Sunday, July 29, 2007

John Vanderslice

The name of his latest release is Emerald City, and while you may not find any men behind curtains, John Vanderslice does once again perform musical wizardry. Paste Magazine proclaims, "Emerald City is vividly imagined yet subtle in tone, with conflicted character sketches unfolding around somber synth melodies, creaky electronic effects, and fuzzy acoustic guitar strums. Vanderslice is a master storyteller."

Barsuk Records is also releasing a vinyl version of Emerald City. In the meantime, Vanderslice is hitting the road from August to October. Check out the Barsuk website for his "time To Go" video.

mp3: White Dove

Barsuk Records
myspace page

Photo by Autumn DeWilde

Rocky Votolato

The fifth release from Rocky Votolato, the brag and cuss, is out now on Barsuk Records. this time, Votolato comes with a full band that features James McAllister (Sufjan Stevens) on drums, Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) on bass, Casey Foubert (Pedro the Lion) on electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and percussion, and Rick Steff (Catpower, Hank Williams, Jr.) on Hammond b3, piano, and accordion.

Magnet Magazines writes, "Votolato has a gift for making the bleakest misery sound inviting, with just enough sweetness to go down smooth and melodies so pretty they can almost make the pain go away."

A vinyl version is also available.

Barsuk Records

mp3: Postcard From Kentucky

photo by Alicia J. Rose

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Cult

Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy will be releasing their first full length disc in more than six years. The release, titled Born Into This, will be unleashed by their new label, Roadrunner Records. The Cult recently completed a series of arena rock dates, opening for The Who. A US tour will follow in the fall.

Finally, Canada's Fontana North will release the HD DVD The Cult New York City on August 28th. According to the band's website,, "The performance was recorded at The Filmore in New York City at the end of the band's 2006 US tour, and includes the following tracklisting: 'Lil' Devil', 'Sweet Soul Sister', 'Electric Ocean', 'The Witch', 'Spiritwalker', 'Revolution', 'Rain', 'The Phoenix', 'Edie (Ciao Baby)', 'Fire Woman', 'Wonderland', 'Peace Dog', 'Rise', 'Wildflower', 'Love Removal Machine', 'Nirvana', 'She Sells Sanctuary'.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gaudi & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

London based producer and artist, Gaudi, has reinterpreted the music of Pakistan's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in a new CD entitled Dub Qawwali. The title comes from the style of music Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan performed, Qawwali, and the dub style Gaudi used to reinterpret his music.

Here's how the Six Degrees Records website describes this unique collaboration:

"Gaudi has taken an entirely new approach to re-interpreting the work of this great artist. He has created a collection of new compositions in which the original vocals are seamlessly fused with a full spectrum of dub & reggae styles and musical themes & flavors from other cultures, genres and environments. A universal theme of peace and love, very much evident in both Khan's work and at the heart of reggae music, is the unifying element."

The CD is slated for release this coming Tuesday, July 31st, on Six Degrees Records. Gaudi is also working on a solo release for 2008.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Parts & Labor Seek New Drummer

After dazzling fans and critics with their latest full length, Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar, May 2007), and slaying audiences across the U.S. on their recent headlining tour, Parts & Labor bid a fond farewell to Chris Weingarten and issued an open letter to the world in search of a new drummer:

"After nearly three years of bashing, we're sad to report that our drummer, Christopher Weingarten, is leaving Parts & Labor. Chris is moving on to more rigorously pursue his work as a music editor and writer. He's the editor in chief at, and will soon be penning a book about Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" for the esteemed Thirty Three And A Third book series."

The band is currently searching for a new drummer. They must be able to tour a minimum of four months out of the year, starting this fall with trips in the UK/Europe as well as the U.S.

For further information, email Parts & Labor at

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Damien Jurado

Mr. Jurado is going to be one busy beaver over the next several months. First, he will embark on a five week US tour with Okkervil River beginning in September. In the meantime, Jurado and his bandmates, Eric Fisher and Jenna Conrad, will enter the studio with Casey Foubert to knock out the follow-up to last year's And Now That I'm in Your Shadow.

mp3: What Were the Chances

Here's a video from a May 31st performance at Seattle's Tractor Tavern on YouTube.

Secretly Canadian Records

myspace page

Friday, July 20, 2007

Obituary: Sekou Sundiata

Gifted Poet Sekou Sundiata
(August 22, 1948 -- July 18, 2007)
by Louis Reyes Rivera Results

On Wednesday, July 18, 2007, at 5:47a.m. (ET), poet Sekou Sundiata passed away. A highly esteemed performing poet, Mr. Sundiata wrote for print, performance, music and theater. Born Robert Franklin Feaster in Harlem, on August 22, 1948, Sundiata came of age as an artist during the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

While attending the City College of New York (CCNY), where he began reciting poetry publicly, Sundiata converged with several other student activists, including once-mayoral candidate of Pittsburgh and longtime friend, Leroy Hodge, to form the basis for what soon became known as the Black and Puerto Rican Student Community of City College (BPRSC). This phalanx of 400 students soon made their own history, closing the 21,000-student campus during the Spring of 1969, to demand, among other things, that CCNY be renamed Harlem University. The net effect of the student takeover culminated in both an Open Admissions Policy that took effect in September 1970, the full legitimization of ethnic studies departments throughout the nation, as well as the requirement that all education majors within the City University take courses in African American History and to have Spanish as a Second Language.

