Submitted by Craig D. Lindsey — Correspondent
To paraphrase gangsta-rap godfathers N.W.A., Apple Juice Kid is always into something.
Whether hes collaborating with other artists on various musical projects, producing for the likes of Wale, Azealia Banks and Mos Def or getting together with people from other parts of the world to construct music from scratch, the Greensboro-born, Durham-based DJ/producer/drummer is consistently on the hunt for beats.
This weekend, the beat junkie (real name: Stephen Levitin) will be right here in the Triangle for the first Art + Activism Festival, going on in locations in Durham and Chapel Hill.
The three-day event debuted Thursday night at Cocoa Cinnamon, and will conclude Saturday night at Motorco Music Hall. The festival was conceived by ARTVSM, a company founded by Apple Juice Kid and Durham musician/scholar Pierce Freelon, and emphasizes the merging of art and activism. They practiced this earlier in the year when they went around the globe teaching budding young music makers how to make beats from their traveling Beat Making Lab (which Apple Juice Kid co-founded at UNC-Chapel Hill).
It hasnt been, like, a big, public thing, so this will be our first time really exposing that side publicly, says Apple Juice Kid. A lot of people know about the Beat Making Lab, but now this is a great opportunity to showcase the artivism side of what we do.
OneBeat adds global tone
The festival will include performances from local musicians and poets, with several nonprofits (Durham Arts Council, the Art of Cool Project) taking part as activists. But the main entertainment will be visiting performing-arts collective OneBeat. An initiative of the U.S. Department of States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, OneBeat brings international artists to the U.S. and has them perform around the country.
A friend of mine sent me an email about OneBeat, probably seven or eight months ago, says the Kid. And its just an organization that has a similar mission as Beat Making Lab, and [we] immediately found some synergy with the type of programming that we like to do with music education.
While all the fellows chosen wont perform at every show during the tour (there are 25 fellows in this years collective), OneBeat development director Elena Moon Park says a good representation of this years OneBeat roster will perform throughout the festival.
We love the idea for the Art + Activism Festival, says Park. While in Durham, we will meet and collaborate with organizations dedicated to using music to create positive change on a local level, and that is something that is shared by a lot of our fellows. We think the interaction between the OneBeat fellows and our Durham/Chapel Hill-based partners will be inspiring for all involved, and will give people ideas on both sides that can be nurtured and implemented in their home communities.
For the final night, the Kid will perform with several of these fellows for his Big Beat Dance project. Last September, Big Beat Dance made its debut performance at Saxaphaws Haw River Ballroom, with Apple Juice and a quintet of local drum pros (including jazz drummer Larry Q. Draughn Jr. and cross-cultural percussionist Beverly Botsford, both from Durham) doing a live, multicultural jam session.
While the lineup of OneBeat performers who will be a part of Big Beat Dance is still up in the air, Indian drummer/producer Darbuka Siva says he will definitely be involved and is psyched about what hell be bringing beat-wise.
I want people to take home happiness and teachings, musical teachings, and be able to apply and relate whatever we perform to them, and be able to transfer that to other people, says Siva. And, that way, we can spread this musical thing and instill teachings and happening and norms in society.
Thats exactly what Apple Juice Kid is looking to accomplish with this festival.
I think we hope that it happens every year, potentially duplicated in other parts of the country, says the Kid. But we havent given it a lot of, like, formal thought as to where we want this festival to go. Were just really concentrating on making the first one amazing and kind of seeing what happens from it.