Friday, April 25, 2008

Here are the three Billy's for "Billy Elliot"

San Diego teen to be a Billy Elliot

San Diego teenager Kiril Kulish is one of three boys selected to share the role of Billy in the Broadway production of "Billy Elliot: The Musical," with music by Elton John and lyrics and libretto by Lee Hall.

The show, based on the 2000 movie "Billy Elliot," about a talented kid from a working-class family in northern England who wants to dance, opens Oct. 1 at the Imperial Theater in New York.

Announced Tuesday in New York, the selection of the three Billys who will rotate through the role -- Kulish, 14; New Yorker Trent Kowalik, 13, a veteran of the London production; and Montreal-born David Alvarez, 13, who spent many years in San Diego and now lives in New York -- follows a scouting process that began more than three years ago, with countrywide auditions involving hundreds of boys.

Kulish, a trained pianist who began studying ballet at age 5 and ballroom dancing at 8, has won awards in ballet and ballroom competitions.

His sister and publicist Beatrice, who was with Kulish in New York for the announcement, said that at age 3 Kulish began following the ballroom and dance steps she demonstrated on visits home from college. She says she encouraged Kulish to dance "because I just wanted him to meet girls, you know?"

-- Diane Haithman

The Sudbury controversy just won't go away...

Sudbury council scolded over Elton John tickets

The Canadian Press

April 25, 2008 at 1:21 PM EDT

TORONTO — A private meeting by city council in Sudbury, Ont., to discuss a scandal involving Elton John concert tickets did not violate a law banning most closed-door meetings of elected officials, but it came "darn close," Ombudsman Andre Marin said Friday.

Mr. Marin used one of the musician's song titles — Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me — for his special report, which scolded councillors for meeting privately to discuss returning some of the 120 concert tickets they were able to purchase ahead of the general public.

Mr. Marin said the Feb. 20 meeting of 11 of the 13 Sudbury councillors "did not appear to be above board," and was "close to the legal line," but did not technically count as a council meeting under the law because it wasn't about city policy.

"Their behaviour may have passed the legal test, but it didn't pass the smell test, and if they continue with this kind of hanky-panky they're going to eventually transgress and cross the line," Mr. Marin said.

"This is not a case where vindication should be claimed."

A public outcry erupted in the northern Ontario city over the sold-out March 2 show by the pop music legend — one of only two Canadian stops on his recent tour — after people learned the 13 councillors were each able to purchase eight tickets ahead of the general public, who were limited to six tickets each.

"It's given Sudbury a black eye," Mr. Marin said, noting the scandal received international attention.

There was also a similar controversy involving tickets and city council in Kitchener, Ont. — the other Canadian stop on the tour — but there were no complaints about closed-door meetings, so Mr. Marin was never asked to investigate.

Mr. Marin called private meetings of elected officials "dangerous" because they fuel public suspicion.

"Local politicians should think long and hard before closing the doors and letting the sun go down," which usually violates the law, he said.

"Members of the public are very interested whenever public officials discuss issues of salaries and perks and privileges that mere city mortals don't get."

Mr. Marin noted the Sudbury council has since voted to end the practice of councillors getting advance access to events at the municipal arena.

But the vote was close, with Mayor John Rodriguez casting the tiebreaker after councillors deadlocked 6-6 on giving up the perk of preferential access to events at Sudbury Arena. The council also voted to no longer allow Sudbury Arena employees to make advance purchases of two tickets each.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drop The Pilot - Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore did an album of covers a couple of years ago called "Coverage" and Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters was one of the songs on the album. Since I can't find that one online here is my favorite track from the album, a Joan Armatrading song

Come Down In Time - Demo

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Remember those Deluxe Editions?

Well now the release dates for both Tumbleweed Connection and Elton John Deluxe Editions is set for June 3. We'll see if that holds or if they are delayed again.

Disc 1
1. Your Song Album Version
2. I Need You To Turn To
3. Take Me To The Pilot Album Version
4. No Shoe Strings On Louise
5. First Episode At Hienton
6. Sixty Years On Album Version
7. Border Song Album Version
8. The Greatest Discovery
9. The Cage
10. The King Must Die
11. Your Song Demo Version
12. I Need You To Turn To Piano Demo
13. Take Me To The Pilot Piano Demo
14. No Shoe Strings On Louise Piano Demo
15. Sixty Years On Piano Demo
16. The Greatest Discovery Piano Demo
17. The Cage Demo
18. The King Must Die Piano Demo
Disc 2
1. Rock And Roll Madonna Piano Demo
2. Thank You Mama Piano Demo
3. All The Way Down To El Paso Piano Demo
4. I'm Going Home Piano Demo
5. Grey Seal Piano Demo
6. Rock And Roll Madonna Incomplete Band Demo
7. Bad Side Of The Moon
8. Grey Seal
9. Rock And Roll Madonna
10. Border Song BBC Session (With Hookfoot)
11. Your Song BBC Session
12. Take Me To The Pilot BBC Session

Disc 1
1. Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun
2. Come Down In Time
3. Country Comfort Album Version
4. Son Of Your Father
5. My Father's Gun
6. Where To Now St. Peter?
7. Love Song
8. Amoreena
9. Talking Old Soldiers
10. Burn Down The Mission
Disc 2
1. There Goes A Well Known Gun Previously Unreleased
2. Come Down In Time Piano Demo Previously Unreleased
3. Country Comfort Piano Demo Previously Unreleased
4. Son Of Your Father Previously Unreleased
5. Talking Old Soldiers Piano Demo Previously Unreleased
6. Into The Old Man's Shoes Piano Demo Previously Unreleased
7. Sisters Of The Cross Piano Demo Previously Unreleased
8. Madman Across The Water Original Version
9. Into The Old Man's Shoes
10. My Father's Gun BBC Session
11. Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun BBC Session Previously Unreleased
12. Burn Down The Mission BBC Session Previously Unreleased
13. Amoreena BBC Session Previously Unreleased

FEC Complaint filed against Elton/Hillary fundraiser...

