Photo: Max Touhey
6 Things We Learned At 'Lou Reed: Caught Between The Twisted Stars' Exhibit
Artifacts, music and instruments spanning Lou Reed's entire life — including his seminal Velvet Underground years — are culled from the New York Public Library's archive and on view to the public through March 2023.
The multi-room, lovingly curated exhibit Lou Reed: Caught Between The Twisted Stars is a fitting coda to Lewis Allan Reed's vast influence and position in the cultural, literary and music worlds. Titled after a lyric in "Romeo Had Juliette," the show is a comprehensive look at the artist whose 20-LP-strong solo career and work with the seminal Velvet Underground was cut short when Reed died in 2013 at the age of 71.
A must-see for any lover of New York rock 'n' roll history and a worthy journey for any of Reed's casual fans (though "casual" is not a word that describes many of his listeners), the exhibit offers a glimpse into a prolific and unafraid musical and intellectual life. That one of the ultimate downtown Manhattan icons — along with punk poet Jim Carroll and former VU manager and Svengali-impresario Andy Warhol — is being celebrated at the Upper West Side's tony Lincoln Center, a fitting location for the many worlds and genres and Reed straddled, transformed and transgressed.
The exhibit will run through March 4, 2023 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Shelby Cullom Davis Museum and Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery. Whether a Reed newbie or Velvet Underground acolyte, below are some highlights that allow visitors to walk on the wild side with Lou Reed: Caught Between The Twisted Stars.
Lou Reed holding a copy of Metal Machine Music at an in-store signing in Paris, September 19, 1996. | Photo: © Mila Reynaud. Lou Reed Papers, Music & Recorded Sound Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music Is Divisive… And Loud
Stepping from a sunny street into the dark tomb of the Lou Reed Listening Room in the Library's Vincent Astor gallery is a shock to the senses. His first and only sound installation, Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe is a live version of Reed's confounding, droning 1975 fifth album (a double LP no less!).
Composer/saxophonist John Zorn plays on this live version, recorded in 2009 in New York, and the installation is experienced here via 12 loudspeakers in an "ambisonic" arrangement for immersive 3-D sound. Uh, what? Non-nerds: what you need to know is that the room and music are dark, disorienting and difficult, but worth checking out. Briefly. Visitors in the center of the listening room will apparently have the same acoustic perspective Reed had onstage.
Like Lulu, Reed's Metallica collaboration, Metal Machine Music isn't for everyone. (In 2005, Britain's Q magazine included it in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists.") And it's odd to fathom that the same mind that came up with "Perfect Day" and "Satellite of Love" created this cacophony. Reed did MMM because he was compelled to, and as such it's a valuable glimpse into the artist's oeuvre.
Reed's music runs all day in the Listening Room, and for the fainter of heart, less discordant and differently droning would be the artist's "Hudson River Wind Meditation."
Photos, including images of Anderson and Reed, on display | Photo: Max Touhey
Laurie Anderson Approves Of This Message (And Exhibit)
As the "it" couple of the downtown scene, Laurie Anderson — though as iconic as her partner — appeared to soften Reed's legendary hard edges. Of the Caught Between The Twisted Stars long germination and public debut, Anderson exclaims "I'm so happy!" in the show's program.
"First because Lou is a legendary New Yorker and his work belongs to this City. And second because the library is free and public," Anderson continues. "This is not a white gloves collection! Now anyone can come in and look and listen to his life's work."
Some of the exhibit's most colorful moments are the Coney Island Sideshow banners representing Anderson and Reed as the 2010 Parade King Neptune and Queen Mermaid of Brooklyn's legendarily lovely and oddball Mermaid Parade. (They were joined by their "Royal Mer-Dog, Lola Belle," who has her own adorable sideshow banner.)
Reed's Friend & Collaborator Hal Willner Had The Coolest Studio Ever
Lou Reed met producer Hal Willer — who died in 2020 from complications of the Coronavirus — in 1985, when the singer participated in Willner's Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill project. According to the exhibit, "Hal became Lou's most trusted set of ears" and produced several albums for Reed. However, it was the duo's New York Shuffle radio show where "the preposterous tangoed with the sublime" that represented the apex of their collaboration.
Willner's studio is not recreated: it's here. It's where Reed and his friend recorded 86 two-hour episodes of New York Shuffle in a colorful, chaotic gem of a studio. From a Charlie McCarthy puppet to a computer and mini-mixing board setup, a coffee mug holding sharpened pencils, tons of crates loaded with vinyl, the pop culture ephemera is enviable.
