Sunday, November 29, 2009

Javad Jahi transitions as well Nov. 28, 2009

Okay, I said I wasn't going to make anymore announcements except I hoped a happy one, but our dear brother, another dear brother, Javad Jahi, has moved onto another dimension, one many can't reach without a serious energetic transformation. However, I'd been told it's been done. His and Kamau Seitu's spirits are dancing their way home.

From Mama Ayana:

Peace Family and Community,

I spoke with Javad's mother Maria Casey and then his sister Sakai around noon today and she told me in her own words that Javad Jahi has made his transition. She asked me to wait until the family had posted their statement on Facebook and sent out an email before letting you all know. I apologize for doing this through the email, but it would be far too difficult for me to call all of you and say those words again. Please understand. Following is the statement the Camilo posted on Facebook.

His mother said that she/they would let us know when the services will be. I must say the she and his father Yahmis, and the rest of his family lived through this with grace and dignity.

My love and blessings are with you all.
Mama Ayanna

From Camilo Kareem Casey:
Javad Tshombe Martinez Jahi , a consummate warrior spirit and eloquent orator, has taken his place amongst the ancestors and The Most High. His dedication to family, friends and community is evident in all he does. A scholar, activist, youth advocate, supporter of human causes, lover of the arts and avid sportsmen, Javad has made the transition and accepted his new assignment and promotion with The Most High as of November 28th, 2009.

Words cannot adequately describe the spiritual essence, compassion and commitment exuded by this rare, yet down-to-earth, brother who will continue to be celebrated until time indefinite by all whom he has touched. His thirty-two years are chock-full of accomplishments too numerous to list in the context of this brie...f message. The legacy of this phenomenal brother is one infused with abundant activity and overwhelming love by his family, co-workers and the vast number of brothers, sisters, students and elders that are included amongst his loved-ones and vast network… All who know Javad recognize the love of life that he conveys to all in his path

We will miss Javad Jahi, and know that his loving spirit reigns free and strong...

With loving memories,

Javad's Family.

An excerpt from the poem "Back and Forth" from Mood Swings, a collection of poetry by the late Javad Jahi (July 19, 1977 - November 28, 2009)

"Black, brown, mahogany, chocolate, dark ebony tones

Leading... me to a pathway home

Victorious visions in the mind continue to roam

I hope your souls I have not over flown

My wings will not truly soar, unless accompanied by the flock

Different minds staying solid like rocks

From this birds eye view shows the opposite of few

Grasping truth's wetness in my clutches

Off this I pray

But it slid away like night taking day"




Please feel free to bring a large healthy dish or natural beverage to share with the community for the reception at East Bay. We will have a community Altar if you would like to bring an offering.

Kamau Seitu passed away Nov. 28, 2009

I just finished speaking to Taiwo Seitu-Kujichagulia about a disturbing email I just received about her father. Funny I just emailed him an invitation to my going away party and now he is gone too. Al Young's poem "Away" comes to mind. Does anyone or anything really go away?

We were discussing this at Andrea Lewis's memorial last week and concluded that everything here has always been here, even if we can't recall it. With this in mind, Kamau is not away, he is still here, able to feast on life without pain and suffering which he was experiencing prior to his transition.

This said, I still miss him.

I'd seen his daughter Taiwo and grandchildren, son-in-laws, brother and friends just last week. In fact I'd planned to go see him after I left the Diamano Coura event this afternoon to talk more about Africa.

I wondered why we weren't having the fundraiser this weekend as planned for alternative therapies for him. Taiwo said the tumor had wrapped itself around her father's intestine and was making it so he couldn't digest food or something, so the surgeons did a bi-pass operation Wednesday and Kamau got sicker with an infection related to the operation soon after, and died yesterday from pneumonia.

I'm like floored right now...and can't rise. My heart hurts. Kamau was my good friend, he was always honest and shared lots of big brother wisdom with me about this walk I am on.

He drummed last October at reception for the Maafa Exhibit for Casper Banjo and Joy Holland at Prescott Joseph. I wish I'd been able to attend the memorial he hosted for Elsie Washington just a month or so ago, but I had to work. He made it past his birthday, but not much past that date, Nov. 14. How old was Kamau, 66-67 this year?

