US musician Leon Russell, RIP

This music video from the USA is called Ballad For A Soldier. That Leon Russell song is about the Vietnam war, especially the massacre in My Lai village by United States Lieutenant William Calley.

The lyrics are:

When I was just a young boy, I played with swords and guns, and I dreamed of the day I’d become a soldier.
And kill all of the enemy, my country ’tis of thee.
I sing this anthem sadly, won’t you hear me.
I watched the cannons blazing, on the giant silver screen.
The swastikas were burning and the hero was me.
The general gave the order, gladly I obeyed.
But the movie faded quickly all at once today.
And now I stand alone with the charges made, nowhere to run, not a place to hide.
We’re sad little children playing grown-up games.
Guess the time has come, the damage has been done.
Stray dogs that live on the highway, walk on three legs.
Cause they learn too slow to get the message.
Just like the Indians in the early days.
Battles lost and won, yet it still goes on.
It’s just another ballad for a soldier.

I had no understanding ’till I saw my mother cry, when they told how many babies I had killed that night.
A dozen color photographs inside of a magazine, told the morbid story like a movie screen.
But I was not the hero I thought myself to be, movies are much different from reality.
The general was convicted to get off of the hook, but the President might free me for the chance I took.
And we all stand alone when the charge is made, sad way to live, what a way to die.
We’re all little children playing grown-up games, can we burn the gun before the next time comes.
Stray dogs that live on the highway walk on three legs, they move too slow to get the message.
Give up and win, that’s all I have to say, we haven’t really won till all the fightin’ done, and there are no more ballads for the soldiers.

From Leon Russell’s site:

Nov. 13, 2016

Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep
The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.

Leon was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Leon led the famous Joe Cocker’s ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ tour and performed with George Harrison and Friends at the Concert For Bangladesh. Leon has also toured with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Edgar Winter, The New Grass Revival, Willie Nelson, and Sir Elton John.

Leon’s songwriting credits include ‘A Song For You’, ‘Delta Lady’, ‘Hummingbird’, ‘Lady Blue’, ‘Back To The Island’, ‘Tight Rope’, and ‘This Masquerade’.

Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, RIP

This music video says about itself:


29 August 2015

Leonard Cohen sings Pete Seeger’s hymn, actually for victims of the Vietnam war but I think it fits for the refugee drama of our days as well! AGAINST INTOLERANCE, STUPIDITY and HATRED against refugees from all parts of the world!

By Chris D’Angelo of the Huffington Post in the USA:

Legendary Musician Leonard Cohen Dead At 82

The Canadian singer-songwriter’s death comes just weeks after the release of his new album, “You Want It Darker.”

11/10/2016 08:56 pm ET

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, whose voice was as golden as his lyrics were moving, has died, Sony Music confirmed on his Facebook page Thursday. He was 82.

See also here.

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in Los Angeles November 7 at the age of 82. His manager Robert Kory subsequently revealed that Cohen, who had cancer, died in his sleep after falling during the night: here.

Mozart in London theatre, historically correct?

This video says about itself:

Long-Lost Mozart Score Performed For First Time By Czech Musician

16 February 2016

After a musicologist discovered the piece in the reserve collection of the Czech national music museum, a long-lost composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri was performed for the first time on Tuesday.

The piece also appears to show the rivalry between the two was not especially fierce. It provides more evidence that Salieri played no role in Mozart’s death in 1791 at the age of 35. The play and Oscar-winning film “Amadeus” detailed such a murderous rivalry.

The collaborative score was written in 1785. That was during one of the most fruitful periods of Mozart’s career. He composed some of his best-known pieces then, including the operas “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute.”

Ulrich Leisinger, director of research at the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg, said, “Salieri did not poison Mozart, but they both worked in Vienna and were competitors.”

Museum officials said, the piece, titled “Per la Ricuperata Salute di Ofelia” (“For the recovered health of Ophelia”), was written to celebrate the recovery of an English singer who had performed pieces by Mozart and Salieri. They said it is unclear whether it was ever performed in public before today.

See also here.

By Yvonne Lysandrou in Britain:

Discordant notes in Mozart portrait

Tuesday 8th November 2016

National Theatre

IT SEEMS as if the popularity of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, which returns to the National Theatre after its triumphant premiere in 1979, has not waned. It’s already sold out until next year, although there will be live cinema screenings in February.

Over the decades, audiences have been drawn to Shaffer’s reimagining of the fractious relationship between Antonio Salieri, successful Italian composer of the Austrian court, and the wunderkind Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

His recent arrival in Vienna invokes Salieri’s tortured awareness of his own mediocrity and, apart from falterings in the play’s long opening, the verbal dexterity of Lucian Msamati as the Italian composer is impressive throughout, providing a balanced and often poignant interpretation of the conflicted musician.

The most striking feature of the production is the presence onstage of the 20-piece Southbank Sinfonia and they deliver an evocative and heightened theatrical moment, playing the various pages of Mozart’s music as they fall from the hands of the astonished and anguished Salieri.

