Saturday, November 24, 2018

I Who Have Nothing (listen to this)

If you grew up after the 1960's and '70s, the idea of a song being a hit--rather than the band or performer--is a strange concept. But back then, as well as the fame of being a major star, there was often a scramble to cover a song that someone-else had been successful with. The same song was recorded and sung by many performers, each giving their own interpretation. Singers like Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley were not composers or considered to be songwriters (though Sinatra had the occasional writing credit)--rather, they worked with composers and lyricists, chose the songs they liked best, and made them their own.

Songs like My Way (made most famous by Frank Sinatra, lyrics by Paul Anka, also recorded by Elvis Presley... set to the music of a French song Comme d'Habitude which was a hit for Claude Francois). Songs like those written by Randy Newman, which were covered by Gene Pitney--a wonderful singer-songwriter who wrote songs for others such as Roy Orbison and The Crystals, while himself recording songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as well as Randy Newman). Popular TV variety shows would showcase many, many cover versions by performers who were very well known.

As a kid, it was never obvious which song "belonged" to which singer. One song that I adored though was "I Who Have Nothing. An English-language version of the Italian "Uno Dei Tanti" (direct translation: One Of Many), music by Carlo  Donida, lyrics by Guilio Rapetti, with the English words written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. The first English-language version was recorded by the American Ben E King (The Drifters), but was better known in the UK through cover versions by Tom Jones and--the one that has always been my go-to version--Shirley Bassey. The name of the song and the name Shirley Bassey are inseparable in my memory... despite so many, many other cover versions.

Ben E King, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker. Neil Diamond.
Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
Liza Minelli, Donny Osmond.
It's often heard on TV talent shows, to greater or lesser success.
Sylvester released a disco version (really, really don't go there)

Definitely... Shirley Bassey's was my lifelong favourite version, of a lovely, lovely song. That is, until I heard this. This version, by Bloodshake Chorus.

Find out more about Bloodshake Chorus on their Facebook. Read an earlier review from a Bloodshake Chorus show in Cromer, Norfolk, here. Try to see their live show: roadtrip is worth it!!!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Photos and tour: Sevendust, All I See Is War, coming to the UK

Sevendust, Aftershock 2018

Always a crowd favourite at festivals, Sevendust took the stage at Aftershock this year as part of the All I See Is War tour. They'll be continuing the tour in the UK in December, with dates in Southampton, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Nottingham and Bristol (including VIP packages).

Lajon Witherspoon,, vocals, Sevendust
Lajon Witherspoon,, Sevendust, Aftershock 2018
Both energetic and atmospheric, metal and soulful, catch them if you can: if you haven't heard the album yet--check out All I See Is War here, plus the rest of their catalog!

More photos from Sevendust at this year's Aftershock Festival in Sacramento in the gallery, here.
All Toon's Tunes' photos of Sevendust to date, here.

Lajon Witherspoon,, vocals, Sevendust
Sevendust, Aftershock 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Aftershock: Action Bronson, photo gallery

Action Bronson
Action Bronson, Aftershock 2018
Link to photos at the end of this post

You go to a festival, and there is something for all musical tastes. Some you love. Some you don't. Going by comments posted by Aftershock attendees this year, probably the most polarising performer at this year's festival in Sacramento's Discovery Park was New York rapper and talk show host, Ariyan Arslani, better known as Action Bronson. He certainly had people talking.

Those who love him, raved about the performance; non-fans, and some who didn't know Action Bronson or his TV personality before this year's Aftershock, didn't. Sometimes you need to have listened to and understood a performer's recordings before seeing them live.

Action Bronson
Action Bronson, Aftershock 2018
The man has presence on stage. Squinting his eyes into the blazing, late-afternoon sunshine--or was it because of the smoke from the five or six blunts he smoked--he kept the fans entertained.

Find out more about Action Bronson here on Wikipedia, on his website, Facebook and on Twitter (why is it ALL CAPS?)

More photos here in the Action Bronson Aftershock 2018 photo gallery!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Aftershock: Jonathan Davis, Black Labyrinth tour, photos

Jonathan Davis
Jonathan Davis, Aftershock 2018
Link to the photogallery is at the end of this post

4.15 pm Saturday, the sun a hot, bright lance striking straight to the eyes of anyone looking out from either of the Aftershock festival main stages; it's Jonathan Davis' time on stage, with his touring band for Black Labyrinth, the solo album released earlier this year. With him on stage this time, double (string) bass, guitar and drums, and Jonathan Davis himself, expressive as ever.

The show starts with Underneath My Skin and Everyone from Black Labyrinth, then Forsaken (which Jonathan Davis wrote for the soundtrack of the movie Queen of the Damned).

Jonathan Davis
Jonathan Davis, Aftershock 2018
I thought of a friendly-but-wild lion, prowling the stage, roaring. Dressed in goth black.

Jonathan Davis
Jonathan Davis, Black Labyrinth tour, Aftershock 2018
A festival set is not long enough to appreciate the entire album plus the other gems that Jonathan Davis puts into his full Black Labyrinth tour shows. See if you can catch him on tour: more dates have been added.

Jonathan Davis
I saw Manchester at the end of the tour lists, and I thought about train tickets before understanding that it's Manchester Music Hall, Lexington, KY, not Manchester, England. Lucky Kentucky.

If you haven't heard Black Labyrinth yet, here's a review... here's a review of the show at the O2 in London, UK... and here's where you can buy your copy, either digital or physical media.

Find more info on Jonathan Davis' website, Facebook, or Twitter.

And the photogallery, Jonathan Davis at Aftershock 2018, is here!

For more Aftershock festival reviews and photos, go to

Jonathan Davis
Jonathan Davis, Aftershock 2018

Aftershock: Godsmack, bringing the heavy

Sully Erna, vocals and guitar, Godsmack
Sully Erna, Godsmack, Aftershock 2018
Link to the Aftershock 2018 photo gallery at the end of this post

The magic of festivals: there's something for everyone. Hard rock and metal has a wide spectrum of sounds, and as one of the folks running from stage-to-stage throughout the days of the event, we photographers see and hear all the shades. At the top end of my own, personal spectrum at Aftershock festival this year were Godsmack. They brought the heavy. (NOTE: Very shortly after Aftershock, Godmack cancelled their current tour due to the very sad loss of Tony Rombola's son. Click here for the press release and keep Tony and his family in your thoughts.)

Sully Erna, vocals and guitar, Godsmack
Godsmack, Aftershock 2018
It's been a few years: last time I saw Godsmack live was at an earlier Aftershock, back in 2014, when there was different festival layout and Godsmack were headlining but playing on the third stage, had (we thought) brought pyro but didn't use it (fire risk), but were on fire all the same.

Godsmack Aftershock 2018
This time, at Aftershock 2018, Godsmack played on the Discovery stage in the early evening: darkness had fallen, the stage lights were on and... interesting. Sully Erna was perfectly lit, but the rest of the band lurked in the shadows, only giving us glimpses now-and-again. (After three or four songs, Sully Erna asked for the stage lights to be extinguished, and for the audience to provide the lighting... cell phones, lighters, flashlights. It was quite magical.)

People of Aftershock
Lit by the audience: Godsmack playing Aftershock 2018
Godsmack's Aftershock 2018 setlist included When Legends Rise (title song from their last album, released April this year), 1000hp, Voodoo, and ended with Bulletproof and I Stand Alone. (You can find the full setlist here.)

Sully Erna, vocals and guitar, Godsmack
Sully Erna, Godsmack, Aftershock 2018
For more information, visit Godsmack's website, Facebook and Twitter.

Full photogallery for Godsmack at Aftershock 2018, click here!

(For all the Monster Energy Aftershock reviews and photos, go to the home page.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Aftershock: Deftones, very much at home in Sacramento

Deftones, Aftershock 2018
Link for the photo gallery is at the end of this post.

Headlining the first day of this year's Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California, and playing to a sold-out, capacity crowd (60,000 people for the weekend, this year), and in their home town, Deftones and their unique, alternative-metal sound returned to Aftershock for the first time since 2015, much to the delight of the fans, many of whom had waited at the barricades all day in the blazing sun.

Chino Moreno, vocals, Deftones
Chino Moreno, Deftones, Aftershock 2018
The moment Chino Moreno arrived on stage, the crowd went wild.

In the crowd
Front-row fans, Deftones, Aftershock 2018
Stunning light show, challenging to photograph, but beautiful to watch, fully complementing the music.

Deftones, Aftershock 2018
See the Deftones setlist from Aftershock here.

Deftones photo gallery from Aftershock 2018? You bet... click here! (And if you want so see earlier shows, click here.)

Stephen Carpenter, guitar, Deftones
Stephen Carpenter, Deftones, Aftershock 2018
Saturday, November 3rd will see the first Dia de los Deftones, at Petco Park in San Diego, California. The lineup includes Deftones, Future, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Rocket From the Crypt, and others. It's the only date on their tour page right now... maybe they are working on the next album?
For more info see, Deftone's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Aftershock: Shinedown photos--and upcoming UK/European/USA tour!

Shinedown, Aftershock 2018
Link to the full photogallery is at the end of this post.

Shinedown took the stage at Aftershock late afternoon, 5.55 pm on Saturday: the sun was still glaring, in-your-eyes bright, but the band was the first of the day with a visible lightshow that grew better and better during the show, as the California sun set, gold and warm, behind the crowd.

Brent Smith, vocals, Shinedown
Brent Smith, Shinedown, Aftershock 2018
Huge crowd, and Brent Smith was off to meet them all, down into the crowd, third song into the set.

This was Shinedown's third appearance at Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California so far, and each performance has been as different as could be: the first, back in 2013, when they shocked-and-awed the crowd with an over-the-top, jaw-dropping, fantasy pyro show; the second, in 2015, where the boys looked more like college kids smartened up for Sunday dinner with a few flames thrown in here and there... and now Aftershock 2018, with lasers and mist and the background an intricate construction of lighting rigs.

Whatever the format, Shinedown always delivers an excellent performance.

Brent Smith, vocals, and Zach Myers, guitar, Shinedown
Shinedown, Aftershock 2018
I'll be seeing them again soon in Norfolk, England, UK, at the local university, and am already wondering what the show will be like in a smaller venue. Can't wait.

 All the European and UK tour dates are here: many (including all the UK dates) are already sold out (road trip to Russia anyone?) with a return to the USA in late December, beginning with three dates in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, (House of Blues Orlando), just before the New Year. Might appreciate the Florida weather after Russia in winter...

Click here for the setlist from Aftershock 2018, and right here for the full photogallery.

Here's the review from Shinedown's latest album, Attention Attention.

All of Toon's Tunes/Cameras and Cargos Shinedown photogalleries are here!

Shinedown, Aftershock 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

Aftershock: The Fever 333. Catch the fever. It's infectious. There will be no cure.

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, The Fever 333
The Fever 333
(Link to full photogallery is at the end of this post.)

If you read the Aftershock Preview, you will have seen my dilemma: which set to photograph/see/hear, Slash with Myles Kennedy, or The Fever 333? I wanted both, but they were on stage at exactly the same time: Slash on the Discovery stage, and The Fever 333 on the Capital stage at Monster Energy Aftershock 2018.

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, The Fever 333
The Fever 333 at Aftershock, 2018
In the end, the decision was made easy for me: only a few photographers were approved to photograph Slash, so I headed to the Capital stage... and so very happy I did.

The Fever 333
The Fever 333, boundless energy, strong message
I overheard the security team being briefed on what to expect from the band. Having seen Jason Aalon Butler's previous band, letlive, a couple of times, I had an inkling... but the show started with a lone, hooded figure, tattooed hands clasped, wearing a navy boilersuit, standing silent and still for several minutes while soundbites play. Then all hell is let loose as Jason Aalon Butler rips off the hood, drummer Aric Improta and guitarist Stevis Harrison leap onto the stage, and the protest, the demonstration, the show, begins. With sky-high leaps, both on stage and into the crowd, constant movement, several water bottles poured and sprayed, the energy is intense, the message electric, the crowd empowered.

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, The Fever 333
The Fever 333, Aftershock 2018
Right by the freeway bridge, with no backdrop between the performers and the blinding-bright sky, with concrete pillars and the metal of the Capital stage, it was the perfect setting for the gritty, fierce and high-power energy of The Fever 333.

The Fever 333
The Fever 333, Aftershock 2018
Some people think politics should be left out of music. Those same people do not share my musical tastes. Those people should probably avoid The Fever 333... because The Fever 333 are exposing and railing against the politics and culture that are the USA today. Against racism. Against misogyny. For human rights. Against abuse.

"Subversion is in the project’s dna. So is hip hop. So is punk. So is ART."

The Fever is here... catch it.

All the photos:

(In case you were watching Slash, you missed a treat. Check out The Fever 333 on YouTube; find them on their website, on Facebook, and catch them on tour... European and UK dates coming up very soon!!!)

Jason Aalon Butler, vocals, The Fever 333
Jason Aalon Butler, The Fever 333

Thursday, October 18, 2018

People of Aftershock 2018: thank you, thank you, thank you! (Loads of pictures: were you there?)

People of Aftershock
Aftershock 2018, Sacramento, California
There is a link to all the People of Aftershock photos at the end of this post.

It happened, again... seven years running, the People of Aftershock delivered and enjoyed a huge, enormous, fun weekend. And so, before we get to the perfomance photos, I want to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved:

- To the festival organizers, Danny Wimmer Presents, the PR team, the street team, to Sacramento's Discovery Park, and to everyone involved in creating, organizing, managing and delivering the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California. It was bigger than ever--and it sold out! That's huge!

People of Aftershock
Aftershock 2018, Sacramento, California
- To all of the performers... from those who opened the show each day as the crowds began to arrive, right through to the headliners with their rib-cracking, boisterous, moving-like-the-sea gigantic, thousands-and-thousands audiences. With a special call-out to those who performed in full, roasting-and-blinding sunlight throughout the afternoon, because despite the calendar saying October, it's still mighty hot in Sacramento in the heat of the day, and the hottest is late afternoon.

People of Aftershock
In safe hands at Aftershock
- To all the security staff who worked hard to keep us all safe and well-behaved, and who caught the crowdsurfers even though there were huge signs forbidding crowdsurfing (but maybe only if you have a specific hairdo). Signs which seemed to have been a deterrent early on, both days, but then heck, it's a festival, you crowdsurf, right, even on crutches or in your wheelchair! To all the folks from KSS and NES West and other teams who rescued those who wanted out from the crowd, and who handed out water to those dying of thirst waiting all day, up front at the barrier, for their favourite bands.

No crowdsurfing sign
No crowdsurfing with spiky hair
- To the cops who danced (I saw you, I did!) and who held up their phone-lights when Godsmack requested (you can't deny it) and who truly did community policing this weekend.

- To the first-aiders and first-responders who helped anyone who fainted, passed out, cracked a rib or fell out of a tree. (Yes you did. You fell out. I hope you are OK. You can't hide from YouTube.)

- To everyone who was kind to the photographers as we ran around like mad things, trying to see as many of the performers as possible. We appreciate it.
People of Aftershock
Aftershock 2018
- To the folks from The Music Experience for showing everyone how the music business works, and for giving such a rich insight and encouragement to so many young people. And to the peeps from FXCK Cancer for all that you do.

- To everyone who prepped, cooked and sold food and drink to the enormous crowd of hungry and thirsty people. There was something for everyone, even me.

People of Aftershock
- To all the volunteers who helped out in so many ways to keep the festival running, and to those who cleaned up all the debris left behind after the music had gone...

- To the guys and gals who operated the portapotty vacuum. We really appreciate you doing that. We don't want your job and we really, really, really give you a huge thank you. Seriously. Because clean loos make for a happy festival.

- And most of all... thank you to you, the people, the crazy, fun, adventurous, friendly, music-loving, loud, crowd of people without whom no festival would exist. You keep the music alive! Rock on!

Until next time... here is this year's People of Aftershock photo gallery. Are you there? And... when can we do this again??? (See this news article if you are in the USA--not visible outside.)

All the performance photos and reviews coming soon--watch this space, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

People of Aftershock
People of Aftershock 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Aftershock photos and review, coming very soon!

The Fever 333
The Fever 333 at Aftershock, Sacramento, California
A few photos from this weekend's Monster Energy Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California, can be found here:  Many more photos and review coming very soon... flying back to the UK today! Thank you to Danny Wimmer Presents for another fantastic weekend!

Bookmark for updates, and see for all the photo galleries!

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Struts, Thunderpussy--at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, November 11th

Luke Spiller, vocals, The Struts
Luke Spiller, The Struts, at City of Trees
Not only are the fabulous Struts returning to Sacramento, California, and playing at the Ace of Spades early next month (November 11th), but they are supported by Thunderpussy--it's going to be a wonderful show! It's already sold out so... if you don't have a ticket for the Sacramento show, check out other nearby shows here (e.g., Napa and San Francisco) and keep looking out for any available tickets.

The Struts--British rock at its outrageous, glamourous best. I first saw them, not in the UK but at Sacramento's City of Trees festival in 2016. If you haven't discovered them yet, listen to Could Have Been Me, Bulletproof Baby (brand new), Kiss This--for a great idea of their live show and this, Body Talks (featuring Kesha):

The Struts' new album, Young&Dangerous, will be released on 26th October and is available to pre-order here. Plenty of time to learn the newest songs before the show!

On tour with The Struts are four wonderfully-wild women of the west-- i.e., Seattle--called Thunderpussy. Here is Velvet Noose (produced by Pearl Jam's Mike McCready) from Thunderpussy's self-titled album, available now.

Torpedo Love is something different... and check out Badlands!

I hope you bag yourselves some tickets for this tour... not to be missed!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Aftershock preview... are you ready for this weekend?

First things first: make sure you have downloaded the Aftershock App. Use it to check performance times and lots more--build your own schedule, check the map, and much more!

And then, be there early! We know it's going to be insane for the headliners, but don't miss out on the bands earlier in the day--the entire weekend is going to be fantastic.

Several of the Aftershock bands were previewed here, for the weather-cancelled Louder Than Life, and as they are going to be playing this weekend I encourage you to check out this post for The Dose and Red Sun Rising. Also, check out this review of Jonathan Davis' show earlier this summer in London, UK... don't miss his appearance at Aftershock! And also, the Vinnie Paul Tribute with lots of artists participating!

And here are a few more of the earlier-in-the-day bands--check them out! :

The Fever 333, scheduled to play Aftershock at 4.45 Sunday on the Capital Stage. This is one of the difficult choices--The Fever 333 or Slash with Myles Kennedy, they will be playing at the same time, on the Discovery Stage... choices, choices!

Amigo The Devil: performing on Sunday at 12.40 on the Monster Energy stage, and then also at the afterparty in midtown at Goldfields, late on Sunday. Amigo The Devil has premiered a new video for the song, Cocaine and Abel, through Aftershock and you can see it here (just click!). His album Everything Is Fine will be released on October 19th and he kicks off the tour with these two Sacramento Aftershock shows. Here's another song:

Dirty Honey (the one from L.A.) will be the first band on the Monster Energy stage on Saturday, scheduled for 1 p.m. Should be a great start to the weekend!

Later on Saturday there's another decision to be made... GWAR, or Godsmack? I can't help you choose... but if you're looking for buckets-of-blood in a surreal, other-world, head for GWAR... check out the photos from a previous show in Sacramento here! (If you have forgotten your waterproof poncho, you might want to hang out with Sully Erna, instead.)

I know the hometown crowd is going to go insane for Deftones. Can't wait to see that, again.

Chino Moreno, vocals, Deftones
Chino Moreno, Deftones, Aftershock 2015
Can't wait for the entire weekend. Be there early.Be hungry and eat well (there will be loads to choose from!)  Amazing lineup, and so much to see and do!

