Rickey Vincent - the veteran Bay Area funkateer, radio DJ, University of California-Berkeley professor, and author of the bible of funk music (Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One (St. Martin's Press) is back with a new book that beautifully melds two of the author's passions - the history of local music and politics - and this month has doing some readings in San Francisco of his book. Next week he will be at the Main Public Library on Wednesday Feb 26th. "Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music" - recently published by Chicago Review Press is the story the short-lived five member funk band The Lumpen who, back in the late 60's/early 70's in Oakland, were the Black Panthers house band. Little known for many years after the fact the Lumpen were a close knit collective of activist musicians who used music and song as their medium to deliver their revolutionary ideology with the record "Free Bobby Now" about Bobby Seales. Even Vincent, a scholar on funk and local music, did not know about The Lumpen until he randomly found out about them about. Vincent instantly knew he had to learn more about the Lumpen, their music, and their historical impact, and to share this information with the public at large. The result is Party Music which neatly ties together the black music tradition with the black activist tradition. This week I caught up with Rickey Vincent to ask him about his new book, the significance of its content, and what to expect at his San Francisco book reading next week.
While Californians have been stressing over the drought and lack of water, back in New York City the opposite scenario has been playing out with people here praying for a reprieve from the seemingly never
Another thing that distinguishes New York from most other US cities is its large out of control rodent population with thet age old estimate being that there are four rats to every person in New York City - meaning approximately 32 million rats dwell throughout New York. Hence it is not surprising to see them scurrying anywhere in NYC - not just in subways and parks - but near (or inside) eateries too sometimes. Hence many here in the Big Apple were happy to learn about, via the Gothamist site this week, about the rat map of New York that was created by New Yorker Steven Melendez who, based on data from Health Dept. restaurant inspections, drew up his map of what places to avoid - provided you do not wish to visit restaurants that have received fines/citations for "evidence of rats or live rats" or even mice. Based on citations from 2013 his map is broken in to zip codes for places with citations and gradings by the NYC Health Dept. Note that a restaurant that was cited for mice and/or rats in its most recent graded inspection will have a C grade. His unsettling but informative rat map shows that some areas, such as the NY 10128 zip code on the Upper East Side where huge construction is underway for the 2nd Avenue Subway, have a serious rodent restaurant problem. The Queens Village/Bellaire area of Queens also has a lot of rodents with a shocking 61% of its eateries having being cited for rat or mice infestation. Yikes! NYC Rat Map left with the darker shades indicating zip codes with higher density of eatery rodent citations.
And what does Shortkut see as the one major difference between hip-hop videos back then and the ones being produced nowadays? "Videos then were on some hip-hop, not rap shit," he replied without missing a beat. Since Shortkut regularly incorporates videos, like the ones in his Vimeo video mix above, when out in the clubs I wondered if club-goers/hip-hop fans often get so disrtracted by the cool visuals of these classic videos that they forget to dance? No he assured me, adding, "Thats why on my rider I make it mandatory to have the screen directly in back of me so they can put the two together." Before letting him go, I asked the hardworking DJ Shortkut of the golden era videos/songs in his above mix, which ones were his personal top three faves?
As it has for the past four weeks, tonight's installment of True Detectives, HBO's new excellent noir murder mystery set in the deep south starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey , will kick off, what is sure to be another nail-bitingly engaging episode, with its eerily moving opening main title theme song "Far From Any Road" by The Handsome Family (Carrot Top Recods). The track, which is available as a download from Amoeba.com, is not just an excellent song by itself but it has the distinction of being one of those perfectly chosen TV show theme songs. That's thanks to the show's music supervisor, musician T-Bone Burnett. For last week's crazy amped-up, adrenaline-fueled show (no spoilers here in case you are a latecomer to this TV series) that followed three slower-paced story-setting episodes, Burnett handpicked more excellent accompanying songs from a wide array of artists from blues to rap and rock, including Slim Harpo, Melvins, Bo Diddley, Boogie Down Productions, Primus, Wu-Tang Clan, and (Nick Cave's) Grinderman (the manic sounding "Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)").