Thursday, December 26, 2019

To our listeners around the world.Happy Holidays

  1. Happy Holidays in French: Joyeuses Fêtes!
  2. Happy Holidays in Spanish: Felices Fiestas!
  3. Happy Holidays in Vietnamese: Hạnh phúc ngày lễ
  4. Happy Holidays in Chinese: 節日快樂
  5. Happy Holidays in Filipino: Masaya pista opisyal
  6. Happy Holidays in Irish: Laethanta saoire sona
  7. Happy Holidays in Swedish: Trevlig Helg!
  8. Happy Holidays in Portuguese: Boas Festas!
  9. Happy Holidays in Turkish: Mutlu Bayramlar!
  10. Happy Holidays in Romanian: Sarbatori Fericite!
  11. Happy Holidays in Korean: 행복 휴일
  12. Happy Holidays in Slovenian: Vesele Praznike
  13. Happy Holidays in Indonesian: Selamat Hari Raya!
  14. Happy Holidays in Croatian: Sretni praznici!
  15. Happy Holidays in Hungarian: Boldog Ünnepeket
  16. Happy Holidays in Greek: Καλές δικακοπές! (kales diakopes)
  17. Happy Holidays in Danish: Glade feriedage
  18. Happy Holidays in Albanian: Gëzuar Festat
  19. Happy Holidays in Mandarin: Jie Ri Yu Kuai
  20. Happy Holidays in Catalan: Bones Festes!
  21. Happy Holidays in Latin: Felix feriarum
  22. Happy Holidays in Swahili: Furaha likizo
  23. Happy Holidays in Japanese: 幸せな休日
  24. Happy Holidays in Hebrew: חג שמח
  25. Happy Holidays in Italian: Buone Feste!
  26. Happy Holidays in South African (Xhose): Ii holide eximnandi
  27. Happy Holidays in German: Forhe Feiertage
  28. Happy Holidays in Dutch: Prettige feestdagen
  29. Happy Holidays in Hawaiian: Hau’oli Lanui
  30. Happy Holidays in Gaelic: Beannachtaí na Féile

Monday, November 11, 2019

Streetwise Radio Mourns the Passing of Vaughn Benjamin: Voice of Midnite By Shelah Moody

Streetwise Radio Mourns the Passing of Vaughn Benjamin: Voice of Midnite
By Shelah Moody

         Another legend has passed. 
         On Nov. 5, the music industry lost one of its most creative forces, Vaughn Benjamin, the lead voice of Midnite and Akae Beka. 
         Like Michael Jackson and Bernie Mac, Benjamin was another great artist gone at 50.
        At this press time, the cause of Benjamin’s death has not been released.
         He was beautiful, like a Basquiat painting.
         I first experienced the magic of Vaughn Benjamin and Midnite when a local promoter and community activist brought them to the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco. It was 2003, and their sound was like nothing I had ever heard. I will call it transcendent roots reggae. Midnite’s lead singer, Vaugh Benjamin,  chanted and sang songs of the Caribbean Diaspora in a hypnotic, griotic tenor. I remember his brother, Ron Benjamin on keyboards, singing a beautiful song about a baby and the celebration of new life.
       These musicians from St. Croix were mystical.
        In 2003, Midnite had a cult following - literally. At the Bayview Opera House show; I remember seeing a robed man with an entourage of women in long dresses and a shaved head. I would see groups like this at subsequent Midnite shows.
      After the  Bayview show, a group of journalists and fans wanted to hold court with Midnite’s beautiful lead singer. Vaughn Benjamin did not run or hide and he joined us backstage. We sat in a semi-circle listening to Benjamin as he discussed everything from music to quantum physics. Quantum physics. We sat in dialogue with Vaughn Benjamin until the wee hours of the morning, and some point the tape in my cassette recorder ran out.
       In 2011, I encountered Vaughn Benjamin again at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. That closing Sunday, I was physically and emotionally drained from a weekend of camping. I was in the first stages of an anxiety attack and severely dehydrated. My friend and I were resting at a grassy knoll at the Booneville county fairgrounds. 
      Then, our mutual friends Fenton and Cynthia introduced us to Vaughn Benjamin. How long had he been standing there, silent, vibing to the music? The beautiful man with the hypnotic voice who knew quantum physics.
      His handshake was warm, his gaze was wise. He must have read my mind because he offered to take a picture with me. 
    Suddenly, I was calm.

     Stay tuned to Streetwise Radio for more up close and personal reflections and tributes to Vaugh Benjamin.

