Beat.itude – the holy barbarians

I had been working with an improvising bongo player, Patrick Armenta, & flute virtuoso Arthur Fisher for a couple of years, experimenting with ways to capture the space & energy of our live performances on tape. We even tried recording in an old church up by UCSD. Finally we happened upon Steve Wetherbee‘s Golden Track studios, & some demos evolved into the concept for Beat.itude’s folk-meets-jazz vibe. Originally we were going to keep it bass-less, but after hearing Bob Magnusson‘s tone & creativity on a song or two, it became an integral part of every track.

I utilized the talents of some amazing San Diego jazz musicians as soloists on this project: Charles McPherson, Daniel Jackson, Steve Feierabend, Mitch Manker, Billy Thompson, Tommy Aros, & Hank Easton. In the process, the concept of evolving that sense of community, that I had enjoyed so often in the past, came back. So instead of making this a Chuck Perrin album, I decided to make the project about the talent & energies of all of the creative personalities involved. I dubbed us “the holy barbarians” – a reference to the famous book by Lawrence Lipton detailing the West coast beat scene c. 1959.
His thesis is that, when there is a crisis in a civilization (& sometimes that crisis is spiritual or moral), the barbarians appear on the frontiers. However, these “holy barbarians” are the artists, writers, & musicians, & they come, not with weapons of war, but with songs & icons of creativity – the very creativity which provides the antidote for a society racing toward structured vapidness.

Heavy . . . but perhaps the liner notes to Beat.itude will explain it better:

Bhur, bhuvar, svar . . . with three beats . . . the Hindu world was born.

The very word – the beat – is creation itself. The big boom that pounded this whole existence into being. With these three beats, the blue-oceaned-green-pastured earth was formed and the moon & sun & firmament board were stretched across the skies. The world that was drummed into being was a beautiful throbbing cosmos, spontaneous, harmonious, & balanced.

However, over thousands of years, we who people this planet have devolved into a society moving & changing at a frightening pace – a massive swirling maddening chaotic nebula chasing its tail in an endless effort to re-invent & complicate. Shhh . . . listen. You can hear it. The movement is so immense, it even has a sound, a buzz. Reality vibrates like an annoying electrical hum. Like the one they talk about in Taos, New Mexico. You don’t even realize it’s there, next thing you know you’re stressing, grabbing your head & thinking “Why the hell am I here?”

For most of us, it’s all we can do to just hold on, living for those rare moments when the buzz subsides, when the beat of the rhythm of life breaks thru like a fragment of some dream we recognize, but can’t . . . quite . . . remember. A tantalizing pulse that slips away all too soon, leaving us confused & disillusioned.

It’s so hard to stay focused with the billboards, blasting television sets, glaring advertisements, & the endless babbling, chattering mouths – all trying to shove that mass-produced self down your throat, telling you how you should be, what you should eat & should wear, how much you should weigh, what drugs are legal & okay, what kind of music sells, what’s in & what’s out.

Sometimes you just want to throw the metaphorical brick at the television & society & scream “Fuck you! I will wear garbage bags & eat nothing but giant pretzels. Fuck trends & hipness.”

We need music, prose, poetry, painting, photography, sculpture, & all the art forms to bust us out of the mold of conformity, to scream at us, to quell the din of reality’s drone, to focus that pure clear laser beam of artistic expression that can burn a hole thru the curtains of uncertainty & reconnect us to the rhythm of existence, allowing us to think clearly like we were created to do . . . to live.

I revel in the rebellions of others. I laud their versions of reality. I see my aching soul in their eyes, their poetry, their art, their music – their beat, going on & on. They are like my heart. I can hear the yearnings of my brother human as he stands on a lonely stage using his saxophone to trace the wanderings of a single note, a beautiful & unexpected stream of sounds that break the orgasmic aural floodgates.

When I experience the silent throbbing of the poet, I am feeling the pulse of another human, booming & pounding thru my veins. I am there too, participating at the center of life, living the uncensored dream.

We must break free of traditional meaning, living, & thinking.
We are not scheduled.
We are not planned.
We cannot be defined.
We are insane

This is life
This is the beat
So . . . start dancing.