Sunday, January 29, 2012

Eclipse Quartet on Feb. 4 @ LACMA

I wish I could go! I will be performing in Who's Hungry - Santa Monica, as I mentioned in my last post.

The Eclipse Quartet will perform music by Ruth Crawford Seger and Meredith Monk in the Bing Theater as part of LACMA's In Wonderland exhibit.

Ruth Crawford Seeger might be best known as the progenitor of both Pete Seeger and dissonant counterpoint with her husband Charles Seeger. After being inundated with children (OK, and a lot of other things), she worked with Alan Lomax collecting, transcribing, and arranging American folk songs. I really like her music, particularly her earlier, more dissonant music.

I've never heard any non-vocal music by Meredith Monk, so I assume that the quartet will be joined by their guest, Perla Batalla, for the Monk music on the program. They will also perform a commissioned piece by Ms. Batalla for voice and quartet. What I want to know is: when are they going to commission ME to write something for them?

Last year the Eclipse Quartet performed Morton Feldman's Piano and String Quartet with pianist Vicki Ray, first at Zipper Hall and later at Royal-T. I was sad that I couldn't make the Zipper Hall show, but was soon soothed by the announcement of the performance at Royal-T. I would say a performance like that is best heard in a more intimate setting, so I won in the end. It was a wonderful performance - "spellbinding" as I believe the LA Times review said repeatedly.

If you weren't able to get a ticket for the sold out Who's Hungry - Santa Monica, here's a plan for a perfect evening:

Who's Hungry - Santa Monica just added a 5pm show on the 4th, so you can get a ticket for that and still make it to the Eclipse Quartet show later at LACMA!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who's Hungry - Santa Monica

This weekend and next I'll be playing accordion, toy piano, and percussion in Who's Hungry - Santa Monica, a puppet piece by Dan Hurlin and Dan Froot at Highways Performance Space. I saw the previous installment in the series, which took place in West Hollywood about 3 years ago, and I'm excited to be a part of this one! Come down and see it - here's TICKET INFO

The music was written by Seattle native Amy Denio, a mixture of Americana nostalgia, Eastern European time signatures, and vintage L.A. punk energy. It will be performed by her, Mike Flanagan, and myself. Last weekend I convinced these two wonderful musicians to join me at the Accordion Babes Revue at Fais Do Do as the Amy Denio Trio, and I'm so glad they decided to do it! The puppeteers are Sheetal Gandhi, Darius Mannino, Rachael Lincoln, and Zach Tolchinsky

From the Highways website:
"This installment in the series tells the oral histories of five very different homeless and hungry Santa Monicans, through five 15- to 20-minute segments, woven together much as a chef weaves a succession of flavors into a cohesive multi-course meal. Overall, the project incorporates a range of puppetry styles in order to give each of the five stories its own aesthetic treatment. Presented on a specially built 24-foot dinner table, the audience views the action from one side, as if they are banquet guests. Incorporated into the evening are Delft china, Matchbox cars, televisions, rod puppets, as well as puppets inspired by Japanese Bunraku, and much more."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Accordion Babes Revue LA

Jan 21, this Saturday night, all of your favorite accordion-tinted LA bands will swarm at Fais Do Do for the Accordion Babes Revue!

The evening is brought about by Renee de la Prade's Accordion Babes Pinup Calendar. If you don't know, the Accordion Babes Pinup Calendar is exactly what it sounds like: a cool calendar of great female accordionists posing with their instruments. You can pick one up at the show when you come!

The last time Mrs. Hobbs (of Ketchup Soup, also Miss January in the 2012 calendar) organized an Accordion Babes Revue at Fais Do Do, only bands with women accordionists performed - as well as Dorian Wood in a fabulous wig and dress.

This time there is a whole mess of great bands with both male and female accordionists. I'll be busting some 1930's Russian tangos with Timur & The Dime Museum, and jamming with The Amy Denio Trio later. Accordionists Renee de la Prade and Amber Lee Baker will be coming down from SF, sharing the stage with the following LA bands:

• Timur & The Dime Museum: Dark glam opera, profiled in LA Weekly's Best Of People Issue 2011 
• Dorian Wood: Avant-garde troubadour
• AK & Her Kalashnikovs: International — Opa!
• Seeing Thingz: Rock-gypsy-experimental-punk-funk
• Salt Petal: The Smiths meet Os Mutantes in a dark alley in Buenos
• The Shpil: A cosmopolitan klezmer quintet
• Cat Hair Ensemble: Dada Cosmopolitan
• Demonite Na Khaosa: Bulgarian vocal & accordion harmonic
• princessFrank & the Killsisters: Accordion & drumming
• Rattlesnake Charm School: Old-Time Revival, Sea Shanties, Murder
• Two-Bit Opera: 1 bit, 2 bit…Cabaret!
• Count Smokula: 496 year old Smokesylvanian musical
• Danny Kopel: Blues
• Amy Denio's Trio: Experimental

Get tickets HERE

Monday, January 16, 2012


It's always great to see people you know making exciting work. The wild Up show last Saturday at the Armory night is a good example. The show had a theme of ornithology. There were pieces by Messiaen, Ferneyhough, Mark Menzies, and Chris Kallmyer. There also were arrangements of music by Haydn, Charlie Parker, and Andrew Bird. The Menzies and Kallmyer were premieres, while the arrangements were made by members of the ensemble.

There were real standout performances by clarinetist Brian Walsh and pianist Richard Valittuto, who blasted through Ferneyhough's La Chute d'Icare and Messiaen's Oiseaux Exotiques respectively. The Ferneyhough sounded appropriately hairy, while the Messiaen was appropriately raucous and/or sensitive in the right ways and places.

My favorite arrangements were by Archie Carey and Richard Valitutto. Carey stretched out the first few bars of Charlie Parker's Bird of Paradise into a nice spectral sounding orchestral piece. Valitutto's arrangement of an Andrew Bird song filtered it through Messiaen's gestural and harmonic tenacity, occasionally reverting back to the plain harmonic language of the singer/songwriter/whistler. Conductor Christopher Rountree's arrangements of "Hayden" and Parker bookended the evening, brimming with personality. The arrangements by Mike Shapiro were more straight ahead, you might say indie pops.

Kallmyer's piece involved field recordings of birds, over which the ensemble played intriguing post-ambient textures. Menzies' Double Tui (named after a bird from New Zealand) used the same instrumentation as Oiseaux Exotiques, augmented by rain sticks, boom boxes, and some theatricality involving players walking on and off stage. There was a lot of interesting attention paid to sonic detail.

Overall it was a very fun concert, though the seating arrangement at the Armory left something to be desired. Looking forward to hearing more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Big Beautiful Dark and Scary

If you haven't seen it already, the new Bang on a Can All-Stars album is up on their website, and you can download it for free for a few more days! 

I like it - there are some really great moments (which I'll let you find on your own).

There's also an interesting Nancarrow arrangement, too. If you're into Bang on a Can (which I am), you'll like this double album. All of the usual suspects are represented: David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Louis Andriessen, Evan Ziporyn...

If you're not, it's at least worth checking out the Nancarrow. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

the wulf. @ MOCA

Here's a great video from July 3, when the wulf. took over MOCA for a day! All of the usual wulf. suspects are in there, masterminded by Madison Brookshire. It was an exciting day of experimental music everywhere, surrounded by art.

I had 2 pieces involved: my accordion ensemble, Free Reed Conspiracy, played my piece Neotrope. I also displayed my two 100-movement music boxes. Though the music boxes didn't make the video, Free Reed Conspiracy did.

From the youtube video description:
"On July 3, 2011, MOCA Sunday Studio invited downtown experimental arts organization the wulf. to organize an afternoon of performances and interactive sound pieces in the museum in order to highlight the use of sound in the exhibition William Leavitt: Theater Objects. For 3 hours, 32 composers and performers associated with the wulf. transformed the permanent collection, Reading Room, ARCO Court and Sculpture Plaza with 20 different performances and installations ranging from an accordion octet to a dry ice percussion ensemble.

Featuring performances and pieces by Casey Anderson, Dicky Bahto, Matt Barbier, Ezra Buchla, Eric KM Clark, Scott Cazan, Daniel Corral, Corey Fogel, Carlos Inderhees, Heather Lockie, Liam Mooney, Larry Polansky, Alan Nakagawa, Wolfgang von Schweinitz, Mark So, Laura Steenberge, Luke Storm, Christine Tavolacci, Tashi Wada, Colin Wambsgans, Michael Winter and Harris Wulfson.

More information about the the wulf. can be found at

Video by Benjamin Rodkin."