Friday, January 16, 2009

Neon Brown Presents: "Ninja Poodles On Beets"!

Set 1 51 megs
Set 2 23 megs

Here it is: the first NBP of 2009, and the first new Juggler's Challenge Revival episode since July! Two sets in two unedited clips. The lineup for this one was a quartet of John Beezer (Direct Guitar), TQ Berg (Electric Guitar), Dennis Jolin (Drums) and Me Woods ("Bass" -- really an octavized bass-amplified plank-tuned guitar). I'd been feeling pleasantly low-energy for most of the afternoon and was starting to waffle on doing the usual Juggler's Challenge elements, but with the house nearly-full at 8pm, it was clear that some sort of audience-interaction was called for. Trying to split the difference with my mellow energy, I just gave the whiteboards out to the Challengers with very little briefing (maybe mentioning something about lyrics and pictures). Before 10 minutes had passed (usually the first input has to be pried out of their hands at around 20, at which point things start picking up) there was already a full set of lyrics and most of another.

The band worked really well with each other right from the start, leaking out a seamless stream of endlessly morphing wide-panned uplifting melancholia. Space and emotional-texture was the order of the evening. So great to have TQ back again! Originally known to me as a bassist, he's a long-time collaborator -- since at least 1995...? -- and has always been a musician with a truly unique earpoint, but I've got to say his guitar playing, which he started seriously much more recently has gotten to be amazing, especially his ability to improvise effectively in his own unique voice. Beezer made another step in his gradual transition to a full-blown Electric Guitar appearance by standing up and somehow making completely clean guitar the lushest sound in the room. And Jolin was fantastic on his first NBP-turn on drums, rolling out waves of organic groove, even around my muddy bass loops! With the huge variety of instruments he plays, you can expect to see lots more of him too in the coming year.

Near the end of the first set, I thought perhaps we'd do something for just one more white-board of lyrics but during the beginning of that movement one of my FX pedals suddenly turned off and then on again. Mysteriously, I couldn't get any sound again... Eventually, amidst the faint smell of fireworks, I noticed that my power-amp wasn't lit up anymore. I'm assuming the smell was the mini-mushroom-cloud from its sudden demise (a great excuse to finally get a decent bass-head...?). I plugged into the PA for the second set.

The Chai House had switched bookers again and there was no posted title for the evening. When somebody came up to the bar while we were setting up and asked what was up for the evening, the barista and I whipped up "Ninja Poodles on Beets" -- which actually isn't too bad as NBP titles go! There were a few riffs on it right at the top of the show and a couple other times when things slowed down, but clearly -- as with the copious audience input -- there was lots more there left un-mined.

Set 2 includes a sharp and timely "tribute" to the Bush years by guest-vocalist Brian (don't know his last name...perhaps Beezer can add it in the comments here). I didn't even know what he was singing about at the time, but on the recording it's plenty clear and -- I though -- hilarious.

The Challengers gradually expanded their lyrical input, embedding some crazy drawings (including one -- which I wish I'd been able to photograph before it was erased -- of a bulging-eyed demon barfing out various words) and even a masterful board where the words and the art seemed to fuse into a single abstract musical score (photo here). Looking at it again, I realize my riffs on this last one really just began to taste the tip of the juice-berg.

In closing this gargantuan post (perhaps I need a self-imposed word-limit), I'd like to again encourage you all to add any of your own recollections or comments here in the 'comments' so that more than my own ramblings are part of the context for listeners who weren't there and even for those who were, should they come back to this post in the distant future.

Thanks for listening!

(in addition to the other sets posted below, there are still a few of the older shows up at )