Poemwriter’s Blues

I was turned on to Soul Coughing this past winter, and a recent viewing of their Screenwriter’s Blues got me to thinking about what I want to accomplish — and about what’s going on here.

Screenwriter’s Blues is the type of thing I’ve always loved.  It’s in the same sphere as the sarcastopop of Cake, or Tom Waits’ drier observations, or Jim Morrison in those lucid intervals when he didn’t take himself too seriously, or Zappa when he did take himself seriously, or Beck when he trades in the Dadaism for satire — and I too think this is where I’m unconsciously headed as well. I’ll never be Ben bloody Folds — a technically superb musician who can unite strong songcraft with incisive and poetic lyrics — let alone Leonard goddamn Cohen — but I have always had a bit of a groovy-slash-Beaty aesthetic, and it seemed somehow inevitable that I’d want to apply it to musical verse.

Erstwhile colleagues Bob and Caroline Menzies of the Canadian Drift are responsible for this in large part, having 1) established a local venue for it in the very first place (along with Kristan Anderson and others here who also liked to incorporate music), 2) found a way to capitalize on the current Owen Sound musical culture, and 3) allowed me into the fold to tinker, experiment and spit rhymes.

Point #2 is important. What is going on poetically here is going on under unique conditions, and is the result of a fortuitous and happy critical mass: a meeting of local musicians and writers. Sure, Spoken Word over music is pretty much par for the course. But here it is inescapable, an inevitability. This is a small town with a small literary scene and an immense musical scene. If you want to galvanize an audience here, you have to be part of a band.  You have to be a performer, an entertainer, and optimally someone who can integrate the novelty of Spoken Word with the “security” of rock ‘n’ roll. Corin Raymond and C.R. Avery go down like gangbusters in these parts!

So I think that interesting and downright badass things are in the offing — and it has in large part to do with the very unique mix of musical talent and personalities here. Where else could a poet collaborate with the likes of:

  • vocal phenom Tara MacKenzie
  • sui generis axeman Jake Chegahno
  • spiritual ska-rockers Rajasi
  • cellist extraordinaire Keira McArthur
  • soulful folkies Our Shotgun Wedding
  • ultimate journeyman guitarist Pete Devlin
  • blues maestro Ted Rusk

… among so many, many others who have backed up the local versifiers? I think what we lack in numbers as poets, we more than make up for in versatility and collaborative potential. And so I think a unique sound might emerge. A rootsy, rock ‘n’ roll poetry, divorced from the usual hip-hop aggro, aware of Beat and hippie antecedents yet contemporary. Maybe it’s a tad provincial.  We can cop to that.  But it is entertaining, has a particular aesthetic, and has integrity.

It is also lively, alive … and live.  What more could you want?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

News for September

It has been, and will continue to be, a busy, busy few months.  There are three things I’d like to mention: 100K Poets and Musicians for Change, my headline gig at the next SOUNDS coffee house, and the latest issue of MOSAIC. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick As Kottke, Slower Than Prine

I wrote a song this week – lyrics and music. And last night, with “One Take Jake” Chegahno as my crazy Phil Spector (we patented the “Wall of Silliness”) I recorded it.  Jake, of course, is the local visionary who took my first set of lyrics and set them to music (“The Song That Never Ends”), and with whom I sang for the very first time at OTHERfolk 2012.  I also hit the stage and sang with his band WOE at their final gig at the Nawash Pow Wow.

Stoked?  Pumped?  I was in tears.  I still am. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 25: A Quick Note on Professionalism

Hi, all!  Still coming down to earth after attending Toronto Mad Pride 2012, where I did a reading for their “Architecture of Mad” themed arts night on July 12.  More news on this (complete with pics!) in a later post.  Ditto links to the new MOSAIC for August, which will feature the spoken word piece I did at the commemoration of the re-built Owen Sound bandstand on June 30.

Maybe we should pause on the bandstand thing, for it makes a nice segue into the main theme of today’s post.  Consider the following infogram/macro/whatsit:

Scraped from FB (where else?)

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

May 25 – 28: Tranny Guitars, Getting Slammed, and MOSAIC

Hello, all!  Let me start with a bit of housekeeping.  Not actual housekeeping — gorgeous weather such as we’ve been having pretty much precludes that (in fact, quit reading this straightaway and go to the beach)!  Rather, I’m setting this virtual house in order.  I’ve been remiss, and it’s time to tighten up the form and content of this site. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments