by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Augusta Collins is one of the Bluesmen who still roam around Oakland playing the music of his generation, one of the classical music forms indigenous to Black people of the U.S. Many of today’s young people do not know that in the ‘40s and early ‘50s, West Oakland’s Seventh Street was one of the Blues hubs west of the Mississippi.
M.O.I. JR: How did you become interested in the Blues?
Augusta Collins: My uncles. They started it all. I was 4 years old and my uncles would jam at my parents’ home every Sunday in the 1950s. I wanted to be like my uncles and play Blues guitar.
M.O.I. JR: When did you start playing it?
Augusta Collins: I first touched the Blues around 1955. I could hear the words of expression … feel them too … deep expression. Call it the Blues if you want.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your newly released DVD?
Augusta Collins: Yes, I can. The DVD was shot in Oakland, at 23rd, 73rd, 106th etc., and in San Francisco, in the Tenderloin, at Sixth and Market etc. My DVD was directed by Jehnovah Carlisle, music by Augusta Lee Collins. Our message is simply 1) You can go far and 2) Believe in yourself.
M.O.I. JR: What does it sound like?
Augusta Collins: Blues with a touch of Augusta Lee Collins.
M.O.I. JR: What are you doing visually on it?
Augusta Collins: First of all, the music video was shot in black and white. Jehnovah Carlisle is a fine young visionary, working his shadows, the lights – all natural lighting – masterfully. Great story teller, too. Jehnovah is only 24 years old. We talking about a Spike Lee-plus here.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about your upcoming DVD release party?
Augusta Collins: Yes, I will perform my music and there will be a showing of my latest music video on a large screen and there will be a Q&A period. It will be a great time for all.
M.O.I. JR: When and where?
Augusta Collins: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, 695 14th St., Oakland. No cover.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you decide to do your party in Oakland at the African American Museum?
Augusta Collins: My mother used to say, “When the door opens, walk right on in, son.” Well, the door is open.
M.O.I. JR: Where will you be performing next?
Augusta Collins: I will be at Pizza Pazza, 3905 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, Jan. 31, no cover, 6:30-9:30 p.m. every other Friday. On Saturday, Feb. 8, I’ll be at Chicha Bistro, 1544 Webster St., Alameda, no cover, 6-9 p.m.
M.O.I. JR: How can people stay up with you online?
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.