See you Saturday!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A few months, a few changes: Sacramento's downtown, improvements and challenges

I'm back in Sacramento, California, for a few days--because family, and because Aftershock festival--and after only a few months away, I see changes. More beautiful murals have been added, thanks to Wide Open Walls (one example: Shepard Fairey's mural of Johnny Cash on 16th and L street is absolutely stunning). DOCO -- the weird name an abbreviation of  "downtown commons", better known as the area of town which now houses the Golden State arena, home to the Sacramento Kings and host to many big-name concerts, is really coming alive. Shops, cafes and restaurants are opening. There is a play area next to the arena doors where you can play large-scale draughts (checkers) and other games. The pedestrian area allows you to walk across several blocks, and all the way from Old Sacramento to 7th Street without encountering any traffic. The light rail (tramway) has stops close to the arena, so in theory, you don't need to even drive downtown. Today, a Sunday, with an event at the arena, DOCO was buzzing, with people walking all over the downtown grid--very different to the dead-after-5pm-and-at-weekends scene when I lived on 3rd street, a couple of years ago. The DOCO development may seem to be taking a long time (it is), but as several signs say--it's worth waiting for.

On the other hand... nothing changes. If anything, the downtown scene has deteriorated even further. This "other hand" is the one that pushes the kids in a stroller, holds onto a toddler, carries a shopping bag from the pharmacy on K street or grabs a coffee from a cafe on J, walks to the farmers' markets around the city, or to one of a tasty variety of food trucks at lunchtime. The view of a pedestrian in a town where the majority drive, park, and leave at the end of their working day. The hand attached to the person who sees and encounters all the many people who live on the streets--literally, on the hard concrete of the streets--of this city. In common with so many USA cities, Sacramento's population of street people is something that would totally horrify people in the UK, who are worried when a provincial town's number of humans "sleeping rough" reaches double digits.

When I first arrived in Sacramento during the summer of 2000, people used to joke about "downtown crazies". I naively thought that the tale of a guy waking up in his home, and finding a random stranger sitting on his couch, watching his TV and drinking his beer, and then just getting up and leaving was just that... a tale. American friends soon told me how so many people with mental health challenges (and in particular, military veterans, and on a huge scale in Los Angeles) had been turned out of care homes and, with nowhere to go for help, had ended up on the streets. It's hard to know where the drink and drugs problems end, and where the mental health issues begin, or which came first. There are used syringes on the sidewalk when you walk from downtown to Broadway; there are used syringes in Capitol Park. There are people sleeping on the grass in Capitol Park, Southside Park, Cesar Chavez Plaza. There are people who rely on public toilets being open, so that they can wash and use the loo and have a little dignity.

Spend any more than a few minutes walking the streets of Sacramento, and I guarantee that you will have an encounter that will make you smile, and another that will make you want to run for the hills.

In the space of a few days, I witnessed two women yelling insults at beings that only they could see. One of these women was disheveled, unwashed, and having a very loud and angry conversation all the way down 15th street from R towards the freeway (I encountered this same lady twice, while walking to the nearest Dimple Records to downtown,). The second was a well-dressed lady who had just spent a while washing and changing in the public toilets in the Capitol grounds, and then, for no reason that I could see, suddenly started yelling and cursing and making random death threats, while a young mother waited with her child locked in a cubicle, until the shouting woman had quietened down and then proudly walked out of the toilets and away.

I do not think either of these women are simply using drugs. They are dealing with challenges that most of us cannot imagine.

Both of these women seemed to be experiencing severe mental illness. I had no clue whatsoever what to do to help them. Calling the cops seemed ridiculous, and more threatening than helpful--while the toilet incident was, for a moment at least, scary, no harm was done--but neither of these women should not have to deal with these issues, alone, on the streets, with most people turning their eyes, and then their backs. I have taken first aid training many times, I know how to administer CPR, I have helped people having epileptic seizures, even coped with drug overdoses... but I have not an inking of what to do when faced with a stranger in the middle of a violent delusion.

(The next day, the woman from the public loos, she was asleep, fully and beautifully dressed, in the middle of the lawn in the Capitol.)

Capitol, Sacramento
The Capitol building sits in the middle of beatiful parkland in the center of downtown Sacramento
I have no magic answer for this side of the city of Sacramento. From my family history research, I know that only a century or so ago, people in the UK, (and with a much larger proportion of women than men) were locked up in the "Lunatic Asylum", sometimes for life, for crimes as simple as breaking a shop window. (That happened to a distant relative of mine: the judge said, "she is obviously a lunatic", and sent her off to Leicester asylum, where, several decades later, she died. A little more research showed that within a few short years prior to the shop window incident, my relative had given birth to three children, none of whom survived infancy. Today she might have been treated for post-natal depression and for bereavement-related depression, possibly cured, and for sure not locked away for life.)