He spoke about a book on Bay Area musicians he was working on that a friend of his was going to collaborate with him and write it. I hope that still happens. Kamau was organized so I'm sure it still can happen. I loved reading the titles in his collection, especially all the Downbeat Magazines he owned...I'm talking collector's issues and the books on drummers...classic as well.

We'd talk about the New Orleans drumming tradition and I have to find my interview with Kamau when I first started my project years ago to transcribe and share with friends.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Devine Day 1

Ms.Devine was all that and more as she waltzed into the intimate Rrazz Room Friday night on the arm of a club escort. Shimmering in a stunning dress one needed shades to look at, not really, she, microphone in hand started singing on her way to the stage about love, about the evening about "this One Night Only," unless one chose to return on subsequent nights. In a tasteful selection of both original and classic tunes --pop, rap and blues, she told stories about her life--a black woman in show biz, where one doesn't say too much if one wants to keep working.

After introducing the band, whom she'd met and rehearsed just that afternoon, the singer began the lovely, "I Believe in You," followed by my favorite Bill Withers's tune, "Just the Two of Us." I wondered if she'd seen the documentary, Still Bill, and if she knew the artist. Her arrangement of the song made the classic smile like new.

"I know you want to know more about me," Devine stated, "and I'll tell you some stories. You're probably used to seeing me in wigs, but Good Hair scared the weave off me. I'm going natural. If you hadn't shown up I was going straight to the airport and back home."

"All the Great Lovers," an original sweetened the room and Devine who was working hard said, Yall got me sweating up here like Whitney Houston." The way the stories set up the songs like her Panties and Pearls for "I Can't Make You Love Me If You Don't...and her song about a man who took care of his women, the "Chef of Distinction," reminded me of those coded songs the blues women sang about plumbers and handymen.

What is a show without audience participation? Again, another story, this one about Devine's stage son, Chris Brown, and Rianna's fans jamming his "stage mom" for her "son's" behavior. "They 'Wanna Be Starting Something," she said. It was interesting hearing the song without the additional singers, except where we came in.

Jasmine Sullivan's "I'll Bust the Windows Out of Your Car" must be a popular song presently, as this is the second show in less than a month that an artist sang it. In San Francisco, the Carolina Chocolate Drops performed a folk version of it which is really cool, and then there is Ms. Devine, who was so tickled when the audience started laughing --we couldn't imagine her "busting out" any one's windows, that the words flew out of her mind as she tried to regain control.

So captivating, the pianist was listening to Devine's story, not his cue and she had to count it off again.

"Don't Explain," "Everything is Moving On," "Anything You Want, You Got It," and the encore, Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away," was the perfect way to end the day.

After the show, Ms. Devine posed with fans and autographed photos. She is a classy lady and the show is not to be missed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Loretta Devine opens at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco

I had Ms. Devine on my radio show last week:, and rebroadcast part of the show this morning. She was in Atlanta on the set for a new film, "The Lottery Ticket."

Yes, Devine comes by the name legally, her dad's James Devine, a laborer, her mom, Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), a beautician.

Ms. Devine grew up, she says without a lot of money, but rich in access it seems to the type of investment which keeps the dividends coming in, oneself. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston in speech, drama and education, and later a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts degree from Brandeis University, Ms. Devine would never go hungry as she taught Swahili classes in Houston at a charter school, while managing a stage director position in the early 1970s at the Black Arts Center also in Houston--this all before returning for her graduate degree and then heading for the Big Apple, although it would be 18 years before she truly hit big time, one of her biographers stated. Ms. Devine also taught English at Brandeis University and was an instructor at a summer program at Harvard University during these years. A poet and a writer, this work must have fed her muse.

Always a singer as well as an actor, Ms. Devine is in San Francisco to take her act on the road, to develop a singing career, a first for the multi-talented lady. Her appearance at the Rrazz Room Nov. 27-29, 2009, will mark her nightclub debut. This engagement is exciting, because not only will it be Ms. Devine first performance as a singer, she will be singing original music as well as work from the American songbook of love.

What a great way to start this holiday season.

