“This kid I like right now, Jack, he’s in this band The Dough Rollers. I like this kid’s style. He’s not trying to knock you over. I like watching him.” Jack White, Rolling Stone.
The Dough Rollers take their name from a song (Dough Roller Blues) officially recorded in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee in 1930 by celebrated blues singer and guitarist Garfield Akers. The track Cottonfield Blues which Akers recorded a year earlier has often been credited with heralding the birth of rock n roll itself and when you consider that the Dough Rollers also cite “Father of the Delta Blues” musician Charley Patton as a major hero you get some idea that you’re not going to see these guys on American Idol any time soon. Which is not to say that haven’t already appeared on the David Letterman Show – because they have.
The Dough Rollers are essentially Malcolm Ford (vocals, guitar) and Jack Byrne (guitar, vocals) and their history as a band dates back to 2008 when they both bonded over a mutual appreciation for blues music. Born in Wyoming Malcolm met New York-born Jack whilst out clubbing and demanded that he give him guitar lessons. Jack duly obliged and the nascent two-piece then expanded to encompass fiddler and singer Julia Tepper. Two albums quickly followed before the band expanded to a four piece for their third long playing offering (adding bass and drums) that really made people sit up and take note. Those people included Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Queens Of The Stone Age who all took the Dough Rollers on tour and Jack White who promptly signed the band to his Third Man Records.
The Dough Rollers released Little Lily/The Sailing Song on 7” vinyl through Third Man Records before recording the five track Gone Baby Gone EP which features Gone Baby Gone, Mansion On A Hill (produced by Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme whose previous credits include much of Arctic Monkeys Humbug), Friend Of Mine, My Love and Garbage Salad (featured on Letterman).
Released in the UK for the first time on April 6th the EP is a chance to get acquainted with Ford’s wondrous whisky-tinged vocals and Byrne’s nimble fretwork and it’s also a foretaste of the band’s debut album as a four-piece, an album they are currently recording in Manhattan’s Relicroom Studio. Gone Baby Gone EP will be available via Third Man Records from April 6th 2015.
ARTIST: John Sinclair
LABEL: Iron Man Records
FORMAT: CD Double Gatefold Sleeve / Digital Release too
RELEASE DATE: 24th March 2014
FILE UNDER: Rock
Cat No: IMB6022 John Sinclair – “Mohawk” CDout now on Iron Man Records. Distribution by Cargo
Poet John Sinclair has been described as a pioneer in the counter-cultural movement that began in the 1960s. He’s been at the forefront of the underground publishing movement, he’s managed rock bands, organized concerts, and was also founder of the White Panther movement – a group of white left-wing activists united in sympathy with the radical civil rights organization, the Black Panthers. In 1969 he was imprisoned for possessing a small amount of marijuana. His plight inspired a freedom rally and concert: John Lennon even wrote a song in his honor. Today, Sinclair lives in Amsterdam and still performs regularly around the world, often to musical accompaniment. As part of our ongoing series, Works in Progress, where we talk to artists about the creative process, Maine Things Considered host Tom Porter spoke to Sinclair this afternoon, as he prepared for a performance this evening in Portland.
“I’m here to tell you that apathy isn’t it. And we can all do something if we try.” ~ John Lennon
“I just considered it part of my job. If you were gonna be a revolutionary, you were gonna have to go to prison.” ~ John Sinclair
John Sinclair is best known as the Sixties marijuana activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover policewoman. He was eventually freed when John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke out on his behalf
Less understood is his role as the founder and chairman of the radical anti-war group, The White Panther Party, an offshoot of the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was a militant political organization formed after the brutal murders of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy.
During the Cold War the US Government launched a secret program called COINTELPRO to disrupt and ultimately destroy the Black Panthers and the Anti-War movement. As part of this program, John Sinclair was set up and imprisoned on marijuana charges. When the government could no longer justify denying him a bond over two joints, they falsely charged him with a Federal conspiracy to blow up a CIA station, in order to make him disappear.
In this case we find the secret origins of so much that troubles us today, like: classifying dissidents as terrorists, or the use of warrantless wiretaps and indefinite detention. The things that were revealed during his case are what the US government would prefer history forget.
a short film by CHARLES SHAW, featuring JOHN SINCLAIR. Music by Thelonius Monk, Roy Harper & Jimmy Page, Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon, Phil Ochs, Frijid Pink, Commander Cody, The Up.
Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval.
In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit’s inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America.
With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5.
Following the awesome appearance of 1960s icon, poet and political jailbird John Sinclair on Madam Miaow’s Culture Lounge at Resonance FM, I’m posting the video I took of John when he played at Café Oto a few years back. He performs Twenty One Days In Jail, accompanied by Gary Lammin on guitar, Martin Stacey on bass, Jim Jones on piano, and Paul Ronnie on harmonica.
On December 10, 1971 – 42 long years ago – I was serving the 3rd year of a 9-1/2-to-10-year sentence for possession of two joints of marijuana, and people in Ann Arbor, Michigan staged a gigantic concert on my behalf that drew almost 15,000 people to demand my release and enjoy music & speeches by The Up, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Bob Seger, Fr. James Groppi, Teegardin & Van Winkle, Bobby Seale, Phil Ochs, Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, CJQ, Leni & Sunny Sinclair, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, Elsie Sinclair, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Rubin, David Peel & The Lower East Side, and John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band. Tonight’s program in celebration of this happy event which resulted in my release from prison three days later, on December 13, 1971, is edited from the soundtrack to Steve Gebhardt’s documentary film of the event called TEN FOR TWO: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally and was assembled at the Blackheath Studios of The Fuck You Sound.
John Sinclair: “Gary Grimshaw was a great creative artist who helped define the spirit and feeling of an entire era with his brilliant posters for the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, his artwork for underground newspapers like the Detroit Sun, the Fifth Estate and the San Francisco Oracle, and his posters and record covers for the MC-5 and other bands. “He was a music lover first and foremost, best friends in high school with Rob Tyner of the MC5, a beautiful cat and the most tireless and dedicated art worker I’ve ever known. We were partners in crime at the Grande Ballroom and the Detroit Artists Workshop, we founded Trans-Love Energies and the White Panther Party together, we worked side by side for several years while he beautifully interpreted all my ideas for cultural and social change into public artwork that could make people want to do things they’d never done before….
Nobody could ever accuse John Sinclair of not doing his own thing. The Detroit-born poet and activist has been defying The Man since the mid-sixties: running countercultural magazines, founding anti-racist political movements and managing the MC5, one of the most mindblowing musical acts to come out of America in the psychedelic era. He was also sentenced to ten years imprisonment for a seemingly minor drug infringement, but was released with the help of John Lennon (who wrote a song about his plight), Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman, amongst others. More recently Sinclair has combined his love of the history of jazz with his considerable talent as a performance poet and storyteller to produce a surprisingly extensive body of work, mostly in the form of spoken word releases, often backed by his band the Blues Scholars. For his latest release, Mohawk, he has pillaged his own past, collecting 10 poems written over the last twenty-plus years and giving them a thoroughly modern shakedown
John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary released his new album on 24th March 2014 on Iron Man Records. John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today, is still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. His new record features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Twenty poems planted firmly in a single-shot session, and carefully trimmed down to ten exhibits for this album. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together. First conceived of in Detroit City, spring 1982, and developed throughout the 1980s with streaks of fresh edits leading right up to the session itself, John navigates some of these texts for the first time in over twenty years, free-styling his energized sincerity and attention to every word, transforming the text on the page into his unique unmistakable spoken word…..
Before John Sinclair founded the White Panthers, managed the MC5 and did time for giving an undercover cop two joints as a Christmas present, he read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as a junior in high school — and he says his life started. Sinclair will be at the Mercury Cafe on Friday, February 7 as part of the Neal Cassady Birthday Bash, reading poetry and performing with the Blues Scholars. In advance of that event, we spoke with Sinclair about On the Road, poetry and reefer, since he’s been a weed activist for five decades.
