Record Store Day Ambassador Dave Grohl Joins Countless Musicians to Celebrate Indie Record Stores

By Billy Restivo

It’s that time of year when spring starts to poke its head out, and the welcome signs are rushing in with a breath of fresh air. Baseball parks relish in their opening-day games, Hawaiian-shirt-clad dads everywhere reclaim their title as sultan of the grill, and a whole bunch of artists pick a day to unleash an avalanche of vinyl records onto local record shops around the globe.

This year, that avalanche is set to hit on Saturday, April 18, as the eighth annual Record Store Day will join together the wonderfully hard-working record stores and the artists they represent in a celebration of independent music culture. Nearly 1,400 shops in the U.S., along with thousands of others worldwide, will be participating in the event, giving their owners, employees, and customers the chance to snag exclusive releases and enjoy in-store performances, signings, and tons of other activities.

And just to sweeten the pot, the folks behind RSD 2015 have selected none other than rock icon and DIY poster boy Dave Grohl as the official Brand Ambassador. Following in the footsteps of Ozzy Osborne, Iggy Pop, Jack White, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, and Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Grohl seems ready to wear the sash with pride.

“I think it’s important for everyone, kids and adults, to celebrate that kind of discovery by going into a little record store in your town that you’ve never been into before and spend[ing] some time there discovering things that you never knew existed, because those little discoveries can wind up changing your life,” explains the Foo Fighters’ frontman in this Record Store Day promo video. “It’s important that these places survive and that they’re there for the next generation.”

Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters will also be stopping by Record Connection, a small shop in Niles, Ohio, to put on a special show in support of their own RSD 10-inch. Other buzzworthy releases range all the way from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck,” to Aussie up-and-comer Courtney Barnett’s “Kim Caravan,” to Metallica’s 1982 demo tape, to a rendition of Monty Python’s “Galaxy Song” by Stephen Hawking.

Check out the full list of Record Store Day releases here.

To see what record stores near you are participating in this year’s event, head over here.

Jackson Browne, Tom Morello & More Encourage Youth to Speak Out at Concert for Social Justice

Jackson Browne at the Concert for Social Justice. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

By Laura Ferreiro

It’s not always easy for young musicians to find their voices. The Concert for Social Justice at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on April 8 was all about encouraging young artists – and everyone in the sold-out audience – to do just that and to speak up about the human rights issues they’re most passionate about.

Sold-out crowd lines up for the Concert for Social Justice. Photo: Laura Ferreiro

Put on by the Grammy Museum and Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, the concert featured a slew of notable headliners and seasoned musicians known for speaking their minds, and using their public platform as artists to convey important messages. Jackson Browne, Tom Morello, Melissa Etheridge, Graham Nash and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were just a few of the artists who gave their time and their talents for this worthy cause.

13-year-old Jade Rhodes, winner of the Speak Up, Sing Out competition

The concert raised funds for the new Speak Up, Sing Out initiative, a competition that encourages middle and high school students to become engaged in human rights issues by writing songs. The first winner of the competition, 13-year-old Jade Rhodes – a student at Brentwood School in Los Angeles – performed the song she wrote in front of the huge audience. Her moving song, “Invisible,” imagines the experiences of a refugee from Darfur, and earned the young songwriter a lengthy standing ovation.

Other highlights of the evening included a rousing performance by Grammy-winning Latin band La Santa Cecilia, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who sang four songs including a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and encouraged the crowd to “speak truth to power,” a theme that was echoed by other artists throughout the night.

Tom Morello Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

In between musical performances, an array of notable actors including Martin Sheen, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert and Chad Lowe read inspiring stories about oppressed people throughout the world, including Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Lowe introduced Etheridge, who strolled onto the stage strumming her guitar and spoke out about issues she has long championed including same-sex marriage and performed her tunes “Testify” and “Silent Legacy.” She told the audience, “Social justice happens right here with just one person.”

