Blogs

Stevie Wonder, John Scofield Tapped For Miles Davis Tribute Album

first_imgFew musicians are as symbolic of an entire genre of music as Miles Davis is to jazz. The two are literally inseparable, perhaps driving Don Cheadle to write, direct, and star in the Miles Ahead biopic (watch the trailer here). Another tribute to Davis is on the way, as jazz pianist Robert Glasper has organized an album dedicated to the iconic trumpeter.Titled Everything’s Beautiful, Glasper has recruited a who’s who of musicians for the Miles Davis tribute project. Among those involved: Stevie Wonder, John Scofield, Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote, Bilal, Illa J and so many more. The album is due out May 27th via Sony Records, and pre-orders can be placed here.Check out the tracklisting below:Everything’s Beautiful Tracklisting: 1. “Talking Shit” 2. “Ghetto Walkin” featuring Bilal 3. “They Can’t Hold Me Down” featuring Illa J 4. “Maiysha (So Long)” featuring Erykah Badu 5. “Violets” featuring Phonte 6. “Little Church” featuring Hiatus Kaiyote 7. “Silence Is The Way” featuring Laura Mvula 8. “Song For Selim” featuring KING 9. “Milestones” featuring Georgia Ann Muldrow 10. “I’m Leaving You” featuring John Scofield and Ledisi 11. “Right On Brotha” featuring Stevie Wonderlast_img read more

Infamous Stringdusters Mashup Entire “Laws Of Gravity” Album In Four Minutes [Watch]

first_imgThe Infamous Stringdusters continue to impress as one of the finest bluegrass-based ensembles touring today. Soulful songwriting and tight musicianship defines the Stringdusters’ sound, weaving rich harmonies and yearning progressions through every song.The band recently turned heads with the release of their newest album, Laws Of Gravity. To celebrate this new release, the group made a very interesting video performing a medley of original music from the new album. Banjoist Chris Pandolfi tells the story of how it came to be.“We weren’t sure exactly what to think when our manager Alex first hit us with the idea for this medley. It seemed really cool, but potentially impossible to pull off in a fluid, musical way. Then we thought about the nature of an album–a collection of songs that blend a set of native sounds and themes–and it actually made a lot of sense. Electronic acts do this kind of thing, but they have it easy when it comes to the performance/execution part. We had to figure out how to get all the instruments and voices to weave through this maze of different songs and sound cohesive doing it. It’s old school tones meets new school aesthetics, which I guess could be a mantra for almost all the music the Stringdusters make.Andy Hall and I dug into pieces of it on our own and realized that indeed it could be done. From there we put it through our normal band pre-production routine, spending a few sessions working on all the transitions, adjusting a few keys, honing in musical cues and then putting it all together, first in chunks and then as a whole. Much like a good song, it was feeling natural right off the bat, and by the time we went to record, we tuned into the arrangement enough to get it on the first take, which is usually a good sign. It really was a microcosm of the album–same live feel, same musical energy, and hopefully a collection of pieces that work together in some unique way to form a bigger piece of art.”You can watch the new video, streaming below.“We’re always looking to try new things musically,” says Andy Hall. “This EDM style mashup of every tune on Laws Of Gravity is probably the most unique thing we’ve ever done. Not much room for error on this one, but I think we pulled it off!”Keep up with all of the Infamous Stringdusters’ doings on their official website![H/T Rolling Stone Country]last_img read more

Nik Greeley & The Operators Share New “Maybe There’s A Reason” Live Studio Session

first_imgNik Greeley & The Operators have released a brand new video for their soul-rocking new single “Maybe There’s A Reason.” The track is the second song in a series of singles and videos leading up to the release of their new EP coming this Spring 2017. Watch their first release, “Stars,” here. “Maybe There’s A Reason” features Robyn Mello from the band Edenspore, alongside Philly’s own Swift Technique “The ST’s” horn section, and Zach LoPresti and Sam Gutman of prog-jam up-and-comers Out of the Beardspace. Together, and behind the musical maestro Nik Greeley himself, is a smooth-grooving collective that fully avoids staying in any one genre. Watch “Maybe There’s A Reason” live in the studio at Drexel University Philadelphia, PA below:You can download the track for free via Bandcamp or check out NG & The Operators in Philly on World Cafe Live with High & Mighty Brass Band or Camp Jam in the Pines May 18th-20th with Swift Technique, Big Sam, Main Squeeze, Cris Jacobs and Elise Testone. If ever there was a chance to see them live, now is it. The band’s power is unstoppable in delivering juicy tunes, dance moves, and good vibes all around.last_img read more

King Crimson Announces Venues, New Dates For Upcoming North American Tour

first_imgEarlier this year, pioneering English prog-rockers King Crimson announced a full slate of highly-anticipated summer tour dates, dubbed the “Radical Action Tour,” their first North American run in three years. Today, the band announced full details for the tour, including the specific venues and the announcement of four additional shows (Seattle, WA; Oakland, CA; Red Bank, NJ; and Mexico City, MX).The band’s touring lineup will include founding guitarist Robert Fripp, as well as longtime collaborators Tony Levin (bass, Chapman Stick) and Mel Collins (saxophone), in addition to singer/guitarist Jakko Jakszyk and four different drummers: Bill Rieflin, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey. Stacey and Rieflin will also double as keyboardists, an arrangement Fripp referred to as the “Double Quartet Formation,” adding that the band is “likely to be making a lot more noise than before.”To coincide with the tour, King Crimson is putting out an EP featuring their performance of David Bowie’s “Heroes” recorded in Berlin during the band’s 2016 European tour. The tribute is particularly meaningful considering that Fripp played guitar on Bowie’s original recording of the song. Explains Fripp, “King Crimson performed ‘Heroes’ at the Admiralspalast in Berlin as a celebration, a remembrancing and an homage. The concert was thirty-nine years and one month after the original sessions at the Hansa Tonstudio overlooking the Berlin Wall. This is released in the Fortieth Anniversary year.” The EP is slated for release on June 2nd.For tickets to any of the upcoming King Crimson shows, or for more information on the tour or the new EP, head here.King Crimson 2017 Tour Dates:06/11 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre06/12 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre06/13 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre06/15 – Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery06/16 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre06/17 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre06/19 – San Diego, CA @ Humphrey’s06/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre06/24 – Denver, CO @ Bellco Theatre06/26 – Minneapolis, MN @ State Theatre06/28 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre06/30 – Rochester, NY @ Kodak Hall07/03 – Montreal QC @ Montreal Jazz Festival07/05 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall07/07 – Quebec, QC @ Centre Videotron07/09 – Red Bank, NJ @ Count Basie Theatre07/10 – Red Bank, NJ @ Count Basie Theatre07/14 – Mexico City, MX @ Teatro Metropolitan07/15 – Mexico City, MX @ Teatro Metropolitan07/16 – Mexico City, MX @ Teatro Metropolitan07/18 – Mexico City, MX @ Teatro Metropolitan07/19 – Mexico City, MX @ Teatro Metropolitan[h/t – Consequence of Sound]last_img read more

Tool Descends On San Jose’s SAP Center [Gallery]

first_imgTool just wrapped up their second US tour in as many years this weekend, including a stop at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The band seemed tighter than ever, opening with four tracks from 2001’s Lateralus: “The Grudge”, “Parabol”/“Parabola” and “Schism” before dialing it all the way back to the title track off their 1992 debut EP, “Opiate”.In the day and age of plug-and-play electronic DJs and where the grassroots decentralization of the music business has seemed to gain the upper hand on upending industry big wigs, vocalist Maynard James Keenan is a larger-than-life musician maintaining the myth of the mysterious rockstar persona. In what appears to be a revitalized creative interest in engaging fans as Tool, Keenan, drummer Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and bassist Justin Chancellor showed San Jose they are feeling good. As he has all tour, Keenan was donned in full-out protective S.W.A.T. gear with small rainbow emblems on the knee-pads and chest, a controller for his microphone as a utility belt, (which could have been turned up a few notches), and black sunglasses all under a protective helmet. The rest of the band, while maintaining their stationary quadrant of the stage, stood before the beaming appreciation of fans while the lead singer avoided the spotlight, literally shrouded in mystery, smoke, and under first-class protection. During the Grammy-winning “Anemia,” as well as throughout the majority of the show, Keenan reserved the left-rear of the stage for himself to ninja kick, karate chop, stretch, and dance however he wanted to.Part of Tool’s approach to the show takes the element of surprise away, as their setlist remains mostly the same from show to show. Though the band hasn’t released music in eleven years, their 2006 release 10,000 Days affirmed their critical and commercial appeal worldwide. So when Tool debuted “Descending” at the beginning of the tour, it made for another exciting reason to catch the band live.They played “Descending” on Wednesday night, which segued into “Jambi,” then into the lone pull from 2000’s Salival, “Third Eye” before ending the set with a monstrous rendition of “Forty-Six & 2.”Sound difficulties, marked largely by the rushed techs in the background and during intermission, gave a muddy feeling to the usually crisp sound of the SAP Center but took a backseat to the experience as a whole.Detailed visual imagery, either specifically created music videos (commercially released or not) combined with an intricate laser show that spanned over tens of strategically placed mirrors around the stage and arena created a truly multi-level experience between sound, sight, and meaning.After set-break, a countdown of 12 minutes appeared in the six-sided star logo that hung over center stage, and when it hit zero, the lights went dark. Carey treated the crowd to an intense and thunderous drum solo, building anticipation for the moment of truth. Tool has been changing their setlist by one song all tour, with Wednesday night’s choices boiled down to either “Vicarious” or “The Pot.” San Jose was given “The Pot.” The trio of songs “Sweat”, “(-) Ions” and “Stinkfist” closed the show just before 11PM sharp.Much like on his tour with A Perfect Circle, Keenan and company did not return to the stage for an encore. In place of additional music, the venue unleashed confetti cannons at the end of the show.Enjoy the full gallery below, by Josh Huver of Must Have Media.Setlist: Tool | SAP Center | San Jose, California | 6/21/17I: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, AEnema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2II: Drum Solo, The Pot, Sweat, (-) Ions, StinkfistTool | SAP Center | San Jose, California | 6/21/17 | Photos by Josh Huver Photo: Joshua Huver Load remaining imageslast_img read more

