RIP: Johnny Otis, R&B pioneer, bandleader, and disc jockey

RIP: Johnny Otis, R&B pioneer, bandleader, and disc jockey

From the Los Angeles Times:

Pioneering rhythm-and-blues singer, songwriter, drummer, bandleader and disc jockey Johnny Otis made the kind of conscious life choice early on that few people have the inclination, or circumstance, to carry out.

Born white, the son of Greek immigrant parents, and raised in a predominantly black neighborhood in Northern California in the 1920s, Otis decided as a youth that he’d rather be black.

The choice put him on a path to a life in music during which he created the sensually pulsing 1958 hit “Willie and the Hand Jive.” It also gave him a deep connection to black culture that helped him discover such future stars of R&B and rock as Etta James, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard and Little Esther Phillips.


“Today’s musicians are better technically,” Otis said in 1979, “but that’s not a virtue in itself. What’s important is the emotional impact…. Most rock or disco today doesn’t stir up anything in my heart — not the way a Picasso does, not the way the blues or gospel does.”

• Johnny Otis:

Bruce Springsteen announces new album Wrecking Ball, and we’ve got an EXCLUSIVE EXPERIMENTAL TRACK

Consequence of Sound reports that — according to those nifty iTunes Store preview pages — a brand-new album by our nation’s most treasured treasure is finished and set for release on March 6 through Columbia Records. Produced by Ron Aniello, Springsteen’s 17th studio album is set to shock long-time fans with its use of “unexpected textures — loops, electronic percussion… influences and rhythms from hip-hop to Irish folk,” according to a press release — not sounds one would normally associate with a dependably rockin’ guy like Bruce.

Lead single and opening track “We Take Care of Our Own” is available for download starting today, and you can listen to it streaming here, but that particular ringing anthem might not give a good sense of Springsteen’s bold new direction for the album as a whole. For those who doubt Bruce’s dedication to “unexpected textures,” we have an EXCLUSIVE stream of a deep cut from the album, which you can stream below:

A truly fascinating blend of past and future… we at TMT couldn’t be more excited to hear the rest.

Wrecking Ball tracklisting:

01. We Take Care of Our Own
02. Easy Money
03. Shackled and Down
04. Jack of All Trades
05. Death to My Hometown
06. The Depression
07. Wrecking Ball
08. You’ve Got It
09. Rocky Ground
10. Land of Hope and Dreams
11. We Are Live
12. Swallowed Up *
13. American Land *

* iTunes bonus track

• Bruce Springsteen:
• Columbia:

US Supreme Court gives Congress the power to apply US copyrights to foreign-produced works in the public domain; forget about seeing Rear Window in your Intro To Film class

Wired reports that the US Supreme Court ruled yesterday that congress may bestow copyrights to foreign-produced works that had never previously received a copyright in the US. This decision upholds Congress’ decision in 1994 to sign the Berne Convention, an international agreement set up to acknowledge other countries’ copywriting of foreign-produced materials, as well as to uphold US-issued copyrights in foreign countries. Since many foreign-produced works are still under copyright in their native countries, Congress has been granted the right to retroactively apply a copyright in the US to those materials.

This handy map shows the bigger picture across the globe, with European works holding copyrights for the lifetime of the creator plus an additional 70 years. This means that the films of Alfred Hitchcock (who died in 1980 and whose films’ copyrights are mainly held by Universal), for instance, are under copyright until 2050. Stravinsky’s work would be under copyright until 2021, 50 years after his death in 1971.

The ruling by the Supreme Court was in response to Golan v. Holder, a case brought forth by a collective of people who rely on foreign-produced materials previously not covered by copyright, such as educators and orchestras. The ruling significantly eliminates many of the works that these groups rely on for their livelihood and will prevent the general public from benefitting from their presentation, performance, and general availability in public places like libraries and the internet. Urgh!

The court decision came down 6-2 in favor of the plaintiffs, with Justices Alito (!) and Breyer dissenting and Kagen sitting this one out due to the fact that she worked on the case for the Justice Department before being promoted. Instead of keeping existing public domain works available for the public that relies on and benefits from them, the court potentially opened the door allowing congress to legislate copyrights. Since the only people who benefit from copyrights are copyright holders, even when the original producer of the works is long since dead, this ruling is blatantly favoring large corporations who are most likely to hold these copyrights. Despite the fact that the US Constitution says that congress shall define copyrights and patents “… for limited times…”, this is an unfortunate part of a long pattern of dragging out copyrights on recorded audio and video works. Good job, America.

