Category: musings

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Caption: The stakes in this election — and in every election — is high, as De La Soul says.

Today is Election Day here in the States. So to my fellow American friends, followers and readers, if you’re somehow still undecided and a registered voter, you need to research the politicians — from their positions to their voting records, if they’ve served in office already. In New York City, we have initiatives that will change our City Charter. There may be similar initiatives in your city or state, and you should check those out, too. The most important thing is that you vote with the understanding that politics is always local and personal; politics and economics impact every single aspect of your life, including:

  • Who you can marry
  • Who can take care of your estate
    Who can inherit your belongings
  • Who can make medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated
  • Whether that new school is built — or if a prison is built instead
  • If your local sports team builds that new arena or stadium on public land. and who funds the project. Or if your town builds a new arena or stadium on public land, to steal another city’s team
  • What you can do with your body — and when
  • If you have a robust social safety net or not.
  • If your town has a robust public transportation network or not
  • What your school district teaches your children
  • And on and on

And all of these things go up and down both locally and federally. So if you’re registered to vote and you haven’t voted yet or think that it doesn’t matter much — well it really does matter. Deciding not to vote, is a vote for politicians, laws and policies that can fuck your life up and those of your loved ones for generations.

If you’re undecided, spend a few minutes researching the candidates, their ideas, and their voting records (if any) and vote with your conscience and your loved ones in mind. Here in New York State, we have another four hours or so to vote.

If you’re not registered, find out how you can register in your state. Federally, you can register to vote or change parties, every time you renew your state ID card or driver’s license.

Voting is the cool and absolutely necessary thing to do to ensure the future you and your loved ones want — and need.

12 years ago today, I started what has been for me — my life’s work.

Because some of ya’ll might be new and because I haven’t mentioned it in some time: I was working at a small publisher full-time and picking up gigs and left and right writing for any publication or website that would give me exposure, pay me or just give me free stuff.

I moved on to my second publishing job at a business book publisher but I continued freelancing. At this point my father was spiraling out of control. I was with my mom and I was desperately trying to make ends meet as much as I can. The number of publication credits I have in my name is kind of bonkers; but the sad thing is that most of those publications and websites have been long defunct.

In 2011, I started writing for a website, which was started as an offshoot of a fairly well-known and well-regarded website, which was big on covering singer/songwriters. The site was supposed to lean hard on covering indie artist but the main editor there seemed to have a blind spot about hip-hop — and about an artist, who I covered in the past that I thought was worthy of coverage.

So, encouraged by a then-girlfriend, I started JOVM as a way to cover whatever I wanted to cover — without having to debate about its editorial or commercial validity to someone else. Honestly, when I started the site, I couldn’t have imagined three quarters of the things that I’ve done and experienced over JOVM’s history to have ever happened.

I’ve covered roughly 1,100-1,200 shows in NYC, with a handful of shows in Chicago and Baltimore.

I’ve covered about a dozen or more festivals, including traveling to Montreal for M for Montreal back in 2019.

I’ve been a panelist at Mondo.NYC Festival and at New Colossus Festival, speaking about PR, promotion and press for indie artists, giving my perspective as a indie blogger.

A few years ago, I made a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s music video. It’s a very noticeable spot towards the end of the video. It was a fun experience, but so far no one has called me about acting gigs. Maybe I need to stick to the writing and photography?

I couldn’t have imagined photographing George Clinton, Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Blondie, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey The Blind Boys of Alabama and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.

I wouldn’t have met the countless colleagues and musicians, who have become supporters and friends. And by far, music friends have proven to be the very best of friends.

When I celebrated this site’s 10th anniversary in the middle of the worst of the pandemic, things seemed — understandably — bleak. Although we’ve somehow managed to slowly claw our way back to some degree of normalcy, things across the industry still seem bleak: Touring is an even bigger financial risk for musicians and COVID-19 has made it even more complicated because you’re now out there risking your health — just to make money to live.

What’s next? In the immediate future — let’s say over the next one to maybe three years out, expect the following: Frequent cancellations, postponements and rescheduling of tour dates up and down the line, as artists grapple with the complications of touring during a pandemic.

Meet and greets with the artist before or after the show will most likely be rare for more mainstream and established artists. For indie and DIY artists, they’ll continue to do so at great risk because those connections are desperately necessary.

We’re all trying to figure out how to maneuver in a new, confusing and very uncertain landscape.

With 12 years under my belt, I have no intentions of going anywhere. I’ve managed to carve out a unique spot in the blogosphere, a place that I feel is increasingly necessary because the music and media industries are often rather homogeneous places.

Before I close out, I want to thank some of the following folks for their support. Without them, I don’t think the past year, let alone the past 12 would have been possible:

Sash

Alice Northover

Bella Fox

Jenny MacRostie

Janene Otten 

All of those folks have been generous Patreon patrons. Of course, feel free to check out the Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement. And if you’re able to support, your support will be greatly appreciated and continuously shouted out.

I also have to thank the good folks at Creatives Rebuild New York. I’m proud and humbled to be included in the program. And the monies received throughout the 18 month period will be put to very good use — keeping this dream of mine going. I can’t thank them enough.