The Russ Liquid Test Announces Fall Tour Dates

first_imgNew Orleans-based trio The Russ Liquid Test has announced a full schedule of Fall tour dates. Effortlessly blending classic funk with electronic dance production, the trio of Russell Scott (producer/brass), Andrew Block (guitar), and Deven Trusclair (drums) begin their tour on September 14th at Madison, WI’s Majestic Theatre, and will make their way to Thornville, OH’s Resonance Fest and Brooklyn, NY’s Brooklyn Comes Alive, and continue through Atlanta, Asheville, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, and more.Joining them on the tour will be Defunk, Recess, and Marvel Years, who will be making appearances on select dates. At the heart of RLT is an improv-driven musicality from main songwriter and producer Russell Scott. After performing with acts such as Uprite Dub Orchestra and March Fourth Marching Band, Scott began to explore electronic music, eventually crossing paths with guitarist Andrew Block. And thus, The Russ Liquid Test was born.The group is also getting set to release their sophomore EP via GRiZ’s All Good Records. “We want to make people feel good but also give them something to reflect with. It’s not about just making party music or music that’s more introspective. It’s for the full gamut of human expression, and we want it to be just as dynamic as life itself,” the band said in a press release.Check out a full list of Fall tour dates below:last_img read more

The Marcus King Band Announces The Revivalists, Billy Strings, & More For Family Reunion Festival

first_imgThe Marcus King Band is one of the fastest rising acts on the music scene. At the age of 22, Marcus King is already known as a force to be reckoned with, with his list of sit-ins and collaborations serving as a shortlist for some of the biggest names in the music scene. Today, King expands his resume with the announcement of his second-annual music festival, The Marcus King Band Family Reunion, which will take place on October 6th and 7th and Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, North Carolina.In addition to two sets from The Marcus King Band, The Revivalists, Billy Strings, Devon Allman Project (feat. Duane Betts), Nikki Lane, Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket), Naughty Professor, Geoff Achison Music, DeRobert & The Half-Truths, The Shady Recruits, and Steelism have all been announced for the 2018 installment. More artists will be announced in the future.For more information on The Marcus King Band Family Reunion, head to the ticketing website here. Furthermore, the Marcus King Band has a huge summer ahead of them, with most of July spent on the road with Tedeschi Trucks Band and the Drive-By Truckers as part of the annual Wheels of Soul tour. For a full list of upcoming dates, head to MKB’s official website.last_img read more

SunSquabi Announces 2018 Fall Tour

first_imgSunSquabi is one of the fastest growing live acts on the scene. The Colorado-based trio fuses electronic music with funk, jazz, and more, offering standout, high-octane live performances. Today, the group has announced its schedule for a five-week national tour this fall, which will also feature Late Night Radio, RECESS, and Marvel Years on select dates. Dubbed the Instinct Tour, the tour will also promote SunSquabi’s forthcoming full-length studio album, which features their transformation-inspired trio of tunes, “Caterpillar”, “Chrysalis”, and “Night Moth”.After a number of previously announced festival dates, SunSquabi’s fall tour kicks off on October 4th at Kansas City’s Crossroads KC, where the band will support Umphrey’s McGee, followed up by a headlining date in Chicago on October 6th. The band heads to the Southwest next, stopping at Santa Fe’s legendary art experience, Meow Wolf, on October 12th before hitting Durango, Colorado’s New Animas and Phoenix, Arizona’s Crescent Ballroom the next two nights.A three-night run across Texas spans October 18th to 20th, before the band hits Baton Rouge, LA; Birmingham, AL; and Live Oak, Florida’s Suwannee Hulaween ahead of Halloween, where the group will perform at Charleston, South Carolina’s Pour House. In the beginning of November, SunSquabi hits Greenville, South Carolina, on the 1st, with performances in Asheville, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, on the 2nd and 3rd. Rounding out their fall tour, the trio has stops planned in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on November 8th and Tulsa, Oklahoma, on November 9th ahead of the tour closing stop at Lincoln, Nebraska’s Bourbon Theatre on November 10th.Tickets for SunSquabi’s upcoming Instinct Tour go on sale this Friday, August 3rd. $1 per ticket sold on the tour will go to the Can’d Aid Foundation keeping music and instruments in the hands of children across America. For more information and for ticketing, head here. SunSquabi Upcoming 2018 Tour DatesAug-2 Darrington, WA Summer MeltdownAug-4 Norridgewock, ME Kind MindAug-17 Pittsboro, NC Big What?Aug-18-19th Belden, CA Wave Spell w/ STS9Aug-24 Madison, WI Live on King StreetAug-25 Philadelphia, PA SENSORIUM FestSep-15 Denver, CO GrandoozySep-20 – 22nd Thornville, OH ResonanceOct-4 Kansas City, MO Crossroads KC w/ Umphrey’s McGeeOct-6 Chicago, IL Concord TheaterOct-12 Santa Fe, NM Meow WolfOct-13 Durango, CO New AnimasOct-14 Phoenix, AZ Crescent BallroomOct-18 Houston, TX Last Concert CafeOct-19 Dallas, TX Deep Ellum Art CoOct-20 Austin, TX MohawkOct-25 Baton Rouge, LA Varsity TheatreOct-26 Birmingham, AL ZydecoOct-28 Live Oak, FL HulaweenOct-31Charleston, SC Pour HouseNov-1 Greenville, SC The FirmamentNov-2 Asheville, NC Asheville Music HallNov-3 Richmond, VA BroadberryNov-8 Fayetteville, AR George’s Majestic LoungeNov-9 Tulsa, OK IDL BallroomNov-10 Lincoln, NE Bourbon TheatreView All Tour Dateslast_img read more

Gov’t Mule Debuts The Yardbirds Cover With Magpie Salute Members In Mankato [Video]

first_imgLast night, Gov’t Mule’s summer tour continued with a stop at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minnesota. Once again, The Magpie Salute opened the night and returned to the stage later in the evening to join Gov’t Mule’s encore with back-to-back covers of Blind Faith‘s “Presence of the Lord” and the band’s debut of The Yardbirds‘ “Shapes Of Things”.To open the show, the Magpie Salute—featuring Rich Robinson and other ex-members of The Black Crowes—heavily leaned on their new album, High Water I, also sneaking in a cover of The Black Crowes’ “Thorn In My Pride” and The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High, for their forty-five-minute set.Warren Haynes and company took the stage next for one single set, pulling heavily on their original material, with selections from 2017’s Revolution Come…Revolution Go on mighty full display. Almost halfway through the set, they played the album’s title track then welcomed out Matt Slocum for “Girl With No Self-Esteem” from the same record. The Magpie Salute keyboardist stuck around for a cover of Jeff Beck‘s “Freeway Jam” before Mule closed their set with a band-only “Mule”.As has been the custom for this tour, Mule also brought up members of The Magpie Salute for the encore. Rich Robinson,  Matt Slocum, guitarist Marc Ford, and vocalist John Hogg joined Gov’t Mule for smoking covers of Blind Faith’s “Presence of the Lord” and The Yardbirds’ “Shapes Of Things”, with the latter marking Mule’s debut of the cover.Watch fan-shot video of the double encore below:[Video: alzeppelin]Gov’t Mule has three more shows with The Magpie Salute before they team up with Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real in Sun Valley, ID. From there, Gov’t Mule will continue out on the road solo throughout their fall tour, including their customary Mule-o-ween performance. Head here for a list of upcoming Gov’t Mule shows.Setlist: Gov’t Mule | Verizon Wireless Center | Mankato, MN | 8/29/2018Mr. Man, Blind Man In The Dark, Mr. High & Mighty, Mother Earth, Lola, Leave Your Light On, Unring The Bell, Endless Parade, Monkey Hill (with She’s So Heavy ending), Thorns Of Life, Revolution Come, Revolution Go, Girl With No Self-Esteem (with Matt Slocum), Freeway Jam (with Matt Slocum), MuleE: Presence Of The Lord with Rich Robinson, Marc Ford, John Hogg & Matt Slocum), Shapes Of Things (with Rich Robinson, Marc Ford, John Hogg & Matt Slocum)[H/T JamBase]last_img read more

As The Crow Flies Closes 2018 With Marcus King Band At The Cap [Video/Photos]

first_imgLoad remaining images As The Crow Flies brought their 2018 full circle as the band laid down two brilliant performances at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York; the same venue that saw the band take flight for the very first time last spring.The two shows at that Capitol Theatre to close out the year proved to be somewhat of a validation of what this resplendent band is capable of. The performances this time around were much more fluid and engaging compared to the band’s initial live effort at the venue back in April of 2018.This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that the members of As The Crow Flies had a six-week tour to not only learn to play the material with one another but also get to know each other personally off the stage as well.Night one at the Capitol Theatre was a rousing affair that primarily offered fans a selection of tunes that the band had played throughout the course of their inaugural tour.Chris Robinson set the tone for the Black Crowes love-in from the outset by getting things started with a rousing rendition of the Joe Cocker classic, “Feeling Alright.” The song had the entirety of the sold-out audience singing and swaying in unison with the frontman as he delivered some of his trademark dance moves, while also engaging with the crowd with a few head bobs, peace signs and a myriad of other nods to the faithful in attendance.The first evening’s initial surprise came in the form of the band’s performance of “Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution”, from the often underappreciated Black Crowes record, Warpaint.The band had largely stayed away from the Crowes’ later years catalogue on their initial tour, thus fans had to be excited that one of the gems from that era found its way to the lighted stage at least one more time.Admirers of perhaps the most revered Black Crowes record, Southern Harmony and the Musical Companion, surely must have been elated with the remainder of night one’s setlist, as nearly half of the remaining selection of songs performed on the evening came from that very record.The clear highlight on night one had to be the nearly twenty-minute take on the Black Crowes live staple, “Wiser Time.” The front half of the song featured keys player Adam MacDougall laying down an extended funky jam that seamlessly bled into Marcus King’s jaw-dropping solo.King, whose own outfit The Marcus King Band, opened up both nights at the Capitol Theatre, is perhaps one of this country’s most inspiring and talented young musicians.I use the word musician here because the twenty-two-year-old wunderkind isn’t just a generational guitar player, King is also an equally gifted songwriter and vocalist in his own right.The Marcus King Band’s latest release, Carolina Confessions, is a soulful, blues-driven rock and roll masterpiece that signaled King and his bandmates are destined for greater things throughout 2019 and beyond.As King’s solo on “Wiser Time” wound down, it effortlessly segued into Audley Freed’s time in the sun. The former Black Crowes guitarist reminded everyone in attendance exactly why he’s one Nashville’smost respected players as well as why superstars such as Sheryl Crow hand pick Freed to tour and record with.It would be a crime not to mention the talent that former Black Crowes and Gov’t Mule bass player Andy Hess brings to the table as a musician. Hess plays with a thundering force while also possessing a stage presence that adds more to As The Crow Flies live shows than most other bassists could ever hope to emulate.The band closed out night one at the Capitol Theatre with the Rick Derringer classic, “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,” a song which had served as the encore on a number of As The Crow Flies initial tour dates throughout the course of 2018.Although the show seemed to be on the shorter side, fans were buzzing about the night’s brilliance and talking to one another about what night two may have in store as they smiled and danced their way outside of Capitol Theatre’s doors and into the somewhat chilly and damp streets of Port Chester.Heading into the second evening of Black Crowes music, most die-hard fans were likely hoping for a set list that either featured songs the band had not played the previous night or even ever before.As The Crowes Flies didn’t disappoint in this regard as most of the songs that were featured on night two fell into one of these two aforementioned categories.Likely the second evening’s biggest surprise had to be the cover of the Allman Brothers staple, “Revival,” a song the band never played as a collective until New Year’s Eve in Port Chester, New York.Other highlights included a rambunctious take on the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash,” soulful renditions of Black Crowes classics such as “Descending” and “Sister Luck,” as well as the one-two punch of Deep Purple’s “Hush” and the Marshall Tucker Band’s, “Take The Highway,”the later of which served to close out the two-night celebration of the Black Crowes’ legacy at the Capitol Theatre.It’s impossible to know if As The Crow Flies will ever take flight again. Every musician in the band is tied to a variety of musical projects that would seemingly make it difficult for the band to see the lighted stage again in 2019.Should the two performances in Port Chester, New York end up being the swan song for As The Crow Flies, the band undoubtedly left their die-hard fan base with a litany of musical memories that should keep them all singing, smiling and dancing for decades to come.As The Crow Flies 12/31/18[Video: Relix Channel]Setlist: As The Crow Flies | Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 12/30/18Feelin’ Alright, Sting Me, Hotel Illness, Non-Fiction, Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution, Good Friday > Almost Cut My Hair, My Morning Song, Wiser Time, She Talks To Angels, Thorn In My Pride, Sometimes Salvation, Jealous Again, RemedyE: Rock & Roll Hootchie KooSetlist: As The Crow Flies | Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 12/31/18Remedy, Sting Me, Twice As Hard, Good Morning Captain, High Head Blues, By Your Side, Siater Luck, Thorn In My Pride, Revival, Descending > Jumping Jack Flash, Wiser Time, (Only) Halfway To Everywhere, Jealous Again, Hard To Handle > HushE: Take The Highway Photo: Robert Fortecenter_img Photo: Robert Fortelast_img read more

