Thursday, August 27, 2015

REMIND The Senate That Native American and Black Lives Matter

It is high time that these four Senators hear from the concerned citizens that they claim to represent!!! While they quickly proposed a bill to protect lions based on the hype around the tragic killing of Cecil the Lion, to date they have done NOTHING to address the hundreds of murders of private citizens by law enforcement. 

They obviously need to be reminded that people who believe that Native American and Black Lives Matter vote. Their candidacy needs to be based on more than kissing the police union's behind.

BOMBARD the phone and fax lines of Senator Bob Menendez (New Jersey - D); Cory Booker (New Jersey - D); Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut - D); and Ben Cardin (Maryland - D) demanding that they do the right thing for the predominantly Native American and Black citizens, tax payers and families being victimized by law enforcement.


One Gateway Center, Suite 1100
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Washington, DC

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  • Hartford

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  • Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Citizen Trump: The Re-Birth of A Nation

    It became apparent to many people in 2011 that the GOP had become a parody of itself. For many years, it had been regarded as a political party comprised of two types of people: millionaires and suckers. With each presidential election, the accuracy of this assessment becomes more and more apparent. The GOP debates have taken on the feel of a game show like "Hollywood Squares" or "Family Feud". Taken directly from the corporate merger playbook, the party has made numerous efforts to co-opt and consolidate a myriad of special interest, right-wing and white supremacist groups into the fold; many of whom have rejected the party for selling out. If this were the 1970's and the GOP were a building in the South Bronx, we could expect to see it go up in flames any day now.

    In line with the last analogy, here enters billionaire real estate player, author and televion personality, Donald Trump entering the GOP bid for president by spewing racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic sound-bites and commentary on an almost daily basis. For a few reasons, there is little to no surprise that he has emerged as the GOP front runner, much to the embarrassment of the party itself. The response to much of what Mr Trump has said or done during the last few weeks has been to question his intellect as well as his sanity. Here I would have to disagree. I question (or out and out doubt the existence of) his morals, narcissism, and apparent, insatiable greed; but what I see is a very shrewd and clever business man, bored with conquering corporations, now setting his sights on taking over the political party of commerce.

    When Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdock was asked why his focus with FOX News focuses on promoting a conservative agenda in a country where he isn't a citizen and has no vested interest in our politics, Mr Murdock's response was, "hate sells..." Consider the fact that Donald Trump is a master at the art of branding (aside from putting his name on every residential and commercial building that he owns) and media manipulation. In marketing, the saying is that seven impressions make the sale. Understand that these impressions don't have to be positive, as shock-jock radio personality, Howard Stern and hip-hop icon Luther Campbell proved years ago, you get more attention, and are talked about more by the people who hate you than the people who love you. The fact of the matter is that people are talking about you and that creates a brand. Mr Trump is a master salesman, which also makes him a master of psycho-analysis. He is able to tap into the heart, soul and thoughts of his potential client and say exactly what they are thinking or feeling. Adolph Hitler did this very effectively in the1930s; Mr Trump effectively tapped into the hearts and minds of the eugenicists and aforementioned suckers of the party, told them what they want to hear, and rose to the top.

    In true corporate take-over fashion, when Mr Trump recognized that the party leadership was not thrilled with him as their top contender, he threatened to run independent; knowing that he leaves the party this will guarantee that either Mr Sanders or Mrs Clinton will be taking to oath of office in January 2017. The leadership GOP is getting a taste (or in some cases, a second taste) of what Mr Trump has done at any number of major stockholder meetings of companies that he has taken controlling interest in: play along or perish. We must remember that he has filed for bankruptcy at least four times, which is an oft used tactic by large corporations to get out from under pesky investors. I wonder how that tactic would work in addressing the national debt.

    Oscar Wilde once said that the only thing worse than wanting something is getting it. In the true Prometheus tradition, the same people who cultivated the GOP into a party where a greedy narcissist moves from the shadows of supporting candidates to actually becoming one. Lets face it, the Koch brothers are not too far removed from Mr Trumps type of thinking,  they would rather be in the background. The same way that Marion Knight and Sean Combs failed to take a few more notes from the Berry Gordy playbook when it comes to running a high powered, boutique record label and appear to be classy and dignified in public, The GOP is quickly becoming the Death Row Records of political parties; notorious with members fleeing for greener pastures, which include militias, hate groups and break-off political parties.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong, Donald Trump could really just be a loud-mouthed idiot who lucked out in real estate and talking a cable station into giving him his own reality show. He might really believe the things he's saying and the following that he has amassed due to the luck of the draw. Whether it's a case of Mr Trump being the idiot's champion or a master salesman, the bottom line is this: the next few months are going to be quite interesting.

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    VOTE for Mwalim: 'Best Instrumental CD' 2015 Indigenous Music Awards

    2015 Nominee in the Indigenous Music Awards - Best Inst. CD
    WINNIPEG, CA - Public Voting for the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards is now open and Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor's award-winning jazz album, "Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" (LMMGM/Spirit Wind Records) is a top nominee for "Best Instrumental CD" (Category 11).

    "Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" is the winner of the 2014 New England Urban Music Awards 'Best Male Jazz' category as well as the 2015 Silver Arrow Award for 'Best Native Jazz' album.

    To register, sign in, and vote, the Indigenous Music Awards. 


    Wednesday, July 1, 2015

    POEM: Street Teaming , Impressions & A Dumb-Ass

    I'd like to thank the punk-ass who keeps ripping that poster down;
    We've replaced it 4 times already.
    You see, each time you rip it down and we hang it back up
    That's another 400+ people seeing it.
    It's called "impressions."
    We hang it
    A bunch of people see it
    it becomes part of the scenery
    You rip it down
    We wait a few days
    and replace it.
    Which means more people are seeing it, thinking it's a new post.
    If you rip it down three more times,
    You're helping us gain a full house!!!
    7 Impressions make the sale!!!
    Thank you!!!

    Imagine, if you can a venue...
    Say, 976 Main Street in Cotuit, MA
    Now I want you to imagine a 25 mile radius from the front door of the venue;
    use a map if you need to.
    Now I wan you to imagine 1,000 flyers
    Posted at various locations all over that 25 mile radius.
    Drive around and tear them all down!
    Our street team is anxious to replace them!
    You'll also have to tear down the
    Facebook posts
    Instagram posts
    Radio interviews
    Even had it on the news...
    It's been shot around twitter 3,000 times

    Now I want you to think about the one poster,
    hanging at the Country Store in Mashpee.
    The one you see as you go to buy your scratch tickets
    blunt wraps
    and Fire Ball Whiskey nips
    Whether you leave the poster alone
    or you throw it away
    That poster is kinda like you...
    It really doesn't matter

    Keep up the good work!
    We know who you are and
    We are very happy to give your life meaning

    COPYRIGHT 2015

    Saturday, June 27, 2015

    POEM: Progress?

    My feelings about the flag coming down in SC & Alabama are the same as my feelings about the legalization of gay marriage:
    I'm wondering why I'm not getting any comments from my right-wing friends about his past issues with the law and drug dealing?

    A nice gesture and distractions from the more pressing issues surrounding race relations and homophobia in America.

    We've been under the thumb so long, that the smallest victories are seen as huge. Kinda like the excitement my formerly incarcerated colleagues felt when they could buy Ramen Noodles and Slim Jims from the canteen.

    So, about Dylan Roof...
    I'm wondering why I'm not getting any comments from my right-wing friends about his past issues with the law and drug dealing?

    I'm not hearing how he deserves to die because he smoked weed and got in trouble in school.
    I'm not hearing outrage that he murdered innocent people engaged in bible study, from the Bible thumpers...

    However, I have heard that it was their own fault for not having guns of their own at the time of the shooting...

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    a GEEKDOM Tribute To A Soul Singer: R.I.P. Mr Percy Sledge

    Percy Sledge in 2012 at the Houston House of Blues.
    Tuesday, we've lost one of the great, architectural voices of soul music. Mr Percy Sledge passed today at the age of 74.

    A No. 1 hit in 1966, “When a Man Loves a Woman” was Sledge’s debut single, an almost unbearably heartfelt ballad with a resonance he never approached again. Few singers could have. Its mood set by a mournful organ and dirge-like tempo, “When a Man Loves a Woman” was for many the definitive soul ballad, a testament of blinding, all-consuming love haunted by fear and graced by overwhelming emotion.

    “When a Man Loves a Woman” was a personal triumph for Sledge, who seemed on the verge of sobbing throughout the production, and a breakthrough for Southern soul. It was the first No. 1 hit from Alabama’s burgeoning Muscle Shoals music scene, where Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones among others would record, and the first gold record for Atlantic Records.

