Friday, April 04, 2008

Give it up or turn it loose
"When James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006, he left behind a fortune worth tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars. The problem is, he also left behind: Fourteen children (pending DNS tests); Sixteen grandchildren (and counting); Eight mothers of his children (that’s a low estimate); Several mistresses (the man was a rock star); Thirty lawyers; A former manager; An aging dancer; A longtime valet; And a sister who’s not really a sister but calls herself the Godsister of Soul anyway. All of whom want a piece of his legacy. And when the dust clears, there might be nothing left of the (supremely talented, extremely careless, and massively troubled) Godfather of Soul."

Click here to read an extended excerpt from the article by Sean Flynn, the full version of which can be found in the April 2008 issue of GQ magazine. (Hat tip to Different Kitchen)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Heart Sneakers
Further evidence that my kicks obsession is going to pay off one day... "Got a passion for buying sneakers? It could be a good sign, with a poll finding that people who buy three pairs of sneakers or more a year are far more likely to be a leadership type that other people." From Reuters.

Speaking of obsessions, I signed up for yesterday, and have discovered digital crack. Got legal downloads from Horace Andy to Little Dragon to Loose Joints to Cymande to Benga to Peanutbutter Wolf to Hot 8 brass band to Sugar Minott to Sun Ra. So easy, so good. Like I need another way to access more music.... sigh...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Womad 2008 - random notes... [belated]

Arrive Friday afternoon, check out the Govett Brewster Gallery for my Len Lye fix. Hang with my NP rellies and give Friday night a miss - hear later that Sharon Jones joined Mavis Staples for one song on Staples' Friday set. Damn.

Arrive Saturday arvo on the festival site, after a pleasant stroll thru Pukekura Park. Check out Kora, grooving and moving. They sounded great, apart from a brief lapse into Eurotrash techno - their influences may be broad, but do they have to explore every single one? Still, the crowd loved em, and they looked like they were having a great time onstage.

Hung round after Kora played, had dinner (butter chicken and naan) while watching a kapa haka group, with Mt Taranaki in the distance. Nice.

Watched the Dapkings set up and soundcheck, while on the grass in front of the stage Zac Condon and Beirut try and get to grips with playing cricket. The overarm bowling thing got em, kept bowling like it was baseball.

The Dapkings hit the stage at 7pm, all snappy suits and funky grooves. MC and guitarist Binky Griptite warms up the crowd, welcoming us to this special Womad edition of the Daptone Super Soul Revue. After a few tunes, he bids us to welcome Ms Sharon Jones to the stage, and this little ball of dynamite blasts into view and tears the stage apart for the next 45 minutes. No gaps between songs, just the band leader (and bass player) Bosco Mann calling the changes (found out later they never use a setlist - damn they tight) .

Then Ms Jones and the band exit. The crowd goes nuts, then Binky Griptite comes back out, holding a glass of red wine, dead casual, and asks the crowd if they want some more? The response is yes please. "Do you want some more?" Yes! "So, are you telling me, we could have a crowd-control situation of you don't get some more?" YES!!!! So the band and Ms Jones return to the stage and rip thru a few more numbers before departing. Sharon sings about all the difficulties she has faced as a singer, from people in the music industry telling her she was too short, too fat, too black, too old. And how she stuck with it, and look at her now. The crowd loved her to bits. And the response to their show on Sunday night was no different.

Sharon Jones and Bosco Mann (Gabriel Roth) took part in an event they had on a small stage set up with lounge chairs, called Artists In Conversation, an interview-format session with different performers. Sharon talked about how she was a prison guard at Rikers Island before joining up with the Dapkings. She was playing in a wedding band, and Bosco was DJing at a wedding she was playing at. He played the instrumental flipside of a single he had, and Sharon sung along, and no-one could believe she wasn't lipsyncing. Later, Bosco was doing some recording on a tune and they needed three backing vocalists, and the sax player he was working with suggested his girlfriend, which was Sharon. She came in and said well, I can sing all three parts, so why don't you just pay me instead?

The interview was conducted by the very able Nick Bollinger (Listener /National Radio - pictured above, on the left), and near the end they opened it up to questions from the audience. I got in a question to Bosco, asking about whats involved in producing vinyl. He talked a little about mastering and so forth, then got onto the pressing plant they use, which is United Record Pressing in Nashville. He's had a tour of it, when they've been down that way playing. He said it's like something straight out of the 70s, especially the offices. There's an apartment above the offices, which was built to accommodate the like of Motown's Berry Gordy when he'd come to do business with the plant, as none of the motels in Nashville would let him stay. (Photos here)

Bosco also mentioned the printing shop down the street, that prints their record labels. "They don't print flyers, stickers, posters - just record labels". He said that you phone up the owner, and say "Hey how's it going?" and he has a standard response - "Printing em square, cutting em round".

Bosco's enthusiasm for vinyl was evident in the way he talked about getting home with a new record, putting it on the turntable, then listening to the first side - he likes to listen to it 5 or 6 times before turning it over and listening to the second side. He said that albums used to be about 20 minutes a side, but now, you have artists filling up 80 minutes on a CD with nonsense like comedy skits, which he suggested was not really their area of expertise (or word to that effect).

Mid-conversation, Bosco stopped for a moment and sniffed the air, as some smell wafted by. "What's that, some food?" said Sharon. "No, I think it's something else," said Bosco, grinning (it was herb). "And thats another thing, you can't roll a joint on an MP3".

He also noted that the whole downloading/MP3/iPod culture seemed to be about quantity - "So, you've got 80,000 songs on your watch - so what?"

(And I got my latest Dapkings album signed, and got a photo of me with the lovely Ms Jones - ADDED below. And I bought the t-shirt).

Also saw Mavis Staples, Tibetan throat singers, Neil Finn, Beirut ("This is the first time we've ever played in front of a moat!"), Terem Quartet, some crazy gypsies, Cambodian guitar god Master Kong Nay & Ouch Savy, SJD, so much more. Very inspiring weekend. And scored four stellar vintage shirts from the Pio Pio opshop - $5 fill a bag. Awesome.



Further reading - NZHerald's Steven Shaw Sharon Jones steals the show, Full Womad report. NZH's Alan Perrott - See Womad and dye.