Mitch Stein Discusses His NOLA Roots, Promoting Concerts, Playing With Members Of The Dead & More [Interview]

first_imgIn April, the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will return to the Fair Grounds Race Course in celebration of the longstanding event’s 50th anniversary. Musician, bandleader, promoter, film producer, and modern-day musical Renaissance man Mitch Stein fell in love with Jazz Fest more than 25 years ago, and has been involved with the event’s annual festivities in some capacity ever since. This year, Stein will bring a plethora of hard-hitting late-night shows to Café Istanbul, including the 5th Annual all-star celebration of the Grateful Dead dubbed AXIAL TILT.As New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival approaches, Live For Live Music‘s Sam Berenson had a chat with Mitch Stein to discuss his love for New Orleans and its musical culture, the upcoming shows he’s promoting surrounding Jazz Fest, his love for the Grateful Dead and more.Sam Berenson: What initially inspired your interest in New Orleans’ music scene?Mitch Stein: I became familiar with New Orleans music at a relatively young age. My dad was a professional singer, and used to play big band and Dixieland/New Orleans records in the house on a very regular basis. I had already become a big fan of The Radiators by the late 1980’s, and my interest in them guided me towards my first trip to New Orleans. I first attended Jazz Fest more than 25 years ago, and it was on that first visit that Charles Neville (who I had booked years earlier with the Neville Brothers at a show in New York, when I was in college) invited me to sit in with him at Storyville.From that moment, I decided to attend every Jazz Fest I could, and with eternal thanks to Charles, I began my now decades-long immersive study of all things New Orleans. This also subsequently led to the formation of GATORATORS in 2012 with Dave Malone, Camile Baudoin, and Reggie Scanlan from The Radiators, plus drummer Eric Bolivar, with whom I had played music before he moved to NOLA from the Bay Area. The band has been playing together ever since.SB: What effect has being a musician and playing music had on your professional career in the industry?MS: I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I studied classical piano for 10 years, then switched to formal jazz training, including studying and performing at the Berklee College Of Music. In addition to my own projects, I have for years been a “hired gun” for other folks’ jazz, rock, blues, and funk projects, and my decades-long experience of being both a player and bandleader (and film producer) has provided me with the tools necessary to not only communicate and perform with other professional musicians and production professionals, but has paved the way for my now ongoing role as Exclusive Booker and Producer of the night-time Jazz Fest shows at Café Istanbul.SB: Is there anything you’re looking particularly forward to this year during Jazz Fest?MS: While I am extremely happy with this year’s calendar of phenomenal shows at Café Istanbul featuring New Orleans musicians nearly every night, I am admittedly very excited to host The Brecker Brothers Band on May 5th. The Breckers provided the soundtrack for a large segment of my musically formative years, and it’s pretty cool to have things now come full circle, resulting in the upcoming show. The level of musicianship in that band is way off the charts, and while every show on the calendar is worth catching, this show will definitely be a “you-should-have-been-there” experience.SB: What’s the history behind your relationship with Café Istanbul?MS: I first reached out to the owner of Café Istanbul prior to Jazz Fest 2015 to pitch him on an all-star, 2-night celebration of the Grateful Dead called AXIAL TILT (timed with the Dead’s 50th Anniversary). He explained that he was already booked on my requested dates, and we said our goodbyes. A few minutes later, he called to say that he had been contemplating my proposal and was going to go with his gut, allow me the chance to produce the shows, and shift the folks already confirmed to another date.Those shows went so well that he asked if I would be interested in being the exclusive booker for all shows at Café Istanbul during Jazz Fest, and I jumped at the chance. This will be my fifth year booking shows there, and I am extremely appreciative to have been given this opportunity. I am even happier that in addition to thoroughly enjoying the high-level music performed at the shows they attend, folks who pack the place every night really love the overall experience the venue and its staff provides.SB: You’re clearly a big fan of the Grateful Dead. How did you your relationship with the band/music begin?MS: As mentioned before, I had been studying classical piano for 10 years, and was then immersed in formal jazz training when a friend of mine called to tell me that he had an extra ticket for a rock concert and asked if I wanted to join him. I hadn’t yet heard of the Grateful Dead, and assumed by their name that they were some type of hard rock band. When I went to my first Dead show, I quickly discovered to my now lifelong delight that this wasn’t a rock band per se, but a jazz band performing in the rock idiom. The level of musicianship and onstage communication between the band members was stunning, and I was hooked from the first show.I bought a ticket for the following night’s show and was again delighted to discover that not a single song was repeated from the night before. I could spend a LONG time talking about the myriad ways that the Grateful Dead and their music has positively affected my life; suffice it to say that having seen nearly 400 Grateful Dead concerts (plus another 300 or so solo Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and other band members’ solo and collaborative projects), the Dead’s music—and its direct relationship to the world of Jazz—is very much a part of my DNA. I have now officially performed music with every living member of the Grateful Dead, and I feel very fortunate that living and working in the San Francisco area offers me regular opportunities to celebrate them and their music.As a New Orleans side note for those unaware, the Neville Brothers opened for the Grateful Dead at eight of their shows, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Michael Doucet & BeauSoleil each opened once, and Branford Marsalis joined them on several occasions. Other notable jazz-oriented live Grateful Dead show collaborators include Billy Cobham, Charles Lloyd, David Murray, Etta James, Flora Purim, Ken Nordine, and Ornette Coleman.SB: Tell me a little bit about the formation of your “AXIAL TILT” event.MS: As I mentioned earlier, AXIAL TILT began in 2015 as a 2-night celebration of the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary. I assembled an incredible tribute ensemble comprised largely of members of the Dead’s extended family including Stu Allen (Phil Lesh & Friends), Rob Eaton (Dark Star Orchestra), Robin Sylvester (RatDog), Jay Lane (RatDog), original Grateful Dead member and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, and Charles Neville. We are now getting ready for the fifth annual AXIAL TILT (the same lineup but with Joan Osborne on vocals and Dino English from Dark Star Orchestra on drums; Charles unfortunately passed away last year), and will once again present two nice, long evenings of live Grateful Dead nuggets. Each performance will include one acoustic and two electric sets per night, with no repeat of any songs.SB: What’s your fondest memory of Leo Nocentelli?MS: I’d have to say the very first time I saw Leo with The Meters in New Orleans many years ago. I was familiar with their music, but watching the actual Godfathers Of Funk in person for the first time, and hearing Leo’s ultra-familiar guitar riffs in real time and in person, was one of the highlights of all of my years attending Jazz Fest. To now have him performing exclusively at Café Istanbul this year during Jazz Fest’s night-time shows is one long “pinch me” moment. And since I am also a member of Voyager, I’ll also get to check off a personal bucket list item when I’ll have the chance to actually jam with him on April 27!SB: I see Eric Krasno is involved with a bunch of your late-nights. Where did that friendship begin?MS: While our paths have crossed many times over the years, this will be the first time that we’ll be working together. I have been a fan of Eric’s for many years, and have actually tried to book him the past couple of years I’ve been booking the Istanbul lineup. This is the first year that the scheduling gods have paved the way for our collaboration, and I am more than excited to experience his artistry on my “home turf” in musical conversation with folks like Leo Nocentelli, Jason Crosby, Johnny Vidacovich, Renard Poché, Reggie Scanlan, Mark Brooks, Will Bernard, Wil Blades, Jason Hann, and others.SB: So you live in the Bay Area now. Do you see any similarities between your local music scene and New Orleans’?MS: I often tell people that if I didn’t live in the Bay Area, I’d likely end up in New Orleans. There are many similarities between the two scenes, with the most obvious being that both areas are overflowing with exceedingly talented musicians and appreciators of music, and both have provided the world with “signature” musical styles and sounds that continue to be celebrated not only in their respective locales, but throughout the world. I consider it a privilege to be affiliated with both areas, and will continue to do all that I can to celebrate that connection. YEAH YOU RIGHT!AXIAL TILT is set to take place once again on May 2nd and 3rd at Café Istanbul during Jazz Fest in New Orleans, LA. For more information and tickets to AXIAL TILT and all the other nighttime Jazz Fest shows at Café Istanbul, head here.last_img read more

