Brent Thompson, local writer and musician drives his vision of art and words to the stage of Preservation Pub every Thursday night. Conflicts have conspired to prevent my attendance at the first two or three, but I made it last night. If you have any interest in the written word, in free-form artistic abandon or simply in being in the presence of bright, articulate visionaries, this is your event. At four hours, it is expansive, rambling and a bit random. And great fun.
Brent recently worked for Knox Ivi and his skills as an interviewer and host are on full display in his new venture. In a segment called “Lyrical Genius” (or was that a reference to Lil’ Iffy?), Brent interviewed Wil Wright whose best early quote was “”I’m just like everybody: Neil Diamond is my hero.” A viewing of a video for Senryu’s song “Before It Happens” set a high bar for creativity for the night. “Slug Club” followed as the discussion focused mostly Wil’s persona as Lil’ Iffy. The band translates Harry Potter into hard core rap. As Wil said, “It’s a pretty lonely life trying to pursue paranormal hip hop.” He also writes for the blog Music Slut.
The night started with poetry by various readers, some, such as Courageous, Nessa and Playboy Manbaby followed the slam poetry tradition with free-wheeling word barrages. All are spectacularly talented at what they do. Bill Alexander and Kenneth McBride each read excellent, though more traditional poems.
The Thread featured a poem passed throughout the room. Two lines at the top of the first page moved from person to person, each of whom were asked to add two lines. The poem eventually made its way back to the stage to be read by Lil’ Iffy. Vacillating between funny, profound and lame the poem meandered its way to the end, Lil’ Iffy scratching his head at some of the lines.
Haiku Hustlers featured Haiku written on the spot by audience members with the assigned theme of “modern slang.” Two microphones, one in the audience and one on the stage, accommodated the lines of people prepared to offer their haiku to the audience. After the dozen or so poets presented their lines, Jack Neely judged the contest, declaring Paige, Courageous and Erin the three finalists. The audience rendered an undecided verdict and all were declared winners.
Jack also submitted to to an interview in which he said there is no end to the topics regarding the city which he has so thoroughly documented. He broke into song at one point giving his best Tom Waits to, “There’s a world going on underground,” in reference to the potential of underground Knoxville. He also spoke of a very small tunnel under Gay street from the Millers Building. He insisted only a troll could navigate the little space.
The evening ended with brief musical performances by two groups, one local, Crispy Watkins and one from Nashville, Rough and Tumble. How could there not be music?
The room filled with writers, musicians and other well-known Knoxvillians from Nate Barrett and Ben Maney to Michael Gill, Jack Rentfro, Paige Travis and Kim Trent. I love just being in the room with people of such talent and creative vision and I’d encourage you to join us next Thursday night to experience this crazy literary maelstrom for yourself. Just another reason to love this strange city with it’s vision just askew from normal, it’s vitality drawn from a well of poetic evangelists and Pulitzer prize winners.