by Jonathan Gramling
I hope people will turn out for Black Restaurant Week sponsored by the Black Chamber of Commerce, the week of October 11-18. There are 30 Black food
companies participating including Kipp’s Kitchen Catering, which is a regular fixture at Dane Dances serving up food. Some of them are full-fledged, brick and
mortar restaurants, some are food carts scattered around the county and others are food caterers and dessert makers. One of them, Valice Peyton, has been
serving up delicious pies for well over 30 years. I first became acquainted with them when I was the co-chair of the King Coalition in the 1990s and Valice would
always bring over some of her sweet potato pies for the free community dinner at the First United Congregational Church on Wisconsin Avenue. Valice calls me
from time to time to check on me and to let me know what she has heard on the grapevine. I do appreciate you Valice.
I am going to try at least two of the Black Restaurants during that week. I’m going to check out The Anointed One on Junction Road just because I had never heard
of them before and the photos in the windows looked good. And then I’ll try another establishment. There are so many good ones to choose from.
The American Players Theatre near Spring Green will be presenting August Wilson’s Fences from October 10-September 28th. August Wilson’s plays are so
delectable in so many ways. His use of language is awesome. The plays work on so many levels and touch on societal and personal issues that hold true today.
And his plays are just so darn entertaining using humor to sometimes make deep points.
Way back in 2002, the now-defunct Madison Repertory Theatre produced Fences starring Roscoe Orman as Troy, the central character. It was an impressive
production back then and I know that the American Players Theater and director Ron OJ Parson and his cast will deliver an impressive one as well. And APT’s
production will have the added benefit of being done outside complete with any bugs that show up. The set of Fences is a backyard in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. It
will be an added touch of realism.
Also on August 10th — it is going to be a very busy day — 100 Black Men of Madison will host their Back-to-School event at Madison College Truax. This is the
granddaddy of all school-supplies-stuffed backpack giveaways that now seem to be held in every neighborhood in Madison. The added touch of the 100 Black Men
event is that MMSD and many other agencies will be present to provide a lot of handy information to the parents — and children — in attendance. So don’t forget to
put the 100 Black Men of Madison Back-to-School event first on your Things to Do list for August 10th.
Also on August 10th, Clyde Gaines and Peboga present the Next Level Showcase at the Labor Temple on S. Park Street starting at 2 p.m. It’s a free event that will
feature the music of The FunkeeJbeez, Orquesta SalSoul, Collage and Company, Tweed featuring Gervais Myles and Kaylin Kole. There will be food available for
And I must say that I am truly honored to be one of six honorees at the Seventh Annual Awards Luncheon being hosted by The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute. I
can remember back to the day when CHHI was first launched at either the Urban League offices on Gorham Street or National Guardian Life so many years ago. The
luncheon is being held Thursday August 8th, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Best Western Premier Park Hotel. Besides me, Corinda Rainey-Moore, Frances Huntley-
Cooper, Patrick Sims, Dr. Ruben Anthony and Walter Williams are being honored.
The keynote speaker is Mr. Willie Barney and the theme is “Answers to Difficult Questions. Tickets are available at www.chhimadison.org.
And of course, one big thing that will be happening in three weeks is Africa Fest on August 17th at Milt McPike Park. Africa Fest is a grand time where people, no
matter what their background, wear their African best. There is good food for sale, as well as beer and wine. And the music, drumming and dancing are always top-
notch. This year’s festival will feature a performance by Dobet Gnahore from the Ivory Coast, Cote D’Ivoire. She has performed at many Madison musical festivals
before including the Wisconsin Union’s World Music Festival and perhaps the Bob Queen’s Sessions of Fete de Marquette. She is fabulous. Come on out!
I hope everyone is having a great summer. I can’t believe that most of the summer is already gone and that in just a little over a
month, Madison public schools will be opening up once again along with the new Madison College South Goodman campus. All
of that is pretty exciting, but we also have a lot of exciting things going on before we get to the fall.
There’s a lot of music in our futures starting with this Friday night on the Rooftop of Monona Terrace when Dane Dances will kick
off its 20th season with Orquesta MAS, Madison All Stars and VO5. Then on August 9th, it really will be a trip down memory lane
when the KTP Commodores Tribute Band, the Antoine Draine Barry White Tribute Band and Heatwave take the stage. The evening
is going to take us back to the 1970s when the Commodores, Barry White and Heatwave were part of a soul, R&B music
explosion. It was truly a golden age, in my humble opinion. It was a time when The Brothers Johnson was singing ‘I’ll Be Good
to You’ and The Commodores were getting all of us on the dance floor with Brickhouse.’
And Heatwave was a part of that too with The Groove Line and Now and Forever. It should be a fantastic evening. It will
definitely take me back to my days on the campus of Alcorn State University.