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Some Public Reactions to ROCKPILE

 

 

“This is the kind of show we almost never see, and it's a damned shame. There were about half a dozen times when the rhythm of the music was contrapuntal to the rhythm of the poetry, but the emotional tenor was absolutely in sync, and these moments were exhilarating. The music was driving and fun, the poets were in strong voice and moved confidently through a very broad range of tones and themes. It was a poetry reading as entertaining as the best live theater.” (Randy Cauthen)

 

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“It was my pleasure to sit at the piano during the Rockpile evening at the Gershwin Hotel in New York City and to try and make some good sounds come out that would compliment, even push forward the wonderful poets who read that night, Michael Rothenberg, Terri Carrion, and David Meltzer. It was also a great pleasure to be in the company of three stellar musicians, Michael Stephans on drums and percussion, Lindsey Horner on bass, and the nonpareil Marty Erlich (leader) on reed instruments. The poets were nothing short of energetic, awesomely talented, and inspiring, and I felt the same way about the company of musicians. Whether we were batting out free improvisations, riding through "Blue Monk," or adlibbing our own backup to poems, it was a thrilling and marvelously well-attended evening. No doubt Michael will tell you how to access it on Facebook. I eagerly await Rockpile #2, whether I'm in the band or not!”  (Bill Zavatsky)

 

 

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"Rockpile pulled me in from the beginning. Inside a lecture room somewhere among the mess of unfamiliar Columbia College buildings, I was let in on a secret. There are others who do not separate music and poetry or life from words. The main performance at the Hideout was an event rather than a stuffy reading. Each artist offered their own poetry. For some it was spoken work, others instruments. Together it all felt like it was hitting some sort of connectivity sometimes associated with the sound OM." (Joe Wetteroth)

   

 

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“Spell out the orchestra! An A to Z understanding of rhythm and verse was quite apparent Sunday evening at Zeitgeist. Poets and musicians came together in a melodious union that stimulated as well as provoked—a poetry reading that was as lively as a jazz concert with all the dancing and spirits one would expect on a soulful Sunday in New Orleans.

  

Michael took the stage to the rich sounds of brass and tapping toes (quite an introduction). His poetry was rhythmic and clear and complimented the smooth tones of the Dirty Dozen nicely. The mood of Michael’s poetry seemed to capture that of the evening. Almost relieved to finish his set, Michael wasted no time making his way to the dance floor to join the movement.

 

The spirit of the band seemed to shift from the upbeat sounds of a second line to a bluesy, equally energetic attitude as David took the floor. He was calm and undoubtedly in his element behind the podium. Peaceful, yet powerful, his selection of poems illustrated the tour’s intentions. All around me, heads were bobbing to the music, to David, to both, but my eyes never left the stage. He was 30 years younger behind the podium. His personality, youthful and bright, captivated the audience. For me, the night was a success—a stunning example of what Voodoo can do.” (Jason Diano)

 

 

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“Music, Music, Music. Rockpile poems, songs, lyrics, a gal in a blonde wig, a piano player, drums, a bass, the great ROCKPILE ON THE ROAD gives us their all.” (Basil King)

 

 

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“The impassioned hipster conversation of booze, smokes, poetry and jazz fortunately is still with us. Poets David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg fronting a superb quintet led by Burnett Thompson reaffirmed the potential for the collaborative brilliance between poetry and jazz at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, the city's premier venue for poetry." (Carlo Parcelli)

 

 

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“I was very fortunate to hear Rockpile's wonderful blend of poetry and music at the Hammer Museum in October 2009 and found it a thrilling, vibrant event!” (Ellyn Maybe)

 

 

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"Marty Ehrlich was magical - he was dashing around the stage, orchestrating poetry and music, weaving Michael, David and the musicians' voices together, and somehow before long everyone on stage was juggling the whole Rockpile... I was convinced those were the rocks Jacob slept on" (Jake Marmer)

 

 

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“This is the ONLY combination of music and the spoken word that I have ever enjoyed. I am sure Rockpile was great everywhere, but in NYC it was FANTASTIC. I wish I knew what to call the genre, but it just WORKS. The music was incredible on its own terms and the improv professional musicians seemed as if they had worked together for years instead of just practicing together–a few times? once? Especially moving was the combination of David Meltzer reading his work and poet Bill Zavatsky who is a really fine jazz pianist though not a professional and gave the poetry a poignant quality that was different than hearing only the words. Especially entertaining, I thought, was the back-and-forth dialogue between Terri and Michael R… I hope they come back soon.” (Ellen Geist)

 

 

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“Rockpile in St. Louis witnessed the breakdown of walls that separate most of the poetry crowds. They were all there: the reckless young nihilist hipsters, the Slam and Hip-Hop poets, the men and women who were part of the Black Arts Movement, a few wild eyed academics and The Beat and Post-Beat. There were sidemen and the folklorists milling about and digging it. It was a place and time where time stopped to dig what was going down. Each was poet respected. Each came with weighty words. Each brought a rock to leave on the pile.” (Jason Braun)

 

 

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"We had a great afternoon at The Writer's Center when the Rockpile show came through. Great poetry from Michael Rothenberg, David Meltzer, and Terri Carrion, joined by several poets from the Washington, DC Metro area, and pianist Burnett Thompson. It was really an extraordinary program, with a sense of community, warmth, shared history that really was everything poetry is supposed to be about. I don't get out as often as I used to, but I was so moved by the program that I went to  a second gig with Rockpile and Burnett's band, the New Columbia Orchestra, just a few days later. These are folks you don't want to miss when they come through town." (Sunil Freeman)  

 

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"The one word that comes to mind is TRANSFORMATIVE. I attended a reading in the same room last week and it seemed so sterile, dry, and filled with staid, white appreciators of poetry. Nothing against them, but it lacked the diversity of Rockpile, where the physical confines were not even visible. The gang attending Rockpile was not the typical crowd that attends Duff’s or wherever, even when multicultural artists are featured. This was a tribe of poetic shamans actively invoking an improvised, vibrant mix of spoken word, theater and musical sound. And Meltzer, Rothenberg, and Carrion were the celebrants in the High Ceremony. All brought together by Michael Castro, they brought out the best in (and the best of) the St. Louis "beat" poetic community. One giant tribal party on stage & off.” (Alexander Balogh)