Denver's biggest smallest band
Wheelchair Sports Camp, the Denver based pseudo hip-hop band is fronted by the disabled, wheelchair bound MC/producer Kalyn. The band is a combination of live and electronic instruments with a more live, jazzy, funky, combination to the traditional hip-hop group. Their unconventional setup of live instruments and Kalyn's produced beats presents a polished sound with old-school lyrics that maintain a sarcastic yet independent and heavy consciousness. Kalyn is 26 years old, weighs 53 pounds and measures three feet, six inches tall. She’s light enough to carry, compact enough to hide under a winter coat and is sometimes mistaken for a child. But Kalyn, who has the brittle-bone disability osteogenesis imperfecta, is hardly innocent, precious, or inconspicuous. The band has been featured on the cover of the Village Voice as well as in SPIN Magazine, Huffington Post and High Times Magazine.
The band unknowingly started in the summer of 1997 when Kalyn moved back from Burbank, CA to her Denver hometown and was invited to attend and corrupt the 14th annual week-long Wheelchair Sports Camp. The band tours the States from their home in Denver, Colorado. The group has supported and/or toured with; the Flobots, Salt-n-Pepa, Sage Francis, Rhazel, Raekwon, Macklemore, Zion I, , Binary Star, Blackalicious, Souls Of Mischief and many more. WSC begin a 30 day US national tour on May 15 and will make their UK debut at Bestival on the 7th of September, 2013.
Wheelchair Sports Camp persists to stay passionate about many causes, playing shows to raise money and awareness to support Occupy Wall Street (most especially Occupy Denver), prevent domestic violence, support LGBT youth and gay rights, support Haiti relief efforts, advocate an end to war, aid the homeless, promote global equality, and any other fight they can foster. Taking a nod from one of their favorite artists Radiohead, Wheelchair Sports Camp always has free or pay what you can CDs available at shows for fans. “If you can’t afford music or food, steal it!” has been their motto since inception. Their goal is to spread their music like wildfire, and they encourage their fans to share and borrow creativity with hopes to conserve a free culture. To them, it’s the only way to keep their music headed in the right direction without allowing money and greed to interfere with the creative process.
Kalyn Heffernan - MC/Producer
Joshua Trinidad - Trumpet, EFX
Gregg Ziemba - Live Drums
Singles Include: Where We All Live, Justicen't Right (remix) I Smell Funk, 15 Steps, Party & Bullshit,
Albums: Where We All Live (EP), Lo-Fi Mixed Tapes, Mainstream Cannot Spearhead Change, The Best Of The All Time Unreleased Greatest Hits Vol. 303 1/2
Here Is Wheelchair Sports Camp's New Life-Affirming Video, "Where We All Live"
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We'd like to direct your attention to the new video released by CMJ 2011 underdogs Wheelchair Sports...We'd like to direct your attention to the new video released by CMJ 2011 underdogs Wheelchair Sports Camp, the little Denver band who came to New York this past fall and demonstrated so much fortitude of character they ended up on our front cover. Since we last heard from the psuedo-hop trio, they've not only opened for old-school rap-heroes Salt N' Pepa, thereby playing to their biggest crowd of more than 1000 people, but the Mile High kids also put together a soon-to-be-released EP Where We All Live, and recently posted a video for the EP's title single.
Shot in a dinosaur sculpture park/playground in Fort Collins, Colorado, the hometown of WSC siblings Abi and Isaac Miller, the clip is a sunny montage of frolicking kids, youthful longing, and one shell-shocked snowball ambush. Featuring the joyously buoyant vocals of sax-player Abi, "Where We All Live" is a carefree rejection of adulthood tedium that's like the Toys R' Us theme covered in the style of Arrested Development's "Everyday People." There's also Kalyn Heffernan riding around in a motorized kids' truck, tying her Sesame Street sneakers, and rapping about the contradictions of her size/age disability dichotomy: "I'll be that Grandma still ordering kids' meals/who never learned to ride a bike and is still rollin a Big Wheel." RIYL: joy, nice people, life.
Wheelchair Sports Camp's Crip Life
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If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution ...If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now
Wheelchair-Assisted MC: 3 Feet High & Rising
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Most people who hear about Wheelchair Sports Camp assume the band's name is a crude joke. "Sports ca...Most people who hear about Wheelchair Sports Camp assume the band's name is a crude joke. "Sports camp and wheelchairs, you know?" says 24-year-old MC Kalyn "T-Minus Katlyn" Heffernan. Diagnosed with the bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta at six months, the 3'6", 53-pound frontwoman for this jazz-funk hip-hop foursome does, in fact, roll instead of walk, and she did go to sports camp -- where she engaged in some less than wholesome activities. "I was always in the group for the more handicapped people," she remembers. "So I'd bring five of my able-bodied friends, and we'd leave and go smoke pot."
Obsessed with hip-hop since she was six, Heffernan, who has the pun crip life tattooed across her stomach, formed Wheelchair Sports Camp in 2007 with help from saxophonist Abi McGaha Miller, Abi's drummer brother Isaac, and DJ B*Money. Last year they self-released an eponymous EP of after-party jams and robo-voiced ?Stephen Hawking tributes. But Lo-Fi Mixed Tapes (released in March) showcases even broader range: Over Radiohead and Peter Frampton samples, Heffernan ?lashes out in her charismatically squeaky voice against discrimination and likens wack MCs to vegetables, one of many indelicate allusions to disability. (She says she hasn't caught any flak for her snarky attitude.)
Wheelchair Sports Camp had hardly toured out of state before this year's South by Southwest Music Festival, where the crew, which included Heffernan's girlfriend, got arrested en route to Denton, Texas, accused of vandalism and charged with marijuana possession. Heffernan, a card-carrying medical-marijuana patient in Colorado, was spared jail along with B*Money, though the others spent a night behind bars. "Usually cops are cool with me. I act nicely, like, 'I'm an innocent crippled girl.' Meanwhile, I have spray paint all over my wheelchair."
Indie-rapper Sage Francis became a fan after meeting Wheelchair at SXSW. "They've got almost everything ?going against them," he says. "Sometimes that's what you need to make great things happen." Indeed, the band plans to go on tour this fall. "I hope," says Francis, "they keep themselves out of trouble."
World is spinning big time for little MC in Colorado
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Kalyn Heffernan is tough — fearless, even. But she's also uncommonly fragile. And her life as a mus...Kalyn Heffernan is tough — fearless, even. But she's also uncommonly fragile.
And her life as a musician is full of such contradictions: She's a hard-hitting rapper who can't take a hit. She's bold with her lyrics but cautious in her movements. She dreams big and sits small.
The 24-year-old University of Colorado Denver grad is one of the most risky and exciting MCs on the city hip-hop scene. When it comes to her rhymes, she talks the talk — even if she doesn't exactly walk the walk.
At 3 feet 6 inches and 53 pounds, Heffernan lives her life in a wheelchair. Her fragility comes in the form of the osteogenesis imperfecta she was born with.
No one has to dance around the topic. She even calls her
hip-hop group Wheelchair Sports Camp.
"I break easily," Heffernan said, nodding silently toward her mismatched body — an outward sign of the 100-plus fractured bones she has suffered over the years. "It's a genetic disorder. My bones lack collagen.
"I've had lots of surgeries. I've been rodded in my femurs and other major bones. I've had some of those since I was 9 months old."
But don't assume Colorado- born Heffernan has been sheltered because of her genetic disorder. Her personal history — which includes time at north Denver's Brown Elementary School and Lakewood High and some growing up on the West Coast — tells a different tale.
Heffernan's lip is pierced, and she loves to show off her "Crip Life" stomach tattoo — an Olde English-font "cripple" tat that mirrors the "Thug Life" ink that stretched across the belly of the late, notorious rapper Tupac Shakur. She has been dating her girlfriend, Jennah Black, for nearly five years, and she's a proud, card- carrying medical-marijuana patient.
"My parents were always good at getting me out," Heffernan said, remembering her childhood years in Southern California on the beaches and boardwalks. "It had to be hard to let
Kalyn Heffernan, who graduated from University of Colorado Denver's audio engineering program 18 months ago, has yet to find a job. Then again, she hasn't really looked. "I'm trying to feel out the music thing," she said. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
your kid go when anything they might do could cause them to break a bone. But they let me go."
Heffernan's family moved back to Denver when she was 10, and that's when she was invited to participate in the annual Rocky Mountain Wheelchair Sports Camp. Not only did it give the affable class clown an opportunity to have fun and find some trouble among like-bodied friends, but in later years, it inspired an easy group moniker.
The band, Wheelchair Sports Camp, got its start in 2008 when Heffernan teamed with an old friend to cut a demo. She had been rhyming, goofing around really, since she was in a talent show at age 12. But it wasn't long before she felt the momentum of creation, the lure of collaboration.
After that partnership hit a creative roadblock, she re- formed the group with sister- brother duo Abi and Isaac McGaha Miller, who play saxophone and drums, respectively. The band's latest addition is respected turntablist DJ B*Money, who provides the beats.
"When I first heard her CD, it sounded different to me," said B*Money, a.k.a. Chris Behm-Meyer. "And with the way hip-hop is nowadays, that's a hard thing to achieve.
"I later fell in love with her music and her style and her charisma and organization — I fell in love with her as a person, and I wanted to work with her."
A winking tenacity
Wheelchair Sports Camp plays a hip-hop that alternates between driving bassline grooves and free-jazz sax bursts. Heffernan gives her bandmates room to play, but when she's on the mike, she brings the rhymes with a smiling, winking tenacity. Her voice is calm throughout her verbal attacks — and it's also oddly high-pitched. Hip-hop fans might recall the vocals of Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest.
Her lyrics alternate between the socially aware and the hilariously poignant. In one track she thinks out loud:
I believe in questions
Put down your weapons
I haven't seen the people unite since the election.
In another song, a parody of mid-'90s one-hit-wonder Skee-Lo, she muses:
I wish I was a little bit taller
I wish I was a baller
I wish I had a girl
— oh, I do —
I should call her.The group's stage show is compelling and well-balanced. Heffernan is front and center with a PowerBook and keyboard setup, from which she triggers samples and beats. Behind her are the drums and the turntables, while the sax pulls up the wings. It's a fun, lively arrangement for hip-hop.
Rhode Island rapper B. Dolan met Heffernan and her crew on a shared bill in Albuquerque last month — and it led to a B. Dolan/Wheelchair Sports Camp minitour.
"My interest is in somebody who is capably performing and presenting hip-hop in a way that has integrity, but is also coming at it from a different angle and presenting a perspective that hasn't been present in hip-hop," said B. Dolan. "In Kalyn's case, she's gay and handicapped, and that's a point of view I haven't seen in hip-hop."
Because of its relative newness as a four-piece band, Wheelchair Sports Camp is still in its early musical stages. The group, which plays its next show April 30 at the Fox Theatre in Boulder (opening for Macklemore and Shad), has a not-so-current EP on the market along with a mix tape — a CD that has Heffernan rhyming over Radiohead, the Beatles, Nirvana and others.
She's clearly evolving and growing as a producer and MC, and her flow is getting tighter with each show.
"With Wheelchair Sports Camp, there's a lot more going on than there is in a normal hip-hop show," said Geoff Brent, the general manager at LoDo rock club Summit Music Hall. "There's a lot more energy, a lot more happening and overall more positive vibes."
Although the band is drawing small crowds locally, it's finding attention outside Colorado. The South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, saw more than 11,000 applicants this year, and Heffer nan's group was among the 2,000 picked to perform. Booker Matt Sonzala was attracted to the band right away.
"I could see that they're trying to make something happen. I could see the hustle," Sonzala said from his Austin office. "They're also really good."
Hard time with hip-hop
Heffernan does hustle — sometimes too much.
She is the woman with severe bone-density issues who hates to drink milk and forgets her calcium pills. In college, she would often get drunk and fall out of her wheelchair. She and her bandmates were jailed a few weeks ago in north Texas on their way to SXSW — for graffiti and possession of marijuana. The last bone she broke? Her face. Her wheelchair fell off a curb — while she was sober — and it didn't end well.
"But breaking my face was the best thing I could have broken," Heffernan said. "If I break my arm or leg, I'm immobile for six to eight weeks."
She struggles with her relationship with her beloved hip- hop, especially because of its often degrading attitude toward the gay community.
"Hip-hop has always been really homophobic, which is really sad because it originally came from a culture that was trying to fight adversity," Heffernan said. "You never hear rappers talking smack about lesbians. But you do hear rappers talk (smack) about being gay and being a faggot. Hip- hop is supposed to be so revolutionary, but now they're trying to hold back a whole group of people."
Heffernan, who graduated from UC Denver's audio engineering program 18 months ago, has yet to find a job. Then again, she hasn't really looked. "I'm trying to feel out the music thing," she said.
And for her, "the music thing" comes with particular challenges and opportunities. She's personable, with a sarcastic sense of humor, so she has developed tight relationships with music-industry types and artists. And she doesn't have a problem being taken seriously.
"If anything, I'm taken more seriously because of my disability," she said.
But accessibility — for her body, not her music — is a constant issue.
"No stage is really accessible," she said. "If I do want to bring my 'electric chair' on stage, I need four or five guys to lift it. But it's easy for me, because I do always have a group of people and my girlfriend with me, and they help me get around. I'm also not afraid to ask for help when I need it."
Heffernan has the hubris for hip-hop. She sees a future for herself and her bandmates — and she could be right. Amid the interviews for this story, she was talking with colleagues about a possible opening slot at Red Rocks this summer. And she also had an unexpected conversation after her SXSW showcase in March.
"A really big label talked with me after the show, and I've been in contact with them twice already this week," she said with a sly smile. "I don't really know if it'll go anywhere, and it probably won't, because it's a major label, and I'm passionate about retaining control and owning my masters.
"But that's still huge to me. I can't even put words to how weird it is that I'd ever consider turning down such a thing as a major-label contract."
Ricardo Baca: 303-954-1394, rbaca@ denverpost.com, @RVRB on Twitter
Read more: World is spinning big time for little MC in Colorado - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/dontmiss/ci_17831802#ixzz1RTA7XXmS
Wheelchair Sports Camp: Kalyn Heffernan on Hip-Hop, Occupy Denver
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Kalyn Heffernan is emcee of one of Denver's hottest rising hip-hop groups, Wheelchair Sports Camp. S...Kalyn Heffernan is emcee of one of Denver's hottest rising hip-hop groups, Wheelchair Sports Camp. She deftly writes politically charged raps as well as fun party jams over cool, jazzy beats filled with piano keys and horn blasts with a flow and wordplay that is all her own.
Heffernan is a female rapper and a lesbian in a genre that has been historically dominated by males. She is bringing a fresh voice to modern hip-hop as she raps frankly about social change, politics and having a disability as part of the band Wheelchair Sports Camp with sax player Abi Miller and drummer Isaac Miller
Heffernan recently chatted with The Huffington Post to talk about her path to arriving at hip-hop, involvement with Occupy Denver and life in Mile High City.
How long have you been in Denver?
I was born here in Denver, but my dad is a union ironworker. So there was more work for him in Los Angeles at the time, and my mom is originally from L.A. so we moved when I was only 6 months old. We lived in Burbank until we came back to Denver when I was about 9 years old. Denver was always home, and the L.A. lifestyle was getting the best of my mom, so we had to change it up.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR SLIDESHOW, STREAMING MUSIC)
What got you into hip-hop?
The only thing I'm good at is hip-hop, but luckily I have a pair of siblings in my band [Abi and Isaac] who know a whole lot more about musicianship across the board. I started performing [when I was] around 7 years old when I did a talent show and played TLC's "Waterfalls." I didn't start writing my own rhymes until I was 12; it was for another talent show at school. From there I messed around until I started making my own beats in high school and then finally got to college with a much better view on things, switched my mainstream gears and started digging in the classics.
What inspired the name Wheelchair Sports Camp?
Well, after moving back from Burbank, I was invited to attend a free, weeklong Rocky Mountain Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp for kids ages 6 to 18. I went for years and would always bring a big group of my able-bodied friends to "volunteer." We were always too cool for school and would just run amok with all the rebels of the camp. Instead of going to get in trouble, I decided I would stop being a camper and just volunteer as soon as I could drive.
I've been volunteering as a peer counselor on the tennis courts since. I don't think I've missed a year. It's a really great camp that's all nonprofit and is celebrating its 29th anniversary in 2012. They bus in kids from all across the city, provide lunch and have medical staff and volunteers galore. There's usually a good few hundred wheelchair kids in attendance and so many of them look forward to it all year starting the day after camp ends.
The name was perfect and we ran, rolled with it.
What got you first turned on to hip-hop?
Well, I was scanning through my Walkman radio stations as a kid and came across Los Angeles hip-hop station Power 106 -- equivalent to KS 1075 in Denver. I asked my dad to turn it up on the car stereo because it was so good, and he immediately said, "Turn that shit off and put your headphones back on!" I've been in love ever since. If it wasn't hip-hop, I wanted nothing to do with it!
Growing up, my mom also listened to En Vogue who I always dug on for their hip-hop flavor. Same goes for my parents taste in the Talking Heads and their experiments with electronic instruments and samples. My first CD ever was Michael Jackson Dangerous, which is super hip-hop heavy! My first real love was for TLC who I was so obsessed with, and Salt-n-Pepa came close after that. I was super young so I got what I could and never had a vast knowledge of hip-hop. I just had the few things I could beg one of my parents to get my hands on and kept them close to my heart.
There was always something about hip-hop that I just couldn't shy away from, I guess it had to be the rhythm and the rebel in me.
How does the songwriting process work for Wheelchair Sports Camp?
First of all we don't really practice. We've played enough shows to serve as practice but don't rehearse. Never have, as of now, but will most likely have to start soon.
I usually make a beat or get a beat, write a verse or two, get an idea, send it to Abi who will come in a lay down sax or vocals if need be. Isaac drums over my already-sampled drums and we only have a few recordings with his live drums on.
Eventually, that will have to change, but for now it's kinda cool to have a different live sound than our recordings. We're working on an EP right this second and for the first time we're working on collaborating ideas and concepts together, which is super exciting. Isaac's an amazing writer, and Abi is in an incredible songwriter so it's really exciting to bring all of our talents together. It never helps that I wait till the very last minute to get shit done, so we're always super pressed for time. But somehow, some way, it works.
And my sound comes from my short stature and super high vocals that's beyond my control. I have a ton of influences who I've always looked up to for their lyrical abilities. So I guess, when I put all my experiences and favorites together, I get me. It's never come overnight for me. I was pretty terrible as a kid but always wanted to be better and still do. It's important for me that I'm competing on the same level as my influences. So I have to come with it since I have really good taste and high standards in hip-hop.
Are you guys sampling jazz or is that your band playing?
I do sample jazz, but the sax is all Abi. She does have an amazing sound and amazing voice. She's probably the most talented musician that I know and can play most instruments in almost any genre out there. She's really incredible. Just recently, too, we recorded a track with Joshua Trinidad, who is an excellent trumpet player. He's sat in with us at shows before and so has Joe Ferrone, the trumpet player from Bop Skizzum. The more horns the better!
Have you faced any adversity, or straight-up bigotry, being a female, disabled and queer artist?
I've been pretty lucky. No question, I see all these things happen constantly around me and have had to deal with [them] in some way. Ignorance is everywhere, but I can honestly say I'm treated with respect for the most part. Because if I'm not, I'm out, and it's how I treat others, so I can demand to be treated equally.
I've never been good at keeping my mouth shut and have always surrounded myself with really supportive people.
I remember my mom making a stink about handicapped entrances in schools and accessibility issues. She'd never allow me to enter a school differently than the rest of kids.
I had to go to a different Denver Public School elementary because of the entrance issue. So she then had to write letters to the city to make sure our walk to school had ramps, which North Denver didn't have most of the time. She always made sure I wasn't treated differently, which was a bigger fight when I was a kid.
How have the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and disabled community at-large responded to your music? Have you played any LGBT events, festivals? If so how did they go?
I just did my first interview for a gay publication, Out Front, so maybe they'll jump on the bandwagon. I've been embraced by the gays since I can remember, though. I personally did a Krip-hop/Homo-hop event at NYU a couple years ago, but the band hasn't ever played any big events or festivals.
I was cited as an openly queer rapper worth listening to on Colorlines.com, which was a huge honor.
We do have this song "Madd," where at the end I say, "Everyone here is mad / Everyone here is queer and perfectly glad" and repeat [it] as an outro. That always gets my gays on board for sure, and I like pointing to straight people and say[ing], "especially you," just to create some fun uncomfortable smiles.
An insider at Twist & Shout just let me in on the secret that we do have a small gay following, which I was unaware of. But there's always at least a few gays in the audience -- my girlfriend, and usually a gay friend or two.
What kind of reaction do you get from people seeing you rap for the first time?
People always seem to be really thrown off by me rapping at least for a couple songs. People always compliment me for getting on stage and doing it in general, which is always very humbling. But it's something that I don't really have a choice in. I do my music because I'm passionate about it enough that it's all I can see myself doing. Not because I need or want to turn heads. We always get a lot of good feedback after shows, though, which is important and makes it easier to keep at it.
What got you involved with Occupy Denver?
