Take Note!

Pictures and videos used on this site are all borrowed (well not all, some are actually mine) for everyone's viewing pleasure.  They are not being used in a malicious matter, it is all in good fun and most likely to promote the good stuff found.  Please don't threaten to sue, just ask me to take it down if it is a bother.  If not, thanks for the borrow!!!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh Happy Leap Year Day!

"I work at pleasin' me cause I can't please you, and that's why I do what I do..."  Appletree - Erykah Badu

Hey all!  Thank the universe for giving us an extra day in this lovely cold ass February of 2008.

A few tidbits for the week:

If you haven't picked them up yet or at least tried to listen to some snippets (it's the digital age, no excuses!!!  But we rather you pick them up to support.) - GET ON IT!!

Now that is a good mix here, between the activist, the pop queen (don't care what the haters say) and some mellow grooves you are bound to find something.  Cheri Denis' album was released this week as well.  The Bad Boy alum has skills no doubt, but with all of the delays I do hope it is a representation of what she is really all about.

Today I have a rant that I have been meaning to get off my chest for a really long time.  And since I now have a blog where I am able to do just that - RANT, that is what I plan to do today.

Being a Canadian of St. Lucian descent, I am extremely (and I couldn't emphasize more on that word) proud of my culture - the West Indian side that is.  There's nothing like being of West Indian descent.  Great food, wicked rum, rich in history, amazing music, beautiful lush lands, sweat-till-you-drop fetes (translation=parties), endless amount of jokes - if you caan take the heat get the France outta da kitchen!!!  And the people?  Oh the people!!  There is no word that can capture the feel and vibe of the people.  If anyone has one for me, please do drop a line.

However, there is one enormous tic on my back that sucks the life out of me every time I am encountered with this question.  Let me give you a scenario.  Sitting on the subway in Toronto, minding my own business listening to my tunes on my IPod.  In comes an older robust West Indian man who decides to occupy the seat next to me.  Oblivious to my IPod or maybe he just didn't care, he asks me -"Madame, yu West Indian?"  In where I responded, "I am Canadian, but of West Indian descent."  The FIRST thing to come out of his mouth was, "Oh, so you Jamaican then?"  And that is where the tic starts to rob me of my life water.  My problem with this question is, instead of sounding and coming across as ignorant, how about asking rather than assuming?  There are a plethora of wonderful cultures and countries that come together to make up the Caribbean.  I have tried not to go on an ignorant rant myself, but that has not worked.  With this perpetually driving me to drink, I have decided to give a speed lesson on the beautiful Caribbean.

The West Indies consist of: The Bahamas, The Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.  The Greater Antilles consist of: Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.  While the Lesser Antilles consist of: The Leeward and and Windward Islands (which consist of Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago etc.)  I am not going to list all of them, for as I said, this is a speed lesson.  It doesn't take but two minutes to do a search, ask an elder who knows their geography or trek to a library (does anyone do that anymore?) to do the research.  And it's not just my people who ask these questions, but those who only know Jamaica and Haiti to be the only islands in the West Indies.

And lastly, to my small minded people who are always on the tip of, "oh, that's them small island people..." - you need to check yourselves.  I will be the first to tell you that St. Lucia is a small island, but when that statement comes from ignorant West Indians, it burns my soul.  I guess you all have not recently checked the definition of "island".  

Island: a piece of land surrounded by water - enough said.

I will be leaving you today with a dose of soca...you know something?  I'm in a good mood today, make that two doses of soca, in this damn cold it's needed anyway.  Enjoy!

Of course some Lucian flavor:

And some of my partnahs in crime - Trini flavor (sorry it's a bit long but good!):


And that ladies and gentlemen, is how we do - see y'all later!

Tha Connoisseur 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mellow And Chill, That's The Key...

"I can let my life pass me by, or I can get down and try.  Work it all out this lifetime - work it all out this time."  Lifetime - Maxwell

As I sit here mellowed out by Miles Davis' "I Fall In Love Too Easily", I reminisce of my early exposure to music and how it changed my life.  Not to be dramatic, but we should realize that music holds the key to a lot of meaning in life.  It was not a joke now and wasn't a joke then when Stevie Wonder named his album just that.  Music is scientifically shown to heal and teach in many ways.  Commercials are sold to you by jingles = music.  Music is also used in different types of therapy = music.  There is an actual American Music Therapy Association, really there is.  It's the feeling that music has on your brain, your body and your soul, it's inexplicable.  You try explaining to someone how you felt when you first heard your favorite song.  Or how your wedding song makes you feel when you hear it in passing.  Uh huh...that's what I thought.

I have digressed a bit from my train of thought!  As I was saying, my early exposure to music was from my Dad (god rest his soul).  I would awake on a Sunday morning by the sounds of Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MG's and of course, his woman Aretha Franklin (I did mention previously I have a sibling named Aretha).  You better believe it was every Sunday like clockwork.  And his favorite line to me would be - "Kid, you don't know good music like this!" That statement alone was a challenge for me (I love a challenge!) to learn about the good music I didn't know.  My Father's collection is full of goodies - every Aretha album under the sun, Carla Thomas, Donnie Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and others that I never even heard of.  And it was not just soul music alone.  There was soul, rock, calypso, soca, reggae.  Name it, it was in the house.  As soon as the music bug hit me, I had my second teacher, my older cousin, teach me about the best in the late 70's into the 80's.  A bit of Debarge, Prince, The Jacksons, Millie Jackson, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendegrass, SOS Band, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam and then some.  Being inundated with such talents really brought my love of music to new heights.  Like many aficionados out there, I meticulously collected  8-tracks, vinyl, cassettes and CD's.  Making sure to try and not buy anything to tarnish my collection.

I then became a student of piano and later vibraphone.  Of course feeling like I was the only person in the world who played a vibraphone, I was quite content to learn that the great Roy Ayers was a master at his instrument of choice.  So I figured, why not me?  Looking back, music runs right through my family.  I have an aunt who is a Calypsonian, a younger brother who plays a mean alto and tenor sax (and is studying Music at the moment), a cousin who writes, sings and composes music and an older brother who was a DJ.

The whole point of my tirade is that music for some of us out there is life.  We live, breathe, and feel music.  Our love comes in many forms - as a music writer, producer, promoter, publisher, label owner etc and most of all FAN.  Remember in I'm Gonna Git Ya Sucka, Jack Spade was told that every hero's gotta have some theme music?  Well I think that goes for everyone.  Music is the soundtrack to our lives.  And when I reach the end of my journey, I want my soundtrack to be vibrant, expressive and a reflection of the person that I have evolved into because of my Dad's Sunday morning teachings.

Here is the video flashback of the day - this one is for my Dad.  I miss and love you.

That's all for today y'all, see you on the horizon.

Tha Connoisseur 

Monday, February 25, 2008

Alas - I Have The Monday Blues...

"I knew that there would be days like this, when I wanna let go..." - Kenny Lattimore

Yesterday I was supposed to sit down and dish out a new entry, but after sharing the morning with the Lord and the afternoon at the gym - it was not on the horizon. Besides, yesterday was a glum day. Why you may ask? Well because I no longer have a significant other in my life AND it was just a melancholy day. And that was that. So here I am a day late (my apologies), with another convo on the go. So let's get it started.

Alright, do I have a good one for you soul heads. I was reading an e-zine this morning about one of my favorite soul bands out there - Mint Condition. Now reading this particular line is what started this line of thought and smoke emanating from my head. The line read: "Remember the group Mint Condition?...Well they are making a comeback with a new album..." A comeback? No no, sorry...I meant - A COMEBACK?!!! Oh dear chile...they never left the scene! This is a remark from someone who most likely only follows mainstream artists. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that at all, it's called a preference. However, you are missing a whole lot on the warp side of soul.

While Mint Condition may be considered a mainstream artist, they are so much more than that. Ok, I know that MC has not had a studio album release in like 3 years, but Mint Condition is one of the hardest working bands out there. When they are not in studio, they are on the road touring or working on their side projects. Even without new material, MC can always get their fans out to a show - because of the their talent and musicianship. Which may I add, is a characteristic that a lot of artists are lacking today. I am a die hard fan who was able to catch their show at BB Kings last year in July. And because Blogger is being a pain in the ass today, I can't upload my video from the concert. Sorry maybe next time.

I can go on and on, but I do not want to get too much into Mint Condition because I will be doing a profile on them when the time is right. But in the mean and in between time, check out their new song "Baby Boy, Baby Girl" from the new upcoming album E - Life. There is another version floating around featuring Anthony Hamilton, but I wanted to share this find. A dude by the name of "Mr. Hardy" is crazy sick on the drums. And he uses quite a few Mint Condition and other soul songs to display his skills. You can listen to the song, while watching Mr Hardy do his thing. There are plenty of jealous bones in my body that come to life while watching the video. I have always wanted to learn how to play the drums, but ended up with a piano and vibrophone (which I both ended up loving - but they are not the drums!!!). But anyway, have to give props where props are due.

Now I am trying for the life of me to not bug out over this, but I am running into constant uploading errors all over the place! I am not able to upload anything today - which of course is not fairing well with me.

I am going to just end the day with the video flashback...hell how about two since it's a Monday. Hopefully I can get that up and running for you.

One of the most gifted voices in soul music.

And lastly, I wanted and needed to end on a NE note.

That's all for today folks, see you soon on the horizon.

Tha Connoisseur

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another Week In The City Has Passed...

"Making mistakes, is a part of life's imperfections..." - Level 42 

Another week has passed and this week was harder than others.  A lot of work and a lot of running to and fro.  The bad thing about having some free time on the subway or anywhere else, is that we tend to ponder about things lulling around in the far recesses of the brain (or as we like to say "soul search").  Sometimes the thought process is healthy and at other times, it can be as heavy as a shovel full of snow.  As human beings, we do have imperfections (even though many of us tend to wish or think we didn't) and that is unfortunately a part of life.   The only thing that we can do is learn from our mistakes and try to improve on our imperfections.  Even though our imperfections are part of your blueprint and make us who we are.  Know thyself - it's the only way that we can strive forward to anything positive.  Positive vibes, positive relationships and a positive life.

Alright, enough preaching!  I decided to touch on an album today that has touched our lives in more ways than one.  The album I am gushing about:  

Now I know that some of you out there are shouting and jumping up and down at the mere thought of back in the day sexy Michael.  With his Jheri curls and hairless chest, in his suave white suit Michael was the vision of a black angel (well in my eyes).  I still remember the first day I ripped open my Off The Wall album.  There was nothing in the world that was going to stop me from playing it all day long.  By the end of the day, I do believe my mother knew all of the words to the whole album.  Now when Thriller was released, that was a whole new ball game for music lovers and the landscape of music.  With innovative videos like the groundbreaking "Thriller", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean", videography has never been the same because he raised the bar.  I am sure you remember the night the video for "Thriller" premiered on MTV, Muchmusic (whatever station it was for you).  I still get little chills watching the video!  And with songwriting like "The Lady In My Life", Michael had every woman in the world thinking that he was singing to her.  To this day, my pick-me-up-when-I'm-down song is "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing").  And who can forget Motown 25, when Michael shared the Moonwalk with the world?  It was almost like time stood still.  Michael won 7 Grammy's for his incomparable work with Quincy Jones on Thriller.  That is surely a feat not to be taken lightly. 

And now comes the kicker - there is a re-release for the 25th anniversary of Thriller.  And yes ladies and gentlemen, I do have a problem with it.   Some things are just meant to be left alone.  I don't know about you, but with artists like Akon, Fergie and will.i.am remaking these classic tracks, it does not exactly send me running to the store to pick up the new copy.  Kanye West's remake of "Billie Jean" is not as bad, but honestly, we could have done without.  This is a case of - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Why mess with the best selling album of all time?  For nostalgia's sake and for that one new track by Michael, I will purchase the album.  But take a listen and let me know what you think.  I know you can find snippets of the songs online somewhere.  Do some digging and drop a note to let me know what you think about the "new" Thriller.

Quick mention - I reviewed the Jazzy Soul Collective concert I talked about in my last blog entry.  You can find the review on Soultracks, an amazing website for soul enthusiasts to keep up with what is going on with the soul and R&B scene.   You can click on Soultracks on my friends listing to your left.  It is under News and Opinions.

And yes, it's that time for our video flashback.  Today I decided to go back to a wicked vibe.  It's cold and snowy here, so I wanted to go for a feel good track.  Enjoy!

R.I.P. Flora "TeTa" Collymore - you are forever in our hearts and will be missed immensely.

Tha Connoisseur

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Soul Music Is Not Going Anywhere!

"I'll be your freakazoid, c'mon and wind me up"  Midnight Star - Freakazoid

It has been a busy weekend ladies and gentlemen, at times I thought I would have to be wound up to go on.  But I wanted to get back to tackle the questionable debate between Aretha Franklin and Beyonce that took place at the Grammys.

Now, for those of you who do not know - Ms. Franklin had a problem with the Grammy's and Beyonce.  The problem was, Aretha did not like the fact that Beyonce referred to Tina Turner as "The Queen" during her dazzling prelude to her performance with Tina Turner.   Ms. Franklin referred to the snag as being "toe stepped", but gave her thanks to the Grammy's and Beyonce "anyway".

Being the daughter of an extreme connoisseur of music and elite Aretha Franklin fan (my sister's name is Aretha), I do respect the artist.  However, how can one be so trivial?  Beyonce referred to Tina Turner as The Queen, because she is one of the best.  She did not say the "Queen of Soul", where of course that would be an insult and mistake on Beyonce's part.  And then to add the snide remark "thanks to the Grammy's and Beyonce anyway" was just a kick in the teeth.   I feel that Aretha was being extremely petty about the situation.  And I am glad that Beyonce's camp has not set out to make a big deal out of it.  So I dare ask, were there grounds for Aretha's comments?  And are there grounds for mine?  Let me know what you think.

On a much more melodic note, last night I attended the Jazzy Soul Collective concert at BB Kings in Time Square.  The bill consisted of 4 independent artists who are working hard at bringing love back to soul music.  Saxophonist Jimmy Sommers with R&B artists Vikter Duplaix, Gordon Chambers and Lynne Fiddmont took to the stage.  Each brought their own style and vibe to the venue.  A vibe that cannot be mistaken.  To all who are aching for a good dose of soul music, please take heed to the above artists.  Independent artists are doing very well for themselves, so we do need to continue to support their grind.  Vikter Duplaix (who may I add I am in love with) was just nominated for a Grammy, which is a big step for an independent artist.  And Gordon Chambers is a Grammy award winning writer (Anita Baker, Isley Brothers etc) as well as a gifted singer.  Please take note that the music listed above is for ADULTS ONLY!  It is for those who know and were raised on the Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass.  For those of us who enjoy a real ballad and a real love song, these are the artists for you.

Here is a snippet of Gordon Chambers channeling his Al Green:

And of course,  I have to leave you with the video of the day.  I think this is one of their best, although I am sure some will beg to differ.  Smooth and mellow, what they do best.

On that note, I bid thee farwell for today.  I will be back soon with some more news on the horizon.  

Tha Connoisseur

Friday, February 15, 2008

Not Just Music, Think Outside The Box!

"I've had lots of loving, but I never knew love like this..." Alexander O'Neal and Cherrelle

Welcome one and all to the blog for your soul.

Lord I love good music! And for those of you who don't know who the quote is from - this would most definitely be the blog for you! I would like to consider this a blog for the progressive urbanite. Being part of the 30 something demographic, I do know that there is more to life than going to "the club around the way" to swing my assets to the latest Flo Rida track. Or better yet, running out to purchase the latest CD from Lil Wayne. Now don't get me wrong, I can get down with the rest of them, but ladies and gentlemen - it's our time to venture out of the box. Here we will have discussions of albums past, present and future that have touched our soul in some way or another. And yes, I do mean Alexander O'Neal, Cherelle and the whole gamut. Here we will have a forum to be up to date with concerts I have attended and people I have met along the way.

And this is not just about music.

This blog will also list art galleries with interesting shows to catch, fashion shows, architecture, entertainment and some interesting things along the way. Name it and we can certainly try and tackle it. This is not just a place for me to rant, but a place for us all to have a conversation about what's on our minds. I want to converse with you. So on that note, I, Tha Connoisseur, welcome you to - Soul Afrodisiac.

And for those of you who weren't sure, check out the video below to reminisce.