Grouper to showcase Violet Replacement across Europe, offering unbridled sedation for the price of a concert ticket

Oh, the weather outside is… surprisingly mild and free of disastrous winter storms, so why the hell aren’t more American artists choosing to tour their homeland around this time of year? As previously reported, Mount Eerie and Earth just announced a joint European tour that inspires renditions of a certain trademark Al Michaels line, and now, another native of Cascadia, Grouper, a.k.a. Liz Harris, has just announced that she’ll be touring Europe around the same time, in support of a special, non-song-based live performance, Violet Replacement. I’m not sure what it is about the Pacific Northwest during the winter/spring that apparently compels residents (or at least musicians) to journey across oceans, but let’s just be glad they’re choosing life, instead of assisted suicide.

According to FACT, Grouper has been preoccupied with her work on Violet Replacement since the release of her tremendous two-part album A I A (TMT Review) last April. For those fortunate enough to live in the path of her projected daze on this upcoming tour, expect even more ambient submersion than usual; the performance is said to consist of “tape loops, field recordings and submerged atmospherics presented in a set of naturally resonant and specially customised locations…Field recordings, Wurlitzer loops and vocal tracks from her archives are mixed, spliced and processed live from an array of dictaphones and tape player.”

There’s good news for those unfortunate enough to live everywhere else: Violet Replacement is due to be released on CD “early this year,” presumably just prior, or during the tour itself. Ah, sustenance.


02.04.12 - Berlin, Germany - CTM Festival ‘Circular Veil’ *
02.07.12 - Cologne, Germany - Alte Feuerwache ‘Circular Veil’ *
03.02.12 - London, UK - 79 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DY
03.03.12 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Mayhem
03.04.12 - Aarhus, Denmark - Spanien 19c
03.06.12 - Gothenburg, Sweden - Gardaskolen
03.07.12 - Stockholm, Sweden - Kagalbanan
03.08.12 - Malmo, Sweden - Inkonst
03.10.12 - Moscow, Russia - Aktoviy Zal
03.11.12 - St. Petersburg, Russia - Taiga
03.13.12 - Riga, Latvia - Anglican Church
03.14.12 - Helsinki, Finland - Kuudes Linka %
03.15.12 - Tampere, Finland - Telakka %
03.16.12 - Turku, Finland - Dynamo %
03.17.12 - Ravenna, Italy - Transmissions Festival
03.19.12 - Milan, Italy - Spazio O
03.20.12 - Torino, Italy - Blah Blah
03.22.12 - Utrecht, Netherlands - Rumor Festival
03.23.12 - Paris, France - Gaité Lyrique
03.24.12 - Brussels, Belgium - Recyclart
03.25.12 - Luxembourg City, Luxembourg - Exit 07
03.27.12 - Dublin, Ireland - Unitarian Church
03.28.12 - Reading, UK - South St. Arts #
03.29.12 - Bristol, UK - St. Steven’s Church #
03.30.12 - Birmingham, UK - Vivid
03.31.12 - Nottingham, UK - Nottingham Contemporary #
04.01.12 - Manchester, UK - Islington Mill #

* Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
% Tuunsanuuskat
# Diamond Catalog

• Grouper:

Grouper scores new feature film, casually mentions that you were in her dream last night

I like to imagine Grouper’s music emanating from a burned bungalow on an island in the middle of a river, or perhaps from the site of a spaceship crash in the tundra — sounds that somehow defy music while simultaneously renewing it — so I think it’s rather fitting that she’s scored a film described as “a segmenting journey into the dreams of four neighbors,” a film that will screen in Sundance’s New Frontier category, which highlights experimental films that dissolve conventional artistic divisions.

According to FACT, The Perception of Moving Targets, director Weston Currie’s first feature film, includes material from Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill and A I A (TMT Review) as well as various new recordings. Check out the trailer, and see if you can name the tracks in it.

• Grouper:
• Sundance Film Festival:
The Perception of Moving Targets:

FYI: Tiny Mix Tapes will be participating in tomorrow’s PIPA/SOPA blackout

On January 18, a coordinated 12-hour blackout of websites big (Wikipedia, Reddit) and small (TMT) will be taking place in order to protest and raise awareness about the PROTECT IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts. Head here for more information on the blackout and to see the growing list of participating sites. You can also watch this video for a summary of how both bills threaten the current state of online privacy and freedom of speech.

Our participation in tomorrow’s blackout is not meant as a lecture for our readers, but simply as an act of solidarity with the movement. We encourage you to research the bills during the blackout and do what you can to raise further awareness — Congress votes on PIPA on January 24.

• Strike Against SOPA:
• Redefine: