Category: Jack White

Cigar box guitar revolution: 'It's like folk music turned inside out'

Purgatory Hill l2010-Peter Lee 
A quarter-century ago, when cigar-box guitar enthusiast Pat MacDonald was half of the Austin, Texas, alternative pop-rock duo Timbuk3, the singer, songwriter and instrumentalist’s moment in the pop spotlight came with the group’s breezy, wisecracking hit single “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

Now relocated to Wisconsin and rendering his name now as pat mAcdonald, the musician’s recent past, present and foreseeable musical future no longer revolves around a pair of Ray Bans, but around his beloved Lowebow cigar box guitar.

For mAcdonald and many others in the growing community of cigar box guitar players, makers and  listeners -- including the high-profile likes of Johnny Depp, Steve Miller, Jack White, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme -- this throwback to primal instruments akin to those once played by blues musicians in poor rural communities offers an irresistible sense of liberation. 

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White Stripes call it quits, but no hard feelings

White Stripes-Conan 2009 

The White Stripes are calling it a day.

In a statement posted Wednesday on their website, interest in which apparently caused the site to crash Wednesday morning, Jack and Meg White jointly said they will make no more recordings or live appearances as the White Stripes.

Here’s the full text:

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Live review: Wanda Jackson at the El Rey Theatre

Jack White is a gifted guitarist obsessed with elusive morsels of rock’s past -- archeological evidence of the music’s soul. Having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, Wanda Jackson is officially a living, yodeling piece of history. Almost 40 years (and a good 18 inches) separate them. Yet while the statuesque guitarist stands literally heads and shoulders above the diminutive singer, onstage Sunday at the El Rey, the pair was evenly matched.

The show launched "The Party Ain’t Over," Jackson’s new album. On the White-produced disc, the 73-year-old sometime country and gospel singer returns to the musical form that Elvis Presley, her then-boyfriend, first nudged her toward, in the mid-'50s: rockabilly. On Sunday, White -- known for his bands the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather -- proved to be a skilled taskmaster.

He led an 11-piece band of youngish talents, including drummer Joey Waronker, bassist Olivia Jean and pedal steel player Rich Gilbert, through rollicking versions of Jackson’s old hits and new tunes. The septuagenarian singer held forth center stage, relishing her comeback with a charming mix of feisty come-on and self-confessed senior moments.

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Paul McCartney to be feted with Gershwin Prize at White House

Paul McCartney-Gary Friedman

Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Jack White, Jerry Seinfeld, the Jonas Brothers and others will pay tribute to Paul McCartney at the White House on June 2 when the ex-Beatle is feted as the latest recipient of the Library of Congress George Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The performance will be hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and also will include performances by Faith Hill, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl and McCartney himself during a presentation that will be recorded for airing July 28 on PBS stations.

McCartney is the third recipient of the Gershwin prize since its inception in 2007 to recognize “the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member follows Paul Simon and Wonder as the first two honorees.

Just one question: Jerry Seinfeld -- what's up with that?

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl in March. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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Album review: The Dead Weather's 'Sea of Cowards'

DEAD_WEATHER_240 In the Dead Weather's world, love has nothing to do with flowers and chocolates; it's all about grenades and flak jackets.

"When you're so close to me," the magnetic Alison Mosshart sings in "Gasoline" from the band's sophomore album, "I can smell the gasoline.... I don't want a sweetheart, sweetheart/I want a machine."

The Dead Weather's unrelenting commitment to exploring the outer limits of human passion is consistently breathtaking here. A lot of musicians approach that theme from a safe distance, but Mosshart, drummer Jack White, guitarist-keyboardist Dean Fertita and bassist Jack Lawrence utterly subsume the listener in a musical onslaught that exhibits not so much as a shred of moderation.

What elevates Dead Weather above so many less mindful practitioners of heavy music is that it comes up with songs that are the equivalent of smart bombs. They zero in on a target rather than indiscriminately obliterating everything for miles around.

"Blue Blood Blues" understands the negation of self that can happen in an all-consuming affair: "Yeah, I love you so much/I don't need to exist." That idea returns in "Looking at the Invisible Man": "Wave your hands in the dark, woman/You're looking at me." A duet between Mosshart and White, "Die by the Drop," turns the marriage vow inside out: "I'm gonna take you for worse or for better/To my little grave." And in "I'm Mad," Mosshart and the band are at once convincingly enraged and flirting with insanity.

The group's debut oozed with chemistry, and that musical empathy has just grown stronger and tighter here. And both in songwriting and musical execution — the operative word throughout here — the Dead Weather has crafted the equivalent of a taut, expertly directed movie thriller. "I'm gonna make you understand," Mosshart snarls in "I Can't Heart You," "There's nobody you can trust but me."

That's not a promise…

—Randy Lewis

The Dead Weather
"Sea of Cowards"
Third Man / Warner Bros.
Three and a half stars (Out of four)

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White Stripes take issue with Air Force Reserve commercial


The Who were far from the only rock band to take part in Super Bowl Sunday. Acts such as the Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear were featured in advertisements debuting during the big game. Caught by surprise, however, were the White Stripes, who say an instrumental track used in an ad for the Air Force Reserve closely resembles their hit "Fell in Love With a Girl."

The White Stripes have posted a statement on their website and embedded videos of "Fell in Love With a Girl" and the ad, the latter of which is no longer readily available. 

"We believe our song was re-recorded and used without permission of the White Stripes, our publishers, label or management," reads the all-CAPS statement (screen shot below) from the duo of Jack White and Meg James. "The White Stripes take strong insult and objection to the Air Force Reserves presenting this advertisement with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support." 

