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Originally published Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Fresh and local: It's the Live @ Hidmo series at Central Area restaurant

Hidmo, an Eritrean restaurant in the Central District, hosts free Friday shows through Sept. 11.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Concert preview

Live @ Hidmo: The Summer Concert Series

8-10 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 11, Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine, 2000 S. Jackson St., Seattle; Free (206-322-4715 or www.hidmo.org)

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For a free night out enriched with music, head out to Hidmo.

The Central Area restaurant is hosting a free summer concert series, called "Live @ Hidmo," with such Seattle artists as Laura "Piece" Kelley, Orbitron and J. Pinder.

"We want to make local talent accessible to the local community," said Rahwa Habte, Hidmo's managing owner.

All sorts of music will be represented every Friday — soul, spoken-word, funk, pop, rock and hip-hop. And shows are all-ages. The setting is an intimate family atmosphere, where the Who's Who of the local arts community go to relax and sit back as audience members.

"It is one of the few places you may see a Senegalese group joined by American jazz musicians for original improvisation," said Doreen Mitchum, who works for the nonprofit 4Culture, which provided the funds for Hidmo's music series. "Live @ Hidmo is another perfect example of cultural activity that distinguishes our communities as vibrant, unique and authentic."

The Eritrean restaurant is a haven for artists and community members in the often-overlooked Central District.

The restaurant subs as a venue/gallery/boutique and holds numerous events and concerts, such as a live African-music series on Sundays. This past month, Hidmo also hosted events for the Hip Hop Congress National Convention, a gathering of grass-roots hip-hop entrepreneurs and artists from all over the world.

Gabriel Teodros, who curates the Friday series, is a mainstay at Hidmo. The emcee sees the venue as a "community center cleverly disguised as a Eritrean restaurant."

The restaurant "means so much to kids — to have a place for all-ages music within their community, by people who look like them, who do all forms of music," said Teodros, who grew up in the Central District.

Teodros hopes that other artists will follow his example.

"I want other artists, who have power in the community, to realize it and actualize it, that you can bring each other up, instead of putting yourself out all the time," said Teodros, who documents the shows on his blog — http://gabrielteodros.blogspot.com.

Pop-rock artist Cristina Orbé plays on Friday this week.

"I kind of view it like an honor," said Orbé. "I'm in the company of the dopest, freshest artists in Seattle."

Hidmo is "home for so many of us artists, where we go to hang out," added Orbé. "Whenever we go to a show, it's a chill dope vibe, where little kids to adults can go hang. ... Every time I'm there, I'm filled with a smile. It's at the center of what's so cool in Seattle."

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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