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70-Year-Old Buck's Oakland Laundromat Remains Direct Link to City's Rich Musical Past, But For How Much Longer?

Posted by Billyjam, March 14, 2016 10:57pm | Post a Comment

"In 1959, 1960 James Brown dropped off the original Flames in Oakland and he left them." "Louis Jordan was here all the time."  "Slim Jenkins was the premiere club in Oakland in the '50s." These nuggets of Bay Area music history are among the many sprinkled throughout a typical conversation with lifelong music loving 70-year-old Oakland native Charles Presley, who everyone knows as Buck. This particular conversation (hear the full 10 minutes in the clip below) is one of countless engaging ones that I've had over the past two plus decades of stopping by the North Oakland coin-op laundromat this music fan owns and operates. But it could be any conversation with Buck who loves music and loves to talk music. And his conversations are always from the historical perspective of his beloved hometown of Oakland, CA.  Buck loves all good music from soul and jazz to gospel, but blues and rhythm and blues, the music he grew up on, remain his favorite sounds. Most new laundromat customers' conversations are inspired by the the overhead soundtrack of RnB and soul grooves Buck plays from CD collections or the music-themed DVDs he might play on the overhead TV screens. Doing laundry at Buck's is never a dreaded chore, so long as he's there.
 
As heard in the audio interview clip below, once Buck starts reminiscing he goes off on detailed lists of artists and shows at long gone Oakland clubs back in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, most notably Slim Jenkins Cafe at 1748 7th Street that operated from the '30s through the '60s. It was just one of several businesses owned and operated in West Oakland by the Louisiana born Harold "Slim" Jenkins who was such a successful businessman that he earned the title of "Mayor" of West Oakland. Buck fondly remembers those times like he clearly remembers the very first records he ever bought and heard. One of the first records he remembers hearing was the 1951 single "Sixty Minute Man" by The Dominoes.  He caught most acts in Oakland clubs, but for some he'd travel across the Bay Bridge. Most often those would be jazz shows. In 1961, he got to see Miles Davis playing San Francisco's Black Hawk. The famed jazz club, located in the Tenderloin on the corner of Turk and Hyde, operated from 1949 through 1963. 

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Saluting The Late Prog Rock Keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Posted by Billyjam, March 11, 2016 07:56pm | Post a Comment

Famed prog rock keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer (and The Nice) fame died late last night (March 10th) as confirmed by the rock trio's Facebook page today. As yet no cause of death has been yet announced for the passing of the pioneering 71-year-old, British-born musical pioneer who was living in Santa Monica in recent years. An early adapter of and ambassador for the Moog synthesizer, Emerson leaves behind a legacy of recordings. His back catalog spans albums he recorded with his two main groups as well as solo and collaborative projects including soundtracks. Among albums for The Nice include the high concept, ambitious live performance piece Five Bridges. Considered by many to be the greatest live recording, it is all the more impressive when you consider that the musicians were only in the early/mid twenties. This album by The Nice was released in 1970, which was the same year of the self-titled debut by Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Clearly Emerson was a busy prolific artist. Over the career of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the band would release nine studio albums including their fourth album, Brain Salad Surgery, in 1973 with its distinctive H.R. Giger cover art (right).  The original soundtracks credited to Emerson are for 1980's Inferno by Dario Argento, and the interrelated film soundtrack for La Chiesta  with Italian prog rockers Goblin. The most recent Emerson album to arrive in Amoeba was the November 2015 release of the rock jazz fusion seven track CD/Miniablum by The Keith Emerson Trio. (cover below)

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Public Enemy and X-Clan's Role As Part of NYC's Revolutionary Rap Soundtrack of Unrest of 1989/1990

Posted by Billyjam, March 8, 2016 11:50pm | Post a Comment

In 1989 Public Enemy's raw rebellious rap anthem "Fight The Power" reigned supreme. An across the board hit, it was the theme driving the soundtrack of Spike Lee's classic movie Do The Right Thing. Public Enemy performing live and the striking imagery of an emotionally charged political rally set the tone for the accompanying music video. Spike Lee directed the music video, which included clips from his film Do The Right Thing. Perfect and perfectly complimentary, the Brooklyn set video captured both PE and Spike Lee at their respective creative peaks. Each used their art to reflect life in a pitch-perfect way. 

Meanwhile, in real life Brooklyn of 1989, thousands of agitated protesters took to the Brooklyn Bridge. The September protest that upset traffic and authorities ended in riot cops going against protesters. "A mile-long protest march against racism and the recent killing of a black youth…a predominantly black crowd of 7,500 demonstrators breached the police lines in an attempt to cross the bridge and carry the protest into Manhattan," reported the New York Times on this "Day Of Outrage" protest. Led in part by the late X-Clan member Professor X under his Blackwatch political organization, the protest was designed to bring the city to a halt and bring attention to injustices. As well as protesting the August 23rd murder of 16-year-old Bensonhurst resident Yusef Hawkins by a gang of white youths, the protest was also about the August 22nd slaying of Huey P. Newton. The shooting of the 47-year-old former Black Panther leader occurred in Oakland, CA. Hawkins was shot and killed near his home by a bat-wielding white mob who believed he was dating a local white girl.

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Homeboy Sandman joins L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae

Posted by Billyjam, March 7, 2016 11:04am | Post a Comment

L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae - Ignore The Man To Your Right (feat. Homeboy Sandman)

For the new "Ignore The Man To Your Right" music video, Homeboy Sandman joins the collaborative duo of L'Orange and Jeremiah Jae (who teamed up for their current collaborative Mello Music Group album The Night Took Us In Like Family.)  The Stones Throw, Queens, NY rapper, who recently did an in-store at Amoeba Berekely, is one of two invited guests on the 14 track album. The other guest is Bay Area legend Gift Of Gab who joins North Carolina's L'Orange and Chicago's Jeremiah Jae on the album track "All I Need."  Direction credit for the new "Ignore The Man To Your Right" video is attributed to Mero, who crafts a fitting visual counterpart to the songs offbeat rhythm accentuated by L'Orange's throwback era samples and deep kick drums.

"The alchemy of Madvillain and The Maltese Falcon," was how  the album was accurately billed last year. The album's choice of gangster movie (as opposed to gangsta) samples by L'Orange provide inspiration for the mood and tone of the recommended The Night Took Us In Like Family.  L'Orange continues to be one of contemporary hip-hop's most adventurous producers, as well as one of its most prolific. Four months after the release of his collaboration with Jeremiah Jae, L'Orange released his equally stellar full-length collaboration with Kool Keith, also on Mello Music Group. Time? Astonishing!. Below is the music video for that album's track "The Wanderer" that finds Kool Keith in typical wild and crazy form.

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In Advance of 2nd Annual Women's Empowerment Show, CMG of The Conscious Daughters Reflects on Her Pioneering Career

Posted by Billyjam, March 5, 2016 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Presented by HipHopForChange.org and Venus Rising, tonight's 2nd Women's Empowerment Show at Oakland's Starline Social Club promises a "celebration of Women's contributions in Hip Hop" with a showcase of the Bay Area's best talents, including co-headliners DJ Pam The Funkstress and CMG of The Conscious Daughters (TCD). These two pioneering women in Bay Area hip-hop, whose histories date back three decades, will be joined on the bill by a generation of women artists who look to them as role models in a traditionally male-dominated field. Hosted by Breathless and Charity Clay, tonight's show features Ryan Nicole, Yani, Fem Deadly Venoms, and DJ Deeandroid. While the ratio of women to men in hip-hop has always been unbalanced at least today there are more hip-hop artists overall so the number
is larger. Women DJs in hip-hop, from when Pam TheFunkstress started out as DJ in The Coup, have always been a minority group. Same for emcees like Carla "CMG" Green whose history dates back to the mid-eighties when she would stop by the El Cerrito High studios of KECG to hang out with her future TCD partner in rhyme, the late Karryl "Special One" Smith who tragically died in December 2011.
 

In advance of tonight's Women's Empowerment Show, scheduled during Women's History Month, I caught up with the Bay Area hip-hop pioneer Carla "CMG" Green to reflect back on her long career and her role as a female in a male dominated field, her top favorite female hip-hop artists of all time, and other things too including one that comes to mind during this presidential political season.
 

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