Vision Festival XIII panel discussion with yours truly

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Like comics? Enjoy cutting-edge music? Interested in what’s going on with New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina? Then come to:

NEW ORLEANS: Culture, Crisis, and Community — a panel discussion
How can music help heal New Orleans? What role should the arts play in rebuilding communities? Why does this city’s storied culture find itself embattled? Why are so many residents still displaced or homeless?

Moderator: Larry Blumenfeld, journalist
Panelists: Kalamu ya Salaam, poet/activist; Kent Jordan, musician/educator; Josh Neufeld [aka

], cartoonist/Red Cross volunteer; Emmanuel Pratt, urban planning researcher/digital media artist; others

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008, 5pm (until about 6:30)

Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street
New York NY 10002

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Presented by the 13th annual VISION FESTIVAL as a prelude to Wednesday night’s Lifetime Achievement Celebration of Edward “Kidd” Jordan
www.visionfestival.org

Just Like a Phoebe

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Phoebe(To the tune of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman”)

It’s all very plain
Today as we stroll down the lane
Ev’rybody knows
That baby’s got new clothes
And lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have perched on her curls.

Ah, you eat tofu with both hands, yes, you do
You yawn like your grandpa, yes, you do
Then you smile just like Ellen Barkin
But you cry just like a little girl.

NOLA, Hoops, and All That Jazz

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The National Basketball Association has hit New Orleans this weekend for the annual All Star Game, which tips off tonight at 8 p.m. Television coverage of the event has been… interesting… as it simultaneously celebrates the glitz of the French Quarter and bemoans the sad state of the rest of the city. Shots of commentators and tourists thronging Bourbon Street alternate with NBA stars lending helping hands to redevelopment projects in neighborhood schools and community centers. And of course there’s been a big effort to incorporate as much local musical flavor into the weekend spectacle as possible, with (among others) Marc Broussard and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performing during the slam dunk competition, and Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis scheduled to play for the main event this evening.

Larry Blumenfeld, a pickup basketball playing buddy of mine and an accomplished music writer, has a piece in today’s New Orleans Times Picayune about the connections between jazz and hoops. Larry is currently a Katrina Media Fellow with the Open Society Institute, and has been documenting cultural recovery in New Orleans for The Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, and Salon.com. And he has a blog at www.artsjournal.com/listengood. Check it out while you enjoy the game and all that good music.

[cross-posted to A.D. website]

Christian Rock illo process

Illustration

I just did a new illustration (for the San Antonio Current) and thought it would be fun to show the process. The illo was for a story about how dull the “Christian Contemporary Music” scene is. The art director had a concept in mind when he called, so this was one of those gigs deadredfred first told me about, where your job as an illustrator is basically to “do something nice that can hang over the couch.” But that’s cool; I didn’t have the energy for a great new concept.

Anyway, the a.d’s idea was to show Jesus in a band T-shirt, rocking out to music in a crowd of polite, conservatively dressed Christian concert-goers. The a.d. had worked with me before, so he didn’t need to see sketches or even pencils; he said I could go straight to final.

Even so, for my own piece of mind, I worked up a tiny thumbnail, just to get the basic layout for the dimensions of the piece:

Patriot Acts with The Civilians

Illustration

The Civilians have put me to work again, doing an illustration for a fund-raiser they’ve got coming up in May. The benefit is in the form of a concert, with various progressive-minded celebrities singing patriotic songs, so my mission was to come up with an image which conveyed music & patriotism — with an undercurrent of subversiveness/irony.

With the aid of Artistic Director Steve Cossen, I did the illustration shown here, inspired by the famous image of Marlene Dietrich from Blue Angel. As Steve remarked, there’s something wonderful about this prototypical American icon being a fusing of French statuary and German pose!

Here’s info about the benefit concert, which will be held Monday May 8th, 7:30 pm, at The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 60 Washington Square South:

Patriot Acts: an American Vaudeville
Patriot Acts is a celebration of inspiring music about our country, featuring classic and contemporary songs that champion democratic ideals. Organized as a benefit for The Civilians theater company and co-sponsored by The Nation magazine and the Skirball Center for the Arts, Patriot Acts brings together a diverse array of musicians to give expression to a rich tradition that is rooted in fairness, equality, freedom, justice — a tradition that values dissent and puts forth a vision for citizenship counter to prevalent ideas of militarized nationalism. Through an evening of vibrant performances, Patriot Acts reclaims the progressive context of many of the leading icons of our patriotic culture, a context of which many Americans may be otherwise unaware.

The words to “America the Beautiful” for example, were written by feminist and social activist Katharine Lee Bates; the poem was originally included in a collection protesting US imperialism in the Philippines. Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” inspired as response to “God Bless America,” sings about America’s beauty but also poses a challenge in the last and often omitted verse:

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the relief office I saw my people.
As they stood hungry I stood there wondering
If this land was made for you and me.

From these classics, Patriot Acts traces a musical landscape from songs like “The House I Live In,” a 1945 hit for Frank Sinatra, to contemporary songs by politically engaged artists. The concert also features songs from The Civilians recent show (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch and others. Patriot Acts is inspired by the article “Patriotism’s Secret History,” by Peter Dreier and Dick Flacks that appeared in The Nation magazine.

Beastles: Let It Beast

Illustration

The Beastles: Let It BeastBoston DJ and mashup-artiste Bob Cronin (a.k.a. “djBC”) has compiled his second CD of Beatles/Beastie Boys tunes, appropriately titled Let It Beast. (His first album, The Beastles, was written up in Rolling Stone, The Weekly Dig, The Metro Times and other places.) Anyway, I did the art for the cover. It’s sort of a “Brady Bunch”/Let It Be homage. Being a huge Beatles fan, I was thrilled to be commissioned to draw the Fab Four. Still, I never claimed to be much at likenesses, so don’t judge the results too harshly.

Check out the album here. I think you’ll agree that the songs are simultaneously keen and dope, groovy and slammin’. And then there’s the added edge of it all being slightly illegal and underground. Yeah!