Showing posts with label Jamie writes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jamie writes. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Adventures in Egypt - The Nile Project - Blog 1

Hello! Welcome back to my blog. I know it's been so long, but this is the best way for me to report on what I've been experiencing here in Egypt and the Nile Project. 

Remember when I interviewed Bay Area based singer/songwriter Meklit Hadero about their kickstarter campaign? Well I was serious when I said I wanted to go!

I am in Aswan, Egypt, located in the Southern part of the country, home to the Aswan Dam, the High Dam, The Philae Temple and the region where the ancient Egyptians quarried the stones used to build the Pyramids in Cairo. The people here are Nubian, the food is yummy, the weather is mild, the internet isn't reliable, I'm sure I am getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and the River is beautiful. I will be in Aswan until January 29th, then in Cairo for a few days to produce some concerts and then I travel to Israel to visit family.

So, why am I here? I am volunteering for the Nile Project. In a nutshell, the Project is seeking to bring the people of the Nile River (consisting of 11 countries) together and encourage them to rethink of the River as a communal lifeblood and common eco-system. It is an ethnomusicologists dream. Music is wonderful, and it makes people feel beautiful things. But adding an extra level of this kind of community engagement and humanitarian dream is something I couldn't pass up being a part of.

This first of many residencies to come has two parts. The first part, that has just ended, brings together scholars, musicians, scientists, conflict resolvers, engineers, educators, community organizers, etc. from across the globe (Africa, North America, Europe and Asia were all represented). As of today (Tuesday January 15th) most of these people have left Aswan.

The second part of the residency is the music. Starting tomorrow, twenty-or-so musicians will begin arriving representing the eleven Nile basin region. They will write music inspired by the Nile River and perform this music at the end of the month both in Aswan and in Cairo. There will also be an audio recording.

I am here to help in anyway I can. So far I have co-written an article for a English language Sudanese website. I have also had my camera out as much as possible contributing to the facebook and twitter pages.

It has been amazing listening and learning from these talented and motived people from across Eastern Africa. Check out the photos below. They are all beautiful people and I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with them.


This is the most expensive horse ride I've ever been on. I had many hours to kill in Cairo before flying to Aswan, so I decided to take a cab down to the pyramids. They hoodwinked me into riding a horse and spending more money that I should have... but alas, when in Cairo...

The Fekra Cultural Center, where I am staying for the 2.5 weeks

Meeting in the tent

A local musician hanging out showing off his homemade string instruments.

Meklit Hadero (one of the Bay Area founders) and me on the Nile 

Elephantine Island - Populated by Nubians displaced by floods caused by the construction of the High Dam. There are beautiful wall treatments all over the Island.

Downtown Aswan

Arty. One of the Nile Project organizers brought her. She's being fostered and is encouraging me to take her home. There are so many stray dogs in Egypt, for realz, let me know if you're interested. This chicky is a sweetheart. And it sounds like international adoption (of pets) isn't too difficult.

Folks meet on the top of the Fekra Center overlooking the Nile.

The living room of the AMAZING apartment I stayed at for the first three days. 

This is a trashcan. No joke.

Check out this video blog tour of the apartment. Don't laugh too hard at me. I had just woken up. I was trying to be quiet because people were still sleeping and I have a cold :)

Rooftop with the Nile behind

Nile Project co-founder Mina Girgis shares a laugh with Ali Askouri from Sudan (we co-wrote this article together) 

A map of the Nile Basin, covering eleven countries.

In the Nubian village, they also must summon Batman from time to time.

Abeer (Egyptian) and Barbara (American)

Meklit (Ethiopia via USA), Abdi (Kenya) and Lama (Egypt).

Moses (Uganda) and Ezekiel (Kenya)

Awesome wall art in Aswan

All the cabs in Aswan are from the 70s. I love them.

The High Dam, which the USSR helped to build

Jen and me at the High Dam overlooking Lake Nassar. We originally met at a pool party last summer in the Bay Area. She's now researching the social effects of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.

Egyptian FEAST for every meal.

Weaving scarves

Lunch at Anakato Hotel

 Hibiscus sweet tea

Stay tuned for more to come. I will also be posting more photos on facebook. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm the editor of 'All Together Now: Women in Music' and it's a kickstarter campaign that needs your support

The photo above is my choir Conspiracy of Venus (I was not in the group when it was taken) by my friend, photographer Audra Marie Dewitt. The photographs are part of a book she's self-publishing called All Together Now: Women in Music . Right now there is a kickstarter campaign to get this book printed, and it needs your support!

Click here to see the kickstarter campaign. ONLY 7 MORE DAYS!

Read this post I wrote on Hear it Local's blog addressing why a book about female musicians is needed. This is a book for anyone who's ever wanted to stay true to themselves and "follow their bliss" (Thank you Miho Hatori)!

Audra gave me editor credit in the book, which is really awesome! In the last three years I've helped out and worked on researching and contacting artists as well as copy editing and marketing. I saw the mock up, which is gorgeous, and figured I had a hand in about half of the images. I'm very proud of this project.

Women included in All Together Now are on the famous side as well as unsung heroines of their genres. Here are some of the ladies that are in the book:
  • Corin Tucker, of Sleater Kinney, and The Corin Tucker Band
  • Exene Cervenka, of X, and Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners
  • Miho Hatori, of Cibo Matto, Gorillaz, and Smokey and Miho
  • Claire Evans, of Yacht
  • Sean Yesult, bassist of White Zombie
  • Noelle Scaggs, of Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Amanda Palmer, does she really need a byline?
  • Peaches, electro raunch queen
  • Theresa Andersson, Swedish born/New Orleans dwelling songstress
  • Jolie Holland, Americana singer-songwriter
  • Faye Carol, jazz/blues vocalist
  • Rachel Flotard, of Visqueen and backup vocalist for Neko Case
  • Rykarda Parasol, songwriter of dark metaphoric tunes
  • Grass Widow, SF postpunk phenoms.
  • Laura Bergmann, of The Family Crest
  • Netta Brielle, hip hop/R&B vocalist
  • Megan Smith, of SF based Misner & Smith
  • Melora, of Rasputina
  • Evie Ladin, old time banjo player
  • Kelly McFarling, Americana singer-songwriter
 Please consider contributing!

Friday, July 6, 2012

First blog post on Hear it Local "Think Like Amanda Palmer"

I'm very excited to announce that writing is finally PART of my job.

I started blogging back in 2008 because I needed to tell SOMEONE about what was inspiring me musically. I was out of graduate school and writing about music was no longer something I did on a daily basis, but I still had to do it.

I post here, I post on although I barely notice the pennies I get from them... however I do enjoy the free tickets and awesome seats I can sometimes score.

But, since Hear it Local is pushing super hard right now to make things happen and we've started publishing original content, I get to post a blog a week. IT'S PART OF MY JOB!

Luckily, I had written about Amanda Palmer (thanks to my friend Jessica) three years ago when she had blogged about why artists should demand financial respect from fans. Because of her recent super duper successful kickstarter campaign, it's something that is relevant again.

I'm pretty proud of this little piece of writing.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My post in Shareable Magazine: how to host a house concert

Check out my post on "How to Host a House Concert" in Shareable Magazine!

Back in 2009 I met Neal Gorenflo on my one an only trip to Burning Man. We were in the same camp, called The Duck Pond (they make great cocktails, stop by if you're ever there). Neal was in the process of hatching a website called Shareable which is exactly what it sounds like: sharing information and how to share in real life (the quintessential attitude of a person to meet at Burning Man).

Shareable is doing so well that Neal has quit his day job and even published a book. I ran into him in Austin during South by Southwest this last spring. I told him what we were doing over at Hear it Local and he asked me to write a "how to" article for Shareable. Several moons later, here it is!

I already told you guys about the house concert at my parents' in Los Angeles with the Family Crest, but here it is in a little more detail. And, a "how to" if you'd like to throw a house concert of your own.

Funny, I just noticed, in the video, you can see my Omi's (what I call my grandmother) beautiful white hair. She's totally into it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas - my Masters Report

The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch - Stubbs in Austin, Texas

In 2006, I wrote a 100 page book in partial fulfillment of my Master's Degree in Ethnomusicology (the anthropology of music) about Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas. It's called "If Church was like this, I'd go Every Sunday". For the last five years, it's been sitting in the University of Texas at Austin's library on a CD (they didn't even make me print it).

About a month ago, I was finally inspired to actually print the thing out. I made two copies: one for me and one for the Austin Public Library. On my visit to Austin, I saw the record, it's officially in the system!

I've also posted it for download if you were so inclined.

My Masters report on official record at the Austin Public Library

Why Gospel Brunch? Every House of Blues across the country has an brunch buffet and gospel show every Sunday morning. And other than a couple other venues (like the Cotton Club in New York) the House of Blues is about it... except in Austin, where there are three every weekend.

Maria's Taco Express Hippie Gospel Church in South Austin

The research for this paper was really fun, every Sunday morning I would head down to one of three spots: Stubb's , Threadgill's (the South Austin location) or Maria's Taco Xpress (the old location). This little Jewish girl would settle into some good food, booze (sometimes) and music about Jesus.

The three venues couldn't be more different. As you can see from the photos, Maria's is full of wonderful dancing hippies and the bands are mostly non-religious bands singing Bob Dylan tunes, traditionals and spiritually themed original songs. Stubb's is more likely to hire Evangelical bands coming from the Salvation Army. Threadgill's was somewhere in the middle. It was fun to compare and contrast the venues.

The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch at Stubb's

One chapter is about the City of Austin, and why it has grown to be a cultural and liberal oasis in one of the most conservative states in the country. I even got to mention Janis Joplin's brief stint in Austin before she headed to San Francisco.

I wrote a chapter on the history of African American scared music outside of the church. One of the more interesting examples I discussed was how Northern abolitionists used African American spirituals for humanitarian purposes pre-civil war. From the Tuskegee University Choir to Ray Charles changing gospel tunes into secular ones, there is a pattern of African American sacred music being used outside sacred spaces for various purposes. Pairing the music with a brunch buffet on a Sunday morning is no exception.

LZ Love performs at Maria's Taco Xpress

One of the wonderful things about being an ethnomusicologist is talking to people. Through hours of interviews I found out why Austinites would come to these venues on Sunday mornings to listen to religious and sacred music, instead of being at church.

The youngest member of the Shields of Faith

I was curious as to why Evangelical musicians would leave the church and perform in secular venues for beer drinking heathens (my words!) and why non-Christains like myself are so drawn to this music.

One of the more interesting moments of my research was when an 80-year-old reverend told me in an indirect way, that as a non-believer, I was going to hell. But, and I really do say this in most sincere way, he meant it in the nicest way possible (as someone who I saw being genuinely concerned for my soul). It was at that point that the hour long interview ended and we went to a fish fry. It was a relief.

Rose, my favorite Hippie Church dancer at Maria's Taco Xpress.

Just last Sunday, I headed down to Threadgill's for Gospel Brunch. I'm glad to see Gospel Brunch at all three venues is still going strong, and six years later, many of the same bands are still in rotation. The food is good and the music is great. What else could you want on a Sunday morning?

Anyway, if you are at all interested in check out my report, you can download the pdf here, or get a hard copy from the Austin Public Library.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm syndicated at Hear it Local!

I have the pleasure to announce that Always More to Hear has been syndicated on the San Francisco site of Hear it Local. They have asked a handful of local music bloggers to be involved, and I'm flattered to have been included.

Check it out! And if you're in the Bay Area (or the Twin Cities or Boston where the site also exists), please become a member and enter your favorite bands, venues, organizations, etc. And add me as a "friend." Hear it Local is a one stop shop for local music scenes and can be described as a yelp for music, sort of an aggregator of all the resources out there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being critic when you don't like a show, how to review?

If you read this blog in any sort of regular way, you've probably noticed that I gush, a lot, about the different types of music that move me. As a blogger I can write about whatever I want, even with I scope out the music world and see what's worth sharing with you. I look at the calendar see what looks interesting to me.

Because I'm not being assigned stories by an editor, I usually choose to write about things I already like. Makes sense right? I'm not doing this for a ton of cash (long way off there) so of course I'm going to write about things I will be able to say nice things about. Even if there are elements I don't like, I can usually stress the parts that were good over everything else. Some have called this "sugarcoating," fine, I can live with that.

But what happens when I really can't think of anything nice to say, and I really don't recommend that people go spend their money on it. It's certainly my responsibility to say it, even if I feel bad about it. If I never wrote anything bad ever, why would anyone trust my opinions? I end up feeling bad because the artists usually give me free tickets which even after a year of writing I'm getting used to, but then I feel guilty for saying bad things. Well, this is when being a critic and journalist (a term I'm still getting used to when referring to myself) is all about. So, I say "bring it." I can take it. It's good for me!

So, I just saw this musical called Mahalia: a Gospel Musical over the weekend. It was, well, very disappointing. I mean, I LOVE gospel music. I wrote a freaking 100 page master's report on the topic. I've seen incredible musicals like Crowns and A Color Purple that blew my brain right out of my head (ew).

I would figure that if you cast a singer to portray one of the greatest voices, you would find someone who can really sing. Considering that Oakland has a large African American community, you figure it wouldn't be that hard. How many female gospel singers live a stones throw away from San Francisco?

Anyway, the singing was what I decided to focus on in my review. Other reviewers tore down the acting, the directing and the blocking (yes, it was bad, folks). But I would be very interested to see what you think of my review, even not seeing the show (don't please, save your money). Was I TOO nice? Did I say anything below the belt?

Read my review here

Thanks for reading by the way, I am so lucky to have such awesome fans.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Best of San Francisco music 101: SF playlist.

I'm published! Check out this series of travel books. From San Francisco on I will be compiling the playlists for the "listen" section. Soon to come is Portland, then I hear Seattle, New Orleans and Brooklyn.

If you were to make a playlist of 35 tracks summing up music of San Francisco, what would it look like? Keep in mind that my list here, featured in the newly released GrassRoutes: Urban Eco Travel Guide by Serena Bartlett, includes all genres and all decades of music. What do you agree with? What have I left out?

Note: All of these songs I found on itunes, lastfm, myspace or somewhere downloadable on the internet. We wanted to represent music that people tend to think of when you think San Francisco.

1. The Dodos: “Red and Purple”
2. The Botticelli's: “Who Are You Now”
3. Jefferson Airplane: “Somebody to Love”
4. Grateful Dead: “Uncle John’s Band”
5. Janis Joplin & Big Brother Holding Company: “Piece of My Heart”
6. Steve Miller Band: “Rock’n Me”
7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: “White Palms”
8. Dead Kennedys: “Holiday in Cambodia”
9. Counting Crows: “Mr. Jones”
10. Faith No More: “Epic”
11. Huey Lewis and the News: “Do You Believe in Love”
12. Journey: “Lights”
13. Santana: “Oye Como Va”
14. Third Eye Blind: “Semi-Charmed Life”
15. 4 Non Blondes: “What’s Up”
16. Beau Brummels: “Just a Little”
17. Aphrodesia: “Bus Driver”
18. Sly and the Family Stone: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”
19. Oona: “Trouble”
20. Charlatans: “The Shadow Knows”
21. Invisibl Skratch Piklz: “Ah One Two Three Cut”
22. Mike Relm: “Tron”
23. Foxtails Brigade: “The Hours”
24. The Frail: “Floated Away”
25. Michael Musika: “The Traveller Loses Possession”
26. John Vanderslice: “The Minaret”
27. Maus Haus: We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)”
28. Loquat: “Swingset Chain”
29. Chanticleer: “Revenna Sanctus”
30. Lord Loves A Working Man: “The New Hat”
31. Michael Tilson Thomas, conducting the San Francisco Symphony No. 7 and 8
32. DJ QBert: “Redworm”
33. Jawbreaker: “Gutless”
34. Train: “Meet Virginia”
35. Deerhoof: “Twin Killers”

Please join me and Serena Bartlett at The East Bay Express Best of the Bay Party this Friday, August 7th at the Oakland Museum for the launch of the three new GrassRoutes Urban Eco Travel guides of Oakland & Berkeley, Northern California Wine Country and San Francisco.

GrassRoutes San Francisco offers a wealth of ways for small-footprint visitors to deepen their experience of one of America's most exciting cities. Written by locals immersed in the eco/indie/alt scene, the book covers everything from carpooling and volunteering, to potluck dinners and fair trade cafés, to attending community events and buying CDs from local musicians. Categories include Up Early, Hang Out, Pamper, Listen, Get Inspired, Farm to Table, and many more. Black-and-white illustrations show the city in all its splendor, while clear maps help visitors get around easily on foot, bike, and public transportation.