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Shocked at Small Crowd
Review of Michelle Shocked CD and concert.
...at folky punk Michelle Shocked concert the other night. Other fans will be shocked that she released a gospel CD. Aside from a few popular covers (Billie Holiday, the Band), there’s a few covers of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
I went and saw Michelle perform in Little Italy at Anthology, and wasn’t disappointed. Of course she had some digs about Bush during the show. Since she has the song she wrote for the film Dead Man Walking, and, I heard her preaching between songs about the problems with this administration and big businesses (on the CD), I had to ask her about it over the phone. I said, “A lot of times, we just want to hear the music. We don’t want someone like Linda Rondstadt preaching to us. And, Barbara Streisand recently got heckled when she was making fun of Bush.”
Shocked replied, “Well, make no mistake, Streisand is a diva. So someone rightfully told her to shut up and sing. I became a political activist when a bootleg release of some of my music got out there. The Dixie Chicks were able to turn it around, all the negative press they got from their comments about being embarrassed the President was from Texas. When I got to San Francisco in 1983, fresh off the boat from Texas, I saw the Circle Jerks. I couldn’t understand the words of the songs, but those snide remarks and sneering between songs, is a lot of what I took away from that show.”
I asked about her religious views, since she was obviously liberal back in the day.
“I’m a born again Christian, and I enjoy the dichotomy of it. I went to check out a gospel choir in South Central L.A. I wanted to get to the roots of some music I loved. And I was moved by Martin Luther King saying that it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11:00 o’clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when many are standing to sing ‘In Christ There is no East nor West.”
I asked about the pros and cons of having her own label, and she said “The pros are that I have complete and utter control. Everything else about it sucks, though.”
As we’re getting ready to wrap up our conversation, Michelle tells me about a San Diego painter she’s seeing. She says, “He’s 20 years older, and he was born and raised there. He told me all about the fraternities and sororities that had school dances, and the old, west coast version of R&B and doo-wop they’d play. He even had Les Paul and Mary Ford play at the Hotel Del for their senior prom. He would listen to Hunter Hancock on the radio, out of L.A. So, that might be the style of music I do on my next record.”
It was funny in the concert when she called her boyfriend, and kept the cell phone on and played a song for him (although it did cause feedback with the amplifiers). She also showed us, what is perhaps the coolest guitar case in rock history. It looked like a Jackson Pollock creation. She said something onstage about it being both of them…the guitar inside representing her, and the case him (he painted it).
The most fun of the evening was a birthday song she wrote. She asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday, and when a 19-year-old girl said she was, she brought her and her family on stage to sing her the song. The dad sat behind the drums (after he said he was a musician), and either her brother or boyfriend, played guitar.
Talk about a birthday celebration. That one takes the cake.