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Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21

Continue reading Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21

Obama names 21 for Medal of Freedom — Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan, De Niro and DeGeneres, Tyson and Hanks

President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 22.

In a press statement, the president said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Here’s what the White House says regarding the recipients:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All-Star.

Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

Elouise Cobell (posthumous)

Elouise Cobell was a Blackfeet Tribal community leader and an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence. She used her expertise in accounting to champion a lawsuit that resulted in a historic settlement, restoring tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other tribes, and in so doing, inspired a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others.

Cobell helped found the Native American Bank, served as director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, and inspired Native American women to seek leadership roles in their communities.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is an award-winning comedian who has hosted her popular daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 with her trademarked humor, humility and optimism. In 2003, DeGeneres lent her voice to a forgetful but unforgettable little fish named Dory in Finding Nemo. She reprised her role again in 2016 with the hugely successful Finding Dory. DeGeneres also hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014. In 1997, after coming out herself, DeGeneres made TV history when her character on Ellen revealed she was a lesbian.

In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro has brought to life some of the most memorable roles in American film during a career that spans five decades. His first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly and Martin Scorsese’s crime film Mean Streets.

He is a seven-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Oscar winner, and is also a Kennedy Center honoree.

Richard Garwin

Richard Garwin is a polymath physicist who earned a Ph.D. under Enrico Fermi at age 21 and subsequently made pioneering contributions to U.S. defense and intelligence technologies, low-temperature and nuclear physics, detection of gravitational radiation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer systems, laser printing, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

He directed Applied Research at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Harvard University. The author of 500 technical papers and a winner of the National Medal of Science, Garwin holds 47 U.S. patents, and has advised numerous administrations.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the mission is to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The Gates Foundation has provided more than $36 billion in grants since its inception.

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the world’s leading architects, whose works have helped define contemporary architecture. His best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Margaret H. Hamilton

Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules. A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton co-created the concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of the Nation’s finest actors and filmmakers. He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role five times, and received the award for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Those roles and countless others, including in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away, have left an indelible mark on American film.

Off screen, as an advocate, Hanks has advocated for social and environmental justice, and for our veterans and their families.

Grace Hopper (posthumous)

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another.

She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards; he is currently a principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. During his career, he won six championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and appeared in 14 All-Star games.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an artist and designer who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and since then has pursued a celebrated career in both art and architecture. A committed environmentalist, Lin is currently working on a multi-sited artwork/memorial, What is Missing? bringing awareness to the planet’s loss of habitat and biodiversity.

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels is a producer and screenwriter, best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live, which has run continuously for more than 40 years. In addition, Michaels has also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and 30 Rock, among other popular, award-winning shows. He has won 13 Emmy Awards over the course of his lengthy career.

Newt Minow

Newt Minow is an attorney with a long and distinguished career in public life. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Minow served as a Supreme Court clerk and counsel to the governor of Illinois. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy selected Minow, then 34, to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Committee, where he helped shape the future of American television and was a vigorous advocate for broadcasting that promoted the public interest. In the five decades since leaving the FCC, Minow has maintained a prominent private law practice while devoting himself to numerous public and charitable causes.

Eduardo Padrón

Eduardo Padrón is the president of Miami Dade College , one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States

During his more than four decade career, Padrón has been a national voice for access and inclusion. He has worked to ensure all students have access to high quality, affordable education. He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies making MDC a national model of excellence.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford is an actor, director, producer, businessman, and environmentalist. In 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute to advance the work of independent filmmakers and storytellers throughout the world, including through its annual Sundance Film Festival. He has received an Academy Award for Best Director and for Lifetime Achievement. Redford has directed or starred in numerous motion pictures, including The Candidate, All the President’s Men, Quiz Show, and A River Runs Through It.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years within the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater, and fashion. Diana Ross is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Grammy Awards highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors. Diana Ross’s greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is a broadcaster who, for 67 seasons, was the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. In Southern California, where generations of fans have grown up listening to Dodger baseball, Scully’s voice is known as the “soundtrack to summer.” In 1988, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Scully’s signature voice brought to life key moments in baseball history, including perfect games by Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen, Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series, and Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader. More than five decades ago, he bought a guitar and learned how to make it talk. Since then, the stories he has told, in lyrics and epic live concert performances, have helped shape American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream. Springsteen is a Kennedy Center honoree and he and the E Street Band he leads have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, on television, and on the silver screen. She has won two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and is known for her performances in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Help. In 2013, she returned to the stage with The Trip to the Bountiful, and was awarded the Tony Award for best leading actress. Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

Clinton aims high in campaign’s final days

Hillary Clinton aimed to hit high notes in the campaign’s final days, hoping an uplifting message would wash away voters’ disgust with the grueling presidential contest. Donald Trump denounced what he called a “rigged” electoral system and told supporters he would never quit, charging into new and dangerous rhetorical territory for a presidential candidate — although not for the first time.

