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.

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