Category Archives: Texas
In a refurbished rowhouse in Houston’s Third Ward, I was privy to one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life, and this was just a rehearsal.
In September of 2008, a few days after Hurricane Ike had ripped through the Gulf Coast, I received a phone call from my friend Justin.
me: What’s up man?
Justin: I’m starting a band.
Justin: I’m starting a band.
me: Oh cool. With who?
Justin: Fran, Carlos, Denis and his brother Abel.
Justin is one of those frustratingly talented friends whose creations leave you both happy and tormented. Happy because of the quality, tormented because of the lapses in between. Since I met him I knew he was supposed to do something special, important.
I’d seen him through two production crews, Underground Station (with Carlos) & Neon Collars (with Denis) and some forays an MC. All of which I thought had amazing potential and promise. But something was always amiss. There were elements or a vibe that was not completely there. The band made sense. It felt like a natural progression, the evolution of his previous bodies of work.
And then there’s Fran. Her talent is undeniable. There’s so much passion and pain and confusion and hope and sorrow and yearning in that voice. It’s humanity, weaved and sewn into notes and melodies. And it escapes from her body with such an intense yearning. It’s as if her words are messages from another world sent to save you from some impending, steadily approaching doom; light amidst so much darkness. This is coupled with this uncanny, yet natural way of making you fall in love with her. Her presence instantly puts you at ease yet demands your attention, or better yet you eagerly offer it.
A collaboration between these two spirits potentially possessed a power that was truly world changing, if only individual worlds, if only one at a time. Just the thought of it had formed synapses in my brain that redefined possibility and reshaped my own potential. This is why I knew it would work. This is why I was excited about it.
Actually, I was more than just excited. I remember feeling a sense of relief. What they were committing to do was important; it were as if it proved something. That something was possible. That purposes and passions will align and seek others of their kind, a confirmation long awaited and much desired.
After what I was told was a very exciting meeting and introduction, Justin Lewis, Franchelle Lucas, Carlos Conway, Denis and Abel Cisneros formed Neon Collars, the band.
For the next 2 months I waited, painstakingly, to hear just a snippet of anything they had produced. I would drive by the rehearsal space, call random band members during rehearsal time, offer to cater, but to no avail. When I was finally invited to witness, it was much more than I ever knew to expect. In a refurbished rowhouse in Houston’s Third Ward, I was privy to one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life, and this was just a rehearsal.
At this point in time they were preparing for their first gig, The Project Row Houses Fall Festival. This is a community festival that often serves as a platform to showcase the art of Project Row Houses‘ friends and community partners, that happens in the Third Ward Community of Houston, TX.
The buzz about the band had circulated quickly throughout the community, as we were all familiar fans of the individual members’ solo efforts, so this was the majority of the audience. While we were all in ecstatic joy and excitement with the first notes, the experience became ethereal when these sounds became present in the eardrums and the spirits of unsuspecting people passing by in the neighborhood. It was as if the songs possessed a gravity that they couldn’t escape.
For the next 30 minutes we all were exposed to a world we had never experienced before.
It was rough, organic, unpolished and beautiful. It was the music of purposes aligned for a moment in time. I loved it because it was proof that diligence and passion and faith truly do produce sweet fruit.
Saw this while I was perusing the innanetz a few days ago. I’m always happy to see anything with Erykah Badu in it. She could be sitting in a room eating chocolate pudding for 12 minutes and I would probably watch the entire video…twice. I just love this woman. But after watching the video up above, that quote lingered with me long after my 4th viewing. Had me itching to hear & see more, especially anything from this new project. And then Saturday came.
After I recovered from the screaming fit I launched into, I clicked + listened. I’ll do my best here to explain the experience in words. Fairly certain I will not achieve full accuracy. Your forgiveness, I seek. Here goes:
Listening to this song is like being wrapped in your favorite blanket, near a fire, after finishing your favorite meal at the end of a bad day in a series of bad days. I was equal parts content, pensive, sad and hopeful.
Went back to the twitter machine after I listened. Discovered that the song had actually been leaked last night and what I saw was a RT + credits. And just below the post above, in her feed, was this:
However at 3:34 (Dallas Time) I was sorely disappointed. It took another hour and nine minutes for me to see any artwork or read any lyrics. But it’s Erykah, she may be late, but she always delivers. So all is always easily forgiven.
Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve probably already read the lyrics and seen said artwork. Which is why I’m not writing this a “a leak” or a “world exclusive.” It’s not what we do here.
Instead I’m taking this as an opportunity to talk about an artist who is effortlessly inspiring. Who embodies that which Subjunctif is founded on: honesty, integrity and passion; three things missing from the majority of the content we are blasted with, unsolicited, on a day to day, minute by minute, second by second basis.
So assuming you have read & seen this I won’t bother with a copy/paste. I’ll jump back into my [original point] story.
After reading the lyrics and seeing the artwork I realized how much of art is the heart behind the expression. Even after reading the lyrics I cannot fully express to you what she was attempting to say. But I understand it, because I feel it. Which may have been her intention when she sat down to create.
It’s refreshing to know that there are still artists out there that invest wholistically in their craft; where so many not only settle for, but focus on creating quick, individually sliced representations of their gifts. The argument maybe that this is easy for an established artist, like Ms. Badu, but not practical for an artist yet to establish her voice to not make the single their number one priority. Yet, why would you put anything less than your all into everything you produce?