Sunday, January 31, 2016

Romus/McCaslin/Pino Trio-KZSU Day of Noise, Stanford, CA; 1/30/16

Owing to completely insane SF Bay Area traffic patterns and a family emergency involving a very sick relative, this gig was incredibly strange for me.
Collette, Rent, and I showed up at KZSU with minutes to spare: seriously, we had about twenty minutes to set up, git mic'ed, test levels, etc.
A quick drink of water after that, and BAM!, it was on! Right after the set I sped off across the Dumbarton Bridge and into Fremont and the Kaiser hospital there.
We filled our allotted thirty minute set, and then some, with a scrawling, skronking blast of noisy Free movements and dirty electronics. I had a great time wailing away on a very small kit and my pocket theremin; my mood was definitely effected by thoughts of my uncle who is currently hospitalized and in really bad physical shape. I tried to release that angst into joyous Noise. It was fun to play my Tibetan singing bowl again, too, an instrument that I hadn't touched in a couple of years.
As always, it was a real treat to play with Rent and Collette. Their sounds mean a lot to me.
Many thanks to KZSU for giving us an slot on this annual roster's great event!

Below: the set up, and my small kit

Below: Romus/McCaslin/Pino trio in action,  livestream screen shot capture by Melissa Crockett (thanks, my dear!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I will play KZSU Day of Noise this Saturday evening!

I'm excited to have another opportunity to play KZSU's Day of Noise this Saturday, 1/30! I will play in a trio with Rent Romus and Collette McCaslin.
We will play from 6-6:30 PMST at:

Noise/Improvisational Music fans should just tune in all day! It's gonna be great! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pure Finder-Doc's Lab, San Francisco, CA; 1/20/16

Driving into San Francisco last night, Andrew Palmer of Pure Finder, Sung Kim, and myself had a conversation about the drastic changes that have taken place in the cities that we love, and their effects on us, subjectively. This talk hit home for me as walked down into Doc's Lab, the North Beach space that used to house the Purple Onion. The latter, rooted as it was in funky 1950's Beat aesthetics, was an endearing mess of a joint. Doc's Lab, with its smooth lines and chic interior, not so much. San Francisco is no longer interested in dumpiness, and that's just the way that things are now.
As for the music, I felt that Pure Finder had a great, albeit somewhat short, set. We played two pieces, totaling about 25 minutes. It feels like we're getting closer to the concept that we've envisioned for ourselves, one that could be described loosely as "Space-ed Abstraction".
Doc's Lab has a nice Gretsch kit for a back line drum set, and I enjoyed playing it, along with some of my favorite cymbals and the Waterphone. I used a few repeated rhythmic motifs as little mental guideposts, coming back to them when I felt that I needed to. This strategy seemed to work well. Andrew did a nice job tweaking the sounds that his contact mics captured from the drums.
It was a real treat to be a part of the Sonic Scientists show! Look out for the next Pure Finder gig, scheduled for mid-February!

Below: Andrew Sets up
Above: Gretsch Catalina drums, very nice
Below: Sung Kim sets up for his solo set
Above: a nice pic of an SF classic!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pure Finder this Wednesday!

This Wednesday, Pure Finder will be playing in San Francisco! We are happy to be part of the Sonic Scientists series, and will play with some really great acts. I've seen Smomid and Sung Kim, and they're awesome. Also on the bill will be B1 and Rich DDT. Should be a fun night, full of odd sounds!

Doc's Lab
124 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco CA 94133
8PM Sharp

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Feral Luggage live footage!

Live at Berkeley Arts Festival Building, 1/15/16.

Thanks to Jeff Klukowski and Monica Berini for setting this up! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hardly Strictly Personal "Loud Bands" Show-Berkeley Arts Festival Building, Berkeley CA; 1/15/16

After an incredibly intense day at work, I was somewhat worried about how I'd have the energy to play last night, but when I arrived to Berkeley Arts Festival Building, things felt sort of emotionally light and happy. I suspect that Mika and Kersti were relieved to have 2016's installment of Hardly Strictly Personal wrapped up!
Just like last weekend, I was happy to have a bunch of chances to play my drums. I'm really grateful for ANY opportunity to do so.

Crow Crash Radio-1/15/16
Just like last year, Crow Crash Radio was joined by our friends Brian Lucas and Garrett Caples on bass and vocals, respectively. In keeping with the Captain Beefheart focus of the event, we presented our take on Sho' Nuff Yes I Do from Safe As Milk. It turned out to be a Psych Blues romp, with Brian Strang pasting all kinds of greasy slide guitar all over it. We vamped for a long time, going through different rhythmic variations. It felt sort of like a Hawkwind jam to me, not a bad thing at all! In light of that, I tried to get a chant of "...time we left this world today..." going, but I'm not sure that anyone else heard me! It was great to get a chance to jam with Brian Lucas again!

