Launch Party Southpaw February 21, 2007
by John Proctor
Photographed by Katherin Wermke
On Wednesday, February
21, Beyond Race launched its Music Issue with a
wildly diverse lineup of musicians, hip-hoppers,
and pulpiteers at Brooklyn’s own Southpaw.
I found out about Beyond Race from
my good buddy Domer of hip-hop duo BrokeNDomer,
who incidentally have a nice write-up in the new
issue. I have to say, I questioned the accuracy
of the magazine’s title – after all,
is a publication really beyond race if it’s
titled Beyond Race? So the first thing I did upon
arriving at Southpaw while my photographer Kat started
snapping the first act Silent Knight on stage was
to pick up the mag and start reading.
And you know, it’s 1) a really well-written,
nicely laid out magazine, and 2) not really about
race at all, at least not overtly. In fact, the
subtitle – A Magazine for Progressive Thinkers
– is much more apt. Besides the generous Music
portion, there are sections ranging from Theater,
Literature and Film to Community, Tattoo and Prison.
And I was absolutely overjoyed to see a piece devoted
to Eak the Geek, my favorite freak on soon-to-be-gone
Oh, but about the music. I’d say the lineup
of performers did go beyond race, in that it was
one of the most diverse groups (I’ll refrain
from calling them a motley crew) I’ve seen
in awhile. Besides Silent Knight, a solid hip-hop
and spoken wordsmith, they had Roots Tonic, a dub-ambient
guitar/bass/keyboard/drum/laptop combo that made
up in atmosphere what they lacked in actual songs.
There were also Bushwick breakbeat mainstay Subatomic
Sound System, truly genre- and race-defying supergroup
ADM, and Locksley, who incidentally were on Jimmy
Kimmel March 2. Domer was in South Dakota in the
midst of his winter tour, but his partner Broke
was in attendance with his typical chill demeanor
and warm hoodie.
But I have to say, the night belonged to probably
the only performer there not under 30 – in
fact, over 30 twice – Garland Jeffreys. There’s
a reason he’s on the cover; impossible to
categorize, he’s had a career since the late
60s marked by periodic brilliance and critical head-scratching
at his refusal to commit to one style (or five),
which has resulted in a criminally neglected body
of work ripe for rediscovery. That could be cured
soon, as he’s putting out the sarcastically
titled I’m Alive, the first comprehensive
collection of his material spanning the multiple
labels he’s recorded for.
On this night though, what I thought separated
him was that he was the only performer who seemed
interested in, well, the song. Every piece he sang
was both well-crafted and executed with sincere
and full emotional investment, and that was what
connected him with an audience that didn’t
seem to know who he was when he initially went onstage.
He did his set completely acoustic, accompanied
only by his longtime friend Alan Freedman on guitar.
Perhaps the high point of the night was during his
song Color Live, when he strolled into the audience
with an adorable strut a sing-along before gingerly
ambling back onto the stage.
Alan Freedman &
Incidentally, the cover story on Jeffreys is a
damn fine piece. If you want to read it and all
the other wonderful stuff editor Dave Terra and
company are putting out, you can order a copy online