Wednesday, April 23, 2014

420 in Vondel Park

Pi Pano 2 Candle in Amsterdam



Episode 545 is beaming out from the 5th Annual 420 Party at the Genesee County Compassion Club in Flint, Michigan where I’m hanging and talking with Ben Horner of MI Organic Solutions, Michigan Medical Marijuana Report, and the grassroots marijuana legalization movement in Michigan while we’re playing reefer music by Nat King Cole, Sam Price, Bill “Jazz” Gillum, Mezz Mezzrow, Richard Jones, Frankie Jaxon, Chick Webb & His Orchestra, Fats Waller, Lil Johnson, Cedar Creek Sheik, Tampa Red & The Chicago Five, Cootie Williams & His Rug Cutters, Cab Calloway & His Orchestra, Stuff Smith & His Onyx Club Boys, Buster Bailey’s Rhythm Busters, and Lorrain Walton.

The John Sinclair Foundation Presents

Genesee County Compassion Club, Flint MI, April 19, 2014 [20-1416]

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cats From Mohawk




 (for Goat Carson)


Curley Russell - Bass

Buddy Rich / Max Roach - Drums

Symphony Sid – Jazz DJ

straight no chaser
 (for Art Blakey)
 Art Blakey

leap frog
 (for Steve Cannon)


relaxin' with lee
(for Andrew Jones, Larry Hayden & Henk Botwinik)

Lee Bridges  - the cannabis poet.

 (for Amiri Baraka)

Thelonious Monk - Piano

Charlie 'Bird' Parker - Sax

Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet

 (for Ken Mikolowski & Steve the Fly)

Thelonious Monk – Piano

Edgar Allen Poe – Poet

nobody knows nobody cares
(for George Kucewicz)

Thelonious Monk – Piano

Frankie Passions – Vocals
my melancholy baby 
(for Stevenson Palfi)

Allen Toussaint - piano/composer

Professor Longhair – piano

Tuts Washington – piano

Emanuel Sayles - Banjo

Papa John Creech – Violin

Jabbo Junebug Jones – Story teller/poet

Celia Sinclair – painter, artist

DJ Harry Duncans 

Nell – Stevenson’s daughter.

an oscar for treadwell
 (for Paul Lichter, Ron Esposito, & Oscar Treadwell)
Oscar Treadwell – Cincinnati jazz adio host, DJ

Thelonious Monk - Piano

Charlie Bird Parker – Sax

Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet

Clark Monroe ‘The Dark Gable’

Vic Coulson - Trumpet

Allen Tinney – Piano

Ebenezer Paul – Bass

Max Roach - drums

Roy Eldridge – trumpet

Glenn Miller Band

Lester Young - Sax 'The Prez'

Billie Holiday - Vocal

Jack Kerouac – poet

Jerry Newman – “live” recording pioneer

Benny Harris – trumpet

Dexter Gordon – Sax

Benny Carter Orchestra

Kenny Clarke - drums

Coleman Hawkins – sax

carolina moon
 (for Monk himself)

—Steve Fly

Amsterdam, 06/13


Sunday, April 20, 2014


(for Tim Egmond)

"Nobody for President"
—Hippie Political slogan

A large dollop of uncertainty and mystery surrounds music no matter how you cut it: What is it, where did it come from, who innovated, who copied, and so on. These questions come up for anybody who finds time to think and look deeper into musical origins, toward the source or the wellspring of knowledge. John Sinclair is such a walking wellspring and contains a complex of origins referring to jazz and blues you will not find anywhere else. 

Once again, following the lead of our poet John Sinclair, we will shave off a poem from the Mohawk album, dedicated to Thelonious Monk, titled “nobody knows (nobody cares).”

I will approach this investigation in layers starting with the present and working backwords, or bachwords as James Joyce would spell it, invoking Bach, the fugue and leading into Monk’s special innovation of counterpoint.

The top layer is John's spoken performance, the impact of his own voice and his own personae upon the poem itself. The extra meaning that comes from the poet, his or her experiences, knowledge basis and performance skill set, timing, accent, cadence, swing, honesty, these are all attributes that John amplifies through the act of being at the microphone. In this context “nobody knows (nobody cares)” could take on a special meaning for him concerning the general up-hill struggle he has had to endure in the music business, and how jazz music and the music of Thelonious Monk for example, remain underground and occluded, for the most part.

The phrase could relate to Thelonious Monk in contemporary society, sadly, and pitifully, like the lyrics to the song by Charles Irwin in 1919, “nobody knows nobody cares” might express the melancholy of being alone, misunderstood and ignored. Herein sits a key to understanding a bit about poetry, the agnostic individual taking on all of history and culture, shining the light of knowledge and experience from the acknowledged limitations of a single cognitive entity. Inviting the unknown and celebrating the mystery and uncertainty of life, like a great improvisational jazz musician capturing the cadence of speech in the melody line. And furthermore living one’s life close to how it reads on the page, out there in the big wide human universe.

We live in a bat-shit crazy capitalist culture of certainty, in business, politics and commerce. A related certainty in music seems to me to be wrapped up in that empty modern business spectacle: If it sells keep the formula, do not change too much, do not experiment etc. The concept or field approach of improvisational music runs against categorical and predictable necessities spun out in pop music and pop culture, over the last 40 years or more.

