Friday, March 31, 2017

Last Cosmists gig up at

That was probably Cosmists last gig, at least for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Infinite Plastic Internal Live at Luna's up at

This was my first ever solo show. I put a lot of preparation in for it.
Hard to believe it was three years ago!
Many thanks to Charles Smith for recording this set.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Census Designated Place video!

I'm mostly happy with the playing on this song. Thanks to Amanda and Jason Berry for documenting this set!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pure Finder-Luggage Store Gallery, SF CA; 3/16/17

A very musically busy month of March came to end for me last night at the Luggage Store, at least as far as performances go.
A fun way to wrap it up, too.
Andrew and I were not able to get a rehearsal for Pure Finder's first gig of 2017 in. However, we did formulate a plan: keep things stripped down and simple. As such, I brought only a few percussion items: waterphone, singing bowl, 18" roto tom, a few small gongs. Enough gear to have to make only one mercifully short trip from my parked car on 6th St. to the Luggage Store's interior. Andrew had three very small synth-type modules. Easy.
We started out with some pretty quiet sounds, as per plan; this lead to a few more dense spaces. I had fun coaxing long tones out of the singing bowl, mic'd and plugged in to the house pa, with a long screw. Andrew got percussive blips and chatters. After a bit of this action, I switched to the roto tom, getting bending notes from its very malleable head.
This action cruised a long for a while until mad genius sound producer Philip Everett joined us on his synth rig, still set up from his Skull Krusher set. Louder trio interaction was the result. We generated some real mayhem! Totally fun and noisy! Call it Pure Krusher I guess!
Inside of this maelstrom, I stopped to read a few short lyrics from Tu Fu. I wasn't sure how that would go down, but Andrew didn't mind, thankfully. The set ended with a nice organic full stop, after which I recited my haiku for Herbie Lewis. It was on my mind to do so for some reason.
Another fun night of music at the Luggage Store, thanks to Outsound.
I have no gigs lined up for April, so may have to go quiet here for a while. We'll see....

Below: minimal set ups for Pure Finder

Above: one of my all-time favorite SF buildings. Not sure of its name, glad it's not been blocked by the rapid high rise development yet

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lingua Incognita Session #3; St. Cyprian's Church, San Francisco CA; 3/14/17

This event was advertised as a show, but it had more of the feeling of a workshop to be honest. Not that that's a bad thing at all, it's just how things felt, seeing as that it was in the basement of a church. I had fun walking around the neighborhood around St. Cyprian's before the music started. In the 1990's, I lived a few blocks away from its location. I saw places of some relevance to me: the garage that Dan Laks rented for the Birdsaw tour vehicle, a musician's house where I hung out a lot, an apartment that brought back embarrassing memories of personal trauma. That's all ancient history now, though.
Anyway, as for the Lingua Incognita Session #3, it was a fun community event. I think that I've been lucky enough to play with all of the members of the group: Mika Pontecorvo, Eli Pontecorvo, Kersti Abrams, Amanda Chaudhary, Jack Hertz, Jaroba, Josh Marshall, CJ McCaslin, Aaron Levin, and Tim Orr at least once respectively. This is the scene that I'm in now in many ways. I like that. Definitely starting to know these peoples' sounds. It was great especially to pair up with Tim and Aaron on drums. Those guys teach me a lot.
We must have done about four pieces, all based upon Mika's Miles-influenced sketches. Some seemed better realized than others. For a relatively large sized group, it seemed as though we mostly listened and interacted. I recall some really cool, swelling woodwind ensemble figures and spaced out synth solos.  Mika also got some really grungy guitar tones going. At times I felt as though the pieces stretched a bit too long: one can only take so much heaviness before needing a pause! That said, I had a nice time playing a small back line with that had a really sweet Zildjian ride cymbal. It was fun to dig in to that cymbal, especially during this kind of pseud-Latin figure that I lead off one tune with.
All told, a fun evening of community music in a nice, comfortable space. Thanks to Mika for putting it together!

Below: Mika tunes
Above: some band members run down the vibe
Below: Tim Orr sets up to break it down
Above: small back line kit with a sweet ride cymbal

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hare & Arrow-Hare and Arrow Arts Factory, Richmond CA; 3/11/17

For starters, it's just really cool that a place for the music that I like is happening a few short miles from my home. I was stoked to drive down the Richmond Parkway to Sung Kim's warehouse. It may not be PC, but I love the meshed industrial/wetland vibe of the area that that thoroughfare runs through. Add in a full moon, pastel sunset, and the lovely lights of the hills to the east......bliss.
As for Hare & Arrow's second ever performance, it went through a few changes in planned personnel, but settled with Sung on two of his beautiful self-designed instruments, the Ozokuri and Thee Nuns Horn, and Dan Gottwald on the Divine Horseman. All are stringed, with the later being this amazing variation of the hurdy gurdy, hand-cranked and full of deep drone tones. Dan and Sung are pretty visionary with their aesthetics. I was pretty blown away to be playing alongside them and their creations.
In rehearsing for our set, we spoke about leaving tons of space for the drone of the Divine Horseman to emerge from. Additionally, I changed up my drum set up: no hi hat, double bass drum, minimal cymbals, and an added concert bass drum. I also rocked the wrench that Moe! Staiano gave me last year.
Definitely a lot of low end on my part. My role was essentially to color, shift, and comment, but not drive the music. I felt as though I fulfilled my mission for the most part. Indeed, at the end of the set Sung announced that I'd "played with great restraint"! In my perceptual experience of our somewhat short set, I tried to get away from certain habits that I've developed within improvisational music, instead really trying to leave gaps and moving my own line within the form. Not sure if this was achieved, but I know that a satisfying, relaxed feeling was with me throughout.
For me, it was a night of clear thinking and playing under the cool full moon of March.
Hopefully the projected quarterly series of music at Hare and Arrow Arts Factory will continue. I'll go even if my name ain't on the bill!

Below: the Divine Horseman and my amended drum kit with large concert bass drum

Above: Dan and Sung test out their strings

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Upcoming shows!

Lots of activity over the next week or so!

Sat., 3/11/17
Hare & Arrow
Hare & Arrow Arts
1200 Harbor Way South
Suite 117
Richmond CA 94804
8:30 PM-12:30 AM
Also on the bill will by Jim Haynes, Sharkiface, Bran Pos Trio, and Solo Organ

Tue., 3/14/17
Lingua Incognita Session #3
Cyprian's Center
2097 Turk Blvd.
San Francisco CA 94115
7-10 PM
Also on the bill will be Dancin' Baby

Thu., 3/16/17
Pure Finder
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market St.
San Francisco CA 94103
7-10 PM
Also on the bill will be Skull Krusher

Very much looking forward to all of this upcoming musical action. March Madness! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Next Now Hardly Strictly Personal 2017, 3/3-3/5 2017; Finnish Kaleva Hall, Berkeley CA

Mika Pontecorvo's big booking endeavor for 2017 has come and gone. I must say that this last weekend's proceedings went by really quickly, as they always do: a blur of logistics, action, playing and hanging out making for a swiftly moving event.
Fun, excitement, a modicum of stress and emotionalism always feature in Hardly Strictly Personal weekends, as least in my case. Everything leading up to the action, be it rehearsals, promo spots, or helping Mika and Kersti Abrams as they try to bring all of the moving parts to harmony can sometimes feel overwhelming. Once the music starts, though, all of that seems to melt away, fading into the background as the musicians make their sounds.
Accordingly, a bit about the sounds that I was involved with.

Friday, 3/3/17
Ear Spray-Ear Spray had the honor of opening the weekend's music, setting up on the hardwood floor of Kaleva Hall on Chestnut St. In plotting out our set, we decided to go with a more circuit bent feel. Carlos had lots of his electronic axes set up; I used my ratty circuit bent Casio keyboard, a new synth pedal from Marbeau Synth, and a singing bowl. All of these were fed into a mixer and pushed out from our PA. Ann, after giving a brief bio of Van Vliet, stuck with her great films, projected upon the ceiling. We achieved what I felt was a good auditory mix, and I certainly had a good time checking out the sounds of my new synth pedal. Carlos pumped snippets from Beefheart interviews into it and did a fine job as usual with his rig. He's really adept with his stuff. In Ear Spray, I always feel as though I'm adding extra spice to music, which is a fine role for me. Fun jamming, if marred a bit by some talkative people on the other side of the hall. I guess that we could have turned up to drown out, but, hey, we're nice people.

Crow Crash Radio-As was the case last year, writer Garrett Caples joined Crow Crash Radio for some Captain Beefheart-inspired singin' and playin'. We chose to do a version of Diddy Wah Diddy, but cleaved more to the side of the great 1950's Bo Diddley's version. Soon after we started playing, I realized that I could not hear a damn thing from Garrett, as he'd set his amp up at the very front of the stage (yes, he sang through an amp as opposed to the PA). Additionally, I could just barely hear Brian's guitar and was essentially awash with the sound of Andrew's theremin. Stressful? I'll say. Somehow I managed to overcome the urge to stop, and just kept rolling through an extended vamp of the chords after making some pretty deep mistakes during the form. I figured that just posting up inside of a pretty simple beat and just staying there for a while would be the most effective thing to do a that time. Somehow, we managed to finish the song, after which we did a passable version of Tarifa (Strang's fave Crow Crash jam), and a satisfyingly slow and heavy version of I Saw A Face In The Rain, during which I stuck to the simplest brush pattern that I've ever used. That one lifted the fear and stress from my mind, thus making our set, initially so rough, a satisfying if flawed occurrence.

Below: Ear Spray rig on plastic on hardwood; Carlos tweaks the levels

Above: Crow Crash Radio featuring Garrett Caples and a badly placed amp (photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks Amanda!)

Saturday, 3/4/17
VoiMaa!-Whenever Mika's daughter Adrienne is in town, he tries to get her to play cello with what is usually Cartoon Justice. This morphs the group into its VoiMaa! configuration. There are slight sonic adjustments made, too, with the group focusing a bit more upon conducted passages that are relayed by cues from Mika. We definitely had some tough acts to follow on Saturday night from Dire Wolves and Arringon de Dionyso, but I felt as though we more than held our own. Inspired as we were by the previous groups, along with the presence of great reeds man Jaroba on stage with us, I felt as though we rose up the occasion. Our sounds seem to mesh with the ambiance of Kaleva Hall's beautiful stage and wonderful acoustics. The cues were followed, the feel was loose while not feing too sloppy, and, for me, things just FELT RIGHT. I enjoyed trying out an improvisational Free approach before dropping down to let Meg Pontecorvo read some of her excellent Sci-Fi writing. Things went from there to an upbeat Jump Blues-ey shuffle, directly inspired by Beefheart's Ant Man Bee. Sometimes one just feels on; that's how I felt during VoiMaa!'s set: ON. What a great night!

Below: VoiMaa! hits the changes (photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks Amanda!)
Above: VoiMaa! post-freak

Sunday, 3/5/17
Census Designated Place-Amanda Chaudhary has put Census Designated Place together over the past year or so, with the desire to blend influences from 1970's Funk, Fusion, and Disco and Free Improvisation. Her requirements for my playing are pretty clear: play good time, follow the heads, and really support the group. As I admire her music a lot, it's a pleasure to comply. During our rehearsals for HSP 2017, I came to the conclusion that using brushes would probably be really effective as a method for letting the sounds of Amanda, Tom Djill, and Joshua Marshall's instruments speak and breathe. In performance, there were a few gaffs during the heads, but we managed to get past them with relative grace and get down to some good jams. It was fun to push the music with a lot of syncopated 4/4 brush work as I tried to play some decent Funk. Tom's blurby modular synth sounds were particularly cool, as was Josh's great tenor/soprano sax blowing and Amanda's adept conducting. Perhaps a bit "normal"for an Experimental Music fest, but I know that our thirty minute set had some really odd subtleties at times.

ebolabuddha-This was where Sunday evening got surreal and odd for me. ebolabuddha's sets always have that effect, but at Kaleva Hall things went even more freaked out than usual. I was happy that Tom Weeks was able to join us for the set. After admonishing the small audience to read with us, which they did with aplomb, I read from Ovid, banged on a piano,  blew on my student recorder, used a bass drum like a taiko, scraped a metal rod across a metal street sign (found on Hilltop Dr. in Richmond), and just generally acted like an insane person. ebolabuddha lends itself to that kind of contained madness. The rest of the group, Eli, Lorenzo, Jason, along with Tom, brewed up spooky drones and crazy tones. After a while, I joined them on traps for some relatively quiet improvisational Cave Metal before and crazed ending of our one "song", Four Clicks. Four Clicks basically utilizes a blast beat stretched out for as long as we can ratchet it up before a hard, crashing ending. Tim Orr suggested to me that ebolabuddha's set could have been the featured set at a 1966 Acid Test. Would that that were the case!

Instagon-Last up for me and Hardly Strictly Personal 2017, Instagon #724 closed out Sunday evening with a set of Lob's patented bass-lead Garage Jazz. Alongside Lob and myself were Rent Romus on alto sax, Hannah Glass on violin, and Leland Vandermulen on guitar. Instagon sets are always different, and, in my case, sometimes harrowing. Thankfully, and seemingly in large part due to Lob's desire to really stretch out the opening drone portion of the set, this was not the case for me. I felt as though our set moved a relaxed tempo. This is not to imply that it felt lazy, for it did not. The interactions seemed solid to me, and I felt free at times to go off, secure that Lob's bass lines would be waiting for me when I circled back. It's been a while since I got to play with Rent, which is always a kick for me. Leland and Hannah were cool to play along side as well as we navigated the Daemon and led to some very natural sounding stops and pauses. Really good, interactive listening and playing from this quintet. Solid and satisfying.

Below: Census Designated Place grooves (photo by Tim Orr, thanks Tim!)

Above: ebolabuddha DaDa (photos courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks Amanda!)
Below: Instagon groovin' high (photo courtesy of Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks Amanda!)

Lastly as regards Sunday night, many thanks to Tim Orr for providing his wonderful Sonar kit as the drum back line. What a Jazz dream kit!

In recent past years, there have generally been two Next Now festivals. I don't know what Mika plans for later into 2017, but I do know that I had a blast over the first weekend in March. Time will tell.
Huge props are due to him, Kersti Abrams, and Eli Pontecorvo for all of the arduous work that they put in to make it happen. It was so great to make crazy sounds, attempt beautiful pieces, and get so much drumming and jamming in. As I type these words, I'm still blissfully drained and buzzing from the weekends' actions at Kaleva Hall.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Infinite Plastic Internal cassette/digital release!

Very happy to have my second Infinite Plastic Internal cassette release out!

Friday, March 3, 2017

ebolabuddha-The X Bar, Cupertino CA; 3/2/17

For the second time in a week I had schlep down to the southwest Bay for a gig. Come to think of it, all of my live playing so far in 2017 has been in the Silicon Valley. Odd.
Anyway, for ebolabuddha's X Bar set, we debuted the two drum set lineup, with Lorenzo switching from electric guitar to the drums. Also on board was Jason, along with mainstays Steve and Eli. It seemed like we managed to whip a nice maelstrom, starting with ugly synth sounds before segueing into some heavy double drum set pounding which kicked the guitarists into high gear. The whole thing felt very cathartic to me, very primal and intense.
I read from Ovid's Metamorphoses, which is fantastic for evoking the kind of dramatic mood that I enjoy from ebolabuddha's sets. 
Our set got cut short, sadly, due to us taking a bit too long to line check. Really, the only downside to a fun evening of blasting.
On the curb outside of X Bar, a local homeless guy walked up and asked us for weed. I wonder how much crushing he's had to go through as towns such as Cupertino get more and more opulent. During the drive home, it was cool to see the lights of the Bay sprawl shining in the clear spring air. This area is nuts.

Below: ebolabuddha band members await the stage (dig on Jason's great sweater!)

Above: way too many drums, but really pretty lights