Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Day 5
3:00PM

So when I get up to the club I’m supposed to perform at last night, I find that there is a huge marquis outside with my name on it (of course, I took a picture). Panache is a jazz supper club owned by Dan (I forget what his last name is right now). Dan (a thirty-something year old black man) recently bought this club and had to deal with folks in the neighborhood trying to block his purchase of the club, saying they didn’t want any hip-hop in the neighbothood; that his club would attract the wrong element into the neighborhood. He had to fight them through the city council to eventually get the right to spend his money as he saw fit.

The club is beautiful. It is huge and has both upstairs and downstairs spaces, so conceivably two different programs can be run at once. The food is excellent. In particular the wings (I had one order and then ordered a platter of wings to take with me back to the hotel – this second order I had to make from stage as the kitchen was about to close).

The house band, Joyful Noise, was also excellent and they backed up onpen micers and me with equal aplomb, and with care not to step on the pieces they were backing up, while providing a very complementary rhythm to the work. I felt good about my set, including the last piece in which Sister Monica (the woman who killed me with her rendition of Strange Fruit the night before) accompanied me with the band to do Blue Sex Prodigy.

The poetry scene in Milwaukee is a good one. For one, they have something happening every night (which is stretching me because I don’t want to give them the same exact set every night and many of the same people are returning to all the shows). The thing that is really impressive though, is the sincerity of all the work I am hearing. For sure, there is much work on craft that many of the poets here need, but the poets I talk too are genuinely interested in getting better; and the things they are writing now, generally have crosse the first hurdle of trying to get as close as possible to the inherent truth of their subject matter and themselves, and you just can’t hate on that.

This morning, Rhonda called me and asked if I needed to do anything in and around Milwaukee and I told her I needed to go to Kinko’s and she said “What do you need, some copies?” and I said “Yes” and she said “my Dad owns a copy shop” and I said “For real?” and she said “Word Up!” so I got to make copies for significantly less than I would have at Kinkos and I got to support a grass roots black business in racist-ass Wisconsin. She also drove me around town and showed me stuff and let me take photos of weird buildings and what-not. The folks here in Milwaukee (on the poetry scene) have been very very very welcoming and make me feel very relaxed and comfortable and myself and for that I can never be grateful enough.

Tonight I perform at Taboo. I don’t know what that is, but am assured that it will be fresh and that I’ll have a good time, so I’m going to nap now, so I can get up, do some work on my show, hit the gym, eat and nap again before they come to get me at 9:30. Love y’all like I made y’all mahself…

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Roger, Its me Toya, you know pink sneakers :) I don't know if you read these comments but I just wanted you to know that I am glad you visited Milwaukee. I read the book, its great. I need the other one now with the yellow cover. Roger you may not realize it but you and so many other poets have greatly impacted my life. Poetry is my medicine when I am down, and I am glad I got the chance to hear your words. Please let me know when you will be in Milwaukee again. Toya :)

6:57 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Hope you made it back safely from Milwaukee. I will be up there next weekend. God Bless man

www.iambenjaminhughes.com

9:12 PM  

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