Monthly Archives: April 2020

Dierks Bentley: ‘It Won’t Be Like This Forever’

Like many people with grade-school kids, Dierks Bentley and his family were on spring break when everything began shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The five of them had traveled to Colorado for skiing and hiking, and remained there for several weeks as schools switched to online learning and Bentley’s touring obligations were all postponed indefinitely. Bentley and his family have since returned to Nashville; we caught up with him while he was still out West and asked him a few of our quarantine questions.

What are you doing with your unexpected time at home?
I’ve been with my family for a month, just the five of us. No one else has stepped into our house. But corona with kids is a whole other level. And luckily my kids are at an age — 6, 9, and 11 — they’re at a pretty good age to be homebound. They’re self-sufficient but not overly missing their friends, as 8th graders and up probably would be and are. It’s been awesome family time, trying to find the silver lining for us, but super conscious of how hard this is for so many families out there, so many couples. There’s a dark side to this stuff too, with kids who are being abused at home. It can go to so many places. I just feel very blessed to be here with my family and I know it won’t be like this forever, so we’re just making the most of the time together, getting outdoors and doing adventures when we can, just staying safe.

What kind of music do you turn to in times of crisis for comfort, and why?
For me, I love bluegrass music, so Tim O’Brien. Sam Bush radio is pretty good on Spotify. My kids have a lot of control over the radio so we listen to a lot of Lizzo, a lot of Maggie Rogers, a lot of Sia. A lot of pop stuff. But if I’m out here on the front porch, I’m just out here messing around with a mandolin or something. I’m playing music. If I’m listening, it’s mostly acoustic based stuff.

It looked like it was still pretty cold outside for your performance for the “ACM Presents: Our Country” special.
Oh yeah, there’s still snow. There’s snow everywhere right now. I just hiked up the mountain this morning right before I called you. I saw a lot of snow left. But it’s weird here. When it’s 50 degrees here, it feels like 85 in Nashville. Right now it’s 30 degrees, but it feels like it’s 60. It’s hot. I think it’s being so high up — the elevation is about 9000 feet — it just feels hotter when the temperature’s a bit lower. I came out here for spring break and everything hit and there’s no work and no school and no ability to socialize. It was like, well, I don’t see a point in going back to Nashville. I just wanted to stay in place, do what the officials are asking us to do, avoiding unnecessary travel. It was like, well, we’ll just stay here.

Anything else you want to say to your fans right now?
I’m just worried about people. The stress, the financial stress that some people must be going through. Conversations around the dinner table worried about paying rent, mortgages and all that. I hope everyone is hanging in there, and hopefully we’ll all… my manager was working on a Nashville Rising event for the tornado and all of a sudden this hit. We’re gonna come together and try to help everyone out with our country family. I just hope everyone’s hanging in there.

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Steve Martin is the “Banjo Balm” in the Eye of the Storm

The great Steve Martin is here to remind us that the percussive arts — namely just one man and his banjo in the woods — can have healing properties.

The actor, comedian, and longtime champion of bluegrass has been taking to Twitter with his Deering Clawgrass banjo and clawhammer technique to distract us in the best way, if only for 80 seconds at a time.

Steve originally recorded “The Great Remember for Nancy” with his band, Steep Canyon Rangers, for 2011’s Rare Bird Alert.  The song is dedicated to Martin Short’s late wife, Nancy Jane Dolman, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010. He plays the finale of the instrumental track below in the last video.

Timely Billy Gibbons Video Unearthed – Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’

Missin Yo’ Kissin’,” a performance video shot towards the end of Billy F Gibbons’ 2018 tour has surfaced and been posted. Its relevance to the current circumstance of quarantine/shelter-in-place is implicit. The song, the creation of the video and the discovery of that video last week were all truly serendipitous.

November 11, 2018 found the ZZ Top front man at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio, TX for a tour date in support of his then-recently released solo album The Big Bad Blues. The road band consisted of Gibbons (guitar), Matt Sorum (drums) and Austin Hanks (guitar), along with the participation of Billy’s long-time guitar tech, Elwood Francis (harmonica).

At that afternoon’s soundcheck, Sorum was introduced to Harry Reese by the venue’s sound man. Reese, as it happens, is a Shiner, TX-based photographer/videographer whose resume includes assignments with Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Stone Temple Pilots. He was equipped that day to do a one man-four camera shoot of the show. His services were engaged on the spot to chronicle the performance of “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’,” one of the group’s stand out numbers. Harry situated two stationary GoPro cameras on Sorum’s drum stand and documented the proceedings as he scurried around the stage with two hand-held cameras. Once the tour concluded, the video was forgotten though The Big Bad Blues was not. It went on to win Best Blues Rock Album at the 2019 Blues Music Awards.

Gibbons was unable to attend the BMA ceremonies in Memphis last year due to a ZZ Top performance conflict but Gilligan Stillwater, Billy’s wife, most appropriately accepted the award on his behalf. The song was actually written by “Miz Gilly” who came up with it while waiting in the lobby of Foam Box Studios in Houston where the album was recorded. Through the control room window, Billy noticed her scribbling in a note book. That scribbling turned out to be the lyrics for “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’” which was added to The Big Bad Blues tune stack immediately thereafter. After the song was recorded Billy, asked the rhetorical question, “She was writing that about me, wasn’t she?!?”

Just last week, Sorum remembered the video. He unearthed the hard-drive and shared it with Billy whose social media team posted it immediately. Says Gibbons, “It’s fortuitous that Matt remembered the video and fished it out of his stick bag last week. Now, more than ever, this is an exemplar of our go-to phrase, ‘Blues You Can Use’.”

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Billy F Gibbons

*Feature image captured from YouTube

Watch The Pathway To Paris Earth Day 50 Livestream With Cat Power, Michael Stipe, Patti Smith, & More

The 50th annual Earth Day took place on Wednesday of last week, but the celebration of our planet is not over yet. Today, Pathway To Paris — a charity founded by Patti Smith’s daughter — is hosting a livestream over on Instagram Live. It’ll be happening from 4PM to 8PM EST over on Instagram Live, and Patti Smith, Cat Power, Michael Stipe, Flea, Jim Jarmusch, Tony Hawk, Johnny Depp, Rain Phoenix, Nikolai Fraiture, and more will be on-hand to perform.

“As humanity faces an unknown future, we must recognize the fact that we simply cannot go back to our behavior from before. Both as individuals and as a globe, we are in a time of reflection, and now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to make great change,” an announcement about the event reads. “Climate change is a global concern, and we have seen with Covid-19 what can happen when the world truly works together to come up with solutions in a time of crisis.”

You can watch the event here on the Instagram app and check out the schedule below.

Dion’s New Star-Studded Album Sets a New Blues-Rock Bar Height

“We’re all in this together” has become the clarion call of the coronavirus. Dion’s Blues with Friends to be released June 5th is a jaw dropping example of this worldwide phenomenon. Not since 1985’s We Are The World has there been such an ecumenical superstar statement for global harmony. This new album two years in the making brings together in one hour-long CD a jaw dropping collection of great artists who cut through prejudices about race, class, musical genres, status, religion, and popularity to produce a CD that is wildly eclectic but at the same time focused in its presentation.

Not since John Lee Hooker’s career high water mark The Healer in 1989 with its many guests, has a blues-rock album more explicitly set the bar height for proving that blues is the inspiration for an entire palette as America’s corner stone for the vast library of pop music influences.

From Billy Gibbons to Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen to Sonny Landreth, Jeff Beck to Brian Setzer, Van Morrison to Joe Bonamassa, Samantha Fish to Jimmy Vivino, Friends of Blues is a cross-generational gumbo of artists, all under the wing of Dion DiMucci, a legacy artist who himself for almost six decades has represented the vast spectrum on the American songbook from his doo wop hits of the 50s like “Runaround Sue” to his trio of 21st century blues albums Bronx in Blues  (2006). Son of Skip James (2007) and Tank Full of Blues (2012).

The 14-cut CD stands tall as a contemporary statement, but it works like an old-fashioned album in that it can be listened to in one continuous setting in spite of the plethora of guest stars. Think of it as you would binging through a 24-episide block of a Netflix series, 14 cuts all written or co-written by Dion. This is his album, and if it were a blindfold test you could almost believe the same artists are backing him on every cut, except you can feel each artist being inspired by the other. These are legacy personalities who are getting off on each other.

Bob Dylan wrote the liner notes: “Dion knows how to sing, and he knows just the right way to craft these songs, these blues songs. He’s got some friends here to help him out, some true luminaries. But in the end, it’s Dion by himself alone, and that masterful voice of his that will keep you returning to share these Blues songs with him.”

Six singles from the album will be released between April 24th and May 29th.

“Blues Comin’ On” with Joe Bonamassa on April 24th: Both Bonamassa and Dion have been creating ageless music since they were children. Here Bonamassa takes his familiar splaying runs, but it’s all about Dion. His baby is waiting for a train in the rain. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think the blues was comin’ on.”

 “Hymn To Him” with Patti Scialfa & Bruce Springsteen on May 1st. Dion is a Christian who regularly talks to his father in heaven. With Springsteen and Patti at his side, he takes his religion to a higher level without ever preaching.

“Bam Bang Boom” (with Billy Gibbons) on May 8th: In the song she’s Caroline, but this is really about Dion’s wife Susan with whom he’s been married for more than half a century. “Little girl, you saved my soul. I was hoping you’d ease my broken mind.” What needs to be said about Billy Gibbons? Hard and on target as always.

 “I Got Nothin’” with Van Morrison & Joe Louis Walker on May 15th: It’s hard to tell where Dion stops and Van begins. One of the most underrated guitarists in blues, Joe Louis Walker is exquisite. No grandstanding here. The music is the message, and the message is “I know I can love you, baby, more than any other Jack.”

 “Can’t Start Over Again” with Jeff Beck on May 22nd: Jeff Beck is the consummate chameleon on guitar. Here, he’s supporting a country-flavored song that’s slow and breathtakingly beautiful. Dion’s plaintive call: “But why would she come back to Memphis again. Why would she come back to me? I can’t start over again.”

 “Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)” with Paul Simon on May 29th: Dion, Paul Simon and Sam Cooke meet in neverland and their message rings as true today as when Dion walked with Sam Cooke in the early 60s: “You were the star standing in the light that won you nothing on the street at night.”

Listening to this album for me is like touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I feel like I’m living my life over again in a microcosm. It may have been full of troubles, but the epiphanies shine through. 

The album is available for pre-order with 10% of all profits donated back to the Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation.

Answers to the Question, “What Songs Influenced The Beatles the Most?”

Marc Platt, songwriter & author of How The Beatles Did It weighs in with some persuasive answers.


John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, while writing songs for The Beatles, all were able to brilliantly synthesize what was happening in their culture and the musical currency of the day with their own ingenious new directions in songwriting.

But what songs then had the most impact on them, and directly influenced their songwriting to shape their miraculous catalog? Let’s take a look, beginning at the very start of their ascent to what they called the “toppermost of the toppermost,” the summit of songwriting success.

“Please Please Me.”

Lennon wrote it soon after hanging out with Roy Orbison, when the band was touring the United Kingdom with the great Texas singer. The song started out as an Orbison-like ballad before George Martin suggested speeding it up. Lennon wrote the lyrics with the word play he knew from childhood when his mother Julia would sing him Bing Crosby’s version of “Please.” We have not one, but two influences on their first UK #1 hit song.

Much has been written and discussed regarding Paul McCartney’s youth and love for music hall and Broadway songs. The Beatles’ Hamburg and early Liverpool sets were plastered with songs like “Til There Was You,” “Love Me Tender,” “Sheik of Araby” and “Ain’t She Sweet.” These obvious influences would show up on McCartney songs like “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Honey Pie” and “Golden Slumbers.” Sir Paul’s father was a musician and played in jazz bands in the 1940’s and 1950’s and always had music in the home that Paul would draw on.

“Love Me Do.”

It was the first official Parlophone 45rpm release for the band. Reaching #17 on the charts, its blues style is reminiscent of Ray Charles, who was a big influence on the Mersey Beat bands of Liverpool. His “What’d I Say” was covered by everyone in the pubs and The Beatles covered it themselves on the BBC Recordings. The marriage of Ray Charles and The Everly Brothers on this track is great, especially coupled with the simplicity of Buddy Holly, who both Paul and John said influenced the first 40 Beatles songs.

“P.S. I Love You.”
Written by Paul, it was inspired by the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” by Luther Dixon and Florence Greenberg, according to John in his Playboy interview with David Scheff. “That’s Paul’s song, said John. “He was trying to write a “Soldier Boy” like the Shirelles. He wrote that in Germany, or when we were going to and from Hamburg.

“All I’ve Got To Do” is another Lennon-driven song that has a lot of Smokey Robinson traits throughout. John and Paul were truly starting to come into their own. You can easily hear Smokey covering this song himself.

“Don’t Bother Me” is the first-credited George Harrison composition to appear on a Beatles record. With a Cliff Richards-esque feel to it, it has distinctively biting lyrics like those George would later perfect in songs like “Taxman.”

