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Talk Music: Express yourself at Victoria's Swing and Flow open-mic night

By Melissa Crowe
Nov. 27, 2013 at 5:27 a.m.

Patrick Ellis and Patrick Lezama perform during the first Swing and Flow open-mic night at Golden Gecko.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Open-Mic Night (Thanksgiving night, too)

• WHEN: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays

• WHERE: Golden Gecko, 202 E. Forrest St.

• COST: Free

Life in Victoria stifled Kim Pickens' teenage years. After moving to Houston, she adopted pink hair and the free spirit she had yearned for, along with the idea that she would never move back home. That is, until she did.

Together, Pickens, a poet, and her husband, Rajolei, a local musician often heard at festivals and downtown venues, came up with an idea to create an environment where Victorians could escape what stifled them. They call it Swing and Flow.

Pickens caught up with Get Out to talk coming back to Victoria, building up the artist scene and her hopes for Swing and Flow.

How has the city changed since you were growing up here?

There are venues that have come and gone - some nice venues have closed.

There was never a place to express yourself.

This is an opportunity, regardless of what's going on in someone's life. It's a place that for a couple of hours a week, that person has the freedom to be themselves.

You shouldn't have to leave your hometown to be able to express yourself.

You started reading your poetry after you moved to Houston?

My claim to fame is spoken word.

It started with journal entries and poems. I had my first performance in 1996. '96 was a good time to be a poet in Houston.

It was an extremely moving experience.

My poems at the time were very personal. I needed to say it and get it out there. That validation of a clap kept me writing and expressing myself.

I figured out how to move through life, and it allowed me to be a part of a larger community.

People are more connected than we give ourselves credit for.

Tell me about this open-mic night.

It's a different kind of night.

There were others, but they seemed to fizzle out.

The irony of everything coming together is that so many artistically talented people, across all genres, are finally coming together.

It is a true open-mic night.

It's about showing off everybody's potential - whether you sing, write poetry, perform dance sequences or comedy skits. We don't want to limit it.

Are there any rules?

It's an adult crowd with a laid-back feel.

You don't have to be out till 2 a.m. to enjoy it.

We ask that people keep it under 10 minutes.

No hate.

There's a huge difference from talking about how you feel and hateful feel.

Enjoy what you do.

Are you trying to open up the artist community?

People talk about, "Oh, I'm not artistic." But art is life.

It's about showcasing those people and knowing they have an audience that appreciates them.

You can see some real gems, people who just want to get up and say something.

Every voice is important.

What's your big-picture goal?

It's about giving people a place where they can get up and do something. I want this open mic to be that place.

We don't want to take over the scene; we want to help build it up.

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