The NBT Review 117

Evi Vine reviewed by Martin Smit

Muffled Shine reviewed by Cobus Rossouw

 And So The Morning Comes – Evi Vine (independent release)

 This is before sunrise music, those eternal minutes where the darkness fools you that It’s never gonna leave, but somehow the lamplight is losing it’s power to soothe or distort (was it ever comforting really?)

This is music floating in that waiting world, where hope is not quiet born and sister despair is not as charming as she was just a few hours ago.

This is intimate, just you and the singer, the music the cool air you breathe as you conduct this personal conversation. You cannot imagine studio or electrics, cables and buttons and mixing desks, you cannot imagine close ups of strings and bows and microphones. You’re too busy being IN the song and the singer and her music is too busy being IN you.

And yet.

That said, it is also music that makes you want to betray that privacy, the second it is done, and tell others, so that they too can be lost, just them and the singer.

So tell us about the music, you plead, well its stripped down Mazzy Star, its the most fragile blues, its those thoughts you had when you fell in love and you knew you would one day fall out of love.

It can make all the beauty in the world a lonely frightening thing but it can also softly urge you to keep dreaming to dare not wake up right now.

I had this vision that as the music drifted into a bus full of noise and chaos, one by one those that heard it closed their eyes, warped slightly out of focus, let go.

Stops were missed, timetables forgotten, the future became flexible.

It really was that simple.

http://www.evivine.com/

 Muffled Shine – Just (Independent Release)

 In 2003 Frédéric Chaubin began a journey to document some of the Soviet Union’s incredible architecture. I stumbled onto the story of this adventure together with a sample of some of the photographs (click on Frédéric’s name above) and was immediately struck by how the architecture somehow conveyed a sense of the Cold War era while being very distinct from what was created in the US. The buildings have a close, claustrophobic feeling; even as they stretch creativity far further than the West did (well, mostly).

When I first heard this EP from Muffled Shine it immediately brought back the images of those buildings. Landscapes of graceful emptiness filled with architectural displays that are brutal, yet harmonic and somehow triumphant. This is a personal reflection though, and while I am sure that we cannot escape the effects of our environment I am also sure that Muffled Shine intends far more with this EP than to depict a fascinating past.

Gregory Khanin & Dmitry Gubin create music that falls within the “Industrial”, genre but it would sell their EP, “Just”, short if you tried categorise it that strictly. The reason for this is that “Industrial” so often conjures up the idea of grinding discomfort, agitation, angst, whereas Muffled Shine have produced something that is reflective and meditative without being mawkish or overtly spiritual. This album will not make it into a Tibetan monastery, but if it did they’d learn something.

The music is so evocative that it transforms your local landscape. With autumn fast approaching in South Africa it metamorphosed afternoon traffic into an epic adventure, a slow progress to some homecoming, some imminent arrival. It is such a familiar feeling that I listened to the album three times in succession without once feeling like I’ve heard it before. (I knew I couldn’t find the words to describe this feeling, so I’ll settle for “nostalgia”).

Since receiving the album for review I have probably listened to it more than twenty times, and I could listen to it again, right now and I know I’ll be moved. I also know that I’ll be moved in a different way, and that it will provoke an emotional response. This is my album for contemplation, for deepening the world, for delving inside.

 http://muffledshine.bandcamp.com/

  Both Muffled Shine and Evi Vine will be featured on the NBT DarkElectric and Flagship Podcasts going out on the 29th and 30th March respectively

 and both are playlisted on the NBTMusic 24hour Radio

 http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 

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The NBT Review 116

  Aftermath – Alozeau & Jean Montag (Independent Release)

 the best music is a soundtrack to a movie in our imagination.

 Scene 1.

 the monster wakes up, the technical thing, the mechanical thing shakes off its sleep and pity and compassion coils into itself, throbs, then shoots up.

 We are flying now.

 The world..even as a stark map, negative photo, smudged photostat, is (in it’s final moments) serene beautiful.

 We are the soul of the bomb, this is the music that explains how it soars, these are the seconds before release. This is the coldest sensual. The prettiest brutal.

 If you were a man. Watching it fall from the pale sky. This would be the intake of your breath, slowed down, slowed down in a vain attempt to straighten out those insane jumbled thoughts, those terminal thoughts.

 And if you survive, this is now your music too.

 Scene 2.

 the seconds before. The seconds after. Ghosts inherit the landscape. The panic, the crowd frenzy, the voyeuristic vipers of TV land are silent. And what price this calm?

 Scene 3.

 switch focus now.

The soul

the journey into heaven, hell or where exactly? Does it really matter? But oh it is scary, dangerous, so now we know, we can still be frightened, still be thrilled, the tension is unbearable, but orgasmic. We do not want this imploding to end. Forget the hush, bring the noise.

 Scene 4.

 and in the electro darkness, the deep green deep, the murk, sparks slink out timid, search for mother, search for lover. Rebirth almost happens, sighs, fades, then almost happens again. The composer’s compassion interferes, flickers into the fluid. Hope can be such an ambiguous thing.

 Scene 5.

 and then we are born again.. into the bright bright new world.

 Find your own movies within this incredible music

http://jeanmontag.bandcamp.com

Several tracks from Jean Montag and his Collaborators appear on the NBTdarkElectric Podcast and

the NBTMusic24Hr Radio

 http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

 http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 

The NBt Review 101

All this cool music. There may be a crisis within the music industry, but the independents are sure doing their best to make it a vibrant exciting world of sound.

All reviews except where noted are by Martin Smit of the NBT Project.

Fever Changing –WarTapes (Independent Release)

Hurtling forwards the music the singing is twisted and detached, look for the poignant hidden behind the frantic modern hustle. This machine gets dirty gets rusty, rumbles and roars and the humans who drive it through to us, are flawed, vulnerable, brave, continually invigorated by the power of the melody, the impact of the thoughts.

It is only PoP isn’t it?

Or do these fierce songs display a lot more? Simple answer:oh yes.

The title track screams into existence, all piercing industrial guitar slithering over a dense mix, the beat shuffles shy, hesitant, the girl almost lost in the roar, but it is this subliminal purity easing its way out, that touches us.

We start to think we know what will come next, but the band gleefully throws out their very best curveball (Silhouette) and suddenly we aretaken back to an innocent new romantic dance floor, memories of pastel tinted videos and hooks to dream about. While personally preferring the WAR in the Wartapes, I can imagine many a radio programmer latching onto this track with a sigh and even a giggle.

For me though, the twitchy beguiling hit of the oncoming winter will be the nervous buzz of ‘Do You Ever Think Of Me,’ a song blessed with a melody as catchy as anything Saint Etienne ever created.

All in all this a set of songs that will appeal to the timid first time traveller into the indie world (welcome dark cool days ahead!) and to those fine hedonists that crave just another spoonful of edgy.

http://www.facebook.com/wartapes

Marco Mahler – Design in Quick Rotation (Full Album)

A review from Cobus Rossouw on Marco’s earlier release.

A review on his latest can be found here

My previousreview of the Marco Mahler instrumental efforts talked to the musical qualities of the album. The major difference between the two efforts is, obviously, the addition of vocals. It would therefore seem that the review would be as simple as commenting on the vocals and this review would be done. Perhaps. But then life happens.

I have been pondering this review for a couple of days. I thought about writing about similar vocal styles (Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples, Lou Reed et al, the fragile honest vocals some of us need to remind us that it’s not always about the technical ability). I thought about describing my unending love affair with lo-fi… but, honestly, it would sell the entire experience short, simply because a mechanistic description of the vocals or a blatant attempt at showing off how much I know about music would ignore what music is about. It’s how it makes you feel, and it’s easy to forget when you’re reviewing.

