The Mortal Coil

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The Bump Assembly: The late Ken “Big Bamn” Smith, Chris “Freekbass” Sherman, Jason Burgard


 

We wake every day, or we don’t. I’d like to keep it that simple but man is it hard to contain the sadness as more and more beautiful people perish.

The latest is a great musician and friend Big Bamn, born Ken Smith, an amazing man and top-notch percussionist. He died yesterday tragically in a car accident a day before his 31st birthday. He is survived by his wife and 5 beautiful kids. Damn, another great goes early.

I have lost several friends in the last 12 months and it’s not getting any easier. Jesus, David, Eli and now Bamn. If I made a list of the most amazing guys I know that’s it.

Knew. Legends now, all of them.

Joined by the famous legends David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister, and now there’s word that Bernie Worrell is sick with cancer.

Life’s a bitch and then you die. Better make love and music while you are here.

Oklahoma USA

No tolerance for the singing college kids on the bus. The frat brothers and their sorority dates deserve to be expelled from school. Maybe daddy will stop paying for some of them and they can go to community college and learn about the real world. Most will just transfer, some will get more followers for their viewpoints and their instant white victimhood. Book em on Fox News quickly!

Hopefully a further investigation gets into who promotes this song and further punishment is doled out up the chain.

If I was on that bus, even at age 17 and drunk, I would have been freaking out. Would have probably started swinging, and I quickly would have been out of the frat, out of the bus, beat to pulp by these kids. No social media back then.

At the same time, remember they have a right to say what they said. I strongly protect it. It’s part of what makes America great. In my country you can say something very unpopular, quite dangerous, and stay a free man, free to your ideas and thoughts, as crazy or counter to mainstream they may be. In many other countries you will end up in jail and/or die for your words. Not in America. The punishment must be social and institutional, not criminal. I don’t believe they broke any laws, not on that bus at least.

Leave these young adults alone to figure out their crime. If the school doesn’t expel them it should assign all of them to working with minority communities as a healthy attempt at reform. Communities need the help from the college age kids, and these kids need the world to reach out and help change them for the better.

As I blare a track by one of my favorite bands, the multi-racial and multi-genre Freekbass outfit, I know that we have to get better, smarter, healthier as americans. My mother always said there’s only 2 types of people in the world – assholes and the rest of us dealing with them.

 

Legendary SHAG Live – Hand Me Down

We talk about legends here, and the grit of time exposes much. In this case it looks like Youtube has finally discovered the 90’s!

One of the finest unsigned funk bands of that decade hailed from Cincinnati, Ohio and tore up stages throughout the midwest and east coast. If you were fortunate enough to see SHAG live you know what I’m talking about. Many, many amazing evenings.

Newly unearthed audio from about 17 years ago let’s you hear SHAG at work with some photos:

Just A Touch of Magic – Bernie Worrell & Headtronics

In the summer of 2010 I loaned out this beastly 1980 synth I had at my studio for a few gigs. No one ever wants to borrow my mostly cheap, usually half-broken gear so this alone was noteworthy.

When the best keyboard player in the world is the one to play it, and is probably the only other guy on the planet that can appreciate this particular board, well things came together nicely.

That thing has never sounded better than under Bernie’s fingers, and he seems to have blessed it with a genius residue cuz it sounds much better since!

The Early Years – Classic Freekbass

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Is 14 years long enough for a song to be called a classic? When you drop some true Ohio funk, sure why not.

Check out this non-LP release from Cinci’s Freekbass and Bootsy, doing the 2YK:

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Yo Freekbass!

I’ve been digging through the stacks and have some great old Freekbass that I’m considering mixalixing one night.


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If that happens I’ll have to post that up for yallz.


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Update: 2016.  Seeing these old Freekbass posts always reminds me of the great times and great people I’ve met through that crew. A few of them have already moved on past earth and it’s important to remember their greatness.