    Before he became famous, Sledge worked in the cotton fields around his hometown of Leighton in northwest Alabama and took a job in a hospital in nearby Sheffield. He also spent weekends playing with a rhythm-and-blues band called the Esquires. A patient at the hospital heard him singing while working and recommended him to record producer Quin Ivy.

    Sledge recalled recording the song: “When I came into the studio, I was shaking like a leaf. I was scared.” He added that it was the “same melody that I sang when I was out in the fields. I just wailed out in the woods and let the echo come back to me.”
    The composition of the song has long been a mystery. Some thought that Sledge wrote it himself. Sledge said he was inspired by a girlfriend who left him for a modeling career after he was laid off from a construction job in 1965, but he gave the songwriting credits to two Esquires bandmates, bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright, who helped him with the song.

    While identified with the Muscle Shoals music scene, Sledge spent most of his career living in Baton Rouge. He was inducted in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

    A Personal Memory

    In 1984, around the Christmas season, a bunch of us from Music & Art High School (Now LaGuardia) went down to Rockefeller Plaza for the lighting of the Christmas Tree. A choir and chamber ensemble began to perform Pachelbel's Canon. I'll never forget when one of my buddies nudged me and began to sing when a man loves a woman, which fit over the canon perfectly. A bunch of us joined in until we were chased away by plaza security.

    Not a true hoodlum memory by any stretch; but for a bunch of teenage music students, this was an ultimate act of defiance.

    Thank you, Mr Sledge, for a true masterpiece.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Producer's Notes: Building The Groovalottos Album Pt. 6

    A little more flavor in the pot from Eddie
    An element in the novel MUMBO JUMBO, by Ishmael Reed is a virus called Jes Grew that causes white people to become obsessed with Black culture. According to the text, it's the cause of the roaring 20's and the jazz age. America, being a segregated nation at it's roots, has a curious habit of categorizing music to the extent that they segregate music from itself. Also having a cultural addiction to exploitation, musical forms can be co-opted from their originators and the history re-written. Much of American music is rooted in the African and Native American musical traditions and culture. The differences between blues, funk, jazz, gospel and subsequent soul/ r&b are more about stylistic nuance then actual differences. A lot of what was called Hillbilly music (modern term, Country) was a composite of Scottish folk music mixed with blues and termed "blue-grass" to disguise the forms Black roots, the same way that Alan Freedman would call R&B "Rock & Roll" to disguise it from white parents who didn't want their kids listening to Black music.

    A floor tom with a broken kick petal makes quite the boom
    When you produce a soul-funk record and start to pay attention to each element and track, the American imposed lines of delineation quickly disappear, especially when the only industry standard that you adhere to is production quality. The percussion tracks are like the ancestral voices blessing your song, the patterns and grooves of various African styles, with Caribbean interpretations opens you up to new musical possibilities in the song. This you can experience when creating House music, but working on an album like this definitely takes you on that path.

    As I listen to the playbacks on some of our cuts, like "The Storm" and "Make It Look Easy" I find the exploration here must be what Berry Gordy felt when he went to New York to hear Jackie Wilson record one of his songs, and the producer added some Afro-Caribbean back-beat percussion, and how it gave his song a whole new feel and groove. Likewise, when you have the basic trio rhythm section lay down one pocket, and the djembe and bongos come back with a counter groove; all tied together by 'the one', especially when we decided to lay in the western, big drum on the songs. Here, in the percussion tracks we have several examples of call and response between African (West and east) and 'Pan NDN' percussion.
    My Djembe brought some ancestors into the mix

    Building an album, to an extent, is like creating audio imagery, where the sound becomes a mood-based landscape if you will.  As music critic, Howard Dukes once observed of my work as a producer, I tend to be a fan of the classic 'concept album' approach to a project. With this project the concept is simple, a band of grown and funky musicians grooving through a set list at a concert. The final sound needs to be organic, ambient and exciting, while groovy, warm and funky... a dichotomy of sounds and textures... an audio rice and beans dish.

