The dust has settled and HUB Festival Cardiff has come and gone for another year. Over HUB weekend endless talent was showcased at The Moon, Club Ifor Bach, Fuel, Tiny Rebel, City Arms, Sully’s Café and other nearby venues including the Angel Hotel, even Womanby Street itself acted as a stage for music, spoken word rap, breakdancing and more. Three solid afternoons and nights of performances and partying for everyone who made HUB their August Bank Holiday destination!
Much love to all who stopped off at Tiny Rebel for the Megaverse afternoon sessions on Saturday and Sunday to witness the poetic, comedic, heart rending and the occasionally alarming words spoken, chanted, ranted and sung by all who stepped behind the mic. Thank you Saturday and Sunday Headliners Susan Evans and Rufus Mufasa
The two sessions of Megaverse featured several loud incursions from bands playing at HUB upstairs at Tiny Rebel and passing drummers outside at one point…But a festival is a festival and sometimes cultural melting pots get noisy! So there’ll be no whinging about it! Well, other than hoping for acoustic music upstairs in future 😉
Here’s a look back at how it all went down…Featuring pics by Susan Evans, Fran Smith, Dave Daggers, Patrick Widdess, Karolina and me, Will Ford (Megaverse organiser and host)…
HEADLINER: SUSAN EVANS
Welcoming everyone after an (unavoidably) late start I let some words loose
Opting for ‘loud, raucous and silly’ then ‘quiet and reflective’ my aim was to say from the outset ‘expect changes of tone at this event.’ Then came the impressively poised recitations of actual Doctor of Literature THOMAS TYRRELL
Delivering impassioned humorous (and tragic) Pirate Themed ballad poetry from his expansive and expanding word medicine chest, Dr Thomas Tyrrell revelled in commanding the ship until his voyage was done and it was time for the ever increasingly impressive presence of ROSIE BUF
Conveying strength borne of surviving the trials of life and clearly wishing to encourage the same strength in others
Rosie accepted her deserved applause humbly and left the mood of the room open for the soul baring poetry of MARK CURTIS
Mark has truly found a home in performing his words, as catharsis for himself and to reach out to anyone who feels like a lost soul to let them know they do not struggle alone, that life itself is the light to look towards.
Speaking of light, next to perform was FRAN SMITH
Reading from her book Parousia, Fran is an avid believer in the healing light than can be sought out around us and generated from within, where, left untended, that which is dark can prevent us operating at our best and even be the cause of physical ailments.
Her words and her work as a therapist complement each other and holistically express her life mission! Another poetic eye looking for pearls in the ocean of life’s torment followed Fran, in the form of LAZ LAZARUS
Returning to performing after taking a time out, Laz was as striking a presence as ever, and though not on the bill originally wished to read after not doing so in a while and it was possible to fit him in (sadly because some readers unfortunately not being able to make it). Laz made the room his own for the duration of his stint. As did JOHNNY GILES
Prolific with the pen, voracious in reading all the poets he can, and unsparing in self-examination, Johnny brought his multi-layered passion for the art of poetry to the mic once again and among his pieces read the title piece from one of his books, ‘Chalk Outlines’ raging against the industrial machinery of war. This political tone continued with the next performer, DES MANNAY
Self-styled as ‘The Hooligan Poet’ Des regularly seeks to eviscerate those that run/ruin society to benefit almost none of us, at the expense of almost all of us. The angst of the working class as usual emanated from him as a palpable nervous energy and determination that he will say what he must say. Contrasting tonally totally with Des was the next performer, his very young son, WILL MANNAY
Very young Will has accompanied his father to many gigs and finds the whole shebang cool fun and has started taking to the mic himself and was very comfortable there. Quite the double act with his dad! Less laid back delivery came next, from ADRIAN JONES
Adrian told anyone likely to offer small talk about baking to offer it to someone else by humorously bellowing frustration at hearing people talk of ‘Lemon Sponge’ He wasn’t all about the cake conversation hate though, also reciting pieces including Dear Fear (which in his other guise as Ade Skeleton, he sang as a song as part of another HUB gig the next day). He also name-checked his friend and mine, the next performer DAVE DAGGERS.
Before I could introduce Dave an audience member asked if I would please do a piece (I had said earlier forget about my stuff time is tightening up, due to late start so let’s get on but I agreed to the request). I went for satire, acapella singing ‘The Circle of Death (Goes Round and Round)
People clapped along, joined in with the refrain of ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb’ and partway through ukulele accompaniment arrived from Dave, who continued with the good natured strumming, to his own mostly comic ditties, including French Love Songs!
And next up…
LOOK! IT’S GEMMA JUNE HOWELL!
