Adventures in the Art of Life: Music, Dance, Film, Theater, Travel, Activism, Culture …

If you want to learn more about iconic rock musician/guitarist Jimi Hendrix's life, I highly recommend this PBS “American Masters” documentary "Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’".  

*SPOILER ALERT* NEW JIMI HENDRIX “BIOPIC”

I don’t typically devote my time or this space giving negative reviews of most artistic expression.  I’d much rather promote what I love than mention that which I don’t.  Having said that, I will say that Andre Benjamin’s (a.k.a. “Andre 3000" of the Hip Hop group OutKast) portrayal as Hendrix is the ONLY bright spot in the John Ridley written/directed “biopic” "Jimi: All is by My Side" .  

The film attempts to the tell the story of a pivotal year in Jimi’s life and career that he spent in London in the late 1960’s. In addition to Benjamin’s acting (he really is quite good in the role), I did appreciate the costumes and the scenery, which feel authentic capturing that time.  This is where my “like” for this movie ends, as the film didn’t contain any of Hendrix’s music (his estate did not grant permission for its use) AND there is a particularly disturbing scene depicting Jimi as a violent woman beater which - by all accounts (including from the girlfriend (Kathy Etchingham allegedly involved) - NEVER HAPPENED.  I understand the concept of “creative license” and the challenges with bringing a “real” person’s life to the big screen, but to create such a negative narrative of any man (especially a Black man) is disheartening, insincere and insulting to those who knew and loved him personally and to his millions of fans.  Jimi’s life and career are well documented and many people - including those he worked with - are still alive and able to give rich, factual details about their experiences with Jimi.  Why they weren’t involved and, instead, their perspectives were replaced by a flagrant untruth and boring storyline (no easy feat to make JIMI HENDRIX’s life seem “dull”) is hard to fathom.  I do hope another feature film about the great Jimi Hendrix, one that really shows his genius and humanity, is on the horizon. Until then, I’ll stick with the PBS documentary and listen to Jimi’s music. 

Remembering Nigerian musician/activist/Afrobeat creator FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI on what would have been his 76th birthday.

(October 15, 1938 - August 2, 1997)

DJ/producer Rich Medina has kept Fela’s music and legacy alive and introduced him to new audiences for more than a decade via his incredible "Jump N Funk" events!  If Rich brings Jump N Funk to your town, it is NOT to be missed. 

To learn more about the fascinating Fela - 

READ:  Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore

SEE: “Finding Fela

 

For years, they were telling me to play commercial, be commercial. I’m not commercial. I say, play your own way. You play what you want, and let the public pick up on what you were doing, even if it takes 15, 20 years.”

Remembering Thelonious Monk 

October 10, 1917 - February 17, 1982

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"Music is like one of the first escapes … a journey into the unconscious and to the all conscious mind.  I guess it reminds us all that we can be on the same frequency, if we want." - Bilal

Remembering the remarkable Donny Hathaway today (October 1) on the anniversary of his birth.  His voice is incredible, his music is powerful and timeless and his talent and influence are limitless.  

Donny Hathaway via Spotify

"Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical" is a rowdy, raucous ride about the one and only original “Queen of Disco” Sylvester.  Actor/Singer Anthony Wayne's portrayal is as dramatic and over the top as Sylvester himself!   Produced by the original “Dreamgirl"/star of stage, screen and television Sheryl Lee Ralph, in association with her nonprofit HIV/AIDS awareness organization the D.I.V.A. Foundation, this show runs only until October 5 in New York.  So, if you want to experience the fun and fabulousness, get your tickets ASAP

I loved Sylvester’s songs, and his fearlessness and determination to be exactly who he was at a time when a large Black man singing in falsetto adorned in women’s clothes, jewelry, wigs, feathers, sequins and a face BEAT for the GAWDS was NOT exactly acceptable or mainstream.  I saw him perform live only once at New York’s famed dance club “Paradise Garage" and was mesmerized!  

And I ADORED his back up singers Martha Wash and the late great Izora Armstead Rhodes - also known first as "Two Tons O’ Fun" and, later, as "The Weather Girls."   Their vocals - particularly on the live recording of Sylvester’s hit song "You Are My Friend" and their song "Taking Away Your Space" - are ASTOUNDING!  And their song "Just Us" is a classic R&B/Dance groove.  In the words of Sylvester himself - “THESE WOMAN CAN SANG Y’ALL”  

Sylvester used his celebrity and fame to bring awareness about HIV and AIDS before he succumbed to the deadly disease in December 1988. Sylvester LIVED a fascinating, fabulous life and left an indelible mark on the world.  

Check out TV One's “Unsung" series features on both Sylvester (2010) and Martha Wash (2014).

Read Martha Wash’s reflections on Sylvester  and Joshua Gamson’s fascinating biography “The Fabulous Sylvester” 

Listen to NPR 2013 spotlight on Sylvester

JUST ONE RECORD (FRANCE) INTERVIEW

I KNOW I wouldn’t be able to choose just ONE record…

koolboblove:

"A SUCKER EMCEE" IS A MUST-SEE!

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In "A Sucker Emcee", actor/poet/writer Craig “muMs” Grant delivers his autobiography in rich, rapid rhymes set to Hip Hop music spun brilliantly by DJ/Producer Rich Medina.  He humorously, fearlessly and tenderly tells his tale of growing up in the “Boogie Down” Bronx, NY, discovering his voice at the dawning of Hip Hop, chasing his dreams as they unfold and, finally, realizing and embracing his authenticity. The play is at the Labyrinth Theater until October 5, so RUN (don’t walk) to experience this inspiring production.

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Watch the trailer 

Read the New York Times review

Alice Smith's smoldering cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Dreams” at afropunk 2014. 

She is the TRUTH!