I first met CR Avery seven years ago at the Allen Ginsberg memorial poetry reading at the late Olde Times Cafe in Vancouver where he walked in, completely unknown to any of the events' attendants, and blew everyone away with his incredible skills on the harmonica, and especially the way he combined it with spoken word. We performed Wild Orphan together, and it was the first time I'd ever experienced the happy union of poetry and beat boxing.
CR went on to create the hip hop opera Freight Train Land which was produced at the Western Front theatre in Vancouver and was so successful that he took it on the road to San Francisco and New York, among other places. Some highlights of this play included T-Paul Ste. Marie as the Janitor and the amazing violin skills of Monica Lee. When the show took to the road, the great Shane Koyczan took over as the Janitor, which lifted the whole production to another level completely.
CR's latest dramatic work was Shotgun Wedding which played locally here at Zesty's Cafe, and from it came forth some of the greatest tracks on CR's current cd Disclosure, which came out last year. In addition to writing and producing cross-genre drama perfomances, CR has also been one of the brightest stars on the Vancouver Slam Poetry team, alongside such talent as the above-mentioned Shane Koyczan, Barb Adler and RC Wesloski, who can be seen on the third Monday of every month at Cafe Deux Soliels.
CR grew up in Ontario, but moved to Vancouver in his early twenties and quickly fell in with the local performance poetry crowd, realizing that he had a voice to share, as well as a level of artistic integrity that has become an inspiration to his community. CR's writing is an often melancholy, always soulful and painfully honest look at human nature, and tends to feature in his musical pieces, which of late have tended towards a strange but beautiful union between hip hop, folk and Chicago Blues.
CR is an easliy identifiable character on Vancouver's Commercial Drive, with his mop of curly hair, red leather jacket, harmonica never far from his hand, and if you're lucky, his beautiful four-year old daughter Dawn in tow.