Article by Ariel Rosemberg
After drummer Jon Fishman smoked him in the onstage dance contest that lead into “Catapult,” which then lead into “Icculus” on August 14, 2009 in Hartford, CT, Trey Anastasio asked the crowd, “When was the last time one of you picked up a fucking book?” Well, not only has Paul Siegell picked up a book, he wrote one.
Siegell’s hits of poetic ecstasy have been reviewed in Relix, featured in Paste and published in The American Poetry Review. His site, “ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL,” has been named one of the “30 Awesome Poetry Blogs You Aren’t Reading Yet” and his second book, jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009), accomplishes the unthinkable: it captures the live-show experience – in words.
Cover tells all here. Pop it in, hit play and go.
As reflections on the beauty of Keller Williams, Iron & Wine, Galactic and others, Siegell’s linguistic strength lifts up a giant “it’s friends not facilities” to the music and the crowd. With a nod to visual art and an unpredictable approach to poetry, his jamband-inspired lines guide his readers through rambunctious adventures of meaning. Revealing his intentions in a poem about a Phish show at Camden, NJ, Siegell writes, “A tender, ruckus-productive playground / deserving poetics.”
Siegell’s artistic ability, relative to his writing, is seen throughout the spread of jambandbootleg. In “The 18 Majors of Greg Hollowcost,” a comical rundown on declaring a major while faced with the possibility of a fifth year in college (“What’s two more semesters / of outta-state student loans?”), the entire poem is in the shape of a question mark. This Paul Siegell fella, always taking it one step further. His reaction to a Bright Eyes show (“there / where 14-year-old girls everywhere”) is presented to the reader as a leaning guitar, begging to be picked up off the page and played.
And then there’s “06.25.00 – PHiSH – Alltell Pavilion, NC.” Oh my. The show was to be the band’s last southeastern stop for at least the next three years, and this poem takes you there – AND FAST! Siegell’s transcendental recap reveals the heavy things and jibboo of a female fan masturbating on the summer lawn: “CK5’s lightshow coats her skin in bouncing blue / and off comes her top; braless breasts are hers to fondle. Ev’ryone around’s / gaping, dancers having serious difficulties—‘Somebody do something!’” Do something, indeed. The entire poem is written in the extraordinary shape of a blazing fire. So what’s the use? I’m not sure how Paul Siegell is doing all this, but I know for sure he’s doing it for us.
When talking music and writing, most would traditionally prepare words and drop a beat or rhythm behind them…until now. Put into perspective on the book’s back cover by the Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein, “Paul… take[s] music and turn[s] it back into words. And he does it exceptionally well, capturing both the excitement of concert-going and the poetic essence of the improvisational music scene.” Non-traditional is as non-traditional does, this book, jambandbootleg, is living proof.
“Mind-goner” or not, let the thrill of Paul Siegell’s poetic tour become real. Give it a listen, a feel, a taste (and not necessarily in order) as a whole and you will understand. All the way to his emotional final curtain “with.”
Google “Paul Siegell,” find him on Amazon and absolutely pick up this book!