Saturday, April 22, 2017

Walter 'Wolfman' Washington and the Roadmasters in Holland


Performing on Friday 9 June 2017...
Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington is an icon on the New Orleans jazz scene. As a teenager, the singer and guitarist was asked to play with Lee Dorsey’s band. He later became an established name in the group of Johnny Adams for twenty years and was a sideman for singer Irma Thomas. In the sixties, he formed his own band, the All Fools Band, with which he played the New Orleans clubs. In the next decennium he formed The Roadmasters and toured with them through Europe. His first solo album Rainin’ In My Heart was released in 1981. Washington is able to mix New Orleans rhythm & blues with soul, funk, urban blues, and jazz in his own unique way. A little like Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Kenny Burrell, and George Benson, but with a heavy dose of New Orleans. He’s an extraordinary blues artist who combines the best of the rich American music history with his own, contemporary performance.


Friday, April 7, 2017

The John Sinclair Radio Show (Episode 699) - Hash Bash Cup

John Sinclair Radio Show: Hash Bash Cup
Episode 699 is coming from the Wyndham Gardens Hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan (misstakenly identified as Wyndham Hill Suites Motel in the program itself), and formerly the Clarion Hotel, site of the first annual Hash Bash Cup organized by Adam Brook to coincide with the annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, now in its 46th year on the first Saturday of April every year. This year, like the first in 1972, Hash Bash Saturday fell on April Fool’s Day, but we’re not fooling here with our interview with Adam Brook—who appeared on Episode 1 of the John Sinclair Radio Show in 2004, 699 tradio hours ago!—and music by John Boutte, Anders Osborne & Bill Kreutzmann, and Allen Toussaint from The Musical Mojo Of Dr. John: Celebrating Mac And His Music produced by Don Was, Dr. John himself, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Corky Siegel & Different Voices, and a recently transferred selection by the great Detroit band called Griot Galaxy from 1978.
The John Sinclair Foundation Presents
Hash Bash Cup, Wyndham Gardens, Ann Arbor, April 1, 2017 [20-0714]
[01] Opening Theme: Yusef Lateef: Happyology
[02] John Sinclair ID, Intro & Opening Comments
[03] John Boutte: Let’s Make A Better World
[04] Dr. John: Qualified
[05] Anders Osborne & Bill Kreutzmann: Somebody Changed The Lock
[06] Allen Toussaint: Life
[07] Dr. John: Black Widow Spider
[08] John Sinclair Comments
[09] Muddy Waters: Little Girl
[10] James Cotton: It Aint Right
[11] Corky Siegel: I’ll Fly Away
[12] John Sinclair Closing Comments & Outro
[13] Griot Galaxy: Second Selection from Paradise Theater with Intr
[14] Closing Theme: Charlie Parker: They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Hosted by John Sinclair for Radio Free Amsterdam
Produced, recorded & assembled by John Sinclair
Executive Producer: Steve Pratt
Special thanks to Imani, Joel Landy, Beyonce ZSinclair, Ben Horner, Adam Brook & Third Coast, and the Macpodz
Sponsored by Hempshopper & Ceres Seeds, Amsterdam
© 2017 The John Sinclair Foundation

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Poet/pot activist John Sinclair comes briefly home, still paying dues in 'Trumpville’

Review: Poet/pot activist John Sinclair comes briefly home, still paying dues in “Trumpville’
John Sinclair at Totem Books. Photo by Jan Worth-Nelson 

By Jan Worth-Nelson

Of course, the reading at Totem Books was scheduled to start at 4:20, cannabis lovers’ cocktail hour, but traffic out of Detroit on a rainy Thursday held him up. The crowd, many in ponchos, chunky jewelry, braids, flannel shirts and gray beards, looked like they could have been at Woodstock — that is, like me, they were of a certain age. The mellow group hanging out at the counter, sipping lattes and hot chocolates and, it sounded like, remembering the old days — didn’t seem to mind that John Sinclair, Flint-born pot celebrity of so many years ago, was running late.

But when he did finally arrive, slipping quickly into the men’s room before his reading, the crowd recognized him at once and flooded him with cheers and applause. The fondness of the old hippies — and a few youngsters, sporting their own look of pierced lips and multi-colored tattoos — for their icon of 60s pot activism and all that it brought with it — warmed the room.

For my generation, what Sinclair experienced and what he stood for remains strongly etched in memory. In 1969, after delivering two joints — barely enough marijuana to fit in a tablespoon — to an undercover cop, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was 28.

The severity of his sentence sent shock waves through the Boomer generation and drew high-profile attention. Most dramatically, John Lennon wrote a song for him and performed it at a huge concert, dubbed “The John Sinclair Freedom Rally” at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor in December, 1971 as Sinclair listened, glued to a radio in his cell. Three days later, after two and a half years, he was freed after the Michigan State Supreme Court ruled the state’s marijuana laws unconstitutional.

