Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Black to the Future!


This is me, displaying what can only be described as a Jack Johnson level of Unforgivable Blackness at the 2012 Baltimore Comic Con.

You're welcome.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Indigenous People's Day!


Please don't make the mistake of thinking that everyone in the Americas celebrates Columbus Day.  America has its hotspots -- there'll be a big parade in New York City and San Francisco likes to celebrate in the streets, thanks to the large Italian-American populace there -- and so does South America but for the most part, acknowledging what this day encompasses means having to embrace the enormity of what Christopher Columbus really did

The 6 million dead because of Hitler is a constant reminder in the media, in movies, in museums and memorials all over the world -- and yet as overwhelming as that loss is, it is dwarfed by the 100 million dead at the hands of Columbus.  The Europeans conquered through disease, not warfare.  Smallpox obliterated the nation.  Smallpox! And that wasn't the only disease, either.  Think of it: at least 90% of the Native American population, gone. In comparison, The Black Plague wiped out 30% to 60% of Europe.

And that's just one of the things Columbus did.

I can't believe Italian-Americans can't come up with another hero to celebrate. What about Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer that disproved Columbus' claim that Brazil and the West Indies were Asian outposts?  South America was initially called America because of him. What about a saint or a priest? San Gennaro, anyone?  Whatever.  With each passing year, throwing that parade up 5th Avenue becomes more and more ridiculous.  Everyone will eventually move on without you.

Actually, everyone is moving on without you.  Seattle and Minneapolis are the latest cities to celebrate Indigenous People's Day, amongst others -- but it should be noted that South Dakota has celebrated Native Americans Day for the past 23 years.  (Freakin' yay.)

So call it what you will --  Dia de la Raza, Native Americans Day, Indigenous Resistance Day or even Indigenous People's Day. But please don't call it Columbus Day.

To touch and review last year's Indigenous People's Day blog post, please click here.

This 1992 poster was created by Seth Tobocman to counter 500th anniversary celebrations of Columbus first arriving in the Americas and to celebrate 500 years of resistance.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My next t-shirt...


I seriously love this -- but where's the black female version? Black women are killed by the police, too.  Doesn't everyone know who Eleanor Bumpurs is? Don't get it twisted. The police shoot black people. Period.  Yes, they shoot black children. And they get away with it.

Get your t-shirt here.  You're welcome.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Happy birthday, John Lennon


John Lennon would have been 74 years old today. Imagine that.

If this song -- from his last album Double Fantasy, released posthumously in 1981 -- doesn't sum up his mindset in the last years of his life, nothing will.



Watching The Wheels

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game,

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time,

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Quote of the Day - on Family

"So much of what is best in us 
is bound up in our love of family, 
that it remains the measure of our stability 
because it measures our sense of loyalty. 
All other pacts of love or fear 
derive from it and are modeled upon it.
                                                 -- Haniel Long

Friday, October 03, 2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Some reviews for my Black Americana album "The Other Side"...



Here are a few review quotes for my self-released Black Americana album The Other Side – available now from your favorite digital retailer, including iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.  I'll keep adding more as they come in. And if you'd like to give the full album a listen, try Spotify or last.fm

"Secrets do have a way of leaking out, and one that desperately needs to be heard is Americana/country/ jazz singer, Queen Esther. Every song is sung with passion and fire, by this underrated female singer who should be a musical giant." -- Country Music People (UK)
"...the most exciting Afro-Americana release of the year.  She sings Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner” (by the Creole songwriter Paul Pena) and original gospel and rockabilly tunes, but the bulk of the album is devoted to hard-country numbers that could have been taken from a Connie Smith or Lee Ann Womack record but were in fact composed by Queen Esther herself. These are ballads and two steps about romantic crises, and the strategic unsteadiness in her glowing voice suggests not the cool self-assurance of an urban sophisticate but the heart-on-a-sleeve transparency of a small-town innocent." -- Paste

"This album is amazing. And very difficult to classify. Can you imagine a black Lucinda Williams? Not like when she plays the blues torn from her first albums, no. A black Lucinda Williams in pop, rhythm, blues and even gender roots Americana. So it sounds, if you can imagine such a hodgepodge somehow, the latest album from this brutal, original, explosive singer." -- Vanity Fair (Spain)

"Our admiration for Queen Esther is almost beyond measure." -- Rootstime (Belgium)

“Queen Esther’s new album The Other Side is unlike anything you’ve heard in recent years…or possibly ever.”  -- Muruch.com

"Queen Esther literally has the voice of an angel." -- Jersey Beat

"In a world where so many artists are carbon copies of one another or rely on technology to hide a lack of talent or originality, Queen Esther comes across like a real lady with real talent who isn't afraid to bare her soul to the world." -- BabySue

“Simple intentions and promises gently take your hand as Queen Esther smiles in the knowledge that ‘sweet dirt can’t hold me’ before she hops aboard Ronny Drayton’s jet fueled guitar lead to arrive in ‘Sunnyland’”Alternate Root

“Queen Esther takes "Jet Airliner" back to its Paul Pena roots and imbues many of her tunes with a Ted Hawkins-meets-Loretta Lynn vibe.”East Side Slim’s Picks

“Queen Esther taps into a new musical genre, "Black Americana" as she mixes together pieces of folk with country, blues, jazz and soul to create some wonderful new sounds.” – JP’s Music Blog
"It’s the melancholy country cuts that Queen Esther excels in. 'I’ve Come Undone Again' is a particular highlight; a splendid slice of melancholy country complete with Hank Williams-esque melody and all. 'Love Is a Wrecking Ball' and 'I Feel Like Going Home' are wrought with emotion and are likely the best tracks here." -- Americana UK

 "Pedal and lap steel guitars, boom-chick rhythms and Atkins/Travis guitar picking dominate this set. Queen Esther's vocals, meanwhile, even at their hardest-rocking, invoke the high-and-lonesome plaintiveness of the honky-tonk/bluegrass/rockabilly continuum as much as they do the harsher-timbred blues tradition." -- Living Blues

"‘The Other Side’ is a collection of material that defies pigeon-holing, yet the intriguing term assigned to it seems to sum up the way black and white musical traditions intertwine in perfect harmony." - For the Country Record (UK) 

“In short: A masterpiece of an extremely talented singer / songwriter who can compete with the major players in this field, such as Lucinda Williams.” – Blues Magazine (The Netherlands)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Mercury in retrograde? AGAIN?

At 1:02pm Eastern Standard Time on October 4th, Mercury goes retrograde in Scorpio.  It'll go retrograde in Libra on October 10th until it things go back to normal on October 25th. Whenever this backward spin somehow drags everything forward, I usually get a sudden ah-ha moment when my hard drive stops working or a phone call won't connect *or something!* that makes me feel like a gigantic hippie.  And then everyone in my world lets out this collective groan as they brace themselves for the inevitable -- miscommunications, missed connections, problems with electronics of any kind, having to hurry up and wait for the most basic things, and so on.

Like the pull of the moon on the water, it seems that the planets are always yanking hard in some way or another.  When Mercury is in retrograde -- having the appearance of traveling backwards in the sky -- it takes on aspects of the planet in whose house it resides.  Every planet has its own attributes. Scorpio is emotional intensity. Libra is balance.

You've heard all this before, haven't you: don't get married, don't sign any contracts, don't start a new business, don't spend any money, don't make any important decisions, don't buy anything new.  I don't pay any attention to any of that stuff until I'm looking for an explanation as to why something weird happened. When all else fails, I hibernate -- especially when it's cold. Aside from slathering myself with gobs of patience, crawling through a 7 day cleanse along with  21 days of eating clean and a fairly steady diet of bikram yoga should be enough of a calming distraction.

The thing to do is redo, renew, review -- and, for me at least, rehearse.  I'll be singing and playing at Lincoln Center on November 15th as a finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, so this month is prep time.  I dug through my hard drive and found three songs I forgot I had.  What's especially annoying is that one of them is really good.