What You Can Expect at the Next Exciting Cher Concert

When you think of iconic female performances, a Cher concert has to come to mind. Her talent is undeniable. As an artist, she has a place alongside the legends of country, pop and rock. And that is because Cher made crossover cool before Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift’s parents were parents. At 72, Cher’s net worth is estimated at over $300 million. That may be less than the legendary one-name wonder and fellow costume enthusiast Madonna, but it’s more than another hardworking, first-name-only artist, Pink. And while Cher’s stage show is less athletic and acrobatic than Pink’s, if there were a concert costume contest, it’s almost certain that Cher would win. Thank you, Bob Mackie.

A Hard Working Woman

Cher’s concert schedule is daunting with regular Las Vegas dates and an almost continual world tour. She performed all over the U.S. and UK in 2018 and scheduled concert dates show no letup in 2019 and beyond. How the singer manages to keep in shape is anyone’s guess, but that she does it is clear. In fact, her costumes are as revealing as ever. While most international icons lip sync at least a portion of their “live” shows, Cher concert reviews suggest Cher is still putting her vocal cords to use in a fair portion of her shows. There’s no doubt, the Dark Lady fans first met about four decades ago as one half of the Sonny & Cher Show is still one of the hardest working women in music.

Forget the Standard Setlist

Cher is a consummate performer and seems poised to give her audience what they want. Drawing on a vast collection of hits, she delivers by presenting old and newer songs to her sold-out arena crowds. Almost certainly, concertgoers can expect to hear:
  • Believe
  • Dark Lady
  • Half Breed
  • Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
  • Strong Enough
  • The Shoop Shoop Song aka, It’s in His Kiss
  • Turn Back Time
While she doesn’t seem to have a “set” setlist for her “Here We Go Again” tour, Cher does open most shows with Woman’s World. Besides that hit, concertgoers can expect to hear most of her most popular tunes, plus a few covers. Notably, she’ll perform some ABBA songs from Mama Mia and include some songs from her duo days with Sonny Bono. Whatever you hear at a Cher concert, you can be sure it will be top-notch with the most outrageous costumes.  For Cher and her fans alike, the beat most certainly goes on. Who knows, maybe she’ll perform at the Super Bowl someday.

The Many Talents of the Hugely Multifaceted Jared Leto

Jared Leto, the 47-year-old frontman of Thirty Seconds to Mars is launching the latest campaign for the Gucci’s men’s fragrance, “Guilty.” And his fans and peers are astounded by how multifaceted the Oscar-winning actor, model, singer, songwriter and director is. In fact, Leto began his illustrious film career as an actor in the early ‘90s doing television appearances.

From Nike to Nike and Back Again

Leto’s first leading role as the late Steve Prefontaine, the runner. Prefontaine was the inspiration for and the first wearer of the athletic footwear giant Nike. Leto earned much praise in 1997 for the role. Here’s an interesting footnote: flash forward 21 years to 2018 and Leto sported Nikes for their “Fear of God” collection. But in-between all that, Leto earned Best Supporting Actor in the Academy Award-nominated film Dallas Buyer’s Club, in 2014.

And Then Came Thirty Seconds to Mars

In 1998, along with his brother Shannon, Leto formed the multi-platinum record selling band, Thirty Seconds to Mars. Fans aptly hail them as arena rock, which tends to bleed into the alternative rock genre. The group sells out shows whenever and wherever they tour. In fact, they made it into The Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 for the “Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band.”

A Legion-Like Fanbase for 30STM

The band acronym, 30STM, is often tattooed on their legion-like fanbase or worn proudly on a band slogan t-shirt. The fans of 30STM have elevated them to something more akin to deity status. Also, their positive lyrics are gospel more than simply good, modern rock songs. It would not surprise their fans if they played during the Super Bowl someday. However, from 2006 to 2012, Leto took a sabbatical from his acting career to pursue being a rock star. And as always, he transitioned with ease, as with every endeavor he ultimately conquers.

One Less Monkee to Monkey Around: A Peter Tork Profile

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Sadly, there is one less Monkee to monkey around. On February 21, 2019, Peter Tork, the bassist for The Monkees, died at the age of 77. Out of all the members of the Prefab Four, Peter was the oldest. So, keep reading to learn more about his life and how people will remember him.

His Early Life and Career

Born Peter Torkelson in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1942, the eventual Monkee developed an interest in music at an early age. He learned to play several instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboards and banjo. After failing out of college, Peter decided to use his musical talents to gain fame in the burgeoning folk scene of the 1960s. He spent the first part of the decade playing the coffee houses of Greenwich Village. Along the way, Peter participated in a number of groups that never stuck together. In one of these, he paired up with Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield and eventual co-founder of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Though that group broke up, Peter and Stephen remained friends long after.

