Monday, October 16, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekend show roundup!

I've got a Surplus 1980 rehearsal to attend in about an hour or so. Below, a brief roundup of this weekend's shows.

Surplus 1980-Classic Cars West, Oakland CA; 10/13/17
Riding over to Oakland from Richmond on Friday night, naturally my thoughts and prayers and sadness were directed toward Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties. The air was thick with smoke and ash, the news tragic and horrible. Such a bad week for this area. Thankfully, the vibe on 26th St. in Oakland was stony and festive, I guess mostly on account on it being a Friday night. Surplus 1980 were kind of in a weird spot, being sandwiched between the pure Electronic Music of Piano Rain and the Witch House of Religious Girls. I gather that this made some members of the group kind of nervous or out of sorts in a way. To quote Moe!, "one of these things is not like the others". Despite the nerves, I think that we sounded pretty good navigating our truncated set. It's always a drag to cut a set short, but time constraints made it a necessity to do so. I was happy to get through Temporarily Present again, gaff free, especially since I'd be mucking its changes up in rehearsal and practice all week. No such problems on Friday the 13th! Alright! Question After Ended Question came out pretty good, too, as did Motivated Song About Procrastination. Again, despite feeling a bit like the odd folks out, Surplus played pretty well, at least in my opinion. We donated any earned money to animal rescue groups in Sonoma. Religious Girls, with their swirling, percussive rainbow of sounds, are really great. It was their night, and I can absolutely see and hear why. Great band.

Crow Crash Radio-Free Oakland UP!, Oakland CA; 10/14/17
Compared to the previous evening's high strung feels, the quiet and care free action at Free Oakland UP! was in effect. Crow Crash Radio set up and breezed through about eight songs in two hours, stretching out their forms and going to whichever places they lead. It was a nice, airy couple of sets, to be sure. Whenever we play at Jocelyn's great shop/art project, we always have a relaxed, enjoyable time creating the soundtrack for people as they walk in and peruse the free stuff. We worked on a few new ideas and some purely improvised pieces, which was exciting. A fine way to spend a warm Saturday afternoon in Oakland.

Below: Moe! digs on his new drum kit at Classic Cars West; Moe! and Bill, guys that tune
Above: Crow Crash Radio surrounded by art and free stuff in Oakland

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Upcoming shows!

I will play a couple of gigs this weekend!

Surplus 1980
Classic Cars West
411 26th St.
Oakland 94612
6-10 PM
Religious Girls
Surplus 1980
Piano Rain
Surplus is scheduled to play at 8 PM.

Crow Crash Radio
Free Oakland UP!
2809 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland 94602
1-3 PM
Crow Crash Radio

Looks like and Oakland-ish type of weekend for me, musically. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Norcal Noisefest-Cafe Colonial, Sacramento CA; 10/8/17

What had seemingly promised to be a leisurely drive up I-80 to Sacramento was somewhat mentally fogged up by ominous winds and spooky haze. These were portents for both me and the region. In my personal case, hardly had I made it to the Capital City when I received a text from Andrew of Pure Finder, telling me that he'd had a major collapse in his gear and would not be able to play. As regards the Northern California region, the winds brought brutal fires to the region around Santa Rosa. Much of the news has been heartbreaking; indeed, one of the facilities of the company that I work for was razed.
Regarding Andrew's absence, I had to scramble a bit, but managed to put an ad hoc group together, with Ninah of Big City Orchestra/UB Radio and Shannon of Eurostache.  We dubbed ourselves the UB Alumni Asylum, as UB Radio Salon was the one common thread that we all seemed to share. Ninah played a mic'd cymbal, and Shannon played some digitally processed flute sounds and percussion. I stuck mostly to the waterphone. It was definitely a set that in which I flew blind. I can't recall what we sounded like, or even if my contact mics were working. Shannon and Ninah were both audible; they totally saved the day for me. Their perceptive, intuitive playing was really nice to hear. Noise trailblazer Monte Cazazza gave me a sweet compliment, so maybe, just maybe we did alright. Ninah mentioned that we got some cool, circular rhythms going, and Shannon seemed pleased. Perhaps there will be a recording forthcoming from Norcal Noise. Anyway, major thanks to Shannon and Ninah for helping a brother out.
Ear Spray's set was pretty unique for us, in that Carlos was not a part of it, due to conflicting plans. Ann was debuting her newfound passion, electric cello! I played a mic'd cymbal by itself. Things went alright to start, with some decent interaction between cello and cymbal. I must confess that I lost my way after a bit, and proceeded to jump out into the audience while crashing the cymbal on the floor. Instant karma for me, though, as this action destroyed one of my contact mics. I ended the set sitting in a chair with sweat rolling into my eyes and nothing to play. Ann sounded at her best at this point, though. Kind of a bust for me; hopefully Ann had a good time.
A few days before Noisefest, Lob of Instagon contacted me and some other players with a request to play a set of percussive, scraping, Industrial sounds to accompany his bass for Instagon #738. I readily agreed, and was glad to have done so. Instagon's set was truly satisfying, as the percussion work four players melded really nicely with the bass, guitar, and synth sounds. That set had the kind of clang and whirl that I so enjoy from Industrial music, that junkyard, steel mill aesthetic. I had a blast scraping the mic'd cymbal (yet again!) with a small metallic hammer and rolling a large chain across its edges. This one seemed to deliver the goods, satisfyingly rowdy and energetic.

Below: UB Alumni Asylum contemplate the sounds; Ear Spray on the stage
Above: Instagon #738 crankin' up the energy!

As usual, it was tremendous fun to play Norcal Noisefest. I always have a good time doing so. I really had to roll with things as the event unfolded in unplanned ways, but, that's just part and parcel of being in the Improvising Music scene. One just has to take things as they come.
Many thanks to Andrew, Lob, Ninah, and Shannon. Hopefully I'll find a way to get on next year's bill!
Below: Ear Spray video, courtesy of Ann O'Rourke

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Norcal Noisefest this weekend!

I'm stoked to be playing at Norcal Noisefest this weekend!
This event goes from Fri., 10/6 to Sun., 10/8. I will play on the 8th with Ear Spray and Pure Finder!
Norcal Noisefest Day 3
Cafe Colonial
3520 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento 95820

I will likely play with Pure Finder at 5 or so, and then with Ear Spray at 6:30 or so. The entire weekend will be filled with odd, wonderful, scary, ugly, beautiful Noise, so go over to Cafe Colonial or Luna's Cafe at any time this weekend!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Pontecorvo/Pino Duo-Adobe Books, SF CA; 9/30/17

Ouch and double ouch, what a tough set.
In planning and rehearsal for our duo guitar/percussion/electronics set at Adobe Books, things went really smoothly. Our line check showed all sounds sending signals to the software. Yet, something seemed to go horribly wrong, and only one of my percussion items, the waterphone, was showing up within Mika's Mac for processing. This left me feeling limp; instead of trying to "make something happen", I simply held back, probably too much, and just listened quietly to what sounds were able to emerge. Some kind of ghost in the machine came and haunted us, and it just fizzled slowly. In front of an audience.
Man, what a tough set.
Did I mention, "ouch"?
On the bright side, I found a sought-after copy of Western Lands, Wm. Burroughs last novel, that I've been hankering to read.

Below: Mika and Mark, trying to figure out what's going on (photo by Josephine at Adobe Books, thanks Josephine)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Duet with Mika Pontecorvo tomorrow!

I will be doing a duet with Mika Pontecorvo tomorrow evening at Adobe Books in SF. The gig, billed as "Computer Music: Architectonic Perspectives", will feature percussion and guitar sounds processed by software that Mika has written.
Adobe Books Backroom Gallery
3130 24th St.
SF  94110
John Bischoff
Sean Hamilton

We've had some good rehearsals/planning sessions for the set, and I'm looking forward to trying out our ideas.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble-The Bindery, SF CA; 9/27/17

