ZZ Top

ZZ Top premier new track in space

NASA Astronaut Michael Fossum has become the first people in the universe outside of ZZ Top inner circle to hear the band’s new song ‘Flyin’ High’.

Fossum is a good friend of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard. He was on his way to work when he heard the song. The thing is, his workplace is the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft.

Fossum took off from the Bailonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the sneak preview in his player for his ‘commute to work’. The song certainly has appropriate lyrics ”Flyin’ high, I’m gonna touch the sky’.

‘Flyin’ High’ is expected to be one of the tracks from the next ZZ Top album, their first since 2006. Rick Rubin produced the yet-to-be named album.

Astronaut Fossum is aboard the Russian spacecraft with Russian cosmonaut Segei Volkov and Stoshi Furukawa from Japan’s JAXA space agency

Concert Ticket Prices Expected To Drop In 2011 After Sluggish 2010.

Concert Ticket Prices Expected To Drop In 2011 After Sluggish 2010.

Concert Ticket Prices Expected To Drop In 2011 After Sluggish 2010.

Concert Ticket Prices Expected To Drop In 2011 After Sluggish 2010.  Concertgoers sick of ballooning ticket prices should have some extra pocket change to rattle with their rock ‘n’ roll in the new year. 2010 was tough for the concert business as high prices kept many fans at home. Promoters now say they plan to make shows more affordable in 2011. But they’ll also try to sell more T-shirts and other merchandise to make up for lost revenue. Heading into last summer, usually the busiest time of the year, prices were set too high despite the sluggish economy. Managers and promoters believed fans would keep paying for the one or two concerts they see on average each year. Instead, many stayed home and dozens of shows were canceled. Lots of venues filled seats with fire-sale prices. Now, rather than charge lots early and offer discounts later, some promoters say they’ll offer cheaper tickets from the start, partly because they know fans will spend as much as usual on beer and tchotchkes when they arrive.  ZZ Top, for one, expects to set prices below the 2010 average of $55. Some tickets will go for as little as $10. ”It’s time to give the value back,” said Carl Stubner, manager of the long-bearded rock band from Texas. “We’ll find other ways to make money.” That doesn’t mean all acts will be cheap – not even Cheap Trick, whose tickets for 2011 are selling for around $80 with fees. Fans of hot performers including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga also shouldn’t expect to get much of a break. Neil Diamond, for instance, who’s continuing his comeback tour in New Zealand in February, said he’d like to bring ticket prices down, but can’t because of the size of his production. “As the shows get bigger, the expenses get bigger, so it’s got to be translated somehow to the ticket price,” he told The Associated Press. “If I just used the guitar it’d be a lot simpler, but then I’d have to put 50 people out of work.” Overall, though, more artists than ever are going out on the road to make up for falling CD sales. With more tickets on sale and consumers still pinching pennies, the pressure on prices is down. Concert attendance fell 12 percent in the first half of 2010, compared with the same period a year ago, according to trade magazine Pollstar. The world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., said attendance from July to September dropped 16 percent from a year ago, even after it slashed fees and prices for dozens of acts, including Rod Stewart. ”It’s just getting too expensive,” says Michael Nemcik, who lost his job as a stockbroker in 2009 and now works as a bartender in Los Angeles. He went to about a dozen concerts in 2010, about half as many as the year before. Paying more than $200 for decent seats to see A Perfect Circle in November was just too much.  “I’m a little more hesitant on spending money than I used to be,” he said. Concert ticket prices had climbed steadily until recently, beginning in the 1990s when promoters began moving from one-price-fits-all ticketing to a tiered model that charges much higher prices for seats close to the stage. North American concert ticket prices rose from an average $26 in 1996 to a peak of $67 in 2008, an increase four times faster than inflation. That doesn’t include ticket fees for everything from “order processing” to “convenience,” which can tack on $10 or more. In 2009, ticket prices came down by about a buck, as managers braced for the worst of the recession. Fans responded by buying 12 percent more tickets than in 2008. Promoters figured fans were coming back for more in 2010 and raised prices. It backfired. That’s when the promoters had to offer deep discounts to fill seats. The average ticket cost a little less than $61 in the first half of 2010. Second-half numbers are expected to show a drop, too, because the discounts have continued. ”People felt they could go back to pushing the envelope again,” Pollstar editor-in-chief Gary Bongiovanni said. “The economy has proven that a lot of people probably reached too far.” Although the average isn’t expected to fall drastically in 2011, there’ll be bargains at the back of the house. Prices for front row seats may actually go up as part of Live Nation’s bid to grab revenue that might otherwise go to ticket resellers. But the company has said it wants to cut prices even further for the cheap seats to let in more fans.  When Live Nation cut prices in 2010, fans spent about the same amount as always – nearly $18 in North American amphitheaters – on beer, merchandise and other stuff, all of which helps the company’s bottom line because it owns major venues including the House of Blues in 13 cities. Live Nation also is developing a long-overdue shopping basket for its websites to lure fans to spend their ticket savings on CDs, clothes and other items and it recently rolled out an iPhone app that could be used in the future to sell merchandise.  None of those extra businesses works unless fans buy tickets, though.  ”We know that if you lower the price, they’ll come,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told investors in November. But some of the most powerful managers in the business are motivated to secure as much money as they can for their artists, and Live Nation faces pressure to outbid rival concert promoters by paying artists more. Artists struggling to make up for income lost to plummeting CD sales also may push fans to pay more. Those factors can cause prices to inch up.  Rapino said the company may simply have to walk away from some deals and hold fewer shows, especially ones that have low or no profit margins.   Demi Lovato, whose Camp Rock 2 tour with the Jonas Brothers had to cancel a dozen North American shows in 2010, told the AP recently that she’ll do her best to keep prices reasonable for a solo tour planned for 2011 to promote her third album. (Her camp says the tour is still on track, despite her entering treatment for “emotional and physical issues.”) ”I have best friends that aren’t in the industry and are dealing with just buying groceries and things like that, so I want to do my part,” she said.

