Note: This newsletter is being shared with the permission of Bill Curtis.
What about July 4th besides being America’s Independence Day…such a highly celebrated day among blacks. Ever since I was a child 4th July was a big celebration and nobody does better than the New Yorkers! The city that I grew up musically…I call Queens my musical home! I spend 4th July in Queens this year at a friend of mine home. We go way back growing up musically together, playing and jamming in the city when music was king, musicians was heroes, when people paid just to hear and dance to their music. Musicians were stars and they set the pace for fashion and styles they were pathfinder and New York City was the Big Apple.
Anything that was anything started in New York. Back in the day, you had to come to New York to make it big. Most cities had great musicians and bands but they had to come to New York to become famous, (a Star)! New Yorker’s are one of the “Toughest Audience’s” in the world! The saying” if you can make in New York you can make it anywhere.” Musicians worked 7 days a week believe it or not and Harlem was like the music mecca for Black music and culture from 110st Street to 145st Street. Just about every bar had a band at least four nights a week. Monday was declared jam session night all over the city and that’s when the young and upcoming musicians could sit in play along with the giants, if he had the nerves. Yes music was king.
It was all about the music then and if they could make a little money playing, that was great, but they lived and breathe music and marched to their own beat. People envied musicians back then, kids wanted to be like them; there was so much live music in the streets, every ethnic neighborhood played their own music. That was the first thing I noticed when I was passing through the old neighborhoods in the city, the live music was missing . The city was famous for their block parties and the music was always live. I did catch one that had live music; my buddy Johnny Flippen did his daughter’s annual 4th of July party in her backyard in Queens. It was great being amongst the guys again. Michael Walker was also there; as you know Flip was a founder member of The Fatback Band and Michael was our first and only lead vocalist. The music started at 3:oo pm and stopped about 11:30 pm and the crowd spilled out in the street. She said next year she will block off the entire street.
July 6th was the big event that I was there for. My God Daughter’s wedding…my long time Friend’s Daughter, (Sweet Pumpkin) C I Williams, (RIP), Alto Saxophonist, extraordinary (Booger Bear). Carla to Andre Deazle…I’d like to wish them all the luck in the world in their new life together! A beautiful ceremony and the reception…all I can say is “WoW”! My favorite food.. Thai… some of the best I’ve had in a long time, but no live music. I was only in the city for four days and like I said, 4th July is big weekend of partying.
I stopped by Carl and Sandra Mother’s house later that evening for their annual 4th of July celebration. This was no ordinary party…it was a buffet of Caribbean, Mexican and Soul Food. I’m sorry to say no live music…but Carl kept the party hot! He played lots of Fatback! He was raised on Fatback and learned to play drums while hanging with me during the time he was in high School.
Now, July 20th will always be a soft spot in my heart. I attended to my Granddaughter’s wedding Melanie Dorsey to Benjamin Jackson of Harrisburg Pa. The kids really pulled it off! They did their own thing without any interference from their parents, but again no live music.
There was time when live music was the main attraction at weddings, Bar Mitzvah and mostly all social affairs. To have a Dj was considered lowbrow, but now it seen be a part of today’s culture. If music fades away, part of our culture is loss. Music reflex our times, what’s going on and the mood of people. We can’t let music die we got to support it. If we don’t, there won’t be anyone out there making new music ,itune, Spotify, Pandora and Techie will have to find another gravy horse to ride when they use up all the music and they will. What will the next fads be? I hope music don’t become like the buffalo.