Guest blogger DJ Mogpaws, aka James Bamberger, is a musical treasure hunter, Pan-American multi-linguist and tropical traveler. He is the DJ for the third annual Community Cultural Fair at this year’s festival. He is also a giant fan of Alice Russell, and here are his words and video selections as her Toronto show approaches. — Ed.
There are many talented vocalists on our fair planet, but not a single one of them sounds like Alice Russell. Her distinctive tone, cadence and power immediately latch onto your brain the moment she comes at you from any of her numerous recordings.
As you should know by now, she will be alighting on our fair town as a part of the Uma Nota Festival on Friday, October 18. The Garrison is the venue, and missing this show would be a heinous act worthy of a stern rump hiding with a cricket bat.
There was a moment whilst baked back in 2002 when I came home from Play de Record with a copy of Quantic’s album Apricot Morning that Jason Palma had demanded I procure. It featured Alice Russell on two of the tracks and upon listening, I began to weep like a small schoolgirl being teased for her braces as I’d never heard such a voice on electronic-based music prior to that. It’s been 11 years since then and that whole time she’s been releasing forward-thinking, soulful music that is snuggled in the collections of humans with taste across the globe.
From here, it would be easiest to copy and paste some biographical/discographical facts from Wikipedia or the official Alice Russell website, but aren’t you already on the Internet? (For now, we implore you to keep reading and spelunking the wondrous caves of the Uma Nota blog.)
As a fellow who grew up on The Simpsons, the fact that Alice had Harry Shearer — the voice of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Lenny, Smithers and other characters — slowly cross-dress into herself in the video for Heartbreaker was a special moment of cultural hybrid for myself and quite a few other Earth residents.
And although that particular song wasn’t my favourite from her recent To Dust album, the remix by Falty DL is a sincerely nice slab of naughty, bass-heavy beatsmithing that demonstrates Ms. Russell also has a great ear for producers who can take her work and expand it into new, diverse territories.
It would be a joy to now ramble on about the world going bonkers for her cover of 7 Nation Army, or how some people actually shat their pants with joy while dancing one Saturday night at Footprints to Music Takes me Up, a smashing collaboration with Mr. Scruff. But I shall refrain.
It’s a rare treat to have one of modern soul music’s greatest contributors on a Toronto stage. (If I’m not mistaken, the last time she was here was in 2009 while touring her Pot of Gold album.) Who knows when you can catch a glimpse of her here next, so come out on October 18 for Lady Russell with her high-calibre six-piece band, as well as Phil Motion & the Easy Lo-Fi, Marques Toliver, and the man whose butt we all wanna squeeze, General Eclectic.
Here’s a recent live performance worth checking out from KEXP in Seattle a few months ago:
— DJ Mogpaws (James Bamberger)
Alice Russell performs at the World Soul Party on Friday, October 18, with Phil Motion & Easy Lo-Fi, General Eclectic and Marques Toliver. Co-presented by World Famous Music. More info and tickets here. Facebook event page here.