WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EDM after the drop: What a wounded corporate giant means for dance music culture http://www.wbez.org/news/music/edm-after-drop-what-wounded-corporate-giant-means-dance-music-culture-113209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res445043110"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-182603438_wide-cbe1cf96bfd6238dd03c6091799431e3a2fce61b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 343px; width: 610px;" title="Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Mud has a way of capturing the popular memory of a music festival. After stormy weather hit this year&#39;s massive TomorrowWorld, an electronic dance music gathering held in Chattahoochee Hillso, Georgia on September 25-27, images circulated online of self-identified festival goers sleeping, stranded, on the soggy ground. Organizers of the event, which last year drew 160,000 people, ultimately closed off the final day to anyone not among the estimated 40,000 on-site campers.</p></div></div></div><p>TomorrowWorld has promised refunds, and a festival spokesperson told NPR in a statement, &quot;The safety of our attendees is our top priority.&quot; But the public-relations disaster came at a curious time for the fest&#39;s parent company, SFX Entertainment, and the world of EDM as a whole.</p><p>On October 14, SFX faces a self-imposed deadline for considering offers to buy all or part of the EDM-focused conglomerate. SFX&#39;s D-Day arrives after multiple postponements, and after its colorful chief executive, the veteran radio and live music impresario Robert F.X. Sillerman, scrapped an offer to buy the roughly 60% of the business he didn&#39;t already own. The backdrop is a precipitous fall in SFX&#39;s market value, from more than $1 billion when it went public in October 2013 to around $70 million as of October 5. With so much money in flux, what happens to SFX can&#39;t help but reflect on the broader culture of dance music, which goes back more than four decades, to the worlds of rave, techno, house and disco. In 2015, that mud is big business.</p><div id="res445046423"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Robert F.X. Sillerman, CEO of SFX." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-184435502_sq-8e39f0d6a15e79b70a170137d0651f03b1f4c771-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Robert F.X. Sillerman, CEO of SFX. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Sillerman, in a nearly 40-minute interview with NPR just hours before the photos from Georgia began surfacing, acknowledged his business failings while describing his attraction to EDM culture as sociological more than aesthetic. &quot;There are things I&#39;ve done terribly and I deserve to be faulted for them,&quot; the 67-year-old Bronx native says from a home in the Hamptons, his voice raspy following successful tongue cancer treatment in 2001. Of EDM&#39;s young fans and any connection they might feel with the scene that existed before them, he tells NPR: &quot;I don&#39;t think they want to discover the past. I think they want to invent the future.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>The genesis of SFX was a little bit of both. In 2000, Sillerman sold the first version of SFX Entertainment, a patchwork of live-music companies that is now Live Nation Entertainment, to Clear Channel for $4.4 billion. He founded the current SFX in 2012 with a plan to spend $1 billion buying up EDM businesses. In effect, he was looking to repeat his past deal-making success with the music he now saw as the future. Among SFX&#39;s high-profile acquisitions have been the European festival promoters ID&amp;T, American festivals such as New York&#39;s Electric Zoo and the genre&#39;s top digital music retailer, Beatport.</p><p>SFX positioned itself as the face of EDM but never laid claim to the tradition that gave rise to it. &quot;From a personal point of view, I&#39;ve always loved to dance, but that&#39;s not why we got into this,&quot; Sillerman says. &quot;The appeal was pure and simply to be attached to a generational movement.&quot;</p><p>Nor does Sillerman profess to bring anything new to the culture. &quot;If there was a contribution we&#39;ve made, it&#39;s to make it easier for fans and DJs and producers around the world to access it.&quot;</p><p>But despite SFX&#39;s partnerships with established promoters, the company&#39;s connection to the culture it markets is subject to debate. &quot;That genre is evolving,&quot; says a former SFX executive who asked not to be named, citing obligations to a current employer. &quot;When I was at SFX, we didn&#39;t tell the proper story about the culture and the evolution of the actual genre. It&#39;s ever-changing. We used it as a static point in time, and that&#39;s not what that genre&#39;s about.&quot;</p><p>A weakened SFX, then, doesn&#39;t necessarily mean weakness for the hodgepodge of styles that might be loosely lumped together as EDM.</p><p>In fact, few acts today stand with one foot in SFX&#39;s world and another in the underground, says Marea Stamper, who DJs and produces music as the Black Madonna and works as a creative director and talent buyer at Chicago club Smart Bar. &quot;It&#39;s like comparing Kiss to the Clash,&quot; she observes. &quot;They&#39;re just not related.&quot;</p><p>Electronic dance music actually has multiple cultures running in parallel, and none are going away anytime soon, says Philip Sherburne, a contributing editor at Pitchfork (and former Beatport news blog editor). That&#39;s not to say mainstream culture hasn&#39;t changed. Sherburne traces a shift to around 2008, when longtime club-goers who followed dance music traditions gave way to a younger, bigger crop of fans that were learning about the music through modern channels.</p><div id="res445045252"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Avicii performs during the KROQ Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Music Center on May 31, 2014 in Irvine, California." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-494974919_wide-90e8617be33d12c64a7f41cb3b1ce094c843e3e0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Avicii performs during the KROQ Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Music Center on May 31, 2014 in Irvine, California. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><p>Sherburne agrees with Stamper&#39;s comparison between SFX-scale acts and vintage pop-metal bands. &quot;Just sonically, Avicii or mainstream EDM sounds to me like Van Halen&#39;s &#39;Jump,&#39;&quot; Sherburne says. &quot;It&#39;s the same synthesizers; it&#39;s the same pleasure centers. You could say that Alesso is Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi took metal or hard rock and aimed it squarely at a very mainstream, middle-American public. That&#39;s exactly the same thing: These artists have taken what was once a subculture and redesigned it along a pop format. I don&#39;t know the economics of hair metal, but it seems to me pretty clear that [with EDM] we&#39;re in the era of the Wingers and the Whitesnakes.&quot;</p></div></div><p>Fittingly, the neon and glow-stick set has climbed up the pop charts. In July, &quot;Where Are Ü Now,&quot; a tender electronic-pop ballad by Jack Ü, the joint venture of producers Diplo and Skrillex, and featuring Justin Bieber on vocals, cracked the top 10 of&nbsp;Billboard&#39;s Hot 100.&nbsp;The New York Times&nbsp;documented the making of the song in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/25/arts/music/justin-bieber-diplo-skrillex-make-a-hit-song.html?_r=1">video</a>, rebutting the idea of EDM-pop as just empty calories.</p><p>Ali Shirazinia, who won a Grammy in 2002 with progressive house duo Deep Dish and now performs minimal house and techno as Dubfire, has seen EDM from various sides, finding value in each.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t have time for nostalgia or boohooing about the way things used to be,&quot; Shirazinia tells NPR in an emailed statement. &quot;What defines me as a DJ is being steeped in the tradition of the art form, and I am grateful and very fortunate to have had that education. It makes me a more skilled, fully formed DJ. But it is not essential.&quot;</p><p>If dance music has avoided artistic bankruptcy, SFX recently raised concerns it might be headed toward the more traditional kind.</p><p>On August 10, SFX reported that despite a 48% rise in second-quarter revenue, it lost a net $48 million. Four days later, the company revealed Sillerman was rescinding his offer to take it private, reopening the bidding until October 2. SFX said it had received an unnamed &quot;indication of interest at a price lower than the $5.25 per share offered by Sillerman.&quot;</p><p>On September 17, the company announced $90 million in new financing. Rich Tullo, director of research at the financial services organization&nbsp;Albert Fried &amp; Company, tells NPR the financing &quot;takes bankruptcy off the table.&quot; Ratings agency Moody&#39;s called the move &quot;credit positive&quot; and SFX poised to stay afloat. Yet on October 1, SFX once again postponed the cut-off for bids, saying offers to buy all or part of the company would now be due October 14.</p><p>Speaking before the extension, Sillerman told NPR he plans to submit a revised bid, without further details. Asked whether he plans to sell a part of the business, such as Beatport, he says: &quot;No,&quot; though he immediately adds, &quot;I know that whenever I&#39;ve made a definitive statement like that it always turns out not to be true ... but we&#39;ve been pretty careful assembling only parts of the business that genuinely make sense.&quot;</p><p>The realm of quarterly earnings reports and corporate mergers is absurdly far removed from the early days of raving in the United States.</p><p>Drew Daniel, a member of experimental electronic duo Matmos who also records as Soft Pink Truth, remembers his experience with dance-music subculture began at free, illegal parties &mdash; the type that would be powered with a generator under a freeway overpass.</p><p>&quot;There were always limits and doubts that I had about the utopian ambitions of the rave era, but there was still a feeling that raving could mean cutting ties to business as usual,&quot; Daniel says. &quot;It&#39;s epitomized in that kind of hilarious gatefold drawing inside one of those early Prodigy LPs.&quot;</p><p>The artwork for the 1994 album&nbsp;Music for the Jilted Generationshows a long-haired raver cutting a bridge that connects the toxic, heavily policed city to an idyllic meadow.