Among his acknowledged mentors at City were Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, and fellow student Louis Reyes Rivera, with whom Sundiata helped to establish the first Black student newspaper in the City University, CCNY's The Paper. Their association would span close to forty years of mutual respect and admiration.

Upon completing his Bachelor's Degree (circa 1974), Sundiata enrolled and completed his Master's in Creative Writing while regularly producing community-based poetry readings that were known to draw SRO crowds. In 1976, his creative sensibilities, his innate organizing skills, and his associations with a convergent generation of excellent poets, musicians and dancers immediately led to a collaborative project he directed that would commemorate 100 years of Black struggle for freedom and Human Rights. Titled The Sounds of the Memory of Many Living People (1863-1876/ 1963-1976) , this production, which included upcoming novelist Arthur Flowers and such poets as Safiya Henderson-Holmes, BJ Ashanti, Tom Mitchelson, Louis Reyes Rivera, et al, was staged in Harlem over a period of two days, signaling much of what was to come from Sekou's sense of vision, steadily breaking ground for what was then a new literary genre, Performance Poetry, fully anticipating elements of both Hip Hop Culture and Spoken Word Art.

In 1977, the aforementioned poets, along with Zizwe Ngafua, Rashidah Ismaili, Fatisha (Hutson), Sandra Maria Esteves, Akua Lezli Hope, Mervyn Taylor, and Sekou, among others, formed the Calabash Poets Workshop, which group signaled the arrival of a new literary heat in New York, regularly producing soirees and forums (1977-1983) that included all of the arts and culminated in a three-year attempt (1979-1982) to establish an independent Black Writers Union.

His first book of poetry, FREE! (Shamal Books) was published in 1977, and was soon followed by his first vinyl album (circa 1980), Are & Be,. Immediately, Sekou was dubbed by Amiri Baraka as "the State of the Art." Since then, Mr. Sundiata established a longtime relationship with CCNY's Aaron Davis Performing Arts Center, through which venue he intermittently produced new material for the stage, consistently collaborating with musicians, dancers and actors. He was eventually selected for a number of earned fellowships, including a Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow, a Columbia University Revson Fellow, a Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (Florida), and as the first Writer-in-Residence at the New School University in New York, in which university's Eugene Lang College he remained a professor.

He was, as well, among those featured in the Bill Moyers' PBS series on poetry, The Language of Life, and in Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on HBO.

Among several highly acclaimed performance theater works in which he served as both author and performer are: The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop, which toured nationally and received three AUDELCO Awards and a BESSIE Award; The Mystery of Love, commissioned and produced by New Voices/ New Visions at Aaron Davis Hall in New York City and the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia; and Udu, a music theater work produced by 651 ARTS in Brooklyn and presented by the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, the Walker Art Center and Penumbra Theater in Minneapolis, Flynn Center in Burlington, VT, the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and Miami-Dade Community College in Florida. Throughout this period and since 1985, he developed a close association with co-collaborator and legendary trombonist Craig S. Harris.

blessing the boats, Sundiata's first solo theater piece, an exploration into his own personal battles with kidney failure, opened in November 2002 at Aaron Davis Hall, NYC. It has since been presented in more than 30 cities and continued to tour nationally. In March 2005, Sundiata produced The Gift of Life Concert, an organ donation public awareness event at the Apollo Theater that kicked off a three-week run of blessing the boats at the Apollo's SoundStage. in partnership with the Apollo Theater Foundation, the National Kidney Foundation and the New York Organ Donor Network with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since 2006, his the 51st (dream) state has been presented throughout the U.S. and in Australia. Both blessing the boats and the 51st (dream) state were produced in collaboration with MultiArts Projects and Productions (MAPP). In addition to working within community engagement activities at Harlem Stages/Aaron Davis Hall, the University of Michigan and University Musical Society (Ann Arbor, MI), the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC), the University of Texas Austin (Austin, TX), in Miami Dade College (Miami, FL), and the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, Sundiata has appeared as a featured speaker and artist at the Imagining America Conference (Ann Arbor, MI), at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA), and at the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference (Minneapolis, MN), among others. Prior to his demise, he was engaged in producing a DVD documenting the America Project for use by universities and presenters as a model for art and civic engagement.

In addition to the 1979 Are & Be album, Sundiata's other releases include a second album,
The Sounds of the Memory of Many Living People, and two CDs, The Blue Oneness of Dreams, nominated for a Grammy Award, and longstoryshort. Each of these works are rich with the sounds of blues, funk, jazz and African and Afro-Caribbean percussion, with the latter two featuring Craig Harris.

He is survived by his mother, Virginia Myrle Feaster, his wife, Maurine Knighton, daughter Myisha Gomez, stepdaughter Aida Riddle, grandson Amman, brothers William Walter and Ronald Eugene, sister Devona, as well as a host of relatives, admirers, students and friends.

A private funeral service of family and friends is scheduled for Saturday, July 21, and a commemorative celebration of his life and work is scheduled to take place on August 22, his birthday. Details to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in the name of Sekou Sundiata to the New York Organ Donor Network or to the National Kidney Foundation. Results

Louis Reyes Rivera, aka the Janitor of History, is a highly respected underground poet who has assisted in the publication of over 200 books, including John Oliver Killens' Great Black Russian, and Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam. He has taught courses on Pan-African, Caribbean and Puerto Rican literature and history. Among his own works is the award-winning Scattered Scripture, a translation of history into poetry. He can be heard Thursdays, at 2pm, on WBAI, 99.5FM (streamed at hosting Perspective, and may be reached at