David Engelhard Senior Jazz Recital Reviewed

I had no preconceived notions that might steer me to like David Engelhard’s Senior Jazz Recital at the Highland Inn Ballroom on March 29th. Though my girlfriend knew David from her past associations in the local music scene in Atlanta, I’d never met him.

Jordan is a mentor to David and filled the second set with smooth sax notes while David took to the keys. Tightly orchestrated and well played by a sax, keys, stand up bass, guitar, and rotation of two silly-good Jazz drummers, what a set. A graduate of Georgia State’s stellar music program, David’s first set was powered by his excellent sax playing, to an assortment of accompaniment. Very nice.

The aforementioned set two was solid Jazz until it ended with the PIXIES’ tune,”Where is my mind” and Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” Two haunting and memorable rock songs, they translated perfectly to classic extended play.

That set one was Jazz, in layers, smooth assorted layers of thoughtful Jazz including Coltrane.

The show was entertaining and packed with class musicianship, in a great venue where I once fell in love. So overall, I give it a huge thumbs up! Great Job and Congratulations to David as he embarks upon professional life after college.

World’s Longest Oyster Po-Boy

Marietta-native and chef, Rob Vance of La Bayou restaurant, worked with many others to build the World’s Longest Oyster Po-Boy on March 27th in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOLA is home to the aptly-named New Orleans Oyster Fest, after all.  The 340-foot sub extended down Bourbon Street in yet another indication of the strong culture of New Orleans, the South … and America as a whole

When staying in NOLA, I highly recommend Hotel Monteleone for its location and ambient charm, Brennan’s for the best breakfast, and Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for the strongest fresh Hurricanes. Jean Lafitte’s is the oldest bar in the USA (1772) and one of the few bars older than my alma mater, the University of Georgia (1785).

Experience Hendrix

Channelling Jimi Hendrix: the legendary Robert Randolph on slide; Joe Satriani backed by Living Colour; members of Aerosmith & Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band & The Jimi Hendrix Experience; and a cast of music veteran others. The setting was the Fabulous Fox on Peachtree Street in the sparkling capital of the New South, and the stars on the Fox’s ceiling were twinkling and shooting. Buckshot was lovely in purple with her cream skin and dark mane. One of her prettiest nights – and she is always pretty.

First, a perfect snack of margherita pizza at Baraonda was procured barely before the show. Myers Dark Rum and pineapple was the early evening’s beverage of choice. We also had a swell concoction I called for, of Pama, Goose Orange, and pineapple, splash of soda – that was at the Fox’s little martini bar. After it was Apres Diem for chocolate mouse, late coffee, dance beats, hip art and a sexy vibe. I wore all Ben Sherman, black and brown with pink and white stripes. It was another great night out in The ATL.

The music: Could they match Jimi? No, he is the greatest guitar player of all-time and an underrated songwriter who constantly innovated and pushed boundaries, until he was gone too soon at age 27, after choking on his own vomit while drugged on barbiturates. But they were all talented and inspired to bring their best show in his honor.

Hendrix played space music, blues, radio songs, love songs, psychedelic noise – he did it all. An afro-domed man of Jimi’s height danced in a Jimi shirt as he strutted the wide aisle from one end of the building to the other.

And it was nostalgic – helping me remember my old friends from Marietta, like the groovy Jeff Edens (RIP). At one point in high school, I had a room that was covered strictly in psychedelic Jimi Hendrix and iconic Jim Morrison pictures. Gone but not forgotten, these great American rock-and-roll Vincent Van Goghs or James Deans.

Marco’s Pita is Everfresh

Down on Ponce across from a tattoo shop and liquor store, surrounded by dive bars and underground clubs, coexists a solid and well-established family business run by some cool Detroit dudes. Proprietor Marco has locally-famous charisma and healthy food. The sign inside says: “Everfresh Is What It Is.” TRUE.

Falafel that doesn’t make you feel awful. Gyros to go. Scintillating salads. Perfect pitas – especially the surprisingly-fresh seafood pita. A protein-packed ground turkey burrito. A salmon burger. Lasagna. Cool art. Great location. Friendly folks. One America.

