Rhyme, reason and the new wave of iphone poetry

Captives on the Carousel album launch @ Riverside Café pub.

With musical guests Andy Doxfield, Gina Walters, Carl Woodford and The Mother Folkers. Poetry by Sarah Thomasin, Mark James and Ollie Francis.

It was a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon at Riverside Cafe, where the atmosphere felt like a big family reunion. The sort of reunion where southern hospitality food is the menu of the day and where everyone seems to be getting along just fine. It might be idyllic, but I saw it on a Cameron Crowe film, so it has to be truth. On that note, Cameron Crowe’s films have always great musical choices and that’s my only tenuous link between him and this gig, where the musicians and the poetry in the midst felt like a small mixtape you get from a good friend.

A simple event with a simple goal: celebrate Captives on the Carousel new album and invite acoustic artists that might be falling through the cracks but who deserve some love. Interspersed with this (and possibly hand in hand with the Riverside’s new writing-friendly atmosphere) were a couple of poems recited.

Folk Blues musician Andy Doxfield started to play while the audience, already filling the place, was quite happy to indulge in the peaceful music. He seemed to enjoy the set and even if he was a little reserved (debatable), he did a good job on the guitar (not for debate).

Time for the first poetry bit and it was Ms. Sarah Thomasin to tell a few tales of sex education, all of them safely stored in an iPhone (with a cheer from an audience member, who proclaimed he created a movement).  Thomasin’s piece was entertaining, a little icky but still funny. Not sure if “scatological” would be the appropriate adjective, but it had some body humour, specifically about the name a 15 year old kid was giving to a girl’s, ah, well, you get the idea. Secret terms, awkwardness and the general fun of those years…

Next act, a lone snazzy dressed girl (loved the hat). I heard of Gina Walters before. As in, a few minutes before her set, Ben Eckersley from Captives on the carousel informed me she was also in Screaming Maldini and Twins, two bands I didn’t know about either (but found about them at Peace in the Park). Her set was piano driven (Korg, natch) and frankly, I would’ve dumped the microphone on the river Don and listened to her voice as it was,  a stupendous siren call. It lulled the audience and was loud enough to forfeit any electric devices (hence my written desire to defenestrate microphones). If this paragraph doesn’t make sense, well, in plain English: she has a great voice and a good collection of songs, including a cover of ‘Fireworks’. No chest explosions on site were required.

Mark James’ poem/story/shaggy dog joke was an interesting one. It had a few jokes but the sad moments had the proper gravitas required and the lesson learnt was simple but true. It involved balms, gruesome deaths and a lot of detail.  Impressive that the whole thing was recited from memory. That’s some good memory and dedication to the trade.

Carl Woodford puts on quite a show. He’s armed with a guitar and a fast pair of hands, which come into use when, between a skilful mixing of strumming and riffs, he uses his guitar as a percussion instrument, without missing a beat. Again, some blues notes and a lot of soul was the cocktail he served. Co-host Ben Eckersley joined for a song too and the combination was more peas and carrots than chalk and cheese.

Ollie Francis (who previously claimed he created the iphone poetry movement) did a few short ones, mostly on the subject of technology, spitefulness and petty revenge, so, yeah, Facebook. It was very stream of consciousness (i.e. rant) and funny, mostly about replacing photos and re-tagging them for revenge. Might need to hold to that idea just in case.

For an album launch, it was weird that Captives on the Carousel decided not to headline. Again, the intimate atmosphere at the Riverside fitted just fine, adding some extra panache to songs like ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Lead me down’ (my favourite). They did a pretty catchy cover of ‘Ruby Tuesday’, which required some audience participation, via some musical instruments (sleigh bells, percussion sticks) that were handed before the song started.

It’s funny seeing that their sound can be so immersive when it really is two persons doing all the aural compositions around. Thank their music (and a loop pedal that helps layering out the final package).

It was mentioned on the Facebook invite that The Mother Folkers would go last because they are more of a “party band” and, yes, that could be a way to describe this band. It’s a folk sound alright, but not on a slow, introspection-bound train of thought, more of a lively  bullet train of upbeat music. Highlights from their set include a catchy (and maybe seedy) song called ‘Stella’ and an impressive ditty called ‘Cowboy’, which has some bit of choreography that makes it even more memorable. It’s a showstopper, in the style of Sweet Charity‘s ‘Hey Big Spender’. Subject matter might be different.

Captives on the carousel chose the guest bands and poets very wisely. Here’s hoping there are more events like this at the Riverside, and, hey, if you wanna check our opinion on Captives’ album, click here.


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Words: Sam The Spam.


Andy Doxfield Myspace.

Gina Walters Myspace. Facebook.

Carl Woodford Myspace. Facebook.

Captives on the Carousel Facebook. Bandcamp. Myspace. Soundcloud.

The Mother Folkers Myspace. Facebook.

Random Fact: I once wrote a poem about ALF. I’d read it in public if I wasn’t 100% sure it’s shite.

3 thoughts on “Rhyme, reason and the new wave of iphone poetry

  1. Just a note to say that the night was a special ‘Captives takeover’ of a regular music and poetry night called Vocal to celebrate both the EP launch and Vocal’s 2nd birthday. Vocal has been producing events at The Riverside and Trippets on the last Sunday of every month since May 2009 and is run by Ben Eckersley and Ollie Francis. The poetry of Ollie can be found at olliefrancis.blogspot.com and more on Vocal can be found at http://www.aplacetobeheard.org. The next Vocal is on 26th June at Trippets in town from 5.30pm with an early bird open mic and featured music and poetry acts. Thanks to everyone who made the Captives takeover such a special night – you were all wonderful!

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