Monday, January 26, 2009


[Carmel & Roland, pre-show] On January 24, 2009 as part of Max Middle’s A B Series at the City Hall Art Gallery, jwcurry presented another in his “Messagio Galore” series of performances to a packed house of over ninety people, this one including a vocal ensemble consisting of himself, Roland Prévost, Carmel Purkis, John Lavery, Sandra Ridley and Grant Wilkins (with the vocal addition of Toronto writer Maria Erskine near the very end) performing orchestrated vocal works by writers such as Shant Basmajian, Four Horsemen, bpNichol, Mike Patton, The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie, Hugo Ball, Claude Gauvreau, Paul Haines (father of musician Emily), Jack Kerouac, d.a. levy, bob cobbing, Wharton Hood, Gerry Shikatani and Frank Zappa, among others. A long selection of works, the order of the performance was shuffled by random by the audience themselves, as Pearl Pirie went through the crowd pre-performance asking us all to “shuffle” the pages, thus letting the performance speak for itself, as opposed to letting any particular order take charge.

What was interesting about this version of the MASSAGIO GALORE was in how curry had selected a group of otherwise quiet people as his voices. John Lavery is certainly a seasoned performer of his own works, with more recent multi-vocal performances with Max Middle, and participating in a performance for 3 voices of Samuel Beckett works with Max and Carmel Purkis at the writers festival a few years ago, but the rest are far quieter, and it was interesting to hear the voices of all, but especially Sandra, Grant and Roland, come out of themselves, whether Roland’s thoughtful precision, Sandra’s careful steps out into her own voice, or Carmel simply allowing herself to let go. If you can imagine, for weeks preceding the event, curry had them in ten to twelve hour practice sessions, a few evenings a week, pushing the group further than I’ve known any performers of writing to push themselves in this town at least.

Holding himself as the anchor to the evening (being the only performer of the group to perform solo works), the evening was framed around John Cage’s “LECTURE ON NOTHING,” with fragments of the essay performed as a sextet and intersperced throughout the 90-minute performance, being a talk of “nothing,” “continuity” and “structure,” and watching, through essay and the performance as a whole, how the three wrap themselves around each other, each thread impossible to separate from the rest, without the whole of the evening coming apart.

One of the highlights had to be Carmel and Lavery performing “that old remembering song” from Fraggle Rock (with jwcurry on the floor, he was laughing so hard). A magnificent piece and magnificent performance by both, and all Carmel needed was her hair in two braids, and she would have made a perfect “Red” (playing “Red,” despite, she said later, the original was performed by “Boober”). What really made the performance was watching, for example, Lavery knowing to let Carmel shine during “that old remembering song,” each performer allowing the space for whoever needed to be featured during a particular piece, whether singular or all of the above. What made the performance as a whole was the lack of ego from each of the performers, letting the works themselves speak, and not let themselves get in the way of those works.

Another highlight had to be curry and Lavery performing “OPIUM MARBLE,” a small piece for two voices that curry has performed with many over the years, including Max Middle, Gary Barwin and Stuart Ross, made at one point as a small chapbook through above/ground press. There were a couple of works in this set that I’d heard before, in other of curry’s performances, and I know that “OPIUM MARBLE” is a particular favourite. Interesting to hear Lavery’s voice where Max’s once was, to see where the interpretive differences lay.

1. 7 KNOTS, jwcurry (Canada, 1982) (duo: JL/SR)
2. Alice in Wonderland, Sam Loyd (USA, 189-?) (sextet)
3. A LITTLE NASTINESS, Four Horsemen (Rafael Barreto-Rivera/Paul Dutton/Steve McCaffery/bpNichol; Canada, 1961) (sextet)
4. anacyclic poem with two shouts DHARMATHOUGHTS STUPAWARDS, don sylvester houedard (England, 1966) (duo: CP/SR)
5. A THOUSAND MOODS A MINUTE, Shant Basmajian (Canada, 1992?) (sextet)
6. auf dem land, Ernst Jandl (Austria, 1968?)
7. B, Francois Dufrene (France, 1958) (trio: JC/JL/RP)
8. CANZONE RUMORISTA cantata in coro sui testri d’Italia in ANICCAM del 2000, Fortunato Depero (Italy, 1916?)
9. ears, Michelle April/jwcurry (Canada, 2006)
10. EAST WIND, bpNichol (Canada, 197-?) (quartet: JC/JL/CP/SR)
11. end ant, Wharton Hood (Canada, 1996) (duo: JL/GW)
12. Gadji beri bimba, Hugo Ball (Switzerland, 1916)
13. getting there rapid, jwcurry/Qanni Lore (Canada, 1989?) (duo: CP/SR)
14. Hour 3, bpNichol (Canada, 1978?)
15. “How The Pigs’ Music Works”, Frank Zappa (USA, 1994) (trio: JL/RP/CP)
16. IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, Frank Zappa (USA, 1965) (quartet: JC/JL/RP/CP)
17. Jacques Dulume, Claude Geauvreau (Canada, 195-?)
18. LECTURE ON NOTHING, John Cage (USA, 1949) (quartet: JC/JL/CP/SR)
19. Marcia futurista, F.T. Marinetti (Italy, 1916) (sextet)
20. Me and the Flamer, Mike Patton (USA, 1998) (sextet)
21. “Mon Olivine”, Claude Gauvreau (Canada, 195-?)
22. “My Olivine”, Claude Gauvreau/translated Ray Ellenwood (Canada, 197-?)
23. OLD ANGEL MIDNIGHT 57, Jack Kerouac (USA, 1959?)
24. OPIUM MARBLE, jwcurry (Canada, 1980) (duo: JC/JL)
25. Pike-Fishing North Milne Lake, Gerry Shikatani (Canada, 1977?) (quartet: JC/JL/CP/SR)
26. roses that, d.a.levy (USA, 1966)
27. SHIFT 3, jwcurry/Peggy Lefler (Canada, 1982) (intro: JL; duo: SR/GW)
28. sounds’ favorite words, Paul Haines (Canada, 1986)
29. “that old remembering song”, Phil Halsam/Dennis Lee/bpNichol (Canada, 1983) (duo: JL/CP)
31. THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE, Spike Jones/Doodles Weaver (USA, 1947)
32. The Tibetan Memory Trick, traditional/arranged The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (Howard Kaylan/Mark Volman; USA, 1975) (sextet)
33. TRACT, jwcurry (Canada, 1995) (duo: JC/CP)
34. TWO: Less Time, bpNichol (Canada, 1982?) (sextet)
35. weeds, John Barlow (Canada, 1995)
36. WORM, bob cobbing (England, 1964) (quartet: JC/JL/SR/GW)

curry has done a number of interesting performances in Ottawa over the years, including the first edition of the ottawa international writers festival in 1997, where he did half his reading as his own pseudonym, Wharton Hood, a reading with Maria Erskine at Gallery 101 (as part of the Factory Reading Series), a reading of the first few books of bpNichol’s The Martyrology on Parliament Hill, and his infamous reading under his Somerset Street West apartment where he, naked, pounded out a reading with Alpha-Bits (the first half of the performance framed with bill bissett's "what fuckan theory," an essay/book from the 1970s). How is it that over the brief span of a few years, Max Middle and jwcurry have managed to develop an audience for sound poetry in Ottawa?
And let’s not forget the stamps that curry made, put on everyone’s hand as they came into the performance, made from stencils from Toronto graffiti artist P. Cobb, “Mr. P. Cobb had sex with dog.”

related notes: Pearl Pirie’s report; Amanda Earl’s report; Charles Earl’s photo; Rod Pedersons's report; previous MESSAGIO report; jwcurry's bookstore;

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sure wish i had of been there. but ya know had things to do.

b stephen harding