</p><p>&quot;That exemplifies this idea that radical forms of dance music could also lead to radical forms of creating community,&quot; Daniel says. &quot;There&#39;s always been a spectrum, so I don&#39;t want to say there used to be a good thing and now there&#39;s a terrible thing &mdash; that&#39;s overly simplified.&quot;</p><p>SFX confronts different sorts of battles. A class-action lawsuit claims Sillerman&#39;s buyout offer was a &quot;sham process.&quot; Another suit, which a federal court judge in Los Angeles ruled may proceed, is from three men who allege they co-founded SFX with Sillerman. Asked about the cases, Sillerman tells NPR, &quot;Without being disrespectful, look at the people who filed them.&quot;</p><p>SFX-owned Beatport came under fire in early August, when it told some artists and labels via email that their royalties were &quot;trapped&quot; in connection with Sillerman&#39;s buy-out deal proposal. Within a week, Beatport reversed course and issued a contrite statement. &quot;I did not pound the table,&quot; acknowledges Sillerman. &quot;I should have and I finally did.&quot;</p><p>SFX has a reputation as particularly business-minded even in the realm of corporate EDM.</p><p>Jason Huvaere and Sam Fotias, co-founders of Paxahau, the production and promotion team behind Detroit&#39;s Movement Electronic Music Festival, differentiate SFX from Live Nation, which signed deals with the likes of Los Angeles promoters Insomniac and HARD.</p><p>&quot;When SFX came in, they had promoters lined up down the block because they were openly selling it as a financial gain,&quot; Huvaere recalls. &quot;That was the big pitch. I got a text once that said, &#39;Do you like money,&#39; question mark.&quot;</p><p>Shirazinia, aka Dubfire, concurs, &quot;Everyone had a price, and Sillerman took advantage of that.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, some indicators for the EDM business are less glowing than they once were.</p><p>The global EDM business took in $6.2 billion in revenue in 2014, according to the latest&nbsp;<a href="http://www.internationalmusicsummit.com/img/stand_alone_files/file/original/ims-business-report-2015-na-edition-vfinal-14.pdf">IMS Business Report</a>, growing at a 12% pace compared with 37% in 2013.</p><div id="res445044873"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in September 2013." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-182603664_wide-ccbd12772bb47593630d6f911f508303f60932a4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in September 2013. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>More anecdotally, the EDM-themed Zac Efron vehicle&nbsp;We Are Your Friends&nbsp;opened August 28 for a first-weekend gross of only $1.8 million, one of the worst ever for a wide-release movie.</p></div></div></div><p>And though a slimmed-down iteration of SFX-owned Electric Zoo boasted attendance of 80,000 over Labor Day weekend, the company canceled its planned September 25-26 One Tribe Festival, set to take place outside Los Angeles, citing disappointing sales. Add to that the debacle at TomorrowWorld, which the local authorities have pledged to investigate. The review process will probably start this week, Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Tom Reed says in an email to NPR, &quot;We&#39;ve been focused on first getting everybody out safely, and then cleanup.&quot;</p><p>Another risk factor for SFX in particular and EDM in general is its perceived link with drug use. SFX acquired Electric Zoo in November 2013, just two months after the deaths of two fans and hospitalizations of three others led the event on New York City&#39;s Randall&#39;s Island to close a day early.</p><p>The correlation between EDM and health problems is overstated, suggests Albert &amp; Fried&#39;s Tullo. &quot;Where the industry needs to be vigilant is making sure there&#39;s proper emergency medical attention and security at these festivals to keep everybody safe,&quot; he says.</p><p>Because the EDM business is tailored toward the idea of taking part in an experience rather than watching a performance, it doesn&#39;t necessarily lend itself to the kind of growth needed for SFX to be profitable. &quot;Scaling an experience is difficult to do,&quot; says Brandon Clark, an entertainment lawyer at McKee, Voorhees &amp; Sease who has handled A&amp;R for a small EDM imprint. &quot;That&#39;s almost in the DNA of the experience.&quot;</p><p>As Sillerman explains it, his business strategy for SFX is rooted in sociological theory about the millennial generation. In the rock era, he says, with the dawn of singers writing their own songs, &quot;What you had was a seismic shift where music became an expression and not a reflection.&quot; But &quot;the digital generation,&quot; born in the &#39;90s, &quot;decided to not reflect but to interpret,&quot; which they did through creating &quot;digital music.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We know that the generation today, thankfully, likes to make up its own mind. They don&#39;t make decisions based on movie reviews or restaurant reviews. It&#39;s peer to peer.</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;ve been to an electronic music festival, you&#39;ll see 50,000 kids smiling, dancing, each one telling their own story and interpreting what it means, not being told what they&#39;re listening to. When you think of peer to peer and you think of digital and the freedom that that gives, the cultural impact of the music is unstoppable. And it&#39;s why Justin Bieber and everyone else are asking in, not the other way around.&quot;</p><p>The gravitational pull of a once-$1 billion company is inherently wide. Still, there seems to be broad agreement that dance music&#39;s parallel cultures can find a way to coexist.</p><p>&quot;Dance music will always happen and even have mainstream popularity,&quot; says Smart Bar&#39;s Stamper. &quot;It&#39;s just not going to look the way [SFX] thought.&quot;</p><p>The arrival of big money players hasn&#39;t hurt &quot;the underground culture,&quot; says Paxahau&#39;s Fotias. &quot;It&#39;s almost done more to bring more people to it.&quot;</p><p>Daniel, of Soft Pink Truth and Matmos, says, &quot;There are still plenty of ways that this music can circulate where it&#39;s not tethered to money, whether it&#39;s a SoundCloud culture of people making and sharing weird forms, or whether it&#39;s house parties that are literally house parties, where you aren&#39;t paying to get in the door.&quot;</p><p>He&#39;s careful to note that how much money changes hands doesn&#39;t correlate neatly with the quality of music. But doing events above a certain scale often leads to &quot;increasingly cumbersome and increasingly compromised relationships, and the result is something vulgar and crappy,&quot; Daniel says with a laugh.</p><p>Paxahua&#39;s Huvaere says he can&#39;t take issue with any publicly traded company for seeing an opportunity in the growing dance-music space, though his own business has remained independent. &quot;He&#39;s almost just part of nature,&quot; Huvaere says of Sillerman. In other words, where there&#39;s a chance to make money, someone will take it; whatever can&#39;t be valued in dollar terms is practically beside the point.</p><p>It&#39;s easy to see a disconnect between SFX and the extant culture of dance music. More immediately relevant than any cultural changes embodied by the EDM generation, though, might be the commercial ones. And by any account, SFX has made mistakes of management.</p><p>The former SFX executive contacted by NPR says the company was concentrating on increasingly outmoded ways of marketing. &quot;[There&#39;s] a business shift that goes along with that generational shift,&quot; the executive says. &quot;You don&#39;t centralize the sponsorship anymore. You do more native advertising now. There are just fundamental ways of monetizing the business &mdash; [SFX] are not building the business around that.&quot;</p><p>All signs point to plenty more years ahead for electronic music that people dance to. And it&#39;s too soon to count out SFX, though the company may take on a different form. If and when the results of the bidding process emerge with the October 14 deadline, the future of Sillerman&#39;s empire &mdash; and the living, breathing culture that continues to progress in its shadow &mdash; may soon become clearer than Georgia mud.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/10/06/445039871/edm-after-the-drop-what-a-wounded-corporate-giant-means-for-dance-music-culture"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/music/edm-after-drop-what-wounded-corporate-giant-means-dance-music-culture-113209 Radio M : A survey of bachata music from the Dominican Republic, Ehtio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, oud music and Turkish psych http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-10-01/radio-m-survey-bachata-music-dominican-republic-ehtio-jazz-legend-mulatu <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Eladio-Romero-Santos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week on Radio M we survey a style of music from the Dominican Republic that as recently as the 1980&#39;s was considered too vulgar, crude and musically rustic to enter mainstream music: bachata.</p><p>Like any musical history, the birth of bachata isn&#39;t clear cut but it&#39;s generally acknowledged that bachata early on was a respectable and mainstream music when it was more closely aligned with the bolero. It then became associated with the countryside, brothels and prostitutes and relegated as outsider music.</p><p>But one thing is certain- it&#39;s the guitar picking that sets bachata apart from other forms of music in the Dominican Republic.</p><p>We&#39;ll also continue our fascination with the music of Belgian artist Stromae, plus the sounds of Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, 1970&#39;s music from Nigeria&#39;s The Lijadu Sisters and other grooves from around the globe.