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Beyond Race Launch Party Southpaw February 21, 2007

Written 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.

Silent Knight Garland Jeffreys

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 Coney Island.

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.


Roots Tonic

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 & Garland Jeffreys

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 at www.BeyondRaceMagazine.com.


 








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