Salad Days – an inspiring documentary about Punk Rock, Hardcore, Social Activism, and the scene in Washington during the 80s and early 90s.

usa_district_of_columbia_117928To say this documentary is well done is an understatement. It exudes the integrity and quality of the very scene it documents and captures the exuberance, growth, and growing pains of a unique place in time and important part of our musical and political history. Scott Crawford and Jim Saah have created a grounded portrait of the scene in their documentary.

Watch this trailer now:

Notice there is a download link under the trailer; this documentary is worth every penny and then some!!

The title of the film is a reference to the song Salad Days by Minor Threat. In the song, singer Ian Mackaye rails against stagnation and complacency decrying that “salad days are a lie”.   The expression salad days being a term to denote a better time, a heyday, or a youthful peak.

Song:

For me, one of the most inspiring moments in the documentary is when Positive Force Co-founder Mark Andersen says “Salad Days … that’s not then; it’s now! It is always now! So go! Make it real now!!”

Positive Force is a group for positive social change in DC and beyond and you can find out more about them here: Positive Force

The music of DC and the benefits for Positive Force were such a formative influence in my life and many of my friends. We were there, at the shows, bringing our bands up from Richmond or the Beach, playing in Dupont Circle, the 930 Club, the Black Cat, house shows, and loving every minute! I made many great friends that I am proud to still be in touch with and inspired by their continued efforts to make the world a better place.

While I was only 12 during the revolution summer, that ethos lingered in DC and Virginia and inspired so many of the bands I love and political action that sparked a lifelong passion for social justice. I can truly say that the seeds for eventually becoming a teacher were planted back then.

I was also pleased that the film honored the connection that DC Punk Rock has to reggae music and Go-Go music. Learning about these wonderful sounds captivated my soul at any early age and informs and comforts me to this day!

Additionally, I am glad the documentary gave voice the expression of women, as the eventual Riot Grrrl movement made a significant impact on me and my peers. I remember many a fanzine made by a friend!!

As, I am more grounded in Fugazi, Hoover, Shudder to Think and all the bands of the 90s, it was awesome to see some of the earlier footage of the DC scene. Those shows were the stuff of legend and sometimes I was lucky enough in the late 80s to go “skating” in DC and catch a show or two but by the 90s I was definitely getting up to DC to see shows as much as I could and was always honored to play shows with Dischord bands there and in Richmond!

This is a great documentary!!

You need to watch it!

You need to support the artists and purchase it!

To find out more check out:

http://saladdaysdc.com/

Like them on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/saladdaysdoc

and go start your own band, or school, or social movement now!!

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Our Orchestra, Our Community!

A Deafening Silence

A Deafening Silence – our musicians standing silently as they are applauded and encouraged.

Like many of you, I am closely following the lockout of our Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Musicians. It is a debacle, it is disturbing, and it should bother you!

Our orchestra isn’t just music, instruments, repertoire, boards, budgets, and fundraising; it is hope and inspiration, it is passion and craft, it is the example of what is possible for our students and the livelihood that supports the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, lovers, and patrons of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

As you read, a young family expecting a child may have to relocate to provide for their family’s well being because their job with the orchestra is in jeopardy.

As you contemplate, an artist’s health is being compromised and their ability to afford healthcare and pay their bills is at risk.

You cannot balance the operating costs of an organization without balancing the purpose and meaning of the organization itself.

Our musicians lift us up through their talent and devotion to glorious music. We need a governing body that will lift these beautiful musicians up and sustain their commitment to nurturing our community through performance and outreach.

We who teach rely on the example and effort of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  We bring our students to performances, we recommend our students to Talent Development and the Youth Symphony, we support our peers as they perform, and we attend concerts to inspire and sustain us throughout the school year.

This conversation about profit and loss, of boards and budgets, of meeting targets and hardening resolves is offensive to our spirits.

