News Roundup: Bob Dylan, Jakob Dylan, Decemberists, Ben Kweller


Bob Dylan’s historic tour of Asia has been cut short after the Chinese Ministry of Culture denied him permission to play his scheduled April dates in Shanghai and Beijing. Interestingly, a certain swan dress wearing, Icelandic fairie queen might have been the cause. Taiwanese promoter Jeffrey Wu tells The Guardian that Chinese officials have clamped down on visiting artists since Björk, who performed in Shanghai in 2008, chanted ‘Tibet! Tibet!’ after singing “Declare Independence”. “What Björk did definitely made life very difficult for other performers. They are very wary of what will be said by performers on stage now.” Dylan has since cancelled his dates in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea; he’ll land in Athens, Greece on May 29 to launch a European tour.

Stream Bob’s son Jakob Dylan’s new solo album, Women and Country, featuring production from T Bone Burnett and guest appearances by Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, here. The album, due April 6, was spawned when Dylan was asked to contribute a song to Glenn Campbell’s upcoming studio album. Dylan, who at the time had no new material of his own, came up with “Nothing But the Whole Wide World,” which served as the template for the rest of the album.

“I hadn’t thought of that song as being something for myself to sing, but I was so embarrassed I didn’t have anything else, I said, ‘Well, I do have one.’ . . . I played it for [T Bone] and he was so enthusiastic. He said ‘That’s great — why don’t you write 10 more of those and we’ll make a record?’ That’s how it began, so thank you, Glen Campbell.”

The Decemberists have hooked up with a suitable mentor — R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. The band are working on their sixth studio album, the follow-up to 2009’s sprawling Hazards Of Love, and have enlisted Buck to guest on the album. “First official day of #6 practice,” band frontman Colin Meloy announced on Twitter. “Made Peter Buck play my fake-REM riffs and he didn’t seem perturbed. Nor litigious.”

Watch a new, Danny Clinch-shot video from Ben Kweller, playing his autobiographical song “It All Happened (Somewhere Near Mississippi)” as part Esquire Magazine’s Songwriter Challenge, here. Listen to an MP3 of Betty LaVette, who covers The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet closer “Salt Of The Earth,” here.