Ant Smith

Sing For Your Supper

Bread And Roses0102030405060708091011121314151617 The Gamecat18 Bryan Beadyman Wilson192021222324252627 Calm Carl 0128 Calm Carl 0229 Chris Dann 0130 Chris Dann 0231 Dan Hunt 0132 Dan Hunt 0233 The Panama34 Hilary Bennett35 Jimmy Van Lin36 Laura Victoria37 The Gamecat38 Panama Dave39 Pat Clarke 0140 Pat Clarke 0241 Sarah Jane 0142 Sarah Jane 0243 Sarah Jane 0344 Sebastian Crankshaw45 Sarah Jane And Laura46 Sonny47 Tinaz Denizmen 0148 Tinaz Denizmen 0249 Unique TechniqueElephant And Castle010203040506070809 Andrew Fiver10 The Boys11 Bryan Beadyman Wilson 0112 Bryan Beadyman Wilson 0213 Calm Carl 0114 Calm Carl 0215 Calm Carl 0316 Cheesefeast17 Panama Dave 0118 Panama Dave 0219 Panama Dave 0320 Panama Dave 0421 Gordon Thomson22 Graham Goddard23 Jack24 Mark The Hook25 Panama Dave 0526 Spunky27 The Gamecat2829 Dan HuntNine Bar010203The Old Nuns Head01 Lamp02030405060708 Panama Dave0910111213 Calm Carl14 Mark The Hook15 The Gamecat16 The Gamecat17 Adam Tunje18192021222324252627 Trevor Barham28 Seddondoleo29 Seddondoleo3031 Dan Hunt32 Dan HuntThe Queens Head01 Dog02 Trombone Bloke03 Calm Carl04 201205 Calm Carl 201206 201207 The Gamecat 201208 201209 Bryan Beadyman Wilson 201210 Mark The Hook11 Simon Tweddle12 Gordon Thompson13 Disco Lights 114 Commedian15 Mirror16 Smile17 Gaze18 Robot19 Dory Dutton2021222324 Panama Dave25 Mitch26 Tom Bland2728 Calm Carls Cool Cards29 Rosie Shy30 Calm Carl31 Plaything3233 Unique Technique34 Trevor Barham35 On Piano36 Paula Whitchall37 Bryan Beadyman Wilson38 Carl Chamberlain 0139 Van Man40 Patricia Clarke41 Gadd42 The Gamecat43 One Man Two Mics44 Babar Luck45 Dan Hunt

Sing for Your Supper is our once and future king of London's open mic nights.

I can say that. Now that I don't live and perform in London, but rather just look back over the ill-spent years with perfect 20/20 hindsight, I can and do say that.

And why is it the best of all London nights? Because it is hosted by none other than Calm Carl - if you don't know Carl CHECKOUT HIS WEBSITE at calmcarl.uk

I asked carl to list where S4YS had ever been in operation, aside from those I already had covered in the albums here - and this is what he offered me:

  • The Prince Albert, Albert Square, SW4 Stockwell,

  • The Canton Arms, Stockwell,

  • The Duke of Edinburgh Brixton,

  • The Imperial, Leicester Square,

  • The Ship, Kennington,

  • The Queen's Head, Brixton,

  • The Magic Garden, Battersea

  • & somewhere in there is The Crown in Battersea!

It can be a little confusing to pin it down - it has had such a vibrant life of its own. Some venues Carl organised nights in/for didn't respect the whole sing for your SUPPER idea - which is kind of the heart of the movement* really; so I think he perhaps doesn't really include those nights.

*in some sense it is right to call S4YS a movement, given how well it moves people; and how those involved cannot help but talk about 'family'. Whether he likes it or not though, it is at the same time definitely Carl's brainchild - S4YS is just not S4YS but for him.


Another World

Another World

Another World

Make for me

Another World

The basic building blocks and bits

No longer seem to me to fit

As if the trees don't reach the ground

But still beneath the earth turns round

And if the seas can't reach the beach

Then turning tides mean nought to me

If passing clouds hold up the rains

What's this storm inside my brain?

And if we're made from burnt out stars

Why are the heavens so damn far?

Another World

Another World

Make for me

Another World

This is a poem I file under Mental Health.

To me, the arts in all of their expressions are a form of public dreaming; in that they help to keep society sane, just as our own dreams help us to process and cope with the world.

Sing For Your Supper did make for me another world. A place where my own sense of normal was just a little bit less askew than that of those around me. A place where it never seemed to mater overmuch however many mic stands decided to fall apart in my hands. A place of respect and of belonging.

A place of love, laughs and lunacy.


Here's a selection of recollections from some of S4YS' regular performers


About This Collection

A Word From The Hosts

Calm Carl

Carl in spaced-out

And of course, this page can hardly be complete without hearing from the man himself - although I have no idea just what it is that he will say...

TBD...

Sarah-Jane

The multi-talented Sarah-Jane

As much as I see S4YS as Carl's brainchild - it is the support and involvement of others, and most especially Sarah-Jane, that helped it to blossom - here's Sarah-Jane's recollections of taking turns to steer the ship:

TBD...

The Bread And Roses

I was quite excited about the bread and Roses at first - being a union pub it felt like I could drink AND support the popular front; it seemed to make drinking worthy.

And there was a lot to be excited about - the front room had an actual stage with PA and quite an interesting background for the photography. They painted over the backdrop eventually, but that was fine as it meant the photos wouldn't end up being too samey.

Some nights we would be relugated to the back room - which I don't think Carl ever really liked but I felt it gave the nights a much more intimate feel; so either option worked well for me.

Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes—

Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses.

James Oppenheim, 1911

It was weird though how it was always a much quieter night than other S4YS ventures. There were almost always just enough people for it to be worth running a list - and it did get busy at times; but nothing like The Magic Garden (say) with its 30+ often on the list. I never understood why it wasn't more popular. But at least it meant one could always get a decent turn and it was a fine opportunity to catch up with friends.There was usually even time to chat with Carl - who on other nights was super busy every moment.

We hosted my 20th Anniversary of being a performance poet there - which was a busy night; an excellent night - with the other acts all including a cover version of one of my poems. Soon (honest) I'll create a page about that night...

Our contribution to We Shall Overcome happened at The Bread as well - this one was driven through by Sarah-Jane who did an absolutley top-notch job of it; despite some difficulties the venue visited up on us...

...and in fact venue difficulties were a constant factor. I thought it was great that this was a union pub. But actually at the end of the day that meant that it was run by employees who were essentially disinterested in the cultural life that a pub represents. From my perspective, the management had no care for the community; it didn't matter to them that people were travelling from far and wide for S4YS and they thought nothing of disrupting or cancelling the night at the drop of a hat.

But STILL, great and important things happened there and I have nothing but fond memories of attending.


Elephant & Castle

I think Carl may have ran nights here before I knew him (we met late 2009, according to the photographic evidence) - but I only found myself here on a couple of occassions. S4YS's 4th birthday was one of them, at least.


Nine Bar

Situated on Tanner Street in Bermondsey, apparently. The very first S4YS night I performed at. Carl did a live web-cast and I believe Christine was able to watch it from home. Which was all terribly exciting back then!

I don't think I went to this one more than just the once.

It had an emptiness about it the day I visited - the kind of emptiness that could be filled with ghosts if ghosts were real and they had nothing better to do. I think I presumed it was due for demolition and we were the last few souls to grace its floors.

I think there were more tables than chairs - like the last legs for venues are always the table legs. The chairs being easy prey are picked off at the first smell of decay in a joint.

I have no idea who else performed - clearly some did for you can see the photographic evidence here. It was a summer's evening in 2010 - I can barely believe I found the joint; we didn't have your google maps and iPhones back then you know. I used to print a map off at work before setting out to find a gig - but those maps were rubbish! They always seemed to miss out just the most strategically important street names. My tactic was to go to the nearest tube station and then walk in an ever increasing spiral until I found the venue or else gave up and travelled home. Whether I made it to a planned gig or not was pure fortune. Or misfortune, depending on your point of view.

In this case I'ms sticking with fortune.

It was a good gig, even though I can't remember the set list. All I do clearly remember was smoking cigarettes with Carl, whom I decided would be my buddy. It was still a pretty new city to me, and I decided a man needs buddies - they tell you that. So I declared Carl would be my buddy and I did my best to support him, and S4YS, thereafter.


The Old Nun's Head

In Memory

Since memory is imperfect

Why is it so cruel?

Can I not invent a life

Lived with perfect rules?

A place where no one hits their kids

And vets do more than kill

Where every day everyone

Had more than scraps of food

Even raga muffins had

Brightly polished shoes

No one's feet were ever bare

And no one hated school

The lights stayed on

The beds were warm

And the mother sang of dad's romance

In a green and pleasant

Loving land

Since memory is imperfect

Let me take regret

And imagine that I'd never

Lived but to forget

And the mother sang

Of a fine romance

In the days before she died

But memory is too cruel

For me to be so fooled

Yes, the mother sang

Of a fine romance

And the mother lived

A life of lies

And memory is too cruel

For me to be so fooled

The Old Nun's Head was one of the more awkward S4YS venues for me to get to. It was a classic Type II venue. Yes that's right, there are two types of venue. Those with a performance area in and amidst the main hullabaloo (The Type I's) - and those with a segregation of the poets and poet lovers from the, let's call them 'others'; you know, a basement, or an attic.

The Old Nun's Head gave us an attic.

It was lovely. And intimate. Intimate enough that those in the audience waiting for a turn would get suckered into actually listening to whoever was currently on stage. There are various open-mic crimes, such as signing up then buggering off elsewhere but for your own 10 minute slot. The busier (and on the face of it more successful) nights suffered such way more than the 'intimate' gigs. And there was never much of that at the Olde Nun's Head...

I remember turning up here to perform on the day my mother died. I suppose I had always hoped for such a day, but I was grown up now. I was supposed to understand things better and to have them in perspective. Her passing was supposed to be a gentle sigh ; an 'ah well then' moment. It wasn't supposed to mean anything to me.

But I guess it must have done, for I did make some reference to it. And I was a little, distracted in my mind.

I think I gave good poetry. Stage me of course isn't me. Yet it is. I am The GameCat (say my name) - but The GameCat is much more honest than I can ever be. Particularly in these quiet, intimate spaces.

I also remember that night when Dan performed atop of the tables.


The Queen's Head

Anarchy.

Is possibly too kind a word.

I think my first experience of this joint was attending Dennis Just Dennis's Queen's Speach open-mic, and I thought "Wow, a pub with an inside smoking room".

It seemed a little illicit to climb the backstairs to the attic in order to smoke and perform.

But really, smoking indoors was the least of it.

To this day I have no idea how that place kept its licence.

Or how I never died.

But I didn't. It was a most chaotic oasis in a sea of calm. Except there was no sea of calm. We were all slightly insane then.

I remember being a little concerned that the very elegant and sartorial black man sat reading stage right with his crucifix gleaming in the bar lights, would not take too kindly to the nature of my words. I didn't know then just what The Queen's Head was, nor that he and I would continue a long and fine friendship... I'm glad he survived those days.

I'm glad we all did.

Although I just don't know how.

Sing For Your Supper