WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en On the set of ‘Almost Famous’ http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/set-%E2%80%98almost-famous%E2%80%99-112458 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crowe2.jpg" style="width: 100%;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/events">As triumphantly noted on <em>Sound Opinions</em>&rsquo; Events Page</a>, our little radio show will be screening Cameron Crowe&rsquo;s 2000 film <em>Almost Famous </em>for free at the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park7.html">Jay Pritzker Pavilion</a> in Millennium Park at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow as part of the city&rsquo;s great summer film series.</p><p>Greg Kot and I don&rsquo;t agree on much, but we both think this is one of the best movies ever made about rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll, brilliantly portraying the way that many of us fall in love with the music as a consuming passion, something that is very difficult to capture on film. We also think it&rsquo;s the best movie ever with a hero who&rsquo;s a rock critic&mdash;not that there are many (any?) other contenders.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-02/great-art-about-guilt-and-longing-109623">As I wrote last year in an obituary of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman</a>, who portrays legendary rock critic Lester Bangs in the film, I also have a very personal connection to this movie: I met and befriended Crowe because I wrote Bangs&rsquo; biography, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Let-Blurt-Lester-Americas-Greatest/dp/0767905091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1437667248&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=let+it+blurt">Let It Blurt</a></em>, and we both had the similar experience of meeting our rock-writing hero when we were 17 years old, Crowe in 1972, and me in 1982.</p><p>This doesn&rsquo;t mean I think <em>Almost Famous </em>is a perfect movie; once a critic, always a critic, and its candy-colored portrait of teenage groupies sidesteps some very harsh truths about the way young women were too often treated on the &rsquo;70s rock scene, as recent revelations about Joan Jett&rsquo;s first band the Runaways sadly attest. But what I love about the movie I love very much indeed, and much of that can be seen in the series of articles I wrote for <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>after a visit to the set shortly before the film&rsquo;s release 15 years ago in September.</p><p>Here are those articles from 2000. See you tomorrow, and remember: <em>You ARE home!</em></p><blockquote><p><strong>As Crowe flies</strong></p><p><strong><em>The Chicago Sun-Times, September 3, 2000</em></strong></p><p><strong>BY JIM DeROGATIS pop music critic </strong></p><p>LOS ANGELES&mdash;As I arrive in an editing studio on the Fox lot in Hollywood, the beautiful, melancholy sounds of &ldquo;The Rain Song&rdquo; by Led Zeppelin are blasting on the soundtrack. The dramatic strum of Jimmy Page&rsquo;s guitar merges perfectly with the image onscreen of actor Patrick Fugit (portraying William Miller, a.k.a. the young Cameron Crowe) collapsing on his bed, exhausted.</p><p>The scene shifts to Fairuza Balk, one of a gang of groupies known as &ldquo;Band Aids.&rdquo; The music swells majestically as she tosses her long black hair. It&rsquo;s a key point near the end of <em>Almost Famous</em>, Crowe&rsquo;s new film, and Balk is having a conversation with Billy Crudup, the actor who plays Russell Hammond, the vainglorious leader of a fictional &rsquo;70s rock band called Stillwater.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t even know what it is to be a fan,&rdquo; Balk says. &ldquo;To truly love some little piece of music so much that it hurts.&rdquo;</p><p>Crudup stares into the distance, pondering her words. The music sighs, the scene ends, and the technicians stop the film. <em>&ldquo;Niiiice,&rdquo; </em>Crowe says with just a hint of a Southern California surfer accent. &ldquo;Very nice!&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s early July, 10 weeks before the movie&rsquo;s Sept. 15 opening, and it&rsquo;s the last day of six intense weeks of sound editing, the final step before the film&rsquo;s completion. Three recording engineers&mdash;one for dialogue, one for music and one for sound effects&mdash;plus music rights consultant Danny Bramson and numerous assistants busy themselves behind a giant console that looks like the control panel for the starship Enterprise.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the <em>Jerry Maguire</em> crew,&rdquo; Crowe explains. Like ballplayers at the end of the season, they are slightly giddy as they make the final fixes on the eagerly awaited follow-up to Crowe&rsquo;s 1996 hit. The director smiles and lapses into a bit of <em>Blues Brothers</em> shtick. &ldquo;The band got back together!&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The man wanted to keep us apart, but we got together again!&rdquo;</p><p>All of the movies that Crowe has written, or written and directed&mdash;<em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em> (1982), <em>The Wild Life</em> (1984), <em>Say Anything</em> (1989), <em>Singles</em> (1992) and <em>Jerry Maguire</em>&mdash;are marked by their extraordinary use of music, which isn&rsquo;t surprising, given his background as a rock journalist. Now 42, the director was a 15-year-old Catholic high school kid from San Diego when he began covering bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and the Eagles for <em>Creem</em> and <em>Rolling Stone</em> magazines in 1973. <em>Almost Famous</em> tells the story of his first year on the road.</p><p>Tall, gangly but otherwise inconspicuous, Crowe quietly absorbed everything around him during seven of the headiest years in rock history, then set it down on paper with the enthusiasm of a diehard fan. He employed a similar modus operandi a few years later in 1979 when he re-enrolled in high school, posing as a senior at age 22 to write a book about how &ldquo;the kids&rdquo; really lived.</p><p><em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High </em>became a best seller, which led Crowe to write a screenplay for the film by Amy Heckerling. Though it flopped on release, the movie became a huge hit on video, making stars of cast members such as Sean Penn, who portrayed stoned-out surfer Jeff Spicoli. Crowe&rsquo;s movie career was launched, but it would be a constant struggle to make films the way he wanted, in the warm romantic-comedy tradition of his hero Billy Wilder. (Alfred A. Knopf recently published his book of interviews with the director of <em>The Apartment</em> and <em>Some Like It Hot</em>.)</p><p>&ldquo;The only movie that I&rsquo;ve ever been a part of where the money guys &lsquo;got it&rsquo; was <em>The Wild Life</em>,&rdquo; Crowe says, referring to his least successful film. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m used to them not getting it. They didn&rsquo;t get this movie; they didn&rsquo;t get <em>Jerry Maguire</em>; they definitely didn&rsquo;t get <em>Singles</em>, and <em>Say Anything</em> was barely released. In many ways it&rsquo;s a miracle that we&rsquo;re even sitting here talking about my work in film, because the only stuff that wasn&rsquo;t a battle for me was rock journalism.&rdquo;</p><p>Music clearly remains Crowe&rsquo;s first and truest love. Balk may be doing the talking in the scene described above, but the sentiments are the director&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;We tried a lot of songs in that scene,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;We really wanted to hit her speech about being a fan&mdash;that feeling about it being <em>your </em>band and loving a song like &lsquo;The Rain Song,&rsquo; which could make you cry on the right occasion. It was all about that speech, and unless you honored that speech by putting the right music behind it, it was just a candidate to be cut, as opposed to the heart of the movie.&rdquo;</p><p>Trivia fact: &ldquo;Nothing Man&rdquo; by Crowe&rsquo;s friends Pearl Jam was the song that Crudup was actually listening to as the scene was filmed. &ldquo;Other directors say you have to be careful with people listening to music on the set because it could look good while you&rsquo;re filming but later it might not sync up,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;I disagree. The look of someone listening to music they love is a unique look, and I wanted to capture that.</p><p>&ldquo;The whole subject matter is just so personal and fascinating to me. Another guy would be interested in car racing or something. It&rsquo;s all about what you&rsquo;re a fan of. It&rsquo;s almost punk-rock, trying to push a personal movie through the mainstream pipeline. You have to have had a movie like <em>Jerry Maguire</em> for people to trust you and let you make a movie like this and cast it the way you want to cast it, without any stars.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Almost Famous</em> was the most difficult of Crowe&rsquo;s films to make because it was the most personal and because he felt an obligation to accurately capture real-life characters like his rock-critic mentor, the late Lester Bangs.</p><p>&ldquo;I was in denial that I was actually doing the movie for a long time,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;I thought there was a real danger of doing a &lsquo;glory of me&rsquo; project. I really have a problem with talking about myself; my taste is for utterly personal stuff that doesn&rsquo;t revel in the glory of ego. It&rsquo;s like the blowhard at the party whose voice is too loud. I really wanted to avoid that, and all my friends will tell you that I tortured them and tortured myself deciding to finally do this.&rdquo;</p><p>As in the past, music provided the way into the project. The director started making &ldquo;road trip tapes&rdquo; full of the music of the era, and those inspired him to start writing. It&rsquo;s a cardinal rule of the movie business that the screenwriter never specifies what music will be playing during a scene, but Crowe ignored this convention even before he started directing his own films. &ldquo;The scripts&mdash;all of them, even <em>Jerry Maguire</em>&mdash;start with the music for me,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>* * * </strong></p><p>Twelve hours later, after lunch at the commissary and a break for a dinner of Indian takeout, the crew is beginning to hit the wall, but Crowe shows no signs of slowing down. Chronically described as &ldquo;boyish&rdquo; (even now, long after his days as a wunderkind), he is constantly pacing behind the mixing console, tossing a baseball in the air, answering questions from his assistants, pausing to check his email on a laptop and talking to this reporter all at once. It&rsquo;s as if he&rsquo;s urging his team toward the finish line by his own display of perpetual motion.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s wife, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, has arrived in the studio to add a bass line to the score during another key scene, the one where Fugit/Miller bids farewell to the groupie who has stolen his heart, Kate Hudson as Penny Lane. The crew gives the impression that they think things are just fine as they stand (and they&rsquo;d really like to go home), but Crowe is convinced that Wilson&rsquo;s bass will put the scene over the top.</p><p>The couple fell in love during the making of <em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em>, after being set up on a blind date by two mutual friends, rock photographer Neal Preston and Kelly Curtis, the manager of Heart and Pearl Jam. &ldquo;Nancy just didn&rsquo;t know how uncool it was to date a rock writer,&rdquo; Crowe jokes.</p><p>Since then, Wilson has written the scores for all of his films. In between taking care of their young twins, she also penned several of the songs that Stillwater performs, utilizing a style that evokes bluesy mid-&rsquo;70s rockers Bad Company.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the same musical taste, and we speak shorthand,&rdquo; Crowe says of working with his wife. &ldquo;Everybody does these scores that are keyboard-based, because it&rsquo;s easy; you can sample everything on keyboard. I like guitar scores; it sort of suits my writing better. I can walk in the kitchen and say, &lsquo;Let&rsquo;s do a romantic theme on guitar,&rsquo; and she&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ll do it later.&rsquo; I&rsquo;ll say, `Now, now, now!&rsquo; and she&rsquo;ll sit down and play something that becomes like the theme of <em>Jerry Maguire</em>.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really his voice and his taste in music,&rdquo; Wilson says as she tunes her bass and waits for the engineers to roll the tape. &ldquo;He gets a lot of his inspiration from listening to songs and cutting out pictures&mdash;it&rsquo;s kind of like a collage effect with music, where there&rsquo;s like an ache or something and he hears the song and gets into the story. We&rsquo;re roughly the same age, and we have a really similar background with the stuff we loved in music&mdash;Dylan and the Beach Boys and all that stuff. He was like the only guy I ever met who had such similar taste in music.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Quiet on the set!&rdquo; somebody shouts, and the crew begins rolling the film and recording Wilson&rsquo;s bass part. The musician watches the screen as Fugit runs along an airport concourse, keeping pace with Hudson&rsquo;s plane as it taxies down the runway. The spare but touching score underscores both the connection and the distance between them.</p><p>As their actors&rsquo; eyes meet, the musician hits a rolling bass note that does indeed bring the moment to its emotional climax. The note is still ringing in the air when the engineers stop the film and turn expectantly toward Crowe.</p><p><em>&ldquo;Niiiice!,&rdquo; </em>the director says, even more enthusiastically than before. &ldquo;Very nice!&rdquo;</p><p>Everyone applauds for &ldquo;one-take Wilson,&rdquo; no one clapping louder than Crowe. The last of the sound fixes has been completed, and the director is ready to send his film into the world.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: Great moments by the numbers </strong></p><p>A few years ago, Cameron Crowe was decrying what he called &ldquo;the <em>Batman</em> syndrome&rdquo; of big-budget movies slapping pop songs on the soundtrack as a marketing gimmick, regardless of whether or not the music fit the film.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the case less and less now,&rdquo; Crowe says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a different generation of filmmakers coming up, and what was once the shining example&mdash;Martin Scorsese and the way he used rock music in his movies&mdash;is now becoming more and more common.&rdquo;</p><p>Every fan of Crowe&rsquo;s work has a favorite music-movie pairing from his films. Here are some of mine, as well as the director&rsquo;s choices, which may be surprising.</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Fast Times at Ridgemont High</em></p><p>My choice: The scene where Mike Damone lectures Mark &ldquo;Rat&rdquo; Ratner on side two of &ldquo;Led Zeppelin IV&rdquo; as perfect make-out music. Ironically, &ldquo;Kashmir&rdquo; from &ldquo;Physical Graffiti&rdquo; plays on the soundtrack&mdash;at the time, it was the only Zep song that Crowe could get the rights for.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;&lsquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Baby&rsquo; by Jackson Browne&mdash;definitely the scene with &lsquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Baby.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Say Anything</em></p><p>My choice: John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler tries to win Ione Skye&rsquo;s Diane Court by playing Peter Gabriel&rsquo;s &ldquo;In Your Eyes&rdquo; on a boom box held aloft in the rain.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;&lsquo;Within Your Reach&rsquo; [by the Replacements], when Lloyd is packing to leave home. I love that.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Jerry Maguire</em></p><p>My choice: Tom Cruise as Maguire banging the steering wheel in time to Tom Petty&rsquo;s &ldquo;Free Fallin&rsquo;,&rdquo; oblivious to the fact that that&rsquo;s exactly what he&rsquo;s doing.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;It would be [Bruce Springsteen&rsquo;s] &lsquo;Secret Garden,&rsquo; when Rene [Zellweger] runs down the street, and just before that when she sees her little boy kissing Tom. It&rsquo;s one of my favorite moments as a director. I also like &lsquo;Magic Bus&rsquo; [by the Who] at the beginning. It set the tone for the whole movie.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>* </strong><em>Almost Famous</em></p><p>My choice: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs doing the chicken dance to &ldquo;Search and Destroy&rdquo; by the Stooges.</p><p>Crowe&rsquo;s choice: &ldquo;Led Zeppelin&rsquo;s &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the Way.&rsquo; And I really like Bloodwyn Pig in this movie. And I liked finding `Your Move&rsquo; [by Yes] for when the kid gets backstage for the first time, because that felt kind of quietly triumphant. But the new one is totally built on the music&mdash;it&rsquo;s all about the music.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: </strong><strong>Bangs served as role model for filmmaker</strong></p><p>A s a precocious 15-year-old, Cameron Crowe began writing about rock music for the alternative weekly <em>The San Diego Door</em>. His editor was Bill Maguire&mdash;the director would pay homage when he chose Jerry Maguire&rsquo;s surname 22 years later&mdash;but his real role model was rock critic Lester Bangs, who grew up in nearby El Cajon, then moved to Detroit to edit <em>Creem</em> magazine.</p><p>Bangs returned home to visit at Christmas 1973. Crowe stood outside watching through the plate-glass window as his hero did an interview on an FM rock station. Afterward, the two went for a hamburger. Bangs had read the clips Crowe sent him, and he rewarded him with an assignment to interview Humble Pie.</p><p>This scene is recounted in <em>Almost Famous</em> as Bangs is portrayed by the red-hot method actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (<em>Boogie Nights</em>, <em>Magnolia</em>, <em>The Talented Mr. Ripley</em>). He is the moral conscience of the movie, the wise sage who tells the young Crowe not to befriend rock stars and to always be &ldquo;honest and unmerciful.&rdquo; (Never mind that Bangs sometimes ignored his own advice.)</p><p>I met Bangs a decade later, two weeks before he died in the spring of 1982, when I was a senior in high school. Crowe read a fanzine article that I wrote about my encounter, and for years, every six months or so, he called and encouraged me to write a book about Bangs&rsquo; life. Eventually I did. (I contributed research material to <em>Almost Famous</em>&mdash;although I was not a paid or credited consultant&mdash;and Crowe was one of more than 200 people interviewed for my book.)</p><p>I asked the director to talk about why Lester Bangs was so important to him and to so many of our fellow rock writers.</p><p>&ldquo;What your book is about, what my movie is about, what Lester Bangs is about is being a fan,&rdquo; Crowe said. The biggest thing was&mdash;with all due respect to Lester&mdash;not to write a movie that was a tribute to Lester, but to make a movie that was a tribute to the way that music makes you feel. If you can get the movie to make you feel like a song you just sort of discovered that you want to hear like eight times in a row, that&rsquo;s the hardest thing. Part of that story is a guy who can grab you by the collars and say, &lsquo;Listen to this!&rsquo; or &lsquo;Don&rsquo;t hang out with rock stars!&rsquo; Of course, you have to embrace the contradictions, because fully half the time I spent with Lester was hanging out with rock stars!</p><p>&ldquo;I was intent on capturing Lester&rsquo;s humor. Hoffman was listening to a tape of your interview with Lester in between takes, but that was the 1982 Lester, and I wanted to make sure he was connected to the &rsquo;73 Lester. The push and pull of our discussions and the performance created a more truthful Lester because you have the humor and you also have the darkness that was obvious just by looking at his body: He seemed gloriously toxic. Hoffman caught the soul, I fought for the humor, and the collaboration surprised us both.</p><p>&ldquo;When [DreamWorks studio chief Steven] Spielberg saw the movie, he called me up&mdash;and believe me, I don&rsquo;t get many calls from Steven Spielberg&mdash;and he said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m gonna quote Lester Bangs to you right now and I&rsquo;m gonna be honest and unmerciful.&rsquo; He told me what he thought of the movie and he was very complimentary and also very laser-like about pace and stuff. I had about 30 people read the part of Lester, including Tom Cruise. In the end I hired the one guy who didn&rsquo;t even read&mdash;he just walked in and started talking about this American Express ad that he&rsquo;d seen with one of his heroes up on a bulletin board, and it was a very Lester-like rant. But I hear Lester laughing in those moments, when I hear Cruise reading his words, or when Steven Spielberg quotes him.</p><p>&ldquo;If the both of us, through our own experiences with Lester, have found a way to start a debate about the state of rock criticism or at least bring attention to this guy via your book or my movie, I say let it all come, because he really deserves it.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sidebar: </strong><strong>Screenplays spawn imitators</strong></p><p>From Jeff Spicoli&rsquo;s immortal words, &ldquo;People on &lsquo;ludes should not drive,&rdquo; to Rod Tidwell&rsquo;s timeless exhortation, &ldquo;Show me the money!,&rdquo; Cameron Crowe has shown a remarkable ability for crafting catchphrases and tapping into the cultural zeitgeist.</p><p>For evidence, you need only look at his imitators.</p><p><em>Arli$$</em>, an HBO series about a funny and aggressive sports agent, premiered several months after the success of <em>Jerry Maguire</em>, Crowe&rsquo;s film about a funny and aggressive sports agent. &ldquo;They say <em>Arli$$</em> was in development before they knew about <em>Jerry Maguire</em>, but who knows?&rdquo; Crowe says.</p><p>After Crowe&rsquo;s 1992 movie <em>Singles</em>, Warner Bros. Television asked him to turn the film into a TV series about a group of six 20-something roommates searching for love. Crowe declined. Several months later, ABC&rsquo;s fall schedule was announced, and it included a show called <em>Singles</em> about a group of six 20-something roommates searching for love. Crowe&rsquo;s attorneys moved into action, but the show&rsquo;s producers said it was all a big mistake, and their show was actually <em>Friends</em>.</p><p>When the TV show premiered, several details seemed familiar: There was the gang frolicking in the courtyard, hanging out at a coffeehouse and listening to a goofy musician singing about a cat. &ldquo;I had my lawyer look into it and it turns out that they had changed just enough of the details so that it would be not an easy lawsuit,&rdquo; Crowe says.(A Warner Bros. spokesman declined to comment.)</p><p>Imitation has its upside. How does Crowe feel when a phrase like &ldquo;Show me the money&rdquo; becomes ubiquitous in pop culture?</p><p>&ldquo;I love it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I loved it when it came up at like the Westminster Dog Show&mdash;that was the most fun thing ever. It&rsquo;s never the one you intend it to be. Every time you try and write a catchphrase, the audience is smarter than that, they can hear the typewriter behind it. It&rsquo;s like every Clint Eastwood catchphrase after `Make my day&rsquo;; the poor guy, you can see him struggling. There&rsquo;s nothing more fun than discovering your own catchphrase, and nothing sadder than getting one forced on you.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crowe1.jpg" style="width: 100%;" title="On the set of 'Almost Famous' (courtesy Cameron Crowe)." /></div><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/set-%E2%80%98almost-famous%E2%80%99-112458 Obama Visits Kenya http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-24/obama-visits-kenya-112475 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Obama pic 3.jpg" title="U.S. President Barack Obama waves after being greeted by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, on his arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, July 24, 2015. Obama began his first visit to Kenya as U.S. president Friday. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216187008&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong style="font-size: 24px;">Obama Vists Kenya as President</strong></p><p>President Obama heads to Kenya today. This is the first time he will visit his father&rsquo;s home country since he was elected president. The visit is filled with anticipation. There was discussion of making the visit a national holiday. In the town of Funyula in Busia County, which by borders Siaya County, the home area of President Obama&#39;s late father, the radio station there is calling today &ldquo;Obama Day.&rdquo; We&rsquo;ll check in with Phylis Nasubo Magina who is in Funyula. She&rsquo;s the managing director of The ABCs of Sex Education, where she leads a team of 49 community educators providing sex education and HIV prevention. Ken Opalo, an assistant professor at Georgetown University also joins us to discuss Obama&rsquo;s visit. He&rsquo;s originally from Kenya.</p><p><strong>Guests: </strong></p><p>Phylis Nasubo Magina is the Kenya Country Director of The ABCs of Sex Education</p><p>Ken Opalo Ken Opalo is an assistant professor at Georgetown University&rsquo;s School of Foreign Service and a blogger. He&rsquo;s originally from Kenya.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216187612&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Weekend Passport:</strong></span></p><p>Each week global citizen Nari Safavi helps listeners plan their international weekend. This week he&rsquo;ll tell us about an exhibit on North Korea, the film Hiroshima Mon Amor and Bomba Estereo: Album Release Show</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><p>Nari Safavi is co-founder of Pasfarda Arts and Cultural Exchange</p><p>Alice Wielinga is a participating artist in North Korean Perspectives</p><p>Marc Prüst] is curator of North Korean Perspectives<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216188449&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false " width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>Milos Stehlik talks with Omar Sy, star of the film &#39;Samba&#39;</strong></span></p><p>Film contributor Milos Stehlik sits down with Omar Sy, star of the new film &ldquo;Samba.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s the latest film by the team that brought us &ldquo;The Intouchables. &#39;Samba&#39; tells the story of an undocumented kitchen worker who&rsquo;s battling deportation. The movie follows his struggles and budding romance with the immigration case worker who&rsquo;s trying to help him stay in France.</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><p>Omar Sy, French actor and comedian, star of the film &ldquo;Samba&rdquo;</p><p>Milos Stehlik is WBEZ&rsquo;s film contributor and director of Facets Multimedia</p></p> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-24/obama-visits-kenya-112475 StoryCorps Chicago: Tales from Theresa's Lounge http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-tales-theresas-lounge-112473 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bh_storycorps_pokempner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marc PoKempner is a <a href="http://www.pokempner.net/book.html">photojournalist </a>who has worked extensively with the <em>Chicago Reader </em>and <em>People</em> magazine.</p><p>But in the 1960s he was just a college student in Hyde Park, interested in photography and the blues.</p><p>StoryCorps producer Francesco De Salvatore interviewed PoKempner recently.</p><p>And they spoke a lot about a basement bar in Chicago on the corner of 43rd and Indiana called Theresa&rsquo;s Lounge, where many of the city&rsquo;s most famous blues musicians held court.</p><p><em><em>Marc Pokempner was interviewed through a partnership with the Maxwell Street Foundation.</em>StoryCorps&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-tales-theresas-lounge-112473 Talking U2, one of my favorite albums by the Flaming Lips and the state of music journalism http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/talking-u2-one-my-favorite-albums-flaming-lips-and-state-music <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bono%20%28Lucy%20Nicholson_Reuters%29.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 640px;" title="Bono, he just thinks he's God. (bono (Lucy Nicholson, Reuters via Q))" /></div><p>In case you don&rsquo;t get enough of me yakking on <em>Sound Opinions</em>&mdash;always hard for me to imagine for anyone other than my mom&mdash;I&rsquo;d like to share some recent podcast appearances where I debated the merits of U2, dived deep into <em>Clouds Taste Metallic, </em>one of my favorite album by the Flaming Lips, and pondered the question, &ldquo;Should music mags survive or get killed off?&rdquo;</p><p>The U2 back-and-forth with Canadian arts journalist and self-professed superfan Marsha Lederman was for one of CBC Radio&rsquo;s recurring &ldquo;Good or Bad&rdquo; segments on <em>Q. </em>The very nature of such a segment encourages polarizing opinions, and as I made clear in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-06/u2s-innocence-experience-tour-reminds-you-why-you-used-love-band-112245">my recent review of the first of U2&rsquo;s United Center shows</a>, I am a fan, too, and have been for a long time. I certainly disagree with some of U2&rsquo;s business moves and dislike some of its albums in recent years, but I loved what I saw of the current tour.</p><p>Still, I&rsquo;ll stick by what I told Marsha and <em>Q </em>host Piya Chattopadhyay, when U2 does nothing in a small way: When the band is good, it&rsquo;s very, very good, and when it&rsquo;s bad, it&rsquo;s very, very bad. <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/schedule-for-friday-july-17-2015-1.3156482/u2-good-or-bad-1.3156489">But listen to the debate here and decide for yourself.</a></p><div class="image-insert-image"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/clouds-taste-metallic-502f9e86e833d.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></p></div><p>Next up, I finally linked up with Australian writer and director Jeremy Dylan after months of patience on his part to participate in his fine podcast <em>My Favorite Album</em>, which features arts luminaries such as John Waters, Roby Hitchcock, and Neil Finn weighing in on (duh) one of their favorite albums. (Don&rsquo;t ask me what I&rsquo;m doing in that company, but again, mom will be proud.) I talked about <em>Clouds Taste Metallic</em>, one of my five favorite albums by the Flaming Lips.</p><p>For the other four, see my biography of the band,<strong> <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Staring-Sound-Oklahomas-Fabulous-Flaming/dp/0767921402/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1437664248&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=jim+derogatis+flaming+lips">Staring at Sound</a></em>. </strong><a href="http://mrjeremydylan.com/post/123551364080/my-favorite-album-79-jim-derogatis-sound">And listen if you so desire to Jeremy and I talking about the most underrated of the Lips&rsquo; best recordings here.</a></p><div class="image-insert-image"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sxsw2015-strauss-9662-bigtop.jpeg" style="height: 250px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>Finally, at SXSW 2015 back in March, my friend Jason Gross (editor of the great music Webzine <em><a href="http://www.furious.com/perfect/">Perfect Sound Forever</a></em>) organized and moderated a panel discussion on the state of music journalism and criticism with <strong>Ann Powers</strong> (NPR Music), <strong>Alex Gale</strong> (<em>Billboard</em>), the legendary <strong>Jaan Uhelszki</strong>, and yours truly. <a href="http://www.sxsw.com/music/news/2015/audio-recap-should-music-mags-survive-or-get-killed-sxsw-music-2015">SXSW recently posted info and audio of this auspicious meeting of the minds here.</a> And trust me: It&rsquo;s much more fiery than my countenance in the photo above suggests.