Saturday, February 26, 2011

Milking it

I went down to BaseFM's annual Shake N Bake gig today in Western Park. The folk from Cut Collective were doing some live art, and this was what they came up with...




Vinyl revival #250

Yet another variation on a classic theme....

Vinyl Records Turn Up the Volume (NBC DFW)

Music store owners say vinyl albums are gaining popularity. "All of the sudden, a few years ago, it started coming back. It kind of amazed me, so we started buying more vinyl," Don Foster, the owner of Recycled Books, Records and CDs, in Denton said ...

... "With a CD, it is so flimsy and just kind of there," said Steven Rodriguez, a 25-year-old record collector. "With a vinyl, you can hold it and flip it over. The whole ritual of playing a record is satisfying."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Buju Banton found guilty

Via Miami Herald. - Singer Buju Banton found guilty in cocaine case


Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009, a verdict that elicited anguish and disbelief among supporters in a crowded courtroom and from other artists in his native Jamaica.

A federal jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days on the fate of Banton, who won a Grammy last week for best reggae album for his work entitled "Before the Dawn." He was found guilty of three of four charges, and his attorney said he's facing at least 15 years in prison.

The 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and the trial - his second over the drug accusations - was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked....

... Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. He was acquitted of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine....

.... Prosecutors acknowledge that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal, nor did he ever profit from it. Markus said his client is "a big talker" who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn't involved in any drug deal.

The verdict marks "the saddest day for reggae and dancehall," rapper Michael "Power Man" Davy said, adding he was "sad as a Rastaman and a Jamaican."

Singer Junior Reid called it a conspiracy against reggae artists. "With Buju gone, a big piece of reggae get chop off," he said.

Chch benefit gig in AK on Sunday

"In the wake of Christchurch’s most recent and devastating earthquake, Heaps of People present the “Kotahitangata (One People)” concert for the “New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal”, happening this Sunday 27 February, 5pm at Sale St.

100% of all proceeds will go to Red Cross New Zealand to aid their ongoing efforts to support those affected by the quake.
The stellar line-up includes: Sola Rosa (live), King Kapisi, Homebrew, LA Mitchell, Anna Coddington, Coast, The Midnights, LatinAotearoa (Bobby Brazuka, Jennifer Zea & Isaac Aesili), Recloose, The Turnaround (Manuel Bundy, Cian, Submariner) & special guests.

No cost was incurred in the creation of the event with the complete line-up performing free of charge.

Doors open at 5pm and there will be a variety of auctions running during the day to also raise money for the cause. Tickets are $25 from Eventfinder and gig-goers are also required to give a donation of their choice on arrival – anything from $1 to $1000 - it is all greatly appreciated.

Fania!


Fania Records has linked up with Strut to drop a wicked 2 CD set retrospective of the Fania label, covering such legends of latin music as Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Joe Bataan, Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria and many more. If you've never checked out the Fania label, this looks like a great place to start.


"Fania was originally the brainchild of musician and bandleader Johnny Pacheco who, when disillusioned with the label releasing his music, teamed up with lawyer Jerry Masucci to form a new imprint, named after a Reinaldo Bolanos composition. 
 
"At the time, the era of the ‘mambo kings’  that reigned supreme in New York from the late 1940s through the 1950s had begun to lose momentum. New York’s new generation of young Latinos were more interested in doo-wop during the late 1950s, then the ‘twist’ and the R&B of Motown. Younger Nu Yorican musicians began experimenting with new, energetic fusions of Latin music like boogaloo and what ultimately became known as salsa and Fania arrived at the perfect time to bring the new sounds to the huge Latin communities in Spanish Harlem and across New York."
 
Various Artists: Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound Of Latin New York
(Out March 29th)


Track listing below...
CD 1
1. Johnny Pacheco - Dakar, Punto Final
2. Orchestra Harlow - La Juventud
3. Joe Bataan - Subway Joe
4. Ray Barretto - Mercy Mercy Baby
5. Bobby Valentin - Use It Before You Lose It
6. Willie Colon - The Hustler
7. Joe Bataan - Mambo De Bataan
8. Roberto Roena - Consolacion
9. Ismael Miranda con Orchestra Harlow - Abran Paso
10. Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz - Sonido Bestial
11. Willie Colon - Che Che Cole
12. Cheo Feliciano - Anacaona
13. The Fania All Stars - Quitate Tu (Live At The Cheetah)
14. Justo Betancourt – Pa’ Bravo Yo
15. Ismael Miranda - Asi Se Compone Un Son

CD 2
1. Ray Barretto – Indestructible
2. Willie Colon - Calle Luna, Calle Sol
3. Roberto Roena - Que Se Sepa
4. Bobby Valentin - Coco Seco
5. Celiz Cruz & Johnny Pacheco - Quimbara
6. Tommy Olivencia - Pa’Lante Otra Vez
7. Hector Lavoe - Mi Gente
8. Mongo Santamaria - O Mi Shango
9. Sonora Poncena - Bomba Carambomba
10. Ruben Blades & Willie Colon - Pablo Pueblo
11.Hector Lavoe - El Cantante
12. Ruben Blades & Willie Colon – Pedro Navaja
13. Celia Cruz Y Sonora Poncena - Sonaremos El Tambo
14. Fania All Stars & Celia Cruz - Cuando Despiertes

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Len Brown loves dull grey walls

Before

After. The Council workers missed the top part of the mural, so came back and painted over it.

I heard earlier today via Twitter from local artist Askew (Elliot O'Donnell) that the Auckland Council had painted over one of the central city's best graffiti art murals, up on Poynton Terrace, off Pitt St. This mural has been there for a number of years, and has been painted and repainted numerous times by Askew and his crew. It provides some much needed colour in a drab access lane.


Askew says the order to paint over the mural came from Tony Capton but apparently the request came from higher up in the Council. He says even the guys painting it out were astounded. They thought there had been a mistake so they double-checked. This was painted over without permission of the owner or the tenants, both whom are very upset by this, as are many locals in the area.

Askew says "I've had permission for the wall for over 10 years - consistently spoken with the owners and even been paid once or twice for it."

I lived in that area for a while and that mural definitely added something of value to the neighborhood. I  even used that mural as a backdrop for this music video... it's in the shots with Sandy Mill singing...

The Council's own website states that "If the graffiti appears to be an artwork ie permission was given for the work to be done, it will not be removed." (source)

I also heard from someone who spoke to some cleaners in town recently who said they've been brought in to clean up for the RWC. Is that what Len Brown aspires for our city to present to the world? Bland grey walls that say nothing about us?

Please email Len Brown and ask him why this was done. It will only take a minute.
Email him on len.brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Image one and two from Askews blog. See Mr Rimoni's blog for more shots of the wall.


UDATE: Tues 1 March - Len Brown apologised via Twitter to Askew yesterday. He also replied to me, saying "looks like a genuine mistake by council staff. My office is moving to sort it out".  Today the Mayor contacted Askew via Twitter to say "council officers should be in touch with you, business owner & K Rd Ass. with options."

This story was picked by by the New Zealand Herald's Ana Samways, and featured in her column today. A number of commenters below also pointed me to the murals that have been buffed (painted over) by the Council. There are at least three of them in recent times, apparently. One was a mural painted as a tribute to a young couple and their baby, all killed in a car accident when a truck ran into them.

This action at Poynton Terrace now appears to be part of a wider cleanup effort, possibly linked to the Rugby World Cup. The AKT blog reports that efforts are underway to paint out tagging and graffiti from the rail corridor.

Also, listen to BFM's interview with Askew from last Friday here. Askew says he went down to the site as soon as he heard about it and talked with the painters. When they'd gone back and double-checked that there were supposed to paint over this mural, they were told that it was  illegal and the landlord had asked for it to be painted over. That simply isn't true.

