Friday, March 22, 2013

Bach In the Subways Day - Year 3

So today was the 3rd Bach in the Subways Day - in celebration of Bach's Birthday!!

It was quite an experience...

Last year, the highlight for me was hanging out w/ Eric Edberg, my cello friend, and getting to see some of the other performers... including a really progressive jazz Bass player who basically improvised on impressions of Bach (which actually inspired my performances this year)

I'm not sure how much my Bach has really improved much since then (except that I can play faster now, so I can have more fun w/ tempo fluctuations... and my intonation is better) .. but like last year, I left feeling like there was value in Bach that I'd forgotten & that perhaps I should go practice Bach some more...

This year I retreated even further underground to the NQR Platform at Union Sq. (last year, I was on the main level) ... and I decided to do things a bit differently this year... I strapped the cello on to myself (still have some kinks to work out with that...) and incorporated my loop station & improvised a little bit... so I had fun telling people "I don't usually strap a cello to myself, and I don't usually play classical music" ... I also had fun telling the people from the NY Post about how Bach was definitely an influence on Cliff Burton/in some of early Metallica's work (with Call of Cthulu being a great example)... That didn't make it to the article they wrote up -

Lately I've been thinking about my attitude towards classical music... I've developed a somewhat antagonistic attitude towards the classical community (and subconsciously to some of the music), but now I'm starting to approach (what I hope is) a more mature way of looking at things, where I'd like to find (or create) the bridges between what I do & what they do, and encourage more people to cross those, and build their own, and just as importantly, encourage myself to grow from what the other side of the bridge has to offer. ... this desire comes from three things: 1.  Reading an interview with Lindsey Stirling in Strings Magazine.  2.  Reading Speaker For the Dead, in which Pipo admonishes Novinha that you aren't defined by the communities that you're not a part of, but instead by the communities you are a part of (paraphrasing) ... a lesson I've been beginning to learn over the last few years... I do everything the hard way! :p  3.  A feeling that I've had (which came up in conversation with my buddies from You Bred Raptors) that there really aren't a lot of resources out there for Rock string players (the way there's say Bass Player Magazine, or Modern Drummer, etc., etc.) ... there's basically just Strings Magazine & the New Directions Cello Site (and fb group), and maybe a few other things scattered here & there... I want to help change that... but I can't do it if I'm JUST off in my own world, doing my music thing

I didn't get a chance to see the other musicians this year, unfortunately, because I had to go teach afterwards ... but hopefully next year I'll be able to catch things a bit more

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Self-Consciousness In Music

I was watching this Joni Mitchell video earlier, and it struck me that basically everything I've watched from the 70s has this sort of free-spiritedness/freedom or even innocence if you will ... it's very un-self-conscious ... I think in the 80s, that got replaced with being unappologetic ... and now we are in the era of hyper-self consciousness over music and video...

I was also watching this Steven Wilson Interview earlier, and he was commenting on how with modern pop music, not only is musicianship downplayed (for the sake of highlighting the vocal line), but the parts that are there have been squeaked and edited to perfection... and perfection is boring...

I think he's very spot on...

I've also been thinking about Amanda Palmer lately, between the TED Talk & just listening to her music a bit more... it's still not really my thing, but I'm starting to understand more what people like about her... I think one of the aspects is that she's incredibly unappologetic or frank in her live performances... it's also interesting to see how she talks about everything in her blog, and it's clear how it's all relevant...

I was also listening to Simple Gifts performed by Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Kraus ... if there's one area of music that is incredibly conscious of *everything* all the time, it's classical music ... I think that's reflected in their version ... but I think the words of Simple Gifts relate to the point I'm getting out of the other 2 videos:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right

I'm going to strive for that same sense of freedom and lack of self-consciousness in my performing .... just "Hi, I'm here, doin' my thing... be here with me :) " sort of attitude

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tales From The Road #7 - Upstate with The Rose West & and Back Home with Eli August

So last weekend brought me upstate with The Rose West ... it was a really great weekend ... We journeyed up to the band's in Glens Falls to play at The Hudson River Music Hall.  Hudson River Music Hall is a very awesome venue run by musicians & artists for musicians & artists and was by far the loveliest place to play at.

We got to the venue pretty early (for once), which was really nice, b/c we had time to properly set up (and it was here that things first began to go awry for me) ... during setup it turned out that my 1/4 to 1/8th cable for my cello was crapping out & that I needed a 2nd one for my keyboards ... so we sent a friend to get some cables at the local music store... only it turned the local music store was closed, and he had to stop by Radio Shack & get some very low-quality 1/8th inch cables and then adaptors... yikes!!  Those were so short that I had to actually strap my tuning pedal *to my cello* (it would then later come off when I rocked out too much during The Mechanic)... on top of that, the Keyboards kept disappearing, and the organ pedal was getting all this noise & mucking everything up... add to that the fact that we had worked out the keyboard rig, vocal harmonies & decided I was gonna play accordion on Feria Cinerum 2 days before... it was a recipe for chaos... I trooped through it though, and the rest of the band played awesomely & the crowd was great

Playing Accordion on stage for the first time in my life

That moment when your cello life says "Let's be crazy" & you say "Yeah, let's do this!"

For me, the highlight of the night was seeing Anthime Miller ... A cellist singer-songwriter ... he did a lot of badass covers, and some originals.  It was a really inspiring set!!  I've seen and heard tons of cellists over the years ... very few play as if they are deeply in love with their instrument ... this guy played with heart & style & with the technique of a true bad ass ... I felt like I had simultaneously met a kindred spirit & found someone whose greatness I could aspire to (I even got to try his ancient cello later in the evening ... what a *beautiful* instrument)...

Anthime Miller - Bad Ass Cellist & the highlight of my night

Cello Robare... just doesn't have the same ring to it...

The rest of the weekend involved great conversation & food, and hanging out in the woods by Alex's Folks ... we shot rifles, which was an interesting experience for me (having never held a gun in my life before) ... not something I think I'm likely to fall in love with, but definitely glad to have tried...

So that was last weekend ... this weekend I came back home and played with Eli August for the CD Release... we were originally supposed to play in Massachussetts the night, however the show was cancelled due to hazardous weather, so Alas, it was just New York ...

NYC more than made up for it... Brooklyn Fireproof was where it was at!!  We had a really strong turnout & everyone was dancing, clapping, singing or cheering along ... the band was tight, everyone was having fun ... Baroque & Hungry opened & were amazing fun as usual... I started some clapping mayhem during their set (assisted by Robare) ... I started some clapping mayhem during our set (again assisted by Robare) ... B&H joined us for a song during our set, with great affect ... So many of the Steampunk Family came out ... proceeds went to the NY 19th Century Society's educational programming (who helped sponsor the event) ... Through my Ninja Cam, I learned that I can play a set drunk & without monitors & still play well (Important things to know)... all in all, a really fun & *amazing* night

Some pics from the show (taken by a friend):

Baroque & Hungry joined us for the Behemoth version of Eli August & The Abandoned Buildings

You can't tell, but I was making a <3 symbol w/ my hands...

Here's some photos from the rehearsal that preceded the show:

I missed Alex in this one... he was probably drinking anyway...

Robare playing accordion while Mell writes out lyrics for Eli

Catch ya on the road!!