Music history regards 1982 as the year American rock band Toto achieved its greatest success. Mainstream radio saturated airwaves with Top 100 Toto hits – Roseanna, Hold the Line and Africa. You didn’t have to like Toto, I changed the station when they aired but still knew every word by heart. Toto hits were a fact of life, songs destined to occupy supermarkets and customer service hold lines 30 years later.
Fast forward to the continent of Africa, Namibia to be precise. Namibian artist Max Siedentopf recently created an ode to Africa in his nation’s desert. Seven stark white pedestals, each with a solar powered mp3 player constantly looping Toto’s Africa. Siedentopf freely admits that despite using the most durable materials available, his dream of Africa looping for all eternity could be stymied by harsh desert conditions.
As I write my neighbours’ 16 year old son loops Sex Pistols Anarchy in the U.K. at high volume. Young neighbour prompted my speakers to blare Sex Pistols in solidarity. Truth is, neighbour kid made my day.
I was 16 in October 1976 when Sex Pistols recorded Anarchy in the U.K. Sex Pistols didn’t register in rural Canada, small town AM radio played top 40 mainstream rock sprinkled with Country & Western hits. A friend’s older brother home from university introduced me to punk rock, I was transformed. Anarchy in the U.K. expanded sheltered perspectives, broadened horizons, made every neck & arm hair stand at attention.
Over 40 years later another 16 year old discovered the Sex Pistols. Different time, place and circumstance, but no less impactful. Kudos to you neighbour kid, play music as loud as you like.
In a few minutes space history will induct New Years Day 2019 into the cosmic hall of fame. At 12:33 am EST on January 1, 2019 NASA’s New Horizons probe is tasked with making the farthest close approach fly-by of a space object in human history. Ultima Thule, a tiny Kuiper Belt object no more than 30 kilometers wide is about to be buzzed by the little mission that could. Linked below, a look no more definitive guide to NASA news conferences, live fly-by viewing and mission status.
Moments ago astrophysicist, New Horizons science collaborator and Queen guitarist Brian May premiered his first solo song in twenty years – New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix), a tribute to twelve years of New Horizons and her brush with Ultima Thule.
Happy New Year.
Last week astro-photographer Adrien Mauduit filmed the first ever live concert under the Northern Lights. From the aurora borealis observatory in Senja, Norway – ponder Norwegian band Violet Road performing “Keep on Running” under aurora’s light….
Follow Adrien Mauduit at – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC0CLzCpM6nuLSAi1JNBjkA
In 2011 Toronto visionaries Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman launched Choir! Choir! Choir! Twice a week, Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto opens its doors to anyone wanting to participate in a sing-a-long. Goldman and Adilman teach arrangements for one song, then film the performance. The results are magical.
When I watch Choir! Choir! Choir! videos my heart sings in harmony.
Choir! Choir! Choir! transcends race, religion and politics. Voices of everyday people erupt in inspiring song.
In May 2016, 1,999 voices filled Toronto’s Massey Hall to remember Prince with When Doves Cry.
On October 11, 2018 Choir! Choir! Choir! gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto to mark the first anniversary of Gord Downie’s death. Led by Goldman, Adilman and surviving members of Tragically Hip, Grace, Too enveloped the night.
For those who might not know Downey, the Hip or Grace,Too – I conclude with the Tragically Hip performing Grace,Too at Woodstock 1999.
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.