First-time director Ladj Ly hits big with Cannes prize-winning 'Les Miserables'

Les Misérables trailer French-Malian filmmaker Ladj Ly, whose first feature film Les Misérables won this year’s Jury Prize at Cannes and was selected by France’s Oscar committee as the country’s submission to the Best International Feature Film competition, is in the U.S. doing advance promotion for its limited Jan. 10 domestic release. Ly was in New York Nov. 25 for a screening—part of The Wrap’s Awards and International Screening Series-- at The Landmark at 57 West theater. He did a Q&A right after with The Wrap’s executive editor Thom Geier, who noted that the gripping drama, which has drawn comparisons with Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and the 2001 crime thriller Training Day (starring

Ex-Dictator Handsome Dick Manitoba releases first solo album

Handsome Dick Manitoba performs the P.F. Sloan classic "Eve of Destruction" His first solo album is aptly titled after its closing track, but Handsome Dick Manitoba’s Born in the Bronx (Liberation Hall Records) could just as well be titled after the tune that precedes it: “Soul Punk King of NYC.” For Manitoba, frontman of New York’s historic 1970s pre-punk band The Dictators—and in the mid-‘80s, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom--can stake as rightful a claim to that crown as anyone. Indeed, New York music legend Kenny Laguna (Joan Jett’s manager/collaborator), in a testimonial in the CD notes, says Born in the Bronx “embodies the spirit and the mood of the original punk music I fell in love with.” In

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats on a roll all the way to New York's Iridium

"Contemporary" Rick Estrin & The Nightcats latest album Contemporary quickly showed its strength following its Sept. 20 release. The Bay Area blues band’s fifth album for Alligator Records topped the NACC (North American College & Community) blues chart for the week ending Oct. 1, and debuted at No. 2 on the September 2019 Living Blues Radio Chart. For the week ending Oct. 5, it reached No. 10 on the Contemporary Blues Chart and No. 13 on the Blues Chart from the Roots Music Report. Additionally, it reached No. 1 on the Sept. 2019 International Blues Music Charts, and debuted at No. 10 for the week ending Oct. 5, on Billboard’s Blues Album Chart. And UK music magazine MOJO has just placed Co

Jane Siberry solves 'crimes against common sense' in new YouTube interactive detective serie

Episode 3 of Jane Siberry's "P.I. Squid" Jane Siberry, one fan keenly observes in relation to her new YouTube “interactive detective series” P.I. Squid, “is always looking for balance between the internal and the external.” Indeed, P.I. Squid is the latest enchanting manifestation of the celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter’s depth as an artistic explorer, and finds her in the alter-ego guise of a private investigator and opening her own detective agency for investigating “crimes against common sense.” The first episode, “How Does an Office Begin?,” premiered Oct. 13. The five-minute installment had Siberry, a.k.a. P.I. Squid, sitting alone at the desk of the new agency, writing down the na

Rock 'n' roll legend Tommy Roe looks ahead with '2020 Vision'

The original version of Tommy Roe's 1974 single "Glitter and Gleam" The next decade has already started, what with the release of rock ‘n’ roll great Tommy Roe’s latest EP 2020 Vision. The four-track set, recorded in Nashville by Roe’s old friend Wayne Moss at his Cinderella Sound studio, features three new songs (“Sun in My Eyes,” “Looking For a Thrill” and “Remember”), and a remake of his 1974 single “Glitter and Gleam,” which was originally released on Monument Records. “It was scheduled to be recorded by Elvis Presley on his upcoming session before he died,” says Roe, who toured England with The Beatles as his opening act prior to their U.S. breakthrough. “My ex-producer Felton Jarvis—wh

'Resurrection' of Kinky Friedman continues at full throttle

Kinky Friedman performs "Resurrection" Outlaw country music legend Kinky Friedman, who went 40 years without a studio album of new original material prior to last year’s acclaimed Circus of Life, has incredibly released another album of top-shelf all-new songs. And his new Resurrection (Echo Hill Records) surprises even The Kinkster himself. “Writing songs at the age of 75 is ridiculous!” he says. “Almost nobody does it, or if they do, it’s a pale shadow of when they did their best work. But I think Resurrection is right up there with the best songs I’ve ever done, and Larry just knocked it out of the park!” He’s speaking of Larry Campbell, the renowned multi-instrumentalist who’s worked wit

Mike McGovern--An appreciation

Kinky Friedman played an unexpected somber note at last week’s (Nov. 6) celebratory Lone Star Café Reunion Party II at New York’s Cutting Room—but not without his customary humor and humanity. “The Irish and the Jews do not share a culture. They share a psychosis!” Friedman said in between songs, a lead-in to a heartfelt tribute to his dearly departed friend Mike McGovern—also dearly departed to many of the other reunited Lone Star musicians and many others in the SRO room. A key member of the closely-knit group of “Village Irregulars” who populate Friedman’s acclaimed series of murder mystery novels, Mike McGovern, whom Friedman credits with loaning the old Smith-Corona typewriter on which

Elvis Costello promotes peace in concert

Elvis Costello & The Imposters perform "What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" at Forest Hills Stadium on July 24, 2019. All due respect to the Rolling Stones, but there’s no greater rock ‘n’ roll band in the world than Elvis Costello & The Imposters (omni-keyboardist Steve Nieve, bassist Davey Farragher and “the one and only” Pete Thomas on drums). Currently out on a tour entitled Just Trust (the name answers, per Costello’s website, inevitable fan questions like “Will they play my favorite song?” or “Are they going to frighten the horses with a lot of excellent songs that are rarely performed?”), the band, augmented once again by stellar backup singers Kitten Kuroi and Bria

Russ Titelman, LaChanze honored by Rockers on Broadway

Russ Titelman at Rockers on Broadway Grammy-winning producer Russ Titelman (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood) and Tony-winning (The Color Purple) actress LaChanze received the Life Achievement Award last night at the annual Rockers on Broadway benefit concert at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Proceeds from the SRO event help fund charities including The PATH (Performing Artists That Help) Fund non-profit dedicated to supporting arts education and New York City’s arts community. Best-known for his music producing, Titelman has also written songs with legends like Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and recorded by the likes of Linda Ronstadt, The Hollies, Lesley Gore and The Monkees

Rosanne Cash, with Ry Cooder's help, finally sings her father's songs

Rosanne Cash and Ry Cooder perform the Johnny Cash classic "Long Black Veil" As a commentator, Rosanne Cash was a high point of several episodes of Ken Burns’ recently programmed PBS Country Music documentary series, her frequent contributions, especially on her father’s life and career, as insightful and eloquent as her own work as an artist and essayist. As a performer, however, Cash until last year shied away from performing her father’s music. As she explained then, “From the very beginning I’ve tried to scratch out my own identity inside a very long shadow.” Recapping her change of heart Nov. 2 at Carnegie Hall, she recalled that as artist-in-residence at SFJAZZ Center in 2017-18, she w

Songwriters Hall of Fame announces 2020 nominees

Top row, left to right: Steve Miller, Annie Lennox and David Stewart, R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe), Roger Nichols, and the songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Row 2: Patti Smith, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams (professionally known as The Neptunes, Vince Gill, Gloria Estefan, and the songwriting team of L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine. Row 3: William "Mickey" Stevenson, Mike Love, Mariah Carey, André "André 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton (Outkast). Row 4: Rick Nowels, Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, Journey (Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry and Neil Schon), the Isley Brothers (Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Is