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05/04/2010

 

Hope For Haiti When?

The January 22 telethon, Hope for Haiti Now included performances that ranged from brilliant (Mary J. Blige) to inexplicable (Jay-Z, Rihanna, the Edge and Bono, assembled as the musical equivalent of a shoe polish sundae). The great Haitian singer Emeline Michel did a solemn and gorgeous Many Rivers to Cross, while Wyclef Jean jumped from a straight By the Rivers of Babylon into a promise that he'd show us how the Haitians do it, and did.

The broadcast presented some wrinkles in the telethon format. The songs got no introduction and, at the end, the stars got no applause because there wasn't a live audience. This lessened the degree to which celebrity overwhelmed the issues. As a result, the event had a dignity Jerry Lewis never dreamed of.

Despite clueless episodes with celebrities at the phone bank, the pitches maintained a tone befitting an event trying to solve a problem that had already killed more than 100,000 people. What erased that dignity were the numerous segments with CNN's Anderson Cooper, who got famous in post-Katrina New Orleans by making it clear he despised the neglect that had turned disaster into tragedy. Here, a tamer Cooper played a ludicrous role, gathering up Haitians to be his foils. Almost none of them spoke English or retained a roof and bed of their own, so what we got amounted to product placement for the Red Cross and other charities. The most loathsome was his interview with a 7-year-old girl, who clearly found the experience unsettling. Cooper blithely asked questions, and then put answers in her mouth. If he'd rubbed her nappy hair for luck, the racist exploitation couldn't have been clearer. (He didn't actually do that, it just felt like it.)

Newsman Cooper failed to utter a single syllable about what had really happened, or for that matter, what was really happening. What really happened wasn't just a 7.2 earthquake in the most populated part of Haiti. It was a huge earthquake in the human center of the poorest and most oppressed nation in the Western hemisphere.

Why did more than 100,000 die? Not just because of natural forces. By the second day, a wire report described a man who'd been taken from the rubble but hadn't had enough energy to climb a hill to an aid station which had food and water. A passerby gave him one of her two bottles of water but he succumbed within a few hours anyway. The wire story said he died from lack of food, which is a chickenshit way of saying he starved to death. What does it mean to live in a country so poor that less than two days after your last meal, your health deteriorates so much that you die? What was this man'snutrition like before the earth quaked? Was this abject poverty the result of natural forces?

Hope for Haiti Now could only have succeeded fully if it had used some of its time to help us understand the history behind the human tragedy. In George Clooney'sHaiti and Beyond, http://www.newpol.org/node/205 Jesse Lemisch says the telethon left the audience to think that a terrible natural disaster had befallen Haiti, but ignorant of: the country's origins in a successful slave rebellion (with US support for French efforts to crush it); more than a century of French draining the economy for the money value of the slaves they had lost; nineteen years of occupation by the US Marines; US complicity with the Duvaliers; after earlier support, exiling of Jean-Bertrand Aristide on a US plane; the banning of the left party, Lavalas; the crimes committed against the Haitian economy by neoliberal economics via such institutions as the IMF (which, amidst the earthquake announced a wage freeze for public employees in Haiti.). This all added up to an unnatural disaster: enormous poverty, flight from the countryside to the city as the result of the destruction of Haitian agriculture by US dumping (rice) and the promise of low-wage manufacturing jobs (which didn't materialize); once crowded in the city, they put anything over their heads that they could, and of course these poor structures easily collapsed. Cutting down trees to make charcoal was one of the few ways of getting money, and that produced deforestation which produced floods. It denies history to see the US as free of responsibility for these things.

Into the rubble the Obama Administration sent soldiers, not shovels. (China, fourteen hours away, managed to get planeloads of relief equipment and supplies into the country before America.) The U.S. Army took command of the airport and what little else was left of the country'sinfrastructure. There it turned away planes loaded with relief supplies from Medicins Sans Frontiers, and a plane from CARICOM, the alliance of West Indian nations, many of whose passengers were ministers and even heads of state. But room enough was found for a John Travolta-piloted Scientology plane. What the United States wants to ensure is not the survival of Haitians but the control of Haiti.

The American media provides air cover for this operation with constant propaganda: The Haitians are rioting violently, the Haitians deserve what they get for laziness or, in the words of Pat Robertson, in his usual role of evil incarnate, making a pact with the devil in order to wrest control from France!

Undoubtedly, George Clooney and the other celebrities who put together the telethon are themselves mostly ignorant of why Haiti is so poor and of their own country'srole in actively maintaining that poverty. But sooner or later, Americans famous and obscure, rich and poor have to look at their TV screens and see what'sreally there: Soldiers, not shovels. Rifles, not relief. Stars and starvation.

It'seasy to look at Haiti and see it as completely different than the United States, easy because there is still much truth to that. But there'sa reason the disaster in Haiti and its aftermath look so much like the disaster in New Orleans. The U.S. government'spriority of control in Haiti is reflected in America by the way the huge costs of Homeland Security and the funding of military operations in 130 countries are destroying the social fabric of American life. Haiti or New Orleans, this is the same disaster. Whether by luck or design, when the earth moves or the sky falls it benefits the same people and corporations, politicians and executives. If the Port Au Prince disaster wasn't preventable, the conditions that made it so awful and will keep it awful for so long are entirely preventable.

You can't prevent it with donations to the Red Cross or even to Wyclef'sYele charity. You prevent it with shovels, not soldiers, not just in Haiti but everywhere.


PUNK 77 IN NORTHERN IRELAND

[This is a remixed version of a piece written for the music and spoken word event Talking Musical Revolutions, hosted by Gavin Martin December 8th in London.]

Gavin Martin writes: Summer 1977. Schools Out. The sun splits the sky. And the sword of destiny lands at my feet. Its there--glistening in the sun--when I awake on the top of the bathing boxes one morning at Ballyholme beach. I and some friends have slept out in the warm night. Now we can greet the happy arrival of the Royal Yacht Britannia in the bay, a pleasant little seaside spot in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland just down the loch from Belfast. Because, fresh from her Jubilee celebrations the Queen, Prince Phil and other emissaries of her fascist regime have decided this is the place to start their victory lap by boat.

We rise to the occasion as the crowds gather with their binoculars. In graphic detail we outline crude variations of imagined congress and misbehavior on the deck of the royal yacht. We are merely toying with the sword that came crashing down just before the stinking school gates closed for end of term and The Sex Pistols alternative anthem No Future God Save The Queen b/w Did You Know Wrong smashed into the charts. An affront to all the pinched Protestant loyalist community round these parts held dear the record insured I received a quick beating--and a ban on the song being played ever again--when, in my evangelical idiocy, I brought it to accompany a one man pogo exhibition at the local police run, blue lamp disco. So the sword got knocked out of my hands.

