Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lost in History vol. 73 - Hip-Hop Gospel in Maria Hernandez Park - One Afternoon Only!

On Wednesday I had the second half of the afternoon off, and it was gossip catch-up time with the BFU (that’s Best Friend in the Universe, to those of you who didn’t know.) So I boogied by bike from East Bushwick to Williamsburg, caught-up with the lovely girl for an hour or so, shared a raspberry iced tea, marveled and planned a future fedora purchase at a South Williamsburg Hatter Tomatoes you've never had (but should! - email me for exact location!) I heard some on lower Broadway across from the WBridge Bus Depot, and made my way back home. After stopping to pickup some of the most amazing homemade Sundriedslammin' live music from Maria Hernandez Park across the street. So I hoisted our groceries, and biked up the slight hill to the open plaza in the heart of the park. I practically biked right into a serious urban gospel concert happening in the middle of the park, middle of the afternoon, middle of the week.
The chorus is comprised of 30 some-odd teenagers, mostly of the Latina & Afro variety, but with an assorted Asian up on the stage, all of them bouncing back and forth behind a 4 member band supporting a few different solo performers. Electric Guitar, Bass, keyboards and drums; all amplified and booming across the park, to the senior citizens on the benches, to the squadron of tykes on tiny bikes, to the dozen or so attentive listeners on the folding chairs, to the sarcastic older boys in the back row making snide comments, to the occasional hipster strolling past with a quizzical look on their face. The solo performers are alternating tracks between hip-hop, rap, soul, r&b, the odd & impressive hard rock track with a bitchin' guitar solo. But between all the nice beats, the grinning kids, the tshirts that say DIE HARD, LIVE FREE, the grooving rhythms is a message - that life is tough, drugs and violence can tempt one down the wrong road, but friends, family and Jesus Christ can help those in need.
I had stumbled upon a one-time only live performance from the YE Ministries. YE stands for Youth Explosion, and the backs of a few DIE HARD, LIVE FREE tees were emblazoned with a YE graffiti logo. Youth Explosion Ministries is a religious & spiritual group originating out of a Ministry on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale - aimed mostly at Junior High and High School students, but allowing the word to reach all. And all it did reach - the music was awesome. The positive presence was tight. The message, if one were to listen closely enough were indeed religious proselytizing, but proselytizing about the one and only God and living a life more attuned to pure expression and experience. And who can find anything wrong with that?! I left Maria Hernandez with a rhythm in my heart and an uplift in my spirit. And a badass mix cd, which I will gladly share with any who write and ask. (Along with the location of those delish homemade sun-drieds.)

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