Recent Posts, Blogs & Articles

Links To My Other Websites

Unity Bluegrass

This website predates African Bluegrass (in fact African Bluegrass began as a Tab on Unity Bluegrass).  It came about after my house flooded and I found a packet of information given to me by fellow bandmate David Neidig telling the history of the band we were both members of.  In it you will find pictures, short (out of date) biographies of those who were members when I was a part of the band, other memoribilia and RECORDINGS of the band.

Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

This was one of my first websites I ever hosted.  I am a Bahá'í and I have dedicated this website to my Faith as a service to those in my area.  In it you will find blogs, articles, videos, photos and an event calendar of local activities.

New Jim Crow Watch

The subject matter of this website is that of the New Jim Crow which is the mass incarceration of people of color and the system which unfairly prosecutes and targets minorities so they can be discriminated against legally.

Proviso East Class of 1972

This website was for my 40th High School Class Reunion back in 2012 (I do HATE thinking in those terms).  I now use it to share bits of trivia and memoribilia from that time.  

Blog 24 x 7

This is the website where I get to rant and rave about other things I have a passion for (besides African Bluegrass)

Drupal Guy Blog

For these websites I use a CMS framework called Drupal.  It is open source and is supported by thousands of volunteers.  Since being laid-off in March, 2014 I have been immersing myself in Drupal working towards making a career of it.  This website is my ongoing story as I work towards becoming a full time Drupaler.

 
 

Jimmy Collier

Jimmy Collier stands out in a crowd with his trademark cowboy hat.  But it's the sound of the tall, sturdy troubadour's music that has magnetized listeners across the land.  Today with the technological ease of CD recording and internet communication, Collier can bring his music to fans without leaving his ranch in rural Mariposa.  That wasn't always the case.
 
For many years Collier went on the road to favor audiences across America and Canada with his smile, his irrepressible sense of humor, and his music.  In his heyday, he opened for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., appearing on Sesame Street and played Carnegie Hall.
 
Born in Fort Smith, Ark., Collier was raised by his grandparents, both of whom loved music.  He remembers his grandmother playing the piano on Sundays with all of his relatives gathered around and singing their hearts out.  His grandfather even created his own musical instruments and played nearly anything.  "I grew up with a lot of instruments around, and music."  
 
 

Yee Haw! The Rise of Black Country

 
Thanks to Darius Rucker, Rissi Palmer and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, black folks are finally rediscovering their country roots.
 
There’s long been an assumption that black folks and country music just don’t mix—even though that assumption completely erases from history the music and success of Charley Pride, Ray Charles and even the Pointer Sisters: To many blacks, country music is seen as synonymous with rednecks and white supremacists, its incongruity with pigmented people, relegating it to little more than a bad punch line in pop culture. (Cue Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac stranded at a country juke joint in Soul Men! Two brothers singing country and dancing the two-step! Hilarity ensues.) 
For far too long if you loved country, and you had, what Pride called a “pigmentation situation,” chances are, you kept that love on the down low.
 
Now, it seems, it may finally be OK to come out of the closet.
Oprah recently dedicated an entire show to country music, declaring, “Country music is the real soul music!” Sitting next to her was Darius Rucker, of Hootie and the Blowfish, who made history atop the country charts, the first African-American solo act to have a No. 1 country hit since Pride wrapped things up in 1983. (Ray Charles, performing with Willie Nelson, had a hit in 1984.)
 
 

Race And Country Music Then And Now

In a recent book, Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music, editor Diane Pecknold rounds up some of the better music writers in academia in order to put a light on country's many black roots and the country's unease with said roots. It's not perfect, but what's good here makes the collection indispensable.
 
The best pieces in Hidden in the Mix form neat bookends. The first is "Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians on Old-Time Records, 1924-1932," by Patrick Huber, a professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology. By scouring and collating data from hillbilly and "race" record discographies, Huber documents at least 22 racially integrated proto-country music recording sessions, and almost 50, if not more, African American musicians who played on hillbilly records before 1932. He call his research "particularly challenging" due to incomplete personnel records. Plus, he writes, "it is often frustratingly difficult, if not impossible, especially in cases of common surnames like 'Smith,' 'Jones' and 'Johnson,' to locate a particular artist in census records and other public documents and to determine his or her race with any degree of certainty." One of the fundamental received wisdoms of popular music history is that due to taste and Jim Crow, white folks made one kind of music (which became the roots of country and western) and black folks simultaneously made what the industry labeled "race music" (blues, gospel, rhythm and blues). Though race-mixing in the studio was a rare phenomenon, Huber shows clearly that interracial recording sessions, and the general sharing of musical ideas across Jim Crow lines, was far more common than is imagined today.
 
 

Blackface

The mask which the actor wears is apt to become his face -- Plato

Blackface is more than just burnt cork applied as makeup.
It is a style of entertainment based on racist Black stereotypes
that began in minstrel shows and continues today.

 

History of Blackface  

 
 
 
The stock characters of blackface minstrelsy have played a significant role in disseminating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. Every immigrant group was stereotyped on the music hall stage during the 19th Century, but the history of prejudice, hostility, and ignorance towards black people has insured a unique longevity to the stereotypes. White America's conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy's mocking caricatures and for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both white and black performers in blackface.
 
 
 
Racist Black Stereotypes
 
Originating in the White man's characterizations of plantation slaves and free blacks during the era of minstrel shows (1830-1890), the caricatures took such a firm hold on the American imagination that audiences expected any person with dark skin, no matter what their background, to conform to one or more of the stereotypes:
 

Pages