Prince Dead at 57

The iconic recording artist Prince has died at the age of 57, the Star Tribune reported. Authorities were called to the musician’s Paisley Park recording studios Thursday morning in Chanhassen, Minnesota, which is located in a suburb west of Minneapolis.

A cause of death has not been released.

Minnesota’s non-profit music radio station The Current is streaming Prince’s music non-stop, beginning at 1 pm CST. You can listen to it here. On the West Coast, Seattle’s KEXP is also streaming Prince’s music here.

Prince during his Purple Rain era
Prince during his Purple Rain era

Prince, whose full name is Prince Rogers Nelson, was on tour just last week. On April 7, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported he postponed two concerts due to illness. However, after performing a second rescheduled show in Atlanta on April 15, his private jet made an emergency medical landing in Illinois. He was rushed to the hospital, but released a few hours later. He performed the following day and announced that he had been suffering from the flu.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Prince was not only known for forging new sounds wrapped in funk, R&B, pop and rock, but also his flamboyant, sexual style.

prince-live-1024x683His 1978 debut, For You, cracked the Billboard Top 200 and in the following three years he released three more landmark records: 1979’s Prince, 1980’s Dirty Mind and 1981’s Controversy. But it was the next two albums — 1982’s 1999, featuring the hits “1999,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious,” and 1984’s Purple Rain, which included “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and the anthemic signature tune “Purple Rain,” that catapulted him into stardom.

The Purple Rain film, which featured Prince and then-girlfriend Apollonia tooling around the Twin Cities on his motorcycle, dipping into Lake Minnetonka, one of the city’s most celebrated lakes, and performing at the legendary First Avenue night club, sealed his image as one of modern music’s most interesting and influential artists.

With the release of 1987’s Sign O’ the Times, and in particular its title track, Prince cast a jaundiced eye on some of society’s plights, including addiction and AIDS. But it seemed a final salvo as many felt his work after that point, while often still delivering some of his well known sexual come ons (“Cream,” “Kiss”), did not seem to be in touch with the social landscape’s peaks and valleys as much as his previous work.

By 1992, Prince, often referred to as the “Purple One,” eschewed his given name for a unpronounceable glyph. For the next few years he was also in a bitter struggle with his label, Warner Bros., and by 1998 he had largely stopped recording even though it was well known he has hundreds upon hundreds, if not thousands, of recordings that to this day remain unreleased.

In a 1999 interview I conducted with Prince, in advance of the release of his album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic and his first outdoor performance in his hometown, Prince talked about his new music, songs he had written for The Time (some of which he said he wished he would have kept for himself) and discussed freeing himself from Warner Bros. and finding faith as a Jehovah Witness.

“I know that people want to talk about the past,” he said. “But we’re not at Purple Rain anymore. We don’t look like that, we don’t dress like that, we’re different people now. If you talk about that, the next thing you know, people start writing things like the Revolution is going to reunite!

“I can’t really tell you why I decided to do things, because they’re decisions in the past and to go back and try to remember why I agreed to things before is difficult. I am living in today and looking forward.”

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It was Raspberry Beret. I was 4 years old. Yes, 4. I remember that I instantly loved it. "Mommy, who is that singing?" Seems weird but it's true. More than a "once in a lifetime" artist… Just a ONCE IN FOREVER ARTIST. I'm still in shock as I write this and I feel this overwhelming grief. But, we should all turn away from that and HONOR this musician that changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our whole being. From another planet? Probably. Royalty, for sure. Us worthy..? Laughable. They say don't meet your idols… That they let you down. But, some of my greatest, funniest (yes, he was hilarious), and most prolific encounters and conversations about music came from the moments that I spent with him. It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music… It's beyond that. He's somewhere within every song I've ever written. I am sad, but I will smile when I think of every second that I had the fortune of being in his company. We have lost our greatest living musician. But his music will never die. Prince, NOTHING COMPARES… #RIPPrince

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Over the course of his career Prince was nominated for 32 Grammys and won seven. Prince, who had remained elusive and performed infrequently over the course of the last dozen years, had begun performing more regularly and this year embarked on a series of surprise shows in intimate venues throughout North America on the “Piano and Microphone” tour. It was reported that at a March 26 concert in Toronto, he performed 57 songs, five encores, and a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”


Live Blog: 58th Annual Grammy Awards

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards weren’t as full as surprises or upsets as they have been in years past, but the event still managed to entertain and sometimes puzzle us. (Who was it that dressed Stevie Wonder and Beyonce?)

