We went to see Eek-A-Mouse last night at a free concert in San Jose’s downtown park. This is our fourth time to see Eek-a-Mouse and it doesn’t get much better than free concert, outdoors, summer nights, fairly cheap beer, surrounded by a bunch of thugs, all chilled out because it is, after all, a reggae concert in northern California.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for four years now but usually we go to outdoor concerts in San Francisco. With our move to Livermore, San Jose is closer so it may become our port of call. Anyway, right away, as we walked to the park, I was surprised by three things: how everybody was dressed in black, how many dudes there had gold teeth (can I just say, ew), and completely beside the gold teeth, how many tough guys were hanging around. What I mean to say is, every other person looked like a gangsta.
Maybe to outsiders, the Bay Area is lumped together as one big cauldron of weird-ass rainbow-wearin’ gay lovin’ hippiefied liberals. But for the record, Read More
We saw Femi Kuti live at the Fillmore last night. It was a lively show and you couldn’t help but dance! African jazz beats, three sexy women backup singers (I wish young women obsessed with being thin could somehow see that all their extra poundage didn’t diminish their sexiness one iota–sexiness is an attitude, not a size), an amazing voice…it all added up to 2 hours of pure adrenaline and dancing.
When I went, I was feeling the writer’s blues but I already felt better a few songs in when he sang “Do Your Best,” a song he recorded with Mos Def and which you can listen to on Youtube if you click on the link. You can only do your best. Then you will have to leave the rest. Ask your mama, she supported you. If you ask your papa, him supported you. Fabulous song to begin with but last night it reminded me that as an artist, I can put my best into everything and that’s all I can ask of myself. I can’t ask for success or popularity, I can’t make those things happen. But I can keep working to the best of my abilities and “leave the rest.” While it didn’t make my worries disappear completely (no, those keep coming back, like a dog to his vomit), I sure felt better for awhile.
This has nothing to do with the fabulous Femi, but I love the Fillmore as a concert venue. I’m always excited whether they’ll have made a poster for that night’s concert (they give them free), and I love the free apples for concert goers, which always leaves a sweet taste in your mouth as you leave the venue and head home.
After my post, “The Emotion that Defines You,” my friend and editor Casey Hill over at New Pages asked me to list some angsty music I listen to. Turns out, Casey is driven by angst, too. Or I could be speaking out of turn–maybe he just likes music like that. So, Casey, here’s the music that represents this hungry artist in all moods. Read More
I’ve mentioned before how I’ll listen to the same song or band, over and over, while I’m writing a particular novel. It helps me tap into the defining emotion of that particular character.
I’ve always known there were certain songs that reminded me of other people. For example, when I listen to “These Are the Days” by Busy Signal, I’ll always think of one of our friends who died suddenly last summer of a heart-attack. Read More
There’s a reason why I don’t usually go drinking and karaoke-ing in the middle of the week and here’s why: I started off singing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver and ended up belting out the feminist diatribe “What’s Up?” by Four Non-Blondes. (Kudos to my friend Ashawnta, who did a bang up job singing that song a couple years ago when she was visiting.)
and I try, oh my God do I try Read More
When I’m working on a novel, I usually listen to one or two c.d.’s obsessively. For example, I wrote The Confessional while listening to Sparta and The Mars Volta, both classic El Paso bands. I wrote Killing Isaac to Talib Kweli, Damian Marley (especially “Road to Zion”), and Blonde Redhead–music which evoked the rage and religion dominating that book. I wrote Witches, Healers, and This Thing Called the Future listening to Zola and Freshly Ground. Zola’s a South African kwaito star, and Freshly Ground does South African Afro-funk.
My writer’s group suggested that listening to music allowed me to get deeper into my character’s minds. I agreed, since the type of music I listen to for each novel has been so different. It made me feel like an artiste.
But my dad broke the news to me that really it’s just classic PavlovÂ conditioning. Like a dog salivating when he hears the little bell that signals he’s about to be fed, listening to that music signals to me that I’m about to be creative.
Pavlov isn’t nearly as romantic as being an artiste.