Usually when the end of the year comes I am ready to write. I am ready to give thanks and all the other things that I do, but damn what a year it has been. I feel extra reflective. I feel like I spent the whole year on the pulse of the election and because of that I’m going to DC for the inauguration. I think I went through post-election, CNN withdrawal depression like many other Americans. I know you know what I’m talking about. I am glad I played an active part in getting Barack Obama elected (which I must say I’m very proud of) and I was busy with music this year, but at some points this year I felt like part of my life was happening to me instead of me taking control of it. Sometimes that’s cool cuz you can ride the wave, but sometimes it’s good to take hold of the reigns. I know that might sound strange, but I’m sure there are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about.
So what of 2008? What was it for me? What was it for you? What happened good and bad? What have you learned? What came very easily and what has been a struggle? Who have you helped or whom did you hurt? Maybe you hurt yourself. Who did you forgive? Who has forgiven you? Have you forgiven yourself? Think about it. Were you honest with yourself this year or did you just live in a fantasy world hoping that things would just work themselves out? Did they or are you still treading water…barely? I know this might feel a little deep, but I have been through a wave of emotions this year. Luckily I can swim, but it took some time at points to get my bearings. For a minute I was going under. Luckily I have love in my life and people who kept throwing me life preservers so I was able to make it out of the turning tide and here I am at the end of 2008. Here we are.
At the end of every season I evaluate it. What have I accomplished and what can I be in action about for the upcoming season. I do the same thing at the end of every year. I go through the nine areas of my life and see what can be added or taken away. 2008 had its share of ups and downs as most years do, but this year was particularly special and challenging at the same time. I know I filled you in on most of the happenings as they happened, but let's take one more look.
I kicked off the year in January at the Cutting Room with the Soulfolk Experience (SFX) before we were even called that. It was the Reel Uncut Music Series with just a bunch of singing and playing folks getting down.
On Valentine’s Day I was at the LoveFest at Sputnik where I played Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful.” But the highlight of that night was playing bass for Monstah Black as he hit the crowd with “Screams of Passion.” Hooves and all people! I know some of you are wondering what I’m talking out, but you just have to catch a Monstah Black show to find out.
That same week I was back at the Cutting Room with Maritri, Carla, Jeni, Annekei and Ganessa. We would all later travel to LA as the Ladies of the Soulfolk Experience. That LA show was off the hook and Lee Ritenour came to see us. Annekei is currently working on a project with Lee. Go Girl! Annekei will always be my blond ambition. *smile*
March turned out to be a busy month as well. Two SFX shows, blaKbüshe at the L.E.S. Girls Club and I also hit the radio for a Womyn’s Herstory Month Music Panel. I was on the air with Cheryl Pepsii Riley, Vivian Sessoms, and Maya Azucena.
April was the month of the SFX. Besides our usual every Monday night joint, we also did six shows. Two of which were in LA at Genghis Cohen and the Watts Coffee House. I love the people of Watts! I spent the other part of April rehearsing blaKbüshe for the big event in May.
There was only one show in May and that was the Mother’s Day show at the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center in honor of Labelle. I shared a bill that night with two ladies that I love, Tamar-Kali and Joi. This was defiantly one of those moments were I had to pinch myself. Not because I was super nervous, but because I was sharing the bill with Joi who I have admired for some time. Tamar and Joi had been friends for a long time so it was old hat to them, but for me I was really honored and I savored every moment of that night. My mother and aunt were in town for the show, which was great. Those who came out got a real treat. I pulled out the Beyoncé weave and the horn section. It was on! Thanks Kim for pulling that together. Thank you! Thank you!
June stayed busy. I hit the Blue Note twice—Once with the SFX and once with blaKbüshe. The blaKbüshe show was the debut of a new song called “Gut Bucket” with The Büshe Administration & the Axes of Evil. That is what I dubbed the blues side of the band. That night it was Dexter, Jeff, Jerome and myself. Matsu and Shawn chimed in as well. It was just me and the boys. Speaking of boys, this is also the month that the Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship spanking the Los Angeles Lakers! Yes!
In June, blaKbüshe also played at SouthPaw for Brooklyn Pride with Hanifah Walidah & the Fuckin’ Ladies and Staceyann Chin. That was an incredible show and I will shortly be releasing the live show for your consumption. Stay tuned...Live at SouthPaw coming soon.
The SFX spent the month at Solomon’s Porch, for a few of what would be many Solomon’s shows that happened this year. I feel like we could have moved in there. Thanks to Ardenia and all the Solomon’s crew for their love in 2008.
