Seventy two years ago today Farrokh Bulsara was born in British colonial Zanzibar. Eight year old Farrokh started calling himself Freddie when sent to a British boarding school near Bombay. At twelve Freddie formed The Hectics, a rock cover band with schoolmates. In 1964 the Zanzibar Revolution forced Freddie’s family to flee Zanzibar for England. The Bulsaras settled in Feltham, Middlesex, Freddie enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London to study art, eventually graduating from Ealing Art College with a degree in graphic design. Freddie sold second hand clothing at Kensington Market, fell in and out of bands and worked as a baggage handler at Heathrow. In 1970 he met Brian May and Roger Taylor, in 1971 John Deacon made it four. Dismissing reservations of band-mates and management company Trident, Freddie named the band Queen and officially changed his name to Freddie Mercury.
March 11, 1977 I stood front row at Pacific Colosseum in Vancouver for Queen’s Day at the Races concert. To this day the spectacle of Freddie Mercury gives me chills.
For weeks, baggage handlers at Heathrow practiced dance moves to celebrate Mercury’s birthday. Astonished travelers passing through Heathrow today were treated to a heart warming spectacle. Never mind amateur hour, this clip made my day and I hope it does yours.
For the record I don’t spend much time watching network television. That said, rare idle moments find shows like America’s Got Talent airing in the background. Why? Because the likes of 13 year old Courtney Hadwin might blow my mind. Ponder these clips. The girl is 13 years old!
Results of America’s vote aired tonight. Fear not – Courtney made it to the semi-finals.
Ponder Petunia & The Vipers –
From Petunia & The Vipers Facebook page –
“Louis Armstrong was once asked what his favorite kind of music was, and his response was simple; “Good music”. Petunia & the Vipers’ sound may not sit comfortably in one certain genre, but “Good Music” describes it well. Hank Williams on acid… Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s Hobo junction… Avant-Country night club scene music… One of the best bands in the world today, of any kind… hillbilly-flavoured-swing inflected-ragtime-goodtime-thunderously rolling-one-of-a-kind-you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-sort-of-a-show… A new music that springboards off of music of the past and jumps into the present day, left with only echoes of the past… Something in between 1920’s and steam punk. It’s good for your mind… These are just a few of the words uttered by folks around the globe trying to pin down a description of all that is Petunia & The Vipers.”
Petunia & The Vipers make me smile. Enjoy –
Three days ago rapper Childish Gambino ( Donald Glover ) posted This Is America on YouTube. 46 million views and counting later, ponder his statement on gun violence in America.
Sometimes relaxation calls for a dance party, an uninvited solo dance off delivered with welcome acuity. Relaxation is subjective, a personal matter, to each his own. Me – when time to blow off steam knocks, it’s time to dance. No better place to start than Beastie Boys Hey Ladies –
This morning Canada woke to news of a nation without Gord Downie, tonight our hearts fly at half mast.
Tears ran down Justin Trudeau’s face as he said goodbye to “Canada’s friend”. Speaking not as politician, but a man who understood and shared the collective sorrow of a nation.
Others can write biographical paragraphs detailing Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie’s life. Tonight, all I can do is watch and listen to an undeniable presence in Canadian music history. Starting softly with Ahead By A Century, then Bobcaygeon –
Eventually finding my way to Tragically Hip performing Grace, Too at Woodstock 1999. Love it, hate it, get it or don’t – know this clip epitomizes Gord Downie – poet, performer, unabashed storyteller, improvisational wizard, musical savant and embodiment of Canadian grace. Tonight Gord Downie walks among the stars, his constellation will shine for eternity.