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Weekend Photos

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 14, 2009 One Comment

Joe’s Taco Lounge, Mill Valley.

 

Trash, Pt. Reyes Station.

 

K’naan, Harmony Festival.

 

Techno-Tribal, Grace Pavilion.

 

Vivona, on his shit.

 

Killah Priest, an unexpected highlight.

 

Eddy & Fillmore, San Francisco.

 

Sun Ra, the Magic City.

 

V.C. Johnson, no one like him.

K'naan Re-Records "Wavin' Flag" for Coca-Cola

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 11, 2009 One Comment

When K’naan comes to the Harmony Festival for two nights in Santa Rosa, tonight and tomorrow, he’ll be fresh from re-recording his song “Wavin’ Flag” for . . . Coke?!

Um, really?

Forget for a while about Coca-Cola’s storied history with Somalia, or the fact that Somalian English teachers say they want to destroy the Coca-Cola plant in Mogadishu for “generating hard currency for our worst enemy.”

See, for me, one of the production letdowns of Troubadour was K’naan’s recording of “Wavin’ Flag,” complete with a melodramatic string arrangement. Listen to what it sounded like last year, live at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francsico:

Pretty basic, stripped-down hip hop. Unlike the syrupy album version, it doesn’t sound like the soundtrack for an uplifting Bette Midler film. It also doesn’t sound like “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” nor does it bear likeness to a certain Beatles song:

Admittedly, all things considered, this is a pretty minor concern. At least K’naan hasn’t completely lost his mind. I’ll see you there this weekend.

K’naan Re-Records “Wavin’ Flag” for Coca-Cola

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 11, 2009 One Comment

When K’naan comes to the Harmony Festival for two nights in Santa Rosa, tonight and tomorrow, he’ll be fresh from re-recording his song “Wavin’ Flag” for . . . Coke?!

Um, really?

Forget for a while about Coca-Cola’s storied history with Somalia, or the fact that Somalian English teachers say they want to destroy the Coca-Cola plant in Mogadishu for “generating hard currency for our worst enemy.”

See, for me, one of the production letdowns of Troubadour was K’naan’s recording of “Wavin’ Flag,” complete with a melodramatic string arrangement. Listen to what it sounded like last year, live at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francsico:

Pretty basic, stripped-down hip hop. Unlike the syrupy album version, it doesn’t sound like the soundtrack for an uplifting Bette Midler film. It also doesn’t sound like “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” nor does it bear likeness to a certain Beatles song:

Admittedly, all things considered, this is a pretty minor concern. At least K’naan hasn’t completely lost his mind. I’ll see you there this weekend.

Sebastopol: Party People in the Place to Be

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 8, 2009 3 Comments

DJ Vadim is gonna be at Hopmonk’s Juke Joint this Thursday, and although his last few records have been heavy on the reggae tip, I wholeheartedly recommend getting thy ass down there and checking it out. Born in Russia, raised in London, and now living in New York, Vadim’s style is a true cross-cultural hybrid; his series of USSR albums on Ninja Tune bridge in the most perfect way the worlds of hip-hop and electronica, and feature mostly rappers from outside of the United States. I am listening to USSR: The Art of Listening right now, and feeling good.

I stopped by the Guayakí Mate Bar a couple weekends ago to catch the Highlands and the Semi-Evolved Simians, where Celeste and her dad David have started putting on shows. The setup’s great: A cafe and coffee bar in the front and the “Aché Room”—a resplendent name for a venue if ever there was one—in the back. It is wider than it is deep, which is good for bands who don’t exactly draw 300 people, and being right next to the now-desolate Barlow Co. assists for nighttime walks between bands. The Crux played there last weekend; the owner’s planning on booking more shows in the future.

I talked to Noah D today, who’s getting married soon and is feeling the down-home spirit of friends, family and funk. He’s starting a weekly night at Aubergine called “The Dial Up.” I like the name. He doesn’t. The first night’s this Tuesday, June 16, featuring all vinyl—no CDJs, no Serato. The flyer promises Funk Essentials, Hip-Hop Slumpers, Big Reggae Tunes, Soul Boulders, Dancehall Gems and R&B Classics. I’m not sure what a “slumper” is, but A Tribe Called Quest might be a good signpost. Future nights will feature Nick Otis; a pay-the-bills ’80s Night; and Noah’s inventive hip-hop group, Sonicbloom.

Add to all of this Monday Night Edutainment over at Jasper O’Farrell’s still going strong, and the story of nightlife in Sonoma County in 2009 starts with an S and ends with an L. Somehow Sebastopol has gotten nightlife figured out, while Santa Rosa continues to have problems with live music.

