Intention, a Night at the Flyaway

by Kirk McConnell

Last week I found an event called Intention in the Flyway of the Fox Theater in Pomona.   Intention is a cultural collection of creative individuals performing fluid and rhythmic Spoken Word poetry, as music bounces acoustically off the loft’s ceiling and walls.     

People from near and far had gathered to connect, mingle and enjoy an evening filled with good vibes and grooves from the DJ, NICKYBOI.  It was an entertaining medly, an evening filled with an ambiance that allowed you to put your guard down and have a good time.  Intention meets in this upper loft on the last Tuesday of each month to gather, create, share and showcase new talents.

This was my first time attending Intention (on Instagram: @showintention.)  As an individual, I do not get out much and socialize. Being an introvert has its disadvantages, as I am eager to meet new people and make new friends. For me, attending this not so formal, but wear something nice and appropriate, made me feel at home, in my element, and relaxed.  Relaxing is hard to do when you do not get out regularly, but a turtle needs to leave its shell once in awhile. There is a $5 dollar cover fee, and you do need I.D. to enter as this event is for people over the age of 21. There is the option to drink alcohol at the crafted beverage bar. However, I enjoyed imbibing ginger ale, and its bubbly and comforting nature.

The event at Intention began around 7:30 pm, and many people were already showing up, ordering drinks or taquitos out on the veranda.  I did not eat during the program. However, my friend ordered some beef taquitos for me afterwards, and I enjoyed them.  One of the first things that happens after you enter the large, spacious loft to is get a stamp on your hand.  If you want to protect your hearing, it is a good idea to bring earplugs.  It does get loud and if you want to hold a conversation with someone, it is better to do it outside on the veranda where there are benches.

As the program is about to begin, the DJ quiets down his music and we are introduced with a video slideshow of past Intention shows and we are greeted by our host Brian SUPERB Oliva.   He welcomed everyone and gave a few instructions to the audience, especially for some of the first timers who may not have had the experience of attending an event such as this. SUPERB was the first performer of the night, and one of the expressions he and many others used was the word “dope.”  As a boy in the 1970s, I remembered some of the words people used then, and I felt like “dope” was just an evolution of other such words like “chill”, “fly”, “cool”, “jive.”  It was amusing and humorous for me, I chuckled because I felt a little dated.  Regardless of the expression, we were free to show our entertainers our gratitude and appreciation in ways by clicking our fingers, blinking our eyes, nodding our heads, or hooting so that they knew we had connected.

The whole purpose for coming to Intention is so that we can connect and meet someone new. SUPERB emphasized this through out the evening, so that no one would leave without having said hello or meeting someone new. One of the first persons I met was SUPERB himself, who is a friend of the person I came.  Later, I met some of the performers during intermission and after the show.  After SUPERB shared his Spoken Word poetry, I met Edmund Zambrano, an artist not unlike myself. He was painting a night scene picture, and it looked captivating and fantastic. We traded business cards and I was excited to make a new connection.  It was good to meet a kindred spirit with similar creative endeavors.

After the intermission and a short time of mingling, I returned to my seat, felt happy for once, and applauded for the next performer, Gill Sotu (www.gillsotu.com), another vividly creative and powerfully deep, sensitive and nerdy Spoken Word poet.  Gill Sotu wowed me with his talent. Not only did he share his ability to magically weave his poetry from his book, he also sang songs from a recent album he had released. One of Gill Sotu’s most impressive and inspiring poems was Ordinary Magic, which he has previously shared at TEDxSanDiego.  His poem is powerful, deeply emotional, an homage to comic book superheroes, family, being a parent and loneliness.  One of the lines that resonated with me was “We use our words to battle injustice,” and “We must change our definition of what we call the miraculous…which happens in the heart of a realization.”  Gill Sotu’s words are magical, entertaining and inspiring.  His poetry is something I hope to hear more in the near future. According to Gill Sotu, part of Ordinary Magic is the “Music you listen to that makes you close your eyes.” One of the things I liked most about Gill Sotu’s poem Ordinary Magic is his brutal honesty and thought provoking questions and statistics that challenge the way we see the mundane and ordinary world. You can see his video on YouTube (https://youtu.be/ycEF_x-VUuI)    

Following Gill Soto and a little more DJ-ing by NICKYBOI, SUPERB introduces us to Russell James Vista, a poet and musician. Let it be said that in his preferred name, Russell James’ music was “dope,” I think that he liked this word, and that is okay.  Russell James was entertaining, funny, creative, improvising and talented. I enjoyed the little jokes in between songs and poems, and relished laughing just a little bit. Although I cannot remember all of the songs and pieces that Russell James performed, he is an entertainer and has the ability to engage with the audience and get everyone into a groove. Russell James is a former student and worship leader from Azusa Pacific University, but don’t let that scare you. His lighthearted and humorous swagger and demeanor lifted everyone’s spirits in the room.  My favorite moment was when he performed a song by Luther Vandross, Never Too Much. This is one of my favorite songs, and it’s never too much, never too much , never too much. This was probably one of the highlights of the evening that sincerely made the evening most enjoyable. It was “dope.”

At the last intermission we were all invited to mingle a little, get some food, air, what ever we needed to do for a few minutes. The last act of the evening was performed by Lyrically Twisted and Dope By Design, a fantastically SUPERB and rhythmic amalgam of Birth of Cool meets bluenote meets hip hop, and they were delightfully impressive. Each member of Dope By Design seemed to be a well oiled machine (keyboards, drums, congas, bass, guitar, saxophone and vocals), jamming in unison, and then breaking away to each person’s solo. The lead singer, Lyrically Twisted, a Spoken Word poet, had lightning fast words and def style. His poetry flowed like a tidal wave of heart palpitating words where one had to listen carefully to catch each word that was cleverly spun and woven in dynamic rhythmic fashion.  In some ways, when Lyrically Twisted syncopated his words, he reminded me of Eminem’s Rap God, but better.  Imagine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHPRoCmEPE0) was one of the songs the band played toward the end and vividly painted a picture of a better life. The above link is from their EP.  I think is agreeable that most people want a better life and where people can live in safety and harmony.

As the evening closed, ears ringing only just a little, I felt cheerful, and happy that it was an evening well spent.  As an artist myself, it felt good to connect with other artists, and that was what this was all about- connecting with other people that share your passions and keeping culture, our stories, our truths and our art living and breathing.  I am looking forward to the last Tuesday in July when the next exciting evening of Intention will take place.

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