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!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

McCaslin/Reed/Pino Trio-Community Music Center, SF CA; 7/26/17

While hanging out in the lead up to our Outsound Summit performance at Community Music Center, Amy Reed coined the phrase "more river" while improvising a graphic notation that she half-jokingly suggested that we memorize, a few minutes prior to our designated set time. The drawing, shown below, is really lovely.
I guess that there was no time to perform said memorization, but we did stick to our agreed parameters, worked out during last week's KFJC Pit show, of cleving to quieter sounds and leaving tons of space. During Animals & Giraffes' set, writer Claudia La Rocco described "...the kind of Minimalism where you don't do anything...", and I had to giggle a bit. I can't say that we did absolutely nothing, but there were indeed passages made up of some pretty silent parts throughout. Again, we had spoken about that, and planned it, so, for me, it was right on the money.
I spent the first quarter of the set trying to ground, struggling a bit with keeping focus; after that, though, it seemed as though I was able to find a good balance between silence and action. There were some more fun moments of roto tom drumming along with Amy's guitar soloing, and commenting upon CJ's soprano playing with stacked layers of resonant metals on top of the drum. I also felt like I got some good, almost consonant notes with the water phone at times.
Satisfying trio interplay during our six pieces, after which I felt a fine sense of musical intimacy had been achieved.

There's what is obviously a much more objective review here:

Below: Amy's great drawing, my gear
Above: the lovely Community Music Center stage
Below: McCaslin/Reed/Pino Trio live (photo by Amanda Chaudhary,, thanks Amanda!)

All told, another fun night playing and seeing friends and acquaintances!
Time to get myself over to the Surplus 1980 rehearsal for tomorrow.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Two shows this week at Outsound Summit!

I'll have the honor of playing two shows with two different groups for this year's Outsound New Music Summit! Really excited for them, as they'll be very different from each other.

Wed., 7/26
McCaslin/Reed/Pino Trio opening for Animals and Giraffes
Community Music Center
544 Capp St.
SF CA 94110
Show starts at 8:15, with artist talk at 7:30
$15 general/$12 student

Fri., 7/28
Surplus 1980 with Voco opening
544 Capp St.
SF CA 94110
Show starts at 8:15 with artist talk at 7:30
$15 general/$12 student

Community Music Center is wheelchair accessible.

It's going to be a great week.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ear Spray-Luggage Store Gallery, SF CA; 7/20/17

Two gigs for me in a week, and both of them featured a non-drum set, quiet percussion vibe. Indeed, I brought the same exact rig with me for Ear Spray's Luggage Store gig last night as for Monday evening's KFJC adventure.
It had been decided by Ann, Carlos, and myself that we'd try to play quiet sounds that would fit into the low ceiling and small space of the Luggage Store at our last rehearsal. To that end, we tried to cook up what we dubbed "Ear Spray Ambient". Carlos used his bass to guide our piece, blended with his electronics rig. As usual, he lead really well, melding his sounds to Ann's films. Ann vocalized on top of that, and I added quiet percussion in response to the two of them. My sense was that it all seemed to hang together pretty well; there were even a few "intense" parts, wherein I felt like the roto tom hits paired with the vocals in a cool way. I tried really hard to consciously add space when needed, to take breaks when I'd run out of things to play, and to dialogue with the other sounds in the room. Hopefully those that attended felt those vibes.
After our set, I got a great reminder of why I like the Luggage Store's long-running series. Neal Elzanga's great, layered electronics really floored me. Sometimes the music scene can be embarrassingly provincial: listening to Neal's sounds made me remember that cool, creative music is everywhere, and not just at the currently hip spots.
After Neal played, I sat in briefly with Adriane Pontecorvo's cello, on water phone. Her dad Mika processed our sounds. Really cool, jarring Noise ensued. Hell yeah. Eight minutes of sonic bliss.
Outsound Summit #16 is next week. I'll be there on two separate evenings in two very different groups. Announcement coming soon.
It ain't where you been, it's where you at.

Below: my rig and vantage point of Carlos and Ann's rigs

Above: Mika P. in contemplation
Below: video, courtesy of Ann O'Rourke!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ear Spray plays this Thursday!

Ear Spray will play this Thursday at the Luggage Store in SF! Additionally, I will sit in briefly with Mika Pontecorvo's RiotNozzle on waterphone. There will be hand-assembled Ear Spray CDr's available.
Thu., 7/20
Ear Spray
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market St.
SF CA 94103
8-10 PM

Do not be afraid. 

McCaslin/Reed/Pino Trio-KFJC, Los Altos Hills CA; 7/17/17

After a surprisingly quick zip across the Bay Bridge and down 280, the trio of CJ McCaslin, Amy Reed, and myself ensconced ourselves in KFJC's legendary Pit for some improvisation and promotion. The latter, to get the word out regarding Outsound's 16th Annual Summit, which commences this Sunday at Community Music Center in SF.
In rehearsal, we had talked about aesthetic ideas, and I felt as if we stuck pretty closely to our vision, that being smaller sounds, more delicacy, and active listening. Towards my end, I brought smaller percussion for the most part, along with my versatile 18" roto tom (to access, as one KFJC staffer put it "that telephone pole sound" from its metal frame: shit yeah), and waterphone.
Our four piece, forty minute set was very satisfying to me, with a nice, patient, extending opening that unfolded at a fine pace, a bit of heat, and just what struck me as good, even exemplary, interaction of our respective voices. CJ got some very good, lonely tones out of her soprano saxophone. It's great to hear her development on the horn. Amy coaxed all kinds of voices from her guitar and implements, which includes leaves and grass. Her set up is so minimal, yet so much happens when she digs in. Awesome.
As for me, I had fun dancing around my rig, shaking various shakers, trying to play with subtlety, and leaving gaps for the other two voices of the trio. At the end, I was not so much slicked with the sweat of effort as I was glowing the mist of contemplation. A fine mist that is!
More shows announced and performed very soon.
Huge gratitude to KFJC and Outsound.