Kendrick Lamar, the favored win of the night — he had no less than 11 nominations — didn’t walk away with the coveted Best Album of the Year or Record of the Year awards (those went to Taylor Swift for 1989 and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk,” respectively), but he did take home five golden gramophones for his outstanding work on To Pimp a Butterfly. On top of that, his performance was, bar none, the best moment of the evening. 

To find out who did what, and when, check out our play-by-play Grammy coverage. 

8:26 pm: Pitbull shakes things up with “Taxi” and is quickly followed by Tay-Tay’s return to the stage, who closes the show.

8:24 pm: Queen Bey announces the winner of Record of the Year is… “Uptown Funk,”Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars).

8:21 pm: And the winner for Best Album of the Year is… 1989, Taylor Swift. Clutching her gold-plated award, TSwift took the opportunity to make a swipe at Kanye West, imploring women to never give up — no matter who stands in your way.

8:14 pm: Video tribute to artists we lost —  David Bowie, Lemmy, Natalie Cole, B.B. King and many, many more — shows just how much great talent left the planet in the past year.

8:11 pm: From the Los Angeles Times: Hollywood Vampires: 185 years of rock among them onstage

8:09 pm: Common introduces the Grammys youngest nominee, 12-year-old piano prodigy Joseph Alexander. The kid dazzles the crowd as his fingers fly across the keys.

Iconic rocker Lemmy Kilmister left his mark on the rock ‘n’ roll canon.

7:55 pm: Dave Grohl, no rock slouch, introduced the Hollywood Vampires, the rockin’, black-clad outfit that features Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp (joined by Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum). But not before he payed tribute to rock god Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, and admitted Lemmy’s influence led him to get an “Ace of Spades” tattoo. While Lemmy was largely indifferent to the Grammys, he would have been proud of the Vampires tribute to his signature song.

7:50 pm: Alabama Shakes bring the esoteric rock of their Grammy-winning song “Don’t Wanna Fight,” to the stage. And you’ve got to love Brittany Howard’s opening scream to the song — now, that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

7:38 pm: Bonnie Raitt announces the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Ruth Brown; she then introduces Chris Stapleton, who she joins along with Gary Clark Jr., for a tribute to B.B. King with “The Thrill Is Gone.”

7:25 pm: Lady Gaga‘s tribute to David Bowie kicked off with “Space Oddity,” and quickly segued into a medley that featured “Changes,” “Spiders From Mars,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” and other hits from our beloved Starman.

7:20 pm: And the winner for Best New Artist isMeghan Trainor. A teary Trainor seemed genuinely surprised to have won, although she was so choked up that it was hard to understand what she was saying in her acceptance speech.

7:10 pm: First-time Grammy-winner Justin Bieber took the stage for a heartfelt “Love Yourself” and then was joined by Skrillex and Diplo for “Where Are Ü Now.” Regardless of what you think of the Biebs, he delivered a strong performance that far outshone some of the evening’s previous acts.

6:59 pm: Hello! Adele is onstage. But my oh my, seemed like the British songstress was faltering there a bit. (Los Angeles Times later reported that her performance was plagued by technical issues.)

6:55 pm: And the winner for Best Rock Performance is… “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes. The award makes this the first-time nominees third win.

Lin-Manuel Miranda leads the Grammy-winning cast of “Hamilton.”

6:47 pm: And the winner for Best Musical Theater Album is… Hamilton. And Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s rapping acceptance speech was the best of the night. Things are heating up. Finally.

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s performance was top notch.

6:39 pm: Actor Don Cheadle, who recently played Miles Davis in the documentary Miles Aheadquoted the jazz master when introducing Grammy-winner Kendrick Lamar: “Sometimes you have to play a long time to play like yourself.”

Lamar and his troupe, shackled in chains and decked out in inmate uniforms (an apt follow to the cast of “Hamilton”), are nothing but themselves and delivered the best performance of the evening so far. They owned that stage, driving home why Lamar’s pointed narratives about our current life and times are so compelling.


