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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

We all know that America is facing many health problems. One that remains high up on the list is obesity — in particular, child obesity. Parents are letting their children eat anything and everything that they choose, especially McDonalds Happy Meals.

A group of protesters have asked that Ronald McDonald retire from his position as the spokesperson for the fattening fast food chain. They claim that although he is a role model to children, he is teaching them to eat the things that will only increase American’s obesity instead of helping kids make healthy food choices.

According to WFMZ-TV, many protesters have issues with the fact that McDonald’s chooses to target 3 year olds in their ad campaigns. “Ronald is an insidious clown that preys on small children’s innate trust and wonder, all in the name of moving more Happy Meals,” one woman said. “No fast food character is better at making parents feel guilty for trying to say no to their kids’ incessant nagging. It’s time Ronald stopped exploiting our children and undermining parents’ best efforts to feed their kids right. He’s had a good run, but it’s time for him to go.”

As a response, McDonald’s released the following statement: “Ronald McDonald is a beloved brand ambassador for McDonald’s…Ronald also helps deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety, literacy, and the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices.”

Here is what a group of students from the University of Vermont have to say:

What do you think about the current obesity issues in our country? Should Ronald McDonald be forced to retire?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Remember the band OK Go? Remember their odd, but awesome video for the song ‘Here It Goes Again,’ which featured the band members hopping and jumping and dancing around on treadmills? (If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.) In their latest video, they have truly outdone themselves.

The video for the song ‘This Too Shall Pass’ is much like having breakfast at Pee Wee Herman’s house. I could only describe it as a work of chain reaction genuis.  

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this band’s music, but their creativity when it comes to music videos is hard for many artists to compete with. Instead of flashy jewelry, girls dressed in next to nothing, and benjamins in their hands, they pick one idea and take it in one shot.

That’s the amazing thing about this latest video — that it was all done in one take. (The same can be said for the treadmill dance.) It all starts with a simple domino shuffle, then goes through an entire warehouse, working through a number of obstacles. I’d have to say one of the best parts is the guitar hitting the glasses filled with water to match up with notes in the song.

Ok, enough of me yabbering on about it. See it for yourself:

During the five days that the video has been posted on youtube, it’s received over four million hits. I’d say this band has a lot to live up to for its next project.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

You’ve all heard of the Grateful Dead. If you haven’t, please stop reading this. This post is meant for the Deadheads among us.

Last night, Furthur, a new kind of Dead cover band, performed a stellar show at the Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. I say ‘new kind of Dead cover band’ because well, they’re not really a full cover band. You see, the new group is comprised of two original members of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The other members of the band include Dark Star Orchestra front man John Kadlecik as the voice and guitar of Jerry, Jeff Chimenti, Jay Lane, and Joe Russo.

Photo by Kate Langenburg

The arena was a good size, but not too big. Fans packed themselves onto the floor, in the upper decks, and sides of the venue, but left enough room between each other for dancing, of course. The vibe among the fans was a very positive one. Even the fact that the arena served no alcohol didn’t dampen the spirits of the Furthur fans. (See, you don’t need alcohol to have fun, kids.)

The band ripped off one Dead song after another, leaving room for improvisation and long spirited jams. Accompanied by a trippy light show, the music swirled around the venue, bringing fans of all ages together as one.

I have to stop right here and just mention that they played the ULTIMATE Dead song — Terrapin Station. Seeing the orignial members of the Dead play this song together is really something special. You can feel the bond between the musicians and hear the effects they create. I’ve seen both of these musicians play this song individually, but this was by far the best live version I have heard. People were dancing with arms held high in the air as they sang every single word to the much loved song.

Here’s the complete set list from the show:

Set 1: Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)>Gloria>Good Morning Little Schoolgirl>Ramble On Rose>Magnolia Mountain>Black Peter>Passenger>Next Time You See Me

Set 2: Bertha>Row Jimmy>Reuben and Cherise>No More I Do>Eyes of the World>Terrapin Station>The Wheel>Touch of Grey>Donor Rap

Encore: Brokedown Palace

Here’s a snippet from last night’s Eyes of the World. Check out the awesome piano jam:

I must say that John Kadlecik fits in quite nicely with the original Dead members. His voice is eerily like Jerry’s, but in a good way. I heard a few fans in the crowd commenting on how much they thought he sounded like the original frontman.

