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What the classy, low-keyed Norah Jones and the hyperkinetic John Mayer have in common are a striking musical sophistication, natural charisma and album sales of 20,000-plus a week and growing.
WEAKEND PLANNER
SPRINGS FORWARD
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Does Anybody Really Care?
As we adjust our clocks before we hit the sack Saturday night, the big concern is seeding. We’re not talking about the lawn, silly—we’re referring to the endgame of the NBA’s regular season. As the days get longer, the games are getting more meaningful, the movie trailers are getting more intriguing and the music is finally giving us reason to hope that art and commerce may once again co-exist…

MEET THE NEXT BIG THINGS
John Mayer & Norah Jones tour together:
Now, I’m not gonna make any grand pronouncements about having seen the future of rock & roll or anything like that. Still, the sense of witnessing a Big Moment firsthand was palpable Wednesday night at the House of Blues, as 24-year-old John Mayer and 23-year-old Norah Jones shared a bill on the first of two sold-out nights.
          The classy, low-keyed Jones came out of nowhere a month ago to become the latest darling of the reawakened and hungry adult audience, while the hyperkinetic Mayer’s rabid fan base has grown organically and exponentially over the last couple of years via touring and artist-sanctioned Internet swapping. What they have in common are a striking musical sophistication, natural charisma and album sales of 20,000-plus a week and growing. It isn’t going too far out on a limb to predict that Mayer and Jones are on their way to emerging as bona fide stars, armed with the depth and ambition to accumulate significant bodies of work in the years to come.
          Jones is rapidly becoming the new darling of the music biz, and one might expect her Tinseltown debut to be a sort of coronation. In reality, though, she faced quite a challenge. The two shows had sold out before she’d been added to the bill, and the fawning weasels upstairs were decisively outnumbered by Mayer’s devoted coterie. She took the stage promptly at 8 p.m., unbeknownst to many industryites, who were still in full kibitz mode. She sat at an electric piano, accompanied by her standup bassist and guitarist, singing and playing with understated authority, seemingly undaunted by the buzzing of the crowd, and gradually connecting with pockets of the Mayer fans who packed the front of the stage in anticipation of the headliner’s set. At times she reminded me of the young Carole King circa Tapestry, at others she seemed to be channeling no less a cool customer than Peggy Lee. Her songs, singing and playing effortlessly integrated touches of country, soul, blues, gospel and jazz into a style she clearly owns, even at her young age. It was as if she’d managed to transport herself and those who were paying attention to some intimate martini lounge. Jones smiled, she joked, she spoke to the crowd as if to friends around a coffee table, and, amid the din, she beguiled.
          Mayer recognizes that he and Jones share a rare gift, and in a show of solidarity, he joined her trio onstage to play electric guitar on one song. When he bounded out from the shadows, his fans erupted in a collective shriek of Elvis-Beatles proportions, and the tastemakers upstairs immediately realized that a grass-roots phenomenon has catalyzed between this talented youngster and his fans, right under the noses of the cognoscenti. When he reappeared with his band a half-hour later, the lovefest began in earnest, with every shimmy, wink and impromptu punchline generating a whoop of adoration. In an Interview magazine Q&A conducted by Elton John, Mayer cited the Police, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dave Matthews and Ben Folds as touchstones, and his HOB performance demonstrated that he has amalgamated the key elements of his influences into a wildly expansive approach that seamlessly fuses gritty guitar slinging, ass-shakin’ grooves, conversational narratives, heady improvisation and home-run hooks into a remarkably expressive whole. Indeed, with his full arsenal of skills and utter confidence, this guy is the musical equivalent of Kobe Bryant.
          Mayer's set had its indulgences, including a showy, extended solo workout on electric guitar, but he was playing to his people, and they lapped up every move. Even so, his appeal is anchored by his songs, and perhaps the most remarkable single aspect of the show was the way the crowd sang along with every word, in tune and in unison, so locked in that it sounded rehearsed. I’ve never seen an audience any more hooked up with an artist.
          The show seemed very much like a coming-out party for the musical torchbearers of the next generation, and the reverence for the past that both Jones and Mayer exhibited allowed us geezers to feel like we were invited guests as well. The way these two are connecting, I’m reassured that the future of music is in extremely capable hands. Go get ’em, tigers—we’re counting on you.
          The Mayer-Jones West Coast tour hits San Francisco's Fillmore tonight, Claremont tomorrow, Portland Monday and Seatttle Tuesday. Other than Claremont, all are sellouts, but if you're a frequent visitor to this site, I suspect you know how to scam your way in. Have fun. Bud Scoppa

