Pearl Jam cancel US tour after Jeff Ament tests positive for COVID-19

Pearl Jam have cancelled the remainder of their US tour after bassist Jeff Ament tested positive for COVID-19.

The band were due to play in Sacramento tonight (May 18) and Las Vegas on Friday (20), but both concerts have now been axed.

It comes after drummer Matt Cameron was diagnosed with the virus just last week, leaving the band to enlist stand-in drummers.The band were joined by a fan on drums at their Oakland show last Thursday (May 12), while an 18-year-old friend of Eddie Vedder’s daughter stepped up to the plate at the same venue on Saturday (May 14).

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Then founding drummer Dave Krusen performed with the band for the first time in 31 years, earlier this week.

In a statement on Twitter the band said: “Dear PJ fans and ticket holders, while the band battled through Oakland after drummer Matt Cameron tested positive for Covid, and Fresno where Ed and the band got through it with the help of Dave Krusen as special guest drummer, they now have to present the heartbreaking news that this morning bassist Jeff Ament has tested positive for COVID.

“This is horrible for everybody involved and we are especially sorry to those out there who have made plans to attend these shows. Our attention to staying inside the bubble has been constant. We have truly done all that we could have to remain clear of infection.

“Regretfully, the Sacramento and Las Vegas shows are canceled. Ticket refunds will be automatically processed to ticket holders’ method of purchase. We are so very sorry. Be safe out there.”

The band are due to hit the road for a European tour next month kicking off in Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome on June 13.

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Those dates will also include two shows at London’s Hyde Park on July 8-9 as part of the BST series. You can purchase tickets here.

Stereophonics and Cat Power are among the support acts that have been announced alongside Pixies at the Hyde Park shows this summer.

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Carl Barât issues appeal after his guitars are stolen ahead of Dirty Pretty Things rehearsals

Carl Barât has issued an appeal after two of his guitars were stolen ahead of a rehearsal with Dirty Pretty Things.

The Libertines man took to Twitter today (May 18) to share photos of the two instruments and ask fans to keep an eye out and “spread the word”. His appeal was also shared on The Libertines’ account.

“In the early hours of this morning, two of Carl’s most treasured guitars were stolen in the Homerton area of London, as Dirty Pretty Things rehearsals were about to commence,” a statement on his account reads.

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“These guitars hold an unfathomable amount of sentimental value so any news on their whereabouts would be greatly appreciated, the police have already been informed. Please spread the word and DM if you have any info.”

Dirty Pretty Things are due to perform a show at London’s Electric Ballroom next week to mark the 15th anniversary of their debut album ‘Waterloo To Anywhere’ (2006). The show was originally scheduled to go ahead on March 24, but was postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

All tickets purchased for the original dates remain valid, and you can purchase any remaining tickets here.

The Libertines, meanwhile, are due to play six dates over the summer to mark the 20th anniversary of their seminal debut studio album, ‘Up The Bracket’ (2002). Tickets for the shows are available here.

Back in January, Pete Doherty gave NME an update on The Libertines’ long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’. When he last spoke about the new material back in 2019, he said it had an eclectic mix of styles in the same vein as The Clash’s ‘Sandinista’.

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“That’s still the format that we’re talking about,” Doherty said of the record. “At the end of the tour we did that ended last month, everyone was really upbeat by the fact that we were all still alive after the various quarantines and [bassist] John [Hassle] coming and going. We were all really upbeat about the future, so I don’t know how or when it’s going to happen but I think it will.

“‘Sandinista’ still encapsulates it because there are still a lot of ideas. It’s just about getting everyone in a room and getting on with it.”

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Music promoters “shocked at the inability” of US government, have “no choice” but to sue over rejected COVID relief

Almost a year after the launch of their COVID-19 relief program for shuttered music venues, The US Small Business Administration is facing more than 60 lawsuits from business owners.

With litigation pending and venues still dealing with show cancellations, health risks, and revenue loss due to the ongoing pandemic, NME spoke to concert promoters, the SBA, and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) about issues with the program’s aid rollout.

The $16.25billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was signed into law in December of 2020 and applications for the funding opened in April of 2021. The funds were to be dispersed to independent venues, promoters, talent agencies, movie theatres and other cultural centres who could prove they lost 90 per cent of their revenue due to the pandemic.

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Venue owners who have taken their cases to court, however, said that although they met eligibility requirements their requests for aid were denied by the agency without explanation. In some cases, owners said their direct competitors were awarded grants when they weren’t – putting them at an unfair disadvantage.

