Ben Easton

Ben Easton is a writer and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. He’s a member of The Academy Blues Project (ABP), a rock quartet with whom he has recorded and produced six records. Easton performs in-residence at Sid Gold’s Request Room, NYC’s flagship modern piano bar, playing Live Piano Karaoke sessions from a repertoire of 2,000 popular songs. Once, while stopped at a red light in Nashville, he received an unprompted, but nevertheless welcomed, wink and toothsome smile from Little Richard through a tinted car window. Favorite covers record of the moment: To Love Somebody - The Songs Of The Bee Gees 1966-1969.

Apr 122022
 
Jack White National Anthem Detroit Tigers

Jack White is coming off a gangbusters weekend. Last Friday saw the release of Fear of the Dawn, White’s first of two solo albums that will be released this year. He also kicked off his Supply Chain Issues Tour, supporting the new record with a sold-out hometown show at the Detroit Masonic Temple (where a side auditorium bears his name in tribute). As reported by the Detroit Free Press, he also got married on stage on Friday night to his longtime girlfriend, the musician and songwriter Olivia Jean (in the wake of a performance of The White Stripes’ matrimonially-minded “Hotel Yorba” and just a few miles down the road from the song’s namesake). If this all weren’t enough, Jack White also made a midday appearance at Detroit’s Comerica Park baseball stadium on the very same day — playing his first cover of the National Anthem for the Detroit Tigers Opening Day game. Continue reading »

Apr 052022
 
Elvis Presley David Fenech Pierre Bastien

Elvis Presley was many things: rock n roll luminary, Hollywood workhorse, peanut butter and banana sandwich maven. But rarely, if ever, is The King considered avant-garde. His music, movies and moves may have been rebellious at the outset, but it’s hard to deny that Elvis was entrenched in the mainstream for the whole of his career. This spring though, a pair of open-minded French musicians, David Fenech & Pierre Bastien, bring The King into uncharted, and decidedly more esoteric, cultural territory: the 21st-century noise-rock underground. Elvis swiveling around on bespoke Bandcamp pages and on limited white-label LP pressings — whoda thunk? Continue reading »

Mar 212022
 

For a certain ilk of artist, boutique destination music festivals in Mexico have become a recent mainstay of the January/February touring cycle (or lack thereof — who wouldn’t want to scuttle off to Mexico for a lost weekend rather than tour in the depths of winter?). Acts like Wilco, Brandi Carlile and an array of others in the indie/jam/rock firmament have been parading down south of the border to the all-inclusive resorts of Riviera Maya. Though Dead & Co.’s plans were thwarted this winter by the Omicron variant in the final hour, many other acts were still able to perform without snafus or health scares. Atop the heap of performers who made their way successfully to Riviera Maya, Mexico this February were My Morning Jacket, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and Phish. Continue reading »

Mar 172022
 

Billy Joel isn’t taking too many wild musical swings these days. His performing life mostly revolves around a once-monthly helicopter commute from Long Island to Madison Square Garden, where he has performed in-residence, save for a pandemic pause, since 2014. While some artists use their runs at the Garden to pull out deep cuts or spontaneous stunts, the hallmark of Joel’s performances—which now exceed 100—has long been their reliability. In a given MSG setlist you can count on hearing all of Joel’s hits in fine form, albeit in a slightly different jumble from month-to-month. A surprise grab might constitute relative standbys like “Zanzibar” or “All For Leyna.” Even in the realm of covers, Joel and his long-running band haven’t gone much beyond a trusty rotation of karaoke rock anthems. Play it, Piano Man. Continue reading »

Feb 252022
 
Lake Street Dive The Beatles

Multi-genre combo Lake Street Dive have shared a version of The Beatles’ “Two of Us,” filmed live on a rooftop in Brooklyn. As with their cover of “Don’t Let Me Down,” released for Halloween 2020, the video finds LSD’s members fully bedecked in the Fab Four’s iconic Rooftop Concert garb: vocalist Rachael Price as Lennon; bassist Bridget Kearney as a spitting-image McCartney; keyboardist Akie Bermiss as Billy Preston; and drummer Mike Calabrese in a Ringo red puffy shirt. Guitarist-songwriter Vilray, musical compatriot of LSD and Price’s duet partner in the pair’s sideproject Rachael & Vilray, guests with the song’s iconic guitar riff. Continue reading »

Feb 242022
 
Grateful Dead Jimmy Fallon

Since the Grateful Dead’s earliest heights in the ‘70s and through until today, countless bands, from local crews to amphitheater-ready supergroups to offshoots that feature musicians/members from within the Dead’s own orbit, have built entire careers around worming into the Dead’s vast, varied catalog. At the peak of the present-day scene are a pair of infallible groups, Dark Star Orchestra and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. But solidly just a few rungs beneath are The Stolen Faces, the Dead tribute act based in Nashville. Last week, The Stolen Faces had a special guest appearance from one Jimmy Fallon, who joined the tribute band on stage at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl for a version of the Dead’s “Tennessee Jed.” Continue reading »