‘Lilith’ show on Saturday, Aug. 24

FLYER IN A DARK CHAMBER: Meditations on Lilith is a collaboration between performance poet Alli Marshall, musician Liz Lang (Auracene); dancers Sharon Cooper and Coco Palmer Dolce, Butoh artist Jenni Cockrell, and with imagery from artist Alli Good. Soundscapes, words and movement lead viewers through a series of vignettes delving into the many faces of Lilith, from the original woman who refused to be subjected by a man in the Garden of Eden to the miracles of the Black Madonnas of the Christian faith to the recent clemency of Cyntoia Brown who was accused of killing a sex trafficker.

The show will be performed on Saturday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m. at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, 120 College St., Asheville.

$10 for BMCM+AC members and students with ID / $15 non-members.
Tickets at brownpapertickets.com.

Lilith save the date

 

The Eye of Hathor (video)

A performance from this year’s Asheville Percussion Festival. Soundscape by Bonnie Whiting, movement by Brandi Mizilca, words by me. It’s a poem about creative work and women’s work and the intersection of the two: the point at which an artist steps through fear to meet a challenge. (At least that’s what I think it’s about — but it’s totally open to interpretation.)

Video and audio by Joshua Messick, live soundboard audio mix by Steve Beatty and Edward Link at Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, video editing by Asheville Rhythm.

Music venues shouldn’t be white spaces. Not even accidentally.

What is the responsibility of venue bookers, music promoters, club owners, and festival organizers to create a platform for artists of color? It’s a tricky conversation to introduce, because there are so many issues — ticket sales, popularity, potential tokenism — but I think it’s more important to have the conversation than to be graceful about it.

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Photo by Jorge Salgado from this year’s Neon Desert Festival

So I’ll start here: Asheville, where I live, is a predominantly white town with a nationally recognized music scene and a high per-capita number of excellent concert halls and listening rooms. But peruse the lineup of at least three of the most popular venues in town and you’re lucky to find one person-of-color-led act in any given month. I recently browsed the calendar for one such music hall that lists no artists of color from September through December. Continue reading

Arts, equity, and the whitewashing of Riddle Fest

I learned something this week: There are no artists of color performing at the upcoming Riddle Festival, an annual event celebrating Lesley Riddle. What you need to know here is that Riddle was an African-American musician from Burnsville who greatly influenced the Carter Family. So think about that for a minute: The first family of country music has a black musician to thank.

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Lesley “Esley” Riddle, right, with guitarist Brownie McGhee.

This is not the only story where mountain, Appalachian, country, folk and roots music — much of which seems so of the domain of white folks — is actually closely tied to and even originating from the creative efforts of people of color. But because the white narrative has long been the dominant narrative, people of color tend to be diminished or overlooked or left out altogether. Or not invited to participate in a festival commemorating a person who looks like them and represents the history, hopes, talents, and ingenuity of their community.

I don’t think the organizers behind Riddle Fest intended any harm or slight, but I do think these kind of oversights pile up, one on top of the next, until we really can’t see past them anymore. Words like “appropriation” get bandied about — for good reason — but I see a greater harm. Yes, when white musicians record and profit from the songs of unrecognized musicians of color, it’s plagiarism and Continue reading

My blood and stars and everything: Gregory Alan Isakov on writing

I recently interviewed singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov for Mountain Xpress. He’s on tour for his new record, Gregory Alan Isakov with The Colorado Symphony. Read the full feature here. Greg is one of my favorite musicians because his songs tell stories of encapsulated worlds and moods. The poetry is fleet is graceful and surprising, the melodies are bittersweet and strangely reminiscent, like remembering a snippet of a dream that fades even as it’s called to mind.

The poignancy of his lyrics, and his process as a writer, seem applicable to all genres of writing, so I wanted to share some expanded quotes fro our talk that didn’t make into the article.

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Photo by Blue Caleel

Can you talk about the new project you’re working on?

Gregory Alan Isakov: I’m just sketching a record now. I made a few EPs over this winter and last summer. They were kind of a collection — there were three or four different EPs. They were kind of complete works, and then I began working on a full-length.

Time has always been my biggest ally with writing and recording, which is why it takes me so long to put out [new work]. It’s usually no less than three years between records. I think a lot of that is letting things settle. Coming back to the recording and [asking myself], “Does this make me feel something still?” and “Is this still working?”

Continue reading