I Was There: All Hail The TINA BELL & BAM BAM Seattle All-Star Tribute Review!


Photo By: Chris Nelson

VENUE: The Central Saloon 

CURATOR: Om Johari 

SINGERS: 

Om Johari (Hell’s Belles, Re-Ignition)

Eva Walker  (the Black Tones) 

Shaina Shepherd (BEARAXE) 

Dejha  (The Union Gospel) 

D’mitra (Ex’s with Benefits) 

BAND: 

Drums: Matt Cameron (Bam Bam, Skin, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam)

Guitar: Stone Gossard: (Green River, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam)

Guitar: Kendall Jones: (Fishbone) 

Guitar: Ayron Jones: (Ayron Jones Band)

Bass: Jenelle Roccaforte: (Montral Latin Blues) 

DJ: C-Note 

BAM BAM (Band Members In Attendance): 

Scott Ledgerwood (Bassist/Vocalist)

Matt Cameron (Drums) 

Tom Hendrickson (Bam Bam’s 2nd drummer)


Photo By: Samantha Hollins

July 9, 2021 I went from my home in Delaware through the most majestic portal that was timeless, yet nostalgic. As I entered the Central Saloon in Seattle, WA with my assistant Chris Nelson, it was lit with star dust that flickered over an enchanting mural of the late great Tina Bell. It felt like we were standing amidst a sacred space, right next to her illuminated throne. 

The allure of DJ C-Note’s set gave us an invigorating soundscape to catch a vibe, while we patiently awaited it to enter the stage & wreck havoc. This was the venue’s first show after 15 months. The golden tickets were sold out as quickly as they went on sale for $150 a pop. If you were there you knew you were about to witness something magical. You could literally feel the energy ready to bounce off the walls. The echo of indigenous rhythms cleared the way for a iconic night! A fierce Bad Brains tribute band called Re-ignition led by the amazing Om Joharirecharged our energy. Much respect to Om for putting her whole foot in the groundwork of this tribute!


Photo By: Samantha Hollins

The room was amplified with the potent voices of Eva Walker (The Black Tones), Shaina ShepherdDejha, D’mitra Smith (Ex’s With Benefits), Om Johari (Re-Ignition & Hell’s Belles). They channeled the mighty mojo that embodied the true essence of Tina Bell’s melodic spell. To have a whole new generation of melanated Seattle women paying homage to their hometown Shero, was more than entertainment. It was a history lesson that had the spotlight on our attention. From “Ground Zero” to  “Free Fall From Space” we took flight upon vocal dynamite spitting; classic fire.

The all-star band featuring Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, & Bam Bam), Kendall Rey Jones (Fishbone), Jenelle Roccaforte (Montreal Latin Blues), Ayron Jones and Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam) created an atmosphere very akin to Bam Bam’s musical ascent. They played in tones that honored them wholeheartedly. It was so surreal to hear all those dirty hypnotic chord structures and vocal sirens, that are usually associated with bands like Nirvana, find it’s way back home to Bam Bam. When I spoke with Scott Ledgerwood (Bam Bam bassist/vocals) after the show the magnitude of emotion amidst his conversation was overflowing with gratitude. Him confirming this venue was totally aligned with the archives of Grunge. This was truly a special time for his musical contributions to be honored. He has been preserving Bam Bam and uplifting the memory of Tina Bell endlessly. 


Photo By: Chris Nelson

The most captivating scene of the evening was when Tina Bell and Tommy Martin’s son, T.J. Martin (award winning filmmaker), ascended on stage reciting the sweetest stories about his parents. He dug up his roots through his mama’s childhood leading up to her meeting his dad. While we were all living in our Bam Bam moment, those songs were the lineage of his childhood. What a profound statement he made when he said that his parents gave birth to two children: him and Bam Bam. They ultimately raised a new sub-genre that the  world is still adores. 

For some it was like a family reunion, For others it was a pathway of memories. For those of us who never had a chance to experience Bam Bam live, we were holding tight to every sound-wave that played over and under us. It brought us as close as we could possibly get to their contiguous music that inevitably transformed what became Grunge. I got so caught up in the music that I was not ready to let go. Experiencing original Bam Bam drummer Matt Cameron as the heartbeat of the tribute was a  symbolic gratification that melted our faces. Seeing MattScott “Buttucks” Ledgerwood and Tom Hendrickson under the same roof was as real as the doors they broke down in the music industry (that started in 1983-1990). By the end of this historic concert Tina Bell and Bam Bam became even more legendary in my eyes. By the look of all of the phenomenal performers, the future of the Seattle sound has been elevated by the descents of Rock-n-Roll past and they are reinventing it to another level. May we continue to pass it on and celebrate the culture that Tina Bell and Bam Bam ignited amidst the foundation of Grunge. If Nirvana and Pearl Jam are inducted in the Rock Hall Of Fame and the Foo Fighters are being inducted, you already know what should happen next! Give them their mutha Punkin’ flowers! 


Photo By: Samantha Hollins

R.I.P. Tina Bell and Tommy Martin

For more information on Tina Bell and Bam Bam go to:

https://buttocksproductions.com/

Check out my Culture Rock Griot with Bam Bam drummer/vocalist Scotty “Buttucks” Ledgerwood (published on Tina Bell’s birthday February 5, 2021) here:

https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/pioneer-report-scotty-buttocks-ledgerwood-of-bam-bam-sets-the-crown-straight-on-grunge-queen-tina-bell/?fbclid=IwAR3Xt04SoXikPU1tMQGr4T882XRCvDR-R1CF8wKQUcht8oEghqn4LW0spHw


Photo By: Samantha Hollins

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

The Culture Rock Griot Live:

Dag Tenere: Translating The Desert Blues Of Niger



The lineage of the Blues is planted amidst ancient African sounds that followed the diaspora somewhere between the crossroads of the USA and back again. This ever evolving sounds is in the DNA of what’s internationally known as the Desert Blues in Niger. When I came across a band called Dag Terere based in Niger, something about their music resonating with my soul. My ears where like a magnet to their new EP “Iswat” (released on June 4th and available on all music platforms). My body danced with the beauty of their deep rooted percussion, layered in electrifying guitars and adorned with mystifying vocals. “Iswat” takes you to the core of how Dag Tenere continues to preserve their culture. I was extremely captivated and wanted to learn more. Check out my intriguing interview with Dag Terere.

Band members and positions:

– Ibrahim Ahmed Guita: songwriter/performer (guitar, voice).

– Goumar Abdoul Jamil: songwriter/performer (guitar, voice).

– Zaid Ag Abdoul Jamil: performer (guitar accompaniment).

– Zaina Aboubacar: performer (tendé, voice).

– Zouher Aroudaini: performer (bass).

– Gousmane Goumar “Tandja”: performer (djembe, calabash).

– Makata W. Assaleh: performer (backing vocals).

Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 

Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with the electrifying sound of Rock-n-Roll? 

Dag Tenere: We have been playing music since we were teenagers. Our main influences are Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré. People say it is “African Blues” or “Tuareg Rock”, but we often play without knowing it’s Rock or Blues. We just like the sound of the guitars and we try to create our own style.

Samantha Hollins: What is the language you speak and sing? 

Dag Tenere: Tamasheq (the language of the Tuaregs).

Samantha Hollins: What is the foundation of Desert Blues? How does your culture add to the foundation of your brand of Blues-Rock music?

Dag Tenere: We don’t say “Desert Blues”. We say “Teshumara” which means many things in Tamasheq. It’s the music of the “Ishumars“. It’s our nomadic way of life, etc. Music has a very important place in our culture and traditions. The music of the Ishumars was born at the end of the 70s with the creation of the group Tinariwen, which remains our reference. We also call this music “Assouf” which means nostalgia. This “new music” has as a base; the same rhythmic as the traditional Tamasheq music.

Samantha Hollins: Can you share a little about your traditional attire? It is so beautiful. 

Dag Tenere: Our traditional dress is generally composed of a boubou or dress, long or short, and leather sandals. Leather bags or purses may also be worn.  Men always wear the turban or tagelmust which can be 5 to 10 meters long. Women are not veiled and they like to wear jewelry.

Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 

Samantha Hollins: I love that the women in the band are just as prominent as the men. How do you keep that balance in a business that could be very male dominated? 

Dag Tenere: The Tuareg society is matriarchal. Women play a very important role and are free to make decisions. Women are highly respected. As far as music is concerned, it’s the women who mainly play the traditional instruments like the tendé or the imzad. We are very happy to have two talented women in our band.

Samantha Hollins: The sounds resonating from the drums while the guitars play is phenomenal. I would love to know more about traditional Tuareg drums.

