Friday, February 2, 2018

End of January 2018 Roundup

Along with taking some time to compose my thoughts re: last weekend's musical activity, I also caught that nasty flu virus that's been knocking so many people out of late. Needless to say, I haven't had the energy to do a damn thing. If anyone is paying attention here, that's my excuse.
That said, without further ado......

Cartoon Justice-the Pit at KFJC
Los Altos Hills, CA

After driving around the incredibly ritzy downtown area of Los Altos, the familiar sight of KFJC, in the funky older part of Foothill College came as a relief: its piles vinyl and worn carpeting, although probably not nearly as glamorous, are certainly more comforting to me. Cartoon Justice assembled promptly at 8PM, and by 10PM we were rolling through our set. We'd agreed upon a somewhat brief 45 minute set, which launched from a 22 beat pattern that we've been cooking up. This all started somewhat skittishly, but a decent groove seemed to emerge from it; from there, we headed into our more Free Funk oddness, wherein things got good and crazed and weird, especially from Kersti's woodwinds. Things felt well-spaced and good to me. Cartoon Justice seems to always find our way within these small sketches. After about 35 minutes of trap drumming, I jumped over to waterphone, which Mika then processed along with his guitar sounds. Our set ended on a quiet note. Driving home in the cold air, I listened to DJ Naysayer as he interviewed Mika about the weekend's impending Hardly Strictly Personal Fest in Oakland......

Below: Cartoon Justice set up in the Pit

Hardly Strictly Personal Post Beefheart Music Festival
Temescal Arts Center, Oakland CA
Above: Crow Crash Radio working things out

My HSP 2018 experience started with Crow Crash Radio on Friday night. It was cool to be at Temescal Art Center, a space that I'd never played within before. I can see why people like it: central location, nice floors, and pretty good acoustics. Crow Crash started our set with a typical version of Beefheart's, Plastic Factory. Typical, in that we used the basic riff for the song, after repeating it a while and setting up a groove, as a launch pad into our theremin and guitar driven improvised Country Rock. The set seemed to flow very organically, flowing for a good 30 minutes with cool jamming that seemed to come from active listening and playing together.  The slow Blues melt of Skip Town felt especially satisfactory to me.
The only bummer about this Friday night was the fact that some addict (presumably) smashed the rear quarter window of my car while it was parked up the street. Nothing stolen, but, damn, what an expensive annoyance. In talking with various people on Saturday, it turns out that I'm just part of the club. Ah, well.
Above: broken glass, and it ends with a swift kick to my ass
After scrambling to switch vehicles at home and an attempt to triage what felt to me was simply fatigue, I got back over to Oakland and Temescal Arts Center for Saturday's proceedings of HSP. My musical work began with a crazed set from ebolabuddha. I started off on Utopia Synth and a reading from a favorite Chic Comic Book (the one that disses the Pope). Things got boomey and noisy very fast, with Steve and Lorenzo's guitars blaring away and Weeks making a great racket with his alto. I switched to drums and got some satisfactory Free Jazz moves in, pounding away in what felt like an intricate bit of drum speak. Jade almost got naked. Not quite Hickey yet, but close. Not sure that Hickey ever paired soap with their nakedness, but Jade paired some with his semi-naked stage self. Another kind of rude set from ebolabuddha. We should have a tape out this year if all goes as planned.
Cartoon Justice was joined by CJ Borosque on soprano sax, Aaron Levin on drums, and Jaroba on baritone sax for our set. We played a reprise of the 22 beat phrase from a few days previous, which lead into some very warm large combo feels. The extended horn section really rose up: they played very well together. At times, their lines were just greatly unison in strength. I played a tiny kit: snare, hat, bass drum, cymbal. I stuck to simple beats and support, while Aaron flailed away on his bigger kit. I was happy to let him do the lead drums voice while I was more supportive. This was probably my favorite of the sets that I played at TAC.
Above: ebolabuddha and Cartoon Justice as drawn by artist Russell Ward (courtesy of the artist, thanks, Russell!)

I stuck around for some incredible music from the likes of Ben Goldberg, Karl Evangelista, Joshua Allen, Tom Weeks, Tom Duff, and Aaron Levin before heading over to the Starry Plough for the evening's Surplus 1980 gig.....

Surplus 1980
The Starry Plough
This gig was a pretty emotional one for me, as it was Moe!'s last one as a drummer for Surplus 1980. His tendonitis has gotten really bad in one hand, enough so that he'd rather not use it for drumming as much. We have a plan for the situation, to be revealed later. That said, I was a bit sad that that dynamic will be lost. We had to rely on somewhat older songs, as H.L. Nelly was not able to play the bass for the set. Dependable Steve Lew filled in nicely for her. We started with a cover of John Cage's 4'33, and that was duly enlightening. It's tough to manage almost five minutes of stage silence, but we pretty much did so, aside from a few chirps of feedback from a guitar. After a minute or so, the audience seemed to get what we were doing, and fell in pretty much silent with us. Interesting. We rocked good versions of Failure of Commitment, Question After Ended Question, and even revived a Mark E. Smith tribute song, MES Shoe Contact, which we hadn't performed in two and a half years! Moe! blazed on drums during the latter song. I made a few gaffs, but the energy felt right. A solid set with some stumbles, especially during 99 Is Not 100 for me, but a fine way to end a long day.

Above: old mates Moe! and Steve
Below: Surplus 1980 live (photo courtesy of Thomas Scandura, thanks Tom!)

About the time that I arrived back home in Richmond, I realized that I was coming down with the flu. Ah, well, at least I kept it at bay until after the music ended.

No comments:

Post a Comment