The Deuce. The latest project from David Simon and George Pelecanos (The Wire, Treme) is set in and around Times Square in 1971. It stars James Franco as Vincent and Frankie Martino, twin brothers, who, through a series of events, become front men for the Mob amidst the growing porn industry operating in the city. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Eileen ‘Candy’ Merrell, a sex worker who sees the growing adult film industry as her ticket to making real money. Collectively and individually, they run across mobsters, pimps, prostitutes, cops and thrill seekers that converge on the crossroads of the world. Simon and Pelecanos are in peak form, adding texture and dimension to each character without falling into easy stereotypes. Franco, who is also aboard as executive producer and directs two episodes, is excellent as the twin bothers with contrasting personalities. Vincent is a hard working father with a wayward wife, who, despite knowing better, truly is his brother’s keeper. Frankie is reckless and impulsive, staying two steps ahead of the people he owes money to and sees this opportunity to clear the slate once and for all. Gyllenhaal – also an executive producer – is terrific as Candy, whose employs her entrepreneurial instincts as a prostitute into the adult film world. With finely detailed set designs, strong cast and a killer soundtrack, The Deuce is poised to be the next series to come out of the HBO canon. The Deuce premieres Sunday, September 10th at 9pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Greatest Hits Live by Steve Winwood. Hard to believe that after over 50 years in the business – including 40 as a solo artist – Steve Winwood has finally released his first solo live album. Winwood personally selected the tracks from his personal archive of performances and it covers everything from his days with The Spencer Davis Group (‘I’m A Man’); Blind Faith (‘Had To Cry Today’, ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’); a healthy dose of Traffic material (‘Dear Mr Fantasy’, ‘Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys’, ‘Glad’, ‘Medicated Goo’, ‘John Barleycorn’); solo hits (‘While You See A Chance’, ‘Higher Love’, ‘Back In The High Life Again’, ‘Arc Of A Diver’) and choice covers (‘Them Changes’, ‘Why We Can’t Live Together’). There’s so many things that you take from this collection: For one, just how many exceptional songs Winwood’s has written over the years. Then there’s his vocals, which has lost zero of its power and still in rich form. Finally, there’s the musicianship, with Winwood anchoring a crack band with him singing and playing sublime Hammond B-3, lead and rhythm guitar. There’s a reason why some of the greatest names in rock have wanted to, or have worked with Winwood – he’s one of the best the game has ever offered. A much deserved victory lap that serves as both a refresher and a reminder of his brilliance. Winwood Greatest Hits Live is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to www.stevewinwood.com for more information.
American Dream by LCD Soundsystem. This Brooklyn based dance-punk rock band were just starting to gain full scale national traction when they decided to call it quits in 2011. Their farewell shows at New York’s Terminal 5 – and all night blowout at Madison Square Garden became legendary. The accompanying film, Shut Up And Play The Hits is considered by many as an instant classic. It seemed like the perfect way to put an end to a successful 10 year run. But the band – led by James Murphy – shocked everyone by reforming in 2016 for a series of festival shows. Now they are back with a new album that takes the group into new sonic terrains. Heavily influenced by groups such as Talking Heads, Public Image Limited, Low-era Bowie, Kraftwerk and early U2, LCD presents an extended song cycle that awash in dense synths, pulsating rhythms and distorted Adrian Belew-like guitars. Sounding like the soundtrack to the downtown New York scene that is long gone, Murphy and Co. have put together their finest work to date. One of the year’s best. American Dream by LCD Soundsystem is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all major music retailers.
Hitchhiker by Neil Young. On August 11, 1976, Neil Young and his long time producer David Briggs entered Indigo Studios in Malibu to cut what was supposed to a few demos for his next project. When the sessions ended, he had an album’s worth of songs in the can. It was worthy enough to be the next album but Young, as he done with other efforts, decided to shelve it. Through the years, tracks from these sessions have found its way through various bootlegs, but Young fans have longed for the album, called Hitchhiker, to get a formal release. Now as part of Young’s ongoing archives series, Hitchhiker will finally be available. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, Young gives stripped down versions of Rust Never Sleeps staples, Powerfinger, Pochatanas, Ride My Llama; Campaigner (which ended up on the Decade compilation), and the future Comes A Time track ‘Human Highway’. There’s also two songs that have yet to appear on any Neil Young album: ‘Hawaii’ and the hymn-like ‘Give Me Strength’. It’s Neil Young unplugged long before it became a TV show and captures him at a songwriting peak. Why this album sat on the shelf for as long as it did is anyone’s guess. A long lost gem finally gets to shine. Hitchhiker by Neil Young will be available on September 8th, through Amazon, iTunes and all major music outlets.
