Strictly Rhythm 1971 Revisits Pivotal Year in Music at MOCA Cleveland

Fri 5/12 @ 8PM

In 1971, one of the most powerful albums in the history of pop music was released on the Motown label, long a bastion of glossy soul/pop but yielding to the winds of social and political change. While some of the “political” songs released by the label seemed lightweight, there was nothing superficial about Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

And who would have believed that so much of it sounds like it could have been released yesterday, with its title track about dissension, protest, war’s destructive pointlessness and police violence (incredibly, a #2 record on the Billboard singles chart) or “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” whose lyrics sound like that fundraising email you just got minutes ago from an environmental group.

It was a time of social, cultural and musical shifts, for better and worse, as the ferment of the ’60s dissolved into something both more radical and more mundane that sowed seeds bearing fruit today.

Local poet and founder/executive director of the Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator in the Waterloo Arts District Daniel Gray-Kontar looks back to that time at the Strictly Rhythm 1971 evening at MOCA Cleveland. He’ll join with DJ Rich Medina to perform new and original work that pays tribute to the past and honors the present, accompanied by live world-music percussion.

The performance will be followed by a Sanctuary-style after party, described as “a hypnotic, multi-ethnic mixture of people, bands and DJs curated by Kontar and Mark A Mathews.” It includes a range of music from soul to house to hip hop to Afrobeat.

Doors open at 8pm. Archie Green will perform with DJ Candi Fresca at 8:30, followed by Gray-Kontar at 8:45. The dance party will be going strong from 9pm-1am. Tickets are $5-$15.

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