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Originally published July 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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A&E Dispatch

World Music Festival at Columbia Park

Arts Gumbo arts and culture series to have Columbia Park Festival Aug. 27, 2008.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Andrew Matson wrote the following dispatch:

There will be free dance and music performances at Columbia Park in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood Aug. 27.

Why?

Arts Gumbo, a local cultural arts events series, is beginning its 2008 season.

Red Eagle Soaring, a local Native American youth performance troupe, will start the event at 6 p.m. with a ceremonial dance, with International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) following with Capoeira Angola, an African-Brazilian form that's part dance and part martial art. Then there's Ladino (Jewish) and Coptic music from local group Abráce with George Sadak, and participatory African dance and drumming during the Adefua Cultural Education Workshop. Area hip-hop group Global Heat closes out the evening with rapping and breakdancing.

There will be food from Brazil — but you have to pay for that.

Arts Gumbo events run September through December at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S. Alaska St. Find more details and a complete 2008 schedule at www.seedseattle.org/seedarts/rvcc/rvcc_artsgumbo.html.

Andrew Matson: amatson@seattletimes.com

July 30: Blake Lewis to play Summer Meltdown

The temperature may have cooled down, but the music certainly hasn't. The Summer Meltdown, a music and camping festival, featuring the likes of Buckethead and Blake Lewis, is coming to the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheatre in Darrington, Wash., from Aug. 8 to 10.

The lineup — booked by Seattle's own Flowmotion — ranges across rock, jazz, roots, soul, hip-hop and steel drums. There will also be dedicated family activities that include a kid's play and activity area, a parade and a show by Seattle's Recess Monkey.

Tickets for the three-day weekend cost $110 in advance, or $130 at the gate. Saturday and Sunday together are $80 at the gate. And, Sunday only is $40 at the gate. For more information, go to www.summermeltdown.com/tickets.html.

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July 28: Fleet Foxes slated for the Letterman show

Be sure to turn on the tube Monday, Aug. 4, as hometown heroes Fleet Foxes perform on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

The Seattle folk-rock band has been making a lot headlines lately, pleasing critics everywhere with their recent self-titled album. The band was also a hit at Capitol Hill Block Party this past weekend.

Yet Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold stays humble about the band's achievements (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/musicnightlife/2008044930_fleetfoxes11.html). The band is even "flabbergasted" for being chosen as Wilco's opening band. Check out their opening spot at the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane on Aug. 21. For tickets, go to ticketswest.com. And to hear Fleet Foxes, go to www.myspace.com/fleetfoxes.

July 25: Town Hall announced fall lineup

Town Hall has announced a preliminary list of scheduled fall events, as well as a limited change in its ticket purchasing policy.

On the lineup are dozens of lectures, comedy shows, concerts and literary events. Highlights include: "FAQ: Mike Daisey & Reggie Watts Explain the Meaning of Life," a Sept. 3 performance where funny former Seattleites Mike Daisey and Reggie Watts ponder existential questions with improvisation and storytelling. And a Sept. 22 reading by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy about fanaticism and why humans tolerate it, from his book "Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism."

Adding to what has been a "show up and throw down" approach, some tickets for Town Hall-produced lecture events (Center for Civic Life, Seattle Science Lectures, the Future of Health, and occasional literary programs) will now be sold online and over the phone through Brown Paper Tickets. A "substantial inventory" of tickets will still be available at events the day they happen, however. From a prepared statement: "This means that even when the website reflects that no more tickets are available online, there will still be tickets for sale at the venue on the night of the event. And as always — sales at Town Hall will be cash or check only."

There is an event almost every day at Town Hall, and sometimes there's more than one. Reach Town Hall at 206-652-4255 or see a full calendar and ticket information at www.townhallseattle.org.

Andrew Matson, Seattle Times staff reporter

July 24: Earshot Jazz Festival announced

Earshot Jazz has announced the dates of its fall festival: Oct. 17-Nov. 8 in venues all over the city. Over 50 performances are planned; the lineup will be posted as it's booked at www.earshot.org.

A few of the highlights are already set:

• Saxophonist and flute player James Moody in a four-day residency.

• Pianist Cecil Taylor at Town Hall.

• Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane at the Triple Door.

Local jazz lights Wayne Horvitz, Julian Priester and the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra will make appearances, as will the Garfield and Roosevelt high school bands.

