The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood has confirmed that the rock legends, who just completed their historic trip to Cuba, are now focusing on the long-awaited follow-up to 2005′s A Bigger Bang. In a new interview with The Associated Press, Wood revealed that the band recently spent a few days in the studio, where they recorded some new originals alongside nearly a dozen blues covers.
“We went in to cut some new songs, which we did,” Wood said. “But we got on a blues streak. We cut 11 blues in two days. They are extremely great cover versions of Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, among other blues people. But they really sound authentic… When we heard them back after not hearing them for a couple of months, we were, ‘Who’s that? It’s you.’ It sounded so authentic.”
Wood added that the album would tentatively arrive “this year.” Wood made the new album remarks in London at the group’s “Exhibitionism” exhibit at the city’s Saatchi Gallery. The event was also attended by Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards, who wasn’t as forthcoming as Wood when it came to new album details. “There’s one coming,” Richards admitted. “I can’t say no more. My lips are sealed.”
In a Rolling Stone interview in October, following the release of Richards’ solo LP Crosseyed Heart, the guitarist said he hoped the Stones would soon reconvene in the studio. [...] Continue Reading…
Rolling Stones keyboardist, sustainable forester Chuck Leavell joins European visitors at Pickens County tree farm
More than 50 visitors from European Union nations, and a conservationist who is better known as the keyboard player for The Rolling Stones, rolled into Pickens County on Tuesday to take a look at Mill Pine Plantation as part of a Bioenergy Study Tour organized by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The group visited the tree farm of local industrialist Tom O’Hanlan to learn about how Southeastern forests are managed, as their countries look to buy wood pellets from American growers to use in European coal-fired power plants that are being converted to reduce their carbon footprint.
They wanted to make sure the tree farmers they’re buying from aren’t damaging the environment, according to Scott Jones of the Forest Landowners Association, which set up the tour sites.
“It’s been very interesting to see how trees are grown in this area and how the land is taken care of,” said Inge Stuupak, a researcher from the University of Copenhagen.
“It’s amazing to see how they have improved productivity over the years and still maintaining the land.” [...] Continue Reading…
The annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is known for acquainting strange bedfellows: Rival pols gnaw on the same rubber chicken, and tabloid-famous starlets and Cabinet secretaries gawk at one another.
This year might cement that reputation with a pre-party on April 29 that will unite musicians known for their work in far-flung, legendary acts. The “White House Correspondents’ Jam” will feature a band made up of Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, R.E.M. co-founder Mike Mills, Widespread Panic lead singer John Bell and Paul Riddle, the drummer for the Marshall Tucker Band.
The supergroup will perform — for one night only at the Hamilton — as “Phil and the Busters.” Event organizer Leavell says the musicians developed the moniker in a lively email chain. “We wanted something appropriate for the event and for Washington — we threw out a bunch of names, like ‘The Editors,’ ” he said.
The longtime Stones keyboardist was behind last year’s concert, then a new addition to the lineup of WHCD pre-parties, for his enviro-news organization Mother Nature Network. That event, like this year’s, featured bands whose members include journalists. One new addition, besides Phil and the Busters? New York Times scribe Carl Hulse will take the stage with his band, the Nativemakers.
Leavell said he was pleasantly surprised by the Fourth Estate’s performances. “The level of musicianship was surprisingly good,” he said. “And certainly they have the passion.”
Getting the all-star pros to show up wasn’t difficult, he said.
Mills, who will also sit in on a tune with the Sequoias — the band featuring The New Yorker’s David Remnick — wasn’t a hard sell. “It’ll be bunch of writers, and they’re always a lot of fun,” he said.
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It may have only been rock ‘n’ roll — but Cubans seemed to like it.
On Friday, the Rolling Stones became the first major international rock band to play in Cuba, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to a free concert at a decrepit sports complex on the road to the airport.
The concert was the result of months of diplomacy after the United States and Cuba announced that they would repair decades of broken relations.<br />
The concert was the result of months of diplomacy after the United States and Cuba announced that they would repair decades of broken relations.
For years, following the Cuban revolution, rock music was banned on Cuban state TV and radio. Cubans who wore long hair and beards faced harassment from officials, including Fidel Castro who told them to dress like men.
“Years ago it was difficult to hear our music but here we are,” Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger told the crowd in Spanish. “The times are changing.”
“Havana, Cuba and the Rolling Stones: it’s amazing,” added legendary Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
The concert was the result of months of rock ‘n’ roll diplomacy conducted after the United States and Cuba announced in 2014 that they would repair decades of broken relations.
“It feels historic,” Jagger said after arriving to Cuba.
As most Cubans only earn a paltry $20 a month, there was no charge to see the show.
Perhaps aware that many of the Cubans attending had not heard much of the band’s music, the Stones played many of their most familiar classics like “Paint it Black,” “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Brown Sugar.”
They were joined by a Cuban choir to sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
While concerts in Cuba are usually bare bones affairs, the Stones mounted a stage that glowed against the night sky like a giant juke box, with towering video screens and a blasting sound system.
Celebrities such as singer Jimmy Buffett, model Naomi Campbell and actor Richard Gere hung around the VIP section.
