Book Review: Barney Hoskyns “Small Town Talk”

“Small Town Talk Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock”

Author: Barney Hoskyns
Publisher: Da Capo
Hardcover: 402 pages

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In the 1960’s when musicians in the New York City folk scene decided to “get it together in the country,” they headed to Woodstock. There manager Alan Grossman established his personal fiefdom of studios and restaurants where the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Butterfield and Todd Rundgren mixed and mingled with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. “Small Town Talk” tells Woodstock’s story from its earliest days as a bohemian arts colony to its ongoing life as a cultural satellite of New York City.

Author Barney Hoskyns delves deep into a period of time when some of the period’s biggest singer/songwriters were leaving the crowded cities for the peaceful wooded areas which lay waiting just a few hours away. Tons of great stories are heard here for the first time as the book evolves just as the scene in the Catskills did. As you read page after page you never know who you are going to bump into from that time period which was something I found kept me looking forward to that next page. Hoskyns doesn’t only include just the big players of the time but does a great job of incorporating the community that this scene engulfed and how that era shaped what the town became and how it still remains to this day. “Small Town Talk” is simply not just a book for fans of the 60’s or its accompanying soundtrack as it has a little something for everyone. Woodstock was and is more than just a mud filled 3 day music fest and Barney Hoskyns latest book proves that.

Social Distortion’s Jonny Wickersham talks about debut solo release “Salvation Town”

Photo by Erika Harding

“Salvation Town” is the debut solo release from Social Distortion guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Produced by David Kalish the album is an interesting departure from Wickersham’s previous body of work as the album is packed full of acoustical performances. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jonny recently about the album and what it was like working with Jackson Browne.

Adam Lawton:Can you give us a little background on your new solo album?
Jonny Wickersham: I started recording the album awhile back and it’s probably been 3 years now since we first started working on it. At the time when I started Social Distortion was very busy promoting and touring behind the “Hard Times and Nursery Rhythms” album. I didn’t initially have a lot of time to work on things. When I went in to record the first track it ended up being more than just working on the song but it was a chance for me to work with one of my idols, Pete Thomas who was Elvis Costello’s guy on drums. Once we finally got started things moved along pretty well and the whole experience was just great. I was really inspired by all the people who were willing to work with me on this album.

AL: What do you think was the main reason you waited until now to release a solo album?
JW: My good friend David Kalish who produced the album was always on me about doing a solo record. I kept putting it off because I didn’t think it was something I could do. I had always written songs however I never had any other vehicle to do them other than with the bands that I was in. I would write material and whether it was Mike Ness or the Cadillac Tramps or Duane Peters they would take what they liked from what I had brought in and then add their own parts especially, when it came to lyrics. I had never really learned to sell one of my songs or perform it. There’s a big difference between being in the recording studio and singing a song and being up in front of a crowd and playing. Then those two things are completely different from me sitting in my living room with an acoustic guitar performing for my cat. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of the guest performers that appear on the record?
JW: The guest performers were something I didn’t put a lot of thought in to beforehand. Things just sort of happened off the cuff. I was certainly a fan of everyone involved and really worked out on a song to song basis. We did this record differently than what I am used to. I am used to working up songs as a band, demoing them and then going down to the studio to record the tracks. The bass and drums lay down a foundation and then everything else is built on top of that. There is a process to the whole thing. With “Salvation Town” it was much different. We laid down some acoustic guitar to a click track and then usually just Dave and I would go back and add a simple drum beat and bass line. From there we would try and think ahead of what the song could be. We would just have these ideas of about who might be able to add something really cool to the tracks. We ended up getting David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and his two sons David Jr. and Vincent, Gaby Moreno who was just so great and of course Jackson Browne. The song Jackson appears on is one that I have had for quite some time. It started out as straight ahead punk sounding song but with this being a different record I wanted to give it a different style. As we were working on it I said to David that I thought it could be Jackson Browne song. I never thought Jackson would be a possibility but David called me the day after mentioning and said that Jackson was down for it. I couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later Jackson came in to do his parts. Everything happened very organically. Having Jackson Browne and David Lindley on my album is just gnarly! (Laughs)

AL: Was there any point during the three years of working on the album that you got discouraged?
JW: There were so many discouraging times that I can’t even count. I am a stickler and very detail oriented. I am also one of those guys that have to exhaust every possibility so I was driving David crazy with this thing however; I think we balanced each other out perfectly in the studio. I wanted to make a good record that shows where I am at in my life while reflecting my influences. I didn’t want things to be over produced but at the same time I didn’t want it to sound like a demo. There were times where I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s when I would get sketchy. It was all new to me. Fortunately over the years I have learned that you have to let things take their course.

AL: Do you have any plans to tour behind the release?
JW: Yes! As much as possible. We just recently played at South by South West. With the exception of the aweful tragedy that happened outside of the venue where we were playing the show was really great. It was trip being out there front and center. Every night I am always worried about how I am going to sound. (Laughs)

CD Review: Jonny Two Bags “Salvation Town”

“Salvation Town”
Jonny Two Bags
Isotone Records
Produced by: David Kalish
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Former U.S. Bombs and current Social Distortion guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham has just released his debut solo album titled “Salvation Town”. The album features 10 stripped down originals that were produced by veteran producer David Kalish. The album is being released via Isotone records and along with Wickersham features guest appearances by David Lindley, Pete Thomas and legendary singer songwriter Jackson Browne.

I really enjoy when guys like Jonny Two Bags are able to step outside of their comfort zone and in to the lime light. Not only does it show tremendous character but for me it elevates them to whole new level of musicianship. A good example of this is “Salvation Town”. Though this may be Jonny’s debut release it’s as if he is a seasoned pro. Half Cash and half Dylan Jonny’s voice is familiar yet fresh while the instrumentation is catchy and keeps your attention throughout all 10 tracks. Tracks such as “One Foot in the Gutter” and “Hope Dies Hard” were personal favorites as each was stylistically different yet seemed to be well crafted and thought out. Other notable tracks worth checking out were the accordion backed “Clay Wheels” and “Then You Stand Alone” which features a guest performance by none other than Jackson Browne.

Though very different from the hard and fast punk music Jonny is normally associated with “Salvation Town” does a great job showcasing a completely different side of Jonny’s musical style making this album certainly worth checking out.

Track Listing:
1.) One Foot In the Gutter
2.) Avenues
3.) Then You Stand Alone
4.) Clay Wheels
5.) Forlorn Walls
6.) Wayward Cain
7.) Ghosts
8.) Hope Dies Hard
9.) Alone Tonight
10.) The Way It Goes

Book Review “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”

Author/Illustrator: Helen Ward
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Templar
Release Date: September 11, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” is such a wonderful story for kids and should be a must have in every household. It is gorgeously illustrated and poetically written and perfectly set in a 1930s-era city at Christmastime.  It is a great way to get in the festive mood for the holidays. It one of those book that you just want to read again the minute you finish it and tell everyone to do the same. It is a wonderful retelling of one of Aesop’s Fables and in such a unique way.

Premise: “Rediscover the tale of the simple country mouse, magically retold by Helen Ward. Beguiled by his cousin’s amazing tales, the country mouse visits the electric city. Unfortunately the town mouse forgot to mention that the city has a lot of noise, tall buildings . . . and dangerous dogs! Helen Ward’s 1930s New York at Christmas is at once gorgeous and frighteningly busy. In the end the reader understands both why the town mouse loves his exciting life and why the country mouse is content with his peaceful home.”

The watercolor illustrations are very eye-catching and really enhance the 1930s-era city at Christmas-time.  It is very stunning.  Simple yet very elegant. I can’t wait to share this book with my daughter. I have a feeling that we will be keeping this book very close to the bed since I think it will be a must-read. As wife and myself have grown up with this story, I think it is only write that we continue the trend.  I hope others will do the same, not just during Christmas but throughout the year, as I am sure we will.

Ricky J talks about album “Paint the Town”

Ricky J is a singer/songwriter whose album “Paint the Town” hit the Canadian music charts at #3. His latest single “One Drop” is currently also making its way up the charts. Media Mikes had a chance to ask Ricky a few questions about the album and his involvement with the internet site Cheaterville.com.

Adam Lawton: What made you want to get into music?
Ricky J: I was always into music for some reason. My parents always had music playing around. I always felt a strong connection to music. It’s like a gut feeling that’s kind of hard to explain.

AL: Can you tell us about your latest video/single “One Drop”?
RJ: “One drop” is my current single in Canada off my current album “Paint the Town”. The album has been #3 on the hit charts in Canada. I’m still working the single so I can say we are still building and pushing that song. “One Drop” came about through my co writer DatDude back in Montreal. He had an idea started that he showed me and I came on and we wrote pretty much the entire song together. The aim was to get a Taio Cruz vibe but with my swag and vibe on it. The song is about how there are some girls that you can buy them everything and there are some girls who just want to go out and have fun. They are the girls who don’t care about money or status.

AL: Can you tell us about your work with cheaterville.com?
RJ: Cheaterville! I Love that site. The owner James is a cool dude. Here is a guy who got cheated on and based a site out of it. (Laughs) CheaterVille was looking for an anthem for their site and we connected through mutual friends. I wanted to give them an anthem that was NOT cheesy and not too cliché. I wanted the song to be a little more real. I produced and wrote this song with Sibley who is another HOT L.A artist. I took some of my thoughts and also based it on some situations people I know were kind of going through. Cheaterville wanted it to be something that would work for their site, for radio and for clubs. Don’t forget the song is on iTunes now! (plug plug).

AL: How would you describe you latest album?
RJ: “Paint the town” is a feel good album. It hits you with a little bit of all my influences. The album makes you want to get up and move. Expect a good time with some good music.

AL: Where is the best place for people to go to keep up with your latest news and releases?
RJ: Fans can always check out my music on iTunes. For anybody that wants to check out my music videos or all the online content I have they can go to  www.youtubec.com/rickyjmusic and or all the readers can show their support and follow me on www.twitter.com/officialrickyj

SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Roger Waters to launch new Pink Floyd Channel


Tune in to SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Roger Waters LIVE on June 27 at 12pm ET for the launch of SiriusXM’s new Pink Floyd Channel (Sirius channel 142 and XM channel 43). The special will also air on Deep Tracks (channel 27). You’ll hear the founding member and principal songwriter of Pink Floyd sit down for a rare Q&A session with a select group of SiriusXM listeners at the SiriusXM studios in New York City. This exclusive Town Hall event coincides with Waters’ current tour, The Wall, which will visit Yankee Stadium on July 6 and 7.

The special will be moderated by SiriusXM host Jim Ladd and will feature the rock icon answering a variety of questions from the studio audience.

This event is part of SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series, an intimate gathering with an iconic figure and an audience of SiriusXM listeners. Previous SiriusXM Town Hall specials have featured Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Gregg Allman, Coldplay, Ringo Starr and the surviving members of Nirvana.

“The Pink Floyd Channel” will be available Wednesday, June 27 through Saturday, July 7 on Sirius channel 142 and XM channel 43. Additionally, “The Pink Floyd Channel” will also be available as a 24/7 channel online on channel 802 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and mobile devices beginning Thursday, June 28 for an extended period.

For more information on Roger Waters and The Wall tour, visit www.rogerwaters.com.

Blu-ray Review “The Town: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”

Directed by: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
MPAA Rating: R (Theatrical) / Not Rated (Extended)
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: March 6, 2012
Running Time: 125 minutes (Theatrical) / 153 minutes (Extended)

Overall Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Before reading this review, if you have never seen this film…stop reading and go out to the store and by this release. It is simple as that. This film was one of my favorite films of 2010. This Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is the perfect set release for this amazing film. “The Town” is most definitely going to become a classic like other robbery films like “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Italian Job”. Ben Affleck does a flawless job not only directing but also acting, easily the best work he has done to date.

This new 3-disc (2 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) release feature a a new cut of the film including an alternate ending with audio commentary available as well. It is actually the third cut of the film and is even different from the recent extended cut. There is also an amazing 30 minute documentary called “Director’s Journey”. If that is not enough this release comes with amazing packaging and really cool goodies. There is a 48-page book filled with high quality photos. There is a letter from director Ben Affleck.  There is a huge poster-size map of Charlestown with notes from the film.  Wait…there is still more…including a confidential folder packed with a fifteen-page FBI report, four mugshot cards, a Vericom employee file and a sheet of rub-on tattoos. I think they went above and beyond with these extras.  It is very impressive and a great collectable for fans.

The video quality of the Blu-ray are just perfect and so clear.  I think they really put a lot into this film and it shows for sure.   The audio also comes packed with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  You literally feel like you are being caught in the gun fire throughout the film.  Really top notch.  Here is a break down of the discs included in this release. The first Blu-ray comes with the new extended cut with alternate ending on its own Blu-ray. The second Blu-ray has the other extended up and the theatrical cut. There is also a DVD included as well.  Also included is a streaming Ultraviolet digital copy, which will be added to my Flixster account immediately.

Let’s get to some of the special features now.  This release has no shortage of commentary tracks, in fact, it comes with three.  The first is for the theatrical cut of the film and Ben Affleck does a wonderful job of complementing the film in a very entertaining commentary.  The next is the extended cut audio commentary is similar to the theatrical cut but gets into the meat of the extra footage.  Like I mentioned above, this release also features a new commentary for the extended cut with alternate ending.  It is an extension of the extended commentary track.  Too much commentary for you? I do not think so.  Definitely at least give a listen to the commentary for the alternate ending for some great info about the changes.

“The Town: A Director’s Journey” is a new documentary for this release and it runs about 30 minutes.  It dives a lot into the film’s production and you get a lot of Ben Affleck but if you love the film then you would love this.  “Ben’s Boston” Focus Points run about 30 minutes spread out among six behind-the-scenes featurette. They are able to be played during watching the film.  The featurettes  include “Pulling Off the Perfect Heist,” “The Town,” “Nuns with Guns: Filming in the North End,” “The Real People of the Town,” “Ben Affleck: Director & Actor” and “The Cathedral of Boston.” The next feature is so simple but I really like it, which is an “Extended Cut Scene Indicator”.  It features an icon on the screen when there is new footage from the theatrical version of the film.  Lastly there is a theatrical trailer also included. Amazing features + Amazing movie = Amazing release.

