Tony Bennett dead: Music icon dies aged 96


Tony Bennett dead

Tony Bennett has died at the age of 96 (Picture: Getty)

Music icon Tony Bennett has died at the age of 96.

The acclaimed singer, most known for hits including New York State of Mind, Rags to Riches and his collaborations with Lady Gaga, died at his home in New York earlier today.

His publicist confirmed the news and explained that he died just two weeks before his birthday.

‘Tony Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in Astoria, Queens on August 3rd, 1926, has passed away in his hometown of New York City at the age of 96 earlier today,’ they told People Magazine in a statement.

‘The beloved singer, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016, is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto, his two sons, Danny and Dae Bennett, his daughters Johanna Bennett and Antonia Bennett and nine grandchildren.’

His cause of death has not been shared, but he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.

Tony Bennett dead

Bennett died just days before his 97th birthday(Picture: Getty)

The New York born musician crafted his love of singing from a very early age, and impressed many with his talents when he was just a child.

He was drafted into the army in 1944 and returned to the US two years later, where he embarked on a hugely successful a career in the spotlight.

It was in 1949 that he was given a break, opening for Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village – Bob Hope was in the audience and took a shine to the late star, instructing him to change his name publicly from Benedetto to Bennett.

Bennett landed his first record deal the following year and released a string of hits including Because of You and Cold, Cold Heart, which went on to hit the number one spot.

Tony Bennett dead

The singing icon was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016 but continued to work (Picture: Getty)

In 1952, he released his debut album, Because of You, and went on to drop Cloud 7, the Beat of my Heart and To My Wonderful One.

His 1953 track Rags to Riches was famously heard in the opening credits of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas.

As well as selling millions of records, he picked up an astonishing 20 Grammys over his decades-long career, including a lifetime achievement award in 2001.

He was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994 thanks to his track, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

Bennett was celebrated by fans, critics and his peers but it was Frank Sinatra who offered him the highest of praise, declaring in a 1965 interview: ‘For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.

‘He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more.’

Throughout his career, he went on to collaborate with musical greats including Christina Aguilera, Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse.

He also worked frequently with Lady Gaga, most recently releasing their joint album, Love For Sale in 2021.

Tony Bennett

Tony won a string of awards throughout his career (Picture: Getty)

Gaga became emotional as she dedicated her Grammys performance to the singer in 2022, after he was too ill to attend.

‘We love you Tony, we miss you,’ she said at the time.

The music legend was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, and revealed the news of his condition in 2021.

Tweeting a link to an interview with AARP, he wrote: ‘Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer’s.

Tony Bennett

Tony retired from performing in 2021 (Picture: Getty)

‘Thank you to [my wife] Susan and my family for their support, and AARP The Magazine for telling my story.’

Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

In most, the symptoms first appear in their mid-60s and eventually leaves them dependent on caregivers.

Despite the condition, he continued to perform for five years, before retiring from the stage in 2021.

Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan, their children, Danny, Dae, Johanna and Antonia, and nine grandchildren.

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GREG GUTFELD: It’s another week, another country


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

It’s another week, another country music star falsely accused of racism. Last week, it was Luke Combs who has a huge hit with a cover of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 song called Fast Car. I think we have a snippet of the song. 


You know, that song really is timeless. Somehow, Combs, though, is a bad guy for renewing interest in Chapman’s music and putting a bunch of money in her pocket out of respect for her talent. But he’s white and she’s black, so it’s bad. Now it’s Jason Aldean’s turn. Now, to be clear, as of last week, I had no idea who Jason Aldean was. 


EMILY COMPAGNO: And it reminds me of that song by Jason Aldean. 

GREG GUTFELD: I don’t know who that is. Who’s Jason Aldean? Ooo hear the audience groan?

COMPAGNO: It’s a country singer. 

GUTFELD: Oh, I’m sorry Fox News. It’s a country singer! I’m supposed to know about country music?! I don’t know anything about country music. 


Jason Aldean music video

Country music star Jason Aldean appearing in the official music video for “Try That In A Small Town. The video took place in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, which has a controversial past. (Jason Aldean)

Yeah. It’s like… you could get killed if you don’t know country music at Fox. Now I know everything about the guy. The story is all over Fox more than Brian Kilmeade. He’s a lonely guy, he can’t go home. The CMT Network, which used to stand for country music television, now stands for cowards, morons and twerp’s because they… You should have seen the original acronym. CMT? Think about it. They pulled the video for Aldean’s latest single “Try That in a Small Town.” If you haven’t seen that yet, here it is again. 


Musician Sheryl Crow called the song “not American or small town-like. It’s just lame.” Well, that’s not nice of her, but she should know. Here’s her singing at a recent concert. 


Those hormone blockers really work. But it doesn’t really matter. The controversy is already backfiring. The song is number one on iTunes, and CMT is as popular with its fan base as a warm can of Bud Light. I know, huh? He never gets old. And now even I’m talking about it and the last time I listened to any country music, I was doing blow in a Bass Pro bathroom with Larry Gatlin. It was a long time ago. But it’s the Streisand effect. When you tell people they can’t see or hear something, they want to know what you’re so afraid of. They want to make up their minds for themselves. You know, like adults in this country had been doing for years until this bag of used **** called the Modern Progressives came along. I probably should… Probably should have said new ****. But none of this is… None of this is about a song or an artist or a genre. It’s about who is allowed to speak their mind in 2023 America.

Jason Aldean looks serious in a black cowboy hat inset circle of "Try That In A Small Town" video

Consumers’ Research, nonprofit organization that aims to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers, put out a “woke alert” after CMT pulled Jason Aldean’s video for “Try That In A Small Town.” (Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartRadio/BBR Music Group/Jason Aldean YouTube)

The modern left’s first impulse is always censorship, which is more anti-American than putting pineapple on pizza. So why is this song a target? Because it’s anti-crime. And to a liberal, being anti-crime is anti-Black. That linkage alone is racist. But it’s now a solid belief among progressives. If you redefine violence as mostly peaceful social justice, then rejecting violence makes you the enemy because crime equals blacks among liberals and the media. And now we’re here where songs about riots receive more condemnation from politicians than the actual riots did. Racist libs took it personally because the video featured the George Floyd riots, something they embraced. Aldean’s point being that in small towns people get touchy when you set fire to their businesses and try to kill them. 

Right now what a bunch of squares. And apparently, it’s racist because Aldean filmed the video by a courthouse where a young Black man was launched in 1927. Almost a century ago, the same year Joe Biden got his first letter from AARP. It’s funny, they call themselves progressives, right? But they spend more time looking in the rearview mirror than I do when I have a hitchhiker in my trunk. 


So how much you want to bet Aldean had no idea about that? How much you want to bet that nearly all of the people claiming he should have known didn’t have an idea about it either. The media knows nothing, so libs will blame Aldean for something that happened before his grandparents were born. But they won’t blame Antifa or BLM for anything that happened during the riots. You know what else was filmed in front of that courthouse? Hannah Montana The Movie. It’s Kilmeade’s favorite. Nothing says White privilege like her father, Billy Ray’s mullet. 

Jason Aldean at the CMAs carpet in a black cowboy hat

Jason Aldean defended his song, “Try That In A Small Town” which has been out since May, from criticism after the video was released last week. (Jason Kempin)

So, libs, if you claim that opposing crime is racist, you’re assuming that criminals are all one race. Which is, guess what? Racist? Aldean addressed the controversy, tweeting, “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race. There isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage,” but that doesn’t matter.


In the race-obsessed, racist world of modern liberals, they call it a dog whistle. Yet they’re the only ones that can hear it. Guess that makes them the dogs. No wonder they poop outdoors. 

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Jason Aldean ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Video


Jason Aldean performs on stage during day three of CMA Fest 2023 at Nissan Stadium on June 10, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/WireImage,)

Country singer Jason Aldean’s latest single opens with a line that immediately made me cackle with laughter: “Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk, Carjack an old lady at a red light.” It was the kind of line, sung with that overly sincere country candor, that made me hope against hope that this was just one of those country parodies.

Alas, it is not. The latest major controversy in the music world is this song, titled with Big Boy energy, “Try That in a Small Town.” The song itself was released to middling response back in May, but the music video, released recently and almost immediately pulled by CMT, was what truly gained negative attention.

And for good reason. Observe:

Aesthetically heinous? Tonally bereft of any artistic merit? Mid as hell? Yes, yes, and yes. But there’s more to it than that—much more, unfortunately.

The many ways to make an ignorant music video

“Try That in a Small Town” is Aldean’s attempt to clap back at all the changes in this country that he just cannot stand. The lyrics absolutely buy into the scare tactics that news outlets like Fox News tend to put out into the world, evoking an image of this country that’s lawless, with progressive politicking at the root of the problem.

The music video goes even further into that, using not only stock footage of anti-cop rioting, instances of theft, and protests that weren’t even in the USA, but also using said footage to evoke a sense of “vigilante justice” that goes hand-in-hand with the song’s lyrics. This footage is coupled with news snippets from said outlets, which confirms the angle he’s coming into this from.

But the most egregious aspect of this music video is the fact that all of this is filmed in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee: the site of a lynching in 1927, where 18-year-old Henry Choate was killed by a white mob. Combined with the very pointed footage and combative lyrics, this set decision makes it very clear that Aldean’s conception of American problems is one where Blackness is inherently culpable. Though he has attempted to claim that these assertions are “meritless,” even if he were truly ignorant of the Courthouse’s history, this ignorance still belies a mentality that considers itself untouchable and does not value the honoring of African American history in any capacity.

In response to this, Rolling Stone interviewed Dr. Karlos K. Hill, a professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Hill had the following to say about the music video:

It was dog-whistle politics at play. There are a couple themes: the idea that rural America is the moral center of America. That’s a very present theme, because you see images of urban America on fire, with protests, but then you have the country music singer placed in the rural area where it’s tranquil and calm and peaceful. You have the rural/urban divide theme, the “rural America is the moral compass” theme, and the “urban America is in chaos” theme.

You also have this veiled threat: “Try that in a small town.” The song is part of the current rhetoric of the moment. The “us versus them, Make America Great Again” idea. You have all of that without the artist even having to touch it. But what’s most concerning is the veiled threats of violence that, given the Jan. 6 attacks, we should be really alarmed by, because we know where they can lead. 

All of what I see and feel is just the conservative narrative of Make America Great Again: “Look at the chaos, the ways America is unraveling. You better not try that transgender stuff in a small town. You better not try that abortion rights stuff in a small town.” That’s the cultural polarization in this country. That’s the irresponsible part. If he was trying to create some sort of anthem to bring people together, he really missed.

Obviously there are no references to lynching in the song. I think there are veiled threats of violence, but that would be a stretch, to connect it to the history of lynching. There are actual lynching songs, like songs that are actually about lynching Black people. We can’t equivocate. But, at the same time…someone should have known that there was a possibility that someone would say that. 

After the images of urban unrest and violent protesters, you have the imagery of white men shooting guns. So there’s this real deep insinuation of “We have weapons, you better not try to take our guns.” The imagery is what’s doing all the work. That’s what people are seizing upon. There’s this insinuation that these guns are being used recreationally — but if you “try that in a small town,” then that same mentality will be turned on you. 

Dr. Karlos K. Hill, in conversation with Jonathan Bernstein of Rolling Stone

The curious case of Jason Aldean

This might seem like just another case of a MAGAhead running his mouth yet again, but considering Aldean’s history, it seems odd that he would write a song like this. In 2017, Aldean himself was at the center of a historic mass shooting at Route 91 Music Harvest Festival, where 60 people were killed during his performance. Following the shooting, Aldean was emphatic about increased gun restrictions in this country, which makes the aggressive nature of this song and music video strange.

Aldean, however, is adamant that we, the general public, are getting it all wrong:

The thing is, you can make a song about taking care of community and looking after one another that doesn’t invoke sundown sensibilities, let alone in front of a site of great historical tragedy. It’s ironic, and unfortunate, that in making a song like this, Aldean’s essentially created the pinnacle of what non-country fans think all country music is: exclusionary, belligerent songs that are written for racist white southerners.

And even as a non-country fan myself, I know that that’s not indicative of the genre in its entirety. I DJed for folk and country shows in college, so I have firsthand knowledge that most basic country songs are about chilling out, spending time with family, and getting laid. Therefore, this prompted Sheryl Crow, one of the genre’s foremost modern stars, to speak out on this foolishness:

The real kicker is that Aldean wasn’t even raised in a small town. He was raised in two cities: Macon, Georgia and Homestead, Florida. The kind of idealizing he’s putting on small towns is, again, in alignment with a lot of conservative talking points about “returning to this country’s origins,” and those talking points are, at their core, racist and exclusionary, and rooted in America’s anti-Black history.

At the risk of sounding parasocial, I’ll go out on a limb and assume that this farce of a song is a misguided expression of Aldean’s own trauma regarding the shooting. Despite the lyrics being incredibly confrontational, the song itself has no bite whatsoever, with no real direction, and the music video is delusional with no landing point. It ends with an awkward transition into an interview with a farmer who just wants to take care of his community. So, in totality, he attempted to make sense of this country’s history of violence with the nonsense he’s likely seen on conservative talk shows, and ended up with nothing but a loose narrative that he could only piece together using stock footage and hollow, outdated sentimentalities.

It’s all just so sloppily put together and planned that one has to wonder how it left the editing room at all, let alone the recording studio. Worst of all is the fact that, because it’s a product of the news he’s consumed, it can now be used as a tool for the worst iterations of those sentiments, brought to a modern context. He claims that the outrage against the song is reckless, when in reality, the song itself is a reckless ode to an America that, ironically, does not value community and care at all.

(featured image: Terry Wyatt/WireImage)

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Pam Tillis among performers for Tribute to Music


Pam Tillis among performers for upcoming Tribute to Music Legends show

A tribute show is planned for next month with some Grammy winners in the lineup


Pam Tillis among performers for upcoming Tribute to Music Legends show

A tribute show is planned for next month with some Grammy winners in the lineup

You’ll soon get to see some big names honor music legends in Oklahoma City.A tribute show is planned for next month with some Grammy winners in the lineup.Get the latest news stories of interest by clicking here.Country music singer and songwriter Pam Tillis will play tribute to Wanda Jackson. Oklahoma’s Darci Lynne will celebrate Gayla Peevey, who sang “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”The show honors four Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame members who were discovered in the 1950s thanks to an OKC radio station.>> Download the KOCO 5 App”You want people to understand the history of music,” Tillis said. “It’s enriching when they can go back and listen to artists of previous decades.”The Oklahoma City Historical Society is putting on the tribute concert. It will be held on Aug. 15 at the Yale Theater in southwest Oklahoma City. Click here for tickets.Top Headlines American Heartland Theme Park and Resort to be built in northeastern Oklahoma Video: 6-foot ‘doomsday fish’ baffles deep sea divers The wait is over as Powerball finally has a winner for its jackpot worth over $1 billion Hall of Fame wrestler Goldberg pictured at Oklahoma Walmart ODWC: Oklahoma boy catches exotic fish native to South America in neighborhood pond

You’ll soon get to see some big names honor music legends in Oklahoma City.

A tribute show is planned for next month with some Grammy winners in the lineup.

Get the latest news stories of interest by clicking here.

Country music singer and songwriter Pam Tillis will play tribute to Wanda Jackson. Oklahoma’s Darci Lynne will celebrate Gayla Peevey, who sang “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

The show honors four Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame members who were discovered in the 1950s thanks to an OKC radio station.

>> Download the KOCO 5 App

“You want people to understand the history of music,” Tillis said. “It’s enriching when they can go back and listen to artists of previous decades.”

The Oklahoma City Historical Society is putting on the tribute concert. It will be held on Aug. 15 at the Yale Theater in southwest Oklahoma City. Click here for tickets.

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Lil Uzi Vert & Metro Boomin To Perform At IYKYK


Lil Uzi Vert and Metro Boomin have been announced as part of the lineup for the brand new IYKYK Music Festival.

Set to take place on September 9, 2023 at Phoenix Raceway, other names on the bill include Denzel Curry and Jeleel! Additional artists for the one-day event will be announced in the coming weeks.

The IYKYK Music Festival — which is geared toward spotlighting Hip Hop culture, art, fashion and more — will mark Lil Uzi Vert’s first headlining festival appearance in Arizona.

Pre-sale tickets go on sale Thursday (July 20), while General Admission and VIP tickets go on sale Friday (July 21). Tickets — which you can get here — start at $55.

Meanwhile, Lil Uzi Vert has been busy as of late. Last weekend, the “Just Wanna Rock” rapper went to a pizza spot to pick up a bulky order and made sure to treat the staff with the same love they showed them.

On Sunday (July 16), New York City’s Cuts & Slices Pizzeria posted a compilation of clips from Uzi’s visit to their outlet. The post shows the 27 year old rapper picking up a large order, after which the clip cuts to the workers in the kitchen celebrating as they each held cash in their hands.

The video was captioned: “@liluzivert PULLED UP BELOVED BLESSED THE STAFF [three winged-cash emojis, five heart emojis] Thank you we appreciate your support & love [bicep-flex emoji, praying-hands emoji, heart emoji, chef emoji].”

On the music side of things, Uzi recently teased another project to follow-up theirPink Tape, which became the first rap album to top the Billboard 200 this year.

Uzi reflected on going No. 1 with an “experimental” album and then hinted at their next musical endeavor being the Barter 16 mixtape. “Sitting here thinking /bout how I went #1 on a experimental tape,” they wrote. “My apologies Barter 16 mixtape on the way.”

Lil Uzi Vert Proves Their Money Is Longer With $30K Cash Napkin

Lil Uzi Vert Proves Their Money Is Longer With $30K Cash Napkin

Lil Uzi Vert added in a salute to Young Thug: “Free Slime.” It’s unclear if Barter 16 is a tribute to the incarcerated YSL honcho or an actual joint project with Young Thug.

In addition to throwing Barter 16 in their bio, Lil Uzi had previously teased fans with the third installment of their decorated Luv Is Rage series.

During a live stream while playing Call of Duty last week, the Philly native was asked about the possibility of a Pink Tape deluxe, which the 27-year-old shut down and instead hinted at a new album on the horizon. “Nah, I’m gonna drop a whole ‘nother album,” they stated.

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CMT Pulled Jason Aldean Video After Claims It


  • CMT removed a Jason Aldean music video after online critics said the accompanying song promoted lynching.
  • Aldean called the claims “meritless” and “dangerous” in a statement on Tuesday.
  • “Try That In A Small Town” was first released in May.

CMT pulled one of country music star Jason Aldean’s music videos after claims that it promoted lynching, a claim he called “meritless.”

The song, called “Try That in a Small Town,” takes aim at criminals who carjack, assault strangers, rob liquor stores, and “spit in a cop’s face.” He also sings about people who “stomp on the flag and light it up.”

“Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck,” Aldean sings. “Try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own / You cross that line, it won’t take long / For you to find out, I recommend you don’t.”

Critics online pointed to perceived racial undertones in the song’s lyrics and in the music video. Others pointed to the song’s references to violence, including country star Sheryl Crow, who said that “even people in small towns are sick of violence.”

The song’s music video was filmed in front of the Columbia County Courthouse in Tennessee where a Black man named Henry Choate was lynched in 1927, Variety reported.

One TikToker said that the song’s lyrics don’t have to explicitly be about race for them to still “be about race.”

In a TikTok video that now has more than one hundred thousand likes, Destinee Stark said that she thinks the song’s chorus — which dares people to “try that in a small town” and includes the line, “We take care of our own” — are references to”sundown towns” 

Sundown towns were places where residents intimidated Black people during the civil-rights movement through discriminatory laws and violence to discourage them from living there, or even passing through.

In the wake of the online criticism, CMT on Tuesday removed the song’s music video from circulation but has not offered an explanation as to why, according to The Tennessean.

Aldean responded to the criticism on Twitter saying that the assertion that the song is pro-lynching is “not only meritless, but dangerous.”

“In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” Aldean wrote. 

Aldean added that none of the song’s lyrics talk about race and that all of the protest footage in the video is “real news footage.”

CMT did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Wednesday.

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Live Music in San Antonio This Week: Hail the Sun,


click to enlarge Hail The Sun engages fans with a base of post-hardcore elements and traces of progressive and math rock. - Jaime Monzon

Jaime Monzon

Hail The Sun engages fans with a base of post-hardcore elements and traces of progressive and math rock.

San Antonio favorite Hail The Sun is making it’s way back to town, but its post-hardcore sound isn’t to your liking, the week’s live music offerings include hip-hop, blues guitar and pulsing synths. Read on for more.

Thursday, July 20


Dirty rap starlet CupcakKe leaves little to the imagination with titles including “Deepthroat” and “Vagina” in her song library. Born Elizabeth Eden Harris in Chicago, she’s risen to prominence with a bawdy and bold brand of rap that channels Lil’ Kim and Da Brat. She’s also faced myriad traumas in her life and took a depression-induced hiatus in 2019. CupcakKe returned to music later in the year with a salvo of singles supported by a robust social media presence. $25-$100, 7 p.m., Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., — Danny Cervantes

Friday, July 21

Souls of Mischief, DJ Notion

Thirty years is a helluva long time, especially in the world of entertainment. When hip-hop outfit Souls of Mischief released ’93 ‘Til Infinity, Snoop Dogg had just dropped his own debut. Now? Best buds with Martha Stewart. For this tour, the Souls are looking back to those heady days when they scored their highest chart position, courtesy of that year’s LP, which was named one of the top 100 hip-hop albums of all time by The Source. The group members were also associated with the hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics. $20-$30, 8 p.m., Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., — Mike McMahan

Saturday, July 22

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

It’s hard to believe that one-time guitar wunderkind Kenny Wayne Shepherd is now well into middle age. He burst onto the scene in the mid ’90s, then barely legal and inspired by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and other blues-rock icons. In addition to his solo work, Shepherd released a pair of albums with The Rides, his side project with Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg. He re-recorded his sophomore album Trouble Is… 25 last year on its 25th anniversary.  $35-$229.50, 8 p.m., Aztec Theatre, 104 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 812-4355,  — DC

Hail The Sun, Being As An Ocean, Kaonashi, Origami Button

Hailing from Chico, California, Hail The Sun engages fans with a base of post-hardcore elements and traces of progressive and math rock. January’s “Mind Rider,” the band’s latest single, holds moments of frenetic musicality — a signature of its sound. Among a trio of openers, melodic hardcore outfit Being As An Ocean is a standout worthy of a listen. $25-$27, 7 p.m., The Rock Box, 1223 E. Houston St., (210) 772-1443, — DC

Sunday, July 23


Darkbird’s pulsing synths and singer Kelly Barnes’ breathy vocals promise a dance-driven good time, and the crisp sound of its electronic percussion adds another hint of familiarity. Last year’s uber-catchy single “Heartbeat” encompasses the band’s many strengths. $16, 8 p.m., Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., — MM

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Entertainment News Roundup: Hollywood studios say


Following is a summary of current entertainment news briefs.

Hollywood studios say they offered actors $1 billion in gains before strike

Major film and television studios offered Hollywood actors more than $1 billion in higher compensation and enhanced benefits before the SAG-AFTRA union called a strike last week, a group that represents media companies said on Monday. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co, Warner Bros Discovery and others, said SAG-AFTRA “continues to mischaracterize the negotiations.”

Elton John gives evidence by videolink at Kevin Spacey’s London trial

Singer Elton John appeared by videolink in a London court on Monday to give evidence at Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault trial. Spacey, 63, has pleaded not guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court to 12 charges of sexual offences allegedly committed against four men in Britain between 2001 and 2013.

Fifty years on, Bruce Lee’s legacy squares up to modern life in Hong Kong

Fifty years after the death of Bruce Lee, who galvanised the imaginations of generations of young people worldwide with feats of kung fu immortalised on screen, it sometimes seems as if his legacy of the martial art he practiced is fading in Hong Kong. Born in San Francisco but brought up in the Asian financial hub which would make him famous, Lee died of brain edema aged 32 on July 20, 1973, just six days before the release of “Enter the Dragon”, his most popular film.

TikTok, Warner Music Group to partner in music licensing deal

Warner Music Group, the record label conglomerate behind artists such as Radiohead, AC/DC and Madonna, has signed a licensing deal with Chinese short-video app TikTok to boost its social media revenues. The multi-year deal will help Warner Music’s artists and songwriters unlock new revenue and marketing opportunities from TikTok’s more than 1 billion users, the companies said on Tuesday.

Soccer-Netflix plans documentary series on U.S. Women’s World Cup team

Netflix is preparing a documentary series on the United States women’s national soccer team, focusing on their quest for an unprecedented third consecutive Women’s World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand. The series will be available later this year and is already in production, the streaming giant said, and will feature newcomers, including 18-year-old forward Alyssa Thompson, and veterans, such as Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.

