We are excited to play this year’s Brooklyn Americana Festival on Saturday, September 23rd @ 7pm @ the 68 Jay Street Bar. Our friend Alex Battles is also in the lineup so looking forward to a fine night out of twang. Come & catch us there! – A’ho*
Another Country / Have a good summer!
Howdy y’all…we’re still glowing from performing at the first annual Another Country twang festival in Brooklyn. It was a day full of alternative country acts unknown to us & we had a lot of fun discovering new music before our headlining set in the evening. Here’s some press below that gave us a fine mention:
CACTUS ROSE cited in the Village Voice
Kandia Crazy Horse cited as an influence upon Another Country festival founders Karen & the Sorrows (includes playlist)
For the rest of this month you can catch us at some local powwows but no more shows for a spell as we enjoy a much needed summer break. Hope you are enjoying the best the hot season has to offer! – A’ho*
Cactus Rose live dates upcoming for June & July
We are looking forward to the 15th annual Drums Along The Hudson powwow — after a jaunt down South Dixie-way — & then gearing up to play some shows around the 5 boroughs. Come on out & catch us when you can! A’ho*
(Jeff McLaughlin – Guitar for Cactus Rose)
(Ben Killen – Banjo for Cactus Rose)
(Kandia Crazy Horse – Vocals & twang concepts for Cactus Rose)
June 10: Art In The Garden @ RING Garden, Inwood, Manhattan @ 5:20pm
June 21: #MakeMusicNY – 2 sets: UGC Eats on Park Avenue @ 1:30pm & Morris-Jumel Mansion, 64 Jumel Terrace, 6:15pm
July 2: Another Country festival @ Littlefield, Brooklyn (doors 2pm, $10-20)
Cactus Rose to perform @ 20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull in September 2017
We of Cactus Rose are big, lifelong fans of the father of Cosmic American Music Gram Parsons & honored to finally be paying him homage in sound. Come the end of September, we are heading down to Gram’s hometown of Waycross, Georgia, to perform in the 20th year of the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull & Tribute Festival, with headliners including the great Kentucky Headhunters (who I wrote a seminal Village Voice review about back in the day); & we are very pleased to have special guests joining us: Stanley Booth & Lauren Barth. Take a gander at the purty poster that’s circulating & prepare to come join us down Georgia way when we shall be singing a set that combines Cactus Rose originals & select Gram Parsons classics – A’ho!
Spring Has Sprung!
Well, in our NYC weather finally crept above 70-degrees this week so we found ourselves out in living color (pictured above) having big fun upon The Highline in Chelsea. We of Cactus Rose are getting ready to play a private event for our elders at SAGE Harlem at the end of April & gearing up for some festival dates soon come! For my part, powwow season starts here next weekend in Harlem, followed by my attendance at a slew of indigenous women’s events for the environment starting with Winona LaDuke’s talk at NYU and the march at the United Nations on the 26th. Getting some new regalia ready and meeting lots of new friends that I am welcoming into our local Native circle — looks like it’s going to be a great season! I look forward to seeing y’all out and about – A’ho*
March 4th For Standing Rock NYC
Some scenes from yesterday’s march through Midtown Manhattan in support of Standing Rock. I spoke in front of the main branch of the NYPL on Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street about multiple pipelines afflicting Turtle Island, the Ramapough Lunaape Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp & the role of my fellow musicians in this resistance. I was also later interviewed by BuzzFeed on the approach to Columbus Circle. Video to follow. Despite the cold, we had a pretty good turnout & the freewheelin’ jazz band held us down, dancing at the rear of the column. ‘Twas another great day to be indigenous & help spread awareness – A’ho*
(All photographs by Kandia Crazy Horse unless indicated)
(Eagle Woman o’er my right shoulder & Kandia Crazy Horse w/ her handmade sign @ NYPL Fifth Avenue & 42nd St before the speakers & march)
Throwback Thursday: Emergency Rally for Standing Rock NYC 2/22/2 #mniwiconi #NoDAPL
The forced removal of Indigenous people from our own land (although we don’t have the sense of ownership of Turtle Island that the dominant culture does…) at #StandingRock is part of a time-worn historical continuum of violence that this country operates on. A trail of broken treaties ghosted yesterday’s actions in North Dakota, the water protectors camps engulfed in flames as per this Time footage
( Kandia Crazy Horse @ Emergency Rally for Standing Rock @ Union Square (yesterday) in NYC, by Zapotec photographer & artist Javier Soriano from Puebla, Mexico )
Last night on Wednesday, February 22, I joined a group of water protectors gathered in Union Square to stand in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock, as we had been alerted via digital smoke signals to the 2pm deadline for forcible eviction. Yesterday, the remaining core of water protectors were evicted from the camps — including Oceti Sakowin — near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. It was also an occasion to enjoy some of the unprecedented pan-indigenous unity we’ve been experiencing, including Zapotec brothers from Puebla in Mexico to queer Pinoy activists holding forth about the conflict in Mindanao in the Philippines. I & a Lakota brother from Red Warrior Camp are both affiliated with Split Rock prayer camp in NJ & spoke to that at the rally to encourage our local tri-state sisters & brothers to engage with the fight against our own black snakes afflicting the Hudson River and surrounding areas — the resistance is not over yet, upon any part of Turtle Island. As one of the youngest speakers at the rally, Abby, mentioned, many of us come from so-called minority populations & indigenous communities disproportionately affected by environmental racism, and we cannot let it stand – A’ho*
A reminder: “The Oceti Sakowin Camp: a first of its kind historic gathering of Indigenous Nations. The most recent such assembly of Tribes occurred when the Great Sioux Nation gathered before the Battle at the Little Big Horn.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe supports the peaceful and prayerful message of the Oceti Sakowin leaders. The on-reservation camp allowed the tribe to explore longer term ways to meet the needs of the community that is 100% off-the-grid and features Solar & Wind power generation.”
See some of the photographs that Brotha Javier took of the rally here:
Cactus Rose @ Branded Saloon, Brooklyn 2/17 – Black Hillbilly live for Black History Month
Join us of Cactus Rose band for our first show of 2017 this Friday night! We are celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth with our own cosmic twang contribution to the #BlackHillbilly tradition & looking forward to reaching out farther with this advocacy into the national & international music scene during this year. Follow us on Instagram: @cactusroselovesyou
#CactusRose live @ Branded Saloon
603 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY
More info/directions: brandedsaloon.com
( Black stringband in 1900)
Black History Month 2017: Drum & Spear – from DC to Dar-es-Salaam
Kicking off #BlackHistoryMonth with this remembrance of Drum & Spear bookstore+press, co-founded & run by my parents in Washington, DC (with an outpost in Tanzania) along with their dear #SNCC veteran / Civil Rights Movement friends of Afro-American Resources, Inc. — including our cited neighbors of Adams-Morgan & Mt. Pleasant, writer/journalist Uncle Charlie (Cobb) & my girlhood idol in black boho Judy Richardson. This article below by a Maryland scholar interested in activist entrepreneurial projects of the Long Sixties traces their beginnings in that august revolutionary year of 1968. From DC to Dar-es-Salaam, they did great thangs that have continued to have a big influence on me as I navigate creative & activist spaces; I am very proud of their achievements — especially with my dear mother now gone to the Spirit World. Someday, I shall still replicate what I grew up dreaming about Drum & Spear as a creative entrepreneur in my own right…
Yours In Struggle, K* #DaughterOfTheDream #BlackPower50
READ: DRUM & SPEAR vanguard black bookstore & press of the 1960s-70s
A shoutout from California Coastopia from one of the Drum & Spear Circle, Daphne Muse (via my twin sister’s Facebook): So proud to have served as a manager of Drum and Spear and serve an incredible community of people throughout DC, across the country and around the world. I worked with an intellectually fierce group of people including Charlie Cobb, Courtland Cox, Juadine Henderson, Jennifer Lawson, Judy Richardson, Ralph Featherstone, Joe Gross, Freddie Biddle, Don Brown, Williard Taylor. Anne Holloway, Marvin Holloway and Mimi Shaw Hayes were the driving forces behind the parent company AAR and Drum and Spear Press. All, so committed to LIBERATION.
I Still Stand With Standing Rock #NoDAPL
There may be a new administration in Washington & they are obviously in cahoots with the corporations behind the #KeystoneXL & the #DakotaAccessPipeline — but we of Indian Country & our allies are still determined to stop all black snakes from afflicting Turtle Island. I have received communication from LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of Sacred Stone Camp & others to come stand with our precious water protectors @ Standing Rock — or to organize actions locally to support them. I am pondering the latter with my fellow Afro-Native bandmate of Cactus Rose & some of my Tri-State Native Circle. We all must do our part, when they are raiding camps & dishonoring rights. We cannot let this stand. And I shall still be acting in support of the Ramapough Lunaape @ Split Rock with their efforts to #StopSpectra here in NY/NJ/CT. See you on the frontlines! A’ho*
Kandia Crazy Horse x Prince x Stevie Nicks @ BlackStar Rising & the Purple Reign 1/26
Dearly Beloved, I hope you shall join us this week @ Yale University in New Haven for the Prince – David Bowie conference: BlackStar Rising & The Purple Reign
In the lead-in to the Solange (Knowles) keynote address, I shall be holding forth on Mystical Prince, the Afro-Native spirit of his jazz belle mother Mattie & his Muses including my key sonic foremother Stevie Nicks (of course, Stevie & Prince collaborated on “Stand Back” & among other thangs, Prince clearly derived some of his famous style from Stevie’s bespoke sartorial aesthetic). Rather than due to Prince’s most adored blackface-wearing, jazz fusioneer heroine Joni Mitchell (who transformed from Saskatoon prairie flower trilling songbird into a black pimp who punked the Asylum gang royalty of LA with her own alter-ego Art Nouveau), I am a latter-day Lady of the Canyon because of my heroine Stevie Nicks — & a select elite of cult favorite canyon muses including Wendy Waldman, Essra Mohawk, Claudia Lennear & Judee Sill; they are all collectively the Muses behind songs of mine such as “Quartz Hill,” “Cowgirls,””Songcatcher,” & “Rare Bird” (& yes, my sophomore album was titled Canyons). As a sonic & spiritual acolyte-turned-Adept of Queen California’s Electric Eden (who possesses the Source Family lineage name Songbird Aquarian), I am looking forward to being purified anew in the purple-hued waters of Lake Minnetonka.
Flashback Friday: Kandia Crazy Horse x Jonathan Demme @ Saddle Up Saturdays
The Myth of the (Black) West: Jonathan Demme & I screening/discussing “Run Of The Arrow” & its director Samuel Fuller, the African & Native presence in the genre of westerns, the Civil War, the New South, Going Native, the legacies of frontier fakery extended to current “Mountain Men” type “reality” television & western individuals like Rachel Dolezal (who most forget forged a “Little Tipi-on-the-Prairie” narrative prior to deciding to become a black woman) + more last weekend in Pleasantville, NY @ the Jacob Burns Film Center. I was honored to partake in the first post-screening program & hope to perhaps return to delve into acid westerns before the end of the series.
(photos courtesy of Jacob Burns Film Center)
#SaddleUpSaturdays #HarlemOnThePrairie #FlashbackFriday
Reflecting on the West & complex visions of America at this inauguration time, while a coalition of black & indigenous activists are massing elsewhere in my Uptown NYC area @ the Harriet Tubman monument. Perhaps fittingly, I am featured today on Swirl Nation, a blog focused on multiracial & multiethnic lives in this land: Kandia Crazy Horse on SwirlNation
With what’s goin’ down on the social & political scenes, I also reflect on my past as a professional journalist & mourn the New Year loss of two of my former colleagues @ NYC’s once-bohemian, alternative newsweekly The Village Voice. I just learned of reporter Wayne Barrett’s (a notable Donald Trump chronicler) passing this afternoon & have still been trying to reckon with the legacy of Nat Hentoff as a famed jazz critic who partly inspired my joining the field of rock criticism. We shall be missing such voices in the media even more during the new presidency in America. May Nat & Wayne rest in peace. – A’ho*
Jazz Critic / my former Village Voice colleague Nat Hentoff
NYT on my former Village Voice newsroom colleague Wayne Barrett
Kandia Crazy Horse x Prince x David Bowie @ BlackStar Rising & The Purple Reign
Hope y’all enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday; I spent mine meditating on the post-60s emanations of The Dream — as well as its limits as manifest in the oeuvres of Black Atlantic & Heartland rockstars David Bowie & Prince. I am finally at liberty to invite y’all to join us in New Haven @ the end of the month for the “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign” rock conference. Courtesy of an invite from my longtime dear friend of the Black Rock scene, former Princeton professor turned Yale scholar Dr. Daphne Brooks, I shall be presenting on Prince & activism @ Yale University; my evening program on 25 January also features Solange (Knowles) as keynote speaker & former SPIN magazine editor Alan Light.
The program also includes Sheila E., Kimbra, Questlove & others + a closing concert by TV On The Radio. More info & registration instructions linked: KANDIA CRAZY HORSE presentation @ YALE UNIVERSITY for Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign 1/25
Looking forward to my rebirth in the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka: HARTFORD COURANT on BLACKSTAR RISING & THE PURPLE REIGN
HAPPY NEW YEAR & #NoDAPL 2017!
Happy New Year, y’all & best wishes as the seasons unfold. I hope you had a grand ole holiday time; for my part, I finally got some much needed rest & a spell to rotate some albums of 2016 — especially country releases — that I never got to hear during the course of last year. We of Cactus Rose are taking some time to conjure, connect culturally & write songs during January & then we will be doing two shows on the Brooklyn Country scene in February. I will be making my first live appearances of 2017 in upstate New York & in Connecticut — the latter being a major event I am not yet at liberty to share details about. Stay tuned to this page &
…In the meanwhile: hope can rope yer hearts to join Jonathan Demme & myself @ the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY next Saturday for his western movies screening series / live event “Saddle Up Saturdays.” I will serve as the guest artist / interlocutor for the presentation of Dixie lore & Lakota-themed Run Of The Arrow starring Rod Steiger, Brian Keith & Charles Bronson — followed by a discussion + Q&A. The screening will be preceded by Jonathan’s Standing Rock documentary: Protection Not Protest: The People of Standing Rock
Neither I nor my fellow bandmates in Cactus Rose, Jeff & Kimberly/KAR, have forgotten about Standing Rock or Split Rock, despite the switch in focus to Aleppo or the trend hoppers moving on to the next new thing; and we remain committed to helping stop all the black snakes threatening Turtle Island. So this event will be a good opportunity to come and hear about the Split Rock actions & other causes of Indian Country as well as how it was for me to grow up Indian loving the western genre & cowboy music in the Vietnam Era when antiheroes dominated horse operas while there was a revival of Native American consciousness in the real world beyond celluloid. A’ho*
Tix & more information available here: RUN OF THE ARROW w/ KANDIA CRAZY HORSE 1/14 @ noon JACOB BURNS FILM CENTER
Throwback Thursday: Kandia Crazy Horse’s top albums of 2016 x Other Music NYC
I have been mostly focused on the Red Road > powwow highway > doing activism on behalf of Indian Country especially for Standing Rock / #NoDAPL during 2016. Yet once I was a rock journalist & music editor in a previous life, and I perpetually remain a vinyl collector & music fanatic. Amongst the many losses to the music world this year was my dear folks’ seminal record store in the NoHo section of downtown NYC: Other Music. I bought my last hauls of records there back in the spring/summer & we feted their existence with a great parade down the Bowery, followed by a concert @ Bowery Ballroom starring Yoko Ono & many other artists. So it’s now bittersweet to be closing out the year by voting for my most memorable recordings of 2016 in company with the OM fam — here’s my list:
KANDIA CRAZY HORSE 2016 ALBUMS (I will shortly be submitting ballots for the Village Voice Pazz+Jop in Manhattan & the Nashville Scene country music critics poll for Nashville, TN as well…)
& the other Other Music staff + fellow update contributors’ choices can be read HEREIN
& some scenes from the closing of Other Music…A’ho*
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Other Music staffer / WFMU DJ / Bim Marx producer Duane Harriott inside Other Music’s East 4th St store on the final day of operations )
( The last 2 physical copies of my debut album Stampede for sale @ Other Music NYC )
( Other Music co-owner Josh Madell & I outside the Bowery Ballroom on Delancey Street, after the parade / before the farewell concert started )
( Other Music staffer / bandleader of Chouette Amanda Colbenson & I outside the Bowery Ballroom after the OM parade down the Bowery, NYC )
( The banner that used to hang above the entrance @ Other Music on East 4th Street, NYC )
“Manhattan Given Back To Indians…” & Benny Andrews’ Bicentennial Blues & Frohawk Two Feathers’ Frenglish New York
Given that I was out all day yesterday — primarily attending an uptown art salon in Lower Harlem, where I sang — I completely missed this odd bit of NYC local news: MANHATTAN GIVEN BACK TO INDIANS (well at least a part of it)
Although I have some close ties with the Ramapough Lunaape and am acquainted with Chief Dwaine Perry, I have not to my knowledge crossed paths with the New York Post article’s cited chief Anthony Jay Van Dunk nor have I met the cited son of artist Louise Bourgeois — I have been a fleeting fan of hers due to her longevity/continuing to create but expertise on her life & oeuvre lies with my twin sister, the art historian — Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois. I don’t know quite what to make of this transaction, but if the ultimate result is a patahmaniikan (prayer house) then fine. I did not get to participate in the Ramapough winter ceremony this past Saturday out @ Split Rock, for it was cancelled due to snow/inclement weather; so I have not heard any direct commentary from the Source, as it were.
