I’M AFRAID OF POETRY.
There, I said it. Felons, death metal or frothing German Shepherds—no problem, I’ll find a way to relate, but poetry…not so much. The very concept has confounded me since my earliest exposure to it in junior high school (excluding those storied sonnets celebrating the anatomy of a certain resident of a large island off the coast of Cape Cod). For the vast majority of my life, I believed poetry to be an infuriatingly unnecessary process whereby one takes a straightforward idea and instead of simply writing it down, dresses up in maddeningly obtuse verse and thorny metaphor, simply to appear clever.
Eventually I abandoned my vapid quest and released all expectations of ever enjoying poetry. Then I saw Rich Ferguson.
A few years ago, at a literary event in Los Angeles, a number of authors were reading from their latest publications, and as the inevitable moment approached when sweat pooled on my brow and my faculties could not absorb one more spoken word, out strolled Rich Ferguson, sporting a floppy straw hat and capri pants, followed by Bo Blount, a tallish fellow with a laptop and guitar. As Bo plugged in, Rich gazed down at the stage, drew in a audibly deep breath and then exploded in a fiery hail of syncopated couplets, jiggy rants and streetwise verse. In those first few seconds, my jaw dropped and my mind was blown. It was poetry, but yet it was pure rock and roll.
Gesturing with the untamed fervency of a Baptist preacher, Rich channeled the mannerisms of Robert Plant, the bouncy snarl of Chuck D and the lyrical incision of Jack Kerouac, while guitarist Bo unleashed chunky waves of thick, filthy riffage. In that explosive wash of sight, sound and verse, I finally got poetry.
Between these live performances, a YouTube channel and his online writing, Rich has transcended the archetype of the humble, dedicated poet, sharing stages with musical icons such as Patti Smith, Exene Cervenka, Loudon Wainwright III and Ozomatli, and he has performed on The Tonight Show, at South by Southwest and in a number of music, film and literary festivals across the world.
Most recently, Rich and Bo released their debut album, Of Wishbones & Gunfire, asWe Voice Sing, a full-length album featuring all-new material. I sat down with Rich to discuss the methods to his madness and his hard-rocking defense of one of mankind’s greatest art forms.
(Joe Daly) How did you and Bo decided to merge your artistic visions into We Voice Sing?
(Rich Ferguson) He was working with a guy named Glenn Still up in Seattle, and they had a collective together called “10K Poets.” Glenn was getting poets together and Bo was creating musical tracks for them. Glenn had seen my work and he contacted me and asked if I could contribute a poem, so I did. Bo had originally produced a piece of music that he was going to use for my poem but when he heard the poem he felt like that piece of music didn’t do the poem justice, so he wrote a brand new track of music. When I heard the final track, I loved it and then I found out that Bo lived in Los Angeles, so we just got in touch and he came to one of my gigs and saw me perform and it just kind of came together. I liked what he was doing and he liked what I was doing and we just decided to write more songs together and see where it could go.
(J.D.) What’s next for We Voice Sing?
(R.F.) We’re at a place where we’re promoting the CD and lining up more shows to play live and do a bit of touring. So we’re kind of in the trenches right now, and it presents a bit of a conundrum, because we’re not an average band, and we don’t really fit into poetry venues either; we’re kind of in this grey area and it presents a bit of a challenge as to where we can play shows. That’s one of our challenges now- finding places where we can play live, because that’s what we want to do. We’re chomping at the bit to play live, so we’re actually thinking of renting a theater here in L.A., just so we can put a big show together.
Los Angeles poet powerhouse Rich Ferguson in collaboration with musician Bo Blount have together created a compilation of art pieces that will blow your mind in sequences. They are "We Voice Sing". We Voice Sing has performed at The Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The DocMiami Film Festival, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Fontana's (NYC), Beyond Baroque (Venice), Molly Malone's (L.A.), The Knitting Factory (NoHo) and other national venues.
Their first studio album, "Of Wishbones and Gunfire" is currently out on Radarless Records.
This album is a fresh look at blatant truths, gentle truths, and simple truths. The truthful poetics of Ferguson's that rides in with Bo Blounts music of which has undeniably come to be born the poetry's twin. The compilation is like the baby's basket of our first lullaby, carrying the words and rocking them, with a pristine and newborn purity that is nothing less than striking and beautiful to hear.
We Voice Sing has performed at The Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The DocMiami Film Festival, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Fontana's (NYC), Beyond Baroque (Venice), Molly Malone's (L.A.), The Knitting Factory (NoHo) and other national venues. Their first studio album, "Of Wishbones and Gunfire" is currently out on Radarless Records.
The record is spoken word at it's finest. And it is also musical composition at it's best in poetry compliment and accompaniment. This album showcases some altogether new pieces, as well as new recordings of the earlier favorites from Rich, like "Butterfly Moon Bed".
"We Voice Sing", the band's name is also a poem of Ferguson's and the album is a strong representation of the cross genre of spoken word and music, with Bo Blounts music and Ferguson's poem, each individually state the same message of the importance and natural beauty of the voice of man as a shaman. Both artists are based here in Los Angeles.
Blount's musicianship is of skillful guitar playing, he is a passionate player and clever in his use of poetry'lectronica. His chordal expressions in musical progressions are a perfect hue of the very soulful words of love or revolutionary driven statements delivered by Ferguson.
The music dutifully lays claim upon the poetry's convictions in every piece, sharing the same drive and urgency in pieces like "Illumination Nation" or the romance of one universal love like in "Everywhere Is Love" which is also one of the many music videos you can watch at Rich Ferguson's youtube channel The end result is an album of poetry and music that unfolds like a match made in heaven. Like Mother and Father, like babies and pelicans, like blueberry pancakes and maple syrup, potatoes 'n gravy, horse and carriage, lowrider cars and hydraulics. Okay - you get it.
