Thievery Corp, Kickin’ It With Survivor Lex, Tree Sitters and Cool Palestinians

TCLast night, which had to be the hottest night in the history of Berkeley, Thievery Corporation, Bebel Gilberto and Los Amigos Invisibles took over The Greek Theater. I went with some friends and through the divine grace of the concert muse, I wound up getting backstage passes from a another friend that I sold my extra ticket to.  So before I get into the strange attraction, let me break down the show.

Los Amigos Invisibles looked a little rough around the edges, but they blazed through a set of smoking Venezuelan  funk called, “Gozadera” which matched the ambient heat rising up from the stone steps of the sweltering Greek.

Bebel took the stage next and cooled things down a bit, offering up her breezy brand of downtempo samba as couples kissed and carressed under a carpet of stars (I bet there was at least one solstice conceived last night).

Thievery assumed control and pumped out an epic set that sampled tracks from their early works, up through the ambitious Cosmic Game. They trotted out at least half-a-dozen singers with a cameo by the ultra hip, Seu Jorge. Almost two hours after they had started, they left in a flash of rapid fire strobes, suspending moments in stop motion capture with synchronous beats moving in time.They were big time–I was thoroughly impressed. Continue reading “Thievery Corp, Kickin’ It With Survivor Lex, Tree Sitters and Cool Palestinians”

Looking Back On Wattstax, Richard Pryor, Jesse Jackson And Black Power

I just saw Wattstax for the very first time the other night.  I was really struck by it’s honesty and grit, but what really stood out was some of the more vocal figures that share their commentary along the way.  I’ll get to them in a minute, but first the film itself.Wattstax for the uninitiated was a concert held at The LA Coliseum to commemorate the Watts riots, and to inject a sense of well being into the neighborhood.  This alone is remarkable given that we rarely if ever see a truly “black” experience of this scale for a purely “black” neighborhood. While falling short of being “The Black Woodstock” Wattstax nonetheless conveys a sense of community, togetherness and even possibility. The music is deeply soulful, ranging from the neo-gospel sounds of The Staple Singers, to the wild and witty funk of Rufus Thomas, working up the crowd with his classic, “Funky Chicken.”

Rufus ThomasRufus Thomas

There’s a great scene where the crowd is threatening to pour onto the field during Thomases first number. This, in and of itself is a pretty interesting phenomenon.  If this even were to be held today, every square inch of the venue would be filled, from the field to the seats in the stands and yet there was quarter of a football field, that’s roughly 20,000 sq ft of available space!  Even more remarkable was how well the crowd behaved and remained mostly in the stands.  But when Thomas breaks into his funky chicken, with a fairly direct prompt, they pour onto the field, then Thomas remarkably is able to talk them back into the stands!   Continue reading “Looking Back On Wattstax, Richard Pryor, Jesse Jackson And Black Power”

Neptune Inspires Ressurection–Confessor To The Open Conspiracy

Blake Angel Of Poetry “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

In honor of Neptune’s slide into Pisces, I’m resurrecting this post, in true Piscean fashion, from the digital crypt. Penned back in 2008, still feels pretty relevant today.

It’s been weighing on me for quite sometime, perhaps for most of my life and now, I must unburden the heavy weight that has been set upon me.  I am a member of the conspiracy.  Yes, it’s true.  But it might not be the type of conspiracy you might be thinking about.  I never worked for an Israeli moving company, nor was I raised in after school sessions of The De Molay Society, which would later lead me into the realm of secret handshakes and associations by decree and degree.  No, I have been secretly working my entire life, often even unknown to myself (that’s how secret it is) towards a free, open and loving society.  I know what you’re thinking–this conspiracy is just a social phantom, an idealisitc construct, a loose knit amalagmation of magic wishers and dreamers.  As such, you don’t believe in conspiracies, but I can assure you, this one exists as I am a full fledged member.

I’m not sure when I was initiated as a young child, whether it was the senseless violence I witnessed each night on TV, shot in the jungles of Vietnam, or when I nearly had a seizure the first time I set foot in a church, or when I stood up to a schoolyard bully in defense of what we would later call, a “nerd.”  But I can surely attest to the fact that most of my activities in my life have been in support of a free and open society.

Now, it is out in the open and I know that there are others out there, sleepers awakening to the potential of a world that has been living within us for most of our days, a world that chooses love over fear, transparency over secrecy, transformation over entropy, possibility over resignation and most importantly, freedom over the enslavement of sleep and compliance.

Now, that I have let the cat out of the bag, and you’re aware of my intentions, you’ll know me and others like me when we let you in our lane on the freeway, even when you don’t signal, open a door for you at the market, pay for your toll when you’re behind us at a bridge, refuse to buy any party line, even one that we thought that we were invited to, turn the news off when it comes on, begin to openly initiate community programs to draw people together, often with no politcal agenda, grow our own food, create our own media, forge our own technologies, dare to raise our children to think for themselves and focus on the type of world we want, not the one we’re being assigned.

We have found out, through intense introspection and contact with the inner planes that the reality which we inhabit exists because others dreamt harder, had a more focused will and intention than we who were living and playing as if our welfare were being safeguarded by those in whom we had placed our public and ultimately our personal trust, only to be rudely awakened at some point with the cold, hard, reality that this hasn’t been the case for centuries.

We are firmly aware of this disparity which is why I and others like myself at this time are coming forward, brazenly announcing for the rest of the world to hear and take notice that we are in your midst and if you are reading this, there’s a good chance that you are one of us as well, even if you don’t know it yet.

Don’t worry, it’s ok and you’ll feel better when you simply surrender to the fact that you have a purpose and your purpose is happening right now.

Don’t fret if you don’t know what to do right now.  One of us will no doubt contact you when you’re ready and you will know what action to take when your heart gently whispers to your mind, “yes, you can do it.”

You’ll soon find others like you, like me, like us and we will begin to openly practice love in action.

The result?  A slow and subtle turn of the tide, a shifting of reality reflected in the collective miasma through revelations and truth that feed the hungry soul of a malnourished family, helping us gain and gather strength for the days to come.

Be brave, be bold and be ready.

We’ll be in touch.  

Spreading Dick Love — The Ginger Ninjas

Ginger NinjasI was up at Harmony Fest yesterday amidst the twirling dancers and swirling winds of skunky dank, checking in on old friends and renewing my hippy card for 2008/9 and while I mostly enjoyed the experience, a major happening for the Sonoma County region, I was really taken by one little band called “The Ginger Ninjas.”  They have a couple of cool things going for them.  One is that they travel to their gigs by bike and then use their bikes as generators, peddling to supply electricity to power their amps. They even rode their bikes from Grass Valley, deep into the heart of Mexico to perform all over the place. The second cool thing they have going for them is a ridiculously catchy tune about loving Dick Cheney, ostensibly a masters class in spiritual development and keeping the heart chakra open.Not only is the song really catchy, it’s witty and wrly insightful.

Based on it’s topicality, humor and just being a fun and jumpy little rock and roll number, this song should be a huge hit.  Well I’m doing my part to spread the love. Here are the amazing Ginger Ninjas performing “Dick Cheney (Needs More Love)”.

Just click on the download button below to open their great video version of the song. 

The Mad Professor, Lee Perry And Voodoo Dub

Mad ProfessorAs yet another Mercury retrograde yoga pose for this month, I’m posting an interview of mine, resting neatly in the dustbins of the internet.  This one found a home in Remix Magazine.  I got turned onto Remix by a woman who was an ad rep there and helped me get a couple of writing gigs.  I’ll leave her name out of the story, but the highlight of my connection with her was a wild night in Miami at WMC, fueled by psychedelics, Timo Maas and her sexy girlfriend. Here is me and The Mad Professor talking music and tech. 


Deep in the dub lab with Mad Professor.

Mad Professor is out to lunch. Sitting in a booth at a Chinese restaurant in New York, the A-list dub and reggae producer looks troubled as the waiter sets a seafood combo in front of him. “There’s all kinds of strange things in here,” he says as he pokes at the dish with a fork. “This looks like a scallop, and that looks like a frog leg, but what’s this? An alligator foot? And that looks like a duck’s behind!”

Even though he’s not sure what he’s eating, Mad Professor scoops up a forkful of the mystery mixture and shovels it into his mouth. “It tastes okay so far,” he remarks between gulps, “but if I stop speaking, you’ll know it’s foul.” Like this adventure in cuisine, Mad Professor’s auditory odyssey involves the inspired blending of exotic ingredients, coupled with a fearlessness that keeps him forever pushing the boundaries of taste and the times.

