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)
December 8, 2016 | Categories: Interviews, Showout, Tourlife, Uncategorized | Tags: AfroNative, Afropolitan, AltCountry, banjo, biracial, Black, BlackAtlantic, BlackHistory, bluegrass, BrokenArrow, BuffaloSpringfield, CarolinaChocolateDrops, Country, Country Music, CountryandWestern, CountryGirls, CountryGirlsDoItBetter, countrysinger, DannyBarkerBanjoFestival, DannyClinch, DetroitBrooksSr, DonaldHarrison, EbonyHillbillies, EllisHaizlip, folk, FolkMusic, Folksingers, French, galleries, Georgia, GloriaGassaway, grassrootsartists, Haiti, Harlem, HarlemHoedown, HenryDiltz, JoelBernstein, Kandia Crazy Horse, KaneBrown, KimberlyRobison, Kreyol, LaurentDubois, LeylaMcCalla, ModernSoundsInCountryAndWesternMusic, MorrisonHotelGallery, mountainmusic, MumfordAndSons, Music, NeilYoung, NewOrleans, News, NoDAPL, NorthCarolina, OldCrowMedicineShow, OldTimey, outlaw country, photography, podcast, prewarstringbandmusic, RisingSons, SchomburgCenter, singersongwriter, Songbird, Soul, South, SouthCarolina, southernbelles, StandingInSolidarityWithStandingRock, swirl, TajMahal, Television, TheAvettBrothers, TheBanjoAmericasAfricanInstrument, Tsalagi, Twang, WeAreStillHere, westerns | Leave a comment
Last night in Harlem, I attended the Democracy Now 20th anniversary celebration @ Riverside Church – by the grace & generosity of my filmmaker friend Jonathan (his footage from the past long weekend @ Standing Rock may be on the Tavis Smiley show tonight on PBS). This photograph is from just after I sang “This Land Is Your Land” in the nave @ Riverside with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine). They’d been spinning Woody Guthrie before the event & I reckon a Steve Earle version of the tune. I had been musing deeply on Woody, Pete Seeger, Madiba, my honorary uncle Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)’s funeral in the same space & that MLK Jr denounced the Vietnam War from that pulpit. Singing in this sanctified Harlem space by the Hudson riverside got me fired up for next week’s rebel music program @ Decolonize #AllPowerToThePeople #CactusRose #KandiaCrazyHorse #artist #activist #indigenousrevolutionary #DemocracyNow20 #SingOut!!!
( Tom Morello by Kandia Crazy Horse )
Another photo from “Celebrate 20 Years of Democracy Now!” that Gina Belafonte sent me during the event. Although they knew each other previously, this was the first time Noam Chomsky & Harry Belafonte shared a platform according to him. What I loved best about Uncle Harry’s portion: he referred to Standing Rock & remade the call to Obama — as per my own wish throughout Walking Eagle’s presidency — to pardon Leonard Peltier. Accompanied by Democracy Now‘s footage @ Standing Rock & other indigenous resistance actions including those of Idle No More, I felt good to have our issues addressed on the date of the camps’ eviction (5 December). This discussion with the icons plus show hosts Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez occurred right before Patti Smith took the stage with a guitarist & her daughter Jesse on piano (a generational sonic nurturing I was glad to bear witness to as a female singer-songwriter & activist) to sing a forceful rendition of “People Got The Power” to a standing ovation.
( Noam Chomsky & Harry Belafonte sharing a platform for the first time – Democracy Now 20 @ Riverside Church in Harlem, by Gina Belafonte )
I am grateful I got to attend the event, be inspired by the speakers including Danny Glover & Danny DeVito, and, impromptu, be invited to sing a song for the people by one of our most hallowed American artist-activist icons, Woody Guthrie. Still musing on the takeaway from this celebration & will be sure to express it at my own protest music conversation/concert next week in Manhattan. Please join us in TriBeCa on the evening of 12/12 – We The People have many more reasons now in the Americas to #SingOut!!!
( Kandia Crazy Horse, singer/songwriter/indigenous activist of Cactus Rose, Native Americana / country music band, @ Riverside Church in Manhattan, after Democracy Now 20 )
December 7, 2016 | Categories: Live, Showout, Tourlife, Uncategorized | Tags: AfroNative, AmyGoodman, CactusRoseBand, Country Music, CountryandWestern, CountryGirlsDoItBetter, countryrock, countrysinger, Dakota Access Pipeline, DakotaAccessPipelineResistance, DannyGlover, DefendTheSacred, DemocracyNow, EnvironmentalCauses, femaleartists, FemaleRockCritics, femalesingersongwriters, FolkMusic, Folksingers, Harlem, HarryBelafonte, Icons, IdleNoMore, IndependentArtists, IndependentJournalism, Indigenous, IStandWithStandingRock, JonathanDemme, JuanGonzalez, Kandia Crazy Horse, KwameTure, Legends, LeonardPeltier, LoveWaterNotOil, Madiba, MartinLutherKingJr, MniWiconi, Music, NativeAmerican, NativeAmericana, NativeLivesMatter, News, NoAIM, NoamChomsky, NoDAPL, NYC2StandingRock, NYStandsWithStandingRock, PattiSmith, PattiSmithGroup, PaulRobeson, PeteSeeger, ProgressiveMedia, ProtestMusic, RageAgainstTheMachine, RezpectOurWater, RiversideChurch, rockcritics, singersongwriter, StandingInSolidarityWithStandingRock, StandingRockSiouxTribe, Television, TheFutureIsFemale, TomMorello, VietnamWar, WaterProtectors, WoodyGuthrie | Leave a comment
Last night, I received Supermoon Medicine & then journeyed to the television station of Bronxnet to serve as a guest artist-activist on Fierce-Truthseeker’s (Tsalagi) show The Red Road East, which covers art, entertainment & political issues of Indian Country. As you may recall, I was the guest on the first-ever episode of the program & was happy to be asked back again — specifically for Native American Heritage Month — to speak on the Standing Rock & Split Rock resistance movement in the NYC / Northeast area, what actions we have done & plan for the future & promote the upcoming Standing Rock benefits I will be doing here: on 25 November @ Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn & the weekend of 16 December on Manhattan’s Upper East Side @ Ibex Puppetry. Additionally, I will be doing an artists & activism program on the current state of protest music, back at Decolonize This Place in TriBeCa on 12 December, with my Native Americana / Cosmic Country band Cactus Rose & special guest Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets. Stay tuned / follow me on Instagram for posters, ticket links & updates on these events.
When The Red Road East airs, will share the footage here for y’all outside the local NYC network. The Standing Rock benefits of Neil Young, Jackson Browne & Dave Matthews have gotten a lot more notice than the efforts of our grassroots collective of activists & generally, it’s difficult to get the media to pay attention to the creation of independent musicians without multi-million dollar teams behind them. Yet we are trying hard with very few resources to contribute to the cause with an all-female artists lineup Standing Rock benefit – the one slated for mid-December — to remind people that, despite the election outcome, #TheFutureIsFemale …So we thank you heartily for your support & for coming through to the concerts. I am a mite weary, but enjoying #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth to the fullest! A’ho*
( Kandia Crazy Horse @ Bronxnet studios, before the live taping on “The Red Road East” )
( Kandia Crazy Horse of Cactus Rose & Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets @ Bronxnet, after the taping of “The Red Road East” #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth x #BlackPower50 #indigenousfutures #IStandWithStandingRock )
(The set / studio of “The Red Road East” hosted by Fierce-Truthseeker #Tsalagi #Cherokee)
“Those who damage Mother Earth, damage us all / Forgive them / They don’t yet see”
– Neil Young
November 15, 2016 | Categories: Airplay, Interviews, Live, Red Road, Showout, Uncategorized | Tags: AbiodunOyewole, Activism, AfroNative, AlgonquinPipeline, Americana, AmericanHistory, Ancestors, Artists, artivist, Benefit, Black, BlackArtsMovement, BlackHistory, BlackPower50, BlackSnakeKillas, blackwomenartists, Bronxnet, Brooklyn, BrooklynCountry, Cherokee, Dakota Access Pipeline, DakotaAccessPipelineResistance, DecolonizeThisPlace, femaleartists, FierceTruthseeker, FreedomSongs, grassrootsartists, IbexPuppetry, Icons, IndependentArtists, IndianPoint, Indigenous, IStandWithStandingRock, JalopyTheater, Kandia Crazy Horse, MichaelLizzmoreJr, Music, native, NativeAmerican, NativeAmericana, NativeAmericanHeritageMonth, NativeLivesMatter, NeilYoung, News, NoAIM, NoDAPL, NorthDakota, NYC, poetry, Protect The Sacred, ProtestMusic, rap, SplitRock, spokenword, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, StopSpectra, Supermoon, Television, TheFutureIsFemale, TheLastPoets, TheRedRoadEast, Tsalagi | Leave a comment