There was only one show in July at DROM with Dawn Drake. The Büshe Administration was out for that as well, but right around the corner was August.
Now August was the month of crazy travel and too many nights in Chicago. If you keep up with my blog/Journal then you read about my time at O’Hare airport, but what you don’t know about my time at Midway airport as well. The O’Hare experience was connected to my trip to Michfest with Hanifah. We have vowed to drive to Michigan next year. The Midway experience happened on my way back from LA. Let me sum this up quickly. When I left LA on the 25th I had to change planes in Chicago. I was flying on a Buddy Pass, which I soon learned was no “Buddy” of mine. Once I got into Midway I couldn’t get a flight out to New York. With a Buddy pass you have to fly standby, but not just regular standby, bottom of the barrel standby. So I tried to get on every flight to NY I could from 1pm to 7pm and it was nothing doing. Because of my early August experience at O’Hare, I could not bear to stay in Chicago on a layover one more time. So I took a flight to Philly, crashed with a friend and then got up and took the Greyhound home! What a trip.
Besides that the month of August was show packed as well. I played the Black Women’s Arts Festival at the World Café Live in Philly, then jumped on a plane to Michigan to play Michfest with Hanifah then came back to NY for a few days and jumped on a plane to LA to play Serafemme and one more show with Maritri at Genghis Cohen. I did some radio out there as well (Thanks Kristi!). I got to have a bit of vacation while out there. I went running and hiking and made some music with a new friend. So all in all, that trip was productive and fun.
On my crazy trip home form LA I felt a sigh of relief on the Greyhound bus from Philly as I turned down the on ramp leading toward the Lincoln tunnel. The New York skyline filled my window and all my remorse about leaving LA was gone. I don’t think I could live in LA, but when I’m there I get into it all the way. Now seeing the New York skyline I was so glad to be home. I was ready to be in own bed after spending days on my friend John’s couch and another few days at Maritri’s parents house. It was a long trek home. As soon as I got in I had to leave right out to go to Long Island to pick up my luggage at the airport because it had been checked all the way through from LA. So Yolanda drove me out there and back.
When I finally got home for real I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what. I just had a gut feeling. My downstairs neighbors who had some really terrible news about my roommate soon greeted me. I won’t go into details, but that news brought my life to a halt for a moment. I had an Obama fundraiser that I had to do in early September, but after that everything shut down. I was supposed to play at CMJ, but the show got canceled and I have to admit that I was really happy about that. I just wanted to get my house in order and clear my mind, which took some doing to say the least. I was fully prepared not to do any more shows for the rest of the year when I got the email from Lee.
Lee Free is a drummer and we play together in Hanifah’s band. She reached out to see if I would be interested in sharing a bill with Bitch at the Mercury Lounge on December 6th. Bitch has been in many groups over the years. Probably best known for the duo Bitch & Animal, she now has a new project called Bitch + The Exciting Conclusion (B+TEC). I had seen Bitch perform with Ferron (another awesome singer/songwriter) at Michfest and I was blown away. So when Lee called I knew I had to come out of hiding and do the show. It was Mercury Lounge on a Saturday night and it was a crowd that I don’t usually play in front of. I had to do it.
As the date of the show got closer I had to jump into action. I was so deep in slow down mode that ramping up to rehearse took a bit of energy. I wanted to do a new song as well so I really had to kick it into high gear. I asked Jeff to come over and help me work out the tune that had been floating in my head for months. We had two band rehearsals. On the second rehearsal I introduced the song to the band and they picked it up right away as I knew they would cuz they are the best band in the land.
Then I had to go shopping for show gear with Gaetano. We easily found an outfit and he also decided to make me this awesome hat to go with my dress and shoes. Yes he made me a hat. That man can make anything! A few days later it was showtime.
I arrived at the venue early. Bitch was there with the rest of her band (Lee and Gabriel). They were setting up and sound checking when Lee realized that she left her snare in Brooklyn. I knew that Matsu was on his way so they just waited for him to arrive to check the drums. Well, when Matsu arrived he didn’t have his snare either because Lee said that he could use her whole setup. So now we were in a bit of a pickle, but not for long. Jeff, who plays in about 4 projects, called John, the drummer from one of his bands who lives down the street from Mercury, and he brought his snare over for soundcheck. After soundcheck Lee went back to BK and got her snare so we were all good.
