Category Tributes

Leaving Traces and Circles Around The Sun: Farewell Neal Casal (1968-2019)

Neal Casal was a multi-tasking, multi-genre musical threat: a fine singer, composer, and detail-oriented storyteller; a fluid and lyrical lead player as well as bedrock-solid rhythm guitarist; and an unassuming personality who proved a versatile sideman and good-natured complement to the legends and stars in the spotlight.

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A LATE BLOOMER IN FULL FLOWER: Becoming Asa Brebner (1953-2019)

“I don’t believe in God, but I believe in music and sharing that with other people. That’s kind of my religion. If I have a religion, that’s what it is.”
— Asa Brebner

PICTURES AT ELEVEN: Drawing Dad Close Amid The Lines Of A Life

Leafing through one of my decades-old sketchbooks while unpacking from our exciting but exhausting move from Boston to Philadelphia last summer, I flipped through, with casual curiosity, the sturdy paper stock pages of pencil drawings, mostly of superheroes and baseball players and my dank cabin at my first (and only) sleep-away camp. As I turned […]

Rocking The 617 24-7: Inside the Vortex of a Spectacularly Noisy Universe

It speaks volumes — maybe decibels is a better word — about the consistent musical vitality of this city that I simply could not keep up with all of the adventurous, surprising, inspiring, and thrilling music that reached my ears over the years. But man, I tried.

KING HENRY THE BRAVE: Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s Life and Numbers Beyond 755

Henry Aaron is 84 years old now. And as hard as it may be to believe, the number of distant springs that have passed since he made his storied and successful homerun record-breaking bid now amounts to more than half his age. It was 44 years ago this week — a fitting number, indeed — […]

WALTER BECKER (1950-2017), STEELY DAN’S CO-ARCHITECT OF IMPOSSIBLE COOL

What sometimes seemed like so much shiny “Pop” on the outside  — and yes, much of it certainly was intelligent, immaculately crafted pop music (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”; “Hey Nineteen,” “FM” etc.) — Steely Dan’s music held a far more slippery substance, both instrumentally and lyrically, that simmered and squirmed inside that lacquered shell of crisp studio perfection.

CHRIS BELL’S PURE POP COSMOS: Big Star’s Other Bright Light

News that a biography and at least three vinyl compilations of the work of Big Star co-founder Chris Bell are coming out this year — including “The Complete Chris Bell,” a massive six-LP (!) retrospective due July 7 by Omnivore Recordings (the same folks who’ve issued some tasty Big Star releases in recent years, including […]

NOTES FROM THE MEMORY MOTEL: Half A Century of Stones in Two Days

To truly consider the Rolling Stones, it’s simply not adequate to ponder a clutch of hit singles or a few best-selling albums, or even an epochal moment or movement in music history. No, to properly contemplate the Stones is to throw a wide net across the stretching seas of the decades encompassing music, fashion, and culture that’s informed their existence (and vice versa). And bring your magnifying glass and microscope.

REGARDING THE END: Life, Death, and The Wondrous World of Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy

Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy conjure a mostly deserted world of long, lingering shadows where guys like Nick Cave and Mark Eitzel brood in a half-light that’s either salvation or damnation — a distinction that depends on whether you think being alone is solitude or isolation. A world where the songs thread through a musty room and gather there like settling smoke. Eventually, if you’re lucky, a cracked window swings open from the wind, bringing a new beam of sound and a fresh light with it to remind you that you’re alive.

FLASHING STAR: The Gorgeous Gospel of Kevin Junior’s Chamber Strings

Not nearly enough people got the chance (or took the time) to listen to the music Kevin Junior made during his short lifetime, which ended one year ago today at age 46. But there’s a good chance that most of those who did have never forgotten what they heard. And hear still. Today we’re remembering […]

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