Sunday, December 6, 2009

Multiverse Broadcasting with John Sinclair

Multi-verse Broadcasting with John Sinclair. By Fly Agaric 23.

(Part 2, continued from 'on the air with John Sinclair').

Broadcasting is sharing, and John Sinclair is celebrating the Milestone, measurable in Light years of 300 individual shows, crafted over a 5-year period in a plethora of geographical locations dotted across planet oith.

The medium of Radio has been advanced in a number of innovative ways and directions by John, and I think that this five-year creation stands up as evidence. I choose to focus on the radio art-form, and the special language manipulation and cultural design science that is teased out of the art-form of radio here by a radio-scholar-activist.

NOLA to the Dam

I was fortunate to hear John on the air—broadcasting—in New Orleans when I lived there for a year from 2003-2004. His memorable shows on radio WWOZ were the highlight of my dreamy days listening to my $10 radio in a hot and tiny hotel-room just off of Ramparts Street. But I was still ignorant of “DJ John Sinclair”—I just knew that the music he was selecting for his shows was positively eclectic, damn funky and just stood out as the choice selections to capture the spirit of New Orleans. I never met John while in NOLA, but I like to think we may have both been present at a number of shows.

I arrived in Amsterdam March 21st 2007, and after working as a dishwasher for a few months in an Irish-themed pub I became a Bud tender at Coffeeshop 420 where, by some synchronistic spacetime matrix portal, John Sinclair was the poet in residence. It didn’t take long for us to connect through our shared love for good music and good reefer, and New Orleans. After a year or so, my partner Janne and I invited John to stay with us in the Oost of Amsterdam, in what has been now dubbed “fly agaric studios” and where, I’m proud to say, many of the latter 100 shows have been edited, played and recorded, right where I’m sitting right now, today, Thursday 3rd December 2009.

I’m looking at the list of 300 shows made over the last five years and going out of my mind to describe them, define why they’re valuable shared cultural artifacts, why we should listen to them more than once, and why these shows—produced by the individual DJ of the tale of the tribe—communicate more signals than the sum of their parts in that they are created with sharing in heart and mind and directed to music-loving humanity everywhere. The audience of scholar-activists, writers, poets, musicians, fiends and freaks all get their dose of medicine for a nightmare from Radio Free Amsterdam and John Sinclair.

The 18,000-hour radio-matrix

I started to write about just the last 10 shows in the Cannabis Cup series with the initial intention of including the shows and details which I had observed—on the sidelines—to some of these shows created just last week here in Amsterdam.

Now the already epic and encyclopedic ten times 60-minute shows from the Cannabis Cup series have expanded to the whole 300 shows for analysis. That helps to expand the context of my general theme of sharing, and sharing of rich, varied and specially arranged mixed media. Photographs, texts, audio and web-enabled searches make the shared experience of these artifacts interconnect with a rare clarity and architectural mindedness, that for me helps define the shape of the new poetry and poetic thinking methodology—interconnected sharing of language charged to the highest degree.

Broadcasting word-wilde

Recording ’live’ and broadcasting from Tokyo, London, New York, Detroit, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, San Francisco, New Orleans, Oxford Mississippi, Genoa, Utrecht, and places I forget to mention. Introducing each new variation of subtle feedback at each new geographical location, like geographical seasons guiding the musical programming and performance.

John’s freestyle interactive processing is recorded and often broadcast ‘live’ through the web sphere to anyone plugged in, and who has ears. The language and culture from the various cities has been preserved in the shows, paying testament to the well of languages now mixing together throughout the media-sphere and keeping the local rituals intact while introducing new ones—such as Opening Tokes—to each place.

My major criticism of the shows and programming is the imposed limit by John himself of just one John Sinclair track per show, although many of the songs played criss-cross with John’s lyrical poems that have been set to many of these legendary Milestones in Blues, Jazz and Rock & Roll that help define the difference between the pioneers and originators and those who copy and simply recycle what came before—which may still produce beautiful music, but, under closer scrutiny and cultural analysis, the rare originals and innovators and inventors of modern music are here distinguished from the millions of musicians, bands and recordings out there in the swamp-land of the popular work-consume-dichotomy and the general inability to distinguish the differences between Ray Charles and Billy Ray Cyrus, or between Miles Davis and Roy Castle.

