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Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009

Michael Jackson left us—all of us—the harmonies, melodies and complex beats to which he popped, dropped and locked it like a Dogon dancer in the plains and cliffs of Mali. One imagines that the little brown boy that visited Senegal with his folks in the early seventies left with more than artificial antiques. No sooner than he could debark from the plane, Michael danced with the people who assembled to sing and dance to welcome the Jackson 5 on their first trip to The Continent.


Yet, we fear this power and far too often demonize power out of fear. We fear the creativity and genius necessary to penetrate through a world where, for example, it really, really matters if you’re black or white.


All the children of the world should be
Lovin’ each other wholeheartedly!
Yes it’s alright,
Take my message to your brother and tell him twice.
Take the news to the marchin’ men
Who are killin’ their brothers, when death won’t do.
Yes, we’re all the same:
Yes the blood inside my veins is inside of you.



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Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009

It is undeniable that Jeff Buckley’s posthumous legacy has turned the little-known avant-garde artist into something of a pop legend. Indeed, his record label’s persistent desire to churn out Buckley infused live song collections is almost unparalleled. With no less than nine releases since his death, the hunger to consume all things produced by the late musician has become a point of obsession for some of his followers. Now, with the release of Grace Around the World, another series of performances and a DVD can be added to the already overflowing collection of so-called “rarities”.


In this, the listener is privy to some of the first live recreations of Grace, which (despite my reservations), turned out to be as enthralling and devastating as the original work itself. It is obvious from listening to this material that Buckley was an artist consumed entirely with his own image and performance. On this, the original tracks extend into long, free-flowing productions, which suggest that Buckley was more preoccupied with experimenting than promoting a mainstream musical persona.


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Tuesday, Jul 21, 2009
F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. Artists as various as Roky Erickson, Brian Wilson and Shuggie Otis prove there are second acts in American popular music.
Roky's Birthday Cake (7/15/09) Photo by G. E. Light

Roky’s Birthday Cake (7/15/09) Photo by G. E. Light


F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. Nowhere was this more self-evident than the night of Wednesday July 15th at Antone’s in Austin Texas, around 10:30 pm when headliner and birthday boy Roky Erickson strode to the stage and burned through a pounding 90-minute set of rock and psychedelia, necessarily concluding with his first big hit: The 13th Floor Elevator’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me”:


Roky launches into

Roky launches into “You’re Gonna Miss Me” Photo by G.E. Light



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Monday, Jul 20, 2009
Rain dancing in India's long awaited Monsoon to OthrSdeOf80's R&B tracks.

4:30. Back inside to the A/C. It’s raining outside and I’m out of breath. Out of breath but not hopeless. I exhausted myself dancing under the rain on the rooftop. I danced- rehearsed—on the rooftop and made out with the rain. I can do this here in India; folks probably chuck it off to monsoon dance. Unless it’s immediately money-making, unless I show quick returns on investment, then this behavior would be considered crazy back in America.


My neighbors here in Delhi have heard monsoon ragas, perhaps since they’ve known life. And knowing this heat…! Really!!! The break is dynamic. I, too, celebrate the rain (I worship the sun in winter).


There’s little better than dancing in the rain. Yet, somewhere through my creation—fumbling with my earphones, which I keep pulling out as I move, so I have to restart. Somewhere in this dance I do, the rain forces me to arch my back. This choreography is truly inspired. It comforts me knowing that man others are dancing beneath this force, too, perhaps even right now. Yet, I see no one else and all rooftops are emptied. Yet, this is Delhi, there are people everywhere and someone is bound to be watching.


I bow back and let the rain fall on me. My hips are fully pressed forward, legs absolutely straight, knees locked; neck stomach, back and thigh muscles fully engaged. This beat has me going. And the rain, the rain, lightly but briskly slapping my concrete rooftop, silences this city. And I am calmed.


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Friday, Jul 17, 2009
Years before Milli Vanilli, Baltimora featured an actor playing the part of a singer.

More than 70 years after Edgar Rice Burroughs first saw his Tarzan of the Apes novel published, Baltimora had one of the biggest hits of the ‘80s with “Tarzan Boy”. A perfect dance pop confection incorporating playful lyrics about “monkey business on a sunny afternoon” with Tarzan’s iconic yell, the song spent an incredible six months on the Billboard Hot 100 beginning in October of 1985, eventually peaking at #13. A few years later, “Tarzan Boy” returned to the chart for three more months after being featured on the soundtrack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and on a popular commercial for Listerine mouthwash.


Jimmy McShane, the flamboyant Irish front man for Baltimora, died in 1995 from complications resulting from AIDS. Six years later, Tom Hooker, a successful Italo Disco performer and producer in the ‘80s, revealed that while McShane appeared in the Baltimora videos and on their record covers, he wasn’t the vocalist of the group. Instead, McShane was lip-synching to the voice of Maurizio Bassi, the man who produced Baltimora.


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