When Jerry Quickley took to the stage at Amoeba Records in Hollywood on Thursday, October 14th, it represented the fruition of 18 months of hard work. That night his and fellow producers Christian Jon Meoli, Clayton Rohner, and Chris Spiro's DVD "Beats For Baghdad" (click here to see the review) documentary was released to the public. To support the release Quickley and fellow poets Besskep and Mark Gonzalez held an in-store performance at Amoeba Records.
Starting at 7:00 PM Quickley took the stage and introduced his "labor of love," then recited a poem before introducing Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who appears in the "Beats for Baghdad", recited a poem that was not featured on the DVD. His performance captured the audience's attention with his fiery recital. After him Besskep, another artist featured on the DVD, recited a poem that does appear on the DVD. In Contrast to Gonzalez, Besskep speaks with a cooler tone and more laid back style, but his content is just as incendiary leaving no social ill touched upon. Gonzalez and Besskep then performed a duet that flowed between the two with ease despite their different styles.
After the duet, Quickley reappeared on stage to perform with Walter Miranda from Ozomatli on keyboards and drummer Clinton Cameron. He performed poems both featured on "Beats For Baghdad" as well as new ones. The crowd was very responsive to his performance, many people attended solely to see Quickley, a well known spoken work artist and popular radio host. The many shoppers in Amoeba also took notice due to the power of all of the poets' performances.
After the in-store performance, a release party was held at Cine Space in Hollywood, sponsored by LA Splash Magazine and benefiting two charities: Veterans for Peace and Helping Others Through Entertainment. Those who attended the in-store performance and purchased the DVD received free admission to the after party. Cine Space was a great venue, with a classy performance area in the back that had great sound, nice booths, and a well stocked bar.
The party featured a live performances from New York City band the Fabulous Entourage whose catchy melodies and back-up singers made them reminiscent of the pop band The B-52's. Following the Entourage, television star Danny Nucci and his band performed a mellow set featuring the actor on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Up-and-coming hip hop band Area Product also performed, laying down great beats with clever and insightful lyrics, putting the perfect exclamation point on an evening of great performances.
The turnout to both the in-store performance and the after party may not have been what you would see at a major Hollywood production, nevertheless the crowd was always enthused and all the performances were excellent. The response to this work was very good overall I thought, and with the proceeds supporting charity it made the night all the more worth it.
Currently, Quickley is in negotiations and planning for a second trip to Iraq that will again aim to tell the human story from a "ground up" perspective and feature other concerned artists as well.