RETRO REVIEW: Sophie Fiennes Pays Tribute to Fierce, No Holds Barred Rebel Grace Jones with her GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI Documentary, opening at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema April 27

Posted on: Apr 24th, 2018 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI (2017); Dir. Sophie Fiennes; Starring Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly & Robbie; Opens Friday, April 27 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

Grace Jones has affectionately been dubbed an “iconic extraterrestrial” raising the bar of hardcore, rebellious femininity. Sophie Fiennes’ [THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY (2012)/dir.; THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO CINEMA (2006)/dir.] portrayal of the larger-than life pop icon transports Jones back to earth, exposing the soft underbelly Jones’ audiences rarely get a chance to experience. Nearly five years in the making, Fiennes followed Jones during the recording of her 2008 album, HURRICANE and through her 2009 World Tour, giving audiences a small glimpse into the life of the legendary Ms. Jones in the first feature-length documentary dedicated solely to the pop music icon, also known for her roles in CYBER BANDITS (1995); A VIEW TO A KILL (1985); CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984) and more.

Throughout the film, Fiennes dynamically paints Jones’ story using bright reds, blues and greens, explaining that “Bloodlight” in Jones’ regional Jamaican dialect refers to the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording. The film opens on Jones belting out “Slave to the Rhythm” during her 2009 World Tour and then we’re transported back in time to Jamaica where she’s preparing to record HURRICANE. It’s during this trip that she reunites with family and friends and we are slowly acquainted with Jones’ childhood demons   which helped create the androgynous, gender-defying powerful presence we all know and adore, Grace Jones.

On stage, Jones is a GOD. She is a GODDESS. In fact, she’s both—a chameleon channeling the extremes of societal roles. Throughout the film we are given the chance to experience Jones’ dynamic live stage show with performances of her new wave/post-punk tune, “Pull Up to the Bumper,” originally released on her 1981 NIGHTCLUBBING album, and “Williams’ Blood,” released in 2008 as part of HURRICANE. In the short span of 115 minutes, Fiennes gently exposes Jones’ traumatic history while giving Jones the ability to enlighten her fans on how she became the icon we’ve all grown to admire.  Jones delves deep into her past, exposing the trauma she faced as a child perpetuated by her stepfather, Master Patrick (Mas. P). Jones details her transformation from real-life woman to domineering stage presence, stating, “I’m playing out Mas P. That’s why I’m scary. That’s the male dominant scary person I become.”

Jones was born in Jamaica and was transplanted to Syracuse, New York as a young teen. She rose to stardom having the gift to mesmerize crowds and soon became a muse to many artists and photographers, including photographer Jean-Paul Gaude, father of Jones’ son, Paulo Gaude. She wears many masks (literally and figuratively) in the entertainment industry, from singer/songwriter to record producer to supermodel to movie star. Fiennes touches on many of these aspects of Jones’ life throughout the film. We get a chance to unmask the artist as we delve further into her more domesticated roles as mother, grandmother, sister, lover, and friend, or what in Jones’ regional dialect is dubbed, “bami,” bread, the substance of daily life.

Fiennes hand-delivers an intimate portrait of a behind-the-scenes “real life” Jones, blended with her gargantuan, overtly experimental avant-garde, cutting-edge stage presence. Fittingly, Fiennes utilizes sharp cuts and fades as she ever so slowly reveals the tale of Jones’ childhood through the memories provided by Jones’ family and friends. GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI is a film well worth experiencing, especially for those who have a deep love for pop culture. If you are hungry for brutally amazing strong female leads, Fiennes’ documentary is exactly what you need. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian brilliantly says of Fiennes’ film, “It’s a reminder that films about female singing stars need not be gallant tributes to tragically doomed fragility.”

Grace Jones is anything but fragile, and if there ever was a glass ceiling holding her back, you can rest assured that she smashed it to unrecognizable bits with poise and grace, as she so delicately puts it, “Sometimes you have to be a high flying bitch.”

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Kool Kat of the Week: Scott Walker Making Love to Joy Division: Jack Shaw of Atlanta’s The Head Talks About What It’s Like to Come Home to MILLIPEDES

Posted on: Nov 24th, 2015 By:

millipedesBy Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

Atlanta trio The Head are wrapping up their 20-date tour and return from the road just in time for Thanksgiving. Come out and join them to celebrate the release of their new five-song EP MILLIPEDES at the Drunken Unicorn this Saturday, Nov. 28.  Sydney Eloise & The Palms and Chelsea Shag are also on the bill.

Jack Shaw (drums), Mike Shaw (lead vocals/bass) and Jacob Morrell (guitar) have been playing together since they were teenagers at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, and list among their influences The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen and R.E.M. This knowledge and appreciation of pop music’s past led Blurt magazine to call them “Atlanta’s youngest rock ‘n’ roll veterans.”

