Monday, June 17, 2013

Roar Poets Tour - Diary 1 - Armidale

Armidale is cold. I forgot all about that. After living there for a few years I'd forgotten that the beautiful rolling hills and rocks sit beneath a layer of frost so sharp when you speak the air slices your tongue.
But we got there... with our multi-layered pants and jumpers and socks...

There's no-one in Armidale you know? Unless you count the uni. But I'm not even sure if the uni counts itself as part of Armidale. I know when I was a student there we could exist pretty well without any form of town contact... that's either good or bad depending on how hungry you are/n't or how stoned you are/n't.

But I programmed the tour to included Armidale for one reason: it's the beginning of things.

It was in Armidale I really learnt to rap, to write, to produce... and to make friends.

So here I was again, after all these years, showing my art to the people who had supported me from the beginning.
Sure, it wasn't ME they were supporting. It was their sons and friends who I happened to be in a band with. But I took what I could and still ran with it. It still mattered.

We arrived in Armidale to find that only a few of the flyers had been handed out, the radio station wouldn't get back to us, and the community group we'd been in contact with for months, desperately trying to get any form of workshops or community connections, were STILL not taking us seriously, or just not... I dunno...
what do you call it when people don't get back to you and then give you backhanded support at the last minute?...
On top of that we'd been told the place would've emptied out for school holidays...
It was fucking frustrating and a bit like being punched in the guts.

So when people showed up to the gig. When a room full of people watched and listened intently. When a table actually said they were here for poetry... Well suffice to say I was pretty happy. When the people who had been there to support their family and friends said "wow, it's great to see what you've been up to all these years, fantastic", I felt like I still mattered. Which is a nice feeling. And to be perfectly down and depressingly honest probably the first time I've felt that this year.

And BrokenWord were fantastic. It was them that most people were there to see, and they did not disappoint. What was amazing was that Martin Ingle and Angela Willock kept people in the room after the BrokenWord boys had done their thing. The strength and raw honesty of their performances kept people gripped. The 90% of the room who weren't there for poetry were all of a sudden deeply invested in the poetry. The bar... the fucking bar where everyone milled and talked and yelled drunkedly fell silent on more than one occasion in all of our sets.

And being the organiser and facilitator of the event I was worried we wouldn't be able to make any money to pay the venue hire or even ourselves... but we did. Yes we lost money still. Fuel and food dents finances dramatically but hey... whatever... we got at least one free meal out of it...  and the venue hire. And we were all pretty clear from the beginning that this would not be a money making venture... it would be gypsy survival. It would be rolling with the punches and making the most of it. It would be: Happiness = people + fires + conversations.
Which we had plenty of on Saturday night after the "slab" gig...

So now on to Nimbin. The Oasis Cafe. 7pm Thursday night 20 June.
The Roar Poets Tour is alive. It's a thing now. Not just a few words online or a FB event.
And we're excited and enjoying the taste so far.
Sure Armidale was cold. But if the rest of the shows end up being half as warm-hearted as Armidale then I think we'll be pretty happy.

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