Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Highlights

Here are some of the personal highlights for me from this year:

Highlights of 2010

1. Interview & performance of “Breathless” with Gabriel Newell on Power 94
2. Starting up MANIFEST
3. Having Speakeasy turn 1
4. Being in the paper several times
5. Moving Speakeasy to The Office
6. Performing in (and partying after) the New Reason/New Renaissance Art Show
7. Performing in Rhyme-n-Chatt’s Love Groove
8. Starting Night & the City and performing with Travis Kilgore
9. Playing in Loopstock 2 with Kevin Klein and Butch Ross
10. Interviews and performances on the radio
11. Selling out of Ghosts & Echoes two years in a row
12. Performing at UTC 3 times
13. Live streaming and podcasts of Speakeasy
14. Attending the New Voices poetry reading
15. Playing guitar in the Christian Collier 7 in January
16. Meting a number of new and talented individuals
17. Performing in God’s Trombones (RIP Pastor Strong)
18. Performing in the To Haiti with Love benefit
19. Recording with Kyle MacKillop
20. Recording “Moving On” with Troy Underwood
21. Performing at JJ’s Bohemia
22. Performing with the Rogue Writers
23. Mainx24
24. Creating Strange Bedfellows with Mark Holder

Monday, December 27, 2010

Free Giveaway

Hey Folks,

As some of you know, MANIFEST III is on January 14th. The musical feature this time around is a jazz band called The Undoctored Originals (I've posted about them before). I've recently been given a cd of their best live recordings of this year, so I figured it was a good opportunity to put the music out there for your consumption. If you like what you here, come out in January and see them live. You'll ALSO be witnessing the live visual art talents of Jody Harris, Kristen Rogers, and Whitney-Nave Jones (plus a few poems by yours truly).

You can download the live recordings from the band here:

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Greetings everyone,

As the year winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about last year and this one. The past few years have really been tremendous for me in a creative sense. However, last year, I had a good deal of turmoil in my personal life. I’ve been holding onto a number of things and have just accepted the changes that have come as a result of last year’s negativity.

In December of last year, I started working on a poem called Weight. The poem is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. As I was working on the piece, I did a lot of research on the man and learned a number of things that I didn’t know. Also, all through the course of this year, I continued to research Dr. King, his final days, sermons, etc. All of the things I’ve come across have provided me with a tremendous amount to think about and apply to my everyday life.

Today, with only a few days remaining in 2010, I came across Dr. King’s sermon on forgiveness. If you’re unfamiliar with it, I’ll include it below. Let me know what you think. There’s a line in my poem Weight that reads, “Martin showed us that it takes a special heart/to will itself to do the supernatural/ to both love & forgive those who labor on ruination.” I’m going to challenge myself to try to legitimately forgive those who gossiped about me, worked to soil my name, called me a nigger, etc. My goal is to free myself up of lingering negativity in order to make way for greater things in my life. I’m also going to challenge you who come across this to do the same.

Loving Your Enemies
by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The following sermon was delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King wrote it whi1e in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott. Let us be practical and ask the question. How do we love our enemies?

First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words "I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done" never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship.
Likewise, we can never say, "I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you." Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.

Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

Second, we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us has something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives. Something within us causes us to lament with Ovid, the Latin poet, "I see and approve the better things, but follow worse," or to agree with Plato that human personality is like a charioteer having two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in a different direction, or to repeat with the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath. the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God's image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God's redemptive love.

Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.

Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multi# plies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies-or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims. We have seen its ugly consequences in the ignominious deaths brought to six million Jews by hate-obsessed madman named Hitler, in the unspeakable violence inflicted upon Negroes by bloodthirsty mobs, in the dark horrors of war, and in the terrible indignities and injustices perpetrated against millions of God's children by unconscionable oppressors.

But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies. The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more than three centuries American Negroes have been battered by the iron rod of oppression, frustrated by day and bewildered by night by unbearable injustice and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.

While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strange Bedfellows Wrap-Up & MANIFEST III Info

Strange Bedfellows last night was great! I think everyone had a lot of fun, and Mr. Mark Holder and I got the green light to do it again. Right now, we’re eyeing either January 22nd or the 29th. Of course, when we get it ironed out, the info will be out there with a vengeance.

By the way, I want to showcase some of the pictures that my friend Tolan snapped last night. He’s been doing his thing behind the lens as of late.

Aside from all the fun we had last night, I’m looking forward to MANIFEST III. Our featured musical act this time around will be The Undoctored Originals, who are an incredible improve jazz band. I’ll post some of their youtube videos below so that you can check them out. We’re also going to feature live art by some local visual artists, so it’s definitely something unique to check out.

MANIFEST III is going to be taking place on January 14th. Mark your calendars! I’ll announce the featured organization we’ll be raising donations for by the end of this week. I certainly hope to catch you lovely boys and girls out at the Camp House on that date.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MAINFEST, Strange Bedfellows, & Speakeasy: Oh My

What a weekend. MANIFEST 2 went very well on Friday. Amber Fults, Dana Rogers, and Holly McCormack all killed it, and I think that the people who managed to make it out for the event got the opportunity not only to see and hear them, but to feel like they know the ladies a little bit.

As you know if you’ve been keeping up with this blog, we were taking donations for Partnership’s Family Violence Center. We managed to raise $50 for them, which made me happy. We were also fortunate to have Carmen, who is a representative from Partnership, speak at the beginning of the night about all the different programs that Partnership has, their primary objectives, etc. I felt very pleased when she approached me about halfway through the night and told me how much she enjoyed what we were doing.

The next MANIFEST event will take place on January 14th. The Undoctored Originals (I’ve posted about them before) will be our featured musical act. Also, we’ll have live artwork produced, as well. It’s going to be dope. If you’re a lover of improve jazz, visual art, and some poetry, come check out what we’ve got going down. It’s a good way to start 2011 off.

Switching gears, STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is going down Saturday, Dec. 18th. We’re getting underway at 8:30. It’ll be held at the MOCCASIN BEND BREWING COMPANY (4015 TENNESSEE AVE). Admission is $3. Megan Hollenbeck, Marcus Ellsworth, Brandi Alexander, Mark “Porkchop” Holder, etc. will be performing. Also, I received confirmation a few days back that children ARE welcome to attend.

Lastly, keep in mind that the last THREE Speakeasy poetry/spoken word open-mics of 2010 are ahead of us. It’ll be a new year before you know it. If you dig poetry and haven’t come to The Speakeasy (or were unaware of it), we do it every Wednesday night @ The Office (901 Carter St. It’s in the lounge of the downtown City CafĂ©). I put the list out at 8 and, because we’re doing live streaming and podcasting now, we get rolling at 9. You have to be at least 21 with a valid I.D. to attend, but if that’s not an issue, come on down. There’s no language restriction and I’d be more than happy to put you on the microphone (if you just want to listen, that’s fine as well.)

Well folks, that’s all I got for now. I’ll catch up with you later. Don’t be strangers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mainx24 Aftermath

So, yesterday marked my very first Mainx24 in Chattanooga. I am very pleased to say that I had an amazing time. It was very inspiring to see so much going on artistically in the city, and to actually be a part of it. All in all, I ended up performing three sets at different spots downtown before finally calling it a night.

I had the pleasure of doing a 15-minute set at Create Here, and it was big fun. When I came in, Blues Hammer were finishing up. I set myself up on the microphone on the other side of the room and kind of eyed the audience. I knew it was going to be a situation where most of the people wouldn’t know what to expect from me, but I always dig the challenge that that presents.

At 2:15, I got introduced, and I went into my set. I was very pleased with the crowd response (and my promptness. I ended right at 2:30, so I covered my time with a vengeance!). After I jumped off the mic, I met some very nice and interesting individuals, including a discotherapist.

Later on, we did the MANIFEST performance portion of the Camp House schedule, and Hara Paper, Amber Fults, and Sourne Korvid with DJ Spyarms killed it. Every single one of them showed why I hand-picked them to play.

Once again, the crowd response was great. I think people genuinely had a good time. I put the word out about MANIFEST 2, which takes place next Friday, so hopefully, some of the peeps who attended yesterday will make it out.

Obviously, I’m excluding A LOT of my experience yesterday. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask me about some of the other things that I witnessed. Until then, friends, I’ll see you at Speakeasy and MANIFEST 2 this week. Vaya con dios.