Tuesday, October 26, 2010

L.E.P. Bogus Boys - "Chicago Niggaz" (2010) [music video]

I saw this music video by the L.E.P. Bogus Boys last week on a global music video show on public television in southern Minnesota. They played the L.E.P. Bogus Boys vid in between a New Zealand singer-songwriter vid and one from a rock band from Italy. For me, seeing this video was like watching a 4 minute version of The Wire set in Chicago--it is a hell of a song, mofos:

UPDATE: Know much about Blue Light Cameras and policing in Chicago? Curious? Here are some interesting links that I found on the subject: one, two, three, and four.

Vintage Violence

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today is a Day for the Kashmere Stage Band's "Texas Thunder Soul, 1968-74"

The best high school band ever? Ever.

One of the best performing bands of the modern musical era? Most certainly.

The Kashmere Stage Band was insanely good both in the studio and on the stage. Texas Thunder Soul, 1968-74 compiles most of the band's available studio and live work on two CD's. The sound is incredibly crisp and well-mixed.

The Kashmere Stage Band, populated by students attending Kashmere High School in northeast Houston during the late-60s into the 70s, played and recorded some of the deepest funk grooves this planet has ever known.

Led by the bandmaster and music educator "Prof." Conrad O. Johnson, the KSB dominated high school big band competitions throughout Texas, the region, and the entire U.S. for nearly a decade. They recorded 8 albums of material and played live shows, during holiday and summer breaks, to packed auditoriums and gyms across the United States, Europe, and Japan. [You can find a fascinating interview with Johnson from the record label Now Again here where he reflects on his years leading the KSB.]

I can't say this strongly enough: this guy was a musical genius and he and his band of high school kids were making some of the best music in the country during the early 1970s. Everyone should know the name Conrad O. Johnson. As his biography on the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame (year 2000 inductee) award page describes his background:

After first attending Houston College for Negroes and later graduating from Wylie College in the east Texas town of Marshall, Johnson began teaching in public schools in 1941. His 37 years of classroom service were highlighted by a distinguished tenure as director of the Kashmere High School Stage Band, which won 42 out of 46 contests entered between 1969 and 1977, recorded eight albums featuring more than 20 original compositions by Johnson and traveled throughout Europe, Japan and the United States.

"Prof" Johnson passed away at the age of 92 on February 3, 2008, after spending the previous two nights as the guest of honor at a pair of Kashmere Stage Band reunion shows. The Houston Chronicle sums up his final days and his legacy here.

NPR's All Things Considered did a wonderful story on Johnson and the KSB back in 2006, a short 15 months before his death. You can listen to and download the story here, along with links to 3 songs that you can stream.

In addition, most KSB songs can be streamed on grooveshark. Check out this live version of the song "All Praises" from 1972:

I would strongly encourage you to get yourself a copy of the 2-CD Texas Thunder Soul set somehow, someway. The Kashmere Stage Band kick out the funk-jazz-fusion jams, mofo. The compilation can be purchased/downloaded in all the usual places.

And while I'm at it, I recommend that every music-loving American look for the recent documentary that premiered at SXSW '10 about the Prof and his band which should be out on DVD soon:

It is available to save in your queue until it shows up on Netflix.

Ok, still reading? Are there any high school large bands that have written, composed and recorded songs this perfect? I intend that as a serious question. Here is the student-penned "Al's Thing" from the KSB:

Still clicking? Here's "Headwiggle":

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Show that Got Away (GbV edition)

Arrgghhh. I really wish I could have been at the Guided by Voices show at First Avenue (Minneapolis) last night. I can't believe I am missing all the dates on their reunion tour. I saw 8 GbV shows between 1996 and 2004 (including 3 at First Avenue*), but couldn't make this one.

*Other 5 shows were: The Dingo Bar in Albuquerque in 1996, The Cotton Club in Atlanta in 1999, The Launchpad in Albuquerque in 2001, and the "final two" GbV shows at The Metro in Chicago on NYEE and NYE 2004.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This Week is a Week for "Acronyms" by Bee vs. Moth (2010)

I have been listening to some of the tracks off of Acronyms, the second studio album by the Austin, TX-based progressive jazz band Bee vs. Moth in preparation for their show later in the week. Austin Sound calls their music a cross between jazz and Zappa: jazzappa if you will. NPR music labels it a cross between Ornette Coleman and Television.

Here is how the band describe themselves: Bee vs. Moth is a multiple-genre, weirdo instrumental rock band from Austin, Texas. Our mission is to bravely explore the little-traveled and oft-neglected territory between Ornette Coleman's doom metal band and Mr. Rogers' dude ranch. Along the way, we'll tromp through a few Latin tunes, knock over some perfectly good chords, and spill improvised solos on our nice, clean shirts. Or as our friend put it, "You guys sound like Sonic Youth meets the Tijuana Brass." Intrigued? Appalled? Come see us soon!

Hells yeah! Regardless of the description, it is good stuff Maynard.

*First vid and single is "Ugly is the New Black" :

You can stream some songs from their 2010 release and some live tracks from 2008 and 2009 on the band's website here.

I am looking forward to picking up a copy of the CD at their show.

UPDATE #1: the vid for the second single from the album was released today...

UPDATE #2: And these guys kick out the jams live, mofos. Their show tonight was one of the best lives sets of music that I have seen in the last several years. Do yourself a favor and go see them live if they come to a town near you. At the show I picked up Acronymns on CD and a t-shirt with their "CD & Shirt for $20" promotional price. It was a $20 wisely spent. The album will most certainly make it somewhere towards the top of my Best Albums of 2010 list at the end of the year...