Rock ‘n roll pioneer Chuck Berry, RIP


This 2010 live music video is called Tina Turner & Chuck Berry – Rock ‘n roll music.

By Sara Boboltz in the USA today:

Rock ‘N’ Roll Legend Chuck Berry Dead At 90

The guitarist was known for a string of 1950s and ’60s hits.

Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry has died, police said Saturday. He was 90.

“The St. Charles County Police Department sadly confirms the death of Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry,” police said in a statement posted to Facebook.

First responders were called out to a home on Buckner Road around 12:40 p.m. and found a man later identified as Berry unresponsive “and immediately administered lifesaving techniques,” the statement reads. They were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m.

Berry penned a great number of hits in the 1950s and ’60s like “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Rock and Roll Music” that influenced generations of rock groups, including The Beatles. Merging a captivating stage presence with his own blend of blues, country and jazz, Berry helped define the fledgling rock’n’ roll genre, later becoming one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Born into a middle-class family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry picked up the basics of guitar from a neighbor and started performing music as a teenager. In 1952, he formed a trio with Johnnie Johnson on piano and Ebby Harding on drums that rose to fame in the local nightclub scene. To pay the bills, Berry worked as a hairdresser. But soon enough he wouldn’t have time for that ― a trip to Chicago netted a recording session with Chess Records, during which Berry performed an old hillbilly tune called “Ida Red.” Changing the name to “Maybellene,” Chess sent the track to an influential New York DJ, and it became a hit among the teenage set.

According to an oft-cited line by John Lennon, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” Berry’s music became so well-known, he toured the country with only a guitar, trusting he’d be able to find musicians in each city he played who could serve as his back-up. Many of his lyrics focused on teen culture, although he was significantly past that age by the time he started traveling around singing about cars and dates.

But in the nascent era of the Civil Rights Movement, Berry’s status as a black man with a following of young white people ― a lot of them girls ― caused certain conflict. He’d been known to take refuge in police stations to dodge protesters after his shows, which sometimes featured police presence themselves, according to an Esquire profile. After a teenage coat-check girl who worked briefly at a club he owned alleged Berry had an affair with her, the guitarist served two years in prison. A tax evasion charge sent him to prison again, briefly, in 1979. …

Notoriously interview-shy, Berry had been living out his later years in Ladue, Missouri ― near his hometown. He never stopped writing music, and performed regular gigs at a local restaurant and club called Blueberry Hill.

Musician Django Reinhardt, new film


This 12 January 2017 video is called Berlin: Etienne Comar ‘Django’ at the 2017 Festival.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

9 February 2017

The Berlin International Film Festival opens on Feb. 9th with the premier of Etienne Comar’s “Django.” The biopic is set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943 and tells the story of Sinti jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

A film about the legendary guitarist: Django

4 March 2017

Finally, a feature film about the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt!

The timelessness of his music makes one too easily forget that it emerged in a very real and troubled world—characterised by an enthusiasm for everything American in the 1920s and 1930s, by socialist aspirations, by the threats of French fascists, by mass strikes—a time when Paris was regarded as a Mecca for American jazz musicians, the period of the German occupation of France, the Resistance and the flood of refugees from the war across Europe.

Django, the debut film of Étienne Comar—who deals relatively loosely with Reinhardt’s biography—focuses on the year 1943, when the Nazis tried unsuccessfully to convince Django to undertake a tour of fascist Germany.

Reinhardt (Reda Kateb, whose father was an Algerian actor) is initially uncertain. He is drawn to the prospect of sold-out concert halls. He is also of the opinion that the war between rival groups of “Gadjos” (non-Gypsies) is none of his business. In the end, artistic considerations lie behind his rejection of the offer. The Nazis, who could not entirely block the spread of jazz in Germany, demand a “clean” jazz from Django, preferably without syncopation, without blues, played only in optimistic major tones and with very brief improvisations; in short, a completely neutered music. This is unacceptable to the artist.

A blonde admirer, Louise de Klerk (Cécile de France), advises him to flee, but the vain musician enjoys his reputation in Paris as the “King of Swing” (following the departure of a number of outstanding American musicians) and continues to rely on the protection of a jazz-loving Nazi officer. Only when the pressure increases and Manouche [Romani people in France] are sent to “work deployments” in Germany—as the deportations are officially called—does Django flee with his family to the French-Swiss border.

For the many Manouche and Sinti [Romani people of Central Europe] in Django, who speak exclusively in their language, Romanes, the film must have been an affair of the heart. Comar (who also co-wrote the screenplay, based on a 2013 novel by Alexis Salatko) dispenses with such banalities as presenting Roma as spontaneous anarchists who instinctively reject bourgeois society, or as representatives of a nature-based, alternative way of life. Roma families playing idyllically in a forest are suddenly confronted with Nazi machine guns. In the next scene we see Django Reinhardt, the acclaimed guitarist, in a magnificent concert hall. This is the tightrope that someone in his position walks.

The illiterate Django laps up the glamorous world of the rich and famous, and imitates Hollywood film star Clark Gable. On the Swiss border, however, the King of Swing becomes a defenseless refugee whose mother (Bimbam Merstein) fights for her son to play for a few francs in a pub in order to feed the family. When Django plays the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” the bar-keeper’s face lights up.

Occasionally Django is contemptuous of Gadjos, but the film refrains from condemning his audiences and refrains from clichés about “other” forms of culture. Rather it reveals the lack of perspective of an oppressed minority, which has internalized its suffering as fugitives and outsiders over many generations. On several occasions Django makes clear that the French police and military hounded Roma with the same ruthlessness as the Nazis. But we also witness Roma joining the Resistance.

