Lizzie Violet’s June Noir officially kicked off summer with a night of sizzling poets, musicians, & burlesque to a packed and eager audience. First feature Ellie Anderson stepped out from behind her guitar with a warm set of poems. She openly shares her struggles with fame, body image & sexuality without letting politics or anger get in the way. At times playful: ‘I would find June in the middle of winter’ – at times ironic ‘I would sell my integrity at half price to those who can raise me to the right hight’ – at times heartbreaking ‘on the day I met you it snowed – I didn’t know till then how could love could be.’
Next up was Blue Venus – traffic delays didn’t faze them. Andrea, with guitarist Jessica Stuart, did a fine summery set of original work. Their sound is refreshing without losing emotional impact. A jazzy bounce supports each piece. Andrea’s warm vocal and fine violin playing give Venus a distinct sound. Jessica adds a frisky guitar style that would fit into Paris jazz spots in the 30’s.
Final, official features, Frenchie Fatale did a simmering turn to When You Got It, Flaunt It. She’s got it and knows how to flaunt it in fine burlesque style – ending with a some traditional tassel twirling – like all good burlesque she left us wanting more.
After the features we were treated to an extended open stage hosted by Blanche (David Bateman) to celebrate Kate’s (morecowbell) birthday. I did a couple of pieces but sadly had to leave by 10:30 so I missed the final performers.
Rumor has it that Nik Beat is a vampire. Easy to believe, as in the decade or so that I’ve know him he hasn’t aged visibly, and he talks about Poe as if he had just left Edgar having a few at Grossman’s. He turned the reins over to guest host, Jennifer Hosein, who did a great job with the April live HOWL show. Her job made easier by a dynamic line-up.
First feature Stedmond Pardy performed pieces from his chapbook ‘Drugs’ (I bought a copy, first time I’ve bought Drugs outside of a pharmacy in decades). His pieces are long cascades of pop, religious, and class images that convey the harried lives we live in with tenderness and frustration. ‘there is no chosen race in nature’ ‘the air reeked of a dolphin stampede.’ Moving and literate work that held us wanting more.
Next up was Nik Beat himself. He read pieces from ‘Amazing Secret Dreams.’ These are emotional, well-crafted crafty pieces that take you where you least expect with sonic puns and association: The World Is A Page starts ‘we are the pliers that twist and shape it.’ In Hurt Co-Pain he tells us ‘I mistook this mirror for me/ I mistook that girl for love.’ Strong stuff.
After the break was Laura L’Rock. I co-featured with Laura L’Rock last October and was eager to hear her again. With Nik on guitar she did a set that was barely contained by the Q Space stage, some of the songs are arena rockers scaled down to intimate size. She has a strong, direct voice that is emotionally sincere without resorting to big moment notes. Her lyrics are sharp, sweet and true ‘why lie when the truth is so much easier,’ ‘attract what you wanna be, not what you are.’
Final feature was the equally ageless Norman Allan, who put his sketch pad down long enough to treat us to his thoughtful writing. ‘Just because you think it so/ don’t make it true.’ He ended his set with Nik once again on guitar ‘you don’t bow down to love/ you just open your heart.’ Norman organizes the Renaissance Revival poetry workshop at Q Space on the 2nd Monday of the month.
Got out to Nik Beat’s Howl at Q Space for great night of diverse, compelling readers & musicians & sketch artists. Not that Nik’s show is at all sketchy but there were at least four artists in the crowd wielding pencils & sketch pads. First feature was Gabrielle Bowen. She read a relaxing series of poems that were about the power of self-healing, tapping into one’s inner light to become ‘energetically adorned’ and ‘no longer holographically blind.’ Her confident and direct delivery left us at a point where ‘no words can be heard only knowing.’
Next up was Mindi St. Amand, whose pieces were more grounded in the world or relationships and coffee house. In a Parkdale coffee shop ‘writing stories about winning and losing/ she realized it’s all about the in between.’ Simple images pulled us into a relationship that had become ‘just an over-magazine breaking at the seams.’
She was followed by Patrick Connors with a set of pieces that were uncomplicated and direct from the heart, messages that weren’t cluttered up with over-polished images but full of raw realizations: ‘up all day climbing the corporate ladder/up all night killing the pain.’
After a brief break Joani Paige open her set of songs with ‘The Cigarette Song’ which was perfect for her warm husky alto. ‘you got too many holes in your body.’ Her bluesy folk strumming perfectly supported her great singing.
A quick round of open stagers and the show wrapped by 9.
A full, appreciative house was on hand for the launch of Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir. The show started well before the figurative curtain went up with Mullet the Zombie clown going table to table to warm up (or was that alarm) people coming to see the show.
Fate would have that I was the first performer for this first show – I started off the open stage with a couple of mythic pieces about growing in Cape Breton. a few more open stagers and then Jean-Paul Mullet did his zombie walk to the stage. Mullet is the whole package – excellent make-up right down to red contacts. More a story teller than a physical stick performer, Mullet held us spellbound with his eerie canoe tale – we could hear the ‘wings of a raven over head.’
Next up was David Bateman who captivated us with several ‘creative nonfiction short stories.’ The pieces contained vivid memories of doing hair styling in which realized he was more Sweeney Todd than Miss Clairol; of being warned not the rake the leaves too soon after a funeral lest one risks blowing their souls away with the dead. ‘Sometimes you just have to be love’ posed, amongst other things, the hope understanding by merely repeating the words.
Another break and we were wowed, (wobba wobba, ow ow wowed) by Kat Leonard. With her back up band on her iPod we didn’t have to worry about them getting drunk & falling off stage – though Kat did in fact fall off the stage as part of her song about being drunk and falling off stage. Her love songs were tender, sensuous, funny and emotionally invested. She took ‘the four corners of the world and wrapped it around our hearts like a blanket’ and we liked it.
A good time was had by all. Check out Lizzie’s photos and more pics on More Cowbell. Before the show I got to enjoy a cup of Q Space tea and excellent carrot cake. An expanded menu is being worked on – I can’t wait to give it a taste test. Q has quickly become an excellent spoken-word hot-spot. Good sound system, good sight lines, lots of windows make a great venue.
The weather relented enough for me to get out to Nik Beat’s Howl show at Q Space Sunday night. I’ve been looking forward to to checking this new space out since it opened last year. A great space for spoken-word & unplugged music. A simple kitchen set up offers various teas, coffee, juices, assorted alcohol libations; snacks – salads, sandwiches, desserts. Lots of outlets to plug in a laptop. Comfortable seating and an excellent sound system.
Nik hosted a typically eclectic line-up that opened with Tim Masterson – who read a chapter for him novel ‘Far From Kind and Pretty,’ as well as an ‘essay’ – both were filled with allusions to 70’s/80’s TV shows, pop music, clowns, bunnies as his character dealt with mother issues; ‘none of the pens work in Mom’s House.’ He was followed by Lizzie Violet, whose mother feared Lizzie would grow up to be a serial killer. Now that’s a mother issue 🙂 Lizzie’s pieces ranged from relationship foibles ‘I speak the truth/you whisper innuendos‘ – to chilling zombie narratives. She also took some great show pics.
After a short break we were treated with musical feature Suitcase Sam. I was popped into a time machine and transported back to San Francisco 1969 by this modern Leon Redbone channeler. Sam did a fine set of covers: Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wild Horses and some sweet original pieces. A great guitarist and solid singer who did songs by Fred Neil, Bruce Springsteen and beyond.
Final feature David Clink read comic pieces from his recent book ‘Crouching Yak, Hidden Emu’ (or is it the other way round?). I love Toxic Girl with her pretty ‘button down cholera.’ After David there were a few open stagers, including myself, and the show wrapped. A good time was had by all.