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The Great Big Bamn & Freekbass


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The legendary Kernel with young Free(k)Bass


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Freekbass & The Wizard of Woo, genius Bernie Worrell

 

The funk will survive just like it always does… play on brotha!

Happy Victorious New Year

We survived the?apocalypse. We re-elected a president over the paranoid shouting of the rightwing lunatics. We soon will be getting affordable health care.

I’m feeling victorious. It should be a glorious and unforgettable 2013. Take a victory lap tonight and let loose with friends. Don’t get loaded and drive – support the cabbies and trains tonight.

About 13 years ago I took the stage on new years eve with these dudes to make a big announcement. No big announcement this time, just enjoy yourself with some new Freekbass:

 

Upgrade Your Headtronics w/Bernie Worrell

Just a quick clip of one of my favorite new bands: Headtronics.

This is just a small taste of the electro-jam band improvising their way through it all. I also must mention that the big keyboard at Bernie’s left is my baby, a rare Arp/Rhodes 4-voicer that I lent them for some shows. He’s using the Electric Piano patch at the end of this clip.

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Eternal Moments

There truly are times when I pinch myself. I have seen some interesting, crazy, sad, beautiful, and legendary things unfold into my eyes, allowing me the first hand juice of being there.


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It seems that this digital sharing age still gets blasted back in place by a nice dose of reality up in your nostrils.

I found my eyes watering and my psyche tingling as I caught Headtronics live last Thursday. The show was smoking (of course). Freekbass and DJ Logic did their thing strong as usual.

Their third this night was the legendary Wizard of Woo, ladies and gentlemen presenting Mr. Bernie Worrell!!

Nice, right? How about the legend playing a killer improvisational set through my keyboards? That would be something special, perhaps even the highlight of my musical life so far.

Yes indeed.

Bernie Worrell piano

Headtronics: The New Doo Review

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Funky fresh and it’s about time…. If you want to see what music and live performance can be, get down with some improvised art and dance yourself silly then it pays to catch the project dubbed “Headtronics” if it comes near your domain.

Genre jumping has been popular among musicians for quite some time (and popular on the charts the last decade or so), but actually jumping ‘modes’ still proves difficult and rare. Headtronics, a strong trio of players consisting of DJ Logic, Freekbass, and Steve Molitz, is one of the first projects I’ve seen to successfully go “mixed mode”.

See, there’s several ways for Joe Citizen to enjoy himself some music when he leaves the house in the evening. In what mode he ends up consuming music that night depends partly on his tastes, partly on social constructs and then venue requirements.  We know he probably won’t catch a symphony at a loft party, a rock band on the corner, a solo sax in a dance club, or a performance art piece in the corner bar. It’s more than likely he won’t get out of his comfort zone at all.

For this dilemma DJ’s were created, and this was good.

Any music you want anywhere you want it is the promise. Musical taste gatekeepers blah blah blah. Some musicians hold a confrontational attitude towards DJ’s, and from a purely financial perspective it is understandable as they are fighting over the same beer markups. But ultimately those that love the music are at least as important as those who make the music, so DJ’s became important parts of the music ecology.


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In our categorization of everything we have put musicians on one side and DJ’s on the other, but this masks the fact that the best of each share many qualities. More on that in a minute.

Eventually our technology and transparency led us to this postmodern moment of ‘so, what’s new anymore?’. And if it’s new and cool, I already downloaded that, wiki’ed that, googled that, and I feel like I know all about that… that thing you just told me about.

Then I will forget about it nearly as quick as I ‘interlearned’ it.

Where does Headtronics fit into this? Several angles – this is a rant after all!

DJ’s do a set ultimately to keep people dancing / zoning out / chasing the blues from their day. They change tempo if and when needed, leave no dead air, do not focus on a piece but on the whole.