The actress's role as a single mother in “Waiting to Exhale” earned her a NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1995 film based on Terri McMillan's novel, "Waiting to Exhale." The next year also saw her work honored as a strong supporting role to Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston in "The Preacher's Wife" (1996). Remember the Grammy Award winning film, "Crash"? Devine was the insurance adjuster whose bad day rained on that of the policeman whose father was dying...and the ripple effect knocked over more than dominoes. Grey's Anatomy would not be the same without Devine as wife of the hospital chief, a philandering hospital chief at that, "Adele Webber" over the past four years. Usually these roles are cast as white women, but in Grey's Anatomy the first lady is a black woman--the other woman is white (smile).

I loved her in her role in "Woman Thou Art Loosed," based on the self-help novel by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Apparently so did others, because she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female Actress.

In our brief interview she spoke of how much she loved her career--the hard work that paid off and how the industry has changed because of the reality sitcoms many actors' entree into the business, not necessarily how she did it--getting the academic training first then trying out.

Devine spoke of how one had to be flexible and ready for roles that fit, she also said that she supported the independent directors too which is how one sees her in smaller budget films like: Maurice Jamal's Dirty Laundry (2007) and the lovely This Christmas, also (2007) directed by Preston A. Whitmore II which had a theatrical run.

While speaking to a friend this week about the upcoming show, she told me she'd seen Devine as La La in George C.Wolfe's The Colored Museum with Vickilyn Reynolds. Both went on to play sisters in the short-lived TV series "Sugar and Spice." (I think Ms. Reynolds was in a production of Old Settler here at Theatre Works.)

On television, Devine received three NAACP Image Awards for her role on David E. Kelly’s Fox series “Boston Public.” Additional credits include series roles in “A Different World” and Lifetime Television’s “Wild Card.” Devine also provided the voice of Muriel Stubbs on the beloved animated series, “The PJ’s.”

Loretta Devine, Broadway actor and singer, will appear at the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco, for three performances Thanksgiving weekend, November 27-29, $40.00. Shows are at 8 PM with the Sunday show at 7 PM. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at or directly through or at (866) 468-3399.

Check out:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eidul Adha in the San Francisco Bay Area

On Friday, Nov. 27, at the Lake Merritt Garden Center, there will be a large gathering to mark the greater of the two holy days in Islam, Eid Al-Adha. Today after observing the fast commemorating the part of the Hajj where pilgrims are on Mt. Arafat. I think it was here that Prophet Muhammad gave a speech, my friend Hamdiya, Sister Khadijah, Hamed and I shared a lovely meal. Sister Khadijah literally threw down with turkey, dressings, gravy, potato salad, green salad and banana pudding.

We listened to great oldies, but goodies featuring, Smokey Robinson and Ray Charles, the Jackson 5 and Minnie Ripperton and others, as we talked smack and bested each other in Bid-Wist. We warmed up on dominoes.

While looking at the score sheet after 6-7 games, I noticed that though my partner and I might not have traveled to Boston, we got close enough to think about booking a flight.

President Obama Hajj and Eid Mubarak

From Toure M. Nov. 26, 2009:
Pilgrims from over 160 countries, including nearly 20,000 Americans, have gathered in Saudi Arabia for the annual performance of the Hajj. They have assembled in Mina and will travel to Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mecca to offer the rites of pilgrimage.

On Friday, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha.

The President issued the following statement today marking the beginning of Hajj and the upcoming Eid holiday:

"Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to all those performing Hajj this year, and to Muslims in America and around the world who are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha. The rituals of Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha both serve as reminders of the shared Abrahamic roots of three of the world's major religions.

"During Hajj, the world's largest and most diverse gathering, three million Muslims from all walks of life – including thousands of American Muslims – will stand in prayer on Mount Arafat. The following day, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and distribute food to the less fortunate to commemorate Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son out of obedience to God.

"This year, I am pleased that the Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with the Saudi Health Ministry to prevent and limit the spread of H1N1 during Hajj. Cooperating on combating H1N1 is one of the ways we are implementing my administration's commitment to partnership in areas of mutual interest.

"On behalf of the American people, we would like to extend our greetings during this Hajj season – Eid Mubarak."



