Advocacy Day, Alice Smith, Brass-A-Holics and DC Jazz Festival — Summer IS Here

Wow, I can’t believe how insane things have been the past couple of weeks. I have entirely too much to talk about — but don’t want to turn this into a PhD dissertation. I’ll try and post a couple of times before I dive head first into the Jazz Fest’s weekend concerts — try.

The new job is going VERY well, we had a very successful Advocacy Day (for those of you outside the Washington, DC “Beltway,” this is an event that brings in volunteers to meet with their Members of Congress about a specific topic) and I’m settling into my social media guru-ness. However, if there are any random stories/ideas you would like to share with me about successful social media campaigns you’ve been involved in…let me know. I’m open to anything.

Music-wise, I’ve been in heaven since June 20. The past week has included seeing Alice Smith and the Brass-A-Holics in concert, and finding out that some my my favs are swinging through here in the coming months (I have absolutely no shame with buying tickets 6 months out — none). So, let me do these posts chronologically so I don’t get lost in my own rabbit hole.

Alice Smith

Most of you know, I’m probably one concert away from receiving a “cease and desist” order from Alice Smith’s management. I’ve been a fan for years, and — other than the concert when she opened up for Gary Clark, Jr. (sold out before I could get my credit card out) — I’ve seen Alice every time she’s come to D.C. Shoot, I went with friends two both concerts when Citizen Cope and Alice played the 9:30 Club Thanksgiving 2012. I’m a professional groupie, but don’t judge, I’m not alone as I’m now recognizing people from previous Cope and Alice concerts on a regular — I have family I don’t recognize.

Let me get to the point — last Friday, a crew of friends and I descended on the Howard Theatre to take in the songstress. I can’t begin to describe how the second she walks on the stage, Alice takes over your world. Over-priced drinks? Oh well. Bad service? At least the waitress isn’t disturbing us. When it comes to experiencing Alice Smith live, you only care about one singular entity – Alice Smith. At one point she was just finished one of the singles from her latest album, “She,” if I can remember it was “Another Love,” when you start hearing a crew of men just losing it and the main level of the theater turned into the Dogg Pound from the “original” Arsenio Hall Show. We were rollin’ when you started hearing the barking — and, it was loud, we were on the balcony level.

Alice taking in the love

Alice taking in the love

The first time I saw Alice was at The Birchmere back 2009. What I love about her is that, even after all these years, I never see the same performance twice. Alice doesn’t shy away from tweaking her songs, and the phenomenal relationship she has with her band members comes through with the playful way we interacts with them — and how flawless they switch up songs.

Last week, we got a raw and dirty Alice –not in a bad way…I mean that with the utmost respect. I got to listen to a woman who was so obviously influenced by the same female rockers I was growing up. She threw on some covers from The Pretenders and Fleetwood Mac, and switched up her own songs to add even more edge to them. I’ll be honest, I LOVE LOVE LOVE edgy women singers, there’s something about them and the stories they share with you.

Alice feelin' it while singing "Fool for You"

Alice feelin’ it while singing “Fool for You”

Unfortunately, I have noticed that although the packed house (which included men and women of all backgrounds and skin colors) was jamming hard to each and every song — and knew all the words to the Don’t Get Me Wrong and Dreams — the record industry just doesn’t know what to do with singers like Alice, Res or even MeShell NdgeOcello (all of whom have a VERY dedicated fan base).

So…if you haven’t had a chance to see Alice perform live (and BET’s Black Girls Rock doesn’t count!), keep an eye out for her via your Bandsintown or Song Kick app — you’ll be amazed. And remember, sometimes the best music out there isn’t on contact loop on the radio.

Tomorrow: Why I love the Brass-A-Holics (and why I either need to move to New Orleans, or they need to move up here).

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Quick Post – Go and buy A “Couple” Friends today!

kindred-the-family-soul-a-couple-friends-promoI want to take a moment and encourage you true R&B lovers to head on over to ITunes or Amazon to download A “Couple” Friends, the new album from Kindred – The Family Soul. You’re not going to regret it.

I’ve been a fan and avid supporter of Kindred since their first album, Surrender to Love, came out in 1999. Actually, I was fortunate enough to be a neighbor of Aja Graydon’s cousin who let me listen to a couple tracks before it was released – and I was hooked. After that, I was attending concerts at the 9:30 Club or the Birchmere every time they were in the District.

One of my all time favs was when Aja – looking way too cute as usual — was pregnant and every time she jumped up during a song you literally felt the audience pause and hold their collective breath. This was one of the few times I ventured close to the stage (I was with my neighbor and some friends) and you just felt the universe pause. But, hey, they were having a blast and NOTHING was going to stop it from happening.

IslBGWhat I love about Kindred is that their songs are true to the heart – couples with little ones completely relate to “Sneak a Freak.” Done with all the nonsense happening around you? Throw on “Faraway” and nod your head. – what you hear/see is, from what I can sense, how Fatim Dantzler and Aja are like in real life, and I have nothing but respect for that. Actually, I’d love to hang out with them.

So, take my word for it – if you’re in need of some really good music, music that will make you smile and nod your head, just do yourself a favor and buy A “Couple” Friends, you won’t regret it.

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Oh MY GAWD…..It’s My Birthday!!

35704-I-Can-t-Keep-Calm-It-s-My-Birthday-

Nope…I can’t. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a couple years now — unfortunately, my big plans on being in New Orleans didn’t happen, but I’m not letting that ruin my special day — nope. Anyway, the DC Jazz Festival is going to take care of regrets of not being there, especially with my favs Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Rebirth Brass Band and Brass-A-Holics performing that week. It’s like they brought New Orleans to me — thank you, guys.

Anyway…..I hope you all enjoyed my list of 39 of my fav songs, and I’m assuming you want to know the one song that was running through my head when I woke up this morning…..

40. Return of the Mack — Mark Morrison

Ok….first of all — this song is the perfect example of why New York Undercover, actually Thursday nights on Fox, was everything to a generation. That show brought us songs like Return of the Mack, Tootsie Roll, and Tell Me What You Like. We got to see performances of Mary J. Blige, Teena Marie, Aaliyah, Johnny Gill, Tito Puente…I could go on — thanks to David Wolf (yep, THAT David Wolf), and Andre Harrell — New York Undercover was a music junkie’s dream.

Also — I honestly believe that when one turns 40, well specifically a woman, you just don’t give a f*ck, and this song pretty much sums up the mentality of us who are making things happen. So, apparently, my inner-psyche decided to give me some extra swagger…..this has officially been added back into my into my playlist for at least the rest of the summer.

So — Happy Birthday to me!!! I can’t wait to hook up some some of my crew later and for the insanity to start.

minions_full

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My 40 Favorite Songs to Celebrate My 40 Awesome Years

Now that I’m back in the swing of thngs with this blog, a good friend from high school asked me to bring back Flashback Fridays. For a while I was blowing up my friends’ FB timelines with random videos from back in the day — some we all remember, some we forgot, but geeked out when remembers. Saturday is my 40th birthday — and to celebrate, I’m going to share 40 of my all-time favorite songs. Please note: This list could go on and on and on…..esp. once I start playing music and having a couple of drinks.

Quick rules:

  • This list isn’t ranked in anyway, this is done completely off the top of my head — no rhyme or reason. I will probably look at this tomorrow and scream when I realized I forgot something — but I’m strictly just doing this like a word association game.
  • I will try and keep from listing a ton of songs from the same artists. Everyone who knows me knows there is a special place in my heart for New Edition, New Kids on the Block, Luther Vandross and Bon Jovi
  • Holiday days are not included as I only listen to them between Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • These songs will be like me — older (I know some “newer” ones will sneak in, but I’m going to dig in the crates and really bring out some old stuff
  • I will add comments and, possibly, videos to some of the songs. Why? Because I can.

And……. drum-roll-please Here we go….

