Plus the fundraising Polar Bear Plunge in Wildwood and the Album of the Week
Noyes Museum Presents ‘The Art of Conflict’
By Christina Migioia
The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College will showcase a new exhibition called The Art of Conflict starting Friday, Jan. 18, and featuring visual representations of conflict and war. The exhibition will run until April 21, with an opening reception scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, from 5-8pm, at which time the artists will be in attendance for a meet-and-greet. The featured artists include Rajie Cook, David Keefe, Veru Narula, Rhoda Wall and works from the Combat Paper Project — a New Jersey-based effort that utilizes art-making workshops to assist veterans in reconciling and sharing their personal experiences, as well as “broadening the traditional narrative surrounding service and the military culture.” Through the presentation of various elements of warfare, discord and displacement, the exhibition sets out to raise the viewer’s awareness of conflict and to promote a greater understanding of it. The Noyes Museum of Art is located at 733 Lily Lake Rd., in Oceanville, Galloway Twp. Museum hours are Mon.-Sat. 10am-4:30pm, Thurs. 10am-8pm, and Sun. noon-5pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors. For more information call 652-8848 or visit noyesmuseum.org.
Polar Bears Take Plunge in Wildwood
By Casey Harper
The air is brisk and ocean temperatures are around a cool 45 degrees, which can only mean that it is time once again for the annual Wildwoods Polar Bear Plunge. On Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1pm, brave bathers will crowd the beach behind the Wildwoods Convention Center as they prepare to face the winter water’s chill. With funds benefiting the Special Olympics of New Jersey, one of the main objectives for the 2013 event is to encourage plungers to participate in teams of 10 or more to promote competitive fundraising. While spectators are invited to come take part in the fun for free, those who wish to make the shivery splash are asked to raise $100 each or $1,000 per teams of ten. Prior to the event, the “Beef and Brrr Benefit for the Plunge” will take place Friday, Jan. 18, at 7pm at the Bolero Resort (3320 Atlantic Ave., Wildwood), where a $20 donation includes a beef buffet, drink specials, live entertainment, and a live auction. Registration is offered online at sonj.org as well as in person the day of the event, with check-in open from 10am-noon inside the Convention Center, where all post-plunge activities will take place including a free lunch for participants. Over 22,000 New Jersey Special Olympians benefit from the Wildwoods Polar Bear Plunge, therefore incentives will be given for raising funds for the athletes, with special recognition given to the participant with the highest amount of money raised. For more information, visit njpolarplunge.org or call 896-8000.
Album of the Week
‘The Revolution Begins: The Flying Dutchman Masters’ (BGP)
In the year or so before he passed away on May 27, 2011, Gil Scott-Heron, the artist who said “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” seemed to be rising like a phoenix from years of legal, drug and health problems.
The year before, England’s esteemed XL label (Radiohead, Adele) released his first new album in more than a decade — the triumphant, endearing and widely acclaimed I’m New Here — and his long-awaited book/autobiography was being prepared for publication (The Last Holiday: A Memoir, which would be published posthumously by the U.K.’s Canon Gate Books in January 2012).
Scott-Heron’s death left a lot of unanswered questions about the poet/musician/songwriter/author’s life — many of which still remain following the release of his book.
Although he was the first artist signed to Clive Davis’ Arista label (in 1975), Scott-Heron never had much “mainstream” success. Because he was such an original and his art so unique, he never quite fit into the music business’s neatly defined genres and chart-oriented thinking. Thus, he was never quite marketed properly, unable to reach the level of notoriety or amount of listeners he deserved during his lifetime — especially in America.
The amount of Scott-Heron’s top-shelf work is staggering. It’s downright pathetic that many of his best albums have remained out of print for decades. Albums such as Bridges, 1980, Secrets and Real Eyes (all favorites of Scott-Heron’s) have yet to even come out on CD in the States.
(At a May 2010 performance at Philadelphia’s intimate Tin Angel — one of his favorite venues to play he said at the time — Scott-Heron was selling CD-R versions of the aforementioned albums.)
But there is hope that some of the late singer-songwriter’s best music will be made more accessible in the years to come.
This past Jan. 8, BGP Records released The Revolution Begins: The Flying Dutchman Masters, a three-CD set, collecting all of the surviving recordings the young Scott-Heron made for the Flying Dutchman label in 1971 and 1972.
Along with tracks from his first three albums (Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Pieces of a Man and Free Will), the exceptional set also collects a rare recording with Pretty Purdie’s band and a whole disc featuring an alternative version of 1972’s Free Will album.
