July 2012

Kelly Joe Phelps: Brother Sinner and the Whale


Black Hen Music

There’s more than a whiff of weirdness around this album. After a decade of adamantly refusing to play his signature slide guitar, the ramblin’ man of the Pacific Northwest chose this collection of songs to return to his bottleneckin’ roots.

While Phelps has always been a deep running river, song titles like “I’ve Been Converted” and “Talkin To Jehovah”, delivered without a sliver of irony, signal spiritual doings afoot in the Phelpsian world.

To get the job done right, KJ returned to longtime collabo Steve Dawson in Vancouver’s The Henhouse Studio for this squirrel ass tight collection.

This is the other kind of summer album, the one with the dust in your throat and sweat in your eyes and the road ahead shimmering silver in the heat is really no escape.

It’d be easy to tag it as Phelps goes Gospel, if it were not for the fact he remains one of the finest finger pickers about and that alone informs every song he touches in very specific ways. Very much a case of the singer not the songs.

Fans are already calling this his best work ever, high praise when you recall previous efforts have made fans of U2’s The Edge and Steve Earle, to mention but two. The new songs are beautifully crafted acoustic gems, layered with nuance and so captivating melodically the message is often lost in the music.

Larry Hoppen Lead Singer of Orleans Dies

Larry Hoppen.jpg

Larry Hoppen, “the voice” of 70’s group Orleans has passed away at the age of 61. The Woodstock, New York band’s biggest song was “Still The One” which, with hits like “Dance With Me’ and ‘Love Takes Time”, cemented the band Orleans place in the history of music in the 70’s.

Hoppen formed Orleans in 1972, with John Hall and Wells Kelly. Hoppen's brother Lance and Jerry Marotta would later join the group, creating the classic-period quintet that released the 1976 album "Waking and Dreaming."

The band charted three top-20 singles in its lifetime, during which Larry Hoppen, vocalist and guitarist, was always a member. This year the band was celebrating 40 years in the business with concerts in New York and Pennsylvania scheduled for July 27 and July 28. These dates have been cancelled but shows for later in the year will go on as scheduled in Hoppen’s “honour.”

In a posting on Hoppen’s official Facebook page, his wife, Patricia Smith Hoppen, wrote: “For those who don’t already know, Larry passed away yesterday. ... For his fans, I am deeply sorry for YOUR loss. I know he will be missed. I will (ask) that my family’s privacy be respected during this horrible time.”

The posting did not cite a cause of death.

Cold Specks Brings Polaris Music Prize Short Listed Album “I Predict A Graceful Expulsion” On Tour Across Canada


Types who bet on the Polaris Prize say there’s serious coin coming down on Cold Specks to take it home. Here’s a chance for folks across the country to check why this is so. Starting this weekend in Calgary, Cold Specks is on the road and coming to a venue somewhere near you.

After a very successful North American tour with Great Lake Swimmers, and with summer festival appearances in Calgary, Guelph, Regina, New Brunswick and B.C. looming as well as headlining club shows in Montreal and Toronto, Cold Specks’ debut album was short listed yesterday for the Polaris Music Prize.

With a voice that evokes the ‘spirit feel’ of Mahalia Jackson and the visceral tones of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Arts & Crafts artist from Etobicoke, Ontario’s sparse arrangements and chain gang rhythms stop you dead in your tracks.


Cold Specks Canadian Festival Dates
July 27/28 – Calgary, AB @ Calgary Folk Festival
July 29 – Guelph, ON @ Hillside Festival
August 3/4/5 – Sackville, NB @ Sappy Fest

August 10/11/12 – Regina, SK @ Regina Folk Festival
August 17/18/19 – Salmon Arm, BC @ Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival

Cold Specks Canadian Headlining Dates
August 7 - Montreal, QC @ Le Divan Orange 

August 8 - Toronto, ON @ The Great Hall

Usher Stepson Succumbs to Injuries

Kyle Glover and Usher.jpg

The stepson of the Grammy award-winning pop star Usher has died, two weeks after the child was critically injured in a boating accident.

Willie A. Watkins funeral home in Atlanta, Georgia confirmed they had handled funeral arrangements for 11-year-old Kyle Glover. Glover was a son of Usher's ex-wife Tameka Foster. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the boy died July 14, at an Atlanta area hospital. The boy was run over July 6 by a personal watercraft on Lake Lanier, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He had been hospitalized with a major brain injury. Lake Lanier is about 40 miles (65 kilometres) northeast of Atlanta. Authorities said the accident continues under investigation.

Before the accident, Usher, whose full name is Usher Raymond, had been in a legal battle with his ex-wife arising from a custody fight over the two sons they had together.
Condolences flooded social media sites late Saturday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It said those who sent tweets of condolences included Justin Bieber, singer Toni Braxton and singer Eric Benet, among others.

Usher, long one of the top-selling singers and songwriters, has won numerous Grammy awards. He gained initial acclaim in the late '90s with albums such as "My Way" and went on to release the 10-million-plus selling 2004 album "Confessions" that firmly established him as a superstar, among several others including "Raymond v. Raymond" in 2010.

Michael Jackson Saga Continues with Guardianship Changes

Katherine Jackson.jpg

TJ Jackson, the 34-year-old son of Michael's brother Tito, has been granted temporary guardianship of Michael's three children, Prince Michel II, Paris and Blanket.

Judge Mitch Beckloff suspended the guardianship of Katherine Jackson, the children's grandmother, not for wrongdoing but because he believes she was prevented from doing her guardianship duties by "intentional act from third parties." The parties in question are presumed to be Randy, Jermaine and Janet Jackson.TJ is expected to file for permanent guardianship shortly.

The trouble in the Jackson family looks serious and the lawyer for Michael's Estate has said the executors are very concerned for the children and for Katherine.
Timeline of the events are as follows:
Late on Saturday, July 20, Jackson Family Matriarch Katherine Jackson was reported missing to law enforcement by a nephew.

Reports that the Jackson family had been feuding, with Randy, Jermaine, Tito, Rebbie and Janet Jackson seeking to overthrow the executors of the Michael Jackson Estate.
Michael’s will reportedly has left everything to Katherine and to his three children - Paris, Blanket and Prince Michael II - and media is speculating that his siblings want some of the takings.

A letter that leaked online, written by those mentioned above, claimed that John Branca and John McClain had "taken advantage of the family ... and have stressed out Katherine Jackson so much, that she recently suffered a ‘mini-stroke.’" Tito later distanced himself from his siblings' efforts to have the executors removed.