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OCT 28, 2013 - The musical world is in shock and in mourning, as we woke up to the sad news that one of music's biggest pioneers, Lou Reed, has died. He stayed strong till the last moments, even doing Tai Chi about an hour before he passed. I blogged about him last May when Lou underwent a liver transplant, and he was working hard on his rehab program saying on his website he is "bigger and stronger" than ever. Unfortunately though, he passed away at his home in Southampton, New York over the weekend, and numerous tributes to Lou Reed via Twitter poured out from musicians. Lou had a huge impact on the musical scene and the world.
My first contact with a Lou Reed was indirect. It was 1973, and I was about 10, and the rock band Brownsville Station had a song on their "Yeah" album I thought was one of the coolest rock guitar rhythms ever; that song was Sweet Jane. (Here is the Brownsville Station version I grew up on) Later when I was in my teens, my sister put on a Velvet Underground album that had the man who wrote that song in it, and I was floored. Pure musical genius, very original and creative; the music I heard coming out from those speakers inspired me and many other musicians to pick up the guitar and start a rock band. There is the famous quote from Brian Eno of where he comments on the first Velvet Underground only selling 30,000 copies to which Eno replied, "I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band". Count me in that crowd.
Probably the most hard hit musician was his band mate in Velvet Underground, John Cale. In a statement on his Facebook page Cale says, "The news I feared most, pales in comparison to the lump in my throat and the hollow in my stomach. Two kids have a chance meeting and 47 years later we fight and love the same way - losing either one is incomprehensible. No replacement value, no digital or virtual fill...broken now, for all time. Unlike so many with similar stories - we have the best of our fury laid out on vinyl, for the world to catch a glimpse. The laughs we shared just a few weeks ago, will forever remind me of all that was good between us." Watch a video below of Lou with Velvet Underground live playing one of the badass rock rhythm guitar riffs ever, Sweet Jane, and read more about the creative musical genius that had a huge impact on the rock scene on his Wikipedia page here and I recommend this NY Times article about Lou's career and passing here. JTMP joins in the mourning of Reed's passing, and also join the celebration of the musical genius he brought to the world. We will miss you Lou! (Photo credit: Marcelo Costa/CC)
OCT 27, 2013 - Huge crowds turned out yesterday in cities across the world speaking out against excessive surveillance by the NSA and other agencies, demanding their civil rights of privacy be respected and protected. Many artists and musicians joined in the effort, such as the Flobots, YACHT, Ai WeiWei, Tom Morello, and JTMP's favorite, Anti-Flag, who are close friends and a huge part of JTMP's early days. Many groups, organizations and individuals from all political stripes came together in this massive street protest against what people firmly believe is a excessive intrusion into their daily lives, and people wonder if their phone calls and emails are being snooped on by the NSA and other agencies. It came out this morning that Germany's Chancellor Merkel has had her cell phone "tapped" and spied on by America's NSA since 2002! The crowd was also protesting the use of military drones, and the huge, bloated military and security apparatus by the American federal government and other countries, which had become huge, hostile, intrusive and unresponsive to the very people it is supposed to serve and protect. JTMP urges our supporters to contact their elected officials at all levels, and scream that you want your privacy back, and tell them to "Stop Watching Us"!
One of the leading organizations leading the protests is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and you can read more about them at EFF.org, and to read more about the various artists and musicians that were at a New York rally yesterday, check out BroadwayWorld.com. Watch an EFF YouTube video below of the scope of the chilling problem with our privacy, and if you want more check out the the rally's website at Rally.StopWatching.Us.
OCT 24, 2013 - The 30 Greenpeace activists that were arrested and detained after attempting to peacefully occupy an oil drilling platform in a protest action against oil drilling in the Barents Sea, now face charges of "hooliganism". Read more on JTMP Green here.
OCT 21, 2013 - Graham Nash talked music and politics with FOX411 recently, and he talked about how his father went to jail for a year over an incident where someone hid a $30 camera at his house, so he developed a "sense of unfairness." Nash told FOX411, "I always felt the justice system was buyable. Rich people don't go to jail, it's always the poor people." With JPMorgan trashing our economy and stealing money from people's retirement accounts and taxpayers and only paying a fine and nobody going to jail, it seems he is on to something.
Nash talked about the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and how he got a call from a friend telling him they needed defense money for people who disturbed the convention, and asked him to come out and sing. Nash said, "When I heard what happened to Bobby Seale, where they bound him and chained him and gagged him and called it a fair trial. When you put Bradley Manning into a room with bright lights for 24 hours a day and strip him naked and humiliate him for a thousand days before his trial, that's not fair to me."
To read the entire FOX411 interview click here. (photo credit: Matthew Harris/CC)
OCT 17, 2013 - As I was walking my dog this morning on the federal park land of the C&O Canal Towpath, me and several neighbors spotted a US Park Service truck pull up ad 2 feral Park Service workers got out. We welcomed them back, and they responded they had a lot of backed-up work they had to do. We were very welcome to see our vital government workers, in this case assuring we have safe outdoors to take walks and enjoy nature, back at work providing us the many needed services we rely on everyday. The old saying goes, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" applies. The Teabaggers, by shutting down the government, made us appreciate the myriad of governmental services all of us Americans have created with our government that sustains a comfortable level of lifestyle. From an elderly retiree getting their social security check, the soldier receiving their pay, to young kids getting help with Headstart, our governmental services are vital and important. JTMP strongly urges our supporters to watch out for conservatives and conservative organizations. They are coming after our Social Security, Medicare and al the other governmental institutions built by progressives over the years. Make sure you vote every time even in primaries, and pay attention to local elections as well as federal elections. Make sure you tell your government workers and your government representatives: Welcome back! Thank you for your services, and please do all you can to protect and secure entitlement programs. Bolster them up, inject new funding, do means testing; do whatever it takes to SAVE our entitlement programs, not get rid of them like certain conservative organizations propose. (photo credit: Chris Gray-Garcia/US Army Corps Engineers/CC)
OCT 15, 2013 JTMP strongly recommends that Americans pay extra close attention to local elections, such as state delegates, state representatives, city council members, board of education members and especially Governorships. Governors in some states appoint state supreme court justices, that serve for life in some instances, that will rule on issues such as forced ultrasounds on women to voting hurdles erected by state politicians. Virginia is one of those states that is very important when it comes to progressive values, and today is the last day to register to vote in Virginia's 2013 Gubernatorial election. JTMP recommends EVERYONE registers to vote, but especially if you live in Virginia please register to vote and take part in democracy; it is not a spectator sport. Register to vote in Virginia HERE, and if you live elsewhere find out how to register to vote HERE. For more information on the candidates running, start at Wikipedia here.
OCT 14, 2013 - Laura Lush, punk rock bass player for the band "Get Shot" that mixes music and pornography, masturbated on the front lawn of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest their hatred and unhealthy attitudes towards sex by the Westboro Baptist Church. In a statement Laura said, "The Phelps family and Westboro Baptist Church are ridiculous and do nothing except spread hate and cause controversy. As a bisexual woman and a bass player of a ridiculous punk band, I want to spread my legs and cause controversy." If you are aged 18 or older, and are not a prude, watch the masturbation video below. WARNING: SEXUALLY GRAPHIC VIDEO!
OCT 14, 2013 - In a great article and interview by David Daley on the Salon.com website, Daley writes about guitarist and musician Peter Buck, and how he he is deeply involved in helping lesser-known bands getting going and is so involved with making and producing music he actually made 4 albums in one month! His latest project is the band "Tired Pony" and they have just released their album "The Ghost of the Mountain". In the interview Buck talks about a lot of issues from releasing his first solo album on vinyl (he hates CDs) to how many of REM's "crew" they worked with went on to join Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Buck doesn't give many interviews, and this might be the last interview he will ever give. Read the interview on Salon.com here.
OCT 13, 2013 - Taylor Swift, the leading charitable musician of the year in 2012, has upped the ante even more. Taylor has given the biggest donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum ever, $4 million dollars, to open up a "Taylor Swift Education Center" on 2 floors in the building. Ms. Swift is no stranger to the place, for she performed volunteer fundraising when she was younger and even performed as a teenager at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and even signing her first contract there.
The Taylor Swift Education Center features 3 classrooms, a learning lab and a state-of-the-art children's exhibit gallery, and increases their classroom capacity by sevenfold. It features dozens of instruments, and curators on display restoring musical instruments that will eventually go on display. Read more on Taylor Swift's website here, and also check out a great article about it on GuardianLV.com here. Check out a comment from Taylor Swift at the unveiling of the Education Center below.
I was jamming out to one of my favorite folk-bluegrass songs, "Green Rolling Hills (of West Virginia)" and researching who wrote the song, I ran into an awesome story about a great activist musician named "Utah" Phillips. Bruce "Utah" Phillips was a legendary activist musician that is described as poet, storyteller, labor organizer, and the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935, eventually joined the army in 1956, and saw the horrors of war with his own eyes in the Korea following the war there. On his return he threw himself into activism, and worked at Joe Hill House, a house of hospitality. He even ran for US Senate and the US Presidency. He was a big fixture in the folk music scene in Saratoga Springs, New York for years, and was a proud member of the IWW, or Industrial Workers of the World. His concerts were his opportunity to opine his political thoughts, and were in essence IWW meetings. He wrote "Enola Gay" in 1991, commenting on the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was also a member of Veterans for Peace, a huge group here in Washington, DC when it comes to rallies and activism. As you will see below, "Utah" often preceded his songs with long storytelling.
He eventually settled down in Nevada City, California where he started up a shelter Hospitality House, and also the Peace and Justice Center. He died in 2008 of heart disease.
In the 1970s "Utah" wrote "Green Rolling Hills", which has become a folk and bluegrass music scene staple, and sings of the troubles of a coal miner in West Virginia not finding work (probably because there is no union). Emmylou Harris covered the song in her 1978 album "Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town", and Kathy Mattea has recently recorded a version of it. In a Herald-Dispatch.com obituary, "Utah" describes traveling through West Virginia and connecting with the folks there who want to leave because there are no jobs, but cannot leave because, "It's these hills. They keep you. And when they've got you, they won't let you go." Listen to "Enola Gay" from "Utah" Phillips, a legendary activist-musician who will be long remembered, in a Youtube video below. Check out the wonderful and rich world of activist-musician "Utah" Phillips at his website: TheLongMemory.com. (photo credit: Carptrash/CC)