Between the Bars Open Mic
2nd and 4th Wednesdays
dba256 Wine Bar Lounge
256 S. Main Street, Pomona, CA
Want to be at the start of something great?
We were fortunate enough to be invited by David A. Romero, the man, the legend, himself, to be one of the first features of his brand new open mic venue in Pomona called, “Between the Bars Open Mic.” This was its first show ever! Right across from the second largest open mic venue in LA, “A Mic and Dimlights,” there is no doubt in our minds that Between the Bars has the potential to further proliferate the desire for self-expression and construct an open space that will only increase the arts community.
It was a joy to see some familiar faces we have not seen in such a long time. Friends like, O.Smith, Matt Sedillo, and Karla Moxley, were in the house as features. We met all three during the days of Speak Easy Open Mic about a year ago. We have all grown since then so it’s dope to see that progress. Kasi was also in the house who is one of the most consistent spoken word artists we know with a new haircut and everything. We also made new friends, such as Jon Gill aka Gilead7 of Advent, and we were in awe by the other features and open mic-ers that held it down for the evening: Judah1, Ghettospeare, and Mic Hempstead.
For our set, this was a hallmark for us. Why, you may wonder? I drove Steph, Susan, and new friend, Jennifer, and we were running late due to some wrong turns by me. When we arrived, it was 20 minutes into the show. We met up with Mark and were about go outside to rehearse, but suddenly, David was already on stage introducing us. We took it in stride and walked up together to the mics. After some whispering, we went in and had a memorable experience.
Artists must be on their craft rain or shine, 24/7. This challenge was met and overcome and will go down in the forWord history books. Let this be a fair warning to all artists, always be prepared because you never know when your name will be called. Go in, get it!
Thank you, David A. Romero and dba256 Wine Bar Lounge! Don’t know where to go on a Wednesday night in Pomona? You can meet great folks and have a fun time between the bars!
Eddy M. Gana Jr.
Who says werewolves are not real?
ITZ HAPPENIN’ Full Moon Open Mic
Once Every Full Moon
At El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana, CA
8:30 PM - Midnight
At our forWord feature at the ITZ HAPPENIN’ Full Moon Open Mic on April 6th, 2012 in Santa Ana, creative monsters were unleashed and we were there front-and-center to witness the carnage. In all seriousness, the community was as huge as the moon that night. There was a variety of performers like Hip Hop emcees, singers, flute players, poets, comedians, reggae artists, rock bands, and more.
Joese Gloria, one of the organizers and the host for the night, kept it real with freestyle sessions and honest opinions to keep the audience engaged. Nestor aka Illness was the sound engineer for the night and made sure that everyone’s voices were heard clearly and that the beats reverberated our chairs for an awesome evening of creative self-expression.
We loved this open mic! One of the best open mics we’ve ever experienced. We had fun out there. During our set, we performed a poem about our Asian-American identity and cultural competence (still untitled). Susan performed, “A Taste of Home,” Steph and I performed “Are listening now?,” and I ended our set with “Everybody Wants to Be An Activist.” The crowd was very receptive and showed love to everyone not just us. And that is what open mics are all about: Connecting and forging a community through self-expression.
A special shout-out to Sherwin aka ReVerse and Tony aka NOIZE for coming out to support and enjoy the arts with us!
If one night you look outside and there is a full moon, make your way to El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana for one of the best open mics in the area!
Eddy M. Gana Jr.
On Saturday, February 11th, Stephanie and I of forWord made our way to The Park’s Finest in Historic Filipinotown to join Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB, or Pro-People Youth) and help continue the effort to raise funds for those who were and are still affected by Typhoon Sendong in the southern region of Mindanao, Philippines.
It started off slow, but eventually, it was a PACKED house that night. It is always empowering to see so many people who care together in one room. There was music provided by Mark of KmB and LA Sessions who brought a fresh mix of slow jams to emphasize that LOVE for the people and it was surely felt that night. The Black Noise performed with a full band for the first time and it was a different experience (in a good way) from the two-man set they used to do. Let’s just say it was a hard act to follow. And who had to follow them?
Well, KmB’s Spoken Word Collective composed of Janice Sapigao, Jay Eusantos, Michele Gutierrez, Stephanie Sajor, and I went in on the mic with some poetry. Jay opened it up with a poem, “Let’s Build,” about the typhoon’s destruction and the people’s resilience to start anew, fitting perfectly with the theme for the night. Stephanie and I debuted a new duo piece entitled, “From a Place We’ve Never Been,” about understanding struggle and giving support to those in need. Janice had a poem entitled, “Impossible” about how anything is possible and the importance of being responsible. Lastly, Michele closed off our set with a poem she read from a poet’s book that spoke about the experience of being in the homeland. So what if you missed this? Will you see this collective again? Most likely!
The night continued with a presentation facilitated by Kristine of KmB about Moro People’s CORE and how action taken in the community helped raise over $4,000 to support those in Mindanao! It was eye-opening to see images of the typhoon’s destruction and also inspiring to see how far the reach of the people can go with enough determination and vigor. Thank you to everyone who supported and continues to support our kasamas back home!
After the presentation, The Fighting Cocks ended the night with a medley of originals about love and the end of the world. This was my first time listening to them live and with their full band. No negatives. Loved their music!
By the way, didn’t I mention that this event was held at The Park’s Finest? You have not tasted BBQ if you have not tasted The Park’s Finest! If you are in the LA area, this is a must-see… must-taste family restaurant. More information here: http://www.theparksfinest.com/
Love for the people was in full effect! More events to come! I just wish I had more pictures… Nevermind, that’s what memories are for!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.
Today is our forWord anniversary!
[Our first picture as a group.]
In celebration of the day we decided to form a collective, it feels only right to reminisce when we were nameless. A year ago today, we were not forWord; just four friends who loved spoken word poetry and wanted to contine writing together post-Uncultivated Rabbits at UC Irvine. Like most groups, we went through a brainstorming process. We were at Steph’s and my apartment in Anaheim and I still remember how we threw ideas back and forth in the living room. We even had a white board to record some of the ideas.
Let’s go through some of the names: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We thought of other alumni groups, like Kaba Modern Legacy, so logically we thought of something like Uncultivated Rabbits… Legacy. Other names we suggested include: Word Factory, Spitfire, Snap, The Daily Grind, Four/4 Sight/Recite, The Workshop, Training Wheels, Freudian Slip, Purebred, Progress, Soapbox, and Small Talk. One name we liked, but just became a running joke with us was Standing Ovation with its own tagline, “You better!” You can thank Mark for that one.
[The very first time we visited Speak Easy.]
Unbeknownst to most people, we actually went by another name for an entire week. We were known as “Blindspot Poets” with the tagline, “You didn’t see it coming,” which was also conjured by Mark. Clearly we were aiming for a name that not only defined us, but also had a catchy phrase attached to it. Fun times! But I ultimately was the only one who didn’t embrace this name with open arms; more or less, I just gave my right hand. It wasn’t enough. I figured that I would sleep on it and maybe it would grow on me. That never happened.
[Respect the studio! Taken during a recording session.]
At the next meeting, I asked if we could have another brainstorming session. I hoped to myself beforehand that I would not get kicked out, and luckily I am still here. So it was back to the drawing board. For some time, I have had the dream to facilitate a writing program for the youth and subsequently entitle the program, “UpWord.” I liked the name so much that I thought I would give it a try to see if the others would like it. Obviously, there was a play on words with going “upwards” and staying “up” with “words,” but ironically this idea didn’t fly.
So we continued to go over past names. At this point, we pretty much exhausted our creative drive to think of new ones. We were ultimately going in circles. Then suddenly, Susan said, “How about forword because there are ‘four’ of us?” It was like a match was lit up inside all of us. Simultaneously, Steph, Mark, Susan, and I all pitched in different ways “forword” could apply to us, such as “foreword” to imply that this is the beginning of something new, “forward” to imply that we are making progress, “for” the “word” because we write for the love of spoken word, and “four-word” because there are four of us. Clearly, we were all drawn to this name. But so as to not repeat the falling out of “Blindspot Poets,” we all slept on “forword” for a week to see if it would grow on us… and like some dreams, it eventually became a reality.
[Outside Paradise Perks, the venue where we made our debut as forWord.]
Before we even knew it, we became forword! Actually how we became forWord with a lower-cased “f” and a capitalized “W,” we’ll save that story for another time!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.
We are officially back on the grind!
First all, thank you to the organizers behind the scenes, such as Michelle, The Definitive Soapbox, One Imagination, and more, that ultimately made this fundraising showcase possible! Thank you to Manazar Gamboa Community Theater for opening its doors and sharing their space with all of us! Read more about the beginnings of this new theatre here.
As always, it is always a pleasure being around a community of not only artists, but friends who love the arts as much as we do. And thank you to all those who made it out tonight and for everyone who supported the cause!
This fundraiser was a success and forWord hopes that there will be more to come soon because we understand from our early days as organizers of Uncultivated Rabbits that getting things done via grassroots is no easy task. Continue to support! This is only the beginning! So if you missed tonight or are craving for more from tonight, we will keep you updated on future events and what other ways you can take to support the development of the 2012 Brave New Voices youth slam team.
I highly recommended to check out all of these dope artists below:
- Mae Ramirez
- Kasi Teyana
- Big Brother
- Michelle Denise Jackson
- Black Noise
- Shining Sons
- Brandon Melendez
- Antonio “Paz1” Appling
- Divine Daughters
Unfortunately, we do not have pictures or videos from this event. But like I said, we will keep you updated on future events and please “like” their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/duendelongbeach because this is only the beginning!
forWord is back in action and in gear to walk the path of a poet once again. We took a rest so now it is about time to hit the road. Whether or not we will find our way home or get lost along the way, who knows. It is going to be an adventure and we can’t wait to see what this journey has in store for us.
On a side note, forWord ended the night at Bamboo Island, which was right down the street from the theatre with Emilio Rodriguez, Jumakae, Emjae, Kalamari Beats, and the Shining Sons. I must say that was some delicious Cambodian entrees, and the older generation there singing karaoke reminded me of home. This was the cherry on top for an already sweet day for me. Hope more is on the way!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.