Amoeblog

Abner Jay, One Man Band and Unsung Hero

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 1, 2011 07:17am | Post a Comment

by Kaitlin

"Seeing and hearing is believing, folks, how great thou art Abner Jay sings and plays. He once was a low down dirty blues singer, heavy on drugs and liquor.  He performed with such greats as Lil Richard, Otis Redding, James Brown and many others. One man band."

"St. James Infirmary Blues"

 

true story of abner jay
 

I very recently heard Abner Jay's music for the first time, and I've fallen in love with his deep voice, folky-blues-ey style and in-between-song spoken word stories and jokes. It's really a bare-bones, original and unique sound that reminds me of so many others I love, from Bob Dylan to Son House. The information that most of us seem to know comes straight from the horse's mouth via pamphlets (such as the quote above) and short biographies that he hand wrote and passed out at his performances, and it seems an lesser known legend has been out there all along.

"Cocaine"
 

The basics we know are: Abner was born in Fitzgerald, Georgia in 1921. Since his grandfather and father were both slaves, he was also a slave. His Grandfather gave him his own banjo and learned Abner how to play at an early age. He began performing in Medicine Shows at the age of five. At the age of 11, he joined the Silas Green Ministrels. He was in World War II and by age 25 he led the WMAZ Ministrels on Macon radio from 1946-1956. After this time, he began a solo career, traveling the south in a converted mobile home that opened up into a portable stage, complete with a small PA system and home furnishings. He traveled the southern United States as a one man band, earning a living by performing field songs, Pentecostal hymns and minstrel tunes as well as original material, with themes consisting of Vietnam, drug addiction, depression, sex and lust among others, intermixed with parts of spoken word and jokes. He sold vinyl records and cassettes that he self published on his own label, Brandie Records. These original pressings are sought after and quite rare. More recently, Mississippi Records, a Portland, Oregon based record label specializing in American roots music and blues archiving, has re-released some of Abner's recordings and releases, complete with reproductions of some of the handwritten pamphlets and biographies he distributed, including True Story of Abner Jay and Last Ole Ministrel Man, both of which I have purchased from Amoeba SF.   
 
I think the best way to share the joy of Abner Jay is to let him speak for himself. Here are some more quotes to share the wonder that is Abner Jay.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Venice

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 19, 2011 07:20pm | Post a Comment
SIDEWALK CROUCHES AT HER FEET -- VENICE

 
Venice is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Westside neighbored by Santa Monica to the north, Mar Vista to the east, Culver City and Del Rey to the southeast, Marina del Rey to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It's famous for its canals, Muscle Beach, Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk  -- "the Boardwalk." To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of future blog entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here

 

  Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Venice

Help Get Katey Red Into the Black, ya Heard Me‽

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 18, 2011 12:00pm | Post a Comment

Katey and new fan Andy Schwartz at SXSW 2010 (photo courtesy of Andy Schwartz)

If you're a fan of bounce music or sissy rappers in particular, then you almost certainly know who Katey Red is. Born Kenyon Carter in 1981, Katey came up in the notorious Melph. Katey dropped Melpomene Block Party on Take Fo' in 1999 and made history as the first openly gay rap star. Now's your chance to make history by helping to fund Katey's first music video. Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. There are a variety of incentives to give in addition to helping rectify the great wrong that there are no Katey Red videos up till now.

Big Freedia and Katey Red

The director is David White. According to the page, "David S. White is the primary videographer for Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans and recently completed shooting and directing a music video for Shamarr Allen. He is currently the Director of Photography for Bayou Maharajah, a feature-length video documentary on the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker. He has also shot Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Tim Robbins, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Del McCoury, Charles Neville, Cosimo Matassa, Harry Connick Sr, Bunny Matthews, and many others. His most recent short film, Cell Phone Psycho, has been making the rounds at film festivals across the United States, including the New Orleans Film Festival." [bold text is my emphasis]

*****

RIP, Magnolia Shorty

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 22, 2010 06:10pm | Post a Comment

Magnolia Shorty
was a bounce rapper from New Orleans who was the first female MC to record with Cash Money Records. She was murdered along with Jerome “Man Man” Hampton on the morning of December 20th, 2010 in Little Woods, New Orleans East. After being hit with a rumored 26 gun shots, their vehicle crashed on the 6300 block of Bridgehampton around 12:30 p.m. She was 28, Hampton was 25.
Renetta Lowe wanted to rap since she was six years old. She was nicknamed Magnolia Shorty by Magnolia Slim (aka Solja Slim) due to her diminutive stature and roots in Uptown’s notorious Magnolia Projects, which also produced rappers Juvenile, Mr. Marcello, 6-Shot and others.

