As a large percentage of you probably know, Ari Up (Slits, True Warriors, and a/k/a Medussa) passed away this past October, but not without leaving this planet with an abundance of music, memories and occasions to remind us of her soul. Ari struck me as someone who couldn't be "turned off"; sadly with her passing, we know that is not true, and it still seems unreal, in reflecting on the vibrancy she had. Those of us who witnessed her perform, witnessed her living life - exclamation after exclamation, present to every second she had. She would have turned 49 on Monday, and at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday 1/16, will be the "Ari Up Punky Reggae Birthday Party", featuring members of the Slits original and current; the True Warriors, a later group that Ari fronted, and many many more guests.
The show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday is a benefit and proceeds will go to The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Tickets are available here. Leading up to that, there were 2 special programs aired on WFMU this week;
On Miniature Minotaurs with Kurt this past Wednesday, we heard a set from the Ari Up & the True Warriors' performance from Santo's Party House from October 2008, courtesy of Punkcast.com- the playlist from that program here.
In addition, Pat was notorious for having recorded shows all over the tri-state area back in the early punk years, so here is a link to a recording he made of the Slits from My Father's Place in Long Island dated July 1981. The timed link is here, so you'll be joining the show when Pat announces the set, the playlist is here so you can follow along! Kurt penned a great Slit's piece for Perfect Sound Forever in 2007, here's a bit of it- I recommend you check out the entire piece here. "After a strong, 70-minute set to a packed room that somehow found them after being shut down twice, they encored with "Let's Do the Splits," one of their earliest songs, unreleased save for a Peel session version. As soon as they finished, Ari, all smiles, yelled "Let's (do) it again, like it's 1976! It's the remix – 1976!" And they played it again. AND here's another Punkcast of Ari in London.
The only time I ever met Ari was at WFMU in 2003. Working with her on the broadcast from 5/8/2003 was playful, fun, and nerveracking at the same time. She seemed to live to break barriers, to always try new things- which sometimes in the studio could momentarily cause upset and consternation. I found myself saying more than once, "what the hell is she doing??" In the broadcast itself, you can hear her own astonishment sometimes when it was time for another song. She choreographed every song and every move, even though it was radio. She went from 0 to 60 in less than a half dubstep.
The True Warriors performance had been booked by Jen Klein who assisted Pat for quite some time, and Ari assumed I was Jen, and I didn't make the correction for her, and actually didn't realize it until the set was underway. There was a break in one song where she chanted "Jen Klein, Pat Duncan and WFMU" over and over again- all the while looking at Pat and I through the glass and smiling with a big thumbs up. She seemed pleased that she was including Pat and myself in the performance itself even though we were in the other half of the studio. It was evident that her heart was huge and it was all about creating her life from minute to minute. These recordings are a pretty great example of her vast energy and originality. Sets from Tuesday and Wednesday's broadcasts on WFMU are both part of the Free Music Archive, where you can also find a fantasticly energetic performance of Ari Up with The Slits live at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona last summer!
Time to rest came far too soon for a spirit like Ari, and we can all be truly thankful for the contribution she decided to leave for us. Thank you, Ari!