Earth's Most Powerful Poetry Band
Totem Maples, one of few official Poetry Bands in Los Angeles, got their start in 1997 playing the coffeehouse scene in the San Gabriel Valley East of downtown L.A. Named after the diverse relations on a totem pole, diversity in sound and style is what gives TM its power. Led by poet Larry Handy on vocals, the band consists of Joanne Kim on piano, Justin Punzalan on turn tables, Brian Sadler on electric guitar and organ, Erik Elsey on drums and percussion, and Matt Coleman on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The band blends folk, jazz, hip hop, rock, avant-garde, and spoken word poetry. What separates Totem Maples from other poetry bands is their jam based feel. Instead of reciting poetry to background music, Larry Handy recites WITH the music. The music is tailor-fitted to each poem and when the poem stops the music ventures off into free flowing improvisational solos. In the SLAM-influenced spoken word scene, poetry that captures the attention these days is the political kind. Totem Maples steps out of the way bringing a life message draped in a deep symbolic language reminiscent of Arthur Rimbaud and Pablo Neruda. Their recordings remind the listener of The Doors’ AMERICAN PRAYER album. The song "Gethsemane" was nominated for BEST SPOKEN WORD SONG at the 2004 JUST PLAIN FOLKS MUSIC AWARDS. At the 2006 INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS competition both albums Trip to the Sun and Ars Poetica were finalists for BEST JAM ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Trip to the Sun also received a second nomination for BEST RAP/HIP HOP ALBUM OF THE YEAR. The 2013 INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS brought the group a win. The album In the Realm of the Senses album received the Vox Populi award for BEST SPOKEN WORD WITH MUSICAL ACCOMPANYMENT. The impact of In the Realm of the Senses was felt years after it's release; I.T.R.O.T.S. received a BEST SPOKEN WORD ALBUM AWARD from the 2017 JUST PLAIN FOLKS MUSIC AWARDS. Two songs from the album "Owlium" and "And the gods were music" also received BEST SPOKEN WORD SONG nominations.