Entertainment behind the scenes
It’s a phrase often applied to the Glastonbury music festival, where the combination of some 180,000 people, rain and 900 acres of grassy fields in an English valley can produce an awful lot of the stuff.
At only my second Glastonbury after last year’s sun-baked edition, the rain and mud has come as a bit of a shock. Of course I’m careful who I complain to at the festival – veterans merely shrug their shoulders and say something like “nothing compared to …” and name a year when the conditions were particularly unpleasant.
Getting from one venue to the next is not easy at the best of times in Glastonbury, with crowds and a poor sense of direction often getting in my way. Now it takes at least twice as long as I trudge through sticky, squelchy mud and try to avoid the kind of messy belly flops I’ve seen performed – mostly accidentally – by fellow festival goers.
Keeping the tent from turning into a mud bath is another challenge, and taking notes in the rain a further frustration.
Grammy organizers are turning the clock back more than two decades by deciding to slash the number of categories at next year’s awards ceremony to 78 from 102. It marks the smallest field since 1990, when music industry voters infamously named pioneering lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli best new artist.
In a logical move, many vaguely similar categories are being combined — traditional blues and contemporary blues (the latter won this year by Buddy Guy, pictured at left); traditional folk and contemporary folk; hard rock and metal; banda and norteno; children’s musical and spoken word.
Kenny Rogers is either the most self-deprecating star in showbiz, or he’s a much better actor than he lets on his multitude of “Gambler” TV movies.
Despite a hugely successful career spanning more than 50 years, Rogers says he’s largely an untalented, unmotivated guy who just got lucky. Over and over again, during a hilariously revealing Q&A at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday, the bearded storyteller did his very best to shoot gaping holes in his legend. To wit:
If you have trouble remembering the days of the week, a teen pop starlet named Rebecca Black has come to your rescue with an annoyingly catchy song that has quickly made her the hottest — and most lampooned — phenomenon on the Web. Black was a top-trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday, while her video for “Friday” racked up almost eight million page views in a matter of days.
The comments have been savage, ruthless dissections of the girl herself, her bubblegum pop song and the cheesy video. “Not joking. Worst lyrics I have ever heard. Ever. Yet so addictive,” was one of the kinder critiques.
Rough-and-tumble rockers The White Stripes called it quits earlier this week, much to the dismay of garage rock fans everywhere. But it’s not as if this news comes as a huge surprise. For the past several years, frontman Jack White has been getting busy with almost everyone but his red-and-white-clad Stripes bandmate, Meg.
For starters, White has played in his other two bands, The Ranconteurs and The Dead Weather. He also starred alongside U2 guitarist The Edge and Led Zeppelin’s legendary axeman Jimmy Page in 2008′s critically acclaimed music film, “It Might Get Loud”, and collaborated with comedian Conan O’Brien on a spoken-word comedy record during the latter’s temporary stint last year as a late-night refugee. As if that’s not enough, White continues to run his own record label, Third Man.
“The Lady in Red” singer Chris de Burgh has decided to cash in on surging prices for fine wines, offering 320 bottles and 84 magnums of mainly red varieties at Christie’s in March which are expected to fetch in the region of 200,000 pounds ($320,000).
“Looking at the economics of the wine trade and how the business of selling wine fluctuates, I decided now was the right time,” he said in a statement. Not surprising — Asian buyers, particularly from China, have piled into the wine market in the last two years sending prices soaring. Christie’s sold wine worth $71.2 million in 2010, a whopping 70 percent increase over 2009, and fellow musician Andrew Lloyd Webber made a cool 3.5 million pounds from a much larger wine sale in Hong Kong last month.
He’s leader of the pack in terms of BRIT nominations tonight, but can London rapper Tinie Tempah convert them into prizes when the awards ceremony is held on Feb. 15? Bookmakers would have us believe that British pop’s biggest night could be one of disappointment, not delirium, with Ladbrokes backing the 22-year-old to scoop just one of his four nods, and arguably the least prestigious of them all — Best Breakthrough Act.
Not that the category is unimportant — a BRIT is a BRIT after all, and, after a Grammy, perhaps music’s most coveted statuette. But when you think that Tempah is in the running for best male solo, best British single and, most important of all, best British album, a Breakthrough prize alone may not be enough to keep him happy.
It has been around 35 years since Punk burst onto the rock scene and drove the complex, shoe-staring indulgence that is prog rock into seeming oblivion with no more than three, probably untuned chords. Signs are, though, that prog may be on the way back.
First, mainstream media has started to get all retrospective about it — a sure sign of resurgence. The BBC ”celebrated” prog — or progressive rock, to give it its proper name — with a nostalgic documentary at the end of 2008. It has been repeated and triggered coverage of the genre elsewhere. The Guardian recently pointed to prog’s new, growing fan base.
As a first-time Glastonbury-goer, I travelled to this year’s event with some trepidation. After all, I had to pitch my own tent, find my way around a massive site with hundreds of bands playing on dozens of stages, get enough food and water to live, and face the infamous portable toilet facilities that have a habit of overflowing as 150,000-plus revellers relieve themselves.
As the event reaches its conclusion tonight, with Stevie Wonder the headline act, I can safely say I would do it all again. Joining 100,000 or so people jumping up and down to the likes of Shakira, Scissor Sisters and Muse at the main Pyramid stage is something to remember, as is the infectious feel-good vibe that seems to fill the air despite the concentration of so many people in relatively small spaces. Of course, the smiling faces may have as much to do with alcohol and illegal substances as good music, but it doesn’t seem to matter as people enter an alternative universe for four days.
Music, beer and wellington boots tend to top Glastonbury revellers’ must-have list. This year they have added another essential commodity — shade. Baking hot temperatures in the high 20s Celsius are reducing many of the 150,000 revellers in the southwest of England to a lethargic crawl as they struggle to cope with the heat, not to mention the hangover.
Walk around the sprawling rural site and you will see unusually large empty spaces and then hundreds of people seemingly randomly crammed in odd places — against walls, around trees in the middle of dusty tracks and under benches. Then it becomes clear why — they have found shade from the sun, which has been beating down on the site virtually uninterrupted for the last two days.