Tag Archives: Josh Idehen

Two Questions About Love

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when Hallmark cards make most of their money for the whole year, red roses are sold for extortionate prices and we all get misty-eyed and serenade beautiful sonnets to each other. OK, I’m exaggerating just a little – yes, it’s the annual Life Elsewhere Valentines Show. We have two questions about love for our distinguished guests. Question number one, “What is love?” And, question number two, “What is your favorite love song?” Seemingly simple questions or are they? Our guests are Tom Leaper, Shanaz Dorsett, and Joshua Idehen, who perform as Benin City. The trio are amazing talents individually, together they make music that is inspiring and joyous. As they say, “We believe dance music is a form of protest!” Their latest single, Freaking You Out is a fine example. Listen carefully to the conversation that unravels as Tom, Shanaz, and Josh consider the questions and give their answers. You’ll hear intimate and sometimes revealing answers. Later in the show, a singer-songwriter who digests everything with deliberate care, just as he creates his very personal and reflective music. Phil Parfitt is a man who has a lot to be proud of, after all, his plaintive Somethings Got To Give by Orange Disaster released in 1979 remains an extraordinary and timeless song. Phil’s long musical career included, Oedipussy, Varicose Veins, Psychotropic Vibration, The Architects Of Disaster, The Perfect Disaster, and his solo recordings with his highly-rated new album, Mental Home Recordings

Show 411

The Annual Life Elsewhere Holiday Gift Show

As 2020 draws to a close a collective sigh of relief can be heard around our troubled world. Covid is not over, yet, but vaccinations are on the way and, a new administration is ready to lead with decorum and integrity. The holiday season this year may not be joyous rounds of non-stop gatherings but we can give each other a gift (albeit delivered) to celebrate the season. At Life Elsewhere towers, once again we present The Annual Life Elsewhere Holiday Gift Show. It’s our way of giving you an entertaining show with lots of unique gift ideas. We asked our panel of extraordinarily talented, and well-qualified guests to select three books and one non-book as gifts. The results are fascinating and intriguing when you try to figure out who selected what? Take a look at their photos below and then see if you can match each person with the gifts they selected. It’s far more difficult than it looks. Listen, closely, because you are in for interesting surprises.

Our guests are:

Kate Clarke Writer, whippet lover, country music fan, Mrs. Terry Clarke, humorist, and fervent Twitterer. Kate will be appearing on Life Elsewhere again, soon

Agustín Fuentes Primatologist and biological anthropologist at Princeton University and formerly the chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame

Katherine May writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent works include Wintering – The Power Of Rest & Retreat In Difficult Times, The Electricity of Every Living Thing

Josh Idehen Vocalist, musician, including Benin City, Hugh, Calabashed, poet, spoken word artist, writer & actor. Josh appears on Life Elsewhere often

Amy Rigby singer-songwriter, recording artist, writer, blogger & Podcaster, her memoir is Girl To City. A frequent guest on Life Elsewhere

Mark Haskell Smith Writer of fiction, including Salty, Baked, Blown and non-fiction, Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World, he is also a frequent contributor to Life Elsewhere

A Very Happy, Merry, Jolly, Holiday!

Show 402

A Conversation On Life In Isolation With Five Creatives. Plant Love. Healthy Skin.

Perhaps you have become acclimatized to living through a pandemic? Maybe you have rearranged your everyday life to accommodate social distancing? Or, are you going stir crazy? These are some of the questions we asked five of our favorite creative guests at Life Elsewhere –  author, educator, Anna Dorn; musician, educator, Harry Stafford; author, educator, Mark Haskell Smith; musician, poet, educator Joshua Idehen; musician, author, educator, Martin Atkins. The conversation was conducted via Zoom, connecting to Stockholm, Manchester, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Their responses ranged from the need for physical contact to being content with a little solitude. And, as expected, all of our creative guests were eager to share their thoughts. Hosting a talk show remotely over the internet may well be the new normal when this pandemic is finally over. If it is, then this edition of Life Elsewhere proves how engaging it can be.

                                               

Also in the program, Summer Rayne Oakes, an urban houseplant expert, and environmental scientist has managed to grow 1,000 houseplants in her Brooklyn apartment (and they’re thriving!) Her secret? She approaches her relationships with plants as intentionally as if they were people. Summer joins the show to talk about her book, How To Make A Plant Love You: Cultivate Green Space In Your Home. Plus, James Hamblin, a  preventive medicine physician and staff writer for The Atlantic was curious about the new science of skin microbes and probiotics. He discovered that keeping skin healthy is a booming industry, and yet it seems like almost no one agrees on what actually works. In his new book, Clean – The New Science Of Skin, Hamblin explores how we care for our skin today. He even experimented with giving up showers entirely. His conclusion on the meaning of “clean” may be surprising and at times, humorous.  

Show #384

LEM Vol 190 – Image & Music – A Conversation With Pela + Music From Calabashed & DJ Squarewave

Popular music has always been about image. From the brazen eighteen-year-old truck driver in Memphis, Tennessee who donned showy pimp-like garb slicked his not-yet jet-black hair into a pompadour, grew sideburns and applied eyeliner and rouge – to the spotty youth from Aberdeen, Washington with straggly blond hair and a habit for raggedy urchin-look cardigans,  image was all-important. It still is today. Recently,  I pondered on the relevance of image while chatting via Zoom to Hannah Coombes and Olly Shelton, who go by the moniker of Pela. The South London duo had made a couple of singles which led to my enthusiastic raving, in turn requesting an interview. Looking at the poised couple via Zoom I couldn’t resist mentioning how lovely they are. “You’re gorgeous!” I blurted out. But, my sense of what is politically correct stymied my urge to babble on about Hannah and Olly’s fabulous camera-ready looks. We are here to talk about Pela’s intriguing music, I reminded myself. Their singles, You Got Me and South Of are so good I included them back-to-back in Life Elsewhere Music Vol. 187. Hannah’s sensual voice with Olly’s manipulated sounds presents a “now” sound with honest references to the best of past popular music. The duo has a distinctive sound that is thankfully difficult to categorize. Listen closely to the start of You Got Me, is that a needle dropping on a scratchy disc? The tinkered-with title is repeated then Hannah’s crystal-clear vocals come in as a plaintive piano coda plays with a guitar or processed “other” sounds appearing here and there. More manipulated vocals and the tune fades with a morse-code-like sound emanating from who knows what source Olly has played with. South Of opens with a keyboard riff or maybe it’s a processed guitar, after all in our chat Olly makes it clear he enjoys disguising the original sounds and instruments. Again, Hannah’s voice delivers emotive words. Is this a love song? Is she in despair of a lover leaving? Does South Of (Something) mean it’s all over? The absence of obvious drums with a bass directing the beat adds to the mystery. Olly’s deft hand at the mixing board and digital production are ion fine display on this track. Their latest release, Reverie sounds so familiar as it begins. You cannot help feeling you’ve heard this cut before. It’s that good. Except, it’s completely new. A sax appears to confirm this is an original masterwork of pop music. The title and the lyrics almost contradict Hannah’s seemingly laid-back delivery. She’s questioning, “Are we in reverie?” What happened? An unrequited love affair? “I think we might be holding on” she offers. Reverie sounds nothing like Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, yet here is a song with the same magic formula that’ll have you singing along with the chorus. Hannah and Olly very kindly allowed us to include an as-yet-unreleased track to round out the show, All The Way (With Me). Here Olly gets busy from the opening with processed vocal samples. Is that Hannah at a different pitch? The blips and beats could be micro edits of well anything…is that Hannah in reverse? We catch glimpses of lyrics, “All the way with me”, “In the morning sun…”. This is the most abstract of Pela’s work so far. It drives along with a percussive beat that will surely turn out to be anything but percussion. Then, All The Way (With Me) stops suddenly leaving the listener wanting more. Hannah and Olly are engaging, honest, and forthright. They make wonderful, innovative music and yes, they are delightful to look at.

Ask Joshua Idehen about image and I dare say he will not be lost for words. A favorite guest on Life Elsewhere, Josh of Hugh and Benin City fame has teamed up with Alabaster DePlume to form Calabashed. With other notable musicians from London, Calabashed has released, Ode To Jazzman John Clarke. This is what Josh says about the track, “So yeah, a story. There used to be a poet on the scene, Jazzman John Clarke. One of the mad ones to be honest. You’d see him at any open mic, pages full of rants and pain and fuckifiknows. But every time we spoke, he was always kind to me, treated me as an equal even when I had just started out. I remember, at a jazz open mic, halfway through a performance, he threw his papers in the air, jumped on the stage and yelled: “I WEAR MY SOUL AS A JACKET!” I didn’t even know what he meant, only that it shook me. I’m glad I got to tell him that night. He passed away, I found out via Facebook. I felt in a way like I could have been more than a poet acquaintance, but that’s another story. This song is in honor of him.” And we are honored to play, Calabashed Ode To Jazzman John Clarke. Thank you Josh for sending the music file over to us.

The image of Dubstep and Drum & Bass may well be a little fuzzy here in the US. None-the-less, these genres of music overlap, encouraging a large fan-base worldwide. With a critical eye on always trying to include as many styles of modern music in my shows, Dubstep and Drum & Bass have become consistent additions. I’m always on the lookout for the exceptional offering, so listen carefully to DJ Squarewave & Frenk Dublin ft. DRS with Word Forbidden on New World Audio. London based DJ Squarewave has been involved in the scene since the age of 16. Having started out buying turntables, collecting records and playing at drum and bass events. So far, I haven’t caught too many pictures of the man, but I have no doubt that he carefully considers his image. You don’t have to dress up to listen to this volume of Life Elsewhere Music, but I do ask you to be aware that para-military clobber on anyone ‘ain’t cool. 

Norman B. 7.18.2020

Rest In Peace John Lewis & C.T. Vivian

The Food Of Dictators. The Music Of Love.

        

Imagine you have the task of cooking meals for a dictator? What was Pol Pot eating while two million Cambodians were dying of hunger? Did Idi Amin really eat human flesh? And why was Fidel Castro obsessed with one particular cow? Traveling across four continents, from the ruins of Iraq to the savannahs of Kenya, award-winning journalist, Witold Szabłowski tracked down the personal chefs of five dictators known for the oppression and massacre of their own citizens—Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Uganda’s Idi Amin, Albania’s Enver Hoxha, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Cambodia’s Pol Pot. Witold listened to their stories over sweet-and-sour soup, goat-meat pilaf, bottles of rum, and games of gin rummy. Witold Szabłowski joins Norman B to talk about his remarkable book, How To Feed A Dictator – Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, And Pol Pot Through The Eyes Of Their Cooks.

Over the last few years, London-based musician and spoken word artist, Josh Idehen has made frequent appearances on Life Elsewhere. First representing his band Hugh and their sublime music, then, more recently as part of Benin City, a three-piece with Tom Leaper and Shanaz Dorsett. “The name Benin City was chosen” says Josh, “because I grew up there, even though I was born in London and we are two-thirds black and two-thirds gay, so it seemed to fit.” It’s the slightly irreverent attitude that comes to the fore in their music. Benin City doesn’t shy away from expressing their opinions, yet they cleverly manage to concoct catchy popish sounds to do it. Their latest single, Hold Them Close was written over a year ago, long before Covid-19. While in isolation, they determined the sentiment of the song was exactly what everyone needed – Hold Them Close. In our conversation, as is typical when talking with Josh, we quickly diverted off into a tangent about politics and the responsibility of governments in the UK and the US. In listing major concerns, Josh touches on a topic not well known outside of the UK, the Windrush scandal a 2018 British political issue concerning people mostly from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Our conversation with Josh Idehen and Tom Leaper was recorded via Zoom and will be available soon. 

Show #374

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