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Early Kate Wolf Festival 2010 Lineup Announced

Posted by: on Jan 26, 2010 | Comments (0)

Those who make the annual drive up to Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville for the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival won’t be disappointed by the early acts confirmed for this year’s fest. Scheduled to appear so far are the Neville Brothers, Ani Di Franco, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Greg Brown, the Waifs, the David Grisman, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Baka Beyond, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, John McCutcheon, Po’ Girl, Poor Man’s Whiskey, and “more to name in the near future,” writes Cloud Moss, the event’s longtime coordinator.

Update: Carrie Rodriguez, Charlie Musselwhite, Hot Buttered Rum, John McCutcheon, Rosalie Sorrels and Blame Sally added! But, the Neville Brothers canceled. Little Feat have taken their place!

Presale tickets are on sale now; the official festival website is here.

John Prine to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11

Posted by: on Jan 25, 2010 | Comments (0)

John Prine, the lovable songwriter who deserves every laurel thrown at his feet, is coming back to Santa Rosa to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11, 2010.

Presale tickets are available now by clicking here, although take note of the strange rules if you pursue this option: “Seats will be assigned at random on the day of the show, and the location of your seats will not be known until tickets are picked up at will call.”

For those who want the peace of mind of knowing where they’re sitting, tickets to the general public go on sale this Friday, Jan. 29, at noon.

The last time John Prine played in Santa Rosa, it was September 8, 2001. The twin towers still stood, as did the feeling of optimism and confidence in the economy. The venue was still called the Luther Burbank Center. We had the luxury of being able to laugh at his songs then; something tells me those same songs might cause a tinge of sadness now. He played for over two hours that night, just song after brilliant song, ending with an encore of “Paradise” joined onstage by Todd Snider. “Lake Marie” brought the house down, and he made beautiful chestnuts like “Souvenirs,” “Sam Stone” and “You Got Gold” sound shiny and new after all these years. I talked to him afterwards; he was all rosy cheeks, in a great mood, and told me the crowd was as great and responsive as any he’d played for. It was a hell of a show.

If you’ve never seen John Prine, you’re missing out on a genuine national treasure. The standing-room deal is $19.50, with tickets going up to $39.50 and $49.50 for seats. It’ll sell out easily. For more info., call 707.546.3600 or visit the Wells Fargo Center site.

The Radiohead Haiti Auction is a Vision of a Hellish Future

Posted by: on Jan 22, 2010 | Comments (3)

Most people will view this Ticketmaster auction for tickets to Radiohead’s just-announced Haiti Benefit in Los Angeles this Sunday at the Henry Fonda Theater as a unique, outside-the-model way to raise money for earthquake victims.

Look at it again. Look at it. You are looking at the future of ticketing: a straight-up auction model.

It’s especially terrifying because it makes perfect sense. Instead of short-changing their profits with fixed prices and watching tickets to sold-out shows sell for four or five times face value on the scalper’s auction market, Ticketmaster has actually developed a platform to sell tickets to the highest bidder while stunting the middlemen down the line.

This might be no big obstacle if you want to go see some low-level act like, I dunno, Matisyahu. But what if you’re a 12-year-old girl from a low-income family and you’re dying to see Beyoncé?

Already, we’ve seen VIP tickets and “Fan Experience” tickets for more in-demand arena shows sold by Ticketmaster for inflated prices. During Beyoncé’s last tour, for example, front-row tickets sold at face value for $500—roughly what could be expected from the second-hand market. (Meeting Beyoncé in person, after the show, cost $1,000.) Those hoping to luck out with an affordable ticket for a good seat still had hope.

I hope I’m wrong, but staring at this auction page feels like looking into a crystal ball of plutocracy for the future of ticket sales.

I know Radiohead is doing a charitable thing with this ticket auction, and I know that people are going to be talking about the “Radiohead model” with this ticket sale. But unlike their pay-what-you-will approach to albums, which humbled the recording industry into submission, this pay-what-you-will approach to tickets is a valuable springboard for the ticket industry, and it’s only going to put a lot more power and money into their greedy, uncaring hands.

Live Review: Green Day at the Fox Theater – Oakland, CA

Posted by: on Apr 15, 2009 | Comments (6)

Sometimes you just gottta believe.

As expected, the Internet was flooded with sleazy offers for tickets to Green Day’s last-minute show at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night, and unless you’d been quick, the situation looked grim. Luckily, between the irritating online postings asking for either $300 or for Asian girls to “send photos,” there came perpetual signs of hope on Craigslist. “Just bought 2 GA tix on Ticketmaster!” read a typical post. “Don’t pay the scalpers! Keep trying!”

