Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tick Tock to host listening party for "Poetry Scored" by Nick Barbieri


 
 
Nick Barbieri performs his score of a poem from Josephine Miles' "Ten Dreamers in a Motel" with Heidi Dean, Tracy Swigert, Adam Long and Eileen Gannon.


Nick Barbieri will host a listening party for his debut record as a leader, "Poetry Scored," 7 p.m. Thursday, August 13 at The Tick Tock Tavern, 3459 Magnolia in South St. Louis.

It's a free event. There is a cash-only bar. The Tick Tock connects to Steve's Hot Dogs, serving hot dog classics and creations, and they'll deliver your dogs to the tavern.

"Poetry Scored" is a 12-song effort with a brief instrumental intro. Nick took the title from the idea of a poetry score, a poem set to music like you would score a movie. It's another way to describe the classic form of the song setting, the poem set to music, introduced by the St. Louis-based arts collective Poetry Scores.

Nick writes in a wide range of styles, giving the record something of a musical sampler quality. The through-line is rock and pop, but he also writes a smoldering soul blues, a folk ballad for harp, a vocal quartet, a fanfare, and a synth dance number intentionally made to sound cheesy, in keeping with the tone of the poem.

Nick is a drummer who sings like a bird and can also play a little bit of everything. He is accompanied by all sorts of extremely talented musicians, playing guitars and harp and horns and strings and keyboards and vocals: Brian Henneman, Eilen Gannon, Carl Pandolfi, Alex Mutrux, Obeid Khan, Mark Buckheit, Tony Ostinato, Dino Monoxelos, Frank Catalano, Phil Jost, Nathan Pence, Meghan Gohil, Jay Lauterwasser, Adam Long, David Melson, Heidi Dean, Tracy Swigert and Lyris Hung.

Nine of the twelve songs on "Poetry Scored" are actual poetry scores -- most, but not all, composed for Poetry Scores projects. For Poetry Scores, Nick set to music poems by Josephine Miles ("Longing to Find Myself Out"), Mary Dalton ("The Swallowing," scored as a four-song suite) and Andreas Embirikos, translated from the Greek by Nikos Stabakis ("Desire").

There is a good story about "Desire." Poetry Scores commissioned Barbara Harbach to score selections from Embirikos' Surrealist classic "Blast Furnace," and she discarded six of the prose poems we had selected for her to score. Surrealists adore the concept of chance, and it occurred to me there are six sides to a die for each of those six discarded poems.

So the night of the art invitational for Embirikos, we had six songwriters, including Nick, agree to roll a die the second they walked in Mad Art and score the Embirikos poem we had randomly assigned to that number. They had the three hours of the invitational to write and record it. Nick rolled for "Desire" and scored it that night in a corner of Mad Art where the chairs get stacked, his wife Beth encouraging him and giving him feedback.

Nick also scored Albert Saijo for Poetry Scores Hawai'i, Poetry Scores' first affiliate outside of St. Louis, housed at the Art Department at the state university in Hilo, with a focus on poets of Hawai'i. Saijo was born in the San Fernando Valley, went to high school at a Japanese internment camp in Wyoming and befriended Jack Kerouac in San Francisco, but he lived his best, last years in Volcano, just up the volcano on the Big Island from Hilo. .

Nick also scored two poems by yours truly, Chris King. Though I co-founded Poetry Scores and first invited Nick to compose for us, these songs had other origins. "The Shape of a Man" is the title track, so to speak, from my second chapbook of poetry, and Nick scored it on his own initiative. I love how this song struts and rocks, earning an extremely rare comparison from me: to Lou Reed.

I wrote the poem "Man with Briefcase at #2968443" for a Laumeier Sculpture Park project. Eric Hall invited people to score sculptures, and I decided to write a poem to the Jonathan Borofsky sculpture of the man with briefcase silhouette, and then score my own poem with David Melson. I invited Nick to improve upon my melodic sketch and sing it with stacked harmonies. The song is now in Laumeier's permanent collection.



"Man with Briefcase at #2968443" by Jonathan Borofsky at Laumeier

Though I'm totally psyched and honored that Nick picked up on our idea of scoring poems and ran so far with it, even scoring one of my own poems, he includes two songs he wrote with his own lyrics, "The Ground" and "Fireworks," which are as good as anything on "Poetry Scored." Steve Pick of KDHX said to me that "Fireworks" is a "perfect pop song," and I agree absolutely.

Nick also includes one cover by St. Louis songwriter Chuck Reinhart. "Midget's" is a song I first heard at a Guitar Circle and have held very dear to my heart ever since. A group of musicians associated with Poetry Scores is working on a very occasional series of covering fellow local songsters. This performance was really transformed in the mixing process by Meghan Gohil, the Poetry Scores partner in Los Angeles.

Meghan Gohil (Hollywood Recording Studio) co-produced "Poetry Scored" with Nick Barbieri. He also mixed all but two of the songs. It was mastered by Poetry Scores' co-founder and East Nashville partner, Elijah "Lij" Shaw (The Toy Box Studio). Adam Long mixed the other two songs and recorded three of Nick's vocals. Nick recorded everything else.

"Poetry Scored" by Nick Barbieri is distributed digitally by Hollywood Recording Studio and should be available wherever music is downloaded or streamed (iTunes link). Nick also pressed actual physical CDs that you can  pick up at The Tick Tock on August 13, or through Nick (nickbedrock gmail com).





Saturday, May 30, 2015

A song about a poem about a photograph about playing darts in Newfoundland

All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #7, Avondale, Conception Bay
Scott Walden (2007)
Artist retains rights.


Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We are scoring "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus" by Mary Dalton, a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

We are translating into music poetry that was itself the translation of photographs. Mary Dalton based her poetic sequence on a series of photographs taken on the road between Holyrood and Brigus, Newfoundland, between 2005 and 2007 by Scott Walden.

Only three of the twelve poems in the sequence are subtitled after a specific photograph. "Darts (villanelle)" is subtitled after the photograph "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #7, Avondale, Conception Bay," a photograph of a woman throwing a dart behind a man who has just thrown a dart into a separate dart board. Behind them are the shadows of a lounge where chairs and tables have been cleared from the floor and stacked on top of each other. Her poem opens with the most vivid image in a quiet, contemplative photograph: the flash of the woman's throwing hand.
 
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Darts (villanelle)
All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #7

By Mary Dalton

In a flash the hand soars into flight;
here the scuffed lino’s a stage
The bar chatter’s faint from this height.
           
Banished from thought is the fight
that burrowed its way out of rage;
in a flash, the hand soars in flight

Y’know, the missus and buddy are tight.
That fellow stole his new gauge.
The bar chatter’s faint from this height.

Birds hover or, it might be, a kite:
the plodder’s transformed to a sage.
In a flash the hand soars in flight.
           
The wheel of the dartboard’s a site
where drudgery’s exiled, and age.
The bar chatter’s faint from this height.

The massed shadows now cannot quite
mew up this prey in their cage.
In a flash the hand soars in flight;
the bar chatter’s faint from this height.

                          
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"Darts (villanelle)" includes in its title the traditional poetic form that Mary Dalton employed to write it, as does "Tommy's Lounge (triolet)." The villanelle is a tricky form. The Academy of American Poets summarizes it:
The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2 . 
Poetry Scores is setting Mary Dalton's poetic sequence to music anthology-style, with a committee of composers working on the project. Michael Martin - a veteran of many great St. Louis bands, including Three Foot Thick, Kamikaze Cowboy, and Karate Bikini - scored "Darts (villanelle)" as a folk rock song with a loose, fetching feel. Michael is a busy producer in his Broom Factory Studio, and it sounds to me like he had some fun in the studio with this tricky poem about a simple game.

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mp3

"Darts (villanelle)"
(Mary Dalton, Michael Martin)

Performed, produced and recorded by Michael Martin at the Broom Factory

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Another photo from Scott Walden's series also depicts a dart board as part of an impromptu tavern wall formal study, "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #28, Holyrood, Conception Bay" (2006).


