Kenny Rogers to Play His Final Hand
Kenny Rogers is retiring, and he’s going out in style. Rogers has had his thumb in the music pie since the 50s, charting over 120 hit singles across a spectrum of genres with a musical career spanning even more including rock n roll, pop, jazz, and, of course, country.
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, crossover duet mega hit was their country cover of the Bee Gee’s “Islands in the Stream,” with the one and only Dolly Parton. Rogers and Parton have given the world several gifts of their duetted magnificence but have performed live together only twice over the last decades.
The two are coming together for the first time in twelve years to perform together one final time as just one incredible part of the lineup for Rogers’s farewell concert All In for the Gambler happening in Nashville on October 25th. The concert will also feature performances by Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, Elle King, Idina Menzel, and the Flaming Lips. As these things tend to go, the audience can expect several special unnamed guests to grace the stage as well.
In an interview with Rolling Stone discussing his retirement, Rogers had a lot of warm words for those he’s influenced including those who have in turn played with Rogers on stage or in the studio. Reflecting on his career, he said, “I’ve had a great life, I can’t complain, but it’s time for me to hang it up.” Tickets for All In for the Gambler go on sale tomorrow morning at 10.
Joe Walsh Launches VetsAid
After years of assisting numerous veterans’ charities, Eagles guitarist and vocalist Joe Walsh is launching his own veterans’ aid charity. VetsAid is a non-profit that will raise money to fund several veterans-based charities all across the country that provide mental, emotional, and physical care to veterans and their families.
Walsh’s own father was killed while stationed and serving active duty in Okinawa during World War II when Walsh was only 20 months old and in an interview with Rolling Stone, Walsh reflects, “I stopped counting the number of friends I lost in the Vietnam War or that came home forever scarred mentally or physically or both.”
To kick-off the charity, Walsh has organized a huge fundraiser show slated to take place on September 20th in Fairfax, Virginia with a line-up studded with Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, and Austin’s own Gary Clark, Jr..
Bill Collings Passes Away at 68
Over the weekend, Austin lost two amazing figures in its cultural infrastructure. Yesterday we remembered activist, radio host, and our colleague Stephen Rice, who championed this city through his voice and dedication to social justice for the local LGBT community. But today we remember another man whose lifework contributed heartily to Austin’s lifeblood, luthier Bill Collings.
Bill Collings was a born craftsman. Hailing from a family of engineers, Collings moved from Ohio to Houston in 1975, seeking work on a pipeline as an engineer. At night, he built guitars. His first creation was based on a combination of a Gibson Dove, a Martin D28, and a Guild D25. By his assessment, “it was okay, but the sound didn’t take off.”
His first guitar made for another musician was for Rick Gordon, whom Collings had seen perform and was so enamored by the set that he offered to make Gordon a guitar for the cost of the wood. That creation was seen and heard by Lyle Lovett, a then-college student writing for the school’s paper. During an interview with Collings, he handed Lovett a guitar, and he fell in love, and as Collings recalled, “he bought number 29.” Lovett was a chosen spokesperson and loyal customer of Collings from that moment on.
After several years in Houston, Collings decided to leave the Lone Star state for San Diego, but along the way, he stopped in Austin, and well, never left. Mandolin maker Tom Ellis opened his shop to Collings, and thus he spent some number of years making repairs and indulging in Austin’s party scene of the early-to-mid-eighties before having a revelation that set him on track to fully dedicate his time and resources to crafting guitars. It was that change in mindset that changed the trajectory of Collings’s career.
Since then, his business has grown from five employees in the mid-eighties to about 90 in 2017. In a profile on Bill Collings from a 2012 issue of Texas Monthly Magazine, each day his shop was crafting “six or seven acoustics, three electrics, two mandolins, and two ukuleles.” He made guitars for Paul Simon, Keith Richards, Joni Mitchell, Eddie Van Halen, Alejandro Escovedo, Pete Townshend, and Patti Smith, and Charlie Sexton…just to name a few.
Collings was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last year, and lost his brave battle over the weekend. He was 68.
Of the numerous accolades that make Collings Guitars top of the craft, one that most sets it apart is Collings’s refusal to undermine the eminent quality of their brand by making bargain versions. Nay, each Collings guitar is a handcrafted piece of world-renowned art. Those in Colling’s employ said in a statement on the company’s website that they spent many years learning from and being inspired by Bill Collings, and will carry on that quality-centered work and legacy. Bill Collings was 68.
Photo from Austin-American Statesman
KUT & KOOP Host, LGBT Community Leader Stephen Rice Passes Away
KUT and KOOP radio host and LGBT community leader and advocate Stephen Rice passed away unexpectedly early Sunday following complications from unidentified injuries sustained from an ATV accident Rice was in about two weeks ago while on vacation in Denver with his husband Mark Erwin.
