The Expression Express

Poetry, Chicago-style.

Comedy, New York-style.

Cultural observations, Las Vegas-style.

Two strikingly dissimilar performers — Windy City-bred poet Kweisi Gharreau and Big Apple-lovin’ satirist Kent Jackman — help wrap up Black History Month with free shows here in Sin City.

"It allows me to look universally, but also within myself as a young black male in America," says Gharreau, an urban poet reciting his original verse tonight as part of "Gospel Fest 2009" in Henderson. "Where poetry is right now is where rap used to be before it became hip-hop. It takes poets like myself who believe in their art to continue to be in the underground, but willing to take the next steps to make it a mainstream art form."

Art such as "hisphace" ("His Face"), relayed in urban dialect, about the murder of his brother and the grizzly condition of his body right after its discovery, which begins:

"Tha ryte syde uv his head had a whole in it tha syze uv a grape phruit."

The vivid recollection — and the traumatic inspiration for his career as a spoken-word poet — was born of pain from the brutal 1992 slaying of Gharreau’s 17-year-old brother, Lemont, who intervened when a 14-year-old girl was confronted by two gang-bangers armed with a 12-gauge, sawed-off shotgun. After telling the girl to go home, Lemont was grabbed, stripped naked, forced to his knees and murdered, execution-style.

"I became depressed in dealing with my brother’s death and very self-destructive," says Gharreau, who eventually met with the killers to "make peace" with them. "Writing the poetry helped me to heal my heart, deal with my own pain and ugliness. Once I saw this talent I was blessed with, I wanted to take it to its highest level possible."

Gharreau forged a poetic path throughout the city, sharing his work at poetry gatherings and on a local radio show, earning a reputation as Chicago’s top-ranked poet. Speaking engagements throughout the U.S. and Europe followed, then a book titled "n’nocent RAGE," as well as a collection of works for children, "of poetry one, two, three, i LOVE poet-tree." From the tragedy that stirred a poetic soul, Gharreau expanded to express universal emotions, as in his poem titled "Soul Seachin’," again penned in his dialect-rich style, unencumbered by grammatical correctness:

"I sit in the sun to soak away sin, sittin’ in the soul of my silohette; like stars in the universe i kannot sea behind the space of the sun; slowly settin, still sounds swayin; sayin i want to sea the sky as my soul seeks the silence of stillness …"

His works span a range of topics from relationships to politics. "This empowers me, therefore I’ve been able to empower the community at large," says the artist who embraces the "urban poet" label. "People need poetry they can connect with. Today, ‘urban’ encompasses white, Latino, Asian, everybody, not just black America. It represents the culture of America."

Chronicling the rhythms of a different city with a different style, Jackman turns the Clark County and West Las Vegas libraries into a minimetropolis this weekend, starring in "MaD from New Yawk!," a one-man, multimedia romp through the town where people ride in a hole in the ground. "It’s a montage of characters who are all representative of types you’d see in New York, and the through line is the survival tactics used to make money in this city," says Jackman, formerly of TV’s syndicated "Apollo Comedy Hour," who portrays 14 characters in the piece, echoing the approach of Broadway shows created by Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin. "With our economic stimulus package being such a big deal, everybody can relate."

Peppered with hip-hop music, drop-in news bulletins and sarcastic audio inserts, the journey kicks off by boarding "The Insane Train," as the mass transit system frames a bit called "Lifestyles of the Poor, But Determined." Another takes a swipe at street-side vendors and subway hustlers skirting the margins of outright scams. Ten-dollar gold watch, anyone? "I bought one once, and as soon as I got it too close to water, it became obvious I had made a bad deal," says Jackman, noting that the program does dovetail into Black History Month. "Because it’s based on my own point of view, it does have an African-American premise," he says, citing his game-show parody "Afro Jeopardy," quizzing the crowd on knowledge of black culture.

Incorporating footage from "The Apollo Comedy Hour," the 75-minute show is structured "Saturday Night Live"/"MADtv"-style. Other segments include a dig at Disney-ized 42nd Street from a rat’s perspective, plus "The Old School," a philosophical rumination on conditions in the ‘hood, and "The Curbside Congregation of Common Sense," exposing the "sin-filled" practice of rent parties.

"It deals with the need to find ways to reinvent yourself to make a living," Jackman says. "I can either be upset and complain, or I could create a vehicle that speaks to the madness, the absurdities."

This weekend, Kweisi Gharreau and Kent Jackman speak to the diversity of expression, mining the poetry of the soul and the comedy of the streets.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at or 702-383-0256.

The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like