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Archive for the ‘Anishinaabe’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN LEGEND-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #58 (August 3, 2020).

I don’t know all that much about John legend.  I know he’s released a lot of popular music and that he seems to be famous for being famous at this point.

But wow, this set is great.  Legend has a terrific voice.  I’m not really sure what genre his music is–it’s very soulful–becuase it’s just really great songwriting.

They kick off the set with “Ooh Laa,” a song John calls “doo-wop meets trap” it’s also the lead-off track to his summer album, Bigger Love. 

I don’t know how the “trap” part fits into this song, but the combination is fantastic.  The song opens with a sample of the “shoo bop shoo bop” from The Flamingos’s “I Only Have Eyes for You.  It works as a great foundation for this song of love and romance.  It’s got a great chorus of, yes, “Ooh Laa,” which is a perfect line for this song.  It also has Kaveh Rastegar on upright bass, which adds a great slow jazzy feel.

“Wild” opens with a quiet guitar melody from Ben O’Neill that reminds me of a Beach House song (although it sounds very different with Legend singing).   It’s fascinating how different this song sounds from “Ooh Laa” even though it is very clearly a John Legend song.  It’s also got a fantastic wailing guitar solo, which was completely unexpected.

All of the songs filmed on this day are from Bigger Love, including “Conversations in the Dark,” which John says is “a good song for babies to dance to — you might want to get married to it, too, if you’re so inclined.” Meanwhile, behind the band on a big screen reads, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

“Bigger Love” is catchy and bouncy with some great sounding drums from Jimmy “Rashid” Williams and simple keyboard splashes from Eugene “Man Man” Roberts.

[READ: August 1, 2020] “The Shawl”

This story is compact and written in a well-plotted style.

It begins with a story.  A story that the Anishinaabeg people on her street speak of.

A woman had two children whom she loved: a boy and a girl.  Then she had a baby girl with a different man.  She loved the new man more than her first man and decided to leave her family for the new man.  But she decided to bring her daughters with her.

On the way out of town, their carriage was attacked by wolves and the older girl fell out of the carriage and was killed.  All that was left of her was a torn and bloodied shawl. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SINGLE MOTHERS-“Marbles” (2014).

Single Mothers has been together in one way or another for years.  In fact their blurb says

Single Mothers broke up in 2009 and have been playing shows ever since.

I had not heard of this London, Ontario band until reading this story from Evan Redsky, so I wanted to find a song that he played on.  Their lineup was everchanging and as far as I can tell this album, Negative Qualities, is the only one he played bass on.

Negative Qualities has a classic punk sound with a twenty-first century production quality.  The songs are short and fast (most are around two minutes).

One of the more important things for a band like this is how the vocalist comes across.  Drew Thompson screams melodically and, more importantly, clearly enough that you can hear most of the words.

I picked this song, the second on the album because it opens with a great rumbling wall from bass from Redsky and this fantastic lyrical verse, bridge and chorus

She’s like
Blah, blah, blah, blah
Something ’bout McSweeney’s
Something ’bout her thesis
Something ’bout it’s meaning
Something ’bout whatever
Something like
“Why do you gotta be so mean?”

‘Cause I don’t care about your first editions
And I don’t care about your typewriter ribbons
I don’t care about your punctuation
Puncture wounds
That you’re trying to inflict me with

‘Cause I’m a hypocrite
And I’m okay with it
And I’m so self-aware
That it’s crippling
At least I don’t pretend my whole life’s held together by bookends

The whole album is really good.  While exploring their bandcamp site, I found their first EP (with longer songs and a slightly different sound) to also be excellent.

[READ: December 2019] “Smack Dab in the Metal”

The December 2019 issue of the West End Phoenix focused on Indigenous People.  Most of the writers were Indigenous and the news stories shone a light on Indigenous issues.  Much of the presence of Indigenous peoples is seen through their art–whether through beads, paint or sculpture, the images are often quite striking.  The issue even included a “colour me” page with a striking image from Taylor Cameron, a 23-year-old Anishinaabe artist from Saugeen First Nation (I can’t find an image online).

To a Polish person, the name Evan Redsky sounds Polish or Russian, but I can clearly see that it is not.

Redsky is a musician.  He has released some solo material, but he is perhaps best known as the bassist for Single Mothers.  That’s how this piece opens anyway.

He says in his later teens and early twenties he traveled the globe with this punk band (that I hadn’t heard of).

There’s nothing too unusual about a teenage boy being in a punk band.  But the fact that Redsky is Ojibway from Mississaugi First Nation in Northern Ontario is pretty unusual–especially in the punk/metal scene. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BILL RIEFLIN (September 29, 1960 – March 24, 2020).

Bill Rieflin is a musician that I’ve known of for as long as I can remember.

He played with the Revolting Cocks and then, how I knew him best, as the drummer for Ministry.  I feel like his name appeared in dozens of places on the industrial scene.  He helped to create Pigface and even played with KMFDM (as a drummer and keyboardist).  He also played on the Lard albums and drummed with Nine Inch Nails and Swans.

With all of that industrial background it came as something of a surprise to hear that he was going to replace Bill Berry (as a hired drummer, not a band member) in R.E.M. (in live shows and on their last couple of albums).

He even played drums on Taylor Swift’s album Red (which is amusing given his later King Crimson connection).

He had been friendly with Robert Fripp since at least 1999.  Fripp played on Rieflin’s solo album Birth of a Giant and had worked with him in various projects through the years.  I didn’t know about that Fripp connection, so when I found out that he was going to be one of the three drummers in the 2014 King Crimson tour, I was really surprised.

I was also really impressed at his drumming and am now really happy to have seen him play.  When Crimson toured again in July of 2017, Rieflin had taken a sabbatical but was now back.  But since they had replaced him while he was away, he was now playing keyboards (which meant that Crimson now had eight members on stage).  When I saw them again in November 2017, Rieflin was once again on sabbatical.

I assumed it was for health reasons (why else do musicians take sabbaticals), but his cancer was kept under wraps. (He’d evidently been fighting it since 2013).

So at least I was fortunate enough to see him play twice before he died.

Here’s the second drummer that I know of to die of cancer in 2020.  Even while Coronavirus is getting the front page, cancer still does its dirty work.

[READ: December 2019] “Who We Are”

The December 2019 issue of the West End Phoenix focused on Indigenous People.  Most of the writers were Indigenous and the news stories shone a light on Indigenous issues.  Much of the presence of Indigenous peoples is seen through their art–whether through beads, paint or sculpture, the images are often quite striking.  The issue even included a “colour me” page with a striking image from Taylor Cameron, a 23-year-old Anishinaabe artist from Saugeen First Nation (I can’t find an image online).

The issue also featured two full page graphic short stories.

The first features very clean illustrations from Scott B. Henderson.  The lines are very crisp and yet the art is quite minimal, achieving a lot with very little.

The story is a true story. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TASHA COBBS LEONARD-Tiny Desk Concert #860 (June 24, 2019).

Tasha Cobbs Leonard tells the crowd we’re gonna do some worship songs–gonna go to church some.  Everyone is wearing blue except Tasha who is in a very colorful outfit.  She is “regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today — she’s won numerous awards, including a Grammy.”

“Break Every Chain” has the opening lyrics: There is power in the name of Jesus.”  It opens with David Williams II playing keys and after a verse or two Wellington “Boo” Britt adds some simple drums.

Her backing vocalists Kennya Miller, Breona Lawrence, and Emoni Robinson sound fantastic–adding a wonderful chorus.

After the first chorus Archie “Snoop” Pearson adds some bass and the whole song feels full.

Her Tiny Desk set started out with one of her favorite songs and her most popular tune, “Break Every Chain,” an anthem that reminds many of us that “there is power in the name of Jesus.”

Tasha gives a little preach about God’s plan for everyone before the next song

“You Know My Name,” is one Cobbs Leonard wrote a few years ago with South African musician and friend, Brenton Brown.

This songs starts out as a ballad with just guitar from Benjamin Forehand and voices.

I like the way Tasha was brought to the Tiny Desk:

I first saw Tasha Cobbs Leonard sing live in my church’s 4,000-seat sanctuary. Her voice easily powered-over the PA system and I was amazed by how well I could hear its beautiful resonance and clarity.

The final song is “The River of the Lord,”

a country-influenced tune, written by her husband, musical director and producer, Kenneth Leonard, along with some of their friends. Originally from Jesup, Georgia, Cobbs Leonard explained that “where I’m from, this is called a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, church song. We’re going to clap a little bit, put a smile on our faces and celebrate the river and the joy of the Lord.”

I grew up listening to religious music that was pretty bland and people who didn’t seem to like singing it.  But I can see why people get into gospel music.  Music that’s this fun–even religious music–is really enjoyable..

[READ: July 1, 2019] “First Powwow”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

1983: Waubgeshig and his family traveled more than 300 kilometers from Wasauksing to Mississaugas for his first powwow.

He doesn’t remember the journey or arriving.  He really only remembers the sound of the big drum.

The beat echoed in his chest and he was thrilled at the colors of the people dancing around the drum. (more…)

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