Monday, April 10, 2017

Saying Goodbye: Rock and Roll's Chuck Berry

This is a personal post. One of sadness and a sense of loss as so many musicians from my childhood through adulthood, musicians who are like distant fictive kin,  intimates who have been at times during relationship break-ups and start ups--closer often than family or friends. 

Delores Fisher (during my performer's transition to serious adulthood)

These musicians gave me solace during my "party down" disco club kid years and funky town foggy afternoon "git on up" young adult do I really have to come in to work early today? malaise. In the last few years, quite a few of them have steadily exited their way stage right off our world stage and on into eternity.

So many...I just want to talk a little about Chuck Berry.

Bad Boy with gleaming eyes and a tongue-in- cheek smile that lit young girls' hearts and erotic imaginings of older women nostalgic for husbands who had let the spark of excitement fade, Chuck Berry wore his hair in a style that we called "conked."  Really erotic romancing men wore this style.Yet, he could sometimes look  clean cut, like an innocent kid next door. And sometimes, when his guitar shaking gyrations and duck walking slide across a stage became scintillating,  he let a few strands of hair float onto his forehead as he bounced and frolicked in solo or in front of a band.

 
He could play his guitar so hot that you HAD to move something! He would sneer out lyrics that made adults roll their eyes and groan," Umh, Umh, Umh, you hear him?"As a little girl, I didn't understand the context, but even as a child I moved my little self to his wailing voice and infectious guitar licks.  When his fame as a performer grew, Chuck Berry began to play his music for all races and to many in other countries. He brought raw, raucous Black Rock and Roll onto the mid-fifties global scene.


And when played to all races with pick up bands in the U.S. and Europe,  he code switched to a commentary style that eased the taste of Black Rock and Role onto musical palates not quite used to such emotionality. He could become "proper" or "countryfied." Before he launched into a blistering riff. In an age when crossover artists were beginning a rise into acceptance, Chuck Berry's music was unapologetically Black American and HOT!



His hits became so big here in the US and oversees, that he achieved superstar status. One of my favorites: "No Particular Place to Go."Cars were becoming more than vehicles. Restless youth culture made automobiles and cruising an American adolescent favorite past time filled with drag racing, friendship, and male ego competition for the most prized girls in the high school.


Listen to this opening guitar lick. Sound familiar?


Think of so many rock players....OH YEA . . . think of the opening guitar riff to the stage musical homage to the 1950s....Grease. Dick Clark (also now deceased)was one of our youth culture lightening rods. He grounded us in everything on the scene, helped showcase so many stars and Chuck Berry . . . well,  Dick Clark was in lyrical form with many of his introductions for Chuck Berry, as depicted in this segment of American Bandstand.


When I became an adult, I valued Chuck Berry's resilience; music changed, civil unrest called for different sounds. Yet, he seemed able to reinvent himself, yet sound as rockin' '50s as always. His induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 helped to highlight roots of Rock and Roll in Rhythm and Blues and Blue's that was sped up and rocked by people like Berry long before it was titled as an official American musical genre.



Chuck Berry continued to tour through Reggae, Rap, Hip Hop, Bounce, Trap, Neo Soul and up until 2014 or so. Even during the 1980s, when he was on Soul Train with host Don Cornelius (also now deceased and another of our youth culture icons),  some young people recognized the distance between their music and his. But when he rocked hard on the Soul Train stage, they danced. A bridge was forged--Blues has lyrics that span generations when on the risque side.  On a 1973 Soul Train TV show with host Don Cornelius, Berry performs with a stage band that did not include familiar musicians. He was a solo player who played with all sorts of bands that knew his songs, chord changes, and his style.


Some good concerts, some not so impressive followed in the 1990s and 2000s.. He continued to tour, often  with his son, who seemed to help keep Chuck Berry going, encourage Berry to blast out his familiar licks.  And although slowing down, Berry was still "saucy" in his approach to stage presence and performance.



He's was here before I was born; His music and his persona was here during my childhood. He was here all my life, boogeying in the back drop of my life's lived experience tableau. Chuck Berry, guitar man  was a legendary musician. Although he's gone,  Chuck Berry's music . . .is a memorable thread of notesongs of my life, my sonictapestry.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Delores Fisher: A Personal Note To My Carpe Noctum Readers

Hello to South Africa, Czechia, Sweden, and Poland! And, a special thank you to all my readers around the world.

                                                        Delores Fisher educator/blogger


Just want to talk about a few events and people whose lives and projects have helped me smile through the last few weeks of flu related illness. Thanks to my doctor for intervening with gentle yet cautionary medical advice and for helping me to slow down.

Our 21st century array of several effective vaccines seem to be working against recent flu outbreaks, but be cautious; nature previously revealed in 1918 its ability to mutate viruses with disastrously unpredictable global consequences.http://time.com/3731745/spanish-flu-history/    The 2017 flu season, although so far not as horrific as 1918, is still here. Health websites remind us  about that devastating GLOBAL flu pandemic.  The flu is highly contagious.  A lot of people will become sick or are already ill.

Although I am much better, I had to cancel several engagements; however, I was able to attend a few events while  regaining my strength.

MOPA (Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego, CA.) Film Screening of "Spirits of Rebellion"

                            Film maker  Zeinabu Davis

Artists interact in so many ways that interlace on the daily. Film maker professor of Communication at UCSD Zeinabu Davis is a quiet and unassuming woman of immense talent. She and I have known each other as acquaintances for several years and rarely talk about our artistic projects. This is the first time I have seen her work. Her newest film is about the 1970s ethno-communications program for Latino, Black, Asian, and Native American film makers at UCLA. 


These lyrical visual story tellers created filmic narratives about African American lives through African American eyes. They collectively became known as "the LA Rebellion."  This is a must see cinematic tableau. During the question and answer session after the film, Zeinabu Davis's responses revealed her depth of passion and scope of research in bringing her fellow group of film makers to public attention.


                                                 Photo Op moment with Zeinabu Davis

Playwright Paul Wm. Taylor Jr: 
Community Actor's Theater Production "He Was A Slave"

Paul Wm. Taylor Sr. has written several plays with successful production runs--see my review of his play "Rants" that examines African American inter-generational relationships,  https://sonictapestry.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/theater-review-rants-at-san-diegos-cat-theater/ 

Although Taylor tours some of his plays on the K-12 public school circuit,  He enjoys being in community at Jennie Hamilton's Southeast San Diego theater. His play "He Was A Slave" is one of his education plays. 
                                                          Playwright Paul Wm. Taylor Jr.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the play opens with Scottie Nic center stage (yes, the same Scottie Nic  stunt double for Terry Crews in the "Longest Yard"). Nic's opening monologue is a short lecture about Black history month. His narrative is interrupted by a thick rising mist from which emerges George, the slave character played by Paul Wm. Taylor Jr. Using mist as a motif for ancestral phatasmogoric absence and presence, time is collapsed and expanded. Young actress Heleena Mosley and San Diego actress Shea Coleman create a phantom Greek chorus, commenting on pathos filled moments from George's life with song.

                                   Shea Coleman, Paul Wm. Taylor Jr., Scottie Nic, Heleena Mosley
  
Shea Coleman also enjoys working in community at San Diego's Community Actor's Theater. Although her list of acting credits include many venues, she notes that being back on CAT's local stage helps her stay balanced.


                                                     San Diego actress Shea Coleman

A panel discussion followed "He Was A Slave." Paul Wm. Taylor Jr, Gloria Verdon, Heleena Mosley and I examined ways in which America's systemic racism and slavery impact today's society. Our discussion embraced lively audience commentary/dialogue and lasted for over an hour.


 

 Heleena Mosley, Paul Wm. Taylor Jr., Delores Fisher, Gloria Verdon

 San Diego State's Student Research Symposium (SRS)
Nurturing student research is not only a way to mentor students but it is also an investment in out future scholar's ability to conceptualize and follow through major research projects. Faculty, corporate, and community volunteers serve in various capacities to ensure the symposium's nurturing ambiance. continuation. 

I have served as a judge for several years now and as a student mentor in 2014  to a Dean's award winner. It is humbling and gratifying all at once to interact with future potential. 

                                                       Delores Fisher SDSU SRS  Judge  2017

Keynote speaker Dr. William F. Welsh Jr. delivered a poignant and inspirational speech about real life experiences as a student. He noted that positive mentoring can help a student realize their true calling, provide guidance into a area of study for which a student has definitive talent. 

Often, that field may not be on a student's "radar"as a possible choice to pursue. Dr. Welsh noted that had he kept wandering without focus as he walked the road of academics, ignored mentors' advice, he may not have become a leading specialist in circumbinary planets. He is a very engaging speaker. His personal anecdotes are jewels of wisdom.


                Dr. William F. Welsh Jr Speech title: "From Tadpoles to Tatooine"




                                                        Dr. William F. Welsh Jr.
 

Student Research Symposium students are serious about research and scholarship. Different from other students, they take their research outside the classroom for public scrutiny. Here's only a few congratulations and photo ops.
                      Art and History of San Diego Presidio Ceramics group presenters
                       Shawna Bishop, Domenique Maj, Erik Fredrickson,
                      Jessica Van Ruiten,  Cecelia Holm and advisor


                                       Award winning Jessica Van Ruiten's replica pottery

Socio-emotional learning is still not fully embraced in all areas of academe. Award winner 
Kimberly King-Smithson's "Cultivating Social Emotional Growth Through Theater and Performance" presented a strong case based on her work with guiding student interaction 
through performance in popular ensemble pieces of Trolley Dances.

