Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer So Far: 8035 fest, CONvergence, the Roots, Janelle Monae, Canvas, etc.

I thought summer would be less busy, but it hasn't been. But that's good. A few updates:

1. Yeah, expect a Guante & Big Cats! mixtape this summer. Mixtape in the sense that it's some new songs, some old songs and some live songs, though all the music is original. Details soon-- but let me just say, with complete humility, that's it the best mixtape anyone has ever done, ever.

(Greg Swan from Perfect Porridge took this photo)

2. Lots of great shows. Just finished a busy weekend with a show in Chicago with Melissa Czarnik, a Milwaukee rapper who is definitely worth a listen. I won the geek slam at the massive CONvergence sci-fi convention, despite being very, very cool. Then me and Big Cats went down to Des Moines for the 8035 festival, a huge music festival featuring Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse, Psalm One and many more. It was a beautiful day, until it spontaneously started raining during our set. But that's my fault. At least the crowd didn't leave, which was great. Big ups to Maxilla Blue for the hookup.

3. Canvas, the teen center where I serve as arts coordinator, is doing some really cool things. We just had a Hip Hop Against Homophobia concert (volume five, I think) featuring Mictlan from Doomtree, Heidi Barton Stink, Kaoz and me. Lots of fun. Also had a great community organizing workshop with Melvin Carter and a screening of Slingshot Hip Hop. That's all in addition to the weekly writing circle, drawing studio and dance ciphers. If you know teens in the Twin Cities, send 'em our way. More good things happening.

4. National Poetry Slam organizing and practicing is going great. We have a killer team this year, and are looking to repeat on our home turf. I'm especially exciting about the side events, and how we'll be plugging in local poets with national poets to host and run things. It'll be a beautiful mix. Side events include: LGBTQ, women's, Black, Latino/Indigenous, APIA, grief & remembrance, parent poems, group pieces, hip hop showcase, erotica slam, youth slam, rookie slam, limerick battle, haiku battle and more, plus workshops on writing, performing, activism and education. Full schedule will be up soon.

5. I'm kicking off a big project dealing with activism in the Twin Cities. The first phase of it is simply compiling a list of organizations who are doing good work. Do you know of any?

6. Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria's chapbook release show at the Loft has really pushed me to try to finish up my new book, which will be a companion piece to my one-man spoken-word show, The Fist that Lives in Your Neck. More info soon, hopefully. Will also be touring in October! Details TBA.

7. Labelmate and friend SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE has a new instrumental single, the harbinger of doom heralding the arrival of his new beat-tape, Breaks in the Clouds. The song is called What's Kraken, and has some really great album artwork.

8. NEW MUSIC. A few reviews I wrote:

Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Four Takes at Reviler.org with Mayda, Dessa and Jon Behm): I gave it a glowing review, but haven't been coming back to it as much as I thought I would. This might end up being one of those albums I respect more than I enjoy.

The Roots: How I Got Over (Four Takes at Reviler.org with Sean McPherson, Ali Elabbady and Jon Behm): This one has been growing on me, though I liked it well enough at first listen. I'd maybe rate it a little higher than I did at first.

Kristoff Krane: Hunting for Father: a review I posted here a while ago. In case you missed it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

National Poetry Slam Site and Twitter Go Live

The National Poetry Slam is in Saint Paul this year. It's going to be big. The OFFICIAL SITE is now live, and you can also follow NPS on Twitter.

Aside from the tournament, there will be dozens of open mics, themed readings, workshops, panels and other events related to slam and spoken-word in general. If you volunteer (see site for details), you can get in to everything for free. Lots of updates and information coming soon.

And yeah, if you didn't know, I'm on the Saint Paul team again this year. We took first place at NPS last year (held in West Palm Beach), so we're both defending our title and competing on our home turf. It's going to be a wild week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Have you heard of Chastity Brown?

Get familiar. Aside from guesting on my album, she's one of the top talents in the Twin Cities. CD release party on Saturday, June 12 at the Cedar w/ Roma di Luna and No Bird Sing. That's one of the best lineups you'll ever see. Some videos:

City of Music: Chastity Brown from MPLS.TV on Vimeo.

And here's a City Pages feature.

So yeah, go to the show. Buy the album. Like her on Facebook. Friend her on MySpace. All that stuff. Chastity is a special artist-- at once deeply personal, searingly political and musically talented; she really is the total package. I'm very excited to hear the new album.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Various New Videos (a cute cat, Guante talking, friends, etc.)

Finally got the proper firewire cable. Here are a bunch of new videos for various things.

Here's a music video I put together for my song "Spirit Bomb," the remix version that See More Perspective produced. You may not like the song, but you can't front on the million dollar production values:

Also, here's a video of me being interviewed about my art and my job for Springboard for the Arts:

Here's Chantz Erolin performing at the Fineline. Medium Zach on the beat:

Here's footage from the same show: Quilombolas featuring Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, Truthmaze and others for a special rendition of "Revolucionario." From what I hear, this might be the very last song they ever play as a band; glad I was able to capture it:

Finally, here's the newly touched-up version of Juliana Hu Pegues' and Tatiana Ormaza's "Under the Table," a very cool duo spoken-word piece about immigration and much more: