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Radiohead just made their new album, In Rainbows, available for download exclusively through the band’s website ( The best part? You can pay as much or as little for it as you want. In other words, FREE, son! They’re not the first to do such a thing but it’s still a bold embrace of modernity, especially since the special disc-box version is going for about $80. That sound you hear is the music industry reeling.

Not the video game

Florida’s known for old people and sunshine, but did you know that we are also cultivating wicked shredders? Check this: Of the 10 finalists in Guitar Player magazine’s 2007 Guitar Hero competition, Florida represents 20 percent with Orlando’s Chris Peters and Jacksonville’s Tony Smotherman. Can’t make it to San Francisco to cheer ’em on? Then watch the final showdown via live webcast (, 8 p.m. PST Friday, Oct. 12.

The beat

Even more proof that there’s something guitar-friendly in our water was the Natalie & Alex Ivanov Band at Baldwin’s Pub Friday, Oct. 5. The act is a Slavic family affair anchored by mother (Loretta, keyboard/vocals) and father (Stoyan, vocals/guitar) but, as the band’s name indicates, the children are the focus. Backed by programmed beats and as wobbly as a man in high heels, they were like the rock & roll version of Mark and Lorna. But what they lacked in polish they more than made up for in spirit and charm. Despite the children’s nervous missteps, mom and dad constantly buttressed them with encouragement, so they get an A-plus for being such cool parents. Most important, the group reveled in the pleasure of playing together as a family and that warmth showed in their performance.

But let’s talk about the real attraction here: 12-year-old Alex. Once the kid shook off the nerves, he revealed the stuff wunderkinder are made of. Holy Eddie Van Halen, this cherub rocks with advanced technicality. Seriously, do a YouTube search for “Alex Ivanov” and you’ll understand what I saw. My only complaint is that he still thinks too much about what his fingers are doing. He needs to learn to feel the music more. Oh wait, he’s only 12! Give him some time – I’m thinkin’ a matter of months here – and he’s gonna rule. Look out, James Killgallon, you may still be in braces but there’s already an auspicious young pup nipping at your heels.

Monday, Oct. 1, was Jason Ferguson’s retirement-but-not-really blowout at the Social. (To clear up the questions, he has abdicated his title of OW’s music editor but he’ll still be a contributor.) The show enjoyed a good turnout, despite short notice. Nice to see such respect paid to one of the scene’s most valid tastemakers. And no, I don’t have to say anything nice about him … dude ain’t my boss no more.

Local twangster Matt Butcher was on the bill. Now that he’s away from the gang’s-all-here approach of the now defunct Heathens, his serious side has emerged. We’ll have to wait and see if it becomes suffocating or not. It won’t if his songwriting can back it up and, so far, he’s proven to have a solid talent in that regard. This set was a particularly nice one draped with plenty of country elegance, a style that’s quickly becoming his forte.

The night before, House of Blues was off da heezy when Q-Tip performed. With the inimitable voice that fueled cornerstone hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest, dude had the muhfuggin’ house jumpin’ in a hot-blooded performance that mashed up his solo work seamlessly with prime Tribe material. Keeping the set that much more real were live players on guitar, bass and keys alongside heavyweight turntablist DJ Scratch.

Headliner Common also kept it live with an excellent jazz drummer, two keyboardists and DJ Dummy. With a soulful message and a silken mien, this cat’s like the Marvin Gaye of hip-hop. Though the performance mostly rode a smooth vibe, the Fahrenheit kicked up during a dope freestyle session with Q-Tip and an even doper tag team between their DJs.

Howeverrr … there was a head-scratching moment in one of his many spoken-word passages. The moment in question was when he fired off a list of people who were “misunderstood”: Malcolm X, all right. Tupac Shakur, OK. Michael Vick … WTF?! Now, Common is known to be an outspoken Afro-centrist; nothin’ wrong with that. But calling someone, regardless of color, indicted for the unspeakably cruel act of dogfighting “misunderstood” is just bullshit.

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