iHeart Radio music festival was recently held depicting some of the notable artists performing live for the audience. Rapper Diddy’s son, Christian Combs, professionally known as King Combs recently attended the event on Saturday and reflected on how he always wanted to be a performer like his father. He even spoke about his latest song revealing how it was a dream come true for him as the song is being loved by the listeners.
King Combs uncovers biggest lesson he received from his father
According to a recent interaction with People, King Combs stated that he always knew as a kid that he wanted to be a performer and added how it was something that always wanted to do. Stating further, he mentioned that his father asked many times whether he had a plan B and whether he was sure about pursuing music. He then revealed that he always told him that there wasn’t a plan B. He stated, “It’s really always been something I wanted to do. There have been times when my dad questioned me and asked, ‘What’s your plan B? Are you sure you want to do this?’ and I’m like, ‘There is no plan B.”
When asked about the biggest lesson he learnt from his father Diddy, he said, “I would say the biggest lesson is never stop. Can’t stop, won’t stop. That’s what it is.”
Furthermore, King Combs shed light on the positive response he was receiving for his song Can’t Stop Won’t Stop with Kodak Black and revealed that it was definitely a dream coming true for him. He added that it was a great feeling to have fans and people gravitate to a song that he made in the studio. “It’s definitely a dream coming true for me, and it’s a great feeling to have the fans and people out there gravitate to a song that I made in the studio,” he said.
Music wasn’t initially part of Ola Ali’s path. Born in Nigeria, Ali is best known as the general manager of the Chicago-based music label and collective OTF and manager for rapper Lil Durk. He has quickly made a national name for himself and his label’s controversial artists through hard work, hustle, and creativity. Those attributes especially came into play this past year as the label, previously reliant on live shows, had to pivot during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But, as Ali noted, this change in direction unveiled new opportunities and goals for the brand, ones that will grow even as COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past.
Ali attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he played football. After reconstructive surgery for a shoulder injury, Ali was told he could no longer play. With more time on his hands, Ali began throwing parties in the “football house” as a means of making money. After one homecoming party drew nearly 2,000 attendees, Ali believed he could turn party promotion into a career.
Upon returning to Chicago, his new event company became a reality. Soon, Ali transitioned to the nightclub scene, which introduced him to players within the local and national music communities.
“That’s how my passion kind of formed to music,” Ali recalled. “I wanted to be in the music business. I want to make music. I want to do shows. I don’t want to just be known for parties.”
Ali later met rapper Lil Durk’s older brother and built a friendship. Ali later became Durk’s manager. “It seems like everything I’ve done in life has prepared me for the next phase,” Ali said. Creating parties and nightlife events taught him marketing, for example. Managing promoters is not unlike managing artists. “Like, they’re creative, they’ve got their own style, they’ve got their own swag,” he added.
Ali is now also the general manager of Durk’s label OTF, or Only the Family. With more than 450,000 followers on social media platforms like Instagram, the label and collective has established itself internationally as a home for some of the industry’s most popular, influential and contentious rappers, including Lil Durk and the late King Von.
He approaches working with new artists in the same way that he approached party promoting early in career — focusing on connections and community. “If you don’t connect with the artist, or if the artist isn’t in the right mental space or has the right vision, it’s not gonna work,” Ali said. “I usually try to stay away. I keep my distance from those types of artists. Not like there’s something wrong with them. I just know what works for me.”
Most recently, like any other music label or artist, the brand has had to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “With the entertainment business, one minute, you can be hot, one minute, you can be not. That’s just the way it goes. I think that’s been the toughest and most appreciated part of this journey that I’ve been on,” Ali said. “I personally feel like our whole team got better during the pandemic,” said Ali.
Part of navigating the pandemic included pivoting away from live shows, which were decimated during the pandemic, to other avenues. “It forced me to become a better businessman to become a better all around music exec,” Ali added. One initiative they undertook was acquiring more brand deals for Lil Durk with brands like Finish line and UK fashion brand Boohoo Man.
