Most of day one of the Trump era was spent in a down haze, trying to keep the despair and negativity from seeping in, but I found the perfect antidote that evening at “Speak It Easy: Creative Food for the Soul“, a monthly event organized by Sam, aka Samantha Parks Bulls Daughter, aka @bullsdaughter, and hosted by the Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen in Long Beach.
SIE (Speak It Easy) is the manifestation of the positive energies of Sam and her collaborators: Shelley Bruce, Lance Lowe, and Donovan Brown. Sam is a transplant from Kansas, of all places, has spent time time as a barista, and is now a yoga instructor who will be teaching at Flow LBC, the new yoga studio that Ramona Magnolia Tamulinas is opening in Wrigley. In addition to those talents Sam is a connector, a radiator of positive vibrations, a very talented singer and performer, a genuine live wire, and an all-around great person to be around. Being a connector, Sam does not want her event pigeonholed as a “poetry slam” or a music-dominated “open mic”, so she has revived the vaudeville concept. From Wikipedia, “A typical vaudeville performance is made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill”. It is kind of like a set in Mathematics: what do the elements of a set have in common? They are all in the same set. What do the acts in a vaudeville show have in common? Only that they are in the same show. Leaves a lot of room for flexibility in scheduling! Samantha is also an animated and engaging MC, and the interludes between acts were as entertaining as the acts themselves.
The SIE format is to have a number of invited, featured, guests, and intermix that with an open sign-up list. The evening opened with a musical set by The Black Noise, a collaboration between SIE parter Donovan Brown and Victor Ojadughele. I had encountered them in the past, and had written about them in a review of the Definitive Soapbox. I had been impressed by them at that time, and they got the evening off to a great start. The audience, quite subdued to that point as everyone was pretty much involved in trying to process the news du jour, was energized by their spirited performance.
The Black Noise was followed by a couple of spoken word artists, and then a mixed spoken word/music performance by Kyoko. A common theme at the opening of each set was how to deal with the new reality, and the general theme was “bring it on, we will deal with this too.” There was a very funny comedy performance by Marie, and inspired and touching readings by SIE co-founder Shelley Bruce and featured artist Darrius Bradford.
Next up was my favorite young artist, Deja Nichole! Deja was there with her lovely mother, Joanne, and her beautiful grandmother. She opened with a duet composed for this performance with her friend Nikki Cicero, and then performed a couple of original songs, one of which I am including here. You can find additional Deja videos in my coverage of her birthday show and Tyler Curley’s feature performance, both at the Fox Coffee House.
Deja was followed by a comedy act, the inimitable Mardy MacFly, who cut a trim figure in all red and delivered a hilarious performance. His material is fresh and accessible to mixed audiences, and his delivery and brand of physical comedy were very effective. I am regretting that I didn’t get any video of his performance, but as he is well worth seeing again I am sure I will be able to do a better job next time I see him.
I first met Sam in the context of an open house at Flow LBC when she performed with her a capella trio, Bedlam Lullaby. I had seen one of her sisters-in-song, Cameo Adele earlier that evening, and was very happy at the end to see that they had been joined by their third member, Denicar Bergancia. Cameo Adele, by the way, recently released a solo effort, To You From Venus that I highly recommend and is well worth listening to. Bedlam Lullaby closed the show with a perfectly placed and emotional rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” It was a perfect end to a perfect evening, and I am pretty sure that everyone there left in a much better frame of mind than they had entered.