And the rest is history…

In 2013, I was hosting an Open Stage on Monday nights at the short-lived Frankenstone Art Center on Foster in North Park.

Dedicated to the motto “Universal Liberation Through Creative Self-Actualization” it was an open stage that welcomed all types of performer (particularly first time performers) and encouraged everyone to expand their boundaries and horizons as an Artist.

That very first show someone who had just come to spectate felt comfortable enough to read their own words in public for the first time ever- and I knew I was on to something.

A couple shows later, one of the poets told me about a space right around the corner on Kimball. It was called the Roots Room and was run by a veteran Chicago musician and artist who was dedicated to the same principles of fostering creative development in all people.

I finally got up the gumption to head over there a few months later and go inside. That was the night I first met Stann Champion.

It was Variety Open Mic night, so I did some stand-up, poetry, and storytelling in a Combo Platter set; then Stann and I did a few tunes with me accompanying him on harmonica.

We hit it off immediately, and I began co-hosting Variety Night every 2nd Friday of the month for the next several years. Stann and I also got together with the amazing rhythm section of his Reggae/Calypso band (Roots Rock Society) and formed a new Blues/Rock/Roots band called the Propaganda Machine.

After the demise of the Roots Room in 2018, we both took a break from open mic hosting for a while.

In February of 2019 we were offered the opportunity to take over FretKnot Fridays at the Independence Tap. We started slow but soon built things up to where our old Roots Room crowd had reconstituted.

Then the magic kicked into high gear and we kept adding regulars to the mix who were just as committed to the principles of Creativity and Community as we were.

One year later we have a beautiful thing going on!!!

Stann and I still love to rock the duo thing!
(photo by Greg Morelli)