Rich City Talent takes center stage at Bridge FilmSpace
on December 4, 2019
A steady drumbeat sounded through the doors of the Bridge FilmSpace studio as the band members of “2morrows June” prepared for their performance. Hip Hop Artist Markee “Kee Beez” Webb, entered in his gray Under Armour tracksuit and black shades, hyped to perform his latest single, “Turnt Up.” Richmond-based filmmaker Joaquin Xavier queued his films in a browser to be displayed on the projector screen.
After mic checks, quick video playbacks and soundchecks, the Rich City Talent Show got under way through the sponsorship of the Bridge Storage and ArtSpace Center. Iris Alroy, marketing director, stood in the foggy night air to welcome spectators, who paid a $10 cover charge to see local Bay Area artists.
“This is city of sleeping giants” said Evan Francis, co-producer of the November 17 event, featuring seven acts. Francis partnered with the Bridge Storage and ArtSpace Center earlier this year to host the first Rich City Talent Show in August.
“[T]here’s filmmakers … artists .. musicians … who [have] never gotten the chance,” Francis said. “So, it just made me want to . . . give people an opportunity.”
The night started with Chris Bro, a young comedian, whose act consisted of all the reasons he loved feminism, getting some good laughs from the audience. He was then followed by Richmond native JD Arandia, a standup comedian whose humor focused on misconceptions about life in Richmond, such as the stereotypes about gangs and gun violence.
Arandia said opportunities like the Rich City Talent Show are ways to network with other artists and represent the city.
“It’s kind of one of the many things that are that are helping change people’s perspective on Richmond,” he said. “I discovered the Richmond performance scene, and it’s changed my whole life.”
In a change of pace, the audience viewed a chilling urban exploration vlog called “LIVE|EVIL” from filmmaker Joaquin Xavier. In the video, Xavier walks an abandoned railroad track during the night with a mysterious figure following him, and somehow leading him into a parallel universe. The video was produced under his “Frosted Mini Fears” production group. He also showed a short called “Cooking 4 Kids,” a dark social commentary.
Country singer and guitarist Jake Wilson gave a soulful rendition of Sam Cooke’s classic 1964 song, “A Change is Gonna Come,” which has become a civil rights anthem covered by numerous artists for more than 50 years.
Rapper Leondrea Thomas, known by her stage name “Badgirl Lele,” performed two songs: her upbeat new single, “Swervin’” and her second song, a chill tune called “Up Right Now.”
Thomas, who recently moved from Richmond, said she still comes back to the city to perform often. “I’m still out here giving back to the hood,” she said. “It’s a lot of opportunities. Really, it just take money to make money. You just gotta invest it.”
Hip-hop artist, Markee “Kee Beez” Webb performed his song “Turnt Up,” which celebrated a night at the club. He advised artists to stay educated about the industry they are entering.
“I think if you really want to [be successful], educate yourself . . . and you will make it to where you want to be,” he told Richmond Confidential, adding that marketing and promotion are crucial. “At the end of the day you want to sell [your talent].”
Webb said Richmond is supportive of its artists. “[T]he people [of Richmond] are trying to help each other grow.”
Richmond native Marcus Molinar, lead vocalist for “2morrows June,” said the band hopes to expand their reach to other areas, but still considers Richmond home.
“Of course, one day . . . we plan on going on tour. We plan on doing all these shows, but, you know . . . We’re always going to represent Richmond.”
The band was the last act of the night and performed a medley of songs including an original composition and covers of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning,” and Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up.” Their soulful, high-energy melodies engaged audience members who clapped and bobbed their heads.
Afterwards, the performers gathered to the front for a group photo. Co-producer Francis summed up the evening by saying the show aims to enrich the local entertainment scene, adding simply: “It’s cool to celebrate everybody.”
For those who missed the November event, the Rich City Talent Show is slated to return in February 2020.
Featured image: Group photo of Bay Area artists who participated in November’s Rich City Talent Show. Left to right: David Burton (2morrows June), Marcus Molinar (2morrows June), Joaquin Xavier (Filmmaker), JD Arandia (Comedian), Evan Francis (Rich City Talent Show co-producer), Jake Wilson (Country Singer), Badgirl Lele (Rapper), Kee Beez (Hip-hop artist), and Juandiego Britto (2morrows June). Photo by Chan’Cellore Makanjuola.
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