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Russian conductor Maestro Valery Gergiev conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra at Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 12, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pa. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

When Music and Politics Mix

Sunday, March 1, 2015

New York — Leaving the Metropolitan Opera recently after hearing Valery Gergiev conduct Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, I walked past a handful of shivering Ukrainian activists standing in the frigid cold on the sidewalk. They waved banners reading “Gergiev Supports War in UKRAINE” and “Don’t Play Putin’s Tune.” The most prominent Russian artist of our time, Gergiev has …

Attention Music Shoppers: Young Musicians Release Recordings and Hope for the Best

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The music business has long been a challenge. But the advent of the Internet has made it even more confusing. While it’s easier for a musician to get his work in front of listeners, it’s a crowded field. What does it mean to make it in the music business these days? Billy Sharff …

Why Lady Gaga Needs ‘American Horror Story’

Thursday, February 26, 2015

After Lady Gaga’s majestic Sound of Music medley at the Oscars on Sunday, some speculated she may be headed to Broadway. Wrong genre! Turns out the pop star is aiming to conquer the world of basic-cable television. FX announced Wednesday that Lady Gaga will star on the fifth season of American Horror Story, …

Country King Garth Brooks Returns

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pittsburgh — There’s always a chance that Led Zeppelin will go back in the studio or Jim Morrison will return out of the blue, but we can probably go ahead and declare the return of Garth Brooks “the …

‘Laugh-In’ Announcer Gary Owens Dies at 80

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Los Angeles — Gary Owens, the droll, mellifluous-voiced announcer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and a familiar part of radio, TV and movies for more than six decades, has died. He was 80. The veteran voiceover star died …

Sam Smith Wins Song, Record of the Year

Monday, February 9, 2015

A partial list of winners from the 57th Grammy Awards: ∎ Album of the year: Morning Phase, Beck. ∎ Song of the year: Stay With Me, Sam Smith. ∎ Record of the year: Stay With Me, Sam Smith. ∎ New artist: Sam …

Holy Grail or Just a Really Cool Guitar?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Les Paul was a musician, inventor and obsessive tinkerer. His signature six-string became the instrument of choice for a Mount Rushmore of guitar heroes: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. But there is something else Paul was …

Suge Knight Hasn’t Been Able to Shake Gangsta Rap’s Violent Origins

Thursday, February 5, 2015

In the 2½ decades since Marion “Suge” Knight founded his volatile label Death Row Records, its artists and crew have moved beyond gangsta rap and onto more peaceful projects. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young co-founded Beats Electronics, the headphone …

With ‘Empire,’ Diversity Becomes the Watchword on TV

Monday, February 2, 2015

The 2014-15 TV season was already shaping up to be a watershed year for diversity on the major networks, thanks to the success of ABC’s black-ish and How to Get Away With Murder. The most-watched new comedy and …

Picture These Bands in Their Prime

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A shirtless Mick Jagger, relaxing poolside in Clearwater, Fla., in 1965, intently studies the back cover of Bob Dylan’s then-new Bringing It All Back Home album, still in the shrink wrap. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gaze with delight as George Harrison tosses a yellow balloon …

Old Meets New in Planned Grammy Duets

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Young will meet old — again — at this year’s Grammy Awards. In keeping with longstanding tradition, the Recording Academy has arranged several May-December duets for the Feb. 8 ceremony, organizers announced Wednesday, including planned performances by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Hozier and Annie Lennox, and Jessie …

‘Stay With Me’ Credits Expand

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In a surprise backstage maneuver involving British crooner Sam Smith’s Grammy-nominated breakout hit, Stay with Me, both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne’s names have been added to the song’s writing credits. Despite never having officially collaborated, Smith, Petty and Lynne now share credit with two others due to …

Still Rockin’ the Road at 81

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Las Vegas — Another Saturday night on Earth. How is this one different? “Honestly, nothing is distinct after a while,” Willie Nelson confesses. He’s talking about life on the road at 81, when wisdom makes the totality of …