Local Fableist Mikal Hameed Unleashes Folklore Noir at Rustwoods

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Rockaway Beach resident Mikal Hameed is a modern-day urban griot, and after countless requests, is finally unleashing his poetic storytelling skills this Saturday, March 30 at Rustwoods. Like all mythic tricksters, Hameed craftily weaves stories into a densely knitted fabric that leaves the listener gasping as they try to untangle the message, albeit knowing that they are in for a lesson about life.

For example, in one sketch, “The Boy That Could Not Read,” Hameed takes you on a trip from slavery to the 21st century, where a slave keeps running from owner to owner, continuously being branded, and all because he could not read what his master wrote on a note. The ending leaves you angry, hurt and emboldened to make change. Hameed's cunning voice intonations, with the backdrop of jazz music, and subtle props are all compelling, leaving the onlooker breathless, asking for answers and justice.

Hameed’s sketches cover a plethora of issues including slavery, love, jealousy, politics, war, human hubris and more. Plus the drama that enfolds with each word and shrewdly spaced pause, will almost make you speak up, pleading for the ending.

Hameed, originally from Venice Beach, Calif., gained a reputation in the Bay Area as a storyteller/performance artist. For the debut of his Folklore Noir fable and storytelling show at Rustwoods in Rockaway, Hameed says it was all about timing. “I started doing spoken word, (a performance art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play such as intonation and voice inflection), in the 90s. In fact, that’s what brought me to NYC. I performed at the Nuyorican Cafe, the Bowery Poetry Club, Apollo Theater and with Danny Simmons. I guess you could say my inspiration was my grandfather, who was an Army cook. He would tell these unbelievable stories, which mostly were fibs, but gave a lesson that would creep up on you at the end. I then just started doing it. It’s like you’re this trickster on stage, cunningly wrapping the audience around your finger. They want to know the ending, and once they get it, they are fired up or brought to the brink of tears. Spoken word is powerful, and I hope to encourage other artists to bring it to Rockaway. We are such a small, but wonderfully imaginative community, and I hope this show, encourages other artists to come forward,” he said.

Hameed is also in the works of producing an audio book album. “This project was a longtime coming, and after a few personal setbacks, including some health issues, I’m ready to unleash my Folklore Noir trickster magic, and hopefully inspire others to do the same,” he said.

Due to standing room only capacity, Hameed’s Folklore Noir will be held at two different times, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. at Rustwoods (97-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd.) Admission is $20, which includes delish hors d’oeuvres served by Whit’s End and a complimentary glass of wine. Tickets can be bought in advance at www.eventbrite.com/e/folklore-noir-tickets-59172256813 or at the door. Hameed will be accompanied by a live jazz band, featuring Earl Appleton on piano, Greg Jackson on bass and Joey Gallo on drums.

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