All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #28, Holyrood, Conception Bay
Scott Walden (2006)
Artist retains rights.

Video of Mary Dalton reading "Darts (villanelle)" that she recorded for our project.

The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.


Michael Martin


Mary Dalton

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rock song to a poetic triolet about a formal study photograph of lounge exterior in Newfoundland

                            
"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #47, Brigus, Conception Bay"
By Scott Walden (2005)
Artist retains rights 

Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We are scoring "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus" by Mary Dalton, a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

It's interesting that we are translating into music poetry that was itself the translation of photographs. Mary Dalton based her poetic sequence on a series of photographs taken on the road between Holyrood and Brigus, Newfoundland, between 2005 and 2007 by Scott Walden.

Only two of the twelve poems in the sequence are subtitled after a specific photograph. "Tommy's Lounge" is subtitled after the photograph "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #47, Brigus, Conception Bay," a formal study of the lounge's exterior.

A handsome, Western-themed sign features the lounge name framed by a Stetson tented over a pair of cowboy boots, with two big stars like lawmen badges. The lounge sign does not line up quite right with the smaller side window it butts up against. Siding that looks like it's seen a few hard winters buckles here and there throughout, forming a background pattern that is slightly warped.

Mary Dalton's poem picks up on the Western imagery, the things not lining up quite right, and the slightly warped atmosphere of the photograph.


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Tommy’s Lounge (triolet)
All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #47

By Mary Dalton


There’s Western gear on Tommy’s sign;
cartoon Stetson, boots and star.

Here’s no tang of kelp or brine,
but big bucks earned fast, by gar.

And, caught in a pane, a stave of lines,
and the sky that scatters us far.

Western gear on Tommy’s sign:
cartoon Stetson, boots and star.


*


I don't understand that bit about gar fishing in Newfoundland, but I know something about tough commercial fishing port towns, which seems to be what's evoked here.

The "triolet" in the poem title is the name for the poetic form that Mary Dalton uses here. Though "triolet" has "trio" in it, it's got nothing to do with threes, but is rather a short poem of eight lines with only two rhymes used throughout. It makes perfect sense that the poet would use a traditional poetic form to write a poem about a photograph that is a formal study.

Mark Buckheit scored "Tommy's Lounge" for us. Mark made that triolet rock.

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mp3

"Tommy's Lounge"
(Mary Dalton, Mark Buckheit)

Demo performed and recorded by Mark Buckheit.

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Video of Mary Dalton reading "Tommy's Lounge," recorded just for our show.

The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.


Mary Dalton
 

Mark Buckheit












Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A song about a poem about a photograph of a girl at a bar in Newfoundland


"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24, Colliers, Conception Bay"
By Scott Walden (2006)
Artist retains rights 


Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We are scoring "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus" by Mary Dalton, a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

It's interesting that we are translating into music poetry that was itself the translation of photographs. Mary Dalton based her poetic sequence on a series of photographs taken on the road between Holyrood and Brigus, Newfoundland, between 2005 and 2007 by Scott Walden.

Only two of the twelve poems in the sequence are subtitled after a specific photograph. "Girl at the Bar" is subtitled after the 24th numbered poem in Scott Walden's series, "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24, Colliers, Conception Bay" (2006). The poem even mentions the photographer and places his portrait of this young woman in the history of art alongside Vermeer and Botticelli.

The poem is self-consciously ekphrastic: it's deliberately a poem about a work of art.

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Girl at the Bar
All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #24

By Mary Dalton

I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
—Frederick Seidel, “Fog”


She is looking into the distance.
The light touches her forehead, her neck,
hovers about her eyes and chin,
gold strands of her hair,
gold of the beer glass.
Fiery light glances off her
hair, upswept at the back.
The busy iconography of the bar,
its framed memories and plaques,
the phone talker nearby—
against their blurry clutter
a stillness, a space at once inner
and knowing, a pool of solitude
in the whirl of the carnival.

