Blues Talkin' - Culture, Politics & Life

George Clinton Tells the Deal on Dope

“There’s more profit in pretending that we’re stopping it than selling it.” – Some medicine from Dr. Funkenstein.

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Rest In The Funk – Gil Scott-Heron

“You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip out for beer during commercials, Because the revolution will not be televised.”

Gil Scott-Heron made his transition on Friday afternoon, May 27. He was 62 years old.

He is a Godfather of Hip Hop, and the father of socially, politically conscious and revolutionary minded poets, singers and musicians.

“Home is where I live inside my white powder dreams. Home was once an empty vacuum that’s filled now with my silent screams. Home is where the needle marks try to heal my broken heart, and it might not be such a bad idea if I never, if I never went home again.”

His best work challenged an often superficial, materialistic, uncaring America, while turning a light on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of regular people.

“A rat done bit my sister, Nell, and whitey’s on the moon. Her face and arms began to swell, and whitey’s on the moon.”

Gil Scott-Heron is inspirational. His poetry, his songs are important because of his ability to frame complex political questions in simple everyday language.

Rest in the Funk, Gil Scott-Heron.

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Rest In The Funk – Mark Adams of Slave

Sad news… former Slave front man Steve Arrington just posted this on Twitter:

@Steve_Arrington: “My friend since high school has passed early this morning. The great Mark Adams bass player of Slave. I can’t believe it.”

Mark was the first member of the band most of us heard as the teenage bass prodigy kicked of their monster first single “Slide”. It was that funky bassline that propelled the song to the number 1 spot on the R&B charts.

Adams is underrated as a bass hero. His creative, rhythmic lines powered the Ohio group’s dynamic dancefloor-shaking Stellar Fungk.

Adams explained his approach in an interview with Bass Player Magazine: “I’ve been fortunate in Slave that the band has always given me space to be a melody instrument and to lead the groove. I talk through my bass and step forward like a lead singer riffing…”

I remember pulling out those old Slave records when I was first learning to play the bass. Adams’ work offers endless lessons in how to utilize the bass guitar as a lead instrument without getting in the way of the vocals and lyrics.

There’s no word yet on the cause of death, but our thoughts and prayers go out to the Slave family.

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Fields Are Burning – Music Inspired By Rodney King & The LA Riots

Jack Johnson (the band) – Fields Are Burning by nomowale

20 years ago today Rodney King was beaten by LA police officers after a high speed chase. The attack was videotaped by a resident in a nearby apartment complex, and later aired around the world. We all witnessed the brutality inflicted by men who were trusted to protect and serve.

Over a year later those police officers were acquitted, and that miscarriage of justice sparked one of the worst race riots in US history. The burning and looting was televised as well. We all watched as black people beat a white truck driver, and entire neighborhoods went up in smoke at the hands of local residents.

2000 miles away in Nashville, Tennessee, my roommate, Steve and I tried to make sense of it all. Steve, who is white, could certainly understand the anger, but couldn’t fathom why these people were so enraged that they would destroy their own community.

In those nights of frank discussion I found it difficult to explain the madness. It was hard for me to articulate to my white middle class friend the frustration and alienation that blacks in America felt at that time.

With this verdict we saw proof that our lives were meaningless in the eyes of the US legal system. Here was evidence that a man had been beaten unjustly, but the perpetrators were found not guilty. A jury of the officer’s peers – not Rodney King’s peers, mind you – said it was okay. This was the America we lived in every day.

Would I be next? There was no way to know.

A few weeks later, I wrote this song. It was recorded in 1995 by my band Jack Johnson for our album Round One. In retrospect, I’m not sure I articulated the anger any better, but I believe the recording, and especially the one-take solo by guitarist Paul Cochrane, captures the frenzy and fury of those long dark days.

Has America improved since then? I think so. But I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I see a squad car behind me. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away…

“Fields Are Burning”
Written by Kurtis McFarland
Performed by Jack Johnson (the band) for the album Round One (PC! Music)
Produced by Kurtis McFarland & Rob Feaster

Paul Cochrane – guitar
Simone White – drums
Ethan Pilzer – bass
Kurtis McFarland – vocals, guitar, programming

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Raw Story: Liberal Activists Pledge to Oppose Obama in 2012

What do you think about this article from The Raw Story:

Hundreds of liberal organizers and anti-war activists have signed a petition pledging to oppose President Barack Obama’s renomination in 2012 unless he reverses course in Afghanistan and pushes for significant cuts to military spending.

“We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war policies unless and until he reverses them,” the pledge reads.

Veteran activist and lobbyist David Swanson “…added that there’s something ‘incredibly dishonest’ about criticizing President George W. Bush’s war and military policies without applying those same standards to Obama.”

Obama War Cartoon - HorseyMany of these same activists supported Obama’s 2008 presidential bid even though candidate Barack made it very clear that his intention was to shift the focus of war from Iraq to Afghanistan. The argument then was we couldn’t afford another four years of Bush, and that McCain would be a continuation of the same failed policies.

While Obama is different from Bush, and isn’t as bad as Republicans make him out to be, the president’s continuation of Bush era policies – continued domestic spying, no closure of Guantanamo, the sanctioning of torture, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Wall Street bailouts and pandering to corporate America – are indefensible.

But is this a wise move? Certainly there are other candidates who would be more acceptable to liberals (Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold are mentioned), but could they gain the political (and financial) capital needed to mount a credible opposition?

What about the ever present Green Party? Could they make a serious push in 2012 with backing from big name liberals who oppose Obama’s wars?

Is this struggle for the soul of America worth the risk of a President Romney or President Gingrich or a President Palin?

At what point do you sacrifice “standing on your principles” and “doing the right thing” for “political pragmatism and expediency?” Well, ok. Liberals have been doing that for years with support of the Democratic party. When will it stop? If not now, when?

The Raw Story: Hundreds of liberal activists pledge to oppose Obama in 2012

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