Elton John's Clinton Concert Row

AP Photo/Andrew Theodorakis, Pool

Sir Elton John's fundraising event for Hillary Clinton has been questioned by an American government watchdog, because the singer is not a U.S. citizen.

A New York concert the rocker staged last week raised $2.5 million for the senator's presidential campaign.

He also used the Radio City Music Hall stage to pledge his support for the former first lady.

But Judicial Watch claims the fundraiser broke a law prohibiting the raising of funds for election campaigns by foreign nations, because John is British.

A statement from the group reads, "Sir Elton John is not a citizen of the United States and is therefore prohibited from making any contribution to Senator Clinton's presidential campaign."

However, Clinton has hit back, explaining a loophole allowed the star to offer his support.

Her spokesperson tells the New York Times, "Hillary's campaign has complied with the law. Since 1987 ... foreign nationals may volunteer their time for campaigns on an uncompensated basis. Elton John is simply volunteering his uncompensated time to appear at the concert. This appearance is consistent with past rulings."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Elton at the Honda Center

Saturday night's all right for Elton John in Anaheim

Review: The legendary singer and pianist gets a little action in, delighting fans with a hits-filled show.
The Orange County Register
Comments 3 | Recommend 10

It's easy to take classic pop songs for granted: you've heard them for so many years, they almost become background music, something comforting maybe, nothing that you need to listen to all that closely.

But then put them all together, hit after hit, live on stage, as Elton John did Saturday at Honda Center, and suddenly you remember why you loved them the first time you heard them.

So the near-capacity crowd in Anaheim got lucky this time. With Elton on the road in support of a new collection of his No. 1 hits, going in you knew you were probably going to hear your favorite song.

And for two-and-a-half hours and 24 songs, that was exactly what Elton delivered, mixing 12 chart-topping classics with another dozen fan favorites, the majority of them from his classic albums of the '70s.

The show started slowly, the ominous sounding opening chords of "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" sounding as the arena went dark, the instrumental first half of the song perhaps serving as a chance for everyone – Elton, his band and the crowd – to get comfortable for the night.

"The Bitch is Back" followed, getting most of the crowd on its feet and cheering at the opening notes, but after that upbeat rocker, Elton went back to the slower stuff for a trio of songs from his "Madman Across the Water" album, playing the title track, "Tiny Dancer," and "Levon" in succession.

Listening to these perfectly crafted vintage tunes in concert, it's also easy to find yourself transported back to the time and place and age you were when the singer and the song first became important to you.

So as Elton played the romantic and melancholy piano riff that opens "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," my wife was a 12-year-old girl again, with posters on the wall of the singer she thought she'd marry one day. (What can we say? Kids were innocent AND naïve back then?)

A song later, "Daniel," and back in time I went too, to my own awkward childhood, singing along in the bedroom to the AM clock-radio that provided all my music as a kid.

Of course we're all older now, Elton included, and it was a more subdued showman on the stage Saturday. Dressed in a black frock coat with a typically gaudy design ("Music Magic" on the back in sparkly letters, and some combination of instruments, musical notes and a tiny Elton-as-a-wizard appliquéd here and there) he stood up on his piano a few times, and walked the four corners of the stage to acknowledge fans between songs, but seldom spoke between numbers.

His voice remains strong – though you do miss the falsetto and higher ranges he could reach when he originally recorded all of these – and his band was sharp, including drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone, both of whom have played and recorded with Elton since the early'70s.

And, as always, his piano playing was a revelation. Where the singles might have had all those wonderful melody lines he played, most of them were short on solos as pop songs tend to be. In performance, though, Elton stretched out and showed off his skills at the keys of the Yamaha grand piano he plays.

"Rocket Man" extended into a lovely peaceful bit of soloing that seemed like it would wrap up the song, only to segue into rave-up rocker again at the finish. The percussive opening chords of "Bennie and the Jets" set a mood for that song that again let him take off on extended flights of rhythm and melody.

Some songs were a little less obvious choices – "Take Me to the Pilot," "All the Girls Love Alice," "Holiday Inn." A few came from post-'70s albums – "I'm Still Standing," "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," "Believe,"

But at the end, it was the biggest of big hits that had the audience members on their feet and dancing. For "Crocodile Rock," Elton urged the crowd to sing the falsetto la-la-la's of the chorus, then "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" wrapped up the main set on a hard-rocking note.

After a brief break, spent mostly signing autographs at the front of the stage, Elton returned to the keyboard to close things out with two of his prettiest ballads. First, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," with its soaring melody and vocal.

And finally, "Your Song," another standard from my AM-radio-days repertoire, another reminder of why the timeless songs are still good songs to reacquaint yourself in concert from time to time.