Bilal and Jill Scott in Concert

Two rare neo soul music gifts -- Jill Scott and Bilal -- will both hit the concert stage tomorrow at Chicago's Northerly Island outdoor pavilion. This means that Friday, August 8, 2008 could make Chicago lakeside history. This day may go down as one on which die-hard neo soul lovers witnessed Jill Scott and Bilal Sayeed Oliver rock Lake Michigan so intensely, we'll experience a soul music tsunami!

Many neo soul lovers have seen Jill Scott live before and know the unabashed power of her beautiful personality and vocal ability. Jill, of course, also did a "Jennifer Hudson," doing a stellar job with an acting role in Tyler Perry's hit film Why Did I Get Married? (An award Jill might have deserved over J.H. in a more fair, less Holly-hyped world.)

But if you've never experienced Bilal in concert, get ready and get SET. The man behind the 2001 hit "Soul Sista," Bilal in concert is spectacular. His one and only officially released CD -- 1st Born Second -- remains one of my all-time favorites. He offers today what made so many love fresh moody funk-rockers such as Sly Stone, Prince, and perhaps even Gil Scott Heron.

Classically trained with the coolest falsetto voice, avant garde Bilal has a cult following that won't give up on him - despite his record label challenges with Interscope. In concert, he is known to sandwich an aria between cult album cuts he may have recorded with the likes of Jay-Z, Common, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, or Dr. Dre.

Stellar talents they both are, Jill Scott and Bilal. Both are natives of my beloved former city of Philadelphia. Much like their hip-hop brethern The Roots, these two Philadelphia artists are icons in the neo-soul movement. Almost every one of these revered artists graduated the acclaimed Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts.

Enjoy some vintage video footage of the dynamic duo who're touring together and turning out places left and right:

If you're interested in concert tickets, the rest of the Bilal & Jill Scott tour schedule includes:

Aug 7 2008
starlight Theatre
Kansas City, Missouri

Aug 8 2008
Charter One
Chicago, Illinois

Aug 15 2008
Highline Ballroom
New York, New York

Aug 26 2008
Yoshis San Francisco
San Francisco

Aug 27 2008
Yoshis San Francisco
San Francisco

Aug 28 2008
Yoshis San Francisco
San Francisco, California

Be there -- somewhere -- or be square. (Philly repreSENT!)

Bilal's MySpace

Bilal Wiki

Who Is Jill Scott?

Jill's MySpace

Live In Paris +
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Obama In Afghanistan - Cultural Exchange

With presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama making a stop in Afghanistan the first in his whirlwind world tour, now seems a good time for us to a take closer look, too.

Since Osama bin Laden, the man who allegedly knocked down America's beloved Twin Towers (World Trade Center), is believed by many to still be holed up in Afghanistan's treacherously mountainous border with Pakistan, today we join Senator Obama in taking a closer look at this complex society.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, a recent "brazen and deadly attack on a US-Afghan outpost in an area near the Pakistani border is raising new concerns that foreign fighters bent on fighting the West are retraining their sights from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Still, it's not all about al Quaeda in Afghanistan [wiki]. It's nation that remains trapped between the ideology and opportunities of both east and west.

1. National Geographic - Afghan Heroin

2. Promoting Perfume, Not Poppies, in Afghanistan

3. Afghan Tae Kwon Do Champ Aims for Olympic Glory

For reports of Obama's trip to Afghanistan, follow these links:

PBS Frontline reported in 2006 on The Return of the Taliban

Ex CIA bin laden hunter on why U.S. cannot find bin Laden on Obama's Afghanistan tour
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"Obama Girl" Times Two - Obama Children Video

I love this FROBAMA button supporting my Hyde Park Chicago neighbor, Senator Barack Obama

If you're new to the South Side Star, you may not know how proud I am that Senator Barack Obama and family live in my neighborhood, the historic Hyde Park community in Chicago.

So I was delighted to catch this enchanting TV interview yesterday starring "my neighbor's" absolutely adorable daughters...

Daddy had an afro
, indeed! lol I didn't even think children the generation of 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha knew what the heck an afro was!

Senator Barack Obama wore an afro as a very young man, but somehow had a 'Brady Bunch' aura

frobama button at CafePress

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Witch Doctors Make Suburban House Calls

You just never know what's going on in your neighbor's home. For instance, consider the situation surrounding Edward Bachner IV of Lake of the Hills, Illinois.

A mild-mannered financial planner and co-owner of a small technology company in a Chicago suburb, Bachner was swooped down on yesterday morning by the FBI. They'd been alerted that Bachner recently purchased a mega amount of tetrodotoxin, the deadly poison derived from pufferfish.

Bachner is alleged to have had enough tetrodotoxin in his home to kill 100 people.

A substance inside pufferfish is one of the most powerful neurotoxins known to man.
This is another one of those news stories that specially grabs my imagination. I'm intrigued by this because I once did some lightweight research on tetrodotoxin, or TTX. My exploration into tetrodoxin revolved around a suspense novel I was writing, which had elements of Haitian vodou or voodoo in it.

Many believe that tetrodotoxin is among the secret ingredients that's used to turn people into zombies. Although people who make zombies would never admit it... We're to believe it's their mystical will and access to the Gods alone that cause sudden paralysis and then often death.

It was Harvard doctoral candidate Wade Davis who stumbled upon the secret use of TTX by sorcerers in Haiti. Wade Davis then wrote a famously trippy book-turned-movie about it, both titled The Serpent and the Rainbow.

TTX does its damage by blocking the sodium channels in the muscle and nerve cells. (Yes, it's true: The body must have some sodium or it will perish, which I recently learned through an aunt's illness.) This is probably why voodoo practitioners believe that administering salt will cure a zombie.

So to all those who were within reach of Edward Bachner, this might be a good time to stock up on top-of-the-line salt. Not that cheap, brand X salt, either. Buy the most expensive salt you can find. Morton's or die.

And if you come anywhere close to a zombie this summer, I hope it's only one like this:

Zombie cocktail

Have a zombie, courtesy South Side Star 1 oz. Apricot Brandy
1 oz. light or puerto-rican rum
1 oz. dark or jamaican rum
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. lime juice
dashes of grenadine and orange juice
1 oz. dark Rum

In a cocktail shaker, mix light & dark rums and brandy. Add lemon and lime juice and dashes grenadine. Shake well and strain into a higball glass filled with ice. Fill glass with orange juice leaving room to float 1 oz of 151. Garnish with cherry, orange slice, pinapple wedge.
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