ONE blog – MARTIN BELK – ‘For your consideration: MISS GRACE JONES’

You don’t ‘go see’ Grace Jones. You lounge with Grace Jones. Glasgow. 22 January 09


Somehow, although spending much of my young adulthood in New York City (well before HBO and Giuliani), 10 years of it as a club producer (before we had titles like ‘producer’) I missed Grace Jones…at Palladium (gone); At Mudd Club (gone); Or Roseland (gone or is now a senior center) — but as music, style and well, style goes: I didn’t miss her music or her influence.

My friend Paige Reynolds (RIP darling), a notorious NYC downtown performer, channeled Jones’ trademark flat top in blonde. I slaved to her rhythm on more than one trips (yes) through dance floor paradise. I sang ‘pull up to the bumper’ every time I flirted with someone or told an off color joke.

Tonight, I approached Grace Jones’ performance with pause. Too many musicians, writers and artists have ruined my palate for them by touring for money, peddling radio-shack remixes, or trying to be young because they got older and are afraid to die. Too many more have tried to come back from the grave by trying to imitate the hateful world of fake celebrity. Not Grace, in album or deed. This evening, all ages of ladies and gentlemen were on their feet for a chanteuse who is purely professional: in tune, in tone, and an artform unto herself. Dada.

The reputed Glaswegian audience — which I prefer to New York or London — reveled in the party, keeping up with Jones, responding as strongly to the positive, transformative lyrics and vibes of her latest compact disc release as her older hits. Her stage was a deconstructed workshop of subtle lighting and deliberate movement.

A few weeks back, I attempted to contact her ‘people’ in New York to set up an interview with Miss Jones for ONE. For years on the downtown scene, I’d heard rumors that she had bad bouts with drugs, and like most of us former believers of Gotham, herself. Unfortunately, there was no response to my request. But upon leaving the SECC Auditorium, I was partially relieved. Was it Picasso that said “never ruin a painting by meeting the painter?” Jones’ show is a living collage.

A simple response to my email would have been nice, but perhaps her ‘people’ just haven’t received the memo about the new era that began in Washington two days ago, or been able to comprehend the positive, spiritually incredible new incarnation of a sixty year old artist who gets it.

“All of old. Nothing Else Ever. Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Better.” –Samuel Beckett

Martin Belk