Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Climbing T0W3RS @SXSW

I've seen so much music over the years it's often difficult for me to find much that is authentic. I have to get off the beaten track and lurk around the fringes of the music scene. Find those pockets of music where the authentic bubbles and boils. Where artists are making authentic art, for themselves, for their small stake in the world; hoping to get some response back from an audience or a scene, hoping to be noticed, hoping to share their art. Read more »

Song of the Week: East India Youth - "Turn Away"

Here's one of my favorite new rock tunes, a quirky little ditty from East India Youth that you should buy and tell your friends to buy as well. Taken from the upcoming album Culture Of Volume out on the 7th of April. Look for this London-based artist's North American tour starting at SXSW. Remember, kiddies, there is no shame in sharing music as long as you don't rip off the artists who write, record, and release it. Long live rock!

Merry Christmas!

To The Manor Born

Of all my friends, my mentor and dear friend Michael Butler has led one exceptional and interesting life. To the manor born is only part of his wonderful background. His stories are legendary and many a dinner party I will goad him into sharing some story about life on his farm in Oak Brook, IL or why he decided to produce Hair on Broadway or his glorious polo playing days or his friendship with politicians (The Kennedys) and movie stars (Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power) alike. He's the only individual to appear on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List... twice! Thankfully he's finally sharing his stories with the masses via his new podcast. These are perfect for consumption at any time of the day and worth sharing with your friends and family, too. Subscribe to Michael Butler's Memoirs on iTunes today.

Tricky Dicky Lives Again!

Harry Shearer was recently in town promoting his new brilliantly acted and expertly executed web series -- Nixon's The One! -- about Richard Milhous Nixon. Recently, I had the chance to listen to him wax poetic about Nixon, the production challenges of the show, share clips, and ponder why only Sky TV in UK funded the series. Why no one in the US would distribute it is still mind-boggling. Shearer and his actors memorized the actually transcripts from the actual Nixon White House tapes that had been in storage in the National Archives for over 40 years. He and Nixon historian Stanley Kutler (both credited as the show's writers) poured over hundreds of hours of transcripts before committing the series to film. Thanks to our friends at My Damn Channel, here's the first episode of the six-part series co-created by and starring Mr. Shearer. In this episode, Nixon learns how the taping system works, receives some serious ass-kissing from his lapdog Henry Kissinger, lectures dairy lobbyists on how to sell milk, and orders the tapes destroyed. Not to be missed. Share it with your children. It's the history lesson that keeps on giving!

NY ComicCon 2014!

It's time once again for NY ComicCon...

Check out my pals Mr. Gray and Richard Kind (the Mayor in the new hit TV show Gotham) in action. And don't forget to watch Mr. Gray getting grilled by David Lynch in the episode Getting Lynched!

9/11 Tribute - David Poe - "September"

Singer-songwriter David Poe's poignant acoustic guitar and vocal cover of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, with all the proceeds to benefit the 9/11 group Tuesday's Children, is profoundly disturbing and powerful at the same time. For those of us New Yorkers who lived through this heinous moment in world history, it is a tragic event that we will carry to our graves. But the event also sparked a level of human compassion and cooperation that shone a beacon of light and hope that the entire world could see. I've often contemplated how we can continue to keep that flame of optimism burning in a world that seems teetering on the brink of madness. Perhaps Max Pickwoad's video is the perfect reminder to bring us back to that moment of clarity when everything around us was literally collapsing but somehow hope still sprang eternal.

Song of the Day: Nada Surf - "No Quick Fix"

I became a bigger fan of the majestic, jangly pop-rock of Nada Surf once R.E.M. faded into the woodwork. Don't get me wrong, I dug the lads from Athens, GA., but their last few albums just didn't move me. Thankfully, the N.Y.C.-based Nada Surf continues to soldier on, 20+ years later, despite never reaping the benefits of the enormous success they so deserve. Nada Surf's latest effort, the digital release B-Sides (Barsuk Records), collects previously unreleased tracks and bonus material from the band's four previous studio albums (Let Go, The Weight Is a Gift, Lucky, and The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy), many of which have never been available digitally in the U.S. If you don't know this band, listen to the first single, "No Quick Fix," and start buying them today. Well worth the effort.

The Original Basement Tapes!

Much has been made of Columbia's epic failure to release the Americana juggernaut The Basement Tapes -- Bob Dylan and The Band's prodigious output of music recorded in Woodstock, NY in 1967. Well, that is all about to change in early November as that label's Legacy imprint finally gets it right. Read more »

Dusty Wright - "29 Palms"

This is an unreleased bonus track for my solo album If We Never... It's a cover from former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's 1993 Fate of Nations album. Cellist Matt Goeke lends his melodic playing throughout. Buy it today!

Video of the Week: Ásgeir - "King and Cross"

Some artists defy the odds, slowing building an audience until critical mass can be reached and a career can sustain itself. No easy feat in our dwindling music biz daze. All ready a star in his native Iceland, perhaps the indie folk singer-songwriter Ásgeir shall now conquer our vast expanse. From his exceptional album, In The Silence, here is "King and Cross" for your listening pleasure, certainly offering him a well-deserved advantage.

The Ramones - 1, 2, 3, 4!

Hard to believe that The Rolling Stones, half of The Beatles and The Who, and a dozen more bands that started a full decade before The Ramones (1974) have outlived them, and in many cases are still touring. They were one of my favorite punk bands ever... and with the recent death of Tommy Ramone (nee Thomas Erdelyi), all four original members of one of New York's finest bands ever, we are not "glad to see you go." The first three -- lead singer Joey (nee Jeffrey Hyman, died 2001), bass player Dee Dee (nee Douglas Colvin, died 2002), and guitarist Johnny (nee John Cummings, died 2004) -- all died only within six years after calling it quits. Read more »

The Songs Retain the Name

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III (Rhino)

The first three Zep albums have been remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page and re-released in various configurations including bonus discs and vinyl. Sonic upgrades with extra tracks -- both live tracks and songs-in-the-process -- once only found on bootlegs afford many new nuances in the tone and textures that were lost in previous versions. (The vinyl sounds amazing!) Suffice to say, they are ALL ESSENTIAL. Read more »

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 Read more »

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