Thursday, May 26, 2011

My new film -- Plowboy

http://ping.fm/QmWhq

Quiet Valley at a Raucous 40

it takes a reading of annual highlights to really bring home the stature of the Kerrville Folk Festival

Off the Record
Music News, Austin Chronnnicle
By Austin Powell, Fri., May 27, 2011
Photo by John Carrico

Wide Open Spaces
When it comes to Texas songwriting, history happens first at the Kerrville Folk Festival. The annual 18-day outing in the scenic confines of Quiet Valley Ranch has helped discover some of the most important voices in American music. The festival commemorates its 40th anniversary this year, featuring the Lost Pines (May 26), Slaid Cleaves (May 27), Judy Collins (May 28), Eliza Gilkyson (May 29), and Randy Rodgers & Wade Bowen (May 30), all leading up to a closing concert memorializing late friends and family of the festival as conducted by David Amram and starring Marcia Ball, Trout Fishing in America, and Will Taylor & Strings Attached. (For a full lineup see www.kerrville-music.com.) Lending perspective to Kerrville's longevity, OTR compiled a hits timeline, with thanks to founder Rod Kennedy's Music From the Heart, Erinn R. Barefield's The Kerrville Folk Festival: The Path to Kerr-version, and www.happenstance-music.com. For memorable first-hand accounts, see "Marshmallow Love," May 24, 2002.

read the big list here: http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2011-05-27/off-the-record/

Broadway Protest Tonight!!

Broadway Musicians Will Perform in Times Square To Protest “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” Producers For Replacing Live Music with Recordings



Top musicians to protest Priscilla as “Save Live Music on Broadway” petition gains worldwide support via SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com website, Facebook and Twitter



Nationwide poll of Broadway musical theatergoers reports that 91% say

“The best part of a Broadway musical is the live music.”



NEW YORK, NY—May 26, 2011: As part of the Save Live Music on Broadway campaign, top Broadway musicians and supporters will mount a musical protest from 7-7:30 p.m. tonight outside “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at the Palace Theater (1564 Broadway, between 46th and 47th Streets in Manhattan).



For the Save Live Music on Broadway campaign, a coalition of Broadway composers, lyricists, musicians, performers and top professionals from the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and The Julliard School have joined with the non-profit Council for Living Music to keep Broadway live.



Producers of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert have drastically cut the theatre’s live orchestra and forced the remaining musicians to play along with a recording. Critics have been appalled, calling the show “synthetic to the core” (Time Out New York); “mechanical and monotonous” and “karaoke-inspired” (The New York Times); “a glossy costume party masquerading as a musical” (New York Daily News); and declaring that “the songs… blend together into an undifferentiated morass” (everythingmusicals.com).



For an industry so central to New York City tourism, it is noteworthy that in a 704-person national survey of Broadway musical theatergoers released last week, three out of four respondents said they would not buy tickets to a show if they were aware it would be using recorded music to replace some or all of the musicians. (To see full poll results visit SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All Access Pass: America’s Free Festivals Embrace Adventurous Audiences and Springboard Music Careers

http://www.worldmusicwire.com

There is a breed of performing arts venues that holds a special place in the American cultural landscape. Grand Performances (Los Angeles), Stern Grove Festival (San Francisco), and SummerStage (New York City) use unique public spaces to provide public access to both internationally renowned and eclectically daring performing arts. In a time of collapsing ticket sales, their diverse audiences are growing by leaps and bounds.

These free outdoor festivals have demonstrated for decades that the demand for quality arts programming is extremely high—and increasing. They have become a force in arts leadership, encouraging new approaches at ticketed venues, nurturing new generations of performers and arts lovers, and actively advocating for experimental, cross-genre artistic endeavors. They have shown that when the arts thrive, so does the community they serve.

The Power of Place
The physical spaces of these three festivals couldn’t be more different—a storied grove, a glittering urban plaza, a plethora of iconic parks. Yet all three create a powerful sense of place, and from that, a deep sense of community among audience members. Stern Grove, home to the eponymous festival for nearly 75 years, is a marvel of outdoor acoustics, a natural bowl surrounded by tall trees and frequented by hawks and butterflies. Grand Performances’ offerings unfold among over an acre of fountains and waterfalls, reflected in the steel and glass of downtown L.A. high rises. SummerStage shows offer a bounty of different New York views, from panoramas of the Manhattan skyline to the manicured meadows of Central Park, as well as historic neighborhoods where certain musical styles were born.

These public settings dedicated to performance foster an egalitarian, laidback vibe while still engendering deep respect and enjoyment of the arts, thanks to their high production values and thoughtful programming. The freedom to come and go, to use the space in various ways—picnicking, dancing, listening from a distance—gives patrons the liberty to create their own experience. This often translates into large friendly crowds, in which thousands dance together or sit in complete, rapt silence.

Open Access

Without walls or entry fees, the festivals create a come-as-you-are spirit that welcomes visitors from all walks of life, people who might not feel comfortable attending similar events at other venues. The festivals’ audience demographics speak to this: All three attract youthful and ethnically and economically diverse crowds that closely mirror the demographic profile of their communities.

Programs like Stern Grove Festival, SummerStage, and Grand Performances are often the first exposure young people have to orchestral performances, global music, or modern dance. Beyond mere education, the festivals are grooming the next generation of avid arts lovers and supporters, as the kids in strollers become the adult concertgoers (or the staff member, or the artist on stage). Audiences of all ages now expect quality and adventuresome performances.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nUAarErp5Y

Access turns spectators into tastemakers, allowing visitors to try something new and to form their own opinions. In turn, these opinions guide the festivals, creating a strong sense of community connection, thanks to everything from good old-fashioned audience surveys to asking the public to weigh in on potential performers on Facebook and Twitter.

SummerStage carefully matches performers to neighborhoods, presenting big names in their old stomping grounds (Big Daddy Kane in Brooklyn; salsero Eddie Palmieri in the South Bronx), and canvassing park visitors to find out what kind of music they love. Grand Performances cultivates strong ties to tastemakers in immigrant communities by partnering with key arts and cultural organizations, such as the Central American Resource Center (CARACEN), the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles, and the Farhang Foundation, dedicated to Iranian-American heritage. Since its Depression-era inception, Stern Grove Festival has been a vital platform for San Francisco’s performing arts community, presenting the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet .

Big-Impact Eclecticism

Thanks to their admission-free status, Grand Performances, SummerStage, and Stern Grove Festival have the freedom to focus on emerging artists and experimental work with potentially broad appeal. They often put big names and up-and-coming performers on the same stage, and audiences trust that whatever’s on, it’s going to be good.

To engage a wide range of potential patrons, presenters will also make unexpected pairings of highly respected artists from different scenes who share similar sensibilities. SummerStage has booked New York hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa with young heir to Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat throne, Seun Kuti; or Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge with indie darling Jose Gonzalez. Grand Performances paired the lightning-fast Senegalese hip hop of Daara J with the old school hip hop-inspired grooves of the daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra. Stern Grove Festival had Indian tabla master Zakir Hussein play Hindustani classical repertoire and then jam with Tabla Beat Science, a project involving younger players and DJs. They presented veteran New Orleans R&B star Alain Toussaint with the brash and youthful Trombone Shorty.

Artist Springboards

Audience access and trust is also a boon for artist development, a vital aspect of all three festivals’ work. Grand Performances has offered L.A. performers everything from the boost of repeated engagements to the nuts and bolts of business advice and administrative support. SummerStage, run by musicians and veterans of the music industry, has forged similarly strong ties to artists in the burgeoning New York scene, commissioning and producing new dance and theater works start to finish. Stern Grove Festival was founded to provide stable opportunities for professional musicians and provides local artists with broader exposure alongside internationally-known acts.

With their open-minded audiences, the festivals frequently offer emerging or global artists something that would be hard to find anywhere else: access to a big, enthusiastic crowd ready for anything. Whether the performer is a just-breaking indie artist like MIA or The xx or established but lesser known icons like Salif Keita or Jimmy Scott, exposure to a festival audience can have a serious impact on artists’ careers.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

http://ping.fm/J5Z95

The Wave

http://www.ugo.com/movies/the-wave-trailer-debut

Germany today. During a project week, high school teacher Rainer Wenger (Jurgen Vogel) comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how totalitarian governments work. A role-playing game with tragic results begins. Within a few days, what began as harmless notions, like discipline and community, builds into a real movement: THE WAVE. By the third day, the students start ostracizing and threatening others.

When the conflict finally erupts into violence at an intramural water polo game, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it's too late. THE WAVE is out of control...

Gold Cup Roster and Commentary

From the US National Team Players Association

GC: USA Roster
GK: Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEF: Carlos Bocanegra (St Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Eric Lichaj (Leeds United), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MID: Freddy Adu (Rizespor), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FOR: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
The US In The '91 Gold Cup

By Clemente Lisi – After qualifying for the 1990 World Cup finals, the next big moment for United States soccer came the following year. The National Team – once considered a CONCACAF doormat – did what at the time was considered the unthinkable by knocking out Mexico in the semifinals and beating Honduras in the championship game to win the 1991 Gold Cup.

“That was one of the first times that as a National Team player, going into a tournament, that I felt we there to drive the play and push our game on other teams,” recalled Peter Vermes, who served as team captain at the time. “A lot of times prior and leading up to that tournament, we were just trying to hang with these guys as opposed to dominating the game. I felt that’s what we did throughout the tournament, including the game against Mexico in the semifinal.”

Now, 20 years after that triumph over Honduras at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, the United States has again set its sights on winning the Gold Cup. The National Team has come a long way since 1991, winning four out of 10 Gold Cups and qualifying for every World Cup.

“(The National Team was) much different than it is today, that’s for sure. We were really just starting to come into our own,” Vermes said when talking about the 1991 team. “I think the success of that Gold Cup gave us a really big jump forward. It said that we could be a dominant force in CONCACAF and gave us a lot of momentum moving towards the next World Cup.”

The Gold Cup was in its infancy. That tournament was the first to serve as a true championship for the region. Since 1973, CONCACAF crowned a champion by awarding the title to the country with the best record in World Cup Qualifying. In 1991, CONCACAF decided to hold its own championship, modeled after the Copa America, and invited eight teams to play at the Memorial Coliseum and Rose Bowl over nine days.

The United States won its group, defeating Trinidad & Tobago 2-1; Guatemala 3-0; and Costa Rica 3-2, to advance to the semifinals. The most thrilling moment from the first round was Marcelo Balboa’s bicycle-kick goal in the final minute to give the USA a comeback victory over T&T.

Once in the semis, the Americans were pitted against Mexico (who finished second to Honduras on goal differential in the other group) for a July 5th date at the Memorial Coliseum before a pro-Mexico crowd of 41,000. The Americans had not defeated Mexico since 1980, a 2-1 win during Qualifying for the 1982 World Cup. Prior to that, the USA had defeated Mexico in 1934, a game held in Rome to determine who would advance to the World Cup.

The Americans had a slight edge in that they were coached by Bora Milutinovic, who US Soccer had been hired shortly after the team went 0-3 at the ‘90 World Cup. The Serbian-born manager had coached Mexico at the 1986 World Cup, getting them into the quarterfinals. Beloved by Mexicans, Milutinovic had mixed emotions going into that game. John Doyle’s goal in the 48th minute and a second from Vermes in the 64th would seal the win.

Milutinovic, who now works for the Qatar-based Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, recalled that the pro-Mexican crowd applauded the US players at the end of the match.

“It was a really great experience for me. I was very proud of the players,” he said. “The Mexicans (in the crowd) respected me and they were happy for me. It was great to see.”

As captain, Vermes said he felt the extra pressure of trying to keep the players focused throughout the tournament. The lineup featured many players who would go on to be the core of the USA’s 1994 World Cup squad, including goalkeeper Tony Meola (who was named 1991 Gold Cup MVP) and striker Eric Wynalda.

“I think at that time it was a little bit of a transition – we had a new coach with Bora Milutinovic – but I think all in all it was my duty to make sure that as a team we were all connected on and off the field,” said Vermes, who now works as head coach of Sporting Kansas City.

Milutinovic said winning the Gold Cup was vital for the team’s development and set the stage for the USA’s run to the Round of 16 at the ’94 World Cup.

“Winning was very important for the future of the USA. I think it was very important for football in the USA and the World Cup that was to come.”

For Vermes, the victory over Mexico – and the win over Honduras two days later 4-3 penalties following a scoreless draw – was the start of the USA’s ongoing run as an elite team in CONCACAF.

