Waterboy and the Mighty World
Part live concert, part concept album, Waterboy and the Mighty World examines the relationship between people of color and law enforcement in America. Who is being policed? Who is being protected? Who and what kind of people are enforcing the laws of the land?
Bass Reeves was the first African American deputy U.S. Marshall. His epic life story reads like a series of tall tales, complete with fascinating variations and speculative contributions throughout the years. He used cunning and wit to capture over 3,000 bandits. Fatally wounding just 14 of the thousands of suspects he brought in, Bass became an example of restraint and discernment in early American law enforcement.
Through a reinterpretation of traditional songs made famous by the legendary Odetta Holmes and original compositions, this piece reflects on the life of Bass Reeves and connects it to the issues of our current era. We re-imagine and re-mix the songs into mantras, dirges, and contemporary modes, touching on a wide array of vocal traditions including Korean pansori, gospel, and experimental R&B — all the while inspired by the brilliance of Odetta's delivery. Taking cues from concept albums like Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, Archie Shepp's “Attica Blues”, and Janelle Monae’s “Archandroid”, Waterboy and the Mighty World will be presented as a live recording session and discussion. Each performance will be recorded and compiled with the intent to document each “take” as a variation in the telling of a tall tale.