Monday, April 13, 2009

Moonalice - Investment pays off for late-blooming rocker

Investment pays off for late-blooming rocker

Aidin Vaziri, Chronicle Pop Music Critic

Monday, April 13, 2009

Roger McNamee knows what you think.

That he's just some long-haired Silicon Valley billionaire living out a dormant teenage fantasy by hiring the best band money can buy.
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That he simply had to open his wallet to get studio time with T Bone Burnett, the man who swept the Grammys last year for his work on Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Raising Sand."

That chartering private flights and putting up his musicians at four-star hotels in cities where only a dozen people come to the concerts is an indulgence only Bono's business partner could afford.

But McNamee, 52, who sings and plays guitar in the band Moonalice under the lovable alias Chubby Wombat, says you're wrong.

Moonalice, which releases that self-titled premiere album Tuesday, is not only a project that the founder of the private-equity firm Elevation Partners takes as seriously as his investment portfolio, but an experiment he hopes will shake up the way the music industry operates as a whole.

"I have never let go of the dream of being in a great band, and I have structured my life for the past 30 years to allow me to pursue that dream," McNamee says, backstage at Don Quixote's nightclub in Felton, just outside of Santa Cruz.

To that end, he's brought in guitarist G.E. Smith, 57, former leader of the "Saturday Night Live" band, and Jack Casady, who made his name playing bass with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. "If this didn't feel worthwhile, I wouldn't do it," Smith says, having just flown in from New York.

There's also pedal-steel guitarist Barry Sless, keyboardist Pete Sears and drummer Jimmy Sanchez, who have individually played with everyone from Rod Stewart to Bonnie Raitt. And there's McNamee's wife, Ann, who plays percussion and provides background vocals.

"We have no children, and we don't play golf," he says. "So we do the band."

Even though he's the only one with a day job, McNamee isn't exactly new to this. Between Moonalice and his former band, the Flying Other Brothers, he estimates he's played 800 shows. He's also put in time as a business adviser to the Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam, while U2 lead singer Bono is a general partner at Elevation.

"The music business sucks," McNamee says, so he's treating Moonalice like one of his many entrepreneurial startups. The business model includes giving away music, videos, posters, even cupcakes, in the hopes of drawing people to the shows. "It's an explicit trade," he says. For those who can't make it, Moonalice is one of the first bands to send out free high-quality MP3 files in real time via Twitter.

"The old deal is over with," Smith shrugs. "So let's try some new stuff."

The songs they make together are heavily indebted to the breezy cosmic-hippie jams of the Dead. McNamee has a modest voice, but watching him in action as Mr. Wombat in his blue jeans and ubiquitous purple T-shirt, you actually believe this is where he belongs, not the boardroom.

"Every musician starts out as a fan," McNamee says. "I'm just a spectacularly late bloomer."

To hear Moonalice's music, go to

E-mail Aidin Vaziri at

This article appeared on page E - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, April 11, 2009



Out now are two new collections of vintage Grateful Dead gigs. The more expansive of the pair is the nine-disc box set Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings, which features all 72 songs the band performed during their three-night residency at the legendary San Francisco venue on November 9th, 10th, and 11th, 1973.

Highlights on Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings include: "Me & Bobby McGee," "Don't Ease Me In," "China Cat Sunflower," "I Know You Rider," "Here Comes Sunshine," "Greatest Story Ever Told," "Eyes Of The World," "China Doll," "Deal," "Mexicali Blues," "Tennessee Jed," "El Paso," "Uncle John's Band," "Stella Blue," "Truckin'," "Sugar Magnolia," "Casey Jones," "Ramble On Rose," "Loose Lucy," "Weather Report Suite: Prelude/Part I/Part II (Let It Grow)" and "Dark Star."

Also released is To Terrapin: Hartford '77, recorded on May 28th, 1977 at the Hartford Civic Center and featuring the band's classic '70s lineup of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and Keith and Donna Godchaux. During the show the band previewed soon-to-be classic tracks from their Terrapin Station album, which was released the following July.

The complete tracklisting for To Terrapin: Hartford '77 is: "Bertha," "Good Lovin'," "Sugaree," "Jack Straw," "Row Jimmy," "New Minglewood Blues," "Candyman," "Passenger," "Brown-Eyed Woman," "Promised Land," "Samson And Delilah," "Tennessee Jed," "Estimated Prophet," "Playing In The Band," "Terrapin Station," "Drums," "Not Fade Away," "Wharf Rat," "Playing In The Band," "One More Saturday Night," and "U.S. Blues."

Mickey Hart takes delight in releasing the Dead's vault tapes and turning fans on to shows that have only existed on less-than-perfect sounding bootlegs: "Oh, it's very exciting because we can revisit all these marvelous moments, you know, and shine it all up, and let the people who have never really heard it really get a chance to savor this music, so it is quite exciting. There's been a lot of demand for it, and we'll keep releasing it as long as the people want it. You know, it just keeps on flowing. There's more demand now for it than ever."

The Dead, featuring Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, along with guitarist Warren Haynes and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, kick off their 22-date tour on April 12th in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moonalice - Next Live Twittercast - Saturday night 4/11/09 from Redwood City, CA!!!


Back by popular demand!!!

Saturday night's show from the Little Fox in Redwood City will be twittercast live. The procedure will be the same as last Friday. Just follow the band on Twitter for updates and links to songs. It's incredibly easy: just go to and press the follow button.

Leave reality at the door and spend a night with the Tribe!!!

Tom Rush releases first studio album in 35 years

VIENNA, Virginia – Tom Rush says he's the biggest slacker in folk music. It took him 35 years to release his latest CD, "What I Know."

