A Scenic Vieux

29 01 2007

Vieux Farka Toure

By Jill Ettinger

In Jan Fabre’s stunning performance Je Suis Sang (“I am Blood”), he explores the perpetuation of existence, examining the continuous dispersion of bodily fluids as blood rewrites itself into endless new identities. Distilling our hemocytes down through a comical and sinister journey, he traces each of us back to a unified entry point into consciousness. Though his investigation is often absurd, gruesome and shocking, it nonetheless makes its very simple point: two things in life are certain, and they may in fact be the same: we will all die and we will exceed limits.

Whatever it is about music that moves us is perhaps not as significant as the fact that it has this effect on us to begin with. Every culture on Earth figured out music before most anything else, and we share it, like food, for the sustenance it provides. As I write this, Bob Marley is singing through my speakers. Though I never met the man, I relate to him as he tells his story. “Every man thinketh his burden is the heaviest. Ya still mean it: Who feels it knows it, Lord, Who feels it knows it, Lord.” Music, in whatever tongue, is a language all its own. We become as much a part of it, as it becomes a part of us, transcending the limitations of thought and feeling. Music is simply, magic.

Malian artist Vieux Farka Toure comes to NYC this Friday for his first U.S. performance at Pacha. Produced by InnerContinental’s own Derek Beres, the late Ali Farka Toure’s son is gearing up for a stellar event under the auspice of the second full moon of the year. What I find most significant about this event is the tricep formation Derek and Modiba Records have put together. You’ve got a legacy in the bluesy sounds of Toure (see him at Joe’s Pub for solo sets next week), a sizable portion of proceeds from this record set aside for Malian families in malaria prevention, and then a remix element. Half a dozen artists will be on site performing their versions from Toure’s self-titled debut. Inspiration a timely theme I find worthy of elaboration.

A comment grabbed me the other day as a friend recounted a story about himself and a friend, “we are karmically connected,” he said. The notion transported me back to my yoga teacher training and the resident Swami’s daily philosophy lectures that often revolved around the topic of karma. Karma being that “unfinished business” that comes with us into this realm, maybe lifetimes in the making, and also “what goes around comes around” type of instant retribution. The Swami said that everyone we even so much as walk past on the street is karmically related to us. We are all here together for reasons – like Fabre points out – our blood made of the same stardust.

Our world is indeed shrinking forward – karmas often becoming humbly indistinguishable. We are facing more and more challenges and guaranteed to exceed even more limits, change the constant unknown. Like Dickens observed in 1859’s A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 2007 is a world deep in the throws of selfish preservation, war and capitalism, the irreversible effects beginning to be felt while simultaneously we are reaching forward in earnest connection toward revolutionary solutions, where seeing eye-to-eye is a secondary reconciliation to seeing heart-to-heart.

Indeed, seeing from our hearts, no random ability – the blood that connects us pumping through this sacred chamber. A portrait of the world perfect, if it exists anywhere, is most definitely visible in the heart. So we posit this image through the creative constructs of our collective efforts as they come to us, and perhaps nothing more crucial to our world family than music – the heartsong.

The definition of remix is to produce a new version of a piece of music. (I love the way we refer to musical selections as “a piece,” implying it as part of a larger whole.) Drawing inspiration from something/someone else and making it our own is a serious reflection. If ever there was a road to human compassion and understanding, it is through these types of reflections. The weaving of our versions of each other back and forth through time opens doors to hearts, to histories and futures together while war and dispassion towards one another cuts off that opportunity in fearful isolation.

If Friday night with Toure and the crew of artists is going to accomplish anything, I can guarantee you this: it will surely exceed limits. Like Marley puts it in one of my favorites, “If you listen carefully now, you will hear.” Come, and listen.

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3 responses

16 02 2007
Antibush

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

17 02 2007
jill ettinger

yeh strange times. anna nicole’s death takes main stage in the media, while Bush is trying to sweep more money and innocent soldiers into Iraq. And though I agree that Bush is whack, we do control our choices, we’re as blind as we want to be…ignorance is bliss.

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