Author Archives: MsThorns

MATINAE Pens – BIC Gel-ocity

A fave early on in the pandemic, I ran them so hard, the few I had were spent quickly. I had to re-up on the BIC Gel-ocity.

The BIC Gel-ocity is a .7 mm (fine-ish) medium point gel pen, which translates into lines that are clean and crisp. The colors are brilliant and are easily the richest of any pen reviewed here thus far.

The barrel is almost pliable, a thick rubber, that renders a really nice non-slip grip anywhere on the pen.

The thrust mechanism, i.e. “the clicker” clicks. When the pen is in its detracted position there is no sliding up and down of the casing over the clicker.

The Bic Gel-ocity, checks all the boxes and is great for any kind of writing, whether it is note taking for meetings, or journaling. This one is a fave, highly recommended! ✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾✍🏾

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live: MOONCHILD

April 9, 2022, Buckhead Theater, Atlanta GA

The opening act Austin Antoine, appropriately describes himself as a performance artist. Antoine sang, rapped including a freestyle, and performed the famous Kid n Play House Party dance sequence with his cousin who came out for a few numbers, all while providing his own musical accompaniment (by laptop). The performance was fun, Antoine was engaging, and the audience, self-included, seem to have enjoyed the performance. Antoine’s music is available on all streaming platforms.

I missed the second act due to an unfortunate hot flash incidentπŸ”₯. From what I could gather, a presentation and video from/about a local charity supported by the headliners was shown. Having properly cooled off I resumed my seat and soon raucous applause and cheers began for the headliners, Moonchild.

I first heard the group on Twitch some time in 2020, so the group is new to me. Nevertheless what I heard and subsequently added to my collection was enough to make me want to see them live. Moonchild is comprised of Amber Navran, Andris Mattson and Max Bryk. They were also joined by Efa Etoroma, Jr. on drums for the Atlanta date.

The band is tight. The three principles are all multi-instrumentalists which I would say lean toward soul and jazz. The set list included:

  • Too Much to Ask
  • The Other Side
  • Cure
  • The List
  • Run Away
  • Tell Him
  • Love I Need

and more. Love I Need was a funky banger. The album version features Rapsody, the live performance briefly transitioned into Anita Baker’s Caught up in the Rapture which was a joyful sing-a-long before returning to the funk.

The audience sang along throughout the band’s performance and whenever Navran stretched out of her normal vocal style just the tiniest bit, the audience went bananas and started shouting SANG AMBER! Navran’s vocals have been written about plenty, all I could add is that I would love to see her stretch a bit beyond her signature sound beyond the teasers she displayed in the live performance.

Seeing Moonchild was an enjoyable experience. Anyone who likes a soulful, jazzy type sound is encouraged to attend this show when it comes to your city, if it is not already sold out.

For more information on the charitable organizations that Moonchild partners with, please see their website.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live: Tank and the Bangas

The show was on 3/27/2022. I have been sitting on this for two weeks because a conclusion just could not be reached until now.

First I want to thank the parking gods and the cleaning staff of Buckhead Theater in Atlanta. The parking was easy and the theater Pristine. I had a seat in the balcony because my days of standing through a show appear to be over.

The opening act was Cory Henry and his band The Funk Apostles. If funk is in it, I’m here for it and Henry did not disappoint. He is a high energy keyboard master, vocalist, performer, minister of music. At times I heard Sly, Herbie and our beloved Prince. They seem to be his influences but his sound is his own, maybe a funk-jazz-gospel-rock??? I heard it all in his playing. The Funk Apostles band, instrumental and vocals were tight. Highlights were:

β–» Days – a bouncy, danceable groove, a bop
β–» Trade it All – this GOES, Henry’s solo was outstanding on this
β–» GawtDamn – he killed this, soulful, shout-worthy LAWD
β–» Alone – Henry described as the introverts anthem, was a jam with clearly inspired by early Prince.

I really enjoyed the performance and Henry and his band seemed to enjoy it as much as the audience. His music is streaming on all platforms, you need to see him live though, for real.

and now…

Tank is the technicolor dreamcoat. She is multi-faceted, vocalist, spoken word artist, playful all of the things, the Group plays all genres and do it well. However, I did not stay until the end because…

I am old.

As an old, Tank and the Bangas were a lot to take in, the colors , the baby-voiced, squealing thing Tank does was too much for me. The youngins LOVED it! Screaming, dancing, singing along, giving all the audience participation. My thoughts of the show, were the same as those when listening to the recorded music. This chile is TALENTED but wooooo it was too much for me.

To be clear, I was out of place, not the band, not the crowd. I liken the experience to the way my parents talked about hip-hop in the beginning. They thought it was loud, noisy, too-much going on. Later, they came around, my dad in fact is now a Snoop Fan.

Would I recommend this show? Absolutely, I enjoyed the reaction of the crowd, I enjoyed the vocals and the spoken word and the band, the baby-voiced squealing was a bit much for me. Oh, and the chicken wings the young ladies were eating next to me smelled and gave me a headache.

