The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the city's Park District teamed up in December 2012 to present this free family concert with Dee Alexander. As we air it on JazzSet a year later, Alexander is just back from performing the show in Poland where, she writes, "everyone was on their feet."
The first half is a non-stop, 30-minute tribute to Jimi Hendrix followed by a hearty South Shore Cultural Center countdown to 2013. "Auld Lang Syne" morphs into "Ain't It Funky Now." See photo No. 5 in our gallery for Alexander's costume change ("I'm wearin' hot pants!") for the James Brown half. As she yells to the crowd, "Everybody down here on the floor. I don't want to dance by myself!" we have evidence of the people's compliance in photo No. 6.
DownBeat's David Whiteis points out that the Evolution Arkestra is 50 percent a string ensemble "alternating between furiously picked pizzicato runs and stuttering arco groans, and occasionally joining forces to create window-rattling sonic booms. Guitarist Scott Hesse invoked Hendrix's visionary fury by using precision, dynamic flexibility and rhythmic drive to build intensity and create music almost as riveting as anything Jimi could have summoned with his fabled high-velocity fusillades."
In the mid-1960s, Hendrix sang a heart-stopping plea for restraint: "Hey, Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?" Alexander revisits "Hey Joe" only days after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. She cries out, "Stop the violence! Put the guns down!" It's unforgettable.
Alexander is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Chicago magazine named her the singer of the year 2009. This past August, she sang her new show Songs My Mother Loved at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Our guest host is Toast of the Nation's Rhonda Hamilton, and we note NPR's Suraya Mohamed's great post-production of the live concert for New Year's Eve 2012. It airs with minimal changes, this week on JazzSet.
- Dee Alexander, voice
- Miguel de la Cerna, piano
- Tomeka Reid, cello
- Harrison Bankhead, bass
- Junius Paul, bass
- Scott Hesse, guitar
- Yusef Ernie Adams, percussion
Jimi Hendrix Set
- "The Star-Spangled Banner"
- "Little Wing"
- "Who Knows"
- "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire"
- "Purple Haze"
- "If Six Was Nine"
- "Hey Joe" (Billy Roberts)
- "Auld Lang Syne"
James Brown Set
- "Ain't It Funky Now"
- "I Got the Feelin'"
- "Licking Stick"
- "Living In America"
- "Soul Power"
- "It's A Man's Man's Man's World"
Timothy Powell/Metro Mobile Recording, recording and mix engineer; Dayna Calderón, field producer. Recorded at South Shore Cultural Center, Dec. 7, 2012. Special thanks to the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Lauren Deutsch and the Chicago Park District.
We're preparing to bid adieu to 2013, which means it's time for the ever-reliable year-end lists. NPR's Book Concierge lets you explore the best books of the year. NPR Music chronicled the best albums. And Twitter is out with the biggest tweets and most-tweeted moments of 2013.
Twitter trends show us that as a nation, we used the 140-character service widely to mark the second inauguration of President Obama, and to discuss the Washington gridlock that dominated most of the year — the government shutdown in the fall was widely chronicled on the social media service.
The world came together to celebrate the new pope and at year's end, mourn the death of Nelson Mandela. And as a go-to platform people to get information instantaneously — the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt played out frenetically on Twitter.
In a noticeable difference between the top tweeted moments and the top moments shared on Facebook (which released its year-end list Wednesday), it was decidedly Twitter buzz, not other social platforms, that helped fuel the rise of a political star — Texas state senator Wendy Davis, who is now running for governor in the Lone Star State.
It was also a big year for Twitter itself, with the company announcing it would go public — and joining the New York Stock Exchange — in early November. (Though tweets about the business of Twitter did not top the year's list of most tweeted-about events.)
According to Twitter data, the year's most-retweeted messages were all by entertainers sharing loss, love, and celebration.