“My life started when I read On the Road, by Jack Kerouac,” says John Sinclair, a poet, activist, former MC5 manager and White Panther Party founder. “It came out in September of 1957. I was a junior in high school. It set me on the correct path of life. I’ve followed that path ever since.” Kerouac cohort Neal Cassady, who was raised on the streets of Denver and died in 1968, is featured prominently in On the Road, as protagonist Dean Moriarty. Cassady would have been 88 years old this weekend, and will be remembered at the fifth annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash, which kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Sinclair, who was inspired by Kerouac’s approaching writing the way a jazz musician improvises, will be reading poetry with the Blues Scholars at the event along with other friends of Cassady and Kerouac; a jazz group led by Beat legend David Amram, featuring local musicians such as trumpeter Hugh Ragin, drummer Tony Black and bassist Artie Moorie
Mohawk is the previous MC5 manager and beatnik-poet’s umpteenth album of jazzy gravel-voiced verbiage and mighty fine it is too. Billed as a homage to the life and times, wit and wisdom of perhaps jazz-music’s finest players – Dizzy, Bird and in particular Monk, in case you were curious – Mohawk features Sinclair drawling out his passionate observations and energetic lyricisms on top of Stourbridge mixmaster Steve The Fly’s deft brushwork, turntable gymnastics and be-bop bounce, all engineered sweetly by Dutch wizard Tim Egmond – a good job all round.
On the Monday following the Watergate break-in, the Supreme Court decided U.S. vs. U.S. District Court (Keith) ex rel Sinclair, which struck down the Nixon/Mitchell program of warrantless domestic political wiretapping. The aftermath, leading to Nixon’s resignation, revealed the ugliness of the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign to disrupt the civil rights, black liberation, anti-war, youth, women, environmental, LGBT and other social justice movements that exploded in the 1960s. That led to the Church Commission, which recommended various checks on the FBI’s power to disrupt political dissent and the creation of Foreign Intelligence Security (FISA) Court, which is today the subject of great controversy in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the massive data mining and surveillance of U.S. citizens and their communications (not to mention that of the rest of the world). Particularly since 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, progressives and civil libertarians have protested…
I was sent a freebie CD of John Sinclair’s newest spoken-word disc, Mohawk, courtesy of my pal and fellow M.L.A.-alumnus, Fly Agaric (or Steve Pratt, to his folks) and the good people at Iron Man Records. Going by the title, and groovy cover art (by digital artist Chu – the “Mohawk” cover seems a clever post-techno hommage to Thelonius Monk‘s “Underground” album cover) – I reckoned the ‘theme’ would be one about the punk explosion in the 1970s and beyond. You see, Sinclair, for those not familiar with him, was the manager of the legendary MC5, the Detroit psychedelic rock band in their glory days. Sinclair got the ’5 into radical politics via his own “White Panther Party“, a kind of more trippy version of the Black Panthers. The White Panthers weren’t really into setting up a state to replace the old one, they were more into free dope, fucking in the streets and just generally having a good time. Eventually, John and the MC5 parted ways. As a result of a drug bust…..
He was the fearless Detroit protopunk who terrified America with his band the MC5 – and saw busts and jail as all part of a revolutionary’s lot. So what’s John Sinclair doing today? Writing jazz poetry in Amsterdam and releasing his new album called Mohawk on Iron Man Records, an independent record label based in Birmingham…..
Sean O’Hagan of the London-based Guardian meets John Sinclair in a canalside coffee shop in Amsterdam, “where the vibes are mellow, the air perfumed, and the soundtrack a stream of vintage rock songs of the more laidback kind.” Sinclair, 72, “seems utterly relaxed, an ageing hippy blissfully at home in a city that still retains some of the libertarian values he fought so hard for – a fight that cost him his liberty at the tail end of the 1960s.” It is, however, a long way – literally and metaphorically – from Detroit, the city where Sinclair made his name, and that of the rock group he managed, the MC5, in the most dramatic fashion. Almost 50 years after those culturally heady and politically tumultuous days, when he found himself at the heart of the race riots that raged through Detroit, the 72-year-old now keeps the freak flag flying as best he can in a world that has become more liberal, and paradoxically more conservative, than his younger self could ever have imagined.
John Sinclair – legend! He was the 60s in a nutshell: cultural revolutionary, manager of the MC5, founder of the White Panther Party, subject of a John Lennon protest song after being imprisoned on drugs offences (part of The Man’s crushing of anything countercultural), poet, broadcaster on Radio Free Amsterdam – but he was really a child of the 50s. His great book Guitar Army includes dedications to people like Coltrane, Ayler, Dolphy and Kerouac, and those influences are still reflected in Mohawk, essential a 50s-tributing beatnik jazz record. As ‘Carolina Moon’ explains, it was conceived in 1982 after hearing of the death of Thelonius Monk, and recorded in Amsterdam much more recently. Sinclair’s spoken word lyrics are meditations on Monk and lots of other jazz sessions from the 50s, “when Bird, and Diz and Monk made it all happen” (‘Bloomdido’) set to louche be-bop backing from Steve The Fly
Released on 24th March 2014 John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today, is still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. His new record features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Twenty poems planted firmly in a single-shot session, and carefully trimmed down to ten exhibits for this album. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together. First conceived of in Detroit City, spring 1982, and developed throughout the 1980s with streaks of fresh edits leading right up to the session itself, John navigates some of these texts for the first time in over twenty years, free-styling his energized sincerity and attention to every word, transforming the text on the page into his unique unmistakable spoken word. The music was written and arranged by Steve Fly who mirrored John’s poems in the music…..
John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases his new album called “Mohawk,” on Iron Man Records, on Monday 24th March 2014 with distribution by Cargo. The music was written and arranged by Steve Fly who mirrored John’s poems in the music by initially combing the tempo of the original songs recorded by John ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Thelonious Monk. Steve The Fly is a native of Stourbridge UK, now an Amsterdam resident who plays drums, spins vinyl, writes novels and literary and cultural commentary. He also maintains a flock of websites and works in various other art forms without visible restraint. His other music projects have included New Flesh, Garaj Mahal, Temple Dragon band, of course he is now full time with John Sinclair. CHU, also a native of Stourbridge UK, has made a fantastic video showing how he put the John Sinclair – Mohawk CD sleeve art together. It’s really worth a look. Watch it here: http://youtu.be/20RFyhTfs7U
John Sinclair – “Mohawk” CD Released Monday 24th March 2014 by Iron Man Records, Birmingham. John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases his new album on Monday 24th March 2014. John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960′s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today, is still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. His new record features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Twenty poems planted firmly in a single-shot session, and carefully trimmed down to ten exhibits for this album. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together. First conceived of in Detroit City, spring 1982, and developed throughout the 1980s with streaks of fresh edits leading right up to the session itself, John navigates some of these texts for the first time in over twenty years, free-styling his energized sincerity and attention to every word…
Mohawk is the previous MC5 manager and beatnik-poet’s umpteenth album of jazzy gravel-voiced verbiage and mighty fine it is too. Billed as a homage to the life and times, wit and wisdom of perhaps jazz-music’s finest players – Dizzy, Bird and in particular Monk, in case you were curious – Mohawk features Sinclair drawling out his passionate observations and energetic lyricisms on top of Stourbridge mixmaster Steve The Fly’s deft brushwork, turntable gymnastics and be-bop bounce, all engineered sweetly by Dutch wizard Tim Egmond – a good job all round. It’s one busy, ‘dizzy’ little ride that’s best taken in one hit, rather than hopping and skipping through the tracks. Most of the free-styling odes fall short of three minutes, making the title-track, Straight No Chaser and Leap Frog and the like, easy-to-swallow chunks of hip story-telling that actually date back to the ’80s in a few cases. Straight No Chaser has some tight back-winding and scratching going on and is an album highlight.
