Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 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 Clay Aiken does.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Carla Bruni, The Power of Love in Paris

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washingtonpost.com: In a Plush Setting, Jay-Z Makes Himself at Home

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washingtonpost.com: Rappers' Shout-Outs Make Obama Skip a Beat

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washingtonpost.com: Still Wearing His Heart on His Sleeve

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: J. Free -

I realize I'm late to the part with the Bon Jovi cover bands, but I had a couple I wanted to share:

Italian cover band: Buon Jovi

Country artists cover band: Barn Jovi

Billy Corgan and friends cover band: Zwan Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: Remember last week, when I said this would be a Bon Jovi-free chat? I lied.

Greetings, peoples. Busy week here, what with the Virgin Mobile Festival coming up - and my date with the Jonas Brothers just 26 hours away. They're no Carla Bruni, but...

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8th and I: Yo, J-Free--

Are you gonna be at the Gnarls Barkley show tonight? I am so pumped! Can you tell me anything about the opening act, and whether I should be bummed if I'm gonna have to miss some of it?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hercules and Love Affair? Yeah, they're worth checking out. Self-titled album is pretty tasty.

Some highlights from the Chris Richards-authored review that we ran back in June:

"...neoclassical disco ... pulsates with beats and bass lines that hark back to the '70s and lyrics that plead with the gods of antiquity. ... resembles a futuristic Family Stone -- or maybe a cooler, 21st-century C+C Music Factory ... greatest coup comes with the employ of Antony, the androgynous warbler of Antony and the Johnsons, whose vocal histrionics were made for this kind of music. ... "

No idea how it will play live, but it has the potential to be pretty great.

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Why so many upgrades: So I and several friends ended up getting our tickets upgraded at last week's George Michael concert. While I am pleased, I do wonder why that occurred? Do you know what happened?

J. Freedom du Lac: Did you have to flash any body parts to make this happen? Isn't that the way it works at a KISS concert?

Any George Michael fans out there know if this is a regular occurrence on the tour - and, if so, how it works/who gets picked for upgrades/etc?

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Idea for Today's Chat: Bret Favre's theme song. How about:

Don't Stop Believing.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm trying to think of a song that really sums up my ambivalence about his comeback. Will get back to you on that, unless I don't.

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Capitol Hill, D.C.: Hi Josh...just fyi about your article this morning about Carla Bruni. Her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy isn't the French prime minister. He is the president. I knew that you would want to know.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks, and it's been corrected. Sometimes, I am astounded by my own stupidity.

At least I didn't refer to him as a Brooklyn rapper.

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District of Coldplay: JFDL - You might be cool but props to David Malitz for his Coldplay review. It's beautiful to see someone who may or may not appreciate their music, but can understand their worth.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think Malitz is at the chiropractor's office right now. He hurt himself trying to do all those backflips. But yeah, nice review. I suspect, though, that he would have written a very different review if he'd seen the 2005 show at Nissan. This one was much more ... pleasant.

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Tampa, Fla.: I get George Michael songs confused with Terrence Trent D'Arby songs.

J. Freedom du Lac: That makes one of us. Me? I just get prime ministers confused with presidents.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello Mr. du Lac!

Who do you consider to be the best live band in the USA today? Or maybe a few US bands you consider to be top shelf, premium choice live.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bruce Springsteen and the ESB and whatever band Prince is working with at the moment.

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Washington, D.C.: So - when will you be following up today's review with an in-person interview? Surely the Post will grant you that!

J. Freedom du Lac: That what I'm saying!

By the way, I am going to need a new editor by the time the new year rolls around. I've driven my current editor to retirement, at least from TWP. You should apply for the job. Be sure to mention that you intend to send me to France for this story.

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Rockville, Md.: J. Free -- 40 years ago, the music world saw the release of 'The Beatles' (aka 'The White Album'), 'Beggar's Banquet,' 'Electric Ladyland,' 'Wheels of Fire,' and even 'In a Gadda Da Vida,' among others, not to mention singles like 'Jumpin' Jack Flash.' Wouldn't you say 1968 qualifies as one of the greatest years in rock history?

J. Freedom du Lac: It was a pretty fantastic year, yes.

1988 was pretty good, too - at for hip-hop fans. The height of the golden age, actually. Our friends over at The Root are hosting a chat tomorrow on that magical year.

washingtonpost.com: Two Decades On, Looking Back at Hip-Hop's 'Magical Year'

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Severna Park, Md.: Which one of the two dudes in Yellow was the brains of the operation? Was it the one guy with the mustache or the other guy with mustache?

