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**Sat 12 Jul 14**
The Joy of the Guitar Riff
BBC programme page here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b049mtxw
DURATION: 1 HOUR
HERALD SCOTLAND says:
Friday, July 18
See, now, this latest Friday night music doc from BBC Four is fine; but we should draw a line in the sand at this point, and get back to making in-depth films about more specific subjects, genres and artists. Otherwise, we are going to wind up staring down the barrel of a programme called "The Joy Of The Drum Solo," and this is not a position in which we ever want to find ourselves. Anyway: a cast of strummers including Nile Rodgers, Johnny Marr, Dave Davies, Tommy Iommi and Brian May assemble, axes in hand, to discuss, and demonstrate, some of the hookiest chops and riffs to have graced rock'n'roll, disco, metal, punk and beyond. It all begins, as most TV programmes really should, with Chuck Berry. A compilation, Great Guitar Riffs At The BBC, follows at 10pm, featuring The Shadows, Hendrix, The Stones, The Kinks, The Smiths, Pixies and, well… other bands who used guitars.
SOUTH WALES EVENING POST SAYS: --- this film, narrated by Lauren Laverne, reveals the connection and evolution of something that spans the decades. Or rather centuries Beethoven’s Fifth contains a pretty catchy hooky of its own (altogether now Der, der, der, deeeeerrrr)
But don’t take her word for it, the likes of Brian May, Hank Marvin (looking virtually the same as the black and white footage) Tony Iommi and Johnny Marr know what they are talking about. And they are pretty united in paying tribute to Chuck Berry for bringing the guitar to the spotlight. Without his Johnny Be Goode we’d have no Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or White Stripes.
Dave Davies, of The Kinks, was just 17 when, desperate to come up with a new sound, he ripped the front of his amplifier (I’d have given him a clip round the ear if I’d been Mrs Davies) but the resulting raw sound gave rise to You Really Got Me (it’s my favourite tune) . This in turn gave us Satisfaction and I Can’t Explain.
But rockers didn’t rule the riff. Nile Rodgers talks us through his distinctive thwacking style which spawned Chic’s Good Times and then there’s the session guitarist who put the phone down on Michael Jackson. He didn’t believe the Prince of Pop could need a rock guitarist but the collaboration eventually led to Beat It with its gnarling opening notes
You are bound to have a favourite in there somewhere – from the more obscure King Crimson track to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana which led Brian May to comment “and I thought all the great guitar riffs had been invented.” Praise indeed.
**Thu 10 Jul 14**
David Eicher reports:
The film is set in London and deals with an asteroid colliding with Earth. This is not your typical sci-fi treatment, however.
Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May contributed music to the film. Here is his take: “This is a very different kind of disaster movie. No Bruce Willis here to save life on Earth from extinction. This is a movie to change perspectives — and now that we realize the high probability of such a strike from space, it is a timely warning indeed.”
The film’s director/producer, Grigorij Richters, will introduce the film at Starmus along with May. The film is about Damon Miller, a filmmaker who is tasked to capture the last moments of life on Earth before it collides with an asteroid. It’s a cross genre film with factual elements and real experts throughout but dramatized to have more of an impact on the audience. It is narrated by Damon’s son, in the future, who has created the film as a tribute to his father.
The film stars Moritz von Zeddelmann, Steven Cree, Steve Nallon, Jamie Doyle, and Dolly-Ann Osterloh and will certainly make an incredible splash as part of Starmus.
You can watch a trailer here:
For more information on the Starmus Festival, see: www.starmus.com
Credit all images: Grigorij Richters
**Thu 10 Jul 14**
Dr Brian May (also known to dabble as a guitarist) visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston yesterday, 9 July. He is shown here in the International Space Station Mission Control with the flight directors and astronaut Jeffrey Williams.
Queen Guitarist Dr Brian May toured JSC yesterday and wore a NASA ball cap during last night's concert at Houston's Toyota Center.
**Wed 09 Jul 14**
Madrid, 9 July 2014.
The second edition of the Starmus Festival is set to be one of the most significant scientific events of 2014. After revealing its final programme today, the Canary Islands will host one of the world’s largest and most important gatherings of astrophysicists.
An initiative started by Garik Israelian, an astrophysicist from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, and in collaboration with the Canary Islands Government and Tenerife´s local Government, the first festival edition featured Neil Armstrong, who participated in a highly acclaimed round-table discussion.
Today, the final programme for the event confirms that for five days in September, the Canary Islands will be the focus of the international scientific community’s attention. Highly prestigious international scientists, specialising in physics, anthropology, biology and astrophysics will be in attendance. While a stellar line-up featuring theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, astronauts Walt Cunningham and Charlie Duke, from the Apollo 7 and Apollo 16 missions respectively, and the famous musician and astrophysicist Brian May, ensures that this edition’s cast is peerless.