No really - GO GET IT. This album is a must have for all lovers of poetry & music.
Rich Ferguson and Bo Blount are We Voice Sing
LA duo’s debut album slams into rock music with soaring poetry
Many of the great rock balladeers of American music who have taken up political and spiritual activism enjoyed a special relationship to the writers of their generations. From the Doors to Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, in some really special cases the singers and songwriters authored poetry themselves -- and their fearless, genre-blurring words and rhythms found their way back into the music studio, and onto the stage. Such is the case with the new collaboration between Rich Ferguson and Bo Blount, WE VOICE SING. Their debut album OF WISHBONES AND GUNFIRE is a tour de force that is first and foremost a rock album, elaborately festooned with emotional percussion, evocative melodies, sexy time beats, and arena-rock vocals -- as well as a sophisticated taste in literature.
Bo Blount has a long resume of projects from playing guitar in bands to composing for film; and his collaborator Rich Ferguson’s own resume’s diversity -- who else links Patti Smith to Ozomatli and Loudon Wainwright -- speaks to the cross-pollination that makes this album not only swooning and playful, but a true work of art. Equally at home on the music festival circuit as the old-school poetry club, WE VOICE SING’s fiery live performance presence translates into the intensity and craftsmanship of the record album, with an aesthetic that is at once elegant and raw, inflamed and deliberate. OF WISHBONES AND GUNFIRE is an impassioned call for listeners to be more engaged in life on all levels, even at the risk of great pain, and the tracks make a point by point case for the beauty of the world and the plan to save it through love.
We Voice Sing ‘Of Wishbones And Gunfire’ is an amazing and titillating album of unparalleled proportion. It begins strongly with a dedication both embracing and engulfing almost everyone in the human family. They seem to understand both the dislocation and inclusionary natures we all possess. This album is as strong a spoken word movement as it is a fluid form of entrancing alternative rock, rebellious and political enough to even be pushing the borders of punk. Somewhere between Bob Dylan and Ginsberg, Bukowski to Kerouac and Morrisey is where we will find this very talented collection of artists. It would be quite unfair to mention that this album also does double time with its urban edge with an unique hip hop element. From the hauntingly addictive musical stylings of Bo Blount to the mystically bewitching lyrics from poet and singer Rich Ferguson you are immediately lifted and transcended into a primal and very carnal world of grinding beats reminiscent of the greatest masters of retro 80′s and 90′s. There is a rough and raw, vulnerable Lpesque quality permeating throughout. The images are especially vivid. This is music to chill to, sing to, dance to, love to, and f*ck to!! There will be no accidental listeners to this work of multidimensional art.
Review: We Voice Sing "Of Wishbones and Gunfire"
I am falling behind on life again but hey what’s life if you don’t lose your marbles every now and again. Antioch recently hosted their June residency and even while I am no longer a student, I decided to go anyway and lost time and lost my mind in the process. More on that in a future update.
I’m very excited to tell you guys about this review. Please welcome spoken word/musical duo We Voice Sing and their debut studio album “Of Wishbones and Gunfire”.
We Voice Sing is comprised of poet Rich Ferguson and musician Bo Blount. I wasn’t sure what to expect but as soon as I heard the first line from the opening track, A Dedication, I knew I was in for a good time:
“This one goes out to all the hard luck insomniacs whose mattresses are filled with a month of Mondays.”
My first thought, Holy shit this is creepy timing. (in reference to my recent and ongoing insomnia.) I often listen to music in my car, parked at some random place. It is like my own little fortress of solitude and ensures less distraction. I listened to it the first time all the way through, feeling my mind warp, trying to grasp the concepts being presented to me. I couldn’t. I gave up trying to analyze and gave myself over to just feeling the words and the music.
From the title track Of Wishbones and Gunfire to Everywhere is Love and Darwin Descending, I was so thoroughly enraptured that I didn’t notice the cops cruising my car for sitting at a park listening to music. (Side note, that was a fun explanation to give.)
When You Call My Name and We Voice Sing had me closing my eyes, raising my hands, and swaying my hips without thought to how silly I looked.
This album had a mix of very mellow and surprisingly heavy tracks on it. I am a fiction writer with very little knowledge of the mechanics of poetry. I do not know how to critique it, so I will not try to explain the words to you know. All I can say is that you will feel something quite beautiful when listening to it.
So bottom line guys, this is an amazing album that you need to have in your life. This is the kind of thing I put on when I am feeling dead on the inside and need to feel life again. (That is so meant to be a compliment, just my version of one.) I listen to it over and over again.
I would also recommend seeing them perform live if you ever have the chance. Go check out the website, Facebook, and Twitter for updates and general awesomeness.
“OF Wishbones and Gunfire” can be purchased from their website, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody, and most other places online that sell music.
On Monday, May 27th at 1pm PST We Voice Sing will appear on "Indies In Motion" hosted by Rick Mizuno.
You can listen live here (Channel 1): www.GVBRadio.com
Or stream the video (also live) here: www.gvbradio.com/indies-in-motion
If you miss the live show, you'll be able to access it later here: www.GVBRadio.com/indies-in-motion
Our thanks to Rick and his staff for graciously allowing us to fill 50 minutes of airtime with our collective story, music, and questionable judgment. We'll be previewing tracks from the upcoming full length "Of Wishbones and Gunfire" and giving away some copies on the air (pre-release).
Hope you can join us!
Rich Ferguson is proud to announce that his first collection of poetry (8th & Agony) is now available through L.A.'s Punk Hostage Press.