The Prince Concert…My Rapture

Prince at the Forum, Welcome 2 America Tour

Seeing Prince live was my kind of Rapture … the end of the world as I would know it. And it didn’t happen on May 21, but over a week later, at the last show of Prince’s 21-day Los Angeles residency at the legendary Forum. Original home of the Lakers and the Kings, the Forum is more importantly where the Jackson Five sold over 18,000 tickets in 1970, where Elvis performed his second and tenth tours, and where Barbara Streisand, Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees and Kiss performed, in addition to countless additional artists over the years, not to mention a few services for the Faithful Central Bible.

Religious predictions couldn’t account for this kind of Day of Judgment. I was led down memory lane back to 1984 when I first heard “Purple Rain,” saw the movie and sang into my hairbrush all those fabulously high falsetto “ohhhs,” swaying from side to side, tears streaming down my cheeks with reverence and passion. At this show, Prince Rogers Nelson was actually right there in front of me, standing in his white furry snow boots with flashing red heels on top of the purple baby grand piano, stage-right (I think it was stage-right, but there really was no “right” or “left” since the stage was in the shape of the symbol that Prince formerly went by, so you could say “the curly part of the across section of the stage” or maybe just “the piano side of the stage”)… anyway, backlit, there was no one between him and me … he was of course singing to me, and the ground did move and I remembered being 11 years old again and the feeling of… Rapture, kinda like how Blondie sings abut it!

Just the day before, I was lamenting how all my friends had been to see him two or three times already and I was beginning to give up hope. They were telling me they had seen Byoncé, and Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan and Sheela E, all performing with Prince. Even Stevie Wonder came up to jam out on the purple platform for a while but time was running out and ticket prices were quickly climbing. How could I have been so uninformed when I planned my trip to LA? Did I read the wrong blogs? Did I talk to the wrong friends? What was the mishap? Maybe it was because I missed Prince’s interview on the George Lopez show, or maybe it was because I missed his announcement of the Welcome 2 America tour he gave in NY in December.

Peeka Boo!

Fortunately for me, I have a friend (who had already gone once already), and who just couldn’t stay away! He wanted more, so he stood on line for six hours the day of the show, risking sunburn, boredom and scalper threats but finally emerged victorious with three shiny white tickets. In the end, thanks to him, my friends and I walked down the purple carpet all the way to our front row seats and jumped up and boogied down when we heard “Purple Rain,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Raspberry Bourée,” “When Doves Cry,” “1999,” “Cream,” “Controversy,” “Cool,” and also when Maceo Parker graced the stage and performed “Pass the Peas” moving things in a definitively more funky direction. Three hours and five encores later, Prince had made at least seven costume changes and still looked as ready to rock as when he began. All that apocalyptic bang for only $25 a ticket (thank you, Live Nation)! Thank you Prince!

World Music Wednesdays on WBAI: Show #2

After posting last week’s set list I realize what a polyglot show this is and how amazing it really is to have all this world music be at the same time somewhat local.  I know, I know, it’s NY, “the greatest city in the world,” but just looking at music like this really makes it clear.  People are not only from everywhere, they are also influenced by everywhere and everyone.  You can find enthusiasts for popular, traditional and folk genres from Africa, Colombia,  Japan, and even home grown music brews such as jazz, tin pan, Appalachian, and blues, all right here in New York City and it’s buroughs!

Today’s subway clip featured the band Tin Pan with the fearless leader Jesse Selengut dressed in white smacking around a trumpet in Union Square.  They play every few Mondays from 6-9pm at this locale, and they also play at Herald Square (with an “e”) when MUNY allows.  Swing dancers usually find themselves magnetically drawn out of work mode and onto the “dance floor”.  See more photos here and read more about the song Bei Mir Bis Du Schoen here!

Today’s set list:

1. Andy Statmen (Brooklyn) 2. Sheila Chandra (UK & S. India) 3. Tom Ze (Brazil)  4. Lucha Reyes (Peru)  5. Chico Trujillo (Chile)  6. Kalyi Jag (Hungary)  7. Mycale (NY) 8. Chicha Libre (Brooklyn)  9.  Munequitos de Matanzas (Cuba – performing May 5-7 at Symphony Space)  10. Dengue Fever (Cambodia / LA)  11. Chicha Libre (Brooklyn)  12. Ana Tijoux (Chile / France)  13. Beirut (Albuquerque)  14. Antibalas (Brooklyn)  15. Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey (Nigeria)  16. John Carty & Brian Rooney (UK/Ireland) 17. Jorge Ben (Brazil) 18. Le Trio Joubran (Palestine)  19. Tin Pan (subway musicians of the week, Jesse Selengut, band leader – performing at Bowery Poetry Club this Saturday 4/16) (Brooklyn) 20. Cat (Thailand) (Thai Beat a Go Go Vol.1)  21. Las Rubias del Norte (Brooklyn)  23. Kelli Rae Powell (Brooklyn)  24. Gato Loco (performing at Nublu 4/14 at 9:30) (Brooklyn)  25. Ayde Mori (Turkey)  26. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (Pakistan)

Today’s Haiku written from song titles, album titles or band titles from today’s set:

Mr. Orange Paz

And If The Sea Was Whisky

Speaking in Tongues III

Send in your own Haiku from this show or any show (doesn’t have to be in English) and post it here!  Some guidelines to help you write your Haiku: use 5-7-5 syllable pattern, use season words, use two contrasting sensory images, and the last line should tie it all up in a surprise ending!  Go here to read more about Haikus.  Contact me with any questions about the show or World Music in general!

