Day’s Plays Guest Post: Mark Cisneros


[You can hear Mark’s latest music here and here.]
These are some records I’ve been listening pretty heavy to. Truly some of my absolute favorites. Some old and new. They’ve been regular features in my monthly DJ sets and, now due to the pandemic, my livestreamed Blues and the Abstract Truth. Some have been with me for 25 years, and a couple are new releases that I am so excited about and very grateful for. 

Instead of adding my own commentary for each selection, I think it’s best to let them speak for themselves. I’ve included lyrics and text from these incredible documents. They uplift and speak to a greater consciousness than I could ever communicate.


Selection #1: Archie Shepp, Attica Blues (1972): “Attica Blues / Invocation: Attica Blues”

“I got a feeling that something ain’t going right, and I’m worried about the human soul. I got a feeling…”

“If I would have had the chance to make a decision, every man could walk this earth on equal condition. Every child could do more than just dream of a star. All the death and strife would cease, and I would put an end to war.”

“Only when nature doesn’t take it’s natural toll, am I worried for the human soul. Some people think that they are in their rights when on command they take a black man’s life. But let me give a rundown on how I feel… If it ain’t natural, than it ain’t real. I wish I were better.”

Words written by William G. Harris.
Sung by Henry Hull and spoken by William Kunstler.

Selection #2: Max Roach, Members Don’t Git Weary (1968): “Members Don’t Git Weary”

Members, don’t get weary
Members, don’t get weary
Members, don’t get weary
For the work’s ‘mos’done.

O’keep your lamp trimmed and burning
O’keep your lamp trimmed and burning
O’keep your lamp trimmed and burning
For the work’s ‘mos’done.

We’ll go down to the river Jordan
We’ll go down to the river Jordan
We’ll go down to the river Jordan
When our work is done.

We’re going to sit at the welcome table
We’re going to sit at the welcome table
We’re going to sit at the welcome table
When our work is done.

We’re going to feast on the milk and honey
We’re going to feast on the milk and honey
We’re going to feast on the milk and honey
When our work is done.

We’re going to march with the tallest angel
We’re going to march with the tallest angel
We’re going to march with the tallest angel
When our work is done.

Members, don’t get weary
Members, don’t get weary
Members, don’t get weary
For the work’s ‘mos’done. 

Negro Spiritual. Sung by Andy Bey 

Selection #3: Joe Henderson featuring Alice Coltrane, The Elements (1973): “Earth”

Time
Time
Time
Time
the suffocator of the moment now
dreams of tomorrow
where we will find the missing pieces
and on a new journey to wholeness
Time
Time
Time
Peace
Love
Hope
moving on the wings of the moment now
Time
Time
Time
children of the soil rejoice
yesterday was
tomorrow never is
Time is now
Time
Time is only love

Words written and spoken by Kenneth Nash

Selection #4: Albert Ayler, The Last Album: “Again Comes The Rising of the Sun”

Again comes the rising of the sun
Another day when we’ve begun
The unfinished chores of yesterday
We set about to find our way
We always finish and begin
We go through life until the end
And here are the things we do

We build it up, and tear it down
We start all over, and make it round
We can make it short, make it long
Before we know it, our time is gone
But tomorrow is always another day
Yes we’ll keep going the same old way

But again comes the rising of the sun
Another day when our work has begun
We look for the better things in life
Seeking to find an answer day and night
Always studying and planning to make a profit
And in the end we sometimes wonder if it’s worth it

And here are the things we do
We build it up, and tear it down
We start all over, and make it round
We can make it short, make it long
Before we know it, our time is gone
But tomorrow is always another day
Yes we’ll keep going the same old way

Written and sung by Mary Maria Parks 

Selection #5: Irreversible Entanglements, Who Sent You? (2020): “The Code Noir / Amina” 

“Stay on it.”
“At what point do we stand up? At what point do we stand up? At the breaking point? At the point of no return? At what point? At what point do we pull each other up out of the void… up out of the hell… at one point? At what point do we give a shit – do we stand up and say something? When we go off script… and step out of the daze.  Dumbfounded daze… when we step out of the daze… dumbfounded daze… return back to the now. At what point?”

Words written and spoken by Moor Mother/Camae Ayewa 

Selection #6: Damon Locks’ Black Monument Ensemble, Where Future Unfolds (2019): “Statement of Intent / Black Monument Theme”

“Safety is in question. As the future unfolds in rapid succession. We walk in a rhythmic procession. The morning has transformed. Regression. Built up heights of depression. How can it stand? Declarations, demonstrations. Statement of intent. I will tell you what we want. What is the thing that makes you feel like your heart is growing? We want to see light touching surfaces. We want to see light touching surfaces. We want to see light touching surfaces. So we chose our next move. The time is now, it has always been. Respond anew. Pass the guard and get through. Because somethings never change. Black Monument.”

Words written and spoken by Damon Locks

Day’s Plays Guest Post: Damon Locks

[You can listen to Damon’s latest music here and here.]

Keep your mind free is a phrase that stays ringing in my head. I orchestrated an evening of online performance and an image promoting decarceration with the same phrase. Thinking not only of those late nights when the weight of the new alternate pandemic lockdown dimension we found ourselves in pressed heavy but thinking of the people without my options. My students at Stateville Correctional Center remain in my brain while structuring correspondence classes as creative outlets, as escape, with the theme of liberation in the time of covid-19, inside of prisons, hoping to help them keep their minds free as the virus spreads. I purchased one new album in the first 2 months of the pandemic which served as a beautiful dream state inside a state of shock before the deaths of more Black people caused us to realize we never left our same racist dimension that we have always been in.  Pandemic or no, the time is way overdue for structural change. Here are some records that are relevant to me some right now and some always. Thank you for reading. Love, Damon

Little Dragon’s new record is called, New Me, Same Us. This record just sat on my stereo getting flipped over and over. I am not sure where the magic of this record comes from, it just is. I paid for this record online and biked to the shop and picked it up curbside. It was a thrill to buy a record after a couple months.

Jeff Parker’s Suite For Max Brown is great. A sonic companion to his last record. Jeff’s concert was the last show I saw before the pandemic became the reality. It was a great show and it is a great record.

The Black Fairy is a record I have been looking for for a long time. I bought it a couple months ago after a long irl search. It is the songs from a theater piece done in the early 70s in Chicago about a Black fairy who loses her confidence because a little boy tells her fairies never help Black people and she has no power to make change. This is the story of how she regains herself. 

He’s A Black Man, Volume 1 is one part of a volume of records (a friend has another from the series). It is a series of radio spots illuminating the achievements of Black people. It was made in Chicago and paid for by Sears. It’s amazing.

Sit-In Songs w/ booklet. An instruction guide for sit-ins. See how the notes on the staff are stools? Come on!

Bernice Johnson Reagon is one of my inspirations. She was a member of The Freedom Singers who would perform at SNCC events in the height of the Civil Rights Era. The Freedom Singers set the template for how many singers I wanted in Black Monument. She later formed Sweet Honey In The Rock. This solo record uses the voice and her gospel training to address political issues. It’s a great record, very past, present, and future.

Eternals

eternals

I’m very excited to have received my copy of The Eternals’ latest release, Approaching the Energy Field. If you’re not familar with their music, here’s the scoop: there are all manner of things cooking in their pot (dub, punk, jazz, soul, hip-hop, etc.) but what they serve up is far greater than its ingredients. This is first-rate music, amenable to any listener who cares as much about music as s/he does the broader state of things.

Damon Locks and Wayne Montana have been playing together for over two decades, and though they’ve occasionally performed and recorded in groups extending beyond their current duo lineup, this new set of tunes strikes me as their finest work to date, not only for its performances, arrangements, and guest players, but further because they’ve hit their stride as a directorial unit, equally adept and focused at every stage of this record’s development, from writing to arranging to recording to mixing. Provocative, thoughtful, driving, ambitious, urgent – this record is an event.