Bethany Saint-Smith & Andrés Rexach: a Blues project
I met Andrés via Instagram. He was one of the many guitarists lingering in the hashtag of #blues and when I heard his harmonics and perfect melody, I thought that I was sure we should work together. I reached out to him. Within a short time, we wrote an album together in the course of a week. I’d rough the lyrics and ideas for the melodies and he’d turn around an entire track within the same day. Soon enough we were at his studio, La Guitarrería.
We recorded the vocals all in one day, his studio warm and welcoming. We became siblings at this moment, while we didn’t always fully understand one another through word, because of a simple language barrier, our music was seamless in creation, often times leaving us both speechless. When you create, when you flow and allow music to be what it’s intended to be, it’s the only language that matters. We created a place where blues, electric blues, jazz, rock and a bit of pop love would come together to create Blues, Harmony, Sur. He produced the album, got the band together, worked on the songs and recorded it, had it sent to Achim Wierschem in Germany for mastering.
Thank you to Abstract Magazine TV for choosing “Slow & Steady” for the music portion of your magazine, we are honored to share it with the folks in Oklahoma and around the world.
Visit the link below to read more about the project and the people that made this project possible, including those who recorded on the album and in the live recording you’ll see below; Marcelo Armando Mira, Facundo Ciminelli, Daniel Volpini (first edition).
Black Pearls is a poetry chapbook that I wrote just after closing up the pages of my memoir. Its style is dark and dismal, with tales of hushed grains from my past. Inspired by the rerouted roots of southern gothic inflections, and melodies from various authors and songwriters. The unfinished business of my memoir carries through this chapbook. Drawing inspiration from evolving friendships and ties.
I’m honored to have been chosen to partner with Abstract Magazine TV (based in Oklahoma) with a lineup of otherworldly artists that share their music, art, and poetry.
When I couldn’t write an album of music to illustrate the way I had felt about the years I’ve lived through an abusive childhood with my father, I found a place to rest and rumble in writing a memoir. After I wrote the memoir, I found that I was lyrically restless, I had the songs. I spilled them into an album within a short few months. After I wrote that album, I wasn’t done with what was happening. There were bodies of water all over, surrounding me. I found myself caught in poetry. I began my first chapbook, “Black Pearls”, a series of work that has come from some of the deepest parts of my heart and soul. When I finished writing those twenty-something poems, I kept writing, I kept at it. I wrote until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
I have since then, written a script, some short stories, and am now into my fourth chapbook of poetry. A lot of the work is caught up in hopes to be published, but I have decided to keep one chapbook for myself here, where I will share with you the bits and parts of me that have laid low, for years upon years.
“Flower Viewing” is just that. A gathering, a place, where I’ve come to love and appreciate the view of my flowers, all of my wildflowers, the ones that bloom in my dreams, the ones that guitars sing about in songs that you can barely stand or sit to listen to, the ones that further heartfulness and love for peace of mind. One dream I had while writing the memoir stemmed this- I was sitting under a Cherry Tree, while someone handpicked cherries and brought them to me, one by one. I had been crying and the sun still shined, the clouds still rolled, people still passed and I got up and I still went.
Thank you for reading.
I craved him at rest A militant handwritten accord of his home in my lost time I’d loyally borrow his torment and don them as my own honored reserve committed to hollowing out the fruits of hateful and intolerant white noise the vast corruption of lost aspirations in my rosy head Had there been a phone to hold to the trickle of my bleeding mum lips my hankerings would have had nothing more to be said.
When they sweep you under with their eyes, it is truly because there is no place for you to exist in their world. The shockingness of being left out, on the line, left out of the conversation, left out of your rights to feel connected as a goddamned human being. What are we saying? Are we allowing this to happen because our generation of raising kids and raising one another was a bit different in the 80’s or 90’s? Who bought you lunch and then got up and told you to eat alone? That same person is the one who won’t give you time because they don’t want to, but they’ve got money, no? Stop allowing time to manage you. Be present.
We’ve become undecided on how we react to including others. We choose to criminalize those who aren’t criminal, while the criminals’ families are begging with their bloody money to let them free but *we* are absolutely alright by that because every single person is a different story. Each light, a different switch. But when you dare to toxify the eligibility of one’s purpose, you’ve decided to exclude them. There is no worse way than to feel excluded for unknown reasons.
I had a situation at school when I was in the seventh grade. I was being barked at and constantly bullied by a white girl, who had a problem with not only people of color, but she loved to bark at me, bark bark bark. Do you know that most of the time, the seventh graders that surrounded me would usually lightly chuckle? How do you lightly chuckle when someone is barking at you because they assume you are lower than human because of the color of your skin? It traumatized me (and really bothered me) in a lot of ways. She was always finding people to gang up on me and if it wasn’t for my sweet friend who stood by me, I would have crumbled, but, not many stood by me or even up for me. I’d sit in class and she would throw shit at me from the back section and people let her actions be cute. They allowed it. Perhaps some didn’t see it, but to me, everyone fucking saw it. She swept me under.
She single-handedly allowed her actions to degrade my existence and when I would ask for help with the situation, I got the, “kids will be kids” talk. Oh, kids will be kids, yes of course. She spits on me. Her saliva on my face, my hair, my skin. Oh, kids will be kids. She drew in black sharpie on her hand, an anarchy symbol, but with a B instead of an A, you know, “anti-black”, but, you know, kids will be kids. She tried to set my backyard on fire, but the police officer assured my mother and I that I had probably sparked something inside her to make her that angry. So, the color of my skin and self-defense. Whew, that’s a lot to hurt someone with. You don’t understand how sweeping someone under can affect their ability to grow as a human. How are we dehumanizing children across the world? We need to advocate for those who cannot and do not understand how to advocate for themselves because they are children. When she sent me a friend request on Facebook a few years ago, I was angry. It was apparent to me just how unimportant her actions were. She didn’t care how she had treated me, I bet she may have even felt a little bad now, now that she’s a mother. But she didn’t even have the courage to apologize after all these years. We are more than twice our age of the time, now. We must stop sweeping people under, each one matters.
So at what point are we going to stop allowing people to take away from each individual childhood experience? At what point is one more important than the other? I’m highly confused by how we are treating children and allowing them to repeat a cycle of history that has been proven not fucking OK. When I get involved with my son at his school, I often find myself watching how the children interact with one another. It’s the same way you do at the park when you’ve got a field of new kids running around, how does your child interact? How do we help them to be friendly, but strong? My son was running around, one cloudy afternoon. One boy about the same age, kept pushing him and hitting him at random moments and saying things under his breath to my son, that I couldn’t hear. Actively bullying. It took everything in me to stand back and let them handle it. I’m involved, do not get me wrong, but I wanted to see how my son handled the situation, so I let him. The kid kicked my son in his back and then smiled, looking down at me from the slide. Okay. His mother was close by, but she did not see what was going on. So when my son came down the slide, he told me, “Mama, that boy kicked me and I don’t know what to do, he’s not being nice”. He wasn’t crying, he wasn’t scared, he was not sure what to do. So I said, “go ask him to please not kick or hit you, that you don’t like it.” “Okay, mama”. He walked up to the little boy and before he could tell him anything, the little boy pushed my son. So, now, I’m all up in flames, right? I walk up to a five or six year old and… he is five or six… ok? I said, “please, don’t treat other kids like that, it’s not cool”.
The kid decided to change lanes and went to kick another child who was younger in the back of the knee, causing them to fall down. Well, well. I thought. Now his mother and father were standing in the middle, in the middle of the playground, but not watching him at all and this just kept on and on. My son has a little accent, because he was born in New York, and speaks Spanish now, and English, often times together, turning heads. It leaves him in a vulnerable place at school and on the playground, but it doesn’t stop him from playing, yet. His first year at school, the kids didn’t know what to think, and at that age, forming a bond with “like” kids is normal because parents do the same often times. You never know why a bully chooses you, but often times it’s personal.
There was a fighter light in me. I wanted to go to his mother and pull her hair, you know? I did not do that. There are so many incidents that happen when we are paying attention. When we are not paying attention, “everything is fine”. Do not sweep under the things you cannot see. Yes, focus on what you can control, don’t stir yourself with the things out of your hands, okay, but please. Courage up, for us. I wish I could have called someone when I was in the 7th grade and said, “Hey, this person is making fun of the color of my skin and there’s nothing I can do to change this color of skin I’m in, can you please keep an eye out for me? Maybe sprinkle some other colors into my class, so that I’m not the only one? Perhaps you could talk with her about how black people do matter?” It was too much for me then. For the kid who can’t seem to get in line because someone won’t “allow them” to. Take damn good ownership of how we treat one another, teach it and be it, too. Embrace diversity, because believe it or not, the little world we live in, it’s diverse and if you don’t see that, I recommend ya put the broom down and stop sweeping. Get out of your comfort zone and be mindful of the dirt you can’t see. Being bullied for the color of your skin, it hurts, it’s being told that you don’t matter and silently, being swept under to a place we don’t gotta go again. Especially in a time like this right now, where we are watching children be brutally bullied, for the color of their skin, let’s stop raising these types, get better and smarter kids to run an office, a playground, a city, a support group, you know, let’s work with the ones with good-hearted hands who don’t bark and dehumanize others.