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Bankruptcy, Health Problems Could Cause Cat Power To Cancel European Tour Dates

It sounds like Cat Power has had a tough couple of months. Last night, the singer posted a cryptic Instagram photo with a long, confessional caption. According to the post, the singer has recently been struggling with bankruptcy and other health problems including Angioedema, the rapid swelling of subcutaneous tissue. Cat Power, whose real name is Chan Marshall, supposedly became sick the day that Sun, her ninth album, came out in September. Given her recent health struggles and possible bankruptcy, the singer is contemplating canceling her upcoming European tour dates. Marshall has had a difficult time maintaining her health in recent years. In 2006, the singer struggled with substance abuse and a mental breakdown that replaced the tour for her new album The Greatest with a stay in Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Marshall’s struggles with her health may be unique, but her financial woes are not uncommon for even top independent artists. A recent Vulture piece revealed that Grizzly Bear, the poster boys for large-scale indie success, struggle to afford health care, and that lead singer Ed Droste still lives in the same 450-square-foot Brooklyn apartment that he inhabited during the recording of the band’s first album. Marshall may be going through a hard time, but she can at least take some solace in knowing that she’s not the only one.

Check out OurStage artist Jesse Lafser if you’re a fan of Cat Power!

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Sound And Vision: Why Hasn’t Tabloid Notoriety Turned John Mayer into a Total Joke?

“John Mayer Gets a Haircut After Katy Perry Split!”

As breaking news of the day goes, it’s not exactly groundbreaking. Still, there it was, in multiple variations, splattered across the online pages of E!, Us Weekly, Entertainment Weekly (which called it a “hair break-over”), People magazine and so many other websites devoted, in large and small part, to such trivialities. You’d think Samson had risen from the dead and taken up guitar.

But wait! Shouldn’t Delilah — I mean, Katy Perry — have been the star of this life (and a new ‘do)-after-love story? Traditionally, the celebrity tabloids and gossip websites pursue female celebrities about whom they date, whom they marry, whom they divorce, to search for baby bumps, and fashion dos and don’ts. Guys generally get in only when they’re dating one of them. (Why do you think Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger, who once went from long to short without causing so much as a media ripple and is now engaged to Avril Lavigne, is suddenly “newsworthy”?)

By those standards, John Mayer must be some kind of publicity-baiting genius. In the last several years, he’s made himself as much of a tabloid fixture as an A-list starlet by dating a succession of them: Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift, and most recently, Katy Perry, his pop-star paramour of a few months. Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Why Hasn’t Tabloid Notoriety Turned John Mayer into a Total Joke?’

Ladies First: Lilith 2010 Comes To Boston

Music fans, artists and festival organizers couldn’t have wished for a better day for the Boston area stop on the Lilith 2010 Tour.  While the sun shone down on the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA, a cool breeze provided attendees with relief from the area’s recent record high temperatures. Festival goers found pre-evening action at the Village Stage and the ABC Stage, which were both set up in a lovely shady grove of trees alongside tents housing some of Lilith’s sponsors and the non-profit organizations each tour stop benefits.

Winterbloom with Lilith co-founder Sarah McLachlan. Photo by Asia Kepka

OurStage “Lilith Local Talent Search” Boston winners Winterbloom were the first band of the day on the Village Stage. Winterbloom, a singer-songwriter/folk supergroup of sorts, is made up of Boston singer-songwriter stars Meg Hutchinson, Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Natalia Zukerman and special guest Rose Polenzani. Separately, each of these women is a musical force to be reckoned with. Together, they are on another level. The Winterbloom women and their sweet vocal harmonies greeted Lilith attendees as they filled into the Comcast Center. What did it feel like to perform at Lilith? “It felt amazing!,” said Winterbloom’s Ann Heaton, “Each day I keep wanting to know who to thank at OurStage for managing the competition and helping this come to be…Lilith itself had such a great supportive feeling of community… It was great to be around such talented, smart and kind women doing their own things in their own ways!” Bandmate Rose Polenzani echoes Heaton’s sentiments. “We had such a wonderful time at Lilith Fair… Right before the finale, one of the backstage crew members held up an assortment of percussion instruments and offered them to anyone who wanted to play them. This gesture showed such a spirit of fun and welcoming…” “Having the Lilith Fair date did give us something to work toward as a band,” said Winterbloom’s Antje Duvekot, “And the audience at Lilith Fair was really great and supportive of our performance.”

Did your judging help Winterbloom win? The women of Winterbloom put together a special video just for you! View their thank-you video here.

Butterfly Boucher belts it out. Photo by Mike Splain

Butterfly Boucher (Yes, that is her real name. “I have creative parents,” Boucher told the audience) also played a great set on the Village Stage. After performing a few songs solo with her “band in a box,” she was joined onstage by Sarah McLachlan’s band. The crowd got a big surprise when Sarah herself came out to join Butterfly and the band for a few songs.

Boucher was followed by Serena Ryder, who opened with an almost acapella,  gospel-tinged number which blew the crowd away. Ryder’s stage presence was dynamic, evidenced by her jumping up and down and thrashing her head in time with the music.

Missy Higgins tunes up. Photo by Mike Splain

In contrast was Missy Higgins, who’s set included herself, a keyboard, a guitar and a bassist. With such a minimalist setup, an artist can’t afford to have a weak voice or stage presence. Missy had neither, hitting every note spot on and engaging the audience with stories about each song. She played several songs from her newest album On A Clear Night, including “Steer, ” which she introduced by telling the crowd “This song’s about being free.” Set closer “Where I Stood” left many audience members wiping away tears.

Sara Bareilles performed what was maybe the most active set of the evening. She

Cheers, Boston! Sara Bareilles. Photo by Mike Splain

opened with her hit ”Love Song,” which sounded fresh and full of emotion, even though she has surely played it thousands of times by now. Bareilles then launched into a cover of Beyoncé’s hit “Single Ladies,” which involved the vocal assistance of a young fan named Sammy, who ran up to the front of the stage and was given the mic by Barielles.  Newer material left audience members eager for the September release of her new album Kaleidoscope Heart.

Sarah’s high-energy show was followed by the soulful sounds of Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power). Chan and her band opened with “Good Woman” from her 2003 album You Are Free, which then segued into a cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Satisfaction”. Another noteworthy cover in Chan’s set was the Billie Holiday standard, “Don’t Explain.” The cool evening breeze and the last of the sunlight was the perfect match for Chan’s smoky vocals.

Korgs for Quinns: Tegan and Sara. Photo by Mike Splain

The second to last slot of the night belonged to Tegan & Sara. The duo kept their notorious stage banter to a minimum, as they only had a short time to play, but they made sure to mention how much of an impact playing Lilith Fair 11 years ago made on them, and how happy they are to be a part of Lilith again. The Quinn sisters and their band tore through a wide range of songs from their catalog, including “Speak Slow” and “Where Does The Good Go” from 2004’s So Jealous, “Living Room” from 2002’s If It Was You, and “Alligator” off of their most recent album, 2009’s Sainthood.

All of the Lilith artists join together on the Main Stage for the finale. Photo by Asia Kepka

The night closed with Lilith founder Sara McLachlan, who was greeted with a deafening round of applause from the crowd. McLachlan kicked off her set with a bang, leading off with her hits “Angel” and “Building A Mystery.” Her newer material was also well received by fans. At the end of her set, all of the days artists were brought back out to join McLachlan for a performance of the Patti Smith classic “Because The Night.”

The night (and the afternoon) really did belong to the ladies of Lilith. The crowd was diverse—  mothers, daughters, girlfriends, boyfriends—and attendees were just as likely to see young kids dancing to Sara Bareilles as middle aged women rocking out to Tegan and Sara. Everyone genuinely seemed to enjoy the music, which was absolutely top notch.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the kids in attendance were on stage at the 20th anniversary of Lilith Fair talking to the crowd about how inspired they were by the amazing talent and sense of community at Lilith 2010.

Check out the official Lilith Boston recap video (featuring OurStage ‘Lilith Local Talent Search’ Boston winners Winterbloom) here and check out some more pics below!

Fringe benefits: Serena Ryder. Photo by Mike Splain

A Lilith fan shows her support. Photo by Mike Splain

Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. Photo by Mike Splain

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

iamamiwhoami artist revealed?


Maybe you’ve been following the enigmatic (and fairly disturbing) videos of mystery artist iamamiwhoami on YouTube. If not, do check them out. Most are one-minute vignettes set to alternately ambient and jarring electronic music, featuring a feral blonde woman with freakishly long eyelashes. First guess is Lady Gaga, naturally. Who else would wrap themselves in plastic to play the piano, or lick a tree? Well, looks like there may be another wildly eccentric pop performance artist out there. For the mystery reveal, click here. Check out the video here.

The Bad

Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” finally debuts

Lady Gaga's "Telephone"

(And by “bad” we mean Michael Jackson-style, you know, with dancing thugs, leather and snarls.)

The wait is over for the Lady Gaga and Beyoncé collaborative video for “Telephone.” For your patience, you get nine-plus minutes of women’s penitentiary sexy times, sandwich making, mass poisonings, multiple costume changes and good ol’ fashioned, Thelma and Louise-style, female camaraderie. (Sweet Beyoncé even swears!) Get an eyeful here… and lookout for cigarette sunglasses to become the next big thing.

Alex Chilton dies

Alex Chilton

The untimely deaths keep coming. This time it’s Alex Chilton, former front man of ’60s pop act the Box Tops and later, Big Star. Chilton died in New Orleans on Wednesday at the age of 59 from what appears to be a heart problem. If you’re unfamiliar with Chilton’s work, we suggest you go to your music source of choice and download “The Letter” by the Box Tops and “September Gurls” by Big Star. Another sad day for music.

