TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Poem for Fannie Lou Hamer

"With the people, for the people, by the people. I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, cause that's what really happens."
--Fannie Lou Hamer

Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, The Majorette

by

E.P. McKnight

A hero becomes some, some become a hero
Making a difference, aside putting their ego
Life’s struggles, issues so many were forced
To pursue, eradicate, many others coerced
There was no back seat in Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer,
Confronting all, a manner, no one would blame her
With determination, her destiny to fulfill
Being unstoppable, even when feeling ill
Twelve sisters and brothers, her family had
With little education, she was a curious lad
Noting the difference between Black and White
Her spirit knew, this couldn’t be right
Going to church was barren, just routine
Sunday after Sunday, no changes to be seen
William Chapel was beginning to attest
Martin Luther King, our determination rest
Perry Hamer, her husband, backbone and tower
Never wavering, stood still, every devoted hour
All good privileges, appeared out of sight
But she was determined to make things right
Being sick and tired of being sick and tired
Changing the System, proved no easy ride
The Winona jail beatings, humanly horrific, bad
Standing for equal rights, made the police mad
Mrs. Hamer took abuse, suffered beatings long enough
But life before Civil Rights struggles was also rough
She was beaten for no apparent reason
As if she had committed a crime, treason
She suffered a lot, but proudly stood still
Not letting no one break her stride, her will
Marchings, lynchings, bus rides did not deter
With faith, fight, support, Ruleville got better
Joining SCLC, to bring about a better change
The more she did, the more she got a name
Voting rights, equal rights, she fought to pass
Determined these denials would not last
Beatings and jailings, her course she remain
Determined to tell the world, Mississippi ’s game
People being denied rights to vote and just live
Always the Negro denied and had to give
With determination, she went from the cotton fields
To the Halls of Congress to eradicate the ills
Born into family of sharecroppers, seeking a better way
Hard work, no rights, forced her to stand one great day
She stood this day, determined she had something to say
June Johnson, Ivesta Simpson, Lawrence Guyot, Annelle Ponder
And Ms. Hamer suffered atrocities, unveiled publicly like thunder
The National Democratic Convention, she truthfully spoke
The World was alarmed, on the details nearly choked
People in the southern town, a better life so held back
By chicken eating preachers, no teaching teachers who lacked
She ran for office of State Senate
Didn’t win, Charles McLaurin go in it
Freedom Farm was dear to her heart
Feeding the hungry from the upstart
MFDP fought a strong, courageous fight
Identifying wrongs, to make them right
Many fought and died, names untold
Just like our forefathers, transported and sold
Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Swerner, Andrew Goodman
Gave their lives, fought tirelessly, in spite of the Ku Klux Klan’s men
NJ, Washington , Chicago , MFDP convention she attended
Just to be seated required much effort, much amendment
Credentials committee, the President, Hoover , had to see
We was determined not to let things remain and be
Some enslaved, while others are free
Not the way, God intended to be
FBI and Justice Department, did a lot to stop
But she was determined to reach the top
Being seated at the convention, sent many for a swirl
We’re here, “ America is home, like the rest of the world.”

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Hype of Change and Fannie Lou Hamer

"We didn't come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn't come all this way for no two seats, 'cause all of us is tired…I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
--Fannie Lou Hamer

"We have to make it work. Ain't nothing going to be handed to you on a silver platter, nothing. That's not just black people, that's people in general, masses. See, I'm with the masses.... You've got to fight. Every step of the way, you've got to fight."
--Fannie Lou Hamer on the question can the system work ?

The daddy is proud of Barack Obama for the brilliant presidential campaign he is running, for his intellect, for his temperament and the great convention speech he just delivered, a speech signaling not only his focus on average Americans and our brave soldiers, but his commitment to go after that warmonger John McCain. But after the democratic national convention, after the crazy hats, after the long-winded speeches, after the stage upon which Obama spoke has been removed to make way for a college football game, the daddy is thinking about the tremendous sacrifice that so many Americans, white and black, of the previous generation made to lay the foundation and set the real “stage” for “change we can believe in.”

The daddy is thinking about another time, 1964, another democratic convention. He is thinking about Fannie Lou Hamer and her appearance before the Credential Committee of that convention, because her mere presence there represented not only the resilience of a civil rights movement that could not be turned around. It represented the personal sacrifices that so many ground-level workers made to end apartheid in southern party of the United States and move this country closer to the just society that it proclaimed and promoted in its precious documents but denied in real life to a large portion of its citizenry.

The daddy is thinking of Fannie Lou Hamer, her composure in telling the Credentials Committee how she and other civil rights workers were beaten for trying to register blacks to vote, and her courage in standing up to power, to Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey for daring to suggest that they cease their fight for increased black participation in the so-called democratic process, something we now take for granted.

Background

For those who don’t know, or who may have forgotten, Fannie Lou Hamer was born the youngest in a family of 20 children, in 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, to Ella and Jim Townsend. They were sharecroppers. She and her husband, Perry Hamer, a tractor driver, worked for eighteen years on a cotton plantation owned by W. D. Marlow. She initially got involved with the civil rights movement and organizing black to vote as a result of meeting Rev. James Bevel, Field Secretary of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee). Now, during this time, if you were black, registering to vote could get you beaten or jailed. Or it could get your farm burned… or it could get you lynched. It was not for the faint of heart. But Fannie was the first to volunteer to register.

Though she lacked an extensive formal education (she left school at the age of 12), Fannie proved to be an effective and popular activist. She got many blacks to register and, when the other volunteers were feeling low, she lifted their spirits by singing gospel songs and getting them to join in. And her popularity and success at getting blacks to register to vote brought attention from racist whites, including racist white policemen. It was just a matter of time before she would be arrested or worse.
She was harassed constantly. Whites poisoned two of her mules “to teach her a lesson.” She was told by the plantation owner that, because of her work in registering blacks to vote, she had to leave the farm. She left that same night and went to stay with friends. But whites shot into her friend’s home because she was there. She received threatening phone calls constantly; and she was arrested and beaten in jail.

In 1964, blacks organized The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer was elected Vice-Chair. The purpose of the group was to expose the all-white, anti-civil rights Mississippi delegation. The argument the MFDP made before the Credentials Committee was that the all-white delegation was invalid and should not be seated in its present form, because it did not represent all the people of Mississippi.

Now, of all the MFDP members, Hamer received the most attention. Perhaps this was due to the fact that, to the national press, she seemed so unique. She wore a printed dress, she spoke with a heavy southern accent, using an even heavier dose of ebonics, and she sang those classic gospel songs (whether the cameras were on or not, because she was deeply religious).

And the national press brought her full story in America's living room of how she and other civil rights workers were beaten in jail for registering black folks to do something that they took for granted in Northern cities—vote. First, said Hamer, they took another black woman and civil rights worker (June Johnson) out of her room and beat her. Then they took another --Annelle Ponder—out of her room and beat her.

Hamer said she could hear the beatings and the screaming, but she could also hear Annelle pray for the men who beat her. When Annelle came back, her eyes were covered in blood and her face was swollen. Then they came for her.

"...Then three white men came into my room. One was a state highway policeman (he had the marking on his sleeve)... They said they were going to make me wish I was dead. They made me lay down on my face and they ordered two Negro prisoners to beat me with a blackjack. That was unbearable. The first prisoner beat me until he was exhausted, then the second Negro began to beat me. I had polio when I was about six years old. I was limp. I was holding my hands behind me to protect my weak side. I began to work my feet. My dress pulled up and I tried to smooth it down. One of the policemen walked over and raised my dress as high as he could. They beat me until my body was hard, 'til I couldn't bend my fingers or get up when they told me to. That's how I got this blood clot in my eye - the sight's nearly gone now. My kidney was injured from the blows they gave me on the back."

Three long, painful days after the beating, Hamer was taken to a doctor. Then she stayed with friends for a month, but she never quite recovered. The beating had done permanent damage to her kidneys and eyes, and she could no longer walk without crutches or a cane. But soon, she resumed her work as Field Secretary of the SNCC.

“That illiterate woman”

President Lyndon Johnson clearly saw Hamer's presentation before the Credentials Committee and accompanying publicity as a threat to him taking Mississippi over Goldwater; and he demonstrated his irritation by calling her “that illiterate woman.” So he dispensed Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Walter Reuther to try to talk the MFDP our of their protest or to settle on a compromise. And when Hubert Humphrey told the MFDP that he was going to run for Vice-president on the Lyndon Johnson ticket and that further protests by them could hurt his chances, Hamer chastised him as only she could:

"Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important than four hundred thousand black people's lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination] this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about. Senator Humphrey, I'm going to pray to Jesus for you."

In the end, the MFDP rejected the compromise, and Hamer went back to organizing, even becoming a delegate from Mississippi in 1968, using that position to speak out against the Vietnam war. But the MFDP's efforts to get seated and their arguments proved to be very important. It gave the entire nation a lesson on how racism within institutions “up North” (in this case within the national democratic party) as well as “down South” helped to maintain segregation. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way:

"Their testimony educated a nation and brought the political powers to their knees in repentance, for the convention voted never again to seat a delegation that was racially segregated.”

Dear Barack Obama:

When you become president of the United States, in your acceptance speech, please inform some and remind others of the great sacrifices that some brave Americans made so you could get there. Tell them about the long road that so many good Americans had to walk before you could put your hand on a bible and pledge to protect us from harm. Tell them that some never finished that walk, so you're finishing it for them, for all of us.

Tell them about Fannie Lou Hamer, the youngest in a family of 20 children, the woman who became "sick and tired of being sick and tired," the woman who was beaten almost unconscious but who got off her back and continued the fight, continued to speak wisdom to power.

Tell them to thank God for bringing us a woman in a printed dress and okra smile to fight among us, to make America live up to its ideals of a democratic and just society.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Historic Night, a Long Struggle

"Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
--Dr. Martin Luther King, civil rights speech at the march on Washington, August 28, 1963

"We are united with the Democrats behind the Obama-Biden presidential campaign to change America," declared Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW) after Obama's nationally televised acceptance speech. "It's high time to return our government to hard working families."
--from PRNewswire-USNewswire

Tonight, the son of a single mother who at one point used food stamps, accepted his party's nomination for president of the United States, the first African American nonminee from a major political party.

Tonight, on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, more than 84,000 jubilant, dancing, singing, chanting supporters packed the Denver's Invesco field to cheer Barack Obama on as he called for a break from the past eight years and new day for America.


Pat Bucahanon, conservative Republican and commentator for MSNBC, got it right when he said that Obama's speech was not a liberal speech or conservative speech so much as an American speech.

What he did not say was that
no Obama campaign would have happened were it not for the Jessie Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, the Shirley Chisholms and the Fannie Lou Hamers who ran before him. There would be no Obama campaign were it not for the nameless, faceless people who marched and bled and even died for a new day in America and the Ella Bakers and Bayard Rustins and Stokely Carmichaels and James Formans who organized them.

What they didn't say is that meaningful change always comes
from the ground up.








Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Freddie King, Blues Master, Part II

"Freddie King was one of the kingpins of modern blues guitar. Along with Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Magic Sam, King spearheaded Chicago's modern blues movement in the early '60s and helped set the stage for the blues-rock boom of the late '60s. His influence helped preserve a legacy characterized by searing, aggressive guitar solos and the welding of blues and rock into one cohesive sound. "
--All About Jazz
“The lord sure enough put you here to play the blues.”

--Howlin Wolf to Freddie King

As mentioned in the biography, Freddie King was born in Gilmer, Texas, on September 3, 1934. Although he learned quite a bit from his mother and others who played guitar in the area like fellow Texan Lighning Hopkins, he matured as a guitarist in Chicago. In 1949, he moved to Chicago. At the age of 16, he began sneaking into clubs and hanging out with musicians. Soon, he was hanging out and jamming with the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James and others.

Howlin Wolf took him under his wings and taught him how to survive on the streets of Chicago. Between Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters and his sidemen (Eddie Taylor, Little Walter, Robert Lockwood Jr.) King found a protective inner circle. This inner circle helped him to mature not only as a musician but to make the transition from the rural South to a Northern metropolis.

Not long after that, he was working as a sidemen for different groups that recorded at Chess Records under the direction of Willie Dixon. He recorded a few songs for Parrot and then moved on to Federal, Cotillion, Shelter and other labels.

King’s approach

Unlike B.B. King’s single note playing with a flat pick, King employed a more “down home” approach, using his thumb and fingers. According to Freddie King's official website, it was Eddie Taylor who taught Freddie King how to play using a metal index finger pick and a plastic thumb pick, as opposed to a regular flat pick. It was a Texas style of playing that would influence players across the Ocean like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.

Lightning Red, another Texan and guitarist, further explained King’s guitar approach:

"If you listen to just about any contemporary blues guitarist (including myself), you'll hear a lot of Freddie King. Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride And Joy" when it first goes to the fifth chord turnaround. That descending G-E-D-B-A-G-E, etc. run is classic Freddie King. As well as are countless vibrato moves throughout his music. Eric Clapton cites Freddie King as a primary influence. This Texas legend is probably responsible for Mr. Clapton's perfection of the slowhand technique in which the vibrato sound is accomplished by moving the string across the fret board in an easy flow.

In my opinion, Freddie was one of the first blues players to really feel the funk, to put a lot of syncopation into his artistry. He was a major influence on just about every second generation blues guitarist, and I highly recommend you sit down with a complete collection of his music and go to work. Because his 335 did not have a stop-tailpiece as did B.B.'s, Freddie used longer and/or a fairly heavy gauge of strings which contributed to his slowhand vibrato technique."

Changing music

King seemed to always be popular on the chitlin circuit (black community), but some say labels went to ridiculous levels to market him to whites. One label had him doing a surfing album. Some critics say labels went too far in marketing King to young white audiences as well. Others say these more rock-tinged recordings with pianist Leon Russell and, later, Clapton on his RSO label was more or less a reflection of the music business at that time. They say blacks were turning away from blues and toward R&B. They say Freddie King knew what white listeners wanted and he turned up the volume on his amp and guitar to give it to them. Regardless, most agree that his recordings for the Cotillion label in 1968 ("My feeling for the blues" and "Freddie King is a blues master") were two of his best.

The blues master lives on

After more than 30 years, Freddie King is still remembered fondly. In 1993, Texas governor Anne Richards declared September 3 as Freddie King Day. A few of his best songs are viewed regularly on YouTube. And the Freddie King Blues Fest continues to be held every year in Dallas. Clearly, Texas still loves one of her favorite sons.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Freddie King, a Blues Master, Part I

September 3rd is the birthday of Freddie King, one of the greatest blues guitarists of all times. The blues master will be honored on Sunday, August 31, 2008, at The Granada Theater. It’s the Fifth Annual Freddie King Blues Fest. Helping to honor King will be blues legends Bobby “Blue” Bland and Hubert Sumlin (the former Howlin Wolf band member who is a great guitarist in his own right) and a number of local blues musicians from around Dallas. The Granada Theater is located at 3524 Greenville Ave., in Dallas, Texas. For more info, visit granadatheater.com or call 214-824-9933.

Though his birthday is not until September 3, the daddy is thinking about Freddie King today: how he was influenced by Texas guitarists like T Bone Walker and Lightnin Hopkins, about his influence on top guitarists in Chicago like Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, and, later, on guitarists in Europe like Jeff Beck, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, and how, ironically, he never lost influence with black audience, providing a con
nection between blues and R&B. In part I, the daddy will provide a brief biography of King.

In Part II, he will make some points about the blues master that perhaps you didn’t know. Here’s a brief biography of King.

Biography


King was born Frederick Christian in Gilmer, Texas on September 3, 1934. His mother was Ella May King, his father J.T Christian. His mother and her brother, who both played the guitar, began teaching Freddie to play at the age of six. He liked and imitated the music of Lightnin Sam Hopkins and saxophonist Louis Jordan.

He moved with his family from Texas to the So
uthside of Chicago in 1950. There, at age 16 he used to sneak in to local clubs, where he heard blues music performed by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Sonny Boy Williamson. Howlin Wolf took him under his wing (or paw), and Freddie also began jamming with Muddy Waters’ sidemen, who included Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Little Walter.

By 1952 he had married a Texas girl, Jessie Burnett. He gigged at night and worked days in a steel mill. He got occasional work
as a sideman on recording sessions. Two bands that he played with during this period were the Sonny Cooper Band, and Early Payton’s Blues Cats. He formed the first band of his own, the Every Hour Blues Boys, with guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson and drummer Sonny Scott.

In 1953 he made some recordings for Parrot. In 1956 he recorded “Country Boy”, a duet with Margaret Whitfield, and “That’s What You Think”, an uptempo blues. This was for a local label, El-Bee. Robert Lockwood Jr. appeared as a sideman on guitar.


In 1959 he met Sonny Thompson, a pianist who worked for the King/Federal label. In 1960, he himself signed with that label; while there he often shared songwriting credits, and participated in marathon recording sessions, with Thompson. On August 26, 1960, he recorded “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “Hide Away”, which were to become to of his most popular tunes. His debut release for the label was “You’ve Got To Love Her with Feeling”. His second release on King/Federal was “I Love the Woman”. “Hide Away” was used as the B side for this disk; that tune, a 12-bar mid-tempo shuffle in E with
an infectious theme in the head section, and a memorable stop-time break that featured some robust-sounding work on the bass strings, was destined to become one of his signature numbers. It was an adaptation of a tune by Hound Dog Taylor. It was named “Hide Away” after a popular bar in Chicago. Strictly an instrumental — guitar with rhythm section — it delighted everyone by crossing over and reaching #29 on the pop chart. It was later covered by Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey, and likely a majority of the bar blues bands on Planet Earth.

After the success of “Hide Away”, the label, which was presided over by one Syd Nathan, got Freddie and Sonny Thompson to work on making more instrumentals. This they did, producing over 30 of them during the next five years. The following is a partial list: “The Stumble,” “Low Tide,” “Wash Out,” “Sidetracked”, “San-Ho-Zay,” “Heads Up,” “Onion Rings,” and “The Sad Nite Owl”. Freddie became popular with a young white audience, and his playing was a major influence on the upcoming breed of rock guitarists. During this period he was touring frequently along with the big R&B acts of the day such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown. His band included his brother Benny Turner on bass; and Tyrone Davis, who would later become known in his own right, was the driver and valet.

On the personal side, Freddie was fond, perhaps overly fond, of the night life. His official website refers to him “Gambling til dawn in the backroom of Mike’s cleaners.” His wife, now with six children, decided to move back to Texas. Once there, she called Syd Nathan and demanded that he send her some of the royalty money due to her husband. To his credit, he sent her two thousand dollars, with which she made the down payment on a house. Realizing that the family was definitely not coming back to Chicago, Freddie, in the spring of 1963, moved back to Texas.

To read the full biography, see last.fm

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mamma Mia! Got the Daddy Upset!

Listen up. The daddy wants to ask you something. Have you ever seen a movie and absolutely hated it? Well, the daddy just saw Mamma Mia! And it’s got him upset, it’s got him pissed, and it’s making him a little crazy!

How crazy? How pissed? So pissed he wants to play tagger and spray-paint the word FUCK on suburban mall buildings. So pissed he’s considering driving down highway 94 at breakneck speed to his favorite watering hole, gulping down a few cold ones and starting a fight. How crazy? So crazy that he is seriously considering joining the mafia to play hit-man and rub out a couple of informants ratting on the family. So crazy he is beginning to think that the coke freak psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was onto something when he said the daddy hates his mother and wants to assassinate his father for spending too much time with her.

The good

Mamma Mia! was bad overall but it had a couple of good things going for it. First, Amanda Seyfried, who played the bride-to-be, who craved her prince, acted and sang with passion and conviction. She’s got the talent and the looks. She’s going places. Second, Meryl Streep. Let’s face it: Meryl Streep is the reason the daddy went to see this chick flick. He feels she is the most talented actress or actor in the business today. The daddy’s friends knew he felt this way about Streep and used it to get him to see the movie.

“Go see it, daddy. Meryl Streep is great! You’ll love it!” Yes, Streep was great. But here’s what was bad.

The bad.

Except for Seyfried, none of the big stars could sing well. True, Streep sang one song exceptionally well, but, by and large, her singing was serviceable at best. But the men (Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgard) were the worse, and none more than Pierce Brosnan. Due to his “good looks” and supposedly “charming accent,” women may have overlooked it. But to the daddy it was nothing less than straight-up embarrassment. Now, the daddy knows this musical was a raucous hit on Broadway in 2001, but all them folks could sing their asses off.
Know what else was bad? The concept.

Mamma Mia! is a musical about a young woman who is going to get married. Of course she would like her father to be there to give her away but doesn’t know who her father is. After reading her mother’s old diary, she came upon three of her mother’s lovers at the time of her conception. Now get this: to figure out which one is really her dad and to have her daddy give her away, she invites all three of her mother’s former lovers from 20 years ago to the wedding! Do I need to comment any further on this vapid idea? But are you ready for the ugly?


The ugly.

Are you ready for what got the daddy thinking about writing the word fuck on suburban walls, becoming a hit-man for the mafia, starting fights at a bar and thinking that coke freak Freud was starting to make some sense after all? One word: Abba.


What my friends pushing me to see this movie selectively left out was that these mostly badly singing actors and actresses would be singing over-rated commercial music with no soul whatsoever. Now, don't get it twisted. The daddy likes all kinds of music: the raw social poetry of hip hop, the songwriting in country, the guitars in heavy metal, the excitement in rock (the Beatles, U2), the soul in R&B, the spirituality of classic jazz, the social history of blues, and the exquisite beauty of classical music. But Abba is as bland as mashed potatoes without butter or sour cream or instant grits without butter and Louisiana Red Hot Sauce. In its lack of soul, passion and conviction, Abba rivals the phony jazz of Kenny G or the elevator music in the cheapest “hotels” in Vegas. Why, even McDonalds or Wal Mart may have rejected Abba as background music for its customers. No, when it comes to music, the daddy must have music with feeling, passion, and soul.

And that's why the daddy is still feeling upset and a little crazy: he put up with 2 hours of sorry, soul-less music, hoping it would get better, all to no avail. Okay, the daddy just got into the car and put on Miles Davis' CD "Kind of Blue." No, he probably won't go flying down the highway to the nearest bar to have a few and to start a fight. But if he runs into a member of Abba's band, he doesn't know what he might do. All bets are off.