INSTANT FEEDBACK
Bud,
I just finished reading your review of the John/Norah LA show and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I can say with confidence that I was the first person in the country to play John's music on the radio over two years ago when he had a self-produced CD out called Inside Wants Out. They way you described his fan appeal was dead solid perfect. Since the first time I played "Back to You" on my radio show ( Reg's Coffeehouse) on WRAX in Birmingham, I have seen the way he literally hypnotizes the listeners.
          It's like that skit from the old Saturday Night Live sketch about the hypnotist where everyone who is interviewed leaving his show says, "It was better than cats; I'd see it again and again", with a glazed-over look in their eyes. This guy captivates his listener and brings them back time after time after time. I remember sending his first record to Mike Morrison when he first started working for HITS and saying, "I get huge phones on this one every time I play anything off of it, and Don VanCleave is selling 30-40 copies a week of it out of Magic Platter...the kid is for real." He is the consummate performer, and I believe we are witnessing a cultural phenomenon.
          As a big fan of the Norah Jones record, I am glad to see the two of them paired up and enjoyed what you had to say about her as well. Here's to what I hope is the dawning of a new musical revolution, and thanks again for the enjoyable read.

Reg
(Scott Register)
Coalition of Independent Music Stores
Birmingham, AL

Hey,
Great review of the Mayer/Jones show on hitsdailydouble. We knew John was a star over two years ago when he could not get arrested. This is a sea change in music, and we are glad to see it. John Mayer is the anti-Durst.

Don VanCleave
Coalition of Independent Music Stores
www.cimsmusic.com
Birmingham, AL

Bud:
I agree all the way. I have seen so many shows since I have been at HITS, and to see two bona fide stars... Norah's voice just licks at your spine. And after getting over being jealous of John Mayer's ability to write great formula poppy tunes and play the shit out of his guitar, I was singing along to every word as well. Nice to see some real talent out there. That guy is plane-crash good. Now, if I can just finish my damn tunes...

Craig Hasenbank
HITS

NAME-DROPPING
Ed Harcourt, Here Be Monsters (Captiol):
With a voice somewhere between Mark Lanegan and Jeff Buckley, and virtuosity on everything from guitar and piano to saxophone, English singer-songwriter Harcourt is clearly a major talent. His debut album calls to mind the lush orchestrations of Rufus Wainright (the string and horn-colored “She Fell Into My Arms”), the bittersweet blues of Van Morrison (“Those Crimson Tears”) and the off-kilter art-pop of Elliott Smith (“Apple of My Eye”). But it’s not all pretty melodies and clever wordplay: The drum loops and muted trumpet of “Beneath the Heart of Darkness” give way to a sludge of distorted guitars and noisy samples. Here be something good. David Simutis

ICE-BREAKING
Quarashi, Jinx (Time Bomb/Columbia):
This Icelandic troupe’s occasional sonic similarity to Rage and the Beasties has already been sufficiently noted. But songwriter/producer/drummer Solvi, vocalist Hossi and MCs Stoney and Omar are surprisingly eclectic. The bouncy singalong “Malone Lives” is a perfect example, evoking breezy pop-rock and Native Tongues hip-hop simultaneously. “Transparent Parents” puts a Latin spin on its furious groove before kicking into a spooky, indelible chorus. “Weirdo” melds thunderous riffage to a beat that defies you not to dance, while “Xeneizes” is an exemplary rap/soul/funk workout. What ties it all together is Quarashi’s uncanny balance of purpose and pleasure, hardcore beats and adventurous melody.
Simon Glickman

