Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Them Changes"

Bumped--because Buddy and Aunty Genoa deserve their own post, free and clear of Buckley's patrician bullshit:

Buddy Miles is gone too. Let's just say that the 18:00 minutes of his playing on Hendrix's "Machine Gun" from Band of Gypsies is a more accurate, compassionate, incisive, eloquent, damning, and beautiful indictment of war than any apologia Buckley ever wrote. He was the funkiest drummer Jimi ever had, and, that night at the Fillmore on New Year's Eve 1969, he let Hendrix go places, and go back to places, he never reached again.

Jesus. Aunty Genoa too. I never really knew much about Hawai'ian music, though I had admired 78-collecting friends who really did, and of course I was aware of the music's impact upon Delta blues (via demonstration records of Hawai'ian slide and slack-key guitar included with mail-ordered phonographs in Mississippi and Alabama), but that changed the first time I went to the Islands, for an ethnomusicology conference. That was a weird trip, starting with a horrific flight out of LA (don't ever fly on ATA!) during which I was asked to take charge of the cabin-crew's attempts to subdue a violent passenger (don't ever fly on ATA!) about 45 minutes out over the Pacific (don't ever fly on ATA!) and eventually had to punch the person's lights out (don't ever fly on ATA!).

But the closing banquet's entertainment included Genoa Leilani Keawe and her entire family--about five generations of singers, players, and dancers onstage at the same time, the kids in belly-button jeans and sideways Raiders caps dancing the hula and Aunty Genoa singing and playing guitar. In that place, on that hot, humid evening in October, with the sun going down over the ocean across which the next landfall was Japan, they sounded like angels. Afterwards, I was introduced to her, and it was a privilege to shake her hand.

The heavenly choir just got a lot sweeter, and lot funkier, with Buddy and Aunty Genoa in the band.

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