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Rock the Casbah: Famous Music Venues

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The spirit of the infamous but now defunct New York music club CBGB will be reborn this summer, in the form of a music festival and movie. Originally intended to showcase the music styles it was named after (Country, BlueGrass, and Blues), CBGB became a breakout forum for Punk and New Wave bands like The Cramps, Ramones, Misfits and Talking Heads after it opened in 1973. Many mourned its closing in 2006 – but six years later, its death inspired a movie (coming to theaters in 2013) directed by Randall Miller and starring Alan Rickman as owner Hilly Kristal, Rupert Grint as Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome and Malin Akerman as Blondie’s Debbie Harry. The first CBGB music festival was also born this year, which will take place July 4 - 8 and will feature Cloud Nothings, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Guided By Voices and The War on Drugs. Here’s a look at some other infamous U.S. rock venues: Whisky A Go Go Location: Los Angeles, California Opened: January 16, 1964 Notable Acts: The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield and Love were regulars, and The Doors used to be the house band (until the debut of the oedipal lyrics in "The End" got them fired). Many British bands invaded the Whisky for their first headlining performances in the area, including The Kinks, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Oasis. One night…: The Doors opened for Van Morrison's band Them during a two-week residency in June, 1966. On the last night of the residency, the two Morrison bands (one headed by Jim, the other by Van) jammed together on "Gloria," a song written by Van Morrison that The Doors did their own sexually-charged cover of years later. Fillmore East Location: New York City, New York Opened: March 8, 1968 Notable Acts: Classic rock legends Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Led Zeppelin (opening for Iron Butterfly!) played this historic venue during the brief three years it was open. The Allman Brothers Band played so many shows there that they were sometimes called "Bill Graham's House Band," after venue promoter Bill Graham. One night…: Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys was recorded live at the Fillmore East on New Year's Day 1970. What some people wouldn’t give to have been there… Red Rocks Amphitheatre Location: Morrison, Colorado Opened: 1906 Notable Acts: From opera singer Mary Garden in 1911 to The Beatles in 1964 (the only concert not sold out during their US tour), this natural amphitheatre has hosted many bands throughout the years. Many more bands have recorded live albums there, including U2, Neil Young, R.E.M., Phish and Coldplay. There’s just something about Red Rocks… One night…: During a 1971 sold-out Jethro Tull performance, about a thousand fans showed up without tickets and were directed by police to an area behind the theater where they could still hear the music but not see the band. Growing unsatisfied with what they were given (as humans often do) the fans charged the amphitheatre and were met with clouds of tear gas from the police. The winds blew the tear gas over the gates and into the amphitheatre. This "Riot at Red Rocks" led to a five-year ban of rock concerts at the venue. But they couldn’t keep the rock out of Red Rocks for long…

Be sure to check out

The String Quartet Tribute to the Doors Available now at VSQ Online Store, iTunes and Amazon

and also:

The String Quartet to the Who's "Tommy"

The String Quartet to Led Zeppelin

The String Quartet Tribute to Coldplay

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The Hottest Songs About Ice Cream

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July is national ice cream month, and with temperatures rising all around the country, it is indeed the perfect time of year to indulge in a cold double scoop. It seems that this cool treat also makes musicians mighty hot, as many of rock’s greatest songs about ice cream and other assorted frozen treats are rife with sweet (and sexy) double entendres.

Ice Cream Man - Tom Waits In this bluesy, piano-laced, old school ditty, Tom Waits promises that “I'll be clickin' by your house about two forty-five/ sidewalk sundae strawberry surprise/ I got a cherry popsicle right on time/ big stick, mamma, that'll blow your mind.” We don’t think he’s referring to a classic chocolate and peanut covered Drumstick, although we could be wrong.