Django lives in the middle of Paris. He is not indifferent to the opinion of Gadjos who also play in his band. What Django shared with “non-gypsies” of his generation was, above all, an enthusiasm for America and its music. The arrival of jazz in Europe was a major cultural event and something of a symbol of freedom. Already as a 13-year-old banjo player, Reinhardt listened enthusiastically to bands from the US. Unfortunately, the film makes barely any reference to this formative period that contributed to Reinhardt’s original musical path.

The film’s Django exudes a strong attachment to traditional gypsy music (the film features prominently at the start his well-known “gypsy” song “Black Eyes”—albeit in swing style). In fact, the real Django Reinhardt drew inspiration from many sources. He was interested in the music of Bartok and Debussy (the latter inspired many Hollywood composers), he went to the ballet and began to paint. Unlike many European contemporaries, he was able to swing as well as the best American jazz players and (according to legend) could personally replace a whole rhythm section. This is why so many of the US greats lined up to jam with him.

Reinhardt’s music is finely played in the film by the outstanding Stochelo Rosenberg Trio. Kateb plays the guitarist with the “poker face,” who, with bells attached to his ankles, could entice an entire concert hall of the “master race” into dancing to his tune. Even the hardline Nazis, who raise their glasses and quote the German poet Friedrich Rückert for a “free, a German Europe”, succumb to the power of his music and lose control for a short time.

Reinhardt undoubtedly undergoes a development in the film. At the outset he is very naive. On seeing Hitler in 1943 for the first time in a cinema, Django chortles at the “clown” on the screen. At the end of the film, however, Reinhardt’s “Requiem” is performed; a piece he composed for and devoted to all the Roma victims of the Second World War. His tonal language has changed and become more universal.

The score of the “Requiem” has been lost and only fragments remain. Nevertheless, the score based on the fragments composed by the Australian musician and composer Warren Ellis is deeply touching, in particular during the choral section (sung in Romanes). The notion that Django Reinhardt might have opened up different musical paths is fascinating and, one hopes, may encourage young Manouche and Sinti musicians to go further than the limits imposed by playing exclusively gypsy swing.

Django is to be welcomed for dealing with a neglected chapter of history—the persecution of Roma under the Nazis. At the same time, Comar shows the contradictory nature of his main character who pragmatically tries to survive “between the fronts.” His ignorance of social and political developments and not least his egoism render Reinhardt blind to the impending catastrophe. He is free only in music. In the film, he is able to make it to Switzerland with his family. In reality, Reinhardt’s situation was more desperate. Swiss officials refused him entry due to his status as a “gypsy.”

Dutch opera director not to USA because of Trump


This video says about itself:

21 August 2015

Take a behind the scenes look at the Nederlandse Reisopera (Dutch Touring Opera) production of Orphée et Eurydice.

In just one day, the Source Four® LED Series 2 Lustr® luminaries with asymmetric Source Four LED CYC adapters were rigged and focused, lit the show, and were derigged.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Director Nicolas Mansfield of the Dutch Touring Opera company from Enschede will not travel to the United States for now. He disagrees with the Trump policies and therefore will stay as a matter of principle out of the country.

“As long as Muslims are not welcome there, I do not feel welcome,” Mansfield told RTV Oost broadcasting organisation. The artistic director had plans to visit an operatic convention in Dallas in May, but has canceled the trip. …

“I will not bring one euro of Dutch tax money to the US as long as that man will be in power,” Mansfield says.

Asteroid named after Dutch little boy with cancer


This 22 December 2016 music video is by Dutch singer Miss Montreal (pseudonym of Roos-Anne Hans).

She wrote this song ‘Tijn, deze is voor jou’ for and about a six-year-old boy called Tijn.

Tijn has terminal cancer and will probably die soon.

His last wish is to raise money for the Red Cross to help children suffering from pneumonia.

Doctors can’t cure Tijn’s cancer, but they can save pneumonia children’s lives for only four euros a child.

Tijn with red fingernails, ANP photo

This photo shows Tijn with red fingernails. He asked participants in the fundraising to also apply nail varnish to their fingers as a symbol.

Tijn expected to raise maybe 100 euros, saving 25 children.

However, today the amount has surpassed a million euros.

So, Tijn by now has saved 250,000 children’s lives.

Tijn’s parents are grateful to Miss Montreal for the song, which will remind them of their son after he will die.

From an astronomical newsletter, abound a recently named asteroid:

(6327) Tijn = 1991 GP1 Discovered 1991 Apr. 9 by E. F. Helin at Palomar. Named for Tijn Kolsteren from the Netherlands, who, at age 6 and diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, raised over 2 million euros for the International Red Cross, as part of the Dutch charity radio program Serious Request 2016.

In recent years, rates of colorectal cancer cases and deaths in the United States rose among young and middle-aged adults, an American Cancer Society study of colorectal cancer trends between 2000 and 2014 finds: here.

Greek punk bands raise money for refugee squats


The Free

exaarchia

Around a dozen squats provide housing for refugees and migrants in the Exarchia neighbourhood of Athens.

by   Patrick Strickland via Al Jazeera

@P_Strickland_

Athens, Greece – On a cold night in late December at a smoky venue in the Greek capital, Anfo takes to the stage and immediately launches into a song.

A tall, thin man in a Soviet beret, guitarist Nikos stands on the edge of the stage. The vocalist, Sotiris, lowers his head and looks downward between guttural screams.

Behind them, Giorgos Chloros pounds away at the drums. Anfo, a leftist punk band, is joined by a handful of other punk outfits.

“Everybody [in Anfo] is involved in the anti-capitalist struggle in some form,” Chloros, a 45-year-old socialist, told Al Jazeera, explaining that they perform at anti-racism festivals and other pro-refugee events. 

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