April 7, 2005

Mixtape Friday: Kweli makes friends with Day
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

It gives me the giggles to think about how awkward it's going to be backstage at tomorrow night's spring concert at Boston College.

What will Talib Kweli, Howie Day, and Robert Randolph chat about before the show? Where will the UGBC put them? In the guys' locker room, sitting on the benches like it was halftime with the basketball team waiting for a pep talk from Al Skinner?

I don't know how this happens, but the UGBC consistently brings quality underground hip-hop to Boston College. There is definitely a supply and demand problem here, because I know not everyone at BC was as excited as I was to see The Roots, Common, and Nappy Roots.

We even had Vanilla Ice in the Rat, which was to this day, the most hilarious concert I've ever been to. "Go ninja, go ninja, go!"


Talib Kweli - "Put It In The Air"
Kweli complains on this track that "half these motherfuckas can't pronounce my name." At BC, Kweli will likely find that more than half the students don't even know his name, but one can hope he'll earn new fans with a good live performance.

Kweli made his debut with Mos Def on Black Star, their classic collaboration from Ruckus Records in 1998. Every hip-hop fan has this album, and everyone else should at least download "Re: DEFinition" and "K.O.S. (Determination)."

From there Kweli collaborated with DJ Hi-Tek for 2000's Reflection Eternal, featuring "The Blast" and "Down for the Count." In 2002 Kweli finally released Quality, his aptly titled debut solo album, which features a hilarious introduction from Dave Chappele. With "Get By" Kweli enjoyed his first major mainstream hit single, with a little help from the production of Kanye West and a soulful sample from Nina Simone's "Sinnerman."


Robert Randolph "Tears of Joy"
Pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph and his Family Band know how to throw a party. It's easier to find recordings of his live shows than it is to find his studio albums, which tells you something about Randolph as a performer. Randolph plays the dirty blues like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, but there isn't a good word to describe his sound, so I'll invent one: funkbluesadelic.

Howie Day - "?"
Howie Day is ... umm? Honestly I don't know anything about Day beyond what I might guess from looking at his picture: Pretty boy with sweet, sometimes sad songs about sensitive issues. Rolling Stone describes him as "emotionally naked." I don't know how I feel about that, but I look forward to becoming a fan of his, because live shows are the best way to fall in love with a new musician. Hopefully BC students will come with an open mind and learn to like the performers they don't know yet.
Don't call it a comeback, Jeffreys' been in Europe for years
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

When Garland Jeffreys decided to take some time off from his epic music career during the '90s, it was for all the right reasons: He was staying at home to help raise his young daughter with his wife. Now he's ready for a comeback and the music world needs him more than ever.

In fact, maybe it's just America that needs him, because the rest of the world has been enjoying Jeffreys' eclectic mix of rock, reggae, and soul for decades. Though he remains popular in Europe, most in America don't know his name.

There are a few exceptions - Bruce Springstein and Lou Reed are fans, friends, and occasional collaborators of Jeffreys. His music began with a distinct New York classic rock sound in the '70s and incorporated more soul, reggae and Latin music in the middle of his career.

For Jeffreys, these styles didn't come from outside influences, but from incorporating his own history into his music. Jeffreys is as diverse as his sound, growing up in a multi-racial family, part black, part white, part Puerto Rican, and part Native American. His lyrical content, like his musical style, reflects his diverse background.

Maybe now, 33 years after his self-titled debut album and 13 years since his last American release, Jeffreys is finally about to get the exposure his music deserves since recently signing with Universal.

Jeffreys, a true Rock 'n' Roll Adult (to use the title of his 1982 album) is busier than ever. He's out on a celebratory tour, which brings him back to Boston for the first time in 15 years. Jeffreys will perform in Somerville tomorrow night at Johnny D's Uptown with his full eight-piece band, The Coney Island Playboys.

Unfortunately, none of Jeffreys music from the '70s and '80s has been reissued on CD, other than his Wild in the Streets: Best of 1977-1983. This compilation features his reggae groove on "I May Not Be Your Kind," his exploration of interracial relationships.

Now 61 years old, but well-rested from his recent sabbatical, Jeffreys is ready to make a splash in a music scene long after most of his peers - Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, and James Taylor - are getting ready for retirement.

Before it became a gimmick for Jay-Z and Linkin Park, mixing styles came naturally for Jeffreys. His body of work is diverse and expansive enough that any music fan will find something to fit their taste and his live show tomorrow promises to be a blast.

Don't miss Jeffreys tomorrow night or you might have to wait another 15 years for the next show.