Tag Archive | live music

The 2015 Recap Edition

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This is my 2015 recap. I wouldn’t say that 2015 was a banner year. But I don’t have those. I think not having many major life milestones is a contributing factor. No wedding, engagement, babies or new businesses. So it was just like any other year. Two items of note:

  1. I barely blogged this year. I ended up in a very toxic, soul sucking work environment and all I want to do when I get home is collapse on the couch and work on lump status. Ironically, my last project at my previous job was conducting employee focus groups. I was so amazed at how miserable employees were. People would be near tears when we asked the simple question of “how do you get along with your boss?” Now I get it. Bad workplaces sap every ounce of energy you have.
  2. Being miserable at work caused me to reevaluate my life. I became very Shalina-focused. I decided to not spend much energy chasing behind other people. I realized that I put forth much of the effort in many of my relationships and that ceased. I didn’t call first, extend many invites or deal with much selfishness. I just didn’t have the energy. This also affected my Top Ten Life. Not as many outings to discuss.

So without much further ado, here are my Top 15 moments of 2015. This is no particular order as I am trying to be more freewheeling and doesn’t include events already discussed on the site.

  1. I was so artsy. – Crafts are a good release. I made Kente cloth, painted pottery, created jewelry, adult colored.
  2. I binge watched. – I am not a tv person despite being raised by an absolute tvaholic. I like leaving the house (hence this blog). However, as mentioned by the two items of note, I didn’t cajole people to hang out and didn’t want to be bothered, so thank you to: Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, Master of None, etc. for keeping me occupied. I saw some good ones and bad ones – I won’t mention Younger. So much shame.
  3. I did lots of road trips (on my Vision Board).- New York, three times! I went to Harlem (visited many places that I later saw reality shows either good or bad) and Brooklyn. I went to Hampton’s Homecoming for the first time in 10 plus years. I am now a big fan of all the suite parties! I went to Michigan twice. To quote Murtaugh, “I am getting too old for this.” That trip is getting harder and harder to do. I went to a Delmarva beach for the first time for an extended time (4 days, not a day trip) in the 20 years I have been here. While Dewey is nice, turns out honey doesn’t like sitting in the hot sun because he works outside all day.
  4. Afro Punk.- Grace Jones topless hula hooping. Lenny Kravitz jumping into the crowd. Enough said.
  5. D’Angelo returned to form. – However, he had the ridiculous idea that his 35+ year old fan base should attend a four plus hour standing show on a work day. Unfortunately, we needed to leave early as my honey’s feet were killing him one hour into his performance (four hours into the night). Apparently he performed for two hours. Standing shows need rules! Thou shall not have opening acts. Thou shall start promptly after doors open. Thou shall only book acts whose audience is 25 years old.
  6. Prince bestowed us with his presence. – Prince came to Baltimore and all was right. Actually not really because of the reason he was there after “riots” resulting from Freddie Gray’s death. I could talk about that issue for hours but will move on. So many funny things happened at the show just in the audience! One thing, Royal Farms Arena needs screens. I never knew who any of the “special guests” were and had to rely on sneak looks at my phone (phones were banned which caused some of the audience hilarity).
  7. I was considerate. – I did stuff that I really didn’t want to because I am a good person. I gave up Trevor Noah tickets (taping his Comedy Central special!) to go to my honey’s club event. I wanted to go to a wine festival but instead went to the movies with friends. There should be prizes given out for this behavior.
  8. Carefree outings. – I joined meetups. They are such an easy way to hang out. You don’t have to call people. You don’t have to endure being stood up. If you don’t have plans, you pick a pre-arranged event and show up! Honey thinks things are weird, but I came to love them. I golfed regularly. I zip lined. I sang karaoke. I grooved at Motown the Musical. Easy peasy.
  9. Childhood dream. – I hate to admit this but I’ve never seen a full New Edition show. As equally as Jill was moody, New Edition was fun. Damn they can still dance except Johnny who is turning into Eddie LeVert. Yay guys! I saw BBD on Valentine’s Day and they can work their 6 songs hard! Then I saw the full shebang at the Holiday Jam. So happy for me.
  10. Food and libations. You know what is fun? The Bourbon and Brew Classic! Bourbon tastings combined with horse racing. What a great idea. I ate the most divine Lobster Rolls (I wrote it down) at the Baltimore Seafood Festival. I drank so much wine at the Vintage Virginia Festival while dancing to Trouble Funk. I went to a violently okay wine festival at the Navy Yard though so they aren’t all silver and gold. I like these things a little too much.
  11. So fancy. – I was invited to not one but two tea parties. I am very elegant and this is the reason why.
  12. I got some cool deals this year. – Enjoyed the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down based on a random discount code. Took honey to a cool brunch. Found an okay hotel in Brooklyn. I still want my playlist, dammit! Vegas was a great hotel special.
  13. Celebrated Detroit. – Went to D.C. Loves Dilla for the first time with special appearance by Common who did one song though Dilla produced entire albums. But I digress. Though it’s weird seeing only two people in Slum Village. I was reminded of my dark dusty days at St. Andrews in the late 90’s. Remember this, rap battles are terrible. No, they weren’t good. They are terrible.
  14. One down, two to go. – So I finally went to Preakness. I just have Belmont and the Kentucky Derby to go. Plus, I need to start on the rest of my sports bucket list: U.S. Open, the Masters, and the World Series. The sky’s the limit. Hopefully, they will have less drunk people. Preakness has so many drunk people. But I had a great hat. That’s what is most important.
  15. Diner en Blanc. Last and my favorite. I worked hard on this. After seeing that the waiting list was in the five digits I decided to be creative. While I may not be the most social being (which is the key to getting invited) but I’m Cleva (shout out to Erykah). I created a fabulous infographic as to why I should be invited and voila, I was in. On paper it seems ludicrous but in practice, awesome.Honey was dubious. My friend bailed. But what a fun time for a tremendous amount of work. Plus as a treat, honey booked a room at the Marriott Marquis which isn’t as luxurious as it could be though it has the spa water with fruit in the lobby.
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The Hard Work Edition

