Category Archives: Reviews

Esperanza’s Story [Show review]

Submitted by Brandon Jackson.

Sometimes a story is only as good as the storyteller, and last Saturday Esperanza Spalding told a story of love, hope, and life during her second visit to the city of Indianapolis. Spalding performed at the Old National Theatre with her 10-piece Radio Music Society Band.  Spalding introduced each member of the band throughout the 2 hour long show as they each brought their own unique flavor to songs like “Black Gold” which backup singer Chris Turner sang out during the interlude. This song also consisted of a dialogue with Spalding as he sang “Was Travon Martin’s life so dispensable?”

Spalding allowed her feelings to take center stage as she played her bass and spoke to the audience while introducing songs like “Smile” in which she stated that, “If you’re not his queen, then he’s not your king,” making reference to how couples should treat each other in their relationships. Spalding also took out time to talk about the Innocence Project which was founded in 1992 to help prisoners prove their innocence through DNA testing. To date over 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing because of the vigilance of lawyers who volunteer their service to the Innocence Project. Spalding signed posters, CDs, and t-shirts after her performance from which she donated all proceeds to the organization located in New York.

Spalding is not only a musician who uses her music to bring change, but she is also a musician who doesn’t mind getting to know you if only for a few moments, as she proved during her signing after the concert. To be in the presence of Esperanza Spalding and the Radio Music Society made you feel right as she spoke to the audience as if they were friends that she knew for years. One funny moment during the show was when someone’s phone rang as she started to introduce the next song, and she reached out her hand and stated “Is that for me?” During her rendition of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It,” she wasted no time upping the energy level as she played her bass with ease and captivated the audience as she danced as if she was the only one in the room. Something else that stood out during her set was the life size boom box that sat on stage as Spalding actually used the prop throughout the show and made reference to as she introduced her last piece entitled “Radio Song.” Spalding had the audience laughing as she talked about how a bad day could go by being stuck in traffic on your way to an interview, but somehow that day would turn out good because you found your favorite song on the radio. Aside from the feeling that Spalding seemed like your best friend or your fun-loving sister, you still could not ignore the fact that she is a musical genius and a true musical icon in the making.

Read more of Brandon’s writing on Esperanza, HERE. Get a FREE TEE for you and a Friend by guessing this Esperanza Spalding SONG.


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A Deep Introspection Into My Last Show [Video] + Blue Moon Sunday

Any artist that is faced with a crowd like this must first acknowledge that they will not, and can not measure up to the need of the crowd. They must call for backup. They must call on the giver of the gift. So that’s just what I did. Continue reading

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Give Me One Reason

I knew what a job looked like. I knew what making stuff happen looked like. I didn’t know what an educated black man in a meaningful career looked like. Continue reading

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Dope Lyrics & Dope Lines

Tasha Jones could be nominated for a GRAMMY! That’s right the prolific writer, performer, model and inspirational speaker- Tasha Jones, is being considered for the most prestigious award given to recording artists.

All members of NARAS can help her make the short list. The project up for consideration is her recording “Poems, Lyrics & Reservations” under the Spoken Word Category.

Besides traveling the country spreading inspiration in words; Tasha is gearing up to host  the return of one of her hometown’s most successful open mic events, Blue Moon Sunday. In it’s heyday, (2004-2006) Blue Moon Sunday was a cultural magnet for anyone in the Region thirsting for organic creativity. Tasha was a regular contributor to the open mic as well as one of the show’s biggest draws as a feature performer. Look for her January 9, 2011 as she and some of the areas dopest performers bring Indiana’s most infamous open mic event to the Historical Madame Walker Theatre.

Blue Moon Sunday will also feature: iLL Holiday, Dj Lou Bey, The Michael Houston Band, and the dopest artists, performers, and poets in the Midwest.

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When I was TEN…Wouldn’t Do It Again!
When I was 10 years old, I had big dreams. So did my cousin(He was actually my mother’s cousin). He would come by and take me to rap for his friends. I began to think I was pretty good because of how he would introduce. He introduced me as the next big thing, and I believed him.

One time he said he was going take me to make some money. I said, “cool.” I didn’t care where we were going because I was sold on the fact that I was about to get paid. What I didn’t know, was that I wasn’t actually going to get any money. I was gonna get a good dose of something else, though. I was up for a life-long lesson.

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when we arrived at a 2 story brick building with a sign that read “The Elks”. I didn’t know what that was, but I’m just thinking, “They are about to pay me.” When we arrived on the second floor, I saw that it was packed. I quickly learned that everyone was there for the Annual Talent Show, and I was in it.

Without hesitation, I began going over all of the raps that my cousin’s drunk friends said were good enough to be on the radio. I surveyed the room and quickly determined that I was the youngest person there. Everybody loves the kid. I got this.

So I wait for my turn, and give the crowd what they had been waiting for- the new Micheal Jackson, who can rap! After my performance, I told them my name was DEE Rap (too long of a story to tell right now) and walked off the stage.

Well… Little did I know, I wasn’t the youngest person in the show. There was a kid who could do better than rap. This little 5 year old dude could SING! I couldn’t sing. I could entertain my way out of a butt whoopin-but I couldn’t sing. That wasn’t even the worst part… The worst part was that he went on to sing the hottest song of the summer.

He sang this…

The next time my cousin tells me we are gonna make some money. I better make sure he brings his drunk friends to cheer me on!

-iDouble Out!

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Dopeness In Our Midst :Tiara Thomas @ The Indiana Black Expo “iLL” is defined as – having great skill or skills with respect to a particular endeavor.

Today I learned a valuable lesson. When there is thirst, water can flow. Indianapolis has long been a thirsty market, but there has always been a mysterious lack of star quality in much of its homegrown talent. Well, Tiara Thomas surprised me with her ability to not only do the acoustic/ emcee/ singer thing, but also by the possessing the “it” factor.

I must say I have a definition of “it” that may be different than the next music lover. When I say “it”, I’m not talking about just a pretty face, pretty voice, or great combination of the two. Tiara has a certain mixture of grace and confidence that immediately lets the audience know, “Hey, even though I’m good at what I do, I still want to make sure I connect with you.” Not many artists, local or mainstream, have that. She has a genuinely good voice. Even in the transition from rapping the verse to singing the hook; you could tell there was a certain mastery of the material that is polished through practice, but only works when it comes naturally. I must also say that I’m a sucker for covers. Her covers of Drake’s Say Something and Forever did not hurt at all. After doing my homework, I learned that Tiara has not been under a rock, I have. One thing I know is, by the LIVE set I just witnessed, the name Tiara Thomas is about to quickly outgrow this cozy music market and land on the front of a mass of hungry music minds.

iLL Rating 8.0/10

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