Striking writers and actors accuse NBCUniversal of blocking picket area

Hollywood’s striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA actors’ union filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Comcast’s NBCUniversal on Tuesday, accusing the company of blocking a picket area. The unions said NBCUniversal infringed its freedom to picket and endangered its members by obstructing a public sidewalk next to the company’s studio lot in California with an ongoing construction project.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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Old-time country music alive and well at Napanee


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The sounds of classic country music drifted through the Napanee Fairgrounds this past weekend as the ninth annual Napanee Country Jamboree entertained campers and music lovers from across Ontario.

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The event — which paused in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — is starting to see its attendance increase again, as devotees of old-time country music get back to the province’s jamboree circuit.

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“We’re seeing a decrease in attendance just due to the age demographic that we cater to,” Shane Verner, owner of Millpond Music and the host of a number of Ontario country jamborees, told the Whig-Standard on Saturday. “They’re elderly. That part is a little bit tough. But overall the experience is nice. We’re seeing them come back and feel comfortable.”

On Saturday afternoon, an all-star house band was set up on the main stage to accompany a number of singers, leading up to the headliners, Honky Tonk Heart, who closed out the three-day event on Saturday night.

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Napanee Country Jamboree
The Napanee Country Jamboree house band backs up singer Bart Lynch during the jamboree’s final day at the Napanee Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 15, 2023. Photo by Meghan Balogh /The Whig-Standard

While the elderly population is finding it more difficult to attend these types of events, attendance is getting a boost with younger generations.

“Our grandparents are bringing their children, and they’re bringing their kids,” Verner said. “That’s been a nice surprise coming out of COVID, seeing an increase in families, more kids and more families.”

Verner and her husband started organizing jamboree events with their first Napanee Country Jamboree just over a decade ago, taking over the event from a local organizer. Now they run country and rock festivals in communities around Ontario.

“A lot of the crowd will plan out and run a circuit,” Verner said. “I think it has to do with all of what it encompasses. For as long as we’ve been doing it, it’s the kinship, it’s the friendship. People come and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the music. It’s about giving the musicians a platform and giving them a place to perform and do their thing and show people their craft. The whole dynamic of it at our events, it’s safe, secure and they’re not really big. The atmosphere, everyone is kind and friendly and welcoming. We love it.”

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The jamboree taps into a tradition of old country music that many Ontarians grew up with. Verner enjoys seeing people not only take pleasure in hearing the old classics, but also performing those songs with traditional instruments that have become obsolete in today’s country music world.

“The things that people are coming here and singing, those songs, those country legends are passing. We’re losing them,” Verner said. “Keeping (their music) alive for the people who come to the events is important. They grew up with it, it’s what they remember and what they know. New country … I feel like it’s going to the wayside, having instrumentation that’s required, having steel guitar and fiddle. Now country is very different.”

Napanee Country Jamboree
Shane Verner introduces the next act on the main stage at the Napanee Country Jamboree during the jamboree’s final day at the Napanee Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 15, 2023. Photo by Meghan Balogh /The Whig-Standard

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Paul Rudd agreed to appear in Claud’s music video


Paul Rudd agreed to appear in Claud’s music video after an encounter at a Taylor Swift concert.

In a TikTok video titled How I Got Paul Rudd to Make a Cameo in My Music Video, the indie singer-songwriter explained that he approached the Ant-Man actor in the VIP area at the concert and told him there was a song on his album named Paul Rudd.

“He was so nice about it and he gave me his email and was like, ‘Send it to me. I’d love to hear your album,'” they continued, noting that they “can’t believe” the Clueless actor trusted them with the information.

After listening to Claud’s album Supermodels, Rudd emailed the musician and told them he “loved the record” and Claud replied asking if the Marvel star would consider being in the music video for A Good Thing – and Rudd said yes.

“He came for the whole entire day,” Claud explained in their TikTok, reports People. “He stayed for like five hours, and we shot that whole scene and danced outside… It was the best day of my life.”

Before the music starts in the video, Rudd plays a bumbling mailman who delivers a parcel to Claud’s door and has a conservation. After the song begins, Claud spends most of the video alone, however, Rudd appears briefly again to dance down the street with the singer.

The music video premiered over the weekend to coincide with the release of Supermodels.

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