Tickets will go on sale in late August through Earshot and local venues. Call 206-547-9787 or go to www.earshot.org for details.

Lynn Jacobson, Seattle Times Arts & Life editor

July 23: Kudos to local artists

Five King County public art projects took awards in the 2008 Americans for the Arts convention in Philadelphia this week. They are among 45 public artworks selected as the most successful and innovative of some 200 entries nationwide. The winners are :

• Anna Valentina Murch for "Confluences," Chinook Building, Seattle.

• Cliff Garten for "York Bridge" in Redmond.

• Laura Haddad for her work at Fremont Peak Park, Seattle.

• Richard C. Elliott for "The Sound of Light" on Martin Luther King Way, Seattle.

• Robert Irwin for "Nine Spaces, Nine Trees," recently relocated to the University of Washington campus, Seattle.

Seattle artists Lorna Jordan and Norie Sato also were recognized for projects in Arizona and Florida.

Sheila Farr, Seattle Times art critic

July 18: So you think you can see "SYTYCD"?

The top 10 winners of the hit FOX reality talent show "So You Think You Can Dance" are hitting the road. They'll share their moves with a live audience in our area during the tour, which comes to the Tacoma Dome Sept. 20.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 2. For more information on the tour, go to www.fox.com/dance/sytycd_tour.htm.

And to check out the epidsodes of the show, go to — www.fox.com/dance/episodes.htm.

Andrew Matson has this dispatch from the Opera:

This week the Seattle Opera announced its 2007-08 Artists of the Year, which traditionally go to one singer and a nonsinging member of the artistic staff.

This year's singer is tenor Lawrence Brownlee, recognized for his performance as Arturo in "I Puritani" in May. Set designer Thomas Lynch, who did the sets for "The Flying Dutchman," and "Iphigenia in Tauris" in 2007, was the other recipient.

The award winners — chosen by the board of trustees, some Seattle Opera donors, the Opera staff and some members of the local press — were announced Tuesday at the annual meeting, where the Opera also honored Gov. Christine Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle City Council with a new Chairman's Award for exceptional support.

You can hear Brownlee in this season's "I Puritani," posted by a fan on YouTube — http://youtube.com/watch?v=ap2tlAoMyto.

Andrew Matson, Seattle Times staff reporter

July 15: Got $425,000? I've got a nightclub on Capitol Hill...

Clubs seem to come and go these days.

After the much lauded opening of King Cobra nightclub end of February, the venue is up for sale. An e-mail from the co-owner Jamie Garza cited lots of reasons: personal finance issues, management mistakes, lack of experience and lack of marketing.

The e-mail goes on to state that the "current owners, and some citizens of Seattle, would like to sell King Cobra with its current format, including a great calendar of upcoming events, and an all-star cast of employees."

Garza was a promoter from the all-ages music scene, and the other owner, Che Sabado, owned the punk rock bar Kincora Pub. Kincora Pub was located in Capitol Hill and closed due to condominium construction.

Before King Cobra, the club was named Sugar. It closed after a shooting that left three wounded. Former Seattle Times nightlife reporter Tom Scanlon reported that the venue went through three different clubs in five years. And, the owners of King Cobra had hoped to finally keep the place steady. Many had hoped the club would fill the hole left by the closing of Crocodile Cafe.

The 6,000-square-foot space at 916 E. Pike St., has a capacity of 475. Live music plays three to four days a week, with the rest of the week available for interactive activities, like karaoke. There is a fully equipped kitchen. The venue is also approved for all-ages concerts.

The asking price? $425,000. Stay tuned for more.

July 11: It's a singing, yodeling, starring Broadway role for Federal Way actress

A local to root for on Broadway:

Yodeling her way across the New York stage is Federal Way native Kelly Sullivan. She plays female lead Inga in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" on Broadway, replacing role originator Sutton Foster. Foster, who appeared in Seattle when "Young Frank" was on its Broadway tryout last year, will be back in Seattle as Fiona, in the upcoming world premiere of "Shrek" at The 5th Avenue Theatre, playing Aug. 14 to Sept. 21 (www.shrekthemusical.com).

Sullivan grew up in Federal Way and Puyallup, and credits her choir teacher for kicking off her career.

"If not for him, I don't know if be there today, if not for his encouragement," Sullivan said about her teacher, Pat Michel, who retired from Puyallup's Roger High School this year.

Michel encouraged Sullivan to practice and take voice lessons, predicting that she would make it to Broadway someday. With his motivation, as a junior in high school, Sullivan won the state contest for best soprano.

"That was a real big greenlight for me," said Sullivan

One of the contest judges encouraged Sullivan to pursue her singing at Arizona State University, where she earned a full scholarship and started musical-theater studies.

And soon after graduating, she landed her first Broadway gig, "Bells Are Ringing."

"It was really Puyallup that started it all — their love and passion for the arts," said Sullivan, 30. "I'll never forget that and forget where I'm from."

For more on Sullivan, go to — www.kelly-sullivan.com. And there's more on "Young Frankenstein" here — www.youngfrankensteinthemusical.com.

July 9: Tributes to Led Zeppelin, ABBA and U2 at King Cat Theater

The King Cat Theater is kicking off a summer of tribute music. The updated historic theater, famous for concerts showcasing Seattle grunge stars like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, is rolling out a lineup paying homage to such acts as Led Zeppelin, ABBA and U2.

Two of their shows — Euro-Fever and Hot Summer Soul — also include a themed buffet dinner.

Here's the lineup:

July 10-12 — Hot Summer Soul, soul classics from the '60s and '70s

July 11 and 12 — Aeromyth with Pyromania, a tribute to Aerosmith & Def Leppard

July 24-26 — EuroFever, a tribute to ABBA, David Bowie and the BeeGees

July 25 and 26 — Led Zepplica

Aug. 7-9 — EuroFever

Aug. 8 and 9 — Hollywood Roses All Stars, a tribute to Guns N' Roses

Aug. 21-23 — Hot Summer Soul

Aug. 22 and 23 — Zoo Station, the U2 experience

King Cat Theater is located at 2130 Sixth Ave., in downtown Seattle. For more information on the Tributes summer schedule, go to www.tributesmusic.com.

July 8: Follow the Web to Austin City Limits

Seattle bands, this is your chance to grab the spotlight. The popular Austin City Limits Music Festival, which annually showcases more than a hundred bands of all genres, is holding an online band contest called the "Sound and the Jury."

Bands are invited to compete for national exposure, prizes (like a laptop) and a chance to star on the Dell Stage of the September festival.

Now through Aug. 22, bands can upload their music onto the contest site — www.delllounge.com/music/sandj/contest/?utm_source=multiple&utm_medium=multiple&utm_campaign=sound_and_jury.

The bands go through four rounds of judging — through the scrutiny of the public as well as celebrity judges. The top five then battle at Antone's in Austin on Sept. 25, and the winner opens the Dell ACL Festival Stage the next day.

Last year over 200,000 votes cast for over 600 bands from around the world. Abilene, Texas, band Homer Hiccolm & the Rocketboys won. Here is their site — www.myspace.com/rocketboys

July 7: Catch the reggae beat of Kore Ionz for a good cause

The summer sun is calling out for a soundtrack — so why not bask in a little reggae?

Seattle reggae-rock-world band Kore Ionz is debuting their album, "Half-Hour revolution" at Neumo's July 17. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 in advance (www.ticketswest.com) and $12 at the door.

In addition to supporting a band whose members represent five continents — hailing from Hawaii to West Africa — half of the album sales will be going to The Service Board, a nonprofit serving marginalized youth in Seattle (www.theserviceboard.org).

Check out the band's music at www.myspace.com/koreionz.

July 3: Ticket alert: Edmonds Center for the Arts

Hankering for Hawaiian music? It's on the schedule — along with everything from kiddie rock to Native American flute — of the second season of the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Former Men at Work frontman Colin Hay will kick off the season on Aug. 22. The lineup also includes:

• High energy children's music with Ralph's World on Sept. 27

• Día de los Muertos with Quetzal on Oct. 30

• Seattle kiddie rock band Recess Monkey on Nov. 1

• The Seattle International Comedy Competition on Nov. 18

• Native American flutist Mary Youngblood with local Grammy award winner Eric Tingstad on January 16

• A slack key and hula show with Keola and Moana Beamer on April 9.

• Indigo Girls on May 8 and 9.

For show information and tickets, go to www.ec4arts.org. Full season subscriptions are available by calling 425-275-9595. And, Indigo Girls tickets go on-sale Dec. 1.

July 2: Summer concert updates: Starr, Oberst, Warped Tour

Some shows to take note of as you make your summer plans:

• Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr plays with his All-Starr Band at the Northern Quest Casino on July 18. Tickets are $80 to $100 at the Northern Quest box office at 509-481-6700 or through TicketsWest at 800-325-7328 or ticketswest.com.

Starr will be mixing some of The Beatles songs (like "Yellow Submarine") with his solo hits (like "It Don't Come Easy").

• He's been named a musical wunderkind, and he's coming to Seattle. Conor Oberst will be playing July 30 at Neumo's. His music is good, but depressing: a perfect break up soundtrack.

Tickets are $25 and the show is all ages. For more, go to www.neumos.com/073008.html.

• The Warped Tour is coming to the Gorge Amphitheatre Aug. 9. The lineup includes such bands as Story of the Year, Street Dogs, The Aggrolites and HorrorPops. It's a really fun festival every year; there's plenty to listen to and fun punk accessories to buy (like fuzzy tiger printed belts!).

Here's the entire lineup: www.warpedtour.com/warpedtour/bands.asp.

July 1: Musician Johnny Schou found dead

Tickle Me Pink bassist Johnny Schou was found dead this morning in his Colorado home. Schou was 22.

Today his punk-rock quartet released their debut album, "Madeline" on Wind-Up Records. They were set to celebrate with a Denver in-store appearance at Independent Records.

The band was going to tour with Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Finch, and scheduled to play Seattle's El Corazón July 31 with Finch. As for the tour, the band's Web site says that "further information regarding the band's plans, and dates that have been previously announced, will be forthcoming in due time."

Fans have been leaving messages on Schou's site — www.myspace.com/johnnyschou — and the band's myspace — www.myspace.com/ticklemepinkmusic.

July 1: D List? What D List?

This just in — Kathy Griffin has added a third show at the Paramount Theatre on Nov. 22. With such demand, she's definitely lifted off the D-list.

Tickets are $45.50 to $75.50 and on sale at www.LiveNation.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone 206-628-0888.

The Saturday Knights "Mingle" at a hot, sweaty Nectar

Music writer Andrew Matson reporting:

Local hip-hop heroes The Saturday Knights sold out Nectar last Friday night. The Fremont venue was packed downstairs, upstairs, and outside, and even though the club's street-facing garage door wall was rolled up, things were sweaty. Dozens of fans who didn't get tickets stayed and listened outside, communicating with luckier fans through the bars that fence Nectar's front patio.

TSK played songs from "Mingle," the group's first full-length album out now on local label Light In The Attic Records. The rappers, Barfly and Tilson, ended with an improvised rhyme session after a high energy set featuring horn players from opening act and purveyors of "Staten Island Soul" the Budos Band.

June 25: Latin superstar Luis Miguel to play WaMu

Forget CD-selling machines like Mariah Carey, Nickelback and Kanye West. In the Latin music world, none of them can compete with Luis Miguel.

Miguel is a bona-fide international superstar (born in Puerto Rico, raised in Mexico), who has sold tens of millions albums worldwide (sources say anywhere from 50 to nearly 100 million). Miguel's heartthrob looks and Latin-infused pop help him continually sell out arenas around the world.

The Grammy-winner will try to sell out a new venue on Friday, June 27, when tickets go on sale for his first-ever stop at WaMu Theater, where he'll perform Sept. 23

Miguel is taking to the road to support his new album, "Cómplices" (which has already gone platinum in Mexico; watch the video to his 2005 song, "Tengo todo excepto a ti" ("I Have Everything But You" here — http://youtube.com/watch?v=Uu0Sci9jAI8).

Tickets cost $50-$110 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 27, through the Qwest Field box office, all Ticketmaster locations, via phone at 206-628-0888 or through www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at: La Sirena Rosa (Seattle), La Espanola (Bellevue) and El Mercado Latino (Tacoma).

And now for some news of a completely different stripe: Seattle now has its air-guitar champion.

That's right. There is such a thing as the 2008 Cuervo Black U.S. Air Guitar Championship, and Monday night the Seattle regional was held at Chop Suey.

Air guitarist Chuck Mung finished first, with an air musician called The Fro coming in second. Fan favorite: Vaguely Ethnic.

From here, regional winner Mung goes on to compete in San Francisco on Aug. 8 for the U.S. Air Guitar Championship. And that winner will represent the United States at the 2008 Air Guitar World Championships, Aug. 20-22 in Oulu, Finland.

