Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 6, 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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J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings from New Orleans, where I'm supposed to be on vacation. Wouldn't necessarily know it, though, given that I've filed a Post Rock dispatch on Jazzfest, interviewed Mike Mills and spent time with the Duffy album in the past day. And now, here I am, talking shop with you all. Not that this feels like work.

Wait, hang on. (Yes - an Abita Restoration Ale please.) Okay, then. Where were we?

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Odenton, Md.: I just read about Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves. I listened to a few songs and they are really good. He is like a more authentic Ryan Shaw. He is at DC9 tonight. Have you heard the album?

J. Freedom du Lac: Don't know that he sounds more authentic Ryan Shaw, but Paperboy is certainly in the same neighborhood. That 'hood being, like, Muscle Shoals circa 1965 or thereabouts.

Producer David turned me on to Reed and is, in fact, going to review the show.

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Washington, D.C.:

I saw Was (not Was) at the Rams Head on Saturday and therefore am considering going again tonight at the Birchmere. Are you going or have you heard about what great shows they're doing? They're no spring chickens either - Don Was is a genius.

J. Freedom du Lac: No, the Birch is a little far from Tchoupitoulas Street. Have heard very good things about the shows, though.

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Nashville, Tenn.: Apparently the mysterious new Elvis Costello contains Jenny Lewis ingredients. Is that cool with you or are you over that?

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, I'm definitely cool with that. Jenny Lewis is like bacon (or, if you prefer, Emmylou Harris): She makes everything better.

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Washington, D.C.: Can it be that the closest Stone Temple Pilots will come to DC this summer is the Virgin Music Fest in B'more? With all the random cities and town they're playing, I'm surprised and disappointed.

J. Freedom du Lac: If you're STP, would you rather play in front of, I don't know, 12,000ish at Merriweather (or Nissan) ... or a crowd that's potentially 3x as big at a festival?

Pilmico isn't that much farther from downtown DC than Merriweather.

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Wait, hang on. (Yes - an Abita Restoration Ale please.) : Uh huh. We all feel so bad for you having to work so hard on your vacation. Poor J. Free.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, you know, sitting in a hotel room and working on a laptop isn't exactly my ideal vacation. Maybe I should take the computer down to the pool.

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Anonymous: I see that Nicole Kidman is set to star in a new Dusty Springfield biopic. Aside from the fact that Kidman neither sings or looks like Springfield, what sort of youthful mystical experience (grisly death of sibling, Native American spell cast during cross-country trip), occurred in Springfield's life to pad a film about a singer that most Americans are familiar with through a duet with the Pet Shop Boys than Dusty in Memphis. Didn't Walk Hard kill the music biopic? Clearly we've reached the limit with Dusty Springfield. Who's next? Rick Springfield?

J. Freedom du Lac: Music biopics are usually boring and unnecessary. Thus, I don't really see the need for this particular one, nor do I have high hopes. I'd rather watch a biopic on Dusty Rhodes.

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Country fan, but confused: Dierks Bentley is releasing a greatest hits CD today, after releasing just 3 previous CDs. Seems like too soon to me - your thoughts?

J. Freedom du Lac: Clearly, $somebody in the Capitol Nashville marketing department - or was it the catalog division? - thought they $hould $trike while the iron was $till hot. Or before people stop buying albums entirely.

A hits collection after three albums is hardly unheard of, though. And, you know, in the singles-oriented genre of country, it's not such a bad idea, even though you can (presumably) get all of those same songs a la carte on iTunes.

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Working Vacation: I'm picturing you in some scummy motel, with a window air conditioner that barely works (with streamers blowing from it), a moldy shower with no water pressure, some peeling wallpaper, hunched over a laptop you can barely see to type on because the lighting is so dim. I hope the beer is cold!

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah, this one comes with an iPod dock. And Reggie Miller was staying here, too, for the Hornets-Spurs games. He just may be the only person on the planet who is skinnier than Producer David.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Have you ever had the fortune to speak with or interview Al Green? Because he's amazing. His new album is so great it makes me sing out loud with the windows open. And I just hope he's a nice person.

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny you'd ask. I've interviewed Rev. Green multiple times - most recently last week for a Sunday Style + Arts piece. We talked, among other things, about the songs he sings in the shower ... and, um, why animals make more sense than humans. (You just never know where an interview with Al Green might take you.)

The music on the new album sounds terrific. Questlove and James Poyser really brought it back to 1972. Love that they have Dap Kings on the album, too. Not sure yet how I feel about the vocal guests (John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, Anthony Hamilton).

