Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Neon Brown Presents: "Abstract Imperialism"!

Set 1 47 megs 
Set 2 30 megs
Here's something that was rare even back in the days when Adrian was doing these with me regularly: an all-improv loop-driven set with just the two of us!  I'd been doing a similar thing with Denali Williams in our all-improv duo Bicuspid, and had even played a couple of great shows in a similar format this Fall with Paul Turner (which I still need to post here at some point).  However, for me the real genesis for this format clearly lies in 'neon brown' and especially an all-improvised show that Adrian and I did in Portland a couple of years ago.  In that particularly-magical show (tragically, not recorded), we played well over an hour of some of my favorite music of all time -- mostly just loop-jamming but often re-interpreting lyrics from across our catalogue over whatever was happening musically at the moment.  This still ranks as one of my favorite shows ever, and I've always looked forward to the opportunity to try the format with Adrian again.  

Well this past Wednesday (December 10th) we finally managed to arrange something similar for the last 'Neon Brown Presents' of the year, and while we're perhaps not quite as fluid as we were two years ago, there were stil plenty of magical moments.  Adrian brought out his beautiful rolled-steel kit along with his usual side-car of electronics/FX.  I played my favorite electric 6-string, split right off the bat by a new panning/volume pedal which allows me to arbitrarily control how much goes to each of my two looping/FX rigs -- all resulting in a wide stereo sound with lots of looping-options.  
The first set starts really nicely and has plenty of comfy grooves, some great aggressively-polymetric syncopation-jams, and even a couple of ugly spontaneous re-works of recent 'neon brown' tunes (near the end of the set, it just seemed like time for some lyrics).  But the second set is where things really began to gel and the weirdness really surfaced in a beautiful way with an extended Ween-like tune (Bunny, Kitty, and Horsey's Revenge) and the strangely-compelling grooves that surrounded it. 

(unedited clips right there at the top of this by Robert Kirkpatrick)

ps. Older postings still available for a limited time at the old JOTW page.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Neon Brown Presents: "Full of Life and Turkey"!

Alrighty, here's the first posting of music in this new location!
Set1A 13.6 megs
Set1B 38 megs
Set 2 49.1 megs

The November 26th show was a great example of what the Woodland Acoustic Orchestra has been like recently: A couple of scheduled musicians, supplemented by walk-in regulars, and even a couple of unknown first-timers sprinkled in for good measure.  ...all held together by some collective thread that seems to make itself alternately obscure and tangible to each participant.

Our yearly Thanksgiving Eve's show always has its own special energy.  This year, with the Chai House closed on Thursday (the usual open-mic night), they'd made some effort to move the open-mic to immediately before us.  We were still the only thing listed on the web-calendar, but the open-mic was listed as the only thing on the printed schedule for Weds.  Low-grade confusion gently rippled the waters and set the stage for a great confluence of attention (and a very enjoyable intermission of open-mic performances). 

With most of the scheduled musicians still MIA, Willaim Precht (Tabla and Dumbek) and I (Plank-Tuned 6-String) mic'd up the tabla that somebody had left onstage there and began slightly after 8 with a short movement of just Guitar and Percussion.  This was the first time I'd heard William on percussion -- knowing him more for his guitar-work in & ampersand -- and I was immediately blown away by his playing.  At the time I was somewhat disappointed with my own, but listening back it seems that what I felt as lack of strong momentum on my part comes off more as tasteful reserve :).  I really like how this section plays in the recording.  

Things just kept growing from there as John Beezer showed up and plugged his Electric Guitar straight into the PA, along with Chris Powers (who I believe you can hear joining in un-mic'd at the end of the short first clip) in only his second NBP appearance (after his walk-in debut 2 weeks earlier on elecric).  Chris also provides great rootsy vocals for extended movements near the end of each set.  Slightly later, we were joined by Zach (don't know his last name or even if I'm spelling his first correctly) on harmonica.  Early in set 2 there was even a 4th guitarist that I've never met before (and have sadly already forgotten his name...apparently he's an open-mic regular...?...perhaps if you know who this was, or what Zach's last name is, you can add that in the comments here, along with any other observations/comments!) who drove an anthemic chord-change-based movement with some great urgent low-chording.  

(unedited clips)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Replacing The 'Jam of the Week' Page

Hey All!  Before I start using this space for its planned purpose -- to share the very newest recordings of whatever has happened with my many fantastic musical friends and I most recently-- I thought perhaps I should acknowledge the amazing scope of musical experience that its predecessor page has hosted.   

The 'Jam of the Week' Modular Album Page came into being sometime in the mid-late 90's (perhaps '96?), on the website of my first extensively-improvising group, the 3-piece Jazz/Buttrock Fusion unit, "hEEnD".  Like the various composed projects that followed and continued to fill the page (the short-lived-but-fruitful 5-piece "Falling Down Time" and the two-piece "Neon Brown"), this group did at least as much improvising as regurgitation of written material at both rehearsals and shows.  We recorded most of it (leading to a serious VHS-tape storage problem) and even got around to editing down some of the more memorable sections.  In the early days, due to our limited storage space, we would put up a single hyper-edited 3 to 5 minute clip.  In later years, as our growing improvisation and engineering skills increased  the listenability of the raw-recordings, our output became unmanageably large, and our patience for editing waned in direct proportion to our increasing appreciation for 'the unvarnished jam', we began posting longer and longer clips.  
Even in the early years special guests would appear on these recordings from time to time, but eventually, Adrian and I (neon brown), began hosting twice-monthly shows at Mr. Spot's Chai House in Ballard (Neon Brown Presents:).  At these shows, we would play at least one set entirely improvised, joined by 1-3 invited special guests.  The free-formity has gone even further in past two years -- as Adrian has resettled in Portland -- with me continuing to host these shows in various acoustic, electric, and audience-interactive formats.  Different lineups every show.  All improvised for both sets.  Most of the time now, I'll just post the full show unedited, but sometimes I've done some more extreme editing and multitracking of material from these shows, and I'll usually post these too.  And things *continue* to evolve.  So for fans of the 'Jam of the Week' page, there should be lots more of the (un)same great material to be presented here as our musical adventures continue together.

I'm moving the page to a blog format mostly to enable my fellow musical travelers to add their own entries to the diary of our journey in the comments here (I can't believe I didn't realize that this needed to be done earlier!).  That means you!: musicians, listeners, etc...  Please use the comments to say a little something about *your* experience of the particular show/recording.  

And I'm reluctantly changing the name of the page from 'Jam of the Week' to 'FREELAB (Floating-Roster Ever-Evolving Live-Album Blog), to avoid confusion with the now very popular hip-hop 'Jam of the Week' page.  

Okay, that's it for now...  Check out the older recordings while they're still there at and look for the new stuff to start arriving here soon! 

thanks for listening,