World Music Wednesdays on WBAI: Show #1

I had a great time DJing last week on WBAI for their World Music Wednesdays show.  As promised, I have the set list here for you just in case there was something that I forgot to back announce or in case you were spacing out when I announced the song and musician.  Overall it was a great experience, and the listeners who called in were thoughtful and appreciative with their comments.  I gave away tickets to see Zlatne Uste perform at the Hungarian House.  If you went, tell me how you liked it?  Did they knock your socks off or what!?  The Balkan scene in New York is second to none, I would have liked to have gone, but hopefully I can hear from you and find out all the dirt!

1.  AE (pronounced “Ash”)(Brooklyn)  2. Kotorino (Brooklyn) 3. George Brassens (France)  4. Emily Pinkerton (Pittsburgh) 5. Hawk and a Hacksaw (Albuquerque) 6. Zlatne Uste (NY) 7. Csokolom (Germany) 8. Lucho Bermudez y su Orquesta (Colombia) 9. Onuma Singsiri (Thailand) 10. Dimba Diangola (Luanda, Angola) 11. Quim Manuel o Espiritu Santo (Luanda, Angola)  12. Forro in the Dark (NY)  13. Habib Koite (Mali)  14. Olivier Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe)  15. Jali Muhammed Salieu (featured Subway Musician of the week! Also in the above photo at Union Square with his Kora)(Gambia) 16. The Mandingo Ambassadors (playing every Wednesday at Barbes in Park Slope) 17. Gato Loco (giving away tickets on show#2)(NY)  18. Chico Trujillo (Chile) 19. Afro Sound (Colombia) 20. Anti Social Music (NY) 21. Galeet Dardashti (NY)

The resulting Haiku from song titles for these artists (according to me) goes like this:

Slow Song Wind and Rain

Hero Cops Olympic Gold

Dia de Roda

Send in your own Haiku from this show or any show (doesn’t have to be in English) and post it here!  Here are some guidelines to help you write your Haiku: use 5-7-5 syllable pattern, use season words, use a two-part juxtapositional structure, and use primarily objective sensory imagery.  Go here to read more about haikus.

Golden Festival 2011

Alternate title: How I Developed Tinnitus!

What Cheer? Brigade at Golden Fest 2011

Last night was The Golden Festival, sponsored by the Balkan band Zlatne Uste, which means “Golden Lips”.  It was held this year at the Grand Prospect Hall, an incredible Easter egg of a building with four floors of elegantly decorated and chandelier bedecked rooms complete with dance floors.  A big improvement over last year’s venue at the high school in Washington Heights, people were lined up and down the block to get in, dance, play and see old friends.  Who goes to Golden Fest? Everyone, young and old, fancy and casual, musicians and dancers, fans and volunteers.  The entire event is run by volunteers and for the cost of the ticket you also get middle eastern fare, deserts and midnight snacks.  Here is a photo of the Grand Ballroom where the What Cheer? Brigade is performing, and to see a video collage I shot on my eye-phone you can go here.

I found a well written article from Lucid Culture that explains the music of a few of these bands better than I could.  I woke up this morning with a certain throbbing in my ear drums.  Could it be the onslaught of tinnitus?  Note to self: remember not to dance in front to the tuba.

Violent Sentiments of Triumph

Kotorino at Barbes

I bought Mac’s Russian Red matte lipstick just before the show and Amy and I had red lips and black vintage dresses, though we didn’t look anything like a Robert Palmer video.  I had my violin and Amy had her claves.  The performance space at Barbes is small.  The stage is at once homey and welcoming and we managed to squeeze all nine members of Kotorino onto the stage after careful placement of stands and holding in of bellies.  We started our set with “Sky’s on Fire,” the only banjo tune for a nice segue from Emily Pinkerton‘s vibrant set of banjo and guitar accompanied Americana originals and Chilean influenced folk tunes.  The set continued and we were really feeling it – in a groove – the room was packed and we were getting good feedback from our friends in the audience and even from folks we didn’t know.  They got a kick out of Jeff’s lengthy instrument change in “Williamsburg Suit,” – that one always throws people.  They don’t know exactly what to think, so they shift uncomfortably in their seats, some laugh, some clap and they are unanimously relieved when Jeff finally resolves the VII chord with the frantic guitar strum that finally ends the uneasiness.  The show ended strong with the last tune “Into the Sky” in which Jeff sings about his devotion to Jesus and the rest of us sing angelic “oooohs” in the background which contrasts with the punchy accordion, horn and violin quarter notes and the violent sentiment of triumph at the end of the song.  Kotorino has certainly triumphed!  The band is entering its third year, about to release it’s first full length CD and continuing to entertain local fans with a different element added for fun on every show.