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Friday, March 21, 2008

Bob Dorr And The Blue Band Update

By Bob Dorr

Today I am thinking that an Iowa driver's license is one of the "best buys" on the planet. More on that after the facts for the mammels...

It's the bad news and the good news regarding tomorrow night's (Fri) Iowa Public Radio celebration in Ottumwa. The good news: The IPR-Classical frequency will hit the air Friday morning, Mar. 21, as announced. The bad news: The IPR-Alternative Music frequency (the stream that airs the shows I produce) will not. The good news: it WILL hit the air asap, so The Show Goes On! Long story/short: Some of the extremely technical (knitpicky) requirements of the FCC granted license would not EXACTLY be right, so the IPR lawyers thought (since we've been waiting for this frequency to be granted for nearly 10 years!) that we should have everything EXACTLY right before hitting the airwaves so that this long awaited frequency could not be taken away from us. Good things come to those who wait! Anyway, the Blue Band show will go on and now IPR has decided to tape the show to air it on the first day that the frequency DOES go on! So join us at the Bridge View Center ( in Ottumwa and be on the recording! The event/meet & greet starts at 5:30p, Blue Band plays 7-9p, Uncle Al will join Heath in the horn section and Mr. Phil will be along to fine tune the sound...

Next week, Saturday Mar. 29, join us at the Riverside Casino, south of Iowa City. We play the show lounge 8:30-midnight. We'll also be celebrating Pinkstuff and Mike's anniversary so BRING CAKE!...

We added another 4 dates to the calendar this last week. We've still got ALOT of open Saturdays in April and June. Make me an offer we can't refuse...

I'm just not getting the hang of this My Space thing. What's up with "ranking" your friends? I have a nearly 7 year old E-Mac. It's programs and memory (like it's owner) are failing. It crashes every time I ask to "see all my friends" It no longer even let's me "approve my friends" without giving me grief (kinda like my mom when I was 16) Anyway, bear with me while I try and figure this out...

Mr. Phil and I are scheduled to spend a little time with the New Year's Eve recordings during the next two weeks, expect to hear some of those tunes on that My Space page as well as the Listen To The Band page on our website. It's a GIANT sound: 3 horns, Hammond organ, two (sometimes 3) guitar players, two drummers, harmonica, and lots of voices. The Hotel Fort Des Moines has invited us to do it again this year. Blue Reunion II-NYE 2008!...

OK, the driver's license thing. First, my advice is to NEVER let your driver's license expire. The state of Iowa is EXTREMELY lenient in extending the expiration date (you get the rest of the month of your birthday PLUS the entire next month!) but I still didn't remember (there's that memory thing I was talking about earlier) (what was I talking about?...oh, yeah) So I was cruisin' down Hwy 330 heading to Des Moines last Saturday afternoon for the tent gig at the Twisted Parrot (that was alot of fun wasn't it?) (I always love it when the crowd is young enough that beautiful young women come up to me and say..."you were always my mom's favorite band, she always used to drag us to the State Fair to see you"...) Anyway, while I was driving, I started to think about how long we've kept The Blue Band going and how I wasn't getting any younger and I just had another birthday two months ago and... HOLY SHIT, I wonder if my driver's license is still, the expiration date was Jan. 12, 2008. I was FREAKED!! What if I was stopped because a tail light was out or any of the other reasons you can get pulled over?! Let's see, a band truck, being driven by a guy without a valid license. YIKES! Paranoia strikes deep. But that was just the beginning. I got home without being stopped, but the driver's license station was not open on Sunday. Nor Monday. What if they ask me how I got out there to renew my expired license?! Apparently, being closed for two days in a row makes Tuesday THE BUSIEST DAY FOR LICENSE RENEWAL STATIONS! I had to stand in line in order to find out what line I should be standing in. Then, because my license had expired 17 days beyond the lenient two month extension, I had to take the written test! YIKES! It's been nearly 40 years since I had to take a drivers test! These days it's by touch screen and it gives you a running total of how you're doing. You're allowed to miss seven questions and still pass. I had missed 6 with 9 questions still to go. YIKES!! Fortunately I guessed correctly eight of the last nine times and qualified for the license renewal (whew) That's when I found out what a bargain an Iowa Driver's license is (seriously) You are granted FIVE years of driving privilages as well as having a proof of identy card for $23! Five years of driving for less than $5 A YEAR??!! Cool. So check your license, you don't want to take the test, it was drivin' me crazy!...

I'm doing the Saturday night Backtracks Rock'n'Roll history show live again this week, 7-10p, check in at 800-772-2440, ext. 5, listen anywhere on the planet at

See ya on the Blue Highway (I'll be the licensed driver in the big white truck) I hope yer bunny is good to ya this Easter, Happy Spring (spring has officially been here for nearly 3 hours now) (celebrate by bringing CAKE!) Rub yer washboard, and remember we love you. Bob Dorr & The Blue Band

The Politics Of Music

Here is an interesting article forwarded to me from a friend of the Central Iowa Blues Society. You always here the good talk from city big wigs about the importance of bringing people into town, and having them spend money. The Central Iowa Blues Society has done this for years for the city, but according to this article from Cityview, there seems to be some strange things going on, which may not be helpful to our good friends in Des Moines.

Civic Skinny

While John and Mary Pappajohn may have intended to beautify the Western Gateway Park when they announced in January that they were donating 16 pieces of world-class sculptures valued at $30 million to create a sculpture garden in the downtown park, Skinny hears their philanthropic ways have had some unintended consequences on the local music scene. For starters, the city’s decision to begin construction of the sculpture garden the week after the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition hosts its debut 80/35 music festival the weekend of July 4 has raised eyebrows among insiders in the local music scene who smell nepotism. The non-profit DMMC’s festival not only has the support of the city’s advisory music commission — which convinced the city council to give the DMMC $50,000 for the fest — but it also has the financial backing of several downtown players like BRAVO and the Iowa Arts Council in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in additional grants, and Skinny hears that Park and Recreation officials don’t want to jeopardize the city’s investment in the event by starting construction beforehand. That’s good news if you’re part of the 80/35 event, but bad news if you’re a member of the Central Iowa Blues Society, which had proof that it had reserved the park for its second annual Gateway Blues Festival to be held Labor Day weekend, but was told by one Park and Recreation official — just days before the Pappajohn announcement — that the reservation “had been lost.” The loss of the park and the reservation has forced CIBS to scramble to find another site, Skinny hears, and has put not only the event, but also CIBS — which has helped generate interest and money in downtown for years by hosting festivals there — in financial jeopardy because the group’s annual festival is one of its biggest fundraisers. “We were the first group to make an investment in the park for live music, and now we have to start again,” said a CIBS official. Skinny suspects the group will rally to host an even bigger event this Labor Day, but don’t look for it to be held downtown. Meanwhile, Skinny wonders how much taxpayer money will be wasted to redesign the park, which was originally fitted with power sources so it could host concerts.
Sounds like business as usual for Des Moines. Short term thinking, PO the people who have worked hard for years, or worse take them for granted, and they move away. It sometimes amazes me how anything gets done around here! (hey if its helps any, things work the same way up here too:-)

Blues Soceity News From Illinois Blues

Some Blues Society news from Illinois Blues, and also a plug for the upcoming blues symposium in suburban Chicago this may.

Blues Society News

Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:

Max of 125 words, Text or Word file preferred.

Illinois Central Blues Club Springfield, IL - Blue Mondays

Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover
March 24 - Scott Holt Band, March 31 - Suzy and the Smokers, April 7 - The Blu Tonz, April 14 - Pleasure Chest with Robert Sampson, April 21 - Bryan Lee, April 28 - Kilborn Alley Blues band

Mississippi Action for Community Education - Greenville, MS

31st Annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival - Poster Contest. (MACE) is accepting entries for the poster design for the 31st Annual Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival to be held on September 20, 2008. The theme for this year’s festival is: "Rollin’ Goin’ Home to da Blues".

Winning entry will receive $500 cash. Entry deadline is April 30, 2008. Mail entries to: Mississippi Delta Blues Festival Poster Contest, 119 South Theobald Street, Greenville, MS 38701. Contact William Brown at 662-335-3523 or for more info. Visit , for contest rules and application form.

The Grafton Blues Association - Grafton, WI

The Grafton Blues Association will host it’s annual Blues in the Schools and Scholarship fundraiser with the Legends of Chicago Blues!
Pinetop Perkins - Hubert Sumlin – Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Bob Stroger will take the stage on March 29, 2008 at Circle B Recreation Center in Cedarburg Wisconsin. More information is available on our website

Thursday, May 22 - Saturday, May 24, 2008


Phone: (708) 524-6050

A Symposium on the Legacy of Blues & Gospel Music

Dominican University (located just minutes from the Chicago Loop) hosts the Blues and the Spirit Symposium, emphasizing the heritage of African-American Chicago and exploring the shared roots of Blues and Gospel.

  • Panels and presentations with Timuel Black, Portia Maultsby, Horace Maxile, Paul Garon, Sterling Plumpp, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Barry Dolins, Jim O’Neal, Marie Dixon, Bob Davis, Bob Koester, Fernando Jones, Bob Marovich, David Whiteis, Scott Barretta, Salim Muwakkil, Sandra Pointer-Jones, Suzanne Flandreau, Bob Riesman, Stephanie Shonekan, Morris Phibbs, Bob Jones, Billy Boy Arnold, Stan Mosley and others

  • Blues Workshop with Billy Branch and Gospel Workshop with James Abbington
  • Multimedia Presentations, Raeburn Flerlage Photography and Outsider Art Exhibits
  • Musical Appearances by Larry Taylor, James Wheeler and Bob Stroger
  • Bronzeville Tour with a stop at the Blues Heaven Foundation, located in the former Chess Records
  • Chicago Blues Club Crawl
  • Otis Clay and Sharon Lewis in Concert CLICK HERE to see schedule and registration information

Bob Corritore Newsletter

March 20, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

LB Lenoir: Vietnam Blues

JB was a brave man. Not only did he tackle issues of race in his songs, but he also took on the Viet Nam War. The war was not popular in the African American community due to high percentage of deaths suffered among blacks then the rest of the population. African Americans made up 11% of the population when 15% of the deaths in Viet Nam were black.

JB Lenoir: Alabama Blues

I think this is a fan video, that is taken from the blues series on PBS. This is another great song about conditions in Alabama, before the civil rights era.

JB Lenoir: The Whale Has Swallowed Me

This is from the PBS blues mini series form about five years ago. It captures the world of pre civil rights, and features the haunting music of the great JB Lenoir.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Speech From Youtube

I am not in the mood to post the blues tonight. In fact, I have a bad case of the blues. I have the blues because I have watched, and read endless rants about Barack Obama, and the speech. It bothers me because I still don't think that white America gets it. How is one mans rant a danger to America, or could be the downfall of a presidential candidate? What control do you have over your preacher? Do you leave your church, or your religion? Is this what American has become?? Is it that our cherished ideas of freedom of religion, to believe and worship as you please are no longer true. That you must pass a litmus test, or belong to an acceptable church to be president?? Is that what the founding fathers really wanted??

This is not only about race, but it is also about religion. Our founding fathers would be appalled at the lack of understanding that our people, the press and politicians have about what our nation truly stands for. One of those basic rights is freedom of religion. This idea did not start with us, but was born of the Enlightenment. The great philosophers of the Enlightenment shared one great universal idea, that everyone should have the right to practice or not practice the religion that they pleased. Our founding fathers saw the battles of religion that had torn Europe apart, and how religion and the state worked together to stop change. In the eyes of the founders, One religion (a state sanctioned religion) equaled tyranny, two religions led to civil war, while many religions led to peace. This is what freedom of religion means, that everyone is entitled to believe as they may. Anyone who thinks otherwise, and seeks document from the colonies that predate the founding documents are looking at papers that pushed theocracy, and created the same tyranny that people were escaping from Europe. The other important topic is a litmus test. Mitt Romney, unfortunately found out about litmus tests. Mormonism didn't pass with the Republican party. Of course, there was no actual limitation to Romney, but the press, and his political enemies stirred up so many stories about Romney and his religion that it had a negative effect on his campaign. The reality is that the founders fought the idea of a litmus test. Many people wanted to make sure that only those of a predetermined faith could hold office, but our founders made sure that, that didn't happen. It makes you think, what chance would Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams have of being president today, when neither was a Christian, and both were deist. I would say neither would be in politics, and it would be a great loss to our country.

It is true that the question is also about race. I think I have hit on the topic several times on this blog about what it was like for African Americans in America before the Civil Rights Acts, of the 1960s. It was a world of Segregation, and second class citizenship. They were told where to eat, where to drink, where to go to the bathroom. They were only allowed to live in selected neighborhoods, and in many places, where they had the legal right to vote, their vote didn't count either because of poll taxes, or literacy tests. Some believe that this happened only in the south, but that is not true. In the south they put it on paper, but in the north it still happened, they just didn't make it the law. I wrote a paper about Des Moines Iowa, a place that had a reputation as a great place for African Americans to live in, but it still was segregated. It had red-lined neighborhoods, black schools, and places in downtown Des Moines that had segregated lunch counters like the south. Don't you think if you grew up in that world that you would be bitter too??? As I said in an earlier post, I was not shocked, or angered by what the Rev. Wright said. I know many people of his age that feel that way, and rightly so. ( even the talk about HIV, has a small basis in truth. there was the Tuskegee experiment where African American men were purposely left untreated with late stage syphilis. This went unreported until recent times. I don't believe that HIV has been purposely introduced into the African American community, but you can see why people think it was)

Things have improved, and we have come a long ways in the last 50 years. However, what has happened over the last few days have really turned the clock back. The ill advised, and uneducated comments on TV have made me ill. Perhaps part of the problem is that the reporters are too young to know what life was like back then, but perhaps if they talked to some people who lived in those days they would realize just how embarrassing this is and what fools we look like to the rest of the world, and yes the whole world is watching.

Obama Speach On Race And Politics

I just read Obama's speech, and it really speaks to me about things that I have been thinking about all week. I am ashamed at people who have made an issue about Obama, and his preacher, and his religion. If people understood the history of black America, they might get at least an idea of the kind of life that Reverend Wright had to live under, and perhaps they would understand why he is so bitter. However, the professional pundit class is more interested in braying about how evil, and anti American the Reverend Wright must be, and how that implicates Obama. As someone who has worked, and played in the African American community for many years, I was not surprised or offended by any of the remarks. Mainly because everyone is entitled to their opinion, the last time I checked their was a Bill Of Rights! Also as an historian I can dig up lots of crazy preachers, relatives, and cabinet members of almost every president who said things far worse than what the Reverend Wright said, but I think you have to ask yourself just what purpose does it serve for all of the talk radio and the television pundits to be hammering Obama on this topic. They are just serving up more racial hatred that is not going to heal our country. They are only interested in two things, gotcha politics, and the Republican false hope that Hilliary is easier to beat than Obama in the fall. I only hope that this blows up in there face, and end this petty hate once and for all.

10:17:53 ETPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
**VIDEO** “We
the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” Two hundred and twenty one
years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men
gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment
in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled
across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their
declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the
spring of 1787. The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately
unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question
that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the
founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more
years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. Of course, the
answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a
Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the
law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union
that could be and should be perfected over time. And yet words on a parchment
would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of
every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the
United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who
were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets
and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at
great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the
reality of their time.This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of
this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march
for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.
I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe
deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them
together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have
different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and
we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same
direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren. This
belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the
American people. But it also comes from my own American story. I am the son of a
black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help
of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army
during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line
at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools
in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a
black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an
inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters,
nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered
across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in
no other country on Earth is my story even possible. It’s a story that hasn’t
made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into
my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts –
that out of many, we are truly one. Throughout the first year of this campaign,
against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people
were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy
through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of
the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate
Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white
Americans. This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign.
At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too
black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface
during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every
exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of
white and black, but black and brown as well. And yet, it has only been in the
last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a
particularly divisive turn. On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the
implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that
it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial
reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor,
Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the
potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the
greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black
alike. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of
Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions
remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic
and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be
considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree
with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have
heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly
disagreed. But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply
controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out
against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view
of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates
what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view
that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of
stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful
ideologies of radical Islam. As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only
wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a
time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two
wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and
potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white
or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all. Given my
background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt
be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate
myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join
another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were
the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television
and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures
being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much
the same way But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I
met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian
faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care
for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S.
Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and
seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that
serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the
homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships
and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.In my
first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first
service at Trinity: “People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap
and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the
rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot
of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the
stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath,
Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry
bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my
story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this
black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story
of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and
triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in
chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim
memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might
study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.” That has been my
experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the
country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and
the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black
churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy
humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem
jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and
cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and
successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black
experience in America. And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with
Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He
strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once
in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in
derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but
courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and
the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years. I
can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more
disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a
woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she
loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black
men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has
uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.These people are a part
of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love. Some will see
this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I
can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move
on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can
dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed
Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some
deep-seated racial bias. But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot
afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend
Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype
and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality. The fact is that
the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last
few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never
really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if
we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will
never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or
education, or the need to find good jobs for every American. Understanding this
reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner
once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do
not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we
do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the
African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed
on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery
and Jim Crow.Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still
haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the
inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive
achievement gap between today’s black and white students.Legalized
discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from
owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners,
or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from
unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families
could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That
history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the
concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and
rural communities.A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame
and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family,
contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies
for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many
urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat,
regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a
cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us. This is the
reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation
grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when
segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically
constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of
discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many
were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after
them.But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the
American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately
defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was
passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women
who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without
hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it,
questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental
ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of
humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the
bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front
of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop
or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians,
to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own
failings.And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the
pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that
anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism
that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That
anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention
from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity
in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the
alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is
powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its
roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between
the races.In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white
community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they
have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the
immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them
anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives,
many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after
a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams
slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity
comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So
when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear
that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot
in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed;
when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are
somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time. Like the anger within the black
community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they
have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over
welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians
routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts
and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of
racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and
inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.Just as black anger
often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted
attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate
culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and
short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests;
economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the
resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist,
without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens
the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding. This is where we are
right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to
the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as
to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election
cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my
own. But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in
God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move
beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we
are to continue on the path of a more perfect union. For the African-American
community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming
victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice
in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular
grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to
the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break
the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to
feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by
demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and
reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and
discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or
cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own
destiny.Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative –
notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But
what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a
program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change. The
profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism
in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no
progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible
for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a
coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old --
is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have
seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we
have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and
must achieve tomorrow.In the white community, the path to a more perfect union
means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just
exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and
current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are
real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing
in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and
ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation
with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It
requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the
expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of
black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than
what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would
have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us
be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one
another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. For we have a choice
in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict,
and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial –
or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder
for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel,
every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only
question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I
somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on
some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card,
or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the
general election regardless of his policies. We can do that.But if we do, I can
tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other
distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will
change. That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come
together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling
schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and
Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we
want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that
those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of
America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall
behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time. This time we want to talk about
how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and
Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to
overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do
it together. This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once
provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale
that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of
life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that
someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation
you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit. This time we
want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve
together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We
want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been
authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll
show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the
benefits they have earned. I would not be running for President if I didn’t
believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want
for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after
generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find
myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the
most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs
and openness to change have already made history in this election. There is one
story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told
when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home
church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta. There is a young, twenty-three year old
white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South
Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community
since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable
discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were
there. And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer.
And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health
care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she
had to do something to help her mom.She knew that food was one of their most
expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked
and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish
sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat. She did this for a year
until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the
reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other
children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.Now Ashley
might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that
the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy
to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she
didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.Anyway, Ashley
finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why
they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons.
Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man
who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s
there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or
the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was
there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am
here because of Ashley.” “I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single
moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is
not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the
jobless, or education to our children. But it is where we start. It is where our
union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the
course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed
that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photo Of The Week: A Silvertone Amp

Yup, here is Erick Hovey's amazing Silvertone Amplifier!!! Sears for years made, or actually hired other companies to make musical instruments that they could sell to the public. These instruments were cheaper than what you could buy in music stores, but they didn't sound cheap. Most people are aware of the Silvertone guitar, but that was not the only thing made by or for Sears. Incredibly they made a guitar case that doubled as an amplifier. Erick loves these guitar case amps so much he has two, and uses both of them at live gigs. They are not loud so he has to mike them up to the PA, but they have a great sound.


Since this post is so popular I have added some more pics of Erick's amplifier HERE. Enjoy!

Artisit Of The Week: Mike Bloomfield

The artist of the week is Mike Bloomfield, one of a handful of white blues artists from Chicago who instead of copying their heroes by listening to the records, but actually went to the southside of Chicago and learned from the masters themselves. Bloomfield was an excellent guitar player that exposed blues to a new audience, and was a great ambassador of the blues during his short lifetime. He died of a drug overdose at the age of 37. To see his videos check out the youtube video box on the right side of the blog.

Deep Blues Festival

This just came in through email.

The early advance sale is ending March 31st.  Act now to get your $45 three day pass.
Advance tickets will go up to $75 until the fest and then they are $90.
Tickets are limited and daily tickets will not be available if we sell out
the capacity in three day passes.

If you really want to support this event, sponsorship opportunities begin
at $100 and include a festival pass, a 2007 festival shirt (as supplies last)
and reserved seating at the film festival.

Friday through Sunday July 18-20th
45 bands
films all weekend