“I Saw Her Standing There”:  “Here’s one example of a bit I pinched from someone,” said McCartney. “I used the bass riff from ‘Talkin’ About You’ by Chuck Berry. I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fit our number perfectly. Even now, when I tell people, I find few of them believe me; therefore, I maintain that a bass riff hasn’t got to be original.” (From Bill Harry’s The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia.)

“There’s a Place” was inspired by Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim’s classic “Somewhere” from ‘West Side Story.’ McCartney acknowledged that he lifted the title directly from the show tune, which famously begins, “There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us.” Though never officially confirmed, it’s often been suggested that “Somewhere” was inspired by “Over The Rainbow,” by Arlen & Harburg from The Wizard of Oz.

“This Boy” has direct ties to Smokey Robinson’s “I’ve Been Good To You.” The middle-eight is almost identical musically (not lyrically) in its form and emotional bite.

“Baby’s in Black” has Everly Brothers’-type harmonies coupled with those Beatles pop sensibilities. The song was recorded as a waltz in 6/8 time. McCartney admitted often that he and Lennon would fantasize about being Phil and Don Everly. Most of their early songs were singalongs in the Everly Brothers tradition with similar harmony patterns.

“I Don’t Want To Spoil the Party,” “No Reply” and “I’m a Loser” are all Beatles For Sale John Lennon-driven tracks inspired by The Beatles’ hero and friend Bob Dylan. All three songs are introspective and represent Lennon in his domestic married father role. Lennon called this his “Fat John” period, when he was home a lot, watching a lot of daytime television and combing the newspapers and magazines for inspiration. He was obsessed with 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which colors several songs from late 1964 throughout his 1965 output, transforming his idea of what songs could contain. “Before hearing Dylan,” Lennon said, “I never thought you could put your real feelings into a pop song.”

“I Feel Fine” is famous for being the first Beatles song to use feedback. Lennon and Harrison both credited the guitar riff to a 1961 Bobby Parker song called “Watch Your Step,” traces of which can be heard also in “Day Tripper.” The Beatles always said they could nick ideas from other recording artists with the best of them. [James Taylor admitted, in this magazine, that his song “Something In The Way She Moves,” which inspired George Harrison’s “Something,” was itself inspired in part by The Beatles, and by this song specifically; its chorus ends with the words “and I feel fine.” ]

“Good Day Sunshine.” McCartney credits John Sebastian and his band the Lovin’ Spoonful for happy song. If you listen to their song “Daydream” and “Good Day Sunshine” side-by-side, you can feel the vibe of similarity, though the songs are nothing alike musically or lyrically.

“Day Tripper,” referenced earlier with Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step,” seems to be another one inspired by Roy Orbison, with whom the band toured  in 1963. It’s said that he was working on his huge megahit “Pretty Woman” on the tour bus. That song seems like an obvious influence, with its bluesy hook, on “Day Tripper.” Listen to both songs back to back. You will hear it.

“Helter Skelter.” McCartney has mentioned The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” as an impetus for the writing of this 1968 classic rocker. Paul and the other Beatles also were huge Jimi Hendrix fans, and it seems unlikely that his classic “Purple Haze” was not also an influence on this sound and spirit of this song; listen to both side-by-side and see if you agree. There are musical sections that are identical.

Hendrix also greatly loved The Beatles and kept that no secret, famously delighting the band at London’s Savile Theater in 1967 when he performed the title track from Sgt. Pepper three days after its release.

This article is not intended to be the definitive word on The Beatles’ influences. It is more like a starter. Listen to all these songs and the ones suggested as possible influencers. Then do your own sleuthing, and see if we got it right.

For How The Beatles Did It by Marc Platt, go to Beatles book.

Marc Platt is the author of the eBook, How The Beatles Did It. A songwriter and recording artist, he also manages the California rock band The Tearaways, featuring the legendary Clem Burke, drummer for Blondie.

Watch The Weeklings Spot-On Cover Of “All You Need Is Love”

This spot-on re-creation of the Beatles classic “All You Need Is Love” by New Jersey’s The Weeklings will have you smiling and longing for simpler times.

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The Weeklings, comprised of Jersey stalwarts Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia, thrive on Beatles-inspired power-pop originals, with tight, cohesive vocal harmonies and superb musicianship. You can also hear them nail the more obscure Beatles cuts and power-pop covers to the tee. The foursome began several years ago as a sometime project, squeezed in between each member’s other’s gigs, until the band took off in popularity. Their latest album, entitled 3, is a collection of 11 songs, including a cover of The Easybeats classic “Friday On My Mind,” featuring Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.

