Tag: Mavis Staples

Preview: SummerStage 2017

Back in 1986, the City Parks Foundation created SummerStage in the spirt of Central Park’s original purpose — to serve as a free, public resource to help culturally enrich the lives of New Yorkers through live concerts, dance performances, and other cultural events.  And the festival’s first few years revealed relatively humble beginnings as its first few years of live programming were at Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell; however, with artists such as Sun Ra Arkestra and legendary South African vocal act Ladysmith Black Mambazo and an impressive list of others playing those first few years, Summerstage, SummerStage quickly developed a reputation for presenting one of the most diverse array of artists across a variety of cultures, genres and styles — and they’ve continued to do so throughout its 30 plus year history. Over the past handful of years, SummerStage’s organizers have expanded the festival beyond Manhattan with shows hosted in parks, bandshells and and makeshift stages across the city’s other five boroughs, and from covering the festival throughout most of the history of site, it’s a wonderful afternoon or evening with your friends and neighbors; plus, there’s nothing like catching acts that keep you in touch with your inner child.

2017’s SummerStage season will begin in earnest on June 3rd with the legendary and imitable Mavis Staples, a national fucking treasure if you ask me, with contemporary blues artist Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely Good Music to round out a night of soul, gospel and blues at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. And the rest of the lineup for his year continues an incredible run of must-see acts. Some other highlights will include:

And of course, there are a handful of benefit shows presented by The Bowery Presents at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield to help support City Parks Foundation’s continuing efforts to present free arts programming to New Yorkers and that lineup is equally impressive.

SummerStage will also be expanding its family-friendly pre-show workshop offerings this year to include dance classes, beatboxing lessons and introductions to DJing and Latin percussion. These interactive workshops will take place prior to elect SummerStage shows throughout the summer and all ages are encouraged to come out to your local park to participate. This year, the pre-show workshops will being with a DJ lesson from Scratch DJ Academy and a beatboxing tutorial with beatboxer Exacto before Digable Planets’ Coffey Park show — and other workshops will include salsa dance lessons in St. Mary’s Park and a poetry class in Marcus Garvey Park.

For more information and schedules check out SummerStage here: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/

February 2016’s JOVM Spotify playlist will likely continue the wild variety I’m so proud of but with a number of mainstay artists including tracks by Victoria + Jean, Anna Rose, Rene Lopez, Anika, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Gosh Pith, Marco Benevento, New Order, Boulevards, Mavis Staples, Sofi Tukker, Charles Bradley, Majid Jordan, La Sera, Pr0files, Atmosphere, We Are Temporary, Beacon, Elephant Stone, Caveman, Octo Octa and several others who you’ve become familiar with through this site. But you’ll also come across a couple of tracks from one of my favorite new artists of the year, Sophie and the Bom Boms, some classic blues from Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and George Thorogood, porto-metal and stoner rock and countless more. Check it out!

Although not every single I’ve written about over the course of 2016 was available on Spotify, this month’s playlist continues with what I think is the strength of this site — true diversity of music. And this month’s playlist features tracks from JOVM mainstays METZ and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Koncept and J57 as well Toronto, ON-based electro pop act Laser, Keith Murray, Main Source, the legendary Mavis Staples, singer/songwriter Jenny Gillespie and many more. This playlist also includes a 50 plus song tribute to David Bowie, who has been a large influence on me and the eventual creation of this site. Check it out and enjoy!

More than enough ink has been spilled throughout the lengthy and influential careers of The Staple Singers and Mavis Staples, and as a result it would make it unnecessary to delve deeply into her biography — or to repeat what countless others have written and said about her. What I will add is that over the past couple of years the legendary soul vocalist has been remarkably prolific — last year saw the release of the critically acclaimed Good Fortune EP, which was produced by renowned soul artist Son Little. And perhaps much more momentous, the posthumous release of Pops Staples‘ last recorded effort Don’t Lose This, an effort that required the assistance of Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy, who has been a frequent collaborator over the past few days, as well as a number of guest musicians to complete the album as her father intended.

February 19 marks the release of Mavis Staples’ latest album Livin’ On A High Note and the album will reportedly reference and draw from her 60+ year musical career influencing and defining soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues rock and even hip-hop. But the most interesting thing about the new album is that Mavis recruited a number of diverse and critically applauded contemporary artists to write songs on the album including Neko Case, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, tUnE yArDs, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart and M. Ward — with Ward also taking up production duties. As the legendary soul singer explained in press notes “I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”

 

 

The album’s latest single  “High Note” discusses something that is easier said than done for most us — and it’s certainly the case for me: taking the higher road despite how hurt, betrayed and disgusted you might be over a particular person or a particular situation, and doing so with grace and dignity. At the same time, the song’s narrator points out that taking the higher road requires wisdom and experience — sometimes embittering and hurtful ones to know when and how to do so. Sonically, the song pairs a loose and bluesy guitar line with Mavis’ legendary vocals in a song that radiates a comforting and soulful warmth that says “hey, I’ve been there, too.”