Tag Archives: Chicago

Join Ayana Contreras: Monkey Hustlin’ in Chicago.

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I will be hosting a film screening of 1976’s Monkey Hustle at the Black Cinema House on Sunday, June 9th at 6pm. We will watch the film (which was shot mere blocks from where we’ll be watching it), and then discuss it.

Monkey Hustle – hosted by Ayana Contreras

Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave., Chicago

Sunday, June 9th at 6pm

Seating is limited, so please RSVP by emailing blackcinemahouse@rebuild-foundation.org to reserve your seats.

For more on the film, see my review below.

Monkey Hustle is a black film shot in Chicago in the 1970s (a rarity, in that regard), around the same time as Cooley High.  Mainly shot around 63rd Street, East of the Dan Ryan (the Woodlawn Neighborhood), and various West Side locations, the city figures prominently in the overall vibe of the film.  Starring in Monkey Hustle are (among others): Yaphet Kotto as a small-time hustler/love interest of the lovely Rosalind Cash, and a very young Debbi Morgan as Cash’s daughter.

Cash runs the local teenage hangout.  As the neighborhood hero/big-time hustler, we have Rudy Ray Moore (who is also Cash’s alternate love interest).  The other major character is Win, Debbi Morgan’s love interest who, despite showing promise for bigger things, dips deeper and deeper into the “Monkey Hustle” with Kotto.

The overlying plot is fairly pointed:  The city government is pushing ahead on plans to construct an expressway on land currently occupied by the neighborhood (which was actually happening in real-life Chicago… remember the plans for that “Crosstown Expressway“?).  Ultimately, the set-up becomes ‘the hustle must go on to save the community (by any means necessary)’.  Overall, a message movie with too many competing angles.  But fun for the shots of Chicago (and the girl fight).


Black Radical Imagination: Landing in Chicago’s Woodlawn Community this Sunday.

afronaut

This Sunday, a film screening called Black Radical Imagination will happen at the Black Cinema House in Chicago’s Woodlawn community. Black Radical Imagination stemmed from a series of discussions around the boundaries and limitations that are historically given to people of color. Specifically, in the film industry these restrictions are often digested and kept to propel a vicious cycle of negative identification. Black Radical Imagination invokes a futurist aesthetic where artists identify themselves and reclaim their own unique stories. Black Radical Imagination is curated by Erin Christovale and Amir George.

Sunday, May 19 at 6pm
Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP by emailing blackcinemahouse@rebuild-foundation.org to reserve your seats.

Reclaimed Soul host Ayana Contreras interviewed one of the filmmakers, Christina De Middel (De Middel also took the stunning photo above).

In 1964, still living the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia started a space program that would put the first African on the moon, catching up with the USA and the Soviet Union in the space race. That was the true story that inspired De Middel’s short film and photography series, both titled “Afronauts”.

We will hear their discussion on tonight’s episode of Reclaimed Soul, plus a pulsating rhythmic gumbo of futuristic African music from the 1970s & 1980s, and plenty of good old fashioned soul (all spun on wax).

Catch fresh installments of Reclaimed Soul Thursdays at 8pm (CST) on vocalo.org 89.5fm (NW Indy) and 90.7fm (CHI)


Opera-Matic’s New Moon on the Lagoon

Opera-Matic's New Moon on the Lagoon


In this audio piece, I eavesdrop on rehearsals for Opera-matic’s very cool New Moon on the Lagoon, an “evening lullaby parade”, featuring a 15 foot tall giant moon that will be lit up from within by projections of facial expressions.

It’ll be happening Friday May 10th and 11th, 2013 at the Humboldt Park Lagoon in Chicago. For more info, visit: opera-matic.org/upcoming-events/

This piece originally aired on Reclaimed Soul on Vocalo. Reclaimed Soul features music spun on original vinyl records, and stories of people making our world better (artistically, economically, etc) with old materials.

You can tune in to Reclaimed Soul live at 8pm CST on vocalo.org, 89.5fm (NWI/CHI) and 90.7fm (CHI)


The All-Brunswick Records Blow Out (Side A and Side B)

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A mix of music featuring all local Chicago Soul from the Brunswick Label. The label was originally from New York; but moved most of its operations to 17th and Michigan on Chicago’s Record Row in the mid 1960s. From there, producer Carl Davis steered an all star cast of local talent, like Barbara Acklin (above).

This podcast features the music, and an interview with some of the creative people behind the music.

 

This podcast, like all good B-Sides, features some of the trippier cuts from the Brunswick Catalogue.

 


Reclaimed Soul Episode 037: Otis Clay’s Truth Is…

otisclayOn this installment of Reclaimed Soul (my radio show), we’re be graced by Chicago vocalist Otis Clay. We listen to some favorite deep records from his 50+ year career that spans Gospel, Soul, and Blues.

We also hear about the father figures in Otis Clay’s career, and about why he decided to start his own record label. He even talks about how it felt to find out that he’s “big in Japan” (among other places).

Plus, we’ll sample his newest album, “Truth Is” which was produced and arranged by Chicago Soul heavyweight Tom Tom Washington (Tom Tom also contributed to this interview).

for more on Reclaimed Soul, visit: vocaloreclaimedsoul.tumblr.com

 


David Boykin Trio: Live at Dorchester Projects Album Release/Listening Party.

dorchester project listening party poster white

Saturday February 16th at 8pm, join local Chicago Jazz combo The David Boykin Trio (Boykin on sax, Alex Wing on bass, and James Woodley on drums) at the new Washington Park Arts Incubator. They will be playing work from the new album “Live at the Dorchester Projects”.  I (also known as DJ Ayana Contreras) will also be spinning.

Dusty Groove says about the new record:

One of the greatest albums so far from mighty Chicago reedman David Boykin – and easily a set that lives up to the rich legacy of avant jazz in the Windy City! There’s a depth to the record that comes through right from the very first note – a sense of history and feeling that shows just how much Boykin’s developed as a player over the past decade or so – a tenorist with a done that’s right up there with Archie Shepp or David Murray at their creative best – really stretching out on some wonderful solos that never fail to dim in imagination or new ideas.

The event is a part of the “Off the Record Series”, through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Elastic Arts. The year-long series highlights new works by local musicians released on vinyl.

Below, my interview with David about the new record, and about the scene in Chicago today. This originally aired on my radio program, Reclaimed Soul. Reclaimed Soul airs on 89.5fm in Chicago, and streams on vocalo.org everywhere Thursday Nights at 8pm CST. Jive on!

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the particulars:

David Boykin Trio: Live at Dorchester Projects Listening/Album Release Party

Friday February 16th, 8pm – 11pm

Washington Park Arts Incubator

301 East Garfield Blvd., Chicago

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The Early Editions: Swinging Soul and Afro-Pop from the Windy City.

early editions

“People Try” b/w “What is Wrong With Grovin'” is  a hip little record from about 1968 by the Early Editions. It’s a Chicago record, crafted by James Mack on the Aries label, but not much else is known about the group itself. My best educated guess is that the group consisted of a lounge act and/or some studio session vocalists. 

UPDATE: I found out from Theresa Davis (a one-time member of The Emotions, and an amazing session and solo  vocalist, as well) that the group consisted of three of her sisters and one of her cousins. Below is an image of the group.

early editions 2

Anyway, both sides of this record are pretty great. give a listen to snippets from both sides below. “People Try” is a peppy-yet-hip bossa nova romp, while “What is Wrong With Grovin'” is a cover of an afro-pop record by Hugh “Grazin in the Grass” Masekela.

Chicago was testing the waters as a “world city” via music, apparently.

Jive on.


Otis Clay: Live at S.P.A.C.E.

otis clay
Otis Clay performs this Saturday night (January 5th, 2013) at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston.

He’s a Chicago-bred deep soul artists I’ve profiled before on Darkjive. He’s recorded on a ton of labels (including Kayvette, Dakar, Hi, One-Der-Ful, and his own Echo imprint since his beginnings in the 1950s), but it’s his consistency that stands out.

This event is celebrating the release of his latest album, “Truth Is”.
for more info, and to buy tickets, click here


Chicago: Segregated City

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Kartemquin Films is collaborating with Black Cinema House to present “Chicago: Segregated City”, a screening and discussion of three of Kartemquin’s classic films about racial issues in Chicago, along with an exclusive sneak preview of 63 Boycott, their in-progress film about the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools by thousands of African American parents and students.

Films featured will include:

UE/Wells (1975, 15 min.)[pictured]

Winnie Wright, Age 11 (1974, 26 min.)

Trick Bag (1974, 21 min.)
The films will screen on December 17th, 6pm at the Chicago Public Library’s Greater Grand Crossing branch at 73rd and Ellis. Filmmakers Gordon Quinn, Peter Kuttner, and other members of Kartemquin will be present for a discussion moderated by the Chicago Reader‘s Steve Bogira.

Monday, December 17 at 6pm
Chicago Public Library
Greater Grand Crossing Branch
1000 E. 73rd Street (73rd and Ellis), Chicago


Dreams in Jay-Z Minor: The Intersection of Visual Art + Excess + Lyrics

Krista Franklin, (Roc)oco, 2012

Visual Artists Amanda Williams + Krista Franklin have collaborated on “Dreams in Jay-Z Minor”, a new exhibition at Blanc Gallery in Bronzeville running October 5, 2012 – December 29, 2012.

Connected by dual recurring dreams of Jay-Z, Williams and Franklin explore the natures of upward mobility, excess, fantasy, and hip-hop luxury. In their works they utilize a variety of mediums including handformed paper, altered books, and collage.

Tonight on Reclaimed Soul, in anticipation of tomorrow’s opening, you can listen to the artists talk about their work and the Societal cravings for Fabulousness and Upward Mobility that inspired it.

We’ll also listen to loads of samples and feature other audio surprises.
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, October 5th, 2012, 6pm-9pm
Featuring Sounds by Jamal “JayToo” Jefferies

Blanc Gallery
4445 S. Martin L. King Dr.
Chicago, IL 60653
773-952-4394
www.blancchicago.com

Of course, this wouldn’t be Darkjive without a throwback Chicago hook, so without further ado:

One of Jay-Z’s most memorable collabos (that recently begat a wife and baby makes three) was his verse on Beyonce’s 2003 hit “Crazy In Love”. The song samples Chicago legends the Chi-Lites, and their single, “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)”.

Perhaps the lesson learned is that if you are “Crazy in Love” but unsure if she is “Your Woman”, maybe you ought to “Put a Ring On It”, lest she be a “Single Lady”. Jive on.

UPDATE: In case you missed the Reclaimed Soul broadcast mentioned above, below is the link to the podcast version. Also, there will be a Curator/Artist Coffee Talk on Saturday October 20th at Blanc Gallery from 2pm-4pm.


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