I’m not a Cynic, I’m a Pessimist. Give me the time to sit and work through the logic, and I’ll get to the satisfying conclusion that there’s no point to being born, and that’s even before I toss in all the malevolence humanity has shown to the universe and to itself.
But I can only take it so far—I’m a father and so I can’t help but look to the future as something possible, if not for me than for someone younger and far more promising. And for whatever reason, my soul and body are entwined with music and there is something about the way sounds come together one after another that takes me out of time into a space where, again, good things are possible.
And now, a mass movement makes it look like good things, concrete things, are possible in real time, a new set of building blocks for a new possible future. We still have a problem with the media-political industrial complex’s inability to call a spade a fucking shovel—their power rests on avoiding articulating any fact or truth—and we’re unlikely to ever see Juneteenth as a federal holiday (I’m old enough to remember St. John McCain fighting tooth and nail to hold back Martin Luther King Day) but people are voting with their feet and timorous corporations are trying to hold on to their wallets, so today starts the de facto holiday, and I see a possible season between it and Memorial Day where we might, as a country, take the Civil War out of Ken Burns’ misty bourgeois mythologizing and see it as the second act in building this nation, with the third still to come.
In the great American tradition of using a holiday as an excuse to shop, I want to point you over to Bandcamp, where all their proceeds today are going to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. If you want to look specifically for Black artists, here’s a place to start. My recommendations are:
Julius Eastman, Femenine:
Anything and everything from the wonderful International Anthem label:
This benefit compilation has close to 110(!!!!) tracks, so you’re sure to find something you dig:
This EP from Fred Hersch and Esperanza Spalding is live, raw, and benefits the Jazz Foundation of America, which is trying to support jazz musicians how are now pretty much all out of work:
Sunn O))) has posted more rehearsal demos, and based on the previous limited edition batch, these are going to be fantastic:
If you’re interested in exploring contemporary music outside the West, you’ll find immense treasures via the Unexplained Sounds group of labels.
Go explore, it’s an enormous world of music out there.