Eagle to Squirrel
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Eagle to Squirrel

Band Alternative Spoken Word

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Surprise! The performance of SoulVerses at Mr. Pitiful’s Wednesday night ranks as one of the most interesting and engaging shows I’ve seen at Cincy Fringe over the years. There were only a handful of theatergoers sitting in easy chairs and around tables in the bar’s comfortable old-school lounge, but this didn’t seem to faze the performers, who gave it their last shot of energy.

The performance was neatly divided into two parts: a white group and a black group. I don’t mean to sound simplistic or crass, but race was an integral part of each group’s identity and one reason why the pairing worked so well.

While there were numerous musical influences on the performances, I would characterize the evening primarily as a poetry slam. The first group was “Eagle to Rabbit,” consisting of a character known as Keys on the electronic keyboard and saxophone and a guy calling himself Boom Boom as the chief poetic ranter and seer. The group was filled out by the Eagle to Squirrel dancers, who occasionally provided visual accompaniment to the proceedings.

Although the jazz sax was smooth and the belly-dancing artful, poetry was the star of this show. By turns relentless, sincere, punkish, political, image-laden and often opaque, it was at times reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and sometimes reminded me of Patti Smith’s late ’70s incantations. The energy displayed was galvanized by this group’s extreme need to communicate.

“Lyrical Insurrection” followed with a stronger Hip Hop feel, emphasizing a more straightforward, personal, even autobiographical style. A recurring theme was the lack of identity felt by the black woman of today, a situation driven largely by media that have created our prevalent reality.

Three women on the stage called themselves The Silent Poet, Rewop Powers and Black Butterfly. They excoriated us for giving in to media stereotypes concerning ourselves and others, daring us to overcome our trivial material desires and to live in a more open and even more spiritual reality.

Divine Prince Hakiym challenged us with poetic thoughts such as “I was there the night the earth cried. We all cried.” During his intense monologues, Hakiym went among the tables in the lounge, entreating audience members to listen and to take responsibility for their actions. At the same time, the women are planted around the space, encouraging him with the enthusiastic call-and-response pattern used in black churches.

Trying to describe poetry by using prose feels like being a fish out of the water. Suffice it to say that this was an evening of high energy and emotion as well as a fierce desire to challenge and communicate with the audience. For this reviewer, these are some of the hallmarks of a rewarding and entertaining evening.

- CityBeat— Mark Sterner


Discography

CD forthcoming.
tracks can be found on eagletosquirrel.com

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Bio

In 1998 in a small little house in Clifton two persons from opposite sides of the world meet and undertake the most passive passage known to mankind: The Bong ‘n’ Couch Years. Since then, the convergence of paths have waxed and waned, sometimes together, and sometimes apart. But they have never lost sight of the thing that they had in common: the Basement. And performance. They have hit keys, strummed strings and even yapped on mics together. Now as time has passed, J (now focusing much of his time on production) and Nick (who has just released a chapbook titled Rockets on Bibles) have begun a new project that has merged slick and gregarious electric grooves with the soul power of freeform flows