Tag Archives: Thursday

Verbal Gumbo

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Felicia Webster’s voice produces chills up the spine. “And then he kiiiiissssssed me, and I melted. Like buttah.”

Her friend, Michelle Troxclair, nods and waves a hand. “Mhm, girl, we know what that’s like.”

This is spoken-word entertainment. It’s theatrical, it’s heartfelt, it’s ethereal, and it happens every third Thursday of the month at House of Loom on 10th and Pacific streets. This is not your safe-bet night out. The words you’ll hear could be dark, could be sexy, could be hilarious. It could be anything really, which is why Webster and Troxclair, the open-mic evening’s organizers, call this night Verbal Gumbo.

Troxclair arranges the club’s random chaise lounges, velvet chairs, and embroidered hassocks on the dance floor. Webster picks out the candles and incense. If guests outnumber the usual crowd of around 70, there might be a few people standing. A $5 cover charge gets you a simple meal, like Troxclair’s white chicken chili or her brother’s highly requested mac-and-cheese.

The evening begins around 7 p.m., giving guests enough time to sign up to speak if they wish, get their bowl, and settle into a seat. Troxclair is strict about minimizing distraction during the spoken word sets that begin about 8-ish. Of course, feel free to get up from your seat to wait for the massage therapist set up in the corner or the body painter off to the side as someone else speaks at the mic.

“For those who haven’t come here before,” Webster explains, “they’ll find out that it doesn’t matter what order you sign up in.”20130321_bs_8812

Troxclair laughs and says, “It’s whoever I’m feeling like hearing at the time.” The two women make sure speakers alternate male and female, but other than that, there are few rules. People offer poetry about anything from relationships to violence to the triumph of breaking cycles. “Sometimes it’s comedic,” Troxclair says, “but there’s always a message.”

The only requirement is that “you respect the mic,” as Webster puts it. Verbal Gumbo creates a flow between audience and speaker, almost a conversation. The speaker shares his work, and the audience participates in the performance by responding verbally when something resonates.

“Say yes, say amen, say all right, honey!” Troxclair suggests. “You’re validating what they’re saying.”

About 15 people speak per night for about three to five minutes apiece. If time’s not running tight, each person should feel free to offer two pieces. A short intermission makes room for a few public service announcements and to refill a drink.

Felicia Webster

Felicia Webster

If the easily stage-frightened start to come out of their shells as the evening progresses, all bets are not off. Walk back to the sign-up sheet, add your name, and you’ll probably be called on. Deliver your offering with confidence that whatever you bring will be accepted. “This is not The Apollo,” Webster says. “You don’t get the hook.”

Let’s be clear. Verbal Gumbo is not another poetry slam. A poetry slam is an entertaining competition. “Spoken word incorporates storytelling,” Troxclair says, separating spoken word from slam. “It can be prose or poetry.” Historically, it’s an artistic—and sometimes secret—way to spread information. It’s an oral tradition shared by Africans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and many other cultures.

“You are disseminating information to get people to think, to move, to change, to progress, to become empowered,” Webster says. That recipe ensures that Verbal Gumbo, like its culinary counterpart, is savory, spicy, and never the same twice.

Sample the next Verbal Gumbo on Thursday, May 16, or Thursday, June 20.

Good Drinks, Good Music, Good People

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“We keep it mellow but fun,” says Joanna Murzyn, one of the owners of Myth, a martini bar in the Old Market at 11th and Howard streets. “We like to have a calm feel. Nothing dancey or headbanging.”

Guests sit back on chocolate-leather couches and converse over craft cocktails while acoustic or jazz sets play in the lounge’s front window every Thursday night. The club sends out events news and promotions to anyone who texts “Myth” to (402)-965-0230, or guests can check Myth’s Facebook page to find out who’s playing next. If it’s the first Thursday of the month, you’ll find local musician Chris Saub with his guitar, a microphone, and folk rock sung with slight gravel. “It’s a sort of relaxed kind of rock,” says regular John Lewenthal. “He plays his own music, but occasionally he’ll mix in a cover.”