In short –this album makes me happy. I’ve had a tough few weeks and maybe this has nothing to do with you, dear reader, but if you need some music that’ll take you away, somewhere other than where you are, then Marco’s got the remedy for you. I’d get into the car and drive away from the hospital, turn on the music and select track 3, “Orange Chinese Car”. In a matter of seconds I am already feeling better, I know things will be ok and I can come back again tomorrow and face it. That’s worth the price of admission.

Somewhere in the tapestry of themes Marco has tapped into something healing and I thank him for this personally.

This album will not be for everybody. It’s not overproduced, it has no star names, no rousing choruses, no drum or guitar solos, there’s no spandex or big hair but there’s heart and soul in plentiful supply. I can’t single out any other tracks, because from Think Tank through to 1’s and 0’s, Go Crocodile and theother 6 they all dish out the same medicine, albeit in unique and interesting ways.

I want everybody to buy this album. Come on, reach into your pocket and buy it. Buy it because the Marco Mahlers of the world must keep on making music.

http://www.marcomahler.com/

End Of An Era – Carta Marina (Independent Release)

Let’s be thankful there are still bands making this sort of uncontrived anthem, slow building tunes full of heart and song craft. Songs that first time lovers can slow dance to and those weary few can get past their heartbreak with. This is a gentle youthful often rocking rolling set that is easy to dive into, sing along to.

The production is crisp and charming, the refined jangle of the guitar placed foremost in the mix, the voice soothing seemingly effortless, the lyrics( never getting anywhere near to angst) deal with matters of the personal with a commendable lightness of touch.

But if I give the impression that this is a swim through the mainstream, think again, sure some of the songs ARE a brand of alt rock that will please and soothe the masses (and this is NO bad thing), but then there are others like the two long instrumental compositions ‘Death Blossom’ and the title track which melds a delicate ambience onto elegantly restrained workouts, creating a satisfying tension anddrama.

As with the best music of this type, it is the surprises, the subtle gifts given each listen that make this EP so rewarding

http://cartamarina.bandcamp.com/

Hear trax from all these albums on Podcasts going out in November on NBT (the 12th,
18th and 25th)

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

Oh and finally NBT is on facebook.. go and ‘like the page already!

http://www.facebook.com/NBTmusicproject

The NBT Review 79

Chocolate Paper Suites – Krista Detor (Tightrope Records)

It was tempting to get all theoretical on your ass for this, to pull out my battered vinyl copy of Dylan Thomas reading a Child’s Christmas In Wales and Do Not Go gentle.. Or mull over again the mystery and sadness of how politics killed a Poet close to a Fountain of Tears, but I am, like most good listeners that will hear this collection, simply just an intelligent savage, and it is what the music and the words give to me that is important, not the brilliant inspiration for their creation.

I noted too, that the fact that these songs are animated by Lorca, Thomas and Darwin amongst others is only mentioned in the various press releases and not on the album itself. So as they say wherever good music is on trial ‘let the songs speak for themselves’

The first suite ‘Oranges Fall Like Rain’ pushes open sudden storm like, questions shudder against descriptions and the lonely brooding strings blow and wrap around the vocals ever surging forward.

The singer, the storyteller has a gift for noticing the small things, the colour of things, making these scenes live vibrant. The suite continues with dreamy piano, creating an underwater tension, the story (not the song) speeds up, the colours agitated now, there is a riot of the senses going on and it is beautiful, intensified in the third section as the singer drifts from distant to harmonic intimate.

The ‘Night Light’ begins with a slow dancing to wounded genius jazz, there is Love here, unfiltered, unashamed of how frail it may be,  this is how the world listens, that world above your rooftop, that world beyond your fence.

From this the focus shifts subtly, the warmth is gently danced away and the moon, slightly cold but swinging sweetly sets the singer apart from her previous affection. We are now there in black and pinpoint white star night, alluring sure, the now of the Dazzling has changed for the thoughtfulness of tomorrow and what it may bring.