“We had been dominated by Mexico for many years up to that point and I think the commanding victory and the way we approached the game and the way we played, I think it surprised them quite a bit,” he said. “I think it was the beginning step in this dominance we’ve had over them in CONCACAF for many years now. I think it was the beginning of letting Mexico know that there was another team in CONCACAF that they were going to have to deal with, and I think since then we have risen to the top and become that dominant force.”

Bob Dylan’s 10 Best Infrastructure Songs^
Posted on Tuesday May 24th by Eric Jaffe

Today is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, an occasion that has inspired a variety of Dylan-related lists. Since Dylan often rasps about matters covered regularly by this site — namely, roads, trains, floods, and cities — and since, as those of you who follow me on Twitter know, the only thing I tweet about more than infrastructure is Bob Dylan, it seemed both festive and natural to join the jamboree with a list of Bob’s best infrastructure-related songs.

A brief introduction: Only those songs with direct titular and lyrical links to infrastructure were considered. So a number like “On the Road Again,” though nominally related to traveling, failed to crack the threshold because the song has everything to do with a repulsive household the narrator wishes to flee, and nothing to do with the course of the fleeing; similarly, a tune like the incomparable “Mississippi,” despite strong thematic ties to movement, fell outside the lines as well. Most lyrics come from bobdylan.com. Now, to the list . . .

the rest is here: http://ping.fm/ewEJT

http://ping.fm/Hxys8

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lady Gaga Trailer released

http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/655264/lady-gaga-inside-the-outside-trailer.jhtml#id=1664075

Lady Gaga Reveals For the First Time Intimate Stories from Her Youth and Path to Stardom in "Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside," New Hour-Long Documentary Set to Premiere on MTV Thursday, May 26th at 9pm ET/PT Teaser Trailer to Premiere on MTV on Thursday, May 19th at 10:58pm ET/PT

05.18.11

NEW YORK, NY – May 18, 2011 – With her third album, BORN THIS WAY, set to debut on May 23rd, the legend of Lady Gaga to date has been well documented. But who is the girl that became this pop-culture and musical icon, and what legacy does she want to leave?

MTV today announced the premiere of an exclusive brand new hour-long interview, Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside, that will compel viewers to look beyond the outlandish outfits, spectacular live performances, and controversy, and instead appreciate the forces, events and influences that shaped Stefani Germanotta’s ascension into one of pop music’s most influential and successful artists of our time – through her own words. The special will debut exclusively on MTV in the U.S. on Thursday, May 26th at 9pm ET/PT, and internationally in mid-June across more than 150 territories (check local listings). The documentary will then be made available in the U.S. for free on-demand streaming on MTV.com.

A teaser trailer will premiere exclusively on MTV on Thursday, May 19th at 10:58pm ET/PT, following a new episode of Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew.

Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside features an intimate, stripped-down interview with Lady Gaga, who recounts never-before-heard life experiences that shaped her early years and brought her to where she is today. From the moment she looked in the mirror and decided she was meant to be a star, to the “Thunder Road” challenge she accepted from her father to land her first baby grand piano, Lady Gaga shares an abundance of personal and poignant stories that includes: the inspiration behind her first song, the impact of being bullied at school, her musical and style influences, her relationship with her family, her love of late night bike rides around Brooklyn, and much more. Viewers will also learn how she juggles fame and her career, along with fans and her personal life, and the social causes that drive her.

“While we all know the artist who has matured into a major force in music, fashion and pop culture, Lady Gaga has seldom discussed in detail the young woman she was before,” said Dave Sirulnick, Executive Vice President, MTV News and Docs. “With this documentary, we’re pulling back the veil and providing a rare glimpse into the rich back story and personal life of this modern day icon.”

Lady Gaga's highly anticipated third studio album, Born This Way, is scheduled for release on May 23, 2011. The first single from the album, title track "Born This Way", set a music industry record by becoming the fastest single in history to reach sales of 1,000,000 copies (five days after its February 11th release). Only the 19th single to ever debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (issue date February 26, 2011), the recording was Lady Gaga's third #1 on the chart. On iTunes, the song debuted at the top spot in 14 countries, including the U.S., and hit #1 in all 23 iTunes stores worldwide its first week out. “Born This Way” was Gaga’s 7th single to hit #1 at Top 40. The second single from the album, “Judas” has eclipsed 500,000 in sales and Lady Gaga’s latest two singles, “The Edge of Glory” and “Hair” are both currently in the iTunes top 10.

In less than three years, Lady Gaga has won a sleuth of high profile awards and honors, including the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, the 2011 MTV O Music Award for Most Innovative Artist and five Grammy Awards. Her hit singles, including "Just Dance," "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance" have sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

With over 1.3 billion combined views of all her videos online, Lady Gaga is one of the biggest living people on Facebook with over 34 million 'likes’ and is #1 on Twitter with over 10 million followers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You're Dangerous



Rubio Construction, Kingsland, Texas, yeah you. You there in the elephant-sized truck. You who were so selfish and impatient that you couldn't wait, three, maybe four seconds for me and the car behind me to pass so you could pull into the clear lane behind us. You who had exactly zero traffic within a half mile coming from the other way, meaning there was no emergency, no one in a million gap to squeeze into. You who barreled into the middle turn lane so fast and with such determination that none of us knew what you were doing. You who caused me and the car behind to both swerve violently, me at least nearly losing control, both of us nearly hitting the cars in the outside lane. Yeah you, doing what you did is illegal. Which frankly i could care less about, except that it's illegal at least in part because it's dangerous -- but also, because it's illegal, we have to be on guard and deferent to anyone who uses it improperly and thus it always, ALWAYS, creates a dangerous situation. And because today you didn't give a flying whit about the safety or lives or concerns of anyone else you very nearly caused a four car pileup and then drove on by us all completely oblivious to what you'd done. It was selfish, impatient and dangerous. That's you dude.

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Congrats Ingram FFA Wildlife Team -- State Champs, on the way to Nationals!!!! And to all the high point scorers and other team finishers!!!

Congrats Cody Eugene Asbury, Sharon Courtney Cook, Eowyn Conain Scott, John Holt, Steven Wray Vogel, T.j. Forster and Kylie Christian Fry -- almost a quarter million dollars in scholarships!!! And there's undoubtedly some others i don't know about yet!

