Archive for July, 2009

Power of Cool

Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Donald Harrison, cookin

The King of Nouveau Swing Donald Harrison, Jr. brought his bold sax (plus dance moves) to Syracuse last week and spiced up the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival like a plate of red beans and rice.  His band members, average age about 19, were the perfect compliment and despite the rain, they belted out enough flavor to make Clinton Square sound more like Congo Square…at least for an hour or so.

Roll Call

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The entire list is too long, but here are some of my all-time favorite radio personalities then and now: Frank Ski (Baltimore), Donnie Simpson (Washington, DC), Red Alert (New York), Lady B and Georgie Woods (Philadelphia), DJ Showcase and Rick Wright (Syracuse).

I must add Texas Fred aka the Zydeco Cowboy (Washington, DC) to my list. I’ve checked out his show on the internet for the past few years and he delivers a unique experience over the airwaves.

A Tribute

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Leonard Stephens, Jr.

My friend Jonathan Stephens III sent me this tribute to his cousin Leonard Stephens, Jr., who passed away last week.  Leonard was a talented song-writer, producer and a master on the steel pedal guitar.

Age Aint Nothing But a Number

Monday, July 27th, 2009
Young Cats

Young Cats

Props to the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet (pictured are members Nick Frenay and Chad Leftkowitz Brown) the young cats who served as the defacto house band for the Northeast Jazz & Wine Fest late night jam sessions at Jazz Central over the weekend.

It’s gotta be the shoes

Monday, July 27th, 2009

SIF Advisory Board member and photographer Alton Ritter shot a lively campaign for The Shoe Crush. See the pictures here.

Tear the Roof off tha Sucker

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Sax man Marion Meadows said he’s wanted to perform in Syracuse for a long time, sick especially since his sister lives here.  He finally got his chance last night during a sizzling performance for the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival (formerly Jazz in the Square).  During the set Meadows did a roll call of musicans that have influenced his band, people such as Grover, Ella, Miles, Coltrane, James Brown and some others. Then before bringing the house down, he asked a simple question: “What happens when some Funk falls into your cereal?” 

The crowd in Clinton Square for the festival concert got the answer, but Meadows added a cresendo later when his band brought their steady rhythms to Jazz Central for an intimate late night jam session (which typically follow the festival performances). 

In addition to his quartet, Meadows vibed with musicians such as Eudy Ferdandez and The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, featuring Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Noah Kellman, Nick Frenay, Zach Brown, and Corey Fonville. 

Joe Magnarelli also joined the session, which funked up the house til well past midnight.

Don’t Say Cheese

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Karen Lee, head of the Karen Lee Group, offers advice for looking better in photographs.


Friday, July 17th, 2009

“I was lucky to be doing the right thing at the right place at the right time.”

–photographer Julius Shulman

Straight, no chaser

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Excelsior College Commencement Speaker Soledad O'Brien (left) with Excelsior College graduate Lawrence E. Minor, Jr. (from Delaware)

Last week I attended the Excelsior College Commencement in Albany. The Commencement Speaker was Soledad O’Brien. Her speech was simple and direct, which fits well in this current climate.

What Happens to a Dream Deferred

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I met designer Pamela Williams last week during her first annual “Elegance from the Soul” Fashion Extravaganza. She explained that about 3 years ago she was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer and put her dreams of fashion and design on hold. During the recovery she was encouraged by video producer and friend Jay Dunmore  to rekindle her dreams and career aspirations.  So with faith and the strong support of her family, including husband Steven and son Melvin Eisland (aka M. Island), and a cadre of  friends, she organized the show.

1st Annual Elegance from the Soul Fashion Extravaganza

Williams hopes that in addition to highlighting fashion and designers from around the region, the show will also be a catalyst to raise awareness of cancer.

The show featured a typical runway scheme along with live music.  “It was amazing,” Williams said of her son M. Island’s  performance. She particularly enjoys his song You Can Make It.

Syracuse’s the Blacklites also performed.

At the close of the show Williams shared her experience and brought many people in the audience to tears.   Williams recommended early detection to detect and manage cancer. (She says a portion of the proceeds from the show will be made to the American Cancer Society)

You are truly Friends of God for helping me make this happen, she said.

For a first show the execution was great. I asked Williams how she could top this performance: “Come to next year’s show,” she said.

The dream continues.