Monday, October 19, 2009

Reflecting on the Past and Thinking about Great events I have attended recently

while I was sitting at Blue Coffee, i started reflecting on some great things from the past....Why just here at this location and the building next door used to be a club run by Zammas called the Corcoran....I remember many a night of coming in here and checking out the great music, and of course trying to get my flirt on......SMILE......This is a place where many musicians like Stanley Baird, Sweet Dreams, Johnny White and others were playing here. Across the street was a place called Off Main Street which later became the Palace which is now in a location on Broad Street....I also was talking to some folks about the old Hayti district which used to have great shops like Woolworth (makes me think of the days of getting the old S&G cards), Kress Building, Cicero, and Marvin's where apparently you could get more than Hot dogs......
And of course even now we are losing things that used to be so great........Yorktown which closed ages ago, and became the site of a Church, is now gone and this was a great place to see movies......Like the Biltmore Holiday and Regal theatre, it has now gone totally to history.....Also in this category it looks like is the concept of Drive-Ins here in Durham with the Starlite having been gone for a few years.....Some friends were remembering other movies that left, and I fear this will happen to the movie theater off of Club Blvd. in that Shopping center near the old Time Warner location.
Hopefully some great entrepreneurs will come and rescue some of those buildings that can be saved and used for cultural purposes...I'm even hopeful that the folks that eventually get the old Operation Breakthrough building will make use of the theatre in there.....One of my pet peeves is Durham has plenty of Theatre seats that are not being fully used, and this is a shame...Yes there is plenty to do in Durham and nearby but there could be even more if we maximize our resources.....
But, enough about this, let me tell you about some of the great things that have happened over the last few weeks that I had the pleasure of checking out...On Saturday, I went by Restaurant Eden and had a great meal of Duck and Mushrooms and heard some great music performed by Martin Eagle and his trio during their hard opening...Hopefully they will have regular jazz at this nicely decored and professionally staffed new restaurant...The jazz was a nice touch and would be a nice touch on a regular basis........
On Friday, I was working at Hayti and heard Don Byron and his gospel group perform......They gave a great show, but the one the week before called the Hallejuah Train which featured Rev. Blade was in a whole other category...and speaking of last week, for the first time ever, I went to Shakori Hills festival in Siler City and it was indeed a great experience...This festival had booked some great performers like Mosadi Music, the Beast, a poetry slam that was hosted by Kane Smego and C.J. Suitt, the Apple Chill cloggers, a Latin group from Miami, and some Fire jugglers just to name a few of the great performers that were there......Folks were definitely enjoying themselves out on the land that this festival is held at, some camping, and cavorting in various ways around the grounds......I will definitely have to add this festival to my regular Festival rotation......I had already planned to add Leaf Festival in black Mountain, Spoleto in South Carolina, The Heritage Festival and Essence Festival, both in New orleans, and the Telluride and Sundance Flm Festivals to this list...Now if I could find an angel to help sponsor all these trips..
By the way, a very unique event I went to last Wednesday was a concert by Nii Ooto, a Ghanian drummer, who performed some unique music, some accompanied by the sound of Gutter Toads, and others on a instrument he developed himself...The first set was definitely more experimental and the second more traditional jazz but both were great and later that evening I went to the Jam session that John Brown has at the Mary Lou william's center on duke's campus....I had been promising Brown I would be coming for awhile, but this was my first time there....The crowd was a nice crowd and it was lively session that featured such musicians as John Brown, Brian Miller, and Alex Coke as well as Nii ooto performing just to name a few......I definitely had a great time and will have to return again, maybe even this Wednesday when John tells me has Vincent Gardner coming to play with him......
By the way, another event I went too recently was a screening of a film that deals with Relationships, Revenge, and Loyalty among other things that Rodrigo Dorfmann is working on...This film that hss some film noir moments in it is very delightful and led to some interesting discussion about the direction the film is taking afterwards as this is a film in development....A friend of mine Banu valladares was in the film and another acquaintance who was in my friend Dilsey's film was also in the film and I can't wait to see what the finished product looks like....
Don't forget that there are lots of things going on this weekend as well.....On Friday, the 23rd Blue Coffee will be having Game Night and the Hayti will be the host of the NC Sneak preview of Blood Done Signed My Name.....The Playdate folks will be having their monthly game event at the Brownstone in Raleigh......and of course there is always great programming at the Durham Performing Arts Center, the Carolina theatre and the Durham Arts Council.......
By the wa I mentioned Blood Done Signed my Name, well the play version is the day before the movie and Mike Wiley always does a great job with his One Man shows.....and Sunday there will be a discussion about Devin Ferguson's book about Soul City and other things that happened in the late 60's, including the Malcolm X school that was here in Durham....i went there as a youth, and my Dad is actually mentioned in the book, as is one of my Marquette mentors mentioned throughout the book, that being Howard Fuller.........
So as always there is plenty to do right here in the Bull City.......

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No Telling Who You Might Run In The Bull City and What Fun You Might Have

Today was a great day for traveling and learning about the Mass transit systems of the Triangle....Something I do on a regular basis, but with the exception of the Chapel Hill system which I ride on Thursday, you have to pay a fare no matter how small it might be........But today, the systems of Raleigh and Durham and TTA had their try transit for free event, so I was able to get on a DATA Bus and a TTA For free...If you want to do what our mass transit system is like, you still have the rest of the day to try it for free and see what you think......
Earlier today, I was in Blue Coffee grabbing some lunch and while there I ran into some friends who run North Carolina's first latina owned Video communications company, as well as Connie Campanero of the Carolina Theatre who introduced me to one of her latest hires, and Rev. William Barber, the head of the state NAACP who referred me to one of his friends who has a young gospel artist in his family and who told me he would be in touch with a family soon for a project he has in mind........By the way, Connie loves calling me 15-501 cause she says I'm everywhere in the area and seem to know everyone, or if not everyone, quite a few people.........Now hopefully some of these friends and associates can help Lee Entertainment go to the next level...Speaking of Blue Coffee, this is the same restaurant where I saw President Obama coming out of and got a chance to wave at him while he was on the campaign trail, and had some friends, including the owner of Blue Coffee, who got a chance to talk to him and yesterday members of Alice Cooper's group were in there...I'm not that big of a fan of heavy metal, but hey everyone is entitled to their music preferences....
For those of you wanting something to do this weekend, you have plenty of options.....On Friday and Saturday, you can go to the Carolina Theatre and celebrate one of this area's true treasures, Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble as they celebate the home season.........and on Saturday, way too much to do..........On the Street near Hayti Heritage Center will be Phoenix Festival celebrating the rich history of that neighborhood, and at American Tobacco, Family Fest sponsored by Fox 50 will be held, and at Brightleaf area, there is another festival, and of course at the Old Ballpark is the Beer Festival with its usual two sessions, an afternoon session and a nighttime session.....Or if you want to get away from Durham, a festival I have enjoyed is coming back to Raleigh this weekend, the International Festival, celebrates the rich cultures that are often found throughout the Carolinas as people from various countries and regions have settled in this area....There is great entertainment representing some of these countries at the festival, and there is often some awesome food from these places as well, and the art they provide is quite inspiring.....
And if you have a cat or a dog and are thinking it is driving you crazy, maybe it doesn't want to eat what you give it or maybe it thinks the whole house is its latrine, or maybe it's chewing on your favorite book or blanket, and you think you need some divine intervention...Or maybe it's the opposite and your pet has provided you with all kinds of support and comfort and you want to thank them and praise them to God. Or maybe you have an usual pet like a Llama or a Goose and it's got away a couple of times, and you need that divine intervention again or maybe you have learned valuable life from a Turtle and you want to thank God...Well this weekend is your chance because several local churches in Durham are having a Blessing for the Animals this weekend......
By the way, the Bull City Classic between NCCU and Duke wasn't a bad game and though they lost handily, NCCU did show signs of life...After falling down by 21, railing to within a touchdown off of a interception before not doing much at all offensively in the second half.......This team definitely gave a valiant effort in a losing cause and miserable weather and I agree with the Duke coach, it looked like they may have had more student support than Duke did and quite a large following of community support in my opinion.......and by the way, the battle of the bands was no contest either...NCCU won hands down.....SMILE........As I was getting my hair cut, I looked at the paper yesterday and realized that NCCU is not backing down from challenges as they go division 1...their opening game in basketball is defending champion UNC and they have several other top rated opponents on their schedule...yes, they will take their lumps but eventually they will make noise in division 1 in my opinion.
and speaking of NCCU, I stopped by their theatre department and realized that this weekend they are opening their 60th season with a production of "Slapping God In The Face" which will run from this weekend and next....Looks like a lively production and yours truly will check out the musical and let you know what I think...Other plays on the schedule include the New Work series in November which features a adaptation about James Shepard's life, for those of you that don't, that's the founder of NCCU...Other plays to be presented this academic year include Dance on Widow's Row by Samm-Art Williams and the school's rendition of the now classic "Little Shop of Horrors."
Also NCCU got a piece of the U2 action which shouldn't surprise me since Bono is definitely an activist and involved in Human and Civil rights..Yes, there was a conference on U2 at NCCU and I understood the roads of Raleigh were packed with people going to see this well recognized band play...One of these days I will get to one of their concerts...and speaking of concerts, I have learned that Ohio Players, Bar-Kays and Con-Funk-sion will be at DBAP at end of month and in November Maysa, Will Downing and Najee will be in town.......and don't forget Hallejuah Train is coming on the weekend of Oct. 9 to Hayti.
By the way, I also understand there was a walk for Breast Cancer awareness at North Hills Mall in Raleigh over the weekend, and who knows I might be bold and participate in the Bike event at the end of the month for Habitat for Humanity.....
By the way, I also talked to Brett about the Open Mic I missed this Wednesday and he said Pam Saulsby came by and sang a couple of numbers, including a Jill Scott number, and that he had a couple of other new talents appear as well........I keep telling folks Durham and the surrounding region have such great talent....
Oh well, about to bounce.. but You know your minister will be keeping you informed of the various things happening in town......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Talk about a busy Weekends