The human race, worldwide, has made huge progress in dealing with mental health, and yet, the USA has cities with more and more people living outdoors and who desperately need, but are not receiving, one iota of the help that they could use. No matter how many 'homeless shelters' are provided, no matter how many care packages are handed out by well-meaning volunteers, nothing is going to help as much as proper mental health care, whether for addiction or schizophrenia or depression. Health care for all. Not for profit, but for the health of the city, the people, the nation. And then the pedestrians who are now starting to enjoy DOCO may expand their wanderings, and really enjoy visiting each and every public space that this beautiful city has to offer.

I said earlier that you'll see something that will make you happy, too. My example for today: this morning, as I started my walk along R street, I smiled at a street gentleman who was standing on a street corner. He smiled back, and told me I was beautiful. That made my morning: it's easy not to make eye contact downtown, but a smile costs nothing, and can be returned tenfold.

I will no doubt be travelling back-and-forth to Sacramento for many years to come. I expect to see the downtown continue to grow and flourish as the investment continues. I am looking forwards to seeing the vibrant art and music scene thrive. And I greatly, hugely and desperately hope to see that somehow, some way is found to give the street people the help, the care and the hope that every human being deserves.

Man on bench with statue, State Capitol
A visitor to one of the beautiful memorials in the Capitol grounds

Friday, October 5, 2018

Suicide prevention, mental health... we all play a part

Red Sun Rising recently released this video for their song, Stealing Life, and it would have been a good soundtrack for earlier this week, when we participated in the Sacramento Out of the Darkness walk: a walk to raise funds for suicide prevention. This walk around Sacramento, California, was organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Greater Sacramento Chapter, More walks are organized around California, and around the USA: find more information, support and help here:

Red Sun Rising are partnering with MusicCares in the USA, and Music Minds Matter in the UK, to promote mental health awareness. They say: "This song is about the aftermath of someone taking their own life. A topic that unfortunately hits very close to home with the band. That is why are excited to be able to raise money for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Being able to affect actual change with our music side by side with the charity that changed our lives personally is a dream come true." (Something that is important to recognise; mental health problems affect us all. Not only the people who very sadly end their own lives, or who struggle every day, but also the loved ones they leave behind, who struggle to help. And it can take a lifetime to learn to live with the loss.)

It's a subject that hurts. Reading the hand-written signs that floated on the gentle breeze, in front of the State Capitol, brought tears to my eyes. Reading the sign written in my daughter's hand, and by the hands of so many other people. Even the words I wrote myself, to the man who was once my husband. So many struggles, so much loss, and so much love still to give. So many people living on forever, in the hearts and minds of their friends and families: parents, spouses, partners, ex's, children, friends, colleagues, carers. I counted up my personal missing hearts, and there were way too many. Just one loss to a suicide is one too many. And seeing all the folks on this walk? It made me realise, perhaps for the very first time, just how many people on this planet, from all across our communities, regardless of age, status and income, cannot find a way to continue, and just how many other people wish they could find, or could have found, the key to help them carry on.

People wore beads, the colours indicating who they were walking for. Some carried photos of their lost loved ones, some carried signs: all carried a great desire to help prevent anyone else having to go through this sorrow.

What can we all do? We can reach out a hand. We can listen. We can talk about mental health, get rid of the stigma. We can talk about preventing suicide, make sure our loved ones know that no matter how bad things are today, one day in the future will be better... as long as you are here to see it. Because life on this earth matters, and hope is in every single breath. Helping someone who is visibly struggling is not always easy: a close encounter today, with someone with severe issues, a total stranger, reminded me just how very scary another person's problems can be. (Here's an important article which talks about this.) That's why there are people and organizations who are there to help. 

Here are a couple more organizations who can help:

Mental Health America (USA) but with lots of good info on their global website, including this page on helping someone else.