So what? When my Aunt, my lovely but brainwashed Aunt, had come to stay with us she was shocked to see what was now decorating my bedroom wall. Aunt Emily lived in a poor (outdoor toilets) but hardline area of Belfast (Coolbeg Street. Is it still there?), murals of King Billy and the UVF on the gable walls, painted kerbstones, flags hung all year round. And there she was in tears at breakfast time. "I can't believe what you've done to our Queen," she said. She was referring to the Jamie Reid Sex Pistols safety pin poster of the Queen that had pride of place above my divan (there were no pictures of neighborhood Goddess Carol Browne that size, y'see). I didn't like to see Aunty cry. But still I felt vindicated--this sword could cut deep.

A few weeks later my dad was bent double with laughter in the kitchen. I had announced--with due reverence and solemnity--that very night The Sex Pistols debut Top Of The Pops performance was going to take place. It was essential that the TV was reserved for me at the allotted hour. This is momentous I tell him, the most important band in the world at the minute, possibly in the entire history of rock, performing 'Pretty Vacant', the third single in their unholy opening trinity of excellence. "Johnny Rotten," I confidently announce, "is a brilliant lyricist!" "Johnny Rotten??/Johnny Rotten?," my dad is on the verge of a breakdown so helplessly has the laughter now over taken him. "Johnny Rotten," he says, barely able to get the words out for chuckling, " Johnny Rotten's bloody stinking." Mmmm I couldn't see it at the time but my dad got it--the comedy aspect of the Pistols much more clearly than I did at the time. So maybe it was a rubber sword. With a bendy blade. What the fuck? I picked it up anyway.

Punk rock... I did not want to be called a punk and I loved music that was too powerful to be boxed in by any category. I knew punks were persons that got fucked up the ass in American prisons. Punk was not what I wanted to be called, at all. Punk, as I understood it, as I had read , was ANTI tribal, it was about self expression. I was into a lot of music, a lot of it contained on my 12 portable push button cassette recorder. Recorded off the radio, ambient household sounds in the background or off the record player. There was The Buzzcocks, Pere Ubu, Chuck Berry, and Junior Walker, there was James Brown and Steely Dan and Eddie and The Hot Rods so I did not want to be simply a punk. But it was like this, if pushed I would rise to the occasion. I would align myself with the creed that others designated for me. The sword was there after all. Why not pick it up?

"MmmmmmMartin Sir, Mmmmartin wants to tell us about ppppunk rock sir. September 77, School is back in session. And Timothy Richards, the impossibly tall, blue eyed, blonde haired, posh Malone Road voiced, rugby playing fascist fuck is addressing Mackie, the googly eyed, prematurely balding, rugby playing, history teacher in my class at Bangor Grammar School. Richards goes through the entire time I spend at this same sex shithole with the words National Front emblazoned on his rucksack. Years later the school will be found to have been sheltering, for upwards of 25 years a, cherish the title, Vice Principal whose pedophiliac behavior includes spreading jam and sometimes talcum powder on young boys' behinds. You could check the trial records but I don't think the offender, Doctor Lindsay Brown, fucked them up the ass. They weren't punks.

When I leave this place--as soon as I can--Richards will be made what they call Head Boy. In truth I have no wish to tell him--or the gormless grinning Mackie, or anyone else--about punk rock. I want to be down the town seeing if Carole Brown and her friends are at the chippy. I want to be far away from this hell hole and I will be as soon as I can but for now I hold my nerve. I accept Richards challenge and tell them about the music and the words and why its important to me and the world ...and they all think its so funny. And, of course, when I single out the reference to the death of Blair Peach , a teacher killed on an anti fascist march referenced, clearly, in The Jam's In The City, as being a warning of a future where police are a private security force working at the behest of municipal governments and corporations, I get laughed and shouted down and I think.... What the fuck IS the point?

Round about now the sword turns into a pen. A graffiti writing pen that scrawls band names on school desks and, rather than being caught and being forced to run the gauntlet of the Grammar's vicious punishment system, I am - Saved! I meet an elder, similarly besotted with music, also graffitiing desks it'show we meet, in fact--and, following the lead of scribe tribe pioneers across the water in London, we give each other the guts and the get up and go to put together the first edition of a magazine we call Alternative Ulster. Alternative Ulster, its first edition, numbered number 7 and printed by the Buzzcocks fan club photocopier in Manchester, is no relation to the magazine currently bearing that name. It is no relation either to the song by Stiff Little Fingers. Jake Burns band, the most celebrated outfit to come out of the Belfast punk scene which is about to explode in the winter of 77, name the song after the magazine. They play it onstage one night at the Trident in Bangor and the idea is that we might give the song away as a flexi disc on the cover of the mag. Stiff Little Fingers will pay the costs but I don't like the song and I am deeply suspicious about the band's relationship, recently formed, with co-lyricist and Daily Express Belfast correspondent Gordon Ogilvie.

In any case by the time SLF have played that song the Clash have already visited Belfast. It is a visit that serves to give the naturally chippy Ulster mentality an added grudge to bear, in its punk incarnation. Joe, Mick and company leave with some very nice posed by the barricades pics but they play not one note. Perhaps it had to be that way. The excitement, the setting and the history was just too much. The Clash in the Ulster Hall, a seat of Ulster demagoguery that had oft times hosted the fearsome bull headed bigotry of Reverend Ian Paisley, to be laid to waste by the shock troops of the new? I was BEYOND myself at the thought of it all. Already I had seen the full blooded, community unifying glory of sainted blues rock guitar warrior poet Rory Gallagher light the ecstasy infusing touch paper in that very hall. And just up the road, in The Whitla Hall, in the same very week their stupendous live album Stupidity hit the top spot, Doctor Feelgood had presented the greatest machine gunner the city had ever seen let loose on a stage, the speed filled fury of pudding bowl cropped Wilko Johnson.

In a country still music starved after the sectarian assassination of the Miami Showband, the Clash's appearance was set to complete an emanicipatory triptych. But not in the way we had imagined. The scheduled show on October 20th 1977 never took place. But the riot that took place when the news filtered through to the fans (oh alright then punks), drawn from all over the north and south of Ireland, of the cancellation was pivotal. This was no ordinary Ulster riot based on political allegiance or religious affiliation. This was a riot that united people looking for a good time against the forces of repression. This was how punk began to open Belfast--the city where I had been born--back up to me. Closed off by security gates, scarred,shocked, pockmarked by shooting, bomb blasts and the pervasive thrall of terror Belfast was shaken alive, crow barred open--by punk.

