A3C Review: Part I

On a weekend at the beginning of October, I found myself in Atlanta for the A3C Music Festival & Conference. I had just flown back in town at 5:00pm that evening from filming a music video on the west coast. On the way home from the airport I grabbed some much needed (and missed) Velvet Taco, went home, unpacked most of my bag, repacked some fresh clothes, then jumped in a car with Rajesh and Joe and embarked on a 12-hour drive to Atlanta in the middle of the night.

Our A3C review is in three parts for a reason - this part of the story comes first because it features the person who made all this possible, Rajesh aka Raj the Rapper. Raj, is a lighthearted soul who helps run a non-profit, The Houston Diaper Bank (which supplies social service agencies with diapers), he also teaches meditation, and is a rapper. I met Raj and his manager Joe a few years back at a music function. I remember meeting him more than I remember the show itself, which is certainly the effect he can have on people he interacts with for the first time. About six months ago, I ran into him again at iMix Studios for a networking mixer. Reconnecting took a second because all of us looked so different from when we had all met (haircuts/hairgrowth/weigh-gain/loss, etc.) We got to talking and Raj invited me to the A3C Festival in Atlanta. I told him, "I'm there" and the rest is history.

The energy enveloped in one week in Atlanta was mind-blowing to say the least as the other parts of the story will tell. This video was shot one late night at 5:00am in our hotel parking-lot and is the essence of pure early-morning-hour artistic creativity. I found some lights and puddles that looked interesting and suggested a good angle to Raj. He flipped through his phone, found a free-styled track that he had no video for and we "one-shot it" real quick.

ALWAYS give in to your creative urges!

The Summer's Freshest Festival

This summer on a warm evening in June, I found myself at Last Concert Cafe for FreshDark Fest. Having heard about it from friends who were performing as well seeing flyers tucked away in every nook and cranny around town, it looked to be a new flavor in the burgeoning local festival scene. Fusing electronica, soul, jazz, and classic hip-hop the lineup included local acts as well as several out-of-towners. Along with the well-curated lineup DJ Elevated and DJ Anarchy spun between sets keeping the vibe alive all night long. The event also featured live art, local vendors, crafts, and baked goods.

Local music-collective Milky Wayv (pictured in art below) stood out with their energy and eclectic sound. Watching this group of young talent rise up in the city has been exciting to watch. Their performance was the best I've seen to date and proved that unified talent blows minds. Definitely be on the lookout for them as they host events around town and relentlessly release online content.

An other act that blew my mind with their sultry soul meets hip-hop vibe was Oshun. Their beautiful melodies blended with impeccable flows make you envision what it would be like to witness a Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu duo-supergroup. With their homegrown Brooklyn roots-style sound, these ladies will see many bright things in their future as they continue to inspire, teach, and heal through their music. Intellectual, soulful, stylistic, harmonious, pure - one love.

Capping off the night was Shafiq Husayn of famed Sa-Ra Creative Partners. He performed some ill new content along with a few of Sa-Ra's hits. His eclectic taste and futuristic sound made it easy to see why he headlined a festival built around cultural progression.

FreshDark Fest won our vote for the freshest festival of the summer. Can't wait to see what they cook up next year!

 

all images ©The Eternal Artist (T.E.A.) 2015

Best Show from Local Houston Acts in 2014

HOUSTON, TX - On December 13th, 2014 Dpat joined Fat Tony, The New Mercies, Josiah Gabriel and Guilla as they descended upon Walter's for what turned out to be an incredible show. One that after seeing, made me so happy for everything that has been culminating in the underground of our city for the last few years. Surprisingly, I hadn't been to Walter's since when it was on Washington. Those were the days! Back when Fat Cat's was across the street and underground progressive acts like The Blood Brothers and Botch would come through. The old Washington had that 50% chance of your car getting broken into, fist fights in the street, bikers, punks, hippies, goths, and teenagers - lots of them. We were everywhere. Local acts like The JonBenet, The Kidnap Soundtrack, Highwater Waltz, Listen Listen, The Last Starfighter, and even Dpat's drummer, Jordan Brady's old band The Finalist.

