Tag Archive | 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 Shake Off the Blues Edition

Last week was not a banner week. In fact, it was a terrible week. It was the kind of week that reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. Somehow along the way, my job became not fun. There is no shame or anger in that; it is a grown-up job in a cubicle-land with pleasant coworkers. However, I needed outside interests that inspired me, gave me something to look forward to. Outings, friends, music always soothed me. That would need to continue in order to survive everyday life. So what did I do last week? Lots. Some fun, some necessary.

alice_smithFirst, I went to see Alice Smith on Thursday. People love her and I was oblivious, but the tickets were $25, so why not. I loved her too. I heard her new album “She” free on OkayPlayer. I will admit I am so glad that album previews are back. This is wonderful as I can hear and judge without payment. Yay! I liked the album (it will always be that to me) and was ready for the show. Boy, was that show late. On a weekday. Luckily, I was off on the following Friday. I dread opening acts now and another great thing: there wasn’t one. I had to google Ms. Smith, sorry for not being a devoted fan, to be prepared for banter or whatnot. There was no banter. I liked that the audience was very multi-cultural. It’s a weird statement. But I have a strong preference for soul music and the occasional hip hop. Therefore, my concert experiences are pretty homogeneous. 9:30 usually brings the multi-cultural and I found good parking. Viva la weekday shows! It was great. I adore Alice’s voice. It’s really a bluesy-rock voice that actually reminds me of Ann Wilson (Heart). I admire distinctive voices that are easy to recognize. She’s definitively on my list of those I plan to follow closely.

8-GO-GO-PosterFriday was spent getting one of two of my broken computers fixed (therefore, no post). After beautiful weather all week, Saturday had a bit of a chill, still sunny. I decided wrong-headedly to drive into the city for the free Corcoran day. This was terrible because everyone decided to drive into the city. It took more than an hour to get to the National Mall area. This may or may not be due to something called cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms were a little anemic on Saturday. I understand full bloom was Tuesday. I admit that I am one of those cheesy people that loves cherry blossoms, but there weren’t many to see. Then onto the Corcoran to see the Pump Me Up exhibit. I have another confession. I don’t believe that D.C. is a great indigenous music town. There are some good local acts but would I call the music subculture vibrant, no. My friend who has lived in DC since the 1980’s didn’t like that viewpoint, but oh well. It was interesting seeing what DC was like then, as DC in the 80’s, except for 227, seemed like a scary place. Of course I grew up in the metro Detroit area, so I can say this without judgment. The exhibit felt cold and detached as if the curator thought of DC as some faraway thing and not a place s/he loved. I really thought the exhibit could benefit from some multi-media. It was the 1980’s, not the 1880’s. How about some music, videos, documentaries? I didn’t feel that DC was too different from the movies I saw about the East Coast in the 80’s save Go-Go. Punk is punk, hip hop is hip hop.

drink the distictFinally, after a lot of walking, I decided to walk around some more gathering wine samples. I went to Drink the District. I wish it was warmer. I purchased the evening ticket from Living Social because I knew there were things I wanted to accomplish that afternoon, but the sun went down and the wind by the water kicked up. So it was cold. As an aside, in the early 2000’s I worked at the Navy Yard. The changes that have been made to that area are remarkable. When I worked in the area, there was a working crack house on the corner and now there is a Gordon Biersch. If only a sushi restaurant, a Potbelly, a trapeze school and other cool amenities were there when I was saddled into that spot. Back to the wine tasting, I didn’t like many of the wines, which is really rare. I decided that I really like Naked Grape products and some Moscato wines, because Moscato wines are tasty, which is why it is a dessert wine. I loved the concept and hope they do another one when it’s warmer.

My Sunday was spent running errands, being locked out of yoga and getting computer #2 fixed before settling into the return of Mad Men. Then back to the weekday grind.

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.

2012 – The Year That Was

“Have more fun in 2013” – Nas

Courtesy of Hip Hop Wired

Courtesy of Hip Hop Wired

I spent my last day in 2012 at Radio City Music Hall listening to Nas. The concert was amazing (a little too short) and being in NYC on NYE is an experience all its own. It was the end to a unique, but not quite, year. 2012 occurred with no major life changes: no new job, romance, accomplishment. That could be why I was so disenchanted with it. 2012 marked a significant birthday as I graduated from the cool kids club, without feeling it at all. I spent the aforementioned birthday at the opening of a new supper club, that I am not sure still exists. I wasn’t impressed and didn’t check on its progress.

I decided that I needed to push myself more, personally. I am the kind of person who can stand up to a 6’4” screaming E9 in the office or climb a mountain in a foreign country, but won’t speak to a stranger at a party. Thus, I vowed to go out more and take chances. None of these things I like, by the way.

To recap my year, I am using the same system I’ve employed since 3rd grade. It first starts with best friends and new friends. I did make a few new friends, so go me!

Favorite TV Shows:

  1. Parks and Recreation
  2. Scandal
  3. Chopped

Least Favorite Show:

Who has time for that?

Favorite New Show:

Nashville

Fun Fads:

  1. Ridiculous VH1 Reality Shows
  2. over-the-top nails,

Sports:

My Pistons weren’t good this year and my Tigers were swept at the World Series

Best Concert:

So difficult… as I went to a lot of great shows, but I’ll give it to Nas, since he was  last

Honorable Mention:

Summer Spirit Festival, since I went free and Sharon Jones is awesomeness

Best Songs:

This was not a great new music year for me, meaning that I really haven’t been  exploring music like I should. That should be something I vowed to change in 2013

Favorite Movie:

Honestly, the only movie I thought about a week even after viewing was The Silver Linings Playbook. I just loved it.

Honorable Mention:

The Avengers, because I was so amazed that they pulled it off

Funniest Moment:

There will be a ham. This line represents the ridiculousness of my work environment perfectly

Strangest Moment:

That awful wind storm in June, plus I was stuck driving in it

Worst Moment:

Having my car towed, darn it

Fun Moments:

  1. All the moments on this blog, of course
  2. The annual Boo Bash
  3. Finally visiting South Beath

Favorite spots:

  1. Panera, which shouldn’t be shared but I eat there once a week, lol
  2. My beloved yoga studio, a good one is hard to find
  3. Queen Makeda/1920, who knew I’d be happy going to the same spot every  week

Favorite meal:

Drag Brunch in Miami, honey

Regrets:

Oh my

Highlights:

  1. Achieving a headstand in yoga, I joke that this is my single biggest accomplishment this year
  2. Completing The Warmth of Other Suns, as that was a long book

Third Week of November

My third week in November—second on a $30 entertainment budget—included only one outing. I was scheduled to attend an Omega Psi Phi Founders Day event for the odd price of $16.24; however, plans changed. A friend of a friend’s mother died, which required immediate attention. 2012 forever will be remembered for me as the year of parental death. So many of my friends and former classmates had parents die this year. This is especially difficult because childhood friends’ parents have more of an indelible mark on your life than current friends’ parents, due to the fact you remember eating at their houses, seeing them at outings, watching them drive you around. It’s a different relationship.

Gentleman Jack Logo on the Andrew Mellon Auditorium Ceiling

For my lone outing I attended the Gentleman Jack’s Art, Beats + Lyrics. I typically never wait in line, outside for anything. Even, Black Friday (post forthcoming), I just arrive right before doors open and just glide in. So this event tested my patience. I arrived not at the start, 7p, because I heard the lines are long and figured that arriving later would allow for the line to die down. This was remarkably untrue. I began to lose my patience after about 30 minutes of waiting in the cold and my lack of knowing anyone important enough to let me cut the line. However, I discovered that friends were slightly ahead of me and got an impressive 30-40 people jump, which isn’t worth telling. The event was a mix of art, music and drinks. Free drinks have an amazing ability to go quickly. Upon entering, we immediately entered the drink line, where we received the last of the last of the specialty cocktails. Good thing for that 30 person jump.
The first act was Mansions on the Moon. A casual onlooker remarked that they sounded a bit like U2. I could hear that slightly. They had a rhythmic guitar sound that is reminiscent of the Irish band. It made for great background music to view the art on display. Next, was Shock G of Digital Underground, the fun hip hop group from the 90’s, which sadly is best known for launching Tupac. He prompted a contest amongst my friends to name all of the Digital Underground songs that we could. Boy, was that a sad output. He could actually play an instrument, which impressed me more than his attempts to get people to jump up and down. People waited in line too long in the cold for this to actually happen, maybe if it was a beach concert. He did more songs than we remembered as we forgot Kiss You Back, which is shocking (no pun intended) because I owned that song in high school, back when you could buy singles on cassette for .99 cents, pre-iTunes.
Finally, we were treated to Scarface, whose songs I definitely remembered. He came out playing the guitar!!! This was awesome. Then he sang some Led Zeppelin, thanks Twitter as I don’t know 70’s rock music at all. It really is a black hole of my music knowledge. This was not as awesome. I became concerned that since this was a free event we would be treated to those weird artistic shows that Billy remarked on in Purple Rain that only satisfy the artist. However, Scarface said that he was just bullshitting and moved on to the hip hop he was famous for.