I got involved with Occupy Denver when I read an article somewhere online that Denver was one of the first cities to branch out from the Occupy Wall Street protests, which I was already in support of. I came to my first general assembly at around Day 5 of our Denver occupation.
I was part of the same "revolution" that got the first black president elected with a huge sense of victory that our movement was finally going to be heard.
It wasn't long after that, that I became extremely discouraged in Obama's policies and felt so let down.
The Occupy movement is by far the most exciting cause of my life. I've never felt so passionate about advocacy in my life. I think it's a great movement that for once isn't just focused on one task. As history proves, there isn't just one problem to fight. However, most of the world's problems have some things in common: money, power and greed. So it's picture perfect that Occupy Wall Street would start at Wall Street and start by attacking the excessive amounts corporate money playing into our future.
There are so many fights to fight that it's unfair to put one cause higher than the other, like so many critics want Occupy Wall Street to do. It's so great having the Occupy movement support for all good fights, such as immigration laws, gay rights, environmental protection, America's prison complex, education priorities, police militarization, and the list goes on and on. It's so inspiring to see this huge support lend itself to global equality.
What's next for Wheelchair Sports Camp?
We're working real hard on an EP which we're really hoping will be out by the time we return to South by Southwest in March.
Also working on getting out to cities we haven't been. We would really like to do a West Coast tour in the future and can't wait to get back to the East Coast. Until then -- no sleep until Austin!
Second Round of Bands Announced for SXSW 2012
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You've already seen our first list of bands invited to play SXSW 2012. It's time for us to reveal a ...You've already seen our first list of bands invited to play SXSW 2012. It's time for us to reveal a few more.
Register now to check out standout acts like Alabama Shakes, Blouse, Teengirl Fantasy, Lucero, PUJOL and Psychic Ills. International buzz artists Asking Alexandra, Capsula, Electric Eel Shock, Polarsets, Zulu Winter, Extrawelt and Ben Howard will also be performing in 2012. Don't miss local Austin favorites like Dikes of Holland and Schmillion.
The list of invited acts is growing daily. Stay tuned for more announcements still to come. As always, everything is subject to change.
Alabama Shakes (Athens AL)
Asking Alexandria (York UK-ENGLAND)
Atlantic/Pacific (Brooklyn NY)
Bad Weather California (Denver CO)
Belligerence (Portsmouth UK-ENGLAND)
Ben Howard (Devon UK-ENGLAND)
Blouse (Portland OR)
Capsula (Bilbao SPAIN)
Choir of Young Believers (Copenhagen DENMARK)
Dikes of Holland (Austin TX)
Duran (Bogotá COLOMBIA)
Edison Chair (Austin TX)
Electric Eel Shock (Tokyo JAPAN)
Electric Wire Hustle (Wellington NEW ZEALAND)
Elias Haslanger (Austin TX)
Extrawelt (Hamburg GERMANY)
Fallulah (Copenhagen DENMARK)
Films of Colour (London UK-ENGLAND)
Go Back To The Zoo (Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS)
Hunters (Brooklyn NY)
Idiot Glee (Lexington KY)
J.R. Patton (Dallas TX)
Juan Cirerol (Mexicali MEXICO)
Lanie Lane (Sydney NSW)
Led Er Est (New York NY)
Lilly Wood and the Prick (Paris FRANCE)
Lonsdale Boys Club (London UK-ENGLAND)
Lucero (Memphis TN)
Miles Zuniga (Austin TX)
New Look (Hamilton AB)
Nick Jaina (Portland OR)
Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children (Nuuk GREENLAND)
Oh Mercy (Melbourne VIC)
Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders (Los Angeles CA)
Polarsets (Newcastle UK-ENGLAND)
PUJOL (Nashville TN)
Psychic Ills (New York NY)
Radiation City (Portland OR)
Schmillion (Austin TX)
Teengirl Fantasy (New York NY)
The Abramson Singers (Vancouver BC)
The Record Summer (New York NY)
Turbo Fruits (Nashville TN)
Wheelchair Sports Camp (Denver CO)
You Can't Win, Charlie Brown (Lisbon PORTUGAL)
Zulu Winter (London UK-ENGLAND)
You Really Can't Miss Wheelchair Sports Camp at Kenny's Castaways Tonight
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Most people think the name's a bad joke, but Wheelchair Sports Camp are anything but offensive. A ps...Most people think the name's a bad joke, but Wheelchair Sports Camp are anything but offensive. A psuedo-hip-hop trio from Denver fronted by Kalyn Heffernan, a 56-pound wheelchair-bound badass emcee with CRIP LIFE tattooed on her stomach, the band is playing Kenny's Castaways tonight at 8pm and they sample everything from Radiohead to J. Dilla, feature a monster sax player, and sometimes cover the song "My Vagina Isn't Handicapped." Need we say anything more?
Wheelchair Sports Camp Love Life, Stay Fly @ Kenny's Castaways
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CMJ 2011 breakout band Wheelchair Sports Camp play their first-ever NYC show at Kenny's Castaways on...CMJ 2011 breakout band Wheelchair Sports Camp play their first-ever NYC show at Kenny's Castaways on October 21, 2011. picture slideshow
25 Essential Hip-Hop Acts at SXSW 2011
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Holy. Fucking. Shit. This. Is. Dope – and not just because this organic sax-pumped Denver outfit has...Holy. Fucking. Shit. This. Is. Dope – and not just because this organic sax-pumped Denver outfit has the best name at SXSW. Wheelchair Sports Camp's chief MC-producer Kalyn really does rhyme from a wheelchair, and she does it with a mighty gusto that deserves attention from all and any underground aficionados. With a philanthropic mission and a killer backing band, this group defines progressive hip-hop in the new millennium. | website
March 19 @ Red 7
Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/117048-25-essential-hip-hop-acts-at-sxsw-2011/#ixzz1RTBW3zb9
Eight Openly Queer Rappers Worth Your Headphones
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Recently, Berkeley-born rapper Lil’ B made headlines after he announced at Coachella that he plans t...Recently, Berkeley-born rapper Lil’ B made headlines after he announced at Coachella that he plans to title his next album “I’m Gay.” The artist, who steadfastly denies actually being gay, says that he’s trying to prove a point, make a statement about misogyny and hip-hop. Or whatever.
Lost in all the hoopla was the fact that there already exists a crop of openly queer rappers who have been making music for years. They’re talented, proud, but when it comes to mainstream media, they’re often ignored. So I reached out to some of the industry’s best and brightest to get their take on the really gay rappers who should be getting our attention. Writer and activist Kenyon Farrow summed up the bigger picture nicely when he wrote in an email: “I wish we could focus more energy and our money on artists in the community, rather than falling all over ourselves for straight people to validate our existence.”
To wit, here are some folks to fall out over, courtesy of hip-hop heads Invincible, Juba Kalamka and Jeff Chang.
Eight Openly Queer Rappers You Should Know
Invincible is a Detroit-based rapper and activist who’s already got the world’s attention. She founded her own label and media company Emergence and released her debut album “Shapeshifters” in 2008. She contributes these artists to the list:
Miz Korona: A cornerstone of Detroit’s Hip-Hop community and one of the most consistent emcees I know, live or recorded. Miz Korona independently released her debut album, “The Injection,” last year and it’s incredible. She’s also known for her role in the film 8 mile—battling Xzibit at the lunch truck.
