Category Archives: Adventures

Take a look at those cakes with Dante

My man Dante was in town for two days last week and he had a mission in mind: Hit up all 3 Amoebas (SF, Berkeley and LA). He made sure to visit our favorite shops in the Lower Haight on Thursday but on Friday I teamed up with him for some record shopping fun. Our plan was to make a loop from my house to Rasputin on Powell, hop the bart to Berkeley and visit the Amoeba and Rasputin there, eat lunch with the lovely Ari, then head back to SF’s Amoeba and trickle our way down to Groove Merchant’s, Black Pancakes, and Rookie Ricardo’s. Unfortunately time was unforgiving and we got lost a few times, so we couldn’t make all of the spots on our list. But we got a ton of cheap on-fire records! Dante even had to buy a new bag to carry his goods. Here are a few photos of the trip.

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Kodoja with Keith Foster

I need to point your gaze to a man by the name of Keith Foster.
I got news that Skeme Richards, Lance Pilgrim, and the Hot Peas and Butta crew were collaborating with Keith on a Big Monster project called “Kodoja: Terror Mountain Showdown“. Keith kicked off Kodoja as a multisensorial comic book-driven storyline accompanied by a break-pressed musical score. I was very excited by this project, mostly because I loved the idea of a music-backed comic book. I’m always searching for creative people and new projects to absorb, and Kodoja was something I had to get into. So I went to Philly and met up with the crew.
I first met Keith (writer) and Rory Smith (artist) at their Kodoja booth at Philly’s Comic Con, along with Skeme. I bought their first issue of the comic book along with the Kodoja 45 and a poster. This first package got me hooked. And today, I met up with Keith, who was visiting SF for the weekend, to reconnect. We hung out at Rooky Ricardo’s and played some cards before heading down to Bi-Rite with my friend Liz to get some delicious ice cream. We talked music, big monsters, and upcoming creative projects. I’ll keep hush on these but I will say that 2013 is definitely a year to keep tabs on Keith Foster, his band “Big Pimp Jones”, and the Hot Peas and Butta crew.
I asked Keith to write a piece on the Kodoja project (read below); it is always revealing to hear what a creator has to say about his own work and I’m thankful that he made time to oblige. It’s definitely worth a read.

Keith Foster at Rooky Ricardo’s

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[Some Words On Kodoja by Keith Foster]
While the comic, music and art surrounding Kodoja just hit the shelves a few months ago, I feel it’s been a long time in the making and just needed something right for the pieces to come together. In terms of concept, the band I’m a part of (Big Pimp Jones) has been making funky music for the last 20 years; of recent we released a fake Blaxploitation soundtrack in 2009 (Bad Bad Jimmy Ruckus) and its sequel in 2010 (Jimmy Ruckus and the Five Fingers of Death). To accompany the music we worked with a plot to the two ‘movies’, some lines of dialogue and backstory. When I was younger I did some acting and wrote a screenplay, experience which came in handy for the Jimmy Ruckus records due to their cinematic nature.

At the same time I’ve been a comics fan since I was about 15. I remember the exact comic that hooked me – Secret Wars #4, the cover of which has the Hulk holding up an ENTIRE MOUNTAIN so it wouldn’t crush him and the other heroes. From that moment on comics were for me, and I don’t just mean the content and the stories.  Comics as a *medium* fascinated me, not only for the traits similar to other media (they look like art, read like a book and play out like a movie) but for the traits that are more uniquely “comics”.  So much action in a comic book story happens in-between the panels as you continue the story in your mind; you can create a passage of time and pacing to a story that is much more difficult with other art forms; and so many more. And, your budget is zero yet unlimited; your only constraint is imagination!  Can you imagine how expensive and time-consuming it would be, special-effects wise, to have the Hulk hold up a mountain in a film?

Giant monsters have been there the whole time. Saturday afternoons in front of the TV as a kid watching Godzilla turned into countless hours spent as an adult watching and re-watching those films, soaking in the giant monster destruction. Yet, as great as the movies were visually, it was the music that really drew me in. So ominous, so powerful, and in some cases – so hip-hop. Pharaohe Monch tapped into that with “Simon Says” and the hip-hop influence weaves in and out of Godzilla scores whenever they get just the right BPM and hang out in 4/4 time for a while.