Houston has come a long way since then. The scene has changed - it's shifted into something else which should be the case if you are progressing the art in your city. I am sure some of us have long lists of pro's and con's when it comes to this discussion, but I think the important thing to focus on is that everything is more recognized on a worldwide stage than it used to be. When I say this, I'm looking at it from a "highest concentration" point of view. There is obvious a deep, rich artistic legacy that stems deep into the heart of this city - from Lighting Hopkins and Jandek to Johnny "Guitar" Watson, to Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt and of course ZZ Top. Houston's musical past runs deep with talent. In the late eighties/early nineties The Geto Boys and DJ Premier helped establish Houston as a viable source for great hip-hop. Scarface and UGK helped carry the torch and both have left a deeply ingrained legacy which carries on today. Beyonce has solidified herself as the world's number one diva. Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Kirko Bangz, are all household names. So what does all this mean? 

Now that I broke down our city's musical history in a paragraph, let's talk about the side of the city that's a little more hidden. You know... the side of Houston that remains relatively underground to most residents yet leaks out across the globe unannounced. The up-welling of this has been acts like The Suffers, Fat Tony, and The Ton Tons which are all based in the downtown area. I'm glad you're asking yourself, "Why did he just say 'downtown area'?" Houston is the largest city in the country with no zoning laws - meaning industrial, commercial, and residential are all stacked on top of one another. This effects our locale by breaking everything up into pockets, where the same interest might be found in three entirely different areas of town. Because of this fact, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs. Every once in a while, you will find something leaking out from the underground, but from a disconnected "pocket". Enter Travis Scott and Dpat. Both of these artists have achieved a good amount for someone their age. Travis Scott is signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle as a producer and separately signed to Kayne's G.O.O.D. Music as an artist. Dpat slipped by almost unnoticed with his 2014 Grammy nominated production; Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You" featuring The Weeknd. His collaborating with Soulection artist Sango, saw him eventually joining their Los Angeles based roster.

So I bet you're thinking, "...a musical article with all this mention of local Houston music history and no mention of DJ Screw!?". Got to save the best for last! So as we can all undoubtedly agree, the biggest influence on Houston culture in the passed decade, and a man who produced a sound that has leaked into international music, is none other than Robert Earl Davis - DJ Screw. May he rest in peace. His legacy and sound has been carried on by Michael Watts, OG Ron C, Z-RO and the rest of the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.). Travis Scott and Dpat, who are undoubtedly Houston's hidden gems, can both be heard with tinges of Screw's influence leaking out of their pores into your ears. That syrupy, downtempo, dark hip-hop sound that is the birth and roots of the Modern Psychedelic Movement.

It is with great joy that I post the video below. Dpat's sounds represents everything about where Houston is headed. I wanted to inject a little psychedelic Houston-vibe into the production of this live video. Being a child of progressive-minded hippie parents, it gives me great joy to be part of the revival of the energy that my parents and so many more brought to life in the sixties. An energy that stems from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix all the way to the present day - DJ Screw. Yes, that is correct - DJ Screw. Screw was The King of Psychedelic Rap. I am laying claim to the birth of this title! I'm seriously serious for real and here's why. One day while cruising through the city bangin' Screw and Point Blank's "My Mind Went Blank" with S.U.C. producer Jhiame Bradshaw, I told him my epiphany of the title and he said, "You know Trev... I've never heard anyone say that before, but YOU RIGHT!". Robert Earl Davis is by far the biggest influence on the Houston sound. 

The craziest thing about this city, is that no matter how well you think you know it, it always has something up it's sleeve.


There's a new media source in town.

Based on Urban Circus' long history of connecting people and resources, we are stepping into a new realm by bringing you a media source centered around exposure of creativity that is seldom seen or heard. Rooting itself in Houston's East End since 2009, Urban Circus, is an active participant and creator of local culture. We understand the need for our city's creatives and other creatives globally, to have outlets of exposure.

We are proud to announce that, Urban Circus, will be providing media support for Houston Arts Alliance's Transported + Renewed project taking place in the East End from September 1st, through November 30th. Transported + Renewed will be a three month long event series curated around the culture of the neighborhood. The events will feature performers from all over Latin America, as well as local artists and musicians. The series will encompass other festivals and events such as the East End Street Fest, Buffalo Bayou Shrimp Festival, and the East End Bicycle Opera which is an interactive biking event where GPS coordinates of riders create a musical experience, manipulating tones as they pedal faster and turn in different directions.


For more information on the Transported + Renewed project click here.