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MP3: New Foals "Orient," G.e.R.M. remix
MP3: New Kaiser Cartel "Ready to Go"
Beyond Earth Day: Great Wines for Sustainability
Bannos Rolling Back Prices to Celebrate Heaven on Seven's 30th
LOLLA 2010: Gaga, Strokes, Arcade Fire, Devo, Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu, Phoenix, MGMT, XX, Hot Chip, Jimmy Cliff...
Longman & Eagle Brunch Debuting New Cocktails
Can You Taste the Blood in Your Mouth?
Fun with Words ... Really?
Remember When Music Was Exciting?
Details Names Paul Kahan's Salsa Best in U.S.



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AUGUST 17, 2006
Damn You Heidi Klum!

Alison_pr Just finished watching last night's episode of "Project Runway" on Tivo and I'm pissed and disappointed. I picked Alison to go all the way from the very first show and for them to kick her off and keep that crazy-ass freak Vincent was an obvious production call. The only reason that idiot is still on the show is because he's crazy. Alison has always made gorgeous, incredible clothes and the judges have time after time complimented her on her ability to style the entire look. I mean, Kayne wasn't even in the bottom two and they all hated his piece! I love this show but sometimes the "reality" of reality TV -- how editing and producers' bottom lines come into play -- totally sucks.

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AUGUST 15, 2006
Here Come the Changes

Changes_phone The Changes first full-length, Today is Tonight, is due Sept. 26 from Drama Club Records. The guys have vowed to post one track each week until the album's release. The first song, "In the Dark," is currently streaming on their MySpace page. I should be getting my hands on a copy any day now and when I do, I'll do a proper review. In the meantime, enjoy the track.

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Joel Gott '04 Sauvignon Blanc

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Joel Gott owns one of my favorite wineries in Napa. When I lived in San Francisco, I discovered that once a year, Joel releases a special Zin that everyone goes crazy for and it's pretty much snapped up and gone within a few weeks.

Being so impressed with the Zin (of which he has a few different varities), I was pretty easily convinced to try other wines he produces, including his Cab, which is rich, jammy and great with steak, lamb -- even a cheese plate.

Tonight, I cracked open a bottle of his '04 Sauvignon Blanc -- Three Ranches to go with parmesan-crusted tilapia, roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus that we made. The pairing was perfect. The light, grassy nose led to a slightly acidic, crisp start and a floral finish with a hint of tropical fruit, kiwi, melon and a little honey dew melon. It was a delight and a great bottle of white – in fact, Wine & Spirits magazine Gott's '02 one of the best Sauvignon Blancs around.

Joel Gott's wines are not readily available everywhere, but if you stumble upon any of them, I urge you grab a bottle -- or four. You'll be pleased you did.

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AUGUST 12, 2006
Exclusive Interview: Widespread Panic's John Bell

Johnbelllive Last April, I had the honor of speaking with Widespread Panic lead singer John Bell on his birthday, which coincidentally fell the day after my 35th. The 40-something Athens, Ga.-based singer was mellow, laid back and gearing up to spend a chill day with his wife.

The band was about to release, Earth to America, their first album in 3 years. Their last, 2003's Ball, was released following the death of founding member Michael Houser and reflected the band's melancholy existance. Bell and I chatted about the changes the band had gone through since Mikey's death and how Earth to America seems to be the bright light at the end of that long, dismal tunnel.

I'm posting this interview now to mark the end of Panic's summer tour, which comes to a close this weekend with three sold-out shows in Chicago. I just got home from the show tonight, the second of three and a full-on Saturday night soiree. When I saw them at Chicago Theater 1.5 years ago, it was dark and frustrating and left me somewhat bored. I've talked to other people who were at that show who agreed with me. There was just something off that night.

Tonight's show buried that other experience. Fromt the moment they took the stage, they were different. They've regrouped, grown and have re-energized. Tonight's set opened with "Travelin' Light," which JB mentions in the interview. From there, they slotted in some new songs, but for the most part, it was all about old school Panic.

