Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cartoon Justice/Faults video from Studio Grand!

Many thanks to Punk Rock/Free Jazz/Improvised Music fan and ace video documentarian Bill Russell!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Early April show roundup!

So far, April has been interesting. A couple of shows, some more video shooting for Radical Medicine, and word of cool stuff coming together for a bit later in the year. For now, I'll stick to those couple of shows......

Crow Crash Radio-111 Minna Gallery, SF CA; 4/6/18
Just getting into the city on this Friday night was a real schlep. A giant later winter rain storm pounded the Bay Area all day. By the time I'd begun heading into San Francisco, all traffic was simply crawling along. Thankfully, Brian Strang had graciously taken my drums the night before; all that I had to do was get on BART and head into the City. Even so simple a task as that was daunting, as, naturally, "system-wide slowdowns" reigned (pun intended). Eventually, Andrew, Brian, and me ended up at 111 Minna's Zappa Room for the our set. My memories of this gallery date back to the early 1990's, and man, has the place changed. What used to be a tiny, humble little art gallery has grown into a seriously swanky joint. Huge bars, tons of art by world wide renowned artists, wow! The Zappa Room stage is great, too. Plenty of room to spread out. One strange element was the very bright lights that illuminate the stage. I had to don sunglasses just to keep from getting a migraine. Crow Crash Radio started our set a bit shaky. I guess it was nerves, as we were up on display for a lot of artists and art fans, people that were coming through to see the Geeks, Freaks, and Strange Art show opening. After a bit of time, we found our groove, and managed to put in a nice, somewhat loud hour long set to start. Plenty of cool Psych moves occurred, and the interactions felt fine within them. People sauntered by, in between taking in the paintings. Some checked out the theremin, others swayed to the beats. It was somewhat relieving to realize that most of the people there were more interested in that art: we could pretty much stretch and expand and do what we wanted to do! It seems like this realization freed us up. Nice and loose! After a short break, we played a zippy, half hour set. This one was a bit more frenetic, definitely more focused, and ended with a solid version of Tarifa, my favorite Crow Crash Radio tune. A fun, crazy evening, entertaining the art world luminaries of the West Coast!

Below: Crow Crash Radio rocking out at 111 Minna (photo by Elisa Brasil, thanks Elisa!)
Above: Crow Drums

Cartoon Justice-Studio Grand, Oakland CA; 4/9/18
A couple of days later, and Cartoon Justice found ourselves back at Studio Grand for the second time this year. We owe a debt to Fernando of Oakland Freedom Jazz Society, as he's been pretty generous about booking us over the years. Many thanks, Fernando! We shared the bill with the cool Electro-Acoustic group Faults. See this band if you can. Drummer Kevin Corcoran is really great. Earlier in the day, I had been thinking about the recent passing of Cecil Taylor, and a small chord progression floated through my mind. I was next to a piano, so I quickly plucked the sound onto the keys, writing down its D flat major notes onto a post-it. I emailed a brief description to my pals in Cartoon Justice. Mika proceeded to confer with Jorge and Jaroba from Faults. It was agreed that we'd combine forces to do a two group version of this simple melodic cell. Awesome! We actually pulled it off, too. Jorge programmed the notes into his synthesizer, and the rest of us improvised around it. I had fun playing forearm strikes onto Studio Grand's piano, in tribute to the late Master Taylor. This action eventually faded into a brief, intense duet between Eli and me, which felt really pointillist and hard. We then moved into a frantic, slightly shaky version of Spirit Aligned Truth and some improvisations that felt like weird, heavy, emotional tribal music to me. We were loud and raw. It was a nice contrast to the subtle sounds of Faults, hopefully. Our forty or so minute set concluded with Kersti and Mika pairing up for some Blues-inflected abstraction. This set was ragged but right, infused with some really manic energies.

Below: Cartoon Drums (note piano, not damaged by my forearm); post it with notes
April certainly has gotten off to a good start for me, musically. Things will be quiet for the next couple of weeks before a cool gig in Sacramento happens. More on that later. I've got work to do. Keep your powder dry.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cartoon Justice plays Oakland this Monday!