6:29 pm: From NYC, the cast of the Broadway play “Hamilton” deliver the potent theme, “Alexander Hamilton.” The historical hip-hop account of Hamilton — adviser to George Washington, and a Founding Father who was shot and killed by his Vice President Aaron Burr — is incredibly compelling musical theater.

6:25 pm: Tori Kelly and James Bay perform a medley of “Let It Go” and “Hollow.” The performance is keeping with the rest of evening’s mellow performances. Betting Lady Gaga is going to change that.

6:15 pm: Tribute to the Eagles‘ Glenn Frey with Jackson Browne on lead vocals for “Take It Easy.”

6:11 pm: And the winner for Song of the Year is… “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran. In accepting the award, Sheeran thanked his parents for flying to L.A. for the past four years he’s been nominated and their relentless optimism in telling him, “Well, maybe next year.”

6:07 pm: Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix pay an a capella tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire‘s Maurice White.

Little Big Town
Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” won Best Country Song.

6:02 pm: Ryan Seacrest introduces Little Big Town‘s performance of “Girl Crush” with the uplifting reminder, “Some songs fly to the top of the charts — this is not one of those songs.” The country act’s performance was top-notch, and the song’s delicately jaunty rhythms reveal exactly why this song did eventually make it to the top of the charts.

5:53 pm: Awesome shot: Dave Grohl grooving in his seat to “She’s a Brick House.”  

5:49 pm: The medley tribute to Lionel Richie is nice and all, but it would have been great to let John Legend finish the Commodore’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning” because he was killing it.

Chris Stapleton
The first-time nominee wins a second award for Best Country Album.

5:41 pm: And the winner for Best Country Album is… Traveller, Chris Stapleton. Accepting the award, Stapleton first thanked Taylor Swift for glitter-bombing him before he thanked his wife (and co-singer) Morgane. What we really want to know is if there’s any plan to give us another performance like the one he and Justin Timberlake did at the Country Music Awards.

5:34 pm: Selena Gomez introduces Andra Day and Ellie Goulding. Day’s voice could melt the coldest heart.

5:28 pm: We all wish we could sing like The Weeknd. But why so low-key?

5:25 pm: Ariana Grande introduces The Weeknd, joking “he earned it,” before breaking into song echoing the sentiment. @karrieraspberry nailed it in her tweet: “I applaud for owning that corny line some professional writer stuck her with.”

5:13 pm: Country stars Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood perform “Take Your Time/Heartbeat.”

To Pimp a Butterfly
“To Pimp a Butterfly” wins as Best Rap Album.

5:12 pm: And the winner for Best Rap Album isTo Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. “This is for hip-hop,” he said upon accepting the award. It’s no secret Butterfly eloquently addresses a number of social and political ills plaguing the country, and Lamar seems intent to carry on the real messaging that started with some of his Compton idols. Not a surprise win, but a deserved one.

5:10 pm: Host LL Cool J‘s opening monologue included shout outs to past performers (Adele, Lady Gaga, Elton John), a nod to David Bowie and a reminder that “with all that divides us today, our shared love of music unites us — all of us.”

5 pm: In front of a spooky backdrop and sporting a black sequined jumpsuit, Taylor Swift kicks off the 58th Annual Grammy Awards with “Out of the Woods.” Taking her seat after her performance, Swift got a warm hug from one of her BFFs, Selena Gomez.

4:55 pm: Host LL Cool J predicts that there will be plenty of chatter around Kendrick Lamar and that Lady Gaga‘s performance will be mind-altering.

4:50 pm: Andra Day gets mad props from CBS announcer on the red carpet. The soul songtress will perform in tonight’s telecast.

Lady Gaga
Hmmm. What’s in the bag?

4:45 pm: The goodie bags are ready!

4:30 pm: The red carpet is heating up as nominees and other notables arrive at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. There’s been chatter about Tay-Tay’s new ‘do (a sassy bob) and crop top while Charlie Puth did a little beat boxing and Justin Bieber and James Corden were shown rolling down the road singing “Uptown Funk.”

Justin Bieber and James Corden
The Biebs and James Corden get their groove on to “Uptown Funk.”

Carrie Underwood flashed some big and beautiful bling her husband gave her for Valentine’s Day, Tori Kelly chatted about her upcoming performance with James Bay and Lionel Richie said he was on the prowl to find Adele. His first words to her? Well, “Hello,” of course.

3:40 pm: Talk about charm, Tony Bennett humbly accepts his 18th Grammy with a smile and a chuckle.

3:30 pm: This year, it seemed like the Grammys just couldn’t wait to start handing out awards, and a handful of nominees walked off with a gold-plated gramophone before the televised event began.

Chris Stapleton
First-time winner Chris Stapleton won for Best Country Solo Performance.

Those nominees included first-time winners Chris Stapleton (Best Country Solo Performance for “Traveller”) and Alabama Shakes (Best Alternative Music Album for Sound & Color” and Best Rock Song for “Don’t Wanna Fight”).

Other awards were passed out to D’Angelo for his comeback album, Black MessiahLittle Big Town‘s “Girl Crush” won for Best Country Song and it’s no surprise that Kendrick Lamar walked with an award for his track “Alright.”

Other pre-show winners include:

Best Pop Solo Performance: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
“Uptown Funk” duo Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars walk with a pre-show award.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars), “Uptown Funk”

Best Pop Vocal Album: Taylor Swift, 1989

Best Dance Recording: Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now” (Believe it or not, this was the Biebs first Grammy.)

A complete list of nominees and winners is available on the Grammys website.


(Originally published at

David Bowie Dies of Cancer at 69

Iconic rock musician <a href=””>David Bowie</a> died Sunday, January 10. He was 69 years old.

A post on his Facebook page confirmed Bowie “died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer.” It was reported Bowie died at his home in New York City; his battle with cancer had been kept private.

A video for “Lazarus” from his new album <em><a href=””>Blackstar</a></em&gt;, which was released on his birthday two days before his death, is an ominous portrayal of a man struggling to survive. It seems to be Bowie’s final statement, revealing his unwavering artistic vision as he’s seen writhing on a hospital bed, fighting off impending death; the poignancy is now palatable.

<em>Blackstar</em> has been heralded as one of Bowie’s best releases in the past two decades. For the album, Bowie collaborated with a jazz quartet and the music features his typically experimental approach to creating dynamic art rock.
<p class=”story-body-text story-content” data-para-count=”278″ data-total-count=”776″>A tribute concert at Carnegie Hall featuring <a href=””>The Roots</a>, <a href=””>The Mountain Goats</a>, <a href=””>Perry Farrell</a>, <a href=””>Jakob Dylan</a>, <a href=””>Cyndi Lauper</a> and others will be held March 31 to honor Bowie.</p>
<img class=”size-thumbnail wp-image-4640″ src=”×150.png&#8221; alt=”David Bowie influenced generations of musicians.” width=”150″ height=”150″ /> David Bowie influenced generations of musicians.

Bowie, who was born in London in 1947, was one of the ’70s most influential musicians. Over the course of his career he also assumed a number of personas, including Ziggy Stardust, Alladin Sane and others. He’s known for such signature songs as “Changes,” “Heroes,” “Space Oddity,” “Under Pressure,” “Let’s Dance” and “Rebel Rebel.”
<p class=”story-body-text story-content” data-para-count=”250″ data-total-count=”2067″>Dubbed The Thin White Duke, Bowie was incessantly inventive and would boldly embrace everything from androgyny and high art to electronic music and old-school Philly funk in his look and music. With each evolution, Bowie was always inimitable yet immediately recognizable. His otherworldly visions introduced fans to diamond dogs, aliens, astronauts, rebels and heroes — all given equal play in his unique alternate universes.</p>
<p id=”story-continues-6″ class=”story-body-text story-content” data-para-count=”598″ data-total-count=”3153″>Outside of creating his own music, Bowie also acted as producer for <a href=”?ocode=social_user&amp;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Lou Reed</a>’s <em><a href=””>Transformer</a></em&gt; and wrote songs for <a href=””>Iggy Pop</a> (“China Girl”) and <a href=””>Mott the Hopple</a> (“All the Young Dudes”).</p>
<img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-4665″ src=”×150.png&#8221; alt=”Pasted image at 2016_01_08 12_01 PM-1″ width=”150″ height=”150″ />Bowie also took his art to the big screen, appearing in movies <i>The Man Who Fell to Earth</i> and <i>Labyrinth</i>. He co-wrote <i>Lazarus</i>, an Off-Broadway play that was inspired by <i>The Man Who Fell to Earth. </i>The play features Michael C. Hall (of<i> Dexter </i>fame) and it has been reported their will be a cast album of the play. (No release date has been set.)

