More than 100 people enjoyed homemade Thai food, heard good music and some of the state's best poets at the Paper Matches benefit last Saturday. The Bloomington slam team was very theatrical, sometimes screaming between pauses. Instead of being political and preachy, the poets elevated everyday life with self-abasing satire. Local poet Dorian shone on "Black is Beautiful." Impulse Trio tore it down with sound similar to late '70s Herbie Hancock or Weather Report. The bassist did some fancy work and this band would make for an excellent date outdoors in the summer. The Semantics delivered relaxed acoustic rock with a few talented singers. One had a voice like Leonard Cohen, and the other was closer to Van Morrison. Josh Strodtman gave a hilarious interlude with "American Soldier," a bluegrass satire in the vein of Arlo Guthrie.
The event's innovative music act was Daniel Paquette. He sang, played and blew harp over loops of army commercials, news excerpts, radio static, and all out chaos - Bright Eyes meets Wolf Eyes. Also an ESL teacher, Paquette parodied language acquisition in a performance piece. After taping his mouth he imparted lessons on a picture-board, in tandem with shrieking noise - Charlie Brown's teacher on acid.
The highlight of the evening was Branches Magazine editor Tom Healy. He described the "antidote to the Hoosier inferiority complex." He listed examples of historical Hoosier counterculture, such as the Tribe of Ishmael collective in present-day Haughville, Harvard-grad Johnny 'Appleseed' Chapman, and the free-thinking forums of German immigrants at the Rathskeller and the Athenaeum. He reminded the crowd that the creative life is difficult anywhere, but with "islands of interdependence" like the USOM and Paper Matches, our antidote is to "wake up and dream."