Sunday, January 6th:
Avotcja, Poet & Musician

A double shot of Avotcja love on the first Sunday of 2013! Poetry at 2 p.m.    —     Modupue at 4:30 p.m.

2:00 pm – With Every Step I Take:  Avotcja is joined by Q.R. Hand and Eliza Shefler to celebrate her book of selected poems just published by Bill Vartnaw’s Taurean Horn Press.

4:30 to 6:30 pm – Avotcja & Modupue:  Modupue is a fantastic aggregation of musicians with a flexible roster that for this date will include Yancy Taylor on vibes, pianist Jon Jang and bassist Eugene Warren.

Avotcja is a national treasure, without a doubt — and an unrivaled cultural figure in these parts.  She’s a pioneer, an individualist and a fierce champion of the many engaged musicians and poets that she perceives to dig deep into their art, rooted in a diverse and vibrant progressive community unique to the Bay Area and universal in its essence.

Avotcja with Famoudou Don Moye in the late 1960s

With New York, Afro-Puerto Rican roots, Avotcja was performing her poetry and music professionally by age 14.  She left for L.A. the next year, and found work in the area’s strawberry fields, likely contracting multiple sclerosis from her exposure to the pesticide use endemic to the industry of the day.  In the ensuing decade, Avotcja traveled widely, spending significant time on the fertile L.A. cultural scene of the late sixties, in the company of giants like Black Arthur Blythe, Billy Higgins and Horace Tapscott, before coming up to the Bay Area in the early 1970s.  Here, she has long and justly been held in high regard as a performer and for her radio work on KPFA and KPOO.  She’s won a raft of awards along the way, and her band Modupue was twice named Jazz Group of the Year, in 2005 and again in 2010, by the Bay Blues Society Hall of Fame.

We’ve presented Modupue as our kick-off Sunday concert each year for four years running, in appreciation of their fantastic music and chemistry, and as a small gesture of thanks to Avotcja for all she’s contributed to the culture–and continues to contribute without ceasing.  It’s very much a pleasure to host the launch of her book as well this Sunday.  We regard her written work to be of a piece with her music, and believe Taurean Horn to be among the most crucial small presses in the region.

Poet Genny Lim has said, “Avotcja is one tough, no-nonsense poet, deejay, teacher, jazz and world music aficionado.  Her homegrown roots stretch from funk to rhythm and blues and jazz in a blazing trail of tongue-lashing poetry accompanied by some of the hottest Bay Area musicians playing.”

Says activist and educator Betita Martinez, “Avotcja is a unique voice among our poets, musicians, playwrights and other creative folk today.  She combines a fierce, persistent and consistent passion for justice with a beauty of words, sounds and  image that can take your breath away. To put it simply, Avotcja is a national and international treasure.”

Regarding her work with Modupue, author Ishmael Reed’s liner notes to their “Live at Yoshi’s” cd observe that “Her ‘Oaktown Blue’ ranks with the works written by the best blues writers, Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes & Sterling Brown included.  Jon Jang has some fabulous “chops”!  He can play in styles, Chinese as well as Black, without ever being a tourist. His ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ would please Roy Hamilton.”

Avotcja performing with Sandi Poindexter and Billy Dunn