Plummer joins 'Sound of Music' get-together on 'Oprah'

The complete cast of the 1965 Oscar-winning film reunited on the Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time in 45 years. The show also featured show by the real Von Trapp great-grandchildren.
Nicholas Hammond, who played the eldest boy Friedrich in the movie, said the "kids" are still close and are at present working on a new project together.

"We realised that we have got this riches trove of memorabilia that we have kept (from the shooting of the movie) our home movies and photos and all of the matter and we are doing a book, the seven kids, and answering all the questions that everybody has asked," Hammond said. "We thought now was our chance to kind of give that back to all the magnificent fans around the world." The book is expected to be out next year.

The actors recall about filming the movie and shared private anecdotes during the one-hour show with Winfrey. Noting that the movie "made my career," Andrews, 75, said, "It was that big a movie, and we had no idea really at the beginning that it was going to be that huge." Andrews was 28 and a new mom when she headed to Austria to shoot for her role as the nun-turned-governess 'Fraulein Maria.' Andrews also spoke of her throat surgery in 1997, an operation that left her renowned voice permanently damaged.

"It was not a successful operation, and tissue was removed. I didn't have cancer, I didn't have nodules, I didn't have anything. So, sadly, I had to work to deal with the loss of a voice because it just didn't come back." Plummer, who played the strict widower Captain Von Trapp, admitted having "fallen in love" with Andrews after seeing her on Broadway in 'My Fair Lady' a few years before.

Plummer said he was not thrilled with the role of Captain Von Trapp at first. "I wanted to do a musical, and that was what paying attention it to me. But the part as written was not accurately Hamlet... There was not enough humour in it." 'The Sound of Music', which captured the real life Von Trapp family's escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, won five Oscars counting for Best Picture. Songs from the movie like 'My Favorite Things,' 'Climb Every Mountain' and '16 going on 17' are one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.

A remastered 45th anniversary DVD and Blu-ray set, counting sing-alongs, a map of filming locations, quizzes and a full length documentary, goes on sale on November 2.

U2 album coming 'Faster Than Anybody Thinks'

U2's manager Paul McGuiness divulge details of a new album which will be released faster than anybody thinks'. McGuiness has said about the band's progress on their new album, which is allegedly to be titled Songs Of Ascent. He is expecting a new U2 album faster than anybody thinks. I would guess early 2011 before the next leg of the American tour which initiates in May'.

This would be an unbelievably quick turnaround, since their 2009 album No Line on The Horizon was released four years after How To Dismantle And Atomic Bomb. The band have been freshening new tracks on tour, including songs called 'Boys Fall From The Sky', Mercy', 'Every Breaking Wave', 'Glastonbury', 'North Star' and 'Return Of The Stingray Guitar'.

With a song called 'Glastonbury', and the truth that the band had to cancel their hole last year due to Bono's back injury, they're expected to be added to the next bill for the legendary festival. In the meantime, the band is on tour heavily, playing in Australia with Jay-Z in late-November and December.

Merritt Mountain Music Festival

The Merritt Mountain Music Festival has a new lease on life. After a year in hiatus, the event will return and run from July 7-10, 2011, Claude Lelievre, general manager of Active Mountain Entertainment and a festival cofounder, announced Wednesday. The artist roster will be announced in November.

High demand by the general public was a key factor in the company's decision to carry on. "It's amazing," Lelievre said. "The phone calls and e-mails have been overwhelming." After 17 years of producing the B.C. Interior's largest entertainment event -- attracting as many as 140,000 festival visits one year family owned Active Mountain folded its tent after the 2009 festival, citing financial burdens despite a top draw in headliner Kenny Chesney.

The event was scaled back in 2009. Lelievre said then the festival would be back, but when his invitation to bring aboard new financial partners didn't have the desired effect, hope for a revival began to flag.

Some of Active Mountain's larger creditors have come aboard as partners. Tickets go on sale Nov. 15, with reduced prices for admission and camping, according to a press release.

American Music Awards Nominees Announced

Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead the nominations for the 2010 American Music Awards, with five nods each. Justin Bieber is the next-most nominated act, with four nods.

This year's AMAs will be handed out during ceremony ventilation live on ABC November 21. So far, acts who'll be performing on the show include Usher, Pink and Bon Jovi. More musicians and presenters will be announced later. You can vote now for your favorites to win at

Before the show, a live red carpet digital pre-show will air on Ustream.TV and It will be hosted by Lance Bass, American Idol season eight finalist Danny Gokey, iCarly star Jeannette McCurdy and reality star Whitney Port.