Here, in the commotion, the crowd,
the photographer’s found
a Botticelli angel,
a Vermeer beauty,
T-shirted,
yet his gaze travels further:
one senses that soon
the moment will vanish;
she will slide off the bar stool,
toss off a wise-crack,
grin at the comeback,
sashay out with buddy,
out into the lava shift of the strobes,
out into the roiling
spree of the dance floor.

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We are scoring "All the Clubs" compilation-style with a committee of songwriters, and Ann Hirschfeld called for "Girl at the Bar." Here is her demo.





Video of Mary Dalton reading "Girl at the Bar," recorded just for our show.

The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.

Mary Dalton






Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A song to a poem about a bar named for a fool in Newfoundland


"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #21, Conception Harbour, Conception Bay"
Scott Walden (2006)
Artist retains rights

Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We are scoring "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus," a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

The poet Mary Dalton - like any self-respecting tavern-goer - relishes the names of pubs and social clubs. Throughout the sequence, she names taverns -- and then renames them for what their real names would be if they truly described what happens to people in there.

In "The Twilick," a prose poem, she savors a few actual tavern names -- and then invents the name of a fictional lounge and imagines a typical scene inside it.

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The Twillick
By Mary Dalton


The Blue Moon. The Velvet Hat. The Newfoundland Lounge. They should have a bar called The Twillick. Go in there now and what you’ll see is those fellows—and the women, too—home from Alberta, the SUVs and the monster trucks gleaming in the parking lots, and them huddled over the flash and dash, the blips and beeps of the VLTs, feeding in the dollars they left their place and young ones for, feeding in the big money they got on the planes for. The big money they sold their backs and lungs for, often as not. Or crowded round a pool-table like worshippers at one of those new-fangled centre altars, praying at the shrine of Texas Hold ’Em.

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According to The Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a "twillick" is a long-legged sea shore bird -- and a fool.

St. Louis songster Mike Stuvland, who is no fool, set "The Twillick" to a wistful acoustic tune that includes my favorite-ever intonation of the phrase "monster trucks" in a song.






Video of Mary Dalton reading "The Twilick" just for our show.

The series of photographs by Scott Walden, also titled "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus," that inspired Mary Dalton's poem.

The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.


Mike Stuvland

Mary Dalton

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Riddling" by Mary Dalton and Eric Rose


"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #31, Avondale, Conception Bay"
By Scott Walden (2006)
Artist retains rights


Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We scored "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus," a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," according to its subtitle, about the taverns and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland.

Close to the end of the sequence - poem ten of twelve - the poet Mary Dalton poses a riddle and even titles the poem "Ridding."


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Riddling
By Mary Dalton


How is a club like a story?

One may beget the other;
atmosphere is all;
the light is a transforming one;
in the shadows are symbols and myths;
the characters are gathered against the storm;
time stops or expands or shrinks;
epiphanies abound—or fail to occur
the narrator is unreliable.


*


With twelve separate poems to work with, we offered them to different songwriters for a compilation-style score. Eric Rose volunteered for "Riddling."






Eric is based out of San Francisco, where he runs a company called Right Brain Consultants. He played in the Washington University campus band scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the guys who would eventually found Poetry Scores: Matt Fuller, Chris King and Elijah "Lij" Shaw. Eric and Matt formed half of the legendary Wash U campus band Butt of Jokes that first pulled Chris into the campus music scene as a fan and inspired him to start the band with Matt and Elijah (Enormous Richard) that eventually evolved into Poetry Scores.

"Riddling," after all of these years, is Eric Rose's first contribution to Poetry Scores, though we hope it will be far from his last.

Eric Rose (stretching) with Butt of Jokes, ca. 1989.
Future Poetry Scores cofounder Matt Fuller is on drums.
Stomping on his bass pedal is Ben Herzon, soon of The Bishops.

The other songwriters on "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus: Nick Barbieri, Mark Buckheit, Robert Goetz, Ann Hirschfeld, Michael Martin, Joe Thebeau, Three Fried Men, The Lettuce Heads and Mike Stuvland.

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The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.

