Farewell, CApt. draw

Rest In Peace Pedro Bell aka Capt. Draw aka Sir Lleb, whose influential album covers for Funkadelic ignited the imaginations of music fans worldwide and helped cohere George Clinton’s Black Psychedelic vision into a powerful gestalt.

I hadn’t spoken to him in a bit, but I’ll always remember he was good to me when he didn’t have to be. As a young and clue-deficient whippersnapper, I sent him some 4-track cassette demos and asked him if he would make some art for a cassette release.

“I DON’T DO MICRO-PROJECTS SON, BUT KEEP SENDING ME STUFF,” came the reply via mail, complete with an elaborately decorated envelope.

After that, years of correspondence and support — once I started releasing music professionally he often turned people on to my albums and made sure I connected with key, like-minded folks. He also continued to send me custom art and cassettes of his own music (pictured below).

The legacy of his unique optics and slanguage — whipsmart, unapologetically Black, subversive— lives on in other art forms, detectable in Greg Tate’s writings, movies like “Sorry to Bother You”, thousands of indie music releases and more.

RIP Dro, and thank you.

By PC Muñoz


The Future is Not a Rock Star

Historians agree that the human voice was likely the first musical instrument utilized by prehistoric peoples. Tens of thousands of years and multiple technological shifts later, the voice remains the most powerful, expressive and personal of all our musical tools. Every day around the world for hundreds of reasons, people lift their voices and sing regardless of their level of training, talent or professional aspirations. If all human-made instruments were to suddenly disappear from the earth,  music could still be made through the power of the voice.

Prior to the dominant era of recorded music in the American pop music continuum, many families of various means kept a piano and a stack of sheet music in their parlor for post-dinner bonding and entertainment. In those days, singing popular songs was not a dreamy vehicle for stardom; it was an enriching pastime to share with loved ones. There were surely professional musicians in orchestras, touring shows, churches, and other institutions, as well as popular interpreters of song on the radio and in the movies, but the point was the song, not the singer. The star-making machinery had not yet been set in motion.