Buddy Wakefield’s performed his spoken-word poetry in some pretty interesting places, and now he’s hitting the road with Ani DiFranco.
The slam poet champ is signed to DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label, so both acts are gearing up to play the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Thursday.
Who: Ani DiFranco, with Buddy Wakefield
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Wakefield’s a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, he’s appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and he’s performed everywhere from CBGB’s to the San Quentin State Prison.
“I got into spoken word because I was such a mediocre guitarist and singer,” Wakefield said. “I found that I was good in this outlet of slam, and it was a fun gimmick to get people excited about poetry.
“I started out working at a biomedical firm, but I got up one morning and realized you only live once. I decided I was going to make things happen, so I left for the national poetry slams. I was asked to open for the individual finals and that nailed it.”
Wakefield now calls Seattle home and he’s worked a variety of jobs to keep his poetry dream alive. The artist developed a booking agency for poets, tended bar, studied to be a mortgage broker and demonstrated organic food products.
“In the middle of it all, I got a call from TV producer Norman Lear,” Wakefield said. “He was aware that I wanted to go to the first World Slam Finals and he offered to pay my way. I won the contest and got into the college circuit — and one thing led to another.”
Wakefield’s had a definite effect on the slam poetry movement. He’s released two books of poetry, several spoken-word CDs and his works have appeared in numerous anthologies.
The artist set the pace for troubadour poets wanting to tour the country and follow their dreams.
Wakefield’s knack for being in the right place at the right time paid off for his 2009 CD, Live at the Typer Cannon Grand. The record came out on DiFranco’s label and it’s given his work a wider audience.
“I love to speak to the universal and celebrate humanity in my poems,” Wakefield said. “I look at the good and the bad and offer some sort of solution. I want to offer a new perspective to hold people to higher standards.
“Now I’m on Ani’s Righteous Babe label. Her mother heard me perform at an art gallery and told her to think about working with me. It’s been a magical mutual respect being part of her label.”
Wakefield loves playing Denver, but the artist plans to let tonight’s set naturally evolve.
“I’m just going to let the moment unfold, as the audience unfolds,” Wakefield said. “After this tour, I’m heading back to Seattle and spend some time there. I’ll do some writing, but I plan to enjoy life and thrive.
“This fall I’ll be touring with the Night Kite Revival World Tour of America 2010. It’s the ultimate spoken word party experience.”