Monday, February 07, 2011

Hilarity at Rrrants

February may be dull and miserable, but for a few hours in litter-strewn Camden it was positively, well, Christmassy, if I may use that word to describe glowing bonhomie and warmth of spirit.
Donna, Ian and Paul of the Rrrants Collective have started streaming stuff for an internet radio station (I can't remember the URL but will post it later) and we had a debatelet (it was quite short but to the point) about censorship.
I talked about Thrush, as I have been trying to decide whether to put it on the CD or not but I have decided I will, and that's that. It's a proper angry song, written after a build-up of steam about the likes of Led Zeppelin and their squeeze-my-lemon song and general Rolling Stone-ness in the late 1970s, and was triggered by a bed-roaming boyfriend at the time.
The evening kicked off very soon afterwards with a conveyor belt of very funny and skilful poets, hosted with energy by Paul and Ian from the stage and facilitated with good humour and occasional apt heckling by Donna from the back of the room.

I had to email this morning to find out the names of the people I liked best- it was a busy night and I can't remember what order they came in but here are my faves, who really are very very good (the standard was very high and this is just a pick in no particular order of the best, who you must see if you can):

Vikki Laxton-Bass, their roadie and a novice poet: lovely refreshing honesty and the earnestness of the pain of being young and in unrequited love.
The Bard of Northampton (Joe Bunn): this guy was so funny I nearly got a hernia. His best thing was the gangsta rap contest between himself and himself (pre-recorded), both of whom human-beatboxed for the other and ended up talking about their nan. It was really, really clever and he's an absolute master of self-deprecation. I think he drew a perfect line under certain types of rap and I want him to become hugely famous so all those nasty misogynistic types shut up forever. Actually, I really do want him to become famous; he blended what could have been a gimmick with some serious wordsmanship and he meets the definition of a Proper Artist by doing so.
Trio: a well-spoken poet from Yorkshire who did a very funny skit on the elders of Whitby being afraid of the yearly Goth weekend and eventually joining them, and another about Indie Kids and their actual total lack of Indieness. Great stories!
Mark Thompson (Mr T): oddly, a South Londoner in an Arsenal shirt (whatever happened to Millwall?) who condensed the Sarf London experience into a nutshell from both a funny and a serious perspective, direct from his iPhone. I particularly enjoyed his anti-racist poem, because we need people to say these things loud and clear to stop the clock from turning backwards and taking us into miserable times of hatred again. Hear that, Cameron?
Sir Lobby Ludd: a perfectly chaotic performance on uke and kazoo, which was clamped into a pink plastic hand screwed on to the mikestand. You couldn't hear a word he said, which added to it, really. Apart from, midway through a panic-stricken story (where was he? Africa?) he called on the Embassy and called on the Consulate, only to remember they were only cigarette brands. Oh that made me laff!
Kev (the Bourgeois Buddha): Kev is a sort of hippyish singer and guitarist who sang a very sweet couple of songs about gravity, apples and thumb wars. His message is of peace, both serious and funny at the same time, and he's a very good guitarist. He had with him a selection of vegetables, as he'd just come from a project run at Passing Clouds in Dalston that collects food that supermarkets throw out, and feeds 100 homeless people every Sunday night. I like that idea, and I'm going to go one week and see what it's all about.

There were more, more, more, and of course I played too: the marvellous Rrrants band had learned three of my songs (All Systems Go!, Waltzing Away from Winter and Sing a Song of Barcelona) on double bass, washboard, vocals (mostly those actually) and trumpet. I can say with my hand on my heart that they were better rehearsed than me! It's such fun to do this! They are so brilliant!
And before that I did another three new songs on my own, including I Love You Still Stuart Morgan, the chorus of which they sang from the back of the room in 5.1 Surround Sound Congregation style. No rehearsal, and it worked!*

Well, that's it: an infinitely better experience than sitting at home and watching TV, (even though Wallander was on).
The night was energetic, affectionate, invigorating,  and fed the heart and soul with everything they needed on a dismal and windy night with the rozzers whisking past below the windows, blaring their sirens in a failed attempt to draw attention to themselves!

*One day I'm going to go and sing it outside his house, 33 Crampton Street, which ought to have a blue plaque because he was a very kind-hearted man who believed in lots of people's art and music when nobody else did. 
Offsprog One was six months old when she met him, and was absolutely delighted to meet an adult who, like her, had no hair at all on his head. He was delighted too: who wouldn't be flattered by the joy of a fat round baby recognising a kindred spirit and cooing in delight?


Wilky of St Albans said...

Right decision about 'Thrush'. There aren't enough songs about ornithology at the best of times.

Hoping 'I'll go too' and 'Locked out' will also make it.

Now - heres a teaser for you. The recent goings on in Egypt had me singing 'I want to go where they've never seen snow/send my giro to Cairo' which is a line from a song that was on one of the Vaultage compilations. To save me dragging my vinyl out of my mother's loft, can anyone based in Brighton around 1979 possibly recall who it was by? There might even be a prize,,,

Sir said...

The Golinskis

Wilky of St Albans said...

Sir. I thank you for that.

Your prize is my eternal gratitude, and beer should our paths ever cross.....

Helen McCookerybook said...

Rats! I could have told you that, and won your eternal gratitude.
I don't drink, but I would have given your beer to the poor!

Mark said...

I actually did support Millwall earlier in my life but decided at some point that I had completed my community service and could now actually follow my passion before poetry... football :o)

Really enjoyed your set as well (I was the noisy one singing what was occasionally a passable baritone harmony!).


Wilky of St Albans said...

Helen, you already have my eternal gratitude for filling my head with such wonderful songs all those years ago. I mean, I could have been listenibg to A Flock of Seagulls........