Dag Tenere: We use several percussion instruments in our songs. First there is the djembe, although this instrument is not unique to Tuareg musicians, it is used throughout West Africa. Other traditional percussion instruments that we use are the tendé (a small drum made from a mortar, often played by women) and the assaqalabo (a kind of water drum made from a calabash). We also play with a simple half-calabash.

Samantha Hollins: I just adore string instruments. What’s the history of traditional guitars that are in Niger? Do you incorporate them in your production or shows? 

Dag Tenere: The Tuareg have the imzad as a traditional string instrument. It’s not a guitar but rather a viola made of half calabash, a goat skin and a stick that serves as a neck to which a string of horse hair is attached. It is not unique to Niger but to the Tuareg in general. The imzad is generally played by women. There is also the tehardent, which is like a three-stringed lute played by griots. In our shows we have not integrated traditional string instruments. We play with guitars (electric and acoustic) and bass.

Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 


Samantha Hollins: Becoming one with the earth while playing music is such a powerful feeling. I see that you rehearse outside. How does your atmosphere influence your music? 

Dag Tenere: In the city we don’t like to rehearse very much because it’s confusing and we don’t have the space or the necessary conditions. We often have to rent a rehearsal room, especially if we have a concert or a recording. But what we prefer is to rehearse “in the bush”, in the nature, on the sand and with a good tea next to it. That’s how we find inspiration and feel more comfortable playing.

Samantha Hollins: In February 2018 you had a concert in a tent during a camel race. What was that like? What does the energy of Niger’s audiences feel like? 

Dag Tenere: It was very cool. We went the day before to see the camels arrive, we slept under the stars and the next day we saw the camel race. We were very happy because the winner was our uncle who is a camel driver. Afterwards we were invited to play under a Tamasheq tent, it was a bit improvised but it was very good.

The Nigerien public has a very good energy in concert. They like Tuareg music, especially thanks to our brother Bombino, a great guitarist from Niger.

Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 

Samantha Hollins: What is your music scene like? How does your band fit in? Do you ever tour? 

Dag Tenere: On stage we like to show ourselves as we are. We are all like a big family and we get along very well. Often, we play with other bands like Toumastine or TisDass. We are all brothers and we put out a good atmosphere. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to go on tour. In Niger there is almost no support for travel and the distances are very long. To go abroad you also need to have the means. Last year we were invited to participate in a festival in France, but because of the arrival of Covid our shows were cancelled. Let’s hope we can do a small tour soon.

Samantha Hollins: How important is the griot tradition in your music? 

Dag Tenere: The griot is a person highly respected by the Tuareg community. History is transmitted by the griots. He carries messages, he gives courage to men, he is the guardian of the oral, musical but also historical tradition. The griot is an untouchable person. One has the right to disturb or contradict him. He is the guardian of history.

Samantha Hollins: Although I don’t understand your language, I feel the vibration. When I hear your song,  “Animanghan”, the beautiful singing and instrumentation is so captivating. What is the story behind it? 

Dag Tenere: (Goumar) “Animanghan” is a song that speaks of times gone by. I composed it remembering my childhood with my family in Mali, when there was no war, when we could walk in the desert without problems, when there was peace and understanding between ethnic groups. It’s a song that speaks of nostalgia for the good times of the past.

(Ibrahim) The creative process often begins when I have a subject in mind that I want to talk about. We write songs to convey messages. Once I have the subject, I start to create the melody and then the lyrics come naturally. If we want to record a song, we can rent studios in Niamey. We don’t have the means to record outside. In 2018 we self-produced our first album (Timasniwen Tikmawen), recorded, mixed and mastered it in Niger. This year we will release our EP Iswat, recorded in Niamey but mixed and mastered in France (Studio Adjololo).

Samantha Hollins: I am a huge fan! I need to have your music in my hands. What’s does the future project for your band and where can we get recordings of your music? 

Dag Tenere: On 4 June this year we released our next work: an EP called “Iswat” composed of 6 tracks including 1 traditional song. We have worked hard in this album where we preferred not to use drums and use only traditional instruments for percussion. We are very happy with the result. Let’s hope that the public will like it too! The first single Tihoussay Tenere” became available April 23rd on all streaming platforms. You can also listen to our music in our bandcamp profile. Thanks a lot for the interview and for the interest in our band! We really appreciate it!

Thank you to NOMADA Music booking/management company for collaborating with me on conducting this phenomenal interview. Translation did not interrupt the awesome energy you exchanged throughout the whole process. I love the culture and your music!

Check out Dag Tenere’s album “Iswat” here and on all music platforms.

https://dagtenere.bandcamp.com

For more info go to: https://dagtenere.wixsite.com/info


Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 

Edited by: Ronin Ali Hollins

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

The HeART Of Kenya Beating In The Pulse Of Moses Akhonya’s Drums


Pulsating in a population of 500,000 amidst the Mathare Slums in Nairobi (Kenya) lives a mighty beat resonating in the heart of Moses Akhonya. Growing up in a rough atmosphere still cultivated beautiful culture. It is the seed that ultimately planted his percussive roots. With the constant struggle of gathering enough funds for everyday living, school and his passion for drums, Moses is rich with confidence, perseverance and creative energy. He is so determined to manifest his purpose in the palms of his hands.

When I came across Moses featured in a news clip on Instagram, he was being mentored by renowned Kenyan percussionist Kasiva Mutua. That impactful moment made me curious to know about his back story.

Samantha Hollins: How old are you? How old were you when you started drumming?

Moses Akhonya: I’m 17 years old and I started my journey of percussion when I was 13 years old.

Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with the culture of rhythm?

Moses Akhonya:  I fell in love with the culture of rhythm in the year 2017. There is where I had the affection for drumming.

Samantha Hollins: What story do you hope to tell with your drums? 

Moses Akhonya: It has been my greatest dream to tell my drum story and my journey and the people’s story.

Samantha Hollins: As I watch you perform I see star energy. Tell me about how your background as a dancer influenced your presence on drums? You are so amazing! 

Moses Akhonya: Before drumming I was a dancer; dancing traditional dances. It was not an easy task. Because I had no money to pay my fees and once I got a gig as a dancer I would take the money paid and pay my school fees because here in Nairobi, Kenya not all families are well financially. As time went on my love for drums began because I was seeing people playing and I would love for me to be in their shoes playing those drums.

Samantha Hollins: Music can be very healing and inspirational! What does drumming heal inside of you? What do you want your music to give to your culture and the world? 

Moses Akhonya: The drum heals me in a very sympathetic way. Without music there’s no joy and without joy there’s no music. I take percussion as my job. It’s like any other job; just like being a surgeon. The only difference is that they use scalpels to operate on patients but for us we use drums to entertain.

I want my drum music to help me…to be one of the best percussionists in the world…to be one who attains the best gigs…to be a world touring percussionist and to continue with the same spirit paying out my fees through these cheap gigs because there’s no one who can support me through my education.

Samantha Hollins: You stated that “without music there’s no joy and without joy there’s no music”. With that in mind, I would like to know one thing that music has brought into your life that may have not existed without music? 

Moses Akhonya: Music has taught me a variety of things. First of all I wouldn’t have known you if it weren’t for music. I have met some great percussionists like Kasiva Mutua. These are people I wouldn’t have met if it were not for music.

Samantha Hollins: You speak very highly of your mentors. What does it mean to have that element supporting your passion? 

Moses Akhonya: It feels so fresh and fantastic having mentors by my side supporting my journey. They are there when I need them and they give me every detail and dynamics of playing the percussion.

Samantha Hollins: I’ve noticed that you play an array of  percussion. What drums do you feel you connect with most? 

Moses Akhonya: I play a variety of drums. For instance: djembe, conga, lead drums (bunde), bum bum and small percussions. I am still learning guitar.

Samantha Hollins: I have a 6 year old son name Jembé, who plays percussion and drums. I would love for him to jam with you someday. Can you give him and all the beautiful children that watch you words of wisdom? I can tell by watching your videos that children see something powerful in you. 

Moses Akhonya: It would be very nice for me to jam with Jembé! Tell him that he should never give up. There is a long way to go…and to all the kids who want to be percussionists and drummers: what I can tell you is to focus and love it and then it will come slowly by slowly. These are words of wisdom by Mosse percussionist.

Samantha Hollins: I love watching your journey on Instagram. What can we expect from you upon your drumming journey? 

Moses Akhonya: I would like you to promote me by finding me support through my education; to get somebody who can support me with basic necessities like food, clothes and shelter and school because I live in slums here in Mathare. My mother does casual jobs by which she cannot cater for my education.

Samantha Hollins: Tell me a little more about your background growing up in Nairobi, Kenya. How do you find positivity out of the not so good times?

Moses Akhonya: In our family we are made up of like 11 people. I stay with my grandma, my mommy, two uncles and two aunties. I have four cousins and one brother. I don’t have a dad, he abandoned my mother when I was still in the womb. My family feels so great that I’m a percussionist and that I have ambitions to achieve. They are always supportive of me. They know that one day I will go far and change their lives and rescue them from poverty.

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya living in Mathare slums. It is the second largest slum in Kenya. I have been working with an organization called Slum Children Project. Sincerely speaking, without percussion I would have been a thief or a drug addict. Here in slums life is not easy. I have been going through hardships like paying fees, not so well clothing and not the best diet. I would sometimes get a gig and the money I get paid I take it and save so that I would pay my fees. I would find positivity out of these hardships through percussion and drumming. They could at least keep me busy. Percussion is my everything.

Samantha Hollins: If you could collaborate with any artist in the world who would it be? 

Moses Akhonya: I would like to play with famous Gambian player Sona jobarteh, Fatoumata diawara and famous female percussionist in Burkina Faso called Melissa hié. 

Samantha Hollins: Thank you so much for this interview. You are so amazing and I know you will be an inspiration to many. Play on for the world to hear!

It is so vital that we as a village continue to cultivate our youth. If you would like to mentor, sponsor or contribute to Moses Akhonya’s future in any form, you can email him at mosesakhonya04@gmail.com.

To stay connected to Moses Akhonya music journey subscribe to his YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/0FHC2Ijk8_k

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations:

The Rock-N-Roll Mama Chronicles With Artemis “Byrd” Jasper


Photos Courtesy of Artemis “Byrd” Jasper 

Being a Rock-n-Roll Mama can be as heavy as Metal and even more rewarding than a Grammy. The balancing act is a sacrifice for mama and her little wings. That maternal instinct can conjure mom guilt, while that musical passion can  help pay the bills and give her inner peace. Somewhere in between we must find that happy place for ourselves, our children and our partners in rhyme. Not one story is the same, but maybe if we exchange our experiences, we can find similarity enough to realize that we are not alone and that our village can extend to each other. Here is a Rock-n-Roll mom narrative about a young lady named Artemis “Byrd” Jasper who put her love for music to the side, but is gradually coming back to it. 

Samantha Hollins: Tell me about who you are as an artist?

Artemis Jasper: I’m a simple Southern girl who been through a lot and wants to sing out her pain, experiences, triumphs, highs and lows. I just want to sing and compose music. I hope to one day have an EP and it touches people like me who never felt like they “fit in”. I make songs for the underdog. Rock, Folk, Blues are my genres cause they give me the space to hurt, to get over something, to scream out when the world wants me to shut up. 

Samantha Hollins: When did your passion for music start?  

Artemis Jasper: Very young. My father is a drummer and his passion for music trickled down to me. My favorite thing about going to church was the music. Every time someone sang at the altar I always wanted to trade places with them. 

Samantha Hollins: Where are you from? How did that atmosphere shape you as an artist?

Artemis Jasper: I’m from Memphis, Tennessee. I had a hard time coming of age there, but I am very proud of my roots and where I come from. It took me some time to get here. I am an Army veteran and been away from my hometown for some time, but I realized at some point I had to be proud of where I’m from and embrace the rich musical history that it has…and that would never leave me no matter how hard I try. My roots will always be in my music.


Photos Courtesy of Artemis “Byrd” Jasper 

Samantha Hollins: When you became a mom and wife did you feel like you had to give up being a creative artist? Did anyone ever make you feel that way? If so how did you overcome that? 

Artemis Jasper: I definitely hate that I felt that way but I did feel that as a Mom and a wife. My creative endeavors and things that I wanted to do as an artist was too late. I put down music and various other things that I do artistically. My music suffered the most. Last year I picked up a guitar and I got lessons, not even cause I wanted to be a guitarist as much as I wanted to be musical again and tap back into something that was inside of me that I could never shake off. Music is my life, my real life partner and for so long I abandoned her…and I am doing my best now to make it up to her and all she’s done for me . 

Samantha Hollins: How many children do you have and how old are they? 

Artemis Jasper: I have 4, aged 12, 9, 4 and 3. 

Samantha Hollins: Being a Rock-n-Roll mama is a true balancing act. How do you find time to stay creative? 

Artemis Jasper: It is very hard. I don’t want my kids to see me in my element in something I love and I am angry and frustrated with them because I can’t get something done. I try to sometimes get them into the things that I’m doing in hopes that they see that this is something very special to me and it’s a beautiful thing that mommy is making music. Also I live with my best friend and we raise our kids together…and she was very supportive of everything I’m trying to do musically and her support has been my rock. Sometimes she’ll see that I’m writing a song or trying to learn a song on my guitar and she’ll distract the babies for me while I’m trying to let the creative energy out. I don’t know if I’d be able to do this without her.

Samantha Hollins: Do you have a sacred space that you can work on your projects with no interruptions? 

Artemis Jasper: My closet for now is where I record; also I carved out a little space in my living room with my guitar hanging on the wall and I have a little music stand there where I write songs and practice. They know that they shouldn’t interrupt me when I’m making music but they’re so tiny that it happens. Thanks to my best friend, my sister/partner-in-crime, it happens a lot less then it probably would if I was here alone with my kids.

Samantha Hollins: A lot of times when our little ones watch and hear us create it is passed on to them. Do any of your children seem to be following in your musical footsteps? 

Artemis Jasper: My daughter has a great voice but she’s a little shy. I’m trying my best to get her out of that. My youngest, my four year old, he loves music. He’s very musically judgmental; my harshest critic. I would not be surprised if any of them told me one day they wanted to be a rapper or something but I do try to pass on all of the musical knowledge I have if it means opportunities for them just having musical literacy. 


Photos Courtesy of Artemis “Byrd” Jasper 

Funny story: my kids were playing charades one day and my four year old got “Drums”, and he started to motion like he was playing the bass drum like he’s in an HBCU marching band! It was adorable and the funniest thing, to see how my musical tastes and the culture I expose them to impacts them! 

Samantha Hollins: Leaving can be quite hard to do. What did it feel like when you had to travel/tour without your child for the first time? 

Artemis Jasper: It was hell on my mental. I am in Army veteran and the first time I had to leave my baby to go train was the day I did not want to be in the service anymore. As a musician I struggle with it now. Of course I’m gonna have to travel and do shows where my kids can’t come with but they have my best friend, their dads and people who love them and support me. I think we’ll be fine in the event I had to travel for work, although I would miss them to pieces. They’re my little ducklings we go everywhere and do everything together. 

Samantha Hollins: I know sometimes that babysitting plan don’t always workout. I also know children can be unpredictable. Were there times you had to cancel an engagement or take your child with you? What did you learn from those moments?

Artemis Jasper: Oh I have been in this position more times than I want to admit. I missed opportunities because I could not find a babysitter.  I missed opportunities because I showed up late or with kids in tow. As an artist it kind of makes you feel inadequate that you can not create and get your vision out to the masses at the same rate you see your childless peers do. I believe that my ancestors and the most high are watching over me and my children. And any opportunity that I miss as a result of being a mom wasn’t for me, and my time will come even if it’s not as soon as I want.

Samantha Hollins: What is the most amazing and valuable thing you’ve learned from motherhood that you can apply to your career journey? 

Artemis Jasper: What I learned from motherhood is how to love unconditionally and accept things for what they are; thinking fast and problem-solving. I look at songs that I write as almost babies that need to be nurtured nursed and grow organically through love commitment and compassion

Samantha Hollins: What do you want your children to learn from witnessing your evolution as a mom and artist? 

Artemis Jasper: I want them to know that they are never too small to do any of the big things that they ever wanna do in this world. I hope that they feel like they come from good stock and that there’s nothing that they can not do…that mom had a vision and she had a passion and she didn’t let anything come between her and that no matter who told her it was too late or it was a hobby or that nothing will come of it…

Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock-n-Roll? Do your little ones dig Rock music? 

Artemis Jasper: I’m a 90s millennial born in the late, very late 80s and I can’t remember when I fell in love with Rock. I always grew up with it and it was a big part of 90s culture so it stuck with me throughout the years. Rock music had a very significant impact on my formative years. Women like KelisAlanis Morissette and Courtney Love…the way they sang the screams…That feminine rage was always so cathartic to me and I always wanted to be like them and make music like them. Beautiful women, powerful women but also in pain. I’m not stuffing that pain down to make people comfortable. I always thought that was so beautiful. 

