Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seun Kuti Rocks Out With Santana, As His Father Fela Kuti Did Briefly In 1986... And The Shameful Story of How MTV Nearly Prevented Fela From Performing At All At Amnesty International's Conspiracy Of Hope Concert

                                                              (Photo: Seun Kuti/Sony Music Masterworks)

Nigeria's Seun Kuti, youngest son of Afro Beat legend Fela Kuti, recently teamed up with another legend, Carlos Santana, to produce the song "Black Times".

 Seun, speaking about "Black Times", says:

"Black Times is a true reflection of my political and social beliefs. It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together.
The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg.
We are all capable of change, us iron people, us workers. Black Times is the sound of the people and a weapon of the future. The big picture needs more colour."

Interestingly, Fela Kuti played onstage with Santana at Amnesty International's Conspiracy Of Hope Concert at New Jersey's Giant's Stadium on Sunday, June 15, 1986. Fela was meant to play a full set, but the bigwigs at MTV, who were broadcasting the concert live, thought he had no draw in America and didn't want him to perform at all. Santana saved the day by graciously offering to have Fela perform during his segment with Panamanian singer and activist Ruben Blades.

The Wikipedia entry for "Conspiracy of Hope":

The final show at Giants Stadium was an all-day event, running from noon until 11 p.m.

The following additional artists performed at this concert (in order): John Eddie (with guests Max Weinberg and 14 Karat Soul), Third WorldThe HootersPeter Paul & MaryLittle Steven (with guests Darlene Love and John Waite), Bob Geldof (also with guests Darlene LovePaul Schaeffer, and John Waite), Stanley JordanJoan ArmatradingJackson BrowneRubén Blades (with Fela and Carlos Santana), Nona HendryxYoko OnoHoward Jones, and Miles Davis

The show then continued with the regular performers (in order) of The Neville BrothersJoan Baez (Baez and the Nevilles also performed a number of songs together), Lou ReedPeter GabrielBryan AdamsJoni MitchellU2The Police (with Bono during the song Invisible Sun) and finally everyone came out together to perform "I Shall Be Released".

                                                 Fela with Lou Reed at "Conspiracy" Press Conference

Fela Promo For Amnesty Fundraising Campaign During Concert Broadcast on MTV

                Fela Onstage at Giants Stadium with the Ensemble after the finale of "I Shall Be Released"

The "Conspiracy Of Hope" concert was inspired by the "Secret Policeman's Ball" series of concerts and films in the UK featuring comedy and music to raise funds and awareness for Amnesty International. Amnesty supports human rights around the globe and became well-known for letter-writing campaigns to pressure authoritarian regimes to release political prisoners.

Fela had long been a thorn in the side of corrupt Nigerian politicians who he often called out by name in his 20 - 30 minute-long jazz-enfused journeys. He had just been released from prison and was able for the concert. Organizers realized what a coup it would be to have Fela at the concert. Not only would he add some much needed ethnic diversity to the line-up but he also neatly encapsulated exactly what Amnesty was about. Amnesty had worked on his case and he was freed, unharmed, rather than "disappeared" forever.

Massive hoops were jumped through, both in Nigeria and the U.S. to make the travel and visa arrangements for Fela and his band. Miraculously, it all worked out. Fela and band made it to the U.S. in time for the concert.

But there was a problem.

MTV had paid a hefty licensing fee to broadcast the concert live. Amnesty was counting on the money and exposure MTV promised to a young generation ready to be educated and become activists.

Fela is beloved in Nigeria and throughout Africa and the world to this day. Fans of world music have long boosted him as a true original, but it seemed that the staff at MTV literally had no idea who Fela was and how important he was. One participant joked that to the MTV staffers, "Fela" only meant the first four letters of what they were looking for that day.

Fela and his band were prepared to play a full 45-minute set but MTV insisted there was no room for him in the busy line-up. MTV was looking for "Live Aid, Part II" and a ratings bonanza. They didn't seem to be overly concerned about the politics of the situation or common decency toward Fela, a true prince of the African music scene.

