Sometimes my passions for music and the environment come together in strange and wonderful ways. The recent Stones tour of Australia played in Sydney in November. This happened to be the same day that the sixth World Parks Congress opened, with both events in Olympic Park, home of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The World Parks Congress only happens once a decade, bringing together thousands of park managers with policymakers and politicians, scientists, landowners, indigenous peoples and many others for a bewildering smorgasbord of workshops, demonstrations, multimedia installations, and general craziness, sprawling across multiple buildings and courtyards across from the arena where the Stones played. The Sydney Congress attracted more than 6,000 people from 170 countries. If you’re interested in protected parks and care about sustainably managing the natural heritage of our planet, it’s the place to be.
Attendance is down, but spectacular ticket sales by One Direction, The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake, plus a series of blockbuster stadium shows, propelled the North American concert industry to a record 2014.
Boy band One Direction and former boy band member Justin Timberlake dominated the box office in 2014. Combined, their global tours grossed close to $500 million and sold more than 5 million tickets in a year where a diverse collection of acts — including The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Jay Z, Michael Buble, Luke Bryan and Drake — finished among Billboard Boxscore’s top 25 tours of the year.
Although overall end-of-year results for the touring industry aren’t as overwhelmingly positive as they were in 2013, data reported to Boxscore indicates that it was another record year for live music in North America. Domestic grosses are up 3.4 percent — more than the 1.7 percent increase of 2012 but just a fraction of 2013′s 26 percent increase. Those gains are largely attributable to higher ticket prices, given that North American attendance is down 1.5 percent compared with an increase of 23 percent in 2013. Global Boxscore data paints a less positive picture: Grosses and box office are down 3.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, compared with increases of 30 percent and 26 percent in 2013.
Meet two piano professors from the South with two differing styles. First up, from Macon, GA, Chuck Leavell has played in a few of Rock’s most iconic bands, from the Allman Brothers to the Rolling Stones. And while piano might be his day job, he’s also a keeper of a Georgia forest and an honorary forest ranger! We talk to Chuck about his love of the keys and the trees. Then, it’s a lesson in New Orleans funk a la keyboard with Jon Cleary, who breaks down the elements and reveals the Latin tinge to New Orleans piano favorites.
Bobby Keys was a jewel of a guy….pure Texas Soul with a sound the size of his home state. He made so many great contributions to so many artists on record and in concert. I was privileged to work with Bobby for 32 years in the Stones. He was my Southern Brother and one of my best friends. Thanks for the great playing all those years, and for being such a solid friend, Bobby….Rest easy. The band upstairs just got a Great One.
With love and respect, Chuck
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The legendary Chuck Leavell has spent over 40 years with some of the biggest names on the planet including the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and for the past 32 years as musical director of The Rolling Stones.
Chuck played with Clapton on Unplugged, with Harrison on this on 1991 Japanese tour and his duties with the Stones including putting together the setlist with Mick Jagger.
Chuck is also a teacher, educating music students though the online platform irock.com.au and he is an environmentalist, having the Honorary Forest Ranger Award to his name.
Chuck Leavell joined us at Noise11 during the Stones 2014 Australia tour. This is 3 part interview.
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From solo shows and concerts with the Rolling Stones to recording sessions with John Mayer and helping the United Nations tackle global environmental issues, noted musician and avid tree farmer Chuck Leavell has a busy few months ahead of him.
Before things really get rolling the renowned rock pianist will share some of his favorite tunes, along with a lifetime of stories about playing with some of music’s greats, during an intimate show at Americus’ Rylander Theater Saturday night as part of the theater’s 15th Anniversary Presenter Series.
“It’s just a joy to play these types of theaters,” said Leavell of the gig. “I’ve played there before and just fell in love with the place. They have this impressive Steinway piano, too. It is going to be fun.” [...] Continue Reading…
Chuck Leavell, the 32-year veteran of the Rolling Stones band, gave Melbourne a two-hour history lesson in his only sideshow on the Stones Australian tour.
Chuck performed at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar in AC/DC to a capacity (200 people) audience. It was a rare opportunity to hear music from The Stones, Allman Brothers, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, in an extremely intimate environment.
