Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I Missed, Someone Else Didn't...II + Black Banjo + Imani Coppola + Save 475 Kent Avenue

Bold As Love has been b-u-s-y folks, and with his own black rock progeny in tow he headed over to the Brooklyn Museum last weekend to check out Harriet Tubman apparently heeding an earlier "admonishment"--his words--found in this blog directed towards the talented Mr. Rob Fields. And yes, like many of us, he found that HT is no joke, and had a serious good time. You can read more about his take on that here, and check some nice photos as well (doesn't that glass window backdrop look great?). Apparently, HT indicated that their awaited album is coming out in 2008, dropped some science about black folk & the banjo and gave an update on the release of the Otis Taylor engineered Recapturing the Banjo album (Telarc, 2008--actually it's out now) and documentary (see video below) featuring Corey Harris, Keb' Mo', Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Taylor, and Don Vappie. This is hopefully gonna be a seriously deep year musically.

Excerpt from the Recapturing the Banjo: The Black Banjo Project documentary:

Bold As Love also hipped us to Imani Coppola's Little Jackie project, in month-long residence at Southpaw--through March 11. Did I know about this, dang, I did not. And I've been liking Coppola since 1997's underrated Chupacabra ("I'm A Tree," "Legend of A Cowgirl" oh yeah...). Looks like I missed guitarist/vocalist Honeychild Coleman's guest appearance on the bill, bummer. Plus, Maritri, whom I haven't heard of, is doing an interesting sounding monthly music series at The Cutting Room. All this and "Listening Post" yummies can be found this week at Bold As Love. Watcha waitin'for?

Passing Strange on Broadway

Mr. Fields reminded me that all of us in the NYC area, or visiting soon, need to get out to Stew's black rock musical, Passing Strange which has just made the trip from The Public to Broadway (aka the Great White Way--well not 100% thanks to Passing Strange among others--hee-hee, couldn't resist) where it's playing at the Belasco Theater. For those wondering at the title, no it's not a reference to racial "passing". More about the Shakespeare Othello reference of the title, and the show itself here. But that's not all, there's a Bold As Love brief write up (no spoilers), and a great podcast interview with Stew. Writer/anthropologist Maureen Mahon (Right to Rock) gives us an interview with Stew at (remember, if you can, when Ebony would barely include freaky Prince in it's pages?). Not to be outdone, not just one(with exhubertant endorsement by Spike Lee), but two hits from Bluegum on the show, with the classic quote: "Finally, a Color Purple for the rest of us!"

I concur, this was one of the best theater "experiments" I've seen in a long time. I'm using the word "experiment" because that what Stew calls the show and it's Broadway presence. But I don't mean "best" on the "experiment" continuum, but on the "theater" continuum. Although I do believe that theater is meant to be continually experimenting, reconfiguring itself, finding the best way to stage a story without always deferring to precedent--in this case rock musical theater precedent, i.e.: Rent, Hair, or Jesus Christ Superstar.

I was galvanized afterwards. I wanted more, more, more black rock, more black people exploring difference, and boundaries, and varied intersections with culture and creativity. The show just opens up your head, and your heart--to get all goofy and squishy about. Passing Strange makes you think, makes you groove, makes you shudder, makes you squirm, makes you laugh, makes you grieve, makes you hot, makes you holler, and then makes you do it all over again. Ain't nothin' but right about that.

For information on how to get discounted tickets go to this Bold As Love post.

Speaking of Supporting Artists...
475 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn: 200+ artists trying to keep their studios after City eviction:

Among the displaced artists from 475 Kent in Brooklyn, NY is master bassist Melvin Gibbs formerly of the Rollins Band and currently of the aforementioned Harriet Tubman. You probably know of one or more of the 200+ artists and their families who have been impacted by this situation, some who have lived there for a decade. Even if you don't, if you're an artist living in the NYC-Area it easily could you in this situation. For more from audiologo on the amazing and hardworking Mr. Melvin Gibbs check here, and on Harriet Tubman live at Joe's Pub in September 2007, check here.

The New York Times has been giving a solid amount of coverage to this situation (see links below) where the tenants are working with the landlords to bring the building up to code (a rare situation where the landlords are supporting the tenants). At this point only the sprinkler system needs repair, and the tenants are requesting permission to return to their homes while the work is done. To date this request has been denied.

Open Letter from 475 Kent Avenue resident & artist vibeke jensen:
Date: February 11, 2008

Dear Friends, New York-, national- and international arts community,

we are trying to save the building where more than 200 artists, my
neighbors & i lived and worked for 10 years!

for more information:

please sign our online petition to Mayor Bloomberg

please do so now. And PLEASE forward this to your friends.
We are trying to get thousands of signatures on his desk asap.

sorry for any cross postings.
vibeke jensen

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At 12:49 AM, Blogger John K said...

Thanks for getting the word out on this, Audiologo!

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