Tag Archives: reviews

Overload Poetry Festival in Review

Well the ALS 2009 Tour rolls on, and the 4th leg of the tour took me too the cooler climes of Melbourne town. The big difference on this leg of the tour was that guitar-slinging Rock Pig, Sheish Money was along for the ride. Now Sheish and I have played lots of local gigs, but outside of QLD and Northern NSW, the other states have so far missed out on the Nunn/Money experience. So I have to say… we were fairly excited!

Friday kicked off with the launch of Overload 2009 at the Fitzroy Town Hall, MC’d by poetic raconteur, Myron Lysenko. A truly beautiful venue and great space to mingle with the Melbourne poetry crowd. I was really impressed by the passion of the Mayor who delivered the best speech I have ever heard from a politician at such an event. You really got the sense that she was right behind the festival. After the speeches, The Heart Chamber featuring Matt Hetherington, Tom Joyce, Lia Hills, Marian Spires & Michelle Leber performed a set of love poems. Matt Hetherington’s poem , When I Am Not With Her There Where She Is, the absolute stand out and one of the best contemporary love poems I have read in the last decade.

So with the room feeling the love, Santo Cazzati hit the mic dressed in checked suit and matching hat with all the energy of a box of snakes, promising us to keep us safe from the Fitzroy Ghouls as he lead the poetry crawl, Takin’ it to the Streets. And we were off…

First Stop Dantes.

Sheish Money & Graham Nunn Blue Velvet2_gimpKicking  things off was Gabrielle Everall (WA), who I had seen perform last weekend in Perth. Gabrielle delivers her words in a darkly musical voice. Her poems brimming with equal parts beauty and menace. Her set was followed by fellow West Australian, Vivienne Glance and the man who is on a quest to become Australia’s first poet laureate, Ben Pobje. So with the first leg of the crawl setting the bar high, the crowd was whitled into action, and set off to Southpaw in pursuit of Santo Cazzati and the offerings of poems by Anthony O’Sullivan, Jenny Toune, Kimberley Mann & Sam Byfield. Sadly, Sheish and I had to miss Stop Two to rush back to The Nunnery, get our gear and head off to Blue Velvet to sound check for the the third and final stop for the night.

Third Stop Blue Velvet.

Sheish Money & Graham Nunn Blue Velvet1_gimp

With the sound check done and the crowd squeezing in to the lounge-room sized back room, we hit the stage to open proceedings. No intros, no talking, just the sparkle of Sheish’s big red Kasuga brightening my poems. This was the teaser for Saturday night’s set, so we played only three poems Nomads, Ocean Hearted & Seeing a girl off in a summer storm. The room feel into that deep silence, and for those few minutes, the world seemed to close its eyes. We looked at each and smiled, eager to play an extended set tomorrow night. We were then followed by the be-helmeted Alex Scott and Bribane’s surrealist wildcard, Ghostboy. A Ghostboy set is something to behold. The crowd is just as much a part of the show as the man/ghoul/poet himself. Tonight Ghostboy tied one woman to a chair and incited another pair of ladies to passionately kiss on the carpet. He was on, the crowd lapped it up and he lapped the cheeks of several men in the audience.

We had taken to the streets and the streets had embraced us.

Jenny Toune Bella Union_gimp

Saturday was the big one… tonight Sheish and I stretched our poetic riffs at the Bella Union Trades Hall, sharing the stage with tap-dancing poet Jenny Toune and the mighty Sean M. Whelan & the Interim Lovers. Jenny kicked things off with a show that blew away all my expectations. I have to admit, when I read tap-dancing poet, I wondered whether one of the art forms would suffer, but within minutes, she put all those concerns to rest. She had the moves and the words to make the stage light up. It was a great opening set and a real pleasure to have seen.

 

Sheish Money & Graham Nunn Bella Union1_gimp

Sheish and I were up next, and champing at the mic. From the moment we plugged in, it felt good. We opened with Gutter & Edge which is on the forthcoming CD and the sound, lights and crowd were all in sync. From there we kicked in to Save Me/Lessons, Sheish showing off his full-throated growl, with me stepping in and out to punctuate the verses. It was then in to the newer poems,  Sentinel and And What Voice Says. The dark guitar loop and lead flourishes giving And What Voice Says a whole new life. Sheish then pumped straight into the big open chords of Grounded before channeling Bootsy for a funky version of Oooo… We then reinterpreted old favourite In Devotion Sheish Money & Graham Nunn Bella Union3_gimpto Life’s Sordid Affairs and closed the set with Sheish tearing into the mic with his song Poetry and this Lost Shark, dropping in Point Danger between verses. It was a tight set, the interplay was good and we walked off stage, only to be called on for an encore. This is where the true brilliance of Sheish comes into play. I named a poem and he just knew the right chords… it was off the cuff, it was spontaneous and it was right. We walked off into bright lights of the Bella feeling good.

Sean Whelan & the Interim Lovers Bella Union_gimp

And to round off the night Sean M. Whelan & the Interim Lovers took to the stage unveiling a new set of poems, which reinterpret the Lewis Carrol classic, The Hunting of the Snark. Whelan is a gifted poet and performer. Tonight he swayed with the band’s subtle movements and writhed as they reached crescendo. The poems, never overshadowed by the band and the band… well, I was mesmerised. In fact I could have watched/listened to it all again. I look forward to seeing this project evolve.

Steve Smart Bella Union_gimp

And with MC Steve Smart, bringing the night to a close, we all stumbled off into glorious Lygon Steet for more wine, pizza and endless conversation.

During my time at Overload I also had the pleasure of seeing Eric Beach at The Dan; Santo Cazzati, Steve Smart & Carmen Main, Eddy Burger and Jo Truman & Warren Burt at Glitch Bar and launching Maurice McNamara’s debut collection, Half-Hour Country at Dantes (more about that soon).

There is something incredibly special that happens when poets come together… and this Lost Shark was once again, honoured to be a part of the poetry community. Sheish and I tip our hats to James Waller and crew for all their hard work. I hope you guys are still revelling in it.

To keep up to date with all the Overload events visit Overland and be sure to leave a comment.

NB: All photographs taken by Michael Reynolds… one of this world’s true gentlemen.

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Some images may offend, others may mend – A Night With Kev Carmody

Last night, sitting on the grass, one among the thousands who had gathered, the winter sky revealing its stars, my eyes and heart welled up. We gathered, as people have done on this land for millenia, to celebrate the power of the word. In the not too distant (and very bleak) past, this would have been considered an illegal gathering, but last night, we sat in harmony, celebrating the songs and stories of one of our finest singer/songwriter/poets, Kev Carmody.

 

Kev Carmody

 

The list of artists who took to the stage to breathe new life into these songs, was a veritable who’s who of Australian rock. There were many highlights…

Tex Perkins stripping back, the bluntly beautiful Darkside (from the album Bloodlines), performing it as a menacing spoken word piece.

Glenn Richards (Augie March), Missy Higgins & Paul Kelly’s version of Droving Woman (from the album Eulogy). With Kelly delivering lines like, some dogs grow too old for change, it seemed the song was written for him.

The visceral rock of The Drones took River of Tears (from the album Eulogy) to a whole new place; Gareth Liddiard wailing, two hundred years in the river of fear / they gunned him down. You could see on Kev’s face when he walked out on stage after it, that he was blown away by the power they mustered.

Steve Kilbey’s version of Images of London (from the album Images and Illusions) was exquisite. Kev recorded this song in Steve’s old Rozelle studio in 1995, so it was great to hear Steve put his stamp on it. Here’s a great link to Steve talking about and perfoming the song

And if there was one defining moment, it was Kev himself taking centre stage to perform Cannot Buy My Soul.

As the last notes of From Little Things, Big Things Grow drifted off into the night sky, we stood as one, brought together by stories. Stories that will remain with me for as long as I draw breath.

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Who Listens To The Radio? part 2

Here are three more albums that have got these ears excited in 2008.

Forget the radio!

No One is Holding a Gun to Your Head (Songs To Run To): Bremen Town Musician

Bremen Town Musician are a three-piece experimental folk-blues freak-out. No One is Holding a Gun to Your Head (Songs To Run To) is the second album and charts new sonic territory for the band. This album smoulders, opening with the instrumental tracks Song to Run to and Governor Wren. The introduction of vocals on Steady lifts the intensity again and segues perfectly into Sailor Song; Marissa Allen’s voice bristling above the swirl of violin, drums, guitar/bass. Each song takes on its own character – the ethereal Love; the abrasive Disco Frogs and Shooting Stars Under Midnight; the delicate You Don’t Have To. No One is Holding a Gun to Your Head is one of those rare albums that demands high rotation. Every listen takes you somewhere new, uncharted… so throw away the map; this is an album of discovery.

 

 Tell Tale Signs (The Bootleg Series vol. 8): Bob Dylan

Well, here is a man who needs no introduction and with 40+ albums already available why buy another bootleg? Well first up, there is never a definitive version of any song for Dylan. Each recording is a time capsule; the song as it was at that moment. Tell Tale Signs captures 27 songs from the period 1989 – 2005, including 5 live tracks, 6 alternate versions, 3 songs previously only available on Soundtracks, demos and other unreleased gems. Red River Shore is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful songs Dylan has ever penned. Possessed by the love that damned him, Dylan spins an old school narrative with his trademark mix of religion and existentialism. Another stand out is the song Mississippi. Three versions are included and it is here that Dylan’s ability as a singer is showcased. By exploring tone and phrasing Dylan uncovers new possibilities for this song with each take.Version #1 a soft-spoken lament, Version #2 dog-tired and raspy and Version #3 a powerful last stand. Tell Tale Signs is not a fan only affair. This is Dylan capturing moments of truth.

 
This Culture Of Background Noise: Because of Ghosts

This is the second long player from innovative Melbourne 3-piece. Recorded at the legendary Hotel2Tango, This Culture Of Background Noise, is anything but (background noise, that is). Each track (all instrumental) is a soaring mix of inticiate guitar, drums and live sampling. Each creates an atmosphere, somewhat akin to that electric feeling that prickles the skin just before a summer storm cracks open. The drums gather and build the momentum, the guitars stir and tremble. Importantly, this album has space for the mind to create its own narrative. The sound never too busy, never too dark, never too moody. Just the right amount of melancholy and raw noir introspection to hold you entranced.

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