Clinton preached at a black church in north Philadelphia on Sunday, telling the congregation that Tuesday’s election was a moment to choose “hopes over fear, unity over division and love over hate.” She promised to continue the policies of President Barack Obama and accused the Trump of trying to destroy Obama’s legacy.

“I personally believe we have come too far to turn back now,” she said. “If we come together with the common vision, common faith, we will find common ground.”

During the campaign’s final days, candidates embarked on one their last tours of battleground states, presenting their closing arguments to weary voters deeply divided along racial, economic and gender lines.

With national polls showing her retaining an edge, Clinton enlisted allies and A-listers for help at stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire. She planned to campaign with Cavaliers star LeBron James in Cleveland, and rally voters in Manchester with Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose indictment of Trump delivered emotional high point for Democrats.

For his campaign’s final days, Trump planned a marathon on the campaign trail, with stops in five states, including Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states that have long proven unfriendly territory for Republican presidential candidates. But buoyed by a late surge of momentum, Trump’s campaign believes its loyal, white working-class voters will deliver an upset on Tuesday.

“Our secret weapon is the American people who are saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said on Fox News Sunday.’

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told reporters Sunday that Trump planned to keep up the breakneck campaign pace during the campaign’s final days and right up through Election Day. After voting in New York tomorrow, Trump was expected to return to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and New Hampshire later in the day, Conway said.

Tension is running high in the final days. Trump was rushed off stage Saturday night at rally in Reno, Nevada, after someone near the stage had shouted “Gun!,” according to the Secret Service. The agency said a search revealed no weapon.

Trump returned a few minutes later to resume his remarks and declared, “We will never be stopped.”

The Republican candidate’s son and top campaign adviser later retweeted the false rumor that the incident was an “assassination attempt,” and a supporter at a subsequent rally in Denver repeated the suggestion.

Asked about the misinformation, Conway did not apologize, but said Trump’s son was acting out of worry: “It’s pretty rattling to think of what may have happened to your father. So, I will excuse him that,” Conway told CNN on Sunday.

The Clinton campaign says it is focusing on securing its firewall in the West and upper Midwest. Clinton started her day with the largely African-American congregation of Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia. And President Barack Obama planned rallied in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today before joining Clinton for a rally in Philadelphia featuring Bruce Springsteen.

Critical in both states is African American turnout. Black clergy were taking to the pulpits in a “Souls to the Poll” campaign to energize black voters, after early vote data shows some signs of diminished turnout from Obama’s two elections.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told NBC’s Meet the Press that the campaign believes if Clinton wins Nevada and Michigan, she “is going to be the next president of the United States.”

Clinton faced dark skies, intense rain and strong wind in Florida on Saturday before appearing in Pennsylvania with pop singer Katy Perry. The Democratic nominee was preparing to campaign Sunday with basketball superstar Lebron James, having shared the stage Friday night with music diva Beyoncé and hip hop mogul husband Jay Z.

“Tonight, I want to hear you roar,” a smiling Clinton said before introducing Perry for a Saturday night performance in Philadelphia.

Perry, who hugged Clinton while wearing a purple cape bearing the words, “I’m with Madam President,” shouted, “In three days, let’s make history!”

At least 41 million Americans across 48 states have already cast ballots four days before Election Day, according to an Associated Press analysis. That’s significantly than were cast early in 2012.

Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Wilmington, North Carolina, Kathleen Hennessey in Washington and David Eggert in Holland, Michigan, contributed to this report.



Details of N.C.’s economic loss over anti-LGBT law

North Carolina’s Republican administration continues to defend its anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2 (HB2), but media outlets have documented the economic harm the law has done to the state, including backlash from the business community and the potential loss of federal funds. 

North Carolina Passed A Law Rescinding LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections.