JazzWest Showcase Gallery :: Solomon Burke at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 11/21/2009 (presented by SFJAZZ) (Photos by Ronald Davis)

JazzWest Showcase Gallery :: Solomon Burke at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 11/21/2009 (presented by SFJAZZ) (Photos by Ronald Davis)

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JazzWest Showcase Gallery :: Keb' Mo' at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 11/21/2009 (presented by SFJAZZ) (Photos by Ronald Davis)

JazzWest Showcase Gallery :: Keb' Mo' at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 11/21/2009 (presented by SFJAZZ) (Photos by Ronald Davis)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wanda's Picks Radio Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

Parnell Herb & Robert Hillary King on Angola 3, the play; Don Little Cloud" Davenport on being black and Indigenous; Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 to the Party disbanded in 1980s. Mr. Douglas is recently returned from Australia and New Zealand; Mo'Rockin Project featuring Khalil Shaheed and Yassir Chadley who have a show this coming week, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 at Yoshi's in Oakland.

Tune in:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Javad Jahi

Javad Jahi is on life support at UCSF and needs our prayers. All day yesterday I kept getting emails stating that he'd died, that he was alive, and then on KPFA Hard Knock announced his passing.

I am reminded of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and how it was announced that he passed before he had. So until I get an official announcement to the contrary Javad is alive and fighting for his breath, and encourage everyone to send healing energy his way. H1M1 is no joke.

I saw Ayanna who sent out the first email early yesterday at Andrea Lewis's memorial but didn't get a chance to talk to her before she left, to ask if she'd been by the hospital. I also saw Davey D, who didn't know if the email from Javad's brother was now true-a follow-up email said "he'd jumped the gun," so I am going to remain encouraged and encouraging.

Please keep me posted on Javad's condition.

The last time I saw Javad was at the hearing for SF8 where all the men were acquitted except Francisco Torres, who is still free, and Jalil Muntaqim, who took the fall for his comrades, and Herman Bell, the latter two men, both incarcerated, were sent back to NY for parole hearings.

I remember riding with Javad to Sacramento one year for African Liberation Day. What impressed me about him was our conversation around gender equity and his statement that he was in recovery from patriarchy, that as a man, he had to monitor his male privilege. Keep it in check. I just thought this was so beautiful and so conscious on his part, but I see this sense of fairness in many brothers whom Javad would call his peers like Eesuu and Keba and his elder Maestre Temba.

Another time Javad who made the Maafa Ritual each year, invited me to him home to meet with friends from Philly who wanted to host a Maafa there and wanted to discuss the history with me. It was a great conversation. I don't know what happened with the plans, but since then I learned of Odunde, a ritual and celebration of African culture in the summer in Philly. Hopefully the couple connected with the organizers there. It's the oldest in the country.

One year I was in New Orleans and ran into Malcolm X Grassroots at a poetry reading in the French Quarters. I was hanging out with my friend Sakura Kone, who was organizing support for Common Ground Relief. Imagine my delight running into Kali and Javad with their kids from the San Francisco Bay in Nawlins!

Memorial Service for Andrea Lewis Tonight!

Tuesday, November 24th from 6 - 9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

The program honoring Andrea's life will include speeches, songs, poems, and will feature some of Andrea's favorite people and performers. Family, friends and listeners are welcome to join us in appreciating Andrea's brilliance and her lifelong commitment to journalism and the arts.

Journalist, musician, mentor, daughter, colleague, comrade and friend-Andrea Lewis filled all these roles, and more, with full-hearted commitment. Andrea brought out the best in those she met with her warmth, humor, and gift for intimacy.

A native of Detroit, Andrea moved to the Bay Area in 1983 after graduating from Eastern Michigan University, where she studied music, English literature and art history. She started her career in journalism as an editor for Plexus: West Coast Women's Press. In the late 1980s, she became a research editor for Mother Jones magazine. From there, she worked as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins before becoming a senior editor at Third Force Magazine. In 1996, Andrea joined Pacific News Service (now New America Media) as an associate editor.