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Courtesy of Library of Congress

So I meant to write last week but my Office was giving me the blues. I will bypass discussion of the American Cool exhibit to recount my latest musical adventure and an adventure it was. I need to start writing things down. I saw the announcement about the Gregory Porter concert at the Library of Congress and plum forgot to get tickets. By the time I remembered it was sold out. As a result, we decided to try for tickets as they make some available at 6p on the day of shows or so I thought.

I was really proud of myself. First I got there early. I had no food in my stomach but I was there. Luckily I arrived at the same time as half of the quartet so instead of being confused as to where to go I followed them. So imagine my little amazement when I got inside to wait for tickets and it was packed. I just figured a handful of people or so would give it a shot. I didn’t know how many tickets they hand out so I spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to best position myself for success and wondering where my buddy who decided to accompany me was. I realized first that you don’t get tickets, you get something called rush tickets. These tickets enable you to be the waiting list if the event isn’t filled. Since the show is free, a lot of people order tickets online and don’t show up.

The wait quickly become contentious as the line wrapped around the hallway and the old folks who must have arrived promptly at noon were turned up. They wanted to know exactly how the tickets will be distributed and how the staff planned to ensure there was no cutting. I cannot wait until I get old! Anyway I hate conflict and started to just move on but then my Gregory Porter guardian angel swooped in and saved the day. He told me that I can get in front of him. I ended up with tickets 74 and 75 of 100. Without his benevolence, I never would have made it. The staff told us that we needed to come back at 7:30 to see if we will make it in.

I will say that this method of giving tickets requires a lot of effort on the part of the attendees. You wait in line prior to 6p and come back in 90 minutes to do it again? Anyway we were back. We sat in the overflow room which looks likes the lounge of a Vermont bed and breakfast and queue back up (well in chairs) and proceed to wait. It was hilarious. Folks were antsy. The staff would call numbers and people wouldn’t show up and folks cheered. One lady claimed to be holding tickets for friends who were en route and she was promptly booed. Amazingly my guardian angel did not return. Maybe the arguing at 6p got to him or he realized this is the stupidest method ever to get into a sold out event. Why couldn’t we just queue up at 7:30p and they just let the first 100 people in? Folks had jokes. Joy spread as we burned through the first 50 numbers. However everything slowed down after that and sadness ensued. People started plotting. I convinced a couple to double up if it got down to the wire. Then…yes! Our number was called.

We entered and the usher guided us to an entirely empty row save for two people on the end. Unfortunately the lady at the end refused to stand up and she wasn’t the kind of person you could squeeze by. A note: if you are heavy and have mobility issues, please do not sit at the end of an aisle. I watched without being able to hear my friend argue with the lady and then dart off. I followed quickly behind to discover that she saw better seats. We found great seats about 7 rows up from the stage, next to a man who didn’t even know who Gregory Porter was.

Thank goodness the concert was awesome or I just wasted 2 hours stressing for no reason. I swear after his amazing rendition of Work Song I wanted to throw my panties or give him some kind of reward. The audience was obviously filled with fanatics who screamed song requests. Umm…that’s not how concerts work. Everyone demanded an encore and sat down like the little brats we were when we got one. It was 90 minutes of excellence as an award for 2 plus hours of work. A really good deal.

The Singular Edition

Courtesy of Asico Photo Blog

Courtesy of Asico Photo Blog

Almost two weeks ago, I treated myself to the Sharon Jones and Dap Kings concert. For some reason in the past year, I have taken myself out of the habit of going places alone. This is a thing that I have never shied away from. This behavior has not been a really successful practice: *cough* Stevie Wonder *cough*. Starting in college if there was something I really wanted to do and no one else was interested, I went anyway. I think it comes from two things: 1) I was raised as an only child and so I am completely comfortable spending vast amounts of time alone and 2) I grew up pretty broke and sheltered, so I always felt like I missed out on a lot and needed to catch up.

I still remember a friendship ended in college on my first adventure alone.  I wanted to go to the ballet. Oh, hilariously I have been me for a very long time, and none of the crew wanted to go. The group had voted to spend a girls night in and I wasn’t having it. The rule was the majority decides on weekend activities. So I snuck out to the performance and my “friend” caught me. She was so incredulous that I attempted to hide and go to something as “stupid” as the ballet that the friendship never recovered.

However, this bold act started me on a path to some really great experiences. One of my favorite New Year Eves was the result of my going out alone when everyone else was afraid of a little snow. I accidentally crashed a private party that included party favors, a DJ, a buffet and open bar. Score! The one drawback of going out alone when crazy stuff happens, you have no one to corroborate your story. My terrible experience at the Essence Festival can be co-signed by one of my best friends. So sadly, no one can acknowledge the ridiculousness I witnessed at this concert. Basically I watched a White middle-aged, upper middle class, farmer’s market attending type threesome form right before my eyes. I watched a nice Volvo driving (okay I cannot confirm this but I know it’s true) couple join a good lady friend. I watched the couple make out uncomfortably (well, for me) all while the lady covertly stroked the lady friend’s hair. I saw the man go get snacks while the two middle aged middle school teachers make out (also uncomfortable for me). I observed that by the end of the night with encouragement from the double agent, the man cozy up, kissing and fondling, both women. All of this occurred with only one eyewitness, a random man sitting next to me who I will never see again.

This distraction withstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I still don’t like the open seating of the Lincoln Theater. It means I need to get to the venue 30 – 45 minutes early for complete boredom just to get a great seat. Once my overwhelming boredom ended, the show started with Valerie June. I have her CD after hearing her interviewed on NPR’s Tell Me More. I cannot figure out if I like it or not. There are three songs that I absolutely love and her voice is a true wonder. This was true of the concert as well, which was pretty true to the CD. I have never been a huge fan of bluegrass and the album has clear bluegrass, gospel and folk influences. I notice the stronger the individual influence determines my like for the song. The gospel and folk tinged songs. I love. The bluegrass, not so much. I also noticed that the songs I liked the most weren’t crowd favorites. So I was my own little island there. I still want me a sugar daddy to take me away from work, so the rousing rendition of Workin Woman Blues gave me all my life.

Finally after more boredom, where I got to watch the threesome come together and my right-hand neighbor order a t-shirt online, the Dap Kings arrived. The lull between acts at concerts are the worst thing about attending concerts alone. You have no one to chat with and are really concerned with conserving battery power. The Dap Kings started with spotlighting the backup singers before Sharon Jones, bald, defiant and energetic, graced the stage. She has been battling cancer for the last year and this was her second time on stage since treatment. She was a bit smaller, in size and presence, than usual but I happily danced along to all my favorite songs and the new stuff. At the end she led the crowd through a series of dances from the 60’s and 70’s, which was so much fun. Her commitment to her fans which was rewarded by roses from the crowd, made going out alone a great idea.

The Grooving Edition

Courtesy of Billboard

Courtesy of Billboard

So if you watched the totally fun New Girl with the majestic wonderful unicorn that is Prince, you heard a funky groove called People Pleaser by Andy Allo. The worst thing about the awesome episode is that the lookieloos who don’t understand the quirkiness of New Girl watched the show for the first time and complained the entire time. Stupid twitter! I mean the episode gave us many Princeisms including his love of pancakes, ethnically ambiguous woman and dressing up those women in witchlike outfits. What wasn’t to love?