A great DJ does alot of things during a great set that musicians don’t do and don’t even need to consider most of the time. Musicians do a set to play each piece to it’s fullest, to perform their musical parts to their satisfaction, to connect with the audience, and keep their project’s name and songs in the fan’s memory forever. They construct sets but in a different way than a DJ, with different purposes.


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No project to my knowledge has been able to successfully deliver the holy fusion of DJ’ing and playing live music, while improvising it all, until Headtronics.

Yes, melodies, textures, and even rhythms were improvised and explored during pieces within a set as a whole. Logic had full scratch and break moments. Steve had space for perfect textures and melody lines. And Freekbass put out flavor and variations while sitting in a big fat pocket. They achieved the perfect measure of success in both DJ’ing and live gigging: the nicely mixed crowd danced for two hours straight and good times were had by all.

I will wrap this up because you get the point — go see Headtronics, see if you can dig what I’m talking about. I’ve seen DJ’s in bands, and I’ve seen musicians play over a DJ, but this is both and neither. It’s a whole new thang as they say, and it just feels right. It’s about time.

ezraz

ps — much respect to Urban Dance Squad and DJ DNA for blind ambition 23 years ago.

Posted via email from 2M :: REAX

A DJ Raz Giggle?

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Whoa nelly… ch ch ch changes…. my head’s tronics are out of the sink…. DJ Raz might be having a gig!That’s me you see and I haven’t performed my live set in about five years, but I got a call from the southside elskorpion commander Mistaswift. This call contained the seedcode and some fertilizer. When Jesus himself built me a garden it just seemed like a sign. From above? On the side? Down l (too slow).

So yeah, I have to see some Headtronics this weekend and also, as well, along with that, get myself a DJ set and rig together by Monday. I’m not posting the gig specifics yet because I’m not quite sure I’ll make it — Well I’ll make it, I just don’t know if I’ll perform it this week or next.

The Augmented Future Starring Headtronics

I’ve been peddling myself around town since the weather broke and damn what a beautiful city Cleveland is.

 

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The view of the east side of Cleveland, from above Cleveland Heights.

 

The near east side by bike has to be one of the finer urban rides in America: Wade lagoon, university circle, Little Italy, Case, Rockefeller Park, Lakeview Cemetery, up the hill to Forest Hills Park (formerly the home of the richest man in the world!), Cain Park, Shaker Lakes, back down the new Euclid Avenue bike lanes to the new CSU then down to the Rock Hall and the Inner Harbor….

Give me a sunny day and my Raleigh and I’m good on the northside. We started our recession 40 years ago so we are getting good at being poor.

 

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Lake Erie driftwood, aka The Lake Erie Monster

 

So with all this hopeful optimism (Obamaism?) I have to tell you about 2 new developments. First off the always funky Freekbass has joined forces with 2 others for his first “supergroup side project”. Called Headtronics and featuring a killer lineup of Freek on bass, Steve Molitz from Particle on Keys, and DJ Logic on everything else, they are finally playing Ohio next weekend so you know I will have to check that out.

 

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Headtronics – DJ Logic, Freekbass and Steve Molitz

 

I have been a big fan of Dub Trio for a bit so I can’t wait to see the Headtronics Trio put their shingle out.

On the homefront, The Flux-adel Recording Division has been active lately, doing both final mixes on 2new 2merica tracks for Scherzo Elskorpion, and starting preliminary writing on new material with the very talented Dakota “chief” Stonerock.

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Finally — Last summer I was part of my own wannabe supergroup side project we called Roaming Crazy that managed to write and record a single song before disbanding. The track is called “Stares 2020” and is currently hanging around on the HD waiting for it’s parents to work chit out.

I hope you readers will get to hear it sometime, it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever produced, like way up in your face, you know, HAVE SOME! Production.

Ezzy

Ps Anyone see Roy Ayers sitting in with The Roots on Fallon last night? Hot damn I hope the roots are recording all those commercial break jams that we miss on tv for us to dig on forever after.

Update – here’s the Roaming Crazies doing “Stares 20-20”