Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Music Lessons Anyone?? Check out

Yes you heard it can learn pretty much any instrument - strings, woodwinds, percussion, piano, guitar, you name it...for FREE. The fam and I have had the pleasure of attending some of the drum classes, sitting in on a piano class, and looking forward to the string and woodwind classes. All I can say is if you've always wanted to learn or brush up on an instrument here is your chance. Locations are at the historic Carver Theater, Cave 9 and a few other locations in the Birmingham area every Tuesday-Saturday (please see website for days, times, and locations).
From their website
Scrollworks' mission, as a non-profit organization, is to offer quality music education for children in the local community regardless of their ability to pay, with a focus on minorities and the under-served areas of Greater Birmingham. We fulfill this mission by providing a truly unique learning environment wherein the student guides the teacher to their greatest area of interest and in turn the teacher adapts to each individual child’s learning style.

The emphasis is on youth music education but all ages are welcome. So, brush up that old trumpet and slide on by..

Back in the days vol.1

This blog is inspired by my moms who kept demanding me to get "those boxes" from out of her basement. Upon finally doing this, (after years of procrastination) i discovered all of my old Hip-Hop mags 1995 - 1997.

July 1996, Reasonable Doubt was just released a month ago, June 25th to be exact, UGK just dropped "Ridin Dirty" their third studio album (7-2-2008), the Funk Jazz Kafe (featured in this magazine) was 2 years old (whats up Jason!), & we were becoming aware of the Brown/Black conflict in the West.

It's very interesting to see how Hip-Hop was portrayed over a decade ago vs present. First and foremost, it's great to see that Hip-Hop is no longer a vehicle to sale malt liquor! (those St. Ides commercials were the isht though) The objectification of women was not being used to sale Hip-Hop or validate Hip-Hop artists and Materialism (cars, bling, namebrand clothing) hadn't established it's foothold.

At this point (July 1996) Hip-Hop gladly welcomed 3 Emcees who we(I) believed were coming to save the genre. Enter De La Soul and their fourth studio album, Stakes is High, delivered 7 years after their gallant debut album, "3 ft. High & Rising." This was the anti-Puffy, stop jocking "Only Built for Cuban Links", introducing Mos Def, production by J Dilla, question emcees lyrical ability, no more Prince Paul opus created by three of the decidedly most daring emcees in the game. Unfortunately, they were unable to stop the onslaught of commercialization of the genre that we've come today to know as hip hop(?). At this point, I'd heard P.E. speak on social ills, but I'd never heard emcees critique their own genre so vehemently and confront peers w/o the express purpose of starting beef but to foster a growth for the art that they love...

"I'm sick of b*tches shakin' asses/I'm sick of talkin' about blunts/Sick of Versace glasses/Sick of slang/Sick of half-ass award shoes/sick of name brand clothes/Sick of R&B b*tches over bullisht tracks..."

The Plugs were also dealing with the disollution of The Native Tongues Crew and introduced some of the most talented emcees of today, Common (Sense) and Mos Def.

Hip-Hop was so "real" at the time, that folks were questioning the Plugs intent with "Stakes is High" because they had Zhane guesting on a song, "4 More," which critics said sounded too R&B-ish." It was this type of self-policing that I think many of us appreciated about the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. Now-a-days, everything is feasible as long as it makes money: songs about candy, super heroes, and emcess(scoffs) considered great because they appeared on a record breaking amount of mixtapes. Whatever happened to the Em-Cee...

De La Soul - Supa Emcees

Sunday, July 13, 2008

F.A.M.E. (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises)

FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios are located at 603 E. Avalon, Muscle Shoals, AL. in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They have been an integral part of American popular music from the late 50s to the present. Artists who recorded there included Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Clarence Carter, Candi Staton, Etta James, and many others.

Founded by Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill and Tom Stafford in Florence, AL, in the late 50s, the studio was first located above the City Drug Store in Florence, AL. The facility was moved to an former tobacco warehouse on Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals in the early 60s, when Hall split from Sherrill and Stafford. Hall soon recorded the first hit record from the Muscle Shoals area, Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On."

Hall took the proceeds from that recording to build the current facility on Avalon Av. in Muscle Shoals, and in 1963, Hall recorded the first hit produced in that building, Jimmy Hughes "Steal Away."

As the word about Muscle Shoals began to spread other acts began coming to Muscle Shoals to record. Nashville producer Felton Jarvis brought Tommy Roe and recorded the Rick Hall Dan Penn song "Everybody." Atlanta Music Publisher Bill Lowery, who had mentored Hall through his early days sent the Tams, Nashville Publisher/Producer Buddy Killen brought Joe Tex, and
Atlantic Records Jerry Wexler brought Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to record.

Aretha Fraklin's "I Never Loved a Man" recorded at F.A.M.E.