Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

India.Arie & Idan Raichel at the Paramount Theater and finding politics where there is none

Open Door - an India.Arie and Idan Raichel collaboration

Last Saturday night I went to a beautiful concert in Oakland's Paramount Theater presented by SFJAZZ with neo-soul singer India.Arie and Israeli world-fusion pop artist Idan Raichel. I am a fan of both artists independently and was curious about this collaboration that resulted in the soon-to-be-released album Open Door .

Turns out, Arie and Raichel are a perfect pairing; both artists have a steady stream of humanitarian sentiment throughout their music as well as self-acceptance. Arie sang in both Hebrew and English, and Raichel brought a very cool world fusion vibe to Arie’s bohemian soul vibe. While at times I felt the music was overly cheesy, I was also moved by the sentiment.

So, we all have pet peeves. They’re built into our DNA and there’s often not much we can do about them. They just sort of follow you around, pissing you off.

One of my pet peeves is talking during a live show. It’s one of those that things that if I try to ignore a loud conversation, it just gets more annoying, especially if the comments are frustrating.

Saturday night, there were two women sitting behind me who did not do their research about this performance. In its program, SFJAZZ titled this show “India.Arie and Idan Raichel”; this was a collaboration project. These women were obviously not aware of Idan Raichel or that simply, he would be there. And, it seemed that they took offense to the mere fact that he was Israeli.

Now don’t get me wrong, yes, I definitely have my own politics when it comes to Israel. I am Jewish, and I am also pro-peace and a raging humanitarian (if there is such a thing). I have traveled to Israel and the West Bank. I have been moved, disturbed, frightened, inspired, depressed and excited by what I experienced and what I continue to learn about the country. I also have wonderful Israeli family that I love very dearly.

I am very much torn about the whole issue of Israel. And I believe that if a person takes a hard stance either pro- or against, you have not learned or experienced enough of the larger issue. It’s very easy, especially from half way around the world, to listen to media and believe that one group of people are in the wrong, but the issue is so much more complicated than that.

From stage Raichel and Arie told the story of how they met, simply that Arie had traveled to Israel for personal exploration and she had discovered Raichel’s music there. The woman behind me took offense to the fact that she had even been there, saying loudly “It’s an apartheid state!” Raichel added to the story that they first met at a falafel shop to which the women responded “that’s Palestinian!”

What? Really? I don’t think so. I can’t believe she took it there.

I also heard her say, “I just didn’t expect this!” to her friend and something like “this is just so glorifying…” But there was no mention of politics, no mention of Palestine. Just some songs with Hebrew lyrics and talk of falafel.

Unfortunately Israel is the modern day South Africa and to many, any mention of the country brings up politics. I’m also assuming that if it were up to this woman, there would be a cultural embargo on Israel, much like the one placed on South Africa during its Apartheid, making a collaboration like Arie and Raichel’s fraught with controversy (much like Paul Simon’s Grammy winning Graceland ).

I moved to seats across the aisle so that I didn’t have to listen to any more comments. I was very close to saying something to them. I understand that these women were unhappy, but they did not do their research and they didn’t have to spoil my enjoyment.

This is all so ironic considering that one of the central tunes (and wonderfully cheese-tastic) on Open Door is called “The Gift of Acceptance” with the lyrics:

We can debate to the end of time who's wrong and who is right,

Or I can honor your choices and you can honor mine.

They call you Israeli and they call me an American,

I look at you and I don't see a country, I just see my friend,

I pray we're in each other's lives for a long, long time

because I honor your choices and you honor mine.

We all want the same things from life,

We want peace, love and prosperity.

But can we give up our need to be right?

Give the world a present, give the gift of your acceptance.

Friday, January 22, 2010

PBS's new music program "Sound Tracks" explores relevant music around the world

Some of the world’s best music has been created out of great passion and great struggle.

I was listening to Forum on KQED/NPR this morning driving my cat home from the vet and heard about an exciting new show that will air next Monday night at 10pm called "Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders." I didn't get to hear the whole report (a cat in a carrier is not a happy cat), but I am very excited about this show.

Producer Marco Werman and international correspondents Alexis Bloom, Arun Rath and Mirissa Neff have created a show that will take viewers on journeys of discovery from the bayous of Louisiana to the backstreets of Havana, from the nightclubs of Paris to desert music festivals in Mali. They'll interview everyone from Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famers to Bollywood singers, violin virtuosos to bluegrass musicians. It's not just good music they are looking for, but good stories behind the music.


Click here for the "Sound Tracks" official website

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Day and "American Idiot" Berkeley Rep Cast to Record New Version Single "21 Guns"

This is only the beginning of the staged production of American Idiot's rise in popularity.

According to cast member and star John Gallager, Jr's twitter the cast of American Idiot at the Berkeley Rep went into the studio yesterday to record "21 Guns" with Green Day. It is rumored that the production will spread onto Broadway and the big screen.

Personally I'm looking forward to the cast recording of American Idiot. The arrangements are spectacular. I saw the show opening night just over two months ago. READ MY REVIEW HERE and can't quite remember who sings "21 Guns" (it might have been one of the female characters), but the cast was terrific and it's bound to be good.

Green Day's singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong is producing the track, which will hit the radio at the end of November and be made available for purchase through all digital retailers. With bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool the band will also shoot a video for “21 Guns” with the American Idiot cast. The digital version of the "21 Guns" has gone platinum, selling more than one million downloads, while the video won three 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in September, including “Best Rock Video.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photo essay and retrospective of Queensryche's show at the Fillmore

I know, I know, this report is months overdue, but I figure better late than never. And since these pictures are pretty good for what I can do with my little Canon Power Shot, I wanted to share them with you.

I am not embarassed to say that I am a Queensrÿche fan. Even though I mostly listened to classic rock and 60s folk rock in high school, something about Queensrÿche's album Empire grabbed me in the early 90s. My older brother gave me his tape and CD because he was soooo over it. But I listened over and over and over. Was it Geoff Tate's insane soaring vocals? Was it the intricate arrangements and guitar lines? What about their unabashed political statements? As a girl whose music tastes were somehow stuck in the 60s, this strange world of Seattle progressive metal was bizarrely appealing to me.

In 2004 Queensrÿche toured through Austin, Texas (where I lived at the time) performing their rock opera Operation: Mindrime. I jumped at a ticket. Yes it was expensive and I went alone since I couldn't persuade anyone else to go with me.

"Queensrÿche? You like them?" people would say.

Yes, I'm crazy. The fans were fascinating, especially these Texan fans. I've never seen so much faux-leather spandex in my life. Metal fans are awesome and the music was not disappointing. The guitars sounded great and Geoff Tate sounded better than ever. This is what singing is all about.

Queensrÿche came through Austin again in 2007 peforming both Operation: Mindrime I and II with theater sets, costumes and props. By then I had met a friend curious enough to come with me and we had a great time.

I saw that Queensrÿche was playing the Fillmore at the beginning of June and I jumped at this show too. They have a fascinating new album out called American Soldier based on recorded interviews conducted by lead singer Geoff Tate with men and woman who have served our country. It was inspired by Tate's father who served in Korea and in Vietnam. Tate told the Fillmore audience that his father never liked talking about his wartime experiences but got him to talk in an interview. This album is not an anti-war album, it's a pro-soldier album.

Tate stated that Queensrÿche has many fans in the armed forces and appreciates what they've done for the United States and "allow us to live the way we live." Earlier this spring they scheduled Military Base Signings open to service men and women only.

These are snippets of Tates's stage banter and photos from the Queensrÿche San Francisco show at the Fillmore on June 4th, 2009.

A highlight of the show was this moment when Tate's stunning 11-year-old daughter Emily joined her father on stage for "Home Again" a song about a series of letters between a father at war and the daughter missing him.

"Vietnam veterans came home to a very divided country. They were called 'baby killers' and people spat in their faces. We've come a long way since then."

"The album Empire is about the war on drugs. [Since the song was written 20 years ago] the money spent on this war as quadrupled. It's obvious that we don't need more money, we need new ideas."

Tate reminised about listening to Queensrÿche on vinyl records and appealed to Bay Area mentality. The audience cheered.

"Are cheering because you like vinyl?" he asked "You mean you like the idea of people being made to sit and actually listen to music? Wow. I'm giddy. The record industy must have it wrong (with mp3s)."

After the show I had the honor of meeting the band. They signed my ticket stub! Check out the the wall of Fillmore posters in the back.

Geoff Tate and me

with guitarist Michael Wilton

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 the musical: it gets funnier the more you watch it

Dedicated to my fabulously backwards state of California...

The internet is buzzing with clip featuring Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Kathy Najimy Jennifer Lewis, Neil Patrick Harris and more.

If you've already seen it, watch it again. It's faaaabulous.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jamie sings "GoodNight Bush" at Yoshi's San Francisco on Inauguration Evening

On January 20th, 2009 I sang with about 2 dozen other people to form the "Goodnight Bush" singers at our debut (as well as one and only) performance at Yoshi's San Francisco to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama.

We sang a four part arrangement by Daryl Henline (also conductor) of the children's parody book Goodnight Bush by Erick Origen and Gan Golan, in bathrobes.  We had one rehearsal the night before and did a warmup in the Yoshi's parking lot.

Someone edited together this awesome video of folks at the inauguration in D.C. reading the story while we sing over it.  It's terrific.  Look for me, I'm just to the right of the conductor. And I'm singing my socks off!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OBAMANATION!: Inauguration's greatest hits

This our OBAMANATION! (thanks to Prop. 8 the Musical for that one!) What a line-up. Legends, all of them.

This is my own personal 2009 Presidential Inauguration greatest hits (plus a few added ditties on the way).  PLEASE leave a link to your favorite moment if it's not included here.

1) "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "City of Blinding Lights" - U2 (This song has been making me cry ever since I starting thinking about MLK and Obama and what this really means to all of us.) I love these four guys from Dublin, they can do no wrong in my book, even as Bono's voice starts going. I love his shoutouts to Ireland, Europe, Africa, Israel and Palestine, as well as to Joe Biden (as a fellow Catholic)!

2) "You'll Never Walk Alone" - Renee Fleming (Omigawd I want to wrap myself in this woman's voice!)

3) "This Land is Your Land" with Pete Seeger (the cutest man alive) and Bruce Springsteen. By Woody Guthrie, this is one of the most quintessential American songs ever written. Seeger has been leading the masses to this song for decades. I wonder which would have been his proudest sing-a-long.

4) "Air and Simple Gifts" by John Williams performed by Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. STUNNING! Aaron Copland's "Simple Gifts is one of of the most perfect melodies ever.

5) "Higher Ground" with Usher, Shakira & Stevie Wonder

6. "America the Beautiful" Beyonce (and a ton of other famous people) Simple and gorgeous.  Beyonce is a goddess.

7. "My Country Tis of Thee" - Aretha Franklin She's not quite the singer she used to be, and someone had a point that the key was too high for her, but it's ARETHA FRANKLIN!! And she can get away with anything, even that hat.

8. Oh, and just because I can't help it, here is Obama dancing with Ellen from over a year-and-a-half ago.

9) And this... "No one as Irish as Barack OBama" by the Hardy Drew and the Nany Boys (a.k.a The Corrigan Brothers)

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me, I hear you say
But Barack's as Irish, as was JFK
His granddaddy's daddy came from Moneygall
A small Irish village, well known to you all

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

He's as Irish as bacon and cabbage and stew
He's Hawaiian he's Kenyan American too
He’s in the white house, He took his chance
Now let’s see Barack do Riverdance

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

From Kerry and cork to old Donegal
Let’s hear it for Barack from old moneygall
From the lakes if Killarney to old Connemara
There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama
From the old blarney stone to the great hill of Tara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

2008 the white house is green, their cheering in Mayo and in Skibereen.
The Irish in Kenya, and in Yokahama,
Are cheering for President Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The Hockey Moms gone, and so is McCain
They are cheering in Texas and in Borrisokane,

In Moneygall town, the greatest of drama, for our Famous president Barack o Bama

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama
There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

The great Stephen Neill, a great man of God,
He proved that Barack was from the Auld Sod
They came by bus and they came by car, to celebrate Barack in Ollie Hayes’s Bar

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Inaugural line-up: What would yours be?