Below: Crow Crash Radio vamps it up! (photo courtesy of Alison Niedbalski, thanks Alison!)

Feral Luggage-1/15/16
Feral Luggage did a very short set. We played what Mika described as being "29th Century Pop", an Avant Garde lyric song, really. It featured singing by Eli Pontecorvo, and I kept things pretty quiet at first, at least until Kersti Abrams starting piping in with her alto sax. At that point, things got a bit more Free and loose, and we jammed it up a bit before fading directly into Alphastare's set, during the end of which I sat in for a minute on small percussion and flute.

Below: Feral Luggage (photo courtesy of Alison Niedbalski, thanks Alison!)

My evening ended with ebolabuddha. Although I was bummed to miss Jason Ague, who has moved to Colorado, the set was still quite enjoyable. We played three pieces, starting with a Noise-flavored reading piece (I read Ovid!), after which we got, dare I say, Jazz-ey even, before busting into some Black Metal moves. Our Beefheart song was Lick My Decals Off Baby, done sludge-ey slow and peppered with a few more blast beats for good measure. I even sang a bit of the tune, but forget the second half of the tune! Sorry, Mr. Van Vliet, wherever you are! Our pal Lorenzo sat in with us on our third piece, which went from fast to crawling and back again before fading off into a single note from Steve, Eli, and Lorenzo. Raucous fun, as usual!

Below: ebolabuddha sets up

Many thanks to all that showed up, participated, stuck around, or supported Hardly Strictly Personal 2016!

Below: bonus shot of Ruminations from 1/10/16, with Brandon Evans! (photo courtesy of Alison Niedbalski, thanks Alison!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hardly Strictly Personal Personal 2016 Concluding Show this Friday night!

This Friday night at Berkeley Arts Festival Building, Hardly Strictly Personal 2016 will have its final installment! I will play a lot, again! Here are the details:

Berkeley Arts Festival Building
2133 University Ave.
Berkeley CA 94704
7:00 PM

I will play with Crow Crash Radio, Feral Luggae, and ebolabuddha. Several other acts will play, too! If you're in the East Bay on Friday night, please consider attending some or all of this great benefit event!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hardly Strictly Personal Weekend #1-Berkeley Arts Festival, Berkeley, CA; 1/9-10/16

Every time that Mika Pontecorvo has one of his benefit show weekends at Berkeley Arts Festival, I marvel at how much cool music there is to be heard in the SF Bay Area. It's so fun to able to hear so much local talent, both established and emerging!
Also cool is the fact that I got to play a lot over the weekend. Here are some impressions...

Ear Spray-1/9/16
We played a somewhat quiet set, and, sadly, managed to clear the room pretty quickly. I guess that people don't really "get" our sound, but, hey, one can't really let that sort of thing get in the way of one's muse, right? Carlos suggested that we had some "surprisingly restrained and beautiful" sounds; his bass and harmonica contributions were quite new for Ear Spray! I had fun playing a stripped down kit of shakers, djembe, and cymbal, along with a new "theremin in a box" tiny pedal. Ann focused on her Cardew Choir influenced vocals and projecttions of Don Van Vliet paintings which were on large on the walls of the space.

Below: Ear Spray rig
Above: Ann sets up

Bridge of Crows-1/10/16
After a few hours rest over night, I was promptly back at Berkeley Arts Festival space for day two on Sunday. I got to catch some more great music before Bridge of Crows' set! Donald Robinson, crikey, what a drummer! Dang. Bridge of Crows played two pieces, one shamanic drone-er during which I enjoyed playing some waterphone and Free Jazz moves on the kit, and then our Saharan-Siberian mixture of the Beefheart tune Ant Man Bee during which I played a lot more rhythmically steady. I'd say that it felt pretty cosmic to me, due especially to Mika's chanting, Eli's heavy bass lines, and Kersti's North African reed instrument. A nicely spaced out set!

Below: Cartoon Justice in black and white (photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks, Amanda!)

Well, not exactly ebolabuddha! On account of a booking mix up, and Steve being away in Japan, ebolabuddha recruited our pal Scarp Home to sit in on looped guitar. Our concept entailed using mostly Captain Beefheart lyrics, printed out and left in front of the group, as a way to entice audience members to join us. Thankfully, many did! We played as softly as possible for the most part, or to paraphrase Scarp, " if we weren't there at all...." It was fun and hilarious to interact with the people that did read along to our quiet sounds. They really helped us along. I got all clickey-clacky on the trap set, and spent a few minutes out front, egging the audience on. Showbiz!