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RE: music biopics: I don't remember where I saw it, but the 3 minute preview for the Austrian biopic of Falco parodied the whole genre better than 100 Walk Hards. It probably helps that I don't speak German.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like something that would be perfect for a musical version of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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Adams Morgan: Make sure to grab a po boy (Roast Beef) at Ignacious on Magazine Street. It's in Uptown. Great food. Plus, they serve your Abita in a brown paper sack!

J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe next time. Cochon tonight. Snug Harbor last night. We've also hit Mat and Naddie's (a great spot Uptown, near Tulane). Etc.

The food at Jazzfest is insanely good, by the way. This is not breaking news or anything. But worth noting.

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re: I'd rather watch a biopic on Dusty Rhodes.: Now you're talking - with John Goodman as the American Dream and Iggy Pop as Ric Flair?

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice casting. What about Billy Ray Cyrus as Tully Blanchard?

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Norfolk, Va.: So who are the intriguing acts down there this year--as I recall the after-hour concerts were really good too.

J. Freedom du Lac: Loved Ruthie Foster. The brass bands are always really interesting - Rebirth tore up the Congo Square stage. Pine Leaf Boys. Sonny Landreth's electric slide-guitar work sounded pretty remarkable from a distance (didn't actually make it over to his stage).

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I'd love to see any biopic: about any '80s pop musician. Do they still have huge hair? Are they still playing the keyboard guitar? What have they done since their synthesized one-hit wonder? Are they still touring in Europe? That's why we have VH-1, right? To answer these burning questions?

J. Freedom du Lac: That is, in fact, VH1's mission statement!

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Yet another memorable Springsteen concert moment (Anaheim, Calif.): Last month, I witnessed guitarist-extraordinaire Tom Morello joining Bruce and the E Street band on stage for "The Ghost of Tom Joad" at Anaheim's Honda Center (formerly, the Pond). If you watch/listen on Youtube, Morello has almost this Johnny Cash/folksy/metal sounding voice, keeping up verse-for-verse with The Boss. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, I've seen clips. Pretty great.

Anybody make it down to Charlottesville last week? How about a quick report?

Kind of off topic, but ... one of my favorite all-time covers is Rage Against the Machine doing NWA's "F--- Tha Police." They released a live 7-inch via the fan club many, many years ago and it was just great.

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: In the country idiom, greatest hits after 3 albums is the norm. These greatest hits albums supplant the original albums. You can probably order Reba McEntire's Greatest Hits Vol. 1-5 by now.

J. Freedom du Lac: Only one more album, then, before Carrie Underwood's hits collection! Yay. She's peering down over the French Quarter, by the way, from a big radio-station billboard. When I think New Orleans music, I definitely think Carrie Underwood. You?

Not every artist goes greatest-hits after three albums, by the way. Brad Paisley, who's racked up something like 10 #1 country singles so far and 18 total Top 10s, still hasn't done a hits collection.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Any clues from Mike Mills about R.E.M. songs from the '80s that the band will play on this year's tour? Also, any other amusing anecdotes that may not make your official interview write-up?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm publishing everything from the interview. Well, except for the part where he asked me if I was recording. (He wanted to know how slow or fast he should speak. These guys are real pros.) It's going to run in a Q&A format on Post Rock. We did talk a little bit about what they might be performing (they've already done songs like "Animal" and "Second Guessing" live this year), but I can't remember exactly what he said. I blame the Abita.

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Music biopics are usually boring and unnecessary: You take that back, buddy. The Def Leppard flick on VH-1 was gold. The drama, the tension...

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, sure - as comedy, there's a least a little bit of value.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I was premature in proclaiming the death of the musical biopic. I was clearly unaware that there is a Falco biopic with Grace Jones in a lead role - Falco: Verdammt, Wir Leben Noch! Thanks to your reader for the reference.

J. Freedom du Lac: We're all about the public-service "journalism."

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Alex, Va.: Went to Jazzfest last yr and had the greatest musical time of my life. The weather was beautiful (I guess there was rain this yr?), great food - did you have some crawfish bread? - great music, Gospel tent awesome, Blues tent, Traditional jazz tent, etc.. Plus an incredible 6pm-2:30am party at Tipitina's - Jazzfest should be experienced by everyone. Hit Bayona before you come back - great, great food.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, it's really a tremendous festival. The New York times reported an interesting nugget from the festival's surveys/research. Said that people who attend Jazzfest for the first time generally turn into regular attendees for the next five years.

No surprise, really. It's such a great, well-run event. Every music lover really needs to experience it.

It rained like crazy on the first weekend, and also leading into this weekend. But after a downpour on Saturday morning, the sun came out - and stayed out. The fairgrounds were a big mud pit, but it was no big deal.