Samantha Hollins: What is the most vital thing you want to shift into your legacy? 

Artemis Jasper: I want my children to be proud of themselves and where they come from. I want them to use their creative gifts, to have a positive impact on the people in their lives. I hope they know they have a bad-ass Rock and Roll mama doing her best to break generational curses so they can be happy and care-free Rock ‘n’ Roll Black kids. 


Photos Courtesy of Artemis “Byrd” Jasper 

Samantha Hollins: Thank you Artemis “Byrd” Jasper for sharing your Rock-n-Roll Mama heartstrings! I am inspired and wish you prosperous vibrations. I look forward to witnessing your journey and will keep our Culture Rock Griot audience updated on your forthcoming music.

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

Pioneer Report: The Power Of Black Merda’s Place In Rock History

Photo Courtesy Of Vc L. Veasey


1968 was a significant year to debut as a Rock band of African descent. Coming off the heels of the 1967 Detroit Riots (confrontation between Black residents and the police) into the 1968 Detroit Riots (after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), you can hear that trance of heavy, rhythmic energy in Black Merda’s music.  With the backstory of the the Vietnam War going on and the Peace and Love movement slowly coming to an end, Black Merda helped to ignite the soundtrack of a prolific era while representing what was considered to be the first all Black Funk-Psychedelic-Rock bands. 

Pioneers are usually the ones who shift things into something new but often don’t get the credit they deserve. When I discovered Black Merda’s discography I knew right away that they were apart of that legendary club that uprooted new grounds. What they created can not be denied if you research the evidence upon their musical timeline. From their humble beginnings that include session work with iconic recording artists to carving their own identity in the forefront of a whole new Rock era, let’s get to know know Black Merda through the testimony of VC L Veasey.

Photo Courtesy Of Vc L. Veasey


Samantha Hollins: Where is Black Merda from?

Vc L. Veasey: We’re from Detroit, M.I. but I and two others in the band were born in Mississippi…but grew up in Michigan; this Detroit area.

Samantha Hollins: Name each band member and the instrument/role they played in the band.

Vc L. Veasey: Me, VC Lamont Veasey aka VC L The Mighty V! Veasey: Guitar, bass, lead and background vocals.

Anthony (Wolf) Hawkins: lead guitar, lead and background vocals.

Charles (Charlie-Hawk) Hawkins: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, lead and background vocals.

Tyrone “Snake” Hite (deceased): drums, lead and background vocals. We were all songwriters.

Samantha Hollins: What year was your band established?

Vc L. Veasey: 1968…but before that Anthony Hawkins and I performed as a duo called Impact in 1959 and the early 1960s. I played rhythm guitar; Anthony played lead guitar. We also had a band called The Impact Band and Singers.

Samantha Hollins: When was the 1st time you fell in love with Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Vc L. Veasey: When I discovered Jimi Hendrix!

Samantha Hollins: Were you signed to any record labels, management deals or agencies?

Vc L. Veasey: We were signed with Chess Records in 1969 and our self-titled Black Merda album was released in 1970.

Photo Courtesy Of Vc L. Veasey


Samantha Hollins: What was your debut song, hit song or the song that your core fans will identify you with? 

Vc L. Veasey: “Cynthy Ruth” on our self-titled Black Merda Album. I think it was also released as a single.

Samantha Hollins: Oh, how I would have loved to have witnessed a Black Merda show! When did your band last rock together?

Vc L. Veasey: Late 1970s.

Samantha Hollins: What prominent venues or events has your band played?

Vc L. Veasey: The Apollo Theater in New York, The Winter Blast Festivals in Detroit, M.I….This was during mid to late 1960s.

Samantha Hollins: Tell us about the game changing role your band impacted in the Rock genre/sub Rock genre?

Vc L. Veasey: That’s a good question! We played Black Rock during a time when many Black bands weren’t. We were Psychfunk Rock but with lyrical messages addressing all the bad shit that was going on during Civil Rights Movement and protest movements.

Samantha Hollins: Where can your fans find your discography, band info or any websites to stay informed about your history or forthcoming projects? 

Vc L. Veasey: They should type Black Merda into Google and they should see many write ups on Black Merda.

Samantha Hollins: Inject your sage wisdom into the new generation of rockers.

Vc L. Veasey: If you’re gonna rock, rock with some wisdom and good spirit!

Samantha Hollins: Thank you Vc L. Veasey for sharing your prominent history with the Culture Rock Griot. 

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

The Susu Connection

The Library Of Griot Sage Presents: Rock ‘n’ Roll Heretic: The Life and Times of Rory Tharpe

A Novel By: Sikivu Hutchinson

Released: March 7, 2021


We are gradually moving into a powerful evolution of Black women in Rock! These stories have been barricaded for so long that they are being broken through (and breaking through) more and more each day. Seeing recording artist HER on the Super Bowl, legends like Malina Moye and Starr Cullars alongside new generation Rockers Guitar Gabby and the Nova Twins in guitar magazines has a new spotlight on what should have been celebrated long ago. With the iconic Betty Davis documentary, “They Say I’m Different” and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (The Mother of Rock ’n’ Roll) being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (in 2020), visibility is starting to surge.

The timing is perfect for renowned author/playwright/ educator Sikivu Hutchinson to release her new novel, Rock ‘n’ Roll Heretic: The Life and Times of Rory TharpeSikivu’s plugs into the 1970’s; chronicling the distorted obstacles of a Black, queer woman existing in Rock. Racism, sexism and ageism induced by the music industry takes Rory’s past trauma to the crossroads of her unsettling career. 

Sikivu Hutchinson has been captivating us with her unapologetic and thought provoking books including Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles; Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars; Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels; and White Nights, Black Paradise. The way she challenges us to examine ourselves versus surrendering to society’s ideology is what makes her work so necessary. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Heretic: The Life and Times of Rory Tharpe is a riveting tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. It exposes many hidden struggles that discredit Black women in Rock, while giving an unfiltered voice to their long-standing contributions. 

Go right here to purchase Sikivu Hutchinson‘s novel Rock ‘n’ Roll Heretic: The Life and Times of Rory Tharpe and to learn more about the characters: 

http://sikivuhutchinson.com/2021/03/07/rock-n-roll-heretic-rovers-loners-and-thieves/

To learn more about Sikivu Hutchinson, go to: http://sikivuhutchinson.com/

Go here to read Sikivu’s Huffpost article The Misogynoir of Rock: Shredding While Black and Female:

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_59782cb7e4b0940189700dc0


If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/blog-community-builder-fund/

Underground Rock Legends: Maya Mother Goddess: At The Headquarters Of A Super Shero Rocker


Photos courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

She descended onto the New York Rock scene like a mythical feature holding a fist full of indestructible power chords, vocal lightening, thunderous stage presence and majestic storylines that energized underground Punk in NYC. Her legend soars across time lines that helped to shape-shift a new era of Sista Grrrl Rockers. 

Samantha Hollins: Where are you originally from?

Maya Mother Goddess: I was born in St. Louis, Missouri but don’t remember much about it because we moved when i was a baby….other than awkward summers spent with my grandparents. My grade and high school years were spent in Texas. I went to Booker T. Washington performing arts high school in Dallas at the same time as Erykah Badu and Roy Hargrove. I ran away to NYC when I was 21; in 1994. Now I’m in Austin.


Photo courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

Samantha Hollins: What year did you start your music career?

Maya Mother Goddess: I started a band as soon as I graduated high school; when I was 17. The year was 1990 and the band was called What She Said. I played rhythm guitar and sang, fronting 3 Rockabilly guys…playing songs I wrote as a kid. Then I randomly ended up playing guitar in an all-female Hard Rock cover band in Akron, Ohio for like 4 months in ’92; then back home to another version of What She Said.

Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Maya Mother Goddess: Man, it’s been part of me for so long I don’t really remember. I do recall my older brother being really into KISS when he came back from the Army. He had a black light poster of them in his room that scared the crap out of me but also fascinated me when I was 4 years old. Later I would discover Joan Jett through someone at school when I was about 8 or 9 and she became my everything. I read every interview in every magazine I could find with her in it and imagined she was like my Fairy Godmother. Before Joan, my biggest inspiration was Diana Ross. She is the one who awakened my vision of being a larger than life stage performer. Then Joan came along and slapped an electric guitar and some attitude on that vision.


Photo courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

Samantha Hollins: Your guitar is like a majestic wound with strings when you play. When did you start playing? What was your inspiration? 

