July 17, 2014




Tower’s musical odyssey actually began in 1968 when Emilio Castillo met Stephen “Doc” Kupka in July of that year. When Doc auditioned during a band rehearsal at Emilio's house, Emilio’s father called him into the kitchen and offered the following advice: “Hire that guy, he’s got something.” Doc and his signature baritone sax sound were now in the band, and on August 13, 1968, Tower of Power, as we know them today, began playing gigs, and soon became very well known in the area.


Many other bands came out of the San Francisco Bay area in the late 60’s. Bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Big Brother, Journey, Cold Blood and others all helped to define the “San Francisco Sound.” Tower of Power has always claimed Oakland, California as their hometown. Playing area venues and making a name for themselves, Tower of Power’s big break was just around the corner.


After playing at a Tuesday night audition at the Fillmore in 1970, Tower was signed to Bill Graham’s San Francisco records and their first album, East Bay Grease, was recorded. All of the compositions were original tunes written by Castillo and Kupka. Their next album, “Bump City,” was recorded on the Warner Brothers label, and this led to a string of hits and memorable albums that include many of the songs that TOP fans come out in force to hear, even to this day. Over the years, the Tower of Power Horns have recorded with hundreds of artists as diverse as Aerosmith, Elton John, Little Feat, Phish, Santana, Heart, and many others, forever infusing the radio airwaves with Tower’s musical DNA.


Since the beginning, Tower of Power has never stopped touring and recording. Always in demand, the band never fails to entertain and amaze their fans. Tower is truly blessed to have a dedicated following that often travels to see the band, and in many cases fans will plan their vacation or work schedule around an appearance of TOP.


Tower celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2008 at a very special reunion show at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. In addition to the ten current members of the band, another 20 musicians and vocalists that at one time held a position with the band appeared with them. The show was filmed and is available on DVD. Of the ten current members, Emilio Castillo, Rocco Prestia, Stephen Kupka, and David Garibaldi are four of the band’s founding members. Their dedication to the music, their creative writing, and their original vision still guides Tower of Power.


Each year Tower of Power tours the United States, Japan and Europe, playing to sold out crowds all over the world. Recent releases include Great American Soulbook, a collection of classic soul tunes, and the 40th Anniversary CD/DVD. Tower has never been busier or more in demand. New generations of fans come to see the band perform as their timeless music continues to excite fans of all ages. We hope you enjoy this website, which will be growing and evolving continually to include more band history, information on alumni members, and regular updates on Tower of Power.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 17, 2014

Aries March 21 – April 19


Creative opportunities, romantic dalliances, and a sense of fun and enjoyment will be augmented as Jupiter moves into Leo midweek. Your confidence in yourself and your abilities will gradually return, making you more willing to take a risk and explore fresh options. Along with this, Saturn's forward motion in your zone of shared resources is also excellent news, especially if you've suffered with problems in this area. There are also plenty of options for friendly get-togethers and parties on the home front.




Taurus April 20 – May 20


Domestic life and relationships take a turn for the better this week. Regarding home and family, over the next twelve months you have an opportunity to expand in this area. Perhaps you want to buy new property, start a family, or increase the one you have. Regarding your love life, if you've been through a trying time lately, things should gradually begin to ease in the weeks ahead. You can emerge from this phase stronger, with a greater sense of what's needed to make a relationship work.




Gemini May 21 – June 21


You'll be in your element from this week on as communication matters move to the top of the agenda. If you've considered writing, online marketing, or simply selling your talents, Jupiter's move into Leo can help you excel over the months ahead. And as Venus dances into Cancer it may be time to splurge on one or two luxuries, but keeping on track with your budget is also important. Later, Saturn's forward movement may ease any pressure associated with work or health matters.




Cancer June 22 – July 22


You may get the financial boost you've been hoping for as Jupiter jogs into Leo this week. It will stay here for the next twelve months, bringing many opportunities to increase your earnings and perhaps find a more lucrative job that uses your creative skills. At the same time, Saturn's forward movement in Scorpio may help unblock any feelings of insecurity around expressing yourself. If you've felt fearful about putting yourself out there, you may begin to feel less so.




Leo July 23 – August 22


You'll be in your element from this week as Jupiter hikes into your sign for a twelve-month stay. Over the coming weeks you may have more opportunities to expand your options and explore new horizons. Travel may feature, as well as a desire to challenge yourself to achieve bigger and brighter dreams. At the same time, Saturn's forward movement might bring a chance for matters on the home front to improve. Taking the right kind of action now can produce positive results.