We tried to get into Bayona over the weekend but they were booked solid.

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Washington, D.C.: Have you had a chance to wander beyond the normal touristy parts of Nawlins? How does the city look after a few years of rebuilding? Does it have the same feel as it did pre-Katrina?

J. Freedom du Lac: I've been through a couple of real neighborhoods on this trip, and things seem to be coming back to life. Even stumbled upon a great salsa band performing at a Cinco de Mayo block party. Not that Cuban music and Cinco de Mayo make great sense together, but they sounded good, anyway - the vibe at the party was pretty terrific.

I didn't go to the Lower Ninth this time around. When I was there in January, though, it was a pretty tough scene. I followed a MLK parade through the streets - right past Fats Domino's house - and visual reminders of the devastation were everywhere.

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Arizona Bay, Ariz.: Mr. Du Lac and fellow freedom rockers I was just wondering if any of you all had a chance to check out the latest issue of Revolver magazine? Why's that I ask? It's only because the music magazine devoted AN ENTIRE ISSUE to Tool. That's right. The band that you guys think stinks got an entire magazine issue dedicated to them. It's titled "The Ultimate Guide To Hard Rock's Most Extraordinary Band." You all don't see music magazines devoting entire issues to Amy Winehouse, Gnarls Barkley, Nickelback, or most other musical acts that get discussed in here.

Just more evidence that Tool is one of the best bands ever and you all should hop on the bandwagon.

That's all, nothing more. See you all down at Arizona Bay. Spiral Out.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh yeah? Well, Tila Tequila is on the cover of the new Blender.

That's pretty extraordinary, though. I've seen guitar magazines and such devote entire issues to musicians, but it's pretty rare to see somebody like Revolver do it.

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sorry to get all culinary on you but: a roast beef po' boy? NO. The whole reason behind a po' boy is giving you a taste of something EXPENSIVE like SEAFOOD: shrimp. Spead it out on a sammich so it fills you up. It's seafood for a poor boy.

J. Freedom du Lac: But then you can't get debris.

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Bacon: I beg to differ. It's chocolate that makes everything better. Shoot, now I've got a craving for chocolate covered bacon.

J. Freedom du Lac: To each his/her own.

One of my favorite desserts of 2007 was apricot-bacon cornbread with maple ice cream at Le Piegon in Portland. Literally to die for.

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C'ville Boss report: Surprisingly dead crowd for such a quick sellout; great guitar work by Bruce, Nils, and Little Steven throughout; and show dragged a bit the last half of the main set. Never thought I would say this, but I actually missed Patti. "The Rising" sounds a lot better with her singing harmony with her husband. Show saved by an amazing encore, especially the first two songs "Meeting Across The River" and "Jungleland". He was not sounding like a 58 year old man on those.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for this. Sad about the crowd, especially since Bruce and the band feed off the audience's energy.

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Dothan, Ala.: I like Fats Domino.

J. Freedom du Lac: Noted.

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'80s Bands: Today's Post had an article on three new albums from 80s bands. Def Leppard and Whitesnake and...who the hell is White Lion ?

Did I miss them in some kind of drug induced haze ?

J. Freedom du Lac: Couldn't see them through the haze of Aqua Net.

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Dreaming about music: I didn't know I was so talented, but I dreamed up a country music song last night. I do not listen to country music, so I must have made up the lyrics and music in my sleep. My husband was singing the song and I kept telling him to shut up. A sign that I'm a budding songwriter? Or just that I'm annoyed with my husband about something?

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno. Share the lyrics with the chatters and we'll open it up for a vote.

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Seattle, Wash.: A public service announcement:

Why, oh WHY, in the name of all that is pure and merciful, are we seeing the return of all those White BonJo-rella acts from the late 80s?

Quick -- somebody dig up Kurt Cobain!

J. Freedom du Lac: That's not a PSA. It's an Important Cultural Question. Michael Deeds tried to explain it in today's review of the three butt-rock albums.

The kicker is key: "Still, why does the world even need a new Whitesnake album? Simple. For the same reason Fox Mulder needed that UFO poster in 'The X-Files.' Because we want to believe. We want to believe there's one more perfect Spandex anthem out there. That one morning, we'll trudge outside to wash the minivan and be greeted by a time-warped, sudsy Tawny Kitaen writhing in the driveway. It's a dream, man. Let sleeping mullets lie."

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Albany, Ga.: White Lion featured the shredding talents of guitarist Vito Bratta.

Their power ballad was "When the Children Cry."

I know because I lived through it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another mystery solved.

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river city: Bring me a muffalatta!

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll go get you one right now.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. A pleasure, as always. See you at the bar....

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