Last night was an amazing open mic. I haven’t experienced such joy in a very long time, a once in a blue moon kind of experience where I felt that everyone at Tia Chucha’s just clicked. There wasn’t a single performer, whether they were regular or first timers, that I didn’t enjoy listening to for THIS time EVERYONE that came onstage had a message for me.
I typically say that there’s always that one person that touches me and makes me realize that I was there ready to receive that one message that made the trip worthwhile. And last night EVERYONE touched me, everyone had a message for me, everyone was in tune with the Universe.
I have an adapted family at Tia Chucha’s and I have come to realize that I belong here. I’ve been “crawling” to different open mics, trying to find out the one, trying to find that one spot that will have me say “this is it”. There have been close calls there:
House of Brews’ Mental Monday is still a close second favorite hosted by Evy Spiritluvchild became the first time that I realized the power of my words, the healing process. This will continue to be my therapy session where I get to confess my darkest secrets. Forgive me audience for I have sinned. Here is where I lost my virginity and started reading from my journal… And I can never go back! Thanks to Mama Hazze for creating this space the last Monday of each month.
Another great spot is called Holy Grounds which has the best ambiance of any open mic I’ve encountered this far. This quaint coffee shop holds beautiful art pieces by local artists and here’s where I met a very special lady named Josefina Vega. Her embossed metal art pieces are simply amazing and, at 90 years old, Josefina looks like she can live another 40 years more. Easily. The best feature is their patio where I felt right at home. There’s a beautiful chimney that creates a cozy feeling that you are home and being surrounded by beautiful people makes it all worthwhile.
Then there’s Bob’s Espresso Bar at NoHo Arts District (North Hollywood for those that are wondering what NoHo is). Meet Bob, owner and barista of the narrow little spot that hovers so much talent that it can hardly contain them all under one roof. Hosted by Jessica Wilson, Writer Wednesday attracts all musicians and poets that would like to come to the mic and expose their routines, more of a “performance” eclectic group that surprises whoever walks in that door.
I’ve been to Eastside Café in El Sereno, hosted by Iris where you can just feel the energy in the room and where everyone had the chance to come up to the mic and, once everyone came up, we all had a writing prompt that we got to read on the spot. Home of Las Cafeteras, a San Jarocho band with Hector Flores and other beautiful people. Here is the first time where I heard that music heals. Everyone is a healer, either by choosing your words quite carefully or by feeling the music deep in your soul.
I can name so many more places but it’s really Tia Chucha’s that I wanted to talk about. Located a few blocks away from my house in Sylmar, Tia Chucha’s is where I initially came in search for “something”, a place where I can hear people talking to a mic and maybe share what I had been writing. Back then I started sharing my short stories, I lost my virginity under those beam lights. I felt as if Tia Chucha’s was the first place that I now call home. There’s no way around it. There’s a unique factor, the one element missing from every other open mic, am element that has been crucial for me: the people. I can start naming people and the list would be quite big. I will focus on the emcees: Alejandro Molina and Jeffery Martin. These brothers welcome everyone that walks through Tia Chucha’s doors, regardless of who they are. There’s literally no one that has been turned down and, most everyone that came for Open Mic or Noche de Canto y Poesía (depending on which Friday you attend to), has left with something that they will never forget, that something that they needed to hear, that something that they needed to get off their chests. It’s pure magic. Last night was very particular since it was the 5th Friday of the month which happens every once in a while and both Alejandro and Jeffery combined forces and gathered their followers. I saw what each one brings to the open mics and simply put they put the heart and soul to Tia Chucha’s. If it wasn’t for these two emcees, last night would not have been so special. It was the perfect blend of music and poetry and musical collaboration that I’m still in awe of. Everyone felt the energy, everyone started dancing, laughing, making beautiful noise. Loving. It’s possibly the first time that I felt at home, the first time I felt really safe, the first time that I truly felt that presence, that palpable and visible energy force that filled the room. It was magic. Every spot in that room was filled with so much energy that I fit right in. No other place has made me feel so good. I’ve never felt do safe than here. It took going everywhere to realize how good I have it right here at home. Thank you, Tia Chucha. Thanks for opening the doors to your home and let us feel at home. Thank you for allowing us to be ourselves and finding our strength among our flaws. Thanks you for letting us jam in your honor. Thanks, Tia Chucha, for I know that you were there dancing among us. You were there enjoying the music, the poetry, the spoken word, the endless jamming that brought half the audience onstage. Thanks for healing me, for showing me the way. Thanks for showing me my family, my very dysfunctional yet lovable family. I was an only child and now I have so many brothers and sisters that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you, Tia Chucha.
©2014 Victor Sotomayor