Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Just came in from a screening of “San Andreas” starring The Rock. Ever since I saw the trailer, I understood the film to be all about disaster, action, adventure, but in the back of my mind, I was a bit fearful to see on the big screen what could probably, no – likely be a depiction of Los Angeles when the Big One hits. All my life, as a native Californian, we have been told about the impending “Big One”. Cali is supposed to break off and fall into the sea, making Las Vegas America’s newest seaside city. San Andreas is a vivid film adaptation as to what that looks like,

San Andreas has its share of action and The Rock is always good in his action hero status. But seriously, this movie left me feeling some kind of way. For some, this film could be fantasy. An exciting joy ride full of thrills, awesome rescues and unimaginable heroism.. But for some of us, this mess is real. And in the back of our minds, we were like whoa…  A reaction made even more intense due to the fact that we have been having small tremors fairly regularly around here, most centered in the Baldwin Hills area. Personally I think the fracking going on in the Baldwin Hills is causing this rash of tremors but I digress.

Anticipation of the screening brought back vivid memories of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. I had never been in such a violent and destructive quake.4:30 in the morning, sleeping like a baby and then BAM!! a MAJOR shaker.  I lost my entire crystal collection, mirrors and tables broke.. We could not open the front door to our apartment and had to climb out on the balcony and shimmy down to the street. It was a major situation. The buildings in my block had collapsed, shattered windows, major damage. It was plenty scary.

San Andreas brought to the big screen a very real viewpoint of how vulnerable the area is to a catastrophic event. We would be brought to our knees if an earthquake of 9-plus hit Southern California. We need to keep an earthquake survival kit handy. We need to have a plan of action in the event of such a disaster. Me and mine have instructions to meet at the Cathedral. We will survive from there. In the words of the scientists in the movie, it’s not a question of if, but when disaster will strike.

Biblically speaking, we are told to watch for such a time as this. Earthquakes in diverse places, the Word says and I am seeing quakes in locales where we did not have them before. Besides, the way mankind has damaged the world and the climate, I’m thinking it’s almost payback time for the forces of nature. Yes, the ultra-magnitude earthquake is inevitable.

In the end, you must have a plan of survival. Prepare yourselves. We could be in for society changing events. And soon..Yeah.. San Andreas.. left me feeling some kind of way…

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Last month, I attended the Urban Network Digital Summit in San Diego. I was sooooo glad to experience the return of this all important black music conference. We had not had a conference in some 5-7 years…  Back in the day, there were so many conferences that allowed us to shine… Black Music’s best executives, artists and pop culture together in one location sharing knowledge, networking, the record company parties and even the sometimes secret, invitation only music soirees… it was something to behold… But then the times have changed – and the conferences went away one by one.

The Urban Network Digital Summit was organized by a committee that graduated from the previous versions of Urban Network. Led by Arthur Mitchell – a guy who came along at the end of the era that I am descurbannetworksummitlogoribing Nonetheless, he gets props for pulling together some of the Urban Network alumni and putting on a pretty nice conference.  David Mitchell, Tosha Thomas, Harold Whaley.. most of the crew from the old Urban Network was in the house and had a hand in putting together the conference… Job well done guys!!!

I was impressed with the turnout as the conference attracted a bevy of young, independent artists who were starving for knowledge and perspective on this crazy industry we all know and love. Next year, I believe the Summit will have double the attendance. And probably more support from the industry at large could resort in better artist showcases, and performance infrastructure. or even targeting music equipment and technology manufacturers and providers for sponsorship dollars and added information and educational benefit.

It was obvious that there is a generational gap in the industry. The game has changed. But there is a lot of room for convergence. The old heads need to be willing to share the history and experiences in the music game while being open and flexible to the changes the digital world has brought to music artistry.

As I observe the music industry, I see opportunity for the creatives. The road to fame no longer runs strictly through massive radio station airplay and major record labels. Websites and social media are the exposure tools of today. The young guns coming up are so much more savvy to the tools for making music and even more savvy with the power digital platforms possess in building audience… that BUZZ….

There was a time when you went to these conventions and came away with a bag full of CD’s and cassettes…. This time I received a good number of cassettes but I was even the more impressed with the number of cards with the QR codes embedded. I could download the music right to my phone…. Or those that had multiple songs to share, I received a flash drive… some imprinted with the band’s name on it just in case I would forget(lol!!) Technology has taken over the entire music promotion game…..