Melissa Etheridge rocks the Concert for Social Justice. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

Crosby and Nash, joined by a full band, blew through several of their hit songs, ending with a sing-along of “Teach Your Children,” a fitting theme for the night.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne concluded the concert with his anti-war anthems “Live in the Balance” and “Far From the Arms of Hunger” before inviting all of the performers back onto the stage for a grand finale of Woody Guthrie’s American classic “This Land Is Your Land.”

Music for Good was honored to be a part of this memorable evening.

Duran Duran, Flaming Lips, Moby and More Play Surreal David Lynch Foundation Benefit

Duran Duran play to the crowd at the David Lynch Foundation benefit at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Photo: James Marcus Haney

By Laura Ferreiro

What more could you want from a concert put on by surrealist director David Lynch than an array of spectacular, dramatic and downright weird performances? The Music of David Lynch benefit concert on April 1 featured all this and more, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of the David Lynch Foundation and educating us about the benefits of meditation.

The sold-out concert at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles featured a motley list of performers spanning genres and generations including Duran Duran, Moby, Wayne Coyne and Stephen Drozd of Flaming Lips, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Sky Ferreira, Donovan, Lykke Li and many others.

David Lynch enjoys the show. Photo: James Marcus Haney

The evening kicked off with a gorgeous rendition of the shimmering “Laura Palmer’s Theme” by the house band led by Angelo Badalamenti, the renowned composer who scored several of Lynch’s projects including Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks series.

Then Donovan’s warbly, slightly off-key vibrato on “Love Me Tender” — the Elvis Presley tune featured in Lynch’s Wild at Heart – left some audience members scratching their heads, but it seemed very Lynchian in its strangeness.

Latin singer Rebakah Del Rio received the first standing ovation of the evening for her breathtaking, a capella version of “Llorando,” a Spanish-language cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Meanwhile, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O brought some rock-star swagger to the proceedings. Dressed all in black leather, she paced the stage like a panther while singing the edgy “Pinky’s Dream.”

Looking dapper in an evening jacket, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James sang “Sycamore Trees” from Twin Peaks. Swedish songstress Lykke Li lucked out by getting to cover the gorgeous “Wicked Game,” and her unique, passionate delivery was a refreshing take on the Chris Isaak tune that Lynch’s 1990 film, Wild at Heart, helped make famous.

Lynch himself mainly stayed out of the spotlight during the show, but that didn’t stop the performers from expressing their praise and admiration for him. Moby stopped to tell the crowd that his famed song, “Go,” was not just inspired by Lynch. “That last song I just stole,” he said.

Lykke Li sings "Wicked Game." Photo: James Marcus Haney

In what was by far the strangest and most surreal set of the evening, Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd performed the “Soundscape from Eraserhead” and segued into an ominous piece from Elephant Man. Coyne told the audience that he incorporated sounds into the piece from a construction site across the street from the Ace Hotel that woke him up at 4am. The performance was at once abrasive (many people put their fingers in their ears), beautiful and quintessentially Lynchian.

Not surprisingly, Duran Duran didn’t disappoint with their set that closed out the night. Rather than playing tunes from any of Lynch’s multiple projects, they busted out their own jams – “The Chauffer,” “Ordinary World” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” — much to the delight of the packed house, especially the female contingent who screamed and danced in the aisles when the British rockers took the stage. Frontman Simon Le Bon reminded the crowd that they collaborated with Lynch on the 2014 concert film, Duran Duran Unstaged, and said that Lynch’s film, Eraserhead, was groundbreaking for kids like them growing up in a small town in England during that time. “David really is all about making the world a better place and bringing people together,” he added.

Before the concert began, David Lynch Foundation Executive Director Bob Roth told the audience that Lynch has never missed a meditation practice in the 41 years he’s been meditating, sitting twice a day to “go deeper” so he can “catch the big fish.” He also screened an NBC news clip about the Foundation featuring students, veterans and an array of celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld and Russell Brand that illustrated the benefits of meditation, including decreased stress levels, increased school attendance, significant reduction of violent behaviors and more.

Go here to learn more and to make a donation to the David Lynch Foundation.

 

Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day to Feature No Doubt, Usher, Mary J. Blige and More

No Doubt, shown here at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival, will perform again at the Earth Day concert.

 By Billy Restivo

In an effort to spread climate change awareness and take action to end extreme poverty, Global Citizen has confirmed No Doubt, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Fall Out Boy, Train and My Morning Jacket as headliners at the 2015 Global Citizen Earth Day Event.

The event will take place on April 18 at the Washington Monument Grounds and will coincide with expected announcements from World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on their financial commitments to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end global poverty by 2030.

The faces behind Global Citizen are no strangers to rocking  for a good cause. For the past three years they’ve brought artists including Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys and The Roots to New York’s Central Park at the Global Citizen Festival. This year’s expansion into D.C. is surely a step in the right direction for the organization, as co-founder and CEO Hugh Evans explains on the site. “Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day will see thousands of citizens calling on world leaders [to] continue to recognize that the effects of climate change are felt the hardest by the world’s poor,” he says. “The fact that this event is taking place on the National Mall—the epicenter for civil action—ensures that these citizens will be heard.”

Veteran journalist Soledad O’Brien and Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am are set to host the event, with special appearances from Common, D’Banj, and others to be announced within the next few weeks. Coldplay’s Chris Martin is also playing a supporting role in this year’s Earth Day celebration, and what’s more, the singer-songwriter will be taking the lead come September as the Global Citizen Festival curator for a tremendous 15-year gig.

Global Citizen is encouraging anyone and everyone to join in on the (free) fun April 18 from 11 am to 7 pm in support of the environmental movement and the development movement. If you’d like to learn more about the event or help Global Citizen take action, head over here.

Snoop Dogg Leads Anti-Gun Violence Campaign

Snoop Dogg

By Laura Ferreiro

Whether or not you’re aware, you may be investing in gun companies. “How can this be?” you ask. If you have a 401k retirement plan, it’s quite possible that funds from it are being invested in gun companies without your knowledge or consent.

Snoop Dogg wants to help bring this shocking fact to light. Despite rapping lyrics about gunning people down in tunes such as his 1993 hit “Serial Killa,” he has turned over a new leaf and has teamed up with an anti-gun violence campaign called Unload Your 401k to encourage people to make sure their mutual funds are not invested in gun companies.

Jhene Aiko

“How I’ve been affected by gun violence over the years is through deaths of friends and family members and associates,” Snoop Dogg says in a video promoting the campaign.

Pop singer Jhené Aiko and singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc are also lending their voices to the initiative. Aiko says her motivation comes from a life-threatening home invasion where she was held at gunpoint when she was just five years old.

NBA player Matt Barnes and NFL star Bobby Wagner also support the campaign and shared personal stories of how gun violence has affected their lives. “Directly I’ve lost a few friends but I think why this touches my heart is having children of my own,” says Barnes.

The campaign encourages people to look up whether their 401k plans are supporting the gun industry via UnloadYour401k.com, and if so, to “unload” these investments.

Whether or not you have a 401k, you can help spread the word about the campaign by using the hashtag #ImUnloading on social media.

In other news, Snoop Dogg will serve as the keynote speaker at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas on March 20. He follows in the footsteps of music-industry heavyhitters including Bruce Springsteen and Lady Gaga.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Zombies, The Heartless Bathtubs to Play MyMusicRx Kids Rock Show at SXSW

Primus' Les Claypool performs at MyMusicRX event during SXSW

By Billy Restivo

If MyMusicRx has taught us anything with its annual YOU WHO Rock Show For Kids, it’s that music really can be the best medicine – and that Les Claypool really can shred alongside a pair of dancing owl mascots.

Pioneered nearly two decades ago by the Children’s Cancer Association, MyMusicRx is a program geared towards helping kids facing cancer and other serious illnesses explore musical outlets. With in-hospital bedside sing-alongs and instrument lessons, as well as an online music medicine platform, the program is dedicated to helping its members “feel the music and feel better.”

This year, MyMusicRx is heading down to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival for the third time to put on a rock show for kids with 100% of proceeds benefitting the program’s bedside and online programs for those facing cancer and other serious illnesses. The concert, going down at the Converse Fader Fort on March 19, will feature some big names like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Zombies (acoustic), Best Coast, The Heartless “Bathtubs,” Wild Ones, Koo Koo Kangaroo, and many more. And if last year’s YOU WHO Rock Show For Kids at SXSW – which brought in more than 600 rockin’ moms, dads, and kids, not to mention $10,000 for MyMusicRx – is any indication, it looks like the Fader Fort will be a family hot-spot at SXSW 2015.

Behind YOU WHO is Chris Funk of The Decemberists and his wife Seann McKeel. Thanks to their philanthropic work, the concert series has been able to give bands like The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, The Head and the Heart, and a whole bunch of others a chance to try their hand at kid-friendly sets, all the while providing young listeners with unforgettable experiences.

All kids 10 and under get into this year’s YOU WHO Rock Show For Kids for free, as well as access to the pre-show crafts zone. Advance tickets for all you older folks are available here for just $20.

To learn more about MyMusicRx and all the cool things the program up to, head over here.

Check out Primus’ Les Claypool shredding alongside dancing owls at the 2014 MyMusicRx SXSW event:

No Doubt, The Killers, Spoon, Rodrigo y Gabriela to Headline Inaugural Kaaboo Festival Benefiting Local Charities

The Killers

Imagine spending a lazy day at the beach in sunny Southern California. Now imagine that No Doubt, The Killers and Snoop Dogg are there to serenade you, comedians will entertain you and there’s food and beer from local restaurants. What’s more, it all supports several good causes.

This is more than a dream – it’s what will go down at the inaugural Kaaboo Festival September 18-20 at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Spoon, The Roots, Foster the People, Zac Brown Band, AWOLNATION, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Girl Talk also top the bill, as well as comedic giants Joel McHale, Lewis Black and Chris D’elia.

No Doubt

In addition, visitors will be able to take part in an assortment of fun activities including simulated golfing and surfing, getting haircuts, massages, henna tattoos and more.

Kaaboo – which hopes to fill the void of Street Scene, a San Diego festival that met its demise in 2009 – promises several food and beverage options that go beyond your typical festival fare, including pairings by celebrity chefs from local restaurants, wine selections from vineyards throughout California, craft beer from local breweries and more.

One dollar from each festival pass purchased will be divided equally among several local charities, including Feeding America San Diego, San Diego Music Foundation, Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter and Operation Amped. Concert-goers can donate more if they wish and KAABOO has promised match their donations. So what are you waiting for?

David Lynch Foundation Celebrates Anniversary with Concert Featuring Duran Duran, Sky Ferreira and more

David Lynch & Duran Duran

By Billy Restivo

Los Angeles’ Theatre at Ace Hotel will be bursting with the tunes of iconic director David Lynch come the 1st of April, as a fleet of top-notch artists gear up to perform selected works from Lynch’s films, albums, and hit television series Twin Peaks. The one-night only event, appropriately titled “The Music of David Lynch,” will guide audience members through a catalog of ambient stylings, showcasing first-time collaborations and interpretations along the way.

Under the direction of Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated composer Rob Mathes, the show will feature accomplished composer and longtime colleague of Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti, as well as new wave legends Duran Duran (who collaborated with Lynch on a spectacular concert film released in 2014), Chicago garage rockers (and namesakes of Lynch’s serial drama) Twin Peaks, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Sky Ferreira, Moby, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, Zola Jesus and many more. Take a look at the full lineup here.

Performing artists and concert-goers alike will be contributing to the David Lynch Foundation’s mission to bring the art of meditation to at-risk populations suffering from post-traumatic stress. Over the past 10 years, Lynch’s organization, alongside the performance-based initiative, DLF Live, has provided scholarships to teach Transcendental Meditation to more than 500,000 underprivileged youth, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, and homeless and incarcerated individuals. In celebration of these efforts, all proceeds from the show will help the David Lynch Foundation continue spreading the stress-reducing, creativity-promoting, and even life-changing technique.

If you want to learn more about the David Lynch Foundation and Transcendental Meditation, head over here. Click here to grab tickets to The Music of David Lynch.

