Fleetwood Mac News – No Crow

Lindsey Buckingham did a roundtable press conference today, on which there will be more in a future article.  During the telephone sit-down, he addressed the rumors (Rumours?) about Sheryl Crow joining the band next year, and he didn’t pull any punches:

When Fleetwood Mac was touring [in support of 2003’s “Say You Will”], Christine McVie had left, having burned all her bridges, selling her house in L.A. and moving to England.  We divided material down the middle. I had a great time because it allowed me to be a guy on stage.  In retrospect, Stevie wasn’t as comfortable with that divide.  When it came to contemplating working next year… we [thought] bringing Sheryl Crow would be an intiguing idea.  We put out the feelers and that’s about as far as it got.  Last spring, Sheryl took it upon herself to tell the world she was joining Fleetwood Mac. It was in itself inappropriate – you sit down with a band and announce it.  It bothered Stevie a great deal and Mick as well.  I thought it was off the wall. There were some harsh words, and she was given her marching orders – not that she’d been in the band in the first place.

Lindsey went on to say that Fleetwood Mac is contemplating doing a “long term thing” beginning in early 2009, which included making a new record and touring.  He wasn’t certain that Crow understood that a commitment of 3-4 years was what he had in mind.  “Probably in January,  the band will start rehearsing, then see what happens,” he said.

No guarantees, but it sounds like the Mac is back.

The press conference was done as part of the promotional effort for “Gift of Screws,” which drops September 16,  It’s harder-rocking follow-up to 2006’s “Under the Skin,”  featuring contributions from Mac alums John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.  Buckingham says the boisterous title track lifted its’ chorus from an Emily Dickinson poem.  “I’m always looking to rip off things that are public domain,” he joked.  Lindsey went on to call the song, which sounds more like circa-1978 Elvis Costello than anything the Mac ever did, “Mick’s favorite drum track ever.  I played the album for him the other day, he came to my house, and he wishes it could have been on a Fleetwood Mac album.”

“Gift of Screws” was conceived way back in 1995, and shelved over the years due to Buckingham’s many (mainly Fleetwood Mac) commitments (he called them “interventions on solo work”).  Several cuts from the oft-bootlegged disk, including “Peacekeeper” and “Murrow In His Grave,” ended up on other records.  The new CD has only one surviving song from the original “Gift of Screws” – the title track – along with bits and pieces of a few others.

It’s a solid, electrified effort – lyrically mature, well-rounded and tight.  It might not be Buckingham’s most successful record ever – the music business has changed too much for that – but it’s among his best.  Lindsey’s Mac fans will feel right at home with songs like “Love Runs Deeper” (co-written with Buckingham’s wife) and “The Right Place To Fade,” which is reminiscent of a revved-up “Monday Morning.”

Lindsey Buckingham’s tour to support “Gift of Screws” begins September 7 in Saratoga, California; he’s in Lebanon, New Hampshire October 12, and Northampton, Massachusetts on October 14.  There are also shows in Boston and Ridgefield, Connecticut.  The tour ends October 19 in New York City.

Local Rhythms – Conventional Music

Politics and music make strange bedfellows – well, for one party anyway.  When fellow Georgians the Allman Brothers played to raise money for Jimmy Carter in 1976, it made complete sense. Linda Ronstadt singing for Jerry Brown was another no-brainer.  The two were dating at the time.

But when Ronald Reagan’s campaign tried to appropriate Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” in 1984, all I could think was – has anyone actually listened to this song?

The same thought crossed my mind when John McCain brought Reggaeton phenom Daddy Yankee to a rally the other day.  I don’t think “Gasolina” means what you think it does, Senator – not to mention “zorra.”

Perhaps McCain’s too crazy by half.   “A ‘genre’ of music with exactly one beat … the same song, over and over, and only the faces and presentation change,” wrote blogger Adam Serwer.  “Which is perfect for a campaign and a candidate who are offering more of the same.”

This brings me to the currently ongoing political conventions.  If you think the two parties can’t agree on health care, then check out their differences in music.

The Democrats brought the Black Eyed Peas to Denver, along with Rage Against the Machine and hemp spokesman Willie Nelson.  They will entertain a crowd that’s on average 20 years younger than their Republican counterparts who meet next week in Minnesota.

“I don’t think we can party as hard as they are now, but 20 years ago we could,” said a GOP convention talent organizer.  That explains their decades-old headliners: Styx, Sammy Hagar and the Beach Boys.

For the Dems, “old school” means Moby and Melissa Etheridge, both of whom play convention after-parties.  The Republicans?  Maybe Wayne Newton wasn’t available.

That’s not totally fair – the right does have a cutting edge of sorts.  Smashmouth plays St. Paul, but their biggest hit was a Monkees cover.  Country music, both new and old, is still reliably in the Republican corner, though, with LeAnn Rimes and the Bellamy Brothers topping a “Keep Florida Red” concert.

The GOP has “Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson, while the left’s convention parties include “Punk Rock 2008” and “Naughty Pierre’s Burlesque and Comedy Extravaganza.”

“Rock the Vote” didn’t even bother to send a band to the Twin Cities. That about says it all.

There’s a glimmer of bipartisan hope, however.  Colorado native son Big Head Todd is playing both conventions – a true independent.

How do things look closer to home?

Thursday: Mike & Mike, Lebanon Farmer’s Market – This duo play “progressive acoustic folk,” which could mean anything.  My recommendation isn’t about music – eating locally grown food is important.  It’s a small gesture in a world of mega-stores, but a vital one nonetheless.  Right now, the quality of produce available at Farmer’s Markets like this one – and others, in Claremont, Hanover, Bellows Falls – is superb.  You owe it to yourself to partake while the calendar still says “summer.”

Friday: Amity Front, Salt Hill Pub – Since this roots-rocking combo from Western Massachusetts cancelled a planned visit to Lebanon last spring, the Pub’s been trying to get them back.  They have a new album, “Border Towns,” with some real gems – the honky tonkin’  “Leave It All Behind” and the rave up “Cold Steel Bars” in particular.  It’s a fuller-sounding work that’s probably awesome live.

Saturday: Pariah Beat, Main Street Museum – Much to my regret, I missed the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival due to prior commitments. Pariah Beat and the aforementioned Amity Front performed at the mud-soaked affair, as did 12-year old musical prodigy Jason Meese, who joined PB for a bang-up version of Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm.” They then invited him to tonight’s show in White River Junction.  The Beat is celebrating the end of its recent East Coast tour.

Sunday: New World Music Festival, Chandler Music Hall – Cape Breton fiddle master Jerry Holland has been in town recently, giving seminars.  Today he performs, along with another 20 or so bands, at this all-day (noon till midnight) extravaganza.  The festival features Celtic and French Canadian music and dance performed on five stages.  Performers include John Doyle, Triptych and Yankee Chank (described as “Cajun and Creole dance music Vermont style”).

Tuesday: Hot Tuna & David Lindley, Higher Ground – What began as a Jefferson Airplane spin-off is still going strong forty years later.  Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady were Americana before anyone knew it was called that, weaving many musical threads together into something truly unique.  David Lindley, who can play anything with strings, could and does headline all the time, making this show a real bargain. (Also Thursday @ Calvin, Northampton)

Wednesday: Hunger Mountain Boys, West Whately (MA) Chapel – A few miles south of the Vermont border, something called “Watermelon Wednesday” has been happening all summer. Today, a twangy trio that pleased fans at Lebanon Opera House a few years back, settles in for an evening of retro fun.