As a remixer and producer, Mad Professor — aka Neil Fraser — has worked with Sade, Pato Banton, the Beastie Boys, and others. His original tracks veer from the rootsy dub of “The African Connection” to the political blitz of “Black Liberation Dub” to the drum ’n’ bass hybrid of “Mazaruni: The Jungle Dub Experience.” His Massive Attack remixes on the LP No Protection: Mad Professor vs. Massive Attack made the original Protection album pale in comparison. This is the same man who initiated the modern British dub explosion with his 1982 album Dub Me Crazy, and who inadvertently helped birth the mutant strain of ambient-dub when the Orb lifted a sample from his “Fast Forward into Dub” track for the undulating backbeat of their epic “Blue Room.”

But perhaps Mad Professor’s most remarkable achievement is the success of his Ariwa label and studio, which he founded in 1979 in South London and has developed into a leading dub label and a sprawling, state-of-the-art studio complex. Through Ariwa (a Yoruba word meaning “communication”), he’s worked with reggae legends — including Horace Andy, U-Roy, Macka B, Papa Levi, Nolan Irie, and the mythical madman of dub, Lee “Scratch” Perry — and has released more than 100 records since 1981. Not bad for a guy who launched his career by hand-building a crystal radio in his native Guyana when he was only nine years old. Such pursuits were hardly the activity of choice for most of his peers. “Well,” he snickers, “that’s why they call me the Mad Professor!”

Continue reading “The Mad Professor, Lee Perry And Voodoo Dub”

Revisiting Morocco, Magic, Majoun, Horowitz and Deyhim

MajounMercury is retrograde in Gemini and it’s time for me to re-invigorate my blog. I did this interview ten-years-ago and recently re-connected with Richard Horowitz after staying up far-too-late one night last week watching Bertolucci’s cinematic rendering of The Sheltering Sky where Horowitz provided the exotic soundtrack.This Q&A was to appear in the last, which turned out to be the “lost” issue of MONDO 2000. For those of you who don’t know, MONDO was one of the greatest and most influential magazines of all time. It was redolent with early adopter themes, bursting at the spine with memes and strange attraction. I was part of the waning phase of MONDO’s glorious ascent. Not privy to all of the media buzz that surrounded the mag in the middle of the nineties, I nonetheless experienced the madness and genius of Queen Mu on a daily basis. I could go into a whole post simply on the complexity and brilliance of the MONDO maven. I will go on record and say that she is one of the great unknown and little recognized writers and minds of the 20th century. With Pluto moving into Capricorn, The Queen’s natal sign (she shares the same birth date as Elvis and Bowie), I think we will witness her rise once more.I spent two separate phone interviews with Richard and Sussan and one interview with Sussan alone and really got to know them. I appreciated truly their candor and vulnerability.The art was pure Heide Foley in all of it’s psychedelically inspired retinal overload. I actually found this on Heide’s website where much of the lost issue resides. Curiously, she has me named as “Rob Hall.” Enjoy.

Majoun—passed down through the ancestral food chain, a mind-kissing cousin of Soma, brain food of the gods.

Majoun—trance possessor of initiates into visions of desert ecstasy and love–the mysteries of muezzin and minaret. Sacred geometries, spinning poets and wheels of tilting stars, revealed by the sweet taste of this Kif-powered Moroccan paste that’s mixed with mint tea.

In it’s aural manifestation, Majoun is three parts Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound collective ( Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald and Doug Wimbish), world rhythmatist Steve Shehan, Gnawa rebel Hassan Hakmoun, virtual reality vulcan Jaron Lanier, a host of some of the finest players from Morocco and the core ingredients—Richard Horowitz and Sussan Deyhim. Horowitz is a master ney player. His musical influences include the likes of Bachir Attar, The Gnawas and other Moroccan mugicians. Psychically, he is linked to the famed boho expatriates Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles. It was Bowles who suggested that Horowitz, along with Ryuchi Sakamoto, co-score the film version of his classic tale, The Sheltering Sky. Deyhim is an expatriate as well. She fled her native Iran before the Shah’ s strings were cut by the puppet masters. Relocating in Europe, she studied voice, dance and theater with the legendary Maurice Beijart. Her other-worldly ululations mixed with her native Farsi echo the passionate yearnings of ancient muses reborn with an avant-garde intelligence crystallized in their cells.

But most of all, Majoun is the elixir of travellers. It is that quality of traveling, a circumnavigational displacement in space and time that unites all of its participants-—nomads in a virtual caravan of dreams–—that Horowitz and Deyhim have assembled. Through a filament of light and sound, from Berkeley to London and New York, they shared their journeys and their secret recipe for Majoun with MONDO.

Continue reading “Revisiting Morocco, Magic, Majoun, Horowitz and Deyhim”