Lincoln Center

28th Roots Of American Music Festival at Lincoln Center

PROLOGUE: Lincoln Center wrapped up their 2011 'Out Of Doors' season with its 2-day Roots of American Music Festival, co-produced with Spike Barkin.  One of the best things about being in NYC in the summer is all the fantastic free music.  Summer Stage, River To River Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn, etc. are all great institutions. But pound for pound, Lincoln Center Out of Doors is by far the most varied, challenging, inclusive, multi-cultural, multidisciplinary and rewarding of the bunch. AND it is ALL COMPLETELY FREE (many of the other festivals reserve the best acts for ticketed fundraiser shows). After a typical good (and long) day at LCOOD, you feel as if you have just taken a great college course where your ideas about music are reshaped, re-contextualized, and made more exciting many times over. While the aforementioned summer series' fill the calendar with sure-fire crowd pleasers and 'it'-bands, Lincoln Center's public programming, helmed by Bill Bragin and Jill Sternheimer, plays to a higher musical intelligence. If some shows fail, it's because a risk was taken, not because the choice was too obvious.  So thanks for filling my head, heart and eyes with some wonderful experiences this summer.

I shot a bunch of film there this year that will take a little time to sort and edit. But with all things worthwhile, I think there will be a greater value in that than the following day's hyperventilating blog post. (which I did as well, see the Girl Group review on

Photos and commentary (taken from my tweets from that day)

"Don't miss the greatest conglomeration of curiosities gathered under one tent..." (Jim Dickinson, 'Oh How She Dances' )

Sid Selvedge and Sons of Mud-Boy (Cody and Luther Dickinson): shambly, rambly, shaky and beautiful... stirring up winds and strange delta ju ju on 'Goin' to Brownsville'. Sleepy John and Furry in the metaphysical house.

Abigail Washburn is as gifted and innovative as any 'indie-folk' outfit I can think of. probably better. #cantfakethefolk

Ebony Hilbillies taking 'old-school' to a whole 'nuther level. #bigfatdaddy Barry Harris in da house too.

Smokin cigarettes and watchin' Captain...Kangaroo... (with Dailey & Vincent)

Love it when a music legend will still ham it up for a photo. Something sweet about it, or showmanly, or both. #sonnyburgess

Hayden Thompson still cuts an impressive figure...

Cowboy Jack Clement is certainly the smartest man in the room, although he wouldn't want you to know it. #genius

Rudy 'Tutti' Grayzell - no words neccesary

Marty Stuart's tele has a whole separate tele body bolted onto the back of it. #TWAAAANG

Rapt audience as Marty Stuart plays Johnny Cash's lost guitar on 'Dark as a Dungeon', another magical LC Out of Doors moment.

[on a roll of film, more to come...]

--- Complete Gallery Here ---

Inside Midsummer Night Swing: Femi Kuti with Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA!

Field Report: Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing with Femi Kuti & Positive Force, Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA! 7/12/2010.

Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing wrapped up their 22nd season this month, bringing together the intertwined cultures of music and dance in a highly diverse series that covered swing, salsa, tango, bhangra and disco.  If you haven't been to Midsummer Night Swing before, the evening begins with a dance lesson on the dedicated dance floor, moves into a DJ set and ends with a performance by an artists associated with the style of the evening.

I created this multimedia piece combining photography and field audio to bring you inside the experience:

Building on the success of FELA! on Braodway and the heightened awareness for the music of Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti, Lincoln Center put together a wonderful show with Fela's son, Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force. Jill Vallery, dance captain and cast member if FELA! began the dance instruction, teaching 8-bar sequences of Afrobeat moves.  Amayo, frontman of New York's own Antibalas was there to assist. Sahr Ngaujah, the star of FELA! continued the lesson with his break-down of the 'underground spiritual game', showing how to shake the hips in coded patterns. As the evening started to warm up, Sahr and friends came down to the dance floor, and soon FELA! cast members and audience alike were dancing together and trading moves in the middle of a large enraptured circle.  Rich Medina was on hand to provide the music.

Femi Kuti & Positive Force took the stage with dancers, a large horn section and rhythm section for an extended set. Femi has his own unique style, it is brighter, slightly more frantic and improvisatory. But at the core he is his father's inheritor, bringing political critique and positive messages and leading the ensemble while moving between singing, keyboard, alto sax and trumpet.

Also in recent African Music News:

Fela's original drummer, Tony Allen played (le) Poisson Rouge (photos)

Baaba Maal played SummerStage (photos)

Chubby Checker - Midsummer Night Swing Lincoln Center

Just for fun, and to scope out the scene for next week's Ponderosa Stomp shows, I went to check out Chubby Checker on the second night of Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing. Chubby rocked harder than I expected with a tight little garage-y band and even did a little set of authentic hard country. The set was padded with a few unnecessary covers but once again, it was a lesson that the first wave of rock 'n rollers still got plenty to give. Enjoy the Pictures, link to gallery below...


Joel Dorn Tribute Lincoln Center

Last night there was a tribute to Joel Dorn, a producer for Atlantic Records who helped bring into the world recordings by Roberta Flack, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann and Yusef Lateef among many others. He had a knack for bringing great work out of unique artists, producing music that was often a hybrid of soul, jazz and experimental music. Many of the artists he had worked with over the years were present. I'll let the pictures say the rest. FULL GALLERY HERE

The Ghost of Joel Dorn presided over the evening:

Roberta Flack

The Horns from Black Heat

Hugh Masekela

The Persuasions

Cornell Dupree

Adam Dorn beneath a projection of Joel

Les McCann