I have this theory that the world goes through a variety of cultural renaissance, some of the most famous being the Harlem Renaissance period which had a variety of epicenters including yes even Durham, and the Greek Renaissance if we are talking more ancient history, and often times these renaissance take place during hard economic times...remember one of the most famous movies, the Wizard of Oz, which is being re-released theatrically on a one time basis was done during the Depression....So with all of that said, I truly believe we are in and have been for some times in the midst of a new cultural renaissance...I think we are seeing some innovative music, thought provoking poetry, and even some new and deep literature surfacing and I believe that will continue for some time......
Now, coming back to what has been happening in the Bull City of Durham, a area I love calling home, and which I firmly believe will play a role in the new cultural renaissance....On Friday, I was working at Hayti and Lenora Helm was celebrating her new CD and gave a great concert in front of a small but appreciative crowd....There was so much going on of a positive nature on that Friday...That same day, Nnenna Freelon, the grammy nominated jazz singer, was doing a fundraiser for See Saw, an organization that teaches youths about a variety of things ranging from Graphic Design to Photography...This is indeed a worthwhile organization and my friend, Michelle Gonzalez, has been doing a great job of running this group and I look forward to seeing what new and innovative projects the kids involved with this project come up with........In addition to that, both the Carolina Theatre and the DPAC had national performances in town on Friday....Saturday was equally busy with Centerfest jumping off downtown in the Parking lot near the YMCA....I am still hopeful that one day the festival will return to the Streets of downtown...It just seemed like more of a truly community activity and had a lot more energy when it was spread out throughout downtown....I also noticed it had many more vendors then, and the music seemed to be of a higher quality back in those days in my opinion. As it is, it just reminds me too much of a county fair, the only thing missing from what I remember seeing in Warrenton is a Ferris Wheel, some cheap amusement games, and the prize animals being shown.....I know Durham can do better, but I do know these are hard times and that has to be considered....
In the past, I had a more direct involvement as one who helped in the planning and booking of entertainment, but even with limited involvement hawking information and painted violins for the Durham Symphony, I do still enjoy outside festivals and yes, even enjoy Centerfest but I look forward to it rising up to what it once was.......
By the way while Centerfest was taking place in the Bull City, Sparkcon was taking place this weekend in Raleigh and on Sunday, Carrboro was having its music festival....I have worked that in the past, but not this year...Hopefully soon I will be back to doing some announcing at that event as well...
Another event that I had fun attending Saturday was Lois Deloatch's birthday party thrown at the Washington Duke....Hard to believe the woman just celebrated her fiftieth, she could easily pass for her 30's, and she's incredibly talented as a singer...It was great seeing friends of hers like Dianne and Vincent Pledger, Titus Heagins and his wife Maureen, as well as Desiree and Michael Palmer, Ira Wiggins and his wife, as well as Scott Sawyers, E'vonne Coleman, and others celebrating this fascinating and wonderful ladies birthday........
Sunday after being at the Symphony for awhile, I went to see Mallarme's performance at Nelson Music Room on Duke's campus......It was great hearing a great vocalist as well as the Saxophone group perform these wonderful tangos, some composed by a Duke professor I had the pleasure of meeting, and seeing some great Tango dancing..Tango is such a sensual and lovely dance to watch, and one of these days, along with Swing Dancing, I'm going to learn how to do those steps........By the way, my friend John Brown was playng on the Bass during the performance and talking about a man having a busy Sunday...He told me was leaving from there to go to the Mama Dip party which featured Lois, and from there he was going to a recording session with Nnenna Freelon.......
Oh well, enough of this for now, don't forget that this Thursday there will be pep rally featuring both Duke and NCCU marching bands, as well as some of other entertainment over at Duke on Thursday evening........Now, while I think it's wrong that Duke scheduled Central as its homecoming game, and while I have ties to both universities, you know I'm going to be rooting for the impossible and the unlikely, a NCCU upset of Duke right here in Durham.......Wouldn't that just be too fun and interesting....Wonder how Durham would handle that.........
In other news, I recently learned that Scene of the Crime Rovers will be returning to the Massachusetts area for Honk fest which is made up of many social activist marching bands, some borrowing from the tradition of Brazil and some from the tradition of New Orleans, and some that are just scrappy and fun like our own folks....This is taking place the second weekend in October and sounds like it should be a lot of fun...The week before that, the Beer Festival will be taking place at the Durham Athletic Park, and this is on the same weekend that Chuck Davis and AADE is having their home shows at the Carolina Theatre. That same weekend Central will be opening its October play, and it will be playing both that weekend and the following one.
I'll holler at you folks later with more news and interesting developments from the Bull City and nearby...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blues Festival another Success

The economy may have slowed things down, but there were still a lot of people who really enjoyed the Blues Festival and had a great time....Things started off at the Hayti Heritage Center on Friday and got kicked off in fine form with the Jon Shain Trio, and then Jasme Kelly did a nice solo show and then Eric Bibb took people on a great musical journey that had the audience captured and had them dancing in the aisles.
On Saturday, in a new format that 12 hours long, the festival returned back to the Old Ballpark..Yes, with a newly renovated ballpark, the field had to be covered with that plastic substance, and the acts were great though a lot of folks may not have been aware of how talented many of them were, but now they have a understanding of how great they are. Among the highlights were the kids who make up Homemade Jamz Blues Band and it was great watching one of the teens going into the audience and jamming, and also the young lady who is not even a teenager yet, rock on the drums........
And all kinds of other things were going on Saturday....The Farmer's Market and the Durham Crafter's Market were happening and that afternoon there was a pig pickin'...I understand there were also events happening at NCCU......
On Thursday, I had fun with another great Blues show at WCOM.....and that evening was a relaxing day.......
The Wednesday before I was at Papa Mojo's roadhouse and it was great seeing my friend Sharon perform again at the open mike.....
This weekend a bunch of things are happening....Nnenna Freelon is doing a fundraiser for See Saw at the Arts Council on Friday, Lenora Helmsey is performing at Hayti on Friday and also Playdate is taking place in Raleigh and King and Jeff are jamming this weekend at Pinhook......And all this is going on while Centerfest is taking place this weekend and Sparkcon is going on in Raleigh......Today Liz H is performing at Marvell with several performers, King and Jeff are having a funk jam at Alivia's, and Open Mic is jumping again tonight........Like I said there is all kinds of things going on in the Bull City and surrounding areas...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Activities from End of Month

Blog entry for End of August....

Once again, Durham has had all kinds of exciting things taking place in its midst....Why, just this weekend, King and Jeff closed out their series of August music with the sounds of 1969...it was great hearing folks like the Archies, B.B. King and Isaac Hayes just to name a few. And on Saturday, I had the pleasure of watching my Uncle and Aunt celebrate their 45th annniversary and be surprised by their sons coming up from Georgia, including one who is usually occupied by family and military duty......This really brought tears to my Aunt's eyes as in January he will be heading to Afghanistan for another tour of duty where he will be serving their in an officer's capacity. It's amazing watching kids grow older and develop into graceful young ladies. Here I am thinking about my cousin Tonya's two daughters, one of whom is an aspiring Pharmacist and the other who could be clearly a super singer or model.
On Friday, I went to watch my Aunt Julie retire after some 42 years of service with Duke...and later that evening, I went to the Isaac Hayes tribute that Aleycia Sanyika put on through her company and hearing Isaac's interview and also giving some insight into this great legend and hearing Darrel Stover's motivating poem about funk music and Isaac's relationship to it.....The funk group that played Hayes music and also some great Barry White tune's was awesome and I really enjoyed their sound...lronically, I later learned that the bass player in the group was Mr. Towne's son....For those of you not in the know, Mr. Townes was the band teacher who kicked me out of the band for lacking rhythm, wonder what he would think of my entertainment and radio career know.....SMILE.....
And speaking of radio, after doing my show on Thursday, I headed back to Durham to catch some dynamic music.....At American Tobacco, probably over a 1,000 people, caught the sounds of the Carolina Chocolate Drops which are an awesome old timey group that definitely has a great and unique sound and can do tunes ranging from classic Mountain tunes to a Blu Cantrell cover....I personally wished the PA system had been slightly better, but then again, I also didn't have the best vantage point arriving late...But what I heard I enjoyed....I also saw several friends there including the talented vocalist and author Kim Arrington, poet Lamont Lilly, Russell who helps John Dee Holeman, Maurice Darden, and many more....After the concert, had the pleasure of catching the tail end of Freeman Ledbetter and Generation....You know yours truly wound up getting thrown into some work, and making sure some folks did some surveys for Parks and Rec.
On Wednesday, I went to Brett Chamber's Open Mic at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse...It had been several weeks since I had been, and from the moment I walked in and heard the rocking sounds of Prince Miah and Girl Toyz I knew it was going to be a great set, and I wasn't disappointed..Among the highlights were poems by Rie Shontel, and performances by some awesome saxophonist, and of course Jasme Kelly rocking the house as always............After the performance, Trevy McDonald gave me a lift and said she was still working on her children's book and was looking for an illustrator......Hey, yours truly might know somebody in that category and need to do some follow up....Hey, if you are looking for talent or putting together a great event, get in touch with me and we will make some magic happen.....
Hey, it's been a minute since we have talked on this blog, so I need to catch you up on a couple of things from the week before as well.. On Sunday, the 23rd I heard King and Jeff rock the house with some awesome Stevie Wonder music.....it was great seeing old friends like Satos, Ray Paschall, Betty Rhodes, and others and making new friends like Danielle DeSoto who was raised in Miami, one of my favorite places to visit, and who is a Flamenco Dancer.....It was great talking to her and Aidel about a wide range of topics, including how Successful Sisters sometimes have a hard time on the dating scene because guys are intimidated by them, as well as how her take on the relationship between African Americans and Latin Americans....We, minorities, really have to work on better communications across the cultural lines, and we need to find common goals.....Really, as one who has Native American ancestry, in addition to my African American ancestry, I think we need to pride in all of our heritages but also share our common struggles as we battle injustice and unfairness.......
On the Saturday before,. I went to the Latin Festival and had a great time......Though I was first worried about the rain, and I learned it really hurt Lazy Daze in Cary, it didn't stop the show in Durham and everyone from the Mexican band that was playing when I first came in to the more upbeat groups the Latin Project and Carnivilito really rocked the show........Also the clown from Puerto Rico was really good as well, though I didn't understand a word he said (hey an achille's heel is I need to learn another language) and yes I have gotten over my fear of clowns that my friend Barbara Gault used to tease me about....Hey, you can blame the Stephen King movie “IT”
And finally last Friday, I hit two events...I started off with Cool John Ferguson who was very much on point and gave a monster performance that had all kinds of folks out there dancing, and later that evening, I went to Durham Be Easy II and heard Liz H, Dasan Ahanu, John Darnell who is part of the Mountain Goats, Language Arts which rocked as always, and a great Reggae band from Greensboro called Uprite Lion.
Told you, the cultural minister is on point and can't wait for more exciting events like the Blues Festival in less than two weeks and Cenerfest in less than Three.......

Friday, August 21, 2009

Last weekend was another great one here in Durham....After work on Friday, I went to Hayti and worked the reception of the Quilt Show...These Durham quilters have put together some simply amazing quilts, and I urge everyone who can to come and check them out...They are musically themed, and have images of everything from Blues to R@B to Jazz and other forms of music, and seeing these quilters bond with the African Children's Choir was awesome and then to hear this group of talented kids perform before they went off to another gig was great.....Also Baron Tymas did his usual stellar job of providing some great jazz sounds, and I learned from Ed Gomes that one of the members of his band had performed at Freeport with the NCCU Jazz Group and that they had done a stellar job. Apparently, though there were names like Joshau Redman and others there, our fine folks from here were definitely the stars of the show and did a great job of making Branford Marsalis who sponsored the stage they were on quite proud.....One of these days, the cultural minister will get to this event as well..It, as well as the Cannes Film Festival and Spoleto, are on my list of events outside of NC that I want to attend. I hear that I missed good shows at West Village with some great blues, and some good music over at Brightleaf as well...But hey you can't be everywhere...Haven't quite figured out that cloning thing, so I can be at mutual places.
On Saturday morning, I went by the Farmers Market and Craft Market, and checked some of that out and talked to some new contacts as well as a few friends like Thoa who I worked on with the Obama campaign in putting together some events and Malloy, a long time friend and incredibly talented dancer....Afterwards, I went by the new, old DAP, in other words, the renovated Durham Athletic Park made famous by the movie Bull Durham, and passed out along with Dianne Pledger flyers about the Blues Festival, and then after doing that, checked out some of the fun including a Olympic like competition with various Mascots from around the area that was fun and of course the celebrity softball game that featured a few good plays, but don't tell some of those celebrities, but they might want to stick to their day jobs....SMILE...However, I thought Sylvia, a member of the NCCU Hall of Fame, a couple of NCCU Coaches, Bill Kalkhoff, and some of the TV sports reporters did a good job of holding their own, but in my opinion Patrick Baker was the star and was not letting anybody get past him and he scored the winning run.........That evening, I decided to pass on the two events I knew were going on...Playdate and Damien's birthday party, though I later learned both were great....
On Sunday, I checked out the Latin Music that King and Jeff were spinning at Central Park......Carl Webb asked if I missed any events, and Carl Webb joked that there are multiple me's, and we all know that would be dangerous......The music was great, and the demonstration by the Capoeria dancers was great.......I chickend out when a friend asked me to do some Latin dancing with her, and passed but my buddy Ray quickly picked up the challenge....Maybe next time I will be more brave........Yes, folks believe it or not, the social minister of Durham still has his chicken moments. Of course, conversating with Tim McGloin and Linda about AADE was great, as was the company provided by Sioux Watson of the Independent, and a few other friends that were there....I'm looking forward to the one this Sunday featuring Stevie Wonder music.........
On Monday, I took the smart man's option, and decided to not to get in the middle of Miss McLaughlin (a neighbor's) and Bruce Bridge's (a friend's) fight over the future of the Know Bookstore....I know we need the culture they provide with great music, great food, and great music, and whoever gets this property, i hope they maintain these kinds of traditions......
Well, about to bounce, but don't forget there is all kinds of great entertainment this weekend...Tonight, Durham Be Easy is happening downtown, great blues is happening at West Village, and there is other music in other locations as well and later in the weekend, some great Latin music at Rock Quarry Road.......