The always-busy Burtnik is most noted for writing “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” with Patty Smyth, as well as a long critically–acclaimed solo career. He’s also a member of Styx and The Orchestra. The Weeklings also spend time performing with Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg at venues across the country.

For their “All You Need Is Love” tribute, The Weeklings added a horn and string ensemble, who deftly weave in and out of the track. Rather than fading out, the Weeklings take their cue from the original version’s famous “She Loves You” outro adlib, ending full stop with a perfectly harmonized “yeah, yeah YEAHHHH.”

“All You Need Is Love” follows their excellent cover of the Wonders “That Thing You Do” which they released days after songwriter Adam Schlesinger passed from the effects of Coronavirus. You can view that video here.

Taylor Swift Blasts Scooter Braun And Soros Family Over “Shameless” Unauthorized Album Release

Taylor Swift is still feuding with music manager Scooter Braun and her former record label, Big Machine, over the rights to her music. “I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is putting out an ‘album’ of live performances of mine tonight,” she wrote on her Instagram story today. “This recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was 18. Big Machine has listed the date as a 2017 release but they’re actually releasing it tonight at midnight.”

“I’m always honest with you guys about this stuff so I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me,” Swift continued. “It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and The Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money ? In my opinion…Just another case of shameless greed in the time of Coronavirus. So tasteless, but very transparent.”

Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings bought Taylor Swift’s masters and the rest of Big Machine’s catalog last year. Swift responded by saying she was “sad and grossed out” by the sale, calling it a “worst case scenario” and continuing to exchange heated words with Braun and her former label boss Scott Borchetta. Things haven’t really gotten much better since then, and Braun has said that his family has received “numerous death threats” over the dispute.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift Decries Impending Release of Unauthorized 2008 Live Album

Taylor Swift turned to social media Thursday to warn fans about the impending arrival of a 2008 live album, a release that she did not authorize but is the byproduct of her former label Big Machine’s deal with music manager Scooter Braun.

Earlier Thursday, fans noticed that a release called Live From Clear Channel Stripped 2008 appeared on Swift’s streaming service profiles without warning; the album’s release date says 2017. 

“I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is putting out an ‘album’ of live performances of mine tonight,” Swift wrote on Instagram. “This recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was 18. Big Machine has listed the date as a 2017 release but they’re actually releasing it at midnight.”

Swift continued, “I’m always honest with you guys about this stuff so I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me.” The singer then mocked Braun and his financial backers in the Big Machine purchase, writing that “paying $330 million for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money.”

Swift’s rejection of the live album is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Swift and Braun following his purchase of the Big Machine label and its music, including Swift’s master recordings; Swift has since moved to Universal, which released her 2019 LP Lover. Swift plans to re-record her pre-Lover albums following the sale of Big Machine to Braun, who she accused of bullying her through his management of Justin Bieber and Kanye West.

“In my opinion … Just another case of shameless greed in the time of coronavirus,” Swift added. “So tasteless, but very transparent.”

Neither Braun nor a rep for Big Machine immediately responded to requests for comment. A rep for IHeartMedia said the company was not aware of the release.

Read Swift’s letter to fans below:

Watch: Rolling Stones Release Single that Resonates with Current Times

The Rolling Stones have surprised fans with a new song called “Living In A Ghost Town.” It’s their first in eight years, which they started working on pre-pandemic and wrapped up remotely during isolation.

“Living In A Ghost Town” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, created and recorded in Los Angeles and London. “We cut this track well over a year ago in LA for a new album, an ongoing thing, and then shit hit the fan. Mick and I decided this one really needed to go to work right now and so here you have it,” Keith Richards said.

Last Sunday, the Stones performed together from their respective homes on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for One World: Together at Home, a concert to benefit charities and the World Health Organization.

Their No Filter tour began in September 2017, with the next leg scheduled for North America in early May. The band had to postpone due to the pandemic, and no dates have been rescheduled yet.

Reggae-flavored and true to their signature blues thump (and Jagger’s slow-burning harmonica), “Living in a Ghost Town” sounds like it could have been a previously unreleased cut from the band’s much earlier recording sessions. And the lyrics clearly apropos to the feelings of missed moments in this present day.

Once this place was humming

And the air was full of drumming

The sound of cymbals crashing

Glasses were all smashing

Trumpets were all screaming

Saxophones were blaring

Nobody was caring if it’s day or night

I’m a ghost Living in a ghost town

I’m going nowhere

Shut up all alone

So much time to lose

Just staring at my phone

Watch the official video:

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