On March 23, the North Carolina state legislature passed HB2, a “sweeping” law that invalidated local governments’ ability to provide legal protections for LGBT people and limited transgender people’s bathroom access in certain public bathrooms. The law came in response to a local ordinance passed in Charlotte that provided nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, including allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. [The Charlotte Observer3/23/16]

The Atlantic: After Weeks of Criticism, North Carolina Governor McCrory Is Attempting To “Blunt The Backlash” To Anti-LGBT Law.

On April 12, faced with a pending ACLU lawsuit and in response to weeks of national backlash, NC’s Gov. Pat McCrory issued a “nearly meaningless” executive order clarifying HB2. As The Atlantic noted, “there is no change to the transgender-bathroom conditions,” and it “does not restore cities’ right to establish local non-discrimination ordinances that apply to the private sector.” [The Atlantic, 4/12/16]

North Carolina’s Commerce Secretary “Doesn’t Expect The Legislation To Negatively Impact The State’s Economy.”

In an interview with the Triangle Business Journal, North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary John Skvarla said he doesn’t expect the legislation to negatively impact the state’s economy:

In an interview, he said he has heard from companies “considering their options” but none that expressly decided to leave North Carolina because of the bill, which the LGBT community has decried as discriminatory to transgender people. “I have not had anyone ask any penetrating questions,” Skvarla said.


On Thursday, Skvarla said he has “not seen a diminution in the pipeline” of companies interested in an investment in North Carolina. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s business as usual,” he said. [Triangle Business Journal4/5/16]

CAP: HB2 Threatens More Than Half Billion Dollars In Economic Activity.

According to a report from the Center for American Progress based on publicly available estimates of the economic impact of lost or at-risk business activity or events, the North Carolina economy could potentially lose out on more than $568 million in private-sector economic activity through 2018. According to the report, the state has already lost out on $86 million and stands to lose upwards of an additional $481 million due to cancelled events, businesses leaving the area, and tourism declines if HB2 is not repealed. [The Center for American Progress4/13/2016]

WSOC TV: Charlotte’s Economy Suffers Due To Four Confirmed And Nine Potential Event Cancellations.

On April 11, local news outlet WSOC TV reported on the economic impact of HB2 in Charlotte:

Charlotte tourism sources told anchor Scott Wickersham on Friday that four groups canceled conventions because of HB2.

Nine were in talks but sources said they decided not to come to Charlotte.

Almost 30 more are on the fence because of HB2.


For those four confirmed events, there would’ve been more than 1,100 nights booked at hotels.

For the groups considering, that would have been more than 1,200 rooms booked and for the hesitant groups that’s nearly 90,000 rooms now hanging in the balance. [WSOCTV.com, 4/11/16]

Washington Post: Raleigh Stands To Lose Contracts For Multiple Events That Would Bring The Local Economy Millions of Dollars.

An April 12 Washington Post article reported on more economic impacts to the state from HB2:

Officials in the state are already reporting tourism losses and event cancellations due to the law. As of this week, five groups canceled events planned in the Wake County region, which would have brought the local economy more than $732,000, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Another 16 groups were about to sign contracts to hold events and are considering canceling or changing their minds, according to a spokesman for the visitors bureau. These groups could bring a combined 73,000 people and $24 million to the region.

The visitors bureau did not identify these 16 other groups in a report released by Denny Edwards, president and chief executive of the visitors bureau. But the report did say that one of the biggest hits would come if Raleigh lost its chance to host an unspecified sports tournament, one that the bureau said could bring in $4.5 million to the local economy. [The Washington Post4/12/16]

The Atlantic: Bruce Springsteen Cancels His North Carolina To Boycott Anti-LGBT Law.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced that they were cancelling their April 10 show in Greensboro, NC. Over 15,000 tickets had been sold for the show and officials estimated the cancellation resulted in a $100,000 loss at the venue alone:

City officials did not have a dollar estimate for the lost revenue from foot traffic in restaurants, shops and hotels. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said it would be difficult to quantify as some concertgoers could have become repeat visitors to Greensboro.

“We had so many people that would have been able to see Greensboro, many for the first time, and now we won’t have that hotel and restaurant revenue,” she said. “My other concern is that acts we are currently in negotiations with could look at other venues. People we don’t have contracts with can just automatically take us off the list.”

The cancellation also means lost wages for some workers. At the coliseum, several hundred employees were scheduled to work the concert, according to Brown. [The Atlantic, 4/12/16]

The Charlotte Observer: Some High-Profile Sporting Events Have An Uncertain Future In North Carolina.

According to a statement from the NBA, HB2 could affect the likelihood of Charlotte “successfully hosting” the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Other athletic associations have expressed concern over the new law, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the U.S. Golf Association, which conducts the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. [The Charlotte Observer, 3/30/16]

Several Companies Have Canceled Multimillion Dollar Expansion Projects Due To Anti-LGBT Law 

WRAL.com: Citing HB2, PayPal Cancels Planned Expansion In Charlotte. PayPal announced on March 18 that they would open a $3.5 million complex in Charlotte, employing 400 people, and having an annual payroll of about $20.7 million. On April 5, the company retracted its decision, citing the governor signing HB2 into law, stating the new law “perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.” [WRAL.com, 4/5/16]

Associated Press: Drug Company Reconsiders Building $20M Factory In North Carolina Because Of Anti-LGBT Law.

The Associated Press reported on April 10 that “New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said it is ‘reevaluating our options based on the recent, unjust legislation’ whether to build a $20 million manufacturing and research facility in Durham County.” AP further reported that the facility would create 50 new jobs, paying an average salary of nearly $76,000. [Associated Press, 4/10/16]

NY Times: Deutsche Bank Freezes Expansion In North Carolina, Citing HB2 As The Reason For Halting Growth.

The German “financial giant” withdrew plans to expand its technology development center in Cary, NC, which already boasts 900 employees, citing HB2 as the reason for halting its growth. The company planned on spending $9 million on the expansion, creating an additional 250 jobs that were expected to have a total salary package upwards of $21 million annually. [The New York Times, 4/12/16]

North Carolina Could Face Potential Loss Of Federal Funding And Other State Governments’ Spending.

The Washington Post reported on April 4 that at least five federal agencies are in the process of reviewing whether to withhold funds from NC in response to HB2:

The ongoing reviews at the Education, Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services departments are not yet complete, and it is unclear how much federal money might be involved. But the Obama administration’s decision to scrutinize what White House press secretary Josh Earnest described as “both policy and legal questions that are raised by the passage of this law” suggests that the measure signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) last month could have major implications for his state.

Earnest said that “individual agencies are undertaking” the review, and the White House had not issued specific guidance on how to proceed. But he emphasized that President Obama said that “ensuring that individual Americans are not discriminated against because of who they love is something that the president feels strongly about,” and he was not surprised that North Carolina officials “are feeling some pressure” on the issue.

“I can just say that, more generally, this administration is committed to defending and even promoting the equal rights of all Americans, including LGBT Americans,” he added. [The Washington Post, 4/4/16]


Springsteen canceling N.C. concert over anti-LGBT law

Bruce Springsteen is canceling a concert this weekend in North Carolina because of the state’s new anti-LGBT law – HB 2 – that was driven through the Legislature in one day.

“Bruce Springsteen is a hero and an icon because he gives voice, both through his music and his advocacy, to those who struggle against injustice and equality,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a news release. “It means so much that he has spoken out against this hateful bill on behalf of thousands of citizens whose rights and fundamental dignity are being trampled by the leadership of North Carolina.”

Springsteen, according to HRC, said: “As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina, this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future.

The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting $4.5 billion in federal funding under Title IX at risk.

The measure also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities.

Springsteen statement on the Web

Read Bruce Springsteen’s statement here.

Bruce Springsteen

What do you say about the Boss that hasn’t been said? The 66-year-old legend is one of the greatest artists touring today, four decades after his biggest hits, and he’s certainly a fan of Milwaukee — this appearance marks his eighth at the Bradley Center, more than any other artist. This particular tour is a commemoration of one of his greatest albums — The River, celebrating its 35th anniversary — so fans should expect a show that focuses on that classic early-1980s era in Springsteen’s career.

At the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee. Tickets are $55 to $150. For more information visit bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.

7:30 p.m. March 3

The Sets List: Bruce Springsteen, The Werks, Carly Rae Jepsen, Finish Ticket and Vinyl Theatre, Basia Bulat,

Bruce Springsteen

7:30 p.m. March 3 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee. $55 to $150. bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.

What do you say about the Boss that hasn’t been said? The 66-year-old legend is one of the greatest artists touring today, four decades after his biggest hits, and he’s certainly a fan of Milwaukee — this appearance marks his eighth at the Bradley Center, more than any other artist. This particular tour is a commemoration of one of his greatest albums — The River, celebrating its 35th anniversary — so fans should expect a show that focuses on that classic early-1980s era in Springsteen’s career.

Finish Ticket and Vinyl Theatre

7:30 p.m. March 5 at The Rave, Milwaukee. $15. therave.com.

