I was excited not only to be able to go back to my old school again but to see DJ I and this new to me experience in music. I did very little research but found that they've been doing this HBCU touring for some time. And sadly, very little info seemed to have been passed out at Morgan's Metropolis, I mean campus as attendance was... hmmmmmmm... LIGHT let's just say. As I drove thru, around and around (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH BEING LOST - OK????), I noticed how many more structures had been built since my last visit in ooooh '85ish??? I attended from 81 - 83ish, hung around till '84 and went back for one Homecoming Game and that was it. I drove past it for 10 years on the way to work watching from the outside what was happening to the Library, Murphy and Hillfield House and beyond. I even tried to catch a glimpse of the infamous bridge over Coldspring Lane and any happenings on it. Sadly, I just never walked on campus after they locked it down for that last Homecoming event I attended. I was so upset as I wanted to see my old dorms but... it's a city campus and they had to do what they had to do to protect the kids.
I'll be tellin' ya all about it momentarily. Mes, Pound and Ms JJ, you'll enjoy this musical message.
Alrighty, I'm back and bout to get wordy. Last night a group named Afro Flow stopped back by Morgan State University as a continuing part of their HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) tour across the US. Their first trip was less than they expected crowd wise said Mike-E while giving his story to some eager listeners at the end. I was informed of the group's existence thanks one of their members, DJ Invisible. The "DJ" is an Internationally known musical entrepreneur covering such places as Germany, UK, Australia and even his own back yard - Detroit Michigan. I met him via a forum for his cousin, the actor/rapper Xzibit.
Now, back to the event... I went in, heard the music/voices and was like where is it?? Kids sitting around seem so unfazed by this FREE event. They were more interested in my HUGE camera that they never had a clue about the upstairs going ons at all. I arrived in the Ballroom to find it near EMPTY. What a huge room it was in a HUGER building with barely the stage area covered. Participation had to be literally pulled from those who were in a hands reach of the performers on stage. Mike-E was doing some talking and I was trying to get the peek on who was who. Ahhhhhhhh, there's the DJ and now who else is there. When I finally figured out that I had left the disc for my camera in the laptop... at home, I was deflated again. But Mike-E, Kenny and Red were doing so much on that stage, I barely had time to notice the camera. I sat it inside my coat and continued to enjoy the show. They did a set about cigarettes and the negativity of it - YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. Kenny did a tribute to the old days of NICE music like Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway and Red - well Red just did his thing on every instrument on the stage - literally. And let us not forget the African Warrior, (son of a Legendary Warrior) Sowande. Percussions are his life and that's all need be said. You'll have to see and hear for yourself. There were 2 more guys in the band, one on synthesizer?? and one on drums. The whole set is one you NEED to enjoy as we seemed to have forgotten that LIVE music needs to continue to be AHHHHHHHH LIVE and FREE FORM. Their set can be very, very energetic if you just allow yourself AND you have some active participants. (HINT, HINT MSU)
In this 2 hours, they invited "freestylers" not "rappers" on stage, invited singers to lend a voice and introduced the next musician hopeful in micro mini form. This is where my 3rd kid story comes in. Mike-E tells us we may need to help the next lil guest on stage because he can be a bit shy. So, we sing a lil song to what appears out of the side as the tiniest lil guitarist with the cutest lil face and attitude to match. Oh, he "plays" his guitar with such enthusiasm that he seems to forget we are they instantly. He never needed coaxing as he seemed to know he was getting his just attention. And when he's motioned to wind it up, his lil arms just goes in circle form winding and play plucking like the mini Pro he's becoming. Nooooooo... he did not slide with guitar - down ON the stage. Sheer laughter but nothing but love for the lil guy, I mean. He looks out in the crowd to get Mom's approval, back at Dad for some instructions and into the crowd again to see he's being enjoyed just as much as the grown folks on stage with him. Watch out world, a DJ's 4 year young son will be soon recking the globe, one guitar lick at a time. And to think, he's been playing since 3. WHAT?? At 3, I wish I could even remember what I was doing but I don't think it was anything musical you can believe that. I hope to hear more from him as he is NOT a part of Afro Flow's normal entourage. It sure was fun seeing him this tour stop. Oh and he performed the prior performance night as well.
Back to the band at hand. The presentation was a fusion of all sorts of forms... freestyle, spoken word, jazz, hip-ish hop (ahahaha) and instrumentation at it's finest. Keyboard, percussions, guitar, drums, voice, DJ... I mean - what else do you need? ALL HANDSOME ETHIOPIAN/AFRICAN/AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN!! And you know I loved it. Pure music in pure form. The DJ played a part of band breaking out the guitar to playing the hand operated lil metallic shaking thingy that gives the extra effect. I can not call that instrument, so someone feel free to help me. He even did the DJ-ing bit with the turntables t0o. At one point they invited singers up out of the crowd. This one poor girl who landed on stage twice giggled so much that if she had talent, she blew her chance to show it. She seemed like she had a nice voice but was somehow stage shy, I guess. At the end, they invited people to come over for CD purchases, autographs, flyers, wrist bracelets and other promo material. They even allowed tour bus entrance which I didn't really think about until I went on the site AFTER I came home. It's a fully decorated bus as seen on their site. The American Cancer Society, PellePelle, Ethiopian Airlines, Chrysler and Java Hope (also seen as 'Perk & Brew' Coffee who "In 1996, Perk & Brew became a certified minority and woman owned firm with national distribution.") all are their sponsors.
So go over to their website if this sounds interesting or even too short. You can register for updates, see video, hear music, chat on a forum, and just get heaps more info than I can give here. And if they come near you, IT's FREEEEEEEEE. Go see them and encourage REAL MUSIC STAY FREE FORM!!
PS - "they don't have groupies nor fans, they have supporters". Damn I should have hugged Mike-E for that one. Bowie is next... we shall see...
PS #2 - all the images in this message should link to the related sites. And the darker color text is a link as well.