Myth is a rewarding place to be a regular. “We have a great crowd here,” Murzyn says. “You really develop relationships over the years.” Regulars know they’ll have a place to escape the downtown crazy on New Year’s Eve, and a special rum stays behind the bar for the only patron who drinks it. “Only one customer wants it, and we get it for him,” she says.

Owner Brian Murzyn

Owner Brian Murzyn

Murzyn credits her husband and co-owner, Brian, with a talent for bringing guests back for more. She recounted the story of someone freshly moved to Omaha who walked into Myth one night. “He said he knew he had to force himself to get out and meet people,” Murzyn recalls, “and there was Brian behind the bar. He’s been a regular for a couple years now.”

Regulars and newcomers alike should feel free to ask the versatile bartenders to make them something off-menu if none of the Myth suggestions sound quite right. “They love that,” Murzyn says. She estimated that roughly 80 percent of the cocktails served over the stained concrete bar are unique to the lounge. The Mystique, for example, has been a favorite since Myth opened in May 2007. The sweet pink drink is comprised of X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, mango rum, and pineapple.

“They have a really good feel for various drinks,” Lewenthal says. “They have such a large repertoire of things they’re able to put together, even for somebody that may not know they enjoy drinks like that.” The average cost of a Myth cocktail is $9, though there’s wine and beer (bottled and draft) for those with simpler tastes.

A couple menus from next-door restaurants are kept under the bar in case patrons need a pizza from Zio’s or an appetizer from Stokes to go with their cocktails. There is one TV behind the bar, positively small in comparison to what you’d find at a sports bar, for taking a break in conversation to check a score.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Myth is no longer open.

Cantina Laredo

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Cantina Laredo

Looking for a warm atmosphere during the cold winter months to get away with your girlfriends for some drinks and mouthwatering food? Look no further than Cantina Laredo in Midtown Crossing!

This Mexican restaurant boasts a relaxed dining area with a cozy fireplace, upscale bar scene, outdoor patio, private dining room (no room fees!), and seven flat-screen TVs. As for the fare, Cantina Laredo creates beautiful plates of Mexican gourmet made with traditional techniques. Anyone familiar with traditional Mexican cuisine will be taken back to a past vacation along the Mexican coast or countryside. The authentic experience is also made complete with a wide variety of imported tequilas and Mexican beers.

Margarita special, Her'Rita

Margarita special, Her’Rita

Try the chips and top-shelf Guacamole appetizer (made fresh tableside) with a Casa ‘Rita (house margarita), which is a premier blend of Giro Silver Tequila by Sauza, Cointreau, and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices. Or indulge in the most popular entrée, the Enchiladas Veracruz—chicken enchiladas filled with spinach and Monterey jack cheese topped with tomatillo sauce, marinated vegetables, and queso fresco. And, of course, you can’t forget about the rich Mexican Brownie sizzled in Mexican Brandy Butter with your choice of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream for dessert!

If you’re just meeting up for drinks, however, and feel like mixing it up, ask for the Her ‘Rita, which was carefully created to celebrate women making a difference in Omaha! The authentic Mexican cocktail combines a premier blend of Giro Silver Tequila by Sauza, Triple Sec and fresh-squeezed pomegranate, lemon and lime juices to create a delicious anomaly of flavors to please any woman’s palate.

Cantina Laredo featured entree, Enchiladas Veracruz

Cantina Laredo featured entree, Enchiladas Veracruz

Every Thursday from 4pm to close, Cantina Laredo hosts a Ladies’ Night with half-off house margaritas and wine by the glass for every woman who walks in the door. And Happy Hour runs from 4-7pm on weekdays with large house margaritas for just $5!

Cantina Laredo
120 S. 31st Ave., Ste 5107
402-345-6000
cantinalaredo.com