This summer marks the start of the 2010 season of Tuesday Night Cafe– A collaboration of independent artists that assemble every first and third Tuesday of a given month to perform and entertain through music, skits, spoken word and live art in the Aratani Courtyard at Little Tokyo.
The debut of the 2010 season featured the performances of “the kaps”, Manila Ryce, Rocky Rivera, Skim, Andrew Figueroa Chiang and Sue Jin. There is also an open mic session that anyone can sign up for and perform for the audience. The show was emcee’d by Johneric Concordia.
Originally started by Traci Kato-Kiriyama, TNC focuses on showcasing Asian American art and artists of all types. The organization is community driven with the Little Tokyo Service Center and Blacklava.net as partners. They are now in their 12th season.
Tuesday Nights at the Cafe are filled with the emotions from the artists. They don’t hold back punches with their moving words nor they hold back the tears in their ballads.
During the May 4th, 2010 Tuesday Night Cafe, the hot topic was the immigration conflict surrounding Arizona and the newly passed SB1070 which arguably allows authorities to “racially profile” immigrants of Latino descent.
Several spoken word pieces and a song were based on this topic alone. Johneric Concordia, usually the emcee for the shows had a moving piece describing his concerns about SB1070 and how it can affect people of Filipino descent because of physical features they may share with Latinos.
The “kaps” started the show off with their spoken word skit. They were followed by Manila Ryce who is also a spoken word artist. He spoke about his mother’s personal struggles regarding ethnicity and how it affected him, being half Caucasian and half Filipino.
SKIM, one of the resident musicians moved the audience with her song, “Arirang” while Rocky Rivera took a more upbeat performance.
On a lighter note, Andrew Figueroa Chiang, a musician, came up on stage and stirred up the crowd with his humorous performance. He composed a song on the spot for one lucky audience member. I overheard her friends mentioning their jealousy towards this lucky lady.
Sue Jin sang her heart out with very intimate topics from her life and ended the night with a huge smile of personal victory. She finally accomplished singing her song, “What Do I Do Now” in front of an audience without shedding tears.
Live streaming video and a chatroom was set up for people to log on and watch the show through the wire and discuss the performances in real time. Twitter updates were also on the ball as the show rolled along. There were people watching the feeds as far as the East Coast and Hawaii. Among them were past community members and artists.
With a diverse crowd and strong community backing, Tuesday Night Cafe continues on in being one of the staple events in Little Tokyo which supports Asian American artists. It is a very good intimate glimpse of people with passion expressing their thoughts and feelings while connecting with whoever is lucky enough to watch them perform.
You can find out more about Tuesday Night Cafe at their site located at: http://www.tuesdaynightproject.org