Saturday, 27 June 2015


So for the third time in less than a week I found myself up on stage in front of an audience introducing some fine artists as we presented our evening of poetry and music 'Urban Graffiti' as part of the 2015 Stevenage Arts Festival.
For me this was one of the most nerve wracking moments as, you see, I had organised this evening and it really relies on all of our performers choosing suitable sets and sticking to their allotted times.
I needn't have worried, everyone did a splendid job and a damn fine night was had by all.

From the official festival program:-

Our poster for the event:-

We had a good audience which included both the chair of the Arts Festival Committee and the leader of Stevenage Borough Council no less + we were graced by the presence of not one but two of the official festival photographers!

After welcoming the audience and special guests I did a short introductory talk about Parnassus and then a couple of poems to lead us into the evening proper.

OK, here we go again.
 Our first performer was the lovey Francesca June singing us into the evening's proceedings:_

Francesca June
Our first poet of the evening (Other than me) was the very talented and successful author J. S. Watts who entertained us with some dark and some humorous tales:-
J S Watts
Following on, the next poet was the irrepressible Graeme Lloyd with his amusing but very observant poetry, most entertaining indeed.

Graeme Lloyd
After Graeme's set Francesca was back to sing us a song before the welcome return of Nick Brown in his 'Smokin' Dick Burns' persona, now it must be said that sometimes Nick crosses the line into a little too, shall we say, 'adult' humour but not tonight, risque of course, funny as anything, a really entertaining set.

Smokin' Dick Burns
Nick took us nicely into our interval, a time to socialise, get more drinks from the bar and to ready ourselves for the second half.

We kicked off the second half with the wonderful 'Purple Dread' (a.k.a. Joy T Chance) with her bitter sweet and acutely observed poems about love, life and the world.

Purple Dread
Fran came back on with another fine song and then it was time for something completely different, Sarah Power has been a member of Parnassus since she was a teenager, she is now of course a mum of teenage children and working with her son on guitar has completely reinvented the humorous spoken work to music genre with 'Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy', their set this night was brilliant, so funny, any parent will identify and of course anyone who has waited in all day for an Amazon delivery!

Sarah and the Powerpuff Boy
How on earth could we follow that? Well with Chris Ripple of course, Chris delivered one of the most heartfelt, emotive and politically astute sets I have ever seen him do, the passion he puts into his poetry has to be heard to be believed especially those concerning Africa and this comes straight from the heart from first hand experience not some pseudo poncy political stance, as most people know Chris and Haddy are 'Over here' and the three youngest of their children are 'over there' in a country with a particularly unstable regime, my heart goes out to them.

Chris Ripple, you could feel the emotion.
With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes (Which I may have tried but failed to disguise) after I brought Chris off stage it was time for Francesca to sing us one last song before I closed the show with the poem I wrote as a tribute to my mum.

And that was us done and dusted for another two years, as far as Stevenage Festival performances are concerned but we'll be back,individually and or collectively because well, just because we will!

Many thanks to the Stevenage Arts Festival Committee and the staff at the Gordon Craig Theatre for all the behind the scenes hard work and our audience and of course to all of the above performers without whom this splendid evening would not have been possible.

Cheers one and all.

Grant Meaby June 2015

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