It’s the intersection of Godzilla scores, hip-hop beats and funk that created the basis of “Terror Mountain Showdown”. It took no time for us to go from one song to fifteen! And once we completed the music, we figured we’d just do what we did with the Jimmy Ruckus records – give the record the whole ‘lost soundtrack’ vibe, create a few lines of dialogue and imagine it as a Godzilla soundtrack that never saw the light of day until now.

Except that’s not what happened this time.  Some research and a few random events led us to an idea – what if we created our own character? What if it was a giant monster? What if I wrote a story around it?  And what if we told it in comic book format?  The answers to all those questions led to Kodoja and then the comics, records and art out there now – courtesy of Hot Peas and Butta, Elroy Jenkins, Rory Smith, Skeme Richards, Record Breakin Music (Junior) and Big Pimp Jones. It took a while to happen, but man we’re sure glad things came together the way they did! And the best part (at least to me): we’ve got a whole lot more story, comics and music that needs to be told as part of Kodoja.
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Debut of Viola Booth Group

Last Thursday, I took a late night visit to The Knockout. I got a message from a certain Viola Booth who invited me to check out a band: “You and your peeps should come see our new 11-piece 60′s 70′s R n B, Soul, Early Rock, and Epic Ballad project play”. Eleven-piece? At the Knockout? I was instantly interested in checking this out. I have been to the Knockout a few times before and it is a grungy venue with a small stage, so I knew watching an 11-piece soul band there would be something new, if not all-together strange.

When I got to The KO, camera handy, a group called the Paranoids was setting up. This turned out to be a major plus for the night. I had a great time jamming to their music and was thankful they had a 45 up for sale. But when I went to buy it, the cute booth tender suggested I just sign up for the night’s raffle; if I won, I would walk away with a stack of all of the music produced by the Paranoids (almost a decade of good stuff). History would suggest I’m luckier than most, so I signed up. I wish I had more space to talk more about this group, they had a great feel and I can only recommend you investigate more on your own.

After the Paranoids finished, I inconspicuously started getting my camera ready. I wanted to pinpoint Viola before I was discovered lurking about. But unfortunately for me, it took about two minutes for Viola to find me out. I have a sneaking suspicion it was because I was the only person in the bar with an oversized camera and an obnoxious flash.

Viola (pronounced ‘Vai-ola’) turned out to be a lovely and energetic woman with short, silverish hair and a big smile. We chatted briefly and I sensed a little nervousness and a lot of excitement; after all, this was her band’s first night and I was just as excited.

The band started setting up. I saw a trumpet walk by, a trombone, and some pretty ladies in red. I was curious to see how they would react to the small stage and was glad that the horn section wasn’t shy about taking up the dance floor. I love seeing big bands take over a small space; it makes for a more intimate night. There were a few technical issues in the beginning but the band set the tone for the night with an energetic instrumental. Viola was jumping around, conducting the band, and for a short while I was unsure if she was going to do anything else. But the second song kicked in and, damn.

Viola can sing.

I spent some time trying to describe Viola’s voice because I knew I would be writing about her later. But I thankfully gave up on that idea and decided to just take in the band as a whole. Viola Booth Group had a lot of energy and they performed some great covers; notable ones being songs by Shirley Bassey, Wendy Rene, and, my favorite for the night, The Falcons (I Can’t Help It). I cannot claim to be a professional critic, nor do I strive to be one, so my judgement of any music group is based almost completely on whether they make me dance. And on Thursday, I was dancing. And not alone. People were jumping, swinging, and a few were literally on the floor. So regardless of my opinion, the patrons of The KO had a great night. And the crowd’s feedback eased the band into a settled groove, especially Viola, who left the stage and sang on the dance floor. I have to say, that girl’s got soul.

After the show, Viola was assailed by what I can only assume to be her new fan base. Fortunately, I was able to grab a few minutes of her time to get a feel for how far she wanted to push this 11-piece project. Still full of energy, Viola told me how excited she was for the group. They are in the process of booking more gigs and ironing out the kinks in the band. And I was glad to hear her plans for releasing original material (maybe even a 45 in the near future).

