Tuesday night hip hop on Main Street

Tucked between an aptly named curtain store (Window Fashion) and an aptly named vietnamese restaurant (Restaurant Vietnamese), Nyala is a popular ethiopian restaurant in the trendy “Soma” neighbourhood of Main street. Diners have enjoyed their award-winning African cuisine for over 20 years, and every Tuesday night, the patrons line up for a night of jazz influenced, soul drenched hip hop.

God knows how all these people found out about this night – Nyala's website ( is less than informative, with no mention of the events at all. is just as dusty, with updates spaced a year apart, and while I found a poster for the Nyala music night halfway down their front page, the last “event” listed there is for June 2009.

Regardless of all apparent attempts to keep this night a secret, the word of mouth has Nyala filling up on a weekly basis. The Tuesdays alternate between the Foundation Radio night and a slightly lower-key open mic style jam night. I spoke with Randy Ponzio, an engineer, producer and musician who plays a big part in the Foundation Radio group.

I've been doing the Foundation night since it's inception. We're all family, man. [Foundation Radio] Is more than a website, man, it's more than a name. This is the first time I've come across people that are, like, the true embodiment of community and family. They said it, 'Foundation Family' and I was like, cool, but you get to know them more and you see that these cats are truly about family. So much so that they've embraced me. And I know no one here, no literal family here other than my three children, but these cats have become my true family.”

Randy is one of three singer, rapper and multi-instrumentalists in the group Questpoetics. Featuring saxophone, piano, guitar, beatboxing and as many vocal loops as a sampler pedal can handle, Questpoetics had the crowd head bobbing and hand-clapping through their night-long set featuring a revolving door of unique performers.

It's a DIY world these days. You've really got to do it yourself. Our goal is to sell 6000 records, that's a modest goal. We have a huge online presence, I have a Youtube page that has generated in the past year 1.5 million views, I have 50 000 subscribers to my podcasts and on I give free video guitar lessons. And people will go on for the free guitar lessons, and through that they get to know me and our music. We give, give, give and in return, they buy, buy, buy. If you give, you get. I've given 30 000 people lessons in the last year.”

Through a grassroots approach, the Foundation Radio group has brought music to thousands of people all over the world, yet the feeling of a close family and community is at forefront of everything they do.

I grew up in El Paso, Texas. In the desert.” Randy says, as the server brings us our lentil stew. “I've been in Vancouver for three years, man. I'm here for life.”

// Tim Clapp

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: