Friday, October 31, 2003

Rockin with his hands

He's a one-man band, in his own right
Jam Master jams to the broad daylight
No instruments needed, just two record players
A stage, a crowd, and two rhyme sayers

Run-D.M.C. - "Jam Master's Jammin'"

Its one year ago yesterday that RUN DMC's DJ Jam Master Jay was tragically shot dead in his recording studio in New York. Police are no closer to solving this case, a year on, but new evidence has come to light.
One of the gunmen hugged Jay, then shot him, so Jay knew his killer. "Investigators have had to sort through Mizell's debts, which forced his wife to take a job at a Banana Republic [prior to his death] and may eventually top $500,000, allegations of drug dealing and finger pointing by Jay's associates as to who the killer might be."
AllHiphop has an interview with "a high ranking New York Police Department detective" who spoke with them, on condition of their identity remaining secret. The key to solving this case is a man named Derek Parker.

AllHipHop: Randy Allen seems to be a central character in this whole situation. What have you heard about this supposed insurance policy? I recently heard his older sister was the beneficiary of the policy.
AD: We are aware of it. We aren't sure who the beneficiary is at this time.
AllHipHop: So there was an insurance policy.
AD: Yes.
AllHipHop: Someone collected on it?
AD: That I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to penetrate these circles as an outsider. I do have a suggestion. The family of Jam Master Jay should contact a detective name Derek Parker.
AllHipHop: Who is Derek Parker?
AD: He's the guy that started and founded the rap and Hip-Hop squad. He's the guy they need to reach out to.
AllHipHop: What's the rap & Hip-Hop squad?
AD: The squad that goes around and uh, watches the rappers.
AllHipHop: So there is a Hip-Hop squad?
AD: Yes. Parker was appointed by the ex chief of the department, Lou Anemone and Commissioner Edward Norris.
AllHipHop: Do you think Derek Parker could solve the case faster and if so, why haven't they contacted him yet?
AD: The family may not know who he is. The rappers in the industry knows who he is cause he's dealt with alot of them at one point or another. He was in Los Angeles for the Biggie murders and Las Vegas for the Pac murder. Still to this day he's a private investigtar for his own company, Styles Security. Parker claimed that if he is in fact hired to assist in the case, he would have it wrapped up in a week."
Mighty mighty, letting it all hang out
Ronald La Praed played bass for the Commodores, back in the day; remember 'Brickhouse'? That's him. One of the greatest basslines in the history of popular music, no contest. These days he lives in Auckland and leads the band on Mike King Tonight.
"Some of his clothes are embalmed in museums in Nashville and Las Vegas. He has toured the world 18 times, thrown Diana Ross into a swimming pool and played games with Michael Jackson while the latter was still a normal-looking if not normal child..."

Halloween doesn't have much impact down this part of the world, but after checking out this site, I wish it did. Fun with pumpkins!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The disorderly business of life
APRA's Silver Scroll Awards rolled around Tuesday night. This event celebrates our songwriters in fine fashion. APRA's (Australasian Performing Rights Association) members get together and have a mighty fine knees-up featuring music, of course, and much drunkenness and tomfoolery, but that's later in the evening.

One of the highlights is the performance of each of the five finalists' songs being transformed by other artists. Damien Binder's 'Til Now' was sung by Heather Mansfield of The Brunettes with the SJD band and a choir. It was the first song performed on the night and a very mellow rendition - so laid back that it drifted by most of the audience. Perhaps starting off with something more raucous might've helped.

Anika Moa and Anna Coddington (from Handsome Geoffrey) strolled out to perform Golden Horse's 'Riverhead'. "This is our attempt at a Golden Horse song - wherever you guys are, hope you like it. Oh shit, you're right there," says a startled Anika as she spies the band sitting near the front. Anika and Anna performed a stripped down version that had its own delightful charm, especially in the middle when Anika slipped in "we made this next bit up" and did a little dance. Golden Horse later won the most performed song in New Zealand award.

Bindspott's 'Plhex' (love those wacky hiphop spelling lessons) was performed by Jordan Reyne, accompanied by Indra Hughes on the Auckland Town Hall's organ and a chinky sounding drum machine, which was pretty impressive.

The MCs for the evening were comedians The Naked Samoans, dressed in tracksuits which made them look vaguely sporty - or was it meant to be hiphop? Dunno. They told us that all those videos with people putting their hands in the air wouldn't exist if it weren't for the songwriters. "There'd be nothing to put your hands in the air to." Then one of them adds "You might as well have thalidomide, 'cos there'd be no reason to put your hands in the air," which caused some shocked laughter and horrified looks to shoot round the room. Now that's pushing the envelope for ya!

The Naked Samoans did a fine job of ribbing the official speakers, like coming back on stage after Arthur Baysting: "ladies and gentlemen, Arthur Baysting. Riveting speech, Arthur, you had us with hello."

The inaugural Maioha award, presented by Cliff Curtis, went to Ngahiwi Apanui for 'Wharikihia'. Ngahiwi thanked APRA in his speech, noting that their cheque usually turned up just when he was in the poo. "It's the most money I've ever got from music. When I do a gig, two people turn up and they're both cousins, AND they refuse to pay!" The Naked Samoans came back on stage after him and made several delightfully politically incorrect comments about Maori before getting it back on track with "Let's give it up for Maori people". After dutiful applause one of the Naked Samoans added, "It's their country - we're just paying rent."

Some politicans were in attendance. Judith Tizard made a speech after a ridiculously overhyped intro. She said that "Bill English sends his apologies." He'd lost his job earlier that day. Peter Biggs, chairman of The Arts Council at Creative New Zealand, suggested that what we needed was less statues of Queen Victoria and one of composer Douglas Lilburn, which I think is a brilliant idea.
Clasical composer Gillian Whitehead won the Sounz Contemporary award for her work 'Alice'.

