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L.A. Beat

Hobo poetry with Sonis McAllister

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Sonis McAllister and the Barracuda Orchestra.Sonis McAllister and the Barracuda Orchestra is Lethbridge’s answer to the Polyphonic Spree, which apparently included former members of the popular Dallas band. The orchestra, dressed as turn of the century carnies, laid down a jazzy groove, while McAllister tapped out a rhythm on an old tin pipe and wandered through the crowd with a megaphone reciting his beatnik inspired poetry about carnies turned stockbrokers, hobos and other crazy cats  he has met on the road.

“A few of us were part of the Polyphonic Spree before they made it big,” said Dallas transplant, McAllister adding he was fired by bandleader Tim DeLaughter after being in the collective from 2001-2003.
“We’re the anti-Polyphonic spree,” McAllister said adding he was hoping to push the collective into more spoken word, similar to what he is doing with the Barracuda Orchestra.

“Most of us are new to the community. Lethbridge seemed like it was close to the border. We like Canada a lot, but we still have a lot of affiliation with the United States,” he said.

“And it seems like the police here are more receptive to us selling the snake oil we’re selling,” McAllister laughed.
“Poetry is easier to understand than singing. There’s a lot of repetition. My poetry  has a lot to do with socialism and carnival workers and hobos,” McAllister said describing himself as a hobo.
“I’ve been a hobo since 1996. I realized I wanted to work to live, not live to work,” McAllister said citing Tom Waits as a major influence on his poetry.
He has travelled extensively and bases his poetry on his experiences.

“There’s lots of interesting characters out there,” continued McAllister who has a poem about a native reserve he visited in Germany.
Sonis  McAllister and the Barracuda Orchestra haven’t performed live in Lethbridge much. They played an open mic before  the South Country Fair and then a set at the South Country Fair as well as at Henotic, Aug. 24. They are planning on performing at the national hobo convention in Britt, Iowa, next August.

—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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