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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Afropunk Fest

Jada Pinkett Smith performs with
her metal band Wicked Wisdom
Afropunk Fest, which began in 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has gained some notoriety for being one of the most diverse music festivals in the country. Afropunk co-founder Matthew Morgan said that the term was first coined by Mr. Morgan and James Spooner in the 2003 documentary "Afro-Punk" as a very literal description of black people who liked punk music. See Afropunk on Facebook.

Punk is an essence and a mind-set even more than a particular type of music. Miles Davis, even in jazz, when he started experimenting with free-form jazz, that was very punk for that time.

This year's festival was as large as it was diverse. The New York Police Department estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 people gathered in at Commodore Barry Park on Saturday alone.

The festival's musical talent reinforced that assertion, boasting a wide-ranging lineup of artists from heavy metal band Wicked Wisdom (now Wicked Evolution), with Jada Pinkett Smith as its lead singer, to Vintage Trouble, which mixes rock with liberal influences from 1950s and '60s rock 'n' roll, funk and R&B.

Vintage Trouble's lead singer, Ty Taylor, said Vintage Trouble came together in 2010 because the four members wanted to form a band that wouldn't constrain them musically. Like many of the bands at Afropunk, Vintage Trouble gleefully tramples all over the neat edges of any given genre, instead just making music that sounds good to them. Each song on their first album, "The Bomb Shelter Sessions," was recorded live in the studio to create a fresh, authentic sound."

The real advantage of Afropunk, both its growing online presence and the festival, is that it provides a platform for people who see themselves as misfits, and allows them to more easily connect with others, regardless of their background or race. When Jimi Hendrix was making rock music, he didn't make black rock. He made rock.  (WSJ, 8/26/2013)
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