Gemma grabbed Megaverse by the scruff of the neck and told it what’s what as she read from her book ‘Rock Life: 17 Poems from the Welsh Valleys’ (taking great joy in pointing out an editor had once told her it was ‘too valleys’ to be considered for publication…by literally pointing out the editor who was in the audience, taking it all rather well that he had been wrong on this one, and (my assessment) had almost done the equivalent of turning down Irvine Welsh for being ‘Too Scottish’).
In the idiom of the voices she grew up surrounded by, Gemma told tales of basically, forgotten/ignored women bantering their way through their forgotten/ignored lives, both viciously and lovingly, having to be forces of nature to survive, taking no guff, taking no prisoners. Which pretty much sums up Gemma’s performance…
…swiftly followed by the headline act, SUSAN EVANS
Susan stormed it again at MEGAVERSE after travelling all the way from Brighton to HUB for the second year running. Fulsome in her praise for the other performers on the bill, she once again combined strident and gentler emotions with a disarming air of truly believing that it is a privilege to have an audience to perform for.
As mentioned earlier, the schedule had gotten tight. Generously, Susan had offered to cut her set shorter, offering me a little extra performance time but when she asked “What would help?” I said “What would help is if you go out there and just rip it up.” So she did, with passionate and rousing renditions including ‘Brighton,’ ‘Doorways,’ ‘Pride,’ ‘Murder on the Gatwick Express,’ and ‘Moon on a Stick’
Susan’s work/words/performances navigate a path through life in all its aspects and emotions, issues, people and places. Her collection ‘Shift Happens’ is in the pipeline and has a cover that will look like this:
And thusly ended the first of the two MEGAVERSE sessions at HUB Festival Cardiff 2018. Thank you everyone for your words, your performances, and your goodwill, which has been always been so crucial to me being able to organise MEGAVERSE events. And now…
MEGAVERSE: SUNDAY SESSION
HEADLINER – RUFUS MUFASA
With a wholly different line up (other than me), MEGAVERSE returned to Tiny Rebel less than 24 hrs later.
With apologies to Tammy Wynette, my ‘warm up the room pieces’ for the Sunday MEGAVERSE session included Trump parody ‘Defy This Man’. Donald Trump is, after all, the satirist’s gift that keeps on giving. Having introduced ‘fight the power’ flavoured words to the session, I called up someone very well-schooled in more ‘officially recognised’ poetic forms, traditional and obscure, BRYAN MARSHALL
Bryan Marshall has had many a sonnet, triolet, haiku and golden shovel (yes that’s a real poetic form!) flow from his pen. At MEGAVERSE we were treated to his gentler side exploring love and sad losses, as well as his element of surprise, on this occasion a forcefully delivered ‘sound poem’ could be read to convey anger or despair or any other feeling with merely a change of intonation because it contains nothing I recognised as any actual words!
When Bryan was done, up stepped the effortlessly cool behind the mic, the wise, the calm, the apparently born to do this sort of thing wordsmith MAGGIE NASH
And next came a singer whose songs and vocals suggest she could if she chose, be either the next Tracey Thorn (of Everything But the Girl) or the next Victoria Wood, instead of which she has chosen the best option, to be who she is, CATRIN DAVIES
Catrin managed, in the space of three songs to depict three very different female experiences, each complete in its own crystallised form and as humorous/heartfelt/lovelorn as the subject matter and her chosen perspective on it demanded. Very happy that Catrin, until recently a Cardiff resident was able to be back for MEGAVERSE! Next up, MAT TROY
Mat explores many forms, stories, stand up and poetry, in often simultaneously intellectually arch and surreal ways and I may or may not recall him tell of working on a project based around The Mandela Effect. On this occasion, Mat regaled the room with ‘Bromeo’.
And then Mat was followed behind the MEGAVERSE microphone by Brecon based and regular reader at Cardiff poetry nights, GARETH WRITER-DAVIES
Yes, he really is a writer with the word ‘Writer’ as part of his name and yes, that is his real name. And his two books ‘Bodies’ and ‘Cry Baby are real books, containing mostly brief, laconic poems that can either tease a smile while hinting at inner wounds, or apparently be describing inner wounds in a manner that makes you smile.
