Review: Sheryl Crow and John Mayer in Irvine, Calif., Sept. 27, 2006*

September 30, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

I’ll freely admit it; I mainly went to see John Mayer on Wednesday night. I’ve fallen for the kid hard. He’s a great singer, terrific lyricist, totally easy on the eyes, awesome in interviews and mesmerizing on the guitar. There was no question I had to see him as he promotes his latest album "Continuum," so when I read that he was coming to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine with Sheryl Crow, I felt like he was the cake and she was the icing. Boy was I wrong.

Even though she played the first, shorter set of the two, Crow is second to no one. In a word, the woman rocks. In a set filled mainly with fan favorites, Crow had the crowd at her command as she unleashed her powerful voice and switched smoothly between bass, acoustic and electric guitars.

The set began with "A Change Would Do You Good," a song that had the lollygaggers (myself included) rushing from dinner and drinks straight to our seats. Mayer joined Crow’s impressive band for "My Favorite Mistake." "He can play," she told the crowd after her co-headliner meekly left the stage.

"It’s been a crazy year and we’re just so glad people showed up," Crow told the crowd. None of that well-publicized craziness had any impact on Crow’s performance, though, and through the strong set that included "If It Makes You Happy," sing-along "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "Steve McQueen," she proved herself to be one of the top women in rock, standing comfortably alongside legendary forebears like Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin.

Crow put her guitar down for the final song of her set, "Every Day Is a Winding Road" and sassily strutted across the stage, looking much like Tina Turner as she did so. And in her leather pants and vest, matched with her voice, smile and general presence, Crow showed that the girls in rock can definitely give the boys a run for their money.

Mayer, the boy of the evening, staked his own claim, preferring to go down his own blues path instead of trying to beat Crow at her game (and, truth be told, it wouldn’t have been much of a fight). He took a pretty big risk in dedicating most of his set to the weeks-old "Continuum," but it paid off as the faithful got to sing along with new favorites for the first time and casual fans, or those there for Crow alone, learned that this album is definitely worth picking up.

"Vultures," "Gravity" and first single "Waiting on the World to Change" were among the highlights from "Continuum." Grammy-winning "Daughters" got the whole crowd singing and swooning and "Why Georgia" from Mayer’s debut "Room for Squares" felt "brand new" for its singer that night in Irvine.

With Mayer, though, the guitar playing is the main attraction and several times during the evening, he brought the somewhat mellow crowd to its feet. As Crow said, he really can play. Watching Mayer play is nearly as enjoyable as hearing him. With him, it seems that he truly needs to play—his facial and body expressions giving the impression that he’s desperately trying to get something out of him when he plays. I don’t know if he’s fully satisfied with his efforts, but the Irvine crowd was definitely bowled over by his output.

Mayer also had his share of mooning to do over Crow. "She’s like filet mignon and I’m like cube steak," he told the crowd. Though he sees himself as scraps, Mayer had the benefit of being the night’s true headliner and got an three-song encore that started out with an acoustic rendition of "3X5" from "Room for Squares" and was rounded out by two more "Continuum" tracks, "I Don’t Trust Myself With Loving You" and "In Repair."

The show went on longer than I thought it would but both Crow and Mayer gave the impression that they could have gone on all night if given the opportunity. If only they’d been given the opportunity.

I guess I can’t be too greedy. There are more dates for these two to play and it wouldn’t be fair for them to give all the good stuff away so soon even if the crowd in Irvine would have loved it if they had.

For more information on John Mayer, check out his official website. Read’s review of "Continuum" here. Visit the Sheryl Crow website here.

Review: The Raconteurs at Roseland Ballroom, New York, Sept. 25, 2006*

September 27, 2006

By Carrie Alison, Editor

Meg White, we hardly knew ye. No more shall Jack White sing the tale of "Boll Weevil" to conclude a White Stripes concert from here on out. He no longer needs to look for a home. He’s found one in Nashville with The Raconteurs and school was in session Monday night at Roseland Ballroom.

The inimitable White returned to New York City with his storytelling band of brothers—critically adored singer-songwriter Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes—to a sold-out crowd of devoted fans (already?!) and your requisite scenesters as "Broken Flowers" director Jim Jarmusch and Michael Stipe looked on.

Opener Dr. Dog from West Philadelphia, who, in its own words, "are interested in three-part harmonies, the out-of-doors, hoagies, vegetables and diminished chords," performed its opening duties with such ferociously rocking, tequila-drenched barroom bravado, you consider yourself extremely lucky to witness the band before it hits Black Keys-type mania with the music bloggers.

With just two hanging lanterns, and a grand, old-fashioned curtain with a proud, sprawling "R," The Raconteurs immediately launched into "Intimate Secretary," a naughty romp of a tune that simultaneously feels like a delicious road trip through America’s Heartland, and a warm, laughter-filled day at the beach with your best friends, a cooler full of PBR and the promise of a bonfire that night.

"Level" followed, proving that not only are Benson and White the coolest men in rock, their sheer axe and harmonic power together is fearsome. It used to suck if you weren’t in the White Stripes circa "Elephant" in 2003, now it truly must be intimidating to not be a Raconteur in 2006.

Next up were a lovely "Hands" and "Together," both feeling as familiar and worn-in as the beat-up La-Z-Boy your grandma fell asleep on after watching "Cat Ballou" on Sunday afternoons after dinner. The ultra-talented Benson is truly the MVP you want on your team. A revelatory "Yellow Sun" would confirm to me that these guys would be satisfied enough to play anywhere, be it a back porch in rural Kansas, a dingy subway station, or in the middle of Union Square. I sensed not a shred or hint of ego emanating from that hallowed stage (especially from rock superstar White), only confidence, and The Raconteurs certainly have every right to feel confident these days.

"Store Bought Bones," replete with dirty slide guitar and Queen-ly falsetto is why I despise commercial radio and trendy, throwaway rock bands. They can’t produce epic guitar and lush harmonies like this.

The showstopper would arrive next in the form of an overwhelmingly dramatic cover of Nancy Sinatra’s "Bang Bang," with White’s impassioned vocals and extraordinary guitar front and center. This will be my rock concert moment of the year, as it has been of many a concertgoer who has witnessed "Bang Bang" at The Raconteurs’ myriad festival appearances this season. Check out various clips of the band’s take on song on YouTube if you don’t believe me. Or hell, check out YouTube if you want to see some magic.

A masterful "Broken Boy Soldiers" gave way to a playful and frisky version of the hit single "Steady as She Goes, but it was the swaying, crooning, devastating show closer, "Blue Veins," that would take the audience’s breath away and lead a guy next to me bellow, "the guy’s [White] just a freak of nature."

Power chord and ’60s rock-pillaging criticism be damned—the Raconteurs have made this longtime White Stripes admirer a believer out of me. Come to Daddy(s), ya’ll.

For more information on The Raconteurs, please visit the official website. The debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers" is available now on V2 Records.

Review: U2: Zoo TV Live from Sydney*

September 25, 2006

By Matthew Anderson

For some, the last great U2 album was 1987′s "The Joshua Tree." For those souls, 1991′s "Achtung Baby" was nothing more than the sound of a dozen Trabants colliding.

For others, me included, the back-to-back releases of "Achtung Baby" and "Zooropa" were a revelation. They were the drugs of empowerment and mind expansion that drove me to enter BonoNonAnon, that’s Bonoholics Non-Anonymous to the uninitiated.

Sure, Madonna is often credited as being a master of reinvention. But with Zoo TV, those four Irish lads who gained renown for wearing their hearts on their sleeves cut those sleeves off and let it rip. To this day, Zoo TV makes Madonna’s various incarnations look like nothing more than a parade of dresses and sensual wear pilfered from Victoria & Albert’s fashion wing.

Zoo TV wasn’t just the reinvention of a band on the verge of breaking up following the meteoric success of "The Joshua Tree" and the subsequent muted reception of "Rattle and Hum," Zoo TV was a total reengineering of the concert-going experience.

