As you might surmise from the relative silence on this blog in recent times, I've been busy. June has been a hectic month, with lots of gigs and, more importantly, a lot of preparations for gigs as well, so most of my downtime has been spent chilling out recently. This entry is mainly just a round-up of the recent gigs for people following this blog who may not also follow on Twitter or Facebook.
The first major gig in June was the Jibba Jabba Showcase at the Leazes Fringe of Newcastle Green Festival, held at the Trent House. This was the first gig for which I was billed as AJ McKenna instead of my non-writing name (on the flyers at least), but initially it was a gig I wasn't keen to do on the day - not for any big reason, just because I was feeling really tired the day I had to do it. I forced myself to go though, and I'm glad I did because in the end I did an absolutely blistering set - no major surprises, just the usual stuff - Tension, Eggshells, A Short Course in Suicide Writing and On Looking Back into the Mosh Pit - but delivered in a really vigorous, exciting way that went down really well with the packed audience - many of them new attendees who'd came because of the Green Festy connection. I left on a massive high. The lesson here is that, unless you're really, really, seriously bad, you should always, always force yourself off your comfy sofa and out to gigs. It's worth it.
Later in the month came Take Ten at the Cumberland Arms, just this past Thursday. This was a really special gig for me because I performed two new poems - Other Peoples' Things, which I'd written for Monkfish Collective's 'Hand Me Down' extravaganza at Stockton Arc, and My Revolution Will Not Be Trivialised, which I wrote just recently. I was really pleased with the reception both these poems got, particularly the latter, which I was very nervous about reading - but again, I'm glad I did. The feedback was uniformly positive, and the room was pretty much blown away. My only criticism was that in the heat of the moment I altered my set after reading it to finish on Mosh Pit again - I had originally planned to finish on The Secrets, Almost Silent, that We Sang, which I think was a better thematic fit, but I was worried that more strident trans activist poetry might be laying it on a bit thick, so decided to go with something more universal. Probably a mistake, but to be frank after reading Revolution whatever else I read that night didn't make much difference.
But the main reason I've been busy was last night's gig at the launch of Spill Culture Club: a half-hour, curated group performance with other members of Apples & Snakes' Tyneside Scratch Club which featured two poems from me, one, Criminally Fragile, done reasonably straight (or as straight as possible given I was wearing what I now call my 'fuck with gender' outfit of white shirt, black tie, trousers and braces teamed with fabulous make-up [AJ McKenna is brought to you by 'Electric Plum' lipstick from Rimmel London - this concludes this brief word from our sponsor]), and then NSFW, done as what I suppose I ought to call a multimedia performance piece with guitarist Matt Harrison and dancer Angeline Lucas. This was a frankly awesome performance, and the reason I, a usually shy person not much given to the blowing of my own trumpet, french horn, or indeed euphonium, can get away with saying that is that Matt and Angeline did such a good job of bringing the piece to life for me, and for the audience who watched with rapt attention as Angeline literally writhed her way around the words, and around Matt's sumptuous, serpentine guitar riffs. An awesome spectacle, and one I feel privileged to have been part of.
So it's been a busy month! July will be a little quieter, with fewer gigs & rehearsals, as the local writing scene goes into its customary summer break. But I'm really pleased with the way these June gigs have gone; and, as all three gigs have been filmed, I hope to be able to provide followers with links to the performances so you can see them too as soon as I can!