Fans of the Grateful Dead feeling bummed about not getting to attend the final Dead series of concerts recently, might consider the alternative of going to check out George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic who are currently on a summer tour that includes some free shows in New York City this week. As anyone like myself who has ever witnessed concerts by both Jerry Garcia's beloved band and by the Godfather of Funk's various funk incarnations (Parliament / Funkadelic / P-Funk All Stars) will attest, both share an approach to concerts that tend towards long extended jams that are related to "the One." So if you were among those Deadheads disappointed to not get to attend either the two anniversary Dead shows last month in Santa Clara, CA or this month's sold-out (and expensive) show series at Chicago's Soldier Field, where the four remaining members of the Grateful Dead - Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann - performed together reportedly for the last time, then I say honor Jerry and the Dead by going to see George and Parliament Funkadelic.
Detroit-born/Brooklyn-based DJ Mr. Fine Wine epitomizes that term crate digger. The longtime radio and club DJ - renowned for his vast seven inch record collection of lost soul, funk, gospel, RnB, and doo-wop 45's from the fifties, sixties, and seventies - owns a most unique and enviable record collection. This unparalleled American music record collection of over 15,000 45 records, which has resulted in being invited to curate numerous retro soul label compilations, did not appear overnight for Mr Fine Wine. Rather the DJ has invested near all his spare cash over the past two and a half decades, plus endless hours of tireless crate digging at record stores big and small (and yard sales) all over the country, including Amoeba Berkeley when he visited California a few years back. In fact, even very recently when on his honeymoon to Tampa and St. Petersburg, he couldn't resist doing a lil bit of record shopping. Luckily, his new wife Rebecca is a fellow retro soul music DJ and avid record collector who DJs under the name One Mint Julep. Hence she, unlike most new brides, was more than understanding.
Since they formed back in the 1990s, the pioneering San Francisco turntable jazz three-piece Livehuman (comprised of DJ Quest, bassist Andrew Kushin, and percussionist Albert Mathias) have been performing all over and at all kinds of venues from underground hip-hop clubs to outdoor jazz festivals. At those concerts the critically acclaimed modern jazz ensemble, who are heard everyday as theme music on San Francisco NPR outlet KALW, would do their part by performing at their very best. However how that would translate into the final mix heard by the concert goers in these venue was beyond their control since the mix was dependent on the club's sound-person. With fingers crossed, the musicians would hope that the sound person would know how to properly mix together the unique trio's individual sounds. Unfortunately, it rarely did happened that a sound man would get the Livehuman mix and blend of their three instruments just right.
Until very recently that is, thanks to new electronic gear and a whole new approach in concert for the turntable-based jazz trio. The solution to getting just the right mix desired was simple enough: they simply had to channel everything through DJ Quest's mixer. In comparison to the sound of old, the new way is a clean, clear, pitch-perfectly balanced, final mix of both Andrew's bass and Albert's various percussion sounds.
23 hip-hop summers ago back in mid-1992 the song heard everywhere across the nation (including and especially in their native Bay Area where KMEL had it on constant replay) was "Back To The Hotel" by Vallejo rap group N2DEEP. The song, which these days is heard in regular rotation on hip-hop oldies or "throwback" stations like the Bay Area's Q102, became a global hit for the Bay Area group signed to prestigious New York hip-hop label Profile Records. The album of the same name was produced by founding member Johnny Z along with the two official group members/rappers James "Jay Tee" Trujillo and Timothy "TL" Lyon. In fact the "Back To The Hotel" single (one of three from the successful album along with "Toss Up" and "The Weekend") was such a big hit for the prolific North Bay crew, that it overshadowed all their other work and hence would garner them in later years that unfortunate tag of "one-hit-wonder" status by such outlets as Complex magazine and BuzzFeed. That is too bad since N2DEEP recorded so much more equally great music (before and after) as the beloved "Back To The Hotel" song, which the average pundit mistakenly believed was their debut single. That song wasn't meant to be a single, or even initially titled "Back To The Hotel" but rather "Telly" when it was released a year earlier in 1991 on Johnny Z's Vallejo-based indie label Rated Z Recordz. Hence for this Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog, I caught up with mastermind behind the song, Johnny "Z" Zunino, to go back in time to the early 1990's and jog his memory about N2DEEP, their recordings before their big hit single, and to find out why they changed the title and their original group name ("3DEEP"). That conversation appears immediately below the video for the 1992 Profile single.
Ireland's economy may not be in quite as dire a state as that of some of its fellow European nations such as Spain or Greece where current unemployment rates are 22% and 25% respectively. Ireland's unemployment rate is still high at 10%. But with constant economic cutbacks, diminishing public programs, and increasing living costs including the controversial proposed water charges that drew huge protests in the nation's capital, Ireland is far removed from its bygone economic boom years. Long gone are those lush years of its economic growth when everyday conversations focused on purchasing second and third homes. Nowadays austerity is the word you're more likely to hear as well as complaints about the Irish government and politicians in general who, along with bankers that got rich off the short-lived boom years, are disliked by so many in the Emerald Isle.
Tapping into and perfectly articulating that national feeling of contempt for the elite powers (government and corporations) is Irish rapper Tommy KD whose latest single "Satan's Government" (video below that was shot in part during the aforementioned water-charge protests) vents the feelings felt that so many in Ireland and across Europe. The powerful single - his follow-up to "Bag Of Gear" (also produced by Hazo) previously featured on the Amoeblog contains the chant-along refrain "The Goverment I hate them. They belong to Satan. Everything the people own; they've gone out and taken. And we are all forsaken at the hands of these greedy statesmen." Mincing no words he also raps "Fuck them in The Dail [Irish government] and "Fuck the Mayor and the President." Elsewhere he offers that, "No political party will bring about change until we change the system" and how, "The government rebuke every promise they make and doctor the truth…and they say fuck the working class, no hopers……..The good old days of the Celtic Tiger are over!"