In the wake of a devastating week for Japan, especially the northeastern Touhoku region where seaside towns and villages were washed away by a tsunami last Friday while the world watched in disbelief, many are exploring what they can do to help survivors and evacuees of this extraordinary catastrophe. Well, here is something fabulous happening this Saturday in San Francisco: New People, a specialty gallery/shopping/media complex located in Japantown, will be holding three special screenings of Hula Girls, a wonderfully heart-warming comedy featuring some of my favorite things: dancing, Polynesian pop, head-strong young heroines (coal-miner's daughters!), perseverance in the face of stodgy adversity and, of course, Japan. Based on true events that took place in 1960's Fukushima Prefecture, the same paralyzed zone experiencing a nuclear crisis having been hard hit by the recent natural disasters, this film is being shown as a fundraiser at $10 a ticket with 100% of the proceeds to be donated to NORTHERN JAPAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUNDS by Japantown's JCCCNC. Check out the trailer below:
Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! This year I thought I'd round up a Thin Lizzy tribute comprised of covers in a celebration of the rocker legacy Phil Lynott & friends gifted to inspired vagabonds the world 'round.
I am firm believer that there might not have been a "Run to the Hills" if it weren't for Thin Lizzy. Here is Iron Maiden's rather straightforward yet bad-ass version of "Massacre" from Lizzy's Johnny The Fox album. This track appears on the b-side of Maiden's "Can I Play With Madness" UK 12" single.
"Massacre" covered by Iron Maiden
Not too long ago I acknowledged the slim possibility of this show with little faith, but Poison frontman Bret Michaels has once again given me something to believe in, as it seems he's stirred up just enough shit-slinging hearsay-hype to kick-start this Jack and Aquanet fueled juggernaut of a tour into reality! At least Poison has the decency to yield top billing to the Crüe and work the New York Dolls into the equation. One might wonder what former New York Dolls fan club president Mr. Steven Morrissey is thinking right about now...
Morrissey - "Trash" (New York Dolls cover) Live in Dallas 1991
Tickets go on sale March 18th! Here is a list of tour dates; keep in mind that some dates have yet to be announced:
I love me some Disney but, please, if you're going to hoist their banner alongside yours, give Studio Ghibli the treatment their works deserve! While I'm ecstatic that visually gorgeous though plot-muddled Tales from Earthsea gets a slick, English-dubbed (featuring Willem Dafoe, no less) U.S. release today (on DVD/Blu-ray), it comes with the sinking feeling that some of the works included in the famed Disney-Tokuma (Ghibli's parent company Tokuma Shoten Publications) deal struck in the mid-80's will never see the light of the silver screen stateside. [*sigh*]
However, Tales from Earthsea, originally released in Japan in 2007 and the directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki --- son of acclaimed Ghibli auteur Hayao Miyazaki, is a tepid mess of thrilling animation that could take the edge off the recent disappointing news that Disney will be delaying the U.S. theatrical release of Arrietty the Borrower (Studio Ghibli's most recent work, currently enjoying top billing in France with DVD release expected soon in Japan, Europe and elsewhere) until February 2012 --- that is, if Disney decides to release it here at all. What an incredible understanding these two studios have!
Still this magical fantasy about the once-embattled relationship between humans and dragons and wizardfolk, whether clad in humble Gandalf garb (the good) or androgynous drag (the bad and the ugly), should leave fans of DreamWorks' How To Train Your Dragon feeling pants'd, in a good way. I've always felt that when comparing Disney and Studio Ghibli the difference is as much in the impression as it is in the message received; watching Disney reminds me of how rotten it used to feel when grown-ups talked down to me as a child, whereas watching Ghibli makes me recall those childhood instances when I was as excited as I was afraid of "growing up." Disney makes me want to stay in, but watching a great Ghibli film, and Tales from Earthsea is nowhere near the greatest, yet still pretty good, makes me want to go out afterwards and drink in the sweetness of existence. And not even the culture-washing power of Disney, what with their sometimes sub-sub-par English translations that carry over in to the dubbing and subtitles and wonky promotional trailers (see below), can bleed the beast of Studio Ghibli dry. In any case, if you're dying to get your Ghibli fix ASAP, you can bet your bottom-self "Chinatown special" that Amoeba will likely have bargain Arrietty the Borrower DVDs on sale soon after the rest of the world does, just like we did with Tales from Earthsea three years ago. In your face, Magic Kingdom!
Oh, man. I've been anticipating the release of this Little Wings record since, well, since Soft Pow'r dropped in 2007 because, real talk, I simply can't get enough of the stuff. Seriously, if his music was all I had to listen to for the rest of my life I can imagine living perfectly happy with that. So, I'll save myself from sharing what would certainly be an incredibly biased, glowing review of Black Grass (I only just received my record anyhow) and sum up my barely realized feelings about it thusly: it rules! The apple-tastic covert art hints at but a fraction of the symbolic baggage packed all up in that fresh LP sleeve and the *new* songs are as fresssh as the material devotees like me are surely already familiar with given the countless shows between albums, the Little Wings Daytrotter sesh last January and the ever-malleable nature of Kyle Field's approach to self-expression.
After an amazing (behooded, double-fisted microphone) Little Wings show at Amnesia earlier in January I chanced to speak with Kyle, who surprisingly and much to my embarrassment had heard about my one-off Little Wings cover band, and we agreed to scheme an instore gig (going down this Saturday, Feb. 26, 2pm at Amoeba Music in San Francisco) and do an interview as well -- check it out below!