    In building these tracks, what I've done is taken the recipe of funk albums produced in the 1960's and 70's, combined it with elements found in 1980s and '90's hip-hop and creating an album of the raw, funky, boom and bap free of samples, drum machines, time correction, and left as a pure work of musicianship.

    bongos and cowbells... funky...
    The nature of funk The 'jes grew' of Ishmael Reed's classic novel is a virus of primal, and ancestral spirits, taking possession of all who it encounters.

    Missed any of the parts? Follow the Whole Producer Notes series here

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Producer's Notes: Building The Groovalottos Album Pt 5

    When bass players rock the drums...
    With any favorite dish, it's the seasonings that make the flavors of the main ingredients stand out. Seasoning and spice is that fine detail in a recipe that can make it or break it. For a funk and soul recording, the percussion tracks are the seasoning. You can change the entire feel and mood of a song based on what percussion you use and how it's played. Something as simple as a tambourine, cowbell or conga drum can become the difference between a classic hit records and a dud.

    In these days of electronica, percussion tracks are usually samples and loops that can be cut and paste into the song. Percussion provides the framing and While not a soul records, but a definite homage to blues, "My Generation" by The Who would have been lost as a dance record completely if they had not used hand claps to frame the wild style drumming of Keith Moon, who characteristically played inside, outside, under, over and next to the pocket of the tune, as one would more so expect from a jazz drummer.

    Eddie getting funky on the bongos
    However, for me it was the rich funk and soul of the 1970's with Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Babatunde Olatunji, Fela Kuti, Earth Wind &Fire, and Hamilton Bohannon that are at influential play here. A lot of these artists you'll find in the loop of many classic hip-hop records, as the percussion that fattens out the drum machine base that they are building off of. In producing this album, I recognize a blend of the musicianship of the old school combined with the technology of the new school. For most of the classic albums, 8 and 16 track recording systems were the innovation and by the time the hip-hop producers were doing their thing we were up to 48 tracks and digital. Each item on a drum kit has it's own track as do the percussion tracks and loops as opposed to using four mics for a whole kit as they did back in the day. As a result, the old school records had a warmer, blended feeling while the new technology makes it rather stark and crisp.

    This is also where your engineer makes a big difference, as Bob Yen has old school training, sensibilities and know how from engineering, producing and mixing countless albums as well as being a sound man for numerous live shows for a myriad of rock bands like Journey, Areosmith and the like. Most of your r&b and hip-hop engineers now are lost if the instruments are not plugged directly into the boards or are not software patches. To produce a descent, human soul record outside of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, you need to find a good rock and roll engineer.

    These rich percussion tracks that the hip-hop producers loved sampling and looping in the late 1980's and 1990's also gave me an appreciation for the texture and dimension of layered percussion. The old school process of sampling and looping required a degree of skill in manipulating and placing the sample that has been largely replaced by the use of software like Pro tools and so forth. One of the most impressive examples in hip-hop history actually didn't use sampling, but pure DJing skills. On the album "Straight Out The Jungle" by The Jungle Brothers, for example, their DJ Sammy B actually mixed and cut from his turntables directly onto the recording, using a drum machine as the metronome/ percussion link. Likewise, Gangstarr alum, DJ Premiere used to use a 4-track and the pause button feature to build his loops, feeding in the breaks from his turn table every two or four bars.

    A djembe player that went to Goddard? Impossible...
    The hip-hop producers of the golden era also intuitively did what you would find more sophisticated musicians doing when it came to blending elements. For example, for a jazz player, the notion of three instruments in the same song playing three different time signatures against each other is what you might find in James Brown's recordings, or the drumming records of Babatunde Olatunji. The largely jazz trained session men of Motown also were known for doing this. For example, in the cut, "Donlt Sweat The Technique" by Eric B and Rakim, you find a heavy swing jazz bass and horn loop, over a straight 4/4  drum machine groove.

    Armed with bongos, djembe, tambourines, cow bells, a drum kit, broom shank, riser, four pairs of hands, and shaker, we went about building the percussion tracks of the album, giving each song it's own recipe. When we play out live, especially restaurant and jazz bar gigs, we often love to play with time signatures -super imposing 4/4 over 6/8, 5/4 and under 7/8 or 12/8- we found ourselves recising this habit with bongo and shaker patterns over the grooves of the song.

