Welcome to the Mothership. A space where galaxies of thought collide; where live musicians, poets, emcees, visual artists, local vendors and organizers converge in downtown Durham, North Carolina.
Liftoff takes place on October 1 at Skewers Hookah Bar and Grill, where a plumes of vaporized tobacco envelop artists like clouds of interstellar dust. Hosted by Afro-Futurist and hip hop head Pierce Freelon, Mothership is an Open Mic experiment, inspired by the ancestors, revolutionaries, freaks, and oracles of the African diaspora.
“We honor the Motherland, protect Mother Earth and get free on the Mothership” proclaims Freelon, “October 1st will mark the beginning of a fantastic voyage!”
Freelon is the descendant of revolutionary hairdressers and painters; of jazz festivals and blueprints. He has experienced quite a bit of travel throughout the multi-verse – both on the wings of the ARTVSM Collective (a Pan-African collective committed to merging the worlds of art and activism, by any medium necessary), as well as with his hip hop and jazz quartet The Beast. Mothership marks his first attempt at hosting a cosmic community gathering on Earth, his birthplace.
Mothership will be a multi-medium experience. Artists of several genres will share their light with the audience, and between performances, the images, words and sounds of Afro-Futurists/prophets such as Sun Ra, Ocatvia Butler, Nina Simone, Afrika Bambaatta and Shabazz Palaces will be heard and felt.
Aboard the Mothership, activists and organizers will also have space to share their light. Under the stewardship of ARTVSM, the space between the creative and the subversive will be blurred. The emcees will cypher with the revolutionaries; and the freedom fighters will improvise with musicians. Voices from the margins will be privileged, and a higher level of consciousness will be sought.
Mothership is one of many Open Mics creating new spaces for artists to share their voices in the Bull City.
Veteran emcee and host Zayd Malik Shakur is ushering in the return of the inter-galactically acclaimed VIBES Open Mic every First Saturday, beginning October 4 at Ideas Coffee House (1230 Avondale Dr). VIBES has an impressive roster of talented entertainers who have graced their stage over the years, including Dasan Ahanu, Monica Daye and Mike Blayz. VIBES laid the groundwork for experimental Open Mics, such as Mothership to take flight.
A relative newcomer to the open mic scene, Mixed Mic Mondays takes place every second Monday at Cuban Revolution in Durham’s American Tobacco District. The pitch on their Facebook page speaks volumes,
“It's Monday, your boss might be on your nerves, and you wish the weekend would just last one more day. Nothing soothes the stress of the work day like good art, food, and live music.”
With a stellar live band that keeps the energy flowing between performers, Mixed Mic is an excellent opportunity to drink, socialize, and listen to local artists. Best of all, its free of charge – though arriving early is recommended, because it is often so packed that it becomes hard to find a seat after 9 p.m..
Can I Kick It is a new open mic series at the 40/20 Lounge at Saucy Crab that launches tonight and continues on the last Tuesday of each month. Hosted by The Poet Tim Jackson, with music by DJ 360, the “Xperimental Tuesdays” event promises a “new and different open mic experience… Networking, Politicking, and Conversing with great people.”
These are just a few of the open mic opportunities that have been springing up around the Bull City. With so many options, local artists should easily be able to find a stage.
On October 1, Durham is welcome to climb aboard the Mothership. This first installment is just an experiment, but if things go well, there may be many more expeditions through the cosmos.
Contact Pierce Freelon at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @durhamite