Stop War; Love More

Posted on June 27, 2011

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I love the cover of Lynn hip hop artist and social activist Walnut-Da Lyrical Geni’s new album, “Love is in Your Face.” I also love the refrain of the song, “Don’t Get It Confused:”

Just because I say Hi to you
and spark a conversation or two,
Doesn’t mean I wanna get with you,
I’m just a friendly dude.

You can sample that song here. Walnut treated the audience to a band-backed, amped-up arrangement of this song and his iconic “There Goes the Neighborhood.” Amped up from my perspective, that is, having only seen him perform before at the Front Street Coffeehouse with beatbox accompaniment. In all of its configurations, the band laid down an irresistible groove it did not deviate from. Walnut held his album release party/birthday bash at Lynn Arts Neal Rantoul Blackbox Theatre on Saturday, June 25.

I had the privilege of experiencing “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a hilarious musical produced by Lynn’s Arts After Hours at the very same venue a week earlier. The Neal Rantoul Theatre is an intimate setting, well-suited to showcase Lynn’s emerging arts and entertainment scene. I can only hope more artists make use of it. It strikes me as a great place to have a haunted house with its bank vault door; the building its in could very well have been a bank in an earlier incarnation.

Artists featured on the album performed their own sets to open for Walnut. Gretchen Elise is a fantastic singer and socially conscious lyricist. Her guitar player’s leads fooled me into thinking I was hearing sax.

Storyteller Tony Toledo was the MC. He is a most playful and benevolent host, magically weaving a story about each performer into his introductions.  At the end of a set, he would bestow upon the departing performer a token of the audience’s appreciation in the form of a small everyday object such as a stone and send them off with words of wisdom or encouragement, again in story form. Thus would he imbue one-in-a-million objects with specific symbolic meanings.

Then there was 7-year-old rapper MC D. He had the most profound lyric of the evening, stripped down to its essence, simple and direct. “Stop War. Love More.”

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