Monday, April 25, 2016

Underrated Things From Rockford

Dennis Gulling has been a very respected poet nationally for a very long time. Even just doing a cursory search about him on Google I found entries in places as important as the Los Angeles Times. If you were to talk to someone in the know about poetry in any city in America they would probably know the name Dennis Gulling as one of the first generation Outlaw Poets. But here in Rockford he is relatively unknown. Why?

More on that later.

Xen Kingsley just won his first RAMI Award. He's a talented spoken word artist, writer, and musician. But that's only part of what he does. Right here in Rockford he lays down some mighty truths about life, wisdom, and race. Check out the line of Tshirts he helps create.

Travis Legge is a filmmaker, role playing game developer, and he does about fifty other things I can't even keep track of he is so prolific. He shot his first feature film, Raymond Did It, in the Rockford area. The sad thing is that he left the state to make his next film. The city, and it's decision makers and movers and shakers really need to do a better job keeping people like Travis Legge doing what they do right here in the Screw City, because we're all better for it.

Wayland Anderson. I was very impressed by a spoken word piece Wayland Anderson did at the Earth Day Poetry reading Richard Vargas organized at J.R. Kortman Gallery. He has a real passion and dedication to teaching ballet, and his studio is exactly what is needed in a neighborhood like Midtown trying to emerge from decades of neglect. The repeated refrain from his poem "ballet is in town" resonates at The Wayland Anderson Project  on 4th Avenue. My five year old loves to take dance class from this motivated and skilled teacher who displays an enthusiasm that his students can't help but learn from. 

Micky Rosenquist is another example of a dedicated and passionate teacher whose love of his art, music, rubs off on his students. His Rock and Roll Institute allows aspiring rockers to "Start a band on Monday…Play a show on Friday." An aspect of the Rock and Roll Institute I really admire is all the musicians from local bands that dedicate their time to teaching these kids how to play a rock and roll concert, which they do the same week, and as someone who has been in attendance, they do rock. 

Michael Whyte is a singer/songwriter/guitar player who is probably most notably known for his band The Blind Robins. He has co-written songs with bands like E-I-E-I-O and one of his songs is on the soundtrack of the movie Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Before there was this new resurgence in Americana/roots/alternative country there was Michael Whyte, right here in Rockford.

Dennis Gulling has been here in Rockford all along, for over thirty years publishing his poetry on a national level, but remaining almost completely unknown locally. This week his first full-length book of poetry, The Blood Dark Sea, is available from local publisher Zombie Logic Press. You can order a copy here

I would like to expand this blog to include many more artists, musicians, teachers, restaurant owners etc that just aren't getting the kind of credit they deserve here in Rockford. Please do not consider this list anything but a first pass, to be added to, and updated. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hot N Heavy Hot Sauces Burning Up the Shelves In Rockford

If you're out and about for Spring Art Scene tomorrow you can unlock the elusive triple buy local achievement by buying some Hot N Heavy Hot Sauces at Olive Oil Experience or Culture Shock when you're also browsing the racks at Record Store Day. Wow, if you bought a Cheap Trick record it might actually count as a quadruple buy it now experience. 

Hot N Heavy comes in three varieties.

Our premium Cajun Cayenne sauce comes straight from the swamp to bring fresh flavor and hollerin’ heat to whatever you’ve got a mind to eat! We mix together garlic, onion and vinegar and then spike it with Cayenne and Habanero Chile to bite your tail! Nice complex flavor goes good with just about anything, but it’s great on eggs and fried food…especially gator! Headbangers, hillbillies and everyone in between needs some Bayou in a Bottle!

This angel will kick you right in the pants and SLAY you with a fiery blast that’s heavy on the garlic. A green elixir made with the purest ingredients…garlic, vinegar, salt, lime and a combo of Serrano and Habanero Chile. That’s it! A little dash of this and it will be RAINING GARLIC…from a lacerated sky! BANG ON!

Only the bravest souls will dare to sample this infernal brew that comes straight from the depths of a black metal hell! There’s also a nice smoky long lasting finish to this brimstone brew so you get maximum flavor as well as maximum heat. A pure mixture of Naga Jolokia Chile with salt and vinegar is all it takes to burn this sucker to the ground. HAIL BEEZLEBUB and pass the hot sauce!

I say triple buy local bonus because these awesome labels were designed by Jenny Mathews of Rockford Illustrating. Making this a rare opportunity to support three different local entrepeneurs at the same time, and get some atomic hot sauce in the bargain. Get them now at both Olive Oil Experience locations and Culture Shock.