Buffy Sainte-Marie on Okawimaw askiy

Buffy Sainte-Marie fits into the ethos of my zine perfectly. The point of this magazine is to talk about artists that I admire that champion a cause using art and music to engender this change.

Buffy is an artist that provokes memories of my childhood days. She is a visual artist, singer, songwriter, activist and pacifist. She is an advocate for the protection of this planet and its peoples and her music and words certainly shout this out.

I had the extreme honour and pleasure of photographing Buffy on her latest world tour to promote her thought provoking album – Power in the Blood. The venue was the Brooklyn Bowl at the 02 (worthy of a mention, for it relaxed and informal atmosphere).

The audience were fairly relaxed and laid back; certainly not  the  usual crowds that I am used to. They waited eagerly for Buffy’s stage entrance and when she walked on stage, she walked into an arena of raucous roaring of sheer admiration.

She is a small lady but what an amazing voice she has – she truly sings from the heart and means every word she sings. Her performance was tribal, strong and totally alive: The set was bursting with pure energy and certainly had the audience  (including myself) reeling and jumping around. Throughout the evening Buffy was quoting from one of her lectures about our own responsibilities to help each other and our planet, to speak up against greed – for it is greed that is truly destroying our world and its inhabitants – and it always has been.

She wrote a song called No No Keshagesh (Keshagesh is a Cree word that roughly translates as greedy guts) this song is about the rape of this planet and the destruction of peoples by the elite few, to pillage the Earth resources for monetary gain. It is an impressive song that has an hypnotic Native American tribal beat running through it. This song certainly impressed me.

The set was laced with some of Buffy’s love songs including, Until its Time for You to Go. This is one of her most well known songs and was recorded by many artists including Elvis Presley and Shirley Bassey. Buffy’s rendition of her own song certainly brought a tear to my eye and to a few other people’s. Her set was contemporary, but isn’t that Buffy anyway? She has always been different, not fitting into the mould, but why should she? Why should any of us, for that matter? Her music does not fit into any box. She is a free and expressive spirit that has many wise words to deliver, and if music and art is her way of delivering it, then that is all good. For music and art has the power to effect change.

Buffy echoes my own feelings on life, as an artist, Mother, woman and lover of life with all of it’s beautiful diversity. Her songs to me are not protest songs but rather songs of guidance. WE would all do well to listen to her words – to learn from the past and act now to protect our futures, our children and our planet.

The Power of Lanois – in retrospect

Well I hold my hands up, had I heard of Daniel Lanois? The answer was no! Well I hadn’t but what an impressive musical history this man has.

Lanois is an established recording artist in his own right. although he is probably best known as a producer to such artists as Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Brian Eno.  He also produced albums for U2 this includes the album The Joshua Tree.

Daniel has won seven Grammy awards and been nominated for a further four… Impressive credentials, most definitely.

I walked into the packed arena not quite knowing what to expect. The crowd were not your typical saturday night rockers. In fact they were rather an eclectic bunch – pretty quiet too. But once Lanois started playing I could hear why. This man mesmerised the crowd with his eclectic musical style that was somewhere between  country, tribal, rock and rave. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the sound – but did I need to? I think not. His music spoke for itself. the trippy visual extravaganza in the background only added to the experience.

I didn’t know this guy, but, oh boy! Did I know his music. His musical influence is so great that his set (a pretty ad hoc one, so his keyboard player told me) seemed familiar. Rolling Stone called Daniel Lanois the ‘most important record producer to emerge in the eighties.”

I can honestly say that I was moved to tears during his performance. He played the steel guitar beautifully and a dreamlike ambience filled the auditorium.

An eclectic performance that went from the almost angelic to electronic drum machines and white noise crashing down strangely reminiscent of a 90’s Spiral Tribe event.

The Encore was beautiful Lanois and the band were joined by Rocco DeLuca and performed DeLuca’s track Congretate – it was this that drew me to tears… This was an experience I am unlikely to forget.

Lanois music has both energy and power. He is a man that is totally at one with whatever instrument he chooses to play. I came away in total awe of this guy, that hid beneath the peak of his baseball cap most of the night.

I can only apologise for the lateness of this review. but it is something where I just did not know where to start… Now thats a first!

Daniel Lanois  at Islington Assembly Hall London on 14 April 2015