“Gospel” (Used 3 times)
ange on 03/14/2013 at 10:30AM
Even in the biggest pile of horse crap, there's gotta be pony somewhere. When Hurricane Sandy turned the freeform radio station WFMU into an island, damaging valuable equipment and sinking their annual record fair fundraiser, one of the bright post-storm rainbows was an incredible night of music at the The Bell House in Brooklyn.
The Hurricane Sandy Relief benefit featured outstanding performances from Arrington De Dionyso of Old Time Relijun, followed by the Dot Wiggin Band, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Texas psych/gospel legends-rediscovered The Relatives. At the show, WFMU's comeback story paralleled the journeys of many of the evenings performers.
If you're not following the growing popularity of The Relatives, you should be. Their music and resurrection story were recently featured in the New York Times and on NPR, which means your mom might be calling to ask you about them soon. The long story short is that after 30 years, they are just now releasing their first full album of original work (available for streaming here), and it seems the world is finally ready to embrace a sound I've seen best described as "Jesus on LSD."
Also performing that night was another comeback kid, Dot Semprini aka. Dot Wiggin, the lead singer of '60s all-female group The Shaggs. Depending on whom you ask, they were either the best band of all time or the worst. One of their classically controversial songs "My Pal Foot Foot" closed off their set that night. It's an ode to Dot's lost cat that will either make your brain hurt or remind you why Dot holds the place she does in Rock and Roll history.
As you enjoy these live sets, take a moment to send dry thoughts and financial support in the direction of the station these bands came out to celebrate. The WFMU 2013 Marathon is underway, and it's a chance to say thank you to the station that helps you discover incredible music throughout the year and who parents this very archive.
natewooley on 04/28/2011 at 05:34PM
When I was growing up, I was a voracious reader of Aldous Huxley. Not that I was a believer in his theories, or even a great fan of his writing style, but Huxley was the first thinker I had encountered that had that kind of broad base of knowledge that people associate with the term "renaissance man". I've always been drawn to these sorts of people, those that can analyze Scelsi after one or two listenings, then recreate a Szechuan dish from scratch, and tromp you on the basketball court. Maybe it's some sort of hard-wired search for my own brand of the Nietzchean super man, but I hope not.
Enter Ben Hall. Object based percussionist with groups like New Monuments and Graveyards...Label head of Broken Research Recordings...Sculptor....Conceptual Artist....Detroit social activist....Restaurateur....Featured once on CNN Business News....Former handball great.....Graffiti artist.....Cook of some of the best macrobiotic food I've ever eaten.....and most germane to this blog entry.......COLLECTOR.
Ben has been collecting Southern and Detroit gospel 45s, 78s, and LPs for years and while, initially, his entrepreneurial spirit had a hand in his collection, he is now providing the bulk of his recordings on his own website: www.baptizum.com.
When we started dealing seriously with archives at DRAM, I was very gung ho to get this collection, in some sort of curated form, as part of our burgeoning collection. I've always been proud in the music we present in DRAM, but the A does stand for American and the fact that we had no representation of American Gospel music, seemed to me to be an oversight in search of a resolution.
Well, fret no more, because as of Sunday, May 1st, the bulk of the ongoing Ben Hall Gospel Archival Project will be up and available for those with access to DRAM. (an aside, many have asked about individual subscriptions to DRAM, and we are working out the process. If you are interested, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll let you know how you can get an individual subscription to this archive and all the other great stuff on DRAM).
Not only are we presenting over 300 tracks of vocal quartet, Motown R&B gospel, and amateur/professional recordings of gospels choirs and sermons from Harlem, Detroit and the American South, but we have wrangled one of my favorite novelists of all time, Rick Moody, to write the opening exhortation to the archive. I sent the whole collection to him to listen to for research, and he was so blown away by the music, and by the personality of Ben (remember....renaissance superman) that he also, under his own steam, did the interview found below, which talks about collecting records, the fellowship of making music available, and growing up in Detroit.
As a little teaser, I've included the first five tracks from the archive as well, just for some Sunday morning listening.