Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Angela Bofill Experience @ the RRazz Room

This evening, Sunday evening was one of those lovely moments one is so happy not to have missed. Running late, as usual, I knew I would get to the club about half an hour into the show; however, I wasn't late as RRazz Room management was busy trying to accommodate the patrons on the wait list who wanted to pay tribute to the lovely Ms. Angela Bofill, Brooklyn born, now Northern California transplant.

When Ms. Bofill walked into the intimate setting, hands on a cane and the arm of her escort the room rose to its feet as the applause and best wishes sprinkled her path until she reached the stage and took her seat.

Dave Valentine, flautist, opened the set with wit and wisdom sharing stories about his good friend and musical partner, whom he'd known since the two were youth, 17. The New Yorker, whose looks often confused producers who couldn't figure out his of a younger Valentine projected on the walls by the stage behind the artist illustrate his long and illustrious career and some of his many hits as he played a wooden flute then shifted to the Western classical one. His stories about playing for first one label then another and finally the opportunity where he could bring his friend Angie Bofill on board.

When Maysa came on stage singing "She's an Angel of the night..." with background vocalist Lambert Moss kicking the energy up an octave as the lovely woman's warm full voice gave us a teaser of what was to come. Maysa then shifted easily into a rumba as the pianist and drummer, Moe Collins and Greg Phillips, strutted their collective stuff. A child of the 70s Maysa said as she reflected in song on I Try and Baby I Need Your Love and in her role as lead singer for the English band, "Incognito," she dreamed of being discovered by Norman Connors.

"I need your love, like a flower needs rain." She sang and yes, I had to take off my jacket, it was that toasty.

When Angela Bofill sat down, the audience was hers--guests at the table in front of Maysa's music stand kept the sheets that fell off the stand for her. When the bassist's music fell, someone from the audience retrieved it so he wouldn't miss a beat. When Angela's cane fell, someone grabbed it for her and there was one patron, whom Angela kept a running dialogue as she shared stories about her family, background on a song or a joke about life after stroke, diabetes, menopause.

Next to me RRazz Room publicist, Lisa Bautista, wiped away tears that evening as Bofill's ease was reflected in her smiles, banter and jokes about her inability at times to be as articulate as she'd like --words the right words illusive. Maysa talked about listening to Angela Bofill records and thinking one day... never believing that she'd be on stage singing Angela Bofill songs to the artist herself, Bofill smiling encouragement and sometimes singing (lip-syncing) along.

Dave Valentin's first album, "Legends" on GRP sold hundreds of thousands of units he told us. He then told his producers Larry and Dave, "I've got someone for you...his friend Angela, who when signed her first hit, "Angie" (1978) selling 250,000 units. Both Puerto Rican (and Cuban--Angela's father) and proud, it's funny how these early Afro-Latin R&B artists are seldom heralded for the doors they opened for today's popular artists and the long overdue awards for indicated in events like the Latin Grammys.

As Bofill too spoke about those years, 1978 was also noted as a special year for the birth of her nephew: Pablo Angel Santiego, who was killed in a freak accident June 13, 2009. She wrote "Rainbow Child" for him and as the song played Bofill talked about her nephew who was a "'player,' seven girls showed up at the memorial" as photos of him in his football jersy from his Sonoma High School days, photos of the family at Angela's daughter's graduation from college, and other family photos with dad holding his grandson, Pablo as a baby.

Footage of Bofill singing (muted) with Maysa on stage performing the same song, especially the clip of Soul Train, was uncanny, especially when Maysa and the filmed artist were clearly singing the same parts (Maysa's back to the screen).

Bofill, dressed in a two piece knit pant suit with a sweater-like jacket and tunic top, looked great--her cute Pixie face, Betty Boo lips, and short bob relieved any fans who were uncertain what to expect. Not many people survive one stroke, let alone two within two years--Bofill's presence was trutly a miracle.

The artist kept a bit of humor in her pocketbook which she pulled out on multiple ocassions closing night.

Midway through the show, the ensemble under the direction of Greg Phillips, producer, writer, drummer, segues into a special part of the show which is not just a concert, rather a story with music signposts marking the Bofill collective experience...because it isn't just Bofill's story, well it is and it isn't. What it is more so is a story with characters like Dave Valentine and Norman Connors ... and earlier that week Phill Perry, whose notations in the script that is Bofill's life expand and deepen a story --one where family and friends (from Bofill's comments and the photos projected on the two theatre walls) are central to Angela Bofill's life and recovery.

As Connors makes his way to the stage, he's wearing a tropical style hat with shirt suitable for the weather in New York: trees with flowers...and an imagined breeze. For those who have never been to the RRazz Room at Hotel Nikko, there is no back stage and on a packed closing night in a sold out run, the artists walk in and off the stage through the audience, which means, yes, intimate contact...there is no them and us; it's all we.

Buddah, Arista, GRP...

Norman Connors, thge famous Philly born drummer/composer, talks about labels he has been affiliated with along his impressive trajectory when he meets Angela. "She'd been coming to my concerts for years," he said as he spoke of how he then he invited her to sing with him. Both he and Angela spoke about how people would mix the two artists up--Phyllis Hyman and Angela Bofill with a insider laugh.

Connors said he hadn't seen Angela since her stroke, so seeing her seated on stage chatting with the audience brought tears to the artist's eyes as he spoke of he and Bofill's work together. Known as Mr. Smooth Jazz himself, Connors talked about his song Maysa was going to sing next, "You Are My Starship" a song sampled by an impressive list of artists: Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Rick James, all of them men until Maysa.

As he spoke, Ms. Bofill added her recollections especially regarding Phyllis Linda Hyman (July 6, 1949 — June 30, 1995) who people often confused her with, which was okay, Bofill laughed, "because she was beautiful, but I don't think she liked the confused identification." This confusion led to someone calling Bofill's mother when Hyman died to offer his or her condolences as Bofill sat in her mother's kitchen wondering what the person was talking about: "I'm so sorry about your daughter...."

There was a silent toast to the lovely artist who died all too soon, as Bofill once again emphasized the importance of smelling the flowers now and appreciating life now, because this moment is all we are given.

Maysa then sang "You Are My Starship," Valentin adding lovely instrumental lines to the chorus, as the singer smiled and made room for more. Well-rehearsed the band knew when to take it down a notch so we could hear the subtle nuances of the singer's/flutist's voices.

Bofill was grooving as the familiar songs were performed...her smile and joy contagious. Though I was sorry to miss my dear friend Avotcja's 69th birthday party at La Pena and Keb'Mo at Stanford Jazz concert as well, I was happy to have as I said, been in the house to participate in The Angela Bofill Experience featuring: Angela Bofill, Maysa Leak, the singing voice of Angela Bofill; Dave Valentin, flute
Norman Connors, speciail guest; Mo Collins, piano; Greg Phillips, drums; Kevin Walker, bass; Lambert Moss, background vocals.

Afterward, fans lined up to chat with Bofill, as she signed autographs on CDs, posters and tee-shirts. I had a great interview with Ms. Bofill, as I found out this evening, as she was at her stylists (smile). It aired on Wanda's Picks Radio July 21 and again July 23.

I spotted several friends in the audience that evening, my good friend Alison Gates and Barbara Williams "Akosua" and her husband. My friend, Shelah Moody, a fantastic writer/journalist was conducting impromptu interviews with artists, which I hope to air in the coming week in a guest spot on Wanda's Picks either Wednesday or Friday morning, so look for it. Shows will air 7 AM-9 AM PST from August 3-18 on 237-4610, while I am on vacation.

(Check back for the names of those pictured and a complete list of the marvelous Angela Bofill Experience band.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Angola 3 Play at University of Houston

After arriving in Austin Thursday evening late, the next afternoon we drove to Houston for the opening night performance of Angola 3, Parnell Herbert's play about the lives of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King. The play is part of a weekend series of events commemorating the life of Carl B. Hampton, Black Panther, who was murdered by Houston police 40 years ago, this years: Art Exhibit and Auction at Project Row Houses, ground level of the historic Eldorado Ballroom, Strategies for Change Conference, Saturday, July 24, 9 AM to 3 PM, at Texas Southern University: Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Bldg.; Black Panther Party Exhibition Talk with Emory Douglass and Billy X at Project Row Houses, 2320 Elgin@ Dowling, then over to Emancipation Park for the Commemoration in the 3rd Ward: 3018 Dowling. Sunday, July 25 there will be a Black Panther Party Film Series from 2-6 PM and another performance of Angola 3 Play (8 PM) both at the University of Houston, Cullen Hall. The weekend concludes with a Gravesite Commemoration, 8400 Hirsch Road (6 PM).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wanda's Picks Radio July 21, 2010

Jo Kreiter and her collaborators have nationally recognized expertise in creating site-specific and apparatus-based performance work. Their current production, the result of Flyaway Productions’ 2010 Arts and Activism Apprenticeship premieres this evening and tomorrow, July 21-22, at CounterPulse in San Francisco. This summer program for girls is inspired by the company’s mission to make dances that live at the intersection of acrobatic spectacle and social justice. 15 young artists received a paid summer apprenticeship, facilitating both dance-making and community–based activism.

The 2010 summer season is based on Flyaway’s award winning “The Ballad of Polly Ann,” which won an Isadora Duncan special achievement award in 2010. “Polly Ann” celebrates the experience of women who built the Bay Area’s bridges. The workshop is led by Jo Kreiter, in collaboration with Flyaway’s seasoned company members Jennifer Chien, Kelly Kemp and Alayna Stroud.

The young artists come to Flyaway from the Mission, Bayview Hunter’s Point, the Avenues, South of Market and Oakland. Shows are: Wednesday-Thursday, July 21-22, 2010, 7 PM, at CounterPulse,1310 Mission Street @ 9th, San Francisco. Visit Tickets:$6-12 sliding-scale, Youth (14 & under) free. Visit or call (800) 838-3006 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (800) 838-3006      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

We close with a special interview with Angela Bofill who is bringing "The Angela Bofill Experience," narrated and written by her to the RRazz Room at Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street (between Ellis and O'Farrell), San Francisco, July 22-24, 2010. For tickets or call: (415) 394-1189.

Continuing her miraculous recovery from two devastating strokes (2006 and 2007), legendary Classic Soul/R&B/Jazz singer Angela Bofill will be appearing in a mini-tour with friends. The show will mark Angela's first public appearance since her stroke.The show will include video footage of her jammin' days in Central Park, and peppered with footage of her appearances on The American Music Awards (with Michael Jackson), The Tonight Show, and Soul Train.

Angela will provide stage narratives about the tunes, with some humorous anecdotes.

Singing the songs of Angela's career will be award winning vocalist Maysa (Stevie Wonder's female backup group Wonderlove and British jazz/funk/R&B band Incognito), and Grammy-winning jazz flutist Dave Valentin, who played an important part in Angela's early career, will provide his own stories as well as perform.

Special friends Phil Perry and Norman Connors will also perform. Sounds like a happy reunion.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Taste of Africa Fundraiser

Sunday, I was running late as usual.... I picked up my granddaughter and her uncle, after stopping by the store for a card for Baba Yah Mz Jahi, Javad Jahi's father--today there was a celebration for Javad at East Side Cultural Center. The plan was to stop by after we left Habitot Children's Museum where A Taste of Africa was held. Well as we drove up 73rd to the highway, the traffic was as slow as cold molasses, so we got off the highway and so began a saga peppered with police shootouts and multiple gunshot wounded.

Early Sunday, morning on I-580 several highway patrol policemen were shot by a gunman who was wearing amour. He was shot and taken into custody--the freeway was closed until 3 PM. We ended up driving to Lake Merritt then over to Telegraph by way of Broadway. We passed a lovely mural of Oscar Grant on a building on Telegraph near 17th Street.

