Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heaven Is Just a Bit Jazzier Right Now - Rest In Peace, Joe Sample

Joseph "Joe" Sample 
(February 1, 1939 – 
September 12, 2014)

When I heard the news two nights ago that Joe Sample passed away at age 75, I was at first saddened, then nostalgic and then embarrassed that I had not thought about all the contributions that Joe Sample made not only to the Crusaders ("Street Life" was my jam!) but to music as a whole.

I realized that while, thankfully, I've gotten older, unfortunately, my radio these days is crowded with so much "noise" that I don't spend nearly enough time enjoying real music.

"Creole Joe" as his twitter handle implies was even a zydeco master.  He did it all.  With style.

I won't reiterate his accomplishments here, as the newspapers have done that.  However, I will pass along the announcement his family posted on his Facebook page.

Services for Joe Sample: Friday, September 19, 2014, 6:00pm-9:00pm, wake and viewing open to the general public, My Mother of Mercy Church, 4000 Sumpter St., Houston, TX, 77020. Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, etc., the family asks to make donations to the Joe Sample Youth Organization, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit. Contributions can be made via paypal/credit card using the following link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QV5AUC3H6AGQL or via check to the following address: Joe Sample Youth Organization, P.O. Box 590254, Houston, TX 77259.

As for me, I'm heading to the "record shop" this weekend to pick up some of his classics.  Because there's something about the music store experience that online shopping just can't satisfy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here? Two Weeks After Mike Brown and Ferguson

Suffice to say, that until two weeks ago, I had never heard of Ferguson, Missouri.

I've never even been in the state of Missouri.  I've heard wonderful things about the African American cultural scene in St. Louis in the past, however, now I'm not so sure I want to visit.

Despite the many and varied reports of what really happened two Saturdays ago in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown and his friend encountered Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, the only things we can be certain of, are the facts revealed in the coroner's report.  Michael Brown was shot six times, twice in the head, after essentially being stopped for, what amounts to a form of "jaywalking."

What we can almost be certain of is that there is likely going to be no jail time for the cop who killed the unarmed 18 year old.  After all, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution and as of this writing, Officer Darren Wilson hasn't even been charged with a crime.  

One thing we do know is that something has to be done.  We have to seriously address the issue of why our young black men are dying (not only by each other's hands) but far too often, at the hands of the law enforcement whose job it is to "protect and serve."

I don't have a son, but if I did, I'd be afraid to let him out of my sight.  And for sure, I'd sit down with him and we'd watch "Fruitvale Station" together.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't following you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Just Started To Sizzle - "The Choir Director 2: Runaway Bride" by Carl Weber

Carl Weber

Just when you thought summer was coming to a close, here comes one of our favorite African American fiction writers, Carl Weber with the long-awaited sequel "The Choir Director 2:  Runaway Bride."

If you thought "The Choir Director"  (now available in paperback) was scandalous, well you haven't seen anything yet.

As with his other novels, he doesn't fail to deliver on being a master plot weaver.  This has a little bit of something for everyone - there's sex, power, religion, lies, deceit and mystery.

And the ending is anything but predictable.

I. Did. Not. See. That. Coming.

So, mark your calendars for August 19th and get ready for Carl Weber's newest offering from the Hachette Book Group.  

"It's been three years since Aaron Mackie succeeded in helping his friend and mentor, Bishop T.K. Wilson, dig his ministry out of financial ruin. Aaron is also responsible for re-energizing the almost defunct choir into something special. His success has drawn national attention, and he's on the verge of signing a huge recording contract. With his life in order, Aaron decides the time is right to propose to Tia Gregory, the church secretary who caught his eye and inspired him to shed his Tiger Woods-like tendencies to become a one-woman man. The stage is set for what might be the wedding of the year, but quickly becomes the disaster of the year when Aaron is left at the altar without explanation. 

Now, during his own hour of need, Aaron turns to the bishop for help. Unfortunately, the line he asks T. K. to cross will force the bishop to choose between faith and friendship, or as he puts it, "between heaven and hell." As the investigation into Tia's disappearance continues, the two men are challenged in ways they never imagined."

 - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/carl-weber/the-choir-director-2/9781455505210/#sthash.O23E0rWQ.dpuf

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Museum of African Diaspora (MOAD) Presents Oakland Stories: The Black Panthers - "Politics and Party Music"

Thursday, July 24, from 6 to 8 p.m.

African American Museum & Library
659 14th Street
Oakland, CA

RSVP for this event at oaklandstorypanthers.eventbrite.com

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bobby Womack - Music That Left Its Impact

Robert Dwayne "Bobby" Womack 
March 4, 1944 – June 27, 2014

When my daughter came into my bedroom last night and told me that Bobby Womack died, my first reaction was, "You know who Bobby Womack is?"  You would expect my first reaction to be, "Oh, No!," but for some random reason, he crossed my mind just the day before yesterday and I went to my "Bobby Womack" station on Pandora.

I plugged in the "Bobby Womack" station when I heard about his Alzheimer's diagnosis a couple of years ago.  I was working at my desk, and all of a sudden, I thought, "I wonder how Bobby Womack is doing.  I haven't heard anything in a while."

The song that came on when I clicked on the channel on Pandora was, "Harry Hippie," and while listening I thought, "this wasn't my favorite Womack song, but boy it's a good one."  My favorite, if you can't guess, is "If You Think You're Lonely Now."  How many times have all of us played that particular tune?  If not on the stereo, 8 track or CD, we've certainly sung it in our heads.

And despite whatever hurdles he may have faced and overcome in life, one thing that remained indisputable was his incredible talent, recognizable voice and "grown man demeanor."

He's singing with the angels now.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Womack.  We're still playing your tunes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Habits In The 'Hood

I see a change on the horizon in my neighborhood.

The other day, as I was leaving to run errands, I saw two Black women walking down the street in what I initially thought was Muslim attire.  As they got closer to my house, I saw they had rosary beads in their hands and were praying as they walked.

Excitedly, I asked, "Are you nuns???"  They responded in the affirmative and introduced themselves as Sister Fatima and another Sister whose name I forgot in my enthusiasm.  I told them that I, too, was a Black Catholic.  Then I went on to ask them what parish they were with and where they lived.

They explained that they had purchased a home just a few blocks away.  Then they asked if they might come back another time, perhaps on the weekend, to visit.  Naturally, I said, "Of course."  I mean, that's the first time I'd ever seen nuns in my neighborhood.  They had accents, which I couldn't discern but it was clear they were not American-born.

It made me smile to realize that hope is not lost.  Even on us who continue to wait and believe that a "change is gonna come."

Lord knows we can use all the nuns we can get.  We have enough drugs, guns, violence and chaos to keep an entire order of sisterhood busy.

Praise the Lord, we are gentrified!