Monday, December 24, 2012

Elena's Soul Lounge Gone

So just imagine once upon a time in Philly….. Good old Philly… Our rich and profound town filled with music and entertainment, that there would be a little lounge in west philly called Leroy's Showcase Lounge.
Legendary it was….most nights it would showcase famous acts from Patti LaBelle, The Staple singers, The O'Jays, Harold Melvin in The Blue Notes…. Just insane.
Not just showcasing their talent, but this was one of their spots,  where they came to chill, get smashed and have fun together, through music, drinks, whatever.
Walking into Elena's Soul…I always felt that it was a place filled with so many vibes and memories of the past, but the great thing about it was, it never left. Everytime i stepped foot in that place and we jammed among friends and family, even folks from out of town would stop in. One thing for sure is that you were guaranteed a great time and a weird always, but cool and funny vibe.
I mean, I felt it almost every single time i went there and now it's gone?

December 24, 2012 Elena's Soul caught fire. It was a place that was building back a tradition that once lived there for many years, socializing, drinking, eating, and hearing great music, whether it was on the turntables or with the live musicians.

The first time I found out about it was from my great friend and partner DJ Danophonic….he told me that this place Leroy's at the time was gonna be a cool spot in west philly… of course i Believed him but it took awhile and he would usually hang there a bunch, and i came a few times but the place was so filled with cigarette smoke, i couldn't stand to be in there too long.

Yes it was a gritty bar, that all the cats came to hang and drink of course, and bless the place with their gifts of music.
good times at elena's

It made sense that whenever anyone played, it always had a vibe….the sound system wasn't the best, but you were hands on with the musicians, entertainers, bar tenders, Dj's, even the owner of the place took the mic a few times while we jammed and had fun. I can't believe its gone.

Sad is not the word for the moment, you try to not have selfish thoughts  about the things you remember of the place, so you think about everything.
People first met there, people went there to hang and have a good time in a cool neighborhood. People come from shows, all parts of philly because they know they are gonna be entertained, folks even drive in from out of town to catch the vibe.

Me and Bilal at Elena's

It's hard to even write this blog post due to everything that one can endure at a time and you wake up and now this.
That place burned to the ground! 
I was just sitting here in the studio thinking, well, at least i have the jam session this week, where i can meet up with friends and family, and look towards a brighter day… now, i just sit and cherish memories… which puts a deeper dent on the outlook of things.

You just hate to see something built from the ground up to only be knocked down.
They worked hard there….they built a respectable spot for people to lounge at. 

We played so many hours there, Original Music always…We had so many great times there. i know…. i keep saying it, but it's just a sad deal, i feel like i lost something too man.
Everybody have their spots in philly, the jams, whatever, but nothing was EVER like Elena's……..EVER
Some jam sessions are jams made up with people doing covers or whatever they know how to play, at this jam, we basically freestyle with the notions that your gonna vibe with us, keep in mind, most songs, great songs are made up that way!

I'm glad and thankful nobody got hurt…and i just wanna take the time to thank thee entire staff over there, you provided us with a comfortable place to play, you catered to us with the coolest service, you became family to us, and we will always be around when you need us. Thank You.

Algernong Allen…. Thank you for taking your hard earned time and money to keep that place going… I'm sure only bigger and better things are on the horizon.
It has to be…that place was offered a living room atmosphere to so so many people.
You made that happen and now that its gone, its a really sad man, and i'm sorry.

I wanted to remember those times, so for most of the day, i found some recordings that we did there, of the jam session… I managed to take a whole night of jamming, all types of funny things you will hear on the recording, and got it to a cool 27 minutes.... Please listen... and share of course with everyone you know, keep the memories going and just keep eachother in prayer.

Merry Christmas and A happy new year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Venting Out Loud


I Haven't written a blog in a few months, but this one was well worth the wait man. 

I'm thinking to myself reflecting on the moves I've made in my career, and thinking about all the people that came in my life and help me get to my dreams of being a successful musician and eventually producer!
The road wasn't easy, at times I felt I should be in a better position then some should have been, and your talent just makes you feel you that your suppose to do any and everything. I had to learn the hard way, but it turned out being the right way to go.
I even read books on how some things go on just to educate myself on what life i wanted to get myself into.