Chuck told the stories of his times with some of the most famous acts in the world in a Q&A conducted by 3RRR’s Brian Wise. At times he was backed on sax by the Rolling Stones “new boy”, Tim Ries, who has been with the Stones for the past 13 years.
Leavell’s professional career started as a studio musician for Capricorn Records for the Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie. He was 17-years old at the time.
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The Rolling Stones bring their 14 ON FIRE tour to Australia and New Zealand!
The 9 date tour starts at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday 25th October, followed by two dates in Perth, then onto Melbourne, the iconic Hanging Rock, Sydney, Hunter Valley, Brisbane and finally Auckland on Saturday 22nd November.
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Among the movers and shakers who met in New York last week to talk about climate change was Chuck Leavell, a slight, soft-spoken sixty-two-year-old piano player from Georgia. Though better known for the moving and shaking he does onstage—since 1982, he has been the Rolling Stones’ main keyboardist—Leavell has become an influential voice on an array of reforestation issues around the world. Heads of state have yet to find much common ground when it comes to climate change, but they appear to agree about the Rolling Stones. Presidents, senators, and high-ranking ministers all happily engage with Leavell about Stones songs, and when he smoothly changes the subject to wind farms, or biomass in Brazil, they listen.
Leavell was attending the U.N. Summit as a member of the Global Restoration Council, a new entity backed by the World Resources Institute. Another member is Bianca Jagger, and on the eve of the summit they met with a few other environmentalists at the Mandarin Hotel. One visitor ventured, “You two must have some friends in common in the Rolling Stones,” which drew an icy stare from Jagger, her eyebrows cocked like drawn bows. (She and her ex have not remained close.)
“Acquaintances,” Leavell proposed.
Leavell’s interest in the world’s trees began when he and his wife, Rose Lane, inherited an eleven-hundred-acre farm in Georgia, in 1981. Chuck took a forestry-management correspondence course while he was on a Fabulous Thunderbirds tour, and started planting trees. Years of managing his own land as a mixed-use forest that is a hunting preserve and a tree farm has made him aware of the economic and environmental benefits of planting trees. He is one of only three people in the U.S. to be made an honorary forest ranger. (The other two are Betty White and Arnold Schwarzenegger.) “One of my proudest possessions is an original forest-ranger hat,” he said. “Like my man Pharrell wears.”
Did Leavell talk to the other Stones about trees?
“At first, there was a lot of head-scratching—‘What’s he going on about the trees again for? What’s that all about?’ ”—he said. “But, you know, they understand my commitment to these issues, and the fact is we’re all parents and grandparents, we’re concerned about our children and grandchildren’s future, and we all have hopes we can make positive changes in those regards.”
From the Mandarin, Leavell and his wife walked up Broadway to the reception for the Equator Prize awards, which was held in the soaring atrium of Avery Fisher Hall. There Leavell became involved in a discussion with several State Department officials about upcoming Stones dates in Australia, next month, and soon moved on to the deforestation of palm trees in Indonesia by palm-oil producers. Among the group was Charles Barber, who, until recently, was the Forest Chief at the State Department and now works for the World Resources Institute.
“People listen to Chuck,” Barber said. “He knows how to tell the story, without getting into the weeds on issues like the price of softwood lumber.” He added, “A lot of actors don’t want to talk about their acting experiences; they want to talk about the issues. But Chuck loves to talk about the music.”
The conversation kept drifting back to the Stones. Couldn’t Chuck get the band to represent the issues onstage, somehow?
“You mean, like, Mick goes, ‘I’m a tree, I’m a tree.’ ” Leavell expertly mimed Jagger’s frantic rooster strut, imitating a tree.
“Keith would just be, like, ‘Plant a fuckin’ tree.’ ”
Leavell has met three Presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—but before the summit he had never met Barack Obama. “He could be more of an R. & B. guy,” Leavell said at Lincoln Center.
The following night, after dinner at the Waldorf, they did meet.
Leavell said, “Mr. President, wonderful to meet you. I play with the Stones!”
“I play piano with the Rolling Stones.”
The President replied, “You must be, like, the youngest guy in the group!”