Music has taken rapper and singer Aaron Hauprich, better known as “Poet,” across the country.
The Saratoga Springs native performed at his first open mic night about four years ago in Pittsburgh, while working for a state-to-state, door-to-door marketing company. For about nine months, he traveled with the company, performing at open mics and events at every stop.
“It was good, because I got to find out [about everything] from different accents to different styles that people would have,” he said of the experience. “A lot of artists made an impact and affected how I perform, how I got better. . . . I was never after anybody’s style, but I always have an ear for it.”
He’s since been back to the Capital Region, although only intermittently, and has never stopped performing at open mics. Two years ago, he was back in Pittsburgh, auditioning for “American Idol” — he ended up passing through the first round of auditions, only to be eliminated in the next round. Shortly after that, he spent some time in California, once again hitting the open mic circuit.
Aaron ‘Poet’ Hauprich
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Moon & River Café, 115 S. Ferry St., Schenectady
How Much: Free
More Info: 382-1938, www.moonandrivercafe.com
“The whole actual experience of meeting different people from different states was the big eye-opener that I don’t have to be stuck in upstate New York,” he said. “I can leave.”
Hauprich is back home — for the time being, anyway. He has once again become a regular fixture at the Moon & River Café open mic on Sunday nights, which he’s been performing at off and on for three years now, and is working on his first full-length album, “Knights of the Round Table,” which he hopes to have completed by March. On New Year’s Day, he will headline a full show at Moon & River.
Back to home base
The cafe is something of a musical home base for Hauprich. He began freestyle rapping and singing over live musicians at the first open mic night he went to there — prior to that, he would often perform a cappella or with a pre-programmed backing track. His performances at the cafe have grown over the years into large improvised jams involving any musicians that want to join him onstage.
“I just liked the environment and the people; everybody actually listened to the performer, and everybody was just very respectful,” he said. “So basically I was asking — because they didn’t have any electronic setup, so maybe we can try some instrumentation. And different people said, ‘Hey, I’ll do it,’ and then that was it. That was the formation of something good.”
The show will feature some freestyle performances with live musicians, but will also integrate tracks from the new album, which he is currently recording at Tattoo Blues/Golden Productions in Schenectady. He may perform spoken word poetry, as well. “I don’t like to be simple — I like to work at different angles, so people don’t expect one thing,” he said.
Poetry was actually Hauprich’s starting point in music, hence his stage name Poet. From an early age he was surrounded by music, although it was more classic rock than hip-hop, and he drew early inspiration from his grandparents and uncle. He began writing at age 13, with performance poetry following.
“There wasn’t a lot of close friends and stuff like that, so poetry to me . . . I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just a form of release for me. I never considered the whole rap thing or hip-hop thing, because I grew up from classic and alternative rock, so hip-hop was — it wasn’t even there right there, it was just writing.”
Eventually, he branched out from artists such as Bob Dylan (his dad’s favorite) and The Beatles, discovering Tupac as a teenager. “That was when I actually started listening to hip-hop,” Hauprich said. “He was the first [hip-hop] artist [I listened to], because he was deep and poetic with his words, and how he said everything, it was just like, damn.”
Like Tupac and other influences such as Kurt Cobain, Hauprich often focuses on the personal in his lyrics. But he always keeps the message positive.
“Basically I like to spread awareness of different topics that are going on within me and without the world, and I like to always take something and then have the positive message,” he said. “It’s kind of like the happy story at the end of the story, just to bring hope back in societies and communities, be a spokesperson.”
In line with this, and in addition to the new album coming up, Hauprich is now working on getting his own open mic night off the ground at Apostrophe Cafe in Proctors. The first of what for now will be monthly open mics will be on Friday, Jan. 4. But with Hauprich already planning shows and video shoots in California next year, he may not be around to host it for very long.
“I want to actually start [the open mic], and then I want to find someone else that can run it, after I stay for a while,” he said. ‘[I want to] have something going on so different kids can get out of the street, basically, and come to something — be able to learn about writing, poetry if they’re interested, and be able to open their minds for themselves, explore their talents.”