Although, on the other foot I remain optimistic that we have reached a bifurcation point of sorts, and humanity will begin to turn back to spontaneous improvisation, better appreciation of dexterity and unique performance skills, and will latch onto the sleeping genius of musicians and artists such as Thelonious Monk and many more, most of who can be found in the works of John Sinclair, if you look. Robert Anton Wilson is another such entity who excretes information-rich links and treasures, read him too.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fly By Night 37: Beat America

Steve The Fly spotlights some of America’s great Beat literary legacy with performances by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and their forebear Ezra Pound, with a musical interlude from Medeski, Martin & Wood.

The John Sinclair Foundation Presents
Fly Agaric Studios, Amsterdam, November 29, 2013 [SFBN-0037]

[01] Jack Kerouac: American Haikus (Excerpt)
[02] Jack Kerouac: Orizaba 210 Blues
[03] Jack Kerouac: McDougal Street Blues
[04] William S. Burroughs: Clem Snide
[05] Jack Kerouac: Bowery Blues
[06] Allen Ginsberg: America
[07] Medeski, Martin & Wood: Illmoan
[08] Jack Kerouac: Washington D.C. Blues
[09] Ezra Pound: Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
[10] Jack Kerouac: Abraham


Produced by Steve “Fly” Pratt for Radio Free Amsterdam

Edited & annotated by John Sinclair

Executive Producer: Sidney Daniels

Sponsored by Ceres Seeds & The Hempshopper, Amsterdam

© 2013 Steve Pratt. Used with permission.





Underground with CHU

(for CHU)

UK Graffiti boss and aerosol virtuoso CHU was busy throughout most of 2013 working on the artwork for the Mohawk album. Fly finally got the the chance to work alongside CHU on a musical project that would see a proper release centered on the poet John Sinclair.

CHU and i spent hundreds of hours over the last 4 years developing a unique platform for interacting with multimedia based upon using 360 degree panoramas.
This work was initiated with help from Matt Black of Coldcut, and the estate of Dr Robert Anton Wilson. was the result and CHU is only scratching the surface of this new medium and what can be achieved making the most of new powerful hand held devices and his skill at hand crafting rich worlds and exciting idea-spaces.

From the beginning of the Mohawk album project CHU and I had the 360 panorama  in mind, and I proposed that the construction of a John Sinclair-themed 360 degree pano' could produce some unique and stunning artwork for a CD, with the added bonus of having an almost infinite variety of variations due to the power of the software, and the equal depth and detail of the artwork. A rare match, and further testament to the multi disciplinary nature of CHU’s work.

Working backwards from the 360 panorama proved to be a great idea, and the final product is out of this word. I reckon it sets the bar for CD album artwork in 2014. As with much of CHU’s work, there is a universe of goings on backstage, sketches and notes, experiments, alternate renders, alternate versions, all in the tradition of the scientific method. CHU does a special unique deep field research on his subject matter, and in the case of Mohawk I was able to observe and marvel and even steer him in a few directions, often backwards.

One of these useful hints came pretty early on in the project when i mentioned the legendary artwork for the album by Thelonious Monk: Underground, that features Monk at the piano in a scene from an underground resistance bunker during World War II.

CHU quickly sourced the cover from the original LP and hit upon the idea of making an extension to Underground, or a retrofitted tribute to that classic album cover, substituting John Sinclair for Monk and flipping the scene to depict John in Detroitus, placed at the typewriter working inside an artist collective headquarters, maybe the Detroit Artists Workshop?

And so the work began, CHU rigged up a room worked out to mimic the dimensions of the space from the Underground L.P and began mapping, remapping and building his own stage set.

CHU invented a location in Detroit, close to the site of the Grande Ballroom, and basically built an entire city block where the Mohawk resistance barbershop would be located. As the project developed he began to deconstruct the scene and apply damage and destruction stylings to reflect the very real and pitiful damage and destruction in Detroit City itself, where hundreds of square miles of once swarming city lie in ruins.
As far as i know, CHU is the pioneer of these unique hand crafted 360 panorama illustrations, and to paraphrase CHU: "It presents for the first time the perfect picture, the proper way to create and view a painting in every direction."

Mohawk CD challenge

The challenge of creating the artwork for the CD Mohawk was reverse engineering the 360 into a cover back and front, an inner sleeve, a booklet and a disc. Plus the addition of texts and standard album details, without detracting too much from the graphical action base.
I think you will agree that the results are stunning and serve as evidence to the success of the idea and the hard work involved in making it real. If you have not seen the artwork which I write of here please follow the links at the end.

The juicy psychedelic color scheme developed by CHU is itself a tribute to the original screen printing dons and innovators, using the full colour spectrum in such a way that it catches the eye instantly invoking rainbow fruits, stretching from ultra violet to infra-red. Even the spine displays a special effect and builds a future friendly identity when viewed from the edge, testament to the attention to detail and forethought of the designer.

The objects within the scene each have a specific meaning and connective story within themselves. One principle for decoding the scene is distinguishing between different forms of media: Reel to reel tape, phonograph, film, photo, type, print, soundwaves etc. All pre-digital and somewhat mechanical or chemical processes. Old school, authentic and meaningful, worn and worthy.

The poetry by John is ten poems taken from his work always know: a book of monk, which features poems to accompany every tune recorded by Thelonious Monk. A work of extreme mental patience and self-evident audacity.

The album scene combines elements from Monk and the original Underground cover, with more objects from the life and works of John Sinclair. For example: