Marianas Variety

Last updateSun, 20 Oct 2019 8pm







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-5:59:47A.M.






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Open mic night at SafeHouse

STARTING this Friday, SafeHouse in Garapan will host a weekly open mic night from 7 to 10 p.m.

“Anything goes,” said the event’s organizer, local musician Jason Wakeham. “You can do poetry, you can tell a short story, tell jokes, do a card trick, you can break dance… You got 10 minutes to just do whatever you want.”

Jason Wakeham

All ages are welcome to attend and participate in the event, and drink specials will be available to those 21 and older. The Hut will also be serving tacos and burritos.

“I think that it’s really important — especially for young people — to have access to a group of people that care about the art that they’re making,” Wakeham said. “Even if it’s just singing covers of your favorite songs and karaoke, that’s still a great outlet. And it’s an important, valuable thing for people to have.”

Wakeham has been living in Saipan for around three years. He is originally from Seattle, a city known for its thriving and longstanding music scene. Wakeham said he wants to help foster something similar in the CNMI.

“I felt like the island has a lot of musical potential,” he said, recalling when he first arrived. He believes Saipan is the home of “a lot of really creative and great artists,” but that there is “not much as far as a cohesive music scene.”

And he said he knows from experience that “to create a place where those people can be together and support each other and be supported is a really powerful thing.”

“So I want to put some energy into that and try to make it happen,” he said.

It won’t be the first time Wakeham has contributed to the local music scene. Before Yutu forced Franken Brau to shut its doors, he hosted an open mic at their location in San Antonio every first Friday for over a year and a half.

He also worked with John Ulrich of 11th World Productions to create a 20-track compilation album called “Music of the Marianas,” which spans across a variety of genres like reggae, hip hop, and acoustic, but features exclusively Saipan-based artists including Uprooted, Out of the Ordinary, and the Palauan Church Choir.

Wakeham recently released his own album, “Dragonheart,” on Bandcamp under the stage name Jason Awaken, for which he played every instrument and sang all the parts. He also mixed and recorded the album himself.

He said the title track “was really about moving to Saipan and the feelings of trying to figure out exactly why I was coming here and what was here for me… it also kind of catalogs a lot of the things that I love about the island.”

“It’s really kind of a love song for Saipan,” he said. “It’s just about being on this journey, and seeing this new place that has so much potential and opportunity.”

With luck, events like the open mic night at SafeHouse will help new and experienced musicians unlock their potential.

“I think [music] can be used for all kinds of ways of expressing yourself. But some of my favorite music is music with a message that can try to push people’s boundaries and open their minds a little bit and see things from different perspectives,” he said. “I know that’s what it did for me, growing up, and that’s one reason it has meant so much to me in my life.”