Last night (Feb.20.11) was Baba Brinkman’s first Vancouver (Canada) performance in a few years and it may be another two years or more before he’s back. His Rap Guide to Evolution shows (commissioned by a UK scientist in 2008/9) led to a soon-to-be enhanced DVD (he raised the $$$ by crowdsourcing his funding) and to an off-Broadway run in a few months (as he noted in an interview featured in my Feb.17, 2011 posting).
Couple the scarcity of local performances with the fact that Baba performs an acclaimed (sometimes controversial) peer-reviewed rap, likely the only one of its kind at this point, then throw in a legendary Vancouver music venue, The Railway Club, and you have what amounts to an irresistible invitation (in my mind anyway).
An account of events from the Feb. 20, 2011 The Rap Guide to Evolution performance at Vancouver’s Railway Club: The venerable Charles Darwin took the stage first. Dressed in clothing reminiscent of the Victorian period and carrying a book, the actor (?), gave a history of his (Darwin’s) life and his theory of evolution. (ETA Feb.23.11 via Twitter: The “actor” at my show was
Dr. Greg Bole, biology professor at UBC and sometime Darwin impersonator.)
Generally speaking I wouldn’t expect a crowd with a few beers under their collective belts to welcome a history lesson. Well, it was a friendly crowd in the first place. Many of them were friends, family, members of the Centre for Inquiry, associates of RadioFreethinker and/or CITR 101.9 FM, as well as, Aaron Nazrul & the Boom Booms’ fans, etc. Plus, the actor (sadly, I don’t know his name) was very good and, after a few minutes, he managed to get the audience’s full attention and the room grew quiet.
That all changed when Baba took the stage. Somewhere in there, Charles Darwin/the actor left and we embarked on The Rap Guide to Evolution. The performance’s organizing metaphor was that of a book (also, Darwin read from a book) and each chapter reveals a new rap, lecture, and/or visual. There is data, as well as, music and rhyme and, at the end, Baba provides a list of the reference books he consulted when creating the ‘guide’.
Amazingly, he pulled off a very good performance about creationism, religion, belief, social constructivism, poverty, violence, gender, dating and mating mores, and, memory fails, other stuff too. There were even graphs to illustrate his statistics along with lots of music and audience participation on such songs as ‘I am A African’ (originally by Dead Prez) and ‘Performance, Feedback, Revision’ (an original by Baba where he sums up evolution).
It’s thoughtful, provocative work.
As for Aaron Nazrul & the Boom Booms, I had to pass up the opportunity to hear them this time, I hope there’ll be another.