“The rest of the music industry was controlled by the Illuminati, the book explained, which was how they were able to incorporate the anti-JAMS slogan ‘Kick out the Jams, motherfucker!’ into MC5 records.” – John Higgs, Illuminations and Illuminatus, The KLF, pg 48. Sean O’Hagen of the Guardian newspaper flew out to meet John and I in Amsterdam. Read his article here.
Sinclair croaks his way through a short narrative over a free jazz backing on the title track that starts the album off. He plays it perfectly, an elder statesman of hip, oozing grizzled late-night coffee house cool. ‘Straight No Chaser’ is everything the title suggests, and Sinclair’s nicely warming to his theme. ‘Leap Frog’ is a real wig-out, and the music vibes well with the first-hand recollections of the legendary era of the true jazz greats. Namedropping Dizzy and Monk, Sinclair was there, at the heart of it, as it happened. The way he tells it… yeah, good times, good times. Swingin’ times. Electric times, a musical revolution was happening. ‘Bloomdido’ sees Sinclair getting excited as he recounts the way Bird and Monk transformed the musical landscape in the clubs of Harlem, painting a vivid picture of how these cats made everything bloom, great big flowers around New York…. He reminisces about the birth of be-bop of ‘An Oscar for Treadwell’. ‘This is the shit!’ he cries…..
In Ken Burns’ 1994 documentary “Baseball,” writer and essayist Gerald Early said, “When they study our civilization two thousand years from now, there will only be three things that Americans will be known for: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music.” With that in mind, I write enthusiastically of “Mohawk,” a new spoken-word release from renegade poet John Sinclair (who also once managed the iconic rock band MC5) because it celebrates a part of the history of an American art form — some say the only true American art form — that is all too often forgotten by our culture in this day and age. Opening track “Mohawk” expresses Sinclair’s passion for the be-bop revolution well when he says “Bird,” “Monk” and “Dizzy” were “building a new music on the bones of the old … with a whole new structure of sound … breathing life of its own, like nothing that had ever existed before.” On tracks such as “Bloomdido” and “An Oscar for Treadwell,” Sinclair waxes ecstatic with pure enthusiasm….
Counter culture icon, beat poet and manager of the MC5 John Sinclair chats about his new album Mohawk on Iron Man Records, a tribute to the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Plus ‘outsider musician’ Daniel Johnston talks about what it’s like being an underground artist and Stuart’s featured album is an under-appreciated classic of mid-90s trance from The Black Dog.
“Man, I worshipped those guys as gods when I was young,” John Sinclair told the Guardian earlier this month, over a joint. “Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders. That’s where I was coming from, not rock or folk.” Which is why, for his album Mohawk, he has set his poetry to jazz – there’s no sign here of the hard rock of the band he famously managed, the MC5. But don’t think the revolutionary flame has dimmed. As he also told the Guardian: “All I know is that if you want things to change, you have to work to make them change. And sometimes, you have to be prepared to go to jail or have your head cracked open. Far as I can see, that’s still the case. Look at Pussy Riot. They are the first kick-ass revolutionary group since the MC5. They don’t want a record contract, they don’t want their own fragrance, they want to overthrow the goddam Russian government. Yes!” Have a listen to Mohawk, and let us know what you think.
Some months ago, Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt wrote me and asked if I’d pen a press release for the new album he did with John Sinclair, the famous countercultural icon. I said sure. I asked Steve to send me some quotes. I didn’t hear back. I forgot to remind him. Time passed, and I got busy with other stuff, and the album was released. So Steve, sorry the press release didn’t get written, how about a blog post at my blog? Here is the official press release on the album, which features Steve’s music and Sinclair’s words. The Guardian article is here. It links to a stream of the album.