1. Glee star Lea Michele's goodbye to co-star Cory Monteith
2. The confirmation of actor Paul Walker's death
3. One Direction band member's birthday
The most-retweeted tweet, seen below, came from Lea Michele, making her first public comment on the overdose death of her co-star and real life boyfriend Monteith. Twitter says that at its peak, her tweet was shared 408,266 times by fans. A photo of another famous couple was the most retweeted message of 2012 — President Obama embracing first lady Michelle Obama after he was re-elected.
Somewhere between a food pantry and a traditional grocery store lays an opportunity to help feed those in need.
Enter so-called "social supermarkets," a European model that offers discounted food exclusively to those in poverty. The stores have grown in popularity across the continent and this week, the U.K. opened its first. Dubbed Community Shop, the store is located in an impoverished former mining town in South Yorkshire.
Part discount grocer, part social service agency, the supermarkets are for members only. Membership is free, but it is limited to those who can prove they receive some form of welfare benefits. Members can save up to 70 percent on food that has been rejected by grocers because it might be mislabeled, have damaged packaging or be nearing an expiration date. That food is still edible, though, so instead of getting thrown away, it's donated with a waiver of liability.
Christina Holweg is a professor who studies social supermarkets at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria. Unlike food pantries, she says, the stores are designed for people who might have their own house and a job, but are still struggling to make ends meet.
"We're talking about a target group that really needs it, and a target group that is really proud and eager to stay on their own feet," she tells The Salt.
She calls the stores a "win-win-win" for everyone involved: manufacturers and retailers, customers, and the nonprofits that typically run the social supermarkets. The environment also benefits, since less food ends up in landfills.
"I've never seen any disadvantage if it's implemented the proper way," she says. "It also helps society to reduce its welfare costs."
The social supermarket model has flourished in Europe since the 2008 economic downturn. Holweg says there are now about 1,000 stores spread across the continent, including France, Austria, Belgium, Luxemborg, Romania and Switzerland. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Holweg thinks a key reason the model works so well is that the stores don't give away food. Customers have a choice while shopping, even if the prices are symbolic.
"They are still treated as a customer. They can even return or exchange a product if it's not good," she says. "And this, to me, makes a major difference."
In addition to cutting down their grocery bills, customers can take classes on cooking, budgeting, resume writing and more. Stores periodically review memberships, and Holweg says the goal is to help get customers out of poverty and on their way back to shopping at traditional grocery stores.
The social supermarkets themselves are not designed to be one-stop shopping in the first place: Because of how they stock their shelves, selection could differ widely from one visit to another. For example, oil, butter and flour can be hard to come by.
The U.K. store — Community Shop — is a subsidiary of the British Company Shop, a commercial firm that redistributes surplus food and goods, and will be stocked with donations from major retailers and manufacturers. Sarah Dunwell, Company Shop's director of environment and social affairs, says the stores are a way to be kind to both people and the environment.
"Industry surplus is hard to avoid, but what Community Shop shows is that if we all work together, we can make sure that surplus food delivers lasting social good," Dunwell said in a statement.
If the location in South Yorkshire proves successful, Company Shop hopes to replicate the social supermarket model in London and other cities next year. And with 4 million people without enough food in the U.K., there may be plenty of opportunity.
With just a few weeks left before a deadline to get health coverage, lingering bugs lurk in the part of HealthCare.gov that you can't see. And time is running out to get things right.
Consumers have to sign up for a health insurance exchange — and pay their first month's premium — by the end of December if they want coverage in January.
"The short time period presents a number of challenges," says Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Plans, an insurance industry trade group.
The 834 forms — electronic files sent from HealthCare.gov's back end to insurance companies — must have accurate and complete data in order for a consumer to be considered fully enrolled.
The White House is projecting confidence: "We have a team of experts working both through technological fixes but also through some elbow grease going through and confirming that that information is conveyed accurately and completely, to confirm that they'll be signed up for health care and eligible to get covered on January 1st," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
But the Obama administration estimates one in 10 forms are still problematic, an improvement from one in four bad forms in October and November.
