Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 18, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that Britney Spears does.

The transcript follows.

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J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David went deep into the no-sleep zone of South By Southwest last week, and all he got was a lousy Monday off.
Of course, my punishment for not going to Austin this year included having to sit through Mariah Carey's "Saturday Night Live" set. I liked her well enough when she performed here in 2006. But on TV? Meh.
Let's shall, shall we?

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Silver Spring, Md.: Allison Stewart calls Iggy and the Stooges at the RRHOF "ten kinds of wrong." Wow, they were fifty kinds of right. From beginning to end, it was the only thing besides Leonard Cohen's acceptance speech that's been worth watching in that ceremony since Prince played "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" a couple of years ago. I guess John Mellencamp's hair plugs and continued post-heart attack cigarette smoking and Dave Clark's costume shop eye brows were easier for her to look at than Iggy.

J. Freedom du Lac: s I'm thinking that maybe she prefers to see Madonna performing in lace or silk or vinyl or whatever. Iggy is all leather. Pretty engrossing stuff though, no? I'm just happy to see that she got "sepulchrally funny" into the paper.

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Hey!!: Can we have an online vote for Producer David's punishment for punking out on the Bo Bice assignment. You can't just reject The Will of The Peoples like that and get away scott free!

J. Freedom du Lac: That's what I'm saying. On the other hand, he did have a pretty good excuse: He'd gone to see REM at a venue that was a bit of a haul from the club where Bo Bice was playing. And given the end time of REM's set, he just couldn't have gotten there. Not even with a helicopter. (Which wasn't in the budget.) If/when Bo Bice comes through DC, though, Malitz is totally there.

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Chattering Fixed: I wrote in last week to vent at the talkers at the Pogues gig. Well I went to Tuesday's Justice show (what can I say, I'm a Renaissance person) at the 9:30 Club and I noticed that they had a solution. Turn up the volume to 11 and play straight through without any pauses, including a fair bit of distortion at the end.

What's that you say ... sorry, I can't hear you.

J. Freedom du Lac: Perfect, though you still don't have any control over the situation. Like, if you go to the Birchmere tonight and somebody does that during Peter Cooper's set, you're out of luck cuz he ain't cranking it up to 11. (Though people don't really talk through the performances at the Birch, do they?)

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Chicago, Ill.: Jeez, as the head honcho at Freedom Rock Intergalactic, couldn't you farm out SNL duty?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's for a new blog feature I'm trying to figure out how to write. But don't worry - I get hazard pay.

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When Iggy Pop goes out to dinner: Does he wear a shirt ?

J. Freedom du Lac: Iggy Pop doesn't actually eat, does he?
Back in the lateish-90s, when he played SXSW, I found myself standing right next to him along the side of an outdoor stage as he got himself into show-time mode. This involved him shedding a shirt and then hopping around like a madman. I think he had (and still has) about minus-12 percent bodyfat. Gave him a wide berth, anyway.

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McLean, Va.: Bravo Lou Reed! Add his name to the growing list of musicians that are dissatisfied with the dismal state of inferior modern recording and sound reproduction. This digital and mp3 crap has got to go! Anyway, my question: what can we expect from Mr. Reed at his upcoming 9:30 show? Rock'n'roll? Spoken word? A little of both?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure what he has planned for the club show. Anyone?
Meanwhile, when I was at Scott Shuman's studio in Falls Church for my story on Scott and Henry Townsend, Scott was showing off his Studer A-80 MK II, a sweet 24-track tape recorder. Doesn't use it much anymore, though he occasionally records on it and then transfers immediately to ProTools while the tape is still hot. I'd love to see (and hear) that sometime.

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Washington, D.C.: Why didn't you go down to Austin?

J. Freedom du Lac: Wasn't room for me in the city what with a kajillion writers heading down there. Too many journos, not enough stories, etc.

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Don Rocketh: Monsieur du Lac,

How to play catch-up with our city's contemporary music scene as a recent transport from the mesozoic era -- someone who has been out of the swing of things for a while?

Cheers!

P.S. I don't like anything written after 1800.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sorry, my local music knowledge doesn't go back that far. Anybody know of any contemporary bands that do, like, electronica covers of Handel?

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Can we have an online vote for Producer David's punishment for punking out on the Bo Bice assignment.: And the punishment shall be... going to the next show by Constantine Maroulis.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oof.
It'd be a popular post, though. Constantine is good for comments-section business.

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Washington, D.C.: Hiya J:

While I enjoyed Producer David's haiku reviews of SXSW shows, I am wondering if you will be doing your review of the upcoming Jah Works show in iambic pentameter? Nothing says critical acclaim like Shakespearean meter.

J. Freedom du Lac: I was going to, actually. But management decided that we should hold off on that until Gene Weingarten guest-blogs about music on Post Rock.

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Mesozoic Music: Wasn't that mostly drums ? He might like go-go then.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes! Or maybe Dinosaur Jr.

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Must See Shows This Summer: Mine: Iron Maiden at Merriweather

Rush at Nissan

Robert Plant and Allison Krause at Merriweather

RTF at Merriweather

Black Crowes at Wolf Trap

and maybe Mark Knopfler at Wolf Trap

Yours?

J. Freedom du Lac: Way too early for me to put together my own list. Ask again in late April/early May.

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Baltimore, Md.: Talking through performances at the Birchmere: No, people don't talk through them, because management makes it clear that you are supposed to SHUT UP and listen to music. If you don't, those around you will enforce it, as will the performers. The Birchmere is really the descendant of the great DC clubs of the 60s and 70s such as The Shadows and The Cellar Door where, no matter how boozed up you got, you didn't talk because you knew you would be tossed out in the alley if you did. Them's was the days!

J. Freedom du Lac: Well there you go. How about starting an online petition to get SHUT UP AND LISTEN signs posted around the 9:30? You start it and I'll link it.

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Real Journalist question: What's your take on the LA Times story about Diddy's people doin Tupac ?

J. Freedom du Lac: Thought it was interesting, though the timing was sorta strange. Why were they digging around on that story now, 14 years after the fact? Then again, I did read the whole thing. Twice. And we're talking about it today. So....
Didn't necessarily love the way some of the sourcing was reported (or not reported), though I can't imagine they'd have run the piece if they didn't think they were on terra firma with what they were publishing.

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Washington, D.C.: Any news on when we can expect a V Fest lineup? There's a lot of news out there about other festivals, not sure what they're thinking as far as competition.

Is V Fest lagging behind because they're going to trump them all with something crazy?

J. Freedom du Lac: Figure they'll release the names of some of the bigger acts soon, following last year's schedule. The Police, Smashing Pumpkins and Beastie Boys were announced in March. The full lineup came out in late April.

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talking at the Birchmere: There's a sign on every table that states the house policy, which is no talking while the artist is on stage. If only other venues would do the same - I didn't pay to get into the show to hear about people's hair, or how drunk they got last night, or where they're going on vacation. STFU and listen to the bands, people.

J. Freedom du Lac: No tables at the 9:30 club, but maybe the security peeps can wear the SHUT UP AND LISTEN message on their shirts. And Josh can get it tattooed.
Start the petition.

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Falls Church, Va.: God bless Lou Reed for being dissatisfied with the dismal state of inferior modern recording and sound reproduction! I know I can really only appreciate the subtle nuances and aural detail of his LP Metal Machine Music when I listen to it on a State-of-the-Art analog audio system!!

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, then, you'll probably be mortified to know that I have a super low-end set-up at home. I just always figured it'd be best that I listen to music in the same way that most people listen to it. Which is to say: On a crap system.

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Washington, D.C.: "I was going to, actually. But management decided that we should hold off on that until Gene Weingarten guest-blogs about music on Post Rock."

Methinks J Free is scared of seeming dull / The Post should hire a damn professional!

J. Freedom du Lac: It's not in our budget.

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Washington, D.C.: Tupac and Diddy: What will be interesting to see is whether Combs brings a suit for libel against the Times. Most multi-millionaire moguls would if they had been accused of, at the very least, involvement in event that led to a murder, if not the murder itself. I could see it breaking both ways--Combs might just keep silent and hope it fades away, or he might just decide that he has to sue for sake of his reputation.

J. Freedom du Lac: He's already issued a statement about the story. As has Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond. Both denied any involvement while blasting The LAT's reporting. Of course, anybody can issue a denial. A lawsuit would definitely take things to a different plane.

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Foofax, Va.: Seems like my iPod is all Foos, all the time lately. Things still looking good for them to headline one of the days at V Fest?

J. Freedom du Lac: So go the (radio-fueled) rumors. Didn't see anything on their tour itinerary to indicate otherwise, though - and the band's rep didn't say anything about the report being wrong when I mentioned it last month.

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Norfolk, Va.: Just want to thank you for pointing out here and elsewhere how good the B Lavette album was--I hesitated using Solomon Burke's comeback as reference but this was excellent --like a female Otis without the horns and instead Drive By Truckers. Really excellent and improves with repeated listens for me. When she sings about refusing to cross over--does she mean from blues to commercial soul or what?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure exactly what the label was trying to get her to do back in the day, but they completely derailed her career 35ish years ago when they shelved her album "Child of the Seventies." (It was finally released in 2000, as "Souvenirs." Worth seeking out.)
Solomon Burke has a new album coming out this spring, by the way. Absolutely can't wait to hear it.

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RE: On a crap system. : Thank you for living like the mere mortals the rest of us are. We do appreciate it.

J. Freedom du Lac: All I do is give (up luxuries).
I know it's a slightly ridiculous approach, and it's not intended to be insulting to anybody. But I really don't see the point in listening to music on a system like, say, the one Rick Rubin has at his place. It can pretty much make ANYTHING sound good. Or better, anyway. I'm not interested in giving bonus points just because I own a pair of Kharma speakers. (Not that I could afford them anyway. But, you know...)

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Falls Church, Va.: J-Free, Based on your response I'm guessing you've never heard Metal Machine Music, which is arguably the most unlistenable LP ever released by a major (or minor) record label...

J. Freedom du Lac: Slipped right past me. Probably because I've been up to my (bleeding) ears in Lou Reed rambling this past week. TWP music contributor Chris Klimek hired a lobbying firm to land him the Lou Reed review assignment, and they're pretty relentless.
Yes, it's horrible. So bad that even Lou Reed groupie Chris Klimek didn't bother buying the reissue.

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23112: I'll always rip or convert CD or high-bitrate recordings to 128kbps MP3, damn the quality issues, because that lets me take more music with me and my ears are not all that selective. I just don't like the snobbery and whining from the "audiophiles". I'd be willing to bet Lou Reed can't hear a normal talking voice in a crowded room.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's because he's not a mere mortal.

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REM==>Miffed: Is it true the REM cd is only about 32 minutes long? Isn't that super short?

Makes me sad, I want longer REM songs not shorter ones...but i'm a sucker and will still pay for the cd.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, it's tight and bright. (And leaked all over the internets now, too. So go the reports from the people who spend time looking for album leaks.) Could be good though. They're back in rock mode. I'd much rather have a half-hour blast of energy than a soporific 60ish-minute set.

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Re: Seems like my iPod is all Foos, all the time lately....: Need to take that sucker back to the store. I think it's broken.

J. Freedom du Lac: You went there. You really did.
By the by, I just that Rachel Ray is a Dave Grohl groupie. She basically says as much in the NYT videoblog thingy on her South By Southwest party.

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re: Not that I could afford them anyway. But, you know...: Aha! The real reason for the crap system is revealed.

J. Freedom du Lac: Right -- not in my budget.
Spent that money on wine instead. You can have your Ultrasound amp. I'm drinking Clos du Mesnil.

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Crap systems: You could do what web designers do, with all kinds of operating systems and monitors. Except you'd have all kinds of systems and speakers, and you'd report back on how stuff sounded on the various combinations. Then we'd really know you cared about each and every one of us.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah ... not in my time budget.
Speaking of which, I'm out of time. Gotta jump off and give a close listen to the new Erykah Badu album (on my lousy speakers) to see if it's as weirdly brilliant as I think it is.
Thanks, as always.

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