Throughout the day, the faithful were rewarded with sporadic releases of tickets to the third of Green Day’s “secret shows”—all of them announced at the last minute, selling out instantly and premiering the band’s new album 21st Century Breakdown in its entirety.

I scored two quick-release tickets at noon yesterday, and drove frantically through rush-hour traffic with my wife to Fremont to pick up my niece. We got to the theater right at 8pm, bought one of seemingly plenty of extra tickets outside on the sidewalk, and voilá—I was suddenly standing with some people who’d flown in from Massachusetts, six rows away from a band I’ve loved since I first saw them opening for Nuisance, All and MDC in 1989 at the River Theater in Guerneville, CA.

Obviously, much has changed in Green Day’s world since 1989. At that first show in Sonoma County, they made jokes about handing out hundreds of joints to the crowd, sold hand-silkscreened tuxedo shirts stolen from their high school marching band for $3, and had just one record—a fantastic Lookout 7” called 1,000 Hours that my friends and I listened to obsessively. (We weren’t alone—just a month later at the Los Robles Lodge in Santa Rosa, crowds stormed the stage to sing along haphazardly with “Dry Ice.”)

20 years later, bouncers now keep an eye on pot smoking, T-shirts are now sold for $35, and Green Day, of course, now have plenty more than one record out. But the key magic is still there. As evidenced in their two-hour-plus show last night, Green Day is among a small handful of bands who have navigated the waters of success with a clear head and, in spite of the rigors of fame, have only gotten better over the years.

Case in point: the new album premiered last night.

At the doors of the beautifully restored art-deco Fox Theater, patrons were handed a Playbill-like program detailing the three acts of the new record, complete with author credits and libretto, while a large tragedy/comedy curtain hung over the stage. It’s hard to assess an album on only one listen, but 21st Century Breakdown is, as expected, a sister sequel to American Idiot. It loosely follows a story about being disillusioned with modern life in America, with recurring characters and themes. It’s pensive, it’s angry, and it unabashedly swipes snippets from the great catalog of rock ‘n’ roll and parlays them into anthems for the disenfranchised.

Judging from last night’s impassioned performance, at least four songs are utterly dumbfounding in their greatness (“Before the Lobotomy,” “Last of the American Girls,” “Horseshoes and Handgrenades,” “Last Night on Earth”), and several, like “¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl),” toy with completely new styles.

There are echoes of Green Day’s past: “Christian’s Inferno” starts with a rant straight out of the bridge to “Holiday,” “East Jesus Nowhere” cribs the chorus from “Welcome to Paradise,” and at one point Green Day stone-cold lifts the outro to “Brain Stew.” At the same time, the album makes musical and lyrical reference to Van Morrison, Gogol Bordello, the Who, Screeching Weasel, Barry McGuire, Wilco, John Lennon, P.I.L., the Ramones, Frank Sinatra, the Replacements, Tom Petty, Rancid, Otis Redding, the Misfits and Francis Scott Key.

One thing the album is missing, sadly, is a sense of fun. American Idiot was written and recorded quickly when the master tapes for their “real” album were stolen, giving it a spontaneous immediacy. 21st Century Breakdown took five years to make, and it shows. It is labored and serious, full of dramatic pauses and piano segues, and it teeters on the pretentious. I wish it didn’t. During a ’70s soft-rock piano ballad complete with falsetto vocals, an audience member held up a homemade sign reading “Play at 924 Gilman,” and it was painfully obvious how far the band has “grown” since their constant presence at said club. (Billie played there last year with Pinhead Gunpowder; read about it here.)

A drastic explosion in the excitement level came after the short intermission, when Green Day played older songs for another hour, and I got blissfully lost in the sweaty fray of people. “American Idiot” turned the stoic crowd into a swarming tornado; “Jesus of Suburbia” was dedicated “to everyone down at Gilman Street,” and “Going to Pasalacqua,” “She,” “Longview” and “Welcome to Paradise” thrilled longtime fans. The band was obviously making the set list up on the spot—during “Minority,” Billie asked, “I don’t know, should this be the last song?”

It wasn’t, of course. The show’s final song, the epic “Homecoming,” came with a warm explanation from Billie about the East Bay. Clearly, the band was happy to play for a hometown crowd (including Jello Biafra!), and at the end, he stood at the front of the stage, repeatedly opened his arms to the audience, and mouthed the words “I love you, I love you, I fucking love you!” over and over.

The feeling was mutual.

More Photos Below.

Will Oldham in Santa Rosa March 29; Tickets Go On Sale This Wednesday!

Posted by: on Jan 19, 2009 | Comments (2)

Will Oldham has a penchant for playing out-of-the-way places around these parts. In 2002, he played at Pegasus Hall in Monte Rio; in 2003, he dropped in at the Old Western Saloon in Point Reyes Station.

As previously reported, everyone’s lovable scruffy indie-folk hero Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, is adding Santa Rosa as one of his out-of-the-way-stops on his upcoming tour. I’ve been given the green light to spill the details about the show, and most importantly, about how to get tickets.

Will Oldham will play on Sunday, March 29 at the Orchard Spotlight, the best little church-turned-house in Santa Rosa. The venue is very beautiful and very small, holding just over 100 people. Tickets, at $28.50 each, go on sale this Wednesday, Jan. 21, at noon. 100 tickets will be available at www.folkyeah.com, while a scant 25 tickets will be available in-person at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa.

You can either take your chances with the rest of the Internet-connected world online, or if I were you, I’d start lining up outside the Last Record Store on Mendocino Avenue at 9am. There’s a two-ticket limit; cash only. Needless to say, it’ll basically sell out immediately.

CEO of InTicketing: Promoters “Secretly Involved” in Scalping

Posted by: on Sep 14, 2008 | Comments (0)

I recently sat down with Steve Weisz, the CEO of InTicketing, for a Bohemian article on the laudable measures the Bay Area ticket company has taken towards environmental responsibility and low service charges. Both of us are huge fans of music, so we rambled amiably about the industry for almost an hour together.

This quote stands out. After a question about anti-scalping safeguards, Weisz said:

“We’ve incorporated some new practices for that. We haven’t really had the demand as much in the U.S., kind of because a lot of times the promoters, they know the secondary ticket market is going on. Sometimes they’re secretly involved in it as well. So there’s not as much pressure to do that. It mostly comes from an artist, like Tom Waits. I applaud him for going to those lengths. We certainly have a whole host of measures to prevent scalping.”

You read that right: the CEO of one of the Bay Area’s biggest ticket companies confirms that promoters scalp their own tickets. And that promoters aren’t interested in the anti-scalping measures that InTicketing offers because they scalp their own tickets. And that promoters won’t do anything about scalping unless an artist demands it because they scalp their own tickets.

You Give Publicity A Bad Name

Posted by: on Jul 9, 2008 | Comments (2)

This is so ridiculous I’m amazed that I even feel like pointing it out, but despite what you’ll read in just about every corner of the Internet media, no one is actually selling tickets to Bon Jovi’s Central Park concert for $1500.

In case you haven’t heard: 60,000 tickets were distributed free by the city of New York, and the media is having a field day over the fact that one person and one person only posted a Buy It Now listing priced at $1500 for a pair of tickets on eBay.

This does not mean that tickets are “selling” for $1500. All it means is there’s some total schmoe online hoping to dupe someone into paying hella more for something than it’s worth, and I’m sorry to say, but that happens every single day. Good job, Bon Jovi’s publicist!

(A 10-second check of completed eBay listings shows that Bon Jovi tickets are actually selling for about $10 to $20 a pop.)

I, myself, am more inflamed over the increasing prominence of StubHub. They’ve even got TV commercials now.

Here it is, folks: the age is upon us when everyone’s a scalper, none of the concerts you want to see have available face value tickets, and StubHub takes a 25-percent cut of all tickets sold for two, three, five times the face value.

In 38 states, it’s still illegal to sell tickets on the sidewalk outside of a concert, but StubHub, which is owned by eBay, is posting huge profits year after year.

Giving money to a guy on the street: Bad!  Giving money to an $8 billion company traded on NASDAQ: Good!

Ticketmaster Finally Starts To Die

Posted by: on Jun 25, 2008 | Comments (0)

It might not make up for the hundreds of dollars grudgingly given them in exorbitant service charges over the years, but it nonetheless brings a huge smile to my face that Ticketmaster has recently been dumped by its parent company, LAC/InterActiveCorp.

Probably the most surprising fact of the split is that Ticketmaster is currently $750 million in debt.

So, just to get this straight: after charging service fees; after charging facility fees and convenience fees; after charging handling fees; after charging delivery fees—and perhaps most insanely of all, after actually charging a fee to print out your own tickets, on your own printer, at your own home—Ticketmaster is still $750 million in the hole?

I don’t normally say things like this, but man, God bless the Internet and its equalized playing field for finally bringing down those fucking bastards.