I am looking forward to seeing this group grow. An 11-piece soul and epic ballad group simply has a lot of potential to give you an outrageous fun night. And indeed, I did have a great time on Thursday. Not to mention I won the Paranoids’ raffle.

Told you I was lucky.

(Funny enough, not counting this line, WordPress says my word count is exactly 777. Completely unintentional!)

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The 45 Sessions: 2 Year Anniversary

I have been going to The 45 Sessions on a consistent basis since the Hot Peas and Butta Bros. were in town, and it has been a blast. I’ve learned a lot, got to meet some great people, and enjoyed myself thoroughly throughout the journey. And I have to say, last week was a special treat. Platurn and the gang were celebrating the 2nd year anniversary of The 45 Sessions (Valentine’s Edition) and invited Chungtech (Sweater Funk) and Natasha Diggs (NYC) to set the mood right. And I have to say, they couldn’t have picked a better pair to celebrate.

Without verbosity, Chungtech and Natasha killed it.

Finishing up lab and heading to Oakland

My friends and I had a great time dancing to their sets, and we were really impressed by their skills. I’m glad I got a chance to chat with Natasha before she went on deck; she’s been doing big things lately and it was a real pleasure being able to connect with her face to face. Another highlight (for me) was Platurn officially inducting me into the 45 Session family. I consider that to be a big honor especially since I’ve had a great time coming out to Oakland on a monthly basis. It’s pretty damn impressive of the 45 sesh crew to show love to their supporters in such a way.

Platurn with a special Valentine's 45 for his sweetheart

In sum, you’re really missing out on some top notch music and a great dance party if you haven’t made your way out to Oakland yet. I hope I meet you at the next one. Check out the pictures I’ve posted (all courtesy of professional photographer Mr. Andre Davis) and definitely don’t miss out on the official photos of the night taken by Jose Lim.

Chungtech and The 45 Brains

The 45 Brains and Natasha Diggs

E Da Boss on deck

VIP Status: respect to Plat for The 45 Sessions medallion

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Fried Chicken Salad with Dick Vivian

Dick was having two beautiful ladies over for dinner yesterday and was nice enough to invite me over for the festivities. I got there as he was finishing up dinner prep and I decided to shoot this video just for fun.

“Who are you?”

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Gems at Volume 19

I’m back in black.

It’s been about a month since the last post due to a combination of emotionally taxing personal and work related issues. In sum, this has been one of the worst months I’ve ever experienced to date. And even now I kind of find it hard to get back to my social baseline. Needless to say, the events that hit me and my family hard earlier this month have dramatically changed the way I see the world around me and have given me a new perspective on my life. Now, I feel revitalized, and my drive to succeed in all aspects of my life has shot through the roof. No more complaining and no more excuses. Just results.

And with that new drive comes hard work: I am being more productive at the lab, I am dedicating myself even more to The 45 Brains project, and I’ve been listening to tons of records (which has been therapeutic). Right now, It’s 9am and I’ve got a 45 spinning on the technics. And I’m about to update all you good folks with my last trip to The 45 Sessions in Oakland.

The heated party at The 45 Sessions: Vol. 19

This was Volume 19 of The 45 Sessions and DJs Chorizo Funk, 100proof, and Slopoke were headlining. Slopoke was actually the first San Francisco DJ I’ve ever seen spin 45s. It was within the first few months of moving out to SF, I was hanging out with some new friends in the Mission at a joint called The Attic. Slopoke was on the wheels and the man was funky. There was little space to dance but that didn’t stop the patrons. I went up on the DJ booth to tell Slopoke that I loved what he was spinning, and he gave me his business card. So of course I felt a certain sense of ‘things coming full circle’ when I saw that he was DJing at The 45 Sessions.

Steven and Moses

My friends Steven and Moses were game for a trip to Oakland and went to Disco Volante with me. We got a quick german meal beforehand (potatoes, red cabbage, sausage, and beer) and then arrived at Disco Volante to enjoy some even more delicious music. Of course, the party was already heated when we got there. One thing you’ll learn quickly about The 45 Sessions is that there’s a plethora of ladies cutting a rug, drinking, and having a great time. It’s that good of a dance party.