Mz Jonz: Also a Detroit representative, but we first met performing in New York at the Peace Out East festival. She performs regularly in the Detroit area, and pride festivals all over the country. This month Mz Jonz is independently releasing her debut album “Here On My Own” (peep the acronym?).
Thee Satisfaction: This Seattle based dynamic duo do it all—produce, sing, emcee, graphic design. In February, I witnessed their stellar performance for “Black Future Month” alongside their brethren Shabazz Palaces. Thee Sat members Cat and Stasia are not only partners in music, but also in love and life. They released a few mixtapes and a EP but i’m looking forward to the official album release via Seattle label Sub Pop.
Las Krudas: This trio was born and raised in Cuba, but is now splits its time between Austin, Texas, and the Bay Area. They are artists, activists, musicians, and theater performers, who have incredible stage presence and skill as emcees. Every time I see them on stage I’m blown away by their breath control and rapid fire flows, not to mention their tireless commitment to a global movement for justice.
Skim: The Queens-raised, L.A.-based emcee/songwriter and activist is a trailblazer in every way. Skim plays guitar, sings, produces, spits, and facilitates workshops like no other. Skim’s album “For Every Tear” dropped in 2006, and has many underground anthems including, “Unfamiliar” featuring Jade and “Long Story.” Ladies love Skim—last time I saw Skim live was at Mondo Homo festival in Atlanta, and someone threw some panties on stage.
Juba Kalamka is a queer artist and activist based in the Bay Area. He’s a founding member of the now disbanded Deep Dickollective. He’s also a former Colorlines music columnist. He adds to the list:
Collin Clay (of Juha): Deep Dickollective (D/DC) was a labelmate (on a 7” single) when Juha was a group in the early 2000s. Their first CD “Polari” (2002) was amazing, and he’s released two more (“The Grooms of God” and the “Stomach” EP) as a solo artist under the Juha banner that are even better. Dense yet accessible conversation on mixed-race identity, colonization, queerness, masculinity and a lot more. (Photo by Sophie Allen)
Wheelchair Sports Camp: I recently became aware of emcee/producer Karlyn Heffernan’s music through my colleague Leroy Moore Jr.(disability activist, artist and producer of the Krip Hop Nation compilations). I’m still listening, but her work is absolutely worth mentioning. Really enjoying the way she tells her stories inside of stories, as well as her lyricism and production work, and I’m looking forward to hearing more.
Big Freedia: Deep Dickollective opened a show for Big Freedia in New Orleans in 2003. It was so hot our feet were burning on the stage and our DJ’s records were warping. Freedia took the stage with what seemed like 27 dancers, the way they were moving. Casual and tight. Her records are amazing, intense and fun and her live show even more so. Her work makes me smile. She’s a fountain of history and love and respect for her communities at home and around the world.
And more love for Big Freedia, from resident hip-hop scholar, author and Colorlines co-founder Jeff Chang:
It’s funny that Big Freedia just got a shout out on “Treme,” so now people outside of hip-hop are curious. But what I love about Big Freedia is that she just crushes all the boxes set up for rap and rappers—just tears that shit up! No one can say she doesn’t rock (around the clock). And if some folks are trying to pretend she doesn’t exist, you know they’re all still listening. Listening hard. Like what Posdnous said, Freedia is complicated.
Overcoming all odds for the love of music
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Being a crippled, lesbian rapper is hard. But not in the way you think. “I could bank off that fa...Being a crippled, lesbian rapper is hard. But not in the way you think.
“I could bank off that fact and just be … not that good,” said Kalyn Heffernan, the pint-sized 24-year-old emcee of Wheelchair Sports Camp. “But I’m just all about being better. I like good bands, and I want to be one.”
Most any band – good or not – typically has the opportunity to be first judged by its musical abilities, and not on a socio-political issue. But unless it’s through her album, Heffernan is rarely afforded that opportunity. Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, she is confined to a wheelchair and has grown only to the size of a small child.
I must admit when I first saw Heffernan roll onto the stage of the Hi-Dive, I cynically dismissed the whole thing as a PC gimmick.
Something people were afraid not to like, and applauded dutifully and without thought. But 10 minutes into the set of Wheelchair Sports Camp, I (and presumably everyone in attendance) had the snarky grins wiped off our faces. Fronting a band of top-shelf musicians, Kalyn Heffernan has the sly charm of a seasoned stage performer, all while she rhymes from her wheelchair with a flow and punch to rival any big-name emcee.
Growing up in Denver, Heffernan was surrounded with positive encouragement from family and friends. “I never really encountered any setbacks because of my disability or sexuality,” she said. Being a devoted fan of early ’90s hip-hop, Heffernan rapped at a talent show at the age of 12. “It was me beat-boxing onto a tape, and then rhyming over it,” she explained. From there Heffernan’s musical vocabulary became more sophisticated, moving from drum machines in high school to studying recording techniques at the University of Colorado, Denver.
It was there she met the brother-sister musical duo Abi and Isaac McGaha Miller. “Abi is just a natural born musician,” Heffernan raved, “she could play almost anything.” From this encounter grew Wheelchair Sports Camp, and since Heffernan was studying audio recording at the time, the band could devote their school hours to laying down tracks in the university studio.
Sometime later WSC released Mixed Tapes, an eclectic, inventive hip-hop album that expertly samples tracks from The Beatles and Stevie Wonder to Nirvana and Radiohead.
Along with meeting her bandmates, college introduced Heffernan to Jenna Black, who would become her girlfriend, now of five years. “We had to hide it for a while,” Black said, describing the difficulties of a homophobic dorm room and religious conservative parents.
Kalyn Heffernan recognizes that, considering her sexuality and her disability, she was raised in a relatively positive environment that some (including her girlfriend) were not privileged with.
“I’ve always grown up around gay people. And you’re not a part of the gay community without knowing how hard it can be.”
Though several WSC songs are playful and celebratory, many of the lyrics comment on social injustices. “I’ve rapped about Prop 8 and homophobia. Just because I’ve had it so good, doesn’t mean I don’t have a consciousness about these things.”
Heffernan went on to discuss the variety of anti-gay undertones in culture from the indie-rock world to the hip-hop scene. For the most part, though, she observes this from a distance. “Maybe because I’m disabled, people can’t be too mean,” she said with a laugh.
Kalyn Heffernan seems to view her disability as a comical footnote, not as the crux of her personality. She’s a politically conscious voice who has a setback to reasonably complain about, yet makes music not as an after-school-special message of hope and inspiration, but for the pure love of creativity. “I’m not a rapper because I want people to hear my story,” she said with complete sincerity, “I’m a rapper because I want to be.”
12 bands to watch at The Denver Post's Underground Music Showcase 'Our take on six national and six Colorado bands'
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Want to know what everyone was talking about after the South by Southwest and Westword Music Showcas...Want to know what everyone was talking about after the South by Southwest and Westword Music Showcases this year? Check out this Denver hip-hop outfit, led by cartoon-voiced Kalyn Heffernan (who uses a wheelchair) and backed by live drums and sax. Her nimble flows and production prove that hip-hop bravado is not the sole province of swaggering dudes and cookie-cutter bling bots. 8 p.m. Sunday, Bands for Lands stage at the TS Board Shop
UMS 11th Annual Indie Festival 'Must Hears'
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:: Wheelchair Sports Camp :: The electronic hip-hop mash-up artists in Wheelchair Sports Camp inc...:: Wheelchair Sports Camp ::
The electronic hip-hop mash-up artists in Wheelchair Sports Camp include producer MC Kalyn, Abi McGaha Miller on vocals and sax, percussionist Isaac Miller, and DJ Chris “B*Money” Behm-Meyer. The group is satirically named after a corrupt wheelchair sports camp Kalyn attended as a teenager, and its recent Mixed Tapes features Kalyn’s quirky rhymes and samples that range from The Beatles and Radiohead, to layers of acoustic guitar, live hand percussion, and funky dub-step basslines.
SXSW 2011 Band Name Awards
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Nearly 2,000 bands have flocked to Austin, Texas this week for the annual South By Southwest festiva...Nearly 2,000 bands have flocked to Austin, Texas this week for the annual South By Southwest festival. As with the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, we find ourselves amazed (and amused) by the names of the bands on the bill. Trend watchers: 2011 is the year of white and black, big and little, youth and death, saints and neon. What to conclude from this concordance? We’re not sure. For now, we present the first annual SXSW Band Name Awards, along with music samples from some of the winners. Name on!
1. Best TV/Movie Allusion
Runners Up: Jackie Chain; Jesse Dangerously; Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson*
Winner: Uncle Jesse
2. Most Offensive
Runners Up: Wheelchair Sports Camp*; Hungry Kids of Hungary; Mustard Pimp
Winner: Uncle Bad Touch (2-time FP Most Offensive Champion)
3. Best Defecation
Runners Up: Shit and Shine; Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!; Dr Krapula
Winner: Shit Robot*
4. Best Literary Allusion
Runners Up: Ivan & Alyosha*; Lolita No. 18; Eliza Doolittle
Winner: Mutiny on the Bounty
5. Worst Band Name
Runners Up: Matrimony; The Coolness; House of Broken Promises
Winner: A Great Big Pile of Leaves
6. Best Highbrow
Runners Up: Chateau Marmont; His Clancyness*; Harvard Bass
Winner: Descartes a Kant
7. Best Royal
Runners Up: Royal Bangs; Royal Forest; Royal Thunder
Winner: Royal Canoe
8. Best Dirty
Runners Up: Dirty Ghosts; Dirty Karma; The Dirty Guv’Nahs
Winner: Dirty Beaches*
9. Best Alliteration
Runners Up: Foxes in Fiction*; Birds & Batteries; Sick of Sarah
Winner: Trampled by Tigers
10. Best First Person Plural
Runners Up: We Are Defiance; We Are Enfant Terrible; We Are Hex
Winner: We Barbarians
11. Best White
Runners Up: White Arrows; White Denim; White Mystery; White White Sisters; White Wires; Whitechapel; Whitehorse
Winner: The White Eyes
12. Best Black
Runners Up: The Black Atlantic; Black Books; The Black Box Revelation; Black Cherry; Black Milk*; Blacklisted Individuals; The Pretty Black Chains
Winner: Black Gandhi
13. Best Young
Runners Up: Young Adults; Young Buffalo; Young Empires; Young Magic
Winner: Young London
14. Best Repetition
Runners Up: Man Man; Rah Rah; Smile Smile; Viva Viva
Winner: Gobble Gobble
15. Best Death
Runners Up: Bass Drum of Death; Death Letters; Freedom or Death; O’Death*
Winner: Death on Two Wheels
16. Best Sports
Runners Up: The Baseball Project; Basketball
Winner: Eastern Conference Champions*
17. Best Animal
Runners Up: Animals as Leader; Gabby Young and Other Animals; Sacred Animals
Winner: Slow Animal*
18. Best Gay
Runners Up: The Gay Blades; Gay for Johnny Depp; Gay Sportscasters
Winner: My! Gay! Husband!
19. Best Saint
Runners Up: Saint Motel; Saint Vitus
Winner: Sainthood Reps
20. Biggest Mouthful
Runners Up: For A Minor Reflection; Now, Now, Every Children*; Pulled Apart By Horses; Say “No!” To Architecture
Winner: Thee Oh Sees*
Keith Meatto is co-editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. Whenever he sees two or three words together he thinks: Band Name.
Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp on rockin' the mike and making people think twice
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The most immediately noticeable thing about Kalyn Heffernan is that she's in a wheelchair. What take...The most immediately noticeable thing about Kalyn Heffernan is that she's in a wheelchair. What takes a little more time to absorb and appreciate is that the petite Irish woman in the Timbaland boots and paint-covered electric chair (she's also a sometime graffiti artist) fashions herself as the real deal on the microphone and is revolutionizing the image of the female rapper.
A Kalyn Heffernan original, one of her first paintings
?The frontwoman for hip-hop outfit Wheelchair Sports Camp (along with DJ Whitelabel, Isaac on live drums and Abi, who plays the Saxophone), Heffernan does not come from a typical hip-hop background. Diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) as an infant, Heffernan has been in a wheelchair her whole life.
Undeterred, however, she has led her life with a feisty spirit for just as long. She has "crip life" tattooed on her stomach, which is as much a throw to Tupac Shakur's "Thug Life" tat as it is to her existence in the handicap community. Heffernan makes no excuses and pulls no punches. She is, at the core, a rapper first and foremost. She uses her rhymes and affliction together in a way that challenges the status quo.
The Wheelchair Sports Camp album The Mainstream Cannot Spearhead Change is not all full of warm stories about overcoming trials and tribulations; rather, Heffernan uses humor to offer thoughtful accounts of her experiences. We caught up with Heffernan recently and chopped it up with her over breakfast about everything from her life as a "crip," as she puts it, to her determination to make things happen on her terms.
Westword: So, who is Kalyn Heffernan?
Kalyn Heffernan: Well, you know, I'm a crip. I was born a crip.
Really? Like a gang member?
[laughs] No, I mean a cripple, but I do have "crip life" tatted on my stomach. It's kind of one of those uncomfortable things that took me a while to embrace. It wasn't probably until middle school when I became really comfortable with myself and would crack a midget joke or a handicap joke at myself. Before that, I was really affected by anyone who said "midget" instead of "little person." There's not enough time to be mad at everyone, so I figure it's easier to laugh at everyone.
To be specific, what is your affliction?
Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I was born with it. Neither of my parents have it. It's never shown anywhere in my family. I have brittle bones. I'm not as brittle as I used to be. As a baby, I'd break in my crib. My mom didn't know that I had this disability when I was born, so she had a natural birth. By the time I was six months old, she took me to the hospital because we were at breakfast and I moved my arm, and she heard a snap, and I started crying. She took me to the hospital, and we did X-rays, and sure enough, there were 25 fractures. I was in the hospital for eighteen hours, and they finally diagnosed me. That's basically it: I have brittle bones.
And that's why you're in a wheelchair?
Yeah, there are people who are different sizes with OI that can walk and are regular size, and there are people who are half my size, if not smaller, and are also super-brittle. I think I have it pretty good. It helps if I don't get drunk and fall out of my chair.
