An Ode to John Sinclair by DJ Steve Fly

Inspired by the life and work of prominent American activist and jazz poet John Sinclair - DJ Steve Fly will bring us the best of spoken word and reefer jazz during Amsterdam's Red Light Jazz Festival. With guest vocals by Esther Croez.

When: Friday June 7 | 4.30–7.30 pm
Location: Hemp Gallery - Oudezijds Achterburgwal 130, Amsterdam
Free entrance

An ode to John Sinclair

Prominent American writer, poet and political activist John Sinclair was arrested in January 1967 for giving away two joints of marijuana and sentenced to ten years in prison for possession of the two joints in July 1969. The sentence was widely characterized as unduly harsh, and it galvanized a noisy protest movement led by prominent figures of the 1960s counterculture. Sinclair was eventually freed on bond in December 1971 after John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Seale, Allen Ginsberg and a host of others appeared on his behalf at a Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor, and his conviction was overturned in March 1972 when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana laws were unconstitutional. 

Sinclair spent 12 years in New Orleans at WWOZ radio and left the US in 2003 to move to Amsterdam, where he launched his own radio station: Radio Free Amsterdam, in January 2005. Now 77, Sinclair is presently based in Detroit.

The show on the 7th of June will be an ode to John Sinclair, his activism, poetry and love for jazz.

Reefer Jazz

In the early twentieth century, young jazz musicians in New Orleans were among the first Americans to experiment with marijuana. They played at the brothels in Storyville, the New Orleans red light district, and they smoked gage, tea, muggles and Mary Jane. As the story goes, they soon named themselves vipers due to the hissing sound made when taking a quick drag on a reefer (joint). 

Major names in the jazz scene – such as Satchmo, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie or Duke Ellington – developed a preference for cannabis as a mind-expanding substance to inspire them or help them relax.

DJ Steve Fly

As a scratch DJ, DJ Steve Fly has performed hundreds of shows from British Columbia to New York to Los Angeles, for the most part with jam band super-group Garaj Mahal, he’s performed with Alan Hertz & Friends, The Fareed Haque Group, Mama Sutra, and The Gregory James Band. 

Steve Fly currently builds radio shows for Radio Free Amsterdam, founded by John Sinclair, with a taste for funk, blues, spoken word and jazz. 

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