ImagineNATIVE Review: The Road Forward (Marie Clements, 2017)

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews | Leave a comment

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To varying degrees and on a spectrum of acceptance, we are all aware of the issues facing our First Nations communities. If our knee jerk reaction on being exposed to these painful, negative stories is denial, then we shouldn’t be surprised that this selective pressure pushed for the evolution of fighters: singers, songwriters and activists whose whole lives are built around being heard, being recognized to promote change. And thus, we come to this film. The Road Forward is a positive (and forceful) image of people who had no choice but to fight for their own rights, told through songs.

The Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood of BC are organizations that sprung up in the 1930s in response to deprivation of liberties of the native people on the BC coast. Originally formed around fish processing factories to the blueprint of a workers union, it gradually took on the job of neighborhood watch in Canadian politics regarding native rights and freedom. Recognizing the need to unite the cause as well as to communicate news in general, in 1946 they began to run the paper Native Voice, not as the mouthpiece of the organization, but as THE gazette for native life and politics in BC and around the country. That is where The Road Forward starts.

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If we are feeling reductive (and blind and deaf and dumb), we could categorize this as another “struggle film”: documenting and prominently highlighting the otherwise invisible hardship people endure outside of our plastic anechoic chamber. But that would not only be a gross understatement, but also an irresponsible one. Calling this a musical slightly breaks the term as we typically grasp it in the Broadway sense. Yes, it uses blues, rock and rap to convey, emphasize, and weave together a story. Yes, it is a great showcase for native talents who persevered despite adversity. But it has more soul, and more self-determination, than that description betrays. Like saying fried chicken is just poultry pieces with breading in hot oil for 10 minutes, the secret is in the cookin’ and eatin’. The vehicle on which these feelings of pride, shame, fear, sorrow, cultural confusion, and far more beyond, is the key to this film. This allowed it to take on a new ability, and strike a distinct tone on the same subject that we all know (and tend to bury in ignorance) so well. And so, even if it lacks analysis of pragmatic solutions as to the road going forward, you need to watch this. It’s a powerful and important monologue, and we need to hear the (war) cries and start to discuss and enact realistic and humane solutions.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Narvel Felts – Narvel The Marvel (1976, ABC Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment

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We continue our examination of the long forgotten art of ridiculously hyped up liner notes with a look at the back cover of Narvel the Marvel, the 1976 album by fabulously named country singer Narvel Felts with liner notes written by the legend herself, Dolly Parton.

Parton’s notes sing the praises of Mr Felts, or perhaps she yells his praises, seeing as how whoever designed the layout for this decided to print the text in all caps. Before I realised it was Dolly writing this, I was hearing it in my head in the voice of David Lynch’s FBI director character Gordon Cole from Twin Peaks (“LAST NIGHT I HAD ANOTHER MONICA BELLUCCI DREAM. MONICA CALLED AND ASKED ME TO WRITE A FEW WORDS ON THE MUSIC OF ONE NARVEL FELTS.”)

Here they are, in all their capitalized glory:

TO LOOK AT HIM YOU WOULD THINK, I’LL BET HE COULD WIN ANY FIGHT HE EVER GOT INTO.

TO KNOW HIM YOU WOULD THINK THE LAST THING HE WOULD WANT TO DO IS FIGHT.

HIS EYES ARE KIND, HIS SMILE QUICK AND GENUINE, HIS VOICE FRIENDLY, AND HIS WORDS, HUMBLE AND SINCERE.

YOU FEEL THE FIRST TIME YOU MEET HIM THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS KNOWN HIM AND THAT YOU WILL ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW HIM.

HE REMINDS YOU OF A BROTHER OR A FAVORITE UNCLE THAT YOU ENJOY BEING WITH BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE WAY THEY ARE. AN ORDINARY MAN WITH ORDINARY WAYS AND AN EXTRAORDINARY TALENT.

HIS NAME IS CALLED, HE HITS THE STAGE TAKING HIS TIME AND TAKING LONG, LANKY STEPS UNTIL HE STANDS BEFORE THE MICROPHONE. HIS HUMBLE ATTITUDE ON STAGE SEEMS TO SAY “WELL, HERE I AM. I SURE HOPE YOU LIKE ME.” AND YOU DO. HIS VOICE IS UNBELIEVABLE, FULL OF EXCITEMENT AND EMOTION, SINCERITY AND SURPRISES.

HE IS UNIQUE. HE IS A STYLIST. HE IS GREAT AND HE IS UNDERRATED.