ADDED June 29, 2011: The Auckland Council has put out a call for expressions of interest from artists to replace the mural. See The Big Idea. The Council's Public Art Team say on their Facebook page that "we'd welcome an EOI from Askew. The bonus is that whomever is awarded the contract will get an artists fee, and materials paid, so won't have to fund it out of their own pocket."

That's not a bonus - that's what Len Brown undertook to do after admitting the Council made a mistake painting out the mural. Askew and friends paid for that mural out of his own pocket for ten years.


ADDED August 23, 2011:
The Auckland Council has agreed to let Askew handle the reinstatement of the mural. From Askew's blog, posted earlier today:

"A couple of weeks ago I met with Rob Garret who is Auckland Council’s public arts facilitator and we came to a very amicable agreement – one that is going to enable a positive outcome that will benefit everyone involved and hopefully also benefit many others.

The Council agreed to withdraw their call for submissions for the new mural and have instead agreed to make a settlement with me on behalf of the artists. I was asked to price out a fair figure on par with what we would charge for a similar sized mural work in a commercial situation. I came up with the figure of $10,440.00 which breaks down like this:

Materials: $3,460.00
Access Equipment: $1,100.00
Artist fees: $5,700.00

This morning we found that the amount of $10,440.00 + GST had been deposited into our account and as promised we put it to some charitable causes – after we paid the GST direct to the Government of course! This is where the money went:

$4,394.00 - Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
$4,394.00 – Canterbury SPCA Earthquake Appeal

And in light of the passing of NYC graffiti Legend Case2 last week – we donated the remaining $1,316.00 USD needed to reach their goal of $5,400.00 for his funeral costs.

So that’s the first aspect of this all sorted – what about the art work?

At this stage – we can’t paint the replacement mural at Poynten Tce but in the next couple of weeks I will seek to talk directly with the landlords there and see if we can just return things back to the way it was. We will paint and maintain that site again if possible. 

In the mean time, The K’ Road Business Association have come to us with an alternative location, which is the side of 420/Rising Sun etc, the side facing the motorway. In an ideal world we will paint both locations or at the very least just the 420 spot but I have pulled together a fantastic team of local artists to get involved and will make more announcements about the project as it develops. At this stage it will likely be towards the end of the year as everyone involved are over-committed with their own projects for at least the next 2 months..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Webstock

This is a statement of fact.
Webstock has grown from a small gathering back in 2006 to around 750 people this year. It's an incredible event; their attention to detail in every aspect of what they do is just jaw-droppingly good. And I'm not just saying that cos they got me back to be the official Webstock DJ for the second year running.

The speakers this year ranged in subject matter from comics to typography to content to music to infographics to all different aspects of the web... it really was quite mindblowing. What really gets me about Webstock is everyone who goes to it is totally engaged with what they're hearing. It's buzzing with energy from the very first speaker. It's buzzing even before the doors open - if the audience has managed to beat the queues at the coffee machine that is.

One very cool idea that popped up on the first day was making use of Google Docs to create an open document for each speaker that anyone could contribute notes to.  Go here to read the full list of notes on the speaker's talks. It worked brilliantly.

There's so many highlights it's hard to pull out a few. Some of my favorite speakers included Merlin Mann who gave a great talk using slides that were low-fi photos of index cards he'd scribbled on (unlike other presenters, who even had credits for the typeface in their sumptuously designed slides), and Amanda Palmer, who made her entrance to Webstock by busking outside the Town Hall, playing on the screen inside via video link from an iPhone. She walked inside the town hall, belting out Radiohead’s Creep while playing ukulele. The video link cut out half way through. Don’t know if the phone was connected to Vodafone or XT.

Whenever one of the Webstock speakers swear, all eyes shoot to the sign language interpreter to see how they sign it. The best example was Webstock’s Mike Brown introducing Palmer, as her full performing name, Amanda F**king Palmer, and turning to the sign guy and saying I want to see how you do this, and sign guy looks at Mike and says “is that a noun or a verb?”. Cue laughter.

Palmer talked about her experiences of being signed to a major label, how that worked really well for a while, then stopped working. She said that the major labels were like the Titanic, and they were already sinking and yet they were still in denial they were going down.

Palmer mentioned using Bandcamp as a great model for distributing music, and also using Twitter as a way of organising her tours - finding places to stay, and staging spontaneous 'ninja gigs' as she calls them.She talked about staging a ninja gig in Byron Bay in Australia, which was great, but all the people who came were from outside Byron Bay, not locals as there's no internet coverage there.

They best example she had of using Twitter was when she was flying from the US to UK to do some advance press before starting a tour there. The stopover was in Iceland, and she landed just after the volcano blew up. It quickly became apparent that she wasn't flying anywhere when the airline started talking about offering her a hotel to stay. So she got on Twitter and asked "Anyone here?"

She knew no one in Iceland, but a friend in NZ who was originally from Iceland, called her old schoolfriend back in Iceland, and they came and picked Palmer up at the airport and gave her a place to stay. Within 7 hours of being stranded, Palmer had sorted accommodation and a gig for that night, and borrowed a keyboard for the show.

Palmer said “Free content breeds success which might not be immediately visible or measurable”.
She said that giving your music away for free, if it's good, will make people pay for more. If it's shitty, they won't give you a cent.

DJing at Webstock is an entertaining gig - you're basically playing background music for folk while they have a break for morning/afternoon tea, or lunch. The people attending Webstock are so friendly - they would ask if I needed any food, or drink, and complimented me on the music. Thank you! You are lovely people.

I got to hang out with some awesome people at Webstock. Hope to see you again soon! Thank you for inviting me, Webstock.


And when I wasn't DJing, I was probably on Twitter. Photographic evidence

Webstock also provide attendees with free grapefruit and lemon Frujus. Classy

Amanda Palmer entered the stage playing Creep by Radiohead

Apparently I missed the geek memo about wearing checked shirts to Webstock. Not these guys

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christchurch

About 1pm this afternoon, Christchurch was hit by a serious earthquake, of 6.3 (following September's quake of 7.1). There's been terrible scenes of collapsed buildings, shocked people and calamity all over the tv for hours. It's pretty horrific to watch. Sixty five people are reported dead so far, and there's still hundreds of people trapped inside collapsed buildings, as darkness falls. I hope they're going to be okay. Much love to the people of Christchurch.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five bar loops



From a recent article in The Guardian on J-Dilla... no standard four bar loops for this cat...

"...Dilla was, perhaps, the only hip-hop producer to have studied the cello ("Not the instrument of choice in the ghetto," as his mother puts it in the sleevenotes) as a child, and his work is full of the sort of subtle but powerful differences that a composition-based education might provide, as Miguel Atwood-Ferguson noticed when he broke down the pieces ahead of arranging them for the orchestra.

"Dilla loves five-bar loops," he says. "He loves sevens and elevens as well, but within the phrases of five, he will have different parts of the beat looped in threes, fives and sevens a lot as well. Two of my other favorite musicians, Billie Holliday and Elvin Jones, very naturally phrase in three, five, and seven as well, without even seemingly being consciously of it."

Wave goodbye



I heard a whisper late last year that The Opensouls were splitting up, and this weekend just gone the band played their final show in Tauranga. Lead singer Tyra Hammond has recently had a kid, and drummer Julien Dyne has got a budding solo career cooking away, not to forget the other musical activities of other band members, so I guess it's a good time to wrap things up. The Opensouls produced some splendidly funky grooves. I'll miss em. Love this video too, you bunch of sick puppies! Laters, Opensouls....