<p>Nick Lowe</p>

Nick Lowe

Credit: Dan Burn

Nick Lowe muses on Elvis Costello, Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash, groupies

Hitfix spends an evening with the British gentleman at the Grammy Museum

If British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe hadn’t made it as a musician, he could have had a great career as a raconteur. His gift for telling a witty story was on grand display Tuesday night, Aug. 16, as the 200-seat Grammy Museum in Los Angeles hosted “An Evening With Nick Lowe.” 

I interviewed Lowe in New York when I was at Billboard for his 1995 album, “The Impossible Bird.” I remember it well and it remains one of my favorite times with an artist. It was a cold January evening, the night of the Super Bowl. We were the only two people who seemingly didn’t care about the game. He was staying at the now gone Mayflower Hotel on the edge of Central Park. We sat in the hotel bar, the Conservatory, for hours, while the game played on a TV screen behind us, neither one of us paying any attention.

He regaled me with stories, the vast majority of which never made my article simply because there were so many witty and charming tales to choose from. There was something endearingly humble about Lowe. I asked him how many people he thought bought the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” because Curtis Stigers’ cover of Lowe’s “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding’ was on it. Without missing a beat, he told me “I’m 110% sure that none did. I’ve had a lot of people come up at shows with my records to sign from all over the world...and not one person has shoved a copy of ‘The Bodyguard’ under my nose and asked me to sign it.”
Last night, Lowe, one of modern music’s finest purveyors of power pop, discussed his early days with British pub-rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, producing the likes of Elvis Costello, being Johnny Cash’s son-in-law, and his new album, “The Old Magic,” out Sept. 13 on Yep Roc. It follows his critically acclaimed 2007 set, “At My Age.”

He performed two songs from the forthcoming set — the wry “A Sensitive Man,” and the achingly sad “I Read A Lot,” as well as a crowd-pleasing rendition of his biggest—and only— U.S. Top 40 hit, “Cruel To Be Kind.”

Below are highlights from the evening. 

On his surprising earliest influence: Tennessee Ernie Ford. “In that era, everyone had six records. My Mom had Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, ‘South Pacific.’” Plus, two Tennessee Ernie Ford albums. “One of them was ‘This Lusty Land’...He sounded like he was from another planet.”

On songwriting: After joining Brinsley Schwarz at a time “when anyone who could string together a few chords could get a deal.” Though it was still an era where acts often relied on outside songwriters,  Lowe says, “I figured out if you want to have any longtime career you have to write your own songs.” He learned to write by copying his favorite songwriter. Then he'd copy his second favorite songwriter. “You drop in a little of the first one,” he says. Then you copy your third favorite songwriter and drop in elements of the first and the second, and before you know it, you’ve created your own “stew.”  “I remember the day I had my first original [song idea]. I was astonished. It’s a song I still do to this day: ‘What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding’.” He paused and then clarified, “A little bit was pinched from ‘Jesus Was a Crossmaker’ by Judee Sill.”

On producing Elvis Costello:  “Elvis brought a tape into Stiff [Records, where Lowe was staff producer] I wasn’t that attracted at the start. I thought there were too many words, too many chords,” Lowe recalled. “When I started producing him, I was El Jefe: ‘This has got to go! You can make three songs out of this one!’ That didn’t last very long. It was terrific.” When asked what he brought to Costello as his producer, Lowe said, “I really can’t remember doing anything. He had a fabulous group, The Attractions. They were volatile. I spent a lot of time trying to mend fences. That’s what I enjoyed.” He added that when producing became “a science, I went off it. I’m not a knob twiddler.”

On his “brief career as a pop star”:
“Cruel To Be Kind” hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the U.K. in 1979, where Lowe also had a No. 7 record in “I Love The Sound Of Broken Glass,”  and for a period of three to four years, Lowe enjoyed the spoils of fame, including “gorgeous Italian birds who wanted to go out with me simply because I was on the telly.” But by the time his 15 minutes of fame wound down, he was ready. “I was very ill. I was pretty much an alcoholic and all the other clap-trap.”

On his father-in-law Johnny Cash: Lowe was married to Cash’s step-daughter, Carlene Carter, for 11 years. “Johnny Cash said, ‘Nick, all you gotta do is be yourself.’ I was like, ‘Who the hell wants to see that?’ But it’s true...He was a lovely bloke. He was kind of uncool, which made me love him even more...he was kind. I thought he was the most charismatic man in world until I met Solomon Burke.”

On Rockpile’s underwhelming ambition: Despite the critical acclaim heaped upon Rockpile, the rockabilly/power pop band he formed with Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams in the late ‘70s, Lowe says the band never took itself too seriously or had great desire to be stars. “We were our own worst enemies. We couldn’t hack it. We liked being the opening act. As [the headliners] were taking the stage, we’d be off to the Arapahoe Inn by the airport with third division groupies.”

On showing a little respect, please:Elton John, Cher, Barry Manilow: you have to take your hat off to these people. It’s extremely hard to keep a career going [that long]  and to stay healthy. Most people have two hits and it’s back to the biscuit factory."


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<p>Keith Urban in &quot;Long Hot Summer&quot;</p>

Keith Urban in "Long Hot Summer"

Watch: Keith Urban's got his toes in the sand for 'Long Hot Summer' video

Enjoy while there are still a few weeks left

Jump in, the water’s fine. Before we say goodbye to summer, Keith Urban is giving us one last longing look at what we’ll miss for the next several months.

In the video for “Long Hot Summer,” he celebrates love and sand between your toes. He and his band play on the beach (as with most videos set in the desert or beach, we just have to suspend disbelief that there are no outlets anywhere in sight to plug in their equipment) as two pretty young things roll down the coast highway in a convertible. They’re meeting their beaus, who are surfing. (As first, we thought one of the surfers was perhaps Urban, but it’s another shaggy-haired, pretty boy).

[More after the jump...]

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Listen: Lady Antebellum's new song, 'We Owned The Night'

Listen: Lady Antebellum's new song, 'We Owned The Night'

Will it be as big a hit as 'Just A Kiss?'

Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night,” out Sept. 13, is already off to a good start with kick-off single, the honey sweet “Just A Kiss” landing at No. 1 on the country charts.

Second single, “We Owned The Night,” which features Charles Kelley singing lead, just hit iTunes and radio. While I was in the minority, I found “Just A Kiss” a little too treacly.  “We Owned The Night,” with its driving guitar and anthemic themes of love and loss has a great Keith Urban-type feel. My favorite Lady A tunes feature Kelley and Hillary Scott singing together, such as on “Run To You” or “Need You Now,” but I’m a big fan of Kelley’s solo vocals (though Scott does some nice harmonies here). I predict this one’s going straight to No. 1 and is going to be a live favorite. It’s one of Kelley’s best vocals since “Love Don’t Live Here.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Joe Jonas</p>

Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas and Jay Sean set co-headlining tour before Jonas heads out with Britney

Jonas and Sean both have new albums out in the fall

Joe Jonas and Jay Sean will hit the road for a 19-city club tour starting Sept. 6 at Boston’s House of Blues.

The outing will support Jonas’s first solo album, “FastLife,” which comes out Oct. 11. First single, “See No More” featuring Chris Brown came and went. Jonas just released new single, “Love Slayer.” Following the conclusion of his co-headlining tour with Sean, he’ll head to Europe to open select dates for Britney Spears starting in October. Joe will appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Aug. 22.

His sibling, and fellow Jonas Brother, Nick, put out his side project, “Who I Am,” credited to Nick Jonas & The Administration, in February 2010. That set peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.  Third, and eldest, brother Kevin, has long rumored to be working on a solo album, but so far there’s no update on that. The last Jonas Bros. album, “Lines, Vines, and Trying Times,” came out in June 2009.

Sean is touring to support his fourth Cash Money/Universal Republic album, “Freeze Time,” out Nov. 22.

