Unplugging: RIP Gil Scott-Heron

Posted by Nick Vadala, MXDWN

With Google possibly being hacked by China, the GOP attempting to cut green energy funding and YouTube embedding about to be made illegal, the past few days brought enough stress to push any tech buff to the edge — an feeling that music fans everywhere can agree with. It’s tragedy and triumph this week in the world of music, so come on in and help us cry it out. Hold us, we’re vulnerable.

It is with a heavy heart that we report on the death of legendary poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, author of the acclaimed work “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Passing away at the age of 62 of currently unannounced causes after a recent trip to Europe, news of Scott-Heron’s death spread quickly through Twitter after the artist’s UK publisher, Jamie Byng, tweeted his regrets.

“Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today,” tweeted Byng.

‘Gil Scott-Heron’s death is NOT a rumour. I just called by Dorothy who is staying with Aunt Mimi in NY to tell me the news. I’m so sad,’ he added in a later tweet.

Essentially the Tom Waits of the hip-hop world, Scott-Heron was the writer and multi-instrumentalist behind the critically-acclaimed albums Winter in America and Pieces of a Man. Producing music until his death, Scott-Heron had a unique musical style that blended blues, jazz and soul that ultimately heavily influenced the development and advancement of hip hop.

Prior to his death, Scott-Heron had battled HIV for a number of years and was hospitalized for pneumonia. However, there is currently no announcement that either of these factors played a role in the death of the inarguably influential artist.

Celebrities and musicians across the board echoed Byng’s sentiments, with Public Enemy frontman Chuck D saying “RIP GSH...and we do what we do and how we do because of you” via his Twitter account. Young gun Lupe Fiasco commemorated the poet’s death by publishing a poem of his own on his website.

In a related story, friends of the recently deceased Mark Tulin, former bass player for the 1960s rock act The Electric Prunes and 90s darlings The Smashing Pumpkins, offered loving tributes to the fallen musician.

Passing away this past February also at the age of 62, Tulin, an experienced deep-sea diver, reportedly collapsed while lending a hand at the Avalon Underwater Clean-Up dive and could not be revived.

His first band, The Electric Prunes, was behind late-60s hits such as “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” and “Get Me to the World On Time.” The band went through extensive lineup changes throughout its existence, and by the early 1970s none of the group’s original members were intact. Tulin, along with two of the band’s other original members, reformed The Electric Prunes in 2001, ultimately releasing some new material and touring extensively.

Beyond that, he also toured intermittently with The Smashing Pumpkins and played bass on their ambitious, continually-released concept album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Volume 1: Songs for a Sailor.

“Playing music with Mark was always a joy, he was truly a great, sympathetic musician, a native bass player who knew his instrument and played with a quiet fire. I loved working with him, and he was very supportive and complimentary of me as I was coming out of a rough time…He played a long lost style that was incredibly responsive to the vocals, and to the song. A lost art,” wrote Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan.

But, as the say, out of death ultimately comes growth—a sentiment that the folks from the Coachella music festival might agree with. Announcing recently that the festival, which ran its eleventh incarnation this year, will expand to a two-weekend show in 2012, Coachella organizers reportedly wanted to make sure that more music fans had a chance to attend next year’s festivities. That should be enough to pull any music lover out of the death-induced funk they’re in.

”We know many of you were unable to attend this year’s festival because passes sold out much sooner than anticipated. We were truly surprised by the overwhelming response and remain honored by your passion and enthusiasm. We also know some of you purchased through non legitimate sources and were inconvenienced, gouged or totally scammed. We hope that these changes will give everyone the opportunity to purchase directly from Coachella.com,” wrote the festival’s organizers via their website.

The weekends, April 13-15 and April 20-22, will feature identical lineups and locations. If you want to make it next year, act quickly—a ticket presale kicked off this past Friday and will run until this coming Friday, June 10. It ain’t really cheap at $269 plus fees for a three day pass, but if the lineup in 2012 is anything like 2011’s lineup, which featured the likes of Kanye West, The Strokes and Ratatat, that’s chump change.

Still not feeling any better? That’s alright, check out some Bon Iver—their album should be readily available on any downloading service, given that iTunes accidentally leaked it on May 17 in an attempt to put up the effort’s first single, “Calgary.” Fans reportedly quickly paid for and downloaded the release, presumably then uploading it to various file sharing services.

Oddly enough, this isn’t the first iTunes flub. In 2008, the massive music service leaked the Raconteur’s Consolers of the Only and Kelly Clarkson’s 2009 release, All I Ever Wanted. If seeing Apple mess up doesn’t make you happy, either nothing will pull you out of this funk or you’re an Apple fanboy of epic proportions. Now that’s something to be upset about.

Not surprisingly, the guys from Bon Iver—along with their record label, Jagjaguwar—declined to comment regarding the leak. The official release of the album, the group’s first since their debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, is reportedly still June 21. That course of action appears to be the norm when albums leak, as Against Me! kept their release date the same after White Crosses leaked in 2010. The same goes for Jersey boys The Gaslight Anthem, who held off on an early release date for their most recent album, American Slang, when in leaked months before its official street date last year.

But if Bon Iver’s tunes won’t help and Apple’s screwup is, in fact, making it worse, you can always funk it out.

Modern funk Mozart DaM-FunK recently embarked on a slew of US tour dates in support of is upcoming album, Love, Peace and Funky Beats, out July 12 via Stones Throw Records. FunK referred to the upcoming album, which is the followup to 2009’s Toeachizown, as the “next phase” in his career.

That next phase has been helped along with former Slave frontman Steve Arrington, who appears consistently throughout the album. Interested? Head here to hear a stream of the album’s first single, “Goin Hard.”

FunK kicked off his tour last week at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and is playing—oddly enough—the Taico Club in Japan tonight. He’ll be back stateside starting June 9 for a series of shows throughout the East Coast. After next week, however, most of the rest of the tour will be limited to the California area, so if you’re a fan near the Atlantic you should scoop up some tickets ASAP.

If you’re in California, well, lucky you. Regardless, though, a little funk ought to brighten any glum day, so be sure to check out the above stream and dance the pain away. That’s all for this week folks, keep your chin up. We’re here for you if you need us, all you need to do is call.

Unplugging in Brief:

RIP Gil Scott-Heron

Legendary author, poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron passed away this week of currently unannounced causes. 

Friends Remember Mark Tulin- Electric Prunes and Smashing Pumpkins bassist Mark Tulin passed away in February, and this week friends offered their loving rememberances.

Coachella Expands to Two Weekends in 2012- The long-running Coachella Music Festival announced this week that they will spread the festivities across two weekends in April.

Bon Iver Album Leaked Via iTunes- Apple is at it again, accidently leaking albums. This time, the guys in Bon Iver are the victims, and they apparently aren’t bothered by it.

DaM-FunK Announces Summer Tour Dates- Up-and-coming funkmeister Dam-FunK will his the US this summer in support of his upcoming album, Love, Peace and Funky Beats.

Nick Vadala, MXDWN