Harvard Thinks Big

first_imgThe prospect of hearing 10 top Harvard instructors lecture for 10 minutes each on the subjects that they care most deeply about drew an overflow crowd to Sanders Theatre on Thursday (Feb. 11).Harvard Thinks Big, a student-organized discussion that paired leading lecturers with eager listeners, attracted these great minds to help explore and inspire new ways of thinking, in the first session of what organizers hope will become an annual experience.“It’s an effort to epitomize what’s best about Harvard and [remind people] why we came here in the first place: to hear incredible professors talking about the things that they know best, and to be inspired,” said senior Derek Flanzraich, who conceived of the event along with Peter Davis ’12.The format was based on the popular Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) talks, lectures given at the annual TED conference that follow the same tight format, and which have become online sensations.Before the series of 10-minute talks began, a line of students extended out to the Science Center, patiently hoping to get into the theater, undaunted by a long wait on a cold night.Gaining a lucky seat close to the front, sophomore Avinash Joshi was eager to listen to his Currier House master, Richard Wrangham, the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as the other speakers.“I think the coolest idea is that they have to explain what they are most passionate about in 10 minutes … what they really care about, deep in their hearts. It’s going to come out tonight, and that’s why I am here.”Hundreds of students put their studies aside for the two-hour-plus discussion that touched on a range of topics, including violence, evolution, fairy tales, fire, religion, and hip-hop.Presentation styles ranged from subdued podium deliveries to ones infused with drama, such as the one by Andrew Berry, lecturer on organismic and evolutionary biology, who moved around the stage in a brief “drunken” stumble to help illustrate the confused arc of an important genetic mutation in human evolution.Lecturer on computer science David Malan ripped a phone book in two at one point, and worked up a sweat as he paced in front of the crowd, discussing the magic of making “machines do your bidding.” He encouraged students to explore fields that they might never have considered, the way he did as a Harvard undergraduate when he took a computer course outside his original government track.Diana Eck’s big idea was pluralism. Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies and director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, said she was there to recruit students to study religion, particularly pluralism, the broader engagement and understanding of other people’s faiths.“The ‘we’ in ‘we the people’ has become far more complex than ever before,” she said. “It will require stretching exercises. It will require all of us to know a lot more about each other.”For Daniel Gilbert, global warming isn’t happening fast enough to prompt a strong human response. The professor of psychology told the crowd that the reason the world is so slow to act on climate change is because the danger it poses isn’t intentional, immoral, imminent, or instantaneous. He outlined his theory on how the human brain responds to threats. If, in keeping with his “immoral” theory, “eating puppies” caused global warming, Gilbert said, people would be massing in the streets.Timothy McCarthy, lecturer on history and literature, adjunct lecturer on public policy, and director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, delivered an impassioned talk about the future of protest. He challenged students to embrace the protest spirit of people like Harvard graduate and Civil War Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of the all-black 54th Regiment, who died and was buried with his men.McCarthy pointed to Gould’s statue in the hall and encouraged the students to “transform their privilege into passion.”“Brothers and sisters, if we are to have a future filled with freedom and hope and equality, rather than hatred and fear and exclusion, we must act now. Let us rededicate ourselves to [Abraham Lincoln’s] ‘better angels of our nature’ and bring about a new birth of protest.”The speakers were chosen largely by student request as part of a survey distributed to all undergraduates by the College Events Board in the fall. Harvard Undergraduate Television recorded the event and will post it on the studio’s Web site. Harvard’s Undergraduate Council also helped to plan the program.Davis and the president of the Undergraduate Council, Johnny Bowman ’11, hosted the evening, and Dean of Harvard College Evelynn M. Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies, encouraged the students in the audience to explore their own big ideas.“All of us here want you to find your own passion.”One noticeable absence from the lineup was Michael Sandel, a popular speaker and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. He was unable to attend because of a prior engagement. He is a speaker at this year’s TED conference in Long Beach, Calif.last_img read more

Museum Studies Program appoints new assistant director

first_img Read Full Story Katherine Burton Jones has been appointed assistant director and research adviser for the Harvard Extension School’s Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) program in Museum Studies.Jones has taught courses in the Museum Studies program for the last decade and has served as the program’s research adviser since 2004. Previously, she was the assistant dean for information technology and media services at Harvard Divinity School for nine years. She recently served as the director of development for the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket, and has also served as a fundraising consultant for several local museums.From 1994 to 2000 she was an assistant director at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, where she was instrumental in demonstrating the importance of websites and multimedia to all of the Harvard museums. She was responsible for raising funds for the various public-facing technology projects that were carried out during her time, including the virtual exhibit, “Against the Winds: American Indian Running Traditions.” While at the Peabody she served on the boards of the Museum Computer Network, the New England Museum Association, and the Mildred Morse Allen Center of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.Jones replaces Linda Newberry, who shepherded the Museum Studies Program from a certificate to a master’s degree program, and was responsible for the successful completion of the program by countless students through the years.last_img read more

‘Whole grain’ not always healthy

first_imgCurrent standards for classifying foods as “whole grain” are inconsistent and, in some cases, misleading, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers.  The Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used industry standards, actually identified grain products that were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the stamp. The researchers urge adoption of a consistent, evidence-based standard for labeling whole-grain foods to help consumers and organizations make healthy choices. This study is the first to empirically evaluate the healthfulness of whole-grain foods based on five commonly used industry and government definitions.“Given the significant prevalence of refined grains, starches, and sugars in modern diets, [having] a unified criterion to identify higher-quality carbohydrates is a key priority in public health,” said first author Rebecca Mozaffarian, project manager in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.The study appeared in the Jan. 4 online edition of Public Health Nutrition.The health benefits of switching from refined to whole-grain foods are well established, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Based on this evidence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume at least three servings of whole-grain products daily, and the new U.S. national school lunch standards require that at least half of all grains be whole-grain rich. However, no single standard exists for defining any product as a “whole grain.”Mozaffarian and her colleagues assessed five different industry and government guidelines for whole-grain products:The Whole Grain Stamp, a packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving (created by the Whole Grain Council, a nongovernmental organization supported by industry dues)Any whole grain as the first-listed ingredient (recommended by the USDA’s MyPlate and the Food and Drug Administration’s Consumer Health Information guide)Any whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients (also recommended by USDA’s MyPlate)The word “whole” before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list (recommended by USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010)The “10:1 ratio,” a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is approximately the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole-wheat flour (recommended by the American Heart Association’s 2020 Goals)From two major U.S. grocers, the researchers identified a total of 545 grain products in eight categories: breads, bagels, English muffins, cereals, crackers, cereal bars, granola bars, and chips. They collected nutrition content, ingredient lists, and the presence or absence of the Whole Grain Stamp on product packages from all of these products.They found that grain products with the Whole Grain Stamp, one of the most widely used front-of-package symbols, were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, but also contained significantly more sugar and calories compared with products without the stamp. The three USDA recommended criteria also had mixed performance for identifying healthier grain products. Overall, the American Heart Association’s standard (a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of equal or less than 10-to-1) proved to be the best indicator of overall healthfulness. Products meeting this ratio were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, sugar, and sodium, without higher calories, than products that did not meet the ratio.“Our results will help inform national discussions about product labeling, school lunch programs, and guidance for consumers and organizations in their attempts to select whole-grain products,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology.Other HSPH authors included researchers Rebekka Lee and Mary Kennedy; Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology; and David Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition.Support for the study was provided by the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Prevention Research Centers grant, including the Nutrition and Obesity Policy, Research and Evaluation Network); the New Balance Foundation; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

For big questions, a bigger forum

first_imgOne of the most challenging and lauded programs at Harvard isn’t part of the academic course curriculum.Coordinated through the Freshman Dean’s Office, the “Reflecting on Your Life” initiative invites freshmen to think about meaning and purpose. Featuring facilitators from across the University, the program typically meets for three sessions, at the beginning of second semester.The sessions fulfill no academic requirements, and yet, year after year, freshmen show up for three consecutive weeks to participate in small-group programming that delves deeply into their values, leading to conversations with peers that sometimes reveal gaps between thought and action.“The program gives students time to stop and think about what really matters to them,” said Katherine Steele, project manager and director for freshman programming, such as “what their values are and how those values shape the decisions that they make — from what’s important to them to how they spend their time, and even who they spend their life with.”Now, a grant from the Teagle Foundation is broadening the scope of the program, making it possible for Harvard to share it with colleges and universities interested in launching similar initiatives. The grant will also enable collaborations on best practices and programs to help students to consider the big questions: meaning, value, and purpose.After Richard Light, the Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning, learned about the Teagle Foundation’s initiative to advance civic and moral education on college campuses, Steele worked with Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman to submit a proposal to help develop programs for the “civic and moral education of today’s college students.”The grant will sponsor the effort for three years, helping leaders at Harvard and elsewhere understand the impact of the various ways universities encourage dialogue about personal values and citizenship. But most importantly, Steele said, the grant should help promote programs that allow students to figure out how they want to live.“How do you affect moral growth? How does someone really solidify what they stand for? It’s about developing a stronger sense of who they are, and what they stand for. It’s about drawing the lines between what’s important to you and how you’re spending your time … and if the connections between those two things are missing, what can or should you do about it?”“Reflecting on Your Life” began at Harvard as a result of the in-depth, one-on-one interviews that Light conducted each year with students about to graduate. One answer was especially provocative, that of the student who told Light that Harvard had “forgotten to offer the most important course of all” — namely, how to think about living his life.“It was a revelation to realize that we were missing out on such a key and fundamental question,” Light said. “It’s often covered in an academic sense, but not necessarily from a personal, real-life point of view. What does it mean to live a happy, or useful, life? What about living a productive life? Are those concepts inherently different? If they are, which one do you choose?”Light approached Howard Gardner, the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, for his perspective. Gardner, whose research has often focused on professional ethics, said that the discussion mirrored a trend he had observed among students over the years.“I’d become concerned about something I’d observed from our best and brightest,” Gardner said. “They wanted to do the right thing, but they felt like the most important thing was to be successful. So if they had to cut some corners in order to accomplish that, they felt like they needed to do so. The metaphor I like to use is that the ethical muscle was very thin.”For the past six years, according to both individual testimony and a formal evaluation, alumni of the program have left it feeling that they have a better understanding of themselves, their goals, and their values.“In the 19th century, one of the reasons you went to college was to think about values, purpose, and deep spiritual values — which was completely expunged in the 20th century,” Gardner said. Although the secularization of universities was positive in many ways, he said, a void was left.“Some students fill this with religion, science, or a strong familial unit, but for many students in today’s fast-changing world — particularly those new to college, and especially those attending a high-pressure institution, such as Harvard — they need, and deserve, our guidance and our help.”For Steele, the grant will provide an opportunity for students across a range of Schools to pause and take the time to ask themselves the hard questions.“Harvard students are so busy and so focused, but we’ve found that students really benefit from posing these challenging questions,” she said. “When we create an opportunity for them to do that, and have a structure where they can pose these questions, it can have a really profound effect.”last_img read more

