Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cartoon Justice-Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco; 9/20/18

A couple of things about the Luggage Store Gallery that musicians will always have to contend with: they'll never know which part of the building they'll be playing in, and, further, what type of art may or may not be playing among or even behind. Case in point: in order for Cartoon Justice to set up for our 9/20/18 gig there, Mika had to position himself behind a sculpture that, combined with its plinth, effectively blocked his sight line toward the rest of the band. Kind of a bummer, but unpredictability is pretty much guaranteed there. One has to learn to roll with it! Aside from that glitch, things went pretty well for us. We played a determined 38 plus or minus minute set, consisting of three sketches that had been rehearsed: one that started really sparse, lead by Mika's Mac-generated algorithms, another based very loosely on our Spirit Aligned Truth piece, and a last one inspired by Monk's classic Well You Needn't. The set had, for me, a really oozy rhythmic feel, with our quintet interacting really nicely. Lenny Gonzalez guested again on electric cello, and added cool weirdness with his pedaled-up axe. Eli and I mixed things up really well, I felt, and Kersti and Mika freaked out above it all. I'm never sure how people will respond to Cartoon Justice, but there were some folks in attendance, and they seemed to enjoy our set. For me, it was a satisfying Electro-Acoustic blend, and showed evident strides made as a unit. I felt like we played as a tight band, and I had a ton of fun within the music. Music can give such an uplifting, freeing feeling, and that was definitely my experience at the Luggage Store. This year has been good for Cartoon Justice, and this gig felt like a true reflection of that.

Below: Cartoon Justice set up around a sculpture; big red drum set

Above: Cartoon Justice at the end of a fun evening. Lenny did double duty, playing with How Are You Doing? after our set.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Cartoon Justice plays this week in SF!

Cartoon Justice will return to the Luggage Store this Thursday!

Thu., 9/20/18
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market St.
SF 94103
How Are Your Feeling
Cartoon Justice
$8-12 sliding scale

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mika Pontecorvo/Mark Pino Duo-Bird & Beckett Books, San Francisco CA; 9/15/18

After a sleepy morning BART ride from Richmond to SF, I found myself at the great independent Bird & Beckett Books, Mika already there and set up. A few to get my small rig out and playable, and we were off.
This show was essentially a reprise of a gig last year at Adobe Books. That one was pretty tragic on account of a bum cable. Not so this time: we got clear signals from my mic'd waterphone (first set) and electric m'bira (second set). These sound sources were fed into Mika's "Slicer-Dicer" program, an algorithm that he's been developing for some time, and them pumped through the store's high quality speaker system. This being a set of Ambient music, we focused on slow, quieter, and very definitely well-spaced moves. I really enjoyed the challenge of playing with tons of space and getting it from just a few items. At one point, I was scraping a long screw across the head of the mic. It sounded really neat when shot back out from Mika's Mac! People drifted into the store, wandered around, looked at books; no one seemed that bothered by our sounds, so I figured it was a win.
A fine late morning/early afternoon of focused listening and interaction with my valued comrade Mika!
Many thanks to Andre Custodio and Bird & Beckett Books.

Below: Mika slicing and dicing; my small rig
Above: mic scrape!; saucers and books

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ambient set with Mika Pontecorvo this Saturday in SF!

I will be making Ambient sounds with Mika Pontecorvo this Saturday, as part of Andre Custodio's Audible Method series!
Sat., 9/15/18
Bird & Beckett Books
653 Chenery St.
SF 94131
11AM to 1PM

Let's see where this one goes!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Bamboo Skin 4-tet-Luggage Store Gallery, SF CA; 9/6/18

Bamboo Skin 4-tet came together almost as a lark. John Vaughn mentioned to me in passing last July that he'd booked an evening at the Luggage Store and was interested in setting something up with me and possibly others. I immediately got Brandon Evans and Tim Orr on board; pretty awesome the way that those two responded so enthusiastically! Brandon and I were really stoked on our recent recording, on which I'd focused on small percussion and "little sounds", a la Art Ensemble and other AACM greats. Tim and John were equally enthused about this approach, so we went with it. Tim brought a floor tom, a snare, and several small cymbals, gongs, shakers and so forth. I brought a timbale set, a few gongs, some shakers, and other small stuff. John and Brandon brought alto, sopranino, and tenor saxes.
For our roughly forty minute set, we did three numbers from charts that John has written and one free improvisation. Right off the bat, I was a bit disconcerted with a pretty unfamiliar percussion set up. This feeling pretty much stayed with me throughout. Playing in the boom-ey upstairs portion of the Luggage Store added a bit of trepidation, as the sounds just careen around that big room. Tim and I's clattering, busy percussion seemed to lay down a busy bed upon which Brandon and John wailed in tandem and solo. Those guys sounded great, and I was just happy to be sharing the space with them. Brandon really shined on the free piece, getting into his extensive bag of extended technique. He loves playing his Chinese made tenor sax, and one can hear that clearly. John's really brave writing technique gave us all lots of room in which to play. These days, I'm quite enamored of it. A very cool mixture of simplicity and complex thought. The last tune, L.I.S. (Long Island Sucks) is his Punk Rock/Free Improvisation mix! Tough to play Punk without a bass drum, but, hey, I tried!
A fun, funky, musically challenging evening at a favorite haunt. If only the parking were easier at 6th St. and Market!

Below: stripped down kits; three of Bamboo Skin 4-tet get ready

Monday, September 3, 2018

Playing this Thursday at the Luggage Store!

Bamboo Skin 4-tet, consisting of Brandon Evans, Timothy Orr, John Vaughn, and me, will be playing the Luggage Store in San Francisco this Thursday!

Thu. 9/6/18
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market St.
SF 94103
Rare Form (Los Angeles)
Bamboo Skin 4-tet
8 PM
$8-15 sliding scale

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hogwind 8/30/18 live video!

I had no idea I that I was going to be the sole drummer for this!
Total bananas fun! Murdering Classic Rock songs! Yeah!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mid-August 2018 Show Roundup

It's been a week since the first of a three show mid-August run for me. I'm still a bit tired, what with work and all, hence the delay in my usually quick missives. Have I forgotten my public? Hahahaha.....

Crow Crash Radio-111 Minna Gallery, SF CA; 8/17/18
As the members of Crow Crash Radio loaded in to 111 Minna Gallery for a Friday night happy hour show, we all noticed the demographic: Tech. To the max. I have nothing against them, but, as far as relating to them, it can be tough. Not much in common really. As Crow Crash began to play, we quickly realized that our sounds, emanating from a small corner of the bar area into which we had been stuffed, would be for the most part unheard by the chattering end of week drinking crowd. This can be fine, and we really used the experience to stretch out some improvised ideas, along with playing some tunes from our recently released LP. I had a tough time hearing Brian's amp, as it was placed with Brian in between it and myself. Kind of frustrating, but it felt like that kind of night. One of those dues paying type of sets really. 111 Minna's growth is truly impressive. I remember it as being a tiny little gallery in what was a sleepy part of downtown San Francisco in the early 1990's. The place, along with the area, has changed so much! On the drive home, Andrew, Brian, and me talked about the Brogrammer culture. Again, I have no affinity for it, as it clearly ain't got for me. They seem to be in many ways pretty close minded; who knows, maybe it's just a question of being hyper-focused. I'll stay focused on music, thank you very much. It's just sad to see SF get so bland.

Below: Crow drums and a great shot of Brian Strang

Moe Staiano Ensemble Plays Death of a Piano (plus Hogwind push-in surprise!)-First Church of the Buzzard, Oakland CA; 8/18/18
After the completely not-relatable vibes of Friday night's venue, it was real nice to drive into West Oakland's Adeline St. for the first performance of Moe Staiano's Death of a Piano in eleven years. Oakland is not quite the yuppie haven that 'Frisco is, but I guess there's work being done on that, dammit. Back to Death of a Piano: I sort of lucked into this gig, being a late addition to the roster of 49 or so musicians. Moe's music is always fun and challenging, and I'm always stoked to play it in any form. Seriously, dude's a very bright light, musically and personally, and I'm happy to support his vision. After a quick run through of one last rehearsal for the piece, most of the musicians beat it to grab dinner elsewhere. I hung around First Church of the Buzzard and struck up a conversation with Grux, whose great new band Hogwind, a group that basically murders Classic Rock songs, was also on the bill. Grux asked me if I'd like to play air drums with them, and, having seen them in action, I agreed but quick. Total madness ensued. I have to admit that my more exhibitionist side emerged during the Hogwind set. I had a blast thinking of creative moves while occasionally beating a few drums, along with getting a ton of laughs as I watched theremin player Rachel Thoele as she laughed, too. So  much fun! Staiano's ensemble was up next. Again, my admiration for Moe grows as I gain familiarity with his writing, and it was great to be a part of this huge ensemble. The piece, made up of three movements, moved from sparse string sections that went up and then down the scale, to clicking rim shots from four drum sets, to crazed free improvisation from everyone. Stillness to cacophony and back! It all ended with Moe smashing a piano up with a sledgehammer as everyone soloed wildly. Great times! Much fun in Oakland.
Below: Moe conducting, with me and my drums there in front (apparently I got hit by debris)

Below: video evidence of my Hogwind push-in! 

Below: snippet of Death of a Piano finale!

Above: Death of a Piano gear: eye protection, ear protection, and a plastic whistle

Pikuva Sielu-Musicians Union Hall Local 6, SF CA; 8/19/18
The Local 6 hall is probably less than one mile away from 111 Minna, but it may as well be in another country. The SOMA area of 9th St., off of which this institution is deeply dug in, retains an atmosphere that I am more familiar with, at least as regards San Francisco. There is a ton of poverty and addiction on display; I want neither of these for any person. Therein lies the rub. Does positive, productive change from those traits have to entail people becoming whitewashed yuppies? Pikuva Sielu used to be called the John Vaughn Trio, but John was adamant that this group, also featuring great electric bassist Robert Kuhlmann, find a new name. We cooked up a plan of playing about four compositions, and we stuck with it. Two written by reed man Vaughn, one by me, and one improvisation. We got into what I felt were some pretty good, earthy jams, very loose and free and flowing. Bluesy, in a way. The interactions felt charged right on a balance point between tight and loose. This can be a scary feeling if you're performing, but it most definitely seems to be a point in Jazz or Jazz-based musical work.  I was especially pleased to be playing a short riff that I worked up, called CT Wave. I desire to write more music for this group, that's for sure. It was a fun, low key way to end a quite manic weekend, playing among a few friends (one of whom I haven't seen in years, hi Ward!) and comrades in this musical endeavor.

Below: drums for Pikuva Sielu; a happy trio!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Upcoming shows!

Lots of activity coming up!

Fri., 8/17
Crow Crash Radio
111 Minna Gallery
111 Minna St.
SF 94105
5:30 PM

Sat., 8/18
Moe Staiano Ensemble Plays Death of a Piano
First Church of the Buzzard
2601 Adeline St.
Oakland 94607
8:00 PM
Hogwind and Solo Organ also on the bill
Sun. 8/19
Pikuva Sielu
SIMM Series
Musicians Union Hall Local #6
116 9th St.
SF 94103
7:30 PM
$10-15 sliding scale
Bill Noertker's Moxie also on the bill

A fun weekend forecast! 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Crow Crash Radio-House party, Oakland CA; 8/12/18

Crow Crash Radio has produced an LP! We decided to have a release party at guitarist Brian Strang's house. Brian got three really great poets, Garrett Caples, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, and Rod Roland to recite poetry. Brian Lucas brought his great Old Million Eye tenor guitar loops. Crow Crash Radio played. Our almost 40 minute set felt pretty frantic and driving. Energized! We played a couple of pieces that are on the LP, along with a few improvised moves. As usual, lots of ranging around by everyone, exploring the spaces and pulling each other into new ones. Folks danced, which was killer! A really fun set, a fun party, just a fine afternoon in Oakland.
The LP can be ordered here:

It is also up at Spotify, Amazon, and other digital platforms!

Below: poets reading, Old Million Eye jamming

Above: Crow Crash Radio jamming it up!
Below: feeling it on the drums!
Below: a recording of the set, slightly edited by Brian:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

New track from Infinite Plastic Internal up at Bandcamp!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Brandon Evans/Mark Pino duo music up at Bandcamp!

Brandon on tenor saxophone, me on traps.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New Aural Monsoon digital release up at Bandcamp!

Recorded last summer at a house concert in San Francisco.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Ear Spray-Brutal SFX #83, the Lab, San Francsico CA; 8/4/18

After a lovely day that included some time spent watching the waves hit Sharp Park Beach in Pacifica, I hit the Lab in time to help Ann O'Rourke set up her video rig the evening's Ear Spray performance. She really wanted to take advantage of the Lab's large walls and ceiling space, so we got pretty meticulous about it. Ann may not be doing projection for much longer, so it felt fitting to put in the extra work to help her get things set to her satisfaction. Thankfully, we got things set just right.
After a bit of a wait, Ear Spray hit second on the bill. Carlos brought a small synth, Ann sang, and I brought my waterphone and a djembe. Very minimal set up from all of us, by design. We try to squeeze the music from as little gear as possible these days. The piece that we worked up in rehearsal had me playing simple three note ostinato on the drum, alongside electronics improvisation from Carlos and Ann's vocals. Things started well, really almost mellow, as we built the vibe. At a certain point, I was to switch to waterphone; Ann gave me a volume pedal to use for it, in conjunction with a contact mic that I'd taped to its side. Somehow, the volume from the pedal was turned down in the mixer, so it was really quiet. Shades of a nightmare show at Adobe Books last year! Nooooo!!!!! I soldiered on and played the waterphone despite the frustration that I felt. Our Tascam recording shows that it was in fact audible, so I'm glad to have done so. Still, a bit unnerving for sure. Carlos was deep into his cool sound making process by this time of the set, though, so there were sounds being presented. Ann was very restrained on vocals, mostly focusing on using her Mac on the generative film that she does. Eventually I switched back to djembe to finish the piece. As mentioned, the recording has been listened to, and to me it has an almost New Age Ambient feel. Very spacious and subdued. Not exactly Brutal Sound. Some of the other acts on the bill had similar feels, though, so I guess we fit in somewhat.
Despite the glitch with the waterphone, it was an enjoyable night. Grux and Co. always do a hell of a good job with art, food, sound, everything. Happy to have been there!

