RIP Tony J. Look 2020, don’t start. I can’t tolerate another year of losing so many wonderful folks 2019 took us through. I thought I was going to get a break, but then this happened. Just like he would want me too, I’m claiming positivity, health and prosperity in spite of the devastating loss of STL radio favorite and all around good dude Tony J. I can still hear his “What Up Doe,” in my head as I type this. Man, we had a good one in him. Tony J used his brand – and his bread (yep, he went into his own pocket to keep the Traffic Music Awards going) to keep the talent in this city pumped up. Plenty of times, he put promoting their talent ahead of his own. Listen, I can’t tell y’all how hard I laughed at some of Tony J’s traffic reports, especially that one time when he broke the song, because he couldn’t figure out how to say Spoede and keep the rhythm going. My all-time favorite Tony J. memory was when that comedian A. J. Johnson, who played Ezal in “Friday,” kept trying to clown Tony. He was trying to be graceful about it, but then he gathered old boy like he was leaves in the front yard. “These are your little jokes? If you didn’t have any material, you should have let us know.” I still holler at how you could hear poor Ezal’s voice shrivel up on the radio. He probably wanted to fight Tony after that. But knowing Tony, he had a big grin on his face. That’s just one of many. We had a true gem rolling in that Geo. Tony J, with your “Trafficccaaa,” you forever left your mark on St. Louis radio. I hate to see you go, but I hated even more to see you suffer. Now soar with the angels.
Sir Ervin’s open mic surprise. I promised y’all I would get to it – even though it is late at this point. But for matter of public record, I feel the need to share what a blast I had with poet/actor/director/playwright Sir Ervin Williams III a couple of Fridays ago at a private event space on the south side. The folks packed it out to the point where it was such a sauna in there that for the second half, I stood outside and ear-hustled the rest of the show. That’s the downside of being super supported, I suppose. I expected to hear some words masterfully turned, which I got. Shout out to all the poets who did their thing as Erv’s crew knows how to do. But I got a few things I didn’t expect. First off, I didn’t expect the wholistic well woman’s exam lecture. I can’t say that I was comfortable with any of it – even as the rest of the ladies seemed to get their life from the best practices of – well, let’s just say non-traditional ways of getting certain body parts primed for pregnancy. That poor child in the crowd was surely traumatized. I was thrilled with Ervin’s mother’s soulful birthday song to all the Capricorns. And whatever family member that was that caught a whole vibe from the drummer certainly set it off for the second half of the show. I’m glad you decided to pull the evening together. It was certainly unforgettable.
Happy b-day Word Up. Since I’m on the subject of spoken word, let me take a moment to shout out Word Up’s 5 year anniversary. I stopped though Legacy Books and Café to show love last Tuesday and they had a cute crowd – especially for a Tuesday. I caught up with some old friends and caught a vibe.
Celebrating with the frats and sorors. Listen, I felt like it was 19_____(mind your business) and I was rotating though HBCUs the way these black Greeks turned up throughout the city and the county in the name of Founder’s Day festivities. It’s been going on two weeks of me poppin’ in and out of parties just as the strolls got good. Kappa Alpha Psi kicked it off for me at Brennan’s on Sunday, January 5. Then it was the Sigmas at the Signature Club and the Deltas at the Grand Hall on Chouteau. Oh, and you divas have a Nupe to thank for me coming though and getting my whole life as y’all stomped down 90s style. If it weren’t for Jim Triplett telling his frat they should be ashamed for not showing love to y’all’s party, I would have totally forgotten about it. I’m so glad he had his moment, because I got a chance to see some of my favorite DST queens. LaWanda Hall, Romney, Jodi Squires, Angela Brown, Erica Bumpers, Trina Claggett, Alice Prince…yes, I’m talking about y’all. If I missed any of my faves – which I’m sure I did – please charge it to my head and not my heart. And while I’m on the subject of Founder’s Day celebrations, I am probably perched at an AKA J15 jam as you are reading this. I will tell you all about next week. I hate to pull another stay tuned, but it had to be done because J15 fell midweek.
Rick Ross didn’t make the roll. I know folks have questions. I don’t have answers as to why Rick Ross absent from The Pageant. I have a feeling it was weather related. And even if it wasn’t, I must admit that I was quietly thrilled that I didn’t have to skate around these streets like I was at Steinberg just to catch Rozay. I would have done it (as long as they were only reasonably bad) to show my support for RockHouse. I can’t say that I would have braved the ice and been happy about it. Now the snow man (a.k.a. Jeezy) is a different story. You best bet I will be front and center on Saturday, January 25 – rain, sleet or snow…well, within reason.
Last laughs at the latest location. Sunday night I stopped through for the final night of the Laugh Lounge at its West Florissant incarnation after more than two years. They had a nice roster of rising stars and established comedy vets roll through. Some I wouldn’t have seen had they not brought them. My favorite introduction was D’Lai. Jessie Taylor went out with a gut busting bang. I hollered at all of those NSFP (not safe for Partyline) jokes of his as usual. And I caught quite the cackle from his protégé Richie. I don’t know, it’s something about that prep school voice and baby face telling those grown folks only jokes had me giggling all night. He’s young, but I can see the potential Jessie sees in him. And his willingness to try jokes that may or may not work is not lost on me. When he talked about his old lady girlfriend having everything in her big purse, including that screwdriver bit – which I won’t ruin the punchline for in case he uses it when he’s famous – was hilarious. I don’t know what the Laugh Lounge team have lined up as far as a next location, but I will be sure to keep you posted.