Juxtaposition of songs

The careful juxtaposition and hyperlinking of artists’ recordings and live radio-feedback contained within each show continue their networking across scale, be it 10, 30, 100 or the full 300 shows, I intend to explore the interconnections and add whatever notes and links that I feel add to the interactive experience for those like myself who are still discovering old music that simply sounds fresh as a daisy to me, and new music that references various periods and artists, hinting that at the least, as John says: “They heard a good record.”

The foundations of Soul, of Blues, of jazz, Funk, Punk, and beyond, brought together with a pattern integrity, a meaningful arrangement that makes more than the sum of its parts, each show reflects of the other 299 as each word of poetry reflects the others in the book or defined text. With such a musically and textually virulent entity as John Sinclair soaked into the culture-sphere, we have an example of a hologramic system of counter-cultural communication. Listening closely and following the artists and albums unveils a journey around the birth-places and works of most major musical innovators and revolutionaries, in the sense that they wished to pull all humanity into the world of music and the infinite possibilities of imagination captured by harmony, rhythm and that special intention to explore the language of music.

Network Artists

I’ll begin an incomplete list of some artists who I’ve in mind when writing these words about the radio-shows, in no particular order, just artists that strike me as being the guts and scaffolding of the ingenius system of programming:

Robert Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, B.B King, Jimi Hendrix, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Jimmy Reed, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Rashan Roland Kirk, Sun Ra, George Clinton, Fela Kuti, Allen Toussaint, Earl Palmer, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, The MC5, The Clash, The Specials, Lee Scratch Perry, The Rolling Stones, and on...

18,000 minutes, averaging at 60' shows per year, approx. 3000 tracks, and each one selected, introduced and juxtaposed with a Swiss watchmaker’s precision, blended into the totality of the 300. We are celebrating the 300th John Sinclair Radio Show from Radio Free Amsterdam, and I hope that most of you reading this are yet to hear a show and will make the link immediately to

to begin listening to these slice-of-life shows. You may have heard many of these artists before, yet it’s unlikely that you've heard these versions, excursions and delightful cuts that John serves up.

Love & support for local culture

So far I've only mentioned the classic corner pieces of the radio shows, yet each show, along with the tracks featuring the Angel of Detroit himself; John graciously fits in local recordings from wherever he may be and gives a helping-hand to sincere performers and artists, swarming in the cultural surroundings, integrating the founding fathers and mothers of modern music with an unmistakable underground flavour all his own. Plus, we have the current and relative social commentary, scholarly activism and information sharing in between the musical offerings, making the total value of the shows increase threefold in their usefulness and impact on parts of the world not as fortunate as us, here, in the relative Utopia and tolerant civilization achieved in Holland. The broadcasts help spread our optimism and good cheer worked up here—out—into space and to anything with ears that wishes to tune in, turn on and, yeah you right, drop out of the sick and dying mainstream model of radio programming. Free radio, spontaneous, creative, intelligent broadcasting, like uncle Ez sez, “free speech without free radio speech is as zero.”

John continues pushing the envelope as Konscious host with each new program he crafts, exploring such damaged and miss-represented areas of popular culture as the war on some people who use some drugs, the illegal wars of greed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on some people who engage in some cultural activity, the rise of surveillance culture, unrestricted corporatism, and many localized campaigns that fit with the familiar territory to John of free speech, organized non-violent resistance, Gorilla street art, musical performances, shows, festivals—activities that bring like-minded people together in loving shared experiences, and generate the feeling of freedom: to engage in whatever activities you please, just as long as you are not directly harming anybody else, generally, then what’s the problem?

Like the equation at the heart of information entropy, simplified and translated simply to: information = what you cannot predict, In the John Sinclair radio shows we follow the trend of patterns that change and weave creating new connections and reflex arcs of cross-pollination, displaying an internal intelligence that therefore spreads and runs through into the music, the words and each tidy encapsulated broadcast—with a beginning and an end, but with many external links and connective references between shows, spanning the 5-year period.

—Steve Fly
Sent: Fri 12/04/09 7:58 PM. From John Sinclair.

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