We are actually experiencing a crisis in leadership and vision. With all due respect to the governing board of the ASO; what vision do you have for our symphony? What incentives and encouragement are you offering for the talent that your leadership should support.  Are you doing enough to market, promote, and showcase the orchestra?

The accomplishments and capability of our orchestra is well documented and celebrated all over the world. If the leadership of the ASO cannot celebrate with us, as members of our community, if they cannot make their own sacrifices, honor their commitments, and create lasting support for our symphony they should step aside and make way for leaders whose vision would return our attention to the dedication of the musicians and the music they share.

We are a prosperous city and a generous people; we have the resources to sustain a world class symphony.  It is time for the board to remember how capable they are of creating and sustaining a better environment for all to prosper.

How You Can Help!

Save Our Symphony Atlanta

ATL Symphony Musicians

Review of the Clibber Jones Ensemble “3+3 EP”

coverFrom the explosive opening percussion of the first song KCB to the transcendent melodies of Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace, the Clibber Jones Ensemble come out swinging on the “3+3 EP” with thoughtful music that is exciting to listen to.

On the first track, KCB, the band is fueled with a passion reminiscent of the aftermath of Carnival in Rio or a night in New Orleans. The repetitive rhythmic lines are minimal at times but harkens to the traditions of composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Terry Riley, but with a punk rock edge. The bass playing reminds me of David Sims from the Jesus Lizard and it is so refreshing to hear vibraphone and flute laying down melodies.

The heavy opening of the next song, 1997, reminds me of DC hardcore; very driving, very rhythmic; hypnotic in the best sense. The guitar playing adds a nice sonic wash that would make Greg Ginn proud. The expressive entrance of the saxophone hits me in the stomach every time and with the support of the keyboards is very moving. In addition, the sax spirals out to a playful melody mindful of Charlie Parker; Salt Peanuts!

The interlude in the middle of 1997 sounds likes the Clibber Jones Ensemble is searching for something, creating a musical tower of Babel that is cerebral but entertaining. It is always a pleasure to hear music that’s written in time signatures other than 4/4; 1997 being predominantly in 6/8.

Tim Clibber JonesThe third track, Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace, has a lighter feel with an almost 80’s introduction courtesy of some crafty guitar playing. The saxophone starts out a little lighthearted playing with the rhythm once again, but soon blossoms into a beautiful solo that is played on soprano saxophone and very reminiscent of late John Coltrane. Two thirds into the track the song becomes very uplifting and melodic; just transcendent followed by a minimalistic breakdown that sets up a screaming end once again recalling Coltrane from the One Up One Down era.

For the final three tracks, the Clibber Jones Ensemble has friends remix their songs to great effect. The KCB remix is lovely and clear, looping the soprano sax and yielding a drum and bass trip-hop feel. The track sounds like there’s a record spinning in the background as if there is a DJ remixing the song on the fly.

The next song is a remix of the driving 1997. The remix starts off really percussive and upbeat, almost like something Outkast might do. I like that it starts with the saxophone first melodically then the guitar saving the bass to slam into the song while still maintaining the hard driving integrity of the line. This is arrangement would sound good performed by the ensemble proper. This remix almost has a kind of twisted eastern European puppet show on the square in the wrong part of town at the wrong hour of night feel.

The final track is the remix for Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace. I love the straight forward driving beats with the descending melodic lines; this is a really great remix and I would love hear Clibber pull it off. The middle section almost reminds me a little of the band MGMT with the octaves in the keyboard and using that wonderful sax solo is a nice touch. This morning when we were eating breakfast and listening to the “3+3 EP”, my children had to get up and dance to this remix. I can really see the Clibbers in their green kicks, some funky shirts, and cool hats dancing to this one. I want to see the ensemble perform an interpretive dance for this remix at one of the shows.

Clibber Jones

All in all, the Clibber Jones Ensemble “3+3 EP” is a great release!

Support local music!

You can check out the  “3+3 EP” on iTunes