Monday, July 24, 2017

Amiri Baraka Lecture: at the Charles H. Wright Museum (2013)





Amiri Baraka is the author of over 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism. He is a poet icon and revolutionary political activist who has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. With influences on his work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements, Baraka is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetics. The movement and his published and performance work, such as the signature study on African-American music, Blues People (1963) and the play Dutchman (1963) practically seeded "the cultural corollary to black nationalism" of that revolutionary American milieu.

Other titles range from Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979) to The Music (1987), a fascinating collection of poems and monographs on Jazz and Blues authored by Baraka and his wife and poet Amina. The Essence of Reparations (2003) is Baraka's first published collection of essays in book form, radically exploring the interrelated issues of racism, national oppression, colonialism, neo-colonialism, self-determination and national and human liberation. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His awards and honors include an Obie, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts grants, Professor Emeritus at the State university of New York at Stony Brook and the Poet Laureate of New Jersey.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit - MOCAD 
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Don Was Revue offers Rebellion at Concert of Colors

John Sinclair performs as part of the Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue Saturday night, July 15, during the Concert of Colors at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall (Photo by Barbara Ingalls)

...and John Sinclair, accompanied by guitarist Jeff Grand and the house band, delivered a lengthy musical poem about the ‘67 riots especially written for the show.
By Gary Graff, The Oakland Press

DETROIT -- “It’s been a good show, hasn’t it?” Motown veteran Carolyn Crawford asked the crowd at Orchestra Hall on Saturday night, July 15.


And when it comes to the annual Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue at the Concert of Colors, that kind of question is purely rhetorical.


Over the past 10 years, Oak Park native Was (nee Fagenson), a Grammy Award-winning producer and musician, has made his Revue a highlight of not only the festival (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) but of the metro area concert calendar in general. Combining established and up-and-coming artists -- as well as a tremendous house band -- Was’ shows have been exhibitions of musical imagination and invention that fans still refer to years later.



Saturday’s theme, “Songs Of Rebellion” -- inspired in part by the 50th anniversary of the Detroit uprising -- was a loose one. The 16 songs hailed mostly from the 60s and 70s and from the R&B realm, with no real commentary during the show to tie things together. Rather, Was and company let the music speak for itself, and if the show ran a bit long at nearly two and a half hours you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that could obviously be taken out of the mix.


Outside of John Lee Hooker’s “Motor City’s Burning” there was surprisingly little in the eclectic set list specifically from Detroit artists -- no Motown or Bob Seger’s “2+2=?,” for instance, that would seem to fit the theme. That said, there was no shortage of killer moments throughout the night. The idea of “best” is relative, but standouts included a moving version of the Staples Singers’ “Respect Yourself” by the Albion duo “The War & Treaty,” an exuberant romp through Johnnie Taylor’s “I Am Somebody” by Detroit stalwarts Melvin Davis and Dennis Coffey, a soulful treatment of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” by the Howling Diablos’ Martin “Tino” Gross and Harmonica Shah,” and a roof-raising rendition of Gregory Porter’s “1960 What?” by the house band -- most of Was’ band Was (Not Was), featuring solos by saxophonist David McMurray and trumpeter Rayce Biggs.


McMurray and Biggs also featured on an extended version of the Roberta Flack/’Eddie McCann & Eddie Davis classic “Compared To What” sung by Malik Alston, while guitarists Brian “Roscoe” White and Randy Jacobs livened the Chi-Lites’ “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People” with solos, Jacobs playing part of his between his legs. Stefanie Christian and Nadir turned Sly & the Family Stone’s “Stand” and the Isley Brothers’ “Fight The Power” into powerhouse vocal showcases, and John Sinclair, accompanied by guitarist Jeff Grand and the house band, delivered a lengthy musical poem about the ‘67 riots especially written for the show. The Tom Robinson Band’s “Power In The Darkness” -- sung by the Layabouts’ Alan Franklin, was an inspired surprise.


Crawford’s performance of “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” the “Black American National Anthem” that dates back to 1899 and tied a fitting bow around a night of provocative message music. As the entire cast on stage for the end of the song, it capped another solid year for Was’ Revue and stoked expectations for next year’s 11th edition.


The Concert of Colors continues Sunday, July 16, in and around Detroit’s cultural center. Admission is free. Visit concertofcolors.com for details.

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/20170716/review-don-was-revue-offers-rebellion-at-concert-of-colors

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Brothers and sisters! Wayne Kramer uploads rare/remastered MC5 footage to YouTube

Without much fanfare, over the last two weeks Wayne Kramer of explosive rock 'n' roll legends the Motor City 5 has uploaded remastered clips of live MC5 performances from 1968 (at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago), 1970 (the blistering Tartar Field show), and 1972 (at a club in Paris). They haven't gotten to the Beat Club TV performance from Bremen, Germany in 1972 yet. But if there is anyway they can improve on the quality of this, that will simply be the best thing on the Internet, ever.

