• Reverberation: The Beck Sessions

    Reverberation: The Beck Sessions

    FADE IN: AMSTERDAM, JUNE 30 There are giggles coming from Beck Hansen's dressing room at the Melkweg arts center. Given the rafts of weed and hash that flow through the canals and "coffee shops" of this ridiculously accommodating city, preshow bouts of goofy euphoria commonly go unnoticed. But instead of getting small, Beck and his gorgeous backstage playmates are going through growth spurts. Cosimo, Beck's four-year-old son, is crazy talkative and has more bounce in his step than a Timbaland bass line. Beck's daughter, Tuesday, barely one, is still all gurgles, but she made her Berlin stage debut a week ago, her tiny eardrums protected by massive cans as she crawled among the monitors while Dad powered through "New Pollution." Beck is experiencing new sensations, too. Modern Guilt, his 11th album, is days away from release.

  • The James Gang

    The James Gang

    Jim James loves to do voices. He peppers his conversation with crisp impersonations of the jokers who populate his world. Like the suits who go platinum-gaga at the arrival of each new album by his band, My Morning Jacket. "It's time to go to the next level, ravity-ravity-ravity!" James says, bending his faint Southern drawl into biz-speak yammer. "This album's gonna crack things wiiiide open, like an ice-cold can!" Or the promoters -- journalists, even -- who can't see past his group's image as bearded yahoos from Kentucky. "It's the longhair band!" James sputters like a huckster. "Come see these fuckin' crazy hillbilly rockers, with their weed-smokin', whiskey-drinkin' jams!" If hair down to your ass and facial kudzu were the only prerequisites for being a member of one of America's most fiery if still unheralded rock bands, a quarter of the population of Louisville would qualify.

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    Entertainer of the Year: Kanye West

    Kanye West is not pissed; he's just in problem-solving mode. Right now, the problem is production costs. "I want to be the No. 1 artist," he says to a member of his crew. "How am I gonna do that with muthafuckin' bad lighting?" It's a different backstage scene from the one that has haunted West since September, when a secretly taped tirade he threw at MTV's Video Music Awards lit up YouTube and deepened his rep as a sour-grapes hothead. In his dressing room at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden arena, West forgoes scenery chewing for a bag of chips -- fuel for tonight's show. He's topping an all-star lineup at Monster Jam, a radio station event that, the night after the Red Sox win the World Series, brings 17,000 fans to a fever pitch without a single note of "Sweet Caroline." Not that West would be above biting that Neil Diamond hit.

  • Entertainer of the Year: Kanye West

    Kanye West is not pissed; he's just in problem-solving mode. Rightnow, the problem is production costs. "I want to be the No. 1 artist,"he says to a member of his crew. "How am I gonna do that withmuthafuckin' bad lighting?" It's a different backstage scene from the one that has haunted West since September, when a secretly taped tirade he threw at MTV's Video Music Awardslit up YouTube and deepened his rep as a sour-grapes hothead. In hisdressing room at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden arena, West forgoesscenery chewing for a bag of chips -- fuel for tonight's show. He'stopping an all-star lineup at Monster Jam, a radio station event that,the night after the Red Sox win the World Series, brings 17,000 fans toa fever pitch without a single note of "Sweet Caroline." Not that West would be above biting that Neil Diamond hit.

  • I, Puscifer

    "Welcome to Arizona." Maynard James Keenan groans it more than speaks it, a strangulated thanksforcomingdude made even less robust by body language: He has his back turned and is rushing ten feet ahead of me through the fertile arbor of the Page Springs Vineyard & Cellars. It's noon and a brainpan-frying 95 degrees here in northern Arizona's Verde Valley -- in Keenan's mind a natural time to have just biked the 15 miles from his home to this verdant wine-making paradise. As he presses on, he clutches a bottle of water in one hand and an iced chai in the other. Both drinks are for him. But what the notoriously reclusive rock star seems incapable of exuding in warmth, he repays in splendor, by leading me onto a deck that suspends, spectacularly, over the languid waters of Oak Creek.

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