The Lilacs Help Lead an International Pop Overthrow in Chicago

The Lilacs play International Pop Overthrow festival at the Heartland Cafe in Chicago. April 21, 2018 (Photo by Kevin Sanders) The International Pop Overthrow festival landed in Chicago this past weekend as David Bash — the Bill Graham of powerpop — brought a few dozen bands together for four-chord harmony-laden guitar pop. The festival is in its 18th year and has conquered over a dozen cities

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Visiting Jimmy Cliff’s Birthplace After Thirty Years of Adoring His Music

Jimmy Cliff in France, 2012 (Wiki) There’s no way to write about visiting Jamaica on a cruise ship without coming off like Michael Scott wearing a braid after his trip to Sandals. Nevertheless, my insistence, dreaded by my children, on venturing into the actual real life of these magical places we are occasionally fortunate to visit, is the most rewarding part of our trips together. While our

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International Pop Festival Electrifies Liverpool’s Legendary Cavern Club

Ken Kurson plays The Cavern Club in Liverpool, UK, May 21, 2017 (Alma Evert)
Yesterday, I played a few of my songs for the crowd at the Cavern Club. Let me write that again because I still can’t believe it occurred. On Sunday, May 21, this 48-year-old fading modernist took the stage at the very place on Mathew Street in Liverpool where The Beatles

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Steve Perry Sings a Song Called ‘Crushing Disappointment’; Fails to Join Journey on RnR HOF Stage

Steve Perry gave the night’s standout speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction. Then he crushed the crowd by failing to appear on stage with Journey during their performance. (Ken Kurson) On Friday, April 7, 2017, I did the wrong thing. I attended the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Electric Light Orchestra, Tupac, Pearl Jam and Yes have all earned

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Chuck Berry, 1926–2017

The Punk Meets The Godfather. Buffalo Tom guitarist Bill Janovitz meets Chuck Berry at the JFK Library in Boston, February 2012. The look on both their faces tells you pretty much everything you need to know about rock n roll. Sometime in 1987, Green’s leader Jeff Lescher decided the band would cover “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” Chuck Berry had fallen out of favor somewhat around then—a collection

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Great Songwriter and Just Plain Great Writer Jim Vallance

Master craftsman Jim Vallance. (Kaitlyn Flannagan) We have entered a political season in which just about everything seems to divide us from one another. Friends, here is a photo that depicts something upon which EVERYONE can agree. And that something is that Summer of ’69 is one of the greatest songs ever. And this guy’s the one who wrote it! Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jim Vallance!

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Melissa Etheridge Takes on Holy Songs at a Holy Place

Melissa Etheridge brought her tour to the Apollo in support of new record ‘Memphis Rock and Soul’ on October 23, 2016. (Ken Kurson) In late 2010, researchers from McGill University proved what everyone who ever heard Otis Redding sing “These Arms of Mine” already knew: a perfect song doesn’t just elevate the spirit, it actually triggers the release of about 9% more dopamine in the

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Jon Fine Interviews Ira Kaplan on a Brooklyn Stage Regarding ‘Your Band Sucks’

Ira Kaplan (l) and Jon Fine discuss the realities of indie band economics at St. Vitus in Brooklyn, June 20, 2016. (Ken Kurson) Jon Fine wrote a terrific book called Your Band Sucks of almost eerie relevance to a certain suburban rocker misfit guy who came of age in the late 80s. Jon is my friend through media stuff rather than rock because our bands and

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