• Makeshift Patriot, Hip-Hop Provocateur — Part 1: The London Experience

    by Jesse Loren

    Sage Francis’ music was introduced to me by my son, Jarrett, right after 9/11 when everyone was itching for retribution against anyone brown and Muslim. My son played Makeshift Patriot. It starts,“Makeshift patriot the flag shop is out of stock, I hung myself at half mast…” and ends, “…Don’t waive your rights with your flags.” My son and I were taken aback by the tour de force questioning of what was going on around us. We were not alone. Sage was the sage of our questioning.

    One breeze through You Tube shows that many folks have made slide shows to the song. Here’s an example: Makeshift.

    Over time, Sage Francis’ music and lyrics became regular points of discussion at our house. I compared the confessional style of his Personal Journals album to Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and the Metaphysical Poets. My son said and read the crunchy, complex lyrics which inspired him to write poetry. We enjoyed Sage, his lyrics fed our conversations, but I was not invited to go to shows. My son wouldn’t drag his mom to the Fillmore forSage’s last tour. Instead, Jarrett came home with the T-shirt from the LI(F)E tour, the new CD, and bubbled over with how great it was.

    I decided then that I had to meet Sage, see a show, and interview him for iPinion. Why not.

    First, I didn’t know how to reach him, his last U.S. tour was over. Second, he said he was taking a hiatus or something like that, and that his LI(F)E tour would be his last. However, he did have another show in London. Problem number three, the show was sold out. On the bright side, I would be in London at the same time as the show, at least I could be in the same town…

    Fast forward to July 14th. I was at lunch at the Globe Theatre where I was studying Shakespeare and had tickets for the evening performance of King Henry IV part 2, a great play that I had studied in preparation for the trip. I could go to Henry, or get a cab and show up and try to B.S. my way into the sold out show. Why not.

    About a week before the show, I finally reached Sage via email and pleaded my case for an interview and a press pass. He was polite, but had no interest in my comparison of his verbal virtuosity with Shakespeare’s.

    The place was sold out. His agent wouldn’t return my emails. It was not going to happen.

    But again, I didn’t think I would be studying Shakespeare at the Globe either. I applied for that opportunity, interviewed and thought, Why not. So, Why not?

    I got this sinking feeling, felt a fear of rejection and sent Sage a good luck email. It was an all new low for me.

    About two hours before the show I decided to GPS the location, shower, do my hair, stick my Henry ticket in my pocket and hail a pretty British black cab. I thought, “If I can’t get in I can at least make it back for Henry. I’ll never know if I don’t try.” I had researched, read and re-read the lyrics from The Best of Times , and knew he would sing it. I wanted to see the audience, how people reacted to his show. Would they raise their hands? Would they know the lyrics? In a way, it was psycho-stalker behavior, but then again interviewing him was something I just had to do. I mean, what would Hunter S. Thompson do? Right. The Globe stage emboldened me with new confidence.

    I paid the cabby, got in line with the hordes of hip hop fans lined up outside the door. I wore an English plaid jacket, a Gucci purse, boots, and looked a good 15 years older than the guy in front and the guy behind me. It was the best of times.

    When it was my turn at the door, I told them I didn’t have a ticket, but insisted I was on the list. The door guy checked and rechecked the list, then told me the agent was in Switzerland. He asked to see my Blackberry. I gave him my phone and just stood there like the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. He either trusted my honest face or was affected by my use of Jedi mind skills. I offered to pay for my ticket and he assured me that the agent would reimburse me.

    I walked in and descended the stairs to the underground show. Coming up the stairs toward me was Sage. I said, “Hi Sage,” and he said, “Jesse?… How did you get in? It’s sold out?” I told him I had mad skills and really looked forward to the show and an interview. It was the best of times.

    Sage Francis’ music can be found at Strange and Famous Records. Look for the interview next week at iPinion.me.

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