Category Archives: Uncategorized
I love the breadth and depth of Oscar Brown Jr.’s work. A prolific singer, songwriter, playwright, and activist, he was also a born and bred Chicagoan. The cut below “Work Song”, is from his first LP, 1960’s “Sin and Soul” which he recorded in his mid-thirties. He was a father of five at the time of his debut. I love how simple the arrangement is on the track, and yet, it still SWINGS…..jive on.
Brown wrote at least 1,000 songs (only 125 have been published), twelve albums, and over a dozen musical plays.
Avery R. Young, local Chicago wordsmith, educator, personality, and friend of darkjive, is in the midst of publishing a series of thirty works (some poetry, some script treatments, and some more visual pieces) in the form of facebook notes. The work plays with notions of language, blackness, and the canon of African-American pop culture as only he can. Check it out a sample below, and jive on.
poem fo angela
or losin man-weight
i been tryin not to drink
cocacolaclassic. de logo
blood on paper. bold
in de land of cullud fountains
(woolworth’s beverage of choice).
i been tryin
to try water. no bubbles
or lemon. just one part
air. ery other part
begins wif hi.
i been tryin not to keep
erything away from yo judgment.
u so big mama
sometimes. make a big
i been tryin to turn
pride into purple
& wet. sweet
like grape drink
puff milk after de brown
been crunched away.
u so cod liver oil.
so mo pounds
gainst my bone.
for more, click here
Below is a record of his that I’ve been getting into lately, “Just Because I Really Love You” by Jerry Butler, circa 1969. This cut is super smooth and a great example of Jerry’s work on Chicago’s own Mercury Records with Philly greats like Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff (especially the cheeky background vocal at the top). It’s the flip side of the hit record “Only the Strong Survive”. It’s also the type of swoon-inducing record made for basement blue light parties.
The record was sampled by J Dilla for “U-Love” on 2006’s Donuts (and in 2002 by French hip-hoppers Hocus Pocus for “Conscient”.
The song was also recently covered (very sweetly, I might add) by Miles Bonny X the Ins. Jive on!
A couple of photos of me at work, taken by Taras Tymchuk (a visitor in town from the Ukraine). You should visit, too.
It’s the time of the season for italian ices, blowing bubbles, and visits to amusement parks. But it’s a sad day in Melrose Park, for this is the first summer in eighty years without Kiddieland. No little train. No cotton candy. But all is not lost…..
Originally published Labor Day Weekend 2009:
After Eighty Years, Kiddieland of Melrose Park closes to the public this weekend. A rift between two branches of one extended family tore beyond repair, resulting in the closing (one branch owns the park, while one owns the land the park is built on [and didn’t extend the park’s lease]). Many of the rides were well over fifty years old, and all of them in emmaculate condition. What a loss.
In memorium, Darkjive presents Chicago’s own Junior Wells with a 1972 version of “Messing With the Kid”. Goodbye Little Dipper! Goodbye Tilt-a whirl!
UPDATE: As of Memorial Day Weekend 2010, the original Little Dipper will make its home at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee (North of Chicago). Hurrah!
Eunice Johnson (1916-2010), widow of Ebony/Jet Publisher John H. Johnson, was more than Black Media’s First Lady. As Creator and Director of the Ebony Fashion Fair (an all black roadshow of haute couture), she paved the way for generations of black models from Beverly Johnson and Naomi Sims to Naomi Campbell. In fact, Richard Roundtree (“Shaft”) was a Fashion Fair model before he was kicking tail on the big screen.
In the show, which was started in 1961, she included some of the most fashion forward designers, including Yves Saint Laurent (pictured with Mrs. Johnson, above). In a time when Chicago was in many ways the hub of culture and information that bound the Black Community together (i.e., the nationally recognized Chicago Defender, Ebony, Jet, and a world renowned music and arts scene), Mrs. Johnson took her Fashion Crusade to the streets in towns both near and remote. Accordingly, sewing machines buzzed each season, inspired by the roadshow of dreams. Her shows, as well as so many of those classic Ebony Magazine fashion layouts, presented our people as we were (and still are) striving to be: free and uplifted. Strutting. Gliding.
As if that weren’t enough, Ebony Fashion Fair, which grew into the world’s largest traveling fashion show, annually encompasses a nearly 180-city tour of the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It has raised more than $55 million for various charities.
And it keeps us dreaming. To me, that is her legacy. She brought the dream to our door.
The University of Chicago’s Center for the Studies of Race, Politics, and Culture, DOVA (Department of Visual Arts) Temporary Gallery, Black Panther Party Illinois History Project, and Diasporal Rhythms for an exhibit of works by Emory Douglas, internationally known artist and former Black Panther Party Minister of Culture. Location: DOVA Temporary (5228 S. Harper). Exhibit runs December 2, 2009-January 2, 2010.
“Evil”. A fundamental Howlin Wolf record, created here in Chicago, back in the 1950s. A platter of standard electrified Delta Blues. Now, add Marshall Chess (son of Chess Records’ Leonard Chess), the turbulent and psychedelic 1960s, and some of the best jazz, funk, and soul studio players in the city. Remake and enjoy.
Well that’s not exactly true. Howlin Wolf (above) didn’t like the remake. Actually, the first album of such remakes, released on Chess Records’ Cadet Concept label was called:
‘This is Howlin’ Wolf’s
He doesn’t like it.
He didn’t like his electric
guitar at first either.’
The album, the brainchild of Marshall Chess, was a product of the times. In the sixties, white rock groups from America and the UK were gangstering Chicago Blues records. They remade them nearly word for word and listed themselves as artists, thus robbing originators like Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters out of royalties. Chess decided to re-record the artists performing their own compositions in a then-contemporary psychedelic blues style. The albums were panned by purist critics, the same critics that called white psychedelic blues artists like Cream “visionary”.
But, I like it. And I hope you do, too. For info on Muddy Waters’ psychedelic blues remakes, click here.
Tonight, a group of musicians will gather at The Hideout to celebrate the life and music of Charles Mingus, and to benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Mingus, an American musical hero who died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is one of the greatest figures in jazz history. His bass playing, compositions and philosophy have transcended his genre and left indelible marks on music history.
Justin Dillard — solo piano
Sue Mingus talks about the Jazz Workshop, Inc., and she reads an excerpt from her memoir “Tonight at Noon” (via Skype).
MAPtet performs music by Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Eric Dolphy
Rich Corpolongo — saxophones
Saalik Ziyad — vocals
Paul Hartsaw — tenor saxophone
Dan Godston — trumpet
Nick Moran — baritone saxophone and bass clarinet
Norman Palm — trombone
Jon Godston — soprano saxophone
Jerry Coleman — drums
Alex Wing — upright bass
Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance at The Hideout website, and you can make a donation to MAP3 by clicking on http://www.lesturnerals.org/communityevents.htm. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a raffle to win items donated by The Jazz Institute of Chicago, The Old Town School of Folk Music, The Jazz Workshop Inc., Myopic Books, Dusty Groove, Chicago Independent Radio Project, Reckless Records, and others.
Mingus Awareness Project 3
Thursday, May 7, 2009
9:00pm – 11:30pm
1354 W Wabansia Ave