The article says Bourgeois fils has been a Standing Rock benefactor, yet I was more interested to learn of other Natives’ participation in the Occupy Movement for in all the months I was involved in it, particularly Occupy Music, I never met any. Now, if only this M. Bourgeois would get behind the fight to establish Indigenous Peoples Day in NYC. Overall, it was just a little odd piece of news to be sent to me by other Urban Native friends, at the end of the year when Standing Rock has become such a Hollywood trendy Cause (Elvis’ grand baby appearing at hyped LA benefits) & indigenous chic itself has been atomizing err’where — especially on the backs of musical artists with no Native roots including hip-hop ones & judges of The Voice like Alicia Keys — but I am still encountering folks who never heard of what’s going on with the Dakota Access Pipeline (or any other of this land’s black snakes). It’s weird to be revisiting the apocryphal sale of Manhattan by the Lenape to the Dutch, even as our Tri-State news is dominated by news of president-elect Trump’s vast real estate holdings here, the need to barricade Trump Tower in Midtown, and the ongoing discussion of the City as Trump’s fiefdom. I hope the Ramapough do not get targeted by limousine liberals, due to their local residence. Meantime, instead of hashtagging activism, focus & funds need to be directed to the many Native protectors of Standing Rock who are now facing felonies / about to have their cases trafficked through the courts in North Dakota — and there’s inadequate legal representation for most. Some of us staying woke despite the narcotic of holiday cheer.
(Chief Van Dunk, Ramapough, & art patron/architectural historian Bourgeois via New York Post)
Anyroad, I believe this story jumped out at me due to a long conversation about Native American roots out of the Mid-Atlantic and “outsider art” creation we had on Friday afternoon in Chelsea, on the verge of a gallery crawl through the ‘hood to see Titus Kaphar’s opening @ Jack Shainman & the great Bicentennial Series show of one of my favorite painters/fellow Georgian Benny Andrews @ Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. Some strange confluence out of the dialogue and Early Colonial (Kaphar) plus Bicentennial/Jim Crow reflection (Andrews) stirred things up…& made me recall the peculiar but beautiful work of Frohawk Two Feathers who was de vogue a few years back, with prominent Chelsea gallery representation & who I have never met but this particular project is extremely similar to my inner imaginorium/worldview – although he is younger than I, born (interestingly) in the year of the American Bicentennial, 1976: Heartbreaking and shit, but that’s the globe. The Battle of Manhattan
(By Frohawk Two Feathers)
Chicago-born, LA-based Frohawk Two Feathers is the alias of Afro-Native artist Umar Rashid (who also does vanguard and alt-hip-hop music under the monikers Kent Cyclone & Tha Grimm Teachaz); and the 2014 culmination of a series of his work blending Afrofuturism and fact / fiction of early settler colonialism in the Americas caught my notice for decades prior to my arrival in New York City — in part due to my Native American great aunt Helena’s residence in Harlem since the 1930s — I had been an (alternative) history buff preoccupied with the lore of the Ramapough, Jacks-and-Whites / other isolates of the area; the apocryphal sale of Manahata and the Algonquin villages of the landmass; and the religious/occult traditions arising from the upstate Burned-Over District. [Which also drew my interest to the now-defunct Sundance network show The Red Road, which focused on Ramapough, starring half-Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa who claims Native American & for which my cousin’s wife Marcey Tree-In-The-Wind served as a consultant.] Two Feathers’ work seemed to at least gloss similar concerns:
“Bonnie Prince Johnnie, flamboyant pharaoh of New York; Francesca, a.k.a. Tisiphone, Native American assassin; Maurits de Wolff, former slave and soldier extraordinaire; Akosua Van Der Zee, wrathful feminist and malicious schemer.
