Totem Maples

Totem Maples

 Los Angeles, California, USA
BandAlternativeSpoken Word

Winners of the 2013 Independent Music Awards for album of the year. 4 time Independent Music Award Nominees. 16 year veterans, their music will compliment any venue. Totem Maples takes spoken word to the next level marrying literature with folk, jazz, art rock, rhythm and Avant-garde beauty.

Biography

Totem Maples, one of few official Poetry Bands in Los Angeles, got their start in 1997 playing the coffeehouse scene in the San Gabriel Valley East of downtown L.A. Named after the diverse relations on a totem pole, diversity in sound and style is what gives TM its power. Led by poet Larry Handy on vocals, the band consists of Joanne Kim on piano, Justin Punzalan on turn tables, Brian Sadler on electric guitar and organ, Erik Elsey on drums and percussion, and Matt Coleman on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The band blends folk, jazz, hip hop, rock, avant-garde, and spoken word poetry. What separates Totem Maples from other poetry bands is their jam based feel. Instead of reciting poetry to background music, Larry Handy recites WITH the music. The music is tailor-fitted to each poem and when the poem stops the music ventures off into free flowing improvisational solos. In the SLAM-influenced spoken word scene, poetry that captures the attention these days is the political kind. Totem Maples steps out of the way bringing a life message draped in a deep symbolic language reminiscent of Arthur Rimbaud and Pablo Neruda. Their recordings remind the listener of The Doors AMERICAN PRAYER album. The song "Gethsemane" was nominated for BEST SPOKEN WORD SONG at the 2004 JUST PLAIN FOLKS MUSIC AWARDS. At the 2006 INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS competition both albums Trip to the Sun and Ars Poetica were finalists for BEST JAM ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Trip to the Sun also received a second nomination for BEST RAP/HIP HOP ALBUM OF THE YEAR. The 2013 INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS brought more accolades for the group. In the Realm of the Senses album won the award for BEST SPOKEN WORD ALBUM WITH MUSICAL ACCOMPANYMENT by people's choice.

Lyrics

Wayfaring Gethsemane

Written By: Traditional,Matt Coleman, Larry Handy

Dear God, I love You. But I don’t want to know you the way the churches do. Congregations paint You into pictures, sentencing Almighty You to denomination, boring me to sleep in sermons and scaring me back awake in Holy Ghost Tongued Testimonies shouting: JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! SAVE US! And then they faint and they are healed. Do I need to know You this way? I’ve never know my father, and though You are mine, I prefer sometimes to just call You God.

I don’t want to know You the way the atheists do. They say You are not alive, that Nietzsche killed You. And yet Your name still lives in their heated debates. They speak Your name in vain: GODDAMN curses. And when they’re fucking each other they scream Your name in climax: GOD! THAT WAS GOOD! Now Your name rhymes with “odd”?

The theologians are no different. They reduce you to science and philosophy. They limit You to the left brain. They’ve debated You until You are a puzzle. The faith that sought understanding found confusion. And they can no longer Love You, but Question You.

See, God, I am tired. My day is beautiful but I waste it in cubicle working for money to eat. But I refuse to know You like the New Agers do. To them You are just a concept, a dream they wish to become. I can list a hundred reasons why I am not You, and yet they can’t fathom why they are not. They squeeze their crystals and pray: GOD IS ALL! GOD IS YOU! GOD IS I! But the wintertime comes, they catch a common cold, and they die. Now God, have You ever caught a cold?

The gifts You’ve given and made, I’ve foolishly squandered and ignored. They smiles You’ve shown me, I’ve closed my eyes to so stupid. I don’t want to know You the way I’ve seen You painted, I know there is more. The mirrors I’ve looked in, I’ve cracked and discarded for sake of fear. I go to church because I am afraid of Hell. I accept Jesus because I am afraid of Hell. I pray because I need. I pray because I want. And I could become so scared that Your face has not been seen by me.

