Upcoming gigs

Upcoming Gigs

Click here for my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter @Henry_Raby

Resolution of Sound @ Stained Glass Centre 3rd June 2017

ADAM Festival @ Acomb Library 15th June 2017

Say Owt Slam Clash of Champions III @ The Basement 2nd July 2017

Deer Shed Festival 22nd July 2017

Nerd Punks 3-D @ Edinburgh Fringe, Banshee Labyrinth 20-27th 21.50-22.50


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

20.16 Blog #19: Guns Blazing

This year’s Edinburgh Fringe was a real lesson in captivating audiences.  And caging them.

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Some acts come out guns a’blazing.  They absolutely and unequivocally nail it from the get-go.

My chum Stu recommended Jayde31, a show I would have never bothered with otherwise, simply due to being late a night, stand-up cabaret and in a venue I don’t often frequent.  But Jayde hit the audience like an avalanche, giving no time to breathe, question or flinch as she bombarded us with the greasy parts of growing up.  Key, she never gave us real pause to consider or think until she allowed such a moment in the beautifully crafted moment of pathos so necessarily on the Fringe, and so rarely given so earnestly.

Mark Thomas blew me away when I stumbled across Bravo Figaro, and only after did I read up on his history in the left movement.  Red Shed was expensive on my poor wallet.  But the show was full of hilarious and heart-wrenching stories and character from the Yorkshire working class.  I was almost tearing up within the first 5 minutes, and was in tears for the final song of Solidarity Forever echoing around the room, and history.  But Mark looked like he’d taken a swim in the North Sea by the end of his show, dripping with dark sweat.  Because he worked the crowd marvellous.  Mark throws himself around, the characters and action are enormous to fill this large space, but also to bulk up our hearts.

Milk Present’s JOAN featured Drag King Louis Cyfer, who portrayed the fumbling frantic and fantastic Joan of Arc  Who’d have thought a Saint could be so boisterous as she leapt around in this round space, grabbing audience members onto stage, leading us in a chorus of battle and portraying three men in her life.  The final scene was heart-wrenching as Joan (spoiler alert) prays to Saint Catherine, and we couldn’t have got to that point if we didn’t laugh with her and love her for the past 70 minutes.

So this ‘Guns Blazing’ approach makes me think about absolutely confidence, and control, of an audience.  Other poets on the Free fringe exhibit this well, Dom Berry and Monkey Poet springing to mind, whereas others, like Harry Bake, favour a more relaxed, welcoming approach.

Guns Blazing is hard to maintain, and harder to make tight and accessible.  But Guns Blazing doesn’t mean an intensity that scares, it can also be a friendly intensity.  I’ve always thought about the way that punk poetry should try and reflect a full punk band, how can only individual be the equivalent of guitars, drums and shouting?

In theatre, we often say if you aim for as much energy as you can muster, make your character unbelievably big, then you can always tone it down.  It’s much harder to work from less.

So whilst I never hit the ground running to the extent of the examples I’ve given, it was fascinating to see three different performers (a stand-up comic, a piece of theatre and a story-teller) all hit the audience hard, keep on pummelling and, inevitably, also make me feel deep emotions I’ll carry with me for a long time.


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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Blog 20.16 #18: The EdFringe Hiya

The day after Edinburgh Fringe was made for unpacking, washing, eating and powering through Stranger Things like a Normal Human Being.

I took the show UP THE NERD PUNKS 2, a sequel to Up The Nerd Punks last year.  I don’t know quite why a sequel seemed to fit.  It obviously suits the nerdiness of film and game sequels, but I felt there was more to say on the subject.

The show began as exploring what it means to ‘battle’, in the sense the inspiration, whether you are a villain or a hero, when two ideologies clash etc.  But as the world has increasingly become tense with racism and nationalism, the show became about drawing lines in the sand.  Not exploring the fight, but committing to the fight.  It hard for me, despite my Anarcho-Tendencies (not a crust band) I’ve always liberally acknowledged everyone has their own opinions and backgrounds.  This is true, but as the world feels edging closer to a darker 1932-esque fascism, there’s less requirement for introspection and more need for action.

I started off with audience hovering around 6, but my final show (admittedly a Saturday) ended with a rammed room of 30.  I did about 2-3 hours flyering a day, and got to hang out with poets from across the UK all lovely people.  I didn’t get to hang out with as many people as I’d like. 