Nickleback announce UK shows

NicklebackNICKELBACK announce 2 shows in January 2010 at Liverpool Arena on 17th and London’s Wembley Arena on 19th. After their hugely successful tour earlier this year in support of the release of their 6th studio album Dark Horse, Canada’s finest will be bringing their awesomely pyro-tastic show back to the UK early in 2010. Released in the latter part of 2008, Dark Horse is an 11-track survey of everything the group has done so well to this point — fist-pumping anthems, grinding rockers, soaring power ballads, grinning sexual innuendo, heart-wringing romanticism, choruses that stick in your ears after the first listen and Continue reading →

Gibson Custom announces the Billy Gibbons Pearly Gates Limited Edition

jeff_beck_showroomGibson Custom announced a guitar fit for every sharp dressed man, the Billy Gibbons Pearly Gates Limited Edition Les Paul Standard. And now you can own it. Billy Gibbons’ favorite axe has always been his beloved Pearly Gates – a rare 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard with legendary angelic qualities.

It has appeared on every track of every ZZ Top album to date, and sings with a ‘God-like voice’ unlike any other guitar. And now, the master craftsmen at Gibson Custom have recreated it in excruciating detail – right down to the last scratch and ding. Gibbons’ legendary Pearly Gates – a rare 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard – is like no other guitar in the world. The Gibson Custom Shop and Billy Gibbons himself took painstaking steps to make sure the replica of this sacred instrument is true to its every form. There are three different models, all in very limited quantities.  Gibbons was a young musician weaned on blues and rock in Texas. After years of listening to such greats as Eric Clapton, Gibbons began his search for his first Les Paul guitar. His search included a ’58 Flying V but the guitar that he was destined to find and nickname ‘Pearly Gates’ was a ’59 Les Paul. It didn’t come to Gibbons right away but through a girlfriend, a thirties model Packard automobile and part in a movie. Gibbons notes that in the early days of the band they acquired a Packard automobile. It was a huge vehicle that caused a stir on the road. Not long after they acquired the vehicle one of their girlfriends needed a way to get to California to try out for a movie part. The band gave her the Packard to get there and the girlfriend got the part. Thinking the car had special powers, they named it ‘Pearly Gates.’ Later the girlfriend sold the car to a collector and sent the money to the band. The money arrived the same day Gibbons got an offer to buy an old guitar, a ’59 Sunburst Les Paul, he bought it. After calling the girlfriend to discuss the circumstances both agreed that the money went for a good cause and since it came from the Packard they decided to keep the name ‘Pearly Gates’ for the guitar and the rest is history. Billy continues to make divine music to this day on the legendary instrument. The ’59 Gibson Les Paul is one of the most desirable guitars today.

The Billy Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ Les Paul Standard will be produced in a very limited quantity of only 350 guitars – 250 will receive Gibson Custom’s patented V.O.S. finish, 50 will be aged to look exactly like the original Pearly Gates, and another 50 will aged and personally signed and played by Gibbons himself.


download-festivalrtvFrom 12 Jun 2009 – 14 Jun 2009 The UK’s biggest, loudest, distortion-fuelled rock and metal festival returns to Donington Park for three more days of hard and heavy axe-wielding action.  With a taste for the biggest and most influential names in the heavy rock scene, Download Festival has attracted sets from KISS, Metallica, Guns ‘N Roses, Iron Maiden and The Prodigy in recent years and fans can expect more big names this time around.  The site underwent a revamp last year and it now houses two outdoor stages and a tent as well as an extreme sports bar, five-a-side football pitch, market, merchandise stands and chill-out area Kidney Woods.  Download 2009 will offer bespoke camping over the weekend.  AGreenerFestival say this about the festival: Download won the ‘most improved’ festival in the 2007 Greener Festival Awards and organisers Live Nation built on this in 2008 with travel planning and carbon offsetting offered to the audience. A new artist briefing booklet that explained the festival’s environmental work was given to performers who were encouraged to improve their own carbon footprint with handy hints and tips. The deposit system for recycling introduced in 2007 was continued and audience recycling in the campsite was encouraged and further promoted.

releases, live reports and gossip from around the globe.
Friday, June 12, 2009 
2nd Stage
Motley Crue, Opeth,  Lacuna Coil, Dir En Grey, Parkway Drive

Main Stage – Download
Faith No More, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Killswitch Engage, Billy Talent,  Staind,  The Blackout,

 Tuborg Stage
Meshuggah,  Duff McKagen’s Loaded,  Backyard Babies, Middle Class Rut, Sleepercurve,

Saturday, June 13, 2009
2nd Stage
The Prodigy, Chris Cornell,  You Me At Six, The Answer,  Static-X,  Fightstar,  In Case Of Fire, Superstar

Main Stage – Download
Slipknot,  Marilyn Manson,  Pendulum,  Dragonforce, Down,  Devildriver,  Five Finger Death Punch

Tuborg Stage
Anvil,  Architects,  Lawnmower Deth, Poison

Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage
None The Less

Sunday, June 14, 2009
2nd Stage

Trivium,  Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Clutch, Shinedown, Karma To Burn, Sevendust

Main Stage – Download
Def Leppard,  Whitesnake,  ZZ Top, Dream Theater, Journey, Black Stone Cherry