Check out the trailer for the David Lynch-directed Duran Duran concert film:

ALO’s Zach Gill on Touring for a Great Cause and Partying With Pal Jack Johnson

By Billy Restivo

From Santa Barbara driveways to arenas and festivals all around the world, the guys in Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) have been infecting audiences with a vibrant, groovy rock that seems almost indigenous to their native Golden State. Now, after more than two decades and four studio albums together, they’re heading out on their Tour d’Amour, celebrating love, breezy tunes, old friends, and new faces.

In typical ALO fashion, the band will donate a portion of the proceeds from the tour – which will hit 11 cities throughout their home state of California – to non-profit organizations that work to bring music to children.

Music for Good caught up with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zach Gill to discuss just how far the group’s good vibes are spreading. Although the band has typically supported national organizations, those doing good work closer to home are never out of the question. “I think picking an actual school from our local zone just felt like a good fit,” says Gill, who helped name San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School the associated organization of Tour d’Amour IX.

As products of high school music programs themselves, Gill, along with bassist, Steve Adams, drummer, Dave Brogan, and guitarist, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz now get the chance to help the Creative Arts Charter School provide hands-on, arts-integrated public education to Bay Area students.

“I was so happy when I found music because I wasn’t really too good at anything else,” Gill explains with a chuckle. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t find music… and so I just feel like it’s good to give kids with a mind for that sort of thing the option and the outlet.”

Among the other organizations ALO have contributed to in the past are Notes for Notes, which designs and equips after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as Little Kids Rock, a group that provides free music classes and instruments to students across the country.

Jack Johnson on stage with ALO

Gill and his bandmates have also worked closely in their philanthropic endeavors with longtime friend (and fellow UCSB graduate) Jack Johnson, whose organization, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, has made significant contributions to environmental, art, and music education worldwide. “I think there was always that [philanthropic] component to our music and Jack’s music,” says Gill. “If you’re going to get a bunch of people together, it’d be cool if it wasn’t just partying for partying sake.”

Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records, has also been pivotal to the band’s growth, according to Gill. Since the 2006 re-release of Fly Between Falls, Brushfire has put out three ALO albums and exposed international audiences to hits like “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down” and “Blew Out The Walls.”

And so ALO continue to party for one good cause after another, leaving behind a rather contagious happy-go-lucky attitude every step of the way. One might ask what’s next for the California-born jam band vets; Gill’s thinking a new record (this autumn, possibly), more touring, and even a little benefit concert for a handful of lucky Santa Barbara grade-schoolers.

To grab tickets to Tour d’Amour IX, head over here. Click here to learn more about the Creative Arts Charter School.

Duran Duran Crank Out the Hits at Intimate Performance Supporting War Child

Duran Duran perform to support War Child

By Kristina Rideout

Duran Duran gave an intimate, hit-filled performance at Wilton’s Music Hall in London as part of War Child and O2’s Passport Back to the Bars event on February 19. The group was one of six bands performing in small venues throughout the month of February to support War Child’s efforts to bring safety to children in war zones all over the world.

Tickets for the shows were available by lottery to fans who donated to War Child with each entry. This year marks 10 years since the original Passport event, which was held for victims of the Iraq war.

Duran Duran played to a packed house of 300 at Wilton’s Music Hall, London’s oldest remaining Grand Music Hall. Fans were treated to a set list of favorites including “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “The Reflex,” “Notorious,” “Wild Boys” and “Girls on Film.” The band closed the show with their mega-hit “Rio.”

Duran Duran looked and sounded in top form, and did not disappoint their loyal fans who flooded Twitter and Instagram with photos and accounts of this rare experience. Singer Simon Le Bon was chatty with the crowd, and took the opportunity to speak about children affected by war before performing the band’s classic ballad “Ordinary World.”

Passport Back to the Bars has also featured shows by The Vaccines and RIDE, and will continue with shows by You Me At Six, Bastille and Elbow throughout February. All money raised will support War Child’s work in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. These small, stripped-down shows for hundreds of fans will have a great impact on many thousands of children.

#duranduran

A video posted by Vanessa Bakewell (@vanessasbakewell) on