Lives in the heart and soul of American Folk music, Bluegrass, and Mind-Expanding Psychedelic Rock. Their approach to music was primal. The connection being made in The Grateful Dead’s music was about adventure, learning, and creating. These are things that human beings are supposed to do. It rejected the modern ideal of having a job you hate (that hates you too) and growing old in front of a television with a beer in hand. They didn’t care about being successful in the music industry. They played music because it was fun, because it was who they were.
Before they called themselves the Grateful Dead the band first played as The Warlocks in a series of bars. They eventually had to change their name because there was another band also named The Warlocks. To avoid confusing audiences, they played as Jerry Garcia and Friends while they were in search of a permanent band name. During this time Ken Kesey invited the band to play at his parties, the Acid Tests. Ken Kesey was a former Stanford University student who participated in a military experiment in taking psychedelic drugs in a psychiatric facility (this was way before psychedelics were made illegal, obviously). He found the drugs to be mind-altering and believed that he could make a different, more fun kind of America by spreading the knowledge and experience of psychedelics across the United States. He did this in a school bus that was painted in mind-altering patterns and vibrant colors. The people who rode the bus with him were called pranksters. When Kesey and the pranksters came back from tripping while road tripping across the U.S.A. they held Acid tests in their shared home. There Jerry Garcia and his band would play and get a decent following of people who genuinely enjoyed their sound.
Later Jerry Garcia would find a name for the band thanks to an old dusty dictionary. The “Grateful Dead” was an old folk tale told and shared by many different cultures. It’s about a traveler who comes across the ghost in the shape of a skeleton. Many believe that when a person dies in debt or without a proper burial, their soul wanders the earth until someone helps them out. Depending on the version of the tale, the traveler pays the dead man’s debt or finds his bones and gives him a proper burial. In return for the traveler’s righteous deed the spirit comes back in the shape of an animal, an angel, or person to save the traveler’s life when he encounters danger. This story not only the permanent name of the band but also created a whole new society of individuals who believed in freedom, adventure, and learning (with or without the use of drugs), these people were the Deadheads.
These were people weren’t fans who’d come to a show every now and then. Dead heads would attempt to follow the band for their entire tour or as many shows as they could possible. They would either drive across the U.S. in their vans, or they’d hitch hike their way there. The Grateful Dead didn’t just make great music, they gave people a platform where they created their own jobs. Some Deadheads were lawyers, college professors, parents, and sometimes even “yuppies”. But some dead individuals made most of their living selling tie-dye band tees, food, crystal necklaces (“for sexual energy!”) etc. at the shows. For some people, it really was a way of life. Dead shows became a place where they felt like their work mattered. It didn’t even matter if you didn’t have a craft or a job. If you were there, you were welcome. If you were hungry, someone would share their food with you and people treated you with respect. The shows were a place where you could leave your social class behind because the only thing that counted was being nice.
King Khan and The Shrines: The Essential Doo-wop Garage Punk Rock Gospel (We encourage you to drink the cool aid)
Close your eyes and imagine a go-go dancer with cheerleading pom-poms, a dope brass line up, a keyboard, and a big brown dude in a golden speedo, a matching gold cape, and a crown of gold feathers on his head. Every time they play they dish out some of the funkiest shit you’ve never heard before. This my friends, is the power of “Khanibalism”. There is something so pure about Khan’s music. They stick out as a musical group for a variety of reasons. They have a variety of instruments. This band is not your typical guitar, bass, and drums band. They kick out jams with a trumpet, a tenor sax and a keyboard. Their bass is anything but lazy! Who knew Canada could rock so hard?! Deep in the garages of Canada, the land of “please”, “thank you”, and “no after you” King Khan is creating a Land of the Freak, with music so wild and rude he claims it’s “known to frequently drive audiences into a sweaty orgy.”
So here’s the lineup:
SPREAD YOUR LOVE LIKE PEANUT BUTTER (2000)
THREE HAIRS AND YOU’RE MINE (2001)
MR. SUPERNATURAL (2004)
WHAT IS?! (2007)
THE SUPREME GENIUS OF KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES (2008)
BITE MY TONGUE (2012)
IDLE NO MORE (2013)
Thank you King Khan, and most of all thank you Shrines for rocking, so fucking hard-MEGA MADDOX
Growing up, I remember my grandparents' massive vinyl collection of records from Cuba. Anything from old school big band music like Orquesta Concha de Oro to more modern music like Celia Cruz. Sometimes, when I spent the night, If I was lucky, they'd play some of them for me. One night I chose a record by "Benny More". My grandfather told me he met him when he was in his twenties working as a bartender in one of Cuba's most refined hotels. Only rich people got to stay there. Big bands would come in and play all the time, and he met a lot of different musicians. One of them was Benny More! He claims that people liked him because he loved music and really loved to dance. I would hear other stories from my grandmother about the big band dance parties she would go to in Cuba, the dresses she would wear, and how she would always get stuck dancing with this one guy who liked her way more than she liked him. Hearing my grandparents talk about their youth in Cuba while playing their antique records made me feel like a "traveler of both time and space". It made these two adults in my life seem, somehow more human. It made me wish that music would once again be taken over by big bands.
My lifelong dream, now at twenty-one, may have just come true. Orquesta Akokan, is bringing back old school mambo and they are going to take the music scene by storm. Orquesta Akokan is a large sixteen-piece brass band with members from both Cuban and the U.S. The singer and composer Jose "Pepitio" Gomez assembled the band. He grew up singing and playing trumpet locally, in Havana. Later, he professionally studied music in New York. It was there, he discovered mambo in a technical sense. He came to the realization that if white dude studies mambo, the melody, the rhythm, and the history, then he too can play mambo. The band is diverse and extremely talented. They came out with their first self-titled album/record this year (2018)! I have never thoroughly enjoyed an album all the way through (not even an "all-time favorite"). This would be the first! If my grandfather were alive today he would be trying to get tickets to see them live! For those of us living in Miami, it is our duty to make sure these guys thrive! Orquesta Akokan is truly offering us a gift "from the heart" (the Yoruban meaning of the word "Akokan"). This is a chance to experience the music that moved the people who brought us into existence! Even if you don’t have Cuban heritage, who can resist a badass brass band? No. one. ever.