Now Sinclair is 75, now an old man with a still-strong raspy blues voice. His body has changed and he’s been through a lot. But his youthful past is still formidably present, and marijuana — a daily pleasure, a lifetime devotion, that embattled plant inextricably bound up in politics and culture — remains a central, even dominating, feature of his life.

There is, of course, more to Sinclair’s life than that. He was born in Flint but grew up in Davison. His father came in to Flint to work at Buick every day, and Sinclair recalls begging his dad to stop at two North End records stores (Ernie’s Record Rack #1 on Leith Street and Ernie’s Record Rack #2 on St. John St. — both owned by colorful local DJ Ernie Durham, nicknamed “The Frantic One” ) to invest Sinclair’s two dollar weekly allowance on Howlin’ Wolf, the Clovers, Young Jesse, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and many more.

In his early twenties, he lived in Flint, taking classes at UM – Flint, then called Flint Junior College. He briefly shared an apartment with UM – Flint professor Bill Redhead above a pizza joint at Davison Road and Dort Highway across from what was then the Night Owl Coney Island.

But at 24, he took off for Detroit. (In his 1978 essay “I Just Wanna Testify,” he writes, “I came to Detroit in 1964 for the same reason young men have always abandoned the boondocks for the big city: that’s where the action was, and I was desperate to be in the middle of it.”)

Before the arrest and notorious imprisonment, he was manager of the incendiary rock band the MC-5. He founded the Detroit Artists Workshop and spent much of the 60s doing underground journalism, and organizing free concerts, rallies and radical benefits. Close colleague of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the Yippies, he was founder of the White Panther party — later renamed the Rainbow Peoples Party — who preached revolution and whose founding documents focused on “total assault on the culture.”

He published two books from prison and since has added poetry collections and 15 CDs. As a deeply passionate jazz performer and aficionado, he has written widely about jazz and blues greats including John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Dr. John, and of course, the MC5. He has been a DJ, an adjunct professor, an arts manager and concert producer. He has performed solo and with his former group the Blues Scholars. And after a lifetime as an itinerant troubadour and activist, he still divides his time between Detroit, New Orleans and Amsterdam, where a potent strain of Dutch marijuana was named in his honor in 2006.

A re-issue of Sinclair’s book It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader, came out in 2015 from Horner Books; Ben Horner also is Sinclair’s local agent, publisher of the monthly Michigan Medical Marijuana Report and owner of the first medical marijuana dispensary in Flint.

So Sinclair has not been resting on his five-leafed laurels. Still, there’s something poignant about it all — about him.

“All my life I’ve paid and paid,” he began, opening his Flint reading with an old poem titled “everything happens to me.”

“All my life I’ve paid
& paid, until my dues card
is punched up
on all 4 sides.
a child
of relative privilege who chose
to ‘take the way
of the lowest’ in most things —

race traitor & renegade,
dope fiend,
poet provocateur
living from hand to mouth
and euro to euro
sleeping on the couches
& extra beds of my friends…”

Sinclair’s second poem — he asked listeners if they would mind if he sat down for it, and they offered a chorus of sympathetic yesses — also seemed to resonate strongly with the crowd, who along with me sort of sighed with collective memory. It was called “You had to be there:” It’s a big long prose poem, but here is how it starts:

“You had to be there. The stiff crust of the American social order was cracking open. Black people were moving for social and political equality in a big, inspirational way…”

He continues describing how white people were discovering the blues, hippies refused to cut their hair, resisted the draft, lived in communes, how poetry and art and music were at an all time high point and “giants of every artistic discipline walked the earth,” the music of the time “spelled out in fiery notes and relentless rhythms and ceaseless intelligence” and “you had to be there to stand under the music and understand what it was telling you.”

And it ends, “You had to be there. I was there. I had to be there. That was exactly where it was at, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

It was enough to propel a middle-class kid out of Davison and send him on an idiosyncratic journey like no other.

At the 501 Grille afterwards, waiting for a cup of coffee that never seemed to come, Sinclair sank into his chair and pulled out the Freep, gasping at the news that Westinghouse is declaring bankruptcy. I offered up a few tentative questions.

“In that first poem you read, ‘everything happens to me,’ is that still true of you?” I asked.

“It is where I’m at,” he replied. “Oh yeah.”

“So you’ve stood up for justice — it feels like the times are not on our side.”

“We are in Trumpville now, look out,” he said, bemoaning how Obama had been obstructed at every step of the way.

“The people insisted — they wanted this idiot, this know-nothing, to be their leader. What can I do? Nothing. I’ve been through it… It don’t matter so much to me because I don’t know if I can live through it, I really can’t worry about it, because I don’t know how much time I’ve got. I really don’t see myself as being an inhabitant of the future. If I am, I’ll be a lucky motherfucker.”

“Do you feel optimistic about life?”

“For mine, yes, but for the people, no. I feel bad for them.”

“What should the people be doing?”

“They should be doing whatever they want,” Sinclair said, “but they should have something with some ideas in it, instead of the horseshit they’re giving them — the art, music, movies– it’s all so horrible — I’m just glad I know better.”

“I came up in the era when you were looking for something distinctive, original, different — so I’ve concentrated on those things,” he said.

After the java and a bowl of seafood bisque finally materialized, he ate it quickly and settled in to work on a crossword puzzle, while the others at the table talked about the medical marijuana dispensary scene in Flint. Maybe he was saving up his strength for a performance at Churchill’s to come — he didn’t have a lot to say. After downing some blackened salmon, he really only wanted dessert. But his manager said it was time to head to the next gig, and he settled for two bites of cheesecake from somebody else’s plate.

EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at janworth1118 @


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spiritual for John Coltrane (live at Hash Bash 2017)

Footage from 'Mlive' of John Sinclair addressing the tens of thousands of people at the annual Hash Bash 2017.

John recites his poem 'Spiritual for John Coltrane'.


More than 10,000 attend Hash Bash...

More than 10,000 attend Hash Bash, call for Michigan marijuana legalization

By Ryan Stanton @

ANN ARBOR, MI - The message at the 46th annual Hash Bash rally in Ann Arbor was clear: "Free the weed!"

Efforts are underway to put the question of legalizing marijuana in Michigan on the statewide ballot in 2018, and speakers ranging from local politicians to longtime cannabis activists lined up to voice support.

The message was embraced by thousands of pot enthusiasts who filled the University of Michigan's Central Campus Diag on a sunny Saturday afternoon, April 1, many of them lighting up joints and filling the area with smoke.

Some who've been coming to Hash Bash for years said it was the largest crowd they could remember seeing at the annual event on the Diag. UM campus police who were on hand estimated more than 10,000 people attended.

There were some late changes to the speakers lineup. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and former Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty said they couldn't make it, and state Sen. Coleman Young II didn't show, either.

But the crowd still heard from several other speakers, including former NFL player Eugene Monroe, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, and Ann Arbor City Council Members Jack Eaton and Jason Frenzel, among others such as former Hash Bash organizer Adam Brook and John Sinclair, whose imprisonment for marijuana possession decades ago (and subsequent release after the Michigan Supreme Court overturned his sentence) led to the first Hash Bash in 1972.

"We still have the task of freeing the weed from the police bureaucracy, the courts, the governor and all these idiots," Sinclair said on Saturday. "Now that we're all residents of Trumpville, it's going to be even harder. We'll be lucky to be able to stand up in public a year from now if Trump's still there. This is not what they're looking for in the great America they're talking about."

Former state Rep. Jeff Irwin, a Democrat from Ann Arbor who is working as the political director for the newly formed Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, briefly took the stage during Saturday's rally.

The coalition has released draft language for a ballot proposal it hopes to put before voters in November 2018 to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older and tax it at the wholesale level, in addition to state sales tax, and give people convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes a path to clear their records.

Rabhi, who recently took over Irwin's seat in the state House, said it was an honor to be a part of this year's Hash Bash.

"You know, some communities have a chicken broil, some communities have a tulip festival. In Ann Arbor, we have Hash Bash," he said.

Rabhi said the war on drugs has been a failure and has cost many millions of taxpayer dollars spent locking up the wrong people, hindering their ability to get jobs after they've been criminally convicted. He said it's a race war against people of color and is being used to target minority communities.

"And that is unacceptable," he said, speaking in support of a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Michigan.

"I'm here with you today because the reality is, whether you like it or not, people are using marijuana, and so the prohibition, it doesn't work. And so what we need to be doing is looking at ways to decriminalize and legalize, so that we can ensure that everybody is using marijuana safely. It is about safe usage."

Rabhi said legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and taxing it would bring in new state revenue for schools, roads and other infrastructure.

Eaton, a Democrat who represents Ann Arbor's 4th Ward on the City Council, said the city decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s and hasn't seen more crime because of it. He called it a positive public policy.

"We're going to continue in Ann Arbor to insist that people be free to use marijuana without serious consequence. We're going to continue in Ann Arbor to fight to make sure that marijuana is legalized in all of Michigan," he said.

Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for UM's Division of Public Safety and Security, said campus police arrested one person for possession of marijuana at Hash Bash, confiscated marijuana from four or five others, and issued two traffic citations, while one person was taken to UM's emergency department for excessive drug intake.

Lissa Satori, a grassroots organizer who recently moved to Michigan from Ohio and is coordinating the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, said signature collection for the group's ballot initiative is beginning in May. She said they've got the money to do it and they're pulling the trigger.

"We're going to turn this state into the craft state for cannabis and create places for people who are currently caregivers in the medical system and for everyday small businesses in Michigan to be able to flourish in this market," she said.

Satori said about 20,000 people are arrested for marijuana in Michigan every year and the initiative, if successful, could put an end to that.

Multiple speakers at the rally alluded to divisions within the Michigan marijuana legalization movement and encouraged unification.

There have been some disagreements over draft ballot language and organizers of a separate group known as MI Legalize, which was behind a previous legalization effort that fell short in 2016 because of invalidated petition signatures, have their own plans for a 2018 ballot initiative.

Chuck Ream, a retired kindergarten teacher and longtime marijuana activist in Ann Arbor, said he helped put together MI Legalize, but now he's "totally on board" with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, "because I'm sure they can win legalization and they are good people."

Ream said he hopes the two groups can unify. He said cannabis policy will continue to evolve as voters see there is nothing to fear and much to gain.

"After legalization, we will keep on pushing until we someday have free, legal, backyard marijuana. We have worked, we have waited. We have suffered for too long to screw this up now," he said.

"We have seen our people arrested and fined and jailed, their property confiscated, their children taken away, their student loans prevented, their housing denied, their driver's licenses taken away, promising lives wrecked," Ream continued. "We will have legalization in 2018. The only question is whether we are united or divided. We could fairly easily sail to victory in 2018 under the umbrella of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol."

Ream told those in the crowd it's their sacred duty to win.

"We will bring our healing, miracle plant to this desperate planet. And I say power -- power to the great ganja plant and to all of her children and disciples. Right on," he said, raising his fist in the air.

Eaton told the crowd it's important to vote in local, state and national elections to make sure the right people are elected.

He suggested Donald Trump's administration, with Jeff Sessions as the new U.S. attorney general, isn't going to be friendly to the cause of marijuana legalization, which Sessions opposes. The White House has said it expects law enforcement agents to enforce federal marijuana laws when they come into conflict with states where recreational use of marijuana is permitted.

"In Washington, we have a new attorney general, and he can come to Michigan and get a list of everybody who's registered as a medical marijuana user and your address," Eaton said. "So I'm here to tell you that it's not just local elections, it's not just referendums. It's every (expletive) election, you have to vote."

Eaton said Michigan has to deliver the vote in national elections so that in Washington "our voices are heard and we don't end up with these Nazis coming out to knock on our door and drag us away for medical marijuana."

Frenzel, a Democrat who represents Ann Arbor's 1st Ward on the City Council, said he has friends who use medical marijuana to treat their ailments and to reduce their use of harder drugs and have a higher quality of life.

"My goal is to make sure that our laws here continue to support the dozen dispensaries we have in town and the tens of thousands of visitors that we have to our city, and to make sure that those folks who come to visit those dispensaries are safe and have quality product that meets their medical needs," he said. "It is critically important to our industry and to our people."

On a personal note, Frenzel said a couple of his family members attended the first Hash Bash 45 years ago, and he remembers when the fine for marijuana possession in Ann Arbor was $5 when he was in high school.

Irwin read aloud a letter from U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, whom Irwin called one of the strongest advocates in Congress for marijuana legalization.

"Times are crazier than ever in Congress, but one thing that is becoming less controversial every year is cannabis," Irwin said, reading the congressman's statement to mark the occasion of Hash Bash.

"We recently launched a united front for reform with the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus and we are gaining momentum. There is also unprecedented interest and civic engagement. I encourage you to embrace this energy to get more people involved in your fight to legalize and regulate marijuana in Michigan, and I pledge to continue my work in Congress to remove the federal barriers standing in our way. I look forward to being your partner in ending the failed war on drugs once and for all, and I hope to join you in Michigan in the near future."


Chasing Train - Documentary Trailer

Chasing Trane:

Set for wide release in 2017, CHASING TRANE is the definitive documentary film about an outside-the-box thinker with extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This smart, passionate, thought-provoking and uplifting documentary is for anyone who appreciates the power of music to entertain, inspire and transform.

Written and directed by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson…?) the film is produced with the full participation of the Coltrane family and the support of the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog. Scheinfeld brings his strong story-telling skills to the creation of a rich, textured and compelling narrative that takes the audience to unexpected places.

Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, CHASING TRANE brings John Coltrane to life as a fully dimensional being, inviting the audience to engage with Coltrane the man, Coltrane the artist.