Below: Ann and Carlos setting up; my Minimal rig
Above: a great mural in one of the hallways of the Lab; Godwaffle art smash!
Below: video!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ear Spray plays this Saturday in SF!

Ear Spray returns to the Lab this Saturday!
Brutal Sound Effects #83
Sat., 8/4/18
The Lab
2948 16th St.
SF 94103
$10-20 sliding scale

Many cool Noise and Dada acts on this bill!

Monday, July 30, 2018

CDP-Community Music Center, San Francisco CA; 7/27/18

CDP had spent what was for our collective members a lot of rehearsal time leading up to last Friday night's show. Amanda Chaudhary, Tom Djill, Joshua Marshall and myself are all heavily involved in all kinds of stuff, but we all found time to put in the extra effort for our Outsound Summit 17 show. As for me, the extra work felt as though it had sunk in: I was ready to play. I got in a nice walk around the Mission before our set and marveled at the weird dusky humidity and fog. San Francisco is always so strange at that time of day. Anyway, back to the set. CDP had a nice little crowd at Community Music Center, enough people to feel inspired. Our set started off maybe just a touch shaky, but we seemed able to shake off the jitters and get down to really playing Amanda's wonderfully sweet charts and their attendant improvisations. I had a grand time within these spaces, especially during North Berkeley BART (this song should be put out on 7"), and the new tune, Rambutan. This latter one had some fun audience participation, to boot. It seemed to me as though we really filled up our 45 minute set with a good mix restraint and bombast, all the while having fun and grooving really well. Tom got some really funny sounds going on the 12/8 shuffle of Marlon Brando that had me lol'ing while trying to keep that groove going. Not too bad, I must say; I almost have that one within grasp. Josh as usual played great, at times growling with his tenor, at others playing very lyrically, especially on his soprano. Amanda lead things really well, conducting the group into some very cool sonic realms. It's always a pleasure to realize the music of CDP!
After our bubbly set, Dire Wolves hit and put out some serious trance moves. Awesome.
What a fun damn night at CMC!
Many thanks to Rent, Ray Schaeffer, Eli Pontecorvo, Sheila Bosco, Dire Wolves, and the members of CDP for an exceptionally fun event. Hooray for Outsound!

Below: CDP on a good stage, where it belongs (photo by Jason Berry, thanks Jason!)

Below: video of North Berkeley BART, shot by Bill Russell (thanks, Bill!)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

New Infinite Plastic Internal digital track up!

Friday, July 27, 2018

New Brandon Evans/Mark Pino digital release!

Very proud of this music! Check it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

CDP plays in San Francisco this Friday!

CDP will be playing this Friday as part of the 17th Annual Outsound New Music Summit!

Fri., 7/27/18
Community Music Center
744 Capp St.
San Francisco 94110
Doors at 7:00
Music at 8:15
Dire Wolves
$18-15-12 at door ($15-12-10 advance)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Josh Allen/Mark Pino Duo-Luna's Cafe, Sacramento CA; 7/16/18

Playing music of any sort with Josh Allen has been a literally decades long aspiration of mine. I first became aware of him in the mid-aughts, having seen and heard his incredible tenor saxophone playing at various BART stations around Oakland along with venues such as Stork Club and 21 Grand. Josh has always blown me away. Such powerful and sublime sounds, holy moly. At some point last year, we got together and played, and have done so intermittently from that point onward. A few months ago, we talked about maybe setting up a gig, and I promptly contacted Lob in Sacramento to see about getting a gig at Luna's Cafe for the Nebraska Mondays series. Thankfully, Lob set us up.
We managed to get a nice number of rehearsals in, which is very important. Josh's attitude about rehearsing, essentially "practice your instrument or shut up", is VERY inspiring to me, and I am very happy to get in line with it. This aspect is so important, and it's great to be reminded of that.
After a relaxed trip up I-80, we hit Luna's in plenty of time, and were able to set up and get accommodated at a good pace. Our 45 minute set started off with a pretty energetic pace, and I felt as though I was able to get over the jitters of playing out pretty quickly. Things stayed up energy-wise, but we also managed to get some subtle interplay going. I seemed to be focused on playing what felt like little micro pieces within the longer improvised arcs, with lots of quick stops and syncopation with Josh's melodic and harmonic lines. Especially enjoyable and inspiring were the parts during which brushes and mallets fused with Josh's sounds. The whole set had what to me felt like a very dynamic movement: we played together within the improvised matrices that we set up. What a fantastic feeling!
The people in attendance gave really positive feedback, and seemed pretty inspired by our sounds. Who could ask for more!
A few days later, and I'm still buzzing. Many thanks to Josh for taking the time to make some music with me, and thanks to Lob and Art Luna for the booking. Hopefully more of these duo shows with Mr. Allen will be forthcoming.

Below: Josh Allen and Mark Pino playing improvised music (photo by Lob, thanks Lob!)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Duo with Josh Allen this Monday in Sacramento!

I will be playing in a duo with Josh Allen this Monday, 7/16 at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento!
Mon. 7/16/18
Luna's Cafe
1414 16th St.
Sacramento 95814
Nebraska Mondays
Allen/Pino Duo
7:30 PM
Donations accepted

I know the weather will be hot, and the sounds will be, too. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

New Dead City Shaman digital release up at Aural Films!

Many thanks to Jack Hertz for initiating and continuing this project with me!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Early July Show Roundup

As a really pleasurable weekend of muse chasing winds down, I'm already feeling a bit nostalgic. Just have to remember to take my time as I write about it!

Crow Crash Radio-Hemlock Tavern, SF CA; 7/6/18
A bizarrely fast Friday evening trip across the Bay Bridge had Andrew Joron and I meeting up with Brian Strang at Hemlock Tavern well before our set time. Seeing as that Rabbles drummer Dave had volunteered his beautiful Pearl drum set as a back line, I had minimal gear to schlep. So, after a bit of a wait, Crow Crash Radio hit to open the show. Things felt good pretty much right away, and stayed that way for the duration. We strung about three opening pieces together, using quieter interludes to connect our riffs. Brian has added some cool pedals to his set up, getting nice repeater sounds and electronic squalls along with his tasteful guitar playing. Andrew and I did a brief Cosmists-style duet to start the latter part of our thirty minute set; I even got in a few solo drum passages! Stoked. A set of slower, Psych-colored feels, and a fun way to start off a fun night of music, in which all of the bands had similar approaches but diverse sounds. I was happy to be there, especially on account of seeing so many friends.

Below: great back line kit; Crow Crash Radio photographed by Brian Lucas (thanks, Brian!)
Above: the tallest building in SF lit by the sunset. I guess it's OK
Below: Crow Crash Radio's set from Hemlock Tavern!

Aural Monsoon-BAMPFA, Berkeley CA; 7/7/18
A few hours later I found myself being picked up by Andrew Joron, with Will Alexander in tow, for our trio set at Berkeley Arts Museum's Pacific Film Archive. The set was added on to a solo reading from Will. If you're not familiar with his work, get familiar with it. His writing is stunning, and his live delivery is as well. Very impactful. Will has become more and more obsessed with playing piano, and as such had requested that he be allowed to bring Aural Monsoon in to play a bit. It's a testament to the respect that he commands that BAMPFA rounded up a piano in order for us to do so. We only had about fifteen minutes in which to play, but I felt as though we made the most of the time. I brought a visual score, dubbed "Valleys and Volcanoes" after a long talk with Will back in May. This piece was taped to the floor of the very cool auditorium and used a cue, with the loose instruction being that we work upward from lower tones and into higher tones at a slow pace. We seemed to follow this concept pretty well. To start, I played the bass drum taiko-style, from a semi-seated position and using mallets to get low rumbles. Andrew got great, low sounds from his theremin, as Will did with the piano. At times, it was tough for me to follow the piano's sounds, as its sounding board was turned away from me, but I felt as though I was able to play interactively with Will for the most part; this is important in Aural Monsoon, as the group's sound is all about call and response from attentive listening. I would have liked to have played longer! Ah well.

Below: Aural Monsoon gear from above; Valleys and Volcanoes score
Above: a happy trio!

Much more music scheduled for this month!