Taio Cruz announced the nominees Tuesday in Los Angeles with Demi Lovato. He also received a nomination for the breakthrough artist award. Afterward, he said, "It's just amazing to...first of all, for my singles to have done as well as they've done so far. And just to be recognized and nominated for an award is also amazing."

Armless Pianist Liu Wei Wows & Wins On 'China's Got Talent'

A splendidly brave 23-year-old "China's Got Talent" contestant who at age 10 lost both of his arms in a freak electrocution accident, but still decided to chase his dream of becoming a concert pianist even after one piano teacher told him he would never, ever succeed. And now, Liu has succeeded, all right. When he auditioned for "China's Got Talent" in August with a perfect performance of French pianist Richard Clayderman's "Mariage D'amour" played entirely with his toes, he became not just a Chinese but an international hero, a role model for anyone struggling to fight unbelievable odds.

And this past weekend, Liu won the complete competition with a tear-jerking and inspiring performance of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" complete with English-language singing in front of a capacity audience at Shanghai Stadium.

When Liu first auditioned, he delivered a courageous and serious speech, declaring: "For people like me, there were only two options. One was to abandon all dreams, which would lead to a quick, hopeless death. The other was to struggle without arms to live an outstanding life." But on Sunday when he accepted his "CGT" prize, he revealed a lighter side of his personality, telling the judges, "At least I have a pair of perfect legs!"

Congratulations to Liu. Heartening stories of overcoming adversity are nothing new on "Got Talent" and other reality shows, but his is a true sob story with a truly happy ending.

Apple changes tune on music downloads

APPLE is allegedly talking with the major record labels about a subscription music service that would give customers unlimited access to songs for a monthly fee. Apple iTunes boss Eddy Cue was on the phone with music executives recently trying to build out how the partners can move forward, the New York Post reports.

One source said the service could have tiered pricing ranging from $10 to $15, although there are matters to be ironed out, including how much music would be included in each tier and how long consumers would be able to access that content. One top music executive said the labels are supportive of the idea and believe it could re-energize digital music sales.

While album downloads have been on the rise, single track sales were flat in the first half of 2010 compared to the last year. Speculation that Apple would initiate a subscription service has been kicking around for years but the news that music service Spotify will be part of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 release on October 11 revived industry chatter.

Spotify is a European music service that has yet to broadcast in the US. The company's faltering block has been its free ad-supported streaming music business model, as the record labels prefer a paid subscription model. It is supposed that there would be some demands for an Apple subscription service, but it wouldn't be universal.

Folk music award nominations out

Toronto klezmer folk band Beyond the Pale has scored a most important four nominations for Canadian Folk Music Awards. The CFMA nominations announced Wednesday also included multiple nods for Newfoundland singer Amelia Curran and band The Once, musical storyteller Lennie Gallant and Toronto's Justin Rutledge.

Beyond the Pale, a group of six musicians who have been playing together for 10 years, mixes Klezmer, Balkan and Romanian styles with an eclectic range of music, counting interpretations of classical works by Mozart. Previous winners of best instrumental group at the CFMAs, the group is again being known for that award. It also has nods for world group, collection of the year and the award called "pushing the boundaries" which recognize innovation for its album Postcards.

Beyond the Pale is competing for best ensemble with three traditional francophone groups Le Vent Du Nord , Les Tireux d'Roches and Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs and with Vancouver gospel singers The Sojourners. St. John's-born, Halifax-based singer-songwriter Curran has three nominations, including best solo singer, best contemporary album and best songwriter for Hunter, Hunter. She won a Juno award earlier this year.

A new band from Newfoundland and Labrador, The Once, plays arrangements of Newfoundland and British Isles folk music on their debut self-titled album. They've been nominated for best traditional and vocal group, as well as getting a nod as emerging artists. Le Vent Du Nord have three nominations for Le Part de Feu, including best world artist.

Roots artist Rutledge also scored in the contemporary, solo and songwriter categories with his album The Early Widows. Collaborator Hawksley Workman earned a best producer nomination for his work on the album. The awards to celebrate the best of Canadian folk music will be handed out Nov. 20 at Pantages Playhouse Theatre in Winnipeg. CBC Radio on-air personality Shelagh Rogers and Juno Award-winning veteran entertainer Benoit Bourque will host the gala with performances by David Essig, Madagascar Slim, The Once and Don Ross.

Prince Charles dances to the songs of folk music

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles went to the historic city Jodhpur in India on Tuesday on a day's visit during which he even danced with folk artistes. Although it was a hectic but it was a fascinating visit for both of them.

After spending almost one full day meeting army officials, visiting erstwhile royals of Jodhpur and spending time in a village to watch a water harvesting and conservation project, the British royals’ wing back to London from Rajasthan at 8.20 p.m., official.

Earlier in the day, the visiting couple was accorded a royal welcome by the erstwhile rulers of Jodhpur when they arrived at the Umaid Bhawan Palace.
Gaj Singh, erstwhile ruler of Jodhpur, his wife Hemlata Raje and his daughter Shivranjani welcomed the prince and his wife in a customary manner.

He was garlanded in the middle of traditional welcome songs and dances by folk artistes said sources close to the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur.

U.S. Supreme Court declines plea of ban on religious music at N.J. schools

“Silent Night" and other religious songs will remain off the program at holiday concerts in South Orange-Maplewood schools after the U.S. Supreme Court declined today to take up a plea of the district’s ban on celebratory religious music.

The nation’s highest court ended a case that dates back to 2004, by deciding not to hear the petition brought by Michael Stratechuk, a parent who sued over the policy that bars presentation of religious songs.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban last year, and Stratechuk tried to take the case to the higher court.

Stratechuk, a musician whose two sons were in seventh and ninth grades when he brought the case, could not be attained for comment.

In a statement, school Superintendent Brian Osborne said the policy "was adopted to endorse an inclusive environment for all students in our school community. We have always felt our policy was constitutional and are pleased with the outcome."

In the 1990s, South Orange-Maplewood adopted a policy banning the use of religious songs in school performances. But the district enthused controversy in 2004 when a memo was issued to elucidate the policy, extending it to vocal and instrumental performances.

The policy came under fire from traditional groups and drew protests in South Orange and Maplewood. Opponents organized an "illegal" night of Christmas carols, Hannukah songs and other musical pieces in December 2004, according to Muise’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The policy roofed religious songs of all faiths.

The case was brought under the Establishment Clause of the First modification, which requires the government to be neutral toward religion.

The whole idea of variety and lenience, you learn those traits by understanding other people’s traditions and religious traditions.

The South Orange-Maplewood policy, which says its goal is to "foster mutual understanding and respect for the right of all individuals regarding their beliefs," permits religious music to be taught in the curriculum. But the music cannot be used to celebrate religious concepts, events or holidays.

By banning it from performance, the district essentially kept religious songs out of the program. Teachers tend to have students learn in class what they’re going to perform.

Despite the district’s stated policy, prior to 2004 some holiday concerts did contain Christmas music. In 2003, for example, according to the petition, one holiday concert included "Joy to the World," "O Come all Ye Faithful," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Silent Night."

The policy also prohibits any printed programs for any Holiday concert to have any graphics which refer to the holidays, such as Christmas trees and dreidels.

Bluegrass music awards

The International Bluegrass Music Awards were held last night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee by the International Bluegrass Music Association. This is an annual event and was the 21st anniversary of the association's awards show. Dailey & Vincent garnered the big award, Entertainer of the Year as a repeat of last year's award. The duo also won the Vocal Group of the Year award. Long time bluegrass music artists Claire Lynch took home best female vocalist and Russell Moore of Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out took the male vocalist awards.

This year's awards held some surprised and also some repeat award winners. The treasured Entertainer of the Year award was again taken home by Dailey & Vincent who also won last year's trophy. New names to the awards roster included both the female and the male vocalists of the year. Claire Lynch and Russell Moore won their respective titles. Claire Lynch also won the award in 1997 and Russell Moore has won his title in 1994 and 1997.

The Emerging Artist of the Year is a favorite of many bluegrass music fans and this year the competition was tight. The Josh Williams Band won the title. Josh Williams 'Down Home' was his debut solo release this year and is an awesome album. Others up for the award included Balsam Range, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, and Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice.

The bluegrass industry's highest honors of the year go to the new members of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. This year's inductees are singer/songwriter, banjo and fiddle stylist John Hartford and the pioneering business manager of Flatt & Scruggs, The Earl Scruggs Revue and Earl Scruggs Family & Friends, Louise Scruggs. Hartford passed away in 2001, and we lost Mrs. Scruggs in 2006.

IBMA's Distinguished Achievement Award is an honor which recognizes individuals, groups and businesses for ground-breaking work and fostering the music's image and accessibility. This year's recipients are bluegrass fiddler, songwriter and mentor Benjamin F. "Tex" Logan; long-time radio broadcaster and emcee from Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Sherry Boyd; singer, multi-instrumentalist and band leader Lynn Morris; Bear Family Records' Richard Weize of Germany, and Pete "Dr. Banjo" Wernick, who served 15 years as IBMA's president, along with playing banjo in the legendary band Hot Rize and leading scores of instructional camps and workshops around the world.