Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Evening at BAM Afro-Punk Skate Park: Back at the Afro-Punk Festival w/ The Echo Jinx, The London Souls and Tamar-kali

We were lucky enough to catch another couple of hours of the Fifth Annual Afro-Punk Festival this evening and enjoyed more DIY fashion, BMX, URBANX Battle For The Streets - and today was the tribute to Spike Lee at BAM Cinematek, DJs and live music with The Echo Jinx and The London Souls and a stellar performance by the stunning

After a late afternoon call that we were needed to represent Baby Boomers Born in Brownsville, we should have rushed right over to the BAM parking lot's Afro-Punk Skate Park. But hey, we're from the 'Ville - never ran, never will. Well, actually, we needed a nap. But we got there shortly after 6 p.m. with the newly extended G train.

Sunday's crowd was a bit larger than Saturday's. Again, it was a gorgeous day.

We made our way - gingerly - where the skateboarders were to the little stage where the announcers do their stuff. Nothing was going on at the main stage by Flatbush Avenue except setting up, and The Echo Jinx were performing on the smaller stage.

Guitarist Everton Armstrong and drummer Ivan Gonzalez have an interesting sound, an amalgam of semi-cartoonish pissed-off punk and arty experimentation with hints of Delta blues. We have no idea what we just said.

Anyway, we were impressed and took one of the drop cards at the end of the duo's spirited performance. Here's The Echo Jinx doing "Fast Sneakers":

We joined the growing crowd at the main stage where the MC introduced The London Souls by saying they reminded her of her days "with Janis and Jimi." (She also reminded the crowd to "keep it green and keep it clean.")

The Deli magazine said of them, "Few bands so young have any business brandishing the mighty musical chops that The London Souls do." The group, all from the city, consists of Tom Cumming (guitar, singer), Kiyoshi Matsuyama (bass, singer), Tash Neal (guitar, singer), and Chris St.Hillaire (drums, singer).

The crowd really loved them, and it's no wonder.

Here are The London Echoes performing "I Think I Like It" last fall at that wonderful venue, The Bowery Poetry Club:

After that, we watched the ups and downs and upside-downs of the bikers for a while.

There was growing excitement as Tamar-kali was introduced. If you've seen the Afro-Punk movie, you know her from there.

She's a truly extraordinary singer, with a powerful band to back her up. Her vocals are deep, raw and almost stentorian. Here she is performing the devastating "Warrior Bones" at last year's Afro-Punk Festival. The song begins with the stunning "I killed a man today. . ." and just never lets up.

Wow. We were really spellbound by her performance, which quickened our pulse to where we were ready for our Inderal.

If you can catch her in person someday, we think she's thrilling to watch as well as listen to. She has this thing where she looks skyward, her eyes seemingly calling down the wrath of God or Whoever. No surprise that she's a native of BK.

NPR said of Tamar-kali, "In her lyrics and her own personal style, she blends feminist politics and afrocentricity in a way that gives her hard rock sound a soulful edge." If you don't know Tamar-kali's work, what you don't know will hurt you.

At the end of her set, Tamar-kali asked the people seeing her for the first time to raise their hands. "Are you all right?" she asked us. "Do you feel violated?"

We were definitely all right. The only violation was that she had to get offstage.

Before we left, we watched more of the skaters and talked to a couple of them, who tried to explain the nature of various tricks and how good a sk8r like "Pretzel" is. He said something really profound: "You can't appreciate it like we do because you don't understand the skill it takes to make something so difficult look effortless."

We suspect that's true of the Afro-Punk Festival itself. The operation seems to go off perfectly, without a hitch, with great pleasure for every one of the attendees, but hours and hours of planning and just plain hard work must go into producing an amazing event like this every year. So we're very grateful for those who made the Afro-Punk Festival possible.

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