R.I.P., Bobby Womack

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Cleveland-born and raised Bobby Womack has passed away at the age of 70.  He was one of America's greatest R&B singer-songwriters and guitarists (Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin) and his career spanned 50-plus years. Last time I caught him live in concert was at the Beacon Theater in NYC well over 18 years ago. He was fine form, played all of his hits, many from the chart-topping The Poet (1981), including one of his most beloved songs, "If You Think You're Lonely Now," and The Poet II (1984), and even dragged Sly Stone (whose classic album There's a Riot Goin' On heavily features Womack's uncredited guitar playing) on stage for a few numbers. For me, his Harlem anthem "Across 110th Street" remains one of the best songs ever. Two years ago he released the critically lauded album The Bravest Man in the Universe on XL, the same U.K. label that released Gil Scott-Heron's last album. It was Mr. Womack's first effort in 14 yeas, and like Gil's effort, there was a very stripped-down, electronica element coursing throughout. My favorite track from said album was the bluesy, Stevie Wonder-inspired piano-bass-and-drum track "Dayglo Reflection" (above) featuring the haunting vocal support of chanteuse Lana Del Rey. His contributions to music will be missed. 

Gig of the Summer: Jay Stolar

As you know I've been championing the NYC-based singer/songwriter Jay Stolar for the past six months. I'm gobsmacked that a major label has yet to snatch him up. (Hang in, Jay, only a matter of time!) Here's a new video of his instant classic "Lost" live from Flux Studios. And do catch him at Rockwood Music Hall where he'll be sharing his magic on just about every Thursday at 10 pm in June, July, and August all summer long (exact dates on invite below)! And if you know any label people, drag 'em down. They'd be wise to sign him immediately. Hope to see you there! peace, Dusty

R.I.P., Mr. Rik Mayall

One of the funniest U.K. actor/comedians ever has passed on at the age of 56. I'll always cherish his madcap punk comic antics on the early '80s cult classic television show The Young Ones and his peerless performances on Blackadder, The New Statesman, Bottom, et al. For you youngsters out there not familiar with his work, check out these clips from The Young Ones above. Rave on, Mr. Rik Mayall!

Band of the Day: PHOX

This low-key, but energetic Madison, WI-based sextet are fronted by the extremely charismatic lead singer Monica Martin. The band's Zach Johnston (guitar / banjo) directed the video for "Slow Motion" from their soon-to-be-released self-titled debut. I caught them live last month in Williamsburg opening for Laura Mvula. Perfect match. They both share a quirky but beguiling otherworldly musical charm albeit PHOX leans more towards world beat. Currently own tour in support of their June 23rd effort.

The Re-Release of Dusty Wright's Debut!

Pushing Against the Boundaries

Outsider Art Fair 2014, NYC

Art brut, Naïve art, Outsider art -- the times have changed. Artists no longer have to study and refine their craft in schools of higher learning. They can trust their own instincts, use their own mediums, often mixed and often any found canvas -- street buildings, pieces of wood, any type of paper or board -- to share their muse. 

It Was 50 Years Ago Today...

...and I was in first grade. Ed Sullivan was presenting "these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles" on his American variety television program. My mother, father, younger brother David, and I were huddled around our RCA black and white TV set, just as 73 million other Americans were around theirs! My dad was annoyed that this much attention and hype was being flung at "a bunch kids that needed haircuts!" I didn't care, it was The Beatles! They'd taken the radio by storm with "She Loves You" and now it was time to see them live on TV. And it was electrifying! The audience was going crazy -- girls and boys screaming. They played "All My Loving" and "Till There Was You" and "She Loves You" and "I Saw Her Standing There" and it would usher in a change in the pop music landscape that still reverberates today. 

All Mod Cons!

Many of us of a certain age were informed by rock music. It permeated and dominated our free time; time away from school studies, our parents, our siblings, the man! And we were heavily rewarded. From the utopian music of the late '60s/early '70s to punk and new wave in the late '70s/early '80s, we were privileged to ingest some of finest music ever created in the vortex known as rock 'n' roll. Author Tony Fletcher's excellent new memoir draws from that well in this charming page-turner about his experience in London from 1972 through 1980. So charming is his narrative that I forgot I was reading about his life during his most formative teenage years. It reads like a work of fiction by Nick Hornby. And Mr. Fletcher's matter-of-fact style draws you in and never lets up until you reach the final chapter -- No. 1. (His chapter headings are actual song titles from the era and count backwards from 50 like a record chart!) Unbelievably Fletcher not only sees The Who in concert as a pre-pubescent teenager, he chats up Keith Moon at a Who retrospective while pitching him his gloriously intentioned fanzine Jamming and then, after Keith invites him to interview him, shows up at his flat in Mayfair where he is stood up by one of his earliest rock heroes.