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Family to Honor Oakland Blues Pioneer Bob Geddins

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Even though blues pioneer Bob Geddins wrote and produced numerous national hit records between 1948 and 1961 – by such blues and R&B artists as Lowell Fulson, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Jimmy McCracklin, the Oakland resident received scant notice from Bay Area media following his death on February 16, 1991.

Today, more than 24 years later, Geddins remains a largely forgotten man, even to some members of his large extended family.

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Irma Geddins, 55, the youngest of Geddins’ 14 children, hopes to raise awareness of her father’s accomplishments. She will pay homage to his legacy with an event on Saturday, May 23 at 2 p.m. on the 7th Street sidewalk in front of the West Oakland BART station where a plaque was recently inlayed honoring Geddins in “The Music They Played on 7th Street Oakland” Walk of Fame Project.

 

Following prayers in his memory, Irma will speak in remembrance of her father along with her oldest sibling, Bob Geddins Jr., 76, who played keyboards on many of his dad’s records.

 

The West Coast Blues Society Caravan of All-Stars will also perform at 3:30 p.m. at Hiram Hall, 8105 Capwell Drive in Oakland. The band includes soul singer Wylie Trass, who recorded for Geddins in the late ‘60s.

 

Blues society executive director Ronnie Stewart and this writer are also slated to speak.

 

“I’m doing this as a tribute to our dad,” says Irma. “I’m also doing it for the great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids. There’s a whole lot of them, and I can’t get a lot of them to come because some of them live in other states.”

 

“I just want them to know the history of what this man did. I don’t want the legacy to die,” she says.

 

Geddins’ compositions continue to generate royalties for his seven surviving children. According to Bob Jr., the most lucrative have been “Mercury Blues,” first recorded by K.C. Douglas in 1948 and years later, a major hit and Ford commercial by country singer Alan Jackson; the 1953 Jimmy Wilson hit “Tin Pan Alley,” that was subsequently recorded by Little Milton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others; and the perennial Halloween favorite “Haunted House,” originally recorded by Johnny Fuller in 1958.

 

Other Geddins-produced hits include, “Three O’Clock Blues” by Fulson in 1948, “Why Do Things Happen to Me” by Roy Hawkins in 1950, DeSanto’s “I Want to Know” in 1960 and McCracklin’s “Just Got to Know” in 1961.

 

Tickets to the show with the West Coast Blues Society Caravan of All-Stars are $30. For more information, call (510) 904-7255 or (510) 472-8800.

 

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Art

MC Arts Gallery Opens During the Marin Open Studio

The Gallery and its website display the art of a number of Black artists which includes: TheArthur Wright, Lumumba Edwards, and Maalak Atkins. Zwanda and Mitchell Howard also display their art at the Gallery. 

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From top: Oshalla Marcus (director/curator, MC Arts & Culture) with Osiezhe’s drawings to the right of the photo, Zwanda, Mitchell Howard , ISOJI’s Art Is Health Band: Carlton Carey (drums), Mwanza Furaha, (vocals), Jack Prendergast (bass), Ricardo Moncrief (keyboard), James Moseley (guitar, vocal). Photos by Godfrey Lee.

The MC Arts Gallery, located on 100 Donahue St. in the Gateway Shopping Center in Marin City, is open during the Marin Open Studios, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 & 2. 

The Gallery and its website display the art of a number of Black artists which includes: The Arthur Wright, Lumumba Edwards, and Maalak Atkins. Zwanda and Mitchell Howard also display their art at the Gallery. 

Zwanda seeks to be creative as she expands her ideas as a sculptress and painter. She is inspired by the human figure and dancers and is fascinated with music and the instruments themselves. Her art is a way to express this love and to share it with others.

Mitchell Howard studied art at San Francisco State University and the Computer Arts Institute of San Francisco. He was an art director at Cummingham & Walsh in San Francisco and has displayed his paintings at the Hannah Gallery, worked on the Rocky Graham Park Mural and has taught art at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy Elementary School.

“Art can bring people together and illustrate things that people can relate to,” Howard says. “Art can also be powerful in sending social messages to society. Art makes you think, it expands your horizons and makes you use your imagination. People may see different things in the same painting.”

Osiezhe, Shakira Gregory’s son, will be displaying his drawings at the Gallery.

The ISOJI’s Art Is Health Band played last Saturday afternoon with Mwanza Furaha as their guest vocalist.

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Art

City Council Approves $480,000 in Arts Grants

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

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The Oakland City Council approved $480,000 in grants to 17 Oakland-based non-profit organizations and 20 individual artists through the city’s Cultural Funding Program, Neighborhood Voices.

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

The grant program seeks to bring Oaklanders together to create and support a sense of belonging within a community, to foster social connections that lift people’s spirits, to encourage community well-being and offer visions for a collective future, according to the announcement.

The following individual artists each won $7,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Frederick Alvarado; Karla Brundage; Cristina Carpio; Darren Lee Colston; Maria De La Rosa; Elizabeth D. Foggie; Rachel-Anne Palacios; Laurie Polster; Hasain Rasheed; Kweku Kumi Rauf; Carmen Roman; Michael Roosevelt; Fernando Santos; Teofanny Octavia Saragi; Kimberly Sims-Battiste; Cleavon Smith; Lena Sok; Babette Thomas; Ja Ronn Thompson; Joseph Warner.

Each of the following organizations received $20,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Asian Health Services for Banteay Srei;

Beats Rhymes and Life;

Chapter 510 INK;

Dancers Group for dNaga GIRL Project;

Dancers Group for Dohee Lee Puri Arts;

Dancers Group for Grown Women Dance Collective;

East Oakland Youth Development Center;

Higher Gliffs for Endangered Ideas;

Hip Hop for Change;

Junior Center of Art and Science;

Mycelium Youth Network;

Oakland Education Fund for Youth Beat;

Oakland Theater Project, Inc.;

Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice;

The Intersection for Alphabet Rockers;

Women’s Audio Mission;

Youth Radio/YR Media.

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Art

Student Work – Nayzeth Vargas

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

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This piece was created by Nayzeth Vargas, a senior at Oakland Technical High School. The Zentangle Method is a therapeutic technique which uses combinations of contrasting patterns and values to create an image. Students were introduced to the Zentangle Method to offset the mental stress they were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation.  

There is freedom with the Zentangle; there is no expected visual outcome and students are less prone to creative blocks and self-criticism. 

Nayzeth is enrolled in the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project, an integrated arts program that supports youth in developing thoughtful, educated voices for their communities. Though art, youth practice mindfulness and boundless creativity. Enrollment for the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project is open to youth ages 13-18 through AHC, for more information visit ahc-oakland.org/legacy.

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