Rock band Augustino ambled on stage and churned their way through Ill Semantics 'Highway', eventually getting their groove on mid-song to the approval of the Dawn Raid table, who waved their hands in the air like they just didn't care.

The winner of the Silver Scroll was Nesian Mystik with 'For the people'. The band accepted the award (and $5000 cheque) in a prerecorded video as they're currently in England plying their trade. 'For the people' was performed earlier in the evening by a gentleman introduced as "New Zealand's own Frank Sinatra" which gives you an idea of his take on it. Think 'Nesians are you with me' sung Vegas-style, with strings and band. It was so cheesy and twisted - in a good way, mind. Hats off to the incredibly talented Victoria Kelly, musical director for the evening, for such a great job.

This year marked the final Silver Scrolls for APRA boss Mike Chunn. After 11 years with the organisation he's leaving for fresh pastures. Mike's first play The Orderly Business of Life was recently performed in Auckland but he is giving no clues as to his next move. Before he made his way to the stage a video tribute from his staff at APRA played, with Jordan Luck leading them in a rousing rendition of the Exponents' 'I'll say goodbye', sung as "Michael; we'll say goodbye, even though we're blue.' It was touching listening to his staff talk about him with much affection, especially the comment that no one could ever call Mike aggressive 'cos he drives like a nanna. Mike took the stage to a standing ovation. He has done a hell of a lot in raising the profile of New Zealand music and helping expand the possibilities for many of the songwriters in the room. He had planned to wing the speech but got told to write something down, so he did. He thanked his staff in his usual witty, erudite fashion, mentioning various characteristics he would miss (congrats to the woman at our table who let her cellphone ring during Mike's speech - it was in her handbag, across the table - nice). He left the stage to another standing ovation but didn't come back out. The Naked Samoans tried to entice him back but with no luck. So later they just carried him back on and made everybody stand and applaud again, just so he didn't miss it. Nice blokes.

After that it all got a bit hazy. Once the awards have finished, the fun part of the night begins - the second stage. This is where anyone can get up and sing two songs maximum. All sorts of musical shenanigans go on here. The Silver Scrolls are a great night to catch up with people I haven't seen in ages; an event thankfully devoid of any music industry hype or self important BS. It's just a bloody good night out. There were some other awards and things, but you can get that from the official news sources.

(also posted at Public Address)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Can't get enough
I heard a great interview with three former members of Supergroove on BFM late last week - Ben, Karl and Tim talked about the crazy times on their world tour. They were all so young, and changed so much; as Tim observed on the radio, "when we got back from tour, I was gay!" That Tim, he's so wacky. Their record company has just put out a greatest hits cd with some fine remixes from Timmy Schumacher and Baitercell.

I remember sitting outside the Dog Club in Newton Rd (now the Dogs Bollix), when my band was doing a gig there, way back, and this geeky young guy comes and sits down next to me and starts chatting and introduces himself; "my names Karl, and my bands called Supergroove." He was so keen, which I thought was really cool.

We played a support for Supergroove several years later, on their first album tour, in a hall in Mt Maunganui. Their crowd was totally nuts, and I remember Slave, Otis and DLT were the other supports. After our soundcheck we went off to the hot pools (they were still finishing building the stage), and told recent band recruit Gavin D that they didn't let you show tattoos in the pool here, and he'd have to wear a t shirt. We all had tattoos, so he believed us, god knows why. We were lying thru our teeth.
Here's an interview with Karl, looking back.

If you're familiar with author Douglas Rushkoff, he's got a new gig - as keyboard player for a revived Psychic TV with Genesis P-Orridge. He says "It's a humbling prospect. Although it won't be my first time playing with a band, it will be my first time playing with a band in a couple of decades, and my first time playing with a band that people actually listen to by choice. I will let you know what happens, and if they decide to keep me. First gig, sometime in December."

Check out the human beatbox/harmonica. Warning-its a slow load on a fast connection, but worth the wait. A guy beatboxing hiphop styles, with a harmonica thrown in as well. Nuts.

Bush's Whitehouse has altered its website so that search engines can no longer show search results for 'Iraq' with their sites pages listed. This looks odd, but it may be a wayward conspiracy theory. Take a look.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Kill the poor.
Aussie bank ANZ bought the National Bank last week. ANZ has consistently had poor ratings in customer surveys, whereas National Bank is near the top.
"Asked about a total switch to the better regarded National brand, ANZ chief executive John McFarlane said the bank, which has about 1 million customers, suffered from skewed ratings in customer satisfaction surveys because of its higher than average percentage of "welfare clients"."
Yes, its those scummy poor bastards ruining them. Its bad enough that they're poor, but do they have to bank with us? Great attitude, Mr McFarlane.

I had a great weekend, DJ'ed out at The Grand Hotel in Helensville on sunday afternoon with Bassteppa Sound System, lotsa sunshine, hanging out in the courtyard out the back playing tunes, makeshift bar set up in the shed, barbecue sizzling away, all very very fine.

I just realised that list of the top 40 bands in Britain today from the Guardian doesn't mention Primal Scream. WTF? I recently picked up their Echodek album on vinyl secondhand, very tasty remix work by Adrian Sherwood, reworking their Vanishing Point album top to bottom. Easily as good a remix album as Mad Professors No Protection (Massive Attacks Protection album remixed). Sherwood's solo disc Never Trust a Hippy is well worth investigating, some freaked out dub nonsense on Real World.