Ian Brennan "Silenced by Sound" + The Good Ones

Tuesday October 1, 7:00PM

@ Red Emma's

With a special acoustic set by Rwanda's The Good Ones!  

Popular culture has woven itself into the social fabric of our lives, penetrating people’s homes and haunting their psyches through images and earworm hooks. Justice, at most levels, is something the average citizen may have little influence upon, leaving us feeling helpless and complacent. But pop music is a neglected arena where concrete change can occur—by exercising active and thoughtful choices to reject the low-hanging, omnipresent corporate fruit, we begin to rebalance the world, one engaged listener at a time.

Silenced by Sound: The Music Meritocracy Myth is a powerful exploration of the challenges facing art, music, and media in the digital era. With his fifth book, producer, activist, and author Ian Brennan delves deep into his personal story to address the inequity of distribution in the arts globally. Brennan challenges music industry tycoons by skillfully demonstrating that there are millions of talented people around the world far more gifted than the superstars for whom billions of dollars are spent to promote the delusion that they have been blessed with unique genius.

We are invited to accompany the author on his travels, finding and recording music from some of the world’s most marginalized peoples. In the breathtaking range of this book, our preconceived notions of art are challenged by musicians from South Sudan to Kosovo, as Brennan lucidly details his experiences recording music by the Tanzania Albinism Collective, the Zomba Prison Project, a “witch camp” in Ghana, the Vietnamese war veterans of Hanoi Masters, the Malawi Mouse Boys, the Canary Island whistlers, genocide survivors in both Cambodia and Rwanda, and more.

Silenced by Sound is defined by muscular, terse, and poetic verse, and a nonlinear format rife with how-to tips and anecdotes. The narrative is driven and made corporeal via the author’s ongoing field-recording chronicles, his memoir-like reveries, and the striking photographs that accompany these projects.

After reading it, you’ll never hear quite the same again.



“An interesting and important project.”
—Noam Chomsky

“There is hope. Thanks to Ian Brennan for shining a light.”
—Bill Frisell

“Every page of Silenced by Sound is like listening to a fresh, bracing, previously unknown kind of music for the very first time.”
—David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

“Brennan presents a hefty, bracing tome . . .”
Booklist

“. . . full of wisdom from someone who cares deeply about the power of real music.”
MOJO

Ian Brennan is a Grammy-winning music producer who has produced three other Grammy-nominated albums. He is the author of four books and has worked with the likes of filmmaker John Waters, Merle Haggard, and Green Day, among others. His work with international artists such as the Zomba Prison Project, Tanzania Albinism Collective, and Khmer Rouge Survivors, has been featured on the front page of the New York Times and on an Emmy-winning 60 Minutes segment with Anderson Cooper reporting. Since 1993 he has taught violence prevention and conflict resolution around the world for such prestigious organizations as the Smithsonian, New York’s New School, Berklee College of Music, the University of London, the University of California–Berkeley, and the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze (Rome).


The Good Ones are a trio of Rwandan genocide survivors who play joyous, acoustic love songs written in the ancient local, Kinyarwanda street dialect of the outskirts of their nation's capital, Kigali. Primary songwriter Adrien Kazigira interweaves intricate harmonies with co-singer, Janvier Havugimana. In a style often referred to as "workersongs from the streets," these simple, direct and plaintive love songs speak more to the healing power of peace than a thousand academic treatises or preachy goodwill ambassadors ever could.

The Good Ones roots music is so strongly regarded that multiple respected artists have collaborated on their forthcoming third album, including members of the Grammy-nominated groups Wilco and TV on the Radio, as well as members of Sleater-Kinney, My Bloody Valentine, and Fugazi.

More upcoming events

@ Red Emma's

From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a bracingly original approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.

“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it—and then dismantle it.”


Join us as we celebrate the release of an essential new anthology on the political and racial economy of urban life in Baltimore!


Nicknamed both “Mobtown” and “Charm City” and located on the border of the North and South, Baltimore is a city of contradictions. From media depictions in The Wire to the real-life trial of police officers for the murder of Freddie Gray, Baltimore has become a quintessential example of a struggling American city. Yet the truth about Baltimore is far more complicated—and more fascinating.

 
To help untangle these apparent paradoxes, the editors of Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a US City have assembled a collection of over thirty experts from inside and outside academia. Together, they reveal that Baltimore has been ground zero for a slew of neoliberal policies, a place where inequality has increased as corporate interests have eagerly privatized public goods and services to maximize profits. But they also uncover how community members resist and reveal a long tradition of Baltimoreans who have fought for social justice.
 
The essays in this collection take readers on a tour through the city’s diverse neighborhoods, from the Lumbee Indian community in East Baltimore to the crusade for environmental justice in South Baltimore. Baltimore Revisited examines the city’s past, reflects upon the city’s present, and envisions the city’s future.

@ Red Emma's

A veteran activist’s guide to direct action and strategic civil disobedience as the most radical and rapid means to social change

For decades, Lisa Fithian’s work as an advocate for civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action has put her on the frontlines of change. Described by Mother Jones as “the nation’s best-known protest consultant,” Fithian has supported countless movements including the Battle of Seattle in 1999, rebuilding and defending communities following Hurricane Katrina, Occupy Wall Street, and the uprisings at Standing Rock and in Ferguson. For anyone who wants to become more active in resistance or is just feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, Shut It Down offers strategies and actions you can take right now to promote justice and incite change in your own community.

