Saturday, June 21, 2008

Holiday, Celebrate

Edwin Birdsong - Rapper Dapper Snapper

George Duke - Dukey Stick

War - That's What Love Can Do

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Three killer soul-funk jams for the first day of summer. Edwin Birdsong is the guy that Daft Punk samples for "Harder Bigger Faster Stronger," a song called "Cola Bottle Baby. " This track, Rapper Dapper Snapper, is really nicely bugged and fun. It's slow and trippy and playful, like summertime, and sounds like Arthur Russell doing a funk jam. The crowning element is clearly the little girl's voice shouting I love it! repeatedly.

"Dukey Stick" is another classic deep weird one, by George Duke, and the lyrics are about how he has this stick, called a Dukey (pronounced "dookie"), and it seems like this stick can be of great recreational value to you, if you are a lady. It makes me want to hold a grown black man.

"That's What Love Can Do" is from War's album All Day Music, which isn't really about cutey singalongs like "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and more about moody voodoo burners ala Dr. John. Actually the whole side 2 of the album is pretty spaced and intense. This jam does that minor-major two chord vamp, sounding sad then happy then sad, that echoes lyrics about tumultuous emotions. You could make out with another person to it, or you could cruise around in the middle of the night by yourself and curse yourself for screwing up. Then after a while the song opens up into a drifty psych pasture where a saxophone frolics, like "Dark Side of the Moon" style.

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June 21st is my brother Bob's birthday, (happy birthday dude) and is also the first day of summmer. no other seasonal turning point merits such strong unofficial holiday status as this day. My brother and I have summer birthdays placed relatively close to one another, which meant that when we were kids it was often felicitous of my parents to organize a single mega-party for the two of us, placed strategically between the calendar days.

Such an event was aided by the fact that we always had a large backyard swimming pool, a glowing emblem of my childhood that I am now, sandwiched in Brooklyn concrete while the city melts without mercy, only too painfully aware of missing.

In contrast to this, there's a tradition in modern thought, beginning with Friedrich Hoelderlin, that teaches us we don't have to wait for the calendar to have a holiday.
Personally I prefer the ones that sneak up on you and strike like lightning, so that you realize only in the middle of it, or maybe only the morning after, that the whole affair had been a kind of rupturous celebration, a giving-thanks out of nowhere.

Summer solstice on a saturday is a grand thing, to say the least, and this grandness was attested to by a widespread outdoor live music endeavor put on in williamsburg, which saw bands almost every block setting up on the curb. The act that struck me the most was needless to say a gamelan orchestra that set-up in McCarren park - they're called Gamelan Dharma Swara and are affiliated with the Balinese consulate. A dozen or so performers hitting exquisitely decorated tuned gongs. No dancers unfortunately, and no private press albums either. But they did allow onlookers to participate - I'll leave it to you to guess how happy I was to spend this glorious day sitting in on an improv gamelan throwdown in the park. Also it turns out my gamelan game is vicious - most playing I do on keys is fairly percussive and repetitive, so I was laying down Mick Ronson gong solos in no time.

Here is Gamelan Dharma Swara in full effect. If you go to their website you can ask if you can sit in on rehearsals or maybe play along with them. Can you imagine touring with a gamelan orchestra? You'd be like the fourth Sun City Girl.

Gamelan Dharma Swara - Legong Kuntul

"this court dance depicts the movements of white herons in the rice field."

What, do they think we're stupid? obviously it depicts white herons in the f*cking rice field. Jesus.

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