Last week, Vulf Records mysteriously released two tracks under a moniker The Fearless Flyers. The new band, comprised of Vulfpeck bassist Joe Dart, guitarist Cory Wong, drummer Nate Smith, and Snarky Puppy guitarist Mark Lettieri, put out two songs on Monday and Wednesday, generating huge response to the funky-fresh releases. The new project, which is produced, composed, and mixed by the “Vulfmon” himself, Jack Stratton (bandleader/multi-instrumentalist of Vulfpeck), will be pressed on a limited supply of 12″ vinyl—though the campaign to reserve your own copy closed on Friday. From the time of the announcement, it was not clear whether or not The Fearless Flyers would release a full record, or if only the two songs would appear on the pressing.Then, on Friday, without much promotion outside of a few ambiguous posts on Vulfpeck’s social media pagges, The Fearless Flyers released the full EP on Bandcamp. In addition to the previously released “Aces of Aces” and “Under the Sea / Flyers Drive”, the self-titled debut record includes four additional tracks.“Introducing the Fearless Flyers” showcases the tight musicianship between the four players, providing the style of playing that fans of Vulfpeck crave from the band’s earlier days. A sped-up, jammed-out, funkified rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” appears on the EP, featuring guitarist Blake Mills and gospel performer Sandra Crouch. A secondary version of “Barbara” also appears on the record, featuring Sandra Crouch again on the tambourine, as a follow-up to Vulfpeck’s 2012 Vollmich version of the song.The six-track presentation closes with “Bicentennial”, a clear continuation of the closing groove from Vulfpeck’s 2017 “Grandma” from Mr. Finish Line. Vulfpeck’s soulful original version of the song features Antwaun Stanley on vocals, David T. Walker on guitar, and James Gadson on drums and closes with a 45-second groove that left fans wanting more. The Fearless Flyers’ “Bicentennial” is the extension of that groove and it features Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Elizabeth Lea on trombone and the voice of Jack Stratton as the “sibilant announcer.”With clear ties between Vulfpeck and The Fearless Flyers, it’s safe to say that the new band is a real thing–and we want more. You can own a copy of The Fearless Flyers today for $6, if you didn’t already reserve a copy of the vinyl, here.<a href=”http://vulf.bandcamp.com/album/the-fearless-flyers”>The Fearless Flyers by The Fearless Flyers</a>In other news, Apple recently released a new commercial for the Apple Pay feature, using Vulfpeck’s “Back Pocket” as the soundtrack. The commercial is in international circulation, positioning the song to get stuck in even more heads across the globe.Vulfpeck has a light year ahead of them, with only four dates on the calendar so far. Following a festival appearance at Sweetwater 420 and two nights in New Orleans, the funk quartet will head to Morrison, Colorado, for their first-ever headlining performance at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. With KNOWER and Kamasi Washington also on the bill, the 4/27 show is shaping up to be one of the most exciting to date. Head here for more information.
When Harvard Law School (HLS) Professor Lawrence Lessig was named director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics in 2008, he said he would create a limited-time project to research the problem of institutional corruption in the United States. He launched that project, the Edmund J. Safra Research Lab, in 2010, as a five-year effort to study the issue and come up with tools to understand it and respond to it better.On Friday and Saturday, a two-day conference called “Ending Institutional Corruption” will mark the end of that project, with dozens of speakers from academia, law, government, media, mind sciences, and citizen groups discussing the topic. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required.In addition to concluding the lab, Lessig is stepping down as the center’s director. (He will be succeeded by Danielle S. Allen, who has been appointed to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as a professor in the Government Department.) Lessig, author of the 2012 book “Republic, Lost,” which addressed congressional corruption, will continue teaching at HLS as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership.He also will remain active in the Mayday PAC, which he launched last year with the goal of reducing money’s influence on politics and government. Harvard Law Today spoke with Lessig recently about the lab and his future plans.HARVARD LAW TODAY: What were your specific goals when you set up the lab?LESSIG: I think the most important goal was to create an awareness of the kind of corruption that people are likely to miss or not think of as corruption. You can have an institution filled with totally non-corrupt people, but the institution itself has become corrupted because it’s opened itself to inferences that undermine its purpose or undermine the public trust in the institution. That’s the dynamic of corruption we’re trying to make salient, and to think about in a wide range of contexts, from the academy to scientific research, to the way courts function, to the way Congress functions, to any institution in principle that could be subject to this kind of corruption. We’re trying to find a way to understand it and respond to it.HARVARD LAW TODAY: Was the creation of the lab connected to the work you were doing in researching and writing “Republic, Lost”?LESSIG: I think of the lab as applying the problem that I wrote about with Congress to a wide range of institutions. Congress, I think, is a paradigmatic example of a corrupted institution, in the sense that it’s not necessarily filled with any criminals, but it’s become so focused on the objective of raising money to fund its campaigns that that dependency conflicts with the intended dependence — on people generally, and not on the funders of campaigns. That’s the dynamic I call dependence corruption, which is a perfect instance of this example of institutional corruption more generally.HARVARD LAW TODAY: To what extent do you think you’ve been successful in raising this awareness?LESSIG: It’s been incredibly successful in giving people an idea of this different sense of corruption and opening up a bunch of different research around it. Also, I think it’s been successful in just offering a vocabulary that has given people a way to talk about this without making it personal. If you talk about corruption, people’s immediate reaction is, “I’m not corrupt,” and the response should be, “I’m not talking about you; I’m talking about this institution and the way this institution is being defeated in its objectives.” I think that has turned out to be a really powerful way to think about a bunch of different institutions and the problems they face.HARVARD LAW TODAY: What’s your assessment of Mayday PAC after its first year of operation?LESSIG: Mayday PAC was an experiment, and remains an experiment, about ways that we can intervene to bring about a change in Congress to address this issue. We did one version of that experiment last year, and we’re launching another one this May 1 and will continue to experiment with ways until we find one that works.We were involved in eight races [in the 2014 mid-term elections], successful only in two. We were testing whether we could make this issue salient in the context of a partisan election. We could see a move to the ball, that people were much more focused on this issue than they were in other districts, but not enough to change things in a partisan fight. So that sent us back to thinking about other ways to address this issue.HARVARD LAW TODAY: So what happens May 1?LESSIG: We’re basically engaged in a pretty massive citizen lobby campaign to recruit members [of Congress] to co-sponsor reform. So it’s not about engaging political campaigns; it’s about trying to close the gap between the majority and the number who are committed to reform. The idea is that makes it easier to imagine actually winning when it comes to 2016.HARVARD LAW TODAY: Do you have any more books in the works?LESSIG: I gave a series of lectures at the University of Chicago last year that were on the subject of institutional corruption. The title was “America: Compromised,” and I’m publishing a book of those at the end of the summer. And there’s a version two of “Republic, Lost,” that will be coming out in January.