Report gives U.S. low marks on health and wellness

first_imgAccording to the World Economic Forum’s first Human Capital Report, the U.S. ranked 43rd among 112 countries in the Health and Wellness category, which measured a country’s ability to develop and deploy a healthy workforce. It received particularly low scores in obesity, the impact on business of noncommunicable diseases, and stress. The report was co-authored by David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard School of Public Health.The report evaluated countries based on three other categories: Education,Workforce and Employment, and Enabling Environment (infrastructure, legal framework, and social mobility). Overall, the United States placed 16th, with Switzerland receiving the highest overall marks.The report was issued October 1, 2013.The report drew from publicly available data produced by international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the International Labour Organization, in addition to survey data from the World Economic Forum and Gallup. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Material gain

first_imgScientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a theoretical model of a material that one day could anchor the development of highly efficient solar panels.Traditional organic solar panels work by combining photons with light-sensitive materials, creating particles called excitons. Those particles are then channeled through the material to an interface, where they dump energy into electrons that flow along wires, producing electricity. The problem is that excitons aren’t easy to control. The particles are often trapped by defects in the material, and release their energy as light, reducing the efficiency of the panels.Inspired by cutting-edge theories in condensed matter physics and the development of quantum computers, the Harvard-MIT group used magnetic fields to force excitons to move in a specific direction, avoiding the traps that plague traditional materials. The system is described in a paper in Nature Materials.The research team was led by Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Alan Aspuru-Guzik and included Joel Yuen-Zhou, a former Ph.D. student in Aspuru-Guzik’s lab who is now a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, and research associate Semion Saikin.“This effect has been identified in physics, in what’s called the quantum Hall effect, and in topological insulators, but we believe this is the first time this has been proposed in a practical way for excitons in molecular layers,” Aspuru-Guzik said. “What we wanted to ask was, can this be done in organic materials? Can you custom-tailor an organic material in such a way that, for certain excitation energies, excitons move in one direction, and when they confront obstacles, they can move around them?”Yuen-Zhou and Saikin began searching for molecules that fit a tightly defined set of criteria, and eventually settled on porphyrins, in part because they have been extensively studied.“These are just one example of a molecule that could work in this system,” said Saikin. “We don’t want to say that, experimentally, one has to do it with these molecules, but conceptually, we’ve shown that the electronic structure of these molecules is convenient for this system.”The system described in the paper, however, is about more than simply creating a film of porphyrin molecules.For the design to work, the team outlined how magnets could be used to prepare the molecules in specific quantum states to ensure they don’t interfere with one another.“In the absence of a magnetic field, it’s equally likely the excitons would go in one direction or another,” Aspuru-Guzik said. “We use some very clever quantum tricks, to ensure that, when we apply the field, one direction becomes more preferential.”Just as cars sitting in traffic on the highway are unable to turn around and drive in the opposite direction, Aspuru-Guzik said, excitons in this system are able to flow in only one direction, around the edges of the film.What’s more, Yuen-Zhou said, the quantum mechanics of the system permit a good deal of flexibility, allowing excitons to flow around defects in the material, just as a stream flows around obstructions.While it may be years before the material finds its way into commercial solar panels, Aspuru-Guzik believes it has the potential to increase their efficiency by creating a flow of excitons that moves along the panel’s interface, more efficiently transferring energy into electricity.“What we’ve done with this paper is a proof of concept, and we hope it’s the opening to a new era of excitonics.”last_img read more

Cooper Gallery makes an entrance

first_imgFour years in the making, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art opens its doors this week.Part of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, the gallery, which was designed by Harvard’s David Adjaye, the John C. Portman Design Critic in Architecture, repurposes a commercial space behind Peet’s Coffee, complete with a modern and eye-catching façade.In a tour on Monday, Cooper Gallery Director Vera Grant expressed her enthusiasm for the gallery and its inaugural installation, “Luminós/C/ity.Ordinary Joy: From the Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection,” curated by Adjaye and Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt, the founder and curator of Seattle’s M.I.A. Gallery.“We’re ecstatic,” said Grant. “The gallery is stunning, it’s beautiful. We’ve been tracking this for four years, and here it is.”Cooper Gallery visitors will be greeted by “Manhattan,” a large mural by Philip Kwame Apagya, which they’re encouraged to photograph. It’s the only photographable work in the collection, and gallery-goers can use the hashtag “luminos” when they Tweet to @coopergalleryhc.To kick off the public opening this evening, Hutchins Center Director Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke with Adjaye and Ibrahim-Lenhardt at the Harvard Faculty Club.The newly opened Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at the Hutchins Center repurposes a commercial space behind Peet’s Coffee in Harvard Square. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more

Comprehensive African health initiative needed

first_imgAs Ebola hysteria dies down in the United States, the international community should not lose sight of a larger issue highlighted by the epidemic — the need to improve health care systems in the poorest African countries, writes Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Professor Richard Marlink in new commentary. He advises world leaders to take their cues from the U.S. government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.HSPH received a total of $362 million from the program for work in Botswana, Nigeria, and Tanzania that included training health care workers, developing monitoring and evaluation systems, strengthening health care infrastructures, and collaborating with local hospitals and clinics that provide treatment for AIDS patients. HSPH’s PEPFAR grants wound down in 2012, and researchers at the School worked with partner organizations to transition activities to full local ownership.Marlink, who is Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health, helped launch and run HSPH’s PEPFAR efforts in Botswana. In his commentary, published November 14, 2014 on GlobalPost, Marlink describes lessons learned from PEPFAR’s success: Focus on outcomes, establish local partnerships, and leave countries better equipped to deal with other health issues. Read Full Storylast_img read more

For growth, look to Africa

first_imgIf you’re looking for robust economic growth during this prolonged, fitful recovery from the recent global economic crisis, look toward Africa. Ethiopia’s gross domestic product grew almost 10 percent in 2014, Tanzania’s 7 percent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9 percent, Rwanda’s 7 percent. Those numbers, of course, mask other problems, such as gaping inequality and millions living in poverty. Still, Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank, said that from an economic standpoint, the numbers are no fluke.Kaberuka acknowledges that helping millions of people out of poverty is an enormous job, but he also points to increased government stability, regulation that sets a level economic playing field, ample natural resources, and a young, growing population hungry for both jobs and consumer goods, all good signs for the future.Kaberuka, who is now the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, sat down with the Gazette recently to talk about his 10 years at the helm of the bank, which is charged with fostering development on the continent. He also discussed Africa’s economic future, and his own plans for his fellowship year.GAZETTE: Let’s start with some background on the African Development Bank. What is its mission?KABERUKA: The African Development Bank is the continent’s premier development institution. We commit, every year, close to $8 billion in funding, a combination of loans, grants, and guarantees, to fund various sectors of development. In the last years, our key investment has been infrastructure — 60 percent of the portfolio in energy, highways, the kind of things that Africa needs. Beyond funding, we are also an important player in the policy dialogue with countries. We are firm believers in the concept that development is not simply about money. If development was about money only, Libya would be the most developed country in the world. So it’s about money, it’s about policies, and it’s about delivery capacity.GAZETTE: What would you say were the main achievements of the bank during your tenure there?KABERUKA: I took office in 2005, at a time when Africa was changing dramatically, reversing years of decline for the first time with real per-capita growth, which was over 7 percent in many countries.We decided to focus on how to best to stimulate this new momentum in Africa. And we made the following choices: Number one, a big push on infrastructure. In the last 10 years we have put into infrastructure about $28 billion and, assuming a leverage [expansion across the economy] of one to five, you can imagine this is quite an important contribution. The second thing we did was to lead from the front on the private sector. The cliché overseas for a long time was that Africa was a risky place to do business, and we set out to show that the return on investment in Africa was actually higher than that on other continents. We have to put our money where the mouth is, and so we increased significantly the bank’s support for business, from $300 million a year to $2.8 billion at the time I left office, per annum. The third thing we did was to focus on deepening Africa’s internal single market. We’re a continent of 1 billion people, but we needed to deepen that market by cross-border infrastructure, removing nontariff restrictions, increasing regional public goods, all things that deepen a market of 54 countries into one single market. And finally … improving the quality of institutions, institutions that support the economy: financial management, tax collection, oversight institutions, functioning commercial codes — which are sometimes as important as money.We give a particular focus to natural resource-rich countries — exporters of oil and gas and minerals — because these have enough money of their own, if well managed, to avoid the Dutch disease, or the resource curse, as they call it. And also [we give] special attention to countries coming out of years of conflict and war, like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and many others. So these basically were our areas of focus. I’m glad to tell you that under my presidency, the general capital of the bank went from $32 billion to $100 billion. We tripled the capital of the bank in 10 years. We managed to raise soft grants for poorer countries almost 2½ times, to $5 billion. We managed to put out there a powerful counter-cyclical response to the global financial crisis, which minimized dramatically the damage to African economies.GAZETTE: What was that response? Was it increased lending?KABERUKA: The global financial crisis for many low-income countries took the following form. Our banking sector was quite solid, well-regulated. There was no issue of capital adequacy, there was no issue about liquidity, there was no issue about toxic products. But there was retrenchment by the European banks from funding, for example, African trade and business. So we had to step in where the European banks were retrenching. We had to pick up some of the important projects that risked being abandoned, because abandoning projects and picking them up later can actually be more expensive. And in a few countries we provided a bit of liquidity, just as a precaution.Botswana [is] a very well-managed country, one of the best in the world. But the diamond market was tanking, because in a crisis like this there is a flight to safety in gold and away from prestige things like diamonds. So we had to step in with about $1.6 billion to help Botswana cope with that particular problem … It took different forms depending on the different countries.GAZETTE: How does the bank do its business? Is it different from a commercial bank?KABERUKA: The African Development Bank, like the World Bank, is actually three institutions in one. You have the bank, which is a triple-A-rated institution. It is able to raise money from the capital markets very competitively and pass it on to customers for 20 years, again at very competitive pricing.Then you also provide soft loans … to countries that are not a great risk. And then there are countries — say like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic — where it has to be grants. The money we raise from donors is simply for those poorer countries. But for other countries, middle-income countries, financial markets, we give them loans. And as a triple-A-rated institution, we are able to do so competitively.GAZETTE: Is there ever a conflict between running a financially sound institution and the need to invest in development projects?KABERUKA: We do not want to lose money, so we do this analysis carefully. The dividend we would like to give our shareholders [comes from] the bank side of the institution making a good profit, that we then use to fund low-income countries.So it is important that the bank side is as solid as it could be. We are not Bank of America, not Barclay’s. We fund projects on the basis of a number of metrics, including development effectiveness. We look at avoiding crowding out. If other institutions can do it, we don’t do it. We are prepared to take some risks which commercial institutions won’t, but at the end we want to keep the AAA as a solid bank, so it can make money to fund poorer countries.GAZETTE: Where are the African economies today? Do they still have the promise they had a few years ago, and, if so, in what areas do you see that promise being?KABERUKA: Africa is part of the world, so we cannot avoid the global slowdown in the emerging markets or the prolonged after-effects of the global financial crisis. But I’m telling you African economies have fared much better than expected and much better than in other parts of the word. A large number of economies are still growing very strongly.And, contrary to what people might think, this is not about commodities. It is not about oil and gas, and minerals. It is mainly about investment. It’s about the internal market and consumption, about growth in regional trade, but also the improvement in policy and fundamentals.Now the recent decline in commodities is an issue for some countries that depend on one or two commodities. But there is room for fiscal adjustment to take care of [them]. So I remain very confident that, provided African countries keep the good policies of the last decade, we can overcome this particular [problem]. That said, there are two challenges we must overcome. The first challenge is one of job creation for Africa’s growing youth. We are a young continent, so job creation that comes from transforming our economies and moving up the global value chain is critical for every single country. Number two, the issues of inclusion and inequality … It’s about sharing the prosperity so they don’t have very wealthy people amidst a sea of poverty and misery, for that is neither politically sustainable nor economically sensible.GAZETTE: Do you see the consumer market being a major driver in future years?KABERUKA: Absolutely, domestic consumption has been a major driver of recent growth. This has been facilitated mainly by increased internal migration, not simply in large cities but even in small towns, the wide spread of simple technologies like mobile phones, which has increased access to financial services, improved knowledge of what is available in the world. So I expect that in coming years investment, domestic consumption, and growing regional trade will be key drivers, provided we are able to address the issues of jobs and inclusion.GAZETTE: It sounds like you’re pretty confident that this road of democracy, increased stability, and economic growth is a sustainable one?KABERUKA: Of course, nothing is preordained. It all depends on consistency of policies. It depends on what happens in the world, and I’m hoping this crisis in emerging markets will be dealt with. But you know behind every cloud there’s a silver lining. And the silver lining for African economies is the rising real wage in China. Because these companies, whose margins are being squeezed in China, are going to invest in Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos. But now they’re looking at other places, most likely India and Africa. So the next time you go to Ethiopia, you’ll be amazed at the number of Chinese factories and manufacturers around Addis Ababa. And I would like to see that happening more and more.So the slowdown among the large emerging markets and the shift of the Chinese economic model from export-led to domestic consumption-led and increases in real wages might actually open opportunities for some low-income countries to create jobs in their countries.GAZETTE: Is China the biggest development force in Africa today, as far as external countries?KABERUKA: China has been a major player in infrastructure. Definitely, there’s no doubt about this — energy and transport. I think the relationship between China and Africa has been in transformation, but I should tell you that in some countries, Turkey is bigger than China. In other countries Malaysia is bigger than China … There is too much focus on China sometimes, because of the high visibility of what they do. But I think it has been a very productive relationship with all the large emerging markets. Of course, we’re not forgetting our traditional partners.GAZETTE: What about the African economy is most exciting to you right now? Is there a particular project or trend that is most exciting when you think about 10 years in the future?KABERUKA: For a long time, the narrative about Africa was about commodities, what can we get from them? Oil and gas, copper, cobalt …I think as President Obama was saying at the last U.S.-Africa summit: Look at Africa as an opportunity for investment. Why an opportunity for investment? Because of its demographics. We’ll be 2 billion people not that far from now.This is a continent where the demographic depth … the penetration of the simple technologies, and diversification of partners means that it is a continent where the future markets lie. If you’re looking for a short-term kill, you could have a problem. But if you’re there for the long term, this is the place to be. The opportunities are related to the demographics, so there is increased demand for all kinds of services, financial services, health care, education. There will be demand for new technologies, so I think if you had to ask me where the future opportunities are, they’re related to the demographic dynamics.GAZETTE: Let’s talk about your role here …KABERUKA: I’m a Hauser Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School.GAZETTE: What do you hope to accomplish during this year?KABERUKA: I hope to share, like I’m doing now, about development … in Africa. I hope to share with colleagues here at Harvard and students and, hopefully, the wider public, American companies, about opportunities on the continent. I welcome very much the offer the Kennedy School gave me to do this. For the few months that I’m here, that will be my main preoccupation.GAZETTE: And had you been to Harvard before?KABERUKA: I used to come to Harvard in my previous function as a speaker, so I’ve spoken several times at the Law School, at the Kennedy School, so yes, I’ve been here a couple of times. And of course, at the bank I have recruited many staff from here, and many from Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School. We know the University very well, and it has been a pleasure working with many of the graduates, both African and non-African.GAZETTE: How about post-fellowship, do you have any plans?KABERUKA: I am going back to my continent. That is where I belong for this task of attracting more investment in Africa and encouraging the dynamics, which I think are both challenging and exciting.GAZETTE: Is Rwanda still your home? You grew up there, right?KABERUKA: Yes, Rwanda is my home … but I’ll be active across Africa.GAZETTE: You were finance minister there before. Do you see a role in government, or will your activities be more across Africa?KABERUKA: I see myself as bringing my knowledge, my experience to bear — my network — across the African economic space. While in my country, that will get special attention, but I want to bring my experience to bear for all of the 54 African countries.last_img read more

