FROM LONDON to LOUISVILLE & Beyond
II. Punk Saint
When great jazz musician, composer, and conductor David Amram beckons you with his pipes you are obliged to follow. And when electrifying poet, writer, and whirling dervish Ron Whitehead spins his magical drawl in your direction you are moved to follow him as well. There is a magnetism, a feeling that wherever they GO "It's Happening!" So I knew I had to go to GO, had to go to London, had to go to Louisville. Dionysus was beckoning me and there was no turning back.
London International Poetry & Song Festival
produced by Richard Deakin
As I walked into the plush upscale Trafalgar Square Hotel lounge for the opening launch party of L.I.P.S. there was crackling magick in the air. Still recovering from 9-11 I was wide open for a collective orgasmic experience, I wanted my socks knocked off and I wasn't disappointed. The lounge was packed and as I looked around I thought to myself "Okay, where are my people."
Scanning the room I finally saw Beat Daddy Amram at the other side of the room and made a beeline in his direction to see him, ecstatic as always, and be in his presence.
The lounge wasn't just reserved for the festival but was also open to London's yuppies and suits. The lineup for the evening featured Bob Holman, Lord Buckley, Scaramongo, Frank Messina, Ron Whitehead, Carolyn Cassady, and David Amram who accompanied the spoken word artists and then got into his own scat groove. The wine was free, the energy was swaggering, sassy, and soulful. Unfortunately it was difficult to get the suits to pay attention while the artists were displaying their charms. That was until Frank Messina came on. He shouted to the crowd "Shut The Fuck Up!" and when that didn't work he instructed each of us to face our neighbor and scream "Shut The Fuck Up!" This magical wail worked, some of the suits walked out, some decided to stay and learn a lesson or two. Frank whispered and roared "I want to hear poetry!" and hear it we did. The electricity amped up with Bob Holman and Lord Buckley (Jason Eisenberg) gracing us with their riveting talent. I knew then as I do now that live readings accompanied by live music are the finest form of entertainment there is. Here was a Beat Revival, great vaudeville in the making, spearheaded by David Amram and Ron Whitehead, moving into a direction that carried inspiration, hope, big heart, and so much joy! That was it, there was so much joy in the air, and no room for remorse. These generations of rebels were not going to be beaten down, they were not only going to survive but, like Zorba, these glorious demon saint outlaw outsiders outriders were going to live life fully, in spite of Everything!
Having weaved in and out of the Beat Scene since I was 13 I experienced a collective wild-heartedness that I have rarely felt before. Rebel Night at The Hackney Empire Theatre on Saturday Evening is where I met hillbilly viking poet and musician Michael Dean Odin Pollock. David Amram introduced us. Michael Dean tells me he is from Iceland and I, in my uniquely American isolationist spirit, think to myself "Iceland, what planet is that?"
Michael is with several of his Icelandic buddies who are all fine poets and musicians and I am delighting in the foreignness of it all. I come to realize that Michael is not from another planet really and he removes his new book, No Short Cut To Paradise, and says "here, this is for you." Michael Dean reminds me of Elvis, when Elvis was young and tender, before he got all messed up, and although Michael Dean is 48 years old he looks much younger and has a depth of kindness that is rare.
Michael is delightfully engaging and I had no idea he was a musician as well as a poet until, ten minutes later, he says he's going on next and grabs his guitar and heads for the stage. He is performing with his brother Danny. They call themselves The Pollock Brothers. As they sit side by side on stage, with their guitars, they begin to play "Desert" off the new CD From Iceland to Kentucky & Beyond. I can hardly remember the last time I heard a live guitar, two guitars, with no backup. I get flashbacks of Elvis and Dylan and the 60s when the guitar was the instrument of psychedelic rock and the peace movement.
But Pollock's music goes beyond that ranging from authentic hillbilly to Moroccan trance to psychedelic. The synchronicity of their guitars is pitch perfect, seemingly played in one chord, one drone that produces sounds that are complex, intricate, and mesmerizing. I sense I am hearing a new fusion of music. There is a purity about it and the audience feels it too.
After their performance I take a break and move to the lobby. I notice, at these bohemian events, that we are a restless people. We give each other the freedom to be restless. While the show is going on there are small groups in the lobby and outside in the street chatting and laughing with one another.
Often I have, regrettably, missed a great performance because of my restlessness, because
I have to move, talk with people, connect, and not feel confined to my seat all evening. Epic wanderers need to keep moving, even when we are together in one big house.
As I go back inside the theatre, London's master comic, Jeremy Hardy, gets us howling with that delightfully wicked English sense of humor, the kind of sarcasm that is uniquely English. As the evening moves on Beat Daddy Amram magically improvises his spontaneous musical framework for spoken artists Ron Whitehead, Richard Deakin, Charlie Newman, and The King of New York, Bob Holman, and many others.
The dizzying, electrifying energy that vibrates through Ron Whitehead's body while he performs "Tapping My Own Phone," which is a subversive anthem, speaks volumes to the artist's plight in America: yes we may be able to say almost whatever we want but we can also starve to death in the process. A rabble rouser, a tireless activist, ecstatic wanderer, and a rock poet on a mission, Ron's poetry has the power to wake us up and alter our vision of the world. On the other side of the coin, his wailing makes you want to get down, celebrate, dance, and howl with great balls of fire, like when you hear "Gimme Back My Wig: The Hound Dog Taylor Blues." This is what great art can and should do. When I see Ron Whitehead I feel a true American Spirit before me and I almost feel like a foreigner in his presence because New York is New York is New York is New York, but New York is hardly America. New York is a country within a country. It does not carry the true down to earth American Spirit. I believe Ron is one of the few American Artists uniquely qualified to criticize America because while he's criticizing he is simultaneously offering us hope and pointing the way to salvation rather than despair and wretched excess. He's a rebel with a cause and he never lets us down.
When New Yorker poet pioneer of Slam Bob Holman, who was actually born in Kentucky, gets on stage he hits a nostalgic nerve in our collective subconscious and has us laughing almost immediately. One of the best performance artists in the world Bob dazzles and charms us with his passion for life and his vaudevillian style antics. A poet, actor, song and dance man who has got it goin on he captures the genius of W. C. Fields and The Marx Brothers.
Every time I run into Bob I want to break out into a dance, and in fact I do. He hits an ancestral nerve in me: over 100 years ago in many of the Greek villages of northern Greece travelers from one village to the other would greet each with dance. Not only were Apollo, Sappho, and Dionysios in the house but Zorba was dancing amongst us as well.
Ron's son Dylan Whitehead read his poems aloud for the first time. Michael Pollock's son Marlon performed as did his brother Danny's daughter Tanya. They are in a band called ANONYMOUS. A Rite of Passage was in the air. Kentucky poet Charlie Newman read one of my favorite poems from one of his new books of poetry, the millennium rags.
27.01.00 - zen
so where is my zen
I need it
I need it
I need it
so where is it
I got zen out the ass
I got style and class
and I got a free pass
when I'm flush
But my zen slips away
like these words that I say
and it all fades to gray
so I'm asking again
if you know where my zen
went how why or when
but especially where
cause I really do care
and it just isn't fair
can you dig it?
no I don't have the deed
and I don't have the creed
and I don't have my zen
Sunday afternoon back at The Hackney Theatre, David Amram presented Beat films: Pull My Daisy (narrated by Jack Kerouac, score by David Amram) and modern classics Lowell Blues and A Gregory Corso Tribute. Lowell Blues is a masterpiece, an exquisitely moving painting, pure poetry where Kerouac's Dr. Sax is read by David Amram, Carolyn Cassady, Johnny Depp, and others.
All elements are in perfect synchronicity and harmony creating a beautiful marriage of prose poetry, music, and haunting images of Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac's hometown.
It was refreshing to get Carolyn Cassady's take, a woman's perspective, of her role in The Beat Generation. I got the feeling that she too sensed that wherever Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and the whole gang were "It was happening" and she had to be there, come hell or high water. I first met Carolyn at a Jack Kerouac Conference in Boulder, Colorado twenty years ago and had the pleasure of meeting her again at the Big Sur Event in Northport, Long Island this past summer. I am amazed at how beautiful she is with a spirit that is delightfully girlish. When we met in London we laughingly took part in some "girl talk" and she told me a delicious story about her current love life, but I was sworn to secrecy so I can't divulge any of the details!!!
The unstoppable World Beat of Kerouac's principal musical collaborator David Amram tells us about his friendship with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Big Heart David Amram brings me close to tears with his sincere and heartfelt revelations about the creative force and Beat heritage. He makes it clear that Jack and The Beats did not think of themselves as beatniks or of starting a movement, rather as friends hanging out together, finding solace, encouragement, and inspiration in their mutual artistic efforts. David inspires us to pursue our art relentlessly, not to squander our talent nor to pursue the path of wretched excess. As he criss-crosses the planet preaching and gathering like-minded souls with a tender heart and a true American Spirit, David is the eternal optimist.
His ability to improvise at will with spoken word artists is nothing short of miraculous. It always works. It appears he's got a direct line to The Source, and he never waivers from his true calling.
Kentucky born Los Angeles playwright, poet, and filmmaker Mark Reese, with his associate Patti Brand, filmed both the London and Louisville Events. They are making a documentary on David Amram titled David Amram: Last Beat Standing. Mark and Patti recently won The New York Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for their documentary The Boys of Winter, about the lives and final days of his father, Peewee Reese, and his Brooklyn Dodger teammates.
By evening we all floated into The Ocean for Beat Night, the London Festival's grand finale. The ecstatic evening had heads bobbin, hearts throbbin, and bodies howlin with an energy that could hardly contain itself. Yes we had ourselves a kollective kosmic karmic orgasm that, finally, blew our hearts our minds and the roof off The Ocean!!!
ANONYMOUS (Marlon & Tanya), named Best New Electronic Artist in Iceland, tore the place up.
Bob Holman jumped out of his skin raving "Yes Yes Yes" as he performed "Story Line," "For Ron Whitehead," and "A Poem For Neal Cassady."
Bart Droog and Jan Pankow, both from The Netherlands, howled their poems in Dutch.
L.I.P.S. producer Richard Deakin presented sweet sonnets and bold sagas.
Pete Brown, who created "White Room" and so many songs for Cream, came out of retirement to perform an electrifying set.
Alabama 3 and The Bap Kennedy Band (Van Morrison's Band) performed Hank Williams songs plus their own rip roarin foot tappin charismatic sounds.
Tribute was paid to Beat Master Bob Dylan by the superb Pete Jagger.
David Amram's dazzling versatility accompanied nearly all the spoken word artists including Icelandic poet novelist, and member of The Sugarcubes, Bragi Olafsson. Bragi's reading was elegant, understated, soulful, heartfelt, and humorous.
Then Icelander Michael Pollock read "Gone," a story about some of the crazy wild juvenile cats he used to hang out with in his teens before he decided he had enough and decided to channel his energies into music and poetry. Michael's brother Danny, The Pollock Brothers, joined forces with Kentuckians Scaramongo and violinist Marisa Barnes to perform a dynamic rock-inflected version of Michael's "Desert." The crowds wailing applause inspired me to get up out of my seat and dance. It was a 60s head trip that reminded me of rock concerts at the Filmore East in the East Village and of my journeys into the big skies of New Mexico where the spheres seem to deliver psychedelic twangs of string instruments.
Scaramongo, an experimental progressive rock world jazz band, along with violinist Marisa Barnes, who perform with Ron Whitehead and are all from Kentucky, played tracks from their latest CD Off The Cuff. "Nonesuch," one of my favorites, fuses middle eastern music and I get haunting images of burkas flying through a desolate terrain. It makes me want to dance in ancient ways. The beauty of Scaramongo is not only the fusion of different styles of American music but the exquisite fusion of different cultures. As borders come down throughout the world it is thrilling and uplifting when various cultures can peacefully converge to make extraordinary music. In "Fingering Velvet," composed by Marisa Barnes, I hear the rich deep lament of a strong woman with sorrow, made even more poignant with Marisa's superb violin playing. Scaramongo, Marisa, and David Amram accompanied Ron on his "Tapping My Own Phone" with an upbeat Scottish sound that worked beautifully. This Masterpiece poem speaks volumes and the audience shouted with delight and collective agreement as he brought it on home.