But now, as the spontaneous SS RUC chant became the rallying call of the crowd reigned against the police and, soon, the army, outside the Ulster Hall, the need to meet our vanquished liberators became paramount. Word got about and soon we raced across town to The Europa, at that point the most bombed hotel in the planet. Within minutes we somehow found ourselves in the Clash's hotel room. Topper let us in. Strummer lay on his back on the floor, necking honey straight from a jar. Just back from initial work on Give Em Enough Rope in Jamaica the band's hotel room is permeated with the enticing but unfamiliar fug of JA weed. Already some fans are in the bathroom looking a little peaky.

Mick Jones is on the bed holding court. I realize that this is my chance, finally a chance to fulfill my destiny and speak with one of the musicians who have helped bring me to this point. The only thing is I don't have a pen or a tape recorder and I don't have any questions. Just a magazine that'snot yet printed and a head full of confused dreams. I tell Mick about the magazine and soon realize that this is something he probably hears everyday. Oh dear. I need to think on my feet. I know, I've read what they've been up to! Recording a new album. So I ask what seems to me to be the obvious question bound to elicit some chat. Whata about the album? Mick continues taking the hit on the joint, inhales, shrugs his shoulders and says : What about it? Shit, I think, this ain't going so well. I need time to think about this interviewing business.

The joint gets passed around. I fall into a deep sleep and I awake 30 years later. All my dreams--and a few of my nightmares--have long since come true. I am sat in a West London lock up telling Mick Jones about the very first time I attempted to conduct an interview with him, over a joint in the Europa hotel, in Belfast, a lifetime ago. He listens to my story , he smiles, he takes a hit on the joint and he says, Well not much has changed there then has it?... No, Mick, just everything. And nothing. [Gavin Martin is a music critic for the Daily Mirror and director of communications for Family Of Rock


THE LONG WAY ISN'T THE WRONG WAY

In high school I embraced the punk insurgency against the dominance of a rock stardom that had no connection to my life. That insurgency helped to produce alt-country, and I picked up on that music'sallusions to Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, George Jones and Buck Owens. When I was in college in Stillwater, Oklahoma, I enjoyed shows by Dwight Yoakum and by Steve Earle (opened by our local boy, Garth Brooks, when he fronted an outfit called the Santa Fe Band). Later, I recognized a kinship with bands like the Gear Daddies, the Starkweathers, and the Bottle Rockets.

A key reason I liked this latter group of bands was their explicit politics, which helped me to rethink my cultural prejudices. If you grew up in Oklahoma in the 1980s, it was a rite of passage to distance yourself from redneck music, the jukebox playlist in bars where you could get stomped just for looking different. On the other hand, in the great class divide of my hometown of Bartlesville, country was the most traditional local music, and it was the music of the have-nots, at least among whites. And the punk strain of country kept pointing me toward its influences in those Oklahoma hills and in the Appalachian and Ozark mountains.

Much of the music made by alt-country bands took on issues in their own back yards. With songs like One Voice, Austin, Minnesota'sthe Gear Daddies contemplated the oppressive mindset that kept working class kids in their place, while a song like Boys Will Be Boys captured the growing cynicism of a young mother fucked again. Like all of these bands, the Gear Daddies would play for various activist groups, such as Up & Out of Poverty Minnesota, one of the forerunners of today'sPoor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign.

The Starkweathers sang about an image of themselves in White Trash Boy and the plight of a condemned man on Danny Taylor, which included a closing refrain from Sly Stone's Everyday People. With Kerosene, the Bottle Rockets sang about a family burned to death because welfare wasn't covering the utilities and they made an even more overt political statement with Welfare Music, an early response to the kind of hate mongering punditry that'staken over the media today. Both bands sang songs guaranteed to tempt bar fights the Bottle Rockets calling out the Confederate flag'sracism in Wave That Flag and the Starkweathers making a party stomp out of a call to Burn the Flag.

But this music often seemed in danger of getting lost in nostalgia. For me, the same references which led back to honky-tonk and the blues also pointed me toward modern day connections.

That tension from opposing directions in time is an ongoing story, not necessarily a closing door. Indeed, this past summer ended with the Bottle Rockets coming out with Lean Forward, a record I needed yesterday and will lean on today and tomorrow.

In a way, the album'sstory starts in the middle, with a song about The Kid Next Door who went off to war and never came back. Avoiding a traditional melodic structure, singer Brian Henneman'svocal just calls out in mournful repetition, decorated only by simple, spiraling guitar riffs. There'sno sarcasm, only an effort to reach out and make sense of his relationship with the lost soldier.

The Kid Next Door is a reach that helped me embrace the fine, tough album that surrounds it. And a constant sense of reach is one of Lean Forward's 'sstrengths. Whether it'sthe Bo Diddley beat of Nothin But A Driver, the honky tonk blues of Shame on Me, or the Southern soul of Slip Away, this music refuses to be confined by genre. On Hard Times, the legacy of Katrina in the wake of the recession is personalized, energized by funky riffs and percussion that sound like they re popping up from deep in bayou country.

The soulful uplift of bassist Keith Voegele's Done It All counters the depression in the lyric, and Voegele'ssweet love song Open Your Eyes calls to mind the stately elegance of The Band. Henneman'strademark humor shines forth on the rollicking song about moving slow, Get On the Bus, while the gorgeous country ballad Solitaire captures the lonely desperate places where relationships become traps.

I fell for this record when my wife Lauren and I found ourselves playing it over and over on a weekend trip to Arkansas, about the same time I got into the self-titled new album by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. So when we got back to Kansas City and she told me the two bands were playing together in Carbondale, Illinois, I was ready to go.

The show was at some sort of facility called Sports Blast, far enough off the main road that no one we talked to had ever heard of it. The top floor, something like a chic-ly lit attic, was rented out for this show, and a couple hundred people showed up.

The Bottle Rockets opened with a hard-hitting 21-song set. After crowd favorites like 24 Hours A Day, Every Kind of Everything, and Kit Kat Clock, they played a gorgeous Happy Anniversary from Zoysia, the album Stephen King helped put on the map. Then the band launched into seven songs in a row off the new album firing away with all the funkiest and hardest rocking stuff before they played perhaps their greatest, simplest song, Kerosene, a song that asks what kind of world kills a family when they try to improvise to afford a little heat.

