Amoeblog

The Legend of Lead Belly Lives On With New Documentary and Releases

Posted by Billyjam, February 25, 2015 12:50pm | Post a Comment
He may have died 66 long years ago but the highly influential Delta blues artist Lead Belly's music is very much alive and well, as witnessed by the two new Lead Belly releases having dropped this month (Black History Month) - two CD releases whose content overlaps somewhat. A few weeks ago the Lead Belly / Woody Guthrie 1940 New York City radio station session WNYC Radio New York 12th December 1940 CD arrived in Amoeba via Keyhole Records. And this week the fine folks at the Smithsonian unleashed the 5CD set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection which includes some of the same Lead Belly WNYC recordings found on one of the five CDs. The five CDs total include a total of 108 Lead Belly songs most of which are culled from the Folkways' deep archives - much previously released and found at Amoeba's online store. Sixteen of these tracks, collectors will be pleased to learn, are previously unreleased Lead Belly recordings.  Also included in the Smithsonian set is an engaging accompanying 140-page booklet that contains various essays, lots of photographs of the blues legend born Huddie Ledbetter in Louisiana in 1888, whose influences run long and deep with fans including the likes of John Fogerty, Kurt Cobain, Van Morrison, Tom Jones, Tom Waits, Robert Plant, Lonnie Donegan, and Ben Harper.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back"

Posted by Billyjam, February 24, 2015 02:01pm | Post a Comment
public enemy it takes a nation of millions to hold us backBack in April 1988 Public Enemy (PE) released the classic album It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back on Def Jam Recordings. And prove that it's a classic is the fact that  27 full years later Nation still packs the same punch it did when it was initially unleashed on the world back in the late eighties. Widely considered the Strong Island (aka Long Island, New York) crew's greatest work ever, It Takes A Nation... was not only one of PE's finest moments, but hip-hop's as well. Released during the much lamented "golden" era of hip-hop, the album, which was the follow up to PE's 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show, defied the stereotypical "sophomore slump" that so many artists suffered from.

PE's debut was an excellent hip-hop album but this sequel simply blew it away since it was a jaw-droppingly amazing album (of any genre) in every way. Production-wise, it was so richly layered and hardcore that it just grabbed you and didn't let go. Chuck D's militant and thought-provoking, in-your-face revolutionary lyrical flow was so powerful it scared some people. But mostly it won over new fans who still thought of rap as some fad or disposable urban pop. Combined, all the elements of Nation made up an album that was unlike anything heard in hip-hop, or any music, up to that point. I remember that summer of '88 in the Bay Area hearing it blasting everywhere I went in every type of neighborhood. I had never experienced that before!

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Today KPOO Set Up Their Signal To Broadcast Live From Amoeba San Francisco

Posted by Billyjam, February 21, 2015 02:00pm | Post a Comment
Today at Amoeba San Francisco will be three of KPOO FM radio's DJs doing live sets as part of a unique remote broadcast of the beloved longtime independent, community San Francisco radio station out of the Haight Street store. These DJs, each presenting totally different musical styles, will be DJ X1DJ Jose Ruiz, and DJ McSchmormac - the latter whose show is described as one in which he explores the "origins of recorded music with recordings from 1900 to 1950."  It's just one example of the non-stop schedule of excellent programming on KPOO. I caught up with one of the three KPOO DJs at Amoeba today's in-store remote broadcast DJ McSchmormac (host of popular weekly radio show Gramaphoney Baloney that airs Monday 4pm to 6pm)  as to what we can expect from today's Amoeba in-store? "An unpredictable intercontinental multi-genre  mix of recordings dating from 1950 or earlier," is what the DJ of pre-digital/pre-vinyl older formats said we can expect during his unique set today.


DJ McSchmormac 's Top 3 Favorite Recordings of all time
  
1: Powerhouse - Raymond Scott Quintette
 
2: Dance Of The Octopus/In A Mist - Red Norvo Quartet
 
3: Dark Was The Night - Blind WIllie Johnson

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Mainstream News Continues Tradition of One-Sided Reporting + more

Posted by Billyjam, February 20, 2015 10:50am | Post a Comment

This has been one of those weeks when hip-hop news and mainstream news have repeatedly overlapped and melded together with stories on Vanilla Ice, Nicki Minaj, Afroman, and the state of hip-hop today as seen through the eyes of Geraldo Rivera all made front-page news - albeit all in a sensationalist way as per the course of mainstream news' reporting on the genre. The difference between now and say 1989 or 1992 when stereotypical "Violence At Rap Show" styled TV and newspaper headlines were the norm is that nowadays mainstream news reports tend to call it "hip-hop" rather than "rap" and that they (correctly) assume that the general public knows the names of the artists they are reporting on. Mind you, in terms of delving deep into said artist's music beyond a mere mention of their biggest pop hits, nothing has really advanced much in lazy mainstream reporting (editorializing?) on hip-hop in which the music typically is judged on negative generalizations.

Mainstream reporting and editorializing on hip-hop tends to be based on the music and behavior of the most visible pop-rap artists of the day - rather than a realistic look at the rich, varied, and incredibly diverse genre that is hip-hop in 2015. This lazy type of journalism, that paints a picture of everything about hip-hop falling under its most negative stereotype of being nothing but a soulless music filled with nothing but shallow imagery of misogyny and violence and debauchery, was most evident with Geraldo Rivera speaking to HuffPostLive this week when Rivera shared this insightful gem of his: "Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the past ten years" due to, in his eyes, it been "very destructive culturally" and blaming the music of hip-hop for young fans/followers of the genre wearing "pants around their ass" and sporting "tattoos" and being ready for only "entry level jobs" when they actually go look for work. Say what! Of course coming from someone at FOX News (a place where the blame for police violence against minorities is placed on the victims) this biased, narrow-minded point of view should not be a surprise.   

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Skratch Fight Inspires Bay Area Turntablists

Posted by Billyjam, February 18, 2015 01:27pm | Post a Comment

Like so many positive uplifting music events in the Bay Area that tend to fly under the radar and get little notice or props for all they contribute to the greater Bay Area music/arts community, the ongoing DJ session and battle gathering known as Skratch Fight is among the most admirable. An informal yet tight-knit community of dedicated skratch DJ and aspiring DJs, Skratch Fight is an ongoing series of turntablist sessions and/or DJ battles that take place on a monthly basis (typically twice a month) around the Bay Area including every last Sunday at the War Memorial building in Daly City where the next Skratch Fight will take place this weekend. Another location where Skratch Fight takes place is at the Michael Chavez Center in Concord CA where I stopped by on a recent (January 25th) Sunday afternoon during one of the Skratch Fight live DJ sessions (as distinct from their battle/fights). There I met with the main Skratch Fight founder/organizer/DJ who goes by the name Dulodulo, as well as Concord Skratch Fight organizer (and member of 925 Hip-Hop) Benny Contreras who both chatted with the Amoeblog (see video interview below) to break down the history of Skratch Fight as well as its positive impact. Those in attendance that day included DJ Me One, DJ Universe, Nicholas Joeseph Abigana, DJ Sick Nick (GPK - garbagepailkid), S.T.A.T.I.K., DJ MaseTheTablist, Ichy the Killer, Kurteek, Six Kutter, DJ ALF, and Chuck Martinez.  All were clearly into the ongoing informal skratch session which, as well as a musical outlet for turntablists, is a grassroots networking/meet-up; the type of event that inspires longtime DJs and aspiring DJs alike. It is also a potluck (everyone brings a dish of food to share) and an informal record swap meet with several DJs bringing extra copies of battle records and old VHS tapes to share or trade with their fellow skratch enthusiasts.

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