Guest Post Alert!!! June Updates and More <3 <3 <3
Published on July 1, 2023 by Patrice Strahan
First of all, hello there everyone! My name is Patrice, I've been a Black Banjo Reclamation Project participant and collaborator since 2022. I wanna start things off by giving a huge shout out to Hannah Mayree, who has invited some of us to pop in and offer guests blog posts while they embark on the beautiful and challenging journey of introducing new life into the world and a new child into their family! Good luck Hannah and Red, we're all really excited for y'all and wishing y'all well (feel free to leave hella well wishes in the comments) 🙌🏾🌻🙌🏾
June was a month full of awesome events and seeds for future collaboration and co-creation 🌱 Way back in the beginning of the month, Black Banjo Reclamation Project held its online fundraiser event 'Roots All Over the World' on June 3rd. It was such a nice opportunity for some of us to share about our experiences at BBRP workshops and gatherings. We also got to talk about the ways that BBRP has created spaces for us to connect in Black diasporic community in order to build relationship and grow together on our own journeys with banjo, land kinship, and ancestral craft. I got to contribute by sharing my own story, as well as sharing a few songs. I recorded all the songs up on a hill in deep East Oakland behind where I live, which is a space that has become very special to me over the years. Though it's a freeway exit that attracts a lot of trash dumping and the like, it's also an extremely beautiful open space with places to sit quietly for hours and watch the view while practicing banjo :). Who else likes to find spots out in nature to practice and play? Were you able to make it to the fundraiser? If not, recordings are available - definitely check in about that if you're interested! For all members and supporters, the recording was already shared via email this week so check out your inbox - and check your spam folder if you don't see it!
On June 10th, a few of us were able to participate in Mo Roots Fest. Also in deep East Oakland, Mo Roots Fest is an all-day event held annually by the organization BoomShake. BoomShake is an intergenerational, multicultural music organization that holds community drumming workshops and organizes drumming groups that show up at protests and events. I myself have gotten to participate in BoomShake classes and groups and once got to be part of one of their May Day march drumming groups. I love the way they create different ways to learn and engage, including for complete beginners. They created Mo Roots Fest the year after the passing of their beloved teacher and founder Auntie Monica Hastings-Smith. The fun and family-oriented event honors Monica and our ancestors, and features altar spaces, workshops, performances, and great food : ) Last year I got to volunteer, but this year BBRP had a booth and I, Artlyn, and Ashley got to meet passersby and do a small song circle. Among other tunes, we sang and played a slower banjo cover of Nutbush City Limits by Tina Turner, who had also just recently transitioned to becoming an ancestor. We finished with a song about love and friendship that Auntie Monica used to teach. What are some of your favorite friendship songs? Which songs are your go-to's when contemplating and meditating on our ancestors?
Also in June, some of us got to spend fun times together at Gill Tract Community Farm in Albany. Our dear friend and BBRP participant Traver has been a VFE (Veteran Farm Educator) at Gill Tract for years now. Traver helps host the BIPOC farm days that are held at Gill Tract on Saturdays (come through if you're interested!). I started coming on Wednesdays too, in order to have informal farmy crafty days either solo or with a friend or two. In those times, we practice banjo craft, sing and play together, and also get our hands in the soil sometimes : ) For me, even if I'm there just working on things alone it has been an invaluable experience to be able to set aside time every week to be in community at the farm and practicing banjo building adjacent to folks working at the farm. The weather is getting nicer and nicer of course, and it's sweet to be tucked next to a tree and chiseling away at a banjo neck, while a few turkeys walk by 🦃 while a volunteer group is a few yards away prepping and planting beds for summer 🌾
So excited to be on this journey together and grateful to be in community with y'all <3
Please email/cc me and [email protected] if you're interested in being added to the BBRP Bay Area listserv!
(About Patrice: Originally from Nacotchtank (Anacostan) and Piscataway land (from towns colonially known as Bowie and Upper Marlboro, Maryland), Patrice (Black, cisfemme, she) has lived in the Bay area since 2014 and is currently in Ohlone Chochenyo territory in Oakland. She cultivated her love for music at an early age from singing in church choirs and playing in school bands. Her connection to communal music making was rekindled in adulthood through involvement in land stewardship/kinship projects and engaged spiritual social justice groups. In 2022, participating in a gourd banjo building workshop created by Hannah Mayree and the Black Banjo Reclamation Project was a great learning and community building experience. Through involvement with BBRP, she deepened her interest in learning more about the origins, legacy and future of Black folk music and culture. Her interests include crafts of all kinds, justice movements, reconnection with the histories and practices of Black diasporic community folk music, rituals, and Earth-based work.)