Monday, May 10th, late addition...
Remembering a terrestrial milestone, taking place today in space
Today is "Golden Spike Day," 152 years after the completion of the first transcontinental railway at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was the equivalent in 1869 of the first landing on the Moon in 1969. And in terms of the actual HUMAN experience, nothing has topped the latter since the truncated end of the Apollo lunar missions in 1972.
Turns out the signature day for the triumph of terrestrial technology on May 10th, 1869, has a connection today in space, aboard the ISS (International Space Station).
You may have seen this graphic on social media in recent days and wondered just what the heck it meant:
Okay, fine. Sooo. What's it about?
The crew that operates restored Union Pacific "Big Boy" number 4014 -- the world's largest operating steam locomotive and largest operating locomotive of ANY kind -- explains:
"Last month, Astronaut Megan McArthur piloted NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 to the International Space Station, and on board with her is a coin from Union Pacific's Steam Crew. McArthur's son loves trains, and she contacted the Union Pacific Railroad Museum for something train-related that she could take up into space. In honor of the 152nd anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, McArthur plans to show off the coin in space.
Both sides of a coin identical to the one now in space, posed against the backdrop of 4014's smokebox door.
Here's the edition as originally published on May 8th...
Plenty new in this edition. Let's get started!
Happy birthday today to singer-songwriter-guitarist CORINNE WEST.
Happy Mother's Day to all who have earned the right to receive that accolade.
Watch "Global Citizen" live, and get the lineup and all the info in advance, at:
VAX LIVE was taped at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, last Sunday and it airs as a global broadcast and streaming special on May 8.
“Global Citizen initially set out to secure enough funding from philanthropists, the private sector, and governments to purchase 10 million vaccine doses as part of our campaign," said Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. "Through the amazing work of our hosts, campaign chairs, and actions taken by Global Citizens, I am proud that tonight we have already surpassed our goal, securing enough funding for 10.3 million doses.
"And the momentum is only building," added Evans. "Additional commitments are rolling in and will be announced as part of our global broadcast on May 8. Critically, we need to see the US and the UK step up and start sharing additional doses, and we need pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna to urgently provide millions of doses to COVAX for the poorest nations at nonprofit prices.“
VAX LIVE — the first large-scale music event for a COVID 19-compliant audience composed of fully vaccinated frontline health care and essential workers — is bringing together artists, entertainers, and world leaders to support vaccine equity.
In addition to all the musicians taking part, it's a major media event across network and cable channels, U.S. and global. Over the past week, multi-platinum recording artist, actress, producer, and VAX LIVE host Selena Gomez as well as actress, activist, and Global Citizen Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas have taken to Twitter to urgently call on the world's leaders to pledge financial or vaccine dose support to COVAX as part of the campaign.
The campaign launched earlier this year as part of Global Citizen’s broader Recovery Plan for the World campaign, with the aim of ending the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring COVID-19 vaccines are made available to everyone, everywhere, and to inspire vaccine confidence around the world.
Global Citizen and its partners have led a coordinated drive across the private sector to urgently mobilize funding for the vaccine-sharing program COVAX AMC, a global initiative co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) to ensure equitable vaccine access for low- and middle-income countries.
COVAX aims to deliver 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to end the acute phase of the pandemic, and unless more than half of the world’s population is immunized, an end to the pandemic is nowhere in sight.
The commitments announced on Sunday include $39.5 million toward COVAX AMC. Gavi, as part of Gavi’s Matching Funds Mechanism, has agreed to financially match pledges to at least US $11.75 million, for a total contribution of $51.25 million.
The May 8 broadcast will feature commitments from a number of philanthropic and private sector partners including Mastercard, Cisco, Procter & Gamble, The Analog Devices Foundation, The Stadler Family Foundation, Stanley Black & Decker, Accenture, Terumo Corporation, Spotify and The Coca-Cola Foundation.
More teevee music this weekend
"WHAT’S GOING ON”: MARVIN GAYE’S ANTHEM FOR THE AGES"
It's a Don Lemon-hosted CNN special, Sunday at 5 & 8 pm PDT.
Promo clip: https://vimeo.com/543778695/996a8bca2e
"What’s Going On" became a landmark of American protest music. It was made even more powerful because it came from Motown’s legendary sex symbol, who was not known for being a political figure.
It was 1971, while the United States was in the midst of the Vietnam war and social unrest permeated the country. And Motown singer Marvin Gaye took to the airwaves with a song of peace and conscious reflection.
Gaye triumphed by landing a platinum album and transforming the most troubling social issues into an emotional appeal.
