Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 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 Constantine Maroulis does.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Quick Spins, Phil Vassar

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washingtonpost.com: A Watered-Down Lineup; For Bands, It Paid to Play Early at Rain-Shortened Earth Day Concert on the Mall

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J. Freedom du Lac: Bob Dylan at Virgin Festival? Huh.

Let's shall, shall we?

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Bethesda, Md.: How about some songs for the wizards?

Dylan - Desolation Row

Elliott Smith - Miss Misery

Spoon - Everything Hits at Once

Pavement - Rattled by the Rush

LCD Soundsystem - Yr City's a Sucker

J. Freedom du Lac: Or, Mambo Sauce's "Welcome to D.C." in which the "D" stands for deflated, defeated and, um, one-and-done.

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Arlington, Va.: Why you make fun of hippys, you hippy?

J. Freedom du Lac: I wasn't making fun of hippies; I was making fun of stoner college kids. Just because they spark up and listen to Umphrey's McGee doesn't mean they're hippies. Hippies, eg, generally don't shop at Abercrombie and Fitch.

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Across the Border: I know a lot of people have been talking about Sandy or Spirit or some of the bigger rock numbers, but this has been one of my favorite Phantom moments ever since I first saw it, from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

J. Freedom du Lac: Gorgeous stuff. We're lucky that we got to see Federici with the E Streeters last year.

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Washington, D.C.: Re: Green Apple Festival. Why didn't Peter Shapiro decide to wait out the electrical storm as he had done previously earlier in the afternoon instead of pulling the plug hours before the scheduled 7PM end? We had already had a 40+ minute pause in the concert, so why didn't they do this again, when you had so many headline acts still to play? Missing Toots, Thievery, & the Roots was a major downer after enduring Blake Lewis' beat boxing, Thomas Friedman's never-ending speech (I can't believe he actually told Toots to "cool it" during their sound check!), and the day-long down pour. Any insight from what you were able to gather backstage would be appreciated! Thank you.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure what the deciding factors were. Major downer, indeed. Peter was really bummed, as you might imagine. (He said as much, like, 15 times backstage.) Ironically, about 10 minutes after the show was called, the weather broke and the sun started to push through the clouds. You should've seen the look on Peter's face.

I really wanted to see Toots. And I was very curious to see what the Roots were going to do. Warren Haynes told me that he'd planned on joining them for a song or two. Doug E. Fresh was also supposed to be there with them, among others.

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Forestville, Md.: Have you heard anything about the Gil Scott-Heron show at the 9:30 Club last Saturday?

J. Freedom du Lac: No.

Anyone?

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Herndon, Va:. I'm looking forward to two WolfTrappers this summer -- Los Lobos and Mark Knopfler. What do you think? I know Los Lonely Boys cant hold a candle to Hidalgo and team, but somehow they got top billing.

J. Freedom du Lac: They move more units - and sell more tickets. Sad but true. I will say that Los Lonely Boys do pretty well on Phil Vassar's new album, joining him for a lively little quasi-zydeco tune by the name of "Why Don't Ya." It's pretty good stuff.

Agree with you re Knopfler. Also want to see Al Green, who didn't miss a single note during his 9:30 club show a couple-few years ago. Errr...Gretchen Wilson. (Really.) The Backstreet Boys. (Not really.) I would be looking forward to Ricky Skaggs in June, but I'll be at the beach all that week.

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Portishead: Are they still any good? It's been a while.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. Different but good.

You can hear a song off the new album here. There are many others on the internets, too, if you really feel like looking.

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... and whatever it is that Constantine Maroulis does. : This is better than Britney.

J. Freedom du Lac: The line is better than Britney, or Constantine's singing etc is better than Britney's?

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Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: J Free, any word yet on whether 2 Skinnee J's will be coming to DC as part of their reunion tour? Any chance we'd get to see your -butt] smacked by Stumpy on stage?

J. Freedom du Lac: Dunno - and, um, no.

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The Mall: Warren Haynes solo was pretty cool. I'd heard him cover "One" before, but wasn't expecting a moving version of the Eagles' "Wasted Time", thought that was his best tune.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, he done well. He has a pretty fine voice - so soulful and world-weary - and, obviously, he can play a little bit. There was something utterly entrancing about his guitar work on "Wasted Time." He and that Les Paul have a thing.

