Straight No Chaser Is A Legitimate Act That Performs Novelty Music

by Noiz 22. January 2015 13:59

Straight No Chaser Is A Legitimate Act That Performs Novelty Music

If you want to make it big in the music business here’s all you have to do…

First, learn how to make great music.  It’s preferable if you can sing.

Second, you’ll need to adopt a charismatic stage persona and be easy going on the eyes.  For some, that’s easier said than done.

Next, pick a marginalized genre of music to perform like bluegrass, Dixieland, Afro-Beat, or Portuguese fado.

Instead of recording and performing traditional music from your marginalized genre of choice, or original stuff, your setlist should feature nothing but covers of Top 40 hits and popular songs.

Finally, sign a five-album deal with a major record company.

Many have tried to follow the aforementioned plan but few have succeeded.  One act that has is Straight No Chaser. 

The ten men that make up SNC are all great singers, all very handsome, and all extremely charming.  They perform an ostracized genre of music known as “a cappella.”  They sing and record a lot of hit singles, and in 2008 they signed a five-album deal with Atlantic Records.

I don’t know why but music fans love hearing today’s top music performed in some unique way.   You want to fill an auditorium try performing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” in the Klezmer tradition or Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the style of roots reggae.

Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that but music fans do love them some novelty covers.  By the way, Straight No Chaser covers “Happy.”

In their latest album, Under the Influence (2013), Straight No Chaser tackles “Rolling in the Deep,” “We Are Young,” and “I Won’t Give Up.”  They also cover older songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).”

When you attend a Straight No Chaser concert you’ll hear those songs and a lot more.  At a concert this past December, the boys did a Four Seasons medley and a mash-up of “Poison” and “Billie Jean.”  They also did a hilarious Broadway parody and crooned a bunch of Christmas carols (which you probably won’t get to enjoy if you see the band this spring).

Now, I keep talking about Straight No Chaser like they’re a novelty act.  You can call them whatever you want, but you must call them successful.  Three of their first four albums have peaked inside the Top 40 on the main Billboard albums chart.   They’ve performed with Paul McCartney, their videos have garnered millions of views on YouTube, and Straight No Chaser tickets have been collected all over the world.  In other words, the band has made it.

Further proof of their ascension to stardom is the fact that Straight No Chaser will be singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race.

The Indy 500 is one of the most hallowed traditions in sports.  Since 1972 (minus a few exceptions), the honor of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” belonged to Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle from The Andy Griffith Show).  Well, the actor is now 83 and hanging up his microphone.

SNC was chosen because they’re from The Hoosier State—the band was founded at Indiana University-Bloomington—have a national following, and love the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

"One of the most cherished traditions each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the singing of '(Back Home Again in) Indiana' and we are pleased that Straight No Chaser will join us next May to perform as we lead up to the start of the 99th Indianapolis 500.” — J. Douglas Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set to take place on May 24, 2015.  Obviously, that’s not the only SNC live performance of 2015.  From late January through the entire month of February, Straight No Chaser will be gallivanting around Europe.  Their “Happy Hour Tour (Europe 2015)” is set to visit over 20 cities including London, Dublin, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris, and Moscow.

The band returns to the States in April.  The first Straight No Chaser concert of the New Year is set for April 1 in Aspen, Colorado.   After five shows in Colorado, the band works its way through the Midwest.  It culminates on April 12 with a performance in Lafayette, Indiana at the Long Center Performing Arts.

On July 23, the band returns to the live stage in Buffalo, New York for a gig at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.  This show was originally scheduled for Nov. 21 but cancelled due to heavy snow.   The following night, SNC begins a three-night stand at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. 

The ten-piece singing troupe is no stranger to the boardwalk.  In 2011 and 2012, they performed a total of 90 shows at Harrah’s Resort and Casino. 

At a Straight No Chaser show you’ll be treated to great music and some corny banter between songs.  The cheeseball stuff works as all the members of SNC have charm to spare.  

