The inauguration of Cullah to the office of established name takes place as small wood violets bloom in the north woods. It is impossible to go down streets of Milwaukee without Cullah’s voice drifting out the open doors of the residents of Riverwest (a vibrant small neighborhood that represents the infusion of eccentric socialist intellectuals, DIY punk anarchists, and afrofuturistic creatives). Cullah has not only created and released a truly awesome amount of tunes; they have traveled the distance. From Milwaukee’s own Cactus club in Bay View, and to as far north as Sweden and as far south as Chile; Cullah’s cultural footprint has been painstakingly engraved. It’s alright if you haven’t heard of Cullah before. Like Milwaukee, he has been underrated and sometimes even written off (not enough “it” factor he was told). His iconoclastic courage told him that only he could tell his story. Therefore, he has kept total creative control of the production of his work. You can see the singular vision of the artist unify in Spectacullah.
Spectacullah has shown off Cullah’s unwavering and broad talents, as well as pulling his sound from the things most personal to him. “I Want you to Be Kind to Yourself” is written to his mother, who has been experiencing health problems. Cullah’s new album represents the month that he was born in. To that season of new growth -he has pledged to dedicate the fully-formed creation, execution, and manifestation of his virtuoso. To understand his capabilities you only need to listen to “Love You Gotta Be” this particular song incorporates three different key signatures and the wild heart of his sister’s songwriting. To only call him technically talented- that would be underselling. To call him the next greatest artist – that would be only logical.
Cullah’s new music video has me delightful. It’s not secret that his Cullahsus album was a banger and is in the running to be my favorite album of the year. 2018 was a fantastic year for music. Marci Klugiewiez’s interpretation of Cullah’s new song “I See” added new layers of emotional value through narration and inventive interactions with the song. This music video makes you want a relationship with the music instead of a one-night stand.
When I watched this video for the first time, I could feel a grin spreading from ear to ear as I leaned forward with giddiness. My chair creaked below me. I felt the hair raise on my arms and on the back of my neck. Then I repeated the song. The banjo grabbed me, and the stop-motion family of bears kept me there. Marci has been going to MIAD, an art school in downtown Milwaukee and used a combination of heavy paper, markers, and colored pencils improved with a smattering of photoshop for the eyes.
This north woods vocalist didn’t take a minute to grab my attention. Synth and the banjo work together to explore the periphery of sound. “I See” became more than a fantastic song, it became a dynamic odyssey into the turbulence of uncertainty. In a year dominated by great sound, “I See” stop motion video stood out.
It was a dreary afternoon. The sky was overcast, and the wind was a little bit too cool for early June. Despite the weather we were in line for the concert that was in such demand it sold out. Luckily, we had bought tickets months ahead of time. Every time I go to a show in the Pabst, the architecture of Milwaukee’s Pabst theater always takes my breath away. We find our seats and wait for the show to start. I get impatient and buy a white claw and a Guinness for my boyfriend.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard played in Milwaukee on the 9th of June. When the lights first came on a different Australian band strut on stage, every single one of them sporting mullets. Spiit’s cacophonous punk attitude filled the whole theater. People started dive bombing into their fellow crowd members in the front. I was flabbergasted at the choice of a punk band to play before the headliner, a psychedelic rock band. I’m afraid to say that, by the end, I wanted to go home.
I promised my boyfriend to stay for only a couple more songs right before King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. As I listened I held my left wrist’s fingers to count. Slowly my hands dropped to my sides as I heard the familiar flange of the guitar. Rattlesnake permeated the room with the sound of their flawless guitar riffs. The sheer amount of music that they knew by heart was impressive. By the end of the show, all people were jamming to polyrhythmic psychedelic rock and were demanding encore. The band gave in and eventually played us a song that they hadn’t performed in a while, they told us.
At the end of the show I was happy that I went. Despite the horrible weather and a less than stellar opener, the headliner took our standard of what a good performance was and elevated it.
Have you ever wondered about what the heck Cullah’s new album is going to sound like? Well, wonder no more here is the ever genre-bending Cullah’s new single, Moonlove Funk.
“Why, man he doth bestride the narrow world like a “Cullahsus”; and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves.”
When I asked him to describe his album in a single sentence, his response was this Shakespearian phrase. Taking in the narrowness of the world and this phrase describes the darkness of shadows cast by things that we can’t control. He describes the themes of his album with rhetorical flair. But it doesn’t describe it all in a nutshell. Not by any means.
When you get Ian (the mind behind Cullah) talking it’s hard to tell when he’s going to stop. This is a quality that has allowed him to produce album after album without so much as a hiccup. On the advent of his upcoming 27th birthday he is now releasing his stylistic 12th album. Different from so many artists who have landed on top spots due to pure luck and catchy singles; Cullah redefines maximizing your potential and has become inseparable from the music that he lovingly records, rerecords, records again, and remasters.
With his aptly named brand new album Cullahsus, he takes us back to his roots. His funky beats and that Milwaukee melodic spirit that never left now accompanies every song. His bachelors’ in Computer Engineering and the old school MC Cullah shows in the electronic tinkering that defines his song, “Till at Last”. Well-placed sampling and cheery chirps travel to your ears with ease. Positivity beams at the fall of every beat and brings a smile to your face, making you wish for just one more verse.
Budgeting his food solely from the small amount money he makes from Spotify since he has refused to fully commercialize his music; he declares his resolute spirit through “King Jebediah (The Falcon Messiah)”. The themes infused the album are a lack of control of circumstances to a larger benevolent beast. In Cullah’s case, King Jebediah seems to be the music itself that he creates and is provided by.
This is the first year that he has been able to concentrate his efforts solely on creating his music. Unhindered by other responsibilities, in “Hurrycane” and “Helios 3” he seems to be both overwhelmed and liberated in the storms and boundless space of creativity.
Despite these new joys and pains, a bit of the previous “Cullahmity” album influences “Cullahsus”. A heartbroken Irish trill echoes in “The Grief of Ceridwen” illustrating the loneliness that comes with the freedom expressed in his other songs.
The way “I see” begins initially makes you think the song is going in a completely different direction than Cullah decides takes you. Starting with a genuine hook, he takes your hand and leads you through a story of an individual rising up against nature and winning the fight. Using his new violin and banjo skills that he has acquired for the album he pours his heart out in a Call of the Wild twist on classic folk sensibility.
There are so many other songs that stitch the freedom of life in all of its joys and sorrows together in one man’s work of art. The sheer volume and the quality of the work that Cullah annually presents is impressive. He is an artist to watch for.
Find even more of his music FOR FREE on his website www.cullah.com
OR if you have spotify and if you have ever been to youtube he’s also on there!
The Woman’s march on Washington was a collection of identities that intersected in one purpose; rallying for Civil Liberties. Joining together for the freedom that was promised to us as our birthright. America is our home; she is our adopted mother. During President Trump’s inauguration speech, he promised to put America first.
But his rhetoric is indicative of a single type of America, a single story. The American that is of European decent. The one that is rich in money and intolerance. The one who has gotten what was promised to him from the moment he was born. That is not the Common American. She is one of many faiths, ethnicities, abilities, orientations, occupations, genders, and other many cultures. We are proud, intersectional, and we are strong.
The America that I know is one that is made stronger by our differences. The lines that divide us; we use to build the strongest foundations. We have grown from 200,000 in 1963 (History) to 470,000 in 2017 (NY Times). Arm in arm we march and we lend our voices to each others life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
We marched for that America.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher who was viewed as more of a threat to our society than the disease of segregation, than intolerance, and especially the domestic terrorism that has been waged and still is being perpetrated against the most vulnerable of us. In my eyes this domestic terror starts with hate speech, and that violence has no place in this nation.
During the hearing of Dylann Roof, a young man who shot nine black Americans in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Chruch on the basis of their race; a victim’s family member said this “We are the family that love built, we have no room for hating” (CNN) Our strength in the face of violent hate and after losing so much, is forgiveness.
But, we must remember the pain of extrajudicial killings from police officers; the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and countless unnamed others whose justice was denied without police accountability for their fatal actions. Remember that the change we need doesn’t come from a single person, it comes from a movement, it comes from a place of love.
We have not come to denounce each other, we are here to grow in our understanding of each other. To show our solidarity to all others who are also living their nonviolent struggle for peace. I am here to say that Black Lives Matter, Islamophobia is Anti-American, we stand in solidarity of our water protectors in Standing Rock as well as all those people still suffering in Flint MI. Among so many others we stand in solidarity. We must answer the hate by filling the world with more love. I’m hoping by standing out here that the other side will see the validity and soundness of our arguments and appeals. They will gather around the firmness of our truth and our love.
But as Gandhi once wrote back in 1918 in the Indian times, “Prejudices cannot be removed by legislation… They yield only to patient toil and education.”
Donald Trump attended Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania (BS). And in places of such learning, it saddens me that some lessons didn’t stick with President Trump. With his prosperity, he went to turn over the earth, instead of building bridges and he built walls around his home.
He forgets that we are not opponents on either side of an ideological war. We are not authoritarian soldiers coming to take everything that he holds dear. We have no guns, no tanks, no swords; We only have our pens, our voices, and our want for peace. Especially for those backs that this country was built on. Those who are still searching for the freedom that they came here to find, and who’s justice has been denied for far to long.
To invoke the words of Martin Luther King Jr, just before he was shot like so many of ours today. I have been to that mountaintop, He saw America for all that she could be. He was dismissed as a radical by many but as he states in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” He is a radical of love. He lived the revolutionary moment that existed in his mind. And like him, I have seen that shining city upon that hill.
You are here because you have seen what I have. You have heard the words of our new president and you know that those words do not represent America, our shining city that exists in all of our minds. We have seen a world were people are heard and believed and protected from those who would do us violence. Looking at the past of America; we know that intolerance will fail as all things tended with hate do. Progress is achievable because when we rise with love in our hearts; we win.
This past November 8th, Donald J. Trump was elected by the Electoral College to be the new President of the United States. This newly elected POTUS has, among other things in his first 100 days, promised to Repeal Obamacare, he has promised to deport over two million people out of our country, wanting to require a Muslim registry. He has also promised to secure funds to build the wall between US and Mexico, promised to eliminate federal regulations and international trade deals, embracing dirty energy instead of investing in sustainability; doing this by bringing back coal, the keystone pipeline, scrapping the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Agreements. Along with filling his administration with White Supremacists and other alt-right conservatives.
But contrary to what happened, I believe that Trump is not truly representative of America and is supremely unqualified to be our leader. Trump’s goals are counter to our goals and our best-interests as citizens of a democracy. And as free individuals we have a duty to take our government and community into our own hands and start the nonviolent participation in our government. In order to make our government work for us, we need to focus on an issue and tackle it. I believe that letter writing, phone calls, petitions, online publication, and real world participation in our government, such as putting pressure on our own legislators and community leaders. Trump doesn’t make up America, we do. I would eventually like to organize rallies and foster discussion on important issues such as healthcare, race, class, sexual orientation, and gender identification among countless other things.
It is good to be vocal and compassionate in order to start discussions and educate ourselves. All of us are here because we want to see real quantitative change and I hope that by volunteering our time and efforts we can see that happen. In order to be an activist we must educate ourselves and inform others, only by speaking and expressing ourselves we can make ourselves known.