His Life in the Monkees

In 1965, Peter made the trek to California. At Stephen’s urging, he tried out for The Monkees. He was chosen to star alongside Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones. When the show premiered in September 1966, The Monkees and Peter became an international sensation. In addition to the television show, The Monkees also recorded a number of albums. The first two, The Monkees and More of the Monkees, reached number one. The latter album featured one of Peter’s few releases on a Monkees record, Your Auntie Grizelda. Peter remained a member of the TV-turned-real band during their two-year run. During that time, he worked on three additional albums, including the soundtrack to the band’s motion picture, Head. In 1968, with the TV show over and the movie a flop, Peter decided to leave the band.

His Post-Monkees Life

Peter tried his hand at a solo career and a production company after he left the band. However, he didn’t have much success. Peter didn’t resurface into the mainstream until the 1980s. In addition to an album release under the Reprise label, Peter frequently appeared on the New Jersey cable program, The Uncle Floyd Show. In 1982, he participated in the Win a Date with Peter Tork bit for the TV show, Late Night with David Letterman.

Here They Come Again

In the mid-1980s, thanks to the success of Monkees reruns on MTV and the release of That was Then, This Was Now, Peter returned to the Monkees fold. In 1987, he joined Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones to record Pool It! and embark on a successful tour. From that point on, Peter was involved with some form of The Monkees. In 1996, he reunited with Dolenz, Jones, and Michael Nesmith to record Just Us and appear in a TV special. After Jones’ sudden death in 2012, Peter joined Nesmith and Dolenz on tour and worked with them in the studio in 2016 to record Good Times, which commemorated the band’s 50th anniversary. He was also part of their most recent Christmas album.

How People Will Remember Peter Tork

Peter Tork was the equivalent of The Beatles George Harrison. The quiet one in most episodes, he displayed a wry sense of humor on and off the set, as well as an amazing musical talent.

Come Pray for the Wicked with Panic! at the Disco

Panic! at the Disco’s 2018 release, Pray for the Wicked, starts with a bang from the first track and doesn’t disappoint. The album is full of singles destined to be chart toppers. Wicked somehow manages to go leaps and bounds above their first album 13 years ago, 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. And they do that without losing the nostalgic underdog champion feel of their roots. All that makes this album perfect for new and old fans alike.

Brendon Urie’s Soaring Vocal Shine

Brendon Urie shows his musical prowess more strongly in this album than ever before. They bring notes of Sinatra and the Rat Pack with tracks like Roaring ’20s, together with tracks that would do Billy Joel proud like Dying in L.A. And they remembered their Daft Punk fans with One of the Drunks. They filled the whole album with the ever-uplifting, yet dark aura they laced throughout Panic! at the Disco’s music for the past 13 years. Urie’s soaring vocals across the entire album can make a fan of anyone, regardless of what genre of music they prefer. The album draws the listener in and holds them in awe. Once you play the first track, Silver Lining, you’re guaranteed to be captivated until the story ends with Dying in LA. This album leaves you to pull your emotions back together while you question why you felt happy and sad at the same time.

Will They Go the Cinematic Route?

The interesting part will be whether Urie decides to go the cinematic route with this album like he did with Death of a Bachelor. That would help their audience see his vision for the album even more than his exquisite storytelling has already shown his fans. It is always exciting to see how Panic! at the Disco is going to get bigger and better whenever they release a new album. And, Pray for the Wicked is not an exception. In fact, the album has raised expectations for the tour and their next album. One thing is for certain when Panic! at the Disco prays for the wicked, they make it a religious experience.

Muse’s Simulation Theory: An Album for Old and New Fans Alike

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British rock band Muse released its most recent album, Simulation Theory, two months ago in November 2018. Receiving mostly four to five-star reviews, the album is a complete success. But, on a deeper level, how does it perform as a complete album?