“I continue to be shocked at the SBA’s inability to properly review a case file and make an expeditious decision,” Michael Savas, CEO of Superfan Live told NME. He says his concert and events promotions business which manages VIP experiences for acts like Genesis, Journey, and Bon Jovi, “spent over nine months waiting for a response from the SBA, only to be wrongfully denied with every appeal.”

As of now, Savas has been turned away by the agency three times. He decided to bring a lawsuit against the SBA and its administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in February of this year, claiming that their decision to deny his business funds was “unsupported by substantial evidence” according to court documents.

“My direct competitors, with the same exact business model, had been funded within six months while I have been hamstrung by the additional legal and accounting fees that I have had to outlay,” he told NME.

One of his competitors Organica Media Group LLC was awarded $2,800,000 in funding according to SBA’s grantee documentation, even though Savas says they operate on a much smaller scale than his business.

“Not only is the SBA not doing the job they were set out to do by the American taxpayer and Congress, they are now actively taking money out of small businesses who have no other choice but to take these issues to federal court,” he added.

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Tyrus Joseforsky, owner of concert and music festival promotions company, Flight Levelz Entertainment, told us that applying for SVOG funds “was really frustrating” because “it was delayed at a time of need for a lot of venues and promoters.” The portal to apply for funds initially crashed, and the disbursement of approved aid took three months.

At the time, Joseforky was “planning on the funds never coming,” telling NME that he thought counting on the Government equated to “setting yourself up for failure.”

He added: “We were ramping up and doing shows again. That was when those funds were supposed to come, and obviously, they didn’t. It got to the point where I wasn’t even expecting to get it.”

Live Audience
CREDIT: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

After the delay, however, Flight Levelz Entertainment was able to receive the requested funds, and unlike Superfan Live, they were able to “accelerate” their business, making 2021 their “best year ever.”

After going months without revenue, Joseforsky is grateful for the funding, claiming that “live music was headed for a very dark place, in general, and this grant really helped.”

“You see these spending bills and all the waste from the Government, and this is actually something that benefited entrepreneurs across the nation,” he said. “It benefited millions of people outside of just the venue owners, like the artists that are touring, the hotels, and the cities where these events happened.”

Joseforsky continued: “The list goes on and on for the benefits this program had to keep entertainment and live music alive. It was a good use of tax revenue, for people who really needed it in their time of need.”

Paramout venue in Seattle
CREDIT: Karen Ducey

Formed in April of 2022 as the start of COVID lockdowns, NIVA has represented independent venues, promoters, and festivals across the US. They also led the Save Our Stages campaign and lobbying efforts which resulted in the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant program becoming part of the 2020 COVID-19 national relief bill.

Two years after they started, they continue their efforts “to help ensure as many of these crucial community and cultural hubs and economic anchors not only survive but also thrive.”

When asked about the current litigation against the SBA, Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA’s communications director told NME that while they’re “immensely grateful for the emergency relief granted to venues that met the criteria of the SVOG program,” the association “does not take a stance on legal actions by individual venues.”

Although NIVA has continued to lobby the Government in support of independent venues, and led the campaign which led to the grant program, the SBA was tasked with administering the process, approval, and disbursement of SVOG funds.

When asked why certain requests for grants had been denied, the agency’s senior advisor for COVID programs Diedra Henry-Spires told NME: “We continue to be open and responsive, inviting over 5,000 applicants to appeal SVOG decline decisions and over 2,000 grant recipients to have their awards reconsidered while offering additional support and resources to current applicants and our nearly 13,000 SVOG grant recipients.”

The SBA also told us: “In line with Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman’s top priority to provide economic relief to every eligible small business still struggling from the pandemic and, to be as entrepreneurial as the customers we serve, the SBA has been creative and dedicated in providing our country’s small businesses, cultural institutions, venues, theatres and other entertainment operators every opportunity to receive funding and safely recover.”

Henry-Spires’ added: “Our commitment to helping small businesses get back on their feet, and continue creating jobs and remaining the cultural centres of our economy, has been the guiding light of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program.”

Earlier this month, the agency agreed to issue a new decision regarding Superfan Live’s request for funding by July 27 of this year. Despite the pending litigation, Savas told us he, “wholeheartedly believes the SBA is trying to do the right thing” but that the system set up to handle the grant program has “proven to be grossly ineffective.”