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Baltimore, Md.: OK, this might be more of a question for producer David, but which of the (approximately) 25,000 albums the Fall have released would be a good entry point for a novice? I've read about them but have never heard them and wish to fix that situation. Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: Probably "Hex Enduction Hour." If you want something a bit less harsh and more pop/80s sounding then "The Wonderful Frightening World of the Fall." "Grotesque" is my favorite, but start with those others first.

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Hey.: You all think you are so much better than Britney, but the possibility exists that you are not that much better than she is.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's true, but it's a slim possibility. Put me with the right producers and songwriters and videographers and choreographers and wardrobe consultants and trainers and such and I'd totally have her. Except for the crazy part. And the pop-tart thing, too, I guess.

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Leesburg, Va.: If you had to choose a theme song for Sen. Clinton's campaign from the New Kids on The Block catalogue, what would it be? I'm torn between "Hangin' Tough" and "The Right Stuff".

J. Freedom du Lac:"Stop It Girl."

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Chicago, Ill.: J. Free,

Any thoughts on Akon's con job, as documented by the Smoking Gun?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yep. I'm glad that I didn't completely believe dude's backstory when I wrote about him last year. It's just too bad I didn't connect all the dots the way The Smoking Gun did.

Sez TSG: "With the single exception of a Washington Post reporter who wrote last March that some of the 'bullet points in Akon's biography" sounded "like the stuff of creation myth,' entertainment journalists have played right into the manipulation."

Yay me.

I actually smelled something stinky and was trying to report some of that stuff out but ran out of time before the story was scheduled to go. One thing that I gleaned but didn't report because I couldn't get solid confirmation was that it seemed unlikely that Akon ever received a basketball scholarship from Georgia Tech, as he'd claimed all these years. He says that they rescinded the scholarship when he got into legal trouble. But when I called the Tech athletic department and spoke with the sports information director who has worked closely with the hoops team for years, he said he didn't recognize Akon's given name - and noted that he remembered every scholarship player they ever had through and would certainly remember a story about a student who lost a full ride after running afoul of the law. But there were no handy records to consult and deadline loomed. Alas.

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Pop-tart thing: I dunno - Weingarten says no one at the Post rocks hotpants like you do.

J. Freedom du Lac: This is true.

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Westerly, R.I.: Wait - the 2 Skinnee Js? I thought they were lawyers or something. They can't really be still doing whatever it is they do. If they truly are, please don't tell my husband or we'll have to go. It'll be just like college all over again. Next thing you know I'll be sitting in the basement drinking warm Jim Beam.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nerds of the hip-hop world, (re)unite!

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: I want to get the new Elvis Costello, but I don't think I have the high-tech extra-large cd player necessary to listen to it.

J. Freedom du Lac: I know, it's kind of annoying. Vinyl? Pshaw. Wake me when I can put the album on my iPod with minimal effort.

The most fascinating thing about the album, to me, is the name, "Momofuku" -- given that I'm a devotee of David Chang's Momofuku restaurants in New York. Chang is a total rock star. (Northern Virginia dude, too.) Unclear whether Declan named the album after the three Momofukus, but if he's looking for a way in to the tiny new Momofuku Ko, he's just found it.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Re: your comparison with Britney. I served with K-Fed at a Baja Fresh in the late 1990s. K-Fed was a friend of mine. Your wife, sir, is no K-Fed

J. Freedom du Lac: Correct. She wouldn't know a " PopoZao" if it hit her upside the head. Thank god.

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Hillary's Campaign Song:"Dude Looks Like a Lady"

J. Freedom du Lac: Wrong band. A cynic (or an Obama backer) might say that the best Aerosmith song for Clinton would be "Same Old Song and Dance." But this is a politically neutral chat, so...

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Need to Know: Two questions:

Who will win tonight's Caps game and are you going to arrange an interview with Robert Plant and Allison Krauss when they visit Columbia in mid June?

Rock on.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, somebody's gotta win in Washington this spring, and since it probably won't be the Wiz - and since the Nats aren't anywhere close to being That Team - I'm going to say the Caps. They have the big mo, and the Big O. Plus, they're playing Journey in the locker room, according to Friend of Freedom Rock, Dan Steinberg.

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The end of the E Street Band?: J. Free: Why does Danny Federici's death seem like the beginning of the end of something? As a longtime fan, it just feels like it will never be the same even though he was perhaps the most low-key member of the band.

Also, I've seen references to Clarence Clemons and poor health. Is he suffering from something in particular other than many years on the road?