In the end, Fela played with Santana and Ruben Blades and was introduced to the crowd.

It was amazing that he appeared at all, but it could have been so much more. The insult of the narrow-minded, ratings-minded MTV staffers wasn't known by most at the time who were simply blown away by the power of the performances on stage. But it is an insult that still stings. Looking at the sunny side... How wonderful it was for Santana to reach out to Fela back in '86, and now, over 30 years later, for him to reunite with the Kuti family in "Black Times"!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Greatest Headline Of All-Time: Trump Responds To Jay-Z On Unemployment Claims

Trump hits back at Jay-Z after rapper dismissed his claims about black unemployment

 Dylan Stableford 2 hours 28 minutes ago 

Playlist For The Beginning Of The World January 2018

Guitar Heroes

I'm a big fan of guitarists and am currently in the middle of a deep dive into Mick Ronson, one of the most innovative guitarists of our time or any other. Here's some of what I've been listening to lately:

"Madman Across The Water" (1970), Elton John, alternate version featuring Mick Ronson on guitar

Bowie/Mick Ronson collaborations 1970 - 1973: The Man Who Sold The World. Hunky Dory, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Aladdin Sane. Pin Ups, and Bowie At The Beeb: BBC Sessions 1968 - 1972

Mick Ronson on Lou Reed's Transformer (1972) (guitar, piano, recorder, string arrangements, production): especially the songs "Satellite of Love" and "Perfect Day"

Mick Ronson with Dylan (1975) as seen in the movie Renaldo and Clara, as heard on The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue 

Another recent re-discovery (for me), is Chicago guitarist Terry Kath, especially on the monster song "25 or 6 to 4", especially live. It was recently the anniversary of Terry's tragic handgun death. Other cry in the dark for sensible gun control in this country.

Dearly Departed

Birth days, death days, anniversaries.... all good reasons to take a new look at old stuff. Recent, sudden deaths of The Fall's Mark E. Smith and The Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan had many listening to their classics. Steely Dan's Walter Becker passed away last September, but it's been great listening to his classics, especially these live shows which I had never heard before... Half-tempted to see what Donald Fagen does with Steely Dan now... he's touring as "Steely Dan" this summer with The Doobie Brothers (many of whom, of course, started out with Steely Dan, including former lead singer Michael McDonald and guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter). Loved Donald Fagen's guest vocal on the devastatingly funny 2017 anti-Trump tirade Todd Rundgren's (The Man In The) "Tin Foil Hat"

The Fall "Totally Wired"

The Cranberries: "Linger", "Dreams", "Zombie"

Steely Dan Live at the Rainbow London 1974, Live at UC Irvine & Glendale 1974

New Stuff

Franz Ferdinand Always Ascending 

The Hold Steady "Entitlement Crew"/"Snakes In The Shower"

Jack White new album Boarding House Reach

Ezra Furman Transangelic Exodus

Tune-Yards I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

Seun Kuti & Santana "Black Times"(... and a video of Santana performing at a 1986 Amnesty International concert with Seun's father Fela Kuti, who had just been released from a political prison sentence in Nigeria, thanks in part to Amnesty's activism on his behalf)

Great Van Fleet, Led Zeppelin, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, and Richard Thompson walk into a bar...

Greta Van Fleet Black Smoke Rising (EP) From The Fires (Double EP)

"Battle Of Evermore", a duet featuring Robert Plant & Sandy Denny

Fairport Convention/Sandy Denny/Richard Thompson (First solo)

Golden Oldies

Tim Hardin "Can't Judge A Book By The Cover"

"Tear Down The Walls" Vince Martin & Fred Neil

The Easybeats

Dino Valente

Fleetwood Mac

Luke Jordan

Gene Clark

Louvin Brothers

Eric Von Schmidt

John Lee Hooker

Hoyt Axton

Otis Redding

Leadbelly & Woody

Sister O.M. Terrell (Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

Barbara Dane

Tom Paxton

Bob Gibson

Bobby Fuller

Monday, January 15, 2018

RTE: Cranberries Lead Singer Dolores O'Riordan Dies Suddenly

Dolores O'Riordan performing in France in 2016

Dolores O'Riordan performing in France in 2016
Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer with The Cranberries, has died suddenly at the age of 46.
The Limerick woman was in London for a short recording session.
In a statement her publicist said no further details are available at this time.
The statement added that "family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