“Regardless of the difficulties I have had so far, I still have faith in the people and executives within the SBA,” he said. “I have no doubt that a minor clerical or admin issue has been the reason for my denial and can only hope that the SBA can empathize with business owners like me and simply pick up the phone, have a conversation, identify the misunderstanding, and resolve this issue.”

Meanwhile, NIVA told NME earlier this year that they were lobbying the US House Committee for additional funds to help independent venues dealing with, “inflation and worker shortages compounded by the fact that COVID is still ongoing.”

“There’s about $2billion left [in funding] and NIVA is advocating for more time [to use those funds],” Dayna Frank, president of the association said. “Because of the shutdowns, there were fewer concerts and fewer events to utilize the money. At the same time, venues in urban areas that were shut down completely, have use for more funds.”

The association also told NME at the time that they were working on a proposal to open the relief program to businesses that were deemed ineligible for the first round of funding. In April, a $55billion aid package for small businesses, which would update the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program to provide entertainment venues with more time and flexibility to use federal relief funds, passed the House.

It’s currently in the hands of The Senate.

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Watch Pearl Jam get fan to play drums after Matt Cameron tests positive for COVID-19

Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron pulled out of the band’s show in Oakland last night (May 12) after testing positive for COVID-19.

It was the first time in 24 years the sticksman has missed a show with the band.

As a result, touring member and former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer stepped in on drumming duties for a series of tracks including Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’, ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’, ‘Why Go’ and ‘Corduroy’.

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Longtime band collaborator Richard Stuverud also got behind the drums for ‘Quick Escape’ and ‘Superblood Wolfmoon’ before a fan stepped up for the show’s finale ‘Yellow Ledbetter’. You can view footage below.

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It comes just days after the band honoured Foo Fighters’ late drummer Taylor Hawkins during their LA concert at The Forum by performing 2005 song ‘Cold Day In The Sun’.

The original version of the track featured Hawkins on lead vocals and, for the Seattle band’s performance of it, Cameron took on singing duties.

Cameron and Hawkins previously worked together in the band Nighttime Boogie Association, releasing two songs together – ‘Long In The Tooth’ and ‘The Path We’re On’ – in 2020.

Last week, Pearl Jam took another moment to remember Hawkins as they kicked off their ‘Gigaton’ tour in San Diego. “[Hawkins] emitted something very incredible and very special,” Vedder told the crowd at that show. “We’re all missing him, and so, Matt, I’m sorry again for your loss. But it just gives us another chance to say how much we appreciate you as well.”

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Foo Fighters were booked to headline New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival before the drummer’s death, but cancelled all tour dates following his passing. Red Hot Chili Peppers stepped in to top the bill at the festival and paid tribute to Hawkins during the set.

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Watch Mark Lanegan’s final video with side project Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe

Mark Lanegan‘s final ever video prior to his death has been released.

‘Hiraeth’, from the late grunge icon and Joe Cardamone’s side project Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe, features the final filmed footage of the Screaming Trees frontman, with a collage of clips throughout his career.

The second half of the video shows Lanegan and Cardamone wandering the forests around Killarney, Ireland, where Lanegan moved to towards the end of his life.

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The pair filmed the video after his near-death experience from COVID-19. Lanegan died at the age of 57 in February.

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“When I made it over to Killarney to visit Mark post-COVID/coma, we only had a week to work on filming things and humble resources,” Cardamone told Spin of the video.

“We just got together every day and tried to make a go of it. A lot of the photos and filming while I was there with him doubled as sight seeing. This was a chance to spend time together and for Mark to show me his new hometown. He looked so genuinely happy there, more so than maybe I ever saw in Los Angeles. Surrounded by nature and peace. It’s a breathtaking corner of the world.”

He continued, “On the last day, we all decided to visit a side of the lake that Mark had yet to explore. We walked and talked through the woods for several hours and broke out the camera at the very end. I had always hoped to do some kind of visual for ‘Hiraeth’ but we we were almost out of time at this point and just hanging out took priority.”

Lanegan previously said that Dark Mark vs. Skeleton Joe was born out of his and Cardamone’s wishes to explore beyond the boundaries of the genres they’d previously dabbled in.

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“The fact that it’s not like anything either one of us have done before is what makes this so interesting for me,” Lanegan said last year. “When you have done as much stuff as Joe and I, you have to constantly search for the different and challenging to keep yourself engaged.”

They released their eponymous debut album last October.

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