Also included is a wonderful 56-page booklet featuring many rare early photos, 45 covers and advertisements, as well as detailed liner notes by the set’s compiler Dean Rudland.
From astonishing early songs such as “Lady Day and John Coltrane,” “Home Is Where the Hatred Is,” “Save the Children” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which make an extraordinary entrance on disc one (dubbed “Songs”), to spoken-word tracks such as “Whitey on the Moon,” “Billy Green Is Dead” and the original spoken-word version of “The Revolution Will Not …” — the song was re-recorded with a full band for Scott-Heron’s second album — on disc two (dubbed “Poetry, Jazz & The Blues”), to the alternative version of Scott-Heron’s third album, Free Will, taking up the entire third disc (including two alternate takes of the title track), the new set exposes a young artist just turned 20 and doing something few others were doing at the time.
Namely, what the young Chicago native was doing was asking simple questions about America and making extremely candid statements in a new in-your-face format, first as a poet and author and then as a singer and songwriter.
Questions such as “Who’ll Pay Reparations on My Soul?” and “If we know all we say we know about the problems, why can’t we do something to try and solve them?” and “You keep saying’ kick it, quit it, kick it, quit it, but did you ever try?” and statements such as “Home is where the needle marks try to heal my broken heart” and “There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae … trying to slide the color TV into a stolen ambulance” are just a few examples represented in this new set.
Although many revere Scott-Heron as the “Godfather of Rap,” especially of the politically charged variety — he even wrote a song (“Message to the Messengers”) for his remarkable 1993 album Spirits, offering advice to contemporary rap artists — Scott-Heron’s legacy is a great deal more than that.
Although he wrote, sang and even (in concert) joked about injustices at home and abroad, and spent most of his life with the word “revolution” pinned to his lapel by the media, part of that revolution was inside Gil Scott-Heron the man. Like a Bob Dylan or a Prince or a Spike Lee, Scott-Heron was a man constantly changing and evolving, attempting with each new song or album or poem to bring to his art (quite successfully) what Lou Reed called the stuff “between thought and expression.” He didn’t change for change’s sake or for the public or to try and fit in with the latest fad, and he worked at his own pace.
This three-disc set is where Scott-Heron’s musical journey began. (He had already written his first published novel, The Vulture, as well as a book of poetry while in the midst of attending Lincoln University.) Hopefully, his revolution in music will continue to be center stage on more great re-issues like this one so that new audiences can discover — and old ones can rediscover — one of the most gifted and marvelous thinkers of our time. — Jeff Schwachter
Plus the Album of the Week, Drew Toonz, and this weekend's Jazz Vespers salute to Art Blakey, featuring Keith Hollis.
"Same way shit happens in [the record business]: you get a letter; you get a call. Someone calls and tells you that somebody’s been looking for you. I got a letter from him out there and he wanted to sit down with me and that’s the way shit happens. He said he wanted to meet up and that’s where I was so there was no chance of us meeting up any place else!"
Plans were in the works to try to get Scott-Heron to perform in Atlantic City this summer, for one of the city=sponsored concerts at Gardner's Basin. I also suggested to the organizers of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan festival coming to Atlantic City June 24-26, to reach out to Gil to have him as one of the dozens of artists on the bill.
On Gil Scott-Heron’s first new studio album in 16 years, I’m New Here, out Tuesday on XL Recordings (Radiohead, White Stripes), the rust-voiced revolutionary sounds as vital as ever. He’s been recording the haunting album—a mix of spooky futuristic blues; strange, drenched-in-synths soundscapes, poignant odes to his family and a few extraordinary covers—for the past few years with XL Recordings head Richard Russell, who first met Scott-Heron in 2006 when he visited him at Rikers, where he was serving 90 days for DUI.
Wheels have been in motion for quite a while regarding Atlantic City’s vision of creating an arts district, and a stronger presence in town for such cultured pursuits as painting and sculpture, theater and dancing, classical music and more.
This is a message that the American artist, Seth Camm, has taken to heart, but for him he’s found his start at the easel. This wasn’t an easy journey for Camm; it took him a nervous breakdown to achieve the compassion he now has for the plight of the homeless.
A special presentation from ArtC — an organization dedicated to promoting the arts in southern New Jersey — in partnership with the Noyes Museum of Art and Stockton College, Photo SJ 2012 will showcase two of the world’s most accomplished and respected professional photographers: John Russo and Seth Resnick.
Like that branch of the federal government that allows neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night nor deluge of holidays packages to stand in its way, a proud community tradition, the Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge, will continue in the face of adversity on New Year’s Day.