The panel discussions were inviting. If I were to offer a critique it would be to limit the number of panelists on the dais. And also to ensure the ALL panels have a question and answer period. It becomes a session of self-congratulatory pontificating if the audience is not allowed to engage.

I always look forward to the music showcases. For better or worse, it is good to hear first hand the latest music coming along. For this Summit, I must say that I saw some great acts. And of course I saw some that need to keep practicing. They were not ready for primetime. I enjoyed mostly the complete bands… The bands that came and brought it. And there were some acts that had it going on….

Tony Toni Tone made a reunion appearance and while they were marred with sound system difficulties, I was soon reassured that this band remained tight and ready to rock their fans everywhere.

In the end, there is still a bright future for the black music industry. Yet, innovation and imagination is needed to fully live up to our potential. Are we ready? Are we willing to continue to get together in a business academic environment? Time will tell.

Good Job Urban Network.

The NBA All Star weekend is a storied weekend of music fun and basketball. And the fact that it was held in New Orleans means the party and live music was on a whole nutha level!! I only tuned in to watch the Game and got a chance to see the lengthy pre-game festivities. I was impressed with the pre-game concert as it featured Performances by Nelly, Diddy, Busta Rhymes and more..  It’s funny for me to watch twitter and see the comments about Busta’s weight. He seemingly has packed on some poundage… one tweet said “Busta Rhymes looks like my dad”…. yeah he looked like he was struggling with his heaviness…. But I digress..

One of the anthems of the moment on radio is the song “I’m the Man”…. And until this weekend, a lot of listeners had not seen Aloe Blacc…. in fact it appears that a lot had not even HEARD of Aloe Blacc. That means that this appearance on the NBA All Star Pre-game Concert was a BIG deal for Aloe…. an injection into the mainstream consciousness of music lovers everywhere. A global audience. It was a big deal.

One would think that the artist would be super prepared for the world stage. You would think the band would be tight…. but to the contrary, Aloe Blacc came out and sang I’m the Man” in a key that was completely off from where the band was playing. It was an ear sore.

Now I have been searching for an out for this music nightmare. I read that since Aloe Blacc’s song had become the theme of Beats Headphones that it was the headphones which caused this musical miscue… I heard that his in ear monitors were not working…. But I saw several large front monitors and he stood over one for sometime…. frankly there is no excuse for this debacle.

I’m not sure how this will affect Aloe Blacc over time… One thing is sure that he will need to come with outstanding songs to sustain his career. His ability to sell live performance tickets will surely be affected. It’s a shame because this vocalist certainly had some promise prior to the show….

Aloe Blacc, you are NOT the man!!!

This Memorial Day weekend, I took some time off to enjoy the San Diego Jazz Festival. These are my contemplations… I am from San Diego, although I have lived in Los Angeles for nearly thirty years. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to see the crowd jam-packed on the driving range of the famous La Costa Resort. You see, San Diego is a tough town to host a music event of this type… But nonetheless, the folks came out and the festival was well attended throughout its duration… The festival lineup was pretty good… Charlie Wilson, Kem, LedisI, Will Downing, Brian McKnight, Jonathan Butler, and more…Spread over two and a half days, the listeners had a great deal of awesome music to choose from. The ambience was nice and the mild weather provided a great backdrop for a relaxing holiday weekend.JazzWSax

Yet the sound left much to be desired. My seats weren’t that great but be that as it may, the sound guy did not compensate his mix for us in the cheap seats. For some reason, his line issues were tremendously pronounced for those of us in the back. For instance, during BWB’ s set, the kick drum mic and the bass took over the entire production overpowering all the intricate instrumentalizations . It was very distracting. The promoters need to improve the sound.

The lineup was pretty good with well known smooth jazz and R&b artists from start to finish.On Sunday afternoon, the fans were completely caught up in the atmosphere of the festival. Full of wine and food, the people were ready to party… And so as the next to the last act took the stage, we were treated to the serenades of Brian McKnight. Now Brian has a body of work no doubt- a litany of hits for sure, but he is known for the slow jams… We needed to shake our rump to the funk!,,

All in all, this was a nice festival that has hopes for continued success in future years. They need to work on the lineup and placement of artists. That said I give the San Diego Jazz Festival a B-

I recently returned from a trip to South Africa. It was an incredible experience.  No.  It was more than that.  I don’t really have a single word in my vocabulary to describe the experience. The concept of global travel is exciting enough but this trip left me in a special state. The essence of South Africa touched my consciousness to it’s very core.

From the start I immersed myself into the culture of this beautiful country. I was eager to learn the folkways and mores of the society. I was intensely and keenly tuned into the music of the land. I was sensitive to the powerful euphoria of freedom which had only blanketed this country since 1994…. Yes, it has only been 19 years since the abolishment of apartheid. And the scars on the people and scenery were certainly fresh…..

Our flight to Johannesburg from Los Angeles was certainly long and was a reminder that South Africa is indeed on the other side of the world… We departed LAX at 9:45pm Friday night and did not land in South Africa until around 11am Sunday Morning…. Even as we endured that marathon flight, we did not take time to rest, for Luke, our tour organizer had a full and complete schedule in store for us..

After a nice lunch in Nelson Mandela Square, we boarded our bus and headed to the Apartheid Museum. It was here that I realized that the foundation of the system of Apartheid was rooted in the South African Gold mining boom. I would learn of life under apartheid and I would learn about the legacy of SA’s Freedom Fighters. The visit to the museum was really short as we were on a tight time schedule. However, the Apartheid Museum was a very emotional experience for me and set the tone for what and how I would process the cultural and sociological essence of the country.

And while we visited various parts of Johannesburg, the scars of the precious metal and mineral mines on the land were painfully obvious to me. Not only did the Europeans oppress the people in the name of greed, they oppressed the land in the process.

Our visit to Soweto was indeed eye opening. Soweto is the largest black township in South Africa and is the epicenter of the struggle against the racist system. During the era of Apartheid, the government forced non-blacks out of the cities into townships. In fact, the very name of Soweto is a government designated acronym SOuth WEstern TOwnship.

We entered the gates of Soweto and drove to Freedom Square, where the leaders of the movement crafted the charter which is now the essence of South Africa’s modern constitution. The tour of Soweto left me speechless for most of the day… I detached from my group… There was so much to process, so much to understand… I had to come to terms with walking the streets of Kliptown where there was no running water nor paved streets… I had to manage my emotions stirred by the children who reside in the orphanage known as Soweto Kliptown Youth… I had to deal with the gravity of thought that the people of Soweto were living evidence of the brutality of the Apartheid system. The atmosphere was charged with the essence of the struggle. It was indeed haunting, electric and sobering all at once… However at the epicenter of all of these raw emotions was the sense of hope… Hope in the notion that all cultures and races can live together as one… Yes, the streets of Soweto were bathed in the blood of the lost in the name of Freedom, but they were rinsed clean by the essence of hope…

At the end of the day, we visited the street where Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived.. On that same street stood the home of Nelson Mandela (who I learned was called Madiba by most blacks in South Africa). I had a chance to tour the small residence.. I put my fingers in the bullet holes left by police and hate groups over the years… I walked in the rooms occupied by Nelson, Winnie and the children…. It was indeed surreal…

I must mention that in addition to seeing the homes of these great Nobel Peace Prize winners, we were treated to a luncheon at one of the areas popular restaurants and while we ate, we experienced a private musical showcase by a local band. This was most tasty…

As much as I wanted to celebrate and be happy, I still found myself in a sort of melancholy yet reflective state. I could not help but find all the crap we put each other through as black people in America seems so trivial compared to the streets and recent history of Soweto.. Yes, recent because one has to remember that my people over there have only been free since 1994….

It would be the visit to Hector Pietersen Museum that would push my emotions over the top… The museum stood as testament to the 1976 Soweto Uprising. Here students took to the streets in protest of Apartheid in general but specifically protested against the required learning of the Afrikaans language as part of the curriculum. The students staged a massive walkout and although the action was peaceful, the police shot into the crowd. Hector Pietersen was a fifth grader who was the first to fall. More than 400 children would die on that day and the Museum tells the story. It is fascinating.

As one walks into the museum, they are met with a huge panoramic wall photograph of the students as they marched in the streets. It is a sight to behold. On the left is a garden with hundreds of bricks strewn about. On each brick are the names of the fallen students. It was here that I would lose it… I cried. It was was just too overwhelming to understand that so many children lost their lives in the interest of freedom.

In the end, I have come to identify with the cultural volcano that is Johannesburg. The music, the people, the food, the history all resonated deeply within me…

The trip to South Africa was life changing on a lot of levels… My next few posts will attempt to define the essence of my experience…

Amandla!

I read with great interest an article on radiofacts.com that detailed radio station 93.5 KDAY’s convergence efforts with regard to twitter and it’s on-air presentation. KDAY had used twitter to generate listener song requests themed around the surprise knockout of Manny Pacquiao. It was a very interesting article and spotlighted a very innovative programming strategy that embraced the water cooler talk of the day. The article further stated that this innovation is one of the reasons why the station is ranked number 12 in the nation’s 2nd largest radio market. I have a perspective that I wanted to share with Radio Facts and I wrote a comment/response on their website, but it did not appear. Now, I don’t know if this was because my comment did not pass moderation, or if the editor just did not see it, or maybe some technological glitch occurred and my comment just did not appear. At any cause, I thought I would re-publish my response on my blogs. You can read the article here . And here is the text of my response:

Dear RadioFacts,

First let me say that I thoroughly enjoy radiofacts.com. There is not a day that goes by that I do not check for Radiofacts to learn of the latest urban radio news and views. That said, I read with great interest the article entitled “Why 93.5 KDAY is knocking out radio competition.” The article does a great job of describing how the station converges it’s social media platforms with it’s on-air presentation. Agreed. It was a good promotion to engage the audience around the water cooler talk of the day – the surprise KO of Manny Pacquiao. However, I take issue with a couple of points the article either states or implies.

  1. “KDAY remains ranked #12 in the market” – Not so fast, RadioFacts!! As I peruse the Nov. 2012 PPM book, I just cannot find where they are ranked that high in the market. A ranker pulled6+, Mon-Sun 6a-12m  and sorted by average share will show KDAY ranked at 28, KJLH is ranked 27… if you view the ranker by average rating you will find them at #22, tied with KJLH and 2 other stations – however, KJLH is listed ahead in this tie because the audience composition is more pure. .. By average persons KDAY is ranked 28th in the market, while KJLH is ranked 27th. With all due respect, can you please clarify where KDAY is ranked 12th in the nation’s second largest radio market?
  2. Sales: It would be interesting to see KDAY’s strategies relative to sales. It’s curious that the station has a decent cume, but still maintains a modest rating point. How does the station’s innovations on the social media universe translate into digital sales?? Does the cume vs. rating point ratio translate into results for advertisers? I don’t know the answers to these questions, I’m just sayn….
  3. Digital Strategies – the article presents KDAY as a leading edge, innovator when it comes to the utilization of social media strategies and implies that others can learn from them. I submit to you, sir that the digital team at KJLH is and has been at the leading edge of social media convergence. I would put them up against any social media team in the city including those at the major corporations.

The article says KDAY is knocking out the competition. It describes that even with a weak signal and niche format, the station is finding listeners and ratings success – this due to it’s innovations in the social media universe.  I surmise that KJLH is among that competition. But We are not woozy. We are not weak in the knees. We are not on the ropes… In fact, we are vibrant, relevant, bobbing and weaving, sticking and moving… I am not hating – don’t have too. It’s good that KDAY’s innovations receive notoriety and kudos for their broadcast efforts. But, in this market, we are a part of the conversation because as an independently owned, small-signal, niche broadcaster, we are not knocked out. In fact it could be said that we are floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee!!!

#stillstanding

Gregory L. Johnson, CDMC                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KJLH Radio Marketing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           @hannibalradio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 @gospelshocase                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     @RadioFreeKJLH                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  facebook/radiofreekjlh                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                youtube/radiofreetv                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            instagram                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             foursquare

And now the moment we have all been waiting for. The tribute to Whitney Houston…. Mariah Carey opened the tribute with an emotional narrative of how they met and how they grew to be friends. Her sentiments set the tone for a most excellent musical set. Monica, Brandy, Whitney’s brother Ray and Chaka Khan all gave exceptional performances in tribute to our musical diva….. But when Whitney’s mom, Cissy Houston took the stage….. it was priceless.

As I listened to Cissy sing Bridge Over Troubled Water, I could not help but wonder how she feels. The long road she has traveled with Whitney. The burden of pain she has suffered with the loss of her child. And all the drama that has come with it. The masses of the people certainly felt it with her….. Cissy sang – no ministered that song to all of us…

Tears flowed… souls more than likely got saved… it was an awesome expression of a mother’s love… I looked around and photographers were in praise – eyes closed… arms stretched towards the Creator….. It was more than a song presentation, it was church… praise…. sanctified…. Cissy Houston took us to church….

I am also contemplating the song choice. Bridge over Troubled Waters is a soothing composition… and I have to wonder if  Cissy was singing to herself just as much as she was singing to us., Whatever the case, she demonstrates here.. right now… that she is a mourning mother… an evangelist…  a true gospel singer…. a national treasure….

I am so glad God gave us Whitney Houston… I am so glad God gave us Cissy Houston…. God bless her…….