PHOTOS: WINTER MAGIC

Set the stage and they will come. The final open mic of the year was an all-out jam session, featuring more spontaneous on-stage collaborations than any other event we threw this year. It was the culmination of a quarter-long residency in the recording studio at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, once again in partnership with the Office of Arts & Culture and its Youth Arts program.

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After a tag team opening by DJ Close To The Sun and DJ Hirschurmouth, guitarist Joe Naranjo took to the stage, plugged into the Marshall, and ripped through a Rage Against the Machine cover. With the audience demanding more, Close To The Sun joined him on bass, with Noah Predko jumping on the drums. The impromptu three-piece rock band, all from West Seattle High School, jammed for a good ten minutes and set the tone for the rest of the evening. By the end of their extended jam, all the performers were itching to get on.

DJ Hirschurmouth rocked a couple new instrumentals before getting on the mic and performing his new song “Recovery” (check it out on his BandCamp page). DJ Close To The Sun followed with his own instrumentals (check them out on SoundCloud) – this was when things got really interesting. Robby Little (of The Black Chevys) started bobbing his head to the instrumentals and jumped on the bass. Co-Founder Thaddeus Turner got on the drums. Paris and Star grabbed the mics. It was the first time at an open mic where a live band performed over an instrumental track, much like how national touring artists use pre-recorded backing tracks to add sparkle to their live performances. At this point the energy shifted from a room full of individual artists silently checking each other out to a powerful collaborative community performance. It was epic.

One last thing about our guy Paris, who helped host the event. Paris understands the cipher. He lives for the cipher. It runs in his blood. He gets on the mic and by doing his thing and saying his piece, he motivates the others to join in. He’ll even get in your face (in a friendly way of course) to encourage you to spit. It’s his special way of getting folks to join the movement. Big ups to our guy Paris.

Thanks to everyone for making Winter Magic a big success, especially the Office of Arts & Culture! See you in 2015!