When you go to a concert, the artist is above you, on the stage, and he or she can't see you because of the spotlights.
Here's a contrary viewpoint, from Ryan Abeo of Common Market: "This is our chance to get together," he says. "How can you write about community and then not interact with the fuckin' community?"
Abeo, who goes by RA Scion when he's emceeing, is deeply interested in demolishing the wall between him and his listener. He encourages you to talk to him at the Black Sheep on Saturday night, when Common Market plays with People Under the Stairs. Lest you believe this is not something he's serious about, he also has this absolutely earnest offer:
"If anybody has a place to stay, hit us up. I am not trying to stay in a hotel every place we go. I like staying with folks," he says. (Interested parties can contact the band's management at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Abeo would probably be an excellent house guest. He is exceptionally humble and thoughtful, a clever storyteller with a great diversity of experiences. He grew up in Tennessee, but later lived in Greece and Zambia before settling in his current home, Seattle, in order to ensure a good education for his 12-year-old daughter.
Common Market is diametrically opposed to the standard negative hip-hop stereotypes. There is no violence in these rhymes, no gangs in Abeo's past. He is so opposed to misogyny that he and his wife both changed their last names when their daughter was born. Abeo is Nigerian for "her birth brings happiness."
"It's really the three of us," he says.
In order to support his family, Abeo works in property management, where he fills every role from janitor to repairman to dog-sitter. He holds these jobs out of financial necessity, but even if music frees him of such obligation, he says, he'd keep the less glamorous work in order to maintain his "connection to the blue-collar, working-class folk."
Populism is vital to Common Market's message. His words laud the virtue of hard work over luck ("Trouble Is"), of prayer and thought over rash action. (Abeo belongs to the Bah' faith, which teaches religious unity.)
"If you want to put teeth in it, the meat is there," he says of his lyrical content.
Still, there are visceral rewards in this music. The first 10 seconds of "Gol' Dust" is rhythmic candy, horns falling over echoing snare. This, like all Common Market songs, is the work of DJ Sabzi, who also produces for Blue Scholars. It comes from Common Market's latest LP, Tobacco Road, which was released last week on Hyena Records.
The last time the duo came to Colorado, it was to entertain the Democratic National Convention protest group Recreate 68, who requested the music and were obliged. The agenda will be no different Saturday.
"Come to the show to have a good time," Abeo says. "Although I do take the content very seriously, at the end of the day if we're not having fun doing what we're doing, then it's all for nothing."
Common Market, with People Under the Stairs, Shawn Jackson, Still Catchin Wreck
Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Saturday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $13/adv., $15/door, all ages; 227-7625, myspace.com/sodajerkcospgs.