Dia de los Muertes gets a lot of respect here in the U.S. Perhaps that's because Hallmark hasn't sinked their cheap teeth into the holiday... Yet. Or perhaps it's because the day is grounded in a Latin American celebration of remembrance of those who've passed, instead of a party atmosphere of getting girls to dress like hoochies and drink like drunks.
Dia de los Muertes, which has its roots in ofrendas, or shrines made in honor of the dead, is being celebrated, not yesterday, November 1, but tonight in Fort Lauderdale's FAT Village. Locals will take the time to create shrines of their own, a skeleton procession will march, and bands will perform.
This year, many musicians have passed away, and we'd like to remember a few of them here. Our apologies for skipping right past Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, and Davy Jones, may they rest in peace.
5. Nick Curran
I'm just going to start right off the one that hit me the hardest. Nick
Curran was 35-years-old when cancer took him just a few weeks ago. He
played a type of music that geeks might call jump blues, but he really
was in a category of his own. He melded blues, punk, garage, and
rockabilly into a hybrid of ass-kicking rock 'n' roll, and wasn't one bit
afraid to cite an influence others might think uncool.
He sang like a 1957 Little Richard on the Specialty label, and played guitar like an
Angus Young/B.B. King cocktail. Curran recorded five solo albums in
addition to residencies with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ronnie Dawson, and Kim Lenz. Anyone that saw him play live won't soon forget him.
Adam Yauch was another one that passed way too soon. Although I would
have guessed he was also in his 30s, he was a Beastie Boy for that long. Yauch made it to 47 before succumbing to cancer.
Being in a group of
white rappers in the '80s couldn't have been easy. And street cred was a
little bit tougher to come by in New York. As simple as it would have
been to sell a few rap albums and be a footnote in the rap craze history book, the Beastie Boys hit their high water mark for me in 1994
with their single "Sabotage."
3. Hubert Sumlin
It's a shitty state of affairs when one of the most influential blues
guitarists is remembered, in a modern context, for shilling dick pills. But that is Hubert Sumlin's guitar riff that you have stuck in your
head everytime you see an ad for Cialis. The song is called "Smokestack
Lightning" by Howlin' Wolf, released on the Chess label in 1956. Sumlin
played for Wolf his whole career and was still playing live up to his
death at age 80.