Tag Archive | indie music

The Hot Dame Summer Edition

So we are one month into fall and the leaves are steadily changing, I forgot that I planned to recap my Hot Girl* Summer (*more like grown woman with a 401K. So what is that? A Dame?). So I entered the summer, not in the best of moods. In fact, I truly wasn’t feeling anything. But I thought the best way to shake the blues was to actually overschedule myself. Did it work? Maybe.

First, I kicked off the summer – since most consider Memorial Day as the unofficial start – at Linganore for the Reggae Wine Festival. My husband had never been and I thought it would be an easy outing. It truly was and he had fun. We then attended Capital Jazz Festival, which had perfect weather. I repeat. Perfect weather. What did we do to earn such amazing weather – warm, breezy, adequately sunny? Well, the acts were ho hum. No one was really excited for any of the acts, even the headliners for the stages: Brian McKnight and Gregory Porter didn’t elicit any great fanfare. BTW, I adore Gregory Porter, so I don’t count.

Capital Jazz Festival logo

For some reason I couldn’t find my Cap Jazz photos

Hobbies

Another decision I made was to return to golf. I joined another league. They didn’t meet as much as I would have liked but they were way more pleasant than my previous group. I didn’t achieve my goal to improve my handicap, but I realized how much I liked playing, despite the fact I am nowhere near good. This is a revelation for me that I can have a hobby where I don’t excel and it’s okay.

I returned to my paint and sip classes, which soothe me so. I came up with the brilliant idea to create a gallery wall and strategically planned my color schemes to coordinate. I am really proud of the result.

Wall of paintings

My gallery wall. Isn’t it great?

Concerts

I booked a bunch of concerts at City Winery. I can say I see steady improvement. Initially the service was slow and easily confused. I once received three glasses of the same wine from three different servers who didn’t notice they all gave me the same thing but were cognizant enough to charge me for all three. Who did I see? Yahzarah (fun). Christian Scott (late and too chatty). Tortured Soul (so cool). Van Hunt. Omar. In addition, we made it to see Lizzo for only $25. That was the bargain of the year. We traveled up to Baltimore to attend the Nas| MJB concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of their classic albums. We were so overdressed for the evening that we looked like we should be on stage too. Such a true culture clash.

My hubby turned 40 and I was kind enough to throw him a party. Hold your applause. Plus he wanted a birthday trip (see in a bit). He tapped me out. Luckily the DC / Baltimore area is great for something free to do. We wore these out in August and September. First we journeyed to Afram with the main headliner as Rick Rozay or Rick Ross (did he pay for this name yet?). Plus all of Puffy’s kids performed a bunch of mediocre songs. The Fort Dupont Summer Concert season was great this year. We went to see Deborah Bond and Raheem DeVaughan. We also saw Stokely and someone else I am not googling. Both shows were amazing and free.99. I hope they keep the same booking agent next year. We saw the really cool REACH festival at the new venue at the Kennedy Center. While I didn’t make it in to see Robert Glasper, I did spend a great day at the Hip Hop day which ended with a free performance by DeLaSoul. I also was treated to a Don’t Mute DC concert with Backyard Band at my favorite place in DC: National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Picture of Lizzo

Lizzo for $25

Randomness

I also did some typical and out of the box activities. We visited the highly popular but oh so nice new Top Golf. My hubby is terrible at golf. He would not like me to point this out. I went to an HBCU kickball tournament. Sure. It’s a thing. A really silly, fun thing.  I made a pilgrimage to a winery out in VA. You have to do at least one winery day a summer. I  went to northern Virginia more this summer than I have since I stopped working there in 2014. We attended so many of these planned activities that have become the norm over the years: A rose festival. An all you can eat Oyster festival (umm…turns out I do have a limit). The Beer, Wine and Crab festival. There is an entire industry now cultivating events for people who want to leave the house with predefined fun. This doesn’t feel like it was a thing 10 years ago. I attend a game of the WNBA champion Mystics. I always forget how much fun their games are and think: I should go more, then do not. I will fix this next year. Finally, we went to a 70’s themed birthday party. Without irony, I found my costume with ease at a major retailer selling the jumpsuit as an actual outfit they thought people should wear.