From the US National Team Players Association

That Pesky FIFA Vote

By J Hutcherson -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter didn’t exactly say what a few headlines have gone ahead and run with on Wednesday. With widespread coverage of a potential revote for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, Blatter’s quote was decidedly noncommittal.

“Don't ask me yes or no, let us go step by step."

That’s hardly an invitation for bid resubmissions in the face of allegations of voter impropriety. As FIFA’s version of due process plays out, they’re simply asking for verifiable evidence that other members of their organization’s Executive Committee were involved in vote selling. It’s worth stressing that though these allegations are attached to a major British newspaper, they were never printed. Instead, they were made public during testimony before a Parliamentary committee where libel laws are suspended.

Should those allegations prove to be accurate, it’s an open question as to what a next step might look like. Historically, FIFA has made ethics about the individual rather than organizations. They removed members of the ExCom in the run-up to the World Cup vote, but left the bidding countries intact. Obviously, it’s a different scenario if evidence shows that a successful bidder was paying Executive Committee members. How that might play out isn’t as obvious.

It would be unfortunate to see the allegations against Qatar used to maneuver politically within the current election cycle. The timing is unfortunate, with the potential for serious ethical charges to be brought during the same FIFA Congress where a president is elected.

Part of the allegations levied in front of the British Parliament is that some of the people holding votes within FIFA are acting in their own personal interest rather than as representatives of the territories they represent. The ExCom is the elite of world soccer’s bureaucracy, and those accused include some of the biggest players in FIFA politics. Should the charges prove true, it would be naïve to think that behavior stops at the Executive Committee level.

What we’re left with is a FIFA presidential campaign that’s no longer about differing views of the future. It’s about the immediate past. Whether or not any of the English allegations hold, they’ve managed to push corruption to the top of the table in this election cycle. This isn’t exactly new for FIFA, but this time they might not have as much control as they like to think.

Britain’s Sports Minister has already indicated that it should be a European concern that FIFA is run with greater transparency than what we’ve seen over the last few years. Government interference remains the biggest threat to FIFA as an organization, thus their long-held negative response toward any individual government attempting to delve into soccer affairs. Faced with multiple governments and the European Union, it would be tough for that position to hold. The alternative is changing from within.

In an op-ed published by Italy’s biggest sports newspaper last week, Blatter has already indicated he believes he is the difference between FIFA continuing to grow and “irreversible damage.” Maybe, especially for those that believe the current system works in spite of itself. That might be the real meaning behind Blatter’s use of the phrase ‘black hole’ in describing a possible future for FIFA without his leadership.

That’s not exactly a cheery thought, at least suggesting that a FIFA left to its own devices might not be sustainable. Blatter has already said that if reelected this will be his last term. What changes in the next four years under his leadership to make the FIFA presidency transferable should be a very good question.

Blatter has done a remarkable job of strengthening the office of the FIFA president. Though he used the analogy of a house in his op-ed, that’s playing to the vanity of the Confederations. His opponent Mohamed Bin Hammam has stressed Blatter’s continual sublimation of the role of the Confederations and the Executive Committee in making important decisions. Both have a point. Unfortunately, both points are somewhat undone by the current corruption allegations.

For Blatter’s version of FIFA, overt corruption means an Executive Committee, and by extension an electorate, that can’t be trusted. For Bin Hammam, his version of the future puts more control in the hands of an Executive Committee that might contain additional members selling votes. As potential futures go, both are decidedly problematic.

This leaves FIFA is in a familiar position. The organization isn’t known for transparency, and considering Blatter’s previous presidencies that’s not likely to change under his leadership. Bin Hammam has pushed just that, but if elected he might be inheriting a broken Executive Committee with multiple members facing ethics charges. Bin Hammam might be the better choice in a ‘clear the bums out’ election overhaul, but it’s his country Qatar now having to publicly deny accusations of buying World Cup votes.

Again, for FIFA allegations of corruption and a basic lack of transparency aren't new problems, and once again there’s not a clear reform choice. One would hope that for the 208 presidential vote holders, this election becomes about the best alternative for salvaging a ridiculous situation before getting to work reforming their own association, Confederations, and with that the Executive Committee. That’s the only substantive reaction instead of simply continuing on with FIFA business as usual.

oh my, this hasn't been looked at before? "The FBI wants DNA samples from 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski in its probe of the 1982 Tylenol killings. " CNN

cool, very cool . . .

http://ping.fm/bp7kH

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

wishing peace for Zsa Zsa . . .

CNN's Jessica Ravitz on this weekend's Doomsday: ". . . if these folks are right, you should probably pass on buying green bananas."

World Music News Wire

Go North!: Canada’s Outdoor Summer Music Festivals Bring Spontaneous Jams to the People

http://www.worldmusicwire.com

Things are different at Canada’s outdoor summer music festivals. Blues legend Taj Mahal hobnobs with local fishermen. Baby boomers in Birkenstocks have rap conversion experiences thanks to Shad or K’Naan. The Arcade Fire lead mass sing-a-longs, and bands jam all night under a midnight sun.

A serious passion for collaboration—between artists, audience members, and even between festivals—makes moments like these happen. Festivals from the Yukon (Dawson City Music Festival) to British Columbia (Vancouver Island MusicFest), from Calgary (Calgary Folk Music Festival) to Guelph, Ontario (Hillside Festival) instigate on-the-spot sessions modestly referred to as “workshops,” but more like anything-goes jams. When artists say they’ve shared a stage, they mean it, literally.

At a workshop, it’s absolutely normal to hear an acoustic punk outfit jamming with Tuvan throatsingers or an Inuit vocalist teaming up with a prog rock guitarist. You can catch a Chicago soul band laughing and jamming with their Klondike counterparts until the wee hours, or indie darlings tearing into an improvisation with veteran rockers.

The sessions are designed to get musicians—and listeners—out of their usual grooves and into closer contact. That demands a special kind of performer, one eager for experience and direct interaction, who can put aside pretense to share a guitar technique with a new collaborator at a workshop or who can dive into a crazy haze of sound from a completely different corner of the world and just play.

Collaboration and surprise combinations have become synonymous with these events among musicians who’ve played them. So much so, established performers like bluegrass icon Allison Krauss now call the organizers to pitch new genre-crossing projects and ideas. Emerging indie and global artists (Feist, The Unthanks, Grupo Fantasma, Vusi Mahlasela, Basia Bulat) have gotten serious career boosts or profound inspiration from hanging out and playing for these festivals’ distinctly friendly crowds. Genre is less important, say festival programmers, than musicianship, attitude, and caliber. Which is why Keb’ Mo’ and Greg Brown share the same line-up with The Cat Empire and DJ Dolores.

http://ping.fm/BAqJW

Canadian festivals maintain strong ties to their bohemian roots—their left-leaning, homegrown origins—by minimizing their environmental impact, and by sharing ideas and giving each other a helping hand during lean years. The collaborative, cross-genre model has inspired events organizers from major American festivals (folks from Coachella have been spotted at Hillside), and now, is inspiring festivals as far away as Rwanda.

The emphasis on spontaneity and cooperation pays serious dividends for festival-goers, who use these events not just to catch their favorite marquee artists, but to uncover something new. Music fans—seniors and kids, hipsters and folkies, gold mine mechanics and urban professionals—often talk about catching the strains of something unexpected from a nearby tent, and finding their next favorite band. You’ll see skeptical teens get excited about neo-Celtic songstress Loreena McKennitt, while their parents get turned on to Broken Social Scene. Canada’s outdoor music festivals are designed to invite free-form days and serendipity, as musicians to kick back and relax, and audiences to open their ears.

Lady Gaga Special from MTV

“I remember once some of the girls from my class, they were hanging out with some boys that I knew also and I went to meet some friends for some pizza that were at the same pizzeria and the boys picked me up and threw me in the trashcan, on the street. On the corner of my block while all the other girls from the school were leaving and could see me in the trash and everybody was laughing and I was even laughing. I always have that nervous… giggle and I just remember like holding back the tears and the lip quivering and don’t let them see you and I remember even one of the girls looking at me like “Are you about to cry? You’re pathetic.” That’s what I, that’s what I felt like, you’re pathetic. “Are you about to cry?” And I just, I remember I didn’t tell anybody, that’s what I remember. I remember I didn’t tell anybody. I remember I didn’t want to tell my parents because it was too embarrassing. And I remember I didn’t want to really bring it up with my girlfriends even though they were there.”

http://ping.fm/Xg2TH

Lady Gaga Reveals For the First Time Intimate Stories of Her Youth and Path to Stardom in Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside,
New Hour-Long Documentary Set to Premiere on MTV Thursday, May 26th at 9pm ET/PT

Teaser Trailer to Premiere on MTV on Thursday, May 19th at 10:58pm ET/PT

NEW YORK, NY – May 18, 2011 – With her third album, BORN THIS WAY, set to debut on May 23rd, the legend of Lady Gaga to date has been well documented. But who is the girl that became this pop-culture and musical icon, and what legacy does she want to leave?

MTV today announced the premiere of an exclusive brand new hour-long interview, Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside, that will compel viewers to look beyond the outlandish outfits, spectacular live performances, and controversy, and instead appreciate the forces, events and influences that shaped Stefani Germanotta’s ascension into one of pop music’s most influential and successful artists of our time – through her own words. The special will debut exclusively on MTV domestically on Thursday, May 26th at 9pm ET/PT, and internationally in mid-June across more than 150 territories (check local listings). The documentary will then be made available in the U.S. for free on-demand streaming on MTV.com.

A teaser trailer will premiere exclusively on MTV on Thursday, May 19th at 10:58pm ET/PT, following a new episode of Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew.

Lady Gaga: Inside The Outside features an intimate, stripped-down interview with Lady Gaga, who recounts never-before-heard life experiences that shaped her early years and brought her to where she is today. From the moment she looked in the mirror and decided she was meant to be a star, to the “Thunder Road” challenge she accepted from her father to land her first baby grand piano, Lady Gaga shares an abundance of personal and poignant stories that includes: the inspiration behind her first song, the impact of being bullied at school, her musical and style influences, her relationship with her family, her love of late night bike rides around Brooklyn, and much more. Viewers will also learn how she juggles fame and her career, along with fans and her personal life, and the social causes that drive her.

“While we all know the artist who has matured into a major force in music, fashion and pop culture, Lady Gaga has seldom discussed in detail the young woman she was before,” said Dave Sirulnick, Executive Vice President, MTV News and Docs. “With this documentary, we’re pulling back the veil and providing a rare glimpse into the rich back story and personal life of this modern day icon.”

Lady Gaga's highly anticipated third studio album, "Born This Way," is scheduled for release on May 23, 2011. The first single from the album, title track "Born This Way", set a music industry record by becoming the fastest single in history to reach sales of 1,000,000 copies (five days after its February 11th release). Only the 19th single to ever debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (issue date February 26,2011), the recording was Lady Gaga's third #1 on the chart. On iTunes, the song debuted at the top spot in 14 countries, including the U.S., and hit #1 in all 23 iTunes stores worldwide its first week out. “Born This Way” was Gaga’s 7th single to hit #1 at Top 40. The second single from the album, “Judas” has eclipsed 500,000 in sales and Lady Gaga’s latest two singles, “The Edge of Glory” and “Hair” are both currently in the iTunes top 10.

In less than three years, Lady Gaga has won a sleuth of high profile awards and honors, including the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, the 2011 MTV O Music Award for Most Innovative Artist and five Grammy Awards. Her hit singles, including "Just Dance," "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance" have sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

With over 1.3 billion combined views of all her videos online, Lady Gaga is one of the biggest living people on Facebook with over 34 million 'likes’ and is #1 on Twitter with over 10 million followers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

RIP Harmon Killebrew

http://ping.fm/gnKMZ

Monday, May 16, 2011

http://ping.fm/BpbAN

got a Twitter follow request from 'Not Mitch Hedberg' . . . i guess that's a good thing . . . that he's 'not' anyway . . . i think . . .

donald trump tsk tsk, teasing us like you tease your hair?

World Music News Wire

Heaven and Earth: Musical Pioneer John Martyn’s Last Sonic Testament

http://ping.fm/X3H9M

When the late British musical icon John Martyn sat down at the keys, veteran music producer and good friend Jim Tullio sighed. Martyn, an innovative guitarist and singer, had just finished a suite for the London National Ballet Company, which Tullio was mixing, but insisted he needed to lay down a keyboard part. Tullio prepared for hours of noodling, but Martyn made one pass and left. As Tullio incorporated the track into the mix, he was blown away.

