I love to learn new things. Try to learn something new everyday. Sometimes its something totally simple, like grasping the basic principles behind having an urban garden (you should see our kale and summer lettuce!); other times it can be challenging, like learning the lyrics to a song in just one day and absorbing it well enough so I can accompany a visiting artist on the show like I’m part of their touring band (love that). Sometimes it’s even mundane, like learning a short cut on my computer.
The day I learned to appreciate rap music was the day that the Minneapolis-based hip-hop duo Atmosphere (MC Sean “Slug” Daley and producer Anthony “Ant” Davis) appeared on eTown. Rocked my world and changed my outlook on the genre. Their incredible live performance is just part of it. It’s really their weighty, thought-provoking subject matter and the overachieving-underdog spirit behind the music they make that made me realize that not all rap is the same. Not by a long shot.
These guys are telling us that we all matter, we’re all connected, we all count, and each and every one of us has the ability to make good stuff happen. They’re about empowering people and urging them to be the best they can be. (That’s what we’ve been saying on eTown since Day One! So of course they are a perfect fit on the show.)
By the way, when I first met Sean (Slug) it was waiting in line at catering during rehearsal/soundcheck (I actually first struck up a conversation with him thinking he was one of the Atmosphere tour crew). During our chat, I learned two things (which made it a particularly good day in my book): One, that he was one of the head guys in the duo; and two, turns out he and I grew up just blocks apart on the same street in Minneapolis – several years apart mind you but hey he’s someone who knows firsthand my old neighborhood! That was way cool for me.
Anyways I’m telling you all this to lead up to the fact that we are re-broadcasting that show this week. We got so much feedback about it that we just had to bring it back for you to enjoy.
Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Andersen is also with us. A striking figure with a huge mane of flaming red hair, this big, strong, strapping mountain of a man (you have to check out the videos) has a soulful voice to match his towering physique. His killer blues sound has already earned him honors including ECMA Blues Recording of the Year and the Maple Blues Entertainer of the Year. He’s truly a powerhouse of a performer.
Our eChievement Award story this show goes to a man who spearheaded the creation of a school that uses a lottery system to choose its students (rather than taking the standard cream-of-the-crop high test score kids and leaving the rest behind), then guides, supports and educates those students to prep them for college (the success rate? 100% of their graduates get accepted to institutions of higher learning . . pretty damn cool).
I just realized I learned something today: I’m seeing a theme running through this show that I hadn’t seen before. It’s the celebration of those of us who are not mainstream, who’re doing things in an alternative way, who may not be the ‘norm,’ or the ‘popular’ kids in school, but who are accomplishing amazing stuff.
I like it. Hope you do too.