Adelaide Fringe 2012
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life”. Jack Kerouac
A light-hearted take on ‘The Beat Generation’ delivered to you in mid-flight by a Shaggy character with engaging patter. Wrapped in the musical imaginings of the hippest jazz cats in Adelaide.
Shaggy Doo Beats flies us into the ‘stream of consciousness’ of a beat wordstream that lifts off where Ginsberg left off – in Jack Kerouac’s Cocktail Bar. Not, I imagine, that Kerouac was a big fan of cocktails. Word is he liked his “brown drinks” – his bourbon and scotch.
But Shaggy (aka Charles Crompton), gives us the upbeat version, complete with white face and animated expression influenced by ‘Shaggy’ from the cartoon ‘Scooby Doo’ and reminiscent of the “Black and White Minstrels’.
His ‘Bunknik’ poetry works on many levels. Today’s audience seemed to enjoy the short, sharp humorous pieces, while I particularly liked ‘My TV Ate Me’ and ‘Gay in a Nineteenth Century Way’. However the outstanding poem was ‘Jethro J’, because in this piece Crompton introduced us to his amazing vocal range. My criticism? That this wasn’t developed further in other pieces.
The Jazzcateers: Chris Soole, Musical Director and saxophone; Rob Eyers, drums; Ben Fuller, double bass, captured the rhythm and mood of the late forties and early fifties with their swinging powerful grooves that just took off, leaving everything floating in their wake. And their moody interpretations of Crompton’s words, especially in pieces like ‘Fat Cat’ and “The Magic Mushroom Trip’, marry a sensitivity to the artist’s vocals with a sense of space and tonal variety that is impeccable. Eyers and Crompton together in ‘Walking out the Door’ were formidable.
Crompton captures more the ‘cocktail’ version of Kerouac, which is, so I’ve heard, a concoction of tequila, rum, orange juice and cranberry juice. More light-hearted than the original, with sweeter overtones. And certainly entertaining. He bowed out with these words, and I’ll do the same:
“If you were perfect, you’d be boring.”