Under the heading “Beginnings - The Making Of A Modern Cosmos”, a series of scientific presentations will be supported by music from stars including Brian May and Rick Wakeman. As a result, the combination of science, art and music makes this a one-of-a-kind event in which amateur astronomers, music fans and science buffs, can connect with each other and the stars.
Director of Starmus, Garik Israelian, comments, “This second edition surpasses all of the original ambitions of the first. Science and music fans will find this edition incredibly engaging as we tackle the big astrophysical topics of the moment, in a way which is accessible to the public. This has been one of the most important goals for The Starmus Festival 2014; to encourage astronomy fans to join us and make the most of a unique opportunity to meet world-renowned experts. Bringing these names together in the Canary Islands, one of the world’s best settings for astronomy, makes this festival even more special.”
Among the activities prepared for speakers and attendees include the Star Party on 24 September, a unique night focused on viewing the Canary Islands’ extraordinary skies from the Tenerife Observatory. Music will take centre stage on the evening of 26 September with a Sonic Universe concert by Rick Wakeman, featuring special guest Brian May, who as well as being an astrophysicist is also one of the most influential guitarists in the history of music.
Another of the most exciting activities will be a round-table discussion to take place inside the GTC Roque de los Muchachos Observatory Dome, featuring the largest telescope in the world on the island of La Palma.
Tenerife: a unique setting for a unique event
An event like this could not be held anywhere. The Starmus Festival required a setting which is inextricably linked to the stars and enjoys a rich history and tradition in stargazing. Needs met by the skies of the Canary Islands, which are protected from environmental light pollution and set in a highly advantageous latitudinal position. The Tenerife observatories, on Teide, and the Roque de los Muchachos observatory in La Palma are also two key strategic points in the study of the stars worldwide.
The Canary Island’s position as an important astronomical location is reinforced further by Brian May’s relationship with the region, which dates back to the seventies. May wrote his thesis on the reflection of light from interplanetary dust in the solar system in the Teide Observatory on Tenerife, which he shelved while a little-known band called Queen became popular, until completing it in 2007 with the support of Starmus Director, Garik Israelian.
Programme highlights (see full programme in the attached documents) - HERE
All speakers will tackle big topics from their different areas of expertise, offering a unique array of views. “Tentative taxonomy of extra-terrestrial life” by Richard Dawkins; “Travelling in space and time with the James Webb Space Telescope” by John Mather; “The dark side of the Moon” by Charlie Duke; “Why didn’t the Soviet Union send a man to the moon?” by Alexei Leonov and “Seeing space in 3D” by Brian May are just some of highlights.
In addition, as part of the conference panel, Stephen Hawking will speak on two occasions covering: “The origin of the Universe”, which will take place on the second day of the festival, and “Black Holes”, which he will give on the last day as a spectacular finale to the festival.
With the great and the good of science confirmed, Starmus today starts its countdown to September. The organisers will also reveal more surprises included in the world’s most ambitious astronomy event in the coming weeks.
Any science, astronomy and music fans that wish to register for tickets to this celestial shindig can register here: www.starmus.com/en/register and find further details on a 15% flight discount for Starmus attendees with Iberia.
About Promotur-Turismo Islas Canarias
**Wed 09 Jul 14**
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Joint Care for the Wild and Badger Trust Press Release
Owen Paterson made no attempt to meet the Independent Expert Panel following the publication of their highly critical report into last year’s pilot badger culls, according to panel member Professor Tim Coulson.
Speaking at a meeting on Monday hosted by the Badger Trust & Care for the Wild and attended by over 40 MPs, researchers and animal welfare organisations, Professor Coulson, a Professor of Zoology at Oxford University, said: "It was clear from our contacts with senior DEFRA officials that Owen Paterson was very unhappy with our findings. It was a shame he did not meet with all members of the Independent Expert Panel to discuss our many recommendations on improving the effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation.”
Responding to Professor Coulson's comments, the Conservative MP Anne Main, who chaired the meeting, said she was surprised and disappointed that no meeting had taken place and would take up this issue with Owen Paterson. She expressed the view that the farming lobby has considerable impact and that, sadly, badgers didn't vote. Anne felt strongly the Secretary of State should take on board the need for independent scrutiny and that she’d be writing to him stressing this point. The St Albans MP said she wasn't having a fight with Owen Paterson per se, rather she took issue with the policy, and, in particular was convinced by the persuasive scientific evidence against culling badgers. Anne said “having a badger cull is not about politics, it’s about science”. She went to on to say that she has apprehensions that Mr Paterson does not recognise the huge level of public opposition and that there were Conservatives who had concerns about the scientific validity of the culling.
Responding to the concerns raised by Professor Tim Coulson and Anne Main MP, Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, said:
“We have the strong support of a vast majority of the British public, leading scientists and MPs from all parties in taking this legal action. For too long the Government and the National Farmers’ Union have played the badger blame game to pursue a disastrous policy which has done huge damage to the reputation of DEFRA and the livestock farming industry. It's time we stopped playing politics with our wildlife and brought this disastrous cruel badger cull policy to an end for good.
"The publication of a University of Warwick report on the spread of bovine TB in Nature Magazine last week confirms what charities such as the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild have been saying all along: our focus should be on cattle, not badgers, when it comes to reducing the spread of this disease. So to continue badger culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset this summer at all is outrageous, but with no independent monitoring for safety, effectiveness and humaneness it is a national disgrace. This is why, despite opposition from Owen Paterson, the Badger Trust has won the right to challenge this disastrous policy in the High Court.”
**Tue 08 Jul 14**
Brian May knows a thing or two about voices. He worked for much of his career with Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest rock singers of all time. He also famously blended his own voice with Mercury’s and Queen drummer Roger Taylor’s to create some of the best harmonies anyone has ever heard. Then, there is his guitar voice, which is beautiful, rich, multifaceted, and instantly recognizable. So when the good doctor finds a new voice he feels compelled to work with, that is newsworthy indeed. London theater star Kerry Ellis is just such a singer. May was so taken with her vocals that he encouraged Ellis to audition for the Queen-themed theatrical show We Will Rock You, and vowed to produce a record for her, which he did— 2010’s Anthems [Decca].
Now the two have a DVD/CD from a recent gig in Switzerland, The Candlelight Concerts – Live at Montreux 2013 [Eagle Rock]. It’s an intimate, mostly acoustic set comprised of standards, Queen tunes, and some carefully chosen covers.
“I’m very fortunate to be touring with Brian,” says Ellis. “We’re very good at leaving space - I think we very much complement each other.”
One day before the announcement of Queen + Adam Lambert tour dates, May took time to talk about The Candlelight Concerts from London.
GP" You’ve backed up great singers your entire career. What are the most important things a guitarist can do to support a singer?
BRIAN MAY: The most important thing is to stay out of the way. It’s very important what you don’t play in this situation, and I’ve thought this for a very long time. I learned an awful lot from watching how the guitarists in We Will Rock You all around the world play our songs. We like to give them freedom, and the best of them understand that everything depends on the vocals. If I’m giving them notes, I always say, “Make sure you can hear the vocal. That will tell you if you’re doing the job right or not.” By seeing other people mess it up, I realize more and more what I have to do and what I have to not do. A song is about the singer and that’s it.
And remember, I started that way. I didn’t learn lead guitar first, I learned rhythm guitar and then lead guitar. So, for me, it’s a kind of return to my roots, and it’s something I really enjoy. I spend a lot of time studying and trying to work things out, because, as an accompanist, you don’t want to miss anything. You want to have the whole chord structure for the song in there or else the song doesn’t achieve its potential. But in order to do that with six strings on an acoustic guitar, you have to use everything at your disposal - mute unwanted open strings, add little riffs and things, and always remember that you have to fit around the vocal. To me, it’s a fascinating study and I’m very proud of what we’re doing.
GP: Your acoustic on the intro to “Born Free” has such a huge ring to it that I initially thought it was a 12-string. How are you getting that tone?
It’s just a standard guitar with nice, new strings on it. I use my fingers a lot, the fingertips and the fingernail as well. Then, it’s about choosing your notes. If you have a lot of open strings it makes a huge difference. I love to engineer things so I can use lots of open strings in unusual ways. My “Born Free” riff is not what was on the original, but I think John Barry would approve. It has a certain sort of clang to it. The open strings give it that brightness.
GP: Most of your playing is fingerstyle on this performance, even when you’re soloing on your Red Special on “Last Horizon.” The sixpence seemed like it only made an appearance for the power chords. Why not solo with a sixpence?
I’ve discovered you can be so expressive with just the fingers that lately I’ve leaned more in that direction. I’ve always done that, though. In the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video you can see that I’m playing with just my fingers in the middle. Those little expressive parts have become more and more important to me. I’m not competing with a drummer and a bass player and a whole band, so I don’t need to hit it hard. So fingers work best in many situations now. I didn’t really realize it myself until recently, but I probably didn’t use the sixpence at all. I probably held it, but I don’t know if I used it.
GP: What was the Brian May guitar with the metallic finish that you played on “Nothing Really Has Changed”?
It’s more than a metallic finish, it’s made out of steel plates. I was just amazed when I first saw it. To be honest I thought, “That’s a nice looking instrument. I’ll put it on the wall.” I didn’t realize it would be a very serious instrument to play until I took it to Africa and played it through a tiny little amplifier in the jungle. I found it had this extraordinary, mournful sound, so now I use it a lot. It’s a beautiful guitar.
GP: For the performance on the DVD, did you use your normal rig - the AC30 with the Treble Booster?
No. I don’t have any AC30s or any of that stuff. It’s all either straight into the P.A. or into a tiny little Deacy amp. That’s all I use. I’ll tell you what, I do miss the AC30s. The hardest thing is to get that intermediate between full on and off - the delicacy. I notice it really painfully at the end of “No One But You.” It’s really difficult to get that delicacy in there. So I might have to use something else. I don’t know.
GP: That’s actually quite astounding that you’re getting that tone—your tone—without your full rig.
I remember playing with Hank Marvin, my hero from the Shadows days. He picked up my guitar, and what did he sound like? He sounded like Hank Marvin! So that tells me it’s all in the fingers.
**Wed 02 Jul 14**
PRESS RELEASE: NOT GUILTY - BOVINE TB EPIDEMIC CAUSED BY CATTLE, NOT BADGERS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Groundbreaking new research shows how infected cattle missed by testing are key spreaders of the disease
New ground-breaking research by the University of Warwick into the spread of bovine TB (bTB) has confirmed claims by wildlife organisations like the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild that the disease is being spread by infected cattle – not badgers.
The paper, “A dynamic model of bovine tuberculosis spread and control in Great Britain”, demonstrated that the majority of herd outbreaks are caused by multiple transmission routes - including failed cattle infection tests, cattle movement and reinfection from environmental reservoirs. But the model proposes that ‘whilst badgers form part of the environmental reservoir they only play a relatively minor role in the transmission of infection’.
Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: "The research backs up what we have been saying all along and should be the final nail in the coffin of the disastrous badger cull policy.
“The government and the farming industry have focussed far too much on badgers and nowhere near enough on the gaping holes in cattle management policy, which have been letting this disease through. The best scientific evidence suggests that badgers are responsible for no more than six percent of new TB outbreaks, if that. This research confirms that the vast majority of new bTB outbreaks are due to poor TB testing, biosecurity and cattle control movements, so maybe farmers will now be convinced to give badgers a break and start focussing on methods that will actually work.
“We’re already seeing good results in places where improved and more frequent testing, combined with movement controls and better ‘biosecurity’ on farms, have been used – Northern Ireland, Wales, and even England in the last year have seen substantial reductions in the number of cattle slaughtered due to bTB, without any culling of badgers. The road forward is clearly being signposted by these figures – so we need the government to stop reversing up the cul de sac of badger culling and actually deal with the disease in an effective manner.”
Badger Trust and Care for the Wild acknowledge that bTB is having a terrible effect on farmers and their cattle, and that tough action is required to really beat the disease.
“One fact that simply isn’t being faced up to is that the skin test to identify cows infected with TB is not fit for purpose. It misses around one in five infected cows each time – which means that many TB infected cows remain in the herds, spreading the disease, or are transported to other farms or slaughterhouses without anyone knowing that they are infected.
“This new research understands that, which is why we must consider a policy of slaughtering whole herds if there is any trace of bTB within them. This method seems extreme but it could be the only way we can be sure infected cattle aren’t slipping through. And in the long-term, it could see the end of the disease. The method has been used successfully in several European countries, and in the UK between 1935 and 1960, and must be considered again, rather than focussing ineffectually on badgers.”
**Tue 01 Jul 14**
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Badger Trust has been granted permission by a judge for a Judicial Review challenge in the High Court against the DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Natural England. The test case focuses on the Government’s highly controversial badger cull policy.
The Judicial Review will argue that Owen Paterson and Natural England have failed to put in place any Independent Expert Panel for the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends such a Panel is needed to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation. Without this, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision to continue with further culls around the country.
The Badger Trust legal challenge has received strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) set up by the Government to monitor the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the badger culls carried out in 2013.
Commenting on the Judicial Review challenge, Ranald Munro, Chairman of the IEP said:
“The Independent Expert Panel’s report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the proposed 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP’s recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls.”
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild welcomed the judge’s decision to grant permission for the Judicial Review challenge saying:
"Owen Paterson has done all he can to prevent this Judicial Review case going to the High Court and he has failed. His refusal to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the next few months against the advice of the Independent Expert Panel he set up is a national disgrace.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent, whilst poorly trained NFU contract gunmen move through our countryside at night shooting badgers with rifles and shotguns without any independent monitoring or scrutiny. We know from last year’s culls that many badgers were wounded and suffered long painful deaths in a disastrous operation, which proved a complete and utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.
“I am very pleased to see that we have strong support from some members of the Independent Expert Panel and I look forward to joining Professor Tim Coulson in Parliament on Monday 7 July, when we will brief MP's from all parties on why we believe they should also give their support to the Badger Trust legal challenge.
“I also call again on the British Veterinary Association to show animal welfare and humaneness is their number one priority by supporting the Badger Trust in the High Court.”
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