J. Freedom du Lac: You mean Yello?

Or is there some sort of Coldplay tribute band that I should be worrying about/avoiding?

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This weekend's V-Fest: Are you predicting a bacchanalia?

J. Freedom du Lac: Isn't that part of the name?

Virgin Mobile Fest: A two-day rock bacchanalia.

I am contractually obligated to use that word in my VFest stories.

Speaking of which: Malitz and I will be live-blogging the festival on This Very Web site all day/night on Saturday and Sunday. Come join the fun.

We have some pre-fest coverage coming, too. In fact, it's already started, with today's Ron Asheton interview. (Though now that the blogs are being moved, we can't actually post anything new until tomorrow afternoon.)

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Washington, D.C.: So did anyone at the Post review the new book that features comics all based on Tori Amos songs?

Would that classify as a music duty?

J. Freedom du Lac: Malitz, I smell a side bet!

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Not really a Springsteen post!:

This is from last Monday's Giants Stadium concert. At around the 2:25 mark, Nils Lofgren does a forward roll in the middle of his guitar solo. Here's hoping for a repeat performance in Richmond.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nils! I'm hoping to chat with him in the not-too-distant about his Neil Young album, among other things.

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Kids at Concerts: We attended Lollapalooza last weekend and while they have a kids zone, we also saw multiple families get really close to the stage during other sets (Rage, NIN). And none of them were wearing headphones or earplugs. I don't understand why people think this is an appropriate venue for 5 year olds or babies (we saw a few that couldn't walk). Also, to people bringing kids - don't let them run around screaming. We didn't pay money to attend a rock concert and feel like we were at a daycare center.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, that's not particularly good form.

Though if you go to a P-Funk concert, you'll see a guy on stage in a diaper.

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1968 Memories: A 16 yr old kid with about six bucks to my name couldn't decide between Electric Ladyland and Wheels of Fire. Both double albums selling for 5.99.

I picked Electric Ladyland eventually.

J. Freedom du Lac: Just think: Today you could've had 'em both for less than $5.99. I mean, you'd be breaking the law and everything, but I'm sure you did a little bit of that back in '68, anyway.

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Washington, D.C.: Foo Fighters are playing the Virgin Festival in Baltimore this weekend. But it appears as if they won't be playing any D.C. shows on this tour, which is scheduled to end soon. Doesn't that seem strange, considering Dave Grohl is from here? Any theories on why they might have decided not to play D.C.?

J. Freedom du Lac: If Dave ever calls me, I'll ask him.

Speaking of VMoFest: A Two-Day Rock Bacchanalia interviews, anybody have any questions for the Silver Beats, who are backing Chuck Berry this weekend? Malitz has an interview with them in two hours.

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Rockville, Md.: Settle a bet for me and my brother:

Who would you consider a "bigger" band (popularity, influence, etc):

The Raconteurs, or Of Montreal?

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably a coin flip - though I think Of Montreal is the more interesting band.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: When you talk to Nils, ask him about his Jhoon Rhee commercial and "Bullets Fever," and whether us fans will ever be able to get ahold of legit versions of them.

J. Freedom du Lac: I will!

Actually, before we chat, I'll post a query on the blog so that you can get all (or, at least some) or your burning Nils Lofgren questions answered by the man himself.

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you have to know: someone told Gene W. today that "Brown Eyed Girl" is about backdoor luvvin.

J. Freedom du Lac: To which Gene responded by humming "Semi-Charmed Life"?

I should have posted a question in his chat today, asking him where his Dylan list is. He's (hopefully) hooking us up for the blog.

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Laurel, Md.: Freedom,

Speaking of C+C Music Factory, when are you all going to record again?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm holding out for George Michael's "Freedom 08."

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Coldplay bashing?: I had no idea that bashing Coldplay was a sport -- just hadn't heard that, I guess. I have enjoyed their music -- whether it was based on "apery" or not. The show at the Verizon Center was superb; good musicianship and good showmanship. Having not seen a "21st Century" band live before (still recycling Tom Petty, The Police, etc.), I was happy to realize that rock music has made the century transition.

To the bashers: My excellent floor seats for Coldplay were about 1/2 the cost of my comparable seats for the upcoming Who show. Will The Who put on a show twice as entertaining? We'll see.

J. Freedom du Lac: My mom likes Coldplay, too!

It's not just the blatant apery that made them so bashable. It was that their music was becoming increasingly soporific and overwrought, which is a deadly combination.

They saved themselves with the new album.

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L' Enfant Plaza, D.C.: I got a question for the Silver Beats. How the heck did a Japanese Beatles tribute band end up hooked up with Chuck Berry on a tour of the USA?

More Bon Jovi tributes:

All Chess players-Pawn Jovi Only plays country clubs-Lawn Jovi Made up of the kids of the people in Bon Jovi-Spawn Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: Booking-agent magic - and Seth Hurwitz having an inspired moment during a drive back from PA with a car filled wtih cheesesteaks, no doubt.

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Washington, D.C.: Are you excited for tomorrow's almost-sold out 2 Skinnee J's show? I heard that their NYC shows will have some Guitar Hero competitions! I promise, no more references until the next reunion tour.

J. Freedom du Lac: No, I'm excited about my date with the Jonas Brothers tomorrow.

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My $0.02 Worth : Bon Jovi - Senior Citizens Cover band - Get Offa My Lawn Jovi

Brett Favre Comeback Theme - Welcome Back My Friends, to the Show that Never Ends

J. Freedom du Lac: Okay, that Jovi name is pretty good. Come on in...

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8th and I: Re: The Silver Beats

You should ask them what it's like to play with Chuck Berry on his Ding-A-Ling!

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure the humor will translate. But yeah.

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Axe the Silver Beats this: Do they have a left-handed Paul?

J. Freedom du Lac: Good one. (Malitz, you taking notes?)

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Jay Z at Kennedy Center: What was the point of the penultimate paragraph in your review? For anyone other than the hip hop cognesceti it was indecipherable.

J. Freedom du Lac: Which review? I feel like I filed, like, 20 (marginally) different pieces on the event.

I guess you're talking about this?

Not your average Friday night at the Kennedy Center, in other words. Not even close: When Jay-Z began his set, fans flooded the aisles and pushed toward the stage. Later, Jay-Z and his sidekick, Memphis Bleek, engaged in a call-and-response bit involving a particularly profane word and a philosophical question about who, exactly, was in charge: "the ladies" or "the thugs."

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I dunno, it makes sense to me. Rare night at the KenCen, Jay-Z fans bum-rushing the stage, Jay and Memphis Bleek asking who runs this [expletive], the ladies or the thugs.

And anyway, isn't hip-hop often impossible to understand if you're not a fan?

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Washington, D.C.: Don't forget--in Montgomery County, August 25th is the official Nils Lofgren Day!

washingtonpost.com: I'm going to have to look into this. As a Montgomery Country native born on August 25, I demand a recount and an explanation as to why it's not David Malitz Day. They should be honoring me, for my many years of service as Freedom Rock chat producer.

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re: J. Freedom du Lac: My mom likes Coldplay, too!: ahh, the dreaded Mom reference. More effective than a twinge of joint pain to make one feel old.

I felt that chill once, someone said to me "yah, my Mom likes The Clash too."

sigh...

J. Freedom du Lac: My mom has never liked the Clash, alas.

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Arlington, Va.: I actually sat through the TCAs to watch David Cook win (shush). I then realized that I am very, very old, because one of the Jonas Brothers mentioned wanting to start a date by riding a white horse on the beach, and the audience of teenage girls was AMAZED by the originality and romance in that idea.

Also, they "flew." Ask them if they'll be getting in the harness again.

J. Freedom du Lac: I can't believe we didn't live-blog the show! (Actually, I can.)

Did anybody get slimed, or am I mixing up my kiddie-culture awards shows?

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George Michael: Your review showed that you didn't enjoy the intermission of the concert, but it wasn't as bad as the wait at the beginning. I thought "8:00 PM prompt" on my ticket meant it would start promptly at 8.

Do you know whether the DC set list was cut? I thought some songs (like Praying for Time) were being played on tour, but we didn't get them at Verizon Center.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, the whole 8pm prompt thing was sort of hilarious. Especially given the music they were pumping over the PA before he finally showed up for his set.

Gone With the Wind!

Not sure if the show was shorter here than in other cities, but the total running time seemed about right.

I thought the intermission was a horrible momentum-killer, though. I want those 20 minutes of my life back.

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Ann Arbor ... Is a Tease: Is it true that you changed your byline from "J. French du Lac" at the request of Congress in 2003?

J. Freedom du Lac: Awesome WP.com comment on the Bruni review today:

Sorry, but I just refuse to read an article in the Washington Post by a writer called J. Freedom du Lac.

For Heaven's sake, man (or woman), grow up.

J.F. du Lac is just fine, so we know there is an interesting link to France - a conversation piece, if you like - but, on this planet and in today's political climate we do not call our children or ourselves "Freedom".

Now cut it out.

Just get a "nom de plume" like everybody else.

What a "liberte"!

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"you'll see a guy on stage in a diaper.": At a Dylan show, too.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oof!

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Washington, D.C.: Coldplay put on an excellent show. It had a different feel than X&Y but was still enjoyable. Boston.com writers enjoyed the Boston show more than David did ours. No matter, I'll take an energetic, soaring, tight sounding, aping concert over a lot of any number of performances I've seen over the years. Maybe I'm just easy to please, but if music makes you feel something (I don't listen to lyrics much) then I'm sold. Poor Coldplay, if they had come out before U2 or Radiohead people would think they were close to genius. Timing does matter.

J. Freedom du Lac: Close to genius? Not so sure. Some of their lyrics are pretty trite.

But, you know, I like the new album just fine (probably a solid B), and I thought Sunday's show was pretty good. I really enjoyed the, um, video balls, which, Klimek tells me, are actually known as PufferSpheres (TM). No, really.

Is Chris Martin the most charmingly self-effacing rock star in the game? Discuss.

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Washington, D.C.: Someone sent me a link to the Allman Brothers doing "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" in a live show from 1970. It lasted 8:21 and those eight minutes moved faster than a lot of three minute songs I've heard. What a gorgeous song with tasty playing (introduction, Dickey solo, Gregg solo, Duane solo, and even a 30-second drum solo) and what a great band!

Sorry about the flashback, man.

J. Freedom du Lac: Where do the Allmans rank on the list of great American bands?

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Seating Upgrades: Could it have been to make the "good seats" look sold-out? Can't have a demigod like George playing to a half-empty house.

J. Freedom du Lac: Don't know what the actual attendance number was, but it had to have been better than half-filled.

The top-tier tickets sure were expensive though, weren't they?

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This is what....: should have been in the paper. Anyone can understand this.

"Jay-Z fans bum-rushing the stage, Jay and Memphis Bleek asking who runs this -expletive], the ladies or the thugs."

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't like the rhythm of that construct.

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Adams Morgan: Any chance Chuck will demand compensation from a band that covers a band that liberally stole from him?

J. Freedom du Lac: Good question. Though didn't pretty much every rock band steal from Chuck in the '60s? The big guns sure seemed to, from the Beach Boys to the Stones.

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About J Freedom: what is j freedom's theme song?

J. Freedom du Lac: The one that sounds best while I'm wearing a Coldplay concert tee at a Coldplay concert.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey there -- I am a Coldplay fan -- though they're not my favorites, I can connect with their music -- so I was looking forward to Sunday night's concert. But I was really disappointed with how short their concert was. Your reviewer got it right. They were there and they were gone in a jif! I never mind the cost ($78 tickets for nosebleeds, not including additional fees) when I think I'm in for one of those memorable concerts that I'll take with me for a while. But their Nissan Pavilion show of a couple years ago was much better than this past weekend's show at Verizon Center. Any thoughts???

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, I pretty much hated the Nissan show, and I sort of liked Sunday's show, which was definitely better than their last Verizon Center concert - the one that Fiona Apple opened.

So you're asking the wrong guy.

I thought the set seemed a little bit short, though I probably would have liked it less if they'd kept playing.

Was the price differential between the nosebleeds and the good seats really only $20, or was the top ticket more expensive than $97.50 or whatever?

(Also: How did Spike from Top Chef get those floor seats? It's not like he won the competition!)

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The Allmans: J. Freedom (take that, you French-hating punks!), up until the heroin kicked in around '73, pretty far up there. All of their albums through "Brothers and Sisters" hold up well and they're easily the best jam band ever, despite the forthcoming claims you will now receive from all those overbaked fools wearing tie-dyed adult diapers. You know who you are.

J. Freedom du Lac: Those early albums and live recordings are really potent.

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L' Enfant Plaza: No, Weird Al is the most charmingly self-effacing person in music. I suppose he might be considered "rock and roll" since the band does play a lot of rock and roll during his show.

Martin does have a wonderful low-key charm though.

J. Freedom du Lac: I was about to say that it doesn't count because it's Weird Al's shtick. But it's probably Martin's, too.

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Where do the Allmans rank on the list of great American bands? : How high CAN you rank when you're responsible for (at least) half of "Allman and Woman"?

J. Freedom du Lac: (See above.)

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Thieves Suck: How would you punish the cretins that stole The Stooges' van and equipment? Does the Constitution or the Geneva Convention prohibit 24-7 broadcasts of Constantine Maroulis or Celine Dion into jail cells?

J. Freedom du Lac: Lock 'em in a room with Iggy and see what happens.

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Your Article on Rap...: Yes, Ludacris was a bit ludicrous on his song. But Obama should point out that country songs (which appeal to many white people) have just as ludicrous lyrics. Who remembers, "I Shot the Sheriff" or any of Toby Keith's latest songs which glorifies war and genocide...