Once we got to Berkeley, we found parking nearby and then entered the building through the wrong entrance--Habitot is in the building where the Hall of Health either was or still is. There is also a movie theatre there and the entrance to a restaurant. After going downstairs to Habitot, we were directed to enter on the Kittridge side, up the stairs outside and around the building.

One of the first persons we met was a Masai warrior, Ken Ndegwa, complete with spear and shield. He stood on one foot as he explained to us what he did traditionally and then posed for a photo next to the mural of the African Village.

Habitot is really geared for the 2-5 year old set, so my seven year olds couldn't fit the astronaut costumes. They could climb in the rockets sleeping bunks, play in the grocery store, water works area and hang out in the reading room which they did.

When we arrived there was enough time for the kids to paint their faces and explore the creative play areas. We didn't go into the dining area for the games and other children's activities, so when my kids got hungry we joined other patrons in the theatre for the dance performances and fashion show, hosted by Annette with the young dancers led by choreographer Catherine, who also drummed and sang. The lovely models showcased the fashions of a fine designer (whose name I didn't catch) as the DJs spun a nice selection of African-Diaspora traditional and popular dance music.

At the end of the full program which closed with a wonderful performance by Julia and the Chinyakare Ensemble from Zimbabwe Dancers who in one dance called for rain. With huge balafons and drums the three women dancers, bells and shakers tied to their legs took their bowls from their heads and set them down before rising to their feet while the drummers and other musicians played.

Annette was a great host/emcee. She gave us history lessons as we enjoyed the performances. I hadn't known the Kenyan garments had wise saying included in the fabric designs. I am not sure if this is a Kenyan detail or if other African fashions include text. Pretty awesome!

The hostess also quizzed us on our Kiswahili and gave us many opportunities to practice out African calls--the high pitched songs of praise for performances and performers we appreciated. The models also wore face paint, which Annette said was not just decorative, but meant something--just as scarification means something too.

The next time you meet someone with markings ask them to tell you about it. Annette told us.

After a powerful opening movement, Julia and her daughter and other dancer, returned the bowls to their heads as the music shifted to another song and the women began to pour a little meal onto a mat and then sift it into a large bowl. Everyone really enjoyed Julia's company and the Jili la Watoto kids knew where Zimbabwe was geographically.

These were some sharp little kids.

The Kialili Dancers were not professional, but the adolescent girls had plenty heart as did the youngest dancers with Jili a La Watoto, who'd only been rehearsing for 4 weeks their teacher told me after the performance.

There was a silent auction, of whom I recognized the work of Githinji Wambire He was there with his son. Githinji's work is know for his African continents made out of wood scraps...often abstract, but certainly recognizable. These were smaller more affordable ones. I should have bid on a piece....I really liked the Chinua piece. Writer and scholar Chinua Achebe was housed in one of the dwelling there. The other artists were: Wawi Amasha, Sarah Kinuthia-Criswell

The African Village Project needs $10,000 to build the exhibit which will stay at Habitot for 6-9 months before moving to other sites. For those interested in the African Village Project visit:

Photos are of the dancers and patrons in the theatre. Seated in the space travel area is Brianna and Maurice along with a really kind man who helped Bree with her face painting. There are photos of Catherine Ndungu-Case and Annette Ruah co-founders of Jiji La Watoto, along with other supporters.

The children and I went down the street for an ice cream--everyone else seemed to have a similar idea. We then walked to Olone Park and then back to the car. The kids played at the entrance to UC Berkeley where there was a large sculpture that looked like an eyeball. We then walked back to the car not far away.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Here's Looking at You: A Visual Essay of Jazz and Blues at the San Leandro Library through July 31, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010, the folks were out to listen to the great sounds of Damu Sudi Ali Trio, meet artists and look at the wonderful photos of showcased in Kamau Amen Ra's "Hears Looking at You: A Visual Essay of Jazz and Blues featuring the work of renown San Francisco Bay photographers: Kamau Amen Ra, TaSin Sabir, Edward Miller, Charles Rhone and James Knox. Each artist's work was unique, from Charles Rhone's classically striking black and white photos, to Edward Miller's amazing work which showcased his unique compositions--I had to ask him on several occasions: where were you positioned to get that shot? A lot of it was skill and agility tempered with luck--he was there with lens open (smile).

James Knox's work is well-known; one can see him sitting quietly at one of the few local clubs getting those shots, which often capture the moment as only an artist who loves the music can.

Yes, if anything, what one notices in this exhibit is the respect and honor the artists hold their subjects. Upstairs Knox and Miller both have images of Ms. Faye Carol, each unique and different--Knox a tight shot emphasizing Carol's face and hands, Miller's shot in black and white, is of the singer's body her expression one of joy.

The younger artist and the only woman, TaSin Sabir has a range of images, each artist described with a poetic quote. Pictured are some of our favorite singers and musicians, like Isaac Hayes, whom we miss, Al Green, and Randy Weston. She mixes and matches her cast highlighting more contemporary artists from the Bay like Martin Luther and Frankie Beverly juxtaposed with a woman leader from Belgium, Zap Mama.

Kamau Amen Ra's work this time was a combination of the tight shot: Goapele singing into a microphone the elegant line between her chin, mouth, and ear flow like poetry. Another cool photo was of Damu Sudii Ali who was there on the same piano that evening. Each photo had a story one had to ask Amen Ra for, since the plates were like serial numbers...brief.

This last exhibit is one of quite a few Amen Ra has been putting up throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. However, Amen Ra also knows how to let another do the work as well. He is exhibited in a solo show at the Joyce Gordon Gallery at the Oakland Merritt Hotel through this month.

The man really should start putting out books with his work...and include the stories too.

The San Leandro Library is located at 300 Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro and is open seven days a week: Monday-Thursday: 10-9; Friday: 10-5:30; Saturday: 10-5; Sunday: 12 noon to 4. For information about the exhibit call: (510) 654-7308.

Pictures top to bottom: Artists: James Knox, Kamau Amen Ra (curator), TaSin Sabir, Edward Miller, Charles Rhone; DaAimah, TaSin & her sister, Sabah; Damu Sudii Ali & Kamau; TaSin & Aja; TaSin; Kamau, Makmud, & 2 patrons; Charles Rhone's portrait of "India Cooke;" TaSin & her father, Bilal Sabir; Patrons and Artists; Two-thirds of Trio; Two thirds of Trio with Damu Sudii Ali; TaSin and patron; Bill, James, and Makmud

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo July 10-11 in Hayward

"I'm in love," the damsel said as she flew on the back of "Superman," a three year old Tennessee Walker. It just happened to be a few days past her birthday and without spent wishes or lit candles she certainly deserved to have at least one wish this special week and well "Superman" was da man to make it happen; girlfriend smiled all the way back to Oakland late late afternoon.

There is something about a fine black man on a fine looking black horse.

Wishes and dreams (smile). Talk about a positive affirmation.

I think the rodeo is my new pastime. Gone is UniverSoul Circus…Ringling Bros saw me for the last time last season. Bill Pickett is my new place to go and hang out with family and friends. This year my granddaughter, Brianna and I were joined by her mother, my older daughter Bilaliyah. I think she’s hooked too (smile).

We ran into old friends, friends who knew me before gray hair—yes, sistah girl was looking plenty hard to see under the color (smile). The weather was great as well on Sunday, July 11, 2010 at Rowell Ranch Rodeo Grounds on the Hayward/Castro Valley border. The title of the 25th Anniversary Bill Pickett Rodeo: “The Greatest Show on Dirt” is “A Taste of Passion Tour” and one could see the passion in the contestant’s eyes, especially those who were tasting dirt.

We sat on the opposite side of the arena this year—the side without the box seats. I liked it over there. It was more spacious—mellow, but then it’s mellow no matter where one finds herself on Bill Pickett weekends—everything is everything and everything is all right from the snow cones to the catfish and barbecue, not to mention tea cakes and peach cobbler.

I missed the entire second half of the Women’s Events—it was that mellow (smile); we stayed too long on the green during intermission. Since when is standing in a line fun? It was this afternoon as we watched kids take turns on the ponies and then after about 15-20 minutes my granddaughter decided to pass.

