British protest singer Billy Bragg doesn’t rattle easily, although he admits to having a crazy time after singing a duet of Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You” with Olivia Newton-John on a BBC TV variety show, then returning to his posh London hotel — where Justin Bieber also was staying. Read More
Beirut-born artist Mika didn’t go looking for a major movie role. It found him.
After his multiplatinum 2007 debut, “Life in Cartoon Motion,” made him an international pop sensation, the photogenic, Freddie Mercury-voiced singer began traveling in increasingly lofty social circles.
One night, he was dining with his good friend Christian Louboutin, who had been designing stage shoes for him, and seated at their table was famed French actress Fanny Ardant. Read More
In mid-1970s London, the Sex Pistols had anger as a motivator, punk rock as a movement and the Malcolm McLaren-Vivienne Westwood boutique SEX as a hipster hangout. Copenhagen claims a modern equivalent: The Joy Division-urgent punk quartet Iceage, which leads a wave of teen and 20-something malcontent outfits dubbed “the new way of Danish f*** you”; the scene revolves around the Posh Isolation record label and store. Members play in multiple bands, says Iceage drummer Dan Kjaer Nielsen, 21, who’s also in Sejr. But it’s not punk rock, per se, he clarifies. Read More
Carly Ritter is proud to be listed on the Internet Movie Data Base, just like her father, the late comedic actor John Ritter, although she says it’s a fluke. One entry refers to a crawl-on cameo for a film about parenting; others were for appearances in two recent shorts, “Slice” and “Monsieur Balloons.”
“Those were just friends asking me to play little roles, so I don’t know how well I did for them,” she says. “I didn’t get that gift from my family — my brothers are both amazing, and my little sister has it, definitely. But I think it might’ve missed me somehow.” Read More
Charlotte Church hopes her fans got the memo: She’s no longer the classical child prodigy whose 1998 “Voice of an Angel” debut sold more than 10 million copies.
Now 27, the Welsh diva and mother of two and her guitarist boyfriend Jonny Powell have created a new two-EP anthology, “One & Two,” in her garage studio.
She believed so much in the gothic sound on the self-produced, 4AD-lush tracks (such as “Glitterbombed” and “Beautiful Wreck”) she launched her own imprint, Alligator Wine, to release them. She designed the spooky cover art, too. Read More
Renowned rapper Snoop Dogg recently visited Jamaica, immersed himself in Rastafarian culture, recorded a reggae album called “Reincarnated” with producers Diplo and Major Lazer, and redubbed himself Snoop Lion in the process. But he reassures longtime fans that it’s not permanent. “Snoop Lion is the moniker that I will use when I make reggae music,” says the artist, whose raspy, weed-weathered voice perfectly fits the genre. Read More
Adelaide may be the capital of the state of South Australia, but it felt like the boondocks to Keith Jeffery, a singer-guitarist who grew up there and, out of boredom, formed the band Atlas Genius with his kid brothers.
“You’ve got the east coast, which is where most of the major cities are, then you’ve got the west coast, where there’s Perth,” he says. “And then Adelaide is out in the middle, and the closet major city is Melbourne, a good thousand kilometers away. So we’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere.” Read More
The last time Scottish multi-instrumentalist Iain Cook played the Independent in San Francisco was in 2007 with his old outfit Aerogramme, and it was a total disaster.“There was nobody there, only 30 people in a 500-capacity venue, the support bands were fighting, the drummer got angry and walked offstage — everything was just horrible,” he recalls. Back at his hotel that night, he and keyboardist Martin Doherty had a summit meeting. “We sat down and made a pact that someday, in the near future, we’d do something that people really wanted to dance to,” he adds. Read More
Fans of idiosyncratic indie outfit The Hush Sound, dormant since 2008, can rejoice. After two albums with spinoff combo Gold Motel, frontwoman Greta Morgan reteamed with childhood chum Bob Morris for a new reunion tour and album. It started when they played their native Chicago last year. They sold out two nights, had fun, and decided to try playing other major cities to “see if there are people who still care.” The response was overwhelming. Morgan says the group feels lucky, and has reconnected as “calm, thoughtful, grateful adults.” Read More
James Hunter, a Colchester-bred Brit, celebrates his working-class past. After playing the pub circuit for years, then almost giving up on music entirely, the gravelly blues growler finally earned a Grammy nomination at 43 for his 2006 “People Gonna Talk” breakthrough.
But he laughs about the day jobs he took along the way, like rail-line signal locking fitter, where he was nearly crushed by falling steel girders. “Another time, I stepped out from behind the signal box and a train just missed me,” he says. “I’ve had a few near-misses, so I’m actually quite lucky to be here.” Read More
Alan Doyle is a busy man. The Newfoundlander plays Wolf Redmond on the Canadian TV series “Republic of Doyle” and another part as Dingy — with Will Smith, Colin Farrell and an old chum and co-star from “Robin Hood,” Russell Crowe — in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of Mark Helprin’s book “Winter’s Tale.” Then there is his first solo album outside his group Great Big Sea: “Boy on Bridge,” named for his childhood acting credit in “A Whale For the Killing.” Finally, there is “XX,” a two-disc, 40-track greatest-hits collection spanning Great Big Sea’s 20-year history.
In her native Zurich, Switzerland, aspiring vocalist Valeska Steiner had heard that Hamburg’s prestigious Hochschule was the university she needed to attend, especially for its introductory six-week songwriting workshop, a great testing ground for young musicians. “It was just a good place to meet other performers,” says the musician, who plays in San Francisco this week. “You have the Hochschule rooms where you can try out different combinations of people.” Read More
A year ago, Jon Davison, singer for Los Angeles prog-rock outfit Glass Hammer, was stunned when longtime chum and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins called him with exciting news: Yes bassist Chris Squire told him that his band had chosen a replacement for departing vocalist Benoit David, and Davison was it.
“Taylor basically told me I was going to get the call from them. So I was just waiting and waiting,” says Davison, who watched 120 minutes tick past until Yes’ manager finally phoned. Read More
Chuck Prophet’s latest album, “Temple Beautiful,” is a keenly observed homage to his adopted hometown of San Francisco, from its early punk-rock heyday back to “Emperor Norton in the Last Year of His Life.” As the deadpan guitarist says, there’s more to The City “than fancy-pants coffee shops run by hipster dufuses.” That explains why he is in the lineup for Tom Fest, a benefit and tribute for producer-engineer Tom Mallon, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and is undergoing treatment. Read More
J.P. Pitts likes his hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla., where he conceived his reverb-drenched quartet Surfer Blood and its sunny 2010 indie debut “Astro Coast.”
“But I absolutely love California!” says the frontman, who first visited the state when he was 19 to attend Coachella, and plays in San Francisco this week.
“That trip really made me realize that to be in a band and playing music was my first priority. So I would describe California as a place that kind of feels like home, but nicer.” Read More