Monday, 31 October 2011

If the Bad or Good Times are comin'...let 'em come!

I sit and type this fully intending to listen to Horror Punk and Psychobilly for Halloween (like Lord Byron used to do), and I might get to that later, but for now I’m listening to Chris T-T’s album of his show Disobedience, a collection of acoustic/folk songs based on the poems of A.A. Milne.  It’s a lovely set of poems, perfect for anyone of all ages, heart-warming, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and only slightly left-wing J
Listen and/or buy here:
I supported the living legend that is John Cooper Clarke on Saturday night at the Duchess.  I always prefer it when JCC does more poems that his anecdotes, they sort of trail off into nowhere, and I’ve heard his jokes many times before whereas I can listen to his poems over and over again.  I think it’s an example of a tight show, even though it’s £15 a ticket, I reckon I’d rather seen 60 mins of quick-fire Clarke than the blurry 90 mins.  I think I did a decent enough set, people were engaged, new faces watched me intently, and although I had to break out the shoutier stuff to grab the babbling audience’s attention for my last 2 poems, I think it went quite well.  Nice to have a dressing room, eee that’s the big time.

Last night I went to see Scroobius Pip supported by B.Dolan last night.  It makes me think about my relationship with rap and hip-hop, a genre I came to because other bands I liked were influenced by this sort of music, it never clicked with me when Eminem etc. was all cool When We Were Teenagers.  So I really like their style of rap, intelligent, hints of the political and very theatrical, definitely showmen (B.Dolan wore a noose round his neck, Pip chatting in-between songs).  Same with The Ruby Kid, Sage Francis and MC Lars.  However I’m glad Pip commented how people in this country look like cat trying to reach something when doing the sort of hands up hand movement thing when the beat drops.  I’m no rapper, but as Pip and B.Dolan show there’s a blurred line between spoken word/poetry and rap music, but we all share energy, passion and great live shows whether acapella or with beats backing us up.  And Pip’s collection of poems with illustrations is brilliant, what I imagine Sbapping Turtle Press (the DIY poetryzine me and Lizzie do) will evolve into (
In other news:  2012 is looking busy busy busy already!  Here’s a list of upcoming gigs/events:
5th November PIE RACE FESTIVAL 3 comparing the Bar Room Hero acoustic stage:

16 November GILLGATE OPEN MIC another outing with Can’t Sing, Can’t Dance, Don’t Care comedy collective.  Dunno what I’ll do for it yet…but I’ll do it!
27th November LITTLE FESTIVAL OF EVERYTHING I’ll be performing Letter To The Man (from the boy), my one-man show at this fantastic festival up in Coxwold at the Fauconberg Arms:

1st December FRANZ NICOLAY + CHRIS T-T I’m putting on a gig (so you can be sure I’ll be doing the odd poem) at City Screen Basement.  More info here, both amazing musicians:

1+2nd February 2011:  LETTER TO THE MAN (FROM THE BOY) comes to Leeds.  My spoken word show, I do some poems, the audience do some scribbling, we all reminisce about growing up, becoming adults but never forgetting what we once loved.  Plus it’ll be free!  Two shows, one on the 1st, one on the 2nd, but limited capacity, so watch out for more info
8th February 2011:  LETTER TO THE MAN (FROM THE BOY) comes to York, this time in City Screen Basement Bar.  Haven’t decided price yet, but will get some support acts to make it people’s threepenny.
So thanks for checking out the blog. Have a good Halloween (a pagan ritual where we dress up as Frankenstein).


Thursday, 27 October 2011

How Awesome Merchendise Saved Rock 'n' Roll

Dave stared into the abyss.
The emptiness of the room gazed into his soul
Tore through his chest and took a shit in his heart.
The promoter held back tears like a brave soldier
And the sound guy kept checking his watch out of spite.
They packed the gear away.
The van spluttered in embarrassment onwards
And trapped inside, nobody spoke or met each other’s tearful eyes.
Dave arrived home.
He still believed in the dream, and went online
As he usually did to update the band’s necessary Facebook status.
“Great gig”  He lied.
He could not bear to look at himself in the mirror
And felt a small bubble of bile and vomit clog his throat.
Rock ‘n’ roll nearly died.
The ghosts of Elvis and Cobain were silent
They did not even bother to criticise this miscarriage to music.
But then, Dave noticed something.
An advert online for something called Awesome…
Awesome Merchandise for bands and artists alike.
Click.  Click.  Click.
The shopping cart was brimming like a packed venue
And the packages flying faster than a crowd-surfing singer.
Rock ‘n’ roll did not die.
Dave’s band never slowed down after that fateful night
And their fans were innumerable and armed with badges and t-shirts.
Their logo was omnipresent.
Upon lighters, bags, banners, coasters, hats, plecrums and mugs
Dave’s face was everywhere and automatically dubbed Awesome.
Eventually Dave would die.
Drugs and easy women took their predictable course
And greatly affected his musical abilities to the level of a small child.
They would find him dead.
Alone, in a pool of fluids, pen and paper in hand, with a half-written song
Which even his most loyal fans admitted was pretty naff.
But no one once blamed his merch.
His Awesome Merchandise.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