After soundcheck I went home to get my stuff together. When I got back to the venue, Gaetano dressed me and showed me his masterpiece of a hat. Bitch took a few photos after he was done with my face (I'll post them soon) and we were ready to rock. This night was very special. My mother, aunts and cousins were all in the house and it was my mother’s b’earthday. It was also Shawn’s b’earthday so it was a Sag night.
Saturday night at the Mercury Lounge and the room was packed. I hadn’t played the Mercury in years. In fact it was before my album came out and the night featured Abby Dobson, Sophia Ramos, Maya Azucena and Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe. That was also a great night, but it wasn’t like this night. I could feel the energy in the room and it felt new. I don’t usually get nervous about shows until right before I hit the stage and then it quickly goes away, but I was nervous about this show days before. I’m not sure why, but do you ever get a feeling when you know something is about to change, but you don’t know what? Well it felt like that. I have no idea why, but it felt different.
The band started to play, the ladies took the stage and I followed shortly there after. But right before I hit the stage this woman asked me if I was the artist. I said yes. She asked what kind of music I do. I said, “I’m about to go on stage so you will see in a matter of moments.” Then she says, “the person at the door couldn’t tell me what you do. I don’t think she knew.” I said, “She probably didn’t. Just pay attention. I think you’ll like it.” With that I was on and it was a great show if I do say so myself. Some people were dancing; others were bopping their heads and others were just in shock. Good shock. The new song “I Am American” went over really well. I had a few props like a picture of Barack and an American flag with the stars in the shape of a peace sign. I gave my mother her b’day gift from the stage so everyone could see my lovely mom. Later Bitch dedicated her set to my mom. Now that’s what’s up. It was such a fun night. I think it tied for the best show of the year with the show at the Manhattan Center being right up there with it. It was a great way to end the year in shows. Fantastic really.
So what’s on tap for 2009? I will be releasing the EP of the show we did at SouthPaw. I’m really excited about that. We are almost done mixing. The much awaited, much anticipated remixes of “blaK Girls” are coming soon as well. When I say these joints are hot I’m not exaggerating. So far on the remix front we have Steve Wallace, Jeff Jeudy, Lionel Sanchez and a couple more surprises that I’m going to hold on to until the appropriate hour. Don’t forget you can still get the original cut on iTunes and CD Baby. We will be playing at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in 2009. I have to modify the band cuz no boys are allowed, but that is going to be off the hook with an all female crew. I can’t wait! We’re also coming back to BAM Café in April and I have a bit of twist in store for that show as well.
Thank you so much for making 2008 so Great! It’s been a very interesting year to say the least. We have a black president that we need to support, send positive vibes to, pray for and also be able to criticize if need be. Remember that Barack Obama can’t save us. We all have to get in there and work to make this world a better place. Corny, but true. I love you all. Honestly I do. I couldn’t do this thing without you. This musical journey is all day every day and it’s worth every moment. I wouldn’t change a thing. Life and Love is good…all the time.
My Thanks & Shouts:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED LOVE & SUPPORT!
Those who were part of blaKbüshe in 2008:
Achuziam Maha, Clayton Craddock, Dave Pilgrim, Dave Smith, Deepa Soul, Dexter Taylor, Gaetano Cannella, Ganessa James, Jeff (LA), Jeff Jeudy, Jerome Jordan, Kay Ashley, Kiki Hawkins, Lionel Sanchez, Maritri Garrett, Matsu, Moist Paula, Red Summer, Shawn Banks, V. Jeffery Smith
Mom, Dad, Gramee, Grampee, Derron, and the whole Jefferson/Jones clan!
The Year in Soulfolks:
Thanks to Maritri and the artists of The Soulfolk Experience. If you didn’t get to see the Soulfolks this year don’t worry. We are not going away. So with that I want to give love to the whole of the crew so you know who they are. The Soulfolk Experience is Annekei, Carla Duren, Dave Pilgrim, Ganessa James, Maritri Garrett, Jeff Jeudy, Jeni Fujita, Kay Ashley and V. Jeffery Smith. Then sometimes sitting in we have Buttafly Soul, Carey Yaruss, Christelle Durandy, Corey Glover, Dexter Taylor, Drae Alexander, Jerome Jordan, Lamont, Miguelito and Shawn Banks.