Andrea came to KPFA radio in 1999 and for the past ten years, she woke up listeners both literally and figuratively-her deep, warm voice was what came out of the clock radio when the alarm went off. Andrea dedicated her life to challenging racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of prejudice, whether it was expressed blatantly or subtly. She communicated this passion for justice and equality in every interview she conducted-regardless of the subject area. And there were so many subject areas in which she was interested! She enjoyed speaking with guests about public affairs, music, the arts, literature, astronomy and sports. She was just as strong an advocate for social justice off the air as she was on, and she would frequently engage her colleagues in difficult conversations about how prejudice showed up in institutions-even those that consider themselves to be progressive.

Andrea was the host and producer of KPFA's Sunday Sedition and a co-anchor of The Evening News. For seven years prior to that, she had been the co-host and producer of The Morning Show. She also hosted national broadcasts for the Pacifica Network. Andrea continued her work in print journalism even after she came to KPFA, contributing articles to The Progressive magazine and The Progressive Media Project.

Andrea's work earned her accolades. She was extremely proud to be a 2008 Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. The National Federation of Community Broadcasters recognized her with a Special Merit award in 2002 for a series of interviews she did with jazz musicians. In 2004, the California Teachers Association presented her with its John Swett Award for Media Excellence for a segment she hosted and helped produce about mandatory testing.

Despite a consistently heavy workload and far too little remuneration, Andrea gave back to the community. In addition to being the master of ceremonies at numerous events, she was a fellow in the Society of Professional Journalists Diversity Leadership Program from 2006-2007, and she served on the board of Media Alliance.

Andrea sang with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for more than twenty years, performing on their four Grammy-winning CDs, appearing in the Emmy-winning telecast of Sweeney Todd, and singing at Carnegie Hall. She was an avid golfer, an amateur astronomer, and a gifted massage therapist. She also enjoyed camping and studying Spanish.

Andrea is survived by her parents, Mae and Frank Lewis of Ocala, Florida, and her brother, Eric Lewis, and niece, Jasmine Erica Lewis, of Southfield, Michigan.

Knowing Andrea was a joy. Her booming laugh, compassionate spirit and brilliant insights will echo in our hearts and minds for years to come.

The celebration of Andrea's life was really wonderful; the little church on 14th Street near the freeway was so full, by the time I arrived to hear Stephen Kent perform on the didjeridu, the only seats were in the balcony, a fact I understood once the San Francisco Symphony Chorus performed (there were a lot of them). There was poetry, Opal Palmer Adisa's Voice on the Radio so true--Andrea was the only voice on the radio that mattered for a lot of us. I really missed her when she went to Stanford on a Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists and just catching her on the evening news, not in the morning--It was great waking to her voice.

Sprinkled in with the musical tributes from UpSurge! Jazz Poetry, Kitka and Dance Brigade, were Andrea sound montages mixed in with appearances by some of Andrea's interviewees like Poet Laureatte Al Young and SF State professor and Andrea's friend, Larry Solomon. Andrea's aunt, Dr. Lydia Alexander spoke and so did her big brother, Eric. Amazing, the family drove from Florida to New Orleans to pick up more family and then continued the drive here.

They are leaving at three this morning on the way back, Eric said. KPFA was in the house, but so were others from New American Media, San Francisco Bay View and perhaps other media. I didn't see the Post or Globe.

It was a great evening and I'm sure Andrea loved it too.

Her mom and dad and other relatives are in the top photos. Mrs. Lewis's birthday is December 2. She is coming back to the West Coast for her birthday party in Nevada. Andrea was going to meet her there. She decided to continue with her plans because Andrea would have wanted her to. We are going to host a special birthday tribute for Andrea this June on my radio show, Wanda's Picks, so stay tuned.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Protest Lynne Stewart's incarceration!

San Francisco Federal Courthouse, 7th and Mission, SF
Monday, November 23, 5:00 pm

Lynne Stewart has been a leading civil and human rights attorney for 30-years. She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild, a member of the Continuations Committee of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations and among the most ardent campaigners for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Stewart, 70, who is diabetic and recovering from breast cancer, was ordered to report to prison in New York on November 19th, in violation of an earlier understanding that she be allowed to stay out of prison until after a scheduled surgery in December.

Stewart's 2005 conviction on trumped up charges of aiding and abetting terrorism, and the recent denial of her appeal, are part of an-going war against civil rights and particularly against the Arab-American and Muslim community, begun under Bush, and continued now under Obama. With her jailing the government is sending a definite and chilling message to all the attorneys in this country – ‘do not represent Arab people and or Muslims.’

