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

 

 

 

 

 

The NBT Review 17

Fathomless Tales From Leviathan’s Hole – Phyllis Sinclair (Independent Release)

 

This is a true story. Wanting these tales, these personal songs to sink deeper into my soul, so that I could write about them with hopefully more depth, I walked around my city with them unfurling endless, serene on my player.

And

I found myself seeking out the parks, the giant trees, the places where gold autumn colours would dance in the wind. I watched couples, old women, children play or merely sit thoughtful on benches and catch the fragile sunlight when they could.

Then

I was taken to places and situations this gentle protester wrote and sung about. I was taken to places and shown situations that this quiet storyteller had seen, captured and created.

Many of the songs are laced through with an aching feel of loss, of the kind of sadness that in lesser hands could wrap despair around the SoulBody and make us seek out only the destructive shadows. Sinclair knows the Sadness must be released, but she brings hope and the knowledge of history and enlightenment, letting the sadness become a healthy, necessary way of accepting all that is terrible.

Some of these tunes are personal snapshots, we feel honoured to share, some are painted on a broader canvas of the recent past, all tell of a life far removed from the city I listened to them in. and it is a mark of this collections power that I spent an afternoon finding out more about the towns and travels revealed so beautifully and subtle.

Find out more, read lyrics and buy the album here

http://www.phyllissinclair.com

 

…And Then Some – Luke Jackson (Popsicle Recordings)

Sweden, England, Canada. That these songs were created, caressed, seduced and orchestrated in  these countries  would matter very little if their pop beauty was flawed or, even worse, boring.

These songs will capture the fussy Wall Street fast talker, the jaded Berlin intellectual, the grinning fashion disaster swooning through London’s High Street.

These songs are timeless and belong everywhere, no boundaries or borders in this world.

Take opening track ‘Come Tomorrow’, (And many will, this is a song that will drive mothers crazy as their daughters sing it endlessly and husbands hum it every chance they get) a jangle confection of harmonies and guitar, like the Byrds just took happy pills or The Beach Boys discovering New Wave.

Take ballad, ‘A Little Voice’ recalling old Elektra Vinyl, the stop and listen orchestrations flowing around the fragile folk. Or ‘ Half A World away,’ a strange mix of the half cousin of a New order song and a long lost Americana Power Pop revolutionary.

The Whole album is like this, each play is a delightful surprise. A Brand New ‘Been There Forever’

Find out more and links to buy this album

http://www.myspace.com/luke_jackson

Catch tracks and words from both these artists on the NBT Podcast going out on the 31st Oct

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The Manik Music Rant episode ONE

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Chris Moon aka Manik plays in several strange and wonderful ‘difficult alternative’ bands and will be hosting the NBT offshoot podcast for darker music ‘Bullets From The Belfry’ starting in feb 2008.

 http://www.myspace.com/manikmoon 

An alternative dj in South Africa…that in itself is an oxymoron…look, I love music, i just feel that everyone else should feel the same.

My musical appreciation started in the 70’s, and like any young lad if it was loud and raucous it was great. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep ruled the roost, Status Quo and Thin Lizzy were heroes and David Bowie the ultimate rebel. A couple of friends and I started a mobile ‘disco’  because we wanted to bounce around to the kind of music we liked, not the drek dished out at the local school hop.

By the late 70’s, rock was disappearing up its own sphincter and the disco kids wanted Donna Summer and Saturday Night Fever – on repeat. I wanted something else – I ‘found’ The Ramones, my mates were distressed, what’s this, no complicated chord structures and no guitar solos, no nodding along knowingly. On the disco kids’ side….no shiney shirts, doo-wop choruses and carefully synchronised  dance moves to a bog-standard m.o.r. beat….. I abandoned the mobile disco thing. Look, I know a dj  , is supposed to, play to the crowd, but what do you do when the crowd knows squat? 30 years later, things haven’t changed. Alternative to me is exploring new sounds, new experience, new innovations, these days I get requests for tracks 20/30 years old!! Not that I’m averse to the odd classic, mind, but Siousxie Siousx’s (bless her) ‘Peek-A-Boo’  aint one- not with the wealth of what the Banshees have put out….(She has a new album, its great, what do you mean you can’t dance to it ‘cos you haven’t heard it the necessary 15.4 times?). 

South Africa is small, musically (yes it has a wealth of ethno-centric music, but we are talking ‘rock’ here). There has always been a  serious lack of exposure to new music – back in the 70’s there was one radio station that played ‘pop’, by the 80’s on that there was one dj who attempted to break new ‘alternative’ music. The only place to hear music even remotely off the mainstream was in music clubs – discos by any other name- and they were few and far between. Being a small market means directly that in heads through the door, alternative music had/ still has a very small market. Clubs that cater for such don’t last long, those that do, some become legend, some bland out and cater to the masses. I don’t like the term ‘alternative’ any more, its meaningless, its been out-marketed. Alternative today means ‘rock-in-general’, quite frankly, an alternative to R n B, house, ‘disco’. Labels are evil – look, I go to a ‘goth’ club today and hear…….well basically house with gloomy vocals..hooray, either that or metal…. *clicks on rant mode * 

Metal aint goth!!, It aint even ‘alternative’ (in the original context), its distorted testerone-driven over amplified play-by-numbers drivel performed by misanthropes with bad make-up and no sense of humour!!

 

*end of rant *

 Anyway, where was I…..there was a time I’d nip down the nearest (only?) alternative club and hear a wide variety of sounds, from electronica to rockabilly, ska to rock, metal even, ‘disco’ even. The emphasis was on new, ground-breaking, the only skill being to keep a thread going. Clubs that would be a meeting place of like minded- music freaks, alternative in music, alternative in thought. A place where some eager young pack with a couple of instruments between them would have the opportunity to do stuff – good or bad!! Dodgy photostatted fliers with forthcoming events, always something happening, something new, something to look forward to over a few pints – a musical meet-n-greet! Glory days.  We’ve gone backwards, that’s gone. Now, music has become so Balkanised that you’ll hear one genre-all night- each ‘artist’ trying to sound like each other, the only skill demanded that the dj ‘beat-mix’ , the only demand that the dj keep the dance floor packed the masses catered for and soothed with similar sounding, uncomplicated rhythm-pah! As cutting edge as a plastic butter knife. The internet-good and bad – good that its a never before dreamed of wealth of access to new music, at your fingertips, listen to it NOW. Bad in that it is also a wealth of bands that sound like bands that sound like…..Bad in that, hey, why go to a club when all I need is here, why go and physically interact with real people with other real interests in other things, other music………    

The NBT Music Columns : The CyberPR Blog (Ariel Publicity)13

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Man Behind the Monitor: Bill Prevost of rifRadio

 Aside from being a steadfast advocate of the unheard underdogs, Bill Prevost of rifRadio meshes cause related substance with entertainment on his Internet station “Radio Iraqi Freedom.”

 T:  How did rifRadio get its start?

B:  I’ve always been a big defender of the underdog. About four years ago, I got increasingly tired of the way that our military was being constantly disrespected and maligned by the mainstream media. I decided that the best way to show my support was to create a music station that might bring a little bit of home to them wherever they were. You can’t do this over the airwaves unless you are fortunate enough to get a large conglomerate like Clear Channel to syndicate you and that was not financially feasible for me. But the Internet, now that was a possibility. It’s not as restricted and I was allowed more freedom. The “rif” in rifRadio stands for “Radio Iraqi Freedom” and will be forever dedicated to those who put their lives on the line everyday so that I can do this. Something that should never be forgotten. If you want an idea of the alternative take a look at what China is doing with the Internet. ‘Nuff said.

T:  What encouraged you to dive into Internet Radio as opposed to other forms of broadcast?

B:  I think what I liked most was the freedom to do things the way that I thought they should be done. Not having to follow the archaic protocols and standards that the regulated industries have adopted. For instance, I play complete albums because the artists of that album had a particular message or idea that they were trying to convey. I’m not going to get into any deep discussion about this, I don’t think that I need to. A few examples of this though would be almost any Pink Floyd, Yes, or Alan Parsons Project album. Even Boston’s first album, the one that they cut in their basement because the record companies said that they weren’t good enough, has a very fluid format.

Boston, Brad Delp in particular, also was the encouragement to me to listen to “Indie” music. I’m the person that watches the movies that the critics give thumbs down to. I find that they are usually better than the ones that they do like. For the last few years, the big music companies been sitting around whining about piracy and downloads. This is not because the artists lose out. To the contrary, it’s because they lose out. A couple of great reference articles are interviews with David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead) in the January 2008 issue of Wired Magazine. They have seen the industry eat artists on a daily basis. It used to be all about the money. Not how much the artist would make, but how much they would make at the expense of the artist. They also have seen the future and it is a future that benefits the artist as well as the industry. In my opinion, (and I say “in my opinion” only out of some sense of political correctness, something I greatly despise), the recording industry downfall began with the likes of Madonna. Think about it. Could you imagine Robert Plant, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton or any of the greats of the past with backup dancers? Alvin Lee, (Ten Years After) wrote a line that I think says it all. “Go tell Madonna it don’t do nothin’ for me”. Why is it necessary to have 38DD and big asses bouncing around the stage? Don’t you think it kind of distracts from the guy that spent his life learning to play the 12-string or the message that the band is trying to get across?

There is so much talent out there that isn’t getting out because the recording industry starts to milk them for money the second that they get any recognition. You can’t make it if you don’t pay. How ridiculous. If that doesn’t stifle creativity and ambition, what does? Groups like TSC (Te Stone Coyotes), Jupiter One, Blood Red Sun, Telling On Trixie, artists like Pete Berwick, Papa Satch, and Bill Kelly are where the future of music lies. I sincerely hope that they read the articles that I mentioned.  The sky is the limit if they get it right.

I was fortunate to have found CyberPR (arielpublicity.com). Of all of the publicity companies that I am in communication with, they have what I consider some of the best talent available. I’ve found that they can distinguish between the good ones and the great ones.

T:  As a radio broadcaster, do you have a favorite radio personality that you’ve been inspired by?

B:  In music radio, no. I have tried to combine the attributes of three stations that I grew up listening to in the 70′s and early 80′s. I’m from the Denver area and back then we had a station called KLZ FM, (they later became KAZY). I had a friend at the time that was a DJ. I would go as a guest with him to a little place in the bottom of the Brooks Towers called Ebbets Field when he would MC. I listened to such greats as Leo Kottke and Lynyrd Skynyrd, (a few days after their release of “Pronounced”) and others. Unfortunately it became too commercial as time went by and I switched to KBCO in Boulder. I liked their laid back style and my favorite DJ was Ginger. They too became very commercial over time and that led me to the Ft. Collins college station KTCL. The students ran it and occasionally they would “buck the system”. They also played local music and the stuff you didn’t hear on commercial FM. Those days are gone. I try to do the same now. I still have to play the stuff everyone remembers, but I can also slip in the stuff that you only heard if you bought the album.

T:  What is the biggest challenge you face as an Internet Radio station manager?

B:  It would probably be promotion. I have an edge as I did concentrate on the military. I’ve been told that I am one of a very few Internet radio stations allowed on bases, but as you can guess, I have no way of knowing other than word of mouth. I am working on some new and exciting ways of promoting my station, but I don’t want to fall into the same old commercial trap. You can get that anywhere.

T:  What advice would you give an aspiring station manager looking to grow their listener base?

B:  I could tell you that but then I’d have to kill you. No, I guess I would just say do what feels good. The Internet is wide open. Use it wisely. Try to get an idea of what people want and make it work with what you want. Respect your listeners; they are what it is about. Find a cause or ideal that you want to advance and do so with intensity and respect. I can’t say that word enough. I have two. The appreciation of those who would die for me and the advancement of what I see as the future of music. Self-marketing and incredible talent are the next wave in the music industry. I’m a firm believer that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The rewards are security, accomplishment and satisfaction.

T:  What’s next for rifRadio?

B:  I want to be the source for “Indie” music. I want someone to call up a band or artist and say, “I heard you music on rifRadio”. I want the talent that is sitting out there to say, “I sent a demo to rifRadio….”. I am dealing with what I consider to be the best publicity agent out there right now. Eventually, I will have to expand, but for the immediate future I have every confidence in what I am doing and whom I associate with.

If I can make this thing work, I have plans to build a recording studio catering to Independents. I’m out in the middle of nowhere. I wake up to moose and deer in my yard.  I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I have fiberoptic Internet and all the amenities that I need. This would be the perfect place. I even have a producer in mind. I’m a long way from that, but not deterred. My station has been climbing steadily in my server’s ratings and my ideas to make it even better are just starting. I do believe that I will achieve my goals.

 

To check out what’s playing on rifRadio now, visit: http://www.rifradio.net

 For the complete interview with Bill, including a few referrals to insightful articles about the landscape of the music industry, check out: https://nbtmusic.wordpress.com/

The NBT Music Columns : The CyberPR Blog (Ariel Publicity)9

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Aliens From The Planet Zoltar

 An Interview with Todd Wachtel, host and founder of The Jersey ToddShow

 How did the Jersey ToddShow get its start?

 I drive to Court everyday, and my commute is about an hour and a half.  There was only so much “Wacky Morning Zoo” that I could possibly take.  Eventually,I stumbled onto some great podcasts that promoted indie bands, and I was absolutely hooked. Here was a medium completely uncontrolled by big business that allows me to hear bands that I never would through commercial channels. After a few months of listening to other podcasters, I realized that I could do it, too. As far as the essays, I’ve always been ranting in my head about one thing or another – so if you want to hear some music, you’re stuck hearing me ramble too. It’s a small price to pay.

 What advice/tips would you give an aspiring podcaster looking to expand their audience?
 
Network. Network. Network. Get in the communities, be it Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace. I truly believe that a rising tide rises all boats, and any success my show has had was due to the contributions and assistance of the Podcaster and listener community.

 Since Jersey is in he name of the show, do you subscribe to the New York/New Jersey rivalry?

Johnny Sack died in Federal Prison, while Tony Soprano is eating onion rings in a diner in North Jersey. I don’t think there’s much of a rivalry anymore.

You made an interesting contrast between the RIAA and the Islamic religoin, can you summarize that for our readers?

 I was having some fun, of course. (I pander to the jihadists and not the RIAA Execs.) In short, my theory is that the Muslim extremists are very upset about the Westernization of their culture, and I respect that very much. The Muslim religion is beautiful, and promotes freedom, sharing, and respect. The RIAA helps to promote ugly women who walk the streets without their heads being covered (Celine Dion), restriction on the free-flow of art, and lawsuits against grandmothers.  I think if the extremists knew who their real target of protest is, we’d all get along a lot better. Of course, its not something to lose your head over, and besides if I ever have to hear another Backstreet Boys single, I’d cut my own ears off. 

You obviously have a strong stance in terms of the RIAA, as we find this posted at the top of your site:

“I can’t believe that I missed the obvious joke:

From KChrisH on Twitter:
“@jerseytodd: every time an RIAA exec gets beheaded, an angel gets its wings :P (ref: show 103)””

Is there anything you feel that a fairly knowledgeable music professional might not know about the current situation with the RIAA?

They are aliens from the planet Zoltar sent here to enslave our planet through the subliminal messages on the newest Kidz Bop album. In all serious, every artist should take a look at the specific language of the RIAA and realize that there is “opt-out” language involved and a very specific procedure to not have the RIAA collect their revenues.  Its one way an artist can say that I don’t dig you suing single-mothers or children for irrational damages on my behalf.


Do you see a solution that can please all sides?

 Now that artists can effectively market themselves and distribute content electronically, the labels are going to need to seriously need to reevaluate their purpose. I’m not saying that music should be 100% free, and as a producer of content I support copyright protection – but the models need to change.

From a legal perspective, I think that a Judge needs to step up and challenge the RIAA on how they are deriving their damage claims, and I think legislators need to clean up the language in the Copyright Act. The market for a song is .99. If someone violates an artist’s copyright, that is what they should be require to pay in a civil court per song as compensatory damages.  I would even support punitive damages, if they were reasonable. But, in particularly egregious Check out the great music now spinning on The Jersey ToddShow (www.jerseytoddshow.com) 

The NBT Music Columns: Music and Politics

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Holly Wood aka musician/songwriterFat and Furry writes for NBTsee more of her incredible art and listen to her music here

www.artfangs.com

 Music and Politics 

The use of music to criticize and satirize the society we see around us is an impulse as old as the creation of music and song itself. Even the very first traveling bards and minstrels whose role it was to go from place to place bringing tribesmen and villagers up to date on the happenings in the wider world outside could not refrain from putting  a political spin on the battles and intrigues that they sang about. We see plenty of very graphic political and gossipy graffiti in places like the ruins of Pompeii, and it is not much of a stretch to imagine that there would always have been some wise-ass with a lyre or flute in the bars and tavernas taking pot shots at local political figures.  And of course, the catchier the music, the more people listened, remembered the song, and passed it around. In England and the US at least, our old Mother Goose nursery rhymes  are an historical treasure trove of period political doggerel and street songs; some dating all the way back to the Middle Ages.

 In ancient days bards and minstrels had a kind of immunity because they were carriers of the news that everyone needed to hear, and repositories of the history of a people. they got food and a place to sleep in return for their music. Even today, some ghost of that ancient immunity survives in the relative freedom of expression that musicians have to deal with touchy and inflammatory subjects, especially if it’s done with humor and wit. (but officer, captain, lieutenant, general- It’s just harmless entertainment! Just a silly – little – song!) George Bernard Shaw said “If you’re going  to tell the truth, you’d better make them laugh- Otherwise they’ll kill you.”

 In very repressive circumstances, political statements have had to be carefully couched and concealed in historical parallels, imaginary plots, almost in code. Constantly watched by the steely eye of Stalin, Dimitri Shostakovich said what he needed to say, even though his musical works were mercilessly picked apart word by word, almost note by note, by Stalin personally. He lived and composed in fear of his life, and his health was ruined because of it.

 But humorous or serious, music has a power that the forces of repression haven’t been able to kill. songs have the power to inspire and keep hope alive in a dark place. They have been passed from prisoner to prisoner. Of course, music has always been effectively used by the forces of repression as well. Who can deny the hypnotic power of a fascist anthem being shouted out by thousands of people at a rally (or concert)? However, when respective lyrics are examined, songs that are composed for ideologies of power and domination are empty posturing, designed to close your heart and make it hard. All the truth, beauty, and real inspiration is on the side of songs sung for an ideal. They expand your spirit, open your heart, and make you feel there’s something worth living for.

 All that being said, I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I’m a fan of drippy, sad-bastard faux-folk protest music. My personal motivational music is more like James Brown, Rammstein, and the one perfect album put out by the Electric Six, “Señor Smoke”.

 

Peace, love, courage- Holly Wood/Fat and Furry  

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