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Preview: Apollo 11 Celebration Concert with Duran Duran

 
By on Tuesday, 9th July 2019 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo of the Rocket Garden from the Kennedy Space Center; NB: TGTF returns for a short time this month for a preview of an upcoming unique event that has personal meaning to me.

Next Tuesday is a major anniversary for American space history and indeed, humanity itself. On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft launched into outer space from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the world collectively held its breath.

In the Sixties, the Space Race was a real, wholly palpable, politically-driven contest between America and the then-U.S.S.R. to see whose spaceflight program would reign supreme. Following the Apollo 11 moon landing, the contest was over. The legacy of the Apollo 11 mission went far beyond its literal success. Sending a man to the moon had been seen as an impossibility. Once achieved, it has stood as an example of human ingenuity and an inspiration to all to that amazing things are possible if you never give up.

In 1981, a New Romantic band from Birmingham, England, released their debut single. Like the success of the Apollo 11 mission 12 years earlier that provided direct inspiration, ‘Planet Earth’ by Duran Duran was something special and like nothing that had come before it. Early music from the group was a blend of disaffected synthesizer notes and programmed beats, funky bass lines and drum beats reminscent of disco, and crashing guitar. The poetic lyrics of Simon LeBon brought everything together.

Duran Duran have reached legendary rock band status through their longevity – 40 years in the business and count ‘em, 14 studio albums and a 15th on the way – and yet their fascination with space has never really gone away. They even named their 2004 reunion album ‘Astronaut’. So who better that them to perform a late night (la la la ‘Late Bar’) show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch? To call this is a once in a lifetime event is an understatement. Part of the proceeds of show ticket sales will benefit STEAM education programs of the non-profit Aldrin Family Foundation, supporting children’s education in science.

Duran Duran and NASA have a unique connection in my heart. My father was a physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for most of his working life. As a college graduation present, he agreed to take me to Tokyo to see the ‘Pop Trash’ Duran Duran line-up perform there. What an experience to hear ‘Anyone Out There’, ‘Mars Meets Venus’, and ‘Last Day on Earth’ live and in another country! It was the first time I had been abroad to see a rock show. I haven’t stopped traveling for gigs since.

My late father’s colleagues told me that he had reached somewhat ‘rock star’ status himself there once it was learned he’d taken his daughter to see Duran Duran in a foreign country. After we returned from our trip, he excitedly forwarded me this internal memo reporting that Duran Duran’s ‘Hold Back the Rain’ was used as an encouraging wake-up call to the astronauts on space shuttle Atlantis returning home. I think it’s safe to say there must be more than a few NASA staff who are Duran Duran fans! Although I cannot attend, I hope some of these hard-working people get to attend this unique show under the stars. I know my father will be there. If you’re lucky enough to live close by or to travel for this event, you can attend, too!

Tickets to this special late-night Duran Duran show at the Rocket Garden of the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, cost US$300.00. Get your tickets from the Kennedy Space Center’s official Web site here; note that the ticket price includes parking but does not include daytime admission to the center.

 

Love is the end…

 
By on Friday, 5th April 2019 at 11:00 am
 

Header and in-text photo by Abel Maestro Garcia in Andalucia, Spain

A funny thing about change. When you’re the one changing, it can be hard for others to see you as something other than what you have been and what you have been to them.

I knew there would come a time where I would draw the curtains and turn the lights out at There Goes the Fear. After a year as USA Editor and after I took over the reins of TGTF from founder Phil Singer in the summer of 2010, it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose sleep or skip meals to write and work on my photos for my posts. I went through eye strain and posture problems and heard repeated concerns from my doctors that my fatigue was being exacerbated by my overdoing my loyalty to TGTF.

Still, I persisted. I feel proud of the artists we’ve introduced to you before they became household names and award winners, as well as those who didn’t reach such heady heights. I have always felt the two primary pieces to the remit of TGTF were 1) to help artists along in their careers, to the point where they could have self-sustaining careers and 2) to bring them to the attention of you, the readers, who might not otherwise have come across them. I’ve spent a quarter of my life (so far) on something that has become way bigger than a Chinese-American girl from the DC suburbs could ever have imagined. I take great pride in what we have accomplished here.

I will look back at my 10 years of music blogging here at TGTF with much fondness. I interviewed and got to write about so many great musicians and their music. I got to travel and cover music events around the world, some of which where we ran showcases. I had the privilege of working with some wonderful writers, and I thank them all for their contributions here. If you read an article here and stepped away with a new musical love, or you’re in a band or manage one and we helped you be more financially successful, then I’d say we achieved our key goals.

Before my last birthday, nearing the end of November 2018, I heard an avuncular voice say to me in a soothing tone something intriguing. “You have been writing about the lives of so many others. Now is the time to write about your own.” With this invisible nudge from the divine, I will be working on writing up my memoirs of the many experiences I’ve had through TGTF and in my own personal life.

This isn’t goodbye forever. TGTF will still be online but in a dormant state for some time. If, while your visit here now or in the past, you find something useful to you, I’d appreciate it if you could click on an ad or two on the Web site. Just as before, any ad revenue collected will go back into hosting costs. There may be the occasional Tweet to the @tgtf Twitter or post to the TGTF Facebook account. I will still be around and available on @theprintedword if you simply want to say hey.

When I was in university, I used to say to myself that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the music that comforted me in my darkest days. Music is, and will continue to be, the greatest uniting force we have as human beings. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support of me, our writers and of course, the musicians and bands.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2019: this year’s recommended keynotes and speakers

 
By on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 at 11:00 am
 

Every year without fail, you can count on the SXSW Conference to bring you an illuminating parade of industry visionaries and artists speaking next month in Austin. In a few weeks, there will be an awe-inspiring selection of sessions to sit in on and engage with as part of 2019’s Conference. Below is just a smattering of what music programming is on offer this year.

A$AP Rocky and Gorden Wagener (Monday, 11 March, 12:30 PM) – The announcement of A$AP Rocky as a SXSW 2019 showcasing artist has been huge. Quite possibly as huge is his session on the 11th of March to discuss his success with development and sales of his own athletic wear and accessories. (You can check out a recent interview he did with Los Angeles radio station Power 106 before a live appearance at the Forum.) Joining him in this session is Gorden Wagener of Daimler AG, responsible for directing everything related to the customer experience at Mercedes-Benz. The importance of creativity, branding and fans and followers will no doubt be discussed in this session.

T-Bone Burnett (Wednesday, 13 March, 11 AM) – He may not be a household name you recognise, but you definitely know his work. Musician, producer and songwriter T-Bone Burnett has composed the soundtracks for countless films and produced many albums, including those that launched the careers of Counting Crows and Los Lobos while helping reinvent and relaunch those of Gregg Allman and Roy Orbison. Burnett will be releasing his 13th album ‘The Invisible Light’ in April, so he’ll be chomping at the bit to talk about his newest work.

David Byrne (pictured at top) (Wednesday, 13 March, 12:30 PM) – The former frontman of Talking Heads and multi-award winner will be speaking about Reasons to Be Cheerful, a platform to drive social change he launched last year. The purpose of the Web site is to give people the tools and information to make changes locally to social issues as diverse as climate and energy to transportation. For a taste of what Byrne might talk about, I’ve embedded below a talk Byrne gave in early January 2018 at the New School in New York City.

Lance Bass (Wednesday, 13 March, 12:30 PM) – You remember him, Lance was the blond bass singer in *NSYNC. In case you somehow missed this, since his former ‘90s boyband’s implosion, he has become an actor of stage and screen and a gay activist. He even had a turn on Dancing With the Stars. Perhaps it’s surprising that his appearance at SXSW 2019 will be to talk about his current career as a film and tv producer. Like Madonna, Cher and many other legends in the music business, he’s proven resilient in successfully reinventing himself, his time as *NSYNC fading into the distance.

Shirley Manson and Lauren Mayberry (keynote; Thursday, 14 March, 11 AM) – These two female titans of Scottish music will be appearing at Thursday morning’s Music keynote. It’s being presented in association with PRS Foundation’s Keychange programme and will be centred on discussions about “creativity, the music industry and the female identifying narrative.” Both have been outspoken on feminism and and equality in the business; below, watch an interview with Mayberry at Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass.

