In 2008 the Detroit Tastefest featured five of my favorite performers. Nadir Omowale and his Distorted Soul Band, Khary Kimani Turner (brother in name and mentor in game), Ortheia Barnes (my Godmother), Monica Blaire (another Godchild of Mama Barnes), and Carolyn Striho were all headline performers. It was one of the first times in life I knew enough performers at a big event to get a backstage pass, without a backstage pass. All the performances were special. The most memorable was Carolyn Striho’s. It was the second time we performed together, and a day to remember.
Summer of 2008 was a three month party. My friends Brandon Jessup, Kasey Sherman, Mike Willingham, and Dawon Wooden stayed out and about throughout Detroit. Kasey’s from Detroit, and has spent his adult life in Washington DC. In 2008 he managed a hotel. That Summer he spent in Detroit. Though I was home in Detroit, Kasey was on vacation, and sought out no dull moment. When I mentioned I was performing at the Tastefest, Kasey jumped at the opportunity to finally see me perform live. Kasey invited his younger brother Ian Sherman, and our mutual best friend Loren Braxton. Ian is the co-executive producer of my soon to be released “If Detroit were Heaven” album. Ian also is the best producer I work with. We challenge one another to create better music. In 2008 at the Tastefest we met for the first time.
I always enjoyed the feel of the Detroit Tastefest. It was my favorite Detroit festival. It was held in the New Center Area. New Center is relatively close to my home, and down the street from Northwestern HS where I graduated. I appreciated the mix of culture at the Detroit Tastefest. Foods, music, and people filled the streets of West Grand Blvd, Second, and Third Ave. This in memory is an inspirational sight for me. It was the only festival I’d see many people from my neighborhood and high school as an adult.
Carolyn Striho enjoyed and appreciated the chemistry we sparked on stage before. So leading up to the 2008 Tastfest she invited me to perform with her as well. I gladly accepted. I’ve always felt Carolyn’s performance is remarkable. When I share a stage with Carolyn I only look to keep the energy and passion at the height of which she performs. So for the 2008 Tastefest before a full audience cheering her own, I delivered one of my best performances. At the time Scott Dailey and Carolyn (now married) had just begun playing together. Brandon (Carolyn’s bass player at the time, now residing in Boston) and Ron (Carolyn’s drummer) kept a hip-hop rhythm that I could freestyle to (freestyle is the improvisational style of giving a rap performance while creating rap lyrics simultaneously). Carolyn joined in on the freestyle as well. On stage we went verse for verse in eight bar stanzas four times over. I believe the joy of freestyling on stage keeps my presence of mind. I also think freestyling on stage allows me the opportunity to be more responsive and cognizant to the audience. Tastefest 2008 was the culmination of both advantages I find in freestyling. Adding to my performance was the wit and showmanship of Carolyn Striho. Kasey, Ian, and Loren loved the performance. Soon after Carolyn closed out her set and introduced us to Howard Glazer.
Howard’s an old school rock and roller in spirit, energy, and action. When Brandon saw Carolyn introduce us to Howard he immediately began laughing and telling us ‘that guy’s going to keep you at it.’ The ‘it’ Brandon was referring to was Jagerbombs (Jagerbombs are shots of Jagermeister liquor and Red Bull energy drink). Howard insisted on sharing shots, and Kasey accepted. Loren, Ian, and I had two or three. Kasey and Howard finished off a fifth. As they continued drinking Howard told us stories about classic Detroit rock, and the best ways to get sound from speakers. Backstage between shots Kasey was dancing, inviting over women from the crowd to backstage, and turning backstage into a party. Eventually we filled the backstage area up to the point security kicked us out. Kasey, Howard, Loren, Ian, six or seven women Kasey just met, and I were collectively escorted out the backstage area during the next performance. We parted ways with Howard, bought tickets, and hung out with women.
Tastefest 2008 was pure Rock and Roll.