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Category Archives: From Behind the Microphone

From Behind the Microphone: Obbie West

We have been told since childhood to beware of strangers. Don’t talk to them, don’t get into the car and don’t make too much eye contact. In the age of social media, strangers pop into your inbox all the time; if you are a woman some of them say the craziest things or send the most unwanted of pictures. So my apprehension at the receipt of a friend request and inbox message from a man I don’t know and had never heard of would be understandable. The message opened with a simple salutation, “Good Day Ms. Sherri.” The message continued with how he was referred to me, asked for assistance in finding shows in the DC area and sent me his press kit with some video links. The business gentleman Obbie West presented immediately endeared me to him.

Instantly I watched the videos he sent to me, found a few more and fell in love with how he weaves words:


My next thought was selfish one, “I wish you could be here on a first Friday so I can feature you at Heard Through the Grapevine” at which point he changed his plans. Originally from California Obbie is visiting the DMV from Oklahoma City, OK. He has been writing and performing since 2011. He was featured on Lexus Verses and Flow in season 4 on TVOne. The link has the full episode with his performance.

As we have spoken several times over the past couple of weeks I have become more and more of a fan of him, I have been waiting with baited breath for almost 3 months to meet him face to face.

 


Stepping from Behind the Microphone: Obbie West.

Sherri: Tell us more about what brought you to writing poetry.

Obbie: FREEDOM! RELEASE!! and being able encapsulate both of those under an umbrella of creativity is Euphoric.

Sherri: Tell the story of your first experience performing. (Include where, when, how you felt afterwards.)

Obbie: Started writing April 2011, performed a month later. Small dilapidated bar in Killeen, TX. Crowd of about 25. Did two Poems, one about Poetry the other Erotic. Crowd ate them up like I was a vet. I was humbled. Been high ever since.

Sherri: Your stage name is Obbie West. Why did you choose that name? What do you want the audience to know about you when they hear it?

Obbie: It sort of chose me. I made the name up in order open a fake page on FB and people found out it was me and it stuck.

Sherri: Who is your favorite writer? (This can be a songwriter, poet, author or anyone you consider a writer)

Obbie: Can’t name just one. As far as Poets I like Joshua Bennet. Rappers, Eminem. He’s a master at creative writing.

Sherri: You have one hour to have a conversation with anyone in history, living or dead. Who will you choose, and why?

Obbie: My Daughter, who better? Everybody else’s story is in books already.

Sherri: Your perfect concert: who are three acts, living or dead, you would like to see perform?

Obbie: Opener: Obbie West

Next Act: Another Poets who’s trying to get on, Caress can roll with me.

Main Attraction: Jill Scott

Sherri: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Obbie: I don’t eat fish……she gotta be clean…BAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!! Naw on the real, I don’t eat fish.

Sherri: Do you have another creative outlet? If not, what is something you have always wanted to learn how to do?

Obbie: Nope, I think Poetry is the only reason God gave me the ability to talk. I always wanted to learn to skate.

Sherri: [Borrowed from Inside the Actor’s Studio] If heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Obbie: “Don’t worry, your Daughters gonna be straight. There’s your room **as he points to the left**”…………………And it does exist, how else can you explain Poetry?

While not his first visit to the DMV it will be the most memorable, he has 4 features and one spotlight scheduled starting November 2:

Monday
Show: Mic Check
Location: Culture Coffee
709 Kennedy STreet NW
Washington, DC
Doors open at 8:30
Show starts about 9pm

Tuesday
Show: Spirits and Lyrics Manassas
Location: 8349 Centreville Rd Manassas Park, Virginia
Door Open at 9

Wednesday

Busboys and Poets 5 & K, Washington, DC

Doors open at 8:30pm

Thursday
Show: Spit Dat
Location:
Emergence Community Arts Collective
733 Euclid St NW,
Washington, DC 20001
Doors open about 830

Friday
Heard Through the Grapevine
Location:
Peace and a Cup of Joe
713 W Pratt St,
Baltimore, MD 21201
Doors open at 7

For more information visit http://www.obbiewest.com
 

From Behind the Microphone: Marc Avon Evans

From left to right: Kevin Jackson, Marc Avon Evans and Chuck the Maddox
From left to right: Kevin Jackson, Marc Avon Evans and Chuck the Maddox

I’m in love with poetry, poets, spoken word and open mic events, however I cheat on it with live music every chance I get and if its R&B I leave poetry for a little while even though I can barely carry a tune in a bucket. This is part of the reason I love and admire Marc Avon Evans. His smooth baritone was made for the mix of funk, house and R&B he performs. After years of bumping into and waving hi at each other at different open mic venues in the Baltimore Area, we formally met in late 2014 when I ventured into the weekly venue he host in Baltimore called Acoustic Thursdays, an open mic venue originally designed for musicians however poets come in to perform all the time. We’ve since become friends and, he is one of my favorite hosts that I’ve had the pleasure of featuring for; his natural wicked sense of humor is disarming however it will relax the nerves of any artist.

Marc performs covers from all genres of music as well as his own songs and occasionally poetry. My favorite by far is Anytime/Outside Your Door as seen here when he featured at Storytellers in 2010:

 

His fellow band member and longtime friend guitarist Kevin Jackson praises him as “a passionate songwriter”, they have recorded together a few times however the tracks have not been release.

Performing together with Chuck the Maddox Should I Change:

10968485_10204756763291391_6864676351643776963_nNajah Bayyan echoes the sentiment of many artists who have graced his stages:

“He possesses this amazing ability to welcome you and treat you like family. Almost as if he was expecting you. You almost forget that is an international star.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in Marc’s presence it is easy to forget that he is an internationally known artist residing, singing and supporting the arts right there in Baltimore.

 

Stepping from Behind the Microphone: Marc Avon Evans

 

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Sherri: Tell us more about what brought you to writing poetry/songs.

Marc: As an aspiring singer-songwriter, I desired to be a better lyricist. Mainstream radio is full of great voices with little to say. I wanted my lyrics to be able to stand on their own. In the late 90s I was part of a touring poetry ensemble ‘The Minista (now known as Urban Ledjen), Jahipster, & The Songbyrd’.

Sherri: Tell the story of your first experience performing. (Include where, when, how you felt afterwards.)

Marc: Sitting in at TJ Remington’s in Silver Spring with Spur of the Moment. It was my first time performing with a professional band. I sang a Will Downing tune. It was exciting, inspiring, gave me a hunger for more. There I met John Stoddart, the first producer I worked with on 3 tunes that are on my debut indie album 10 years later. Nothing is by chance.

Sherri You don’t use a stage name, why?

Marc: I used to perform/be known as The Songbyrd from a previous group. In order to be consistent in building my brand I use my legal name which helps ensure writing credits, publishing, etc are protected and that my work is easier to find.

Sherri: Who is your favorite writer?

Marc: Currently it’s Gregory Porter. Simple, honest, full of emotion

Sherri: You have one hour to have a conversation with anyone in history, living or dead. Who will you choose, and why?

Marc: Ray Charles because of his musical legacy, diversity, and ability to overcome personal & professional challenges to impact the world of music & society.

Sherri: Your perfect concert: who are three acts, living or dead, you would like to see perform?

Marc: An intimate concert unplugged with Donny Hathaway on piano/vocals, Bob Marley on guitar/vocals, Meshell n’degeOcello on bass/vocals

Sherri: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Marc: I was a rapper/beatboxer in the 80s. West Baltimore group called The Devastating Crew. I was Marky C

Sherri: Do you have another creative outlet? If not, what is something you have always wanted to learn how to do?

Marc: Fashion & beauty. 25+ years of retail clothing, accessories, beauty/makeup/wellness

Sherri: [Borrowed from Inside the Actor’s Studio] If heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Marc: Welcome to the jam session. Here’s your stool & microphone

 

Marc Avon Evans features at Off the Wall Wednesdays on Wednesday August 26, 2015 at Culture Coffee 709 Kennedy Street, NW Washington, Dc. Cover $10.00

 

He host/performs every week at Acoustic Thursdays in Baltimore at Peace and a Cup of Joe  713 W Pratt St, Baltimore, Maryland

 

To Contact him directly:

 

For US booking:

Marc A Evans

VOR Music Group

vormusic@hotmail.com

For International booking:

Dan Kiely

Connected Talent

+44 777 376 9311

dan@connectedtalent.com

 

From Behind the Microphone: Droopy the Broke Baller

Lions Tigers and Bears …. OH My

Droopy the Broke Baller, me and Dwayne B from my Spit Dat feature March of 2014

I have never been made to feel more at home during my early days of going to open mics in the Baltimore/DC area as I was when I stepped into Spit Dat the first time in 2008. I had met Drew Anderson, aka Droopy the Broke Baller, at a poetry venue in Baltimore. I ventured to the Mocha Hut, one of the earlier homes of Spit Dat, to see one of my favorite poets feature that evening. I stepped into the coffee shop and Drew greeted me with the biggest smile and the warmest hug like he had known me for decades. Years later when I returned to doing poetry, I stepped into the room, I was greeted with the same huge smile, a warmer hug and a welcome home.

