Midge Ure (Photo courtesy Erika Tooker)
Midge Ure may have famously sang, “This means nothing to me” in the Ultravox song “Vienna,” but don’t be fooled. The influential musician and humanitarian invests quite a lot of himself in his music and his causes, touring the world and arranging endeavors like Live Aid, Band Aid, and Live 8 concert festivals. After being away from the United States for a very long time, Midge has been returning regularly in recent years, performing material from his solo albums, from Ultravox, and from other projects.
Midge’s next US tour starts on Sept. 30 in Amityville, NY, and ends Oct. 15 in Atlanta. (Find tickets for Midge’s shows via Songkick.)
On this tour, Midge performs in the DC area on Oct. 4 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club — the same venue he visited when he was last here in early 2015. Joining Midge in a three-piece band are drummer BC Taylor and keyboard player Tony Solis, both of whom will also play other instruments for this “Live and Electric” tour.
Parklife DC was honored to catch up with Midge to ask him about the tour and his other current projects as well as the future of Ultravox and meaning in a world without David Bowie.
Groves (Photo by Chris Sullivan)
Three musicians. Two tracks. One relentless engineer.
A chance encounter is sometimes the only thing standing between center stage and obscurity. For an alt-rock trio hailing from the tiny town of Groves, Texas (population 16,144) attempting to make it big in the City of Angels, Courtney Ballard was that celestial savior -– if of course you believe in that sort of thing.
Groves does. In fact, they told Live Nation TV earlier this month in a tour diary that “taking that meeting was one of the best decisions they’ve made yet” in their career. That encounter has led to a tour with Culture Club that ends tonight at Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Cyndi Lauper and Boy George (Photo courtesy True Colors Fund)
Cyndi Lauper performed in a sold-out show Wednesday at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, at times fiery and at times sentimental but always irrepressible!
Nominally, she was touring in support of her new album Detour, a collection of country music covers released last month on Sire Records. But the concert sold out in part because it was the last of seven dates where she shared the spotlight with another ‘80s icon, Boy George.
In performance, Cyndi and George sang three songs together — at the end of George’s set, they covered “Bang a Gong” by T. Rex, a favorite of George. And at the end of Cyndi’s set, they performed “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly,” originally by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, and covered on Cyndi’s new album with Vince Gill. Afterward, Cyndi and George joined forces for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!”
Andy McCluskey (left) and Paul Humphreys of OMD (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)
As a champion of new wave music in general and synthesizers specifically, one of my biggest musical heroes is Andy McCluskey, frontman for the groundbreaking British synthpop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). A decade ago, Andy reunited with collaborator Paul Humphreys and relaunched the classic OMD lineup, which has been publishing new albums in recent years. And here in the United States, OMD remains celebrated for ‘80s singles such as “Enola Gay,” “So in Love,” and of course “If You Leave” (the band’s contribution to the soundtrack of the John Hughes film Pretty in Pink).
I had the singular honor of chatting with Andy recently about OMD’s upcoming tour of America, recent projects (including a new OMD album in the making), and matters of state in the European Union! [We also discussed more politics, but I cut some of that in favor of length and focus.]
Mickey McCarter: Hello, Andy!
Andy McCluskey: Mickey, hello again, how are you?
MM: Great! How are you?
AM: Great! I just got home from a very successful concert in Stockholm over the weekend, and the sun is shining in England, so all is good. [OMD played in Stockholm recently on May 21.]
MM: Fantastic! Since you mention that concert, you’ve been doing quite a bit of live album shows and releases, and that all seems to be going very well.
Cyndi Lauper (Photo by Chapman Baehler)
The inimitable Cyndi Lauper will soon launch a tour in support of her new album, Detour, a collection of covers of country songs, due out this Friday, May 6, via Sire Records.
For seven dates on that tour, including a stop at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., on Wednesday, June 1, Cyndi will share a stage with another icon of pop music in the 1980s — Boy George, lead singer of Culture Club.
Earlier this week, Cyndi held a telephone press conference with several music and arts reporters to chat about her new album and the tour. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and focus.
Q: Can you tell us how you came to record an album of country classics?
Cyndi Lauper: These covers and this time in country music are very closely linked to R&B, which is very closely linked to the birth of rock and roll. So it’s the foundation of everything I sing. When I was a kid, these songs were pop songs — Patsy Cline was on the radio, Loretta Lynn was on the radio. We had three radio stations! They were on the radio.
Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing (Photo by Shawn Brackbill)
In February, Wild Nothing released a new album via Captured Tracks — Life of Pause, the band’s third after Nocturne in 2012. Wild Nothing is the brainchild of Jack Tatum, a Virginia native who now lives in Los Angeles, and he took inspiration from some fresh sources on the new album. Although Wild Nothing is still very much a dreampop act, Jack was very influenced by Philadelphia soul music when crafting the record.
Critics hailed the album as a shift in sound for Wild Nothing, with NME calling it a “significant step.” Jack and Wild Nothing are touring in support of the album, and they visit the Black Cat in DC on Wednesday, May 11. (I am excited to report that their opener is Charlie Hilton of Blouse, touring solo without her own dreampop bandmates!) Tickets are available online.
Parklife DC chatted with Jack about his inspirations, his touring process, and being true to yourself. Me being me, we also chatted a little about David Bowie.
Joaquin Pastor of James Supercave (Photo courtesy Riot Act Media)
We at Parklife DC have spent the last few days listening to the debut album by James Supercave — an album called Better Strange published via Fairfax Recordings earlier this year. It’s a great psychedelic dance record, so I was pleased to catch up with James Supercave vocalist Joaquin Pastor to ask him about the making of the record.
James Supercave are on tour in support of the album, and they are opening for funky psych duo Wild Belle at the Black Cat on Sunday, May 1. Tickets are available online!
Meanwhile, it’s worth mentioning that James Supercave have two dates coming up in New York City as well — a sold-out show with Wild Belle at Music Hall of Williamsburg and a date of their own. If you’re in Brooklyn, catch James Supercave headlining on Friday, April 29, at Our Wicked Lady (153 Morgan Ave., Brooklyn, NY). (At $5/$7, that’s a steal.)
I chatted with Joaquin about his band’s sound, the debut record, and David Bowie.
Mickey McCarter: How’s the tour going?
Joaquin Pastor: It’s going well! We just played Pittsburgh, and we are finally starting to kick. It’s our third night with Wild Belle, who are fantastic. It’s going to be a real pleasure to watch them over the next month.
Josh Morgan, Charlotte Cooper, and Billy Lunn of The Subways (Photo courtesy Earshot Media)
Just hearing the garage punk thumping of “Rock & Roll Queen” by The Subways instantly takes you back 10 years, when the UK trio introduced the earworm to the world.
Now, The Subways are poised to return to the United States on tour for the first time since 2008. Vocalist and guitarist Billy Lunn, vocalist and bassist Charlotte Cooper, and drummer Josh Morgan will kick off a US tour here in DC at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Tuesday, April 12, marking the US release of their fourth album (self-titled) the following Friday via Bodan Kuma Recordings.
By the way, the band launched a campaign on Pledge Music to raise money for their tour. They are offering meet and greets, handwritten music, signed records, signed set lists, signed photos, personalized poems, and even their tour drum kit available for fans to own via pledging their support! For details, visit http://www.thesubways.net. (The band has almost reached their goal, last I checked, and the campaign still has 12 days remaining as of today.)
Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds (Photo by Bliss Braoudakis)
Laura Burhenn’s project The Mynabirds released their third album Lovers Know via Saddle Creek on August 7. Laura once called DC home before she migrated to Los Angeles to start The Mynabirds, and she’s returning for a hometown show at U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of her tour in support of the new album (which starts tonight in San Diego). Parklife DC had the sincere pleasure of chatting with Laura about her new stuff, her DC roots, and subversive pop songs.
[The transcript of this interview has been edited lightly for the sake of brevity in spots.]
Palma Violets (Photo courtesy Press Here)
Palma Violets perform at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Monday, May 11, in support of their new album, Danger in the Club, which just came out last week. In anticipation of the show, Mickey McCarter chatted with Palma Violets drummer William Martin Doyle, and he was everything you would expect in a member of the Palma Violets — quick witted, convivial and down to earth! I asked him about the new album, touring and his reputation as part of a great live band.