There may be no singer-songwriter with a beefier activist pedigree than Holly Near. Before she was 10, Near had performed for a Veterans of Foreign Wars talent competition and volunteered her vocals at the Taimage Mental Hospital.
When rock came along, it seemed to spell doom for the so-called Great American Songbook, those perennials composed by (mostly) New York-based songwriters from the 1920s through the mid 1950s. But those hardy tunes keep finding new life in various guises, and not just in cabaret or karaoke croon sessions.
Billy Idol has long been one of the great symbols of ’80s-era rock. So badass that he became a new breed of punk rock, so cool that he was rock ‘n’ roll through and through and even catchy enough that he could successfully wriggle his way into the pop world — he remains one of that decade’s most prominent and enduring musical figures.
Some bands have epic, long careers. Some bands burn bright and fizzle quickly. Some bands build a career nibbling at the edges: consistent, successful, influential, but never quite becoming household names despite their cult following. Dinosaur Jr. is a band like that.
Oakland is a hard place — always has been and ever will stay such, because the Bay, as they say, is the quintessence of the modern concrete jungle, churning up a bone meal Darwinism of jacked-up nasty that suffers no goons.
Ever been to one of those shows where you’re blinded by glow sticks, your body won’t stop buzzing because the bass is so loud, and you come out so sweaty on the other side you’d think someone threw you into a bucket of saltwater? No? Well now’s your chance.
Living in the Northwest you grow accustomed to rain, cool breezes and gray skies — but also the opposite — sun and blue and warmth. The truth of this place is that nothing is permanent and there is always change, both in the weather and the geography.
Beach House does not want you to think about their music, they want you to feel it. “At the end of the day when you hear our music, I hope the analytical side shuts down and you feel it more,” Victoria Legrand (lead vocals, keyboard) says.
If you want an idea of how prolific composer John Williams is, consider this: By the time he wrote the music for Star Wars in the mid ’70s, he had already composed scores for 45 films (11 had earned Academy Awards nominations, two had won Oscars).
There’s a possibly apocryphal story that an American in Paris, George Gershwin, once asked one of his idols, the great 20th-century French composer Maurice Ravel, for music lessons. Ravel is said to have politely declined.