This past Wednesday, the whole Cantab– both floors– paid a sweet tribute to a heartily missed regular, the late Jack McCarthy. Upstairs, the blues jam took a back seat to the Red Sox’s first home-field World Series game 6 since 1918; downstairs, after a thoughtful open mic, four teams took the stage for a slam battle royale, armed only with a selection of Jack’s poems. Had Jack been there, we know he would have been checking in on both shows as politely and enthusiastically as possible.
The slam kicked off with a lengthy, snarky sacrifice from Sean Patrick Mulroy, covering Jack’s “Sour Grapes”, after which Mark Palos, SlamMaster of New Hampshire’s Slam Free or Die, led off the first round with “Song of the Open Mic” to represent Team Drop the Chalupa. Christopher Clauss of Team Nightmare on Mass Ave. followed with “Annals of Science,” a somewhat more risque poem with a performance tic that got the audience really giggling. After that, it’s hard to pick out just a few highlights in this all-all-star slam, but we can try: consider Kevin Spak slamming for Team I’ll Come Back as a Hawk, entering the home stretch of “Walk of Life” just as the sixth inning finished up upstairs; or Marshall Gillson (of the same team) laying down “Victory” as the band fired up “Sweet Caroline” upstairs, only to be followed by Caroline Harvey herself with a hopeful rendition of “Merton” for Team Drop the Chalupa; or Tom Slavin, the champion of it all, batting clean-up for Team Catholics & Car Thieves and bringing the slam home with a flawless performance of “Great Catches” to raucous applause both up and downstairs.
At the end of the night, the top slammers came from Team I’ll Come Back as a Hawk: the aforementioned Kevin Spak and Marshall Gillson, joined by newcomer Alison Truj and one of Jack’s most famous contemporaries, Brian Comiskey. A respectable almost-win goes to Team Nightmare on Mass Ave., captained by the famed Richard Cambridge and rounded out with Christopher Clauss, Cassandra Euphrat Weston, and Kemi Alabi. The Catholics & Car Thieves banded together to make third place with Sue Savoy, Kieran Collier, Mckendy Fils-Aimé, and Tom Slavin, and Team Drop the Chalupa earns the top pick in next year’s slam draft with a fourth place finish, certainly not due to any lack of heroics on the part of Sophia Holtz, Sam Teitel, Mark Palos, and Caroline Harvey.
Thanks so much to all our slammers who worked so hard to bring Jack’s work to life… Especially those who sacrificed their baseball-watching plans to make our historic show. We like to think Jack wasn’t there only because he was watching the game from his own easy chair.
Next week: we’re in for a wild ride with feature Eirean Bradley from Portland, Oregon! He’ll be joined by his tour partner and spotlight feature, Leah Noble Davidson, and we’ll close the night with an open poetry slam in the 8×8 series, the last series before we select our team for 2014. See you there!