And challenges go beyond processing. Since health plans won't start coverage until they're paid, anyone mailing in a check will have to get it in quickly.
"If an enrollee does not pay their first month's premium by December 31, their enrollment will be void. So far, the health plans I have spoken to have seen only about 20% percent of their enrollees pay their premium," health industry consultant Bob Laszewski wrote in his blog Thursday.
"The situation everyone wants to avoid is a situation in which consumers think they're enrolled when they're not. Or the situation where they find out that they're not enrolled when they try to schedule an appointment to see a doctor," Zirkelbach says.
Then, there's the work of reconciling the government enrollment records with the data received by insurance companies.
"I don't think you can be confident that everyone who is enrolled will have a plan until we can do a reconciliation between the government records and the insurance company records," Laszewski told NPR.
The work of reconciling files just got started Wednesday, when health officials sent spreadsheets of their latest enrollment data to insurers to cross-check records. Zirkelbach says it's a significant step.
"It will for the first time give us the size and scope of the technical challenges that exist," he says. For all the focus on technology in recent weeks, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that reconciliation work is getting done manually.
"We are in the process of actually hand-matching individuals with insurance companies," she told lawmakers in a Wednesday hearing.
With the deadlines getting closer and December enrollments surging ahead of the deadline, whatever remaining challenges exist will need to be resolved in a hurry.
"You should probably call your insurance plan, the one you've believe you've enrolled in. Just verify that you've in fact enrolled," Laszewski says.
The leader of massive anti-government protests in Thailand says the chiefs of the country's military branches and police force have agreed to meet and hear him out on "political reforms," — a move likely to spark concern over a possible coup similar to the one that overthrew the prime minister in 2006.
The Bangkok Post reports that Suthep Thaugsuban, who has already declared a self-styled parallel administration and called for Thailand's elected government to be replaced with an appointed council, told a crowd of supporters that the supreme commanders of the army, navy, air force and police would meet him on Saturday. He said they had agreed to hear his ideas for political reform in the country of 65 million.
The report comes on the same day that "yellow-shirt" supporters of Suthep's People's Democratic Reform Committee stormed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's office in the capital, Bangkok, and shut off the electricity to the building. Yingluck, who has said she will not use force against the protesters, was outside the capital when the takeover occurred.
"I thank the supreme commander and the armed force leaders for allowing [yellow shirt] leaders to represent the people and to directly clarify the will of the masses and to explain why they have risen up to fight for changes in the country, instead of communicating with them through the press," Suthep said.
The latest round of unrest in Thailand heated up last month when the lower house of parliament passed an amnesty bill that would have paved the way for the return of Yingluck's self-exiled billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in the 2006 coup and still faces corruption charges.
Yingluck's government later withdrew the amnesty bill and earlier this month dissolved parliament and called for early elections to be held on Feb. 2 in what has so far been an unsuccessful attempt to quell the mass demonstrations. She has also issued a call for talks with the protesters.
On Thursday, Suthep told a business group in the capital that he would "do everything to stop the next election," according to the Post.
"I'm confident that I can do it," he reportedly said.
The legacy of Thaksin, a telecom tycoon who served as premier for five years beginning in 2001, roughly splits the country roughly between middle- and upper-class urban Thais who opposed his populist policies and poorer, rural Thais, from the country's north and northeast rice-growing regions. The yellow shirts accuse him of corruption in both his government and business dealings and oppose rice subsidies and a low-cost health scheme for the poor enacted during his tenure.
Protest leader Suthep, who as deputy prime minister oversaw the police and army in a 2010 crackdown on pro-Thaksin "red shirt" protesters that left about 90 dead and more than 2,000 wounded, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to murder charges related to the crackdown. The prime minister at the time of the crackdown, Abhisit Vejjajiva, also faces murder charges.