Sunday, April 27th, 2008

New Orleans and Randy Newman’s "Louisiana 1927"

It’s Jazzfest weekend, and Geoffrey Himes offers an unexpectedly poignant tribute to John Boutte, the Nevilles, the Wild Magnolias, but most of all, to Randy Newman’s “Lousiana 1927”:

“It’s a New Orleans tradition that you can take any music and mess with it,” said Bruce Boyd Raeburn, the curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University. The key lyric is “They’re tryin’ to wash us away,” he said, because it is applicable to most periods of New Orleans history. “It captures that feeling that you’re trying to cling on to your culture, to your life, in the face of this wave of indifference, of racism, of malevolence and of water itself.”

Here’s yet another Sunday prayer going out to the Gulf Coast survivors of Katrina and Hurricane Bush wherever you may be.

Thanks to Ned Sublette.

posted by @ 8:31 am | 3 Comments

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

R.I.P. Robert Reed of Trouble Funk

I’m sorry I missed this news when it broke, but it’s important to let the rest of the world know: one of the giants of go-go and breakbeat music has passed. Robert “Syke Dyke” Reed–the founder, keyboardist, and one of the primary songwriters of the mighty mighty Trouble Funk band–passed on April 13 due to pancreatic cancer.

I was turned onto T-Funk during the early 80s via cassettes, and the sound of Reed’s space-invaders style keyboard attacks (you can hear him going nuts on this Arkade Funk record) that would inevitably key one of T-Funk’s massive breakdowns remain to me some of the most exciting moments in any music I’ve ever heard.

Dyke was a teacher, who kept on sharing his love of music with students across the District and at Bowie State University until the end, and he was an effusive interview, always ready to talk about the evolution of go-go music and his band’s legacy.

Rest in power, Dyke, we’ll see you when we get there.

Check these…

+ Tributes to Syke Dyke at

+ Ben Sisario’s obit in the New York Times

+ Trouble Funk’s page

+ Buy Henry Rollins’ reissues of T-Funk’s very first records, including the monumental live set from 1982!

+ A Daily Press obit that cites one of my early enthusiastic reviews of the band

posted by @ 7:05 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

White Voters, Obama, and The 15% Nation

Riffing on this great post from Ferentz

This past Monday before the Penn primary, Roger Simon @ cited a convo with an unnamed Republican leader who put a number on the effect that racism would have on Barack Obama’s candidacy: 15% of white voters would not vote for him because he’s Black.

Simon cited an AP poll that revealed the striking coincidence that 15% of voters thought he was Muslim. He also noted that the same poll allowed that 8% of whites admitted they’d never vote for Obama because he was Black. Simon figured that the number could have been underreported–by half.

Turns out that Republican’s number–15%–might be just about on point.

After Hillary’s big win last night, the NY Times reported this:

The results of the exit poll, conducted at 40 precincts across Pennsylvania by Edison/Mitofsky for the television networks and The Associated Press, also found stark evidence that Mr. Obama’s race could be a problem in the general election. Sixteen percent of white voters said race mattered in deciding who they voted for, and just 54 percent of those voters said they would support Mr. Obama in a general election; 27 percent of them said they would vote for Mr. McCain if Mr. Obama was the Democratic nominee, and 16 percent said they would not vote at all.

So there it is. The numbers are consistent with the AP Poll–about 8% of white voters told exit pollers they would switch to McCain or stay home rather than vote for Obama. Exit polling, of course, is also subject to underreporting.

Assuming the general election is at least as racially fractious as this past month has been, we now know not only that Obama must overcome, we know roughly what the number is that he has to overcome–it’s no less than 8% and possibly up to 15%.

posted by @ 11:46 am | 0 Comments

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Join Us This Weekend For The Jumpoff!

Come join us Tuesday night in Loudonville at Siena College.

And then I’m ending this spring 2008 tour with a big bang, something like the culmination of 4 or 5 years with the ever-growing crew of geniuses.

It’ll be going down in Madison, see what I’m saying? Also, lots of other surprise guests not on the flyers will be in the house.

Click below to download the whole flyer…

posted by @ 6:37 pm | 1 Comment

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

And If You’re In NYC…

posted by @ 6:34 pm | 0 Comments

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Me And Gnarls B.

Photo: Scott Gries/Getty

Here’s my piece on Gnarls Barkley in today’s NY Times.

Of course we had to leave out a lot of great stuff. Here’s some extras:

* “St. Elsewhere” sold about 3 million copies worldwide. So the buzz on the record in the industry almost outstripped that on the street.

Last summer, Billboard Magazine seemed to capture the feelings of a hit-starved industry when it featured Gnarls on its cover trumpeting “Christmas In July” and touting “The Odd Couple” as the most anticipated album of the fourth-quarter. When Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse failed to deliver either a single or an album by then—the two said they needed more time to polish—no one would have been surprised to find panic in the halls of Atlantic.

Instead, chairman and CEO Craig Kallman seemed comfortable with letting the group finish the record. At a time when one-hit wonders are ascendant and album sales are declining, Kallman agreed that decision was “against the current”. He added, “I think, for us, having gnarls achieve their goals, we can only do this in a way that looks at [their music] in a very traditional sense, as a body of work, as a full-length album.”

* In their riotous videos and stylized performances, they’ve played with what Times writer Nate Chinen calls “miserable exuberance”. The naked lechery of “Gone Daddy Gone”, for instance, became a Kafkaesque cartoon featuring Cee-Lo as a smitten bug whose object of affection, a housewife of the spotless suburban New Frontier, is holding the can of Raid. Even as the green cloud descends, he wears a smile that can light up a room. At the MTV Movie Awards, Cee-Lo performed “Crazy” without the Vader helmet on. He was unmasking the song’s rage and hurt, while wearing a big black cape.

* Their first collabo was on a Jemini song about cars & rims.

* “Surprise” is based on a Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood sample…!

* “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?” was premiered in late February via a short-lived Youtube video featuring ?uestlove lip-synching the lyrics.

* The quotable Cee-Lo, part 1: “In actuality, [Gnarls Barkley is] probably one of the most innocent things I’ve ever done. I don’t mind saying there’s quite a bit of humanity in it. But it’s equal parts superhero too. All of us can relate to Bruce Wayne’s story as opposed to being in some laboratory and getting bit by a spider. You see what I’m saying?”

* The uncensored Cee-Lo, part 2: “If there was a formula to it, I would cut this interview short and go to the studio. I would be such an asshole!”

Here’s the piece. Enjoy…:

ON a late February afternoon Gnarls Barkley, the duo known for its funny costumes and psychedelic post-hip-hop sound, was unmasked and at rest at a quiet hotel in Beverly Hills. Cee-Lo Green, the short, heavily tattooed singing and lyric-writing half, had just finished a snack of sushi. Danger Mouse, the tall, scruffy producing half, was wiping sleep from his eyes after a head-down nap on a marble table.

They were pondering how their second album, “The Odd Couple,” then unreleased, might be received, given the buzz that it was a good deal weirder and darker than their million-selling debut, “St. Elsewhere” from 2006.

“It’s going to be a surprise for me,” said Danger Mouse, 30, whose real name is Brian Burton, in a baritone you might hear on late-night soul radio. “It may be really big or really modest, I don’t know.”

Clues came much more quickly than the two probably expected…

Read the whole thing here.

posted by @ 4:42 am | 3 Comments

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

April 1st SHOCKER :: Hip-Hop Started In Texas

Dr. Frank Rochester says forget The Bridge, bring the bulls.

According to this professor, the real deal is in the rodeo. Yes, R. Kelly is always on to something.

posted by @ 11:25 am | 0 Comments

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