Below: percussion rig

Above: CJ and Amy-improvising musicians
Below: me and vinyl wall, group shot (photos courtesy of Amy, thanks!)
Above: Rent promotes Outsound Summit 16, organic aspects of Reed's rig
Below: lovely Foothill College

Friday, July 14, 2017

McCaslin/Reed/Pino Trio this Monday evening on KFJC!

I'm very excited to be playing with CJ McCaslin and Amy Reed this Monday evening on KFJC! We'll be doing promo for Outsound Summit 16, which occurs during the week of 7/24-29.
We will play at 7PM Pacific and then do some promo stuff.
Listen here:

Really looking forward to this gig and more to come. July is heating up!

Monday, July 10, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble-Musicians Union Hall Local 6, SF CA; 7/9/17

Having assembled in the wake of Cosmists ending, M-KAT Ensemble has been rehearsing with some frequency over the past six months or so. We were excited to play our first official show at the always quality SIMM Series at Musicians Union Hall Local 6 on 9th St. in SF.
After quickly negotiating a recording set up by ace engineer and gong player Karen Stackpole, we commenced our five piece set, consisting of four improvisations and one graphic piece by Thomas Harrison Jr. The music seemed to flow pretty well as we played. I particularly enjoyed a piece that we planned, dedicated to the recently passed Pierre Henry, on which I utilized an old baking pan, even though being slightly embarrassed that it still had some food detritus encrusted upon it. Gnarly. Listening back to the recording of it, its spaces sound really well placed.
Thomas's playing felt particularly great, percussive and present throughout. Our last piece had Kersti jamming some cool, primal flute as Andrew played with her in duet; I joined in on small shakers, feeling reverent and glistening from the evening's energetic sweat.
I enjoyed playing my old Ludwig bass drum and ratty snare drum scored from Urban Ore in Berkeley for $30, along with getting some scraping cow bell action in. I just really love  a funky, beat up kit.
All told, I felt as though we produced music that was energetic and intimate, apropos of Union Hall's smaller space. 
It seems as though M-KAT Ensemble got off to a pretty good start. We have another gig planned for later this summer, and we're all looking forward to it. Additionally, we may be able to use the recording from SIMM for some type of release. Time will tell.

Below: M-KAT Ensemble sets up, funky drum kit (baking pan out of frame)
Above: Thomas's set list with square for graphic notation piece

Many thanks to Kersti, Thomas, and Andrew, along with Bill Noertker and Rent Romus at Outsound.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

M-KAT Ensemble plays this Sunday evening!

Arising from the ashes of Cosmists, M-KAT Ensemble will make its official live debut this Sunday evening, 7:30 PM in SF!
We'll play the Outsound SIMM Series at Musicians Union Hall #6 in the City.
M-KAT Ensemble
Noertker's Moxie
Musicians Union Hall #6
116 9th St.
SF, CA 94103
$10-15 sliding scale

I look forward to seeing how this new band will sound. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Center For Spiritual Enlightenment, San Jose CA; 7/2/17

June was kind of a bust for me as far as playing live went. Two gigs, both cancelled for various reasons. In light of that, when I got a call from my sister, saying that a friend of hers needed a sub drummer for her choir's service on 7/2, I jumped at the chance to get out and play.
I wasn't sure how things would go when I showed up at the Center For Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose; after a quick rehearsal rundown of the order of their Sunday prayer service and its songs, the choir and band had a brief moment or two of down time before things got under way.
Thankfully, for the most part I was able to keep the arrangements of the four songs that were played within the larger service straight in my mind. Within this context, I felt as though the most important factor was dynamic, sensitive playing. I didn't want to be the person overpowering the singers with over-loud drumming. At times it was challenging  to mesh that aspect with a confident feel evinced from really knowing the tunes, but with some guidance from choir leader Paula Chacon, I was able to navigate those times.
On an emotional level, it was quite cool to be playing spiritually positive music within the context of a big group of singers and some great piano and bass playing within the band.  It felt really nice to be making music within the lovely interior of Center For Spiritual Enlightenment's sanctuary as well. At one point, the group was playing, the choir was singing, and the congregation was all clapping along to our music. To be a drummer within that type of action....blissful. REAL nice.
Along with all of the music, it was great to hear CSE's minister give a really good talk on the subject of "Who's Love". Much food for thought to be had from his words.
A fine way to spend a Sunday morning!
Thanks to Paula for offering me the sub job.

Below: Paula C. leads the choir in rehearsal; beat up, lovely drum kit with a killer bass drum

Above: some views of the lovely grounds of Center For Spiritual Enlightenment
Below: the building adapts to the tree!

More live gigs are coming up in July...