And for me, it was the tour that kicked me in the arse, dragged me to the light, and showed me how everything I knew was so painfully wrong. It was life-altering in every sense of the term.

Trabants, Lemons, and Mirror Ball Man

Taking the last flight into East Germany before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, U2 arrived in Berlin for some recording sessions and to figure out where it was headed. Heavily influenced by its surroundings during the tense and storied recording of "Achtung Baby," U2 turned that influence into inspiration for the tour, using Trabants as stage lights and creating a whole world of its own, the magical realm of Zooropa. It was the ultimate result of Bono’s own declaration at the end of the Lovetown Tour that the band had "to go away and dream it all up again."

Concert staging concepts come and go; the details of the staging and assorted production values of the typical concert are usually forgotten and it’s the memory of the performance that lingers in the mind. But with Zoo TV, it was the ultimate package deal. The staging was more than elaborate; it was a monumental undertaking that, unlike the vast majority of concerts, is actually more relevant now than ever.

Before the world became inundated with mass media outlets like DirecTV, TiVo, Video on Demand and the proliferation of the internet, Zoo TV questioned the constant bombardment of entertainment and the messages being sent out on the airwaves.

It also gave Bono a fantastic opportunity to indulge himself. During the early legs of the tour, as Mirrorball Man, Bono took on the airs of a cartoonish televangelist and at once lampooned those cultural curiosities along with his own preacher-like inclinations ("I had a vision … television," he would declare like a hellfire and brimstone Baptist preacher). Later on, as Mr. Macphisto, it was a total flip-flop as Bono indulged the devil inside. Thanks to the new two-disc DVD, which handily trumps all the previous home video renditions of the show, both incarnations are now on hand.

Dream Out Loud

Yes. The "limited edition" two-disc Zoo TV set is a great thing indeed.

For one there is, obviously, the concert itself. Now in glorious speaker-blowing DTS 5.1 surround (as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM stereo), the Sydney show has never, ever sounded better outside of the football stadium itself. Granted, the picture isn’t always up to today’s high-definition standards, but the DVD’s presentation makes the most of the source video.

The concert provides relatively rare live performances of Zooropean classics like "Numb," "Lemon," and "Dirty Day." They’re songs that are underappreciated in the U2 canon; it was a terrific treat when the band pulled "Zoo Station" out of mothballs during the Vertigo Tour.

Ah, "Zoo Station." Bono’s entrance at the start of Zoo TV is in itself a splendid salute to excess and symbolism. Backlit by the flag of the European Union then TV static, Bono stumbles around in a faux drunken stupor then moves into a full-blown swagger. From there, the show becomes an unstoppable juggernaut that mixes mass media and technology with the very heart and soul of U2—the tunes.

Disc 2 includes four worthwhile bonus tracks in terms of documenting the sheer madness of the tour. No one performance can capture all the insanity, so it’s great to see "Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World" (which incorporates a champagne montage of a bevy of ladies plucked from the floor to dance on stage with Bono) and "Desire" (featuring the aforementioned Mirrorball Man), both taken from the Yankee Stadium TV special. There are also alternate versions of "The Fly" and "Even Better Than the Real Thing," the latter includes Bono pointing out, on the eve of U2′s planned trip to Sellafield, how the visit’s cancellation by the powers that be only helped give Greenpeace more publicity than they otherwise ever would have garnered.

The bonus tracks are in two-channel stereo, but they also feel more raw and spontaneous, without the pressure of having to be "perfect" for a home video release.

If a complaint is to be made, it’s that too much is never enough. More bonus tracks would’ve been welcome.

I Want My Zoo TV

Also on view on Disc 2 are three short documentaries, "A Fistful of Zoo TV," Zoo TV—The Inside Story," and "Trabantland." As a whole, they provide a nice behind-the-scenes tour through the underbelly of the Zoo TV machine. It’s particularly hilarious to watch longtime U2 manager Paul McGuinness take on the aura of a BBC journalist as he investigates the materials used in making the original Trabants.