Have you seen a movie lately and absolutely hated it?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nat Turner Talked to God

“I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first.”
--Nat Turner


Today, the daddy is thinking of Nat Turner and his rebellion, about him saying that he talked to God, that God compelled him to strike out against slavery.
He's feeling this poem by iampunha. It's taken from an online blog called Progressive Historians for Our Future.
--------------
Nat Turner Talked to God

death is what awaited
him
and he knew it

but death
was preferable
to not living
only

brea
thing

for someone else's bottom line
and someone else's family

but
today
no more
for Nat Turner

177 years ago
a few hours ago
Nat Turner's soul said
"My body is bought, but my soul is no man's"
and struck out…

in a way
as a slave change
that
they hurt you to make you decide
if the pain is worth it
you're dead from the time you're born
and if you try to
and if you escape
once you kill
you've burned your only bridge
so by any means necessary

i don't blame him one bit

Nat Turner talked to God
and then met him
(our president talks to god
and lies to the rest of us)

someday
my father promises me
(without saying 'promise' but meaning it all the same)
he and i
will meet Nat Turner

i'd like to meet that man
------------------------
Born: 2 October 1800
Died: 11 November 1831 (execution by hanging)
Birthplace: Southampton County, Virginia
Best known as: Leader of the 1831 slave rebellion

Two good books about Nat Turner and Black slave rebellions:
1. Black Rebellion: Five Slave Revolts by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Product Description: Black Rebellion, a fascinating account of five slave insurrections, among them the story of the Maroons, escaped slaves in the West Indies and South America who successfully resisted larger British armies while living an independent existence for generations in the mountains and jungles of Jamaica and Surinam; of Gabriel Prosser, who recruited about 1,000 fellow slaves in 1800 to launch a rebellion throughout Virginia; of Denmark Vesey, an ex-slave, seaman, and artisan, fluent in several languages, who conspired in 1822 to kill the white citizens of Charleston, South Carolina, and take over the city; and of the revolutionary mystic Nat Turner, who in 1831 organized and led the most successful and dramatic slave revolt in North America. The author also describes how whites responded with panic, sweeping arrests, mass executions, and more repressive laws in a futile effort to crush the slaves’ insatiable desire to be free.

2. The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner’s Fierce Rebellion by Stephen Oates

From audio file:
"Nat Turner is an American enigma. Was he a saint? A visionary? Were those visions authentic? How could he have come from the mild Virginia Tidewater society of 1831? Oates answers these questions and more in his vivid portrait of Turner, the slave society that nurtured him and the changes wrought in that society because of him. Reader John McDonough adopts a scholarly, but highly engaged, tone that is patient, thorough and deliberate. At the same time, his voice is resonant with the mystery he's exploring. Its burry roughness holds the listener and creates an intimacy that matches the author's own familiar tone and takes all the difficulty out of doing history." P.E.F. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

New York Times
"A penetrating reconstruction of the most disturbing and crucial slave uprising in America's history.... A vivid and excellent narrative account."

Friday, August 22, 2008

AFL-CIO Fights Racism, Supports Obama

Today, the daddy is feeling the AFL-CIO. He knows they've had a dubious history in race relations, but they seem to be coming around. This is what Americans, especially the workers, need to do: Attack racism, saying we have get pass it and deal with real change. Check out this speech against racism and for Obama by Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO on YouTube. And check out this article from Alternet.

by Tula Connell, Firedoglake at 2:31 PM on August 21, 2008.

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The issue of race in this presidential campaign is one we talk around, or whisper about, or don't discuss publicly at all. Or, as with some McCain supporters, the issue of race is used as an ugly bludgeon in the spirit of Jim Crow.

But AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka is taking the issue head on. Beginning with a recent speech to the United Steelworkers and continuing in other union venues, Trumka directly addresses how working people can, and must, combat the racism of those who say they will not vote for a black man as president. In addressing union leaders, Trumka also speaks to all of America's workers:

There’s not a single good reason for any worker -- especially any union member -- to vote against Barack Obama. There’s only one really bad reason to vote against him: because he’s not white.
A lot of good union people just can’t get past the idea that there’s something wrong with voting for a black man. Well, those of us who know better can’t afford to look the other way.
[There’s] no evil that’s inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism -- and it’s something we in the labor movement have a special responsibility to challenge.

Trumka urges union leaders, and all of us with a stake in the economic policies of the next president, to confront, head on, our inchoate and irrational fear of black Americans:

When you hear someone say America isn’t ready for a black president, you have to get in their face and say: “You may not be ready for Barack Obama, but I sure as hell am!”

His initial speech was greeted by surprise -- surprise that someone of his rank took on the issue -- and praised as the opening of a long-needed dialogue. And, yes, his words were not universally welcomed, a reaction he addresses in an open letter to union members here.

Yet, in experiencing firsthand how divisions of race and ethnicity have been used by employers to undermine worker solidarity on the job, many union members have a visceral understanding of how and why Obama opponents are subtly and not so subtly seeking to attack him. And having already fought these battles, union members are well prepared to do so again. As Trumka puts it:

We’ve seen how companies set worker against worker -- how they throw whites a few extra crumbs off the table and how it’s black and Latino workers who get the dirtiest, most-dangerous jobs. But we’ve seen something else, too. We’ve seen that when we cross that color line and stand together, no one -- and I mean no one -- can keep us down. That’s why, imperfect as we are, the labor movement today is the most integrated institution in American life.

When he headed up the Mine Workers union, Trumka led two major strikes against the Pittston Coal Co. and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association. The actions resulted in significant advances in employee-employer cooperation and the enhancement of mine workers' job security, pensions and benefits. Such victories of workers over hard-bitten and often brutal employers will be far fewer going forward unless we dramatically change the anti-worker culture that has been created in this country over the past eight years.

The bottom line, says Trumka, is nothing less than the future of our nation.

I don't think we should be out there pointing fingers in peoples' faces and calling them racist. Instead we need to educate them that if they care about holding onto their jobs, their health care, their pensions, and their homes.
If they care about creating good jobs with clean energy, child care, pay equity for women workers, there's only going to be one candidate on the ballot this fall who's on our side, only one candidate who's going to stand up for our families, only one candidate who's earned our votes ... and his name is Barack Obama!
Do you think John McCain will do these things for America?
I don't.

(Trumka's full speech to the United Steelworkers is here.

It's a Shame

Pervis Jackson just died of cancer at the Detroit Sinai Hospital at 70. He is survived by two sons, Pervis Jackson Jr. and Herbert Briscoe; two daughters, Cindy Holmes and Stephanie Jackson; and eight grandchildren.

Pervis Jackson, remember him? He was one of the four lead singers of The Spinners (That's him on the left in the photo above). This is the R&B group that made 12 gold hits in the 70’s that went to both the R&B and pop charts: “The game people play,“ The rubber band man,” “I’ll be around,” “Could it be I’m falling in love,” “It’s a shame,” among others.

The group had four lead singers: Charlton Washington, Bobbie Smith, Henry Fambrough. Pervis Jackson and Harold "Spike" DeLeon. In my opinion, Jackson was the guy with the rich, low voice that gave The Spinners their distinctive, harmonic sound on stage and and kept the group together off-stage.

Here’s what some had to say:

"{It's a shame}Great song, one of the greatest in the history of Soul music. Featuring some cold blooded lyrics by Stevie Wonder about being cheated on (by Syreeta?} and some really funky guitar licks by Marv Tarplin (I think?), with some GREAT harmonies by the Spinners. Even today "It's a Shame", still sounds fresh & funky. It's the equal to any of the great songs by the Temptations and I can listen to this song over and over again, morning noon & night...”
--Bob Davis, of Soul Patrol.

“What Pervis brought was something nobody else could have brought. It’s going to be hard to find someone who can do what Pervis did…Every Motown group tried to have its own sound to stand out. Pervis was a big part of that for the Spinners. If you listen to his parts, you hear how well his voice carried, how unique it was, without being overbearing.”
--Michael Fuqua, son of Harvey, Record Executive

Jackson's is the second loss this year in the Spinners’ extended family. Long-time manager Buddy Allen died at his home in March. His son, Steve, worked as the group’s road manager for many years. Here's what he had to say about Jackson:

“Pervis was the classiest, nicest, most perfect gentleman. He never let the fame and the glory years go to his head.”

He was a unique talent, and he was even more of a unique person, class and professionalism from the heart; and, as Davis of Soul Patrol put it, it's a shame to see him go.

Services will be on Monday. Details of the funeral arrangement will be released later this week by Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Daddy has Georgia and James Brown on His Mind

A few weeks ago, the daddy posted about the new DVD about James Brown called "I Got the Feelin" set to come out on August 5th. He talked about the DVD showcasing JB not only as a great performer but a great bandleader, orchestrating a tight-knit, soulful band that recorded nothing but hits.

The daddy said that JB
was "...a three-figure hit maker with 114 total entries on Billboard's R&B singles charts and 94 that made the Hot 100 singles chart. Seventeen of these hits reached number one, a feat topped only by Stevie Wonder and Louis Jordan. Over the years, while maintaining a grueling touring schedule, James Brown amassed 800 songs in his repertoire. With his signature one-three beat, James Brown directly influenced the evolutionary beat of soul music in the Sixties, funk music in the Seventies and rap music in the Eighties. "

But today, the daddy is thinking of JB, because he's feeling nostalgic. You see, the daddy was born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, the home state of two Georgia geniuses who, as a teenager, he saw regularly: James Brown and Otis Redding. Brown was from Augusta. Otis was from Macon. Both came often and played their hearts out to their loyal fans in Atlanta, a city with a large black population.

The daddy is thinking especially about going to see James Brown and his revue: the great opening set by Brown's killer band. With a great horn section anchored by jazzy saxophonist Maceo Parker and a rhythm section anchored by funky bassist Bootsy Collins, Brown's band was superbaad personified.The daddy remembers the build-up intro of Brown, where, as soon as it began, fans began cheering and moving toward the center of the stage to get closer, strutting to a thumping bass and soul-sweet blasts from horns as they did so. They knew Soul Brotha #1 would
"make it funky."

He remembers Brown singing and dancing with the horn section to his right and a group of women dancers to his left, everyone dancing in unison, creating a party atmosphere right on stage. They were talented, dressed to kill; and, for this crowd of a thousand or more predominantly black and proud audience, they were totally up to laying down the funk then running up a flag pole called soul.

Now, maybe it's because the daddy hasn't been home for a while. Maybe it's because he misses some of that great soul food, especially the cabbage, collard greens, red beans and rice, corn bread, and sweet tea.

Maybe it's because he's feeling lonely for his old, dark-skinned, wrinkled-faced relatives who, despite little formal education, dispense folk wisdom (what they call motherwit) of wise elders, taking ebonics to a higher art form but never failing to drop knowledge and drip truth that keep heads spinning for days.

Maybe he's feeling nostalgic about a time in his youth when seeing Otis Redding, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Wilosn Picket, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King, Johnny Taylor, Sam & Dave and Sam Cooke and others was something it seemed everyone did on weekends, when everyone got to know each other as they saw the best talent that America had to offer, and when it seemed the greatest musical talent in the world looked just like him.

Maybe it's because the daddy misses the scent of Georgia pines, the warm smiles of the folks (white and black), the smell of soul food from warm kitchens. But the daddy is especially feeling the late James Brown, that part in his show, toward the end, when he would sing "Georgia on my mind."

I know: some of you say Ray Charles has the dibs on this number. But not so fast. After all, the daddy is talking about soul broa #1 here. And remember: JB was not only a great performer but a great bandleader as well; and his arrangement of "Georgia on my mind" is exquisite soul, soul as art, soul as emotions captured and molded in time, dream and reality elevated to a new synthesis, making life more complete. Whole.

Maybe he's nostalgic, but see for yourself. Click on the name James Brown, listen to his version of "Georgia on my mind" and answer these two questions from the daddy:

1. Where's your Georgia?
2. Does an old sweet song keep it on your mind?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blues With a Feeling, Part II

Success with the Mississippi Sax

Little Walter did some recordings for himself in 1947. But things began to take off for him when he joined the Muddy Waters band in 1948. Waters was no fool. He knew a good thing when he saw it and great talent when he heard it. So Waters featured Walter’s more modern sound in his band.

In 1952, Walter recorded a little tune for Chess called “Juke.” It shot quickly to the top as #1 on Billboard magazine R&B charts. Soon, other recordings would reach the top 10 (“Off the Wall,” “Roller Coaster,” and “Sad Hours”). Walter was on his way.

He soon left Muddy Waters band and recorded a series of hits, eclipsing the success of Waters. His songs were original (He co-wrote many of them with Chess staffer Willie Dixon), more up-tempo, jazzier; and sound more modern than the Muddy-Waters-influenced sound of the day.

Death from the cold concrete of Chicago

Yes, Walter was a success. But he was also in decline. Due to his bad temper and bad management skills, he had difficulty keeping his band together. He began to drink heavily and to use other drugs. He got into fights, the last one resulting in his death. Gesturing to indicate that Walter drank alcohol and took other drugs, Muddy told writer Patrick Day, “Little Walter was dead 10 years before his death.”

On the surface, he died on February 14, 1968 at the age of 37, as a result of wounds incurred in a fist fight during a break in a performance he was giving on the South side of Chicago (They said these wounds compounded other wounds he had received from other fights that helped to cause his death). On the surface, he died from a bad temper, an anger problem that caused him to drink too much, yell at band members and develop bad relations with women. But others said the problem was much more complex.

Some musicians said that Walter’s problems were tied to the decline in the sale of his music, the declining interest in blues music and the increased attention given to Rock and Roll, a blues derivative. They said that, to the extent that whites were interested in blues musicians, they sought out more “authentic” blues players—old men or women from the rural South to perform at festivals. Other musicians said this is nonsense. They said, yes, the music business was changing, but that was no excuse for his bad temper. Besides, they said, fellow Chicago bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Buddy Guy did just fine.

Perhaps there was another reason for Walter’s downfall: what he was, an artist. As an artist, deeply involved with the public, and as a black artist (singer, harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter), he had to be keenly aware of what Chicago was: a city where he and other blacks faced the same problems that he had experienced in the cities in the South where he had traveled (New Orleans, Helena, St. Louis, etc.) —cities where things were in some ways different but, ultimately, the same: cities where you work hard for little pay (if you can find a job), get beaten down by job and other forms of institutional discrimination; get assaulted by police, get exploited by absentee landlords who won’t fix a damn thing, get ripped off by grocery store owners who charge high prices for spoiled food, get attacked by thugs who live or hang around crime-ridden, gang-infested public housing, get mis-educated and made to feel inferior by public schools and get angered by the overall white attitude that black people are inferior and deserve what they get (poverty and racism).

A well traveled and highly aware Little Walter had to know that it was not just a black woman but white Chicago, indeed white America, that gave him them “blues with a feeling.”

Footprints

Despite his untimely death, the huge footprints Walter left on the blues road cannot be overstated. His song “Juke” was selected as one of the top 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. He was inducted into the R&B and Grammy Hall of Fame.

Of course he was the greatest harmonica player that Muddy Water’s ever had in his band. But it should be remembered that he influenced all harmonica players. So when you hear the great harmonica players that once graced Muddy Water’s band (Junior Wells, James Cotton, Carey Bell and others), you’re hearing Little Walter. When you hear some of the better harmonica players like Charlie Musselwhite, William Clarke, Paul Butterfield or John Poppers (He’s with the group Blues Traveler), you’re hearing in sound and approach Little Walter. In fact, it could be argued that it was Little Walter who was chiefly responsible for what we now call the Chicago Blues sound, or the Chicago Blues. Such was his influence on modern blues.

A very good passage from “Blues with a Feeling,” perhaps the definitive biography of Little Walter, may have said it best: “Influenced as much by horn players as other harmonica players, as much by jazz as was by blues, Little Walter freed the harmonica of {its} customary, if self-imposed, restriction for the first time.”

Have you ever had them blues with a feeling, blues that kept following you around? Then pick up a Little Walter's CD. He understood. The blues followed him every night and every day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blues With a Feeling, Part I

Have you heard a son called "Juke?"

Have you heard a tune called “Blues with a feeling?”

Have you ever heard of a guy named Little Walter?

Maybe. Maybe not, but you’ve heard him. If you've ever heard slide guitarist Hound Dog Taylor sing “I held my baby,” where he sings a blues line then slides high
up on the fretboard of his guitar, making it cry like
a new-born babe, you’ve heard Little Walter. If you’ve ever heard Albert King sing “As the years go passing by,” heard him bend his guitar strings across notes and up to high heavens, making his Lucy soar to the high C's and keeping her there, like Pavarotti at the end of an aria at an opera house in Rome or Aretha Franklin at a Detroit Church on Sunday, you’ve heard Little Walter.

You see, Walter
electrified the harmonica, transforming it from a back-up instrument to a solo voice, making it moan low or soar high into the stratosphere, like the greatest of instruments, making sounds the harmonica never made before. Walter identified in words and sounds what many African Americans knew but couldn't quite bring themselves to say: they had them "blues with a feeling" and those blues followed them every night and every day.

Innovation

Harmonica player/guitarist, singer/songwriter Little Walter was born Marion Walter Jacobs in Marksville, Louisiana on May 1, 1930 and was raised in rural Alexandria, Louisiana. At the tender age of 12, he quit school, left rural Louisiana and traveled to highly black-populated cities like New Orleans, Memphis, Helena (that’s in Arkansa), and St. Louis to hear and play the blues. He honed his skills by playing with the great Sonny Boy Williamson I, guitarists Bill Broonzy and Honey Boy Edwards, among others.

Like many bluesmen, Little Walter made it to Chicago (in the mid-forties) and soon garnered attention for his already great skills on the harmonica. However, Walter noticed that he was being drowned out by electric guitars in the Chess music studio and blues bars around Chicago. Frustrated, he adopted a simple but hereto unknown technique of cupping a small microphone into his hands with his harmonia. Then he plugged the microphone into a guitar or public address amplifier. In this way, he could compete with the electric guitars in the Chess studio and in the black clubs around South side and West side Chicago. But Walter did more.

Creation

Walter didn't use an amplified harmonica just for volume. He used it to get a certain tone on the instrument for which he became famous. He used it to stretch long sounds across notes or to make short sounds. Put together in a slow grooving ballad, he could make the harmonica wail long and hard or cry just a little at a time, like a person whimpering or sobbing after a terrible break-up, wondering where to go next. So it was not just the innovation but the tone and sonic effects that he got on the instrument that caused such an impact in the blues world.

It was that tone and those sonic effects that caused the great blues pianist Pinetop Perkins to say that Walter might be the greatest harmonica player ever, that caused Walter and Muddy Waters drummer Sam Lay to say he KNEW Walter was the greatest ever, and that caused Junior Wells, a great harmonica player in his own right (who was mentored by Sonny Boy Williamson I) to say, “There will never be another Little Walter. Never.”

Next: Blues With a Feeling, Every Night and Every Day: Part II

Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama Punches Back Hard Against Corsi Smears

The daddy's feeling this article from Huffington Post about the Obama campaign fighting back against "Obama Nation," the hatchet job called a book written by Jerome Corsi, right-wing Republican and original swift-boater of Sen. John Kerry:

Obama Punches Back Hard
Against Corsi Smears

by Seth Colter Walls

As promised, Barack Obama's campaign is hitting back hard against smear author Jerome Corsi's New York Times best-selling book The Obama Nation.

In an exhaustive 41-page PDF document entitled Unfit for Publication -- a riff on Corsi's 2004 Unfit for Command, which targeted John Kerry -- the campaign documents every false claim they have been able to find in Corsi's current tome. No matter how small the error, including the year the Obamas married, the campaign has taken time to correct the record.

Clearly, the cumulative effect is meant as a kind of rhetorical "shock and awe" campaign against Corsi, who is described in the prelude of Unfit for Publication as "a discredited, fringe bigot" who "believes that President Bush is trying to merge the United states with Mexico and Canada," in addition to holding other conspiracy theories."

For the full story, go to Huffington Post.

The Original Swift-Boater Is Back!

"...contrary to Corsi's characterization of Obama's views on nuclear weapons as far left, in an essay, published in the January 4, 2007, Wall Street Journal, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, Hoover Institution senior fellow William J. Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) proposed nuclear weapons policies similar to those Corsi quotes Obama supporting. "
-- Media Matters

"When facts are lacking, Mr. Corsi makes his point by suggestive questions. Noting that Life magazine could find no record of an article that Mr. Obama remembered reading as a child about a black man who tried to lighten his skin, Mr. Corsi asks, "How much more imagining, hypothetical lying, or just plain lying is Obama capable of doing?" When facts are present, he twists them to make Mr. Obama bad. "
--Washington Post

Today, the daddy's feeling this article from Truthdig by Eugene Robinson.


By Eugene Robinson

Here come the goons, right on schedule.

The “author,” and I use the term loosely, whose vicious lies damaged John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign has crawled back out from under his rock to spew vicious lies about Barack Obama. Right-wing radio talk-show hosts are dutifully transmitting this concocted venom. This presidential campaign has officially gotten ugly.

The “author” I’m talking about is a man named Jerome Corsi. In a book published last year, “The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada,” Corsi claimed that George W. Bush was at the heart of a secret conspiracy to subsume the United States into a post-national, one-worldish North American Union. Corsi’s writings on far-right blogs have been even more paranoid and delusional. He has written that pedophilia, for which he used a more graphic term, “is OK with the Pope as long as it isn’t reported by the liberal press.” He has referred to Muslims as “ragheads.”

Corsi would be known as just another visitor from the outer fringe if he had not been the co-author of “Unfit for Command,” the book that slimed Kerry’s exemplary record as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. The allegations in that book were discredited, but not before they had been amplified by the right-wing echo chamber to the point where they raised questions in some voters’ minds—perhaps enough to swing the election.It was an abominable trick, but quite remarkable. Kerry’s opponent, George W. Bush, had avoided Vietnam by taking refuge in the Texas Air National Guard. Kerry was a decorated war hero, yet somehow his valor and sense of duty were turned into a political negative and used against him.

Now Corsi, in what he acknowledges is an attempt “to keep Obama from getting elected,” has come out with a book that similarly tries to turn one of Obama’s strengths—his compelling life story—into a liability.

Corsi’s new volume of vitriol, “The Obama Nation,” seeks to smear Obama as a “leftist” and add fuel to the false and discredited rumor that he is secretly a radical Muslim, or at least has “extensive connections to Islam.” The liberal Web site Media Matters has already demonstrated that the book is riddled with factual errors—for example, Corsi repeats the charge, thoroughly disproved, that Obama was in church for one of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s most incendiary sermons. But the point isn’t to tell the truth. The point is to repeat the lie and thus give it new life.

To read the full story, check out today's Truthdig.