This week on PODCAST EPISODE #208 DICK GREGORY & THE MERCY NOW. Richard Claxton Gregory (October 12, 1932 – August 19, 2017) was an African American comedian, civil rights activist, social critic, writer, entrepreneur, conspiracy theorist, and occasional actor. During the turbulent 1960s, Gregory became a pioneer in stand-up comedy for his “no-holds-barred” sets, in which he mocked bigotry and racism. He performed primarily to black audiences at segregated clubs until 1961, when he became the first black comedian to successfully cross over to white audiences, appearing on television and putting out comedy record albums. Gregory was at the forefront of political activism in the 1960s, when he protested the Vietnam War and racial injustice. He was arrested multiple times and went on many hunger strikes. He later became a motivational speaker and author, primarily promoting spirituality. Gregory died of heart failure at a Washington, D.C. hospital at age 84 in August 2017.

The Mercy Now is a Canadian rock band from Toronto. The group’s members include X-Shikasta frontman Russell Fernandes (vocals, bass and guitar), Adam Burnett (vocals, guitar and bass), David Viva (guitar, keyboards and vocals) and Lee Rogers (drums and vocals). They formed in 2006 and have released several notable independent recordings including 2010’s Ian Blurton produced Self Control, which included the song Hard Times, nominated as a finalist and receiving an honorable mention in the rock category in the International Songwriting Competition whose judges included Peter Gabriel and Tom Waits. Benjamin Bowles of Toronto’s Now Magazine gave the record a four out of five star rating stating, “When you find yourself involuntarily banging your head 10 seconds into an album and the hard-rock fever doesn’t break until the end, that’s a very good sign.” Johnson Cummins of the Montreal Mirror stated, “If there is a better current rock band in Canada, I’ve yet to hear them.”

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