Mellow ambiance…BPIR needs to package it in a bottle for rush and bustle times and days. Instead of lavender tinctures, one can spray a bit of BPIR memories around the car…place behind one’s ear, on one’s temple.

Next time I will have to time the intermission or hope someone reads this and sends up a signal— an announcement will do, to folks who want to catch the second half: Deboraha Akin’s Ladies Barrel Racin’, Tianna Jackson’s Junior Barrel Racin’, Relay Racin’ and Myrtis Dightan’s Bull Ridin’ Event.

Yes, I missed a lot, so I will have to go to Bakersfield for Thursday, July 15, 6 PM to see the competition. My younger daughter said she will forgive me for missing her art show reception: "Hears Looking at You" A Visual Essay of Jazz and Blues," at the San Leandro Library 6:30-8:30 PM. Curated by photographer, Kamau Amen Ra, the show is up through July 31, 2010.

BPIR, that same evening, will be at the Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S P Street, Bakersfield, CA. Children: $7.00, Adults: $12.00, Box Seats: $15.00. Gloria Patterson is the Bakersfield, CA, Coordinator, (661) 703-7955. Visit

I have to find a friend to come along for the drive.

I hadn’t realized the Black Expo was this weekend as well, July 17-18, 2010, at the Oakland Coliseum. Saturday there is a Job Fair and College Fair and Sunday, there is a Entrepreneurial Think Tank, a Greek Step Show, and the Expo’s Top Chef. Both days feature celebrity concerts with Donnie Williams, Shirley Murdock, Hosea Chanchez (college fair host), Vivica Fox (Expo host). Of course, the opportunity to network with the many vendors is always a plus. Tickets are $8 pre-sale. Parking, at $10 is more than the ticket price, so take public transportation. Coliseum BART is walking distance.

I am happy folks are carrying on our sister C. Diane Howell’s vision. Just as the BPIR offers college scholarships to black youth, so did/does the Bay Area Black Expo. Visit

The BPIR will be in LA country this coming weekend, July 17-18. I'll have to alert my mom and sister so they can take the boys: Christian and Justin and Edwin to check it out.

Since I was late last year, I missed the opening ceremony: the musical rendition of Black National Anthem as a rider rode with Black Liberation flag: red, black and green. The announcer said how this was the flag for black America, when actually this flag represents more than black America, rather it represents Pan Africa or the African Diaspora; however, the American flag is also black America’s because we are American too.

The national show of colors for the branches of the military were represented by cowboys on horses who rode out as they were announced one at a time. Veterans were asked to stand to be honored. The show of patriotism concluded with Miko Marks’s singing of the national anthem.

There are benefits to being on time (smile). Another is the opportunity to get a free cowboy hat, care of one of the many BPIR sponsors. I am looking forward to seeing the rodeo at night in Bakersfield. I wonder if the Allensworth crowd drives down for the black rodeo—black town, black rodeo, kind of a nature, I would think.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo lost a key member of their family last month with the death of Linda Belle Lucente, of Phoenix, Arizona, co-founder of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. Mrs. Lucente died after suffering a brain hemorrhage June 30, 2010. Her funeral was July 4, 2010 at Tanner AME Chapel on Phoenix. She was 59 years old. Linda co-founded the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) with concert promoter Lu Vason (BPIR President and CEO) in 1984, after introducing Vason to rodeo when she took him, her best friend Joyce Reynolds, her sister Karen Motley, and her two sons Troy and Shane to Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 4, 1977 where they both thought it would be a great idea to produce an all Black rodeo. Thus was born the Bill Pickett Invitation Rodeo. Isn’t it ironic that she would time her departure around the same dates (smile) all too soon for her friends and family, but when we leave is not up to us.

As I said earlier, this year, I was enjoying hanging out once again with the folks. My daughter connected with the parents of some of her former Stockton high school classmates when Bree wanted to ride a horse and the Brotherhood Riders were out in their purple shirts giving kids and adults rides. One of her classmate's fathers remembered her because her name was so unusual. Also, in Stockton at that time, there weren’t that many black families in the suburb just outside the city limits where Bilaliyah's father lived. I could see Bilaliyah trying to figure out how she was going to get Bree to Stockton to ride and participate in the Brotherhood Riders' equestrian program.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a piece I wrote last year in the program. I’m glad Mr. Lu Vason liked my story. I look forward to attending the next event this week and filling folks in on the outcome.

It was cool meeting Sonya Hopkins and her grandmother, 89 (birthday in March) who is visiting from North Carolina (or is it South?). She came up for the rodeo and for one of her relative’s graduation. Sonya certainly did her proud. There were several elders in the arena this afternoon. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is a great place to take one’s family members—there isn’t an age that is too old or too young. How many activities are there like this?

I remember when one of the BPIR promoters and educators came to the College of Alameda during Black History Month several years ago. He spoke about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Black History in the West which of course, includes black cowboys…a history many are still ignorant of. It was a great presentation and I wanted to attend that year, but was out of town. I remember rodeos when I was a kid at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, but the rodeos at the Cow Palaces and Country Fairs have nothing on the BPIR. There at those rodeos one might see a few black cowboys—when I was a kid I only remember one or two, no women, no children and not many black people in the audience either. I never even thought about hanging out until dusk talking to the cowboys and their families like I do now at the black rodeo.

I mean, no one kicked us out this afternoon and clearly people needed to pack up and head to the next stop, but the pace was mossey-along-friendly. It seemed like we could hang out as long as we liked, the gate closed only after we went through (smile).

One of the younger contestants, Deon Osborne, is 17. He'd been turned onto riding at a young age. Other contestants were older and some younger and we applauded them all, even if they didn't score. There were no retakes or second chances. I guess rodeo is similar to life...sometimes in life we don't get an opportunity to do something over.

Competing were college students, registered nurses, business executives...the list was varied and extensive regarding the career paths of the cowboys and cowgirls competing.

One of the Brotherhood Riders said sharing his passion with the youth was his "community service," not how he made a living.

Today during the first few events: Bareback and Bull Doggin’ cowboys were not staying on and if they did get a bull roped, they weren’t able to get it on its back and tied. It was tricky and too funny—the animals were winning Sunday afternoon hands down. On the women’s Steer Undecoratin’ the women did a lot better, but again the animals did better. Stephanie Haynes, who was celebrating a birthday, won with a 1.75 second, time sec. I thought I’d heard the announcer say, Kanesha Jackson got 1.7 second, but I guess not. My girl, Sonya Hopkins came in with 2.59 seconds.

Maybe next year I’ll try to follow the rodeo for all its California events. That might be fun. I certainly respect horses and their friends after riding a horse in Haiti up to the Citadel at Cap Haitian.

There were a lot of youngsters riding after the BPIR show…I mean really tiny folks with their parents or grandparents or friends, some all alone. The uninitiated youngsters on the ground looked captivated and entranced. Animal husbandry, something kids involved in the 4-H Clubs and even boys and girl scouts provide a vehicle for kids to learn respect for all life forms, like animals, self-discipline and other values like compassion and responsibility while having fun.

Many adults waiting for rides after the rodeo were decked out in rodeo regalia--six gallon hats, calico shirts, branded belt buckles, spurs and all yet sat trembling in their boots as they awaited their turns. One cowboy told a woman as she sat in the saddle that horses, animals in general, were very smart and could sense if someone was scared.

Her attitude went through an appropriate metamorphosis before she and her companion walked off. After her elevated tour around the grounds, she stepped away from the experience with new confidence.

I remember seeing these kids riding sheep partially shorn. Most didn't stay on its back long, some kids passed and didn't come out of the gate at all. It takes a certain degree of nerve to be a cowgirl or cowboy...this is often before one gains the necessary skills. As we were leaving one horse just lay down in the field and rolled herself over like she had this big itch she needed to shake off. Her owner said the grass was making her horse’s stomach growl, she was that hungry.