By Nikki Hedrick
The language of music can be a powerful tool for change. As humans, we find that moment in a song when we fully hear it—the expression of emotion behind someone’s point of view that can be so outside your own experience, yet you feel it in your bones.
I have a very specific memory of listening to “Open Letter (To a Landlord)” from Living Colour’s Vivid album and having one of those moments. I’d never lived in a big city or heard the term “gentrification”—after all, I was still in elementary school. But I could feel the ramifications of it. I could understand the lyrics that related to how greed was uprooting homes without compassion. The song planted seeds of empathy and social awareness about a situation removed from my own.
That’s still the power of Living Colour. Even in 2017, as it sometimes feels that the divide is growing, they step up and earnestly share of themselves with their new album Shade.
“It’s great to still be together after all these years as brothers,” shares longtime Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish. “To make music that is still being received and relevant. This product Shade is kind of like a testimony in a sense, almost like an autobiography of who we are and what we stand for as individuals. To be able to be out here now and do this, and still have people who want to come check us out and digging the record—my dear, that’s all you can ask for in this world.”
Wimbish has a firm understanding of the impact Living Colour can make on personal perceptions. That understanding is rooted in warmth and compassion, making Wimbish a joy to talk to.
“Music is a reflection of your life in my opinion, and how you live it comes out in your music. Being engaged at this period of time in history and all the things that are going on in this world, all over the world…Living Colour has never been a band to just play the role of playing it safe and staying away from issues that maybe other artists might feel that their career might be threatened if they speak up on things that might be sensitive.
“The role that we play, the position that we are in—as African Americans, as people of this planet, and people that are just trying to be conscious of all different things that are going on… Not just in our neighborhood, but in all neighborhoods, we are just trying to find a way to put that in the conversation.”
Shade makes some surprising choices, including featuring three covers from three very different artists—Robert Johnson, Marvin Gaye, and The Notorious B.I.G.
The Robert Johnson song “Preachin’ Blues” marked the beginnings of the new album. In 2012, Living Colour was asked to perform at the Robert Johnson at 100 event at Apollo Theater.
“We put the song together in the dressing room,” says Wimbish. “There was no rehearsal. We played the Apollo and got a standing ovation. And it wasn’t that it was stroking our egos, it was more about the idea of being able to celebrate with our peers and also be able to have this spirit of Robert Johnson get infused in us for a minute.
“We said to ourselves, as we were in the process of trying to make a record, What just happened first of all, and maybe this is the direction we should take—to see if Living Colour can have a conversation and start to engage in the DNA in the blues, the history of it. How does it actually play out to different styles of music of today? So ‘Preachin’ Blues’ was the lightning bolt, the start of the conversation.”
Wimbish brought in longtime friend and producer Andre Betts, who helped Living Colour restructure their writing process. “Dre wanted everyone to be a part of the writing and everything to be spontaneous. It gave us a sense of togetherness, and it gave us a sense of having a discussion. We are working everyone’s moment as strength. We worked it like old Motown stuff.”
In an industry where there is a growing need to follow up every song with two more, Wimbish and Living Colour aimed for Shade to be something of lasting substance. “Either you got it right or you don’t. You have one chance at a first impression. This album could have come out in 2014, but there was a lot of deep breaks and breakdowns and we just had to keep at it.”
Was the wait worth it? I think so. Shade is timeless and unabashedly Living Colour. They didn’t rest on their past successes, they struck out for new ground.
“I’m proud of this,” Wimbish says of the album. “I’m proud of my bandmates, I’m proud of our label. We did have to go through some transitions, but that’s life. Life is about choices. Giving up is easy, emotions are part of what went into this record and that is what the blues represents—stories, emotions, and it has not all been easy. We have to represent what is happening right now through the lens of Living Colour.”
If you dive into Wimbish’s history, music has always been there. From Sugarhill Records, playing bass on Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five tracks, to working with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Madonna, it’s a who’s who of icons. But that drive starts somewhere.
“You have to support the youth,” says Wimbish. “To support live music, you have to make sure it is infused and available through the arts. You have to go to town hall and say that we need enough funds to ensure that our kids are able to explore and use their imaginations. It has to be there. It has to be supported.
“And go see live music. Support all the music. Support these kids so they have the opportunity to use their imagination and the music will always be there.”
On Nov. 7, Destin will have its own opportunity to support Living Colour by seeing them live at Club LA. “I’m looking forward to coming to Destin and getting our groove on there,” says Wimbish.
When I share how personally excited I am about the show, once again I’m treated to Wimbish’s heart and humility. “Thank you for believing in the band. We appreciate it.”
- Art Classes & Workshops
- Art Events
- Art Galleries
- Call to Artists
- Nikki Hedrick: 5 Ways You Can Support the Arts
- Robin Wiesneth: My Creative Kickstarts
- Bruce Collier: 10 Things I’d Never Write in a Restaurant Review
- Nikki Hedrick: Misconceptions About Vegetarianism
- Restaurant Guide
- Taco Variations and Cool Stuff to Look at in Santa Rosa Beach
- Where to Spend Your Happy Hours in Beachcomberland
- Aimee Shaffer: My Favorite Animal Events to Emcee
- Nikki Hedrick: 6 Things You Can Do to Make Your Wedding Day Easier
- “Hey!” 5 Musicians Who Inspire Cheryl Jones
- Beachcomberland’s Greatest Hits
- Bobby Tomberlin: My Earl Thomas Conley Top 5
- Drink On It – Blake Shelton’s Favorite Drinking Songs
- Joe Fingas’ Favorite Blues Men and Women
- Live Music
- Nikki Hedrick: How to Become a Concert Photographer
- Woofy Ramone’s 2019 Record Store Day Finds
Aimee Shaffer: My Favorite Animal Events to Emcee
In no particular order… The PAWS “On the Throttle” Poker Run. This biker-supported fundraiser, held every mid-March, brings together bikers who travel to several bars and restaurants in Okaloosa and Walton...
Alaqua’s Hero Dogs: Headed for Hollywood?
Alaqua Animal Refuge is proud to announce that four Alaqua alumni dogs have been nominated for the national American Humane Hero Dog Awards, which celebrates the incredible relationship between dogs and people,...
THROUGH SUNDAY, APRIL 28 EMERALD COAST VOLLEYBALL WEEK The Boardwalk, Okaloosa Island EmeraldCoastVolleyball.com Over 300 teams compete. Players and spectators welcome. THURSDAY, APRIL 25 OKALOOSA COUNTY FARMERS MARKET Northwest Florida Fairgrounds, Fort...
Antiques De France Antiques & Flea Mkt. with over 80+ vendors, lots of unique items to choose from. 230 S.E. Eglin Pkwy. 850-314-7500. SMITH’S ANTIQUES MALL & INTERIORS MARKET 25,000 sq. ft....
Notes from the Apocalypse
By Charles Morgan III Our society faces a seemingly endless number of critical issues today. On an international, national and local level, political, environmental and social arguments abound on topics that...
Taco Variations and Cool Stuff to Look at in Santa Rosa Beach
If you love tacos and their variations, but want something more than a fast-food experience—such as servers, a full bar, comfy seats and cool stuff to look at while you eat—Red Fish...