These are a few of the characters in a wildly original telling of the fictional Battle of Yonkers in 18th-century New York; their portraits and those of other tattooed warriors, misled rulers and vengeful women…
…[final] installment of “The American Proteus: An Invocation and the Wars Between the Rivers,” an alternative account of the colonization of northeastern North America that is both written and visual in form, epic in scope, and built around the imaginary Republic of Frengland (a combination of England, France and Ireland).”
There were paintings that were meta portraits or sometimes reminiscent of historical battles depicted on deerskins or echoing ledger art, mixed with art forms of ancient KMT & tipis on display as well. They were somewhat unnerving, for it was like an unknown Spirit had excavated my interior landscape & reproduced it for all eyes to see. And I will leave it at that for now, for there’s far more concerning this work that I wish to explore…A’ho*
(By Frohawk Two Feathers)
@ Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in the territory of the Ramapough Lunaape
Although Standing Rock has most captured the souls & minds of Indian Country during 2016, there are many black snakes afflicting Turtle Island — & I have been standing in solidarity with the Ramapough Lunaape water protectors of the Split Rock prayer camp in New Jersey that are trying to stop the Algonquin Pipeline project threatening the Hudson River & the surrounding lands of the Tri-State & New England. I & my band Cactus Rose have pledged to Ramapough Chief Dwaine Perry to be of support to Split Rock, as they hold the space & unite with other allied environmental and social justice groups of the region to stop this black snake. The news that Red Warrior Camp is leaving Standing Rock & withdrawing from the #NoDAPL fight there, even as they turn their energy & focus to other frontlines of Indian Country, has underscored the need for all of us pan-indigenous united folks to tend to the issues in our own backyards/home locales. Here’s some images from my visit to Split Rock this past weekend; all photos by me, except the 2 where I am pictured – by Hugo Kenzo
I will be addressing this activism tonight at my conversation/concert on protest music & activism @ Decolonize This Place in TriBeCa. Looking forward! A’ho*
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Jonathan Demme @ Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in the land of the Ramapough Lunaape, NJ – by Japanese-Brazilian filmmaker Hugo Kenzo )
( The donations for the Ramapough Lunaape of the camp from me/my band Cactus Rose, @ my flat before the trip )
( #DefendTheSacred in the tents @ Split Rock prayer camp )
( Kandia Crazy Horse, water protector & Indian Country activist, @ Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in NJ – by Hugo Kenzo )
Throwback Thursday: Kandia Crazy Horse & Black Banjo @ the Schomburg Center NYPL
Many moons ago, I worked at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture of the New York Public Library system — in the last days of the tenure there of my hometown hero Ellis Haizlip, onetime host of the best television show ever: SOUL! I was seeing Mr. Haizlip’s ghost ’round every corner, strolling around in his typical dashiki & tailored slacks, last night @ the Schomburg even before his name was invoked by an elder audience member after the Black Banjo event we were in attendance at the Langston Hughes Auditorium: Banjo Stories & Songs From Haiti & New Orleans, featuring my acquaintance Laurent Dubois (a banjo-playing, Belgian-American scholar from Duke University; I did a talk with him @ CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown back in the spring for the release of his new Harvard tome: The Banjo – America’s African Instrument) & my new friend Leyla McCalla, the Haitian-American banjoist who resides in New Orleans singing songs in English, French, Kreyol & the lone member of my friends’ band the Carolina Chocolate Drops that I had yet to meet. The cited episode of SOUL! featured Taj Mahal (ex-Rising Sons) doing an entire suite of banjo & ole-timey music, talking about the instrument’s African origins and encouraging youngbloods to take up the instrument; this aired back when I was a babychile and obviously there remains a stark racial & generational divide regarding banjo players when the instrument is trendy primarily amongst white Millennials who adopted it after the release of the Coen Brothers’ pastoral pastiche film O! Brother Where Art Thou? with its peerless ole-timey/Americana soundtrack, and the rise of these bands in the Aughts: Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers (I was one of the first to cover them as a rock/country critic alongside the Carolina Chocolate Drops, as they were emerging from the North Carolina Piedmont), & Old Crow Medicine Show. Nothing against these bands & the untimely passing of Pete Seeger has also played a role – indeed, he looms large in Laurent’s book — but we still have high hopes that young black kids will get hip to the banjo & take up our decades of work in keeping the black twang musical traditions thriving. I was interviewed for Joaquin Cotler’s podcast on these issues after Leyla’s performance, at the Schomburg; I will share it when it airs.