Original on RTE.IE

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Trump Could Be Jailed In The UK For Hate Speech - And, Like Phil Spector, Would Have To Give Up His Wig! Humorist Martin Lewis Snatches Trump's Weave & Makes Joy Reid Laugh On AM Joy/MSNBC...The UK Celebrates Trump Trip Cancellation - And Why Trump Should Forget About An Invite To The Royal Wedding...

Humorist Martin Lewis on AM Joy/MSNBC: Britain Will Celebrate Trump Trip Cancellation - And Trump Should Forget About An Invite To The Royal Wedding...


Yesterday's cover of The New York Daily News
Last night at Trump International Hotel in Washington...

Internet wags were quick to point out that as recently as last week, a search for "Trump" and "sh*thole" only resulted in negative reviews of Trump hotels... and that "sh*thole" is actually an anagram for "his hotel"...

UPDATE: There are now reports that the Republicans at the meeting who deny Trump said "Sh*t-hole" are privately telling people he actually said, "Sh*t-HOUSE", so they think they have plausible deniability to claim he *didn't* say "Sh*t-hole"...

Apparently confirmed by a Washington Post reporter:

Also from ThisSmallPlanet.com:

Jared Kushner's Observer Takes Two Cheap Shots At Anti-Trump Rocker Roger Waters - Misses Both Times

ThisSmallPlanet.com Bonnie "Prince" Billy Interview about Susanna Wallumrød & his new album "Wolf of The Cosmos" & Charlottesville & a Divided America in the Age of Trump

ThisSmallPlanet Year In Review: "The Sun Will Rise Again Tomorrow" - Top 10 Albums - The Best Music & Politics of 2017

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Two New, Cool Jack White Songs "Connected By Love" & "Respect Commander"



