Amoeblog

Rickey Vincent Discusses "Party Music" - His New Book on the Black Panther Party House Band, The Lumpen

Posted by Billyjam, February 20, 2014 11:00am | Post a Comment


Rickey Vincent
- the veteran Bay Area funkateer, radio DJ, University of California-Berkeley professor, and author of the bible of funk music (Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One (St. Martin's Press) is back with a new book that beautifully melds two of the author's passions - the history of local music and politics - and this month has doing some readings in San Francisco of his book. Next week he will be at the Main Public Library on Wednesday Feb 26th. "Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music" - recently published by Chicago Review Press is the story the short-lived five member funk band The Lumpen who, back in the late 60's/early 70's in Oakland, were the Black Panthers house band. Little known for many years after the fact the Lumpen were a close knit collective of activist musicians who used music and song as their medium to deliver their revolutionary ideology with the record "Free Bobby Now" about Bobby Seales. Even Vincent, a scholar on funk and local music, did not know about The Lumpen until he randomly found out about them about. Vincent instantly knew he had to learn more about the Lumpen, their music, and their historical impact, and to share this information with the public at large. The result is Party Music which neatly ties together the black music tradition with the black activist tradition. This week I caught up with Rickey Vincent to ask him about his new book, the significance of its content, and what to expect at his San Francisco book reading next week.

Continue reading...

More than just riots and towers -- Exploring Watts for Black History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 13, 2014 11:07pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO WATTS

Welcome to Watts mural

It seems to me that reputation of Los Angeles's Watts neighborhood is based almost entirely on two things – the Watts Rebellion and the Watts Towers. Results of a Google search for “watts” can be divided into three categories: photos of the towers, black and white images of burning buildings, and people with the family name of Watts (i.e. Naomi, Charlie, and Reggie). Pop culture and the media almost never present Watts in a positive light – usually they don't mention it at all. 

Metro Blue Line heading to Los Angeles
Metro Blue Line heading to Los Angeles

Watts is, however, a community of 37,000 Angelenos – most of whom probably don't sell drugs, aren't in gangs, and probably spend many days not dwelling on half century-old riots or neighborhood folk art – impressive and important as both are. With that in mind, my friend Bruce and I met at 7th Street/Metro Center in the Financial District and headed down the Blue Line to Watts. 
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's hand drawn map of Watts
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Watts


JR Valrey Discusses His Second Book, Unfinished Business: Block Reportin' 2

Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2014 09:25am | Post a Comment

jr valreyOakland author JR Valrey has just published his powerful second book - Unfinished Business: Block Reportin 2. The author/journalist/broadcaster/activist who is also known as the People's Minister of Information will be doing two Bay Area book readings this month in celebration of this second publication in an ongoing series at both of the Bay Area branches of the wonderful Marcus Books: at the San Francisco Marcus Books (1712 Fillmore St.) on February 13th, and at the Oakland Marcus Books (3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way) on February 22nd.

Two years ago, during Black History Month 2012, JR Valrey acted as a guest Amoeblogger here and wrote an insightful piece titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. That piece followed a profile/interview with Valrey from a couple of months earlier on the topic of his first book Block Reportin. This week I again caught up with the busy Oakland-based Valrey to talk about his latest book, its subjects, and some of the topics covered in it and his opinions on them.

 
Amoeblog: Is it fair to call Unfinished Business a sequel to / a continuation of your last book and does it continue that book's same format?

JR Valrey: I guess you can say that. The only continuity between Block Reportin" and Unfinished Business is that they are both books consisting of a compilation of interviews; interviews that I did as a print and broadcast journalist over the years.  The third installment of the series, which is yet to be named, will include 28 interviews so that the total number of interviews that I have put out in book form will number 100.

Continue reading...

Is bustin' a cap really fundamental? -- Exploring South Central for Black History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 6, 2014 11:10am | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION SOUTH CENTRAL

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Central
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of South Central

South Central means different things to different people. To some it refers to a vast, amorphous collection of neighborhoods and cities between the Santa Monica Bay and the San Gabriel River, north of the San Pedro Bay and south of the 10 Freeway. To others its less of a geographical space than a metaphor -- that's surely the sense in which Ice Cube used it to refer to Compton -- which is of course it's own city and thus not any part of "LA."

A widely-accepted story tells that the South Central brand became so loaded with negative connotations of gang violence and riots that a neologism, South Los Angeles, was devised to "officially" replace it. But South Los Angeles is a geographic concept that goes back at least to the 1930s, as does South Central -- when it was coined to refer to the then-mostly-black neighborhood that arose just south of Downtown along South Central Avenue (hence the name) that is now sometimes referred to as “Historic South Central.”

Continue reading...

Oakland Public Library Celebrates Black History Month with Soul Explosion!!!

Posted by Billyjam, February 4, 2014 09:44am | Post a Comment

Oakland Public Library (OPL) is celebrating Black History Month in various ways at its different branches throughout this month including its soul and R&B music-themed Black History Month Soul Explosion!!! this evening (Tuesday, Feb 4th) at 6pm at the OPL Lakeview branch on El Embarcadero down by Lake Merritt. Local DJ, musician, and record store owner Ed'N'Sted will curate a "multimedia excursion into soul" by playing music and videos by such soul/R&B legends as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, The Isley Brothers, and Little Willie John for two solid hours. Tonight's FREE event starts at 6pm sharp and goes until 7:45pm. It takes place in the Meeting Room of the Lakeview branch, located at 550 El Embarcadero Oakland, CA  94610. More info by calling (510) 238-7344 or online here.

In honor of tonight's East Bay Black History Month event, below are select live videos by three of these artists. Included are the Isley Brothers on Soul Train doing "Summer Breeze," James Brown and band in concert in 1989 doing "I Feel Good," and Jackie Wilson performing "To Be Loved," "Lonely Teardrops," and "Alone At Last" on The Ed Sullivan Show in the early 60's. Also below is a really great piece on the short life (he died at 30) of the underrated Little Willie John who Marvin Gaye dubbed "the soul singer's soul singer." This excellent short documentary, entitled Fever: Little Willie John's Fast Life, Mysterious Death, & The Birth Of Soul (also the name of the book), is well worth watching if you are into the history of soul/R&B.

Continue reading...
<<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  >>  NEXT