Nick Belardes' Anhinga: Bakersfield Spoken Word at Bakotopia Unplugged

Local author Nick Belardes performed the first chapter of his novel Anhinga as poetry at Bakersfield’s best open mic Bakotopia Unplugged. The novel examines a dual-ethnic’s experience of the San Joaquin Valley and post-9/11 life with lyrical intensity and a power rooted in the images common to Bakersfield residents: the boxcars of South Pacific trains, neon graffiti, and the cool water of backyard swimming pools. Addressing a broad range of topics at the heart of Valley life, the chapter explores questions regarding families, race, mythmaking, and rebuilding.
Musician Landen Belardes accompanied his father on guitar, layering the poetry with added emotional resonance. Available on iTunes, Landen’s album Listen contains all original tracks that are both sophisticated and direct. The honesty of his lyrics can be heartbreaking at times, but the album has an overall uplifting quality—as if we might have learned something about ourselves after we’ve listened. Here's the video, filmed by Jesse Rivera and Nick Belardes.

Bakotopia Unplugged, hosted by Matt Munoz, takes place each Wednesday at Fishlips Bar & Grill (21+). Sign-ups start at 7:30 pm and the event continues until closing. No cover charge. For more information and to watch recent videos of performers, check out its Facebook page here.

On a personal note, the final few minutes of Nick's performance resonated with me as we enter Bakersfield summer. One of my first memories of my mother is of her teaching me how to float in the pool, her hands holding me from underneath--much like the father and son featured in the chapter. The father's advice should be remembered when we find ourselves simply needing to float.
"Just relax. You're buoyant. Let yourself feel lighter than the water. Look up at the heavens. Be with the air. Breathe deep, feel your heart, trust the water."

Contact Information
NICK BELARDES is the illustrator of "West of Here" (2010). He's also the author of "Random Obsessions" (2009), "Lords: Part One" (2005), and the first literary Twitter novel "Small Places" (2010). He has worked as a creative writer in animation for the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, has written for TV and film, as well as news for television news, various magazines, news sites and newspapers. He can be contacted through his Facebook page here.
LANDEN BELARDES is known for cranking out the jams with fellow indie rockers Dirty Spanglish and the alt country/Irish duo Black Dog. His solo venture is a mix of eclectic indie rock and passionate acoustic-driven ballads. Think the Shins meet Wilco with a poetic edge that only a Bakersfield singer/songwriter could offer. “I think there’s still room in the world for songs that are a little bit rocking and a little bit heart and soul,” Landen says. Please check out his album Listen on iTunes. Visit his Facebook page here.


  1. Thanks Downtown Beat for the kind words about me, Bakersfield literature and my talented kid who makes me sound good while providing me some calming licks on the guitar...

  2. Thank You, Jane! One of these nights you gotta take the stage too! It's there for you! :-)

  3. @Nick: You're welcome. I love seeing you and Landen perform together. What a double whammy! I'm excited for the day I see both of your sons play with you. I'll probably had to hide the tears. Thanks for sharing your talents. You're an inspiration to a lot of people here.

  4. @Matt: Bakotopia Unplugged is a great event. Thanks for the encouragement. You'll see me on stage sometime soon...