The above picture seems to me to be a pretty good representation of the weather in SF as Andrew J. and I pulled up into the Haight for M-KAT Ensemble's Bindery show. One of those beautiful early autumn evenings that blended heat and wonderful light from the west. Man, what a lovely evening.
Last time that I played within the space that holds the Bindery, it had been a kind of raw food court type deal; now, it seems as though this bookstore/performance space is getting well established. Walking in, I felt nice memories from seeing various Bay Area musicians. Most definitely a fine and talented group of people.
As for the music, I had decided to let the heat-mellowed energy of the day seep in to my playing, with a resolve to not rush and to just let our set unfold. Bindery booker James set up with a limit of 20-30 minutes' playing time, and after brief discussion, the members of M-KAT Ensemble decided to "just play", with no plan per se, so I figured it would help to slow the pace and give our set some time to unfold. Thankfully, I was able to calm my mind and indeed let things happen, savoring the sound of Jacob Felix Heule's sweetly tuned trap set, which he graciously allowed me to play. The energy levels eventually began to rise, and it seemed as though we got to some pretty good, interactive improvised spaces with it. The energy rose and fell with a good, relaxed pace. Loose but connected, I'd say.
I only wish that we could have played a bit longer! Here's to hoping for more M-KAT gigs soon.

Below: Thomas sets up; sweet funky traps
Above: Kersti's rig

Sunday, September 24, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble this Wednesday in SF!

M-KAT Ensemble will play at the Bindery on Haight St. this Wednesday.
Wed. 9/27
The Bindery
1727 Haight St.
Kit Young
Elf Ass
M-KAT Ensemble

We look forward to playing!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Surplus 1980-Winters Tavern, Pacifica CA; 9/16/17

In what was presumably Surplus 1980's last public show for this year, we convened at Pacifica's venerable Winters Tavern on a Saturday night with the feel of autumn very much in the air.
I am always fascinated by Pacifica's unique blend of So Cal and Nor Cal. It sits squarely between the two, and has feels from both. Its sea salt swept hermetic vibe is really strange and appealing. I took a couple of walks around the neighborhood in which Winters is located in order to soak it up. On the first one, I saw a beautiful shade of orange-red on the hillside. Spectacular.
After a somewhat shaky rehearsal during the week, I spent as much time as I could re-learning certain aspects to Surplus' set. The songs can be somewhat tricky, and it just doesn't help to sleep on their changes. This worked for me: from Moe!'s opening beat of Pigeon Obstacle Course, I felt confident and aware of the changes. Inspired, really. It didn't hurt that the drummers from the two previous bands, Rip Room and the Tunnel, are so good. I dug on watching both of them as they drummed.
Surplus made through our current big opus, Temporarily Present, with only a small clam by me during the first part of the song. That one is getting really fun. Ten epic minutes of rumination on death. Good times!
Things got a bit weird during Failure of Commitment, as the electrical source for the entire stage went down. I decided to just keep up with the 16th note beat that drives the bridge section. I flashed on a story about Jaki Leibeziet that I'd read, in which the same thing happened during a Can set, and he just kept up with his drum pattern. Really, I resolved to play until I was physically stopped. Thankfully, no need for that. Nelly, Moe!, Bill, and Melne got their juice back and came back in, right on cue. Excellent.
Our set finished with good versions of John Cage's Perilous Night, Question After Ended Question, A Motivated Song About Procrastination, and, at the insistence of the audience, Morale Is High.
After a really fun night of music, I took the long way home, cruising up busy 19th Ave. in San Francisco and over to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge by way of the Golden Gate Bridge. Richmond Parkway is kind of spooky at 1AM in the glow of the Chevron refinery.
Surplus 1980 will hit the studio in October and November. I'm really excited to get all of the past couple years' hard work documented.

Below: great back line drum kit, provided by Tunnel drummer Michael Scott Jacobs, thanks man
Above: funny blurry shots of Bill, Moe! and Mel
Below: Mike Watt's bass on the wall of Winters Tavern

Above: moody Pacifica shots, such a lovely area

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Surplus 1980 plays this Saturday night!

Surplus 1980 will play in Pacifica this Saturday, 9/16, at Winter's Tavern. We're looking forward to this one, as the stage can accommodate both drum sets. We'll be doing a nice, long set, too.
Sat., 9/16
Winter's Tavern
1522 Francisco Blvd.
Pacifica, CA 94044
9 PM
Rip Room
The Tunnel
Surplus 1980
Should be a rockin' good time in Pacifica!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble-Studio Grand, Oakland CA; 9/4/17

After a sweltering three day heat wave in the Bay Area, it felt really nice to be driving into Oakland on Labor Day evening under temps merely in the 70's. People were out, too. Often when I pull up to Studio Grand for a gig, folks have already scattered from the Grand Lake District for other spots. Not so last night, true, thankfully also, at Studio Grand.
M-KAT Ensemble had a nice little group of people to play for. We were grateful for that. We started our set off with yet another graphic score, entitled Sandbar Music. Its concept was inspired by looking at sandbars in Maine in August. I was fascinated with the way the elements of sand, water, light, and shape all share the same space but do not necessarily interact in any obvious way. Instructions on the score prompted the theremin, winds, bass, and drums to play according to that type of parameter. It seemed as though we were able to develop a decent improvisation from it. After that one, we did three more short pieces, the last of which, featuring Kersti's flute, really seemed to take flight in a cool way. Also of note was the strange Industrial-like timbre achieved from Thomas's bass melding with Andrew's theremin. M-KAT seems to have some kind of almost junkyard feel at times. This is cool to me: I say that we pursue it! I was relatively happy with my playing, as it seemed like I was able to dig in and intuitively feel my way for most of the 38 minute set.
After M-KAT, Andrew Jamieson and Charles Peoples III did an incredibly cool duo of voice and piano, utilizing meditation techniques and audience participation to get to some very evocative and subtle spaces. Those guys are great, seek 'em out.
A fun night in which to decompress from the previous days' stifling heat!
M-KAT will play in SF later this month!
Many thanks as always to Oakland Freedom Jazz Society. Fernando rocks.

Below: M-KAT Ensemble sets up; drums

Above: The Sandbar Music graphic score, acrylic paint on paper

Friday, September 1, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble this Monday in Oakland!

We will do our second gig at Oakland Freedom Jazz Society's Studio Grand!
Mon., 9/4/17
M-KAT Ensemble
Jamieson/Peoples Duo
9:30 PM
3234 Grand Ave.
Oakland 94610

Hopefully some people will go! We'll be there, anyway.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lithium Milkshake digital single

Friday, August 25, 2017

Surplus 1980-The Golden Bull, Oakland CA; 8/24/17

Not one note had been played at this show before some really disappointing stuff went down. Baltimore band Multicult, out West on tour, had their van broken in to. They bummed heavily and split town for Eugene, leaving everyone saddened. I don't understand why people would rip off musicians that are pretty clearly not living the "good life". Didn't they ever learn the Golden Rule? I guess it will come back to them in some way, so no need for me to pontificate about it.
Surplus 1980 had a bit more time to fill in our set, so we started a bit later than expected and hit. Right off, it felt to me like one of those sets where good things were happening, and that there was no stopping us. That delightful "on" feeling where even errant stick patterns cannot stop the groove and vibe. I don't know if the rest of the group felt that way, but bassist Nelly was smiling grandly: a good sign.
We performed our most epic tune, the ten minute Temporarily Present, for the second time live. Its changes seemed to fall in place really well. Things progressed from it, our set opener, in a rockin', manic way. On account of space issues at The Golden Bull, Moe! did not bring his drum set, and we stuck to songs on which he plays guitar: Failure of Commitment, Question After Ended Question (well, bundt pan on that), Morale Is High, 99 Is Not 100, an improvised piece, and a surprise Ed Saad. That last one because we had more time to fill. Things flowed, guitars chimed, it all just seemed to click. The kind of set where its ending has me wishing that we could rehearse tomorrow.
Reptoid slayed. Definitely seek his gonzo Noise/drumming mashup out.
Hopefully we'll get another chance to play with Multicult.
Many thanks to ace sound engineer Justin at The Golden Bull for dialing it all in.
Below: my drums; Surplus 1980 preparing to hit
Above: best surreal shot of Nelly; a bill torn asunder by thievery

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Surplus 1980 this Thursday in Oakland!

A short opening set planned for this Thursday.

Thu. 8/24
The Golden Bull
412 14th St.
Oakland CA 94612
Surplus 1980
9:00 PM
We'll continue to play some newer songs, as well as older Surplus 1980 songs. Multicult are on tour from Baltimore. Oh yes. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Will Alexander/Mark Pino Duo-House show, San Francisco CA; 8/20/17

Los Angeles poet and musician Will Alexander's work been shaking my perceptions for several years now. I was happy to play with him on sets with Cloud Shepherd, and continue to love to read his writing. Hence, when Will contacted me to ask about my being available for a house show in San Francisco, with me on drums and he on piano, I jumped at the opportunity.
What a great house it was, too: the kind of place, filled with fascinating art and ideas that one just knows exists within a place such as SF, but may have to really seek out in order to find. What a gem.
It's my hope that the duo music that Will and I played reflected well upon this environment. We played two sets; the first was comprised of Will's piece "North And South of C", five loosely linked movements connected by brief instructions for the drums, along with a free improvisation. The second set, after a nice, conversation filled break, was a 45 minute improvisation. The playing felt good, dynamic and responsive. As stated, Will's output is very inspiring to me. Hopefully my playing showed that. Towards the end of the second set, I simply stopped playing my drums and listened to Will, more as a fan than a duo partner. I guess I kind of got lost in that for a few minutes. Will's Surreal Trance moves will have that effect!
All told, a very fun, inspiring, and just downright lovely evening spent in the Haight Ashbury District.
Many thanks to Will for including me, and to Soloman for opening his space to us.

Below: drums and musicians
 Recordings were made, and it's my hope that they'll be made available at some point.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Surplus 1980-Community Music Center, SF CA; 7/28/17

On account of needing to be at Community Music Center at 4PM, and starting the journey over there from my job in Concord at 3PM, I'm really lucky to have not gotten a speeding ticket on the drive. Note to self: slow down, you've already been in one car collision this year.
Actually, I was the first member of Surplus 1980 to arrive, beating Moe! and Melne by a good five minutes or so.
Load in, set up sound check. All systems go, right?
Ah....not so fast. Surplus 1980 started our sliding away from me.
I made it through the opening suite of Pigeon Obstacle Course and Temporarily Present, the latter being a ten minute piece that I've worked my ass off on since March. They both went really well, thankfully. Right at the very end of Temporarily, the drum was far enough away to be a concern and essentially unreachable; I was just happy to have played the song from memory at an almost acceptable level. I quickly adjusted the bass drum legs, thought I'd fixed the problem, and we started in on Question After Ended Question, a tune on which there is drum set, bass guitar, and metal bundt pans. Wouldn't you know.......the damn sliding starts again. This time, I actually had to stop playing, but Moe! did an incredible ad hoc rant that sounded almost as if we'd planned it to go that way. Real nice job, Moe! We got through it, but then I had to stop the set completely and attempt to figure out some kind of fix. Outsound Summit honcho and all-around great guy Rent Romus appeared on the stage with a nice big rock, which was promptly place in front of the sliding bass drum. This fix worked, even though I had to re-position it after each subsequent tune. What an annoyance. That said, I was able to get through the rest of the set.
The music felt raw and good: definitely not a technically perfect set, but the energy was fine, albeit somewhat manic. Wait, this is Rock music, the manic aspect is a big part of it. I felt as though our versions of Failure of Commitment (Moe! on saz!) and Morale Is High were particularly well played, and the middle section of A Motivated Song About Procrastination was nicely psyched out and extended, with cool fills from Moe! I immensely enjoy providing a solid, simple foundation upon which he does his thing.
A fun night, but, man, I'm NEVER  using that bass drum again.
Surplus 1980 will play the Golden Bull in August. Seriously, if you see me setting up a black bass drum, slap me. Hard.

Below: the offending bass drum and Moe! playing saz
Below: live shots by Polly Moller and Amanda Chaudhary (, thanks Polly and Amanda!