The youngsters have already worked with legendary R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, Jody Stephens of Big Star and John Vanderslice, but decided to produce their latest batch of songs themselves, a first for the band. “I feel like we’re still learning, now more than ever,” said Mike Shaw. “And we’re enjoying every bit of what we’re learning.”

AtlRetro caught up with Kool Kat of the Week Jack Shaw to find out more about the new EP, the tour and what’s ahead for The Head.

ATLRetro: First of all, I’m sure you guys are sick to death of this question, so let’s get it out of the way: Why “The Head?”

Jack Shaw: We wanted something short, sweet and weird sounding. We thought “The Head” captured all of that. It’s simple enough and makes people scratch their chins.

According to your bio, the three of you are still in your early 20s. How did you come together?

Mike and I are twins, so we’ve been playing music together our whole lives. We met Jacob during our freshman year of high school. We decided to form a band with him once we found out he played guitar and listened to the same bands as us.

The Head [L-R]: Jack Shaw, Mike Shaw, Jacob Morrell Photo by Valheria Rocha.

The Head [L-R]: Jack Shaw, Mike Shaw, Jacob Morrell Photo by Valheria Rocha.

What music were you listening to when you decided to form a band? Do you think this was/is different than what others your age listen to?

We were listening to a whole bunch of stuff ranging from The Stone Roses and Pavement to Frank Sinatra and the Velvet Underground. Most of our classmates at the time were listening to P. Diddy and The Fray, so, yes, there was definitely a big difference. We find a lot more common ground with people our age now, though.

How would you describe your music to the curious?

Scott Walker making love with Joy Division.

Is this your first major tour? How’s life on the road? Is it what you expected?

We’ve done a few seasonal legs of touring before, but this is our first time being out on the road for months at a time. We’re having a blast and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Since the end of October, you’ve played Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Boston. How are you being received? Are the crowds different than in Atlanta?

We’ve been met with great reception. The crowds all over really dig what we’re doing and dance a lot, especially to our newer songs. Some of the crowds are a little different from Atlanta in their own ways. All of them, regardless of the city, are on the younger side. We’ve enjoyed every city, but New Orleans and Boston are definitely among our favorites.

The Head could very well be the next Atlanta band to enjoy serious national attention for years to come. Do you have any favorite local acts?

Yeah, we really love what Tedo Stone and Sydney Eloise & The Palms are doing. We also really dig Chelsea Shag. All of those guys put on great live shows. There are, of course, several other local bands we respect. The list can go on.

The Head play the Drunken Unicorn on Sat. Nov. 28. Check out three tracks from MILLIPEDE here.

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Kool Kat of the Week: One Will Burn’s Todd Caras Tears Apart Famous Pub with a Joy Division Tribute Night

Posted on: Jun 28th, 2012 By:

A free Joy Division Tribute Night this Friday June 29 at 9 p.m. at Famous Pub & Sports Bar in Toco Hills?! Being an old-school, heavy duty acolyte of Joy Division, who at one time drew my nose up even at New Order in loyalty to the ghost of Ian Curtis, ATLRetro had to prick up my ears. Turns out 1WB, aka One Will Burn, is a very recent entry to the Atlanta music scene (they played their first gig May 7, 2012!), but is made up of some seasoned Atlanta musicians, including vocalist Ross Henderson and bassist Todd Caras (Methods of Espionage), guitarist Michael Church and drummer David Goodwin (Other Voices, Candy Apple Black). Sleep The Owls and The Flannels also are on the bill as opening acts. In sum, the idea of a band dedicated to keeping Curtis’s ghost alive in the 21st century was so compelling that it just seemed to make perfectly unnatural sense to make Todd Kool Kat of the Week if only to find out why?

ATLRetro: Why a Joy Division tribute band in 2012?

Todd Caras: Like many who collect music or perform in band, I have personally experienced/seen a wide generational gap in what bands/sounds influence today’s 20-somethings. My generation – I’m nearly 40 – were influenced by bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, etc., and developed a connection with contemporary bands such as Interpol, The Doves and Suede not so long ago, etc. who draw directly from the same influences. Today’s 20-somethings are listening to bands who are influenced by bands who were influenced by the early 4AD/Rough Trade post-punk groups; there’s practically three to four generations of distance and separation leaving us with some very watered-down hints of what used to be. Nothing wrong with it. It’s inevitable, natural, but ultimately sad.  I personally feel that bands of Joy Division’s ilk were the last major movement in music from a creative standpoint. Yes, you had the shoe-gazers in the early ‘90s, and then grunge, and later the garage rock revival of the early 2000s; but they all drew from a warmed-over idea.

I understand One Will Burn was founded somewhat by accident. What’s the story?

One Will Burn was hastily formed by members of a few local bands in town to play a show and fill in for a band that couldn’t make it out. Our front man Ross and I belong to the band Methods of Espionage and were asked to fill a slot at a local venue, but two members of our band were out of town. Still wanting to play the show and help a friend -plus we wanted to help a struggling local venue, THE MUSIC ROOM – we pushed forward and reached out to drummer David Goodwin of Other Voices and Candy Apple Black. The trio decided to play a Joy Division tribute set since they had listened to the legends for years and knew the songs already. One Will Burn played the show and were so well received they decided to pursue the project seriously, since adding guitarist Michael Church.

Todd Caras of 1WB. Photo courtesy of 1WB.

How did you decide on the name?

After a one-night practice session with less than 24 hours before the show, we came up with 1WB – a name we came up with in two minutes from a lyric in Joy Division’s “Heart and Soul” – “One Will Burn.” I personally like it because it is enigmatic, looks like a British postal code, a license plate number, etc.  It [also] gives us the opportunity to use this moniker, should we turn into an original material band, which may be in the cards.

When/how did you discover Joy Division and what does JD mean personally to you?

I discovered them by accident in high school. I had a collection of cassette tapes – yes, cassette tapes – some belonged to others, some from my sister’s numerous boyfriends, etc. I was looking through them one evening and came across Joy Division’s “Still,” which contains live performance material. It made me sick to hear it! I hated it! I couldn’t stand the overuse of chorus effect all the time. The recording was old – 1979/1980? – so I’m sure that the original taping source was speeding up and slowing down – and you can hear it. Joy Division was playing sloppy, ferocious and fast as usual. Ian was bumming his notes every so often. Bernard had mistakenly left the pitch bender on his keyboard in the “on” position during “Decades” which created horrible sounds. Hook’s bass was too low, etc. etc. etc. I hated it! And kept returning to it, listening to it to see just how much I hated it.

I was trying to picture the way their singer (Ian) looked, based on his vocals; in my mind I kept seeing an older Bob Mould type. Obviously, I was dead wrong.  After discovering – pre-Internet days, mind you – what they looked like [and] spending many hours at Tower Records, pouring over “fanzines” for images and information, I discovered an immediate connection as they appeared to be “nobodies” from a “nobody” town with plain clothing – kind of like The Smiths. It was an image completely separate from punk or heavy metal. It is what you would see in the mirror.

Being a blossoming – horrible – musician at the time (bass, keyboards, drums), their music was easy to play (not easy to write, however) and accessible to a novice like myself – yet, their sounds created imagery. They spoke before the lyrics. After discovering the darker – unfortunate – background surrounding Joy Division, my intrigue was permanent. I learned to like them because they provided me a more “butch,” tough,” “dodgy” set of heroes to worship, apart from “nice heroes” like Depeche Mode.

Being a suburban sports bar, Famous Pub seems an odd location for a dark proto-industrial/goth band tribute show. Tell me why it’ll be perfect.

As the story goes, Joy Division started out in a bar/venue completely unsuited to their style of music, whatever it was at the time. I’m sure it was an odd place for such a gathering. Perhaps, today, playing such music at a place like the Famous Pub is almost as fitting in a way. We also anticipate that many of the old school fans of Joy Division have moved away from the city and started families, etc. Perhaps this venue is accessible to them given its proximity between the city and the ‘burbs. On the other hand, perhaps we can encourage the goth/industrial types to take this place over!!!! And, lastly……….it was available.

Anything special planned for the show?

Other than trying to look the part and sound the part, we will keep the theatrics to a minimum and stick to presenting the music as close to the way it was originally presented as possible – including some of the early, low-tech, outdate, electronic blips and synth sounds of Joy Division’s era. The set list is loaded with all of the popular and not so popular Joy division tracks. We are most proud to present some of the more obscure songs.   More importantly, there are some songs that Joy Division never properly played live in the first place. There was always some technical difficulty or reason why the song was always “butchered” live. Now is our time to rectify that, I hope?

What’s next for One Will Burn?

In the immediate future, our next show will be July 28 at Kavarna in the Oakhurst neighborhood of Decatur. It’s a fitting set of scenery and architecture for the music we are playing, we think.  Overall we plan to enjoy this project some more, play more shows, attract more audience who want to celebrate Joy Division, etc. However, given how the four of us click well musically, I imagine 1WB becoming an original band. All four of us write original song material; it’s no accident that we all found each other.

What else do you do when you’re not resurrecting Joy Division?  

I play in an original post-punk band called Methods of Espionage. During the day, I am an executive headhunter, providing companies/clients with highly sought-after, niche, talent for mission-critical roles within their organizations.  I get to put people to work – I like that! On occasion, I get to bump around from time to time with people who make a difference in the professional world in Atlanta, which is highly rewarding. I’m happily married; my wife and I called Northwest Atlanta home – for better or for worse.

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