Ipswich’s Festival of the Beats hailed a success

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Jason Hayes

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Jason Hayes - Credit: Archant

For the second time, Ipswich has played host to its very own Beats Festival. A celebration and amalgamation of wordsmiths and wondrous poets, music makers and vagabonds which saw a tapestry of artists come together over a five-day period, with great success.

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif - Credit: Archant

Subterranean Arts, directed by artist Paul Fisk and Alison Catchpole, welcomed us once more to the Beats, an event which takes the spirit of the American Beat generation, situated in Suffolk.

The Vagabond’s Lounge saw Adam Horovitz headline the evening. Son of 2014 Beats headliner Michael, Adam broughts a 180-style on political poetry, rhythm and prose.

“The Beat Generation is a big part of my understanding of poetry. I’m more influenced by people like Gary Snyder. The more pastoral, rural element and the more zen. I follow more in my mother’s footsteps,” he said.

Candidate for Mayor of London and long-time resident of Suffolk Lee Harris joined the festivities with some emotional words on the topic of moving on and his experiences in South Africa.

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif - Credit: Archant

“The Beats are my heroes. I love their artistic endeavours, spontaneous minds, their poetry and I’ve been following them for at least 50 years. Knowing Mandela as a boy was a wonderful struggle. I was inspired.

“I came here because I didn’t like what was going on with the apartheid. I came here to go to drama school as I wanted to be an actor, but I’ve always been an activist, fighting against injustice.”

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At one point Mr Harris was accompanied by a jamboree of musical art, jamming away spontaneously with sounds and words. Among them, Jonnie Herbert on Sax, whil an artist known as NatureCulture - aka Mr Lee - strummed soulfully on his bass and Fender amp.

With his own slot, Mr Lee coined the Ipswich Beats as an “excellent event of Bohemian expression, getting all shamanic with the bass”.

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Jason Hayes

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Jason Hayes - Credit: Archant

Look out for more of his music which rings true to life’s little quirks.

He added: “If you are in need of positive vibrations and language nourishment this is the place for it. The Beatnik Circus.”

“Funding has definitely been a struggle,” commented Ms Catchpole, who explained how organising the event this year didn’t come without it’s trials.

“It was touch and go as to whether we would pull this off again. But our artists and guests have been wonderful, helping us and each other.”

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif

Festival of the Beats. Photo: Amira El-Shareif - Credit: Archant

“It’s what Ipswich needs,” said Sam, a first time Beats-dropper. “But it needs more support, more advertising and funding because more people should know about this. Sitting in a church or a café with some wine watching people make words and music is so beautiful and relaxing and exciting.”

It’s not all hipsters and funketeers playing banjos and waxing lyrical. The weekend featured the UK premiere of The Good Blonde at the Ipswich Film Theatre. The film recently screened at the City Lights bookstore, San Francisco, so called the “heart of Beat culture”.

Promising to be a “far-out, spontaneous, collective experience” the Festival of the Beats 2016 certainly delivered.

Mr Horovitz added: “It’s a movement that keeps coming back. The movement hasn’t been picking up so much traction in the urban centres, but it does claw its way back out of the woodwork in difficult and interesting times and these are certainly interesting times.”

The Beat Generation exhibition is on at the Subterranean Boulevard Gallery, St Peter’s Street, until April 16. For further information about the next Beats and getting involved click here.

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