BoomBaptricks Brings Improv, Comedy and Music to the Stage to Engage Conversation

Panama Soweto and Mikey Fresh are part of the massive BoomBaptricks line-up.
Panama Soweto and Mikey Fresh are part of the massive BoomBaptricks line-up.
Armando Geneyro of #theyshootn.

When the original idea for BoomBaptricks — a variety show debuting tomorrow night at the Oriental Theater — was conceived, it was about creating an evening celebrating multiple art forms. A producer of comedy events around the city through her company 52Eighty Entertainment, LaRae Martinez had been working with Corin Chavez of the Black Actor's Guild, who brought the improv scene into the mix, and musician ILL Se7en, who contributed the musical component. The organizers were bent on merging the different creative scenes, hoping to see both artists and crowds from across the spectrum join for a night of diverse entertainment. Then Daerius Churchill was killed, and added another layer to the mission of BoomBaptricks. 

"We were contacted by Daerius Churchill's mother — she sent us a letter about her son's murder in January," says Martinez. "She said that she wanted to remember his life and not his death." Churchill, known for his sunny disposition and endless creativity as a musician and visual artist, was just 22 when he died, and his mother wanted to raise awareness about a new foundation she created in Churchill's name. Still in its beginning stages, the foundation's aim is to help young artists gain access, resources and tools to help them produce creative work and become leaders in their community. The inaugural edition of BoomBaptricks will see this vision of entertainment and thoughtful engagement come to life.

The BoomBaptricks lineup is huge and bright, as venerable hip-hop artists like Babah Fly, DJ Check One and Molina Speaks will share the stage with improv stars like Fronzo Gilkey II, Danny Ramos and Kayla Marque, plus comedy giants D Kelley and Derrick Rush. The lineup also includes Typhy, Preston Vaughn, Panama Soweto and Mikey Fresh and many morecomedians, musicians, artists, activists, poets and performers.

Entertaining, raising awareness about violence in the community, and elevating conversations about the positive effects of art are all part of the plan. Award-winning playwright, poet, spoken-word artist and rapper Idris Goodwin will be performing an original piece speaking to everything BoomBaptricks is about. "The 'boom bap' is about bringing different music styles into the mix — it will be hip-hop-influenced, but a variety of different styles will be part of it," says co-producer ILL Se7en. "The 'tricks' part is comedy — involving people from improv and comedy community to fill in between the musical acts." 

Fronzo Gilkey II from the Black Actors Guild performs as part of BoomBaptricks' big night.
Fronzo Gilkey II from the Black Actors Guild performs as part of BoomBaptricks' big night.
Courtesy of 52Eighty Entertainment.

Though the BoomBaptricks crew recently lost co-organizer Chavez — who passed away on October 9 — they decided that they had to carry on. Chavez was always creating and performing work while simultaneously bringing new artists and friends into his collaborations, so keeping the event going felt right. But it wasn't easy.

"It's been really hard — I've been producing events with Corin for the last two years, so I've been feeling a little lost without him," says Martinez. "It has been heavy on the event since his loss," shares ILL Se7en. "We considered putting this on pause, but decided to push through and honor his memory."

The show starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22 at the Oriental; a portion of the money raised will go to the fledgling Daerius Churchill Foundation. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door or by visiting the Oriental Theater's website. The organizers hope to put on more editions of BoomBaptricks in the future, with rotating lineups and fresh topics for community engagement; for more information, visit the BoomBaptricks Facebook event page

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