But the most emotional moment came with the closer, Welfare Music. It'sa portrait of a young mother and child playing together, celebrating hope in the midst of hopelessness. Lead guitarist Johnny Horton and Henneman traded licks in a beautiful interplay that quieted to the point where Henneman was picking out his lead near the level of a whisper, so that the whole bar had to grow silent for a moment, like an exquisite little eternity, before he sang the next, crucial lines

Baby fall down,

Baby get up,

Baby need a drink from a loving cup

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit had to follow all that, taking the stage as the deliberately placed Rock and Roll by Lou Reed faded out on the house sound system, a reflection of these artists insistence on broadening the sense of tradition. Opening with the song Grown and its line, are you still dancing to Purple Rain? only drove that point home further.

Isbell followed that with a trilogy of songs dealing with the legacy of war-- Decoration Day, Soldiers Get Strange, and Dress Blues. Dress Blues is the gorgeously painful cousin of the Bottle Rockets The Kid Next Door, daring to express the singer'sfrustration and ambivalence toward his friend who'snever coming back his friend who showed us what we had to lose.

Though he only played the one song from the new album, sticking to crowd favorites from Sirens of the Ditch and from his years in the Drive By Truckers, Isbell'sset had the sinewy, layered quality the new album captures so well. There were surprising turns like Browan Lollar'slead vocal on Psycho Killer, the haunted blues of Hurricanes and Hand Grenades, and an instrumental nod to New Orleans with the Meters Cissy Strut. A three song encore finished off with American Girl, as some guy shouted in our ears how this song had saved his life in Korea.

We ve seen both bands again, and I ll be damned if both sets weren't just as good or better. The Bottle Rockets played American Girl, and Jason Isbell broke down and started playing more of his new album. And so the conversation goes, taking it all in and making it new again, tellingly in a form of music I had feared was playing itself out. D.A. [A version of this article first appeared in Living in Stereo] www.livinginstereo.com.


TICKET BASTARD NATION

Although it pales in comparison to the neglect of human lives from sweet home Honolulu to Haiti, the Obama Administration'sapproval of the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster typifies the swindle voters have been treated to since the election.

Although for some bizarre reason the National Consumers League believes that the companies had to meet tough conditions in order to win Department of Justice approval of the merger, the lax enforcement of antitrust laws makes those conditions meaningless. Consumers have nothing to look forward to except ever rising ticket prices and convenience fees, since one company now controls the vast majority of all concert ticketing, the ownership of most summer outdoor venues and many indoor ones, and has exclusive promotion deals with a significant number of the rest. Now called Live Nation Entertainment, this newly minted entity also has control of the most prominent ticket scalping ( secondary market ) services. This growing ripoff scheme is noted for snafus such as the one during Springsteen's Working on a Dream tour, which showed the ability to divert tickets to the in-house scalping service without ever being offered to the public at face value.

The merger may be even worse for artists than for consumers. As Pearl Jam's effort to work around Ticketmaster fifteen years ago proved, the ticket monopoly leaves few meaningful options to those who don't want to work with it. Ticketmaster chief executive Irving Azoff has also expanded the company into artist management, meaning that, in many cases, the artist will find their manager negotiating with another arm of the same company for hall rentals, available dates, ticket prices and even the performers cut of merchandising and other non-ticket revenues.

Artists not managed by Live Nation Entertainment may see the best concert venues and dates sucked up by the company's in-house managed acts and, of course, it will be that much more difficult for artists to resist ever escalating ticket prices and fees.

Live Nation's relationship to Clear Channel and its enormous number of owned and operated radio stations remains unclear. Clear Channel spun off the concert promotion firm some years ago after its radio practices had made it anathema among music fans. But it likely maintains an investment in the new company, which means that artists who resist Live Nation Entertainment may also be denied radio airplay.

Historically, the main alternative for artists who are fighting corporate power in the music business has been to go out and work live. But with ticketing, concert promotion, artist management and, through 360 deals, record releases all controlled by the same company, that option will be closed off to many.

So what's in this merger for the public? Fewer shows and those that do take place affordable by fewer people.

What's in it for the Obama Administration? More concentration of wealth at the top and oh yeah, White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel's brother on the board of directors.


AS IF THERE WERE ANY DOUBT

It's not just the Obama Justice Dept that is useless in protecting consumers. Obama's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ought to sue itself for consumer fraud based on the settlement it made letting Ticketbastard Nation off the hook for defrauding ticket buyers on the last Springsteen tour. The FTC requires that the company repay consumers who were misdirected to the Ticketbastard scalping site, Tickets Now. No fine, no other penalty.

Even more absurdly, it gives Ticketbastard up to six months to reimburse money it has already held for about a year, which means that the company will pay as slowly as possible. Consumers get none of the interest that Ticketbastard and Ticketbastard Nation earn on those ill-gotten gains.

Too bad interest rates are so low, or Rahm Emmanuel and company could issue the FTC a commendation medal for helping Ticketbastard turn a corporate profit on this theft.


NOW JUST EXACTLY WHY DO WE NEED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

In late October, RRC forwarded to its email lists the following message from Nashville music business attorney Fred Wilhelms:

I have a good friend, Jon Newton, who for the past couple years has graciously provided me, through his website p2pnet.net a place to stand and swing at the evils of the music business. Jon has teamed up with Billy Bragg to form a2f2a.com (Artist2Fan2Artist) as a place for artists and their fans to discuss issues like filesharing and copyright without having the industry get in the way. It's an effort to define what we all know is the common interest in seeing that artists are compensated by the people willing to support their work, without the middlemen as far as possible.

RandyFX responded: Typical hypocrisy. And what exactly is wrong with being a middle man? Are artists the only people entitled to earn a living in the music business? Without middle men Elvis Presley would have stayed a truck driver. How about some respect for the middle men who created the music business out of nothing?

That's a good question and it isn't as rhetorical or unanswerable as RandyFX seems to imagine.

The music of the rock and soul era emerged as a self-conscious phenomena in the 1950s. It had to fight its way onto the airwaves and into the venues of America so that it could be heard. This process went on until the full emergence of hiphop and metal in the 1980s. Countless people played a role in this. Recording and touring artists. Promo men. DJs. Publicists. Roadies. Concert promoters. Session musicians. Tour bus drivers. Managers. Producers. Engineers. Studio owners. And, of course, fans. Much respect to them all.

At many points along the road of this journey, entrepreneurs from Sam Phillips to Russell Simmons--played an important role in facilitating the recording and distribution of important new music so that we could all hear it. That process is something very different from the music industry we have today, the industry Billy Bragg, Fred Wilhelms and so many others are trying to circumvent.

