By ANDRU BELL
A year ago, we started with a mission to create a weekly showcase for Sacramento’s artists that would help cultivate the up and coming voices of the creative community and build a training ground for the next generation of performers of all types.
This has got to be one of the coolest experiments I’ve ever been involved in.
In the past year the stage at Microphone Mondays has played host to poets that will break your heart, comics that will make you laugh until you cry, and musicians that will give you goose bumps.
Every week is an uplifiting, no-fronts dissection of art as we know it. The energy and the talent varies so much from week to week that you never know what to expect, other than incredible energy, a supportive crowd, and honesty.
That’s what I’m most proud of when it comes to Microphone Mondays. The honesty. From the positive feedback to the criticism, artists know where they stand at Microphone Mondays. We’ve had people eaten alive by the audience for everything from rapping over their own tracks to performance habits like avoiding eye contact or not engaging the crowd at all. And we’ve had other performers realize potentials they weren’t even aware of until touching our stage.
It has been amazing week-in and week-out to be able to organize and host the most open mic in the city. If you haven’t been out, you should come check it out. I’ll give you ten reasons why.
Here are my top ten personal favorite moments from the first year of Microphone Mondays.
10. Every time that I get to airhorn someone. You all have no idea how long I’ve been complaining about people cuffing the mic in the back of hip hop shows to anyone that will listen. I had daydreamed about the moment I would be able to gong an emcee for cuffing the mic for as long as I can remember. You make my dreams come true on a weekly basis. The airhorn just seems so much more Hip Hop than a gong. Sorry gongers.
9. Swain Turay. Swain Turay started coming through MM really early on, and from the first time he spit his 16 bars acapella he carried the same energy whether he was rocking for 6 people or 60, taking every criticism and suggestion and running with them. Soon he was sharing the bill with fellow MM alumni Tigga T and The Kool Cats (Make us proud!) at shows all around town. It’s awesome to watch young emcees grow and to be able to be a part of that process. Now if he would just come out to the studio and let us help him record his album…
8. The arrival of Reela. I thoroughly enjoy when an act just sort of throws people off and out of their comfort zone. The first time I called Reela to the stage, I’m not going to lie, I got jostled with the rest of the crowd. It is the reason he has become one of my favorite MM regulars. If you’ve never seen him do his thing, it’s sort of like watching a Shaolin monk take a McDonald’s hostage. Verbally.
7. Young Andrew’s first Cumbia Sax solo. None of us knew what to expect when he stepped to the stage. I’m not sure he knew what to expect at that moment. Amp One started playing some rhythms and it came like second nature as the whole Sol Collective erupted into a dance floor. Dom P. even brought out the drum from the attic. It was one of the best sneak attack performances MM has ever seen.
6. Cowboy and a Thug’s Monday night hoe-down. The first time Sac Town Recordz Cowboy and a Thug stopped by to show us how wild the west really is, the playful duo completely ambushed the audience with “Rodeo Hip Hop” leaving the crowd with no option but break into a square dance in the middle of the show.
5. Tessa Evans’ feature. Tessa co-signed MM early on. For being such a superstar she really is incredibly humble and down for the cause. If you’ve been watching her trajectory in the mainstream music business, it would be completely understandable for someone of her caliber to be too busy for an open mic. Especially one that was just starting and had a wildly unpredictable audience…
4. Tim Logan’s first comedy set at MM. I’d put the word out that I REALLY wanted comedians. Tim came through and KILLED and then spread the word like wild fire about our room among the Sac comedy community introducing us to the likes of Johnny Taylor, Daniel Humbarger, Mike E. Winfield, and more. Cheers mate.
3. TPR Night/The arrival of the Hater Screen. It was like the star’s aligned. Sacramento’s most comedic rap crew featuring the night The Hater Screen makes it’s first appearance at Mic Mondays and TPR showed us all how to properly use it. A night that will truly live in MM infamy.
2. SAYS Griots This has always been one of my favorite traditions and I hope it continues long throughout the coming years. Special thanks to Dr. Vajra Watson, one of my personal heroes, who showed me so much love and support from the beginning for MM. We still out here! Also thanks to the one and only Coco Blossom and the 2012 Sacramento Area Youth Speaks slam team, their coaches, and mentors for gracing our stage throughout the last year.
1. The Alien Lands on night 1. Microphone Mondays would not be what it is without AlienLogik, the man behind the boards making everyone sound good. The first night as I came to the end of a very short list I looked at him and our introduction was a desperate me saying “Come on man… I know you do SOMETHING.” And he went to his car, brought in his Ableton controller and the rest is history. He is the unsung hero of Protolanguage and the backbone of Microphone Mondays. Not to mention one of the best engineers that Sac Hip Hop has ever seen.