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Black Theatre festival in Winston And Some Personal Thoughts and Reflections

Once again, I had the pleasure last week of going down to Winston-Salem and enjoying the National Black Theatre Festival.....Even when things change like the host hotel...I remember when the festival was in the Adams Mark but now that is the Marriott and of course change in namnagement change the nature of hotels, the festival itself is such a homecoming with so many wonderful things happening that it doesn't matter whether you are checking out Reader's Theatre, one of my favorites, since I love watching plays develop and also watching the reactions from audience to new works and the interpretations in readings that the directors and actors choose to give these new works that for the vast majority of them they are just now seeing when they are picked to read the scripts...The poetry jams are also very popular, and though some of the best poets were in West Palm Beach, Florida there were still some great ones that came into the area and performed and this was my first time checking out Malcolm Jamal Warner's musical group and I found them to be very talented musicians.
Also it was fun going to Bird's party for the second festival in a year, and once again, it was definitely a fun party with lots of great dancing and great socializing happening at that event.
But, like I said earlier, one of my favorite reasons for going to the festival is because it offers me an opportunity to catch up with folks I know consider colleagues and friends...Folks like Garland Thompson and his son Garland, Jr. who organize the Readers Theatre, Weusi Baraka, Renee Nixon, and that's just to name a very few....And of course, every year, I met new friends and have the opportunities to possibly collaborate with them on upcoming events and of course there is always the strong possibility of grooming and developing new clients...Of course there are also great plays that happen at the festivals as well and I was fortunate enough to catch my friend Ayinde's play Nappy Journeys and I am hopeful it will have an opportunity to be seen in the Triangle area since he is a NCCU graduate, and I also saw a great play about Teddy Pendergrass. And these were just some of the great productions that were there.
And of course both me and my Hayti Film Festival co-hort Angela Ray were making sure that folks were aware of our festival for 2010 and even talked to some celebrities who said they may be interested in attending that festival....I will keep you informed how things develop.
So you know I am already excited about 2011 and who knows what new adventures will happen at that festival...
And on the personal side, I have been reflecting on a couple of things...One believe it not, 2012 the half century mark will be here for me and I know I have a lot of goals and aspirations I would love to have at least in motion by that time...For example, I want Lee Entertainment to me much further along than it is, and I might even want my own my multi dimensional recording, film and theatre place by then or at least having some ducks in the row so it can happen since like all things these take capital, and a lot of capital...I am also hopeful that by then, a lot of my friends will have their projects much further along than they are now.....Maybe I will get lucky and win the lottery (oh wait a minute, you have to play regularly and be REAL LUCKY in order for that to happen) and can set up a Artistic trust fund...That will be real cool.......
And on the family side, my brother just had his second child making me an Uncle to the second power...I couldn't explain it if I had to, but I have some feelings that both Langston and Julius are destined to do great things in their life......For one things, they have some great parents and some really cool grandparents, not to mention a half bad Uncle...SMILE.......They already have great legacies to build on...I think of all the great work both my brother and his wife have done working with troubled youth here in the area, I think about the Radio Station both my parents were involved in starting up in Warrenton, I think about the great art my Dad continues to develop and all the great Foundation work my Mom did at both Golden Leaf and Z. Smith, and the things I have learned working with festivals and media, and the fact that we all are students of the world and I know they will be inspired and challenged to learn as they grow up and develop....Oh well enough musings.........Until the next entry, hit me back and let me know what's on your minds...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Very Busy Times in Durham