The music industry of today would rather work with the FBI to put poor immigrant street vendors in prison than invest in artist development. The music industry of today prices music out of the reach of the majority of the world's population, intentionally keeps most music off the radio, censors artists, and gets laws passed to prevent the distribution of music. The industry uses all possible means to circumvent contracts and laws rather than pay artist royalties, for physical or digital product. Such an industry has no place in a dialogue between artists and fans and, in fact, no longer has any useful role in our society.


CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE

At the Tax Free World Association conference in October, Bob Geldof explained his fervent belief in the value of corporate social responsibility, saying that It is the individual driving their corporation to act for the benefit of their employees, client base, and society in general.

Sir Bob, there is no such thing as corporate social responsibility. According to the Congressional Quarterly, from 2000 to 2008 72% of foreign-owned corporations and 55% of domestic ones went at least one year without paying any U.S. taxes. In 2005, over 3,500 large (over $250 million in assets) U.S. corporations paid no taxes at all. One reason corporations pay so little in taxes is the tax breaks they get for their charitable activity, activity which is often driven by marketing schemes (the sales of Campbell's Soup went up 30 per cent when pink breast cancer awareness ribbons were placed on every can). As our tax base dries up due to corporate irresponsibility, everything from libraries to school music programs to hospitals are forced to close.

Meanwhile, Geldof puppeteer Bono, himself part of a corporation which fled Ireland to avoid taxes, continues to use his Forbes magazine to bestow blessings on socially responsible corporations. In August, Forbes anointed an oil company, Exxon, as Green Company of the Year. Someone in our government must have read the article on the eve of the December UN Climate Conference, Exxon received a $3 billion subsidy from the U.S. government to help pay for a gas pipeline in Papua New Guinea. This was just a few weeks after the U.S.-controlled Iraqi government gave Exxon the rights to exploit oil fields in southern Iraq, the first time an American oil company has been allowed to operate in that country since 1972. Always one to try to top himself, Bono, via Forbes, in January named Monsanto Company of the Year. Monsanto is notorious not only for suing small farmers for stealing seed that invaded their land via the wind but for contaminating the world food chain with genetically modified crops. Monsanto says genetically modified food is perfectly safe but it's worth noting that, for instance, Monsanto's Posilac milk hormone is banned in Europe due to fears that it may cause cancer.

The snake oil salesmanship of the corporate responsibility crew is really just a remix of the old saw What's good for General Motors is good for the country. That may have seemed true when Detroit was riding high, but take a look today at GM's devastation of the Rust Belt and you ll see a wasteland as empty as the minds of Bob Geldof and Bono.


LET'S GIVE THE SIDEMEN SOME

You can believe anything you want to believe about Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales by Clarence Clemons and Don Reo, just not the reviews. Yeah, it makes a mockery of the celebrity bio. The gray pages are explicitly fiction; the white ones are still in the gray area. But if what you want to know is the mind of the E Street Band's saxophone colossus, there are more than a few clues here. And it's a hell of a lot more fun to read about Clarence shooting pool with Fidel, picking up Hideki Matsui as a hitch-hiker and meeting the mother of a close friend on the beach (since it turns out that neither Clarence nor Bruce has any idea who this close friend is), than it would be reading about contracts, dressing room hassles over the mirror, and the other stuff that has little or nothing to do with real-life behind the music, anyhow. This stuff is almost compulsively readable, with a little willful suspension of disbelief. If you re not in it for fun, or if you don't want to take the piss out of celebrity bios, stay home and listen to Kenny G.

For sideman yarns with more credibility (or that at least don't cake their made-up on their face), there's We ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives by Paul Shaffer and David Ritz. You can believe what you want about these tales of Dylan and Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and James Brown at a guess, I'd say all of it actually happened but who knows about the details? Ritz is the master of music celebrity bios and it would be an insult to claim he didn't know how to help fill in the details of a solidly structured yarns. This book is one long yarn, solidly structured, amusing and pretty damned insightful about a sideman's life.

Klaus Voorman's A Sideman's Journey emerges from one of the Beatles main Hamburg sidekicks, later designer of the Revolver cover, and a participant in the best solo records by John and George. He also served as a member of Manfred Mann, and became mates with Bonnie Bramlett, Joe Walsh, Yusuf Islam (as Cat Stevens and today), and Dr. John, among many others here. A serious, likeable bassist who doubles as a commercial artist, Voorman manages to make this sideman's tale a romp: He and Paul McCartney open with I m in Love Again, and then the hits just keep on coming including remakes of Dylan's Might Quinn and Just Like a Woman that feature both lead singers of the Manfreds (as they re now known). Paul Jones and Mike D Abo had never recorded together before, and the sparks fly, albeit at a pace befitting a bunch of guys in their 60s.

Voorman's story comes in two versions. The album-only version takes you into the music made on his reunion tour and no farther. The box set version, priced high enough to ensure it will be a rarity even among Beatles collectors, has a book, an art print and, best of all, a DVD that recounts Voorman traveling from Germany to England to Memphis and L.A. in pursuit of his album project. It's the warmest evocation of how 60s musicians have coped with aging I ve ever seen. (Parts of the video are on You Tube.)

The Sideman book also contains a passionate essay by Voorman's wife, Christina, about her Water for Life (Mini Ki Wiconi) project, which aids Lakota Sioux to prevent the extinction of both the people and their way of life. The key issue is water rights but in another way, it's also the story of Christina's playing the role of sideman to the Lakota. The proceeds from this project go to Water for Life.

Of course, A Sideman's Journey, released by Universal in Germany, is available only on import. It's not a celebrity bio at all. Just great work with an important purpose. How ya gonna sell that? D.M.


THE MILLS BROTHER

David Mills made his name as a TV writer for such shows as Homicide, ER, and The Wire. Mills was in New Orleans working on the HBO series Treme when he died March 30 of a brain aneurysm at age 48.

Mills, who wrote for the Washington Post before making the trek west twenty years ago, first came to RRC's attention in the 1980s as the mastermind behind Uncut Funk. UF was a sprawling, irregular tabloid that looked like the original Rolling Stone and felt like the best P Funk show you probably only wish you'd seen. The mag was written entirely by Mills and pulled you into his broadly defined world of the funk and when, hours later, you were finally done with an issue, you wished there was more. You can get a sense of Uncut Funk's flavor at David Mills equally sprawling Undercover Black Man blog (http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com). Checking it out shortly after Mills passing, there was footage from Treme, a piece by Harry Allen about a recent non-performing trip to Iowa by Public Enemy, a 1989 Mills interview of Ice Cube, and a devastating look at the Encyclopedia Britannica's endorsement of the Klan in 1915.

A few years ago I connected with David Mills in cyberspace and we wound up having lunch in LA. I don't recall eating much, as the conversation was one long mutual interruption about our musical passions. I discovered that he was also a fanatic about 1950s and 60s jazz his knowledge was encyclopedic, his approach that of a street corner hustler. Trading fours with him about Art Blakey, Ray Baretto, or John Coltrane was a very funky experience. Uncut. I wish there was more. L.B.

I first knew David when he was a critic-reporter for the right-wing Washington Times (who wrote some of the best stuff criticizing the right-wing critics of rap, nonetheless). He became a tremendous writer, a go-to guy if you wanted to know the ins and outs of funk and hip-hop, funny as hell (ever read his thing on Nina Hartley's butt?), and man, he loved the P-Funks. (I am very proud to say I edited his oral history of P-Funk).

That love had no limits. Once Mills and his posse were driving away from some LA awards show George Clinton appeared at, bemoaning the fact that he couldn't get to George. David, already a successful TV writer, stops the conversation dead: "Wait a minute! He's a crackhead. I'm rich." So they call the road manager and he says George will give him like half an hour for a grand, or something along that line. And they proceed to hit every ATM on the West Side, burn up all their credit cards, snatch the cash and rush over to the hotel and they do a really great interview, which I'm sure lasted a lot longer than scheduled because once you had Mills in the door, you were gonna let him stay.

The day I met him he was a rotund kid with a notepad, a bad haircut, I think even a coat and tie, and the worst press credential in America for a Run DMC anti-censorship appearance. He was both always that kid and never that kid again. And look at the shows he wrote for. I love you wherever you are brother, thank you for all of it. D.M.


HOME XEROXING TIPS

The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans, Ned Sublette (Lawrence Hill Books, $27.95)--Author of Cuba and Its Music and The World that Made New Orleans, Ned Sublette has the sort of big ears that hear crunk thumping from a passing car at night and discovers a connection to The Grandissime, George Washington Cable's 1800 novel of Creole life. In this memoir of the year he spent writing his first NOLA book, Sublette finds fresh takes on the story of American slavery, segregation and the development of American music. He makes time collapse as he compresses it into the span of the tale of rock and rap, approximately his own life span.

All of that history comes out as Sublette fills in the background on a year spent getting up close and personal with his favorite music. In the process, he takes us on unforgettable trips to the Mother-In-Law Lounge and Parasol's Bar, up and down New Orleans city streets in second lines, and to the heart of Jazzfest, Mardi Gras and Super Bowl Sunday. As much as Sublette relishes every minute spent in the Crescent City, this is close to a horror story from page one every bit a Southern gothic with the worst sort of social neglect leading to daily violence and the inevitability of Katrina.

It's in that context that Sublette captures the significance of Southern rap, particularly the New Orleans strain that went platinum worldwide with Master P's mid-90s rise and, coupled with the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, changed the rules of the rap game forever. In a sense, Master P made his fortune selling crack, Sublette writes, explaining how the images No Limit records peddled captured the sexiness of capitalism in the murder capital of the country.

Not flinching at the darkness and cynicism of this hip-hop, Sublette makes a strong case for the way it reflects the truths of New Orleans culture and how it carries innumerable ties to every other part of the culture, celebrating what's best about it. He writes, Part of the fire of New Orleans hip-hop was the group spirit the sense of how well everyone knew each other and how much everyone involved depended on each other for their survival in a murderous world.

Sublette lovingly depicts the rise and development of Cash Money records, focusing at chapter length on the talent of producer/rapper Mannie Fresh. He offers unforgettable portraits of the Cash Money rappers at work, including a pre-teen Lil Wayne who would show up early for sessions to get a head start writing rhymes in his notebook. Sublette, a man who relates the Dragnet theme that played a recurring role in NOLA hip-hop to the habanera/tango rhythm, makes a case rarely seen elsewhere for this music's longevity and importance: As the violent passions of the time and place they represent become as distant as the jazz age, the records of the Cash Money crime-jam family will stand, the way thousands of once seemingly disposable R&B records have stood for half a century now.

Sounding Salsa: Performing Latin Music in New York City by Christopher Washburne (Temple University Press, $26.95) This book about salsa and the musicians who play it goes in wildly different directions. There are stories of death threats at rehearsals, of the role of cocaine and the drug cartels in the scene, of Ruben Blades calming a crowd in Venezuela by singing about his deceased parents after a front row shooting, of the bassist who says he killed Charlie Parker by getting him drugs. Then Washburne, a Columbia ethnomusicology professor who has played trombone on dozens of salsa albums along with stints in the bands of La India, Tito Puente, and Eddie Palmieri, will go off on long academic ramblings that are almost unreadable. At other times, he's just a smart guy making telling points about the enduring connection of salsa to El Barrio, exposing union neglect of salsa musicians, and even in making a case that salsa romantica is the equal of classic salsa dura. Washburne brings the voices of dozens of other musicians into the mix and holds your interest even when delving into the smallest details of the salsa life from how the current stage setup evolved to what the guys wear to rehearsals (cutoff denim shorts, pressed). Above all, he conveys the passion that he and his fellow musicians have for the art form, a passion that makes them willing to endure violence, drug abuse, canceled gigs and low pay, sleep deprivation and hearing loss in pursuit of those nights where the groove becomes transcendent and makes it all worthwhile. Examples abound percussionists who ignore their breaks between sets at a gig in order to play along with the DJ and improve their chops or the tradition that mandates that a salsa musician who enters a room of other musicians must shake each person's hand and introduce himself (trumpeter John Walsh: I always find it odd when I play a jazz gig. No one says hello or greets anyone like in a salsa band. ) If Sounding Salsa is sometimes maddening to read, that doesn't mean it isn't a unique, vital contribution that most any musician or music fan will find their own reflection in.

Princes Among Men: Journeys with Gypsy Musicians by Garth Cartwright (Serpent's Tail, $20) and More Miles Than Money: Journeys Through American Music by Garth Cartwright (Serpent's Tail, $20.95)

Luis J. Rodriguez writes: What do performers like Saban Bajramovic, Sofi Marinova or Ferus Mustafov have to do with Blues, Rock-N-Roll and popular music? Much, if you go by Garth Cartwright, who postulates that a major root of current world music comes from the centuries-long history of Gypsies in Europe. And Cartwright makes a good case his 2005 book Princes Amongst Men: Journeys with Gypsy Musicians delves into this important source music of the often misunderstood Balkans region.