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Playlist</p><p>9PM</p><p>Duke Ellington &amp; His Orchestra- Oclupaca- Latin American Suite</p><p>Luis Vargas- Tranquila- Putumayo: Republica Dominica</p><p>Super Boiro Band- Kha Mu Lan Ma- Guinee 70: The Discotheque Years</p><p>Stromae- Tous les Memes- Racine Carree</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CAMWdvo71ls" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Joan Soriano &amp; Andre Veloz- Veneno- Me Decidi</p><p>Aram Arkalien Ensemble- gay Sultan- The Oud</p><p>9:30PM</p><p>Ramon Cordero &amp; Eliado Romero Santos- Calzoncillo Largo- The Bachata Legends</p><p>Ramon Cordero sings with the Bachata Roja Legends in Santa Monica, CA. Ramon in accompanied by Edilio Paredes on lead guitar, Joan Soriano on rhythm guitar, Samuel Paredes on bass, Roberto Santos on guira and Randy Alejo on Tambora.This performance was at the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nWs-xyX4HYY" width="420"></iframe></p><p>El Chivo Sin Ley &amp; Eliado Paredes- Chacki Chacki- The Bachata Legends</p><p>Groupe El Azhar- Touedar Aakli ( My Reason is Lost) -1970&#39;s Algerian Proto Rai Underground</p><p>The Lijadu Sisters- Amebo- Danger</p><p>The Lijadu Sisters in rehearsal and conversation</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-yYe8bD3Ahk" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Luis Segura- Mi Muchachita- Bachata Roja: Amor y Amargue</p><p>Jose manuel Calderon- Resginacion- El Romantico</p><p>10PM</p><p>Daniel Morillo- La Puerta Rompere- Bachata Roja: Amor y Amargue</p><p>Juan Bautista- Estoy Aqui Pero No Soy Yo- Bachata Roja: Bachata from the Cabaret Era</p><p>Super Uba- Tierra Lejana- Tierrra Lejana</p><p>Melody Gardot- Les Etoiles- My One and Only Thrill</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ds23FoA83pQ" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Laetitia Sadier- The Scene of the Lie- Something Shines</p><p>Mulatu Astatke &amp; The Heliocentrics- Mulatu- Inspiration Information</p><p>The godfather of Ethio-Jazz taken from Mulatu Astatke and Step Ahead&#39;s performance at Fontenay-sous-Bois, Fontenay en Scènes, May 2013, France</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aN3SY_rLWEw" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Hakki Bulut- Gercek Seven Kiskanir- Psych Funk a la Turkish</p><p>10:30PM</p><p>Toots &amp; The Maytals- Funky Kingston- Funky Kingston</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8oOtz6mE7sM" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Dioris Valladares &amp; His Conjunto Tipico- Los Dos Merengues- 90 Degrees of Shade: Hot Jump Up Island Sounds from the Carribean</p><p>Ramon Cordero- Amor del Bueno- Bachata Roja: Bachata from the Cabaret Era</p><p>Luis Enriquez- Mas Que Nada- The Mood Mosiac: The Hascish Party-</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TtOU3mZY7OI" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Mauricio Maestro &amp; Nana Vasconcelos- Ancient Truth- Upside Down</p><p>Rob- Boogie On- Funky Rob Way</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-10-01/radio-m-survey-bachata-music-dominican-republic-ehtio-jazz-legend-mulatu Grappling with ‘Love and Mercy’ and ‘Cobain: Montage of Heck’ http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/grappling-%E2%80%98love-and-mercy%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98cobain-montage-heck%E2%80%99-113075 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Love-Mercy_poster_goldposter_com_3_0.jpg" style="height: 499px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Few things have been as destructive to rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll&mdash;or, indeed, to the creation of any great art&mdash;as the misguided notion that the most brilliant artists are in some way seriously damaged or deranged, whether because of mental illness, substance abuse, or both. This enduring myth often is blamed on the Romantic poets, rock stars one and all, though it&rsquo;s a perversion of what they actually believed.</p><p>In charting the ideals of the Romantic movement in the 1802 preface of <em>Lyrical Ballads</em>, William Wordsworth wrote, &ldquo;All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: but though this be true, Poems to which any value can be attached were never produced on any variety of subjects but by a man, who being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had also thought long and deeply.&rdquo; In other words, good art is hard work. &ldquo;Genius is one percent <em>inspiration</em> and ninety-nine percent <em>perspiration</em>,&rdquo; goes the quote often attributed to Thomas Edison. Geniuses create despite&mdash;not because of&mdash;their troubles and pains.</p><p>Fearing that, despite the near-universally glowing reviews, the recent Brian Wilson biopic <em>Love and Mercy </em>and the Kurt Cobain documentary <em>Cobain: Montage of Heck </em>would fail to make this distinction and instead play into that too-often-fatal myth, I avoided both when they were released early last summer. The music means too much for me to endure that lie for another second. But in the last week, I finally worked up the courage to deal with them&mdash;and my fears were not unfounded.</p><p>To be sure, there are good things about both films. Paul Dano is extraordinary as the young Wilson in director Bill Pohlad&rsquo;s <em>Love and Mercy</em>, and as the friend who urged me to finally watch it rightly noted, the scenes in the recording studio highlighting the crafting of the immortal <em>Pet Sounds </em>and &ldquo;Good Vibrations&rdquo; with the Wrecking Crew were perfect (though the notion that session drummer Hal Blaine was the first to encourage Brian to view himself as a genius was a cheap bit of screenwriting nonsense; in numerous interviews through the years, including <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/topic/halblaine">a recent chat with <em>Sound Opinions</em></a>, Blaine has offered very little insight into Wilson, and Wilson was no doubt already well aware of his musical talents before being told about them by the hired help, thank you very much).</p><p>The cons in <em>Love and Mercy </em>far outweigh the pros. As reprehensible as much of what they did may have been, the movie&rsquo;s patriarch Murry Wilson (Bill Camp) and Svengali psychiatrist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamitti) are one-dimensional super-villains who take advantage of the boy genius while inflicting unspeakable pain in pursuit of their own enrichment. Brian&rsquo;s life has often been reduced to a progression of people taking advantage of him, though the movie&rsquo;s portrait of his current wife Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) borders on saintly, even as the former car dealer turned artist manager could just as easily be seen as the latest user. (Ledbetter consulted on the film; Murry and Landy conveniently are dead.)</p><p>Current Beach Boys leader Mike Love (Jake Abel) also comes off as a tool, deriding the orchestral brilliance of <em>Pet Sounds</em>&mdash;<a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2015/06/mike-love-of-beach-boys-on-love-mercy-poor-brian-hes-had-a-rough-rough-time/">something he&rsquo;s always denied doing</a>&mdash;but the conservative idiot certainly ain&rsquo;t wrong in scoffing at the miserable mess of the <em>Smile </em>sessions, or strongly disliking Van Dyke Parks. I&rsquo;m right there with him on both counts. Genius Brian certainly was and is not infallible.</p><p>Having interviewed the artist, I find John Cusack&rsquo;s version of the older Wilson not nearly as sad and unnerving as the real man, who presents like a stroke victim. That&rsquo;s a clumsy writer&rsquo;s description, mind you, not an armchair diagnosis, and the lack of any factual examination in the movie of Brian&rsquo;s real problems ultimately is its biggest flaw. A short note at the end of the film tells us Landy wrongly diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic with manic depression; these days, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/06/03/inside_brian_wilsons_room_the_famed_beach_boy_opens_up_about_mental_illness_medication_manipulation_and_the_movie_about_his_life/">Ledbetter says he has schizoaffective disorder</a>.</p><p>Absent any facts backing that up, the movie once again leaves us with the impression that Wilson simply was &ldquo;touched&rdquo;&mdash;blessed by his angels and tormented by his devils&mdash;and never mind the painstaking work, discipline, and calculation of, say, sitting with veteran advertising jingle writer Tony Asher to pair lyrics to the music he was writing for <em>Pet Sounds.</em></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck.jpg" style="height: 480px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div></div><p>If you don&rsquo;t care about musical history and just want a pleasant fictional diversion, like the similarly fact-challenged <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-08/straight-outta-compton-lamest-kind-gloss-over-musical-biopic-112628">Straight Outta Compton</a> </em>(on course to be the biggest-grossing film of the year), <em>Love and Mercy</em> is primo Hollywood fluff. Bring on the popcorn! But <em>Cobain: Montage of Heck </em>is a documentary, so its flaws are more gnawing.</p><p>Brett Morgen&rsquo;s Francis Bean Cobain-approved doc does us a service in trotting out home movies of baby and toddler Kurt (whose upbringing seems stunningly normal, despite the pain of divorce and parental shunning during his teen years), and seeing Kurt and Courtney blissfully happy together and in the presence of their daughter should be revelatory to those eager to characterize La Love as the wicked demoness plotting the murder of her innocent husband.</p><p>The straight talk from former girlfriend Tracey Marander and former bandmate Krist Novoselic also is welcome, even if the rest of the overly long film is determined to undermine Marander&rsquo;s message that Cobain relied on hard work rather than divine revelation and Novoselic&rsquo;s observation that everything we need to know about the man is in his art (so we ought to just shut up and listen).</p><p>If <em>Cobain: Montage of Heck </em>simply paired Nirvana&rsquo;s music with the home movies, it would have been easier to champion, if still not significant for a better understanding of the artist. But the attempt to tell a visual life story a la the William S. Burroughs cut-and-paste methodology that Cobain used for his lyrics is a wretched mess, with needless animation of Kurt&rsquo;s scrawling in his journals and even more unnecessary cartoon renditions of scenes from his life, sometimes paired with dramatic readings by an actor that are not identified as such. Meanwhile, how about some more of that footage of the man and his band actually doing the work of crafting <em>In Utero </em>at Pachyderm with Steve Albini?</p><p>Context is missing throughout: Footage is never identified, the timeline becomes extremely fuzzy, and while much is made of the pressures of stardom taking its toll on the sensitive artist, there is no attempt to delve into the role of those around him in the industry in enabling his addiction and self-destruction. In the end, it&rsquo;s still those damn angels&mdash;the songs were a gift from god&mdash;and devils; woe unto the forces that took him from us, and fie upon the inconvenient fact that Kurt ultimately was responsible for Kurt&rsquo;s end!</p><p>&ldquo;Now he&rsquo;s gone and joined that stupid club,&rdquo; Kurt&rsquo;s mom Wendy Fradenburg Cobain O&rsquo;Connor said upon hearing the news of his suicide at the storied age of 27, same as Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Amy Winehouse. (She doesn&rsquo;t say anything as powerful in the film, and comes off as way creepier than Courtney.)</p><p>Again, as someone who interviewed the man&mdash;and found him much, much smarter, more calculating, and more aware of himself and the game than he ever is given credit for&mdash;there&rsquo;s a hell of a lot more to Kurt&rsquo;s story than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame clichéd narrative you can hear being crafted by the mainstream press via the superficial questions from David Fricke, who gets a big fat thank you in the end along with <em>Rolling Stone</em>&rsquo;s Jann Wenner.</p><p>Sorry, but corporate magazines still suck. And so do corporate movies peddling the same tired faux-Romantic crap. Meanwhile, as Novoselic says, the music is all that matters, and to hell with the myth.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUhFpFQeilM" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cw5nZeptzEU" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Rating for <em>Love and Mercy </em>on the four-stare scale: 2.5 stars.</strong></p><p><strong>Rating for <em>Cobain: Montage of Heck</em>: 1.5 stars.</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> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/grappling-%E2%80%98love-and-mercy%E2%80%99-and-%E2%80%98cobain-montage-heck%E2%80%99-113075 Back from Nowhere, Ride delivers at the Riv http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/back-nowhere-ride-delivers-riv-113073 <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/IMG_0583.JPG" title="Ride at the Riv on Friday (Carmel Carrillo)." /></div><p>If the primary measure for the validity of a band&rsquo;s reunion is whether the group left unfinished business in need of completion, a strong case can be made for the return of Ride, the groundbreaking Oxford quintet that was one of the most vital in the shoegaze/dream-pop scene of the early &rsquo;90s.</p><p>As dedicated manager Dave Newton noted in the balcony of the Riviera Theater Friday night, Ride only played Chicago twice in its first incarnation. When the band asked for a show of hands for how many had seen it back in the day, a mere handful in the packed crowd shot up. And as great as it is on the four albums it produced between 1990 and 1996, it was always louder, harder, and much more intense&mdash;almost overwhelming in the style of its peers and Creation labelmates My Bloody Valentine&mdash;onstage.</p><p>The enormously talented Andy Bell, who fronted the group with fellow guitarist-vocalist Mark Gardener, went on to become a hired hand with Oasis, then Liam Gallagher&rsquo;s Beady Eye. He likely played to more people at some festivals than had seen Ride on the entirety of its first U.S. tour, and that just ain&rsquo;t right: Think of John Lennon joining Herman&rsquo;s Hermits.</p><p>The influence of the group&rsquo;s swirling guitars, seductive harmonies, and driving rhythms looms large on the current rock scene, with Montreal&rsquo;s Besnard Lakes, which opened with a strong set on Friday, just one of a dozen worthy examples. And though Ride&rsquo;s last album <em>Tarantula </em>represented a bit of a retrenching, number three, <em>Carnival of Light</em>, is an unjustly overlooked gem that significantly broadened the trademark hazy sound, offering a dozen new directions that could still have been explored if Bell, Gardener, frenetic drummer Loz Colbert, and stoic bassist Steve Queralt hadn&rsquo;t gone their separate ways for a time.</p><p>So, hell, yeah, it was great to have the original foursome back at the Riv. And through an 18-song, more than 90-minute set, Gardener&rsquo;s Sinatra-style hat masking the loss of the long bangs of yore was the only significant sign of the passage of time.</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/IMG_0574.JPG" title="Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, and his hat (Carmel Carrillo). " /></div><p>The undulating waves of guitar once again hit you and dragged you under like the sonic embodiment of those ominous swells on the cover of the classic debut <em>Nowhere</em>. The gorgeous melodies for the open-ended lyrics still were the life preserver for holding on and pushing forward to the white light. And Colbert&rsquo;s unswervingly steady drumming, the anchor to keep you grounded, was all the more impressive for never faltering as every other sound veered in and out of time in an ocean of tremolo that left this listener feeling as if his internal organs still are vibrating 12 hours later.</p><p>Of course, the other measure for whether a reunion is more than an oldies tour is whether the band still has something to say, and Ride offered no new material (yet). And by avoiding the songs from <em>Carnival of Light</em>, with its far broader palette of varied sounds, song structures, and tempos, the group appeared more monolithic than in fact it originally was. (As alluring as that <em>Nowhere </em>haze was and is, the psychedelic fog could make you wonder, &ldquo;Haven&rsquo;t they played this song already?&rdquo;) Manager Dave said the band was adamant about not bringing a fifth member along to replicate the more orchestral songs of its third album, but to add some variety to the night, a stripped-down semi-acoustic treatment of those tunes would have been perfect.</p><p>These are quibbles, and they&rsquo;re more about hopes for the future if Ride continues then they are notes of disappointment about Friday. For now, like most fans, I&rsquo;m just glad to have the boys back. And, in that spirit, I&rsquo;ll tack on a video of Ride live in 1992 and the liner notes I&rsquo;m still proud to have been asked to write for the 20<sup>th</sup> anniversary reissue of <em>Nowhere </em>in 2011.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HinzCSYu4YY" width="560"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><strong>RIDE LINER NOTES: Nowhere Never Sounded So Good</strong></p><p><strong>By Jim DeRogatis</strong></p><p>After years of gushing about my favorite bands in fanzines, I was a few weeks into my first professional gig as assistant editor at <em>Request </em>in fall 1990 when <em>Nowhere </em>arrived on my desk as an advance cassette from Ride&rsquo;s U.S. label, Warner Bros. I already had fallen in love with the band&rsquo;s hypnotic, mysterious, and moody sounds via its initial salvo of three four-song EPs: the self-titled debut in January 1990; <em>Play </em>that April, and <em>Fall </em>that September. Anyone interested in adventurous rock at the time bought everything issued by the U.K.&rsquo;s independent Creation Records, and Ride&rsquo;s music was more than enough to justify those costly imports.</p><p>Even so, <em>Nowhere </em>was something else: a musical tour de force where every element seemed perfectly conceived and working in blissful harmony, from the enigmatic cover art of that giant oceanic swell, to the crisp, powerful, yet hazy and disorienting mix of Alan Moulder (a name already familiar from his work with the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine), to those swirling, intertwining guitars, intimate but otherworldly vocals, and sublimely open-ended lyrics of Andy Bell and Mark Gardener. Then I saw the band during its first American tour, and was even more stunned to discover its ferocious power onstage, where the rhythm section of Laurence &ldquo;Loz&rdquo; Colbert and Steve Queralt could only be compared to the immortal Keith Moon and John Entwistle.</p><p>Of course, I pressured my editors non-stop to write a feature about the band, and they finally relented, though they cut out all of my hyperbolic raving about how Ride was the sound of the future, even as it lovingly referenced three decades of psychedelic rock past. At the time, just before the alternative-rock explosion, many critics contended that everything that <em>could</em> be done with two guitars, bass, and drums <em>had</em> been done, and the only ground to break was in techno and hip-hop. For me, Ride obliterated that argument, though few American writers agreed. Ironically, many would be saying the same thing about a year later, after the release of Nirvana&rsquo;s <em>Nevermind.</em></p><p>Soft-spoken and supremely polite in that oh-so-British way, the driving forces of Ride merely wince when asked about the group&rsquo;s origins, before confirming that, yes, the band really did start when Bell, playing guitar in the orchestra, and Gardener, crooning &ldquo;Grease is the word (is the word that they heard)&rdquo; onstage, met during a production of the &rsquo;50s rock musical at the Cheney School in their native Oxford. Both were in their mid-teens. &ldquo;It was kind of a crappy old school, but known for good stage productions,&rdquo; Gardener says. &ldquo;That year it was <em>Grease</em>, and I thought I would give it a go. I never really ever thought of singing out loud before; I just knew at that point that I absolutely loved music, and that&rsquo;s why I started to gravitate towards Andy.&rdquo;</p><p>The two bonded over a mutual devotion to the Smiths. A musical prodigy who could play any instrument he picked up, Bell had grown up entranced by the sounds of the psychedelic Beatles&mdash;&ldquo;Those were the only records in the house that were pop music&rdquo;&mdash;while after Johnny Marr, the music that most captivated him in the mid-&rsquo;80s came from California&rsquo;s Paisley Underground, in particular the Rain Parade. Added to these influences were the dark, foreboding, and enigmatic images of the Velvet Underground as portrayed in the book <em>Up-Tight, </em>which Bell and Gardener spent hours scrutinizing.</p><p>In 1988, the two friends began Foundation Studies in Art and Design at North Oxfordshire College. There they linked up with Colbert and Queralt, who they already knew slightly from Cheney. Queralt had a four-track cassette deck, and they began rehearsing and recording. &ldquo;At the time, in the Art Foundation group, we had a project to try and paint movement,&rdquo; Gardener recalls, &ldquo;so the whole thing about movement was in our heads&mdash;&lsquo;riding&rsquo; and &lsquo;ride.&rsquo; Plus, Loz had just bought a ride cymbal when we were trying a few name ideas. &lsquo;Ride&rsquo; was great, too, because it has different connotations, from sexual, to movement, to &lsquo;being taken for a ride&rsquo;&mdash;just very simple and effective. It said a lot, but it also didn&rsquo;t say anything. It suited the soundscapes and all the ideas we were trying to create&mdash;just all very wide open.