Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jam, Rock & Roll

Ooowheeee last week sparked with a couple of unexpected social surprises for theHotness grrrl who is slowly turning into a damn recluse! On Tuesday I attended a men’s clothing line launch. Since I am going to pretty much diss the event I will keep the brand anonymous and just say it kinda sounds like LaCoste. The invitation boasted a champagne open bar starting at 7pm, which is of course the damn reason why most of us media heads went in the first place, never mind the fact that we were there early. Of course once we get there the cute girl at the door (who was wearing Bebe-- now why wouldn’t you have a cute guy greeting folks wearing the celebrated brand is beyond me, but I’m there as a writer and not as a marketing consultant so...) informs us that the open bar would not begin until 8 and would promptly end at 9pm. Now that’s what I call a classic party hustler maneuver. So I order a pretty unspectacular cosmo and get my nibble on. No one there seemed to care about the clothing line and the people coordinating the event didn’t do anything to even peek our curiosity. No runway models, no catalogues and I won’t even get into the fact that the goodie bags were being grabbed up in the middle of the party so there were some people with like 3 bags and a number of heads like me and my girl, Aissata, who ended up with nada. Whatever happened to giving gift bags out at the end of the party-- now that would have been classy? But alas, at least the venue--Earth, was beautiful and the monstrous candle laden wall gave everyone something to talk about. DJ MOS was on the ones and his old school mixes were off the meat hooks!

Walking back to the train station and feeling disappointed, if not a wee bit buzzed from the sparkly, I called my boy Jamahl and asked him what was popping. He says he just left his boys--The Marley Boys and that they were having some kind of fashion party on 17th Street. ‘Damn that’s right around the corner,’ I holler. “Well go and use my name,” he says groggily. “You’ll have fun. I’m too tired to go.” I figure something must be up with all the fashion ish happenings in Chelsea and decide it must be destiny for me to try and swerve my way into this fete. Again, and I swear I could write the guide on industry event blather, bullshit and hype, I get to the door of what I discover is a Tuff Gong/ Fader Mag event and use the name I am given and in classic bouncer-wannabe patron convo he politely but sternly says, “No I can’t help you. You’re not on the list.” So in an even more polite tone I responded, ‘Let me make a call. Someone will come out for me.’ And then the clincher, ‘I’ll just get out of your way and step over here.” So I step aside, call my friend back and ask that he call his boy to let me in. I keep my cool and continue to make eye contact with the bouncer. Before I know it, he motions for Aissata and I to come over-- “You ladies can go in, but don’t tell anyone I let you in.” We graciously say thank-you like three times and ask for his name and then say his name and thank him again. Now that's what I call hustle and flow.

When we walk inside Drive-In Studios the music is bumping hard, the drinks are flowing from an open bar and the smell of La is thick and sweet. Next thing we know, a bunch of cute natty dreads are storming the stage and the crowd, which was probably a couple hundred thick, started applauding and shouting. I look up and hot damn I’m bout to bear witness to a once in a lifetime musical moment featuring Stephen, Ziggy, Damian, Rohan and Julian Marley. Now I’ve gone from being buzzed to just bliss. It was an irie gathering to celebrate Tuff Gong-- the record label and now clothing line launched by Bob’s seed. Yo, these boys proceeded to straight rip the set playing songs like Is This Love, Jamming, I Shot The Sheriff, Get Up Stand Up and whoa, when the band dived into Welcome To Jam Rock the entire crowd went bananzas! The live band even simulated a rewind that was followed by the kind of breaks you used to hear at block parties in the Bronx circa ’85 when deejays would play their Marley Marl mixtapes on sound systems the size of Maybachs. We were all amped and sweaty by the time the set closed, but I can tell you the air was ablaze with this undercurrent of militancy and everyone there knew we had just experienced something so special. See for yourself.

On Thursday night thanks to a last minute gesture of appreciation and some homegrrrl luv, Laurie-- the publisher of BUST Magazine got me on the list for Esthero’s show at Irving Plaza. Before I can even get into Esthero’s pyrotechics on the mic I gotta give props to her opening act—Leela James. Girlfriend’s vocals are countrified like grits and red eye gravy country thick. I really loved her flavor. Unfortunately she spent almost half her set doing funk covers which were really good, no doubt. But I’m always checking for originality and the songs she finally sang from her album were pretty memorable albeit a bit too mellow especially after doing Give It To Me Baby and especially since most of us had been there standing for atleast 45 minutes waiting for the show to start and at 9:45pm needed some uptempos and some edge.

Esthero on the other hand hit the stage running and never looked back until her 75-minute set was over. Even then, she was singing We R In Need from the balcony amongst her fans. With the edge of Blondie, the sexy playfulness of Madonna and the sultry flyness of Gwen Stefani, Esthero sung each of her songs new and old with so much freakin fervor that you couldn’t help but get caught up in her melodic madness. I think she said that this was her first major performance to promote her first record in 6 years! And you can tell from the energy and love she put into songs like Breath From Another, Country Livin’ and a new joint—Gone, that the Toronto native apparently had a lot to get off her chest. I’m feeling her now just because she puts MTV on blast for always playing Ashanti and disses R. Kelly for his alleged sex scandals. Mad folks were in the house too. I saw Rich Nice, Jayson Jackson who is quoted in the current issue of Trace about his relationship with Lauryn Hill, and even Andre 3000 was there kickin it too. Well Leela’s first single is a remake of “A Change Is Gonna Come” and after this night I really feel like music heads are about to switch things up a bit. Don’t you?


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