    Missed any of the parts? Follow the Whole Producer Notes series here

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    Good Bye to A Gifted & Caring Educator: Dr Paul E Reisch

    Dr Reisch from the 1986 M&A Yearbook... they misspelled his name
    There is a subtle difference between a teacher and an educator. A teacher teaches, imparts knowledge and information about how do do something. An educator does the same except what they teach you are things that can carry over to other areas and aspects of your life. An educator elevates you and your consciousness by inspiring critical thought about a given topic or the world around you in general.

    Such can be said about Dr Paul Reisch, a former faculty member and alum of LaGuardia High School of the Arts in New York City, who transitioned last week. Whether you had him for English or Drama at Music & Arts or Performing Arts, you never saw the subject or the material the same way again once you studied it with Dr Reisch. Born in Germany and immigrating to the US as a child who spoke no English, he clearly overcame this issue by eventually earning his PhD in English. Likewise, he demanded such effort and excellence from his students and got it.

    As a high school student, I had a gift for creative writing, but my critical writing skills were lacking a bit of structure in my approach. Having the opportunity to have Dr Reisch in the first semester of my senior year became a crash course in effective critical writing; how to effectively delineate ideas and points when reflecting on a piece of literature or a related concept where part and parcel of the mechanics of writing that Dr Reisch helped me to develop.

    His passion for literature, drama and the intellectual development of his students was apparent and present in each moment that we spent with him in class; a passion that was infectious and definitely travelled with me well beyond my days as a student at Music & Art. He helped provide me with tools that carried me well through undergraduate and graduate school; to my professional work as a writer and educator. 

    The impact that the good Doctor had on all of his students is the type of impact that all true educators dream of. Here, almost 30 years after my last time in his classroom, When I lecture and find myself emphasizing the words "For Ex-Ample" I know where it came from... Peaceful Journey's...

    A Lesson In Character for Governor Baker: Bravo Dr Scott

    A major amount of kudos and credit goes to Dr Beverly Scott, the soon-to-be former General Manager of the MBTA in Boston. Her on-air resignation as the answer to Governor Baker's criticism was very classy, bold and necessary. This also was a very public break and response to the psychological game that gets run on people of color in leadership positions when thrown under the bus by their so-called superiors.

    Governor Charlie Baker pulled a very familiar move in his criticism of Dr Scott. Somehow, he looked past being "disappointed" with the Department of Public Works and their failure at snow removal, and any number of other services and utilities serving the state and people of Boston and zeroed in on attacking Scott's management of the MBTA. Baker seemed completely unaware of the fact that The "T" is, as Dr Scott put it, an "antiquated system" with subway cars that are well over 30 and 40 years old and tons of service equipment that's in dis repair. I imagine Baker felt that Dr Scott should have worked that ol' Black magic and gotten things running without any of the other elements in place. When it became obvious that the subway was going to be a problem, the MBTA switched to buses to cover the routes. Of course, the MBTA got criticized for doing this as the streets have not been sufficiently plowed to accommodate the buses. While it's the Department of Public Works that's responsible for plowing, the press and governor still blame this on the MBTA.

    American government and industry have a very long standing tradition of letting things fall apart, then putting a Black person in charge and blaming them for the mess. As cities teeter on the edge of bankruptcy and social decline, Black people suddenly become mayors (Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Hartford... need I continue?). Usually, when massa pulls a move like Baker's, the Black administrator in question coweringly offer an apology and/or explanation, and deals with the beating that their professional reputation has just taken.

    Doing this, especially for the political leadership, is a quick and easy way to appear competent. Let's face it, years and years of stereotypes about Black people being lazy, incompetent, and ineffectual make it very easy for people like Baker to attack people like Dr. Scott without any preceding conversation or briefing.

    As usual, Baker worked from his assumptions as opposed to reality. He did not take into account that the MBTA had actually put a person of some advanced intellectual and ethical character into the position. Now he's had to back peddle, dine on crow and smooth over a lot of rough patches that he created. Ironically, he has also flagged himself as 'another one.' The hopeful lesson that Baker has learned: you can't throw someone under a bus while they're driving it. When you bring a plantation mentality to the Governor's Mansion, you're bound to discover that some of your House Negros are Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner and/or Denmark Vessey.

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Mashpee Wampanoag Voters Have The Right To Choose

    Variety Packs, like slates, always have one or two that don't suit your tastes...
    As a kid and even later as an adult, I never liked the Kellogg's Variety Packs of cereal. For one thing, they lied: the boxes made terrible cereal bowls and the milk always leaked out of the wax paper; and for another thing, they always had two or three cereals that I didn't like. The same is true for candidate slates in elections. There are six seats to fill and each one needs to be filled by the best possible candidates based on the judgment of the voters.

