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The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) CEO David O’Reilly on Q2 2022 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE:HHC) Q2 2022 Results Conference Call August 4, 2022 10:00 AM ET

Company Participants

Eric Holcomb – SVP, IR

David O’Reilly – CEO

Jay Cross – President

Carlos Olea – CFO

David Striph – Head of Operations

Conference Call Participants

Alex Barron – Housing Research Center

Alexander Goldfarb – Piper Sandler

Anthony Paolone – JPMorgan

Hamed Khorsand – BWS Financial

John Kim – BMO

Peter Abramowitz – Jefferies

Operator

Hello, and welcome to the Howard Hughes Corporation Second Quarter Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note, today’s event is being recorded.

I now would like to turn the conference over to your host today, Eric Holcomb. Please go ahead, sir.

Eric Holcomb

Good morning, and welcome to the Howard Hughes Corporation Second Quarter 2022 Earnings Call. With me today are David O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer; Jay Cross, President; Carlos Olea, Chief Financial Officer; Dave Striph, Head of Operations; and Peter Riley, General Counsel.

Before we begin, I would like to direct you to our website, www.howardhughes.com, where you can download both our second quarter earnings press release and our supplemental package. The earnings release and supplemental package include reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures that will be discussed today in relation to their most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

Certain statements made today that are not in the present tense or that discuss the company’s expectations are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Although the company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that these expectations will be achieved. Please see the forward-looking statement disclaimer in our second quarter earnings press release and the risk factors in our SEC filings for factors that could cause material differences between forward-looking statements and actual results. We are not under any duty to update forward-looking statements unless required by law.

I will now turn the call over to our CEO, David O’Reilly.

David O’Reilly

Thank you, Eric. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our second quarter earnings call. Before we begin, I would like to quickly welcome Eric Holcomb, who recently joined HHC as our new Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Eric brings over 25 years of financial experience on the team, including many years in Investor Relations, and we’re happy to have him on board as a fully dedicated resource for the investor community. John Saxon, who previously headed up Investor Relations, has transitioned to his new role as Chief of Staff for the company.

To start off today’s call, I’ll provide a brief overview of our second quarter segment performance and highlight the results of our master planned communities in the Seaport. Dave Striph will cover the performance of our operating assets, followed by remarks from Jay Cross who will provide updates on our development projects in Ward Village. Finally, Carlos Olea will provide a review of our financial results before we open up the lines for Q&A.

Looking at the results of our quarter, each of our operating segments performed incredibly well despite a challenging economic backdrop. MPC land sales revenue rose 46%, operating asset NOI increased 15% and revenues at the Seaport increased 166%, all compared to the second quarter of 2021. At Ward Village, condo sales remained strong with 20 units sold in the quarter, in addition to the incredibly robust presales activity with 681 units contracted during the period, largely driven by Ulana following the launch of its presales campaign in March.

Our strong results, both this quarter and year-to-date, demonstrate the resiliency of our business model and our unique portfolio of assets, which have proven their ability to withstand periods of economic volatility like we’re experiencing today. Our success would not be possible without the immense effort and work that has gone into growing and strengthening our assets over many years.

Today, one way this effort is being recognized is with the recent lead precertification of our Houston MPCs, the Woodlands and Bridgeland by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a tremendous accomplishment as these communities are the first in Texas to achieve this prestigious status.

Further, the Woodlands is now the largest MPC in the world to earn this designation. Lead precertification recognizes the many initiatives implemented over the years, designed to promote a sustainable quality of life with extensive green space, diverse home products, highly acclaimed schools and extensive urban amenities. We’re extremely proud of this achievement and view it as an important driver of future growth as we develop sustainable communities that will attract new residents and tenants alike.

Now looking at our MPC segment. Revenue was up substantially in the second quarter, increasing 45% compared to the prior year. Land sales totaled $85 million or a 46% increase year-on-year, fueled by strong residential land sales, predominantly in Summerlin and Bridgeland. We also experienced continued growth in the average residential price per acre sold, increasing 25% since this time last year. Increasing home prices in our communities contributed to a sharp 62% increase in builder price participation revenue to $18 million.

While MPC revenue was significantly higher during the quarter, segment EBT of $71 million was up only 2% compared to the second quarter of 2021. This was primarily due to a $22 million reduction in earnings from Phase 1 of the summit, our 555-acre ultra-luxury community in Summerlin, which is nearing completion.

During the quarter, the Summit did not close on any custom lots or units as inventory remains limited. This is in comparison to the 16 unit sales that we saw in the year prior. However, I am pleased to announce that subsequent to quarter end, we reached an agreement with our joint venture partner, Discovery Land, to launch Phase 2 of the Summit. As part of this expansion, we contributed 54 acres of land, which will be used to sell an additional 27 custom home sites in this truly unique luxury community.

Looking at Summerlin in more detail. We sold 2 residential superpad sites during the quarter, representing 48 acres for an implied price per acre of $1.1 million, a 33% increase from the prior year. Summerlin also saw a 38% increase in builder price participation revenue during the quarter as home values continued to escalate higher. In Houston, where available lot inventory remains at all-time lows, both Bridgeland and the Woodland Hills posted strong results, generating the second highest quarterly revenue in EBT in their histories. In Bridgeland, land sales increased 136% compared to the prior year, fueled by a 78% increase in residential acres sold, as well as a 35% increase in price per acre at $576,000.

As a result of these impressive results, Bridgeland’s EBT increased by a staggering 79% versus the second quarter of ’21.

In the Woodland Hills, second quarter EBT was 66% higher compared to the prior year. This robust growth was driven by continued strong residential land sales, fueled by a 10% increase in the residential price per acre and our first commercial land sale for the site’s community’s first Church.

Finally, taking a look at Douglas Ranch in Phoenix West Valley, we’re working diligently in Trillium, the MPC’s first 3,000-acre village to install the infrastructure needed to contract the first 1,000 lots to homebuilders during the second half of the year.

During the second quarter, JDM Partners exercised its first option on Douglas Ranch, repurchasing a 9% ownership interest for $50 million. They also paid Howard Hughes a $10 million nonrefundable deposit to secure a second option to require up to an additional 41% or a total of 50%, which will expire on August 18. Overall, we’re very pleased with the strong results that we’ve seen in our MPCs thus far in 2022. While homebuilders are experiencing a decline in the number of new homes, overall demand for housing, particularly Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix, remains healthy and still outweighs the available supply of new homes.

In the quarter, new home sales in our MPCs declined to 435 homes or a 37% reduction when compared to last year. Although these sales results are down from the abnormally high levels experienced over the past 2 years, home sales remained solid and are comparable to pre-COVID levels. The drop in home sales during the second quarter is largely related to 3 factors. First, and the primary reason, is rising mortgage rates and inflation are absolutely impacting home affordability for the average homebuyer. The second is that we are starting to see seasonality come back into view. Summer months are typically slower from a home sales perspective and tend to ramp up in the fourth quarter and first quarter. But we did not see that seasonality in 2020 or in 2021 as demand for housing surged to all-time highs.

The third factor is supply related. While improving, builders are still struggling to complete new homes due to the continued supply chain disruptions, putting pressure on their ability to deliver new homes quickly. With these in mind, we continue to believe that the outlook for future land sales in our MPCs remain positive. People continue to be attracted to our highly desirable communities, which offer an unmatched quality of life and an opportunity to live, work and play, all in one cohesive setting. These prospective buyers, which are often moving from higher cost states, tend to have strong purchasing power, which allow them to better withstand rising mortgage rates and inflationary constraints. This contributes to continued elevated demand for housing and is one of the primary reasons homebuilders continue to purchase additional lots in our MPCs at appreciating prices despite the market turmoil that exists today.

Overall, the outlook that we have for our MPCs remains strong. And as we look forward into the remainder of the year, we expect this momentum to continue. As a result, we are leaving our full year MPC guidance intact for 2022.

Shifting over to the Seaport. We had a tremendous quarter with a significant increase in foot traffic throughout this historic neighborhood. The Rooftop at Pier 17 recorded the highest number of visitors during the second quarter period in 3 years, attending over 210,000 guests, an increase of 85% over last year for various events in our summer concert series, which is on pace to have its most successful year yet.

We also hosted several private events, including a takeover of the Rooftop for Ape Fest, hosting over 12,000 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT owners for a 4-day activation, headlined by several A-List performers, including Snoop Dogg and Eminem, which generated $1.8 million of revenue for the Seaport.

This foot traffic spilled over into our restaurants and retail operations, further boosting the quarter’s results as we continue to establish the Seaport as a premier, most exciting entertainment and dining venue in New York City.