The series of photographs by Scott Walden, also titled "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus," that inspired Mary Dalton's poem.

Mary Dalton

Mary Dalton has published five volumes of poetry, most recently "Hooking" (2013), "Merrybegot" (2003) and "Red Ledger" (2006). Her work has been widely anthologized in Canada and abroad and won many awards.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"The Swallowing" by Mary Dalton and Nick Barbieri


"All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus #6, Avondale, Conception Bay"
By Scott Walden (2007)
Artist retains rights. 

Like I was saying, Poetry Scores has a live premiere of a new poetry score on Saturday, May 30 at the Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis.

We scored "All the Clubs from Hollyrood to Brigus" by Mary Dalton, a poet of Newfoundland. "All the Clubs" is a twelve-poem sequence of "fictions, ruminations and riddles," as its subtitle says. Poetry Scores assigned the separate poems to different songwriters for an anthology-style score by committee: Nick Barbieri, Mark Buckheit, Robert Goetz, Ann Hirschfeld, Michael Martin, Eric Rose, Joe Thebeau, Three Fried Men, The Lettuce Heads and Mike Stuvland all scored Mary Dalton poems.

The poet has worked very closely with Nick Barbieri, who is producing the score for Poetry Scores. She advised the songwriters about pronunciations of local place names that her Newfoundland neighbors would recognize, recorded new videos of her poems for inclusion in our live show, and generally is cheering the project along.

As Nick pointed out, it makes sense that Mary Dalton would embrace our musical adaptation of her poems, because her sequence was itself the poetic translation of a series of photographs taken on the road between Holyrood and Brigus, Newfoundland, between 2005 and 2007 by Scott Walden.

"This series takes as its subject matter the bars and social clubs that line a 16-mile stretch of one of the oldest highways in Newfoundland," Scott Walden writes of his series of photographs, also titled "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus."

"As social centres in their communities, the architecture and demographics of the clubs reveal a contemporary rural Newfoundland that is a mixture of young and old, corporate and mom-and-pop, threadbare and shiny new."

Mary Dalton's poems dive deeper down than architecture or demographics. She dives into the eyes of the club regulars Scott Walden captured with his camera. She sinks to the center and bottom of the human predicament on the social circuit between Holyrood and Brigus. Taverns and clubs are places where people gather together to drink alcohol, play games of skill and chance, and tell each other stories, and Mary Dalton's poems have much to say about why people seek each other's company, the games we play, the dreams and lies of alcohol, how the ritual of story both records experience and transfigures it.

In addition to producer of the poetry score and director of the big band that will perform it on May 30, Nick Barbieri is also one of the composers for "All the Clubs from Holyrood to Brigus." Nick scored the seventh poem in the twelve-poem sequence, "The Swallowing," as a four-song suite. In "The Swallowing," the poet dives to the bottom of the glass and of the person swallowing from it. Here are parts three and four of the suite.

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"The Swallowing"
(Mary Dalton, Nick Barbieri)

Performed by Nick Barbieri and friends
Produced by Nick Barbieri
 
Mixed by Meghan Gohil of Hollywood Recording Studio, Los Angeles
Mastered by Lij of The Toy Box Studio, East Nashville

"The Swallowing, Part 3"

Nick Barbieri: acoustic guitars, bass, drums, keyboard, timpani & vocals
Brian Henneman (courtesy Bloodshot Records): electric guitars

Recorded by Nick Barbieri, except vocals recorded by Adam Long

The Swallowing, Part 4"


Nick Barbieri: drums, bass, piano & vocals
Frank Catalano (courtesy Ropeadope Records): tenor sax
Nathan Pence: upright bass.

Recorded by Nick Barbieri, except tenor sax recorded by Daniel Steinman, vocals by Adam Long

"The Swallowing" is available everywhere music is downloaded or streamed on Nick Barbier's solo record "Poetry Scored" (Hollywood Recording Studio) - for example, on iTunes.

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The original announcement of the May 30 show with more details.

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Mary Dalton
 

Nick Barbieri
recording Stefene Russell for Poetry Scores
Photo by Chris King