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OPENING THE MIC: CREATIVE SPACE #5 OF 2018
Monday 14th May 2018

By Joanne C. Hillhouse.

Open Mics are a place for creative expression and there have been many variations in Antigua over the years. Blackout, Traffic, Expressions, Wadadli Pen (which is still on every second Saturday at the Best of Books bookstore) just to name a few. The latest incarnation is a Thursday evening special at Tannins – a verandah style restaurant on the southern side of the island. A little word play to go with your wine, beer, cocktail, or dinner as cars, but not too many, breeze by, and a lively breeze tickles the palms, healthy looking palms I might add considering the current state of palms on the island. Not a bad night out for a week night.

The vibe at open mics varies – the venue and the host have something to do with this. Heads up, Barbara, the host of the Tannins open mic, dubbed Rhythm and Rhyme is big on audience participation. So amidst the planned readings by special guest London Rocks author Brenda Lee Browne and another scheduled performance – more on that in a minute – Barbara was prompting people hanging out to participate. A couple of jokes from one, impromptu speaking by another, a group chain writing exercise – by which I mean random strangers stringing a story together just because.  The story went something like this. Carnival, a churchy but rebellious teen, the revelry and excitement, an angry dad, and just when things were about to come to a head – or, literally, blows – Carnival worked its magic…and the gathered laughed their belly full. That is to say there was a fairly loose, near weekend, after work vibe about the whole affair.

Barbara paced it well, leaving little room for dull spots, and punctuated it with readings of her own – Anansi, of course.

There was at least one other reading but lest you think the night was solely about words, it’s time to talk a little bit about Divine Roots. They come from Rastafari with a neo soul vibe, head wrapped like Badu, sounding a bit like her too; two young sistren whose recent performances have included Soothe, an annual talent showcase and lime, and Empress Menen’s Dawtas of the Soil Appreci-love Day on the Nyabinghi Theocracy School Grounds. On this night one sang and one did spoken word, partnered with J & J Entertainment, two young brothers who also brought their fresh voices – one a voice worlds older than him, one full of rhythm and energy. All four brought a smoothed out jazz club vibe and youthful self-assurance; their contributions as welcome as the breeze. The young women – creative partners for four years, performing partners for the past year, are Princess Ria and Hempress Divine, the young men are Joel and Jo Jo; there’s room for growth, but listen out, you’ll be hearing more from them.

Attendee review (via facebook): “most enjoyable. very relaxing. The young talent wowed us all…such beautiful voices…”

It’s too early to tell what the identity of this open mic – which will be a regular Thursday t’ing – will be, but it’s so far hinted that it will be a mix of structured and impromptu – organized but open to fresh voices, with a mix of styles and good vibes.

Rhythm and Rhyme enters a space that is too often void – the literary arts being the stepchild as far as arts attention goes; the Carnival and performing arts being most showered with favour. Browne spoke on this during the Q & A portion of her presentation – about Antigua and Barbuda’s talents and efforts in this area; the ways it has led and yet, through lack of substantive support, fallen behind. Rhythm and Rhyme isn’t setting itself up to be the savior of the literary arts, no single event can be, but it has rippled the waters, inviting writers and others with a creative vibe, to wade in.

This sponsored post originally appeared on Jhohadli; contact Jhohadli/Joanne C. Hillhouse if you wish to sponsor a future post in support of coverage of Antiguan and Barbudan arts and culture. All Rights Reserved.


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