By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show
Are you planning your next loincloth-clad romping weekend in the Jungle Rock Room at the Madonna Inn but don't feel you have the right tunes for your portable record player? Are Martin Denny and Eden Ahbez just a tad too mellow for the primitive thoughts you have swirling in your mind? You have Frank Hunter’s White Goddess album already, but you need more raw, mating-ritual music? You need Chaino.
As the story goes, long ago in the Congo, there was a hidden tribe that possessed extraordinary mental and physical powers and could even communicate with the wild animals. Then one day, a nearby jealous and hostile tribe attacked the secret tribe’s village, killing everyone but one little boy named Chaino. Found and saved by a passing missionary, Chaino was brought to the United States to be “educated” and it was discovered that he had percussion talents from beyond this world.
Practicing 17 hours a day, Chaino would soon master 7 drums at a time. Although it was said, that he was quiet and reserved away from his drums, his "savage" beginnings seemed to resurface when he would play his music, allowing his primitive spirit to project through his drums. This, my friends, is the story Omega Records tells you on the back of Chaino’s record.
By Kai Wada Roath
They say music can be life-changing. I’ll buy that. Probably the most important and profound post-Beatles record in my Jazz life, or even my musical, personal and business life (you’ll see), was Emergency! by the The Tony Willams Lifetime. That’s a big sentence for an LP fiend like me. ONE record led by a drummer did all that? To me, Jazz is a huge, beautiful expression of the American Classical music, no small accomplishment in the last 100 years with everything out there. And I remember as if was yesterday how this record came to change my life.
In high school and later I was in a bluesy, Procol Harum-meets-Jefferson Airplane-style outfit called Moonfleet, after the film. We had the town and the era by the ear, so naturally we were asked to play our own Senior Picnic close to graduation at Westchester High School (still there), near the beach in L.A. I had played drums at another Senior picnic and I knew the picnics were free-for–all's in those days. We were excited to blow our fellow student’s minds, with coffins and dancers and fiery entertainment, with myself on guitar then.
As per our gig deal, the school had hired a PA system for our show. The day came and we pulled in for a sound check with our equipment. What the hell? It’s a flat bed truck set up on the Jr. Varsity lawn!! With nice club-PA speakers! Loud!! With audio guys that knew what they were doing!! We had a big stage with good sound. But, hey, that music, coming over the system?
Amoeba Music and CIIS Public Programs & Performances present Global Mysteries: Strings and Skins, a Concert with Glen Velez & Shira Kammen on Friday, December 5th at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
World music innovators Velez and Kammen collaborate on old and new music for medieval strings and frame drums, exploring masterpieces and traditional music from Bulgaria, Spain, and the Arab world. Both musicians create organic groove-oriented music, which proclaims its uniqueness while infused with awe at the rhythms and melodies of our planet. They will perform selections from their recent recordings, along with improvisations culled from the ancestral sound-breath memory we all share.
Glen Velez, a four-time Grammy Award recipient, has played a seminal role over the last 26 years by introducing the frame drum to modern audiences. He has taught extensively worldwide, investigating the healing properties of drumming and sound. As a master teacher, he has developed his own approach called The Handance Method, incorporating voice and body movement into learning to play the frame drum.
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring the worlds of early and traditional music. A member for many years of the early music Ensembles Alcatraz and Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, the Balkan group Kitka, Anonymous IV, the King's Noyse, the Newberry and Folger Consorts, the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, and is the founder of Class V Music, an ensemble dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips.
If you have eleven minutes to spare or even just 3 minutes now and 8 minutes later do yourself a favor and sit back and watch & listen to this wonderful Swedish, music-driven, short film, titled Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers from 2001. Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and featuring the drummers Johannes Björk, Magnus Börjeson, Marcus Haraldson, Fredrik Myhr, Sanna Persson, and Anders Vestergard it is the simple story of these six creative percussionists (a drum gang) who patiently sit in their Volvo outside the apartment home of strangers, patiently waiting for them to leave so that they can break and enter and then make sweet rhythmic music utilizing numerous household items (plus imagination) as they go from room to room - with ten minutes to commit their drum crime. Nice!
Fortunately, the interviews are vastly different, due to my professional and honed skill as a journalist devoted to hard-hitting storytelling and dedication to factual analysis, and the other interviewer, Miss Ess, who prefers a more “whimsical” and, shall we say, lying-er approach to writing.
You can read this other "interview" by clicking on this link right here.
Due to his tight schedule of touring and promoting the new album, To The Breathing World, Neal was under the weather and frequently distracted during the following interview, which resulted in many of his answers being garbled and unintelligible. (Confidentially, I think alcohol may have been a contributing factor to this. That’ll teach me to get drunk before an interview!) I therefore had to rely on memory and occasional paraphrasing in transcribing the following Q & A. Even so, I was able to capture the spirit of our conversation, from Neal's obsession with "crushing" to the revelation of his suicidal fantasies. Read on…
Neal Morgan before the plastic surgery
How did you pick up playing the drums? What is it that drew you to them so strongly - so much so that any other attempts to follow other dreams were crushed?