Am I Blues? (Not So Much Anymore)

America’s national chain of House of Blues music clubs has been booking fewer actual blues acts these days in its clubs. Last month at the Boston HOB, “of the 29 acts that headlined the Cambridge House of Blues, only four are artists that make their living moanin’ the blues.” That’s a far cry from a decade ago. So is blues dying as a popular artform?

French Strikers Shut Down Avignon Fest/Nicholson Movie Shoot

Striking French arts workers shut down shooting on a Jack Nicholson movie in Paris (after meeting with strikers, Nicholson expressed his solidarity) and closed the Avignon Festival for a second day. “At the Avignon festival in southern France, organizers said the remainder of the three-week event – which draws 700,000 people a year for round-the-clock theater performances – will be decided each day the strike continues. They say they stand to lose $3.7 million in ticket sales alone if the event is called off.”

Did British Culture Really Win The Lottery?

Britain’s lottery has funded dozens of major arts projects, and its supporters celebrate its remaking of the country’s cultural scene in the past decade. But the lottery’s success is rather more mixed than that, writes Norman Lebrecht. “Those lottery schemes which have indeed ‘made Britain a better place’ are the ones which would have happened anyway, but where a modest application of lottery lubricant facilitated a triumphant resurgence.”

Internet Radio Group To File Suit Against Recording Association

Small Internet radio stations are planning to file an antitrust suit against the Recording Industry Association of America, accusing them of using high royalty rates as a way to force websasters out of business. The internet group claims that “the existing royalty rates structure would force as many as 90 percent of small commercial Internet radio stations to close if left unchanged.”

Nailing Down Mother Teresa’s Copyright

Nuns of Mother’s Teresa’s order are trying to file a copyright on use of her name and insignia. “In her lifetime, Mother Teresa expressed on a number of occasions her wish that her name not be used by any other individual or organisation without her permission, or after her death, the permission of her successor, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity.”

Eye-In-The-Sky Archaeology

Scientists say that they have shown with tests that satellite imaging can show buried archaelogical sites from space. “Images from US space shuttle missions in the 1980s appeared to show ancient river drainage patterns beneath the Sahara desert. Satellites have revealed ancient river beds beneath the Sahara. Subsequent imaging turned up ring structures beneath the ice of Antarctica. But until now no-one has been entirely sure that these images definitely showed real objects.”

HipHop In The OED?

Editors of the venerable Oxford English Dictionary are considering the world of hiphop, and deciding which of the slang ought to make it in the new edition. “An unprecedented revision is underway that, finally, authoritatively, is expected to nail down those vexing questions of lexicology. To wit: What is the etymology of ‘bling-bling’? The editors are drafting a possible entry for the hip-hop slang, which usually refers to diamonds or other flashy jewelry that clinks together.”

Stalling Out On DC’s African-American Museum

Seventy-seven years ago Congress authorized the creation of a new African American Museum in Washington DC. More recently the project has seemed to gain momentum in Congress. But that momentum may be illusory. “The main concern is an age-old one—location, location, location. The commission would like to put a new building on the Washington Mall, near the Capitol. But the Senate bill ignores the commission’s existing recommendation, instead charging the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents with picking a spot. Perhaps more ominously, it grants the board 18 months to make a decision, a lifetime given the ever-changing balance of power in Congress. Meanwhile, the uncertainty puts a crimp in any fundraising plans.”

Making Headway In Pittsburgh

The financial crunch at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra may be easing a bit, with orchestra officials announcing that they have closed their budget gap for the fiscal year just concluded, and are having good success with new fundraising tactics designed to make donors feel more involved in the PSO’s season. “For donors of amounts under $250, we used to just give them a receipt for taxes. Now [we give] them thank-you cards and invitations to events and prints their names in programs or on its Web site. We are doing some very simple things better, and for a fund-raising program in transition, with a lot of staff turnover, it is a big success.”

Big Effort, Small Results in South Florida

When a small band of plucky choristers and musicians from the nearly-disintegrated Florida Philharmonic launched an independent effort to save their orchestra, they raised a million dollars in pledges in only a couple of weeks, and their apparent success was trumpeted across the region. But now, with a bankruptcy deadline fast approaching, the revitalization effort has seriously stalled, with an additional $1.5 million still needed to bail the organization out.