Open mic night creates safe space for expression

By Ivan Cazares

Local artist shared their poetry and music during the 18th annual season opener of the open mic, Tuesday Night Cafe on April 5 at The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.

“This is a special night for us. We don’t usually have such a nice venue,” host Johneric Concordia said.

Tuesday Night Cafe is one of the longest-running free arts and performance series in Los Angeles, and the oldest-running Asian-American open mic space in the country.

The volunteers did a good job of involving the audience, and the audience was respectful toward every participant. The volunteer sound technicians provided quality sound throughout the event.

The event is usually held outdoors at the Aratani Courtyard/Union Center for the Arts.

“It’s like coming home. It’s a unicorn of a space. It feels very comforting,” participant Jenevieve Ting said.

The themes of the performances included immigration, family and identity.

Performers read poems, performed magic tricks and played music. They also took some time to talk about what influenced their art.   

The open mic section is preceded by programed performances by artist such as Shin Kawasaki. Kawasaki is a Los Angeles based guitarist who moved from Japan in 1999. Kawasaki showcased a unique guitar playing style, which was energetic and enjoyable.

Open mic performers included a man from India who goes by the name Juzth. He performed in his native language and English. Juzth has been in the country for a little over a month. His voice was soothing, and made his performance enjoyable even though the majority of the lyrics were in a foreign language.

Intermissionary music was provided by resident DJs such as DJ WaxStyles.

Mike Nailat,aka DJ WaxStyles founded Sessions Los Angeles, a music writing, production, recording and DJing program for youth and young adults.

DJ WaxSyles played mostly old school hip-hop and created a mellow atmosphere for the event.

Tuesday Night Cafe is hosted by the Tuesday Night Project.       

Tuesday Night Project is an Asian-American grassroots and volunteer-based organization dedicated to providing spaces for people to express themselves artistically.

It is a community of artists, organizers, activists, professionals, independent business owners, educators and community members.

Concordia said Tuesday Night Cafe is a place for the people of the greater Los Angeles to tell their stories.

“We’ve been waiting for you to tell your story for 18 years,” said  Concordia. He also said that the person’s race did not matter.

He explained that the first Friday Night Cafe was inspired by his friend, Arnold Moreno.

Moreno died after he had to be taken to three different hospitals before he was treated, because he didn’t have health insurance. Moreno was of Salvadoran descent.Concordia is of Filipino descent.

The series will continue until October on the first and third Tuesday of every month.

Those interested in participating should sign up at 7 p.m. and performances will start at 7:30 p.m. The next show will be on April 19.

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