The Roma, as Gypsies are generally known, have contributed songs, instruments, and rhythms that have permeated other music for example, flamenco in southern Spain. They have also organized their own version of blues bands and soul singers. This is a mother culture, one that has birthed many sounds and voices from countries with almost unpronounceable names like Vojvodina, Moldova, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, or Bulgaria. Read Princes Amongst Men to grasp the relevance of what the Roma have given to the rest of us.

I also recommend Cartwright's most recent book, More Miles Than Money. The book documents the origins and trajectories of African American, Chicano/Mexicano, Native American, and white roots music in the United States. By way of disclosure, I'm one of the people Cartwright interviewed around the hybrid street sounds of East LA and Watts. But he's also captured the flavor and soul of such centers of cultural vulcanization as the Navajo Reservation, Nashville, San Antonio, and Tunica, Mississippi. Few Americans have gotten this close to what makes American music the most connective and recognized in the world.

Originally from New Zealand, now making his home in South London, Cartwright has traveled around the world in search of the roots and reasons behind some of our most vigorous cultural expressions. These books have the uniquely powerful combination of passion and personality with strong research highly recommended. [Luis J. Rodriguez is the author of several books, including Always Running, The Republic of East LA, and Music of the Mill]


WE'RE SEEING THINGS Art Blakey Live in 65 (Jazz Icons DVD) Don't sit down to watch this if you don't have time for the whole thing (and a rewind or two) as it will nail you to the couch and then tap sources of energy you didn't know you had within you. It's a show in Paris by a last-minute thrown together version of the Jazz Messengers who clambered onto a European package tour at the last minute. A 27-year-old Freddie Hubbard is the driving force his playing is showy and spectacular but never loses focus or a direct emotional connection to the listener's heart. Hubbard also wrote most of the tunes, which are given unusual room for exploration (17 minutes, 24 minutes) for a Blakey band. Little-known tenorman Nathan Davis holds his own, not letting Hubbard overwhelm him, while pianist Jaki Byard did what came uniquely to him (on one stop of this tour, Blakey directed Davis, mid-show, to go ask Byard What are you doing? ).

It probably wouldn't be all that difficult to make just an interesting film about Bill Withers. Tell the linear story of how he emerged from the coal camps of West Virginia, only to end up in an LA factory making toilets for 747s until, at age 32, he entered the music industry and became an overnight star with "Ain't No Sunshine."

But what Damani Baker and Alex Vlack have done with their film Still Bill (DVD available from stillbillthemovie.com) is something else again. The filmmakers come at Bill Withers from the side, from below and above as they show his relationships to the music industry and its racial stereotyping, to rural West Virginia, to friends and family, and to his burning need to create.

There are lots of performance clips, along with footage of the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Johnny Carson, and James Brown. At age 70, Withers is shown making joyful music with both his daughter and with African-American/Argentine musician Raul Midon (their telephone conversation about clave is priceless).

When Still Bill is over, you still don't know how he went from the factory to the front page. But you will have healed many holes in your soul you may not have even known you had.


PETER THE GREAT Peter Wolf's new album, Midnight Souvenirs (Verve) is very much in the vein of the last two, Fool's Parade and Sleepless. R&B sensibilities still prevail (including a cover of "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky"), but there's also some prominent country elements that began on Sleepless. Mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and steel all appear and there are some countryish chord structures. Country has crept into Wolf's music since the J Geils days, but not as overtly and consistently.

So it's surprising that the song that features the most country of things you could put on a record, Merle Haggard, is hardly country at all. In fact, it's more reminiscent of Hag's standards album, only better. The song confirms that Wolf is an over-looked and underrated singer, and that he belongs in this rarefied company. S.M.


THE WALL On November 5, a concert featuring U2 took place at Germany's Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The immediate controversy was the erection of a 12 foot high metal barrier which had been installed to block the view of anyone without tickets. I thought it's a free show, but MTV probably wants people to watch it on TV to get their ratings up, said Louis-Pierre Boily, who came from Canada to see the concert. He was among hundreds of people who demonstrated against the new wall. Some fans tried to tear down a white tarp which covered the fence.

The erection of a wall to celebrate the end of a wall is shameful but it shouldn't cloud a larger issue. Why is the Berlin Wall, which long ago ceased to exist, the wall which gets all the attention? What about the world's most hated wall today, the wall that snakes along the U.S.-Mexico border and continues to grow in militarized leaps? This wall has caused hundreds of immigrants to die in deserts, boxcars, and the trunks of cars. This wall has cost several billion dollars, money drained from America's social service budgets. Bono has yet to say a word about it. Surely he is aware of it since he often visits California, at times to meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss poverty.

Bono, the master of the empty gesture, knows there could be a price for talking about the need to take this wall down. The week before the concert at Brandenberg Gate, the superstar norteno band Los Tigres del Norte canceled their appearance at the Las Lunas ceremony at Mexico City's National Auditorium, where they were scheduled to receive an award and to perform. Organizers of the event told the band they could not perform their latest single La Granja ( The Farm ). The song and its accompanying video depict fat pigs representing politicians who get rich on the backs of the people and a vicious dog with fiery red eyes which represents drug trafficking. A fox (former President Vicente Fox) releases the dog and there is hell to pay, especially for the peasant farmers caught in the middle. Finally the dog bites the farmer, who has no escape because of the wall along the border.

Bono has never used his worldwide platform to so much as mention the plight of the millions of poor Mexicans on both sides of the wall. On the other hand, according to the LA Times, Grammy-winning Los Tigres Del Norte has built an enormous and loyal following by writing and singing about poor immigrants and their hard lives.


EYEWITNESS NEWS On November 9th, Jon Bon Jovi performed his group's new single, We Weren't Born to Follow, at a ceremony to commemorate the fall of the wall in Berlin which was attended by several heads of state. Bon Jovi, who says he keeps a piece of the Berlin Wall which he chipped off himself in 1989, described the song as dedicated to those who fight for freedom in the face of adversity. Well, that's a little vague. To be more specific, we present the following from the March 1991 Rock & Rap Confidential written by Peter Wicke, who at that time was Director of Popular Music Research at Humboldt University in eastern Germany:

By the autumn of 1989 it was clear the German Democratic Republic had to change. The socialist economy was inefficient and the government was totalitarian. The people of East Germany wanted change but weren't sure how to even talk about it, let alone get it.

The answer was rock & roll. Musicians were instrumental in setting off the changes which ended in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Because it couldn't be controlled by the state, rock music became the best vehicle for resistance.

The stage for rock & roll had been set during the summer of 1989 by the growing exodus of young people to West Germany through Hungary. For East German musicians and fans, this reinforced an awareness of the vacuum that existed in the cultural life of the GDR, especially for youth.

