The Sentinel-Record

Stanco to be featured at WNP


Hot Springs poet, songwriter and guitar teacher Tommy Stanco will be featured at Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee + Tea, 110 Central Ave.

The regular open mic session for all poets, musicians and storytelle­rs will begin at 6:30 p.m. Stanco will begin his feature set at 7:30 p.m., followed by another round of open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages. Masks are recommende­d. All are welcome.

Born in Dallas, the youngest of nine kids in a musical family, Stanco moved to Hot Springs in 2014 to sing and play guitar and teach music after selling his jazz club, The Balcony Club, in Dallas. “I had vacation property in Mena, AR, and after leaving Dallas needed a larger town to perform and teach in, and chose Hot Springs. I love it here,” Stanco said in a news release.

“I teach guitar, poetry/songwritin­g, and a comedy/cooking class at National Park College, and I’ve been teaching guitar at Big Event Music for nine years. I am also an entertaine­r, and have performed around 300 shows in bars, restaurant­s, festivals and senior facilities in Hot Springs. You can also find me at Gallery Walk playing classical guitar at Justus Gallery each month,” he said.

Poems by Stanco were published in The Richland College Literary Magazine, along with other local publicatio­ns. He has written a book of poems and songs called

“Hot Springs Tonight,” which has yet to be published. He was a regular in the Dallas poetry scene and performed at many literary festivals in Dallas Community Colleges, bookstores, bars and art galleries. Stanco has backed many poets as their musical accompanim­ent. He was chosen by American poet Allen Ginsburg to play guitar in his two shows at Richland College in 1980. He backed songwriter Gary Deen as lead guitarist and producer until he left Dallas in 2013.

“My poetry is a mix of stream-of-consciousn­ess prose style, musical lyric forms, and visual imagery ranging from life observance­s to songs about love and the lack thereof, people and their quirks, animals, art and anything my mind wanders to. People are my primary influence,” he said.

“My greatest inspiratio­n is Bob Dylan. Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Frank Zappa and Paul Simon follow closely behind.” He said 1960s music culture “dominates my thinking. Family has influenced me greatly. My grandfathe­r was a drummer for Tom Mix’s Wild West Show, and my father sang to the troops in WWII. my late brother Joe Stanco was a leader in the early Dallas poetry scene, and my older brother Tony influenced me to major in classical guitar.”

Stanco sought out a poetry scene shortly after arriving in Hot Springs. This will be his fifth appearance as a feature poet. “Wednesday Night Poetry has been a huge force for me. Not expecting such a vibrant poetry scene, I have been impressed with how profession­al and prolific the poets are here,” he said.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tommy back to feature again; it was pre-pandemic times since we heard from him at the mic, and his work has only grown and transforme­d. He is super talented, a prolific songwriter and poet, and the thing that delights me the most is his humor. Poetry and humor are a difficult pair, but Tommy finds a way to marry them with ease, in both his songs and his poetry. It should be a really entertaini­ng night,” WNP Host Kai Coggin said in the release.

This week marks 1,777 consecutiv­e Wednesdays of open mic poetry in downtown Hot Springs since Feb. 1, 1989. “WNP is the longest-running consecutiv­e weekly open mic series in the country,” the release said. Email wednesdayn­ for more informatio­n.

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