Refugee and Asylum Seekers Benefit Night

Refugee and Asylum Seekers Benefit Night

Migrant Artists Mutual Aid present: A refugee and asylum seekers benefit night and book signing
The Atrium Cafe, Liverpool
Friday 8th December 2017

Reviewed by Rob Harrison
Photographs by Mike Fahy

Last autumn was the sixth anniversary of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa), a cross network of women, mothers, migrants, artists, academics and activists, who work together to support members of their group who are seeking sanctuary and campaign for justice in the migration system.

Recent political developments,such as Brexit, have nudged the issue of refugee and asylum seekers out of the news as of late. But as I recall was not Brexit all about refugees and asylum seekers?

It appears now that the media has conveniently shifted us away from the subject and instead continues to wallow in the dead end debate of national sovereignty.

But as pointed out in a recent interview with Jen Verson in Nerve magazine, ignore human rights and refugees at your peril, as with most regimes they start with asylum seekers and then move on.

And so the evening begins with Jen, as one of the founder members of MaMa and tireless fundraiser, she gives a quick outline of the workings of the MaMa group and then proceeds to read one of the many poems to be found in the book on sale at this event.

The first performer of the evening is Meike Holzmann. Meike is German and a graduate of LIPA, indulging the audience in what could be described as Disco/Dada. It’s an ironic crash collision, between Giorgio Moroder and Cabaret Voltaire. Meike seems to follow in the tradition of other entertaining musical conceptualists such as Yoko Ono and Captain Beefheart.

After Meike we have a slight change of pace with the literary folk of Helen Jackson and Susan Geohegan. Helen weaves a linguistic spell while Sue creates an acoustic setting for the lyrics. And tonight they were brilliant, and so good to see them again, having had the opportunity to book them for this gig. They perform under the moniker Geohegan/Jackson, so maybe check them out sometime .

Next, hang onto your hats it’s Tony Crompton. Tony’s big specialization is Metzinger-like auto destructive performances,where anything can happen and usually does in what could be described as guitar accidents combined with abrasive poetry. Following closely in the footsteps of Meike Holzmann in terms of neo Dadaist performance art.

Tony finishes his set with a sobering poem about homelessness.

It’s worth catching Tony’s old band Crikey It’s The Cromptons, restarted and re-tuned, but tasting better than a reheated Gerrards pasty. To be seen playing at a good venue near you soon.

After Tony we have another poet Tom whose sprawling Dylanesque poetic narratives have us all enraptured for the next twenty minutes.

We are now at the midway point of the event now and there are some more readings from the migrant artists. Cookbook and another poetry reading or two.

The evening finishes with another crash collision of sorts. This time the Liverpool Improvisers Orchestra featuring the broken splintered poetic narratives of The Riot Priest.

The Improvisers Orchestra features local sax players Ged Barry and Nick Branton. The set begins with a sax duet with Ged and Nick, into which The Riot Priest begins to place the words in the spaces provided by the music.

The Riot Priest moves around the stage area as the sax players play improvised sounds and, in a wilful attempt at ignoring stage etiquette, turns his back on the audience in what could be described as a post rock / post jazz renouncement of tradition.

The idea is to be swept up in a dionysian tide and to be sure there’s definitely something strange going on here.

And so an eclectic end to an eclectic night. Hopefully there will be more gigs to follow or at least events to promote the book. big thank you to Cathy the who ran the cafe all night and served wonderful coffees teas and beers.

The MaMa book is still available, titled Strategies for Survival Recipes for Resistance.

A collection of photography, poetry, recipes, musical reflections and stories of our fight for refugee justice.

All proceeds go to MAMA’s funds, which supports women seeking asylum to obtain legal representation, so no one has to fight their case alone.

Available through News From Nowhere bookshop on Bold Street, or online.

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