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August 31, 2008

On the Road Again

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 4:54 am

Yesterday I semi-evacuated to Pontchatoula, getting 45 minutes out of town and to a slightly more removed vantage point. With the slight shift in track to the east of Vermilion Bay, I don’t have much confidence that this cottage in the woods is much safer than home. Looks like we’re hitting the road.   

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August 29, 2008

Putting the “vice” in Vice-President, and Katrina

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 11:34 am

Oliver Wang at Poplicks.com posted a picture and analysis of John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin.

And his photo of New Orleans on the anniversary of Katrina reminds that this is as good a time as any to link to poet Bill Lavender’s photos of New Orleans during Katrina’s flooding.

 

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Need to Feel a Little Righteous Indignation?

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 10:31 am

Read “Not Ready for Gustav,” an editorial in today’s New York Times:

Three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, residents there are nervously watching the progress of Tropical Storm-threatening-to-be-Hurricane Gustav. No less nerve-wracking is the knowledge that federal emergency planners have failed to come up with a new strategy for providing housing to disaster victims.

In July — a full year after Congress’s mandated deadline — the Federal Emergency Management Agency produced a skimpy draft proposal. Most of its required topic specialties — including how to house the poor and the disabled, how to house victims close to their jobs and how to manage large camps for evacuees — were left blank. Instead, the proposal called for handing those plans off to a task force of experts. And, oh yes, that task force has yet to be formed.

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More Katrina at the DNC

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 7:50 am

Last night, it was nice to hear Katrina mentioned twice in Barack Obama’s speech. Still not enough in my books, but it’s something. A friend who saw my fretting of the general lack of Katrina at the DNC also sent me a link to this YouTube footage of singer Margie Perez, who spoke on Katrina’s aftermath at the convention Monday.  

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August 28, 2008

A Reason to Wish the Storm Away

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 11:59 am

Like we actually need any, one of my favorite bands from this year’s SXSW – Dark Meat – will play the Saturn Bar Halloween night. Dark Meat is a 16-piece psychedelic collective from Athens, Georgia with one foot in Stoogesville, one in free jazz and one in the Rolling Stones. Here’s a feature I wrote on them for the L.A. Weekly.

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To Be Fair …

Filed under: Pop Life — Alex Rawls @ 7:47 am

Since I’ve been ripping on the Democratic National Convention for its use of muzak pop-funk – Really? Are we really the party of banal music? Seriously? – it’s only fair to notice that Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” is more rousing as a theme song for Obama than it was as a 9/11 response.

While most of the news from the convention has centered around Hillary Clinton’s delegates, the news from our perspective has been the near-complete absence of Katrina from the convention. Bill Clinton worked in a line on Katrina and cronyism last night, but that was it unless you also saw Mary Landrieu’s five minutes on Tuesday afternoon as part of a “Women of the Senate” package. Again, really? Is Katrina of interest as a national social justice issue, or is it only of interest as a stick to beat the Bush Administration? And when it’s no longer needed, it’s discarded by Democrats as easily as it is by Republicans?

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August 27, 2008

More Musicians, More Muzak

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 1:16 pm

Yesterday, the members of Papa Grows Funk – minus john Gros – flew back from Denver after playing a convention afterparty. Also, Irma Thomas played an Etown-sponsored show with David Crosby, Ani DiFranco, James Taylor and Graham Nash. She was joined by Henry Butler for “River is Waiting” from her new CD, Simply Grand.

It’s a shame the convention itself doesn’t share the party and event organizers’ affection for real music. Thankfully, Alejandro Escovedo made it in, but as I write and wait for the return of DNC coverage online, I get the faceless, faux version of “Get Ready” and “Dancing in the Streets.” While the Democrats are going for a new kind of politics, how about they also go for a new kind of respect for music?

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August 26, 2008

More Music in Denver

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 1:50 pm

I’ve written a little about music in Denver in the last few days, but I haven’t written about music at the convention, which so far seems to be at best a source of humor. To some extent, it should. The embarrassing, extra-lite “Still the One” played after Ted Kennedy’s speech recalled the Ray Conniff Singers in its facelessness. Tonight at 6:45 Central, Alejandro Escovedo will kick off the evening session with “People (We’re Only Going to Live So Long)”. I’m sure we won’t see it on CNN or the main cable news channels, but since I saw a musical performance this afternoon on C-Span, I figure we’ll be able to see Escovedo there.


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Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 4:57 am

If there was a lot of money in the room in the Fillmore Sunday night, an engineering and construction firm that has the London Olympics as part of its client base could drop a buck or two as well. CH2M HILL hosted a day titled “Sustainability in the Rockies” in the parking lot of Denver’s Invesco Field, with a sustainability fair in the day time and a party with Willie Nelson as the featured performer. Not surprisingly, companies that can get Willie to the stage didn’t cut corners anywhere, with lamb lollipops, sea bass and roast beef at six serving stations and two dessert stations.

Nelson’s show was Nelson’s show. He rolled from song to song with only brief pauses for applause, and despite his introduction as someone who has a history of environmental stewardship, he didn’t say anything about the environment. The only time he spoke was to introduce “a protest song,” “Peaceful Solution.” In his populism, though, Nelson was political. His standard set is encompassing, a tribute to the broader American songbook – not just one that includes his songs, but one that treats “All of Me,” spirituals and Kris Kristofferson as equal. 

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August 25, 2008

More on Music at the Convention

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 9:13 am

Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney blogs for NPR, and though the dynamics of the blog can get on my nerves, I’m still usually interested. Today she talks about Wayne Kramer of the MC5 joining Rage Against the Machine here in Denver later this week. 

It might have something to do with Barack Obama. It’s no secret that Obama has great taste in music, liking everyone from Kanye West to Wilco, and artists have made playing his rallies and benefits comparable in importance to, say, performing on Letterman — or, in this day and age, getting a lot of hits on YouTube. So it’s no surprise that the Democratic National Convention is chock full of eager and earnest acts, each there to lend support not just musically, but also politically, because they actually believe in the candidate.

So, you’re probably wondering, who’s playing the Republican National Convention? Well, brace yourself: It’s The Beach Boys and The Charlie Daniels Band. Okay, there are some younger acts, too: Leann Rimes and Smash Mouth. Remember their song “All Star”? And, if you’re lucky, you might catch Mike Huckabee’s band, Capitol Offense, also playing that week.

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