In Shut It Down Fithian shares historic, behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most important people-powered movements of the past several decades. She shows how movements that embrace direct action have always been, and continue to be, the most radical and rapid means for transforming the ills of our society. Shut It Down is filled with instructions and inspiration for how movements can evolve as the struggle for social justice continues in the Trump era and beyond.

While recognizing that electoral politics, legislation, and policy are all important pathways to change, Shut It Down argues that civil disobedience is not just one of the only actions that remains when all else fails, but a spiritual pursuit that protects our deepest selves and allows us to reclaim our humanity. Change can come, but only if we’re open to creatively, lovingly, and strategically standing up, sometimes at great risk to ourselves, to protect what we love.

From sneakers to leather jackets, a bold, witty, and deeply personal dive into Black America's closet In this highly engaging book, fashionista and pop culture expert Tanisha C. Ford investigates Afros and dashikis, go-go boots and hotpants of the sixties, hip hop's baggy jeans and bamboo earrings, and the #BlackLivesMatter-inspired hoodies of today.

The history of these garments is deeply intertwined with Ford’s story as a black girl coming of age in a Midwestern rust belt city. She experimented with the Jheri curl; discovered how wearing the wrong color tennis shoes at the roller rink during the drug and gang wars of the 1980s could get you beaten; and rocked oversized, brightly colored jeans and Timberlands at an elite boarding school where the white upper crust wore conservative wool shift dresses.

Dressed in Dreams is a story of desire, access, conformity, and black innovation that explains things like the importance of knockoff culture; the role of “ghetto fabulous” full-length furs and colorful leather in the 1990s; how black girls make magic out of a dollar store t-shirt, rhinestones, and airbrushed paint; and black parents' emphasis on dressing nice. Ford talks about the pain of seeing black style appropriated by the mainstream fashion industry and fashion’s power, especially in middle America. In this richly evocative narrative, she shares her lifelong fashion revolution—from figuring out her own personal style to discovering what makes Midwestern fashion a real thing too.

@ Red Emma's

In this book, Ashanté M. Reese makes clear the structural forces that determine food access in urban areas, highlighting Black residents’ navigation of and resistance to unequal food distribution systems. Linking these local food issues to the national problem of systemic racism, Reese examines the history of the majority-Black Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, Reese not only documents racism and residential segregation in the nation’s capital but also tracks the ways transnational food corporations have shaped food availability. By connecting community members’ stories to the larger issues of racism and gentrification, Reese shows there are hundreds of Deanwoods across the country.

Reese’s geographies of self-reliance offer an alternative to models that depict Black residents as lacking agency, demonstrating how an ethnographically grounded study can locate and amplify nuances in how Black life unfolds within the context of unequal food access.

With Reverend Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr. of Union Baptist Church!

In A Brotherhood of Liberty, Dennis Patrick Halpin shifts the focus of the black freedom struggle from the Deep South to argue that Baltimore is key to understanding the trajectory of civil rights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1870s and early 1880s, a dynamic group of black political leaders migrated to Baltimore from rural Virginia and Maryland. These activists, mostly former slaves who subsequently trained in the ministry, pushed Baltimore to fulfill Reconstruction's promise of racial equality. In doing so, they were part of a larger effort among African Americans to create new forms of black politics by founding churches, starting businesses, establishing community centers, and creating newspapers. Black Baltimoreans successfully challenged Jim Crow regulations on public transit, in the courts, in the voting booth, and on the streets of residential neighborhoods. They formed some of the nation's earliest civil rights organizations, including the United Mutual Brotherhood of Liberty, to define their own freedom in the period after the Civil War.

Halpin shows how black Baltimoreans' successes prompted segregationists to reformulate their tactics. He examines how segregationists countered activists' victories by using Progressive Era concerns over urban order and corruption to criminalize and disenfranchise African Americans. Indeed, he argues the Progressive Era was crucial in establishing the racialized carceral state of the twentieth-century United States. Tracing the civil rights victories scored by black Baltimoreans that inspired activists throughout the nation and subsequent generations, A Brotherhood of Liberty highlights the strategies that can continue to be useful today, as well as the challenges that may be faced.


From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce White supremacy and deepen social inequity.

Benjamin argues that automation, far from being a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, has the potential to hide, speed up, and deepen discrimination while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to the racism of a previous era. Presenting the concept of the “New Jim Code,” she shows how a range of discriminatory designs encode inequity by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies; by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions; or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. Moreover, she makes a compelling case for race itself as a kind of technology, designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice in the architecture of everyday life.

This illuminating guide provides conceptual tools for decoding tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold but also the ones we ourselves manufacture.

From the Cold War through today, the U.S. has quietly assisted dozens of regimes around the world in suppressing civil unrest and securing the conditions for the smooth operation of capitalism. Casting a new light on American empire, Badges Without Borders shows, for the first time, that the very same people charged with global counterinsurgency also militarized American policing at home.

In this groundbreaking exposé, Stuart Schrader shows how the United States projected imperial power overseas through police training and technical assistance—and how this effort reverberated to shape the policing of city streets at home. Examining diverse records, from recently declassified national security and intelligence materials to police textbooks and professional magazines, Schrader reveals how U.S. police leaders envisioned the beat to be as wide as the globe and worked to put everyday policing at the core of the Cold War project of counterinsurgency. A “smoking gun” book, Badges without Borders offers a new account of the War on Crime, “law and order” politics, and global counterinsurgency, revealing the connections between foreign and domestic racial control.