As for the art, it wasn’t my taste. It verged a bit on the kind of artwork you see on t-shirts at festivals and fairs. However, I love faces and these items were my favorites. I thought Mansions on the Moon made a better backdrop for perusing arts, as Shock G and Scarface took attention away from the exhibits, the make your own art installation and the not sure if it was ironic opportunity to take a group picture (the kind you saw in clubs in the 90’s and that my college crew refused to take). Meanies! Now, I have absolutely nothing capturing that part of my life.

I might go again if I can find the will to stand in line again. However, it was free, which means more money for next week. Yay!

Veterans Day Weekend

On 10 November, I attended Liner Notes, courtesy of a wonderful deal through my usual channel for inexpensive events: Goldstar. I am quite broke this month and challenged myself to only spend $50 a week on outings. This may seem easy for many, but proves difficult for me. My problem stemmed from the fact that I purchased a $43 ticket to see Mint Condition. As an aside, I really need to make at least a small effort to go to the box office of concert venues while I am already out because the ticket fees were 43% of the cost of the actual ticket. Then I took one of my best buds who was only in town for a night to birthday drinks.

Amazingly, this dropped me to a remaining $30 for each of the next three weeks. Here’s how I spend my second weekend in November (first on a $30 budget): I went to an Afro-Brazilian dance class for $12. I thoroughly enjoyed my first class, though I had to leave early because I was improperly (i.e. in the grocery store parking lot) parked. I wasn’t particularly good. The instructor only showed the class the move once and then I had to rely on wiggly White girls in front of me to remind me of what it looked like, which I feel wasn’t the best exemplar. Who are we Alvin Ailey members? If we could get a dance on the first try then we wouldn’t need this class, would we? D.C. has the coolest classes to get more interesting exercise but honestly parking precludes my attending most because paying to park is equal or more to the cost of the class, which blows the budget.

Then, I attended the aforementioned Liner Notes for $10.50 with fees. I will admit that I did not know what to expect as the description on Goldstar didn’t give much and shockingly, the theater’s website didn’t link properly to the production company’s site.

Pic from the B-Fly Entertainment website

The event was a celebration of music, connecting original songs through a live full band—bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, horn, vocals—to hip hop songs that sample the content with lyricists under the theme of “Family”. In fact, there were generations present throughout the night with men playing alongside sons, daughters and grandchildren.

I am quite knowledgeable of 70’s era music because my mother has an extensive music collection. It is ridiculous actually. People tried to convince her for years to sell it and she refuses. Being defiant about every damn thing including small items, like “turn right here”, she sabotaged potential sales by discarding all of the album covers. She knew this ruined all resale value. However, this collection means that I can usually identify most samples of hip hop songs easily, not that this is a marketable talent. The event started with Sly and the Family Stone. I actually remembered “Sing a Simple Song” from the recesses of my childhood though I should really go back and re-listen to this stuff. However, I couldn’t remember what hip hop song could have sampled it and then the ending. Yes, the “Ahhs” and pow, “Mama Said Knock You Out”. I was extremely excited to learn new “originals”. I didn’t know the origin of the “They Reminisce Over You” sample at all and it’s a really beautiful song. I had a ball for many reasons. I got to sing and dance. I love singing along to anything, even Garth Brooks songs I remember my high school classmates playing ad nauseum. Plus, I had an opportunity to do something that I have been doing for years inside my head anyway—bridge the gap between the music my mother adored and the hip hop that defined my generation. Great event.

I capped off my holiday weekend, forgetting my migraine jamming to the Chuck Brown band and the band of my generation, Mint Condition. I really could listen to “Nothing More to Say” live over and over again forever.