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!