On October 7th, 2011 I hosted a group of friends, music fans, and anyone I could fervently convince that they would be very, very remiss in missing a show by C. R. Avery in a small, unusual venue in the heart of Ottawa, and just steps from my house taboot.
The small back deck that my friend and I built behind my little red Mexican villa-style house (that was said to have been a barber shop a hundred years before) was big enough to host the dozen or so folks that came by for drinks and pre-show BBQ. Though I was hoping my earnest ranting and raving about the mind-bending, unique talent of the man I call Cravery would draw out more of my associates, when we eventually strolled across the street to the Old Town Hall we ended up forming a good 40% of the audience, which was pretty impressive.
This was my first and only show at the Old Town Hall. The ‘venue’ was upstairs in a small attic-like space with a handful of folding chairs and a guy selling not very many beers from behind a folding table that was set up along the side of the room.
When he came out and started the solo show, Mr. Cravery blew my Waits/Bukowski/Zappa-loving little mind, as he is wont to do. Landing somewhere between deftly musical beatboxing, slam poetry, and heart-wrenching whiskey-drenched laments that could silence even the drunkest crowd, Cravery is almost too daring and adventurous for his own good. He’s a talent well worth exploiting and yet he seems to do all he can to keep from being properly exploited.
Which, I have found, is a widespread problem amongst remarkably singular (genius?) artists.
After the show we invited Cravery back to the house and he came by, abstaining from everything except a steady stream of cigarettes. He was fairly quiet and reserved, an obvious outsider among a group of friends, more likely to stand on the fringe and observe than actually take part in the action himself.
But then he can easily be excused for not being the life of the party. After all, he had been the host and emanator of two glorious, innard-exploding hours of bliss already that night, while we had all just sat and gaped in awe. That sort of thing takes a lot of energy; maybe Cravery gets his superpowers from cigarettes.