Virgo August 23 – September 22


You're moving into a phase when taking the time to recharge and chill might be very good for you. For the next twelve months your luck can improve when you pay attention to your dreams and focus on listening within for that subtle guidance. Doing so could save you time and money in the long term. Plus, any barriers to communication may gradually ease as Saturn changes direction. If you've had a hard time getting through to someone or getting returns on your advertising, you may soon get better results.




Libra September 23 – October 22


Your social life explodes into action this week, bringing opportunities for plenty of mingling, dating, and networking. You may find that you get your best breaks when you're out and about and enjoying life. However, career matters continue to be important, and as Venus glides into Cancer a relationship with a boss or superior might begin to improve. You have a natural intuitive ability when it comes to career and success and this will be enhanced, so make the best use of it.




Scorpio October 23 – November 21


You'll be the star of the show for the next twelve months as Jupiter jogs into your career sector. This isn't the time to hide your light but to let it burn more brightly. Showcase your skills and abilities to the world and you can't go far wrong. Along with this, Saturn turns direct in your sign, which suggests that the brakes are off and progress is now possible. If you've felt like you were treading water, you'll soon find yourself swimming in the direction of your dreams.




Sagittarius November 22 – December 21


Good news this week as Jupiter, your personal planet, zips into Leo and your sector of travel and adventure. The next twelve months can be a time of exciting opportunities, study, and experiences that you'll relish. At the same time, the cosmos hints that finances still need careful handling. Shrewd decisions and excellent budgeting can lead to cost-saving measures and a chance to accumulate more cash. On another note, personal development increases in importance with Saturn's direct motion encouraging inner transformation.




Capricorn December 22 – January 19


Your zone of shared resources gets a long-term visit from Jupiter this week, which is great news for your business and finances. This lively energy is excellent for promoting your goods and services, finding the perfect business partner, and earning big bucks. There's also another shift this week as Saturn turns direct in your social sector. As it is also your personal planet, you may notice improvements in other aspects of your life as it speeds up the pace of change on your path to success.




Aquarius January 20 – February 18


This may be your year for love and romance as Jupiter moves into your partnership sector for a long stay. There's every chance that a relationship could become more committed, with a desire to get engaged or even tie the knot. Along with this, someone you meet may have soul-mate potential. Yet there are other changes, too, as your career sector gets a boost. Saturn turns direct in Scorpio, encouraging progress at last. If you've been working hard and getting nowhere, this may be about to change.




Pisces February 19 – March 20


The move of Venus into Cancer spotlights romance and sensitive feelings. It remains in this sector for a little while to encourage heart-to-heart conversations and indulgent date nights. There's also more news as Jupiter zips into your zone of work and wellness. Your energy may soar, making it easier to adopt a new diet or exercise regimen and lose any excess pounds. On another note, a desire for something different might encourage you out of your comfort zone. Travel may be in the cards!


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 10, 2014


Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19


Although you may be on the ball regarding business, commerce, and related plans and projects, you're also eager to enjoy some quiet time. A focus on your home and family sector encourages opportunities for reflection, particularly regarding your future path. Yet the Full Moon at the weekend also stirs up energies, bringing certain issues to your attention. You may be thinking about what you really want to do in life - and what might move you deep down - not what you think you should do.




Taurus Apr 20 – May 20


It's a good week to put your energy into work and financial planning, especially if you need to shop for big-ticket items. An intuitive hunch may let you know where that special bargain is hiding out. Plus, this can be a good week for collaboration on a project that could be quite demanding but worth your while. When the Full Moon comes calling, you may want to pack up and travel, or at least consider going on an adventure. Later, an attraction at work may set your heart fluttering.




Gemini May 21 - Jun 20


An invitation or fun social event could set the pace for the rest of the week, encouraging plenty of mixing and mingling. Along with this, you may hear news of a pay raise or contract that could earn you some extra income. Things are looking up in this regard if you're willing to take on extra work. Romantic options look set to sparkle as a special aspect heats up a budding liaison. You may have stars in your eyes by the time the weekend comes around.




