“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
On Saturday night, I went to a performance of Brian Richburg and his band New Legaxy. I met Brian when he was 17 playing at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. At that time, he was playing with musicians two and three times his age and when I heard him play I knew why. During a break I started talking with him and from there we started a lasting friendship. The track on Navigating Our Way is Brian’s composition and playing. Since then; he’s graduated Berklee College of Music toured the world; is the leader of the New Legaxy band; is coming out with an album; and lives in Washington Heights. Whenever he plays in San Diego he gives me a call and gets me a pass to the show. I was at his 20th birthday and he’s now 23.
It is unusual to have a bandleader be the drummer but when that happens watch out. The rhythm section takes over with lots of innovation. Think Max Roach, Art Blakey, Buddy Rich. Here’s an earlier bio of Brian’s. It is a testament and a premonition of things to come:
Drummer Brian Richburg Jr. was born and raised in New Orleans, and began playing in his father's church at an early age. While growing up, he was exposed to the diverse sounds and cultures that define the uniqueness of that city. Richburg's drumming incorporates the African and Caribbean inspired rhythms of the New Orleans street bands. Brian is a National Young Arts Finalist and a 2016 ASCAP Louis Prima Award Winner! He has toured/recorded with the likes of Nicholas Payton, Cautious Clay, Joss Stone, Kiefer, Donald Harrison Jr., Ellis Marsalis, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Delfeayo Marsalis, Marsha Ambrosious, and many others. Many of the elders and griots believe that Brian is the next one coming out of New Orleans to push the music forward. “In my opinion he is the most conceptually defined drummer for his generation of young drummers, he possesses a very personal sound which is a complete rarity, and his humility surpasses all of the above” - Chief Adjuah (formerly known as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah)
A few days in NYC with Scott Boldt was a whirlwind of activity. We just about completed Learning to Leave and also had dinner with Arthur Rubenfeld, the Executive Vice President of Starbucks Corporation with my buddy Denis who owns the KBG Bar (uKraine Bar and Gallery). Then, what happens every time I go to NYC happened again. I was standing on a subway platform on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn with Scott and a woman walked over to me and said: “Elliot?” Yep, believe it or not Constanze was someone I met on Kauai who does work on food and nutrition. She was always interested in BPL and now we have set up a time to talk further.
This week in the NY Times Magazine section, MacArthur Fellow Desmond Mathew wrote a hard-hitting piece, Why Poverty Persists in America. In 80 years, why hasn’t the needle moved?
In the article he discusses different systems of banking, labor, credit, housing and health pointing to one word, exploitation that he defines in specific ways as a large factor in the persistence of poverty. It is odd that he doesn’t mention the education system. I’m curious as to why not?
“Our vulnerability to exploitation grows as our liberty shrinks.” Desmond Mathew
And, to go along with this article, a poem by Kurt Vonnegut as an antidote to poverty…
True story, Word of Honor: Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer now dead, and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?” And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?” And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” Not bad! Rest in peace!
Next week, I’m in Oakland doing a podcast with Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post and Dr. Phil Polakoff, Executive Director of A Healthier We and then back in San Diego for meetings with Andy Trakas at Einstein Charter Schools. I was on a call with Phil, Holly and Loren about doing a film on the BPL Native American Initiative focused on the health system. As Phil told me, if you take the “I” out of illness and replace it with “we” you get wellness. More to come.