The Bass burps into the third suite the ‘Madness Of Love’ these are hours made giddy with coffee, cigarettes and dangerous emotional chemicals, the journey here is from crush to anger (held in) to contempt and finally stopping at a weary kind of regret. Perhaps this singer knows the one deep truth, that try as we might, these journeys will take place within our life, again and again.

The fourth suite is perhaps my favourite ‘cause I too have played that dream game of wishing to have more time or replay time to want to rewrite a history of a love affair, the way I do a piece of fiction, in fact what good listener hasn’t? But the singer here doesn’t stop with this, she shifts her attention to a conversation between two souls who know or at least can guess (pretty damn well) each others moods and thoughts. Intricate love songs if you will. This is ‘By Any Other Name’

The bonus suite  ‘Darwin Song House’  (including an absolutely stunning live rendition of ‘Clock Of The World’ with guest vocals by Karine Polwart, Emily Smith and Rachael Mcshane) cleverly captures the emotions , fears and admiration of both Darwin’s detractors and those who found comfort in his beliefs. The singer ends the album with a Lullabye, a wife telling a loved one to forget the battle for now and let the profound pure love of a father for his daughter take over.

This album is inspiring, human, and full of wonder. One of the best sets of the year.

http://www.kristadetor.com

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBT podcast going out on the 22nd July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 65

Song Selection from 88 Kilos Of Sunshine

It is this writer’s prerogative to not name the songs, just play them in order from bottom to top and attempt to capture the illusion of understanding and the reality of this music’s allurement.

The instrumental starts it all. Hollywood played in an empty small town hall. The drums as willful steady as a drunk’s inconsolable rage the guitar is devious widescreen thoughtful. The Clean here is a wicked clean, a Neil Young solo tempered by intellect and latent horror. This is a tune Stretched between school boy yearning for the redemptive solo, and the modern detachment.

Then chant then confess swim in the warm bubbles of regret, this treated ocean this seductive call and wanting response. Don’t want to get lost in this?  I couldn’t, ‘’even if I tried.’’

As John Peel was known to say, ‘this one fades in slowly’’ this is warped Americana played in the old house across the road, you stop and listen on your way home and weep, and leave strangely enriched. The ragged reserve of the (treated) singing, the two personas within connects you to this drama, traces still there even as you lock your front door walk to the living room and switch on the babbling evening news.

Thank fuck for a modern pop maker whose idea of the 80s is darker than skewed memories of big hair and Duran Duran. I recall fragile 7 inch singles cased in cardboard two tone manifestos.

This song is a slow growl, scary and beautiful. That’s all that needs to be said except perhaps  listen to all the songs on the page and look for it. You will know it the second you hear it, and then your day will change slightly, no matter if you are sneaking time from office work, or surfing idle in your bedroom.

Another slow fade in, another capture of the minutia of a moment in time, this is subtle true alternative.

If you have lost your faith in the power of music to provoke and please, to entrance and edify, then this collection shall attempt to find it for you.

Go NOW and listen

http://www.reverbnation.com/88kilosofsunshine

You can hear tracks from the band on the NBT Podcast going out on the 27th May 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

And this will be the featured artist on the NBT portal page in JUNE

http://nbtmusic.de/

Also check out a couple of tunes (if you use internet explorer) on the

http://nextbigthing.co.za website (after the intro just Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page).

The NBT Review 48

Some Moths Drink The Tears Of Elephants – Boister (Piano Parasite Productions)

Ah this delightful disturbance, this redemption in the darkness. Do you know how ghostly carnival lights seem, from a distance, on a rainy night? This is the soundtrack to that feeling.

Produced by legendary maverick/storyteller Jim Dickinson, who once channeled the sweet twilight of Big Star into something eternal, this collection, seems to be ancient Pop, perhaps even tomorrow’s Americana, Though with wonderful contradiction,  there is a fragmented European soul breathing between the lines too.

It starts with a languid gasp perhaps sigh , definite slow motion thoughts catching up to the moment, the music subtly builds, the room the picture fills with detail, the story unfolds ragged yet elegant. Funeral music that makes you feel very much alive.

