Culture Crash and the 21st C Musician

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ONE of my favorite discussions of the new world of the arts and culture -- the economic, technological, sociological changes I describe in my book -- comes in this conversation I had with an editor at the new 21st C Musician site. (I've written several pieces for the site on the transformation of classical music.) Considering both the human costs and the unintended consequences for America, … [Read more...]

Lucinda Williams at the Troubadour

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I'M rushing out of town -- remember that Powell's Books reading Sunday! -- but want to rave for a moment about the show I caught Wednesday night. It's been a good few weeks for music -- Martha Argerich with LA Phil at Disney Hall, solo-acoustic Lloyd Cole at Largo, Joe Henry with Sam Phillips at Largo, and now this one. I've seen Lucinda five or six times previously, but rarely in a club as … [Read more...]

Music For the Rich — Only

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THE Brits have been more comfortable discussion notions of social/ economic class than we are here in this classless paradise. (Was it Rick Santorum who called "middle class" a Marxist term?) In any case, a new report from the British press asks, "is the music industry becoming a hobby for the upper classes?" The article, in I-D, is about a dust-up between a Labour culture minister and the "posh" … [Read more...]

The Future of the Arts

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OKAY, nobody really knows what's coming. But a pretty good stab comes in a new book by veteran arts manager Michael M. Kaiser (Alvin Ailey, Kennedy Center, etc) , who is both hopeful and brutally honest. His opening section on the building of an arts infrastructure (including an audience) in the postwar U.S. is as clear and succinct and explanation as I've ever seen, and his description of what … [Read more...]

Fear of Music, Then and Now

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VIOLENT, authoritarian and fascist regimes often target artists, musicians, and the arts themselves -- this is something we see East and West, ancient and modern. The latest outbreak of what Talking Heads called "Fear of Music" seems to be taking place in the Middle East, where the Islamic State is destroying drums and other musical instruments because they are somehow "un-Islamic." The site … [Read more...]

Stevie Wonder on Duke Ellington

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THERE'S been a lot of talk about Mr. Wonder lately, largely because of the recent concerts. It reminds me of what may be my favorite Stevie song, from a record my parents had when I was a kid and which I pretty much wore out. Cool that he is tipping his hat to another piano player. I've only seen Stevie play once, at the 80th birthday party for jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, at UCLA's Royce … [Read more...]

“Love Songs: A Hidden History”

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INTERESTED in songs about love and sex going back to ancient fertility rites, through the medieval troubadours and the German art song and into the age of "Tangled Up in Blue," Ziggy Stardust, and bedroom R&B? Then you may want to get your hands on Ted Gioia's new secret history, Love Songs, just out on Oxford University Press. Ted is an old friend; two decades ago, before I knew him, I … [Read more...]

Art For the Rich — Only

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GOOD news! Queens has gotten an enormous art space in Long Island City. Says the New York Times The modern-looking facility, built from the ground up at a cost of $70 million, is set to span 280,000 square feet when an adjacent building opens this spring. The complex will be packed with thousands of works of art, from old masters to contemporary rising stars. But unlike at a museum, few will ever … [Read more...]

What Is a “Subversive” Artist, Anyway?

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AFTER a while, I get tired of all the jive around certain terms. "Disruption" is one; "empowerment," another. ("Innovate" seems to be headed for corporate sponsorship.)  The latest infuriating one is the way the word "subversive" has been turned into a marketing strategy and a straight-faced description of Lady Gaga and Jeff Koons. For my latest Salon story, I dig into how we got here and what the … [Read more...]