Category Archives: Politics

Watch Politically-Themed Video from Barbez/Velina Brown

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By Blurt Staff

We’ve covered the amazing Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez in the past, including their brilliant Bella Ciao album (“They are a large ensemble, ethnically curious, jazz-experimental, proggily complex outfit with a tendency to explore beautifully obscure corners not just of the music world, but also of literature,” wrote reviewer Jennifer Kelly). You can also check out a video for the “Bella Ciao” song itself here at BLURT.  Now the group has collaborated with the Bay Area singer Velina Brown on a recording and video of L’Internationale, the unofficial anthem of Republican Spain. Check it out:

This new rendering features the members of Barbez: Peter Hess (Philip Glass Ensemble) clarinets, Pamelia Kurstin (David Byrne, Cibo Matto) theremin, Danny Tunick (The Clean) marimba, vibraphone, Dan Kaufman (Rebecca Moore) guitar, Catherine McRae (filmmaker Sam Green, the Quavers) violin, Peter Lettre (Shearwater) bass, and John Bollinger (Sway Machinery) drums; with Velina Brown (San Francisco Mime Troupe) voice, and special guest Sebastiaan Faber on trumpet.

The song was released this week, on February 27th, the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Jarama, the first battle that included the Lincoln Brigade. The video was created by filmmaker David Pym and made possible by generous support from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve and teach the anti-fascist legacy of the Lincoln Brigade as well as promote human rights around the world.

And it’s remarkably timely, too, given that today’s alt-right was known eight decades ago as “fascists.” As Barbez and Brown point out,

“The first war they launched was in July 1936 when right-wing military generals attempted to overthrow the Republic’s government. Though the coup initially failed, these officers, led by Francisco Franco and aided by Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, transformed their effort into the three-year long Spanish Civil War, a dress rehearsal for World War II in which Nazi Germany pioneered new methods for mass killing in cities like Guernica.

“With xenophobia and far-right nationalism spreading across the United States and Europe to an extent not seen since the 1930s, it’s critical to recall the people who risked their lives to oppose such trends back then. Foremost among them were the International Brigades, tens of thousands of volunteers from around the world who journeyed to Spain in the late thirties to defend the democratic Spanish Republic against a fascist revolt. These included 2,800 Americans in what came to be called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.”

Barbez will perform April 16 at the Museum of the City of New York (the 81st anniversary of the Brigade), and then again May 20 with Brown at Joe’s Pub, where the collaborators will be doing songs associated with the Spanish Civil War. More details at these websites:

www.barbez.com

http://www.alba-valb.org/

 

 

 

Eat Ma’ Shortz: Chick-Fil-A Gets Punk’d by Grace Slick

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Up against the wall, motherfuckers: Airplane/Starship singer makes end run around the homophobes and turns their own money against ‘em. Below, watch her old band do “Volunteers” at Woodstock – it’s still a call to arms.

By Uncle Blurt

Marry me, Gracie; we’ll have the reception band play nothing but Jefferson Airplane covers.

Although financial magazine Forbes doesn’t come to mind immediately when one is looking for the latest music news, Tuesday the site was probably getting more than its fair share of visits from aging rockers, punk activists, and LGBTQ sympathizers. Possibly a few Chick-Fil-A customers, too, perplexed over why their favorite fast-food joint was taking a thumping once again.

Cast your mind back a few years to that Chick-Fil-A boycott stemming from the anti-same-sex-marriage activity and statements by CEO Dan T. Cathy, then check out an essay that singer Grace Slick published at Forbes in which she outlines, with surgical precision, her disdain for Cathy and Chick-Fil-A’s philanthropic wing, WinShape. Slick, it turns out, was approached by an ad agency seeking to license a hit tune she’d sung with Starship, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” —to Chick-Fil-A. “My first thought,” says Slick, “was ‘Fuck no!’” Then, upon reflection, she sanctioned the deal, and the commercial using her song was aired during the Grammy Awards.

Slick, however, wasn’t selling out—she was buying in, subsequently donating “every dime” she will accrue from the licensing deal to Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization active in working for LGBTQ civil rights. “Instead of them replacing my song with someone else’s and losing this opportunity to strike back at anti-LGBTQ forces, I decided to spend the cash in direct opposition to ‘Check’-fil-A’s causes – and to make a public example of them, too. We’re going to take some of their money, and pay it back.”

Slick rightly notes that when she was coming up through the rock ranks, she was part of a generation—as I was, too—that believed in taking a stand when a cause demanded it, and of not bowing down to the almighty dollar just because it was being dangled. And she concludes her editorial with a challenge to fellow musicians to think first before taking that dollar, and assess who is offering it—and, in turn, to find ways to target one’s music so it reflects one’s beliefs and ideals.