My dear #BlackHillbilly / twang family of the Ebony Hillbillies were also special guests like myself & we were in high cotton, enjoying the themes and music of the program. The Ebony Hillbillies generously performed at the Standing Rock benefit I curated @ Decolonize This Place back at the dawn of October; I look forward to future collaborations with them — and now — also with Sistah Leyla.
The banjo was my favorite instrument even before I knew of its African roots & I still hope to take it up — possibly in 2017, since I have been invited to the Danny Barker banjo festival in New Orleans by the guitarist/banjoist Detroit Brooks Sr. of jazz titan Donald Harrison’s band who does a lot of outreach in his community and beyond to keep black banjo traditions alive. Black artists (& the Afropolitan ones trying to appropriate southern accents and songlines in the UK) in country music are not a novelty nor a trend; whatever the outcome for current youtube sensation Kane Brown, who’s an Afro-Native (Tsalagi)/biracial country singer from rural Georgia in the “bro” mold (Young Kane & I have several thangs in common), we are here to stay. So #SaddleUp!
( Leyla McCalla of New Orleans & Kandia Crazy Horse of Hudson Canyon, Sistahs of Twang, @ Schomburg Center, Harlem NYC )
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Kimberly Robison, Virginia Native American songbirds/activists of Cactus Rose + Gloria Gassaway, Catawba lead vocalist/bones player/activist of the Ebony Hillbillies (from South Carolina) – We southern belles love to gather, do actions for #StandingRock & sing to honor our Ancestors. Miz Gloria almost went out to Standing Rock last week with our heroine Pure Fe of Ulali; we hope to combine our efforts & make a sojourn together soon come – A’ho* )
(Throwback to last Thursday night in SoHo @ Morrison Hotel Gallery for private view of Neil Young: Long May You Run exhibit, featuring photographs by Henry Diltz, Joel Bernstein, Danny Clinch & others. Here I am “waging heavy peace” with Henry’s famed image of my hero Neil & his dog Harte in the barn door of his ranch in California, Broken Arrow (named after my favorite Buffalo Springfield native american-themed tune & a Delmer Daves western from the early 1950s), from the year I was born, NYC)
Standing With Standing Rock #mniwiconi #NoDAPL #defendthesacred
Just returned a bit earlier from my twin Camara’s #blackartandactivismnow event in TriBeCa @ our home away from home #DecolonizeThisPlace — fortunately, my Black Rock Coalition/Bold As Love good friend/compadre Rob Fields was seated by me at the program, sharing the digital smoke signals about the #NoDAPL good news with me during the panel & then, upon returning home, got a ring from my friend Jonathan from the camps @ the frontline in North Dakota giving the confirmation that the easement was not granted to ETA – if they git’er done, Jonathan’s footage will appear on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS Tuesday night. I finally truly believe in the power of prayer, happy to see such a great outcome after many months of organizing, laboring, marching, rallying & of course, singing, in support of #StandingRock.
Yet this is not the end, for we #blacksnakekillers of the Tri-State must be heartened by this result & continue to fight to #StopSpectra #NoAIM #NoAlgonquinPipeline & I remain #standinginsolidaritywithsplitrock >>>>>>>—–))—>♥ Sometimes we on the right side of history can prevail & conscience trumps greed and corruption. Thank you, President Barack H. “Walking Eagle” Obama & the Army Corps for your action!
Overjoyed that we water protectors have won! The Dakota Access Pipeline will be re-routed, which is a hard-won victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe & rest of the Oceti Sakowin. The ordered environmental impact statement will take months to complete, so it’s not all over & done yet. Still, we celebrate this huge victory & I will report back on the gnosis and mood of tomorrow night’s Democracy Now! event held by Harry Belafonte & Danny Glover et al @ Harlem’s Riverside Church – A’ho!
ARMY HALTS CONSTRUCTION OF DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE!