I invited two friends to come hear a soulbrother’s poetry and song. “He’s a very spiritual guy – in a Scarboro kind of way” I told them. Mike Bennett - with Claude Kent and James Paul are Garage Baby. The trio first gave us an acoustic set of their best “putting their hearts out on the strings” each performing solo originals. I was glad my friends showed in time to catch the end of that set. Cause then - then it was 1979 british east side in your face driving right off the road punk energy. Mr. Bennett defying his halfcentury body’s limits with an attitude still defying description – mocking his own on the stage self portrait just as much as he mocks any convention except what’s at the heart of it all…from his particular point of view – where else?
Neither of my friends were expecting the punk blast in the chic downtown downstairs bistro – nor was I - but I was loving it – half the music and half the man behind it just wailing and putting it way out there in his crazy crazed way – hard core out beyond the fray and making a point of pointing out just how much he loves poking fun at us sheep - pretending he’s a wolf. I say pretending, should I say performing? Cause when you listen to his lyrics slowed down to a folk stroll – you realize he’s the most vulnerable sheep of all – living out beyond the fences - fooling us with wolf’s clothing just to get us scared and skittish and in the end laughing at the fences we think will protect us from the harsh truths and hard won wisdom he sings, or should say - wails on about.
Garage Baby - Folk-punk I calls it. Defiantly undefinable. Scarbro working class edge from a poet with a keen eye for what no art school philosophy class could provide and more wisdom in the turn of a phrase than a preacher could spill in a month of sundays. His compatriots right there with the madness laying down a solid road of sound for Mike to dance on.
When I ask him for a CD he tells me he’s sick of the commercial trade selling what GOD gives him for free. He just throws it out there from the stage with the trash and litter that Jesus pushing a broom afterhours will gather and spin into subtle dreams – seeds planted in broken hearts - for anyone with the ears to hear it.
I think that’s what he said. What I heard anyways.
And as Mike says “if I’m misunderstood – who cares?”