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably because he seemed less like a cog than the grease that kept the ESB's wheels turning smoothly. Plus, he was symbolic of the sort of selflessness that's always made Springsteen and friends so compelling to so many people.

Clarence's knees or hips are giving him fits

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Down in Jungle Land: How will Danny F.'s passing affect Mr. Springsteens future playing? And I am not talking about the Washington, D.C. area.

J. Freedom du Lac: Hard to say. The reports from the road were pretty positive while he was seeking treatment, right? But it's probably a different deal with Federici gone for good. Could have a lasting psychological impact on Bruce and the ESB - and possibly an artistic one, too. But how can you predict it?

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Everybody Wants Some: Have you stopped partying with Eddie Van Halen? I think this Van Halen tour is the lamest of the lamest reunion money grabbing tours of all time.

J. Freedom du Lac: Lamer than the 2 Skinnee J's?

Wake me up when the Young Black Teenagers reunite.

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Plus, they're playing Journey in the locker room, : Which makes them losers, actually.

J. Freedom du Lac: Dude, it's hockey. The sport of Camaros and mullets. It fits.

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New Kids Clinton Campaign Song: Girl, I'll Totally Nuke Iran 4 U, Girl.

It was a b-side.

J. Freedom du Lac: Now, now....

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Reston, Va.: Okay, so now that I'm trying to get that hot pants image out of my head...

Are we getting anything more on James McMurtry besides the Quick Spins review, since you raved about the new CD?

Also, a must-listen by him is "Choctaw Bingo." I actually have Ray Wylie Hubbard's version, which is awesome. Great, rocking tune and I feel hungover and wasted just from listening to the lyrics.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, you will be getting more on McMurtry. Don't rush me. You aren't my editor!

In the meantime, this is required listening/viewing. Nothing you haven't heard if you're already a James McMurtry fan, but still worth revisiting.

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Reunion Tours: Speakin' of, the New Kids are reuniting. No word on whether they will change their name ("Middle Age Dads on the Block"?), or play Hillary's theme song...

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, a new album and a tour.

NKOTZzzzzzzzzzzz.

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Earth Day: How bad was it?

J. Freedom du Lac: So bad that I had to take a river taxi home. (Seriously, the cabbie thought he was driving the USS Chitty Bang Bang or something. Drove right into a lake on Pennsylvania. Sweet.)

I'll put it this way: Reading the wrap-up email from the festival publicist today, I actually wished I'd been in Golden Gate Park instead, for this...

"Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Mass Drum troupe of leading African, Cuban and Brazilian drummers was enhanced by Jon Fishman (Phish) and Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and made for an unforgettable mash-up with Joan Baez, Bob Weir, Tommy Lee when they performed an impromptu version of 'Not Fade Away.'"

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Anonymous: The beginning of the end of E Street probably occurred during that meeting in 1983/84 when Jon Landau and Springsteen dedicated themselves to selling 10 million (to start) copies of Born in the USA and releasing 7 singles from the album. I don't begrudge anyone the right to make money (not Hillary Clinton or Springsteen) but the quality of Springsteen's music never recovered. Say what you will, the first 5 Springsteen albums were never equalled.

J. Freedom du Lac: So you're saying everything great that's happened since then is merely a dead-cat bounce? I'm not buying it. The early run was, indeed, incredible, but you can't just write off the last 25 years.

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I'd prefer Backstreet Boys for a Clinton campaign song: Get Down (We're Under Sniper Fire)

J. Freedom du Lac: Now, now (the sequel)....

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Allison Krauss: She's popular and well-respected by lots of fellow musicians and critics. So why do I find her really boring, no matter what she does? What's wrong with me?

J. Freedom du Lac: You probably just don't like bluegrass. That has to be it.

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Arizona Bay, Ariz.: Just wanted to give everyone a heads up and suggest that they go check out Tom Morello's "Nightwatchman" solo project and Axis of Justice tour when he comes to D.C.

I saw the show last week out here in Hollywood and it was off the chart. Here's a list of musical guests that performed on stage with him:

Pete Yorn, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stewart Copeland, Jerry Cantrell, Steve Vai, Wayne Kramer, State Radio, Travis Barker, Flea, Slash, Davey Havok, and Cypress Hill. Also I shouldn't forget some band that had Breckin Meyer as their drummer (yes the actor guy from Clueless, Go!, and Road Trip)

It was easily one of the 5 best shows I've ever been (yes, even better than some Tool shows, some not all). The highlights for me were Jerry Cantrell, Tom Morello, and some others performing Alice In Chains' "Brother" but what really took the cake was seeing Cypress Hill, Tom Morello, Slash, Travis Barker, and Flea all perform "How I Could Just Kill A Man."