I should probably address the elephant in the room: Straight No Chaser is immensely appealing to women especially those of the grandmother and aunt variety.  If you’re a dude reading this don’t panic when you learn that SNC is coming to your town. 

While it’s true that they’re not Led Zeppelin or Motörhead, you’ll still have a good time, score major points with your significant other, and probably become a fan… 

“We often have women who drag their boyfriends or husbands along to the show, and by the end they come through the signing line holding a stack of CDs and they're super excited about seeing the show.” — Randy Stine of Straight No Chaser

Straight No Chaser - At A Glance
>>Group formed on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington in 1996.
>>Band took its name from a Thelonious Monk album.
>>”Straight No Chaser” is also a slang phrase used when ordering a drink.
>>Six of the original ten members are still in the group.
>>The band formed because they love singing and wanted to pick up chicks.
>>Eight members of the band are married, one is engaged, and one is single.
>>It takes the band anywhere from one day to two weeks to arrange a song.

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Why Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan And Fellow Bro-Country Artists Still Reign

by Noiz 20. January 2015 22:22

Why Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan And Fellow Bro-Country Artists Still Reign

The calendar may have changed but country music hasn’t. 

It looks like bro-country will dominate 2015 just like it did in 2014.  At the time of writing this article, six of the top ten country singles are by so-called bro-country artists.  Three others are by men.  The lone female artist is Carrie Underwood.  Interestingly, her single “Something in the Water,” is the top song.

Billboard’s top country albums chart is also ruled by bro-country boys and once again Underwood is the only artist from the fairer sex.  Bro-country artists that landed inside the top ten are Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, and Brantley Gilbert. 

In 2014, Bro-country artist Eric Church’s Outsiders sold more than 700,000 copies making it the bestselling country album of the year and fourth overall.  His bro-country brethren Luke Bryan came in at number seven while Brantley Gilbert captured the eighth spot.

With Taylor Swift going completely pop, country music now has fewer women than a Magic: The Gathering tournament.  Basically, country music is a testosterone-filled, Y chromosome-having, foul-smelling tree fort with a huge sign on the door that reads “No Girls Allowed.”

What Is Bro-Country?
Bro-country is a subgenre of country music that uses elements of rock and hip hop music.  A lot of bro-country songs are about trucks, drinking, and hot women in bikini tops. 

Prime Examples of Bro-Country
>>“Cruise” by Florida Georgie Line
>>"That's My Kind of Night" by Luke Bryan
>>"Boys 'Round Here" by Blake Shelton
>>“Talladega” by Eric Church
>>"Dirt Road Anthem" by Jason Aldean

Not every bro-country artist sings about beer, pickup trucks, and the honeys all the time, but those three topics do frequently serve as inspiration.

There’s a group of artists that are bro-country adjacent—Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley being two such examples.  Also, you can be a dude, sing country music, and not be a bro-country artist (i.e. Garth Brooks), but all bro-country artists are men.

Many take umbrage with bro-country’s portrayal of women.  They are usually described as being scantily clad and swilling beer while sitting on a tailgate.  Bro-country artists never call a paramour a “ho” or a “bitch” but they seldom ever comment on their SAT scores or personalities.

At least one woman, country music star Kacey Musgraves, is more offended by bro-country’s penchant for pickup trucks then about their proclivity for women in bikini tops.  She famously told British GQ: “Anyone singing about trucks, in any form, in any song, anywhere.  Literally just stop – nobody cares.”

“I don’t know one girl who doesn’t want to be a girl in a country song,” – Brian Kelly of Florida Georgia Line

Where Have All The Women Gone?
There are two issues at play here.  One is serious and the other is more on the trivial side.  On the trivial side is bro-country’s popularity.  Country music fans will eventually move on to something else.  In an article by Calvin Gilbert recently published on, he brings up the concept of “the pendulum.”  He writes that “the pendulum” has always swung within the country music genre from its conservative core to whatever fad (usually one that’s too pop or too rock) is popular at the time.

The more serious issue is the lack of female artists within the country music industry.  Why aren’t their more women making it big in Nashville?  As I enumerated above, the genre seems to be abnormally dominated by cowboys.

One reason given for the disparity is glamour.  Men can just put on a t-shirt and go to a gig whereas women are expected to look glamorous.  In trying to explain the glam phenomenon, Luke Bryan said: “Some girls on radio tours, it will take them two hours to get all dolled up to do three songs for a radio guy.  They do two hours worth of glam.  I mean, It’s tough, you know?”

That seems a little simple, and it certainly hasn’t stopped Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, but all male singers have to do to look presentable is throw on a t-shirt and an old pair of jeans.

Money, Money, Money
Clearly, bro-country sells.  Since it’s so popular the country music industry is going to continue to nurture bro-country artists.  If music by one-armed, red-headed dwarves was selling like hotcakes then Nashville would be singing every one-armed, red-headed dwarf they could find to a record contract. 

Remember what Blake Shelton said in early 2013:

“Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music.  And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass.  The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”

Shelton angered a lot of country music fans with his comments but he’s right.  It’s all about what sells, and right now, what sells is bro-country.  Fans want to hear music from a male perspective.

I think another reason why bro-country is so popular is because it’s one of the last bastions of traditional masculinity.  We live in a very feminine world.   Men get manicures, have bro-mances, and drive hybrid cars.  Bro-country music, as well as a Jason Aldean concert for example, allows both sexes a chance to relish men who drink beer (not appletinis), drive pickup trucks (not electric cars) and work with their hands (not on a computer).

Not that there’s anything wrong with being sensitive—I, for one, love getting a manicure—but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that men used to be a bit more rugged.   My grandfather built his own home.  My father remodeled his.  I don’t even own a saw.

Not even the most ardent bro-country artist wants fewer opportunities for women than men in the music industry.  No one on either side of the bro-country equation is fighting against equality, but there’s obviously a disparity. 

With that being said, the Frozen soundtrack, Beyoncé’s self-titled album, and Lorde’s Pure Heroine were the top selling albums of 2014.  Carrie Underwood is more popular than any bro-country artist.  And women buy more music then men.

Also, I hate to break it to the naysayers but Church can’t have the bestselling country album of the year without women buying a lot of copies.  Women make up a huge portion of the bro-country audience.  If you don’t believe me just check out a Luke Bryan concert or a Blake Shelton tour stop. 

Country Now & Then
If you look at what bro-country artists are singing about it’s really no different than what other country artists sang about in previous decades.  They might be a little more explicit than they were in earlier eras, but drinking, trucks, and hot women have been fodder for country musicians for generations.

Past Bro-Country-esque Songs
>>1951 - Hank Williams releases “Hey, Good Lookin’” 
>>1959 - George Jones releases “White Lightning”
>>1969 - Tom T. Hall releases “A Week in a Country Jail”
>>1975 - C.W. McCall releases “Convoy.”
>>1984 – Hank Williams, Jr. releases "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight"
>>1987 – George Strait releases “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”
>>1992 – Brooks & Dunn release "Boot Scootin' Boogie"
>>2001 – Garth Brooks and George Jones release "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)"

Complaining about bro-country is a little like saying there’s too much football in the Super Bowl and they need to add some basketball.  Bro-country artists are catching flack because our world is more sensitive and feminine then it was when Jerry Reed sang “East Bound & Down.”

Bro-country is country music.   And country music needs more women.  But bro-country isn’t a sign of a dude-apocalypse, and even though the charts are lacking in estrogen, women aren’t exactly invisible when it comes to the music industry.

Ultimately, we should heed the words of Eric Church: “I think genres are dead.  There’s good music.  There’s bad music.”   

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100 Interesting, Fascinating Facts About Jimmy Buffett

by Noiz 16. January 2015 19:20

100 Interesting, Fascinating Facts About Jimmy Buffett

You know all of Jimmy Buffett’s songs by heart, but how much do you know about the legend himself?  You probably know that he’s just been booked to perform at the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 26), but do you also know that he has webbed toes? 

He doesn’t have webbed toes.  We just made that up, but we didn’t make up any of the following tidbits.  Here are 100 interesting and fascinating facts about Jimmy Buffett…

  1. Jimmy Buffett was born on Christmas day in 1946.
  2. Jimmy Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  3. A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean (1973) was the Jimmy Buffett album where he moved away from country music and towards the sound we currently associate with him.
  4. Jimmy Buffett played 32 shows in 2014.
  5. “Margaritaville” was released in 1977.
  6. In 2010, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band played music at tennis superstar Andy Roddick’s charity gala.
  7. Jimmy Buffett received his first Grammy nomination in 2004 for “Best Country Collaboration With Vocals.”
  8. “Don’t Bring Me Candy” was Jimmy Buffett’s first single.  He released it in 1970.
  9. In 2001, Jimmy Buffett was ejected from a Miami Heat game for swearing.  
  10. In 2014, Margaritaville TV was launched.  The online service allows fans to watch live Jimmy Buffett concerts.
  11. For nearly a year, Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, was named Land Shark Stadium after Jimmy Buffett’s beer.
  12. Land Shark Lager is a beer produced by Anheuser-Busch for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant chain.
  13. Jimmy Buffett began his musical career as a country artist in Nashville, Tennessee.
  14. In 2011, Jimmy Buffett fell off the stage during a concert in Sydney, Australia.  Although he was motionless for several minutes, he survived the incident without major injury.
  15. Jimmy Buffett’s first album was Down to Earth.  It was released in 1970.  His second album, High Cumberland Jubilee, dropped in 1971.  Both releases were commercial flops. 
  16. The “Coral Reefer Band” was briefly called the “Coral Reef Band” to support an anti-drug organization.
  17. In 1989, Jimmy Buffett published a collection of short stories called Tales from Margaritaville.
  18. Jimmy Buffett has made cameo appearances in four movies with one word titles: Cobb, Congo, Hook, and Hoot.
  19. In January of 2015, a 17-year-old boy stole Jimmy Buffett’s Mercedes-Benz.
  20. Jimmy Buffett wrote “Margaritaville” in Austin, Texas, and Key West, Florida.
  21. Jim Croce was Jimmy Buffett’s mentor.
  22. Jimmy Buffett attended Auburn University, Pearl River Community College, and the University of Southern Mississippi.
  23. Jimmy Buffett graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in history.
  24. In 2004, Jimmy Buffett recorded Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’” with country music stars Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait.
  25. Jimmy Buffett owns a house in St. Barts.
  26. In 2000, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band played at the White House.
  27. Jimmy Buffett blamed the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on President George Bush.
  28. Custom Officials detained Jimmy Buffett in Saint Tropez for allegedly possessing several dozen pills of ecstasy.  Buffett later said the pills were a vitamin B supplement.
  29. Jimmy Buffett is scheduled to perform in West Palm Beach, Florida on April 9.
  30. In 2014, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band played their first concert at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 
  31. In 1989, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band launched “Off To See The Lizard” Tour.
  32. “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was inspired by a long boat trip Jimmy Buffett took in which he had nothing to eat but peanut butter and canned food.
  33. Jimmy Buffett played the trombone in his school band.
  34. In 1983, Lord Buckley sued Jimmy Buffett for $11 million for copyright infringement.
  35. Jimmy Buffett is a licensed pilot.
  36. Where is Joe Merchant?, a Jimmy Buffett novel, was published in 1992.
  37. Jimmy Buffett is an avid surfer.  He told that he’s an “old-fart surfer.”
  38. One Particular Harbour was Jimmy Buffett’s first foray into producing.
  39. Jimmy Buffett’s Beachcomber restaurant on Waikiki Beach opened in 2009 and closed in 2013.
  40. Jimmy Buffett was once in a cover band called The Now Generation.
  41. In 2012, NBA star Shane Battier joined Jimmy Buffett on stage and played the congas during a performance of “Margaritaville.”
  42. Jimmy Buffett appeared on an episode of Sesame Street.
  43. The “Jimmy Buffett Bandit” robbed at least nine banks in the Seattle-era before getting caught.
  44. “Margaritaville” is Jimmy Buffett’s highest charting single.  It reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
  45. Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band have played the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
  46. In June of 2014, Jimmy Buffett played a concert at a Fort Worth drive-in movie theater.
  47. “Pulled a Jimmy Buffett.”  The term was used in 2013 to describe the actions of a Kentucky lawyer who, without making his intentions known, left his job and responsibilities to go on a permanent vacation.
  48. A man was murdered while tailgating before a 2012 Jimmy Buffett concert in Camden, New Jersey.
  49. Jimmy Buffett wrote “Gypsies in the Palace” with Glenn Frey and Will Jennings.
  50. While working for Billboard magazine, Jimmy Buffett broke the news that Flatt and Scruggs had split.
  51. In 2009, five men got into a fight over a Jimmy Buffett song that played on a jukebox in a bar.  One of the five men, a soldier, died.
  52. There are Margaritaville resorts in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Pensacola Beach, Florida; and Bossier City, Louisiana.  Another Margaritaville resort is about to open in Hollywood Beach, Florida.
  53. In 1993, Jimmy Buffett launched Margaritaville Records.
  54. Margaritaville Enterprises made $100 million in revenue in 2007.
  55. Jimmy Buffett describes his music as “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n roll” and “gulf and western.”
  56. Jimmy Buffett’s favorite NFL team is the New Orleans Saints.
  57. The B-side to “Margaritaville” is “Miss You So Badly.”
  58. Jimmy Buffett turned down a cameo role in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
  59. There’s a line of restaurants named after Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” song.
  60. The “Cheeseburger in Paradise” restaurant chain was sold in 2012 for $11 million.
  61. In 2011, Jimmy Buffett guest starred on an episode of Hawaii Five-O.
  62. Jimmy Buffett will be in Tampa, for a gig at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, on April 18.
  63. In 2012, Jimmy Buffett sued “Martiniville Liquor Bar & Kitchen” for trademark infringement. 
  64. Jimmy Buffett once posted a YouTube video in which he personally supported the legalization of medical marijuana. 
  65. In 2010, during a concert in Chicago, Jimmy Buffett welcomed Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane onto the stage.  Kane had with him the Stanley Cup.
  66. In 2012, Jimmy Buffett helped raised money for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. 
  67. Jimmy Buffett released his autobiography, A Pirate Looks at Fifty, on June 3, 1998.
  68. In September of 2014, a woman was arrested outside of Nashville’s Margaritaville restaurant after she attacked her husband.  She reverted to violence because her husband wouldn’t buy her a Jimmy Buffett hat.
  69. In 2010, Jimmy Buffett donated a wildlife rescue boat to the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
  70. A Salty Piece of Land was published in 2004.  Buffett’s novel includes a CD single of the song of the same name.
  71. In 2014, Jimmy Buffett bought a home in Beverly Hills for $8.250 million.
  72. Jimmy Buffett has launched more than 40 tours since 1976.
  73. “I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)” is included on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack and is written by Jimmy Buffett.
  74. In 2013, Jimmy Buffett released his 27th studio album, Songs from St. Somewhere.
  75. Jimmy Buffett has been part-owner of two minor league baseball teams.
  76. In 1997, Jimmy Buffett created a musical based on Herman Wouk’s novel Don’t Stop the Carnival.  The show ran for a month and a half in Miami and never reached Broadway.
  77. In 2003, Jimmy Buffett collaborated with Alan Jackson to record the song “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere.”
  78. “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” went to the top of the country music charts.
  79. “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” won the Country Music Association Award for Vocal Event of the Year.   It was the first award Buffett had ever received.
  80. Jimmy Buffett’s plane was once shot at by Jamaican police.
  81. In 1981, Buffett and politician Bob Graham founded the Save the Manatee Club.
  82. Orlando welcomes Jimmy Buffett to the Amway Center on April 16.
  83. On Jan. 18, 2008, Jimmy Buffett played a charity concert in Hong Kong. 
  84. Jimmy Buffett had a cameo role in Repo Man.
  85. Three of Jimmy Buffett’s books have become number one best sellers.
  86. Jimmy Buffett is one of seven authors to have topped the fiction and non-fiction best seller lists.
  87. Timothy B. Schmit, bass player for the Eagles and Poco, was once a member of the Coral Reefer Band.
  88. Timothy B. Schmit coined the term “Parrotheads.”
  89. The Coral Reefer Band was originally fictitious and comprised of imaginary members Al Vacado, Kay Pasa, Kitty Litter, and Marvin Gardens.
  90. Paul McCartney, Glenn Frey, Zac Brown, and Sheryl Crow are all honorary members of the Coral Reefer Band.
  91. Professional wrestler Ric Flair, coach of the New Orleans Saints Sean Payton, and actor Harrison Ford are also honorary members of the Coral Reefer Band.
  92. Ex-Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski paid Jimmy Buffett $250,000 to perform at his girlfriend’s birthday party.  Later, Kozlowski was sentenced to 25 years for taking millions in unauthorized bonuses. 
  93. Jimmy Buffett’s song “Volcano” was inspired by the Soufrière Hills volcano located in the British West Indies.
  94. There are eight songs that are almost always performed at a Jimmy Buffett concert.  Those songs are:

  95. "Pirate Looks at Forty"
    "Cheeseburger in Paradise"
    "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes"
    "Come Monday"
    “Why Don’t We Get Drunk”

  96. Jimmy Buffett released Christmas Island in 1996.  The album contains the tracks “Christmas Island,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” and “Ho Ho Ho & a Bottle of Rum.”
  97. In the song “Pencil Thin Mustache,” Jimmy Buffett mentions Ricky Ricardo, Andy Devine, and Errol Flynn.
  98. Jimmy Buffett co-wrote two children’s books with his oldest daughter.
  99. Jimmy Buffett recorded the Frank Loesser classic “On a Slow Boat to China” for his 1982 album Somewhere over China.
  100. Of the eleven songs on Jimmy Buffett’s 1974 album, Living and Dying in 3/4 Time, only seven are actually in ¾ time.
  101. Jimmy Buffett rewrote the lyrics to “Fins” for the Miami Dolphins. 

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Foo Fighters Celebrate 20th Anniversary In 2015

by Noiz 8. January 2015 14:10

Foo Fighters Celebrate 20th Anniversary In 2015

Two decades.

That’s how long Foo Fighters have been making albums, selling concert tickets, and constantly being booked as musical guests on late night talk shows.

This information may make you feel old especially if you remember their self-titled, debut album.  It will definitely make you feel old if you remember David Grohl’s previous band, Nirvana. 

It should be noted that Foo Fighters didn’t begin life as a “band.”  It began as a Grohl solo project.  During lulls when Nirvana was on tour, Grohl would write songs.  He wrote about forty of them but was so enamored with, and imitated by, Kurt Cobain that he kept his tunes to himself.

After Cobain’s death, and the dissolution of Nirvana, Grohl found himself at a crossroads.  He could either be a drummer in another band (one of his many offers was from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) or he could step out from behind the kit and be a front man.  He chose the latter.

Grohl recorded all the tracks to all of the songs on the Foo Fighter’s debut album minus one (the exception being a guitar part on “X-Static” that was recorded by Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs).  Grohl then went about putting a band together so he could hit the road.  He recruited bassist Nate Mendel, drummer William Goldsmith, and guitarist Pat Smear (who had been a touring member for Nirvana). 

Grohl asked former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic to join Foo Fighters.  After some consideration both musicians realized it was a bad idea.  While they wanted to play with one another they thought it would make things uncomfortable for the other members of the group.  Almost certainly the band would have been labeled “Nirvana-light” and littered with taunts like: “I liked you guys better with Kurt Cobain” and “’Play something from Nevermind.’”

The lineup has changed through the years.  Smear left for about four years and was replaced by Franz Stahl and then by Chris Shiflett (who’s still a member).  The band welcomed drummer Taylor Hawkins to the mix after Goldsmith split in 1997.  During Foo Fighters tours, the group is joined by multi-instrumentalist Rami Jafee.

Foo Fighters Current Lineup
Dave Grohl
Nate Mendel
Pat Smear
Taylor Hawkins
Chris Shiflett

20th Anniversary
Foo Fighters will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a world tour.  Their odyssey began in December 2014 in South Africa.  It resumes in mid-January in South America.  In February, they’ll gallivant around New Zealand and Australia.  In late-May, they’ll tramp all over Europe.  Cities on this part of their circuit include Hamburg, Oslo, and London.

Fourth of July
Foo Fighters begin the North American leg of their global slog on July 4 in Washington, D.C.  That’s a significant date in Foo Fighters history.  The group released their first album on America’s birthday back in 1995.  Their debut peaked at number 23 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA.

That Fourth of July concert will go down at RFK Stadium.  Those in attendance should expect a bevy of guest appearances from big-time artists like Heart, Joan Jett, Gary Clark Jr., and Buddy Guy.  Also scheduled are a motorcycle rally and a fireworks show.

Stadiums & Schedule
RFK Stadium is one of four stadiums on the band’s schedule.  The other three are Citi Field in New York City, Fenway Park in Boston, and Wrigley Field in Chicago.  The rest of the venues on their route are large arenas and amphitheaters. 

As it stands right now, the Foo Fighters will perform 34 shows in the U.S. and Canada including stops in Toronto, Kansas City, Anaheim, and Phoenix.  The tour’s finale is set for Oct. 7 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.   

January 10th
Foo Fighters’ first show in the New Year went down Jan. 10 at the Forum in Los Angeles.  The band played in the round with proceeds from the sale of Foo Fighters tickets going to the charities of MusiCares, Sweet Relief, and Rock School Scholarship Fund.  The show came four days before Grohl’s 46th birthday. 

Sonic Highways Tour
Foo Fighters’ jaunt is being dubbed the “Sonic Highways World Tour.”  It’s named after the band’s eighth studio album, Sonic Highway. 

The opus dropped Nov. 10, 2014 and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 selling 190,000 copies in its inaugural week.  The album was produced by Butch Vig and contains contributions from Rick Nielsen, Zac Brown, Joe Walsh, and Ben Gibbard.

Sonic Highways is eight songs long.  Each song was recorded in a different city at a famous recording studio.  The recording process took place from September 2013 to July 2014.  Sessions were filmed and used in a television series that aired on HBO.  This is the second time Foo Fighters have done the album, tour, and documentary thing.

Grohl created and directed the series.  Each episode tells the musical history of the city and contains interviews with key musicians and studio personnel.  All the programs end with a music video of the song Foo Fighters recorded in that particular city.

Cities & Studios On Sonic Highways
Chicago – Electrical Audio
Arlington – Inner Ear
Nashville – Southern Ground Studio
Austin – Austin City Limits Studio
Joshua Tree (Los Angeles) – Rancho De La Luna
New Orleans – Preservation Hall
Seattle – Robert Lang Studios
New York – The Magic Shop

The album, which Grohl describes as a love letter to American music, has received mixed reviews.  The band’s ambitions have been lauded even though the final product is a bit didactic.  The group may have recorded eight songs in eight cities but all still sound like Foo Fighters songs.  For some this is a good thing.  For others it’s a bit of a letdown.

Other “Band-iversaries”
Foo Fighters aren’t the only band celebrating two decades of existence.  Other groups that released their debut platter back in 1995 include Wilco, Rammstein, Blink 182, Ben Folds Five, Sugar Ray, Goodie Mob, Deftones, Hanson, and (here’s a blast from the past) Silverchair.

Four prominent solo artists will also be entering their 21st year of making records: Jewel, Faith Evans, Ben Lee, and Enrique Iglesias. 

The year 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of Shania Twain’s The Woman in Me, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, and Mariah Carey’s Daydream.  All three albums sold more than 20 million copies.

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