Mohawk, John and Sinclair. This began as a replica of Thelonius Monk’s 1968 album sleeve for ‘Underground’. The art direction won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package the following year, so it obviously ruffled a few feathers…..
It’s hard to like a hippie. That’s true. Still, it doesn’t mean hippies can’t do good work, right? John Sinclair was once the manager of the magnificent, world-spinning MC5. He was arrested countless times as he fought as part of the counter-culture of the ‘60s (though he was apprehended, of course, for possession of marijuana rather than civil unrest) and was sentenced to a decade in prison for giving a pair of joints to FBI agents – a term of which he served only two years following the intervention of some of his famous allies. He was a friend of Lennon (who wrote a song about him), a tireless protester, a man who always seemed to find himself at the epicentre of cultural and social action. Yet Sinclair is, all of that aside, a poet and what we get though on this album is something gentle, something beatific – his love of early/mid 20th century jazz, expressed through spoken word. This love is no surprise – he was an early and vocal fan of the free jazz movement…..
Released on the 24th of March 2014, ‘Mohawk’ is John Sinclair’s latest album. Depicting his musical attributes and his radical attitudes, Sinclair presents a truly authentic collection of his work. The generalised description as a ‘72 year old jazz poet’ simply does not offer his figure justice. ‘Mohawk’ is not merely another notch in his musical bedpost, but a direct manifestation of his talent, knowledge and his political stand. His career is proof that passion and persistence in one’s beliefs can move people towards revolution. Defying the cultural practice of the 21st century music industry, which predominantly aims to create audible satisfaction for a particular audience, Sinclair aims to stir political stances in all of his work. Sinclair is an advocate for the power of music and is an individual whose goals go beyond winning media popularity or reaping the perks of fame.
John Sinclair, man of many accolades, releases new album that draws upon work conceived in the 80′s with production from Steve Fly. Mohawk feels personal, reflective and assertive, a long developed and creative record, that has been visualised through Walsall born artist Chu. Chu talks through the conceptualisation and formation of the artwork in his blog, referencing his influences as be-bop, John’s Detroit roots, and motifs of rebellion, activism and cannabis culture. It does capture the instrumental virtuosity of the record, and in its details mirrors Sinclair’s politically charged and self reflective poetry. Worth looking at the processes he uses to realise the 3D design.
Poet, writer and former 60’s far left counterculture leader John Sinclair speaks to John Clarkson about his ever controversial views on drug culture, his new blues album ‘Mohawk’ on Birmingham’s Iron Man Records and managing influential Detroit-based 60’s band, the MC5
It’s Friday May 23, the day after the centenary of Sun Ra’s birth, and I’m sat around a table in a pub in north London with John Sinclair, Thurston Moore and Paul Smith, founder of the Blast First record label. As David Stubbs’ excellent Sun Ra piece which appeared on the Quietus on the day of Ra’s birthday last Thursday has rendered an introduction to the man and his music unnecessary, I intend to keep this opening paragraph short so as to reproduce the interview as fully as space permits. Thurston Moore himself needs little introduction, as he is well known for both his work with the seminal New York band Sonic Youth and innumerable other projects as he is known as a champion of underground music, film and art in all its forms. For those interested in further listening, his Top Ten Free Jazz Underground list is essential reading. John Sinclair similarly needs little introduction…..
From the 1995 retrospective of the pioneering ’70’s Detroit rock band, The Up – Killer Up! – this bonus cut – “Prayer For John Sinclair”, an agit-prop chant by Allen Ginsberg It’s 1971 and John Sinclair (“Ten for Two” – ten years for two joints!) is, most definitely, a political prisoner. So hear him (Allen) intone: “Trick or treat. Year after year. Literary persons, Ed Sanders, Robert Creeley, myself organization, the American chapter of PEN Club representing one thousand one hundred writers have petitioned the state of Michigan for release of poet-musician John Sinclair from entrapment by police courts jails – nine-and-a-half to ten years sentence – no appeal – bail – fully maximum-security – for two-joint bust. This case articulates the bankrupcy of middle-class law and order – work within the system rationalizations of irrational public injustice. No lawmaker, judge or policeman in Michigan can argue their own respectability while their state bureaucracy conspires to outrage..
