Late King of Soul Otis Redding Honored at Whisky A Go-Go
POSTED 11:52 PM, JULY 15, 2014, BY DOUG KOLK
Janis Joplin Stamp Artwork Unveiled
A stamp of the rock singer is due out later this summer
By David Chiu
June 30, 2014 6:05 PM ET
Earlier this year, Rolling Stone reported on a series of musical stamps coming out this year that took years of planning to come to fruition. Now that the Jimi Hendrix stamp has been officially released as the first offering of the United States Postal Service’s Music Icons series, the agency has unveiled the official stamp for the series’ next star Janis Joplin.
According to Linn’s Stamp News, the stamp will be released this August and will feature the singer smiling and wearing shades surrounded by a psychedelic background and lettering evoking the popular font of the Sixties.
A biographical description on the sheet of 16 stamps says: “Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was a groundbreaking singer whose powerful, bluesy voice propelled her to the pinnacle of rock stardom. An icon of the 1960s, she was known for her uninhibited and soulful performances. Joplin is now recognized as one of the greatest rock singers of all time, as well as a pioneer who paved the way for other women in rock music.”
No information on the specific date and location of the stamp issue has been announced.
Joplin, who would have turned 71 this year, and Hendrix are the latest subjects to join the Music Icons series, which had previously honored Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Tejano songstress Lydia Mendoza in 2012.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that more musicians may appear on a U.S. stamp, including John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Bill Monroe, Sarah Vaughan and Tammy Wynette. There are also plans for an issue honoring James Brown and a re-release of the 1993 Elvis Presley stamp for 2015.
Susan McGowan, the USPS director of stamp services, told Rolling Stone that 2015 should see a departure from rock & roll, but declined to reveal which genre will be its focus. “I definitely see that we need to pay a little honor to some other genres that haven’t been covered,” she says. “For example, jazz is something that will be in the foreseeable future, or Motown and types of music that we need to recognize.”
Inside the 10th Johnny Ramone Tribute: Rob Zombie, Fred Armisen, More
“We’re discussing movies and plays,” says Linda Ramone. “But we never lose the cool factor. Johnny loved his legacy.”
By Gavin Edwards
June 26, 2014 2:40 PM ET
“The Ramones were the great American rock band of our time,” says Rob Zombie. “Endlessly copied but never equaled.” The leather-clad jackhammer punk icons broke up in 1996 and Johnny Ramone died in 2004, but in the 10 years since his passing, the guitarist’s widow Linda has been celebrating his memory with an annual tribute bash at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Johnny Ramone
Previous tributes have featured a reunion of the cast of the Ramones movie Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and an unveiling of a Johnny Ramone statue. Now, for the tenth anniversary of Johnny’s death, Zombie will be hosting a screening of his movie The Devil’s Rejects and leading an all-star band (including Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols) through a selection of Ramones covers. Fred Armisen of Portlandia will also be in attendance, doing some songs as his punk-rock doppelganger Ian Rubbish, while Kirk Hammett of Metallica (billed as Kirk Von Hammett) will be displaying his collection of horror-movie posters and memorabilia in the cemetery’s mausoleum. The event will take place on August 24th and benefit cancer research through the Johnny Ramone Foundation and the Center for Applied Medicine at USC. Sadly, no funds will go to pinheads, victims of teenage lobotomies or brats who have been beaten on by baseball bats.
The tribute draws on Johnny’s circle of friends and admirers. Zombie first met Johnny in New York City around 1986, getting his autograph when the Ramones did an in-store appearance at Tower Records, but the two didn’t get to know each other until a decade later. “I really met John when the Ramones were opening for my band White Zombie on tour,” the singer recalls. “John was concerned about how many T-shirts they could sell and if they could hang the Ramones backdrop. I told him they could do anything they wanted. Johnny was the most specific person I ever met. He liked everything exactly perfect, no matter what it was. It was always fun and exciting to watch him order dinner in a restaurant.”
