January 2011 News
Page updated on January 31, 2011
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JOAN JETT: 30 Years of Rock and Roll
JOAN JETT's tough-as-Teflon guitar sound is an example of Holy Grail post-punk crunch at its finest: a thick bottom with a bright and crisp top and snarl 'n' sustain to spare, all driven by her Gibson Melody Maker.
That sound and the series of irrepressible hits it spawned helped make Jett the first woman to be recognized with a Gibson signature model electric guitar, the JOAN JETT Signature Melody Maker, based on her longtime battle-scarred, white, go-to axe. And that's not all. She also inspired the Gibson JOAN JETT Blackheart model, a one-pickup variation that, true to the literally colorful allusion in its title, is a sleek, black-finished riff machine.
Jett got her first Melody Maker in 1977 when she was in the RUNAWAYS. "It was light and it sounded great," she told Gibson.com last year. "It was the guitar I played on all my hits, like ÔI Love Rock 'n Roll,' ÔBad Reputation' and ÔDo You Wanna Touch Me.' It's my baby."
The Melody Maker had been back in production for six years when Jett acquired her white instrument, which has been subjected to a variety of modifications and change-ups over the years.
Gibson's original run of Melody Makers was from 1959 to 1971 and they were to-the-point, with a mahogany neck and slab style body, routed so its two single-coil pickups, tone and volume pots, and even the jack could be assembled on the pickguard and mounted on the body in a single piece. As the original production run went on, 12-string and three-pickup versions also were manufactured, and the original Gibson Les Paul Special-like single cutaway was doubled. Jett's 1977 model hews close to the first double-cutaway versions, with a Tune-o-Matic bridge -- the first year that feature became available.
To get a close-up look at how Jett and her scalding tone are wired, check out the album that elevated her from the club scene to arena and festival stages, I Love Rock 'n' Roll, which was released 30 years ago but still smells like a fresh power-pop bouquet.
The disc featured the twin six-string attack of Jett and Ricky Byrd, although it's Jett's raging rhythms that drive the entire affair. Jett is known for using a Mesa-Boogie Mark III head with Marshall or Mesa cabinets as well as a Vox AC-30 in tandem, but, according to her current guitar foil DOUGIE NEEDLES, she used a MusicMan 2x12 combo for her power playing on the album's title track, turned up to "stun."
Jett's grounding in punk rock and her scholarly knowledge of '60s garage rock and pop created the album's overall blend of punk-inspired heat balanced by concision and mainstream accessibility.
Rodeo Austin announces 2011 entertainer line-up
Rodeo Austin has announced the entertainer lineup for the 2011 shindig, which takes place March 11 to 26.
The biggest and most senior names participating are Loretta Lynn (78 years young!), Rick Springfield (61 years young! No, really Ñ General Hospital was a long time ago) and JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS (a spry 52 and she rocks harder than you).
Here is the full list of main stage acts.
March 12 - Eli Young Band
March 13 - Big Time Rush
March 14 - Dierks Bentley
March 15 - Jason Derulo
March 16 - Blake Shelton
March 17 - Easton Corbin
March 18 - Josh Turner
March 19 - The Band Perry
March 20 - Ronnie Milsap
March 21 - Joe Nichols
March 22 - JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS
March 23 - Clay Walker
March 24 - Rick Springfield
March 25 - Loretta Lynn
March 26 - Kevin Fowler
Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday. Check out the rodeoÕs website for more information.
JOAN JETT - Jett And Pickler Perform In Iraq
Rock veteran JOAN JETT and country star KELLIE PICKLER performed a concert in Iraq on Wednesday night (12Jan11) to entertain U.S. troops stationed in the war-torn country.
The singers flew to the Middle East this week (beg10Jan11) as part of a mission with the United Service Organizations Inc. (USO), a non-profit group which aims to boost the morale of American servicemen and women around the globe.
Pickler opened for Jett at the show in Basra and she also recorded a video message for the troops to thank them for their bravery.
She says, "(Performing in Iraq is) the least I could do. You all are here for so much of the year, and some are here for 18 months at a time... It's the least I can do to bring a little home to you guys, because I know you need it.
"I've always had a great deal of respect for what you all do. Having been here, and seeing with my own eyes what you do, what you really do and what you really stand for... I have an even greater respect. I feel like 'thank you' is not enough, but thank you so much. I can tell you that I will never take it for granted."
Jett, Pickler Delight Middle East-Based Troops
One recording legend and one country singing starlet are building upon their already substantial USO legacies by entertaining the troops overseas.
JOAN JETT and Kellie Pickler are kicking off 2011 by delivering some post-holiday cheer and tidings in the Middle East, visiting four bases and over 1,900 troops.
"I'd say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity but I've gone out on more USO tours than I can count," Jett said. "I never get tired of giving back to the men and women who serve this great nation, and I am just as excited to go out today as I was 29 years ago."
Jett may have lost count but the rocker has dropped into over 60 bases and was the first entertainer to support Operation Enduring Freedom. She's spanned the globe many times over, stopping at bases in Kosovo, Okinawa, Italy, and Bosnia in addition to the Middle East.
For former "American Idol" contestant Kellie Pickler, her career is just beginning, but the popular country music singer has already been on tour with the USO twice before after embarking on her first tour in 2007 and has since traveled to six countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Germany.
"I love performing with the USO and look forward to them each and every year," Pickler said. "It has been the most impactful, life-changing thing I've been able to do. It's like taking a piece of home to the brave men and women who serve this country. But those camel spiders scare the crap out of me."
JOAN JETT and Kellie Pickler Rock and Lull Camp Buehring
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait--Over four hundred service members stormed the picnic tables here an hour before the concert was due to begin in an attempt to obtain front row seats Sunday night, Jan. 9.
Hard rocker JOAN JETT and country music artist Kellie Pickler conducted a crowd pleasing 2 hour show at Camp Buehring as part of a week-long USO entertainment tour for American Armed Forces serving in the Middle East.
Both Jett and Pickler are USO veterans, having participated in three and four previous tours respectively.
"It was nice to hear that country twang again," said Spc. Jeremiah Morgan, an intelligence specialist assigned to 1st Battalion, 201 Field Artillery from West Virginia.
As the night wore on, the crowd grew louder, as soldiers sang along and clapped to the beat of the songs. Before Pickler relinquished the stage to the much anticipated JOAN JETT, she encouraged a Marine to join her on the stage to sing her chart breaking single, "Red High Heels."
While Pickler provided comic relief, Jett altered the atmosphere, energetically dancing around the stage with her guitar while encouraging interaction from the audience.
When JOAN JETT's band The RUNAWAYS expired in 1979, Joan had, in the previous four years, headlined shows with Van Halen and Tom Petty supporting, written the classic hit Cherry Bomb, and toured worldwide, imbibing bulk narcotics en route. When The RUNAWAYS disbanded in 1979, JOAN JETT was 19 years old.
It'd be enough to send the most seasoned rock dog into hiatus, but Joan had plans and nothing was gonna stop her. That's when she met KENNY LAGUNA -- performer, songwriter, producer -- who remains her best mate and partner-in-Blackheart-crime to this day. Together they kept the motor running.
Laguna himself calls me one morning, explaining in his Sylvester Stallone drawl that the calling company has failed; he's trying to avoid having the "whole day cocked up", and asks if I am happy for him "to put Joanie on the phone." I'm very happy. I ask Joan, woman-to-woman, didn't she -- just for a minute -- doubt she could reach the dizzying heights of golden-days RUNAWAYS?
In the Laguna accent, though softer; less deep, she explains, "Once I met Kenny it was easy to fight together with The BLACKHEARTS. But we still ran into a lot of resistance. I mean, The BLACKHEARTS formed in late '79 and I Love Rock Ôn' Roll was a hit in '82. We spent those first years touring, building our audience and making records. We were very much supported by local New York radio. Those were the days when the disc jockey still chose the music and listened to audience requests. We don't live in that world anymore."
More than twenty labels knocked back I Love Rock Ôn' Roll, prompting Joan and Kenny to start a label, making Joan the first woman ever to own and operate one. Over the past thirty years, I want to know, has she perceived sexism for women in rock dissipating?
"I think the business has changed so much, so I'm happy when I see all-girl bands playing rock Ôn' roll all over America. I'm sure it's the same around the world, certainly in Europe," she muses, explaining that major labels seem to like throwing money at pop and country more, while the indie scene thrives because girls can do everything themselves. "Maybe you could tell me what it's like in Australia -- if there's a lot of girls playing in bands in Australia or if they're gravitating toward the pop scene?"
Our indie scene is strong, I tell Joan, but I'm not sure what the label support is like compared to pop and country. Oz rock has historically been a men's club, with shining lights like Chrissie Amphlett, Suze DeMarchi and Adalita Srsen, but today Australian artists seem supportive of each other, regardless of gender. Still, while rock music seems to attract more boys than girls, I concede, the chicks I know in bands tend to organise a lot and work really fucking hard: it is such hard work.
JOAN JETT Makes a Lasting Impression on One Fan's Heart -- Picture Book
Each week, in Picture Book, we present an iconic photo from rock 'n' roll's past or present, accompanied with insightful commentary. Whether it's a famous picture or an unearthed rarity, these striking images will serve to illustrate the visual side of music.
