July 5, 2004
Escaping (and Finding) America
This weekend on the radio show we were graced with the presence of the mighty O-Dub and the esteemed Mr. Len (along with his group Bully Mouth, who need some home training but are nice on the mic). Then after things wrapped up I went home to pack for a quick trip to Montreal, where I am sitting now in an internet cafe on St. Denis.
Some of you may know I've been scoping out this town for a while, as an escape route if Dubya gets in again. One thing I can tell you for sure is I will definitely be back here every July from now on, because this Montreal Jazz Festival is redonkuloso. I can't believe this has been going on every year and I've missing it..
Most of my memories will be from the random acts on various stages that I'd never heard of, and the unofficial performers holding it down on streetcorners around the fair, like the group led by one of these guys that was killing "Chameleon" in front of the Musiqueplus on St. Catherine.
But the highlight so far (since the Jorge Ben show got cancelled) was seeing the Funk Brothers last night with Joan Osborne, Sam Moore, and the Four Tops (sans Levi). Such an honor getting to see so much history on stage, and having a chance to give some love to these men who gave us so much and got so little recognition for it. The evening felt especially historic when Sam Moore came out, since as Sam pointed out we were witnessing the first time in history that a Stax artist was backed up by the Motown band, as he held it down on "Shop Around" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
It was a beatiful night. I can't think of a better way to spend the 4th of July, in these strange and ugly times for our country, than taking the opportunity to step outside our borders and spend the evening with thousands of Quebecois and visitors from around the world, all coming together on Avenue Du President Kennedy to honor the pioneers of the Motown sound, the quintessential American music. A reminder, for one night at least, that America doesn't always have to be the shame of the planet. That once in a while, in our best moments, we ugly Americans can fill the world with beauty, and touch hearts around the globe with our love.