Sitting here at the Hayti thinking about all the positive things that are happening on the cultural scene lately.......The Bull City Slam team has been busy raising funds to go to West Palm Beach for the National competition, and several of NCCU's jazz performers are preparing to go to Newport for their annual Jazz event which in the past has had such renowned artist as John Coltrane,, Count Basie, Muddy Waters, Sarah Vaughan, and Dizzy Gillespie perform.
And don't forget that next week is also the week of the National Black Theatre Festival which draws thousands of fans and actors to Winston Salem to pay homage to Black Theatre and honor both its past and present and let folks know that it still has a bright future ahead. This year I have learned that a long time friend Ayinde Hurrey will be bringing a production to town and I am also looking forward to seeing some of my friends from the Theatre community at this bi-annual event.
But, if you aren't going out of town to these events, or playing to attend the National Black Journalist conference in Tampa, don't worry there is plenty of events going on right here in the Triangle.
Maxwell is coming to the DBPAC on Wednesday, the 5th and De La Soul will be peforming in Chapel Hill on the 8th..........And of course there will be live music at Brightleaf and West Village on Friday evening.
Keep telling folks Durham and the Triangle have plenty to do.....Last week, I had a full weekend...On Friday, I checked out the first of the West Village series which was like an All Star tribute and featured such acts as Captain Luke, John Dee Holeman, and Sol just to name a few....From there, I went and checked out Edsel
500's performance at Brightleaf and then chilled for a minute at West End Wine Bar before heading off to Alivia's for Carl Kinney's birthday party which featured great live music and some awesome poetry as well...There was even some deep political discussions going on about the Skip Gates incident that I participated in with one of my Police officer friends and others as well.
Saturday, I went and checked out my friend Kirk as he did some shooting for his film Game Boyz in the downtown area near Measurement Inc. Of course, sometimes you have to do some renegade kinda of shooting and I will talk about what kind of experiece that can be in a later post. Learned about the trials and tribulations that one of our actor's had been going through, and all I can say is that it is definitely a blessing that he pulled through what he had to go through and it was definitely a learning experience for him. That evening, I went by another gathering at Alivia's, this one for some folks who were moving out of town.
Sunday was relatively mild but I did go by the shooting that Kirk was having at Golden Belt. Sometimes folks are giving opportunities and still don't see the chances they have, and apparently that was the case as several folks didn't make it to the shoot but Kirk, being the trooper that he is, shoot with what he had and will probably do some more shooting at the Gallery he used which is located in Golden Belt.
By the way, looks like Durham is becoming even more of a spotlight for National acts. Why Tuesday, the Ballpark was filled with fans of legendary performers.....And although I was at work and missed the show, a friend of mine who works at West End and attended said it was a definite treat...She said John Mellencamp may not be as bouncy as he was the last time she saw him when he was much younger, but he still gives a great show and Willie was mellow....She said you could definitely smell Pot throughout the ballpark and considering the fact that Willie is an official spokesperson for NORMAL, a group that wants to endorse Marijuana legislation, that shouldn't be a suprise...She said some folks might have been thrown off by Bob's opening, and this was a sentiment I later read in Dave Menconi's column, but she thought as the show went on he got into more of his roots kinda of set and did a great job.
Later in the week Tori Amos was at the Durham Performing Arts Center. I keep telling my friends from out of state and even out of the Triangle don't sleep on Durham...We have a lot going on and I will be keeping you informed on many of these things right here in the future.
On Thursday, after work, went by the Armory where the concert that was slated for the Plaza with the Bull had been moved...Sometimes when the weather is threatening, the folks at Parks and Rec play it safe and move it indoors......I heard I missed a good acoustic set of Latin guitars earlier, but the band I heard definitely was rocking and had the limited audience moving..We have to find a way to get a more diverse and greater crowd for some of these awesome bands that are performing in the plaza. I went down by American Tobacco but by then the group who was performing Your Mama's Big Fat Booty Band had ended their set but I heard from a few friends that they rocked a nice sized crowd and had played a mixture of covers and originals...Definitely have to catch this group on a rebound trip....Also I understand that Friday, Coco had talked about her work with Gerald LeVert had an event honoring him that was held at the Carolina Theatre and I'm sure the jazz fans who saw Marcus Anderson at his CD release Party on Morris Street got a treat as well....Just as I know the folks who came here for Jazzy Friday got to hear some great music by William Darity and his group as well as meet some really talented artist who came here to talk about their art....I've always been a big fan of Marilyn and the dolls she makes that capture the essence of such great ladies as Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, and other famous people as well.....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

And That's The Way It Is

Growing up, I remember watching the news and dreaming of being a journalist, and one of the newsmakers I always respected and admired was Walter Cronkite...So it was with sadness that I learned of his death over the weekend...Whether it was his coverage of Watergate, the Apollo missions, Vietnam, or Reagan's victory in the 80's, I could always count on a fair and accurate assessment of what was happening from this trusted newsman.
And, from an iconic standpoint and as one who had their teen years during the mid 70's and early 80's, I can tell you a lot of folks that I remember with great fondness from my youth have passed on...Why just over the last couple of weeks, we have lost Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, and here in Durham the first African American mayor Chester Jenkins recently passed and before him over the last two years, both Bill Cherry and Jim Fields passed.
Growing up, I listening to Michael during the Jackson 5 era and having a neighbor in Greensboro who swore up and down that she was going to marry Michael and I have learned since that this was a fantasy of many a young lady of that time......I also remember going to many a party at Marquette and hearing the sounds of Thriller and Off the Wall being played by the DJs at that various parties I attended at that school.
And as far as Farrah Fawcett, yes I was one of those youths who was trying to figure out was Charlie based on Howard Hughes, and yes I loved looking at the various women on that show, though as I wrote in a column many years ago, I never could figure out why they were wearing bikinis on a ski trip and I could have swore a saw that on at least a couple of episodes...I think from the character's standpoint I was drawn more to the intelligent one who seemed to always possess not just good looks, but brains and a great personality, who was played by Kate Jackson......But I did love her roles in Extremeties and Burning Beds, where Farrah proved you could deal with a powerful topic and give it the justice they deserved.
And of course I was one of those who enjoyed the bantering back and forth between Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson, and yes I even dreamed of one day him bringing me that Publisher's Clearinghouse ticket...Of course, it might have helped if I had actually entered the contest...Okay I might have turned it in once or twice, but that was probably it, and what's the old saying you can't win, if you don't play.
I can't really say I knew Chester Jenkins all that well, as he won during a time that I was exploring my journalism career on the daily side, and was not really that attached to Durham as I have become over the last two decades. But, I have heard wonderful things about him from those who remember him as a true pioneer on the political front here in Durham.
The other two I mentioned, Bill Cherry and Jim Fields, have been gone for awhile but they were definitely fixtures here in the Triangle...Bill, who had already done pioneering work with Jesse Jackson and Operation Breakthrough as well as the Negro Ensemble Company and Wattstax just to name a few before he moved here to Durham, continued to be at the forefront of mixing art and social justice together even after he moved here and continued his relationship with such national figures as Isaac Hayes, Howard Hewitt, and the honorable Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam and worked on various projects with them and was always here to support the various people of Durham who were trying to do innovative works in the entertainment field right here in our Bull City, including myself but also such folks as Brett Chambers, Eric Kelly, Ray Paschall just to name a few...
And of course so many people around here knew Jim Fields, Uncle Bubba, as he was known to many for his video work and his keeping on top of what was happening right here in our lovely city, both through conversations he held with folks who would lend him a ear and the shows he produced for Durham Cablevision.
But, as I reflect on this, I am glad to know that the future is bright right here in Durham and I saw that for a fact this weekend. I had the pleasuree of going to the open house for the Member show at the Durham Art Guild, and one thing the Guild has done has implemented a Junior membership for High School students and there work was just as equally impressive as some of the artist who have been doing things for years...I was really taken by the vivid colors and whimsical nature of some of their art work, and yet at the same time, there were others who gave sharp photographic images that really caught your attention...This is not to take away from the veteran artists who also had some great pieces in the show as well, and I urge you to go and check out the show...I think you will be impressed...
From there, I traveled to the Durham Armory and saw people of all ages playing a variety of music, some of which was provided by Music Explorium, and they were definitely enjoying themselves in a show that was originally scheduled for outside but was moved inside due to the threat of bad weather.
and I closed out that evening by going over to Golden Belt and checking out a wide variety of artists, including my friends Titus Heagins and Cynthia Grow who have studios there, as well as a variety of other artists who were featured as well...I heard from several people that the Play that was part of that showing and the dance by Mark Dendy were great, and I made it a point to see the Dendy show the next day and this installation piece which made tribute to the music and workers who helped build Durham and featured music, as well as the sounds of textile factories and references to both the blues and jazz music of our city's heritage definitely was amazing and was fun to watch.....I was also pleased to see that at the end of the show Dendy pointed out how many of the ADF dancers were on scholarship, and urged the audience to remember that even in tough economic times, the art plays a vital part in our community and should never be abandoned...This is a message that we need to spread throughout the city and the nation........
To close out this weekend, I went to see Fourth and A Mile which featured several friends and acquaintances of mine in great roles, and was another in the series of plays that Howard Craft has done to address various health issues, this one deals with the critical one of Prostate Cancer and does it by providing pertinent and important information, but still giving us a storyline and some great humor. At intermission, Craft told me that he had added the Muddy Waters tune for me, maybe he heard me tapping my feet from the back of the auditorium.......
I urge everyone, particularly my fellow men in their 40's, as well as those older and those approaching that age to see this powerful piece of theatre...As I already stated when talking about some of my friends who have passed, I am a big fan of using art to get people to think and ponder various issues....One of the greatest minds of our time, Albert Einstein, said "All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom."...........
So, for now, I'm outta here...but I look forward to discussing various topics of culture here on this blog...so to borrow from a Newsman I had a great deal of respect for, Walter Cronkite...That's the way it is on Sunday, July 19th.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Open Mike at Papa Mojo's and Barack Obama

