Music Tonight: Increasingly popular Pop singer/songwriter Andy Grammer plays Oakley's 20th Century Theatre with guests Rachel Platten and Ryan Star (don't get your TV music contests mixed up — it's Ryan Star from Rock Star: Supernova, not Ryan Starr from American Idol). Last year was a breakthrough one for Grammer, whose single "Keep Your Head Up" from his self-titled album notched Gold sales numbers (and is likely to be certified Platinum). One of the crop of easy-breezy-groovin' Pop/Rock/Soul acts (think: Jason Mraz or Maroon 5), Grammer's current tour is his first headlining venture, after tours with Taylor Swift, Colbie Caillat and Plain White T's. So far, so good — most of the shows have been sell-outs, including tonight's show at the 20th Century. Radio has taken kindly to the singer's recent single, "Fine By Me." Grammer's debut LP got a big push early on thanks to the entertaining music video for "Keep Your Head Up," featuring Rainn Wilson from The Office (see below), which won an MTV O Award. If you have tickets (or plan on finding ones from scalpers), showtime is 7:30 p.m. for tonight's all-ages show. —-
• Athens, Ohio-based band The Ridges return to town after their great appearance at the MidPoint Music Festival last year to play MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight with Chicago's Paper Thick Walls, which has earned comparisons to Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens. Showtime is 10 p.m. and admission is free. Check out a video from Paper Thick Walls below.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for February 2
On this day in 1973, the 90-minute live music series The Midnight Special premiered on NBC (the pilot episode aired the previous year as a "get out the vote" special aimed at young people). The show — hosted/narrated by legendary Rock DJ Wolfman Jack (and, briefly, singer Helen Reddy) — originally aired 1-2:30 a.m. on Fridays after The Tonight Show, when there was, initially, no competition because the big three networks usually stopped broadcasting at 1 a.m. (When Johnny Carson cut his program back to 60 minutes, the show's start time was moved up to 12:30 a.m.)
The show brought some of the biggest names in Rock and Pop (as well as comedy) into night owls' living rooms until 1981, helping pave the way for MTV. The show was unique because the performers played live instead of lip-syncing (though it did use lip-synced performances towards the end).
The list of artists who appeared on The Midnight Special is pretty stunning: David Bowie, AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Bee Gees, Van Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, New York Dolls, Sly and the Family Stone, T. Rex, Tom Petty, Tina Turner, Bo Diddley, Cheap Trick, Ray Charles, James Brown, Blondie, Genesis, Aretha Franklin, The Cars, Elton John, The Jacksons, Steely Dan, Weather Report, Al Green and Marvin Gaye (just to scratch the proverbial surface).
Here are a few clips from the show featuring AC/DC, The Cars, Nick Lowe and then-superstar-stand-up Steve Martin.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers born Feb. 2 include: Jazz icon Stan Getz (1927); Rock legend (The Holliles, Crosby, Still & Nash) Graham Nash (1942); Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo (1966); Colombian crossover Pop star Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, who you can just call Shakira (1977); and late singer Eva Cassidy (1963).
Like Vincent Van Gogh, Cassidy was essentially a total unknown while she was alive. But after dying from skin cancer in 1996 at just 33, British radio helped spread the word about the song-interpreting brilliance of Cassidy and she became a major "star" in the U.K., notching three No. 1 posthumous albums and selling over 10 million records worldwide. A bittersweet success story? It could be the dictionary definition of the phrase. (The rights to a film about Cassidy — whose parents suggested Kristen Dunst or Emily Watson should play their daughter onscreen — were purchased but there's been little movement on that front of late.)
Here's the Maryland native's breakthrough song, her version of "Over the Rainbow" (this camcorder recording was shown in the U.K. on Top of the Pops, in lieu of the existence of any better footage).