NAYSKAR PERDICKSHUNS, Y’ALL
Don’t mess with Texas…Motor Speedway, that is. NAYSKAR comes to the Lone Star State, an’ it’s gonna be wild. Why, hail, it’s gonna be lahk racin’ on a two-lane blacktop farm-ta-market road. Pass at yer own risk. Let’s face it—this here track is screwed up. They is jest one groove, so they’s gonna be a lot of inline racin’ till somebody fucks up. At speeds up to 195, this here is gonna be a race where the last man standin’ wins. Mah personal pick is that dope-smokin’, Bud-swillin’ Dale Jr. in the Budweiser #8 Chevy, but you gotta watch out fer them brothers from Texas, the Labonte boys: Bobby in the #18 Interstate Batt’ries Powntiac, and Terry in the Kelloggs #5 Chevy. And of course you cain’t discount my conspearuhsee theory (remember JFK). Guess who’s drivin’ the Radio Shack #10 Powntiac? Johnny Benson. And this IS the Sam Sung/Radio Shack Fahv Hunnert. Whut ah wanna know is, who the hail is Sam Sung? He ain’t got no drivers. Anyways, it’s gonna be a wild Sund’y afternoon, but of course, ANY Texas Sunday afternoon is full of fast cars loaded up with guns and Budweiser.
Guy W.T. Goggles

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
High Crimes
(Regency/Fox): Ashley Judd
and Morgan Freeman re-team after the 1997 box office hit Kiss the Girls in this tale of a high-powered, happily married lawyer (Judd) who is forced to defend her husband (Jim Caviezel), when he’s charged before a military court with war crimes committed 12 years before while he was a Marine covert operative in El Salvador. Director Carl Franklin (One False Move, Devil in a Blue Dress) always manages to keep things pretty gripping, and the advance word is that this is a taut, smartly acted courtroom drama, if that’s your thing. The movie’s based on the novel by Joseph Finder, and the website, www.highcrimes.com, all the necessary details about the film, with a trailer, photo gallery and assorted downloads.

Big Trouble (Touchstone Pictures): Director Barry Sonnefeld’s wacky comic adaptation of humorist Dave Barry’s novel involves a mysterious suitcase filled with explosives, which led to its being postponed from its original release date last fall in the fallout over Sept. 11. Of course, there were rampant rumors the film was in trouble even back then, as star Tim Allen’s big screen career continues to sputter. The movie’s cast is filled with such comic foils as Rene Russo, Omar Epps, Denis Farina, Janeane Garofolo, Jason Lee, Tom Sizemore and Stanley Tucci, as well as Jackass star Johnny Knoxville, Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld’s Puddy), rapper Heavy D, a flying goat and a “psychedelic toad.” Although the coming attractions are amusing, most of the rave reviews in the print advertising seem to have come from hack blurbmeisters. Although Sonnefeld has shown he can handle this kind of material in Get Shorty, he has had his missteps with big-budget flops like Wild Wild West. The website, at www.bigtrouble.net, cleverly maps out the area where the film takes place, plenty of streaming video of the particpants and an essay by Dave Barry entitled “The Movie Industry and Me.”

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (Artisan Entertainment): The company that brought you Blair Witch Project tries to resuscitate the Lampoon comedy franchise, with this 2002 version of Animal House, ratcheting the sex and vulgarity to keep up with the times. The film stars Ryan Reynolds (Dick) as the title character, the big man on campus..for the past seven years, where he has his own tricked-out dorm room, a full-time assistant, a personalized golf cart and immediate entre into every club committee, frat house, classroom and administrative office. Unfortunately, his dad, Animal House alum Tim Matheson (he was preppie bad guy Eric "Otter" Stratten) cuts him off, forcing Van to start a business as a party-planner, which captures the attention of fellow student journalist Gwen Pearson (the lovely ex-Carson Daly gal pal Tara Reid), who’s determined to expose the, ahem, naked truth beneath Wilder’s wild exterior. The film was directed by first-timer Walt Becker. There are two websites, one at www.nationallampoon.com/vanwilder, the other at www.artisanent.com/comingattractions/vanwilder.html, but neither is very informative. The Ultimatum soundtrack features a who’s-who of PoMo rockers like Jimmy Eat World, Sugarcult, American Hi-Fi, N.E.R.D., Sum 41 and Abandoned Pools, among others.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Magnolia Pictures): Distributed by a new company founded by Shooting Gallery’s Eammon Bowles, this mockumentary from comic Harry Shearer sounds as if it’s very much in the style of Christopher Guest’s classics Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Starring Michael McKean, Fred Willard and Ming-Na, it spoofs those annual media power elite seminars thrown by normally press-shy financier Herb Allen’s at his Sun Valley, Idaho, retreat. In Shearer’s version, a group of white global leaders and powermongers spend a week on vacation at Zanbesu Glen, an exclusive northern California resort, where they drink heavily and discuss their jobs. Also on hand are Howard Hesseman, George Wendt, Alan Thicke, Morgan Fairchild, Henry Gibson, Annabelle Gurwitch, Dick Butkus and Jim Lampley. Sounds like it could be a hoot, right? For more information, check the website at visionboxpictures.com/teddybearspicnic/ for press info, production press kit, synopsis, trailer, notes and stills.
Roy Trakin