Last night, I had the pleasure of hanging out once again at Papa Mojo's and enjoying another great show...Aaron was back and did a great job of some great Blues, and there was an awesome young lady, named Hope, who laid down some great Soulful tunes and of course Jasme did a Super job on two classics, Papa Was A Rolling Stone and her stirring rendition of the Prince Classic Purple Rain and she was doing this as part of her personal Birthday celebration.......I look forward to seeing her set at Hayti in September as part of the Bull Durham Blues Festival. Also Reid Splitter brought with him a talented violinist and he did a great job of performing on his two numbers, including a rousing rendition of Brick House that featured Violin...this was well done and rocked the house....Though I must say it was fun watching this one ladies reaction to the violin..She later told me that she just finds the violin to be such a sexy and seductive instrument, and I feel sorry for any man, woman, or child that tries to take away her attention when there is a violin being played....You know we all have our favorite instruments that we love...For example, I love soulful singing but I also love the sound of the horns and yes, I do love string music, but not to the extreme of that particular person.....And, of course I know some folks that just love Piano music, as well as the Drums and the Bass, both the standup variety and the bass guitar, as well as some who love the lead guitar and other instruments........
And speaking of instruments, earlier Barack Obama was talking about the importance of education and I was wondering how many of our youth here in Durham even know about classic authors like Thomas Wolfe, Mark Twain, or our own like Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and others and have read their books...How many of our youths are aware of entertainers from here like Nick Allen or Clyde McPhatter or Pigmeat Markham, entertainers from right here who paved their own path in entertainment long before Ninth Wonder and Purple St. James were doing their thing....I personally feel that our schools need to let our youth know about the proud heritage that has come from right here in the Triangle, and encourage them in their dreams and aspirations, and not find ways to tear it down...Too often we are too quick to label our kids and then put them on a destructive path of hopelessness and despair.....There are true stories of great intellect and great industry powers from right here in Durham, and we need to highlight these on a regular basis in our schools...How many of our teachers are using the story of N.C. Mutual in their classrooms and telling kids about the greatness that they come from right here in Durham...How many of our students are telling their students about Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois and what they thought of Durham in its heyday.....Are they making parallels to the development of now, have they told them about more modern pioneers like the Carl Webb, Brian Davis as an entrepreneur, or the late Ronnie Sturdivant...
As president Obama told the NAACP today, we need to work on improving our school system and letting folks know about the history from which they descended and help them define their destiny and pursue it in the 21st Century.....We need to find ways to encourage our youth, and not find ways to tear them down and belittle them...we need to understand that they have visions and hopes as well, and that who knows the next great Quincy Jones, Earl Graves, Malcolm X, or even Barack Obama may be sitting in our midst and we need to find ways to encourage them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BATMAN IS DEAD!!!!

You know the Cultural minister of Durham also likes to keep up with news of the world and the world of culture, and I was shocked to learn of some of the developments from one of my Bartender friends.
Apparently Superman is imprisoned elsewhere in this Galaxy, and Batman is DEAD!....But don't worry, Robin is know Batman and Batman's son who had an affair with a Villain is now the new Robin.........Oh to make it worse, he wasn't taken out by one of his Archvillains, like the Joker, Two Face, Penguin, or even the Riddler but by some Alien villian who since I have lost track of the modern world of Comics I have no idea who they are......
If this isn't confusing enough, Archie of the popular Soap Opera like Comic is know about to get married, and is an ADULT!!!!
I'm sure the Artwork is wonderful, but I like the old fashioned comics....Tell me what you think of the new Comic strips..
By the way, is it just me, or are you rooting for Lance to win another title as well..Might be because he's the old man of Cycling in his 40's (Not that far from me) and I just recently got a Bike and am trying to get into my own cycling...Don't worrhy I don't think you have to worry about seeing me in any races anytime soon...or in the long distance rides and competitions like Lance does.........Though I have to say I am loving the soap opera between him and his teammate in this individual sport that has a team element...Sometimes that in and of itself is confusing......
Okay enough news outside of the area, but you will be glad to know that West End Wine Bar already seems to be getting some business coming over from the new Train station, an yours truly has been having some very productive conversation with some of my filmmaking pals as we look for investors for their projects and in this case of a Atlanta fashion friend try to find them designers and potential models for a show coming up at the end of the Month...If you need help in your endeavors, contact me at Bluesradio@gmail.com or by telephone at 919-956-5931.
Until later, I'm out.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Pet Peeve That Will Definitely Be Addressed Here

You know one of my pet peeves is folks who say there is nothing to do in this area, I choose to call home....Just follow me for a week or two, and you will see there are always things happening in our town, ranging from Book Signings and Poetry Readings to Independent Filmmakers making films to various musicians performing various genres of music around town, and there style of music range from Blues To Jazz to Rock and Roll to Folk and Classical.....
Let's just think of some of the world class events that are based right here in Durham, and that include things like the Bull Durham Blues Festival, American Dance Festival and The Full Frame Film Festival just to mention a few, and some that might be sited as more regional but definitely have large followings, i.e. the Festival at the Eno, Bimbe Festival, Juneteenth Festival in Durham, Centerfest, etc.....
Is getting quality food something you are interested in, check out the Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturday....Plus there are various worldclass restaurants here like Nana's, Pops, Revolution, Parizades, Cuban Revolution, Spartacus, and Nikko's just to name a few.
Have an interest in photography, there are various groups around town that deal with this topic and there is a Fencing Group that meets on Broad Street....If you are interested in Boxing, there are some Boxing classes you can take........If you are interested in sports, check out not only our college teams, but perhaps one of the most famous Minor League Team because of the movie and their success, the Durham Bulls......
If you just want to watch sports, there are various sports bars...Or you can do Fantasy Football like I have been doing for several years that my brother and several of his friends got me into...Earlier this day, I was given a lift by our commissioner Randy Edwards and he told me that we still need new participants for our two conferences. If interested, let me know...
Of course, as I said before, there is regular music series going on, among them are the Brightleaf series, the series at the American Tobacco campus, the concert series Parks and Rec does by the Bull, and the one that Music Maker will be launching again later this month at West Village.
And these are just some of the examples of what's happening on a regular basis, so don't say that there isn't anything to do in our fair city...Of course sometimes you just feel like sitting at home, curling up with a good book, watching TV, or doing nothing....I know I had various options for Parties Saturday night, but opted to just chill......

A Rainy Day in NC

Just thought I would try a new way to reaching out to the Public, and I think this will be a very effective tool..Here at this site, I will tell people about events happening in the Triangle and also give you some of my opinions on political and social issues, both relevant to our community and our world.
For starters, I have to commend the folks at Durham's new Public Access channel...I think we will be seeing some very innovative program coming out of this area very soon and I look forward to doing my part in this effort. The open house was relaxing and fun, and it was good seeing associates like Nia and several of her youth, Michelle Gonzalez of See Saw Studios, Morgan Diamond of Self-Help, City Councilman Mike Woodward, Solomon Burnette and others at this event.
Yesterday was fun as well, I really enjoyed checking out the performance of One Human Family at the Baha'i Center located in the Parkwood neighborhood of Durham. It was a very enlightening concert and the guest conductor also gave great insights into the history of Gospel Music and Spiritual in America in addition to the group putting together a fine show. I also stopped by later that evening to a new restaurant in the American Tobacco District, Cuban Revolution...I have been to this new restaurant a few times now and have been impressed by the staff and their menu, plus it's kinda of unique seeing a film about Che Guevara running on a fairly regular basis.........When I talked to the owner he said he was from Rhode Island but his wife is from Tampa and that is where the affinity apparently for the Cuban culture comes from.....
Speaking of Cuban Revolution, I also learned that one of their bartenders is organizing a trip to the Bahamas on a Party Boat in October around Halloween...This sounds like a fun outing and as I learn more details I will spread the word to my fans and supporters.......Who knows the Minister of Culture himself may decide to take this trip....By the way, the Bahamas has always been on my list of places I want to visit plus the Minister of Culture needs to do some more traveling these days...I definitely want to visit some of the countries that also have Ministries of Culture, so you know Australia, Scotland, Brazil, and China are on my wish list of places to visit in the near future.
On the Political side, I see that a new Surgeon General has been nominated, and like many of Obama's previous nominees, she is definitely an advocate of the working class.....The Surgeon General nominee Regina M. Benjamin is already seen as a leader in the fight to close the various gaps in health care, and has already shown her mettle of leadership in places like Birmingham and New Orlenas. I have also been impressed by the answers that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been giving to the Senate...You can definitely tell that this woman of class has been an advocate for working class people and will continue to be such an advocate on the Supreme Court. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am glad to see a shift in what was for me becoming too much of a right-wing, reactionary kind of leanings when the past administration was in office.........I know a lot of folks are expecting immediate turnaround in our economy and our society, but like in all things, what took several years to ruin and destroy can't be rebuilt in a matter of days,. or for that matter, even months...It's gonna to take a while for us to correct this mess, but I am optimistic that it can be done......
And I already see a bright future on the Horizon for Durham, I think if you come downtown on a weekend now you already see a marked contrast to past years with activities happening on a regular basis at various venues like the Carolina Theatre, the new Performing Arts Center, The Durham Arts Council, Pinhook, and other venues, even some that are slightly away from Downtown like the Hayti Heritage Center and the various venues that are on both Duke and North Carolina Central University.........
Oh well, I'm bout to bounce for now and getting ready to head back to work at Measurement Inc. but I will be giving you various thoughts on a regular basis.........
By the way, I know on Facebook, I told folks I was looking for stories about the old clubs here in Durham, as well as the old Theatres that used to exist here.....I'm still looking for that information, so if you have any stories about those that existed over the last few years please share.........