David Amram @ Democratic National Convention

Jazz composer and ethnomusicologist David Amram, a longtime friend of LitKicks who also happens to be one of the friendliest, least snobbish and most positive people I’ve ever met, is the Composer in Residence at the Democratic National Convention which begins tonight in Denver, Colorado.

This seems to have been inspired by Denver’s famous role as the spiritual vortex of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road as the hometown of main character Dean Moriarty, based on real-life Denver-raised Beatnik Neal Cassady. I think it’s pretty cool that we have a presidential candidate whose staff knows enough about Beat literature to think this up. I wish I could be at some of these events, but I’m stuck in New York.

As my own contribution to the festivities, please enjoy the above 5-minute video of an amazing David Amram Trio performance of “Pull My Daisy” from the crazy Literary Kicks Summer Poetry Happening at the Bitter End nightclub in Greenwich Village in 1999. This was one of the best moments from the 5th anniversary party I co-hosted with Brian Hassett; I am working on a new version of this video with better visual clarity, but at least the audio clarity is good (that’s what really matters). We begin with Amram on the french horn, the instrument he played most often while jamming with Jack Kerouac back in the day. Amram then switches to piano before doing some scat-singing to close it out. As you’ll see, Amram can tickle those ivories. David Amram stole this show back in the summer of 1999, and I hope Denver, Colorado is ready for him this week.

7 Responses

  1. I enjoyed Amram’s Jack
    I enjoyed Amram’s Jack Kerouac biography. I record in a studio that’s in the town (Feasterville PA) where Amram grew up. Is he gonna jam w/ Wayne Kramer?

  2. very cool about amram – one
    very cool about amram – one of the best of the best. but as to the campaign, there is only one question: can we win? how do we win?

  3. I hope people will consider
    I hope people will consider this:
    Republicans say there isn’t enough money in our budget for universal health care while they pour staggering sums of money into war. I assume it’s because they want the war but they don’t want the health care. What other reason can there be?

  4. Dear Asher

    Thank you for
    Dear Asher

    Thank you for nice article.

    Here in Denver, i haven’t slept much in last week, and after giving a big concert on sunday (see my homepage http://www.davidamram.com for details) i have been going non-stop.

    Since the concert “From Fannie Lou Hamer to Barack Obama” wher they did my classicals settings of speeches by John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, for bass bvoice and orchestra, as well as three piece for young people’s chorus , written to honor Floyd Red Crow Westerman and Machito, as well as a new piece i wrote for kids chorus and jazz trio which i wrote the words for as well, based on Jesse Jackson’s “I Am Somebody’ and “Now’s the Time’ by Charlie Parker, i have performed in a non=stop y series of concerts here.

    I played with my Denver based trio, jammed with Hugh Masekela and , as well as playing at huge concert where i was guest artist with both Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. (12,000 people there at Red Rocks amphitheater and Willie sang a new protest song and Dennis Kucinich came on stage with us at end.

    Like Jack, most of us in music relate to individuals, one at a time, not political parties, but Obama is an individual who makes other politicians seem to look or appear to be BETTER, and his sincerity and commitment is a breath of fresh air.

    The spirit that Willie brings when performing, like all the musicians i worked with here in Denver this week, reinforce Jack’s love of how to be BEAT-IFIC!! I hope all of us added something to the occasion.

    At night i work til dawn on my new piano concerto, hiding put in my motel room and skipping all parties so have no time to get into trouble. i hope my being chosen as their composer-in-residence (doing endless series of FREE events for all the people who can’t afford the private ones , will open up the door for other composers, musicians, and writers, poets, painters and artists of all genres to be invited to future conventions to spread what we love to do as a way of celebrating democracy and POSITIVE THINKING, (which might help politicians, as well as voters) to remember that we are all connected, and live in a country where we are all equal and all connected.

    That’s not exactly what the republicans are promoting at the moment.

    See you soon i hope. Keep up your great work.

    Th spirit of Kerouac, like that of so many others, is still a life affirming one that TRANSCENDS POLiTICS and so many people refuse to be terminally bummed out and give up trying.

    We are here. THEY CAN’T STOMP US OUT!!!!

    Big hugs to your great kids

    Sleepless in Denver

  5. Wow. I am sorry I missed
    Wow. I am sorry I missed whatever might have been on TV about this David. It sounded great.

    As far as Obama I personally think he’s an empty suit. There’s no there there. And what is not empty is filled with Chicago machine corruption. Burroughs (author of the purple ass baboon) and Kerouac wouldn’t have been Obama supporters. I’m with them. With Obama there’s no there there.

    I admire idealism to a large degree and your artistry in this I think goes well beyond the petty hate and scare mongering that passes for political discourse these days. Art should not get messed up and tainted with the fecal matter of so much partisan politics. I don’t think that’s what you are doing, please don’t think I am saying or implying that. Integrity and committment doesn’t allow that no matter what the venue or the gig.

    That must have been great playing with Nelson. I stand in awe.


    On another note, how for Obama to win, as was asked about earlier, well, picking that dynamo lightning rod whippersnapper joltin joe biden sure will help. He’s electrifying, that one. He’s got lots of experience too. He’s run for president just about every time for a while now and he always comes in at least 4th or 5th.

    Funferal as finnigans wake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!