Wallpapers, screensavers and web links to some of U2′s favorite causes are on tap as DVD-ROM content.

Rounding out the set is a five-minute sampling from the Zoo TV Confessional. For those unfamiliar with the tour, there was a confession both where visitors could unload their most intimate secrets. Then some of those confessions would be broadcast over the Zoo TV airwaves. Long before "Survivor" and "Big Brother," U2 and ZooTV had the whole reality TV concept down pat.

As for the packaging, there’s a booklet that mimics the feel of the tour’s program; it’s a concept U2 have used in prior DVDs, including the "Vertigo Live from Chicago" set. This time, that feel extends to including stickers similar to those found in the original Zoo TV tour book. They’re clever, those Irishmen.

Overall, it’s an oddly delayed DVD set that does an excellent job of documenting a phenomenal, one-of-a-kind extravaganza. A must-have for hungry U2 fans and general music fans alike that enjoy and appreciate a stunning, thought-provoking and these-days-altogether-rare, utterly satisfying example of how it’s done.

Interview: Bob Ezrin, Producer, Music Rising Co-Founder

September 22, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

Bob Ezrin is an acclaimed music producer who’s gained nearly as much notice for his charity work as he has for his collaborations with an impressive list of artists that includes Pink Floyd. A lifelong lover of New Orleans’ music and culture, Ezrin was pushed into action by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and founded Music Rising, an instrument-replacement fund, with The Edge, Marty Albertson of Guitar Center and Henry Juszkiewicz of Gibson Guitars last fall.

This may be the organization’s busiest month to date. A second Music Rising guitar recently went on sale and this Monday U2 and Green Day will hit the stage during "Monday Night Football’s" return to the Superdome, performing The Skids’ "The Saints Are Coming," a song the two bands recently recorded to benefit Music Rising.

In the midst of a hectic day just before Hurricane Katrina’s one-year anniversary, Bob Ezrin spoke to from his Toronto office about Music Rising, the Gulf Coast and why The Edge is one of his favorite people.

What first got you interested in the region of New Orleans and its music and culture?

My uncle was one of the largest jazz collectors in Canada and had a huge record collection with a tremendous amount of stuff that came out of New Orleans and used to play Dixieland and Second Line for me and I had it in my imagination. I created a picture in my head of what New Orleans was based on the music that I heard and it was this kind of magical, colorful, partying place. I’d seen some pictures as well of Mardi Gras, so I put it all together and to me New Orleans was like Disneyland for jazz, so that was my first exposure as a child. Then as I grew up and I got the know the music more intimately, obviously I got a more realistic picture but the more I learned, the more I loved the kind of blending of West African and Arcadian and European and uniquely North American musical influences to create this rich tapestry, multi-colored, multi-layered, multi-leveled tapestry of music that came out of that region.

Later, as a young producer, I had the privilege of producing Dr, John and though at that point I had not been to New Orleans yet, we create a very New Orleans-style album with a bunch of players from back home and Dr. John had a lot of gris gris in a general sense, the whole project was sort of steeped in New Orleanian hoodoo and we ended up performing the album that we made live for the musicians that were going to participate the night after in the very first American Music Awards in Los Angeles, it might even have been the People’s Choice Awards, I’m not sure, but the year would have been ’76 or ’77, somewhere around there. We performed it live out of Cherokee Studios and for the one night we turned Cherokee into Willie Purple’s club, from Lafayette, La., and we put a false front on the studio, we ended up with checkered tablecloths and serving crawfish and gumbo and put on Dr. John’s Rock & Rizzum Revue for stars as varied as Tommy Smothers and Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, some guys in The Temptations and all kinds of rock ‘n’ rollers, people who were there to participate in the awards show the night following. It was a magical evening. I thought for that night that I was in New Orleans.

