walking into the blue ox on tuesday, i felt damn good. monday at 13 was a joy with a feature that really left it all onstage, abena making me love her even more than before and a pair of impromptu reunions.
work was solid that day. i got a lot done with a minimum of hassle and made a new phone buddy thanks to the “quito bus story” (ima have to drop that one on y’all sometime soon) and to top this all off, i actually got to the blue ox on time!
ray & the mona passage showed up early. meaning we had all the tools in place for sound.
the game plan for the night was laid out and it worked pretty damn well. we started 15 mins past our scheduled start time which was not unexpected. the first half of the open mic went a lil slow and that was also anticipated. so far so good with the only wrench in the machine comin from some loudmouth at the bar that was kind enough to leave when i came up to him and his friend. brave? nah, i had more protection than tom brady with me. ;-) this may be a good time to point out that the ox was packed to the gills. fire hazards, cool for the ego but not cool for a show, jus sayin.
the mona passage came up next. from the jump this was a chance to jump into unknown territory. i know that hard rock is not everyone’s cup of tea and i knew this was their first outing as a band. i also seriously dug it and would pay some cash to see bon and the crew on a bigger stage with better sound. the percussion was infectious, the bass was pumpin (but understated), the lead guitar was a bit ambitious (i.e. bon needs to chill a bit) and im damn sorry that we missed out on the vocals. mad respect to raymond daniel for keeping the sound together and balanced. he was lookin all poised and shit but the reality of it was that he was MAD sick and he was doin the job of three people. again, mad respect.
we go into the break still only 15 mins behind. nice!
ray gives up his feature spot so we can fit more people in on the open and he can recuperate. a true win/win situation. scot lee williams, who also lent a hand with sound, represented synonymUS lovely alongside vandana. still relatively on schedule.
open mic part two. 13 mofos in record time! hooah, bitches! and just when i was hittin a groove… a 2nd heckler. la hondurena was quite the fool. there always has to be something.
maya azucena was THE perfect capper for the night. this woman is a true artist. i’ve seen her rip it in front a rikers class of 20, a packed bar13, an out of control bowery poetry club, a loisaida speak easy and now the blue ox. wherever she goes, she always brings her A game. simply amazing.
so this bad boy is in the record books with a minimum of drama or stress. cool. this show was supposed to be a complete 180 from last years jam. on the real, i couldnt put together a pure poetry feature that would top miguel algarin and mayda del valle so i went with the music angle. i also didnt think we have fostered enough new voices in year two to justify a closed mic that didnt look like a clone from last year. hence, full open mic. A big step for ‘el manda todo‘ to let the universe dictate the flow like that.
and then here come the carpet-micers. in full effect, i may add. here is the deal, if you never come through as an open micer or audience member and then think that im gonna band backwards to get you on the mic, then you are just straight stupid. this isnt me flexing. a few weeks back at boricua college i got “mic blocked” (whats up with me and the new lexicon this week?) the host asked the organizer if the nice gentleman that trooped from the bronx could get down, expanding the open from 4 people to 5, and she politely said “no” they only scheduled for three and they couldnt push it further.
was i disappointed? hell yeah.
did i understand? sure.
should i have put her on my shit list and walk out cuz i wasnt going to grace boricua college with my profound words? only if i wanted to be a dick.
did i stick around and support? fuck yeah
is this me being magnanimous and bigger than life? no, its just simple courtesy.
when i announced that i couldnt fit anybody else into the mic i had one mofo give me the ‘you gots to be kiddin look,’ and that, party people, is the shit that makes my beard gray.
back to the positive, shouts again to ray and scot for keeping the sound in effect, ed garcia behind the camera, ditto for malo media, past features that came out to support, mic regulars that came out to support and the rest of the crew for putting up with my bossiness for another year.
the most important thing that i walked away from on tuesday was that anniversary shows are a necessary evil. we have to always remember to never put the cart in front of the horse. our shows are not an excuse to have a big jam where people can look at us and say ‘that was amazing.’ it is not the goal of acentos to put on a good anniversary show every year– our goal is to put on the best poetry showcase every second and fourth tuesday. punto. for me, this last jam was a tool to get people to believe what i believe, that a lil poetry can change your life for the better.