I know that I’ve gone too long without an adequate intake of protein when I start craving hard-boiled eggs. When I felt a pang of hunger for Brahms intermezzi at a piano recital recently, I suspected that my musical diet was imbalanced. Thankfully, Thursday’s concert at BRIC House Ballroom celebrating the album release of singer Alicia Olatuja gave me the protein fix I needed.
I don’t know if it was from the air conditioning in the black box theater but I kept getting chills as I listened to Alicia Olatuja; not even the distracting lighting could detract from her gorgeous low register. Her band included her husband Michael Olatuja (bass), Ayana George and Rasul A-Salaam (vocals), Ron Blake (sax), Nir Felder (guitar), Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums), and Christian Sands (keys) looking dapper and sounding excellent as usual. Christian McBride also appeared as a special guest playing bass on a handful of songs.
I first heard and met bassist Michael Olatuja at one of the SESC centers in São Paulo with the Terence Blanchard quintet five years ago. When I caught the band again on the Rio leg of their Brazil tour, I saw Terence Blanchard’s expression change to that of a man who had seen a ghost upon noticing me sitting front and center of the concert hall. Michael, on the other hand, looked more like he had the Holy Ghost, and I distinctly recall the incredible joy with which he played. And I thought to myself at that moment that he must know Jesus.
The men’s and women’s rooms are at the back of the building, past the entrance to the ballroom and down the stairs on a lower level. There are eight stalls and four sinks total including one wheelchair accessible for each in the women’s restroom. The restroom was bright white with advanced plumbing technology like the lever that allows you to decide how much water to flush down the toilet. The motion-sensing faucet and soap dispenser worked without me having to wave my hands in front of the sensor multiple times.
In addition, the women’s room had dispensers for a product called Scenscibles® to dispose of tampons and pads in a clean way for both the person creating the waste and the person who will have to empty out the little metal trash bin later. I like to neatly wrap the used pad in the wrapper from the new pad like a burrito but if that is not an option the little pink bag would be a good backup. I’ve observed women feeling the need to be hush-hush about even mentioning the word tampon because it makes some men feel embarrassed. It would seem to be the men’s problem then and not the women’s. As one of my best friends from college says, “embarrassment is a choice.” So tampon tampon pad tampon.
Alicia Olatuja’s band ended with a catchy chorus of “Amazing Grace.” Having seen how vigilant the ushers were about seating attendees at the beginning of the show, I was already expecting church up in BRIC House and was not at all surprised at the closing song choice. To close this entry, here’s my friend Naméma from Kenya telling us how to say “Where’s the restroom?” in Swahili —