mood to drop your troubles and kick your baggage to the curb, call on The Aggrolites.

The Aggrolites are Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Dixon (rhythm guitar), Roger Rivas (organ) and Jeff Roffredo (bass).
The Aggrolites are Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Brian Dixon (rhythm guitar), Roger Rivas (organ) and Jeff Roffredo (bass).
They have three other full-length albums to their credit — Dirty Reggae (Axe 2003), The Aggrolites (Hellcat 2006) and Reggae Hit L.A. (Hellcat 2007), featuring the hit “Free Time.” “A glorious, surprising treat. Ideal for your next soul shakedown party,” raved Peter Relic from Rolling Stone about Reggae Hit L.A.

Their songs are featured on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour Compilation and numerous Give ‘Em The Boot compilations from Hellcat. In 2007, the band also collaborated with Rancid front-man Tim Armstrong on his solo A Poet’s Life (Hellcat 2007) CD/DVD release.

The Aggrolites are well represented in film, television and video games. Their songs have been featured in NBC’s Friday Night Lights, MTV’s The Hills, Nick Jr.’s Yo Gabba Gabba, USA’s Dr. Steve-O, MavTV’s Rad Girls, the award-winning surf film The Pursuit, and Australian video game Cricket. The Aggros-backed, Tim Armstrong and Skye Sweetnam duet, “Into Action,” is featured in Dream Works Pictures’ Hotel For Dogs. Their renditions of The Specials’ “Ghost Town” and Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie” will be heard in the upcoming teen surf comedy Endless Bummer, and “Free Time” will be in Walden Media’s musical-romantic comedy Band Slam.

The Aggrolites have shared the stage with Social Distortion, Madness, Rancid, Flogging Molly, 311, Michael Franti Spearhead, Dropkick Murphys, The Vandals, Against Me!, Gogol Bordello, The Aquabats, Hepcat, The Skatalites, Prince Buster and Derrick Morgan. They have graced the stages at such notable events as Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, Bumbershoot, CMJ, Sundance Film Festival, L.A. Film Fest, Sunset Junction, Detour Music Fest, KROQ’s Weenie Roast, 94/9 Independence Jam and Ragga Muffins Fest. In 2009, they will add Coachella, Fuji Rock in Japan, West Coast Riot, Open Air St. Gallen, Pohoda Festival, Rebellion Festival, Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Couvre Feu Festival, among numerous others around the world to this growing festival list.



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Feb 17,2018: Kate Voegele, Tyler Hilton and more

The musical landscape is teeming with singer/songwriters, many of them quite capable, but only a handful have something truly distinctive to offer. Kate Voegele belongs in the latter category. Don’t Look Away, Voegele’s first full-length album (MySpace Records), is a revelation, as the 20-year-old writer/singer, belying her tender years, delivers songs of depth and insight with a powerfully seductive voice that maintains a fierce presence amid dynamic rock grooves and infectious pop hooks. Produced by the veteran Marshall Altman (Matt Nathanson, Mark Broussard), Don’t Look Away is a bravura effort from an old soul with a youthful spirit; think of her album as a female parallel to John Mayer’s Room for Squares—at once a zeitgeist-capturing landmark and the launchpad for a viable career.

The tracks range from the rootsy acoustic ballad “Wish You Were,” with its mandolin and accordion filigree, and the sparse, piano-based “Kindly Unspoken” to the widescreen heartbreak anthem “Only Fooling Myself” and the ironically titled “It’s Only Life,” a soaring expression of female empowerment, which Voegele describes as “a motivational, uplifting song about dealing with situations rather than trying to hide from them.” “One Way or Another” is an edgy rocker about romantic victimization, while the punchy “Chicago,” she says, “is a metaphorical representation of any kind of escape, about just needing to get away. The line at the end of the chorus is, ‘I’ll be on the seven o’clock to Chicago,’ so it refers to a specific city, but it’s universally applicable.”

While the concerns Voegele touches on in her songs are contemporary, her sensibility is deeply rooted. Growing up surrounded by the music of seminal singer/songwriters like Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Eric Clapton, thanks to her musician father, Voegele absorbed everything she heard as if by osmosis, and began writing her own songs at 15. “It’s my personal goal to continue the standard set by those before me,” she says of her timeless approach. “No matter how a song develops, my main goal is to reach people, because there were so many musicians who spoke to me, and still do, to help me to deal with situations. It’s so easy nowadays with all the technology for people to fake it. For me, it’s just so important that the true musical talent and passion for the songs be there.”

Voegele, a Cleveland native now in her sophomore year at Miami of Ohio, is no neophyte; indeed, before she’d finished high school, the youngster had notebooks filled with songs and was regularly performing live with the poise of a veteran. Kate was 16 when some rough demos she’d recorded with her father led to an opening slot at a stop on John Mayer and Counting Crows’ 2003 shed tour, followed by second-stage appearances in front of Patty Griffin, Aimee Mann and Mindy Smith. She subsequently opened for Dave Matthews, the Wreckers, Howie Day, John Mellencamp and Jamie Cullum, as well as performing at two consecutive Farm-Aid concerts, Summerfest, SXSW, CMJ and dozens of club shows at venues including New York’s Bitter End and the House of Blues in Chicago. Additionally, her song “I Won’t Disagree” took first place over 4,000 entries to the New York Songwriters’ Circle, winning Pop Song of the Year, while “Only Fooling Myself” was the winner of the USA Songwriting Contest. One early admirer from the AR world asserted that Kate could be “the commercial Patty Griffin,” in reference to the emotional and intellectual depth of her writing and singing.

