June 7th Bus Driver’s line-up!

Choose Your Own Poet: Nathan Penlington

We have an absolutely belting line-up of acts for you at this month’s Bus Driver’s Prayer.   Featuring poet, storyteller and magician Nathan Penlington; Kiwi folk duo Amy Grace and Mara Simpson; up-and-coming and rather astonishing poets from the Roundhouse Poetry Collective; and rootsy multi-instrumentalists Eli; and the delightfully perverse Mansour Chow.   Hosted by me, Richard Purnell. Jamie remains gallivanting around the indian subcontinent for another month.

Doors at 7.30pm and show starts at 8pm.  £4 entry, less for Picturehouse members and concessions


Here’s some more info on the acts:

Nathan Penlington

Described by the Guardian as “an absolute sensation” and we couldn’t agree more. Nathan is a brilliant poet, storyteller, comedian and magician. He’s also an obsessive and will be bringing his new show, Choose Your Own Documentary, to the South Bank soon. www.nathanpenlington.com

Amy Grace & Mara Simpson

Amy brought a quarter to the last Bus Driver and was, quite frankly, thrilling. Here she’s going to be joined by Mara Simpson, a very different, but equally talented, performer, who’s rolling in all the way from New Zealand.  http://www.maraandthebushkas.com/

Roundhouse Poetry Collective

This collective brings together the cream of the young spoken word crop. Maria Ferguson, Cecilia Knapp and friends are seriously talented and are very quickly becoming established poets ion the London scene.  www.ceciliaanneknapp.tumblr.com


I had the massive pleasure of meeting these guys recently down in Brixton where their folk compositions, love of playing, incredible musicianship, blew me away. www.WeAreEli.co.uk

Mansour Chow

A man as brilliant as he is perverse; as shadowy as he is stylish; quite possibly he is a man of many aliases, who travels from country to country with nothing but his old-world charm and words of wisdom as passport and currency. A rare opportunity to see Mansour Chow!


Rob Moir, Richard Tyrone Jones and Amy Grace – May line-up

We have a delightful trio of feature acts for May’s Bus Driver’s Prayer, taking place on Thursday 3rd May at Hackney Attic, the performance space within Hackney Picturehouse on Mare Street. Entry is £4 (£3 for concessions, £2 for members)


Alt-folk artist Rob Moir is flying in from Toronto, Canada, to play a short European tour and we are lucky to have him play at the Hackney Attic. Rob’s songs are provocative, personal and honest in a style reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and Bruce Springsteen’s more reflective moments.

His latest video, A Love With No Past, is a wonderful wistful banjo-led piece:


Do find out more about this unique talent on his Facebook page, and come see Rob Moir live!   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rob-Moir/108328305898424

Richard Tyrone Jones!!!  

Dilettante ginger wrong writer: Richard Tyrone Jones

Hailing from Wolverhampton, poet Richard Tyrone Jones’ work ranges from the amusingly daft, through the witheringly self-deprecating to the poignant and formally innovative, always cut through by ironic humour and bold leaps of the imagination.   Richard will be reading work from his acclaimed poetry collection, Germline, and performing sections of his remarkable show Richard Tyrone Jones Has a Big Heart, which charts his near-death from and ongoing recovery from heart failure.

“Sobering, hilarious and ultimately uplifting” New Scientist

“A thoughtful and ginger poet” Tim Key


Amy Grace & Friends!!!  

Amy Grace is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand with a wonderfully pure voice, beautiful songs and charming stage presence. Amy will be joined by a cast of musicians at The Bus Driver’s Prayer for what should be a very special performance.  http://www.myspace.com/accousticamy

April 2012 Bus Driver’s Prayer – pictures and report

The Bus Driver’s Prayer on Thursday 5th April 2012 at Hackney Attic was a remarkable event. Our first featured spoken word act, Sean Mahoney, delivered a typically brilliant set of powerful, complex poetry covering subjects from the London riots to romance, mixed with hilarious, off-the-cuff comedy.

Brilliant poetry from Sean Mahoney

Letitia Mckie then gave a masterclass in sonnet-writing, as well as a poem about a subject most of us can relate to: the objectionable nature of some humans on public transport.

Sonnets: Letitia Mckie

Next up was Dane Etteridge, guitarist for the Ordinary Boys and Lonsdale Boys Club, finding time in his busy touring schedule to deliver a quartet of indie-guitar songs, backed by BDP host, Jamie Smart.

Ordinary boys guitarist plays solo: Dane Etteridge

"Have you heard of Eugene Christophe?" Simon Mole gives a bit of Tour de France-related background to one of his poems

After poems from co-host Richard Purnell came Simon Mole. The storytelling poet covered his Brighton upbringing, his love of cycling and his relationship with his grandfather in a brilliant and varied set. He was followed by our headline music act, Silvia Stone and the Pandas – a band formed of beatboxer, trombone, guitar and voice. The unusual combination provided a perfect backdrop for Silvia’s witty, catchy songs, as well as an astonishing version of Massive Attack’s Teardrop which was arguably better than the original.

Absolutely stunning: Silvia Stone and the Pandas

Finally, our photographer managed to catch Manchester poet Andrew Brown, who’d rocked the open mic,  as he toddled back off to Stoke Newington on every Bus Driver’s Prayer goers favourite form of transport!

Manchester's most droll: poet Andrew Brown

Pictures from March 2012 Bus Driver’s Prayer!!!

The wonderful Kristy Clark does her thing

Apocalyptic psychedelic jazz improv poetry theatre: Grassy Noel & Ape

Deep bass and soul vocals: Maliek Bennett

Sartorial: Jamie and Richard

A voice so pure it could cleanse the devil: Faisal Salah

What is The Bus Driver’s Prayer?

For some reason the word 'chancers' springs to mind

For a few years in the mid-2000s I lived in Hastings, East Sussex. There, I wasted some of the best years of my life, listening to gangsta rap, drinking Lynx lager and lazing about on the beach with the local tramps.

Hastings is a brilliant place. It is full of wasters of all stripes: musicians, artists, drug addicts, pensioners. As a reporter on the local newspaper, I had the good fortune to enjoy the company of many of these people.

One fateful day, a drunken Gooner by the name of Matt Jacobs invited me to a gig one of his friends was playing: a kid by the name of Jamie Smart. I went along and saw a teenager who was playing the first songs he had written. Hunched over a guitar, he was singing tunes which owed a bit to the Libertines and a bit to Starsailor. There was the first flickering of a talented performer.

Fast forward a few years and Jamie and I are both in London. I’m doing spoken word; he’s been gigging solidly for years. He strolls into the open mic I host at the Ritzy in Brixton.

At the beginning I ask the crowd to recite The Bus Driver’s Prayer, an old song which Ian Dury recorded on his final album in the early 1990s. Later, Jamie gets on stage and gives a performance full of swagger and charm as he wows the crowd with his rhythm guitar and emotive voice.

Afterwords, we get chatting about old times and new times. I moot the idea of us doing a night together: a combination of music and spoken word, with some of that free and easy fun which makes Hastings such a delight.

A while later we manage to secure a spot on the first Thursday of every month at Hackney Attic, a new performance space within Hackney Picturehouse.

Then there is just a matter of the name. What should we call it? Nothing too specific: we both hated those Ronseal-type names. We wanted something suggestive of creativity, of fun.

“Why don’t we call it The Bus Driver’s Prayer?” Jamie says.

I liked the idea very much. And there a night was born.