Married musicians Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck are releasing their first joint album. The banjo players have been performing gigs together for nearly a decade, and they will mark their debut as a duo with a self-titled record, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, in October (14).
While the pair has previously played together in bluegrass band Sparrow Quartet, Fleck tells Rolling Stone they wanted to keep it simple with just the two of them on their upcoming record.
He explains, "We didn't want any other instruments on there, because we're into this idea that we're banjo players, and that should be enough. Sometimes, when you add other instruments, you take away from the ability of the banjo to show all its colours, which are actually quite beautiful."
Washburn and Fleck have been married since 2009, and they are parents to a 14-month-old son, Juno.
The Boxcars look set to sweep the board at the upcoming International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards ceremony after scooping 10 nods. The five-piece is up for prizes including Song of the Year for It's Just a Road and Album of the Year for the record of the same name, while band member Ron Stewart is nominated for Banjo Player of the Year and Fiddle Player of the Year, and Adam Steffey is in line for Mandolin Player of the Year. He also landed a nomination for Best Instrumental Recorded Performance as a solo artist.
The Boxcars are followed by Blue Highway with nine nominations, and The Del McCoury Band with six nominations. Bluegrass legend Alison Krauss will also compete for Female Vocalist Of The Year at the upcoming ceremony, which will be held on 2 October (14) in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The awards recognise outstanding achievement and pioneering efforts in the bluegrass genre.
Jazz musician Val Eddy has died, aged 88. Eddy, real name Valentino DeCastris, passed away on 4 August (14) in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois following a battle with cancer and Parkinson's disease.
The singer and band leader played the bass, banjo and mandolin and partnered up with late pianist Homer Carlson to become the Val Eddy Duo.
During his 70-year career, he performed internationally with jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In the 1950s, the duo was joined by late guitarist Dave Pitts and became the Val Eddy Trio. The band starred in its own live music TV series called The Song Shop.
Friends will perform jazz songs in his honour at the local funeral home on Wednesday (13Aug14) and Eddy's service will take place on Thursday (14Aug14).
Little Mix stars Jade Thirlwall and Jesy Nelson are both single after splitting from their dancer boyfriends, according to a U.K. report. The singers began dating their partners, who are both members of British dance act Diversity, in 2012, and they both became single again around the same time earlier this month (Jun14).
Thirlwall split from Sam Craske and Nelson called it a day with Jordan Banjo, according to Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.
A source tells the publication, "It happened very recently for both couples... While it's strange timing and quite a coincidence that both girls were dating boys in the same dance troupe, it seems to have stemmed from the amount of time they are able to spend together, because of their conflicting schedules.
"The girls are about the go on a huge U.S. tour, which will see them spend the entire rest of the summer apart... that's tough for any relationship."
The North American leg of Little Mix's Salute tour will kick off in September (14).
Australian actress Rachel Griffiths credits her Brothers & Sisters co-star Calista Flockhart with inspiring her to move back to Australia and focus on motherhood. The actress moved to America after her screen career took off when she landed a leading role in U.S. TV show, Six Feet Under. Her subsequent part in Brothers & Sisters ended when the show was cancelled due to poor ratings in 2011, and Griffiths returned Down Under to work on smaller projects and focus on raising her children.
Now she has spoken out to thank Flockhart for inspiring her head home when she took time off from her career after five years starring as Ally McBeal. Griffiths tells Sydney's Daily Telegraph, "Calista was a real model for me...She just walked away after Ally McBeal. Obviously she had a tremendous amount more money than I did to do that, not to mention (her husband) Harrison Ford, but she just stepped back and embraced her personal life and didn't regret it for a second. "I had really not seen my children enough. I'd outsourced a lot of that child stuff in order to do 70-to-80 hour weeks on set and I just wanted my kids to actually like me."
Griffiths has three children with her husband Andrew Taylor - Banjo, 10, Adelaide, eight, and Clementine, four.
Tommy Lee Jones recruited his son as a music supervisor for his latest film The Homesman, because he needed someone to research the sounds of the era for the 19th century western. The actor/director admits he was so impressed with his son's efforts, he also gave him a role in the film.
Jones explains, "He went through the archives of 19th century music that would've been expected in that part of the world. Austin Leonard Jones, who is the banjo player on the barge at the end of the movie, found some very important, rare old songs for us and he worked at that very hard."
And the film's official composer, Marco Beltrami, also aided the feel of the film by inventing instruments that helped to give the music an antique feel.
Jones adds, "We invented several different musical instruments to use. We had a thing called the wind piano. He bought an old upright piano and put it on a concrete platform and from the sound board on the back, he attached six wires and ran them across a creek 200 feet to a 25,000 gallon metal water tank, which was empty.
"He put the microphones inside the water tank, played the piano while the wind blew across the strings. It was a complicated instrument driven for the most part by the wind. And of course there's a lot of wind in the movie! You get sounds that are quite beautiful that no one's ever heard before because the instrument never existed.
"He was quite free in his composition... We had some beautiful images to supply him and the only assignment he had was to be original and have the beautiful music to go with it."
A quick run-through of everything this week's episode of Mad Men has to offer: threesomes, cartoon monkeys, hippie parties, evil computers, and a guy who cuts off his own nipple. But if you want to get to the heart of the strangeness of "The Runaways," you have to appreciate the peculiar choices episode director/series cinematographer Christopher Manley made in shooting it.