</p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast or stream </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/talking-u2-one-my-favorite-albums-flaming-lips-and-state-music Forget about Porta Potties and bad sound: Weather is the real problem http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/forget-about-porta-potties-and-bad-sound-weather-real-problem-112431 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" longdesc="https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertloerzel/sets/72157655646333189/show" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4k rain 1.jpg" title="Violent weather at Pitchfork 2015. (Copyright Robert Loerzel)" /></div></div><p>In 2008, when the tornado sirens went off in Chicago on the Monday after Lollapalooza, I wondered what would have happened if that severe thunderstorm had hit a day or two earlier, when 100,000 people were getting high on groovy tunes and other pleasures in Grant Park.</p><p>As the pop music critic at <em>The Chicago Sun-Times</em>, I was frustrated at the time in my efforts to get an answer from the Police Department or the city&rsquo;s Office of Emergency Management &amp; Communications. <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2008/08/on_tornadoes_and_the_cops_new.html">Oh, there&rsquo;s an evacuation plan for every major music festival, city officials assured me; they just couldn&rsquo;t publicize it in advance &ldquo;for security reasons.&rdquo;</a></p><p>In 2012, city officials still wouldn&rsquo;t answer the question when it was raised anew by <em>Chicago Tribune </em>investigative reporter Heather Gillers, who&rsquo;d won nationwide acclaim for her coverage of the bad-weather stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in 2011. <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-01/news/ct-met-lolla-emergency-plan-20120801_1_indiana-state-fair-emergency-management-plan-evacuation">Here&rsquo;s the link to her piece</a>, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-08/tribune-if-severe-weather-hits-fans-lollapalooza-are-screwed-101374">here&rsquo;s a link to the follow-up that I wrote at that time</a>.</p><p>Ironically, not long after those pieces were published, we found out what the Lollapalooza evacuation plan was when violent weather descended on Lollapalooza 2012: Kick everybody out of the park and let them fend for themselves in a chaotic rush onto Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.</p><p>The ensuing mess resulted in a fair amount of criticism, but city planners apparently haven&rsquo;t come up with any better option in the years since. On Saturday, when severe weather blew over the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, promoters cleared the site&mdash;kicking everybody out of the park and letting them fend for themselves in a chaotic rush onto Ashland Avenue and Lake Street.</p><p><em>Chicago Tribune </em>freelancer Bob Gendron, covering the festival as rock critic Greg Kot&rsquo;s wingman, gave us the breaking Tweets:</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">It seems clear <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pitchforkfest?src=hash">#Pitchforkfest</a> evacuating plan is same as Lolla a few years ago. In short: None.</p>&mdash; Bob Gendron (@BobGendron25) <a href="https://twitter.com/BobGendron25/status/622509595974586368">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">People told to go to businesses on Ashland and Lake. Too bad they don&#39;t exist. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pitchforkfest?src=hash">#Pitchforkfest</a></p>&mdash; Bob Gendron (@BobGendron25) <a href="https://twitter.com/BobGendron25/status/622509756754825216">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Watching people nearly get hit by cars fleeing the park in downpour not a pretty sight. This was very poorly handled. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pitchforkfest?src=hash">#Pitchforkfest</a></p>&mdash; Bob Gendron (@BobGendron25) <a href="https://twitter.com/BobGendron25/status/622510869554069504">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><hr /><p>For his part, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/kot/ct-behind-pitchfork-decision-to-evacuate-the-festival-20150719-column.html">Kot followed up with a longer news story later in the weekend</a>, noting that the crowd of 18,500 was rushed out of the park as the rain cut short a set by Ex Hex. The gates were opened again 70 minutes later, and Kot wrote that police reported no injuries. &ldquo;We got lucky,&rdquo; festival director Mike Reed told him. &ldquo;It totally could have gone the other way.&rdquo;</p><p>The troubling ramifications of that quote are that the city and concert promoters seem content to rely on luck as the best way to deal with massive crowds in weather emergencies&mdash;which, let&rsquo;s face it, will inevitably happen again in Chicago in the summer.</p><p>It now seems obvious that there <em>is </em>no way to safely and quickly evacuate large crowds from city parks, which is why no one in the city has come up with a workable emergency plan. So what is the solution?</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-05/riot-fest-moves-another-park-112060">As I noted a few weeks ago when writing about Riot Fest being kicked out of Humboldt Park</a>&mdash;the weather last year resulted in epic damage to that site, but didn&rsquo;t cause an evacuation&mdash;it&rsquo;s high time the mayor and City Council consider whether Chicago needs a permanent, safe, and secure festival site for all of these events to share, based on the model of the 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park, home to Milwaukee Summerfest.</p><p>To be certain, money is tight in Chicago for civic improvements, and music festivals have to rank far down the list behind other priorities like the city schools and paying workers the pensions they&rsquo;ve earned. But as I reported in that piece, Milwaukee&rsquo;s festival site has been an economic boon to our sister city for decades. Amusement taxes on the big music festivals could fund the construction of such a site, without taxpayer money, and with the added bonus of people getting back their neighborhood parks during the summer months.</p><p>True, Summerfest had its own weather problems this year, and Milwaukee officials report that attendance was down: A mere 772,652 people attended this year&rsquo;s event in late June and early July. But the jobs were as robust as ever, with 2,289 seasonal employees paid to work at the event.</p><p>A permanent festival site would still be subject to the weather, of course. But unlike the temporary facilities set up in the parks&mdash;and similar to permanent venues like Wrigley, Soldier Field, and Sox Park&mdash;bad weather planning would be part of the design, along with such niceties as permanent restroom, food, and drink facilities and better sound and sightline accommodations.</p><p>Now wouldn&rsquo;t all of that beat another soggy mess in the mud?</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" longdesc="https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertloerzel/sets/72157655646333189/show" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4k%20rain%202.jpg" title="Pitchfork's gates reopen after 70 minutes. (Copyright Robert Loerzel)" /></div><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast or stream </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/forget-about-porta-potties-and-bad-sound-weather-real-problem-112431 The Grateful Dead's laid-back, yet surprisingly shrewd, business plan http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grateful-deads-laid-back-yet-surprisingly-shrewd-business-plan-112314 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/deadhead.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead&#39;s founding, the band will perform three shows &mdash; their last &mdash; in Chicago this weekend. According to Billboard magazine, the &quot;Fare Thee Well&quot; concerts will bring in an estimated $50 million. That&#39;s pretty impressive, considering that band&#39;s lead guitarist died two decades ago.</p><p>If there&#39;s one thing the Grateful Dead has proven it knows how to do well, it&#39;s improvise. The song &quot;Dark Star&quot; alone launched hundreds of unique live jams, and that freeform lifestyle followed the band offstage.</p><p>&quot;Improvisation became the one point in their very changeable universe, applied not only to music, but also to business,&quot; says Dennis McNally, the band&#39;s biographer and former publicist.