The curse of the Fringe is the “Hiya!” as you pass someone in the street, or it is for me.  I put flyering, show, seeing shows and rest as priority, and seeing people seems to slip away.  For that, I am sorry to people I didn’t get to see, but I guess it reinforces everyone does Edinburgh differently.  I guess that's my battle every year to simply hang, and actually, in retrospect, without realising it, thatw as a central part of Up The Nerd Punks 2.

I wish the Fringe could accommodate for people not able to spend hours in bars spending money on booze to have a place to hang out.  If there is such a space, let me know.

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the show, my 11 guests over the 10 shows and general smiley friends.  Much love xxx (angry scrawny punk love)

This was my 3rd year taking up a show, and I was racking my brains as to how I approached it in 2012 with Letter To The Man (from the boy).  Every time I return, I learn about a new venue, cafĂ©, takeaway, bus route or method of flyering.  I always see Edinburgh as a way to raise my game.

So what have I learnt from this EdFringe which I didn’t know before:

·         You can always tweak your show.  Don’t be afraid to keep teasing with it, that’s the specialty of doing so many shows back-to-back.
·         The size of an audience doesn’t always reflect how loud they react.
·         The Free Fringe people are lovely.  They have to be.  When you flyer next to them, exit flyer them and guest with them everyone has to support each other.  I don’t mean be friendly with each other, I really do mean support each other, whether propping up at a bar or propping up that keenness.



So UP THE NERD PUNKS will return for the 3rd, and probably final, instalment.  I will make the branding around this less nerdy, and the show less pop culture heavy so it’s more universal.  I want to explore the origins of punk, and part of activism, with the history of sci-fi and fantasy and how punk culture and nerd culture might just help us save.  It’s the end of the world, the destruction of all life, the apocalypse.   We need to travel in time.  We need to be the Kitty Pryde, Terminator, Doc Brown.  We need to save the future.  We need to save the world from…Bromaggeddon. 

Where we’re going, we don’t need bros.



Tuesday, 23 August 2016

England poem references

If anyone's seen Up The Nerd Punks 2, I have a poem which references several struggles in English history.  Here they are if you wanted to read more:

Wat Tyler and the Peasent's Revolt 1381:  Uprising against higher taxes due to the Hundred Years war and an end to unpaid serfdom

The Diggers 1649:  Amidst the Civil War, they demanded anyone could work the land for the good of everyone.

The Luddites 1811-16:  Used direct action to oppose machines taking their jobs in cotton and wool mills.

Peterloo 1819:  Protest of 60-80,000 people protesting high corn prices, land laws and demanding more rights and the vote.  Were charged by soldiers and 15 were killed, 700 injured

The Match Girls 1888:  Went on strike for better working conditions in match factories

Suffragettes 1897 onwards:  Women and men fighting for votes for women.  Used tactics including arson, vandalism, occupation, intimidation, disrupting meetings  Were often arrested and forcefed

Conscientious Objectors:  Anti-war and anti-militarism has always been part of British culture.  If you were bullied or pressured into joining the army or being conscripted, but refused to kill, you would be shot for 'cowardice'.

Miner's Strike 1984-85:  Miner's defended their livelihoods and the working class across the UK.

Monday, 15 August 2016

20.16 Blog #17: Here & Heritage

Last week I worked on a Play In A Week project for the Laurence Batley Theatre and Heritage Quay at the University of Huddersfield.

The Heritage Quay is an archive of Huddersfield’s local and international history, and it’s a fantastic snapshot of the character of Hudd, something this little York lad has grown to appreciate over the years.

The young people I’ve worked with through the LBT have been feisty, inventive and full of character, and this project was no exception.  Using items from the archive, as well as local historian Cyril Pearce popping in for a chat, and the group’s own knowledge, we devised a show around the Conscientious Objectors of the 1st World War, mainly from the perspective of the people of Huddersfield.

This involved first a lot of unpacking ‘socialism’, ‘conscription’, ‘liberalism’ and the women’s movement.  I even managed to slide some anarchism in there.  This was just sly of a slog, and we kept it fun and open rather than narrow and intense.  But it had to form the bedrock of the show, like the archive it had to reflect the real stories of the city.  We couldn’t be afraid of these words, terms and historical accuracy.



But it was important to make sure the group knew we were telling the story of these people, their lives, opinions, beliefs, families, friends, work and hopes.  As much as international socialism was a cornerstone, was what more important was making the audience care about these people living 100 years ago.

The group did marvellously well at balancing both, and I didn’t try and force my opinion on them.  Hopefully there was room for debate.  Certainly the show told the COs tale, but the issue was explored from a number of angles.

I think we are told continually that the COs were mainly religious men, but the Huddersfield story is one of working class solidarity as well.  The politics cannot be ignored.  Nor the fact it split the women’s movement, and though some proved themselves good citizens, others opposed a male government’s profit-hungry war.


As much as we need to encourage young people to tell their relevant current stories, it’s also important to remember the place they come from, the world that’s trying to be covered up, forgotten about, rejected and remade.  100 years ago socialism and anti-militarism were not dirty words, they were part and parcel of modern life for the working class of Huddersfield, and a history that should not only be presented and explored, but celebrated and learnt from.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

20.16 Blog #16: Deer Shed & DissFest

A few weeks ago, myself and Chris Singleton spent the weekend stood in a field shouting poetry at each other.

Around us was a festival, Deer Shed to be precise, a swarm of 10,000 people 45% of the under 16.  Amidst the chaos of workshops and music we performed poems by request.  On the spot improvisations.  Based on audience’s suggestions.  Anything for an easy life, right?

When I’ve done this before in cafes, pubs and libraries there’s always more resistance and uncertainty, but in the middle of a wacky festival we are just one more attraction the kids get excited by, and that’s a testament to the intense madcapness of Deer Shed.

Some of my favourite requests were the ones me and Chris tag-teamed, telling a story between ourselves and often the people who had suggested the poem. Though me and Chris aren’t necessarily from a rap background, we tried to take part in rap battles.  Child-friendly of course.  Monsters vs. Robots, Shrek vs. Nemo, meat-eaters vs. vegetarians.   Not poems I’d ever claim to be worthy of Don’t Flop videos, but fun in the moment nevertheless.

You can watch one of our battles here:  https://www.facebook.com/DeerShed/videos/10153585201676619/

It was also fun collaborating with Chris, who is a lovely poet from Leeds running Verbal Remedies and running into a few lovely folks, like Kate Fox and the Holy Moly & The Crackers ensemble.

Deer Shed is a great fun festival, designed for families, so maybe not one of my favourite as a participant (seriously, no ska-punk stage?) but definitely my favourite to visit as a performer and poet.
Here’s a poem what I wrote for the Festival inspired by the suggestions of passing peoples:

At Deer Shed Festival I ate the best
The tastiest
Most monstrous Hot Dog ever
At Deer Shed Festival I watched the Card Ninja
Boomeranging cards with calculating power.
I spent a good hour cart-wheeling by the Helter Skelter
Filled up the comedy tent with roaring laughter
Then some crowd-surfing like a winged monster.
I strummed a metallic 3 stringed guitar
Elementary!  I went to see Sherlock Improv
Grumbling bears, stories to hear, a raggle taggle of cracker folk.
Zombies!  All around me!  That’s realistic blood!
I stayed up partying as late as I possibly could.
The Blacksmith clattered in metal-melting heat
I opened my Northern gob to speak (and eat)
And I don’t know who won, the Monsters or Machines
But if this Festival was a film
It would be an action-filled classic.

Similarly, this weekend I was at DissFest writing poems for people visiting the very sublime Fairchild’s Tea Room.  This time more relaxed, you could almost say tamer, as I penned some poems for people supping delicious fruity teas in the mega civilised and friendly atmosphere.  Here’s one of the poems I wrote about the English weather:

As you know, as summers go
The English one is to-and-fro
Enjoy the parks, the fields, the beach
The trees cast shadows in the heat
It’s shades and spades and t-shirt weather
Carry an umbrella?  Ha!  Never!
We’ll get toasted, burnt red
Feel the rays upon my head
But, what’s this?  In a flash
The dusty dirt is a muddy splash
The rain comes in buckets and buckets
No!  We cry:  SKY STOPPIT
The rivers rise, the wind it cries
Cats and dogs storms and spray
It ruins our sunny day
So now we know, us soggy fools
Never break the golden rule
Always carry a cagoule.

DissFest, run by Unity Twenty Three, is like the LittleFests I've worked on in Yorkshire, a way to get people to engage with arts in their town by putting it into unusual spaces, or making it as accessible as possible.  Lovely friendly, and important, work by the team.

And another I wrote for a women about the Ukraine, her home country

Last night we heard the mountains cracking
Like skin from burning sunshine
We saw the rocks peel away
And the countryside cower into itself
In the morning we walked from the river
And, like pulsing veins over stinging skin,
We passed forests deep like black tea
Then the old sky mixed colours of blues and greys
And the rain washed down like a heavy tea
Poured with gentle care
And we smiled, and we washed away the night
And carried on walking