fountain photo

Notes from Across the Border

Bumbershoot '96
Seattle Arts Centre
Seattle, Washington
August 30 - September 2, 1996

Review by Stuart Derdeyn
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin

Eric Bogosian is one of the meanest, cruelest, funniest wits around. In his hour and a half rant at Bumbershoot on the state of affairs in America today, Bogosian managed to piss-off and offend everyone, all the while hammering home the basic point that people are cruel by nature and life is brutish and short and it sucks. He hammered it home like a sledge hammer on a small nail, moving in and out of character from an over-the-top drug dealer to a neurotic Jewish critic to a fabulous send-up of new age guru Deepak Chopra: "In case you didn't know, the root of alienation is poverty. So with money you can always feel happy. Please buy my videos and books in the lobby during the break. Thank-you."

The experience of a Bogosian show is like a quickie in a place you'll get caught in if you don't hurry. You don't remember exactly what the specifics of the act were, but you know fountain photo it was damn entertaining. Ditto for the rant. All I can say is for the price of admission this was enough of a show and then some. If you didn't go cuz you wanted to see Blue Rodeo instead, blow me!

Other weekend stand-outs:

Isaac Hayes' seven-song, two-hour love-in. The big man with the biggest "hey baby, luv machine" voice around led his crack band through the paces and kept the crowd dancing. Note: to the security guards who thought it was necessary to confiscate pot off of people during the show -- have you ever considered seeing if you can get your mouth around it, instead of shoving it in people's faces? I mean, hey, if you're so tough, why pick on people having fun?

Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys are the coolest roots band in the world. When Sandy sings about thinking about you when "I'm drinkin'... darlin'," well, you just know it must be true.

Poet Sekou Sundiata's Saturday show brought all the strength and passion of the African-American experience and voice to the stage, without falling into any of the laughable excesses of the rap world. The man is a poet first and a performer second and it shows. Ass-kicking social commentary. Seek out his new disc on Live Word, due in October.

fountain photo Poets Eavan Boland and Bob Holliman offered up some interesting concepts of community art and artist and community in the writer's forum on Saturday. Boland's discussion of the deadly dark shadow of community, and what it has meant traditionally to Irish artists, differed greatly from the P.C. crowd's populist "community is art and therefore, art should be for the community" feel-good hippy line. Too bad Eric Bogosian couldn't have sat in. My guess is his opinion would've fit in nicely with his pissing in the homeless person's mouth to quench their thirst vignette.... but, that's another story.

Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra started an hour late, but the wait was worth it as the band brought an inter-disciplinary fusion of Indian, Arabic, modal and improvisational jazz and world-dance music together in tunes you could dance to. But how come all those copter dancers are allowed to spin their patchouli scent throughout the crowd? Now if only the facisiti securitate would persecute those who truly assault the senses and offend public sensibility...

Whatever, another Bumbershoot passed with nothing but praise from this reviewer. If only the fun police didn't spoil even the concept of such a fair ever taking place in Vancouver. Fortunately, Seattle is really close.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on September 13, 1996

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