I Believe in the Lord

Last time I performed spoken word at JAVA LORDS in L5P, I found $11 on the ground directly after I read. My 3 short poems that night were about my beloved ATL – Atlanta, Georgia, the capital of the new, always most lyrically and poetically romantic and true South. That glorious green South of America that real artists across the world have always recognized for what it is: ALIVE! The ATL is easily the best place in the whole wide world to live, for me.

Tonight, I read again to a room full of mostly musicians and music fans, and this time I really pushed the envelope: In the supposedly unlucky 13 slot, I read 6 poems and took up my full maximum 15 minutes. I read new edge-art poetry, poetry about the personal failure and pain of getting divorced, poetry about my friend’s dad passing and poetry about my dad passing, and I ended back on that real, raw art edge. I felt great after I ripped my heart out on stage y’all, and the blood and tears ran. The small audience visibly cried with me. After, the host said he never saw anyone pour their heart out on stage like that and bought me a top shelf drink.

I cried alone and for real at the bar counter, sipping that adult beverage and missing Daddy. I glanced down, and in the same exact spot I’d seen the $11 – I saw a $50. I picked it up with my foot, then hand, as I’d done the first find. Oh my God.

Some of it went to a great singer I met, for her CDs. Before I performed, I’d just heard her sing that “Love is the most important thing.” So right – she deserved it.  More of it went in the tip jar … and I Believe in GOD by far. Bless you all my family, friends, fans. Starting today may you too begin again: Make life special as only you can. Don’t be afraid to be free, like me. Reach for the stars and be all that God has blessed y’all to be.

(Photo by: Han Vance)

A flower for my father’s grave

I See Him (C) 2009 HV:

In that hospice room

Preparing for heaven

With slow familial good-byes

To the last woman he ever loved

To his progeny: children and grandchildren

An ex-wife and old friend whom had mothered his kids

I still see his frail body as he slept below me

I prayed over him, read scripture over him

Found solace in the face he had given me

That face I’d seen for so many years

Gaunt and too fair, yet oh so him

He rested in peace and awakened blissful

Unabashed, unshackled in joy

He smiled at his boy

First with those heart-piercing eyes

Then the silver-tongued mouth

He’d taught me so much

Told me no lies

He prepared to die

He’d even chosen his path

Out the window

The sky to Wesley Woods

And the infinite rest

Fair father, you were the best

Best dad I ever had

All misgivings forgiven

So I openly asked you

How do you like those woods?

Gorgeous said you, old man

Simply gorgeous, son

More Fame Ass than BOB

Back when I was in school in ATHENS, GA, we used to listen to this heavy art rock band named BOB – not the same as the current ATL rapper but same city of origin, same name. My buddy Rob Vance – not a relative but same hometown, same drunken college town, same last name – found a BOB record – RECORD, not tape or CD – at a yard sale and bought it because he liked the cover art. I love free writing like blogging because – unlike a book – I can quickly go way off into tangential writing – like this – without concern. Anyway, we formed a small unofficial BOB fan club amongst our group of close friends; our universal favorite was called “Pope is…”  That song is better than anything on rock or college radio today.

We road-tripped to ATL to see BOB play on Memorial Drive with several other local bands. Maybe a year later, BOB played in Athens at the famous 40watt club and came out to a small but overly-enthusiastic crowd … of us. We knew every word and riff to every song; we danced and swayed and rocked out hard, and they loved us. They were like, “Holy shit, fans.” For that one night, amongst our small cool group, they were stars – HUGE STARS playing rock music in an American headquarters of alternative rock music. Lead singer dude had this written on the back of his pants: “FAME ASS.” He never made it … but I will.

Guitar sensation, near-infamous tabloid media darling and world famous pop star, John Mayer certainly did. In Philips Arena the other night, he said he dreamed of selling out Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, then he dreamed of selling out Variety Playhouse in L5P. Philips Arena was sold out, beyond his wildest dreams of stardom.

I never exactly plan to sell out Philips Arena like Kobe Bryant does when he comes to town. But I will: have a best-selling book like F. Scott Fitzgerald did, speak to a full audience at the Cobb Energy Center as David Sedaris did. That’s right, fans and friends, your good dude Han Vance will someday be way more Fame Ass than BOB. I have no second thoughts about saying it aloud, because I have more talent than most, and much more importantly, I won’t ever stop until I get there, and when I do, I will say I told you so …. SAY IT AND DO IT!

