Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ursula Rucker Concert Recap

Kudos to the people of Black Pearl Poetry for bringing out tons of urbanites for the first of its concerts featuring poet Ursula Rucker. Though I got home before 1 a.m., I felt like I had been out all night long (all poetry, all night, isn’t for everybody, as Ms. Rucker pointed out). Ed Mabrey didn’t let me take any photos, but check out this site for all the people shots of the night. Despite some lengthy portions of the night, everybody was happily able to get their finger-snaps on.

The atmosphere: Grown folks, artsy types and art lovers crowded the basement of the Brownstone. After the crowd swallowed most of the floor space, I worried about the fire code, emergency evacuations and I guess al other things I shouldn’t have. It was definitely stacked in the BStone, and despite my claustrophobia, I seen plenty of people out doing their thing. Anita D was fly, and still trying to get me to move to Chicago. Shout outs to the In8 crew, Wali did his thing on the mic (more on that later), Niel, the PR arm of the crew, was social and sweet as always. I keep running into Rafe Lewis, which is great (nice to meet new peoples). My boy Chauncey was in the building, who is featured on the new Lone Catalysts CD. Speaking of the Lone Cats, J. Rawls was laying low in the VIP, and so was poet extraordinaire Scott Woods, who I haven’t seen in ages! This part of the recap could go on for ages, like I said there were tons of folks in the house.

The poetry (part 1): Open mic was the first part of the evening. The show started kinda late and people were kinda antsy, but Ed Mabrey limited this section to eight poets. Shout outs to The Urban Author who did his thing on the mic. At this point the crowd was energized and the flow was good.

The poetry (part 2): Next, there was a slam, which featured some well known and new-to-me performers. Slams are cool, but slams are long. And when there are so many people in the spot, many are trying to get up and socialize. So at this point, with three rounds in the slam, the night was getting kind of tedious. Plus, the time was nearing 10:30 or so, and we were nowhere near close to Ursula. I was stuck like a sardine in the VIP section, and moved out to be with the people, where the back of the bar nursed some early drunks. At this point, I knew the flow of the night was in trouble.

The middle show: Middle Child did a short acoustic set, which was a nice break up between poetry performances. Her rendition of Love by Musiq was moving to the crowd and though she only rocked for 15 minutes, everybody loved her. Her voice, songs and show-woman-ship is getting better and better every time I see her perform.

Finally: After being a dummy, starting my bar tab upstairs and having to run up and down the steps in order to sedate myself for the evening, Ursula Rucker came out to give the performance everybody was waiting for. Ursula is an interesting performer, proving lots of atmosphere within her pieces, including a guitar player and computer generated beats. I got word that some the audience were entranced by the sound of her voice, the music accompanying it and her poignant images. I also heard that many thought she was doing lots of show and not saying much.

Halfway through her performance, the bar warmers start feeling their liquor and getting pretty loud. About half of the crowd funneled upstairs or went home…it was getting late. Of those who stayed and listened, Ursula had to compete with the rising hum of the crowd. It was a lot of ambience to combine with liquor (by the way liquor and poetry is usually not a good mix). And liquor + antsy people + an environment that is supposed to be quiet is not conducive. But Ursula had a line of people showing her love after the show, and hopefully Columbus can welcome her back.

The verdict: This was a good show, just kind of long, especially when people are used to walking all around the Brownstone, Mahogany Soul-style. The show could have been shorter, maybe omitting the slam would have seemed like a shorter night. Or, ushering those drinking folks upstairs would have helped the heads concentrate on what Ursula Rucker was spitting. Regardless, this is the type of event that Columbus was waiting out…the turnout was more than I’ve ever seen at the Brownstone and I was home early enough to not be late to work the next day. Shout outs to Krate Digga for his I Like The Way You Move/Don’t Change For Me (by Eric Roberson) mix…that was hot!


At 3:13 PM, Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

exciting. You always remind me I need to get out more.

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed Mabrey here.
Thank you Donna and everyone else for coming out and making all the work that went into doing this show worthwhile.
In the next concert there will be quite a few changes, but one thing I must note is that Black Pearl Poetry is a poetry night on Tuesdays first and foremost. I will never, repeat, never do something there on a Tuesday and not involve poetry and more importantly, not involve the wonderfull people who come out every tuesday no big time person is around and show their graciousness and love.

I am glad all those whom attended enjoyed themselves and got from it what they put into it.

I will continue to try and provide a quality, fun, entertaining and enlightening night for as long as possible.

Take care.
Ed Mabrey
Host, Founder, CEO
Black Pearl Poetry

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Anita said...


What's up soul sis? I was lookin' for this Wednesday AM. I figured you were pooped like me. Girl, I felt like the walking dead yesterday morning. The show and the vibe were fab on Tuesday (big shout to Ed Mabrey); I agree with you that it was a tad long, though.

And if them negroes (and others) in the back weren't ignorant...Like my girl Lyn and I said, the true artists and appreciaters (is that a word) of art were the first ones in and the ones who were right up front. Of course, we closed the house down.

I know BP is for poets first and foremost; however, Ed, if you see this (I'll visit your site too), maybe there could just be a slam and not the open mic on your "special performance" nights.

All in all, had a FAABULOUS time just bein' around good people, listening to good music and watching great art. Big ups.


*Damn, girl, I had to put on my shades to look at our teeth. We could do commercials.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that those "people in the back" didn't get to the Brownstone early enough to get a seat in the front or at the side of the stage or even been fortunate enough to hang out in the VIP area. Just so you know, if you sat (or stood) in any other area besides those mentioned above, you were not able to hear anything that was going on up front, not even a little. Once the folks in the back realized that because of the sound barrier, that they would not be able to hear the show they gave up and created a socializing set. So, to say "the folks in the back" were ignorant or not there for the poetry or the show, is not true. Maybe someone should look into updating the sound system.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger DM said...

I did see people poking and proding at sound equipment throughout the that could have lent to the loudness in the back...people couldn't hear! I think the low hum of the audience is something that will never go away, given the venue...but Ursula did a good job of working around it.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Anita said...

You know anonymous, you make a great point. I didn't realize that there were so many folks in back who could not hear, and like Donna said, they were trying to work out some kinks with the speaker up front. My cousin was there and she was one of the ones who could not get there early and who stood in the back for some hours. She could hear from where she stood, though, not far from the bar and ladies room.

My frustration was with the people who had a clear shot of the "stage" and could hear what was going on (I know because I walked around a bit and could hear just fine in those spots) and still chose to have loud conversation during the show, even as the crowd thinned out and sound improved somewhat. We artists just want some respect, that's all.

Yes, the sound system should be updated. And we appreciate those of you who hung with it anyway, just to support good art.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ed Mabrey here.
While this was the first Black Pearl Poetry Concert Event, and as such was a true learning experience, I feel all in all it went quite well. If having a small sound issue due tio loud people or the sheer number of folks packed in there is/was my biggest problem, then I say what a great problem to have.
Now for anonymous and anyone else who might read this and was one of those people who came to me about sound issues I will say this-

thank you but the issue was not that bad. Like Anita, and I am sure more than anyone else, I was constantly running around taking care of things. In doing so I was able to learn where the 'dead zone' is and where else sound might have been less than good.

In respect to that there will be a new system used for the next concert. However, I must say this as well. In general admission situations where the fact that the event will sell out and be packed has been constantly promoted from every angle and at every turn, I feel NO sympathy for anyone who has complaints about that particular issue.
If you were running late, then that was a assumed risk.
and for those people who chose to speak in the back, I owuld counter that it was not the lack of cound that made them speak, it was the combination of alcohol and their CHOOSING to socialize that made it bad. And even then it was only about four people with their volumes really turned up.
All of those people were eventually removed, and all of them had been cut off by the bartender before that point, which tells me that their intoxication and rowdiness was quite obvious. (it takes alot for a server to tell you 'no')

That said, the next event will have some measures in place to help with the sound. But if you get there so late that you end up at the bar around the corner from where the event is going on, my heart can only go out for you so much. If it were at any other arena some of those same people who complained would have either got their early or not have had an issue with it.
But most come out thinking that Tuesdays, big concert or not, is just another opportunity to socialize and get your drink on. While that is great for business and great for the bar, it is not great for poery and poetry is my business. So those people, while always welcome to come and partake, are not my choice suitors in any form. If anyone comes out to Black Pearl Poetry nights I would implore them to come for the poetry first and foremost, or run the risk of not enjoying themselves since it is a poetry night.

Side note- every person who came to me about noise, interestingly enough, was someone who was walking around talking themselves. Or going up and downstairs drink in had, yapping it up. Of course I have no feelings of urgency to see to the needs of those who were actually contributing to the issue.Not of course including in this those who just could not get there on time due to other obligations.

But in the future this should be a moot issue on two levels.
fisrt, there will be more sound in use.
second, those who aren't really coming for what the event offers but are coming because it is the 'cool thing to do that evening' won't come back out. or they will come with the proper attitude and expectations.
either way? beautiful.

I look forward to serving all the good poeple of columbus and abroad time and time again. this is only the beginning.

be well,
Ed Mabrey

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not taking anything away from the coordinator of this event or the event was fabolous!! I believe the event was scheduled to start at 8pm, I arrived at 8:10 and the house was packed. A packed house this early is never a dis', it's very impressive. Congratulations to the coordinator. It shows you picked the right artist to feature and did a great job with respect to marketing.

As I understand many events go through a "tweeking" phase, the only tweeking needed here was the sound which may have been outside of the coordinators control.

But was it necessary to describe all the folks in the back as being "ignorant"? That was my only concern.

I appreciate all of your comments. Thanks Donna for allowing an open forum. Maybe I will get to meet all of you one day.

Just as a sidebar, I'm an artist as well.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger DM said...

Welcome to the ghetto, artist anoymous. You'll have to drop me a line and let me know what kind of art you do.

I'm glad people had lots to say about the event. It was a really nice concert, and I do agree that everything is still going through its tweaking phase. Ed has done a good thing for us progressive folks and we should all continue to support his efforts!

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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