“It made us stronger and a better company and it allowed Durk to lock in on the music while everybody else focused on all the other stuff,” Ali added. In May of 2020, the rapper released his fifth album, Just Cause Y’all Waited 2, which eventually reached number two on the Billboard charts and spawned his highest-charted single, “3 Headed Goat.” His sixth studio album, The Voice, was released later that year in December.
Now that the world has begun to open up again, Ali plans to return the label’s artists to the world of live shows and touring. But during the pandemic, OTF has also expanded to the world of gaming. “Anything we do, we want to do it real. We just don’t want to slap our logo on it,” Ali said. Part of immersing themselves in the gaming community include attending and hosting tournaments as well as working with some of the top gaming executives to connect the worlds of music with the ever-growing world of livestream gaming.
Still, music is at the heart of what they do, and that won’t change anytime soon. Although many labels, including hip hop labels, stem from Chicago, Ali aims to make OTF the largest. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. But that has not deterred his ambition, especially in the face of adversity. “Chicago has always been prevalent in music, from Cadillac Records to the present. But I just think it needs to have that flagship company here that represents hip hop and good R&B music,” Ali began. “I want OTF to be that. That’s my goal. That’s my vision.”
My first order of business when the 38th annual Farm Aid benefit to help family farmers announced Raleigh, North Carolina, as the home for its concert was to start planning a road trip.
My good friend and neighbor, Scott Swackhamer, a Penn State Ag Science graduate, and I have been attending these Willie Nelson brainchild extravaganzas for years, Scott usually wearing the hat of volunteer and me packing journalist credentials.
I had my eye on the prize: an interview with Texas’s Holy Father (the words a friend native to that state recently used to describe Mr. Nelson), and I put in my request for a 10-minute sit down with the Red Headed Stranger when applying for press credentials.
The Road Trip
I had been traveling in Virginia in the days prior to our epic journey south, so we met up at a park and ride just below Washington, D.C., and I stuffed all my gear into Scott’s giant maroon 1997 Dodge Savana van.
“It smells like ripe bananas,” I said to Scott.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“What is it.”
“Paw paws,” Scott said with a sheepish grin.
Turns out Farm Aid, which always includes a plethora of learning opportunities in the days leading up to the event, and at the event itself, was hosting a seed swap and Scott — a serious homesteader along with his wife, Emelie, a Montgomery County ag Extension agent — didn’t have anything to trade, so he had grabbed some fruit off one of his backyard trees. Always an adventure traveling with Scott, and no doubt the feeling is mutual.
Craig had become somewhat famous — “infamous, some might say — as a whistleblower for shining the spotlight on companies’ economically unfair and inhumane practices dealing with contract poultry growers.
Farm Aid came to town in 2014 and helped give him a national platform.
Watts now works for the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, grantees of and collaborators with Farm Aid. He is converting his former chicken houses to organic mushroom and vegetable production.
After settling into our digs and breaking out the guitars for a bit, we all turned in and prepared for Friday’s pre-concert activities. Craig and I took off in his truck to Durham for a screening of “The Smell of Money,” a documentary about how large commercial hog farms are causing environmental and health problems in predominantly Black rural communities.
Scott and his son, Clay — as fate provided, Clay and his freshly minted Ph.D. in biological systems engineering from U.C. Davis were in town to present at a conference — were on the road into Raleigh to pick up their credentials and volunteer assignments for the following day.
Craig and I were early. I said hello to a guy in the row behind us, and his accent piqued my interest, so I moved over to talk to him.
Craig said later, with the characteristic southern wisdom that flows effortlessly from his mouth, that if you meet someone who speaks English with an accent, they know at least one more language than you do.
Fred Stouthart has been working with local municipalities and provinces in the Netherlands at the intersection of agriculture, health and the environment for 40 years. Soon to retire, he now seeks a meaningful legacy project and has thoughts about bringing the Farm Aid model to Holland.
Stouthart said he thought it a fortunate coincidence when he saw the trailer for the documentary we were about to watch.
“This is the same kind of problems we are dealing with in Holland,” he said. The main thing is odor nuisance and the health of the residents.”
