(Gil Scott Heron at Summerstage, Harlem; all pics enlarge.)
Honestly? I was embarrassed to feel a tiny knot of internal scepticism, walking through Marcus Garvey Park. Yes, it was early––about 6 in the eve––but diggin' the audience, and seeing the lawn behind the chairs looking very closed, I speculated if this would be the extent of the show. For free? I know Gil has some issues, but that's not the point––he hasn't disappeared, as critics claimed.
But hey––this loyal fan was here to hold down a good spot to include 2 fab friends; no small feat, 'cause in a mere half hour the crowd massed to a coupla' thousand, becoming difficult to defend my ever shrinking patch of grass.
Gil gave a fabulous performance. The cigarette cultivated gravel accumulated in his voice, had not yet buried it. He regaled us with his bullet-proof banter, classic songs and a piece from his new CD "I'm New Here", a title he found amusing ("'cause I been here"). He bigged up his band members, with both Kim Gordan (electric piano) and Charles Saunders (congas) each playing a selection from their new CD's. And for those of you who've been there, he rocked his encore with the perennial street anthem "The Bottle"––whoooee!
I tell you; what could be better than enjoying this iconic brother, with friends and fiber? It's the best, spinning to the originator of revolutionary soul. Shimoda, sporting her super-tight shades, brought along needlework.
Laura Gadson's (below) actually giving her hands a rest; when you see her work, you'll understand why.
I'm sending a special shout out to my compadre, king of the one line, the positively poetic artist Sir Shadow––thanks for your terrific calendar, it' always so good to see you, my brother.
The Why And For What
The major thank you has to go to Ms. Josy Dussek and The City Parks Foundation for organizing this event––you rock!
People, whether you travel to here, live here (or been here), please support this indie nonprofit organization responsible for making our parks the places to be, and yet another reason for all you artisans and crafters to enjoy these inner-city idylls.
And a big thanks to you, Gil Scott––because you've always been here for us.
Gil Scott Heron died yesterday, May 27, 2011 at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. Gil, I miss you.