He blames a combination of "sloth," "inertia" and trouble landing a record deal for the long delay.

The 68-year-old Rush was touring most of those years, except for the time he tried farming.

While Rush co-wrote seven of the 15 tracks on the album, he's primarily known for being an interpreter of other artists' music. He was the first to record songs by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne. Taylor has even credited Rush with his career. But Rush has never become as famous as those whose songs he sings.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Original Beatles digitally remastered

LONDON (Reuters) – The original Beatles catalog has been digitally remastered for the first time and will go on sale in CD format on September 9, the band's record label and company announced Tuesday.

The release will coincide with the launch of "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game, the British quartet's first major leap into the world of digital music.

The catalog will not be available online for the foreseeable future, although the digital remastering is widely seen as bringing that process one step closer.

"Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalog will continue," a statement issued on behalf of record label EMI and Beatles company Apple Corps Ltd said.

"There is no further information available at this time."

Fans of arguably the world's most successful pop band, with album sales of more than 600 million worldwide, are eager for the Beatles to release the catalog online.

The group is one of the few big acts left whose music is not available on Apple Inc's iTunes, but the settlement of a trademark dispute between Apple Inc and Apple Corps Ltd in 2007 was seen as finally clearing the way.

The new collection comprises 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in Britain, and "Magical Mystery Tour," which became part of the Beatles' core catalog when the CDs were released in 1987.

In addition the collections "Past Masters Vol. I and II" are combined as one title, making up 14 titles overall.

"This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc," the statement said.

The 14 albums will be available for purchase individually or together in a stereo boxed set.

For the specialist collector, there will be another boxed set called "The Beatles in Mono" which combines all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release.

The albums were remastered by a team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over four years using up-to-date recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

Music Review: Young tackles bailouts on new CD

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press Writer Scott Bauer, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 54 mins ago

Neil Young, "Fork in the Road" (Reprise)

Give Neil Young credit for following his muse.

Throughout his storied career, Young has never been one to shy away from the idiosyncratic project, whether his fans want to come along or not.

On his latest, the hastily written and recorded "Fork in the Road," Young takes on the hot topics of the day. He sings about electric cars, green energy, bailouts and even his own career.

"I'm a big rock star," Young drolly sings over a thumping blues beat on the title track, the best song on the record. "My sales have tanked, but I still got you. Thanks!"

It's a very funny song. How could it not be when Young starts it off by talking about his pot belly?

Funny, yes. But just because it's funny doesn't mean it can stand alongside Young's best work, or that it will stand the test of time. That's the problem with topical records like "Fork in the Road."

And then there's songs like "Fuel Line" with lyrics extolling the virtues of electric cars that come off as borderline silly: "The awesome power of electricity, stored for you in a giant battery."

"Fork in the Road" takes on the issues of the day much like 2006's "Living With War" did, but only in a kinder, gentler way.

While on the earlier record Young was venting his anger and frustration over President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, on "Fork in the Road" the most vitriol Young hurls is at fat cats on Wall Street.

"There's a bailout coming but it's not for me," Young sings on the title track. "It's for all those creeps watching tickers on TV."

Go get 'em, Neil.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: It only takes one listen to Young spitting out the chorus to "Cough Up the Bucks" to have it stuck in your head for hours. And Young taps into questions that a lot of people are likely having in this time of government bailouts and recession: "Where did all the cash flow? Where did all the money go? Cough up the bucks!"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Here's the press release:



* * * * *



It's one small step for man, but one giant step for music. Moonalice, the Bay Area act that features musical all-stars including GE Smith and Barry Sless, is going where no band has gone before – a real-time Twitter concert. Always at the forefront of the latest digital developments, Moonalice will post their upcoming CD release show and party on April 3rd at Slim’s in San Francisco at . Immediately following each song during the show, Moonalice’s sound team will take that song's audio, digitize it, upload it and “Tweet” about its availability—all before the group finishes playing the very next song. This is the first time that any artist has broadcast a concert in real time on the Twitter platform.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams says, “We are amazed by all the new ways people are using Twitter and what Moonalice is doing exemplifies this to the core. Twittering a live show is a new and profoundly cool way for a band to reach its fan base and beyond and we hope to see more of this as bands see the value of connecting to their audience in new ways.”

In addition to Smith (Saturday Night Live house band, Hall & Oates, Bob Dylan) and Sless (David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh & Friends), Moonalice includes veteran players Pete Sears (Rod Stewart, Jefferson Starship), Ann McNamee (Flying Other Brothers, Ann Atomic), Jimmy Sanchez (Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt), Roger McNamee (Flying Other Brothers) and occasional seventh member Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna).

On April 14th, 2009, Moonalice will release their self-titled debut studio effort. The band entrusted legendary producer T Bone Burnett to help transform the highly regarded Moonalice live act into a gem of studio wizardry. Burnett recently won both “Record of the Year” and “Album of the Year” Grammy Awards for his work on Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand. Listeners are sure to notice the sound quality of Moonalice, due not only to its sterling musicianship and exceptional production, but also because it features Burnett’s innovative new XOΔE (CODE in Greek letters) mastering technology. In addition to the CD, the DVD-V is packed with a high-resolution stereo version (24-bit/96 kHz), as well as optimized MP3, AAC and FLAC formats, plus two music videos. The entire package comes at the price of a regular, single CD.

In addition to their Twitter CD release show, Moonalice is currently racking up the miles on a nationwide 2009 tour (see for full schedule). At every show, the audience receives a free, limited edition poster, as well as local updates to the Moonalice legend. All posters are four-color offset lithographs, created by San Francisco’s finest poster artists.

For more information, visit:

To find Moonalice on Twitter, visit:

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Erik Stein