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spacer.gif   D-SETTLEMENT UNPLUGGED
Posted by : cj on Saturday, December 04, 2004 - 03:07 PM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines GUILD COMPLEX HOSTS AN UNPLUGGED MARVIN TATE'S D-SETTLEMENT GUILD COMPLEX, CHOPIN THEATER, APRIL 10, 2002

Guess what. Mario's back at the Guild Complex. And though he's got some catching up to do, it was Mario who said it best, when he described Chicago poet Marvin Tate with the line: "the tsunami in his throat wipes away any doubt." Well, if there was any doubt that Hot House regulars D-Settlement might pull something off greater than what was a decade ago a George Clintonesque experiment into setting Tate's confessional poetry and character studies to music, then the new CD American Icon is the mother tsunami. Judging by how this evening's often frenzied celebration nearly bridged on the speaking in tongues, this new work from the author of Schoolyard Of Broken Dreams (Tia Chucha Press) and crew transcends the expected and the norm, defies the money making sameness of modern culture, while mixing traditional genres to create a range of emotions, and blasts off like a well rehearsed volcano to smolder trendy pop with a certain genuineness, brimming the rim with its honesty: it is a creation two years in the making which is a collaboration of nine talented artists' blood, sweat and tears: a dream realized. Exaggerate I do not.

The very first CD release party for American Icon was an intimate though loud one, set where so many great poets have appeared before, in the dark basement of the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division, with bad stage lighting not distracting but adding to the informality of the event, and a near rebellion into beer drinking and cigarette smoking adding to the party atmosphere for the poets and the many visiting college students in attendance. You have to just love the Guild for allowing it happen. In grand Guild Complex fashion, an eclectic gang of open mic. poets warmed up the stage with tight literary works, including performances by Billy "Karma" Tuggle, Karen Stockwell, David Gonzalez from Devry, as well as a 77 year old Joffre Stewart--popping vitamins to ward off the return of the cancer chemotherapy cured him of in 1980 (and, who was recently arrested for trying to pass out his often anti-Semitic sounding poetry at a peace forum, and who, after refusing to go to court over the incident, was literally kidnapped, drugged and examined in the head before being forceably wheeled into a courtroom--only to have the judge throw out the case)--oh, also reading was Tina Mock, as well as a dazzling display of wordmanship by Paul Mabon, who performed an insightful piece about "rehearsing for the cliques."

Marvin Tate and D-Settlement finally came out onto the stage with white sheets draped over their bodies (Tate with a noose around his neck), an eerie sight which set the mood for the sometimes seriousness of American Icon, as often contradictory lines such as the humorous "should we let him play in the NBA" were recited against the backdrop sounds of a mob lynching. Next, Tate attempted a solo oldy but goody ("I am a sometimes poet"), spat it out until he literally started spitting, and then gave it up, sat down, got comfortable and demanded a beer. F**k it. Why not relax and enjoy the party? His band joined in to demonstrate for us a unique blend of jazz, blues, rock and gospel, which all added up to an alternative collection of neo bottle swinging bar songs. There was a bit of everything thrown into the mix, with segues from one genre to the next abruptly punching out Tate's original statements, like the movement from the misery of what sounded like the song of a slave right into a bouncy I'll be damned if it ain't a punk finalé. So avant garde it was that it seemed to despite itself and become marketable in its energy, with uplifting rhythm and blues numbers suddenly seized by the fever dream of sixties, psychedelic shit--all jam packed within the fun and entertainment of a burlesque show. It's outer limits stuff like American Icon which can become very, very addictive. Get your dosage of American Icon for ten bucks at your local D-Settlement show.

--C. J. Laity

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