Really.

Good luck, Mung. How are you at Guitar Hero?

June 24: Arista says bye-bye Blake Lewis

Bad news for our pal Blake Lewis ... unless you think — as Blake seems to — that getting dropped from your label is a good thing.

Blogs picked up the news late Sunday and on Monday the Web site Idolator.com reported that Arista had dropped the Seattle singer-beatboxer. Blake claims he never really wanted to be signed to a major label anyway, and that it was the label meddling that made his one release (last year's "Audio Day Dream") so terrible. (Hear a sample at his MySpace — www.myspace.com/blakelewis; read the full Idolator entry here — http://idolator.com/396832/arista-drops-idol-runner+up-blake-lewis-after-less-than-a-year).

Well, sounds like the whimsical, uncategorizable guy is getting what he wants. Good luck, Blake.

And bad news of a very different sort for Boy George. The '80s icon's U.S. tour was canceled Tuesday when it was announced that his visa was denied. According to his publicists, this stems from George's arrest last spring (something involving his male companion, some photos, and "wrongful imprisonment"). Said the statement, "This is... because he is facing a trial in November in London... George has not been convicted of anything in London and there is a presumption in the Western World of innocence until proven guilty... ."

Boy George was scheduled to appear at the Showbox at the Market on July 20.

Lately, there seems to be a festival for everything. Case in point: There's now a fest for bike lovers, combining music, bikes and art. Called CRANK IT UP, the festival happens July 12 at Cesar Chavez Park, at 700 S. Cloverdale St., in Seattle.

It's free. And the lineup will feature artists Angelo Pizarro Trio, Kristen Ward, Amateur Radio Operator, South Park Hip Hop Youth Showcase, EMBLEMATIC and Man Alive.

Bring a bike to decorate and ride around the park. Or buy one for $5. Decorating supplies will be provided for free. More information — www.southparkarts.org/events.html.

• Another free show — a July 23 concert by No Age and Mudhoney in the KEXP parking lot, at 113 Dexter Ave. N., in Seattle. The show starts at 8 p.m. and benefits KEXP-FM (90.3) through the Toyota/Urban Outfitters Free Yr Radio campaign.

To get in, fans just have to present an invite printed off www.FreeYrRadio.com.

• Hawaii's surf-rock-reggae band Pepper will be performing on tour with Slightly Stoopid, coming Aug. 7 to the Marymoor Amphitheatre.

Tickets are $29.50 on ticketmaster.com. To check out Pepper's music, go to — www.myspace.com/pepperlive.

• Finally, Bumbershoot keeps adding and taking away artists, so follow this link to see the entire lineup for the Labor Day Weekend festival (minus Ludacris, the All-American Rejects and MIDIval PunditZ, who couldn't make it) — www.bumbershoot.org/lineup.htm.

June 19: Bumbershoot 2008 adds the Flobots, the Offspring and Nada Surf

NW Ticket editor Raina Wagner here, with a Thursday-morning dispatch:

Those Bumbershoot announcements just keep coming. This time the three-day music and arts fest is announcing the addition of classic punk rockers the Offspring, indie-rockers Nada Surf and the progressive hip-hop Flobots to the 2008 lineup.

Nada Surf and the Flobots — a rising, Roots-influenced band from Denver — were just in the area, playing last weekend's 107.7 The End's Summer Camp II, at Marymoor Park.

Bumbershoot 2008 is set Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, at Seattle Center. The $80 three-day tickets are on sale now through Aug. 15 (when they go up to $100). Single day-specific tickets go on sale July 15 at bumbershoot.org, Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 206-628-0888; starting Aug. 2 you can buy them at Western Washington Starbucks stores, where there will be no service fees. Single day-specific tickets are $35 July 15-Aug. 15, and $40 thereafter.

Complete festival details are online — bumbershoot.org.

June 19: Funky new music for funky old Seattle weather

Here's some offbeat music for the funky weather:

• I love mashups because nothing is better than two funky styles mixed into one. And this group amplifies mashups to a new level, mixing cumbia — a sound fusing old and new music of Colombia — with hip-hop, dancehall, reggaeton and pop.

Here's are the DJs in this revolving group. You'll want to bookmark their sites, because their music is going to blow your mind.

Resident DJ Villa Diamante blends Argentine and Latin American music with Northern Hemisphere hip-hop, grime, electro and pop — www.myspace.com/villadiamante.

Newer on the scene, Chancha Vía Circuíto has been featured on mixtapes by DIPLO, M.I.A.'s producer — www.myspace.com/chanchaviacircuito.

And, Fauna mixes Latin elements with electronic beats and live hip-hop/ragga vocals — www.myspace.com/faunapower.

Finally, co -owner of record label Bersa Discos, ORO11 blends cumbia with dancehall and Baltimore club beats. And being from the Bay, he mixes hyphy (hyper hip-hop) goodness with some Latin American flavors. You have to give it a listen at — www.myspace.com/oro11.

The group performs July 22 at the Nectar Lounge. Tickets are $10 on ticketweb.

... Check out some fun punk about stealing music by The Dirty Hearts. Here's their video "Record Store" — www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zo9JWpS5A0.

Shot at Friends of Sounds Records in Austin, Texas, the band used its own gear and posters for the set. And for the sake of the video, the Austin punk band even destroyed some vinyl in the store. Their album "Pigs" comes out July 22. Check out the rest of their music at www.myspace.com/thedirtyhearts.

June 17: Pain in the Grass with Queensrÿche set for Aug. 23

The show news continues:

• "Singin' in the Rain" star Debbie Reynolds is coming to the Northern Quest Casino on June 24. Tickets are $30 to $40 and are available at the Northern Quest box office (509-481-6700) or through TicketsWest (800-325-7328 or ticketswest.com).

King Khan & the Shrines are performing July 13 at the Tractor Tavern. Tickets are $10 and available at ticketweb.com.

They have a playful punky sound — be sure to check them out on their MySpace at www.myspace.com/kingkhantheshrines.

• Pain in the Grass 2008 — featuring Queensrÿche, Seether, Shinedown and Sevendust — is coming to the White River Amphitheatre on Aug. 23.

Queensrÿche will be performing their hits with an orchestral arrangement with the Empire Orchestra.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday, June 21, are $29 to $60 through LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone at 206-628-0888.

• And if you are itching for some music during your lunchtime hours, don't forget that Seattle City Hall presents free noontime performances year round.

Here is the schedule — www.seattle.gov/arts/community/seattle_presents.asp.

The summer lineup summer includes: Global Drum Masters, Choklate and Century Masters of Lindy Hop & Tap.

And if you can't break from your cubicle, you can preview music from your computer on this site — www.seattle.gov/arts/community/seattle_presents_sampler.asp.

Free copies of a sampler CD of the music presented at these shows are available at the concerts.

June 16: Summer concert news: Rap at White River, hip-hop in Georgetown, and the eclectic Whitehorse Mountain lineup

Some shows coming up to watch out for:

The Summer Jam — featuring mainstream rap with a banging lineup — is almost here. T-Pain, Ray J, The Game, Bow Wow and Lil Wayne will all be performing July 20 at the White River Amphitheatre.

Tickets are $26.50 to $50 at all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at 206-628-0888 or online at Ticketmaster.com. The closer tickets in the pit are already sold out. For more info, go to — www.kube93.com.

Thanks to leaks and his growing popularity, Billboard reports that Lil Wayne was set to sell a million of his latest, "Tha Carter III," within one week. That would put the New Orleans rapper up there with 50 Cents' colossal 2005 hit "Massacre," and sure gives huge-sellers like Madonna, Mariah Carey and Usher a run for their money.

But reviews have been mixed — Lil Wayne's album could be a new state of pop or the ruin of rap. Judge for yourself., and take a listen at his MySpace — www.myspace.com/lilwayne.

• If you're searching for hip-hop that's outside of the mainstream, here's the festival for you. Pegged as "Seattle's only Hip Hop Festival," the Dope Emporium goes down at Georgetown's Artopia the end of this month. On June 28, the festival will feature two stages and eight hours of live entertainment with music, art, fashion, spoken word, turntablism, film, a producer and graffiti art challenge, a panel discussion, b-boy/b-girl showcases, and a marketplace.

The lineup includes: Amp Fire, B-Girl Bench, Candidt, Dim Mak, Khingz, Orbitron, Stahi Brothers and Waves of the Mind. An indoor stage will also broadcast bits of Seattle hip-hop history along with footage of rising stars.

The festival is all ages and runs 2 to 10 p.m. on June 28. For more information, check out www.artopiaseattle.com.

