Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This week (my week) at SXSW

When the dust settled from booking SXSW and Beyond shows I was surprised to find that starting this Thursday (tomorrow!) I’m playing 6 out of the next 8 nights in various capacities.  Since my natural state is tour-mode I’m extra excited since this is the closest thing to a tour I’ve been on since Sofakindom took the West Coast and our livers by storm back in ’05 (neither coast organs have been the same since).

The hot, hot dates!

Thursday, 3/15
Big Star Tribute
I’m playing in a small orchestra (with maestro Brent Baldwin at the helm) as part of a SXSW recreation of legendary indie band Big Star’s album Third.  As I have learned, Big Star was a huge influence on R.E.M. so as I play timpani, steel drum, and cowbell this Thursday at the Paramount actual members of R.E.M. will comprise the orchestra’s rock and roll section (historically, which emerged shortly after the demise of the basso continuo keyboard conductor in the classical era, famously rising to prominence as Beethoven’s hearing diminished).
But seriously, whoa. Actual famous rock star dudes.
Check it out here.

Friday. 3/16
Nonclassical Records Showcase
This year, London’s Nonclassical label joined forces with local boys done good Fast Forward Austin for an intercontinental indie-classical love-in featuring line upon line, Bel Coure, Peter Gregson (UK), P. Kellach Waddle and more.
For my part I’m performing Tristan Perich’s Observations with Adam Bedell (line upon line), a work for amplified sculpture by Lisa Coons wherin I alternately caress and assault a spiny hunk of twisted, welded rebar with all manner of implements, and Ian Dicke’s throwback loop-romp Eight Oh Eight.

Saturday, 3/17
Innova Records Showcase
It’s high time I met the nice folks at Innova Records because they are from Minnesota and so am I.  Hell, my mom is from St. Paul, where Innova is based.  Well, I finally get my chance when I sit in on drums with Austin renegade classical heroes Golden Hornet Project as we put the “rok” in Prokofiev.  I am really excited that also on that show are the masterfully innovative composer-performers Sxip Shirey and Todd Reynolds: Fiddle Wizard.  Does the fun ever stop?  No, it does not and please don’t talk with your mouth full of tacos like that.

Sunday, 3/18
Texas Lutheran University Perucssion Festival
This marks the first of 3 post-SXSW university stops.  The TLU visit is an especially exciting reunion since I was on faculty there, teaching percussion before I moved to the East Coast for love. These things happen, but I’m really excited to see the gang again. 
Again, I’ll play music by Tristan Perich, Lisa Coons, and Ian Dicke, but also Javier Alvarez, and Steve Snowden.  Professor Bedell has put together a great festival lineup of line upon line, Chris Lizak working his marimba magic, and the percussion groups of TLU and UT Austin.  So many old drum friends in one place it’s unreal.

Wednesday, 3/21
University of Texas San Antonio
I’m taking my electro-percussion show for a visit to my dear friend and Prince Edward Island native Dr. Graeme Francis and the UTSA percussion studio for a recital and open discussion about commissioning works and collaborating with composers.

Thursday, 3/22
Southwestern University
The final salvo in This Wild Week brings me to Southwestern University, where the wonderful Erin Martysz hosts me for a recital.  Of note is that Ian Dicke himself is also on faculty at SU, lending EXTRA GRAVITAS to my performance of his piece.

So if you’re in Austin come out to a show and say hi!  Or, can find me Saturday afternoon at Lovejoy’s, furiously bobbing my head at the Brooklyn Vegan heavy metal extravaganza.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dual Loves: College Hoops and SXSW

 Some thoughtful thoughts as I plunge headlong into this year's South by Southwest festival.  
     Sporting isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind as one journeys forth to the cultural din of SXSW.   However, this year I’m considering similarities between two distinct worlds of March Madness, only one of which involves basketball.  Obviously, SXSW and the NCAA’s Annual Platform for Really Good Beer Commercials occur simultaneously, but underneath that coincidence lies a number of oddly unifying factors.  Each have an official selection process, although the real fun of SXSW are the innumerable and free unofficial shows attached to the festival like an iceberg’s bulk floating beneath the surface.  Fans pore over venue and show listings, charting their daily course through music, food, and booze as fervently as those who fill out basketball tournament brackets making agonizing decisions along the way about whether the 8 or 9 seeded team will come through in the first round, with the office money pool at stake.   
     For the players, both hold an opportunity to make it to the big leagues--to get noticed above the noise and be drafted by a small market NBA franchise or a major label.  But for most rockers and ballers alike it’s not as much a grab for glory as it is a chance to make much ado about having fun living in the moment, whether drunk on the camaraderie of hoops or Hornitos.  Each has their Cinderella stories of plucky 16 seeds that make the hallowed Final Four, or nobody bands propelled to sleazy stardom by the right combination of talent, buzz, and posturing.   
     64 teams. 2,000 bands. OK, that last statistic throws off my game, but each event represents the pinnacle of zeal and fanaticism for music and sports in America.  During March enthusiasm knows no bounds.  Ultimately, in the Final Four there is only one champion crowned, one net cut down (or do all Final Four goers do that?), whereas one could argue that at SXSW everybody wins, at least until you find yourself back at work the Monday after sleep deprived, sick as a dog, with irreversible hearing loss.