Can You Cey Hip-Hop Art

My Buckshot and I caught industry pioneer Cey Adams and former DEF JAM promoter Bill Adler’s talk on the expansive world of hip-hop art, design and fashion at Young Blood Gallery & Boutique, in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of The ATL on friday evening. I scooped up a signed version of their wonderful, colorful new book on the now thirty-five year old movement: DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop. The art in the book just pops off the page, and I highly recommend buying a copy.

I found Cey to be an engaging alternative hero. From his grassroots history as an NYC graffiti artist in Queens, to his friendship with the once-raucous Beastie Boys. From his humorous business dealings with the ridiculously pretentious and driven Sean “Puffy” Combs, to his sense of marvel at the solid work of his peers. From his pride of personal accomplishment in creating a perfect Adidas track jacket, to his real love of what happened as the movement gained momentum in New York and gradually America as a whole. Over the years, hip-hop has culturally captivated the attention of the entire world in ways both surprisingly subtle and oh so obvious.

It was interesting to be getting an education from old school New York hip-hop industry vets in the current world capital of rap: THE ATL. Unfortunate that I found Mr. Adler’s delivery a bit too pompous in tone to add much easily-ingested enlightenment, but he did have a unique take on why Queens was actually the borough of The City where the bulk of creative activity took place: It was more suburban than Manhattan and Brooklyn – and in some ways more openminded because it was less full of ghetto struggle. That was not received well at all from several Brooklynites in the audience, but it was a curious and possibly true take on how and why the scene materialized where it did. The pulsing urban energy of NYC-Manhattan, NYC-Bronx, NYC-Brooklyn, mixed with the relative peace of mind that bred creativity and collectivity in NYC-Queens, where so many of the great performers lived.

Often overlooked fact that some of the more influential people in the explosion of hip-hop and its art were white folks working in predominantly black mediums. Some examples: Rick Rubin (Mega Producer), Keith Haring (Artist), the Beastie Boys (Rap Stars). Though an undeniably black creation of life expression – an African-American art form – the fusion of black urban and often white suburban energies is, to my mind, what pushed hip-hop into the stratosphere of unparalleled commercial popularity it realized.

Hip-hop and its cottage industries demonstrate the cultural power of AMERICA. Hip-hop is modern musical poetry and an all-American art movement. At its worst, it is just crappy noise, but at its best, it is musical art of top form.

Seven Atlanta Favorites:

1. Deepdene Park – The last of the Olmstead Linear Parks to be finished, it offers a duality of coin to the other parks in this chain, which are pastoral in park type and on the opposite side of Ponce de Leon Avenue. Deepdene is walking through the woods, and in the Deep South of The ATL that is a truly gorgeous thing. Frederick Law Olmstead designed Central Park in NYC and Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Olmstead Linear Parks was incomplete at the time of Frederick’s passing. However, his descendants and strong neighborhood and community support ensured that the task saw completion. This is what an Atlanta park can be at its best.

2. Flux (in Castleberry Hill) – Rock out to this most important of all ATL art neighborhoods, all done up in light, for one night per year. Previously entitled Le Flash, Jami and I vow not to miss this annual event.

3. HAWKS games – See and be seen amongst the Atlanta elite in the floor seats; catch a drink at the Absolut bar and Headliners. Then watch 6th-man-of-the-year-Jamal Crawford score at will off the bench, Joe Johnson be unstoppable on offense, Josh Smith (“J-Smoove”) soar and dunk and swat, Marvin for “3” and steady vet Mike Bibby running the floor. Throw in a Za Za for good measure – he is from the country of Georgia and also owns wine and food spot Eno (Midtown on Peachtree Street), now called Eno by Za Za. The Playoffs Are Coming. Take MARTA directly to the arena, 2nd stop on the westbound trains from Five Point’s Station. My girl is into it too.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL – From watching the SEC Championship Game live to sitting at home and watching on our TV sets, Atlanta is the undeniable world headquarters of American College Football and a short drive to ATHENS, home of the Georgia Dawgs and my alma mater, UGA, the oldest public college in the USA. My fellow alum girlfriend is really getting into it.