Poet Charlie Newman, part of the Kentucky contingent, but born in Newark, New Jersey, has that hip minimalist Berlin New York City vibe about him. He is a poet's poet and I have tremendous respect for his work which is deep, pure, dark, real, beautiful, shocking, and excellent. Although I'm partial to hearing poetry as opposed to reading it he's one of the few poets that I thoroughly enjoy reading, getting wrapped up in his newly published the millennium rags, partly because I feel as though he's revealing my secrets. When I tell him this he says "maybe everyone has the same secrets so details change but the essence is all one, or not." Charlie reads "25.01.00 - another America," a brilliant critique of America but without a sense of despair. Yes there is disappointment and regret, and maybe hope, but no wails of angry politic activism, rather an almost conscious decision to wisely disengage from the political spectrum.
Ron Whitehead's "I Will Not Bow Down" was explosive. A Beat Anthem that is A Masterpiece in the same class with "Leaves of Grass," "The Wasteland," "Howl," and "Thanksgiving Prayer" it captures the spirit of America in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. Ron's magnificent clear voice accompanied by David Amram, Scaramongo, and Marisa Barnes had the audience yelling, clapping, chanting Yes Yes Yes while riveted wide-eyed in their seats. His words explore the urgency of our deeply troubled world and his viscerally compelling performance draws us into the experience. Michael Pollock stood by me as Ron read. He said "feels like a bomb hit the place! This is one of the great poems of ALL Times! Better than anything I've heard! Stands shoulder to shoulder with 'All Along The Watchtower'!"
By this time everybody's communing with everybody and the evening appropriately ends with Ron's poem "Never Give Up," inspired by the message he received from His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Accompanied by Inspector 99 (aka Andy Cook) of Scaramongo on didgeridoo, David Amram on piano, and Marisa Barnes on violin, Ron's warm and intense drawl draws us into a direct experience that gently raises the vibrational level of the audience to a higher ground. We are moved by the power of its simplicity, dedicated to illuminating the human spirit and improving human relationships throughout the world.
II. Punk Saint
Interview with Michael Dean Odinn Pollock
November 9-10, 2001
Viking Hillbilly Musician Poet Michael Dean Odinn Pollock has lived in Iceland for the past 28 years. That's where his Mother is from. He performs solo, with his brother Danny, as The Pollock Brothers, and with Iceland's greatest living poet MEGAS. Michael is the author of the chapbooks Bohemian in Babylon and The Martial Art of Pagan Diaries, both published in Iceland, and a new book, No Shortcut to Paradise, published in the USA by Wasteland Press. Michael Dean says "the best place to hide is in the open" and true to form he is boyishly wide open about everything, which is part of his charm. He goes on to say "I am a several thousand year old child. This carnation?
A lesbian trapped in a man's body. I am more about emotion, touch, passion, intuition, intimacy rather than cocksman, gunman, rocketman. As an artist, shaman, unholy/holy scribe I naturally gravitate to the feminine aspect and respect it while, all the while keeping my yin firmly placed in my yang!"
Michael Dean began writing poetry at age ten but soon after, when his teacher gave him a copy of Silver Pennies, the same book that inspired Patti Smith, as a young girl, to write, his love affair with poetry took off. He reached another epiphany when he saw a picture of Rimbaud. He was taken in and swept away by Arthur Rimbaud's poetry. Not feeling accepted by his high school peers he attributes Rimbaud's influence for making him feel more at ease with himself. Discovering Rimbaud changed his life forever and he says "Bob Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde' was inspired by Rimbaud and Baudelaire who were, metaphorically, one person strapped on to Dylan's electric guitar." Michael preferred to listen to poetry rather than read it.
Michael Pollock was born in California on an Air Force base and was influenced musically by his Father's side of the family. They were from Kentucky. Michael heard a lot of hillbilly music, what he calls "the white man's blues," before he heard Elvis. He says "seeing Elvis perform, for the first time, was comparable to having a religious experience" and that impact moved him into the direction of music.
After seeing the film A Hard Day's Night "at least 24 times" John Lennon became Michael's next big influence. Captivated by Lennon's intelligence and cynicism he picked up the guitar and taught himself to play. He says "music and poetry saved my life" and that "I learned lessons the hard way. By going over my limits I learned my limits."
The next turning point was in 1989 when Michael went to study at The Jack Kerouac
School of Disembodied Poetics at The Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He studied with Alice Notley, Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. It was at Naropa that Michael had a sense that the torch was being passed to him. And that it was his obligation to light other torches as well. He believes "artists should inspire each other, and others, to create." He was inspired by Burroughs who commented to him "no such thing as a genius, but some people open themselves up to genius."
In 1998 Michael met Ron Whitehead at The Allen Ginsberg Central Park New York City Tribute. Like two long lost brothers finding each other, even sharing the same birthday, they became steadfast friends. They've been working together ever since. They recently collaborated on their first CD, From Iceland to Kentucky and Beyond." Whitehead says "Icelandic poet and musician Michael Pollock's electric words and songs leap off the stage of the page and kick start the heart of the listener. He is passionate compassionate punk saint of the global literary renaissance."
Michael Dean played with and recorded with Utangardsmenn, Outsiders, for 18 months but soon decided he was not interested in the Rock n Roll business. This in spite of the fact that Utangardsmenn, Outsiders, were recently named "Best Icelandic Rock Band of The 20th Century." Michael chose the bands name from British writer Colin Wilson's book The Outsiders.
But he had enough. He continues to write and play music on his own, with The Pollock Brothers, MEGAS, and to preserve the oral traditions of Kentucky and Iceland. He sees himself as a creative warrior and has a benevolent need to infiltrate the soulless airwaves with soul. He ends our interview by saying "everything is a gift, one breath, one step at a time."
by Michael Dean Odinn Pollock
Out on the desert
I been here for days
I've lost my compass
I'm in a daze
I feel like I'm in
the twilight Zone
can't even remember
if i have a Home
Have I lost my senses.......out Here?
Can I trust my senses.......out Here?
Only the strong survive
when the river runs dry
I dig in the sand
bone in hand
I see an ocean
on the Horizon
Is it me
or just a mirage?
Have i lost my senses.......out Here?
Can i trust my senses.......out Here?
III. Louisville: The Amram Whitehead Apocalypse JAM produced by Ron Whitehead
Two weeks after L.I.P.S., The London International Poetry & Song Festival, I found myself flying to The Ville, Louisville, Kentucky that is, for The Amram Whitehead Apocalypse Music & Spoken Word JAM. As I taxied from the airport to downtown Louisville I noticed a highway sign, Nashville 173 Miles. It amused the hell out of me! Wow! After all these years of crisscrossing between New York City, Los Angeles, and London I have finally decided to discover America!
The Rudyard Kipling is a huge bar restaurant performance venue. It is divided into two spaces, one for drinking, and dining by the bar, and the other for Live performances. I knew I wasn't in New York City any more when I stalked the waiter insisting that we had to order food right away because Michael Pollock needed to eat before he went on stage. The waiter didn't flinch or cop an attitude but very kindly, and immediately, came to our table, took our order, and gave us the best service possible. This act of kindness by a waitperson is practically unheard of in New York City.
At The Rud the traveling circus of minstrels, troubadours, and bards who had performed in London, England began strolling in, along with other homegrown talent, ready for the evening's event. Seeing familiar faces from the London Festival I sensed we were in store for another Kollective Kosmic Orgasmic Experience! As The Tribe assembled the excitement and anticipation was building and there was again that crackling magick in the air. The creative warriors were ready to blow our minds and hearts and maybe, like they did at The Ocean in London, blow the roof off the place. We were ready to be lifted to a joyful, jazzy, jamathon journey to paradise!
As Charlie Newman swaggered by my table he announced "I need to scream, a big scream, got to get it all out!" I understood his yearning, if only I could let out a dialy big scream my mind would be a lot clearer and stronger.
Charlie Newman read some of his poems from the millennium rags, one of his two new Wasteland Press books, "25.01.00 Another America," "17.04.00 - To Say," "24.06.00 - You Wanna," and "Scraping Up The Dregs," a cut from his highly acclaimed jones CD. Ron Whitehead says about jones "astonishingly beautiful, taking the bardic path into deepest darkness, all of which is beautiful, somehow managing to go all the way through hell and come out the other side."
When I spoke with Charlie recently he said "London and L.I.P.S. and The Apocalypse JAM here in The Ville stoked me like crazy! So much energy, so much great stuff!"
Susi Wood, folk singer songwriter with a powerful, big, pure, deep mountain voice, mesmerizes everyone with her wide open heart. Susi grew up in Kentucky but she has performed all over the world. I can't remember the last time I heard a white woman sing that good. She could turn an Appalachian song into a folk protest song. She is The Real Thing! I got a taste of an authentic American Spirit and I was moved immeasurably. At The Rud she performed "Ring Them Bells," written by Bob Dylan, "Misty Mountain," written by Ferron, and "In The Garden," that Susi co-wrote with her husband, world-class poet and songwriter w. loran smith.
I met up with Susi at the end of her performance and as we chatted I knew this was a strong, down to earth, big-hearted, big-talented woman who I would want to know forever. She told me a wonderful story of her trip to Europe ten years ago. She decided to go to Ireland for a weekend to explore her roots and ended up staying for over six months. While in Killarney, down to her last few dollars, she picked a spot on the street to perform and over the next two days raked in over a thousand dollars which literally ripped open her pocketbook. She then trotted off to an annual Music Festival where she earned Top Prize making several thousand dollars. She stayed for yet another six months finally returning home debt free. As Susi and I said goodbye she gave me a copy of her cassette, Only Our Shadows, and said "next time you're in Louisville come stay with us. Don't go stayin in any hotel." You can count on it Sister!
What a knockout performance duo, Susi Wood and her husband w. loran smith. w. loran was up next. Ron Whitehead says "w. 'Bill' loran smith is one of a small handful of the best new poets in the world." His poems, and his performance, with Danny O'Bryan accompanying him on saxophone, totally captivated the audience. When w. loran is done, just as when Susi completed her set, the place goes wild!
Ron tells me that Bob Holman has invited the Iceland and Kentucky crews to his new Bowery Poetry Club for gigs March 21-24. I hope to see and hear Susi Wood and w. loran smith there with the rest of these bardic angels.
Dean McClain reads "Splitsville," a brilliant poem about the Kentucky Beat backroads. Anthony Irwin, recovering his life from desolation, shares his soul in an impassioned poetry performance. Dan Barth, a Ukiah Californian with Kentucky roots, lays some zen baseball beat poems down. Then Shakespeare's Monkey, an Evansville, Indiana duo, reminded me of ancient bards traveling through my ancestral homeland, Greece. They enchanted us!
Moving performances by all three poets and Shakespeare's Monkey maintained the high energy spiritually charged mood established from the start of the event.
Next up, sweet, cynical, funny, kind-hearted, and Siddha Yoga devotee poet Paul McDonald Wows us with his acerbic wit. He reads from his book Like Neon: poems and belief systems, newly released from Wasteland Press. An obvious 12-stepper, like myself, he read "Recovery Blues," a brilliantly humorous poem about the trials and tribulations of being in a 12-Step program, a long overdue and insightful critique that most wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole because of its sacred cow status. He then read another one of my favorite poems:
An Open Letter to The Cult of Narcissism
I just wanted to let you know you're famous
So give it a rest, okay?
I turn on my TV
I see you
I turn on my radio
I hear you
I go to the drugstore
You leer at me
From the magazine rack
Any second now my phone will ring
And some guy will try to sell me
The New Madonna Virtual Reality Helmet
And Combination Taco Salad
Tell me, Madonna,
Is it something I said?
Is that why you won't leave me alone?
If I could breathe for just a few moments
Without being reminded that you exist
If I could go through life
Without feeling pressured
To spend fifty dollars
For your goddamn book
Madonna's Pubic Hair!
Madonna's Hankie filled
With Madonna's Snot!
Thank you so much for telling David Letterman
You like to pee in the shower
Now you and I
Have an emotional connection
I give you back your narcissism
I give you back your sleazy insecurity
You'll get another fifteen minutes
Just stop demanding that I fill
That bottomless, expansive abyss
It's more than anyone can handle
Michael Pollock made a special trip over from Reykjavik, Iceland for this event and for a performance at Ohio County High School in Beaver Dam, Kentucky with Ron Whitehead and Scaramongo and Marisa Barnes. Ohio County is the high school Ron graduated from. Ron has written about the people and the place in his novel Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon. Volume 2 will be released March, 2002 from Wasteland Press. Michael is also here to celebrate, with Ron and others, the release of the amazing new CD From Iceland to Kentucky and Beyond at a Hawley-Cooke Booksellers signing and performance which took place just before The Rudyard Kipling JAM. The CD has been nominated for an Iceland Grammy Award. Those awards will be presented in February.
Michael Pollock, accompanied by his guitar, read "Do Re Mi," a tribute to the memory and spirit of Woody Guthrie. The poem is included in No Shortcut to Paradise, Michael's new Wasteland Press book. He then moves on with "You Gotta Move," a blues number by Mississippi Fred McDowal, that got the audience foot stompin, clappin, and singin along. Then Michael invited poets and musicians to join him. Nanine Henderson on standup bass, Marisa Barnes on violin, Dave Humphrey on fiddle, the band Scaramongo, Beat Daddy David Amram on various flutes, and Ron Whitehead on backup vocals all together now created a brand new, electrifying version of Michael's classic song "Desert." The place went wild!
All evening, from 10pm to 3am, The Rudyard Kipling was wall to wall with people standing, sitting in chairs and on the floor, out the doors, onto the street. And that includes the bar, the restaurant, the performance hall. The energy between the performers and the audience flowed hot, each giving back to the other til it reached and maintained an apexed flow.
The evening continued with The Master of Improv David Amram doing a fantastic spontaneous scat rap pulling the entire room into it filling the stage with over twenty musicians including Quentin Sharpenstein on tuba, Gary Falk & Danny O'Bryan on saxophones and all the others already mentioned plus others whose names I failed to get. David Amram and Dave Humphrey did a breathtaking flute and fiddle Irish Bluegrass session. While performing David Amram explores the long history of jazz, world music, and new music while using his viscerally compelling performance to draw us into a direct experience of the Beauty and Power of Music and Poetry collectively bringing us together.
After being led into heaven we ended the evening by hearing Jim James and My Morning Jacket. Ron Whitehead says that "Sigur Ros and My Morning Jacket are the two most exciting new bands performing anywhere in the world today!"
In those long southern drawls that descended from the crispness of the King's English I liked what I heard but more importantly the foreign sounds tantalized my senses. Being accustomed to the harsh New York City tongue, which I too am guilty of, it was such a refreshing change to be in Louisville to share the generous energies of the spiritually gifted and energy filled performers, and with everyone else I met as well. It dawned on me that The Beat Movement was indeed alive and well, fortunately moving into a more positive direction while maintaining its edge. I moved away from the New York City Beat crowd over ten years ago because I got tired of the wretched excess and I also wanted to explore middle eastern dance and the Arabic arts.
It was poet writer George Wallace and David Amram who drew me back into the circle. David inspired me, made me realize that if I focus hard enough my creative ambitions will be realized. David inspired me to think positive, count my blessings, and to look at the glass half full, instead of half empty. I will always be grateful to him for that. Although I had read work by and about Ron Whitehead I met him for the first time in London. He too has had a tremendous impact on my life. The Kentucky influence on The Beat Movement, spearheaded by Ron Whitehead, has brought in much needed elements: Heart, Spirit, and Guts! I wish them, and all of us, long, long, loving lives. And remember, "Never Give Up!"
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