Good news for all you Furthur fans — the band has just announced that they will be playing the 14th annual All Good Festival in West Virginia. If you’re a jam band lover, this festival is for you.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

On Friday, NBC permiered a recreation of the infamous ‘We Are the World’ video during the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics. The new version of the 1985 performance showcased some 85 artists, all singing for charity because of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

The video is interspersed with actual footage from Haiti and footage of the artists recording the song. I think the footage from Haiti is perhaps the most touching aspect of this whole project. It shows children and their parents coming together, shots from the wreckage, and a positive vibe coming from the people of the affected area.

Some of the arists participating in this musical statement are Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean, Usher, Kanye West, Pink, and even Jeff Bridges. Michael Jackson, who participated in the original ‘We Are the World’ performance, was also thrown into the mix, with clips of him singing and sister Janet Jackson singing along to his part.

Check out the video:

Despite all the positive messages it is sending, there has been much controversy surrounding this performance. Many fans argue that a recreation should not have been necessary and that there is no way to top the original video. Either way, it is a very stunning, touching tribute that has meant a lot to the victims of the Haiti earthquake and their families.

The only negative thing I can say is…why the rap in the middle? It kind of ruins the vibe a little. Don’t get me wrong, Snoop Dogg has every right to participate in this, but it sort of cheapens the performance.

Your thoughts?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton have nothing on the subjects of my latest post. As a piece of art, the results also seem to stand on their own.

French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot has created a video of 40 wild finches playing a les paul guitar. The intense musical performance was created by placing guitars and various other instruments in the middle of an aviary, then recording the results.

The video will be premiering on February 27 in London’s Barbican art gallery and the exhibit will run until May 23. Take a peek:

Many people have compared Boursier-Mougenot’s work to that of the famous artist Marcel Duchamp, who introduced strange elements to each other to see how they would come together. His art pieces also had much to do with chance as a factor for their creation.

It might be interesting to check out some more work from this artist. Most things that I’ve seen from him seem to be more installations than anything else. Check out a display of his works here.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s finally happened to me after all these years. That’s right, I finally went to my very first Phish show ever! Let’s just say this — I went on Tuesday night. It is now Friday and I can’t stop daydreaming about it, listening to my live Phish albums, and wanting to go back for more. This band has had a lot of time to perfect their shows…and they certainly have.

After releasing their first album in 1986 and touring for nearly twenty years, the band went on a haitus, a break that was much needed for certain members who had started overdoing the drugs (I won’t mention names here.) Nonetheless, that time gave them all a time out and a chance to think about what they wanted for the future of their music. Now they’re back, armed with a slick light show and some seriously funky beats.

Photo by Kate Langenburg

The crowd in the Wachovia Center Tuesday night was ridiulously large. I never knew venues of that size existed until now. (I also never would have guessed I would end up with a club box seat complete with my own private bar, bathroom, and sitting area.) Everyone in the entire place seemed to be grooving simultaneously, with smiles and good vibes permeating the walls of the arena.

Here’s the setlist from the November 24 Philadelphia show:  

Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture>Bathtub Gin>Cities>Camel Walk>The Curtain With>The Wedge>The Moma Dance>Reba>Golgi Apparatus>Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

Set 2: Possum>Down With Disease>Twenty Years Later>Harry Hood>The Mango Song>Mike’s Song>Simple>Slave to the Traffic Light>Weekapaug Groove

Encore: A Day in the Life

From the very first note of Chalkdust, I knew I was in for something great. When they went into a real funky Moma Dance, I was in heaven. Everyone was singing along with Reba one minute then, jamming out to Possum, then going into a free fall whirlwind of musical pleasure when they heard A Day in the Life.

Phish’s sound has certainly gotten stronger over the years, and I don’t see this band disappearing any time soon. They are loved by too many fans, have too much talent, and have the drive to keep on keepin’ on. I don’t even know which song was my favorite…they were all wonderful, amazing, beautiful, great. Check out my videos from the show by clicking on the song names below:

The Moma Dance

Simple

Weekapaug Groove

A Day in the Life (Encore)

If anyone I work with happens to read this post, I’m sorry, but I just might have to quit my job and go on tour with Phish. 🙂

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