Tucked away in the classic brick and stone neighborhood of Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill sits a soft spot called Studio 281 where, every other Tuesday, a cozy, dimly lit room swells with people, music and poetry. Since September 2009, poetry troupe Black on Black Rhyme has hosted the open mic show “Take a Load Off Tuesdays”–because the Monday blues need somewhere to go before Hump Day hits you. (Pictured right: Henri Davenporte, Owner of Studio 281)

When I popped into the show on April 20, the atmosphere was more grown and sophisticated funk than grown and sexy. Not that sexy didn’t make an appearance. Velvet jackets, pinstriped top hots, chunky heels and liquid leggings–the beautiful brown people in the building definitely fit in with Studio 281’s smooth-but-gritty vibe. Otherwise known as The Real Jazz Spot, it’s a study in textures with dusted brick walls surrounding black leather couches, artfully interrupted with frosted glass doors.

But I digress–the poetry! The intimate crowd was first treated to Black on Black Rhyme’s signature pop-up set, where incognito poets emerged from the audience and flowed straight from the heart.  No mic needed as they roamed the room, just love for the word.  A tall, voluptuous beauty named Aliah belted out a Donnie Hathaway tune that took me back to seventies soul.  The room heated up after two on-fire sistas spit about black women being compared to Camrys and the city of Detroit not being worthy of a YouTube joke. Lovely Sarafina (pictured above) poured her heart out at the keys, asking, “What am I here for/ If she makes you happy?”  It wasn’t all conscious lyrics and melodies, though; host Paul D lightened the mood up with his…creative…rendition of Ginuwine’s classic “So Anxious.”  Meet me at 11:30, indeed.

When the show ended at 11:00, a flood of gorgeous black folk mingled and networked with each other in the Studio, getting numbers, hugs, and all-around good vibes.  If I said you had to have been there, would you believe me?

I didn’t think so.  You need to see for yourself.

Catch me at Take a Load Off Tuesday every other Tuesday @ 8:00pm at 281 Peters Street in Atlanta.  The next show is on May 4, and you can RSVP on the Facebook page for special entry prices.

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