Sunday I attended a little bi-monthly get-together called The Family Jam out on the Near Eastside that brings together mostly jazz musicians and friends for a little soul food and music. It was a nice mixture of African-Americans and Caucasians, a social mix I don't get to experience enough. I enjoyed the company and ate some perch that had been marinated in lemon juice and yellow mustard and fried into a crispy Cajun shell. The host, a well-known veteran on the Columbus music scene, began the show by singing a bluesy number and playing acoustic guitar. Then the mic was handed to to a guy who might have just walked out of the neighborhood church that was next door. He launched into a friendly sermon built around the theme of of Black History Month of which we were in the last day. There was a lovely rhythm to the call and response punctuated by the occasional affirmation from the audience. He intoned the memories of many with whom I wasn't familiar and a few that I recognized like Martin Luther King, Jr., Eunice Johnson and Malcolm X. Then he moved into the subject of economic injustice suffered inside his community and the tone took what seemed to me to be a jarring radical turn when he repeated a number of times the thought that we may need to exchange "bullets for the ballot". I went back and read the 1964 speech by Malcolm X that coined the phrase "The ballot or the bullet." http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/malcolm_x_ballot.html. It was a fascinating and powerful speech given at a time when blacks couldn't vote in the South and when Democrats, the "friends" of blacks, were filibustering the Civil Rights Act. He definitely walked a fine line in his explanation of what he meant but I think it is fair to say that he wanted African-Americans to use the ballot and he only advocated violence when met by violence. With that said, Malcolm used the repetition of the phrase, I think, as angry code for "Be proud of who you are and stand up for your rights." The Civil Rights Act passed 90 days after he gave that speech and Americans of all colors elected an African-American president 44 years later. At the time. when he said blacks shouldn't be afraid to use an expression like "The ballot or the bullet", Malcolm couldn't conceive of either of those events happening. I have to wonder if he would still feel that a person shouldn't be afraid to use that phrase in 2010. Do we still need to say "The ballot or the bullet" to assert pride and bravery or is it just a relic from another age that gets waived like a ceremonial talisman to relieve the stress felt by those who continue to face social and economic discrimination?
I opened the sun roof on the car today.
Thursday, tonight, The Main Street Gospel is having a SXSW fundraiser with Vug & the Stallions and Trains Across the Sea at Hal & Al's. Wish I was heading for Austin. Rumba has Dane Terry, Jonathan Hape and Dottie & Clyde. The Sundresses, The Jellyhearts and Chris Burney are at Treehouse.
Friday, Carabar has Couch Forts and The Town Monster. Gerald A. & the Humans, Southwest Engine and Black Swans are at Treehouse. Woody Pines is at Thirsty Ear. I always say this when he comes to town, but if you haven't seen Hamel on Trial, it will be the best $10 you've spent in long time. He does the happy hour at Rumba and he's followed by The Spikedrivers.
Saturday, its Evil Queens and Pretty Mighty Mighty at Ravari, Two Cow Garage at Rumba, Hell's Fire Sinners at The Shrunken Head (fka Victorian's) and The Wet Darlings are at Thirsty Ear. Ruby's has The Racecar Reunion with the Ooh La Las and others.
Sunday Dick's Den hosts the annual Townes Van Zandt Tribute benefiting WCBE featuring Miss Molly, Andrew Graham, Jesse Henry, Eric Nassau, Casey Velker, Erika Carey and many more. Ghost Shirt is at Rumba.
Gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day. mark