Although given a relatively short sentence, federal district court is set to hear an appeal by prosecutors to lengthen her sentence to what could amount to life in prison.

See below for Lynne's own explanation of this outrageous frame-up.

Free Lynne Stewart! Drop All Charges!

San Francisco Federal Courthouse, 7th and Mission, SF
Monday, November 23, 5:00 pm

SF Protest sponsors include: Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; National Lawyers Guild; Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations; ANSWER Coalition; World Can’t Wait and many other. Call 415-821-6545 for more information.

Lynne Stewart in her own words

The following is excerpted from an interview that Lynne Stewart did with Pacifica’s Democracy Now just prior to her imprisonment. She explains key features of her case.

LYNNE STEWART: I represented Sheikh Omar at trial—that was in 1995—along with Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara. I was lead trial counsel. He was convicted in September of ’95, sentenced to a life prison plus a hundred years, or some sort—one of the usual outlandish sentences. We continued, all three of us, to visit him while he was in jail—he was a political client; that means that he is targeted by the government—and because it is so important to prisoners to be able to have access to their lawyers.

Sometime in 1998, I think maybe it was, they imposed severe restrictions on him. That is, his ability to communicate with the outside world, to have interviews, to be able to even call his family, was limited by something called special administrative measures. The lawyers were asked to sign on for these special administrative measures and warned that if these measures were not adhered to, they could indeed lose contact with their client—in other words, be removed from his case.

In 2000, I visited the sheikh, and he asked me to make a press release. This press release had to do with the current status of an organization that at that point was basically defunct, the Gama’a al-Islamiyya. And I agreed to do that. In May of—maybe it was later than that. Sometime in 2000, I made the press release.

Interestingly enough, we found out later that the Clinton administration, under Janet Reno, had the option to prosecute me, and they declined to do so, based on the notion that without lawyers like me or the late Bill Kunstler or many that I could name, the cause of justice is not well served. They need the gadflies.

So, at any rate, they made me sign onto the agreement again not to do this. They did not stop me from representing him. I continued to represent him.

And it was only after 9/11, in April of 2002, that John Ashcroft came to New York, announced the indictment of me, my paralegal and the interpreter for the case, on grounds of materially aiding a terrorist organization. One of the footnotes to the case, of course, is that Ashcroft also appeared on nationwide television with Letterman that night ballyhooing the great work of Bush’s Justice Department in indicting and making the world safe from terrorism.

The course of the case followed. We tried the case in 2005 to a jury, of course sitting not ten blocks from the World Trade Center, and an anonymous jury, I might add, which I think went a long way to contribute to our convictions. And all three of us were convicted. Since that time, the appeals process has followed. The appeal was argued almost two years ago, and the opinion just came like a—actually like a thunderclap yesterday. And to just put it in perspective, I think, it comes hard on the heels of Holder’s announcement that they are bringing the men from Guantanamo to New York to be tried.

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

And visit her website at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Keb'Mo' After Show

Keb'Mo & Solomon Burke @ SFJAZZ Nov. 21, 2009

The concert last night featuring Solomon Burke and Keb’Mo’ was awesome, especially the latter. Solomon Burke rolled in like a wave which continued to rise as he meandered down a lyrical memory lane sprinkled with tee-shirts, Mardi Gras beads, CDs and roses for the women. I was too far away to get any of the goodies but I felt the refreshing breeze. I’d see Burke before on stage a couple of years ago and he was just as wonderful—he’s dressed really fine and his big band features a full orchestra-horn section, vocalists and rhythm section. Periodically one of his singer/dancers—relative, maybe a granddaughter reached into his stash and pulled out a towel to wipe his brow or a seemingly endless supply of vases of red, long stemmed roses. The good times rolled for about an hour or 45 minutes as his audience was encouraged to get up and dance, I wish Keb’Mo’ would have did the same, but finally Burke’s set ended and the curtain fell right in the middle of the song and then as we sat listening to the rocking band back stage, he peeked out of the curtain—standing with support and smiled. It was a cinematic moment. Burke told us he had 21 children and 90 grands and I don’t remember how many great-grands. Famous for sculpting the soul music sound on Atlantic records in the early ‘60s with songs like: “Everybody Needs Somebody,” “Cry To Me,” Grammy winning, “Don’t Give Up On Me,” and “Like a Fire.” The ordained minister delivered a fiery healing which was still simmering when he left and the curtain rose on Keb’Mo’ singing a Sly Stone tune, “Family Affair.”