Overall, the Seaport’s revenue increased to $27 million, a 166% increase over the same period last year, improving the net operating loss to $3.7 million for the quarter.

And finally, we signed a 15-year lease with Alexander Wang to transform 46,000 square feet at the Fulton Market Building, including 5,000 square feet of outdoor space into the iconic fashion brands new global headquarters in showroom. With this lease, the Fulton Market building is now 100% leased.

Now with that, I’m going to turn the call over to Dave Striph, our Head of Operations, to review the operating asset segment’s results.

David Striph

Thank you, David. In the second quarter, the strong momentum that has been building in our operating asset segment continued with the delivery of $66 million in net operating income. This reflected a 15% increase over the same period last year and an 18% increase on a same-store basis. The year-over-year improvement was achieved despite reduced NOI from noncore assets, including the 3 Woodlands-based hotels and the Riverwalk outlet in New Orleans which have been sold. The majority of this increase was seen in our multifamily assets, which produced quarterly NOI of $12 million, representing a strong 60% increase versus the prior year. This is largely due to the continued lease-up of our new communities and increased rents across the portfolio.

The strong demand for rentals in our markets was recently recognized by WalletHub which named Colombia, the #1 location in the U.S. to rent based on rental attractiveness and quality of life. This recognition in Colombia, as well as favorable rankings in our other MPCs is helping boost demand for available units with all of our properties leased at or above 94%.

With additional multifamily projects under construction in Bridgeland, Summerlin and Downtown Columbia, we see significant opportunities to further capitalize on this momentum and drive positive results as we bring these new projects online over the coming quarters. Office NOI of $30 million increased 13% versus the prior year. This improvement was primarily the result of new leasing activity at our Class A office towers in the Woodlands and Downtown Columbia. As companies continue to recover from the pandemic and employers are seeking to bring their employees back into the office, we are seeing an increase in leasing activity.

Given the flight to quality in today’s market, we are a clear beneficiary as a provider of premier Class A space located in one-of-a-kind communities which offer an exceptional lifestyle, including short commutes, unmatchable amenities, quality housing and improved work-life balance.

During the quarter, we executed over 88,000 square feet in new and renewal office leases in the Woodlands. We had similar success in Downtown Columbia with an 80,000 square foot lease with CareFirst signed at 6100 Merriweather which is a lead gold property. This lease largely completes the lease-up of this new office tower with 97% of building’s office space now fully leased.

Retail NOI of $15 million reflected a slight increase over the prior year. Ward Village saw meaningful improvement with a 47% increase in NOI driven by stronger leasing activity in a post-pandemic environment. These gains were partially offset by reduced NOI in Summerlin, which benefited from nonrecurring COVID-related payments in 2021. Excluding these payments, Summerlin NOI was up year-on-year with over 20% improvement in sales per square foot relative to pre-COVID peaks. And finally, retail NOI was also reduced due to the sale of Riverwalk in New Orleans during the second quarter.

Another component of our increased operating performance is attributable to strong fan attendance at the Las Vegas Ballpark, home to HHC’s Las Vegas Aviators, AAA baseball team. In the second quarter, the Ballpark generated $5 million of NOI, representing a 74% increase from the prior year. Thus far in the season, the Aviators are leading the minor leagues in attendance, surpassing levels from the same time in 2021 when COVID restrictions were still in place.

This also contributes to the improved performance at Downtown Summerlin as baseball fans enjoy the nearby shopping and dining before and after games.

Finally, our share of NOI from JV-owned assets increased nearly $700,000, almost entirely from the absence of net operating losses at 110 North Wacker, which was sold during the first quarter.

With that, I will now turn the call over to our President, Jay Cross.

Jay Cross

Thank you, Dave, and good morning. I’m pleased to report that we continue to make good progress on our development projects under construction, including over 1,100 multifamily units in Bridgeland, Summerlin and Downtown Columbia, a 267,000 square foot office tower in Summerlin and 53,000 square feet in 2 medical office buildings in the Woodlands. All of these projects, which are designated as green buildings, remain on track for delivery according to the respective completion schedules, with the majority expected to deliver in the second half of 2022 or early ’23. In addition to our projects already underway, we commenced construction during the quarter on Wingspan, our new single-family build-to-rent community in Bridgeland. This first of its kind development for Howard Hughes will encompass 263 homes over 27 acres, which will complement the strong demand we are seeing for single-family and multifamily offerings in this MPC. This unique product type will offer tenants 1 to 4 bedroom floor plans, as well as single-family home benefits, including private outdoor spaces and attached garage.

We’re excited to bring this new product to Bridgeland and expect Wingspan to begin welcoming its first residents in late ’23.

In Downtown Columbia, we expect to break ground later this quarter on our 86,000 square foot medical office building in the Lakefront District. With the project already 20% pre-leased, we are aiming to make the Link Front District the next health and wellness destination of Downtown Columbia.

At Seaport, construction of the Tin Building is substantially complete, and we are actively hiring and training staff for this one-of-a-kind food hall which will offer over 20 unique restaurant experiences in addition to an e-commerce platform for mobile ordering and delivery. Although we had planned to celebrate the grand opening during the summer, hiring has been challenging due to tight labor markets. As a result, we had to temporarily delay the grand opening, but we are now making great progress on hiring and onboarding process and expect to celebrate the 10 buildings grand opening later this quarter.

Also at the Seaport, we started site remediation work on 250 Water Street, commencing the long-awaited transformation for this 1 acre parking lot into a world-class 28-story mixed-use development. We look forward to providing more details on this project as construction gets underway.

And now turning to Ward Village in Hawaii, we generated $21 million in condo sales during the quarter, including the closing of 19 units for $17 million at A’ali’i, which completed construction late last year. This tower ended the quarter 95% sold with only 40 units remaining. Additionally, we sold 1 penthouse unit at Waiea during the second quarter, generating $4 million of revenue, leaving just 1 unit remaining to be sold in this tower.

At our 2 towers under construction, we contracted 28 units, including 27 at Ko’ula and 1 in Victoria Place, and we remain on track with our projected delivery schedules. Ko’ula, which we expect to deliver in the third quarter, ended the second quarter 96% presold with only 21 units remaining to be sold. Victoria Place, which will be completed in 2024, is already fully sold out, a first for Ward Village.

Presales activity at the park in Ulana, our next 2 towers in the pipeline have remained robust. We contracted 11 units at the park during the quarter with this tower now 91% presold. Our expectation is to start construction of the park during the second half of this year. At Ulana, our ninth condo tower, which will be fully dedicated to workforce housing, we contracted 627 units during the quarter with the tower 90% presold.

Strong presales of these towers represent significant future revenues that are secured by nonrefundable deposits. These projects will have a meaningful contribution to HHC’s bottom line upon completion, which will fuel the acceleration of new developments to come within our pipeline.

And with that, I would now like to hand the call over to our CFO, Carlos Olea.

Carlos Olea

Thank you, Jay. During the second quarter, we were able to carry forward the strong momentum generated in the first quarter, delivering strong results across all of our segments. Within this, despite ongoing economic headwinds, which have generated growing levels of uncertainty and volatility in the real estate market.

In summary, during the second quarter, we reported net income of $21.6 million or $0.42 per diluted share compared to net income of $4.8 million or $0.09 per diluted share during the prior year period. Our MPCs generated land sales revenue of $85 million, a 46% increase over the second quarter of 2021 and $71 million of EBT, a 2% increase compared to the prior year period despite a $22 million reduction in equity earnings from the Summit in Summerlin.

Our operating assets delivered $66 million of NOI, a 15% increase compared to the prior year period. At Ward Village, we closed on 20 condo units, resulting in $4.6 million of condo profit, up from $574,000 loss in the prior year period. At the Seaport, we recorded $3.7 million in net operating loss, a $716,000 improvement compared to the prior year period. Despite this operating loss, quarterly revenue of $27 million rose 166% over the prior year period.

Overall, we are very pleased with the performance of our business segments. Together with our continued favorable outlook for our businesses, we reiterate our full year guidance for 2022.

Outside of our segments, we recently completed our commitment to divest noncore assets with the sale of the outlet collection at Riverwalk in New Orleans. We sold this retail property for $34 million, generating net proceeds of $8 million. Since the announcement of our transformation plan in the fourth quarter of 2019, we have sold 15 noncore assets generating $578 million in net proceeds, which have been redeployed back into our core MPCs to fund new developments and repurchase stock at prices far below net asset value.

With respect to share buybacks, during the second quarter, we repurchased 2.2 million shares for $192 million. These shares were purchased at an average price of $89, which is well below intrinsic value.

Subsequent to quarter end, we repurchased an additional 369,000 shares for $25 million, leaving us with $15 million in available buyback capacity.

