July 26, 2014 Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, 2p FREE With “Deep Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra transported us back in time and into the future with a rousing homage to the Pioneers, Founders, Innovators, Technicians, Trailblazers and Instigators of the genre. Under the Musical Direction and Design of Toshi Reagon, the monstrously-talented members of this world-class Orchestra recreated the spark that blew minds and kindled an industry. This was classic Black Rock Coalition Orchestra. With our every breath, our very blood, we celebrate the Originals. The ones from whom we all flow. Now and always, we acknowledge the before, the during, and the everlasting after. Rock ‘n’ Roll… Musical Direction and Design: Toshi Reagon Host/DJ/Narration: Carl Hancock Rux Special Guests: Nona Hendryx Vernon Reid Corey Glover Tamar-kali KimberlyNichole Karma Mayet Johnson Jason Walker Ganessa James, Electric Bass Robert “Chicken” Burke, Drums Mimi Jones, Upright Bass Juliette Jones, Violin V. Jeffrey Smith, Horns Ronny Drayton, KiKi Hawkins, Asa Asa Lovechild Adaku Utah, Dance
Grace Jones is what so many others try to be—multidimensional, international, masculine, feminine, musical, visual, global, iconic, unexpected, irrepressible, undeniable, and Black. In short, everything the Black Rock Coalition has whole-heartedly supported since its founding almost 30 years ago.
The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra, as part of its Artist In Residence series at Joe’s Pub, presented ‘STATE OF GRACE,’ a freak-flag waving retrospective of the musical genius behind such enduring anthems as ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, ‘My Jamaican Guy’, ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, among many others. Gordon Voidwell, whose latest project, Bad Etudes has been drawing universal critical raves, curated the band while rising star and sonic renegade Tecla providing Musical Direction for the night. Booties shook and minds shimmied in this sultry, sonic salute to the larger-than-life siren whose appeal crosses genres and generations alike.
The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra (BRCO) has been the official performance arm of the Black Rock Coalition (BRC) since 1986. Through its ever-evolving, ever-revolving incarnations, some of the most accomplished progressive artists of color have paid homage to significant bodies of work by noted progressive artists in some of the world’s most respected venues and festivals—honoring such artists as Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Betty Davis, Santana, Gil Scott-Heron and others. The BRC is the nation’s only non-profit, member-supported organization founded to facilitate the maximum empowerment, exposure and expression of Black alternative musicians as artists. “The BRC’s tribute shows have been a great fact of New York life since the activist group’s founding in 1985. The BRC has long been rich in underestimated talent.” -David Fricke, Rolling Stone
The BRC Orchestra once again gave it up to one of the greats. Enlisting some legendary talents of our own to bridge cultures, communities, genres, and continents through the sounds that connect us all.
Vernon Reid (Living Colour, Masque, James ‘Blood’ Ulmer) – creative direction
Corey Glover (Living Colour, Galactic, Corey Glover & V.I.C.E.)
Coati Mundi (Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band)
Ronny Drayton (Nona Hendryx, Defunkt, Edwin Birdsong)
LaFrae Sci (Burnt Sugar, 13th Amendment)
Nappy G (Groove Collective)
Melvin Gibbs (Harriet Tubman, Socialybrium, Black Sun)
Gene Williams (Freddie Jackson, Harlem Boys Choir)
Leon Gruenbaum (Masque, My Science Project, The Negro Problem, Genes & Machines)
V. Jeffrey Smith (Soulfolk Experience, Sandra St. Victor, The Family Stand)
With “Deep Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra transported us back in time and into the future with a rousing homage to the Pioneers, Founders, Innovators, Technicians, Trailblazers and Instigators of the genre. Under the Musical Direction and Design of Toshi Reagon, the monstrously-talented members of this world-class Orchestra recreated the spark that blew minds and kindled an industry.
This was classic Black Rock Coalition Orchestra. With our every breath, our very blood, we celebrate the Originals. The ones from whom we all flow. Now and always, we acknowledge the before, the during, and the everlasting after.
Many thanks are also due to Isabel Soffer of LiveSounds.org, who curated this awesome night at the Schimmel Center. And thank you too to BRC Board of Directors member Bill Bragin (globalfest-ny.com) for making the connection.
Rock ‘n’ Roll…
Musical Direction and Design: Toshi Reagon
Host/DJ/Narration: Carl Hancock Rux
Marc Anthony Thompson aka Chocolate Genius
Karma Mayet Johnson
Fred Cash, Jr, Electric Bass
Robert “Chicken” Burke, Drums
Mimi Jones, Upright Bass
Juliette Jones, Violin
V. Jeffrey Smith, Horns
Ronny Drayton, KiKi Hawkins, Asa Asa Lovechild
Adaku Utah, Dance
On Monday, July 1, The Black Rock Coalition co-presented legendary Detroit protopunk-metal band DEATH with Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), hosted by MilitiA. Hear our interview with the band here and read long-time BRC friend Dawoud Kringle’s review here.
NOTE: We would have loved to have had some input on the booking of the bands that opened for DEATH. Unfortunately for us, the BRC wasn’t involved in the selection process, only the promotion of the night. So we apologize to our membership for not being able to get more artists of color on the bill, but we make no apologies for giving some of our pioneers the long-overdue support they deserve.
The Black Rock Coalition Pushing Forward
at the Clark Studio Theater / Dialogue
Presented by Lincoln Center Institute for The Arts in Education
From Are & Be, to The Kou and dadahdoodahda, to touring with Ani DiFranco on the “Rhythm and News” tour, Sekou Sundiata created his own path with music that existed outside of classifiable categories. He and his peers — founders and leaders of The Black Rock Coalition (BRC) — created modes of expression both radically new and grounded in cultural history; supported each other in the development, exposure and acceptance of Black alternative music; and actively opposed racist and reactionary forces that deny Black artists expressive freedom and economic rewards. Thirty years later, alongside huge shifts in music, Black alternative artists are still making their own opportunities and pushing forward a greater cultural conversation. What are they able to say in the forms that they choose – in the interstitial spaces — that they are not able to say elsewhere? BRC Co-founder Greg Tate moderates the panel which includes current BRC National President LaRonda Davis and Guillermo e. Brown (Pegasus Warning) and Kamara Thomas (Earl Greyhound, Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers), among others.
The retrospective continues through October 2013.
Blink Your Eyes: Poets to Music
at the Clark Studio Theater / Performances
Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education
A music and spoken word program curated specifically for middle, high school, and college students led by musical director JT Lewis and poetry director Tracie Morris with the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra. The multifaceted production, dedicated to and performed in honor of Sekou Sundiata, explores the thin line between poetry and lyrics, and the million questions along that line. How are the two forms different? In what ways are they the same? Do musicians work differently with poets than they do with lyricists? What’s the difference between spoken word and rhyming? Does music change a poem? Can poetry change music?
BRC ORCHESTRA @ BAMCAFÉ LIVE, BROOKLYN, NY, 1/18-19, A Salute To Richie Havens; With Richie’s brother Don and daughter Rachel in building, we brought the house down with transcendent performances from Stew (The Negro Problem), V. Jeffrey Smith (The Family Stand), Maritri, Kelsey Warren (Pillow Theory), King Julia (Fifth Nation), Akie Burmess (Aabaraki) and others. The BRC Orchestra’s only getting better, y’all…
Black Rock Coalition presented “MILLION MAN MOSH II” @ HIGHLINE BALLROOM, Featuring Living Colour, 24-7 Spyz, Ronny Drayton w/Rev. Kim Lesley, Nona Hendryx, Burnt Sugar Arkestra, Eddie Martinez, DJ Rockin’ Rob & Chuck City, and, in a super-special-throwback moment, the on-stage reunion of Grandmaster Melle Mel, Wonder Mike, and Raheim with bassist Doug Wimbish; live appearance from Donovan Drayton…
Thank you to the Estate of Gil Scott-Heron, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Poetry Society of America, Bill Bragin, Jill Sternheimer, and the amazing audience and staff at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors for helping the BRC Orchestra close out the venue’s 2012 season in grand style!
The night felt great and featured an intro from Gil’s son Rumal Rackley as well as poignant performances by such paragons of talent as Brian Jackson, Sapphire, Martha Redbone, Sandra St. Victor, Carl Hancock Rux, Abiodun Oyewole, John Murillo, Gordon Voidwell, Hanifah Walidah, Willie Perdomo, Aaron Whitby, Val-Inc, Chris Eddleton, Fred Cash, Lisette Santiago, Ben Tyree, Dave Smoota Smith, V. Jeffrey Smith.
Lastly, thanks to Kelsey Van Ert, Frankie Santiago and Greta Rushion for lending very helpful hands to keep it moving.
We really hope to do it again. So keep an eye out!