I swear this is the last article I write about poetry for the next few months. Ive been beating that drum for a while, and it seems a little shameless to promote shows that Im performing in. I promise you, the Rockford reader, that its really worth it this time.
Friday, Jan. 28 brings Poetic Justice League 4 America to the Minglewood stage, opening for Madison rock-poetry fusion group Stone Float. PJL4A has undergone some drastic changes in the last few months, including adding new members Bear Wolf from DeKalb, local resident Elias Soria, and myself, besides original members Cullen Balch (Mutinous Mutt), Debra Jo Howard (DJazz, the Poetress) and Christopher Sims (Universoul).
Usually, most PJL4A performances occur in the midst of open mics or slams, but this time around it will be a full set of uninterrupted performance poetry by the group. Theyve worked out a new set of team pieces, as well as a few duet works. Unfortunately, Sims will be out of town for the show, and will be sorely missed by all. However, the addition of Soria and Wolf will add new dimensions to the whole performance, as will the musical backup of Rob Young (a.k.a. Robyo) on bass and drums.
Wolf and Sorias solo poems are strong, stimulating and enlightening. Wolf also adds the accompaniment of hand drums and guitar on occasion.
Soria is known for his bilingual poetry, sometimes versing in both Spanish and English in one piece. On witnessing a performance of his at Kryptonite a few months ago, a girlfriend of mine turned to me and said I dont care if I dont understand what hes saying, it sounds awesome!
Wolf is becoming well known in the Rockford area, stretching beyond his roots in DeKalb. He is an internationally recognized slam poet who has traveled all over the U.S. and Canada to perform, and recently won third prize at the 2nd Northern Illinois Poetry Slam at the Irish Rose in December.
For more info about PJL4A, check out Antar Bakers interview in next issues Minority Journal, or visit www.poeticjustuceleague.com.
Stonefloat from Madison is a rock group that utilizes poetry instead of lyrical song to express opinions, ideas, etc. Theyve pegged themselves the inventors of Rock and Fire Flowpoetry, and strongly emphasize that they are not f@!*%ing around. Theyre sort of like The Bizarro Beat Circus that used to run every Wednesday at Kryptonite, only with one poet as opposed to the slew of rappers and spoken words artists that took the stage with musicians Steve Rugburns Kelly, Sleepy Pete Sandona, Hosie Baskins, and all the other beat freaks who sat in last year.
The band flows from reggae to loud, raucous rock to bluegrass with complimentary verse, making a more digestible way to consume poetry. Poet Adam Gregory Pergament leads the group, with Tate McLane on rhythm guitar, Bear LaValley on bass guitar, KC McCrum on lead guitar and Dave Brehmer on drums. All band members join in on backup vocals. Theyve got that nice down-to-earth college town image, and incidentally, Pergament hosts poetry open mics at my favorite coffee house in Madison, the Steep and Brew.
It will be an interesting evening, to say the least. PJL4A is developing increased recognition in the area for bringing poetry back to the people, as opposed to leaving it in textbooks and libraries. Both groups mix contemporary sounds of popular music and beats with the sophistication of verbal manipulation and the intellectual spoken word; this show is not to be missed. For more information, visit www.stonefloatrecords.com, www.poeticjusticeleague.com, or call Minglewood at 961-1795.