This might also be a good time to mention Hillcrest Middle School in Sebastopol, whose marching band were given the chance to perform a song in the Apple Blossom Parade of their own choosing by their teacher, Mr. Fichera. Q: What did the students pick? A: “Love Lockdown,” by Kanye West! Fichera arranged it for marching band in about three hours, and the song’s huge drum cadence never sounded more amazing than bouncing off the buildings of Main Street on a Saturday morning.

Live Review: Abdullah Ibrahim at Yoshi's

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 8, 2009

Despite that fact that most of Abdullah Ibrahim’s performance last night was a 50-minute, uninterrupted medley of themes largely in the same key and slow tempo, admiration was the prevailing response over boredom. To the uninitiated, the incessant piece seemed like the piano equivalent of stumbling into Guitar Center and hearing the omnipresent Dude Who Plays Unending Blues Riffs; Ibrahim would play a melody for a minute or two, change gears, play a different one in the same key for four minutes, change gears again and so on. Sound dull? To Ibrahim’s many fans who filled Yoshi’s in San Francisco, it was a celebration of a rich life and an underdog career.

Born in South Africa, Ibrahim’s music is inextricably linked with the political struggles of his homeland (Ibrahim’s composition “Mannenberg” was the first music Nelson Mandela heard in decades). He grew up amidst upheaval, was discovered by Duke Ellington, moved to Europe and lived in exile until returning to his home country after the fall of Apartheid. His latest album, Senzo, is a solo recording almost identical to last night’s concert: a pensive outing and essentially a 1,224-bar blues with so many chord changes that each resolution to the root seemed like a triumph.

Ibrahim said no words to the crowd, only bowing with palms together before sitting down and showing that he has aged in the best possible way. His playing could never go completely New Age or into the realm of post-Bill Evans fluidity. Ocassional four-fingered, octaved arpeggios recalled Jaki Byard, and at times his use of discord rivaled Paul Bley’s Closer. Snippets of “Memories of You” or “Round Midnight” crept into his playing, but for the most part it was all Ibrahim: a man no longer nimble, full-bodied or particularly fast at the keys, but a man playing as breathing proof that emotion and experience trumps technique.

Live Review: Abraham Burton at the Malcolm X Jazz & Arts Festival

Posted by Gabe Meline on Jun 1, 2009

The Malcolm X Jazz and Arts Festival is a sprawling celebration of the life and teachings of Malcolm X, spread out over a large field and four tennis courts at San Antonio Park in an area of East Oakland known more for the nightly news than for daytime festivals. Sunday’s celebration marked the ninth year of honoring Malcolm X’s life and message, and the positive vibe throughout the park was one of community empowerment and self-esteem. The lineup, too, was outstanding, with two of the finest living tenor players in the world today, David Murray and Howard Wiley.

Around the perimeter, numerous booths and soapbox stages broadcast the message of self-determination. A banner with a cleverly modified BART ticket paid respects to Oscar Grant. The food court adjoined a popular hip-hop stage with mostly younger dancers, bands and MCs. A skateboarding and graffiti court was filled with murals, some painted on cardboard, some painted on car hoods. A large memorial for Richard Masato Aoki stood between the park stages, where festival co-founder Marcel Diallo’s collective group Black New World alternated on the flatbed truck stage with headlining acts.

With all this activity, it pays to get there early. We arrived at San Antonio Park with a good four hours left of the day’s festivities, but would find we’d already missed David Murray and Howard Wiley. Murray I’ve seen before in New York, but Wiley lives up to his sly surname; I interviewed the brawny tenor player five years ago, but I’m 0-for-3 on seeing him live.

Little did we know what was in store—a welcome surprise in the form of Abraham Burton.

Burton introduced himself to the mid-afternoon scene with a subtle and wordless introduction that exploded into fire and grace with his trio. Playing both intensely and thoughtfully, his explorations cast an upper-register Coltrane-like quality with an even more abstract edge—imagine if Coltrane had recorded for ESP-Disk. After soundchecking with the instantly recognizable first four notes of A Love Supreme, he dropped both “Naima” and another Coltrane original into the set, segueing through “A Night in Tunisia” and a handful of others.

Burton, who’s recorded with a veritable who’s-who of talented underdogs including Louis Hayes, Horace Tapscott and the fantastic Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino, said few words to the crowd—verbally, that is. His playing nonetheless spoke volumes on its own and his trio, with childhood blood brother Nasheet Waits on drums, washed over the congregation on the lawn. The backdrop of an empty lot, an abandoned church and the distant ocean slowly turned pasty and bright as the sun hung low. Laying in the grass, eyes closed, you’d swear you were at Newport in 1965.