Droopy has been on the DC poetry scene since the early 2000s with his unique storytelling style. He had traveled all over the country delivering his messages with topics range family to the economy to current news to his thoughts on the election of Barack Obama. One of my favorites is  Flapjack as performed at Storytellers in 2009.


What he is most known for are his spot on parodies of current popular music, Whenever he performs this piece (and his other parodies) the entire audience participates and there is laughter heard throughout the venue.


 

With His co-host and partner in crime of many years Dwayne B, the Crotchet-Kingpin they host one of the longest running weekly open mics in the country The Legendary Spit Dat

 

Drew Anderson is everything you can want in a writer. He’s creative, quick to write, quick to perform, considerate of an audience, but also quick to challenge their thinking. He cares deeply that his work stands on both page and stage and every meticulously thought out line works in both rap verse and book script.

Droopy The Broke Baller is everything you want from a host. He’s strong enough to start an event with fire, but he’s soft enough to know when a hug is needed to help in the healing process. He’s the bully who protects the scene, but he’s the bull facing the bullfighter. Willing to be the scapegoat for the difficult conversations needed within the scene. To riff off one of his favorite superhero films, “he’s the hero that (our) Gotham deserves”.

Drew is everything you can want in a friend. He’s the Batman to my Robin, Mario to my Luigi, and Peter Parker to my Miles Morales. I’ve learned to be a better artist, better host, and better person through both is wins and losses. Other the last 14 years, I’ve gotten to know Drew as a complete person. That is the gift of a best friend, a brother that you chose, the “host with the most”. That’s Drew “Droopy the Broke Baller” Anderson.

I thought about getting another testimony but I am pretty sure the next person and the next person would say the same thing. Droopy is one of the most down to earth, genuinely all around awesome person you would ever want to meet.

Stepping from Behind the Microphone: Droopy the Broke Baller

Sherri: Tell us more about what brought you to writing poetry.

Droopy: I never really know how to answer this question. “Simply” (wink) because I feel like I was always writing something. Poetry was just one of the many water colors streaming through my muddy little well of Piscean creativity.

I remember in the summer as a kid my dad would have my sister and me writing our times tables on chalkboards at home every day, and before engaging in that mundane mathematical chore I would scribble all types of effusive inanities all over the board to get myself motivated. Had I known then to collect them, they could have evolved into a terrifically tantric tome.

To me, poetry is a bite-sized truth pill stewed in the contradictory juices of expressing life both colorfully and concisely at the same time. At its best, it is effective for the same reasons that Aesop’s fables and fortune cookie fortunes are. It tells all without telling too much. So when you ask when I got into it, it was probably when I realized that it was that good, and that I was good at it. But I can’t date those epiphanies.

Sherri: Tell the story of your first experience performing.  (Include where, when, how you felt afterwards.)

Droopy:
Shakespeare once wrote that all the world’s a stage. If that’s the case, we’ve all been performing since the moment we emerged from our mothers’ wombs. As far as the “performing arts”, I could mention hunching over my magical pasta pot as I starred as Strega Nona in a 3rd grade play. (Shout out to non-traditional casting.) Or in 6th grade doing a report on MLK in the form of a rap. (“Dr. Martin Luther King was a real cool brother / Dr. Martin Luther King; word to the motha!”) Or senior year in high school when this valedictory nerdboy had his shining moment of social vindication ripping rhymes at my school’s talent show with my best friend. (I’m looking at our 2nd place trophy in my living room as I type this.)

But you probably mean poetry. For which I can tell a tale of a Howard freshman excited to share his abstract musings at a campus open mic, ending my performance with the expression: “War.” (The notion being that “peace” was dead.) I didn’t “suck”. But I didn’t quite “spit”. So the audience just kind of looked at me and gave polite applause.

I regrouped. I came again. And again. I became a better writer and performer.

And here I am.

Sherri: Your stage name is Droopy the Broke Caller, why did you choose that name?  What do you want the audience to know about you when they hear it?

Droopy:
My name is Drew Anderson, but as an entertainer I wieldeth the sly, surreptitiously subtle moniker of “Droopy the Broke Baller”. It started as a poem I wrote around the turn of the millennium about making something out of nothing. Then in 2001 when I self-published my first book, I wanted everything about it to be as official as in “a real book”. So when drafting the title page, I wanted an official tag line for my “publishing company”. As a big fan of The Roots, I thought of their tag: “Okayplayer: Giving you true notes since 1987.” Ever the spoofsmith, I came with: “Broke Baller Enterprises: Giving you true broke since 2001.”

