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Philadelphia Orchestra goes on strike, cancels opening gala

The Philadelphia Orchestra has gone on strike, canceling an opening night performance that about 1,000 people had come to hear. reports ( ) that the 96 musicians and two librarians who belong to American Federation of Musicians Local 77 decided to strike about an hour before curtain time on Friday. Last-minute efforts to reach an agreement failed during back stage talks.

Orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore appeared on stage about 20 minutes before the concert was to begin and told the audience there would be no performance because a labor agreement wasn't in place for "one of the world's greatest orchestras, if not the greatest."

After the audience left the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, musicians came out carrying picket signs.


Information from:,

Multiday music and camping festival planned for east Texas

Insomniac and C3 Presents said Friday they plan to produce a hybrid music and camping show in spring 2017 in the eastern Texas town of Todd Mission.

According to the producers, expect "three days of eclectic artists and four nights of camping in a spectacular venue with creative festivities extending well beyond music."

C3 Presents is the producer of Austin City Limits music festival in Texas and Lollapalooza in Chicago as well as four international Lollapaloozas. Insomniac's events include the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, the largest multiday music festival in North America.



A topical disc from rock 'n' roll's Southern conscience

Two shootings nearly 85 years apart drove the creation of the Drive-By Truckers' pointed new music.

Patterson Hood was inspired by Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and other police shootings to write "What it Means," a rumination on racism. His bandmate Mike Cooley went back further for "Ramon Casiano," a 15-year-old Mexican immigrant killed in 1931 by Harlon Carter, a teen-ager who grew up to transform the National Rifle Association from a sportsman's group to fierce advocates for less restrictive gun laws.

The songs are the heart of a disc among the most topical, and best, in this Georgia-based rock band's 20-year career. "American Band" also has songs about the Confederate flag, an Oregon school shooting, religious hucksters, culture wars and disaffected youth — and some personal takes on depression and Southern identity.

While the Truckers usually prefer elaborate artwork on their albums, this disc's cover is a photo of the stars and stripes. Releasing it Friday, a month before the election, is no coincidence, either.

"I'd like to think that we could have taken the world by storm if we had written some sweet love songs," Cooley said. "We might have been more successful if we had taken that route."

Quite possibly. More easily forgotten, too.

The Truckers first attracted attention with 2001's "Southern Rock Opera," a concept album about growing up in the South. Their progressive perspective defies and challenges stereotypes. The New York Times turned to Hood for an essay on the Confederate flag, and a song about racism in law enforcement from white men with Southern accents will likely reach people who tune out "Black Lives Matter" protests.

Hood wrote "What it Means" two years ago.

"I was honestly hoping that it would be outdated, and we would just move on and not put it on (the album)," he said. "But it keeps being relevant, unfortunately."

Their Alabama upbringings helped define their world view. Hood's father was a musician who played on Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett records. Cooley said he was in his 30s before he heard anyone refer to the Civil War as the "War of Northern Aggression." A backdrop of "Southern Rock Opera" was the damage done to the South and its economy by the resistance some whites had to the civil rights movement.

"I feel like we're in an era and age where we're kind of watching this happen on a national scale right now," Hood said. "I can't really draw a large distinction between what (Donald) Trump is doing and what (former Alabama Gov. George) Wallace was doing and saying, except I think Wallace was a smarter person."

Hood moved recently to Portland, Oregon, a relocation that informs "Ever South," about how leaving one part of the country doesn't mean it leaves you. In "Baggage," he also writes about his own struggles with depression, a subject he was compelled to write about by public reaction to the death of comic Robin Williams.

The Drive-By Truckers have seen personnel shifts through the years, including, most famously, a stint by Americana star Jason Isbell. Hood and Cooley remain their center. They write separately, pushing each other in a friendly competition. The band is at its best when both writers are at their best, and Cooley's emergence from a writer's block the past few years has deepened their work.

"I'm probably his biggest fan," Hood said. "Nothing makes me happier than getting a whole bunch more Cooley songs to play."

The release a few months ago of Cooley's "Surrender Under Protest," about the killing of nine people in Charleston, S.C., church and the subsequent fight over the Confederate flag, previewed the direction of "American Band." It also attracted a strong reaction on social media, a hint they were working on something provocative.

Not that Cooley noticed. "He doesn't look at the Internet," his partner said.

"I've never used it," Cooley said. "I went to middle school and I don't want to go back."


