J.W. Baz
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J.W. Baz

Band Spoken Word Comedy

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Last night I was at the Seattle performance of Chicago writer J.W. Baz’s one man show “No one Can Fix You.” at the Fremont Abbey. Two thumbs solidly held way, way up.

Now let’s be honest, when someone under the age of 60 tells you he is working on his memoir, does a little voice in your brain say, “Oh no.” Does the dread increase if he adds, “Yeah, I’ve just had so much crazy stuff happen to me in my life, I had to write it down.” It’s not that I’m against memoir as a genre, it’s just that I think it is a great challenge for a writer to figure out which elements of his life are relevant to other people. It seems like a lot of young writers are writing memoir to reassure themselves about the value of their lives and want to bring you along on the journey of reinforcing their own egos.

I am happy to report that J.W. Baz walks the line of intriguing self-reflection marvelously in his one-man show. Telling the story of his life through love, relationships, addiction and writing/touring, Baz tells revealing, funny, tragic stories with wit. I had the feeling that Baz wasn’t trying to make me come to a particular conclusion about his life and who he is, he presented himself nakedly on stage but with style, more of a burlesque show than a striptease.

I know Baz from poetry slam and I’m always so excited to watch spoken word artists infiltrate other genres. The writers who are graduating from slam are seeping into all other areas of literary involvement and it is pretty thrilling to see what chemical mixing is taking place. It takes a little time for most writers to learn to really hold and audience for a 3 minute poem, then to graduate to a 15 minute set. Baz blasted right into a gripping 90 minute show and made it look easy! In fact, he made it look so easy, that it is almost too easy for forget how hard it is to do what he has done.

Baz didn’t have a director for this show, he had an editor. Seeing the show, I find that fact astounding. The pacing of the show is fantastic, the humor is masterfully placed and the simple staging is extremely effective. For 90 minutes, Baz went on from sitting in a chair to reading from a notebook to pacing around and all the choice were good ones. It helps everything run smoothly that Baz is naturally funny

To sum it up…SEE THIS SHOW! This was Baz’s first performance outside of Chicago and I really hope he manages to take it on the road for real. You other slam scenes, please help Baz make this happen. Your poets will become better writers from seeing it and we will all help spoken word take another little evolutionary step.
- Karen Finneyfrock, author, "Welcome to the Butterfly House"


Discography

Poet Laureate of Apt. 2E - 2006
Love Crimes, Etc - 2007

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Bio

Equal parts poignant and perverse, hilarious and heart-wrenching, the career of writer-performer J.W. Baz is defined by duality. While some critics can’t stand him, countless others have offered considerable acclaim, even going so far as to call him, “his generation’s Lenny Bruce.” Baz’s raucous live shows and uncanny ability to engage an audience has garnered him a reputation as one of the most compelling figures in the world of spoken word. His work has appeared on NPR, in the Chicago Tribune, and in hundreds of venues, universities, and high schools across the United States and Canada. In February of 2009, Baz premiered his original one man dramedy, No One Can Fix You, to rave reviews. Due to an overwhelming demand across the country, the show is set to become a touring production in the fall.

As a slam competitor, Baz was a finalist at the 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam and twice finished in the Top Ten at the U.S. National Poetry Slam as a member of Team Chicago. To date, he has released two full-length albums of poetry, Poet Laureate of Apt. 2E (2006) and Love Crimes, Etc. (2007), and has completed two national tours in their support. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well for a guy who failed Creative Writing in high school.

“There is hope for this art form and on some days that hope is called J.W. Baz.”
-Ed Mabrey, 2007 Individual World Slam Champion

“J.W. Baz’s voice is at once smooth and harsh, like a peach rubbed across concrete. He finds the broken joy in every back alley, the hallelujah in a bar room, and when you’re done, you’ll want to share the last drops of the dregs of life with him, arms around each other’s shoulders, laughing at the beautiful pain of it all.”
-Gabrielle Bouliane, curator, Livepoets.com