The Smell of Racism
More than a nuisance, according to the documentary we watched following our conversation. People were dying.
“I hate to talk about resiliency as a Black person,” panelist Ghanja O’Flaherty, co-director of infrastructure and development with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, said following the film. “It’s like it’s a continued thing that we have to do. It is core to our experience and … being able to live in the world.
“But at the same time, I do have the feeling that that’s what it comes down to, in many ways.”
The documentary follows a group of residents over 20 years who have been harmed by industrial hog farms and that industry’s deleterious practices, including spraying effluents (they call fertilizer) from hog waste pits onto fields adjacent to their homes and how the communities, many residents of which have had family land the hog farms now operate on taken illegally, are fighting back.
“They are protecting their position, protecting their property, protecting their very well-being and their lives,” O’Flaherty said. “The fact that you even have to is more than a little galling. Who in the world thinks that it’s an appropriate position to have to ask not to get sprayed on with sh*t?”
Spirit of Farm Aid
Craig and I had just enough time for a costume change before we all hopped in the van and headed to Farm Aid Eve dinner and the Spirit of Farm Aid awards ceremony. The paw paws were getting noticeably riper.
I ran into Pennsylvania Farmers Union President Mike Kovach, my former Rodale colleague Heidi Secord, now serving as the first woman Pennsylvania executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency, and many other familiar faces.
And many new ones. What Farm Aid does best — besides supporting family farmers (and other groups with similar missions) and putting on a great concert — is facilitate connections.
I made a significant one on my entrance into the venue. How many people, if boasting was in their nature, could say they are both older than Willie Nelson and counted among his dearest friends?
There stood David Amram, 91 years young (he’ll be 92 in November) and a performer at every Farm Aid since 1987.
Amram has collaborated artistically with Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Jack Kerouac, Sonny Rollins, Lionel Hampton, Allen Ginsberg, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Patti Smith and Arlo Guthrie, to name a few.
And, of course, Willie. When the Nelson Family Band, including sons Lucas and Micah, closed out the show the next night, Amram literally blew everyone away with his blues solo playing two pennywhistles at the same time.
Happy to chat, Amram insinuated his association with Farm Aid led him to a healthier diet, and perhaps longevity.
“People would rather eat poison than an ear of corn that might have a bug in it,” he said. “People just don’t realize that these farmers are feeding their children.”
Spirit of Farm Aid awardees included longtime Farm Aid show producer Charlie Hernandez and his wife Andrea Fulkerson, artist Tim Reynolds (who has performed with Dave Matthews each year since 2007), volunteer Adam Baker, farmer advocate Savi Horn of the Land Loss Prevention Project, and North Carolina farmer and advocate Craig Watts.
What? He didn’t look surprised?
“I was sworn to secrecy,” Watts deadpanned.
Oh Yeah, the Concert
An hour before showtime, Willie Nelson and fellow board members John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price took to the stage for a press conference, joined by Farm Aid Communications Director Jen Fahey, Executive Director Carolyn Mugar and a rotating group of local family farmers.
“By bringing Farm Aid back to North Carolina we can showcase what family farmers do to benefit everyone, thanks to their on-farm practices,” Nelson said. “Family farmers have an intimate relationship with the earth’s soil and water. By investing in the long-term health of our soil, water and climate, farmers give back to the land that brings good food to all of us.”
The festival at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek was sold out. Concertgoers were encouraged to visit Farm Aid’s Homegrown Village that featured hands-on activities to celebrate agriculture and a chance to meet farmers in person and learn how they enrich soil, protect water and grow the economy as well as healthy food. Local and national organizations were also on hand with information about gleaning and re-localizing food systems to prevent avoidable food waste, the dangers of corporate consolidation, and North Carolina local farms, markets and farm products.
Besides addressing local and regional social justice issues, Farm Aid’s 2022 theme was tackling climate change.
