Burying The Myths; Digging Up Eternal Riffs: Botswana Death Metal Band Overthrust 

Photo By: Samantha Hollins in Botswana at the 10th Annual Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Charity Fest in 2019

Botswana has a thunderous Rock and Metal scene that is making a lot of international noise. When I was invited there in 2019 by legendary 4-piece old school Death Metal band Overthrust, I didn’t have any preconceived notions as an artist myself. I do know that many us are judged based on outer appearances and that old saying about our beloved genre being the so called devils music. 

Overthrust brand of Death Metal is like a force of nature that swallows it’s pain in order to release layers of negative energy. The vocal roars and the lyrical core is not a evil sermon waiting to wreck havoc on your soul. It is more like hardcore sound waves exterminating inner demons. My interview with lead vocalist/bassist Tshomarelo Mosaka (Vulture Thrust) of Overthrust is truly an eye opener, unveiling the definition of their true offering to Metal. 

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

Samantha Hollins: Demon Grave: Based on title, the misconception of this song could be buried in the notion of a meaningless nature. What is the true meaning of Demon Grave’s lyrical content and music foundation? 

Tshomarelo Mosaka: Demon Grave is simple a cursed, forces of evil rising from a haunted graveyard. The content of this song talks about a troubled soul from a very notorious person who died in the course of committing a brutal act and having his life cut unprepared and as a suprise, his soul is in denial of his passing and the evil spirits rises at night to haunt, torture and trouble people passing by at night.

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

Samantha Hollins: SUICIDE TORMENT: Assumptions could be made over the lingo used on this album and those Metal vocal roars. Can you unveil the backstory of this powerful concept and the role your voice plays in the interpretation of the words? 

Tshomarelo Mosaka: Suicide Torment album was released after the passing away of our previous drummer “Gakeitse Suicide Torment Bothalentwa“. He was accidentally hit and run over by drunkered with a car together with 2 more at a local pub. We were extremely saddened by his death and this brought too much anger to us and the only way to release and express our anger was through our anger management music produced by Overthrust. Most of the songs are so Vulgar, dirty raw and dangerous explicit content towards the culprit.

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

Samantha Hollins: Meeting Overthrust in person is infused with humility, positivity, respect and honor. Do you ever feel judged as the opposite when it comes to the genre of your music? (If so Please give examples). 

Tshomarelo Mosaka: Thanks, we are very decent, respect people, loving, very considerate and caring, discipline is our middle name, 2 of Overthrust members are police officers but myself I resigned from the police in 2018 to join a private security department in a mining industry. We are responsible citizens, family man and public figures BUT When one listens to our underground music with extreme content, brutal lyrics, brutal tshirts and is totally the opposite of what we are, WHY because music or arts is a creative industry in which the sky is the limit and especially Rock N Roll and heavy metal music should be treated as such and one of a kind and unique art. When we started our band Overthrust we had faced some criticism from some few members of community especially religious people who associated us and our music with devil, labelling us satanists and even blaming us for some road accidents that were happening in town, they were at some point where the religious organisations will conduct a church service close to our show venues everytime we do a huge metal show saying they are counter attacking our demons. They were real scared of us more so that we rode very loud big bikes and often when we get at public bars we just isolate ourselves in one table and have our drinks quietly without talking too much But honestly as time goes on as we interact more with the community they started realising that they were wrong about us and they saw that we are actually humble, responsible and nice people and since then we started having a huge fan base and following with people who are non metal attending our shows even some religious people.

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

Samantha Hollins: Culturally speaking, how does your family and environment react towards your leather, spikes, vocal roars and hardcore music?

Tshomarelo Mosaka: Our families are the reason why we still Rock, the influence is from our families, I personally from my father and uncles, my cousin Spencer (Overthrust guitarist) was influenced by his mother. Also most of the places in Botswana have also have some Rockers/metalheads in their areas but back in the days it was more of soft classics, Rock n roll and when the heavy leather outfits and spikes were introduced to our scene some people were confused and started thinking trouble was coming but also as time goes on they realised it was nothing but passion, it was art. Botswana nation is a very tolerant community of various cultures and religions so we had very few or non cultural conflict.

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

Samantha Hollins: What is the inspiration for your The Overthrust Winter Mania Charity Metal Fest come to fruition? How does it to connect with your community? 

Tshomarelo Mosaka: It is a bridge between metalheads and non metalheads,  it connects and unite people from different backgrounds, race, religion etc different nations United by the heavy metal concert under one roof, interacting and cultural exchanges and love. This is a charity event in which basic needs of life are donated to beneficiaries.

Samantha Hollins: What does the Death Metal term mean to you? What does your band add to the genre to dispel the evil myths? 

Tshomarelo Mosaka: Death metal to me is an anger management music, revolutionary and rebellious music that gives one courage, confidence and lion heart, gives one free spirit of expression and teaches one some bravenes and power to be able to handle the hard ships of live. It is the music of the gods!! Our presence in the death metal scene is actually to preseve and keep the old school death metal fire burning.

Photo Courtesy of Tshomarelo Mosaka

And there you have it! The myths are buried as Overthrust carriers their legendary brand of Heavy Metal from Botswana to the world. 


Started in 2008 in Ghanzi-Botswana

Band Members: 

Vulture Thrust-Bass/vocals 

Spencer Thrust-lead guitar

Dawg Thrust-Rhythm guitar 

Beast Thrust-Drums.

R.I.P. Gakeitse Suicide Torment Bothalentwa

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Sidney Barnes: The Rotary Rockstar Renaissance Connection! 

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

What do 45’s, albums, cassette tapes, CD’s and downloads all have in common? Sidney Barnes’ career has played through the speakers of all those sonic platforms over the years; creating a timeless score to various eras. His vocals are engraved in many of your favorite songs. His production had clubs, house parties and concerts dancing. His words are unforgettable poetic energy. His work behind the scenes has given birth to many shifts in the music industry. His music has filtered down to a new generation between the doorway of Hip-Hop and the portal of non-stop creative offerings. Sidney Barnes is the bridge between many historical musical moments and cultural movements. From his first song in the 1960’s to the Rotary Connection, to his latest music entering 2022 unto his soul’s reflection, I am extremely honored to share this interview I conducted with the legendary Sidney Barnes. 

Samantha Hollins: Where are you from? How did your hometown, culture and family dynamic give you your creative foundation?

Sidney Barnes: I was born in a small, coal mining town of Welch, West Virginia in the 1940’s. My mother was a fine Southern lady and the daughter of a Baptist minister. She loved music and art. Dad was an uneducated laboror and coal mine worker. I was their only child and we had a very close family. I first fell in love with the Country music & BlueGrass music that I heard on the radio, and that good old Gospel music I heard at church where my mom was the choir director.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Normally one of the first questions I ask is “When was the first time you fell in love with Rock-n-Roll”, but listening to your earlier songs such as “Wait My Love” and “Adios, My Love”, you were at the beginning of early Rock-n-Roll. So instead I will ask you about that journey. When you moved to Newark, NJ to record your first record with Gemini Records, what was that process like? Was that your first time in a recording studio? Who were those gorgeous voices who sang on “Wait My Love”?

Sidney Barnes: One of my biggest personal claim-to-fame stories is after moving from West Virginia to Virginia, we moved to Washington DC. There I started hearing more Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop and Rock ‘n Roll on the radio and I was immediately hooked. I convinced my parents to move to New Jersey so that I could be closer to the New York Music scene. So we moved to Newark, New Jersey and I began to search for people who could help me further my musical career. I finally met a guy who was starting a small independent record label in Newark called Gemini Records and he signed me as his first artist. He took me to a tiny New York recording studio; my very first time in a recording studio…and I recorded a song a lady named Jean Banks had written called “Wait”…along with the first song I’d ever written called “I’m Satisfied”. Jean and a couple of her singing friends sang back up for me on it. The song turned out to be a local and regional hit. And I was on my way. By the way I got credits on “Adios, My Love” as a writer. I did very little as a writer on that song. My good friend Tim Wilson actually wrote the whole song. I just inspired the development and growth of the song.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Learning that over 150 recordings/projects are adorned by either your singing, songwriter, musicianship, production and even jingles and hip-hop samples is mind blowing. What a prolific legacy. Is there anything you haven’t done that you would add to this extraordinary resume at this stage in your life? Any new school artist, producers or songwriters you would like to work with?