It’s funny, after the concert as we sat in the theatre—folks invited to Keb’Mo’ after party, were chatting with him, a woman who’d walked by him and then later did a back pedal said she didn’t know that Keb’Mo’ wrote the Sly tune. Keb’Mo’ quickly corrected her with, “No one wrote anything for Sly except one tune (which he named), and then went onto share an antecdote about meeting the musician in the airport whom no one recognized. He said the two had a great conversation—I’ll have to ask Mo’ what they talked about in a later conversation.

But it was all groovy, as Keb’Mo’ band played songs from his new release Keb’Mo’ Live& Mo’ on his label, Yolabelle International plus standards his fans knew or at least this one knew. One woman seated a few seats over from me leaned forward, her chin on her hand the entire evening in rap attentiveness. Only a few folks jumped up and danced until Keb’Mo’ announced his final song, “She Dance.”

Now that’s a song I should put in my phone and play when I go out to dance and then guys want to take me home (smile). It was really a woman-centered set: “She Dance,” “Shave Yo’ Legs” (as in you don’t have to for me, just be yo’self), “I’m On Your Side,” “Soon As I Get Paid (let me be your sugar daddy), “I’ll Be Your Water” (a beautiful ballad on acoustic guitar…a duet with the multi-instrumentalist, Jeff Pairs. It was like, oh I wish all men played these tunes on their lifeline soundtracks. And it’s not too late…I think everything he played is still available (smile).

After his opening song, Keb’Mo’ looked around the stage and noticed how empty it was, “Solomon Burke took everything away,” he commented—later on also telling his audience he got the name of the artist’s tailor and was going shopping Monday and get some proper threads.” I couldn’t even imagine Keb’Mo’ in anything but his jeans and denim vest, pork pie hat and short sleeved shirt—comfortable so he could dance on the stage with his guitar and his phenomenal bassist, Reggie McBride, who played multiple basses from upright to acoustic and electric. Les Falconer on drums rounded out the tight quartet. I think everyone sang background except the drummer, but then he was kept busy opening songs and laying the ground for the melodic excursions Keb'Mo', Paris and McBride were apt to take off on.

Keb'Mo' switched between 3-4 guitars throughout the evening, his standard a pretty red guitar, but he had a steel guitar for the slide guitar pieces, his acoustic and two others or maybe one other which had a steel section near the top. Watching the guitar caddy come off and on the stage was almost as fun as listening to the music--the coordination and choreography amusing.

The artist entertained us with stories of his career as he plugged in amps and then forgot they were plugged in. At one point, after signing an autographed record circa 1980 between songs he said as he handed the album back, "The end of that career--where did you get that album, EBay? I wondered where all the hair went," and laughed, "No don't show it around." The photo on the album one of Keb'Mo' in an afro.

I loved “Victims,” his second tune of the evening which spoke of America’s luxury and how our materialism was really a handicap. I decided I would hum it to myself on my first transatlantic trip next month when I missed something like hot water or refrigeration or tap water I could drink.

“Life is Beautiful” was also great along with the fun “Government Cheese” (black folks love their mac and cheese.) The more Keb’Mo’ one hears the more one loves because his writing is so good. It just makes sense, so much sense one finds herself singing along listening to the words and their lessons as the meaning sinks in…intention and merit, two items always present in a Keb’Mo’ tune. He is truly one of today’s most understated djalis or griots…truth-sayers, lyrical healers, record keepers.

Oh, did I mention that not only could folks take photos, drinks were allowed in the auditorium. The ushers told me the vendor took out extra insurance for damages. I think that was pretty cool. I had water, but others had sticky beverages which were covering the floor afterwards where they'd spilled.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Wedding Photos

Wedding Bells: Nisaa Karim, bride & Tamir Erdenbat, groom @ Redwood Grove at UCB Botanical Garden, Nov. 14, 2009