READ ON...


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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Review: John Sinclair - Beatnik Youth Ambient




Rarely does a new record come through our post box with so much historical background than John Sinclair’s latest offering ‘Beatnik Youth Ambient’ on Iron Man Recordings.

John’s legacy is depicted aptly in this content-heavy exploration through ambience, free form Jazz and sound-scape structures. The renegade poet has led a life that few of us would be familiar to. Following the Vietnam war, droves of protests sprung up attacking the Nixon presidency and their handling of the war. Whist the War on Drugs developed it’s motto, debatably as a strategic move for mass incarceration of black Americans (see the documentary 13th for a splendid explanation of this), the White Panthers also founded a movement to attack the poisonous racism and injustice that was being seen. John Sinclair played a pivotal role within this, alongside his group MC5, which then led to his 10 year imprisonment sentence.

His omnipresence was felt by thousands and whilst slogans of ‘Free John Sinclair’ rung from the the crowds, artists like Yoko Ono and John Lennon dedicated songs for his release which duly came in 1971.

On this release, John teamed up with Youth, who’s career spanning 30 years has recently honoured him an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. Youth was Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, and has worked with the likes of Primal Scream, The Orb, The Charlatans and The Verve. The pair teamed up to create this 30 minute tip of the hat to the Beatnik generation.

This isn’t so much a standalone body of music, any more than a recital of a brilliant mind, canvased in awe-inspiring soundscapes.

Opening track ‘Do It’ sets the tone for the release with ruminative dialogue from John, blanketed by some broody synth structures. The maturity of the track sometimes getting lost by gimmicky trigger sampling of his spoken word.

“Out of the darkness of the Second World World, before the soldiers, before the soldiers came back to turn America in to a vast suburban wasteland. Dreamed up by real estate developers with huge dollar signs in the eyes, and nothing at all in their hearts.” John provides us a distopian setting for the introduction of some of the most influential Jazz musicians for generations; Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Kenny Clarke – creativity spawned from traumatic periods. A gesture to the long-heralded relationship between creativity and suffering. Enter Jack Kerouac, and the narrative unfolds into what formed the Beatnik generation.

War on Drugs is a smokers delight, launching a middle finger up at the slogan, whilst humorously drawing parallels between vegetarians and our insatiable desire to declare a war on plants, before inciting some revolutionary mindset with impeccable unease. Things settle down somewhat with the psychedelic lulls of Sitartha that holds your hand on a little journey. Far out.

Beatnik Youth Ambient will be available on Vinyl Mini LP and Digital download from Iron Man Records, releasing 28th July 2017.

http://www.conemagazine.com/john-sinclair/

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John Sinclair will be part of the five-member panel “White Panther Party: A Historic Reunion Commemorating the 1967 Rebellion”

John Sinclair will be part of the five-member panel “White Panther Party: A Historic Reunion Commemorating the 1967 Rebellion” from 2 to 4 p.m. July 15 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Also July 15, The Wright Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave. in Detroit, presents “White Panther Party: A Historic Reunion Commemorating the 1967 Rebellion” from 2 to 4 p.m. This panel features Pun Plamondon, John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair and Genie Parker with moderator Peter Werbe, discussing the anti-racist, anti-imperialist white American political collective founded in response to the 12th Street riot.
http://downriversundaytimes.com/2017/06/01/25th-concert-of-colors-looks-back-forward-around-the-world-via-music-film-dialogue/


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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Motor City's Burning - Detroit from Motown to the Stooges (Part 3)


Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval.
In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit's inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America.With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5.
Full Documentary here:


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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Belle Isle Love-In

As seemingly everybody gears up to mark 50 years since Detroit erupted in what is described as a "riot," and "uprising," and a "rebellion," we risk forgetting one of the signature events in the run-up to that hot week in July: The Belle Isle Love-In. 

What's a "Love-In"? For those who don't know, it's a peaceful kind of protest that involves meditation, lovemaking, and a sprinkling of illicit substances. The term was coined by a Los Angeles radio personality, and a wave of Love-Ins quickly swept the country, as hippies sought inventive ways to protest the Vietnam War and have a little fun at the same time. 

The prime movers here in Detroit were John Sinclair and his confreres at the Detroit Artists Workshop, who obtained a permit for said event from none other than the Detroit Police Department. And on April 30, 1967, thousands of hippies and fellow travelers arrived on the island for several hours of singing, dancing, and probably a little bit of doobie-smoking as well.
http://www.metrotimes.com/city-slang/archives/2017/04/28/fifty-years-ago-this-weekend-the-belle-isle-love-in

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