September 6        Boston, MA        House of Blues
September 7        Upper Darcy, PA        Tower Theatre
September 10        Toronto, ON        The Sound Academy
September 11        Cleveland, OH        House of Blues
September 12        Chicago, IL        House of Blues
September 15        Minneapolis, MN        First Avenue
September 17        Denver, CO        Fillmore
September 19         San Francisco, CA        Warfield
September 20        Los Angeles, CA        The Wiltern
*September 21        Pomona, CA        Fox Theater
*September 24        Scottsdale, AZ        Venue of Scottsdale
September 26        Houston, TX        House of Blues
September 28        Austin, TX        ACL Live
September 29        Dallas, TX        House of Blues

October 1        Tampa, FL        Venue TBD
October 2        Lake Buena Vista, FL    House of Blues
October 3        Atlanta, GA        Tabernacle
October 5        Silver Spring, MD        Fillmore Silver Spring
October 6        New York, NY        Best Buy Theater


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Sugarland plans memorial service in Indiana to honor concert victims
Credit: AP Photo

Sugarland plans memorial service in Indiana to honor concert victims

Read their letter to their fans

Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush took to their website for their longest comments yet about the stage crash that killed five people right before the band took the stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis on Aug. 13.  The group, which hopes to resume its tour this Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M.,  plans to hold a private memorial in Indiana.

The band narrowly averted being on stage as it collapsed.

Below is Sugarland’s letter in its entirety.

Dear Fans, Family and Friends,

We have taken a couple of days to try and even begin to emotionally process the magnitude and gravity of the tragedy in Indiana on Saturday. While the path to healing from this type of trauma and loss is long and winding, we wanted to reach out and update you on where we are and how we are.

We are in the process of planning a private memorial in Indiana, to honor those fans who died. We would first like to hold space so that their families can have time to go through their own services and memorials. Until that time we are holding vigil for them. We join them on their mourning benches. And we stand in the gap asking God to offer them peace and healing. For those suffering from injury we hold you up with prayers for complete healing of your own.

We are also addressing our own specific healing. Our road family experienced its traumas together. While we all scattered to our given families for their comfort, the trauma we experienced together binds us in a unique way that we share only with each other, and those who were there. There is healing in our being together. There is healing in our working together. For this reason we are planning to get back on the road this weekend, beginning with our scheduled show in Albuquerque this Thursday, August 18th. The emotions have us yearning to be close to each other immediately. The logistics have us needing to replace all of our instruments and equipment. (The set is a loss that is insignificant in light of the tragedy.)

This Incredible Machine is more than a tour and more than a set. We have always celebrated music as a Healer. While music cannot change the events and losses at the Indiana State Fair, it can hopefully serve as a ritual and a balm to provide comfort and facilitate healing in this time of great sorrow. We hope to see you all soon.




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Watch: Jason DeRulo's new video for 'It Girl'

Watch: Jason DeRulo's new video for 'It Girl'

A beautiful lady, a mansion, some champagne. What more could you want?

Jason DeRulo is ready to commit, ladies. He’s looking for “25 to life” if you’re his “It Girl.”

The song is from DeRulo’s second album, “Future History,” which comes out Sept. 27. It follows the much catchier "Don't Wanna Go Home," which peaked at No. 14 on Billboard's Hot 100.

The Colin Tilly-directed clip, shot partially in a mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean, shows Derulo’s softer side. "For the video, I wanted it to be an open book," Derulo told MTV News. "I wanted it to be almost like a photo album, so every single scene is kind of like a picture that you're kind of looking into our relationship. So it is a 1920s vibe, it's black and white, very high fashion — you know, you'll see me very dapper in 1920s, Frank Sinatra-ish. So you'll see the cars from that era, you'll definitely feel the vibe of the house having that 1920s vibe as well. So it's very different and very intimate, and it's not a lot of dancing — it's more personal."

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Jeff Bridges latest album, &quot;Jeff Bridges.&quot;</p>

Jeff Bridges latest album, "Jeff Bridges."


Review: Does Jeff Bridges make Bad Blake proud on his debut album?

T Bone Burnett brings out the best in the 'Crazy Heart' actor

Is Jeff Bridges’ new self-titled album a case of life imitating art? Given that he won an Oscar last year for playing down-and-out country singer Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart,”  it’s certainly understandable that fans of the movie star might think he’s simply continuing on that musical trajectory.

The truth is Bridges has been making music as long, if not longer, than he’s been acting. At a concert at Los Angeles’ legendary club The Troubadour last month, Quincy Jones introduced Bridges by telling a story about using a song written by a then 17-year old Bridges and his brother Beau on the soundtrack for 1969's "John & Mary." Prior to this, his Blue Note Records debut, Bridges released an album, "Be Here Soon," in 2000 on Ramp Records, a label he started with Michael McDonald.

That ease of having made music for decades is evident on the set, out Aug. 16, as Bridges sounds right at home. Some of that also comes from producer T Bone Burnett bolstering Bridges’ performance with absolute top-shelf musicians, including Marc Ribot’s delightfully expressive guitar work, Jay Bellarose’s always on point drumming, and Dennis Crouch’s tasteful bass. Bridges and Burnett, or “Bone, as Bridges calls him, have been friends for more than 30 years and, in fact, each agreed to work on “Crazy Heart” only if the other one would participate.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Eddie Vedder</p>

Eddie Vedder

Listen: Pearl Jam's version of Mother Love Bone's 'Crown of Thorns'

Song is first tune released from 'Pearl Jam 20' soundtrack

Pearl Jam’s soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s documentary about the band, “Pearl Jam 20,” won’t be out until Sept. 20, but today, the Seattle group released its cover of Mother Love Bone’s “Crown of Thorns.”

Mother Love Bone ended with lead singer Andrew Wood’s fatal overdose in 1990. Pearl Jam was then born partially out the remnants with MLB bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard forming the band.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga's 'You And I' video bows Aug. 18: Where can you see it?

Plus, check out the latest image from the video

Lady Gaga’s heels are made for walking, and that’s just what she’s doing in the new video for “You And I.” The clip for the latest single from LG’s “Born This Way” album officially bows on MTV at 7:50 EDT on Thursday, Aug. 18.

In the meantime, Momma Monster teased us with some new images today, tweeting a shot of dirty and bleeding feet in stilettos (the still made our feet hurt just looking at it) on her website.

As we already know from an interview Lady Gaga gave a few weeks ago to an Omaha station, the theme of Nebraska-shot video is that our protagonist has walked from New York City to Nebraska to get her beau back. She’s broken and bleeding, but won’t give up. “The idea [is] when you’re away from someone that you love, it’s torture. I knew I wanted the video to be about sprinting back and walking hundreds of thousands of miles to get him back,” she says.

Plus, as Hitfix previously posted, the covers for the single features Lady Gaga’s alter-ego Jo Calderone, a side-burned, smoking, androgynous, presumably male creature. Will Calderone appear in the video for “You And I?” Who knows. We’ll find out on Thursday.

In other Gaga news, because there is ALWAYS other Gaga news, the superstar has teamed with Barneys for the holiday-themed "Gaga's Workshop" at the landmark New York retail outlet, starting in mid-November. It will be Santa's Workshop as seen through Lady Gaga's eyes. We can't wait to see what those elves have to wear. Plus, she'll help design the store's legendary Christmas windows.

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<p>Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto</p>

Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto

New Coldplay album, 'Mylo Xyloto' drops Oct. 25

When is second single, 'Paradise' out?

Can it possibly be a good thing when the title of a new album needs a pronunciation guide?  We’ve known it was coming this fall, but now we have a drop date for Coldplay’s fifth studio album: “Mylo Xyloto” will come out Oct. 25 in the U.S. (Oct. 24 in the rest of the world). Makes you yearn for the days of “X &Y,” doesn’t it?

“Mylo Xyloto” (pronounced my-lo zyletoe), out on Capitol Records, is the British group’s first since 2008’s Grammy-winning “Vida La Vida.”  The album, available in digital, CD, and vinyl formats (including a 180-gram vinyl edition and a Pop-Up Album version with a hardback book), was produced by Markus Davs, Daniel Green and Rik Simpson. Plus, Brian Eno is credited with “enoxification and additional composition.” Yeah, it’s a made-up wordl, but we love that Eno is so well-known for his dense, atmospheric production style that we kind of know exactly what “enoxification” sounds like.

The CD features “reversible” color art, meaning 50% of the CDS will be packaged with the full color artwork for the cover, while the other 50% will come with the CD booklet flipped  with  a die-cut sheet featuring the silver initials “M X” over the color image.

Much more importantly, the second single, “Paradise,” comes out Sept. 12, and follows “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”

Coldplay continues its tour of major festivals with the Austin (Texas) City Limits Festival, Sept. 16. Here is my colleague Katie Hasty’s stellar review of Coldplay’s headlining Lollapalooza show last week.


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