Essence: Black Reflections

One special addition to Volume 19 was the record sale on the second floor. There were five vendors including the homie Dave (who runs Dave’s Record Shop in Berkeley). I’ve seen Dave’s flyers at Rooky Ricardo’s and I have been trying to make it out to his shop for months now. So of course I was pleasantly surprised to see him at Volante. I flipped through his stacks and picked out about 10 records. I got a good deal from him. Actually I got a great deal because there was one record I was excited about and had to have. It was on one of my favorite labels and when i heard it, I was thrown straight into the middle of a classic blaxploitation film. A few days later I was trying to find out more info about it online and discovered that one guy was selling it for $700.

I’m glad I smelled out this rare gem and didn’t hesitate to buy it.

Dj Delgado and Sama

Another big plus was that I met Dj Delgado. After buying my records I went downstairs to enjoy the music and take some pictures. Delgado was vibing out by the stairs and we figuratively bumped into each other. He asked to see what I picked up and we went through the small stack. I bragged about how good the sound was on the Essence record (not knowing how much it was worth at the time). Delgado was recording all of the DJ sets for the night so now even you, the person who did not come out to Volume 19, can enjoy the party at home.

Great party, I learned a lot, and made some new friends. I wonder who’s lined up for next month. And now? Off to the lab.

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Hot Peas Meets The 45 Sessions

It has been a week since my short trip across the bay. My lady Nelsa was in town for a short while  (it’s always too short) and last friday we visited Oakland. We were planning on getting an early dinner, checking out the scenery, and then heading down to Disco Volante to check out The 45 Sessions. Nothing but small records all night long. I really wanted to see DJ Platurn spin in addition to Enki and E Da Boss. I’ve been keeping my ears open and I knew I had to catch these cats at work. And to boot, two top-notch DJs and 45 afficianados, Skeme Richards and Supreme La Rock aka The Butta Bros., were making a guest appearance. As for dinner, Nelsa and I had ourselves some delicious vietnamese food. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. Definitely going there again though.

Me and my ever supportive lady

After dinner, we were headed over to Disco Volante. We were there way ahead schedule so we decided to take advantage of that by ordering a few drinks and relaxing. Really though, we couldn’t afford to be fashionably late because we had to catch the last BART train home to SF. Setup was still on-going but I had a chance to catch up with Skeme before people started streaming in. We talked a little about how different the Bay area scene is from the scene in our hometown of Philadelphia. And Skeme gave me some valuable insight and advice regarding collecting records.

Philly grown Sama and Skeme Richards

It was still early, but once Platurn got on the wheels the vibe instantly kicked in. I was watching from far away, taking mental notes and vibing out as much as I could. I especially did my best to pay extra attention to what Platurn and the rest of the DJs were physically doing while they were spinning and mentally jotting down any points I could make out about transitioning from one song to the next. A lot of DJs have different styles of mixing and scratching and I’m always trying to soak up as much as I can by watching intently. It’s like I learned: observation is the first step in the scientific method and it’s also one of the three fundamentals to reaching Sherlock Holmes status. On this trip, I learned a ton about using a fine touch to extend breaks by watching Enki rip it up.

But in addition to learning, I was there to have a good time with my lady. So I danced with her, did some tops when she went to the restroom, and at the end of the night I had gotten in one quick set. And one extra nice thing about this specific 45 Session was that Raashan Ahmad was releasing a limited edition clear LP. I saw Raashan with Crown City Rockers a while back at the Independent and it was a show not to have been missed. I have to support underground hip hop so of course I picked up the LP. Overall, a great night that got me inspired to rush home, put some albums on the tables, and hop back on the digging train. Can’t wait for the next Session.

I got some photos but you really have to check out the shots that Jose Lim took!

Sama Ahmed and Raashan Ahmad (Crown City Rockers)

Sama Ahmed and Raashan Ahmad (Crown City Rockers)

"For What You've Lost"

Clear Edition

 

 

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