Ronnie Dawson: Greatest Rock and Roller Ever?

Here’s just a little taste from 1995 of the late great Texan rockabilly king Ronnie Dawson, with Lisa Pankratz (on drums) and High Noon. If you like country, rock, punk rock, and just plain party music, you’re probably going to love Ronnie Dawson. He began in show biz in his teens, changing his name briefly to Commonwealth Jones in the early 1960s to avoid confusion with another Ron Dawson. He died too young, in 2003.  No doubt now he owns the name.

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Congressional Record by Dean Drummond, played by Newband

DRUMMOND-obit-articleLarge

I was reading today’s paper, looking at the obituary of George Jones, when I glanced across at a photo of someone who looked familiar. I realized it was Dean Drummond, an American composer, musician, teacher and acolyte of Harry Partch, whose musical instruments and scores Drummond assembled as founder of the Harry Partch Institute at Montclair State University in New Jersey. I was wondering what an arts piece was doing in the front section of the New York Times, when I realized, shocked, that I was looking at an illustration for Drummond’s obituary. Continue reading

#FreePussyRiot: “Punk Prayer” Translated

To mark the impending ban of Pussy Riot from the Russian Internet for being “extremists” dangerous to the state, I’m reproducing  Carol Rumen’s translation of the Riot’s “Punk Prayer,” the song that gained them a trial for “hooliganism” and world attention in the first place.

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish him, we pray thee!

Congregations genuflect,

Black robes brag gilt epaulettes,

Freedom’s phantom’s gone to heaven,

Gay Pride’s chained and in detention.

KGB’s chief saint descends

To guide the punks to prison vans.

Don’t upset His Saintship, ladies,

Stick to making love and babies.

Crap, crap, this godliness crap!

Crap, crap, this holiness crap!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Be a feminist, we pray thee,

Be a feminist, we pray thee.

Bless our festering bastard-boss.

Let black cars parade the Cross.

The Missionary’s in class for cash.

Meet him there, and pay his stash.

Patriarch Gundy believes in Putin.

Better believe in God, you vermin!

Fight for rights, forget the rite –

Join our protest, Holy Virgin.

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, we pray thee, banish him!

“Putin Lights up the Fire [of Revolution]!”

Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist collective and punk rock band, three of whose members (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevic) were recently sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism,” have just released an answer to that sentence in the form of a blood-racing and rather catchy rocker of an anthem . Don DeLuca, music critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted an informative little piece about the group and the song.

These women are serious punks!

Merrill Garbus Puts Africa In Your Earbuds

OkayAfrica invited Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs (one of my current favorites) to make a mix of her own favorite African pop tunes.  It lasts about 30 minutes, delves into music going back to the 1970s and 1980s as well as more recent numbers, and ranges from the Horn of Africa down to the Cape and into the rainforests. You can read about her choices here.

TRACKLIST
Lema GebreHiwot “Wondemiye (Wedding Song)” ft. Selamawit Gebre Selassie, and Zenebech Tesfaye (Ethiopia)
Dur Dur “Goromphmca: (Somalia)
Hukwe Zawose “Safiri na Muziki” (Tanzania)
Mlimani Park Orchestra ”Tangazia Mataifa Yote” (Tanzania)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka “Moliva” (South Africa)
9Ice ”Gongo Aso” (Nigeria)
Koffi Olomide ”Loi” (DR Congo)

tUnE-yArDs at Terminal 5

Last Friday night, with special guests Delicate Steve and (all the way from London) Micachu and the Shapes.

It was, as expected, an extraordinary evening of far-out African-inflected and futuristic pop/dance/rock music. Great musicianship all around, as this clip of the tUnE-yArDs’ “Bizness” (one of a long series of highlights) only hints at. (I was not the photographer. I was just somewhere between the camera and the Merrill Garbus.) Continue reading

The Profound Beauty of Micachu and The Shapes

Here’s a new band on me: Micachu and The Shapes (with multi-instrumentalist Mica Levi, keyboardist Raisa Khan and drummer Marc Pell)  have been playing and recording highly idiosyncratic pop music since 2008. I’m glad to say I’ll be seeing them with another eccentric pop band I’ve written about, tUnE-yArDs featuring Merrill Garbus, as well as Delicate Steve, about whom I know almost nothing. Of course tUnE-yArDs is my main reason for going to the show (June 1st at Terminal 5 in New York City), but researching the other bands on YouTube, I discovered this is promising to be an extraordinary evening. Continue reading