JANUARY 10, 2018


U.S. Remains Vulnerable to Russian Interference without Unequivocal Presidential Leadership, Learning Lessons from European Democracies 
Top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat Makes Series of Recommendations to Counter Putin’s Asymmetric Arsenal, Bolster Defenses Ahead of Future U.S., European, Elections
WASHINGTON – A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Wednesday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Committee’s ranking member, details Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report comes one year after Senator Cardin introduced the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which served as the basis for the sanctions package signed into law last August, and makes a series of recommendations to adequately bolster U.S. and European defenses and counter the growing Kremlin threat to democratic institutions.
Putin’s Asymmetrical Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security,” finds that President Trump’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the threat posed by the Russian government has hampered efforts to mobilize our government, strengthen our institutions, and work with our European allies to counter Putin’s interference in democracies abroad.
Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president, and without a strong U.S. response, institutions and elections here and throughout Europe will remain vulnerable to the Kremlin’s aggressive and sophisticated malign influence operations.
“As the extent of Russia’s obvious meddling in the 2016 U.S. election continues to be investigated, it is imperative that the American people better understand the true scope and scale of Putin’s pattern of undermining democracy in Russia and across Europe. That is why I commissioned this report shortly after the 2016 election,” Senator Cardin said. “This threat existed long before President Trump took office, and unless he takes action now, it will continue long after his administration.  While President Trump stands practically idle, Mr. Putin continues to refine his asymmetric arsenal and look for future opportunities to disrupt governance and erode support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years. 
“President Trump must be clear-eyed about the Russian threat, take action to strengthen our government’s response and our institutions, and – as have other president’s in times of crisis – mobilize our country and work with an international coalition to counter the threat and assert our values,” Cardin continued.
Across eight chapters and several appendices, the report meticulously details the tools the Russian government has repeatedly deployed from its asymmetric arsenal, and how the Kremlin has learned and perfected its techniques attacking democracy both internally and abroad. Such tools – drawn largely from a Soviet-era playbook, but updated with new technologies – include military incursions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, and the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime and corruption.
Putin first developed his techniques at home, against his own people. In Russia, he repressed independent civil society, journalists, and the political opposition, while manipulating cultural and religious institutions, the media, and fueling a corrupt kleptocracy to bolster his regime and increase his net worth. Putin’s increasing aggression abroad is directly related to his need to maintain power at home. As he looks to maintain power in Russia, he is likely to step up his attacks on democracies around the world.
Some European countries have shored up their democracies with a strategic, whole-of-government approach: publicly warning Moscow of consequences if it meddles; mobilizing various sectors of society to neutralize and push back against Kremlin disinformation; and confronting Russian efforts to use corruption as a tool of influence. It is time for the United States to take similar actions.
The report includes more than 30 recommendations for the U.S. and its allies.  Key recommendations include:
  • First, Mr. Trump must demonstrate presidential leadership by declaring it is U.S. policy to deter all forms of Russian hybrid threats and begin to mobilize our government in defense. He should establish a high-level inter-agency fusion cell, modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), to coordinate all elements of U.S. policy and programming in response to the Kremlin’s malign influence operations.
  • Second, the U.S. government should provide assistance, in concert with allies in Europe, to build democratic institutions within those European and Eurasian states most vulnerable to Russian government interference. As part of this effort, the President should convene an annual global summit on hybrid threats, modeled on the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL or the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) summits. To reinforce these efforts, members in the U.S. Congress have a clear responsibility to show U.S. leadership on values by making democracy and human rights a central part of their agendas. They should conduct committee hearings and use other platforms and opportunities to publicly advance these issues. 
  • Third, the United States and our allies should expose and freeze Kremlin-linked dirty money.  The U.S. Treasury Department should make public any intelligence related to Mr. Putin’s personal corruption and wealth stored abroad, and take steps with our European allies to cut off Mr. Putin and his inner circle from the international financial system.
  • Fourth, the U.S. government should designate countries that employ malign influence operations to assault democracies as State Hybrid Threat Actors and subject them to a preemptive, escalatory sanctions regime that would be applied whenever the state uses asymmetric weapons like cyberattacks to interfere with a democratic election or disrupt a country’s critical infrastructure. The U.S. government should also produce yearly public reports that detail the Russian government’s malign influence operations in the U.S. and around the world.
  • Fifth, the U.S. government and NATO should lead a coalition of countries committed to mutual defense against cyberattacks, to include the establishment of rapid reaction teams to defend allies under attack. The U.S. government should also call a special meeting of the NATO heads of state to review the extent of Russian government-sponsored cyberattacks among member states and develop formal guidelines on how the Alliance will consider such attacks in the context of NATO’s Article 5 collective defense provision.
  • Finally, U.S. and European governments should mandate that social media companies make public the sources of funding for political advertisements, along the same lines as TV channels and print media. Social media companies should conduct comprehensive audits on how their platforms may have been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence elections occurring over the past several years, and should establish civil society advisory councils to provide input and warnings about emerging disinformation trends and government suppression. In addition, they should work with philanthropies, governments, and civil society to promote media literacy and reduce the presence of disinformation on their platforms.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Roger Waters Defends Lorde Over Israel Cultural Boycott Controversy

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thousands Call On Twitter To Ban Trump For Threats Of Violence (Nuclear War)

Thousands of Twitter users reported @realDonaldTrump for violations of Twitter's Terms of Service which prohibits threats of violence. Trump used Twitter to threaten the use of a nuclear device against North Korea, an action which could result in the deaths of millions.

UPDATE January 5, 2018: Twitter responds:

World Leaders on Twitter
By Twitter Inc.
Friday, 5 January 2018 

There’s been a lot of discussion about political figures and world leaders on Twitter, and we want to share our stance.
Twitter is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation. Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society.
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.
We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly. No one person's account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind.
We are working to make Twitter the best place to see and freely discuss everything that matters. We believe that’s the best way to help our society make progress.