Weekend Preview: Sunset Sessions, She's So Unusual Tour And 'Making Rumours'
CAVANAUGH: As the long summer nights begin in San Diego, it's time for concert tours and music under the stars! So we're offering a music-lover's weekend preview. My guests, Claire Caraska is a free-lance writer and editor. CARASKA: Thanks for having me. CAVANAUGH: And Rosemary Bystrak is founder of SD Dialed In. BYSTRAK: Thank you. CAVANAUGH: Sunset Sessions Rock. It's proving to be a really big steppingstone for musicians in the past. BYSTRAK: Sunset sessions was started by a woman named Michelle Clark to bring industry professionals to one specific area, and then bands perform in front of them, and they actually call rollcall. So all the film supervisors, program directors, are TV supervisor, ad agencies come and they listen to these new artists and hopefully get them licensed. CAVANAUGH: Wow! That must be terrifying! [ LAUGHTER ] BYSTRAK: Well, it used to be a little bit more homegrown. Now the labels will put up -- put the bands forth. So they're still filtered. They're not completely unfiltered. CAVANAUGH: So which musicians can attribute their big breaks to these sessions? BYSTRAK: The big names are blackkeys and Jason Mrazz. They got early starts at these events many years ago. Last year, Jason Mraz came back to thank sunset sessions for everything, launching his career. But there's a lot of lesser known names too, are Joshua Radin, a lot of the bands get really lucrative film licenses and TV licenses. So they can have a career without all the money that it takes to tour. CAVANAUGH: Now, this is the first year that the public can actually join in on the action. Historically, as you say, this has all been for people in the industry. BYSTRAK: Correct. In the daytime, there's panels. So the industry people will be allowed at the panels, which is up at Carlsbad Hilton. But the showcases this year will be at the Belly Up, so there will be tickets available to the public. CAVANAUGH: Why the change? BYSTRAK: I think the original format was a triple-A format. So there's still that, which is adult alternative music, which is mellower. And this is the rock. I believe this is the third year doing the rock. And there's sort of something lost when it's just a bunch of suits listening to rock bands. [ LAUGHTER ] BYSTRAK: In a hotel lobby or whatever it was. So they decided to put it in a club, make it an authentic experience, let true fans who are the actual demographic of the music be there. CAVANAUGH: Any bands you're particularly looking forward to? BYSTRAK: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Is coming back. They're super awesome. I'd love to see them get to the next, level but mostly it's just about new music discovery s. CAVANAUGH: Claire, you're looking forward to seeing an '80s pop princess perform at Humphreys! What is Cindi Lauper celebrating? CARASKA: The 30th anniversary of her debut album, She's So Unusual! She's still so unusual. And that album helped her win a Grammy in 1985. And he was the first female singer to have four top-5 singles from one album with that album. It was Time After Time, Shebob, All Through the Night, and everybody's favorite, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! (Audio Recording Played) CAVANAUGH: I forget what such a fun song that is! CARASKA: And she's going to be performing the entire album from start to finish on this tour, which kicks off right here in San Diego. CAVANAUGH: Now, Lauper is known not only for his music. She's a mom, an activist. What has she been up to recently? CARASKA: She's is a renaissance woman. I don't know when she ever sleeps. She's a really active philanthropist. She cofounded the True Colors Fund, which supports the advancement of equal rights for all. She's active in raising awareness about and bringing an end to LGBT youth homelessness. Last year, she wrote an autobiography. And I also learned that she premiered a reality TV show called Cindy Lauper, still so unusual. CAVANAUGH: And the big thing comes up this weekend! She's up for a Tony award! CARASKA: Yes, this Sunday, the awards will be announced, and she is up for a best score for the Broadway musical kinky boots. She wrote the music and lyrics for it. It's an adaptation of a British film about a struggling shoe factory that saves itself by making custom fetish-type footware for drag artists. If she win, she will be the first solo female to win the Tony for best score. CAVANAUGH: Holy mackerel! CARASKA: Previously it's been a team of a man and a woman that have won. So I'm rooting for her! CAVANAUGH: It's been 30 years since she's so unusual. What kind of performance can we expect? CARASKA: I imagine she won't disappoint! She still looks great. She's really vibrant and full of energy and enthusiasm. So I think it'll be a performance not to miss. CAVANAUGH: Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, Wednesday June 12th. Rosemary, Big Black Delta, happening this Saturday at the Casbah what kind of sound is this? BYSTRAK: An electronic synthesizer, heavy sound drenched in '80s vibes. CAVANAUGH: Back to the '80s! BYSTRAK: Back to the '80s. CARASKA: Can't escape them. BYSTRAK: 20 year cycles, is that how it goes? CAVANAUGH: Yeah! [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Who is behind this band? BYSTRAK: It's the moniker of Jonathan Bates who had a band called Mellowdrone. They came to San Diego years ago playing the Casbah and the Beauty Bar. And they kind of drifted apart. And he started this side project. He also toured with M83 recently. So he probably picked up a lot from touring with them. CAVANAUGH: Let's hear a little bit from Big Black Delta. (Audio Recording Played) CAVANAUGH: Into the night, by Big Black Delta. My goodness! That drum machine! That synthesizer! It is right out of the '80s. Who would you say he is influenced by? BYSTRAK: I think just anyone from that era. But for me, it evokes an EMD, or Erasure's quieter tracks. And he's got that vocoder stuff that everybody is doing again. CAVANAUGH: What is that? BYSTRAK: It's an autotuner, but it creates effects for your voice. CAVANAUGH: Oh, oh! CARASKA: Like Peter Frampton. CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay, an updated