Posts Tagged ‘Ybor’

Black people love Ken Apperson: How a skinny white boy gets down

July 1, 2010

If I know anything as an honorary black person, I know that black people don’t fake feeling music. There’s no such thing as a polite head-bob; something has to seep inside of them [us] and make them [us] move. And the crowd at Green Iguana in Ybor last Thursday … they [we] were feelin’ it.

Ken Apperson. Local musician. Skinny white boy. Within five minutes of watching his set, you can tell that he’s not just playing music, but that he is music. It’s rare that you find someone who has a voice that is just as much of an instrument as the guitar strapped to his chest. He slips seamlessly between a velvety tenor and a falsetto that will subtly strip your clothes off. Speaking of, the way his fingers work his guitar suggests that he may or may not be a ferocious lover. It’s really not up to me to say. Cigarette, anyone?

Ken plays some covers. Anyone can play covers, right? Not the way he does. Ken plays some hip-hop. On guitar. It’s fascinating to watch, really. It takes a special kind of talent to take a hard-hitting song that is notorious for being overproduced and synthetic, and translate it into a Maroon 5-ish type track that is something else entirely. You should see what he does with “Lollipop.” Weezy F would choke on his AutoTune plugin. More so than covers, however, Ken’s heart lies within his original tracks like “Keep Dreaming.”

Ken is a true artist. Starting at the age of 16, on his mom’s “piece of shit, no-name acoustic,” Ken taught himself the basics. With the help of the Internet, he played that guitar until his fingers bled. His mom got him lessons for his next birthday, and within a year, he was the one doing the teaching. Hailing from St. Louis, music was the thing that brought Ken to Tampa when he was 21.

And now Tampa’s lucky to have him. Here’s his upcoming local schedule for the month of July:

7/2 Gilligan’s Bar & Grill, Tampa 4:30-8:30 p.m.

7/2 JJ’s Cafe and Bar, Ybor 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

7/9 Green Iguana, Ybor 5-8 p.m.

7/9 JJ’s Cafe and Bar, Ybor 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

7/10 Green Iguana, Ybor 1-5 p.m.

7/13 Channelside Courtyard 4-8 p.m.

7/15 Centro Cantina, Ybor 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

7/16 Palm Pavilion, Clearwater 1-5 p.m.

7/16 JJ’s Cafe And Bar, Ybor 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

7/22 Green Iguana, Ybor 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

7/23 JJ’s Cafe And Bar, Ybor 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

7/24 Jannus Landing Rock for Research

7/30 Havana Room, St. Pete 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

If you can’t make it to one of those shows, you can find Ken every Sunday at TinaTapas in Channelside from 6 to 10 p.m..

Don’t let the contagious smile and the boyish charm fool you, Ken Apperson gets down to business. Call him, and he can make it juicy for ya. Yeah, I’ll take that cigarette now.

[To read at Creative Loafing, click here.]

vag-havers and the nature of humankind.

April 6, 2010

novermber 15, 2009

it’s our story. it’s all our story. i write it this way because it’s my motherfucking story. you don’t have to understand. you don’t have to even pretend that you like it. it wouldn’t matter anyway, because you know it’s true. or maybe you don’t. but if that is the case, i feel bad for you. some people get it, some people don’t. i’m not trying to be boastful when i say these things, i just know that some things are and some things aren’t.

i live in ybor with these two amazing men. these people who are classified as “men.” they’re the most gentle, good-natured, soft-hearted people to ever exist. it’s not about being a complete asshole that classifies you as “man.” if that were the case, many of the vag-havers that i know would be some of the biggest men i’ve ever encountered. it’s not about whether or not you have the ability to do something, it’s whether or not you’re able to keep someone else in check. i have you. there’s no getting away now. claws in, teeth sunk, you smell terrific kind of attack. god i love those. love hurts. second down.

these boys watch a lot of football. i’ve never really had a problem with football. my dad has always watched it, and i played flag-football growing up. i was the quarterback and wide-receiver – it just depended on the opponent. i don’t really remember all about it, i just remember that i was good at it. maybe that’s when my dad stopped liking me. when i stopped playing football. or maybe when i stopped playing sports in general. or maybe when i told him that i liked vag-havers.

i wish i had a stenographer in my head. a brain stenographer. i go through an array of like 53 emotions in like ten seconds. but then sometimes i cut them off altogether. i think i’m only able to feel certain emotions. i think that maybe i was programmed to only be allowed to feel certain things. i feel passion. i feel curiosity. i feel what i would say the definition of love is – the mutual respect of two people. or three people. or however many people. love knows no bounds, it just knows knows a collective understanding. if mixed with attraction, it’s a deadly cocktail. maybe i should say a lively cocktail.

i’ve started to respect football more. i see why my roommates like it so much. first of all, it’s like a four hour escape. who doesn’t love that? you can do whatever you want in your mind for the next four hours. i usually have tea parties with historical figures. that’s just me. as i say this, at exactly midnight on november 16, while i’m smoking a cigarette on the porch, a man from across the street comes out of his house talking to his friend about the colts and the patriots. i kid you not.

i sit on the couch and watch the game with the guys for a minute. efren points out all the plays – illustrating the athleticism, and how everyone on the field had it mapped out in his mind what the next was gonna do. which way he’d run. what move he’d make.

i don’t know which move i’m making.

i get tired and cold sitting on the porch. i get lonely and old sitting on the porch. i get hungry and full, clever and dull..

i sit. i shit.

man spits. he really did spit. another man came out of a different house across the street. jiggling his keys, he burps and hawks a loog. it was pretty sick.

i said “sick me out” tonight. i really like that phrase. the kid i babysat growing up used to say it. he was hilarious. shout out to houston jones. that kid could wail. we used to sing together all the time. one time our parents let us have a show for them and their friends. they invited a bunch of neighbors out, and cooked and drank beer at the club house in my rich step-mom’s old housing development. we made a sheet with our logo on it. i was destined to advertise, i suppose. we called ourselves “jobi.” his last name, jones, and mine, bishop. i toyed with many names back then until i found the one that i felt suited the sitation best. the next obvious choice was “candlestik.” duh. i’m not really sure why i liked that one so much. i just kept drawing what the look and feel of the band..and the brand..would be like.

everyone has a thing. mine’s the double period..like that..sometimes i put it next to the words back-to-back..like that..but sometimes i like to put the rest of the sentence away from the previous part.. like that.

facebook, you’re weird. i think you may be a tool of the devil. i mean, i don’t think of the devil in the same way that the majority of other people think of the devil. well, pretty much everyone else. i think the “devil” is just negativity. it’s the downside to nature. it’s the fact that animals have to eat other animals to survive. beautiful things happen in nature. things that no one could explain. things that we have no formula to use as justification. sure, carnivores eat meat because they’re carnivores – but why are there carnivores in the first place? why are there herbivores? why are there not? what’s the purpose? yes, i know, sustainment. life. we’re genetically programmed in certain ways to adapt and change to the environment around us. that’s why i think nature is god. nature is natural. nature is meant to happen whether or not we allow it. it just is. it’s just there. it will adapt to us just the same, but it’s bigger, stronger and faster than anything a person could create.
we’re merely people. we’re merely flesh and blood. we’re part of the bigger thing that we call god in the first place. i know that that’s what the christians believe. jesus is the physical manifestation of “god.” he, himself is not god. they’re not one in the same. jesus is just as much god as the trees and the habits of all living organisms. god is love. god is energy. sure the origins of human life may have come from a blast in space, but what made the blast in space? we’re all wrong and we’re all right. we just need to be able to understand each other’s language. even atheists. alright, so you die and you rot and that’s it. fine. that’s doesn’t mean atheists don’t believe in god. that just means that they don’t believe in the idea that humans came up with to mean god. that’s why ancient religions were so much closer to the idea of god. that’s why there were many gods. there are many parts to a whole. take ancient egyptians. the most powerful idea of the true nature of god was the sun. i don’t think that’s far off. i actually think that’s pretty dead on.

Think Ybor sucks? No, you suck, a-hole

December 19, 2009

“Ybor’s dangerous. Ybor’s dirty.” Well guess what, fuckface, I think you’re dirty. And when you’re texting on your iPhone while driving your Beamer around Hyde Park, you’re pretty dangerous yourself. I’m not gonna lie: I was out at Gbar one night many months ago, and my best friend – who is a heterosexual male, by the way – was leaving the club. Instead of being a good friend and walking him back to his car, I let him walk by himself. I mean, no big deal right? He walked down an alley to take a piss and was jumped…dick in hand. The punks didn’t steal anything – they just beat him down and left him. So, yeah, Ybor can be a bit dangerous, so here’s a lesson: walk in groups at night, and don’t pee in the street. Done.

Ybor is also fucking fascinating. Walking down the street on any given night is like watching a movie with hundreds of characters. And when I say characters, I mean characters. I always tell people that I can feel my ethnicity change depending on what part of Seventh Avenue I’m walking down. I fucking love that about Ybor. You can hear T-Pain and Taylor Swift within ten steps of each other. Then there are the hole-in-the-wall bars that are more fun than any establishment with a strict dress code: ladies – tits out, short skirts, tall shoes. If you’re wearing a perfume that is made by a celebrity (excluding Sarah Jessica Parker and Elizabeth Taylor…I just don’t see it being their market) then you get extra points. Guys – your shirts must have some sort of bedazzling, embroidery, or embellishment. Your hair must be spiky or cut low with clean edges. Again, celebrity fragrances are a plus, and sunglasses inside are pretty much a home run. Really, I’m not that much of a hater — I need to shake my ass as much as anyone else — but I prefer the places that I can go meet people and have conversations.

I just moved to Ybor not too long ago, and I’m still discovering its awesomeness. Walking the street in the daytime feels like you’re walking through a movie set: the look and feel of the buildings, the little boutiques, tattoo shops, bars, record stores, people with pets eating pizza al fresco – it just feels alive. The other day I decided that I’d walk the unbeaten path and went down every back alleyway I could find. The results surprised me.

Graffiti is prevalent in any city; especially a busy, cultural city. I’m not going to say that the street art I found in the back alleys was particularly pleasing to the eye, but it was attractive in another way. If I had to estimate, I’d say that 82 percent of the art I saw had a positive message attached to it. You call it defacing government property, I call it inspiration. And it didn’t end with the spray can. Ybor is home to many creative types: artists, musicians, and people that just want to say something. There are these stickers I found around the city that are obviously done by the same person. They’re all hand-written or stenciled images on white postal labels. The first one I ever saw said “Polar bears are highly irresponsible animals.” It was so random and hilarious. Then I started seeing these stickers all over the place.

So, yes, maybe there is some crime. And, yes, there are some homeless people — one in particular that I see all the time wearing the same dirty business coat, with four years of mat clumped on his head, that I feel may secretly be Jesus — but what city doesn’t have those things? Maybe we should just listen to the hoodlums a bit more and start doing something about it rather than shitting on the city for thriving. Or you can just Google “how to avoid a bum” on your Windows-capable cell phone.

December 10, 2009

[To see the blog at Creative Loafing, click here.]