Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cartoon Justice/Faults video from Studio Grand!

Many thanks to Punk Rock/Free Jazz/Improvised Music fan and ace video documentarian Bill Russell!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Early April show roundup!

So far, April has been interesting. A couple of shows, some more video shooting for Radical Medicine, and word of cool stuff coming together for a bit later in the year. For now, I'll stick to those couple of shows......

Crow Crash Radio-111 Minna Gallery, SF CA; 4/6/18
Just getting into the city on this Friday night was a real schlep. A giant later winter rain storm pounded the Bay Area all day. By the time I'd begun heading into San Francisco, all traffic was simply crawling along. Thankfully, Brian Strang had graciously taken my drums the night before; all that I had to do was get on BART and head into the City. Even so simple a task as that was daunting, as, naturally, "system-wide slowdowns" reigned (pun intended). Eventually, Andrew, Brian, and me ended up at 111 Minna's Zappa Room for the our set. My memories of this gallery date back to the early 1990's, and man, has the place changed. What used to be a tiny, humble little art gallery has grown into a seriously swanky joint. Huge bars, tons of art by world wide renowned artists, wow! The Zappa Room stage is great, too. Plenty of room to spread out. One strange element was the very bright lights that illuminate the stage. I had to don sunglasses just to keep from getting a migraine. Crow Crash Radio started our set a bit shaky. I guess it was nerves, as we were up on display for a lot of artists and art fans, people that were coming through to see the Geeks, Freaks, and Strange Art show opening. After a bit of time, we found our groove, and managed to put in a nice, somewhat loud hour long set to start. Plenty of cool Psych moves occurred, and the interactions felt fine within them. People sauntered by, in between taking in the paintings. Some checked out the theremin, others swayed to the beats. It was somewhat relieving to realize that most of the people there were more interested in that art: we could pretty much stretch and expand and do what we wanted to do! It seems like this realization freed us up. Nice and loose! After a short break, we played a zippy, half hour set. This one was a bit more frenetic, definitely more focused, and ended with a solid version of Tarifa, my favorite Crow Crash Radio tune. A fun, crazy evening, entertaining the art world luminaries of the West Coast!

Below: Crow Crash Radio rocking out at 111 Minna (photo by Elisa Brasil, thanks Elisa!)
Above: Crow Drums

Cartoon Justice-Studio Grand, Oakland CA; 4/9/18
A couple of days later, and Cartoon Justice found ourselves back at Studio Grand for the second time this year. We owe a debt to Fernando of Oakland Freedom Jazz Society, as he's been pretty generous about booking us over the years. Many thanks, Fernando! We shared the bill with the cool Electro-Acoustic group Faults. See this band if you can. Drummer Kevin Corcoran is really great. Earlier in the day, I had been thinking about the recent passing of Cecil Taylor, and a small chord progression floated through my mind. I was next to a piano, so I quickly plucked the sound onto the keys, writing down its D flat major notes onto a post-it. I emailed a brief description to my pals in Cartoon Justice. Mika proceeded to confer with Jorge and Jaroba from Faults. It was agreed that we'd combine forces to do a two group version of this simple melodic cell. Awesome! We actually pulled it off, too. Jorge programmed the notes into his synthesizer, and the rest of us improvised around it. I had fun playing forearm strikes onto Studio Grand's piano, in tribute to the late Master Taylor. This action eventually faded into a brief, intense duet between Eli and me, which felt really pointillist and hard. We then moved into a frantic, slightly shaky version of Spirit Aligned Truth and some improvisations that felt like weird, heavy, emotional tribal music to me. We were loud and raw. It was a nice contrast to the subtle sounds of Faults, hopefully. Our forty or so minute set concluded with Kersti and Mika pairing up for some Blues-inflected abstraction. This set was ragged but right, infused with some really manic energies.

Below: Cartoon Drums (note piano, not damaged by my forearm); post it with notes
April certainly has gotten off to a good start for me, musically. Things will be quiet for the next couple of weeks before a cool gig in Sacramento happens. More on that later. I've got work to do. Keep your powder dry.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cartoon Justice plays Oakland this Monday!

Cartoon Justice returns to Studio Grand this Monday!
Cartoon Justice
Studio Grand
3234 Grand Ave.
Oakland 94610
9:30 PM

We will be playing a Free set.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Crow Crash Radio this Friday in SF!

Crow Crash Radio is stoked to be playing at 111 Minna Gallery this Friday. We'll be the band during the opening reception of the Geeks, Freaks, and Strange Art show. 
Fri., 4/6/18
Crow Crash Radio
The Zappa Room
111 Minna Gallery
SF 94105
5-7:30 PM
Should be a strange time......

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Dead City Shaman-the Pit at KFJC; 3/29/18

Spring time after good amounts of rain is my absolute favorite time in California. My drive down 280 to KFJC on the evening of 3/29 gave plenty of pretty spring views. The hills appeared emerald, the air was clean. Lovely.
Jack Hertz and I had decided on giving our duo the Dead City Shaman a few weeks back. Jack grew up in Maryland, I spent time in Virginia, and we both had formative musical experiences in Washington D.C. Hence the name.
We both arrived to KFJC a bit early, and were able to have our gear set up quickly for Grower and the engineering staff. A bit after 10 PM, we started to play. Our set unfolded with a nice slow pace, me on waterphone, Jack on synths and processing. After a good wait, I switched to electric m'bira, in much the same manner as our Luggage Store gig in January. Things started to loosen and roll, but remained spacious. Jack started to throw in vocal samples, sliced and diced on what turned out to be a simple iPhone app. At this point in the set, I started to feel trance-ed out. The blue light in the Pit surely helped here, when paired with the sounds we were generating.
Things got wild, and we played and played. All told, our set lasted almost two continuous hours! Balafon paired with shakers, flutes paired with synths, any and all manner of electronics processing occurred as the sounds fed into Jack's loop machine. There were times when I stayed silent, simply letting Jack's synth sounds drift over my consciousness. Thankfully, I was always able to drift back in and play some more.
After a brief interview with Naysayer, we drifted out into the parking lot to the sound of frog calls in the still warm night air. Other than their sounds, it was quiet. Beautiful.

Below: Jack and gear; Jack and me in the interview room

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Playing with Jack Hertz this Thursday on KFJC!

We're billing ourselves as Dead City Shaman.
Thu., 3/29/18
10 PM Pacific.
89.7 FM in the SF Bay Area.