common ground open mic series

common ground is organized by progressive Vietnamese American community members, artists, and activists committed to cultivating a positive and safe healing space for artistic growth and community empowerment. The common ground collective builds collaborations across communities and supports the work of social justice spaces.

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Musician, sound genius, and Thursday’s special spotlight, Chris Hahn, on how he’s grown into his craft:

Art, to me, was that weird friend you had in grade school. They would just hang around, and you would just appreciate the company. You never took the time to get to know them or went out of your way to seek their company. Until 5 years later, you look back on your life and ask, “Who helped me out the most to get this far?” You realize the answer and get back in touch with that friend, get to know them, appreciate them, and now, fascinated. You have a debt to repay, this friend who helped you through your most troubling moments, never asks for pay back. How have I grown into art you ask? I let art in my life, and it grows in me.

Catch him sharing some words for the first time tomorrow! For the event information, click here.

Poet, professor, and September feature Lan Duong offers some insight on what Thursday’s theme, “growth,” means to her:

It’s 10:30 PM, and I’m filming my father in his pajamas on a beaten-down coach.  The screaming Karaoke sounds blare through the night from beneath us.  My father, however, is nonplussed. He’s strumming his guitar, playing some strings that he picked up on his own, looking at me through the camera — expectant. With nervous eyes, tells, he never has had formal training and yet he plays it like an expert.
This is my father at 83, playing some serenades for me after a long dinner.  I am 40, here on the weekend visiting.  The camera is turned on, so I can ask him about all of his past lives: the time he met Westmoreland, shook hands with Ngo Dinh Diem, had girlfriends besides my mother, was sexually accosted by male supervising French officer, and how he was a failure in society and in his family, but that he tried his best to be a virtuous person, a person with integrity, he keeps telling me. He is a natural in front of the camera. 
Growth is this moment in our relationship between my father and I. Filming him at 40, I was able to catch the laughter that erupted from his mouth in ways that I’ve never witnessed before.  Filming him I saw him talk volubly about his resentment towards the Americans, admiration for the French, and animosity for the Communists.  Growth is my understanding of my father as a person who has many lives, all of which have been limned with both sadness and sorrow, deprivation and Catholic devotion. Growth is the understanding of the person who he was and of the reasons for why he — 40 years before – brutally used to beat sense into his sons and daughter in the hopes that we would follow his lead. Growth is knowing that he is walking slowly towards mortality and that he cannot do anything more than what he has already done.  

Catch another amazing night of words, art, music, and love this Thursday! This will be our last show before we take a hiatus, so please come!

Poet, professor, and September feature Lan Duong offers some insight on what Thursday’s theme, “growth,” means to her:

It’s 10:30 PM, and I’m filming my father in his pajamas on a beaten-down coach.  The screaming Karaoke sounds blare through the night from beneath us.  My father, however, is nonplussed. He’s strumming his guitar, playing some strings that he picked up on his own, looking at me through the camera — expectant. With nervous eyes, tells, he never has had formal training and yet he plays it like an expert.

This is my father at 83, playing some serenades for me after a long dinner.  I am 40, here on the weekend visiting.  The camera is turned on, so I can ask him about all of his past lives: the time he met Westmoreland, shook hands with Ngo Dinh Diem, had girlfriends besides my mother, was sexually accosted by male supervising French officer, and how he was a failure in society and in his family, but that he tried his best to be a virtuous person, a person with integrity, he keeps telling me. He is a natural in front of the camera. 

Growth is this moment in our relationship between my father and I. Filming him at 40, I was able to catch the laughter that erupted from his mouth in ways that I’ve never witnessed before.  Filming him I saw him talk volubly about his resentment towards the Americans, admiration for the French, and animosity for the Communists.  Growth is my understanding of my father as a person who has many lives, all of which have been limned with both sadness and sorrow, deprivation and Catholic devotion. Growth is the understanding of the person who he was and of the reasons for why he — 40 years before – brutally used to beat sense into his sons and daughter in the hopes that we would follow his lead. Growth is knowing that he is walking slowly towards mortality and that he cannot do anything more than what he has already done.  

