I would normally write an intro about my dear friend and collaborator - but I said it all in the video! Enjoy, Jenny
Roadblock – A Haiku Milieu collaboration
It started with Jenny’s haiku. I get a new one every Sunday morning, accompanied by a photo that I assume inspired the poem (or maybe it’s the other way around). Not just Sundays, Jenny posts miscellaneous haikus whenever she is inspired.
Then there’s the invite. It is fortuitous that I am in her orbit. When I saw this particular haiku and photo I was listening to Slim Harpo and that early rock n roll/electric blues started dancing with the haiku words. The color photo turned black and white.
There is nothing overly sophisticated about the lyrics. I read a history of the Country Blues, the pre-electric roots. The author talked about the difficulty black writers had describing the oppression and expressing the anger they felt towards the boss man. Repercussions would be devasting.
So they masked their protests in songs of love gone wrong. Often referring to lovers as the devil (see Cross and Evil Woman by Blind Gary Davis, Black Rat Swing by Memphis Minnie, Dealing With the Devil by Brownie McGhee). I employed a similar device to express any grievance one might have; in a job, a relationship, figuring out your cable bill.
The song came quick. Words and music in twenty minutes. I wanted the performance to develop in a similar manner and asked my mates (Paul Bivans, Andon Davis, Michael Krayniakand Chris Neville) if they’d be up for booking time with Blaise Barton at Joyride Studio to learn the song on the spot, record it and film it for a live video (actually a few minor over-dubs). They relished the idea of not rehearsing (artistically andbecause we all rather disdain rehearsal). Blaise too liked the idea of miking the studio for a live performance, no headphones, let it bleed, as the Rolling Stones might say.
And last but far from least, the cinematographers. I asked Bob Ness, David Kindler and Mike Janowski (who unfortunately had prior a commitment) to shoot the video while we recorded. We all worked together a few years earlier on the video for Roosevelt Road by Cannonball. I gave no instruction other than I’d like to see if it would work in black and white.
As I have come to realize, there is no need for to give much input. Bob and Dave’s instincts were true to the haiku, the song and the immediate vibe. I am not versed in the language of a video critic but you can see that Bob treated the black and white footage in a way to give it a newsreel look. The quick cuts and edits keep up with the song’s tempo. They did not focus in on me or anyone else out of proportion. It captures the “let’s gather and do this now” method that we approached the project with.
We look forward to our next collaboration!
- Terry White