                                     Kimberly King-Smithson and Delores Fisher (photo op!)

David Watkin's ongoing research about choreographer Helen Tamiris opened a window that illuminated a little researched women in dance who as he stated," . . .Serves as a footnote in several books." And, violin pedagogy author Quyen Nguyen's presentation "A Sequential Approach to Developing Musical Literacy" demonstrated her globally renowned approach to teaching technique and historical context to young violinist.


                                        David Watkins, Delores Fisher, Quyen Nguyen

Quality research over several years also yielded an award for master's student Harmony Saunders. She has continued to delve deeper into research that might possibly, in a few years after completing the master's degree, become a doctoral dissertation. My thoughts are with you Harmony as you work towards your goals.
                                     Harmony Saunders

CFA 85th ASSEMBLY

I was able to attend only two of the three CFA (California Faculty Association) Assembly days last weekend. Never the less, it was still an intense couple of days for me. I hope to continue networking with new contacts and participating more actively in faculty events. In a few relaxing moments, I chose to  just chill (hang out and talk) with acquaintances, friends, and mentors. 

                                 Dr. Isidro Ortiz: 2017 Davenport Award by the National Council for 
Higher Education of the National Education Association (NEA)
             and me, (just chillin')

                                          Dr. Sharon Elise and me (just chilin')
                                 
We are mid-March and winter is blushing slowly into spring on our North American continent. Where ever you are, if healthy,  if  ill, or if  healing . . . I pray that you will stay well, get well or be and well.

                                                      Delores Fisher, Muse woman


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

International Poet Olga Garcia


                                                   International Poet Olga Garcia


Hello to folks in the U.S., new international readers in India, Ireland, Egypt and to brand new readers in Bhutan!

Each year, several poets and I get together from time to time for breakfast, or a luncheon salad, mid-afternoon tea, and dessert or a few evening street tacos. We relax in venues from East Village  to Hillcrest to Downtown San Diego's international food district.

This unusually bright, clear skied day, Olga Garcia international poet and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual https://sandiegopoetryannual.com/   meets me for an early lunch. We choose a favorite chil-lax eatery: Bread and Cie in Hillcrest  http://www.breadandcie.com/the-cafe/    They have a varied menu, but we usually have one of their tasty, balanced salads, bread,  and tea--food that fuels our sharing.

                                                            Bread and Cie

On the way, our conversation turns from everyday life to performances and the arts. I have been laboriously writing poetry and composing again after a very long hiatus. Creativity can be a beautifully difficult process. Jim Moreno, Sylvia Talafaro, Chris Vannoy and Olga, Reg. E. Gaines inspire me. It will happen. I haven't been able to pick up pen or pencil to pas de deux with my lyrical muse in rhythmic arabesques across the page truly for several years now. But they meet my gaze with wisdom. I know,"Soon." 

                                                              Olga Garcia

We park and then stroll around sunny Hillcrest streets, thankful it is not a rainy day. It has been raining for hours in clusters of days for several days in San Diego. We have land sliding and tress falling, flooding streets and fogging late nights yawning into the face early morning clouds. We have been in a long drought. But so much rain? Well, it is good for saturated land to dry out.


                                                       Delores Fisher (blogger/poet)



                                                         Olga Garcia (poet)


We arrive at  Bread and Cie after walking and sharing holiday anecdotes and photos; we sit down to our usual--salad with cranberries, walnuts, varied greens, sprinkled with gorgonzola cheese and more holiday stories. Healing . . . . energy, it's almost palpable, you know, the energy.

                                                       Selfie Time!!!!!


It surfaces often in conversations lately. Several other San Diego poets note positive, healing, energy growing at open mic nights. It's not only among poets, but also in other artistic communities, collaborations, tributes, acknowledgements of work touching hearts and lives.Think of Adele's Grammy and her heartfelt thank you for Beyonce's artistry which lit the way for Adele to shine her again light onto our global stage.



Perhaps an organizer will sponsor a "world arts day" in near future. We will share our melodies, sculptures, paintings, photos, writings,  encouragement for too many right now  who are wounded and weary,

Hmm . . . .a  21st century global Langston Hughes type of "Weary Blues" or maybe a jazz inflected Horace Silver "Song for my Father" ...mother, sister, brother. Some people say we're beyond Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On? But perhaps we are revisiting Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes "Wake Up Everybody" calling for elders and youth to declare a truce and work together for community betterment. Another version, Hip Hop, calls youth to rock the vote. Three generations of performers Jeremiad for surviving strife. I like the original, and the Hip Hop version, but John Legend and the Roots "Wake Up Everybody" resonates most for me.




Creativity working in community. 

Thankful for artists who help others re-claim voice and message.
Delores Fisher