From Ed Portal to Harvard Yard

first_imgWhen incoming freshman Kevin Yang learned he was accepted to Harvard College, he quickly wrote and thanked one of the people who helped him the most — Tri Huynh. As a Harvard student, Huynh, now a teacher in California, tutored Yang once a week at Harvard’s Education Portal in Allston.Opened in 2008, Harvard’s Ed Portal serves as a cooperation agreement between Harvard and the city of Boston to bring the University’s greatest strengths of teaching and research to the Allston-Brighton community.For Yang, who moved many times during his middle and high school years, the Ed Portal was a constant. “We’ve lived all over Massachusetts, and moving so often was difficult,” Yang said. “High school was very stressful, and writing my college essay helped me reflect on my identity.”While Yang’s parents worked — his mother is a nurse and his father a scientist — Yang’s grandparents drove him back and forth from the Ed Portal several times each week. These days they drive his younger brother Neil there for his mentoring sessions.Noting his parents high regard for education, Yang said: “You’re always stepping on the backs of your parents to go further. Getting into Harvard is a new experience for all of us — it has been a roller coaster ride. At the end of the day, they are proud of me.” 1Incoming freshman, Kevin Yang, foreground, and his family, at their home. From left, Yi Jin, Kevin’s mother; grandfather, Yongshou Jin; brother, Neil Jin and grandmother, Yi Qun Zhu. His dad, Hailin Yang, not pictured, was at work. 5Neil takes Kevin’s longboard for a ride in their neighborhood. 15In Harvard Yard, Kevin checks his new Harvard ID, comparing it to the one from Boston Latin, and noting how much he has changed. 7For several years, Kevin’s grandparents drove him to and from the Ed Portal, school, and other activities. Currently, Kevin is in the driver’s seat with his learner’s permit while his grandfather instructs him from the passenger seat. 12Neil plays a computer game, while Kevin looks on. Remembering his own mentor, Kevin says, “He was more than a tutor — he was a real person, he helped me to chill. He recognized my human side … he also saw my interest in biology and helped me with my studies.” 2A shelf in the living room displays Kevin’s many awards and some family photos. 8Kevin attended Boston Latin School, the oldest school in America, founded in 1635. 4Kevin’s younger brother, Neil, looks up to him. 6Kevin’s grandfather, Yongshou Jin, speaks Shanghainese. Kevin speaks English, Latin, Chinese, Spanish, and Shanghainese. 9Five signers of the Declaration of Independence along with many other notable historic figures attended BLS. 10Kevin graduated in June. 3Kevin reads his acceptance letter to Harvard. 13On freshmen move-in day, Kevin, returning from his Freshman Orientation Program (FOP), greets Catherine Zhang ’19, on left, while his mother, Yi Jin and father Hailin, look on. Yi Jin rejoiced when she saw her son following his FOP of hiking and camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 14Kevin greets his new roommate, T.J. Song (right) of Gilroy, Calif. They’ll share a room, part of a suite in Weld Hall. 11Kevin and Neil pose inside the Harvard EdPortal. When Kevin attended, the Ed Portal was across the street from its current location at 224 Western Ave. in Allston. Membership is free and hundreds of students like Yang take advantage of the Allston-Brighton mentoring program, which pairs a Harvard student with a local youth. 16Kevin hugs his mother. His father, Hailin, said he would miss work to be at move-in day partly so he could, “park the car in Harvard Yard.” The family car is to the left.last_img read more

