The Fugitives on the run with slam poetry

Vancouver spoken-word act taking show across Canada

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Fugitives

LICK MY SHOE! LICK IT, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO! I STEPPED IN CHOCOLATE, I SWEAR. LICK IT! The Fugitives hit The Alex P. Keaton tonight with their unique brand of spoken word and musical performance art.

The Fugitives aren’t running from the law. They aren’t a rock band and they aren’t going to hijack your car.

The Fugitives " Brendan McLeod, Barbara Adler and Mark Berube " fuse spoken word, music and numerous other acts into their high-energy sets.

“There’s a lot of music, but there’s a lot of story telling in the show too, back and forth between the members of the group, which is all improvised,” McLeod says. “There’s something there for everyone.

“There’s stand-up comedy, there’s three-part harmonies, there’s old-time folk music and there’s music and poetry combined. We do solo stuff, we do duo stuff, we do stuff together.”

On every tour, The Fugitives add a new fourth member to their act. Currently, the group is performing with a banjo player.

Each member also has a solo side project.

“With our solo careers, we’ll just write a song,” McLeod says. “But with this, we’ll come together and be like ‘Well, what do we want to write about?’ and then we’ll take that away and do homework and then come back.

“So it actually takes a long time to write a song together. That accounts for the diversity if there’s three different viewpoints to every song.”

The Fugitives’ acts provoke many emotions and explore various issues.

“It’s not like we do a show and we hit them with ‘the world has AIDS’ and then we do poems about our grandmothers dying,” McLeod says.

“It’s not all heavy. I think people appreciate the fact that they can get some depth from a performance, so it’s not only exhilaration. There’s also some intellectual depth to it.”

While they enjoy writing music, Adler and McLeod’s roots are in slam poetry.

“Slam poetry is a poetry competition where people perform poems in a three-minute period and then five random judges from the audience judge the poems, and then they score it and announce a winner at the end of the night,” McLeod says.

McLeod says since many people don’t know what to expect from spoken word or slam poetry, attracting a wide audience is difficult.

“[Spoken word] is a whole thing that is coming up and people will hear more and more about it,” McLeod says.

“That’s already pretty fringe, so to take it and put music with it makes it even more fringe. We always have a really good response from our shows mainly because it’s something original that they’ve never ever seen before.

“It’s inspiring to know. It keeps us going.”

McLeod says slam poetry’s popularity is rising.

“We did it on Saturday and there were 200 people there,” McLeod says.

“It was crazy " it was a really hopping time.”

The Fugitives perform at The Alex P. Keaton tonight.

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