Follow David Bauder at His work can be found at

The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store

Top Songs

1. Closer (feat. Halsey), The Chainsmokers

2. Starboy (feat. Daft Punk), The Weekend

3. Heathens, twenty one pilots

4. Forever Country, Artists Of Then & Now & Forever

5. This Town, Niall Horan

6. i hate u, i love u (feat. olivia o'brien), gnashI am trying to publish and save I

7. Let Me Love You (feat. Justin Bieber), DJ Snake

8. Gold, Kiiara

9. Unsteady, X Ambassadors

10. We Don't Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez), Charlie Puth

Top Albums

1. Illuminate (Deluxe), Shawn Mendes

2. Farm Tour.Here's To the Farmer., Luke Bryan

3. 22, A Million, Bon Iver

4. Lemonade, Beyoncé

5. American Prodigal (Deluxe Edition),Crowder

6. Suicide Squad: The Album, Various Artists

7. They Don't Know, Jason Aldean

8. Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton

9. The Altar, Banks

10. Blurryface, twenty one pilots

'Breaking Bad' star Aaron Paul posts tribute to Pearl Jam

Paul posted a picture of himself with Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder on his Instagram account Thursday.

In the caption, he relates a story of buying the band's debut album, "Ten," on the day it came out in 1991, which also happened to be his 12th birthday. He said he returned home to find his family's house empty and was playing the album when his mother called to tell him they were at the hospital, where his sister had given birth.

He says "so many emotions" went through him that day and Vedder "was a huge part of that."

The band has marked the 25th anniversary of the album's release on tour this year.

Pittsburgh symphony musicians reject pay cuts, go on strike

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians went on strike Friday after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15 percent pay cut, but management contends those cuts and others are necessary because the orchestra is more than $20 million in debt.

"Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are exceptional artists and deserve every dollar and every benefit we can afford to offer," said Melia Tourangeau, who took over as symphony president and CEO last year. "At the same time, we must squarely confront the very real financial crisis that we are facing."

Tourangeau said management's demands are part of a "five-year growth model to sustainability." But the need for immediate cuts is necessary because of a recent financial assessment that showed the orchestra "would run out of cash and have to close the doors in May/June 2017," board chair Devin McGranahan said.

Symphony managers say the orchestra is running a $1.5 million annual deficit and faces more than $20 million in cumulative debt over the next five years.

They say the pension fund needs at least $10 million over the next five years to remain solvent. That's one reason they say they wants to freeze pensions for any musician with less than 30 years' experience, and move them into a 401(k) plan — another move that prompted the strike.

The musicians have agreed to concessions in the past, most recently a nearly 10 percent pay cut in 2011 to help the orchestra deal with funding issues. The proposed immediate 15 percent pay cut would reduce each musician's base pay from $107,239 to $91,153, the union said, with annual raises of 2 percent and 3 percent in each of the next two years.

"The consequences of those cuts would be severe and immediate," the union said in a statement announcing the strike. It predicted musicians would leave, and the symphony would be unable to attract top-notch players.

However, management contends several musicians earn more than double the base pay for certain position. Musicians also get up to 10 weeks' vacation and 12 weeks of sick time each year, plus overtime and seniority pay, management said.

The last three-year contract expired Sept. 5. Contract talks had continued with a federal mediator, but the union contends management wouldn't budge from its last offer, which was rejected Thursday. The musicians have offered unspecified "major" concessions on "salary, pension and size of the orchestra — all the topics that are the focus of management's demands," the union said.

The union contends management also wants the right to unilaterally cut orchestra staff, currently 99 musicians and two librarians, by an unspecified number. Management said only that it wants to leave three vacant positions unfilled, but didn't otherwise address staffing numbers.

The union contends ticket sales are up and that donations to the orchestra's annual fund broke a record. Management doesn't dispute that but said the other changes still are necessary.


This story has been corrected to show the symphony president's first name is Melia, not Malia.

Judge: Bieber must sit for deposition or face arrest, court

A Florida judge has ordered pop star Justin Bieber to sit down for a deposition within the next 30 days or face the threat of being arrested and brought to court.

Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley issued the order Wednesday in Miami.

The order compels Bieber to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit filed by a photographer who got into an altercation with one of the singer's bodyguards two years ago in Miami Beach.

The photographer's attorney says he has been unable to get Bieber to sit for the deposition. Attorney Mark DiCowden says Bieber isn't entitled to any special treatment just because he's a celebrity.

Bieber's attorney, John Atkinson, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Review: Smooth grooves rule on Herb Alpert's 'Human Nature'

Why mess with success?

Pop-jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert has sold records by the truckload since the 1960s, and if his easy-listening style has become a byword for elevator music, that doesn't make it any less influential.

The 81-year-old founder of the Tijuana Brass returns with an album — his fourth in three years — featuring original compositions alongside tracks by songwriters including Burt Bacharach, seasoned with a light sprinkling of electronic dance music.

Alpert remains a skilled bandleader and arranger. The title track, made famous by Michael Jackson, entirely suits the treatment it gets here: relaxed and largely instrumental, with a Latin groove and a bubbling electronic bassline. The same is true of the lighter-than-air arrangement of Bacharach and Hal David's "Alfie."

The main new element is the strand of electronica underlying Alpert's languid trumpet. It's hardly a radical departure to Alpert's sound, but a skittering electro beat propels Bacharach's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and Alpert's composition "Incognito."

Best of the lot is the closing track, "Doodles," a perky, hip-moving dance tune.

Times change, but Herb Alpert remains resolutely true to himself. And you don't sound this laid-back without working extremely hard.

Music Review: Bon Iver delivers offbeat, self-conscious art

Some weirdness pervades the release of "22, A Million," the third album by Bon Iver — symbols, images and liner notes that feel like they're fraught with meaning. Some of it might be nonsense.

But then there's the music.

An adventurous journey in sound, "22, A Million" is never dull. Altered voices, the familiar falsetto of Bon Iver's mastermind, Justin Vernon, and acoustic and electronic shape-shifting stretch the conventional boundaries of song.

The album "is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self-understanding like a religion," we are told. "If 'Bon Iver, Bon Iver' built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then '22, A Million' is the letting go of that attachment to a place."

See, that might be nonsense; it's at least self-consciously artsy. So it's tempting to dismiss this as an ultimately meaningless collection of look-at-me life themes for hipsters.

But then you give the music another listen.

There are extraordinary moments of sound on this album, with just enough melody to sustain them. A prime example, a cut called "8(Circle)" — the title itself is a symbol — builds from a heartbeat pulse through vaguely achy lyrics on a tidal swell to a spirited crescendo.

Pretensions notwithstanding, it is beautiful.

Will Bon Iver's growing body of sonic experimentation lose its charm and sound dated, like Moby, when the shine wears off?

We may not know for a while — but it hasn't happened yet.

Story of Ugandan chess player inspires Alicia Keys song

Alicia Keys has always been a supporter of female empowerment, so when the singer watched the new film "Queen of Katwe" and saw its female lead, Phiona Mutesi, win best male chess player, she was overjoyed.

"That was like so good and she played against all these boys because there wasn't anybody else she could play against, and she was the best of all," Keys said. "I think that was really, really powerful."

It was one of the many scenes in the film starring Lupita Nyong'O that inspired the piano-playing star to write "Back to Life," a song about hope and perseverance that plays at the movie's end.

"As far as we feel like we've come — and as far as we've come, we definitely have made strides forward — it's such an important reminder to know that when given opportunity, young people, especially girls, really flourish," Keys said in an interview Wednesday. "It's just that simple."

"Queen of Katwe," which opened last week, stars Madina Nalwanga as a gifted chess player from the Katwe slums in Kampala, Uganda, who reaches new heights in the international chess world. Nyong'O plays the role of her mother and David Oyelowo is her optimistic and passionate chess coach. The true story was directed by Mira Nair.

Keys said it was emotional watching the film, which highlights Uganda, a place Keys has visited and done charity work with through her Keep a Child Alive organization.

"All over the world, and even in all of our backyards, there's just so many incredible stories ... (and) it's great to be a part of continuing to just evolve and diversify the stories that we see and hear," she said. "It's personal to me in the way that I can identify with Phiona finding her way, finding herself. When I say 'Back to Life,' it's like finding your greatest (self), finding what makes you alive. I feel like I myself am learning that more and more every day."

Keys said she's hoping "Back to Life" will satisfy fans who are waiting for her next album, though it could drop any day.

"This is definitely like the best music I've made in my life yet ... because it's like the most vulnerable, most urgent ... it just has such a good vibe to it," said Keys, who has won 15 Grammys and released five studio albums. "It's really kind of this dope cross between art, activism, what's going on in the world, how it makes us feel, who we are; it's personal, it's relatable, it's musical."



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