Diamond in the Back

 

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you’ve got
Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean”

Most people think Curtis Mayfield, wrote this song, but it was William DeVaughn, from Washington D.C. (Southeast).

It fitted Mayfield’s mindset during the 1970’s, when African Americans were in protest of the Vietnam war. Soldiers had returned, populating the street corners, dressed in tattered clothing, looking for hand outs. the drug trade was enveloping the inner cities, white wall tires, and Cadillac cars were symbols of success. Curtis was not the only one singing the “blues”. Miles Davis in horn play, said “SO WHAT!”

Etta James, Nina Simone were heading to their graves unhappy. African Americans are not singing the blues, or playing jazz where the youth are entranced, as happened to those epochs of the 1950,and 1960’s.

It is said the blues is in every music, some say as recent as that of Tupac Shakur  (Baltimore). “Rap”, not filled with virtues, as can be found in the traditional genre.

In a renewed effort to showcase Black Composers in the Baltimore Maryland area, Honestly Speaking.Org. teamed up with Henry Young of An die Musik, and held their second performance this June, 2018. I bring you a sample, featuring P.J. MORGAN (piano);MIKE GARY (guitar); HERMAN BURNEY (bass); ERIC KENNEDY (drums) SHANE CROMWELL (poetry). Nicole Morgan outlines the organization’s ambitions; Lisa Weems, does the introduction.

 

 

Nicole Morgan, of Honestly Speaking.Org

Nicole Morgan happy to be associated with the promotion of black composers in Baltimore Md.

Benjamin in Black not Green

Crystal and Natalie Proctor

Crystal and Natalie are of the descendants of the PISCATAWAY nation of Baltimore MD. Taking pictures in Banneker Park, June 2018

David Bellamy (actor)

In a replica of Benjamin Banneker’s tiny wood cabin, actor David Bellamy commenting on the various pieces and functions in Banneker’s tiny cabin.

It is the name most Americans associate with treasure, and whose name and face grace the one hundred dollar bill, BENJAMIN, his surname, FRANKLIN.

The other Benjamin, BANNEKER, was black, self taught, and became a renowned astronomer, showing brilliance at an early age. He even challenged Thomas Jefferson on his views of equality among the races.

When the Ellicotts went on assignment, Banneker became the trusted one to finish the mapping of the federal boundaries along the Potomac, now known as Washington D.C.

His study of the planets, led to producing almanacs with predictions. He received “Benjamins” for bank deposits.

He was born in Baltimore, MD., grew up in a log cabin near Ellicott City; (were he alive, he might have predicted the sequential floods of 2016 and 2018).

For the past nine years, the Banneker Park has celebrated, Benjamin Banneker, quietly. This year, June, 2018, its under the banner of THE COLONIAL MARKET FAIR. So apart from looking at his tiny cabin, his bed, that looks similar to a child’s crib, there was rope making,singing and the reenactment, of the native Indian Piscataway  dances.

Benjamin in black did not quite get to age 75, and is now worth more of the other Benjamin, (Green) than when he was alive.

Steve Bilanow (Colonial Fair organizer)

Steve in typical 17-18 century attire, enjoying one of his many roles at the Colonial Market Fair, Banneker Park. June 2018.

 

 

Another Try for Park Heights

 

  “Park Heights”, Baltimore Maryland. Once a thriving and essential part of the Baltimore, community, this gave rise to an important throughway to downtown.

The civil rights movement came through in the 1960’s, then white flight took shape, and the separation was even more palpable: the less fortunate remained in what conversationally had the label, “lower Park Heights”; residents north of Northern Parkway, labeled “Upper Park Heights”. “Lochearn”, “Randallstown”, “Owings Mills”.

Neglect spawned unemployment, and its twin, crime. There is no industry of merit in Lower Park Heights. Pimlico Race Track, is for retirees, who don’t want to fight traffic to visit LIVE and HORSHOE casinos.

This community is primarily black, and Sinai the only hospital, (Provident Hospital, long gone) carries a patient load that is overwhelmingly black. It is summer 2018, and someone ought to try something to make the residents feel good about themselves.

George Mitchell of http://www.yesactionnow.org, took over the Langston Hughes Elementary School, and converted it to a Community Business Center, full of educational and business activities.

For those who remember when, he has added JAZZ throughout this summer, starting this month (June), with the DT Express. Take a look:

Denise Thomas live in concert

June 2018, lead vocalist, Denise Thomas in concert at the Langston Hughes Business Center, Park Heights, Baltimore Md.

Please Silence Your Phones

 

Walk don’t run to the nearest exit. The usual requests before a performance whether it be a movie or live theatre.

Once again I was at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and their final concert for the winter, featuring the CHRISTIAN SANDS TRIO. An almost sold out house watched nimble fingers effortlessly dance between the black and white keys of the piano. His body was leaving the piano stool as though he was about to do the “shmoney” “dougie” or “wobble”.

“Ping, pebble, bong, ping ping”. In the midst of a particular piece, there was a pause, when that “ping” sound was heard. It obviously did not come from the band, but from the audience, a cell phone ring. Christian smiled, and repeated that sound on his piano, the audience, which was frowning at the cell phone interruption, applauded Christian’s take on the mental mishap of the cell phone owner; (who did not silence or turn off the phone before the performance).

That little 7 note ditty Christian used throughout his DREAM music presentation, showing how instant, extensive, and vast a musical vocabulary he posses.

From Connecticut, to Baltimore by way of Manhattan School of Music, I present Christian Sands, accompanied by ERIC WHEELER on bass and JEROME JENNINGS on drums. Courtesy of the BALTIMORE CHAMBER JAZZ SOCIETY.