It was thrilling to hear and recognize the voice of one of my musical and activist heroes and muses — and briefly a colleague — Rupa Marya pka Rupa & The April Fishes on Michael Krasny’s KQED Forum radio show Wednesday.
Rupa has a new album out “Growing Upward“, her sixth, but the first to come with 12 different organic seeds (i.e. to grow plants or herbs or medicine).
I actually caught up to her on Saturday, Terry TMW and I did, at a house concert in Half Moon Bay.
Her band is fantastic; there have been some shifts and drifts and undulations of personnel since I met her in 2008. Saturday’s band had: guitar, voice, cello, violin, upright bass, piano, trumpet and drummer Aaron Kierbal, the only mainstay for all 11 years.
Although I am still a Luddite in numerous ways –a philosophy sometimes articulated or at least hinted at ironically enough here at Plastic Alto, in the b1og0sphere — I tapped a virtual button or two and– VIOLA — there it was on my magic handheld information box, Rupa’s new cd.
So today, back at my familiar perch, with a backpack full of ideas — The Atlantic, Norton’s Anthology of Lit especially Faulker “the Barn” and Williams’ “Streetcar”, a spiral notebook — I was gonna review Rupa’s new cd with my earbuds — or all 6 — ok, there are 4 on Apple Music and a live album and something else — and NOT write in my blog but something about her track “Where You From” made me think about my Mom’s relatives I found on the internet while prepping to do her eulogy last fall.
Long story short: my mother’s mother’s name is Baker, but Aunt Es said before that it was Sukoenig. And I found a Sukoenig on the internet who kind of looks like me and gestures like me and sings a little and says he and his closer kin have done the research and we were actually Sukeniks from Russia but one was a cantor and changed it to Sukoenig to get a job with a German synogogue because they paid more than the Russians did.
Simplify your name. Simplify your name. Simplify your last name. Ellis Island the death place for syllables too lazy for American tongues, she say.
To repeat: Rupa Marya is a physician who grew up in the area, went to Castilleja, then college, then med school and somewhere around there met Michael Franti, Gil Scott Heron, Manu Chau and Jack Hirschman and stepped to their step or swapped spit with them so to speak –and I promised myself I would watch what I say here — I have a bittersweet memory of interviewing Rupa and Ed Baskerville her original bandmate live on KZSU and making some very bad jokes and blaming it on the cough syrup. Again: Rupa Marya, Rupa & The April Fishes she sings in French, Spanish, Hindi and English. Although now, as her ideas have become more political — and in synch with her extracurriculars helping the disenfranchised in Tijuana, Oakland, Standing Rock — she sings more in English. And she has performed in 28 countries and started a family and owns with her hubby a farm in the Oakland Hills.
Music can be a healing force in the universe.
Music can be a magic force in the universe.
William Faulkner once said that man will not only persevere he will prevail.
Rupa says it’s not just that when a woman says no, she means “no”, but we could do more to get women to say “YES” and “HELL, YES!”
HELL YES to that, sister. I mean, Doctor, I mean neighbor and friend.
coda: her schedule:
Sunday, May 26, Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz
Friday, June 14, The North Star House, Grass Valley (near Sacramento) NB: the venue is designed by Julia Morgan
Saturday, July 6, live on KPFA Berkeley
Monday, July 22, Munich
Saturday, July 27, Nuremberg (half price if your name is Sukoenig)
And1: my cousin Mark Sukoenig sings about an organic farmer, Marvin, eating ice cream; he did not write the song; from Minsk, Belarus, annexed by Russia in 1793, yo.
Andand: Rupa says she had bought Dave Montgomery’s soil book for her farmer Ben.
Andandand but not Anand: The Goldmans came out this week, from Liberia, Macedonia, Canada and more.