Checking In: Brannen Temple Stays Hyper Vigilant
“These are strange times with heightened social unrest”
By Raoul Hernandez,
11:47AM, Wed. Nov. 11, 2020
“Max Roach,” said Brannen Temple, sitting in my kitchen big as life. “My father was trying to hip me to him, and he brought me a Clifford Brown/Max Roach record. That was it.” So name-checked the homegrown drummer at the table almost two decades ago. A percussion lesson by one of Austin’s finest beatkeepers then ensued on said surface.
Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?
Brannen Temple: My fiancé Amanda and I, along with our property landlord/friend, have been sheltering in place in a rental downtown that sadly and abruptly my family will need to move out of December 2020. Theoretically, we (also including my kids here biweekly) mostly felt safe, but these are strange times with heightened social unrest. There are many closet racists that have been green lit to promote their brand of tyranny.
I go on walks/runs daily and have to stay hyper vigilant and aware against this potential, but we all know it’s their fear and ignorance.
AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?
BT: A local jazz show March 12 was the last gig, a weekly residency. The following week, I was headed to Europe and back to the U.S. for about a month with Coco Rosie, kind of an electronic, folk, operatic, hip-hop duo. Then, I was coming home only to head back to Europe and India with my friends in the funk/jazz juggernaut Bobby Sparks Galactica for about three weeks.
That would have led into summer touring with Ruthie Foster and others, plus countless local dates with Red Young, the Peterson Brothers and Diakonos Ministries, and much more. Income became nonexistent.
Personally, for three months the shutdown stopped dual household visitation of my two kids coming back and forth. No one really knew enough about COVID, so I wanted to prevent spread. My children started out here in my home over spring break – the beginning of the shutdown – and should have stayed in place as their mother had just returned from NY, which at the time was a corona epicenter.
Viciously, she wielded a Gov. Abbott affidavit about custody and threatened calling the cops on me if I didn’t relinquish my kids back to her. Really? Like anyone needs extra stress?
Like a reasonable, law abiding, American Black man needs that in 2020?
AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?
BT: Live music is vibration. To me, it comes from a spiritual place. It comes from love. What happens when you don’t receive love for an extended period?
Music exists for humanity to reach and express emotions unattainable by many without it. For people to forget what that nourishment does for their spirits is futile. Like it or not, it is essential.
I’ve had opportunities to play since March and when those musical tones hit the ears of the fans, I see gratitude. I feel gratitude. Gratitude is love and what’s wrong with that?
AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?
BT: With our industry being shut down, I am grateful and thankful for all the donations from fans, organizations, various grants or gifts, unemployment, and many other goodhearted people that have given so much of themselves to see others like me survive or even thrive.
Work was nonexistent for weeks. During this time, I’m thankful to have shared my musical talents on recordings from my home studio. Also, I played livestreams and video production shoots, and a few shows here and there.
Spiritually, they’ve all been amazing and welcomed. Financially too. But we are still not at 100% financially, so the struggle is very real.
AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you in times of hardship?
BT: I’ve not really listened to music in years. A few things here and there. I’m in a place where I want to focus on my own thoughts. Where I’m preparing for my present, personally and musically.
I’m very invested at this point to redefine myself as a more compassionate, understanding, and loving human. I feel that’s what’s needed inside my family as a dad and a husband, and as a man in this world. A work in progress.
Check out the entire Checking In series.