One of Miami's longest-running open-mike nights has found a new home in Made at the Citadel. Some may remember the event as Stone Groove, which ran every Tuesday night for six years in downtown's now-defunct Vagabond. Since then, the open mike, hosted by local artist Marcus Blake, has hopped around from the Stage in the Design District to Sidebar in Brickell and even the Electric Pickle. But poets and artists can finally rest easy.
Now called the Imperial, which brings together local poets and musicians for an evening of expression, has finally found its groove again.
"Like a lot of things in Miami, our location has changed," Blake explains. The event lasted at the Stage for two years before the space shut down. Then the organizers begrudgingly moved it to Brickell. "Brickell was way too far away from the creative energy," he adds. "I would feel it when I crossed the bridge. The energy is different. I couldn’t fight it — I told my team we had to go."
They went to the Electric Pickle, where Telescope Thieves hosts a weekly Tuesday-night party, the Love Below. As the party raged upstairs, the Imperial could not function smoothly downstairs. But since early February, the creative team has been at the Citadel, a space exclusively for "makers, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs," its website boasts.
"Wherever we go, it’s a community. I've known these people since Vagabond," the artist says. "I've watched people develop, break shells, become artists."
The Imperial provides a space for artists to hone their craft intimately among supportive locals. It's a much-needed training ground for a community of artists that is continuously being displaced due to rapid development.
"We have to change with the gentrification," Blake says. "At one point, there were no open mikes, and then this city started to change, and every place was conducive to having a stage, having live music. But then the city changed again, and here we are. Most places now where you perform standup, you can also drink a beer and just chill. That’s cool too as long as we still can find a place to do what we do."
Tonight, Oscar Fuentes, known as the Biscayne Poet, will perform beat poetry from his latest book, Vagabond. His band, the Oscar Fuentes Combo, will also perform. Blake will also put on a show with his three-piece band, the Immortal Third Party, specializing in blues, jazz, funk, and soul.
"I live here," Blake says, "and if there's no place for me to go express myself, I’ll explode."
The Imperial Miami
Tuesday, March 22. Doors open at 9 p.m. at Made at the Citadel. Cover charge is $5 to $10. RSVP via [email protected].