But I really embraced and took ownership of the name the more I entered the open mic scene in Washington, DC. I found that while I loved the scene and was inspired by my peers within it, a lot of the content steered toward serious social and emotional themes. There was a lot of anger and heartache and pain being expressed. And rightfully so, because artists should purge and be honest and blunt and speak truth to power and express the deepest reaches of the human experience and all of those things. But at the same time, too much of the same could feel very heavy to an audience, and could even seem repetitive enough to feel formulaic. I wanted people to enjoy themselves enough to want to return to the open mic. I’ve always sought to balance content with craft and artistry with entertainment. So when I would be announced on open mic lists as “Droopy the Broke Baller”, the audience would know to expect something left field and different. And that’s what I tried to bring them. Still do, actually.

Sherri: Who is your favorite writer? (This can be a songwriter, poet, author or anyone you consider a writer.)

Droopy: I think that the more nuanced your appreciation of a craft, the less likely you are to have one favorite practitioner of it. Thus, I have more than one favorite writer. Novelists? Give me Dany Laferriere, Paulo Coelho, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They’ve shown me new possibilities on how you can write poetically yet frankly about life. Lyricists/songwriters? I’ll take Mos Def, Jay-Z, Amel Larrieux, and Emily Haines (who kicks my ass whenever I listen to her band Metric). Music journalists? If someone’s doing it better than Rob Sheffield or Questlove, I don’t know if my mortal mind is prepared to be in receipt. Strategy and self-help? Susan Cain is my Woman Crush Wednesday and Robert Greene my Man Crush Monday. And screenwriting? All hail the charmed one, Charlie Kaufman, who hath penned my favorite film: Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind.

Sherri: You have one hour to have a conversation with anyone in history, living or dead.  Who will you choose, and why?

Droopy: This is probably the most difficult question to answer. I was tempted to say Susan Cain. She wrote a book about introverts called “Quiet” which exploded my brain and knocked me on mine arse. But then I realized that after reading her book I already understand so much of where she’s coming from that we would likely spend the hour spiritually gushing over each other and it would feel awesome but I don’t know how much more I would really grow from it.

So I will say Jay-Z. I think he’s a brilliant artist and even more brilliant businessman who has inspired me greatly. I would spend the first 5-10 minutes telling him who I am, how he’s inspired me, what I’ve done with my artistry, and what I want to do with it. Then for the rest of the hour I would shut up and let the master teacher advise me on how to pimp my career. With any extra time, I would ask about various lyrics and statements of his that struck my curiosity over the years.

Oh wait. I forgot about Chris Rock. And Badu. Damn.

Sherri: Your perfect concert: who are three acts, living or dead, you would like to see perform?

Droopy: I’m fortunate enough to have already experienced most of my favorite musical artists live. Consequently, I would do some grave digging here: the Distant Lover (Marvin Gaye), the Buffalo Soldier Dredlock Rasta (Bob Marley), and the King Of Pop (you already know).

Sherri: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Droopy: Folks don’t know that when I seem like I’m joking I’m probably serious and when I seem like I’m serious I’m probably joking. Seriously. .

Sherri: Do you have another creative outlet?  If not, what is something you have always wanted to learn how to do?

Droopy: I view my whole life as a creative outlet. When I run, I can go wherever I want and even get lost on purpose. I’m a huge film nut and have produced and edited my own music videos and been involved with independent films both in front of and behind the camera. Even when doing a routine job, I can be creative with my attitude and approach to it.

But I do wish I could play an instrument, though. I bought a friend’s guitar for the express purpose of learning to play it. For now, we just stare at each other, trying to figure out if we’re each other’s type.

Sherri: [Borrowed from Inside the Actor’s Studio] If heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Droopy: I’m not bold enough to assume I’m going to heaven. But if I do, I imagine I would be received with: “Congratulations. You almost didn’t make it, but we’ll let you in since the person ahead of you missed their appointment. What you did to get here, keep doing to stay here. But better.”

Assuming I’m not so lucky, I expect the Devil’s doorman to say: “Welcome home, jerkface. By the way, the AC is broken.”

 

 

Droopy the Broke Baller features at the first edition of Off the Wall Wednesdays at the Urban Winery 949 Bonifant St, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Doors open at 7 show starts at 8. For this first event it’s FREE.

 

For more information about his schedule please visit him here.