The War Sound Check

5:12 PM. Meanwhile, down the walkway a bit, over to the

left, is the "Rock" tent. This is where Carlos Santana did his sound check a

bit earlier. But right now War are getting it together. Like Santana (whose

first album came out in like 1968), these guys have been around forever. Their

innovative sound--a kind of East L. A. funk that incorporated both jazz

influences and world beat long beform anyone knew what world beat was--became

the low-riders' soundtrack.

All these years' later they're playing better

than ever. I know this because right at this very moment they are diggin' into

"Slippin' Into Darkness," which seemed totally relevent 20 years ago when it

was all over American radio, and seems just as timely right now, what with

Bosnia and the looming prospect of Internet censorship and crack dealers

practically on every street corner in the ghettos and.... But we'll leave all

of that for another day. After all, this is New Years and we're getting ready

to party.

And with Howard Scott leaning into the chunka chunka rhythm and

Lonnie Jordan tearin' into the vocal and three percussionists holding down the

rhytm and the horns wailing, this cavernous tent may be empy, but it's rockin'.

Except that the guys can't hear themselves and the sound balance isn't

quite right. But soon enough that's taken care of and they're on to "The World

Is A Ghetto," and, you know, it may be New Year's Eve and we may indeed be here

to party but you just can't get to far from reality when you're listening to a

band that is called War.

Back at ya in a bit.