Surrounded by computers, effects pedals, and noise-amplifying gear, Camae Ayewa—the artist more commonly known as Moor Mother—cuts an imposing figure onstage. Gripping a microphone and obscured behind a tangle of black dreads, Ayewa toes the line in performances between spoken-word poetry, public exorcism, and jet-engine levels of manicured sound.
When asked if he always knew that he’d be a singer, 27-year-old Josiah Wise—better known as serpentwithfeet—can only laugh. “I always had big ambitions,” he says. “I wrote a letter to Oprah when I was really, really little basically telling her that I wanted to be the first child talk show host. As a kid, I remember every day waiting for a phone call from Oprah being like, ‘I’m going to give you money to start your own talk show!’ When that didn’t happen, I had to figure out other ways to express myself…and then I just never stopped.”
Warm Leatherette, Grace Jones’ career-shifting 1980 release, gives a glimpse of the artist just as her true genius was coming into sharp focus.
Over this past Memorial Day weekend, four of the original members of the Anniversary — the much-beloved band from Lawrence, Kansas — reconvened to rehearse a few of their old songs. This would be the first time that the four of them — Josh Berwanger, James David, Adrianne DeLanda, and Chris Jankowski — had been in one room together since the band awkwardly and officially broke up back in 2004. It was a reunion that no one ever really seemed to think would happen. Having parted ways well over a decade ago, most of the band now live in different parts of the country and literally everyone has children, which makes the idea of getting everyone back together in a room to play songs that were written when most of them were barely out of their teens seem not only logistically difficult, but financially and commercially implausible. Still, after several months of chatting and testing the waters (everyone seemed genuinely surprised by the almost cult-classic status of their records), four of the original five band members managed to clear their schedules for a spate of reunion shows that will take place this fall. (Fifth original member, guitarist Justin Roelofs, isn’t currently involved, though he encouraged the other members to proceed with the reunion. Ricky Salthouse will be joining the band on guitar for the upcoming shows.) Fittingly, the reunion took place in same place the band first played together back in 1997 — the basement at guitarist Josh Berwanger’s mom’s house.