Fifty years later, the song and album — "What’s Going On" — continue to speak no less vividly of this era of racism, poverty, police brutality and the destruction of the planet.
In this documentary, Lemon conducts rare interviews with music legends Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson and speaks to other Motown musicians who were there with Gaye as he recorded the album inside the iconic Hitsville studio in Detroit. Lemon also sits down with others who were inspired by this work, including performing artists, singer and actress Andra Day, and filmmakers Spike Lee and Lee Daniels.
In addition to the broadcast times, it can be viewed on CNNgo (at CNN.com/go on your desktop, smartphone, and iPad, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku and Samsung Smart TV). The special will also be available on demand to subscribers via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.
More entertainment biz news, including tv and film, is later in this edition.
We told ya early... now there are ONLY FOUR TICKETS LEFT...
"Arts and Culture Heroes of the Pandemic Award"
Presented by a diverse audience of music lovers to those musicians who carried-on online, the awards went to 40 honorees. In addition to the award, the public was asked to vote for their personal favorite among the honorees.
Among the 40, AND placing third among the favorites, is L.A.-based KEN O'MALLEY, long a Guide favorite. Ken brings his multi-instrumental acoustic wizardry and wonderful baritone vocals to his authentic and original Irish music.
You can see the entire three hour "Arts and Culture Heroes of the Pandemic Award" show on Vimeo at:
Ken is in Group 6 of the awardees. That segment begins at 2 hours, 24 minutes in, and he is on at 2 hours, 34 minutes.
The next feature has more on Ken, including seeing him perform live!
Back in action...
San Pedro's paired venues are back!
The nonprofit Grand Vision Foundation presents concerts, plays, films, and other events at the intimate Grand Annex and the cavernous Art Devi classic Warner Grand Theatre, both in downtown San Pedro, CA.
Americana Music news quickies this weekMore...
This Weekend on the Opry: Jamey Johnson, Tommy Emmanuel, Randy Houser, Steve Wariner, & more
The Grand Ole Opry starts at 5 pm PDT on WSM Radio online, and catch "Opry Live" on Circle TV starting at 6 pm Pacific for the live streams of Russell Dickerson, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Chris Lane, and Steve Wariner's Opry performances.
Ways to tune in to the Opry
We feel very good about this edition's feature story. It's multifaceted and each part is especially worthy of your attention. One part -- the music vid -- is a lovely piece of spatially-distanced production, and the lyric in there about holding in arms -- or not -- is resonant of this unique and challenging time... as is the first-rate song's overall theme of -- you see this coming -- heartbreak. I struggled with whether or not to say that when we prepared to run this, because I don't want you thinking, "Oh, God, another one of those open-your-veins-in-the-bathtub PANDEMIC songs!"
Please, really. It's not.
We said multifaceted. This song is part of a series of distantly-arranged and produced collaborations. That has, of course, become its own "Brady box" art form that needs to bring recognition to those who do it magnificently (we're thinking of you, Marty Rifkin, and your creative work product for the 2020 virtual "Dylanfest.")
This time it isn't complicated Brady boxes. It's duets. But It's fine work, good listening, and it deserves support and sharing with your music loving friends.
This week: a John Paul White/Rose Cousins duet.
It's a beautiful tearjerker:
Folk Alliance International (FAI) announced its Artists in (Their) Residence project on May 3rd. It's a series that pairs ten US-based artists with musicians from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ireland, Israel, Scotland, and Spain to co-write songs about the pandemic experience.
Funded by the Antonia and Vladimer Kulaev Cultural Heritage Fund, the songs are being released by FAI as “home videos” recorded in the artists’ respective homes.
“This project bridges countries, cultures, and languages and was conceived to reflect on our collective experiences during these unprecedented times and to create songs that bring light and inspiration to weary music fans around the globe,” stated FAI’s Communications Manager Marisa Kolka.
Hosting the series is GRAMMY Award-winning artist and FAI showcase alumni Chris Thile, who stated “The past year has taken a tremendous toll on the folk community. These new compositions from this project are being released on FAI’s YouTube channel to raise awareness of The Village Fund, which provides direct grants to artists and music industry professionals in need.”
This first in the series is the duet between John Paul White and Rose Cousins.
You probably know White is a former member of the Civil Wars -- and Rose Cousins is a GRAMMY nominee in her own right. The two were commissioned to work on this collaboration by Folk Alliance International as a way to shine a line on their COVID relief "Village Fund," which is presented in partnership with Chris Thile.
Plus, there are nine more videos coming up -- one every two weeks! These collaborations, each a U.S.-based artist with a global artist, reflect on the experience of the pandemic and some gorgeous work was created here. Each video closes with Chris Thile speaking about the Village Fund.