A NEW YORK MINUTE
Any band who can get my favorite shoe company, Fluevog, to let them design a shoe and get it named after them is completely worth of my pick of the weekend. The Danielson Family play at the Knitting Factory on Friday night. Their cute nurses uniforms are nice, but for me, it's all about the shoes. Maybe they'll all be wearing their design at the show! Saturday, emo-troubadour Dashboard Confessional headlines Irving Plaza. The DC albums are all right, but it's opener Ben Kweller that I'm particularly excited about. Formerly of Radish (remember them?), his new solo act is completely right-on. Sunday, check out Of Montreal and Marshmallow Coast at Maxwell’s. Nothing beats a good show at Maxwell’s to wrap up the weekend. Heidi Anne-Noel

IVANA’S SECRET
Essentials for a transcontinental flight:
An upgrade to business class (or beware the whining!), a portable DVD/CD player, clothes that neither constrict nor cause chafing (time to find those Abercrombie & Fitch faux-Maharishi pants from a few years back), noise-cancellation headphones, a fistful of Benadryl, an Evian atomizer, PrescriptivesFlight Cream, Crme de la Mer moisturizer and foundation (apply both before the flight), a stack of British magazines for “research” (plan shopping excursions using British Elle and British Vogue), the new Doves CD, Nike Air Woven shoes (style #609065, available on www.niketown.com), extra batteries for the DVD player, essential DVDs like Blake EdwardsThe Party, Waiting for Guffman and the Godfather collection (leave the porn at home), gum, leftover Marshmallow Peeps from Easter, a change of clothes (in case your luggage doesn’t arrive with you), a valid passport, a credible alibi, enough dollars converted to pounds for the ride from the airport, a toothbrush, eye drops, temperance (alcohol leads to broken crockery—just ask Peter Buck), a trashy book, “Rescue Remedy” in the event of a panic attack, under-eye concealer (and lots of it), sunglasses to hide the circles under your eyes (if the concealer doesn’t help) and a scarf to cover your hair (in case you’re looking really matted after a 12-hour flight). —Ivana B. Adored

YOUR WEAKEND WEATHER
Paid for in Sacagawea dollars: After all of the sports excitement last weekend, this might be a good couple of days to get outside—unless you live in New York, where it will be partly cloudy and chilly, with highs only in the upper 40s and lows in the upper 20s. And if you live in Los Angeles, you’ll probably want to stay inside too; temps will get into the mid-60s and down to the low 50s. And if you happen to be in Chicago this weekend, perhaps for my sister’s wedding, you best stay inside as much as possible too. Highs there will reach the upper 40s, with lows in the upper 20s and rain on Sunday.
—David Simutis, Groomsman

ANOTHER BILLIE BANGER? (UPDATE)
Are you free Wednesday afternoon? (11/12a)
BIEBER BY CHRISTMAS?
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/12a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/12a)
WHO'S GETTING ZERVAS?
It's down to two bidders. (11/12a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATOINS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
ZERVAS STATION
Who's going to land the hottest unsigned property in music?
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
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