If the recent surge of opera performances in Astoria leaves you cold, head to the Wet Dog Cafe Thursday for a blast of the hottest hip-hop on the West Coast.

Local singer/songwriter/producer Kelley Shannon hosts Hip Hop X-plosion, starting at 9 p.m. Thursdays, Aug. 18 through Sept. 8 at the Wet Dog, 144 11th St. Shannon is teaming up with Mike Harrison of Digital Den Recording Studios in Portland to bring 10 of the city's top hip-hop artists to Astoria for four nights of rap, dance, trance and neo-soul. Performers include Liquid Anthrax, Rapnasty, Trashheap, Synlyricis, Wolverine, Mezzilina, The Down Family, Treeig/S. James and Six. Shannon will open each show with her original music. Cover charge is $5.

Local hip-hop musicians are encouraged to take the stage in the "Grab tha' Mic" contest that's part of each night's show. Rappers, singers and poets are invited to perform their material to live backup tracks in a loosely structured competition judged by the producers and the audience. One performer will win a recording session at Digital Den at the end of the X-plosion's run. Sign up to perform between 9 and 10 p.m. each Thursday.

Shannon, who also composes and performs jazz at local venues like The Schooner, hopes the X-plosion will lead to more hip-hop offerings by visiting artists as well as resident musicians.

After graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Wash., Shannon went on to perform with collegiate jazz groups before relocating to Oregon in 1996. She worked in Los Angeles for two years in the music and movie industry before coming back to the clean air of the coast.

"My life has been amazing," Shannon admitted. "I just end up meeting the right people."

Do you have a suggestion for how readers can enjoy their weekend on the coast? Send comments by Monday the week of publication to Coast Weekend, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or e-mail kstrecker@dailyastorian.com

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