Catch another amazing night of words, art, music, and love this Thursday! This will be our last show before we take a hiatus, so please come!

Singer-songwriter Kymistry is one of our September 6th show features. She took some time out to write about the upcoming show’s theme, “growth”: 
-How have you grown into your art?
I’ve never been able to hide from my music. My music knows when I’m sad or angry, hurt or confused, happy or overjoyed. My music catches me in my lies. My music knows when I have something to hide. But no matter how I treat my music, my music is always there for me. So when I think about how I’ve grown into my music, I think about how I’ve grown into myself.
Through EKH, a hip hop/R&B band, I first realized that making and performing my own music was actually possible. It also allowed me to experience the bonds that music creates between people on a deeper level. A few years later, I became a part of an all-girl punk experimental noise band, Machine Fang, where I became uninhibited and vulnerable in my music. Kymistry combines the contrasting sounds of R&B/soul and electronic which were influenced by my time with EKH and Machine Fang.
See Kymistry LIVE this Thursday, September 6! For more information about the event, check out the event page!

Singer/songwriter Jane Lee is one of our August 2nd WOMYN SHOW features. How does art empower her as a womyn?

ever since i was a little girl, singing was an emotional and spiritual outlet for me. no matter how beat down i was, when i was singing i felt free. as a child, when i was upset or frustrated, i remember going to my room, slamming my door shut, picking up my walkman, blasting wilson phillips and singing at the top of my lungs. over the years, i’ve come to recognize what a special gift music has been in my life. to this day, when i’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or burdened, i find somewhere i can be alone, pick up my guitar, strum a simple melody over and over again and just sing whatever is on my heart, no matter how incoherent or nonsensical it may sound. it’s one of the few spaces that i can feel completely unconstrained from the limitations and pressures society imposes on me as a womyn, as asian american, as a young person… songwriting provides a venue for me to vent, reflect, dream, process my thoughts and feelings, and just sing it out and release it. it’s been a huge part of my healing and growth process, and i hope to continue to grow as an artist who writes honest music that not only empowers myself, but inspires and empowers others.

The show is tomorrow. Come see Jane Lee and other amazing womyn share their art live on stage!

Singer/songwriter Jaclyn Rose's eclectic style fuses jazz, funk, soul, and Afrobeat. This August 2nd featured performer shares with us a few words on womynhood and art:
  • How I celebrate womynhood: I celebrate womynhood by embracing the beauty of my mind, body, and spirit.  I celebrate womynhood by starting everyday with gratitude. I celebrate womyhood by sharing love and joy to my fellow sisters.  I celebrate womynhood by giving support and compassion to my fellow brothers.  I celebrate womynhood by being a positive role model especially to the youth.  I celebrate womynhood by cultivating wisdom, love, and compassion. 
  • How my art empowers me as a womyn: I believe that music is one of the greatest teachers in the world.  My art, my music, empowers me because it gives me the opportunity to send a positive message to the world.  Music gives me the opportunity to share love and compassion.  I strive to create music that empowers others to believe in themselves and to love.  That is what “The Rose Movement” is all about.

Come on ‘round to common ground this Thursday, August 2nd, for a chance to see Jaclyn perform live! See you there!

common ground’s next show is August 2. Mark it on your calendars as “THE BEST DAY EVER… SO FAR!” We’re commemorating this two-year anniversary show by revisiting our very first theme, “womyn!” 

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Featuring:

Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance // community spotlight
http://www.ocapica.org/us/

Claudia Chen // youth spotlight

DJ South // guest DJ

Jane Lee // guitar and vocals
www.myspace.com/janelee8211

Tu-Uyen Nguyen// poetry 

Jaclyn Rose // music & vocals
http://www.youtube.com/jaclynrosemusic/


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Doors open at 6:30pm
Open Mic sign ups start at 6:30pm and end at 7pm. We have limited open mic slots, so come on time for sign ups.
More info -> http://commongroundoc.tumblr.com/openmic

The show starts at 7:30pm. $5 suggested donation.


Spoken word poet and the closing act for our July 5th show Audrey Kuo shares her “Perspectives” with us:

I’m tempted to just answer this question with “I approach my art from my perspective.” For real, though, I think the creative process is intensely personal — or, at least, it should be. I’ve been putting together my first chapbook, sorting through poems I’ve written over the last four or so years. I’ve been surprised at how obvious it is which pieces don’t belong; the pieces that lacked emotional truth stand out, and I’m comfortable letting them go.
I still consider myself very new to the stage, and I think there’s so much power in being able to transform personal experience into a way of connecting with other people. I’m trying to be respectful of that process, and learning how to have confidence in my perspective, even as I’m still developing my voice.
As a more literal way of answering the question, I approach my art from a few intersecting perspectives: I identify as queer, female-identified, Taiwanese-American (but ethnically Chinese), and second generation. I also have a background in literature and social justice, and all of those pieces of my identity find their own way into my writing.

Come TOMORROW to see an amazing show! Audrey will also have a zine version of her upcoming chapbook available. Proceeds will go to our space — how cool is she?! 

Our July 5th “Perspectives” show is this Thursday! Singer/songwriter and lovely July feature, Yuki A., tells us about the perspectives from which she approaches her art:

Second generation Asian American (Japanese-American) - I was born and raised in the US, but I have lived in Japan for a few years, and I feel closely connected to my Japanese heritage. It affects the way I perceive the world and my interactions with others.  
Artist - Art is beautiful and an integral part of society! I love that art provides so much freedom. 
Woman - Men are from Mars, women are from Venus right? The songs I write probably would be different if I were a guy… 
Christian - Knowing God and knowing that I am never far from His heart means everything to me! 

For more information about Yuki A., visit her website. Otherwise, come on ‘round to our July 5th show!

Eco-conscious artist Julie Lam will be doing live art for TONIGHT’S SHOW with Tuesday Night Project and this THURSDAY’s regular show. She took some time to give us a few words on our June theme, “healing”: 

First of all: What is Healing?– There’s the scientific definition - to restore damaged living tissues or it can mean to set right, but what I relate to the most is TO restore oneself to spiritual wholeness.Now, a “space of healing” can be mental or a physical space that one goes to.Essentially, it’s a your “comfort zone” that only you can understand and feel.Whether your comfort zone is talking to your best friend or spending time in the garden –its what makes you feel confident & supported.

To me, my healing space is my art.  It allows me to express my love and concerns for social and environmental issues we face today.  There’s a lot of environmental degradation caused by irrational actions, but one of the first steps to prevent pollution & to be mindful of our fragile eco-system is to make people of aware of their own actions (such as utilizing to much plastic) and to get people talking about current problems we face around the world (such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – which is 7 million tons of floating plastic waste in the pacific ocean).  Most of the art I will present revolves around urban development and how it has changed our eco-system from being a vibrant natural landscape to an urban heat island that is made up of impermeable concrete pavement and where buildings aspirate toxins into the air.  From my art I hope to inspire my viewers to be active in the community because your own COMMUNITY is only as good as what you put into it.  Furthermore, my hope is to make people ALERT and AWARE of our own actions and make a change by reducing how much we buy, reuse what we have and recycle what we can.

For more on Julie’s art, visit her Facebook page. RSVP for our Thursday show here

We are pleased to announce that community organizer, youth advocate, and incredible spoken word artist Fong “Batman” Tran will be driving all the way from Sacramento to perform at our June common ground show. We asked Fong for his thoughts on this month’s comeback theme, “healing.” Here’s what he had to say:

We don’t heal just when we’re hurt or damaged but healing is a apart of the everyday struggle that we live through. Our bodies, minds and spirits deserve to heal and to be replenished. Art serves as that bat-mobile vehicle toward healing because art taps into our creative spirit or inner voice which is often times denied autonomy due to our daily grind.  Healing spaces are necessary because there are times when we can’t always heal on our own and it requires friends, fam and boo-thangs, plus you wanna help other heal others too. HEALING PARTIES!! Lets get “HEALING WASTED!!”

For more on Fong, visit his Tumblr. Curious for more before the show? See him performing his poem “WTF” here.