In Europe, nationalism rising

first_imgOver the past 75 years, many Western nations moved steadily toward cooperation and interconnectedness, as their shared economic and political interests converged during this period called globalization. But the political winds are shifting, and there are signs of a new age of populism and nationalism emerging in Europe, a development that eventually could undermine post-war security and unity.Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in part by promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., of political elites and to “Make America Great Again,” a broad-brush populist slogan that supported a more isolationist, protectionist, “America First” posture toward the wider world. His campaign rhetoric criticizing some Muslims and Mexicans and his recent efforts to limit immigration and trade have left many analysts wondering whether his presidency could effectively move the country toward a period of ethno-nationalism.Trump’s surprise election has proved a political windfall and an inspirational template to far-right candidates in Europe, as some countries prepare for major elections. These include the Netherlands (March), France (April and May), and Germany (September). These rightist groups predate Trump politically and tie themselves more tightly to nationalism, but they are also happy to ride on the coattails of his victory.Marine Le Pen, the National Front party leader running for president of France, embraces antiglobalization and anti-immigration policies. Both Le Pen and her father, Jean-Marie, the former party leader, lavishly cheered Trump’s election on Twitter, while other European nationalist party figures in the Netherlands, Hungary, and Greece touted his win as a positive sign of things to come. She has promised to “take back” France by withdrawing from the European Union (EU), a move that Trump has applauded, as he did when Britain voted last year to leave that body, rocking the EU to its core. Lately, Le Pen has been rising in the polls as her mainstream electoral opponents have faltered.Other figures on Europe’s far right, including Geert Wilders, founder of the Dutch Party for Freedom, and Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which spearheaded Britain’s break with the EU, have met with and supported Trump. Farage dined with Trump last week in Washington, appeared at Trump’s inauguration, and also made several appearances with him during the campaign. Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s Northern League, has reportedly offered to help Trump expand his support in Europe.Indeed, some in the Trump administration have embraced the value of a far-right coalition between the United States and Europe. Leading the way is Trump’s chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon M.B.A. ’85 , the former chairman of Breitbart Media, a pro-Trump online news outlet. Breitbart has been something of a safe harbor for white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and other digitally savvy right-wing fringe groups. It’s an assertion Bannon appears to agree with, once referring to Breitbart as the “home of the alt-right.” Shortly after the election, Breitbart announced it would expand to France and Germany to help bring Trumpism to audiences there. During a rare public appearance last week, Bannon, widely-seen as Trump’s ideological compass, said their victory made clear that there is a political “movement” afoot, one in which the administration’s “economic nationalist agenda” will help galvanize the Republican Party, and the nation, into “a new political order.” A new salienceAlthough the words populism and ethno-nationalism are often used interchangeably, they actually are distinctly different.“Populism is a way of making political claims that oppose ostensibly ‘corrupt elites’ with ‘the virtuous people,’” said Bart Bonikowski, a Harvard associate professor of sociology who studies populist and nationalist movements.The left often labels big business and banking executives as elites, while the right typically targets the state itself and those who keep it running, like civil servants, bureaucrats, and elected officials, along with academics and other intellectuals, “whereas ethno-nationalism is … a definition of the nation that excludes various ethnic, religious, and racial out-groups,” he said.Because populism is less an ideology than a form of political discourse, it is often attached to a variety of political ideologies, including nationalism.“It’s basically a strategy for mobilizing political support for whatever politicians’ objectives might be,” said Bonikowski. “It so happens that in Europe and the United States and elsewhere … populism attached to ethno-nationalism has gained traction. But that doesn’t mean the two things are the same or that they only occur with one another.”Nationalism can be ethnocentric or primarily civic in focus. Some strains are more inclusive than others, often based on political principles and respect for institutions that rest on subjective identification with a nation. Ethnic-driven nationalism is often about a shared ancestry, religion, and language and a common dissent, said Bonikowski, a resident faculty member at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES).Despite some public perceptions, populism and ethno-nationalism have not suddenly surged in the United States and Europe since Trump’s ascendancy. Many European nationalist parties have been around for decades, with varying levels of success. In 2015, Hungary and Poland installed hard right, antiglobalization governments.“There’s a good portion of the population that does … have a particular understanding of what America is: a white, Christian America,” says Bart Bonikowski. File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“I think what’s changed is the salience of these ideas given the … contextual factors: economic crises, persistent inequality stemming out of neoliberalism, demographic change, anxieties associated with terrorism, along with political developments like obstructionism in Washington, [and the] perceived corruption or non-representativeness of the EU governance system,” said Bonikowski. “All of these things have generated some level of anxiety among particularly white, native-born populations and a perceived status loss at the group level among these folks, which then makes both nationalist and populist claims — and, especially, nationalist-populist claims — more resonant and more salient than they had been in the past.”Indeed, Trump first found his political footing in 2011 after he pushed an unfounded, racially tinged accusation popular on the far right that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and thus was not a legitimately elected president. Trump appeared to stoke divisiveness among his predominantly white supporters and was slow to reject endorsements by white nationalists, including the Ku Klux Klan, critics contended.Yet Trump was backed by 63 million voters in the presidential election, and the vast majority were hardly extremists, but Americans with traditional values who wanted change.“There’s a good portion of the population that does … define the nation in ethno-cultural terms. They’re not all members of neo-Nazi groups, by any stretch of the imagination. They just have a particular understanding of what America is: a white, Christian America.”While well-organized fringe groups wishing to remake the country as a white, nationalist state have long existed on the periphery of American politics and society, the Trump campaign’s advancement of an agenda that sometimes aligns with theirs brought some extremist groups into the mainstream. “They’ve been allowed to be part of the conversation, which they hadn’t before, and they have, in Bannon, an advocate pretty close to power.”Europe emboldenedTrump’s election and Britain’s exit from the EU are “very encouraging” to nationalist groups across Europe, “because for the first time, there’s a shift away from international cooperation, sharing sovereignty, building international relations and organizations, to addressing the sovereign rights of specific countries,” said Grzegorz Ekiert, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Government and director of the CES.Both events represent the biggest victories for the populist-nationalist right in many years.“They demonstrated that what most people thought was impossible is actually possible,” said Bonikowski.Rarely have groups on the radical right advanced so far in recent decades.“They’ve certainly been present, and they have won seats in parliaments in national elections, but they have not been in control of governments, they have not been in control of presidencies, they have not made massive impacts on national policies until Brexit and Trump,” he said. “And so I think that certainly emboldens politicians on the far right across Europe, but also across the world. It also gives them some degree of increased legitimacy among their supporters.”Politicians on Europe’s radical right are now looking to Trump to see which tactics and messages work for him and then testing those in their home nations, adding to the sense that there’s a broader nationalist wave rippling around the world.There was enthusiasm in 2004 when the EU opened its doors to 10 additional countries, most from the former Eastern bloc. But it wasn’t long before some in these new member states began stoking an anti-EU, nationalist agenda.“In every country, you have always had people who didn’t like the European Union,” said Ekiert. “In every country, you had people who worried about traditional values, who worried about national sovereignty, who didn’t like the bureaucrats making some decisions, who didn’t like people in their country cooperating with the European Union. But they were lying low for years because, for them, the impetus of the EU enlargement and this liberal vision for the entire continent seemed invincible.”But the global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 laid that notion to waste.“Now, the crisis for the first time showed that this is not an invincible project, that there is possibility, really, to fight against it. And this was the moment when you saw in many countries in Europe, both West and East, nationalistic, populist forces emerging,” Ekiert said.The reverberations of Trump’s rise to the presidency have been acutely felt in France, where global attention is now focused on a spring presidential election that has seismic implications for the future of the EU, particularly after the decision by British voters to leave provided its own momentum.The National Front’s Le Pen has made no secret of her support for Trump and his antiestablishment message. Although they do differ in some areas, Trump and Le Pen share several populist-nationalist impulses. Both are protectionists who want to tighten the borders, both oppose immigration and criticize Islam, and both seek to restore “law and order,” which many analysts take as an embrace of a more authoritarian society, said Nonna Mayer, a French political scientist, a leading authority on the National Front, and an emeritus director of research at CES.“For her, the victory of a populist leader like Trump is the proof that her ideas are going to win, can win,” she said. “She’s going to use Trump, she’s going to use it as an argument … not only for her own party members, but for the people with whom she wants to make alliances, to say, ‘Look, we are respectable, our ideas have won. They have elected a president of the United States.’ So in that sense, it’s good for her.”Nationalism in France has been on the rise since the 1980s, when the party’s founder, Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, won a seat in European Parliament in 1984. Since then, the National Front has tried to position itself against globalization and as the champion of those who seem themselves as the movement’s losers.Le Pen’s growing mainstream success owes much to the affirmative case the party makes to voters, Mayer contends. “At a time where most people don’t believe very much in the capacity of mainstream political parties to do something, they say, ‘Yes, we can. … You just need the guts to do it, and we can do it.’ In a way, they are selling a political dream, wherein all the other parties have failed.”Populist leaders, including Le Pen, tend to oversimplify issues, mislead and exaggerate and sometimes lie about problems and conditions, like the number of immigrants entering France, in order to justify easy solutions, added Mayer, echoing tactics that have proven useful to the Trump camp.Additionally, terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, and elsewhere in Europe, as well as the flowing stream of refugees, particularly from Syria, offer useful pretexts for anti-immigration policies and regressive sentiments. “All of that justifies, legitimizes parties that say, ‘We must erect walls and then everything will be as it was before,’ she said. “They always sell a golden age of a society that never existed. But it’s also their strength.”“What the French have witnessed, especially since the attacks over the last two years, [has left many feeling] ‘we’re not at home anymore, and these people who are here in our country as guests are totally destroying our quality of life,’” said sociologist Michèle Lamont, the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies.As with Trump, Le Pen’s constituents are often blue-collar voters who’ve seen their earning power decline and feel threatened by the growing diversity in France. They believe the new arrivals, particularly Muslim immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, are leapfrogging over them economically by “‘coming in and stealing our resources,’” said Lamont.“So, for me, the question is more a sense of social displacement and state pecking order, which is manifested both in how people interpret how much the state will distribute and access to material resources in France.”In the United States, where government largesse isn’t as central to daily life, nationalist sentiments among the white working class centers more on “the dynamics of recognition: how much place those various groups are given in social and cultural debates” about things like sexual orientation and public bathrooms, said Lamont. “That’s really viewed as totally out of proportion.”Trump’s election and Britain’s exit from the EU are “very encouraging” to nationalist groups across Europe, noted Grzegorz Ekiert, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Government and director of the CES. © 2016 David ElmesLook to the eastTrump’s reception in Eastern Europe has been more “mixed” than in Western Europe largely because of his seeming admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and apparent comfort with Russian expansionist interests in a part of Europe that the old Soviet Union controlled for decades, said Ekiert.Still, populist-nationalism on the far right has blossomed in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Croatia as resentment of the EU’s power brokers in Brussels has grown.“The paradox of this is that these were the most advanced countries in Eastern Europe. Poland, for the last 25 years, was considered to be an incredible success story,” said Ekiert. “So what this tells us is … this is not about the ‘losers of globalization.’ There are no losers of globalization in Poland. The Polish society benefited across the board from enlargement in quite incredible ways … so this is not about economic pain, this is not about marginalization, and so on. This is clearly about country” and cultural modernization.“The last 30 years was a period of very dramatic cultural change, and the traditional societies of Eastern Europe were not really ready to embrace that change, and we see the reaction to it now. It was too much, too soon,” said Ekiert.“It was much easier to get used to iPhones and good cars and all those other things that go with material modernization. But it was much more difficult to really make sense on the cultural level how far those societies” had evolved, he said. “So, the questions of what’s going to happen with religion, what’s going to happen with traditional families, what’s going to happen with traditional curricula in schools, how do we think about the history of our country” left many feeling unmoored.Powerful forces like the Polish Catholic Church have opposed the EU, viewing the increasingly empty churches in an increasingly secular Western Europe as an existential threat, Ekiert added.After decades of Soviet domination and little internal ethnic diversity, nationalist sentiments in Eastern Europe center mostly on notions of patriotism and national identity. It’s only in the last two decades that anti-immigration has emerged as a significant part of nationalist discourse, said Ekiert.An influx of immigrants and a later quota plan from the EU that refugees should be evenly distributed among member states set off a “hysterical” reaction across Eastern Europe. Countries normally at odds banded together and refused to comply, offering aggressive language that reinforced old prejudices and stoked violence against foreigners, as well as students and tourists in Poland and Hungary.What’s likely next Whatever happens in the elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, the broader “dangers” that the success of Europe’s far right parties pose are “just vast,” said Bonikowski. The biggest worry is the potential erosion of democratic laws, and shared norms and beliefs.“It really changes what’s acceptable, it changes geopolitical calculations, it creates all kinds of risks that have not been there previously. You don’t need every single country to be controlled by a nationalist-populist politician for us to be in some serious trouble,” he said. “It’s enough to have a couple, and especially the powerful ones.”A win by Le Pen would “create chaos” because she has promised to take France out of the EU, whose three strong stool legs have been Britain (leaving), France (in question), and Germany. “If she wins, we’re all in trouble,” added Ekiert.But even if she loses, that is not the end of the story. Other events threaten to further destabilize the EU.“Europe is at a critical point in this game today, and the trans-Atlantic relations between Europe and the U.S., and then the relations between Europe, Russia, China, and Turkey, are at the center of everything,” said Ekiert.The first and foremost danger is if Putin, under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians living in the region, takes action in Estonia or the Baltic republics as a test of NATO’s commitment, and especially the U.S.’s willingness, to defend all of its members.Additionally, the war in Ukraine, the Syrian civil war, unrest in North Africa, and Turkey’s rapid move away from Europe could prompt Turkish President Recep Erdogan to release a million Syrian refugees in Turkey into Europe and put the EU on thin ice.“That kind of ‘burning neighborhood’ is a very significant destabilizing factor,” said Ekiert. “If the European Union were as strong as was the case several years ago, we would probably see much more aggressive action, with a lot of economic aid, to stabilize those countries. But now the European Union is in survival mode and not ready for any adventures outside the EU borders.”In addition to the geopolitical crises, a likely shift in trans-Atlantic relations under the Trump administration, Europe’s lingering economic and banking woes, questions about fundamental European institutions — including the entire EU project itself ???? are swirling about just as the radical right political parties are rising in nearly every country, said Ekiert.“It looks like a perfect storm in all possible dimensions.”last_img read more

