Crisis of Faith @ Hirut

Summer Sizzle at Hirut was a jammed packed house & a jam packed show. The sizzle was spiced up by a large group of Ethiopians celebrating the call to the bar of a member of their community. Some congratulatory speeches were made that stressed their gratitude for Canada coming from a country were ‘after they throw stones at the police we had to be come immigrants – the dictators are still in power & are here.’

With Canada Day coming up out was powerful reminder what our country offers. Also in the midst of Pride it is clear how community creates safety.  We all appreciated how Hirut proved a safe, welcoming space for all on the cold rainy night. Co-hosts Arlene Peculan & Lizzie Violet kept the show rolling & our minds off the rain.


discards of eden?

I hit the stage first with a version of my Brown Betty set of east coast recollections. I had pulled the set together that afternoon, put the pieces in a flow & didn’t look at it until I open my Kindle to perform it. It worked well. The two new pieces flowed nicely – taking listeners to where they didn’t expect. I sold a raft of chap books too, which is always good.


pic by Lizzie Violet

After me was Neil Traynor with a great set of originals & a couple of covers. ‘you deserve all the rain that falls on you’ ‘if I could do it all over again I would change everything’ ‘take time to notice what your worth’. He has a sweet slightly reedy voice but I longed to hear him drop a tone for more than a line or two as his voice is equally as appealing in its lower register. He is a one man Lovin’ Spoonful for the 2015s.


fallen from grace

Next up was Vanessa Smythe ( with a set of storytelling – she is an invested vulnerable perform with pieces bout love, loss, siblings the were perfected tuned, time that drew us into moments of tenderness & emotional reality. Her Gallipoli piece was unexpectedly compelling. ‘nothing here looks the sky in the eye’ ‘I tried to push my ear into the chest of the ground.’ She is the mistress of the awkward, slightly embarrassed pause.



After a brief break Alissa Vox Raw ( closed the night with smooth emotive evocative set of one-man choral work – songs that built on the interplay of her self-recorded voice 7 guitar as it was lets on top of what she had just sang. Sublime do whop, some revival, some torch & all fun. She has elements of Laurie Anderson, Diamanda Galás & even Cathy Berberian in her manipulation of voice & music. I loved it.


one of the new (unfinished) pieces I read:

Within Belief

I wasn’t that naive a child

I didn’t believe in Santa Clause

or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy

my parents encouraged those fantasies

but didn’t do anything

to prevent my rational child mind

from finding out those truths

to see through those fictions

made me feel older

but didn’t keep me for my first

real crisis of faith


that came when I was around twelve

when I discovered that the actor

playing Tarzan

didn’t live in the jungle

maybe that was because

I wanted to live in the jungle

surrounded by this half-naked natives


I knew Tarzan wasn’t real person

that he was portrayed by an actor

my imagination hadn’t taken

the next rational step

I was also sure

that people really lived in the Brady bunch house

that the cast of the Partridge family

drove that bus around in their private lives


I was learning the difference

between fact and fiction

to be frank

I was disappointed

it was hard enough to accept what

I heard in church

that some power in the sky

would punish me

or disobeying my parents

but what as the difference between

sitting in a movie theatre

and sitting in church

to learn life lessons

if the movies lessons weren’t real

what was the truth

what did God do

when we weren’t sitting in that church

why were these songs so sad

not that I went to church a lot as a child

I went to the movies more often

the seats were more comfortable

the music was always better


but the lessons where just as distorting

indians wore war bonnets all the time

they killed without provocation

white people were innocent

blacks were usually half naked

would run at the first sign of trouble on safari

women were to be rescued

or were great singers

men beat each other up

kissed the women


movies were are as factual

as what I heard in church

fictions that filled my young head

with weird fears and notions

of what it meant to be a man

to be good

to be acceptable

the Bible seemed to be a sort of Aladdin’s lamp

if you rubbed God the right way

He would shoot off blessings for you


but if you rubbed yourself the wrong way

at the movies to shoot off

you’d go to Hell

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


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