Sidney Barnes: I don’t care. I’ll write and record with anybody. I love to do it so much they wouldn’t even have to pay me to do it. But I gotta earn money somehow. I love it so much I’ve worked for free many times. The category I’m in, that I’m the most proudest of is: In 1969 I wrote, recorded, and produced a very cheap radio jingle for a local Chicago friend who had started his own little ad. agency, and his first account was to create a jingle for a local furniture store called Ember Furniture. It was located on the West Side of Chicago; just a small Mom and Pop business. Trouble was he didn’t have but $500 to do it with. At the time I was touring with Rotary (Connection) and creating jingles for major Chicago ad. companies that were paying me top dollar to create jingles for them. But because this guy was a struggling Black guy, I did it for him. I wrote it, produced it and sang it…and got a few of my young buddies to assist me on backup vocals.The jingle became very popular on WVON; a local Chicago radio station. Then because of popular demand I was asked to make the 60 second jingle into a 45 RPM record so that the store could press out records and give the single away to customers who bought items from the store. And my friend ended up creating a multi-million ad. agency from it. The jingle is still popular. It’s called “Ember Is Forever” (“The Ember Song”) and is featured on YouTube. It created an international following with music collectors around the world, and is part of a CD compilation currently on the world market. Quite an accomplishment. 

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: The Rotary Connection set a huge sonic presence in Rock-n-Roll history. How did such a profound group of musicians and singers come together?What was the overall musical message?

Sidney Barnes: That’s such a long and complicated story. We really haven’t got the time to go into it here, but there were actually two Rotary Connections. There was the recording group of musicians and singers, then there was the performing group of musicians and singers.  Rotary Connection was a freak of nature, and a very intriguing story. We were one of the first integrated Psychedelic Rock Bands in history.  Our female lead singer, Minnie Riperton, had a voice like no other and should be in The Guinness Book of World Records. And me, the lead male singer, was the only real experienced member of the group. Our musical arranger, Charles Stepney, was a musical genius…and our producer was the son of the record label owner. We influenced people like Elton John, Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire and many others. We helped to change music in a very good way.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Your song, “I Remember Minnie”, on your album “Peace, Love, Sex, Wars & Video Games” mezmorize me deeply. Your lyrics are extremely vivid and delicately wrapped in warm beauty celebrating such a beautiful connection between you both. What was it like being the low vocal roots to Minnie Rippington’s high vocal frequency?

Sidney Barnes: Minnie was a freak of Nature. When I first met her in Chicago at Chess Records she was 18 and pregnant and working at Chess as a staff studio session singer, with very little performing experience but a lot of recording experience…and she was classically trained to be an opera singer. We developed a very deep friendship and working relationship. Since I was the most experienced one of the two I had to teach her how to perform and got great glee from watching her grow from a nobody to a Diva, and on to a million selling recording artist. We also became very close to each other’s families. We were, by the way, the only two Black people in the Rotary Connection live performing group. Minnie was very special. The group lasted for only 3 yrs.

Samantha Hollins: You’ve shared the stages with the likes of B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Sly and The Family Stone, Led Zeppelin and more. What were those concert days like compared to now? 

Sidney Barnes: Long before Rotary I had traveled; performing on the legendary all Black Chitterling Circuit with several major Rhythm & Blues recording stars of the 50’s and early 60’s. With Rotary Connection I found myself still performing with some of those same Black stars but now it was performing with mostly all White acts. Rotary Connection was considered a White performing act since there were only two Blacks in the group, which were me & Minnie our band on the road was all White. The places we performed at with Rotary were larger and we were paid a lot more. By (the late 60’s) the audiences we played to were mostly all White. Nowadays Rock ‘n Roll audiences are mixed. Back in the early 60’s Black acts were lucky if they traveled for miles to perform and were paid anything at all by the promoters. We (Rotary) usually played open air festivals and large concert halls. And we traveled in limos and planes, and had our own road manager; had equipment roadies and an equipment truck. We were big time Rock ‘n’ Roll Royalty back then; opening shows for Janis (Joplin) & The Stones. WOW!!

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Listening to your song lyrics past and present are like hearing the most engaging poetry over melodic energy. Where does a song begin for you?

Sidney Barnes: Most of the time I’ll just hear a melody in my head. Sometimes I’ll just hear a few bars of a melody and I’ll suddenly hear the whole song in my head. It all depends. Words seem to come naturally to me. I love poetry and well written lyrics. I admire people who write great stories and great catchy lyrics. I learned so much about song writing from being at Motown and working around some of the other great songwriters I first met while working in New York.   

Samantha Hollins: Songwriting can be such a personal experience. You have written for/with so many legends including Muddy Waters, The Supremes, Parliament/Funkadelic, The Jackson 5, Minnie Riperton and so many more. When approaching a song for someone else is the process different from writing for yourself?

Sidney Barnes: Usually I don’t write songs for a specific person, except for when I was asked to write a song for  Muddy Waters, Rotary connection, Ramsey Lewis, Parliament/Funkadelic, and a few other artists. Mostly I’ll write a song and whoever hears it and wants to record it can. Every once in a while, maybe years ago I’d do that, but usually I just write songs. 

Samantha Hollins: Your story is so extraordinary. You went from being an artist to writing, producing, and being a talent scout for Motown Records. Did that transition add to how you approached your own artistry and conducted your business?

Sidney Barnes: Oh yes. Having experience in several areas of something you like to do, and/or dealing with usually always makes your efforts much better dealing with any related situation. That goes for anything you love to do. In other words if you desire to become a serious chef or cook, you should also know how dishes are washed, which pans to cook what with, how long to cook that steak before it’s burned. In other words you should know and experience all the areas related to whatever your life’s work is. So you’ll know what to do and what not to do, and how to do it better. And always try to learn those areas from the best. Be inspired and get involved and experience the full efforts of whatever it is you’re creating.

Samantha Hollins: Listening to your project “Living In A Digital World” definitely gave the best of nostalgia with a modern day sound. How did it feel adapting to the digital world coming from an analog world?  

Sidney Barnes: I love and appreciate working with all the new tech stuff. I’m doing most of my current song writing on my computer. Keyboard Musicians from all over the word are sending me some great instrumental tracks that they’ve recorded in their home studios. Most of the songs on all my new albums were done like that. Thanks to the internet for that pleasure. They send me several tracks and I write songs to the ones that touch me. I’m doing a lot of stuff with guys in India, Seria, and Australia,  as well as with producers/musicians here in the States. Then I sing all the vocals on the tracks; background and lead because I got nobody else to do them and I’ve ended up with so many untill I’m releasing them in album form. I’m not really trying to be an artist right now but I’ve got to do something with all these songs that I think are all great songs.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Having the opportunity to listen to your new music before it’s released was such a privilege. You sing phenomenally in any genre. I love that you are releasing a Jazz Standard album and Rhythm and Blues album.

Your song “I Love Rhythm and Blues (co-written with Mr. Otis Blackwell writer of “Great Balls Of Fire” & “All Shook Up”), is so necessary. It brings R&B back to its original roots. Was that a conscious decision to do that?

Sidney Barnes: I loved working with Otis. He was like a teacher and a friend, his songs “Great Balls Of Fire & All Shook Up”, were two of the songs that inspired me to become a songwriter. And I also worked directly with other legendary songwriters like Leiber & Stroll who also wrote songs like “Hound Dog” and other great Rock & Roll hits. And of course while at Motown I got a chance to learn from Berry Gordy, Smokey, and Holland Dozier Holland. Man it’s been like I went to songwriting college. I feel so blessed. It was all so much fun; so many great memories. And I just love good old R&B music that is our roots. Then I remembered that Otis and I had co-written this song that we never finished and it would be so cool to finished it and release it. So I decided to finish it and it sounds great. Feels great, too. It’s a fun song.

Samantha Hollins: Your voice is smooth like velvet and still fine as wine from then ‘til now. Do you have any rituals you do to preserve your gift as a vocalist?

Sidney Barnes: No, I’m just blessed to be able to do that. I was born with that ability. I had the chance to be a professional Vegas-style crooner but I’d rather be funky and innovative. But now that I’m older I’m glad I can croon and do standard songs that so many people love. It paid off big time when Deniece Williams hired me to go on tour with her and do the Johnny Mathis part to their big hit “Too Much Too Little Too Late”. The song was a huge hit for them but she wasn’t able to afford taking Johnny on the road with her so she hired the next best thing. She hired me and it was a great success, especially since I had sang back up with her and Maurice White on her big hit album, “This is Neicy”, as well as on her international hit single from the album “Free”. And yes, I sometimes do, do a few vocal exercises to warm up, and I smoke way too many cigarettes but I’ve actually never had a problem with my voice.

Samantha Hollins: When you choose Jazz Standards, what is that process like? Do the songs have to relate to your life’s journey? “Where Do I Begin?” made me wonder how close is that narrative to your personal story?

Sidney Barnes: Those Jazz tracks without the vocals are some of the prettiest instrumental tracks I’ve ever heard and the players are all masters. When I was offered the chance to be the vocalist on these tracks there was no way I was going to turn them down. Plus I had grown up hearing and loving these songs. I even sang “Unforgettable” to my wife at our wedding. She encouraged me strongly to do this album and I’m so glad that I did. Not too many old Rock ‘n’ Rollers like me can still sound this good, especially at my age. But again, I’m blessed…and yes “Where Do I Begin” is sort of personal to me after losing my wife last year. She was an amazing lady. We had been married for almost 20 years…but, like I said, I’m blessed.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: Your history with George Clinton goes way back and forward. How does the vibe flow when you two get together and make creative noise?

Sidney Barnes: George and I not only have a great deal of love and respect for each other, we’re close in age with the same kind of background and we’re both visionaries…and we got some serious history together. So that alone makes it always a pleasure to work together. Outside of Mike Terry of the Funk Brothers, I’m the only person to have had a production company with George and have a hit record with him outside of Parliament-Funkadelic. “I Bet You”, a song which Parliament recorded and then Jackson 5 and several other artists recorded it. I’ve sung on several of George’s albums with him and the crew. I’ve even got a song we recorded together on one of my new albums called “A P-Funk Fairy Tale” and he’s featured on it. I love working with George but sad that we haven’t done it in a while. 

Samantha Hollins: Your career spans over many years and music industry changes, yet you manage to keep growing with the flow. What next? What is the evolution of your legacy?

Sidney Barnes: Well I want to get as many of my original songs out, even the ones in demo form, so that if something happens to me the songs aren’t just laying around somewhere collecting dust. I want my family and some charity to receive a portion of the royalties which over the years could amount to millions of dollars. I’m currently working with an attorney to help me set up a major Music Publishing Administration deal for my catalogue, and so far that seems like it’s going to happen really soon. I want to be nominated for a Grammy in two categories: “BEST Male Jazz Vocals”& “BEST Urban Contemporary R&B album”. I don’t want to win; just be nominated. I want to do some small tours, and some shows overseas where I have a sizable following of fans on the Northern Soul scene in the UK. I’m creating a movie related to the music business in 1954; sort of a docudrama called “Rhythm & Blues (the movie)”, and get with George Clinton to create a killer soundtrack. And continue to sell my 500+ page autobiography “Standing On Solid Ground”. Then hire a really good publicist to advertise myself and go around talking to people that need encouragement and help as many people as I can to find their strengths, follow their dreams, and set goals for themselves and stuff like that. That’s how I want to be remembered: that Sidney Barnes loved to spread love through music and through his life experience words of wisdom…and how we all are blessed.

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

Samantha Hollins: As a Rock ‘n’ Roll Artist in this day and age I am intrigued by your history. You opened many doors for artists like myself to continue the journey. Thank you so much!

I appreciate your time and all that you have done to contribute to the landscape of music worldwide past present and future. You are a national treasure that I celebrate with this interview.

Sidney Barnes: Thank you. I always enjoy talking about the good old days and about my journey. Peace & love to the world and continue to share your creativity with others. That inspires them.

Sidney Barnes’ first single, “Love Song: On The Radio” will be released on the international record label BarVada. It’s a groovin’ odyssey into the land of Funk and Dance music with clever upbeat lyrics that tells a story of the greatest love songs. Sidney Barnes’ voice glides over the track with smooth surrender, giving us once again another classic love song. 

The Universe has truly given us a bonafide Rockstar in Sidney Barnes. His creative energy transcends all space and timeless music. May we continue to honor his legacy right now from the Moon to the Earth…past, present and future…for all he’s undeniably worth. 

Photos courtesy of Sidney Barnes 

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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 


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) 


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:


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


Photo By: Samantha Hollins

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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.


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

Photo courtesy of NOMADA Music 

Edited by: Ronin Ali Hollins

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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: 


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:


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.


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.


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.