Bowie is survived by his wife, the supermodel Iman Abdulmajid, and two children, son Duncan Jones and daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones.


2016 People’s Choice Awards

In the most democratic awards show around, The People’s Choice Awards allows fans to vote for their favorite musicians, actors, TV shows and more. This year, women trumped in the music category, coming out on top with nine of the 13 awards. There’s nothing left to say except: Go girls!

The event was held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on January 6, and hosted by comedian, actor and singer Jane Lynch. Here’s a list of winners.

<b>Favorite Male Artist: </b><strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Ed Sheeran</a></strong>

The multi-platinum selling U.K. singer/songwriter, whose compelling beatbox, folkie hip-hop has made him a household name, walks away with yet another award for his shelf. Sheeran’s success also led <i>Forbes</i> to rank him the 27th-highest-earning celebrity in the world in June 2015.

<b>Favorite Female Artist: <strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Taylor Swift</a></strong></b>

There’s no denying T-Swift’s appeal: She’s a veritable global powerhouse — and one woman who certainly knows what she wants.

<b>Favorite Group: <strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Fifth Harmony</a></strong></b>

Talk about girl power: The <em>X-Factor</em> girl group winners beat out all the boys in this category (Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, One Direction).

<b>Favorite Breakout Artist: </b><strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Shawn Mendes</a></strong>

Where the Biebs broke through on YouTube, this Canadian singer/songwriter used Vine to post a host of videos of cover songs to Vine. Grabbing the eyes and ears of fans, and eventually the industry, Mendes signed to Island Records and released an EP and then the full-length <em>Handwritten</em>. The album’s single “Stitches” hit the Top 10.

<b>Favorite Male Country Artist: <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Blake Shelton</a></b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”><em>The Voice</em> judge beat out all of his competitors (</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Brad Paisley, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Dierks Bentley, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Keith Urban, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Luke Bryan) for top honors. </span>

<b>Favorite Female Country Artist: </b><strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Carrie Underwood</a></strong>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Country music’s sweetheart and former <em>American Idol</em> winner Underwood beat out Cassadee Pope, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Kacey Musgraves, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Miranda Lambert and </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Reba McEntire.</span>

<b>Favorite Country Group: <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Lady Antebellum</a></b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The trio fuses Southern rock, roots pop and Fleetwood Mac soft rock into a harmony-rich boy-girl sound — and it works as they beat out The Band Perry, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Florida Georgia Line, </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Little Big Town and </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Zac Brown Band.</span>

<b>Favorite Pop Artist: Taylor Swift</b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Is it a surprise she won more than one award? No, not really.</span>

<b>Favorite Hip-Hop Artist: <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Nicki Minaj</a></b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>It’s no secret that female hip-hop artists don’t get many props from the industry, or otherwise, but Minaj, the only female nominee shows that female rappers can just be as compelling as any man with a mic.</span>

<b>Favorite R&amp;B Artist: <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>The Weeknd</a></b>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The Canadian singer’s sound often echoes the King of Pop, but there’s no denying the appeal Abel Makkonen Tesfaye has in this day and age. </span>

<b>Favorite Album: </b><strong><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Meghan Trainor</a>, <em><a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=album”>Title</a></em></strong&gt;

Trainor’s platinum-selling album produced no less than four Top 20 singles, including the ubiquitious “All About That Bass.”

<b>Favorite Song: </b><strong>”What Do You Mean?,” <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Justin Bieber</a></strong>

The Biebs return this year has securely put him back on the map.

<b>Favorite Music Icon: <a href=”;pcode=social_user&amp;cpath=Link&amp;rsrc=artist”>Madonna</a></b&gt;

In yet another show that women are not only a viable part of the music industry, but one to be reckoned with, Madonna shows that she is, indeed, the Queen of Pop.

<strong>Winners outside of the music world include:</strong>

Favorite Movie: <em><a href=””>Furious 7</a> </em>

Favorite Action Movie Actor: Chris Hemsworth

Favorite Movie Actress: Sandra Bullock

Favorite Comedic Movie Actress: Melissa McCarthy

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actor: Johnny Depp

Favorite Dramatic TV Actor: Taylor Kinney

Favorite Cable TV Drama: <em><a href=””>Pretty Little Liars</a></em>

Favorite Actor in a New TV Series: John Stamos, <em><a href=””>Grandfathered</a></em&gt;

Favorite Actress in a New TV Series: Priyanka Chopra, <em><a href=””>Quantico</a></em&gt;

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress: Dakota Johnson

Favorite Network TV Comedy: <em>The Big Bang Theory </em>

Favorite Dramatic TV Actor: Taylor Kinney

Brittany Howard Drops a (Rockin’) Bomb With Thunderbitch

Fans who were disappointed in the more esoteric twists and turns Alabama Shakes’ latest album, Sound & Color, took will be more than a little pleased to tune in to frontwoman Brittany Howard’s surprise self-release under the moniker Thunderbitch.

Dropped without any preamble on September 1, the album’s 10 tracks  showcase Howard unleashing her best. Her full-throttle vocals careen and proselytize; she cries out like a woman that’s been kept down too long and the result is a glorious romp of grinding rock.

There’s no game here, either. Throughout the album, Howard’s lyrics carry a raw honesty.Thunderbitch-Album

“I want to grow up to wear a leather jacket/That will hold my soul in/I’m never going to take it off,” she sings in the opener “Leather Jacket.” The simplicity of this desire, replete with a sneer, recalls Joan Jett’s brazen, yet equally plaintive statement, “I love rock n’ roll” — a sentiment Howard echoes later on in “I Just Wanna Rock n Roll.”

What Howard successfully delivers is that she’s able to back up the imagery of a cool rock chick who has a don’t-mess-with-me demeanor with an emotional plea of who we want to be. I’ve got a massive girl crush, that’s for sure.

Elsewhere, a sly nod to Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” surfaces in “Very Best Friend” and the band rips through “Closer” sounding like Deliverance band camp pickers on ecstasy. (The band is comprised of players calling themselves Matt Man, B Bone, ThunderMitch, Char Man and A Man — fronted, of course, by Thunderbitch.)

If you’re wondering why Howard picked up a side project, it might not be a stretch to place blame on the spotlight the Alabama Shakes have been under since their debut Boys & Girls was released. Just take a listen to Howard on the closing “Heavenly Feeling,” as she drops to a weary sigh and sings, “When people love you, thank you for nothing.”

Listen to Alabama Shakes on Rhapsody here.


Dog has his day, commandeers parking enforcement scooter

SEATTLE — Not many people are fans of the so-called meter maids that putter around town in their scooters, doling out parking tickets. And it seems that one dog thought it would have its day, if not its say, when it hopped in one of the scooters Tuesday. (We guess that’s what you get for leaving your scooter unattended.)

Seattle police said they released the canine from custody after he commandeered the scooter to escape from a storm.

The dog had taken a seat in parking enforcement officer Stan Estaban’s scooter after Estaban finished his rounds in the Leschi neighborhood. When Estaban walked back to his scooter, the shaggy dog ducked in out of the storm, and onto Estaban’s lap.

Estaban tried to shoo the dog out of the scooter, but it wouldn’t budge. A group of people in the neighborhood told Estaban they had seen the dog trailing them earlier, and that the dog seemed to be quite frightened by the storm.

The dog didn’t have any tags, so Estaban called Animal Control and turned the heat up in his scooter to keep it comfortable. And in a sign of a canine-friendly solidarity, another officer dropped by with some biscuits.

Animal Control officers collected the dog and reunited him with his owner on Wednesday.

(Originally published at

Catch him if you can: Man poses as U.S. attorney to get out of jail

SEATTLE — Identity theft is what landed Muhammed Tillisy in hot water with the Feds in the first place, but posing as an Assistant U.S. Attorney to get out of their clutches could have him facing even more charges.