The ep poses a stark contrast to Mad Men's usual structure (a few patient, meaty scenes many minutes in length, flowing seamlessly into one another) with a collection of jagged 15-second clips that lob off mid-conversation or immediately after someone picks up the phone; twice this latter technique is used, once with Betty and once with Megan. We can chalk this up to the throughline of people not getting what they want in this episode — Don wants to see Stephanie (the niece of the late Ana Draper, who phones him in hopes of getting a little support for her fatherless baby-on-the-way), Megan wants to save her marriage, Ginsberg wants to defeat the nefarious machine wreaking havoc on Sterling Cooper & Partners (and woo Peggy), Lou Avery wants a little respect for his beloved comic strip creation Scout, and Betty wants... ugh, who knows — a theme that collapses when the most unpredictable desire is met: Don gets his groove back.
Way back when, Don earned the ire of cigarette kingpin Philip Morris when he penned an editorial decrying the health problems caused by their product. It was the first in a string of antics that fissured Don's stellar reputation in the advertising game, particularly in the eyes of his own bosses and partners. The climax of that string, of course, cost him his place at SC&P at the end of last season, so a mending of the former might be the right touch (psychologically and thematically) to undo the latter. We can't really see Mad Men let Don taking his seat back at the head of the industry, so we're a bit perplexed as to what his apparently fruitful ad hoc chat with the Philip Morris boys this week will lead to (if not just the displeasure of Lou Avery and Harry Hamlin). But mystery aside, Don's determined play at the cigarette account is the only thing about "The Runaways" that feels cohesively put together.
The episode is littered with awkward gambits. Cautious reveals are shafted for abject ones (re: the initial shot of Stephanie's pregnant body), subtlety is all but foregone in thematic references (that 2001: A Space Odyssey send-up went over nobody's head), an incriminating conversation is overheard by the wrongest of persons from a bathroom stall (come on, guys, didn't something like this just happen in "A Day's Work"?). "The Runaways" strings together incredibly bizarre conceits, Michael Ginsberg's sudden schizophrenic explosion topping the lot, with such overt techniques and uncomfortably paced scenes that you can't help but wonder if what you're watching is next-level genius or a severe artistic mishap.
But the material is all interesting. Even the dreadful locking of horns of Mr. and Mrs. Francis lands us some cherished time with Sally, whom we get to see adorn little brother Bobby with that same big-hearted kindness to which she treated Don a couple weeks back — it's adorable, and dripping with severity. Megan's play at a drug-induced threesome "for Don" (after growing jealous and suspicious of his concern for pregnant Stephanie) might be frustratingly ill-fated, but we get the feeling that it's the penultimate straw for the pair. And Ginsberg losing his mind over Sterling Cooper & Partners' new computer, devising homophobic conspiracy theories, jumping Peggy in her own apartment, mutilating himself (his severed nipple "for Peggy" beats Megan's ménage à trois by just a touch as the worst way to win someone's heart), and being carted off by mental health professionals is all enthusiastically stirring, if still outrageous enough to call the script's judgment into question.
But, being told mostly from Peggy's point of view, it has its place. This job will kill them all. The future has no patience for (or interest in) men and women who aren't ready for it. And as Ginsberg is wheeled off screaming, Peggy begins to cry. Both for her suffering friend and for herself. Having seen her own era take down Don, she knows she might be next.
Episode grade: B, with bonus points to Don for getting us away from Megan's banjo party so quickly
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Representatives for Mumford & Sons have responded to reports suggesting the band has split for good, insisting banjo player Winston Marshall was joking when he said the group was "over" in a recent interview. The Grammy winners announced a hiatus in September (13), but Marshall had fans worrying about their future when he hinted the break was permanent during a chat with Vulture.com.
He said, "It was a good time. It's over."
The musician also suggested he was done with playing the banjo, adding, "F**k the banjo. I f**king hate the banjo."
But now reps for the group have clarified his remarks, insisting they were made in jest.
A spokesman tells Billboard.com that Marshall was joking, and fans should not take the story at face value.
The band is still on a break following keyboard player Ben Lovett's 2013 announcement, in which he said, "We just know we're going to take a considerable amount of time off and just go back to hanging out and having no commitments or pressure or anything like that."
Universal via Everett Collection
Jason Bateman's feature directorial debut Bad Words was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival and opens wide in theaters on March 28. The man who brought us good son Michael Bluth took to Reddit yesterday to respond to fan questions about the new film, his banjo prowess, and hairless werewolves, plus a constant stream of Arrested Development quotes. Read on for highlights and check out all of Bateman's answers here.
On the tactile pleasures of Michael Cera's hair:"Curly, yet manageable. The hair on his head is pretty soft too."
On his biggest fear:"Bees." (Not beads)
On whether or not he was really playing the banjo in that Mumford & Sons video:"All lies, and I was surprised by how much those metal strings hurt my fat little fingers."
On his dream boyfriend, if he were gay:"I'd like to continue dating Will Arnett."
On lying about the status of the Arrested Development movie:"I know exactly the same as you do. Zip."
On if he's "that former child star that's now a nut-case fundamentalist":"Yes, and I'll see you in hell."
On feeling guilty for corrupting his young Bad Words costar, Rohan Chand:"No, I figured his parents were cool with it since they read the script and drove him to the audition. Plus we erased his memory with the Men in Black gun."
On returning to his werewolf roots on MTV's Teen Wolf:"Sure, only if I can play one with alopecia."
On being annoyingly meta:"This reminds me of my worst Halloween costume ever. I wore a hockey goalie mask and a fish net with lures attached to it over my shoulders and went as Jason Bateman. What an a-hole."
"Winston went to Nashville and set up a band, played six gigs, recorded a live show and then they broke up, citing artistic differences at the end of the night, after playing six gigs in one night! Apparently they were rubbish... genuinely rubbish." Marcus Mumford explains the short existence of Mumford & Sons' banjo player Winston Marshall's 2013 side project, Salvador Dali Parton.