We did warn you.......!!!!
FULL NAKED POETS HISTORY
In the early 1990's Marco Gliori and Muzza Hartin had become good mates, both having won The Imperial Hotel Bush Poetry Awards, and more importantly, established themselves as a couple of young larrikins who loved spruiking their original poems around the various venues at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Not long after they hit their straps, along came the 'real' larrikin, Bobby Miller, and together these three mates began doing shows and hitting the road through Queensland and Northern New South Wales performing to packed outhouses, and lubricating their throats in the process.
It was around this time, another Poet, Shirley Friend (who, like Marco, had cut her teeth in the Folk Festival Scene) was upsetting some of the Bush Poetry 'Traditionalists' with her raunchy yarns, delivered in a unique and very cheeky pommy accent. Marco, Muzz and Bobby loved her style.
It was Shirley who first put on a Naked Poet's Show in The Wamuran Hall, via Caboolture, sponsored by the local FM Station, compared by the Naked DJ (with a strategically placed gumleaf) and featuring as one of their guests (check this out) The Territory Drover, Bruce Simpson. I doubt if you'll find that on Bruce's resume. Marco and Bobby were also on Shirley's Naked Poets Show that night.
At this stage, Marco, Muzz and Bobby, who were being featured at The Longyard Poets Breakfast during Tamworth Country Music Week, decided to do a night show where they could give their audiences a little more, play around with some theatre pieces and invite a heap of other Bush Poets to be part of this 'experiment'.
These original shows were called 'Not The Elvis Presley Show' and 'Laughs, Lies and Larrikins' and, over two years , in a small church, they packed in 100 willing guests each night, invited singer, Dennis 'Dingo' Dryden to join them, and the concept was off and rolling.
After a couple of years in the Church, The Tamworth Golf Club offered the Poets a bigger venue, and this is where The Naked Poets were born. Marco, Muzz and Bobby, invited Shirley Friend and Ray Essery to join them as a 5 person Poetry Team, and that first year at The Golf Club, linked up with Scrubby Gully, an Inverell Bush Band featuring Fats Hardy. Each night the crowds continued to swell.
Like 'Dingo' Dryden, Scrubby Gully were unavailable the next year, and the poets needed a PA, and production as well, so Singer/Song Writer/ sound engineer Pat Drummond was invited into the fold, to perform and produce the show. Finally, the package was complete.
The last minute idea by Pat and Marco to record the 1997 shows at The Tamworth Festival onto... wait for it.... Pat's Sony mini disc recorder, using only a few extra time aligned audience mikes, proved to be one of the best "what if..." ideas ever. The original concept was simply to give the performers a record of the shows which were, in the main, pretty organic and grew across the seven nights of the Festival, with the attendant possibility of a solo album for Marco. After hearing the entire show, however, the crew realized that with popular pieces like Turbulence, The Mr Whippy Rip-off, Toilet Paper Line Dance, and a heap of raw comedy, this in fact was a unique album that just might appeal to a wide audience.
That first year Pat, performed, ran the sound, recorded, and then, went to work during the festival, editing the discs. By the end, the result was good enough for him to call in his long time recording buddy, Barry Henninger, to add his considerable studio experience to complete the project. Working on a model part way between live stand-up comedy and Radio Theatre the result, 'Naked Poets...liev'... fueled mightily by Murray's comedy classic, "Turbulence", was a runaway success.
The rest was poetic history. By mid 1999 the ABC Shops and Centres, Collins Bookstores, The Country Music Store in Brisbane, St Mary's Sound Centre in Sydney and a myriad of other local suppliers had been selling thousands of copies of the CD . Sony custom was in it's 20th pressing and John Nutting's Saturday Night Country (ABC Nationally), Ian Macnamara's Australia All Over (ABC Nationally) and The John Laws show 2UE were all featuring tracks from what had basically became the audio CD world's equivalent to the Blair Witch Project.
In later years Pat was joined by Mal Shepherd and Shane Johnson in recording the show and over the next decade The Naked Poets, individually and collectively, went on to record Five albums with Shoestring Records, winning 6 Bush Laureate Awards (including Album of the Year in 2001 and 2003) with performances that were either recorded, edited or produced by the team. Not bad considering that the troupe didn't even enter Naked Poets 1 in The Bush Laureates ...they thought it wasn't Bushy enough), The albums produced an amazing run of . sales across Australia. The longevity and success of the troupe was testament to the 'behind the scenes' mateship that had existed from the start, and from which the Naked Poets concept was born.
While it was Murray who had written the 'lightning strike' hit single that began it all and who, doubtlessly became the de facto 'star' of the show; it was Marco, whose creative energy as the uncontested 'Chairman of the Board' , that convened the group and wrote most of the 'review type' scripts that kept it all on track. Julie and Carol (Marco and Pat's wives handled the sales and business end while Ray, whose 'bewildered Dairy Farmer' character developed an enormous cult following, also brought his accomplished skills as a wood worker to the team, building most of the theatre props for the shows throughout the decade. Pat wrote the songs and produced the albums while desperately trying to teach the poets to sing in tune. Shirley, who had come up with The Troupe's name and the Bobby Miller, provided laugh after laugh with their irrepressible antics.
But it was far more that their individual accomplishments that made The Naked Poets such a highly successful act.
As Murray Hartin said " It was a strange, weird, 'licorice all sorts' mixed up chemistry that emerged between the poets themselves and their rowdy participative audience which made each Naked Poet show such a distinctive Australian event."
There were no heroes in their rough and tumble self-effacing comedy and the good natured roasting Murray Hartin received on Naked Poets 2 for the outrageous success of "Turbulence" is testament to the good natured mateship that was so much a part of the ethos of country comedy.
Then came tragedy. When Bobby Miller passed away at his home in Mungar, Qld. ; the poets had to think seriously about whether the troupe could continue. Bobby was a pivotal member of the Naked Poets team. An enormous talent in both serious and comedic poetry, he had won a vast array of Bush Poetry and Country Music awards throughout his career. He also authored a number of publications and had written songs with both Mark Tempany and Brian Letton. Bobby's poems have been performed by hundreds of aspiring Bush Poets at Poets Breakfasts around Australia over the last fifteen years.
Bobby had not been well for some years, but his performances were still amazingly energetic and he never failed to give his absolute best to his audiences.
after Bobby's death, Pat still had enough archival material to produce two more albums but, in 2009 with the release of their last CD ' Loose ends and wobbly Bits", Bobby's material was exhausted. The poets never at any time considered replacing him. "You don't replace a member of your family", Pat said simply when asked about the possibility on ABC radio.
It was time to finish and , as usual, The troupe timing was impeccable. In 2009, The Naked Poets performed their last shows at Tamworth and scheduled a national farewell at The Gympie Muster. Having released Naked Poets Number 5 they decided to finish up on their own terms and go out on a high.
The most notable thing about the Naked Poets troupe was that each of the Performers were unique entertainers in their own right, traveling around Australia performing at corporate functions and festivals, walking the boards at Pubs and Clubs, whilst inspiring a whole new generation of comedy fans, to find a little humour in their own lives, and celebrate the good natured Aussie ribbing, that we all deserve.
The Naked Poets were like a fine recipe, so many different flavours, very filling, and with an delicious aftertaste that will have us licking our fingers for years to come..
to Order contact Shoestring Productions
P.O. Box 7013, Leura, 2780
phone 02 4788 1157
fax 02 4788 1162
or go straight to the Naked Poets Order page