1.13.2007

poetic nights

When first visiting Portland, one may find, on the surface, a town mostly inhabited by crunchy/hippy/health freaks and yuppie emo kids. While the city prides itself on being progressive and diverse, one must seek out the supposed diversity, because it isn't always easy to find. It is hard to find a music venue that doesn't mostly host emo and indie rock bands, as well as old-timey mountain jam bands.

I have no problem with these genres, but the scene gets old. It seems like the only other alternative is to go to some club downtown and immerse yourself in frat boy/sorority girl culture, surrounding yourself with guys in neatly pressed collared shirts, and girls with fake tans and short skirts. That's why last Thursday, when my friend Iese invited me to see him perform at Ohm, Oldie and I jumped on the opportunity to see some live spoken word/slam poetry and hip hop/neo soul/jazz fusion.

The club, Ohm, is tucked away in a dark corner of Old Town near the Skidmore fountain. The setting was part Southside Chicago jazz club, part beatnick San Francisco. It was a place where someone donning a slick black suit and fadora hat could sit next to someone in Adidas and a Roca Wear hoodie. On Thursdays, the club hosts poetic nights, a chance for local poets, emcees, and musicians to speak their souls to a fairly diverse crowd of 25-35 year olds. On this particular night, there was an artist rapping an ode to Tupac to a slowed down, jazzy rendition of the "To Live and Die in LA" beat; there was a woman singing neo-soul accapella, sounding as good as the likes of Jill Scott or India Arie; there were poets talking about love and war; there was even an artist, named Hussein, painting next to the stage while others performed. And then, there was Iese, also known as Seattle.

Iese was the only artist to perform without a mic. The impact of his lyrics, as well as his energy and the forcefullness of his voice, more than compensated for the lack of amplifier assistance. It was, of course, by his choice that a mic was not used. The way he saw it, only those that wanted to hear him should have to. He spoke of hip hop culture, revolution, and our repressive, corporate society. For those that were listening, he took the spotlight and shut the place down. For those that weren't listening, they missed an opportunity to be inspired. To hear some of Iese's (Seattle) work, you can check his myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/seattlethekejonamazadithe

1 comment:

porksy said...

Checked out Seattle's "myspace" and was wowed by his words and artistry. A very insightful friend you have there. Glad you included him in your blog.