We Did It!

ATG 2K17

We did it!


By just about every metric the first ever Axe To Grind Black Alternative Music Mega Concert was a success. “Rock” came home to San Francisco and found family, friends and loved ones ready to rock out with him. Rock brought his sista-Rock with him as it wouldn’t have been the same without her.

The evening got started with 14-year-old saxophone-phenom Kareem Wali of The Jamming Nachos teaming up with Oakland Future Trio for a jazz jam session.

That was followed by a full set from Oakland Future Trio. As expected these young SUPER musically gifted jazz musicians set the bar high for the ATG acts to follow. Caleb on keys, Ari on bass and Mikhi on drums. From top to bottom a freakish display of musicianship. These young guys make me proud to be a musician. They take the shit seriously as true playas should. Their musical wizardry is absolutely captivating. Highlight here was their neo-soul-smooth-jazz rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Jaws dropped when that haunting melody became clear to the ears. That was special! They also unleashed some jazzified originals. That is important to note because if these guys are the future of jazz (as I believe they are) they will have to bring fresh material to the game to push it forward. Check-mate here!

Stymie & The Pimp Jones Love Orchestra followed OFT. In true Stymie fashion he grabbed a chair, stood a top, and lead the PJLO into a funkyass booty bumping attack of fun loving dance music. The ATG Party had officially begun. Asses wuz shake’n everywhere. Band was tight as spandex on folks who should never wear spandex. This was a fun, fun, FUN show! In this line up of performers Stymie was the veteran performer among the veteran performers. He personifies black alternative as he has done so since the mid-nineties. He has been there, done that and remains that! The ATG show would not have been the same without him and his band.  Where do you hear horn lines in GOOD original funk music these days? You don’t unless your listening to music written by Stymie and performed by his badass band!

After that it was time for some head banging rock! Enter Quart of Blood Technique. These four-brothers by-passed the ATG backline and brought their own gear, cranked it up and blew us all away! Lead singer and QBT song writer Shaun Bivens was playful with the audience, effortlessly skillful on lead guitar and genuinely authentic in rock attitude. Did I mention these guys were loud? It was a rock show. It had to be loud. The ATG audience LOVED IT! These brothers remind us all that the roots of rock are black! They don’t talk about it. They just be-about-it! Go see them wherever they are playing. It will change your life forever! QBT know the rock game as they have been at it together or in other bands prior since they were kids. Highlights were a cover of The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” and everything they played from their Revenge of The Black Dragon Album.

The Jamming Nachos played an inspired set starting with Messiah on the mic opening with their Afropunk anthem “It Could Have Been Me” dedicated to unarmed black lives lost during encounters with police and wannabe police in America. The band flew in their lead singer Elena Ruiz all the way from college in New York City to be a part of ATG. Elena showed why. She rocked the mic like a young rock-goddess. Her childhood band mates brought the thunder. The only drum solo of the night happened in this set and it was world shattering! There were a couple of hiccups though. One during TJN fan favorite “Go to Work” the band had to figure out, on stage, in front of a live audience, how to get into the jam. What could have been a seriously awkward moment turned out to be one of the more entertaining events in a powerhouse genre-bending TJN set. The next generation of Black Alternative Music is here and it is rocking hard!

ATG chose to close the show with the Punk Funk Mob. Well played ATG organizers! Keep in mind up to this point each band lifted the room to higher and higher heights, set after set, song after song, jam after jam. Then Femi and PFM took to the stage and blew the roof of the mutha-sucka! I mean, Femi is the real deal! She lead her band. She commanded the audience. She rocked the house. And she did it all with an authentic punk “fuck you” attitude! She even took the ATG audience to “fuck you” church with a sermon leading up to a mind blowing performance of “Fuck Everybody But Me.” Quincy Ramone and the band kept the fuzzed out rock sound thick, funky and punk throughout the set. No frills here! This is was an in your fucking face performance by the SF Bay Area’s IN YOUR FUCKING FACE BAND! You should have fucking been there. 

However if you weren’t there don’t worry! When you finish reading, click on over to ATG-TV and check out the individual video performances and highlights. And whatever you do DON’T miss the next Axe To Grind Show!

This truly was the Bay Area’s Ultimate Black Alternative Music Experience!


Written between 4AM-5AM

Saturday 10-20-2017

Cuz I am a freaking Insomniac


            I like to think of rock 'n' roll as an infant abruptly taken away from its biological parents shortly after birth. I know, not a warm and fuzzy mental image. Hang with me here. One day that child (let's call him Rock) returns, all grown up, gently knocks and when his parents open the door instead of a warm embrace their child hears...who are you? In some imaginary scenarios Rock gets his ass kicked. His parents call the cops on him. You know, the whole "GTF" outta here treatment. Heartbreaking huh? I know! Well, that is how I see today’s relationship between rock music and the African American community. So many years of separation, decades, and culturally speaking most African Americans just don't recognize what their musical foreparents created.

 Art by  Rasul Madyun

          I gotta say that has long been my personal axe to grind. I was that rock kid raised in a predominantly African American community and when I fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll and brought it home, in me, people just didn’t recognize a brotha. However the music, the attitude and the energy, felt so natural to me. I sensed that there was something more to this natural connection. So I did a little research. It didn’t take much. I instantly found Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters, and Fats Domino. Then I researched some Jimi Hendrix and found he wrestled with some of these same awkward vibes aimed toward him by the African American music loving community of his day. Wow? I was like, dang! If Jimi, the god of rock, got the WTF are you doing from his peeps then what chance do the rest of us rock ‘n’ roll brothas and sistas have? It didn’t help that while rock was being held hostage, the music was simultaneously the victim of cultural identity theft. A whole genre of music worth ungodly amounts of money was developed and marketed on a global scale while the African Americans who gave birth to it sat on the sidelines kind of watching it all happen. What could they do? Generally speaking only a few recognized value in the art form. Most Black folks were content if not distracted by the legendary R&B, Soul and Funk music being created from the community during the same time period to even notice they were being robbed. All that history is there. It’s no secret! Just google “race music” and “race records” you will find multiple sources chronicling the deculturalization of rock ‘n’ roll from the black people who created it.

            Let’s fast forward to today. Here we find ourselves in the midst of the rise of something called “black alternative music." What is that? Is it rock? Yes! Punk? Yes! Is it funky? Yes! Is it bluesy? Uh-huh! Is it jazz? You can say that. It’s all of that and then some. Black alternative music transcends genres. The music covers it all because the people who create it cover it all. They come from all walks of life and they all bring their unique perspectives to the music. That is a huge part of what makes it alternative. Alternative to what? The music is an alternative to the current mainstream music produced by popular African American artists. It’s just that simple! It's really hard to find something different happening on traditional airwaves. Not to worry! The musical void is now being filled by super talented and musically creative black alternative artists right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Folks are out here doing it! They are here to give us all a choice. They are here to give us all a creative musical option. Options are good. Good options are better! That's wassup with Axe to Grind.

     Axe to Grind is home for black alternative artists, bands and musicians. This is a place where you will find the most beautiful, creative, talented and cutting edge artists doing whatever the hell they want to do. No holds barred! No questions asked, just freedom of expression on an unlimited musical scale. That is what is happening here at Axe to Grind. Sounds cool, right? We are talking about the musical descendants of the creators of rock ‘n’ roll here in the SF Bay Area, coming together to support one another, share creativity and produce the next new musical energy bound to inspire the world. Too big? We don’t think so! Hey if nothing else we will be able to say here at Axe to Grind, the inspiration of reconnecting rock “n” roll with the African American community has been reinvigorated with hopes of the inevitable family reunion... just a power chord away.


Founder of Axe To Grind