Maya Mother Goddess: Oh wow! I love that analogy! That’s amazing! I got my first electric guitar for Christmas when I was 12 years old. That would have been 1984 when lots of magical things were happening in music. I was still religiously obsessed with Joan Jett, but Purple Rain happened that year and that untouchable Prince magic was seeping into my bones too. I might have taken one or two lessons on an acoustic (guitar), but it bored me learning Folk songs from a guy who thought the music I liked was silly. I got the tablature book for the I Love Rock & Roll album and taught myself power chords.

I would study Joan’s hands in videos, play along with the radio, stuff like that. Music like Bo DiddleyJoan Jettthe Ramones & Chuck Berry were where I got my guitar sound from, so once I had power chords down I kinda stopped learning. Looking back maybe I should have been more open to other stuff, but power chord rhythm guitar was my jam and I was happy with that. To this day it bugs me if a song only has one guitar and the rhythm part drops out completely for a solo. Motorhead over Malmsteen all day!

Samantha Hollins: When it comes to rigs and gigs how do you approach your set-up? Has it changed over the years? 

Maya Mother Goddess: My first “real” electric (guitar) I had as a kid was a Les Paul copy from a pawn shop, so I got used to that solid heavy weight and thick sound. I had a few different guitars through the years, my favorite might have been the silver-jet Gretcsh I had when I first moved to NYC. I’ve also played SG’s (Epiphones, anyway) and I love those, too. For amps I have stuck with solid state Marshalls.

Samantha Hollins: Sista Grrrl Riot was the birth of a new era for Black women in Punk. How did it come to life?

Maya Mother Goddess: I had been playing in bands around NYC for a couple years already, when I finally met the force of nature we now know as Tamar Kali after one of my gigs. We knew Funkface in common and I think she came to see them and I had played before them, maybe. Anyway I did a cover of a Betty Davis song that night and she went nuts. We exchanged info afterward and she invited me to see an electric violinist named Simi who was performing soon. Another performer by the name of Honeychild was also there that night and forces were joined. Our first shows together changed the fucking world and that is not an exaggeration. There was a seismic shift and we were the earthquake. I still see the ripples and after effects so many years later. I wish that moment and movement had been better documented, but it still lives.

Samantha Hollins: How are you related to the legacy of Afro-Punk

Maya Mother Goddess: Well honestly, all that came after what the Sista Grrrls did both as a collective and individually as artists on our own…so I would rather ask how Afropunk is related to OUR legacy? In the heart of NYC, Sista Grrrl Riots created a space for other freaks, geeks, & Punk Rockers of color to step out of the shadows; be seen and THRIVE. Afropunk came afterward and built upon what was already happening. The Afropunk that we knew then wasn’t what it is now. It was a docmentary film that captured some of what was already happening. Back then I used to close all my shows with a cover of the Patti Smith song “Rock&Roll N-er”. It blew people’s minds to hear that song reclaimed and thrown back at the word by a Black Woman. Some folks were offended of course, but to others (especially women of color I think) it was the most Punk Rock thing ever. It was a huge fuck you to anyone who had shut us out or made Black Women feel that we didn’t belong in the Rock world. We fucking created that shit.

We gave birth to it so of course it’s ours. I like to think that my live version of that song was a nuclear blast that helped the shift happen. For example: the original full title of the documentary was, “Afropunk: The Rock&Roll N-er Experience”, but it got changed. My version of the song didn’t manage to make its way into the film, but I’m sure that my influence had something to do with that original film title.

Samantha Hollins: CBGB’s is world famous! What did it feel like the moment you walked on that stage full of Rock-star energy for the first time? 

Maya Mother Goddess: I still remember the first time I walked through those doors to see other bands. It was my first trip to NYC in September of ‘94. It was like I was on a pilgrimage and CBGB’s was Mecca. When I stepped through the doors of that venue for the first time, it was a hundred percent like the moment Dorothy stepped into technicolor out of her busted old house in the Wizard of Oz. Every cell in my body came alive. I don’t remember specifically what my first gig was there off the top of my head. I ended up playing there many times and never lost that sense of reverence for the holy place it was. It also had arguably the best sound of all the stages I played in New York…and of course, the nastiest bathrooms!

Photo courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

Samantha Hollins: You’ve been a creative force over the years. Did you take a walk out of the spotlight? If so what motivated that decision? 

Maya Mother Goddess: It wasn’t an intentional exodus but the music force inside me has definitely been in stasis for longer than I thought possible. Music was my whole life and all that I had ever planned on doing. Unfortunately my life in NYC took a sour turn when I spent too much of my energy being emotionally tormented by a junkie. People saw the stars and the strength but no one knew the struggle that was happening privately. I had big dreams and was on the right path in most ways, but ultimately I was young and foolish with my heart and ended up in the most toxic relationship ever that almost killed me. By the time I escaped that situation, I was starting to have health issues as well. Long story short, I made my way back to Dallas to stay with my mama “for a while” as I got my health sorted out. That was over 14 years ago. Holy shit. 14 years? Yep.

Samantha Hollins: What did it feel like to land back on stage in December 15, 2019 at the Bowery Electric with the likes of 24-7 SpyzHoneychild Coleman and many more? I so wanted to be there. What was the vibe like? 

Maya Mother Goddess: Man, that night was such a powerful homecoming. It was a birthday party for the unstoppable Luqman Brown of FUNKFACE and his birthday shows are always a great party…but that one was also the fundraiser to help with medical bills for the open heart surgery he had just endured. So there was this send of Big Love and togetherness which was palpable. 24-7 Spyz of course are legends and they kicked the night off with their massie sound that I really thought was going to blow the place up! Then the Funkface guys hit the stage, and all the rest of us performers stepped in to do the vocals in tribute to Luqman. I know I keep using the word “magical” but holy shit that night was unreal. It definitely reignited the fires to make me want to be back onstage…aaaaand then 2020 happened, so…..

Photo courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

Samantha Hollins: I was so mesmerized by your short film “RAIN”. I keep watching it in awe. What is your storyline that connects with such a brilliant piece of art? 

Maya Mother Goddess: Thank you so much! Part of the reason I wanted to make the film was because at the time I started working on it there were zero Black women with any significant superhero representation in film. I loved the character of Storm and at the time I had never seen the mohawk version of her character brought to life either. But more personally the story I wrote was about a tragedy I had experienced which knocked the life out of me for some time. At the end of 2011 my son Orion was born still. His name appears at the very opening of the film. The journey of the character in the story parallels parts of my own journey: from hopelessness and powerlessness to anger to renewal. The journey for me isn’t over of course. Grief that heavy comes and goes in cycles. But making and sharing that film was great catharsis.

Samantha Hollins: You embody an abundance of strength through your artistry. What do you consider to be your Super Powers to get through the -isms in the industry over the years?

Maya Mother Goddess: I think all Black women have to have certain underlying awareness and preparedness, because we got the whole world trying to kick us around and convince us we don’t matter from day one. I also know that we are the original Mothers and the first creators. That’s just science. That’s who we are. We are the Earth herself. Black and brown and soft and hard and growing and flowing with water and fire; always renewing. That kind of Absolute Truth can never stay buried for too long no matter who thinks they are in control.

Samantha Hollins: What are you passionate about outside of music and art? 

Maya Mother Goddess: This may not sound very Rock’n’Roll but I love being around animals kinda more than most humans. One day I want to have a little rescue ranch where I can provide shelter and love for random misfit creatures who might not have found it elsewhere. I have cats now but we’re planning to get goats soon. I want like alpacas and pigs and whatnot…and like a random blind zebra. I also started some pretty intense martial arts training after the loss of my son. That is still a huge part of my heart even though I haven’t actively trained in way too long. Again dealing with health crap slowed me down in a lot of areas…but I’m still kickin’.

Samantha Hollins: What is the next chapter for your immense artistic expression?

Maya Mother Goddess: I never know. I had no idea I would ever make a film but now I’m kinda in love with that process and would love to do it again. I also have some weird sci-fi-ish novels I need to get out of my brain at some point. I would love to just spend my time writing and taking care of animals and then randomly jumping onstage with my guitar to blow minds and remind these kids what’s up! I also draw and paint silly little things a lot just to keep some kind of flow going, even when i feel like shit. Depression is a real force in my life that I am constantly working to keep in check. Creating helps. So I’ll keep doing that in random, weird ways for as long as I can.

Photo courtesy of Maya Mother Goddess 

Samantha Hollins: No void was felt when she left the music business behind because she left it all on the stage…and what she left grew into a profound legacy. That legacy made room for Maya Mother Goddess to evoke many creative forces. 

Check out Maya Mother Goddess mind blowing film “Rain” here:

A fan film created by Maya “Mother Goddess”Glick, directed by Zane Rutledge and Jeff Stolhand, and produced by Matt Joyce. Inspired by the “punk” incarnation of the Marvel superhero Storm of the X-Men.

To learn more about Maya Mother Goddess check her out on her Instagram page @Mayasokora.

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/blog-community-builder-fund/

Pioneer Report: Scotty “Buttocks” Ledgerwood of Bam Bam Sets The Crown Straight On Grunge Queen TINA BELL


Tina Bell Photo by Cyndia Lavik
Bam Bam Photo By Photo by David Ledgerwood

When the late 80’s-90’s was invaded with a new Rock sub-genre that was dubbed as Grunge, it became synonymous with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Hole. If you research further back to 1983 you will hear the beginning of that sound in the music by a band called Bam-Bam. They were fronted by Tina Bell, an electrifying woman of African descent. 

If Nirvana and Pearl Jam are inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then Bam Bam should be just as celebrated. In Brazilian publications such as Sopa Alternativa, Negras No Underground and Metaleiras Negras they have been paying homage to the depths of their legacy. Slowly but surely the same is unearthing in the USA. Here is my offering through this brilliant interview with Tina Bell’s bandmate and longtime friend Scotty “Buttocks” Ledgerwood. It will set the crown straight on their rightful place in history.

Years the band active:

Bam Bam was active 1983-1990 with Tina and for about two more years as an instrumental three piece. 

Samantha Hollins: What is your position in Bam-Bam?

Scotty Buttocks: I was an original member of Bam Bam; bass & vocals and I co-wrote most of Bam Bam’s music with Tommy & Tina. I was Tina Bell’s manager in her final years and all of Bam Bam’s music has been published through my company Buttocks Productions. My greatest honor in Bam Bam was being Tina’s friend for 30 years.   

Samantha Hollins: What’s the story behind your stage name Bam-Bam? I love it! It compliments your sound.

Scotty Buttocks: Bam Bam is an acronym of Tina Bell & Tommy Martin’s names; Bell & Martin-Bam Bam. Plus we liked the percussive sound of it! 

Speaking of names: It was Tina who dubbed me Scotty Buttocks. We were taping the “Ground Zero” video when the titles guy asked how my name was spelled. She immediately piped up: “B-U-T-T-O-…”. It stuck. Tommy used to say “it’s a happy name”! (ha ha) Yeah I ‘spose it is. Thank you Ms. Bell


Photo by David Ledgerwood

Samantha Hollins: How did Bam-Bam meet?

Scotty Buttocks: Tommy & Tina met when Tina needed a French tutor so she could sing C’est Si Bon win French; Eartha Kitt style for a Langston Hughes Theatre production she was in. She answered Tommy’s ad and love at 1st sight sparky eyed kinda stuff happened! They got married, had TJ and formed a band.. you know; typical American family stuff. 

I also answered one of Tommy’s ads in the Rocket: “forming new punk band; need bassist”. I guess the Rocket Magazine got the three of us together. 

Matt Cameron joined us later that summer when we stole him from a local cover band. (Mercenaries)! 

Samantha Hollins: What was the vibe like when you met Tina Bell for the first time?

Scotty Buttocks: Meeting Tina for the first time was a little intimidating, actually. Tommy let me in and we talked a bit before he led me back to the studio where she sat waiting. She was extremely confident but not at all arrogant and she looked soooo beautiful!  

She asked a couple questions, then sussed me up with a long look and just like that: I was in. We were like, instant old friends. We remained very close friends until her death. I’m still close with her family. 


Photo by David Ledgerwood

Samantha Hollins: I loved the music you shared with me in 2019 when I was gearing up for my exhibition in Philadelphia. I am curious to know more about your studio sessions. When Tina went in the booth to sing what was that process like for her and the band?

Scotty Buttocks: Tina loved performing live but hated the studio environment. She got restless hanging around. And she grew fast annoyed at having to do repeated takes!  

On our 1st day at Reciprocal Recording Studio with Chris Hanzsek, Tommy literally blew out the windows with his Marsha Marsha Marsha (Marshall amp) apparently cranked up to 11. It literally blew the glass out of the window frames like some dick movie from the 80s. 

It did not sit well with Chris (It was still sorta fucking funny,; though). We were kinda freaking: “oh..sorry Chris..” ..’had no idea man’.. while Tina was like: “Mmmpphhh! – No fucking way, Martin! Hahahahahahahaha”!! For some reason that amused her. I guess it made the studio environment more tolerable that day.    

Usually we had everything pretty much worked out before we’d go in. Budget constraints didn’t allow us to shag shit out while on the clock.

Still delays are inevitable. During the session for “Free Fall From Space“, they were having trouble dealing with her ‘dynamics’; changing mics and shit. After several false starts and a couple seemingly good takes not kept, Tinablew up at Tommy & producer Chris Hanzsek for her having to do so many takes of the “watch me FAAAALLLLLLL” part. Fun part was though they were standing right there, she turned to ME and screamed: “SCOTTY! How many times they gonna make me do this?! WHAT the fuck’s the matter with them”?! (hehheh) Yeah she didn’t like studios! 

That was a difficult song to record. On “Free Fall…” she goes from a sexy coo at the intro to a blood curdling wail on the “watch me FAAAALLLLL” part. Tina’s voice could stun with a whisper or a shriek. I still get shudders when I listen to her.  

Samantha Hollins: All the high energy I hear in your music makes me want to know what was a Bam-Bam rehearsal like? Did songs come out of of your  it? Where did they take place?} 

Scotty Buttocks: Bam Bam rehearsed and wrote most of our songs at Tommy’s home studio in Central Seattle. We did our “Bam Bam House Demo ’84” album there. From Spring thru all the Summer of ’83 we did nothing but write for hours on end, 5-6 full days a week. No social life. It’s ALL we did for months. 

Later we rehearsed (& wrote) out of a place called the Blue Room, where I think every other Seattle band from the Gits to Gas Huffer has worked. 

Bam Bam rehearsals could be anything from a lazy-hot afternoon-reggae dub jam to a vicious slash and burn punk metal rant. We usually focused on 1-2 specific tracks but always left room to just go off into some completely different (sometimes fucked up) direction. We’d do it to take a break from our main set list but occasionally it led to new material. 

Tommy & I usually did the riffs & rhythms (til we got a drummer) and Tina usually did the lyrics & melody, but each of us also did the other. 

When I was in Bam Bam, writing was a real group effort. We’d start with a basic riff (usually Tommy’s) then tweak & twist the shit around til it resembled music, while Tina’d stand there trying out melody lines & lyrics to see if they’d fit.  

The three of us having to play without a drummer for several months sucked ass but it also helped us to see potential shortcomings in songs we may have missed with Matt or Tom (Hendrickson) bashing away!   

I remember in the early days ending rehearsal with us all lying on the floor (for some reason) facing each other going over what we’d done that day, dicking with lyrics and reminding each other just how cool we were! (haha) So fucking innocent then…

Samantha Hollins: What was the inspiration that evoked the songwriting and over all sound of the Bam-Bam?

Scotty Buttocks: Life. 

Heinz 57” was Tina’s revenge toward racist shit-brained kids who used the term to taunt her in school for being mixed race. 

Ground Zero” was about living across Puget Sound from Bangor US Navy submarine base. 

Stress” is about just making it day to day. 

Villains (also wear white)” is about rape & abuse. 

Swing Set” is simple flirting. 

A lot of Bam Bam songs were rooted in real life experiences. Not always but often. 

Like a lot of people back then, we felt there was something missing in music. We hated Pop & the arena bands but Punk wasn’t enough. We wanted music with energy and real subjects but we also wanted it from people who actually knew how to play. 

Yeah we liked Punk, but we also liked Reggae, 70s Prog Rock, BOC 1st 3 albums, R&B, Glam, Surf, 60s stuff like JanisYardbirdsLoveHendrix.. 

I still can’t easily describe Bam Bam’s sound. Tina hated being asked about what kind of music we played. She’d say “I don’t know. I’m just the singer; ask the band”! 


Photo by Cyndia Lavik

Samantha Hollins: As I look at old footage of your shows back in the day I am captivated by the band’s invigorating connection and sound. What were those gig days like?

Scotty Buttocks: Playing live with Tina Bell was one of my life’s greatest pleasures and honors. She was an absolute joy to work with. She’d help bring out my best particularly when we’d be working on our vocals together. I learned a lot from her.   

Tina’s on stage presence was Rock-Royalty raging; as regal as she was riotous! She didn’t like to plan shit out; she preferred to be spontaneous on stage. Even we didn’t know what she’d do one night to the next! 

