Leading up to Raw Refrains Freelance Writer, Johnny Hodder, asked me a few questions about Raw Refrains. The story did not publish, but I figured I would give you the oppotunity to really get to know where Raw Refrains has come from. It is in a very RAW format of Q & A. Enjoy!
WARNING – DO NOT read any further if you want to be inspired
1) Where did the name “Raw Refrains” come from?
Raw Refrains was ultimately the result of playing with some words to do justice to the event. Alliteration always helps makes things a little catchier and I still think it is representative of what the show is all about.
“Raw” because the show is very intimate and stripped down. The songwriters share inspiration behind their songs, which can show a vulnerable side of artists. The same goes for the other artists involved in the show. We are all putting our art out there, which is ultimately placing our souls on display for public consumption.
“Refrains” – In music, a refrain has two parts: the lyrics of the song, and the melody. That is a text book definition from Wikipedia, but for me it is a little deeper. In my opinion our arts scene is incredibly humbling and beautiful, but also tragically sad at the same time. Humbling – in the sense that our artists are creating because they have no other choice but do so. We have so much to give and share with no expectations of anything in return. Sad – in the sense that the majority of our artists are struggling to get by. Refrains also means “to repeat”. St. John’s artists will always create over and over because it has to come out! It something happens great. If nothing happens, well, great. At least we will have evolved artistically and created something new.
2) What was your inspiration for this project?
I have always loved songwriter’s circles/lines. There is something really magical about the energy of artists sharing their love/hate all together on stage. There is a true synergy and respect that happens and I always felt that sincerity was translated into the audience. For me at least anyway!
After travelling Canada and Europe for around 5 years my wife and I decided to move back to NL. I had been in and out of the scene for a number of years, but I never had the chance to build strong relationships with the arts community. I felt this was a perfect way for me to network with the artists of St. John’s.
The show started as a songwriters circle and as I met more and more people I realized that I could completely integrate our arts scene by gradually implementing other forms of art.
I find that each art form has its own clique’s, so I thought it would be cool to bring everyone together under one roof to break down the barriers. I get the personal satisfaction of showcasing other people’s art and helping them gain recognition for their artistic expression of choice.
Raw Refrains provides me with the opportunity to work with artists that inspire me and I get to learn from them. In turn I get their respect and the opportunity to work with them on their own artistic ventures.
I also gain experience in furthering my planning – marketing – promotion – organizational skills for future events on a larger scale. With a Business Degree and lots of ideas, this allows me to exercise my entrepreneurial spirit with no over head costs.
3) What were some of the previous venues? And who were some previous performers?
RR1 – The Fat Cat
Jill Porter – http://www.jillporter.com, http://www.myspace.com/jillporter
Trevor Bennett(Catcher) – http://www.catcher.ca, http://www.myspace.com/catcherband
RR2 – The Fat Cat
Ian Foster – http://www.ianfoster.ca
Blair Harvey – http://www.myspace.com/blairharvey
RR3 – Pier 7 Boat – Nouvelle Orleans
Liz Solo – http://www.lizsolo.com
Chris Kirby – http://www.chriskirbyonline.com, http://www.myspace.com/chriskirbyandthemarquee
Neil Conway – http://www.neilconway.ca
VA’s – Catherine Marshall, Mark Hearn, Kate Dyke, Chris Darroch Biggs
Comedian – Pat Dempsey
Illusionist – James Hawksley
RR4 – The Fat Cat
Michael Bursey – http://www.myspace.com/michaelbursey
Adam Baxter – http://www.myspace.com/adambaxtermusic
VA’s – Libby Nunez, Catherine Marshall
RR 5 – The SHIP
Kalem Mahoney, Melanie O’Brien
VA’s – Steve Thorne, Nicole Button, Allison Rideout
RR 6 – The Rabbittown Theatre
Greg King, Sherry Ryan
VA’s – Ashley Babb, Catherine Marshall, Chad ????, Kendra Miller, Julie Whalan (caricaturist)
Hula-hoop comedy – Sherri Levesque
Theatre – Aiden Flynn
Short Film – Monica Walsh
Illusionist – James Hawksley
Poetry – Anthony Brenton
RR 7 – The Rabbittown Theatre
Jerry Stamp, Colleen Power
Theatre – Phil Goodridge & Amy Anthony
Juggler – James Burke
Poetry – Vanessa Mary Wade
VA’s – Greg Blackwood, Christelle Bishop Hamel
RR 8 – THE SHIP
Maggie Meyer, Kirk Penney
Contemporary Dance – Meghan McCabe
Juggling Art – Highie Newman
VA – Chris Darroch Biggs, Alison Rideout
RR 9 – THE SHIP
Sean Panting, Rick Lambe
Illusion – Peter Duchemin
VA’s – Julie Whalan(Caracaturist), Sophia Marie Meyer
RR10 – THE SHIP
Chris Kirby, Jenny Gear, Sandy Morris
Prose reading – Ian Foster
Belly Dance – Rhonda Barrett
VA’s – Corrine Coleman, Silver Lotus
RR 11 – THE SHIP
Band Edition with Jay Spectre and The Manifest
VA’s – Khagan Aslanov
Spoken word – RN Wagner
Improv Belly Dance – Rhonda Barrett and Andrea Roberts
4) Who else is involved with organizing/launching the event?
Up until present day I have been on my own with the planning. I have had some help from a friend of mine, Kelly Molloy. She has helped get some door prizes and poster printing along with spreading the word. I have not done a show in almost 2 years because I wanted to focus all of my energy on completing my album, “Who Will Listen?” with The Manifest. I wanted to make sure the re-launch of Raw Refrains was tight this time around so I have included some other people.