You can also support by checking the JOVM shop: https://www.joyofviolentmovement.com/shop

You can also support my following me on the following platforms:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/william_ruben_helms

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/yankee32879 and https://www.twitter.com/joyofviolent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheJoyofViolentMovement

And you can hire me for headshots, portraits and events. Seriously, I’m available for that, too. You can click here: https://www.photobooker.com/photographer/ny/new-york/william-h?duration=1?duration=1#

Here in the United States Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates and commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people: It’s the anniversary of the announcement of General Order 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, an order that proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in Texas. Originating in Galveston, TX, where Granger announced General Order 3, Juneteenth has been celebrated in various parts of the States — with the holiday often being a broad celebration of Black American culture.

Some of the earliest celebrations, which go back to 1866 involve church-centered community gatherings. Celebrations spread across much of the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s focusing on Black American food. With the Great Migration, the holiday was taken to other parts of the country.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Juneteenth was eclipsed; but the holiday grew in popularity in the 1970s with the Black Power Movement, and featured a focus on freedom and Black art.

Although many of us weren’t taught this, Juneteenth is the real independence day. Sadly, it took 150+ years for the day to become a federal holiday. But that’s America for you. (Over 200 bills were written to make lynching a federal crime — or a hate crime — and that was only passed last year! Also, don’t tell me that America isn’t racist.)

So, you’re an ally or you want to be an ally. I understand that it’s often very difficult to know what the right thing is to do or how to even go about it. It’s even more confusing when there isn’t consensus. Now, I’m not going to speak for every single Black person in this country but I’d say you can do some of the following:

  • If you have Black friends, coworkers, etc.etc. that you respect, ask. Ask without assumptions or preconceived notions — and fucking listen.
  • Amplify Black voices: If you follow a Black creative or a Black influencer, who you really dig, shout them out. For a small, independent website or a blog, every new click, every new pair of eyeballs can potentially mean a new follower, a new customer. If you have a few bucks to spare, buy art or merch from Black creatives. If they have a Patreon account, donate a few bucks. Every dollar really does matter.
  • Buy Black. Simply put, spend your money with a small Black business, who you really dig.
  • Donate to causes that help some of vexing issues of systemic racism.
  • With every candidate you consider voting for, look into the causes and issues they support and their thinking behind them. If they’re already in office, look into what bills and projects they voted for and supported.

Of course, there is always more you can do. Just listen to Black folk. And in the meantime, Happy Juneteenth!

Lyric Video: Stereonoon Releases a Neo Soul and Jazz-Tinged Take on Trip Hop

Stereonoon is an Italian neo-soul/jazz and R&B inspired collective formed during pandemic-related lockdowns that features core creative duo Verona-born vocalist Anna Polinari and cinemavolt’s creative mastermind Max Tozzi paired with a rotating cast of talented Italian players. Late last year, the act released a straightforward yet vibey cover of Joe Jackson‘s classic “Steppin’ Out,” centered around a sinuous bass line and Polinari’s sultry vocals.

The act’s debut EP Yeah. And Stuff was released late last month and features guest spots from a number of internationally acclaimed musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Mark Lettieri (guitar), Matteo Pontegavelli (trumpet) and Francesco Dondi (tenor saxophone). The EP’s latest single “Inconvenient” is a neo-soul and jazz-tinged take on trip hop centered around twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, stuttering drumming, an expressive, jazz-inspired guitar solo and Polinari’s sultry vocals. Lyrically, the song is an unflinchingly honest view of a vulnerable narrator examining herself and her longing to be someplace she feels she belongs.

https://pitchfork.com/news/love-as-laughter-sam-jayne-is-missing/?fbclid=IwAR3ruQGVWvQIRuwOZpVjvX1XL7HRj3D7T0e3Nhg_vQjC4DSPZPFbTeK1H_0

For a couple of years, Sam Jayne was one of my bartenders at Clem’s, my home away from home. I can’t and won’t say that I knew him better than his bandmates, family and closest friends. When I first met him, I found the man to be extremely annoying but he grew on me. He still had some awful taste inn movies. He once made us all watch the Piranha trilogy and JAWS 3D in the same night. Bradley Cooper wants all of us to forget Piranha — and so does Jerry O’Connell. (By the way, Piranha 3 is arguably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.)

Mutual friends and acquaintances have shared pictures online and it makes me miss his mischievous eyes and laugh.

The last time I spoke to him was for Clem’s (virtual) Video Request Night the week before he disappeared and we bullshitted about music, as we often did. He regularly played Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” which led to an ongoing joke between the both of us about how the video was false advertising. I miss that the most.

He also loved this abomination of a video below. He played it so much at one point that I begged him to stop. I fucking miss that too.

People die, it’s what they do at some point. But often it’s the details of their deaths that shake you. Knowing that poor Sam was dead in his car for days breaks my heart. For someone, who was such a vivid character, it feels unjust and unfair.

Musings: Election Day

As I mentioned in a previous post, today’s elections may arguably be the most consequential of our lives, if not the country’s history. So far 102 million Americans have taken part in early elections — whether through mail-in ballots or showing up in person. Of course, there are Americans who have waited until today or who may not vote. This post is directed to those people, who will say “well, it doesn’t really matter” or “both parties are the same” or anything along those lines: Your life, your safety, your job, your bodily autonomy, the things you like to do, the businesses you frequent, your ability to be with who you love and have that recognized all depend on voting — and who you vote for. Your vote can impact the lives of other people, too.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here. It’s true. So please use your voice and vote. As De La Soul would say, “Stakes is High:”