Finally, I actually got to go there during Super Bowl 13, I think it was, right around the same time, and just had a wonderful, magical time there and got to know the city and the people and fell in love. Following that, I got to work with Nine Inch Nails a little bit and spent some more time in the city then. I’ve had this like indirect and almost fantasy relationship with New Orleans since I was a kid.

Going back a year, what were your memories of when Hurricane Katrina happened? Where were you? Were you stuck at the TV all the time? What was going through your head as that was happening?

I was in LA when Katrina struck. I was watching the pictures on television. I was as far removed from that weather as one could be but watching the TV and, like everyone else, at first shocked by the ferocity of the event and the extent of the damage and then very saddened for the residents and then, very shortly thereafter, completely outraged by the lack of effective response. It was impossible for me to understand how the most powerful country in the world could effectively overlook the loss of one of its major cities. I just couldn’t comprehend that and, in fact, to a certain extent, it continues to overlook it. If you turn on television today you can see Kelly and Regis and they’re having a great time, and all the soap operas go on and the evening news talks about the JonBenet murder suspect and so on, nobody talks about the Gulf, the Central Gulf Region, and when they do, they only talk about New Orleans, they never talk about Biloxi or the rest of the afflicted area. These people and their lives, their culture, their whole history has been wiped out and as a country we seem content to ignore that fact.

When did it first occur to you that you needed to do something to help?

Like right after. I’m a serial activist and I’m involved in whole bunch of other stuff. I have to credit Henry Juszkiewicz and Marty Albertson for starting this off. I was sitting there saying, "I must do something" but I hadn’t quite figured out what when I got a phone call from Marty, who is my dear friend, and he’s the CEO of Guitar Center, saying, "Henry Juszkiewicz and I are going to sell a million dollars worth of guitars to raise money for the musicians in New Orleans and we’d really like it to go to musical instruments. How do we do that? Can you help us to do that? We’re thinking that it would be great to distribute the instruments through the jazz festival. Can you help us to do that?" Of course, I was thrilled to be able to figure out a way to spend a million dollars in musical instruments for people who had lost everything, particularly since my greatest concern immediately after the disaster was what was going to happen to the culture of that place. We already saw what was happening to the people, to the infrastructure and the physical reality of it, but what was going to happen to their vital and essential culture? When these guys called, that was a great way to start to address that problem.

It was apparent immediately that Jazz Fest had their own problems and that they were probably not going to get off the ground for quite some months after because they had to deal with huge issues down there. It is a testament to Quint Davis that Jazz Fest happened and that it was as successful as it was, because it was really magnificent and this guy just performed a super-human task in taking an impossibility and making it a beautiful reality. We couldn’t do it with Jazz Fest and what I recommended, being a member of the board of governors of the LA chapter of NARAS, I suggested that we hook up with MusiCares, which I knew was already in the area and had already served many hundreds of musicians with living assistance and some cash, so they already had a list of musicians who had been wiped out and it would be a simple matter to go back to that list and say, "By the way, did you lose your instruments, too?" So that was a natural, MusiCares was set up for it, they have a great qualification process, they’re a very tightly run ship, and we made a deal with them to become the qualification and sort administrative arm of our new initiative to put out this million dollars worth of instruments.

Basically, immediately following that, I had lunch with The Edge in Toronto, I had lunch with a bunch of people and he was there, and both of us were saying, "It’s terrible. It’s a disaster. We need to do something." Of course I started to talk about some of what the Guitar Center and Gibson was doing and he said, "I’ve been wanting to do the same sort of thing," so I gave him my phone number fully expecting it to be just rock star small talk and he was on the phone to me two days later with a list of things that we were going to do, which I just loved, "We can call this one and we can talk to that one and we can put this together," and very shortly thereafter we formed our little core group and Caroline Galloway from Gibson named us Music Rising, way better name than anything Edge or I were able to come up, and there we were, we were born.

Music Rising became an initiative to replace the instruments that were lost in the Gulf Region during the two hurricanes and ensuing floods. We raised a bunch of money, MusiCares kicked in a lot of money and between us all we were able to, to date, help to put 2,000 musicians back on their feet by providing them with instruments and gear so that they could get out and work again.

What kind of reaction have you gotten personally from the musicians you’ve been able to help?

People don’t know my face, so I don’t get stopped in the street, but Edge did when we were there during Jazz Fest. People were coming up to us from all over and going up to Edge and saying, "Thank you, thank you so much." The reaction that we were getting that was most telling was people were thanking us who had nothing to do with the musical initiative just for caring and for being high profile and for keeping a light shining on the region, people were saying we were among the earliest of responders and were among the very few people who still cared and they were really thankful for the attention that we were bringing to the region in its continuing need.

That just sort of inspired us and energized us to think about what else we needed to do there, we couldn’t stop with just professional musicians. It was never our intention, anyway, to be exclusively about professional musicians, we were about the whole musical culture of the Gulf and, so, for us that starts in the churches and in the social aid and pleasure clubs and in the schools of the region, so we are now focusing our attention and our efforts on those. Clearly in the early days there were no churches and schools and stuff, they’re just now getting back up physically, so as they are prepared to receive, we are raising money to give instruments and equipment to them so that they can get their musical hearts back.

During Jazz Fest Edge did an interview with CNN where he mentioned that you guys were working on a documentary. Do you have any updates on that, when it might come out or where it might be shown?

The documentary is in the final stages of editing and I think it’s going on Canadian television and the end of September. [Ed. Note: The program is airing on CTV Sept. 23.]

Do you know when it might make it to the United States?

I don’t know.

Was Jazz Fest the last time that you were in New Orleans?


When do you plan on going back?

We’ll be back next month [September] for a very special event that we’re planning next month to kick off phase two.

What are you hoping that you’ll find there when you go back?

Well, that pre-supposes that I haven’t been talking to people and I don’t know what’s going on. I sort of already know what I’m going to find and it’s just to be very disappointing. The fact is that we’re a year on and there are, I think New Orleans only has 25 or 30 percent of its old population and that is obviously artificially inflated by the continuing presence of relief workers and government workers and that sort of thing.

There areas of the city where many people once lived that still look like the dark side of the moon and that are stuck in a kind of legal, institutional, governmental gridlock. It’s like a Chinese puzzle trying to figure out how to rehabilitate. First, it has to be determined whether they want to rehabilitate and someone has to decide on who has the right to decide that, it’s that simple. Who has the right to decide whether you can move back into your home or not? Then, being that public safety is governed by certain regulations, and being that prior to this flooding some areas were considered safe that we now know are not safe and therefore have to live by different regulations, it means that many, many, many houses, a huge percentage of houses that were in the flooded region, have to either be rebuilt to a different set of tolerances or they have raised physically, higher up in the air, so that they would be "safe." That’s fine except for who pays for that?

The fact is most of those areas were inhabited by poor people who are lucky to own the houses in the first place and do not have the capital to be able to go back in and do huge structural changes to their homes. Many of them don’t even have the capital to move back in. Insurance obviously didn’t cover what many people hoped it would and the insurance companies are winning the battle of flood versus wind. Many poor people are getting very little money for the loss of their home and possessions. There’s a huge problem in rehabilitating these areas and repopulating them. And the longer it goes on, the less likely it is that people will return because they’re growing new roots where they are, and as much as it really pains some people to the point of tears when they think of not going back "home" to their Gulf Coast roots, they have feed their families and they have to have shelter and they have to be able to create a future for themselves so they have to move on. That’s very sad, they move on and they take with them their history, their culture, their heart, their soul and the place is forever changed because of that.

What do you think our readers can do, not just as far as instruments, but in helping the people in the region in general?

At the risk of sounding self-serving, and I’m not trying to be that way because I’d really like to see more being done in the region, there’s a lot of controversy about a number of the charities that are operating, and, honestly, I’m not an expert on which ones work and which ones don’t work, I just know that we work, and so do a number of other people who have supported us and continue to support us, including President Clinton and members of some very prominent American families and leaders of business. We’re very simple, we have no politics and we have virtually no overhead, we just collect money and put it into instruments that we give to people who have lost them. If they want to do something musical, is a really good way to go, for now.

If they want to do something other than musical, if you go online and check out the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, that they may have information on organizations that they’re working with, and I know from having done some work with them that they are incredibly thorough and diligent about who they select to work with.

So, if it were me and I was starting from scratch, I would go on their website and see if there was a list of charities that they were partnering with in the region and I’d kind of start there because you know at least those people have gone through a very rigorous vetting procedure.

What’s next for Music Rising?

What’s next for Music Rising is the kick off of phase two. As I said, we’re going to have a really special event in September and will be announcing that very soon. That will be to kick off our initiative for churches and schools and we’re going to do a celebrity guitar (and musical instruments) auction for the coming months into next year, where we’ll be raising money through the auction. Also, there will be other money-raising events and occurrences and, like I said, that stuff will be coming out really soon.

The most important thing is that not only have we not lost interest, I’d say we’re actually more aggressive and active now than we’ve ever been in trying to get some things going for the Central Gulf Region and for the good people who live there. They are our brothers and sisters and I’d like to think that if we were in a similar situation that they’d reach out and help us, too.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about Music Rising?

Let me tell you a little bit about my partner, The Edge. A lot of celebrities will find something, lend their name to it, do a couple of public service announcements, show up at the occasional high-profile event and consider themselves to be incredibly charitable. The Edge has been involved in every single step of this process, not just the decision-making but also the implementation. He’s rolled his sleeves up, he was there in New Orleans before I got there, he was there in November of last year and did his tour and then I got there in December.

So many of the ideas that we have come from him and he’s leveraged his celebrity in the humblest and most business-like way. I’m daily impressed with this guy, at his commitment, his sense of service, his understanding of his responsibility to his brothers and sister, and just his essential innate goodness. He is a truly good man.

I’d like to say that the best part of this whole process for me has been getting to know him and work with him this closely and I have to say in a very short period of time he has become one of my favorite people in the entire world.

That’s so good to know and it’s really exciting to work for Interference and be able to talk with people who are working with the members of U2 and get to know all their charities. That’s the kind of thing we hear over and over again and it’s great to be a fan of a person and organization that is of that level.

That has heart, has soul and incredible honesty, too. That’s another thing that I’m so impressed with him is that he’s not only honest in business, he’s honest with himself, which is a rare quality in a star of any sort. I find that true of all the guys in the band, they’re amazingly honest and healthy.

What your fans can do, because it’s a U2-oriented thing, obviously the shirts are really important. We’re making a new guitar, we’re going to make an Epiphone Music Rising guitar, all the money from which is going into phase two. That guitar will be sold through Musician’s Friend online.

The other thing that your fans can do, too, is because we’re dealing with churches and schools here, I urge people to think about how they can go to their own churches and their own schools and talk to people there to try to organize initiatives and events. Whether it’s something as simple as a bake sale or as complex as a full-on charity drive every little bit helps and the people of the Gulf Coast need it all, they do. Whether it goes back to us for musical instruments or it goes to some organizations like ACT, which is All Congregations Together, which I know is a good organization down there, to help out with churches, or goes into the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund or some other place, it doesn’t matter, it’s all needed, it is all needed and it’s desperately needed. This is a prime example of where people have to be their own government here, we cannot wait around for somebody else to solve this problem, we the people have to solve it ourselves.

[bI know that our readers, ever since this Music Rising has been announced, have wanted to get involved. They’ve been very excited to help out with this organization.[/b

I think I can safely say the first one to raise a million dollars, we could probably arrange a personal performance in their living room.

Maybe a group of people will get together if they can get The Edge at their house.

I can’t promise but I think they would have a good shot.

Many thanks to Bob Ezrin, Anna Taylor and Caroline Galloway for all of their help with this article!