Ambitious by nature and powerfully motivated by these gratifying early experiences, Voegele continued to write, including collaborations with pros like Jim McGorman (Michelle Branch) and Peter Zizzo (Avril Lavigne), and to record, working up a set of impressive demos in L.A. with Altman in 2004, marking the beginning of what has turned out to be a fruitful partnership. Inevitably, the music Voegele was turning out caught the ears of a number of AR reps and label heads, leading to showcases and a number of offers, none of which felt right to the canny and discerning young artist. But after meeting with the staff of MySpace Records at the request of AR man Jon Pikus, who’d wanted to sign her during a previous stint at Columbia, Kate knew she’d found the right label to partner with.

“When I walked into MySpace, I really didn’t know what to expect because the label was just starting out,” says Kate. “But the atmosphere was really cool and so different from the other labels I’d been to, a lot of which were cold and intimidating. MySpace wasn’t like that at all. Tom [yes, the original “friend” does really exist; Tom Anderson is the site’s co-founder and the president of the label] and Jon were really easy to talk to, and right away I felt comfortable there. The icing on the cake was that everything about the label was something I felt was right for me. I’d been looking for a label where I’d have artistic freedom and where they’d appreciate the music in its original form and not try to make it anything it wasn’t. That’s what I found at MySpace, along with an innovative approach to marketing, which is something I didn’t see at any other label. The people at MySpace are taking an approach that’s really different, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Voegele signed with MySpace in October of 2006, choosing to work once again with Altman. “She met with me and said she was talking to Jon at MySpace,” the producer recalls. “I love the idea of MySpace—I think it’s a great marketing platform—and I knew Jon would allow Kate to pursue her artistic vision, which had really evolved over the last couple of years, so I told her I’d love to produce her record.”

Soon thereafter they went into Track Record Studios in North Hollywood, where Emmylou Harris had cut a number of classic LPs, and laid down 12 tracks live off the floor in a three-day burst of sustained inspiration. Among the A-list players who worked on the project (drawn by the strength of Voegele’s songs, according to Altman) were guitarists Dino Meneghin (Liz Phair, Ani Difranco, Broussard) and Michael Chavez (Sarah McLachlan, Mayer) Eric Robinson, bass player Jonathan Ahrens (Rosie Thomas, Warren Barfield), drummer Aaron Sterling (Liz Phair) and percussionist Chris Lovejoy (AM, Charlie Hunter Quartet), with the renowned Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Fiona Apple, Rachael Yamagata) engineering.

“Kate is a pop artist, but she has much more soul and integrity than the word ‘pop’ would suggest,” Altman observes. “Her music is organic and has a strong lyrical perspective with a lot of emotional currency to it. It’s so refreshing to hear a female artist as young as Kate is who has such a deep perspective as a writer. She’s got it, and I think this record is pretty special.”

Poised, beautiful, armed with unforgettable songs and a voice to match, Kate Voegele is poised on the brink of something big indeed. You read it here first.



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Feb 16,2018: Pine Mountain Logs

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Feb 10,2018: Spazmatics

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Feb 10,2018: Conquer Our Run

Schedule:

–  7:00am Conquest Launch

– 6:30am Check in to get your bibs tshirts, stretch and hangout!

 

Course:

Welcome to Conquer Our Run’s Sweetheart Conquest at the awesome Hermosa Beach Strand. Invite your favorite sweetheart, girlfriend, partner, mom, boyfriend, dad, or foe or pal to join us at the beautiful beachfront and conquest friendly running environment. This is the perfect place to conquer your limits 1 run at a time. We dare you to join us and run further than you have before! Accept the Challenge!

 

Click Here For Register



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Earth Talk: What are "Intentional Communities"?

Dear EarthTalk: What are so-called “intentional communities”? And are there any in the U.S. that are sustainability-focused? — E.M.

By definition, an “intentional community” (IC) is a planned residential community built around commonly held values usually foster social cohesion and shared responsibilities and resources. Some such communities are centered around religion, but others primarily seek to live more lightly on the planet. Collectives, co-housing communities, ecovillages, monasteries, survivalist retreats, ashrams and yes, even communes, are all forms of ICs that still exist today in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“Humanity thrives when people work together,” says the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), a Missouri-based non-profit that promotes the development of ICs and the evolution of cooperative culture in the U.S. and Canada. “An ‘Intentional Community’ shows what happens when people take this premise to the next level—by living together in a village of their own making which reflects their shared values.”

ICs that focus on sustainability as a key tenet are usually referred to as “eco-villages,” a term first coined by Robert Gilman in In Context Magazine in 1991. What sets an eco-village apart from any old IC, according to Gilman, is the focus on “human scale, healthy and sustainable development, full-featured settlement, and the harmless integration of human activities into the natural world.” Gilman added that eco-villages shouldn’t take on more than 150 residents for a well-functioning social network.

These days, more than 140 different “eco-villages” are in operation across the U.S., according to the Scotland-based non-profit Global Ecovillage Network. Perhaps the granddaddy of modern day ICs is the EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI) in Upstate New York. Founders took five years to build out the basics of their community before inviting residents to move in during 1996. Given the shared resources and focus on sustainability, an EVI resident’s ecological footprint is about half the U.S. average.

“Homes in the village are built for maximum energy efficiency,” says resident Clara Changxin Fang, who moved into EVI back in 2009. She adds that each of the community’s clustered duplex housing units is situated for maximum solar gain and feature super insulated walls and high-efficiency triple pane windows facing south to take advantage of natural light and heat. A shared hot water system is designed to service eight homes at once with minimal heat loss. Development is clustered to maximize open space.

EVI is hardly the only established sustainability-oriented IC in the U.S. Some others include Arizona’s Arcosanti, Oregon’s Lost Valley, Vermont’s Cobb Hill, Earthaven in North Carolina, Hawaii’s Hedonisia, Altair in Pennsylvania, Dancing Rabbit in Missouri, Wisconsin’s Dreamtime and Paz in Texas.

Meanwhile, for those looking to get in on the ground floor of sustainability-oriented communal living, many other new eco-villages are springing up coast-to-coast. Vermont’s Headwaters, Missouri’s Dogtown, Texas’ WildCraft. Michigan’s Earthen Heart and Kansas’ Creature Conduit Sanctuary are among dozens of new ICs rooted in sustainability that are actively seeking like-minded individuals to live together according to their values.

CONTACTS: FIC, ic.org; Global Ecovillage Network, ecovillage.org; EVI, ecovillageithaca.org.

EarthTalk® is a weekly syndicated column produced by the non-profit EarthTalk. To find out more, submit a question, or make a donation, visit us at EarthTalk.org.



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Feb 09,2018: Fishbone, Law and more


Celebrating 25 groundbreaking years, FISHBONE has been trailblazing their way through the history of American Ska, Rock Fusion and (so-called) Black Rock since starting their professional career in Los Angeles burgeoning, Alternative Rock music scene of the mid-1980s. Their sound has often been imitated, but never duplicated. They have toured worldwide with such bands as the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Roots, Les Claypool/Primus, Fela Kuti, The Dead Kennedys and many more. Angelo Moore’s ability to combine thought-provoking, humorous social commentary with FISHBONE’s brethren’s frenzied, up-tempo music and frantic, euphorically entertaining stage show has cultivated their undisputed reputation as one of the best live acts in music history.

Now in their 25th year of composing, creating, recording, releasing and performing original music together, mass critical appeal appears to be returning to the band, fueled by their critically acclaimed full-length feature documentary; Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne, the film earned LA Weekly’s Critic’s Choice Award at the Los Angeles Film Fest in 2010, has been called “effortlessly Entertaining” (Variety), “Brilliant and Groundbreaking” (Pop Matters), and hailed as “more than a documentary about rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a documentary about the American spirit and one that shows the life of one of its most influential creative forces.” (Encore Magazine)

The documentary features celebrity testimonials from an A-list cast of rock icons such as Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), who calls the band “an important musical institution” and “the band that gave us the inspiration to be a band” by Gwen Stefani (No Doubt). The film also includes similar admiration from the likes of Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addition), Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) Rob Trujillo (Metallica), Questlove (The Roots), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Tim Robbins (Grammy Winning Actor) and many more. The film not only highlights the bands substantial legacy in contemporary music of all forms, but also the struggles, adversity, and inner turmoil that has surrounded the bands career. It has also opened up the possibility of, and widely rumored and sought after reunion performance with all original members of this legendary band. Everyday Sunshine is currently premiering in theaters across the country, and many of the dates have already sold out. DVD release and broadcast interest from VH1, Showtime, and PBS is expected in 2012.

To date, FISHBONE still continues to tour all over the world, still turning heads at some of the world’s most noteworthy festivals such as Fuji Rock Festival in Tokyo, Japan (2010), Wakarusa in Ozark, AR (2010), Sunset Junction in Los Angeles, CA (2010) and Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, LA (2011). This year, the band recently completed a national U. S. tour with Slightly Stoopid and Dumpstaphunk; and a sold-out SXSW showcase with Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep. In addition, the band recently completed an Australian tour featuring performances with Trombone Shorty and George Clinton, highlighted by a performance at Byron Bay Blues Festival. This summer the band toured all over Europe and Japan and currently on tour in support of their highly anticipated new EP Crazy Glue (DC-Jam Records) released October 11, 2011.



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Rooftops Newsletter: Somebody’s Grandmother Is Hungry

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Feb 08,2018: Kate & Kacey

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