Last.FM Bio: Of Ellyn Maybe’s new poetry/music CD, Rodeo for the Sheepish, the legendary rock critic Greil Marcus wrote, “I heard half of the long, quietly mesmerizing “City Streets” on the radio—what was this? A woman with a poem, with music and a sung chorus not behind her but circling her, and the poem neither exactly recited nor sung, but spoken with such a lilt, in a voice so full of miserabilist pride—at forty, a woman is still getting high-school insults tossed at her (“Hey Mars girl,” a man shouts on the street, “get off the Earth”)—that it’s music in and of itself. There is no bottom to Maybe’s inventiveness, to her adoption of Nirvana’s Oh well whatever never mind as an artistic tool, to a confidence that allows her to toss off a bedrock statement on the American character (“There are people / who know the cuckoo is the state bird / of most states of mind”) in a throwaway voice so that its humor hits you not as a joke but as an echo. There is nothing like this album except for the real life it maps.”
Author of eight books of poetry but even better known for her engagaging personality and performances, Ellyn was convinced by fans from the music world to adapt her spoken-word prowress to a musical format. Their delight at the results can be seen from a few typical reactions:
- Jackson Browne – “I have started to write something about you…several times, and each time I am struck by my inability to describe what you do in terms beautiful enough, original enough to do you justice. … Who has ever been able to say in other words what a song says? Maybe it’s why I like your poems so much; they say what can only be said in exactly the way you say it. The best way of turning someone on to you is to play you for them.”
- Henry Rollins – “Ellyn Maybe is an irresistible force. To…listen to her poetry is to be gently and completely crushed while simultaneously inspired and charmed. The honesty with which she so exquisitely reveals her vulnerabilities, desires and pain is beautiful and rare. … Reading Ellyn’s poems from the page is one thing but hearing…them just the way she meant them to be heard is something else altogether. … The musical accompaniment on the album is not mere background filler but a true collaborative effort between Ellyn and the musicians that really works.
Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ellyn has spent her adult years in New York City, Prague (Czech Republic) and Los Angeles. She is often identified as “a Venice poet”, part of the historic arts movement that has seen Venice, California from being one birthplace of the Beat Movement to its present status as a 24/7, beachfront boardwalk circus of arts, commerce and tourism. She is affiliated with Venice’s famed Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center, performing there monthly and inviting any attending poets to perform with her great backup musicians.
Ellyn has also appeared at such prominent venues as South by Southwest, Lollapalooza, the Poetry Project, Bumbershoot and the Los Angeles Times Book Fair, the Taos Poetry Circus, and the Albuquerque and Seattle Poetry Festivals. She has performed in Europe at the Bristol Poetry Festival, on the BBC, and in poetry slams and readings in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Prague. She opened the MTV Spoken Wurd Tour in Los Angeles and has read at USC, UCLA, NYC’s The New School and many other colleges.
Writer’s Digest named Ellyn one of “Ten Poets to Watch in the New Millennium”. She’s been anthologized in Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and American Poetry: The Next Generation, Another City: Writing From Los Angeles Poetry Slam and Poetry Nation, among others. She was on the 1998 and 1999 Venice Beach Slam teams…and earned her Screen Actors Guild card from a featured cameo in Michael Radford’s film “Dancing at the Blue Iguana”.
Rodeo for the Sheepish features such memorably musical talents as Geggy Tah’s Tommy C. Jordan, The Untouchables’ Danny Moynahan, and producer/composer Harlan Steinberger of Hen House Studios. Rabbits Running’s Robbie Fitzsimmons has recently joined the ensemble.
Tags: Ellyn Maybe and her Band, ellyn_maybe, Greil Marcus, Harlan Steinberger, Hen House Studios, henry rollins, Jackson Browne, last.fm, los_angeles, new york city, prague, Robbie Fitzsimmons, Rodeo for the Sheepish, tommy_jordan, venice