Last year local poet Dave Caserio tried something new, an evening of poetry and music at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. (aka the Garage Pub).
He called it “WordSongs: The Sacred, Profane, and the Weird.” The evening featured some of the most talented folks in Billings, including Parker Brown, Dan Charney, Clay Green, Trevor Krieger, Alex Nauman, Pete Tolton, Katy Kemmick and The Tiny Trio. It was a romping success.
Caserio knew that he wanted to do it again this year, though he didn’t just want to do “WordSongs 2.” This year he wanted to build on the collaborative spirit of “WordSongs” and his past project, “A Feast for the Hunger Moon.”
“I wanted to get more people involved,” he said. “One thing I love about Billings is that it has a real sense of community. The different art groups actually talk to each other. There is a lot of talent in this town, and I want to bring that talent together.”
Inspired by the wonderful arts community, Caserio’s latest project is called “Arc of the Communal.” It will be a celebration of the arts community and will feature a multigenerational cast of some of the best local talent including baritone William Mouat, director of education and cultural outreach at the Alberta Bair Theater; dance from Ricki Lu Feeley, artistic director of the Terpsichore Dance Company; Anna Paige, Walking Dead Poetry Slam champion; Pete Tolton, Billings Grand Slam champion; Nate Petterson, Montana Slam champion; and guests John and Katy Kemmick.
The evening will also feature an all-star house band that includes Parker Brown, Dan Charney, Alex Nauman and Brad Edwards.
For Caserio, the Garage Pub is the perfect place to hold a celebration of the arts community.
“The Garage Pub really has that community feel to it,” he said. “They bring in a lot of great bands, but they pay attention to a lot of the local talent as well. It’s pretty cool to be performing poetry and music and there is a 3-year-old on his father’s shoulders bouncing around. And having someone in the audience that’s 75 as well, and everybody in between.”
Caserio sees art as community. Take theater, for example. You have the writers, directors and the actors, but you also have the theater where it happens and the people who come to see the show. Everybody brings something to the table.
For Caserio, that’s the meaning of community. And for Caserio, “Arc of the Communal” is not just a celebration of a community artists but also a community of patrons.
“That’s where that ‘Arc of the Communal’ comes in,” he said. “We will have the arc of our community there: the young to the old, not just in the audience but the performers, too. We all carry our stories inside ourselves, and this gives us a chance to share some of those stories.
“Also, if you look at the material we are going to do, it also allows for the arc of the past, with music traditions, and poetry traditions and stuff from my past in New York City or being a kid in the south side of Chicago.”
Some people look at art as separate from life experience, but not Caserio. For him, art is inseparable from life and reaches all the way back to human beginnings.
He doesn’t see different kinds of art as separate. Be it painting, poetry, dance or whatever, for Caserio it all has the same roots. This ethos is apparent in all of his recent Billings shows, but “Arc of the Communal” will prove to be a raising of the bar.
Admission is $8 at the door. Doors open at 4 p.m. and music starts at 5:30 p.m. June 9 at the Garage Pub. To accompany good YVBC brews, The Rocky Mountain College Jazz Ensemble will hold a barbecue fund-raiser.