Get up! Stand Up - Annual precedent Earth Day benefit held at SOhO Club
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The upstairs of SOhO Restaurant & Music Club hosted sixteen local artists performing their original works of spoken word, poetry, theater, and music for the “Get Up, Stand Up!” benefit for Santa Barbara’s Earth Day festival (held April 22-23). Hosted by David Fortson and Eric Cardenas of LoaTree Events in association with the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council, the benefit upheld the annual preceding tradition to the Earth Day festival to feature local artists that inspire activism within the Santa Barbara community on Wednesday evening, March 29th.
Host Eric Cardenas introduced the show, emphasizing “the power of words to inspire activism and uplift the community” and “create connections to leverage networks within the Santa Barbara community for the environment.” Cardenas recalled the environmental repercussions of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill as the event that ignited environmentalism within the local community.
According to Cardenas, the time following the spill featured the response and beginnings of home-grown activism that have continued. While “Get Up, Stand Up!” was held with the spirit of environmentalism, Eric Cardenas stated that environmentalism goes much further than simply the natural environment, but includes the people who are part of the environment as well.
The evening’s performances encompassed environmental topics as well as current issues of, as LoaTree states, “unprecedented assaults on women, people of color, people of different religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and more.” Artists of all ages and backgrounds presented insight into the diverse members and perspectives that comprise Santa Barbara.
Marc McGinnes kicked off the show with a piece performed alongside a framed photo of Earth from the 1969 moon landing. “This is the only heaven we know,” McGinnes stated as he gestured to the photo beside him and continued to reminisce the awe he and humanity felt during the moon landing contrasted with the horror and devastation of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill six months earlier.
McGinnes illustrated the response of Santa Barbara locals: “Earth angels mobilize and working ourselves into warrior mode.”
The theme of “warrior mode” continued in Jojo Murdoch’s confident delivery of her spoken word, “The Woman in Red.” After aging out of the foster care system, Jojo Murdoch began working with homeless mothers, foster children, and female veterans, writing spoken word to show “thoughts that are forgotten.” Murdoch passionately presented her piece inspired by her own personal experience and the stories of the women she works with.
Partway through the set Cardenas gave the first music performance of the night with his song, “Citizen.” Inspired by Barack Obama’s 2016 farewell address, he summarized and called on American citizens to be accountable for the change, to be the change, and to demand the change America needs. “Citizen,” with an air of Bob Marley influence, states the Constitution is powerless without the engaged citizenry Barack Obama’s address called for. Cardenas’ co-host David Fortson joined him on stage and the duo performed two original songs inspired by current economic political events in light of the 2016 election titled, “Conspire” and “Messengers.”
The remainder of the evening’s show continued with a variety of stories, such as Mary Freericks’ poem recalling her first “breath of freedom” when she immigrated to the United States from Iran, and Keith Mar’s spoken word of his love for basketball and his background as an Chinese-American from Bakersfield, California.
As the evening drew to a close, the audience departed hopeful and unified under the event of homegrown activism. “Get Up, Stand Up!” illustrated the diverse blend of stories that make up the Santa Barbara community and progressive actions highlighting the current local, national, and global issues.