Artists in their Own Words: Bo Dollis Jr.
Who: Bo Dollis Jr.
Artist’s chosen location for interview: At his barber shop on Louisiana with his daughter next to him the whole time
Q: What’s a memory you have from second grade?
A: A lot of my memories from second grade have to do with my dad. That was around the time that I started following my dad around for Mardi Gras. That is one of my biggest memories because I would follow my dad around, and then people would come to the house before Mardi Gras to make the Indian suits and things like that.
It’s kind of crazy because I only knew my dad as my dad, but him being the person that he was, a lot of people looked up to him. I didn’t realize that until I was older, and that was a weird thing to realize. But in second grade I would look at him and just think ‘That’s my dad’ even though other people were going crazy over him.
In fact, I didn’t even pay attention to all that celebrity stuff with him. When I was older, though, I started to realize who he was, learn the traditions, and it was a new experience.
Q: How do you find harmony?
A: I’m always striving for harmony because it keeps getting worse and worse out here every day with the robberies, the carjackings, and all the different crime. The crime keeps getting closer and closer to home. I know a few people who have been injured or been shot before. Some survive and some do not.
Getting the energy to throw the Stop the Violence Concert, wasn’t a problem. This is something that already should have been done. I think it is just time for me to come out and talk about the nonsense that is going on.
It was a lot of things that got me thinking and organizing this concert. Finding out and talking to my godmother about her attack was a part of that. Then the next day I was driving and right here at Shakespeare Park I see people running all over the place in a panic. This is 3:00 in the daytime. People are playing basketball, children are on the slides, and then about two seconds later I see grown people running with guns. I saw people holding their children and running. There are people with babies and strollers, and they are running.
At that point it just tipped me over. I knew I had to do something. That’s when I started planning for the concert because something has to be done.
Q: What is something you wish would come back in style?
A: I’m thinking that some of the clothes from back in the day could come back, and I would be alright with that. The shirts with the big collars. I think they were called butterfly collars. Those could come back.
A lot of the shirts from the past were nice, but some of them were a little bit too much. Although, a lot of them were really cool.
[Fresh Prince of Bel-Air comes on the TV in the background]
I don’t think I’d bring anything back from Fresh Prince. His clothes were really bright. Even when he had the uniform he turned it inside out. Too bright for me.
Q: Tell me something that you think will change someone’s life?
A: These days it seems like the scary things change peoples’ lives. That’s part of why I’m doing this concert. I’m having people come there and tell their stories about when they got shot, what happened to them after they got shot, mothers who lost their children, and all different kinds of stories.
I think that will probably scare people and make them think about getting straight.
Sometimes we have to be scared into doing the right thing. A lot of times these days, people do what they see. I’m trying to make it obvious that the bad things that they see are the things they don’t want to be doing.
It’s weird because by scaring someone you show people where they could be. They could be in jail or dead, and I don’t think anyone wants to lose their life. That’s the thing that will scare anybody straight. If you see something that you’re doing, and you see someone else do it and get horrible consequences, that will scare you straight.
Q: When have you most felt like a spectator in life?
A: When I’m not busy I try to be a spectator a lot. I might just go on Decatur and go walk. I love to be a tourist. If I don’t have to work, I can just wander under the bridge and go be like everyone else.
And I love to go out and watch music. There are a lot of people that I look up to in the music world that have been around me forever. I love to go out and see them play, especially musicians like Big Al Carson. That’s someone I look up to because he always has the crowd into him. Rockin’ Dopsie always has everyone into him. He’s very energetic.
I took little bits from the people I grew up around. When I’m on stage, I don’t stay still. I may be on top of a speaker one minute and then out in the crowd the next minute. Looking at Dopsie, I am amazed by that. With Big Al, he might have a crowd singing, and I do that as well.
It’s pretty cool, though, when you tell a crowd to put their hands up and they do it. When I was performing with my dad I started doing that, and he started liking it. I started doing it more and more, and then I started doing it at my own shows. At one point I tell people to put their hands up, I tell them to jump, and then they do it.
That’s when I thought, ‘Well, I must be getting somewhere.’
It’s so fun. I can barely explain it.
You can check out and learn more about Bo Dollis Jr. as well as hear his music at the Stop The Violence concert, which will be taking place on June 5, 2016 at The Carver Theater. The Stop the Violence event opens at 4pm with a host of sports and arts organizations that are participating in the hopes of signing up kids who would like to learn something new, challenge themselves, and stay off the streets. The show starts at 7:00 P.M. and is free and open to the public. The lineup includes: James Andrews, Bo Dollis Jr. & The Wild Magnolias, Hot 8 Brass Band, Shamarr Allen, Treme Brass Band, Big Chiefs Kevin Goodman, Alfred Doucette, and Otto, Gaynielle Neville, Tonya Boyd Cannon, Jason Neville, Charmaine Neville, E'Dana Richardson, Coppa6ix, and Red Hot Brass Band.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.