1. Manic Monday — The Bangles
2. Blackberry Molasses — Mista
3. Thunderstruck — AC/DC
4. Let the Beat Hit ‘Em — Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
5. Cross My Broken Heart — The Jets

Side note: I love The Jets — I can still do the dance from the video. Actually, it was done while crossing 7th St. by the Verizon Center while two of my friends tried not to fall out in front of traffic.

6. Let’s Get Serious — Jermaine Jackson
7. Girls They Love Me — Heavy D.
8. Good Life — Inner City
9. Shining Star — Earth, Wind & Fire
10. Turn Your Love Around — George Benson

side note: This song brings me back to 3rd grade field trips to the roller skating rink. Every time he sang the chorus you had to turn around and go the opposite way. Oh..such simpler times

11. Today is a Good Day — Ice Cube (perfect song for a Friday)
12. Bugaboo — Ed O. G & the Bull Dogs
13. I’d Die Without You — P.M. Dawn
14. Save a Prayer for Me Now — Duran Duran
15. Saturdays — De La Soul

side note: This song is what helps me start weekends — De La and the rest of the Native Tongue crew will have my heart forever.

16. Ladies First — Queen Latifah
17. Poison — Bell Biv Devoe
18. Part Time Suckers — Boogie Down Productions (I can’t remember what I had to eat the day before, but I can break down Part Time Suckers on demand)
19. MacArthur Park — Donna Summer
20. Stop to Love — Luther Vandross

side note: I am a HUGE fan of Luther Vandross. His double CD “The Best of Luther, The Best of Love” was the first CD I had. My parents gave it to me in my Easter Basket — this is how cool my parents are, who thinks to give their 13yo daughter a Luther Vandross CD? AND, I still have it

21. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright — Naughty By Nature
22. Uknowhowwedo — Bahamedia
23. Count Me Out — New Edition
24. Hypnotize — Notorious B.I.G.
25. Do What You Do — Jermaine Jackson

side note: I have no excuse, but I remember listening to this album nonstop when my dad brought it home as part of a record club

26. People Everyday — Arrested Development
27. Paul Revere — Beastie Boys (another classic bar/party song)
28. More Than A Woman — Aaliyah
29. Bonita Applebum — A Tribe Called Quest
30. You Got It (The Right Stuff)

side note: Purely guilty pleasure. I love this song, especially when it get to the hook before the chorus

31. Sunday Morning — No Doubt
32. Benz or Beamer — Outkast (The Jersey Drive soundtrack is phenomenal)
33. Living on the Edge — Aerosmith
34. Slam — Beenie Man
35. Forever My Lady — Jodeci

side note: I really miss the days of girl and guy groups. Truly miss songs like this

36. Put Your Mouth on Me — Eddie Murphy
37. Can We Talk? — Tevin Campbell (he’s coming to DC for a concert this month, I’m seriously contemplating about going)
38. I Would Die for You — Prince
39. Welcome to the Terror Dome — Public Enemy

40………I’m not 40 yet, I’ll post the last one tomorrow (before I start my insane birthday weekend. Plus, my brain has stopped working. So the first song in my head when I wake up will be #40. Thanks to any of you who suffered through my rambling list. Like I said before, it was all off the top of my head — some songs listed led to other songs listed. I know there are a TON of classics that I’m missing, and that doesn’t mean I don’t like them…damn, that was way too easy to complete.

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It’s Finally Here!!! Yassin Gaye: The Return Side II

I have to admit, I have a serious crush on Amerigo Gazaway. The mixes he releases are pure art. Case in point, the Soul Mates series — the first two being Yasiin Bey and Marvin Gaye. At first glance I was a bit confused as to how Yasiin’s lyrics would vibe with Marvin’s songs….but, damn if they didn’t combine like the two of them were working together all those years ago.

So, when I heard there was a second installment coming out a couple of weeks ago I almost cheered at my desk — and I’m a pretty loud cheerer (ask any of my friends). Every day I haunted Amerigo’s Soundcloud page breathlessly waiting for the new album to appear…..and today — it did:

Go forth my friends….partake in the awesomeness of Yasiin Gaye. Thank you, Amerigo for letting us enjoy what you so obviously love doing.

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Quick Music Heads Up — Meshell Ndgeocello’s new album is all that

Comet Come to MeI’ve been a huge Meshell NdgeOcello fan for years and her new album, “Comet Come to Me,” that will drop tomorrow is….just wow.

I jumped on the change to pre-order the new album months ago, so I was able to download it, with bonus tracks, yesterday. Unfortunately, after an afternoon spent at a local wine festival, I totally forgot to download it until I got home from work this evening.

Halfway into the album and I’m seriously considering lighting some candles and opening one of the bottles of wine I bought yesterday. Meshell’s soft voice, and booming bass guitar, has a way with my psyche. “Who Wears the Crown” — one of the bonus tracks — is just mesmerizing. Her cover of Whodini’s classic “Friends” is so out of left field (and I mean that with the utmost respect) that you have to listen to it a couple of times to just fully digest what she did.

Shoot, do yourself a favor and, if you didn’t take advantage of the pre-order a couple of months ago, just go ahead and buy it tonight so it’ll automatically download when you’re up and about tomorrow. You won’t regret it.

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Hello….Summer!

Michael Franti & Spearhead perform at the Living Social concert 2011

Michael Franti & Spearhead perform at the Living Social concert 2011

Wow, the past four months have been a bit insane in my world – looking for, and then getting a new job, then leaving the old one behind has been a bit intense; and the reason why I’ve been M.I.A. However, now that I’ve climbed out of the hole known as “Being an Adult” I am now getting ready for the best season – Summer.

For me, summer has always been that time of the year when I would be able to attend concerts, or at least hear them from where I lived on Cape Cod. About 2 miles from my house was theCape Cod Melody Tent – a really neat theater in the round that was literally underneath a giant tent. While growing up I saw acts like The Monkees, New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, The Pharcyde and Kriss Kross (I was tricked by a friend into going to the Kriss Kross concert as I thought it was just Ed Lover and The Pharcyde – the things we do for people).

Part of my crew at Hot August Blues in 2012

Part of my crew at Hot August Blues in 2012

Summer concerts, and music festivals, are such a great way to get out and listen to great music. In the next month I’ll be seeing the phenomenal Alice Smith at Howard Theatre – yes, every time she comes to DC I see her, it’s mandatory – as well as attending the DC Jazz Festival. Being as it’s the 10 anniversary, this year’s Jazz Fest is actually turning into an awesome event. There will be a weekend-long concert at the Capitol Riverfront with the likes of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Gregory Porter, Brass-A-Holics and the awesome Mos Def making appearances. WHAAA!? My fav group The Brass-A-Holics will be taking over at Hamilton Live –one of the “main stages” in the District — and a ton of family-friendly events to get the young ones into the arts. It’ll be five days of pure summer fun in and around the city.

How can you say "no" to helping the children?

How can you say “no” to helping the children?

I’ll admit, I’m a bit psycho when it comes to summertime and the concert options that are laid out — but, I have to say, I can’t pass up any opportunity to, hopefully, sit outside to listen to beautiful music with a cold drink in my hand. So, to make sure I’m not spending the entire paycheck on concerts, I try to at least start building my wishlist around March of every year. Apps like Bandsintown and Songkick are a Godsend to me. I have Songkick on my IPod, and by scanning my music it automatically tags and follows the artists in my library. These lists can be edited and updated by hand, if I want, on its website. What I love about both of these services is that I can determine which city, or cities, I want to keep track of and I am sent push notifications or emails when an artists on my list announces a concert.

Yes, I have at times fallen into a rabbit hole of concert planning, but I’d rather know too much than be caught off guard when someone I really like comes into town and I don’t find out until it’s too late.

So, be forewarned, I’m almost settled in at the new job and I have a ton of concerts I’m about to hit up — this means I’ll be rambling up a storm in the coming weeks. To the folks who have been kind enough to send me clips of their music: I’m not ignoring you, I’ll be listening and posting in the coming day. I appreciate you sharing your stuff with me, and also wanting me to help pass all this good stuff on.

Until the next time…..

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