St. Louis “Next Installment-DM”

Little Walter in my earphones: But someday, baby, you’re not going to worry my life anymore

First of all, Howard Schwartz is there, post-stroke, the only noticeable clue is the cane. Am so delighted & elated to see him; was so worried. He’s done so much remarkable work as scholar of the Jewish folklore traditions — his penultimate work, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, is essential. What’s often forgotten, is that Howard is a poet & parable & dream maestro, all of those deep skills employed in this grand work. May have embarrassed him by touching him to be sure he was still alive. At the same time, Zimbawi, great improvising musician on the m’biri, who signed up for Rockpile 2 years ago at a loose sweet meeting at the Castro’s, also suffered a stroke which was more serious & was still in hospital. Howard takes the stage & tells us a great teaching tale from the Jewish bag of shticks.

From then on, it’s a procession of impassioned performances. Old friend from old days, K. Curtis Lyle, in full regalia, white griot robes, cornrows, intones a magnificent tribute to Michael Jackson, back up by stalwarts: Dave Black, guitar, & David A. N. Jackson, on a myriad of percussion possibilities. Phil Gounis proclaimed Buddhism. Shirley LeFlore kicked it. Anarcho-punk-hip hop poet — Jason & The Beast — kicked it out of the park. Michael Castro (backed by Black & Jackson) was consummately in the groove, The glory of it wouldn’t stop. Maria Guadalupe Massey . Sean Arnold. Alex Balogh. Whew. The energy in the room was palpable. Then Bob Malone’s trio amped it up beyond. Singing some of Michael Rothenberg’s deep songs (cante hondo), with his out-there brio. The most satisfying compliment I got that night was from Bob’s bass player Christa’s son; he was maybe seven or so & she brought him up to me because he really dug my performance. St Louis was all acme; it was a signal & sign of what’s possible in arts communities in touch w/ the necessity of shared & embraced realities & alert & constantly awake to the imaginative possibilities.

Long as I have you, baby
Nothing I won’t do
Little Walter in my earphones


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