Armisen, meanwhile, began his relationship with the band when he bought the Phil Spector-produced End of the Century in 1980 — his first ever record. “I’ve always been a fan,” he tells Rolling Stone. “That’s where I started!” He also scored the Ramones’ autographs as a teenager, waiting in line at a record convention in New York City. He says he was impressed with how Johnny was the band’s organizer: “He kept it all together, on a professional level. Like a job.” This won’t be Armisen’s first time at Hollywood Forever. “I’ve visited Johnny’s gravesite a lot over the years. What a cool place.”
The Ramones legacy has been fractured since they broke up, partially because of the long-standing antipathy (based on multiple factors, including political beliefs and Linda having dated Joey before marrying Johnny) between Johnny and Joey while they were alive. Linda says that reports of friction between the two bandmates were overstated: “They didn’t argue. If they had been that hateful, they wouldn’t have been able to stay together and tour. Joey used to send Johnny Christmas cards: ‘It’s been a great fucking year.’” Nevertheless, in recent months, she has been working more closely with Mickey Leigh (Joey’s brother and the executor of his estate) and new management to safeguard the memory of the Ramones. “We’re discussing movies and plays,” she says, meaning that a Ramones jukebox musical on Broadway may be in our future. “But we never lose the cool factor. Johnny loved his legacy.”
That might make this year’s bash the final Johnny Ramone tribute. If all goes well on Planet Ramone, future years will feature the band as a whole, rather than individual members. One thing Ramones fans shouldn’t expect is much in the way of unreleased music. “I don’t know how the Beatles do that,” Linda says. “Do they go to somebody’s basement?”
Hip-Hop’s First Jukebox Musical Debuts: Tupac’s ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’
Saul Williams shines as cast of 29 weaves story based on Shakur’s songs
By Christopher R. Weingarten
June 9, 2014 11:15 AM ET
Holler If Ya Hear Me is the first hip-hop jukebox musical in Broadway history — and possibly the first in theater history — a genre that’s been kind to Abba, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Green Day and Fela Kuti. There isn’t a single rapper more suited for the concept than Tupac Shakur, the most emotionally rich, psychologically complex, lyrically candid figure hip-hop has seen its 40-year history. Watching this crew of gifted performers rap, sing and speak his words draws new focus to his cinematic eye.
Agitprop rapper Saul Williams, in the lead role of John, raps with the authority that 19 years of hip-hop and poetry experience can bring and Tonya Pinkins sings with the gusto of a Tony winner. The downside is that Pac’s lyrics are so vivid and evocative and dense that Holler occasionally seems like a story of people telling other stories. It quickly becomes less about whether Holler If Ya Hear Me does 2Pac justice, but whether any musical could ever do hip-hop justice.
Unlike Fela or Jersey Boys, the play not about Pac’s life, but writer Todd Kreidler’s original tale of loss and anger. In turn, 2Pac’s personal writing is turned into something that a cast of 29 can sing. At times it’s disconcerting (how do you turn “Me Against the World” into a duet?) and other times it’s completely triumphant — Williams brings a stunning, note-perfect swell of rage to “Holler If Ya Hear Me.” Hearing Tupac’s words half-rapped, half-sung should, in theory, seem weird, but sound fairly modern in a 2014 full of Drakes, Futures and Ty Dolla $igns — not to mention that the plainspoken-rap-and-guitar style of “Thugz Mansion” foretold sections of modern Nashville. Some songs (“I Get Around” and “California Love”) feel shoehorned in, others (“Thugz Mansion,” “Whatz Next”) seem like they were made for the medium.
So the triumph of the play is in the characters. There’s no single “Pac figure” to be found here. Instead, the whole cast feels like a Herman’s Head-style staging of his many conflicting emotions that worked their way out in his catalog — there’s the beanie-clad hard-head looking for revenge, the preacher pleading for peace, the radical searching for a “true political action,” the repentant hustler who just wants to make it up to his mama.
While this staging won’t shine any new insight into 2Pac’s songs, it’s a loving tribute that captures what they mean — how systemic racism gives way to anger, how change doesn’t easy — and does ambitious work in the process.
Tony nominee Mary Bridget Davies talks about award show fashion, second chances and why she should be on TV with Rachael Ray
By Andrea Simakis, The Plain Dealer
on April 30, 2014 at 1:12 PM, updated April 30, 2014 at 3:19 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio — She didn’t lose her voice playing the titular, belting blues rocker during the Broadway run of “A Night With Janis Joplin,” but Mary Bridget Davies is afraid she might go hoarse fielding phone calls from reporters and well-wishers following Tuesday’s announcement that she’d been nominated for a Tony Award.
Then again, a girl could give herself laryngitis with all the screaming she did that morning, when she learned she’d be one of five women vying for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.
Davies, born and raised in Cleveland, is in fine company: Idina Menzel for “If/Then,” Sutton Foster for “Violet,” Jesse Mueller for “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” and Kelli O’Hara for “The Bridges of Madison County.”
The feeding frenzy has begun. Davies’ agent is forwarding emails from designers offering her congratulations and wondering if she’d wear one of their creations to the Sunday, June 8, ceremony at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Stylists are reaching out, too.
“So, really, I can’t go to Kohl’s and just get a dress and show up Cleveland-style?” she says, issuing a throaty laugh on the phone from New York.
“They’d be like, ‘Wow – the Midwest came to the Tonys!’ ”
As Janis might say, “Ain’t that groovy?”
The nomination is a lovely coda to the troubled story of the bio-musical that opened at Lyceum Theatre last fall, then closed in February, with the promise to cast and crew that it would have a second life off-Broadway at the Gramercy Theatre this spring. But producers abruptly canceled the run earlier this month.
The Cleveland Play House originated a pre-Broadway production of the show, then titled “One Night With Janis Joplin,” in partnership with Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage.
Cat Stephani, who originated the role of the Texas-born beatnik when the show premiered at Oregon’s Portland Center Stage in 2011, bowed out during previews in Cleveland in the summer of 2012.
Davies, living in Lakewood at the time and understudying the part, stepped up to the microphone and channeled the late superstar, delivering a performance so raw, real and in-the-moment that it brought people to their feet again and again.
Once the production moved to Broadway, Davies also moved New York critics, who marveled at her seemingly bottomless vocal power.
“We at Cleveland Play House could not be more excited about Mary Bridget’s nomination for a Tony Award,” says managing director Kevin Moore. “Her performance here at CPH and on Broadway was breathtaking, and so worthy of this recognition – yet another example of Northeast Ohio talent taking the world by storm!”
(Davies had worn Joplin’s velvet bell-bottoms before. Not only did she play the legendary Pearl in the national tour of “Love, Janis” in 2005 – a show that got its start at the Play House in 1999 – the blues siren performed internationally with Joplin’s original band, Big Brother and the Holding Company.)
But back to those Tonys.
Davies hopes the fact that “A Night With Janis Joplin” is no longer on the boards won’t keep producers of the awards show from asking her to perform.
“I hope they do,” says Davies. “And I hope that they would let me bring the guys, because except for a few New York City horn players, they are the exact same core band that played in Cleveland and on the road regionally. It has been our journey, and if they were to ask me to sing, I wouldn’t wanna do it with anybody else – it wouldn’t be right.”
She found out she’d been nominated – as so many do, given the ungodly hour at which the Tony noms are announced – lying in bed in her New York duplex. The hour was 8:30, with she and her boyfriend – from Cleveland, naturally, as Davies is no fool – still trying to steal a few extra Z’s before getting up for work.
Lucy Liu and Jonathan Groff appeared on the screen, ready to read the names of the anointed, “and then Hugh Jackman shows up!” Davies says.
The host of the 68th annual Tony Awards bounded onstage at New York’s Paramount Hotel and crashed the nominations to remind viewers to watch the live broadcast on CBS.
“And then it hit me,” she says. “If I get nominated, I’m gonna meet that guy! I was like, ‘Here’s what’s gonna happen: I’m gonna punch everyone in the face with joy.’ It’s like joy punching … ”
Then she heard her name. She didn’t exactly punch her dozing boyfriend – it was more like a smack, a full slap, fingers splayed.
“Oh my God, oh my God, they said my name!” she screamed.
“You won,” he said groggily. “Congratulations!”
“I didn’t win,” she answered. “I’m nominated. Do you really think they’re going to do the Tony Awards at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, babe?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t understand these people.”
(That is totally understandable. “He’s just a lovely construction worker,” says Davies. “Strong silent type – he just totally levels me out.”)
The first person she called was her mother, Mary Ellen.
“Your daughter is a Tony Award nominee!” Davies said.
As usual, the connection from New York to Cleveland was kind of hinky.
“What?” her mother answered. “Honey, wait, this phone is too loud …” After a weird noise, her mom asked her to repeat herself.
“Well, that’s kind of anti-climactic,” Davies said, “but I don’t care: I. Am. A. Tony. Award. Nominee.”
She was on the horn all Tuesday. “My phone is on fire. It’s so hot, and it’s not working properly.”
She cracks up thinking about it melting down, just so she could walk into a Verizon store and say, in the snootiest of tones, “I just got nominated for a Tony today, and my phone blew up, so give me a new one – and can I be your new sponsor? Can you hear me now? Good!”
She laughs that smoky, Janis laugh.
Whether she wins a trophy or not, she hopes the nomination will bring new opportunities.
“Maybe now I’ll finally get to get on Rachael Ray’s show!” she says. According to fans, those who opine online – and just about everybody who has told her, “You know who you look like?” – Davies and the celebrity chef were separated at birth.
The comparison hit Twitter and then mushroomed into “this Superman theory,” Davies says. People were writing things like, “You will never see Mary Bridget Davies and Rachel Ray in the same room at the same time.”
Or, “I didn’t know Rachael Ray was on Broadway.”
“We had a video ad, in Times Square,” Davies says. “It was incredible. I’d look up, and there would be a video of me singing.”
One day, she was standing there, gazing at her digital doppelganger belting away as Janis, and someone said, “Is that Rachael Ray?”
She just chuckled and kept walking.
The nomination has already opened doors. There is talk “A Night With Janis Joplin” North American tour – plans that can’t help but be bolstered by Davies’ Tony nod. And her cell isn’t just buzzing with congratulatory calls.
“Right before I got on the phone with you, I booked the gala Monday night for 2econd Stage Theatre here in New York City,” she says.
The storied house is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Organizers told her the event would have a rock ‘n’ roll theme. In the audience will be industry artists and heavyweights.
She rattles off some of the attendees excitedly: “the choreographer for ‘If/Then,’ the musical director for ‘Beautiful’ . . .
“They want me, dressed to the nines, to end the whole evening with ‘Piece of My Heart.’”
(She’s also scheduled to perform in Cleveland at the CPH benefit “Mad Men, Music & Martinis,” the theater’s annual fundraiser June 7 – the night before she has to be in New York for the Tonys. CPH brass hope she can still fit the event into her schedule. So does Davies. “I don’t wanna cancel, because how cool would that be – come home, get the kiss on the forehead and then go to the Tonys the next day? I hope I’ll be able to do both.”)
But for now, she’s focusing on her upcoming gig at 2econd Stage. She’s been told the theater is all about second chances, dedicated to putting shows in front of people that they would otherwise not have seen, or shows that closed early, as hers did.
Organizers told her she would be the perfect person to end the gala because, despite the shuttering of her production, she’ll still be able to bring down the house with a song, a fresh Tony nomination to her credit. At 35, she’ll be the belle of the second-chance ball.
“Now I gotta go buy more clothes and go broke!” she says.
You can hear the smile in her voice, even over that worn-out phone.
“It’s a great problem to have.”