Word on the street too is that Maynard James Keenan (yes of Tool) is even scheduled to perform on the Axis of Justice tour at some point. I would definitely suggest everyone go check it out. Tickets are only like $10.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up, from their favorite Freedom Rock poster.

P.S. Tool is still the best band ever.

J. Freedom du Lac: Our old friend, checking in from the great beyond.

There's no way that the tour brings that much firepower from city to city. That's an LA- or NY-only kind of lineup.

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Springsteen's future playing: Well, we'll find out tonight, won't we? It's the first show back, in Tampa.

I would have said Garry Tallent is the most low-key member of the band. In fact, he's so low-key that the other poster completely forgot about him and how low key he is.

J. Freedom du Lac: Should be a special show.

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Baltimore, MD: Hey there,

As we speak (er, write) www.yahoo.com's homepage has an article about the "most annoying singers ever." I haven't read it yet, but based on the accompanying pictures of Celine Dion and Michael Bolton, they've at least got two great, though onvious, choices.

Any further nominees?

J. Freedom du Lac: James Blunt.

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Re: Alison Krauss: Unlike the first caller, I like the bluegrass stuff fine. It's the "When You Say Nothing at All" adult-contemporary garbage that puts ME to sleep.

J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David's line about Miz Krauss is pretty good: "She keeps putting out albums and I keep having Mother's Day presents."

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Severna Park, Md.: Gil Scott Heron totally rocked. He played all the hits.

J. Freedom du Lac: A nice, concise review.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Even Dylan won't get this hard-core Zimmy fan out to a steaming horse race track. Any info on a Replacements appearance at this V Fest. Billboard claims offers for Chinchilla and other fests for the Replacements. Although, that still will not get me out for Jack Johnson and Friends. A trashed Mats to nip this so called Fest and reunited bands that were never supported in the first place (not talking STP) revival does sound appealing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard about the Mats coming back for this one - but the lineup still isn't finalized, so who knows.

I love the idea of Dylan, Kanye West and Trent Reznor sharing a bill. Totally perverse.

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Union Station: If Alison Krauss and Jack Johnson had a baby, would it ever wake up?

J. Freedom du Lac: Only when somebody stepped on Dave Matthews' foot.

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most annoying singers ever: Mick Jagger.

J. Freedom du Lac: You're not down with the inter-continental bray? Come on.

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Boyz II Men's Hillary Theme Song:"It's So Hard to Say Goodbye"

J. Freedom du Lac: Nice.

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Help a White Girl Out: Two questions:

1. Is it my imagination, or is "The Evolution of Robin Thicke" an extraordinary album?

2. I realized last weekend I have CDs by white male R&B singers (JT and R. Thicke) and by black female artists (Mary Mary), but not a single CD by a contemporary black male R&B singer. I don't have a LOT of any R&B, but based on my tastes above, can you recommend someone I might like?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think it's very good. Extraordinary? Nah.

He has a new one coming out this summer, by the way. And he'll no doubt be back in DC to promote it, since this market made him.

As for your second question, these might be a little too classically styled for your tastes, but I'd suggest that you check out Rahsaan Patterson's "Wines and Spirits"

and "This Is Ryan Shaw."

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sign of the apocalypse?: Apparently, Maynard James Keenan is a blogger for Wine Spectator.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's just crazy talk.

But yeah, it's true. The man loves fermented grape juice. Go figure.

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Baltimore, Md.: Saw Shine a Light last weekend. And while I have to admire the Stones for their longevity and amazing energy level, when Buddy Guy came on and played straight ahead, stinging Chicago style guitar and sang like a 20 year old, I was sitting there saying, "Oh yeah, right. This is the actual blues."

J. Freedom du Lac: He pretty much killed it at that show. But the Stones aren't pretending to be a straight-ahead blues band. Apples to Asian pears.

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RE: Alison Krauss:"She keeps putting out albums and I keep having Mother's Day presents."

No, no, that's Jim Brickman, silly...

J. Freedom du Lac: Jim Brickman said that? Weird.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. Same time, same channel next week.

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Help a Black Dude Out: Can you recommend any white, male singers I might like? I don't have any in my collection. Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, sure. Try Ris Paul Ric.

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