&rdquo;</p><p>Gardener and Bell say the essential Ride sound was there from the first jams at Oxfordshire, with most of the songs starting with a musical idea from Bell. &ldquo;Things like &lsquo;In A Different Place,&rsquo; when I was about 15 or 16 years old, I had a couple of guitar lines like that which I&rsquo;d just play for five minutes,&rdquo; recording on a cheap cassette player, Bell says. Gardener sang Bell&rsquo;s words, and the riffs became songs as they were fleshed out by the band in rehearsal and honed onstage at club shows booked by Dave Newton, Queralt&rsquo;s boss at an Oxford record store, and Ride&rsquo;s future manager.</p><p>After he saw the group opening for the Soup Dragons in 1989, the legendary Alan McGee signed the band to Creation. &ldquo;Mark was the one who was friends with Alan McGee,&rdquo; Bell says. &ldquo;He was the more outgoing person. I just remember him coming back with these stories of some wild nights out, meeting people like Alan or some guy from an indie band that got signed that we would be impressed by.&rdquo; The first three EPs followed in short order, recorded by Marc Waterman at EMI&rsquo;s studios. &ldquo;He was just the house engineer guy,&rdquo; Gardener recalls, &ldquo;and we got on really well with him. At that time, we smoked a bit of pot, and he smoked as well, and it was, &lsquo;Hey, man, this guy is really cool! He knows what he&rsquo;s doing in the studio,&rsquo; because we really didn&rsquo;t&mdash;we just knew what we were doing with the music.&rdquo;</p><p>The EPs were well-received, with <em>Play </em>and <em>Fall </em>cracking the Top 40 on the U.K. charts&mdash;a first for Creation&mdash;and the British music press cheering the band on, albeit with its usual snarkiness. Thanks to the Oxford connection, Ride was dubbed part of &ldquo;the scene that celebrates itself,&rdquo; though the musicians always were more shy than cocksure, and together with ascendant peers such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, they were labeled &ldquo;shoegazers,&rdquo; even though, as noted earlier and evidenced by the live recordings from the Roxy in L.A. during that first American tour, they were fierce onstage. Chalk it all up to their innocent schoolboy facades.</p><p>&ldquo;We were just out of school, and we had no intention of pretending we weren&rsquo;t by being &lsquo;rock and roll,&rsquo;&rdquo; Bell says. &ldquo;We thought it was really corny if a band had a bottle of Jack Daniels onstage.&rdquo; The musicians just tried to be themselves. &ldquo;The posing only came later on,&rdquo; Bell adds, laughing.</p><p>&ldquo;We were just enjoying making the music we were making and not really having a lot of agendas other than enjoying each other&rsquo;s company and recording and playing shows,&rdquo; Gardener says. &ldquo;We obviously were excited about the EPs&mdash;we didn&rsquo;t expect in any way for things to start going into the charts&mdash;and we were with Creation and all was great. Then it was, &lsquo;Alright, guys, now we need the first album!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The <em>Nowhere </em>sessions took place during the hot summer of Italia 1990&mdash;World Cup soccer remains a watershed event for these boys&mdash;with Waterman once again behind the console, though this time they worked at London&rsquo;s Blackwing Studio, housed in a former chapel and famous for yielding early recordings by Depeche Mode and Yazoo. &ldquo;Basically, you&rsquo;ve got the four of us and Waterman going into this weird studio in a bizarre old church, which had a big stone room where Loz set up his kit,&rdquo; Gardener says. &ldquo;What happened during those sessions was us becoming nocturnal. Marc was great at that, because he would keep going until we dropped. I think when you record an album, it is affected by whether or not you record during the day or night, and it started getting that darker vibe about it. Some of the tracks we had demoed, but a lot of it was sort of spontaneous and pulling the tracks together there and then. We just set up and bashed it out as live as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>Gardener and Bell were 20 years old, and Bell was still writing songs and living in his bedroom at his parent&rsquo;s house in Oxford. &ldquo;All the songs are mine except &lsquo;Decay&rsquo; and the song &lsquo;Nowhere,&rsquo; which was a jam with Loz&rsquo;s words on it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Mark made me sing lead on &lsquo;Vapour Trail,&rsquo; and me and Mark had just bought new Rickenbacker 12-strings and matching Roland GP-16 effects units. I was playing through Vox Combo and Hiwatt heads and a Marshall cab, with lots of wah-wah. We started recording with Marc Waterman, but he caved under the pressure.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;As a recording engineer and being a part of the vibe and whole process, Marc was fantastic,&rdquo; Gardener continues. &ldquo;The pressure came when we needed to finish the record, and that meant having it properly mixed. &lsquo;How do you mix this thing?&nbsp; There is all this noise and chaos!&rsquo; What you do with mixing these days is easier, because with [digital] technology, you can record things, get away from them, and come back fresh and pick up where you left off. In those days, you couldn&rsquo;t do that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So we were there with our half-done album, and Marc kind of had a&hellip; I don&rsquo;t want to say nervous breakdown, but he couldn&rsquo;t take the pressure,&rdquo; Bell resumes. <strong>&ldquo;</strong>I don&rsquo;t know exactly what happened, but I remember Alan McGee coming in, insisting that Alan Moulder come in and mix it, and he made it sound like how it was. He did not create anything about it; he just kind of balanced what was there.&rdquo;</p><p>So there it was, then as now, with the eight original tracks on <em>Nowhere </em>augmented by the addition of the <em>Fall </em>EP that preceded the album and the <em>Today Forever </em>EP that followed in March 1991. And while Bell and Gardener never could be accused of celebrating themselves, they remain proud of these sounds as they look back two decades later, Gardener from the recording studio he runs in Oxford, and Bell from the new band he&rsquo;s crafting with Liam Gallagher and Gem Archer after his stint as the bassist in later-day Oasis.</p><p>&ldquo;They managed to gel with what I was doing, and we all kind of made something so much greater than what we could have done alone,&rdquo; is how Bell sums up Ride. &ldquo;When I listen to <em>Nowhere, </em>I have to get past the vocals, because we didn&rsquo;t spend too much time getting them really right. But I get why everyone loves it, and I love it, too&hellip; At the time, I kind of worried that those first two albums were going to get really dated. I thought the sound was getting faddish at the time, and I wanted to make timeless music. But it&rsquo;s ended up that the stuff we did first sounds the most timeless.&rdquo;</p><p>When Gardener listens, he hears &ldquo;the realization of some of the dreams we had at art school&mdash;things were coming into fruition, and that&rsquo;s an amazing feeling. At the time, we had so many labels, like shoegazers, and I just thought, &lsquo;Well, we could be part of this or that, but at the end, we&rsquo;re just Ride, and I hope whatever we are doing now will stand the test of time.&rsquo; Without sounding too pretentious, great art does, and I think it has.&rdquo;</p><p>As do I, boys. As do I.</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> Sat, 26 Sep 2015 09:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/back-nowhere-ride-delivers-riv-113073 Songs We Love: Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas, 'Sign Spinners' http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bajas1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Bitchin Bajas (pictured) join Natural Information Society on Automaginary." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bajas1_wide-4ac16221161d4fbdf72d61ff399140bf8f361050-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Bitchin Bajas, left, join Natural Information Society on Automaginary.(Jeremiah Chiu/Courtesy of the artist)" /></div></div><div><div><p>Over the past five years, the groups&nbsp;<a href="http://naturalinformationsociety.com/">Natural Information Society</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://bitchinbajas.tumblr.com/">Bitchin Bajas</a>&nbsp;have become staples of Chicago underground music, but from opposite ends. NIS leader Joshua Abrams has one foot in the city&#39;s improvisational jazz scene, a communal tradition that extends back 50 years to the heyday of the&nbsp;<a href="http://aacmchicago.org/">AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians)</a>. Cooper Crain of Bitchin Bajas moves in more avant-rock circles, primarily as guitarist for the psych-leaning quartet Cave.</p></div></div><p>But NIS and Bitchin Bajas have something else in common: they both make repetition-based, meditative music that can be therapeutic, calming the mind through the ears. NIS centers this effect via the instrument Abrams plays called the&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintir">guembri</a>, a three-string Moroccan lute on which he plucks out patterns that his band-mates augment with drums, guitars, and the harmonium.</p><p><img alt="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas, Automaginary (Drag City)" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bitchinbajasnaturalinformationsociety_automaginary_mini_sq-e6818ff51b7fd248a628a9d0ed6231415cedfb20-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas,Automaginary (Drag City)" /></p><p>Crain&#39;s trio creates their sonic oasis using synths, organs, and wind instruments, building beatific drifts out of rising tones. These tools turn out to be remarkably compatible on the groups&#39; first collaborative album <em>Autoimaginary</em>. The insistent, hypnotic pulses of NIS meld with Bitchin Bajas&#39; drone-tinted layers like gentle rain falling from dense clouds.</p><p>&quot;Sign Spinners&quot; hits the ground with Abrams&#39; running bass, then quickly ascends, as sparkly keyboard figures and shimmering guitar accents mirror each other. Things gradually intensify, cresting when a plaintive flute perches atop the bubbling mix. This airy, spacious music grows and grows without ever sounding cluttered. On the surface, &quot;Sign Spinners&quot; seems to barely move from where it began. Abrams&#39; loop churns along throughout, and no sudden left turns come up along the way. Yet by the time the song ends, you&#39;ll likely feel mentally transported &ndash; perhaps to the same blissful place where Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas seem very happy to spend their time together.</p><p><em>Autoimaginary</em><em>&nbsp;</em>is out now on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dragcity.com/">Drag City</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443202778/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners?ft=nprml&amp;f=443202778"><em>via NPR&#39;s Songs We Love</em></a></p></p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 Radio M: Bollywood music, new Vieux Farka Toure, Turkish psych-folk and lots of great guitar music from around the globe. http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-09-25/radio-m-bollywood-music-new-vieux-farka-toure-turkish-psych-folk-and-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CN20130221-Vieux-Farka-Toure_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s time for another musical romp around the globe and this week&nbsp; <em>Radio M</em> takes us to India for a swingin&#39; Bollywood tune from a movie about a girl who runs away from home to find freedom only to find trouble. The sounds of guitar music from Angola, Jamaica and Nigeria. Also new music from Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, a nod to Russian composer&nbsp;Dmitri Shoshtakovich, who was born on September 25, 1906, and the latest from Norwegian singer-songwriter Farao.</p><p>Two hours of global musical bliss!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Playlist</p><p>9PM</p><p>Flavia Coelho- People Dansa- Mundo Meu</p><p>The Royals- Pick Up the Pieces- Studio One Groups</p><p>Bob Marley &amp; The Wailers- Burnin&#39; &amp; Lootin&#39;- Live!</p><p>Here&#39;s a video of the Bob &amp; the band rehearsing the song in 1980</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oM1YiVbC-jA" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra- Jazz Suite No.1: Waltz- Shostakovich: The Jazz Album</p><p>Grethe &amp; Jorgen Ingmann- Dansevise- TV i Tivoli</p><p>Kiosk- Agha! Nigah Dar( Hey Man Pull Over)- Bagh e Vahsh e Jahaani (Global Zoo)</p><p>Here&#39;s a very different, live version of the song from a performance at Yoshi&#39;s.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XmH6JxEiIu8" width="560"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>9:30PM</p><p>Vieux Farka Toure &amp; Julia Easterlin- Spark- Touristes</p><p>Afet Serenay- Maden Dagi- Turkish Freak Out 2: Psych Folk 1970-78</p><p>Mbongwana Star- Segue- From Kinshasa</p><p>Mongo Santamaria- What You Don&#39;t Know- The Nuyorican Funk Experience: Further Adventures in Latin Soul</p><p>Check out this classic performance by the conguero master!</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JPG7KGa9fsg" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Ciadadao Instigado- Ate Que Enfim- Fortaleza</p><p>Bjork- Earth Intruders- Volta</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/j1Q9ppPPHjU" width="420"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>10PM</p><p>Nigerian Union Rhythm Group- Abeni- Highlife on the Move: Selected Nigerian &amp; Ghanaian Recordings from London &amp; Lagos 1954-66</p><p>Charlie Hunter, Chinna Smith &amp; Ernest Ranglin- Mestre Tata- Earth Tones</p><p>Iness Mezel- Amazone- Beyond the Trance</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A9fKVArzreA" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Os Anjos- Avante Juventude- Angola Soundtrack 2: Hypnosis, Distortion &amp; Other Sonic Innovations 1969-72</p><p>Klaus Johann Grobe- Kothek- Im Sinne der Zeit</p><p>Christie Laume- Agatha ou Christie- La Belle Epoque: EMI&#39;s French Girls 1965-68</p><p>Anand Prayag &amp; Chorus- Pretty Pretty Priya- Bombshell Baby of Bombay</p><p>Here&#39;s the song from the Bollywood film , &#39;Priya&#39;.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4esdBNs_Ows" width="420"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>10:30PM</p><p>Lucho Macedo y Su Sonora- Poupurrit de Lucho Macedo- MAG All Stars: The Best Peruvian Orchestras of the 50&#39;s &amp; 60&#39;s</p><p>El Rego et Ses Commandos- E Nan Mian Nuku- Legends of Benin</p><p>Lord Shorty &amp; Vibrations International- Vibrations Groove- Sokah: Soul of Calypso</p><p>Francis Bebey- La Condition Masculine- African Electronic Music 1975-82</p><p>Farao- Tiaf- Till All is Forgotten</p><p>Kronos Quartet, Kyp Malone, Tunde Adebimpe &amp; Stuart Bogie- Sorrow, Tears + Blood- Red Hot + Fela</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/X6BiAwD-nY8" width="420"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 07:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-09-25/radio-m-bollywood-music-new-vieux-farka-toure-turkish-psych-folk-and-0 The Lollapalooza Gang invades the National Mall http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/lollapalooza-gang-invades-national-mall-113058 <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/Landmark%20Logo.jpg" style="height: 221px; width: 650px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WashingtonDCMallAerialNavyPhoto_crop.jpg" style="height: 448px; width: 650px;" title="The National Mall (WikiCommons)." /></div></div><p>In their never-ending quest to rule the world of live music&mdash;they&rsquo;ve just announced <a href="http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/09/austin-city-limits-expands-to-new-zealand-with-auckland-city-limits/">another expansion to New Zealand</a>&mdash;Lollapalooza promoters C3 Presents and Live Nation are once again raising questions about whether exclusive, big-money, very much for-profit concerts should take place in treasured parks that are supposed to be open to the public.</p><p>This time, the corporate giants have invaded a public site even more storied and beloved than Grant Park: the National Mall, probably the most famous urban green space in America, linking the Washington Monument, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.</p><p>&ldquo;A music festival holds part of the Mall for big-dollar attendees. Is that okay?&rdquo; <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/this-music-festival-will-reserve-part-of-the-national-mall-for-big-dollar-ticket-buyers-is-that-okay/2015/09/22/617f7a4e-5afb-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html">The Washington Post </a></em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/this-music-festival-will-reserve-part-of-the-national-mall-for-big-dollar-ticket-buyers-is-that-okay/2015/09/22/617f7a4e-5afb-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html">asked on Tuesday</a>, in the headline atop a story about the <a href="http://www.landmarkfestival.org/">Landmark Music Festival</a>, which takes place Saturday and Sunday in the stretch of the Mall known as West Potomac Park. (Topping the 40-band bill: Drake, the Strokes, Alt-J, and Chvrches; ticket price: $175 for a regular two-day pass, and an astounding $2,350 for platinum access.)</p><p>The story by Scott Higham and Michael E. Ruane proceeds to quote several people who answered that question with a resounding &ldquo;no.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;We see the National Mall as a public treasure, and it&rsquo;s supposed to be free and open to the public &mdash; the museums, the memorials and the events,&rdquo; said Mark B. Bennett, executive director of the National Mall Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group. &ldquo;This festival violates the intent of public access, regardless of whatever cause they are supporting.&rdquo;</p><p>A historian who wrote the book on the Mall agreed.</p><p>&ldquo;The Mall is America&rsquo;s front lawn,&rdquo; said Peter R. Penczer, author of &ldquo;The Washington National Mall.&rdquo; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a place where people go to protest, to see the monuments, to relax on the weekend. I don&rsquo;t know how it can be America&rsquo;s front lawn if you&rsquo;re fencing it off for a paid event. It&rsquo;s for a good cause, but they are setting a bad precedent.&rdquo; &hellip;</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;When&nbsp;it&nbsp;starts&nbsp;to&nbsp;be&nbsp;for&nbsp;rich&nbsp;people&nbsp;to&nbsp;enjoy,&nbsp;it&nbsp;changes&nbsp;the&nbsp;nature&nbsp;of&nbsp;what&nbsp;the&nbsp;Mall&nbsp;should&nbsp;be,&rdquo;&nbsp;said&nbsp;Kim&nbsp;D.&nbsp;Stryker,&nbsp;who heads&nbsp;a&nbsp;grass-roots&nbsp;campaign&nbsp;called&nbsp;Save&nbsp;the&nbsp;Smithsonian&nbsp;Folklife&nbsp;Festival.&nbsp;&ldquo;The&nbsp;unfortunate&nbsp;precedent&nbsp;of&nbsp;this&nbsp;event&nbsp;is&nbsp;the Mall&nbsp;will&nbsp;not&nbsp;be&nbsp;seen&nbsp;as&nbsp;the&nbsp;place&nbsp;where&nbsp;the&nbsp;public&nbsp;can&nbsp;share&nbsp;events.&nbsp;Now&nbsp;people&nbsp;can&nbsp;profit&nbsp;off&nbsp;of&nbsp;holding&nbsp;big&nbsp;events&nbsp;that only&nbsp;some&nbsp;people&nbsp;can&nbsp;see.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Following the pattern it established with the Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza, C3 (now owned by the much-reviled Ticketmaster/Live Nation, <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2009/02/recapping_the_ticketmasterlive.html">the subject of anti-trust hearings in the Capitol</a> a mere six years ago) is giving a chunk of the money it&rsquo;s taking in to repairs at the Mall. Of course, the corporate concert giant is spinning this as altruism: The Mall is in the red for maintenance costs of more than $850 million, and kickbacks to the park include 10 percent of gross ticket sales, concessions, and corporate sponsorships (Miller, State Farm, Red Bull, and Volkswagen&mdash;and hey, couldn&rsquo;t the latter use some good press at the moment?).</p><p>But calling the rent for a space that otherwise is not for rent &ldquo;a charitable contribution&rdquo; is hardly making a donation from the goodness of one&rsquo;s heart. And As C3 majordomo Charlie Jones makes clear, this tax-deductible &ldquo;contribution&rdquo; is really an investment in a franchise&mdash;one that spits in the face of local indie promoters I.M.P., owners of the 9:30 Club, the way that Lollapalooza dumps on Jam Productions. (Both companies, two of the few remaining regional indies, testified against Live Nation at those aforementioned hearings on the Hill.)</p><p>So why is C3 really on the Mall? As in Chicago, it helps to have friends in high places. Noted the <em>Post:</em></p><blockquote><p>C3&nbsp;had&nbsp;organized&nbsp;several&nbsp;large&nbsp;events&nbsp;in&nbsp;Washington,&nbsp;including President Obama&#39;s inaugurations&nbsp;and&nbsp;the&nbsp;White&nbsp;House&nbsp;Easter&nbsp;Egg&nbsp;Roll.&nbsp;The&nbsp;company&nbsp;also&nbsp;organized&nbsp;Obama&rsquo;s election-night&nbsp;extravaganza&nbsp;in&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s&nbsp;Grant&nbsp;Park&nbsp;in&nbsp;2008.