The artist pairings and video release dates are as follows:
5-3-21 - “One of folk’s finest” (NPR) and JUNO Award-winner Rose Cousins and two-time NPR Tiny Desk alum John Paul White
5-17-21 - Gina Chavez, about whom NPR said “if you don't know her already, I dare you to walk away and not become a fan” and Barcelona’s Las Migas
5-31-21 - American Idol veteran Charly Lowry, a musical powerhouse from Pembroke, NC, is proud to be an Indigenous woman belonging to the Lumbee/Tuscarora Tribes; and Australian innovators The Heart Collectors
6-14-21 - Twice GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, whose songs have been covered by Roseanne Cash and Joan Baez; and Lynn Miles, whom the NY Times said, "makes forlorn feel like a state of grace."
6-24-21 - Two-time GRAMMY nominated zydeco musician Sean Ardoin; and Mélisande [électrotrad], who pours equal parts of centuries-old traditional Québécois songs and state of the art electronic instruments and relentless drums.
7-12-21 - the “hopeful, impassioned” (American Songwriter) Crys Matthews and JUNO Award-winning Prince Edward Island songwriter Catherine MacLellan
7-26-21 - GRAMMY nominee and America’s Got Talent performer SaulPaul; and Israeli-born, UK-based Adee Lifshitz
8-9-21 - Hawktail, about whom Folk Alley said, “We simply haven't seen these instruments played this way and with this exuberance... except by Hawktail”; and Gaelic 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards-nominated singer Julie Fowlis
8-23-21 - The “beautiful music” (NPR) of Calvin Arsenia; and key Egyptian revolutionary, rock artist, and human rights defender Ramy Essam, now living in exile in Sweden and Finland.
9-6-21 - County Cork’s Mick Flannery and rising star Tianna Esperanza
Folk Alliance International (FAI), founded in 1989, is the world’s largest membership organization for the folk music industry and community. Governed by a 21-member board of directors, its mission is to serve, strengthen, and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation, and promotion.
FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, is committed to gender parity in all its programming, celebrates multiple languages and cultures, and actively welcomes participation from marginalized, disenfranchised, and underrepresented communities.
FAI defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” (reflective of any community they are from), and programs a diverse array of sub genres including, but not limited to Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Global Roots, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Traditional, Zydeco, and various fusions.
FAI produces the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), the Louis Jay Meyers Music Camp, an Artist in Residence program, The Folk ExChange global market development program, the Ethno USA gathering, the Kansas City Folk Festival, and the world’s largest annual folk music conference (drawing 3332 delegates from 41 countries in January 2020). This is last year’s Annual Report.
Recent FAI keynote presentations have included Margaret Atwood, Rhiannon Giddens, Judy Collins, Mavis Staples, Ani DiFranco, Bill Bragg, Vice President Al Gore, and Commander Chris Hadfield.
Past partnerships for the Artist in Residence program include UNESCO, the International Rescue Committee, the WWI Museum, Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Police Department, the Topeka Women’s Correctional Facility, UMKC’s Mathematics Dept., and the KC Art Institute.
Additionally FAI provides advocacy, education, and professional development for over 4000 members, and oversees an IRS Group Exemption program in support of over 50 US non-profits.
Help for artists...
Learn more at www.MentalHealthActionDay.org
Musical theatre returns...
OPHELIA’S JUMP RE-OPENS WITH A LIVE, OUTDOOR, SOCIALLY DISTANCED SHOW, "RE-OPENING ACT," MAY 28 THROUGH MAY 30
As the Great White Way gears up to reopen New York's Broadway stages, Ophelia’s Jump Productions is re-opening its intimate venue in Upland, California, with live entertainment performed outdoors in front of the theatre.
"Re-Opening Act" is a musical celebration of new beginnings featuring songs from hot new Broadway musicals and show-stopping standards. The show features the vocal talents of actor-singers Caitlin Lopez, Scott Robinson, Daniel Bustamante and Candida Celaya.
The troupe tells us, "The popcorn is popping, the snacks are delicious, the drinks are flowing and this fantastic cast is ready to wow you."
"Re-Opening Act" at Ophelia’s Jump Productions, 2009 Porterfield Way, Suite H, Upland, CA 91786.
Runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 28, 29, & 30, 2021, at 8 pm. Tickets are $25 at http://opheliasjump.org
Tickets must be purchased in advance. Seating is limited (to facilitate social distancing). Information, call 909-734-6565.