DETROIT – This is the story of a woman, her camera and the thousands of moments she’s captured. Sitting down with Leni Sinclair inside her Detroit home, she showed me thousands of negatives of her photographs that hold a lot of history. “I came to Detroit in 1959 and brought with me a little camera and I’ve been taking pictures ever since,” Sinclair said. She has taken some of the most iconic images of the Detroit rock scene – and you’re probably familiar with her work and not even know it. Sinclair has photographed so many iconic artists such as the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger, Marvin Gaye, Alice Cooper and John Lee Hooker.
Produced by Steve Gebhardt & John Sinclair – A Musicus Production with Big Chief Productions – Executive Producer: Robert A. Johnson With appearances by John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, MC-5, Up, Ed Sanders, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, Ed Moss, Andre Williams, Bo Dollis and Cyril Neville. Original 16mm footage from the 1960s and ’70s by Leni Sinclair. Graphic design by Gary Grimshaw. Music supervision by John Sinclair. Edited by Tom Hayes. Directed by Steve Gebhardt. 20 TO LIFE Begun in 1991 and completed in 2007, 20 TO LIFE is the real-life story of this legendary poet-provocateur and American cultural warrior whose exploits have reverberated throughout the international underground for 40 years. The story is told by Sinclair, his family, friends and associates through the years and highlighted by a series of electrifying poetry performances by Sinclair’s contemporary blues and jazz ensembles.
Oregon voters are pretty savvy on a lot of issues; Oregon is a one-party state; money still exercises a lot of speech in Oregon – and “Follow the Money” remains the best political advice; New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana, Carl Hiaasen’s Florida…aren’t the only states with political soap operas and dubious ethics… One cannot lead off about Oregon Election 2014 with anything other than the End of Prohibition (again). Oregon voters passed Measure 91; joining voters in the District of Columbia in legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana use (the tax is fixed at $35 an ounce with local entities not allowed to tax it – only the state); coming together with Washington and Colorado as Free States that have seen the light…with many more to come. Whew. It’s been a long haul. It was the fourth try here. Pretty much the sole opposition came from the Oregon Sheriffs and the State Prosecuting Attorneys, who financed the No on Measure 91 campaign.
Television Blues episode 1, with features & music from Trampolene, Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band, Alan McGee, Nev Cottee & John Sinclair. Thanks to Tony Linkin, Matt Lockett at shacknet.co.uk, John Read & Matt Bristow at Cherry Red, Sean Newsham, Mark Sampson at Iron Man Records, Chu, Jon Mojo Mills & The Briton’s Protection pub in Manchester. John Sinclair 360 degree artwork c/o Chu at schudio.co.uk/blog.
