Sunday, July 14, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 4 - Sydney

Coming in to Sydney was like a gift from the gods.
Candy Royalle met me at the train station fresh from the airport. I looked like a hobo, and she said as much as we hugged and I lumped all my stuff in her car.
She drove me to her place where I was going to stay until I took the bus to Canberra in a few days time.
Rounding the bend, I glimpsed the ocean, a deep emerald contrasting the vibrant blue of the sky.
What the...?
Oh I had missed her.
Sometimes you forget where your heart really lays until you see it.
The ocean...

It gets better.
Candy took me to her place, a little shack overlooking Tamarama (right next to Bondi) that I swear was built specifically for poets. She showed me my room - yep, I had a real room and a bed and everything! (I was crashing on Randall's couch for my two week stint in Melbourne, which was great, but damnnnnnn a REAL bed!!!)
Putting all my stuff away (poet talk for exploding my clothes in my room), I looked over the balcony at the view which was to greet me every morning and was soon to give me views of joggers, lovers walking, tourists scoping the sites, surfers waiting for the next break and whales migrating.
I was in heaven.

And Candy was the mentor I never knew I needed. She could relate to my journey and my frustrations and my excitement. She helped me put this tour in perspective - that, as a first time actual "tour, I had done marvellously and should be proud of myself. Once people catch on, she said, there'll be no turning back. You'll get your big crowds, people just don't know yet.
There was no need to justify WHY I wanted a great big audience, a loving vibe and to be able to show my art to the world. She knew that it didn't matter.
Candy Royalle gave me the permission to be an artist, struggling or successful, delighted or upset... just an artist trying to push through and make something of myself.
She got it.
And without her I think my Sydney experience wouldn't have taught me half as much.

I got to perform at the Outspoken finale on Wednesday night and when Ray asked me to finsih the night off, I was anxious, because these events tend to go for a long time and I was worried people might filter out after Luka and Omar had their stage time. Didn't happen. What DID happen is one of the coolest things I'll ever have in my experience bank.
I slayed em.
A packed house.
Most of them unaware of who I was and why I would be the final artist for the night.
You should have heard the roars, the laughter, and the pin-drop silence...
It was nice to be given that kind of status and to not only own it, but smash it right out of the park.
Luka asked me to peform with him the next night at his show on Broadway which I obliged. A great show, one which introduced me personally to The Tongue - an artist whose career I've followed for a while and have always admired. For him to tell me he was really impressed and hint at a future collaboration was awesome.
If the collaboration never happens I won't mind. It was cool to just connect.

The Roar Poets gig was great, if somewhat smaller than anticipated due to the heavy week of words it had been. Outspoken + Luka's surprise gig meant people were worded out and probably pretty broke. So we had an intimate night of words at 107 Projects - the BEST and most supportive crew of people I think I've ever met. They made the night so amazing with their professionalism and understanding of what the night could be. The sound, the lights, the seating... everything was perfect.
What was amazing was Candy Royalle proving that this was a night to be celebrated. Her introductory performance was inspired and incredible. She lifted us to the point where I knew that we were going to have a fantastic evening.
And the attendees agreed.
Every single one of the people who came were blown away by the craft they had witnessed.
Some even suggesting it was the best gig of the week.
Hey, I'll claim it!

That Monday we took the bus to Woollongong where some of Angela's relatives live and got spoilt with food and beer for a few days before our Canberra trip.

I could tell you about all the crazy gigs we went to in between Outspoken and our bus away.
But I feel like I've rambled long enough.
Let's just say that there was an art gallery opening with a packed crowd and we were the only slammers who entered.
Let's just say that jazz + poetry in a book shop isn't a new idea, but was a lot of awkward fun.
Let's just say that the Art Party crew, with their incessant hugging and weed and food have possibly restored my faith in what it means to be a beautiful person.
What a blast.

Canberra next...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 3 - Melbourne

So we got to Melbourne with a blue sky waiting and bicycles dinging and the trams all a-bustle and I made my way to The Dan O'Connell for my first performance of the week.
It was great, fantastic, largely spectacular you know?
Well... It was The Dan, which means a casual open mic with a feature in a pub where the Guiness flows freely. Local poet John McKelvie shouted me a number of rounds so I had fun.
It was the first of a number of events I performed at in Melbourne where people were just... cool.
Those who know me know I was trepedatious about Melbourne.
I'd been burnt the year before by some toxic interactions and gig handling, only to be saved by the few people that attended my workshops.
So this year I was afraid to be honest.
See Melbourne is so big and so packed with events that there is no knowing what you should go to or not. It's too full. Too many chefs. Everyone screaming for attention.
And what is actually touted as a good event could just be people blowing their own horn.
And what is supposed to be just a chilled evening could be something amazing.
But that is true of art in general and not just limited to Melbourne of course. It's just very pronounced in Australia's art capital, especially when you're trying to organise and promote a gig yourself.

So I just tagged along to things that were happening and got invited to perform a lot and it was overall a great experience because the people were great. I met great people. I stayed with Randall Stephens and we talked geek, watched the new Superman (review below) and generally just hung out coz it was nice.
One night we went to an event called "The awards" - a celebration and gathering of those people and poets in the community who have "Oppositional Defiant Disorder".
I'd heard there would be poetry and wrestling.
I was even invited to read my piece "Bennalong's Ghost" and present an award.
What a trip.
Randall was painted green like the hulk.
Benjamin Solah was dressed in tight tight tight wreslemania tights and the rest of the poets and crowd were like extras from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It was a mad house.
And there was wrestling. After all the poetry, nearly three hours of it, they wrestled. Yep. Benjamin Solah and James Jackson got their WWE on in a club in Victoria.
It was fucking excellent.
It was something anyway.

Later that night we caught the train home and decided Randall should chase us on to the train and we would scream "AHHH HE'S COMING FOR US!!"

We thought it was funny anyway
The train passengers? Not so much...
The Roar Poets gig itself was great. We missed Angela's presence, but Jacky T more than made up for it with his beautiful words. And a kick ass zine that has since spread because I'm showing everyone how good it is... Bastard.
It was definitely the most confusing gig in organisational terms. The House Of Bricks crew were super supportive of The Roar Poets Tour, but it seemed a clash between whether it was a feature event or an open mic with guests. A natural hiccup on a first tour.
My favourite part of the night was Matt Hetherington, local poet and beautiful person grabbing me and giving me an inspirational speech courtesy of The Joker from Batman (the Jack Nicholson version)
(2:01 - And remember Bob, you... are my number one... guyyeeeee)

I'm really stoked that my Melbourne experience was a positive one.
People like Benjamin Solah from Melbourne Spoken Word, Matt Hetherington, John McKelvie, Steve Smart, Tim Train, Jacky T, Amy Bodossian, the HOB crew, Michael Reynolds and a great many more people showed me that the people you interact with effect your ideology around a space or place. By being involved with them and their adventures I was given a positive shot of beauty and art and love. So thanks.
But especially thanks to the man Randall Stephens. A great host and person I admire in poetry. He's a beast. He's a man who's always supported me and I cannot thank him enough for that. Every Melbourne experience has at least been blessed with his presence and DVD collection.