Don’t you love finding new music that knocks you off your feet?
When I came across the following video of Krystle Warren singing an acoustic dream of a song called “Love You,” I almost got emotional. Her voice commands so much space. I don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like it.
Born in Kansas City, MO, and now living and strumming in Paris, Krystle Warren has her own label and a double album called Long Songs that appears to be coming out sometime this year. I seriously can’t wait. In the meantime, you can catch more tunes, photos, and behind-the-scenes video clips directly on her website, or browse around the offerings on Spotify.
Laina Dawes’ new book, What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal, is putting me on to quite a few new bands, artists, and discussions. I’ve been reading the book for the last week (Thank you Bazillion Points Publishing! More to come on this title in a future post), but so far, Dawes has made several references to the ’70s-era funk band Mother’s Finest as one of the preeminent black rock bands that paved the way, not only for women in the metal, punk, and alternative scenes, but for all acts to follow.
I’d never heard of them before, and that’s part of the writer’s argument.
Mother’s Finest was one of the first black rock bands to be signed by a major label, yet their heavy guitars and edgy sound ultimately edged them to the margins of the urban music scene, resulting in very little support and airplay from the black community. Their song, “Niggizz Can’t Sing Rock ‘n Roll” from the 1976 album Mother’s Finest, and their 1992 album titled, Black Radio Won’t Play This Record, captured their discontent with the music scene’s cold reception of their sound.
Today, the Atlanta-based band continues to play shows throughout the south, and were recently inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Their music sounds pretty tame by today’s standards (listen below), but there’s always someone who has to help push the door open so that others can have the freedom to explore.
This photo reminds me of my youth. Elementary and middle school. Popping in cassette tapes and singing along. Rewinding and fast-forwarding to the best songs on the album. Flip it to the B side, and repeat. Album art that unfolded like an accordion. Twisting in a pencil, or your pinky finger to keep the ribbon on track. Recording music from the radio onto blank cassettes and calling them mixtapes. Amassing a proud collection of my favorite artists, just like my big brothers.
Which artists would be featured on a mixtape today?
I’m kinda feelin’ this new track from the D.C. band noon:30 (now a duo), featured here on Concrete Orchid back in the day. I appreciate how they scribble around with noise, beats, and structure. Makes for some interesting Thursday afternoon grooves. Check it out:
Quirky country singer and Tennessee native Valerie June, has teamed up with (my guitar hero) Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Here, the singer and her creative team give fans a teaser behind the making of her debut album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, scheduled for release this year. Take a look, and get excited:
From Valerie June’s bio: “A while ago I would’ve been like, I dunno about being a huge star. But now I’m like, you know what? If I can get a break? I will take it. I deserve it. I have paid my dues! I can’t work on [former part-time gig] Maggie’s Pharm no more. If you wanna bring me a coffee, yeah, I’ll let you bring it. Because I have been the person bringing the coffee. I don’t need any more experience in that. Now, being a queen? M’Kay! I think I can use a little spoiling. Bring it on.”
Bring it on, indeed. Hear more from Valerie June.
In true DIY fashion, these two saw a void in the print comedy realm and set out to fill it:
“We’d constantly talk about how there was no comedy in print anymore–even The Onion stopped their newspaper run. Mad is not what they used to be, National Lampoon isn’t a thing anymore. We got really nostalgic and thought, well, why don’t we try something. Geoff was working on this really awesome army man style zine that I thought was really cool. I discovered Kickstarter and said, ‘What if…we create a perfect-bound book full of colorful comics, writing, illustrations, and stuff? We could have our friends in it! And, we could even ask famous people!’ We thought it was crazy enough to work… so, we started working on it.”
What resulted is a now four-year-old, quarterly print publication that’s curated and edited with a fine-tooth comb:
“There are gifts that come with working on something for enough time. If someone’s writing a blog post about Syria, it’s going to be a little jumbled and hasty–but if someone publishes a well thought out article about Syria in The New Yorker, there’s going to be a lot more.”
In the interview, Meadows and Golden mention that assembling The Devastator is a steady process of experimentation and trial and error, but the simple act of discovering your passion and contributing your voice is worth the admiration.
In the spirit of taking matters into your own hands, here’s the incomparable Miss Jack Davey who always toys around with new things, in her own way.
Read the full article published on Los Angeles I’m Yours here.
Photo by my friend, and favorite photographer, Nakeya B.
A good friend and collaborator sent me a Forbes article this week titled, “Winning: Your Best Time Management Tool.”
Now I know the term “winning” is mad annoying (thanks internet and Charlie Sheen!), but this little piece of insight grabbed from the article has totally helped me restructure my daily To-Do lists:
By “little ways,” I mean developing personal habits that keep you and others focused on winning. For example, start your day by taking five minutes to think about winning. Pause for a moment, look at your daily calendar, and ask:
- What are the most important activities I need to engage in today?
- How do these support our vision of winning?
- Of everything I do today, what will really matter a year from now?
- What tasks or activities can I delegate that will allow me to focus on the areas that most support our winning?
The third bullet point is key. Ask yourself every morning, “Of everything I do today, what will really matter a year from now?”
That means, now is the time to set aside your trusted time-wasters and energy-drainers. Put away the worry, the busy work, the mindless chatter and the grass-is-greener/life comparisons made during daily social media trolling. Instead, devote time to your album, your book, your photography portfolio, or your upcoming show. Focus your attention on creating something that, in a year from now, you’ll be proud to stamp your name on.
Today, get to work!
Apparently, the HBO series Girls is in its second season and tapped Concrete Orchid fave Santigold for the soundtrack. I don’t support television shows that choose to whitewash New York City (see more of my thoughts on Hollywood’s bogus exclusionary bullshit), but I do support Santi White and this multihued portrayal of the city I call home.
Thanks to Bust magazine for the heads up.
Just created a Tumblr page for Oddflower, in preparation for the 2013 release. Check it out at Oddflower.me. More sharing, more community, more fun. Good times.
The Origin of the Universe exhibit, on display at the Brooklyn Museum until January 20th, is both dazzling and affirming. Profiled here in 2011, Mickalene Thomas’ vision of black femininity is a larger than life treasure trove of pride and beauty. Her work documents the history and identity of black women using film, photography, installation, painting, and collage.
To construct her enormous jeweled paintings, Thomas photographs a subject, creates a colorful collage on paper, projects the collage onto a wall, paints it, then bedazzles the work with intricately placed rhinestones. Many of her pieces are reimagined versions of classic paintings, including the one featured above, which is a recreation of French painter Gustave Courbet’s Origin of the World.
When I tell you this woman’s work is bad? I mean, it’s baaad. Being surrounded by such stunning beauty nearly brought me to tears. The sheer size of the images, and their placement throughout the museum forced you to realize not only the importance of controlling your own image and your own story, but also the magnitude and majesty of black women–our style, our influence, our sexuality, our authority.
It was breathtaking, and I’m grateful to have another black artist celebrated widely for pushing buttons, starting conversations, and rewriting the script.