Tuborg Stage
Go Audio,  Therapy, Pulled Apart By Horses

 Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage
Twin Atlantic

Rock Prophecies wins Best Documentary

cheap-trickoldImagine seeing bands like Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones long before they became famous. Legendary Rock photographer Robert Knight did just that, and has the photos to prove it. ROCK PROPHECIES explores Robert’s amazing career and follows him on his quest to help the bands of today become the Rock legends of tomorrow. When Robert stumbles upon Tyler Dow Bryant – a 16-year old guitar phenom from Texas – he’s convinced he may have found the next Stevie Ray Vaughan. Robert risks his reputation and career and takes a chance on Tyler. The two then set off on an unbelievable journey to take their own shot at making history. ROCK PROPHECIES just won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 AFI Dallas Film Festival. It also received the highest combined vote total collected of any film playing at that festival. Dallas’ WFAA-TV film critic Gary Cogill said, “ROCK PROPHECIES is a remarkable film and one of my favorite films at the AFI Dallas Film Festival this year.”  The film features interviews and performances from Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, Carlos Santana, Slash, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and Steve Vai, among others, and is an official selection screening in competition at the Nashville Film Festival on Saturday, April 18 at 7:30pm at the Regal Green Hills Theatre. Knight, Bryant and director John Chester will stick around afterwards for a brief Q+A, followed by an after-party at 12th and Porter, with performances by Tyler Dow Bryant and Sick Puppies. A second screening is set for Wednesday, April 22 at 9:30pm at Regal Green Hills. “It’s a true story about having a dream, and how to fulfill that dream,” Knight says of ROCK PROPHECIES. “For that matter, it’s the story of fulfilling other peoples’ dreams, too.” While building relationships with established guitar royalty, Knight has always managed to keep his finger on the cultural pulse, leaping at the opportunity to photograph and promote emerging talent such as blues-rock star Joe Bonamassa, and rising bands Sick Puppies, The Answer and Panic At The Disco. Since Robert became involved, Sick Puppies has scored a hit single and viral video smash with “All the Same” and “Free Hugs,” The Answer has opened for AC/DC’s 2009 world tour, and Panic at the Disco’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, has sold 2.2 million copies. A film by John Chester and produced by Tim Kaiser, ROCK PROPHECIES was shot in multiple locations across the U.S. and England. For more information: www.rockprophecies.com

A Full House for Bands and Fans at SXSW

sxsw-1So I just got back from SXSW,  It’s one of those festivals that comes at you from all angles — parties day and night, free drinks and food everywhere you look, and constant impromptu parties at one minutes notice. Some of my highlights include witnessing Justice alongside 200 people in a crammed room drunk off my head at the infamous Playboy party, chatting up a playboy bunny, and ending up in a hot tub with buzz band MGMT at 7am at their hotel — all in one night! Then there was the adventure of heading to a farmyard party in ‘Hicksville’, on the outskirts of Austin; watching Spank Rock perform on a ten storey building rooftop at 2am at the Nylon party; bumping into ZZ Top by accident; getting caught up in the revelry of a show by some unknown band that moved itself from the stage inside the venue Emo’s out onto the street; sneaking into a wine tasting party which served up some of the most orgasmic food on offer whilst watching an intimate set by Erika Wennerstrom — the next Emmylou Harris; witnessing one of the most intense politically charged hip hop shows by unknown Mississippi rising star David Banner at the Fader/Levis Fort; and watching Pharell Williams of N.E.R.D rip it up with a ten man band. Phew!

Any dip has been imperceptible among the throngs on East Sixth Street or Red River, the two main strips of clubs in downtown Austin. At SXSW, the music business reminds itself that people do actually care enough about music to seek it out. The clubs are crowded, partly because the festival sells passes that cover all the showcases, encouraging an all-you-can-hear approach. (Labels and publishers have resisted a similar subscription model for selling recordings, although there are online subscription services for streaming playback.)

Many of the fans in the clubs have most likely heard their chosen bands via free downloads, legal or illegal; there are legal ones for many of the SXSW bands at www.sxsw.com. But as the music business is coming to understand, the ancient model of the touring troubadour may turn out to be the 21st-century model for a working musician’s livelihood.