Akae Beka live at SOBs New York - July 23 2019

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Notes From the Great Stevie Wonder Rebellion By Shelah Moody Chapter One: Living for the City

          On Saturday morning, on my way to work, I got off the Muni at Embarcadero station and passed a heartbreaking scene: a man and his dog sleeping on platform. 

 I transferred to the N train and got off 2nd and King and walked through another SF injustice— a makeshift homeless encampment right at the train stop.

      Across the street at Oracle Park, a massive private concert was set up; it was hosted by corporate giants Genentech, featuring a surprise superstar music headliner. 
          My anxiety kicked in. My office was right next door to Oracle Park.   Yet I was locked out of the biggest event in the city. The concert was exclusively for Genentech employees.
          Welcome to San Francisco 2019, a city of great wealth with a hidden core of great poverty.
       In 2018, I’d left San Francisco for New Orleans, but I was lured back with the promise of a well-paying city job and new civic leadership under a young progressive black female mayor, London Breed. I had indeed remembered SF as a fun and beautiful, the innovative city where you could achieve your dreams if you worked hard.
        But upon my return from New Orleans, people in SF seemed younger, unfriendlier, bigger, stronger and faster than I was. I was paying the highest rent I’d ever paid in my life. (I’d even tweeted this fact to #45 when he said he’d done more for African Americans than any other president, but that’s a different dish).
           After 25 years, I was still a struggling writer in San Francisco, floundering in the house that tech built.
          I constantly questioned my self-worth: afraid to let my rich friends know how little I and afraid to let my poor friends know how much I had.
I’d returned to SF from New Orleans after being offered a permanent job with the City and County of San Francisco. I was a low-level bureaucrat; I made a decent salary which allowed me to scrape by in the most expensive and expansive city in the country.
      Part of my job was selling parking passes and collecting rents and late fees from SF tenants. I still pursued what I was most passionate about: and reporting about music.
      That day, I committed an outrageous act which I call the great Stevie Wonder Rebellion. Giving it an enigmatic name makes being fired and one step away from homeless myself seem less traumatic, don’t you think? 
        In a way, Stevie Wonder freed me from what could have been a lifetime of frustration and unhappiness.
    So, this is what happened. The day of the Great Stevie Wonder Rebellion, one of our tenants with connections walked into our office and offered us access into the private Genentech concert, featuring none other than Stevie Wonder. 
     Stevie Wonder; an artist I had been chasing since I was 17. For the past two decades, there were times when Stevie Wonder was literally at my fingertips, but I’d never gotten to touch the Motown icon or meet him face to face. In 2016, I even sat right behind Stevie Wonder in the pews when I covered Natalie Cole’s funeral in Los Angeles for Streetwise Radio. In 2014, I sat in the VIP section watching Stevie Wonder soundcheck before the Soul Train Music Awards in Las Vegas, but security kept the press away. In 2015, my friend had been offered backstage passes to see Stevie Wonder at his tribute concert in LA, but she chose to have a meal in a trendy restaurant instead.
       Stevie Wonder was again right at my fingertips. Maybe this was a sign.
       My boss agreed to let us leave the office for a while to catch a few songs from Stevie Wonder and come back. 
       So, our connection escorted us inside of the venue; Oracle Park was transformed into a wonderland of perks for Genentech employees: free food, drink, an abundance of snacks, games and live DJs and other entertainment. 
      But five minutes before Stevie Wonder was scheduled to hit the stage, my boss called us back to the office and told us to come back to work. There would be no Stevie Wonder for me, she said. 
       Now, if you saw the movie, “Color Purple,” starring media mogul Oprah Winfrey, you may recall a scene where the mayor’s maid, Sophia, is given the chance to spend Christmas with her family after an eight-year estrangement. The mayor’s wife drops her off and Sophia revels in the joy and love and comfort of her family. But the mayor’s wife cannot drive home by herself, so she orders Sophia away from her family and back into the car after 15 minutes. That’s how I felt.
        So, back in the office, I pleaded with my boss as Stevie Wonder and his band performed the first rifts of “As if You Read My Mind” from one of my all-time favorite albums, “Hotter than July:” 
    “Take a chance on the secret/That you hide beneath your dreams/Use your wildest imagination/You just tell me what it is and I will make it be…”
    I could feel the bass, drums, and synthesizer in my feet. I snapped. My pleading with my boss turned into an argument, and then harsh words. I called her boss and said more harsh words and eventually, I got my way, strolling back into the concert in my sassy red sunglasses. 
       Thanks to my connection, I was able to stand right on the stage and watch one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time perform hits such as “Master Blaster,” “Living for the City,” Higher Ground,” “Overjoyed,” “Signed Sealed Delivered,” “Superstition,” “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” and “You are the Sunshine of My Life” up close and personal. Stevie’s setlist was prophetic, and my

connection grabbed it off a speaker and squirreled it away after the show. I was as scared and elated at the same time. This was my greatest act of rebellion, ever.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Streetwise Radio Touring Musician Spotlight: Scott “Scojo” Johnson By Shelah Moody

Sax player Scott “ScoJo” Johnson is one of the gems I discovered during my stay in New Orleans last year.  Johnson is arguably one of the most studious and hard-working musicians in Crescent City. In one season, I saw Johnson gig with Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazzfest) and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, freelance at the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street and accompany flutist Nikia Russell at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the Ninth Ward. I recently caught up with the cool southern gentleman for a brief talk on music. Check out a clip of ScoJo performing:       

Streetwise Radio:  Where are you from originally, and what drew you to New Orleans?

Johnson: I’m originally from Jackson, MS. I taught marching band for several years after I graduated from college at the University of Southern Mississippi. I only got a chance to gig two times every three months. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with that. I saw an Alan Watts video that was basically asking what you would do for a living if money were not an object. I quit the next day after I saw that video, and moved to New Orleans. I,  along with all of my friends, would visit New Orleans all the time, so I knew what the music scene was like. It seemed like any time of day, seven days a week, there was something great going on as far as music goes. I came here because I felt like I could have a chance to play as little or as much as I wanted to. 

Streetwise Radio: What drew you to the sax and how many instruments do you play?

Johnson: In elementary school, all of the fourth and fifth graders were required to play the recorder. The fingering for the recorder is extremely similar to the saxophone. I auditioned for a performing arts school on the recorder. After I made it into the school, the instrumental instructor started me on saxophone because of the similar fingerings. Clarinet and flute have similar fingers to the sax, so I play those also. I also play the piano/keyboard. 

Streetwise Radio: Music wise, what projects are you working on now?

Johnson: I’m currently working on an endorsement deal with a saxophone company. I can’t name the company until they give me the green light (and this is assuming that I get the endorsement). I’m also writing music again. Ideally, I would like to have an album completed by the fall of 2020. 

Streetwise Radio: Describe your favorite festival experience of all time.

Johnson: I perform with Delfeayo Marsalis’ Uptown Jazz Orchestra. We recently had a performance in Connecticut at the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz. I think that was my favorite festival that I’ve performed at so far. Even the visual ascetics were unreal. To look into the crowd of hundreds of people sitting on the grass having the time of their lives... unbelievable. 

Streetwise Radio: What pop song would you like to redo in jazz?

Johnson: I’ve arranged several pop tunes in the style of jazz. My favorite one that I’ve done is actually a rock tune called  “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. 

Streetwise Radio: So, what do jazz musicians like yourself do when hurricanes hit NOLA?

Johnson: During Hurricane Barry, the shows go on! If the venue is still open, we show up to play!!

Catch Scott “ScoJo” Johnson live on tour with Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, and every Wednesday night with the Orchestra at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro,

Monday, July 29, 2019

A statement regarding the tragic shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

July 29, 2019 (Gilroy, CA): The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association and the entire community of Gilroy are devastated by the shooting yesterday afternoon on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and everyone affected by this horrific event. We are offering any and all resources available to support our community and law enforcement. We ask for your prayers and understanding at this incredibly difficult time.
At a press conference Sunday evening, Brian Bowe, Executive Director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, said, “Gilroy is an amazing, tightly-knit community. We are family. We have had the wonderful opportunity in this community to celebrate our family through our Garlic Festival, and for over four decades that festival has been our annual family reunion. It's such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year's festival,” Bowe told reporters.
Shawn Keck, President of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival, spoke in support of the more than 4,000 volunteers who worked to organize and host the annual festival. “We are heartbroken that senseless violence brought this year’s festival to such a terrible and tragic end. We are truly grateful to the Gilroy Police Department, who responded immediately to prevent further loss of life, and to the hundreds of other first responders from regional and federal agencies who have provided additional support. We are also thankful for the thoughts and prayers and outpouring of support from people all over the world.”
If you are a witness with information about the shooting, please call the witness hotline at 408-846-0583. If you are seeking information about a loved one, please call the reunification hotline at 408-846-0584. A media line has also been established by the Gilroy Police Department at 408-842-0432.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

          It's that time for fun food, music, in Gilroy Ca.