“We can use our gifts to help stop the forces of bigotry. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.”

You go, girl. If that’s not a goddam call to arms, then my name’s Milo.

Soul Legend Sam Moore, Meanwhile, Opts for Endorsing Trump

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And yes, before you ask, “performing for the Trump inauguration” does equal “endorsing Donald Trump for President.” Below, watch a classic clip of Sam and the Boss during more ethically responsible days.

By Uncle Blurt

Yesterday the news was about a somewhat obscure, though apparently much loved, Springsteen tribute act getting ripped a new collective asshole for playing a Trump inaugural celebration bash in New Jersey, then subsequently bowing to pressure and pulling out. Today, the news is about Sam & Dave soul legend Sam Moore – a lifelong hero of Springsteen, who has brought him onstage numerous times over the years, and therefore a much loved Springsteen fanbase hero  too – defiantly declaring that he plans to go through with his booking for the Trump inauguration.

As the Daily Beast reports. Moore told the press, following inquiries regarding the soul singer’s political allegiances,  “I am not going to let them, the left side, intimidate me from doing what I feel is the right thing to do for the country and that [presidential] seal. [Trump has] got a big mouth, like me, Whether you agree with him or not, he’s going to say what’s on his mind…. Give the man a shot. He hasn’t even said ‘I do’ yet. Give him a chance. If you don’t like him after four years, then don’t vote for him next time.”

The Springsteen camp has not commented on this as of yet.

One could say the same thing about music fans giving their heroes a shot as well, and then, upon being let down, declining to vote with their wallets next time the box office has an on-sale for a Sam Moore show… Well, at least we have all those awesome Springsteen bootlegs, the ones featuring Moore popping up to sing with the Boss, that we can sell on eBay for ridiculous prices?

So Sam, in the interest of total transparency, how much are you getting paid to shill for the Donald, and has anyone approached you about donating your fee to a social organization? What if we donated the money we get from selling the aforementioned bootlegs to the charity of YOUR choice as a little nudge, hmmm?

Fiona Apple Offers Anti-Trump Chant for Women’s March

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Where’s Lilith Fair when we need them?

By Uncle Blurt

Admittedly, it’s mercifully short, at 1:02, as a political “song.” And musically speaking, it’s doggerel – I’m being charitable here. Still, it’s a reasonably utilitarian chant that Fiona Apple’s fans can deploy at the anti-Trump rally of their choice – in particular, the upcoming Women’s March on Washington this Saturday (Jan. 21), which will come in the wake of the inauguration of our new president and should be attended by anyone and everyone who has the ability and time to get to D.C.

Apple, not typically known as the most succinct wordsmith (check her album titles for proof), has “collaborated” – term used loosely – with Michael Whalen for “Tiny Hands,” which includes a choice Donald Trump quote about females and their genitalia, and Ms. Apple’s declaration of “We don’t want your tiny hands/ Anywhere near our underpants.”

An admirable sentiment – and if this is a new “less Fiona Apple means more for music fans” trend, I’m all for it. The chanteuse didn’t have any problem being marketed as a doe-eyed, ingenue sexpot in the ’90s, so perhaps this is her way of atoning for her own blatant female exploitation.

Here’s the new Apple-Whalen “song.”

 

“We’re Just a Fun Band”: Springsteen Trib Group Busted by Fans, Dumps Trump

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“Just a job to us”: Blood money apparently trumped integrity until the public found out, but the B Street Band ultimately does the right thing and deserves credit for doing so.

By Uncle Blurt

What took you so long, guys?

Bruce Springsteen tribute band the B Street Band‘ has bowed out of a scheduled appearance at this week’s Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala following an outcry from Springsteen fans rightly claiming that to perform in honor of Donald Trump would be an affront both to Springsteen’s public statements denouncing the President-elect and to his well-documented social stances.

Deluged by the media for commentary, B Street Band frontman Will Forte told Rolling Stone, “All this stuff made it clear to us that this event is not worth it. It’s just a job to us. We’re just trying to hold up a contract. We’re not trying to prove anything. We’re just a fun band!”

“Fun band” or not, it would appear that the B Streeters were having a dandy time up until this morning, when the shit hit the fan. The backstory is that the group had performed the event in 2009 and 2013, subsequently signing up well in advance for the 2017 bash – understandable; and of course at that time, no one could foresee Trump becoming the man whose looming presidency would be the focus of the Jersey celebration. But hey – its been over TWO MONTHS since the winner of the election was announced, and thus the B Street Band has been on notice for two months who they would be shilling, er, playing for in January; it’s not like they suddenly woke up today from a deep slumber to the news. Not to mention the fact that Springsteen made his feelings about Trump known quite some time ago.

Hey Will Forte, you can talk about contracts all you want, but get real, bro. There’s such a thing as integrity, too. Your band had full intentions of getting paid for performing at the Trump event until you got busted by the fans.

Forte further advised Springsteen site Backstreets, clearly trying to cover his ass, in a public statement. Note the emphasis word “solely.”

With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year’s inauguration Gala.

Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.

Bruce’s music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B Street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers.

We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.

Now, just to be fair, Forte offered some less-rehearsed statements to the NY Times last week, although at the time he seemed so caught on the defensive that he wanted to promote the notion that his band was suddenly under the microscope because so many other artists were either declining to play for Trump or were pulling out under pressure. He also floated the concept of “honoring commitments,” which in his group’s case, would have been FINANCIAL commitments, wholly separate from any ethical ones.

Well, that’s why you call it “ethics” – a lot of folks over the years have chosen to face legalities of varying severity (for the B Streeters, a potential breach-of-contract suit, one supposes) rather than compromise their principles. That’s something one might reasonably expect of Springsteen himself.

In fact; “principles” is partly what Springsteen’s career was built upon. Largely, even. Clearly, for an act like the B Street Band, it’s easier and more convenient to talk the talk (i.e., play “Born To Run” and all those other songs night after night to fist-pumping crowds hungry for their favorite Boss numbers) than to walk the walk.

With that all said – and off my chest, because I’ve been a Springsteen fan since the early ’70s, and I suspect Forte has been, too, so in another reality, he might be the one writing this editorial about me had I taken up music as a career – let’s all agree that this is a most fucked up situation and everyone can learn a lot from it. Starting with humility, and continuing with forgiveness. Because people screw up. Speaking personally, I will be first in line if the B Street Band comes to town, because I want to hear the songs in any context they are offered. And I feel like they ultimately recognized they’d made a misstep, and they don’t deserve to take a financial hit (in the form of boycotts or cancelled bookings) because they opted for a very public apology that must have left everyone in their camp deeply embarrassed.

That doesn’t mean I won’t go up to Forte and engage him, even challenge him, on all this (no doubt he’ll be very, very sick of hearing about it by then). But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, because that’s probably what Bruce would do, too. Everyone’s human. Like I said, everyone screws up. Lord knows I have plenty of times over the years.

 

 

Trump Inauguration Musical Boycott Expands w/Mormon Tabernacle Choir Member

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Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Don….

By Blurt Staff

Some folks get Fleetwood Mac (Bill Clinton); others get Aretha Franklin (Barack Obama); and still others get America’s Got Talent “superstar” Jackie Evancho, whoever she is. The latter of course is the hi-wattage talent slated for the Trump Inauguration celebration, and no one is surprised that the proverbial “A-listers” are steering clear of the bash, Elton John being just one among many who have made it clear that they will be busy that night binging on Netflix or washing their hair.

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Today, a left-field decliner appeared on the horizon: a member of the decidedly non-partisan Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As CNN and other media outlets report, Choir member Jan Chamberlin announced that she was not only refusing to perform, she was actually quitting the ensemble in protest of its decision to appear at the inauguration. “I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man,” Chamberlin wrote in a Facebook post. “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him… Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man. Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm.”

Well, all right then! No official comment from the Choir yet, while Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn offered a generic “We’re honored to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform in the 58th Inauguration, their sixth time participating in inaugural ceremonies, and we look forward to their uplifting performance.”

Hey Donald, Ted Nugent might cut short his hunting trip that week if you wanna give him a call… he was willing to talk to BLURT about his political leanings, after all, and we suspect he might “lean” in your direction, wide stance optional…. Ditto Mike Love, he of the Beach Boys, who is no stranger to right-wing politics, and… waitaminnit, Love has already browbeat his fellow bandmembers into accepting the gig. Talk about some bad vibrations….

 

 

UPDATE/VIDEO: Beastie Boys Organize Anti-Hate Rally Following Swastika Incident

 

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UPDATE, 5PM 11/20/16: The “Stand Up Against Hate” event went off moderately well, with crowd estimates topping 100. The Beasties’ Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) addressed the crowd, saying, Ad-Rock spoke at the event, telling the crowd, “Spray-painting swastikas in a children’s playground is a messed-up thing to do. And for many of us, it has special meaning, because this park is named for Adam Yauch, who was my friend and bandmate for over 30 years. But he was also someone that taught non-violence in his music, in his life — to all of us, and to me.” Here’s a video posted to YouTube:

By Fred Mills

By now you’ve no doubt heard that there was a hate crime incident this weekend at Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn. Some person or persons spray painted a mangled-looking swastika along with the words “Go Trump” on playground equipment there in the park – which was named in the late Yauch’s honor as a memorial. Yauch himself was Jewish, so the likelihood of this being a coincidence is pretty slim. In any event, it’s reprehensible no matter who the park is named after.

Pushing back, the Beasties along with New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and NYC city councilman Brad Lande organized a rally for this morning, announcing at their Facebook page,

Hate has no place in Brooklyn, NYC, or America.
Join us on Sunday to stand against hate messages.
11:30, Adam Yauch Park, Brooklyn, NYC
Below, view the announcement flyer.
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Trump Campaigns Today in Michigan w/Ted Nugent

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Words sometimes fail us… but not for Ted!

By Uncle Blurt

According to the Detroit News: “Donald Trump plans to campaign in Michigan in each of the final two days of the presidential election, starting with a rally Sunday evening at the Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Sterling Heights and concluding with a late Monday night rally in Grand Rapids….Trump’s campaign on Saturday scheduled a 6 p.m. rally Sunday at the outdoor concert venue in Sterling Heights. Doors open at 3 p.m. and free tickets can be reserved on the Trump campaign website. Rocker Ted Nugent will join Trump at the event.”

Er, yeah. Sharp eyed Blurt readers will recall the exclusive interview the Motor City Madman did with us awhile back. Talking to Lee Zimmerman, Nugent offered a number of bon mots, including the following. They speak for themselves…

Political correctness is a lie. It’s just the cult of dishonesty. One and one are always going to make two, no matter how many people are offended by the number two. And that’s really how simple and stupid and pathetic political correctness is, so I dance on its skull on an hourly basis and it’s a joy for me.

[Obama is] a subhuman mongrel. That was in response to his daily violations of constitutionality and his oath to the office…his present hatred for America and freedom and our way of life. The guy was raised by communists. He was tutored by communists. Who doesn’t know where this guy came from?

I see no color. I see no ethnicity. I don’t know what your ethnicity is and there’s nothing in life I could care less about than someone’s religion or color or way of life choices, or gender alignment.

Hitler forced [the Jews] into victimization. By disarming them. How could a Jew or anyone not know that the battle cry of freedom, to save our Jewish friends is “Never again!” And what does “never again” mean? It means that we will never again let anyone disarm people and take control and then send us to the gas chambers.

I think Trump and Cruz are great men. I’m not picking an individual at this time. I speak to them and their camps on a regular basis and I have declined to endorse either. But quite honestly, it’s anybody but a Democrat. Those two frontrunners — Ted Cruz, a great man, and Donald Trump, a great man — neither are perfect, but compared to Hilary and Bernie, they’re almost like archangels.

If you’re going to attribute some nasty, hateful thing to me, at least make it believable. You can tell I’m chuckling throughout these things because on a personal level it doesn’t faze me a bit, but what does breaks my heart to the core is that those are fellow Americans making up the nastiest, cruelest,  hateful lies about another American. Again, not that it hurts me, but I’m hurt that that kind of conduct goes on.

R.E.M. + Sleater-Kinney = Filthy Friends w/Anti-Trump Tune

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And the “30 Days, 30 Songs” project is now “30 Days, 50 Songs”

By Barbi Martinez

Filthy Friends – R.E.M.’s Pete Buck, Scott McCauhey, and Bill Rieflin, plus the Fastbacks’ Kurt Bloch and Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker – weigh in on Dave Eggers’ “30 Days, 30 Songs” enterprise with the anti-Trump track “Despierta.” The hard rocking number boasts the telling lines, “Your time is over/ Your power’s peaked / Holding onto the past won’t make it repeat/ It’s time to get up/ I think you’re in my seat.” Listen to it, below – and note that if you hop over to the 30 Days site you’ll learn that it has been expanded now, with a target of 50 songs.

According to the band, “We wrote ‘Despierta’ a couple of years ago, before Trump announced his candidacy, as a sort of forecast for where the country might be changing culturally and politically. The reality of the Trump campaign has been much uglier and disheartening than any scenario we had imagined. We hope with all our hearts that we will be saying “Adios” to Trump come election day.”

Pussy Riot Tour Yields Special Lecture Stops

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Masha on tap for panel discussion in NC.

By Fred Mills

With Russia’s premiere (only) feminist punk band Pussy Riot currently touring North America, on a timely move, bandmember Maria (Masha) Alyokhina is also tackling selected speaking engagements—including one in Asheville, NC, home of BLURT’s western bureau According to the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Alyokhina’s tour will make a stop in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 for a panel discussion that’s open to the public. Alyokhina will be joined by Alexandra (Sasha) Bogino, a reporter at the band’s independent media outlet Mediazona.

The discussion will be moderated by English professor Lori Horvitz, who also directs the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, and UNCA student Emily Navarro.

Tickets: etix.com/ticket/o/4526.