Stories Come in Many Forms

Simulation Theory is more than a simple album. Most artists follow a general theme in their creative works when assembling an album, much like Muse does in Simulation Theory. But it is more than a simple compilation of singles. Muse succeeds by using their immense talents to craft individual tracks that, when listened through the album’s entirety, create a fully cohesive story. Although this may be difficult to observe during your daily commute or at the office, Muse’s accompanying music videos help to communicate the story’s whole. Truly, Simulation Theory is a testament to the old adage, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Retro-Rating: 5/5

Beyond the album’s success on the story-telling front, how else does Simulation Theory perform? The answer is: amazingly. Still sounding true to the Muse fans have come to know and love, the band created an ‘80s-esque feel that left us with a deep sense of nostalgia. Heavy use of synthesizers and high-hats produce an ‘80s aura that could extend Muse’s influence beyond its current fanbase. Longtime fans already love Muse and will likely continue to do so. But this new take on Muse could capture older generations who prefer similar musical elements commonly included in the music of the ’80s. This path was largely intentional, evidenced in the music video for “The Dark Side” when the word, “Retro” emerges from the background.

The Verdict

Simulation Theory is a modern take on storytelling filled with thought-provoking verses and imagery. And then they wrapped it neatly in an aurally-satisfying ‘80s feel. Muse’s latest album is a complete success. Given the opportunity, it will capture new listeners, adding to the rock band’s already substantial fan base. Do your ears and mind a favor and check it out. What have you got to lose? After all, this only a simulation.

How to Increase Your Mindfulness with Listening Meditation

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With the spiritual development of the U.S., previously niche practices like meditation are rapidly becoming mainstream. In fact, many sports teams use it to prepare for games. Nowadays, being able to increase your mindfulness has never been easier. For those looking to strengthen their mental and spiritual selves, meditation is the first logical step. Music provides the simplest, fastest way to get started. In fact, listening meditation and binaural audio are an easy entry into mindfulness, spirituality and wellness.

What is Listening Meditation?

While traditional meditation means focusing inward, listening meditation is focusing externally using sound as a conduit. According to Stephen Batchelor, “Listening meditation works in a different way from breath or sensation meditation. We do not focus inwardly but outwardly in a wide-open manner.” Since most people are used to concentrating on external things, listening meditation is an easy way to increase your mindfulness. And it segues smoothly into turning that focus internally. Choose music that is ambient and provides little distraction. Simple flute melodies work wonders like sounds of a trickling creek or windswept mountain.

All About Binaural Audio

One of the most popular methods of listening meditation is binaural audio. Binaural audio uses specific frequencies to alter brainwave behavior to reduce stress and increase focus. Using headphones drastically increases the effectiveness of the audio. Typically, different wave patterns play from each headphone, creating vibrant and sometimes elating sensations within the body. Binaural audio is a type of brainwave entrainment. Deane Alban, a teacher, author and health information researcher says, “If you’ve ever been mesmerized by the sound of ocean waves or a crackling fire, you’ve experienced brainwave entrainment.” For a more in-depth understanding of how binaural audio works, different wavelengths and their effects, and brainwave entrainment, read, Binaural Beats: A Meditation Shortcut. Remember, listening meditation and binaural audio are tools to aid you in your journey to deeper meditation. With the power of music, you can increase your mindfulness and find a better balance. Listening to music is something many people love to do. So binaural audio and music medication come naturally to most. Give it a try today, and you may feel better tomorrow.

Does Performing at the Super Bowl Actually Boost Album Sales?

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Maroon 5 took the stage during the halftime performance at Super Bowl LIII. So, they have followed in the footsteps of some of the most popular artists of their generation. But unfortunately, they got mixed reviews. The risks of putting on a bad performance are poor reviews and mocking memes that populate search results and flood social media. However, the rewards of succeeding are not quite clear. Does a great Super Bowl performance substantially benefit the artists? Since those perform during Super Bowl halftime are already household names, the sales chart is the sole indicator of halftime performance success. So, how have the past six years of headliners fared on the Billboard 200 following their Super Bowl performances?

2013: Beyoncé

Performance date: February 3, 2013. Beyoncé wouldn’t release her surprise album Beyoncé until 10 months later, so the latest album the audience could purchase was 2011’s 4. The February 16th, 2013 edition of the Billboard 200 saw 4 re-enter the chart at 100. The next week, it climbed to 79 as 2008’s I Am… Sasha Fierce re-entered the chart at 116. And 4 would fluctuate on the chart until dropping off again the week of April 13, nearly two months later.

2014: Bruno Mars

Performance date: February 2, 2014. The February 15, 2014 Billboard 200 bumped Bruno Mars’s 2012 album Unorthodox Jukebox from 18 to 7, while 2010’s Doo-Wops & Hooligans made a massive jump from 82 to 19. The following week saw both albums rise again, Jukebox to 3 and Holligans to 11. Afterward, both albums began to descend the chart, indicating that Mars’s Super Bowl bump was over.

2015: Katy Perry

Performance date: February 1, 2015. The February 14, 2015 chart featured three Katy Perry albums: 2013’s Prism, 2010’s Teenage Dream and 2008’s One of the Boys. Prism rose from 57 to 28, Dream went from 152 to 33 and Boys re-entered the chart at 113. All three would continue to rise until the February 28th chart, which saw Prism drop from 17 from 36, Dream from 22 to 67 and Boys bumped off the chart altogether.

2016: Coldplay

Performance date: February 7, 2016. The February 20, 2016 Billboard 200 saw Coldplay’s 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams rise from 37 to 16. The next week, it would leap to 4, while every other Coldplay album re-entered the chart. 2014’s Ghost Stories at 65, 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head at 73, 2008’s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends at 75, 2011’s Mylo Xyloto at 76, 2005’s X&Y at 100 and 2000’s Parachutes at 113. A downturn started the following week, with A Head Full of Dreams dropping to 14 and all the other albums dropping off the chart, except for Ghost Stories, which sat at 197.

2017: Lady Gaga

Performance date: February 5, 2017. The February 18, 2017 chart saw Lady Gaga‘s 2016 album Joanne drop from 59 to 66. But the week after that was when the Super Bowl bump began. Joanne jumped from 66 to 2, while 2008’s The Fame re-entered at 6, 2011’s Born This Way re-entered at 25 and 2013’s Artpop re-entered at 174. The next week, the bump was wearing off. Joanne dropped to 8, The Fame dropped to 37 and Born This Way dropped to 112, while Artpop dropped off the chart completely.

2018: Justin Timberlake

Performance date: February 4, 2018. Justin Timberlake‘s album release for Man of the Woods couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. It debuted on the February 17, 2018 chart at the top position, while his three other solo albums re-entered the charts. 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds at 56, 2013’s The 20/20 Experience at 106 and 2002’s Justified at 120. The next week, Woods and LoveSounds were the only ones left on the chart, Woods dropping to 2 and LoveSounds to 142. As time went on, Woods would become the only Timberlake album on the chart and steadily dropped in the ranks. The results indicate that performing in the Super Bowl halftime show does boost album sales, but only for a short period. Those that appear to benefit the most are acts with the broadest appeal and biggest discography. One example is Coldplay’s seven albums charting at once. Also, those with a recent album got a major, if brief, resurgence, like Lady Gaga’s Joanne. And finally, those artists with Super Bowl-timed releases such as Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods’s debuted at number one on the chart. Maroon 5 most certainly falls under the first category, boasting a broad radio presence and six-album discography. But did they match Coldplay’s performance, or are memes the most valuable product of Super Bowl LIII’s halftime show?

Military Music

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In the year 1075, Mahmud Kashgari wrote Divânu Lügati’t-Türk, the first comprehensive dictionary of Turkic languages. In this book was the first historical mention of a military band: the “nevbet”, a prototype of Ottoman military bands known as the Mehtaran. These Mehter groups, first mentioned in the 13th century, were composed mostly of Janissaries — elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops, bodyguards, and the first modern standing army in Europe. The Mehter ensemble played during military campaigns, wars, and ceremonies. Drums, cymbals, horns and flutes all were employed by the musicians.

In the 16th century, the music of the Ottoman Empire’s Mehtaran heavily influenced Western European culture. Not only were European military bands formed, but even legendary classical music composers — such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven — were inspired by the high-energy military sound and style of the Mehters. The original modern European military bands played fifes, drums, oboes, the French horn, clarinets, and bassoons. They honored royalty with performances, while also providing high energy, command, morale, and rhythm to support the soldiers through their chaotic experience on the battlefield.

The Ottoman influence on European military and military-style music led to the expansion of this practice on the newly seized soil of the “New World”. The first instance of an American military band was in 1653 in the New Hampshire militia with an instrumentation of 15 oboes and two drums. The bands which developed during the 17th and 18th centuries were influenced heavily by the military music of the British Army infantry regiments present. During the American Revolution (1765 -1783), musicians supported the soldiers with fifes and drums. Bandsmen were also tasked with combat duties including stretcher-bearers and field hospital attendants.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865), bands continued to perform on the field to serve as combat support, but they also began performing concerts for troops off the field. John Partridge, a soldier in the 24th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, said this about the band in his unit, firmly a Boston orchestra led by Patrick Gilmore:

“I don’t know what we should have done without our band. Every night about sundown Gilmore gives us a splendid concert, playing selections from operas and some very pretty marches, quick steps, waltzes and the like … thus you can see we get a good deal of new music, notwithstanding we are off here in the woods. Gilmore used to give some of the most fashionable concerts we had at home and we lack nothing but strings now.”

Union general Phillip Sheridan, who stated that “music has done its share, and more than its share, in winning this war”, also gave his bandsmen special privileges, such as the best horses and special uniforms.

During World War I (1914-1918), the US Armed Forces experienced an enormous influx of professional civilian musicians, resulting in the augmentation of just four African-American regiments to twenty seven. The bands of these new units were frequently led by black jazz musicians from the clubs of New York and Chicago. One such musician was James Reese Europe, whose 369th Regiment band “The Harlem Hellfighters Band” is credited with introducing ragtime and jazz to Europe, effectively altering the course of modern musical history. By the end of the war, this band ranked among the greatest bands in the world.

This time also proved to be nearing the end of the use of military music as part of combat operations entirely. One of the very last occasions in which American military bands performed on the battlefield was during the Vietnam War, when the 1st Infantry Division was ordered by US Army Major-General John Hay to perform “Colonel Bogey March” while marching down a road held by the North Vietnamese Army. Reportedly, NVA forces were so confused that they withdrew, clearing the area for the American infantry to seize the road without opposition.

It is incredible to see how music deeply serves every single element of our society, including military combat and support. Not only is music a welcomed boost, but a necessary element for success. Simply learning a brief history of European and American military today perks my interest about the style, form, and function of musical military histories all over the world. Rich and powerful histories, I am certain.

Residenté: Movie Review

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Puerto Rican musician Rene Perez Joglar AKA Residenté, who founded one of Latin America’s most influential rap groups Calle 13, traces his global ancestry in the newly released documentary Residenté. After taking a DNA test, Residenté embarks on a global adventure to record his latest album, visiting blood countries such as Siberia, Ossetia, Georgia, Armenia, China, Burkina Faso and Ghana, and collaborating with local musicians. The result is a rich tapestry of culture and sound, weaved by the journey of his ancestors across the world. The sonic meeting of artists from different parts of the world has historically created some of my absolute favorite music. For instance, Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder’s album Talking Timbuktu, (Touré representing Mali and Cooder representing the United States) is an earthy masterpiece. The collaboration of Frank Sinatra (USA) with Antonio Carlos Jobim (Brazil) for their critically acclaimed 1967 album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim: exceptional, incomparable beauty. The music created by Residenté and his global collaborators, although fascinating, usually sounds disjointed and lacks essential cohesion. However, I applaud him for the courage and imagination it took for him to accomplish this powerful mission. The film is a gorgeous, moving story, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in music, travel, humanity, passion, culture, and the history of global human migration. “I’m not the one writing my lyrics: the path taken writes them for me. The genetic map that unites us all is our pentagram, and the only way to feel it honestly is by feeling what others feel.” — Residenté     Photo By Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra (originally posted to Flickr as residente, calle13.)

Music Stored in DNA

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DNA usually stores genetic material, however, researchers from the University of Washington, Microsoft and Twist Bioscience — a company that specializes in DNA synthesis — have now hijacked the functionality of DNA molecules to store audio recordings. In this process, binary code is converted into the language of DNA (sequences of A, C, T and G). Last year the team was able to store 200 megabytes of data on DNA, including a music video by the band OK Go, and more recently they have encoded Miles Davis’ “Tutu”, and Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” — both taken from the Montreux Jazz Festival archives. This is the first time DNA has been used for long-term archival-quality storage. It turns out that DNA is a much more efficient data-storage method: Twist Bioscience claims that “where the very best conventional storage media may preserve their digital content for a hundred years under precise conditions, synthetic DNA preserves its information content for hundreds or thousands of years.” Bill Peck, the Chief Technology Officer of Twist Bioscience, stated that “DNA is a remarkably efficient molecule that can remain stable for millennia. This is a very exciting project: we are now in an age where we can use the remarkable efficiencies of nature to archive master copies of our cultural heritage in DNA.” Not to mention, the space in which these songs can now be kept is tiny! As Microsoft senior researcher Karin Strauss, Ph.D., said in a recent statement, “The amount of DNA used to store these songs is much smaller than one grain of sand. Amazingly, storing the entire six petabyte Montreux Jazz Festival’s collection would result in DNA smaller than one grain of rice.” Quincy Jones, who has been involved with the Montreux Jazz Festival for many years, is also passionate about this project: “With the unreliability of how archives are often stored, I sometimes worry that our future generations will be left without such access…I’m proud to know that the memory of this special place will never be lost.”       Photo by Bdna.gif: Spiffistan, Space-filling model animation of B-DNA, made with qutemol via Wikicommons