By the end of the summer the wall was shaking, and this is how it fell:

September 18, 1989: Members of the rock music section of the Committee for Entertainment Arts, which included all prominent rock musicians in the GDR, hold a routine workshop for young musicians. But the only thing that gets discussed is the mass exodus to West Germany and what its effect will be on culture and popular music in the GDR.

Since the official GDR media continues to pretend the exodus isn't happening, the musicians feel they have to make their own statement to the public. Although they realize it is very dangerous to take a stand, the musicians draw up a statement. Late in the evening, one hundred of the GDR's most popular rock musicians sign it.

The wide-ranging statement warns of the resurgence of neo-Nazi groups in the GDR, criticizes the party leadership for the intolerable state of ignorance about the decay of the country, and calls for reforms which make the continued existence of socialism possible. This country, the statement continues, must finally learn to take account of minorities who think differently, especially if they turn out not to be minorities at all.

The musicians gave the media seven days to make their statement public.

September 25, 1989: The deadline expires and the media continue to ignore the statement. So the musicians carry out their declared intention and make their statement available to the West German media. They also decide to read their statement on stage during their shows.

September 26, 1989: The state authorities try to cancel all public performances, attempting to prevent the musicians from reading their statement. But it is read and heard anyway.

October 3, 1989: By now, the statement has been signed by more than 1,500 others, including jazz musicians, singer/songwriters, pop singers, and disc jockeys. The state authorities enter negotiations to prevent the statement's reading at public performances planned to mark the October 7 celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, events which cannot be canceled.

October 7, 1989: During performances by rock musicians, singer/songwriters and other artists throughout the whole country, the statement is presented to audiences in defiance of the government. Security police arrest performers on stage and take them directly to prison. Audiences become very angry and there are many confrontations with police.

October 8 and 9, 1989: News spreads about the arrests and the confrontations between state security services and concert audiences. Young people take to the streets in protest, battling police. There are over a thousand arrests in Berlin alone. The dramatic pictures of these confrontations, seen in East Germany on West German television, result in 300,000 protestors taking to the streets of Leipzig.

The protests spread and the Berlin Wall quickly comes down. Germany is reunified the following year.

Wicke also wrote:

The western media continues to describe these dramatic events in Eastern Europe as the triumph of the Western system and the defeat of socialism. But the intent of the musicians and their young audience in this country was to effect changes within socialism. The changes we fought for were quite different than the changes we got.

In fact, right now there isn't much of a music scene left here. Major corporations from all over the world have bought up all our venues and production facilities and then shut them down because the economic situation doesn't provide a profit in the eastern part of Germany.


LET'S GET SIRIUS Since 2004, RRC editor Dave Marsh has had a music and politics show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Kick Out the Jams, that features great music, a variety of special artist and activist guests, and Dave's provocative commentary. Sundays 10 AM to Noon, Eastern Time. The Loft (Sirius 28 / XM50).

Dave now has a second show on Sirius, which is all politics. It's called Live From The Land of Hopes and Dreams on Sirius Left 146 / XM America Left 158 on Sundays from 2PM-5PM (Eastern Time). To get a taste of the new show, go to www.rockrap.com/LOHAD.mp3.


AND SHE WAS, AND SHE IS Rock and rap in the broadest sense lost one of its great friends with the October 22nd passing of longtime Kansas City record store owner and cultural dynamo Anne Winter.

I first met Anne Winter when we both moved to Kansas City from opposite directions (her, Nebraska, me, Oklahoma) two decades ago. I had an RRC campaign petition, In Defense of Music, that I was putting everywhere I could to get it signed. As with all such petitions put on display in Anne's Dirt Cheap Recycled Sounds, it received pages and pages of signatures.

Anne's store sat at the heart of the city, the corner of Westport and Main, and she kept her heart and mind open to a head-spinning kaleidoscope of ideas that came her way in-store performances by punk and hip hop bands, Jack Black guest clerking, ping pong tournaments for various benefits out back. She worked with a band of RRC folks and local musicians and store owners to form a group called the Greater Kansas City Coalition Against Censorship, which began a week of free speech events called Culture Under Fire that went on for over 12 years. Dave Marsh took part in two events which drew hundreds of Kansas Citians at that first Culture Under Fire, and over the years the evolving Coalition would bring in various speakers including Michael Moore and Molly Ivins.

But, above all, Anne kept up a dialogue among Kansas City art lovers, and especially its musicians. News of her death came to me, first, from a musician who grew up going to her record store. Within hours, Anne's Facebook page was flooded with comments by various music fans turned onto new music by her active interest in their visits to her store and, perhaps more importantly, fans and musicians who felt a sense of community simply because her store existed. From the moment I met Anne, she was scheduling meetings with me at a little breakfast nook down the street from her store she had the grandest of ideas, on the order of a SXSW Kansas City style, but she was also always receptive to other peoples ideas. A few years ago, when Rock-A-Mole put out the movie The Ultimate Song, Anne held a showing and discussion that packed the back half of her store. At her funeral, I was reminded that she brought her father along with her to meet a rag tag band of us who picketed 7-UP as part of a nationwide boycott that stopped their sponsorship of the PMRC.

I was a few minutes late to Anne's funeral, which wouldn't have surprised Anne a bit (she always beat me wherever we were going), and I found myself standing outside the door of a funeral home full to the brim. In that lobby, none of us could even see the funeral, but we could hear it, and I found myself looking around at all of the others listening to the funeral with me young and old, black and white and every race, famous musicians (locally and internationally) as well as journalists, club owners, DJs, actors and artists, all of us tied together by one thing, a love of music and a sense of community around that music built, in large part, by Anne Winter. One of the speakers suggested we start things off by doing what Anne would have us do, turn around and shake each other's hands and get to know one another. The roar that followed all but tore the roof off the sucker. May that beautiful noise never cease.

A fund has been set up for her beautiful family--Kurt, Max and Eva--at www.anniewinter.org.--D.A.


THANKS TO Don Berns, Jason Bosch, Davey D, Holly Gleason, Gavin Martin, Greg Nisbet, Phyllis Pollack, Arun Prabhakaran, John Ross, Jeffrey St. Clair, Matt Sedillo, Mike Stark, Ned Sublette, Lorraine Suzuki

THE STAFF: Editor: Dave Marsh Associate Editors: Danny Alexander, Lee Ballinger Contributing Editors:Cheryl Burns, David Cantwell, Walter Dunn, Jr., Ben Eicher, Carvell Holloway, Steven J. Messick, Luis Rodriguez, Daniel Wolff

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