Where our intrepid editorial team takes an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.
Usually it's sax/flute genius Dave Fitzgerald who walks off with the Most On Stage Performances During A Single Greenbelt Award but while our hero was limiting his appearance to a single mangling of old R&B classics with The Fat Band (now called The Big Fat Band and clearly paying no attention to the Jo Ind Greenbelt seminar Fat Is A Spiritual Issue), Alan Hewitt, he of the Electrics, anything with keyboards and lugubrious air, was playing Mainstage with the Electrics, Julie Miller and Scottish Nick-Cave-with-faith unit Calvin's Dream. Congrats Alan.
Talking of fat people, Greybeard Cummings finally succumbed to the Lord's continual barrage and agreed to go on a diet. Was it Ms Ind's seminar? Was it the book Fat Is A Spiritual Issue on sale in the Resources Tent? Was it the hectoring of Chris Cole, currently on a fat free diet that was God's chosen instrument to bring conviction of sin? No, it was a throwaway comment from fellow flab fighter Glenn Kaiser. A photo of slimline Cole, Cummings and Kaiser will follow in due course.
And on the subject of Glenn Kaiser, the venerable heavy rocker was espied in the noisy bustle of the Greenbelt village in rapt conversation about early gospel music and the true origins of rock, jazz and blues. As names like Blind Willie Johnson, Arizona Dranes and Horace Sprott (I lie to you not) tumbled from their lips, Dave Williams, organiser of October's rad rock teach-in Meltdown, momentarily stopped telling all and sundry about the birth of baby Timothy to his wife Lynn, to announce that Meltdown this year will have an extra seminar, Rapping The Blues: The Gospel Origins Of Rock Music, where Kaiser And Cummings will talk history and play music (recorded, on Cummings' part, we're thankful to report). A tape of the meeting will be made and you'll be able to read an article based on the rap session in a future Cross Rhythms.
Did you think the writers of encyclopaedias are objective? Better read the tome The Penguin Encyclopaedia Of Popular Music. In this, the tome's editor Donald Clarke writes the entry on Gospel Music. Spending most of the page entry on black gospel from Blind Willie Johnson to the Staple Singers Mr Clarke begrudgingly finds he has to make some comment on white contemporary Christian music. He's clearly out of his depth, arbitrarily selecting a few CCM names, telling readers that "Leslie Phillips is called 'Queen Of Christian Rock'" (by whom?) and after sneering at the "poppish crooning" of Amy Grant tells readers that "contemporary white urban gospel is of little musical importance." A random dip into the encyclopaedia shows there are no such observations levelled at such popular music giants as the Merseybeats, Barry Manilow or Frankie Vaughan. Ho hum.
Recently it was ranting reverends lashing rap lyrics at the very time Run-DMC took a gospel-orientated rap album to Number One in the R&B chart. Now it seems the fundamentalist reverends have demonstrated their uncanny bad timing" again. This time it was Nashville reverends who claimed that Music City is "losing the battle for righteousness" and "is betraying its Godly roots by wallowing in demonic themes of lust and escapism. Country music videos have too much T-and-A and themes of infidelity and self-pity are too much in the forefront." This report was hardly out their mouths when thousands of Christians were taking a March For Jesus through Nashville with many top country singers including Ricky Skaggs and Naomi Judd highly visible. Ricky recently told author James C Hefley in his book Country Music Comin' Home, "The Lord is using country music to speak morals, wisdom, truth and righteous lifestyles to people."
Veteran Christian producer Michael Omartian has always been versatile but his latest project takes the cake...literally, on a new series 'Bon Appetit', released in the States by K-Tel in conjunction with Entertaining With Style, a popular food and beverage magazine. The series features classical music produced and performed by Omartian. This is one album a dieting Cummings won't be reviewing.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.