Gareth has been accused of looking like Jeffrey Rush and Griff Rhys-Jones. Neither accusation has been levelled at the reader who came next, PATRICK WIDDESS
Former Newport resident/Cardiff spoken word scene regular, Patrick now has to travel from Norwich to read in Cardiff and it was good to see him do so. Previously he has railed against the notion of reading poetry from phones, but this time he opened with an assertion of who he is, where he is coming from and exactly how his name should (and should not) be pronounced. Often cutely surreal in his approach to a poem, see his book ‘Feeding the Spacemen’ for solid evidence of that and many approaches to writing poetry in his guide to writing 30 poems in 30 days ‘Poetry Non Stop’. Patrick did not perform non stop, he amused and created wonder and mystery for a while and then was followed by GARETH TWAMLEY
Among his pieces for MEGAVERSE was Gareth’s pharmaceutically humorous Trip Advisor, narrating the highs available from various non legal concoctions. But…STOP THE PRESS just over a year ago, he was being hailed for a personal best of 92m in the art of stone skipping, with his sights on the world record of 107m…which though true, sounds very much like the kind of thing that might come up in conversation if one happened to be tripping one’s box off, as one may well be if following the guidance of Trip Advisor! A man of many talents and interests! Next up was KATY EVANS-BUSH
Illness and other irksome aspects of life kept a few planned readers away on the day, but the performers present filled in some of the space that had opened up and waiting in the audience, willing to read but hoping for (and getting) a pause in the music from upstairs was the author of ‘Forgive the Language,’ ‘Me and the Dead’ and ‘Egg Printing Explained,’
Katy(thank you for stepping up and sharing your work!) was then followed dressed like, but not actually a scientist or doctor…GORDON ANDERSON
Gordon has been known to don costume before, but this is the first time he has looked like this, adding the air of detached scientist to his observations, notably a piece entirely constructed from odd things he once overheard other people saying while on a short walk, which he originally vocally recorded while what he heard was fresh in his mind, before converting it to a piece he could deliver to an audience. Wry and sometimes dark humour, and also exploring the contradictions of what is supposed to be meant by the word ‘Man’ crop up in Gordon’s words and work.
Next up, despite her unplanned absence from the event came an acapella rendition of ‘Wild Dog Rose’ by BEL BLUE
I did my best to do justice to the song, though I had to sing it louder than planned due to sound from upstairs. But the song is a clarion call from the soul to be true to yourself, to grow strong like a Wild Dog Rose, whatever ground you find yourself in and the circumstances certainly fitted the sentiment the song expresses. MEGAVERSE missed having Bel physically there, but it was an honour to be trusted to sing one of her songs, which grow from her personal experiences and are pieces of her very soul.
And also drawing deeply from the wellspring within was the next performer, having travelled all the way from Southampton to be at HUB Megaverse, up stepped…
ISSA LOYAAN FARRAH
The music from upstairs stood no chance against Issa’s booming delivery, causing something of a disjuncture between the domineering presence of the man and the questions within his soul, that find no easy answers in this world
Finally, MEGAVERSE at HUB was drawn to its conclusion
by a truly awesome performance from RUFUS MUFASA
Rufus had performed songs the day before at HUB at the City Arms, was programmed to perform again later the same HUB Sunday at the Angel Hotel and was about to embark on a week of creating/rehearsing with dance group Joon Dance to produce the latest of a series of performances in a project called TONGUES that fuse dance/music/spoken word into a cohesive whole, offering young people various paths for self-expression!
Giving everything she has to everything she does, RUFUS certainly delivered the passion for MEGAVERSE, leaning into and working with the music from upstairs, raising her voice to be heard above all else that would otherwise drown it out, asserting and being herself against all challenges. I worded it that way because it totally gels with the piece Rufus roared out about the joys and challenges associated with becoming a parent, the responsibility to curate the future for the young while seeking to keep some sense of being an independent person and keep being creative.
If you didn’t already know, hip-hop is another field in which Rufus has long been sowing creative seeds, so in addition to thanking her for her emotional and emotion inducing performance at MEGAVERSE I would like to say hey you, why not by the album ‘Fur Coats From the Lion’s Den’ by Rufus Mufasa! It has a cover that looks like this:
PS, because of the time it took for me to fit in writing this blog, I did go to see the Dance/Music/Spoken Word Fusion performance ‘Tongues’ at Chapter Arts Centre and can report it was awesome, and you should keep an eye out for any future performances from the project! Thank you once again, Rufus Mufasa!
PEACE AND LOVE TO ALL!
THANK YOU HUB FESTIVAL!
THANK YOU TINY REBEL!
THANK YOU PERFORMERS AND FEATURE PERFORMERS!
THANKS ALL WHO CAME TO WATCH THE PERFORMERS PERFORM!
THANK YOU ALL WHO TOOK PICTURES
THANK YOU TINY MINORITY WHO READ EVERY WORD OF VERY LONG BLOGS!
Like James Bond…MEGAVERSE WILL RETURN…