Would I go to see them again? Absolutely. A funny thing happened for me to arrive at this conclusion, the NCAA National Championship. I heard her before I saw her, singing the national anthem in all her glory and in New Orleans tradition. It was dope.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music – Colman Brothers (self-titled)

I was introduced to Bandcamp fortunately for my ears and unfortunately for my pocket by a fellow music lover I met through DJ Spinna’s Twitch stream. Upon landing at Bandcamp I selected genres of interest and received in my recommendations The Colman Brothers self-titled debut album released in 2011.

Hailing from the UK, brothers Mat on trombone and Andrew trumpet/flugelhorn create a rhythmic, horn-infused danceable latin-jazz release. The album opens with Mr. D. G., a swinging tune that gives visions of the dance floor and is followed by Another Brother which begins at a furious pace that does not let up. Towards the middle of the album the Brothers slow things down with a surprising remix of a song called She Who Dares, sounding very hip-hop, which reminded me of KRS One’s MCs Act Like They Don’t Know. Also featured on the album is Mat and Andrew’s sister, Sara Colman as the vocalist on on Some Other Wonder. Her performance is smooth and smoky and gives the visual of Ms. Colman blessing the mic of a jazz club.

The Colman Brothers came out blazing on their debut release. Aside from a remix album of their own and appearances on compilations from their label, I was unable to locate any additional recorded work from the Brothers, which is a shame. This album was too good for our ears not be graced with additional music. Hopefully soon, we will hear more from them. πŸ’ΏπŸ’ΏπŸ’ΏπŸ’ΏπŸ’Ώ

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE Music Live –Β  Abstractions: Zo!, Tall Black Guy & Deborah Bond

I think what I heard Wednesday night was joy. That joy leapt off the stage and into all of us in attendance at the Abstractions tour stop at City Winery Atlanta, February 9, 2022.

I had a seat in front of the stage and saw up close the interplay between these talented musicians, Zo!, Deborah Bond and Tall Black Guy, accompanied by some really tight musicians from Atlanta on bass and drums.

Zo! was musical director,Β  pianist and emcee and played each role with ease and a virtuosity. Tall Black Guy put in work! I don’t know what all those things were called that he was playing but, he brought in music, effects, sly commentary and kept the music moving. Last but not least was Ms. Deborah Bond. She is a petite fleur with a big voice who can sang sang! She sang songs that Phonte, Carmen, Joi, Darien etc. etc., were featured on in Zo!’s discography as well as selections from TBG’s Remixes and Tings Vol. 1. and others, beautifully. She is a fire dancer as well!

All selections were outstanding and I particularly enjoyed Hold My Hand, Connected, I Know You, I Live You For Sure, and a Go-Go style Prototype by Outkast. This show is the best I’ve seen in the pandemic era, and one of the most enjoyable, fun shows I have been to in years. The key word again is joy. These musicians bring a joyful noise and clearly enjoy playing together.

If Abstractions comes to your city, DO NOT MISS IT!

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – Fine Writing with the Pilot Precise V5 RT

The juicy .7 mm medium in assorted colors is my go-to pen for journal writing, work and general note scribbling. In an effort to stretch out (again) I went for not only a rollerball, but a fine rollerball at that, the Pilot Precise V5 RT.

The grip is rubber and has a nice firm feel in the hand.

The clicker is the clickiest so there is no question as to whether the pen is depressed or not. The casing over the top of the clicker does slide, but that is not a deal-breaker.

The tip is really a thing of beauty, so much so that as a heavy-handed writer I was scared that I might bend it. No need to fret, the tip is solid and did not falter under pressure.

This fine tip makes a fine, clean line with no ink blobs and rich color. There was one skip noted in the sample below, however skips were never an issue when the pen was used as a daily writing instrument.

Overall the Pilot Precise V5 is highly recommended, is excellent for daily writing, and is well-suited for those who prefer a finer, cleaner line ✍🏾 ✍🏾 ✍🏾 ✍🏾.

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MATINAE MUSIC – Meshell Ndegeocello, Variety Playhouse, Atlanta

A SLOW BURN

I purchased tickets January 2020, then the pandemic hit and shut down the world. Atlanta for the most part was not shut down, however live performances were cancelled or postponed, this show fell within the latter. Originally scheduled for March 2020, the performance was postponed twice when finally on September 2, 2021, I was able to use those tickets, along with proof of vaccination (or negative covid test) and with mask in place, I was able to experience in person, Meshell Ndegeocello.

Though described as a rapper and bassist which are at best limiting descriptors, I entered the show knowing I would experience much more than that given the magnitude of her talent. I did, but not in the way I expected. Her performance was subdued, with her band providing the instrumentation on drums, bass, guitar and keyboards. Her guitarist in particular was outstanding. Ndegeoceollo picked up the bass, twice, played keyboards a bit, but mostly gave the audience a slow burn of songs through the rhythm and tone of her voice whether it was singing or speaking.

She performed several songs from “Ventriloquism”, a release of covers performed in only the way that she could. She performed Night and Day (Al B Sure!), Waterfalls (TLC), Tender Love (Force MDs), and the standout of the songs performed from the album, I Wonder if I Take You Home (Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam), which was in short a groove. Her rendition of Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Nina Simone, The Animals) was also outstanding. But the *close your eyes and feel it* song of the night was Outside Your Door from her first album “Plantation Lullabies”. Her vocals, the band, the musicianship was faint-worthy and there were plenty of Woos! from the audience to affirm the sentiment.

When leaving the performance I felt disappointed that I did not get to experience her virtuosity on bass, but checked myself for a few reasons. First, we are in a pandemic still, regardless of what is displayed in the media, things are not “back to normal”. I should and will expect live musical performances to feel different as I believe we are all in a different space now. Secondly, Ndegeocello celebrated her 53rd birthday on August 29th, for which she displayed gratitude and lastly, and perhaps most importantly, she announced the recent transition of her mother. All of these factors I believe had an impact on this performance, which nevertheless was still exceptional.

Overall I loved the performance. The understated nature of it was much appreciated during this time of high emotion and divisiveness. Atlanta was just her third stop on this tour and as the tour continues, her performances may be completely different from what we experienced here. Whether subdued or in full out rock, jazz, funk and all the genres she’s fluent in mode, Meshell Ndegeocello in any form is highly recommended.

One more thing on the description of Ndegeocello as bassist and rapper. She is an artist, a complete musician who sings, speaks, exhorts, announces, whispers and demands but rap, she does not.

Thanks SS for joining me.

Fuzzy photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – Sharpie S-Gel, oh so smooth

Who hasn’t used a Sharpie? The pointed felt tip permanent marker has graced many a paper, posterboard and football (think T.O.). I have used the felt tips and even the Sharpie highlighters but never a gel pen from the brand, not until Amazon suggested it of course.

The S-Gel is built like a tank and is almost as impenetrable as one due to the little rubber piece on the tip when the pens are packaged.


Those bad boys were hard to remove and I basically had to write them off because prying off was so difficult. Look at the second pen from the right.

Once past the tip shenanigans the Sharpie S Gel performed well with the clickiest of clickers, and a juicy smooth line from the .7 mm medium point.

Since writing the sample on the left, many a journal page has been filled by the Sharpie S-Gel. They write smooth like butter every time.

So, if you are in the market for a new gel pen with a juicy line, the S-Gel should be a go-to choice. πŸ–ŠπŸ–ŠπŸ–ŠπŸ–Š

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – Come thru Pentel ***UPDATE***

UPDATE!!!!!

These pens ended up in the grab and go pen cup for my beloved to use. OMG the blobbiness of it all! I had to cut them loose. If you have these pens make sure you’re not writing on a public facing document or are anywhere near something that you can’t clean. These are now rated πŸ–Š1/2 for emergency writing only.

I just refuse to let this ballpoint pen situation rest. I mean manufacturers are making them for a reason. I just haven’t seen compelling evidence for their sustainability in my stash until now, maybe. So let’s talk about the Pentel RSVP RT.

A medium ballpoint at 1.0 mm, the RSVP RT is another pen that the manufacturer claims gives a smooth, no skip experience.

The Pentel RSVP RT is a well constructed, almost beefy pen, with an indented rubber grip that feels great in the hand. The clicker (push button) is the clickiest and the in/out position is obvious.

The barrel is a clear thick plastic with the barrel colors reminiscent of Jell-O.

The question of course is, does the Pentel RSVP RT ballpoint live up to what the packaging says. The answer is for the most part, yes.

The Pentel RSVP RT is a smooth writing experience. It is not skip free, however the ballpoint rolls nicely on the page and the ink blobs are minimal. The feel is nice and the colors are truly representative of the barrel color. This pen is a keeper, that knocks one of its lesser competitors right out of my pen holder. πŸ–ŠπŸ–ŠπŸ–ŠπŸ–Š

If you use the Pentel RSVP RT, let me know your experience in the comments.

Photos: MsThorns

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MATINAE PENS – Pilot B2P is Bottled Up

I was looking for new pens but not exactly clear on what I wanted. Amazon, of course will do what it does to get a sista’s money and suggested this pen created from recycled bottles, the Pilot B2P retractable gel pen.

I was no doubt skeptical but for naught, as the pen was definitely serviceable.

The barrel, favoring a bottle of water, is translucent, brightly colored and fairly represents the ink color. The grip is nice, no slips.

The clicker is tight, no play in it so it should be able to withstand being pushed down for the life of the pen.

For a .7 mm medium point the B2P line is closer to fine than medium. So far, only the blue has given the dreaded ink blob. However, the gel ink renders brilliant color.

Overall the Pilot B2P is a great idea with fairly good execution, certainly good enough to grace the pages of my journals. The B2P is a solid πŸ–ŠπŸ–ŠπŸ–Š1/2.

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