The Ugly

Miley Cyrus says a bunch of dumb stuff in Teen Vogue

Miley Cyrus

Oh Miley. The soundbites from your latest interview are like potent little vitamins to fortify all your haters. When you’re not dissing the public at large by declaring you and your boyfriend’s superiority (“I think we’re both deeper than normal people, what they think and how they feel,”) then you’re contradicting yourself. Exhibit A: “The more I make music that doesn’t truly inspire me, the more I feel like I’m blending in with everyone else. So after this next album, I’m taking some time off.” Exhibit B: “I don’t really believe in breaks.” Once you figure it out, let us know. We’ll have to make do in the meantime with our shallow thoughts and feelings.


SXSW Preview: Kelsey Wild

Each year, the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, TX showcases hundreds of artists from around the globe.  There, artists, industry experts and music lovers get the opportunity to meet and connectcreating bonds that can further music careers for years to come.  Many deserving, indie acts are give the chance to showcase their talent for people who can help them hone their skills. One such artist, Kelsey Wild, has been making her own way in Chicago for years now.  Though only 19, Wild’s voice is timeless think Cat Power or Regina Spektor.  Her sweetly haunting melodies caught the eye of SXSW back in ’09, so Wild has had some time to prepare for this year’s event.  With kind eyes and an unbridled spirit, Kelsey Wild is sure to take Austin by storm in March. OurStage caught up with Wild recently to discuss the upcoming conference and her preparations for it.

Continue reading ‘SXSW Preview: Kelsey Wild’


cmjdotcom_webWelcome to our eleventh installment featuring CMJ’s OurStage Staff Picks from the CMJ Relay Blog. CMJ is well known for their industry leading New Music Report magazine, which contains music reviews, artist news and interviews with the best artists being played on college radio.

The Stars Misplaced

Indie-Pop Channel
The San Jose based trio is fronted by guitarist Angie T, who sings softly over pulsing guitar chords and heightening drum lines on “Nothing,” giving Grace Slick a solid run for her money.
RIYL: Jefferson Airplane, She Keeps Bees, Cat Power


“The Gilded Cage”
Electronic Channel
As they take turns on the mic, the husband and wife duo makes music that teeters between atmospheric, moody art rock, and infectious dancey rock ’n’ roll.
RIYL: Placebo, Radiohead, Metric

Baxandall IP

“Mellow Deep”
Experimental Channel
These minimalistic technoids hail from Poland with just the right amount of abstract groove and beat.
RIYL: Ellen Allien, Kraftwerk, Apparat



Just because a girl has an acoustic guitar and a nice voice doesn’t mean her music is already wrote. When Janis Ian and Joan Baez all but cornered the market on female songwriters/politicos, along came Ani DiFranco with a fiercely original take on musical protest. And although Chan Marshall and Leslie Feist are some of the reigning indie-folk songstresses breaking hearts with their guitars, there’s still room for a few more ingénues. With that in mind, we’d like direct your attention to a girl from Ann Arbor named Jetty Rae. Vocally, Rae is a combination of ether and soul—singing whimsical songs that pack an emotional punch. As she weaves violins and keyboards into her arrangements, keeping her melodies light, sweet and unpredictable—see the undulating refrains of “I Love You”— she proves she’s got meat on her acoustic bones. Rae is in the midst of recording her new album Nobody. With a knack for sophisticated song craft and a comely set of pipes, this is one nobody who’s poised to make a lasting impression.


No Sleep ‘Til Montreal: Quinn goes to Osheaga

After an exhausting, rain-soaked, yet exhilarating day at the Newport Folk Festival, I packed the car and headed north to Montreal for the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. It looks like Chan Marshall (Cat Power) made the same journey because she plays here tonight. I doubt, however, she made the trek in a 1999 Mercury Mystique.

But I’m certainly not complaining. Not with a bill containing MGMT, DeVotchKa, Iggy and the Stooges, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and CSS (among many more).

Unfortunately for Montreal, it looks like I brought the rain with me. That didn’t stop poppy rockers Louis XIV from kicking things off with an energetic set. They weren’t life changing (watered down Strokes?) but they were fun and easy on the ears. More coming soon…

P.S. Highlight of yesterday at Newport? Well, aside from the Young @ Heart Chorus, meeting Bob Boilen whose weekly show, All Songs Considered, is a must listen for me every week. If you don’t subscribe to the ASC podcast, do so.

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Powerful Cat: Chan Marshall @ Newport Folk

A few years ago, Chan Marshall’s reputation as the most frightened stage performer in indie music was legendary. Stories of drinking, drug abuse and bizarre stage antics circulated through the blogosphere like wildfire. With dozens of show cancellations, buying Cat Power tickets had turned into a twisted game of Ticketmaster Roulette.

Would she show up? And if she did, would she stay? And if she stayed, would she behave?

Well, today at the Newport Folk Festival, it became clear that this Cat has come full circle. With confident poise, Chan absolutely crushed. She waved to children in the audience, sang with confidence and even walked through the crowd after jumping off stage.

Congrats Chan. You have truly come full circle!

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