Off Notes: What Happened in Music This Week

music this week
Lenny Kravitz (Image via Instagram)

Welcome to our weekly recap of the best of the musical internet. Summer is an awesome time for music. While the rest of the entertainment industry takes sun-drenched breaks, the northern hemisphere (sorry, chilly Chile) is abuzz with all kinds of outdoor shows and festivals. This week we saw more of Lenny Kravitz than we expected, a lovely show of kindness at Osheaga, David Byrne and Mos Def taking some bold stands, and so much more. So read on to see what you might have missed in the world of music this week!

Dads Being Dads

Starting the week off on a classy note — let’s dive right into the best celebrity gossip story so far this year. For those who missed it, while performing at a show in Stockholm, Sweden this week, Lenny Kravitz burst the seam on his signature leather pants, inadvertently providing his fans with an entirely different kind of show than they’d paid for.

But that’s not the highlight of this story… The singer’s only comment on the story has been tweeting this text message sent to him by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler:

Lenny Kravitz Steven Tyler

But, though delightful, that was not the best part. This is: Later that day, Lenny’s daughter Zoë Instagrammed her conversation on the topic with Steven’s daughter Chelsea. And it is glorious. It is like everything my eye rolls dream of becoming when they grow up. Well played, ladies.

? @chelsannat • @lennykravitz • @iamstevent • #rockoutwithyourcockout • A photo posted by Zoë Kravitz (@zoeisabellakravitz) on

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing 300-Year-Old Violin

The missing Stradivarius (FBI)
The recovered Stradivarius (FBI)

WQXR and CNN: Obviously this story (as all stories) would be better had it had involved a heist. But, failing that, the 35-years-later recovery of Roman Totenberg’s Stradivarius violin is a pretty fantastic tale. The 281-year-old instrument, which can go for as much as $15 million at auction, was the only violin Totenberg had ever performed with up until it was stolen out of his office in 1980. Totenberg had his suspicions about who had taken it, but never found sufficient evidence for the police to obtain any warrants. The violins are so rare — there are only 550 in existance — that they’re nearly impossible to sell on the black market, and so it sat largely untouched for 35 years until this June. The ex-wife of Phillip Johnson, an aspiring violinist who had been known to visit Totenberg’s office, was going through items left to her in Johnson’s will a few years after his passing, and found a locked violin case. She broke the lock, found a violin with a stamp indicating it had been made by Stradivari in 1734, and not believing it could be real, sent photos to an appraiser. The appraiser searched a database, found that the violin was registered to Roman Totenberg but that it was missing, and informed the FBI. At the ceremony Thursday where the FBI presented the violin to Totenberg’s daughters, Jill Totenberg said, “to have it come back, three years after [our dad] died, to us, it’s like having him come alive again.”

David Byrne Wants Streaming Services to Open the Black Box

New York Times: The Talking Heads frontman penned an amazing Op-Ed this week for the New York Times calling for the major streaming services to offer more transparency to artists around their revenue sharing. The article alternates between astounding — if David Byrne can’t get information out of Apple Music who can?! — and hopeful — he argues that with transparency, the industry could grow three times. It’s ultimately is a compelling case for the major players to loosen the reigns. We couldn’t agree more.

Image via the New York Times
Image via the New York Times


Mos Def Will Battle Anyone in the World

Okayplayer: Fresh of his first-ever stand-up performance, where he took on Drake and Meek Mill for their recent Twitter antics, Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def, put out a challenge to rappers everywhere for a real-life rap battle. He, Black Thought, and King Los will take on anyone bold enough stand behind their rhymes. Lupe Fiasco has already signed up!

Kanye West Copyrights the E Minor Chord

The Daily Era: Kanye West reportedly recorded a track on his new album that is simply 10 seconds of a guitar playing an E minor chord. This now means musicians require Mr. West’s express permission to use the chord in a recording or performance. Thomas Reeve, a performer at a local open mic, described his attempt to use the restricted chord thusly:

Well, things were going swimmingly until I strummed E minor, suddenly I got bustled off the stage by 2 security guards. They got me in a chokehold and gave me a $500 dollar fine.

To be clear… this story is not real.

How to Play Every Classic TV Theme Song

Reverb: Online music store Reverb put together a video and interactive notation of how to play 100 classic TV theme songs on electric guitar. Head over to their blog, The Reverb Tank, to play around with the full tablature.

Portraits of Osheaga

Portraits de/of Montréal: Here’s your afternoon cry — Osheaga music festival happened in Montréal last weekend and Portaits of Montréal caught up with one of the festival-goers who was invited up on stage was invited up on stage during Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ set for an experience that will put a smile on your face. (Click “See More” for the English.)

And because you made it all the way to the end… a reward:

RJD2: From Samples to Songs

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