Sunday, 25 March 2012

Open Mic Travels - OUT NOW!

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Hotch Potch, Manchester (at The Thirsty Scholar)

Not an open mic, but an art and music event well worth coverage on this blog, HotchPotch is a veritable feast of art, music, workshops and dance brought to you by Zuzanna Zukiewicz and Tony Bolton, with a lot of help from their friends and volunteers.

I came to hear about HotchPotch as a result of playing Tony's open mic (that he organises under the name Tuesday Tony) at The Thirsty Scholar, a friendly pub beneath the railway arches next to Oxford Road station in Manchester.  The Thirsty Scholar includes a superb theatre and clubbing space upstairs called the Attic, which is where much of the HotchPotch art and film takes place.  Having done a ten minute spot of the digital beat poetry Tony put me onto Zuzanna and we arranged a Poet & the Loops gig as part of HotchPotch in March.  It turned out to be a proper good night that kicked off with a workshop on how to make your own guitar and an exhibition of art by Martin Lynch-Smith (sample picture top left), followed by belly dancing, short films and a couple of bands.

At the next event I was in a shot gun musical wedding with the musician and actor Nig Richards.  Nig had run the guitar making workshop in March and the notion of combining Nig's blues orientated guitar with digital beat poetry was all Tony's idea - which meant we could blame him if it went horribly wrong!  But part of the philosophy of HotchPotch (as the name clearly suggests) is to mix things up and take a few risks. 

Nig and I hadn't rehearsed for our first public outing and our improvised session started off somewhat cautiously until we gradually found our musical feet, and there were a couple of the pieces which I don't mind saying worked very well.  Particularly the ones where Nig was playing a guitar made out of a toilet seat (plenty of 'crap' jokes to be had from that combination).

There were also short films showing upstairs ranging from comedy to hard hitting drama, the latter of which included a film called Shed (see pic right) which worked on the viewers assumptions about a situation involving an apparent violent thug and racist.  Shed was made by Storm Maker Pictures who are also working on another dramatic short called Trauma due for release any time soon.

The March event included up and coming Manchester band The Bacillus who are playing out a lot at the moment it seems.  They kicked off the set with the magnificent Silent Runner, and also played I Can't Adapt To This Prison You Call Society which has to be one of my favourite song titles in a long time.

There is so much varied stuff going on at a typical HotchPotch night its difficult to catch everything, but there are more of these nights planned, and the next one is on Sunday 15th April at The Thirsty Scholar.  Get down there for what will no doubt be an eclectic mix of all kinds of everything, and if you're interested in performing, running a workshop or exhibiting, have a word with Zuzanna or Tony - they are always on the look out for new wonders and precious things to include.

HotchPotch e-mail: