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It was a memorable evening: Louis Armstrong, his wife and a diplomat from the US embassy were out for dinner in a restaurant in what was still Léopoldville, capital of the newly independent Congo.

The trumpeter, singer and band leader, nicknamed Satchmo as a child, was in the middle of a tour of Africa that would stretch over months, organised and sponsored by the State Department in a bid to improve the image of the US in dozens of countries which had just won freedom from colonial regimes.

What Armstrong did not know was that his host that night in November 1960 was not the political attaché as described, but the head of the CIA in Congo. He was also totally unaware of how his fame had allowed the spy who was making small talk across the starters to gain crucial information that would facilitate some of the most controversial operations of the entire cold war.

“Armstrong was basically a Trojan horse for the CIA. It’s genuinely heartbreaking. He was brought in to serve an interest that was completely contrary to his own sense of what was right or wrong. He would have been horrified,” said Susan Williams, a research fellow at London University’s School of Advanced Study and author of White Malice, a new book which exposes the astonishing extent of the CIA’s activities across central and west Africa in the 1950s and early 60s.

Read the whole article HERE

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Over the next 34 years they defined the art of cult; refined the voice of the outsider; and inspired the likes of Joy Division, Pixies, Hüsker Dü, Henry Rollins, REM, Sisters of Mercy, Thomas Dolby, Bauhaus, Julian Cope and countless others.

David Thomas is one of the founding members of the short-lived Rocket from the Tombs (1974–1975), in which he played under the moniker “Crocus Behemoth”. From 1975 he has been very busy with Pere Ubu and his solo releases. Though primarily a singer, he sometimes plays melodeon, trombone, musette, guitar or other instruments.

‘Pennsylvania’ and ‘St Arkansas’ are two classic Pere Ubu records that are newly remixed by David Thomas. Fire Records issued them on vinyl, along with many other Pere Ubu records.

Where and when did you grow up? Would you like to talk a bit about your background?

David Thomas: I was born in 1953 in Miami. I grew up in Cleveland Heights, an eastern suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. My father was a first-generation American with French and Welsh parents. He grew up in NYC and taught American Literature. He was passionate about Walt Whitman and Vachel Lindsay. My mother was an artist with a passion for flowering roadside weeds, Renaissance art and Middle Eastern ancient history. Her family came to America just after the Mayflower. She worked for the Natural History Museum drawing fossils and painting birds. I have a younger brother who is a chemical engineer troubleshooting chemical plants in China, Indonesia and Malaya. I have a younger sister who worked for the US Department of Geology specializing in water tables. I am a High School graduate who was taking special college-level courses in micro-biology. That was my future until I became disillusioned and declined college.

When did you begin playing music? Who were your major influences? 

I began playing in 1974. I was working as copy editor and writer / columnist for a weekly tabloid called The Scene. A friend on the distribution side had the idea of doing a band that would tie in and promote the magazine. He had some buddies who played and we put it together. We did a couple shows and decided to pursue it more directly. That band became Rocket From The Tombs. I have absolutely no major influences. Rocket From The Tombs had some heavy MC5, Stooges and Alice Cooper connections in the beginning but they didn’t come from me.

Was there a special moment when you knew that you wanted to be a musician for the rest of your life?

No. I never had any such realization or intention or desire. Pere Ubu was meant to be the end. I scoured used record bins at the Salvation Army. I loved to find forgotten self-produced singles of local bands which I then researched – artifacts of lost culture, unknown folk art history. My ambition for Pere Ubu was to be discovered in a used record bin in 30 years.

READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW HERE

 

photos by FabFive 

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today SUNDAY performances by Limpe Fuchs (ger) + Distels (b) + Fréderic Le Junter & Antonin Carette (fr) + Gangalai & Gourabai (b)


this event is taking place at Roskot - Aalst - Ninovesteenweg 28

3h / doors
4h / distels
5h / frédéric le junter
6h / limpe fuchs
8h / gangalai & gourabai

  • ROSKOT

picture by Laurent Orseau

  • Ben Bertrand