Cartoon Justice returns to Studio Grand this Monday!
Cartoon Justice
Studio Grand
3234 Grand Ave.
Oakland 94610
9:30 PM

We will be playing a Free set.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Crow Crash Radio this Friday in SF!

Crow Crash Radio is stoked to be playing at 111 Minna Gallery this Friday. We'll be the band during the opening reception of the Geeks, Freaks, and Strange Art show. 
Fri., 4/6/18
Crow Crash Radio
The Zappa Room
111 Minna Gallery
SF 94105
5-7:30 PM
Should be a strange time......

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Dead City Shaman-the Pit at KFJC; 3/29/18

Spring time after good amounts of rain is my absolute favorite time in California. My drive down 280 to KFJC on the evening of 3/29 gave plenty of pretty spring views. The hills appeared emerald, the air was clean. Lovely.
Jack Hertz and I had decided on giving our duo the Dead City Shaman a few weeks back. Jack grew up in Maryland, I spent time in Virginia, and we both had formative musical experiences in Washington D.C. Hence the name.
We both arrived to KFJC a bit early, and were able to have our gear set up quickly for Grower and the engineering staff. A bit after 10 PM, we started to play. Our set unfolded with a nice slow pace, me on waterphone, Jack on synths and processing. After a good wait, I switched to electric m'bira, in much the same manner as our Luggage Store gig in January. Things started to loosen and roll, but remained spacious. Jack started to throw in vocal samples, sliced and diced on what turned out to be a simple iPhone app. At this point in the set, I started to feel trance-ed out. The blue light in the Pit surely helped here, when paired with the sounds we were generating.
Things got wild, and we played and played. All told, our set lasted almost two continuous hours! Balafon paired with shakers, flutes paired with synths, any and all manner of electronics processing occurred as the sounds fed into Jack's loop machine. There were times when I stayed silent, simply letting Jack's synth sounds drift over my consciousness. Thankfully, I was always able to drift back in and play some more.
After a brief interview with Naysayer, we drifted out into the parking lot to the sound of frog calls in the still warm night air. Other than their sounds, it was quiet. Beautiful.

Below: Jack and gear; Jack and me in the interview room

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Playing with Jack Hertz this Thursday on KFJC!

We're billing ourselves as Dead City Shaman.
Thu., 3/29/18
10 PM Pacific.
89.7 FM in the SF Bay Area.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Crow Crash Radio-the Pit at KFJC, Foothill College, Los Altos Hills CA; 3/22/18

As is always the case, I was really excited to be playing at KFJC's Pit last Thursday night. Surely, Andrew and Brian were too. We're so lucky to guests on Naysayer's show! Crow Crash Radio sometimes go months without opportunities to play, and KFJC's far reach is a real boon to us as far as getting our sounds "out there".
Accordingly, we planned out nice, long set, and placed newer ideas with older tunes side by side. At 10PM, we began to play. The first set went pretty close to an hour in length, with most songs stretched this way and that. A cool loose feeling prevailed, usually the case with Crow Crash. We're not really ever in a hurry to "play it right". We just let things unfold. I had fun exploring a somewhat larger kit; hell, even a China cymbal was included! I even got to take a short drum solo! A high point of the set for me occurred when we realized a completely improvised piece, led by Brian. How I love walking into new musical areas. Andrew seemed particularly happy at points. He's going through some stuff currently, and I hope that the act of playing music made his spirit a bit more free.
After a short break for an interview with Naysayer, we hit again, whipping through some quick versions of about four or five songs. Although it was nearing midnight, and fatigue was setting in, it felt as though we had good focus. Tightness added to the looseness! 
KFJC still rules. Many thanks to Naysayer and the KFJC crew for being so damn great.
Crow Crash Radio will play in SF in a few weeks!

Below: drums!; Brian and Andrew set up

Above two photos: screen grabs by Rose, thanks Rose!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Crow Crash Radio on KFJC tomorrow night!

Crow Crash Radio will be playing in the Pit at KFJC tomorrow evening, 3/22!
Tune in here at 10 PM Pacific Time:

We'll be playing recently written tunes, along with some older ones, too. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Passarell/Pino Duo-Luna's Cafe, Sacramento CA; 3/19/18

Last night's show at Luna's was supposed to feature, along with Sacramento Fusion band Exigency, Brandon Evans and myself in duo. Sadly, Brandon had fallen victim to this winter's horrendous stomach flu bug, and had to back out. After scrambling for a few hours, and at one point basically cancelling, I heard from multi-instrumentalist and all around great dude Tony Passarell that he'd be able to sub for Bran.
A really lovely, rain free drive up 680 and 80 had me marveling at lovely flowers and the green sparkle that makes California so magical in March. Seeing the snow capped Sierra foothills east of Sacramento upon my approach was great, too.
Seeing as that Evans and I had planned on using a composition that I'd worked out, Dream Etude, I figured that Tony and I should do the same. A quick confab with him, in which he transposed my simple melodic line pretty easily, and off we went. We started with a cool rubato exchange, per the sheet music, which led to some quicker melodic/percussive exchanges. Tony and I have played together in duo before, so I figure that there may have been a bit of back and forth probing going on. Our pace picked up after a bit, eventually leading to me busting out some spontaneous poetry. It felt Beat to me! What can I say, the Spirit moved me. Tony was really gracious about leaving gaps for my un-mic'd words there. Really sensitive playing. Quickly thereafter, we mixed it up, me on brushes and Tony wailing. Free Energy! Yeah!
A bit later, and we got into some short punctuation with scraped drums/cymbals and staccato tenor bursts, on which Tony utilized electronic enhancements on his tenor sounds. This passage had me switching to gong and wooden flutes, where I felt shamanic as all get out. Tony laid out and let me do it there, before joining back in for some more tenor/traps mixing, a bit more readily rhythmic this time.
After about thirty minutes, Dream Etude ending. Tony suggested that we play one more, which I should start with a drum roll. I obliged happily. We burned for about five more minutes on a tenor madness tip, Tony really laying it all out, and done.
I have to say I felt really good about our set. The only bummer about the evening was Brandon Evans missing out, but Tony subbed really elegantly. Many thanks, Mr. Passarell!
Big ups to Billy of Exigency, for letting me back line with his beautiful Yamaha kit. Thank you, sir.
Sacramento is lucky to have Luna's Cafe.

Below: live shots by and courtesy of Russ Tucker, thanks Russ!
Above: Dream Etude, my first written composition since 1994. There will be more....

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Failure Cock track up at Bandcamp!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Playing in duo with Brandon Evans this Monday!

Very excited to say that Brandon Evans will join me in a duo this Monday, 3/19 at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento!
Mon., 3/19/18
Nebraska Mondays
Luna's Cafe
1414 16th St.
Sacramento CA 95814
7:30 PM
Brandon Evans/Mark Pino


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Failure Cock-Noisebridge Hacker Space, San Francisco CA; 3/10/18

It had been way too long since Failure Cock played live before today. Lack of opportunities and scheduling conflicts kept Scarp, Eli, and myself away from it for quite some. I felt really glad to be remedying that as I headed over to the Mission in somewhat gloomy weather on BART, my entire rig, consisting of a Styl-O-Phone and delay pedal in a backpack. What an easy commute.
As is usually the case with Godwaffle Noise Pancakes shows, the set up was somewhat frantic and jittery, with the PA arriving a few minutes before show time. All systems go after a bit of trouble shooting, thankfully.
Failure Cock played second on the bill, with instrumentation of bass guitar from Eli, shop vacuum cleaner from Scrap, and my stated rig. Eli brought really nice low end sounds to start, which paired with the scrawl from the Style-O-Phone as its sounds bounced out. Scarp got really cool banshee howls out of the vacuum cleaner, utilizing a great older mic. This was a really cool thing, and I was seriously delighted with it. It sounded like a damn Black Metal vocalist, wailing the Noise. So great. Eli eventually brought his "cell phone slide on bass strings" technique out for some glassy licks. Dude's just a great fit in Failure Cock, as always brings his best game to our sets.
As for me, I found the three octaves of the Style-O-Phone to be a blast. This limited, low tech synth is quite enjoyable to play. Alone, it wouldn't have cut it, but within the context of Scarp and Eli's sounds, it seemed to work pretty well. As always, I consider Failure Cock to be a band, and, as always, within a band setting it's advisable to leave some "out", to leave room for the other players' tones.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the cool community feel of the afternoon: a solid set of people showed up, hung out, talked, listened, ate pancakes, and just generally put forth groovy weirdo vibes. Pancake breakfasts aren't only for Masonic lodges, let's just say that.
I've heard that Noisebridge Hacker Space may be losing their lease. How I hope that that isn't the case. Hopefully there will be more Godwaffle events there, but the rumors seem to indicate that 3/10/18's one may have been the last there. Double bummer.
Big thanks to Grux and the Godwaffle Noise Pancakes crew: they are EXCELLENT.
Hopefully, there will be audio up at Failure Cock's Bandcamp page soon!

Below: simple, easily portable rig; Eli and Mark mugging with Grux art
Above: Shop vac vocalist
Below:Post Jolt Thrower set, anointed by Lob! 

Below: video, courtesy of BrutalSFX Youtube!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Failure Cock this Saturday!

Failure Cock will play at Noisebridge Hacker Space this Saturday for Godwaffle!
Sat., 3/10/18
Noisebridge Hacker Space
Godwaffle Noise Pancakes
2169 Mission St.
SF CA 94110
Failure Cock
Scott Arford/Micheal Gendreau
Jolt Thrower
Kevin Lo
Medicine Cabinet
Blood of Chhinnamastika

We're looking forward to it. It may be the last Godwaffle at Noise Bridge, though. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Crow Crash Radio-Adobe Books, San Francisco CA; 2/23/18

A cold, clear night in the Mission had Crow Crash Radio posted up with Psych Rock stalwarts Dire Wolves at Adobe Books, along with Toronto's Picastro.
In planning for this show, drummer Sheila Bosco and I had decided that, on account of the very limited space of the shop, we'd back line. Sheila graciously offered the use of her bitchin shimmery old Ludwig kit from the 1960's. It's always tuned well, always a joy to play, so, naturally, I was fine with that.
Crow Crash Radio cooked up a 30 minute set, made up of about five pieces. We strung the first three numbers together, the highlight being a really spare, Blues-ey version of Bob Dylan's One More Cup of Coffee. That was fun to play, as are most Dylan songs. Also cool for me was a zippy take on Streets of Bakersfield, our tribute to Buck Owens.
All in all, it felt as though our set had a good pace along with well executed changes in dynamics. A couple of biffs, here and there, but for the most part solid. Guitarist Geoffrey Alexander told us that we "set up a vibe"; I'll take that as a compliment, especially after his fired up six string ass kicking during Dire Wolves set.
A fun night of music and books. Just like the last time I played at Adobe, I found more unread Burroughs. Coolness.

Below: Oyster shell Ludwigs; Crow Crash Radio melding (photo by Sheila Bosco, thanks Sheila!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Crow Crash Radio this Friday in SF!

Crow Crash Radio will play at Adobe Books in San Francisco this Friday!
Fri. 2/23/18
Adobe Books
3130 24th St.
SF CA 94110
Crow Crash Radio
Dire Wolves
7:30 PM
Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Jack Hertz/Mark Pino digital release up at Acousmatique!

From our gig in January! Stoked!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Elevated Mantra-Beyond Baroque, Venice CA; 2/17/18

This trip down to Venice had been set up several months ago. After doing a duo gig with Will Alexander in SF in August, we had quickly set up a plan to perform again in Venice. I'd been chomping at the bit for it, too. I put in quite a bit of practice, playing along to recordings of Will reading his works, in order to keep his rhythms close in mind. I wanted to be prepared in any and all ways, especially after getting confirmation that trumpeter Bobby Bradford would join us.
As I hit Los Angeles, I was wishing that I'd prepared a better map: instead of taking 405 to 10, I inadvertently took 5, thereby having to cut across downtown for a few extra miles. It being Los Angeles, this added at least an hour to my drive time. Thankfully, with the aid of Google Maps and some straight up chaotic driving, I managed to find the small room that I'd rented for a few days, right off of Lincoln Blvd. in Venice.
Having spent an evening and subsequent morning walking around lovely Venice and Santa Monica, hitting the beach/boardwalk area of the former, and just loving the always active vibes of Los Angeles, I manged to get over to Beyond Baroque in the later afternoon for a set up/rehearsal with Will, Bobby, and bassist Lester McFarland. This was a fascinating and tremendous experience in and of itself. Talking ontology with Will Alexander, Bobby telling stories of Charlie Parker, Lester giving me some of his story: just great. It was instructive to watch Bobby's method of rehearsing. He kept things chill, as Will and Lester warmed up. Not a lot of pushing, more listening and getting the sense of how everyone was approaching their sounds. I can't say enough just how valuable this time felt to me.
The music started a bit after 8PM, with a nice-sized group of people filling the lovely little Beyond Baroque theater space. The place is a 50 year old institution with a really storied line of participants. They've kept their poetry workshop going for that entire span of time, a fact that I learned in the introductory portion of the set. Will began by reading excerpts of his wonderful, strong and always thought provoking work; Bobby played little comments with his horn, after which Lester and I joined in. I was able to relax and leave spaces as the words and sounds began to build up their interaction. Will concluded his reading and moved over the piano, the instrument with which he is deeply enamored with. To paraphrase, he just gets really happy when a piano is nearby. Will commenced to leading the group into an extended mantra form, playing modal chords around which Lester added his bass tones. Lester is able to move around in an improvisational manner and yet stay constantly grounded. Bobby took solos with hit trumpet, sometimes using a mute. He played so melodically and free. I definitely focused on keeping the volume level appropriate for acoustic instruments. I wanted to play with as much interaction as I could. As such, brushes and mallets were utilized a lot. It seemed as though I was able to blend with the great sounds that were emerging from all around me.
It seemed as though the quartet were able to develop a cohesive improvisational set. At times it felt to me that the flow was really strong, that all players were focused on developing a whole group dynamic. Will spoke of consciously not planning, of letting things unfold how and why they must. I certainly got lost within the music. Hopefully this does not mean that I projected not being present or responsive. Our set could have lasted ten minutes or two hours: I have no idea. I really did go to another place. Such a good time.
After the music, Bobby took the floor for a talk. He had great, colorful stories of Ornette Coleman in the early 1950's, of his aesthetic philosophy, and of his deep roots in Blues and Gospel. Mr. Bradford also gave great, frank insights into Black vernacular and its connections to Jazz and improvisation. Will also had plenty of memories and stories of Jazz in Los Angeles: I know that I have to find more recordings of Sonny Clark.
Such a wonderful evening! It's my hope that my playing was up the challenge of sharing a stage with Masters such as Bobby, Will, and Lester. These guys have been delivering the aesthetic goods for decades. Many thanks to them and to the incredible staff at Beyond Baroque. This one will be resonating with me for a while. So good, so good.

Below: Will Alexander, Lester McFarland, and Bobby Bradford in rehearsal; Elevated Mantra gear

Above: Will, Bobby, and Andrew Choate in discussion, so many great stories and insights to be had
Below: Will and Mark

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bridge of Crows live videos up!

Many thanks to Bill Russell for filming and uploading.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Playing in Venice this Saturday!

I will be playing drums for a quartet put together by Will Alexander, this Saturday, 2/17/18.
Aural Diamonds In Motion
Beyond Baroque
681 N. Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90291
Really excited and working hard to have my stuff together for this show!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Recent shows roundup

Surplus 1980-Lucky Duck Bicycle Cafe, Oakland CA; 2/9/18
Walking from my car to the Lucky Duck Bicycle Cafe, I noticed that a huge swath of downtown Oakland has been razed. Looks as though it's going through the same changes as SF. I'd guess that in a few years, it'll be highly unrecognizable to the likes of me. You can't stop change, I guess. Lucky Duck is a chill spot, filled with custom type bike gear, zines, and good food. I hope that they make it! As for Surplus 1980's set, it was nice to have H.L. Nelly back on board for the bass duties. We started with Temporarily Present, which felt grooved and groovy. I only had one tiny little flub, otherwise, it rocked. We did good, a passable version of Morale Is High, with its Prog-ey changes, hot, fast versions of Failure Of Commitment and 99 Is Not 100, and, for me, a tad bit sloppy Question After Ended Question. There's something about the latter that keeps making me clam at this one spot. Vexing! That said, it felt like a fine, energetic, and focused set. Many thanks to Chalie, Chiromancer drummer, for providing the back line kit.

Below: Moe! and Mel soundcheck, Moe!'s guitar
Above: lovely, booming drums
Below: Surplus 1980 live at Lucky Duck Bicycle Cafe (videos by Bill Russell, thanks Bill!)

I was happy to be involved in two sets for KZSU's Day of Noise. What a great event. I listened and watched the live stream for much of the day, too. Such a fine roster of really creative people. Just a real pleasure to be involved.

Ear Spray-KZSU, Stanford CA; 2/10/18
Ear Spray was back to a trio for Day of Noise, with Ann continuing her electric cello quest and Carlos and bass guitar and electronics. I kept things simple with a snare drum and two small cymbals, rocked with mallets and screws. Our set seemed to me to have some really good, interactive chatter. All three of us seemed to be listening and improvising in a good way. As is usual with Ear Spray, we hit some freaky moments; those are always the most fun with me when we play. I enjoyed getting loud and demonstrative with my rig, but I guess at that point Ann had a hard time hearing what she was doing. Sorry, Ann! I had fun rocking out though!

Below: Ann O'Rourke with her beloved cello; Carlos sets up his rig
Above: Noise snare drum!
Below: Ear Spay video

Ruminations-KZSU, Stanford CA; 2/10/18
Ten or so hours later, I was back inside of KZSU's basement studio for Ruminations' set. The ever-shifting lineup of Rent and I's group also had Tom Djill, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, and Heikki Koskinen on board. Quite the line up I'd say! We were all-acoustic, which had me deciding to stick mainly with brushes, mallets, and thin sticks. This approach seemed to work, as I was able to hear everyone as they played. Tom kept me honest on that point with some very quiet muted trumpet, which sounded sweet and dramatic. Heikki got great tones from a huge recorder, Rent paired his PVC slide flute with multiple reed power, and Gabby strummed and bowed with gusto. A few times during our mostly meditative set, I felt a bit lost, but we seemed to make some good transitions from space to space. I felt like we got an intimate and thoughtful sound going. We were ruminating!
Such a pleasurable way to end the day!

Below: Rent Romus, Tom Djill, Heikki Koskinen (that's a Power Trio!)
Above: Gabby Fluke-Mogul and me (photo courtesy of KZSU Facebook page)

Bridge of Crows-Studio Grand, Oakland CA; 2/12/18
The end of a busy weekend found me at Studio Grand. Sadly, there was not much art up on the walls as per usual.  Bridge of Crows were joined by cellist Lenny Gonzalez. It's fun talking with Lenny about mutual experiences and impressions of Virginia, a state that we both fled earlier in life. As for our set, we had rehearsed three tunes: Desert Road, Spirit Aligned Truth, and Villa d'Ornette. All of them are Blues-based Harmelodic numbers, and, as such, require me to play some pretty straight grooves. This is fine, as it supports the interaction of the melodic voices of the rest of the group. We seemed to hit some pretty solid rhythms. I felt pretty rockin' on my small kit, anyway! I had a bit of a tough time hearing Kersti's alto sax, but Mika's thick chords, Eli's bass and Lenny's cool pizzicato moves came across. After about forty minutes of trance, we stopped and made way for the amazing Architect/Enchantress. What a great improvising orchestra they are! Huge clouds of sound. What a fun night of music!

Below: Bridge of Crows muggin'

All in all, it was a great, exciting weekend.