version! [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Now, this material is all fairly new. Bates released his first album only a couple months ago. It's said to be a side project. Do you think he's going to be continuing to make music as Big Black Delta? BYSTRAK: Well, it remains to be seen. This is his fourth show of the tour. He just started it this weekend. The album was released a couple months ago. Digitally. It just came out physically this week. I imagine if he gets a good response, why not? It's easier to tour when you're one guy. Although I hear there might be two drummers playing some of those drumbeat parts? CAVANAUGH: Oh! BYSTRAK: So we'll see. CAVANAUGH: Should be interesting to see just one person in front of that big a sound. BYSTRAK: For sure! [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Big black delta, Saturday, June 8th, at the Casbah. Now we're diverging a little bit from actual music performances to a book about music. It should really interest fans of fleetwood Mac. Tell us about the author of this book, Ken Caillat. CARASKA: He is the coproducer and coengineer of Fleetwood Mac's iconic album, rumors. It's one of the best-selling albums of all time. And some may be familiar with his daughter, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat. CAVANAUGH: So he was right in the middle of this. And he's written a book about the making of one of the biggest albums, Rumors. I think anyone even a little bit familiar with Fleetwood Mac Knows there was a lot of drama going on in this band. Give us an idea of the scenario of this multi-level band. CARASKA: I would say it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest soap operas in rock and world history. Everyone in the band right at the time that they were about to go into the studio to record Rumors was breaking up. So bassist, John and his wife Christine were getting a divorce. Stevie 96 and Lindsey bucking ham were splitting after an 8-year relationship. And the drummer was also going through a divorce because he found out his wife was having an affair with his best friend. So there's a lot of animosity, emotional turmoil, jealousy, and also this lineup, they formed in the late '60s founded by Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie. So this fivesome was still pretty new. And learning how to play together. They had only released one album. So yeah, there's just a lot of tensions and newness going on. CAVANAUGH: Now, what can we find out in this book about how these tensions, these emotional upheavals led to the development of what is considered a really great classic album? CARASKA: Yeah, it's pretty remarkable that this album even exists because all the songs were written in the studio. And they were all enfueled by what was going on in each person's life. And a lot of hurtful lyric, a lot of bitterness, a lot of them were about the actual breakups that they were experiencing. And even, like, their new romances. Christine wrote say that you love me for her new boyfriend, posther husband John. So to be in a tiny studio with these people, your former lovers, and singing about these painful subjects, it's hard to imagine. CAVANAUGH: What else has Caillat accomplished as a producer? CARASKA: He was pretty much starting his career with Rumors. And that pretty much launched him as a go-to producer and engineer. So he also worked on Fleetwood's Tusk and live albums. He worked with Joni Mitchell, Herby Hancock, a lot of big names. He said the drugs and partying really got underway with Tusk. That's one of the rumors about Rumors. He said there wasn't a lot of drug use going on. They were experimenting, about you not as bad. CAVANAUGH: He will do a book signing and reading tonight at Warwick's Books in La Jolla.
The weekend ahead is looking bright for live music fans: one of the original pop princesses has a tour stop in San Diego, an LA-based experimental project will perform at the Casbah, a music industry insiders' event finally allows the public to join in the fun and a Fleetwod Mac producer-turned-author stops by Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla to promote his book.
Sunset Sessions is a music industry insiders' event that has propelled some now-household name acts into the spotlight (think Jason Mraz and Fun.) Founded by former independent radio promoter Michele Clark, the three-day convention brings together components of the music industry that are essential to getting fresh talent their big break. This year's San Diego rendition is finally open to the public for the first year ever, meaning that San Diego music lovers can buy tickets to the evening showcases, which will take place at the Belly Up Tavern. Performances will happen on Thursday, June 6 through Saturday, June 8 and will feature newcomers like The Unlikely Candidates, Redlight King, Michelle Delamor and more.
Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual" tour will stop in San Diego next Wednesday, June 12, at Humphrey's by the Bay in Shelter Island. One of the original pop princesses, Lauper is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her "She's So Unusual" album, which cemented her pop princess status when it was released in 1983. She'll perform the entire album, including classics like "Time After Time" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
Big Black Delta, the side project of LA-based musician Jonathan Bates, performs this Saturday, June 8 at The Casbah. Known better for being the vocalist and bassist of the group Mellowdrone, Bates has stepped out on his own and released a self-titled album that features pulsating beats, heavy synthesizer and droned-out vocals.
In 1977, Ken Caillat was with Fleetwood Mac at the Record Plant in Sausalito, CA where they would all, despite having the odds against them, work together to create the now-iconic album "Rumours." The story has it all: love affairs, divorce, drugs, jealousy and fame. Caillat, who is also the father of Grammy-nominated musician Colbie Caillat, recounts what went down during that tumultuous time in his book "Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album." He'll be at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla tonight, June 6, to discuss and sign copies of the book.