Review: Aimee Mann at the Melting Point, Athens, Ga., Sept. 19, 2006*

September 21, 2006

By Jodie White

Coming off her appearance at the Austin City Limits music festival only days ago, the intimate Melting Point club on September 19th must have felt like a different world to singer-songwriter Aimee Mann. And yet, it is in this more personal setting that she truly comes into her element. Accompanied only by longtime bassist Paul Bryan and pianist Jamie Edwards, Mann put on a breathtaking show during her first ever stop in Athens, Ga.

In this tiny venue, on an even tinier stage that barely left room for a grand piano, she immediately seemed at ease with the audience. After making a joke about her "risqué" top that nearly revealed "the most boring bra on the planet," she launched into a solo acoustic rendition of “High on Sunday 51,” off her 2002 release “Lost in Space.” Bryan and Edwards joined in for "Goodbye Caroline" and "You’re With Stupid Now," two songs recorded 10 years apart, and yet equally as powerful and well-received, a testament to her well-earned longevity.

Early in the set, Mann considered her set list and announced to a thrilled audience that she didn’t feel like sticking to it tonight. Almost at once, she was greeted with a storm of enthusiastic song requests, from which she chose first to play a well-rehearsed and tight "Red Vines," a melancholy fan favorite from 2000′s “Bachelor No. 2.” More surprises were in store as a new, untitled song was followed by a cover of Harry Nilsson’s "One." Mann and her band were all smiles as they extended the instrumental section at the end of the beloved song. As for many songs throughout the evening, Edwards was on piano and once again proved himself as a truly outstanding accompanist. More requests followed; after moving through a forceful rendition of "Humpty Dumpty" with ease, a particularly adamant fan insisted she play "Beautiful," the closing track to 2005′s “The Forgotten Arm,” and possibly the closest Mann has yet come to a simple love song. Although she admitted they hadn’t rehearsed the track in awhile, Bryan teased her, asking if she "had the stones" to attempt the song. After stumbling through the first verse and chorus, Mann ended the song with a grin and proclaimed, "Thank you everyone … Beautiful," to appreciative laughter, and promised only to play songs they knew for the rest of the night.

True to her word, the band delivered riveting performances of "Video," "Little Bombs" and "Today’s the Day" (another fan request). Mann and her cohorts never seemed to get lazy with any aspect of the music; one was continuously amazed by the clarity and force of her emotive vocals, Bryan’s flawless bass lines, and the way in which her acoustic guitar perfectly complimented Edwards’ arresting piano. There’s a reason Mann has extended this acoustic tour as much as she has—this stuff works.

Keeping things interesting, Mann took a seat at the piano and performed another new song, this one a gorgeous track entitled "Medicine Wheel." Showing her remarkable versatility, she also picked up a bass later in the show for a moving rendition of the delicately sad "You Do." Perhaps the highlight of the evening followed, as the audience experienced a breathtaking and flawless performance of the heartbreaking "Wise Up," from the “Magnolia” soundtrack. She smiled as she introduced her most famous song, "Save Me", also from “Magnolia,” as one she’ll always remember as "the song that lost the Oscar to Phil Collins and his cartoon monkey love song" to much laughter. As it drew to a close, she thanked the audience over and over for a wonderful night and exited the stage to enthusiastic applause and a standing crowd. Unsurprisingly, they were back shortly, grinning as they once again took the stage. Incredibly, it was request time once again, Mann playing two gems from her debut solo album, “Whatever,” "4th of July" and "I’ve Had It." As expected, the show ended on a climatic note with the always wonderful "Deathly," with Edwards on piano doing an outstanding interpretation of that famous guitar solo. The crowd clapped in time as the three jammed at the end of the song, all smiles; they had to know what a special show they’d just put on. Finally, the song drew to a close, and after many gracious thanks Mann, Bryan, and Edwards left to ravenous applause that followed for quite some time behind them.

One of the most overlooked and underappreciated artists writing today, Aimee Mann has never sounded better than on her current acoustic tour. If you haven’t seen her yet, don’t miss your chance to catch one of her North American dates this fall. Look for her Christmas album later this year as well.

For information on tour dates, Mann’s music and more, visit her official website.

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