Calls to Blaine Warren Advertising were directed to a press office for the Air Force Reserve. A spokeswoman for the latter stated that the 30-second television spot was created solely for the Super Bowl, and that it was no longer airing. The Air Force Reserve issued the following statement: 

"In response to the claims being made today regarding the Air Force Reserve regional ad that aired in select markets during the Super Bowl; The Air Force Reserve, through its advertising agency, hired Fast Forward Music of Salt Lake City to score original music for its commercial. There was never any intention to utilize any existing music, or to sound like any music by the band White Stripes or any other musical performer. Any similarity or likeness to any other music is completely unintentional."

Though the band stated that it does not support current military endeavors, it did express support for American troops. "We simply don't want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict," reads the statement. Read the White Stripes' full comments below, a screen shot taken directly from the band's site:

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'It Might Get Loud' director Davis Guggenheim stands behind digital distribution

Director Davis Guggenheim tracked three generations of guitar virtuosos in his "It Might Get Loud," focusing on the philosophies behind the sounds of Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White. Sound in the film is paramount.

Yet when "It Might Get Loud" is released on home video, it won't be with a giant Blu-ray or HD push that advertises the latest in high fidelity. Instead, the film will be distributed digitally by Apple's iTunes store, which will sell "It Might Get Loud" exclusively from Dec. 8 through Dec. 22.

"I used to think that the quality of downloading music on iTunes was a barrier for me," Guggenheim said. "I just didn’t think it would be good enough. But in the last year, I’ve put 75 movies on my laptop … There are some movies you need to see in a theater or see on Blu-ray. I think for some fans that’s important. I think some people will need to see this on Blu-ray, but some will need to see it on a Tuesday night at 11 p.m. on iTunes. I don’t think it’s an either/or thing." 

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Grammys 2010: An early look at album of the year contenders (Part 1)



Good news, perhaps, for Kanye West. He'll have a little less competition to worry about when it comes to scoring some Grammy nominations.

For the first time ever, the Grammy eligibility year has been moved up from the end of September to the final day of August. In making the change, the eligibility period for the 2010 Grammy Awards was shortened to 11 months (the Grammy year will be back to a 12-month cycle, with the new qualifying dates, for the 2011 awards). 

Ultimately, this means that heavy hitters such as Mariah Carey and Jay-Z will now have to wait until 2011 to see their albums get Grammy recognition. An album now must be released no later than Aug. 31 to be in the Grammy running.

That means it's time to look at the albums most likely to be lauded by Recording Academy voters in the album of the year field, Grammys' biggest prize. Note, however, what follows is not a reflection of the year's best albums. No discussion of that sort could happen without mention of St. Vincent's "Actor," Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "It's Blitz!" and on and on and on. 

For now, however, get your pencils and scorecards ready. Here's an early look at some of the works most likely to receive album of the year attention when Grammy nominations are unveiled at the end of the year.

This is only Part 1 of the installment. Pop & Hiss will be back before the Aug. 31 deadline with another five albums, and we'll see how wrong we all were in December.

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The line is forming at Jack White's pop-up store


Chau Tu over at our Brand X blog walked over to Jack White's pop-up record store -- conveniently located near the Pop & Hiss HQ here in downtown Los Angeles -- and found a line beginning to form. White's Dead Weather is in town for two shows, one tonight at the Wiltern and one Wednesday at the Mayan. Tu spoke with some of the early arrivals.

Here's an excerpt:

Vannessa Calderon, 19, of Whittier, said she showed up last night but with no one around decided to come back this morning at 8. Clad in a yellow nearly matching the store's paint job (which corresponds with Third Man Records' primary color motif), she's the first in line.

Just after noon, however, she found company with two fellow White enthusiasts. Jack Waskiewicz, 30, of Seattle, and Christine Wood, 18, of Eugene, Ore., met each other at the Dead Weather show in Portland, Ore., on Sunday. And Monday afternoon, they got in a van with Wood's mother (a White fan herself) and drove straight with no sleep about 17 hours (they said they were too exhausted to count anymore), driving right up to the store.

"It's his motivation," said Waskiewicz of what he admires about White.  "Even with this economy and everything, it's giving me something to look forward to."  In the past, Waskiewicz has gone as far as New York and Texas to see White perform, but he still contends, with tired, amazed eyes, that this trip was one of the craziest decisions he’s ever made.  "I mean, I got into this car with strangers!"

Even if you can’t make it into the Third Man Records’ tiny space for the Dead Weather performance Wednesday, the store will be open until Friday, with DJ sets and, we’re assured by Third Man Records staff, a few surprises every day

Read more at Brand X. Dead Weather will play an in-store at the pop-up shop Wednesday at noon. It's first-come, first-serve. Look for the yellow school-bus paint taking over the Regent Theater at 448 S. Main St., near the intersection with 4th Street.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Chau Tu

Jack White's Third Man Records to pop up in L.A.

For those who can’t schlep to Nashville to rummage through the recordings  that Jack White has been putting out since opening his Third Man Records studio and store in the country music capital in March, he’s Jack_white_getty__ arranging a brief opportunity to shop here in L.A.

Third Man will set up a pop-up store for three days, starting Wednesday, near 4th and Main streets downtown.  The shop, to be called Third Man Records and Novelties West, will be stocked with copies of the Dead Weather’s debut album, “Horehound,” as well as releases from the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and other acts that have recorded for the nascent label. There'll be T-shirts and other merchandise as well.

The pop-up store will be at 448 S. Main St., and it'll be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,  and Thursday and Friday from noon to 8 p.m. Given that the store will turn up while the Dead Weather is in town for a few performances -- Tuesday at the Wiltern, Wednesday at the Mayan and Friday on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" -- fans might reasonably be on guard for a drop-in by White or any of his three new band mates: singer Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita or bassist Jack Lawrence.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Jack White. Credit: Getty Images


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