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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In the Round 34: Tara Ward, Sonny Votolato, John Van Deusen

posted by on March 12 at 11:44 AM

The Round is a really great concept—get a bunch of musicians together, put ‘em on the stage in a room with poets and painters, and then put an audience in front of them. Everyone takes their turns sharing a song or a poem, and while that happens, painters work diligently on the side of the stage. Now and again you can glance over to see their pieces come together.

intheroundpainting.JPGPainter Jesse Brown

Last night’s installment featured musicians Sonny Votolato (and his Blue Checkered Record Player bandmates), John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, and Tara Ward of Late Tuesday. There were a couple poets, and a couple painters including Jesse Brown. Early in the night, it felt a little weird—like a coffeeshop singer/songwriter jam session with actually decent music. But nothing too extraordinary.

Things really started to come together in the second half, though. Sonny, John, and Tara took advantage of the possibilities the Round offers them. John Van Deusen let loose, covering a song by his favorite band, XTC. He asked the crowd for help—yelling out “Woo hoo!” in the chorus.

Here’s John Van Deusen covering XTC’s Statue of Liberty.

Tara Ward followed that up with a cover too, a Flight of the Conchords song about tape. Almost everyone in the room knew it—they all sang the chorus and waved their hands in the air at the end.

Here’s Tara Ward singing a song from Flight of the Conchords, enlisting everyone in the room’s help.

Sonny Votolato laughed when he said he was going to bring things back down again, but he debuted a song that he hadn’t really played before (in fact, he might have written some of the lyrics during intermission). It was my favorite of the night. I wish I recorded it.

As for the poetry, well, I don’t get poetry. I’ve been to one slam event in my life and it was pretty bad. That was years ago, though. Last night, I wasn’t super into all the stuff they performed, BUT! There were two poems, one by each writer, that I thought were great. One was about imagination and Dr. Suess and not being afraid to be a little weird (photo below). I could totally relate. Another was a heartbreaker, a story about a favorite uncle who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was smart and funny and really well delivered. I’ll admit it, it left a heavy lump in my throat.


The Round has a couple more impressive line-ups in the near future. On Saturday, March 29, there’s a bonus round with Sarah Shannon, Jon Auer, and poets from Seattle Poetry Slam. And on April 8th, Shane Tutmarc of Dolour and the Traveling Mercies and Eric Howk from the Lashes and Palmer, AK are the musical guests. (I just saw Palmer, AK open for Harvey Danger last weekend and they were great—strong songwriting with harmonies and a with a more heart on your sleeve approach than the Lashes.) Visit for more info.

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