Laura Jane Grace (Thursday, 14 March, 2 PM) – Formerly the founder and frontman of punk band Against Me!, Grace is a transgender musician who has become a role model for those struggling with gender identity and dysphoria. With her new band Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, Grace is headed in a decidedly more intimate direction with her first solo album. The changes in her life over the last 6 to 7 years have thrust her more into the public limelight, and I’m sure she’ll be using this platform at SXSW 2019 to revisit key events, as well as discuss the music she’s making while Against Me! is on hiatus.

Björn Ulvaeus and Niclas Molinder (Thursday, 14 March, 3:30 PM) – Ulvaeus is best known as a Swedish songwriter and producer of international giants ABBA and the co-composer of Mamma Mia! and other Broadway musicals. He will be making a stop at SXSW 2019 along with Niclas Molinder; both are cofounders, along with famed pop songwriter and producer Max Martin and manager Ash Pournouri, of Auddly. Auddly is described on the SXSW Web site as “rapidly setting the standard for how music creators, their collaborators and their representatives are identified along with accrediting their contributions in compositions and recordings.” A worthy enterprise, indeed. Ulvaeus seems like such a great interviewee, as evidenced from the BBC One Show clip from last year below.

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond (keynote; Friday, 15 March, 11 AM) – The surviving members of seminal NYC hip-hop trio Beastie Boys will be stopping by SXSW this year for the Friday morning keynote session during the Music part of the SXSW Conference. Late last year, Horovitz and Diamond released Beastie Boys Book, 6 years on from the untimely death of their bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch.

Ross Golan (Friday, 15 March, 11 AM) – Like T-Bone Burnett described above, Ross Golan isn’t exactly a name that will ring too many bells but I can guarantee you’ve heard and appreciate his work. Golan penned Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ and 5 Seconds of Summer’s ‘Mrs. All American’, among others. However, I don’t think Golan will be in Austin to rest on his songwriting laurels and will be speaking on something else near and dear to many artists and managers’ hearts. He’s a major champion of the Music Modernization Act, which was signed into U.S. law last October and aims to move forward with better best practices in issues of copyright in the digital age. He’ll be discussing this, along with the future of songwriting.

As always, the schedule of events at SXSW 2019 is subject to change. For the most up-to-date information on the SXSW Conference, visit SXSW’s official Web site.

 

Single Review: Low Island – In Person

 
By on Wednesday, 6th February 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo of Low Island by Dan Kendall

In the South of England, the lofty spires of University of Oxford loom above a city that consistently punches above its weight in the production of quality bands. You know them: Radiohead, Swervedriver, Foals, Stornoway, Glass Animals. Are Low Island next? They have named themselves after the geological term for a land mass surrounded by water but of the most unusual origin. You see, a low island is formed not from the activity of volcanoes (think Hawaii, Indonesia, etc.) but instead from the dirt and rocks that build up on top of a coral reef.

The band’s moniker is quite on the humble foundations on which they began: Jamie Jay and Carlos Posada used to DJ in Leeds back in the day and they’ve taken their first-hand knowledge of how to get people on the dance floor to influence their electronic-driven dance pop. The childhood friends’ music follows in the great tradition of Friendly Fires and Holy Ghost! and has been already been compared to the xx and Caribou. Last week, Low Island released their latest single, ‘In Person’, and it’s super.

The tune begins with 3 seconds of a sci-fi arc of sound, followed by a sexy, swaggery drum beat. Posada’s voice, as well as a bouncy synth line, come in to provide additional catchiness. It’s the kind of song with so many things going on at the same time, you know it would be amazing to watch live. That is, if you can stand still long enough not to groove along with them; I don’t think I could hold myself back. Lyrically, ‘In Person’ takes on the paradox of social media:. Despite our theoretical ability to keep in touch with each and every one of our friends on a multitude of platforms, and from a piece of metal in the palm of your hand to boot, keeping in touch as we get older doesn’t seem to get any easier. Technology has wreaked havoc on our ability to communicate and interact with each other. What’s the take home message? I think Low Island just want us to dance. I won’t argue with them. Check them out on their UK tour in March and April.