How old are you?
I'm 23. Through OI, I have scoliosis as well. It's something that's very common with this disability. My teeth are brittle, but I've met kids who eat a piece of toast and their teeth crumble.
So do you have one of those "hip-hop saved my life" stories?
Yes and no. My parents always listened to the Grateful Dead and that kind of stuff, and one morning me and my dad were driving down the freeway in California, where I grew up -- I moved back here when I was nine -- and I ran into Power 106, and I started hearing hip-hop and wanting to hear this station. It was like some bad song, and he said, "Turn that shit off."
Ever since then, I've been like addicted to hip-hop. I really got into TLC, too. They are the "hip-hop saved my life" example. They were just these three awesome women. Left Eye always had the dopest rhymes, plus they had catchy hooks and condoms all over the place. I was like five or seven listening to "Oooh on the TLC Tip" and singing about safe sex, not knowing what it was. I also got into Salt-n-Pepa a lot.
So I see the paint on your arms and all over your wheelchair -- you're a painter, too?
My senior year of college, I had to take an art class, and it was drawing. At the end of the semester, we learned how to paint and stretch canvases, so I painted a police shirt. I painted in the N.W.A. sign so that it said "Fuck the police." It's good.
What did you do with it?
It was actually the shirt I was wearing when I fell outta my chair and broke my head. I was bleeding outta my ears and they had to cut it off of me, so I was like, "Oh man, I love this shirt!" That's what I decided to do with it.
When you decided you wanted to become an MC, was it before or after you became more acquainted with your disability?
If was definitely before. I started rapping when I was twelve, in the sixth grade. I listened to all mainstream. It wasn't until senior year of high school and freshman year of college that I became acclimated with underground and conscious hip-hop, even the old-school stuff.
I knew about TLC and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and stuff like that, but I was really educated on KRS ONE and things like that. I started rapping, and it was more of a for-fun type of thing, but I continued that, and in high school, I was good friends with this guy who was a part of Wheelchair Sports Camp.
He was really talented, as well, and we did a couple things in the studio, and it was really awful. Listening back, it wasn't bad for the state of mind we were in and our maturity level, but it was pretty awful. We were in the studio and would pay $25 an hour, and I'd sit in the studio and try and make a beat or pay for a beat, and I realized I couldn't afford $250.
I started saving up and got a job working at Elitch's. That was my first job, and I just saved every check. I bought my first beat machine when I was sixteen or seventeen and started making my own beats. Again, it was pretty awful.
What is it like to be a woman who also has these triple obstacles you have to get over?
Definitely. Not just being a woman, but being a handicapped woman, being a lesbian woman, there's always obstacles, but I think I get treated equally very well. I think I have to go out of my way to do it. I'm assertive and up front. I think I do a pretty good job at throwing myself out there. People wouldn't come up and talk to me because I'm in a wheelchair. I have to go outside of my comfort zone a little bit to get noticed.
And by doing so, you challenge the comfort zones of others.
Exactly. I think hip-hop is a great way to do that. I get on stage and people see Wheelchair Sports Camp and wonder what's going to happen, and I start to rhyme, and then it goes from there.
What's the purpose of the band? Is it to be an advocate for the handicap, or is it to spread the message of hip-hop?
I'm not really focused on being signed or getting a deal. That was something I was really concerned about as a kid, but now, as long as I know I've reached enough people to maybe think twice about something... They hear my song, and they might take things differently because of it. I do it because I love it, and not because of what people are going to think of it. I do it because of what I believe in.
When I first saw you perform, you did a song you called your one-and-only dis track. How was that born?
That was my point to make it general, but the people who know the situation know who it is. It really is about the guy who I started the band with. He had abuse problems, and every time he would get upset, he would quit the band. I told him, this is the last time you're quitting, and then he put out a freestyle on his MySpace called "Fuck Handicapped People." The album title was Wheelchairs Are for Retards. Instead of writing a dis track, I wrote a dis blog and tried to be funny. I thought about it forever and then felt like I HAD to come correct.
Best Denver Bands: Rubedo, Abi & The Blue Language, Wheelchair Sports Camp
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Tomorrow night, Thursday March 3, Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood (right next to The Gothic Theater)...Tomorrow night, Thursday March 3, Moe’s Original BBQ in Englewood (right next to The Gothic Theater) will be hosting an insanely eclectic night of music that is sure to have something for every kind of music fan.
In many ways, the show is a showcase for some of the best upcoming talent in Denver. Three of the four acts have members who CU Denver’s music school, a fact that will give the gig the kind of energy that is created when friends get together to do something they love.
Hip-hop group Wheelchair Sports Camp will floor fans of hip-hop. Anyone whose had their ear to the ground in the last few months most definitely has heard of this group- their dynamic MC, backing band, tunes, and live show have earned them a place at South by Southwest in Austin later this month. A combination of jazz (courtesy of Abi McGaha Miller on the tenor saxophone) experimental rock, classic rap, and funk, this band is really something to see.
Abi McGaha Miller will also be performing with her solo project, Abi and the Blue Language. Much like Wheelchair Sports Camp, the band’s sound is a mash-up of many styles including soul, jazz, rock, pop, and folk music. Abi is a singular talent who is blessed with a killer voice, a knack for writing great songs, insane saxophone chops, and a spirit that takes up any stage.
The last act playing is progressive rock band Rubedo, whose comparison to the Mars Volta goes so far that Volta’s keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens produced their new LP, to be released later this year. It’s easy to see what made Owens want to work with Rubedo, as their total embrace of epic rock, unconventional song structure, and total experimentalism is some of the hippest stuff being made in town. Their show is a complete mind-melter, so be warned.
All in all, Moe’s Original BBQ is most certainly the place to be to catch some of Denver’s best music.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Best Denver Bands: Rubedo, Abi and the Blue Language, Wheelchair Sports Camp - Denver bands | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/bands-in-denver/best-denver-bands-rubedo-abi-and-the-blue-language-wheelchair-sports-camp#ixzz1RTEZAzlb
Wheelchair Sports Camp snags invite to SXSW 2011
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Looks like Wheelchair Sports Camp, the band whose frontwoman, Kalyn Heffernan, we profiled this past...Looks like Wheelchair Sports Camp, the band whose frontwoman, Kalyn Heffernan, we profiled this past November, will be heading to this year's SXSW. While a number of other acts will undoubtedly make the trek to Austin this March, Wheelchair Sports received an official invitation to perform at the festival -- a pretty big deal for this local hip-hop unit. We caught up with Heffernan to get the low down. Apparently, it was some old fashioned persistence that really paid off.
"I applied online and really kept in contact with a guy from the music fest that's coordinating the festival," Heffernan explains. "I just kept sending him everything we were doing and the press we were getting in recent months. Just about everything we were gonna try and do to get out there, we really wanted to be a part of the official showcase.
"Come to find out, it's my drummer's dream come true," Heffernan adds. "Yup. B-Money's coming. Issac on the drums and Abby on sax."
Being invited to play this year's show, says Heffernan, shows the versatility of their band and will increase visibility for other Denver artists, as well.
"It really goes to show our versatility because we were the only hip-hop band chosen from Denver. We are probably one of the more unique hip-hop groups in Denver that I've seen play.We just try and go outside of the box, and SXSW is like the mecca for independent and new experimental type of music. More than not, it's a spot for bands on the rise and unique people that you don't see on MTV or whatnot. We're really excited to play and definitely [to see] for what's to come of this."
Misogyny: Do women get a bad rap in hip-hop?
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Kalyn Heffernan, MC for the group Wheelchair Sports Camp, says she has not experienced misogyny on a...Kalyn Heffernan, MC for the group Wheelchair Sports Camp, says she has not experienced misogyny on a personal level. Still, as a woman who is immersed in the genre as a consumer and a participant, she sees it running rampant on the regular. Not only is Kalyn a woman who raps in a male-dominated scene, but she is also a lesbian. She challenges the system on many levels of sexuality through her rhymes and controversial stance. Recognizing that the songs with the best hooks and lyrics are often those that objectify women the most, Heffernan says the answer is more women raising their voices, and their message, on the microphone.
Westword: What do you think about misogyny in hip-hop?
Kalyn Heffernan: I haven't personally experienced the sexism in hip-hop, but It didn't take hip-hop very long to get misogynistic. It really became prevalent in the early '90s, when I started out. NWA and Eazy-E, all that stuff we like to listen to, it's hard to turn the other cheek when they're knocking women.
It's something that women have been aware of for a while. I also feel like female rappers have to come out and have sex appeal. Sex sells, and unfortunately, that's how a lot of female rappers have made it. Not skill and lyricism; they just market their bodies so that they can adapt to a genre that's built this way.
Is it the responsibility of the woman to maintain the boundaries? Where does the responsibility fall, especially in the day of Nicki Minaj?
I don't think Nicki Minaj would be where she was if she didn't use sex appeal. However, there are females like Queen Latifah, who was one of the few who made a stance against disrespecting women, and she has made a huge career. Her big money isn't because of her talking about injustices with women. She was able to start that avenue at the beginning and get her start. Unfortunately, it is the system's problem for not allowing positive women to get the same height like big-time rappers who are talking shit about women. Overall, the system is to blame, but if more women were to come out and go against the grain, I think that it would force that change.
As a lesbian, how does that further impact your dealings with the hip-hop scene?
Definitely, it's harder to be a homo in hip-hop because it's so homophobic. Gay men are more discriminated against, and that's where the root comes from in hip-hop. From all my personal experience, lesbians are cool, because straight guys like lesbians, because they want to get in on the action. I think lesbians in hip-hop are on that whole "sex sells" thing. I flick my tongue like a dyke -- Dr. Dre said it.
So what's the answer? Is there a solution?
My solution is more women coming out, more women doing their thing without having to sell themselves. Spitting harder. Most women are smarter than men anyway, so if they really took that knowledge to the beat, it would make the industry change, but I think that a lot of women are afraid because of how mainstream hip-hop is and how it's become. All the do's and don'ts in hip-hop that are harder to overlook, but if they did, I think some shit could change.
The Mile High Makeout: Homophobia in Colorado hip-hop
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The hip-hop fan base as a whole, after all, is far more tolerant of its artists’ eccentricities than...The hip-hop fan base as a whole, after all, is far more tolerant of its artists’ eccentricities than one might initially expect. With the growing popularity of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered hip-hoppers — from New Orleans’s sissy bounce stars Big Freedia and Katey Red to the Native American rapper Angel Haze to legendary hip-hop radio DJ Mister Cee — alternatives to standard heterosexual identities are increasingly apparent. Movies like “Pick Up the Mic” and “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” have recently explored the issues. Websites like outhiphop.com and Gay Music Revolution regularly feature openly gay rappers. A new genre has even been coined: homohop.
The social justice news website, Colorlines.com, recently published an article called “Eight Openly Queer Rappers Worth Your Headphones, which included Denver’s own Wheelchair Sports Camp.
“There’s gay rappers who go out of their way to let it be known they’re gay, but for me, it’s not my first topic,” says Wheelchair Sports Camp’s Kalyn Heffernan, an MC who is outside the norms of hip-hop not only because she’s gay, but also because she’s a female rapper and, as the name of her group suggests, wheelchair-bound, due to a genetic disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta. “It’s not like I’m ashamed or haven’t mentioned being gay in my lyrics, but I started rapping way before I got into girls.”
While Heffernan feels that the use of hateful language in hip-hop is dangerous, she isn’t offended by Tyler the Creator’s blatantly homophobic and misogynist lyrics.
“I think they’re just rebelling. It’s the same old Insane Clown Posse/Eminem factor,” she says, referring to rappers whose shock tactics have likely inspired the Odd Future crew’s aesthetic. “I still think he’s using ‘faggot’ in a derogatory sense, and I think he’s doing it on purpose. Maybe that purpose is to desensitize people, but it’s still hateful. It’s still derogatory, but it’s rebellious, and hip-hop has always been rebellious.”
Of course, hip-hop isn’t the only musical form with rebellion at its roots. Rock music was born out of rebellion, and as Mane Rok points out, it’s just as prone to homophobia.
“I think homophobia is just as big in hip-hop as it is in rock,” he says. “Too often, people are trying to blame the music, but the music is homophobic in the way that it’s a product of our society.”
Amoeblog Black History Month Salutes Leroy Moore and Krip-Hop Nation pt 2
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Coming next is an all female Krip-Hop compilation which, Moore says, is a joint project with Kalyn H...Coming next is an all female Krip-Hop compilation which, Moore says, is a joint project with Kalyn Heffernan from Wheelchair Sports Camp, who is also an artist featured on the collection. "It also has Lady MJ. She's incredible. She's from Birmingham in the UK and was a part of the DaDa Festival. And also there is Toni Hickman and she has the album Crippled Pretty and it is amazing. She performed at our Atlanta show. So there's a group of talented women who are a part of Krip-Hop right now." Others who will also be on female collection include Miss Money, Panah Ahmed, Sunshine Madd Hattertriss, Lizzi Emeh, Prudence Mabhena, and Vivian Flaherty-Thorp.
Heffernan is based out of Denver, CO and is a producer and MC with the four piece hip-hop band Wheelchair Sports Camp. In a couple of weeks the band will be traveling to Austin for a SXSW showcase! Like nearly all of the other Krip-Hop artists, she initially met Leroy Moore via the internet. They finally met up in person last October at an event he helped organize at NYU in Manhattan. Heffernan told me that Moore helped her recognize the extent of Krip-Hop artists on a global scale.
"Before meeting Leroy, I didn't even realize how many disabled hip-hop artists there are throughout the world, not to mention how many of them are females. It's so inspiring and amazing!" she said. "There [have] always been less women involved in the making of hip-hop music than men. That is not to say, however, that there haven't always been amazing, key female figures involved in hip-hop. The more involved I become, the more I realize how many amazing female hip-hop artists there have been in the past, and are today that are killin' it all over the place."
And what about the music industry ever catching up with Krip-Hop artists, not to mention with hip-hop fans who happen to be disabled? Answered Moore, whose business card logo reads: "Black Disabled man with a Big Mouth and a high I.Q.;" "They don't yet realize what an untapped market the disabled market is. But once they do, watch out!"
Set is typically 45-60 minutes, all original material, maybe a couple covers