Hitting diabetes where we eat

first_imgTaxes on sugary beverages seem to cut consumption, a Harvard public health expert said Tuesday, describing the sometimes controversial tariffs as one path of attack against the U.S. diabetes epidemic.Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, said that a preliminary analysis of Philadelphia’s six-month-old 1.5-cent per-ounce tax shows sales dropping 57 percent by volume.“Consuming those drinks is very tightly linked to both obesity and diabetes,” Bleich said of the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet.Philadelphia’s tax-related drop came amid reports that consumption of soda and other sugary beverages has been in decline nationwide, said Bleich, speaking as part of a panel at the Harvard Chan School on the toll of diabetes and the future of treating the disease.LaShawn McIver, senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy for the American Diabetes Association, noted that the metabolic disorder is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than AIDS and breast cancer combined, and costs the country $322 billion annually.One in 11 Americans — some 30 million people — has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many more — about 84 million — have prediabetes. Complicating the picture, McIver said, is that nearly 90 percent of the latter group aren’t aware of the threat.“This is a huge issue from a public health perspective,” McIver said.Diabetes is closely linked to the nation’s obesity epidemic, with nearly 90 percent of those with type 2 diabetes — the vast majority of cases — also overweight or obese. The root problem, Bleich said, is that we live in an environment rich in cheap, convenient, calorie-laden foods, and an era of increasingly sedentary lifestyles.“Diet is a huge driver of the diabetes epidemic, and this is important because a person’s ability to control their diabetes is very dependent on their ability to select foods or be in an environment that allows them to control their blood sugar,” Bleich said.That’s where food policy comes in, she said. Policy can alter the food environment and make consumers less dependent on willpower alone. Taxes alter environment by making cost a more significant factor. Another effective tactic, Bleich said, is requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus, so that customers can consider not just price and taste, but also the health effects of meals.Requiring calorie counts on menus began in New York in 2006 and has since spread to other states, Bleich said. A federal version of the requirement contained in the Affordable Care Act is set to take effect next year. The measures have had less impact on consumer choices than on restaurants, which have been dropping the highest-calorie dishes and adding new ones that average 12 percent less, a difference of roughly 60 calories.“It sounds small, but at a population level, if you can extract that number of calories out of the diet, it can actually have a pretty big impact on levels of both obesity risk and diabetes risk,” Bleich said.Panelists also discussed the role of technology in treating the disease. Continuous glucose monitors use a probe under the skin to keep tabs on blood sugar, with data uploaded for doctors to review. They can also send out help signals.Howard Wolpert, vice president for medical innovation at the Lilly Innovation Center, said that technology can both improve blood sugar control — reducing risk of complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and infections — and make medical care more efficient. People whose blood sugars are relatively stable can see the doctor less frequently, while those with erratic sugars can keep regular appointments.Telemedicine, Wolpert said, has the potential to make a bigger difference, extending the reach of physicians to underserved communities, like Native Americans and Inuits, in which care is scarce but rates of diabetes are high.last_img read more

Studying art by making it

first_imgHistorically, Harvard has valued the head over the hand, but that may soon shift — at least in one discipline.Under the auspices of Jennifer L. Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, and Ethan Lasser, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American art at the Harvard Art Museums, graduate students, particularly those in art history, are joining a University movement against what Roberts calls a “longstanding, multi-century bias toward conceptual and mathematical, verbal, abstract forms of knowledge over the forms of knowledge embedded in making.”As their class “Minding Making: Art History and Artisanal Intelligence” goes through its second iteration, students are learning how hands-on experience with materials and processes feeds a different kind of awareness and a new appreciation of the finished product.Part of a larger project, detailed at mindingmaking.org, the class follows several summer graduate workshops, as well as a broader trend toward recognizing art-making as part of the University’s “cognitive life,” said Roberts. “The humanities are in the middle of what’s known as the material turn,” she explained. “There’s a lot of interest in matter and materiality, but that hasn’t really yet translated into a clear new way of thinking about making, about interacting with all that material.”,“Maker is a generic term that would encompass both the ceramicist and the person soldering together a circuit. We wanted a term that moves beyond studio art-making or craft artisanship.” — Professor Jennifer Roberts, pictured below with Ethan Lasser,This course seeks to address this tactical way of thinking, with readings on the intellectual history of crafts, as well as visits to artists, artisans, and their workplaces, including an aluminum casting factory.“Maker,” Roberts explained, is a “generic term that would encompass both the ceramicist and the person soldering together a circuit. We wanted a term that moves beyond studio art-making or craft artisanship. Art historians tend not to go to factories. They’re not interested in mass production. There are a lot of assumptions about what someone does.”“Art history,” added Lasser, “is constructed around a finished object, and the power of this approach is in going back through it and understanding what it takes to get to that object.”In Roberts’ words, the practitioners seek to “get outside the library and books for sources of knowledge.” Lasser elaborated, explaining that the goal of the course is to provide “a sense of the feel, the tactile knowledge, of how much physical labor goes into something.”“At every stage,” he said, “there’s some information that art historians don’t generally write about because they don’t know about, because they’re just looking at the finished object.”,On a stormy Friday, students were involved in another element of the course, trying their hands at etching: from the first preparation of the plates through printing. The work is laborious, and students such as Destiny Crowley of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences were spending considerable time applying the thick black ink and then wiping it nearly off before attempting to print a first proof.Speaking while she worked, Crowley, a first-year student in the history of art and architecture Ph.D. program, explained that she signed on to address “a gaping lack in my education when it came to the actual creation of art.” As she wiped the viscous ink over her plate, she noted how that also gave her additional insight into works she has long admired: the Blank Signs series of prints by artist Ed Ruscha, who hails from her home state of Oklahoma.“The aquatint gives the print a very light shade of coloring,” Crowley explained, describing Ruscha’s series. “And the signs themselves are left stark white.” Noting “the juxtaposition of moving from darkness to light, the pitch black of the ink, the deep blackish brown of the asphaltum ground that we had to apply to the plate,” she said, “I find it very interesting that the print ended up being such a bold interplay of lightness.”Working with the coal-black ink, she shared her insight. “It is really amazing how you can go from a really onyx black — almost a void on this space — and strip that away,” she said. “There’s a reason why artists choose the artistic processes they do, an etching versus an oil painting.”,“There are so many different reasons for choosing a material,” agreed Iain Gordon, who is pursuing a master’s in design studies. Unlike several of his classmates, Gordon, who was drying a treated plate, has been involved on the “making” side, building furniture as well as other projects for several years. “For me, this is a way to engage with the making in a theoretical and critical way,” he said.“I knew it would be time-consuming and unpredictable and a different kind of mental and physical energy,” said Rachel Vogel, who is in her second year of the Ph.D. program in the history of art and architecture. “But you don’t realize the extent of all of those things until you really start doing it.“Learning those kinds of chains of causality and being able to recognize how a particular choice an artist made might be a response to something else that’s happening in the print …” She paused as she continued to wipe ink off her etching plate. “To begin to unpack the layers that must have happened in order for the artist to have constructed a plate is something that really can only happen once you’ve had the experience of making prints yourself.”last_img read more

Upcoming: Launch Lab X Startup Showcase

first_img Read Full Story Event to highlight accomplishments of ventures that graduated from Harvard’s nine-month accelerator for alumni-led startups   The Harvard Innovation Labs, an ecosystem that supports Harvard students and select alumni in exploring innovation and entrepreneurship, is hosting its first annual Launch Lab X Startup Showcase on May 23 at 5:15 p.m. The event will feature five-minute pitches from the startups that participated in the inaugural Launch Lab X accelerator program for Harvard alumni-led ventures.More than 260 ventures from 36 countries applied to Launch Lab X. In September 2018, 13 startups began the nine-month program, which was divided into three 90-day sprints. Each sprint culminated in a pitch and feedback session with investors, prospective customers, and industry leaders, giving teams the time, guidance, and 360-degree view necessary to transform materially into sustainable, disruptive businesses with real-world impact. To push progress, ventures gained access to expert coaching within a like-minded community, and developed roadmaps designed explicitly for their businesses.Accomplishments from Launch Lab X ventures included:Launching world-changing products: More than half of the ventures launched a new product or service, including Nebula Genomics’ private and secure DNA testing kit; Nurse-1-1’s app that allows people to chat privately with a nurse about health concerns 24/7; Electra Labs’ solution for advancing the safe, effective, and personalized introduction of medicine; and MakerFleet’s 3D Printing Management Software.Growing customer bases and teams: Collectively, Launch Lab X teams secured thousands of new customers over the course of nine months. Notably, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jamber reported that it is on track to sell hundreds of thousands of mugs in 2019. Additionally, more New York City residents began using Mobley’s furniture rental solution, Zubale saw increased use of its consumer research app, and Gain Life added customers for its software that drives behavior change. More than 60 percent of the ventures who participated in Launch Lab X hired staff to support their growth.Receiving recognition from prestigious startup competitions and awards: Learning how to tell a compelling venture story to prospective customers, employees, and investors is a primary focus of Launch Lab X. These stories were well-received in a number of competitions. Legacy won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt in Berlin for its innovative approach to addressing the decline in male fertility; Nebula Genomics won the SXSW Startup Pitch “Best in Show” for its private and secure DNA testing kit; Nilus received an honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019 for its solution to reduce food waste; and Sophya was recognized as a finalist in the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge for helping students learn more effectively on the internet.Raising capital: Launch Lab X ventures collectively raised millions of dollars in funding during the program. One notable raise was Zoba’s $3 million seed round. The company is building the next generation of spatial analytics to improve the efficiency of cities and the lives of the people who live in them.The Launch Lab X Startup Showcase is free, and open to the public. Register to attend at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/launch-lab-x-startup-showcase-tickets-60734489493 last_img read more