THE GREATNESS OF HIS STYLE IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED, BUT ONCE YOU EVER LISTEN CLOSE ENOUGH TO ANALYZE IT, YOU THINK THAT IT’S THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE SOUND YOU EVER HEARD. AND YOU EITHER COME TO LOVE IT OR YOU NEVER LEARN TO APPRECIATE IT, BUT WHETHER YOU EVER LEARN TO APPRECIATE IT OR NOT DOESN’T MEAN IT IS ANY LESS GREAT. SOME THINGS ARE JUST TOO DIFFERENT TO BE UNDERSTOOD.

I GUESS YOU KNOW BY NOW THAT I LOVE NARVEL FELTS THE PERSON, AND NARVEL FELTS THE ARTIST. I SAY ARTIST BECAUSE HE TRULY IS. HE HAS MASTERED THE ART OF SINGING AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED.

NOW, ABOUT THIS ALBUM. I ASKED IF I COULD WRITE A FEW WORDS ON THE BACK OF IT WHEN I HEARD THE SONGS THAT WERE TO GO INTO THIS ALBUM. AND EVEN THOUGH MY WORDS HAVE AMOUNTED TO MORE THAN A FEW, I COULD NEVER SAY ALL I WOULD LIKE TO ABOUT NARVEL FELTS, THE CHOICE OF SONGS, AND HIS PERFORMANCE ON THIS ALBUM.

NARVEL IS A MARVEL. SOME BELIEVE IN PETER PAN, BUT I BELIEVE IN NARVEL FELTS.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Billy “Crash” Craddock – Mr. Country Rock (1973, ABC Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment

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One of the things that we’ve lost since downloading and streaming took over as our main sources of music is the effort put into the packaging and presentation of music, specifically the effort put into liner notes. A recent crate digging exposition led to the acquisition of some “new” used records and got me to thinking that they just don’t make liner notes like they used to back in the day. Many of the older records of the ’50s,’60s, and ’70s would feature someone (some sort of notable music industry figure, maybe the artist themselves, or perhaps just some random writer looking to make a quick buck) waxing poetic about the contents of the record. Sure, albums today can still feature pretty extensive notes, but they’re of a different nature and as time moves on, these kinds of glowing testimonials have definitely fallen from favour. Too bad – just imagine what could have been if famous “punk” Ivanka Trump had been given the chance to give us her thoughts in the packaging for Nirvana’s In Utero.

With this in mind, we celebrate the glory of the liner note by having a look at the back cover of Mr. Country Rock by Billy “Crash” Craddock. Yes, it’s true – aside from having the nickname “Crash,” Billy Craddock also has the audacity to refer to himself as “Mr. Country Rock,” which is weird. Ain’t it? Gram Parsons should have kicked this guy’s ass for making such a claim.

Behold, the liner notes. I’m not sure who wrote this and I’m not really sure what they’re on about (“Electric sunglasses?” “Hard throbbing dance rhythms?” Psychedelic bumper stickers?), but go ahead and behold:

Ain’t it weird? I mean the way it happens sometimes.

A guy starts out to be a rock ‘n roll star, and they promote him with ads and bumper stickers and electric sunglasses and what not, and then they sit back and wait for the money to roll in.

But the magazines with yesterday’s news start piling up on the table by the visitor’s couch – their yellowing advertisements constant reminders of mistakes the geniuses would rather forget. And the crumbling bumper stickers giving way to shiny psychedelic messages such as “See Ruby Falls” or “America, Love It Or Leave It.” And another promising star-to-be becomes one more might have been.

Then somebody remembers, and somebody believes – and together they work in new directions toward new goals:

Country music – slashing twin fiddles and wailing steel guitars, mixed with the infectious beat of rock – the hard throbbing dance rhythms that exploded rock almost overnight as the pop music of the young and young at heart.

Country rock. A hybrid compound, a style, a formula for success for a might-have-been who made it to the top – and who intends to stay there:

Mr Country-Rock, Billy “Crash” Craddock.

Ain’t it weird?

Song Of The Day: Jukebox The Ghost – Stay The Night

Posted on by Celeste in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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How many things in life bring you pure happiness? Like I’m talking pure, unadulterated happiness. Tail wagging, hands clapping, grinning ear to ear, new ice cream cone, new car, first pumpkin spice latte of the season, presents wrapped under the tree, laden Thanksgiving table, fireworks on the 4th of July, freshly baked apple pie, ice cream cake, snow day happiness?

Jukebox the Ghost is pure unadulterated happiness in sonic form. From power pop to ballads, the trio’s glittering, silky smooth, energy-infused tracks are pure perfection. If the threesome weren’t so darn cute, quirky, and lovable you’d almost hate them for being too perfect.

Jukebox the Ghost is on tour right now – you can catch them coming up at San Francisco (10/27), Chicago (10/28 and 10/29), Philadelphia (10/31), Brooklyn (11/16), Waterloo (12/2), and Toronto (12/3). Go experience the happiness.

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