More entertainment biz news: tv and film
Two in the entertainment realm from CNN Biz correspondent Frank Pallotta (both quoted by Brian Stelter in "Reliable Sources")
First, Frank Pallotta writes: "'Saturday Night Live' has had some odd picks for hosts in its history (Nader? Forbes? Trump?!), and that off-kilter tradition continues this weekend as Elon Musk hosts the show. Miley Cyrus will join him as musical guest. 'SNL' is not known for picking tech CEOs to host the show, but then again, Musk defies categorization. How will he do? Tune in Saturday night to find out..."
"The most important summer movie season… ever?"
Pallotta writes: "Summer movie season, which would've kicked off this weekend, is delayed because of the pandemic. But the late start doesn't mean this summer isn't important. In fact, this could be one of the most crucial summers for Hollywood ever. With theaters still struggling to rebound and streaming gaining strength, how these films fare with audiences could determine how studios release films for next summer, and beyond."
We'll add this excerpt:
"The summer movie season has been vital to the health of Hollywood ever since Steven Spielberg cleared out beaches with 1975's 'Jaws.' Since then, the season known for its big-budget blockbusters has helped propel the movie industry every year by bringing in a large chunk of studios' annual ticket sales.
"For example, the summer season has made up roughly 35% to 40% of ticket sales every year at the North American box office since 2005, which depending on the year generates around $4 billion in revenue, according to Comscore (SCOR). Except for last year, of course, where summer accounted for a paltry $176 million, or just 7%, of the year's ticket totals because the pandemic upended the industry.
"This summer is essential to studios' bottom lines, as it always is, but the most crucial aspect may be in the optics."
"With theaters still struggling to rebound and streaming gaining strength as a viable option to release films (cases in point: 'Cruella,' 'In The Heights' and 'Black Widow' all have streaming options), how these films do with audiences could determine how studios release films for next summer, and beyond."
(To that latter point, we have been wondering if streaming options are cutting the throats of cinema operators. More on that below the link.)
Read Frank Pallotta's full story at:
Meanwhile, Stelter has this item: "Paramount 'is in a pay dispute' with Hollywood power couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt 'over the studio's streaming plans for the new horror picture "A Quiet Place Part II,"' Lucas Shaw reports in Bloomberg":
Oh, by the way... just one more film thing.
Pallotta's piece incidentally notes that "China taking over as the No. 1 movie market worldwide..."
Stelter notes elsewhere, "A fascinating story from Laura He in Hong Kong: 'Chinese cinemas are showing old propaganda movies. Is Hollywood going to lose out?'"
Hmmm. That deserves some exploration.
¤ Hong Kong's pro-democracy protestors...
¤ US/China relations strained over everything from:
》 China's ongoing, intensifying human rights abuses;
》 to the lingering debunked Trumpertarian lies in the US about some supposed nefarious plot or other behind Coronavirus;
》 to China's giant rocket booster crashing this weekend ("I shot an arrow into the air, it comes to Earth I know not where"...)
》 to now, a new totalitarian wave of censorship that uses capitalism to hurt the West; Hong Kong didn't air the Oscars for the first time since 1968, and now...
"Beijing has ordered China's cinemas to use the box office this year to spread propaganda celebrating the Communist Party. The country's movie fans aren't having it — and worry the new mandate is crowding out some of the Hollywood films they are clamoring for," reports CNN Business.
"Chinese moviegoers revolted last month after major ticketing sites around the country quietly stopped promoting showings for new re-releases of the three 'The Lord of the Rings' movies, the popular and critically acclaimed Western adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy book series.
"The disappearance of the films — which had been remastered in time for the first movie's 20th anniversary — from theater schedules in early April took many in China by surprise. Warner Bros., which did not respond to questions about why that happened, had been advertising their return to Chinese movie theaters for weeks. (CNN and Warner Bros. are both part of WarnerMedia.)
"'The Fellowship of the Ring,' 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King' were originally scheduled for release on April 9, April 16 and April 23, respectively, according to promotional materials published in March. Fans had cheered the news and there was reason to suspect the films could help boost an unsteady box office: James Cameron's 'Avatar' had just been re-released in Chinese cinemas to success.
"'Avatar' is seen on a screen showing film schedule at a cinema on March 14 in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China.
"But on April 1 — the day a Beijing-led effort to promote movies celebrating the founding of the Communist Party took effect — promotional posters and ticketing information for 'The Lord of the Rings' vanished from major ticketing apps..."
Read Laura He's full story at:
Meanwhile, It's complicated. Marvel just introduced its first Asian superhero in a new trailer.