Popsicle – Talking Heads An ode to ice cream’s frozen sweet treat sibling the popsicle, this Talking Heads track gets fresh with lyrics like “Popsicle of love/ gimme gimme gimme one of those/ It's summertime, boy!” These exaltations are innocent enough, until singer David Byrne follows up with “I'm taking off my clothes, honey honey honey don't let go.” Does he mean don’t let go of the popsicle? Sarah Maclachlan – Ice Cream

The sweetest song of the bunch comes from songstress Sarah Maclachlan, who sings “your love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I’ve tried.” It must be some good love. Ice Cream Man - Van Halen In keeping with the thinly veiled ice cream analogies, Van Halen bon vivant David Lee Roth promises that “If you let me cool ya one time, you’ll be my regular stop” in this 1978 VH hit. Diamond Dave also wails that “All of his flavors are guaranteed to satisfy,” although we assume he doesn’t deal much in vanilla. Be sure to check out:

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Top 10 Brian Eno-Produced Albums

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In both his production work and his solo releases, self-described "non-musician" Brian Eno has had an incalcuable influence on the recording and production of modern rock/pop music. While his solo work is incredibly varied - running the gamut of glam rock to film soundtracks to New Age-influencing ambient electronics - he is perhaps most well known for his production work, from his more experimental 70s Talking Heads work to his more recent collaborations with mainstream artists Paul Simon and Coldplay. With a new solo record on the horizon (Small Craft On The Milk Sea, seeing release in November), now is as good a time as any to look back on his celebrated production career and pick out his very best works.

Talking Heads - Remain In Light

The obvious forerunner here, the Talking Heads' 1980 masterpiece is one of Eno's most enduring productions. An intoxicating hybrid of Afrobeat polyrhythms, electronics, and the Heads' increasingly cerebral pop melodicism, Eno crafted a strange yet immediately accesible sonic landscape that remains his most distinctive achievement.

U2 - The Joshua Tree

Co-produced with Daniel Laonis, The Joshua Tree is easily Eno's most commercially popular production. Marrying U2's soul-searching anthems with Eno's gorgeous electronic flourishes was a major coup for both, artistically and commercially; the record single-handedly turned U2 into rock superstars and launched Eno's mainstream career.

Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

Of Eno's leanest and least obtrustive production jobs, Devo's debut record remains a high water mark for both parties. While Eno's trademark layered electronics are in short supply here, he allows the group's nervy deconstructionist pop songs to build and seethe, making for an exceptionally tense and memorable record.

David Byrne and Brian Eno - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

A collection of melodic, funky instrumentals interwoven with a varied collection of vocal samples - from radio show hosts to preachers - Bush of Ghosts was an utterly original release in 1981. While sampling had been done before, Eno's idea to use said samples as "lead vocals" was new, influencing hip hop to modern dance pop and beyond.

David Bowie - Low

Although not technically produced by Eno (due credit must be paid to Tony Visconti and Bowie himself), his presence on Low is crucial and unmistakable. Pushing Bowie's songwriting to bizarre new heights while offering the foreboding instrumental "Warszawa," Eno and Bowie reveal a window into the haunting future of rock 'n roll.

Brian Eno - Another Green World

Considered by many to be Eno's finest solo release, Another Green World combines his underrated sense of pop melodicism with his increasing interests in ambience and expansive electronics. Foreboding, lovely tracks like "Becalmed" and "Zawinul" directly foreshadow the work Eno would be making for the next quarter century.

Paul Simon - Surprise

The new millenium sparked some of Eno's most mainstream production work yet, culminating with his, well, surprising collaboration with Paul Simon. As unusual as it might sound on paper, Eno's warm arrangements fit with Simon's songwriting like a glove, resulting in one of his most inviting works.

Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois - Apollo (Atmospheres And Soundtracks)

Eno's ambient releases explore a wide variety of moods and textures, but Apollo (Atmospheres And Soundtracks) is perhaps his most distinctive; a collection of moody atmospherics combined with Laonis's warm guitar tones, it gives the listener the distinct feeling of floating in space, making for a quintessential late-night record.

Ultravox - Ultravox!

Eno's pioneering work in the mid-70s can't be understated; he was almost single-handedly responsible for pushing synth-pop and New Wave into the forefront of popular culture. Ultravox's debut record makes this clear, offering a hard-hitting early glimpse into the development of an exciting new genre.

David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Eno's second collaboration with David Byrne is markedly different effort than their first, forgoing the experimental route for a collection of sweet, homespun melodies. Marrying gospel with deep electronics and pushing the strongest vocals of Byrne's career into the forefront, it is perhaps Eno's most accessible and enjoyable album.

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Peter Gabriel Gets His Indie On, New LP Scratch My Back

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Oh, I really should apologize to Peter Gabriel. I had pretty much written him off. I thought he was done, at least in the current-pop-culture-relevancy context. I don’t mean to downplay the immense contributions he’s made over the years because, really, kudos to him, man. I just thought he was, ya know, done. But then he goes and pulls a Johnny Cash and surprises the hell out of all of us. But with once-a-decade studio LPs, nothing should really be all that shocking. That said, PG’s newest release, Scratch My Back, is shocking, in a great way. First of all, the LP consists entirely of cover songs. And the picks are insane. No one would’ve pegged the former Genesis member for picking these 12 songs, out of all the songs in the world to choose. He credits at least some of his exposure to indie music to his daughter and after hearing Gabriel’s cover of Flume by Bon Iver, I’m about to send that girl some flowers or something; it’s amazing, quite simply. His choice to use only orchestral arrangements in lieu of traditional pop instruments makes some songs simply more interesting, while really doing something amazing for others; He takes Regina Spektor’s Apres Moi, to newly dark, cinematic, lofty places that the original song hinted at, even if he does lack her signature stop-motion vocal acrobatics. Without getting all fangirl, it is sufficient to say that the rest of the album holds up just fine. Release date is February 15th, 2010. Stream the album here.


01 "Heroes" (David Bowie) 02 "The Boy in the Bubble" (Paul Simon) 03 "Mirrorball" (Elbow) 04 "Flume" (Bon Iver) 05 "Listening Wind" (Talking Heads) 06 "The Power of the Heart" (Lou Reed) 07 "My Body Is a Cage" (Arcade Fire) 08 "The Book of Love" (The Magnetic Fields) 09 "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" (Randy Newman) 10 "Après moi" (Regina Spektor) 11 "Philadelphia" (Neil Young) 12 "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" (Radiohead)

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Top 10 Bands That Should Reunite

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Reunions are all the rage in the last few years, and bands are coming out of seemingly nowhere to take any high paying offers to do one-off shows or entire tours. Any band that has had a mild hit has pretty much reunited, unless a member has died. Luckily, there are still many great bands that have resisted the color of money to reunite, but here’s to hoping they still see the light.

10. The Fugees

Who doesn’t remember watching the video for “Killing Me Softly”? These guys did have a way with words, and Lauryn Hill is Roberta Flack’s long lost sister.


A great DC band that retreated once they began getting a bit of recognition. Both guys were amazing multi-instrumentalists that inspired a lot of bands today.

8. The Kinks

Will the Davies brothers ever reconcile and do a reunion? They both say it’s very bloody unlikely.

7. Fugazi

Another hugely influential DC band that has been on an “extended hiatus” for quite some time now. I think after 8 years we can safely say they are no more, but what a reunion that’d be.

6. The Smiths

The king of broody music, Morrissey, wouldn’t be caught dead on stage with Johnny Marr and the rest of the Smiths, not for millions of dollars. All the pre-emo children will rejoice if this ever happens, so keep that mascara handy.

5. Talk Talk

Most people remember this band for their hit “It’s My Life” that No Doubt covered many years later. The fact is, these guys basically started the post-rock movement and did some amazing things when everyone was still stuck listening to INXS.

4. At the Drive In

If you’ve ever caught video of an old ATDI show, you’ve seen how dangerous it was to be a spectator. There is no band that even touched these guys in ingenuity and energy. This reunion could happen someday, but Jim Ward and the Mars Volta guys will need to play nice.

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor

In an era of financial ruin and war at every turn, what better soundtrack is there than a series of symphonies spelling the end of days? No one did it better than this Montreal collective.

2. Neutral Milk Hotel

Jeff Magnum may never feel the need to play in front of a crowd again. If he ever wakes up one day with a desire to let hipsters everywhere die happy, he could gather the other Elephant 6 guys and play “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” from front to back.

1. Talking Heads

David Byrne doesn’t need the rest of the Talking Heads, at least that’s what he’s shown in the past 10 or so years since they’ve disbanded. But the magic that Stop Making Sense shows when all four of them played together is undeniable, though the reunion may never happen. Honorable Mentions: Wham! Mr. Bungle Uncle Tupelo The Dead Kennedys Velvet Underground DFA 1979 The Postal Service Sleater-Kinney

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