Then a lullaby morphs into a sly grin take on Brecht, the band swaggers, the curtains, windows, thrown open onto a vibrant street gathering, a party full of tension.

Then a drum thing that seems to be slowed fractured down sympathy for the devil grooving into horns and guitar, washing up against the vocals, then without noticing we have slid into a perfect rock song sway, a gift with gentle hooks that we will be humming months from now.

These are tunes that are built fragile, crafted intricate standing there, the title track: quick take a snapshot before it all falls down, but it never falls down, no matter how harsh the rhythms that swirl around it, rudely affectionate.

Then the weirdest thing: I hear the east, the far east, not east America, but also: I hear almost a ska thing going, I hear the islands, come on dance and Thank You.

Then invited into this strange tent at this strange market, we shiver into an exotic fumbling before the band throws another cruel ballad or three our way, and as they are wrapped in the most beautiful melodies, we catch them easy, we are captured easier.

Layered and complex, yet never contrived this is a near perfect release.

http://www.boister.net

Catch tunes from this release on the NBT Podcast going out on the 23rd Feb 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The Amchitka Concert 1970

From the Greenpeace Canada website

‘’The two-disc CD takes you back to October 16th 1970, when 10,000 people gathered in the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver to hear Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Phil Ochs and support the very first Greenpeace action ever taken – the legendary voyage to Amchitka to protest nuclear bomb testing.’’

The Protest was unsuccessful and the testing went ahead, But the War was far from lost and Greenpeace went on to become an extremely powerful Voice for those who cared about the Earth and Environment and against those politicians and business men who through action and inaction threatened the delicate balance of true nature.

NBT is proud to have been given a chance to interview Barbara Stowe, daughter of Irving Stowe, one of the founders of Greenpeace. She is author of the insightful and touching liner notes for the ‘Amchitka 1970’ CD.

NBT: Why the release NOW, why wasn’t this put out in the weeks, months, years after the actual concert, did it have to do with technical problems or getting the release of the Artist’s music from their record companies and so on?

In the beginning, Greenpeace was a local organization consisting of at most a couple of dozen volunteers, and the time and energy needed to see such a project through would have been overwhelming. We were too busy trying to stop nuclear testing worldwide!  My father would have been the logical person to consider such a thing, given his passion for music, chutzpah and his legal background.  But he got cancer and died in 1974.

My family has always hoped that Greenpeace would be able to get permissions and release this music, but just to get the ear of busy artists like Joni and James was a daunting prospect.  In 2003 my brother got the ball rolling by transferring the music to CD, and he presented my mother and myself with a CD each as Christmas presents.  He is a meticulous person and he’d timed each song and crafted a few paragraphs about the concert and the technical recording details.  He even used photos of the artists taken at the concert for the covers.  He realized he’d created something Greenpeace could use as a prototype to seek permissions, so he proposed the project to Greenpeace.  When they sent John Timmins out to Vancouver, I knew they’d found exactly the right person.  John is a founding member of the Cowboy Junkies — a renowned Canadian band — and also a Foundations Officer for Greenpeace, and given his passion for the project, his background as a professional musician, and his experience in activism, he was perfect, and we were very excited.  That was two and a half years ago.

NBT: Have you ever visited Amchitka?

Yes. I was part of the “Bering Witness” campaign in the summer of 2007, when the Greenpeace ship Esperanza sailed to Amchitka.  The whole trip totally blew my mind.

NBT: World Powers are always wanting to re-activate Nuclear Testing, in your opinion is there a solution to this problem, or will Greenpeace and others still be fighting the ‘good fight’ 20 years from now?

The solution is clear.  Nuclear weapons threaten us all, and should be eradicated from the face of the earth.  But I’m not naïve.  I suspect Greenpeace may still be fighting to end nuclear testing in 20 years time.  Nonetheless I refuse to relinquish hope, and I’m glad that leaders like President Obama and Russian President Medvedev are talking about denuclearization. Greenpeace can help hold their feet to the fire and push them to make good on their promises.