 

2018 – Still Want to Be Here

 
By on Monday, 24th December 2018 at 11:00 am
 

How have you been getting on? From our stats, most of our readers are either from America, somewhere in the UK or the Continent. That means you’ve probably been paying close attention to the shenanigans of our President and the wrangling between Parliament and the EU. This time of year 2 years ago, I wrote about the Brexit vote; so I won’t write further on the subject now. It seems since I switched over from the ‘best of’ year-end post, there’s only been more and more uncertainty. As I discussed with a friend a few days ago, as the earth enters its time to regenerate, it’s a time for reflection and introspection. 2019 will also be a year of change here at TGTF. More on that in the coming weeks.

2018 was another year of difficult losses in the music world. Troubled Swedish musician and DJ Avicii lost his battle with substance abuse. Irish vocal heroine Dolores O’Riordan, famed as the lead singer of the Cranberries, passed away after a long battle with mental illness. Another strong woman with superhuman singing talent, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, passed away in the summer. The loss of Roy Clark, an American icon of country music, was mourned across America. Like bookends, two influential Lancastrian legends of rock, Mark E. Smith and Pete Shelley, left us in January and December, respectively.

As I understand from more friends than I can count, the most difficult passing of this year was Frightened Rabbit leader Scott Hutchison. Having gone missing one evening in May, we all hoped he would be found safe and sound. Some friends have told me that we should have done more, that we should have known that Scott would have tried to take his life, that ‘Floating in the Forth’ was a hint, a blueprint we should have heeded. As I’ve written before in this piece about the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and in other posts, mental illness is insidious and the pain from it that drives people to end their lives can’t be for nothing.

Since Scott’s passing, I had the opportunity to visit Glasgow twice. Just days after his death, I paid my respects to Michael Corr’s stirring mural made in his honour. In all the conversations I’ve had with friends about Scott’s legacy, the one thing we all soundly agreed on was that it’s becoming easier for musicians to talk about their mental health struggles. That can only be a good thing.

I want to leave you with a holiday video from Gurr and Eddie Argos (Art Brut) I wish you regular readers, musicians, bands, management and PR a happy Christmas, wonderful holidays, and a successful and prosperous new year. See you in 2019!

 

Single Review: Drenge – Bonfire of the City Boys

 
By on Tuesday, 11th December 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Gareth O’Malley

It’s been a while since Derbyshire-based trio Drenge have graced our ears with new material, but they have plenty to come. The band broke their silence at the start of the year with a tour announcement, their first since wrapping up their commitments for sophomore album ‘Undertow’. Their comeback ‘Autonomy’ EP was released in October, with the title track set to appear on their forthcoming third album ‘Strange Creatures’ due next February, along with their latest LP offering ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’.

On the violent, snarling beast of a track, Drenge sound considerably heavier than most will remember them. Rob Graham’s stuttering bassline guides the track through its first verse as lead singer Eoin Loveless’s rapid-fire, spoken word delivery takes centre stage. A palpable sense of tension hanging in the air as he speeds through two chaotic verses: “There are millions of people out there: fucking, fighting, eating and sleeping / And we are not one of them, oh no / We are the fly in the ointment / The hair in the food / The snag, the catch, the conundrum.”

The first verse gives way to a juddering guitar riff that helps to alleviate the tension for a brief moment, before returning in full force after the song builds to a shout-along chorus defined by its searing intensity. Its 4 minutes seem to pass in a flash, the trio indulging themselves in noise rock and offering us a red-hot taster of the new record. ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ should do a lot to alter people’s perceptions of the band; far from the middle-of-the-road indie rock of their contemporaries, the trio have set their sights on making a real statement and aren’t pulling their punches. Hopefully the new album will be a similarly ferocious affair.

8/10

‘Strange Creatures’ will be released on the 22nd of February 2019 on Infectious Music. A UK tour in March and April will follow the album release. More on Drenge here on TGTF is available through here.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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