I've been doing this cultural beat for a long time now, and I've come to realize that things don't last. Artists are disorganized and sometimes flaky, propelled by great ideas and held back by chancy finances. But those that do usually survive because someone, or in some cases, a whole community of strong voices, isn't willing to let things fall apart. That Café Nuba is celebrating its tenth (tenth!) anniversary this weekend - as a vehicle for poetry and spoken word, no less - is a testament to what truly committed people can do. A monthly multicultural love fest with a vibe you won't quite find anywhere else in town, Nuba gives and takes with the times, moving over the years like a gypsy caravan from venue to venue, pulling up and replanting its grassroots wherever it goes. And that's the key word to what makes it always work: grassroots, da peeps.
"It's a funny kind of blessing that we've been able to maintain same staff we started with," says Westword Mastermind, Café Nuba founder and guiding light Ashara Ekundayo, adding that she's known many of the poets who perform regularly since they were teens starting out.
Join Ekundayo, the BluBlakWomyn herself, who will be hosting for the first time in a blue moon, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 28, for the Café Nuba 10th-Anniversary Celebration, a Black History Month-closing blowout at the Mercury Café, 2199 California Street. Special guests (from these parts and afar) include the Reminders, International Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard, Will Evans, a bevy of Local Nuba Word Goddesses (who will each have a chance to read both an old and a new piece tonight) and others, and the all-ages evening will also incorporate spins by DJ SD, a Cafe Nuba video retrospective by Dbom and live painting by Thomas Evans of the Hip Hop Congress. To round out the festivities, Merc chef Marilyn Megenity will be offering a sustainable soul food dinner (something to do with barbecued elk and collard greens, Ekundayo hints) and vodka-and-espresso Nubatinis in the dining room.
Aside from being a great party, this marks the event's last show until May, when Café Nuba institutes a new quarterly schedule and moves east to the Shadow Theater stage in Aurora. Admission is $10 to $15 on a sliding scale; for information visit www.cafenuba.com or call 303-298-8188.
Sat., Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., 2009