Lucid Culture


Saving the Bonobos One Show at a Time

An interesting multimedia evening at Jivamukti Yoga Center off Union Square, sponsored by the somewhat Fortean, psychically-inclined Reality Sandwich magazine to benefit the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the survival of the remarkably intelligent, socially evolved and notoriously horny bonobo ape in its lone natural habitat, the Congo Basin. Through a quirk of fate – one of the organization’s board members knew Congolese president Joseph Kabila in his student days – the cause has become one of Kabila’s pet projects. So far it has spearheaded the creation of several nature preserves in the bonobo’s native rainforest, along with agricultural programs to help increase the harvest for subsistence farmers and thereby help assure the safety of our bonobo relatives (98.6% of bonobo and human DNA is identical). Both laudable endeavors (although their concept of trying to help the natives wean themselves off subsistence hunting through microcredit is misdirected: with microcredit come micro debt collectors and microbankruptcy, just another way for the big banks to extend their greedy fingers even further down the food chain).


A slide show and presentation by a BCI staffer was followed by short, roughly half-hour sets by two bands. The first, Wynne Paris & Groovananda are an Indian-influenced jam band whose lyrics seem to be yoga chants. They have a good sax player, and also Tony Levin from Peter Gabriel’s band playing bass. Their best song was a long, chromatically-tinged homage to the Hindu goddess of music and wisdom.


Before her set, Debra DeSalvo, frontwoman and guitarist of headliners Devi seemed concerned that the sonics in the big, boomy, untreated room would not be conducive to a good show. She was right. “We’re, um, kind of a loud rock band,” she told the crowd, assuring everyone that they would try to keep the volume down. While a big, open, uninsulated yoga space may hardly be the ideal place for a scorching power trio like Devi, sometimes adversity brings out the best in a musician. Tonight DeSalvo, her bassist and drummer rose to the occasion and delivered a characteristically fascinating, often mesmerizing mini-set. One of the rock world’s most consistently interesting and often spectacularly good lead guitarists, DeSalvo took her game up a notch for this one, especially as she found herself hanging back a little. She’s the rare player who can shred with anyone, but she also doesn’t waste notes, tonight adding little patches of light with a slide, or an ebow, or just some tastily placed, terse blues licks. The band followed her, creating some playfully entertaining interplay and call-and-response with all three players juggling the fire expertly, particularly on the long, totally psychedelic When It Comes Down. They saved their best song, Welcome to the Boneyard, for last. As DeSalvo told the crowd, this gorgeously sad, crescendoing anthem is sung from the point of view of a 9/11 ghost whose body lies in pieces in the smoking hole at Ground Zero. The longing and ache in DeSalvo’s voice, soaring way up into her upper register at the end of the song, was literally chilling, her haunting guitar chords ringing out beneath, the rhythm section slowly pulsing their way to the end. Nice to see a good New York underground band bring a crowd out for a good cause.  

June 1, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. Nice blog.Keep up with the good work!

    Comment by Loan Holder | June 2, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.