On the rare occasion the crowd kinda sucked, she’d take it as a challenge and lead us on more fiercely than ever. She could recharge me in the middle of a set with just a sexy sideways smirk! I’d lose it and we’d laugh our asses off. She had a wicked sense of humor that’d surprise some people. 

When I watch the old vids I can see we definitely had a lot of fun interacting on stage. We used to crack up years later talking about some of the shit she’d pulled. She was brilliant, she was beautiful and she was a brat! I miss her every fucking day. 

Photo by Cyndia Lavik

Samantha HollinsTina’s voice was so rich and full of layers. Who were her influences?

Scotty Buttocks: Tina’s influences are all over the map: the Doors, Metallica, Frank Sinatra, Hendrix, Aretha, the Vandals, Janis Joplin, Bowie, Johnny Cash, DKs, Motorhead, Iggy, Bad Brains, Dionne Warwick, X-Ray Spex, Chrissy Amphlett, Marvin Gaye, Black Uhuru, Patty Smith, X, Napalm Beach, Screamin Jay Hawkins, Chrissie Hynde, Curtis Mayfield.. And LOTS of gospel; she grew up singing in the choir of Seattle’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  

Samantha Hollins: How much do you think sexism and racism played in your band not getting the recognition and credit deserved?

Scotty Buttocks: Misogyny & racism played a huge role in holding back Tina Bell and Bam Bam. The fact we’re even having this conversation supports that opinion. 

People back then expected a Black girl to be Hip-Hop, a Soul diva, or Pop singer. Fronting a Hard Rock band was inconceivable to many in the general public it seemed, despite how brilliant she was (and she was)! 

In addition to ‘quiet’ racism, Tina experienced the not so subtle kind too. In Seattle and in San Francisco Tina was openly taunted on stage. In Seattle though, she seriously bashed two Nazi fucks when they called her ‘n’. She grabbed the mic stand, swung it around several times, then smashed both of them in the head; one pretty badly. It makes me shake with rage to this day. In fairness to Seattle, the rest of the crowd immediately pounced on those wanks & tossed them. Worthless, flaccid dicks…

Tina didn’t seek pity for her & Bam Bam’s relative lack of recognition. She just sought an understanding as to why people hadn’t fully accepted her despite her contributions and accomplishments. 

She didn’t want to believe race and gender played a big role in holding her back…but it did. It may not be the only reason she remains conspicuously obscure, but it had a big fucking part in it.   

Samantha Hollins: When Tina became a mom was she still active in music? If so how did she balance being a mother and artist through your eyes?

Scotty Buttocks: 3 out of the 4 of us in Bam Bam were parents. Tina & Tommy’s son TJ and my son Ryan saw a lot more studios and green rooms than most toddlers do! Our kids were with us most of the time. Our roadies (often poor ol’ Bob D) would baby sit too. It must not have done too much harm. TJ’s an Academy Award winning director, Ryan’s Called In Sic’s bassist and my co-writer for over 15 years. 

Samantha Hollins: How are you bringing Bam-Bam’s legacy to the forefront of Grunge, Rock-n-Roll and your hometown music history?

Scotty Buttocks: I promised Tina years ago that I wouldn’t rest til her place in music history was secured. I want her & Bam Bam’s role in the story of Seattle’s early scene told. 


Photo by Buttocks Productions

Tina had a big part in the creation of a sound later called Grunge and she never got credit for her contribution. She was fronting & writing music for a Hard Punk-Grunge band at a time when it was simply not the norm for Women of Color to do that in the US. In the early/mid 80s, she was the only one. In 1984 she & her band Bam Bam did the first Grunge record released in Seattle: “Villains (also wear white)”. She’s earned her place and then some.   

I’ve been archiving articles, pics, posters, reviews, interviews, videos…anything showing Tina Bell & Bam Bam’spresence on a scene that has overlooked or pushed aside what she and her band accomplished. 

Granted it didn’t help that for years the only Bam Bam music had been the “Villains (also wear white)” ep and the “Ground Zero” single; both released in 1984 and long out of print.  

That changed when we found our old master tapes a few years ago. We remixed them with Bam Bam’s original producer Chris Hanzsek and digitally released them on Buttocks Productions. Did pretty good in Brazil; c’mon ‘Merica! 

We’ve just started working with Jack Endino on a 12″ vinyl re-issue of “Villains (also wear white)”, to be released later this year on Bric-a-Brac Records. Been a long time since we done any vinyl! 

And it’s way past time for Bam Bam & Tina Bell Wikipedia pages ya’ll. For God’s sake; enough’s enough already! Give it up for Bam Bam & the ‘Bell’!! 

Samantha Hollins: How do you think Tina would want to be remembered?

Scotty Buttocks: I think Tina would want to be remembered simply for what she was: A dedicated musician who was a major player on Seattle’s developing music scene. A sweet generous person who lived and breathed Rock & Roll and treasured her family. 


Photo by Michael Patnode

Born Feb 5, 1958 in Seattle-Died Oct 10, 2012 in Las Vegas.

Rest in Ancestral Power Tina Bell! Much gratitude to you for your profound contribution to Rock-n-Roll, women in music and Black women in Rock! All hail the Queen of Grunge!

To learn more about Tina Bell’s Her-Story with Bam the legendary Bam go to: https://buttocksproductions.com/

If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/blog-community-builder-fund/

Pioneer Report: Revolve With Kenyan Anti-colonial Punk Rock Band CRYSTAL AXIS:


Photo By: William Kane

Kenya has a vast amount of hardcore music that has been tipping over their Rock Music stratosphere. Crystal Axis are truly pilots of that legacy that is thriving more than ever now. With an introduction to the music business at such a young age, they are pioneers in their own right. I had a chance to check out Crystal Axis’ virtual performance amidst the Decolonize Fest (that was live-streamed from London, England) September 3, 2019…and was blown into amplified bliss! There was a certain charisma gathered with intense conviction that plagued their brilliant creative energy. This interview was actually conducted in October of 2020, so I am extremely thrilled to finally share it. 

Crystal Axis band members:• Ahmed Bulhan• Douglas Kihoro• Fox Elijah• Djae Aroni

Samantha Hollins: Your band name is very intriguing? How did it come about?


Crystal Axis: Well, we picked it out when we were still kids and at the time we didn’t have a particularly deep meaning for it. We had a list of choices and that’s what we gravitated towards. Over time this has become my favorite least-favorite question because I wish I could give people a great and meaningful answer but that’s the truth of how our name came to be, haha!


Samantha Hollins: I loved your live stream show with Decolonize Fest (London, UK). I know Crystal Axis was supposed to be there in person (pre-Covid). In what manner did this global pandemic shift your 2020 plans?


Crystal Axis: Thank you a ton for tuning in! It means the world and we’re beyond grateful for all your support. Prior to the pandemic we were meant to be in London for Decolonize Fest and we were also trying to set up a bunch of shows around England and the EU and make the most of it. We had to pretty much postpone all of that and go back to the drawing board. As a band, live shows make up a large portion of our earnings. Without any income from that, 2020 has been pretty rough on us as a band; financially. We’ve been forced to re-evaluate a lot of things. We’re trying to treat it is a major learning experience and try to focus on the silver lining but even that can be difficult at times; given the toll 2020 has had on us all.


Samantha Hollins: How did you guys go from meeting as teens to forming a Punk band? Was it hard getting gigs?


Crystal Axis: It’s a bit of a funny story with layers to it: Djae started the band after he watched his first Rock’n’ Roll show in Kenya. At the time there was a hardcore band made of kids from a local school named Jack The Hammer and that inspired him to start the band (Crystal Axis). A couple of years later he found out that Fox was in fact the lead singer and guitarist in Jack The Hammer and he had interest in joining the band as we were looking for a guitarist. At the time they didn’t know each other so it was crazy seeing things come full circle. 

AB initially joined as a bassist when we were still in high school but as soon as we realized he could sing we stuck him in front of the mic and the rest is history. As for Doug, we met at live shows years back; turns out he used to sneak out from boarding school in a whole different city, catch a bus to Nairobi for the show and then head back to school before anyone was wise to it. He might be the bassist but he’s hands down the coolest member of this band for pulling that move and getting away with it.


Samantha Hollins: What was the reaction of your parents when they realized their teens were Punk Rockers?