Mel Smith from http://www.melsmithstudios.com is curating the art exhibit. She is an incredible artist herself and she understands how to do justice to an art exhibit. Previously, I left it to the artists to set up their work, which was OK, but I have no background in curation. I just love art. Now I have someone in charge to take the exhibit and run with it. It is quite refreshing actually.
I have Kevin Kelly from the Newfoundland Herald hosting this show as well, so I do not have to worry about playing that role as well. I can now focus on being the artist and exercising some general quality control instead of being the founder, organizer, promoter, artist, producer, exhibit curator and host…HA! Kevin is a great fit for the show because he gives back to the music scene of NL like no other!
5) With the abundance of talent flooding St. Johns’ streets, how did you choose your performers/artists/presenters?
That is a good question actually. My selection process starts with people that inspire me. Some are established artists that I have been looking up to for years or others who are emerging artists who have made an impression on me.
There are also other people who approach me with interest in taking part as well. I always ensure that the show is well represented with a combination of both established and emerging.
With the Visual Art, Dance, Poetry, Illusion and other forms of art, I used Facebook. It is full of artists; it just takes time to filter out who is who. I would then solicit people to seek interest. Having Mel on board this time around really helps since she really knows who the VA’s are in the city.
6) Can you tell me a little more about the people/organizations taking part in the show?
Not sure exactly what more info I could provide here. The line up speaks for itself. Jody Richardson is someone I have wanted to work with for a long time. His energy through performance is just incredible. I can’t wait to share the stage with him and have fun with the banter among the other artists.
Sean Panting has been an influence of mine for years. He fits so well in the songwriter’s line environment. He is just hilarious and his stories add a great flow to the show.
Rozalind Macphail is a roaming artist who arrived on the rock a few years ago. I first saw her perform at the Rockhouse for a benefit show. She is about as unique as it gets in this city when it comes to songwriting. She implements electronic loops into her show with claves, snyth sounds, guitar and plus she is a Music Major in flute. Very intriguing performer!
Colleen Power has been a staple in the St. John’s scene for years now. She adds to the hilarity and has some really killer songs. Her presence is always a bonus on any stage.
I have also looked up to Liz Solo for so many years for what she has given back to the arts scene in St. John’s. I asked her to share some of the theatrical side of her artistry for this show. She will be performing with her hand puppet side kick Newf the Baby Harp Seal and Robot Comedienne.
In the past I have typically worked with Belly Dnacers for the dance component of the show. However, this time around I am working with contemporary dancers. Andrea Tucker for the first show and Lynn Panting for the 2nd. I am very excited to see some new performances.
I am also pumped to bring Short Films into the Raw Refrains spectrum. The Brimstone has a great set up for showing films on a great projection system. Roger Maunder, first time filmmaker of NIFCO (Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative) will be showing his film “Swallowed”.
The April 2nd show is equally as exciting for me. It is also unique in the sense that it is a female dominated songwriter’s line with Sherry Ryan, Janet Cull and Natalie Noseworthy. Andrew James O’Brien will be adding some testosterone with me as well.
Janet and Natalie are Diva’s and have put off some really incredible shows as of late. I have not worked with either of them in the past, so this thrills me! Sherry and I have done a show or two together before and I just love her gentle folk style to add a rootsy element to the show. Andrew James O’Brien is really exploding on the scene with his band the Searchers right now and his debut album has a lot of hype surrounding it.
Adam Clarke will be providing the comedy for RR#13. He is a referral from funny man Brad Hodder.
Roger Maunder will be having some of his film peers showcase for the second show and Lynn Panting will be showcasing her dance artistry for us. Lynn has her own dance company and is also an amazing actress and musician as well!
7) What do you want people to get out of Raw Refrains? (yourself, other performers, the audience, and community)?
As mentioned previously, I get the pleasure of fostering our arts scene and bringing MORE appreciation towards the talent at our finger tips in this city. I think because St. John’s is so flooded with talent that the general public takes it for granted.
I also get to network and be entertained by new artists. I am here to stay in NL, so the more people I can meet and share wonderful shows with, the better!
For performers I want them to experience true appreciation for their art foremost. Eventually I would like to get into corporate shows so artists can move some of their products and receive some financial return from their performances/showcases. I want the artists to feel the synergy created from the diversity of the art surrounding them as well. We are all artists after all, whatever the medium.
For the audience – I want them to experience how profound our arts scene is. With the diverse array of art happening at the show, the audience will see what exciting projects are happening in their own city. Plus, they get to take some very precious moments that will be created. After all that is what we all crave; memories that we can all cherish through our lives. I think art has that effect. Whether it is a piece of art that they have on their wall for 30 years or the story that a songwriter tells that touches their hearts.
I have explored the arts scene of a number of cities in Canada and Europe and I have never seen anything as profound as what we have to offer in St. John’s. Sometimes I think our people forget that!
8) The Fine Print: How much are tickets? Can people buy them in advance (where)? When is showtime? The venue is The Brimstone Public House on George Street. It is the old O’Rielly’s and is located right next to the old O’Rielly’s. The price is $10.
There are no tickets and this is not a huge venue, so I would strongly recommend getting there early and getting settled in. It is going to be a full house.
Doors open at 9PM for a meet and greet with the artists involved in the show.
Congrats! You made it to the end. Thanks for supporting local art!
Founder, Raw Refrains