READIN’ AND RHYTHM
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1. Trumpeter Mike Shobe of The Dymaxion Quartet. 2. Jennifer Werner and Jin Cordaro, rockin’ the literature.
Last night I hustled over to Union Hall in Brooklyn for the first-ever “Readin’ and Rhythm,” a series organized by online music magazine Knocks from the Underground that aims to put indie musicians and writers together. The effect is a show that is part rock-and-roll, part reading. I have to say, like peanut butter and bananas, Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon, some pairings are just plain satisfying and this is one of them. With the booze flowing, the leather-clad hipsters jiving and the writers and musicians emoting, the whole thing was pretty groovy.
The first writer to take the stage was Jennifer Werner. I’ve heard Werner read before; she’s hilarious and brutal and wonderful…and she kind of scares the shit out of me in a good way. Last night she was as acerbic as ever, slinging one-liners about whiskey, warm bodies, and “the fat girls who just got skinny and aren’t used to all the attention yet.” Ouch — as someone in the audience next to me exclaimed — painful but effective.
Next came the Dymaxion Quartet, a jazz ensemble whose music is inspired by poetry. The drummer read from Yeats’ “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” and then played the most rockin’ set I’ve seen in a long time. Saxophones, trumpets, drums, guitars — a little bit of heaven.
1. Jenna Esposito and Greg Pszczola are ready for a rumble but came for the jazz. 2. Life imitates art: Leigh Hecking, fiction writer, pals around with Angel Santana (from the band the Allupons) and Kyle Chuasta.
Then came poet Jin Cordaro, who was nominated for a Pushcart Prize last year. Cordaro is petite and adorable and utterly likeable. Then she opens her mouth to read, and then she is ferocious. I was a few drinks in by that point so sadly I can’t read the lines of poetry I tried to copy down in the dark, but I can say that Cordaro held court — and our attention as completely as the thumping-blasting of the Dymaxion Quartet.
1. Readin’ and Rhythm was the brainchild of these two: Dave and Becky Fine-Firesheets, who have the best. name. ever.
The show reached its climax with the last act of the night, an electronic nu-jazz ensemble called Wu Li.
Now, in the efforts of full disclosure, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for musicians. The first boy I ever fell madly in love was a fifteen-year-old jazz guitarist — this was high school in rural Texas — and the whole affair was quite beautiful before he told a classmate he didn’t want to date me because I was “like a Chihuahua.” I’m not sure what that meant but sixteen-year-old me was destroyed. I share the painful episode with you only because back in those days, I never thought I would ever meet anyone as interesting as this punk.
Watching Wu-Li (a truly talented ensemble whose music was fun, upbeat, and totally danceable), I had one of those moments where I realized, “Now this is why I live in New York.” Because on a Sunday night, for free, I could wander into the basement at a bar/library/bocce ball court in Brooklyn and drink wine, see world-class musicians, hear an amazing short story writer and poet read, and be home for dessert.
In the end, the Chihuahua did all right for herself.
–Cassie Hay is finishing her MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a new contributor to Electric Dish.