I played gigs where it felt like i would never make it out the city. I traveled through a few cities only to make a few bucks, but little did i know, I was paying my dues and grooming myself for the bigger picture. 
When People say you have to obtain a bunch of patience and perseverance, they mean it in all senses of the meaning.
Remain patient man, God didn't give you that talent for no reason, if you put in the hard work, your gonna reach a peak, but it will NOT happen over night man.

1998 marked the time when i Graduated from High school, it was a significant timezone for a young musician coming up in Philly. 
Nothing was given to you like things are today. Call me old or whatever, its the damn truth.
Everybody earned their stripes for all the success that is happening now.
It makes it that much sweeter because some of them, well, actually a lot of them come from my hometown and they are close friends as well.

Yeah, whatever, getting to my point.

To  all the college musicians who are privileged to attend a prestige school, Please, Please, Please man. Use it to your best interest, but Never, Never, Never use it to the point where your promoting false information man.
I can't understand for the life of me why you use  situations like, your school being able to afford to pay for an artist to come there and perform, with the school band that is, and ruin their tunes and then promote how you've toured with them, when in fact, you've only shared the stage with them for a brief, nice and short and sweet recital or function, your school (Berklee) created for you.
Last time I checked, when you promote yourself, you normally would have to actually play for this artist, for a significant amount of time.
Playing with Bilal… or etc artist at your school doesn't mean you go and tell your homies and the world that you've toured with them. ( YOU NEVER DID THAT)

The shit doesn't count man. I played with several people in my time and I STILL don't include them on my resume of touring. When you have talent and your dope, after a while, your gonna get discovered and eventually wind up doing the things you want. Patience!

Granted, we are in a different time in music and the platform for cats coming out and wanting the lime light and now all of the sudden recording their own records, it's very inspiring, but in all actuality, your killing people's ears by putting shit out because you have the means and you really haven't developed a good enough sound to call your own yet.
Yeah, Im talking about you, if your gonna take it personal!
Now days, anybody can devote their young lives to a macbook pro with logic and youtube. That's how you created your sound and album and I don't think that shit is cool. What the hell did you go to school for in the first place???

My suggestion, Maybe you should really study music in a pure form, and not just listening and learning certain groves and songs just for the fuck of it.

Ok, you can play Jaco all day, and chicken, my most hated jam session song, but, can you actually sit down and just play a few notes and have people leaving, with a good impression, and a good sense for who you can be down the road.

I know, maybe i sound a bit harsh, but i wasn't a schooled musician, I didn't have a platform where you really don't have to do shit to make it out.

I didn't come up in a era where you play in church and people worshiped your ground,and  immediately your head balloons to a point where your thinking, wow man, yeah I'm dope…. Im suppose to go straight to the majors man.
Nope I didn't do that at all, so why should you?

Walk a humble ground man, don't run around in a city, telling folks your touring with this person and that person. After a while, i assume it will catch up with you, and when people finally catch on, your  basically looking like an ass.

There's no need to state your claim, specially when your doing well, why? well, people, and social networks, and all that stuff will do it for you.

Your playing will do most of the talking, and the rest is strictly on how your choose to carry yourself through it. DON"T LIE…. DON"T SAY I TOURED with BILAL AND WHO EVER ELSE  you only played one show for, ok, maybe two, but that's not enough to say… I've toured with this guy and that girl, or guy, whatever you wanna call it.
You get my point!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Parents Gotta Fly Too!

My Parents

Day 6 I believe it is! I'm putting my body through a no carbs routine…. I told myself that I can go maybe ten days or more without them, so here I am. I believe it might be day 7 though  if I'm not mistaken.

So far, so good. I tried it last year, for about twelve days and I literally went down a shirt size. I was amazed, like anyone would be, but at the same time, it really made me realize all the junk and sugar that my body doesn't need but craves.
I ate fruit instead of eating candy and sugar loaded calorie cakes. You know, the brownies, and 7up punned cakes and honey buns.

Dried fruit like mango and cranberries do the trick sometimes, even red grapes can help. 
The night time comes, and I'm looking around for any type of sugar i can get. It's a tuff fight but I made it through so far.

ANyway, enough with that, I wanted to write today because something was on my mind, and I thought i would share with you guys.

I started to write an email to my parents, particularly my mom because she has a fear of flying but she's always talking about seeing the world and everything.
As I begin to type, I said to myself, you are not the only one in the world that has parents who have a fear of flying, so maybe if you shared a blog, not to personal, it could inspire someone's else folks to make the step as well.
Who knows, whatever, but its true.

How many times can you get on a plane and get to your destination of choice and not be fulfilled to the point where you bring back bits and pieces of a culture you've never experienced before?

I do it all the time when I travel. To those who know a little about me, know that I've been all over the world and back multiple times in these amazing countries, continents, whatever.
You always bring a piece of it back with you, whether its food, being introduced to a new drink, clothing, or more importantly, a new setting in your mind, exploring a world of so many beautiful things to see. 
Why sit around when you can go anywhere you like. You have a vacation time, and all you do is sit around and rest and maybe travel to a nearby beach, that you've been to a dozen or more times.

Let's take my Mother and Father for instance, and maybe they will kill me, but for over a decade now, they have had the privilege to get a on plane and fly anywhere they could ever imagine…. FOR FREE….. now we all know what that means if you have a sibling working for the airport, then you know what those perks are.

For at least ten years or more now, and not one flight out!

What I wanna tell them is, flying has become apart of our everyday lives, people get up every morning to take a flight somewhere, everyday!
The fear of flying leaves you once you get in the air, and when you think about the destination of your trip and why your going there, it really relaxes you and help you deal with being thirty thousand feet in the air.

For years, my parents would travel to Wildwood New jersey to relax for their summer vacation and they would often include the rest of my siblings to come, and you know me, I'm complaining the entire way there because I'm feeling like, well, i just came from europe or somewhere and now we are headed to wildwood?
Not to sound like a snob, but the point that I'm getting at is, I go to these beautiful places in the world, and most the time, I'm thinking, wow, my family would love to be in this atmosphere, only if my parents could see where I'm staying, Only if they could see how blue the water is and how close the mountains are to you.

Only if they could experience walking through customs with their passports entering another country, the joy of getting multiple stamps in your passports to outline all the traveling you've done, sometimes that's fun.

There were times when I would walk around the streets of Paris or even the south of France thinking to myself, wow, it's amazing here, My mom would love it here, and my dad would enjoy it too.
Imagine how their faces would be standing next to the Eiffel Tower taking all the coolest pictures with their iphones, posting on their Facebook accounts. 
My Mom loves the spirit of Christmas, so imagine her walking through the streets of Avenue des Champs-Elysees during Christmas time.
Im sure she would be geeked!
Even the beach scene in the daytime in Miami is ideal, and the plane ride isn't that long.

I always suggested Florida for their first time going on a plane, it's quick and easy to get it over with….

My main goal of writing this, is because I've seen so many places this world has to offer, It wouldn't be right if my family, or yours doesn't do or see some of the same things. 
It kills me to come home, and have a gathering and say, Oh, I don't eat that anymore, I went to 

One of the problems with America…. stubborn, thinking this is the only place to be in the world.

It's designed to almost never having to leave it.  The cultures of the world and what is has to offer is not important to everybody so they don't bother trying to explore any other.
It's funny, my mom has me bringing her fridge magnets from all of the places I've been to, and now, there's magnets from all over the place, I use to wonder would that help her get closer to getting on a plane herself, but it never worked.

People…..encourage your folks to go and see the world and  explain to them how important it is to take in all these cultures.

For years they have been raising us, to be the best we can be, and now, they have the chance to reward themselves with the privilege of flying to a cool destination…. make them go. I'm About to!

See the world Mom and Dad… you will never regret it! I've added some pictures throughout my journey for you guys to look foward too in your future travel.

Since I'm new to this, I thought i would share some new beats for you all.

Nice Hotel Beds
California of course!
Switzerland( And Please take your time to look at this picture, its amazing )
California Venice Beach
Atlanta When it snows

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What I'm Thinking Right Now

It's been a while since I last wrote in my blog, but trying to be the stronghold of many things at one time can be a bit challenging.
It's Life and all, but it can get a little crazy.

Well, whats on my mind today? A few things, and i wanted to address them so that people will have a full understanding for what I'm about to say.

First, I wanna start off by saying, who gave musicians, Older ones, the right to look down and talk to younger musicians any way they feel?
It's mind boggling because for one, if you have a bunch of talent and your gifted, To me, I believe God gave you that talent to perform and be able to share and give back to a younger generation.
He did not give you the gift and say, Ok, now that your amazing in many eyes, go out and act a fool, as if every young talented person is beneath you.
Your suppose to embrace a young and hungry one, give them the chance and opportunity to grow, the same way someone did for you.
I don't get why people like the idea of having some crew suck up to them, telling them what to do, and how to play and what not to say. I will never get that.
Just like I was brought in, that person was giving back valuable information that led me to the path of leading folks myself, but only to become a true leader for their own operation one day soon.

Some cats end up playing on gigs, they are surrounded by a crew of yes people, the gig is high profile, but once your back home, its over, maybe to some degree its added to your legacy, but it lets be fair here, its really not giving you the reason to feel like your some type of Pope, Chancellor, President, or whatever.
Your not doing anything special by coming home and dressing fly and looking down over a younger generation.

In my eyes, your not setting a good and honest example that others have set for you before you were even thinking of becoming whatever you call yourself to be now.

I guess your wondering what happened to make me write this? Cool I'll tell you.

I just witnessed a scene at a "JAM SESSION"  and that clearly means you are playing at free will, not on a gig, under the instruction by a "MD" just having fun, playing some whack cover tunes or whatever you do at a jam session.

How does it come to the point where you are instructing cats what to play and how to play it?
It really bothered me because it wasn't like some kind of learning shed where your trying to school somebody on how to play something, if you wanna tell people what to do and have them like a slave, like you been doing all your playing career, then get your own stage, your own gig, and your own band!
Don't come to a public place where cats are waiting to get on and play and have fun. Don't do it.. and if your gonna even come to such a place and your so called respected by what you do…. then just play and shut the fuck up man…nobody wants  to play with a drill sargent at a damn jam session… if you want your own exclusive one, then start it.

That situation made me realize who I am and what I'm about man, its sad….I'm from a generation of some really talented cats and thats a big understatement by far. But again, it doesn't give us the right to treat this younger generation of musicians a certain way.
Here's a few pointers…
Instead of trying to be this so called leader…realize that, information you hold in your stupid ass brain can help others, and also know that there is a way of communicating to  people, that you can be assertive without looking like a dick.

I have this thing where, people respect what I do, its for a reason, and that's all i can do is continue using this gift that God gave me. In situations where there is any kind of dispute of doubt of… my work can do the talking.
I won't have to argue with someone to get a point across. The way i see it…. If your dope and  we are in eachother's presence, then thats enough for me.. i don't really need to tell you anything at all, But i can show you my path, only because I was before you.. and that your talent alone will help you catch up and get to the point of being a dope musician, or whatever you want to be. That's what you do with a younger dope cat, just show them the lane… and let their talent do the rest!

On the other side of things…Imagine being in the industry… and your doing a bunch of visual things for people to see.

In this time and age, entertainers, producers, and singers are more accessible through social media platforms, giving a hands on connection to people you wouldn't be able to contact a few years back.

You could say something like, hey man, lets work, here's a link to my music… check me out.

It's that easy right? Right.
So that moment when someone reaches out to you and your already at a point where you are known for working with an elite crew of people………….And they send you links to their music, and it's mediocre! How do you break it to them without them feeling like, man, this guy thinks he's better then me, blah blah blah…….It's pretty simple, everybody started from somewhere at some point in their life, and there is always room for growth, but you have to come in it with something, someone has to see and hear something special in your, and todays time. it's easy as clicking on a link they sent you and if its good, its good, if it has potential, then thats another way in to building something… but if its right off the top bad…then what else can you do.

You can't be the savior for everybody, you can't just take in talent just because.

If your talented and have a special gift… Believe that In some kind of way, your gonna be doing what it is you love, when you don't force things and feel like your suppose to be doing something you think you should, then it happens with no time.
 Thats all…
Be good peoples… enjoy your summer!
Bilal on a salad Break....
Not really being Innovative, but creating a sound of my own
Taking a break watching Magic City on starz
Tracking in the studio.. of course
Tone Whitfield Bass
Recording the New Bilal Album