The Mad Maggies have another new video. This time it’s something blue for blues waves and the blue skies ahead. Let’s dance and celebrate a little.

Enjoy our live version of the ska classic “Blue Ska” on YouTube now.

“Blue Ska” was recorded by the Cavaliers most likely in the mid-60s. The 45s I’ve seen on YouTube list J. Willacey as the writer. I can’t find much about him except that he was trained in the Alpha Boys School, a catholic educational institution in Kingston which produced some of Jamaica’s finest musicians. Willacey recorded with Lester Sterling, the Jamaican saxophonist and trumpet player best known as one of the founding members of the Skatalites.

When I first heard the tune, I loved its simple but infectious hook and its irresistible dance beat. I arranged it for us making sure we were true to the original groove and giving plenty of room for the horns to strut their stuff.

Videographer Mira Stenger caught us live at Lagunitas Beer Sanctuary. The live show audio was impressively good. Add some B-roll from our Cotati Accordion Festival show (thanks to Jeff Stafford) and other bits and I was able to edit together an authentic taste of a Mad Ms performance.

We’ve also recorded “Blue Ska” at Wally Sound and will be releasing that studio version soon.

 

Watch the new Mad Maggies video!

WARNING: Contains subtle political commentary and explicit calls to action.

10 days until the USA midterm elections on November 6, 2018. We can turn the tide.
_________

SYNOPSIS: There’s that horrible feeling when you realize that you’ve been duped by a brazen con-artist. It keeps you up at night. You know you’ve got to fix the situation. You CAN do something.

LYRICS
It’s three in the morning
I’m losing sleep
How did I fall for a
no good lying cheat?

There were so many warnings
I should have seen
through his gold plated charm and
lavish thieving schemes

but I strayed, yes I strayed
and was played for the fool
my careless heart made an easy mark

Far from gilded seats of power
Stars still shine, lovers meet
Sweet melodies ease our sadness
the madness is washed to the sea

It’s three in the morning
I’m wide awake
It’s time I put right my
sad, sad mistake
_________

AVAILABLE as a single on BandCamp:
https://musicshop.themadmaggies.com/track/three-in-the-morning
from the Mad Maggies’ 8th album “Naked Ladies”

THANKS to Sean Pete for concept consultation and new headlines footage.
THANKS to all the Mad Ms for video material:
Gary Wium
Ray & B Fernandez
Johny Blood & Juliana
Ian Luke & MJ
Mark Nemoyten
Ned Stone
_________

Vote! https://www.vote.org/
Pitch In! http://aclu.org

Language, music and art have always been cultural exchanges. That’s how we humans roll. We share and cross-fertilize. If you don’t recognized how entwined we are, then you best get to reading some history. Lots of it.

We have been sharing artistically for millennia. We mutually appreciate our fellow creatives on this planet. We inspire each other in countless ways — a musical rhythm, a colorful pattern, a delicious recipe, a way of styling hair, folding a scarf, herb knowledge, a good story, a sad melody.

The attempt by some social activists to draw artistic boundaries between us and insist that those borders cannot be crossed is absurd and futile. Censorship and intellectual tyranny stifle mutual respect. Don’t fall for the silliness of “cultural appropriation”.

I was at the soft opening of Slāv on 26/6/18, a presentation by Ex Machina sponsored by Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM). Friends who worked on the show had comped us tix. Outside the theater a small group of outraged social activists were protesting. They were outraged that the white singer/writer Beatrice Bonnafassi who is Serbian/Italian and the director Robert Lepage who is French Canadian and gay — created a show with themes of slavery. They claimed that the show was a “rip-off” by white people of their black western hemisphere experience.

They were aggressive, rude, almost hysterical. They formed a gauntlet that we had to push through to get to the theatre entrance. They screamed at us that we were privileged, that we were racists. One pushed a poster into my face literally rubbing my nose on it.

I thought how very silly this ado was. I asked one man yelling at me whether he had seen the show. He hadn’t. None of them had seen the show yet. They couldn’t have because this was the first public performance. Why are these people in such a lather over a show they hadn’t even seen?

“Slāv” is a musical play aka an artful expression of a sorrowful human experience. The work is not a farce or mockery. It is not stereotyping or denigrating others. It is not stealing from others for profit.

The protestors could have been using their energy to fight serious issues like chemical pollution or income disparity or detention centres for asylum seekers or, hey, sex slave trafficking. But, no. They picked the low-hanging fruit of a musical created by a popular artist and director at a world class festival, undoubtedly to nab headlines.

The festival after originally supporting the show, eventually caved to the protesters’ political correctness tantrum and cancelled the show.

Shame on you, FIJM for being cowed by these dilettantes. You let nonsense trump freedom of expression.

