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Festival Offers Message of Unity, Diversity and Community

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By Debbie Wallace –

The City of Riverside may have to see cultural arts through a new lens.

While the 7th Annual International Drum, Dance and Mask Festival offered an explosion of dance, music and art, its underlying message of unity and diversity added something new – community service, service learning and the importance of creating collaboratives.

The festival, held May 22nd at Riverside’s White Park, gave producer and presenter, “We the People” Cultural Arts Group (WTP), an opportunity to showcase community groups, regional talent and a pioneering music legend yet keep the theme relevant.

“We want people to understand the importance of giving,” noted festival organizer Yvonne Choyce-Oglesby. “Giving comes in many forms.”

“This is a great opportunity to give community service,” said Supervising Parole Agent, Sandra Abacherli. The Home Shopping Network, AmeriCorps Restoring Youth and Communities, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Dectech Music Production Training Center and scores of volunteers offered over one thousand community service hours towards the production of Saturday’s event. Volunteers gave valuable community service time while learning more about diversity, unity and cultures from around the world.

Throughout the day, the audience sampled music and dance from South America, Central America, Africa, Asia, Europe as well as music, art and dance created in America. “I feel like I am visiting the United Nations. The nice thing is I do not need an interpreter because music, art and dance are universal languages,” noted volunteer, Derrick Turner.

Each performance captured the festivals message and colorfully exported it to the audience. Under the watchful eye of master percussionist and storyteller, Clarence “Chazz” Ross, children formed a drum circle and participated in a magical story took them across the ocean and through the jungle.

Traditional drumming such as the Senryu Taiko Drummers were a major element of the program but the organizers felt it was important to include various art forms.

ENVY, a contemporary female duet and Joey’s Project, rocked the house with its blend of rock, funk fusion while Son Merekumbe flavored the festival with a taste of Afro Cuban song and dance.

WTP founder Lori Dismuke, formed the nucleus of the WTP Dance Troup whose West African drum and dance ensemble connected the continents with their highenergy act. When steel band sensation, Sapadilla, played the theme song from the movie Madagascar II, “I Like to Move It,” the audience agreed and clapped to the beat. Both children and adults circled the band’s stilt dancer and the audience joined in the chorus.

Moreno Valley resident, Dr. Steven Merrall, brought his father, who is visiting from England to the festival in hopes of learning more about music from other cultures. “This is a great event. The atmosphere is positive. The food is great and performers are unbelievable,” said Merrall. “This is a wonderful example of community service coming together,” he added.

Away from the stage, event goers sampled face painting, viewed fine art by Charles Bibbs and experienced a live music studio.

“Never have I seen so many activities in one place. They even had a live recording booth at the festival,” recalled festival attendee, Justin Murphy. “What makes this awesome is this was all free.”

Pioneering musical legend, Kurtis Blow punctuated the program with a riveting performance.

He asked the audience to make individual and community commitments while taking them down musical memory lane.

Blow brought a group of local children on the stage and showed all that he still had some good dance moves. The crowd chimed and rhymed with Blow as he sang his mega hits, “The Breaks” and “Basketball” and recalled the “old school days.”

As an ordained minister, Blow speaks out against racism, drugs and alcohol. “We wanted people to hear his message yet still have fun listening to his music,” said Derek Yobb, Jr., whose company, Dectech, arranged and sponsored Blow’s appearance.

WTP plans new dance and music programs to its menu of activities but recognizes how important the festival is to the community. “We are already working on next year. We hope it will be bigger and better,” noted Dismuke.

Morris Day for All Time

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By S.Y. Brown –

The California Theatre in San Bernadino was filled to near capacity Friday night with loyal fans stepping back in time with Morris Day and the Time. The crowd was a rainbow mixture of men and women eagerly awaiting Morris Day, the-original-man-of-swagger. After much anticipation the build up of music brought Morris Day on stage.

The mesmerized audience joined in unison as he spelled out his best known character trait and title song C-O-O-L.

The smooth rhythms and perfectly placed beats created the perfect party atmosphere for the almost fifteen hundred people in attendance.

The crowd was worked into a sweat along with Morris Day, but he quickly set the record straight that it was not sweat he was wiping off his face but “condensation”.

The hour and a half concert left the highly energized crowd wanting more and more of his laid back yet seductive brand of songs. He was still as cool as ever.

Morris Day and the Time makes a statement that they were not just innovators of music since 1982 but that they are also still very relevant to the music industry of today.

Niecy Nash no longer 'Dancing with the Stars'

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(Reuters) - Niecy Nash was eliminated from ABC's ballroom competition show "Dancing with the Stars" on Tuesday after receiving the lowest scores from the judges and failing to rally viewers to her side.

Nash, the bubbly host of reality show "Clean House" and an actress on "Reno 911!," was joined in the bottom two by NFL footballer Chad Ochocinco after a grueling week in which the routines were upped to two apiece.

But Nash, whose paso doble on Monday failed to match her Viennese waltz, said she was happy to have come this far.

"I am a 40-year-old mother of three, I've got three C-sections under my belly," she said.

Nash's elimination leaves four celebrities in the popular show, with Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger considered the front-runner to win the 10th season finale.

ESPN sports reporter Erin Andrews, Olympic skater Evan Lysacek, and Ochocinco will also move on to next week's semi-finals after Tuesday's results show.

"Dancing with the Stars" is enjoying its best season for years and is challenging "American Idol" on rival Fox for the biggest weekly audiences thanks to a strong cast that has included actress Pamela Anderson, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and TV reality mother Kate Gosselin.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)

George Wallace Brings 30 Years of Comedy to San Manuel

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Night of Laughs Begins with One of America’s Funniest Dad’s, John Witherspoon

Thursday, May 20, 2010, San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino welcomes funnymen George Wallace and John Witherspoon to the showroom stage. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and the San Manuel Box Office for $25 and $35.

In 1977, George Wallace caught his break in a Manhattan comedy club, where he used his natural humor and likeable personality to win over crowds.

Shortly after he moved to the West Coast, Wallace became a regular at the legendary Comedy Store and also took his comedy show on the road, opening for George Benson, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Smokey Robinson.

In 1995, he won an American Comedy Award for Best Male Standup Comedian and was included on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand ups of all time. Wallace has taken his show to Las Vegas, where he does a headliner show at The Flamingo Resort and Casino.

Named one of America’s funniest dads as Ice Cube’s outrageously funny, dogcatching dad in New Line Cinema’s smash urban trilogy of movies “Friday”, “Next Friday”, and “Friday After Never”, John Witherspoon is outrageously funny.

Nationally known for his catchphrase “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!,” his work spans over four decades. Proven Hollywood mainstream for his involvement in The Richard Pryor Show, Boomerang, House Party and much more, he has recently launched The John Witherspoon Collection, a complete line of humorous greeting cards called Spoon Cards.

Every Thursday night with headliner entertainment, San Manuel gives away $1,000 just for seeing the show. To be eligible to win, guests only need a ticket to the show, a Club Serrano card and to be 21 or older. Guests can enter beginning at noon on such days. Three drawings will be held on those nights: $250 at 7:20 p.m., $250 at 10:00 p.m. and $500 at 11:00 p.m. Winners must be present. Doors open at 6:30. Must be 21 to enter Casino.

San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino is Southern California’s one-stop destination for entertainment and fun. The casino is just 67 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and a short drive from LA-Ontario International Airport. Guests enjoy 3,000 of the latest slots, live poker and Vegas-style blackjack, high-limit gaming, high-stakes bingo, incredible entertainment, sumptuous dining and generous player’s reward program. Owned and operated by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the casino has been providing fun and excitement since 1986. Since that time, players have received over $2 billion in cash, prizes and giveaways, making any visit to San Manuel an exciting and memorable experience. Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sanmanuelcasino and Twitter: www.twitter.com/sanmanuelcasino.

For more information on San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, please visit their Web site at www.sanmanuel.com or call 800-359-2464.

R&B Soul Singer, Keith Sweat, Gets San Manuel Grooving

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Thursday, June 17, 2010, San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino welcomes the silky-smooth vocals of Keith Sweat, along with the raw power of Aaron and Damion Hall. Tickets are on sale today and are available at Ticketmaster.com and the San Manuel Box Office for $35, $45, and $55.

Over the course of his 16-year career, he’s not only survived, he’s thrived, selling more than 14 million records, while garnering five #1 R&B albums, 15 Top 10 R&B singles, six #1 hits, four Top 5 pop singles, three multiplatinum and three platinum albums, two platinum and three gold singles, widespread critical acclaim and a rabid international following.

The Harlem-born college grad’s smooth transition from Wall Street brokerage assistant to R&B heartthrob was almost as fluid as his signature style of music. In fact, it’s likely that Sweat, who debuted in the late ’80s, single-handedly and ever-so-eloquently merged the “please, baby, baby, please” style that dominated ’60s R&B with the rhythmic moaning made famous by Steve Arrington, front man for ’70s R&B group Slave. His 1987 debut, “Make It Last Forever”, was the sexy backdrop to the short-lived yet monumental New Jack era. Remarkably, the quadruple-platinum album still scans at least 800 copies a week. His astonishing run of chart-topping discs continued with subsequent releases “I’ll Give All My Love To You”, “Keep It Comin’”, “Get Up On It” and “Keith Sweat”. He continues to record hit music to this day.

Aaron Hall, an American R&B singer and songwriter and older brother to Damion, was a member of the trio Guy in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The group produced hits like “ Groove Me,” “I Like,” and “Piece of My Love”. from their self-titled debut album.

“Let Chill” and “Do Me Right” came from their second album, “The Future”.

The brothers went on create solo careers after the break-up of Guy in 1991, where Aaron connected with K-Ci & Jojo in the 2Pac single “Toss It Up” in the 1996 album, “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory”.

Every Thursday night with headliner entertainment, San Manuel gives away $1,000 just for seeing the show. To be eligible to win, guests only need a ticket to the show, a Club Serrano card and to be 21 or older. Guests can enter beginning at noon on such days. Three drawings will be held on those nights: $250 at 7:20 p.m., $250 at 10:00 p.m. and $500 at 11:00 p.m. Winners must be present.

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