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Jazz Fest started stormy but then nothin’ but blue skies prevailed

LOUISIANA WEEKLY — With some calculated planning matched by flexibility, Fest fans really could do well musically despite sudden cloud bursts that warranted taking shelter by most, but not all, folks. Crazy young and old music maniacs just stood out there in their boots and rain ponchos seemingly rejoicing in the experience. Been there, done that.

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By Geraldine Wyckoff

It’s impossible to ignore/forget how the first day, Thursday, April 25, of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage’s 50th anniversary began. It rained torrentially, enough so that the opening of the festival’s gates was delayed for an hour and a half. That the festival organizers were able to get it all going again so fast was both remarkable and appreciated by attendees. Of course, Jazz Fest and many regular festival-goers have much experience with downpours and the resulting muddy conditions. Let the show go on!

With some calculated planning matched by flexibility, Fest fans really could do well musically despite sudden cloud bursts that warranted taking shelter by most, but not all, folks. Crazy young and old music maniacs just stood out there in their boots and rain ponchos seemingly rejoicing in the experience. Been there, done that.

The joyful voices of Arthur and the Friends Community Choir simply drowned out the sound of the rain pounding on the roof of the Gospel Tent. A powerful ensemble of some 40-plus members, it was driven by a great band of young musicians with the drummer really hitting on all cylinders. The ever in motion, Rosalie “The Tambourine Lady” Washington, added the ring of the tambourine to the percussive element of the set that included some screamin’ solo vocalists.

Even the Gospel Tent staff was dancing on Sunday when octogenarian Andrew Jackson Sr., the leader of the Legendary Rocks of Harmony, stood at the edge of the stage and with the strength of a much younger man belted out, “I’m Still Here.” His son, Andrew Jr., joined him and soon thereafter took off his deep green jacket and got down on the floor with his microphone. All the veterans in this group, which has been together for 60 years, got into the action and spirit. The fine guitarist offered a wonderful rendition of “Amazing Grace” and even the keyboardist jumped up to dance. “Do we look good?” Jackson asked the crowd. Wow, yes they looked as good as they sounded with their green suits and vests set off by their yellow shirts.

 

The Cultural Exchange Pavilion, the dancing-est spot at the Fest, was a great place to be, rain or shine. It must have been around 4 p.m. Thursday, just after drummer Gerald French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band’s exhilarating set in Economy Hall that blue skies appeared in the west. It was the perfect time to celebrate by jumping on Martinique’s Chouval Bwa’s fanciful carousel, located next to the Pavilion, while the band, complete with percussion instruments, an accordionist and vocalists, plays in its center. The music so beautifully accompanies the ride on the hand-carved and man-powered carousel that looks innocent enough until it really gets going. In this case, New Orleans’ term for a merry-go-round, flying-horses, suits the ride well. Whee…

New Orleans headliners took over the Jazz Tent on Friday including established groups such as trumpeter Terence Blanchard & the E-Collective and the all-star band, Astral Project. Lovers of those deep, low tones certainly dug on the group baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen, Treme Brass Band) put together for his appropriately titled “Baritone Bliss,” that included Lewis, Tony Dagradi, Calvin Johnson, Khari Allen Lee and more on bari plus a bass saxophonist who really held down the bottom. Dedicated to the late saxophonist Tim Green, who once played with this unit, the Bliss’ selections offered an appealing variety of genre’s from Dagradi’s “Mandela” to old-school rhythm and blues.

Saxophonist Kidd Jordan, who performed with his four musical offspring on Saturday, sat in the front row of the Jazz Tent listening to pianist Ellis Marsalis and his hugely talented four sons close out the modern jazz fest mecca on Sunday. The set was dedicated to wife and mother Delores Marsalis, who passed away in 2017. Like the Rocks of Harmony’s lead vocalist, Andrew Jackson Sr. mentioned above, the Marsalis patriarch doesn’t lay back but continues to push the music forward with his improvisations. The show was one of great jazz ability and of the musicians’ visible admiration of each other’s intuitive and educated prowess.

The Marsalis Brothers: Brandford, Wynton and Delfeayo (Photo by:

Sunday began with a one-two punch of the blues starting with the Mississippi hill country dynamo singer, drummer and guitarist Cedric Burnside, the grandson of the late, legendary R.L. Burnside. Playing in a duo and switching from guitar to drums, Burnside happily attacked the snare and tom, putting his whole body into the song “Don’t Leave Me Girl.” Burnside’s stripped-down blues style stood in contrast to that of his fellow Mississippi native, guitarist/vocalist Mr. Sipp “The Mississippi Blues Child,” who played fronting a full band with horns in the Blues Tent the previous day. Nonetheless, that the two acts shared a common ancestry was evident. By the way, Mr. Sipp demanded that everyone in the crowd get on their feet, which is just what they always want to do in the often overly restricted Blues Tent.

The commonality shared by Burnside and Mr. Sipp also, unexpectedly, prevailed when Mdou Moctar, a resident of Niger, Africa, who as a guitarist, songwriter and vocalist specializes in electrifying and modernizing the music of the Saharan Tuareg people, performed directly after Burnside. Highly influenced by guitarist Jimi Hendrix with deep roots in the tradition of his people, Moctar demonstrated the full circle of the African diaspora. The music and rhythms were, through those enslaved, brought from the continent to points west including the Southern United States and remain a strong element in the blues. Moctar embraced the influences of Black American artists thus he returned their music to its homeland. Burnside’s drumming and the forceful style of Moctar’s drummer spoke of their rhythmic roots. Music is one world.

This article originally appeared in the Louisiana Weekly

Bay Area

Bishop Bob Jackson Celebrates 38 Years at Acts Full

On May 5, Rev. W.R., “Smokie” Norful Jr. preached the sermon. Norful is an American gospel singer and pianist, best known for his 2002 album, “I Need You Now” and “Nothing Without You,” which won a Grammy at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2004.

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Bishop Bob Jackson, First Lady Barbara Jackson, Rev. Smokie Norful, Gospel recording artist, and Cathy D. Adams, president and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.
Bishop Bob Jackson, First Lady Barbara Jackson, Rev. Smokie Norful, Gospel recording artist, and Cathy D. Adams, president and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

From May 4-6, 2022, hundreds of well-wishers came to celebrate with the senior pastor of Acts-Full Gospel Church of God in Christ, Bishop Robert (Bob) L. Jackson, as he marked 38 years of service. On May 5, Rev. W.R., “Smokie” Norful Jr. preached the sermon. Norful is an American gospel singer and pianist, best known for his 2002 album, “I Need You Now” and “Nothing Without You,” which won a Grammy at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2004. Norful received his second Grammy in 2015 at the 57th Annual Grammy awards for his song “No Greater Love,” 10 years after winning his first.

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Art

Marin Fair Competitive Exhibits Open for Entry

“We are thrilled to provide an array of online competitions for our community during our outdoor only 2022 Fair,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella Calicchio. “The Competitive Exhibits program is the heart and soul of the Fair and we’re excited to bring our talented community together again to participate.”

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Marin County Fair “So Happy Together!” returns June 30-July 4

Courtesy of Marin County

2022 Marin County Fair Poster depicting a variety of farm animals with the Marin County Civic Center and Marin Fairgrounds property in the background. San Rafael, California — With Marin County Fair’s June 30 opening day just around the corner, the Competitive Exhibits categories for the 2022 Fair are now available on the Fair’s website MarinFair.org.

The competitive exhibit program, which usually takes place indoors, will remain online for one more year and will include competitions such as fine art and photography, decorated cakes and cookies, wine and beer label design, clothing and textiles, cartoon art, exceptional art, poetry and creative writing, hobbies and crafts, and more. The Plein Air painting competition on the first day of the Fair will take place outdoors. The agriculture competitions will remain outdoors and will include poultry, rabbits, sheep dog trials, pocket pets, dog care and training, and small animal round robin showmanship, to name a few.

“We are thrilled to provide an array of online competitions for our community during our outdoor only 2022 Fair,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella Calicchio. “The Competitive Exhibits program is the heart and soul of the Fair and we’re excited to bring our talented community together again to participate.”

The full list of categories and entry guidelines is available online at MarinFair.org. Submissions will be accepted from May 6 to May 31 and winners will be announced online during Fair time.

The 2022 fair will also focus on outdoor entertainment including the headline concerts, performers roaming the grounds such as jugglers, unicyclists, and stilt walkers, and interactive art experiences for fans of all ages. Returning fair favorites will include traditional carnival rides, the Global Marketplace, the Barnyard, food and drinks, and fireworks every night over the Civic Center’s Lagoon Park.