Shalina and Omar in 70's gear

70’s costumes

Chicago

As I mentioned earlier, my hubby wanted to visit Chicago for his birthday. I have been in more than 10 years and he hadn’t been since high school. What a great city to visit. We ate so much. Visited the largest rooftop bar in the world. Took a river cruise. Threw axes. Went to a beach party.

Picture of a Chicago skyscraper.

Chicago Architecture River Tour

Conclusion

And by 23 September, summer concludes and it’s all over. It wasn’t bad. Thanks Megan.  To quote my hubby, “it is time to sit your butt down.”

 

The 2018 Recap Edition

It dawned on me that my 2018 recap which had been roaming around in my head for a month was never put to paper. So how would I sum up 2018, in the immortal words of Dave Chappelle – I’m broke, [word I don’t say]. I’m broke! Wow the hits kept coming.

  1. I got a new car. I worked so hard to keep my beloved Smokey alive at great expense. In the end, my car had this annoying oil leak that three dealerships and several mechanics couldn’t identify. The accelerator pump died which meant I went from 0 to 8 after any complete and total stop for about 30 seconds until it decided to sorta go 50. But I couldn’t let go. But once it got the shimmy shakes when idling I had to let it go at 200,8XX miles. Love live Pearlie Sue.
  2. Black Panther. As an apathetic Hampton grad, the highlight of my first quarter was meeting Ruth Carter – a fellow alum whose career I have been following for 20 years. Being from Hampton really feels like a cult sometimes though. I will see folks I went to school with and the first question I get asked is when is the last time I was on campus. Ummm..what about important issues like is this woman and children next to you your family or what? However, Black Panther had the entire community hype. I still have a Lesotho blanket in my Amazon cart but broke. Wakanda Forever. Peep my General Okoye painting.
  3. Despite my lack of funds, I did a lot of long weekend and day trips.
    1. Went to Dover Downs for my birthday. I really only like to do one thing for my birthday – watch March Madness and eat chicken wings. We discovered that though Dover allows sports betting on football, which is not true for basketball. So watching and no gambling for us.
    2. We traveled to Ocean City for the first time since the first year I moved here. We stayed in a brand new hotel at a discount but truly why does it cost $300 a night to visit there?
    3. We went to New York for Pinknic. Wow was it hot. So really, really hot. I already own cute pink clothes, so I was good to go. It was ridiculously expensive. $70 for a bottle of rose or $12 for a frose. And it was all house music (Yay for me. Boo for other people who wrongly don’t love house music).
    4. I went to Detroit for Labor Day for the Jazz Festival. I made it to tv apparently since we were sitting right by the camera. Thank goodness I love Esperanza and could easily look entertained.
    5. Finally we went Austin for Austin City Limits. I had a bit of an incident the first day of the vacay with an evil scooter. Austin is such a drink and walk around town. We completely wasted money on that city tour as we saw nothing we didn’t see just walking around normally. ACL was great though they swapped Childish Gambino for Travis Scott and I am old and he makes songs I don’t know. Camilla C. (I ain’t googling the spelling) was so cute but her catalog is short. We really were there for Janelle.
  4. I recall counselling my baby cousin (waves if she is reading) that you can go out regularly with ever even thinking of a club or bar. That was certainly true for me. Summer of 2018 was marked by continuous rain, so many of my typical summer activities didn’t happen.
    1. Attended a movie screening. You have to see the movie to understand the earrings.
    2. Painted and sipped. Thank goodness I found a spot that outlines the work because you don’t want to see my previous experience attempting to draw a pumpkin.
    3. I went to fun cooking classes, learning how to make pasta and fry chicken. Honest to heaven, the very first time I made fried chicken, it was absolutely perfect – well seasoned, crispy and juicy. I peaked. I never made chicken that amazing again. But hoping I can try again with confidence.
    4. I took a graffiti and DJ class. Don’t worry all my DJ friends are safe.
    5. I took a poker class and won nothing. Someone gave me a trinket though as she won twice, and I happily took it.
  5. Without trying, I visited three Black-owned hotels. First, I went to Salamander Resort. Smaller than I thought it would be. So ages ago I stayed at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, same problem. It appears to be this sprawling resort and it is amazing, but not truly as huge as I thought. We spent the weekend at Akwaaba Inn in D.C. It’s been there for 14 years and yet never made it there. Plus I have never been to a bed and breakfast in my life. This was so cool. I definitely plan to go to more. Finally, I have been obsessed with the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore since I saw it in a magazine. Happily I found a spa deal and had a lovely spa day and tour of this highly exclusive hotel. I may never afford to stay there, but I can get a massage.
  6. I went to Spain.
