After one of the most epic live music weekends ever it's time to gather your senses and get ready for another round. Kicking things off this week are the homegrown Americana foot stomping Spirit Family Reunion, playing live on Tuesday (4/23) at the Cavalcade in Fruita.
Spirit Family Reunion has grown a lot since busking on street corners and subway stations. The band has garnered quiet the following and are now making major tour stops at the Newport Folk Festival and NPR's Tiny Desk Series (see below). I usually don't like quoting other media outlets but this line by Paste Magazine is just too good not to share.
"Dusty acoustic guitars, wailing fiddles and weeping accordions, with a woozy-yet-skintight rhythm section-- and topped off with burr-edged vocals that sound like they've been soaked in a Mason jar for generations -- it's the type of music that blurs the line between past and present so thoroughly, and so deftly, that time feels irrelevant." Well said. Reminds me of this article...
Catch Spirit Family Reunion and listen as they rekindle that old familiar feeling of home in your soul.
Generally, I try to avoid classifying music into genres or oversimplified terms. Talking about a song or an artist in a couple easy words creates preconceived limitations and bias before you even have a chance to judge for yourself.
One such oversimplified term, and one taking center stage this weekend, is “white rapper.”
Traditionally, hip-hop as a culture has four elements: DJing, breakdancing, graffiti art and MCing. Since the dawn of hip-hop in the mid-1970s, that culture has included people of all races. Only MCing has been commercially tagged as a black art form.
Labeling an MC as a “white rapper” is a diss on his or her skills and brings up comparisons of race and the underlying notion that he or she is not as skilled or as authentic as a black rapper.
The historic knock on “white rappers” is that they talk about things they know nothing of and come across corny as hell. While there have been plenty of wack MCs to make people wary of other “white rappers” — see Marky Mark, MC Snow, Vanilla Ice, Limp Bizkit, K-Fed, Asher Roth, etc. — skin tone has nothing to do with talent.
Both Sage Francis and Macklemore are skilled MCs, and referring to them in part by skin tone is just silly. Neither pretends to be someone nor represents something that isn’t authentic to their true self.
The best way to judge a rapper’s ability is to examine his or her flow. The lyrics an MC spits are so closely associated with the artist’s identity that they are the only thing that matter.
Forget “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore’s crossover smash hit, and check out tracks such as “Same Love.” A plea to end bigotry toward gay couples, “Same Love” is the kind of track that separates Macklemore from other MCs. Over the 30 odd years of hip-dhop history, the one topic that remains off limits is homosexuality.
“We become so numb to what we’re saying / A culture founded from oppression / Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em,” Macklemore rhymes over a Ryan Lewis beat. “No freedom till we’re equal / Damn right I support it.”
No one can accuse Macklemore of frontin’ with lyrics like that. He’s just about the only MC out there with the guts to say anything positive about the topic.
Sage Francis also is no stranger to tackling tough topics. His response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “Makeshift Patriot,” is a poetic fallout that, as he says, “goes far beyond the toxic cloud where people look like debris.”
“I’ve got exclusive, explicit images to present to impressionable / American kids and it’s time to show this world how big our edifice is / That’s exactly what they attacked when a typically dark-skinned Disney villain / Used civilians against civilians and charged the Trojan horses into our buildings.”
Those lines are raw but true to Sage Francis’ character.
Hip-hop culture demands authenticity in its MCs. Those who take their skill seriously transcend the ideas of race. Look at Eminem, the Beastie Boys or the group 3rd Bass. Respected for their group individuality and flow, they shed the “white” adjective and are just known as rappers.
MCs such as Sage Francis and Macklemore, who speak their mind and challenge stereotypes, are more deserving than the inferior labels. Hold them to the same accountability as other MCs. Do they have lyrical skill? Yes or no. Simple as that.
With Record Store Day just around the corner, Triple Play Records and the Mesa Theater have teamed up to show the film "Last Shop Standing." This 50 minute film charts the rise of record shops in the 1960s to the demise of locally owned businesses today. Hear from over 20 record shop owners and music industry leaders, as well as musicians including Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Norman Cook, Billy Bragg, Nerina Pallot, Richard Hawley and Clint Boon. Each discuss how record shops became a part of their musical education, a place to discover and cherish new bands, and why they might just have a brighter future.
This film showing is free to the public and starts at 7 p.m., tonight. Remember, Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 20. Triple Play will have exclusive releases and also live music from several local musicians.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are no strangers to high production, epic music videos. Their latest for "Can't Hold Us" featuring Ray Dalton is another cinematic journey. "Can't Hold Us" is a globe trotter. Beaches, dance parties, sled dogs, pirate ships, camels, mobile living rooms, this one's got it all folks. You knew the follow up to "Thrift Shop" was going to be big, but this is just massive.
Now who's excited for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Saturday? Seriously, it can't get here soon enough.
Scanning the merch table at tonight's Gwar show, you'll find more than just T-shirts and albums for sale. GWAR-B-Q sauce, "personally created for human consumption by none other than GWAR’s steel-faced guitar player, Balsac, the Jaws of Death" is a tangy addition to the interstellar band's offerings.
GWAR-B-Q Sauce was created to "pour on dead things and then ram them into that great, greasy pothole you call a mouth," 43-billion-year-old Oderus Urungus from the planet Scumdogia said in a previous interview. According to Balsac the Jaws of Death the sauce is "mostly made out of the blood of really hot chicks."
The sauce coincides with the band's 4th Annual GWAR-B-Qin Richmond Virginia, a music spectacular for all Gwar slaves. This year's event is the most bone-crushing ever as the Antarctic rock gods will also release their own beer, Impaled Ale.
"Eat and drink yourself into a diabetic stupor, then puke it all up in the slam pit! It's going to rule!" promises Oderus.
Pick up a bottle of your own tonight during Gwar's "Bloody Pit of Horror" show at the Mesa Theater. Be there or suffer the shame of being incredibly pathetic!