Continue reading "Exclusive Interview: Widespread Panic's John Bell" »

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AUGUST 09, 2006
Fergie Collaborating with Perry Farrell

Perry Last night I hung out with Perry Farrell at an intimate post-Lolla gathering. We kibbitzed as Jews are known to do and we got down to discussing his new project, Satellite Party, which he describes as "a collective of artists and musicians who attempt to create modern myth [that] surrounds the idea that renaissance artists take over the world through the strength of their creativity." 

Perry told me that some of the artists he's collaborating with on the album are RHCP's Flea and John Frusciante, New Order's Peter Hook and Black Eyed Peas Fergie, who sings with Perry on a couple of tracks. Legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel, Morrissey) is producing. One thing that struck me as funny was that Perry was nervous to tell Lillywhite about something he had done with his pre-recording -- he said something like, "imagine telling Steve Lillywhite what to do." And I'm sitting here thinking, but dude, you're Perry Farrell!

When asked about the vibe, he said it was definitely electronic influenced -- at least at the core -- but at the end of the day it's rock and said to imagine if Nine Inch Nails was all heavenly and not so dark. Um, so pretty much nothing like Nine Inch Nails?!

Like most musicians these days, Perry created a MySpace page -- go visit him because he's lonely. He only has one friend right now, and it's Tom -- and he's friends with everybody! Satellite Party's debut is set to come out on Columbia in February (despite earlier reports that it was coming out this year) with the first single dropping on Oct. 31.

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Jet: Put Your $ Where Your Mouth Is

I'm so glad the new single from Jet sucks

stream it and tell me what you think...

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Vegoose '06: Killers, Petty, Panic, Fiona, J5, Roots & More

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Just came home from an impromptu party for my friends' Lisa and Matt's engagement at the Ritz tonight to find an email with the 2006 Vegoose Lineup. Taking place Oct. 27-31 -- Halloween in Vegas, Baby! -- Vegoose features, like last year, an eclectic roster of bands:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Widespread Panic
The Killers
The Mars Volta
The Black Crowes
Fiona Apple
The Raconteurs
Keller Williams Incident featuring Keller Williams backed by the String Cheese Incident
Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley
Medeski Martin & Wood
The Roots
The Rhythm Devils feat. Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzman, Mike Gordon &  Steve Kimock
G. Love & Special Sauce
Jurassic 5
Galactic
Praxis
Yonder Mountain String Band
Gomez
Built To Spill
Guster
Jim James of My Morning Jacket
Dr. Octagon aka Kool Keith
Band of Horses
Jamie Lidell
The Zutons

Tickets goes on sale Aug. 19 at 10 am PST and more bands, including a bunch of nighttime shows, will be announced soon.

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AUGUST 08, 2006
Robbie Williams: Are You Serious?

Robbie_williams Will Robbie Williams ever make a good song again? "Rudebox," the first single off his forthcoming CD, is streaming on Perez -- and it's lame lame lame. Is he really being serious with this crap? I mean, come on, dude, just come out already and maybe then your creative juices will start flowing again.

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Lollapalooza: What a Wild Weekend!

Fans_1 In April of 2005, I had a fortuitous meeting with three very special people: Lisa, Courtney and Charlie of Capital Sports & Entertainment. That night, they mentioned they were the people behind Austin City Limits and were thinking of launching a music fest of the same sort in Chicago. Immediately I encouraged them to do so and then they threw out what would become a fateful question: What do you think if we called it Lollapalooza?

Lollapalooza? You're kidding right? Ugh, it's so done. That name will never work. Throw a fest, just call it something else.

Little did I know that when I met this trio that they had just come from more or less securing the deal with the city and were out to celebrate. Funny how things work out. Now, two Lollas in, Charlie Jones still, to this day, gives me shit. It has become a famous (or infamous?) line among the promotion team.

Whatever the name, Lollapalooza or Chicago City Limits, this year's festival was a well-organized mix of eclectic acts on nine stages spanning the entire stretch of Grant Park, which may have been a little too big for anyone wanting to catch the start of one band's act in the NE corner of the park and hightail it over to the SW corner to see another.

Logistics aside, let's get down to what really matters: the music.

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My weekend kicked off with a gorgeous set of music by Finnish imports Husky Rescue. Pared down from their studio set to record Country Falls, which apparently had like 20 guest musicians on various tracks, the band drew a small yet eager crowd. I arrived a few songs into the set (it took awhile to get my bearings -- it was a massive, I tell ya) but was immediately pleased. Adorable singer Reeta-Leena Korhola definitely had the crowd's attention as Husky mastermind Marko Nyberg, looking quite like an albino, stood aside. Their country-influenced atmospheric pop worked well in the sweltering heat of day one, but coming from Finland, I don't know how they handled it.

Moving to the south end of the park, we camped out in the artist area and listened to Panic! At the Disco -- I'd never heard them live but had heard good things. Two of the better things that I heard from their set: covers of Radiohead's "Karma Police" and Smashing Pumpkins "Tonight, Tonight."

Continue reading "Lollapalooza: What a Wild Weekend!" »

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AUGUST 06, 2006
Ben Watt Live @ Smart Bar, Chicago

Benwatt Amidst the insanity of Lollapalooza (more on the entire weekend later), Ben Watt dropped into Smart Bar for a set of his magical music making. Ever since I first was introduced to his deep house prowess back when Lazy Dog, vol. 1 first hit, Ben has been my favorite DJ, able to make me move when I don't otherwise feel like it, with the power to turn things on and up. Tonight, he once again proved to me that he still holds that coveted spot.

Before his set, he chilled in the DJ booth, looking almost bored. But when he came on around 1:40 am he immediately turned it up. I spent the entire afternoon trekking around Grant Park at Lolla, and frankly, my body had had it. I had little to no energy, but within 10 minutes of Ben spinning, somehow, miraculously, I was out there dancing. Don't know how. Don't care. All I know is there's something about the music he spins that can get anyone, even the most uncoordinated, out on the dance floor with a fervor and mission to have a good time.

I first saw Lazy Dog, Ben's DJ partnership with Jay Hannan, back in early 2001 at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco. That night, it was a Thursday, had a somewhat prophetic vibe, an energy I rarely had felt anywhere and a crowd mixed gay-straight, black-white, men-women. Just  people out to have a great time. And when Ben dropped "Tracey in My Room," he created an explosion that hit and flowed through the entire space.

Tonight, about midway through his set, he did it again. I've seen him spin now about six times and only the first time did he drop that classic tune featuring the vocals of Tracey Thorn, his wife and partner in Everything But The Girl (please come back already!). But tonight, he sent a chill and collective smile across Smart Bar by dropping in once again -- a surprise to say the least. But it was joined by "A Smarter Man," "Stronger Man," (oops -- just got corrected on title -- that's what I get for writing this at 4 am!) from the first volume of Buzzin' Fly, Ben's current project. That song, feat. vocals by Sananda Maitreya (the former Terence Trent D'Arby), flowed seamlessly between ass-moving deep house rhythms. Earlier it was an Underworld track followed by something by Bjork.

Throughout his set, he created a flow that included his signature Spanish rhythms, Latin grooves, funky bass and familiar vocals. He turns the knobs at just the right time, bringing you up, but teasing you all the same. He can work a room unlike most DJs and he does it with such utter simplicity and fearlessness.

At about 3:15, I had to pull myself off the dance floor. I could easily have stayed, listened, danced and enjoyed, but tomorrow is Sunday, another day of Lollapalooza, and it starts early. My friends, the up-and-coming Chicago outfit Office, filled a last-minute empty slot at 11:45 a.m. and I'm headed out there to show my love and support.

But tonight, tonight I will sleep well with Ms. Tracey and Sir Terence singing lightly in my head. Another great set by Ben Watt, superstar DJ. My No. 1.

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