PDX Black Musicians to support this Juneteenth
Written by Rachelle on June 19, 2020
Juneteenth is the day the last of slaves in the United States were freed. Slavery had legally been abolished more than two years prior but communication of this and enforcement of the law did not occur in the further reaches of the states (particularly Texas) until June 19th 1865.
I had not heard of this holiday until two years ago (June 2018) from a coworker who was going to a celebration party for Juneteenth. It sounded like a made-up word and googled it to check that it wasn’t a hipster made up thing like Dapper BaconFest. Like so many other parts of history I didn’t learn in public school, Juneteenth is real and should not be skipped over.
To be fair this same coworker also had not heard of Bastille Day (July 14th) celebrating the day French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in Paris to free political prisoners and put the prison guards’ heads on spikes in front of the gates. Guillotines were not used so this was a pretty violent day. The Bastille is no longer standing, every brick was removed and a monument now stands in its place. As monuments to slave holders are taken down today, I think of the Bastille and the effort required to physically break down an entire building brick by brick.
My relatives in France who I was staying with on Bastille Day last year, asked me to bring music from the States. As one of my cousins put it, “the best French musician is not as good as the worst American musician”. I disagree but understand his point. The music scene in America, particularly my home town of Portland, Oregon far out paces any music scene in the Provençal towns of southern France.
This is due to Black Music. All music in America today would not be possible without Black Culture. Even British bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles attribute their sound to American Black Music. Not to say there aren’t Black musicians in the UK or France, but the unique culture and music which arose out of Black Americans is responsible for the music we love today.
As I loaded up USB drives of music and curated Spotify playlists for my French cousins, I realize that even in the whitest city of America our music is deeply influenced by Black Culture. If you listen to the guttural moans and wails in Blues music (highly recommend anything by Muddy Waters) you can instantly connect with the “yeah” and “alright” heard in 50s and 60s pop music. The rebellious spirit and screams in Punk and Metal music and easily be heard in Afro-beat and Blues music. Just think of the scream in “I put a spell on you” by Screaming Jay Hawkins and compare that to The Clash’s “London Calling”. You could argue the emotional inflection of the voice is actually more intense in Metal and Punk music but the scream produced by Little Richard, James Brown, and other Black musicians clearly gave Metal and Punk musicians the idea. Anyone who plays a rocking guitar can thank Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
I’m certain there are better examples out there; I’m not an expert on Black culture or even Black music. I’m super white as in turns crispy red even with SPF 50 (see meme below for reference). That said, I am considered an expert on Portland music. As such, I curated a playlist on Spotify (I wish some more musician friendly service would put out a playlist creator option) and listed links at the bottom for where you can check out Black Portland musicians on Bandcamp.
For the Juneteenth holiday Bandcamp is donating 100% of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Many artists have special releases today, with their shares of sales going to a variety of worthy causes. Record Store Day is still awesome but today your music purchases can actually help change society.
Black PDX music playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/14Yrt96qajWMevKkSMOHXy?si=4M3NghG6SPmQf2PtuuJV6w
Black PDX musicians to support on Bandcamp (in order of playlist songs linked above):
Donte Thomas: https://dontethomas.bandcamp.com/
Dirty Revival: https://dirtyrevival.bandcamp.com/
Speaker Minds: https://speakerminds.bandcamp.com/
Liv Warfield: https://livwarfield.bandcamp.com/
Tribe Mars: https://tribemars.bandcamp.com/
Brownish Black: https://brownishblack.bandcamp.com/
The last Artful Dodgr: https://thelastartful.bandcamp.com/
Vinnie Dewayne: https://vinniedewayne.bandcamp.com/
Kayela J: https://kayelaj.bandcamp.com/
Ripley Snell: https://ripleysnell.bandcamp.com/
Mic Capes: https://miccapesmusic.bandcamp.com/
Rasheed Jamal: https://rasheedjamal.bandcamp.com/
Cool Nutz: https://coolnutz.bandcamp.com/
Myke Bogan: https://mykebogan.bandcamp.com/
Like A Villian: https://likeavillain.bandcamp.com/
Esperanza Spalding: https://esperanzaspaldingfredhersch.bandcamp.com/
Musicians not on Bandcamp you can still support here:
Born Cosmic: https://soundcloud.com/borncosmic
Ural Thomas & The Pain: https://www.uralthomasandthepain.com/