La Saguasera isn’t exactly seen as a spot where you can find Miami’s up-and-coming arts talent. But 20-something natives Angelina (“Angie”) Rivero and Rudy Flores (mostly known nowadays by his stage name “Bause Mason”) had a hunch there was a lot right there in their backyard, and they just needed a stage to stand on.
So they launched the talent and arts showcase Backroom Sessions MIA in December 2016 with a show in a spare room in Angie’s parents’ restaurant, The Fish House, on Miller Drive.
Almost two years later, they’re hosting shows at venues all over the county, but they’re still sticking to their mission of elevating locals in truly local spots, “putting the bottom of the map on the map,” Angie says.
They’re not trying to compete with popular venues in hot spots like Wynwood and South Beach. They just want to give all the talent out in the ‘burbs and other “off the map” places a chance to get on stage in front of an audience.
Basically, they want to become the “Groundlings” of Miami talent – a place, like the comedy school so many Saturday Night Live stars got their start, that stays low-key and in the background even as its alumni take over the world. “They can say one day, ‘I started at Backroom’,” Angie says.
And they’re already on their way. Some of their regular shows, like their hip hop show Explicit, are booked out months in advance. And one of their earliest performers, whose first time on stage was at a Backroom show, has been cast in a Nickelodeon show.
BACKROOM SESSIONS IN 10 WORDS OR LESS: “It is a local visual and performing arts showcase that is cultivated by the community.”
WHY IT EXISTS: Most of the spots to perform or catch live performances are in places like Miami Beach, Wynwood, and Downtown, far from the suburbs where most Miamians actually live. So Angie and Rudy started Backroom to bring the opportunities into their backyard, often giving those performers their first shot in front of a live audience.
The first show in December 2016 was a variety show, with everything from stand-up comedy to live music. Today it’s grown to six monthly shows, each with their own niche. But that commitment to backyard vibes remains.
“We’re sticking close to the people in the suburbs. They’re the ones that need it the most,” Angie says.
REPPING COUNTRY WALK: In addition to the monthly shows, Rudy and a few others rent a warehouse space in West Kendall where they offer free workspace for creatives every Tuesday. Everyone from food truck operators working on their menus to filmmakers working on a script have shown up. In the evening, the space transitions to a low-key spot to jam. They call it 152 “to rep the street most of them grew up on,” Angie says. (That’s a reference to SW 152nd Street, down by ZooMiami and Country Walk.)
ART IN UNLIKELY PLACES: They’ve got their regular spots, like Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co. in Westchester and Jezebel on South Beach. But they try to mix up the venues, too. Their last poetry show was at a flower shop called Natural Orchids Boutique. “We want to give them art where they least expect it,” Angie says.
THREE LOCAL LIVE MUSIC VENUES THEY LOVE:
- Tea and Poets
- Lucid Gallery
- Up 2 Something Studios, a collaboration between Rudy and a few other local artists.
NEIGHBORHOODS THAT DON’T GET ENOUGH LOVE: For Rudy, it’s Liberty City, where they hosted a show during Art Basel. “There’s a lot of creative talent there. A lot of the artists there said they wished they could participate in more things, but transportation was an issue,” he says.
For Angie, it’s her neighborhood, Olympia Heights (that’s just west of Tropical Park). “I take my morning runs there, walk around the neighborhood at dusk. It’s the most gorgeous place to be, gorgeous bougainvillea everywhere and palms. It looks like a postcard without even trying.”
Want to check out the next Backroom Sessions show? Follow them on Instagram to be in the know about upcoming shows.