    Understand, I love all of the people running for tribal council; but this is not about personalities, this is about governance, administration and professional temperance. I recognize that I do not have the temperance to be on the council, hence I've never run for council, nor do I think I ever would. Instead, I support and encourage those who have that ability and drive. Of the 12 official candidates and a couple of folks running as write-ins, I looked at their track records in leadership, as the tribe is at a crucial juncture where wise choices are paramount to our progress. To see this many folks trying to have a voice or bring a new voice to the leadership of the tribe is encouraging and positive. However, what comes with elections is another issue.

    The concept of slates are a bit dubious with such a small voting population. We live in a world where many things are packaged for our convenience; from variety packs of cereal to fast food value meals. Slates signify unity and coalition, but once in office, rarely offer or even demonstrate those ideals. Slates only really work to the advantage of the constituencies when the candidates remain mutually accountable to each other, once in office. Otherwise, it's just a quick way into office in the form of a package.

    In an ideal world, there are three texts that every contemporary leader should have read and digested before coming into office: The Prince by Machiavelli, The Social Contract by Rousseau (both are available for free as downloads), and How To Win Friends & Influence People, by Carnegie. All three are available in audio book form as well.

    Knowing that many folks don't have the time (or desire) to read, as a tribal member and voter, I look at five elements in selecting a candidate:
    1) What are the main important issues effecting the people our community?
    2) What are our progressive goals and plans for preservation?
    3) What are clear and precise means of addressing these issues?
    4) What do the candidates bring to the table to address the issues and help our community reach these goals?
    5) What is the public service track record of the candidate?

    Saturday, January 24 is the candidate forum, an opportunity for the tribal community to hear and speak to the candidates about the issues, platforms, plans and goals. For those who pay attention beyond the campaign and related rhetoric, it's a wonderful opportunity to observe the authenticity of people skills and respect for constituency.

    Having had an opportunity to visit and work with a number of tribal governments throughout the Eastern region, I've learned that we are all more similar than different. One thing that is common for us all is tribal elections and the internal competition. What we should not lose sight of is the fact that ultimately tribal elections are are not supposed to be about the tribal body winning as opposed to the candidates. As a tribal council member, you are not merely a politician in the traditional western sense, you are supposed to actually be a voice of and for the body, the clans, the councils, the future generations.

    Based on my observations and interactions, allow me to share the images of my top five pics, based on the fore mentioned criteria. With all honesty, the jury is still out on the sixth candidate, which is not a reflection in any way on the character or qualities of the other seven candidates. When one cooks a stew, not all of the spices and ingredients on the shelf are going to work well with others. My sixth vote is simply my last minute notion of what the council might need a pinch or dab of.

    On we go... on we win.




    A consistent voice on the council that has endured many administrations. This consistency has been one of the true strengths of the council and a benefit to the tribal community as a whole.

    I strongly and heartily endorse Yvonne Avant

    For Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
    Here we have a voice on council that exemplifies leadership that walks among the people. She is about family and tribe and youth. This is some of what we need more of.

    I Enthusiastically Endorse Winnie Johnson-Graham for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
    A strong, gentle spirit on a council, gives the council a powerful blend of the traditional function and contemporary, westernized land of leadership. The flexibility and willingness to go the distance for the people. Definitely the right ingredient in the stew...

    I Strongly Support Trish Keli'inui for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
     — at Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

    A strong voice for the community and occasionally the voice of contention. Contention is good, it gives dimension and forces a body to consider an alternate point of view. A strong council needs voices with courage of character and conviction. We need true advocacy for the positive self-development of our youth and elders. She has been and should remain this voice on council.

    I Enthusiastically Endorse Laura Tobey-Miranda for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

    The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Council are at a social crossroads and we are in acute need of as much healing, loving spirit on our leadership as possible. There are people among us who have provided that gentle loving insight, nurturing, encouragement, and inspiration; there leadership has been effective without title. Bringing her onto the council would be a win across the board.