  7. I became a boss. It’s much harder than it appears on television. I am no Michael Scott, but I definitely had some odd, exhausting days that felt like weeks that would make it a very funny episode on my version of The Government Office. And good bosses get no glory. It’s all about developing people to be their best or some such nonsense. I did sit down with a really useful executive coach who provided practical advice to ease some interactions.
  8. I started and didn’t finish a lot of television. I started so much and yet finished so little. I don’t even know what I was doing with my nights. Maybe I was overwhelmed. There is so much television. I literally finished a bunch of started television over the Christmas holidays. And am still nowhere near finished. And my book reading suffered. I only read 7 books this year and the only thing that got me that far was some long plane rides.
  9. Did I have a favorite movie this year (Black Panther withstanding)? I cannot say. I didn’t see a lot of the popular and critical darlings. I loved Widows but some people did not (I guess).
  10. Music was good, yet social media makes it so difficult to like certain artists. There were lots of soft, crooning female singers to like this year – Ari Lennox, H.E.R., Ella Mai. I’m old and current hip hop mostly annoys me. I continued my consistent concert tradition independent of those I mentioned earlier with, reverse order:
    1. Anita Baker
    2. Bilal
    3. Zo!
    4. Big Freedia / Tank and the Bangas (saw them twice)
    5. Elton John (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)
    6. Raphael Saadiq
    7. Hamilton (second time is the charm!)
    8. Capital Jazz Festival (In the rain as always. But a tent this time)
    9. Shabazz Palaces (this was obviously free)
    10. Black Alley
  11. Went to some out there parties.
    1. Attended the Fresh Ball courtesy of a friend and got dress up and listen to good hip hop There is a difference.
    2. NMAAHC held the most fun Derby Day party. We learned about the history of Black jockeys, wore amazing hats and nibbled traditional treats from each of the races. Which meant crabcakes for Preakness; hot browns for Kentucky Derby; pretzels for Belmont.
    3. Went to the worst mud ball of Preakness ever. Some attendees slipped, fell and were covered head to toe in mud. I’m taking a year off.
    4. Diner en Blanc was at Nats stadium, which was extremely unpopular due to the length of time to process in through security, sitting in the rafters and not being able to step onto the field. Dah well. Great parties can’t last forever.
    5. The National Portrait Gallery threw an anniversary party. Sadly the full space wasn’t open to partygoers. So the Michelle Obama portrait continues to elude me. But Amy Sherald was there.
    6. I threw axes at a Christmas Party.
  12. My tribe and I recreated my amazing bridal shower by hiring a driver to visit wineries along the Frederick Wine Trail. These elevated excursions we plan for ourselves are the best.
  13. Let me tell you. This diet from the wedding completely fell off. First of all, weddings are exhausting enterprises so you naturally lose weight with nervous energy and not eating. But that drinking green smoothies and popping mints as snack replacements couldn’t last long. I tried my best with exercise but I went to lamb festivals, and high end steakhouses and cooking classes. It was all so delicious. But at this age, I really need to concentrate all my efforts on dry salad.
  14. I continued my fitness outings. I danced to Afrobeat, Soca, Bellydance and Zumba. So many classes are devoted to dancing. Dancing isn’t the best workout for me because I spend too much time concentrating on if I got the moves right and forget the exercise part. I pounded. This was my favorite. Such a release of aggression. I took a kettlebell class. I didn’t do badly due to my semi-commitment to boot camp. However, this boot camp is ruining me for my preferred exercise – yoga. I truly love yoga, everything else I do is make sure my cute clothes fit. There I was in aerial yoga doing a backflip when my right shoulder gave out and I tumbled right onto my head. My muscles are so tired and achy that my practice is regressing.
  15. I barely golfed this year. I think I let those bitter bitties convince me into not coming back. But the end of the season once the rained cleared, I truly regretted my decision. I am not the best golfer by any stretch of the imagination, but I really liked the challenge it gave me. It took consistent effort and concentration, which isn’t my strong suit and a growth area for me.
  16. I realized that my hobbies weren’t strong. It’s important to have hobbies as I realized after having a pre-adolescent pen pal who constantly asked me what I liked to do. “I am a grown-up, kid! I don’t do anything but start television I don’t finish!” Anyhoo, I attempted to write and stuck to it an entire two months. Someday soon I need to start reciting these story ideas to myself (before my husband thinks I am crazy) and write them down. What is my blockage?
  17. So I mentioned that I was broke. Well, being a landlord sucks on ice. I went two months without a tenant after finally ridding myself of the tenant from hell in late 2017. Plus we had an unfortunate incident with a pipe bursting and damaging the basement. So we got all new pipes and walls. I didn’t want all new pipes and walls. But here we are.
  18. For 2018, I didn’t set resolutions. I didn’t even make a vision board. So there was nothing to judge against by the end of the year. I truly was in a grumpy funk at the beginning of the year, because I felt under water with finances. I made strong ones this year. (Hope I don’t fail).