“Why is it all the intelligent people are socialists?!”-Headmaster

So on October 2nd I went alongside a coachload of others from York to Manchester’s March Against The Tories organised by the TUC.  Predictably, the march was sealed off by police, the route didn’t seem to see a single member of the public and for the most part we were only chanting to ourselves.  It seemed the example of a fruitless exercise, more demoralising than uplifting.  A trudge through streets repeating chant after chant serves little purpose when the only people who can hear you were chanting the exact same thing a few minutes earlier. And with no media coverage whatsoever and nothing really appearing in the papers, it’s more like a play acted to no one, a performance without a crowd.  As The Player says in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead: 
There we were—demented children mincing about in clothes that no one ever wore, speaking as no man ever spoke, swearing love in wigs and rhymed couplets, killing each other with wooden swords, hollow protestations of faith hurled after empty promises of vengeance—and every gesture, every pose, vanishing into the thin unpopulated air. We ransomed our dignity to the clouds, and the uncomprehending birds listened. Don't you see?! We're actors—we're the opposite of people!”
There were were-demented protestors shouting forth revolutionary anthems, holding high banners, placing very ounce of faith in unity.  Every action went unnoticed upon the sleepy world tuned out behind a barrier of police.  We’re activists-we’re the opposite of people!
Similar too was the Manchester occupation of Albert square, an attempt to recreate Tahir and Trafalgar occupations.  If it wasn’t for the rain, we’d have having a kick about, dancing to a soundsystem and there’d be far more people trickling in.  As it stood, in the miserable weather, we huddled under a weak canvas with the only option to listen to speakers.  I performed Protest Hugs, the first ever time I’ve done a poem at a rally or political event when the audience didn’t really know me, York’s crowd usually recognise my face.  Think I did alright, needed to be a littler calmer on the mic, make sure I could be heard, but few people cheered and said they enjoyed it so can’t complain.  Also, my fans on my LikePage ( has gone up a lil (not that I’m a fame junkie or anything…)

Here’s a little link:  “Why is it all the intelligent people are socialists?!”-Headmaster, 40 Years On
On a very different note, I’m currently in 40 Years On at the Theatre Royal, York (  Alan Bennett’s first play, it’s more a collection of sketches from his Oxford days, but nevertheless very funny sketches.  It’s very fun to get back into acting, for some of the other lads it’s another job for them, but I haven’t had a nice role since spring 2010 when we did Henry IV Part 2 at Uni.  So it feels refreshing to be part of a play that’s getting good reviews, getting laughs and has some interesting things to say about Britain and Englishness, out attitudes to war and literature.  Our sense of morality and duty did not extend to actually being helpful, kind and generous in British society, and in an attempt to reclaim some sense of social justice post-world war two we have lost those notions of honour and stiffupperlipness.  Or perhaps it’s about the last day of term and some lads mucking about.  Judge for yourself, it’s on till next Saturday and I guarantee it will make you laugh at least once (or twice).
My current projects are many and scary.  There’s a play-writing competition for the York Mystery Plays to create a modern re-telling.  Something to think about, get my theatre head back on.  Then I want to really work on Letter To The Man (From The Boy) and make sure it’s watertight.  And finally, I want to work on a new long piece, 20-30 mins, based on love because to be honest that’s a subject I’ve not touched in my 4.5 years performing.  Now’s the time.
At the moment I’m having a sort of evaluation of what I can offer.  Yes I can do open mics, sets of poems and slots, but I want to write more ‘shows’ and packages that can appear to the majority of people.  So expect The Unkettleables poem coming very soon but after than a few more poems about growing up, love and friendship for any audience of any age at any event.
Bring on 2012!
Also a handful of upcoming gigs but not overly booked out so please get in touch to recommend any poetry nights or events etc. I should check out!
Cheers all, thanks for visiting my blog, all the best J