Theme: Music

Vondel park, Amsterdam. A summer’s day. Most are lighting up a joint to relax. Canada is legalizing marijuana this year so I thought it would be ok to show how shocking this will be. Imagine this picture as the Toronto’s Harbour-Front next summer.

John Lee Hooker: Blues came directly from slavery. It’s roots were exploitation. He was born in 1912 to a sharecropper. Ran away from home at 14. Illiterate. Self-taught, he became a prolific lyricist. He is singing, ‘Bartender, One Bourbon, One Scotch, one Beer.’

Book store: Santiago de Cuba: Musicians there play where they can.

Allan Youngblood: ‘You got to have adventure. You got to have heart to survive. Gotta be stretchin’ yourself. In St. Croix everybody was pissed off with me. I had my job, my family. St Croix is a small island, “You gonna do what!? Leave!” I gave myself two years. If it didn’t work out at least it was out of my system. It worked out.

Ben Verkaaik, a great ‘realist’ artist. Worked in advertising and publication – a good training ground - before fine art. For a time we had the same agent.

Concertgebouw Amsterdam: A friend, photographer Dudley Witney, and I attended a lunch concert in Amsterdam. Sketched from the 3rd row.

Karsu: Turkish, Dutch, singer, songwriter. She was named after the village Karsu in Turkey. Her music is best described as jazz-pop. She performed at Carnegie Hall when she was 17, and twice since then. That’s how good she is. (google KARSU) and listen.

Café Beirut, Lebanon: Waiting for a journalist.

Mac Mackenzie: I walked into the big music store in Cape Town and asked who The best jazz/goema musician was. They all said Mac McKenzie. He lived in the townships. With the help of a taxi driver, I found him. His elderly mother opened the door and told me he was in his studio in the back yard. He greeted me and put the kettle on for tea. ‘Cape Town,’ he said, ‘was the one port everyone had to come to. Our music, Goema, is a mix of Indian, Kooi, San, Malaysian, English and more. It’s our carnival music. I learned to play by ear and taught myself to write so I could get royalties and put bread on the table, which is what we all want to do in life.’ (lots of YouTube.)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s’ Nest: By chance I was told this play was being performed in Toronto. I got a ticket and sketched from the third row. Ken Kesey wrote the book in ’59 when he worked the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in California. The characters of the patients and staff in his book come from this time. Like George Orwell, Kesey tells a story of a man wanting to be himself in a world of increasing control. He was also able to experiment with LSD, as a path to his own individual freedom which may have aided the story and I wondered if the title came from one of his ‘trips.’

One flew east,
And one flew west,
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.

Cuckoo, meaning ‘crazy.’