JOAN JETT, Philadelphia, March 1978
A 19-year-old JOAN JETT signs a fan's chest during a stop to promote 'Live From Japan,' by her band the RUNAWAYS. While the teenage RUNAWAYS never really caught on in the US -- 'Live From Japan' wasn't even released stateside -- the hard-rocking all-girl band was a huge hit in Japan and Australia.
A year after this photo was taken, however, the RUNAWAYS broke up, finishing with more promise than hits. Two years later, Jett scored a No. 1 hit in the US and Canada (and No. 4 in the UK) with 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll,' a tune she'd seen a band called the Arrows perform on British television in 1976. The rest of the RUNAWAYS, who were touring Europe with her at the time, didn't like the song and had rejected Jett's suggestion that they cover it.
In Review - JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS Live at the Annandale Hotel, Sydney
SHE MAY HAVE ARRIVED fashionably late, but faced with a hero's welcome, the Goddess of Punk could afford to tease the crowd any way she pleased. And tease - and charm, and wow - she most certainly did.
"I couldn't get my pants on, it's too sticky," she offered by way of explanation, after blasting out "Bad Reputation" and that other RUNAWAYS classic, "Cherry Bomb". This was Jett's first Sydney show in 15 years - and she was clearly aware of the fact.
So much so, she was soon drenched with sweat as she rolled out ÒLight of DayÓ (that 1980s film collaboration with Bruce Springsteen), with long-term manager, KENNY LAGUNA, beaming from behind his keyboard, his fearless artist radiant and untouchable. Jett even slipped in a new-ish number - the apt "Androgynous" (from her most recent release, 2006's SINNER) - and it worked. (An impressively rock-solid rhythm section helped.)
Opting to turn up the heat still further on this, a one-off club show to close a brief festival visit (following the success of the Jett-sponsored biopic The RUNAWAYS, which premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival), she gladly threw caution to the wind: egging her adoring crowd on with cries of "Kick my ass!" before referencing - of all things - a mŽnage a trois. The room, not surprisingly, approved. (As it did for "Do You Wanna Touch Me", a song she's, thankfully, long made her own.)
Her timing was, for the most part, immaculate, her playing effortless, her stage presence undeniable - and her raw, vital energy suited the inner-west venue just fine. JOAN JETT was back. And she couldn't be happier about the fact.
All too soon, though, and the grand finale of those irresistible anthems became evident: by way of the mammoth "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" (of course), plus the timeless "Crimson and Clover" and the defiant "I Hate Myself for Loving You". The final encore - of Sly and the Family Stone's playful funk, "Everyday People" Ð felt strangely lacking by comparison, but it hardly mattered. The Runaway punk left the stage with an ecstatic audience demanding more. And if she's true to her word, sheÕll be back to carry on.
Rocker JOAN JETT: black to basics
Her fans loved her, feminists hated her, but JOAN JETT has never had to answer to anyone but herself. As she gears up to play Brisbane's Sunset Sounds festival with her band, the BLACKHEARTS, we asked the guitar heroine why she loves rock'n'roll.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PICK UP A GUITAR IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Something about the sounds. I'd hear records on the radio, songs like Alice Cooper's hits, Led Zeppelin, All Right Now by the Free, Bang a Gong by T-Rex. Hearing songs like that, I wanted to make those noises.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST GUITAR?
I asked my parents for one and they bought it for me. They always told me as a little girl that I could be anything I wanted.
TELL US ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF YOUR BAND, THE RUNAWAYS.
My family moved to California and I thought, 'Wow, I can really make this happen. I'm close to Hollywood, there's gotta be other girls like me who wanna play rock'n'roll in LA'. And I was hanging out in this club called Rodney's English Disco, which I'd read about in a magazine. They played glitter music, that the kids in America had never heard, stuff like the Sweet and Suzi Quatro and David Bowie and T-Rex and Slade and Gary Glitter. That was the music I was gravitating to when I met (manager) Kim Fowley and Sandy West, who eventually became the RUNAWAYS drummer.
HOW WAS IT SEEING YOUR LIFE ON SCREEN IN THE FILM, THE RUNAWAYS?
It's really surreal. It wasn't bad; it was a good experience, but it was really weird to look up on the screen and do a double take at Kristen (Stewart) as me. I think all the actresses did amazing jobs at presenting us. I can't say enough about that.
WHAT DID YOU AND STEWART TALK ABOUT?
I did tell Kristen things that I wouldn't tell anybody else. That was just back story, RUNAWAYS stuff, or my feelings about something just to give her a sense of who I was beyond this JOAN JETT person. Who was Joan? To try to give her a sense of where I was coming from. Why I was so strident. Why it was so important tome.
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