Monday, March 20, 2006

True Stories

Friday we heard Billy Bang play at Sweet Rhythm. He had a film crew there filming for a future documentary. I’m starting to feel like the Zelig of under-distributed docs. You can catch the back of my head in Running in High Heels, and I was also a Vartan’s when donnie betts was filming Oscar Brown: Music is My Life. Since we were pretty close to the bandstand, you might well be able to catch us if they use the footage.

The first two sets we heard were fantastic, so they should have some great footage. At times Bang nearly saws his violin in two. At other times he plucks pizzicato getting Eastern sounds from his instrument.

Bang played several selections from his Vietnam: Reflections and Vietnam: the Aftermath CDs. Bang served in Vietnam, and the experience informs his music. He became politically radicalized on his return, even getting involved with a Black Power paramilitary group. According to Bang, he and the crew were heading to DC to film at the Vietnam Memorial for a week, and then they would be off for five weeks of filming in Vietnam.

When they examine the aftermath in-country, one would hope they remember the whole legacy. Hundreds of thousands of refugees risked their lives on boats and rafts when the North took over. Countless more were interred in re-education camps. Poverty and hopelessness became the way of life for everyone. War can definitely be hellish, but sometimes peace is Hell on Earth.