WIB Listening Party #47: Don’t Give Up On Me

featuring…

♫ Solomon Burke, Don’t Give Up On Me

🍺 Crew Republic In Your Face West Coast IPA

Words & photos: Vincent Abbate

Today’s my 57th birthday. I feel moderately OK, calm, at peace. But my mood is not celebratory. Current world events, a black cloud as of late, are not the primary reason. It’s that number. 57. I have a problem with it.

My graying hair, my daily aches and pains, the slight gut that now sags from my scrawny frame – they all tell me that the number fits. It’s gotta be true. But I don’t want to be 57. I’m possessive of my time on this earth. I love life and don’t want to surrender it. I don’t want to count the days.

Turning back the clock is not an idea that appeals to me. My youth wasn’t all that wonderful. I like where these 57 years have taken me. I’m so much stronger in so many ways. If only I could have had the life skills I have now – the confidence bordering on fearlessness – when I was young and bursting with physical energy. I still have the passion and desire, but now it’s packed inside this aging, slowing, declining body.

I know what the solution is, what the goal must be today: To find my way from wishing things could be different to accepting what is. Being in the moment and arriving at a place of gratitude is always the answer.

Or maybe it’s music and beer.

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WIB Listening Party #42: Migration Blues

featuring…

♫ Eric Bibb, Migration Blues

🍺 Tyskie Gronie

Words & photos: Vincent Abbate

I’m finding it hard to carry on with business as usual. Life goes on, as it must. As it should. Yet when war, destruction, mass flight and the murder of innocents are happening just a single time zone away – the Ukrainian border is roughly 800 miles from where I sit – most everything else seems trivial. I didn’t post a Listening Party last week because it didn’t feel right.

This week I’ve decided to feature an album released some five years ago in response to Europe’s last great refugee crisis. Though let’s face it: The “crisis” has never actually taken a day off. Between the mass exodus of families from war-torn Syria and the ongoing evacuation of women and children from Ukraine, countless desperate thousands have risked their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean from northern Africa to southern Europe.

That is exactly the point of the 15-song Migration Blues. Eric Bibb, like me a native New Yorker who has settled on the European continent, went from thinking about the humanitarian crisis of 2015 (when some 1.3 million sought asylum in Europe) to considering the Great Migration that saw millions of African Americans flee oppressive conditions in the rural South for the promise of greater freedom in northern American cities. Ultimately, Bibb concluded that, “We all come from people who, at some time or another, had to move.”

We’ll focus on his music with little commentary from me.

Because the traditional format of this feature also includes beer, we’ll raise a glass of Polish piwo in salute to a country that has already welcomed almost half a million refugees in the past week.

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