WAMFEST 2013 Coming October 28th, 29th and 30th!

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. with tags , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by wamfest


Save the dates – WAMFEST returns to FDU’s Madison campus on Monday, October 28th, Tuesday the 29th, and Wednesday the 30th!  This year’s festival will focus on Appalachian heritage and how we can help to preserve and extend both its arts and the environment that gave birth to them.

Confirmed performers include the experimental, socially conscious and incredibly gifted poet C.D. Wright (pictured), former coal miner and iconic old-time banjo player Lee Sextonthe very talented and entrancing country/jazz songbird Tomi Lunsford (also the great niece of influential folklorist and musician Bascom Lamar Lunsford), and Joe Lovett, founder and executive director of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, an exceptional and important organization that works to save Appalachia from mountain-top removal coal mining and other atrocities.  Throughout the events, WAMFEST performers and organizers will emphasize and discuss environmental advocacy relating to Appalachia and the Hudson River.  As usual, our wonderful Artist-in-Residence Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding will be hosting the festival.  More performers T.B.A.

WAMFEST is free of charge.  Non-students are strongly encouraged to attend; tickets will be available soon.  Stay tuned for more details.


WAMFEST Fall 2012 Videos Now Available

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on December 1, 2012 by wamfest

If you missed any of our October shows, or want to re-watch some of your favorite parts, check out FDU’s YouTube Channel for free streaming of every event.  Enjoy!

WAMFEST Fall 2012 Photo Review

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on November 8, 2012 by wamfest

Enjoy these beautiful photos of last month’s WAMFEST events, courtesy of Dan Landau and Scott Giglio.

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Photos Coming Soon!

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on November 5, 2012 by wamfest

We do have quite a few lovely photos from the recent WAMFEST events, but Hurricane Sandy has made it quite difficult to get them up here on our blog.  Please stay tuned, they’re coming soon!

Review: POEMJAZZ feat. Robert Pinsky, Ben Allison, Dave Stryker and Steve Slagle

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on November 2, 2012 by wamfest

By: Becky Fine-Firesheets

Robert Pinsky’s poetry, especially when delivered in his baritone voice, is like silk.  But Pinsky (pictured left) didn’t just weave tapestries with his words at POEMJAZZ, the final WAMFEST event held on Thursday, October 25th.  Once he had lulled his audience to that sweet, silky spot, he would shout a graphic, realistic line into the microphone and everyone would jerk up on edge.  Then he’d easily bring them back down, only to jab them again, this time with a philosophical statement that hit just below the belly, a phrase that most likely churned there for days until its meaning finally clicked, a meaning completely unique to the listener, perhaps even opposite of what Pinsky intended.  But more than having his intentions completely understood, Pinsky seemed to want to be felt.

His delivery, phrasing, foot-tapping and hip-swaying all combined flawlessly with the impressive band backing him up, featuring jazz greats Ben AllisonSteve Slagle and Dave Stryker (pictured below).  Slagle’s saxophone squeals, winding solos and punctuated flute lines enhanced Pinsky’s sentiments, offering a new take or a different direction on the words without losing track of their original feel.  While Slagle often batted themes back and forth with Pinsky, Allison tended to actively play his upright bass throughout each piece, rooting the band in syncopated lines that mimicked Pinsky’s lilt.  Guitarist Stryker bounced back and forth between these two roles, sometimes offering strange yet beautiful solos, other times strumming chords that made the piece feel like a complete, composed song rather than a poem set to improvised music.

After an engaging hour of performance, Artist in Residence Wesley Stace joined the men onstage for a Q&A.  An interesting and thought-provoking conversation ensued.

“We’ve never played together before,” Allison explained.  “We, as musicians, share a common knowledge that we build from.”  He went on to discuss the experience of improvising and how listening closely to one another plays a major role.  Pinsky added that, to him, phrasing is the most important element of jazz.  Through paying attention to his poetic phrases, he can easily hear the music behind it all.

The attentive audience filled up Lenfell Hall with students even sitting on the floor.  While some people viewed the performance with a bit of skepticism, seemingly everyone took something valuable away from it; the chatter floating around afterwards was not just praise but also thoughtful extensions of the themes, ideas and emotions Pinsky so expertly planted inside of them.

Review: Chip Kidd, Graphic Historian

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on October 29, 2012 by wamfest

By: Dave Wielgosz

Chip Kidd himself is a product of his own brilliant sense of design.  He walked up the steps at the WAMFEST event on Tuesday, October 23rd wearing an intricately composed outfit made up of a brown canvas jacket, a cap out of the 1940s, and khaki pants that looked average at first glance but were actually littered with tiny, black, jolly rogers.  The whole outfit was accentuated by wire-framed, coke-bottle glasses that immediately made clear this was a man of character.  I, as usual, was wearing my black t-shirt and blue jeans outfit that only Louis C.K. would appreciate, and had to stand in front of the crowd and introduce this man.  Other than helping put together a function that was befitting of Kidd’s body of work, my goal was to come off as a fan with a certain amount of intelligence and class that he could respect.

