Coffee Rhetoric: In The Hartbeat
Showing posts with label In The Hartbeat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In The Hartbeat. Show all posts

April 10, 2012

Tastemaking in The HartBeat...

Oh yes… time for another ubiquitous plug for this month's Tastemaker's Soul Hartford event, at Vibz Uptown. I will be a part of the panel discussion portion of the affair along with a lineup of other Connecticut notables, discussing "The Written Word". Read the the official word below... 

April is Jazz and Poetry Appreciation month and Tastemakers Soul Hartford will be hosting an event celebrating both on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 6pm. This event will be held at Vibz Uptown at 3155 Main Street, Hartford, CT. It will feature a night of panel discussions and live entertainment. The evening begins with artist Jeff Bradshaw's (Hidden Beach Records) "Bone Appetit", a new CD that will be released on April 24th. The first two panels will be a discussion featuring poets and written word artists and they include:

Kevin Harewood- Industry Executive, Edectic Ent/Yeagency, Latoya Bosworth- Founder of K.Y.D.S., & Brenda's Child, Tiff Jones- Freelance writer, Blogger and creator of  Coffee Rhetoric, Lenise "NuNuu" Smith- Publisher of S.L.A.M.M. Magazine, Bradford Howard Jr.- AllBusiness Consulting LLC, Carla Jervey- WQTQ FM, Aja Wilson- Jazz/Soul Singer, Smooth Jazz Artist-  Funkee BoyEsnavi- Soul Singer, and Hartford, CT Singer/Songwriter Janae Smith.

The third panel is a continuation of the DJ Business 101 series. Confirmed panelists are: Herman Ham- King of Clubz, Kingsley Osei- Owner of Catchin Wreck Marketing & Founder/Executive Director of Connecticut Against Violence, DJ Showtime- KISS 95.7 FM, Lamonte Hayes- BWP Marketing, Stephen Richardson- CT Music Pool, and DJ Terrible T.

Following the discussions, R&B singer Rashaan Langley; a native of New Haven and also the host of Tastemakers Soul Hartford, will perform with his band. The event will be recorded by Brian Sams of Headbanger Video, LLC and Tony Bass of City Beat MultiMedia Group.

Additional performers slated to appear are R&B Singer and Musician Heshima from Springfield, MA/NY, Dallas-based Neo-Soul Artist Nuwamba, spoken-word poet, Tarishi "Midnight" Shuler from New Haven, Singer and Hartford’s own Janae Smith, and Frank "Mr. Wonderful" Brady of New Haven.

Vendors will be on-site at the Tastemakers Soul Hartford Marketplace and food will be available for purchase by Rajun Cajun. Admission is $8 or 2/$10. Doors open at 6pm.

Tastemakers Soul Hartford has been New England's longest running networking event. Originally an exclusive function, it is now a monthly affair where independent artists are highlighted and local "tastemakers" network and support one another.

For media inquiries, contact Desiree Primus at 413-221-9857.

Related post(s): Coffee Buzz- Tastemakers Soul Hartford



March 30, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Tastemakers Soul Hartford, The Written Word


Every month, promoter and DJ of the radio show "Reflections", broadcast on 90.7 WTCC in Springfield, Massachusetts, hosts a networking event and industry showcase called Tastemakers Soul Hartford at Vibz Uptown, here in Connecticut. 
A panel of local movers and shakers convene for a panel discussion on the myriad of interesting topics and the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals, hear great live music by independent and/or up-and-coming artists, and to browse a wonderful collection of handmade wares set up by jewelry makers and other artisans. 

It just so happens that yours truly—(Who? Yes, me! ) – will be featured on an upcoming panel in the company of other talented poets, editors, industry insiders, and writers including Spoken word artist and Publisher of S.L.A.M.M. Magazine Lenise “Nu Nuu” Smith, Carla Jervey of WQTQ FM in Hartford, and Kevin Harewood—Author of "Make Your Move-A Guide to Releasing Your Music Independently" and Industry Executive for boutique agency, Yeagency, discussing “The Written Word”. 

The event happens Sunday, April 22nd, 6pm – 10:30pm at Vibz Uptown at 3155 Main Street, in Hartford. For more information, visit the Tastemakers Soul Events Page on Facebook.  Hope to see you there!

February 16, 2012

HartBeat Ensemble's New Play Institute Presents, Project: Turnpike

Still somewhat fresh off the success and much lauded spring/winter run of their original main-stage play, Flipside-- (a play I had the pleasure of blogging about from behind the scenes)-- which will begin touring around New England in March, Hartford based professional theater group, HartBeat Ensemble is already hard at work on a new stage production  currently in development called Project: Turnpike.

The work is based on the 2007 federal trial of the United States vs. Dennis Paris; a case that unfolded right here in Hartford.  

Project: Turnpike charts 72 hours in the lives of four exploited sex workers in a motel room on the Berlin Turnpike; a busy 4-lane Connecticut highway.
In order to bring this landmark case to the stage, true-to-their art-form, HartBeat Ensemble members interviewed and collected the personal stories of people affected by human trafficking and worked with human rights advocate Raymond Bechard, who wrote the book The Berlin Turnpike: A True Story of Human Trafficking in America. Raymond Bechard explains;
"With a long and sordid history, The Berlin Turnpike serves as a metaphor for the landscape in which human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and all forms of prostitution have existed in the U.S. for centuries, while continuing to flourish today." 
HartBeat Ensemble will workshop and debut a staged production of Project: Turnpike Friday, April 20th at 7:30pm (at a TBD facility), in the first of three planned staged readings as part of HBE's New Play Institute. The two-year project will commence in collaboration with an area college or university, also TBD, where HBE will work in-residence while teaching a master class on "The Creation of Original Work".

The New Play Institute serves to foster an environment of experimentation and creativity for HartBeat Ensemble and college students. It also offers audience members a chance to experience new theatrical work in its early stages.

General admission will be $5 and free for students with proper identification.

HartBeat Ensemble continues to create original professional theater based on stories from the community via main-stage plays, open-air performances, and educational out-reach programs. HartBeat Ensemble makes theatrical arts accessible beyond the barriers of class, race, and gender.

For more information on HartBeat Ensemble and Project: Turnpike, visit the official HartBeat Ensemble website or call: 860.548.9144 ext 115

**Additional Reading--  





February 09, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Ice Cream Man


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That is unless you're lactose intolerant...

One ice cream man however, is providing goods that are capable of being digested; Hartford's own Stephon "Humble" Long. Connecticut is a small state brimming with talent that spans the arts and entertainment spectrum. Stephon, a well-known rapper, has managed to carve out a niche for himself and build a loyal fan base in the process, especially with the release of his single and accompanying video (which uses Hartford-area neighborhood(s) as its backdrop) "Ice Cream Man."

Stephon, who goes by the nickname "Humble" (a moniker he received from a close friend and brother from another mother, Kiandre "Fatal" Gillespie) - first realized his talent for writing lyrics at the age of 13. With the help of friend, Delontay Gordon, he honed his craft and used what he learned to form a rap duo with Gillespie called, Black Aces. “Am I humble? At times! And at other times my arrogance may show face” Humble Lol's, in reference to his nickname. Considering he's been diligent with mastering his craft and paying his dues since the age of fifteen (working fervently for about 9 of those years), perhaps a little self-applied pat on the back on occasion, is permissible.

"I've built up my fan base by performing for open Mics and by being a part of Hartford's own Paperboyz [a collective of Hartford rappers and producers] in the early 2000's," Humble explains. And while Ice Cream Man isn't his first single and video, it does seem to be his most lauded at 29,000 YouTube views and counting.

The video, which was directed by Alonzo Beckett of NE Video Entertainment opens as a nod to Ice Cube's popular urban flick, Friday, before exploding into a thumping version of the ice cream truck song we've all familiarized ourselves with as children. The song, produced by Luis "ChaseBeats" Boria, explains the duality of Humble's role as the purveyor of tasty frozen treats for children and street treats of ... ahem... a different nature.
Humble’s talent is undeniable; "Right now I'm currently working with local producers; but every local producer I'm working with is very goal oriented!" 

When prodded about his dream-list of producers to build with if presented with the opportunity, Humble answers enthusiastically, "Ooh, that's a good question!! I would love the opportunity to work with... I'm gonna have to keep it in the family and say Corron Cole[a Connecticut born, L.A. based songwriter/producer made-good and behind the musical stylings of acts like Justin Bieber, Jesse McCartney, and Jordin Sparks]- I admire his commitment to the music industry; and as for artists I’d love to work with... I'm gonna have to say Eminem and Jay-Z!" 

Perhaps one of the most admirable aspects of Humble's burgeoning rap career, is the passion he seems to have for Hartford... a city that's at times, unfairly judged for being the underdog and is juxtaposed next to New York and Boston. The bias prompts the dearth of talent and the city's offerings go unnoticed... and so it takes naysayers by surprise. 

As he reflects on his music, Humble makes it clear that it will always dictate the mood he's in at the time. "I write from the heart!" He says, "I don't live a fairytale life... It's real. I do it for the people! I do it for my supporters… I hate to use the word fans!"

Stephon "Humble" Long will be performing live at Foxwoods Casino, March 2 at Comix Comedy Club . Ice Cream Man and other singles are available for download on iTunes.

For booking and more information, visit PB Dolla Entertainment and Humble's Facebook page.

December 09, 2011

Lose It!

Photo by Charles Quiles
I really admire anybody who is unapologetic about being who they are, especially in the name of the arts. It seems that the concept of living and letting live is increasingly becoming extinct in this current climate of bullying, homophobia, race baiting, and woman bashing. It's enough to make me want to lose it...

Like the otherworldly unicorn that he is, enter fearless performance artist, visionary, and singer/songwriter Dani Arranka. This past spring, I wrote about Dani after attending his Born Day party and music video premiere for his catchy tune, Be Like Me. Fabulous and confident about who he is, but never arrogant or ungracious, Dani's popularity was undeniable then, as I watched the packed venue lose their shit when he performed. I definitely see the appeal. There's an intangible quality about his carefully cultivated persona... The French call it a certain je ne sais quoi. Now a New York transplant, Dani Arranka is poised to take over the club scene and capture the hearts of the NYC underground with his sexy new song, Lose It.

I Google+'ed the song to a friend and she immediately fell in love, re-tweeting it on her Twitter timeline. The syncopated beat is indeed, infectious. I picture a packed club, with sweaty revelers touching themselves on the dance floor and thrusting their pelvises in slow motion when I listen to it (I have an active imagination, OK?). The behind-the-scenes promo video/photo shoot, directed by photographer Charles Quiles, shows Dani playfully frolicking with sultry Argentinean male supermodel, Alejandro Salgueiro. And it's hot. It definitely conveys the tone of the song. "Lose It is being remixed for the club scene soon!!" Dani said enthusiastically via email. "Lacorey produced the track, along with all my others!" 


I definitely look forward to hearing a remixed version of the track. In the meantime, lose your chonies listening to --> Lose It and be jealous as you peep the panty leche inducing promo video, featuring Alejandro...






December 02, 2011

Holiday Happenings In the HartBeat- (Say that three times)...


In a flash, the month of November has come and gone. Thanksgiving festivities and events are behind us here in the HartBeat and the Christmas is nigh. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the re-opening of The Bushnell Park skating rink. This year's Winterfest (presented by iQuilt) is now bigger and better, having kicked off this past November 25th. The rink (located on the east side of Bushnell Park by the Pump House) is free as are skate rentals, and is open 7-days a week, 11:00am - 9:00pm (except Christmas, when it closes at 5:00pm and New Year's Eve, when it closes at 1:00am). Winterfest runs through February 20, 2012. Visit here for more info on Winterfest events.

Also, December 8th Greater Hartford Arts Council Welcome Center will be hosting a Holiday Open House. The daylong holiday event will celebrate the Greater Hartford Welcome Center and the Let*s Go! Holiday promotion. Revelers who donate $50 to the United Arts Campaign will automatically be enrolled in the Let*s Go Arts! program, which will entitle them to 2-for-1 and discounted admission to plays, concerts, and museums with the added benefit of 10%-20% off local area restaurants, specialty classes, local services and other events. 
The holiday promotion will also enable current Let*s Go Arts! members to gift an additional membership for $25! Those who donate will also have the option of participating in a drawing for gift certificates to some of Hartford's most popular restaurants and tickets to see stage plays. 

The event takes place Thursday, December 8th, 10am-3pm; 4pm-7pm at the Greater Hartford Arts Council, 100 Pearl Street, First Floor, downtown Hartford. During the earlier part of the event, visitors can enjoy free hot cocoa, cookies, and other tasties. The evening hour’s offerings will include a reception, free light wine, and cheese. For more information, visit: www.LetsGoArts.org/HolidayLGA.

November 13, 2011

These and Those: Thanksgiving Offerings In Hartford...


Thanksgiving will be upon the Hartford masses in 10 short days (and fortunately most of us have had our power restored to be able to plan for it). It's the one-day each year people can gorge themselves to capacity while raucously laughing, imbibing, arguing, and side eying one another as they keep tabs on that one aunt’s alcohol intake or listen to the one unfiltered uncle’s bawdy stories of common STDs and lost loves during his younger days over a painstakingly prepared meal.
As annoying delightful as eating, drinking, fighting, and merriment are, prepping for Thanksgiving can be rife with stress and frustration.  Fortunately, The HartBeat has a list of interesting events taking place this holiday to help take some of the edge off (and if booze isn’t enough of an option)... 

Rustle together some last minute Thanksgiving fixings at the Farmers' Market in the Studio at Billings Forge! Thursday, November 24 2:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. at 563 Broad Street, Hartford, CT check out an awesome selection of seasonal foods which include produce, jams, jellies, honey, and cheeses. Not to mention "The Tasting Table" by the Kitchen at Billings Forge- a healthy food/recipe participation and sampling table. Visit http://billingsforgeworks.org/farmers-market for more information.

Take in a performance of Peter Pan at The Bushnell. Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby takes to the air in an all-new production of Peter Pan at The Bushnell's William H. Mortensen Hall! This is definitely a show the entire family can enjoy. Tickets are $17.00 -$68.00 with a show time of 7:30 p.m. For more information call 888.824.2874 or visit http://www.bushnell.org/.

Feel like some post-dinner trivia? Head on over to The Tavern Downtown for a Super Trivia Extravaganza 9:00 p.m. - 11 p.m., it's free to play with the added benefit of $2 Bud and Bud Light bottles during the game. Prizes are at stake and sign-up starts at 8:30 p.m. The Tavern Downtown is located at 100 Allyn Street, downtown Hartford Visit http://www.thetaverndowntown.com/home.html for more info!

The play, THE MOTHER#@*R WITH THE HAT has been described as "Exciting, incisive, cruel, and very, very funny... a hip, harsh romance about people grasping for confirmation of their existence." And it's playing at Theater Works in Hartford, 233 Pearl Street. See it November 24; 7:30 p.m. General admission is $50 with a discounted price of $17 for students with valid college ID. Center reserved seats are $13 extra. Call 860.527.7838 or visit http://www.theaterworkshartford.org/.  Cheap parking is available via Trumbull Centre Garage at 100 Trumbull Street or Q Lot Parking Lot at 207-209 Asylum Street.

Take a break from cooking (or if you hate doing so and have never prepped a Thanksgiving meal, like yours truly), head over to Lyme, CT to the Bee & Thistle Inn, 10 Lyme Street (if you don’t mind taking the drive and need a bit of a break from Hartford) and reunite with family and friends. Dinner seating is at noon and 3 p.m. For reservations, call: 860.434.1667 or visit www.beeandthistle.com.

Also, there ain't nothing wrong with keeping it gangsta' and staying home, prompted by this knowledge: http://www.genealogyforum.com/gfaol/Thanksgiving/NAPerspective.htm


 

Strangers With Candy
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November 11, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Shakespeare in Love- Cindy Martinez's Fundraising Goal!

 I'm a huge believer in the arts... especially the Hartford arts and I love making the masses privy to the creative movers and shakers in my town. My homecity may not be the biggest and it may not be New York City (as many NYC transplants love to pompously remind us, while still partaking in our offerings), but it is home to a LOT of talent and it has a lot of hart, which is why we affectionately refer to Hartford as The HartBeat.

The Hartford arts scene is home to a diverse sub-genre of artists who thrive in the myriad of different disciplines. They include but aren't limited to; writers, poets, spoken-word performers, performance artists, hip-hop lyricists, playwrights, professional theater companies, filmmakers, producers, museums, publishers and the like. Many young people from Hartford and across Connecticut hone their respective crafts via a wide array of different program offerings including Greater Hartford Arts Council's Neighborhood Studios, Hartford Stage Young Company (where they perform an annual, contemporary production from Shakespeare's body of work), the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Niro Boutique's Niro Foundation, and HartBeat Ensemble's Youth Play Institute.

Hartford native Cindy Martinez, a Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts alum and HartBeat Ensemble cast member/Community Liaison, is looking to make her mark as an actress. Talented and driven, Cindy has starred in a number of local stage productions and independent films. Looking to sharpen her acting skills, Cindy has taken on an aggressive fundraising goal in hopes of gaining enough funds to attend professional actors training at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts (prompted to action after getting a rejection letter for a scholarship). Cindy has set a lofty fundraising deadline of November 29th for herself and has already managed to raise $2,672!

Having had the opportunity to work with Cindy during my blogging stint with HartBeat Ensemble, I can vouch for her talent and how motivated she is!
"My dream is to be on Highway 91N on December 27th!" Says Cindy. 
If you're interested in helping her reach her goal of $4,000, click her PayPal account to donate! More importantly, peep her appeal in this video...






October 24, 2011

These and Those: In Which My Hair Uncovers Dirty Truths


In these uncertain times where 9-to-5 jobs are difficult to come by due to asshole companies' discriminatory behavior and folks pushing forward to eke out an income working for themselves, money is tight and happy hour prices don't always put a smile on one's face once the bill comes. Fortunately Zula, located at 901 Main Street in downtown Hartford manages to keep it classy and sassy while providing a diverse crowd, good food, great music, and an outstanding happy hour from 4pm-7pm, so that folks don't side-eye their bill while angrily digging their wallet out of their purse or back pockets. $3 wines and drafts, $5 cocktails, and $4 plates. Why not? I was having a particularly good hair day this past Friday and ventured inside where I chatted up a personable and accommodating bartender named Jessica. 
Jessica kept me company and divulged interesting details about her life as a bartender before rapper, Keith Murray's sister found her way inside... apparently seduced by the halo of awesomeness that was my hair that day. She said she spied it through the plate glass window. My hair is touch and go whenever I wear un-bunned; some days it's just OK and other days it's particularly eye-catching. 

Now I'm familiar with this obviously cool woman (whose name always eludes me, unfortunately)- as I've run into her on numerous occasions downtown, where she resides. I had no idea until this past Friday that she was related to the Def Squad member, however. Keith's sister and I chatted about this and that... mostly regarding what her brother was currently up to and we pontificated a little about dating. Lately, I just choose not to do it. I'm really working on focusing getting to where I'd like to be professionally. Also, running into an unwanted nuisance I can't seem to escape a few days prior and then receiving a rambling voice mail this evening from another one, who once divulged an unfortunate story to me (on a FIRST quasi-DATE) about why his penis was virtually non-existent, has prompted me (an atheist type) to want to spend the remainder of my adult life in a convent for wayward dating souls. But I do enjoy hearing about what other people are up to in their love/sex lives. Keith Murray's sister spoke about a man she'd been dating for about a month, whose company she seemed to enjoy. He bought her gifts and he took her out to dine at fine restaurants. I happened to ask if they'd ever been to Zula. "This is too open for him. He likes more restrained, sort of fancier places. He probably wouldn't like this atmosphere." She suggested. We continued to make interesting conversation and shortly after, she excused herself to the bathroom. Suddenly a man and a young Black woman walked in. He pulled out Keith's sister's chair and  I alerted him, "Oh... someone's sitting there." He slid it back up to the bar sans incident... 
Keith's sister returned from the bathroom and surprised, hugged the man with familiarity. He and the young woman retreated to the opposite end of the bar. Considering our conversation just moments ago, Keith's sister alerted me that the man she hugged was the so-called charming fellow she'd been seeing, who bought her gifts, and who quite possibly would not take her out to dine at Zula... and it was obvious why. 

It gave me no pleasure whatsoever to see her obvious discomfort and dismay, especially when she said, "He told me he's here with someone else." I suggested that she "be cool" and finish enjoying her drink. A friend I spied and then a cool Hartfordite I recognized from and communicated with on Twitter, as well as an inebriated Afro-latina woman who mistakenly took and opened my purse to retrieve money to pay for her drinks would later distract me. So I never saw Keith's sister leave... The cad and his date were gone from the bar and slipped out into the cool, autumn night as well, and I wouldn't see how the awkward situation panned out in the end. My hope is that Keith's sister didn't go home too upset and put out. My hope is that I randomly run into her again. I'm not sure why this man felt compelled to try to put the wool over Keith Murray's sister's eyes and I won't speculate, as I've stopped trying to decipher the complicated adagio dance women and men, when courting one another. It's best to piss into the wind and just tread as steadily as one can in these matters. 

I'd like to think that if my hair hadn't been so awesome that day, Keith's sister would not have felt inspired to join me and stay long enough to see her paramour's dark-sided ways. And this is why I'll never bid my natural hair adieu. 

October 06, 2011

Hartford Politicking


ATTENTION HARTFORD RESIDENTS: I'm currently collaborating on a story about this year's voting process in Hartford, in response to the current campaigning and to perhaps gauge current voting trends in the Hartbeat. I'm wondering if you could PLEASE answer a few questions for me in the comments section or on the Coffee Rhetoric Facebook fan page.  I would greatly appreciate it and PLEASE be candid with your answers. This is an opportunity to have your voice heard! I would love to be able to feature some of your answers in my article. You'll be helping me out a lot! Thanks in advance! 


  • Are you currently registered to vote? Why/Why not? 
  • How do you feel about politics? And did you vote in the recent primary? Why/Why not? 
  • Two candidates ran for Mayor of Hartford. Did you vote for either? Why/Why not?
  • No Democratic women were endorsed for city council. Thoughts? 

Photo by Merle Davis


Coffee Buzz: See You BACK on the Flipside!


This past spring, I had the rare pleasure of being invited to document the behind-the-scenes drama that went into building a main-stage play.  Hartford, CT based Theater Company; HartBeat Ensemble extended an opportunity to me to blog their experiences finally bringing their play, Flipside to fruition in its entirety. For about 6 months, the creative undertaking allowed me to be able to tell a "day job" to kick rocks and I got to see what truly makes actors tick; Their methods, their frustrations, their elation when they have a nervous breakthrough... It was like reality television, but with more substance, minus the physical altercations, minimal wig-snatching, and without any dubious, "piecey" editing. Here's the in-depth skinny on Flipside (insert flashback music here)...

Working in tandem with a local filmmaker and video producer named Helder Mira, we caught the Flipside actors and director during some of their most vulnerable moments, as they worked tirelessly to bring their play to bigger main stage, in Hartford, CT. We also saw them take a donated space in the renovated, LEED certified, multipurpose commercial space, The Hollander Building, and make it their own; building a stage, painting, and putting their personal touches on it, turning it into an intimate performing space that would later be used to host fundraising shindigs, jazz concerts, and poetry showcases.  
Sitting in that performance space during rehearsal proved to be some of the coldest days I ever endured. It was in the middle of one of the most horrific winters of my adult life, here in the northeast. However,  it registers as one of my most memorable collaborations to date and I enjoyed it; Cold, dour, and ugly. 
Needless to say, Flipside had a successful spring-summer run. Audiences appreciated its take on the War on Drugs and its effect on the surrounding communities.  

Flipside is based on actual interviews with two real people, and tells the story of a friendship between a Hartford teen named Bo and an undercover narcotics agent named Nick. The show combines original music and spoken-word poetry throughout the play’s narrative on drug use and trafficking in neighborhoods.  Audiences agree that Flipside relays a compelling discourse on the War on Drugs and is interspersed with a little humor and very catchy musical numbers…

Directed by Co-Founding Artistic Director, Greg Tate, Flipside involved two years worth of painstaking research and subsequent workshops in partnership with Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Regional and Municipal Policy, Portland Oregon’s Sojourn Theater and Manchester Community College; HartBeat has lead open dialogues and over 40 individual interviews on the subject in order to create the play.
“We found that no matter what a person believes about drug use and selling, they tend to be very passionate about their feelings on the matter.” says Tate, “Of course that makes for great theater.  It’s tricky, and very fun stuff.”
(Queue back to the present) ...

Now, back by overwhelming demand, Flipside will be making a limited run this October 13th-29th at The Hollander Building in downtown Hartford at 410 Asylum Street! Show times begin at 7:30 pm and will run every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tickets are $20 with a discounted price of $15 for all students, seniors, and Let's Go Arts! members. Call 860.548.9144 or visit http://hartbeatensemble.org to purchase tickets. 
 
HartBeat Ensemble recently had a raucously good time celebrating at the Mark Twain House and Museum, in commemoration of their 10 year anniversary. For the past ten years, HartBeat Ensemble has been creating original, professional theater based on stories from the Hartford community. Through Main-stage plays, Open-Air performances and Education programs, HartBeat makes theater accessible beyond the barriers of class, race or gender.
Since it’s founding in 2001, HartBeat has created six full-length original plays. HartBeat’s flagship education program, the Youth Play Institute, works in partnership with five different school districts to bring urban and suburban youth together for intensive month-long play building residencies in which they create and perform original one-act plays. HartBeat also conducts bullying prevention programs in schools called “Startin’ Drama.”


Check out HartBeat Ensemble's behind-the-scenes, Flipside documentary series 
Also, read my behind-the-scenes guest blog posts





July 29, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Jendayi "Makingyoulaff" Covington For the Win!

Jendayi w/ Sherri Shepherd
I recently had the opportunity to speak with up-and-coming comedienne and Hartford native, Jendayi Covington, who was fresh from and excited over her official (make or break) debut at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, where she’d just graduated. Jendayi, who was always keen at making people laugh was prodded into taking the class after a friend (with the help of a Groupon), paid for her to take a course at Gotham... 
“I didn’t really take it seriously when she bought me the course and I also don’t really know my way around New York… I’m not familiar with it. It took me three months to take the course.” Jendayi explained. “Once I decided to call and take the course, I started commuting from Connecticut to New York every week.”
Reluctant at first, Jendayi decided to ease on down the road towards becoming a successful comedienne. It just happened that on her first day, instructor and prolific comedy writer and comedienne in her own right,  Karen Bergreen was out sick. Jendayi hit a wall in the form of a dour substitute instructor who probably had been heckled to death during their attempts at stand-up. Jendayi had entered her first day of class with a routine she hadw ritten on scraps of paper- (still unfamiliar with the standard format for comedy writing) - and stood up to present her set, in hopes of receiving constructive criticism. Instead, Substoot Teecher and possible dream killer, bitingly told Jedayi how terrible her material was, causing her to become conflicted over whether she should return to Gotham or not. 
Having reached an impasse, Jendayi sent an impassioned email to Karen Bergreen, expressing the apprehension the first class had caused her... 
“After Karen responded, I felt so much better!” Jendayi said. “She told me not to flood my mind watching other comedians… to be myself, because all comedians are not the same. That they’re telling stories about their lives. After that email discussion, my faith and passion was restored, because I LOVE to write. That first class and other people’s critiques were giving me writer’s block and I was nervous and in tears, I was so overwhelmed.” 
Determined but still unsure how to redeem herself, Jendayi (who's also a hairstylist) - marched into her next class at Gotham, having decided to perform the very same set that was initially shot down by the Substoot, for Karen Bergreen. 
“I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS!” Bergreen reportedly exclaimed. “Don’t change a thing!”
Jendayi w/ the incomparable Paul Mooney!
Jendayi performed at her class’s graduation at Gotham Comedy Club. With encouragement from her husband to be herself and to “mentally shut down the noise from critics." Jendayi also recalled her class with fondness and a hint of WTF voice, when relaying some of the material her classmates had presented in class... 
"Comedy comes with a certain maturity level... You have to have a thick skin and be a great writer and comedy class has a lot of freedom, of speech, so some people were just saying some random, crazy stuff... making inappropriate comments about natural catastrophes and saying things about other races... you gotta understand timing and flow. You either have it or don't." 
She invited all of her family and friends to make the trip to see her perform during graduation, chartering a bus just  six days prior, selling out seats to family, friends, and her supporters, who rolled deep to her graduation and subsequent performance. Her set elicited major kudos from Gotham Comedy Club producer, Andy Engel... who was floored by Jendayi’s routine and spoke highly of her to The View co-host and comedienne Sherri Shepherd, who she later networked with ... 
“The feedback was tremendous! I got a standing ovation that night! Not just from my supporters who came out to see me… but from the whole audience! Andy, who doesn’t co-sign someone’s unless they’re really good, gave me a hug at the end and so did Karen. It was awesome! I got introduced to Sherri Shepherd as the best student and I got to network with her… it was… just so cool.” Jendayi recalled, seemingly still overcome by the experience. 
“My Facebook wall was filled with feedback from other comedians. DJ Big Man (from Hot 93.7) shouted me out on the radio the next morning and my phone was ringing off the hook. Promoters were calling me… People were Facebook messaging me, offering to be my manager... it was crazy!” she recalled. 
Well-schooled and full of undeniably raw talent, Jendayi is definitely equipped with all the right tools to keep people in stitches. Don't sleep on her... 
Check her out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jendayi.scott


July 24, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Bracelets and Booze

Last night, I had the opportunity to build with some friends and drink copious amounts of wine and delicious mixed drinks with chaste lewd names. All in all, it was an evening not unlike your standard bible study... except there was freak dancing, prompted along by said wine and spirits.
A hilarious and lovely woman by the name of Riqui regaled us with anecdotes involving sex, thugs, and rock and roll... She also laid out an awesome display of handmade, bracelets and earrings strung with wooden and glass beads ranging a very reasonable $7 - $10! 
We were all sold. And forked over our dollar bills. Riqui's bracelets come in a wide variety of color combinations and accessorize quite nicely. She's also mindful of special requests, has made beaded anklets, and will eventually add necklaces and larger, fabric earrings and hoops to her arsenal of cool accessories. Her website is currently still under construction, so please feel free to express any inquiries in the comments section, as I think they'd make great gifts for loved ones, friends, and family. Speaking of the comments section ...
Riqui was gracious enough- (with much begging and prodding by the Committee of Me, Myself, & I) - to donate this earrings and bracelet set made with amber, coral, and Tiffany-blue glass beads for Coffee Rhetoric's VERY FIRST giveaway! An exciting feat for me since Zaahir created the Coffee Rhetoric discount for his company, Exotic Fragrance, to much fanfare. Any chance I get to be able to engage these sorts of fun, promotional opportunities, is an exciting venture and is done with genuine love for the product and admiration for the person at the helm of it. 
Leave a witty response with your email address, in the comments section of this post for the opportunity to win it! I will randomly choose a name on August 1st and contact the winner via email, as well as announce them on Coffee Rhetoric. 
Take advantage because I begged Riqui to GIVE me the bracelet and earrings free of charge before she was gripped and incapacitated by drunken revelry, to GIVE TO YOU, because I think she is talented and that folks would truly enjoy her beaded trinkets. I'm wearing two of her pieces as I type this. Anyway, get into it... 

Up for Grabs! 


June 24, 2011

In Which Coffey Has Much To Do!

I have a lot on my mind and have a few pressing topics I've been dying to weigh-in on however I'm grappling with sinus (again) and throat issues and can't really think clearly enough to run my mouth via my computer, effectively. I've also been besieged by unsettling images of having to sleep next to whoever my partner will be, while they listen to me snore horribly due to these said chronic sinus issues... but I digress...
I've also got quite a bit on my plate and have attended or will be attending a few events in the coming days. It is a great time to be in Hartford this summer, so Kanye-shrug at anything contrary you may have heard, because people have no clue what they're talking about. Trust me on this. 
This past Friday, I had the privilege of being able to attend this year's Juneteenth Celebration Gala thrown by The Amistad Center for Arts and Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. This required me to find and buy a dress I didn't entirely hate and wear it (without having to double up on Spanx) and condense my belongings in a clutch (a difficult feat, as I only shoulder carry-on luggage sized purses).
The well-heeled were in great form as they got crunk in their formal regalia to the DJ's set list of Luke Campbell, Jay-Z, Beyonce and contemporary pop-folks of the like. I must say, it was amusing watching political power-players and Black society types thrusting their hips, pumping their fists, and chest pumping in their formal wear as Uncle Luke challenged everyone to "Shake Them Daisy Dukes!" Compelling and fun stuff. I was particularly fond of the Lemon-Basil Martini as one of the featured drinks and could use another right now.
This Friday, as in later on today, I'm hoping to be able to attend The Gil Scott-Heron REVIEW in Reflection at The Hollander Building downtown, presented by arts and culture initiative, Center Without Walls and Hartford-based theater company HartBeat Ensemble! There is an awesome lineup of spoken-word poets and jazzologists scheduled to perform and despite my weepy sinuses, swollen throat, and the wet weather I plan on being in attendance from 7pm to 10pm. 
And since they're determined to keep it crunk - (Yes, I like that word... And?) - since bringing their originally penned play Flipside to the Hartford masses, HartBeat Ensemble will also be presenting a stellar poetry showcase July 8th also at The Hollander Building at 410 Asylum Street, downtown Hartford. More on this event coming soon, but keep the date open, because ten of Connecticut's dopest poets and spoken-word performers will be bringing creative REALNESS to the space. There will also be a pre-performance shindig with BBQ (vegetarian fare as well) and booze. Pre-party festivities are from 6:30 -7:30pm and the showcase is from 8 -10:30pm. 
So if one of your mealy-mouthed colleagues complain that there's nothing to do in Hartford and to avoid mushing him/her in the face with an open palm, patiently tell them that this summer, things are going down (basement) in the HartBeat and recount these events to them. 

June 14, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Nu Style Cut Creators


“In many traditional cultures communal grooming was a social event where a woman could socialize and strengthen bonds between herself, other women and their families. An individual's hair groomer was usually someone whom they knew closely. Sessions included shampooing, oiling, combing, braiding, twisting adding accessories. Hair grooming of afro-textured hair was considered a very important, intimate, spiritual part of one's overall wellness, and would last hours and, sometimes, days depending on the hair style and skill required.” –Wikipedia, entry on Afro-textured hair

… And so explains the importance and camaraderie surrounding many Barbershops and Hair Salons. I’ve always been more fascinated by the fraternal aspect of most Barbershops however. They seem like places where men not only congregate to get themselves freshly groomed and have their fades lined up, but a space where they open up to one another and share their inner-most feelings about the myriad of topics from relationships (especially) to racial issues to current events. I’ve always wanted to walk into a barbershop and sit amongst men as they poured their hearts out, laughed and guffawed about the trials and tribulations of interacting with women and dating, notwithstanding my very female presence in their midst. Not to mention the men (most of them very attractive) from all walks of life, spanning all ages and income levels that frequent barbershops; their own little slice of heaven… and a sliver of celestialness for single women. Every now and again, while traipsing around downtown, I’d slow down a spell in front of a barbershop operated on Ann Street in downtown Hartford and peer inside through the window (pretending to see if the post office was open). This very same barbershop has now re-opened on 255 Main Street, 1 South and Downtown Hartford, CT and is owned and operated by Cedric Roberson.
Armed with some vitals this one particularly hot afternoon, I decided to walk inside rather than leer at the patrons, barbers, and stylists through the window and ask for one Mr. Cedric Roberson. I introduced myself, and found a very warm, low-key, and friendly gentleman who was glad to walk me to the back for a brief chat and offered me a cold bottle of water to help cool down.
I would learn that Cedric, a quiet spoken but seemingly driven Hartford business owner, has been in the business for the past 18 years and is a skilled Loctitian who oversees a few other comparable dreadlock experts, barbers, stylists, and braiders. Community and being at the helm of a positive work space seems to be of the utmost importance to Cedric. Upon walking in, I noted how quiet, clean, and cheery the space and people were.

“When we moved to Main Street, we scaled back and are just keeping the basics. We went from renting on Ann Street, to actually owning this space. We’re more visible on Main Street and there’s more foot traffic.” Cedric explained. This creates an opportunity for new comers to check them out! Nu Style Cut Creators specializes in the cultivation and maintenance of natural hair (and you all know how I laud natural hair!)… This includes braids and especially the process and maintenance of dreadlocks.
Upon browsing around the neat shop, I took in its shiny hardwood floors, a mounted flat-screen TV (turned to a sport of course), the easy flow of conversation and more importantly the display case filled with products… including PERFUME OILS AND INCENSE! I hastily made my way over. Cedric unlocked the case and allowed me to peruse and woman-handle the various scents. There were so many to choose from… so I chose about nine of them including; Amber, Frankincense, Lick Me All Over, and the aptly named and scented Michelle Obama. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Cedric Roberson is a noted spiritual and community leader, who oversees his own ministry and encourages people toward their path to enlightenment and spirituality, prompting his shop’s patrons to appreciate his presence even more!
Cedric said that appointments are gladly accepted and walk-ins welcome! Nu Style Cut Creators’ Hours of operation are Tuesday – Friday 8am – 6pm and Saturday 7am – 5pm. Credit cards are accepted!

More importantly, there is free parking!! For more information call 860.560.3600

I genuinely love discovering noted, local business owners and interesting people in the Hartford community! Makes navigating my city that much more exciting!

May 23, 2011

Exotic Fragrance Redux!

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the smellnificent, creamy soft wonders of Exotic Fragrance perfume oils and shea butter... a Hartford-based company owned by Zaahir Qawi. I've corresponded with him several times since then and spoke to him on the phone, only to find a pleasant and driven business man working hard to hustle- (to much fanfare as illustrated by the initial email I received, that made me privy to his business)- my favorite type of products to use! Since that time I've discovered that Zaahir is in the process of checking out rental spaces in the area, so as to have a store front for us Hartford folk to frequent for high-grade perfume oils, incense, oil burners and natural products for skin and hair.
In the interim and to appease all you fine readers who inquired about Zaahir's products and for those who are just plain ol' interested, he was generous enough to offer a Coffee Rhetoric discount... Order from Exotic Fragrance and save 10% off your order! Are you stoked?? I am! I like Amber Cream, Egyptian Swirl, and Rihanna's Reb'l Fleur (much to my surprise) myself and I've gotten a lot of compliments from wanted and unwanted admirers, but I digress. I use raw shea butter by the tubs and he just got batches of fresh raw shea in- (Shea butter is magical. Trust)- after having been sold out. The Coffee Rhetoric discount is from him to you. Get on it! 
--> Exotic Fragrance Coffee Rhetoric Discount
That is all. 
 

April 28, 2011

Finally...

After much ado about PLENTY, the play I've been blogging about so diligently... Flipside... opens tonight! And will run through May 21st at The Hollander Building at Asylum Street, downtown Hartford every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, 7:30pm! Tickets are $20 with a discounted price of $15 for all students, old folks, and Let's Go Arts! members. 
There's originally composed music courtesy of Martin Carrillo, singing,Voguing, creative flashbacks through time,  spoken-word, discussion about wormholes, Chinaza Uche takes his pants off, so forth and so on. Opening night is sold out... but alas, Hartford Theater goers have a whole month to check it out. April 29th is HartBeat Ensemble's opening fundraiser... For a paltry $50 (you know it's paltry when compared to the cost of other fundraising events), there'll be noshables, a DJ spinning, and an opportunity to get a little tipsy before settling down at 7:30 to watch another Flipside performance.  
In the meantime, since some of you interested folk probably won't be able to make tonight's opening show considering it's sold out, catch up on all the behind-the-scenes drama on HartBeatEnsembleTube, filmed by the talented Rabbit Ears Media, and read my witty and revealing blog content on HartBeat Ensemble's website. I'm stoked. 

April 23, 2011

Pedestrian Tales: You Don't Measure Up Sir

As often as I find myself in interesting and sometimes compromising situations on the bus (some man gave me his number the other day, and said he "sees" me "a lot" downtown and insisted we should have lunch. Even though I disagreed, I feigned like I was entering his number in my phone anyway) or in a taxi (I've been driven around by some colorful and seemingly unstable Yellow Cab drivers)- I often stumble into random and somewhat awkward scenarios while walking the streets and minding my own business. This past week was no different. I usually roll my eyes behind my of dark shades, purse my lips irritatingly, and ignore the foolatry I'm being propositioned or antagonized with and keep pushing forward or I cross the street and simply  re-route my progress. Every now and again however, I like to deviate from my usual mask of disdain and loathing for much of man-kind and play along... sort of like I did in this Pedestrian Tale... 
It was a particularly windy spring day, late afternoon... post-work rush hour as I took quick, hard-stomping strides towards Webster Bank at City Place, anxious to get some cash so I could hit up the noodle bar at The Market at Hartford 21. A lanky, not up to par, younger looking man appeared out of nowhere, and started walking alongside me. "I like your bag. That's nice," he said, side-eyeing me up and down. "Yup, thanks" I answered dryly. I walked at a clip and he managed to keep pace. I was almost at the bank and wanted him to veer off and leave me the hell alone. "I like your shades too... they fit nicely on your face," he continued.  "Umm-hmm" I said aloofly. 
"Yeah, you look really nice. So do you have a man or anything?" He asked promptly. Suddenly, I stopped walking (plus I'd arrived at the door of Webster Bank's enclosed ATM machine).  
"Yes." I answered with a polite smile. "I'm practically married!" 
"What do you mean, practically married?" He needed to know.  
"I live with my paramour." 
"Oh. You faithful? How old are you?" he asked.
"I've no reason not to be. He pays the rent and all of the utilities, bills, cable. He takes me on all expense paid trips and dinners, plus he does most of the cooking. I'd hate to mess that up. Plus I'm 45. Probably way too old for you."  (Lies!)
He blinked at me. "Um, I promise you it'll be worth it, to get to know me. You're just my type too. You look like you're 28-years-old." He pressed.   
I surveyed his low slung, too big for his frame jeans and unkempt cornrows from behind my shades and asked "Would you be willing to inherit all of those expenses?" He thought about it for a second, then said, "Oh. Okay then. It was nice meeting you."
I nodded in a self-satisfied WINNING on tiger's blood sort of way, because in my past experiences dealing with unwanted suitors, lying about being "taken" left them undaunted. 
He turned to leave me be, but not before asking, "So, um... you got any sisters?" ... 


April 19, 2011

Coffee Buzz: Arranka!

Dani Arranka (center) w/ party revelers
Anytime I've asked friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even my sister if they've any idea who local talent, Dani Arranka is, I'm generally met with the same incredulous answer: "You don't know who DANI ARRANKA is??? EVERYONE knows Dani!" to which I reply somewhat furtively and regretfully, "I don't. Perhaps I'm the only one..." I know and have worked with Dani's sister and at her suggestion, have watched his Polo Club performances via YouTube in the past, so I've heard of him and his work  but wasn't acquainted with him socially, but I still felt like I was amongst those in-the-know via osmosis but alas, this simply did not suffice. My one brief encounter involved my recognizing and stopping him at Dish in downtown Hartford last year, during which I was on a date and Lady Gaga just happened to be in town at the Excel Center. He was amongst the daring Little Monsters milling about, dressed in their Avant-Garde and fiercest finest, and I recall him being gracious and very receptive to me... a stranger... intercepting his flow, despite not having any idea who I was. Beyond that interlude, I was determined to find out more about Dani Arranka... and so I hopped on an opportunity to attend his Born Day Party/Music Video premiere at Real Artways this past Saturday... accompanying a friend and local socialite who'd gotten the Facebook invite to show up and look fierce and by extension I took this to mean I also got an invitation, so off I went!
Dani Arranka gets the crowd hyped
As expected, Dani's supporters, friends, family, and even Hartford Mayor, Pedro Segarra turned out to wish Dani Happy Birthday and view what was seemingly the long-awaited premiere of his music video to the infectious, electro-dance-pop song, Be Like Me. The tune is a manifesto for those who are "confident, driven, and fashion forward with that 'I don't care' attitude" Dani explained. Watching Dani float around the gallery in a stylish, flowy green dress ... Euro-kissing and greeting his guests appreciatively, it suddenly became clear just who Dani Arranka is... The quintessential, post-modern performance artist who's an amalgamation of Pete Burns  (pre-plastic surgery), Gaga, Lady Miss Kier, and just a dash of Madonna, mixed with a heaping helping of his own sound and method of style. He definitely lives up to Arrancar! Which loosely translates to"starting" in Spanish... or perhaps to "take off"... and he's definitely slated to take flight... particularly since the likes of RuPaul's Drag Race personalities are jamming to his tune during their performances. Definitely an illustration and true testament to just how dynamic and diverse Hartford's arts and entertainment community is. The Be Like Me music video is a visual tour de force co-directed and edited by Wameng Lor along with photography studio, The Terrible Child (who got their feet wet directing for the first time in this instance). "I thought to myself, it would be interesting to have the video be a 70's horror inspired video about a high fashion cult who kidnaps me, because they believe if they eat me, they will turn into me. Which happens at the end of the video with the main girl. Wameng Lor and The Terrible Child are amazing visionaries!" Dani Arranka explains.  Just see it for yourself and make sure to peruse YouTube for more of Dani Arranka's work!