Below: ebolabuddha done in iPad art! (courtesy of Russell Ward,, thanks, Russell!)

Compared to ebolabuddha's set, Ruminations' set was pretty furious. This iteration of the the band featured eight members, including Heikki Koskinen, Matt Davignon, Christina Stanley, Jacob Pek, Rent Romus, Brandon Evans (in from New York City!), and Peter Whitehead. We played one 25 minute improvisation, and it felt incredibly fiery to me. Seriously off the chain at times. Christina sounded especially aggro, which was amazing. She could not be stopped! It was tough to hold back behind all that, as I was sitting right next to her. That, and all of the electronic sounds, were seriously inspiring. Fun, fun, set of Out Music!

Below: Ruminations exploding (minus Brandon Evans; photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary., thanks, Amanda!)

Instagon #699-1/10/16
Finally, to end night two of Hardly Strictly Personal 2016, Instagon brought its Free Funk fun to Berkeley. I was really stoked that Lob asked me to play with him; when I played drums for Instagon at the Make Out Room last year, I had one of those "rough nights", so, in some way, it was a kind of redemptive opportunity. It's challenging to keep up with Lob's shifting bass patterns, but definitely worth the effort. I tried do lay down somewhat simple, yet interactive patterns for Kevin Ian Common, Jaroba, and Lob to play to. I basically tried to play like Bill Bruford! The set felt pretty tight to me, and Kevin got some really fine, abstract guitar tones from his axe; it also strikes me as strange that he was wearing a quite visible Alladin Sane pin on his guitar strap, now). Jaroba's bair sax was nice and low, too. Awesome stuff to play along to. Instagon keeps you on your toes.

Below: Instagon #699 (photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks, Amanda!)

All told, it was a really satisfying musical weekend! Many thanks to all that attended, and to those musicians that played with me. I am extremely grateful to all of you.

This Friday, the show continues!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cartoon Justice-KFJC, Los Altos Hills CA; 1/7/16

As mentioned in the preview for this gig, I was stoked to be able to play at one of the best radio stations ever, KFJC; when the Pontecorvos and I knocked on the front door, I knew instantly that the man that greeted us was none other than long time Fascism researcher and KFJC stalwart Dave Emory! Being a long time listener to his shows, I was pretty blown away! Thankfully, I was able to shake his hand and compliment him without sounding like too much of a geek (hopefully!)
Cartoon Justice got plenty of great support from sound engineer Eric and visual engineer Jacob. Those guys rule. We played one 50 minute improvised piece that was loosely scripted, and based around Mika's sampled and chopped Ornette Coleman sound files. It felt mostly good, with some improvised fire at times, along with quieter, more ambient interactions to begin and end, during which I enjoyed playing Waterphone and small metallic percussion. I was hoping for some wider spaces at times, but that's my only critique.
Hopefully those that listened or watched enjoyed our sounds, and we convinced some people to attend the Hardly Strictly Personal shows this weekend in Berkeley!

Below: Mika and Eli prepare to launch
Above: Eric of KFJC, great dude and great engineer
Below: drums and SO MUCH vinyl!

Below: live shot captured from KFJC live feed by Sheila Bosco, thanks Sheila!
Above: Waterphone and metals

Many thanks to Eric, Jacob, and all staff at KFJC for being such great hosts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cartoon Justice will play on KFJC tomorrow night!

An abbreviated version of Cartoon Justice, featuring Mika and Eli Pontecorvo on guitar/flute and bass, respectively,  and myself on percussion/waterphone, will play tomorrow night on KFJC! This appearance will be a promo for the upcoming Hardly Strictly Personal event this weekend. I'm VERY excited, as I've loved KFJC since the early 1990's, but have never played live on their airwaves. STOKED!
Tune in here at 10PM on 1/7/16:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hardly Strictly Personal 2016 this weekend!

Mika Pontecorvo's annual Captain Beefheart/Ornette Coleman tribute-based benefit concert will happen this weekend at Berkeley Arts Festival! I'll be playing a lot: Ear Spray, Cartoon Justice, Bridge of Crows, Ruminations, Crow Crash Radio, ebolabuddha, and Instagon will have me playing with them in some capacity.
There will be tons of great, talented musicians playing for pretty much two solid days straight!
If you're in or around Berkeley this weekend, please consider dropping some money towards Earthjustice, Homeless Action Center, and Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, as ALL proceeds go to them.

Hardly Strictly Personal 2016
Jan. 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
12 PM-10 PM each day
Berkeley Arts Festival Building
2133 University Ave.
Berkeley CA 94704