Photos by Ariana Gastelum. Alyssandra Nighswonger performs Thursday during Viento y Agua's weekly open mic.
In honor of hosting weekly open mics at Viento y Agua Coffeehouse for the past 10 years, Alyssandra Nighswonger will be celebrating with a 10-hour open mic marathon this Saturday, April 22 from noon to 10:00PM.
Nighswonger has also curated a lineup to perform every hour, featuring artists such as Janie, Mooney Starr, Taji, Front Porch Dreamer, Meni Mago, The Rookeries, Cat Cunningham, Crystal Snake and the Drains and The Hawkline Monster.
“I want it to feel like part block party, part reunion,” Nighswonger told the Post. “I want to meet some new people. I want to see some old friends. I want people who have never met to form new bonds and just appreciate each other.”
In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a raffle for the chance to win prizes from Viento y Agua, Fingerprints, Folk Revival Festival, Art Theatre, The Pie Bar and more. In honor of Earth Day, funds will go toward The Growing Experience, a seven-acre urban farm located in North Long Beach.
Approximately 14 years ago, Angie Evans started open-mic night at Viento y Agua to establish a safe space for artists and musicians that was free of misogyny and full of respect, Nighswonger said.
Nighswonger, who was a regular performer at the time, took over four years later. As she’s watched other recurring performers and attendees come and go, she’s always worked to maintain its same values.
“The regulars change over months and years,” she said. “You look up, and you’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is a whole new sea of faces.’ It’s kind of like how your body’s skin cells replace itself [...]. It’s still your skin, but every cell is a different cell than it was, but it’s still you. That’s like how open mic is.”
Nighswonger has been involved in the Long Beach community for 15 years. At one point, she worked behind the counter at Viento y Agua. Today, she helps several local businesses. To maintain a flexible schedule for her art projects, Nighswonger works part-time at MADE by Millworks and Goldie’s on 4th. She also manages social media for the Art Theatre and the Folk Revival Festival.
Nighswonger did not exactly plan to host Viento y Agua’s open-mic nights for 10 years, she said. However, she has no plans to quit anytime soon.
“It’s one of those things where it’s like...it’s like home,” she said. “You could always stay there. It’s real comfortable, it’s real sweet, and it really touches people.”
Viento y Agua has open mic night every Thursday from 6:30PM to 8:45PM. Performers can start signing up at 6:00PM.
Viento y Agua is located at 4007 East Fourth Street.