‘Love of the community’

The Live Mixtape returns to the WECC after a multi-year hiatus

The Live Mixtape, which invites Winnipeg rappers and poets to present works based on a theme, is back after a four-year hiatus. (Supplied photo)

When The Live Mixtape, an event associated with the Wall-To-Wall Mural and Culture Festival, took the stage at the West End Cultural Centre, 15 artists highlighted their interpretations of love.

“Love is an ethic,” Elliott Walsh, the event curator, says. “It’s something that compels, but (it’s) not just romantic love. It’s love of the community, love of the neighbour, love for yourself. It’s all the actions involved in love: showing and accepting it.”

Walsh, who performs under the name Nestor Wynrush, says the event was originally set to be discontinued in 2018. However, after two years of isolation due to the pandemic, he felt compelled to bring it back.

The Live Mixtape “was just an experiment at first,” Walsh says. “I assembled a few friends from the Winnipeg rap and poetry community and tried to do something ephemeral.”

The 2018 show’s theme was “home” and people’s ideas surrounding the concept. This year’s showcase, which took place on Sept. 16, centred on love.

During rehearsals at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), Walsh and the performing artists (who included Anthony OKS, BBS Steve, Marisolle Negash, The O.B. and Andrew Sannie) spent time sitting and discussing ideas of love. Walsh says his goal was to have the artists feel like they were working toward producing a show that had a cohesive sound.

He selected performers who fit in with that hip-hop and R&B sound. “I didn’t want sounds that were too varying,” he says. “It’s a matter of what feeling I wanted to leave inside the belly of the listener. I wanted people to leave with good feelings (while) thinking about love.”

The Live Mixtape brings together performance and mentorship, according to Walsh. Along with the mentees he worked with at GerryFest and Studio393, Walsh will work with schools and different communities across the country to create workshops on music and music history.

“We’re in conversation with Gordon Bell (High School) to go to their classrooms and talk about music history and songwriting,” Walsh says. “(We’ll be) doing a workshop on Oct. 9 at the WAG, free of cost, where we’ll be discussing the same things, followed by a small live performance.”

According to Walsh, the communities he plans to partner with have stories that need to be shared.

As a touring musician, as well as someone who has worked in many different communities, Walsh says one of the greatest joys was being able to live among the individuals within those communities and speak to them.

“It’s important to bring those stories and those experiences back home and to share them,” he says. “Hearing the different wants and needs and the different approaches taken provides a sense of empathy.”

Published in Volume 77, Number 03 of The Uniter (September 22, 2022)

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