NBT: The 3 artists perform and create in ways that are very different to one another, how did this change in styles go down with the audience of the time?

There was tension because everyone wanted to hear their favorite artists, and this electricity was intensified by the fact that it was one of the most politically charged days in Canadian history.  Martial law had been declared at 4 o’clock that morning, in an attempt to quell terrorism in Quebec.  So when Phil Ochs, who is a fervent activist, got onstage and started to play, the mood was heightened. Someone put up a banner about the War Measures Act (martial law) and someone else tore it down.  And you can hear Phil on the CD, saying “I never played in a police state before”.

But people were ultimately respectful, and in this sense, the whole concert became a kind of visceral metaphor for peace.  Because there could have been real trouble, but there wasn’t.  I mean, there was zero security!  All the ushers that night were volunteers who had no experience, and everyone just sat wherever they liked…you can see in the photo, look at the floor, there are no aisles, the whole floor is covered with people sitting on every inch of it!

Part of the reason there was no trouble was respect for the cause, and part of it is down to Chilliwack, who played this brilliant set that got us on our feet dancing for joy.  I’d never heard Chilliwack live and it was a revelation.  Recently I asked Bill Henderson, the lead singer, how they did it, because one song seemed to segue magically into another, I can’t even remember any separation.  He said that the way they were playing then was to start with quiet sounds that served to ground both themselves and the audience, and then gradually develop those sounds into melodies and rhythms, and eventually find a way into one of their songs, and then into another, and so on.  It takes a lot of trust and vulnerability to do that and I think the audience really responded in kind, so that a special bond developped between performer and audience. And then, James further chilled out the crowd, I’m still amazed at how he did that, it felt like we were almost hypnotized with bliss.  He was singing us lullabies, you know, “Sweet Baby James”…”won’t you let me go down in your dreams…and rockabye sweet baby James”.  And Joni, she just let her lyrics speak: “bombers turning into butterflies above our nation”.  It was really beautiful.  I sound like I’m back in the Seventies now, don’t I?

NBT: Did you get to meet the singers? Offstage what were they like?

Phil Ochs came to our house for dinner before the concert.  He was outraged that we were under marital law. Canada was considered such a benign country, a peaceable kingdom. But Phil kept his fury in check when it came to personal relations.  He gave my brother a cigar from Cuba, which Bobby treasured for years.

When Phil came back to our house several years later on another tour I had the impression of a gentle and deeply tormented man.  He was so depressed that when I later heard of his suicide I was very much saddened but not really surprised.

I didn’t get to meet Joni, but my brother did.  He went to the airport with my father to pick them up.  He told me there was only room for one other person in the car besides my father, and that was him, and I had to go to school!  And I did!  I’m still kicking myself.  But people at school were psyched about the concert, so that was pretty cool.  My brother saw Joni and James kissing in the back seat of the limo, they were in love.

I met James backstage on a later tour. He invited us into his dressing room and he had that Southern charm.  He was extremely cool and good looking and I’m sure I blushed to the roots of my hair!

NBT: You mentioned your Dad’s love of all forms of music, in 1970 what were the Teenagers such as yourself listening to?

Some of the favorites for my crowd were Joni Mitchell; The Beatles; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Leonard Cohen; Laura Nyro; Jefferson Airplane and Simon & Garfunkel.  We also loved Chilliwack and Small Faces, and until the concert, I hadn’t heard James Taylor, but after I heard him I became a big fan.

NBT: Why is Chilliwack not on the CD?

What happened was, during the concert, my father saw a tape recorder under the stage, and he went to the sound engineer and said, “Dave, I see you’re taping this.”  Dave said yes, I always tape my concerts for technical reasons, and Dad said, I want a copy.  Then he went to the artists’ managers and asked for permission to keep the tape for personal use.  All the managers agreed, except Chilliwack’s. So the copy that my family had all these years never had Chilliwack on it.  During the past year, Bill Henderson launched a valiant search to find the master tape which might have still had Chilliwack’s portion on it, but he couldn’t find it.