</p><p>C3&nbsp;was&nbsp;acquired&nbsp;last&nbsp;year&nbsp;by&nbsp;Live&nbsp;Nation,&nbsp;a&nbsp;multibillion-dollar company. Live&nbsp;Nation&rsquo;s&nbsp;board&nbsp;members&nbsp;include&nbsp;Ari&nbsp;Emanuel, co-chief executive of the William Morris talent agency and the brother of former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p></blockquote><p>To be certain, the <em>Post </em>story is not the first time questions have been raised about the concert. Grassroots groups such as <a href="https://www.facebook.com/savethefolk">Save the Smithsonian Folklife Festival</a> and <a href="http://www.punkthenationalmall.com/">Punk the National Mall</a> have been challenging the festival and digging into the back-room dealings that made it possible for months, and the <em>Post </em>story makes use of facts that they had to pry loose with voluminous Freedom of Information Act requests when federal parks officials stonewalled them at every turn.</p><p>Now <em>there&rsquo;s</em> some irony. What do you think ol&rsquo; Tom Jefferson would say about that?</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> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/lollapalooza-gang-invades-national-mall-113058 Farewell, Fellow Traveler Michael Weinstein http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/farewell-fellow-traveler-michael-weinstein-112998 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mike%20SHot.jpg" style="height: 260px; width: 250px;" title="" /></div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Good rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll is something that makes you feel alive,&rdquo; the great rock critic Lester Bangs told me at a formative age when that notion shaped my life. &ldquo;To me good rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll also encompasses other things&hellip; a lot of things that aren&rsquo;t strictly defined as rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll. Rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll is an attitude.&rdquo;</p><p>Few would think that a septuagenarian political philosophy professor with some two dozen books to his credit and a sideline as a deep-thinking photography critic would strictly be defined as &ldquo;rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll.&rdquo; But Michael A. Weinstein had the attitude, to be certain, and he was more alive than almost anyone I&rsquo;ve ever met. What&rsquo;s more, he had a singular ability to share that passion for living with everyone he encountered. And now he&rsquo;s dead&mdash;on Thursday, at the age of 73, or thereabouts.</p><p>Things like a formal biography, academic titles, and a long list of accomplishments in a <em>Curriculum Vitae</em> never mattered to Mike. What always meant the most to him was the next experience, the next conversation, the next idea, or the next pleasure, which he invariably and loudly embraced in the nasal New York accent he never shook: <em>&ldquo;Yes. Yes! YES!&rdquo;</em></p><p>I met Mike through his wife and soul mate Deena Weinstein, longtime sociology professor at DePaul University, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Heavy-Metal-Music-Culture-Revised/dp/0306809702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1442666507&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=deena+weinstein+heavy+metal">author of a fantastic book about heavy metal</a> for which I profiled her shortly after I arrived at <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>in the early &rsquo;90s<em>. </em>We became fast friends, though that word hardly does justice to the intellectual mentor role she and eventually Michael also played. For years, she insisted that I absolutely <em>had</em> to meet Michael, whom she clearly adored. <a href="https://www.cla.purdue.edu/polsci/directory/?p=Michael_Weinstein">A tenured professor at Purdue University in Lafayette</a>, Mike made the weekly commute from Indiana to spend the days between classes with his beloved in Chicago, and they obviously cherished every elusive moment together.</p><p>&ldquo;I will not break the semipermeable membrane of privacy that surrounds our intimacy of more than half a century of shared life,&rdquo; Deena writes in the introduction to Michael&rsquo;s final and many say definitive book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Weinstein-Contemplation-Routledge-Innovations/dp/1138013080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1442670427&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=Action%2C+Contemplation%2C+Vitalism%2C"><em>Action, Contemplation, Vitalism</em></a><em>, </em>published last December by the prestigious academic press Routledge. &ldquo;Discussing Michael Weinstein&rsquo;s cooking, lovemaking, driving, companionship, and sweet temperament is beyond the scope of this book. Relevant and most importantly, we have shared an intellectual life from the beginning.&rdquo;</p><p>The scope of that intellect first smacked me upside the head at a guest lecture Mike gave at DePaul; he was a frequent speaker at many classes in Chicago, in addition to doing a stint as a resident lecturer at Columbia College&rsquo;s photography department. His theme that night was living as a &ldquo;love pirate,&rdquo; a cogent and vastly entertaining distillation of the more complex ideas in his second greatest book <a href="http://www.amazon.in/Culture-Flesh-Explorations-Post-civilized-Philosophy/dp/0847680843/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8"><em>Culture Flesh</em></a><em>, </em>which would only be slighted by describing it as a postmodern manifesto. (One simple label never fit anything Michael did.)</p><p>Basically, Dr. Weinstein believed we should all live as pirates, swinging on the lines from the deck of one raided ship to another, picking up life-affirming ideas and exciting elements of culture for our virtual treasure chests wherever we find them&mdash;right or left, mainstream or underground, in the academy or on the street corner. We should all be, he thought, human samplers, creating dense, vibrant, and undeniable collages of intellectual riffs and rhythms&mdash;philosophical versions of Public Enemy&rsquo;s Bomb Squad, if you will, though when it came to hip-hop, he preferred West Coast.</p><p>When my biography of Bangs was published in 2000, I formed a band with fellow Chicago rock critics (plus Jon Langford, as great a ringer as can be imagined) to play songs by or important to my hero at the publication party. Deena loved this idea and twisted my arm to keep renting the practice space to make music with a new band that she put together with a friend who&rsquo;d been a roadie for Manowar, bassist Randy Kertz, one of her best former students, guitarist Tony Tavano, and, as lead singer, of course, her beloved.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><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/vortis_group_pic.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 640px;" title="Vortis Mach I, from left: Tony Tavano, F.T., Randy Kertz, and the drummer (Marty Perez)." /></div></div><p>Michael had sung raunchy R&amp;B in a &rsquo;50s-style rock band back in the day, and he would often do raps in class about subjects like African genocide and global corporatization. His role models for becoming what he called an &ldquo;agitainer&rdquo; and assaulting the hegemony via punk rock were Ice Cube, Iggy Pop, and Noam Chomsky. His <em>nom de rock </em>was F.T., or Fellow Traveler, though most of the people we encountered playing the Empty Bottle or the Fireside Bowl simply called him &ldquo;the Professor.&rdquo; In his T-shirt, with his shaggy gray beard and omnipresent do-rag, he didn&rsquo;t look very professorial, and could in fact be mistaken for a homeless man&mdash;until he started singing/rapping about the Unabomber or the Black Block riots, synopsizing his day-job lectures for his between-song stage patter at night.</p><p>The name Vortis came from Mike after he couldn&rsquo;t stop enthusing about how great one early rehearsal had been. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re the music critic, how would you describe what we just did?&rdquo; he gushed. &ldquo;Um, well, whenever a band clicks, it&rsquo;s sort of like being in the middle of a vortex.&rdquo; <em>&ldquo;Yes. Yes! YES!&rdquo;</em></p><p>For our next rehearsal, the professor arrived with 20 pages of notes for each of us about Vorticism, a modernist movement in British art and poetry circa World War I which found key proponents such as Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound extolling &ldquo;violent structures of adolescent clarity.&rdquo; I took that to mean living with the lust for life of a teenager no matter what your chronological age, as solid a definition of rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll as I&rsquo;ve encountered, and a pretty good summary of Michael Weinstein.</p><p>In time, Vortis recorded a self-released E.P., two albums for Thick Records, and an unreleased third disc, in addition to playing a lot of gigs in Chicago and as far afield as Cleveland, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. Here&rsquo;s Monica Kendrick writing about the second incarnation of the band&mdash;another of Deena&rsquo;s students, Chris Martiniano, replaced Dr. Kertz, now a chiropractor who specializes in musicians&rsquo; injuries&mdash;for <em>The Reader </em>in 2005:</p><blockquote><p>If you told me five years ago that the most compelling front man in the Chicago punk scene this decade would be a sixty-something political science professor with an anarchist ax to grind, I would&rsquo;ve said, &ldquo;Well sure, why not?&rdquo; I&rsquo;d like to think we&rsquo;re above obsessing over a guy&#39;s age just because he&#39;s not in the usual 15-to-25 punk-draftable demographic. F.T., aka Fellow Traveler, aka Mike Weinstein of Purdue University, comes at you with a fiendish gravitas, rattling off hardcore antiauthoritarian manifestos and voicing all the bad thoughts (&ldquo;I want to have my own suitcase bomb&rdquo;) that regular folks are afraid to express these days. Onstage he works a street-preacher-Jello Biafra persona, getting in your face with wild eyes full of conviction&mdash;you just know his brain&rsquo;s filled with the footnotes to back up his lyrics. Vortis&rsquo;s forthcoming album, <em>Warzone</em>, is mean, tight, righteously pissed, and full of hooky, nasty sloganeering choruses&mdash;and if you&rsquo;re like me you might relish the frisson of hearing yourself chanting them.