January 28, 2013
Smithsonian museums in the Washington, D.C. area as well as the National Zoo will open at noon Monday, due to inclement weather.
An early morning round of freezing rain left roads slick with ice as federal workers and schools around the area got off to a slow start. Canada would like to remind us, via Huffington Post, that cold weather has some perks too, eh? Like making it more difficult for some viruses and bacteria to live. Plus you can effectively “wash” your bed linens by hanging them out in the cold. We’d recommend waiting for the rain to stop, though, before you give that a try.
January 21, 2013
Inauguration day, it’s finally here, along with millions of visitors looking to take in some uniquely D.C.-culture. While our special presidents tour from our visitors guide app will keep you exploring in your spare-time, this post is all about the when, where and how of January 21. Plus, a few select events happening around the Smithsonian, you know, in between the whole inauguration thing.
On Inauguration Day, January 21, Smithsonian museums on the National Mall are open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A few museums will open early—the Castle opens at 7:30 a.m., Sackler Gallery, Freer Gallery, Hirshhorn and African Art open at 8 a.m. Mall entrances on the south side will be closed. Visitors will be asked to use the Independence Ave. entrances.
The American Indian Museum and the Renwick Gallery are closed January 21.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Luce Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Lunder Conservation Center will be closed Sunday, January 20.
Most streets around the National Mall—including Independence and Constitution avenues and Jefferson and Madison drives—will be closed Monday, January 21.
The Archives, Smithsonian and Mt. Vernon Square stations will be closed Sunday, January 20 to Monday, January 21, midnight to 5:30 p.m. All other stations will open Monday, January 21 at 4 a.m.
No Parking on the National Mall after 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 20.
All museums, open to the public during designated hours, have accessible restrooms
Live broadcast of the swearing-in ceremony in Flag Hall in American History Museum, beginning at 11:30 a.m. A live broadcast will also begin at 11:30 a.m. at the African Art Museum.
Inaugural theme walk-in tours, Monday, January 21, 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. at the American Art Museum.
For “Super Sonic Weekend: Sounds and Songs of the American Presidency” (all day Monday), Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is streaming audio recordings related to the American presidency, from a 1757 campaign song used by George Washington in his first race for the Virginia House of Burgesses, to presidential speeches and much more.
Tour America’s Presidents at the National Portrait Gallery at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
At the National Portrait Gallery: ”Portrait of President Barack Obama” The original artwork, a hand-finished collage by artist Shepard Fairey, from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign is on view January 19 – 22. The work is joined by two larger-than-life tapestry portraits of the president by artist Chuck Close.
At the American Indian Museum: ”A Century Ago: They Came as Sovereign Leaders” This photo exhibition focuses on President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade and the six great chiefs who participated in the parade arriving with their own purposes in mind and representing the needs of their people.
At the National Museum of African American History and Culture Gallery in the American History Museum: Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963″ In 2013 the country will commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation-the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Standing as milestone moments in the grand sweep of American history, these achievements were the culmination of decades of struggles by individuals – both famous and unknown – who believed in the American promise that this nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
November 14, 2012
Even if Mozart’s generation had worn porkpie hats instead of powdered wigs, pianist Jason Moran doubts he would have opted for a classical music career over jazz.
Though he finds the European classical music that he has studied since age six artistically beautiful, it doesn’t move him emotionally the way jazz does, he says. Jazz, America’s classical music, has a sound he can relate to, a cultural history he can identify with, and role models, who have inspired him since he was a teen growing up in Houston.
“For me Thelonious Monk became the mountain top,” he says.
Now as Artistic Advisor of Jazz at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the MacArthur Genius Award winner is drawing on those memories to make jazz both personal and emotionally engaging for a new generation.
Making music relevant so that it touches people where they live was a focus of a recent Kennedy Center happening, “Insider Event with Jason Moran,” that offered insight into Moran’s aspirations for jazz music and education programming at the Kennedy Center, a role previously held by his mentor, the late jazz pianist Billy Taylor.
“Billy would ask, ‘are you making people dance? Are people listening to your music, Jason?’” he recalls Taylor saying to encourage him to stay attuned to the needs and feelings of his audiences.
If music is a universal language, Moran is an articulate, multi-linguist, providing the right sound for the occasion. At the historic groundbreaking on the Mall for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in February 2012, Moran performed as the jazz artist of choice. Throughout the Kennedy Center discussion, his words and thoughts flow effortlessly between his responses to interviewer Willard Jenkins and the piano Moran plays to musically punctuate points.
“Music is more than notes. It’s emotions,” says the 37-year old. Younger audiences crave emotional engagement in their learning. People remember music that touches them, is generationally relevant, and emotionally stimulating. He offers examples.
After his grandmother died, he says he paid homage to her spirit musically at a family gathering, playing Duke Ellington’s tune Single Petal of a Rose. As the artist spoke, the room filled with the sound of the beautiful, haunting melody as Moran’s improvisations evoked memories of his grandmother.
“I knew which notes I played were making my aunts cry,” Moran remembers. He talked to his family by letting the music speak words his voice couldn’t.
On election night, he hosted a party at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Revelers talked and watched the returns on a big screen while grooving to live, jazz infused with everything from blue grass to electronic mix music to old campaign songs like “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet or Crazy, which was Ross Perot’s theme song,” Moran says, playing the tunes.
The idea was to create a memorable experience that made jazz, campaign music, and political tidbits a winning combination.
Another recent jazz program featured the band Medeski, Martin and Woods offering a millennial happening as more than 300 people stood for hours in a mosh pit environment connecting with jazz infused this time with rhythms from funk to hip hop. An “older” patron who attended wanted a chair, says Moran, but still got the point.
A recent music event invoked the spirit of vaudeville and bygone jazz club scenes when Woody Allen played the Village Vanguard and Miles Davis shared a bill with Richard Pryor. Billed as an ode to jazz and jokes, comedian David Allen Grier hosted the program that used comedy as a connector to the music.
With cultural tastes that run from Fats Waller to hip hop, Afrika Bambaataa and Jaki Byard to his wife Alicia, an accomplished opera singer, Moran says he views himself as a “musical tour guide” offering people “musical history that is very personal and engaging.”
If he has his way, jazz programming at the Kennedy Center will become a musical tour de force, reflecting the multiple joys and sorrows that comprise the lives of everyday peoples.
October 24, 2012
Joe Bataan’s Band is slamming, delivering high energy salsa rhythms and soulful funk with a 1960s intensity and a new freshness. A few original members remain in the band but it is Bataan, the smooth, Afro-Filipino vocalist and keyboardist reared in Spanish Harlem, who drives the eclectic sound.
At a recent performance at the National Museum of Natural History nearly 500 fans, mostly Asian, Black, and Latino—aging from millennial to middle age—clapped and danced in the aisles or their seats. Some waved album covers and sang along. At age 69, Bataan is still the king. After the concert, Bataan took a few minutes to discuss with me the highs and lows of his career.
How have your audiences changed over the years?
The first supporters of my music were Latinos. Then with my crossover into rhythm and blues, I got the African American folk who learned I was part black. They liked my style. Recently, we’ve gotten Filipinos, Asian populations and people all over the world— Australia, Spain, Germany. I’m hoping to make a trip to Argentina soon.
Why do you think you have such broad appeal? Is it your heritage as an African American-Filipino from Spanish Harlem?
The nostalgic sound of my music is beginning to have an awakening among people who remember it and others who never heard it before. People are turned on to the Latin Soul sound. Music is a universal language and I happen to appeal to different cultures because of my openness. Being open to different cultures is right up my alley. I think if someone who wasn’t open or didn’t have my story tried to do this it wouldn’t work.
The Fugees covered your music in their runaway album The Score. How did you feel about that?
I thought it was whimsical until I learned it was an infringement of my music. I kept quiet about that a long time. But they were good about it and settled with my attorneys. It brought recognition to my sound. I guess you could say I got in one lump sum what I never received all those early years.
As America embraces its diversity how is your story and music instructive?
There are so many talented Asians, especially Filipinos, who don’t share their gifts. A lot of talented Filipinos never get off the island. A lot of people with mixed backgrounds were lost. We didn’t know where we fit in. With my song Ordinary Guy (Afro-Filipino) they’re beginning to come out and show pride in their mixed heritage. It’s no longer something to hide. My message is, it’s time to stand up and be as aggressive about who you are in life and in music as you are in the workforce. Bruno Mars and one of the Black Eyed Peas are of Filipino heritage.
What’s next on your schedule?
I’m working with Kilusan Bautista on a Unity Program that will get Asians involved all over the world. We want to launch a Unity Day November 2. He does a wonderful play, Universal Self. My touring will take me back to the Philippines in February, to London in March, and Rutgers University in April.
Any final words from the King of Latin Soul to his fans?
This is something I used to tell my kids when I was a youth counselor. There are three ingredients to success. The first is Spirit. You must believe in a supreme being who is bigger than yourself. I thank the Lord and lift him up for my success. The second is Health. You must take time to take care of your body. And the third is Knowledge. It’s criminal to let a day go by without learning something new.
Joe Bataan performed and was honored at an October 19 Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center tribute highlighting his career and the socio-cultural activism of Asian, Latino and African American communities in the sixties and seventies. The Smithsonian Latino Center, The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The Smithsonian Immigration/Migration Inititative, Smithsonian Consortium for Understanding the American Experience, and the National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture were co-collaborators.
June 26, 2012
Tuesday, June 26 This Is Your Life: Duke Kahanamoku
Gear up for the Olympics with the American Indian Museum’s June Daily Films, which wrap up this week. In 1957, the TV show This Is Your Life hosted native Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku, who won the 100 meter race in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and later became a world famous surfer, to discuss his incredible journey to the Olympics and his legacy. Don’t forget to visit the related exhibition, “Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics.” Free. 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. American Indian Museum.
Wednesday, June 27 Bring Back the Funk
Get funkadelic with George Clinton, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk at the opening concert of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. These music legends are taking over the Mall to celebrate the 2012 groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (which will house Clinton’s iconic Mothership in its “Musical Crossroads” exhibition). Discover how funk has influenced hip hop, soul and rock—and get up and dance! Free. 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. National Mall.
Thursday, June 28 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Since 1967, the Folklife Festival has drawn more than one million people each year to celebrate community arts and culture. Meet musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks and storytellers who come to the Mall from all over the world. This year’s festival explores three themes: Campus and Community: 150 years of land-grant universities and the USDA; Citified: Arts and Creativity East of the Anacostia River and Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Check the Folklife Festival website for a full schedule of events. Free. Events run today through July 1 and again July 4 through 8. National Mall.