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The launch and live performance of 34 x 52 x 40

August 12, 2009

August 6, 2009
Kianga Ford Launch Event & Live Performance
With special guests: The Turbo Pro Project
The Garage

On a night when steamy heat shook hands with gusty winds and intense spot showers, we found refuge, resonance and yet another possibility for what public art can be in The Garage on 7th Street. On this night, as part of our year-long public art program Inside Out: Artists in the Community II, SECCA launched Kianga Ford’s hybrid audio project The Story of this Place: 34 x 52 x 40. This work will take audiences across the city on walking tours of Downtown Winston-Salem, the Clark Campbell Transportation Center, Reynolda Gardens and a driving tour of The Pond, Reynoldstown, Sunnyside/La Perla, and Happy Hill. Every track is designed as an intimate experience between the artist and audience via headphones or car stereo, but in this rare, single-night only event, Kianga performed the Downtown track alongside her musical collaborators The Turbo Pro Project. Word was spread far and wide, and numerous promotional flyers were handed out at SECCA’s Story of this Place Archive Lounge located at the National Black Theatre Festival headquarters in the Benton Convention Center.

Festival-goers enjoying the Story of this Place Lounge

Festival-goers enjoying the Story of this Place Lounge

With thanks to Richard Emmett (owner of the The Garage) who generously allowed us to use his space for this event, the artists and SECCA staff gathered at this local music mainstay around 4:00pm. Weary from chasing deadlines and the elusive notion of sleep, but charged with adrenaline and anticipation, we completed sound checks and set up information booths with just enough time to greet our guests. Predicting audience turnout often seems more difficult than picking the right lottery numbers, but on this night we were thrilled to see over 75 people crowd into The Garage to experience a fusion of music, theatre, spoken word, and storytelling. It was a diverse audience (in both age and color) where familiar faces mingled with new friends under the ever-present whirl of one big ass fan spinning above our heads. Excitement continued to build, and around 6:20pm, over the clink of glasses, the expectant buzz of amps, and the glow of stage lights, I stepped onto the stage to begin the program.

Introductions at The Garage

Introductions at The Garage

After introductions and thanks to all those who made this project possible (and there were many – please see the 34 x 52 x 40 map for full credits), Kianga and the band took the stage. The humidity from outside tried its best to crash the gig, but for the next 40 minutes I watched an artist entrance an audience under the spell of her lyrical narrative. Her words painted vivid pictures of the seemingly familiar byways of Liberty, Trade and 7th as we mentally walked the streets of Winston-Salem through the eyes (and emotions) of fictional banjoman Arthur Henry. Kianga’s velvety words were carried by the compelling sound of Turbo Pro Project, whose three on-stage members seamlessly moved between instruments, genres and styles. They were the glue that held the story together, and the brush that swept its color across amplifiers, ears, and the imagined viewpoints taking shape in our minds. The marriage of music, voice and environment was entrancing, and only the roar of applause could disrupt its seductive song.

Kianga Ford and The Turbo Pro Project on stage

Kianga Ford and The Turbo Pro Project on stage

With the narrative complete, The Turbo Pro Project went on to perform a set list that took us happily, and rhythmically, into the evening. They were joined on stage by extended Turbo Pro Project members Ryan “RnB” Barber and Ken Smith, who was in town as a performer in the National Black Theatre Festival. The band’s music has been a fixture in my CD player of late, and tonight, their guitar, bass, turntables, banjo and keyboard came together as fluidly as the music with Kianga’s spoken narrative. The Story of this Place is often described as a dialogue between artist, musician, city and audience, and on this night that description was never more real. We ended the night with a brief, but insightful Artist Q&A, and a psychedelic musical tribute to Herbie Hancock. During the Q&A, one audience member asked what Part II of Winston-Salem’s Story of this Place might look like; Kianga responded that she, like this city, still had many stories to tell. I couldn’t sum it up any better.

questions, answers, and many more stories to tell...

questions, answers, and many more stories to tell...

Please download Kianga’s work off the SECCA website, purchase a CD, or borrow an MP3 Player so that you too can experience this work and see parts of our city anew.

One Comment leave one →
  1. michael christiano permalink
    August 13, 2009 4:21 pm

    beautiful post Steven! the atmospheric description makes me feel as if i was there. oh wait..i was. but it was exactly as you described! i think that evening was a benchmark in secca’s new history.

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