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This show is in it’s 5th year, I have only recently become involved, but am I ever glad to be able to share with such an amazing group of people. Run by George “The Urban Jibaro” Torres and Juan “Papo Swiggity” Santiago, this show aims to continue the flow of the original Nuyorican movement.
The organizers refer to this event as a cultural showcase, a name that is well deserved. I first attended this event about 6 months ago. Amazement is the only way I can describe how I felt. Poets performed, musicians performed, teachers read, there were several musical acts, large and small, beautiful people and high energy. Oh, how can I forget, SPANISH FOOD!
When I performed here, I fed off of the energy of my Latino brothers and sisters, because if you know Latinos you know we are definitely high energy. That being said, though the show is definitely Latino themed, you do not have to be Latino or speak the Spanish language to thoroughly enjoy the show. There were white folks and black folks and even non-Spanish speaking Latinos in the audience, and they too fed off of the energy and vibe here. All are welcome, so do not become hung up or intimidated by the name or theme, “we speaky English”.
At this show was the first time I saw Lemon Andersen perform, I remember looking at him and saying to myself, “Wow, that guy was pretty good, I’ll have to say hi and compliment him on his entertaining piece”. Little did I know that this man was writing and performing on Def Poetry Jam before the thought had ever crossed my mind to get out there and perform my work. Keep in mind, to me this was just another poet like me, that just happened to sound great, nothing more. I had no idea who this dude was when I approached him. So I went over to Lemon and said hi, he appeared guarded and suspicious, you could see the experience in his eyes. He took me in with a silent look and nodded, I took the hint, I said “You were great man” and I walked away. Later I realized that he was a well known poet, a celebrity in this field, I concluded he may have been suspicious of my intent, and rightfully so. I later reached out to Lemon and let him know I had no idea who he was that night when I said hello. I explained that I approached him solely on the merit of the piece I heard that night. He seemed to appreciate that.
In addition to Lemon I saw many other performers, including this amazing musical group (name escapes me at the moment) that was playing instruments from our native lands, making beautiful music. Of course I met Papo, George, La Sensacion, Boricua Goddess and the one they call Tiny, CJ Noble. I bumped into a few recognize Latino faces like Tatu from XMental Inc. and the Xmen Crew.
Performing here felt natural to me, I felt at home, and this was the first time I could read a piece that I wrote entirely in Spanish. Though I must admit, this audience was a bit more intimidating than other supportive audiences that I have performed for. They’ll support you too, but I sensed that if you stand up in front of this group, you better bring it for real. Latinos demand energy, and you better bring that fire and deliver!
I remember the reaction of the large, rowdy group when I went up. They appeared uncertain, and confused. During the entire show I was sitting down, quiet, nervous, minding my own business, almost invisible. When this “white boy” went up, no one knew what to expect, a few of them later told me they were shocked to hear I even SPOKE Spanish, but moreso to see me rhyme and spit in Spanish. By the end of my piece, everyone’s jaw had dropped and they were all on their feet, clapping, screaming, cheering me on, my piece was a big hit with migente! A male, I believe they called him Captain America (Angel) came up to me and kissed me on the top of the head stating how beautiful my piece was. Everyone was giving me props, I felt so proud and honored that I could impress this tough crowd. A female that was sitting next to me, Jakira, who must of had stepped on me like 20 times that night said to me “Let me find out that this quiet white boy who I’ve been stepping on all night sitting is the star of the show, why didn’t you say anything”? I had no idea how to respond, say anything about what? I’m a guest hoping to be accepted, not sure what I could say, I’m just humbled, all I could say was thank you for the kind words. We have since then become friends.
I have performed at many places in the city, and I will say this, the Bronx and Brooklyn have definitely shown me the most sincere love. Bronx Stories, when I performed “Dear Momma” for my mother, and Capicu when I performed “Power Struggle” as a Spanish poem. This saturday I will, for the first time ever, perform “Power Struggle” to music as it was written. Naturally I will do this at the upcoming Capicu show. I’m super excited and nervous, I’ve been dying to get back out to this show.
If you are in the Williamsburg area tomorrow, July 28th, at 7pm, come out and join us for this amazing event. If not, sign up at the website to keep abreast of future shows and to enter to win some Capicu goodies! Capicu is a monthly show, runs on a given Saturday at “LP and Harmony” located at 683 Grand street between Manhattan Ave & Graham Ave, Williamsburg Brooklyn. The cover is $10, a great bargain for the amount of show you get. Please come out and help us keep this one of the most amazing, long standing open mics in the city!
Quoting Papo Swiggity “ELEVACION”!
Growing Up Bronx