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REST IN POWER MIKE DREAM FRANCISCO - 40th BIRTHDAY

Posted by Billyjam, August 15, 2009 03:55pm | Post a Comment
Mike "DREAM" Francisco 1993 interview @ No Justice, No Peace art opening

Exactly forty years ago today, August 15th 1969, Mike "DREAM" Francisco was born. But instead of what should have been a landmark birthday celebration today, this August 15th is just another sad reminder to those loved ones and friends and fans of the late, great Bay Area graffiti artist of how Mike "DREAM" Francisco's life was prematurely, senselessly halted nine years ago. On February 17th, 2000 on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, DREAM was gunned down and killed, the victim of a random street robbery.  Mike DREAM Francisco

Not only was DREAM (or "King Dream," as he is referred to by many) a gifted and prolific artist, with a passion for hip-hop -- having collaborated with countless hip-hoppers, including Hobo Junction over the years -- but he was also a most outspoken individual, one concerned about his community, and one never afraid to speak out against the ills of society.

Had DREAM been allowed to live today, you can bet he would have been at the front of the protests against the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police earlier this year. In fact, in 1993 he was one of the featured artists in the anti police brutality show No Justice, No Peace at downtown Oakland's Pro Arts Gallery. Above is a rare interview with DREAM at the opening of that show by A Debonair Affair's Melinda Bell which, despite the poor audio quality, gives you a great insight into the kind of person DREAM was: down-to-earth, fun, & witty, but also most passionate about his beliefs. I first met DREAM around 1990 and was instantly struck by what a genuinely good spirited and generous person he was, always upbeat and interested in what others had to say. But what is perhaps most profound about the DREAM interview above is how he defines what "reality" means to some people, like himself, as  "to brothers like us reality is watching people die on the streets everyday!"

AMOEBA MUSIC WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP: 08:14:09

Posted by Billyjam, August 14, 2009 10:34am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: 08:14:09
DOOM

1) Mos Def The Ecstatic (Downtown)

2) Chali 2na Fish Outta Water (Decon)

3) DOOM Born Like This (Lex Records)

4) Cage Depart From Me (Def Jux)

5) Wu Tang Chamber Music (KR Urban/KOCH)

At the Berkeley Amoeba Music store this week the top selling albums are all ones that have been out for a few weeks or more but that are proving to be staples for the Summer of '09. Charting records include the latest releases from Mos Def, Wu-Tang, and Chali 2na, as well as DOOM's (aka MF Doom) recent Born Like This and Cage's Depart From Me, both of which are incidentally on Definitive Jux (aka Def Jux), the label co-founded by El-P that seemingly can do no wrong as it steadily builds a catalog of quality, lasting hip-hop in an era of the genre when there is so much clutter elsewhere.
we all we got
The OM 15 party is tonight! San Francisco based OM Records will be celebrating 15 successful years with a big show at the Mezzanine this eve (Friday, August 14) with Mark Farina, J Boogie, Whooligan and others. I just caught The Whooligan at the same venue a week ago when he was performing with 40 Love during the wonderful Amoebapalooza 2009.

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R.I.P. LES PAUL

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2009 09:50am | Post a Comment
Les Paul with Chet Atkins

Guitar legend Les Paul died today at age 94, the result of complications of severe pneumonia, according to several sources, including the New York Times and Associated Press. Read AP's full obit here of the artist who gave his name to the Gibson manufactured Les Paul guitar. According to one source, the artist, who had been playing regularly up to the time of his death, was until recently holding down a standing gig, despite the fact he was in his nineties, at New York's Iridium Jazz Club. Now that's dedication to music! Below and above are some video clips of the guitar legend. R.I.P. Les Paul.

LEGENDARY JAZZ DRUMMER RASHIED ALI PASSES

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2009 08:53am | Post a Comment
Rashied Ali
According to several sources, including citizenjazz.com, legendary jazz drummer Rashied Ali, who was one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, died yesterday at age 74. The cause of Ali's death has not yet been announced, but the artist, who did some great recordings with John Coltrane, had been active in his craft up until recently, playing with his own group, the Rashied Ali Quintet. A few years ago they recorded the double CD Judgment Day.

As well as working with Coltrane, the drummer had also recorded or performed with such artists as Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Arthur Rhames and James Blood Ulmer. As jazz legend has it, Ali was supposed to be the second drumme on John Coltrane’s 1965 landmark free jazz album Ascension in tandem with drummer Elvin Jones, but at the last minute he dropped out. Coltrane decided to scrap the two drummer scenario and proceeded to record with just Jones on percussion.  meditations coltrane

Soon after, however, Ali began to record with Coltrane. Along with Pharoah Sanders, he is a featured artist on the avant garde Coltrane album Meditations. Ali's other Coltrane collaborations included Interstellar Space in 1967 and The Olatunji Concert -- one of Coltrane's later recordings. 

A few decades ago he ran the club Ali's Alley in New York. He also worked outside of jazz music from time to time, forming the Purple Trap project with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Additionally, he made contributions to experimental, multi-media performances with such groups as The Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends, and was part of a special tribute to John Cage in Central Park. Below is a video of the late drummer along with Don Cherry (pocket trumpet) and James Blood Ulmer (guitar) in concert along with voiceover commentary on the three great improv jazz artists.

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FROM GILMAN TO THE REP, GREEN DAY KEEP IT BERKELEY

Posted by Billyjam, August 12, 2009 03:00pm | Post a Comment
Green Day
Last week the Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced the full cast for its anticipated upcoming premiere of American Idiot, a production based on the popular Green Day album of the same name, that will run at the downtown Berkeley theater from September 4 through October 11, and feature the music of Green Day and the lyrics of the longtime East Bay band's Billie Joe Armstrong. 

Even before the cast was announced, tickets were already selling briskly, fueled in good part by Green Day fans anxious to see how their fave band's 2004 album is being adapted to the stage. American Idiot is being staged by star director Michael Mayer, who won a Tony Award in 2007 for his direction of the musical adaptation of Spring Awakening, and who collaborated with Armstrong on the story. 

The stage production of American Idiot is decribed by the Berkeley Rep as one that "follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East. In an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs, they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration."

The music driven production will feature not only every song off of American Idiot, which won two Grammys -- Best Rock Album and Record of the Year -- and sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, but also several songs from Green Day's follow up to American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown, which was released a few months ago and done in a similar style to American Idiot. The team that Mayer has assembled to bring the production to the Berkeley stage includes choreographer Steven Hoggett, composer Tom Kitt, and video designer Darrel Maloney.

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