It’s been awhile since Milwaukee had a band go national, but Vinyl Theatre looks like they might be on the edge of breaking the streak. The trio started making waves when they opened for labelmates Twenty One Pilots in 2014 and 2015, alongside the release of their debut LP Electrogram. This time around, they’re appearing in Milwaukee with co-headliners Finish Ticket, a similarly indie rock act hailing from San Francisco. 

Basia Bulat

7 p.m. March 9 at High Noon Saloon, Madison. $13, $15 day of show. high-noon.com.

7 p.m. March 10 at The Back Room @ Colectivo on Prospect, Milwaukee. $14. pabsttheater.org.

The 10 songs that became singer/songwriter Basia Bulat’s fourth album, Good Advice, started as slow acoustic breakup songs. But after three 18-hour drives to Louisville, Kentucky, from her native Toronto, and the guidance of My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, those 10 songs were transformed into resilient, bold pop songs. It’s not summertime, but this album and tour should feel like fireworks nonetheless. 

Carly Rae Jepsen

7 p.m. March 11 at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee. $28. pabsttheater.com.

If you’re a pop fan who only knows Carly Rae Jepsen for “Call Me Maybe,” consider your privileges temporarily revoked. With her 2015 follow-up, Emotion, Jepsen put out one of the year’s most critically acclaimed pop albums, heavily inspired by the stars and music styles of the 1980s — and none of you picked it up. You can make up for it when she comes through town on her Gimme Love tour, dedicated to her hooky but heart-driven breed of music. Americana trio Fairground Saints opens.

The Werks

9:30 p.m. March 11 at High Noon Saloon, Madison. $12, $15 day of show. high-noon.com.

With a decade of performing together under their belt, The Werks have developed their own musical style, a sort of psychedelic dance rock. But as any jam band fan knows, there’s not much more than that you can say about a jam band if you haven’t experienced a night with one yet. It’s a good gamble to make, though — The Werks promises that each concert will be different based on the audience energy, so if you show up ready to party, they will too. Big Something and Madison quartet Ifdakar open.

Anti-gay group to protest Springsteen

Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church will picket a Bruce Springsteen concert on Nov. 17.

A notice from the group – followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kan. – called for a picket at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Nov. 17, where Springsteen is set to perform.

The notice said, “The entertainment industry is a microcosm of the people of this doomed nation: hard-hearted, Hell-bound $ hedonistic to the max. Every person with a platform should be using it to encourage obedience to God.…”

The Phelps clan became famous for protesting LGBT Pride events, celebrities and the funerals of U.S. servicemembers.

Springsteen this year campaigned for President Barack Obama’s re-election and endorsed marriage equality in his home state of New Jersey.

Obama’s iPod a bit like his electorate – varied

President Barack Obama’s iPod could pass for a voter outreach tool. Interviewed recently on Cincinnati radio station WIZF, Obama ran through his musical tastes, an eclectic and all-encompassing list of artists and tracks that reflect the varied coalition of voters he is seeking to attract.

Asked what was on the “presidential iPod,” Obama replied that he had “a pretty good mix.”

“I’ve got old school – Stevie Wonder, James Brown. I’ve got Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan,” he said.

There are also plenty of tracks that young voters might have downloaded to their own collections.

“And then I’ve got everything from Jay-Z, to Eminem, to the Fugees, to you name it. There’s probably not a group that you play that I don’t have on my iPod,” Obama told the station’s E.J. Greig.

For the voters whose tastes are more esoteric, “I’ve got some jazz – John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gil Scott-Heron,” the president said, adding, “You’ve got to mix it up. It just depends on what mood I’m in.”

No mention of The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who has been campaigning for Obama, including in Wisconsin. And he apparently doesn’t have any bootleg of Bill Clinton on saxophone.

Or country music. That vote tends to tilt to the other guy.

Surviving the ’70s

Mavis Staples

As a member of the legendary gospel group The Staple Singers, Mavis Staples has been singing for many years. But it wasn’t until the early 1970s, when the group turned its attention to more R&B-oriented material, that it crossed over and achieved mass appeal. Hit singles such as “Respect Yourself,” “I’ll Take You There,” “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” and “Touch A Hand (Make A Friend),” are The Staples’ pop legacy.

As a solo artist, Mavis had a somewhat less successful career, despite working with Prince during the 1980s. But all that changed in recent years when she signed to the hipster Anti- label. Now she’s being discovered by a whole new generation of listeners.

