Louis E. Johnson, known as Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson and half of The Brothers Johnson with brother George “Lightnin’ Licks” Johnson, passed away on May 21st at age 60. Louis Johnson was a legendary bass player and one of the principal figures in Funk music, and also is famous for laying down that incredible bassline on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as well as playing on his hit, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. The Brothers Johnson collaborated with Quincy Jones, and are best known for their 1977 cover of Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23”, their 1976 hit “I’ll Be Good to You”, and the 1980’s hit “Stomp!”. I was lucky enough to see what I think might have been the last live concert performance by The Brothers Johnson” in September 2013 as part of WorldOne Presents and their “Funk Fest” event at Thunder Valley in Lincoln, California, and did extensive photography at the show. You can see my full review and photos in my original article, but I thought I would pull out some of the Louis Johnson ones here as a tribute to the great man. [Read more…]
This is the first of my 2014 “Year In Review” articles. As with my articles in 2013 and 2012, I reviewed a sampling of my concert photos from 2014 and compiled some of my favorites and stopped when I hit 100 photos in total. Please also check out my companion 2014 Year in Review article, which covers my Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Songs, Top 10 Concerts and more. [Read more…]
Reignwolf won over the Rock Subculture Journal back in 2013, with a supporting slot with Pixies at the El Rey Theater (I then counted Reignwolf as my #1 Supporting Act for the year). I was blown away by Jordan Cook and his two bandmates and their performance on stage, and have been eagerly anticipating seeing a full set from them ever since. Having supported Black Sabbath for much of 2014, Reignwolf will be playing a handful of special shows to close out 2014, with appearances in San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle. If you are anywhere in the vicinity of the West Coast, I can’t recommend enough coming out to one or more of these shows. Reignwolf will become a huge phenomenon once their first full studio album hits the streets and the rest of the world catches up to this incredible artist. [Read more…]
Today, Alice Glass announced her departure from – and thus the break-up of – Crystal Castles with Ethan Kath. She made a short statement on social media, including her personal Facebook page (with her first post since July): “I am leaving Crystal Castles. My art and my self-expression in any form has always been an attempt towards sincerity, honesty, and empathy for others. For a multitude of reasons both professional and personal I no longer feel that this is possible within CC. Although this is the end of the band, I hope my fans will embrace me as a solo artist in the same way they have embraced Crystal Castles.” Crystal Castles, who I had a chance to cover and photograph at two shows (one in Seattle in 2012 and the other in Oakland in 2013), and they were as unique in live form as they were in studio recordings. I thought I’d bid farewell to the band with a pictorial showcase of photos I shot at those two concerts, some of which have never been published previously. [Read more…]
This is the second and last of my 2013 “Year In Review” articles. As with my article last year for 2012 in photos, I reviewed my concert photos from 2013 and compiled some of my favorites and stopped when I hit 100 photos in total. Please also check out my companion 2013 Year in Review article: The Rock Subculture Journal 2013 Year In Review (Top 10 Live Music Concerts, Top 10 Albums, Top 100 Songs, and more…) [Read more…]
As with last year’s 2012 Year In Review, reflecting on the many shows attended in 2013 and trying to make some sense of it all was a challenge. Having attended nearly 100 events, which usually includes at least one supporting act and a headliner, as well as one 10-day festival and many multi-artist shows, I saw literally hundreds of sets. Miraculously, I can probably count on one hand the number that were “bad”, and the majority were awesome in one or more ways. Still, I feel it is important to highlight the best of the best of the best, in an attempt to celebrate an amazing year of music. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2013 in that separate article.
“I wanted to know if you were up for a bit of dancing now – I know it’s a bit tight out there with bodies and antlers and everything, but hey, there’s no excuse…” Words in-between songs by 80s New Wave pop icon Kim Wilde at “Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party” at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, England on Friday night. Given that these four special shows (one in the Netherlands and three in England) were her first solo gigs in some time, I really had no idea what to expect. And since she just came out with her Wilde Winter Songbook of Christmas songs, I thought perhaps the whole show would be dedicated to maybe an hour or so of holiday music. I really couldn’t have been more wrong, as she ended up doing a mix of pop music (including covers) as well as Christmas music, with a sprawling setlist clocking in at two dozen songs, with a two hour performance. At 53, she still looks stunning and sounds amazing, and it truly had a party-like atmosphere, and among other talented musicians, she was joined on stage by her niece, brother, and father, so it was a real intimate family affair. All in all, a brilliant show, and I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to be there for it.
This special benefit concert was organized by Crisis, with proceeds designated for their “Crisis at Christmas” as well as their Year-round services throughout the UK. The stellar line-up featured Bastille, Foxes, AlunaGeorge, Michael Kiwanuka, and Jake Bugg, with presenter Clara Amfo from BBC Radio 1Xtra managing the event on stage. It was a high energy show that drew a young and enthusiastic crowd, and was certainly in line with the festive spirit of this week leading into Christmas. The night kicked off with a great performance from the charity organization’s own Crisis Starlight Band and that moment carried through the night. A great evening for a great cause.
“Essentially, the word around here is grateful…” Chris Martin at his piano, backed by the Royal Academy of Music, opening the encore for the night with a cover of “White Christmas”. I’ve written quite a few articles about Coldplay in the past, so any who have read them would know that they are one of my favorite bands (along with Depeche Mode and Pixies). I hadn’t seen them live since their show in San Jose in April of 2012, so it has been a while. They took 2013 off as far as performing live goes, and have been in the studio working on new material. The band has always used their gifts and successes in music to help others, and one of the organizations that they’ve been a big supporter of is Kids Company in the UK. And, as per tradition, they tend to do a special show each year for Christmas and/or New Year’s, so this year it was another of their “Under 1 Roof” multi-artist events. Sharing the bill with them this year was Lily Allen, Ricky Gervais reprising his character from The Office performing as David Brent and Foregone Conclusion, magician Dynamo, and Rizzle Kicks, with Fearne Cotton hosting the evening, along with some surprise guests like Robbie Williams and Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane.
Everyone knows all of the classic Christmas songs, but what about those that have emerged from the Pop and Rock music world and various subgenres (New Wave, Modern Rock, Punk, Indie, R&B, Hip Hop) from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today? Original songs and creative covers… I think many great songs are lost to time, in that the window in which they might be heard is too small, and then many fall off of the collective pop culture radar. So this is my attempt to put together a list of some of my favorites, though I’m sure there are many others out there that I’d love that I’m not even aware of, or have forgotten about myself. So if you have any recommendations, please post a reader comment below. [Read more…]