Suicide Bomber Claims 22 Lives, Injures 60 Others at Ariana Grande Concert
At about 10:30 last night Manchester police received about 250 phone calls reporting an explosion at the Ariana Grande concert being held at Britain’s Manchester Arena. So far, the numbers run at 22 dead and about 60 injured, children being among both parties. Those wounded were taken to eight different hospitals in the area. First announced among the deceased were eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos and 18-year-old Georgina Callender. This is the deadliest terrorism incident since the London Underground Bombings of July 7th, 2005.
As Ms. Grande was ending her show with her iconic rain of pink balloons, an explosion went off in the foyer area of the arena that connects to the city’s train and tram systems, sending concertgoers fleeing from the 21,000 capacity venue. Police are not yet sure how many of the deceased are so directly because of the explosion or being crushed under the subsequent stampede. Many children were separated from their parents last night at the time of the attack, and there are many who are still considered missing. Prime Minister Theresa May called the Manchester attack an act of “sickening cowardice.”
Police say they have the name of the suicide bomber, but won’t be releasing it until they’ve determined if he was working alone or part of a larger network of terrorists, though since the attack, the Islamic State has taken responsibility. They’ve also arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester. More than 400 officers are working on this investigation.
In the wake of this tragedy, an emergency number has been set up for those still trying to find loved ones, many residents of Manchester have opened up their homes to any victims using #RoomforManchester, and the United Kingdom has suspended all campaigning for its June 8th general election.
photo by Todd V. Wolfson
George Reiff Passes Away at 56
Bass player and Austin legend George Reiff passed away on Sunday night surrounded by friends and family at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Reiff was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in his brain, liver, adrenal gland, and right lung last July, and more than 1,200 people have contributed nearly $150,000 to the crowdfunding effort set up in his name to pay for his medical expenses. Despite a strong and courageous battle, Reiff’s condition took an irreversible turn a couple of weeks ago brought on by a pair of minor strokes. Reiff was 56.
George Reiff’ began playing bass at the age of 12, rising to eminence in the 1980s when he was asked to join new-wave Tex-Mex star of Joe “King” Carrasco’s band. He spent the next years recording and touring with many of Austin’s renowned acts and musicians, including Charlie Sexton and John Dee Graham, and other far-reaching artists like the Jayhawks, Ringo Starr, Johnny Reno, Joe Walsh, and Dixie Chicks offshoot Court Yard Hounds Ray Wylie Hubbard. Reiff also had a prominent career as a producer, working with a number of chief Americana artists including Shunyribs, Uncle Lucius, the Mastersons, Band of Heathens, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Reiff also spent a number of his early music years working as a pastry chef to stabilize his income. An endeavor, he said, he actually turned out to be pretty good at, and felt and thrived in the organic parallels between a Friday night in a busy kitchen with a restaurant full of hungry people, and a Friday night in a venue packed with people hungry for live music.
George Reiff was respected around the world and undoubtedly an Austin legend, working with musicians of all walks of fame and influencing innumerable people of his and younger generations.
Soundgarden Frontman Found Dead in Hotel Room Bathroom
Grunge and alternative rock musician Chris Cornell passed away late last night in his hotel room in Detroit following a Soundgarden show at the city’s Fox Theatre. Detroit police are investigating his death as a possible suicide. Cornell was revered for his multi-octave vocal range and his sensitivity for darker, heavier music. He formed Soundgarden in 1984 with bassist Hiro Yamamoto, eventually inviting guitarist Kim Thayil to round out the group. Soundgarden released their debut single “Hunted Down” and the EP Screaming Life in 1987. Cornell’s vocal talent and the group’s affinity for early grunge were the stars of Soundgarden’s 1988 debut full-length Ultramega OK, namely highlighted by the track “Beyond the Wheel.”
In the aftermath of his former roommate Andrew Wood’s fatal heroin overdose, Cornell formed Temple of the Dog with Wood’s former Mother Love Bone bandmates as well as local guitarist Mike McCready and a then unknown Eddie Vedder. Temple of the Dog released their platinum-selling self-titled debut album in 1991, and the group, sans Soundgarden members, reformed as Pearl Jam and released their debut album Ten the same year. Soundgarden, on the other hand, was doing reforming of its own after the exit of Yamaoto, whom they replaced with Ben Shepard.
