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Rounding it Up

August 20, 2013

Round 5 was the last round of the preliminaries and we had another great show of talent. Our guest judges for the week were Nick Peay, Sultra Diviine, and Daniel Hill. Nick Peay, front man for local rock band OK Zombie, has two solo EPs, Life & Love & Us and Feathers & Fables. A true singer-songwriter, Nick treated us to some of his tunes at the end of the show. Be sure to check out his site here to find out where to see him next. Sultra Diviine is one-half of the local musical duo, CPHR DVN. There was a time I called them my favorite local hip-hop artists. I no longer feel right making that statement. In a way, it is still very true. However, categorizing them as hip-hop artists just isn’t fair. They somehow manage to transcend hip-hop while still taking it back to its roots. Their music is a ethereal experience full of not just hip-hop, but classical, reggae, trip-hop and rock. Even as a writer, I can’t describe it, you have to hear it. They probably describe themselves best when they say “Hip-Hop alchemists, lyrical metaphysicists, and quantum dancers.” Although Sultra won’t describe herself as a spoken word artist, I will. Her writing is honest and beautiful and my ears love it every time she steps to the mic, as writer or musician. Daniel R. Hill, aka D.R. Hill, is poet, spoken word artist, playwright, director and actor. It has been a long time since I have seen him on the mic because he stays busy as the now Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Louisville. He always brings something unique and fresh to the mic, but since I didn’t let him know he could perform a piece to get us started, he instead did an amazing reading of whatever he could find on his phone. In this instance, a recipe. Be sure to check out the next play he will be directing, “Sylvia,” running February 26, 2014 – March 2, 2014 at the Thrust Theatre.
Ok, enough about us judges again. On to the talent! First up Matthew Presley, the “Bard in Blue,” graced the mic with his words once again. This weeks piece was titled “Vibration.” It was one I had not heard before and is now one of my favorites from this writer. Next was Maree Ecrevan, a beautiful soul I have had the pleasure of hearing once before. She shared “Gertrude Stein in Blue” and it was a lovely piece that brought a smile to my lips. Maggie Green was on the mic next. I did not catch the title of Maggie’s short story, but it had me laughing. Her story was a comical piece that brought quite a few giggles from the judges and audience. Unfortunately, it also brought a lot of giggles from Maggie herself! Performing on stage is difficult, but holding composure goes a long way. I would love to see and hear Maggie again and were this not the last week for the preliminaries, I would have definitely encouraged her to come back. Louis O’Neal gave us a very personal piece with his poem “Addiction.” With a raw honesty, Louis’ deep baritone voice brought us into his world. Jeremy Lane came back for a second week and his quirky way once again had me smiling. Robin Bensinger also brought an emotional poem, “Thoughts on Transcending Violence.” Her beautiful, positive outlook on life is a refreshing tone in the world of poetry and spoken word. Clayton Williams was up next for his second try at the competition. Last time he gave us an excerpt of a novel, but this time it was a poem. I loved that he has range and is willing to deviate and take a chance on stage. Anthony Trotter, Jr. has been our regular face each and every week. Although he is a regular face in the crowd and on the stage, his pieces take on something new every week. This week’s was titled “Fugazi.” Flexibility and variety are important and I appreciate that he has that balance of newness and familiarity every time I see him perform. I was very happy and excited to see Heather Brandenburg was back for another go. This week’s story, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” was delightfully macabre and her performance was eerily beautiful. I wish I could hit “rewind” just to hear and see it again. This woman has something quite special. Our last writer this week was another returning contestant, Gwen Pearce. Her poem, “Angels,” was a lovely way to end a lovely night.
I was ecstatic that Anthony Trotter, Jr. and Heater Brandenburg took first and second place respectively. Anthony also once again took the audience award. I have enjoyed their offerings each week they have participated and cannot wait to hear what they bring to the semi-finals. See you there!

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