To say the least, Rice was beloved by every person who knew him and this tragic news has left much of our city with heavy hearts. KUT General Manager Stewart Vanderwilt acknowledged Stephen’s ever-present smile in his voice, adding, “He was so engaged and so committed to what we do and bringing people into the experience.”
He was an invaluable leader in Austin’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual community, being deeply involved with and even spearheading events and campaigns with organizations such as AIDS Services of Austin, the Hill Country Ride for AIDS fundraiser, and LGBT community activist group Equality Texas.
A longtime congenial voice on the KUT airwaves, Rice also married his love of radio to his commitment to social justice and keeping locals LGBT informed with his KOOP show OutCast, a weekly program examining issues faced by and threatening the city’s LGBT community and acting as a forum for everything and everyone who makes up, “the queer culture that makes Austin unique.” District 6 City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said of Rice and OutCast, “His vision and hard work on KOOP ‘OutCast’ gave a voice to many in the LGBTQ community, including myself on more than one occasion.”
A Tyler, Texas native, Rice graduated from Bullard High School and received a degree in History/Political Science from Texas State University, finally becoming an Austin resident in 1992, dedicating about a quarter-century to championing for Austin public radio and the city’s LGBT community.
Photo by: Adam Bouska
Loretta Lynn Back Home, Feeling Stronger Everyday, New Album in 2018
After suffering a stroke back in May, singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn is back in her Nashville home, getting stronger every day according to Lynn herself. Her record label released a statement yesterday saying her newest album Wouldn’t It Be Great is will not be released next month as planned, but will come out sometime in 2018 so Loretta Lynn can give the album her full attention.
SoundCloud May Only Have Financial Backing for 50 Days
Is SoundCloud in trouble? Well, more trouble than usual? Let’s take a look.
Last week, SoundCloud laid off 173 staff members worldwide, eliminating 40% of its workforce. At an all-company meeting on Tuesday, the company admitted it had known it would have to make huge layoffs soon, but chose to not disclose that information to any department heads or suggest that the departments should cut back on spending. When asked about the decision of non-disclosure, management simply said it would have shown weakness and caused people to ask questions. You heard right, 173 people abruptly lost their jobs because SoundCloud did not want to appear weak.
Some of those staffers had joined the SoundCloud team as little as two weeks ago and had sold homes, quit jobs, and in some cases relinquished permanent residency rights in their home countries to come work at SoundCloud’s home base in Berlin.
The co-founders also announced that money saved from the layoffs only saved the company enough money to stay afloat until Q4, which begins in 50 days. According to several staffers who attended the meeting on Tuesday, there was a severe lack of morale and even several laughs and snickers when co-founder Eric Wahlfross referred insensitively to the team as a family and by all accounts, the meeting was awful, and many speculate the “good people at SoundCloud,” may jump ship.
Khaled’s Latest Key – Sell Clothes for Kids’ Charity
Things are keeping on the sunny side for DJ Khaled. The producer’s latest release Grateful that dropped on June 23rd hit number 1 on the US Charts, the second consecutive number 1 album for Khlaed (4th number 1 if you look at the US rap charts). Khlaed’s next move? Sell his clothes to raise money for children.
The record producer has partnered with online retailer Poshmark to sell clothes from his own wardrobe and funnel the proceeds to his “Win More Music” campaign in collaboration with Get Schooled, an organization that offers middle and high school students a myriad of resources to succeed in high school and prepare for college. DJ Khaled released the first four charitable collections yesterday to Poshmark, and you can acquire your own Khaled threads here.
Erica Shamaly Named New Manager of Austin’s Music and Entertainment Division
At Monday’s monthly Music Commission meeting, Erica Shamaly was named the new manager of the city’s music and entertainment division, succeeding longtime manager Don Pitts who resigned this last February.
An Austin resident since 1990, Shamalay is a UT grad who has spent the last three years as Director of Marketing for ACL Live at the Moody Theater and 3Ten at ACL Live. In fact, according to Shamaly herself, “Austin” has been in every job title she’s had since 1998. Shamalay is a co-founder of the Austin School of Film, and the former Director of Business Development and Marketing for the Reverberation Appreciation Society, which runs Levitation Fest, formerly called Austin Psych Fest.
As the City Music office shifts its increasing demand for sound enforcement, ordinances, permits, and other bureaucratic notes from the manager’s inbox to a newly developed position, Shamalay will be able to focus on what the office was intrinsically meant for: directly addressing the issues negatively affecting the music community and driving and uplifting it to ensure Austin remains the Live Music Capitol of the World.