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Mission of Burma's Roger Miller does his part for Tibet
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  December 9, 2007
Mission of Burma

The Middle East corner is not exactly where you’d expect to find Mission of Burma guitarist Roger Miller performing on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Miller’s set, which included the Kinks’ “I’m Not like Everybody Else” and some of his other favorite cover tunes, was part of a larger gathering that offered acoustic sets by Hope Roth, Christian McNeill, and the Boston Tibetan Dance Group in a hastily arranged benefit by Students for a Free Tibet. The idea, as the 2008 Summer Olympics approach, is “to embarrass China,” said organizer Rick Roth, treasurer of SFAFT. Kurt Langer, who started SFAFT in 1994, added that they want to “refocus the spotlight on the Chinese to China’s record on humanitarian and environmental issues.”

Roth, a long-time activist, and Miller are friends, and Miller agreed to the last-minute gig, reworking Burma obscurities and rarities, covering Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” and Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play.” Singer/guitarist McNeill — formerly of Hybrasil and Orchestra Morphine — said, “This was a no-brainer. I’ve been working with Rick and Amnesty International a long time.”

The Boston Tibetan Dance Group, six musicians playing oud-like stringed instruments, closed the night. One tune was explained as “a Tibetan beer/wine song.” Roth: “Not only are they righteous, they’re fucking funny.” After their set, one of the Tibetan musicians, Tenzin Sonam, said, “It’s very important to keep our culture alive in the hearts of the younger people, to create awareness of Tibet, to be able to explain its current status.” The Boston Tibetan community, he said, is “small, but unified,” adding that “this is an informal way to break into people’s minds.”

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