The Coachella Valley Art Scene is proud to host CONNECTED, a community open mic this Saturday!  We are so excited to be a new host of Desert Writers, Artists and Musician’s monthly event.  This talented group has been taking the initiative and hosting their Open Mics meet-ups at Koffi around town, this will be the first time in a gallery setting.

Expect poetry, spoken word, short stories, and live music.  We are even hoping that even visual artists will feel comfortable enough to present their works while on stage.

Organizer to the event, Michelle Castillo, had a moment to catch up with one of the members for an interview this week.  Learn a little about this cool local organization and come see them live in the spotlight this Saturday!

Anyone can sign up for Open Mic!  Come early to reserve your spot!

connected - community open mic




INTERVIEW: Jake Epstine

written by Michelle Castillo

michelle castillo



.Jake Epstine is a monologist/writer/stand-up comedian/nurse. During the early ’90s, Jake was a comic in L.A.’s alternative comedy scene.  A job at San Francisco General Hospital took him up north, where he found his voice as a monologist.  Looking for greater creative opportunities, Jake returned to L.A., discovering yet another voice, as a writer, in Oliver Mayer’s Writing Workshop.  Seeking cheap rent and hoping to get a decent job, the fallout of the recession brought Jake to the desert two years ago, at which time his monologue “I Was Saved By The Ladies Of The Night” was staged at Georgia State University.  You can read about Jake’s broke L.A. years on his blog, “A Tale Of The New Depression And A Once Lucky Man.”


Jake Epstine

Who inspires you? 

 “The tenderness of Tennessee Williams.  John Cassavetes’ relentless  exploration of everyday people, the truth beneath his deceptively rambling dialogue.  My acting teacher Charlie Varon, who asked me the inevitable: “Why don’t you tell a story, without making people laugh for a change?”  My biggest influence was Oliver Mayer.  He taught me about Lorca and the magic of duende, its irrationality and earthiness, the holy vibration of our bodies when we create. Oliver encouraged me to write about how the molecules change in the room when our hearts are opened or, more importantly, when we open them foolishly.  This was my oxygen, I could breathe.  I’m a Jew from New York, still I write with my bare feet touching the earth, waiting for the magic to pound out of my fingers onto the page.”


What current projects are you working on?

 I am editing my novel ‘Lost Boys.’ the story of a would-be L.A. comic who works as a nurse, watching as the rich are pampered in private rooms, while the poor get cut open by doctors who refer to them as “Menaces to society.”  A good part of the book is about the AIDS epidemic.  I would see these “Lost boys” languishing in their hospital beds, waiting for me and the other gay nurses to take care of them, because no one else would.  We were all lost, the lost people of the fog Williams lives in.  I had to give the boys a voice.  Little did I know that by doing so, I would find my own.


Jake Epstine

How do you feel about art communities/collectives?

I have been part of numerous art collectives and writer’s groups. Too many of them had a hostile energy that was not conducive to an artist trying to make the connection. People did not critique constructively in these groups, they took great joy attacking your work, ripping vulnerable writers apart.  I hadn’t felt at home in the desert until I joined Desert Writers, Artists and Musicians last year.  Our voices are different, our outlooks unique, still they’re open to authentic work, they listen to others reading to enjoy, not to tear down.  You can feel your piece is not working, but you take it to the collective without fear, knowing you’ll get specific feedback, without having your heart torn out, followed by a lot of smiles and pats on the back.