Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sun Ra, Habitats, Cover bands, The Who, and Punctuation Funnies



adapted from a Peanuts strip which first appeared Oct 14, 1961. Thanks to Chris Piuma for inspiration.

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I've been away in Algonquin Park on a canoeing trip with my school as part of an Outdoor Education course for high school students. It was cold but beautiful. The lakes were quiet and humanless. We saw remarkably little wildlife -- some ducks, a bald eagle, fish. It seemed like we were on the empty set of a science fiction movie where the natural world had been replaced by. . . the natural world. The natural world standing in as a cover band for the natural world. Except with the sound turned down a few notches. And eleven inches to the right.

And last night, I attended a performance by the greatest living The Who cover band: The Who. And the night before, I went to the amazing Sun Ra Arkestra at the Palais Royale with the Coleman Lemieux dance company. My friend, Peter Chin, was dancing with them. Here's Carl Wilson's comments about the whole pangalactic shindig. Or should that be sheebang. It was an amazing concert. It really struck me that the Arkestra were surviving exponents of an authentic tradition. When they played Fletcher Henderson's music from the 20s/30s, it sounded grungy, wild, gritty, and dangerous. The opposite of the sanitized Stage Band versions one usually hears. I realized how the original bands were playing this wild jungly music that existed in opposition to the prevailing white mainstream. Completely natural, from a different culture, and very subversive. There was a lovely link between this repertoire and the free jazz repertoire that is their mainstay. And some of these guys were in their mid-80s screeching and wailing away, walking the dance floor, surrounded by writhing. Let that be me forty years from now.

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