Phil Lesh Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
October 31, 2006
Legendary Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The tumor was discovered after high PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels during a regular check-up prompted a biopsy. Because the cancer is in its early stages, Lesh is not planning on cutting back on his touring and expects to make a full recovery. He urges men to monitor PSA levels. Experimental rock god Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer at age 52 in 1993 in part because the disease was long un-checked. According to the National Cancer Institute, "Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, excluding skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States."
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:31 AM
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ARIAs Handed Out in Sydney
The Australian Recording Industry Association presented their annual ARIA Awards Sunday evening in Sydney. Although the evening was dominated by rock from Wolfmother and Silverchair in honor of Hall of Fame inductees Midnight Oil, singer/songwriters held there own. Bernard Fanning (lead singer of Powderfinger) took home male artist of the year, with Clare Bowditch earning female artist honors. The Audreys won the ARIA for best blues & roots album.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:06 AM
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The Bills Named Entertainers of the Year
October 23, 2006
Last night, at the Western Canada Music Awards, The Bills came away with the big prize for Entertainer of the Year. They beat out the formidable list of Jann Arden, The Road Hammers, Michael Buble and Corb Lund - all of whom are now by default defined as less entertaining than the band that broke on the roots music scene as the Bill Hilly Band. All of the nominees managed to take home other awards at the Winnipeg ceremony, including Corb Lund who picked up, well... whatever they hand out, for Songwriter of the Year, Outstanding Independent Recording and Outstanding Roots Recording for Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer (aka, my new favorite CD - keeping in mind how fickle I am). Lund's label, Stony Plain Records, was honored as the Independent Record Label/Distributor of the Year. Joel Fafard was recognized for ...and another thing in the Outstanding Instrumental Recording category.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:03 PM
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CBGB Closes its Doors for Good
October 17, 2006
CBGB, the legendary New York club that was the launching pad for the punk movement in the U.S., hosted its final concert (featuring acts such as Blondie and Patti Smith) on Sunday. The club's owner ran into hot water when he fell behind in the rent and the building's management saw a way to oust CBGB. Why does the club that's famous for presenting groups like the Ramones when they were unknown rate a mention in Folk Alley? Because CBGB stands for Country Blue Grass Blues - and that's how the club started 33 years ago. That there was more money in punk is somewhat sad (maybe folk would have more clout if we all drank more at clubs).
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 12:12 PM
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Recent Losses in the Folk Community
October 10, 2006
There have, unfortunately, been several notable deaths in the folk music community recently:
In July, Austin-based musician Bobby Doyle died at 66. Doyle, who was blind, was a well-known entertainer who appeared, in his earlier days, on the Joey Bishop Show and the Steve Allen Show. He toured with his own trio as well as Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Kirk MacGeachy, the tenor in the Montreal-centered Celtic band Orealis, died of an apparent heart attack at 56 in late August. He had performed to an enthusiastic audience at the Ottawa Folk Festival the night before. MacGeachy was also a professor at John Abbott College.
Late bloomer Don Walser, another Austin musician, was known as the "Pavarotti of the Plains" for his soaring tenor voice. Passing away at 72, he was discovered only 8 years earlier, signing with Sire Records (also home to Madonna and the Ramones). Walser was the subject of a Primetime Live segment.
Joe Glazer and the Elm City Four were the first artists to record a version of "We Shall Overcome" and he went on to establish himself as a troubadour for the Labor Movement. A union member himself, Glazer (who was 88) was regular at Labor rallies throughout the U.S. and around the globe, leaving an extensive library of recordings and other writings.
Etta Baker was recognized throughout the world as an influential blues guitarist. Baker, who died at 93, did not work as musician full-time until she turned 60. But she quickly made up for lost time, recording with Taj Mahal and winning a Folk Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Even though her health had caused her to slow down, she was still playing right up to the end.
Earl Heywood was Canada's #1 cowboy singer and a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. He first rose to fame as the host of Barn Dance shows on CKNX-AM in Wingham in the '40s and he was a successful songwriter as well. Heywood, who was 89 at his passing, recorded his first album for RCA in 1948.
One of the first professional dobro players, Josh Graves (who was 79) basically invented bluegrass dobro. He played with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs as part of the Foggy Mountain Boys and was named to the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor. He contributed his talents to many country and bluegrass albums and inspired artists such as Jerry Douglas and Mike Auldridge.
They will be missed.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 10:55 AM
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Fourth Annual Southern California Ukulele Festival
October 5, 2006
Uke enthusiasts unite! Founded by Susan McCormick, a uke teacher from Cypress, California in 2002, the Southern California Ukulele Festival is now in its fourth year and enjoying major success. New to the festival this year is Ukulele Club Night on Friday, where you can hear a free concert by your favorite Ukulele club. On Saturday, hear concerts and attend workshops all day, starting at 9 a.m. The festival finishes off with a luau (of course!) and an evening concert featuring Dan "soybean" Sawyer, Kimo Hussey Quartet and young Canadian uke hotshot James Hill. Aloha!
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:01 PM
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Marc Cohn Shooter Gets 36 Years in Prison
October 4, 2006
A man who shot and wounded singer/songwriter Marc Cohn during a botched Denver carjacking last year was sentenced to 36 years in prison.
Joseph Yacteen, 27, pleaded guilty in July to attempted first-degree murder. He was accused of firing a gun into a van carrying Cohn's band in a Denver parking garage in August 2005.
The bullet grazed driver/tour manager Thomas Dube before it lodged in Cohn's temple. Both were treated and released from a hospital the next day.
Police said Yacteen tried to steal the van and then forced four man out of another vehicle nearby. He was later found in a vacant house where police forced him out with tear gas after a standoff of nearly six hours.
Prosecutors dropped charges of second-degree assault, aggrivated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, menacing and first-degree criminal trespass, all felonies. Patricia Vail, 23, is accused of helping Yacteen and faces a felony accessory charge.
Best known for his early 1990s hit "Walking in Memphis," Cohn was not in the courtroom during sentencing.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:03 PM
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IBMA Awards Presented in Nashville
October 3, 2006
This weekend, The Grand Ole Opry played host to the 17th International Bluegrass Music Awards. The coveted Entertainer of the Year went to The Grascals--just one year after receiving the Emerging Artist of the Year award. Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder won Instrumental Group of the Year for the 8th year in a row, with Skaggs winning not just as an artist but as label chief as well. Rhonda Vincent broke her own record of six wins as Best Female Vocalist when she won for the seventh consecutive year. Male Vocalist went to Tim O'Brien, who also won Song of the Year. The Steep Canyon Rangers wrapped up the program by winning Emerging Artist of the Year.
In other categories, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver won Vocal Group of the Year, Tim O'Brien's "Look Down that Lonesome Road" won song of the year, Missy Raines took home bass player of the year, and fiddle player of the year went to Michael Cleveland.
For a full list of the winners, go to IBMA.org.
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:24 PM
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