If You are how the other’s see You, then You are a monster. A monster of church buildings, a monster of philosophy, a monster of nature. But I just want You to be for me as what a teddy bear is to a child at night. If I complain, please forgive me. But there are monsters in my closet bigger than what the other’s make You out to be, and boogiemen under my bed. Now please say to me that You are not one of them.

There is something greater than ChristianityISM that no human being except Christ himself has seen. But for now, that’s just a blasphemous thought to many. There are boogiemen under my bed, now please say to me that You are not one of them. Dear God, I love You. Amen.

God answers prayers. He doesn’t grant wishes.

Wayfaring Gethsemane

Written By: Larry Handy

Dear God, I love You. But I don’t want to know you the way the churches do. Congregations paint You into pictures, sentencing Almighty You to denomination, boring me to sleep in sermons and scaring me back awake in Holy Ghost Tongued Testimonies shouting: JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! SAVE US! And then they faint and they are healed. Do I need to know You this way? I’ve never know my father, and though You are mine, I prefer sometimes to just call You God.

I don’t want to know You the way the atheists do. They say You are not alive, that Nietzsche killed You. And yet Your name still lives in their heated debates. They speak Your name in vain: GODDAMN curses. And when they’re fucking each other they scream Your name in climax: GOD! THAT WAS GOOD! Now Your name rhymes with “odd”?

The theologians are no different. They reduce you to science and philosophy. They limit You to the left brain. They’ve debated You until You are a puzzle. The faith that sought understanding found confusion. And they can no longer Love You, but Question You.

See, God, I am tired. My day is beautiful but I waste it in cubicle working for money to eat. But I refuse to know You like the New Agers do. To them You are just a concept, a dream they wish to become. I can list a hundred reasons why I am not You, and yet they can’t fathom why they are not. They squeeze their crystals and pray: GOD IS ALL! GOD IS YOU! GOD IS I! But the wintertime comes, they catch a common cold, and they die. Now God, have You ever caught a cold?

The gifts You’ve given and made, I’ve foolishly squandered and ignored. They smiles You’ve shown me, I’ve closed my eyes to so stupid. I don’t want to know You the way I’ve seen You painted, I know there is more. The mirrors I’ve looked in, I’ve cracked and discarded for sake of fear. I go to church because I am afraid of Hell. I accept Jesus because I am afraid of Hell. I pray because I need. I pray because I want. And I could become so scared that Your face has not been seen by me.

If You are how the other’s see You, then You are a monster. A monster of church buildings, a monster of philosophy, a monster of nature. But I just want You to be for me as what a teddy bear is to a child at night. If I complain, please forgive me. But there are monsters in my closet bigger than what the other’s make You out to be, and boogiemen under my bed. Now please say to me that You are not one of them.

There is something greater than ChristianityISM that no human being except Christ himself has seen. But for now, that’s just a blasphemous thought to many. There are boogiemen under my bed, now please say to me that You are not one of them. Dear God, I love You. Amen.

God answers prayers. He doesn’t grant wishes.

Feeling Not so Blue

Written By: Matt Coleman and Larry Handy

Let’s close our eyes
Walk the beach barefoot
White and brown toes
Sand between us.

Let’s close our eyes
Hear the shout of God
In the surf—
Strike the line that splits
Tide and sky.

Let’s close our eyes
Tell me, how can you not fall in love?
You give me all these things to write of.

feeling not so blue
feeling oh so new
life is what we choose
and babe, I choose you

all that’s in the past
???feel this space it don’t last
let it slip away cause babe I’m here to stay with you

hold me gentle, I love you just the same
our love’s quite simple, let others play their game
feeling oh so new
feeling not so blue

I wish and wait years, days, weeks,
For a woman like you.
A spine of golden hair.
French braided.
Eyes like waves.

I wish forever for a woman like you
But the beach I can have now.
The dwarf beach.
Small and hidden ’twixed two cliffs.

Interweaving waters
Patterns of lines
Blue life break dancing against rocks

When the tide touches me,
I will try not to move.
I will stand still,
Think of you, and wish for shorter days.