Monday, June 13, 2011

Humpoesic Happening

Earlier in 1970 / 71 I had organised some of the band nights and co-organised the proposed 2nd Music Marathon. In 1972 I got an invitation from Julian Adams who was now a committee member, to organise some Folk Poetry sessions during the summer of 1972.

This was my first go at organising an experimental mixed media event. I'd been going to Liz Lovatt's (Heather Lovatt (Varney)) Folk and Poetry nights at the Umbrella and had just mastered enough guitar to accompany myself with poems and few songs. These were my first gigs. The Umbrella got me started on so much!
I was surprised to find the Umbrella had put my name of the posters. The Umbrella advertised it as a 'Trev Teasdel Folk Night'. This was the first time my name went out on on any posters! I had therefore to make it a bit special, a bit different!.

In the main it was a continuation Liz's folk poetry nights but I was beginning to mix things up a bit, experiment. I didn't know what I wanted but I wanted 'different' and thought it might have to be the people that came that would make it different. The main result of 'different' came in an acoustic jam session - inviting people to jam around me reading a poems and playing guitar. Then came the idea that they had to play an instrument that they were unfamiliar with (and good musicians can usually get something out of an unfamiliar instrument but they wouldn't play what they were used to playing - it would be different - stretching. It didn't matter if it didn't work - I set it with the audience that this was experimental. It kind of worked and I distributed percussive instruments to the audience and told them they had to join in. Some of the percussive instruments weren't instruments at all, well they were when we employed the objects as such! Chair backs, boxes, books -anything. It was all getting a bit incoherent and people were disappearing fast! I began to think it had all failed and that people were leaving in disgust. When it got really sparse - I went downstairs in despair only to hear a jam in the coffee bar. I figured they were setting up a rival event! Just as I entered the room, they all rushed upstairs passing  me by. Confused and curious I followed only to discover that 'Bin' - a jazz drummer who was a regular at the Umbrella .The session inspired an idea to organise the percussion in a really creative way. Instead of banging on any old way - it was all co-ordinated and inspired. The breaking of the mould had inspired them to do that. Everyone really enjoyed it and the gap between audience and artists had been transcended.

I couldn't say that it would happen everytime but it certainly was a 'Humpoesic Happening'. The term Humpoesic was invented by me for a competition in Record Mirror in 1969. The Scaffold wanted a word that  described what they did -ie Music, poetry and humour. I made the word up from those words. You could extend the word into Humpoesictry! I never sent it in but later used for this event and another I did when I moved to Teesside in 1980.

For the second one we had some singer songwriter friends. Musicians from the Birmingham Streetpress / Streetpoems tried to come through but were thwarted by transport problems. Several musicians I shared a cottage with out at  Shilton joined in - Dave Lewis, Steve Brimstone (Derek's son), and Nigel Clark of Cardinal. I'd met Nigel at the Butts tech - we were both apprentice electricians. He put music to and sang some of my earlier lyrics.

Although the Streetpress guys never made it,they did set up some Streetpress gigs in Moseley and Digbeth which I used to do open mic spots at.

Here is one of the poem I did to music - it was the counter part to one of Lyndie B's both written in Birmingham in a communal house.

Dance candle dance for me,
Let me see you pirouette
and jump high in the air.
Graceful turns and flickers
in time to the sounds of Cohen.
Burn your way into frozen hearts
and melt the hate within.
Dance candle, dance for me
before the light is gone forever.
Before we lose our sight
to live forever in the darkness
of our blackened hearts.
When at last you die exhausted.
We live on in memory of your love
and dance for you in life.
Dance Candle, dance for me
and give a little light to the world.

Lyndie B.


 Lo...the flame flees and flickers like a bee
Catapults its message - 'Mute'
Casts shadow harlequins in a scene for silhouettes.
Commands the voice of grievance to perpetual sleep
For a word would blemish the skin of serenity
and silence slays battalions of hate.

Upon the straying steeds of days sable deeds
Rides with spurs of peace
Aphrodite's flaming police.
Yes we have fenced with words, fed the eagles not the birds
While love hides behind
the shield of hate's battlefield
and the tempest of our wroth writhes
with the pangs of peace
Proud victory smirks the flames

Trev Teasdel (Birmingham 1971) - (Poem performed with guitar


Heather Lovett (AKA Liz Lovett / Varney) organised regular Poetry And folk (or unplugged sessions - before the term was coined) from 1971. The first of these were in the Umbrella Theatre and then upstairs.

These were my my first experience of performing - I'd just about learned to play guitar by the autumn of 71 and did a few T Rex covers - Cosmic Dancer and Cat's Steven's Sad Lisa and had begun accompanying my poems on guitar. Singing my own songs began around that time.

An earlier session was organised by Geoff Pegg and Norman Wheatley. (Geoff Pegg was chairman of the programme committee). Tuesday Evenings.

Some of the blurbs read -
"Poetry and Folk - A session for poets and folk singers, where new ideas may be read or sang, and discussion is encouraged. Not for performers only - you can listen if you do not wish to take part."

"A folk based session featuring a guest folk group from Coventry called Toadstool, whose members include John Brown, who is no stranger tot he Umbrella club. there will other singers, musicians and poets present at what should be a very enjoyable evening of poetry and folk. Look out next month for an event featuring a well-known poet.(Could it be Roger McGough?). (April 71 - Umbrella Programme).

In November 1971 BRUCE NORRIS (who became a poetry editor for Hobo  for a short while in 1973) organised FOLK AND POETRY CONCERT  on Sat 6th November.

"A folk music and poetry concert will be held in the lounge of the club on Saturday 6th November starting at 8pm promptly. Performers should be present at 7.30pm to make final arrangements. The following club members and friends will be singing or playing; Norman Wheatley (guitarist, singer and poet) Alison Lovett - Folk Singer, Jim Burland - Guitarist, Bruce Norris  - Poet. There Will a charge of 10p for attendance at this concert.." (Umbrella Programme.).

A special Folk and story telling with shadow puppets concert was held Monday 13th November 1971 with
MAGIC LANTERN featuring Taffy Thomas, Peter Coe, Sheila Thomas, Christine Coe. at St. Mary's Hall - near the Golden Cross.


C 1969 - 70 Saturday night was the always popular traditional style Folk Club night.

No comments:

Post a Comment