J. Freedom du Lac: Sure, but country isn't the cultural wedge issue that hip-hop is. So that argument wouldn't work. Plus, it's just another iteration of the "why don't people complain about all the characters who die in 'Terminator' instead of worrying about rap lyrics" argument. No real traction there.

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Waldorf, Md.: If you feel compelled to slag the Jonas Brothers show, are you prepared to live on the lam for a couple years until their enraged fans hit puberty and outgrow the boys in favor of Goth bands with naughty lyrics?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm probably going to file the piece using a pseudonym, like Allison Stewart. She's already on the JoBro fans' hit list.

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Alexandria, Va.: The Allmans are a great American band (cetainly in the top 20 of all time) because they, along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, basically invented a uniquely American sub-genre of rock and roll music. Southern rock can't really be prefabricated by bands in London or Tokya. Plus, they get the added steet cred of having one of the best guitarists of all time (Duane) as a founding member, and the current duo of Derrek Trucks and Warren Haynes playing guitar. These guys are some of the best in the business. They're like guitar jedis.

J. Freedom du Lac: One of the great disappointments of the Earth Day concert on the Mall earlier this year was that Warren didn't get to play with the Roots, which could have been really fascinating. His solo stuff was great, though. I agree: He good. Real good.

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Arlington, Va.: Is there some sort of law that requires the oldest brother in these brother acts to be the homely one and the middle brother to be the HOTTIE?

J. Freedom du Lac: Is it a law, or just the template?

Also, is there an appreciable difference between the JoBros and Hanson?

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Uh...: I Shot the Sheriff is a Bob Marley song.

J. Freedom du Lac: Was the chatter saying that was a country song, or was the chatter just pointing out that it had lyrics that could be considered controversial? I read it as the latter.

But yeah.

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Washington, D.C.: Now we're talkin' ... yup, Allmans definitely the best jam band ever ... and the Dead fans should keep in mind, there's a diff between "best" jams and "played the longest songs" jams ... Allmans were maestros ...

J. Freedom du Lac: I think you just harshed somebody's mellow here.

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Washington, D.C.: Coldplay...enjoyable show...but... 4 guys on a stage with drums, mics, lead guitar, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and the occasional piano.

Yet all throughout the night background beats, synth, bass, and keys (that clearly weren't being played live) could be heard. It would have taken an army of other musicians/instruments to have done all that.

Do they just play over their album? How bad were they faking it? Again, I didn't hate the show. But come on guys.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, they were clearly using tracks. Clearly. At one point, Chris Martin even stood at that keyboard for a few bars, then left - and yet the keyboard line keep going. And if you looked at the little TV set that was on stage, you could see video of somebody playing a keyboard, which I thought was one of several acknowledgments that they were, in fact, using tracks.

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Anonymous:"country" music might be more of a cultural wedge issue than you think!!! It is an artificially created musical category to begin with, in the era of segregated music. It is rudely centered on low I.Q. self abuse thru alcohol, Stepford like "stand by your man" mantras, mindless nationalism, and the lie that white people created "country" music, when the actual roots of "country" music are multi-cultural, not just white trash. I consider it HIGHLY DIVISIVE!!!!

J. Freedom du Lac: Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's a cultural wedge issue. People who dislike country don't seem to dislike it with the same combination of fear and utter disdain as the people who dislike hip-hop. I mean, you have the occasional blip and bleep, as with the hubub over the Toby Keith song that became the basis for his new movie. But people seem to rally around their dislike of rap music. It's absolutely a lightning rod for controversy.

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Too Long Sets: This might be the next great chat topic! What concert would you have liked better if they played longer? Or shorter?

J. Freedom du Lac: I should start logging running times for the shows I attend but don't review - though I don't always stay through the end, as with that MGMT show the other night.

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Anonymous: How does Carla stack up to Claudine Longet?

J. Freedom du Lac: I prefer Bruni's vocals to Longet's, which are just a bit too whispery-little-girlish to me. Bruni's voice is huskier, more mysterious.

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Wheaton, Md.: J, isn't he Post sending you to cover the Jonas Brothers the same as having Tom Sietsema critique the cotton candy at the county fair? If you got the boys alone in a room without the tape recorder, even they'd admit that in 5 years no one is going to be listening to or buying their music. It's just harmless fluffy fun for the kids.

J. Freedom du Lac: Some harmless fluffy fun pop is better than others.

I'm actually not reviewing them, though. Just interviewing.

Thanks for stopping by, folks. Enjoy your cotton candy - and see you at Pimlico this weekend.

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