Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tales of Stone Soul'd Out Picnics & Iraqi Pajama Parties


uh, I wonder why do I frickin even read it?

The news of the week that has trickled in is bloody as usual , it is at best interesting, if not bleak or hey, how about just outright horribly sad.

I can accept things like pandemics & earthquakes and's those man made messes & hypocritical heresies that get my lil' dander up...

I saw Iraq's gaunt former foreign minister Tariq Azis being forced by his captors to testify in pajamas on behalf of shackled pals, now sitting in baby cribs, courtesy the Green Zone's infamous kangaroo court where the media can observe only behind plexiglass.

Meanwhile the news reports were arife with the ugly stale My Lai-esque tales of Marines slaughtering civilains ( a report no doubt known for months by the brass & covered up until recently). No official action was taken in fact until Time magazine sniffed around about the "mysterious" civilian deaths that were found to include numerous women and even children as young as two, executed in their pajamas.

Finally after 6 months of "investigation", and a $38,000 payout to families of some of the dead, ( The U.S reportedly pays $2,500 per body killed by our "friendly fire") there has been a call for 19 US soldiers to face court martial proceedings. Never mind the thousands of other civilian deaths since this thing started a few years back... Ya'll should remember that Freedom isn't Free ... or pretty.

Meanwhile, in the Iraq here and now, at least 30 some odd people were blown to bits in Bagdhad this past weekend, a weekend whose meaningless statistical implications included pushing the journalist death toll milestone alone to over 70 since we brought our franchised brand of Freedom and Democracy to Iraq.

Our earlier Democracy in action project is still ongoing in Afghanistan of course, more troops sent in & Kabul erupted in riots as one of our astutely piloted military convoys ran awry, crushing civilian vehicles and pissed off the locals bigtime. They chanted death to America, and burned jus about any symbols of western influence they could find visible in Kabul, including the offices of C.A.R.E.

If that wasn't telling enough, perhaps the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at The Presidio in SF where they commemorated the lost lives of the first 60 US service women to die in combat.

Meanwhile the freedoms that these folks are supposedly fighting bravely for and died for abroad are eroded ever further...

The Supreme Court, in all it's wisdom ruled 5-4 with Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy part of a majority that said whistle blowers should have less protection from employer retaliation.

Alberto Gonzales, our crybaby Attorney General apparently threatened to quit his job if the F.B.I was asked by Bush to returned any of the items seized in the search of a Louisiana lawmakers offices. The search prompted one of the first bi-partisan statements of both Republican & Democratic Congressional leaders in recent memory.

Ironically it appears only resisting investigations of corruption can bring our leaders together as apparently the right to hide bribes & corruption is one of the few things they mutually hold sacred.

Notice how none of these reps of the people did a joint statement to complain about the illegal intrusive gathering of your personal phone records by federal agencies.

In Europe though, it seems the U.S governments instatiable appetite for personal information has reached a limit...The European Court of Justice yesterday threw out a deal with US homeland security officials that blackmails airline into getting & then turning over 30+ pieces of passenger data like passenger credit card details to phone numbers before any planes are allowed to land in the U.S.

Airlines now have until Sept 30 to choose between defying the US authorities - and being fined or having flights turned back - or leaving themselves open to legal action for privacy violations in Europe.

Disputes over passenger records date back to the aftermath of the 9/11 suicide hijackings in the US, when the American authorities demanded more stringent security standards.

Speaking of frequent flyers, just back from Hawaii last week were Flogging Molly, and they came through San Francisco for a nice sort of liquored up event sponsored by Jack Daniels.

Singer Dave King made a quick joke thanking Guinness for sponsoring the shindig, as they normally pick up the sponsorship tab for the band's tour appearances... then we obligatorily saluted Jack Daniels, who were no doubt throwing some bucks around for the night's entertainment schwag, and free booze in the VIP balcony area I tended to linger in...

I was not a mere freeloader compromising my so called bloguristic integrity, as I carried plenty o' big bags of ice up those flights of stairs to the ballroom to earn my keep for he eve...

It was likely about my my sixth or so time catching those Flogging rapscallions in action, and I'm happy to report they've lost none of their charm or chops, and entertained a mixed bag of revelers , old fans & newbies for well over 90 minutes in the grand old Avalon off Van Ness in SF...

Flogging Molly - What's Left Of The Flag

Flogging Molly - Every Dog Has His Day

Apparently they've got a new DVD coming out, and according to their always friendly bassist it was a bit late for me to get my personal footage in ... hey maybe next time.

West Coast premiere will be at the band's pld stomping grounds of Molly Malones in July.

The film is called "Whiskey on a Sunday" and the Flogging Molly movie plays Los Angeles

June 27th
July 11th
July 18th
July 25th

Film at 8:00 with the Dirges playing after

only $6

Molly Malones
575 S. Fairfax Ave
LA, CA 90036

On the East Coast it premieres way sooner, we're talking on June 2 & 3rd at Pioneer Theatre at 155 East Third Street, New York, NY, 10009

The Pioneer is cool little theater in lower Manhattan, and if yer a drunken lout, then don't go without...

Speaking of Pioneers, I was at The Pioneer Amphiteater in the East Bay this past Monday and was able to check out an amazing outdoor oldies revue concert with Bobby Womack, The Dramatics, The Whispers, The Dells, and The O'Jays.

I was urged into action to attend The Stone Soul Picnic on a fine Memorial Day afternoon by my pal, whose an old school bay Area funk & soul aficionado. (He also used to sell Owsley acid for .25 cents a hit out a fish bowl on Haight Street, back when it was legal circa 1966.. but that's another story altogether...)

Knowing that the show was already sold out in advance, we still headed up to The Pioneer Amphiteater on the spur of the moment looking to get in. Sure enough as we began the drive up the hill into the parking lot of the University where the event was being held , the first batch of scalpers were positioned at the bottom of the hill entrance.

A big burly gold toothed thug lord with a posse of young'uns and a thick ghetto wad of ones wrapped by twenties offered us tickets at $20 over the face value. When we looked at the three tickets with smudged laser printing & two suspiciously bearing the same serial number we questioned the veracity of the deal.

This concierge to the underworld assured us that we would have no problems at the gate, and besides he said indignantly”Gimme Back Those Tickets Fool, I Don't Neeed Yo Money Maaaaang !”

The next guy in action up the hill was only asking $60 ( $5 above face) but had the same shady looking smudged tickets, with the same mysterious serial numbers on 'em...

We went further up the lot and found some good parking in the shade under a tree, and no sooner had we disembarked from the vehicle did another entrepreneurial type approach, this time with actual official "ticketmaster" printed tix, and he was selling them for $15 under face.

Patience is a virtue friends...

And with that our scalper even offered to escort us up to the gates, and we entered as Bobby Womack was in mid set. The legendary Cleveland born performer has had numerous carreer highs, but never truly crossed over to be widely known outside the black community.

Amongst Bobby's many career footnotes throughout the years since he started with the Valentinos in the would include playing guitar in Sam Cooke's band and later marrying his widow Barbara. Bobby was a regular at Chips Moman's Memphis studio "American" and even played guitar on Sly Stone's "There's A riot Going On" in 1971...

During his bluesy set he lifted his shirt at one point to show off a little bit of post middle aged paunch, and seemed to be the only singer on the bill who would not be wearing a suit. Instead Womack wore cool calm & casual khaki cargo pants and a house painters cap, whch made it look as if he was maybe taking a break from some drywall repair errands around the house...

a hit from a 1972 blaxploitation flick soundtrack

Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street

Bobby Womack - recent One Hour Live Concert in LA via

The rest of the performers of the day would not be so casual as Bobby, and showed up dressed for a formal affair in full suits, no matter if they were cooking in the hot sun. The Dramatics were up next...

They played up their Detroit roots, used a hyper hype man, and a full horn section and took the stage with aplomb, and went through their repertoire of 70's era hits including both "Me & Mrs Jones" and "In The Rain" ( mp3s below).

The Dramatics - In The Rain

Here's one that Billy Paul also recorded and had a mid 70's hit with...

Dramatics - Me And Mrs Jones

Next up were the Dells, a group that has been around so long, they've been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, and it was just like a pitstop. Their falsetto singer, looked like a Grampa but could still hit & hold the notes that sounded like a lil' baby crying off in the distance.

I decided to try some that fried Catfish that was being offered by at least three different vendors in tents up the hill...

The Dells - There Is
found this mp3 courtesy of UK northern soul specialist the Soul Girl)

The WhispersThe Whispers , Bay Area faves since they formed in the sixties and on through their heyday in the 70's & 80's, have kept it up relentlessly through the nineties and even have a new millenial era Cd out called "For Your Eyes Only". The new disc is peppered with slick romantic quite storm type tracks, with soulful harmonizing vocal arrangements. Those slow & low type of tracks that aim to please those middle aged mamas & shady ladies out of their panties...

Carrying on in the R&B traditions laid out by the late Barry White, Phyllis Hyman etc , ya know that R.Kelly ain't got nuthin on these old school balladeers...

One of the first ballads that got their hometown crowd excited was "(Olivia), Lost & Turned Out", a mid 70's paen depicting the saga of a pimp & his main lady...

Plus, for added entertainment pleasure the two lead singers are also identical twins ho were wearing orange, and when they got the coordinated dance moves going on , they were looking like funky ooompaloompas... at least to me as I was puffin' away from a grassy knoll...

We left as the sun was setting & the O Jay's ( inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as of 2005) were rocking the packed outdoor amphiteater to hits like "Use Ta Be My Girl" and "Love Train" ...

The band has existed since 1958, and put out it's first LP in 1965, recording for the Imperial, Minit, Bell and Neptune labels before Eddie Levert & crew hit their peak with Philadelphia International in the early 1970's. Their first big hit being the McFadden & Whitehead composed "Backstabbers" circa 1972.. Other crossover hits from that era included "For the Love of Money", "Let Me Make Love to You", "Give the People What They Want", and "I Love Music".

They last released material in 2004 via Sanctuary Urban, a deal guided by Beyonce's daddy Matthew Knowles and featuring producers Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis. Sanctuary, the parent company is the same UK based label that has been helping Morrissey stay in the marketplace.

Eddie Levert's voice is pretty choppy these days, but , hey what can ya expect, he's been on the road shoutin' longer than I've been alive...
O'Jays at Stone Soul Picnic

Overall The Stone Soul Picnic just outside of Oakland was refreshing, inspiring and a good time for all. The crowd was skewed to older folks, and I saw very few if an kids in the crowd. It was super mellow for a large crowd, and the sky's were sunny, with the onstage antics and audience shout outs lending the whole affair a church revival meeting feel.

Hey, aside from the music and overall atmosphere, it was even impressive to see an organized effort with actual printed bootleg tickets, including an attempt to duplicate the metallic ink stamp of Ticketmaster circulating at an event that was low proile enough that few people I knew had even heard about it. In fact I was probably one of less than a dozen white folks amongst 5,000 or so in attendance that weren't actually working sponsor booths, concessions or security at the event...

from their latest release...

Whispers - For Your Eyes Only Medley

Here's some crowd pleasers from awhile back

Whispers - Lady

Whispers - And The Beat Goes On

Headlining the event was the O'Jays...

Here's a unifying and uplifting tune that was composed by former Cameo/Parkway artist Bunny Sigler , but when left in the capable hands of Gamble & Huff, the tune was produced into an international chart topper for The O' Jays back when they were on the invincible Philadelphia International Records...

O' Jays - Love Train

Here's another one from the Gamble & Huff era that was one of Richard Pryor's faves, after it's first run in the mid seventies, it was used on the soundtrack to his 1983 bio pic "Jo Jo Dancer , Your Life Is Calling"

O' Jays - For The Love Of Money ( 7 Min LP Mix)

and here's one more for the hopeful & soulful brothers & sisters out there...

O' Jays - When The World's At Peace

gotta go ,

looks like I'm late for work y'all...

hard day of moving name servers & MX files and dealing with poser web geeks... yay !

1 comment:

Soulgirl said...

:D Thank you for the lovely comment about being a specialist, but I'm not :D I'm just a mahoosive fan of Northern Soul and want to convert the whole world!