The Obeah Symphony & The Tao of “Ball Don’t Lie”

The Tao of Ball Don’t Lie!
The ball is essentially, the unbiased judge who will not reward the basketball player by going in if the apparent foul was indeed bullshit. (source: Urban Dictionary)

"Ball Don't Lie"Humbled to have my music currently featured in a most amazing Off-Broadway play – The Obeah Symphony, written by Kesi Foster & Jackie Alexander in production through June 30, 2013 at the legendary Billie Holiday Theater (Brooklyn, NY).

What’s the Tao of “Ball Don’t Lie” have to do with Off-Broadway theater? EVERYTHING! It’s like love – two people tell the world ain’t nothin’ going on between them…but every time they see each other, even Ray Charles can see they can’t stop that special flow of energy. BALL DON’T LIE!

Having seen The Obeah Symphony twice now, BALL DON’T LIE! The sold-out theater audience laughs like Ed McMahon on the couch gettin’ paid to laugh out loud at a Johnny Carson joke. They get the poignant moments. They are touched by the depth and relevancy of the songs.

The Obeah Symphony is EXACTLY what Black theater should be…a universal story that speaks to all people. no cheap shucking and jiving like some writers lower themselves to (Tyler Perryism cross-dressing, gun toting, sassy, oversized Black grandmas, etc.) The Obeah Symphony characters are prideful, possess a sense of self, have real loving relationships (imagine that!), are poignant and incredibly funny .

Laugh it up at The Obeah SymphonyBack when I first began writing on my acoustic guitar, Trevor Gale of SESAC fame told me you gots ta get out of your basement and test your songs on a live audience. So I took Trevor up on his advice and played out…haltingly at first, singing/playing like a newborn trying to walk down a staircase. I wrote “Someday (This Gift of Life)” and Jackie Alexander heard me play it at my first live gig at The Bitter End. It stuck with him over the years and now is featured in The Obeah Symphony.

BALL DON’T LIE & GOOD SONGS DON’T DIE!

The Billie Holiday Theater - Brooklyn, NYThe Obeah Symphony is selling out! Call in advance to buy tickets. It’s an an incredibly moving play. Honored to have my music included in such a first class production that includes a brilliant cast (B. Douglas Jones, Ito Aghayere, Marcelle Gover and Patrick J. Mitchell).

BALL DON’T LIE!

Peace & Blessings – Art of Todd

The Tao of “Ball Don’t Lie” translated to music – The audience is the unbiased judge who will not reward a songwriter by applauding for bullshit music. They will be bored silly and the song will have no legs (staying power) if it is indeed deemed not heartfelt (Source: ArtofTodd).

Dreams…I Need A Yoko (new song excerpt!)

SisyphusI don’t know about all this goals & objectives stuff people talk about. Write ’em down…it will happen or so far too many self help experts say. I used to do this back in the day when I was pursuing music production/writing with my bro…but we’d always do everything up to actually signing a deal – which was the goal. So pursuing goals this way made the process almost seem like a waste. And, it sapped my spirit.

99 consecutive steps taken, miss the last one and start all over again as if the first 99 never existed. Talk about disappointment!

But…ain’t life about change or so they say? Well, this year decided to write down my dreams. I don’t necessarily like the phrase goals & objectives because to me life is a journey. Always changing…constantly reshapingl We’re all in some way trying to make a dream come true.

So my first step in my artistic journey that has no end was to have a solo art show before end of year. BONUS ROUND! I not only had a show, but also had an opportunity to play my music with my artwork in the background. Gotta’ thank the amazing Sue Giordano for the opportunity and blessing. This video features my art & an excerpt of my new song entitled I Need a Yoko.

My Pops said “this could have been the ultimate love song John Lennon wrote to Yoko had he lived.” And, I agree. So my Pop’s line will now be the intro. every time I play it yo! Play the video if u please!

Next up – Jimmy Kimmel Show by January 2010! Then Oprah in late 2010!!

Peace Yo!

Todd
The funkiest Human, African-American, Black, Negro, Pan-African, Colored, Universal, Higher-Primate, Opposable Thumb Havin’ Artist-like dude faith based in Long Island

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Yoko Ono & the Art of Writing Serendipitous New Music

Was speaking with a couple of friends, discussing the possibility of 4ever kinda’ luv, especially related to marriage. And, without much knowledge of this situation, for some reason, Yoko Ono and John Lennon kept creeping into my head. The bed-in, give peace a chance, sex with the muse, artistic souls…seemingly unconditional and eternal…u get the drift.

So – been learning new guitar chords to expand my vocabulary, but realized as I went along, this very well could make me sound like everybody else. But I proceeded cautiously. Then, one night – BOOM!!! Chords I never played popped in my head and this song about Yoko came to me.

This song has been dominating my consciousness for a full 11 days now. So woke up at 6:20am this morning to go to the beach and finish it. Envisioned a big change of pace for the tune but once on the water, realized it just needed to flow with a subtle kind of change instead. Funny how the sound of waves brings perspective.

serendipityThe seredipity – a man and woman passed by the bench on which I was playing, walking their dog. We exchanged pleasantries and he said – “Do you take requests?”. Then he said laughingly, “I’d like to hear some Beatles…like Hey Jude?”. I replied I really only do originals and thought to myself – how bizarre yo!

Then, later in the day, went to the library to pick up some new books for my boy. And on the shelf – BIG AS DAY – was a children’s book entitled Yoko Writes Her Name! U KNOW I had to check it out for him.

Needless to say, this new tune about Yoko is one classically beautiful song. Once I lay it, I’ll post it 4 sho’!

Peace, be one wit’ the process, and be all up in the serendipity of life yo!

Todd
Inspirational musings 4 circles who don’t fit in the square holes
The Continuing Life of A Funky Artist

“Sell peace the way other people sell soap” – Yoko Ono (Thanks to Joan Athey – Curator of the Give Peace a Chance photo exhibit featuring the photography of Gerry Dieter, for this quote)

Open Mic at Roots in Sea Cliff…Is One Ever 2 Good?

Roots in Sea Cliff, NYRoots in Sea Cliff, (my favorite playing/eating  spot where I’m becoming like artist in residence) invited me to come and play at their open mic last night.  

The question someone posed to me beforehand was am I playing with folks at my level. First off – how does one define level?  Fame dependent?  How good one writes, sings or plays (totally subjective)?  In my mind, I play well though am hardly well known.  So what’s my level?

Open Mic With this in mind, the next question became should I participate?  My answer – A  resounding YES!  And, for a variety of reasons which include:

  1. I owe David and Roots BigTime for giving me space to be free and sing my story.  Roots has a great vibe, incredible staff & even BETTA’ food (yes – THIS IS A PLUG – VISIT!!! EAT!!! DRINK!!!)!  Kinda’ like a high brow Cheers…consistent.
  2. U learn from everyone no matter their level.  Afterall, it’s not about the chops, it’s about expression…purity!
  3. What better way to test drive my songs, voice & vibe than with a bunch of folks who don’t know me from Adam?
  4. Root’s eclectic beer selection (thanks 4 the word eclectic Dan & 4 your fav beer recommendation G)!!
  5. Commune with fellow musicians (hey – I don’t feel like I’m on The Island of Misfit Toys here).Misfit Toys - why don't i fit in yo!

So obviously, I peeped the open mic & it was totally a blessing for me to have participated.  

Men's Green John Deere Cap - Licensed. Embroidered Logo. Adjustable.I was a little tired, a little rushed, and a lot fashion challenged (brown velvet jacket, grey Gap shirt,  green John Deere hat, blue jeans. WHAT!?).  But – playing out is what it’s all about.  Learning, growing, respecting the craft and  all its wonderful practitioners.  

So what’s my level?  The same as anyone who is on stage wherever I perform yo!

Stay real, stay humble, keep grindin’!

 I’m never 2 good & will never be good enuf.

Peace & blessings  – Todd

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Washtub Bass in…Brooklyn?!

Rick & Peter on the rub a dub dubYo Adrian!  Played an acoustic vocal/guitar set at a real live Brooklyn house party hosted by my friend Christy Merry.  Receptive audience, chilled conversation, good live music, tasty red  licorice, and beautiful visual art.

Played about four songs and they were well received.  My new song Revolution especially went over well.

But, the HIGHLIGHT of the evening was checking out washtub bassist extraordinaire Peter Ford.  I’ve never witnessed washtub bass up-close-and-personal before.  And gotta say, it was fascinating.  Really now, dude playing one string on an amped up tub and makin’ music…! Yo, That’s CRAZY!  Like watchin’ a man eat a steak with one tooth!!

T Plays...honoredPeter backed up the talented musician/artist Rick Beerhorst (in from Michigan & I love his stuff).  2gether, they were just plain WICKED!  Me thinks I gotta’ get some washtub in my live act…hhmm…maybe call it Washtub Funk & Roll!

me-and-christyChristy blessed us with her always moving and spiritually based poetry (thanks 4 the welcome to your journey CM).  Rebecca Pronsky played some urban twang country-styled joints backed by the tasteful guitar renderings of Rich Bennett.  Michelle Han displayed her delicate and subtly complex artwork and Emily Anne Smith  was in the house too.  Look forward to hearing her stand up one day.

BIG THANKS to Christy (newly minted Queen Benefactress of the Arts- maybe Obama will holla’ her way) for sponsoring this gathering and sharing her spirit, home and licorice!

Art by Michelle Han

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like luv – art in its purest form is best experienced intimately…

Peace & Blessings – Todd

* all photos by Christy Merry

p.s. – the journey of an artist continues…selected for an art opening in May and invited to put on an acoustic music show in April.  and, working with a music producer…now gotta’ find a church home (thanks 4 the spiritual guidance CM)!

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