Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An early February string of shows: Joe Strummer tribute, WOWPS fundraiser, Common Labor CD release

(Me and Big Cats at the Triple Rock for the Mixed Blood Majority release show; photo courtesy of Paper Antler)

Honestly, I try not to play TOO many local shows. Luckily, these ones are all wildly different and I'll be doing wildly different things at each one. Here's a guide:

Friday 2/1: Tribute to Joe Strummer in the First Ave. Mainroom
I'll just be performing one poem, so don't come to see me-- but come to see an enormous lineup of Twin Cities bands doing Clash covers and much more. And it's all for a very good cause-- raising money for Free Arts Minnesota in memory of Daniel Levy. Link with details.

Wednesday 2/6: Women of the World Poetry Slam Fundraiser at Honey
I'm just hosting this one (though I may perform a little too), but basically, I put together a lineup of some of my favorite up-and-coming Twin Cities artists-- Lydia Hoglund of Bomba de Luz, Dem Atlas, See More Perspective, Kaoz, Unfuh Qwittable from Audio Perm and more. There will also be some poets, plus a special instrumental/DJ set from Big Cats. And it'll all be to raise money to put on this beautiful festival celebrating women's voices in poetry. Link with details.

Saturday 2/9: Common Labor CD release show at Hell's Kitchen
I'll also be giving a keynote address at a leadership conference and performing a poem at a huge gala to raise money for the Child Neurology Foundation this night, but the show I want you to come to is this one at Hell's Kitchen at 10pm. Common Labor is Analyrical and Phingaz, and Mike the Martyr, Kuley and MaLLy will also be there. If you want to see me RAP, come to this show. Link with details.

Plus: 3 More Prelims in the K.N.E.W. youth poetry slam series!
This series of slams and workshops is to help pick a team to represent MN at Brave New Voices 2013. The first one was fun and we have three more coming up: 2/1, 2/9 and 2/15. If you're a poet between the ages of 13 and 19, come to as many of them as you want and perform. I'll be at some of them, though not as a performer. Details here:

And all of that is just the first two weeks of the month. I'll also be doing a 2 Chairs Telling event, heading to UM-Morris and Dakota State University, plus playing two Hip Hop Against Homophobia shows: one at Central High school on 2/22 and one at Patrick's Cabaret on 2/23. If you want to come to the Patrick's one, hit me up for tickets. Everything is in the calendar in the column on the right. Thanks!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Song Spotlight #2: “Fireworks,” the politics of sex, and activist intersections

Above is a live performance of the song (yet again filmed and edited by Patrick Pegg), and here’s the album-version:

I was excited about releasing this song; partly because I think it’s a concept that hasn’t really been touched before by any rapper or musician I’ve heard, but mostly because it’s an idea that I think is important. Well, two ideas:

1. Our social and cultural attitudes toward sex color a lot of our actions around many other issues. Sex is used by politicians, media personalities and others as a wedge to scare, distract and divide people. I mean, the song is pretty straightforward, so I won’t expand on this idea too much here. “…without the fear of it, they would never get elected,” etc.

2. More generally: all issues are intertwined. While this song is about how the politicization of sex and sexuality affects other issues in U.S. politics, it could really be about anything—the criminal justice system, the environment, gun control, whatever. Every conversation we have or law we pass has a ripple effect; so-called “niche issues” or “special interests” are often much more universal than we generally want to believe. And when we start to see this, internalize it, and start working together, we can accomplish great things.

The first activist experience I ever had was with a group that did work around healthy sexuality. While it hasn’t exactly been my focus for the past few years, it’s still something I think is super important; major respect to all the activists out there working on this stuff.

I hope you like the song. As always, any re-posts of this link or of the video itself are greatly appreciated. And if you like it, be sure to check out the whole album here.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Kicking off 2013: Mixed Blood Majority release, Brave New Voices, more

2012 was great. A few things to look forward to at the top of 2013:

1. Me and Big Cats will be playing the Mixed Blood Majority Release party on 1/26 at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis. MBM is an indie-rap supergroup: Lazerbeak from Doomtree, Joe from No Bird Sing and Crescent Moon from Kill the Vultures. If you know me but don't follow the scene so much, you may still recognize them-- I did a song with Joe, a song with Crescent Moon, and a song over a Lazerbeak beat for a Doomtree contest. They're a special collection of artists, and it should be a great show. It'll also likely sell out, so get your tickets now.

2. I've been working with Tish Jones on the K.N.E.W. MN Youth Poetry Slam series, and the prelim slams start at the end of January. This series of poetry slams will pick the team of teens who will represent MN at the 2013 Brave New Voices youth poetry festival. If you're a teen poet between the ages of 13-19, you can show up to ANY or ALL of the prelim slams, share a couple of poems, and get a chance to advance to semis. The dates and locations are on the flyer above, and there's more info at our Facebook page. Additionally, if you are a teacher, youth worker, or just know people who might be interested, please spread the word.

3. A random note: Guante & Big Cats were selected by Reddit users as a "Best of 2012" spotlight artist. I only occasionally use Reddit, but it can be a very powerful tool. If you're on there, we appreciate any upvotes or posts or whatever. It was a great way to cap off the first phase of our promotional push.

4. I'm not particularly interested in releasing any album-scale musical projects any time soon, but I HAVE been making songs with Dem Atlas, Lydia Hoglund of Bomba de Luz, the Rube and Katrah-Quey. Something to look forward to.

5. I have a ton of Spring college gigs all over the country being processed right now. If you want to bring me to your school as a poet, rapper, workshop facilitator, lecturer or whatever, definitely get in touch. Contact me at elguante@gmail.com and hopefully we can work something out.