Crystal Axis: I think it was initially one of shock and surprise given our backgrounds. We were all more or less raised in relatively conservavtive African households. Ahmed and Djae were both raised in conservative Muslim/African households and Fox is the son of missionaries. Rock and Metal has always been shroudded in this air of “drug, sex and Rock ‘n’ Roll” so obviously there was concern about how and why we gravitated towards this genre of music. Also many of the shows back in the day were in clubs, pubs, etc. and as a parent you’d be concerned about a bunch of kids in such an environment. With time they had to accept this was the path we’d chosen. It doesn’t mean they were particularly thrilled but they saw the work we put in and the passion we had.


Photo By: Pixel Peddler


Samantha Hollins: How did it feel to be the first Kenyan Rock band to garner the number one spot on the X-FM TRC top 25 countdown? Did it boost your demand?


Crystal Axis: Phenomenal! It was amazing for us because, at the time, Neel and Djae had literally just graduated high school and this was our first ever studio recording. We were a bunch of 15-18 year old kids with the number one Rock record in the country! It was insane! Our demand did shoot up. We had more booking requests than ever. The irony is that Djae was leaving the country for university and there wasn’t much we could do without him so things ‘took off’ and slowed down at the same time. It was a bit of a bummer but we’re here now, still killing it even 8 years later.


Samantha Hollins: I think it’s amazing how you guys took a break to pursue other endeavors. Tell us about those experiences and if you knew that the band would get back together?


Crystal Axis: Initially we went on hiatus so we could pursue unii and higher education. We were scattered all over the globe with members being in Mexico, UK and Kenya. When we were back in Kenya we would miss each other by days, or we would see each other for no more than a week at a time.

At the time having to step back from Crystal Axis was heartbreaking, I don’t think any of us wanted that. But since then we’ve all gone through so much, individually and collectively, and those experiences have directly influenced and shaped who we are today. So I probably wouldn’t change how things played out. All those experiences put things into perspective and really solidified the fact that we were put on Earth to do this. We studied a variety of things ranging from to music marketing but what has been made abundantly clear is that we are here to create art and music. This is our calling and you really can’t convince us otherwise…no matter how hard you try.

Samantha Hollins: I hear undertones of other musical vibes in your music. What genres outside of Punk do you find yourselves incorporating?


Crystal Axis: Musically speaking we all have a wide range of influences. Individually we listen to a lot of different music and we also create a ton of different music outside of Crystal Axis ranging from House Music to Trap, Reggaeton, Lo-Fi, Metal and even Bhangra. With time I’ve come to learn and accept that there are elements of all these different genres that will seep into Crystal Axis’ music and vice versa. Take The Throne has a beat switch at the outro that was influenced by our love for Hip-Hop and Trap whereas Leopold has influences of Bossa Nova and Ska, although it’s hard to tell unless you’re really trying to spot it. As artists we refuse to be boxed into a corner or be told we can only sound a certain way. We are Crystal Axis and we do what we want.


Samantha Hollins: Is there a Rock market in Kenya as far as the mainstream?


Crystal Axis: Not quite; no. Rock, and all its subgenres, is still very niche in Kenya. There was a dedicated-all-Rock station but with time they became commercial and played radio friendly Pop with a sprinkle of Rock. There are one or two dedicated-Rock shows on other stations which are great, but the simple fact is that it is not mainstream. Other than dedicated Rock and Metal shows, few promoters go out of their way to book Rock bands for gigs. There’s a massive divide and at times people simply just don’t acknowledge the existence of the Rock scene. It is frustrating but we aren’t giving up.  



Samantha Hollins: What is the concept of Nyayo House? It’s so, so brilliant and lyrically vivid.


Crystal Axis: Nyayo House is a government building in Nairobi, Kenya. It is arguably one of the busiest buildings in Kenya and deals with all things concerning immigration, nationality, passports, visas, etc. It also housed torture chambers used by the Moi regime to silence the opposition; a fact that many people surprisingly did not know and that did not sit right with us. We felt like this part of Kenyan history was being swept under the rug, the same way King Leopold II’s bloody reign in the Congo was swept under the rug.

There are so many accounts of the vile things that took place in that building but nobody was ever held accountable. Some of the victims are still alive to this day and their accounts of the events that took place will just break your heart. Our music has always been about revising African history and Nyayo House was very much in line with that; using our voice and our platform as Africans to tell stories about our history as Africans.


Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock-n-Roll?


Crystal Axis: To be honest when we were all kids. The first time you hear it it just knocks you off your feet, and I don’t mean hearing it in passing, I mean the first time you actually listen to Rock’n’Roll. That feeling of confusion, excitement, euphoria; it was unlike anything else. Music had never made me feel that way before so I was hooked from the get go. It changed everything; literally. I think we all found Rock’n’Roll around the same time we were figuring out who we are as individuals. Those years are always extremely confusing as you’re growing up but the music definitely helped and played a major role in making us the people we are today.


Samantha Hollins: I would love to know: what’s on the agenda for Crystal Axis’ future?


Crystal Axis: We have a 7” titled Lunatic Express coming out next month so we’re very excited about that, given what the song means to us. We’re also working on our full length project. Though we haven’t set a date, I can confidently say we’re going to be dropping our debut album in 2021. We are also trying to get the ball rolling and start booking shows for 2021, so if you’d like to see us in a city near you sometime soon please let us know!

Photo By: Pixel Peddler

Samantha Hollins: I have to thank Crystal Axis for this very thought provoking interview. To learn more about their music, shows and merchandise check out the links below. 

Bandcamp: https://crystalaxis.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/crystalaxis

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CrystalAxis/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crystalaxiske/?hl=en


If you enjoyed this article, interviews and reviews feel free to contribute to our SuSu Connection. Funds will go towards building this Culture Rock Griot site and community/non-profit organizations.

https://theculturerockgriot.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/blog-community-builder-fund/

Laidback Mike Photography: Remembering A Visual Culture Keeper


Laidback Mike Photography


The iris of Mike Brodie’s creativity zoomed in on the culture of Black Rock Artists with a nostalgic eye. His camera framed multitudes of Rock-Star memories that will forever be engraved in his DMV area. It wasn’t about the financial gain or popularity. His passion to preserve the underground scene with his photography is the wealth of his documented legacy. He had hopes of elevating unsung and unheard Rockers of African descent. 


Laidback Mike Photography captured this photo at my show at the Natural Hair Care Expo in Maryland in 2013

I remember when I had a show in Baltimore, MD for the Natural Hair Care Expo. Mike sent me a DM to let me know he would be there. I asked him to meet up with me so I could get him in with my band. He declined my offer because he wanted to support by paying his way in. Mike was there way before my band setting up front and center. He had a way of sculpturing angles of the atmosphere before showtime. He would glide almost unnoticeably capturing majestic history in the making. 


Laidback Mike Photography

Whenever Laidback Mike posted that he was going to a concert, I knew the end result would be a sprinkle of photographic magic uplifting our timeline. Mike was a pixel storyteller who painted with light and the soul’s true expressions.

Who would have thought a Facebook friend would evolve into a real life friend exchanging creative energy. Mike was always cheering for the DMV music community loud and proud. That eventually filtered beyond his hometown and pervaded across state-lines and boarder lines. When I wrote for a Rock/Metal publication called Unhinged-music in 2015-2017 he read every single article. Mike was a prominent advocate for me creating The Culture Rock Griot


Laidback Mike Photography

Laidback Mike’s humble, visual-griot stance silently uplifted bands that he considered great and iconic. It blew my mind when he reached out to sponsor my Culture Rock Tour in 2019 (that traveled to Botswana and London). He stayed adorned in band merchandise that he would order or get from the show. Him having the physical CD in the palm of his hands was a golden experience. 


Laidback Mike Photography

I honor my brother-friend and one of my biggest supporters Mike Brodie on his birthday November 19 2020. When his Aunt reached out to my husband/drummer Ronin Ali and I to let us know he passed away April 2020 (not Covid), the potent sting of such a heavy loss formed from the strong impression he left on us. Announcing his transition to the world showed how massive the lens of his soul expanded over space and time. Even though he is no longer here in the flesh, the spirit of his brilliant portraits are eternally engraved upon the culture of Rock. 

Legends are not always famous in the eyes of the mainstream. Many are icons masquerading as modest local heroes. They shift energy with divine purpose unknowingly making the world brighter, like brother Laidback Mike Photography


Eclectic Soul Media Photo of Mike Brodie in his Youth

Check out Laidback Mike Photography featuring underground bands from the DMV area, touring bands and legendary bands (Fishbone, Living Colour, Malina Moye, Eric Gales, Honeychild Coleman, A Band Called Death, Etc.) right here:

https://www.facebook.com/Laidback-Mike-Photography-1651057268470438/


Laidback Mike Photography

Job well done ancestor Mike Brodie/Laidback Mike R.I.P.