Danny Says. As a writer and editor, he was responsible for bringing to light John Lennon’s comment that The Beatles were ‘bigger than Jesus’. As part of The Warhol Factory, he shaped the careers of The Velvet Underground and Nico. When he was Elektra Records, he played a huge role in moving the label away from folk to rock, putting together the marketing campaign for The Doors and later, signing the MC5 and The Stooges. But his greatest claim to fame was signing and managing a group out of Queens called The Ramones, putting punk on the cultural and musical map. Now, the life and times of Danny Fields is the subject of this new documentary from Brendan Toller. Using over 250 hours of interviews and archive materials, Toller tells the story of how a Harvard and NYU dropout became an unsung rock hero. Told with dry wit, candor and loaded with great music and stories, its must see film for anyone who loves the music that came out of the New York scene in the 60s and 70s. Danny Says will be available in theaters and on iTunes on Friday.
Black Man In America by Andre Cymone. Andre Cymone has built a career on taking the road less traveled. He was a key player in making Minneapolis music scene explode in the late 70s and early 80s, but put it on hold to become the bassist for his long time friend Prince. Cymone left Prince’s band just as the group was on the cusp of national success to carve out his own career as a solo artist. After scoring a series of solo hits, Cymone move onto the producer’s chair, crafting out hits for Jody Watley, Pebbles, Jermaine Stewart and Adam Ant. In 2014, Cymone returned as a singer-songwriter, releasing the eclectic and critically acclaimed album, The Stone. Not content to sit on the sidelines during this hotbed of social and political unrest, Cymone goes all in on this powerful new EP. The echoes of the recent rash of police shootings of unarmed Black men come out front and center in the title track, which starts with the chant ‘No Justice, No Peace’ and then goes into a mini history of the Black man’s plight (Lynchings, discrimination, deadly encounters with police, etc). ‘Hot Night In The Neighborhood’ (which also references The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer In The City’) echoes the recent protests in Baltimore and Ferguson while the acoustic ballad ‘Black Lives Matter’ asks more questions than provides answers. You would think that the last thing anyone would want to hear is another cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, but Cymone totally flips the script and turns into a full on blast that shows the razor thin difference between funk and rock. Immediate, urgent and in the moment, Black Man In America hits on themes that are both timely and timeless. It’s available this Friday through Amazon, ITunes and all major music retailers.
Semi Prominent Negro by W. Kamau Bell. The San Fran based comic rounds out a breakout year with the audio release of his acclaimed Showtime special. Recorded live in Brooklyn, Bell tackles everything from being the father to bi-racial children, gentrification, the difference between East Coast and West Coast liberals, the Presidential election, and, of course, racism. Bell is relentless with his wit, sarcasm and well placed irony, and cements his status as one of the top socio-political comics working today. Semi Prominent Negro is available this Friday through Amazon, ITunes and all major retailers.
Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen. The eagerly awaited autobiography from New Jersey’s favorite son finally hits the shelves this week. Springsteen wrote the 500 page book with the aid of a ghostwriter and it has the sweep and scope of some of his best songs. He goes into vivid detail of growing up to working class parents, with an often contentious relationship with father; how seeing Elvis on TV convinced him that rock n roll would be his life and working his way from the Jersey shore bar band scene to international stardom. Springsteen also goes into unapologetic detail on how therapy and antidepressants helped him to overcome often severe bouts of depression. Remarkably forthcoming, blunt but always with a nod and a wink, Springsteen doesn’t just meet expectations with this book, he exceeds them. Born To Run is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers. You can also go to www.brucespringsteen.net for more information.
The New York Film Festival. The 54th Annual edition promises to give a good look at the films that will be discussed during the awards season. The 13th, Ava DuVerney’s powerful documentary about how a loophole within the 13th Amendment has led to record levels of mass incarceration in the U.S. will open the festival, with early Oscar favorite The Lost City Of Z closing it out with a World Premiere screening. Other notable films set to view include Moonlight, the eagerly awaited new film from Barry Jenkins (Medicine For Melancholy); Jackie, Pablo Larrain’s 1st English language film starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy; Paterson starring Adam Driver, written and directed by Jim Jammusch; and Elle, Paul Verhoeven’s new black comedy starring Isabelle Huppert. There will also be panel discussions, notable guest appearances and, of course, a ton of films for fans of any genre. A must see event for any film fan. The New York Film Festival runs September 30th through October 16th. You can also go to www.filmlinc.org for more information.