Words & Wine: The Miami Beyond Big Booties and Benjamins

Last night at Pax (Performing Arts Exchange), the bongos were thumping, the crowd was swaying, and the scent of patchouli hung thick in the air.

Okay, we're kidding about that last part, but Words & Wine, the weekly open mic event, did have a definite "love everyone" feel to it. The vibe was very friendly and communal and everyone seemed to know each other. We later found out this was true. "It's like a big group. We do things throughout the entire week. We don't just get together one day," explained, founder and promoter, Nikki Rodriguez.

Rodriguez started Words & Wine a year ago in her living room. She soon realized that she would need a bigger venue after what started out as a group of 20, became a group of 50, and continued to grow. 

The event has finally landed in a great space after  losing the American Legion. Pax lends itself to the energy of the crowd. Its is really open with an outside patio and free parking. The event is also free. See? Love is everywhere.

We listened to a jam session with a dozen people on stage. It rocked the house and got everyone going for the first performer, Emily Sheila. Sheila has a strong, sweet voice and plays the hell out of the guitar. The only thing is she needs to pick a vocal style and stick with it. Out of three songs she played, two were originals and one was a cover of an Adele song.

Her first original, F-L-O-R-I-D-A, showed off the singer's unique style and we loved it. She then did an amazing job covering some Adele song, and her third song, an original, seemed as if she had dragged Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries from whatever bog she's been hiding in.

One of the more popular spoken word artists of the evening, Alonso Menendez, really got everyone hyped up with his poem, "Skin Deep," a piece about the shallow and superficial nature of Miami residents.

The crowd then demanded he perform "Que Pasa U.S.A.?" which is apparently a signature piece. Menedez definitely has a lot of passion, and definitely composes original material, but needs to mature a bit in his writing -- the phrasing (especially when rhyming) is awkward at times. With time, he should develop into a fine poet.

Overall, Words & Wine is definitely a neat event to hang out with friends, drink some inexpensive wine, and enjoy some local kids doing the right thing. Props to Nikki for putting together a cool, chill mid-week event.

PAX is located at 337 SW Eight Street in Miami.

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