Instead of blowing up balloons, a rarity in Cuba, the crowd inflated condoms that they then bounced up into the air.
Cuban police and soldiers walked around the concert but it was marked by a mostly joyous atmosphere.
Cell service was out during the entire two-hour show.
Cuban officials have accused the U.S. of spamming concertgoers who attended the 2009 Juanes concert in Havana with anti-Castro text messages.
The Rolling Stones arrived the same week U.S. President Barack Obama made a historic visit to Cuba, promising to end decades of mistrust and hostility between the two countries.
“I never would have guessed both things would have happened the same week,” said Ernesto Estevez, an English teacher who lives across the street from the sprawling field where the Stones staged the concert.
“But it has happened,” he said. “Which means anything can happen.”
This is fun. The Rolling Stones put on a massive outdoor concert Friday in Cuba for free (it’s a communist nation after all where locals have little money to spend). And a Georgia capitalist was on stage to play keyboard and take part in the cosmic collision.
Chuck Leavell, who has toured with the Stones for 34 years, said it was the first time he has played with the legendary British band played in a country still under communism.
Leavell is a guy who embraces business off stage, usually with an environmental bent. He’s a middle Georgia tree farmer who also charges people to come in for quail hunts at his Twiggs County plantation and calls it ecotourism. He has his own record label. And, with former ad man Joel Babbit, he co-founded Atlanta-based Mother Nature Network, which began as a news and information website and has evolved into content marketing, often partnering with pillars of capitalism like Coca-Cola, AT&T and Delta Air Lines.
I called the 63-year-old Leavell at his Havana hotel before the concert. The hotel’s internet connection was spotty, he told me, and he had to repeatedly sign in. And three times as we spoke on the hotel phone we heard a woman cut in on our line.
“I don’t know what that’s about,” Leavell told me after one interruption. “It’s Cuba, man.”
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Next month, keyboardist Chuck Leavell will appear at a special event hosted by Upcountry History Museum at Furman University in Greenville, SC, where he will play music and share stories from his varied musical career.
Leavell, who has provided keyboards for, among others, The Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band, will speak with the museum about his years on the road in an event that coincides with the museum’s exhibit “Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone.”
Backstage Pass with Chuck Leavell
April 12 at 7:00 pm
Join Chuck Leavell for an evening of stories and music at the Upcountry History Museum – Furman University. Explore “Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone” as Chuck Leavell shares personal stories from his years on tour with The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band.
Enjoy open bar, delicious food, and great live music!
$75 per person
VIP Single Ticket – $125, includes one ticket for VIP reception from 6:00-7:00 pm, and one swag bag with signed CD from Chuck Leavell
VIP Pair Ticket – $225, includes two tickets for VIP reception from 6:00-7:00 pm, and one swag bag with signed CD from Chuck Leavell
Attire – Rock ‘n’ Roll Casual Complimentary Valet
RSVP by April 5. Call 864-467-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of this historic night of music, and am happy to share this news with my fans. I had the privilege to be in the core band for the whole night. It was an amazing experience, and an honor to celebrate the talents and career of one of my great friends and mentor, Dr. John.
The broadcast premiered on AXS TV on Sunday night at 8pm, and will air again on Tuesday, March 29 (check local listings for time)…so be in the Right Place at the Right Time! Watch The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: Celebrating Mac & His Music TUESDAY, MARCH 29! http://celebratedrjohn.com” [...] Continue Reading…
This week, pianist extraordinaire Chuck Leavell is playing stadium concerts in Brazil with The Rolling Stones. In 1966, he was a 14-year-old doing Friday night gigs at the Tuscaloosa YMCA. In between, Leavell’s playing, which strikes a rare balance between accomplished and tasteful, has led to a career few rock ‘n’ roll musicians can match. Allman Brothers. Eric Clapton. George Harrison. John Mayer. The Black Crowes. And on and on and on.
Leavell’s been with The Stones since 1982. And served as the legendary – and still potent, as fans who saw the 2015 “Zip Code Tour” will attest – band’s musical director for decades.
On Friday, Leavell, born in Birmingham and raised there, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, is being inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Fellow 2016 inductees include former Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, producer Johnny Sandlin, Southern rockers Wet Willie and session musicians the Muscle Shoals Horns.
On Tuesday morning, Brazil time, Leavell took the time to answer the below interview questions via email.
Hi Chuck. Thanks for your time and congratulations on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your playing and who gave you that compliment?
First, let me say it is an enormous honor to be inducted. I cherish my Alabama roots and am so grateful that Alabama is where I grew up and where I started playing music. It was a great place to learn and develop as a musician.
One friendly compliment that stands out is from Ian McLagan. As many of your readers will know, “Mac” was in the Faces with Ronnie Wood, and also played with the Stones for a while. I had never met him, but when the Stones came to Atlanta in 1981 and did an unannounced show at the Fox Theater, I was invited to sit in with them, the first time I played with the band in public. About halfway through the set, I got the signal to come up. Mac was on organ and I sat behind the piano. We were right next to each other at a 90-degree angle. We were playing a rockin’ number … I believe it was a Chuck Berry tune. [...] Continue Reading…