</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vortisgroupforweb.jpg" style="height: 374px; width: 500px;" title="Vortis Mach II with Martiniano second from left." /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/VortisGroupNevins_0.jpg" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;" title="Onstage at Nevin's, frightening Evanston." /></div></div></div></div><p>Stories? Martiniano, Tavano, and I have quite a few. Chris, now a Ph.D. himself, fondly recalled Michael&rsquo;s ability to hear us tinkering with a riff; take out the little notebook that was a permanent fixture in his back pocket; wander the halls of the rehearsal space for 20 minutes, then come back with some unbelievable set of lyrics about the complex political dilemma of the moment, something you might well hear him talking about with only slightly different language and inflection on WBEZ&rsquo;s <em>Worldview </em>or at <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmA0fvcCpzg">an academic symposium like this one</a>.</p><p>Tony, also an educator, loves the story of the time one of Mike&rsquo;s students from Purdue threw a burning flag onstage. That plus the professor&rsquo;s choruses for &ldquo;God Won&rsquo;t Bless America Again&rdquo; prompted a guy who&rsquo;d been playing pool in the back room to punch him in the face. <a href="http://www.purdueexponent.org/features/article_1f68bb98-c8c8-5fc9-b02d-9651200cbe60.html">In a fine profile for <em>The Purdue Exponent </em>in 2003</a>, Mike said he was only sorry that the aggrieved club-goer didn&rsquo;t understand the song&rsquo;s message. (It attacked American exceptionalism and the hubristic belief that this country can export its version of democracy wherever it pleases, though punk rock can of course obscure the most solid of theses.)</p><p>Me, I&rsquo;ll never forget the many tales from our Midwestern tour in the summer of &rsquo;03, or the great life advice my friend dispensed about career and relationships. But if I have to pick one story that sums up both his eccentricities and his love-pirate philosophy, it would be waking up in a fleabag motel outside Columbus to find him naked but for the tiniest bikini briefs, perched on one leg with hands above his head in a yoga pose. I complained about how I&rsquo;d been eaten alive all night by the swarm of mosquitoes infesting the room. &ldquo;Oh, I didn&rsquo;t mind at all,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re my entomological friends!&rdquo;</p><p>Mike talked about that tour and the band in the <em>Exponent </em>piece. &ldquo;I have to say by this time, the drugs, groupies and record deal signing no longer have the appeal that they once did,&rdquo; he joked. &ldquo;It is gratuitous to my life; it&rsquo;s not fulfilling some life-long dream. It is a way for me to make a political presence that I can&rsquo;t in class.&rdquo;</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/vortis-take_the_system_down.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="" /></div><p>Still, the Professor never did anything less than wholeheartedly, whether it was our little musical project or the decades he devoted to his other extracurricular activity of writing photography criticism for <em>New City</em>, a paper he loved for its feisty independent spirit<em>. </em>(As a critic, he always tried to read his reviews to the artists in person after he&rsquo;d written them, whether they wanted to hear them or not.) He strived to be the best at anything he did, not out of egotism, but because something just wasn&rsquo;t worth doing if it wasn&rsquo;t worth doing 100-percent.</p><p>The clash between the lead singer&rsquo;s view of the band and his bandmates&rsquo; (we considered it more of a hobby) plus the inevitable list of minor grievances that can pile up during any collaboration (though he was open to all views, Mike ultimately did things one way&mdash;his own) led to him leaving Vortis in 2009. (The band continues as a trio with Tavano, me, and Louie Calvano, who&rsquo;d filled in for Martiniano a few times and also found F.T. unlike anyone else he&rsquo;d ever met.) Mike said he was leaving to concentrate on his political writings, though Chris believes he thought he&rsquo;d done all he could do on the punk-rock stage, at least with us.</p><p>I remember something that Deena or Mike told me in another context. (I honestly can&rsquo;t recall which of them said it, though they shared so many ideas, it might have been both.) &ldquo;Mentors are great, but at some point, you have to move beyond them. You <em>have</em> to!&rdquo;</p><p>True enough, perhaps, in terms of the day to day. But we carry with us forever those rare and special individuals&rsquo; ideas and the things we loved about them. And like the students, colleagues, readers, and artists whose lives and thoughts he so enriched, Vortis will cherish its founding singer forever.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HF77_Q1EugE" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U4s-dmP3c6g" width="560"></iframe></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> Sat, 19 Sep 2015 10:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/farewell-fellow-traveler-michael-weinstein-112998 Snooty Garbagemen as good as trash-rock gets http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/snooty-garbagemen-good-trash-rock-gets-112959 <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/Snooty%20Garbagemen%20cover.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>I long have considered the calling of sanitation engineer&mdash;or garbageperson, if we want to be vulgar about it&mdash;to be a noble one, hauling away the detritus of our lives to give us a fresh start once or twice a week. Removal, renewal, rebooting&hellip; recycling, even! Plus, it seems like a helluva lot of fun to drive those big, noisy trucks. My mom tells me that as a three-year-old I&rsquo;d wait by the window for the garbage truck to come so I could wave to the crew as it picked up those big old metal cans. If this rock-crit gig ever dries up, maybe I&rsquo;ll still have the chance to try it as an alternate career. Of course, there <em>is </em>the smell&hellip;</p><p>In any event, consider me predisposed to like a band that calls itself the Snooty Garbagemen. But the Houston, Texas-based trio more than delivers on the promise of that moniker with 14 short, sharp shocks of raw garage rock, most of them little more than two minutes long. The rhythms rampage, the guitar explodes in bursts of nervous frenzy, and bandleader Tom Triplett sneers and snarls with the best of &rsquo;em, whether you want to go back to the <em>Nuggets </em>era or turn to the current scenes in Detroit and the Bay Area. He and his two bandmates have pedigrees, to be sure (OBN IIIs, Real Energy, the Secret Prostitutes), but none of them mean much to me. And, really, you don&rsquo;t need much more to sell you on giving this disc a spin than the desire to howl at the moon while rolling in the gutter. And who doesn&rsquo;t feel that way sometimes?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bAra-s8OjSk" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Snooty Garbagemen, </strong><em><strong>Snooty Garbagemen</strong></em><strong> </strong><strong>(<a href="http://12xu.bigcartel.com/product/snooty-garbagemen-s-t-lp-12xu-075-1">12XU</a>)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.</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> Thu, 17 Sep 2015 09:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-09/snooty-garbagemen-good-trash-rock-gets-112959 Radio M September 18, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-09-17/radio-m-september-18-2015-112958 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/from the world to you_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s a big world out there so there&#39;s never a shortage of musical styles to draw upon for our weekly foray into global sounds and this week is no exception. We&#39;re going to Brazil for a slice of modern day afrobeat, we take a trippy walk down memory lane with the king and queen of classic Cambodian psych rock, Roberta Flack turns us on to her take of the tune Angelitos Negroes from her debut album, plus new music from Mexico&#39;s Natalia Lafourcade and a deep cut from The Wailers.&nbsp;</p><p>Expected the unexpected on Radio M.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Playlist</p><p>9PM</p><p>The Soul Jazz Orchestra- Kossa Kossa- Resistance</p><p>Stromae- Formidable- Racine Carree</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S_xH7noaqTA" width="560"></iframe></p><p>The Eternals- Patch of Blue- Heavy International</p><p>Ros Sereysothea &amp; Sinn Sisamouth- Cambodian Psych- Cambodian Psych Outtake #3</p><p>Roberta Flack- Angelitos Negroes- First Take</p><p>Here&#39;s a version of&nbsp; Angelitos Negroes from the film 1948 film Angelitos Negroes with the great Pedro Infante singing the title song.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k8V-EkTeX7U" width="420"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>9:30 PM</p><p>Laura Lavieri- Quem Naceu?- Mulheres de Pericles</p><p>Samba Toure-&nbsp; Wo Yende Alakar- Gandadiko</p><p>Bixiga 70- 100% 13- III</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eB625vpYtMA" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Natalia Lafourcade- Hasta la Raiz- Hasta la Raiz</p><p>Segun Bucknor- Adebo- Black Man&rsquo;s Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti</p><p>La Pesada- Cumbia y Tambo ( En La Lluvia) Sofrito: International Soundclash</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>10PM</p><p>Elia y Elizabeth- Alegrai- La Onda de Elia y Elizabeth</p><p>Petite Noir- Colour- Le Vie est Belle/ Life is Beautiful</p><p>Sia Tolno- Djumata- African Woman</p><p>Juana Molina- Eras- Wed21</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cl7h3KDMJFU" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Kanaku y el Tigre- Quema Quema Quema- Quema Quema Quema</p><p>Ibibio Sound Machine- Tortoise- Ibibio Sound Machine</p><p>David Bowie &ndash; Fascination- Young Americans</p><p>Bowie appears on The Dick Cavett Show 1974</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k2yLbxW4k-w" width="420"></iframe></p><p>10:30PM</p><p>The Wailers- No Sympathy- Burnin&rsquo;</p><p>Slim Ali &amp; The Hodi Boys- Tell Me- 70&rsquo;s Pop</p><p>Lala Njava- Voatse- Malagasy Blues</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v34Q-DtVSIA" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Andreas Kapsalis- Anastasi- Anastasi</p><p>Delhi 2 Dublin- Turn Up the Stereo- Turn Up the Stereo</p><p>Super Biton National de Segou- Siseni- Anthology</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Sep 2015 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/radio-m/2015-09-17/radio-m-september-18-2015-112958