5. FOOD – Atlanta has become a major foodie restaurant scene – and I love to eat out, with my girl, of course.

6. LongBoarding Freedom Trail – Thank you, President Carter and MLK Jr. – You built this road and trail with your words. When I’m flying free on the trail, I feel so alive and awake and in love with life in Atlanta, y’all.

7. Pub Crawls on Ponce – See my boy Ed at El Bar for a shake-shake-shake after a few pops at Righteous Room, maybe a grilled cheese with sprouts and a side for $5 at the Righteous and a PBR with lime or mixed adult beverage while I play Joy division on the jukebox. After El Bar gets too crowded to dance, The Local and Bookhouse Pub can both be good hangs. Friends is probably the best gay hangout for straight people to gain education via jukeboxation. MJQ is still a great Wednesday dance spot for the best DJs. Dugans has great wings if you want them. And the Clermont Lounge is still open, although they finally closed the Clermont Hotel itself to the public. Still hungry as I walk home after maybe skipping those wings? The Majestic has been open 24-hours a day since 1929.

(Photo by: Han Vance)

Four Selected Poems

1. Talked to Alexander / 2. Things Fall / 3. Now That I’m… / 4. City Shine

1. “Talked to Alexander:”

Fossil fuel dreams until the tears come

And you half-cry, collapsing on your arms

His dad has a whole in the side of his throat

And the other side of the hospital

A child is born, his second, second boy

My father too with it; diagnosis?

Worse than they thought…more

And a strain of it so severe that

Even a few cells can mean re-surfacing

A year or five years down the road

2. “Things Fall:”

This is the time of year that you have waited for, and now it is here. Thousands of shades of green, at least thousands, and yellows, and greens that are becoming yellow. A few leaves have fallen, but it is still early in the fall, no real hint of the barrenness of winter to come. Winter seems so far away. Summer – with its oppressive heat and its thick Deep South humidity – seems so far away.

The clouds of white with hints of gray are painted on a true blue dream of a sky. They are moving with the breeze, very breezy in gusts. The sound of those first leaves tumbling across the street, blowing on the trees, falling off through the air.

“Lucky,” I say to the birds flying by. That first sign of red and orange on the big trees, such bucolic beauty, this suburb, if you ignore the car sounds and houses – McMansions, mixed in with older brick homes.

“Clunk.” My neighbor’s portable b-ball goal just blew over. Hard to ignore that.

Even that was on theme, I guess, the theme being things fall.

3. “Now That I’m…”:

Now that I’m an artist

That explains a lot

No wonder I stared like that

No wonder I listened too hard

No wonder I had to be you

No wonder I had to change

I had to try you on

You did not fit maybe

But I remember what the dress felt like

Everyone, almost

Almost every social level

I walked there

It’s disgusting

It’s insane

It’s like Jesus

It’s like, and I was black, almost

I have been infantile and upwardly mobile

I have never been you, thank God

But we have probably rubbed shoulders

I was compelled to walk in many shoes

So confused

So curious and I stared like that

And I listened too hard

And for what?

So I could, someday, write about it all

Now that I’m an artist, that finally makes sense

4. “City Shine:”

Glimmer Shimmer

Glimmer Shimmer

City Shine

Shine Clean My Mind

Glimmer Shimmer

Glimmer Shimmer

City Shine

Shine Clean My Mind

This Street Sweeper

This Street Walker

Sounds Of The Sights

Of My City-Talker

Disarmingly Smashing

Like Billy’s Pumpkins

And Other Fall Traditions

As Full Of Life’s Rich Pageant

As Classic City Gameday

In Red And Black

My Heart Was Bruised And Blue

Then I Re-met You

I Remit To You

To You, My Lord

To You, My Lord

And You Placed Me Here

In The Heart Of

One Of The Greatest Cities

In The World

You Placed Me

In The South – My Home

You Placed Me

In Georgia – My Home

You Placed Me In The ATL

And This Is For My City

I Speak For Her

A Bad Girl Gone Good

City Shine

Like New York, Only New

Glimmer Shimmer

Y’all, My City Shines

Glimmer Shimmer My Mind