Monday, May 31, 2010

Words in Motion: Mosadi Music

Mosadi Music
Shirlette Ammons and Mosadi Music @ The Pour House

I relished the opportunity to hear a full set of Mosadi Music, a live hip hop band featuring Raleigh poet/emcee Shirlette Ammons, at The Pour House last Thursday. The lineup included The Old Ceremony's Matt Brandau on bass, electric guitarist Chris Boerner and drummer Nick Baglio.

This funky tune had already caught my ear, when Chris turned out a nice guitar solo:

For Mosadi's encore, Elijah Vick aka Tyler Hipnosis came up to do a cameo on the mic:

Vick/Hipnosis produced Shirlette's debut single, "A Spring Anthem," which features Carlitta Durand and Median. For a limited time, you can buy "A Spring Anthem" cocktail at select area bars (Whiskey, Bowbarr, Zog's Pool, etc.) and get a free copy of the single.

UPCOMING LIVE GIGS for Mosadi include the free, June 4 opening concert at Raleigh's new amphitheatre THIS FRIDAY, and Saxapahaw on Saturday, June 12.


Follow Mosadi Music's gigs on Facebook
Listen/Buy Mosadi Music on CD baby

Hallelujah: John Brown Quintet

Sharing some of my favorite pictures of the John Brown Quintet last Sunday, May 23, at St. Joseph's Hall in the Hayti Heritage Center:

Ray Codrington & Eric Hirsh

Brian Millerv

John Brown

Kobie Watkins

A recent transplant to North Carolina is Kobie Watkins, tour drummer for Sonny Rollins and Kurt Elling. Kobie studied at Northwestern in Chicago, where he got into the Latin scene and dabbled with timbales. He has played congas since he was a kid, and I heard evidence of that on the bossa "Ceora," when Kobie threw in some hand drum technique and allusions to Cuba and Brazil.

Kobie Watkins

This was a concert highlighting the connections between hard bop and gospel, so it was fitting that two Ray Charles tunes were featured, with vocals by another Ray--the quintet's trumpeter, Ray Codrington:

Personnel: John Brown, leader/bass, Eric Hirsh, piano, Brian Miller, alto sax, Ray Codrington, trumpet/vocal, Kobie Watkins, drums.


Full set of concert photos on flickr
John Brown artist website

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hard Bop at Hayti, Sunday

John Brown @ The Mary Lou
John Brown @ the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture

Rummaging through my unposted videos last night, I found this gem: From a bitterly cold night in February, I threw on my down jacket and headed out to the very cozy reservoir of Jazz at the Mary Lou. Here, the John Brown Trio plays "It Could Happen to You." The clip opens with a John Brown bass solo; he is accompanied by Eric Hirsh, piano, and Orlandus Perry, drums.

It could happen to you: THIS SUNDAY (5/23) at 4 pm, the John Brown Quintet performs with Eric Hirsh, Ray Codrington, Brian Miller and Kobie Watkins, at the Hayti Heritage Center. General admission, $10.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Live at Pour House: Q-bex + Isti Kaldor

From the backlog: Video from the remarkable Q-bex show at the Pour House, way back on May 8! Q-bex is frontman Greg Humphreys and bassist Andy Ware of Hobex, with drummer Jeff Sipe of Apt. Q-238. Sitting in on the gig was saxophonist and vocalist Tim Smith.

This short clip makes me sad because of the footage I didn't get--I was so into the rocking that I just didn't reach for my camera soon enough. Even so, these last few drops of "Pink Champagne" demonstrate Greg's inimitable way of squeezing the last soulful drop from a blues.

Special guests on stage included Caitlin Cary, Robert Cantrell, and John Teer of opening band The Jackets.

Pour House shows

One of the night's highlights was John Teer, on violin, trading huge solos with Greg on table steel, on the Shuggie Otis cover "Sweet Thang." Just over 10 delicious minutes, so this is in two parts!

I also went gaga for their long rendition of "Groove, Baby"--the first Hobex tune I fell in love with, live at a long ago Shakori--with an ingenious detour through James Brown's "Sex Machine," and back again.

Durham artist Isti Kaldor "live painted" this show. With his dropcloths spread out in a niche in front of the Pour House sound booth, Isti quickly painted this large oil canvas as we listened--and watched:

Isti only paints to music, and signs his paintings with a simple handprint on the back, insisting that, "it's not about me--it's about everyone."

Here's the palette Isti used to paint that at the Q-bex show, which he gave me, and which is still drying on my wall 10 days later:

Isti's palette

Meeting Isti is one of the things I love about Durham, and the whole Triangle music scene. Musicians and artists contribute so much to the quality of life we enjoy here. I love Isti's approach of using creativity to make connections, and making painting more interactive (i.e., more like live music.)

Says Isti, "Painting a moment in time creates a sense of belonging in an otherwise judgmental world."

Born in Hungary, Isti Kaldor has lived in North Carolina since 1992. He didn't paint until the onset of his first bipolar episode in college. Filmmaker Kevin Cullen is making a documentary about Isti, called "A Moment of Clarity." Check out the film website for great stills and more info!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video Shoot @ Cuban Revolution

It was a live Orquesta GarDel performance at one of the Cobos' parties that inspired The Beast's salsa-hip-hop song, "Translation." So it was fitting that the Cobo Brothers party at Cuban Revolution set the scene for the video shoot last Thursday night.

Translation video shoot

Translation video shoot

Translation video shoot

Translation video shoot

Here's a snippet of video during the live shoot, with dancers James Cobo and Jennifer Laurenceau:


Full photo set on Flickr

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bio Ritmo in Raleigh

Catching up on my blogging...Bio Ritmo a week ago at The Pour House was one of their better shows, and I've seen many. The lady and gents seemed relaxed, rested and robust. Here is pianist Marlysse Simmons eating some mini tacos in Moore Square before the gig. Say hi, Marlysse!

Pour House shows

Umoja Orchestra was an uplifting opener. So much hope. I had never seen a horn band with a banjo and accordion before. A little cumbia, a little Miami Sound Machine, a lot of afrobeat. It seemed to me that Umoja's musicians were mingling with the locals and dancing up a storm during Bio Ritmo's set, but don't quote me on that. Unity, indeed.

I did precious little filming on this gig, but here is one teaser from paradise. It's a new song, "La Muralla," for the upcoming album, with music by trombonist Toby Whitaker and lyrics by sonero Rei Alvarez. Marlysse uses Fender Rhodes, the Ponce Sound Machine, for the solo that opens the clip; "Mambo" Bob Miller busts chops on a trumpet solo.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dap Mania Hits Cradle


It's been a few years since I last saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The show hasn't changed much, but her stature as a crossover phenom has: Sharon's been all over the late night talk shows, mainstream R&B radio and The Apollo Theater in recent days. I'm happy to be paying out a little more if it keeps Miss Jones in sequins and fringe. That lady is a short stack of dynamite, and I, like so many others who caught Dap fever at the Cradle last night, refuse to maintain a safe distance.

Miss Jones

Miss Jones

Miss Jones

Still, I'm a little wistful for the days when you could just walk up and pay your money. A capacity crowd at the Cradle is a little frightening to tell the truth, a lot like a packed flight. Sure, there IS a bathroom, if you can get to it. Mostly, it just wasn't worth it to move around except in place.

You could move around on stage, however, if you were lucky enough to be handpicked from the crowd. The former corrections officer Jones kept order among the more boisterous volunteers, including a wannabe Isadora Duncan, mouthing "WTF!" to the crowd behind the ballerina's back. A really nice young man named Chauncey caught special favor by giving Sharon the Oshun treatment with a large Spanish fan. This, this, was appropriate homage for the Queen of Dap, and as due reward, she tapped him on each shoulder with the fan; arise, Sir Chauncey, Knight of the Dap Kingdom.

Here's another lucky fellow, laying claim to the Americas with Sharon on an adamant, "This Land is Your Land":

Opening act Fitz and the Tantrums was a perfect fit, with a 60s Motownish retro sound that was light, uptight and all right. It was kind of like The Killers with addition of a young Diana Ross/Martha Reeves. Female vocalist Noelle Scaggs told me afterwards she has followed Sharon for years, so it's a thrill to be opening for her.

Scaggs is also a tambourine virtuoso, and I say that with highest admiration. Sharon brought her out for the encore, which started with a bari sax solo-led rendition of "I'll Be There." Here's ten minutes of it, including band role call for the Dap Kings:

I bought Sharon's two most recent albums, to complete my 4-vinyl set, and stayed until the throngs dispersed to get them signed. I saw sick piles of money being counted behind the merch table as they were closing out for the night.

Godspeed, Miss Jones. Thank you for stopping in our town.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Arriba, Boricua

Everyone's Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. Dos Taquitos' patio party on Creedmoor Road was so gargantuan, the Coronas ran out and the mall parking lot was beyond capacity. Carnavalito played a 6-hour marathon of all your favorite Latin hits, from "La Bamba" to boogaloo to "Guantanamera." This party needs to clone itself.

Carnavalito @ Dos Taquitos

Carnavalito @ Dos Taquitos

Caught this nice video of the guys descargando, in their second to last hour, on the 1967 Pete Rodriguez hit "I Like It Like That." Everybody was feeling good; solos by Pako Santiago, timbales, and Billy Marrero, congas.


Carnavalito opens Mosaic Spring Music Fest this Thursday (5/13), [NOTE TIME CHANGE: 7-9 pm] with a concert on the patio at Mosaic Wine Lounge in Raleigh.

Carnavalito plays the Brightleaf Square outdoor concert series in Durham this Friday, (5/14), [NOTE TIME CHANGE: 8-10 pm].

Both concerts this week are FREE.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

No Van

Los Van Van's U.S. tour, which was scheduled to hit New York, Denver, San Francisco and L.A. in June, has been cancelled.

The cause is not diplomatic, reports say, but a snag in business negotiations. The band claims to have its issued U.S. visas in hand.

Los Van Van on European tour, 2008
Los Van Van getting on their tour bus in Germany, 2008

Is this good news or bad news? I would love for a "do-over" tour schedule to include a few stops in other U.S. cities that are not so fortunate as to have Cuban artists performing there regularly. I bet Los Van Van would bring down the house in Greensboro and Atlanta. Don't forget about us.

It's like the cultural literacy clock didn't just stop during the Bush administration, but got set back decades. As if no one remembers that in the late 90s and early '00s, groups from Cuba toured through Triangle venues several times a year. The diplomatic barrier may be broken, but here in the Heartland/Dirty South, we are still waiting for the Cuban drought to be over.

Agua, solo queremos agua para vivir...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bio Ritmo @ Pour House THURSDAY (5/6)

It doesn't come around too often, so don't miss our friends Bio Ritmo doing a North Carolina tour at The Pour House in Raleigh this Thursday (5/6), on their way to LEAF. They are about to release a new album, tweaked by Spanish Harlem Orchestra producer Aaron Levinson. I've heard Bio Ritmo perform twice this year up in Richmond and the new tunes are smokin'.

An advance single, "Verguenza," is available now for free listen / $1 download at

Here's a sneak peek from Bio Ritmo's new live DVD recorded in March at SOB's in Manhattan:

Opening for Bio Ritmo: Umoja Orchestra, an Afrobeat/Latin band from Gainesville, Florida.

Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. General admission, 21 & over only.


Search Bio Ritmo on Onda Carolina

Bio Ritmo official band website
The Pour House events calendar & ticket link
Facebook event page

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Outdoor Music Begins at Brightleaf

Brightleaf Square Summer Concert Series, running from May to September, kicks off this weekend with three nights in a row of live music.

Singer/songwriter Janet Stolp performs Thursday (5/6), followed by former Muscle Shoals and Bonnie Raitt guitarist Will McFarlane on Friday (5/7), and funk horn band Bull City Syndicate on Saturday (5/8).

All concerts are 7-9 pm, free and outdoors in Brightleaf Square, located at 905 W. Main St (corner of Gregson) in downtown Durham.

SALSA FANS: Next Friday (5/14), Latin jazz favorite Carnavalito will perform.

See Brightleaf Square Summer Concert Series full schedule here.