‘Oh what a night…’ The February JUKE certainly pulled out all the stops; with nearly 30 open micers showcasing a lovely mixing pot of work and a palpable buzz that bled into the room at the back of the Owain Glyndwr, it didn’t disappoint.
The theme was ‘covers’ which is about writers coming together to perform and reinterpret other writers’ work. This idea has been floating around since before the first JUKE was even put on but the time never felt right, until now. We’ve had a whole myriad of themes like ‘Superheroes and Villains’, ‘Lost and Found’, ‘Vulnerability’, ‘War’, ‘The Other’ and even the enigmatic ‘Green’, all of these allowed writers to respond in their own words but ‘covers’ asked people to put down their pens/quills/ keyboards and take up their reading eyes to bring to life their favourite pieces.
And they did just that…
To start off the night I read out an extract from ‘Brave New World’. In these ‘interesting’ times it seemed fitting to go for a piece that paints a bleak picture for the future of the human race, a reality that grows ever more tangible day by day with a certain head of state throwing his badly tanned load around.
The first open micer was Sara Annwyl who read some writing of her father’s. It was a tale about him having a picnic with his writing teacher in Aberystwyth and she gave a powerful performance.
Phil Knight was a blast of energy doing a rendition of ‘Death Shall Have No Dominion’, the first Dylan Thomas piece and certainly not the last, prompting huge applause from the audience. He also put a bit of Shakespeare into predictive text with hilarious results!
Liz Farrell choose to do the ‘I hate that way you…’ poem from the film ’10 Things I Hate About You’, granted without the tears and storming out at the end, as well as an Australian poem from Henry Lawson ‘After All’.
Already at this point there is a great variety of work!
Steven Fontaine captured that rather soothing American drawl of William Burroughs while reading ‘From Here to Eternity’. He also did the first song of the evening, singing the poem Ragland Road but Patrick Kavanagh.
Next up was Floki Moriarty who did two Yeats poems ‘The Ballad of Moll Macgee’ and ‘To the Rose upon the Rood of Time’, very fitting in his Irish accent, and a children’s story called ‘Rosie Rosie’.
Tom Kirby did diary extracts from ‘two of the sweetest peas in the pod’.
Gareth Writer-Davies, one of the most suitable names ever known I’m sure, rewrote some pieces into his own words, ‘Talking in Bed’ by Philip Larkin and welsh folk tale Blodeuwedd, ‘how can a woman give herself to a two-up two-down?’
Three performers came up and did a collaboration, Rachel England, Alex Butterworth and Mat Troy, making ‘The World is a Beautiful Place’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti a rather disturbing experience as Rachel and Mat used it to taunt Alex.
Bryan Marshall did a much unexpected performance juxtaposing ‘One Man, One Woman’ by ABBA and a Dadaist poem ‘Karawane’ by Hugo Ball and it worked brilliantly! It was wonderfully experimental and a triumph.
The first half ended with some music by Fritz O’Skennick who did a cover of Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’. Also playing on his guitar and singing ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes which the whole room happily sang along to.
After the break as there was still a lot of open micers, and I mean a lot, everyone was only allowed to do one piece. Therefore I decided to make the second half into a poem to get across the rather rhythmic way it unfolded…
Will Ford sang a Depeche Mode song ‘A Question of Lust’, creating his own unique tune.
Mat Troy punched out a John Cooper Clarke, ‘Kung Fu International’, a poem about getting ‘Kung Fu’d.’
Rachel Carney took to the mic reading a piece by Robert Frost, ‘The Road Not Taken’.
Emma Varney inspired by ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’ performed her own reinterpretation.
Leon Lazarus did an original piece called ‘Baal’ to ‘Baal’s Song’ from Schlondorf’s film called ‘Baal’.
Ellie Powell’s strong recital of Carroll’s nonsense poem ‘The Jabberwocky’ delighted us all.
Lloyd Houston gave us some of his dad’s work; ‘he was a landscape painter of the written kind’.
Gemma June Howell performed her black out poem, using an article from the Economist, with a hip-hop feel and political mind…
“Wrong turn. The loss of equality. Wrong turn. A fight of the classes. Wrong turn. The Orwellian Plight. Wrong turn. Divide and rule.”
While Adam Johannes read a John Donne poem starting with the lines ‘Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root…’
Indigo Rumbelow turned music into poetry with Patti Smith’s song ‘Dancing Barefoot’.
Johnny Giles brought some absurd hilarity with an extract from Edwin Morgan’s ‘The First Men on Mercury’
And the Pavement Poet, usually found chalking lines on the streets, performed writing about politics and diversity.
Another part of a novel, Ben Meadon went all dark and historical with Boudica by Manda Scott.
Then Mark Curtis got up and did Charles Bukowski’s ‘Don’t come round but if you do’ and you might be thinking by now after all this writing that we’d be starting to lose the plot!
(But we didn’t, we were loving it)
Penultimate open micer Ceri Sean stripped back Bob Dylan’s song ‘It’s alright Ma’, throwing away the guitar.
And last but not least Alex Proctor performed a piece ‘The Unfortunate Rake’, a lament for a young man dying of syphilis… ‘Saying: There goes an unfortunate lad to his home’.
As you can see it was a jam packed night with all the bells and whistles. What a celebration of writing! The ‘covers’ theme may feature again or will perhaps become an annual occurrence as it was such a success.
The next JUKE is on 20th March, 7pm at the Owain Glyndwr with Bryan Marshall as the feature who chose the theme ‘Whispers’. Excited to see what is to come….