On “You Are Not Alone” (Anti-), Staples is joined by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (as well as Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor) for a set of gospel and bluesy tunes, including the Tweedy-penned title track and “Only The Lord Knows.” Ther are covers of Randy Newman’s “Losing You,” Allen Toussaint’s “Last Train” and John Fogerty’s “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” among others.

Bruce Springsteen

By the time Bruce Springsteen released “Darkness On The Edge of Town” in 1978, he had already been rewarded with commercial and critical success with 1975’s “Born To Run.” The time between discs, which included legal troubles, produced not only the songs on “Darkness,” but several others he created during that time that are now available on the double-disc set “The Promise” (Columbia).  Subtitled “The Lost Sessions from Darkness on the Edge of Town,” you can hear traces of what came before and what was to be on “Darkness,” such as in “Racing In The Street (’78).”

The studio recordings of “Because The Night” and “Fire” are hot, while “Someday (We’ll Be Together), “Wrong Side of the Street,” “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight),” “Talk To Me,” “Breakaway,” the title cut and the newly recorded “Save My Love” already sound like classics.

John Mellencamp

When all is said and done, John Mellencamp turns out to be the Bruce Springsteen of the Midwest. But the early years of his career in the mid-1970s almost threatened that.

Like Springsteen, others had hits with Mellencamp’s songs (see Pat Benatar and “I Need A Lover”) before he himself topped the charts. But his early chart-topping years, unlike Springsteen’s, were hard to take seriously due to the combination of the Cougar pseudonym and the macho fluff of the material. Mellencamp reached a turning point in the mid-1980s, reclaiming his surname and releasing the powerful and mature “Scarecrow” in 1985.

After that he released a series of vastly improved recordings and even worked with dance produce Junior Vasquez. In recent years, Mellencamp has been embracing his roots rocker identity and the stripped-down, raw, T Bone Burnett-produced “No Better Than This” (Rounder) is no exception.

Elvis Costello

Although Elvis Costello first burst on the scene in the significant punk rock year of 1977, and over the years he has proven to be one of the most versatile musicians in contemporary music. Costello’s new album “National Ransom” (Hear Music), produced by the ubiquitous Burnett, successfully wraps up many of Costello’s influences and genres in one tight and tasty package. From the roots punk of the title track through “Five Small Words,” “Church Underground,” “You Hung The Moon,” “Bullets For The New-Born King” and “A Voice In The Dark,” we will forever be in Costello’s debt when it comes to his musical genius.

Graham Parker

Although Graham Parker’s first two albums were released before Costello’s, there’s no question that he got stuck in Elvis’ shadow. But Parker has a number of essential recordings to his name – indeed, no music collection is complete without 1979’s “Squeezing Out Sparks.” “Imaginary Television” (Bloodshot) may not be this century’s “Sparks,” but it does contain enough good material, including “Broken Skin,” “Always Greener” and “1st Responder,” to make it worth tuning into “Imaginary Television.”

J.P., Chrissie & The Fairground Boys

Since The Pretenders’ celebrated 1979 debut album was released, founder and front-woman Chrissie Hynde has been eternally linked to that band. The 2008 Pretenders disc “Break Up The Concrete” was the group’s first genuinely strong album in several years a welcome addition to its catalog. But Hynde’s latest project is not one related to The Pretenders. “Fidelity” (La Mina) is credited to J.P., Chrissie & The Fairground Boys. We already know who Chrissie is. J.P. is J.P. Jones, a young musician (rumored to be Hynde’s paramour) with whom she collaborates over the course of 11 tracks. It’s a sweet and appealing record, possibly the most poppy recording of Hynde’s career. Just listen to “Australia,” “Your Fairground,” “Leave Me If You Must” and the title tune and see if you don’t agree.


A seriously flawed recording, 2010’s “Symphonicities” by Sting found the former Police-man revisiting songs from both his ‘70s and ‘80s Police and his later solo songbook in an orchestral setting (can you say “Travelogue” by Joni Mitchell?). Sting must have enjoyed the experience because he took it on the road with an orchestra and now we have the CD/DVD set “Live In Berlin” (Deutsche Gramophone) as proof. While it’s hard not to have a soft spot for Sting for his Quentin Crisp homage “Englishman In New York,” there’s a bit of self-indulgence at work here (Sting, self-indulgent? Say it isn’t so.). Still, for Sting’s legion of fans, this is a gift that keeps on giving.