Last Friday I headed to Bloomington, Indiana to attend the above conference and for the most part, it was fun.
I got to hang out with my friend Mashadi from Atlanta, meet this cool chick - future friend from Oakland, Priscilla, and see many faces that I do not see as much as I would like to: My man Rob from Bold As Love who is holdn' it down; journalist, author and musician Greg Tate; BRC folks Earl Douglas and Laronda Davis, the beautiful and divine Tamar-Kali (above), Moe Mitchell from the band Cipher, and many others.
I laughed, I wanted to kill a few people, but overall, I had a great time. Most importantly, Indiana University has archived a collection of black rock artifacts: Albums, posters, books, magazines and such that really document American black rock musicians. It was really interesting and it will grow as many of the people who attended the conference will create works to add to it.
Bloomington was an interesting place. the campus is fucking huge, the people were very friendly, drinks were cheap and it's a nice little city that reminded me of my hometown, Kingston, Ontario, which is also a college town. I don't know if I will ever get back there, but it was a nice place to have a conference.
About black rock: I left feeling a bit more confused than I did when I got there. I left feeling a bit disjointed about where AfroPunk is going - it seems like it is turning into more of a business feeding off young people of color than what it had been when I joined in 2003, which had a real community feel / philosophy. Now, people got to eat, and its popularity has grown into a money-making venture. Is that wrong? Certainly not, but there were a couple of things that happened that weekend that rubbed me the wrong way.
Also, what is rock? What is black rock and what music does it consitute? I dunno. Who and what do we support?
Most importantly, who are 'we?'
Do we support black musicans who are simply doing something out of the 'box?' Do we support artists because they are black but their music sucks or is there a measuring stick in which they have to pass? Are black music critics all bourgie and feel they have a right to be snobby to people who do not live in NYC?
I left feeling emotionally exhausted.
Tamar-Kali and Suzanne Thomas performed that Saturday night and it was amazing. I'd never seen them perform and it was crazy. Suzanne, who is a stellar guitarist and singer was funny as hell and off the chain - crazy talented. Tamar-Kali......that woman brings tears to your eyes, she is that awesome.
Some black folks aren't into metal. I tried, I cajoled and granted, metal ( especially what I like) is not for some. but for the love of God, respect it. Respect what I do.
Shrinebuilder ( and Dallas Coyle)
I love New York. Love that city. It's exciting, it's scary and exhillarating at the same time. I only had less than 24 hours in the city and I feel like I got a lot done.
After getting to my hotel, showering and taking off my stinky clothes, I headed down to Madison Square Gardens to hook up with Dallas Coyle who was formerly in God Forbid. Dallas also occasionally blogs for Metalsucks and I really think you should check out his column, which is really good. He was really nice, cute, gracious and gave me some much-needed insight for my book. He is also quite busy doing other music and non-music related stuff and I wish him well.
After that, I headed down to East Village to check out Shrinebuilder - a concert which I had been looking forward to for months. I won't get into details because I wrote a long review for Hellbound, but needless to say it was incredible. I'm a huge fan of Scott Kelly from Neurosis and planted my black ass in front of him for the duration of the set, much to the consternation of a bunch of white hipster kids who were trying to intimidate me in order for me to leave. Sigh. (Update: The review is now up at Hellbound).
My pictures were overall, a disappointment. I didn't use flash (not good to take a picture of someone where you are standing inches away from their face) and I had a hard time trying to figure out the lighting. I got some good shots, but not really that great for publications. I'm tempted to see when Shrinebuilder are playing next just to try and get better photos. Below is Al Cisneros, whom I really liked and am planning to check out his band - Om.