Monthly Archives: August 2009

BLACK HISTORY in the making…VICTORY GRILL – Austin, TX

Our official first stop in Austin was the Victory Grill; a small club/restaurant established in 1945 as part of the chitlin’ circuit.  Turns out legendary artists like B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, and many others swung through this spot on their way to becoming national recording artists.  We had a chance to speak with Clifford Gillard about the Grill’s significant history as a space for Black art/music.

For more about the VICTORY GRILL click here.

Check out the interview below:

Motown had the SWEET, but Stax had the FUNK

We spent only a few hours in Memphis: one night in a Super 8 hotel, and a few hours in the morning.  But, we couldn’t leave town before checking out the historic home of the legendary Stax records.  We stopped for a moment to record our presence at this important black music landmark.

Trust Your Struggle…

3466809624_d7d7a1568d

Last summer, Ghislaine and I were at the end of our rope.  We needed a release valve from the daily grind, pressures and monotony of life in RI, but we were pretty much financially strapped.  I don’t want to say broke, but we were barely squeezing by.  Most of the side gigs and workshops had dried up, and there weren’t many prospects.  Despite this fact, we chose to take a leap of faith trip down to Atlanta to check out some new scenery/vibes.  In the back of our minds were the bills and problems that piled, but in the front of our mind was the possibility of higher ground.  Deep down, we believed that there was something out there waiting for us if we were only ‘brave’ enough to break free from our surroundings.

So, we packed the car and drove.  Then, out of the blue, somewhere about 5-6 hours down the road (in the middle of Pennsylvania), I got a voicemail from CCRI (Community College of RI) about a job opportunity as an English instructor for the fall semester.  Financial problems/worries solved (at least temporarily).  We could now enjoy the entire trip without any concerns about what was waiting for us when we returned.  This incident was the beginning of our affirmation(s) that when you move in faith, good things happen.  We have learned to trust our inner feelings more in life, and we have been rewarded every time. With faith, all things are possible.

During our time in Atlanta, we checked out several spots.  One of the places we went to was called Little 5 Points.  While walking around the area, we passed by an interesting piece of writing on the corner of a wall on a side street of one of the main throughways.  The writing on the wall said, “TRUST YOUR STRUGGLE.”  The writing stopped me in my tracks, and I asked Ghislaine to take a picture next to the wall (see below).

l_177f31e66d88c6b4ee61cad4b33432bf

Fast-forward to today (August 20, 2009).  We arrived in Austin yesterday evening, and our first stop this afternoon was a place called Victory Grill – a historic landmark of the old chitlin’ circuit.  Blues and jazz luminaries such as B.B. King made stops into this place on their way to becoming national recording artists.  In fact, B.B. King played there one night for tips on his way up to Memphis for a show.  Talk about GRINDING!  That’s right y’all!  B.B. King himself played for tips at a small chitlin’ circuit club in Austin!

We ended up hanging out at the Victory Grill for about an hour, speaking with Clifford, the current managar/chef/booking agent/everything-else at the Grill.  During our conversation, Clifford told us about the rich history of the Grill.  He also told us that a group of artists came down from New York City to paint a mural on the outside of the building last summer (the same summer Ghislaine and I traveled to Atlanta).

Guess what the name of the group was?

That’s right…TRUST YOUR STRUGGLE.

It turns out the group is an artists collective that paints murals around the world (the image at the beginning of this post is from Colombia — shout out to Norman Ospina!).  Not sure when they painted those words down in Atlanta, but we felt them for sure.

We no longer believe in coincidences.  Trust your struggle!

LOVe!

jbro

Taking Root…

On our way to Austin today – and honestly throughout our entire journey (since leaving RI) – I have been amazed at the sheer beauty of this country’s landscape.  We live in a stunning place y’all!  Just minutes after leaving every major city, and stretching for hours on end, we see woods, farmland, pastures, groves, rivers, and lakes.  The scenery is refreshing.

Last night, we watched a film about the struggles of Wangari Maathai and the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya.  The film is called Taking Root.  When Wangari was a child, she went to the river to collect water for her mother.  When she bent over to collect the water, she could see tadpoles and frog eggs.  To her young eyes, the eggs looked like jewels that she wished to wear around her neck.  She  grew up with a strong connection to the land because her mother taught her to respect and protect her natural environment.

British colonizaiton meant mass murder of native Kenyans, and the rapid deforestation of their lands.  The rivers and forests that Maathai and others knew as children disappeared as settlers created space for tea and coffee plantations for export.  Land once deemed sacred became grounds for profit.  Colonizers stripped areas so bare that entire rivers dried up: anything for a profit.

Watching the movie made me think of my own connection to the natural environment.  How have we been raised to see the land that we walk on?  Is it scenery?  Or is it sacred?  Our culture(s) should teach us to revere trees, plants, and rivers.  But, for the most part, we do the opposite.  Our relationship with the earth is an afterthought.

I am thinking this morning about the indigenous peoples of this earth, and how far we have traveled from their ancient insights.  Native peoples connection to the land meant security and strength.  Our insecurity as people has a lot to do with our disconnection from the natural world.  I will finish these thoughts later, but I just wanted to put something out real quick…

We arrived safely in Austin after a short stay in Memphis, and a beautiful time in Chicago.  More pics and videos are coming….GOOD NIGHT/MORNING!

And…check this video trailer from the film, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai speaks

So far…

We haven’t been gone that long. Officially, we moved out of our Providence apartment July 1st. It is now August 14. It was almost Friday the 13th. This day stirs up so much pseudo fright. It reminds me of how much things haven’t changed. There has always been pseudo fright, beauty full dancing, art that makes you say WTF!?, corruption, sex, v.i.p. sections, dessert, and someone with answer and a way out. This trip, thus far, has taught me nothing is new under the sun. We love who need, we need who we love, some people live on the surface, some people are sent here to dig deep in hopes others will follow. I am also learning nail polish is just as important to my life as the to-do list I forgot to do. There will always be great people and people you don’t get. Who ever we are, I am glad that we have come so far.

VLOG # 4 – Chicago + Sustainability

Bringing you an update live from the Carter’s basement.

SAVIOUR SELF: behind the scenes

From May 14-23, we premiered  SAVIOUR SELF at Brown University’s RITES AND REASON THEATRE. SAVIOUR SELF was an amazing one-act fusion of spoken-word poetry, hip hop, video installation, theatric performance, and dance that gave audience members a brief glimpse into an autobiographical ‘love story,’ chronicling our journey  from friends to lovers, warrior-artists to artist-warriors.

We were lucky enough to have some of our early rehearsals and activities filmed by recent RISD grad, Aya Pogrebinski.  Aya rececntly posted an edit of some of the video she shot between April and May.  The video below is from our April photo shoot.  ENJOY!