That was my 2018. Here’s to 2019 (two months in)! Check the gallery.

 

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The Indie Artist Edition

flyer-goapele-wayna-howard-theatreLast week I took advantage of a Goldstar deal and went to see Goapele. I actually had been tracking several concerts this month to see if they ultimately became Goldstar deals but only one came to fruition. As I vowed that 2013 will be a year (still a real struggle) of rebuilding. I have been trying to save money. This means an over reliance on outings that cost less than $20. Despite vocal complainers, I actually like the Howard Theater. It’s pretty, easy to get to and sounds good, especially on the second floor. The sucky things about the Howard – service and food – can be advantages as often you can skip the $10 minimum because the servers forget about you, lol.

I got there promptly as intended to miss the opening act. I’ve heard her before at other DC events and I am not a fan of her voice. I have a mental block against high-pitched nasally singing voices. In fact the only other singer with this style of singing I can think of is Ayo. That is how much of a block exists.

Goapele was in great voice. However, she needed backup singers. I hate when performers don’t have backup singers. As much local talent exists, she could have employed some talented locals to back her up for the night. It was really obvious when she sang my favorite song by her, My First Love. The recorded version has this swelling background scatting that was sorely missed live. I remember I saw Ne-Yo at the Essence Music Festival eons ago and he didn’t have backup singers. I was shocked. He was a major R & B artist at the time, what was he thinking? My other complaint was that Goapele ran all of her songs together. I don’t really think her songs sound a lot alike as some artists do. So the lack of a pause or suitable transition was a bit jarring. I get that she might not be one that chats with the audience or provides little talky interludes, but a simple, “And now…” would have helped.

Oddly, I’ve always thought that Alice Smith had this unique, smoky rocker chick voice that I couldn’t place. However, on this night I felt that Goapele and she sounded eerily similar on some songs. As an aside, I went to the Hyattsville Arts Festival that weekend and the acoustic stool (not really a stage) had another singer that sounded like both Goapele and Alice. I started to scream, “Change honey, you are in for a difficult road.” Some voices are extremely popular with the masses and that list is very narrow, lol. For another aside, Britney Spears’ recorded voice is nothing like her actual singing voice, which is why she lip syncs so much. I read that in an article once and it blew my mind. The shaping that occurs in the record industry is a lot.

Back to Goapele, I did enjoy the concert despite my quibbles. I still think she could benefit from some old-school Motown stage coaching, but I think this of almost all independent artists that I see. My theory is that you will make the majority of your living from stage shows so you need to make them as electrifying as possible to ensure people keep coming back for more.