Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2019

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Columnist Spencer Patterson: Singer Jem says appearance on ‘O.C.’ is OK

When Welsh singer-songwriter Jem received an offer to appear on May's Season 1 finale of Fox's hit series "The O.C.," she didn't know whether to be flattered or scared.

"When it came up, I laughed my head off. That was my first reaction," she said. "Then I was kind of thinking, 'Is this something I should be doing?' Not to sound ungrateful, but I don't want to always be thought of as the wedding singer from 'The O.C.' "

Jem ultimately agreed to play the part, covering Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" during the show's wedding sequence. And the 29-year-old sounds awfully glad she did.

"It was one of those perfect things that I know I was supposed to do," Jem (full name Jem Griffiths) said in a phone interview from an Atlanta hotel room Tuesday. "I hadn't realized how big the show was, because I was in the U.K. and it was totally behind (schedule) there."

Jem, whose music has also been included in two "Music From the O.C." compilations, has seen her profile grow since her appearance on the show.

Her debut album, March's "Finally Woken," continues to garner critical acclaim. And she is in the midst of her second U.S. headlining tour.

Jem makes her Las Vegas debut tonight at the House of Blues as one of three acts on the bill for "Shade Tree VI: Songs for the Shelter," a concert benefitting the Shade Tree shelter for homeless and abused women and children.

Hip-hop group Jurassic 5 headlines, with Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter Geoff Byrd scheduled to open. Former Babys and Bad English frontman John Waite hosts the event.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets prices range from $25 to $100.

Jem is familiar with Jurassic 5, having shared a stage with them at her first U.S. show around this time last year. One of Jurassic 5's two DJs, Cut Chemist, also remixed one of her songs, "They," for an EP earlier this year.

"I think people that come to see Jurassic 5 will like my beat-type things," said Jem, who often draws comparisons to Dido and Beth Orton. "When it's that kind of show I usually tend not to do so many slow songs. I like to keep it flowing."

Jem took a most unusual path to prominence, beginning her career in music as a promoter, agent and record- label founder and operator. Then one day in 1999 she decided the time had come to step out from behind the scenes.

"When I was at the record label, I started getting itchy feet," Jem said. "I'd talk to the artists every day and I thought, 'I want to be doing that.' So I just freaked everyone out by saying, 'OK, I quit. I'm gonna go be a singer.' "

She has no regrets.

"I definitely did the right thing," Jem said. "I don't know if that's destiny or what, but I always had this feeling when I sat down at the piano when I was young that I was going to do this as my career one day."

She just never imagined she would make such a memorable guest appearance on "The O.C."

"I'd never even thought about being on TV," she said. "But it was brilliant. I loved being the wedding singer. Though I think Adam Sandler probably did it better."

Music Notes

Gathering moss: Instead of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time," Rolling Stone magazine ought to have named its latest attempt at a definitive rock ranking "500 Songs You've Been Beaten Over the Head With All Your Life."

I mean, just because classic rock radio plays Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" and Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" on a nauseatingly frequent basis, are we actually supposed to accept that these are two of rock 'n' roll's all-time greats?

Is "We Will Rock You" really one of Queen's two best tunes? "Walk on the Wild Side" as the best Lou Reed track ever? And what is Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" doing anywhere near the Top 500? Don't even get me started on that one.

Certainly, there are lots of good tunes among the rankings. Kudos go out in particular to whoever voted for Pavement's "Summer Babe" and the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

But a more inspired list would have been one that actually made casual music fans scratch their heads about a fair number of choices, maybe 200 instead of 10. A few readers might have even picked up a good disc or two as a result.

Instead, Rolling Stone went for the obvious, loading up on the Beatles, Stones and Dylan and ignoring thousands of amazing but lesser-known songwriters.

Examining the so-called "blue-ribbon panel" of voters, I expected better. David Byrne, Lenny Kaye, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Tweedy and Maureen Tucker, for example, hardly seem the types to go for the mainstream.

Then again, considering the three members of girl group the Donnas included on the panel have the combined life experience of an aged potato, I guess the results of the "Greatest 500" aren't all that surprising after all.

Rumor mill: With the 2005 Coachella Music & Arts Festival still some five months away, an unconfirmed slate of possible acts has begun circulating on some respectable Web sites, including industry touring bible

The rumored lineup for Day 1, April 30: David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, PJ Harvey, Interpol, the Faint, Franz Ferdinand, the Polyphonic Spree, Boards of Canada, TV On the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Squarepusher, Clinic, the French Kicks, the Secret Machines, Phoenix, Beep Beep, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Death From Above 1979 and the Helio Sequence.

And for Day 2, May 1: R.E.M., Tears for Fears, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Jimmy Eat World, Mos Def, Badly Drawn Boy, the Streets, Cake, the Shins, Sleater-Kinney, Rilo Kiley, Radio 4, the Doves, Iron and Wine, the Arcade Fire and Moving Units.

Remember, it's possible none of that will happen, and that April 30 and May 1 won't even be the actual dates. But the suspicion here is that locals who make the four-hour trek to Indio, Calif., for the annual event will indeed see a fair number of those acts come next spring.

Green night: Poppy punk stalwarts Green Day play one of the week's few non-country shows at 8 p.m. Tuesday at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. Tickets are $43 and $75.

The trio, who made their mark during the 1990s with such hits as "Basket Case," "Longview" and "When I Come Around," returned with a new album, "American Idiot," in September.

On sale

Cher brings her "Never Can Say Goodbye Tour" to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Jan. 29. Tickets are $50.25-$125.25 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the MGM box office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 474-4000 and online at

The Hives play The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel on Jan. 15. Tickets are $18 and go on sale at noon Saturday at the Hard Rock box office and through TicketMaster.

Styx and former Santana and Journey member Greg Rollie team for a Jan. 16 show at the Aladdin's Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets are $25-$45 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Aladdin box office and through Ticketmaster.

G. Love & Special Sauce plays the House of Blues on Jan. 21. Tickets are $17-$22 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the House of Blues box office and through Ticketmaster.

A Flock of Seagulls land at the House of Blues on Feb. 4. Tickets are $20 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at the House of Blues box office and through Ticketmaster.

Juanes stops at the House of Blues on April 29. Tickets are $32-$45 and go on sale at 10 a.m. through the House of Blues box office and TicketMaster.

Soulfly and Morbid Angel pair for a Feb. 9 show at the House of Blues. Tickets are $25-$27 and are on sale now through the House of Blues box office and TicketMaster.