R.I.P. 100.3 THE SOUND – AND KCRW
The first has finally faded from the airwaves, too bad so sad, they were a quality music station pulsating from your dashboard in a dial full of dreck rock. Don’t go there now, 100.3 — you’ll find a Christian rock station. Why Christianity seems antithetical to rockin’ out I don’t know but I defy you to bring me a great “Christian rock” band, performer or even a song. Sure doesn’t hurt gospel, reggae, country or soul; it’s a foundation for some of the best of those. There are some excellent rockers who are Christians, like U2 and Lenny Kravitz, but they’re savvy enough to know the music has to serve the message not the other way around, and the message needs to be suggested, philosophical, proffered, not doctrinaire, dogmatic, rigid. Best if you can do so without a single “Jesus” or “Lord.”
KCRW is still on the air but they died, for me, years ago. I reminded myself by checking in for a few songs the other day. Admittedly it was morning, but there’s a difference between mellow and milquetoast. It hit me in the face when I parked my car and walked into CVS and then the 99 Cent Store and BOTH were playing better music than KCRW. Ouch. Tuning in briefly a few days ago also reminded me that the other reason I used to love KCRW was the public affairs programming, but PBS has taken a substantial lean to the right.
What a world. Can’t listen to KCRW, can’t trust the League of Women Voters, can’t stroll in Santa Monica without a pepper spray in your pocket.
Were incredibly disrespected by the Draft Dodger-in-Chief Monday. You surely heard about it: the White House ceremony supposedly to honor the brave Navajo code talkers from WWII was staged under the evil glare from the huge portrait of “Indian Killer” Andrew Jackson, culminating with a gratuitous racist reference to Pocahontas from Chief Bone Spurs.
I didn’t recognize Peter MacDonald, now nearly 90, from the video coverage, as one of those “honored.” Growing up in New Mexico, he was as well-known as any local politician, the only person ever elected Tribal Chairman four times (16 years). He’s an Arizonan but the really huge reservation, 27,400 square miles, stretches across three states, covering a large chunk of northwest NM and more than 100,000 Navajos in New Mexico. That’s larger than Albuquerque was when I was a kid.
MacDonald created many innovative, vital programs for his people, but was also controversial, eventually forced out and convicted of defrauding the Navajo Nation, conspiracy to commit burglary and to incite riot, kidnapping, taking bribes and kickbacks, racketeering, extortion, riot, and corruption. Government prosecutors later admitted their misgivings about the charges and trial to the NY Times. “I’ve always wondered if we (prosecutors) were the dupes,” one remarked. President Clinton commuted his sentence in 2001.
Another of the honorees, Thomas Begay, told CNN that while he was puzzled by Trump’s Pocahontas comment, he was not offended by it. “The Marines made us yell ‘Geronimo’ when we jumped out of planes, and that didn’t offend me either,” Begay said. God bless the Dinế.
“Guzo” — Samuel Yirga; “Addis Through the Looking Glass” — Dub Colossus (both, Real World Records).
Last “Noteworthy” column I teased about “stunning young Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga, and his exciting work with Addis Ababa collective Dub Colossus. Well, here they be, you’ve got the info, what are you waiting for?
Yirga is definitely a gifted pianist barely into his 30s, a crafter of gorgeous melodies and keeper of a fierce rhythmic pulse. No one I’ve told the story to believes that he auditioned for a famous music school in Addis Ababa and was admitted based on his performance that day on the piano — an instrument he had never previously touched. But it probably is true that he was thrown out for ignoring classical studies to spend hours reworking Ethiopian folk classics into jazz hybrids.
His distinctive touch is also all over the Dub Colossus disc, which is a project of producer Nick Page, who started off in a hut in Ethiopia. It moved to the big city and then to London, picking up influences from Ethiopian and other African musicians residing there, and of course the reggae/dub flavor all over London for decades (“My Boy Lollipop”). The “Addis” disc is wide ranging, definitely dub in places, jazzy horns, very African (if I may be so generic), stirring vocals, a wild ride that never confuses or loses the thread of its influences, and the desire to supercharge solid folk melodies into gotta-dance sing-alongs (you try, even though you don’t know a word of Amharic). (“Guzo” means “journey”).
“Addis” is more frenetic and culturally mixed, “Guzo” more stamped with Yirga’s pianistic vision. They make exceptional bookends to take you through an afternoon of dancing, reverie or vacuuming. I can’t name a cut on either I don’t look forward to.
ALSO HIGHLY: Wed., Dec. 6. Our one truly great remaining FM AAA-Americana rocker, KCSN-FM, 88.5, now with a much stronger signal, presents an invitation-only concert with one of my favorite new bands (that I discovered through them), the gritty Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Village Studios in Canoga Park, free, if they draw your name and email you — must sign up at the website by Dec. 1. If you get lucky, please take me as your guest.
ALSO RECOMMENDED: Friday. Holy hip hop heroes retro! “Kings of the West” Ice Cube, Snoop and Cypress Hill. Microsoft Theater, 8 p.m., $75 – $350.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To my famous, long-gone cousin. May you always light up the world, like a comet.
LYRIC OF THE WEEK: “Hail stones beatin’ on the roof, the bourbon is a hundred proof, it’s you and me and the telephone, our destiny is quite well known” — Robbie Robertson (“Rag Mama Rag”)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org