    I Strongly, Enthusiastically and Heartily Endorse Robyn Roseblossom Tobey for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

    Thursday, January 29, 2015

    Producers Notes: Building The GROOVALOTTOS Album Pt. 4

    Bob Yen engineering as Redbone thumps the groove
    Albums always take me a long time to produce. That is to say, I take my time producing them. I'm big on letting tracks season before I go back and adjust or overdub. Once I had the basic tracks on a CD, the CD lives in my car and I'll listen to it throughout the production process. First, I like to get a great take and build from there. As the production evolves the sound and feel might shift slightly, but the basic tracks are always the foundation.

    Eddie Ray's drum tracks are about as funky as you can get. After redoing my keyboards from the original scratch track, it was time to bring in Redbone and do the bass lines. Redbone and Eddie Ray have been playing together for years, having been in the legendary band, West Side Soul together in the 1990's, they are a bass an drum unit. Listening to the basic tracks and then listening to other records with great, funky bass and drums I began to get ideas that would lift our sound into a new paradigm rhythmically.

    Producers notes on playback. As usual, Redbone nailed it.
    My sensibilities had been colored with the work of great jazz musicians playing on soul and funk records as well as the 1990's era of hip-hop where producers like Pete Rock, Ali Shahid Muhammad, DJ Mark the 45 King, and DJ Premiere created some remarkable sounds from their sampling and looping work, juxtaposing swing beats against straight time beats. Ironically, virtuoso jazz players and untrained DJs turned producers have similar ears and concepts that escape conventional concepts of how music should be performed.

    Listening, for example, to the bass and drum work of James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin of the Funk Brothers/ Motown studio band of the 1960's. On several records, like "Hitch-Hike" "This Old Heart of Mine" and "Baby I Need Your Loving", you can hear the bass and drums are rocking two different time signatures against each other; giving the songs their edge. In the movie "Get On Up" we see a depiction of James Brown brow beating his musicians when they question his mixing of time signatures on the song "Cold Sweat". In this scene, we see Brown encouraging his musicians to the ink of their instruments as drums, similar to the philosophy that Eddie Ray brings to The Groovalottos, grooving is a counting game.

    Redbone is a natural born talent and genius of the bass; being self taught on the instrument and growing up singing doo-wop on the street corner as a kid. From the first time that he came to a band rehearsal, it was clear that he understood and felt the groove and could make us feel it too. You see, a soul-funk record is about feeling, and the ability to convey that feeling to the listener. I would put him up against most conservatory trained jazz or rock bass players any day, as he comes with the kind of soul in his playing that they aspire towards. As a band, one thing that we often do in rehearsal and at gigs is play around with time signatures on tunes. One night, while playing a tune in 4/4, Eddie Ray decided to go into 6/8 while I went into 2/4 and Redbone stayed in 4/4. It's a math problem along the lines of solving equations and looking for the common denominator.

    With the use of technology and 'industry standards' the differential between a band's live show and their record has grown wider and wider. The standard for recording is that the music is turned into a matrix of time corrected loops sewn together. Steely Dan used to do a version of this pre-looping. For the studio version of the album, they'd record in California, with California studio musicians who are in the pocket and predictable. For the tour, they'd put together a band of east coast guys who are wild and unpredictable. James Brown had bands that could do both. The same can be said for Sly and the Family Stone.

    Also taking a page from Motown's studio band, they were all active jazz players who would record in the studio all day and play out at the clubs at night. The jazz clubs provided them with an opportunity to experiment with grooves, feels, and chord voicing. Elements of these experiments would often find their way into the arrangements of the songs they'd record the next day. In gathering footage for our documentary, "The Song Keepers" we ended up collecting hours of footage of our live performances and audience reactions. Pin-pointing elements that made particular performances stand out and translating them to the studio was how we created our basic tracks.

    For any organic player, the studio can be a very restrictive environment. Most of my work as a producer has been trying to find ways to be organic in the studio, even when dealing with the electronica approaches of my last couple of albums. The production challenge here was getting Redbone to play like Redbone at a gig who can play in, out, next to, under, over, in front and behind the pocket naturally. Today, he was making the mistake of trying to lock himself to Eddie's kick drum. What I needed him to do was respond to it.

    Since we were recording the bass DI, Redbone was able to sit in the control booth and record to the playback on the monitors instead of through headphones. I was able to sit behind him and be the annoying voice in his ear, coaching him through the bass parts. The end result: 12 of the best bass track recordings that I've heard in quite some time. "Ask Yo' Mama" is on it's way to being an instant classic album.

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