</p><p>McNally says the band was also guided a spirit of inclusion and mutual respect toward their audience &mdash; values the members adopted during the &quot;peace and love&quot; hippie era of 1960s San Francisco. &quot;The Grateful Dead treated their audience as partners, not as cows with wallets,&quot; he says.</p><p>That partnership was nourished by a few key decisions along the way. The Grateful Dead famously encouraged fans to tape their live shows, and those tapes were then traded among fans and served as a pre-Internet form of viral marketing. The more the tapes circulated, the more people wanted to go see them live.</p><p>&quot;But that&#39;s not at all why they did it,&quot; McNally says. &quot;They did it because they were terrible cops and recognized that if they stopped taping, they would have to ruin the ambiance of their own shows.&quot;</p><p>To get those fans to actually attend the shows, they created their own in-house, mail-order ticketing agency, and in the process created a massive database of devotees. The end result was twofold: They eliminated the middleman, thereby putting more money into their pockets, while gaining a reputation for superior customer service.</p><p>The band also made its own tapes of just about every show it ever played, recording directly from their sound board. Now those tapes live in a special vault in southern California.</p><p>Mark Pinkus is the president of Rhino Entertainment and its official General Manager of Grateful Dead Properties. He has access to that vault &mdash; a superfan&#39;s paradise, with thousands and thousands of tapes &mdash; along with a formal agreement with the band to handle the production and release of the music contained within.</p><p>&quot;We have mapped it out, and believe we have about 24 more good years of releases at the pace we are doing right now &mdash; and we do eight releases a year right now,&quot; Pinkus says.</p><p>Rhino enlisted David Lemieux, the band&#39;s longtime archivist, to curate a series of releases for fans who want to hear what&#39;s on every one of those tapes.</p><p>&quot;When we first started working together, I said, &#39;What&#39;s the dream project? What&#39;s the big project that you have always wanted to do?&#39;&quot; Pinkus recalls.</p><p>Lemieux came back at him with a Deadhead&#39;s dream release: all 22 shows of the band&#39;s landmark 1972 tour of Europe. Pinkus agreed by answering the most important question he could think of.</p><p>&quot;How we make most of our decisions, because both of us are fans, is [by] asking, &#39;Would we buy this?&#39; &quot; he says.</p><p>They got their answer: A limited edition 73-CD set sold out in less than a week. Even so, Pinkus acknowledges the Grateful Dead can be a hard sell to nonbelievers.</p><p>&quot;You tell people, this is the greatest live band in the world, and people who haven&#39;t seen them say, &#39;What are they like?&#39; &quot; Pinkus says. &quot;Well, they kind of ramble on stage. They tune their instruments for a couple of minutes and then they do their thing for the next couple of hours. They don&#39;t talk to the crowd other than to say, &#39;Thank you, good night.&#39; And yet they blow you away.&quot;</p><p>And they always do it their own way &mdash; while still managing to put a few nickels in their pockets.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/07/05/419547514/the-grateful-deads-laid-back-yet-surprisingly-shrewd-business-plan">via NPR Music</a></em></p></p> Sat, 04 Jul 2015 06:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grateful-deads-laid-back-yet-surprisingly-shrewd-business-plan-112314 My favorite summer music festival http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/my-favorite-summer-music-festival-112311 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Homaroo.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">My <em>Sound Opinions </em>colleague Greg Kot and I discuss the summer music festivals tonight at 7 p.m. on <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/">WTTW-Ch. 11&#39;s </a><em><a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/">Chicago Tonight</a>. </em>(And be sure to tune in to <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org"><em>Sound Opinions</em></a> next weekend for our second installment of the best summer songs ever.)</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-07/my-favorite-summer-music-festival-112311 The legacy of Willie Dixon on his 100th birthday http://www.wbez.org/news/legacy-willie-dixon-his-100th-birthday-112292 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Blues1-Dixon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This summer outdoor blues concerts are taking place on a site considered hallowed ground by blues fans.</p><p>Next to the legendary Chess Records building on South Michigan Ave. sits Willie Dixon&#39;s Blues Heaven Foundation. Dixon was a prolific songwriter and this is where his songs, like Little Red Rooster, Wang Dang Doodle and Hoochie Coochie Man were recorded by blues stars Howlin&rsquo; Wolf, Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters.</p><p>Dixon would have turned 100 this year, and to celebrate the foundation is making this <a href="http://wdbhf.org/the-week-of-willie">The Week of Willie</a>, with concerts around Chicago.</p><p>Fellow musicians and fans remember Dixon as a man who was generous with his time and talents.</p><p>&ldquo;He had a good reputation. People loved him,&rdquo; said his grandson Alex Dixon. &ldquo;The way he treated his musicians. He was happy the English guys were recording his music.&rdquo;</p><p>Dixon is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and this year was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He became one of the first blues artists to successfully sue to get music royalties owed to him. Early in their careers, he and other blues artists had agreements with record companies that paid them a fraction of what they were owed.​</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got an ugly intersection with race that African American musicians often found themselves taken advantage of,&rdquo; said Peter DiCola, a professor specializing in copyright law at Northwestern University.</p><p>Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold knows this story. He wrote the song &ldquo;I Wish You Would,&rdquo; later recorded by Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds.</p><p>&ldquo;The publishing company got 50 percent and we got 50 percent. But they didn&rsquo;t tell us the significance of the publishing. That&rsquo;s where the real money was,&rdquo; said Arnold. &ldquo; I never did get the money I was due.&rdquo;</p><p>Stories like Arnold&rsquo;s inspired Dixon to start the Blues Heaven Foundation. The nonprofit is dedicated to taking care of blues artists and their heirs &mdash; the goal is to make sure they&rsquo;re getting music royalties they&rsquo;re owed.</p><p>Alex Dixon says in many ways, his grandfather was a preservationist. A person who saw the future and worked tirelessly to protect the past of a musical genre.</p><p>&ldquo;He always knew that blues was going to be around,&rdquo; said Dixon. &ldquo;He knew we&rsquo;d have to work extra hard to keep it up.&rdquo;</p><p>And that may be the most important part of Dixon&rsquo;s legacy, helping keep the blues alive for future generations.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews"><em>@yolandanews</em></a></p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/legacy-willie-dixon-his-100th-birthday-112292 R.I.P. Chris Squire of Yes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-06/rip-chris-squire-yes-112268 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chris-squire_0.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Chris Squire, the co-founder of progressive-rock giants Yes, an innovative virtuoso on the bass guitar, a key songwriter for the group, and the one constant member throughout its nearly half-century history, <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/chris-squire-yes-bassist-and-co-founder-dead-at-67-20150628">has died of leukemia</a>. He was 67 years old.</p><p>Yes has never have gotten much respect from rock critics, and it still isn&rsquo;t in that wretched and phony Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. But to those of us who loved the group in its prime on record&mdash;and I&rsquo;d put that from the start in 1969 through <em>Tormato </em>in 1978 (with 1971&rsquo;s <em>Fragile, </em>1972&rsquo;s <em>Close to the Edge, </em>and 1977&rsquo;s <em>Going for the One </em>standing as my choices for unqualified masterpieces)&mdash;and into the present onstage, the loss is tremendous. And Yes wasn&rsquo;t even Squire&rsquo;s first important band.</p><p>Like many of the best British progressive-rockers, Squire first made his mark in the psychedelic-rock scene of 1966 and 1967. His bass was every bit as distinctive in the Syn as it would be in Yes, and he co-wrote that group&rsquo;s 1967 hit &ldquo;Grounded,&rdquo; which skillfully cribbed from the Beatles&rsquo; &ldquo;Rain&rdquo; while adding lyrics about a truly awful trip (&ldquo;I&rsquo;m high and I&rsquo;m dry and I&rsquo;m grounded&rdquo;). For Squire, psychedelic drugs and psychedelic rock were inextricably linked: &ldquo;There was a lot of LSD around,&rdquo; he said of those years. &ldquo;Of course, the Beatles were leading the charge in the recording studio from <em>Sgt. Pepper,</em> really&mdash;everyone wanted to be part of that experience. But I think the drugs were just as much a part of it; I doubt there were very many people who didn&rsquo;t take drugs who were involved in that movement.&rdquo;</p><p>I also interviewed Squire in 2002 for <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>on the occasion of a new Yes box set. As might be expected, he was a sharp intellect; as many who knew him attest (but surprising those who did not), he also was wonderfully warm and witty. I&rsquo;ll tack that chat on below, along with these videos of the Syn and Squire leading the charge on one of Yes&rsquo; greatest songs, &ldquo;Starship Trooper.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e0yYhajX9mQ" width="420"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-Jhk5MEugJY" width="420"></iframe></p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yes Man</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Chicago Sun-Times, July 26, 2002</em></strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>BY JIM DeROGATIS POP MUSIC CRITIC </strong></p><p style="text-align: center;">To hear the ultra-faithful tell it, the enduring charm of progressive-rock pioneers Yes is that they envision a world better than the one we inhabit.</p><p style="text-align: center;">&quot;Thirty-five years into the journey, [Yes] still takes its fundamental impulse from utopia,&quot; DePaul University philosophy professor and Yesographer Bill Martin writes in an essay included with the new box set, &quot;In A Word: Yes&quot; (Rhino).</p><p style="text-align: center;">For the Yes fan, the five-disc set will indeed be paradise--though more skeptical listeners may be tempted to discard the last disc of more recent recordings. The band never fails to deliver onstage, however, and this summer, it&#39;s touring with one of its most celebrated lineups: vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. (The band plays a sold-out show at the Chicago Theatre tonight.)</p><p style="text-align: center;">I spoke with Squire by phone from Seattle the day the five reunited Yes men gathered there for their first rehearsal.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>As evidenced by this new box set, Yes has an incredible catalog of material to choose from. When you get together to rehearse, where do you even start? </em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A. </strong>Well, we&#39;ve already had preliminary phone calls about a possible set list, which will probably change. But we&#39;re quite fortunate that there&#39;s a fair amount of agreement about which songs we should try. There&#39;s some disagreement, but that&#39;s what we&#39;ll work out, I guess.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>The fan sites on the Web are constantly discussing what you </em>should<em> play. Does any of that register?</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> To take the temperature of the fanatics is not always the best thing to do, because these are people who want to hear some track that most people have never heard in their lives.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>Like, &quot;How come you don&#39;t play all of &#39;Tales from Topographic Oceans&#39;?&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> I don&#39;t know, you might want to bring a pillow! [Laughs] Last time, we were out with an orchestra, and that was kind of different in its own right. We felt that we had more liberty to do some of the longer, more musically complex pieces because of the fact that we were working in that orchestral environment. This year, I would prefer the set to be a little bit lighter and bouncier.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>Rick Wakeman is back in the fold on keyboards. What is it like when someone returns to the group after a long absence?</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A</strong>. Well, we&#39;ll find out. Let&#39;s face it, Rick has been--he sort of split in &#39;79, and he wasn&#39;t around for the &#39;80s, but then we did do that Union tour in &#39;91 that had all eight people onstage. Then we did do the two shows in 1996 and recorded &quot;The Keys to Ascension&quot; live album. But it&#39;s six years later, so today should be interesting. [Laughs]</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>It seems to me that many rock critics missed the point of progressive rock by focusing on the technical prowess while overlooking the fact that the music was attempting to create these elaborate movies of the mind.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> Yes, that&#39;s it really--cinematic rock is a good title for it in a way. It wasn&#39;t just the ability to play a lot of notes in a given time period. There was a lot of that, and even for my tastes, not to put him down, but John McLaughlin and some of those things--I think some of the spirit got lost and it just became a technicians&#39; world for a while. Some of the music became a little bit uninteresting because of the search for technical excellence. But you know, everyone was going through a lot of changes then, which I suspect we probably still are, and it was definitely the birth of that movement.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>At its best, Yes </em>rocked<em>, where some of the other prog bands did not.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> Yeah! A lot of people became very infected by the punk-rock movement and believed that that was their generation speaking for them, even though I don&#39;t think it really spoke for as many people as you think. Obviously, our true fans know that. I think generally the peripheral press and the peripheral audience have tagged us a long time ago for being a little too altruistic for their taste. Yes never went too far that we aren&#39;t still able to rock convincingly. I do feel a little sorry for the Billy Idols of this world who are standing there with the raised fist. How can you do that when you&#39;re approaching 50?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>Yes was never about celebrating youth and rebellion. You were never onstage saying, &quot;We&#39;re 22, we&#39;re young and we&#39;re sexy!&quot;</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> [Laughs] We created a sort of fantasy image concept of our shows, which we were part of in dressing in fairly flamboyant fashions and that, but we weren&#39;t selling sex. And hopefully men age better, so ... [Laughs]</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>Do you think it&#39;s embarrassing for the Rolling Stones to be onstage singing &quot;Honky Tonk Woman&quot; and pretending that they&#39;re 22?</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> Their music has a certain voice. Personally, I saw them in Madison Square Garden I guess three or four years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was a great show. I didn&#39;t get that feeling, even though Mick lies about his age. They&#39;re much older than they always say in their press announcements; he&#39;s well into his 60s by now. He&#39;s been 59 for god knows how long! But you know, on the other hand, I give him credit for being out there in those years and still being able to run around like that.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q. </strong><em>But when the Stones write new material, they lack ambition. Yes doesn&#39;t; you&#39;re still trying things. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they fall flat. But at least you&#39;re taking chances.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> [Laughs] The Stones never had any pretense to do anything really complicated, but I mean, a lot of their music has stood the test of time, and I guess really when they go out on the road it&#39;s pretty much just to peddle what people know and go out and have a rockin&#39; Saturday night. Let&#39;s face it, it&#39;s difficult for Yes to be noticed that much outside of our fan base because of the current status of radio. Thankfully, we&#39;ve just been kind of relieved with the birth of XM [satellite radio], which is a good thing to promote our music, but it was getting a little thin in the airplay area. Our classic stuff is still played a lot, because people like that, but you try coming out with a new Yes product and try and find a way of getting it played, apart from XM, and there isn&#39;t really anything. It&#39;s tricky to even get an outlet for any new music, whether it be good, average or indifferent.</p><p style="text-align: center;">The competition is obviously greater and the current condition of the major labels, apart from the fact that they&#39;re totally worried about the whole Internet thing affecting their businesses, is that they&#39;re grasping at straws and promoting the hell out of five good-looking guys for two years and then finding five more. It&#39;s a sad reflection, really, and not enough people are coming out of the grass roots kind of thing, but it still exists. I hear bands that have built themselves up playing on the rock &#39;n&#39; roll circuit and have big followings. Phish is a good example.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q.</strong> <em>Do you hear any other groups that share the spirit of early Yes?</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> There&#39;s a band on DreamWorks called the K.G.B. that I really like. I think there&#39;s a lot of the Yes spirit in what they do. It&#39;s not lyrically really that close to Yes, but I hear a lot of the attention taken in the care of the recording of the music that I like a lot. So, it isn&#39;t dead. We all know that trends do go in cycles, and there may be a return to a bit more of a grass-roots movement soon. How many &#39;N Syncs can you listen to after a while? You hit the saturation point, even though they make great-sounding records and the voices sound beautiful and every note&#39;s corrected, every syllable.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Q. </strong><em>But it&#39;s distressing to see them or Britney Spears allegedly &quot;singing&quot; when they&#39;re not even moving their lips!</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A.</strong> I don&#39;t think the point is to listen to Britney! [Laughs] These are multipurpose acts where the dancing&#39;s as much a part of it as whatever is coming out of their mouths. Now maybe if we can get Rick to dance a bit on this tour...</p></blockquote><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 19:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-06/rip-chris-squire-yes-112268 U2's Innocence + Experience tour reminds you why you used to love this band http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-06/u2s-innocence-experience-tour-reminds-you-why-you-used-love-band-112245 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/u2wide2014.jpg" style="height: 389px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>U2 has got its mojo back.</p><p>Now there&rsquo;s a sentence I never thought I&rsquo;d write. As readers of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/u2s-songs-innocence-yawn-110785">this blog</a> and listeners of <em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/show/461/#u2">Sound Opinion</a>s </em>know, I was not a fan of the long-running Irish rockers&rsquo; 13<sup>th</sup> studio album <em>Songs of Innocence, </em>to say nothing of being highly dubious of its business transactions in recent years, from <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2009/03/bono_on_the_ticketmasterlive_n.html">the partnership with monopolistic concert giant Live Nation</a> to cramming its new music into all of our iTunes accounts.</p><p>I liked <em><a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2009/02/u2_no_line_on_the_horizon_univ.html">No Line on the Horizon</a> </em>(2009) quite a bit, but was <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News%202009/U2SoldierField.htm">left so cold by that stadium tour</a> with its ridiculous &ldquo;claw&rdquo; stage set and many bouts of pompous preaching that I figured I was done for good with the band as a live entity&mdash;and this from a fan who&rsquo;d caught every tour since <em>War </em>(1983) and who&rsquo;d rank the <em>Achtung Baby </em>and <em>Zooropa</em>-era shows among the best concerts he&rsquo;s ever seen.</p><p>Nevertheless, there I was for the opening of a five-night stand at the United Center on Wednesday. And damned if the four-song opening salvo &mdash; &ldquo;The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone&rdquo;), &ldquo;The Electric Co.,&rdquo; &ldquo;Vertigo,&rdquo; and &ldquo;I Will Follow&rdquo; &mdash; didn&rsquo;t convince me that U2 is as ferocious, focused, and no-nonsense committed as it&rsquo;s ever been, while the four-song closing of the set proper &mdash; &ldquo;Bullet the Blue Sky,&rdquo; &ldquo;Pride (In the Name of Love),&rdquo; &ldquo;Beautiful Day,&rdquo; and &ldquo;With or Without You&rdquo; &mdash; was enough to negate any accusation of bombast and make the hardest-hearted skeptic once again surrender to the majestic rattle and hum of yore.</p><p>&ldquo;Bono dedicates &lsquo;Elevation&rsquo; to the Blackhawks,&rdquo; <em>The Chicago Tribune</em>&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/pang">wiseass cheeseburger bureau chief</a> tweeted midway through the show. &ldquo;<a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</a> sitting next to me rolls his eyes so hard his head tipped backwards.&rdquo;</p><p>True enough. But as I responded, that was because it was the only clichéd and pandering arena-rock moment of an otherwise stripped-down, gimmick-free 23-song set that didn&rsquo;t need a shout-out to the local sports champs to prompt an easy cheer.</p><p>Talk about rolling my eyes: I did a lot more than that when I first started reading that the current show was planned with an eye toward theatrical storytelling, and that the high-tech video screens spanning the arena were inspired by some of what Bono and the Edge learned during their foray onto Broadway with <em>Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.</em></p><p>But the thematic arc of &ldquo;Iris (Hold Me Close),&rdquo; &ldquo;Cedarwood Road,&rdquo; &ldquo;Sunday Bloody Sunday,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Raised by Wolves&rdquo; worked without pretensions, especially since the new songs were much harder-hitting and far more emotional than in the bland, over-produced versions on record. And while the snapshots on the big screens of the Dublin streets where the musicians grew up weren&rsquo;t really necessary, they weren&rsquo;t obnoxious distractions, either.</p><p>Add to this the enduring groove of &ldquo;Mysterious Ways,&rdquo; always a reminder of why Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton are one of the best rhythm sections in rock; the several eruptions of pure-noise Edge guitar; powerfully minimalist acoustic readings of &ldquo;Ordinary Love&rdquo; and &ldquo;Every Breaking Wave,&rdquo; and Bono&rsquo;s poignant evocation of the ongoing battles for the soul of America represented by Ferguson, Staten Island, and Charleston, and&hellip; well&hellip; this band has got its mojo back, and I can&rsquo;t really say it any better than that.</p><p><strong>(U2 performs at the United Center again tonight, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, and some tickets remain for several of these shows.)</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 23:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-06/u2s-innocence-experience-tour-reminds-you-why-you-used-love-band-112245