February 2005

Million Dollar Baby Wins Four Top Oscars

The boxing saga “Million Dollar Baby” was the Academy Awards heavyweight Sunday, claiming best picture and three other trophies, including honors for director Clint Eastwoo), lead-actress Hilary Swank and supporting-actor Morgan Freeman.

Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” came away with the most Oscars, its five awards including the supporting-actress prize for Cate Blanchett.

Eastwood, who at 74 became the oldest directing winner ever, noted his mother was with him when his Western “Unforgiven” won the 1992 best-picture and directing Oscar.

The 77th Oscars were another heartbreak for Scorsese, the man behind “The Aviator,” who lost the directing race for the fifth time. Scorsese matched the record of Oscar futility held by a handful of legendary filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman, who also went 0-for-5 in the directing category.

Swank became a double Academy Award winner Sunday for “Million Dollar Baby,” while Jamie Foxx took lead actor for “Ray.” The wins for Freeman and Foxx made it only the second time blacks won two of the four acting prizes.

Swank, who previously won the best-actress Oscar for “Boys Don’t Cry,” once again beat out main rival Annette Bening, nominated for the theater farce “Being Julia.” Bening had been the front-runner for “American Beauty” five years ago but lost to underdog Swank.

Foxx won for his uncanny emulation of Ray Charles in “Ray.” As he had at earlier awards triumphs, Foxx led the Oscar audience in a rendition of the call-and-response chant from Charles’ 1959 hit “What’d I Say,” whose funky electric-piano grooves play over the opening credits of “Ray.”

Foxx had been a double Oscar nominee, also picked in the supporting category for the hit man thriller “Collateral.”

Playing Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator,” Blanchett had the spirit of the Oscars’ most-honored actress on her side. Hepburn, the love of Hughes’ life in the 1930s before she began her long romance with Spencer Tracy, earned 12 nominations and won a record four Oscars.

“Thank you, of course, to Miss Hepburn. The longevity of her career I think is inspiring to everyone,” said Blanchett. She added thanks to “Aviator” director Scorsese, saying, “I hope my son will marry your daughter.”

Oscar host Chris Rock said Blanchett was so convincing that Sidney Poitier, Hepburn’s co-star in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” showed up at Blanchett’s house for supper.

The wins by Freeman and Foxx followed Denzel Washington and Halle Berry’s triumph three years ago for “Training Day” and “Monster’s Ball,” the only other time blacks claimed two acting Oscars.

The superhero action comedy “The Incredibles” won the animated-feature prize, beating 2004’s biggest box-office hit, the fairy-tale sequel “Shrek 2.” It was the second-straight animated Oscar for Pixar Animation, which won a year ago for “Finding Nemo.”

Source yahoo.com.

For a full list of winners, visit here.

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Dinosaur Jr., Mercury Rev, Sigur Ros, The Music, Cake, Confirmed For Fuji Rock Fest

Sigur Ros, Mercury Rev, the Pogues, the reunited Dinosaur Jr. and Fatboy Slim are among the first acts to sign on for Japan’s annual Fuji Rock Festival. The event will be held July 29-31 at the Naeba Ski Resort outside Tokyo.

Other confirmed artists include the Music, the Coral, Dresden Dolls, Kaiser Chiefs, the Bravery, Cake, the Beach Boys, Yonder Mountain String Band, Steel Pulse, Aqualung and Juliette and the Licks. For ticket information, visit Fuji Rock’s official web site.

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Blue Merle: Burning in the Sun

Much like the Dave Matthews Band did with Under the Table and Dreaming a decade ago, Blue Merle has a chance to change the rules of pop music with the major debut, Burning in the Sun, and in the process possibly become one of the biggest pop-rock acts in the country.

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Bela Fleck Finds Four Side Projects

Bela Fleck is taking 2005 off from touring with the Flecktones, but he will still be very busy with a number of new projects. According to his official Web site, Fleck is currently recording an album in Africa with native musicians, sessions for which will also yield a future documentary DVD. Fleck will report on the experience weekly on National Public Radio’s “The World.”

After returning from Africa, Fleck will begin a series of performances with Bryan Sutton and Cassey Driessen as the Acoustic Trio on March 26 at the Suwannee Festival in Live Oak, Fla. Other confirmed appearances include Merlefest in North Carolina in late April, Bonnaroo in mid-June and the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in late September in Longford, Ireland.

But Fleck will spend most of the summer performing with !Trio! alongside jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and violinist Jean Luc Ponty. The group is crafting original material to perform at North American jazz festivals and during a July European run.

Stretching into late November, Fleck will play 10 dates with longtime collaborator/bassist Edgar Meyer. The pair is also planning to work on its second concerto next year, on the heels of their 2004 album, “Music for Two.”

Fleck will return to his main band when the year is up, noting that “The Flecktones have a new album recorded already and will release it when we come back on the road in early 2006.”

Source billboard.com.

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Kasabian: Brit Rock Riot (Chris Edwards Interview)

Since breaking into the UK mainstream this past summer, Kasabian have been outspoken proponents of their aggressive, confident blend of beats and guitars – taking their homeland by storm and administering what they believe was a much needed shot of honesty and ambition.

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Everyone Orchestra

The Everyone Orchestra offers a new paradigm for live music by combining various musicians from popular touring bands for two nights of improvisational music when the group performs the 2nd Annual Pangaea Project Benefit at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland Thursday and Friday April 14, 15 and at WOW Hall in Eugene Saturday, April 16.

The roster of performers includes Jon Fishman of Phish, Billy Nershi and Michael Travis of String Cheese Incident, Kai Eckhardt of Garaj Mahal, Everyone Orchestra founder Matt Butler, and a number of other musicians.

The Everyone Orchestra catalyzes revolving casts of musicians who combine energy and talent to raise funds and awareness for local non-profits through performance of songs and improvisational music. Each Everyone Orchestra performance culminates in unique and unpredictable segments featuring a conductor directing both musicians and audience alike in interactive, lively, and highly danceable jams.

The 2004 inaugural events raised over $4500 for The Pangaea Project which engages teenagers from underserved neighborhoods in local and international service-learning projects by promoting the development of leadership skills, increasing global awareness, and fostering a commitment to work towards social change. Proceeds from Everyone Orchestra show ticket sales, fundraising raffles, and other generous donations will be contributed to The Pangaea Project.

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Pixies, Wilco, Modest Mouse, The Duo, Set For Sasquatch! Music Festival

The Pixies, Kanye West, Wilco and Modest Mouse lead the lineup for the Sasquatch! Music festival, to be held May 28 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash. Other mainstage acts include the Arcade Fire, Ray LaMontagne, Jem, Bloc Party and U.S.E.

The Frames, Joanna Newsom, A.C. Newman, Matisyahu, Bobby Bare Jr., the Be Good Tanyas and the Benevento/Russo Duo will perform on the second stage, while acts with local ties such as Smoosh, Aqueduct, Visqueen and the Blue Scholars will hold court on the third stage.

Sasquatch! is the first confirmed show of 2005 for the Pixies, who staged a triumphant reunion tour last year after a 12-year hiatus. The quartet also plans on working in June and July, according to Marc Geiger, their agent at William Morris Agency.

“We’re discussing some innovative ideas,” Geiger tells Billboard.com. “We’re looking at playing two shows in one night in the same market, with combination tickets. The first show would be a set of rare songs and B-sides, and the second would be the hits.”

Geiger says the Pixies are also talking with other “like-minded” acts about playing some amphitheater shows in July, prior to a European run in late August.

Source billboard.com.

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