“It worked perfectly,” Tullio recalls. “I learned a lesson then, to trust his instincts. John was a genius. He made music more naturally than anyone I’ve ever met, as effortlessly as the way you and I speak.”

JohnMartynHeaven_cover Tullio is not alone in his assessment. Martyn, a cult-status musician’s musician, was admired by everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to Lee “Scratch” Perry and Bob Marley. Martyn’s groundbreaking guitar technique, tape delay, and recording approaches inspired Brian Eno’s ambient sound and The Edge’s shimmering, delay-drenched strings. He was lionized by Bristol trip-hoppers and chill-out DJs.

After Martyn’s passing in early 2009, Tullio and co-producer Gary Pollitt put Martyn’s last musical testament in order, transforming rough-edged vocals, expansive takes, and complex guitar work into Heaven and Earth (Hole in the Rain; May 3, 2011). Martyn’s voice and striking songs reveal the depth and perception of a musical elder, with his signature grit and sprawling panache.

http://ping.fm/uRmbt

Several close friends and long-time musical collaborators—including Phil Collins—contributed elements to Heaven and Earth. But the heart of the album—felt on tracks like “Gambler” and “Bad Company”—beats in Martyn’s intuitive, idiosyncratic sense of the blues, filtered through his earthy feel for roots- and jazz-inspired songwriting and his raw voice.

Sounds like: the gritty yet sparkling last word from a neglected music legend who transformed rock, reggae, club music, and folk.

~~~

“John didn’t think about much until he was there doing it. Making music was a spontaneous process, not preconceived. He had a cool vibe,” reflects Tullio, a longtime fan and musical collaborator. They first met in Martyn’s native Scotland, thanks to a colleague from the band Supertramp. “We stopped in this village behind a church and knocked on a cottage door,” Tullio remembers. “And there was John. My friend had set it up and surprised me.”

Before long, Tullio became Martyn’s American connection, reuniting Martyn with old friends like Levon Helm of The Band (whom Martyn met during a late-60s sojourn in Woodstock) and working on several of Martyn’s albums and composition projects. Martyn hung out for months at Tullio’s home and studio in Chicago, making music and becoming practically part of the family. “The personal and musical weren’t separate for John, as they aren’t for most brilliant artists,” Tullio notes.

The personal was complex, and involved a tragic addiction to drink. Martyn lost a leg to alcohol poisoning, yet continued recording, performing, and pushing his music in new directions. An admirer of Pharaoh Sanders for decades, Martyn had a project with Sanders scheduled for early in 2009. But illness took him first.

Tullio and Gary Pollitt, felt they owed it to their friend to put together the pieces of his last works. Tullio had first-hand experience with weaving together the recordings of a talented musician who died before his time, having crafted a Grammy®-winning final record by Steve Goodman (of “City of New Orleans” fame).

His experience didn’t make the labor of love before him any easier emotionally, though he and Pollitt shared a sense of how Martyn approached arrangements and of how best to honor his memory.

“We didn’t do any editing. A lot of the tracks are long—even rambling—but we left them that way, as John last heard them,” explains Tullio. “We knew this was it, so we made a conscious decision to keep everything, every morsel.”

In addition to instrumental tracks and backing vocals by some of Martyn’s favorite backup singers, Phil Collins, a close friend and avid supporter of Martyn’s, sang background vocals on his song “Can’t Turn Back The Years.” Martyn covered Collins’s song, in part as a tribute to their bond, forged as the two men were both grappling with divorce in 1980. (Martyn crashed at Collins’s home for a spell.)

“John wanted to do one of Phil’s songs to repay him,” said Tullio. “After John passed, I spoke with Phil and he really wanted to sing on the track. He said he had always wanted John to record one of his songs. You can hear the emotion in both their voices.” It’s a haunting feeling that pervades all of Heaven and Earth.

Broadway Musical Theatergoers Outraged at
Producers Replacing Live Music with Recordings
According to Nationwide Poll

First Broadway musical to replace live musicians with a recording, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, panned by critics as “monotonous and mechanical”

3 out of 4 theatergoers would not buy tickets knowing a show was using recorded music.


NEW YORK, NY—May 16, 2011: The thrill of hearing and seeing a live orchestra at a Broadway musical is one of the few remaining authentic musical experiences in American culture today. Indeed, audiences from every corner of the world flock to New York to experience the best of the best on Broadway. But in recent years some producers have begun to slash live orchestras and replace musicians with recordings or synthetic music to squeeze out a few extra dollars in profits. Meanwhile, ticket prices continue to rise.

To combat this assault on the excellence of Broadway shows, a coalition of Broadway composers, lyricists, musicians, performers and top professionals from the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and The Julliard School have joined with the Council for Living Music* to launch a nationwide campaign, “Save Live Music On Broadway.”

Broadway Musical Audiences Want Live Music—Not Recordings, New Study Finds

Producers of the recently opened Priscilla, Queen of the Desert have drastically cut the theatre’s live orchestra and forced the remaining musicians to play along with a recording. Critics have been appalled, calling the show “synthetic to the core” (Time Out New York); “mechanical and monotonous” and “karaoke-inspired” (The New York Times); “a glossy costume party masquerading as a musical” (New York Daily News); and declaring that “the songs… blend together into an undifferentiated morass” (everythingmusicals.com).

Audiences agree that live music is essential to the Broadway Musical experience. A 704-person national survey released today shows that musical theatergoers overwhelmingly oppose the replacement of live music with pre-recorded tracks. The Broadway Musical Theatergoer Study, commissioned by the nonprofit Council for Living Music, reveals widespread shock and disappointment among the theatergoing public that some producers are seeking to cheapen the musical experience Broadway audiences expect and deserve.

91% of those surveyed said, “The best part about a Broadway Musical is the live music,” and 92% said they would be disappointed if they learned that a show for which they had bought tickets would contain little or no live music. For an industry so central to New York City tourism, it is noteworthy that 3 out of 4 respondents said they would not buy tickets to a show if they were aware it would be using recorded music to replace some or all of the musicians. The facts are clear: theatergoers are not willing to pay Broadway ticket prices for a sub-par experience so that producers can squeeze out a few more dollars in profits. (To see full poll results visit SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com.)


“Save Live Music On Broadway.com” Campaign Launches

The Save Live Music on Broadway campaign is launching today with a mission to send a message to Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League—the trade association for most of Broadway’s producers and theater owners―to keep Broadway music live. The Save Live Music on Broadway website (SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com) provides a detailed history of the Broadway League's race to the cultural bottom, along with the opportunity to sign a petition opposing the replacement of live music with recordings. Supporters also can “Like” Save Live Music On Broadway on Facebook and follow the campaign on Twitter (@SaveLiveMusic). Ironically, from 1997 through 2006 the Broadway League ran a large-scale nationwide marketing campaign, "LIVE Broadway," with the message that what makes theatergoing superior and unique is that audiences would experience the electricity and passion of flesh-and-blood performers and musicians, an experience that the League emphasized could not be had by watching movies or television or by listening to recordings on CD's, iPods (and now on smart phones), computers or other digital devices.

Endorsers of the Save Live Music on Broadway campaign include some of Broadway’s brightest lights, including Marc Shaiman (Composer, Lyricist, Arranger, Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can), and Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Composer and Lyricist, Grey Gardens), as well as some of the most prominent figures in the wider music community including Joseph Polisi, President of The Julliard School for Dance, Drama and Music, New York Philharmonic Concert Master Glenn Dicterow and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Assistant Concert Master Laura Hamilton.


What Broadway's Creative Artists and Critics Have To Say

SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com features a video of America's greatest living composer of Broadway musicals, Stephen Sondheim, saying, "Every audience is privileged to see a very specific performance that nobody will ever see again. It's the aliveness of the orchestra that makes the evening unique and allows for the interplay between the audience, the stage and the pit, which is necessary in every musical. There has to be a three-way interplay – each of them has to affect the other....If it's not all live, it doesn't have life."

Further describing the irreplaceable value of live orchestras, Broadway composer Scott Frankel said, “Going to see a Broadway musical is one of the few remaining hand-cobbled experiences left in our digitized entertainment world. It is something of a tightrope act: the actors are delivering their lines and songs in real time, not prerecorded; the live musicians perform the score with nuance and sensitivity, reacting not only to subtle interpretative variances emanating from the stage, but also from particular audience responses. Having played in the pits of Broadway musicals, conducted Broadway pit orchestras and composed the score for a Broadway musical...I can attest to the fact that when everything is 'live' it keeps the experience fresh and alive for performers, musicians and audiences alike."

Even Broadway’s most venerated and time-honored musicals are not immune. In 2010, producers of a revival of Leonard Bernstein’s classic West Side Story slashed five musicians after 500 performances and replaced them with a synthesizer, prompting violinist and Bernstein collaborator Paul Woodiel to write in an op-ed in The New York Times, “I don’t think Lenny would have approved.” Critics like the New York Post’s Barbara Hoffman agreed, stating “Something as sacred as that score, one of the most beautiful scores ever written—it’s blasphemous.”

The West Side Story incident is also a blatant example of producers’ frequent “bait and switch” tactics—opening a show with a full live orchestra, garnering positive reviews, and then cheating subsequent audiences by replacing much of the acclaimed orchestra with canned music. And when producers cheapen the quality of the show, do they reduce ticket prices? Of course not!—they continue to raise the cost of tickets to squeeze out even more profits.

A full history of the struggle to keep Broadway live can be found at: SaveLiveMusicOnBroadway.com



*The Council for Living Music


The Council for Living Music is an organization whose purpose is to enhance the public’s recognition of the art of live music and live musical performance in all its magnificent forms. We are dedicated to increasing public awareness and appreciation of various forms of musical expression, preserving historic and contemporary musical forms and encouraging the development of new varieties of musical expression that evolve through live performance. Let’s keep musical performances LIVE!

http://ping.fm/jrlCG

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wow! Harmon Killebrew . . .

http://ping.fm/2sSEp

that's the price for not paying the trademarked name licensing fee . . . "A breaching whale smashed the mast and rigging of a 38-foot racing sailboat in a Pacific Ocean encounter off southwest Washington on Thursday, leaving bits of blubber behind, the sailors told the Coast Guard. Crew members aboard the L'Orca were safely in the cockpit and unhurt during the encounter, said Ryan Barnes of Portland, Ore." -- AP

