Tag Archive | jazz

The Music Filled Edition

First of all, I have decided I hate taking a cab in the D.C. area. Taking cabs in other parts of the country usually only involve disinterested drivers that chat on their cell phones the entire ride, or crazy drivers taking the long way to make more money, or stinky cabs. But in D.C., they won’t even pick you up. I think that is of course, the worst. Okay now that I got that off of my chest, back to our regularly schedule blogging.

Last week, I missed an opportunity to see the Lianne La Havas show, because Smokey (my car, which is named after Smokey Robinson or possibly its color) decided to act up. I was okay with this because I couldn’t decide if I liked her CD or not. However, some tweets I saw claimed the concert was a success. Maybe next time.

new orleans bingoOn Saturday, I was back on schedule with a filthy loaner, complete with a cigarette butt and abandoned M&M. I will admit I prefer a clean inside of car rather than outside of car. I wonder what that says about me. I prefer the part of the car I see the most, the interior, to be clean rather than have shiny rims and a spotless finish. Last weekend, my month of things procured from a discount service continues. I picked up a discount deal to the New Orleans Bingo! Show at the Kennedy Center. I haven’t been to the Kennedy Center since I saw Stevie Wonder like three years ago. I used to go all the time for their free events and something weird happened. Oh now I remember, I am stuck working in the Northern Virginia suburbs which to me is like working in a Playskool village. Look at the Whole Foods on every corner!

Anyway, I decided to go because the Kennedy Center posted a video of Big Freedia and I was in love. I will admit I was a little worried that the regular KenCen crowd would attend this event and be flabbergasted by twerking and booty clapping. Turns out, I was right and it was awesome. The entire event is hard to describe. There is music, bingo, burlesque, skits, traditional New Orleans jazz by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (I think this tricked the old people into attending) and Big Freedia. The bingo winner received a giant spoon, which had to be won by a robot dancing contest after a tie. One of the KenCen dames made an executive decision to go for the gusto and another gave it a nice college try.

Big Freedia came out in a God-awful weave along with two additionally terribly weaved female dancers and two male dancers. Bounce music is my shizznit as I am from Detroit and our main dance output is shaking our rumps rhythmically (see Beyonce’s Uh Oh, which is actually a Detroit dance called the Booty Hop) and jitting (which I don’t even know how to spell). The dancers did lots of wonderful gyrating and booty popping that some of the KenCen folks weren’t ready for. Hilariously, the couples behind me (my section was mostly young) joked that they would pay a million dollars to see the looks of the more seasoned attendees’ faces during that segment. I got a firsthand download en route to the ladies room, when a woman said to her husband, “That last act was weird, huh?” To which the still mesmerized hubby replied, “Sure.”

I think the event really needed New Orleans food to cap it off. Man, is New Orleans food delicious. Wait…what happened? Oh, yea. The evening was awesome, three hours of pure fun.

Row of Bar StoolsNext, I attended the bi-annual Old School Hip Hop Bar Crawl. I arrived in time for the second set, which was this awful mix of popular hip hop songs over reggae beats. Despite the hair, I hate reggae except for watered down pop reggae, so I hate reggae. I gave that a whopping 24 minutes. See, how much more patient I am becoming. We moved on the 80’s and 90’s New York set, which was filled with wondrous songs I had never heard of. I get that the DJ wanted to stand out and not lean on popular songs, but I had to Sound Hound a lot. The event ended with Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones and that helped. Unfortunately, my favorite DJ from the last event helmed the only spot to get decent food. I was hungry as cereal only lasts so long. I could only hear the Native Tongues vs. Wu Tang set faintly. But it was probably great based on past experience.

Next was the Rock-A-Fella, Ruff Ryders and Flip Mode set. What happened to Rah Digga? I loved her. I never purchased any of her stuff but she was nice. Oh, I think I recognized the problem. Last, we went to the final set at Tabaq. We choose to go upstairs and I don’t remember why.  I do love the rooftop view but was forced to listen to Feist as the music from the bar crawl didn’t reach that far. This was redeemed by the fact that the bartender gave me a free shot that I shouldn’t have taken in hindsight. And he performed the sexy straw trick. I am a sucker for the sexy straw trick. All in all, it was a great weekend. For outings. It wasn’t perfect as I was without Smokey. I ended the weekend by giving Mad Men deep concentration. (darn shot!).

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The Overambitious Edition

Running a bit late, but here goes. I had multiple plans for this weekend, but the snow and a headache reduced my packed weekend from 5 to 2 events.

Jose James at the Howard Theater

Jose James at the Howard Theater

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing Jose James at the remarkably frigid Howard Theater. Seriously, the place was freezing. People wrapped themselves in coats and scarves. Growing up in Michigan I was always taught that if you bundle up in your coat indoors, what will you do when it’s 20 degrees or more colder outdoors? Therefore, I never walk around in outerwear (a sweater or shawl only) no matter how cold it is indoors. And really, is it every 24 degrees inside like it was that day outside.

But back to the show. I admit that I am not familiar with Jose James’ music. I spent the last few years not discovering new music, but revisting old artists. This has been a great experience musically but has placed me woefully behind the curve on current non-ubiquitous artists. However, my friends love him and the concert was only $18 due to a wonderful Goldstar deal, so I was happy to purchase a ticket. I could not quite sing along, but the songs were, lacking an action verb, amazing. I actually dislike dinner concert venues, because I prefer to face the stage not look over my shoulder at the performer. Plus, the tables were too close together and we didn’t have much breathing room. But as the night wore on, I realized that the set-up worked. James approaches his jazz-infused songs quite slowly and methodically, letting his music seep into your consciousness.  Also, James has a unique ability to let his band shine and he may often stand slightly off stage as they perform. If warmer, the show with its crammed seating and intimate setting would lend itself to a throwback 50’s Harlem Jazz club, a rare occurrence in this modern time.

Changing America exhibit at National Museum of American History

Changing America exhibit at National Museum of American History

Next, that weekend, a friend invited me to a group outing to visit the Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the  March on Washington, 1963 exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Another admittance, I am not fond of history as an academic discipline. Current, last hundred years or so, history is easy. Television, newspapers and magazines capture and disseminate information (hopefully) as they happen as with the March on Washington. Prior to that the information gets fuzzy. Very fuzzy.

Think back to all of the rancor about the recent Lincoln film. History scholars were upset that the film depicts Lincoln as a great emancipator when his reasons for freeing slaves weren’t all together altruistic. Personally, I don’t care if Lincoln didn’t like or respect African-Americans as the historians claim as long as we were freed. That’s where the split materializes. People have this need for everyone to have pure hearts and actions. I don’t require heroes and heroines, just people who make the right decisions when necessary.

The saying goes that history is written by the victors. There are pockets of history that is written, stories that are written but not shared, and events that are distorted. Seeing these artifacts—Lincoln’s hat, Frederick Douglass’ letters, official records–makes history more tangible, but motives and thoughts will always be missing, especially without diaries or journals. The visit spurred an hours-long conversation about activism, race and the upcoming generation. Not that we solved the world’s problems, but critical thinking is always a great thing. And maybe that’s what history can provide.