NBT: The proceeds of this release, what will Greenpeace use the money for?

To support Greenpeace campaigns: climate change, forests, oceans toxics, sustainable agriculture, disarmament and peace.

NBT: In your opinion: Were the 70s more optimistic/hopeful than this day and age, could this concert have happened in 2009? This release must bring many bitter sweet memories to you; tell us how you see the Political world, the music world. Are there still free world activists willing to risk life and limb to change the status quo? 

Oh, why not ask me some hard questions, Martin? Ha ha ha ha!  Actually I love questions like this that make me think.  To answer your first question:  Was the 70’s a more optimistic and hopeful time?  It was in some ways.  Many people believed that existing power structures and institutions had to be smashed and a new way of living had to be created. In this sense the ‘70’s was more optimistic because people really believed that a more utopian, peaceful existence was possible. And the social revolutions of the Sixties and ‘70’s, the Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Gay Rights movements did so much to further change.   But these movements were driven by historic tragedy as well as hope, they were driven by anger, and by a willingness to die for a cause.  So while there was optimism, there was also this dark underside of rage and the struggle for freedom was fierce and painful.  Then there was the Vietnam War which literally tore American families apart. And the music of the day, which can’t be separated from the times, was driven by this darkness and a soul-searching at the deepest level, as well as a corresponding and opposite belief in love and hope, peace and change.  You can hear the music reflect all this, whether it’s Phil Ochs raging “I’m Not Marching Anymore” or Joni’s bombers turning into butterflies, in “Woodstock”. 

Your second question, could this concert have happened in 2009?  I don’t know.  I think great musicians like Joni, James, Phil and Chilliwack, who have so much heart and soul, will always respond to an appeal as urgent as the one to stop nuclear testing on Amchitka.  U2 is a modern example of artists responding to urgent need, on both anti-poverty campaigns and environmental campaigns.  Which, incidentally, thankfully, no longer have to be considered separate campaigns, now that anti-poverty activist Kumi Naidoo has been appointed head of Greenpeace International.  But I digress.  To get back to the point:  I believe great artists will always commit for a worthy cause, but as for the nature of the thing, that is a concert with no backup musicians, no visuals, no big screens, just one musician and a guitar commanding a huge arena?  I don’t know.

Also there is something magical in the spontaneity of these performances, perhaps because the artists didn’t know they were being recorded, which is ironic given that we’re so glad now that it was recorded.  The instant musicians step onstage nowadays a million iphones capture their every breath.  There’s something sad about that, because when you’re recording, you’re not present. It breaks the intimate connection between performer and audience, and that changes the performance.

As for the third question, how do I see the music world and the political world?  Well in terms of music I’m overwhelmed by the wealth of music now available to us! It’s wonderful, but also I think today it’s more difficult for artists because the bigger the talent pool, the more they have to fight for attention, and art and public relations don’t go together. I’d like to see artists more nurtured and respected and the almighty buck take a back seat.  When commerce takes precedence it weakens us culturally and lessens our humanity. Phil Ochs says it pretty clearly in “Chords of Fame”.

As for politics…it’s easy to live in fear and anger — the Bush Administration was driven by it — but I think the brave thing to do is to try to live in hope, no matter how difficult things become, and we couldn’t be facing greater challenges than we are in this millennium.

And as for whether there are still free world activists willing to risk life and limb to change the status quo?  Absolutely!  I saw them on the Esperanza.  Greenpeace is full of activists who are utterly committed to peaceful non-violent action.  It inspires me and gives me hope.

You will be able to hear Barbara herself say a few words and listen to trax from the CD on the NBT ‘best of 2009`Special 21st December 09

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

Learn more about the release here:

www.myspace.com/amchitka

www.twitter.com/amchitka1970

www.facebook.com/pages/Amchitka/60751539970