Music

Taj Mahal Hearts The Pointer Sisters

San Francisco, circa 1969: The Pointer Sisters have just returned to San Francisco after an ill-fated trip to Houston. Producer David Rubinson, who paid their fare back to the west coast, signs them to his management company with Bill Graham. While vetting record deals, he finds session work for this intriguing trio of sisters with some of the Bay Area's most notable musicians, including Tower of Power, Grace Slick Betty Davis, and Boz Scaggs.

Among the acts The Pointer Sisters worked with onstage and in recording studios during their pre-fame ascent was famed guitarist Taj Mahal. The Pointer Sisters lent their harmonies to a handful of his albums from the early-'70s like Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff (1971) and Ooh So Good 'N' Blues (1973). To honor the 35th anniversary of The Pointer Sisters' solo debut, Taj Mahal wanted to relay just what it is about Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June Pointer that makes them one of the most special group of individuals he's ever worked with in his 40-year career:

"The Pointer Sisters! Yeeuuhh!! I hope through the printed word I can communicate the sheer joy and personal excitement I have had in being part of the audience, performing, recording, touring with and championing their star studded career, these women who rose from well nurtured southern roots to take the world by storm with their unique harmonies, beauty and earthy sounds!

All the songs I recorded with them were before their meteoric climb up the charts, onto the world stage and into the hearts of millions! Hit after great hit… and peeps, those songs still stand today! But what you'll notice is that with our early collaborative recordings "the ladies" were already well formed, in tune and had a sound that we captured then!!

If I had it to do all over again, I would have performed and recorded more with "the ladies!" My work with them will always remain one of the special high points in my life and my career!

Keep up your excellent work, know I'll always love y'all and can't wait to hear whatcha' doin' now!! XXXX Taj"

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

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This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

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Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

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Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

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7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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