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Drummer Butch Trucks busy with various post-Allman Brothers Band projects

March used to mean a series of Allman Brothers Band shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York, but that will not be happening this year, since the band’s October Beacon run was billed as its farewell. But Butch Trucks, one of the band’s drummers and co-founders, will be traveling from his West Palm Beach, Fla., home to the Northeast, anyway. He’ll play with the School of Rock Allstars at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, Sunday afternoon, after making an appearance at the Words bookstore in Maplewood on Saturday. Trucks, 67, says he first become involved with the School of Rock through their West Palm Beach area locations. He met with the students, and played with them. “We had a good time and, actually, I think they possibly did learn something,” he said in a phone interview. “Some of them are actually good, but all of them are very, very enthusiastic. From 8 years up to … Continue Reading →

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‘Testify,’ The Isley Brothers (featuring Jimi Hendrix)


The Isley Brothers were originally from Cincinnati, but moved to Englewood when they were still young. When they formed their own record label in 1964, they named it T-Neck, after the town where some of the members of their large family were living. And when they released their single “Testify” (divided into parts 1 and 2 on the two sides of the record), they exposed Jimi Hendrix to a national audience, via vinyl, for the first-time. Hendrix played guitar for the band in 1963 and 1964, and also lived with them, on and off. He watched the Beatles make their famous “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance in the Isleys’ Englewood living room, in February 1964. Equal parts gospel, soul and rock, “Testify” is a rave-up about the power of music that’s stunningly intense, at least in the first part (part 2 goes off on a tangent that gets tiresome, with endless shout-outs to other performers such as Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder). Continue Reading →

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Shows of the week: Usher, Johnny Marr, James Maddock, Randy Newman

On his 2010 tour, Usher indulged in a bit of hero worship that spoke volumes about his self-concept. The lights in the arena went down, and a pair of shoes that looked like they’d been taken straight from a Michael Jackson video arrived at center stage via conveyor belt. The star slipped them on and danced a tribute, mimicking many of MJ’s signature moves, including the moonwalk and the anti-gravity lean. Usher knows that there will never be another Michael Jackson. Yet as the most reliable male R&B hitmaker of the last 20 years, he believes it’s his responsibility to carry on tradition. It’s been a decade since the release of Confessions, Usher’s best album and biggest seller. Continue Reading →

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Shows of the week: Owel, Bruce Hornsby, Asia, Robbie Maxx

“I’m the perfect little foil for the prognosticators of doom,” sang a buoyant Bruce Hornsby on “Circus on the Moon,” a song about (among other things) his instrumental excellence.  That’s not a bad self-assessment. Since putting a few songs on the charts in the ’80s, Hornsby has been as experimental as any mainstream rock star, throwing elements of jazz, electronic music, traditional country and leftfield pop into his songs, and collaborating with anybody able to keep up with his exuberant piano arpeggios. This is no way to remain in heavy rotation, and Hornsby’s cheery restlessness probably cost him a shot at the sort of middlebrow permanence that many of his peers chased. Yet Hornsby’s cult audience is a ferocious one, and by excising the casual fans, he’s been free to focus on thrilling the dedicated. Many of those live in the Garden State, where Hornsby has a large following. Continue Reading →

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