So two Sundays ago I went to see Andy Allo at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis. It was a $15 show and that spot is one of the few in the metro area that I haven’t been to. So I figured why not. I hate picking seats for a venue that I haven’t been to but we ended up with good seats. My main quibble with the show was that Andy was there with just her guitar and another guitarist. I hoped for a full band as I prefer full bands, lol. We only needed two more people! The thing I liked when listening to her stuff was the arrangements. I definitely missed that aspect in her live show with the limited accompaniment. In the albums, I can hear strong connection to Maceo Parker first along with others.

I really enjoyed the set. She had no opening act and proceeded to sing for 90 minutes, which was surprisingly long. She has a very sweet is the best way to describe it voice and I amazingly found the entire set very soothing. I realized that I could happily sit there forever and I wasn’t sure why. I think it was I am only shallowly familiar with her work and didn’t sit there anxiously awaiting some song or another that I just had to hear. As a Prince protégé, I easily heard his influence in her vocal approach. I could listen, chat with our concert loving tablemate and snack on my crab dip in pure bliss. It was a nice feeling. I would certainly see her again. I don’t know where she can find it in this highly segmented music landscape but I wish her success. But then of course then I can’t see her for $15. I can deal with that I guess.

The Dead Computer Edition

computerSo I completely forgot to write a post last week. I totally blame my magazine addiction. See I adore magazines. Always have since childhood. I love flipping through the pages and looking at the photography. With the slow death of the industry, I have been able to indulge my love with discounted subscriptions. I obtained these subscriptions for the low, low price of $5 a year. This resulted in six magazines coming into my home every month. Then something crazy occurred. I couldn’t keep up. And the magazines and junk mail overwhelmed my modest sized living room. And next something worse happened; I started receiving random magazine subscriptions that I didn’t order, including Shape, Vogue and Redbook. I didn’t need this in my life so I decided to completely clean the living and thus forgot to post.

Subsequently another awful thing transpired. My computer died. Oh stupid laptop. I hate computers because they die completely without warning and are kind of pricey to replace.  But since I hate computers, there won’t be a pilgrimage for an indestructible Apple because spending more than $1,000 on a laptop isn’t a thing.

I had such a lovely post planned on how the radio. Yes, the evil consumerist radio has been introducing me to the new musical acts. Of course I don’t mean mainstream radio. I mean NPR. Yes, NPR’s spotlights and reviews have led me to some new and interesting singers. Back in October, I went to see jazz artist Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Sixth and I Synagogue. Despite my strong desire to pull her aside and offer her my stylist consulting services, I really enjoyed the concert. Her throaty jazz vocalists are a surprise from someone who could have easily donned a onesie and started singing hooks for rappers.

I also planned to write about my experience seeing the movie, American Promise. The documentary traces the entire academic careers of two Black Brooklyn male students attending a prestigious school in Manhattan. The screening was followed by Q&A with the directors who are also the parents of one of the students. I had mixed feelings about the film. I understood the purpose—to watch how Black male students struggle in predominantly affluent, and White environments. It also unconsciously showed the adage that for a Black person being equal to your peers isn’t good enough as the boys struggled with teachers and administrators. However, I wish I left with an overall wrap-up statement.

Alas, computer died and I need to figure out how to get me a new one.  Not pleased.

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.

The Legends of the Summer Edition

Legends of the Summer setThe first 10 days of August were a blur of non-stop activity, both at work and at home. The capper of the month was finally seeing the Legends of the Summer tour. I purchased these tickets back in March when the tax refund was rolling in and I was flush with money. Needless to say, almost six months later, I wondered with my inside voice often if I foolishly spent too much money for one event. It rained pretty much all day and the concert was outside, so I was not really feeling up to it. Thankfully, it only sprinkled during the concert. Score! I needed to take the day off because the concert was in Baltimore and I work in Northern Virginia. The last few times I tried to make it from Northern Virginia to Baltimore on weekdays have been disasters and I didn’t want to risk it. Our plan was to get there early, park far away and have dinner. Well, it took two hours to travel 30 miles in the rain, so that plan never came together. We were at the stadium by 7p—early–and I bore very easily.

I hoped against all hope that the show would start promptly at 8p mainly because I was bored. Sitting in wet folding chairs watching people walk around was no fun. Honestly, I knew better. Based on twitter reaction from previous shows, the concert started around 9 and ended at 11:30p. That is precisely what happened. On a school night! After listening to an hour of a DJ travel from the excellent: Ashford and Simpson to the terrible: whichever hip hop artist is currently on the radio. I was so ready for the show.

Can I say in completely certain terms that the show as awesome? I saw an old episode of No Reservations this week and Anthony joked that coming up with adjectives to describe delicious food becomes exhausting. Finding an adjective to describe an amazing concert is pretty much the same. First, the staging was gorgeous and I happened to match because I was wearing red. I read a Rolling Stone review that stated that Jay Z’s collaboration with Justin has elevated his stage presence. It’s true. I am not exactly sure why Justin went through this “I want to act and design jeans instead of sing” phase, but he needs to stop. He belongs on a stage and he seemed almost Zen singing, dancing, and playing multiple instruments. I know people feel the need to stretch themselves, but again stop. Since he has three relatively short albums (~10 songs a piece) knowing his catalogue is rather easy. I and the audience could happily sing along. Jay Z has a ridiculously long catalogue so knowing what songs he would do became an interesting guessing game. I really hoped for more American Gangster, but oh well.

They came out to that Magna Carta Holy Grail, which I don’t like but it looked fun. Justin and Jay Z took turns performing, sometimes mashing up their songs. Justin would sing hooks for Jay Z songs replacing the original artists. For others, we were forced to hear recorded versions of the hook singers (my least favorite part of the show). Honestly are we really missing anything by having the background singers take turns being Alicia Keys or Rihanna? I like my live shows with live music, but I digress. They also had singular sets where they would do a few of their songs on stage without each other. My favorite part, other than the gorgeous set, was the band. In all red, they would dance for Jay Z songs and riff for Justin’s. Seeing the band bop to N’s in Paris was adorable, no Kanye necessary. All in all it was worth every anguished penny.

Earlier that month, I saw the second season of Liner Notes. This event gets bigger every time and I am so thrilled for the artists. To think I found this event through a Goldstar deal and now it is becoming an appointment event. The artists were able to move to the larger theater of the Atlas, another cool thing.  I hope soon, they tour. Think of the amazing possibilities. They could do a Philadelphia sound show in Philly, Motown in Detroit, Cleveland funk in you know, Cleveland. But I am sure they don’t need my suggestions. I just want more and more people to experience the greatness and cleverness of the show. And my goodness does Akua Allrich have a voice as clear as a bell!

Finally, my moment of disappointment, I spent serious coins to attend the Summer Spirit festival this year. Last year I won tickets and I really should have attempted the same thing this year. We wanted to buy tickets because it has been rainy all summer and wanted to be prepared for D’Angelo. Well, D’Angelo cancelled his concert in Brooklyn on the Thursday before and things were getting iffy. We were mentally, but of course not emotionally prepared, for his cancellation and it came true. This lineup was really not worth the coins without D’Angelo. My theory for these things is if the festival ticket costs less than seeing the artists individually, then it’s a bargain. That was not true. Hiatus Kaiyote was interesting but still in the opening act stage of their careers. I like Black Alley but I’ve seen them free at local venues and once for <$20 as part of a larger local artists festival lineup. Backyard Band is not a group I normally check for, so I am not sure. Busta was okay. The problem is that he did snippets of each of this songs. I did not like that. Can I get an entire song? And no, I don’t want to hear your guest appearance on other songs. Nobody cares about that Pussycat Dolls song. I remember seeing Busta 15 years ago in college. Granted we were both younger but he had such stage presence and this was lacking something. I know…full songs! It felt like someone said that they didn’t know who he was and he just ran quickly through all his songs to prove his existence. We know who he is and we didn’t need that.

They replaced D’Angelo with Raheem Devaughn which someone annoyingly said that he was a better choice. This person has no taste and shouldn’t be trusted. I think Raheem completely gave it his A game, but it really didn’t matter. We came for D’Angelo, despite all of his troubles, a gifted singer and musician who created two terrific albums. Plus, Raheem performed for free right down the street from my house for National Night Out, so that eliminates any bargains there back to my original theory.  Finally Erykah came out all late. I know this because I needed to go to the bathroom. The attendees at this year’s festival were a bit more coarse than previous years and the one time I went to the bathroom wasn’t an experience I wanted to replicate for a host of reasons. I saw Erykah during her remarkable Baduizm / Mama’s Gun tour this year ($40) and while I love her, she wasn’t my draw to the festival. There is usually a 30 minute set-up time between artists. This was 45 minutes. She really had to be good since D’Angelo didn’t make it and last year, she was in one of her moods. She was at her mesmerizing, odd best. I’ll admit I left early as I had to go to the bathroom and decided it was best to go to my own bathroom. In short, unless the festival radically changes its lineup next year, I probably won’t attend. There were so many local artists that only the lawn makes sense cost-wise. However, the crowd was more annoying and I can see getting irritated really quickly. We shall see as I always say.