I love humans. We win. We're totally the only ones who can do this. Well, except birds are pretty cool too. And butterflies. But for the most part, humans win.
My local radio station is playing Whitney Houston's songs in heavy rotation today. I am happy that she shared her gift with us while she as here. My heart is heavy for her daughter and for everyone who knew and truly loved her. I am feeling a little sad. About as sad as I felt when Aaliyah died and when Michael Jackson died. They are people you always root for and want to see them do well, you know? Each of their stars were rising right at the moment they fell. How hard was I rooting for Whitney's comeback? I'm sad that we will not get to see her rock the red carpet when her next film, Sparkle, premieres in the fall. The past few years have been rough on her. I believe her soul is at peace now. She probably looking down on earth right now smiling at the mark she left that says, "I was here."
I would like to remember her when she was at her best. Her smile, charisma and voice are unmatched in the music industry, yesterday and today. I have heard this song twice today on my car radio. It is a reminder, not only of how beautiful Whitney's voice was, but also that life, for all of us, really is just one moment in time.
Thanks to The Austin Chronicle and my uncanny luck with online contests (I don't enter many, but I win a lot of the ones I enter), I won two 3-day passes to Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011! I never have cash during early-bird pre-sales and had given up on going this year. I didn't even recall entering the contest. So when I saw the email that I had won, it truly was a pleasant surprise. The fact that the weekend kicked off on my birthday made it extra special. My husband came with me the first two days, our three year old son joined us on day 2 and was my date on the last day of the festival. Lots of planning and patience helped make this weekend awesome. Lots of pictures and videos make the memories that much sweeter. Here's what happened...
I was ready to call SXSW 2011 a total bust for me this year. My son was home from school for spring break so daytime shows and screenings were already a no-go. Going out at night is almost always never an option for me, so I didn't even try. But I got an email last-minute that changed all that...for one day, at least.
The PR folks for the Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate- Brett Dennen show sent me a VIP invitation to attend the show, bring a guest and collect swag. There was also a documentary screening scheduled after the show. After working much logistical magic between the family of my plus one and mine, it was settled: the men watched the kiddos and me and my plus one were out to do it VIP style in the ATX! Which was awesome and also totally not what you think...
The show was on the rooftop at Whole Foods Headquarters. It's located on my favorite corner in Austin right across from Book People (where I have spent many hours drooling over the awesomest collection of stationary, handmade jewelry, scarves and oh yeah--books) and Anthropologie (where I usually wear blinders as I make a beeline for the clearance room in the back of the store) and Waterloo Records (which I've never been into because I'm not hip and am not into music THAT much, but is great for people watching from the street-level cafe seating outside Whole Foods. Anyway, so the show was on top of Whole Foods HQ. Brett Dennen performed a great acoustic set as children played on the playscape behind him. Oh yeah, there's a playscape on the rooftop at Whole Foods, mostly because Austin absolutely ROCKS when it comes to keeping whole families in mind and the best businesses always keep that in mind. Austin luh da kids.
When I saw this concert posted on the Parent Wise Facebook page about a week ago, my first impulse was to skip it. Mainly because it was to take place on a Sunday morning at 10:30, when I'm usually in bed, at the gym or at church. Then I considered my son who is a ball of energy, just turned three and who loves music. I fought through my selfish bone and accessed my selfless mommy bone and put The Hey Lollies kid's music and puppet show on my calendar. I also shared it with my Mocha Moms group.
Yesterday morning we got off to a late start, but arrived at Cherrywood Coffeehouse just in time to see the second half of the show., and for breakfast! Y'all know I love coffee, I love to sing and I love to get silly-- so to sit with my son and enjoy all of the above was a treat. The performance was awesome and the women were, as expected, so warm and welcoming letting some kids sit on stage and engaging them with hugs and hellos after the show was over. I am an instant fan of The Hey Lollies.
Here is a video of my son enjoying the show, complete with photos and slow-mo toddler footwork action. Enjoy!
They have more shows scheduled for March. If you're in Austin, get ye there to see them. It's great weekend fun. Show times and locations listed after the jump.
A little background. I entered a video of my two year old playing drums in the Yo Gabba Gabba Cool Tricks Facebook contest. Then I begged for my Facebook friends to vote for weeks on end. Thanks to their votes, he won! The prize: VIP tickets to the show, tons of organic toddler snacks by Revolution Foods and access to the after party to meet the Gabba Gang. I thought we would get to meet DJ Lance too, but when he didn't show up early on at the after party, we asked the door guys and alas, it was not meant to be. No DJ Lance. But we sat so close to the stage, that every time he came to our side of the stage, he appeared to wave right at us. Although I can't say definitively, my guess is that he did wave right at us because we stuck out like brown...brown...sore thumbs in a sea of white thumbs. Mhm. DJ Lance waving at us was enough for my son to think he had actually met DJ Lance, which works for me.
*Update-- He totally WON! Thanks to everyone who voted. We're going to party with the Yo Gabba Gabba Crew LIVE, all thanks to your votes. This RAWKS! What to wear?!*
I couldn't resist entering him into this video contest. DJ Lance and Crew are coming to our town and the video that gets the most votes (per town) will be played at the show! And my almost-three-year-old will get to meet DJ Lance! And he LOVES DJ Lance. Please watch the video (he's not just fooling around, he really plays a tight beat) and PLEASE VOTE!
He's a few months away from turning 3, and loves music, which is why I think he's so into DJ Lance and Yo Gabba Gabba. One time, a firefighter asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up...his answer...DJ Lance. He was also DJ Lance for Halloween...
I hooked up with some of my lady friends and took in CBR's show at La Zona Rosa last weekend. I was surprised at how much she actually kinda rocked out. I had expected a low-key show, but it was live! Her band was amazing. Fortunately, her show was at a small venue, so we got to see her up close. How beautiful is this woman?! A friend of mine called her mesmerizing and that's exactly what she is. Pure talent is when an artist can stand on a stage, sans pyrotechnics and background dancers, barely move around and still command your attention. I didn't want to look away. Everything about her up there singing was awesome. I was kinda forced to look away for a quick hot minute when I passed out...yes...went blind and deaf and ended up on my hind parts on the floor during her first or second set. No I wasn't drinking--I was actually the designated driver, and No I'm not pregnant again--yet--I think. It was standing only and hot and crowded and I'm sure I wasn't moving around enough. Plus the air was stagnant and it all just added up to me falling out. It went down something like this:
After feeling like I had to puke and getting dizzy, I reached out and touched one of my friends on the shoulder...
Me: "Leesha, something is wrong. I feel like I'm 'bout to pass out."
Leesha: "You okay, Quel?!"
Blind. Deaf. Floor.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The sessions and events at this conference will focus on interests and issues of the female blogger of color, but it's all love at Blogalicious 2009--we're all brothers and sisters, so to my non-color blogger peeps, you are welcome! Come! You know you want to.
And yes, that's me with a LOT less hair. We'll talk more about that later. Happy Friday! :)
I actually enjoyed a gospel concert. Actually, I should call it a gospel production. My husband's church had their annual concert this weekend. It had everything: gospel music, of course, a little theatrical production, some spoken word, plenty of lyrical and interpretive dancing. Basically all the things that would normally annoy me about a church service on a regular Sunday. When I go to church, usually about once or twice a month, I try to arrive a little late...after all the singing and dancing and productions...so I only hear the preacher's message, which is the part of church services I appreciate the most. But Friday night and Saturday night (they had two shows) were nights for entertainment, and I have to say, were actually very entertaining. It was obvious that they put a lot of work into it. Billy actually took the week off to practice at home during the day and to make all 3 rehearsals during the week.
There are pictures...not so great ones, but the best I could get from my seat with the lighting and everything, <<here>>. That's my Billy, in the band, in the tan jacket.
I took some video on our camera too of Billy playing . (double click for larger view)
I also got the end of a dance-off between the two choir directors.
My favorite part of the show was this old man's old school performance of a song called Thank You Jesus (you been so good to me). I know there must be a hundred gospel songs called Thank You Jesus, which is one of the reasons I don't love gospel music--it's very redundant... full of clichés. But this old guy took it back for a minute to a bluesy version of the song. When the lights went down and that blues guitar started playing and an old head came out to the stage, I knew it was on. It reminded me a lot of Memphis and the church I grew up in and my old pastor/cousin who was an awesome human being. This was the highlight of the show for me.
I also enjoyed the spoken word performance. This guy named Brett performed a piece called "I. C. D. A. T." and it was really good. Some people in the audience snapped during parts of the performance, particularly on one part where he said something like, "The stairway to heaven is like an ES.ca.LA.tor RUn.ning in re.verse? The. first. wiiill beee laaaast? and the laaaast wiiill be first?" It was a nice performance.
There was a pretty interpretive dance too...and not one of those...interesting... interpretive dances like miming what the words look like, but a literal interpretive dance by the signers who interpret for the hearing impaired during the curch services. It was very beautiful.
It turned out to be a fun night. After the show, Billy and I went to my favorite restaurant on the planet, IHOP, and had a good time. Spinach omelet, wheat toast, grits, and Billy. I couldn't think of a more perfect evening. :)
I was actually almost tempted to go to the second show on Saturday night with our neighbors, but it takes a lot for me to go into the city on a Saturday, and Friday was a long day so...
He can sing too! He's here in Austin for the South by Southwest music festival. *We saw his show last night.
He's awesome. The music, the lyrics, the show, the man...awesome. He's a pianist and plays that keyboard with so much skill and power and conviction. It's quite sexual. I dare anybody to watch one of his performances and not liken it to making love. He has a way with his instrument...I'm just saying.
My favorite song is Human, but Beautiful Disaster is really good too. His album drops May 1, I think. Check him out on MySpace.
*Shout-out to Billy, Cheronda & Tres, who, apparently suffered through his show-- they claimed they did it because they love me, which I don't doubt. I love them too...they're my husband, my dear cousin and her husband--family. However, it was not very loving of them to call me "2/3 [enter race opposite from Black here] " just because I looked forward to and enjoyed last night's singer-songwriter set and Jon McLaughlin's show. Everybody has preferences when it comes to forms of entertainment, and I feel like people who limit themselves to one type of music, films, literature, whatever, are missing out. To say that Black people should enjoy X and white people should enjoy Y and that anybody who enjoys a little more X than Y is faulted it misguided and narrow-minded. Anybody who fractions up somebody's race just because they don't fit neatly into a racial stereotype is misguided and narrow-minded. I digress.
The reggae concert on Friday was fun--a great way to end a long work-week. Billy picked me up from work and we went straight to the venue, this place called The Backyard. It's outside and standing mostly. Some of the songs performed brought back so many memories of my college days. I remembered doing this one dance routine with my friend, Blen, to Shabba Ranks & Maxi Priest's-Housecall. I actually got a little emotional as I did parts of the routine I could remember. Needless to say, after working all day then standing/singing/dancing to Maxi Priest, UB40, Third World, and a couple of other reggae bands until after midnight, I was dog tired.
I slept all day Saturday, waking up only to pick my car up from the mechanic's, eat and go to the bathroom. Finally, after about 6:30pm, I got up, took a shower and had coffee. The lazy Saturday was much needed. I woke up refreshed this morning.
Now, after a couple of cups of coffee and watching The Cheetah Girls 2, which was, of course, awesome?, I have the rest of this day to try to have a somewhat productive weekend: MUST wash & Chi my hair, MUST do a manicure/pedicure, MUST take defensive driving online (very last minute of course).
We went to the 2006 National Poetry Slam individual finals last night at the Paramount. I loved the vibe there. Everybody seemed so free. I really felt at home...at ease. (I NEVER feel like that in crowds, so I've got to get to poetry sets more often.) Some of the poets were awesome; some where not-so-awesome. The energy in the room was great--very positive. And the MAYOR showed up! I'm so glad Austin is hosting it again next year.
All week different spots in Austin hosted no-cover slams featuring competing poets leading up to the finals this weekend. I didn't get to catch any of them 'cause of my living situation. There are so many places here in Austin that host poets and musicians on open mic nights on a regular basis, but they're usually during the week and I have the suburbs to get back to every night. That's one thing that sucks about living so far away from the city I work in everyday.
Don't get it twisted; I love my neighborhood and my house. Sometimes though, I feel like my situation be hinderin' me...
Like Monday night,
Connie Bailey Ray Corinne Bailey Rae is playing at Antone's downtown. I'm trying to figure out how I can make it home after work to walk my dogs, go back to the city to enjoy the show, make it back to the suburbs afterward and then to work on Tuesday morning. One of my coworkers lives 5 minutes from work AND from downtown Austin. He (and I imagine college students and other nine-to-fiver-city-dwellers) actually has time to enjoy weekday Austin events. I'm so jealous.
I'm gonna have to figure out a way to enjoy Austin more often and not totally neglect my husband, my pets, or my sleep. Maybe I should settle for weekends. No, all the cool stuff happens during the week. Maybe I'm asking for too much.
This weekend was amazing. This was my first big arena concert and the show was great. The after-party was great. SO much happened! Too much to try to write about in structured paragraphs, so I'll highlight the happenings to hopefully make for an easier read.
This is a long one:
We didn't get to meet the headliners of the shows, but we went to the concert, met with the dancers on the way to the after party, at the after-party and at check-out the next morning...when all we expected when we got there was to see the show. I'm so happy Summer chose to make reservations at one of the nicer hotels downtown. It was just one night. And it was totally worth it.
My friend, Terri came to visit me recently. We've known each other since we were like 10, so she's more like family in many ways. Anyway, since I've been "out" for a bit I haven't had a chance to fill you in on our visit. I was a little sickish most of the time, but I think I did an ok job of masking it...although I did say, "I'm sick" fairly often. It was an eventful visit...plenty to recap. I hope I don't forget anything.
In between all the going, we had some great laughs reminiscing and just hanging out. Just like the good old days.
This weekend has been great so far. I had my mom alone for a few days before everybody else got here. We've had so many cool moments together. I feel like I've been laughing non-stop. She's so silly...spotted hula hoops inside the entrance to Party City and decided to give it a go right there at the door..the people who were waiting to get out and who were coming into the store just stood there and rooted her on as we waited to see how long she could keep it up. So goofy. We spent most of Friday afternoon at Mozart's just talking...and laughing of course.
My aunt, uncle, and dad made it in early Saturday morning. They all went to sleep and my mom and I set off to shop for the party on Monday and Billy went to his butcher in Taylor to buy the meats. He goes to Taylor, 'cause apparently that's the best place to get goat and sausage.When we were all back at the house, I cooked for everybody (it was one of those rare moments I felt like a real grown-up) then Billy and I got ready for the John Legend concert. We got tickets and didn't realize that we would have guests the same day...but they're family, and they totally understood.
The John Legend Concert
...was AMAZING! He's so good! He gives great show. It was so hot (the concert was outside) and the opening act, Lyfe (totally feeling him right now), was an hour late starting and we had to wait another hour for J.L. to hit the stage. It was so worth the wait. He did an awesome tribute to Luther Vandross. We held L's in the air as he sang. It was an emotional moment for me. During the wait, Verizon had a screen set up where people could text message pictures and messages to. Billy texted, "luv U Quel" which was cool. There were proposals and rejections and pictures of puppies and people in the audience...it was only entertaining for a few minutes. Everybody was getting pissed that we were having to wait so long (some people were in line at 5pm, the doors opened at 7...John Legend didn't hit the stage until 10).
I was SO happy that he sang the songs like he did on the album, so we could all sing along...which I did VERY loudly...and so did Billy. There's this one song on his album that called So High. I really feel that song, and so when he sang it, I just closed my eyes and sang along as loud as I could, and listened to Billy sing along into my neck. It was a great feeling. I really felt high in that moment. Maybe it was the song, maybe it was the 2 guys in front of us who were "puffing" and "giving" most of the night, I don't know.
I'll post a proper album of the pictures soon. Some of them look like abstract art (couldn't figure out the settings on the camera), but there are a few good ones in there. I'm reading the book, because I want excellent photos from the D.C. concert in August.
After church today, we had lunch at The County Line and then went to Mt. Bonnell. Billy wanted to show everybody the sights up there. 2222 is not my favorite stretch of road in Austin. Billy was zipping around those curves in his GTI and my dad was keeping up in my uncle's huge truck. I thought I was going to be sick...
It was hot. It's a pretty nice set of stairs to the top, but it was a great time. We had some good laughs on the way up, and on the way down. My mom, from whom I inherited my goofiness, lost her footing when we were walking around up there and laughed hysterically on the way down...luckily my dad caught her before she hit the ground. My uncle Eddie and Billy decided to take the trail down...the rest of us hit the steps and made it back to the truck (and to the a.c.) a good while before they met us at the bottom.
I had put off going to Mt. Bonnell several times because I didn't see the point...and I hate 2222, but I'm so glad I went. We made some pretty cool memories today.Check out the cool pic of my folks looking at Austin from up there...they look like the Fantastic 5...Eddie and my dad repel evil powers with their bellies:)
HUGE party tomorrow at our place. I'll let you know how it goes.
We just scored tickets to the Destiny's Child concert! I logged on as soon as they were on sale to the public this morning at 10. Those tickets went fast, but Summer and I got pretty good seats.
I might brave the radio waves all summer to enter contests and stuff to try win backstage passes.
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