Buy It 3/6 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack with UltraViolet Digital Copy http://bit.ly/yMSmoe
Like us on Facebook – http://on.fb.me/TheTownFB
Follow us on Twitter – http://bit.ly/WBHETW

Synopsis: Ben Affleck follows his acclaimed Gone Baby Gone directorial debut by directing, co-writing and starring in a taut thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope and escaping a past that has no future. He plays Doug MacRay, leader of a Boston bank robber gang but not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) briefly taken hostage in their last heist, he wants out of this life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves. Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper also star.

“The Town” Cop Back in Town: Titus Welliver in Boston

Titus Welliver, who played one of Boston’s finest in “The Town,” was back in his old neighborhood yesterday to honor Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray Ultimate Collector’s Edition release of “The Town Take 2,” Ben Affleck’s brand new version of his hit drama about a Boston bank robbery. Sal LaMattina, Boston City Councilor representing Mayor Menino renamed Avery Street as The Town Take 2 Place, and a one-time only theatrical screening followed the renaming at AMC Loews Boston Common. Warner execs — EVP Jeff Baker, himself a Boston native, and VP Ronnee Sass — greeted Welliver. Welliver also played cops in “Man on a Ledge” and Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone” and will next be seen in TV’s “Touch” (with Kiefer Sutherland) and Affleck’s new film “Argo.”

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is Coming to Town October 25th

The dark comic gem RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE will be released on DVD and Blu Ray on October 25th. Based on the award winning shorts from director Jalmari Helander that have already acquired a cult reputation on the internet, this re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies features a Santa that you won’t want coming to town. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus. Own the film that is soon to be required perennial holiday viewing just in time for Halloween.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s the eve of Christmas in northern Finland , and an ‘archeological’ dig has just unearthed the real Santa Claus. But this particular Santa isn’t the one you want coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa’s elves, however, will stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.

RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE is a re-imagining of the most classic of all childhood fantasies, and is a darkly comic gem soon to be required perennial holiday viewing.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
– The two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports – The Official Safety Instructions (2005)
– The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
– “Blood in the snow” – a look at the concept art
– Animatics & computer effects video comparison
– Behind the scenes production stills photo gallery
– Original theatrical trailer from Finland

Official Site: http://www.oscilloscope.net/films/film/41/Rare-Exports-A-Christmas-Tale
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RareExportsMovie

Orlando Calling Festival Comes to Town November 12-13th

The Orlando Calling event is shaping up to be on the biggest tours that the Orlando area has seen in quite a while.  It is a two day festival, spanning from Nov 12-13th will include 60 bands planned to perform.  We are hoping to cover this event and be sure to get some excellent coverage and interviews from the bands.  If you would like to get tickets for this event you can do so by clicking here.

The full Orlando Calling lineup includes:

Saturday, Nov. 12: The Killers, The Pixies, Avett Brothers, The Roots, The Raconteurs, O.A.R., Gavin DeGraw, Iron and Wine, Pete Yorn, Jenny & Johnny, Civil Twilight, Lucero, Dr. Dog, Justin Townes Earle, Felice Brothers, Ben Solee, Renee & the Translators

Sunday, Nov. 13: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, Kid Rock & Twisted Brown Trucker, Blake Shelton, Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy, the Warren Haynes Band, Chris Isaak, Dwight Yoakam, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Flatlanders, Los Lonely Boys, Blues Traveler, Brandi Carlile, the David Mayfield Parade, Michelle Branch, the Supervillains

 

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Day Ticket prices for Saturday / Sunday:
Stage 1 Field Access – $87.50 + $5.75 tax + Fees
General Admission Field Access for Stage 1
General Admission Field Access for Stages 2, 3 and 4

Stage 1 Reserved – $87.50 + $5.75 tax + Fees
Reserved Seating for Stage 1
General Admission Field Access for Stages 2, 3 and 4

Weekend Ticket prices for Saturday / Sunday:
Stage 1 Field Access – $160 + $10.50 Tax + Fees
General Admission Field Access for Stage 1
General Admission Field Access for Stages 2, 3 and 4

Stage 1 Reserved – $160 + $10.50 Tax + Fees
Reserved Seating for Stage 1
General Admission Field Access for Stages 2, 3 and 4

Also available are VIP tickets for each day, weekend packages and ultimate VIP packages.  Click here to find out more info on how to purchase tickets.

Be sure to follow Orlando Calling on Facebook and Twitter.  Here is a link to their official website: http://orlandocalling.com