Nowadays, it’s gotten harder to find good, much less great, music coverage. As outlets fold, those that remain and aren’t the New York Times or Wall Street Journal are confusing the act of running weekly lists of hottest cover-band concerts to be the equivalent of writing substantial music features. Luckily, Long Island Weekly hasn’t fallen prey to that weak sauce approach that only serves to shortchange our music-loving readers. This past year, LIW continued to deliver the goods.
Early in the year, we sat down with Cracker’s David Lowery to discuss his work taking part in a class action lawsuit as part of the fight for the rights of artists in the face of entities like Pandora and Spotify. “The problem with streaming wasn’t just that our pay was low, but a lot of songwriters weren’t getting paid,” he said. Lowery also shone a light on the contributions of Native Americans to American popular music via an interview with Alfonso Maiorana, co-director/co-producer of the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. Melissa Etheridge also returned with The Medicine Show, her 15th studio album and the most topical of her career. “I have no desire to preach to anybody. But I do want to reach into the hearts and minds of people and really give hope and find a way to inspire through this [time],” she said.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art also got into the act via Play It Loud: The Instruments of Rock and Roll, a 7,500-square foot exhibit that featured 135 displayed instruments on loan from various collectors and museums. Among the items attendees got to view at this exhibit that ran from late April through early October were Eddie Van Halen’s performance rig, Jimmy Page’s double-neck Gibson and Prince’s Love Symbol guitar.
Other Long Island Weekly interview subjects were hair-metal band Whitesnake, whose 67-year-old frontman David Coverdale returned with the band’s 13th studio album Flesh & Blood, (“I’ve tried to retire more times than Francis Albert Sinatra”) and godfather of funk George Clinton, who was having second thoughts on his own retirement tour with Parliament-Funkadelic. “The group is so hot right now. I want to make sure that they [continue down this path]. I may end up staying one more year,” he said.
Among the artists who are perishing the thought of hanging up their mics are the Reverend Al Green, who came through and played a rare New York City gig at Radio City Music Hall back in May and the band Chicago, whose founding member Robert Lamm credits the group’s longevity to, “…the songs and music.”
Elsewhere, Stewart Copeland rereleased the film Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out (“It’s very much the sensation of being in a rock band, rather than being in a documentary”) and the Stray Cats reformed to tour behind 40, the Massapequa trio’s first record since 1991’s Choo Choo Hot Fish. Lenny Kravitz wrapped up his tour for 2018’s Raise Vibration and shared what it was like seeing the Jackson 5 at Madison Square Garden when he was 6 years old: “I was in first grade and I had been listening to their records and loved their music. I was the concert and that was it.”
Another music veteran not stopping to catch his breath is Little Steven Van Zandt, whose many projects include putting out a 2-CD compilation of music from his latest Netflix series Lilyhammer, reissuing all his back-catalog as a limited-edition vinyl box set just in time for Christmas (Rock n’ Roll Rebel—The Early Work) and releasing his latest studio effort, the cinematic Summer of Sorcery, about which he said, “I wanted to see if we could create a bit of positive energy to balance what’s going on right now.”