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Papa Machete

Like a lot of things in Haiti’s rich culture, much is shrouded in secrecy. Sadly, the consequence of that is that many things have become lost.

Visit the country for any length of time, and you find out there is this whole other world beneath the surface.

Image result for Machete fighting history louisiana

While working there, a Haitian friend accused a politician of “getting out his vote” with “Machete Boys”. On the surface, an outsider would miss both the historical and cultural context of this. During the Haitian Revolution, the former slaves did not have many guns, or even access to gunpowder with which to make bullets. They fought the gun armed French Soldiers with one of the few tools they had, machetes. And won.

Now whether the art came with the former slaves from Africa (stick fighting), or was developed in  Haiti is shrouded in history. What we do know, is machete fighting is a Martial Arts style, perhaps not entirely unique to the Island Nation (there are also unique forms of this in Brazil using the Bolo, Colombia,  Cuba,  as well as in SE Asia). So when a Haitian uses the term “Machete Boys”, the meaning is rich with historical and cultural allusion.

One of the Masters of this form is beginning to talk about it. Papa Machete.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Black History, Haiti

 

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FAMU Marching 100 Return

The Marching 100 returned yesterday to a Half Time show between FAMU and Mississippi Valley State. It’s reputation as one of the elite Marching Band units at the College level is sadly tarnished, and it’s reputation as an HBCU tradition is at it’s lowest point. Hopefully the new School President, Band Leader, and students can return the unit, and the traditions it represented before the scandal back to the heights the band once enjoyed.

FAMU band makes first appearance in nearly two years after hazing incident

Twenty-two months after Florida A&M University’s band was suspended in the wake of a hazing death of a drum major, it was back on the field Saturday, performing at the season-opener against Mississippi Valley State.

The Marching 100 was not allowed to perform after Robert Champion collapsed and died after a hazing ritual on a bus in November 2011. That suspension was lifted in June, after the resignation of the band’s longtime director and the university president.

The scandal resulted in charges of manslaughter and felony hazing being placed against 15 former band members. Seven have made plea deals, another has a deal but has not been sentenced and the other seven await trial, according to the Associated Press.

The parents of the hazing victim, who have filed wrongful death lawsuits against FAMU and the bus company, told the AP that they believed the return of the band was “too soon.”

“I don’t see anything that’s different to ensure the safety of those students,” Pam Champion said. “Everything that has been put in place is not something that was done voluntarily.”

Larry Robinson, the university’s interim president, announced the decision to strike up the band, saying it would be “a model of excellence for other bands across this nation. It will actually focus on its founding principles of character, academics, leadership, marching and service.”

On Saturday, the band was back on the field at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.

 
 

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Musical history of the blues found in juke joints – CBS News

A few of the old Juke Joints still survive. Wynton Marsalis takes on a trip down History Lane finding several Juke Joints still operating.
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Musical history of the blues found in juke joints

In a downhome neighborhood on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala., Rita James bought an abandoned building and built a happy home for the blues. Her tiny, unmarked Red Wolf club invites the entire community.

Just four years old, The Red Wolf is a real juke joint. It’s roots go all the way back to Emancipation. In the old South, poverty made life more extreme. So folks found barns, shacks, anywhere – to play, sing and dance their sorrows away. Over time, these places became known as juke joints. Within their walls the blues were born.

Every Wednesday night, Wilson takes the microphone and gets the people on their feet. But it’s the music that brings them together.

“I just make them feel good,” Wilson said. “That’s just me period. Anywhere. I make the crippled feel good – make them think they can walk again.”

First-timer BJ Miller drove 500 miles from St. Louis for a chance to blow her trombone in a place where spirits are served, and freed.

“It’s not that they just serve alcohol,” Miller said. “It’s that they are serving musicians the opportunity to express themselves – and that’s not everywhere.”

“The blues has good and sad, so it’s for good too,” Wilson said. “And you know I like the blues. I like music period, I like all music, so music cheer me on and make me feel good.”

The blues are good for the soul. Their rhythms are inseparable from the American identity, and they’re not naive. The blues tell us bad things happen all the time, and they do, and we can engage with them. The blues are like a vaccine. If you want to get rid of something, give yourself a little bit of it, and when the real thing comes – you’re ready for it.

If Rita has any say in the matter, they’ll be an integral and constant part of the future. Wilson said her club will stay open, “until I drop.”

 

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