  • The cast of “Slāv” was all women and diverse — Bonnafassi and 6 others.
  • Slāv is a reference to the origin of the word slave. Slavs — those living in the areas now called Eastern Europe — were regularly enslaved throughout the Middle Ages. Bonnafassi, of Serbian heritage, is sensitive to this.
  • All of us can claim some form of enslavement in our ancestors’ past. Most human cultures have enslaved others regardless of skin color.
  • No single culture or racial group owns suffering. We are all in this together.
  • Beatrice Bonnafassi drove home the issue of modern-day slavery eloquently in the show. Yes, slavery goes on just like it has for centuries. There are more people enslaved now then at any time in history.

The protestors and commentators in the media kept referring to the profits being made in theatre. They imagine the director, creator and performers all making oodles of dough off of this “appropriation”. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha … oh. my. word. Do they know anything about theater? … Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …

More:
https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/robert-lepage-breaks-his-silence-on-jazz-fest-decision-to-muzzle-slav

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-should-white-people-sing-black-slave-songs/

It was Mardi Gras, February 12, 1991. We’d gone on a “date” to Stanroy’s Music in Santa Rosa. We then wended our way back to my pad, an old farmhouse in Penngrove, California. The house was on what had once been a chicken ranch during Sonoma County’s egg production heydays in the 1920s. The living room had high ceilings, windows that faced the horse pasture in the front, oak trees on the side. The fireplace was smokey because of a poorly functioning insert. The couch was rust colored and modular — a hand me down from my oldest sister.

We had started hanging out after the Winter Solstice, talking, watching movies together, taking drives, more talking. We were falling in love but, having both had been married before, we were taking it slow, very slow.

This night, 27 years ago, after more talking and pots and pots of herbal tea, I saw bands of light reaching out from our hearts pouring into each other. We kissed and …

Of course, I wrote a song about it:

Easter is a good time to share why I wrote the tune “Magdalena’s Revenge”.

the Tune
Magadalena’s Revenge is a fast-paced tune, in 2 4, and is a kind of frailich.
Listen to a full live version on our BandCamp site.

Walking Dead
For those not familiar with christian mythology, Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ rising from the dead. There’s nothing new under the sun, even zombie stories. Christ’s rising from the dead and wandering around for 40 days is one of the great zombie stories of all time.

Mary of Magdala was the first one to see Jesus after he rose from the dead. The other disciples were afraid of the authorities and wouldn’t go to the tomb. She was bold and went. She is the one who spread the “good news” that he had risen.

In her gospel, the Gospel of Mary — yes, there are other gospels that the church fathers opted not to include in the new testament — the Magdalene describes the rising of Jesus as a kind of vision, not an actual physical body. That is, of course, more reasonable but so much less spectacular for marketing purposes than a walking, talking previously dead person. Her description of the event was undoubtedly one of the reasons that her gospel didn’t make the final cut of the new testament.

the Backstory
Back in 1995, I watched a documentary based on Susan Haskins definitive work
Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor”. I was aghast at the blatant re-writing of her life by church fathers hellbent on perpetuating male dominance in christianity. I was irked. I had to write a tune for her.

In a very small nutshell, Mary of Magdala, the Magdalene was the favorite disciple and close companion of Jesus the Nazarene. There is historical evidence that women around Jesus had equal power. This power was eventually eroded by jealous, frightened sex-obsessed, religious leaders.

The church, over a span a several hundred years morphed Mary Magdalene from the historical, empowered special associate of Jesus that she was into a repentant, deferential prostitute which fit the church’s view of women, you know, us scary sexual beings that need to be controlled.

Pope Gregory the Great, in 591, merged three women, including Mary of Magdala, from the early gospels into one person, a repentant prostitute. Vatican II, interestingly, removed the prostitute label. Don’t you just love how those church officials can write and re-write history as they please?

Revenge is sweet
I like it when the truth wins out, even if it takes centuries. After hundreds of years of distortion, the real Mary of Magdala has started to be vindicated by historians.

Lots to read here:

Spring is here!

For a while now, I’ve wanted to share how I go about analyzing a song, for example, if I want to transcribe it and arrange parts for the band. Today’s glorious weather inspired me to use our tune «Il Fait un Beau Soleil» (It’s a Sunny Day) to illustrate how to map song structure.

No worries, I am not talking music theory or composition how-tos here. I am simply sharing another way to see music.


You can listen to Il Fait un Beau Soleil for free over on our Bandcamp site. If you’re a musician, try playing along for fun.

Enjoy!

Download the “Il Fait un Beausoleil” crib notes (an easy to read chord chart) .

This is the beat map, or as I call it, the bones of the tune:
IlFait_bones