Pioneer Rockers DKT/MC5 & The Sun Ra Arkestra at UCLA
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The last date listed for DKT/MC5 & The Sun Ra Arkestra was Saturday September 17, 2005 / 8:00pm.
Quotes & Highlights
“They rip the 100 Club to shreds with a force 50 gale of everything you love about rock ‘n’ roll.” —NME
“1960s musical anarchists [are] still kicking out the jams!” —New York Times
DKT/MC5 & The Sun Ra Arkestra
With special guests
Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses)
Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers)
Lisa Kekaula (The BellRays, Basement Jaxx)
Dr. Charles Moore
Detroit’s rock ‘n’ roll bad boys MC5 (Motor City Five) “kicked out the jams” in 1969 as a brisk antidote to the flower power pop of the era, laying the groundwork for punk rock and grunge with their lacerating guitars, propulsive drive and howling vocals. Revered by generations of rockers, from Rage Against the Machine to the Hives to the White Stripes, the band’s musical legacy is more powerful than ever. One of MC5’s early gigs was opening for The Sun Ra Arkestra, and member Wayne Kramer said “no other band affected me the way Sun Ra and his Arkestra has. They opened the door to the New Music.” The late Sun Ra, who claimed he was from Saturn and dressed his Arkestra like Ancient Egyptians, was a pioneer of avant-garde jazz, incorporating world rhythms and electric instrumentation. MC5’s surviving members, Michael Davis, Kramer and Dennis Thompson (DKT) reunite after four decades in this visionary event.
The raucous, politically volatile and youthful MC5 first opened for their elder revolutionaries Sun Ra Arkestra in the 1960s. Performing together now, says Kramer, is “an expansion of the work started by both groups nearly four decades ago.” Davis, Kramer and Thompson joined the Sun Ra Arkestra for a concert at the U.K.‘s Royal Festival Hall in February 2005 following a successful MC5 tribute concert in 2003 at the London’s famed 100 Club. The concert at UCLA Live is part of their first tour together in three decades with stops scheduled in Finland, New York’s Central Park, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in addition to L.A. DKT/MC5 will be joined on stage by a revolving cast of special guest musicians and vocalists including Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses) Lisa Kekaula (BellRays, Basement Jaxx) and Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers); with a horn section of Dr. Charles Moore on trumpet, Buzzy Jones, saxophone, Phil Ranelin on trombone, and other special guests to be announced.
The three current members of DKT/MC5 were part of the original group that “Kicked out the Jams,” also the name of their classic debut album recorded in 1968. They provided a brisk antidote to the flower power pop of the era with their lacerating guitars, propulsive drive and howling vocals. The new group is also intended as a tribute to former members, including vocalist Rob Tyner who died in 1991 of a heart attack, and Fred “Sonic” Smith (married to Patti Smith) who died of heart failure in 1994.
Their radical political stance and pioneering work welding hard rock, soul music, rhythm and blues, and avant-garde jazz cut through cathartic bourgeois sensibilities of the time and ushered in the metal era. The group became heroes for generations of rockers from Rage Against the Machine to the Hives to the White Stripes. The band’s musical legacy remains as powerful as ever. A new DVD “Sonic Revolution: A Celebration of the MC5” was released in July 2004 and even includes archival footage from the Nixon government taken during an investigation of the band after a riotous performance coinciding with the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
One of MC5’s early gigs in 1967 at Detroit’s Community Arts Auditorium was opening for The Sun Ra Arkestra in a concert organized by Motor City poet, “King of the Hippies” and former MC5 manager John Sinclair. Member Wayne Kramer said “Performing with Sun Ra and The Myth Science Arkestra that night, and on so many nights that followed, fundamentally changed my understanding of what music is about. They are the most important band on Planet Earth, although I’m not sure they actually are from this Earth. … No other band affected me the way Sun Ra and his Arkestra has. They opened the door to the New Music.”
The late Sun Ra, who died in 1993 at 79, claimed he was from Saturn and dressed his Arkestra like ancient Egyptians. He was a keyboardist and pioneer of free and avant-garde jazz, incorporating world rhythms and electric instrumentation. Many important sidemen were with him on and off for decades and Sun Ra’s legacy is now being guarded by the 81-year-old Marshall Allen, bandleader, saxophonist and long time member of the still-surviving Arkestra. Allen took over leadership after the death of tenor saxophonist John Gilmore and maintains the Philadelphia townhouse that serves as the Sun Ra Arkestra headquarters for the nucleus of band’s musicians that still rehearse and live there. Despite lean times, the Arkestra has rebounded in recent years playing gigs in Europe, Brazil, a Buddhist temple in Tuva, and the Manhattan nightclub Iridium, in addition to this current tour.
Sun Ra was born Herman Sonny Blount in Birmingham, Alabama and led his own band for the first time in 1934. He worked as a pianist/arranger with Fletcher Henderson in 1946-1947, but really got started around 1953 when he led a big band (which he called the Arkestra) in Chicago. Ra started off playing advanced bop, but early on was open to other influences and experimented with primitive electric keyboards. He played free long before the avant-garde was established, and in later years alternated free improvisations and mystical group chants with eccentric versions of swing tunes.
The Brooklyn-based band Barbez, opening the concert, can be best described as avant-garde rock, but their influences stem from East European music (Russian, Polish, Balkan, klezmer) to free jazz, avant-garde classical, German cabaret, and Argentine tango.