We first encountered Shaun Gary Palmer at Purbeck Folk Festival back in 2014. He performed an impromptu set which turned into a marathon performance after receive cheers for a fourth encours. Now more than seven months later Shaun’s spontaneous performance remains in my memory as the highlight of Purbeck Folk festival. But Shaun had not gone to the festival as a musician, instead he was there to take part in the poetry slam, which he won! We have never before knowingly featured an artist who is also a poet, so we were very excited to talk to Shaun and hear his story.
I have been a musician for years, but have never considered myself a singer I’m more interested in making people understand what I was trying to convey. Poetry is quite new to me I have only been doing it for about 2 years. Poetry is much scarier, you can’t hide behind an instrument. When I started I found myself holding the microphone wire, using it as a barrier between me and the audience. Poetry may be scary but the people I have met on the poetry circuit are really friendly. There are two poetry clubs/meetings in Bournemouth, Freeway Poets which is held at The Winchester and Verbal Remedies at the Anvil. Both are so positive everyone wants you to do well.
In our video which accompanies this interview Shaun introduces his song, briefly explaining that he wrote it for a song writing contest.
We were given four days to write a song about one of three subjects, the subjects were; Forever Yours, Pot Noodle, or Tidal Waves. I combined all three, making Forever Yours the theme and mentioned Pot Noodle and Tidal Wave in the lyrics. The second round we had to write a song in twenty minutes, because the competition was held at a bar called The Inferno the theme for this song was fire. I still consider that to be one of my best songs. The winner of the competition would get signed by a record label, I didn’t win but I was in the final three.
Shaun told us that his musical adventures started back when he was 16 as a bass player in a Ska/Punk band. But as often happens the band fizzled out when all band members left to go to university, leaving Shaun as a bass guitarist without a band. It was the encouragement from friends that made Shaun start to perform as a solo artist.
In 2010 I wrote a song about the football world cup, it was about England playing really well but still falling short when playing against teams like Spain and Brazil. It was just a funny joke song. I played it to my friend who told me I had to go to the open mic at O'neils in Bournemouth to perform it. I had a great time and met lots of new friends, since then I have performed at one open mic every week.
Shaun is such a familiar face on Bournemouth's open mic circuit that he now hosts his own open mic every Monday at the Four Horsemen in Bournemouth.
I didn’t plan to host an open mic, I don't really plan anything. I work at the Four Horsemen as a chef, I was asked if I fancy running an open mic. I thought; yeah why not, how hard can it be. It turns out to be quite hard, last week we had thirteen people all wanting a slot, this week only three. It is hard because you never know what is going to happen every week is different.
Attributing much of his success to luck, and good old fashioned word of mouth. I asked Shaun if he had much ambition for the future or if he is happy to just catch the breeze and see what happens.
All I ever wanted to do was go to festivals for free, if I can play a few gigs making a bit of money, and in the summer go to festivals for free I’m happy. I used to go to one, sometimes two festivals a year. For the last two years I have managed to attend seven festival each year. This coming year is looking like it might be just as fruitful. I came second in the poetry slam at Boom Town last year which has granted me entry this year.
Sound Recording by Tom Jobling