I assume that Barack Obama gets a least a little bit of say when choosing the musical and poetic "entertainment" (I put quotations around it because it's WAY more than that) of his presidential inauguration. 

I mean, it's not a question of "can we get so-and-so" or "too bad whats-her-name will be in Australia".  It's the presidential inauguration! And not just any inauguration. I'm already kicking myself for not making a bigger attempt getting to D.C. but, oh well.

So who did the Obama people pick to perform tomorrow on the steps of the Capitol Steps tomorrow?

Aretha Franklin will be there.  A quartet comprising of Yo-Yo Ma (cellist), Itzhak Perlman (violinist), Gabriela Montero (pianist) and Anthony McGill (clarinetist) will be performing an original composition by John Williams.  The Boys and Girls Choruses of San Francisco and the Marine Corps Band will also play.

We all know about the controversial pick of Pastor Rick Warren to speak.  But also we will hear from Elizabeth Alexander (poet) and Reverend Joseph Lowery (civil rights leader).

Who would you want to speak and/or perform at your inauguration?  Think as big as you want! (Let's keep it to living folks though.)

Would would I want? Aretha was certainly a good choice. How about U2? But give me the 1997 Bono so that he can still sing  :P 

How about some Paul McCartney?  He's not American, but he played the Super Bowl once-upon a time didn't he? I mean, that was way more "American" than this is.  This is a celebration for the whole world to enjoy.

I would definitely get the Soweto Gospel Choir.  They are amazing and they represent a country that has seen dark times and is moving toward a brighter future.  

As for speakers? I wouldn't be able to resist some Jon Stewart.  Oh, and Bill Clinton.  Definitely.  Maybe David Sedaris? 

Who would be in YOUR inauguration ceremony?

UPDATE: How amazing was that ceremony? John William's piece was gorgeous and Reverend Joseph Lowery was incredible as he nodded to whites, black, browns and yellows, Christians, Jews and non-believers (in a humorous and endearing manor.  Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Secretary for the Arts: Sign the petition!

If you read this blog, I would assume that you value the arts.  

If you haven't signed Quincy Jones' endorsed petition demanding the creation of an Arts Secretary, please sign it now.

Watch Quincy talk about Obama and their plans to expand the arts and education.

Very exciting!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Palestine and Israel - Hevenu Shalom Alechem/ Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam

Who's in the mood to hear about some Jewish/Muslim collaboration for a change?  I sure am.

Since going to Israel two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long) I am even more thoroughly convinced that there is no right and wrong when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. At this point it's more like mafia warfare that anything else. The resentment and fear runs so deep that there seems to be no hope in sight.

As I Jew I cannot help but to feel sympathy and cultural understanding for Israel. I have family there that I love very much, and I know how they have grown up in a world where you might lose your life walking across the street. And as a human being and as part of a people who was once victim to genocide, I feel the Palestinian struggle as well.

One thing that most people can agree upon is that the leaders of these two peoples cannot seem to make it work. There have been so many misteps along the way (that I will not get into here) that you can't help but wonder who on earth these people are and how they can sleep at night.

Most Israelis and Palestinians just want to live their lives in peace and most of them do, together, side by side.

I wanted to post this song as tribute to the power of two warring peoples coming together to make art and music. It's sung in both Hebrew and Arabic called Hevenu Shalom Alechem ("We brought Peace among us" in Hebrew) & Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam ("There is Nothing more Beautiful than Peace" in Arabic).  And I have to say, Other than Souad Massi, I'm new to listening to Arabic being sung, I think it's gorgeous!

If you want to help, my advice to you is go to Israel and the West Bank if you can (especially the West Bank, so many people go to Israel and don't make it to the West Bank, there are organizations that will take you for free), talk to as many people as you can including Jews and Muslims. 

But if that's not possible, talk to people at home. If you hear someone taking sides, talk to them about it. The only thing that will save this situation is communication, whether it be artistic or simple conversation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A second tribute to Prop 8: the Musical - it's just as good the second time around

Dedicated to my fabulously backwards state of California...

The internet is buzzing with clip featuring Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Kathy Najimy Jennifer Lewis, Neil Patrick Harris and more.

If you've already seen it, watch it again. It's faaaabulous.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba dies at 76

R.I.P. Mama Makeba.  Peace to you and all you represented and sang for to help bring peace to South Africa during apartheid.  You are and will always be a true artist and hero. You will be missed.

This song is called "Amampondo" or as my afropop band called it, "the Breathing Song."

Also check out "Pata Pata" and "Malaika" in my playlist.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kenge Kenge from Kenya: representative of Obama's support abroad

I know some Australians, Canadians and Brits that support Obama (you know who you are!), and I'm enjoying the international support he's getting all around.  

These days, it's no secret that the President of the United States has more impact on the international community than any other government official on the planet.  Even though other countries can't vote in our election, we should at least take a notice to what they have to say, or sing.

If you don't watch the whole video of "Obama for Change," let me just at least point out the last verse and the public figures and communities that Kenge Kenge single out as Obama supporters:
Hillary Clinton supports you
Al Gore supports you
Jimmy Carter supports you
Europe supports you
Africa supports you
It's always healthy to see things from a different perspective and specifically who these particular individuals see as important to them. Something to think about. 

In this song, Kenge Kenge play a traditional kind of Kenyan dance music called benga.  It evolved in the late 1940s and 1960s in Nairobi by the Luo people, a ethnic group of people from Kenya, eastern Uganda and northern Tanzania. Perhaps it is not a surprise that Barack Obama is of Lou descent. Benga features the nyatiti (eight-stringed lyre), asili (flute), the orutu (one-string fiddle) and oporo (horn). Benga is often played with electric guitars, but "Obama for Change" is strictly acoustic.

Here is a cool photo album I found of a Kenge Kenge concert at the BBC's Live at WOMAD taken by KayHanPep on flickr. 

"Obama for Change" is available for purchase on itunes and emusic and their album "Introducing Kenge Kenge" (shown above) can be purchased at

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Antibalas and the Treasure Island Festival

Brooklyn based Antibalas served as my introduction to afrobeat and its Nigerian creator Fela Kuti. I've seen Antibalas perform at least six times since 2003 and they continue to be one of the best live shows around.  

I like to dance, but not just to anything, it takes a special kind of groove to get me going.  With a four/five piece horn section and three person percussion section, these guys do not disappoint.  

Today Antibalas played an afternoon set at the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco.  For those that do not know the Bay Area, Treasure Island is located in the Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, and the views are postcard worthy.

The highlight of todays show was the fiercely political song "Indictment."  Stuart Bogie, took the lead vocal as well as giving musical cues with the energy of one possessed.  Watching him during this number is pure entertainment. 

What I really love about Antibalas, and afrobeat in general, is the radical politics that automatically come with the music.  Due to the political life and times of Fela Kuti, afrobeat is aggressively anti-authoritative and populist by definition.  And in light of the Bush administration, Antibalas' message is loudly heard.  The song "Indictment" is not only an awesomely composed and executed afrobeat song, it is politically very specific.  No one in attendance will miss its meaning.  

At the Treasure Island Music Festival, the crowd was totally into the song even before the vocals started, but when Stuart Bogie screamed "Condoleezza Rice!  Indictment!" The crowd went nuts, almost taking them by surprise at its forcefulness.  He continued to list "George W. Bush!  Indictment!  Donald Rumsfield! Indictment!  Order in the court!"  But my favorite  of the day?  "Bill O-Reilly! Indictment!"  I would love Steven Colbert to get ahold of that one.  

Watch this short clip from the Langerado Music Festival in Miami of the same song.  If I can find a good clip of today's performance on youtube, I will add it.  Check out their myspace page as well as the track called "Takatif" that's in my playlist over there to the right.  I've also added "Indictment" to the playlist for now.

Antibalas is now playing in Fela! A New Musical about the life of Fela Anikulapo Kuti until October 5th off Broadway in New York City. I've heard it's very, very good.