The group saw their absolute biggest release with 1994’s Superunknown, with tracks like “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” “The Day I Tried to Live,” “My Wave,” and “Fell on Black Days,” dominating the mainstream-rock and alternative charts that year, helping to lift the album to Number One and go platinum five times. Soundgarden released one more album before breaking-up in 1997.
After a short solo career, Cornell formed Audioslave in 2001 with Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk. Audioslave saw much success in the early aughts primarily due to their self-titled debut album in 2002.
After Audioslave, Cornell returned to his solo career and continued nurturing it for the remainder of his life. Temple of the Dog reunited and toured in 2016, Audioslave reformed for a one-off gig on Inauguration Day this past January, and Soundgarden regrouped in 2010, put out an album in 2012, and were on tour at the time of Cornell’s death. He’s survived by his wife Vicky, their two children, and his first daughter from his first marriage to former Soundgarden and Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver. Chris Cornell was 52.
Musicians band Together Around Chelsea Manning with Benefit CD
Former Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will be released from prison this morning after former President Barrack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks in 2010. During her incarceration, many citizens voiced their support for Manning, musicians included. Many of those musicians have contributed songs to a new benefit compilation called Hugs for Chelsea to help the former analyst get her life back together following her incarceration. Musicians and groups on the album include Thurston Moore, Michael Stipe, Tom Morello, Against Me!, and Talib Kweli. You can stream and purchase the album here.
NYC-based DJ School Under Fire for Fraud
A New York City DJ school is seeing accusations of fraud from fifty-five of its students, reports Thump. Dubspot and its CEO Dan Giove are under fire from students and teachers for allegedly swindling students out of classes they had already paid for and teacher’s out of pay and commission checks. In addition to the fraud, stories have begun circulating about Giove’s volatile and erratic behavior as a businessman, apparently firing a number of execs after they advised against the opening of Dubspot’s LA location due to severely inadequate funds.
On the administrative end of this story, students complained about poor communication, frequently canceled or rescheduled classes, and that even when there would be class, rarely would a teacher show-up because they themselves hadn’t been paid. The school has a flagship location in New York City, an LA branch, and remote courses online. However, both of the physical campuses have reportedly shut down, though no formal announcement of the closures has been made, and the school continues to accept enrollment money online. One student paid $4400 for an Abelton Live Producer course, only to show up to the New York school to find nothing but a few pieces of leftover equipment and a man asking her to leave. While some students have won their cases in court, many are still waiting to hear from Dubspot regarding their refunds.
Jimmy LaFave: Love and Influence Covered in Red Dirt
This Thursday at the Paramount, many stars of Austin’s folk community will be performing at or attending Jimmy LaFave’s Songwriter Rendezvous to celebrate the life, legend, and oversized influence of the longtime Austin singer-songwriter, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer last year. Despite his diagnosis, his delayed making the news public, and his declining condition, LaFave has continued playing. Back in April he played a 90-minute set at a San Antonio Food Bank fundraiser with a set list blending originals and covers, namely his signature takes on Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie tunes. He performed again last month at Threadgill’s.
Though born in Wills Point, Texas, LaFave was raised near Stillwater, Oklahoma where he developed his signature Red Dirt music style and was the first to bring that style to Austin and stake its place. Last month, Oklahoma presented LaFave with the inaugural Restless Spirit Award given by the state’s Red Dirt Relief Fund, a charity that raises money for Oklahoma musicians in critical need. LaFave will also be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame this June.
Since moving to Austin in the 80s, LaFave has not only become a mainstay in the folk and Americana sub-communities of Austin musicians, but has been a bridge between the different generations of players as well, many of whom will join the singer-songwriter on stage this Thursday at the Paramount for Jommy LaFave’s Songwriter Rendezvous including Christine Albert, Marcia Ball, Ruthie Foster, Butch Hancock, Eliza Gilkyson, Sam Baker, and more. KUTX’s Jody Denberg is set to host.