Sunday, December 30, 2012

Highlights for 2012


As we’re rapidly approaching the end of 2012, I’ve put my finishing touches on my personal highlights for the year. What an amazing year it’s been. I’ve enjoyed being a performer, being a fan, being a supporter of friends, and allowing a number of experiences to resonate with me. I’m really looking forward to what 2013 holds for me. Hopefully, things will just keep building. I’m certainly going to do my part, brothers and sisters.

1. Spoken Word Night (1/5/12) in Dahlonega, GA
2. Random gig @ The AGM Building on 1/28
3. Press Pause Play
4. Kofi Mawuko event at Bessie Smith
5. Winning the Origami Poems Project Contest
6. Freestyling with beatboxer Nathan McKay at open-mic
7. HATCH Scramble
8. Speakeasy 420
9. Collaborations
10. Art Amok
11. Killer Mike/El-P
12. Hunter Gig 6/28
13. Eclectic 6/30
14. Playing my demo at The Hunter
15. MANIFEST Presents Speakeasy 7/14
16. Meeting Isaac Duncan
17. Eclectic 8/31
18. Love's Theme on 9/8
19. Ambien Songs & sleep.
20. Press Pause Play at The Hunter on 9/20
21. Brother Ali on 9/21
22. Minus the Bear 10/24
23. Vacant Outlet Tour
24. Therapy
25. Vacant Outlet @ Lori & Brenda's 11/3
26. Mainx24
27. Jamming with Lauryn
28. Seeing W. Kamau Bell on 12/12
29. Gods & Disasters
Augusta, GA on 12/20
31. Urban Grind 12/27

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Favorite Albums (& an EP) of 2012


Well, it has happened. I’ve finally finished my list of favorite records for 2012. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of these offerings and look forward to what 2013 holds for my ears.
  1. Brother Ali – The Bitemarked Heart
  2. Eliza Rickman – O, You Sinners
  3. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
  4. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
  5. Big Krit – Live from the Underground
  6. Frank OceanChannel Ocean
  7. Brother Ali – Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color
  8. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
  9. Nas – Life is Good
  10. P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here
  11. Angel Snow – Angel Snow
  12. Big Boi – Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
  13. Esthero – Everything is Expensive
If I had to pick an overall favorite album, it would probably have to be Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color by Brother Ali with Killer Mike’s album placing a really close second. Ali’s project was exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it and it resonates with me on a more personal level than Mike’s jawn does.
So, now that you’ve got my list, kiddies, what are your faves? I want to see what you fine folks have been jamming out to over the past 12 months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012



Well, gang, the world didn’t end last week and we’re just coming out of Christmas. Hopefully, you had a good one. Even if you didn’t celebrate, I hope that you had a good day with people that you love… or, at the very least, could tolerate.

Last week was SUCH an emotional week. It happened unexpectedly so, too. Last Wednesday, I had a conversation with someone who had repeatedly wronged me on a personal level after over a year without speaking. I always imagined the first words coming out of my mouth being REALLY intense, but that didn’t happen. I had the chance to efficiently speak my peace, however, and I really surprised myself by telling this individual that despite all of the negativity, the blame, the deception, etc. that they were the root of, I still find it in myself to love them as a person. I DEFINITELY didn’t expect to say that, and that statement really kind of tripped me out for a few days. Your Friendly Neighborhood Xtian had a Zen moment.

The very next day, I jumped in the mobile office aka my car, and set out on a mini-tour. I got invited to feature at the M.A.D. Studios open-mic in Augusta, GA, so I made the trek down. I saw such gorgeous skies while I was en route. It was kind of like the world was opening up to me (I’m getting far too new agey here).

In any case, when I arrived in Augusta, I had an amazing time. I love being in creative settings, and I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to see the participants perform. I was in complete sponge mode.

When my time came to perform, everyone was UBER nice. I had a blast, which was great because I was JUST emerging out of being really sick. I managed to get my energy back the day before, and my voice was still very much a work in progress.

After I jumped off the mic and the night ended, I really enjoyed meeting everyone. If you’ve known me for any length of time or followed this blog at all, you know that that connection is something that I adore immensely. I had the chance to meet some phenomenally nice and talented people, and that was big fun for me. I also managed to completely sell out of Ghosts & Echoes (HOORAY!), so I’ll have to crank some more books out in the near future.

The next day, I performed a home show for a couple in Roswell, GA. Home shows are still very new to me, but I really appreciate the intimacy of the gigs. Roswell is really becoming a favorite place for me in Georgia. Last year, I took part in an incredible poetry slam there, and, now, having the chance to infiltrate some homes and do my thing feels great.

Switching gears, the next MANIFEST will be on January 12th at The Camp House. I’ll be shooting out more info about that in the near future. I figured we would ring in 2013 Speakeasy style, so come on out and do what you do!

Lastly, I’ll be breaking down my 2012 personal highlights and top albums soon. Stay tuned, and I’m completely ready to argue music with you (j/k)! In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, and, like Pony Boy, stay GOLD!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gods & Disasters Review

Theatre Review: "Gods & Disasters"

December 13, 2012
The day the tornadoes struck chattanooga and Hamilton County in April 2011, I was in a media bunker—a radio station’s broadcasting studio, watching the storms pulse ever closer on the giant electronic weather map. I was safe—but I was helpless. I couldn’t leave—I was working and needed—but I had no idea what I would find when I got home. Would I still have a house? Would my dogs still be there? What about friends and neighbors?
I was one of the lucky ones that day. But most of us have experienced the paralyzing sense of waiting for a storm to hit … hearing the winds rise and the branches creak and snap. “Will it be this time?” you ask yourself.

In Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga’s last show of their 2012 season, “Gods & Disasters,” that feeling of incipient terror is explored in movement, dance and spoken word. Not a play in the classic sense, the piece is a collaboration between ETC’s artistic director, Garry Lee Posey, dance mavens Ann Law and Angela Sweet, vocalist Brandi Alexander, and spoken-word artist Marcus Ellsworth. The result is fascinating; at various times riveting or dreamlike, at times a little too extended, but the highs are definitely worth the lows.

The 90-minute intermission-less piece is divided into four parts: “The Calm Before,” “The Storm,” “The Aftermath” and “Reflection.” In “The Calm Before,” conceived by Ann Law, Law, Katelynd Frierson and Mario Brooks dance a piece that, to me at least, evokes both the busywork of an average day, and at the same time, an uneasy dread of something impending. Christian Collier’s “soundscape” for this piece is masterful.

“The Storm,” conceived by Brandi Alexander and staged by Garry Lee Posey, was my favorite section because of Bruce Shaw’s funny yet menacing “weatherman,” and especially E. Devante Williams as the leering, malevolent spirit of the storm itself. Also a shout out to the show’s youngest cast member, John Calvin Sweet IV, who has a future in theater if he wants one.

“The Aftermath,” conceived, choreographed and sound designed by Angela Sweet, is hypnotic and features amazing, uncredited costumes for its eight dancers, but needs trimming to capture its full power. Yet the opening image of the dancers on the floor, pushed together like flotsam on a beach post-storm is gorgeous. The piece also movingly captures the idea of people coming together after a disaster, joined together in survival if nothing else.

“The Reflection,” conceived and written by Marcus Ellsworth, evokes particular storms and individual stories. Bruce Shaw again shines in his long monologue; a line that stood out: “People whose biggest crime was that they survived.” Monessa Guilfoil’s soulful tribute to our own losses—and will to carry on—is also wonderful, but kudos all around to the performers in this piece, who also include Mario Brooks, Brandi Alexander and Shasta Vance.

“Gods & Disasters” is also the last show in ETC’s three-year home in the St. Andrews Center. Next year the company will move to a new theater being built for them in the Eastgate Center. Congratulations to ETC on a lovely and fitting adieu, and best wishes for their challenging and exciting line-up for the New Year.

Gods & Disasters

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15,
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17
Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, 1918 Union Ave.
(412) 987-5141

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Welcome to the final month of 2012! This year’s sped by. I remember EXACTLY what was going on last year at this same time and have actually come full circle on a few things. I feel that the past fifty-two weeks have been an exercise in turning inward and advocating more for self. I’ve learned A LOT in that span of time and truly consider myself to be fortunate.

December continues to be shape up to be quite the month. I’ve been booked for a number of solo shows including a very fun house performance last night. Last night would’ve been our MANIFEST night, but due to my level of activity, I just couldn’t swing it. However, I’m of the mind that it has been entirely too long since we’ve had a gathering (dinner, bowling, etc.). I think this could be a good opportunity to do so. If you’ve got any suggestions, friends, feel free to shoot them my way.

On the 1st of the month, we had Mainx24 in good ol’ Chattanooga. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s pretty much a 23-hr. crash course in all things creative that the Scenic City has to offer. I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet some new people, and really just soak up the energy.

I performed at the Wide Open Floor event, and that was big fun. A pleasant surprise was seeing Ann Law from Barking Legs perform using the first part of my 3 Faces of the Storm instrumental. It was my first time getting to see some of what and the other dancers would be doing for the “Gods and Disasters” show that’s currently running at ETC. Man, I felt like a proud papa taking it all in.

Switching gears, on 12/12/12, I’ll have the distinct honor and privilege of seeing Mr. W. Kamau Bell perform in Nashville. I’m so looking forward to it. Kamau’s been one of my favorite discoveries this year, so it’ll be great to see him do his thing live. Oh, and as if that wasn’t cool enough on its own, I’ll also be meeting the brotha after the show. Mua ha ha!!! Hump Day’s looking up, brothers and sisters.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Be good, don’t hurt anybody while you’re out shopping, and don’t be strangers, y’hear?