Studio 54 by Ian Schrager. It was only open for 3 years, but Studio 54 still holds a special place for those who were fortunate to get in, and for those who long for place where ‘anything goes’. Co-owner Steve Rubell was the club’s public face acting as cheerleader, instigator and hype man for what seemed like a non-stop party. But it was his partner Ian Schrager who kept it all together behind the scenes, managing the books and its archives. Now for the first time, Schrager tells his side of the story in the first official first hand account of what happened at 54. It’s full of never before seen photographs and stories and accounts from some of its most famous patrons including Liza Minelli, David Geffen, Diane Von Fursternberg and more. It gloriously captures the New York dance scene at its most daring and outrageous, as celebrities partied alongside some of the city’s most colorful characters. At nearly 400 pages, it’s the definitive look at a club and a moment that will likely never be repeated. Studio 54 by Ian Schrager is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
The Mudd Club by Richard Boch. Named after the doctor who treated Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, The Mudd Club initially opened to counter to the more glitzy Studio 54. Several of 54’s attendees eventually would wind up there and it also became the final destination for punks, poets and visual artists. The Mudd Club also showcased some of the best bands that emerged from the New Wave, No Wave and punk scene including Talking Heads, Blondie, and The B52s, among others. It would eventually develop a tough door policy and hired Richard Boch, who was only a few years removed from graduating college, to be the doorman. He got a front row seat to an epicenter of the downtown Manhattan arts scene that is now the stuff of legend. Boch’s new memoir recalls his days at the door, its regulars and the many celebrities who as he recalls, passed through, passed out and, for some, passed on. Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, John Belushi, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Madonna (who was dating Basquiat at the time), Johnny Rotten and The Hells Angels are just some of the notables who make appearances in this highly entertaining tome. Told in a style and a pace that is synonymous with the city, it’s a honest, moving look at the New York City downtown arts scene. The Mudd Club by Richard Boch is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City. Seaport Music Festival. Formed in 2002, The Seaport Music Festival was designed to showcase some of the city’s best indie bands and artists and encourage people to visit The South Street Seaport in the wake of 9/11. It’s had its share of ups and downs, but now 15 years strong, it remains a staple of summer concert season. This year’s lineup includes Ted Leo and The Pharamacicsts, Jean Grae, The Make-Up, The Wolfmanhattan Project (featuring members of The Dirtbombs, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Cramps and Sonic Youth) and much more. It will also include a performance by Martin Rev, making one of his first post-Suicide appearances following the death of bandmate Alan Vega. In addition to live music, there will comedy, film screenings and much more. The best part is that its all free. A great way to officially wind down the summer season. The Seaport Music Festival will take place through September 10th. You can go to http://www.seaportmusicfestival.com/ for a complete rundown of events and much more.
New York City: Peace: Love, Rock and Revolution. While he was best known for his iconic photos of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Cash (among many others), the late Jim Marshall always saw himself as an anthropologist and a journalist. From 1961 to 1968, he captured images of the peace sign as it evolved from its specific anti-nuclear stance to an international symbol for global harmony. A collection of these photos are the focus of a new exhibit at the ACA Galleries in Chelsea. Whether it was street graffiti on a New York subway or buttons pinned to students, iMarshall always made it a point to turn it into an iconic shot. Also included in this exhibition are photos from The Summer Of Love in San Francisco and ‘American Civics’, artist Shepherd Fairey’s re-interpretations of Marshall’s memorable shots of Johnny Cash, Cesar Chavez, and Fannie Lee Chaney. It’s a fitting salute and epitaph to one of the greatest to ever pick up the camera. Peace: Love, Rock And Revolution will be at the ACA Galleries through September 30th. You can also go to http://www.acagalleries.com/ for more information.
Los Angeles: The Muppets Take The Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl will be bright, fuzzy and furry as The Muppets come through for a three night stand. Bobby Moynihan will host as Miss Piggy, Kermit The Frog, Gonzo, Fozzie, among others will hold court will classic songs and vignettes from the TV series and films – all backed by The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Capping off the night will be a special performance by Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem and a fireworks display set off by everyone’s favorite pyro addict, Crazy Harry. The evening wouldn’t be complete with Staler and Waldoft making wisecracks from the balcony. Bring the kids or just act like one – this is going to be a fun night. The Muppets Take The Bowl will be at The Hollywood Bowl September 8th through the 10th. You can also go to www.hollywoodbowl.com for tickets and additional information.