Enter through the back gate, and funnel into the small bubble of the eVocal courtyard. The back of the lot remains corned off by a handmade bar where food and drink is being served. Moving towards the outdoor stage, a large mural of spray paint catches the eye. A list of nicknames adorns the corner of the painting. To any outsider, they are just a few random characters. But to the Family, they are the nicknames of the crew that makes the survival of eVocal possible.
Walk inside the venue and enjoy the music that is spilling through the doorway this evening. Take the time to admire the local artwork that rests peacefully on the wooden walls. Meander to the front of the shop to browse through the clothing, jewelry, furniture, and a few smaller pieces of artwork. See familiar faces, community musicians, and others driven by the need to experience a creative environment.
This was the normal setting at eVocal until July 2009 when the shop closed the doors and faded away. But the disappearance was merely temporary, as eVocal is more than just a business stuck to one location. eVocal is a Family of artists working rapidly to fuel the progression of community artwork in Orange County.
During my college years is the time when I first noticed hints of eVocal. Working around Newport Beach and regularly checking the OC Weekly introduced the idea of the Costa Mesa-based business. It brushed through the mind as a place for artists, for music, for a local scene. But there were many aspects of eVocal that I could not fully grasp; always picturing an ambiguous business walking around Orange County wearing many different hats. There was open Mic night, local concerts, an art gallery, a clothing and craft store, as well as local event promotion. As college continued, this vague entity was never fully realized, I became too distracted to visit, and thoughts of experiencing eVocal left my head.
A few years later, I found myself in Huntington Beach. Working at a surf shop for over a year introduced me to the scenster kids. Every weekend they liked to throw their cash away on getting wasted and boogying down to electro music at local venues like La Cave and Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa. One little spot in particular, named Avalon, was a hole in the wall bar right next door to eVocal. Wednesday nights provided an excellent scenster dance party, but I started to notice the activity going on next door at the quaint hangout spot.
My roommate and I began to check for shows at eVocal. The venue always hosted 18-and-over shows, always featured local musicians, and always had the walls dripping with pieces from local artists. A warm vibe of acceptance and genuine passion radiated from the part-venue, part-store, part-art-gallery. Eventually we made friends with musicians in the area, and began frequenting shows there on a regular basis.
However, just as I began to absorb the idea of eVocal, the final Open Mic night occurred, the last show was played, and the doors were closed. Just as many other businesses had fallen victim to the supposed Recession, so had eVocal.
Despite the setback, eVocal remains a translucent entity that is not known for doing one task, but a whole multitude of them. To be a part of eVocal is simple. Every honest person is accepted with open arms. To be part of the “Family” is another story. Just outside the base of the business are a handful of closely-knit members who specialize in a range of artistic abilities ranging from advertising, to screen printing, to graphic design. Brett Walker is the hard-working head of the “Evocalism” movement, and also the cornerstone of the Family. When it came time to shut the doors of the Costa Mesa shop, a small piece of eVocal disappeared, but the Family still remained. From there, a new opportunity arose. The Camp.
Down the road from South Coast Plaza and across the street from the anti-mall, The Lab, is a relatively new shopping complex simply named The Camp. A green, eco-friendly lifestyle is the focus of the modest collection of stores and eateries. In the center is the Seed: People’s Market. After floating like a soul without a body for a few months, eVocal finally settled here. In the People’s Market, a shopper will solely find environmentally safe products and gifts that are made locally. Many of the pieces are hand-crafted, and made with extreme attention to design and detail.
Next door to the store is the Gallery. During the Fall of 2009, the doors were opened wide for the artists of eVocal to make the space their own. Currently, barren walls are slowly filling with artwork from such seasoned artists as Warren Heard, Jesse Miller, and Theo Hetherington. Swing by any sunny afternoon and find Walker in the back room designing clothing, while Miller instructs a stain-glass class in the bright main room.
Bits and pieces belonging to the eVocal of the old days continue to emerge at the Seed and Gallery. The roots of eVocal have been implanted into a new soil, and into an environment that will allow the Family of eVocal to continue to spread the creative seeds of inspiration throughout the population of artists in Orange County. The Vocalism Movement lives on within the Family, and will continue to morph, evolve and survive into the future. Say goodbye to the old, and become a part of the new. eVocal has not left. Rather, it is waiting for you right down the street. Join the movement.