Political activist, poet, MC5 manager, and leader of the White Panther Party: Detroit’s original rebel reflects on his lengthy career. John Sinclair has always been a poster child for what he calls “outness and defiance and all that kind of shit.” While acting as the manager of iconoclastic rock group MC5, his political collective the White Panther party worked to support the civil rights movement with free concerts and political rallies in 1960s era Detroit. After he was imprisoned in 1969 for giving two joints to an undercover officer, artists including John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Stevie Wonder performed and spoke at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 1971, which saw him successfully released three days later. The resulting changes in the state marijuana laws contributed to his cred as a lifelong marijuana activist. In 1992 he formed his band The Blues Scholars in New Orleans, which allowed him to set his radical poetry to music, and in 2014 released the album Mohawk…
“C’est pas mon boulot de parler de moi, iI y a ce truc appelé Google pour ça”, déclarait lors de notre entrevue le provocateur John Sinclair en évoquant les questions perpétuelles des journalistes sur son passé. Avant de vous parler de l’album de jazz ‘Mohawk’ qu’il vient de sortir chez Iron Man Records, nous allons donc brièvement vous parler de ce que nous avait appris Google à son sujet ! Rencontrer John Sinclair, c’est un peu rencontrer une légende vivante qui, contrairement aux nombreux grands personnages qu’il a côtoyés, a survécu. Originaire de Detroit aux États-Unis, Sinclair est impliqué dès les années 1960 dans le milieu underground alors dominé par un mouvement artistique et pacifique sous fond d’émancipation, inédit à ce jour, dans la veine de ce qu’avaient déjà initié les beatniks. Il participe ainsi à la création de plusieurs journaux alternatifs, le plus connu étant Fifth Estate. Poète déjà célèbre (il lit à la Berkeley Poetry Conference en 1965 au sein d’un cercle…..
John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary released his latest album in March 2014. John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today, is still kicking with both feet on his trajectory for cultural transformation. His record features ten tracks from his book of verse: always know: a book of monk. Twenty poems planted firmly in a single-shot session, and carefully trimmed down to ten exhibits for this album. Beatnik poems, great odes and personal reflections of the Be-Bop jazz persuasion, all flowering together.
First conceived of in Detroit City, spring 1982, and developed throughout the 1980s with streaks of fresh edits leading right up to the session itself, John navigates some of these texts for the first time in over twenty years, free-styling his energized sincerity and attention to every word, transforming the text on the page into his unique unmistakable spoken word.
The music was written and arranged by Steve Fly who mirrored John’s poems in the music by initially combing the tempo of the original songs recorded by John ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Thelonious Monk.
Steve The Fly is a native of Stourbridge UK, now an Amsterdam resident who plays drums, spins vinyl, writes novels and literary and cultural commentary. He also maintains a flock of websites and works in various other art forms without visible restraint. His other music projects have included New Flesh, Garaj Mahal, Temple Dragon band, of course he is now full time with John Sinclair.
These songs are further utilized by John’s poetic method so that each title and the rhythm of his poetry can piggy-back upon the same song title, and rhythm, of an original composition set in history, for extra rooting. Steve put down drums, turntables, cello-bass, flute, and glockenspiel, shooting to play around the vocal lead lines and diverse expressions from John.
“to take the hair off the sides of the head
& leave just a strip along the top, scalping pretense for the baldness of statement
building a new music on the bones of the old“
— John Sinclair from the title track “Mohawk”
The album was recorded diligently by Tim Egmond at Ei Studios, Amsterdam and passed along to Simon Reeves at Framework Studios, Birmingham for mastering.
Tim Egmond is a music producer, engineer and studio whizz, based in Amsterdam, who has worked with scores of international and locally based artists on a wide variety of projects.
Simon Reeves has completed many projects for Iron Man Records already and he has been described as one of Birmingham’s finest independent studio engineers who has worked with bands from Napalm Death to Police Bastard, and a host of other brutal metal and punk bands.
All artwork was cradled and visualized by the post-industrial imagination of CHU; The Black Country, tech savvy, rule-breaking, progressive wordsmith and thinker – an ardent advocate of aerosol painting and its vanguard for over 30 years with global public works and murals, 3D perspective illusions and many group shows, under his Walsall leather belt. CHU’s work has included projects with Banksy and Jamie Hewlett among many others, and he has been described as the ‘Escher of UK street art’ and founder of Graffiti Bastards.
The album is released by Birmingham based Iron Man Records whose releases have included The Nightingales, Howard Marks, P.A.I.N (Propaganda And Information Network), and Police Bastard, amongst others.
The album is beautifully packaged in a double gatefold cd wallet with artwork by CHU in full colour and a ten page booklet. Mohawk illustrates the kind of care and attention a John Sinclair record deserves. After all, he kinda helped start this underground art explosion.