Yet Shaffer’s portrait of Mozart (Adam Gillen) in Michael Longhurst’s production seems entirely based on the scatological letters he often wrote to his friends and family. Certainly that stark contrast between a lively, vulgar young man and the sublimity of his music intrigues but here his genius comes across as completely inexplicable.

Gillen, with simian gait, tells fart jokes accompanied by hyena laughs throughout and he’d do well to heed the advice of the original production’s director Peter Hall. “You have to make me believe you wrote that music,” he asked of Simon Callow, who played Mozart. No such caution is evident from Longhurst.

While we don’t necessarily expect historical veracity from playwrights, the fact that Salieri was a respected musician, Mozart was hardworking and his wife Constanze was not the strumpet portrayed by Karla Crome but a trained musician, does not in itself make for a great story.

But a more subtle interpretation of the relationship between Salieri and Mozart would add a great deal more interest and complexity to the overly polarised characterisations on show here.

Runs until February 1, box office:

Women’s rock music in London

This video from England says about itself:

Dream Nails interviewed by Cassie Fox of LOUD WOMEN, with questions sent in from Ngaire Ruth. 16 April 2016, launch of the EP ‘DIY’ at Shacklewell Arms, London.

By Cassie Fox in England:

A month of great Grrrl power gigs and there’s more to come

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

Cassie Fox: Loud Women – Dispatches from the front line of feminist music

THERE’S been a heap load of great grrrl gigs on in London in the last few weeks.

LOUD WOMEN and Who Run the World’s joint fundraiser, part of the We Shall Overcome festival, went down a treat with The Empty Page, Dream Nails, Little Fists and Charmpit each providing top-class entertainment and raising cash for Women’s Aid.

Last Friday I wanted to clone myself so that I could simultaneously attend Dream Nails playing a Music Against Bruises benefit, the Empty Page and Foxcunt launching records at Nambucca and Dolls headlining Clitrock, a fundraiser for female genital mutilation awareness.

But what made missing out on these great gigs worthwhile was hosting Bratakus, a new punk duo from the north of Scotland, for LOUD WOMEN at the Hope & Anchor in Islington. They put on an amazing show and everyone in the room went home their biggest fan.

They’re a prime example of how social media helps female musicians, whether it’s working mums like me who can keep in touch with the world around their squillion other commitments or talented youngsters like these two, living on a hill in the wilderness, getting the chance to play a rocking show at an iconic London venue because of an exchange of Facebook messages.

The band is definitely one to watch, combining awesome energy with technical perfection and catchy songs. Check them out at

Closer to home — much closer — I hosted an acoustic gig with Lilith Ai last week in my kitchen. Lilith is very much at the top of my “should be playing the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury next year” list (if you’re reading, Ms Eavis, take note), so it was a huge honour to get to hear her play across the table from me.

Her perfect pop songs, powerfully sung with a beautiful voice, deliver poignant commentaries on the world of a young working-class woman of colour.

She joined me talking to BBC London in the run up to LOUD WOMEN Fest, so I returned the favour in interviewing her about the Fight Like a Girl project she’s spearheaded which is creating a network of female musicians across England and France who are working together on a compilation album and tour.

The video from Lilith’s Kitchen Session will be available in the LOUD WOMEN ezine at e-zine.

Enough about London. Manchester’s post-punk LIINES are top of my booking wish list at the moment and they’ve just released a double-A side Disappear/Be Here ahead of a short tour (Stoke November 11, Liverpool November 17, Derby November 18, Manchester November 26 and Leeds December 2).

Deux Furieuses, another Scottish duo with a huge sound, played for us this summer and blew us away. My LOUD WOMEN colleague Kris Smith described it as “a scathing punk/rock assault on the senses” — in a good way, obvs.

Their album Tracks of Wire delivers the same impact as the live set, with some more atmospheric songs providing balance and contrast. This record, along with the upcoming Petrol Girls debut, is one of the most important albums of 2016 and you should seek it out immediately if you haven’t already. You might find it filed under Uneasy Listening.

The next LOUD WOMEN show is November 18, again at the Hope & Anchor in London, where we’ll be hosting a night with a more of a rock vibe than usual. The line-up includes Thunder on the Left, Phoenix Chroi, Lilith’s Army and Slags, with the latter a later addition to the bill.

They were booked instantly upon hearing their song Oh! Janine about, that’s right, Janine of Eastenders. Slags are my new favourite band already since Bratakus, I just know it.

And for your Yuletide diary, on December 2 LOUD WOMEN will be turning the Veg Bar Brixton’s cellar into a punk rock grotto with live performances from The Nyx, Baby Seals and my own brand-new band, GUTTFULL — think Downtown Boys meets X Ray Spex for a punk sax-off.

There’ll also be a festive DJ set from indie legend Debbie Smith on the decks and mistletoe aplenty. I love Christmas, can’t wait to get those chestnuts roasting.

Picasso’s Guernica, Iraq war and jazz music

This video says about itself:

Guernica Iraq

22 December 2006

Guernica” was painted by Picasso in 1937. It depicts the senseless massacre by the Nazi Luftwaffe in the Basque city of Guernica, Spain. The attack was ordered at the behest of fascist Spanish General, Francisco Franco, during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica was a non-military target, the innocent people of the town were attacked in an attempt to psychologically break the will of those who opposed Franco‘s fascistic nationalist pursuit.

Picasso captured an intense scene reflecting the deeply unjust suffering, agony and despair experienced by the people of Guernica. And in doing so he produced one of the most iconic, powerful and affecting pieces of anti-war artwork ever put to canvas. It is little surprise then that a reproduction of the painting, which hangs outside the entrance to the UN Security Council, was covered while Colin Powell was attempting to sell the Iraq War to the world.

The people of Iraq are suffering what amounts to the similar unjust brutality inflicted on the people of Guernica, except it’s practically on a daily basis. A more accurate comparison would be to imagine having the London Tube and Bus bombings everyday. And have them happen so often that they become a predictable daily occurrence and part of life.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

An assault on the eyes of false consciousness

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Barry Guy
The Blue Shroud
(Intakt CD266)

IN 2003 George Bush’s US media officials in New York hung a blue drape over the tapestry copy of Picasso’s mural Guernica in the UN building, immediately before the US secretary of state Colin Powell announced his government’s intentions of invading Iraq.

This shameful act of the fear of revolutionary culture and the proclaiming of a brutal attack, in which Blair’s government was fully complicit and participatory, is now remembered in the album The Blue Shroud by the London-born bassist Barry Guy’s Blue Shroud Band.

Guy, born in 1947, was classically trained, but became one of jazz’s prime free-form bassists, being an integral part of John Stevens’s and Trevor Watts’ spontaneous Music Ensemble (1967-70), a member of other pioneering free bands like Amalgam and Paul Rutherford’s Iskra 1903 and a founder of the much larger London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra.

I first saw Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art, again in New York, in June 1968 after months of protests against the US war in Vietnam and in support of some of the civil rights movement, including the Poor People’s campaign in Washington DC earlier in June. No other work of public art had ever had such an effect on me.

I stared at its figures — the bull, the agonised horse, the woman with her child, the screaming man with upraised arms below the sky on fire — and wondered about what each of them emblematised.

But it was the whole wall-sized work and its unfettered pain that crushed any illusory defence in my mind and I eventually walked away with a completely new view of art and culture.

That same assault on the eyes of false consciousness is expressed through Guy’s sonic masterpiece, as the shroud of epochal Bush-Blair untruth is ripped from the listener’s ears by some of Europe’s most powerful free music stalwarts.

These include the Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez (whose own remarkable album Songs of the Spanish Civil War celebrated his compatriots’ courage and love of freedom), the Majorca-born and Barcelona-trained pianist Augusti Fernandez, the French tuba virtuoso Michel Godard and the Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli.

Percy Pursglove’s mournful, shuddering trumpet introduces the Prelude, the viola and violin resonate, and Ben Dwyer’s guitar remembers the nightscape of Spain’s horror of fascism and war.

Savina Yannatou sings the words of Symbols of Guernica, written by the Irish poet Kerry Hardie, inside the rumbling drums and Fernandez’s defiant journeys up and down his keys.

In the track called Bull/Mother and Child/Warrior, Godard’s tuba growls below the pain of the saxophones and the crashing percussion.

Julius Gabriel’s baritone horn gurgles, as if it were making its last sounds.

Guy uses extracts of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas to create a sudden sequence of pure viola melodic beauty before Yannatou sings of the futile journey of The Blinded Bird of Hope, underscored by the sawing strings of Guy’s bass.

Picasso’s bulb at the highest point of his mural is written down by Hardie in this way: “The single bulb of torture keeps the faith, wild theories drive the gun’s demented roar. In cities now laid open to the sky, unblinking, the relentless eye of war.”

It is of now-times and now-wars of which she writes and Guy and his bandmates play.

This music video says about itself:

BARRY GUY: The Bird (2016)

From the album “The Blue Shroud” (Intakt 2016)

Percy Pursglove: trumpet
Torben Snekkestad: soprano saxophone, trumpet
Michael Niesemann: alto saxophone, oboe
Per Texas Johansson: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Julius Gabriel: baritone saxophone
Michel Godard: tuba, serpent
Maya Homburger: violin
Fanny Paccoud: viola
Ben Dwyer: guitar
Agustí Fernández: piano
Barry Guy: double bass
Lucas Niggli: drums, percussion
Ramón López: drums, percussion
Savina Yannatou: voice

The Chris Searle article continues:

In Bird and the Biber aria that follows, Godard’s delving tuba sounds like a fanfare of hope before Maya Homburger’s scintillating violin chorus sings throughout the crushed city where “death-smoke hangs in oily black-ended palls.”

Stare at and imbibe Picasso’s images before you listen to Guy’s astonishing soundscape. You will hear Aleppo, Fallujah and their people’s horror, and in the final track, a fusion of Guy and Bach’s Agnus Dei, you will perhaps perceive a distant glimpse of human peace and unity.