And there are plenty of bands still ready to jump in a van, sleep on couches, set up their own equipment and play three shows a day for a chance to be noticed. They no longer expect to be handed “the standard rich-and-famous contract,” as one musician put it, but perhaps they’ll find a booking agent, an impromptu interview or a new fan with a clever idea for a T-shirt design.

SXSW isn’t just for unknowns and lesser-knowns. It pulls older bands out of mothballs; this year the lineup includes the Sonics, Devo, Echo and the Bunnymen, Primal Scream and the Memphis soul band the Bar-Kays. Meanwhile, with just about every media organization that covers music in town, well-known current bands are eager to use SXSW as a marketing springboard. The multimillion-selling Metallica, promoting its tie-in with the video game Guitar Hero, was due to play a not-so-secret show on Friday night at Stubb’s BBQ.

On Wednesday, the music festival’s opening night, the Decemberists introduced their new album, “The Hazards of Love” (Capitol) — an hourlong, uninterrupted rock opera and fable about love and murder — by playing it from start to finish for a full house at Stubb’s and an NPR Web cast, which can be downloaded free from npr.org.

The music segued from delicate, Celtic-folk-rooted ballads to stomping, 1970s-flavored riff-rock and back, as the Decemberists’ songwriter, Colin Meloy, portrayed both the album’s romantic hero and its sociopathic villain. Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond sang the female characters. Parts of the music were too delicate for the boisterous SXSW crowd, but the music held up as a coherent structure, with passages that grew stronger each time they recurred.

Grizzly Bear, whose album “Veckatimest” (Warp) is due for release on May 26, had an ideal place — the resonant Central Presbyterian Church — to perform its new songs on Thursday night. They are otherworldly meditations that dissolve from a handful of pensive, open-ended lyrics into wordless, rapturous vocal harmonies that floated through the hushed room.

Another superb New York band, Dirty Projectors, introduced songs from its next album, “Bitte Orca” (Domino), due in June, including the dizzying, pointillistic vocal mesh of a song called “Remade Horizon” that can be heard at npr.org.

Big Boi, half of the Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast, was less generous with new material in his quick-rhyming, upbeat set on Thursday night. His long-delayed first solo album, “Sir Luscious Left Foot,” is now due for release in June or July, he announced. But he devoted most of the set to OutKast songs, only unveiling one new track, “Backup Plan,” and his verses of a song that also has other rappers on it, “Royal Flush,” which was just leaked online.

SXSW has positioned itself as a one-stop opportunity to make contacts across the American music business, and it has had a steadily increasing presence for bands from abroad. This year there were 594 international acts at official showcases.

micachu-and-the-shapesOne startling British import was Micachu and the Shapes, a trio of former music school students who love bare-bones structures. Mica Levi’s terse, choppy songs for the group use dissonant guitar chords, hardheaded lyrics, a swinging drumbeat, perky keyboard hooks and contrapuntal cowbells, among other things, for songs with the ebullience of a skiffle band and the hardheadedness of hip-hop.

Other international arrivals included Blk Jks (pronounced Black Jacks), a South African band that mingles brisk, triplet-driven, African-rooted rhythms with eruptions of neo-psychedelic guitar and echoey vocals, reminiscent of American progressive rock like the Mars Volta. Oh Land, a Danish trio suggesting Bjork leading the Pointer Sisters, sang about frostbite and earthquakes with synchronized moves and odd hats.

Not that American bands were scarce, whether they were playing revved-up, post-punk Minimalism, like Abe Vigoda, from Los Angeles, or Dylanesque Americana, like Elvis Perkins in Dearland (leaning toward rockabilly and gospel) and the Portland band Blitzen Trapper (applying new-wave concision to the sound of the Band). Groups like those can look forward, if they’re lucky, to careers on the road, perhaps with an occasional windfall from placing a song in a soundtrack or a commercial. But on a beery Austin night in a packed club, that can sound like enough.

The South by Southwest Music Festival continues through Sunday; www.sxsw.com.

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