Chip Kidd’s work has meant a great deal to me.  I’ve been captivated by his book designs and by his sense of getting to the heart of whatever it is he’s designing.  However, I’d be lying if I told you this is the part of his career I appreciate the most.  As an avid comic book reader, I think of Chip Kidd first and foremost as the man who packaged graphic novels in a way that allowed them to stand out and pop as the beautiful works they are.  After collaborating with luminaries of the medium like Frank Miller, David Mazzuchelli, Dave Gibbons, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and plenty more, Kidd has now joined their ranks after the premiere of his first graphic novel, Batman: Death by Design (beautifully illustrated by British artist Dave Taylor). Furthermore, Kidd’s work as a historian of the medium, focusing on the creation of exceptional coffee table books that reflect the rich history of the medium’s global impact, has meant the world to me and many of his fans.

When David Daniel, the godfather of WAMFEST, asked me if I would participate in putting together this event, I jumped at the opportunity.  I tried to perfectly encapsulate Kidd’s life in the biography I wrote of him, but more importantly, I was given the very significant task of setting up a display of his work.  I spent two days selecting the perfect books, arranging them in the right order, talking it all over Denise the librarian, and generally stressing out a great deal about it.

“I think the display looks great,” Kidd said to me before the event.

My favorite designer thought my display looked good?  I was over the moon.  And, more than that, my favorite designer was incredible in every way.  Accompanied by a beautiful PowerPoint presentation, Kidd spoke eloquently about his body of work, ebbing and flowing with the requests of clients and the criticism of others, being an author, being a comic writer, and generally being a creative person.  Even when he told stories about how his designs didn’t get off the ground for certain projects, he expressed no anger or sorrow.  He just let it roll off his back and kept working.  The passion and humor he exuded as he talked was inspiring.  When I walked around the room after the event, everyone, even people I had begged to come, were really happy they made it out.  Chip Kidd is a good man but more importantly, he’s an incredible role model for creative people everywhere, someone whose work ethic and ability to roll with the punches is admirable, and impeccable.

Dude also has pants with jolly rogers on them.

WAMFEST Fall Festival, This Tuesday the 23rd – Thursday the 25th! Robert Pinsky, Chip Kidd, Donald Harrison Jr. and More.

Posted in Poetry and Music Festival. Creative Writing. Songwriting. on October 22, 2012 by wamfest

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s WAMFEST returns on Tuesday, October 23rd, Wednesday the 24th and Thursday the 25th with its first fall festival featuring three days of music, readings, interviews and conversations.  This year’s impressive lineup includes world-renowned poet Robert Pinsky, celebrated graphic historian Chip Kidd, the highly acclaimed and regarded filmmaker Jonathan Demme, incredibly talented and influential musicians Donald Harrison Jr. (pictured) and Ben Allison, plus many other remarkable performers.  We’re also very excited to provide a few of our students with their first opportunity to perform on a WAMFEST stage at Readin’ N Rhythm’s Move On Up Showcase, featuring Brooklyn-based artists the Yoni Gordon Orchestra and nonfiction author Melissa Faliveno.  All events are, as always, hosted by WAMFEST’s dynamic Artist in Residence Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding.  See the full schedule below and learn more about each of our performers here.

Many thanks to our founder and curator David Daniel, and to our amazing sponsors Bob and Patricia Pures; WAMFEST would not be possible without their extraordinary generosity.

Tuesday, October 23rd
2-3 pm in Hartman Lounge (the Mansion): “WAMFEST Presents Chip Kidd: Graphic Historian”
A presentation by, and conversation with, the celebrated editor, novelist, lecturer and reigning superhero of design. Please see his extraordinary website, GOOD IS DEAD. GO FOR GREAT. 

7-10 pm in Dreyfuss Theater: “WAMFEST Presents Readin’ N Rhythm’s Move on Up Showcase,” featuring New York artists nonfiction author Melissa Faliveno, rock bands The Yoni Gordon Orchestra and The Brooklyn Players Reading Society, plus student and faculty performances.

Wednesday, October 24th
3-4:30 pm in 
Dreyfuss Theater: “WAMFEST Presents The Fight for Home (A New Orleans Story) with Donald Harrison Jr.Daniel Wolff and Jonathan Demme”  Demme and Wolff will screen a 20-minute clip that serves as a blueprint for the next movie of their series of NOLA documentaries. It features Herreast Harrison and is scored by her son, Donald Harrison, Jr.  Wolff will read (or do something, who knows?) from his new book, The Fight For Home: How (Parts Of) New Orleans Came Back.  A conversation and performance of some sort!

7-9 pm in Dreyfuss Theater: “WAMFEST Presents Jonathan Demme’s I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, The Mad, And The Beautiful, with Jonathan DemmeDonald Harrison Jr. and Daniel Wolff.” A screening followed by a conversation with creators Jonathan Demme and Daniel Wolff and composer Donald Harrison, Jr.

Thursday, October 25th
3:30-5 pm in Lenfell Hall (the Mansion): “WAMFEST Presents POEMJAZZ with Poet Robert Pinsky, Bassist Ben Allison, Guitarist/Composer Dave Stryker and Saxophonist Steve Slagle”  Three-time US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will perform his poems with an all-star jazz trio brought together for the first time.                                                 

All events are free.  Non-students are strongly encouraged to make reservations by emailing wamfest@comcast.net.  Learn more about the performers here, and view a map of FDU’s campus here.


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