Back in May, I wrote a little blurb for the City Pages A List, extolling the Poet’s Groove open mic, and it’s about time that I got something up here on MN Mic about one of MN’s longest running weekly open mics, especially when I really support and believe in what they’re doing.
Poet’s Groove won the Best Open Mic, Slam or Spoken Word Series at the Urban Griots Spoken Word Awards Ceremony, and with good reason. You’ll see a little bit of everything on the Blue Nile’s stage during the weekly open mic, from music to comedy to dance to spoken word, but for the most part, the flavor definitely spans more of the bluesy, hiphop, rap feel. It’s fantastic to have an open mic that is so very open, but also really explores a few genres very well. Sign up for the open mic begins at 9pm, and the list has 16 slots, that get filled in quickly, on a first-come-first-served sort of basis. That said, this past Tuesday’s open mic was appropriately very woman-heavy in the representation, an unusual thing in the spoken word scene, in my experience. What made this especially cool was that Desdemona, the Poet’s Groove emcee, is also instrumental in this autumn’s B Girl Be festival, celebrating women in hiphop.
In spite of the fact that sign-up starts at a fairly reasonable hour, the open mic doesn’t usually start until after 11pm, so grab a nap before you show up, but definitely show up- you might get a treat like this one- vocalist Cash freestyling over the house band about the state of the nation, and how it reflects in our home lives.
The experience and talent of the performers ranges from complete beginners to folks who’ve been performing for their entire lives. The house band is definitely the Blue Nile’s unique success in local open mics- if the performer can perform with music behind him or her, it makes beginners sound great, and keeps up with and experiments with pros. Among the house band’s talents is keyboardist/vocalist Alicia Wiley (whose name you might recognize from the interview with No Bird Sing), who also performed on Tuesday night.
Located at the corner of Franklin and 21st, parking is plentiful and the light rail is within walking distance, though, if you take the train, keep an eye on the time, as the trains don’t run much later than 1:30. The Nile itself is a dark bar that tends to get really full by the time the open mic starts, almost every week, year round. Desdamona’s emcee style is pretty hands-off and no-nonsense, but she’ll occasionally treat the crowd to a spoken word piece. Co-winner of the Urban Griots’ Two Tongues, Best Spoken Word Feature on an Album, and Best Spoken Word on a Track awards- her pieces are emotional, political, and thoughtful, but she doesn’t overpower the open mic or behave with some sort of ego, a sign of a lot of class.
The crowd at the Blue Nile is friendly and kind- the event is long-running for a reason.