The Year in Babies:
This has also been the year of the baby. I didn’t have a baby, but 18 people in my life had babies and my best friend had twins. So that makes 19 babies (6 girls and 13 boys)! I guess there wasn’t much to do in 2007 and the beginning of 2008, cuz folks were “busy!” LOL! Not only did I have 19 babies, but it was also a big year for the names Gabriel and Zachary. With that I would like to send my love and powerful family energy to Tricia & Kenny (Kristyn), Donna (Janae), Saba & Michael (Desta and Asmara), Desiree & Alejuan (Darshawn), Imani & Fahiym (Zaki), Yvonne & Albert (Ethan), Joan & Tyrone (Gabriel), Debra & Rafe (Blake), Martha & Aaron (Zachary), Lori & Erik (Eaden), Yvette & Gerald (Zachary), Jamila & Pierre (Osei), Lisa & Nick (Gustavo), Susannah & Cliff (Alec), Stephanie & Calvin (Nashira), Taia & Daryl (Daryl II), Cara & Bobby (Carlton) and Mia & Jedan (Gabriel). What a year!
10-Vampira (TV Icon)
11-Carl Karcher (Founder of Carl’s Jr. burger franchise)
14-Richard Knerr (Co-founder of Wham-O toys:Hula Hoop, Frisbee and Super ball)
17-Bobby Fischer (chess genius) and Allan Melvin (Actor, Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch)
19-Suzanne Pleschette (Actress, The Bob Newhart Show) and John Stewart (singer/songwriter, wrote “Daydream Believer” for the Monkees)
22-Heath Ledger (Actor)
10-Roy Scheider (Actor, best known as Police Chief Martin Brody in Jaws)
12-David Groh (Actor, best known as Joe Gerard husband of Rhoda on Rhoda)
21-Robin Moore (writer, "The French Connection")
27-William F. Buckley, Jr. (writer, publisher of The National Review) and Myron Cope (writer/sportscaster, invented the Pittsburg Steelers “Terrible Towel”)
28-Mike Smith (singer/songwriter, wrote “I Like it Like That”)
4-Gary Gygax (author/game creator, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons)
18-Anthony Minghella (director, The English Patient & Cold Mountain)
5-Charlton Heston (Actor)
13-John Archibald Wheeler (physicist/professor, coined the terms “black hole” and “worm hole”)
14-Ollie Johnston (one of the original Disney animators)
17-Danny Federici (Keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen. Part of E Street Band)
21-Al Wilson (singer, best known for hit song “Show and Tell”)
15-Alexander Courage (composer, wrote Star Trek theme)
26-Sydney Pollack (director/actor, Out of Africa & Tootsie)
29-Harvey Korman (comedian, The Carol Burnett Show)
1-Yves Saint-Laurent (designer)
2-Bo Diddley (Guitarist)
7-Jim McKay (sportscaster, The Wide World of Sports) and Tim Russert (political analyst, Meet the Press)
17-Cyd Charisse (actress, Singing in the Rain & Silk Stockings)
22-George Carlin (comedian) and Dody Goodman (actress, Grease)
3-Larry Harmon (Bozo the Clown)
16-Jo Stafford (big band singer, “I’ll Be Seeing You”)
22-Estelle Getty (actress, The Golden Girls)
1-Pauline Baynes (illustrator of first editions of works of J.R. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis)
9-Bernie Mac (comedian/actor)
10-Isaac Hayes (singer/songwriter/composer)
1-Don LaFontaine (voice-over actor, name a movie trailer and he did it) and Jerry Reed (actor, Smokey and the Bandit & The Water Boy)
2-Bill Melendez (animator/cartoon director, Peanuts specials and voiced Snoopy)
26-Paul Newman (actor/philanthropist)
17-Levi Stubs (singer, The Four Tops)
25-Estelle Reiner (singer/actress, wife of Carl Reiner. Most famous for her line in the When Harry Met Sally diner orgasm scene—“I’ll have what she’s having.”
4-Michael Crichton (writer, Jurassic Park & ER)
10-Miraim Makeba (singer, “Mama Afrika”)
25-William Gibson (playwright, “The Miracle Worker”)
1-Paul Benedict (actor, Mr. Bentley on The Jefferson’s)
4-Forrest J. Ackerman (magazine editor, invented the term “sci-fi”)
11-Bettie Page (pin-up model)
18-Majel Barrett Roddenberry (actress, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and the only actor to appear in every incarnation of Star Trek)
20-Robert Mulligan (director, To Kill a Mockingbird)
25-Eartha Kitt (dancer/singer/actress/activist)
29-Freddie Hubbard (Jazz Trumpeter)