CNN has begun airing a miniseries doc on the history of late-night television. Last week's first part was excellent: informative and entertaining, and filled with known and unknown names of those whose key roles got us to Johnny Carson and on to the current era.
Part two airs Sunday night at 6 and 9 pm PDT.
It's a well-timed look at a critical arena, considering:
• Trevor Noah is a news source for more 18-24 year-olds than all the network evening news broadcasts combined.
• The foibles and hypocrisy of the power elite and everyone in politics is skewered nightly by the likes of Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, James Cordon, and Jimmy Kimmel -- and the latter just scored a piece in straight media with his worries about the undue influence of fantastical political lies that spew from MyPillow's Mike Lindell.
• Late-night hosts reacted to President Joe Biden's speech to Congress, giving the lie to Magamedia that only the Orange Abomination was "targeted."
• Conan just announced his last show after 30 years in late night.
• On the "Antenna TV" channel weeknights at 7 pm, 30-to-40-year-old episodes of the often revolutionary Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" still show us that no one was ever better.
As venues reopen, we need to find meaning and perspective
Quote of the week:
"America's Covid vaccine hesitation is an insult to countries in need."
~ Julia Jones, in an Opinion piece for CNN.com.
India has topped 400,000 new cases a day, and the death toll is staggering.
Julia Jones comes from Brazilian roots -- a nation where COVID is also out of control.
She says, "As a field producer covering vaccine hesitancy in rural America, I've been hearing from people who sit on the extremes of the vaccination hesitation spectrum."
Jones recounts what residents in rural Oregon said -- for example, "a woman of advanced age breathlessly explained to me how she was never taking the vaccine because Covid-19 'is just the flu'" -- and reflects on what her family members and friends in Brazil are going through. "Brazil is struggling not only to import vaccines but with a massive Covid wave," she writes.
"America's abundance, this wealth of resources that financed the massive efforts against Covid — which our leaders were proud to announce — is the very same reason many are hesitant to get vaccinated. Some Americans are blinded by this wealth and privilege. For all the lives that the pandemic took and all the lives it changed forever, many still choose to ignore science in favor of their own unscientific rationalizations. About a quarter of adult Americans say they will not take the vaccine, a CNN poll shows."
She continues, "Meanwhile, Brazil is struggling not only to import vaccines but with a massive Covid wave that has filled cemeteries and ICUs and caused oxygen shortages. Thousands of people in my hometown in southern Brazil have had their second doses of the vaccine delayed because there aren't enough doses.
"Brazil surpassed 400,000 deaths last week. Following the gruesome milestone, the country's health minister pleaded for more vaccines from countries that have them.
"...while California cases in the US have been on a stethrowady decline for weeks, more cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally in the past two weeks than during the first six months of the pandemic, with Brazil and India accounting for more than half of those cases, according to the World Health Organization."
"In California, where I live," she says, "the governor has promised to fully reopen the state by the summer. In Porto Alegre, the fear of Covid, especially the more aggressive variants, still fills the air. Everyone knows someone who's the virus or currently has it. Intensive care units still hover at around 90% capacity."
[That California success story is the biggest turnaround in the US, and still wealthy Republicans think they can recall the state's Democratic governor who led the successful fight against Coronavirus. ~ editor.]
Read the full Julia Jones piece at:
Special note on this edition: reliable sources
You probably noted an emphasis on CNN as a source for information in this edition (credited each place we use them as a source). That's an intentional choice to emphasize them this time. Yes, we have railed against corporate hegemony and overconsolidation of news sources, resulting in too few independent outlets with the resources needed to dig for facts and report them. And we have always cited corporate cross-polonization in what is pushed to be "popular," from soundalike genres to advertising jingles that make any musicologist cringe.
But we ourselves must also report the rest of the facts. And we have a few in particular in mind.
Last week, when other major media had to retract their stories alleging Rudy Giuliani was informed by the government in advance about being investigated for his role in Russian collusion in the 2016 election, CNN did not make such a retraction. They didn't need to, because they relied on their own reporting and did not join the stampeding herd that jumped to conclusions that were wrong.
Yes, the meltdown mayor is reprehensible, but the particular allegation was still wrong. And that's the thing about real news: just because some of you wanted to see it, that doesn't make it true. Which is the key fault of social media and its BS "news feeds."
Meanwhile, Magamedia continues the Orange Abomination's five-year-old campaign of denigrating CNN and attempting to make the network synonymous with their chant of "fake news." It isn't. Aside from seeing a gangbang of liars who filter everything they say through smeared orange lenses, and whose veracity is never better than simply "suspect," at best? We wanted to do our part to demonstrate that CNN is a far more reliable source of information than its critics.