FATTENING BLOGS FOR SNAKES
Entry @ March 14, 2010
ON THE ROAD WITH RADIO FREE AMSTERDAM
Contemplating my journey to the United States from Amsterdam and London starting on my mother’s birthday, January 24, I decided to document my travels by making radio shows at as many stops as possible.
I’m now producing three hours of original programming each week for Radio Free Amsterdam: the John Sinclair Radio Show, podcast every Monday for the past 5-1/2 years, and Sinclair On The Air, broadcast in two one-hour segments every Saturday night at midnight and 1:00 am over Salto Wereld Radio-99.4 FM in Amsterdam.
Starting at the Bohemian National Home in Detroit, where I’m serving as Poet in Residence this spring through the 4/20 holidays, I played an hour of music from the Motor City for Sinclair On The Air 20 and then cut episode 309 of the John Sinclair Radio Show before leaving for New Orleans.
I took the train from Detroit to Chicago and spent a couple of nights there visiting my pals Fritz Kielsmeier and Moon. I made Sinclair On The Air 21 at Fritz’s Standing Ovation studio featuring music from a 3-disc set of Sun Ra productions on Chicago blues and R&B artists in the 1950s. The next day I got Fritz on the mike to talk about his work at Standing Ovation for the John Sinclair Radio Show 310 and played a program of blues classics from Chicago-based artists.
I caught the train for New Orleans at 8:00 pm the next evening and decided to attempt to make a program in my little sleeping berth as we rolled through the Illinois night down to Memphis and then to the Crescent City. The result was Sinclair On The Air 22 with an assortment of music from Chicago, Detroit and the Southland.
When I got to New Orleans I visited my pal Tom Morgan on his Tuesday New Orleans Music Show on WWOZ-FM the week before Mardi Gras to do three hours of our annual Mardi Gras Indian Music Show, now posted in three parts as Detroit Life Radio 126, 127 & 128 (www.DetroitLife313.com).
On Friday night I was across the lake in Covington to play a gig with my pal Carlo Ditta and spend the night at his Orleans Records studio, where I made Sinclair On The Air 23 with an hour of Mardi Gras music from New Orleans.
Sunday was Valentine’s Day and I skipped Indian practice to meet my pal Frenchy the painter at his studio on Oak Street, but we missed our connection and I retreated down the street to make the John Sinclair Radio Show 311 at the Zotz Coffeeshop with another thrilling program of music of the Mardi Gras.
Tuesday was Mardi Gras and I met my Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias at 2nd & Dryades as always, but the Chief is still recuperating from a small series of strokes and had decided not to mask this year, so Big Queen Rita and the rest of the gang honored his wishes and we all took a year off.
I left New Orleans Thursday afternoon on the train to Memphis and made another episode (#24) of Sinclair On The Air in my sleeping berth that evening, playing music from people born and raised along the path of the old Illinois Central, from northern Louisiana through the Mississippi Delta up to Memphis.
Dotty Oliver met me at the train station in Memphis at 10:00 pm with David Kimbrough, Lakisha James and Mariah and drove us to Little Rock, where David and I would present a talk at the Clinton Library School the next afternoon and play a show at the Whitewater Tavern that night. We were lodged in the Peabody Hotel and I made Sinclair On The Air 25 in my room at the Peabody when I got up on Friday, playing music by Arkansas blues, R&B and jazz artists.
On Saturday we ventured west to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a show with Opal Fly & the Pope County Bootleggers at Opal Fly’s Feel Good Lounge in downtown Fayetteville. After the show I got Opal and her husband Foxfire to sit down and talk about their remarkable artistic activities in the middle of Arkansas for the John Sinclair Radio Show 312, adding songs by Opal Fly recorded at Clay Windham’s Easter Hill Studios in Amsterdam Sud-Oost, more music from Arkansas artists and some David Kimbrough numbers with the Juke Joint Boys.
On Monday Dotty drove us back east to drop off Lakisha in Memphis, David in Holly Springs, and me in Oxford, Mississippi, where I would conduct my annual Two Stick residency for the next week and play a show with David Kimbrough at Two Stick that Saturday night. I made Sinclair On The Air 26 at Ron Shapiro’s Main Squeeze Juice Bar in Oxford and Sinclair On The Air 27 on the balcony of Square Books, Oxford’s Literary Center of the South, both shows featuring music from the North Mississippi Hill Country.
After our show at Two Stick on Saturday night I got guitarist Mark “Mule Man” Massey from the Hill Country and guitarist-singer Stacey Mackey from Little Rock on the mike to make the John Sinclair Radio Show 313 with moré recordings by Hill Country musicians.
On Monday afternoon I cut Sinclair On The Air 28 at the Two Stick with a final program of great recordings from the North Mississippi Hill Country, one of my most favorite musical hotbeds where the music continues to bloom from the ancient roots planted by the Chickasaw Nation and watered by the slaves transplanted there from West Africa almost 200 years ago. There’s a pretty good essay on the North Mississippi Hill Country blues and its historical development in my book It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader (Headpress, 2009).
That Tuesday Chad Henson drove me to Memphis and I caught the train to Chicago on my way back to Detroit, making a third Amtrak episode for Sinclair On The Air 29 featuring music from Mississippi and Chicago and points in between. What a thrill it was to listen back to these Amtrak programs and enjoy the sound of the train whistle in the background and the feeling of the train rolling down the track in the middle of the night.
Finally back at the Bohemian National Home in Detroit to begin my six-week stint as Poet in Residence, I got Holice P. Woods, Shaun McDonald and Light Show Bob to come over and cut the John Sinclair Radio Show 314 with a report on their plans to open the Trans-Love Energies Compassionate Care Center in Eastern Market to provide top-quality medical marijuana to patients in Detroit and Michigan, set against a program of music from Detroit past and present.
In the middle of this past week I cut two more hours of the Sinclair On The Air show (30 & 31) from the Bohemian National Home: an hour of music by Detroit women in celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8), and a second hour of music by Charlie Parker in commemoration of his departure from the planet Earth on March 12, 1955.
Now it’s early Sunday morning and later today I’ll make episode 315 of the John Sinclair Radio Show for broadcast on Monday and keep on pushing. All of my programs broadcast by Radio Free Amsterdam may also be heard now on Detroit Life Radio at www.DetroitLife313.com.
Well, they call me the Hardest Working Poet in Show Business, and now I might be the best-traveled radio program host, producer and podcaster in the world of cyberspace as well!
Bohemian National Home, Detroit
March 14, 2010
Detroit: Bohemian National Home, January 27, 2010
Detroit: Bohemian National Home, January 28
Chicago: Standing Ovation Studio, February 4
Chicago: Standing Ovation Studio, February 5
Amtrak—Chicago > New Orleans, February 6
New Orleans: Mardi Gras Indian Show with Tom Morgan on WWOZ
Detroit Life Radio 126 (Part 1), 127 (Part 2), 128 (Part 3), February 9
Covington LA: Orleans Records Studios, February 12
New Orleans: Zotz Coffeeshop, February 14
Amtrak—New Orleans > Memphis, February 18
Little Rock, Arkansas: Peabody Hotel, February 19
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Opal Fly’s Feel Good Lounge, February 21
Oxford, Mississippi: Main Squeeze Juice Bar, February 24
Oxford, Mississippi: Square Books, February 25
Oxford, Mississippi: Two Stick Sushi Bar, February 28
Oxford, Mississippi: Two Stick Sushi Bar, March 1
Amtrak—Memphis > Chicago, March 2
Detroit: Bohemian National Home, March 7
Detroit: Bohemian National Home, March 11
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