More Photos Below. (more…)

Street Music, Santa Rosa, and the Renegade Art Revival

Posted by Gabe Meline on May 28, 2009 One Comment

Some of you may already know about Aaron Milligan-Green, the dreadlocked musician who’s been collecting signatures to overturn an outdated and illogical city ordinance regarding street music and who often fills the nighttime quietude with his Jungle Love Orchestra (pictured above). My constituent John Beck has been covering the story on his Press Democrat blog, but since John’s currently honeymooning in Paris, I bring you the latest news.

Here’s Aaron’s announcement sent out today about the Renegade Art Revival, reprinted with permission:

My name’s Aaron MG (a.k.a. The Dreaded Jewbacca) and you might remember me from the Santa Rosa street music petition I’ve put together, the SRJC, or however else we’ve met. Nonetheless, this street music petition I mentioned is part of a campaign to overturn section 17-16.090(A) of the Santa Rosa city noise ordinance, an ordinance which allows the city to fine the people $246 for playing an instrument anywhere at anytime in public. This specific law is only the epitome of a larger issue.

As you’ve probably noticed, the streets of Santa Rosa are dead and have absolutely no character or life of their own, yet Santa Rosa is the largest city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. This lack of vitality is no mere coincidence, for there are a myriad of laws here to control “unsanctioned” free expression and social gatherings. Did you know it’s illegal to play with a ball or a frisbee, or even have your dog in Courthouse Square, the “Heart of Downtown Santa Rosa?” I’ve actually met people who have been given tickets for playing hacky-sack. It’s a community vs. commerce kind of mentality, masked by a facade of what’s primarily commercial art—and I’m sorry, but we have enough Snoopy sculptures already. By overturning section 17-16.090(A) we hope to put a crack in that facade.

But a mere crack will not do. The public learns by example and we want to blow that wall to rubble, so let’s give them a spectacle they won’t forget. We the people need to take to the streets that our tax dollars fund and reclaim them as our own again. THE RENEGADE ART REVIVAL is in full effect on August 8, 2009!! We will take over the downtown of Santa Rosa with street performers and artists of all types in hope of breathing a bit of color back into these beige-aggregate streets. This is all being under-the-radar grassroots organized and it will take every one of us to make it happen. We want at least 500-1,000 or more people out there, performers and supporters alike. And you don’t have to think of yourself as an “artist” or a “performer” per se to come out and participate; one way to take part, for example, is to be active in the costumed bicycle parade. Let’s get 200+ people to come out dressed up in their finest threads and Halloween costumes riding on bikes, while dancers, musicians, painters, jugglers, etc. are posted at every corner, nook, and cranny! Let’s actually use our First Amendment right of free expression and assembly. On August 8th we will meet in Railroad Square at 12 noon and march to Courthouse Square, then from there we will disperse and flood the entire downtown.

So spread the word!! There is a Myspace being used to network this whole escapade here, so check it out, sign on, and send others that direction. Forward this email to anyone who you think would be interested. We need everyone to chip in at least a smidgen or two. So on August 8th come one and all to THE RENEGADE ART REVIVAL!!!

– The Dreaded Jewbacca

In News

Jay Bennett, Dead at 45

Posted by Gabe Meline on May 24, 2009 2 Comments

Yeah, sure, the first time I saw I Am Trying to Break Your Heart I thought, “Ha, ha! What an annoying guy! How brave they are to kick him out of the band!”

Then I went back to the theater a few days later and watched it again, and I realized that I had been 100% wrong, and that what I was watching was a completely one-sided story, and that basically, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is a propaganda film for Jeff Tweedy.

The only good Wilco albums are the ones Jay Bennett played on. I always thought he got a shitty deal from Wilco, and was actually glad when he filed suit against Tweedy last month. They may not have gotten along, but his influence made that band magical and unpretentious.

So long, Jay Bennett, you died in your sleep last night. I stood up for you. No doubt history will conveniently rewrite itself and give you the credit you so desperately deserved while you were here. You died too soon.

In News

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Posted by Gabe Meline on May 23, 2009 One Comment

I’ll be on the radio tonight for four hours discussing the life and times of the great Charles Mingus with my good friend Larry Slater, the Jazz M.D.

For those who haven’t been exposed to much of Mingus’ music—which beautifully spans the entire emotional spectrum of the human existence—then I urge you to tune in and be forever transformed by one of the greatest bassists and composers to ever walk the Earth.

That’s from 8pm-12am tonight on KRCB, 90.9 FM. You can also listen online here.

New Christian Alternative Station In Town

Posted by Gabe Meline on May 21, 2009 3 Comments

We here at City Sound Inertia are pretty firm that people should be allowed to believe whatever kind of crazy bullshit they feel like believing in, so in the name of Jesus Christ, we bring you the news that there’s a new “Christian Alternative Rock” station in town, Broken FM, at 105.7 in Petaluma and 107.9 FM in Santa Rosa.

Guess what? They want money.

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