“Farmers stand on the frontlines of climate change and are all too familiar with its consequences,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “At the same time, family farmers are the best resources we have to minimize the toll of climate change. All of us need to support proactive farm and food policies that support climate-resilient family farmers and ranchers as they steward our soil and strengthen our food system.”
Throughout the day, artists and farmers joined together on the FarmYard stage to discuss challenges and opportunities in agriculture, including climate change, farmer mental health, food policy and native agriculture.
The musical lineup included Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Allison Russell (a new discovery for me and my personal favorite), Charley Crocket, Brittney Spencer and Particle Kid (aka Micah Nelson), with Matthews’ longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds joining him on stage.
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, originally slated to join, and my interview with Willie, were both victims of COVID. Nelson is just fine, as attested to by his phenomenal guitar playing that evening, but his people decided one-on-one interviews were not going to be a thing this year.
I spoke with so many people at length about issues facing family farmers that space in an already lengthy web article would not do them justice. Look for “Dispatches from Farm Aid” appearing on this website, and perhaps in the pages of Lancaster Farming newspaper, over the next several weeks.
It’s time to get on the road again. Scott is champing at the bit … and I think we still have some paw paws left.
Fiddlers Crossing, the downtown acoustic music venue, now known as Fiddlers Crossing Concerts, will present singer-songwriter and storyteller Claudia Nygaard for its final outdoor house concert of the 2022 season at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8.
House concerts are a long-standing tradition in the acoustic music world and have been enjoying increased popularity in recent years. These concerts differ significantly from standard venue-style shows in two ways: first, they are “by invitation only” and, second, they use a donation model rather than the sale of tickets in advance or at the door. A house concert is, essentially, a private party with entertainment.
Claudia Nygaard is a mesmerizing storyteller and a cinematic lyricist who writes songs that are heartfelt, humorous, scrapp, and sensual, and she does so with a daredevil’s vulnerability and a complete lack of self-censorship.
Building on the craft she learned while a staff songwriter on Nashville’s Music Row, she has won numerous awards including the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival Songwriting Competition, and with the title cut of her latest album “Lucky Girl,” the Tumbleweed Music Festival Songwriting Competition. “Lucky Girl” charted at #3 on the Folk Alliance Radio song chart and #5 on the album chart, and gave her a significant debut on the Americana chart.
See videos of Nygaard and learn more about her at www.claudianygaard.com To request an invitation to this concert, visit fiddlerscrossing.com and use the “Contact Us” form in the “House Concerts 2022” section. Specify how many in your party. Invitations will be sent by email on a first-come, first-served basis until the available seats are filled. The location of the house concert, including a map and phone number, will be included in the invitation. No one without an invitation will be admitted. Attendees will be asked to show their invitations, either from their phones or in printed form.
The required donation for the concerts is $25, in cash at the door. All these donations will go to the artists. A separate donation jar for the house will be available. As with all previous Fiddlers Crossing events, refreshments will be included. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Despite some rain on Sunday morning, more than 40,000 fans were at the Highland Festival Grounds for the final day of the four-day festival. As the sunshine came out, rock and roll fans were ready for their favorite bands to take the stage.
Some drove hours to attend the festival, and have to be back at work early on Monday.
“I get a phone call and I said ‘Hey, they are going to be in Kentucky, let’s do it,’ Andy Kromm said about band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“We booked this months ago and oh my God, and we booked it for Red Hot Chili Peppers and then all of a sudden Incubus and Papa Roach and all these bands keep coming on. Yeah, I can’t wait.”
Since the festival began on Thursday, more than 160,000 fans saw some of their favorite rock bands like Kiss, Nine Inch Nails, Shinedown and Slip Knot.
George Harrison said Delaney and Bonnie and Indian sitar music influenced his slide guitar style. The former Beatle never thought of playing slide guitar. However, after playing only sitar for a while, he needed to learn to give his guitar playing a fresh sound.
George Harrison first started playing slide guitar in 1969
When George picked up the instrument again, he discovered he was out of touch with it. Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix did unprecedented things on the guitar. So, George needed to freshen up his sound and thought slide guitar would help.
In 1977, George told Crawdaddy (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), “All the young kids coming up were all playing so good and I hadn’t been involved with it for so long, both being in the Beatles, just playing the same old tunes, and playing Indian music. So I felt a long way behind, that was one reason why I had all the instruments.
“I suddenly realized ‘I don’t like these guitars’ and Eric gave me this Les Paul which really got me back into it because it sounded so funky. That was one of the reasons I started playing slide, you know, because I felt so far behind in playing hot licks. With slide I didn’t have any instruction, I just got one and started playing.”
George said Delaney and Bonnie and Indian sitar music influenced his slide guitar style
When George first started playing guitar as a teenager, his influences (to name a few) were Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmie Rodgers, and Carl Perkins. In The Beatles, George became one of rock ‘n’ roll’s best guitarists.
Then, Shankar came along during an especially uninspiring period in George’s life. No one wowed him, and neither did The Beatles’ music. Learning sitar changed George’s guitar playing and made him more creative. Delving into the sitar too much was dangerous for his guitar playing, but the sitar was always there.
Still, George couldn’t identify what influenced his slide guitar playing. He guessed it had something to do with playing with Delaney and Bonnie and, of course, Indian music.
“I’m not sure of the influences,” George told Timothy White at Musician Magazine. “The first time I ever played slide was in 1969. I suppose I stuck one of those things on my finger somewhere before that, but in 1969 Eric Clapton got his manager to bring Delaney and Bonnie over to England, and Eric was in the band.”
The former Beatle explained that he saw Clapton and the duo perform and wanted to be in the band. They invited him to join, and he did. During one show, Delaney gave George a slide bottleneck and asked him to play the slide guitar on “Comin’ Home.”
“I’d never attempted anything before that, and I think my slide guitar playing originated from that,” George recalled. “I started writing some slide songs on that tour, one of which later came out on ‘Thirty Three & 1/3,’ called ‘Woman Don’t You Cry For Me.’ Then I started playing that way at home, and I suppose I was always trying to pretend to be a blues player in my style.
“Another thing that influenced me was, during the ’60s, I played the sitar and got heavy into Indian music. That may account for some quality that you can’t quite put your finger on; it’s in there somewhere and comes out. For two or three years I was only playing the sitar.”
George explained, “I was earnestly trying to be a slide guitar player at that time but I always blacked out at solos, especially live ones. I seemed to have no control over what was happening and my mind’d go blank.”
George said he hit a few good notes, and it “happened to sound like a solo.” He never stopped playing slide guitar. While recording Cloud Nine, George added it to his song “This Is Love.”
“There’s also a great slide guitar sound on ‘This Is Love,’” he explained. “At one point when our engineer was unavailable for the week, I took the tapes up to Jeff Lynne’s house, where he’s got a little studio in one bedroom.
“I overdubbed the guitar while he did his thing with the radical EQ, and it gave a smooth, subtle wah-wah effect.”
George eventually became known for his slide guitar work, and it was all thanks to his influences.
A week after falling through an onstage hole while performing, Post Malone canceled a Saturday night concert in Boston, saying he was at a hospital struggling with his breathing and a “stabbing pain.”
It was the second hospital visit in about a week for the 27-year-old rapper, whose full name is Austin Richard Post. After the accident at St. Louis’s Enterprise Center on Sept. 17, he was treated for bruised ribs, according to an Instagram post from his manager. Malone said on Twitter afterward that “everything’s good.”
Skyway to Fantasyland Tomorrowland attraction at Disneyland; opened on June 23, 1956. Four-passenger buckets were suspended from a 2,400-foot-long cable, traveling between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. The Tomorrowland station was very modernistic; the Fantasyland station resembled a mountain chalet. In the early days of Disneyland, guests could purchase either a one-way or round-trip ticket. Later, it was one-way only. The attraction closed on November 10, 1994. Also a Tomorrowland attraction in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, opened on October 1, 1971, and closed on November 9, 1999. Also in Tomorrowland at Tokyo Disneyland; opened on April 15, 1983, and closed November 3, 1998.