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Music Thu Apr 01 2010
Lethal Poetry's A Night of Sight and Sound was a very apt description of the evening's events. It launched with a bevy of battling B-boys and a lone B-girl, segued into hip hop blues and then capped it off with a clutch of seasoned, nationally-ranked poets. The night flowed seamlessly with a variety of performers and minimal time between sets.
Kicking off at 6pm, light still streamed in from Lawrence Avenue, a street frantic with dual shows at the Aragon and Riv: Kalleton 2010 and Stone Temple Pilots, respectively. Kinetic Playground saw a respectable crowd as the evening began with B-boys and a B-girl crossing swords on the dance floor. Battle-winner Pi88 is a regular competitor and teaches dance at Alternatives, Inc., a youth and family services agency on Sheridan.
Chicago-based poet Brando then presented the title piece from his latest offering "Honeymoon in Kyoto," which was both an attack on war and plea for peace. Brando was followed by fellow Chicagoan Gregory Lion Pickett, who gave an impassioned reading of his "Placate the Complacent," a rapid-fire indictment of societal disillusionment.
Next, D-Nick The Microphone Misfit hip hopped up a storm and urged listeners to "Grow, rise. As high as the sky goes." His crew was joined midway into its set by able Pilsen hip hopper Bob Rock.
Shirley King -- "The Daughter of the Blues" -- followed with her self-described hip hop blues, backed by band Organic Flow. King (daughter of blues legend B.B. King) served up solid vocals and deft audience interplay. Her set was at least as much about engaging the audience with clever banter and a call-and-response sing-along during her cover of "Got My Mojo Working" as it was about the music. She was a lot of fun; a bit like David Lee Roth in his heyday (yes, he had one) meets Coco Taylor.
Other acts interceded, but up to this point, the night was largely a lively warm up for the main acts: headliners Grammy nominated Malik Yusef and Saul Williams -- perhaps one of the most potent voices in poetry today. Yusef performed three crowd pleasers to the packed club, including his Kanye West collaboration "Crack Music." When Williams took the stage, he dug deep into his substantial bag of soulful offerings and came up with a sublime reading, closing his set with "Black Stacey."
A Night of Sight and Sound was organized by Lethal Poetry, an outfit helmed by artist and performer Mojdeh Stoakley (of The Mojdeh Project, another performer that night) and was six weeks in the making. Things came together in earnest once Williams committed to the show. "Once that happened, we stopped recruiting artists because people started coming to us," Stoakley says. "And I'd been looking for an excuse to curate Shirley [King]."
A Night of Sight and Sound was hosted amiably by poet Luis Tubens. A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit Rock for Kids, a non-profit organization that provides free music education for children in need.
This story was submitted by Rob Putnam, a contributing writer with Los Angeles' Music Connection magazine. He writers the Producer Crosstalk column and commonly does features on established artists. Most recently he interviewed Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. He's an avid skater, vegetarian and traveler.