Looking at our balance sheet. At the end of the quarter, we had $573 million of cash in hand, providing us with plenty of capital to continue executing on our development projects. Even with an extensive pipeline of projects currently underway, the remaining equity contribution needed to fund this development is only $232 million. In other words, we have sufficient liquidity to launch additional developments throughout the remainder of this year and into 2023.

From a debt perspective, we had $4.8 billion outstanding at the end of the quarter with limited near-term maturities and approximately 79% due in 2026 or later. On the financing side, we closed some $230 million in refinancing for 4 properties. So this $194 million was related to 3 nonrecourse interest-only loans for 3 multifamily assets in the Woodlands with maturities in 2032.

During this rising rate environment, it is important to note that 83% of our debt is either fixed or swapped to a fixed rate, which significantly mitigates our interest rate risk.

With that, I would like to turn the call back over to David for closing remarks.

David O’Reilly

Thank you, Carlos. To wrap up the call before we start Q&A, I want to touch on a few key points. First, our financial results thus far in 2022 reflect the strength of our business model and our unique ability to withstand headwinds during periods of economic volatility. Housing lot inventory remains at historical lows, while prices for our land continues to rise, signifying the outsized demand that exists in our MPCs. Our operating asset portfolio is outperforming with growing demand and rising rents for our high-end multifamily, office and retail space.

With the full slate of new projects nearing the completion of construction, we have a steady pipeline to grow our stream of recurring income that will continue to drive our NAV higher. At the Seaport, one of its best quarters is now in the history books, but the best is yet to come with the grand opening of the Tin Building, lease-up of our remaining office space and continued growth in demand for our unique dining experiences. Overall, we continue to see solid fundamentals in our business going forward.

Second, despite incredible headwinds throughout the pandemic, we’ve successfully completed on our noncore asset disposition plans announced in 2019. We’ve used the net proceeds of $578 million to fuel new development projects within our core MPCs and to repurchase more than 5.3 million shares at a sizable discount, unlocking meaningful shareholder value and driving our NAV higher.

And finally, our balance sheet remains incredibly strong, despite allocating a considerable amount of capital to new projects and share repurchases. Our disciplined capital allocation approach is paying dividends, leaving us with considerable liquidity to fund additional opportunities for future growth.

With that, we’d now like to begin the Q&A portion of the call. We’ll start by answering a few questions that have been generated by Say Technology, which will be read by Eric Holcomb. Eric, can you read the first question?

Question-and-Answer Session

A – Eric Holcomb

Yes. Thanks, David. The first question is the Seaport segment had negative NOI of $8.3 million in the first quarter. Can management comment on the trajectory of earnings for the Seaport? And also, when is the Tin Building expected to open? Carlos, do you want to take this one?

Carlos Olea

Thanks, Eric, and good morning, everybody. Yes, so the loss of $8.3 million in the first quarter was still impacted by the Omicron and Delta variants that had a very severe impact in the city and the Seaport as well. However, in the second quarter, we saw a very significant swing to the upside with the impressive start to the concert series and specialty private events such as Ape Fest, both of which drove significant foot traffic to the area and our concert tours continues to drive significant foot traffic to the area. That resulted in the loss decreasing by 55% from the $8.3 million noted to $3.7 million in the second quarter with a very impressive revenue increase of 172% sequentially and 166% on a year-on-year basis.

Then from the leasing standpoint, we signed a 41,000 square foot lease with Alexander Wang at the Fulton Market Building, which fully leases out that building leaving us only with 88,000 square feet of office space remaining to the lease at Pier 17. And then one of the last remaining milestones to bring the Seaport closer to the stabilization is the Tin Building, we just had our soft opening for friends and family in the last week of July, and we expect to celebrate the grand opening of the Tin Building later this quarter.

And while in the near term, we might see some operating losses as we ramp up operations, in the long term we believe that this unique marketplace will deliver tremendous value for the Seaport.

Eric Holcomb

Thanks, Carlos. Second question is, do you expect your retail spaces to see higher or maintain rental occupancy with the COVID-19 virus slowing and more customers returning to physical retail and shopping. Dave?

David Striph

Sure. Good morning, everybody. Yes, I think our retail centers are performing much better in this new environment. As you’ve heard me say many times, Ward Village retail has lagged behind the rest of our portfolio due to strict travel restrictions in Hawaii. And really, since those restrictions have lifted, we’ve seen a strong comeback with leasing levels increasing to 89% this quarter compared to 82% last year. In addition, across the portfolio, we’ve been able to replace tenants who didn’t make it through the pandemic with really much stronger tenants who are producing significantly higher sales per square foot.

Eric Holcomb

The third question, how does the recession affect your business. David?

David O’Reilly

Sure. Eric, thanks. Happy to answer the question. Look, the Howard Hughes Corporation, you’ve heard me say time and time again, we live, breathe, eat and sleep increasing the intrinsic value or NAV of our company on a per share basis. And the largest driver of increasing that NAV is converting our raw commercial land into income-producing assets, at outsized risk-adjusted returns. Our ability to execute on that NAV growth is limited by the cash that comes into the company and demand to fill those buildings. If there is a recession that could impact home sales and shrink the amount of cash that comes in or there’s less demand in any of our regions, our pace of growth, our rate at which we would increase on a per share basis, the NAV of the company could slow.

With that said, the first half of the year is showing no signs of that with incredible strength in our MPC EBT, incredible lease-up of all of our assets and same-store results across the operating portfolio that are incredibly strong.

So look, to answer your question directly, it could slow the pace of growth of our NAV, but we don’t see signs of that today.

Eric Holcomb

Fourth question is, how do you balance the opportunity to repurchase shares, pay down debt and maintain enough liquidity to handle stressful economic conditions like the spring of 2020. Carlos?

Carlos Olea

Well, it’s a continuous process in which I spent a lot of time on, as does the rest of the management team. We’ll look at different factors. We’ll look at the cash in hand, which we ended our quarter with $573 million of unrestricted, we’ll look at our development commitments which we have $232 million of remaining development costs, we’ll look at our debt, where we have 79% of our debt not due until 2026 or later, we’ll look at our — at the price of our stock that we believe is still very attractive relative to intrinsic value and then we decide which one of these areas or other on our business will have the highest risk-adjusted return, and we deploy capital to those opportunities.

Eric Holcomb

Great. One last question from Say. Are there any plans to buy new properties. Jay?

Jay Cross

Thanks, Eric. Of course, we’re always looking at development opportunities because we’re, first and foremost a development company. However, when we think of significant land acquisition opportunities of scale, quality and product type, they are few and far between. A good example was our purchase of Douglas Ranch last year, and now we’ve embarked on a decades-long opportunity there. We are very pleased that we were able to get into the market quickly, Douglas Ranch already negotiating with homebuilders for our first 1,000 lots. And that’s an example of a long pipeline. So that if we weren’t to buy another MPC, we also have decades worth of residential and commercial development opportunities within our existing town centers. And we feel that, that pipeline with strong demand from those MPCs will keep us going for a long, long time.

Eric Holcomb

All right. Thanks, Jay. With that, operator, we’re going to open up the lines to Q&A.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And the first question comes from John Kim with BMO.

John Kim

[Technical Difficulty] prepared remarks, the impact of mortgage rates on home sales. But I was wondering if you could talk about the impact it’s had on land values and land sales? And in particular, at Bridgeland the price per acre went up 16% sequentially in the face of rising mortgage rates. And so can you comment on, was this due to the mix of the land that was sold during the quarter? And also remind us when those prices were negotiated.

David O’Reilly

Great question, John. And John, welcome. Welcome to the call and welcome to coverage as Howard Hughes, we’re grateful to have you. It’s an excellent question. And I would tell you that in my view, the largest driver of what has seen us show strength in land sales, not just in the number of acres, but in price per acre, is what we see is a meaningful supply-demand imbalance as it relates to finished lots and land in the home — in the hands of homebuilders.

And they are — even with slower home sales, as we mentioned in our prepared remarks, they are still playing catch-up to get to an inventory level that they feel comfortable with, and an inventory level that we want them to have so that they have enough product on the ground to sell. As a result, the demand has not tapered, and the results this quarter and for the first half of this year, I think, demonstrate that, that there are a lot of homebuilders out there within our communities and a lot of homebuyers moving to our communities that want to be there, and they’re willing to pay that price to be there. And that has translated into a great price per acre of our residential land.

John Kim

Can you give us an indication of where price breaker will be for the remainder of the year? Or is that continue to increase or the price growth to decelerate or any other guidance you can provide?

David O’Reilly

Look, we don’t provide guidance on price per acre and certainly not on a quarterly basis. There’s just too much volatility in there relative to superpads or custom lots that could skew that data a little bit higher, a little bit lower. Look, I feel really good that the pricing that we’ve achieved year-to-date is pricing that we should expect to see for the rest of the year, in general I’m not going to say exactly down to the dollar, but I feel very good that what we’ve achieved to date is illustrative of what the value of our land is and it’s not a onetime event.

John Kim

Okay. Moving to condo sales. The margins on the condos that were closed this quarter was relatively low at 8%. And I know that’s specific to the one project A’ali’i — sorry, I’ll put you the name. I was wondering if you could comment on margins at Victoria Place and Ko’ula and how that compares to what you closed during the second quarter.

David O’Reilly

Yes. So John, I think that the 8% headline that you probably pulled from the income statement includes a couple of one-timers that are associated with the remediation efforts at Waiea. And on Page 8 of the supplemental, if you pull out that footnote E, it highlights the $2.7 million of the expenses were associated with that. And the actual margin, when you back out that one-timer was just north of 20%, which is more consistent with expectations, albeit perhaps even lower than what we’re expecting to see on these new towers. We’ve always targeted an average margin across the entire Ward Village portfolio of approximately 30%, and we still think that we’re going to be able to achieve that on a go-forward basis.

John Kim

Great. And then my final question is on the joint venture with Discovery, and you expanded it at Summerlin, where are those 54 acres? Where are they located?

David O’Reilly

They are directly sell, and they’re connected through an internal road within the main gates of the Summit. So it’s actually part of the overall community. It’s not a separate area or a separate gate or a separate entrance. It’s all connected, and we’re able to incorporate it in a pretty seamless way. That land that we’ve just closed on in the joint venture with Discovery is in the process of getting final plan approval. We’re hopeful to get that at the end of ’22, which would allow us to start officially contracting those live, selling and closing them late this year, early next year.

Operator

And the next question comes from Alexander Goldfarb with Piper Sandler.

Alexander Goldfarb

So David, on the land sale business, obviously, that’s a key part of Howard Hughes’ value creation. You spoke about return to seasonality, you spoke about the homebuilder shortages, trying to catch up on inventory, price appreciation and that home sales are back to 2019. Are — I guess as best as your crystal ball is, is — do you think the existing environment is sort of where you see a normalization, like from here, you would say, hey, as far as we can see, this looks to be where we’re leveling out? Or do you see a change going on, meaning if mortgage rates rise further, inflation continues that eventually this could curtail the impact of people moving into your MPCs, buying homes, et cetera?

David O’Reilly

Look, it’s really difficult for me to prognosticate where mortgage rates are going to be for the rest of the year, where inflation is going to be for the rest of the year, what the Federal Reserve is going to do and what that impact will be on home sales? What I’m very comfortable prognosticating is how our communities and our MPCs sit within their regions, and how attractive they remain relative to quality of life and affordability. We still see meaningful in-migration from the coast from the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Midwest into Summerlin, into Bridgeland. And some of those folks that are leaving California are getting twice the house for half the money, and I honestly don’t think that those buyers are concerned with a 5.5% mortgage rate or a 3.5% mortgage rate because they’re making that quality of life trade. And that’s remained consistent. And I think that our relative positioning or relative affordability and the quality of life that we can offer within our communities is appealing to buyers despite higher home costs despite higher mortgage costs, and that’s translated into our financial results year-to-date.

Alexander Goldfarb

And then do you have a breakout or maybe an updated breakout of in-migration to your communities versus people moving into your communities from the local market and how that’s?

David O’Reilly

That moves quarter-to-quarter. I would say we’re still seeing north of 25% in Summerlin, slightly lower percentage in Bridgeland and a much lower percentage in the Woodland Hills, which is more of a starter home community. Typically, the more local buyer than an immigration there. But it still remains very strong. And we’re excited to appeal to those potential buyers and welcome those new residents into our communities that just — not just help generate land sales in MPC EBT, but they eventually shop in the centers, they rent office space in our buildings, and they contribute to the overall vibrancy of our community, and therefore the overall financial results of Howard Hughes.

Alexander Goldfarb

Okay. And then, Carlos, a question on accounting, always a fun topic. A lot of your floating rate debt, I believe, is tied around the construction loans that you used to fund development, that interest gets capitalized. Obviously, rates are rising. So how does this rising rates on your floating rate debt that’s tied to development — how does that impact the balance sheet in any way? Is that higher capitalized interest? Is that low — I mean, I’m just sort of curious how it really manifests in the P&L?

Carlos Olea

Right. Thank you, Alex. So yes, the floating rate debt on construction projects ends up being capitalized to the balance sheet basis. So when we ultimately, if you look at our development line, that’s where you see it, while it’s under construction and then when it gets placed in service, those entries will carry over to the land and building components that we have on the balance sheet. So for our construction projects, we’re really not carrying that risk on the income statement because it gets capitalized to the balance sheet and the future basis of the assets.

David O’Reilly

Where it does potentially impact us, Alex, is that it could reduce the yield on cost of these assets that we have under development. With that said, we have always projected our future interest cost and how much of that, that gets capitalized into the asset value, which is a relatively small amount to the overall construction side, using our best estimate of the forward curve. Historically speaking, we’ve almost always overestimated our interest cost on our construction project, and these most recent projects are actually coming in right around pro forma. So I think the conservative nature under the way that we modeled it has insulated us from changing any yield on cost as it relates to rising rates.

Operator

And the next question comes from Anthony Paolone with JPMorgan.

Anthony Paolone

I guess, start with the land sales part of the business. So I understand the normalization of seasonality, and also the comps against like superpad and stuff like that. But David, can you talk maybe just about what the builder behavior has been in, say, like the recent weeks or months? Because it seems like some of the broader housing data points have slowed considerably on a real-time basis here. And so just trying to understand if there’s any real shift that you’re seeing?

David O’Reilly

Yes. We’re having real-time dialogue with all of our builders and all of our communities. And all of the conversations to a company have been that they still remain excited and they still want to close on the land and the lots that we have available to sell. They still have a spot where they are undersupplied finished lots, they’re undersupplied lands in Summerlin and our land sales to date and what I expect our land sales to be for the balance of the year, really we’ll get them back to equilibrium.

It has been just so hot for 2 years that we have been scrambling to get them finished lots and land and accelerating that to the best we can. And unfortunately, we couldn’t quite keep up all the way. And this year, we’re going to be able to get that back to a steady state. I would tell you that the homebuilders are — they like us, report quarterly, and they’re worried about quarterly results, but they’re also thinking about where that product is going to come, not just next quarter, but next year. And they have to start thinking about those land acquisition decisions today to make sure that they’re ahead of it.

Anthony Paolone

So would it be fair to say that sort of the catch-up in your communities is going to kind of offset what broadly we’re seeing as kind of things slowing down?

David O’Reilly

Yes. I think nationally, a slower home sales absolutely consistent. And yes, we’ve seen fewer home sales in our communities. I still think that our communities have outperformed, not just the national averages, but the overall broader markets that they sit in, and we expect that outperformance to continue.

Anthony Paolone

Okay. And then on the builder participation side, does that go the other way if home sale prices come out to be lower? Like could you be on the hook for anything? Or is it just upside?

David O’Reilly

It’s a one-way option. It’s a little bit of schmuck insurance that when we get in an environment like this, where home prices are rising as fast as they are, that we’re getting paid an appropriate amount for our land, which is a considerable value component of why people are paying that much for the home. It’s the location that it’s in.

Anthony Paolone

Got it. Okay. And then on Douglas Ranch, does anything change in the way you think about spending there or operating it, if you end up with 90% versus, say 50?

David O’Reilly

No, not at all. Our strategy remains consistent regardless of our ownership percentage. We’re in it for the long haul. We’re in it for the long-term net asset value creation that developing a master planned community can deliver. And if we own 10% or 100%, our philosophy doesn’t change.

Anthony Paolone

Okay. And then just last one, just related to the expanded deal with Discovery. It seems like that that’s been pretty successful in Summerlin. Is there opportunity to do more with them in other MPCs of yours? Or this is what they do really just more germane to Summerlin?

David O’Reilly

I think there are some limited rifle-shot opportunities where we could continue to collaborate and partner and we have those discussions real time.

Operator

And the next question comes from Peter Abramowitz with Jefferies.

Peter Abramowitz

I just want to ask about your multifamily portfolio. Do you track rent-to-income ratios? If so, could you quantify that? And just talk about how your resident base is kind of be able to absorb these rent increases?

David O’Reilly

Peter, it’s a great question. And it is something we do track the average income and the median income of our tenants all the time. And it’s shocking that most of our properties are approaching triple-digit average income. And even though we have some meaningful rate increases across our portfolio, for the vast majority of our residents remains affordable. Those at the lower end of the spectrum, those that are in that to 40,000 to 60,000 average annual income, those are the watchlist tenants. Those are the ones that we have to keep an eye on. And if this recession potentially materializes the way it could, that could be the segment of the population that feels this heart that the inflationary pressures impact that segment of our population more dramatically than others, and that’s the area that we are keeping a very close eye on.

Peter Abramowitz

Got it. So I guess do you have a number for your rent-to-income ratio — or I guess, what is the average income of your multifamily customer?

David O’Reilly

We don’t publish it across the portfolio.

Peter Abramowitz

Okay. And I guess, what about the — you don’t publish the average income number either?

David O’Reilly

No, no.

Peter Abramowitz

Okay. Got it. And then my second question is on the Seaport. So I guess it looks like at Pier 17 historic district you basically breakeven quarter, before isolating that from the Tin Building. I guess, how much of that is seasonality and the events that are going on there, can you kind of continue to maintain that momentum and improve? Or is that something that is specific to the summer season you might expect it to take a step back in the remainder of the year?

David O’Reilly

No. Historically speaking, the Seaport has been a highly seasonal asset. And having summer concert series and activations and people out on the Pier drives better results in the warmer months, no doubt about it. I think the amount of volatility we’ve seen driven by seasonality, historically speaking, has been greater because there’s been less of the consistent recurring income since we have not leased that 80,000-plus square feet on Pier 17. I think with each incremental office lease we signed and whether that was ESPN, Nike and now Alexander Wang, that percentage or that impact of that seasonality starts to diminish. And if we’re able to get a little bit more leasing done and get that fourth floor, the Pier put away, that seasonality adjustment will become a much smaller portion of what we expect to see over time.

Operator

And the next question comes from Hamed Khorsand with BWS Financial.

Hamed Khorsand

First question was, could you just talk about the reason for G&A dropping from last year? It seems like quite a bit of a drop.

Carlos Olea

Yes, sure. So we — there were some onetime items in the prior period in our G&A. But then we’ve also just with the increase in our development pipeline would become more of that — more of our internal costs have been allocated to development projects ending up on our balance sheet instead of our G&A as they are related to the construction of those projects.

Hamed Khorsand

And are you just going to be capitalizing costs from here on?

Carlos Olea

Well, it is driven by the development pipeline. So it’s strictly related to that and to the activity on our MPC. So I can tell you there will always be a significant component that gets capitalized as direct cost to the development projects. How much that is exactly, it’s hard to tell, but it will always be correlated to our pipeline and our investment in our MPCs.

Hamed Khorsand

Okay. And then related to the Summit, could you just remind us on how the JV works with the land that you’re providing and what kind of income you’re expecting now that you’re providing more land to the Summit?

David O’Reilly

So we provide land on a fixed price per acre. Through the waterfall, we get our capital back, our implied price per acre. We get a preferred return. Discovery gets their capital, they multiple their capital and then we split the profits after that. The long-term implied price of — or long-term profitability of that will be dependent on what we sell per acre. And when we first started out at the Summit, we were selling lots at $2 million to $4 million per acre. And that number has crept up over the past couple of years to $8 million to $12 million. So I don’t want to kind of set expectations on what we could achieve since we haven’t sold any of those lots yet in the second phase yet. And I think there’s some meaningful pent-up demand because we have such limited inventory left in Phase 1 of the Summit.

Hamed Khorsand

And my last question was any change in your Douglas Ranch time line for development?

David O’Reilly

No, I think everything remains on pace. We’re in the process of getting all the infrastructure done to contract those first 1,000 lots and start hopefully building homes in the next year or so. Everything remains on track. We’re still looking at some early commercial development there and whether that’s a grocery-anchored center, a modest single-family for rent community or multifamily, I think that will be next after we get those first 1,000 homes on the ground or so.

Operator

And the next question is a follow-up from Anthony Paolone with JPMorgan.

Anthony Paolone

I just had a couple more, if I could. At the Seaport, we saw sort of the flywheel effect of getting events and stuff like that back going again. How would you characterize what you saw there on the managed side with events and the restaurants and such versus what you think it would look like on a stabilized basis? Like did you get there in the second quarter? Or is there still more to go?

David O’Reilly

I’d hate to say that we’ve hit the pinnacle of what we’re able to achieve with the Seaport. I don’t want to limit the team’s imagination nor mine. I still think that we have the opportunity to do better to be more efficient. I think that the margins right now are tighter than they have historically been because the increased cost of labor, the increased cost of food. But we do think that we are getting to a spot where people are starting to recognize this as a wonderful entertainment and culinary destination in Manhattan. And I think that will only be further exemplified when we open up the Tin Building. And that’s an asset here in the Seaport District that will just fuel more and more traffic. So I think that we can do better. I think we have room to continue to stabilize these restaurants, drive better revenue per foot, higher margins. And this is a great glimpse into the road map of what could be long term.

Anthony Paolone

Got it. And then second one, on the buyback, should we anticipate an additional authorization? And then also, Carlos, you outlined sort of liquidity that if you want to do more, you got the liquidity to do it. But if you do decide to do more, should we anticipate you’re doing something less somewhere else in the business or any other asset sales to consider to fund it?

Carlos Olea

Well, Tony, as we said in the prepared remarks, we have — we still have the $15 million left. So we can exercise that remaining authority. But I mean, to your point though, if we were to decide to do more of a buyback, would we have to do less of something else. Yes, I mean, with cash being a finite resource, we would have to go through that process that I described where we determine what’s going to give us the highest risk-adjusted return. And if it is buybacks and that does mean that we pass on some of the other options that we were evaluating.

Anthony Paolone

Okay. But it doesn’t sound like there’s anything that’s been lined up on that front quite yet?

David O’Reilly

Yes. Again, that’s a board discussion that we have all the time. And to the extent that in our next discussion with the Board, we reauthorize a new buyback, we’ll communicate it expeditiously.

Operator

And the next question comes from Alex Barrón with Housing Research Center.

Alex Barron

I wanted to ask some builders have discussed in their second quarter call that they’ve started to try to renegotiate land deals or walk away from some land options, others that they’re starting to cut prices and increased incentives. Have you guys had those types of conversations or had any builders try to renegotiate any of the land deals?

David O’Reilly

We don’t have options, so that we don’t take that type of risk. And we have not had any discussions to date of changing any pricing per lot or per acre with any of our builders.

Operator

And as that was the last question, I would like to return the floor to David O’Reilly for any closing comments.

David O’Reilly

Appreciate everyone’s participation today. Thank you for continuing to follow the Howard Hughes Corporation. We look forward to seeing you on our future investor relation events and future conference calls. And of course, if there’s any questions or concerns in between here and there, we’re always available to help. Thank you, again.

Operator

Thank you. The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today’s presentation. You may now disconnect your lines.


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Wacken Open Air: Three days in an oasis of good vibes | DW News – latest news and breaking stories | DW

DW News

It’s been a long wait for heavy metal fans. But now, after a two year hiatus during the pandemic, one of the world’s biggest heavy metal festivals is back. Wacken is once again hosting 85,000 metal fans for three days in a field in northern Germany.




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Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song | Taiwan News

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Small Island Big Song (小島大歌) is a successful music and film project that connects with Austronesian culture by working with hundreds of famous musicians from 16 island countries, including Taiwan’s Indigenous tribes, Easter Island, Tahiti, New Zealand, Madagascar, and the Marshall Islands.


The project’s second album, “Our Island,” was shortlisted for “Best Aboriginal Language” and “Best Album of the Year” at the 33rd Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan. This followed a four-month Europe and U.S. concert tour.


Co-founded by Taiwanese producer BaoBao Chen (陳玟臻) and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole, the pair quit their jobs at the end of 2015 when they discovered what a dramatic impact climate change was having on Austronesian island countries. The Austronesians are a group of seafaring people from Madagascar to Micronesia who are thought to have originated in Taiwan.


The intention, since day one, has been to unite the “cultures of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through songs, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region at the frontline of the climate crisis,” according to the project’s website introduction.


Their project has so far produced an award-winning album and the documentary film “Small Island Big Song: An Oceanic Songline,” in 2019. It has also presented outreach programs and toured around the world.


“The words ‘co-creation’ and ‘communication’ are quite abstract, but for me, a touching moment between people is what we cherish most,” BaoBao Chen said. “If the story we want to tell is the relationship between man and land, then these two concepts cannot be separated.”


For the “Small Island Big Song” debut album, the team insisted on “island hopping” to Austronesian countries. The album, “Our Island,” has a different approach.


Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song(Small Island Big Song photo)


It looks at Earth as if it was an island, with the thought that if more people did this, then we would be more united in seeing the ongoing climate crisis more clearly. Sung by Austronesian islanders, the relationship between man and land is revealed through music.


Many female musicians were involved in “Our Island,” including Amis lead singer Putad Pihay and Emlyn from the Republic of Mauritius. Putad said her relationship with Emlyn is like “twins” born at either end of the Pacific Ocean.


“She is me, she is literally the other half of me, her childhood is exactly like mine, including that she was bullied in school because of her identity,” Putad said.


The song “Listwar Zanset” (Our Ancestors), which the pair collaborated on, is written as a story of rebellion. The harmony corresponds to the overlapping life experiences of Putad and Emlyn.


During the project’s world tour, Putad wrote a song named “Malazhzai,” which means to become one. Elements from Austronesian countries such as Mauritius, Madagascar, Taiwan and Papua New Guinea all come together in a cultural melting pot, conveying the same spirit.


On the track, Putad plays a traditional Malagasy instrument combined with a rhythm that is unique to the island of Mauritius, which was performed by her “cross-ocean-sister” Emlyn. They composed six songs together.


Putad is the lead singer of the band Outlet Drift and their song “The Lady of the Ocean” won “Best Indigenous Language Album” at the 32nd GMA. Talking about Taiwanese stereotypes of Indigenous music, Putad commented: “Every moment when we Indigenous peoples sing, we are recollecting a voice from the heart, being natural as we work, eat, and rest in daily life.”


Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song

(Small Island Big Song photo)


One of the interesting things that came out of the Small Island Big Song world tour was the realization of how many similarities the musicians from countries scattered across the Pacific Ocean had. For example, their numbers from one to 10 are quite similar. Equally, it was found that music is a language that crosses all borders.


Small Island Big Song set a goal of entering the international market at the beginning of its conception. As such, it has taken part in trade fairs, music markets, music videos and more.


BaoBao Chen said the next three years will have an intense schedule that steadily builds up to Small Island Big Song’s ç. The plan is to continue touring worldwide and then return “home” to Taiwan.


At that time, a larger theatrical performance will be organised to create a concert that will promote the diffusion of Austronesian culture internationally.


Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song

(Small Island Big Song photo)


Interview with BaoBao Chen


Q: Can you share with us the recording process of the Small Island Big Song project?


Chen: We hope to take music as the starting point. To build a modern Austronesian life cycle through songs, videos, and even road tours together. After we made our first album, every time we went to an island country to meet musicians, we would ask the musicians to take us to the places where they wanted to record and shoot. Interestingly, the locations are always in nature.


After recording, we brought the materials to the next island, letting the musicians listen and then overdubbed the vocal lines or instruments layer by layer. Eventually, after post-production from Tim (Cole), they co-created songs that happened in Austronesian Island countries.

Q: Small Island Big Song focuses on the ocean and Austronesian culture, rather than focusing on Taiwanese music. Can you share the reason for this?


Chen: How can we distinguish music from Taiwan or South Korea? How can Taiwan’s music be defined outside the Mandopop realm? I think that the connection between the Indigenous people of Taiwan and the Austronesian culture of the Pacific and Indian Ocean Island countries is a good story that distinguishes Taiwan from other Asian countries.


Indigenous music is booming in Taiwan and has become a big industry, but there are very few Taiwanese Indigenous musicians who can stand in the spotlight of the international stage and achieve international influence.


Lauren Laverne, a popular BBC radio presenter in Europe — who is also the artistic director of colors of Ostrava, one of Europe’s largest music festivals — said after listening to our music and watching our performances, “Taiwan is definitely the root of the Austronesian island countries.”


Easter Island musicians who participated in the project told me: “This is not a general music project, it has the same roots of all our ancestors and cultures when we sing together.”


For me, this is the core of Small Island Big Song, and we’re going to trace back to our roots and connections.


Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song

(Small Island Big Song photo)


Q: There are musicians from the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and even Hawaii and Easter Island participating in the Small Island Big Song project. How did you contact them?


Chen: During the recording and filming of the first album, the Hawaiian musician, Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani told us, “If you want to film, I will only film in one of the craters of Mount Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island.”


On another occasion, we had to sail for three days to meet Madagascar Vezo Indigenous musicians because they live in places that planes and vehicles cannot get to. We also once chartered an “air taxi” to go to the outlying islands of Vanuatu to find musicians who needed to leave their homes because of sea-level rise.


Q: The albums “Small Island Big Song” and “Our Island” have songs co-created by musicians from many islands. How did you get these disparate people to work together?


Chen: The first album was an island-hopping production. The second album, “Our Island,” was produced with an opposite approach. Due to the pandemic, we arranged remote video shoots every two weeks, so that musicians could discuss creative ideas, musical elements, and life sharing.


To complete the song, we recorded the demo then sent it to each musician, gradually adding more musical elements layer by layer. Because we are already very familiar with the instruments and musical styles of the Austronesian island countries, as music producers, we would also invite more musicians to play and stack different instruments with musical elements while recording and mixing.


Q5: How do you tailor a tour or the rehearsal for musicians from all over the world?


Chen: Small Island Big Song is a group, a plan, mainly concentrated on large music festivals, and we are not restricted to “world music.” We spent three years approaching curators or directors of American universities and performing arts centers to talk about our plans for trips from three days to a week based on their funding and expectations.


Besides introducing Small Island Big Song itself, lectures featured topics on Indigenous women and the history of the Austronesian islands, and discussed how to exert influence as musicians to improve climate change. We also have dance and instrument workshops, with documentaries being played, and customized events.


Q7: What do you think of Taiwan’s Indigenous music?


Chen: Although there are many great works in Taiwan’s Indigenous music industry, the relative lack of touring, international distribution, international music criticism, and exposure strategies after releasing the album, also coupled with the language barrier, makes it difficult to get a foothold in the international market.


Austronesian music returns to its Taiwan roots with Small Island Big Song

BaoBao Chen and Tim Cole, of Small Island Big Song. (Small Island Big Song photo)




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Watch ORIANTHI Perform ‘Sinners Hymn’ From ‘Live From Hollywood’ CD/DVD And Blu-ray

Frontiers Music Srl will release “Live From Hollywood”, a new live album and long-form video from internationally renowned rock guitarist Orianthi, on CD/DVD and Blu-ray on July 15. The performance was captured on January 8, 2022 at the Bourbon Room in Hollywood, California and sees the guitarist and her excellent backing band in fine form, playing songs from Orianthi‘s most recent release “O” and cuts like her hit “According To You”.

A performance clip of the song “Sinners Hymn” from “Live From Hollywood” can be seen below.

This new live release serves as an appetizer for Orianthi‘s upcoming new studio album, which will be released later in 2022.

Orianthi‘s first major solo artist success, as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, was with the Geffen Records release of “According To You”, which is now RIAA-certified platinum and has over 17 million streams on Spotify. Her music’s ability to transcend time and remain relevant cannot be more clear than its recent resurgence on TikTok. There are over 83 million views on the “According To You” hashtag, making it a viral trend that is introducing Gen Z to Orianthi for the first time in a big way. Career-long fans are used to seeing their favorite world-class guitarist playing arenas with rock royalty and global superstars like Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Carrie Underwood, Alice Cooper and more. The juxtaposition of her newly arrived online popularity and her lifelong pursuit of artistic credibility is the nebulous of this shining star.

“Live From Hollywood” track listing:

01. Contagious
02. Sinners Hymn
03. Heaven In This Hell
04. Think Like A Man
05. You Don’t Wanna Know
06. What’s It Gonna Be
07. Courage
08. Blow
09. Impulsive
10. Blues Won’t Leave Me Alone
11. According To You
12. How Do You Sleep

Recording lineup:

Orianthi – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Mayfield – Guitar
Carmen Vandenberg – Guitar
Justin Andres – Bass
Michael Bearden – Keyboards
Glen Sobel – Drums

Orianthi‘s first new studio album in seven years and her first new music as a solo artist in six years, “O”, came out in November 2020 via Frontiers Music Srl.

In April 2020, Orianthi told the “Australian Rock Show” about her fourth solo album: “I’m so excited about this record — really excited. “We did it in 28 days in Nashville. [I made the record with] Marti Frederiksen, who’s a dear friend of mine, an amazing songwriter, producer. I just go out to Nashville, where my management is at, and I love it over there. I made actually my last record too, with Dave Stewart there, at Blackbird [studio]. There’s some kind of energy in Nashville — it’s just a great feeling when you get there. So many musicians are there. And we just jumped right into the studio. Marti and I wrote and recorded, in 28 days, all the songs. And, yeah, it was just a great, fun experience.”

Regarding the musical direction of her latest material, Orianthi said: “This record is not too much of a departure from my past stuff, but it is different. So I think people will get what they sort of expect, with that heavy riffage and big solos, but there’s a lot of different sounds going on and textures, with drum loops and synths. It’s not just staying with one tone throughout the whole record… There’s some heavy tracks on there. There’s some lighter tracks [and] bluesy tracks. As I said, it’s different, but it’s kind of what people were sort of expecting.

“The thing is you have to keep on evolving and changing,” she explained. “You don’t make the same record over and over again; I would just bore the hell out of myself and everyone else. So I wanna keep on changing.”

Born in Australia, Orianthi was inspired to learn guitar at a young age after discovering her father’s vinyl collection. She rose to international fame at age 24 after the release of her hit single “According To You” and a high-energy performance backing Carrie Underwood at the 2009 Grammy Awards. Although she had already been invited to jam with the likes of Carlos Santana and Steve Vai, mainstream audiences had not previously heard of this captivating guitar prodigy.

Her recognition increased even further when Michael Jackson called with an offer to be his guitarist for his dates at the O2 Arena in London. Although the concert series was not to be, the release of the behind-the-scenes documentary “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” showcased Orianthi‘s masterful playing as well as her creativity and collaboration.




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Mott the Dog: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin – 5 Stars

Led Zeppelin in 1969. Who would have believed that these fresh faced young lads, would soon become the Juggernauts of Rock Music, redefining its very essence.

For 12 years Led Zeppelin ruled supreme as the head of state in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Dragged, kicking and screaming, to superstardom by their powerhouse manager Peter Grant – you didn’t mess with our Peter, if he put the bad eye on you for selling Bootleg Zeppelin T-shirts you stayed sorted.

Led Zeppelin came up in the age of singles. However, on the instructions of the manager, Led Zeppelin did not release one single. Nevertheless, right from the day that the New Yardbirds turned into the beast that was to become Led Zeppelin, the principle players were superstars. They arrived to packed out concerts in stretch limos with masses of P.A. The albums were riding at the top of the charts, and they enjoyed all the excesses of the Rock ‘n’ Roll life style. One minute you’d never heard of them, the next they were everywhere.

Listening to this album 53 years later on, does it live up to the hype? Has it stood the ravages of time? Is a Dalmatian a beautiful dog? Of course it has , the brilliance of diamonds does not dim over a few years.

As soon as the band breaks into the opening song, you know that you are listening to musical magic. Led Zeppelin had only been together for six weeks when they were ushered into the studio to record their inaugural album. Glyn Johns was the only outsider required to do the engineering and less than four weeks later they emerged with this masterpiece. Basically, they had laid down their stage act on tape, so no wonder the sound is so vibrant and alive. Most of these songs stayed in the live set right to the end and are regularly brought back again whenever Page or Plant decide to strut their stuff on the boards.

With gigging almost every night , fitting recording sessions in when they could. It’s amazing they ever sat still long enough to get a publicity shot done.

There are nine songs in all, ranging from the blitzkrieg heavy metal thrash of Communication Breakdown at 2 minutes 26 seconds to the control and magnificence of How Many More Times, at 8 minutes 30 seconds. This closes with an uncredited run through of “The Hunter”, which is a favourite for this dog. However, it is the amazing slow Blues, You Shook Me by Willie Dixon that really shows off the talent of all the group members. The Jeff Beck Group (Jimmy Page’s old running mate in the Yardbirds) had, six months previously, issued a version of this song on his  band’s debut album “Truth” (August 1968) and it had Rod Stewart on vocals. Despite this, after Beck heard Zeppelin’s version, it gave him an inferiority complex that has lasted up until today, despite now being regarded as the finest electric guitarist on the planet. Please note that the Beck version is brilliant, it’s just that Zeppelin took it to another level.


Of course, over the years, “Dazed and Confused” became Jimmy Page’s “Tour De Force”. It stretches up to 30 minutes on stage, with the guitarist using violin bows, and all sorts to show his virtuosity. On the album though, you get the original tune, which is often easier listening, without having to suffer the over indulgence from Page. The opening bass line of this song  before Jimmy Page comes in on lead guitar  sends a shimmer through the fields of Rock’n’Roll  every time it’s played.

Quite rightly it was Jimmy Page that was front and centre for Led Zeppelin. But the longer the band pulled together the more of an identity the others got.

Zeppelin achieved this magnificent album without bothering the writing skills of Robert Plant. All that was still to come when Page/Plant became as famous, as Lennon/McCartney or Jagger/Richards.

From here Led Zeppelin went onto conquer the world, and this was their glorious start.

These days when you buy the Led Zeppelin debut album . you get two discs , the second disc has a fabulous live recording from 1969 of the Band at the Paris Theatre. Worth buying the album for that alone. Even in 1969 Led Zeppelin were a mighty beast.

The members of Led Zeppelin may have been jealous of their Managers Rolls Royce . But by the end of their first year together they could all afford fleets of them.

Musicians:
John Bonham – drums, tympani, backing vocal
Robert Plant – lead vocal, harmonica
Jimmy Page – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocal
John Paul Jones – bass, organ, backing vocal

Tracks Listing:

  1. 1. Good Times Bad Times
  2. 2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
  3. 3. You Shook Me
  4. 4. Dazed And Confused
  5. 5. Your Time Is Gonna Come
  6. 6. Black Mountain Side
  7. 7. Communication Breakdown
  8. 8. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  9. 9. How Many More Times

Written By Mott The Dog.

The famous artwork of the band’s debut single by George Hardie. They called themselves Led Zeppelin as The Who’s drummer Keith Moon said that is how they would fly in a live concert. Another slight error from our Keith.



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BTS to host FREE CONCERT in Busan in October, fans say ‘broke ARMYs let’s swim’

BTS is undoubtedly the biggest music act in the world at the moment but fans know the boy group members for being the humble kings that they are. Over the years, members of BTS have been vocal about how they wish to host one free concert for fans all over the world to attend and it seems that the day is soon to come. During BTS’ ‘Permission To Dance on Stage‘ concert in Las Vegas, Jin reminded fans how they are happy about their present success but their only wish remains to host a concert free of charge that fans from all over the world can attend.

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Now as BTS members have been selected as the Honorary Ambassadors of the 2030 World Expo in Busan, fans are shocked to learn that the boy group will be hosting a concert in mid-October this year which will have free tickets for fans. With the last World Expo being held in Dubai in 2020, the 2025 World Expo is all set to be held in Osaka, Japan. Years ahead of the next World Expo after 2025, South Korea is already placing its bid for the 2030 event to be hosted in Busan and for that, the world-famous boy group BTS is ready to participate in the promotions of the event.

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Honorary Ambassadors BTS invites 2030 World EXPO to Busan, fans ask ‘free concert?’

Will BTS enlist? Fans furious after National Defense announces a ‘special’ exemption

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BTS to host a concert free of charge for fans

Last month, it was announced that BTS members will be the Honorary PR Ambassadors for the Expo. On July 19, BTS members attended the appointment ceremony which was held in the HYBE Building in Seoul. The 2030 Busan World Expo Bidding Committee and Busan City hosted the ceremony where BTS were given plaques as they were officially appointed as the PR ambassadors for the upcoming event.

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As South Korea places its bid to be the next country to host the next World Expo, BTS members will take the renowned leaders of the World Expo committee on a tour around Busan later this year. In preparation for their roles as ambassadors, BTS will host a concert in Busan City for their fans in October. Reports on August 6 confirmed that BTS indeed will host a concert in Busan in the months to come with free tickets at a stadium with 550,000 seats.

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‘Time to swim to Korea I guess’

The news of BTS members finally being able to fulfill their dreams of having a free concert has fans all around the world praising the boys for their humility whereas international fans joke how they will be moving to South Korea in the months to come. One fan said, “We’re getting a FREE BTS CONCERT in busan… but i’m no where near busan.” One more fan said, “Bts concert for FREE… wow— AND I WONT BE THERE.” They also said, “First bts concert for FREE was with less than 10k people, now second bts concert for FREE will be with MUCH MUCH MORE than 10k people.” One fan said, “BTS concert for free and i won’t be one of the armys there…”

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Another fan said, “Bts free concert in busan ,,, and I’m not there.” One more fan said, “Free bts concert and I still can’t go.” A fan said, “When i realized it’s BTS FREE CONCERT but i won’t be part of the concert.” One fan said, “A free BTS Concert and I’m not going this is sick.” One more fan said, “The concert free????????????? A BTS concert……for free…” Another fan said, “Not me actually thinking about flying to s korea for the free bts concert lmao.” One fan joked, “BTS FREE CONCERT?!?!?!? TIME TO SWIM TO KOREA IG.” Another fan said, “Me and my broke army friends going to south korea to attend the bts free concert.” One more fan joked, “There’s going to be a free bts concert in korea this mid-october for the 2030 Busan expo- wait why are you crying?”

