August is Oakland’s Joe Capers Month: an interview wit’ filmmaker Naru Kwina

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

On Saturday, Aug. 31, Oakland will host a reception concluding Joe Capers Month, named after a rarely heard of but very integral part of the early Bay Area music scene. He was a blind multi-instrumentalist and producer who worked with Tony Toni Tone and Digital Underground, among others. The Joe Capers Month Reception is at 2168 40th Ave., Oakland, from 1-3 p.m.

Naru Kwina, Leroy Moore and others are working on a documentary on this underground legend to make sure that his contributions are remembered. Check out Naru Kwina in his own words …

M.O.I. JR: Who was Joe Capers and what was his impact on the Bay Area music scene?

Naru: Joe Capers was a music engineer, studio owner, musician and all around great person. He made it affordable for young artists in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s to record and learn how to mix music in a professional studio setting. He was also blind, which made what he did even more remarkable.

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Joe-Capers-with-his-dog, August is Oakland’s Joe Capers Month: an interview wit’ filmmaker Naru Kwina, Culture Currents He was also a father, grandfather and friend to almost everyone he met.

M.O.I. JR: What made you want to do a movie about him?

Naru: Leroy Moore did an event in 2010 in Atlanta to honor Joe. He found out that I knew him, and somehow I thought about doing a documentary about his life.

M.O.I. JR: You are working with Leroy Moore, who does a lot to bring disabled Black issues to the forefront. Why is that an important feature of this film?

Naru: Showing disabled people in a positive light, as well as having normal needs and dreams, is inspirational to other disabled people, as well as anyone else.

M.O.I. JR: What is Joe Capers Day about? When is it? How did you go about getting it?

Naru: It’s actually Joe Capers Month. It will be a time to celebrate and remember Joe for those who knew him. It will also be a time to learn about Joe for those who may not have had the privilege of knowing him.

We will celebrate this year at my home in East Oakland, on Saturday, Aug. 31, and grow it bigger every year. Leroy Moore and I wrote a proposal to the City for a Joe Capers Day but were awarded an entire month instead. It was Leroy who did all the phone calling and email writing to make sure it got done.

M.O.I. JR: Who do you plan to feature in your documentary that will help sculpt the life of Joe Capers?

Naru: Along with members of his family and friends, we also have some of the artists he worked with, like MC Hammer, Shock G from Digital Underground, Cassidine, CMT and many more.

M.O.I. JR: Can you explain your creative process in making this movie?

Naru: This is my first time making a film, so I started with contact people who knew Joe.

I put together a great team – Leroy Moore, Quentin Scales and Dedoceo Habi – to help with production, filming and editing. We started with interviews, did b-role shots around Oakland and started asking random people if they’d ever heard about Joe Capers.

We are working on the sound track and voice overs, as well as finishing up some surprise shots. I am doing most of the interviews in a sit-down conversational approach.

M.O.I. JR: When do you plan to finish the doc? What’s next?

Naru: We hope to finish filming by the end of 2013, then begins the editing process. We hope to release it by August 2014.

We are currently putting together a fundraising campaign. If anyone wants to help, checks can be made out to Alternative Minds Foundation 501c3 (Joe Capers Legacy Fund), 2168 40th Ave., Oakland, CA 94601.

M.O.I. JR: How do people stay up with you on this project?

Naru: You can check our Facebook page, There’s also our non-profit page,

You can also reach me, Naru Kwina, at (510) 842-3324 or And look for the Joe Capers website in early 2014.

Thanks for doing this, JR, it means a lot to me.

The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every other Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at