She began rapping publicly when she was twelve, performing at block parties and recording mixtapes. When she signed with Cash Money, she was the first female rapper (and second female, following singer Ms. Tee) to join the label’s ranks. Her sole album for the label, recorded in 1996, is also notable for being the first Cash Money release to feature Juvenile. Not only was Monkey on the D$ck (Cash Money), released in February, 1997, Magnolia Shorty’s last album for the label, but sadly, it was her last album ever. In an era and scene known for bizarre album covers,Monkey on the D$ck’s image of to be-thonged girls with bullet braces and war helmets facing a large, irradiating, disembodied chimpanzee visage is on a level of bizarreness all by itself. Befitting the rapper’s stature, the album is itself incredibly short – just 21 minutes long and, as with many of Cash Money’s independent-era records, sounds like it was recorded in a single, lazy afternoon. The album's opener, “Manny Fresh (Cash Money Style)” doesn’t even feature her. There’s also a radio version of  “Monkey on the D$ck,” another bounce classic, “Charlie Whop!!,”  the wordless “Soldier Chant,” and “Magnolia $horty” (featuring BG and Juvenile).

That same year that she released her album she brought a sixteen-year-old discovery and fellow Magnolia resident to the label, Young Turk. She appeared on “3rd Ward Solja,” off Juvenile’s seminal Solja Rags but by the time Cash Money signed a major deal with Universal in 1998, they had parted ways with their original roster and Magnolia Shorty never again recorded with them. Although she last appeared on a track of a 2007 mixtape, Louisiana Cartel (UnderGround Funk Entertainment), she remains popular in New Orleans, where she performed regularly and wrote songs like “That’s My Juvie” that, though never put to record, are well-known, local club hits. Despite her brief recording career, echoes of Magnolia Shorty’s highly repetitive, crude and lewd bounce are more in evidence than most old school bounce artists by today’s flamboyant sissy rappers.


One of the strange side effects of the relocation of New Orleanians following Katrina was the spread and explosion of bounce’s popularity. Many New Orleanians relocated to Houston, Texas and, in 2009, Magnolia Shorty joined fellow Partners N Crime, DJ Jubilee, Big Freedia, Ms Tee, Katey Red and Vockah Redu at South By Southwest in Austin.



Recently Shorty had joined forces with fellow Cash Money veteran Ms. Tee as Gudda Girlz. Working with DJ EF Cutting, they were working on a new album around the time of her passing. She recently released a duet with 17-year-old singer Kourtney Heart, "My Boy,” and had a club hit with “Smoking Gun." Having just signed with Jive, Heart may've proven Shorty's ticket out of the streets that ended up claiming her if given a little more time. RIP.


California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Little Ethiopia

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 3, 2010 01:30pm | Post a Comment

LIVING WOULD BE EASY IF YOUR COLOURS WERE LIKE MY DREAMS -- LITTLE ETHIOPIA - ሊትል ኢትዮጵያ

This blog entry is about the Midtown neighborhood of Little Ethiopia. To vote for more LA neighborhoods, click here. To vote for LA County communities, click here. To vote for OC communities, click here. I was accompanied on my adventure to the hood by Aussie filmmaker, Diana Ward.



LOCATION OF LITTLE ETHIOPIA

Little Ethiopia is a small, one block stretch in Midtown's Carthay district. It's situated along Fairfax between Olympic Boulevard and Whitworth Drive. It's the smallest of the Southland's' many ethnic enclaves. It exists within the borders of Carthay Square with Picfair Village to the southeast, Carthay Circle to the north, Miracle Mile to the northeast and Wilshire Vista to the east.

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