Tillisy, who had served time for fraud, was released on probation in February 2012, court documents state. About three months after his release from prison, Tillisy’s probation officer filed a petition for his arrest after he violated the terms of his parole. Within a week, Tillisy was picked up and was being held in the Snohomish County Jail.

According to court documents, terms of his incarceration stated that if he were to be released for any reason, he could not be released back into the community.

An investigation in September 2012 revealed that Tillisy made a number of calls to an acquaintance as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. Marshals Service. In these calls Tillisy allegedly sussed out the name of the federal attorney who was prosecuting his case and then, posing as that attorney, contacted the Marshals office requesting a fax allowing for his release from the Snohomish County Jail  to “DOC.”

Once he received confirmation that a fax was on his way, he then contacted the Snohomish County Records Office and, again posing as the Assistant U.S. District Attorney, informed them they would be receiving a fax that rescinded the hold on inmate Tillisy.

The next day, Tillisy posted $25,000 in bail and was released from jail within 24 hours. However, his freedom didn’t last long — Tillisy was apprehended by U.S. Marshals two days later.

He could now face charges of one count of identity theft and one count of impersonation of a federal official.

(Originally published at

Some medical insurance plans, rates approved for state’s new health exchange

hospitalOLYMPIA — Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced Thursday he has approved four health insurance companies and individual rates to sell in Washington’s new health insurance exchange.

Under the “Washington Healthplanfinder,” starting Oct. 1, 2013, in most counties, people will have a choice of two dozen health insurance plans.

The approved rates are 1.8 percent lower than what the companies originally requested, resulting in a savings of more than $10 million, Kreidler said in a statement.

“We’re now one step closer to giving Washington consumers access to affordable health insurance,” Kreidler said. “Many of the companies will look the same, but they’re going to sell all new plans with much better benefits.”

The following list includes the approved companies and the counties where they intend to sell:

Bridgespan – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Spokane

Group Health Cooperative – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima

Lifewise – All 39 counties

Premera Blue Cross– All counties except Clark

Three of these insurers — Group Health Cooperative, Lifewise and Premera — now also have approved individual plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Six additional insurers (Asuris, Regence Blueshield, Regence Blueshield of Oregon, Group Health Options, Time and Moda) have filed individual health plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Kreidler has until the end of September to approve these plans and their rates.

The board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange will now review the approved Exchange plans to determine if they meet their Qualified Health Plan standards. A final announcement is expected at the Aug. 21 board meeting.

Kreidler said all of the approved plans include the 10 essential health benefits such as prescription drug coverage and maternity coverage. Also, annual out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and copays are capped at $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

How much someone pays will depend on their age, where they live, whether or not they smoke, and which plan they select. Premium and cost-sharing subsidies are available for plans sold through the Washington Healthplanfinder, depending on income.

Only Kaiser applied to sell small employer plans inside the exchange and only in Clark and Cowlitz counties, Kreidler said. The exchange has granted Kreidler an extension to Aug. 6 to complete his review.

“For too long, people have struggled to find affordable coverage,” Kreidler said. “If they have insurance, they’ve continued to pay more, yet seen their benefits dwindle. The new plans for sale starting this October provide meaningful coverage and will give people peace of mind and financial security.”


Man Wins Lottery Not Once, But Twice, Within 24 hours

SEATTLE — Talk about having a lucky day.

Cary Collings of Puyallup had what has to be, hands down, a great day when he won the lottery not once, but twice, within 24 hours. The 61-year-old first won $55,555 in the “Red Hot 5′s” scratch-off ticket lottery on June 14. The next morning, after claiming his prize money at Washington’s Lottery Federal Way office, he stopped to get a pizza for lunch. While he was waiting for his pie, he went to the Fred Meyer next door and bought three “Bring on Bens” scratch-off tickets.

As luck would have it, the first ticket proved to be a winner, and Collings raked in another $200,000. Collings said he plans to use the funds from his first win to pay off debt and has yet to decide what to do with the rest of his winnings. He’s not going to take early retirement, however, and said he plans to return to his job at the Boeing Auburn plant.