This past Friday night we hosted the FADER #38 issue release party in honor of - you know this by now - the indubitable Nina Simone. Nina passed away in her home in France on April 21st, 2003, so the party was much, much more than a celebration of a new issue of the magazine - it was also a tribute to the conflicted and heroic capital-a Artist herself on the third anniversary of her death. As a sort of informal memorial, we packed a couple hundred friends into Joe's Pub, rolled in a bunch of Bud Select and invited Tiombe Lockhart (a member of the Platinum Pied Pipers and a solo artist in her own right) and Mira Billotte of White Magic to jump onstage and play a couple songs each.
Tiombe started her mini set off with a re-imagined version of Nina's "My Baby Just Cares For Me", sparsely accompanied by her bass player, then dove headlong into a couple of her vicious, electro-soul originals. After more than a couple hours at the bar, it was hard to get the crowd to quiet all the way down for the quiet intensity of Mira Billotte, but those that dug in and listened up heard Mira, Doug Shaw on guitar and the absolutely stunning Jim White of the Dirty Three on drums, strike a dark and transcendentally beautiful mood. The set ended with Mira's rendition of Nina's "Plain Gold Ring" - it was sad, plaintive, ferocious and category-defying, much like the guest of honor en absentia herself.