Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Practise Patience June tour

So in 2012, I compered the acoustic stage of one of the Shatterfest all-dayers, and wrote a poem for each of the performers.  This eventually became the Snapping Strings zine at the end of 2013.  But throughout the year, I developed one of the poems with the musician who had inspired it: Travels By Telephone (aka Jamie Wilson).

The poem became a full 30 minute show, where we played with story-telling and poetry.  We wrote poems, songs and carved a narrative to make PRACTISE PATIENCE.  And we’re dead proud of it.

It’s about throwing your phone away.  Communication, friendship, trees, tea and the thwacking of tambourines.

So we headed out on tour across the UK to share this show.  I’ve never been on a tour like this before in the traditional sense, so with my Gameboy DS in my pocket, Jonny Gill t-shirt and a bag o’ dreams me and Jamie head off in the Camper Van of fun.

First up, Birmingham at the ORT CafĂ©, cool little space which houses artwork and feels a nice place to drink away a cheap tea and chill out.  We played Table Football before the set, I got a little furiously carried away, mostly at the thrill of meeting a host of new musicians I greatly admire, like Elly Kingdon, Paul Stokes & Sarah & Stef.  Perfect friendly first tour gig!

Armed with the sounds of The Vengaboys, we headed to The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich with staff who were the pinnacle of openness, offering us a place to crash, food and beer.  We performed with mics in the front bar, testing the flexibility of the show and challenged by Kenny, the drunk old school punk to yammered away in the corner of our eyes and did a spot of yoga during our set.  We even had a boogie to Vengaboys on the jukebox.  Thanks to Dan, Dan, John & Matt!

After a battle through London to reach Brighton, we did a super lovely unplugged set at the Mad Hatter thanks to Harry from Young Attenborough.  Mostly new faces to me, it was a decent sized crowd who were respectful as we light up the corner of the small bar and had great feedback from the seaside crowd about a show by the seaside!  The next day I fully explored Brighton, and I can see why so many people move there in pursuit of a leftie/alternative scene.

Finally we hit Brighton, but I think it hit us hard.  Roomtown Fair is a big house party/show full of sweaty punks dancing to ska, reggae, swing, punk and folk-punk.  I had a whale of a time catching some of my favourite acts, like Jake & The Jellyfish and Dan Kemp, as well as discovering bands like Fat Sandwich, Damsel, Block Fort and Let’s Go Nowhere.  Thanks to the Trouser Flapping Manor for their dedication to DIY, being amazing hosts and Jenn Hart, for booking me and Jamie to do the show.  It was like discovering my own tribe.

It’s amazing so many lovely people out there putting on friends, helping out acts, taking a chance of something new and building something they want to see.  Long live DIY!

So, I’m not home.  But we have some dates left, 18th June at the Dog & Parrot in Newcastle, The Winchester in Bournemouth on the 25th and York on the 27th at the Black Swan.  But we’re still looking for gigs, in houses, garages, cafes, pubs…anywhere we can have a engaged and friendly audience.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The People's Poet

In my post-tour bluesy dozy state, I just wanted to add my love and respect to Rik Mayall

I’m going to write a comprehensive blog, but suffice to say I’ve just gigged in Birmingham, Norwich, Bristol & Brighton and come across very diverse and exciting punk scenes, from Birmingham’s lovely gang of queer/nerdy/vegan punks into friendship & well-being, to the punk rock ‘n’ roll inclusive venue of the Owl Sanctuary to the unplugged let’s-do-the-show-right-here of Brighton to the bouncing-off-the-ceiling-punk-as-fcUK-ragga-ska-madcappery of Bristol’s Roomtown Fair.

During this trip, I thought about what ‘punk’ poetry means, and managed to see the very ace Jenn Hart who has a superb poem, I Am about those narrow definitions of punk culture on art and identity.

Rik’s Young One’s character is a constant reminder to check out pompousness within political scenes, to check out ‘radicalism’ and, most importantly, to laugh at ourselves as performers.  Punk is manic and madcap and a bit weird but, importantly, it’s theatrical.  He conquers the audience with his presence, something I always strive for in performance to totally pin down the attention.

I talk about Rik in my podcast on the history of punk poetry, you can listen here

Thanks People’s Poet