It’s almost impossible not to view everything around us — whether it’s music, books, movies or films — in the context of the political turmoil washing over the United States right now. (We see what you’re doing with the Dothraki and Unsullied, David Benioff and Dan Weiss.) Some artists get pushed into tackling the times, and some go there by choice.
This week, we meet three people responding with music, words and more.
Songwriter Bhi Bhiman Digs Into American Divisions With ‘Peace Of Mind’ —
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman has three solo albums under his belt and has done plenty of songs with a political or social subtext. But for his latest record, “Peace of Mind,” he focused closely on political division and decided to produce a companion 10-episode podcast digging deep into his own questions about issues such as immigration, voting rights, gender equality and more. It features engaged guests such as Dave Eggers, retired judge LaDoris Cordell and “Snap Judgment“ host Glynn Washington. Bhiman’s curiosity leads in interesting directions, especially at a time when we’re all feeling less sure of what endures in democracy. He’ll play music from the album at Portland’s Old Church next Wednesday, May 8.
Standing Up: Comedian Mohanad Elshieky Fights Border Patrol Detention —
Libyan-born, Portland-based comedian Mohanad Elshieky has experienced first hand the distrust and suspicion our current political climate has sown for immigrants and refugees — especially those coming from North African nations.
Earlier this year, the story of Elshieky’s detention by Border Patrol officers Spokane went viral. And just last week he filed an official complaint against U.S. Customs and Border Protection, alleging false imprisonment and false arrest. Elshieky is in the United States legally as a political refugee from Libya. He attended Portland State University, where a public speaking professor encouraged him to pursue stand-up. Elshieky stopped by “Think Out Loud” to talk about becoming a comic and why it’s important for him to stick his neck out. Ready to see Elshieky onstage? He’s part of Pop-Up Magazine’s Portland shows May 13 and 14, and in Seattle May 15.
Marisa Anderson’s Silver Lining —
Marisa Anderson is one of our favorite guitarists. Her playing is full of texture and moods, pulling you inward while letting your mind wander — a perfect soundtrack for a long journey — even when sitting still.
On her new record, “Cloud Corner,” her compositions release like an exhalation. She spoke to us about how the album was informed by political upheaval as well as some intense changes in her personal life. Ready for more? Here’s a beautiful live session, recorded by Banana Stand Media and hosted by opbmusic, with Anderson performing one of her newer songs, “Sanctuary.”