The Texas Coastal Bend is about to be conquered.
The intrigue began in March 2015 when conspirators first met on a Thursday evening at the Winery on the Bay at 106 S. Austin Street in Rockport. The plot was hatched under the guise of something called Open Mic Poetry and Jazz Night.
Open Mic Poetry and Jazz night is the brainchild of Skoot Larson, a native of San Pedro who recently moved to Texas. A member of the Rockport Writers Group, Skoot is a novelist, poet and musician. A jazz authority whose knowledge of decades of jazz music is encyclopedic he was dubbed His Royal Hipness by American stage performer, recording artist and hip poet/comic Lord Richard Buckley.
Those who have never been to a poetry reading probably imagine a stuffy academic type in a tweed jacket with elbow pads standing at a lectern droning something obscure and incomprehensible while the audience sips black coffee and tries to pay attention.
The Coastal Bend Open Mic nights are nothing like that. An aficionado of bebop, Skoot was inspired to launch Open Mic Night by a form of entertainment called “word jazz” where poets recite their work backed by jazz musicians, creating an especially intense aural experience. While those who want to perform are welcome to read favorites by other authors, most recite their own original work—poetry, short stories, and novel excerpts. Sometimes rhymed, sometimes free verse, the Open Mic night readings run the gamut from humorous to heart-rending, delivered with feeling by the person who wrote the words.
There’s not a tweed jacket in sight. Hawaiian shirts and graphic tee-shirts abound and there’s no coffee but there is wine. Winery on the Bay is no smoke-filled bar or stuffy coffeehouse. Begun in Gruene, Texas, it’s a boutique winery that produces its own wine. Using juice from vineyards around the world, the vintners ferment, filter, bottle and label 30 varietals of red, white, fruit-infused and dessert wine and offer it for sale by the glass or by the bottle. You can sample four tastings for $3.00 or, buy and keep the souvenir glass for $5 and get those four tastings along with it.
As Open Mic night gained fans, the conspirators began to meet every Thursday evening to advance their plan to capture the hearts and souls of Coastal Bend residents with engaging music and riveting spoken word, holding the readings inside the Winery on the Bay or on its patio with views of the bay.
Rockport conquered, they targeted their next city: Port Aransas. The first Open Mic Poetry and Jazz night to be held on Mustang Island will be Sunday, May 3, 2015, beginning at 6 p.m. at La Barataria, 3500 Island Moorings Parkway in Port Aransas. La Barataria is also not a smoke-filled bar or dim coffeehouse but rather a fine restaurant and wine bar with a deck overlooking Island Moorings marina.
Both Open Mic Nights are free for both readers and the audience. No RSVP or registration is necessary; just show up.
Today, the Coastal Bend; tomorrow, the world. Mwahahaha.
For more information visit the Texas Coastal Poetry page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/703601096416927. Be a cool cat. Make the scene. I’ll see you there.