Cancer Jun 21 - Jul 22


You may be taking your leisure very seriously as a positive connection encourages you to explore a new hobby or pastime or dive into a luscious romance. In this regard, the Full Moon heightens feelings, enticing you to go with the flow and say it like it is. You may feel vulnerable doing so, but your connection with the special person could deepen as a result. Plus, as Mercury shimmies into your sign, you'll find it easier to sync with your gut instincts and turn them into action.




Leo Jul 23 - Aug 22


Sparkling social options show up, encouraging you to go on an adventure. Moving out of your comfort zone could be a bonus, especially as an instant attraction could be in the cards. But with a focus on your spiritual sector, a part of you needs time to reflect and recharge. No matter what you're doing, give yourself a chance to meditate and generally chill. You'll find that when you do this your best and most lucrative ideas may come to you, as well as a solution to any ongoing problems.




Virgo Aug 23 - Sep 22


Career matters show a positive face, especially when you're willing to explore new ideas with a futuristic twist. At the same time, moving in circles with folks who share your interests and ambitions could also help you get ahead. One connection may be particularly useful this week. As Mercury glides into Cancer, networking and other social events can also be an aid to moving ahead and finding success. Finally, the Full Moon on Saturday could be the catalyst to help a romance take off.




Libra Sep 23 - Oct 22


As Mars continues in your sign it's time to assert yourself and push your own interests forward. However, the call of adventure and the thrill of romance might also tempt you away from your plans and goals. Make time for each this week and you can win on both counts. Later, the Full Moon brings feelings to a head on the domestic front. However, the chance to clear the air may help resolve key issues and leave peace in its wake.




Scorpio Oct 23 - Nov 21


This is a good time to explore learning options or think about increasing your skill set, especially as doing so could improve your chances for a better job and income. Plus, you may want to take travel plans to a new stage by committing to purchasing tickets and booking rooms. Regarding a relationship, your sex life sizzles, and for now things seem upbeat in this department. Take it easy around the Full Moon on Saturday, as hasty words could upset a friendship.




Sagittarius Nov 22 - Dec 21


Romantic options look good as a promising transit brings a chance for an unexpected meeting. Though in its early stages, an attraction could quickly develop as a result. However, thoughts turn to financial management as the focus shifts to your zone of shared resources. A chance to get back on solid footing regarding loans or debts shouldn't be ignored. At the very least, this is a time when planning for the future can not only help ease anxiety but also give you a sound structure for present plans.




Capricorn Dec 22 - Jan 19


You seem to be forging ahead in your career, with chances to make special connections and encourage profitable partnerships. Networking and other social opportunities are encouraged, as your connections may be a key to a better career and income. Partnerships also flourish, and over this week the Full Moon in your sign may send your feelings into overdrive. If you've been backward about coming forward, you may let it all out into the open over the weekend. Perhaps this is all to the good!




Aquarius Jan 20 - Feb 18


Long-term relationships can lighten up, especially if you're willing to allow private feelings out into the open. However, someone may not be upfront about issues they're having, which might require some dedicated conversation. Along with this, romance is sweet and playful as someone seems to really care. The weekend may be an opportunity for a very special date night.




Pisces Feb 19 - Mar 20


A focus on a more sensitive part of your chart suggests that secrets come to light and intimacy tinged with romance can deepen. There's also fun to be had on the home front, with opportunities for entertaining with family or friends. Romantic options continue to shine. With the Full Moon in your social sector, it could be party time or at least a chance for a great occasion or celebration. Mercury's move into Cancer spotlights creative opportunities and enjoying cultural entertainment.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 10, 2014


LAWT News Service



The 20th annual ESSENCE Festival attracted about 550,000 attendees from around the world to New Orleans this Fourth of July weekend, earning the distinction of being the largest gathering in the event’s history.


Touted as one of the country’s biggest live events, the ESSENCE Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary July 3-6 with 20 stages of programming. The annual 4-day event features entertainment, empowerment, and cultural experiences during the day and the world’s best performers each night.  More than 80 performing artists — including some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry such as Prince, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie — performed at the event's nighttime concerts and over 150 speakers — including Robin Roberts, Alicia Keys, Steve Harvey and Rev. Al Sharpton — participated as part of the Festival's daytime experience.


“Through a unique combination of entertainment and empowerment programming, the ESSENCE Festival has become the place where we come together to revel in culture and connect to our community,” said ESSENCE communications president Michelle Ebanks. “In recognition of our 20 year milestone, we are tremendously proud to have offered more curated content than ever before — live in New Orleans for our more than 550,000 festival-goers and available digitally on multiple screens for our ESSENCE community of 11.5 million.”


The Festival grabbed headlines with its 2nd annual Mayors’ Panel, featuring Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Aja Brown of Compton, Kasim Reed of Atlanta and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, which was presented during the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience.  In addition, during the ESSENCE Festival’s 2nd annual Family Day in Woldenberg Park, the brand announced a yearlong partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, to promote early vocabulary development among African-American children.


“It’s incredible to witness the overwhelming response from hundreds of thousands as they engage with our programming in-person, online and via social,” said ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief, Vanessa K. Bush. “Over the next 20 years, we will continue our tradition of bringing the ESSENCE brand to life at the Festival — and providing our audience critical information, inspiration and practical solutions for the day-to-day challenges of their lives."


This year, the ESSENCE Festival proved to be the most expansive to date. Fans who were not able to travel to New Orleans for the festivities were still able to take part via livestreams from the ESSENCE Empowerment Experi­ence and select live performances from the Superdome. The ESSENCE Festival streamed more than a dozen hours of content, garnered nearly 60,000 tweets using the hashtag #ESSENCEFest, and generated well over 20,000 downloads of the Festival’s customized App. For a 2nd year in a row, leading cable news network MSNBC hosted live coverage from the convention center floor.


The ESSENCE community em­braced innovative new ESSENCE Festival programs, including Empower U, a new series of free workshops covering every aspect of life from Love & Relationships to Healthy Living to personal finance; and the first-ever #YesWeCode Hack-A-Thon in partnership with Prince and the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund's Van Jones building new technologies for local businesses in New Orleans. The Festival also featured Career Connections workshops which were held in partnership with the National Urban League. Plus, the return of the Love, Loss, & Life: Mother’s Prayer Vigil in partnership with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA for Life drew crowds as a lead-in to the hugely popular All-Star Gospel Tribute to Yolanda Adams, hosted by Donnie McClurkin. In addition, the ESSENCE Marketplace expanded its footprint, hosting local and international artisans and cuisine.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 10, 2014

By Kam Williams

Contributing Writer


Nick Cannon is a versatile entertainer known as an actor, comedian, rapper, radio DJ, TV host and as the husband of pop dive Mariah Carey. With School Dance, Nick steps behind the camera to add filmmaker to his extensive resume.


His jaw-dropping directorial debut is a raunchy romantic comedy that might be best thought of as Romeo and Juliet gone completely gangsta’. Set at an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, the irreverent romp revolves around diminutive Jason Jackson (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a modestly-endowed virgin with a crush on a cute and curvy classmate.


Trouble is Anastacia (Kristina DeBarge) has never even noticed the nondescript nerd. A bigger complication is that he’s black, she’s Chicano, and their respective ethnic groups don’t mix, let alone get along. Nevertheless, Jason accepts a dare from the dudes in his posse to get into her proverbial panties by the end of the semester.


To that end, he hatches an elaborate plan to impress the girl of his dreams by winning their high school’s annual talent show which features a grand prize of $2,000. But of as much import as the outcome of that contest is the raucous road the flick en route to that fait accompli.


Director Cannon apparently had no trouble casting his first picture, since the screen is filled with top comedians at every turn, from the man of the year Kevin Hart to the resurrected Katt Williams to “Yo’ Momma’s” Wilmer Valderrama to the irrepressible Luenell to the incomparable Mike Epps to George Lopez and Patrick Warburton. All of the above found the elbow room to do their thing, although the production might have benefited from editing out some of their most offensive remarks.


For example, the blasphemous rap, “F*ck the President, Barack f*cking Obama. F*ck that n*gger” was a bit much for this critic to stomach, even if the euphoria of historic Election Night 2008 is just a distant memory. Equally off-putting was this line uttered by Lopez as Anastacia’s overprotective father. “I don’t want some little black baby with a big penis running around this house touching all my shit.”


Still, I suspect that such shocking fare will find a ready audience in a Hip-Hop Generation weaned on a profusion of profanity and fondness  for  the N-word. A 21st Century update of the beloved Shakespeare classic about a pair of star-crossed lovers from the opposite side of the tracks.


Good (2 stars)


Rated R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, underage drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity


Running time: 85 minutes


Distributor: Lionsgate Films


To see a trailer for School Dance, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qKXSL2N0RQ

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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