Early bird tickets sold out within one day of release. Discounted Fair tickets are still available for adults and teens through June 29. The Fair is a one-price gate featuring 28 carnival rides, exciting exhibits, spectacular firework displays, first-rate concerts and exciting attractions are FREE with gate admission. Tickets are available online only at MarinFair.org.

Headline concerts will soon be announced, and reserved gold circle tickets will go on sale May 16. Reserved concert seating in a special section is $60 per person and includes Fair admission.

Special Admission Days:
Kids Day at the Fair – Thursday, June 30
Children 12 and under are FREE on Thursday, June 30.
Senior Day at the Fair – Thursday, June 30
Seniors 65+ are admitted FREE

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Activism

COMMENTARY: The AAPI Heritage Month Connection

The 2020 Census reports 19.9 million people (6% of all respondents) identified as Asian alone in 2020, up from 14.7 million people (4.8%) in 2010. A big increase was in the Asian “in combination” figure. Approximately 4.1 million respondents identified as Asian in combination with another race group. Do you think there’s another H.E.R. amongst them? Or an Anderson .Paak? More than one?

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. His web talk show is on Facebook.com/emilguillermo.media; YouTube; and Twitter@emilamok. See recordings on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

It’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage month.

Go hug your brothers and sisters. There’s a lot of them.

The singer H.E.R. from Vallejo. The Congressman Bobby Scott (D.-Va.). The other half of Silk Sonic, Anderson .Paak, actress Denyce Lawton (“House of Payne”). And let’s not forget The Rock, the East Bay’s own Dwayne Johnson, and of course, Tiger Woods.

They are no doubt celebrating May as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, because they’re all part Asian. It’s in their blood.

Understand that when people talk about Asian American, the group is a whole lot more diverse and inclusive than you think.

H.E.R. a/k/a Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, half-Black and half-Filipino, is a powerful reminder of our common humanity.

She won a Grammy in 2021 for Song of the Year for the George Floyd-inspired protest song, “I Can’t Breathe.”

When singers like H.E.R. sing passionately about their lives and ours, they embody an ideal vision of what can happen when we take a love interest in one another. It’s all in the heart and soul.

Of course, not all stories sound like fairy tales.

Rapper Anderson .Paak (and yes the .Paak is correct) knows the blues. He was born in Oxnard, Calif. to a bi-racial Korean woman born during the Korean American War. Anderson never met his father. He was abandoned at age 7 and raised in an orphanage until he was adopted by a Black family in Los Angeles.

He grew his musical chops as a teen, gained the attention of Dr. Dre, and made a breakthrough hit in 2018. But it wasn’t until 2021 that he reached true superstar status when he connected with Bruno Mars, another biracial Asian (Filipino, Jewish, Puerto Rican) artist to form the duo Silk Sonic. Their single, “Leave the Door Open,” won Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 64th Grammy Awards.

Those are the Asian/Black success stories right under our noses. Pop culture examples. It’s more of a thing than you think. Just know that when you cheer Hayward-born Dwayne Johnson or Tiger Woods, Asian Americans are seeing Johnson’s Samoan mom. Or Tiger’s Thai mother, Tida. Asian Americans are cheering alongside you.

Expect it to happen more and more compared to previous generations.

The 2020 Census reports 19.9 million people (6% of all respondents) identified as Asian alone in 2020, up from 14.7 million people (4.8%) in 2010.

A big increase was in the Asian “in combination” figure. Approximately 4.1 million respondents identified as Asian in combination with another race group. Do you think there’s another H.E.R. amongst them? Or an Anderson .Paak? More than one?

The growth today is reflective of an openness in our youth-oriented culture.

But the generation before were race mixers too.

They just had to overcome racist laws like Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 that made it illegal to intermarry. In the 1920s and 1930s, the anti-mixed-marriage, or anti-miscegenation laws, spread throughout the country. Even in California.

And it didn’t just ban Blacks from intermarrying. It was for Asians, too. Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos were all forbidden from marrying whites and expected to marry “their own kind.”

Only in 1967 did the Supreme Court decide that the anti-intermarriage laws violated he Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Loving case (involving the incarceration of the Black/white couple, Mildred and Richard Loving) was later used in the legal justification for same-sex marriage.

Hard to imagine we’d ever take away our rights to marry. But given the current climate with the religious right hellbent on reversing settled law like on abortion rights, we must stay vigilant.

A good way to start is by celebrating our diversity and remembering Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

NOTE: I’ll talk about this on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.

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