Sunday, October 23, 2005

Friday evening at Ameba Records in the Haight, the store was crowded full of shoppers,I was trolling around about the buy albums by Betty Davis and Lamont Dozier when I received a call from a friend. She had two tickets for the Balinese Tempest showing at Fort Mason in the Marina, the program began in 40 minutes. Well, I'm carless and taking the bus from the Haight to the Marina District is challenging but I was going for it. I laid the CDs down and headed out of the store. I was able to catch the 43 Masonic, its' a cross town bus which goes through the Presidio. I arrived near Fort Mason about 5 minutes before curtain time, sprinted for the theatre and just made it, public transit can work.

The show was wonderful, it was my first experience watching Balinese shadow puppetry. What I found fascinating was the integration of cinematic techniques within theatre, the use of closeup and wide shots with smooth film-like transitions. Did shadow theatre create this visual style or was the theatre company borrowing? I'll have to watch more traditional Balinese plays and do a little reading to find out.

I hadn't read or seen Shakespeare's Tempest , it was a fun play with romance and magic.
However, I couldn't help but focus on the character Caliban the enslaved. Caliban was portrayed as the evil character while the slave owner Prospero, the play’s protagonist was good. Also, Caliban is described as a savage, shown in silhouette as furry with a round nose but I felt I was seeing a representation of a black man hidden in fur. Was Caliban a justification of European colonization or symbolize native people? Ok I just googled and this discussion isn't new at least I was playing attention.

After the Tempest we headed over to the Great American Music Hall, Omar Sosa was performing as part of the SF Jazz Festival Fall Season. Omar Sosa is one of my favorite Jazz musicians, I find his piano playing exciting, energetic, and creative. The accompanying musicians were tight and included guest musician John Santos the hardest working musician in the Bay Area.

What was fun about the concert was the use of electronic instruments within the pieces mixers and turntables intergated with live jazz....very nice. While electronica fussion is not new, when see you Omar Sosa anything can happen musically this makes his shows so fresh.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

The San Francisco Jazz Festival, opened it's series with Abbey Lincoln performing at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

The Herbst Theatre is a favorite spot, it's comfortable and has an old world charm with beautiful murals that grace its' walls. The acoustics are descent, sitting in the balcony you can enjoy the show. Another plus, they offer student rush tickets before many shows, half price tickets make my wallet happy!

Well, the concert was very interesting, I've heard Abbey Lincoln's music but I've never read an interview or had a feeling about her as an artist or individual. After the concert I'm reading.

Abbey performed a full set, she sung standards like Skylark and favorites composed by her, like The Music is the Magic but I've never seen a show before where the artist starts to fuss and almost cussed out her musicians. At first I thought it was an act, then I started thinking she's pissed off.

Whether her agitation was an act or the worst scenario possible a musician could have on stage without falling or barfing, they were flat at times. Sometimes her cajoling seemed to help other times rebellion or just plan confusion was occurring. She sung several songs acapella shutting down her trio.

I enjoyed the concert her singing and phrasing were good and it's always a treat to see the master jazz performers. But the concert will always be remembered for being a hot event on stage in the most unusal way.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

October 9th 6:00 AM, predawn I'm at Ocean Beach for the 10th Annual MAAFA commemoration ceremony. The MAAFA is a Kiswahili term for "Disaster" or "Terrible Occurrence". A term used to describe the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the thousands of deaths it caused for profit. The MAAFA ceremony is a time to remember and honor our ancestors and to give strength, prayers and support to the living.

The MAAFA ceremony included drumming, poetry, prayer, song, dance, ancestor remembrance and the communal sharing of food. One of the more special moments for me is the laying of flowers at the Ocean a beautiful tribute our ancestors.

As the sun rose the morning blossomed into a beautiful day. The ocean waves large and magnificent seemed to give us approval. The people participating provide an energetic and positive energy I'm sure the ancestors our proud.


Father and Child

The MAAFA Dance

Flowers for the Ancestors


Monday, October 03, 2005

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass , an annual free roots festival was happening Sunday at Golden Gate Park. This year the sponser made the festival bigger than ever before, there were several stars, not all Blues Grass but within the County Western Genre Dolly Parton being the largest.

Well, I can decribe the festival simply as huge and mellow, I have never seen so many people in Golden Gate Park. It felt bigger than Bay to Breakers, probably because the people weren't moving. Police Officers were few, problems appeared to be non-existent, except for the inability to see certain artists because of the crowds.

My favorite was Rosanne Cash, for her performance I found a wonderful tree shaded spot with a nice view.
Ms. Cash sung her songs and a few by her dad. Like her father she finds time to sing about love and relationships but also about the injustices of our time. I wasn't able to see Dolly, the crowds were too large and I ended up staying at Rosanne Cash performance longer than originally plan.

Also checked out Emmy Lou Harris and Ralph Stanley, both were good but I felt the venue was
too big for Stanley hopefully I'll get the chance to see him one day in a smaller venue.

My only complaint about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is where's the Blues? It would really be nice to either
have Gospel or Country Blues performers. Without Blues or Gospel the festival won't live up to it potential of being a fantastic program featuring American Roots Music.


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