Guest Amoeblogger JR Valrey pictured here on the air at KPFA BerkeleyFor this special Black History Month Amoeblog we've invited author/journalist/broadcaster/activist JR Valrey (a.k.a. the People's Minister of Information) to be a guest contributor and to write the following insightful piece, accurately titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. The Oakland-based Valrey, who was interviewed & profiled on the Amoeblog last month, is known for his work on KPFA radio, his contributions to the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, and his recently published book Block Reportin'. The book, which will soon be available for sale in Amoeba Hollywood's ever-expanding book section, features interviews with such important black cultural figures as political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, hip-hop emcee/poet/actor Mos Def, former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, comedian/social satirist Paul Mooney, and the late, great, highly influential Gil Scott Heron. In the spring of this year Valrey plans to publish his second book, Unfinished Business: Block Reportin' 2. For more info and insights on JR Valrey, visit the blockreportradio website. Thanks for your contribution to the Amoeblog JR Valrey!
Bay Area graffiti fans should be in heaven this weekend, with so many amazing events celebrating the urban art form jumping off in both SF and the East Bay starting today, Thursday, and ending on Saturday with The 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle (EIGB). This evening (Thursday, Oct 8th) kicks things off at the 1:AM Gallery in San Francisco with The Can Film Festival, which will include screenings of the two graf films, Style Wars and Bomb It. The films will be followed by a Q&A session with a panel that will include Kevin Epps, Suzie Lundy, Erin Yoshioka, Estria Miyashiro and will be moderated by hip-hop author Jeff Chang. Screenings start at 7pm but doors open at 6:30pm. Even better, this is a free event, so get there early to ensure admission. 1:AM Gallery is located at 1000 Howard St. (near 6th St.), San Francisco, CA . Click here for more info. Note that tomorrow at 1:AM gallery will be the last day for the exhibit Don't Sweat The Technique - Ode To The Spray Can Art Show, featuring art by judges and contestants involved in Saturday's Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle.
Then tomorrow (Friday, October 9th) is the big event at the Eastside Arts Alliance in East Oakland-- the Pecha Kucha Night Oakland: Don't Sweat The Technique - Graffiti For Social Change, which is being presented in partnership by the Eastside Arts Alliance, Hard Knock Radio, Samurai Graphix and Youth Speaks. The event is happening at 2277 International Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606 from 7:30-10:30pm tomorrow (get there early)! Its ten presenters scheduled include legendary graf archivalist Jim Prigoff (co-author of Spraycan Art, Walls of Heritage Walls of Pride and Graffiti New York), Spie from the mighty Bay Area TDK crew, Steve Grody (author of Graffiti LA), and San Francisco community activist Nancy Hernandez.
According to artist Estria, who is another of the presenters and who was instrumental in bringing this event to Oakland, "Pecha Kucha is a great way to expose your art to many professionals in other fields in one quick-fire burst."
Rickey Vincent literally wrote the book on funk. The college professor, writer, and radio DJ, who resides in Berkeley CA with his wife and two sons, is the author of the acclaimed music history book Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One (St. Martin's Press) which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. If you don't already have this book, with a forward by George Clinton, I highly recommended it since it is the most comprehensive study on funk.
In addition to being an author & journalist, Vincent has taught at City College of San Francisco and SF State University where he taught a course entitled Protest Music Since 1965: Funk, Rap and the Black Revolution. Rickey is also a longtime Bay Area radio DJ at stations KALX and KPFA, where he still hosts his popular weekly funk show The History of Funk, Fridays at 10PM on 94.1FM.
The widely respected funkateer's musical knowledge (and music collection) is unmatched. I recently caught up with Vincent to talk about the funk/hip-hop connection and the impact of funk and black music in general on both American and global cultures, among other things. The conversation inevitably turned to godfather of soul / funk pioneer James Brown a few times during the interview.
Vincent is currently finishing up last minute details on his next book Party Music -- a fascinating historical account of the Black Panther Party's own funk band, Oakland's The Lumpen, who took popular funk songs and rhythms but substituted more revolutionary lyrics. (Look for a future interview with him about this upon its publication.) For more information on the author, you can visit Rickey Vincent's website or his MySpace. You can also read his book or check out his show on KPFA.