In an exhibit placard, Willner praises Reed: "With him, you came ready to work. He taught me to focus, really focus. You did your job. Bear With him. Listen hard, then harder." This shrine to Willner — and the collaboration between two of NYC's most beloved — lends a vibe that's at once palpable and poignant.
Petty Cash Receipts for Lou Reed's stage clothes from The Pleasure Chest, NYC, December 15, 1973. | Photo: Courtesy of Lou Reed Papers, Music & Recorded Sound Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Music-Adjacent: Tai Chi, Star Charts & Receipts
Way more than a rock 'n' roll animal, the '80s saw Reed escape the grip of drug addiction. When he cleaned up, it seems that Tai Chi was one of the practices that centered the artist, allowing him to reach new career highs with his 1989 album New York and onward. As expected, there's nothing much of Lou's intimate life or demons in this celebration of his work and life, but the placard accompanying Reed's Tai Chi swords makes clear his hard-won clarity: "Not to get too flowery here but I want more out of life than a gold record and fame," Reed says. "I want to mature like a warrior. I want the power and grace I never had a chance to learn.
Caught Between The Twisted Stars also has a few pieces of ephemera that add extra intimacy. Receipts — including $82.93 from the Pleasure Chest sex store for stage wear in 1973 — will invoke a smile, while a star chart created by photographer/filmmaker/Warhol intimate Billy Name looks cool. And, if one is able to read such things, you'll learn what the planets say about Reed's mother, homosexuality, sudden advancement and treachery.
Other tidbits include a Christmas card from Velvets drummer Moe Tucker and drawings of Reed done by New York singer Dion DiMucci (of The Belmonts and "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer" fame).
Lou Reed’s box of Doo-Wop, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock & Roll 45s. | Photo: NYPL/Jonathan Blanc. Lou Reed Papers, Music & Recorded Sound Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Digging In Lou's Crates
For many music junkies, there's nothing more rewarding than flipping through vinyl albums. And when those records represent the taste and breadth of a legend, it's even more compelling. Obviously (and sadly) you can't handle Reed's collection, but it's still cool to see them behind plexi-glass and also displayed individually, stretching up to the room's high ceiling.
Sure, there's classic doo-wop 45s including "The Wind" by Nolan Strong and The Diablos, but there's also the slightly less expected. In his alphabetically organized collection you'll find Creedence Clearwater Revival's Chooglin', Cheap Trick's In Color, Neil Young's Trans, lots of Tina Turner and Victoria Williams' Happy Come Home.
The LP collection serves to humanize Reed and two pieces of vinyl come with notes from the givers: A letter signed "Love, Paul McCartney" accompanies a copy of the ex-Beatles' Flaming Pie LP, sent only to "extremely groovy people." Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page sent Reed a 7-inch of the Byrds, "Eight Miles High/Why," single, with a note: "Thought You might enjoy a little more Coltrane," a reference to the Byrds attempt to play jazz/honor John Coltrane via "Eight Miles High."
Lou Reed and band performing at The Bottom Line in New York City as part of the Legendary Hearts US Tour, 1983. Robert Quine, guitar; Fernando Saunders, bass; and Fred Maher, drums. | Photo: © Jane L. Wechsler. Lou Reed Papers, Music & Recorded Sound Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
But Wait, There's More… The Archives!
One of the exhibition's curators is Don Fleming, who has the dream/nightmare job of archivist for the Lou Reed Archive, which has been processed and is now available to users. The archive spans Reed's creative life — from his 1958 Freeport High School band, the Shades, to his final performances in 2013.
The materials from the Archive onsite at the Library include a Garland Jeffreys interview as part of the Lou Reed Oral History Collection. Jeffreys (known for "Wild in the Streets" and "Matador") sheds light on the friendship that started while both were attending Syracuse University, as well as writer/poet Delmore Schwartz's influence on Reed. Jeffreys also speaks of Reed's passion for doo-wop: "He loved all that doo-wop and street corner music. It's beautiful sound. I know that Lou didn't have that kind of voice, but he tried. He really wanted that. And for that, I loved the guy, what he was interested in."
GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw
On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.
In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.
Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year
Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration
Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the
The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at
"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community."
Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list.
At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in
After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.
In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.
Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized.
For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or email@example.com.
Photo: The Recording Academy
Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Alexa Zaske
This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.
The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.
Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."
Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.
Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed.
Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.
My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.
For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.
(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)
Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs
Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards
As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.
Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.
"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."