"did you hear, Charlie Sheen signed on for his next project. It’s called, “Dude, Where’s My Job?" -- Kevin Biegel

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 10, 2011
Mountain Lion Tranquilized, Shot in Downtown El Paso

EL PASO — A mountain lion that authorities first had tried to tranquilize led law enforcement officers, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden captain and city animal control officers on a wild chase through central El Paso that ended with the animal being shot and killed.

The mountain lion, a female estimated to weigh 125 pounds, was first seen on railroad tracks near downtown around 8:30 a.m. by Union Pacific employees. They contacted El Paso’s animal control unit, which began looking for the cat. A short time later, a passerby saw the animal enter the parking garage of a state office building at 401 E. Franklin, where TPWD game wardens have their offices along with several other government agencies.

Once the animal had been cornered in the garage, a Texas Department of Health veterinarian shot it with a tranquilizer dart. But before the drug could take full effect, it jumped from the second floor of the garage back onto the street, heading north out of downtown with multiple agencies in hot pursuit, including game warden Capt. Robert Newman, city animal control and others.

Passing through a school yard, the big cat ran about a half-mile north to H&H Car Wash at 701 E. Yandell Dr., where Newman and other officers evacuated several customers and lowered the business’s vehicle security gate to trap the mountain lion inside. The animal eventually lay down, but it did not lose consciousness so the veterinarian shot it with a second tranquilizer dart.

Despite that injection, the mountain lion took off and hit the fence, finding a space it was able to crawl through. Since it appeared about to escape again, two officers — one from El Paso Police Department and one from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – shot and killed the animal shortly before 10:30 a.m. The carcass will go to city animal control facilities, and there will eventually be a necropsy analysis done.

Capt. Newman noted that the Rio Grande is only about a mile from the incident area, and that the Franklin Mountains are also nearby. He said there are occasional reports of mountain lions within the city limits, and that three or four years ago a TPWD game warden shot and killed a mountain lion in a west side neighborhood that backed up to the mountain range.

General information about mountain lions in Texas, including what people can do if they encounter a mountain lion, is on the TPWD website.

http://ping.fm/k9mR2

May 11th, 2011

Even students not particularly interested in nurturing a career in the theater arts can still appreciate drama’s aesthetic and literary merit. Great plays proudly stand the test of time along other written works, and earn coveted positions on university syllabi in both the English and theatre departments. They enjoy references in plenty other forms of media for their cultural, historical and intellectual relevance. Far more than these 50, listed in absolutely no particular order whatsoever, warrant reading, of course. But they do represent a great start when exploring drama’s potential as challenging works of literary achievement.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Former student accepts deal in Rutgers suicide case
From Nina Raja, CNN
May 6, 2011 4:12 p.m. EDT
Molly Wei must participate in counseling associated with cyberbullying and alternate and cultural lifestyles.
Molly Wei must participate in counseling associated with cyberbullying and alternate and cultural lifestyles.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* An ex-Rutgers student is admitted to a pretrial intervention program
* Molly Wei is accused of invasion of privacy for viewing student's same-sex encounter
* Wei is required to do community service and must testify against classmate Dharun Ravi
* Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge after the incident

RELATED TOPICS

* Tyler Clementi
* Dharun Ravi
* Cyberbullying

(CNN) -- A former Rutgers University student who allegedly watched a web video secretly taken of a male student's sexual encounter with another man has been admitted to a pretrial intervention program.

Molly Wei pleaded not guilty Friday to two counts of invasion of privacy, according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

The case exposed the issue of bullying and suicide on school campuses after a grand jury indictment alleged that Wei's classmate Dharun Ravi secretly streamed online the encounter between his roommate, Tyler Clementi, and another man in September 2010.

Clementi's body was recovered from the Hudson River on September 30, more than a week after he jumped from the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River separating New York and New Jersey.

Should Wei complete the three-year program without additional legal troubles, the invasion of privacy charges for allegedly watching the video will be dropped, the office said.

Wei will be required to complete 300 hours of community service and must participate in counseling associated with cyberbullying and alternate and cultural lifestyles.

The deal also requires that she testify against Ravi, who allegedly set up the camera.

A grand jury indicted Ravi on 15 counts including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, tampering with physical evidence, witness tampering and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

Authorities said Ravi secretly placed a camera in the room and accessed it remotely.

He "then provided others an opportunity to view the encounter," Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said in a written statement.

Two days later, Ravi attempted to view a second encounter between Clementi and the same male, alerting others on Twitter of the planned meeting, the statement said.

Ravi is accused of then deleting the tweet and replacing it with a false tweet in an effort to mislead investigators, according to the statement.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Spector Fighting For Club And Country

By Clemente Lisi -- It’s been an interesting season for Jonathan Spector. After spending the Summer with the United States National Team at the World Cup, he returned to a West Ham United squad that needed a late season surge to avoid relegation. Under new management, Spector spent the first part of the season seeing limited time in the West Ham defense. What changed for Spector was a change in position. As a central midfielder, he scored goals. That made him a regular name on West Ham manager Avram Grant’s team sheet.

“I’ve enjoyed my new role. It’s given me a chance to help the offense a bit more,” said Spector, a native of the Chicago-area who has developed a hint of a British accent after his eight years in England.

Spector, 25, has been in the National Team mix since 2004. Originally a striker when he got his start for the US Under-17 team in 2003, Spector finally made it big as a defender. During the Milk Cup that year, a Manchester United scout liked what he saw in Spector, leading to a contract.

At Manchester United, Spector played infrequently until injuries to other players forced coach Alex Ferguson to give the 17-year-old more minutes. In 2005, Spector was loaned out to Charlton Athletic, where he made 24 league game appearances. In June 2006, Spector signed with West Ham, where he became a regular in the starting lineup. At West Ham, Spector played left back – even though he is right-footed – under then-manager Gianfranco Zola. Once Zola was fired, the club’s new coach Avram Grant moved Spector into the midfield.

“I accept my role on the team, no matter what it is, and I try to excel at it,” Spector said during his stay in the US in March for the National Team’s friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay.

Spector has excelled at his newfound position over the past few months, although he struggled to get minutes. He scored his first-ever career goals in England this season, including two in a 4-0 home win at Upton Park over former club Manchester United in the League Cup last November. Commenting on his time on the bench, Spector was quoted on the club’s website as saying, “It’s been a bit frustrating and disappointing, but at the same time you have to wait for your chance and it came on Tuesday.”

In January, he scored again in West Ham’s 2-0 home win against Barnsley in the FA Cup. Spector then netted his first-ever EPL goal in January on the road against his USA teammate Tim Howard at Goodison Park in a 2-2 draw against Everton.

“I was happy to finally get that first (Premiership) goal after being here for a few years,” he said.

Despite his solid play in the midfield, the London-based club has spent most of the season mired in the relegation zone. Currently in last place in the Premiership, the Hammers are in a seven-team battle to avoid the drop.

“We’ve been stuck in the relegation for most of this season and we’re going to have to give it our all to get out of it,” he said.

Spector said he’s been involved in relegation battles in the past and that “they’re always tough” to overcome. Last season, West Ham finished in 17th place, avoiding the drop by a mere five points.

West Ham suffered another blow this past Sunday, losing 2-1 to Manchester City. The Hammers host Blackburn, which features National Team midfielder Jermaine Jones, this coming Saturday in a must-win game for both clubs. Blackburn is six points above West Ham in the standings. West Ham closes the season at home against Sunderland on May 22nd in a match that could determine whether the Hammers stay in the EPL or are forced to play in the second-tier Championship come August. That game is already sold out.

At international level, Spector has worked for playing time in a crowded US defensive corp. Still, he has earned a chance to impress, showing well for coach Bob Bradley and winning a spot on the 2010 World Cup squad. Though he didn’t play, he was there in part due to how he performed in the ‘09 Confederations Cup. Playing as a right back, he assisted on Clint Dempsey’s goal against Egypt in the first round and again, using a similar long ball, aided Dempsey in scoring the game’s opening goal against Brazil in that ill-fated final.

Spector returned to the US starting lineup after the World Cup, starting against Brazil and Colombia in a pair of friendlies to close out the year. He started in another marquee friendly against Argentina in March and was a substitute against Paraguay a few days later.

“You constantly have to prove yourself – either on the club level or on the National Team – because there is always another player out there looking to grab a spot,” Spector said.

Spector, who was on the US team that won the 2007 Gold Cup, said he is looking forward to this summer’s Gold Cup and hopes to be part of the squad this summer.

“Representing the US is always an honor. Not many players get the chance to do that,” said Spector, who has 30 appearances with the National Team “ I am always honored to put on the US shirt.”