Monday, May 16, 2011

Chinatown Remixed

Yesterday was the kickoff of Chinatown Remixed, a really funky little idea of a street festival that started up last year and hit a stride this year, I think. It's an exhibition of local art on the walls of Chinatown shops and businesses, which kicks off with a day of street performers, buskers and musicians. Last year the Kymeras performed at a couple of tea shops, roving-minstrel-style, but it's hard to be a roving minstrel storyteller and possibly even harder to be a roving minstrel poet. We had a blast, but as one of a very small group of performers - that year Chinatown Remixed was mostly a doors-open art exhibit - we weren't really what people were expecting.

This year there were a lot more performers for the kickoff day, and we were set up in one location. What we decided to do was a series of small sets - the same show over and over, essentially - over three hours, at Umi Cafe, where we got the background of writer and artist Ian Roy's "words words" exhibit. Fitting - his works were silkscreen prints over chunks of greyscale text from his own short stories. It worked well - people seemed to come inside in waves, hang out with tea and muffins, stay for our short 20-minute set, and then move on. Each time we performed we wound up with something like 15-20 people in the room, and twice I had a stranger come up to me afterward to tell me how much they liked my poetry; a nice vindication. It was a chance to perform for both friends (someone we knew showed up in time for each set) and strangers, which is also pretty awesome.

Across the street from us, Glenn Nuotio had his keyboard set up in the window of the vintage Tang Coin Laundry. (We got to run over between sets to catch some of his show.)
Original photo: Sizzlevizzer on Instagram
And through the glass of Umi Cafe we could hear the Oda-Wa Taiko drummers down the street and watch people walking in and out of the shops around us (some of them carrying balloons.) Sort of a mini-WestFest. Despite the chilly wind and grey sky, people really seemed to be coming out and enjoying themselves. It was just odd enough, and cool enough, and quirky enough, to fit perfectly with Chinatown.

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