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Stars In Shiny Swimsuits … Hollywood Goes Heavy Metal!


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Zakk Wylde Likens Pantera Tribute Tour to Led Zeppelin Reunion

Zakk Wylde compared the upcoming Pantera tribute tour to Led Zeppelin’s 2007 reunion show with Jason Bonham in place of late drummer John Bonham.

Plans are being laid for a 2023 road trip featuring surviving Pantera members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, with Anthrax’s Charlie Benante playing drums in place of Vinnie Paul Abbott and Wylde appearing in place of Dimebag Darrell Abbott. The news caused controversy when recently announced, despite being approved by the Abbott brothers’ estates, and Wylde having been linked with some kind of Dimebag tribute even before Paul’s death in 2018.

“When Vinnie was still alive, when the fellows were all talking about doing it, I just always told ‘em, I said, ‘Of course, I would,’” Wylde told Danny Wimmer Presents in a new interview. “‘If you asked me, why would I not do it? I’m gonna honor Dime.’”

He added that “it could be like Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell asking Eric Clapton if he would go out and honor Jimi [Hendrix], and Eric playing Jimi’s stuff and singing Jimi’s songs, and they’re going out as the Jimi Hendrix celebration. And he’s gonna honor his buddy and he’s gonna play his songs.”

You can watch the interview below.

He predicted the Pantera tribute would be a “beautiful thing” and pointed out he and others had been taking part in an annual Dimebash event for years. “It’s a celebration of Dime’s greatness. It’s a Pantera celebration, that’s what it is – you’re celebrating Vinnie and Dime’s greatness and you’re celebrating all the mountains that Pantera conquered and crushed.”

Wylde emphasized that “obviously it’s not Pantera. Pantera is those four guys – Phil, Rex, Dime and Vinnie. But it’s just like when Zeppelin went out with Jason Bonham playing. It was phenomenal. I told Jason, I was just like, ‘Dude, you crushed it, man.’ It’s a great thing just to hear them play that music again.” He added: “I’m beyond honored to be a part of it.”

Top 50 Classic Heavy Metal Albums

We take a look at some of the heaviest, loudest and most awesome records ever made.




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Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 9/8/73 album review @ All About Jazz

Album Review


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” data-original-title=”” title=””>Grateful Dead were never better in live performance than in 1973-1974. Those pertinent virtues of this iconic rock and roll band on stage are fully on display over the course of this three-CD edition of Dave’s Picks, a clear depiction of the sweet spot between structured and open-ended playing, based on splendid songs, within which the group comfortably resided during this period.

First off, the iconic band had a wealth of original material dating back to their prolific output around the time of the one-two punch of studio efforts Workingman’s Dead (Warner Bros., 1970) and American Beauty (Warner Bros., 1970), then continuing into the live Europe ’72 triple-LP set. The exquisite ballad “Stella Blue” is just one example of the prolific output from the well-established songwriting team of guitarist/vocalist

Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garcia

guitar, electric

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Jerry Garcia and the erudite wordsmith Robert Hunter. Rhythm guitarist/vocalist

Bob Weir

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Bob Weir‘s compositional collaborations with John Perry Barlow were also beginning to bear fruit in the form of the ambitious “Weather Report Suite” too. In addition a whole host of covers such as country artist Marty Robbins’ “Big River” and “Beat It Down the Line” were regular insertions into setlists, providing the utmost pacing for the psychedelic warriors’ now marathon two-set concerts.

In addition to this treasure trove of a repertoire to choose from, the Grateful Dead had at this point honed their stage presentation for nearly ten years since their formation in 1965. The well-rehearsed and stream-lined suite that distinguishes Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings (Grateful Dead Records, 2005) set a precedent for smooth segues often populated the later setlists in the unconventional form of “Eyes of the World” and “China Doll;” this coupling comprised of the former, cull from the not-yet-released debut of their own independent record label, Wake of the Flood (Grateful Dead Records, 1973) and the latter, which would not appear on a studio album til next year From The Mars Hotel (Grateful Dead Records, 1974).

Road testing such new material kept the ensemble on its toes for the sake of not just mastering novel arrangements but also injecting the spontaneity of new ideas upon which to improvise during the course of the shows. The surprising inclusion of keyboardist

Keith Godchaux

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Keith Godchaux‘ lead vocal on “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away,” which also features sweet harmonies from spouse Donna Jean, is indicative of the confidence, not to mention the versatility, permeating this personnel lineup of the Grateful Dead (both husband and wife were fully ensconced in the lineup at this point, having joined the year prior).

It’s a measure of the savvy of chief archivist David Lemieux that he chose to illustrate the exploratory approach of the Grateful Dead in this package via two extended pieces from the previous night’s appearance at the Long Island venue. Both the thirteen-minute plus “Bird Song” and the eighteen-plus minute plus “Playing in the Band” are longer than most all the selections from 9/8, clearly illustrating how Grateful Dead performances could vary markedly from night to night. Equally importantly, the two protracted tracks illustrate how natural and easygoing was the exchange of instrumental ideas in those moments when the sextet decided to stretch out and jam.

Juxtaposed with vivid sepia-toned action photos (and Lemieux’ own prose) within the twelve-page booklet enclosed in the triple-fold package—itself festooned on the outside with colorful stylized artwork by Helen Rebecchi Kennedy—eyewitness Jay Kerley’s whimsical play-by-play of the evening speaks to the contrasts in tourstops from the perspective of his twelfth attendance of the year on the San Francisco band’s itinerary (a creative graphic of which is also pictured inside next to photos and essays). Notwithstanding his effusive fanboy tone, there is more than a little to marvel at during this three-hours plus, from the ambiance of the room as captured by recordist Kidd Candelario (once he balanced the vocal levels) to the constant surprise in the drumming of Bill Kreutzmann: in Grateful Dead lore, the acclamation for the man in this era of the single-drummer has its roots in this kind of nimble yet assertive percussion work.

The now-legendary ‘Wall of Sound’ would make its road debut in roughly six months, further enhancing the Dead’s in-the-moment response to each other while playing, based on the optimum clarity from the gigantic system. In addition to a banner raised by the late impresario and promoter Bill Graham—”They aren’t the best at what they do, they are the only ones that do what they do”—Owsley Stanley’s sonic masterpiece would be set up for the run at Bill Graham’s Winterland in autumn of 1974, after which the Grateful Dead would go on hiatus from performing for almost an entire year (during which time Garcia would work assiduously on a cinematic project that would eventually coalesce into The Grateful Dead Movie (Grateful Dead, 2004).

The group would return to ongoing live performance again with a New Year’s Eve 1976 at the Cow Palace, the storied West Coast venue which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the site of the Beatles’ final concert except for the legendary rooftop gig in January ’69 (recordings from which were released in 2007 as the first package produced under contract with Rhino Records). No less a credible source than bassist Phil Lesh himself would later state that, upon its return to the stage, the Grateful Dead had lost something intangible but crucial from its musicianly interactions: as an illustration of what he meant, the bassist might well have chosen this recording from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 9/8/73.

“>

Track Listing

CD 1: Bertha; Me And My Uncle; Sugaree; Beat It On Down The Line;
Tennessee Jed; Looks Like Rain; Brown-Eyed Women; Jack Straw; Row
Jimmy: Weather Report Suite – Prelude/Part I/Part II (Let It Grow). CD 2: Eyes
Of The World; China Doll; Greatest Story Ever Told; Ramble On Rose; Big
River; Let Me Sing Your Blues Away; China Cat Sunflower; I Know You Rider;
El Paso. (Bonus) Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
(9/7/73) – Bird Song. CD 3: He’s Gone; Truckin’; Not Fade Away; Goin’ Down
The Road Feeling Bad; Not Fade Away; Stella Blue; One More Saturday
Night. (Bonus) Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (9/7/73) –
Playing In The Band.

Personnel

Grateful Dead: band/orchestra; Jerry Garcia: guitar, electric; Bob Weir: guitar; Keith Godchaux: piano; Phil Lesh: bass, electric; Bill Kreutzmann: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Jerry Garcia: vocals; Bob Weir: vocals; Keith Godchaux : keyboards, vocals;
Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals; Phil Lesh: vocals; Bill Kreutzmann: drums.

Album information

Title: Dave’s Picks Volume 38: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 9/8/73
| Year Released: 2022
| Record Label: Rhino

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