Also, there will be a mishmash of artists jamming at August's Summer Meltdown, from Buckethead to Blake Lewis. Other artists include Flowmotion, Tea Leaf Green and Everyone Orchestra. The grass-roots music festival and camp-out happens Aug. 8-10 at the Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater. For more information, go to www.summermeltdown.com.

June 13: Ticket update: Jack Johnson at the Gorge

Today's dispatch comes from staffer Lynn Jacobson:

Concert producer Live Nation announced today that all remaining tickets for Jack Johnson's Aug. 22 show at the Gorge are available exclusively through www.livenation.com.

If you try, you can hear the Hawaiian surfer boy in Johnson's music. (He grew up in a surfing family on the island of Oahu.) But chances are you won't want to analyze it that much. His sound is about as laid back as it comes. Ride the wave at www.myspace.com/jackjohnsonmusic.

June 12: Pearl Jam's "bootleg" recordings for sale

Now, you don't have to secretly record the Pearl Jam show on your own — Pearl Jam will provide their "bootlegs" for you.

At the end of their live shows, the band will be selling high-quality digital downloads and burn-to-order CDs of the entire show through their fan club, Ten Club, at www.pearljam.com. There will also be mobile bootlegs of three live tracks per show on V CAST Music phones and at www.pearljamconcerts.com. These will be available as ringtones too.

Digital bootlegs will cost $9.99 (MP3) and $14.99 (FLAC) per show. There will also be hard copies available using recycled material, for $16.99 per show on www.pearljam.com.

All of the bootlegs recordings will be professionally mixed in real time. Launched on the 2000 world tour, the bootleg program has since sold 3.5 million bootlegs.

Unfortunately Seattle fans may only hear the concerts by bootleg — the grunge band has not announced local dates. Here's a link to their tour — www.pearljam.com/tour

And this news is in from art critic Sheila Farr:

Mayor Greg Nickels announced the winners of the 2008 Mayor's arts awards today:

• photographer Hugo Ludeña

14/48 ("the world's quickest theater festival")

• arts education outfit Coyote Central and Marybeth Satterlee, executive director

Nonsequitur, a new music nonprofit

Cathryn Vandenbrink, regional director of Artspace Projects

• the recently reopened Wing Luke Asian Museum

All will be honored at a ceremony Aug. 29 at Bumbershoot.

June 5: Rock the Bells to rock the Gorge

Lots of shows are getting announced this week:

• Hip-hop fest Rock the Bells — featuring A Tribe Called Quest, Nas and Mos Def — is coming to the Gorge Sept. 6. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday, June 7.

Also on the lineup are: Seattle's Blue Scholars, "Godfather of Hip-Hop" Afrika Bambaataa, MF Doom, Sage Francis, Just Blaze, Black Violin, Dirty Heads and DJ Green Lantern. South Los Angeles group the Pharcyde will be there with all four original members. And, rising hip-hoppers Spank Rock, the Cool Kids and Amanda Blank will be performing, along with hosts Scratch — from the Legendary Roots Crew — and the renowned freestyle rapper Supernatural.

Rock the Bells is traditionally the classic hip-hop show to catch. If you love hip-hop, or if you want to convince a nonbeliever, bring them to this show.

Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 the week of show. They will be available at www.LiveNation.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone 206-628-0888.

June 4: Raconteurs to play WaMu Theater

If you missed their sold-out show at Neumo's the last time they came around, the Raconteurs are returning to Seattle — and this time to a much bigger venue. Jack White's "other band" will play the WaMu Theater on Sept. 19. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. June 6, for $35, at www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 206-628-0888.

The Raconteurs are a collaboration between White, the lead singer of the White Stripes, and his old friend, Nashville-based songwriter Brendan Benson. Catch the video of their latest hit, "Salute Your Solution," — www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lL1CW140FQ.

And not to be outdone by all the big albums coming out this week — Seattle's Fleet Foxes debuted their self-titled full length album on Sub Pop Records. Download their song "White Winter Hymnal" on www.subpop.com/assets/audio/4264.mp3. And listen to the rest of their music here — www.myspace.com/fleetfoxes.

Keep an eye out on this local folk-pop band. They were met with adoration at Sasquatch! when they played twice (subbing in for the National when that band was delayed), and they are quickly growing in popularity. You can check them out at Sub Pop 20th Anniversary Festival on July 12 at Marymoor Park in Redmond. Tickets are still available on ticketmaster.com.

In other album news, Olympia singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson is releasing a collection of children's songs with her friends and their children, called "ALPHABUTT," out Sept. 9. Here's a video of the title track — www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfbqrNPJXlQ.

Dawson was responsible for the very popular and very quirky soundtrack behind the indie hit "Juno." She plays at the Capitol Hill Block Party July 25. For more on the Block Party, head here — www.myspace.com/capitolhillblockparty.

Alternative rap-rock band N.E.R.D. is also working on an album set to come out June 10 and titled "Seeing Sounds." You can see their very cool and very raw video, "Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In Line For The Bathroom)," where Lindsay Lohan and Kanye West makes cameos — www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA1HB_yJii4. After watching it, you won't be able to force that song out of your head.

And, garage punk band Yeah Yeah Yeahs are working on album Number 3. For inspiration — according to their blog — the band has been hopscotching from "a barn in the Northeast to a ranch in the Southwest on their journey for the next sound." Check out their musings here — http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=2096735&blogID=40196599.

May 20: The reviews are in: Death Cab for Cutie's "Narrow Stairs"

Sasquatch favorite and beloved local band Death Cab For Cutie has been making headlines with their latest album, "Narrow Stairs." The reviews have gone from the very positive — Rolling Stone Magazine's 4-star critique of "a dark, strangely compelling record" — to the decidedly mixed — to the Village Voice proclaiming that it's simply a "mediocre album." But, most of the reviews agree that it's an emotional record that aims to strike out at your heart.

Here's a listing of reviews. Let me know your thoughts on "Narrow Stairs," too.

Rolling Stone Magazine

www.rollingstone.com/artists/deathcabforcutie/albums/album/20524296/review/20532998/narrow_stairs

Spin Magazine

www.spin.com/reviews/death-cab-cutie-narrow-stairs-atlantic

MTV

www.mtv.com/news/articles/1582775/20080304/death_cab_for_cutie.jhtml

The Associated Press

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080512/ap_en_re/music_review_death_cab_for_cutie

Pitchfork

www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/50564-narrow-stairs

IGN

http://music.ign.com/articles/875/875201p1.html

And here's a site — if you're too lazy to click through the above links — that aggregates all the reviews and gives them each a rating. Averaging the scores, the album gets a C+.

www.metacritic.com/music/artists/deathcabforcutie/narrowstairs?part=rssAnd one more thing before we leave Death Cab for the day: the Bellingham band played "No Sunlight," off the new album, in the back of a London cab. Check it out: www.blackcabsessions.com/sessions.php#. The ride must have been smooth, because the recording session is pretty sweet.

Fergie, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock do the Puyallup

The upcoming Puyallup Fair will feature The Black Crowes, Kid Rock, Fergie and one of America's "Idols," Carrie Underwood.

Hard rockers The Black Crowes perform Sept. 8. Tickets are $25-$55. The band just released its first studio recording in seven years this past March, named "Warpaint." All the songs, except for one, are written by the two original brothers in the band — Chris and Rich Robinson. To listen, go to www.blackcrowes.com.

Rap rocker Kid Rock comes Sept. 10. Tickets cost $30 to $60. His latest album "Rock N Roll Jesus," came out October of 2007. For more and to watch his videos, go to www.kidrock.com/media.php.

Fergie, a Bumbershoot headliner last year, will join the Puyallup lineup on Sept. 16. Tickets are $29 to $79. Check out her latest at fergie.blackeyedpeas.com.

Underwood — 2005's "American Idol" winner — will follow on Sept. 19. Tickets are $50-$75.

Other concerts to take note of are Christian pop group Casting Crowns coming Sept. 9, for $17.50 to $37.50; vocal quartet Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons on Sept. 17 for $25 to $75.

Tickets include reserved seating and gate admission to the fair. They are available for sale 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, order by phone at 206-628-0888 or by logging onto www.ticketmaster.com. For more on the Puyallup Fair, go to www.thefair.com.Finally, if you'll like to take up the mic instead, MySpace launched its karaoke site today. Upload your version of your favorite star's song, or your own, at ksolo.myspace.com. The most popular recordings are categorized at the top and include a Britney spoof, "Oops I Farted Again."

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

UPDATE - 12:19 PM
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UPDATE - 12:19 PM
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Adele's '21' breaks record, passes 1 million digital downloads in U.S.

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